D&D 5E Assaying rules for 5E E6 (Revised)

clearstream

(He, Him)
[EDITED 27th November to streamline the rules!]

As part of design for my next campaign, I wanted to look at how E6 might look in 5E. The mode was designed for 3E by Ryan Stoughton inspired by an article proposing that Gandalf was level 5. The Alexandrian discusses it, and you can find more on StackExchange and Reddit. Generally, the problem to solve is how might we constrain characters to heroic fantasy, powerwise? No Wuxia. No superheroes! So scaling ended at 6th level, and thereafter a feat was gained per so-many-thousand XP (an amount based on the XP to get to 7th level). That worked well in 3rd, where feats are plentiful and granular.

I read a proposal for 5E E6 on StackExchange where players choose one feat, class-feature or sub-class-feature per so-many-thousand XP. One issue I see there is the great disparity in power of class and sub-class features. That creates balancing issues which can be partially solved using point costs, which then however lean into minimaxing: focusing and delivering on customisation. My priority is not customisation, but to deliver on heroes-not-super-heroes. Classes are one of the pillars of D&D game design, with important pay-offs for players, so I'd like to craft a system that works with them rather than ignoring or disassembling them.

I've listened to criticisms and thought about my objectives, to re-draft rules that end some scaling at 6th, but otherwise now use the standard class tables.

5E E6

In this variant of 5th edition, some core elements associated with level advancement stop at 6th level. In summary, after 6th level:
  1. Hit points stop increasing with level
  2. Proficiency bonuses stop at +3 (but see below)
  3. No further cantrip damage increases or extra attacks are gained
  4. The highest spell level characters can ordinarily access is 3rd level (also see below)
  5. It's recommended to use the feats option in customisation, and to cap ability score increases (via ASIs) to 18
  6. It is suggested that level advancement is capped at 12th or 14th level (to stay within the power-range envisioned by E6)
These changes are explained in full below.

Hit Dice and Hit Point Maximum

You gain hit dice and roll to increase your hit point maximum only up to 6th level. Your maximum number of hit dice is therefore six. Any bonuses to hit points count no more than six levels. For example, a 9th level character with a Constitution ability modifier of +2 gains 12 hit points, not 18.

Proficiency Bonus

Your highest proficiency bonus is +3. However, features that count proficiency bonus for uses between rests still use the standard value.

Cantrip Damage and Extra Attacks

Cantrip damage and extra attacks do not scale past 6th level. Thus, you gain no more than one extra cantrip damage die or weapon attack.

Spell Slots and "Enhanced Spell Slots"

Classes and sub-classes with the spellcasting feature gain "enhanced spell slots" in place of the higher-spell-level slots they would ordinarily access beyond 6th level. For full-casters that applies to 4th-level-spell-slots and higher, for half-casters 3rd-level-spell-slots and higher, and for third-casters 2nd-level-spell-slots and higher. Casters can only prepare or know spells up to the level of their highest ordinary spell-slot.

To cast one of their spells, a character can expend an enhanced slot of twice the spell's level or higher. Enhanced spell slots count at their full level for counterspell, dispel magic and similar - both for countering and dispelling, and being countered or dispelled - otherwise counting as half their level. That is also true for non-casting purposes, such as Combat Wild Shape, Divine Smite, Font of Magic and Arcane Recovery: count enhanced spell slots as spell slots of half their level.

For example, a wizard can expend a 4th level enhanced slot to cast melf's acid arrow - a 2nd level spell - counting it cast at 4th level for counterspell , dispel magic and similar, and otherwise as 2nd level. Another wizard could expend a 6th level enhanced slot to cast counterspell , automatically countering the acid arrow .

Enhanced spell slots are regained at the same time as other spell slots.

Enhanced Spell Slots for Warlocks

Warlock spell slots are capped at 3rd level, and then become enhanced spell slots that count as 4th (and later 5th) level for counterspell , dispel magic and similar - otherwise counting as 3rd level.

