Blog (A5E) A 'State of Level Up' Address!

It's been three months since we announced Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition, and as 2020 closes, we felt it was a great time to give a status update!

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First, let's take a look at this layout preview! Our graphic designer has been hard at work, using the draft manuscript, to create the look and feel of the hardcover book. This preview gives you an idea of what it will look like.

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We've published all the Origins material and a bunch of classes in playtest form. Using all your valuable survey feedback, that material gets a thorough treatment before it goes to layout. The survey feedback you give is so important, and one of our most important tools in guiding the game.

We've also posted some important blog entries on how we will be approaching various aspects of this game.

On EN World there's a Most Anticipated RPG of 2021 poll. This happens every year. If you are anticipating Level Up, please help get the word out by voting in the poll via the button above!




We're hard at work on the rest of the game. Here's some quick-bite insights! These are quotes from the text. Of course, some may need more context to fully understand, and they are not final, but we hope they'll intrigue you!
  • When you score a critical hit, you double the attack’s damage against the target (including static modifiers). A critical hit can be turned into a regular hit by sacrificing an equipped shield (see Chapter 4: Equipment) or choosing to suffer an injury (see below).
  • Some attacks and other effects deal ongoing damage. When you are taking ongoing damage, at the end of each of your turns you take an amount and type of damage described by the effect. The ongoing damage continues until the duration of the effect ends. Ongoing damage might be caused by burning oil, a psychic echo, corrosive substances, a terrible wound, or another pernicious element, and if it can be ended early the details of how to do so are included with the effect (fire: dousing flames, psychic: centering your mind, acid: wiping away corrosive liquid, piercing or slashing: tying off a bandage).
  • A doomed creature has sustained damage to their body, mind, and spirit that puts it beyond the help of normal recovery and lesser magic. While the symptoms of a doomed creature’s injuries might be removed, only powerful spells such as regeneration or resurrection can spare it from death or restore it to life.
  • The initiative step sets the order of everyone's turn throughout the encounter. Each participant makes an ability check to determine their place in the initiative count, from the highest check total to the lowest. This ability check is often Dexterity. The Narrator might determine that one or more participants should instead roll a different ability check, potentially utilizing a relevant skill or tool (see Table: Types of Initiative).
  • World Actions. The raging storm howls and a bolt of lightning splits the ground in front of the adventurers. Souls lost to the sea manifest amid the fervor of the fishing competition for another chance at the perfect catch. The field can be as active a participant in Turn-Based Action as the characters are, and its actions can have serious consequences for everyone involved. Some world bonuses and penalties have an effect that activates within the initiative count. These world actions occur at the start of the round before any participants act.
  • During travel, 'Supplies' are effectively the party's hit points. Exploration challenges deplete Supplies, and food rots in extra-dimensional spaces. If you spend a long rest without using a Supply, bad things start to happen.
  • A stronghold offers benefits that are designed to be equal or superior to the equivalent expenditure in arms and equipment. These benefits grant stronghold builders (and their parties) resources, bonuses, powers, and abilities which directly affect them, and which make their tomb-raiding easier.
  • Followers never participate directly in encounters. They fade into the background, and come to the fore occasionally when their particular skill is needed. Each follower grants the character a specific ability or benefit.
  • For one reason or another an adventurer may be moved to donate to charity or invest to the betterment of a settlement. There are boons and rewards available to sponsoring a city project or helping develop a charitable organization. In order to benefit from a donation, you must contribute at least 1,000 gold.
  • You can utilize a mount as a pack animal instead of riding it. Just like a character, a pack animal can carry a number of Supplies equal to its Strength score in addition to its normal carrying capacity, and it can carry a number of bulky items equal to its Strength modifier + 1. If you intend to ride a mount as well as carry items with it, it can only carry half as many Supplies and bulky items.
  • Helms fit over the wearer’s head, protecting them from head injuries. However, they also limit the wearer’s vision and hearing.

