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5E Making a 5E Variant I *Want* To Play (+thread)

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
@dave2008 , @Undrave

First, this is a + thread, so please only contribute if you have something to, you know, actually contribute. I appreciate everyone who honors that and thank you.

This is a BIG departure for the 5E core design framework in some ways, and I am okay with that. There is a lot in 5E I think is great so I want to keep playing it, but I want to see if it is possible to tailor it to fit my design goals. I'll continue to expand and update the OP as things get added and revised.

So, here we go. I will begin by focusing on two major areas: proficiency and combat/hit points. Now, I already have ideas on how to implement the changes I am looking for and these are presented as well, but I am open to other ideas. Please note the following:
  • Sources of advantage and disadvantage stack.
  • When I write "advantage" or "disadvantage" in quotes, I don't mean you actually have advantage or disadvantage, but I mean the mechanic is applied. This is an important distinction because disadvantage would prevent sneak attacks, but "disadvantage" (in quotes) does not.

Example. A +6 vs. a +0 in a contested roll will loose 22.75% of the time. +6 represents maximum proficiency and is only at tier 4 (17th+ level!), but will lose nearly 1 in 4 times?
Issue. This bugs me because you need 225,000 XP for tier 4, which is a lot of adventuring, trials, success, and failure, but you are not significantly better than someone with no experience whatsoever.
Change. You have "disadvantage" on any ability check you make when you do not apply proficiency. Expertise grants "advantage" instead of double the proficiency bonus.

Example. An INT 18 NPC without Arcana proficiency is only 10% less likely to know about Arcana than an INT 10 PC with Arcana at level 17+.
Issue. While ability scores should help certainly, they should not come close to matching what thousands of XP of adventuring can teach a PC.
Change. Proficiency progression is increased to a max of +8 following this pattern: +2,2,3,3,3,4,4,4,5,5,5,6,6,6,7,7,7,8,8,8 and ability scores cap at 18 with maximum +4. This yields a maximum bonus of +12

Example. A STR 12 level 20 fighter who uses a longsword will max out at +7 compared to the STR 20 level 1 fighter who is also +7.
Issue: A 20th-level fighter's skill should far surpass the max STR bonus of +5, but it doesn't so people are not likely to play sub-optimal builds.
Change. See Item #2. In this example, the level 20 fighter would become +9, while the STR 18 (max) level 1 fighter would be +6. Not perfect, but it helps.

Example. A character without proficiency is just as likely to fail a DC 12 save at level 1 as at level 20.
Example. A character without stealth proficiency is just as likely to fail against a passive perception 10 at level 1 as at level 20.
Example. A character without proficiency has ridden a horse for thousands of XP worth of adventures as they leveled, but are no better at it then they were when they first got on it.
Issue.This ignores that such characters will have to test those saves, skills, etc. during their adventures but never get any better at them. Saves will be tested, non-stealthy characters will still have times when they need to make Dexterity (Stealth) checks, and so on.
Change. At each tier, the PC gains proficiency in a skill, language, tool, etc. along with a ASI +1 OR proficiency in a saving throw. So, you won't improve in everything but at least you get something.

Example. A 5th-level fighter with STR mod +6 will hit an AC 14 on a 8 or higher (65%). With two attacks, he will hit with at least one attack 7 out of 8 times (87.75%) and both attacks 42.25%. It becomes more of a pleasant shock when you miss something!
Issue. This leads to boredom because success is more common than failure and is less exciting.
Change. All attack rolls are made with "disadvantage" (i.e. you are always Dodging). This makes it so you only hit half as often. (I'll address saves against spell damage later, but basically all saves are made with "advantage.") This change means the number of rounds of combat is about the same, but combat goes faster because you are rolling for damage and tracking it only half as much.

Issue. This makes combat longer because damage is rolled more often and DM (and players) must track each hit taken. When players are rolling several dice due to sneak attacks, smites, fireballs, etc. the time spent can add up and slows down the game.
Change. NPCs/Monsters have half (or choose minimum) HP. So, not you are hitting half as much, but it counts twice as much when you hit.
Change. PCs get HP equal to their CON score at level 1. If their CON increases, so does their HP. After level 1, they only get HD.

EDIT: Changed 1st-level HP to CON given suggestions and running the numbers. It works well, especially if I have critical hits explode on damage dice.

Example. We have a raging (+3), STR 18 (+4) 11th-level barbarian with dueling style (+2) and +1 longsword (avg 5), averages 14 dmg per hit, which is not enough to kill a single orc, yet in movies you see the heroes dropping orcs left and right with a single attack.
Example. Sleep now affects 5d8 (max 40) hp, not sufficient to stop a single Ogre, and will put one or (maybe) two orcs to sleep (can't affect 3).
Issue. Characters need to spend multiple attacks/spells to defeat creatures that in prior editions could be easily defeated.
Change. Half HP means these hits will now down foes when they actually hit. Spells like sleep can now affect creatures like an Ogre again.