Ability Score Improvements

It is recommended that the option is used to take feats instead of ability score increases, and that ability scores can't be increased above 18 this way (rather than 20). Higher scores might be gained through deeds, sacrifices and perilous research, hard-won magic items, or as boons from supernatural entities.

Advancement is Capped

It is suggested that level advancement is capped at 12th or 14th level. Beyond that, further features might be gained in the same ways higher ability scores can be.

Calculating Encounter Thresholds

Use 6 + (levels above 6th ÷ 2) to determine what might be an appropriate challenge for a character. For example, an 8th level fighter in this variant counts as 7th level.

Class Level and Demi-level Advancement Tables (no longer needed)

As it turned out, the simplifications above work with the standard class tables. I suggest using some of the TCoE class options to improve the play of specific classes. One other minor balancing detail, I suggest giving fighters a second fighting style and a minor buff such as two uses of indomitable, somewhere between 9th and 11th, to broaden their options and as an offset to losing their second extra-attack.
 
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Tom B1

Explorer
I'm thinking to look to the same idea, but possibly cap at L9 or L10. I get the point of the demi-levels and some of the other things you've called out, and some seem workable, but overall it doesn't reach the simplicity of the original E6 to me. Not saying I have the answer as I just started thinking about this today, but cleanliness and a good fit will be required for this to work.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I'm thinking to look to the same idea, but possibly cap at L9 or L10. I get the point of the demi-levels and some of the other things you've called out, and some seem workable, but overall it doesn't reach the simplicity of the original E6 to me. Not saying I have the answer as I just started thinking about this today, but cleanliness and a good fit will be required for this to work.
I've created 'E6' versions of all classes following the principles above using the Fantasy Grounds VTT. In use, they're very simple - just like using normal classes. More work for me to set up and balance, but simpler to use than the original E6 because players just follow the (modified) class advancement tables.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
I've created 'E6' versions of all classes following the principles above using the Fantasy Grounds VTT. In use, they're very simple - just like using normal classes. More work for me to set up and balance, but simpler to use than the original E6 because players just follow the (modified) class advancement tables.
When I was running Stargate SG-21 (a D20 based off Spycraft), I figured out all the curves used for the various levels so the characters could multi-class better. It was a bit of a calculational effort for a time, but once I was done, it was straightforward in use. I get the notion that the less elegant parts can be sorted by the DM ahead of time and baked into something easily used by the players.

One of my issues with E6 was that you grow fast-ish, then you just cap out and used feats which were the major downfall (over the long term) in 3.x series games. The difference between optimized feat trees and a more eclectic collection of feat choices was huge at higher levels. And building higher level NPCs using player rules meant the GM had to know all the different feat trees and the ways to get to certain abilities which made a high level NPC party hard to build (slow) and a bit overwhelming in play (slowed the game).

I though perhaps it would be more interesting way to do it would be to take some of the idea of E6 and stretch it over 10-12 levels.

Character Advancement

Experience PointsRevised LevelOriginal Level
00.51
3001.02
9001.53
2,7002.04
6,5002.55
14,0003.06
23,0003.57
34,0004.08
48,0004.59
64,0005.010
85,0005.511
100,0006.012


I feel like doing this would let the characters do more adventures before capping out while still preserving the final capped level.

Obviously I'd have to figure out the best way to split a level's gains across two levels. But like your approach, the work gets done by the GM then the players just have a different progression chart.

I might want to tamper with the particular progression of XP to encourage a reasonably quick progression to 1.5 or 2.0 and then a stead progression between 2.0 to 4.0 or 4.5 and then make the last 3-4 levels the long play zone.

What are the benefits of this approach:
1. You stretch the length of the campaign without going too far into the heroic fantasy tier.
2. You still get to give players rewards (albeit more modestly) fairly regularly.

I'd also do what some folks have done and make particular higher level spells or abilities you want in the game to be allowed as Rituals or (in the case of spells at least) enabled by 'cooperative casting' (a way to let multiple casters share in a higher level cast).

I'm not certain it is 'better' than what you've suggested (could be worse in play I suppose) but it appeals to my sense of a more even progression and I'm not too font of handing out feats period, let along a whack of them at the highest level.

