D&D General Let's Talk About How to "Fix" D&D

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So if we're going to fix things, let's be a bit daring. Obviously you can't just turn it into another system, but I think we could break through and give some real changes to a bunch of things without losing the 5E feel and what it brought to the table.

Problem: Too many classes are spellcasters.

1. Rangers and Paladins become non-spellcasters. Provide them abilities instead.
2. Re-work the Sorcerer to make it a more interesting full-caster option to the Wizard.
3. Make the Druid a half-caster. The "nature caster" is already covered by the Nature Cleric. Beef up cool abilities.
4. Nuke the Bard from orbit. Nobody cares about you and your lutes.

This has some good ideas (except for the last one), but to expand on it:
  1. Fewer Full Casters: Let Wizards and Clerics rock the full caster list. Like Snarf says, let Druids be half-casters and fill out the rest of the class with interesting features.

  2. Use Warlock-style casting more: The Warlock was a great concept, and it sucks that they didn't use the chassis for other casting classes. Bard immediately springs to mind as a great "shot rest caster", and maybe Paladin if you want to keep their spellcasting abilities (plus the invocation system would work well at modeling cool Paladin stuff).

  3. Eliminate 1/3rd Casters: Largely for martial gishes, but really I'd rather just simplify the spell growth by making them half-casters and give the non-spellcaster archetypes a boost all around.

  4. Nerf spells a bit: Honestly, let's put a bit more balance on the spells. I know they deliberately unbalanced some spells to make them feel "classic", but I think pulling a bit back on upper-level spells would do the game good.

  5. Model Martials around the Monk: What I mean by this is to give Martials a small bit of spendable resources across all archetypes. I honestly think Ki was a really well-done concept overall: something that gave the monk some options without being a huge bookkeeping problem or creating unnecessary complexity. I think the Fighter, Ranger, and Barbarian could definitely benefit a bit from such things, especially for the Ranger as a substitute for spells. The one thing I would do is to have the resource recover like Grit, the resource Matt Mercer created for his Gunslinger class. Giving Martials a way to recover some resources in combat was a great idea, and you could have both universal ways (get some back on a 20 or on a kill) and more classic-specific ways.

  6. Create a scaling Quick Rest: The problem @Dausuul describes is a real one, and 30 minute (For the monk)/1 Hour short rests can really kill the pacing of an adventure, while having too many can turn things towards Nova-ing for quick rest classes. I saw this idea described on rpg.net and given that I'm trying to pitch a bunch of new short-rest classes, I think it's a good balance: the first rest is a 5 minute one, the second is 10-15 minutes, the third is 30 minutes, and any rest after that is 1 hour. You can tweak the numbers a bit, but that allows for a quicker-paced game while disincentivizing too much resting.

  7. Just integrate feats as standard already: Feats in 5E are conceptually good, but a bit wonky in execution: you have a great deal of variance between the good and the bad, along with the fact that Feats are competing with the rare stat-increase for a spot. This always seemed like a bad choice, especially in a game with such low stats to begin with, which is why I typically gave my players a free feat from the start to give their character a bit of customization. Also balance the feats a bit better and add some more (though not too many).

  8. Streamline Skills: Gonna steal a few things from PF2 here, but they're easy to integrate. First, cut out Investigation and just combine it into Perception, and give everyone Perception: I've seen very few players who don't want to find things. If you are desperate to have certain classes see things better, than maybe you can give a class-based bonus.

    Secondly, clean up the skill list a bit. Let's also combine Animal Handling and Nature. Either get rid of Performance or turn it into something distinct, because having it as well as your instrumental tool proficiency has just been a weird debate for ages. I'd honestly suggest turning it into "Charm", where you are able to carouse and orate, while Persuasion a more logical reasoned approach (I might also make that an Int skill just to distinguish the different approaches).

    Third, every class gets their important skill. Wizards get Arcana because they are wizards, Clerics get Religion because they are Clerics, Rangers finally get Nature and Survival because that's what they are supposed to be good at. Fighters can have choice of Acrobatics or Athletics, etc. It's not like classes get a bunch of skills to begin with, nor that having more skills for classes would break the game.

