D&D General D&D without resource management

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Anyway, I am curious what other folks think D&D without resource management -- especially rest based resource management -- would look like, and still "be D&D."
I thought about this a year or so ago, and this is what I came up with:

A lot of groups IME hand-wave away things like food and ammunition-- so removing that wouldn't be an issue, as long as you "have it and can replenish it" when appropriate. I don't know if you'd want to do something like "you either have it or you don't" thing. Sometimes one element of resource management is the mundane: food, water, ammunition, healer kits, etc.

Spellcasting would be a check. You can either have, depending on the thematic you want:
1. no penalty for failure other than the lost action
2. a penalty for it with something like you must "rest" before you can cast again.

You could get rid of hit points by having a fortitude check/save of some source whenever you take damage. If you make the check, the damage doesn't affect your combat ability, if you fail it by X then Y happens, and if you fail it by Z you are unconscious and dying (or maybe dead if you fail by Z and the roll is a natural 1?). More "resilient" creatures would have better bonuses to the damage:

For example: You take 8 damage. You make a Fortitude check against DC 18 and you have a +5 bonus. If you roll 13 or higher, you are fine. If you roll 3-12, you have "Y happens", if you roll 2 you are unconscious and dying, and if you roll 1 you failed by 15 or more and are dead.

Every other feature could be turned into a recharge mechanic or check. You might argue a recharge mechanic is still a resource-management thing, depending on how you view it. 🤷‍♂️ Personally, I love recharge mechanics and would love to see it in more places in the game.
 

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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
A purely skill based system would be possible with spells and manouveres both mediated as skill checks, HP becomes a damage save with either a condition track or called shots to Stats (eg Con damage = fatigue, Dex damage = disability, Str damage = wounds, Wis damage = Blind)

Even equpment can be run as an Inventory check (roll d20 to see if you have access to a desired item)

my own homebreww Spell system breaks spells down into Factors - Duration, Range, Target size, Power + complications. Casters set their factors to determine DC then use their particular Skill (School)
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
A purely skill based system would be possible with spells and manouveres both mediated as skill checks, HP becomes a damage save with either a condition track or called shots to Stats (eg Con damage = fatigue, Dex damage = disability, Str damage = wounds, Wis damage = Blind)

Even equpment can be run as an Inventory check (roll d20 to see if you have access to a desired item)
D20 Modern replaced money and currency with a check; can't remember what it was called but I remember rolling to see if I could afford a motorcycle.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I think you could still keep hit points (or wounds, if you'd rather), since tracking health in some manner is pretty much in every RPG out there, which suggests that there may not be a better (or at least easier) method to do it.

Of course the biggest change would come to casters. I think the best solution would be to go to a "casting check" system. Personally I would not set DCs to particular spells, but instead let caster make a check to find out how much magical energy they can gather that turn, and then decide whether to use it immediately, or keep gathering next turn to be able to use bigger effects or more powerful spells. It would require a totally different system for casting and using spells, but that would not necessarily be a bad thing.
I think something like this would require far fewer spells, but each spell given multiple options for each "point" of magical energy spent on them. It's probably easiest to imagine with harmful spells, since the more points, the greater the damage and/or larger the effect.

Perhaps something like this (totally making stuff up here with no thought behind it; I'm sure it's full of holes):

Spells still have levels, but the levels determine how much Power is needed to cast the spell. This may mean that there are more than 9 spell levels.

A spellcaster can automatically spend an amount of Power on their turn dependent on their level. For the moment, I'll say it's equal to their half their proficiency bonus. So a 1st level wizard has two Power and can cast a 1st-level spell using their action.

In order to gain Power, the caster needs to make a check of some sort. Maybe's its a spellcasting ability check, maybe it's Arcana or another appropriate skill, depending on class. On a success, they gain Power. Maybe it's equal to half their PB again, maybe it's a d4 or other die. Maybe the die you roll goes up as you increase in level. On a failure, you either gain no Power, lose Power, or have a failure of some sort.

You can then (same turn) decide if you're going to cast the spell or continue to hold it and try to accrue more power next turn.

Casting the spell may also involve some sort of check.

Possible complication 1: if you lose concentration on your spell while accruing power or fail to cast it, this could cause dangerous or disastrous results. This is to discourage spellcasters from spending a minute or ten gathering energy and letting loose a ginormous fireball to toast the entire adventure location.

Possible complication 2: You can only accrue Power for a few rounds before you have to cast the spell. The number of rounds is dependent on your level. A low-level wizard simply wouldn't be able to get enough energy to get a ginormous fireball.

Possible complication 3: Each round you accrue Power, you have to spend 1 hit point.

You could do something similar with martial abilities, gathering instead "advantage" or something that enables maneuvers and abilities that otherwise would have been per x-rest. This is kind of the default for fighting in inspirational media, from anime to pro-wrestling, so it shouldn't be that hard to implement.
This one I'm less sure of. It's great for high-power fantasy but less for more traditional fantasy. In that case, maneuvers and the like are useful. This could be combined with a "Power accrue" thing to allow for fancier maneuvers, but it might be easier to give fighters a certain number of points (or dice) each turn and fighters can choose to spend these points of maneuvers or increasing damage, to-hit rolls, movement, AC, or even saving throws.