Example. Again, a tier 4 cleric is just as easy "to hit" as he was at tier 1.
Issue. Your ability to avoid damage is reflected in the hit point bloat instead of actually making you harder "to hit".
Change. Nothing here yet. Have some thoughts but I don't know if I like them on this topic.

That's it for now. I'll revise items if anything is unclear. And thanks again for contributing (and thank you as well for not if you don't care to offer anything :) ).
 
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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Baseline disadvantage on attacks, but letting sources of advantage stack is an interesting adjustment. It would prioritize your non-big hitters to assist and grant advantage to the big hitters, since they can easily drop an enemy in 1-2 hits. This would almost certainly speed up combat, and also get rid of a lot of weaker cantrip attacks. Getting away from cantrip combat use seems like it would agree with your overall playstyle, I feel. :)

I'd probably also cut down hit points by about a third, not by half, assuming you want to keep combat rounds the same. Unless you're using a lot of high AC enemies, baseline hit rates are between 60-70%. With DA, that changes to 36-49%, which isn't really "half as often". If I was using this ruleset, I'd probably just give enemies their hit points from Hit Die and ignore Con bonuses.

Also, any adjustment to hit points means you're impacting the utility of healing effects, which you may or may not want to change as well, depending on if you want to make healing more important. I'd certainly prioritize a feat like Inspiring Leader in this kind of game.

Personally, in this kind of game, I'd probably forgo the +2 ASI option entirely, and only allow feats. It helps enforce the idea that your stats are a natural ability, and that training is ultimately more important.
 

  1. I'm not a fan of this, mostly because it bring back the 3E days of the DM either letting trained characters always succeed or have untrained characters always fail. If you want to utilize this, then I'd strongly suggest you take a look at my suggestion for #4 to go with it.
  2. Not terrible, but you'll definitely need to overall increase DCs at higher levels if you want anyone to fail. This is especially important for your combat issues. I agree, and really wished they'd capped scores at 18, rather than 20.
  3. This really is a duplicate of Item #2, just using combat instead of checks. I'd assume this proficiency setup would also be for saves and other proficiency uses.
  4. Something from the early playtest I felt was a great method for proficiency. When you'd increase your proficiency, you get a number of points based on your printed number of skills (from background, race, and class abilities). You can spend those points to increase proficiency in a skill, with the first one granting +2, rather than the normal +1. This allows characters to spread out their proficiency should they choose, rather than just specialize. Presumable most characters would specialize in a couple of skills, while spreading out to be proficient in the rest.
    1. This same rule could be used with Saving Throws and Tools.
    2. This could be used with weapon proficiency, but you'd have to go back to weapon groups, like they did in 4E. Not sure if it's worth the issue.
  5. You didn't state this, but I'm assuming damage would be doubled? Doubling damage was something many DMs did in 4E in order to shorten combat. This would bring back a lot of the swing of combat, assuming you made ACs higher.
  6. Sadly this is just going to have everyone dump Constitution. An option similar to this would be to grant Con Score in starting HP, but not add Con to rolled HP. PCs start with more, but don't really gain as much. Alternately, you could halve the roll keeping the 0.5 to add to the next time a half is needed.
  7. This doesn't actually have a change, just re-emphasizes existing changes, particularly 6
  8. I'd simply add half proficiency to AC, creating a minor treadmill. This would end with a +8 attack vs +4 AC, which would have more missed attacks, increasing the combat swing.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Some ideas:

1: Maybe go with Untrained: no modifier (not even ability mod, a flat d20), Trained: just ability mod, Proficient: mod + proficiency dice (see DMG), Expert: mod+prof dice (roll twice, keep the highest prof dice).

2: Stat goes to 18, I'm good with that. Anyway, the proficiency die goes up to 1d12.

3: see 2.

4: At each tier, players can increase 1+ Int mod skill by one step (Untrained -> Trained -> Proficient -> Expert)

5: I would give all players and creature add their proficiency dice to all saves and make them roll the same proficiency die and add it to their AC when attacked. I would maybe add + 2x mod to damage rolls where you would already add it at level 11 or so.

6 and 7: Start with Con Score at level 1 then only add HD at level-up. Since I know you dont like much the fast healing rate of 5e, I'd go with health recovery based on HD only, recovering only half-their HD max per long rest. No automatic healing on a rest.

8: see 5.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Baseline disadvantage on attacks, but letting sources of advantage stack is an interesting adjustment. It would prioritize your non-big hitters to assist and grant advantage to the big hitters, since they can easily drop an enemy in 1-2 hits. This would almost certainly speed up combat, and also get rid of a lot of weaker cantrip attacks. Getting away from cantrip combat use seems like it would agree with your overall playstyle, I feel. :)

I'd probably also cut down hit points by about a third, not by half, assuming you want to keep combat rounds the same. Unless you're using a lot of high AC enemies, baseline hit rates are between 60-70%. With DA, that changes to 36-49%, which isn't really "half as often". If I was using this ruleset, I'd probably just give enemies their hit points from Hit Die and ignore Con bonuses.

