D&D 5E 5E without WotC [+]


My particular issue is about automation being very good for WotC stuff and generally terrible for most 3PP content. This creates a tension between those sources for some players when using Fantasy Grounds, which is the platform I use as my primary VTT.

I should look into simpler platforms but it seems like everyone is trying to implement more utility. As I understand it, Owlbear Rodeo was super simple but 2.0 has started to chase Foundry.
I can highly recommend Owlbear 2.0. I have used foundry for a full campaign, but it is exactly the kind of trap that previous posts have described. Great for first party, not great for homebrew and 3PP. A LOT of work. Owlbear 2.0 just rearranges where you can find some things and includes an addon system for a dice roller, initiative tracker etc. so you can use it pretty bare bones. I use the dice roller for players who want to use it or have them use physical dice. The tokens that can be moved by any player and the easier workflow with maps makes it a lot easier to just switch back and forth between gridded combat, zone based combat or theater of the mind without any hickups. I am not going back to foundry, I just don't have the time and players controlling the fog revelation really messed with creating and atmosphere and description before they would see the contents of a room on a map.

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It is my opinion that while 5E is a pretty good version of the game,WotC has proven itself to not be great stewards of that game in recent times. More importantly, there are LOTS of individuals and companies producing 5E material and so WotC is unnecessary for my continued enjoyment and use of 5E.

I don't really want to argue about that premise in this thread (hence the +). If you feel that WotC is a good steward or is "necessary" for D&D, you are welcome to make that argument elsewhere.

What I do want to talk about here is the practical matter of sticking with 5E while rejecting WotC.

The first major practical matter is simply which version of the 5E rules to use. I am inclined to use LevelUp as a foundation because a) it is out and b) it adds some interesting layers and mechanics. That said, using LU would require buying from potential players as they would have to learn not just a few new rules but whole new subclasses etc.

"Black Flag" looks interesting as well but seems far enough off that it doesn't feel like a practical choice at this time. It appears like it will be similar in complexity to core 5E, as opposed to the nominally more complex LevelUp, but will still require folks learn it's nuances and particulars.

Of course there is always the option of continuing to use 5E as it is with the investments already made (in books, VTT modules,etc). This is perfectly reasonable and certainly easier to get player buy in -- until the 2024 rules come out and players want to be "current." It is a conundrum.

Mike Shea of Sly Flourish has repeatedly made the point that we don't need WotC to continue to enjoy5E. This thread is about how to do that in reality rather than merely aspirationally.

What do you think?
I am an avowed Level Up player and DM, and will probably always use it as the base for my 5e games. I also use a lot of other 3pp, including Mage Hand Press, Cubicle Seven, and many others that I incorporate into my personal houserule document. Additionally, I have a lot of WotC's product from before I dropped them, and will happily use it if it is the best option for what I want (at least until I finish my Level Up conversions). And setting material from older editions and DMsGuild will always be part of the mix.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I am mostly thinking about this with respect to the 2024 PHB. Most players won't care about much of anything else, but if I reject that update I do worry it might be more difficult to get player buy in.

On the GM side I already incorporate a bunch of rules from other 5E sources and elsewhere, and use advanced monster design a la LevelUp and Flee Mortals both in play and when I write professionally.

One particular issue is that when not running at a con (which isn't an issue because I essentially have total control over how the PCs work) I am using Fantasy Grounds and VTT integration of 3rd party products can be spotty or non existent. That's not a huge issue for me but some players get frustrated by the difference between the kind of integration official versus unofficial material gets particularly on that platform.
I got my group to switch to Level Up last year, so that hurdle is thankfully, well, hurdled.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I don't think there will be enough change to be much of an issue, but who knows. I would still treat it as any new addition to my game. If a player (or me as the DM) want to introduce a new rule (or class or whatever) we discuss and make a determination as a group. So, if a player bought the 2024 PHB and wanted to play a revised fighter or whatever, we would review it see if it works for our game. Personally I am pretty much anything goes on the player side.

I love monster books, but at this point I don't get a lot out of them. I have both LevelUp and Flee Mortals and in general I prefer my own monsters. I did get some good things from levelUp, but flee mortals didn't do anything for me.

I only play in person, so I can't help you there. I think levelup has good support on Foundry.
I've been thinking about Foundry a lot lately. Both of the games I'm most interested in use it as their favored VTT.

Can anyone recommend it?

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
That is a spartan way to play dnd 5e.
But there is quite enough material on the Web to avoid buying any material from Wotc.
Wotc provide new idea, controversy, some interesting rules, but it is still possible to play in a close bubble for years. Some friend on mine play 4ed until last year without any help from Wotc.

With the state of the game, nobody need Wotc, but for the overall future of the gaming world we need a business that make DnD evolve.
I'd be very happy to see 5e evolve like Level Up. WotC is running hard in the opposite direction of what I want.


I've been thinking about Foundry a lot lately. Both of the games I'm most interested in use it as their favored VTT.

Can anyone recommend it?
I play in-person so I can't help you there. If I try online I think I will go with something at is just maps and tokens with no automation. Our custom rules would make it difficult otherwise

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
That depends upon why/what about Planescape is attractive to them.
If, for example, the city of Sigil and its specific lore is what is attractive to them, that'll be hard to handle without WotC.
Lots of stuff about Sigil on the Guild (and more on the way!).

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