Mass Effect 5e - Player's Handbook

Player's Handbook Introduction



Learning the basics

This handbook uses the current Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition System Reference Document (SRD) as its core rule set. If you have never played D&D 5e, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the basic rules of that system. Wizards of the Coast has a fantastic basic rules section where you can download the PDF or read online for free. It also has a basic rules section for Dungeon Masters. Additionally, there are plenty of other free, online resources which you can find by searching for "5th edition SRD".

Brand New Material

The classes, races, and spells are completely new in Mass Effect 5e. If you are reading the SRD in order to learn how to play Mass Effect 5e you can skip those section of the SRD and skip to the sections of the same name in this Player's Handbook.

Changes and additions

Once you have a general understanding of the 5th Edition rules, you'll want to look at our rule changes:

This section gives you an overview of the general rule changes. You might consider this the "miscellaneous" category.
This section gives you an overview of the changes in combat, which are mostly additions. It contains information about Shields, Primers and Detonators, and Barriers.
A major feature of D&D are the spells. Since there isn't 'magic' in Mass Effect, our spell list is converted into biotics, tech powers, and combat devices. The spellcasting rules will explain how these three types of 'spells' are utilized in the system.
A huge addition is the massive increase in ranged weapons, specifically firearms. The addition of the Mass Effect arsenal required some adjustments to combat and how attacks with ranged weapons are made. There are still melee weapons available, and some subclasses excel at melee combat. However, in the world of Mass Effect, ranged weapons are the default choice for combatants.
The other major addition is the expansion of how armor works. Instead of a full suit of armor, ME5e allows players to don armor of different types on different parts of the body, resulting in an array of Armor Class (AC) possibilities. The other change is that armor can be modified to increase its stats and grant additional features.
In this section we'll outline currency, buying and selling items, and provide some guidelines for setting the cost of items and lifestyle expenses.
We've replaced some 5th Edition skills with sci-fi flavored versions.
We've added a few conditions to accommodate certain spells and weapon types.

Variant Rules

Occasionally, you'll see a rule preceded by the word "Variant". This means the rule is optional. In some cases, it may replace an existing rule. For example, the Variant: Encumbrance rule replaces the standard Lifting & Carrying rules.

In other instances, the rule may be completely ignored. For example, the Paragon & Renegade system adds rules for utilizing paragon and renegade points. While this adds a nice touch of flavor from the original Mass Effect trilogy, it is not required for this system to work, and it can safely be left out of your campaign if desired.

Character creation and leveling

Once you've got a sense of the base 5th Edition rules and the ME5e rule changes, you're ready to dive into the character creation options. ME5e doesn't change anything about the basic process of character creation and leveling, only the specific options available to you, so you can follow the steps in the SRD to create your character. Finally, you can keep track of your character information with our custom character sheet.

For quick reference:

  1. Choose a race
  2. Choose a class
  3. Choose a background
  4. Roll for ability scores
  5. Choose your starting equipment
  6. Choose any feats provided by your class
  7. Choose any skill proficiencies afforded to you by your race, class, or background
  8. Use the class progression tables to level-up your character

As explained in the 5th Edition SRD, character creation starts with choosing a race and a class. We've done our best to translate the iconic classes of Mass Effect into versions compatible with 5e rules. 5th edition veterans will likely notice that some class features are re-skinned or ported versions of their 5th edition counterparts. In general, we try to keep the rules as similar as possible with 5th edition to avoid any balancing issues.

Class limitations on races

Another minor change is that not every race can be any class. The simple reason is that not all races have intrinsic biotic abilities, thus, it doesn't make much sense for them to become adepts or vanguards. However, this is a general guideline and can certainly be disregarded at your Galaxy Master's discretion. If you want to play a Quarian Vanguard, and your GM gives you the OK, then, by all means, you should!

Starting your campaign

Once you've assembled a group of players and characters are made, it's time to start your campaign. Other than following the rule changes, there isn't anything special about running a Mass Effect 5e campaign. In later versions, we hope to introduce additional Variant rules for space travel and ship-to-ship combat, but this isn't required to get started.

For information about the Mass Effect universe, we recommend consulting the Mass Effect Wiki.

Web app tools

In addition to being your Player's Handbook, this website has some other helpful tools. We are constantly working to refine these tools and add new ones!

NPC Generator
If there aren't enough options in the bestiary, or you just want to spin up some random NPCs, the Grunt Generator can quickly create NPCs with Challenge Ratings (CR) from 1/8 to 12. All weapons, powers, and traits are randomly generated, but damage output and health are kept within your selected CR boundary. For GMs, this is also a great way to provide new weapons for your players, as they can loot the remains of the enemy.
Loot Generator
You can use the loot generator to quickly create randomly generated rewards. These results are similar to rolling for loot in the DMG, but with much less effort.
Weapons, grenades, spells, and monsters can all be bookmarked by clicking on the "Bookmark" button on the bottom of their info card. This will save the item so it's quick accessible in the bookmarks page for quick reference.

What is Challenge Rating?

Challenge Rating (or "CR" for short) is a measurement of how powerful a monster or NPC is. It is intended to help GM's control the difficulty of combat encounters (although new GMs will quickly learn this can be more art that science. For more information on Challenge Ratings, see the Combat Encounter Difficulty. section of the SRD.

Questions and feedback

Check out the contributing page for all information on leaving questions and feedback.