Also, any adjustment to hit points means you're impacting the utility of healing effects, which you may or may not want to change as well, depending on if you want to make healing more important. I'd certainly prioritize a feat like Inspiring Leader in this kind of game.

Personally, in this kind of game, I'd probably forgo the +2 ASI option entirely, and only allow feats. It helps enforce the idea that your stats are a natural ability, and that training is ultimately more important.
Yes, getting away from cantrips for attacking all the time is also a priority.

True, it isn't "half the time" (ya caught me! lol) but it is a close approximation. What really happens is lower ACs are still pretty easy to hit (you might hit 64% of the time instead of 80%, for instance), but higher ACs are much harder, meaning a great AC really counts for more, which is also something I wanted (for instance instead of hitting 40%, you only hit 16%--less than half the time actually). Over all the "half the time" seemed good for a grasp of the concept idea.

I wouldn't want to ignore CON bonuses because for some creatures that is a lot, and generally just doing half HP is an easy calculation I can do on the fly if I have to. In general, the overall effect is to speed up combat and more often than not the number of rounds stays roughly the same or does decrease a bit.

Personally, I am ok with healing staying the same as far as the dice go even though PCs et al. have lower HP. It will free up slots for other uses and after my other thread on too much healing, I'll probably switch to a grittier style as well, so healing will be more vital then.

As far as the ASI option, 90% of the time our group just takes feats anyway, maybe grabbing a +1 ASI when they can. Capping the ability scores at 18 also means spending ASI will get them "maxed out" faster anyway, so feats will be all that is left if they want them.

Thanks for the feedback! :)
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
  1. I'm not a fan of this, mostly because it bring back the 3E days of the DM either letting trained characters always succeed or have untrained characters always fail. If you want to utilize this, then I'd strongly suggest you take a look at my suggestion for #4 to go with it.
  2. Not terrible, but you'll definitely need to overall increase DCs at higher levels if you want anyone to fail. This is especially important for your combat issues. I agree, and really wished they'd capped scores at 18, rather than 20.
  3. This really is a duplicate of Item #2, just using combat instead of checks. I'd assume this proficiency setup would also be for saves and other proficiency uses.
  4. Something from the early playtest I felt was a great method for proficiency. When you'd increase your proficiency, you get a number of points based on your printed number of skills (from background, race, and class abilities). You can spend those points to increase proficiency in a skill, with the first one granting +2, rather than the normal +1. This allows characters to spread out their proficiency should they choose, rather than just specialize. Presumable most characters would specialize in a couple of skills, while spreading out to be proficient in the rest.
    1. This same rule could be used with Saving Throws and Tools.
    2. This could be used with weapon proficiency, but you'd have to go back to weapon groups, like they did in 4E. Not sure if it's worth the issue.
  5. You didn't state this, but I'm assuming damage would be doubled? Doubling damage was something many DMs did in 4E in order to shorten combat. This would bring back a lot of the swing of combat, assuming you made ACs higher.
  6. Sadly this is just going to have everyone dump Constitution. An option similar to this would be to grant Con Score in starting HP, but not add Con to rolled HP. PCs start with more, but don't really gain as much. Alternately, you could halve the roll keeping the 0.5 to add to the next time a half is needed.
  7. This doesn't actually have a change, just re-emphasizes existing changes, particularly 6
  8. I'd simply add half proficiency to AC, creating a minor treadmill. This would end with a +8 attack vs +4 AC, which would have more missed attacks, increasing the combat swing.
Thanks for numbering your responses, it makes my responding that much easier! :)

1. This is mostly due to the swinginess of the d20. The idea that someone without proficiency and a moderate ability score could just get lucky and beat a PC with proficiency (or even expertise!) and a good score who happened to roll low. I toyed with doing 2d10 for skills to remove swinginess, but wanted something more to reflect non-proficiency was really not likely to succeed on moderately difficult tasks.

2. Actually, we've been doing this for a while and it works well. Since we decreased the top-end of ability scores, your max bonus is +12 instead of the RAW +11. With expertise granting "advantage" instead of the RAW max +17, DCs at the higher end are overall harder to hit.

3. The base idea for saves is you roll flat d20, and the ones you are proficient in you have "advantage". This is more keeping in line with AD&D where making saves at higher level was about 65% instead of the lower 35% in 5E.

4. I have to think about this more, but thanks for the insight!

5. No, damage is not doubled. Half hp already takes care of things. Doubling damage would be overkill.

6. I can understand why you might think so, but CON has other uses in our game like granting extra levels of exhaustion before you are affected by it. While it might lower the overall dependency on it, no one is going to want to dump it. Trust me! :)

I wouldn't want to do CON as starting HP (I have thought about it) because that would give PCs a bump at level 1. Of course, I know a lot of people think PCs have too few HP at level one as it is, so maybe I'll give this more thought.

