• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D 5E A "Fewer" Features Variant!?! (+)

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
IMAGINE... a Rogue without Sneak Attack? a Monk who doesn't know Martial Arts? a Ranger who never casts hunter's mark? a Paladin without Smites?

Can you...?

I can, and I encourage it! Welcome to the Island of Misfit PCs! :)

Well over a ago I post a thread about a Faster Features Variant here:


The idea was to give characters features at an accelerated pace so you could have more playing time using them. When we had reached level 20, it felt like we didn't have time to really enjoy the newer features.

Well, after playing that way for a long time (using a revised progression for the classes), I pitched to my players this weekend a new idea. FEWER features!

While working on character sheets for a player, and realizing how many features and racial traits his Level 7 Wood Elf Ranger had, I decided maybe going the other way might be a novel idea.

Elf:
  1. ASI +2 DEX
  2. Darkvision
  3. Keen Senses
  4. Fey Ancestry
  5. Trance
Wood-Elf:
  1. ASI +1 WIS
  2. Elf Weapon Training
  3. Fleet of Foot
  4. Mask of the Wild
Sailor Background
  1. Ship's Passage
Ranger (Gloomstalker)
  1. Favored Enemy
  2. Natural Explorer
  3. Fighting Style
  4. Spellcasting (5 known spells)
  5. Gloomstalker Magic
  6. Dread Ambusher
  7. Umbral Sight
  8. Primeval Awareness
  9. Feat
  10. Extra Attack
  11. Favored Enemy improvement
  12. Natural Explorer improvement
  13. Iron Mind
For a grand total of 23 features!!! By level 7... jeez!!! :eek: Is it any wonder a player might have a hard time recalling everything their character can do when PCs are given so much???

So arose the idea for fewer features. Allowing players to focus more on the features they choose (yes, you read that correctly, choose) instead of just being given a buffet of features. Also, by choosing which features you want and when you might gain them, it opens up for very different builds (see the opening of the OP for examples!).

CONCEPT:
Race - you choose ONE racial trait (Ability Score Increase, Age, Alignment, Size, Speed, Languages are "common" and you get them all) that is not shared by all the other races.
Background - you get your background feature.
Class - you choose ONE class feature at 1st level. (For example, a Fighter would choose either a Fighting Style OR Second Wind.)
Subclass - each time you choose your subclass feature, you choose ONE subclass feature (For example, a Battle Master chooses either Combat Superiority or Student of War.)
Prerequisites - you cannot choose a feature if aspects of that feature rely on another feature you don't have!

So, at 1st level you will have only three features (one race, one background, one class or subclass).
With each new level, you can choose to gain a feature for that level, select a feature from a prior level (including prior subclass features), or choose a feature from your race.

Ability Score Increases (DEX +2, WIS +1), Age, Alignment, Size, Speed, Languages don't count as they are common to all races.
  1. Race: Trance
  2. Background: Ship's Passage
  3. Ranger 1: Natural Explorer
  4. Ranger 2: Fighting Style (Archery)
  5. Ranger 3: Umbral Sight (Gloomstalker feature)
  6. Ranger 4: Sharpshooter feat
  7. Ranger 5: Extra Attack
  8. Ranger 6: Dread Ambusher (Gloomstalker feature)
  9. Ranger 7: Iron Mind (Gloomstalker feature)
Only 9 features, not 23. And he never selected spellcasting for her but he is really happy with the build.

Finally, here is the first draft of the homebrew write-up. I have to iron-out the wrinkles, and certainly spellcasters should take spellcasting as their level 1 feature, but nothing says they must. ;)

1642378921075.png


That's it for now. I'll update the thread as I make more progress on this idea, but I think it will become our standard from now on. If you are wondering about this, REALLY think about it, you might find it as intriguing as I do. Cheers!