In my sense of splitting things up:

The half level would probably gain:
Half the HD
Some of the spells or spell points
Have to look at class power gains, prof bonus, new profficiencies, etc. and figure out how to split them out.
I've always wanted characters to gain more non-combat skills, so that might be something I increment as I've always liked more non-combat focus (exploration, social interaction, and other pillars that D&D has inherently - expansion/growth being an example).
Spells would stay in discrete levels but the spell progression might change a bit to make this work across a stretched number of levels.
 

Mercurius

Legend
My issue with E6 is that reduces the satisfaction of potentially leveling up 19 times to just 5 and, let's face it, for many/most, leveling up is a major element of fun in D&D.

I was just thinking about this while re-watching (again) the Lord of the Rings films. While the Fellowship (aside from the hobbits) are rather heroic and would be the equivalent of high level in Middle-earth, as Ryan Stoughton said, they probably max out around 5th level in D&D terms (maybe a tad higher in 5E...I'm thinking Gandalf might be a F5/W3, Aragorn a F4/R3, Legolas a F4/R2, Gimli and Boromir F5...or something like that).

This is illustrated in the fight with the cave troll, which is probably equivalent to a hill giant - a CR 5 creature. They dispatched it without significant damage, but it wasn't easy.

It isn't just LotR, either. Most epic fantasy--whether of film or literature--doesn't have the power range of D&D characters, which at higher levels are more like MCU/DEU characters. The battle in Batman v Superman vs Doomsday isn't that different from high level D&D characters facing a Tarrasque.

So for me, the question would be: how to keep lots of levels, but bring the power level down to more traditional fantasy levels? Not necessarily low fantasy or hyper-realistic Medieval fantasy, but at least what we see and read in most epic fantasy.

I also like the idea of the option for super-heroic characters, sort of like the various demi-gods of the Malazan world: Anomander Rake, Caladan Brood, Icarium, etc, all of whom would be 20th+ level in D&D.

So for me, the ideal D&D would have 20 levels that are similar to 5E's levels 1-10 or 12, and then extra "epic" levels that bring the game towards superheroism. I suppose it would be easier to cap at 10, with levels 11-15 being "epic" and 16-20 being "legendary," or some such. Maybe some special quest is needed to "unlock" those higher levels.

Another element is the nature of combat in D&D, particularly HP as an abstraction. A more traditional fantasy would involve taking a wound being far more significant. I've never loved the fact that in D&D you can go from, say, 100 HP down to 5, and still be operating at full steam. Or that when you have 100 HP and someone hits you with a battleaxe, you say "ouch, I guess," and then keep going.

So a more realistic approach--and one that drives with cinematic and literary fantasy--would probably involve separating AC into two components: Defense and Damage Reduction, with the former being a generally higher value that current AC, and the latter being specific to armor (natural or not) and magic. Then HP would be greatly reduced and not go up with level, except for maybe an increase in CON. Maybe something like Base Racial HP (6-12) + CON bonus + Class bonus X size modifier.

So you'd roll to hit Defense, which is generally higher than AC, and then if you score a hit, DR is subtracted. Makes a lot more sense and isn't that much more complicated. Character death wouldn't necessarily be more common, but getting hit would be more meaningful.

On the other hand, D&D is D&D and works just fine. But the above is the sort of thing I would have liked to see incorporated as a "modular option" the once-promised version of 5E.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
I think E6 was a great solution to the wonky power scaling of 3.X, but I’m not so sure the idea ports over well to 5e. But if you wanted to do something similar, I’m not sure 6th level is the right level to stop at. I would at least go to 8th so you’ve hit two ASI levels, but no higher than 10th, since 11th level is the start of the next tier.