7. Yep, just showing how changes elsewhere reflect well on some other issues.

8. Right now (with proficiency from +2 - +8) we do half prof bonus (round up) - 1, so you get +0 through tier 1, then +1 for most of tier 2, +2 in most of tier 3, and finally max out at +3. I've thought a simpler way is just a +1 bonus for tiers 2, 3, and 4.

Great feedback! :)
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Some ideas:

1: Maybe go with Untrained: no modifier (not even ability mod, a flat d20), Trained: just ability mod, Proficient: mod + proficiency dice (see DMG), Expert: mod+prof dice (roll twice, keep the highest prof dice).

2: Stat goes to 18, I'm good with that. Anyway, the proficiency die goes up to 1d12.

3: see 2.

4: At each tier, players can increase 1+ Int mod skill by one step (Untrained -> Trained -> Proficient -> Expert)

5: I would give all players and creature add their proficiency dice to all saves and make them roll the same proficiency die and add it to their AC when attacked. I would maybe add + 2x mod to damage rolls where you would already add it at level 11 or so.

6 and 7: Start with Con Score at level 1 then only add HD at level-up. Since I know you dont like much the fast healing rate of 5e, I'd go with health recovery based on HD only, recovering only half-their HD max per long rest. No automatic healing on a rest.

8: see 5.
1. I've thought about the proficiency die. I like the swinginess of the die, but not the extra rolling and math (some of our group are not mathematically inclined, but they are getting better with practice! :) ). Anyway, the point of "disadvantage" on non-proficient is to really emphasize you simply aren't that good and are unlikely to get a high result so I want to keep away from the flat d20 for that.

2. Yeah, I am more a fan of capping at 18. It makes things like Gauntlets of Ogre power actually attractive to warriors again! :)

4. So, this would allow them to use "two uses" to go from Untrained in a skill to Proficient? Interesting. It would give PCs another good reason not to dump INT (current house-rule is INT mod provides bonus languages, kits, and tools (not skills!) at level 1). I don't know if I want to adopt a 4-rank system, but it gives some food for thought.

5. I really don't want extra rolling for defense. My original thoughts were to decrease proficiency, boost ACs by 2, etc. which resulted in a net +4 effectively to AC. Since advantage is about a +5 edge, I realized imposing "disadvantage" on attack rolls would be about the same as my original thoughts.

6. LOL another vote for just doing CON at level 1?! :) Maybe that would be a good way to go, I'll run some numbers later. No automatic healing on long rest would be good, too, and definitely add to the gritty factor!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
1. I've thought about the proficiency die. I like the swinginess of the die, but not the extra rolling and math (some of our group are not mathematically inclined, but they are getting better with practice! :) ). Anyway, the point of "disadvantage" on non-proficient is to really emphasize you simply aren't that good and are unlikely to get a high result so I want to keep away from the flat d20 for that.

2. Yeah, I am more a fan of capping at 18. It makes things like Gauntlets of Ogre power actually attractive to warriors again! :)

4. So, this would allow them to use "two uses" to go from Untrained in a skill to Proficient? Interesting. It would give PCs another good reason not to dump INT (current house-rule is INT mod provides bonus languages, kits, and tools (not skills!) at level 1). I don't know if I want to adopt a 4-rank system, but it gives some food for thought.

5. I really don't want extra rolling for defense. My original thoughts were to decrease proficiency, boost ACs by 2, etc. which resulted in a net +4 effectively to AC. Since advantage is about a +5 edge, I realized imposing "disadvantage" on attack rolls would be about the same as my original thoughts.

6. LOL another vote for just doing CON at level 1?! :) Maybe that would be a good way to go, I'll run some numbers later. No automatic healing on long rest would be good, too, and definitely add to the gritty factor!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I have exactly the same problem with the proficiency die: my players are so slow to add all their die together that adding one more would require that I extend the duration of game night by about 2-3 hours. :p

The starting HP thing is from 4e, which IIRC you did not play much, but in short, in 4e, you started with 10 + CON score HP, then gained a fixed amount at level up (no + Con), 4 for striker or controller, 5 for leaders and 6 for defender. Usually classes from the Primal source had 1 more HP per level up (classes in 4e were divided per role and per ''source of power''; martial, divine, primal, shadow, arcane)
 

dave2008

Legend
I don't have time to dig in at the moment, but I will be back!

EDIT: I took a quick look and most of this seems pretty simple and straight forward. I think you can stream line your changes a bit and get what you want. I will give it a crack later.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I don't have time to dig in at the moment, but I will be back!

