The System Reference Document, or SRD, is a set of reference role playing game mechanics licensed under the Open Gaming License by Wizards of the Coast (or WotC) and based upon their Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. The SRD forms the basis of WotC's various d20 System role-playing games, including the d20 System itself, d20 Modern and d20 Future. The SRD is also the basis for role-playing games published by companies other than WotC; these include Mutants and Masterminds and Arcana Evolved, among others.
The SRD is freely available from the WotC website as a series of Rich Text Format documents. It is also available from a variety of other sources which provide alternate formats and/or additional OGL material (see References).
The SRD specifies the skeleton rules and mechanics—including races, classes, feats, skills, spells, magic items and monsters—compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons (that is to say, 3rd edition and later) and various other roleplaying games from Wizards of the Coast. It is continually updated to comply with errata issued by WotC. Compared to the published source books for the Dungeons and Dragons game, the SRD provides the same basic rules but lacks "flavor" elements. There are no named gods, none of the spells have significant NPC names, there's no mention of Greyhawk or other copyrighted works by WotC. There are also no rules for character creation, for advancing characters in level, calculating experience, or anything else related to the topics forbidden by the d20 System License. Certain monsters - most notably Illithids (Mind Flayers) and Beholders - were also left out of the SRD.
Absence of Greyhawk referencesEdit
As mentioned above, a spell such as "Mordenkainen's Sword" becomes "Mage's Sword" in the SRD due to the omission of D&D's default setting which is a simplified version of the Greyhawk campaign setting. Greyhawk's rich history also provides many of the magic items, artifacts and flavor of the core rules, and each of those have either been left out of the SRD or changed to more generic names. This was done as the proper names of the items are the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast. If they had been published within the SRD (or later the RSRD for D&D3.5), then they would have become part of the Open Gaming Content that any company could use, subject to the terms of the Open Gaming License.
Overview of the systemEdit
The SRD presents a class-based game system, which is to say that it presents a set of mechanics for describing archetypical characters. A player may select such fantasy standards as the "fighter" or "wizard" and then customize their character as needed. It also presents a level-based game system, which is to say that characters progress by increasing their archetypical class's "level", gaining new abilities as they do so.
Characters are further customized with skills (such as "climb" and "diplomacy") and feats (such as "two-weapon fighting" and "diehard"). Certain classes also gain the ability to manipulate magical spells or psionic (mental) powers.
The referee (called a "dungeon master") is presented with mechanics for resolving character actions and combat, as well as a large list of "monsters" (which generally means any creature, sapient or otherwise, which is of a race other than those available to player characters) and treasures with which to reward the players.
While the SRD presents a distinctly fantasy-themed set of rules, the mechanics which it outlines were designed to be adaptable to nearly any genre. However, there are limitations. Because of the focus on classes, adapting the system to highly variable settings such as a superhero game is difficult (e.g. Mutants & Masterminds).
SRD available online in various formatsEdit
- A full implementation of the d20 SRD's random treasure generation system.
- The Only Sheet is a Microsoft Excel Character Sheet that implements the rules of the SRD.