D&D General My "Perfect D&D" Would Include...

My "Perfect D&D" Would include...

  • Alignment

    Votes: 41 39.0%
  • Species as Class

    Votes: 7 6.7%
  • Species Class and Level Limits

    Votes: 7 6.7%
  • "Kits"

    Votes: 17 16.2%
  • Prestige Classes

    Votes: 24 22.9%
  • Class Archetypes

    Votes: 51 48.6%
  • Open Multiclassing (ie not limited by species)

    Votes: 54 51.4%
  • Psionics (as a separate, distinct magic subsystem)

    Votes: 37 35.2%
  • Paragon Paths

    Votes: 20 19.0%
  • "Encounter Abilities" in some form

    Votes: 26 24.8%
  • Complex Martials

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • Advantage/Disadvantage

    Votes: 67 63.8%
  • Save or Die/Suck effects

    Votes: 29 27.6%
  • Level Drain

    Votes: 23 21.9%
  • Rulership/Leadership rules

    Votes: 48 45.7%
  • Warfare Rules

    Votes: 45 42.9%
  • Paths to immortality

    Votes: 21 20.0%
  • 20 levels or less

    Votes: 52 49.5%
  • 20 levels or more

    Votes: 21 20.0%
  • Epic Level Rules (distinct from pre-epic advancement)

    Votes: 24 22.9%
  • Narrow species choices

    Votes: 25 23.8%
  • Broad species choices

    Votes: 33 31.4%
  • Quadratic Wizards

    Votes: 8 7.6%
  • Grid based combat

    Votes: 54 51.4%
  • Theater of the mind based combat

    Votes: 57 54.3%
  • Skill Challenges

    Votes: 48 45.7%
  • Detailed Travel/Journey Rules

    Votes: 61 58.1%
  • Detailed Social Rules/Social "combat"

    Votes: 33 31.4%
  • Skills

    Votes: 90 85.7%
  • Feats

    Votes: 67 63.8%
  • Categorical Sving throws (AD&D)

    Votes: 9 8.6%
  • 3 Saves (Fort, Ref, Will)

    Votes: 40 38.1%
  • Ability based Saves

    Votes: 35 33.3%
  • Proficiency Bonus

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • XP from treasure

    Votes: 30 28.6%
  • XP from combat

    Votes: 36 34.3%
  • XP from story

    Votes: 64 61.0%
  • Player facing item creation rules

    Votes: 35 33.3%
  • Templates (for monsters)

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • Random treasure tables

    Votes: 53 50.5%
  • Something I forgot

    Votes: 33 31.4%

Mercurius

Legend
I don't see an option for: "Be very simple, with complex options that can easily be added or subtracted." You know, the mythical "complexity dial."

To me that's the holy grail of D&D. A game that you can play at varying levels of complexity, from at least "rules pretty lite" (e.g. Castles & Crusades or even lighter) to Pathfinder 1 levels of customization and complexity.
 

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I don't see an option for: "Be very simple, with complex options that can easily be added or subtracted." You know, the mythical "complexity dial."

To me that's the holy grail of D&D. A game that you can play at varying levels of complexity, from at least "rules pretty lite" (e.g. Castles & Crusades or even lighter) to Pathfinder 1 levels of customization and complexity.
Not trying to be difficult, but has any RPG, in your opinion, really actually managed to pull off a system like that without it being ghastly?

Because I've seen systems try it since literally the 1990s (FUZION, for example), and it's just been one car crash after another in my eyes. Not that it couldn't be done, in theory maybe it could be.
 

Reynard

Legend
Not trying to be difficult, but has any RPG, in your opinion, really actually managed to pull off a system like that without it being ghastly?

Because I've seen systems try it since literally the 1990s (FUZION, for example), and it's just been one car crash after another in my eyes. Not that it couldn't be done, in theory maybe it could be.
Get your Interlock out of my Hero system!
 

I think PF2 threaded the needle on that one myself. Of course, the simplicity comes in automation so maybe with an asterisk.
I think there's a double-asterisk myself because it not only requires automation to be that slick but also ties itself to a specific setting and is very much non-trivial to convert to another settings, because so much about race, culture and so on is hyperspecific to Golarion. And whilst it wasn't asked in the list, imho, if a game isn't generic enough to play multiple settings without the DM having to do a ton of work, maybe it's not quite D&D?

Which, er, unfortunately has made slightly sympathetic to the "4E isn't D&D" arguments despite my love for 4E, not that I agree fully, but the major changes to the implicit setting, which kind of mad a bit more of a pain to convert to other settings (and indeed caused the absolute foolishness that was the Spellplague and so on - really they should have glossed over it like 3E did and acted like it was always that way).
 

Reynard

Legend
I think there's a double-asterisk myself because it not only requires automation to be that slick but also ties itself to a specific setting and is very much non-trivial to convert to another settings, because so much about race, culture and so on is hyperspecific to Golarion. And whilst it wasn't asked in the list, imho, if a game isn't generic enough to play multiple settings without the DM having to do a ton of work, maybe it's not quite D&D?
What heritage mechanics do you feel are too setting specific to transfer easily?
 

