D&D General 5e but fewer rules and lower HP totals?


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Quickleaf

Legend
I think those two things would be enough, so long as the right rules “bloat” (subjective, I know) was cut, of course. “Right” according to my own tastes, naturally. But either way, as far as I’m concerned, 5e HP totals go way too high, and pretty fast at that, in some cases. Like, if they were - give or take - cut in half, that might suffice.

There are things I like a lot about 5e, but the overall level of crunch and again, HP totals, are not among them.

If there is such a game, it would have to be easy to convert from 5e to it, especially monsters. Then again, a comprehensive bestiary would be a plus.

Oh, and if you think I should just run an older (pre-3e) edition, yes, perhaps. It has occurred to me. However, I am very fond of, for example, Advantage/Disadvantage and one save type per ability - things that don’t exist in any previous edition. Or.. is there an OSR game that meets these requirements? I must admit, there are so many that it’s unlikely I’ve heard of them all.
Dungeonesque would be the other 5e-lite (with OSR paradigm) that comes to mind besides Shadowdark.

But if you’re looking at hacking 5e your self…

There are a lot of us 5e (and adjacent) GMs who selectively reduce monster HP, and that works great. So does making monsters hit harder, selectively. These have the similar effect to reducing PC hit points but handling it all behind the GM screen.

Changing up initiative rules have had a big payoff in time savings IME.

Reducing opportunity attacks is something I’m currently playtesting, but no conclusion about time saved yet.

When players dither or are uncertain what to do - initiative changes can improve this - I often ask “Sounds like you’d like to Help X / Dodge / Ready for Z, is that right?” I’d say more often than not, dithering players want to do one of those three things IME, and helps avoid brainlock moments of drag.
 



Quickleaf

Legend
If you don’t mind, what initiative alternate do you use?

Sure... it's evolved over years from "popcorn clustered" to a more mutable system or set of systems...

Dynamic Initiative
Dynamic initiative acknowledges that there are degrees of combat scenes, and they are served by different approaches to initiative.

Snap Scenes: When there’s just a few monsters of the same type, like a quick guard scene, it can be resolved with the active/leading player rolling initiative against a DC of 10 + the monster’s DEX. PC wins? They go first. PC loses? Monsters go first. Sometimes, the combat can even be resolved simply as “resolve the PC’s action" without this initiative roll.

Typical Scenes: For most combat encounters, initiative is not rolled and the round begins with whoever triggered the scene (if in doubt, have one PC roll versus one monster to determine who goes first). When that character finishes their turn, they choose the next creature/group to act, and so on. The last person to act in the current round decides who starts the new round – but they can't pick themselves. HOWEVER, a creature/PC that hasn’t taken a turn yet this round may interrupt the order if it took damage or if it spends Inspiration or a Legendary Resistance (or similar resource).
Side note: In dungeon exploration, maintaining initiative order throughout (so it doesn't always start with same person, but either with where you left off) can be a way to deal with one recurring instigator player stealing spotlight. It's an option if you need it.

Climax Scenes: For climactic / set-piece / boss encounters, everyone rolls initiative as per RAW. If the PCs are not surprised, the players may have about one minute to make their plan of attack. During initiative, players who have consecutive turns with no monsters in between them may act in any order they wish, including overlapping their turns.
Side note: I've been doing this a while as "clustered initiative." For point of reference, I believe this is how BG3's initiative works.
 

Meech17

WotC President Runner-Up.
Remove the bonus HP monsters get from their con mods but leave players the same. Then, make monsters do 75% per hit instead of 50% of their maximum damage per hit. This will make your monsters squishier but more lethal, but still keep you within the safe bounds of what 5E can ultra easily handle. This is a quick hack; there are dozens of ways to accomplish your goals.

Additionally, only use the Sidekick classes, or cap normal Classes to level 10 or 5 and give feats from there.
I like this idea. My party is only level 3, but I am fearing the eventual leap to tier 3 play. I've never experienced it in 5e on either side of the screen but in all of my years of playing 3.5e I felt like the game went downhill after level 10. I could perhaps see myself implementing a level cap and then using feats to allow continued advancement.

I've also already implemented the lower HP on monsters, usually by getting rid of the con mod like you suggest. I'm fine with monsters having a life span of 2-3 turns, and if I'm trying to ramp up the heat usually I use more enemies. I haven't tried upping damage instead though.
It's not my preferred method of play; I prefer to just accept that 5E combat will take some decent table time and try to make it as interesting and engaging as possible these days. But, if someone wants to do it, it is certainly possible.

