But it’s not just that the players are limited to 3rd level spells. The game-changing thing is that the world views them as the stuff of legends. That alone reshaped D&D into an entirely different genre.
Remember we have to think about other classes for HP. At 5th a wizard or sorcerer could have 30 HP assuming primary in Int and secondary in Con. At 6th, 36. A bard or rogue may well go primary Dex/Cha, secondary Cha/Dex (or Wis), so they might well have at 5th 25HP, and 6th 30 HP. They're unlikely to boost Con given their interests. At 5th one fireball will do enough damage on average to incinerate all four.
in 5th edition there are not the granular feats to make the original solution work.
Great post! I agree about monster HP. I am cautious of over-rewarding alpha-strike gameplay, where a combat participant has a reasonable likelihood of downing an opponent in one hit if they go all in. 5th level might not be the watershed for that, but it is somewhere around there.5th is about perfect for me because I want that extra touch of vulnerability.
To help with that, and to cut down on combat time - I would cut monster HP in half across the board.
Interesting! Do you mean that a character can spend an inspiration during a rest to recover HP as if it were one of their HD?I would also roll what inspiration does into Hit Dice.
Yes, I agree that the sum of feats from PHB, XGE and TCoE, plus the higher tier features of each class and subclass made available as picks as if they were feats, would provide enough choice. The secondary challenge for design is that giving players the ability to freely sequence those features leads to a very large number of combinations and permutations. E6 (or E5 in your case) might envision a dozen to one score picks from perhaps around 80 options (feats + features). Supposing we don't care about sequencing as much as we do combinations, then its 80! / 20!(80 - 20)! which you can see is a pretty large number.I completely disagree. 5e is loaded with feats - they are called class/sub-class features. They are just feat trees on rails so you can't pick a bad build. (In theory...)
After 5th level just open them up as part of the normal "feat" selection, but only available to the class in question.
Of course you will have to break out your sharpie pen, and cut those class features/feats that would violate the spirit of E5 D&D.
It's an approximate evaluation of each feature, in ASIs. One ASI = 2. A half-ASI is 1. Greater than an ASI = 4. So a d12 HD is greater than an ASI on the theory thatI'm curious, what's the meaning of the "1,2,4" heading at the top of the columns for each class?
It's not so much that I am wholly against that gameplay - I've enjoyed it in other settings - but I think of it as a choice for your campaign.
Yes, I agree that the sum of feats from PHB, XGE and TCoE, plus the higher tier features of each class and subclass made available as picks as if they were feats, would provide enough choice.
Interesting! Do you mean that a character can spend an inspiration during a rest to recover HP as if it were one of their HD?
The contention that I would offer back to you is that once we go from theorycrafting to a mod intended to be resiliently useful to a large number of players, what do you think the fewest possible changes are to deliver the E6 experience?
To my reading, many posters see the customisation as the most exciting part of E6. I am not in the camp. I see the vulnerability and heroes-not-super-heroes as being the heart of E6.
I'm thinking more of one-shots on PCs, but I agree with you: it's really a feature. I am after lethality. Capped at 6th an average fighter has 40HP, while an average wizard 26HP. At 5th they might have 34 and 22 respectively. The difference is still meaningful against higher CR creatures because in most cases the fighter will need to be hit an additional time by an attack dealing average damage, compared with the wizard. I'll keep an eye on the level capped at as something to possibly change.I like a bit of what I call "cinematic" genre in my fantasy gaming. I see PC's being able to one-shot an Orc or Goblin as a feature, not a bug. Even Tolkien had Legolas and Gimli doing an impromptu Orc killing contest in the battle at helms deep... Yet if either got struck with a solid blow that would have been a big deal.
I like a similar level of emulation in my game play. Yes you can kill several Orcs, but a hit is a hit, and if one scores a crit on you that should still be a Big Deal. Especially for the non fighters.
These are reasonable measures to constrain the number of combinations. Something to look at would be cherry-picking sub-class features. Say with barbarian. Some sub-classes have fantastic 3rd level features, while others have better features at 6th. Free choice will let mechanically minded players choose the strongest features from across levels. That should show itself in play as some features hardly ever taken and others almost always taken. I tried measuring feat preferences with a survey here awhile back and got some reasonable data: a similar method might be used if several groups were playing using your rules.An Important note is that the higher tier features of each class and subclass has seen the sharpie pen so that the outright OP stuff is gone.
The remaining higher tier features are only available to PC's of that particular class. Like in my example a Barbarian PC can access all the class and subclass features as feats, and select from the general feat list.
But that Barbarian cannot access the class and subclass features from a different class. So your Barbarian PC is not loading up on Ranger class abilities, and your Ranger PC is not getting a Barbarians Totem feature.
