Minor Course Adjustment: Using the 5th Edition SRD

Last week Wizards of the Coast announced big news by publishing the System Reference Document for the 5th edition D&D rules under Open Game License. This caused some discussion within the Ironcore Engine development team, and between me and Hans. This opened a new window for us with some very interesting possibilities.

The latest version of Ironcore Engine is in many ways already quite close to 5th edition rules, so it did not seem like a big leap to make Ironcore 5th edition compatible. Still, we decided to keep on developing Ironcore with Chthonian Highways on its own track, but make a conversion for the 5th edition rules for Hyperstorm. Or an adaptation of the 5th edition SRD, however you see it.

Yet Another 5th Edition Setting?

First of all: Our aim is not to make just a quick and dirty copy & paste job of the SRD, but to add our own contribution to the system so it feels like a space opera RPG while still being compatible with other 5th ed material.


What’s Changing?

We aim to maintain the same feel and the core mechanics of the Ironcore Engine and integrate them into the 5th edition rules. There are some fundamental differences that require compromises or more extensive changes, but most of the core is the same:

  • Ironcore Engine: roll d20, add modifiers, compare to difficulty number.
  • 5th edition SRD: roll d20, add modifiers, compare to difficulty number.

Both use also Advantages/Edges and Disadvantage/Handicaps in a similar way. Dungeons & Dragons even has Inspiration which is already quite close to Pushing in Ironcore. What we need to fit into the SRD rule set are Pushing, Momentum and Strain. As the base is already so similar this is not too difficult and we are quite confident that we will make this work.

We will also make some adjustment to the character creation and development, expand rules for using firearms and high-tech armor and portable energy shield and space travel, for example.

Our aim is to do this with out adding too many new rules, but to use the existing base and expand on that. For example, energy shields provide Temporary Hit Points, heavy power armors provide damage resistances and invulnerabilities, energy weapons have new properties, and so on.

How Does This Affect the Game Development?

We see this only as a positive thing. We get to use rules that are well tested and received already with 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons and use those rules under the OGL. This will save us a lot of work related to the basic system – which is basically the same anyway – and concentrate on finalizing the features that we have already tested with Ironcore Engine. What come to sharing the Hyperstorm’s rules under OGL, that’s not a problem. We planned to share the Ironcore rules as open content anyway.

There is also the marketing perspective to this. Regardless of the fact that we have established ourselves quite well in the Finnish RPG scene, we are still fairly unknown outside Finland. Using a well-known rules system, like Dungeons & Dragons rules, makes it much easier for the new players to try Hyperstorm. Even though Hyperstorm’s rules will not be 100% same as in the SRD, we want to maintain a certain level of compatibility, so that it will be possible to take a creature, race or an artifact, for example, from another book or setting and use it in Hyperstorm.

All in all, things are getting very interesting and we hope to have something to show you within the next few months.


UPDATE 1/22/2016: Added the section “Yet Another 5th Edition Setting?” 

UPDATE 22/07/2016: Updated the rules changes based on current design.


  1. Mark edwards

    January 22, 2016

    Wow, ANOTHER 5th Ed setting? If I’d have known this initially there’s no way I would have backed it. I like to support new and creative systems rather than the same old thing in a new package…

    • Miska author

      January 22, 2016

      Thanks for the comment and I think I understand your concern.

      First of all: Our aim is not to make just a quick and dirty copy & paste job of the SRD, but to add our own contribution to the system and make it look fresh while still being compatible with other 5th ed material.

      I believe I understand how you feel. I had a bit same feeling with all the d20 setting that came out a few years back, and that was when I started to lose my interest in the d20 system altogether. But, recently I have familiarized myself with some games that are derived from d20 system, but still very original and interesting, like 13th Age, for example.

      As said in the post, Ironcore and 5ed systems were already very close to each other. What this means in practice is that we take what works with Ironcore, bring some rules more closer to each other for better compatibility and modify what we don’t like. If this leads us in the end to a system that is poorly compatible with 5th edition, so be it. Our primary goal is to make the rules fit the setting and convey a certain gameplay experience.

      And yes, we could have kept quiet about this (it might have been even a good idea), but I think it’s fair for everyone who reads this dev diary to know where we are heading and personally I like to be transparent about our choices and reasoning for different decisions.

      (I added this to the original post, because I feel that this might be what many others are thinking also)

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