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D&D General How would YOU do "classless D&D"?


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think having a martial/magic split would be ridiculously unbalanced, it already exists to a degree but lumping all the magic capabilities together would be exponentially more broken than lumping all the martial capabilities
Not necessarily, depending on the cost balancing. Especially if the opportunity was also taken to flesh out the martial abilities to put them more on par with magic, like in 4th.

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Classless D&D? Hm.

So I guess my approach would be to think "how can I make this so that it isn't just Runequest or GURPS Fantasy and so that it still feels like D&D". Because my gut reaction would be to start with Runequest and then crank up the power level and change the setting to something more High Fantasy than Glorantha.

I'd probably end up recreating classes in a much more convoluted manner to try to preserve the "feel" of D&D to be honest. I'd end going back to the 4e idea of power sources (Martial/Arcane/Divine) and then building feat chains and templates that gave powers and abilities from those sources in such a way that you can create templates that end up basically being the traditional classes of D&D.

Or I'd end up taking things to their logical extreme and recreating Ars Magica.

Not sure if this is how I would do it, but it's a way to do it: all advancement is through items. Basically, aside form ability scores (which would have smaller mods) everyone starts the same. (I'd even be stingy with races - either all human or just human/dwarf/maybe halfling. Nothing that needs rules to portray.) During your adventures, you find magic items.

Some you would use, which would grant both direct use (swing a magic sword, but with a bigger bonus than just your strength), as well as special actions (a flame tongue also lets you cast burning hands and wall of fire). Traditional spell-storing items are you you become a caster-type: a staff, wand or holy symbol (et al) would grant you numerous spells to choose from including cantrips in most cases. Some would just permanently change you: a potion of fire giant's strength doesn't wear off in an hour. Maybe a bath in dragon's blood makes you a dragonborn or half-dragon.

It's important to not give out simple items if you do this - Even magic armor needs active-use abilities. Items are no the only source of new toys to play with.

The downsides I can see with this type of setup would be the need to periodically remove items so you can have a steady influx of new stuff to use but not overwhelm the players, and some worldbuilding issues.

Edit to add: you would end up recreating a lot of classes conceptually through signature items, ie a paladin is now "someone attuned to a holy avenger." Bard = instrument of the bards, hexblade = blackrazor, druid = staff of the woodlands (sorta). So you aren't losing any concepts, but a character who decides to switch gear can end up playing very differently.
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Well, I think for a base it may be something like....

Choose one of the following packages...

Gain +1 Attack Bonus/Level
1d10 HD
1 Good Save, two Bad saves (or if we go with the current system, two physical saves with prof bonus).
4 Skills to choose from

Gain +3 Attack Bonus/5 Levels (it would be divided better than this, such as +0, +1, +2, +3, +3)
1d8 HD
1 Good Save, two Bad Saves (or if we go with the current system, two saves of any stat)
6 Skills to choose from

+1 Attack Bonus/2 Levels
1d6 HD
2 Good Saves, 1 Bad Save (or if we go with the current system, 3 saves of any stat)
8 Skills to choose from
Choose limited Spellcasting (Arcane or Divine)

+1 Attack Bonus/3 Levels
1d4 HD
All Good Saves
6 Skills to choose from
Full Caster (either Divine or Arcane spells)

Choose two from the abilities below

Use All Martial Weapons and armor
Use Simple Weapons and up to Medium Armor and gain 2 skills, or expertise in 3 skills
Use Simple Weapons and no Armor and gain limited spellcasting (Arcane or Divine)
Use Simple Weapons and no armor and gain Eldritch Blast
Use All Martial Weapons and Light Armor and upgrade HD by one level (so 1d4 becomes 1d6, if already 1d10 go up to 1d12)
Use Simple Weapons and Light Armor and gain expertise in 4 skills and ability to use cantrips


Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I think I'd use 4e as a basis. At start, one would choose a role (gaining a keyword), then take feats to gain other keywords to select powers and other feats. You'd get choice of weapon/implement keywords that let you learn related powers. Some feats would give you proficiency with armor/rituals/etc. Some feats would give unique powers.


You know after thinking about 1/2 and 1/3 casters and the question being about classless 6th edition D&D, I would go hard on the number 6 and focus on power sources.

Basically your PC has 6 points and you put them on the power sources for base power source abilities. Then you spend points within the power source for features.

  • Arcane: You are a Points/6 arcane caster
    • Infusions
    • Invocations
    • Metamagic
    • Pact Magic
    • Patrons
    • School Spec
    • Spellbook
    • Sorcery Origin
    • Sorcery Points
  • Divine: You are a Points/6 divine caster: Increases HD at 3 points.
    • Channel Divinity
    • Divine Domain
    • Divine Smite
    • Orders
    • War Priest
  • Martial: Increases HD by 2 for each point. Extra Attack at 3 points
    • Action Surge
    • Athlete
    • Extra Attack (X)
    • Fighting Style
    • Second Wind
    • Indomitable
    • Maneuvers
  • Primal: You are a Points/6 druidic caster. Increases HD at 3 points.
    • Barbarianism
    • Beast Companion
    • Favored Enemy
    • Land Spells
    • Natural Explorer
    • Rage
    • Wildshape
  • Skullduggery: Bonus skill per 2 points
    • Bardic Magic
    • Cunning Action
    • Expertise
    • JOAT
    • Sneak Attack
    • Street Wisdom


As you said, I would feat-ify a lot of things, though there are some things that fall under "feats" that I would convert into "skills." For example, parrying (and other maneuvers) might be a "feat," but simply being able to use a particular weapon (or class of weapons) would be a "skill."

To be honest, though, even back in the 1980s I had already started shifting over to point buy systems that didn't use classes and levels. The only reason I still play D&D at all is because the group I GM for prefer it.


Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (He/him)
I think you'd have to do something like 3e and 5e have done and rate abilities numerically and then give PCs X points at 1st level to buy abilities. So if you want heavy armor, semi-spellcasting, sneak attack, and bardic inspiration, you would spend your points on those things. You'd also gate abilities not just by point cost, but the levels(the lowest level if different among multiple classes) at which they are offered. So when you hit 3rd level, you could purchase from among the 1st-3rd level class/subclass abilities. You might also create chains in which you need a lower form of an ability before you can get the higher one. As an example, you could not buy extra attack(2) at 11th level unless you had purchased extra attack already.
This is pretty much how my rules for 0th-level characters are written. It covers most 1st-level abilities of PHB classes with assigned point values. Some abilities for each class, however, are gated behind a "final training". Another complication is that I built in downtime requirements for picking up abilities, although there's also a system for picking up most mundane abilities without investing the downtime if you want to skip it. It also allows a character to remain classless at 1st level with the goal of "multiclassing" into a class at 2nd level. A similar system could be extended to higher levels by doing as you say and creating a point-buy system that includes all class abilities.

Cordwainer Fish

Imp. Int. Scout Svc. (Dishon. Ret.)
In the near future, I expect Artificial Intelligence to comb thru all of the possible features in D&D to assign a comprehensive value to each feature. It will even anticipate unexpectedly powerful combos, and assign a penalty cost for certain combos.

I assume we still need humans to massage the AI results. But such a systematic scrutiny will be enormously useful for the gaming industry.
That's probably what convinced Skynet humanity was a write-off.

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