As an aside to the OP's prompt, you could go 100% minimalist too and have every combat come with a Countdown of 10-40. Whenever players damage an enemy, make them fail a saving throw, etc etc, they reduce the countdown by 1d6 (or 2d6 if some kind of resource were used, like a spell or Action Surge). Then you could have really fast and cinematic combats, but at that point, it really is a completely different vibe.
Are you suggesting the enemy has a count down of 20, and the fighter hits it for damage. You roll a d6 for 6 and now the enemy is at 14. Next the wizard shoots the enemy with witch bolt or something and you roll 2d6 for 12, bringing them down to 2. Ranger shoots it with his bow, you roll a d6 for 2 and now the enemy is dead?
If I am being honest, I do not get it either. Countdowns just click for my brain where clocks don't!
If I'm understanding the above premise a clock would just help reduce the math by using set intervals. It can still be a countdown method too. That's how I do my clocks. For instance if I use a 6 segment clock I'd probably use a d6 to show it. Every time a condition is met to advance the clock I tick it down 1 face. In you case you would just replace your d6 die roll with advancing the clock. That way you didn't have to do the math of the above example.
 

I like this idea. My party is only level 3, but I am fearing the eventual leap to tier 3 play. I've never experienced it in 5e on either side of the screen but in all of my years of playing 3.5e I felt like the game went downhill after level 10. I could perhaps see myself implementing a level cap and then using feats to allow continued advancement.

I've also already implemented the lower HP on monsters, usually by getting rid of the con mod like you suggest. I'm fine with monsters having a life span of 2-3 turns, and if I'm trying to ramp up the heat usually I use more enemies. I haven't tried upping damage instead though.

Are you suggesting the enemy has a count down of 20, and the fighter hits it for damage. You roll a d6 for 6 and now the enemy is at 14. Next the wizard shoots the enemy with witch bolt or something and you roll 2d6 for 12, bringing them down to 2. Ranger shoots it with his bow, you roll a d6 for 2 and now the enemy is dead?

If I'm understanding the above premise a clock would just help reduce the math by using set intervals. It can still be a countdown method too. That's how I do my clocks. For instance if I use a 6 segment clock I'd probably use a d6 to show it. Every time a condition is met to advance the clock I tick it down 1 face. In you case you would just replace your d6 die roll with advancing the clock. That way you didn't have to do the math of the above example.
In regards to the bolded, yes, that is what I'm saying. There's lots of ways to play with it, primarily by saying at certain thresholds, something happens. Say if the Countdown drops to 15, reinforcements show up, if it drops to 10 the creature takes one of its actions as a reaction; if multiple thresholds pass at the same time, they all happen at once. I use this in place of Minion rules now in order to create giant swarms, armies, etc that the players have to deal with while trying to achieve some other objective, but it works well in traditional combats too.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
In regards to the bolded, yes, that is what I'm saying. There's lots of ways to play with it, primarily by saying at certain thresholds, something happens. Say if the Countdown drops to 15, reinforcements show up, if it drops to 10 the creature takes one of its actions as a reaction; if multiple thresholds pass at the same time, they all happen at once. I use this in place of Minion rules now in order to create giant swarms, armies, etc that the players have to deal with while trying to achieve some other objective, but it works well in traditional combats too.
I've done similar without the rolling. Straight attacks do one hit. Crits do double. Resource spends do their level in hits. Something like that. Then give the monster (or whole encounter) a number of hits. Once the hits run out, the combat's over. To me, that's a clock. To you, that's a countdown. Same same.
 

I've done similar without the rolling. Straight attacks do one hit. Crits do double. Resource spends do their level in hits. Something like that. Then give the monster (or whole encounter) a number of hits. Once the hits run out, the combat's over. To me, that's a clock. To you, that's a countdown. Same same.
Yep, same same! I find it fascinating how the presentation of an idea can vary before it clicks for an individual, but that's a tangent.
 

I've done similar without the rolling. Straight attacks do one hit. Crits do double. Resource spends do their level in hits. Something like that. Then give the monster (or whole encounter) a number of hits. Once the hits run out, the combat's over. To me, that's a clock. To you, that's a countdown. Same same.
Without totally redesigning the game it will utterly destroy balance and render several things meaningless.
 

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