5E E6 in 5e

Wulffolk

Villager
There was a another poll recently concerning which levels people found most fun to play. I mentioned E6 and E10 in that thread. There were people that had not heard about it, so I thought I would share this for those that are interested.

E6 stands for Epic 6. It is the name of a rules variant which was introduced by [MENTION=8314]Ry[/MENTION] back in 2007 (yeah, 10 years ago).
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?206323-E6-The-Game-Inside-D-amp-D

u/Thomar posted on Reddit a good take on E6 for 5e, which I will quote here:

E6 in D&D 5e
u/thomar
5e D&D seems to support E6 pretty well, so this document lays out some guidelines for using it.

The whole point of E6 is to declare that certain magical abilities are beyond mortal ken in a setting. Teleportation and bringing the dead back to life are the two greatest offenders, but this also cuts of a good chunk of the "linear warriors, quadratic wizards" problem, which is still around in 5e (although considerably nerfed by spells per day). http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?206323-E6-The-Game-Inside-D-amp-D

Setting level 6 as the barrier is traditional because of the limitations it places on 4th-level and higher spells. Anlysis of different cutoff levels follows. Which one you use is ultimately up to you as a GM and you should discuss the ramifications of it with your players.

Here's how E6 (and similar level restrictions) looks like with the new 5e spell list from the PHB:

E10: Spellcasters can exercise true mind control, shapechange, cure petrification, break curses, spy globally, raise the dead back to life, disguise armies with illusions, set up teleport networks, have conversations with gods, summon outsiders to carry out complex tasks, gift animals and trees with sentience, and erect stone fortifications.

E8: Spellcasters can spy nearby, teleport hundreds of feet, fight invisibly, disguise buildings with illusions, shapechange, hold armies at bay, sink ships, and ask the very gods questions.

E6: Spellcasters can curse their enemies, scry nearby but with an obvious telltale, hold small groups at bay, send messages long distances, see into the past about a day, speak any language, raise undead servants, bring the terminally injured back to life, disobey natural laws like gravity, travel through the air and water, and rapidly travel over land.

E4: Spellcasters can create perfect disguises, hold strong warriors at bay, make warriors significantly stronger, turn invisible, levitate, exercise limited mind control, climb walls, send messages in a limited fashion, survive deadly poison, use magic to make hidden things obvious, and hide their tracks.

E2: Spellcasters can exercise fragile mind control, weave superficial illusions, communicate with animals, use telekinesis, heal moderate injuries, inconvenience warriors, use magic to replace tools and moderately expensive equipment, and partially understand unknown languages.

In an E6 setting, a character with 6,500 XP has reached level 6, the highest possible power level for a mortal. Level advancement stops at 6th level, but characters still progress by improving their ability scores and gaining feats. Every 4,000 XP after attaining 6th level, a level 6 character can raise one ability score by +1 (to the normal maximum of 20). Learning a feat takes the place two +1 ability score increases (or 8,000 XP), so a character who wants to learn a feat should skip the ability score increase when they earn 4,000 XP and wait untill they earn their next 4,000 XP to gain the feat.

Maximum Level./ XP Per +1./ XP Per Feat
10./ 11,000./ 22,000
8./ 6,000./ 12,000
6./ 4,000./ 8,000
4./ 900./ 1,800
2./ 200./ 400

The absence of these magic spells can sometimes detrimentally affect gameplay. The plot might call for the players to teleport to the moon, commune with the spirit of a deceased sage, or maybe one of the players got bitten by a cockatrice and they don't want to roll up a new character. Fortunately, the D&D 5e ritual rules work well in this regard. Many 4th- and 5th-level spells can be converted into rare rituals that the GM can use as rewards for major quests, giving the PCs access to spells they would otherwise be unable to acquire (with rare non-purchasable material components, of course). Good candidates include divination, polymorph, awaken, greater restoration, raise dead, scrying, teleportation circle, reincarnate, wall of stone, etc. Of course, a GM who doesn't want those effects to be possible in their campaign may opt out of using these.
Most younger gamers come from the mindset of "the end-game" due to how MMO's work. E6 let's character's continue to grow while not getting ridiculously overpowered, letting people enjoy the end-game for prolonged periods. It also allows new characters to join established character's without there being too much of a power gap.
 
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Horwath

Explorer
I would go with E6.

then determine how much xp for next ASI you need.

Alternatively, you could gain level in a class that you do not have at lvl6 already, but without HP boost or raising proficiencies.

