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D&D 5E "Mass Effect 3 esque" Ability System

Stalker0

Legend
With the talk of short rest vs long rest and the like, I had this idea for ability usage that is similar to the game Mass Effect 3. I'm just laying out the basic concept to show what people think, and if there is some interest I might try to flesh it out into an actual true system.

For those not familiar, when you use an ability in Mass Effect 3, it has a set cooldown. That cooldown effects all of your abilities, and once the cooldown is complete you can use any of your abilities. In other words, using a strong abilities makes it where all of your other abilities take longer to use again.

Translating that into Dnd esque terms, I thought of the following:

UPDATE: I have rewritten the text, as several people seemed confused by the language and I wanted to reduce tracking even further. So hopefully this new version will be cleaner. I also added in an action to auto recharge, for those people that just hate the thought of having many rounds with nothing to do.

Encounter Abilities
Certain class abilities have the tag (Encounter - dX). These are known as Encounter Abilities.

When you use an Encounter Ability you gain the Depleted condition. A depleted character cannot use ANY encounter abilities. The dX determines the recharge roll you make (see Regaining Encounter Abilities) below.

Regaining Encounter Abilities
A depleted character makes a recharge roll at the end of their turn (including on a turn they became depleted). On a 4 or higher, the character is no longer depleted. The recharge roll is determined by the last Encounter Ability that was used.

Example: Disarming Attack (Encounter - d8). A depleted character rolls a d8 at the end of each turn to recharge.

Dodge Action - The Dodge Action immediately removes the depleted condition.


Battle Master Fighter Example

Commander's Strike
(Encounter - d4).
Brace (Encounter - d6)
Disarming Attack (Encounter - d8).

On Turn 1 I use Commander's strike, and my character become depleted. At the end of the turn I roll a d4, and get a 4, so I am no longer depleted.

On Turn 2 I have access to any of my manuevers, and choose to use Disarming Strike. At the end of this turn, I roll a d8, but get a 3.

On Turn 3 I am depleted so cannot use any encounter abilities. At the end of the turn I roll a d8 again and get a 5, so no longer depleted.

On Turn 4 I can once again use any maneuver.

Sorcerer Example

Subtle Spell
(Encounter - d12)
Quicken Spell (Encounter - d4)

On Turn 1, the sorcerer uses Quicken Spell and becomes depleted. At the end of her turn she rolls a d4, and gets a 3, remaining depleted.

On Turn 2 she becomes under attack by some monsters and is feeling the heat. She decides to take the Dodge Action, and is no longer depleted. Still having her bonus action she uses Quicken Spell again, becoming depleted. At the end of the turn, she rolls a d4, and this time gets the 4. She will have her encounter abilities for the next turn.

On Turn 3 having been placed in an area of silence, she uses Subtle spell to allow her to cast. She is now depleted, and at the end of her turn she rolls a d12, getting a 6, and is no longer depleted.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So if you have a bunch of abilities all with different recharge dice, you roll them all every round to see which ones you can choose from this round?

The 4E recharge rolls were easy to forget. My worry is this is a lot of tracking and die rolls before your turn even starts. I feel like this would make turns much longer as people did their recharge phase to roll to see what actions they’re allowed to take before taking their actions.
 

payn

Hero
What about hot and cold rolling? Some folks will use cool abilities every round, and some may not get to use any.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So if you have a bunch of abilities all with different recharge dice, you roll them all every round to see which ones you can choose from this round?
No its actually much much simpler than that.

When you use an ability, all abilities tied to the same mechanic are "exhausted". Either you can use any ability, or none at all (and again for context I mean all abilities tied to this mechanic. A class may have abilities that are seperate from this ability pool).

Let me use another example.

So my battle master fighter has 3 manuevers:

  1. Commander's Strike (d4)
  2. Brace (d6)
  3. Disarm (d8)
At the start of combat, he uses Brace. ALL of his manuevers are expended, the fighter has a moment of "fatigue" and can't use his manuevers again. At the start of the next round, he rolls a d6. He gets the 4, and so he is refreshed. He has access to all three of his maneuvers again, and can choose any of them. This round he chooses disarm.