As for what to gain on level up… I feel like “demi-levels” are too complex, and also wouldn’t feel like an E6 system. Just a powered-down version of regular level advancement. Instead, I would look at what scaling you want to remove. HP? Proficiency bonus? Class features? Damage per round? ASIs? Then just remove whatever you don’t want to scale from level up, and keep the rest.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think the original E6 framework would still work fine in 5E--in some ways better. You go up to level 6 normally. Then, instead of gaining levels after that, you just get a +2 ASI every so often, which you can swap out for a feat as normal. With the feat list as it stands today, this gives you plenty of scope to keep expanding your character's repertoire.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I think E6 was a great solution to the wonky power scaling of 3.X, but I’m not so sure the idea ports over well to 5e. But if you wanted to do something similar, I’m not sure 6th level is the right level to stop at. I would at least go to 8th so you’ve hit two ASI levels, but no higher than 10th, since 11th level is the start of the next tier.

As for what to gain on level up… I feel like “demi-levels” are too complex, and also wouldn’t feel like an E6 system. Just a powered-down version of regular level advancement. Instead, I would look at what scaling you want to remove. HP? Proficiency bonus? Class features? Damage per round? ASIs? Then just remove whatever you don’t want to scale from level up, and keep the rest.
In play demi-levels are super-simple, you just gain a level and get what is on the class progression table. Above level 6, each demi-level scales power less aggressively. A 6+5 character is about as powerful as a 9th normally, albeit more vulnerable because HP don't scale after 6th.

I'll past my class tables later. They are implemented in Fantasy grounds. Players get to enjoy 11 levels of character advancement, just attenuated in power above 6. Note that I removed the features from 11th that start tier 3, e.g. Extra Attack.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I think the original E6 framework would still work fine in 5E--in some ways better. You go up to level 6 normally. Then, instead of gaining levels after that, you just get a +2 ASI every so often, which you can swap out for a feat as normal. With the feat list as it stands today, this gives you plenty of scope to keep expanding your character's repertoire.
I felt that there were plenty of great features in classes and subclasses above 6th, so wanted to offer more than fears and stat bumps.

5E has far fewer, and less granular feats than 3E, so coverage is less even, as a minor point. What you suggest might work: it was my starting point.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
@Tom B1 @Charlaquin As an example, here are my 'E6' advancement tables for barbarian and bard -

E6 bbn brd.png


Both hit dice and proficiency bonus stop scaling beyond 6th level. 'Practice' replaces the 8th level ASI, and is a half-ASI (a 1 point bump to any ability score). I'm using some TCoE options - those that increase choice, and for a few classes those that improve balance. Ability scores are generated using a deck of twelve cards - two drawn for each ability, assigned in order drawn - with TCoE floating ASIs. In point-buy terms, the deck produces 18-20 point characters, with scores 7-15.

Overall, this yields powered-down characters who feel very mortal throughout their career. It's not at what I would call final balance yet. Maybe in six months time...
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Hey, if it works for you, awesome! To me, part of the appeal of E6 was the simplicity of just gaining a Feat when you would level up. Having an advancement table, even a simple one, would make it feel to me like a powered-down version of regular level advancement instead of an E6 system.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
To me, part of the appeal of E6 was the simplicity of just gaining a Feat when you would level up.
It can't be the simplicity that appealed to you, as my version is simpler. It must be the gaining the feat: perhaps the choice was what counted for you?

Having an advancement table, even a simple one, would make it feel to me like a powered-down version of regular level advancement instead of an E6 system.
On the one hand, it feels on target to have designed a powered-down version of regular advancement, seeing as that is the motivating idea behind E6. On the other hand, I imagine you mean something like you'd want to get away from regular level advancement completely, but it is hard to see exactly why? Given the goal is certainly a powered-down version of advancement beyond 6th level, it must be something else that prompts concern.

Is it that the kitset nature of advancement beyond 6th that really appealed to you?
 

squibbles

Adventurer
I think E6 was a great solution to the wonky power scaling of 3.X, but I’m not so sure the idea ports over well to 5e. But if you wanted to do something similar, I’m not sure 6th level is the right level to stop at. I would at least go to 8th so you’ve hit two ASI levels, but no higher than 10th, since 11th level is the start of the next tier.