Continue reading...
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Faolyn

(she/her)
I like a lot of what you are doing here, but as a reptile lover - please no reptilian creatures / PCs with mammalian breasts. I was very disappointed to see the dragon-folk art.

PS The general layout and graphic design look great
I asked about that as well, for those exact same reasons. Apparently it's a male dragonborn.
 

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dwayne

Adventurer
Threadcrapping in multiple threads earns you warning points that could lead to you not being included on ENWorld.
I would comment but don't want to be Anti-inclusive
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
3 months ? You've done 9 playtests with surveys, art and graphic layouts, and a bunch of misc titbits in 3 months ? Well, colour me impressed, that's a lot in a small time window, kudos !

That layout preview looks polished and professional, I really like it. (GG graphic designer!)

Apparently I missed the voting for the RPG for 2021, sorry about that. I'll have to put the word out via other channels :-\

I really like the sound of some of the dot point snippets (quick-bites you called them), including the critical hits, ongoing damage, doomed condition, initiative options, world actions etc.

I'm not so sure of some of the other snippets, like travel supplies, strongholds, followers etc, but will evaluate more when we get more complete context on them.

From the skills blog, I'm not seeing the value of an engineering skill, unless someone is playing an engineer type char concept (& then couldn't you do that via class / sub-class abilities?) I can't imagine this seeing much use ... maybe in a large scale military campaign where people make siege engines ? Do we really need to add this as a skill ?

Local Knowledge could be a useful addition I suppose, but how would it work ? Would you have to designate which area you have knowledge of ? Take it multiple times for different areas ? Again, is there a big demand / gap in the game that this skill would fill ?

Skill Specialties are great, I've loved them in just about every game I've played that had them. It's interesting how you're proposing to have a number equal to your proficiency modifier plus your intelligence modifier, I like that. Gives more of a reason to have Int which is a pretty under-utilized stat. Plus it hearkens back to the good ole days of editions where Int gave you skill points and languages and so on. Also great that the specialties can vary from setting to setting, I think this is a really elegant way of handling those world differences.

Interesting idea about the expertise dice and them scaling up. What about similar mechanics from other effects like Guidance ? Would they stack as they're different / separate or combine to scale up the die also ?

From the magic blog, I love the new write-up of spell descriptions ! Will take up more room but it's SOOOOO clear and and useful ! I also love the expansion of the schools, that's great. The spell stats and components are excellent too.

At first blush I absolutely adore the idea of Rare spells. It seems like one of those strokes of genius that when you look back you wonder why it was never there before, like it always should've been there. Having said that .... once I think about it some more ... it might need to be carefully managed as it might be opening up a huge can of worms ! Unintended synergies might break game balance, not to mention what happens when players start asking how rare versions of spells are made, and can they make them ? And if not, why not ? I just think this might be one of those "tread carefully, here be dragons" things ....

What's the rationale behind lowering fireballs damage ? Is to undo the WotC "buff to ensure iconic spell is awesome" ? Or is it so that you can have rare versions which do the original dmg like the one listed there ? Again, my yardstick would be: do we need this change ? Does it make it a better game ? Is the improvement in the game worth having it be different and making the change for ? I'm not convinced it's worth it really ...

Thanks for the "State of Level Up Address" post, it's a really nice summary and gives a great idea of what you've been up to and where things are at (and it's a lot!). Great job :)
 


ruemere

Adventurer
From the skills blog, I'm not seeing the value of an engineering skill, unless someone is playing an engineer type char concept (& then couldn't you do that via class / sub-class abilities?) I can't imagine this seeing much use ... maybe in a large scale military campaign where people make siege engines ? Do we really need to add this as a skill ?
Making a guess as to how a mechanical trap works using technical information as opposed to layman's guess? Constructing golemic shell that does not fall apart after making a single step? Preparing for a bashing a door in, and making sure that your leg does not get broken?
EDIT: Forgot my favorite: searching through floorplans for secret rooms and double walls.