And after thinking about it a bit more - referring to my Barbarian example - I would have the ASI's kick in at the standard levels.
So now the Barbarian only has 11 selections to make over 15 levels. And I could see making the selection even less free form than that.
The 3 +1 rages are now assigned a level when they kick in, which takes 3 feat slots.
The +2 Rage damage is assigned a level when they kick in taking 1 more feat slot.
So then the Barbarian PC will only have 7 feat choices to make over the next 15 levels (about one every other level.)
That seems about right to me.
It keeps down on the ability tracking, and overall power level. While the PC does get a something that is a positive at every level.
In fact my E5 Barbarian actually will have three fewer class features/Feats by level 20, but that is counterbalanced IMHO by having Feature/Feat selection after level 5 being entirely free-form, and IMHO the limitations just making things faster in play at the table in the long run.
I now only have to go through every other class in the PHB in a similar way...
I'm thinking more of one-shots on PCs, but I agree with you: it's really a feature. I am after lethality. Capped at 6th an average fighter has 40HP, while an average wizard 26HP. At 5th they might have 34 and 22 respectively. The difference is still meaningful against higher CR creatures because in most cases the fighter will need to be hit an additional time by an attack dealing average damage, compared with the wizard. I'll keep an eye on the level capped at as something to possibly change.
Maybe it would be worth at least saying that the pick must be of a feature that would be available to the barbarian at their current level?
You mentioned creating a list of features that can't be picked. I think that is essentially attempting to achieve absolute balance. It will trim the top. Players will still be able to cherry-pick from the rest (and new players perhaps walk into trap picks.)
Intuitively, I wouldn't both limit character HP and reduce monster damage dealing. That seems self-defeating (characters have fewer HP, but monsters deal less damage!) My feeling is not at all that monsters deal too much damage - only a reality check that fighter HP will still feel meaningfully different from wizard HP. Also, by my estimation capped at 5th a wizard is fairly likely to be taken down in one round by many of higher CR creatures (at least CR 5, and upwards), while at 6th I think they generally will survive one round.Well, my solution to that would be that in addition to cutting monster HP in half, would be to dial back the drama a bit on the higher CR monsters damage. Dial back the damage dice one die step, knocking the number of damage dice in half, or something similar. One would have to use a sharpie pen and their judgement on a case by case basis.
Part of the reason IMO The HP count and damage on some of the creatures is so high is so that they can remain a threat to PC groups as they continually level up and their HP increases. With an E5/6 mod that is just not needed.
Agreed!But ultimately IMHO, that extra 6 HP or so will not make much difference if the PC stands in front of a creature after taking a good shot.
Also agreed, and a strong reason not to weaken monsters! In my experience the great majority of by-the-book creatures are not too challenging for characters.For me part of E5/6 feel is the complete paradigm shift of how many, and of what kind of creatures you can throw at your PC's.
Agreed.As for dealing with things like Dragons - well there was a reason long polearms were once a thing in the game back in the day!
IMO rules for creating/setting big traps, the use of long polearms like Pikes, and ballista should be a thing. If not outright necessary for the bigger creatures in the MM.
Also Henchmen/Hirelings; Dragon hunting is a group event.
As an example, for Clerics interested in joining melee, it is hard to see why anyone would pick the Bonus Proficiencies feature from Life or Nature when they could instead gain the strictly better version from Tempest or War. Getting martial weapons and heavy armor, rather than heavy armor. I don't see why any fighter choosing Combat Superiority from Battlemaster would invest a pick in Student of War or Know Your Enemy when they could instead add Spellcasting or Arcane Charge from Eldritch Knight. Similarly, what prevents a player taking say Totem Spirit and then Retaliation?I don't think so. Looking at how my Barbarian would work and the remaining class features there are no real "trap" abilities. Everything is useful.
Of course you will get people who will do the math and figure the ideal "build" for dealing the most damage in this or that circumstance, but they were doing that already in normal 5e with multiclassing...
Also for me part of it would be taking a sharpie pen to parts of the feats that are OP as well. Like the Alert feat; I'd either re-write it, or it is out! It's a bit ridiculous. So for my E5 I'd have to go through the feats with my sharpie pen as well and take out stuff that crosses into the superhero ability spectrum as well.
Well, I believe you turned out to be right. In my defense, it was not so much a matter of complexity, as clarity of concerns. I realised I had taken on a class balancing project hidden within my E6 heroes-not-super-heroes project. Once I dropped the former, I found that it was possible to deliver the latter much as you suggested - by limiting scaling along a few fundamental dimensions. (OP revised to capture that.)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.