How would these house rules affect D20?

Quartz

Adventurer
How would the following tweaks affect D20?

1 - Skills as feats. No skill points, just Feats as per 4e. Give bonus feats to compensate.
2 - Base Saving Throw = HD/2 (round down) + Class bonus (if any). e.g a Fighter gets a +2 Class Bonus to Fort, a Fighter / Rogue gets class bonuses to Fort and Ref.
3 - No unnamed bonuses.
4 - Cut down on the explosion of bonuses. Like bonuses still do not stack, but now similar bonuses do not stack. So Divine Grace, Holy, Blessed, Sacred, Vile, Anarchic, Axiomatic etc bonuses do not stack. Nor do Inherent and Enhancement bonuses. Nor do Defender and Shield, or Defender and Armour or Bracers of AC. And so on. You only get one Synergy bonus. Exceptions: bonuses from Feats stack, as do Armour and Shield, and Circumstance bonuses only stack if the circumstance is completely different - if in doubt, they don't.
5 - Epic Prowess counts to BAB for feat selection.
6 - Saving throw bonuses determined by the pairs of stats as in 4e.
 

Celebrim

Legend
How would the following tweaks affect D20?
What an intelligent question. You'd be amazed by how many home brewers don't ask this basic question.

1 - Skills as feats. No skill points, just Feats as per 4e. Give bonus feats to compensate.
The effect would vary heavily from table to table. How often is 'Skill Focus' or similar feats taken at your table at present? If the answer is, "Almost Never", then it would be a net negative change. The purpose of siloing feats and skills is the same as the purpose in having classes in the first place - you are trying to force reasonably well-rounded builds rather than the hyperspecialists you tend to see in pure point buy/skill based systems. Having skill points forces you to have skills, rather than more straightfoward combat power or class enhancing utility.

That isn't to say that in pure D20 the siloing of feats and skills was well enough defined, but personally I wouldn't go that way. Not even 4e goes that way and instead uses fixed skill progression with a few 'skill focus' feats given out for free. That would be better than replacing skills with feats.

2 - Base Saving Throw = HD/2 (round down) + Class bonus (if any). e.g a Fighter gets a +2 Class Bonus to Fort, a Fighter / Rogue gets class bonuses to Fort and Ref.
Rewards multiclassing too heavily for my taste, and handling the multiclassing could get janky. Gap reduction between 'poor' and 'good' save isn't a bad idea at all, and better than stock D20, but you'd be better off going to the 'average' progression FantasyCraft uses (maximum of +9 at 20th level) for some saves and using it as the 'poor' progression if you are going this route to fix the issue.

3 - No unnamed bonuses.
I'd be inclined to say 'no named bonuses' would almost be preferable. Named bonuses make the game extremely complicated especially at high levels. Of course, there is a problem in going this way, and on the whole I'd probably stick with things how they are. Named bonuses should be seen as useful. Lots of named bonuses means lots of time figuring out what your modifier should be and lots of human error.

4 - Cut down on the explosion of bonuses. Like bonuses still do not stack, but now similar bonuses do not stack. So Divine Grace, Holy, Blessed, Sacred, Vile, Anarchic, Axiomatic etc bonuses do not stack. Nor do Inherent and Enhancement bonuses. Nor do Defender and Shield, or Defender and Armour or Bracers of AC. And so on. You only get one Synergy bonus. Exceptions: bonuses from Feats stack, as do Armour and Shield, and Circumstance bonuses only stack if the circumstance is completely different - if in doubt, they don't.
Yes. And better yet reduce the number of names down to a managable level. "Divine Grace, Holy, Blessed, Sacred, Vile, Anarchic, Axiomatic" are all bonuses that just shouldn't exist. They should all be either 'morale' or 'enchantment' or 'insight' bonuses as case may be. There should be no 'inherent' bonus (what the heck is that?), and yes folding them into Enhancement is fine. Defender bonus should become dodge, deflection, or armor on a case by case.