As for what to gain on level up… I feel like “demi-levels” are too complex, and also wouldn’t feel like an E6 system. Just a powered-down version of regular level advancement. Instead, I would look at what scaling you want to remove. HP? Proficiency bonus? Class features? Damage per round? ASIs? Then just remove whatever you don’t want to scale from level up, and keep the rest.
@clearstream I like your revised character progression, but I feel like @Charlaquin is correct here. This isn't really an E6 system. Its an E11 system with powered-down progression after level 6.

Does that matter?

No, not at all. I'd just call it something else; "low power, high fantasy 5e" ... or some such.

[...] I've drafted rules that end scaling at 6th, and then offer "demi-levels". I'd love some criticism. Does the overall structure feel right? Are the four example classes fairly balanced? Any obvious gotchas or omissions? Note that the intent is that demi-levels are much weaker than normal class levels. Although they go up to 6+5, the third attack for Fighters (and all the scaling implied around that!) is cut. Below, the proposed rules,
I don't think you need to call them demi-levels, since you can put your revised scaling into the new rules directly. But the 6+4, 6+5, etc. is a cool notation.

5E E6

Normal character level advancement stops at 6th level. After that, a character who gains the specified experience point total to gain a new level, advances instead by an increment called a demi-level. Their level is then denoted 6+1, 6+2, 6+3 etc. No further full levels can be gained, and scaling terminates. Meaning that,
  • The maximum number of hit dice is 6
  • The highest proficiency bonus is +3
  • Cantrip effects don’t increase past 6th level
  • Class and subclass features granted by full class levels, like Extra Attack, Sneak Attack, Spellcasting or Wild Shape, don't scale further
There are some features that need class level scaling to be worthwhile, like monk ki points. Being stuck with only 6 of those would make 6+5 monks feel pretty stunted. Similarly, you'd want to think about exceptions for subclass features that scale with level or proficiency bonus. Getting stuck with 6d8 psionic power dice as a psi-warrior would also feel pretty lame--their dice would only ever scale once, at 5th level. Unlike the reduced scaling of sneak attack, extra attack, or spells, I think these kinds of features would feel almost vestigial. You'll need to look at them case by case.

Also, I see that you left a lot of the subclass features in the demi-level progression. I generally like that but, and I'm sure you know this, some subclass features have a lot more power in them than others and some classes have a lot more power in their subclasses than others. Rangers and Monks shouldn't get their 11th level subclass features, since those are setup to be (roughly) equivalent to fighters' 3rd attack or paladins' improved divine smite.

And, while you took the 3rd attack away from fighters, I notice that you didn't take the equivalent 11th level power spike, relentless rage, away from barbarians. Any particular reason for that?

In summary, demi-levels are ignored for features that scale with class or character level. That notwithstanding,
  • Features that trigger replacements, such as sorcerer spellcasting allowing a character to replace one spell they know at each level, continue to do so at each demi-level
  • Class and subclass features granted by demi-levels are gained at their lowest level, and don’t scale further
  • Demi-level advancement tables can contain express exceptions to the above
I'm not sure what you mean by "Class and subclass features granted by demi-levels are gained at their lowest level, and don’t scale further", can you give an example?

Hit points after 6th level
No additional hit dice are granted beyond 6th level. Instead, each time you gain a demi-level, roll all your hit dice, adding your Constitution modifier and any bonuses from features like Toughness to each die. If higher, the roll replaces your hit point maximum.
Cool!

Keep in mind, that this helps classes with larger hit dice a lot more, especially Barbarians. Also, are you assuming that HP is rolled, because this would do a lot more to help below average PCs than, say, wizards taking 4HP per level.

Also, if HP increases with level but HD don't, short rest HD will get less and less useful across the demi-levels. That's probably not a big enough deal to matter, but it's a consideration.

Spell Enhancement Slots

Some demi-levels grant enhancement slots, noting a level. An enhancement slot can be expended at the same time as the spell slot when casting a spell. The spell is cast at the level of the enhancement slot for effects that count the spell level, like dispel magic, and if it has increased effect at a higher level, it takes effect at the level of the enhancement slot, instead of the spell slot. Enhancement slots refresh when you finish a short rest.
This is cool. I'm not sure what the result of giving a consequential short rest recovering feature to the long rest classes would be, but I feel like its a good thing that would help harmonize the 5 minute workday and short rest classes.

