Ethos and Charter for Towards 5E
Effectively, this is a broad description of the campaigns I enjoy running and have tried (sometimes in vain) to shoehorn D&D into. My hope is to corral my thoughts not into a bunch of houserules, but instead into an advanced ruleset of where I would like to see the D&D game go.
The Campaign I envisage is where:
- Magic is mysterious and dark once more; rather than the safe hum-drum technology of the fantasy world
- The days of character’s being defined by their suite of magical items instead of their skills and heroics are gone
- Rules and flavour should be in symbiosis with one another, rather than in competition or strained accord
- Streamline for elegance, not to bash complexity into vague simplicity
- Adventuring is inherently not safe; combat encounters should present danger to the characters – the safety net must go
- The assumption of miniatures and a battlemap should not be implicit in the ruleset; the rules must also be able to support those groups who prefer the landscape of the mind
- Whilst no specific world is given, the rules should allow for one that sits between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Vance’s Lyonesse series, Howard’s Conan Stories, Martin’s Game of Thrones series, Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Erikson’s Malazan series and Fritz Leiber’s Stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; and be able to stretch to any of these fabulous fantasy pillars.
- Verisimilitude is not a dirty word; a certain logic to the fantasy world should be upheld
- Character creations must be flexible; the ability to meld many different but viable character ideas should be encouraged, rather than feeling pressured to focus on a couple of optimised builds
- Players should feel that they can develop a character that is both effective in combat and interesting out of combat – rather than either/or
- The game economy must make sense and feel real; rather than being a calculated spoon-fed wealth lacking in true achievement
- The game cannot afford for some classes to dominate at the expense of others at more powerful levels; and nor should the answer be compressing the classes into homogenized lumps of roughly equal measure
- The game also cannot afford for rules to unmanageably bloat at higher levels with the time taken to resolve this vast array bloating as well
- And most of all and above all else, the game must be fun!
Whilst this is starting out a solo project, I invite anyone interested along for the ride – any input is more than welcome.
First group I have joined, but liking the goals of this idea, so let's see what develops.
I'm interested to hear what you have to say. Like many people, I have strong feelings on this topic, and I love to discuss design.
It's like you're reading my mind and taking my black-book scribblings and pronouncing them in much more articulate vocabulary... I want in.
It seems to me like you're looking to strive for realism in the game without sacrificing the fantastical. Making Magic and Sorcery Dark and Mysterious again is absolutely a must for me - right now, D&D4e is like Hogwarts on crack. Putting things in line with Williams and Tolkien are definitely goals I could contribute to.
Riddle of Steel already exists. It has everything you described below. Seriously. It's a great game. Our group plays it when we want a break from D&D. And then we play D&D when we want a break from RoS.
I'm glad to see there is a part of the gaming community that agrees on an agenda to make D&D interesting again. I have a couple of ideas that I might share with you guys someday. Basically I'm for getting rid of hit points. Also, armour plays a different role, wounds cause penalties, reach becomes very central to the combat system. I'm researching new ways to handle skills.
So what are your system design goals?
The first thing I'd get away from is a single die resolution system. Multiple dice give a probability curve rather than flat odds of any number in the range.
That summarizes my beefs with 4e (and to a lesser extent, 3e) very well.
Though I'm not familiar with many of the references, this sounds to me sort of like Iron Heroes meeting moderate magic (except for flexible characters... IH did a pretty good job of defining schticks that you could sort of work between, but not very well).
Love the Charter.
My first group this, and i agree with most of the points.
I loved 3e, and do like 4e, however agree that we have lost some customization abilities to have simpler rules.
The idea is good, but i think we should wait until many more supplements are out to completely judge 4e.