Bonuses from feats should generally be unnamed or some other stacking name like 'dodge' so that you aren't always recalculating that on the fly. I don't mind synergy bonuses. They should only be calculated once anyway, and they reward skill monkeys who need the help. Circumstance bonuses that are completely different should be unnamed or if they effect AC 'dodge' bonuses. If there is any question that they should or should not stack, they should be unnamed. Only give a bonus a name if it is clear that they should never stack with anything with the same name.

If the total list of names for bonuses in your game exceeds eight to ten, you are doing some thing wrong. If the total number of types of bonus that can effect a regularly calculated value exceeds 3 or 4, you are doing something wrong. Really, if you are looking to simplify cutting the total list of names down to 3 to 4 would be ideal.

5 - Epic Prowess counts to BAB for feat selection.
Trivial. I don't concern myself much with Epic because its all badly thought out anyway. Personally, I wouldn't go here mainly because at high levels non-spellcasters need all the help they can get.

6 - Saving throw bonuses determined by the pairs of stats as in 4e.
Lots of dump stats just like 4e. Even more generic stat arrays per class than in 3e, as many stats become almost completely unuseful or at least not useful enough to consider in many builds. You'll never see a Sorcerer with a Wis higher than 8 again, and Wisdom is already a dump stat for Sorcerer. The only mitigating factor is 3e has attribute damage so you'd probably avoid going all the way down to 3 in your dump stats just to avoid being easily taken down by attribute damage. But other than that, lots of dump stating.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
The effect would vary heavily from table to table. How often is 'Skill Focus' or similar feats taken at your table at present? If the answer is, "Almost Never", then it would be a net negative change.
I was thinking it would simplify the skills system, making it easier to manage characters. No great rafts of skills to check. So everyone would have a skill of Level/2. With the feat you get Level. With Skill Focus, you get Level +4, and with SF+ Epic Skill Focus you get Level+8.


That isn't to say that in pure D20 the siloing of feats and skills was well enough defined, but personally I wouldn't go that way. Not even 4e goes that way and instead uses fixed skill progression with a few 'skill focus' feats given out for free. That would be better than replacing skills with feats.
I've yet to play 4e, alas, but that's not how I read the books: your base skill is Level/2, and if you've got the feat you get Level.


Rewards multiclassing too heavily for my taste, and handling the multiclassing could get janky.
Really? I thought it would simplify matters and prevent extremes.

I'd be inclined to say 'no named bonuses' would almost be preferable.
Are you going the 'everything stacks' route, or the 'take only the best bonus' route?

Only give a bonus a name if it is clear that they should never stack with anything with the same name.
Ooh, good point.

If the total list of names for bonuses in your game exceeds eight to ten, you are doing some thing wrong. If the total number of types of bonus that can effect a regularly calculated value exceeds 3 or 4, you are doing something wrong. Really, if you are looking to simplify cutting the total list of names down to 3 to 4 would be ideal.
Yes.

Lots of dump stats just like 4e. Even more generic stat arrays per class than in 3e, as many stats become almost completely unuseful or at least not useful enough to consider in many builds. You'll never see a Sorcerer with a Wis higher than 8 again, and Wisdom is already a dump stat for Sorcerer.
Wis is already the dump stat in 3e. You just take the Force of Personality feat to use Cha instead anyway.

But other than that, lots of dump stating.
Hmm.. need to think about that.

Thanks for the comments.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I was thinking it would simplify the skills system, making it easier to manage characters.
It wouldn't simplify the skills system, it would simplify character creation/advancement. That's a very important distinction to keep in mind. Simplifying play always has a direct benefit. Simplifying character creation is mainly good for pickup games, and tends to be outweighed by the downside of having less flexible and customizable characters.

No great rafts of skills to check.
There are two problems with this. First of all, you aren't actually reducing the number of skills by elimenating skill points. You are simply giving everyone a predictable easy to calculate (non-customizable) level of skill. The skill system remains (or not) a 'great raft'.