EDIT: I took a quick look and most of this seems pretty simple and straight forward. I think you can stream line your changes a bit and get what you want. I will give it a crack later.
NP. Take a look at it when you have time. I've been looking at this stuff (in one form or another) for weeks. ;)
 

DeviousQuail

Villager
Mostly focused on Points 2 through 4, just spitballing some ideas:
  • If you implemented 2d10 you can make a rule that when you don't have proficiency you only get to roll 1d10. Or avoid 2d10 and just do d20 for proficiency and d10 for no proficiency. This should give those with proficiency a massive boost over the non-proficient without changing anything else.
  • Expand the range of proficiency "tiers". You could go with none (no bonus), half (half bonus rounded down), proficient (standard 5e bonus), expert (x1.5 bonus rounded down), and master (x2 bonus). The only one of these that doesn't already exist, that I can think of, is the x1.5 bonus. And if you hate it you can just replace the x1.5 with something akin to the rogue's reliable talent ability.
  • Whenever you get an ASI you'd also get to do either 1) adjust two skills from no prof to half prof or half prof to full prof 2) adjust one skill from prof to expert or expert to master.
  • Instead of an altered progression you can just make proficiency start at +4 and end at +8. This should make conversions easier for players and NPCs because all you ever have to do is add 2 to proficient checks.
  • To give levels more weight you could add a second "level bonus" alongside your proficiency bonus. Your level bonus would start at +1 and increase by 1 every time your proficiency bonus increases by 1. Unlike proficiency bonus, the level bonus would affect everything (saves, skill checks, initiative, AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, spell attacks, spell save DC, etc).
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Mostly focused on Points 2 through 4, just spitballing some ideas:
  • If you implemented 2d10 you can make a rule that when you don't have proficiency you only get to roll 1d10. Or avoid 2d10 and just do d20 for proficiency and d10 for no proficiency. This should give those with proficiency a massive boost over the non-proficient without changing anything else.
  • Expand the range of proficiency "tiers". You could go with none (no bonus), half (half bonus rounded down), proficient (standard 5e bonus), expert (x1.5 bonus rounded down), and master (x2 bonus). The only one of these that doesn't already exist, that I can think of, is the x1.5 bonus. And if you hate it you can just replace the x1.5 with something akin to the rogue's reliable talent ability.
  • Whenever you get an ASI you'd also get to do either 1) adjust two skills from no prof to half prof or half prof to full prof 2) adjust one skill from prof to expert or expert to master.
  • Instead of an altered progression you can just make proficiency start at +4 and end at +8. This should make conversions easier for players and NPCs because all you ever have to do is add 2 to proficient checks.
  • To give levels more weight you could add a second "level bonus" alongside your proficiency bonus. Your level bonus would start at +1 and increase by 1 every time your proficiency bonus increases by 1. Unlike proficiency bonus, the level bonus would affect everything (saves, skill checks, initiative, AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, spell attacks, spell save DC, etc).
Thanks for the spit. ;) (j/k)

Seriously, though, your suggestions are good and address some issues, but create others I am trying to avoid.

For instance, originally I was going to use 4d6-4 (range 0-20) for everything instead of the d20. While this sounds cumbersome, we tried it for a while and people got the process quickly. If you lacked proficiency, you rolled only 2d6-2. This is pretty much your 2d10 and 1d10 suggestion. However, I found it added too much of a penalty, and then moved to 3d6-3 (max 15, so moderate tasks could be accomplished). That seemed to work well enough, but in doing more of the numbers I realized the "disadvantage" for non-proficiency accomplished the same goal (closely enough) without resorting to different dice (d10 or d6) or having to add the results (2d10, 4d6, 3d6, etc.) instead of simply comparing two dice (e.g. "disadvantage).

A couple others have suggested a 4-5 "tier" idea for non-proficient, proficient, expert... I don't know if I want to add one or two more levels of proficiency as it makes it more complex, but I'll give that more thought. It seems a popular idea here.

Sorry, but a hard "no" to the +4 to +8 proficiency progression. That maintains the difference of only +4 between levels 1 and 20, which is already present. My design goal (in case I was unclear) was to expand that difference, not maintain it. The +2 to +8 makes the difference +6, so 50% greater. Honestly, I would like it to be even more, like +10 max, but then it starts throwing other numbers well out of whack and makes it unbalanced. +8 max seemed a happy medium.

The level bonus idea is good. A simple solution that might help address numerous issues. I was already thinking of doing this with AC in a fashion, with a +1 AC bonus at each tier beyond the first. That would max out "effective" proficiency bonus at +9, which starts to stretch the numbers our a bit much over +8, but not incredibly so. The bump to damage would make foes fall that much quicker, speeding up combat in general, and it would represent over all general improvement in skills, saves, etc. even without proficiency. I'll look into that today.

Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated. :)
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
just replace d20 with 3d6 and you will see that even +2 higher modifier makes a big difference.
I've looked into it already (along with 4d6-4) and it actually creates too much difference, making things wonky as bonuses get larger, plus the time (albeit quick) it takes to add the dice instead of compare them.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
I like the idea of moving ability bonuses more to proficiency. You could even cap abilities at 16 to make a +3 max like old school d&d. Proficiency I'd be tempted to ranp up to half level round up, so +1 at level 1 to +10 at level 19, giving you a bigger skill differential at a 13/14 max (which is still fairly bounded by my standards).