At the start of the next turn, he rolls a d8 this time, but is unlucky and gets a 3. He cannot use any maneuvers this round.

At the start of round 4, he rolls that d8 again, and succeeds. He once again could use any of his maneuvers.


So all you ever have to remember in the game tracking wise is which die to use....which is as simple as putting to the side the specific die when you use an ability and then roll it on your next turn.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
I like the general idea. I do wonder if changing the die size and keeping a static target number is better/worse/the same as keeping a single die size and changing the target number. I lean towards the latter so that you could do it all on a d20 and potentially allow for interactions with ability score modifiers, Jack of all trades, bless, remarkable athlete, adv/dis, etc. Then just set basic thresholds of 5, 10, 15, 20 or whatever makes sense.
 

My biggest problem with a system like that is... what do you do while waiting on your cool down? Auto-attack? That's doesn't seem especially fun to me.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think its a great idea. Spell slots would require a lot of work, but I think it may be worth it:

Warlock spell slots (d4) ->they auto-scale but you get less of them (harder to recover). Arcanum are recovered at the next dawn.

Spellcaster spell slots:
Character level1st level slot2nd level slot3rd lvl slot4th level slot
11d4---
21d4---
31d61d4--
41d61d4--
51d81d61d4-

etc
 
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Rabulias

Adventurer
I think its a great idea. Spell slots would require a lot of work, but I think it may be worth it:

Warlock spell slots (d10) ->they auto-scale but you get less of them (harder to recover). Arcanum are recovered at the next dawn.

Spellcaster spell slots:
Character level1st level slot2nd level slot3rd lvl slot4th level slot
11d8---
21d8---
31d61d8--
41d61d8--
51d41d61d8-

etc
Maybe I misunderstood the original premise, or maybe your point, but I think you got the d4s and the d8s mixed up in the chart above? Wouldn't recovering from casting a 3rd level spell be more difficult than recovering from casting a 1st level spell?
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Maybe I misunderstood the original premise, or maybe your point, but I think you got the d4s and the d8s mixed up in the chart above? Wouldn't recovering from casting a 3rd level spell be more difficult than recovering from casting a 1st level spell?
oups, yes indeed, I misread.
 

Horwath

Hero
Would rather have set recharge time for various abilities than to fiddle every round with 5 different dice.

So, you can have:
at-will or 1 round recharge.
2 round recharge
1 min recharge
1hr recharge
8hr recharge
 

Stalker0

Legend
I feel like this would make turns much longer as people did their recharge phase to roll to see what actions they’re allowed to take before taking their actions.
This is a good point, so maybe it would be better to just have them roll the die immediately at the end of their turn. That way they will already know if they have their juice next round, and then if they recharge they don't even have to track their die, so its even simplier.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Would rather have set recharge time for various abilities than to fiddle every round with 5 different dice.

So, you can have:
at-will or 1 round recharge.
2 round recharge
1 min recharge
1hr recharge
8hr recharge
A perfectly valid opinion, though I do think rolling a single die every round is much easier to track than maintaining tracking on every ability you use. But its the eternal balance between features and complexity.
 

dave2008

Legend
This is an interesting idea, but I am a little confused by when you roll a particular die. When do I roll a d4 vs a d6 vs a d8?
 

Stalker0

Legend
This is an interesting idea, but I am a little confused by when you roll a particular die. When do I roll a d4 vs a d6 vs a d8?
It depends on the ability used. So in the example I posted, if I used the Disarming Attack manuever, I would roll a d8. Hmm, since several people have gotten confused already, It looks like I need to rewrite the OP a bit to clarify. I also think I'm going to do it at the end of someone's turn to reduce tracking even further.
 

dave2008

Legend
It depends on the ability used. So in the example I posted, if I used the Disarming Attack manuever, I would roll a d8. Hmm, since several people have gotten confused already, It looks like I need to rewrite the OP a bit to clarify. I also think I'm going to do it at the end of someone's turn to reduce tracking even further.
So if I use Commander's Strike, I roll a d4 at the end of my turn. If I roll a 3, no maneuvers for my next turn. Then at the end of my next turn I roll a d4 again, and I keep rolling that d4 until I get a 4, correct?