Secondly, you are I think treating skills mentally in this design as if they were solely passive abilities used only when the DM asks you to make a skill check and as a means of passing hurdles. I grant you that looking at the stock D20 skill system you can be forgiven for thinking thing, but you have to keep in mind that skills can also be active abilities used to solve problems in the way you use spells and class abilities.

[quote[So everyone would have a skill of Level/2. With the feat you get Level. With Skill Focus, you get Level +4, and with SF+ Epic Skill Focus you get Level+8.[/quote]

I understood your concept for the system. What I was saying is that you can't just give characters extra feats. If you give them just extra feats they'll be tempted to min-max and make narrow highly effective characters who - since D20 sadly tends to have weak passive skills and many DMs do low skill usage games - will then simply never pick a 'Trained' or 'Skill Focus' feat at all prefering instead to use the feat to enhance their active problem solving abilities directly (spells and class abilities). What you have to do is do like 4e did and give your characters X free 'Skill Feats' at 1st level which can only be used for picking up the skills you want to distinguish your character by.

I should say that from my experience this tends to often be a moot point. If your prior tables haven't featured balance and appraisal checks pretty much every session, and you've never had players pick up Skill Focus or similar feats (and certainly not after 1st level) then I suggest skills aren't particularly important to your game and if you really want to simplify you might be better off getting rid of them and just using ability checks for any skill situation. Consider what it is you really want and design to effect that goal. If skills aren't important to your table and seem like a drag on the game, just get rid of them. If your players think Balance, Appraisal, and Diplomacy are useless skills because they either never come up or have no effect on the game, and if pretty much everyone feels that skills become irrelevant once you start getting 'good' spells then skills are sufficiently a minor part of your game that you should either a) not worry about the system because you don't use it anyway or b) get rid of it because it's in the way.

Really? I thought it would simplify matters and prevent extremes.
Ok, so suppose I'm a Fighter. I have a +2 bonus on Fort saves. Then at 2nd level I take a level of Rogue. Do I now have a +2 bonus on both Fort and Reflex saves, or a +1 bonus in both, or a +0 bonus in both? If the answer is "+2 bonus in both", then you are heavily rewarding people for multiclassing gaining essentially a free valuable feat in addition to whatever other benefits you gain for dipping in another class. What happens if at 3rd level I now pick up a level of Ranger (which is actually a build I've used before)? Do I know have a +4 bonus on Fort and a +4 bonus on Reflex? Isn't that a huge advantage compared to not multiclassing?

4e gets away with the flat bonuses because it essentially kills multiclassing entirely. However, that is IMO a much less than satisfactory solution. The simple solution of course is to say that it doesn't matter how you multiclass you always keep your bonuses from your first class and they don't change, but if I want to build a character that is equal parts fighter and thief it will stand to reason that I want a character whose abilities are pretty much the average of both. The great thing about 3rd edition is that it pretty much let you do that, and under your system to get the same effect you'll need rules that say in effect 'If you are equal parts fighter and rogue you get +1 bonus to fort and +1 bonus to reflex'. But trying to write that rule out for the general case is not at all easy.

Are you going the 'everything stacks' route, or the 'take only the best bonus' route?
Either one would be fine. The important thing is that both are more simple that having named bonuses. Named bonuses produce a huge bookkeeping burden because you have to remember not only the bonus, but its name and check against every other bonus with the same name to make sure you don't accidently stack them. This is fairly easy for a computer to do but very hard for a person, especially when the bonuses are changing from round to round.

That isn't to say that I would necessarily go either way - I outlined my thoughts on named bonuses - but I'm trying to explain why giving everything a named bonus isn't in and of itself a good idea. It's a good idea to cut down drastically on the number of different types of named bonuses, and therefore 'giving everything a named bonus' depending on the implementation could be a very bad idea.

Wis is already the dump stat in 3e. You just take the Force of Personality feat to use Cha instead anyway.
The example was arbitarily chosen. The point is that you'd move more to the 4e model of having at most 3 stats that actually count, and 3 stats you dump as useless. If you are going to go to '3 stats actually count' just go to three stats - Body, Mind, and Heart (or something like that) - and be done with it.
 