However, upcasting is a really lumpy mechanic. Upcasting invisibility or hold person at 5th level gives you 4 targets instead of 1, but upcasting fireball at 5th only gives you 10d6 damage instead of 8d6. This changes the usefulness of a lot of spells. Tbh, the worst offender would probably be spirit guardians--its scaling is good enough that clerics already choose to upcast it in place of their 5th level spells (and I noticed you gave clerics a 5th level enhancement slot at 6+1, which seems tailor made for this). You would want to consider which classes/subclasses/playstyles get the biggest boost from upcasting, and decide if you're happy with that.

---
edit

another thought: since you are writing your own post 6 tables anyway, you might consider changing the spell slot progression, i.e. give casters a few extra 1st or 2nd level spells to pad out their resource depletion without changing their power level.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
@clearstream I like your revised character progression, but I feel like @Charlaquin is correct here. This isn't really an E6 system. Its an E11 system with powered-down progression after level 6.

Does that matter?

No, not at all. I'd just call it something else; "low power, high fantasy 5e" ... or some such.
I guess the question is how to efficiently communicate the core idea that scaling is going to be markedly less from 6th level?

I don't think you need to call them demi-levels, since you can put your revised scaling into the new rules directly. But the 6+4, 6+5, etc. is a cool notation.
I'm fond of that notation, too. It's probably fine to just call them levels - level 6+1 etc.

There are some features that need class level scaling to be worthwhile, like monk ki points. Being stuck with only 6 of those would make 6+5 monks feel pretty stunted. Similarly, you'd want to think about exceptions for subclass features that scale with level or proficiency bonus. Getting stuck with 6d8 psionic power dice as a psi-warrior would also feel pretty lame--their dice would only ever scale once, at 5th level. Unlike the reduced scaling of sneak attack, extra attack, or spells, I think these kinds of features would feel almost vestigial. You'll need to look at them case by case.
There's probably some justice to that. As I have worked on this I have become more aware of the (mild) scaling built into in-between levels (i.e. levels that are not 5th or 11th, which are typically a marked step up in power for characters). Possibly some kind of reduced scaling on those features.

Worth noting that this pass needed to be good enough to start using in my campaign. I expect in six months or so I will have enough information from play to say what is really required.

Also, I see that you left a lot of the subclass features in the demi-level progression. I generally like that but, and I'm sure you know this, some subclass features have a lot more power in them than others and some classes have a lot more power in their subclasses than others. Rangers and Monks shouldn't get their 11th level subclass features, since those are setup to be (roughly) equivalent to fighters' 3rd attack or paladins' improved divine smite.
Very true. As I have it today, monks and rangers keep their features, but paladins lose their improved smite. That is because most of the analysis on these classes suggests that monks are very likely to be fine with their 11th subclass feature, rangers might be, and paladins are strong enough without.

And, while you took the 3rd attack away from fighters, I notice that you didn't take the equivalent 11th level power spike, relentless rage, away from barbarians. Any particular reason for that?
I only recently figured out the role that relentless rage had for barbarians. I will be changing it. Any thoughts on what to swap in for it? I was thinking perhaps persistent rage?

I'm not sure what you mean by "Class and subclass features granted by demi-levels are gained at their lowest level, and don’t scale further", can you give an example?
Some features have built in scaling. My current thinking is that they shouldn't get that scaling. I might be wrong on that. For example, battle master superiority dice scale. Should they get that scaling?

Keep in mind, that this helps classes with larger hit dice a lot more, especially Barbarians. Also, are you assuming that HP is rolled, because this would do a lot more to help below average PCs than, say, wizards taking 4HP per level.
That's right, after 1st level, hit points are rolled.