  9. Remove the Bonus Action: Mike Mearls has commented on this, and given how it's become something of a bottleneck for certain classes, I think it's just best to eliminate it. You have two weapons? You get a second attack with the offhand in your Attack Action. Bonus action spell? It attaches to an Action. Mearls goes into his own thoughts here, which might well be smarter but also would require more explanation and I just have not come up with anything more complex than what I've already stated so far.

  10. Make Dex less of a God-stat: Right now I'd argue Dex is easily one of the best pound-for-pound stats you can get, and I'd love to see that pulled back somehow. Not sure how, but my final suggestion would help...

  11. Use a Reworked Greyhawk Initiative System: Aww yeah, getting silly with this. I really do love the eclectic nature of this and I've only run my own modded version a few times, but it's quite cool and feels somewhat old school without being just a rehash. I think you can rework the numbers and concepts (my own was using weapon damage dice when you were attacking, and having spells start on your initiative and finally releases a number of initiative counts equal to the spell level, with cantrips going immediately), but the concept does work and I think it would spice up things.
Those are the rough edges of what I'd want to do to change things up without losing what makes 5E feel like D&D. Not too many huge structural changes, more about reworking the classes themselves.

I have a lot of personal preferences for how I would change the game, but I think the one that would be the most of a "fix" would be to make it more modular.

As has been discussed in other threads, ability scores (or rather, their modifiers) have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the game. I would pull back on this, maybe by leaning more on proficiency bonus, or having ability score modifiers not stack with anything else. Also drop the score/modifier distinction at this point.

The game also assumes a decent dependency on magic, with more spellcasting classes than not. This is unlike race, where the system will work fine with an all-human or all-dwarf or all-elf party. I would strip spellcasting from all half-casters, with built-in guidelines for making a viable low-magic campaign.

I would also drop rolling for ability scores and rolling for HP. Random character generation could instead be based on rolling for race and/or class. Keeps the excitement of not knowing what you'll wind up with.


Victoria Rules
I’m not aware of that data and don’t recall ever saying that? I mean, it might be true, but if so it’s not a thing that I know.
I also remember this coming up at some point - that forum posters/readers tended to be both older-aged and longer-time-RPGers than the average board visitor - but I'm not sure if it was through a poll or from something you (or @darjr ?) posted.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
I know. "Fix" implies there is something "wrong" and that's okay. We are allowed to not like the way a thing is done in D&D (or any other game). But it also suggests something positive: that by tweaking or changing a thing, we can make the game better for our own purposes.

So here are the rules: present a "problem" with D&D (any edition will do) and explain why you feel it is a problem (this part is really important) and the either suggest a fix, or ask for a fix from fellow community members.

For example, one thing in 5E that I really find to be a problem as a GM is how poorly the action economy is balanced for "solo" creatures. A PC party of 4 or 5 characters punches WAY above its weight class against solo monsters, even in Lairs and with legendary actions. A good part of this has to do with the 5E math -- solo monsters don't hit especially hard and so they aren't terrifying in that "stay away from it or you're dead!" feeling that helps keep the PCs at bay. On top of it, PCs can really pump out a lot of damage when they want to and solos, which are usually just big bags of hit points, don't last long. All that said, the fight against one massive foe is a fantasy staple and I want it to work -- and not just for epic boss battles. There's no reason a random encounter with a giant or whatever shouldn't be viable, too.

One thought I have had to fix this is to treat a big creature like a group of creatures that all stay close together. Like, if the dragon were it's head, it's tail and its torso/claw routine. So the head not only gets to act independently on its own initiative, it has its own list of abilities, its own reach and range, and its own hit point pool. The same for the other parts. But while I think it is a neat idea for a dragon, I don't know how it would translate well to a giant or other creature without lots of "interesting parts."
Oh and in answer to the OP, my response is:



Part of what I'd like for a fix would require too much work, that is making all classes gain their first subclass level at level 1 and then gain additional subclass levels at the same time.