I think there's merit in the idea of adding proficiency to armor class and I've written on this before, but it may be some work to find the right amount of reduction to hit points. It's also likely to make the results of fights more swingy, which may be what you're looking for.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I like the idea of moving ability bonuses more to proficiency. You could even cap abilities at 16 to make a +3 max like old school d&d. Proficiency I'd be tempted to ranp up to half level round up, so +1 at level 1 to +10 at level 19, giving you a bigger skill differential at a 13/14 max (which is still fairly bounded by my standards).

I think there's merit in the idea of adding proficiency to armor class and I've written on this before, but it may be some work to find the right amount of reduction to hit points. It's also likely to make the results of fights more swingy, which may be what you're looking for.
Thanks. I do, too.

However when you combine proficiency and ability score bonus, the goal is to keep the bonus roughly around the RAW +11 (sans expertise). If you limit ability to +3 (either with 16 or by changing the mods) and proficiency at +10, that is +13 which starts to push things further away.

I toyed with the idea of the basic ability mods (13-15 +1, 16-17 +2, 18 is +3) and having proficiency progress up to +9 (so half level about...), which keeps the total capped at +12. It also makes the proficiency to ability mod ratio a nice 3:1 instead of the 2:1 I currently have, thus putting even more emphasis on proficiency.

I think just removing CON bonus from HP helps with that issue when you add an AC bonus. But, I do worry about it because with heavy armor, shield, defensive style, and magic items (armor +3, shield +3) you can get AC 30 by tier 4. Now, if I keep with the idea of a gritty game with very low magic, it isn't that bad because it would cap ACs around 24-25. I'm on the fence on it all, honestly.
 

Coroc

Hero
1. Did you forget the contribution nof the attribute behind skills?

2. Int 18 could be translated into profound general knowledge, aka also a bit of arcana
The only thing which should be changed is minimum caster attribute / spell level imho, no illiterate Int 10 Wizards, I houserule normally: For level 5 wizard spell you need 15 intellect. Everything else is minmaxing and I personally do not like this style.

3. See 2. A fighter with str 12 but level 20 will attack more often, but he still only has +1 to damage. This is about the same as comparing a str20 ogre to a mob with many more hd but only Str 10. Of course the melee ability will suffer from a low key attribute there is nothing to alter here, rather ask why the heck the fighter did not use one of his many ASI to invest in STR.


4. in ad&d magic was much more powerful many save or s****k

5. 5e combat is so far the fastest of any edition. Lower the AC items you give out and mobs AC or HP if you still want it faster.

6. HP bloat is easy to be fixed. Note down your mobs as e.g. 4HD +16 HP 20-48. Do you see the range? It is necessary, to make single mobs survive against bigger PC Groups for a meaningful time.

7. see 6

8. AC is a tough limiter in 5e. It affects so many things, like, will you be able to apply your SS GWM feat or not.
Also the revers is true, aka if you hand out items, which allow for a span to wide within your pc group, then you are in for crunchy encounter building.
 

@dave2008 , @Undrave

First, this is a + thread, so please only contribute if you have something to, you know, actually contribute. I appreciate everyone who honors that and thank you.

This is a BIG departure for the 5E core design framework in some ways, and I am okay with that. There is a lot in 5E I think is great so I want to keep playing it, but I want to see if it is possible to tailor it to fit my design goals. I'll continue to expand and update the OP as things get added and revised.

So, here we go. I will begin by focusing on two major areas: proficiency and combat/hit points. Now, I already have ideas on how to implement the changes I am looking for and these are presented as well, but I am open to other ideas. Please note the following:
  • Sources of advantage and disadvantage stack.
  • When I write "advantage" or "disadvantage" in quotes, I don't mean you actually have advantage or disadvantage, but I mean the mechanic is applied. This is an important distinction because disadvantage would prevent sneak attacks, but "disadvantage" (in quotes) does not.

Example. A +6 vs. a +0 in a contested roll will loose 22.75% of the time. +6 represents maximum proficiency and is only at tier 4 (17th+ level!), but will lose nearly 1 in 4 times?
Issue. This bugs me because you need 225,000 XP for tier 4, which is a lot of adventuring, trials, success, and failure, but you are not significantly better than someone with no experience whatsoever.
Change. You have "disadvantage" on any ability check you make when you do not apply proficiency. Expertise grants "advantage" instead of double the proficiency bonus.

Example. An INT 18 NPC without Arcana proficiency is only 10% less likely to know about Arcana than an INT 10 PC with Arcana at level 17+.
Issue. While ability scores should help certainly, they should not come close to matching what thousands of XP of adventuring can teach a PC.
Change. Proficiency progression is increased to a max of +8 following this pattern: +2,2,3,3,3,4,4,4,5,5,5,6,6,6,7,7,7,8,8,8 and ability scores cap at 18 with maximum +4. This yields a maximum bonus of +12

Example. A STR 12 level 20 fighter who uses a longsword will max out at +7 compared to the STR 20 level 1 fighter who is also +7.
Issue: A 20th-level fighter's skill should far surpass the max STR bonus of +5, but it doesn't so people are not likely to play sub-optimal builds.
Change. See Item #2. In this example, the level 20 fighter would become +9, while the STR 18 (max) level 1 fighter would be +6. Not perfect, but it helps.