Also, if HP increases with level but HD don't, short rest HD will get less and less useful across the demi-levels. That's probably not a big enough deal to matter, but it's a consideration.
Well, from modelling, hit points don't increase too much on average. If a character gets lucky, they will still be kept somewhat near less lucky characters by their equal short rest recovery. A feature, rather than a bug, is what I am saying :)

However, upcasting is a really lumpy mechanic. Upcasting invisibility or hold person at 5th level gives you 4 targets instead of 1, but upcasting fireball at 5th only gives you 10d6 damage instead of 8d6. This changes the usefulness of a lot of spells. Tbh, the worst offender would probably be spirit guardians--its scaling is good enough that clerics already choose to upcast it in place of their 5th level spells (and I noticed you gave clerics a 5th level enhancement slot at 6+1, which seems tailor made for this). You would want to consider which classes/subclasses/playstyles get the biggest boost from upcasting, and decide if you're happy with that.
It is lumpy, for sure. As these levels come more into play the correct design should become clearer. The first cleric enhancement slot was a typo! It should be 4th.

another thought: since you are writing your own post 6 tables anyway, you might consider changing the spell slot progression, i.e. give casters a few extra 1st or 2nd level spells to pad out their resource depletion without changing their power level.
You may be right. I find casters strong at out table - at a certain point they're more limited by opportunities to cast, than spell slots - so for now my thought is to see how they go with heavily curtailed slots. I don't want to see them constantly call for rests, but I would like to see them needing to make choices.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
It can't be the simplicity that appealed to you, as my version is simpler.
Is it? Maybe having it in a table just makes it feel more involved. Like, I level up, I have to check a chart to see what I get this level, rather than just always knowing it’s gonna be a Feat. Even if that’s technically less complex, it still feels… I don’t know, not as streamlined?
It must be the gaining the feat: perhaps the choice was what counted for you?
I mean, I definitely like making choices when I level up. I don’t know as that’s necessarily the element that makes your system not feel like E6 to me, but it’s definitely an aspect of E6 that I liked.
On the one hand, it feels on target to have designed a powered-down version of regular advancement, seeing as that is the motivating idea behind E6. On the other hand, I imagine you mean something like you'd want to get away from regular level advancement completely, but it is hard to see exactly why? Given the goal is certainly a powered-down version of advancement beyond 6th level, it must be something else that prompts concern.

Is it that the kitset nature of advancement beyond 6th that really appealed to you?
I think you and I must view E6 differently, because “a powered down version of regular advancement” is definitely not the motivating idea of E6 as I see it. The point of E6 isn’t to slow advancement but to halt vertical advancement entirely past a certain point, while maintaining horizontal advancement. It’s shutting off the level treadmill but still offering expanding character options. “Leveling up” stops being about accumulating more power and becomes about refining your expression of your character.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think you and I must view E6 differently, because “a powered down version of regular advancement” is definitely not the motivating idea of E6 as I see it. The point of E6 isn’t to slow advancement but to halt vertical advancement entirely past a certain point, while maintaining horizontal advancement. It’s shutting off the level treadmill but still offering expanding character options. “Leveling up” stops being about accumulating more power and becomes about refining your expression of your character.
This is the best summary I've ever seen of why E6 appeals to me.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Of course, I just prefer horizontal character advancement over vertical in general. Bounded accuracy was the thing that sold me on 5e, and I would always rather take a Feat than increase an ability score. Just increasing abstract numbers is boring to me, I want level ups to give me new things I can do.

EDT: And maybe that’s why I don’t feel like 5e needs an E6. The vertical advancement in 5e is already pretty minimal in pretty much every department save HP and DPR (which I think could do with being toned down by a fair bit), so I don’t feel the urge to stop leveling after a certain point and just take Feats instead.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
Of course, I just prefer horizontal character advancement over vertical in general. Bounded accuracy was the thing that sold me on 5e, and I would always rather take a Feat than increase an ability score. Just increasing abstract numbers is boring to me, I want level ups to give me new things I can do.