My bias: I'm an engineer (an IT person), and it is somewhat offensive to me that some people still seem to think that a bright youth with little experience and access to Google is good enough to support enterprise :)
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
ROFLMAO, that is sheer gold :)
Making a guess as to how a mechanical trap works using technical information as opposed to layman's guess? Constructing golemic shell that does not fall apart after making a single step? Preparing for a bashing a door in, and making sure that your leg does not get broken?
EDIT: Forgot my favorite: searching through floorplans for secret rooms and double walls.
My bias: I'm an engineer (an IT person), and it is somewhat offensive to me that some people still seem to think that a bright youth with little experience and access to Google is good enough to support enterprise :)

Hehe, yes, I'm not saying I couldn't come up with examples of when it might be used, of course I could.

By the same rationale I could equally come up with some great examples of how to use a Science skill (I'm a science nerd <grin>), and then Maths, Finance, Law, Basket-weaving, Flower-arranging & Origami but that doesn't mean they're going to be core usage enough to justify "Bang for Buck" being included in a standard skill list for a fantasy adventure RPG ...

If we continue down that path ad absurdum we could end up with a standard skill list of hundreds of skills, which makes it hard to list (takes up lots of room), hard to learn (now which skill was it that covered this situation?), harder for people from O5e to transition to (wait, what, instead of 10 skills you have HOW MANY??), etc etc.

What I'm saying is that if the primary genre of an RPG is high fantasy, surely all of those skills are pretty niche and don't need to clutter up the standard skill list. There's an incremental cost for including each bit of extra stuff, whether it's clarity, accessibility, learning curve, etc, and anything to be included should be made to measure up to the bar of "Is the benefit to the game worth the cost of including it ?" and "Does including this make it a better game?"
 


TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
We wouldn’t have included it if we didn’t think the answer was “yes”.
Okaaay....
And is it ok to discuss, unpack, question, request more detail and clarity about these decisions and the thought-processes that went into them ? Or is that not what the deal is here ?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Okaaay....
And is it ok to discuss, unpack, question, request more detail and clarity about these decisions and the thought-processes that went into them ? Or is that not what the deal is here ?
You can talk about what you want, but I don’t guarantee I have time to answer essay questions. :)
 

Thanks for keeping us informed Morrus. I think this whole Levelup project is very ambitious, and just what 5E needs. I may not be a 5E player myself, but I follow these threads with great interest none the less.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Ok, ultra-brief then: please explain the rationale behind adding a niche skill which would only ever see at best infrequent use in play ?
I can’t explain any such rationale because there is no good reason to add a niche skill which would only ever see at best infrequent use in play. We haven’t done that, in our opinion.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
Ultra-brief: I can’t, because there is no good reason to add a niche skill which would only ever see at best infrequent use in play. Which is why we haven’t done that, in our opinion.
Ok, ultra-brief seems to be working....
Using this post as a reference, where would you rate Engineering ? I would've thought it was an 'F' or maybe a 'D', what do you see it as ?
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Ok, ultra-brief then: please explain the rationale behind adding a niche skill which would only ever see at best infrequent use in play ?
I'm on my phone right now so cant copy what engineering examples cover. It has an umbrella that contains a good amount of stuff normally pawned off on arcana or an int/wish check. That catch all dumping ground arcana gets used for makes it difficult for arcana to be good at what ot should do . 5e is especially bad there with what arcana does being little.more than burning one of your limited skill options to give the GM an excuse to use you for info dumping. By raw in 5e arcana is a really poor skill unless the gm gets generous or sets up traps/puzzles that treat arcana as the video game style blue key card as a transparant attempt to give Bob the chance to say they used arcana this campaign or should feel regret for swapping it for a useful skill
 





tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Ok, ultra-brief seems to be working....
Using this post as a reference, where would you rate Engineering ? I would've thought it was an 'F', what do you think it is ?
B+ at the very worst for engineering. it covers a lot of creative construction destruction and circumvention going by the description on the skill preview thread
Engineering is touched on a bit here

For your other question,
some of the class knacks also hook into dungeoneering type stuff too.
 

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