Example. A character without proficiency is just as likely to fail a DC 12 save at level 1 as at level 20.
Example. A character without stealth proficiency is just as likely to fail against a passive perception 10 at level 1 as at level 20.
Example. A character without proficiency has ridden a horse for thousands of XP worth of adventures as they leveled, but are no better at it then they were when they first got on it.
Issue.This ignores that such characters will have to test those saves, skills, etc. during their adventures but never get any better at them. Saves will be tested, non-stealthy characters will still have times when they need to make Dexterity (Stealth) checks, and so on.
Change. At each tier, the PC gains proficiency in a skill, language, tool, etc. along with a ASI +1 OR proficiency in a saving throw. So, you won't improve in everything but at least you get something.

Example. A 5th-level fighter with STR mod +6 will hit an AC 14 on a 8 or higher (65%). With two attacks, he will hit with at least one attack 7 out of 8 times (87.75%) and both attacks 42.25%. It becomes more of a pleasant shock when you miss something!
Issue. This leads to boredom because success is more common than failure and is less exciting.
Change. All attack rolls are made with "disadvantage" (i.e. you are always Dodging). This makes it so you only hit half as often. (I'll address saves against spell damage later, but basically all saves are made with "advantage.") This change means the number of rounds of combat is about the same, but combat goes faster because you are rolling for damage and tracking it only half as much.

Issue. This makes combat longer because damage is rolled more often and DM (and players) must track each hit taken. When players are rolling several dice due to sneak attacks, smites, fireballs, etc. the time spent can add up and slows down the game.
Change. NPCs/Monsters have half (or choose minimum) HP. So, not you are hitting half as much, but it counts twice as much when you hit.
Change. PCs get HP equal to their CON score at level 1. If their CON increases, so does their HP. After level 1, they only get HD.

EDIT: Changed 1st-level HP to CON given suggestions and running the numbers. It works well, especially if I have critical hits explode on damage dice.

Example. We have a raging (+3), STR 18 (+4) 11th-level barbarian with dueling style (+2) and +1 longsword (avg 5), averages 14 dmg per hit, which is not enough to kill a single orc, yet in movies you see the heroes dropping orcs left and right with a single attack.
Example. Sleep now affects 5d8 (max 40) hp, not sufficient to stop a single Ogre, and will put one or (maybe) two orcs to sleep (can't affect 3).
Issue. Characters need to spend multiple attacks/spells to defeat creatures that in prior editions could be easily defeated.
Change. Half HP means these hits will now down foes when they actually hit. Spells like sleep can now affect creatures like an Ogre again.

Example. Again, a tier 4 cleric is just as easy "to hit" as he was at tier 1.
Issue. Your ability to avoid damage is reflected in the hit point bloat instead of actually making you harder "to hit".
Change. Nothing here yet. Have some thoughts but I don't know if I like them on this topic.

That's it for now. I'll revise items if anything is unclear. And thanks again for contributing (and thank you as well for not if you don't care to offer anything :) ).
So I guess my number one question is "are you fundamentally opposed to recalibrating 5E to use a 2d10 or 3d6 based central mechanic instead of a d20-based one?".

It's very hard to solve several of your items without making rolls virtually a forgone conclusion because the bonuses are so extremely large without changing away from a d20 and it's flat distribution. It sounds like you've sorta considered this but the approaches you took are hard to understand. Rolling dice with a penalty is going to be unfun for a lot of people, and complicates matters because there's no WYSWYG and you always get less than you rolled. Why not consider actual 3d6 or 2d10, and recalibrate things slightly?

I've looked into it already (along with 4d6-4) and it actually creates too much difference, making things wonky as bonuses get larger, plus the time (albeit quick) it takes to add the dice instead of compare them.
Can you explain what you mean by "wonky"? Because I can't see it. Rolling 2d20 every attack roll and taking the lowest is also a lot slower than rolling 1d20, so I'm confused as to why it's fine there.

5/6/7 should maybe be one larger item because none of the changes makes sense without the others. #5 will make combat take far longer without 6/7. With 6/7 I still think people will find combat takes about the same time, only it's mostly people missing. Is that going to lead to more fun?

Your criticism re: success being boring will also apply to skills if you use the very large proficiency bonuses you are proposing. Hence my question re: dice.
 

ART!

Adventurer
#1
I'm not a fan of penalizing characters/players, especially when they already aren't great at something, but I think overall the positive effects of this might outweigh the negatives.

#4
I think every class should get something cool at every level, other than just more hit points. Since you're already minimizing the importance of HP, this seems like an especially good approach.

