Help! - Need a replacement for D&D (criteria below)

Okay so my daughter came home from college with her boyfriend for Thanksgiving and on the last day they were here said "oh, by the way, when we come back for Christmas, we want to play D&D." I have been fretting ever since. Why, because I came to the realization that I like aspects of all the editions but absolutely hate others.
So what do I need, a game system, or even a point in the right direction for printed optional rules would be great. I could re-write the entire D&D set into a single new edition, but since 5th is supposedly doing just that, I am loathe to re-invent the wheel, just in time for someone else to invent the Corvette.

The Laundry List:
Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence)
Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it.
NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor.
No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts
Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right.
Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills.
Vancian Magic - if possible.
Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons.
No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO))
No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics)

Now I realize this comes from a D&D background, it's what I know and love (sort of) but the glut of rules has made the idea of DMing a nightmare for me. Is there a knockoff system that uses most of the list, please point me in the direction. Is there a completely different game that has a small learning curve I can grab, please let me know. I realize this is a lot to ask, but the site problems delayed this a bit, otherwise I would have come crying for help much sooner.

So please, give your recommendations, give a brief description why it would work and be honest and list any cons as well. Do not comment on others posts unless you have something constructive to add. X edition/game/person is stupid is not only a violation of board rules, it wastes my time, which I don't have much of at this point.
 

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Votan

Explorer
Rules Cyclopedia (which even has variant rules for abilities influencing ability scores) is able to do almost everything on the list. The main con is that the game is out of print and my recent searching suggests used copies are rather pricey these days.

If you are a looking for a simpler version of 3.X D&D, I was a big fan of the black book beta version of legends & labyrinths. You can see updates on the game at http://thealexandrian.net/. I am not sure if the author is still making the game available while we wait for the final version but you might be able to ask him. It turned feats into class abilities which was a huge improvement over 3.5E but stays compatible with the 3.5 era gaming material.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
You might expect this of me, but HERO (4th, 5th, or 6th) can do pretty much what you want except the 6 stats.

I've used HERO to run a campaign ht combined elements of 1Ed, 2Ed and 3Ed, and should I have chosen to do so, I could have thrown in 4Ed style PCs as well.
 

GhostBear

First Post
You may wish to give 13th Age a look.

It has the standard 6 stats. XP doesn't exist, and it allows for partial levelling up. It doesn't use THAC0. Ability linked saves - and EVERY stat is important with the (very simple) implementation. I like how they handled skills as well. There are no multiclassing rules, and magic items are not required - player level is far more important. Going by the book, an incredibly powerful magic item will give you a +3, for example.

It DOES include feats.

It DOES NOT include dozens of pages on tactical combat movement. I would feel comfortable running the game without minis at all, actually. Rules-wise, it feels like D&D but without a lot of the clutter.

It DOES NOT include 100 pages of spells. I feel that the spell list is a little too simple, but if you're going for a more simplified version of things this might be a great starting point. Just add what you feel is missing.

It includes some 4e-isms, unfortunately: It has daily/encounter abilities and healing surges, both of which turn me off (big time), but that's what house rules are for. Easy to fix. No healing surges, adjust encounters accordingly, done. Set up a vancian spell system; Adjust on the fly if need be. Done.

Characters also have a good amount of HP at first level, so you don't have One Hit Wonders.

So, it doesn't include everything on your list, but a large portion of it. Definitely worth looking into.
 

innerdude

Legend
Okay so my daughter came home from college with her boyfriend for Thanksgiving and on the last day they were here said "oh, by the way, when we come back for Christmas, we want to play D&D." I have been fretting ever since. Why, because I came to the realization that I like aspects of all the editions but absolutely hate others.
So what do I need, a game system, or even a point in the right direction for printed optional rules would be great. I could re-write the entire D&D set into a single new edition, but since 5th is supposedly doing just that, I am loathe to re-invent the wheel, just in time for someone else to invent the Corvette.

The Laundry List:
Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence)
Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it.
NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor.
No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts
Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right.
Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills.
Vancian Magic - if possible.
Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons.
No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO))
No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics)

Now I realize this comes from a D&D background, it's what I know and love (sort of) but the glut of rules has made the idea of DMing a nightmare for me. Is there a knockoff system that uses most of the list, please point me in the direction. Is there a completely different game that has a small learning curve I can grab, please let me know. I realize this is a lot to ask, but the site problems delayed this a bit, otherwise I would have come crying for help much sooner.