If that is correct, that is what I guessed, but I didn't feel it was spelled out in the OP very clearly. Also, if that is correct, I like it. What I like is that it allows you to have attacks/actions/maneuvers of different power.

I could also so provide ways to increase your recharge roll (like would bless add 1d4 to the roll) or a feature gives you advantage on the recharge roll a number of times equal to your CON mod., etc.
 

dave2008

Legend
Would rather have set recharge time for various abilities than to fiddle every round with 5 different dice.

So, you can have:
at-will or 1 round recharge.
2 round recharge
1 min recharge
1hr recharge
8hr recharge
If I understand it correctly it is on die. You use Commander's Strike and then you must recharge all your maneuvers. Because you used CS, you need to roll a d4 to recharge and your maneuvers only recharge (all of them) when you roll a 4. You only switch recharge dice when you choose a different maneuver. So you once you roll a 4 and can use maneuvers again and this time you choose Disarm. Now you roll a d8 until your recharge again (also by rolling a 4). You are only ever dealing with on die at a time.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So if I use Commander's Strike, I roll a d4 at the end of my turn. If I roll a 3, no maneuvers for my next turn. Then at the end of my next turn I roll a d4 again, and I keep rolling that d4 until I get a 4, correct?

If that is correct, that is what I guessed, but I didn't feel it was spelled out in the OP very clearly. Also, if that is correct, I like it. What I like is that it allows you to have attacks/actions/maneuvers of different power.
You got it. I have updated the OP so hopefully its a lot clearer.
 

MarkB

Legend
I like the concept, but as has been mentioned, it is prone to someone having a string of bad dice rolls and not getting to use any cool abilities after their first round. I might have the required roll result tick down each round - so the first round you try to recover you need to roll a 4, but if you fail, the next round you only need to roll a 3, then a 2, and then on the following round you automatically re-prime your abilities.

EDIT: That would allow you to introduce really powerful abilities with an automatically delayed recovery rate, by giving them only a d3 recovery die. So you definitely won't recover the next round, but you might do so the following round.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I like the concept, but as has been mentioned, it is prone to someone having a string of bad dice rolls and not getting to use any cool abilities after their first round. I might have the required roll result tick down each round - so the first round you try to recover you need to roll a 4, but if you fail, the next round you only need to roll a 3, then a 2, and then on the following round you automatically re-prime your abilities.

EDIT: That would allow you to introduce really powerful abilities with an automatically delayed recovery rate, by giving them only a d3 recovery die. So you definitely won't recover the next round, but you might do so the following round.
Yep its a cool concept. I had something similar but not exactly what you describe, and the concept of allowing the d3 makes it even better. So I'll add that back in.

Like most things this system would not be for everyone, but lets look at how often you would normally get abilities.

If we look at the battlemaster, and lets assume d6 is the normal recharge die. Then lets assume two 3 round combats before a short rest.

This means on average I will have 2 maneuvers a fight, so 4 maneuvers total (which perfectly works with the 4 uses of the battle master normally). This version is swingier, sometimes you will have less maneuvers, sometimes you will have more, but its in the ballpark. Some tables might enjoy the swing and the reduction in tracking, others may like the standard which is more consistent.

If your group only have 1 combat per short rest, you probably prefer vanilla. If you average 3 combats before a rest, then this system would generally give you more.
 

Horwath

Hero
If I understand it correctly it is on die. You use Commander's Strike and then you must recharge all your maneuvers. Because you used CS, you need to roll a d4 to recharge and your maneuvers only recharge (all of them) when you roll a 4. You only switch recharge dice when you choose a different maneuver. So you once you roll a 4 and can use maneuvers again and this time you choose Disarm. Now you roll a d8 until your recharge again (also by rolling a 4). You are only ever dealing with on die at a time.
What if one maneuver has d4, second d6 and a third one d8, as in they are different in power so they cannot be used at the same frequency?
 

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