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irdeggman

Visitor
Skills as feats would require an awful lot of other "tweaking".

It would pretty much require retooling all prestige classes - since far and away most of them require a minimum number of ranks in certain key skills for entry.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
Ok, so suppose I'm a Fighter. I have a +2 bonus on Fort saves. Then at 2nd level I take a level of Rogue. Do I now have a +2 bonus on both Fort and Reflex saves, or a +1 bonus in both, or a +0 bonus in both? If the answer is "+2 bonus in both", then you are heavily rewarding people for multiclassing gaining essentially a free valuable feat in addition to whatever other benefits you gain for dipping in another class.
Umm.. no, +2 on each is standard d20. And don't forget that the character is losing other things like the BAB and the HP.

What happens if at 3rd level I now pick up a level of Ranger (which is actually a build I've used before)? Do I know have a +4 bonus on Fort and a +4 bonus on Reflex? Isn't that a huge advantage compared to not multiclassing?
Identical bonuses apart from Dodge don't stack, even in D20, so you'd only get a +2 Class Bonus. At 2nd and 3rd level you'd get a +1 level bonus for +3 overall. So a Ftr 1 / Rog 1 / Rgr 1 would have saves of +3/+3/+1, not +4/+4/+0.

The great thing about 3rd edition is that it pretty much let you do that, and under your system to get the same effect you'll need rules that say in effect 'If you are equal parts fighter and rogue you get +1 bonus to fort and +1 bonus to reflex'. But trying to write that rule out for the general case is not at all easy.
I don't see where I'm not being clear. You get a class bonus. Class bonuses do not stack.

Let me give an example. Consider a Ftr 4 / Rgr 4. Base F/R/W saves are +4, but F and R each get a +2 Class bonus for +6/+6/+4. Fort only gets the single bonus because identical bonuses don't stack. Under D20 you'd get a double bonus to Fort and a single bonus to Ref and the saves would be +12/+4/+2. I think my tweak gives a much more reasonable result, don't you?


Either one would be fine. The important thing is that both are more simple that having named bonuses. Named bonuses produce a huge bookkeeping burden because you have to remember not only the bonus, but its name and check against every other bonus with the same name to make sure you don't accidently stack them. This is fairly easy for a computer to do but very hard for a person, especially when the bonuses are changing from round to round.
I see. Yes, quite correct.

The example was arbitarily chosen. The point is that you'd move more to the 4e model of having at most 3 stats that actually count, and 3 stats you dump as useless. If you are going to go to '3 stats actually count' just go to three stats - Body, Mind, and Heart (or something like that) - and be done with it.
Ah, but I'm not going that route. Different stats apply to different things - for instance STR still gives damage bonuses and Con still gives HP bonuses - but in the case of saves, there are two stats which can apply and you take the better.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
Skills as feats would require an awful lot of other "tweaking".

It would pretty much require retooling all prestige classes - since far and away most of them require a minimum number of ranks in certain key skills for entry.
I don't see this as a problem: you adapt only those you actually require - one or two per character. And you simply change the requirement to 'Trained: X' or 'Skill Focus: X'
 

Jack Simth

Visitor
How would the following tweaks affect D20?

1 - Skills as feats. No skill points, just Feats as per 4e. Give bonus feats to compensate.
They were called nonweapon proficiencies in previous editions.

As for how this will affect your game, it depends.

If the Rogue gets 8 'skill feats', the Bard 6, and so on, you're actually going to weaken the skillmonkey classes slightly - unless you make your Int bonus give you extra skill feats.

You'll still reduce their flexibility a bit (which does weaken them) in that they can't drop just two or three skill points into a given skill to cover the most common needs - so no getting just three ranks in Swim to be able to avoid drowning in rough water, you're either an expert or you're a novice. This also removes some of the 'jack of all trades' character concepts.

