The majority of rules used will be referenced from E6: The Game Inside D&D.
The most pertinent information will be transcribed below.
The suggested four distinct quartiles of play.
Φ Levels 1-5: Gritty fantasy
Φ Levels 6-10: Heroic fantasy
Φ Levels 11-15: Wuxia
Φ Levels 16-20: Superheroes
The Skuld E.VII campaign falls under the heading of heroic fantasy.
How E6 works
Like d20, E6 is a game of enigmatic wizards, canny rogues, and mighty warriors who rise against terrible dangers and overcome powerful foes. But instead of using d20’s 20 levels to translate characters into the rules, E6 uses only the first 6. E6 is about changing one of d20’s essential assumptions, but it doesn’t need a lot of rules to make that change.
To understand E6, imagine the perspective of the average medieval peasant in a d20 game. This person has the stats of a 1st-level commoner, and while they might not know their stats explicitly, they know their relation to the rest of the world. Our peasant knows that he can be killed quite easily by marauding raiders, enemy soldiers, or even wild animals. He’s not mighty, he’s not organized, and he doesn’t have any special skills to bring to bear when danger strikes. He worries about drought and flood, and the welfare of his livestock. His extended family likely all lives within a mile of his birthplace. To him, a trip to a town ten miles off is an expedition into the unknown.
Imagine you are this peasant, and you meet a trio of 6th-level adventurers. When you address the wizard, you are speaking to someone who could incinerate your home and slay all your livestock with a few words. The fighter has prevailed against a dozen orcish skirmishers and slain them all – and he could do the same again. The cleric is a man so holy that the gods themselves have granted him the power to cure the sick and heal the wounded. These are epic heroes.
Now consider the powers of a CR 5 manticore. To the peasant, the appearance of this manticore near the village isn’t a nuisance: the beast can, and likely will slay you in seconds if you draw its attention. You, your livestock, and your entire family are in immediate danger of violent death. Even if you were well armed and gathered a large peasant militia, your village faces heavy losses and no guarantee of success. Against such a creature, adventurers may be your only hope. E6 recognizes that 6th level characters are mortal, while re-framing the game’s perspective to create a context where those same 6th level characters are epic heroes.
What levels mean in E6
Levels 1 to 6 are a period when a character comes into his own, and a crash course in action and danger transforms them from 1st-level commoners to veteran adventurers (or corpses). Once transformed by their experiences, a character’s growth is no longer a continuous, linear progression. Instead, they specialize or broaden their abilities: There are still major differences between the master warriors and the veteran mercenaries, but it’s not a change of scale. This change in progression, which we see frequently in fantasy literature, is modeled through the acquisition of feats.
Character progression from level 1 to level 6 is as per d20. Upon attaining 6th level, for each 5000 experience a character gains, they earn a new feat.
Skuld E.VIII will progress characters to 8th level and no further. One feat will be assigned ad hoc per adventure the characters complete.
A diverse selection of feats should be made available in any E6 campaign, however, feats with unattainable prerequisites under this system remain unattainable.
For the purpose of experience awards, treat each 5 feats as +1 CR (or level), to an upper limit of 20 feats. After this, it becomes more and more difficult to bring all a character’s feats to bear in a given situation; although they continue to gain feats, 6th level characters with more than 20 feats can continue to be treated as if they were level 10 for experience and challenge purposes.
Monsters and Items in E6
Just as level 6 parties in d20 aren’t expected to tangle with monsters higher than CR 10, the mighty monsters of E6 require special consideration for presentation in-game. E6 characters aren’t intended to go up against high-level d20 threats under the same circumstances as high-level d20 characters; those creatures, if they are defeatable at all, require the kind of resources and planning far beyond the typical d20 dungeon encounter.
In terms of raw rules, CR 7-10 monsters are an excellent guide for what 6th level characters can handle. As a party approaches 6th level plus 20 feats, that range also increases, and PCs are able to fight monsters with base CRs in the range of CR 9 to 12, or larger groups of lower-level monsters. If a campaign continues beyond this point (and congratulations, because that’s a lot of gaming) a GM should take monsters in the CR 7-12 range and use feats (and to a lesser extent templates) to advance them. Hit die or class-based advancement beyond CR 12, or base monsters above CR 12 should generally be avoided as straight-up fights in any E6 campaign.
Of course, not every monstrous encounter is a straight-up fight. For example, insane horrors from another age might be a reason to run, and there is little a character could do in the face of an angry Titan. But these situations don’t call for direct confrontation, except with some special resource or amazing circumstance. Perhaps, in a special ritual with the presence of 20 mages, a Titan can be bound to the mortal realm (lowering its stats to a Hill Giant with the spells of a 6th-level sorcerer), with whom the players can do battle. Again, that’s far from a straight-up fight with a CR 20 creature, but we can console ourselves with the fact that it’s probably a very memorable encounter.
Items follow a similar approach. If, as a result of the restrictions on items, an item cannot be created, then it should not be distributed as normal treasure. Like high-level monsters, such items should be placed carefully and built to make sense in the context of your game. For example, a +4 sword is an amazing artifact in this setting, perhaps even made by the gods: It’s a sword no mortal could make.