EDIT: For anyone looking at this in detail, 2 points:
1. Druidic and Thieves' Cant are Languages, so you don't have to choose them as a feature for those classes, you get them for free.
2. I've considered (and not made a decision yet) as to making casters use a feature to gain access to higher level spells. Casters have blank levels without features to choose otherwise, so really aren't loosing anything otherwise...
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad



Is Spellcasting actually broken down into specific features, or is it a single pick that provides many different features and ways of using them as in the current rules?
So do you have to pick Spellcasting as your one feature each level in order to gain additional spell slots? If you do that, do you also get additional spells known?
Or does picking Spellcasting as your level one feature grant the full progression in both spell slots and spells known from then on?
 

Horwath

Legend
You might want to "buff" up every single feature doing this, so every choice has more or less equal value.
I mean; Combat superiority vs Student of War?

Student if war should be (at least) proficiency AND expertise in one artisan tool, History and Insight to even come close to Combat Superiority.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Is Spellcasting actually broken down into specific features, or is it a single pick that provides many different features and ways of using them as in the current rules?
So do you have to pick Spellcasting as your one feature each level in order to gain additional spell slots? If you do that, do you also get additional spells known?
Or does picking Spellcasting as your level one feature grant the full progression in both spell slots and spells known from then on?
We discussed having access to higher level spells as a feature you would have to pick, and we might go that way eventually. There was also the possibility of making Ritual Spellcasting its own thing. But for now (two days into the idea LOL) we are just treating spellcasting as one entity.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
You might want to "buff" up every single feature doing this, so every choice has more or less equal value.
I mean; Combat superiority vs Student of War?

Student if war should be (at least) proficiency AND expertise in one artisan tool, History and Insight to even come close to Combat Superiority.
Maybe. Part of this is also because such features are generally fluff/useless. I can't tell you when anyone has every used Know Your Enemy, for example... We already had about 150 pages of house-rules and homebrew for the MOD, and we are peeling back on a lot of it, so balancing out such features would just add back into the pile. :(

We'll see... But personally I would take Student of War (as is) over Know Your Enemy later on. 🤷‍♂️
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
This is interesting, but it works better for some classes than others. Here's a quick sample of the choices I might make, up to level 10. Some work better than others.

Some lose nothing:
Warlock: Pact Magic, Invocations, Patron-Level 1 feature, ASI, Pact Boon, Patron-Level 6 feature, Expanded Spell list, ASI, (nothing to choose), Patron-Level 10 feature.
--> Warlock gets everything, even extended spell list, and has a slot to spare at level 9.

Wizard: Spellcasting, Tradition ability, Arcane Recovery, ASI, Savant, Tradition, (nothing to choose), ASI, (nothing to choose), Tradition Feature.
--> Wizards get everything, even savant, and has two spare slots. At a minimum, this would suggest that cantrips, spells, and ritual casting should all be separate choices.

Sorcerer: Spellcasting, font, Metamagic, ASI, level 1 origin ability, level 6 origin ability, (nothing to choose), ASI, (nothing to choose), (nothing to choose?)
--> Again, a spellcaster gets everything, and possibly has three dead levels (would the extra metamagic skil copme online automatically since it was chosen at level 3 and is part of the same ability? presumably).

Some lose a lot:
Monk: Martial Arts, Unarmored Defense, Ki, ASI/Feat, Extra Attack, Ki-Empowered Strikes, Evasion, ASI, Stunning Strike, Unarmored Movement (and the improvement it gets at level 9).
--> The monk loses a lot of defining features; Stunning Smite comes online late, but I think Ki-empowered Strikes is just too important to remain viable. No subclass features were even in the running.

Paladin: Lay on Hands, Spellcasting, Divine Smite, ASI, Extra Attack, Aura of Protection, Channel Divinity, ASI, Fighting Style, Aura of Courage.
--> T use divine smite means needing spellcasting first, so there's a big investment early that delays picking up a channel divinity and fighting style. Again, no subclass features selected, though the aura at 7 would be a reasonable possibility (making fighting style not in the running for the first ten levels).

Rogue, Ranger, Fighter, are all losing out on abilities too.
 
Last edited:



Remove ads

Top