So please, give your recommendations, give a brief description why it would work and be honest and list any cons as well. Do not comment on others posts unless you have something constructive to add. X edition/game/person is stupid is not only a violation of board rules, it wastes my time, which I don't have much of at this point.

Based on your list I'd suggest Castles and Crusades. It's a solidly "retro" take on D&D 1e in spirit, but uses the upwards-moving AC and attack scale. Multi-classing is possible, but not really emphasized. Skills are supported. Magic items are somewhat required for "fighting" classes, but the rules encourage much more unique magic items. I don't recall if XP is non-linear across all classes.

Either that, as suggested earlier check out the Dark Dungeon PDF (it's free), which is a retro-clone of the BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia.

OR----stretch your boundaries and pick up a copy of the $10 Savage World's Deluxe Explorer's Edition. It's not D&D. It doesn't fit your criteria. But believe me when I tell you you'll thank me later if you do. ;)
 

Wightbred

Explorer
I hear you: my dissatisfaction with various editions of D&D lead me to Dungeon World.

Compared to your requirements:
- Six stats: Yes
- Non linear experience tables: Not sure I understand this requirements, but XP is non-linear, and an easy (5 mins) to hack to whatever you want.
- NO FEATS!!! and Skills instead of special abilities: Moves instead of both, but no power creep or power gaming.
- No THAC0 and Ability linked Saving Throws: All rolls are based Stats.
- Vancian Magic: Sort of. You memorise, but forgetting is an option for poor casting, not a guarantee.
- Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things: Definitely.
- No "salad bar" multi-classing: Yes, multi-classing is appropriately limited.
- No magic items required: Definitely.

Also:
- Old school play style (centres on described actions) with simplified more modern rules.
- Simple to learn and GM and designed to be hacked.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
Going by your laundry list I wonder that nobody mentioned Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games.

Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence)
- Check

Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it.

Sorry, levels use equal thresholds for all classes.

NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor.
Check.

No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts

Check. 1D(curious shaped polyhedrons)+bonus.

Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right.

Check.

Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills.

Semi-check. Skills are downplayed; this game feels seriously retro. Each and every class has a sub-system built in to let it do something special.

Vancian Magic - if possible.

Semi-check. Casters roll on a table specific to the spell cast. With a bad roll you may lose access to this spell for the rest of the day. If you roll really bad, it might get ugly. Really ugly.

Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons.

Check.

No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO))

Check.

No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics)

Check. Magic items are rare and special.

DCC tries to re-instill the wonders of our first games. Most things are on the DM's shoulders, player empowerment istn't really supported. Few rules mean a lot of freedom. Players will continuously face something they don't know and haven't the slightest idea of how to handle.
 


The Laundry List:
Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence)
Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it.
NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor.
No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts
Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right.
Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills.
Vancian Magic - if possible.
Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons.
No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO))
No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics)

Radiance RPG:
1. Uses the six stats (you the GM decide on generation method with suggestions given).
2. Doesn't have unequal leveling but the XP is simplified.
3. No feats. The author is against power gaming and spells out how he tries to discourage it.
4. No THAC0.
5. Radiance uses damage resistance instead of AC and replaces AC with Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves all linked to one of two of the six attributes.
6. Has a good skill list and skills are open to all classes.
7. Vancian magic is not used, but amount of vitality limits how many spells can be cast.
8. Classes have set abilities: all clerics have lay on hands, all fighters have weapon focus, and all wizards have magic missile.
9. Multiclassing is optional.
10. Magic is optional (not required and some characters could have magic items and others not have it).

Radiance does have steampunk and electotech as options but they can be pulled (electrotech has its own chapter).

Also, the Radiance pdf is free:
http://www.radiancerpg.com/
 

Greylond

First Post
I'd say HackMaster! Not an exact fit but I think you'll find it close


Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence) HackMaster has the classic Six plus Looks, so 7 stats and Randomly rolled!

Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it.There is only one experience chart, all characters use the same but the classes are designed for it.
NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor. No FEATS, See below about comments on "Power Gaming"
No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts Combat is opposed Die Rolls which keeps everyone interested and involved in combat.
Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right. Most saves are Opposed die rolls with the GM. Player rolls 1d20 and adds the relevant Stat vs GM 1d20 plus whatever modifier

Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills. Lots of skills. Anyone can take any skill but some characters get bonuses when learning/using some skills
Vancian Magic - if possible.Hybrid of Vancian plus spell points for Mages. Clerics use straight Vanican, but each religion's clerics is very different
Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons.Each character class has a well defined specialty, not all Clerics are "Healbots" but there is one Cleric type that is nothing but that, if that's what you want to play.
No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO))The "Multiclass" character classes are more of a Hybrid class and there are only a few of them, F/M, F/Th, M/Th
No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics)
In HM "Quality Items" exist, but are rare, that give bonuses but normally, like in the case of weapons, anything of +5 or lower is just a Quality, but non-Magic item. True Magic only kicks in for +6 or higher.