I.E. after 6 levels of wizard, instead of ASI you could get 1st level of fighter with same multiclass rules. But no HPs. Essentialy making a gestalt.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
I'm working on an SRD5 overhaul that uses an E6 style of progression, myself. In discussing its development with a friend, an interesting point emerged. Higher level play (roughly 10+) tends to make me feel like I'm losing control of the story due to the huge bag of tricks those PCs carry around. The main problem for me is that creating certain types of obstacles becomes increasingly contrived. As the PCs gain agency over their world, I feel like I'm losing it as the DM.
 

Wulffolk

Villager
Seems like a sweeping (and unprovable, as well as non-disprovable) generalization, and an entirely unnecessary addition to an otherwise interesting post.
I suppose I worded that poorly. In my anecdotal experience most role-players are also computer gamers. Most of this category of people that I know are younger than I am. Many of those computer gamers play MMO's, and are highly concerned about how much fun the "end-game" is to play. I have heard similar concerns about D&D: it takes too long to get to 20th level, there's nothing to do at 20th level, games end before 20th level or shortly after getting there, etc.

My point was that using E6 gives a sense of "end-game" that a group can enjoy for an extended period of time. New characters can join in without being completely over-shadowed by higher level characters. This makes it possible for players to come and go, or replacement 1st level character's to get involved after an old character dies, without needing to skip levels. You could have a veteran player that does not want to quit playing his old character team up with a new generation of heroes for the next campaign without him being a one-man show.
 

Wulffolk

Villager
If I were writing an E6 variant of the rules from scratch I might condense some class features into lower levels, to make each of those 6 levels count for something. I might also have all sublasses starting at 2nd level. Depends on how much work i wanted to put in as a DM.
 

Bacon Bits

Explorer
I've thought about removing hit dice 11-20, similar to 1e/2e. Basically, you only gain hit dice for your first 10 levels. Beginning with level 11, if you would gain a d12 hit die, you gain 4 max hp, d10 gains 3, d8 gains 2, and d6 gains 1. These aren't hit dice, so you don't gain your Con modifier.

This has the effect of making the game increasingly deadly at high level, since offense now increases much faster than defense. This means that risk increases at high level much more like it used to.

We already sometimes play with the house rule that dropping to 0 hp causes a level of exhaustion, so I'm not worried about whack-a-mole syndrome.
 

Mephista

Villager
Yeesh. I wonder where that reddit poster fits onto the Fighter v. Wizard debate. >.< Making E6 all about blaming spellcasters is just annoying. No, its not set at level 6 because of 4+ spells.

E6 was devised in such a way that you can play in the "sweet spot" of 3rd edition leveling, before numbers got completely gonzo. This includes the number of attacks made, spells cast, your save proficencies, and skills going everywhere. A true E6 needs to take into account things like feats on warriors, sneak attack being so outpaced, unreasonably large HP pools, etc. Level 6 was chosen because it was roughly the start of the sweet spot, and let you grow your character with "feats" (it should be more like epic boons in 5e, as per page 231-2 of the DMG). Well, toned down, but same idea.

Thanks to the Reddit writers' proposal, this sort of gameplay is going to vastly favor Warrior type characters (specifically the Fighter, Barbarian and Paladin), as most of these classes will continue to grow in power thanks to a weaponry-bais in feats.

Spellcasters are especially problematic. Turning level 4+ spells into rituals isn't going to solve anything, as the overwhelming majority of level 4+ spells are combat oriented; turning every spell into a 10 minute pause is effectively going to either effectively remove them from play, or favor ones that take time anyways, like the Conjure spells. This effectively creates the situation where any of the spellcaster types effectively caps in power at E6 and cannot grow. You become static. And, to put it simply, that's BORING. At best, you raise your ASI and nothing else ever again. +1s, while handy, are boring. I feel like this also applies to the rogue; very few feats that apply to the rogue, resulting in a static character. I feel like we hurt the Monk as well - ki points are kinda important, and capping at 6 still leaves you hungry.

And lets talk a bit about the cleric for a tic. With this rule, you'll never get divine strike. While probably not as big of a deal, I think its going to be something that is just endemic of a larger issue - if E6 is going to be translated to 5e, we need to develop a way to develop subclass abilities.

Feats were a big deal in 3e. They applied to everyone, and could do a lot of things with them. You could raise your attack bonus, your skills, your magical abilities, gain new talents. In 5e, there's only a limited number of feats. Even the original E6 had feats that allowed growth in various ways to make up for the lack of level growth for those that needed it.