2 - Base Saving Throw = HD/2 (round down) + Class bonus (if any). e.g a Fighter gets a +2 Class Bonus to Fort, a Fighter / Rogue gets class bonuses to Fort and Ref.
Saving throws are a little higher across the board, so characters are marginally more resilient vs. Magic. That's... about it, really.
3 - No unnamed bonuses.
Cool. You'll want to name the bonuses from class features, though - the Paladin's save bonus from Divine Grace is now 'Divine', and the Monk's AC bonus is now 'Insight' or some such.
4 - Cut down on the explosion of bonuses. Like bonuses still do not stack, but now similar bonuses do not stack. So Divine Grace, Holy, Blessed, Sacred, Vile, Anarchic, Axiomatic etc bonuses do not stack. Nor do Inherent and Enhancement bonuses. Nor do Defender and Shield, or Defender and Armour or Bracers of AC. And so on. You only get one Synergy bonus. Exceptions: bonuses from Feats stack, as do Armour and Shield, and Circumstance bonuses only stack if the circumstance is completely different - if in doubt, they don't.
This one is liable to hurt players. See, a PC who got equipment via stuff found adventuring is liable to have something like a +2 Breastplate, a +1 shield, a +2 Amulet of Natural Armor, and a +1 Ring of Protection. He also might have found a +4 Gloves of Dexterity, and a +2 Manual of +Dex.

He loses about 3-5 points of AC, so monsters are 15-25% more likely to hit on each attack.

However, it affects most monsters not at all - they simply have Strength S, Base Attack Bonus B, size modifier C, Feat impact D - all of which stack.

So you're weakening players, without weakening monsters, with this one. This is a recipe for accidentally misjudging encounters.
5 - Epic Prowess counts to BAB for feat selection.
No big deal, really. Seriously.
6 - Saving throw bonuses determined by the pairs of stats as in 4e.
Makes characters slightly more magically resilient, and makes dump stats more common.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Umm.. no, +2 on each is standard d20.
Err... no, this isn't standard D20.

And don't forget that the character is losing other things like the BAB and the HP.
Err... compared with what.

Identical bonuses apart from Dodge don't stack, even in D20, so you'd only get a +2 Class Bonus.
Right. Forgot about your love affair with naming bonuses, so that addresses one issue. But back to my original issue, a +2 bonus to Fortitude even with an identical name always stacks with a +2 bonus to Reflexes. Stacking only becomes an issue when two bonuses are modifying the same thing.

At 2nd and 3rd level you'd get a +1 level bonus for +3 overall. So a Ftr 1 / Rog 1 / Rgr 1 would have saves of +3/+3/+1, not +4/+4/+0.
I don't see where I'm not being clear. You get a class bonus. Class bonuses do not stack.

Let me give an example. Consider a Ftr 4 / Rgr 4. Base F/R/W saves are +4, but F and R each get a +2 Class bonus for +6/+6/+4. Fort only gets the single bonus because identical bonuses don't stack. Under D20 you'd get a double bonus to Fort and a single bonus to Ref and the saves would be +12/+4/+2. I think my tweak gives a much more reasonable result, don't you?
A Ftr4/Rgr4 under RAW would have save bonuses of +8/+5/+2. While you might quibble that this isn't fully reasonable (for the same reason that large gaps between good and bad saves aren't reasonable), it's a bit more reasonable in one respect than +6/+6/+4 precisely because that array demonstrates the problem I'm talking about. If the character was a 8th level fighter, he'd have an array of +6/+4/+4 under your system. But by dipping even one level into Ranger, he goes immediately to +6/+6/+4 - essentially pickuping up Lightning Reflexes for free with no drawback beyond those associated with multiclassing (which generally balance out with the benifits of multiclassing except for spellcasting classing). Normally when you multiclass, the fact that your bad save is stuck permenently bad - barring your DM having a fractional accounting house rule - is one of the main drawbacks that balances against all that dipping (particularly because many classes tend to be front loaded).