Something which can be fixed is level 1 hit points. One of the things I liked about 4e was that 1st level PCs were tougher and more able to survive the early levels. To fix this, I double the hit points at level 1 so that a fighter for instance gains 20 hit points + their constitution modifier. I was going around on exactly what to do, initially adding hit points equal to 8 for medium creatures and 6 for small (based off the size of hitdice for monsters) but decided that doubling class hit points at level 1 was easier.


One thought I have had to fix this is to treat a big creature like a group of creatures that all stay close together. Like, if the dragon were it's head, it's tail and its torso/claw routine. So the head not only gets to act independently on its own initiative, it has its own list of abilities, its own reach and range, and its own hit point pool. The same for the other parts. But while I think it is a neat idea for a dragon, I don't know how it would translate well to a giant or other creature without lots of "interesting parts."
I REALLY like the idea of that. It would make huge threats feel more like the challenge that they should be. I would certainly do a similar thing with the Terrasque, which really needs a complete new entry anyway because throwing a castle turret at a flying sorcerer pew-pewing it should be something it does.


Victoria Rules
Problem (across all editions but far worse in 3e-4e-5e): strictly turn-based cyclic initiative leads to unrealistic and sometimes stupid results e.g. two foes cannot by RAW simultaneously kill each other, or two allies cannot by RAW move together, or someone can't by RAW run into (or out of) an AoE area by mistake just as it goes off as a character's movement works like a mini-teleport on their init., etc. etc. Most importantly, strict turn-based cyclic init. plays hard against the idea of the chaotic fog of war and makes timing far too predictable.

Fix: re-do initiative from the ground up. Bring back the concept of segments in a round. Individual initiative as now but use a smaller die (d6 or d8), and allow ties. Re-roll every round. No stat-based init. roll modifiers of any kind. Each weapon or attack gets its own independent initiative thus if you attack twice in a round you roll two separate init. dice. Movement takes time and is tracked segment by segment such that if the lightning bolt goes off we can tell if you're potentially in its way or not. Do away with bonus actions as a thing, most of them e.g. off-hand weapon attacks become normal actions and get their own initiative each round. Etc.

I am far more simple in the approach I would want the monk done better, did I say that before?
lots of you seem to gravitate towards certain ideas why is that?


OK, my main problems with D&D are: Hit Points & Armor Class.

First, I want to explain that I think they are great at representing the abstract nature of combat. I think they are good are representing luck, exhaustion, and minor injuries. In fact, we still use them for exactly that!

The Problem:
However, I think they are terrible for representing serious hits / injuries / damage. To me this is obvious and I don't particularly feel the need to explain further. I will if asked.

The Solution:
The solution my group uses now was based on the 4e bloodied condition. We created a 2nd pool of hit points called bloodied hit points (BHP). BHP is based on size and fitness and doesn't grow as you level. It is basically fixed and low (1 - 10 max for Medium PC), and represent your PC's "meat." You take damage to BHP when your HP are 0 or on a critical hit (we used "confirmed" critical hits). This means a critical hit form a sword always has the potential to take you out, which feels correct to us. Additionally, BHP heal slowly. I BHP / week or you can use a healer's kit and a check to increase that to reduce that time. At 0 BHP you die.

In conjunction with BHP. we give all armor a damage reduction (DR) value = to the armor's AC -10. However, this damage reduction only comes into effect when your BHP has been hit. So, if you are at 9 HP and your hit or a critical hit, your armor reduces the damage of that hit before you subtract it from your BHP.

A fighter (9 BHP) in plate armor AC 18 (8 DR) is fighting a Huge Dragon. The fighter is at 0 HP and is hit by the dragon's claw for 15 damage. The damage is reduced by 8 (from the DR) and does 7 damage to the Fighter's DR. The fighter now has only 2 BHP and likely can't take another hit - he need to get the heck out of there.

Now, you could add all kinds of grittiness to this with lingering injuries and bleeding, but hat was to much for my group. For us, this system is fast, not very intrusive, and has the correct level of realism / game abstraction for us.
I'll check it out when I get home from work! I agree hit points are too abstract from my tastes, but I've yet to find an alternative I find elegant enough to replace them.

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