D&D 5E A Power Dial Separate From Level

Oofta

Legend
I am talking more about baseline power as it relates to tone. What are PCs in general (at 1st or 10th level) capable of? Do they huddle behind cover or run full tilt into the fray? Can they leap a gorge or do they have to work to scramble up a rocky slope? That sort of thing. So I am looking for a broadly applicable dial that sets those expectations within minimal fiddliness.

Just spitballing here:
High Power Ability Score Array: 18 16 16 15 12 10

That's why I recommended looking at the 3.5 point buy array, there are options for "heroic" PCs.

High Powered Hit Dice: +1 Die type, max d12. Max HP x 1.5 at 1st level, 3/4 max each level thereafter.
High Powered Feats: 2 bonus feats at 1st level and a feat each even level.
High Powered Skills: 2 extra proficient skills plus expertise in one skill.
High Powered Damage: Add character level to weapon and spell damage.
High Powered Saves: 3 total proficient saves
High Powered Class abilities: All uses per rest doubled.
High Powered rests: Immediate short rest and 10 minute long rest. Max 3 short rests per long rest and max 1 long rest per 8 hours.

Something like that. What I want to avoid is having to fiddle with all the other part of the game (monsters etc). I think that just setting the PC power level will take care of everything else.

As for all of that, it's just something you'd have to playtest. At a glance it looks fine. You could consider expanding saves, give people heroic saves so X number of times per long rest they automatically make a save.
 

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Reynard

Legend
That's why I recommended looking at the 3.5 point buy array, there are options for "heroic" PCs.
Right, but there is more to it than just ability scores. that's my point.
As for all of that, it's just something you'd have to playtest. At a glance it looks fine. You could consider expanding saves, give people heroic saves so X number of times per long rest they automatically make a save.
Sure. Again, I am just trying to figure out what areas need to be covered by the dial at this point. I do like the idea of "heroic saves."
 

Seems like it already exists with the various rules presented in the DMG.

There are various methods of stat generation.
There are optional rules for healing and resting.
Magic item availability is innately up to the DM.

All that is missing is an array like;
Hard & High Magic > 32 point buy, gritty healing, lots of magic
Easy & Low Magic > 40 point buy, default healing, poor magic
 

Extra feats seem the most scalable option that can fit any class and build.
i won’t allow more point for ability score. Sone classes will benefits more than others.
 

I use:
  • Ability score generation method
  • Rest variant
  • And as a result: level advancement
As a way to lower or raise power level.

If you start with high ability scores, you can more easily affor feats. If you can rest more easily, you can afford to spend more resources per encounter.
If you blow through more difficult encounters, you gain xp more easily, which gains you better abilities and feats faster and so on.

Having an 18 or even a 20 as a staring stat works wonders.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
The power level of NPCs in your world determine the power level of PCs in the fiction.

If the typical professional soldier is a "Guard" (CR 1/8), the world feels different than if he typical professional soldier is the "Veteran" or "Knight" (CR 2), or even Champion (CR 9).

Similarly, if every small town has a Diviner (CR 9), PC magic competence will seem really low. OTOH, if most clergy are mundanes with blessed artifacts that allow rare casting of spells on holy days after long rituals, even a level 1 cleric is amazing.

...

The baseline math of 5e is about damage.

Round down.

Offensive Level: Total PC damage over first 3 typical rounds (account for number of encounters). Divide by 9, subtract 3.
Your attack modifier is expected to be 5 + L/3 (or DC 13+L/3). Each point different is worth about +/-10% offensive level.

Defensive Level: PC HP divided by 10. Your AC is expected to be 15 + L/6. Each point of AC above/below is worth +/-10% defensive level.

Heals (or mitigation) you can expect to do in the first 3 rounds of the fight also count as HP.

L 1 TWF rogue
16 dex rogue with 2 short swords level 1 and 14 con, leather armor.
10 HP (defensive level 0), 14 AC (1 below), so 0.
2 short swords (10 DPR, +3.5 sneak attack) is 13.5. But the SA has 2 chances to hit, makes it worth 50% more. Offensive level of 2.

Overall level is (0+2)/2 = 1.

A L 1 PAM fighter with shield and chainmail. 18 AC, 12 HP, 6.5 healing, 1d6+1d4+10 damage (16) per round.

L 2 offensive, L 2 defensive.

Overall L2 power level.


A level 5 PAM Spear Fighter in Plate+Shield, 14 con, 18 attack stat.
AC 20, 44 HP, 10.5 self heal
2d6+1d4+18 DPR + 2d6+12 Action Surge = 101.5 3 round damage
+7 accuracy

101.5/9 - 3 is 8.3 offensive level, expected accuracy of 7, so L 8 offensive.
5.45 defensive level, expected AC of 15, so +50% for L 8 defensive
Overall power level is 8.