I don't know if this is very D&D, but it could potentially be interesting.
 



Vaalingrade

Legend
D20 Modern replaced money and currency with a check; can't remember what it was called but I remember rolling to see if I could afford a motorcycle.
Ah, the Wealth check. It worked well enough if you actually used the rules for auto success and didn't--for an actual play example-- have the world's version of Bruce Wayne roll to buy a candy bar for a small, scared child and roll a 1.
 




Voadam

Legend
Mostly I dislike daily resource management. It structurally shifts an emphasis to thinking about how many more combats you expect in a day, evaluating whether this is the climax fight, whether this is the only combat of the day, what the likelihood of an ambush at night is, etc. Fairly metagame considerations of adventure pacing and DMing style and adventure design, will the party stop when someone is out of dailies, etc.

I much prefer resource management that focuses on what power/ability do I use in this immediate situation.

4e essentials classes with a focus on at wills were great.

4e encounter powers were less resource management focused than 5e x/short rest. The structural incentives in encounter powers shift to use this every fight when you can instead of judge whether to save them up for emergencies or novaing.

3.5 had at will warlock casters.

3.5 had the Unearthed Arcana Recharge magic alternate casting system which shifted casters to considering which spell to use and the recharge opportunity costs versus the whole daily nova management consideration.

3.5 had the psionic focus mechanic and the psychic blade class for round to round management of powers instead of daily points management.

Skill roll based magic systems are out there as alternatives to daily slots in D&D. Some with risky consequences for failed rolls. Dungeon Crawl classics gives varying spell results depending on roll, including a lot of catastrophes.

I played in a 4e game where the houserule was you could trade in a top daily to make a lower level one an encounter, and an encounter could drop to a lower level at will encounter power. It worked great for our preferred game style.
 

Nope, this guy's name was Sharkey. IT was our first game of Modern and prompted us to investigate the rules.
I wish I could say the same... I had run modern twice (once as like a cop show and once as urban fantasy shadows game) and he wanted to use it to run a cuthulu like night haunt game... and he made us roll for EVERYTHING... we couldn't go to the ATM take $5 out and hold on to it to try to have it on hand ALL money vanished if you missed your wealth check
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
Rules work best when:
1. The DM knows when to ignore them
2. The players trust the DM.
This was the DM not knowing the rule.

See, in Modern as your Wealth increases, you are supposed to auto-succeed for a certain level of item. Sharkey should never have asked me to roll in the first place. I shouldn't have had to roll to buy cars and houses smaller than a mansion.

Which to be fair, in hindsight make just giving a candy bar to a kid that just witnessed a gangland execution was the literal least I could have done...
 

On the hit points issue, something like Mutants and Masterminds with its Toughness/Damage save might be worth looking into.
Even M&M didn’t completely do away with health-as-resource. You still had wound levels, though each PC had only 4 and you could very easily lose more than 1 on a failed damage save vs a big attack. And on top of that, Hero Points are a major in-play resource to manage too, and are core to the cinematic aspects of the system.

There was and M&M2e supplement called Warriors and Warlocks which adapted the system to fantasy gaming, and un-superhero-ed it a bit. I don’t own it, but it might be worth looking up.
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
I am a little confused about what exactly people mean by resource management. Several people have given examples of what I would consider resource-management, only within an encounter, rather than over multiple encounters.

To me, no resource management means you can attempt to cast your highest-level spell every round, and success/failure is independent of previous rounds.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I am a little confused about what exactly people mean by resource management. Several people have given examples of what I would consider resource-management, only within an encounter, rather than over multiple encounters.

To me, no resource management means you can attempt to cast your highest-level spell every round, and success/failure is independent of previous rounds.
I think most people are considering daily resources and inventory resources in this discussion. Then insisting HP are somehow a resource.
 


reelo

Hero
I think most people are considering daily resources and inventory resources in this discussion. Then insisting HP are somehow a resource.
Because they are. Spell-slots ammunition, and per-day abilities are a ressource that you spend to deal damage, and hitpoints are a ressource that you spend to soak up damage. Going into a fight with one (or both) low is a bad idea. And deciding what is considered "too low" and what is a "still acceptable risk" is ressource management.
 

Voadam

Legend
Because they are. Spell-slots ammunition, and per-day abilities are a ressource that you spend to deal damage, and hitpoints are a ressource that you spend to soak up damage. Going into a fight with one (or both) low is a bad idea. And deciding what is considered "too low" and what is a "still acceptable risk" is ressource management.
Hit points are a resource you have that get taken away from you, you do not spend them. Going into combat you might get hit, you might not. At any point you might be ambushed and hit.

Healing is a resource you manage. You have choices with healing resources that you can manage.
 

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