This anti-spellcaster-rant version is just badly done, without giving other aspects of gameplay deeper thought. The point of E6 is that you cap certain aspects of the game, while still allowing characters to grow in power to reflect a level 8 or even level 10 character in time, letting you extend the "sweet spot" of the game. Unlike 3e, though, feats aren't reflective of growing in power for many classes, and using that as a bandaid is nothing more than a short sighted kludge.
 
E6 was a very good idea in 3e, but IMHO it might be somewhat less satisfactory in 5e.

The reason is that in 5e there are more higher-level class features and abilities for every class (especially non-casters), which are going to be missed out when capping class advancement at level 6.

For example, in 3e a Fighter in a E6 game would lose only extra attacks, but in 5e she would also lose all her subclass benefits (except the first) as well as a couple of more things.

While still an elegant solution to prevent game-breaking magical effects to be available in the game, I would rather look to some other idea that doesn't throw away all the non-game-breaking goodies. One possibility would be to simply re-instate those missed out features in the form of new feats; another to cap the level in spellcasting classes only; yet another to just cherrypick-out of the game the unwanted spells and otherwise level up as normal.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I suppose I worded that poorly. In my anecdotal experience most role-players are also computer gamers. Most of this category of people that I know are younger than I am. Many of those computer gamers play MMO's, and are highly concerned about how much fun the "end-game" is to play. I have heard similar concerns about D&D: it takes too long to get to 20th level, there's nothing to do at 20th level, games end before 20th level or shortly after getting there, etc.

My point was that using E6 gives a sense of "end-game" that a group can enjoy for an extended period of time. New characters can join in without being completely over-shadowed by higher level characters. This makes it possible for players to come and go, or replacement 1st level character's to get involved after an old character dies, without needing to skip levels. You could have a veteran player that does not want to quit playing his old character team up with a new generation of heroes for the next campaign without him being a one-man show.
Oh, I understand and totally agree with the 2nd paragraph.

One of the things I love about games like The One Ring and Dungeon World is that the power curve is flatter so you can mix experience levels.
 

Wulffolk

Villager
5E does not Need E6 because it has bound accuracy.
Accuracy is far from the only concern with higher levels. If bounded accuracy were the solution to everything then you would have no problem fitting a 1st level character into a high level party. I consider Hit Point bloat and high level spells to be the main problems
 
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Wulffolk

Villager
To those of you that do not E6, that is fine. I never suggested that it was a perfect fit into 5e. There are definitely issues that might need worked out. I offered this info to others that might not have heard about it. Perhaps it would give them ideas that would work in there game. Personally, I loved E6 when I played 3.5e. However, as I wrote a couple of posts ago, were I to try it in 5e I think I would modify some things to make it fit better.
 

Mephista

Villager
To those of you that do not E6, that is fine. I never suggested that it was a perfect fit into 5e. There are definitely issues that might need worked out. I offered this info to others that might not have heard about it. Perhaps it would give them ideas that would work in there game. Personally, I loved E6 when I played 3.5e. However, as I wrote a couple of posts ago, were I to try it in 5e I think I would modify some things to make it fit better.
This has nothing to do with not needing it, and everything to do with how the opening post phrases things. Personally, I actually like the idea of capping HP, proficency and a few other things at around level 6, but letting the other things grow.

But the opening reddit post? Sorry, that's nothing more than a rant blaming spellcasters for ruining games, and completely misses the point of E6 in its entirety. Yes, spellcasters outshining everyone else was a major problem in 3e. I get that some people still think that spellcasters are stronger than warrior classes. And I can even empathize to an extent. But its undeniable that E6 also addresssed things like hp bloat and skill growth issues (not worth trying things if you're untrained, challenge trivial if you are trained).

This isn't a few tweaks needed. Its a massive overhaul and redesign.
 

Wulffolk

Villager
I'm working on an SRD5 overhaul that uses an E6 style of progression, myself. In discussing its development with a friend, an interesting point emerged. Higher level play (roughly 10+) tends to make me feel like I'm losing control of the story due to the huge bag of tricks those PCs carry around. The main problem for me is that creating certain types of obstacles becomes increasingly contrived. As the PCs gain agency over their world, I feel like I'm losing it as the DM.
Please share your work here, if or when you complete it. I would be very interested to read your take on E6.