#5
Also not a fan of this, for the same as my response to #1. This feels like nerfing. Granted, I say this while comparing it to 5E as it is, so maybe if rolling 2d20 and taking the lowest was the default, maybe that would seem normal. It incentivizes only making attacks in ways you know you're good at, which...is less heroic, maybe? If anything, my experience with my group has been boredom from missing too often, not hitting too often.

I wonder if dropping the default disadvantage thing and just increasing the stacking of advantage would achieve what you're after?
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
1. Did you forget the contribution nof the attribute behind skills?

2. Int 18 could be translated into profound general knowledge, aka also a bit of arcana
The only thing which should be changed is minimum caster attribute / spell level imho, no illiterate Int 10 Wizards, I houserule normally: For level 5 wizard spell you need 15 intellect. Everything else is minmaxing and I personally do not like this style.

3. See 2. A fighter with str 12 but level 20 will attack more often, but he still only has +1 to damage. This is about the same as comparing a str20 ogre to a mob with many more hd but only Str 10. Of course the melee ability will suffer from a low key attribute there is nothing to alter here, rather ask why the heck the fighter did not use one of his many ASI to invest in STR.


4. in ad&d magic was much more powerful many save or s****k

5. 5e combat is so far the fastest of any edition. Lower the AC items you give out and mobs AC or HP if you still want it faster.

6. HP bloat is easy to be fixed. Note down your mobs as e.g. 4HD +16 HP 20-48. Do you see the range? It is necessary, to make single mobs survive against bigger PC Groups for a meaningful time.

7. see 6

8. AC is a tough limiter in 5e. It affects so many things, like, will you be able to apply your SS GWM feat or not.
Also the revers is true, aka if you hand out items, which allow for a span to wide within your pc group, then you are in for crunchy encounter building.
1. No, I didn't forget it, I just don't think it should be nearly as strong as max proficiency. Think of it this way, a character with INT 18 will have a very broad knowledge about a lot of things (+4 to every INT/knowledge check), but without proficiency has not "delved deeper" into any field and should not likely know about the things a PC with proficiency would (in that skill, that is).

Let's look at a simple example. Suppose Andy is INT 18, Bob is INT 10 but has proficiency in Arcana. With a DC 15 check, Andy (with "disadvantage") would have a 25% chance to make the check. Bob, with the +2 modifier for proficiency only, but a flat d20 roll, would have a 40% chance. So, Bob should be more likely to know about Arcana because he's gone deeper into it.

Now, Andy with INT 18 has that same 25% chance for any DC 15 check (without proficiency), but without proficiency Bob has only a 9% chance. So, High INT still counts for a lot because it applies to all INT checks, but proficiency is focused and make someone with lower INT better at that one thing. If you give Andy proficiency in Arcana, his chance soars to 60%, combining high INT and further study/training beyond what a base ability score might provide.

2. That reminds me of the old AD&D minimum INT to cast X level spells. Not a bad addition really so I might incorporate some variant as a house-rule, but I generally find casters seek to near-max or max primary spellcasting ability scores anyway so it might be unnecessary.

3. This is basically the same as #1 where IMO proficiency should trump ability scores. To your point, the fighter probably would invest something into ASI or feat-related ASI +1 for STR, but the point is more about the +6 RAW max prof bonus compared to the +5 RAW max ability bonus. Another way to look at it is in RAW proficiency increases only +4 during your entire adventuring career. That +4 bump is less than the +5 bump you get from maxing out your ability score. So, in other words, the WotC design team for 5E valued maximum ability higher than all 20 levels of experience of adventuring. Just don't see it that way.

With my suggestion of +2 to +8 (and I only stopped at +8 to try to keep numbers in line with RAW to prevent even more tweaking and house-rules), the bump is +6, compared to the ability cap at 18 of +4. The ability bump is still very strong, but now is less than what 20 levels of adventuring experience represents. That just makes more sense to me as IME knowledge/skill trumps ability. (I know in 5E technically ability subsumes some training as well as raw talent, but the idea is still there.)

4. Improving save chances is necessary when compared to reducing HP bloat and the changes made to attacks. Think of it this way: the defender (whether against an attack or spell) has the "advantage". In saves, this is simply giving "advantage" to the roll. In attacks, this is accomplished by imposing "disadvantage" on the attacker because AC is static.

5. YMMV but for me 5E is much slower combat than AD&D was. We can take hours to resolve combat in 5E. Part of this is due to the experience of the players and I get that, but a big part is also due to the high hit success rate and subsequent damage rolls and hp tracking. We even went to average damage, but we don't force that because a lot of players enjoy rolling. I've been thinking about enforcing average damage on hits, and only allowing rolls on criticals but I have to discuss that with our group tomorrow.

6. Yep, love the fact there is a range. We sometimes bump BBEGs and solos to make the battle harder. I realized I could also do the minimum of the range (simply adding the number of HD to the bonus, as if all 1's were rolled) but doing half HP gets me close most times and seems to work better.

8. Yeah, AC is the item I am most going back and forth on right now.

Thanks a bunch for your input! :)
 

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