Ah, but I'm not going that route. Different stats apply to different things - for instance STR still gives damage bonuses and Con still gives HP bonuses - but in the case of saves, there are two stats which can apply and you take the better.
Sure, but 90% of the value of Wisdom for most classes is that it adds to your Will save. If I'm not a spellcaster that depends on Wisdom, and I'm not the party's primary 'scout', then Wisdom would probably have no value to me if I could get a good Will save from some other stat (say Charisma). If I actually get a direct benefit from Charisma, then I'm always going to ignore Wisdom (probably completely) under these circumstances. Likewise, for many classes the benefit of Dexterity is probably 50% in getting a Reflex bonus from it because I'm likely going to be wearing heavy armor that prevents the use of Dexterity as an AC enhancer. So if I can substitute something else for Dexterity in Reflex saves, there is a good chance its going to be ignored completely. The big benefit here is probably going to be to spellcasters, who are already tempted to dump everything in to their spellcasting attribute and everything left over into constitution. This makes that even more viable.
 
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irdeggman

Visitor
I don't see this as a problem: you adapt only those you actually require - one or two per character. And you simply change the requirement to 'Trained: X' or 'Skill Focus: X'
Well in 3.5 having multiple prestige classes per PC is the "norm" and then you have to adapt for the NPCs too.

When first created the design was that in order to qualify for a prestige class a character needed to be at least 5th level for entry. (Having said that WotC consistently violated that rule - there are a few prestige classes where entry at 2nd or 3rd level is possible).

But in attempting to stay with the design model - WotC most often used skill ranks to determine the minimum level possible.

Max ranks for a "trained" skill was class level +3 for an "untrained" skill it was 1/2 of that.

Now using your method - how would you account for this without having skill monkey classes being able to enter marital oriented prestige classes (with skill rank prerequisites) much earlier than marital classes?

Requiring feats for "trained" skills makes things a lot more complicated.

You would need to add to the number of feats a character gets for each "class". That is "skill monkey" classes (rogue and bard) would require a lot of extra feats.

Now I am not saying you can't do what you propose - but it will require a lot more work than you initially though.

Historically even minor "tweaks" in the rules have invariably caused a cascading effect of more and more house rules to compensate. This is something I have seen and truely believe that most people who have delved into any sort of subtantial house-rules have also noticed.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
Well in 3.5 having multiple prestige classes per PC is the "norm" and then you have to adapt for the NPCs too.
I really don't think that this is a problem.

But in attempting to stay with the design model - WotC most often used skill ranks to determine the minimum level possible.

Max ranks for a "trained" skill was class level +3 for an "untrained" skill it was 1/2 of that.

Now using your method - how would you account for this without having skill monkey classes being able to enter marital oriented prestige classes (with skill rank prerequisites) much earlier than marital classes?
Well, generally, one gets down on bended knee and offers the lady a ring. :)

I'm a firm believer in Prestige Classes being appropriate for the setting and no allowing just any Prestige Class willy-nilly. Each adaptation should be campaign-specific.

Requiring feats for "trained" skills makes things a lot more complicated.

You would need to add to the number of feats a character gets for each "class". That is "skill monkey" classes (rogue and bard) would require a lot of extra feats.
I've been thinking about that and there's an elegant solution: make being better than semi-skilled a class feature. Say a +1 class bonus to untrained skills per n levels. And give everyone bonus feats on odd levels, instead of every 3 levels.

Historically even minor "tweaks" in the rules have invariably caused a cascading effect of more and more house rules to compensate. This is something I have seen and truely believe that most people who have delved into any sort of subtantial house-rules have also noticed.
This is the whole point of asking first!
 

Quartz

Adventurer
So you're weakening players, without weakening monsters, with this one. This is a recipe for accidentally misjudging encounters.
A very good point. I don't think it applies to monsters from the original Monster Manual, but rather to those from the subsequent ones after Bonus Inflation set in. But I go for heavy multi-classing anyway so I'm used to tweaking the ECL.
 

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