I can understand how you feel about losing control of your world. Part of my problem with higher level play is that it stretches my suspension of disbelief as I have to add more and more super-powered antagonists to the setting to challenge the players. I find myself wondering why, if there are so many such creatures or villains in the world, did they not just over-run everything ages ago. Why are they a problem now that the character's are 20th level, and not back when the character's were 1st level. Where did so many dangerous foes come from, and how was there ever room in the world for ordinary life. Those kinds of things tend to bug me as a player and a DM.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
I've actually been considering it for a while for my low-magic BtW/5e hybrid. I'm probably targeting E4 or E5, though. I'm not sure if I want to open up Extra Attack and 3rd level spells. I'm not a big fan of the Extra Attack mechanic, and 3rd level spells like fireball and spirit guardians are a big game-changer in dealing with groups of weaker monsters, which I would like to keep as threatening.

My main mechanical focus is allowing the characters to spend experience to train with factions, or learn special abilities from their acquired magical items. Spending 2000 XP on training with the Shamans of the Doom Volcano for a few months might grant fire resistance and the ability to cast flaming sphere once per short rest, or spending 3000 XP on mastering your cloak of elvenkind might give you Stealth Expertise and the ability to cast Pass without Trace.
 

Mephista

Villager
Ultimately, the reddit poster claimed three things as the reason for E6. In short - teleportation, raising the dead, and "quadratic wizard."

Quadratic wizard refers to the tendacy of 3e spellcasters to have several effects at each level - their lower level spells got stronger (ie, a a fifth level wizard would deal 5d6 damage with a fireball spell, while a tenth level wizard deals 10d6, both using a 3rd level slot), they gained more spell slots, they gained higher level spells that dealt more damage than lower level spells, even as they scaled. This is why it was quadratic - multiple things grew with each level, and that's before metamagic. Meanwhile, 5e wizards either a new spell level, or a different class ability. Its a linear growth. 5e casters are linear. (Technically, the Battlemaster is quadratic, since the martial dice grow in both sides on the die and in the number of dice you roll) Are casters still stronger than warriors? That's debatable; even if we say they are for the sake of argument, then we still can't say the reason is level 4 spells. Fireball is actually just as strong as level 5 damage spells. All spells, from level 3 through 5, are all roughly equal in power. There's no big jump in power until spell level 6.

This is keeping within the D&D tiers. 1-4 are "local heroes," 5-10 are "heroes of the realm," 11-16 are "masters of the realm" and 17+ are "masters of the world." All abilities within that tier are roughly considered equal.

The Reddit post then calls out teleport and resurrection magics as "beyond mortal ken." Ah, Dimension Door is a level 4 spell, and Raise Dead is level 5. Now we're getting somewhere. This explains why the post was complaining about level 4 magic. Now, I fully acknowledge that some GMs don't like teleports for how they can allow a party to get around challenges in dungeons. And some GMs prefer death to be final. And that's acceptable. But if these kinds of spells are an issue... can't we just ban teleports and raise dead magics? Are there really other spells out there that are so offensive starting at level 4?


If you want a E6 style game, lets address the issues at play. At what point are casters "stronger" than warriors? People often feel that magic trivializes non-magical challenges, so what magic is doing the trivializing? While we're at it, lets talk about feats too. Specifically, the Xbow Mastery, Sniper, Great Weapon Mastery and Polearm Mastery combos. These are generally considered to be pretty brutal after a point because of Bounded accuracy making that -5 penalty to be trivial. At what point is that going to be an issue? We should also keep that in mind.

E6, the original version, also served to keep attribute growth a bit more contained. To quote from the 3.x version - "Once transformed by their experiences, a character’s growth is no longer a continuous, linear progression. Instead, they specialize or broaden their abilities: There are still major differences between the master warriors and the veteran mercenaries, but it's not a change of scale."

This version is almost entirely comprised of ASI. Linear growth of abiltiies. They'll be pushing their attributes up to the next level, rather than broadening their abilities. That's kind of against the entire leveling idea of the original E6 rules. So, we should be considering other ways of growth rather than pure numbers.

Someone else brought up the issue that, without dead levels, there's a lot going on in classes we'd like to see. Such as, if I was playing a wizard, I would like to see getting my hands on the level 10 subclass ability. Or an eldritch knight being able to do the teleport when spending an action surge. Those are fun, often iconic abilities. A paladin might want to get their subclass' aura. A monk or sorcerer want to increase their class points, while a battlemaster would want more martial dice, even if they don't get more sides on the dice. How are we going to address this?
 
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