A level 5 Rogue Booming Blade, 18 dex, studded, rapier and booming blade.
AC 16 38 HP. Defensive roll every turn for ~15 mitigation. On-target AC. Defensive level L 4.
2d8+4+3d6 damage is 23.5 * 3 = 70.5 damage. Use aim to get advantage, increases effective damage by 30%ish. Overall offensive level 7.

Overall L 5.

You can also factor in saving throws. Add up all saving throw modifiers, doubling Dex/Wis/Con. Every point different than (20+Defensive level) modifies defensive level by +/- 1%. (+/- 1 to all saves is worth about as much as +1 to AC, as a rough measure).

Anyhow, this very roughly tracks. The point of this is you can then use it to measure what your changes do.

+1 weapons on a 2 attack PC add 0.666 offensive level +10% from accuracy.
+1 armor/shields adds +10% defensive level each.

+2 attack stat adds +0.666 offensive level, and multiplication +10% offensive level and +1% defensive level.
+2 all stats adds +0.666 offensive (assuming 2 attacks), +0.1 defensive level per PC level (HP), +10% offensive and 9% to 19% defensive (saves and AC)

Doubling HP, well it doubles offensive level but also makes your AC fall behind. Has a larger impact at lower levels.

...

This is based roughly on my "make monsters based on Level instead of CR" work.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
I am talking more about baseline power as it relates to tone. What are PCs in general (at 1st or 10th level) capable of? Do they huddle behind cover or run full tilt into the fray? Can they leap a gorge or do they have to work to scramble up a rocky slope? That sort of thing. So I am looking for a broadly applicable dial that sets those expectations within minimal fiddliness.

Just spitballing here:
High Power Ability Score Array: 18 16 16 15 12 10
High Powered Hit Dice: +1 Die type, max d12. Max HP x 1.5 at 1st level, 3/4 max each level thereafter.
High Powered Feats: 2 bonus feats at 1st level and a feat each even level.
High Powered Skills: 2 extra proficient skills plus expertise in one skill.
High Powered Damage: Add character level to weapon and spell damage.
High Powered Saves: 3 total proficient saves
High Powered Class abilities: All uses per rest doubled.
High Powered rests: Immediate short rest and 10 minute long rest. Max 3 short rests per long rest and max 1 long rest per 8 hours.

Something like that. What I want to avoid is having to fiddle with all the other part of the game (monsters etc). I think that just setting the PC power level will take care of everything else.
I find the vast majority of 5e to be high-powered already- once you're past level 5 or 6 in 5e the party becomes a significant power, especially if you're giving them magic items. Depends on party size obviously, but man I have to REALLY drive them hard to push their resources and make them feel desperate (which I do as much as possible).

But the idea of giving high stats by default, extra feats etc. hoooo-eeee we're talking excessive power, especially later on as they can really take advantage of the stuff you provided early on.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The simplest way to implement that is on the referee's side of the screen. If the players want a grittier game, the referee should dial up the difficulty: higher DCs, tougher monsters, more damage, etc. If the players want a more power fantasy game, the referee should dial down the difficulty: lower DCs, weaker monsters, less damage, etc. At a certain point dialing up the difficulty in 5E the system will fight you. The PCs come standard with so much power that you have to really ramp things up or house rule the hell out of things to get even close to a proper gritty style of play.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
The power level of NPCs in your world determine the power level of PCs in the fiction.

If the typical professional soldier is a "Guard" (CR 1/8), the world feels different than if he typical professional soldier is the "Veteran" or "Knight" (CR 2), or even Champion (CR 9).

Similarly, if every small town has a Diviner (CR 9), PC magic competence will seem really low. OTOH, if most clergy are mundanes with blessed artifacts that allow rare casting of spells on holy days after long rituals, even a level 1 cleric is amazing.
I sort of agree with this- and it really means that DnD5e just isn't the game for my world.

Providing challenging encounters for players means that your parties will level up every 4-5 sessions. I know everyone runs their games differently, so this varies, but just going by core 5e characters will reach high levels with consistent play.

NPCs either have to grow in power similar, and in numbers that can mean some die and there will still be more to challenge the party further down the line..
But in my mind, NPCs should cap out at level 11 or 12. Hell, I'd want characters to do the same. I guess I haven't been happy with this "PCs frequent power raising forcing NPCs to be higher level" dynamic since 3e- but at least 3e had variable XP tracks to slow down leveling (or maybe that was Pathfinder?)

I'm not satisfied with it, I'd love a solid "e6" ruleset for 5e. I've toyed with e9 rules but never had the chutzpah to use them at my table.
 

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