The BEST Part is that the basic, i.e. entry game, for HackMaster is HackMaster Basic and is Totally FREE! Download it and see how you like it. For new GMs and/or players I'd recommend starting out with HMb(HackMaster Basic).

Free HackMaster Basic download (PDF):
http://www.kenzerco.com/free_files/hackmaster_basic_free_.pdf

Then there are the "Advanced HackMaster" books that are in the process of coming out. So far the HackMaster Players Handbook and Hacklopedia of Beasts are out.

To get an idea of what HackMaster is like, the best thing would be to read the Forward and Introduction from the HackMaster Player's Handbook

Foward: http://www.kenzerco.com/hackmaster/foreword.html

Introduction: http://www.kenzerco.com/hackmaster/introduction.html

HackMaster main page: http://www.kenzerco.com/index.php?cPath=25_94_100

And there are some Free Adventures for it that you can download that you can find from the Kenzer&Co site

For any questions you can come on over to the K&Co forums at;
http://www.kenzerco.com/forums/forum.php
 

Deepfire

First Post
Castles & Crusades or Dungeon Crawl Classics - Main difference imo is the magic system - C&C is more standard D&D-like, DCC has some very interesting but new ideas when it comes to casting, a bit Rolemasteresque I think
 


Mallus

Legend
Here's my suggestion: don't sweat the system. Use AD&D or BCMI or Rules Cyclopedia or a retro-clone. The differences are minimal.

The classic D&D play experience is found in the adventure modules.

Pick one of the classics, spend your time prepping it, fleshing it out --particularly the colorful NPCs the players might talk to -- and off you go!

The play's the thing (the system, eh, not so much, especially when your focus is old-school games).
 

Janx

Hero
Sounds like most of what you wanted was in pre-3e actually.

take the 2e rules (hunt down the CD-ROM app that TSR released with each book in RTF/word format.

convert the THAC0 and AC to the 3e style (just like Peter Adkison advised in the first Dragon magazine when WotC took over and they resumed publication in the 2e era before they announced 3e.

If you wanted, I reckon you could snag the 3e skill system and replace the 2e chapter on skills.


Or, approach it the other way. take the 3e SRD and remove the feats section. Then integrate elements of the 2e class descriptions (the 2e class abilities are akin to 3e feats, just not customizable).



or, just play 3e anyway, limited to the SRD. I guess I don't have any beefs with the ruleset that are so great, they'd justify homebrewing or switching to a new set JUST for a weekend game one-shot.
 


Shades of Green

First Post
Another vote for Basic Fantasy RPG:

The Laundry List:
Six stats - random roll preferably Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con & Char (notice the 1st edition influence) YES
Non linear experience tables - the idea of 1st edition balance was unequal leveling, I like it. YES
NO FEATS!!! - Power creep and power gaming are something I abhor. YES No feats whatsoever
No THAC0, I admit, 3.X spoiled me on the linear combat all adds charts YES No THAC0, ascending AC
Ability linked Saving Throws, another thing 3.X got right. NO
Skills instead of special abilities - mostly for things like tracking and thieves' skills. KINDA - Thieves have percentile skills, the rest do not use skills.
Vancian Magic - if possible. YES
Clerics that heal, Mages that throw spells, and Fighters that hit things with weapons. YES!!!
No "salad bar" multi-classing. (3.X blew it big time with this (IMO)) YES!!!
No magic items required. - While it was nearly impossible to play 1st and 2nd editions without magic items, it could be done, 3rd started skewing with treasure by level charts and 4th just lost it's mind completely with the walking Christmas tree assortment. (This doesn't mean I won't be using magic items, they just aren't going to be readily available - no Wal-Magics) YES for the most part
 


Nifelhein

First Post
I second Dungeon World, it is the very same D&D experience with a lot less rules for those starting out, plus the idea is thata ction is based on description instead of the usual trend of action being based on rules. You can get an idea for what Dungeo0n World is here: A 16 hp dragon.
 


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