EDT: And maybe that’s why I don’t feel like 5e needs an E6. The vertical advancement in 5e is already pretty minimal in pretty much every department save HP and DPR (which I think could do with being toned down by a fair bit), so I don’t feel the urge to stop leveling after a certain point and just take Feats instead.
On the one hand I liked your summary of the appeal of E6. On the other hand, your criticism of my approach contains contradictions that are at odds with your usual clear thinking. Overall, what you say seems to confirm that I'm going in the right direction: continuing horizontal levelling within the established 5th edition framework, while curtailing vertical levelling. To argue that toning down HP and DPR progression is not 'powered down' is semantics, but anyway, that is what I meant by powered down.

With my approach, characters continue to level, but perhaps you mean that 11th seems unnecessarily low as a cap? It's where I have designed and balanced to so far. Once my players get there (so I can see what is working) I might fill in the other levels (and possibly tweak to 'E8' as you suggest.)

So thank you for your thoughts, they have been helpful. Perhaps not in the way you intended them to be. It does feel like there is something else going on in your response - a dislike for what I've proposed that you haven't so far been able to put into words.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
There are some features that need class level scaling to be worthwhile, like monk ki points.
Funnily enough, I just noticed that as implemented in Fantasy Grounds, where I am running the E6 campaign from, I did adjust to let ki and sorcery points (and similar) continue to increase all the way to 11th.

There's some divergence between what I ended up implementing, and the written design. I plan to release the VTT version as a module for FG in about a year's time (to allow for sufficient play). At that point, I will bring the written design up to date and publish it also. Possibly as a free DMsGuild supplement - or maybe just a pdf here on Enworld. The rules are intended as part of a larger campaign context.


[EDIT It strikes me that perhaps co-opting the 'E6' appellation while not following the method - stop at 6, then gain a feat per so-much XP - might be irritating to some. I wanted to convey the sense that vertical advancement stops or slows markedly at 6th, with motives and aims in mind very near those for the original mod. I'd welcome any thoughts for a title that captures that while avoiding what might seem to be an unjustified theft from the original E6.]
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
On the one hand I liked your summary of the appeal of E6. On the other hand, your criticism of my approach contains contradictions that are at odds with your usual clear thinking.
That seems unnecessary 🙁
Overall, what you say seems to confirm that I'm going in the right direction: continuing horizontal levelling within the established 5th edition framework, while curtailing vertical levelling. To argue that toning down HP and DPR progression is not 'powered down' is semantics, but anyway, that is what I meant by powered down.
Maybe I’m not expressing myself clearly. Part of what makes your system not feel like E6 to me is the fact that any vertical scaling remains. The rolling of hit dice for the chance to increase your HP, the gaining of spell enhancement slots, continuing to gain ability score increases, these things all feel very not-E6 to me. The hit dice procedure also contribute to the feeling of greater complexity than E6, because it’s a leveling up procedure that must be followed, beyond just picking a Feat.
With my approach, characters continue to level, but perhaps you mean that 11th seems unnecessarily low as a cap? It's where I have designed and balanced to so far. Once my players get there (so I can see what is working) I might fill in the other levels (and possibly tweak to 'E8' as you suggest.)
It’s not the 6+5 cap that bothers me, it’s the fact that some sort of leveling occurs after the cutoff point (be it 6th level or 8th or whatever) at all. In E6, you stop gaining levels after 6th, though you could theoretically continue gaining Feats forever (or until you run out of Feats in the books that you meet the prerequisites for).
So thank you for your thoughts, they have been helpful. Perhaps not in the way you intended them to be. It does feel like there is something else going on in your response - a dislike for what I've proposed that you haven't so far been able to put into words.
It isn’t that I dislike your system necessarily, it just isn’t what I would want out of a 5e E6. But that’s fine it’s not for me; I’m just glad to know that my critiques are useful to you in some way!
[EDIT It strikes me that perhaps co-opting the 'E6' appellation while not following the method - stop at 6, then gain a feat per so-much XP - might be irritating to some. I wanted to convey the sense that vertical advancement stops or slows markedly at 6th, with motives and aims in mind very near those for the original mod. I'd welcome any thoughts for a title that captures that while avoiding what might seem to be an unjustified theft from the original E6.]
Yeah, maybe that’s what it is. Like I said, I don’t necessarily dislike this system, it just doesn’t feel like E6 to me.
 

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