Get your Interlock out of my Hero system!
Champions: New Millennium was basically the Hindenburg disaster for my gaming group.

In the sense that FUZION, like hydrogen was identified as the cause, and no-one was ever willing to even contemplate playing a FUZION-based RPG ever again. Also like the Hindenburg disaster it wasn't really hydrogen/FUZION's fault, it was the other parts of the airship being basically thermite, or in this case, the other parts of the airship being the very worst aspects of HERO.

It was so bad because we were so hyped. We loved Interlock. We'd play an absolute ton of Cyberpunk 2020. We wanted to play a superhero game that was a bit more crunchy than some but not at full-HERO levels. All the players spent hours coming up with great characters, really carefully calculating them out. Everyone had some kind of dreadful-but-cool-at-the-time sort of late '90s superhero. We had:

1) A guy with darkness powers who was "never going back to jail". That was the concept.

2) Some kind of flying devil guy, but like, for violent justice not evil!

3) A guy with a miniature alien fusion reactor inside him, which gave him energy blasts, super-strength, super-speed, and so on. Think like edgy '90s Superman. Of course he had extreme-sports style sunglasses, why do you ask?

4) I wanna say "Young Iron Man with attitude". This was the least memorable of the characters. All I remember is power armour and that they had a 'tude.

I had written up a "short" (as I repeatedly told them) adventure, which end with a rumble with like five villains (this seemed to be a fair fight and indeed it was). We just really wanted to see how it all worked, and expected it to take an hour or two tops. I'd done some adventures/scenarios with 1-2 players and seemed to work good.

We got to the rumble in about 20 minutes, seemed fine. I will spare you the details but well over 5 hours later, 3 minutes of combat (game time) had elapsed, and the fight was finally over.

It was universally agreed that we would never play that system again.
 
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What heritage mechanics do you feel are too setting specific to transfer easily?
It's not the mechanics so much, it's the descriptions and stuff leading to specific mechanics - I'd have to look to remind myself, but there were quite a few when I last checked a few months back. I've got PF2 on my tablet and will probably read it again in a few days though.
 





Steel_Wind

Legend
I feel like these two are at odds.
I also think that PF2 threads this needle quite well in terms of how it plays, too. So it can be done.

The difficulty arises in terms of character generation. PF2 is certainly more complicated than 5e (that's not exactly hard, is it?). It is nowhere near as complicated as it was with PF1.

But again, different tables will experience different aspects of this in terms of how they play. If they are using a system like Foundry VTT to both create their characters and play, things will be very much easier (and very different) than from somebody whose experience is wholly at the tabletop with pencil and paper in hand.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
A couple things not present in the list that I'd like to see are the return of touchAC & possibly iterative/multi-attack penalty.

TouchAC because it's too easy for players to reach AC values that are effectively immune to anything targeting AC

iterative/multi-attack penalty because monsters sit on too narrow of a razor's edge of being too lethal or utterly ineffective as a result while targeting monsters themselves are the same where either they are as defended wet tissue paper with(or without) buckets of hp or an unscalable wall that once again is divided by a razor's edge.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I feel like these two are at odds.
They can be, but it depends on how these aspects interact. People have mentioned Pathfinder 2 as threading this needle, but I would also add that Fantasy AGE, Cypher System, and Worlds Without Number work in a similar "3e options and 5e simplicity" design space, regardless of the respective strengths and weaknesses of each system.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Not trying to be difficult, but has any RPG, in your opinion, really actually managed to pull off a system like that without it being ghastly?

Because I've seen systems try it since literally the 1990s (FUZION, for example), and it's just been one car crash after another in my eyes. Not that it couldn't be done, in theory maybe it could be.
Well, I'm riffing off of the thread topic, which is a hypothetical "perfect D&D." So why not be idealistic?

But yeah, I haven't really seen a game like that, or at least one that offers both (there are great "D&D-esque" simpler games, and of course very complex ones).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My perfect version of D&D would probably steal mechanics heavily from 4E, 5E, and Worlds Without Number, as well as a few other systems, like key things it needs are:

1) Combat that at least can be TtoM without being wrecked.
2) Encounter-based design and balancing, rather than attrition-based design.
3) Heavier use of ritual magic.
4) Monsters that are defeated through knowing their weaknesses more (hopefully without just making them immune to everything).
5) No power gap between casters and others, and none of this "start weak become mega-OP" nonsense (which explicitly the design of OD&D, note)
6) Not species-as-class but stuff like vampire-as-class? Go for it. If it's a thing you can be transformed into, cool.
7) Multiclassing where you're actually both classes (probably 2 class max MC'ing, three classes was always shenanigans), you're not just taking a level in X. I think this would actually be easier to balance, long-term, as it entirely avoids "dips" and similar nonsense. Some classes could be basically MC only like Worlds Without Number.
8) Good rules/guidelines for improved stuff in combat. It's so profoundly odd that 4E, the most regimented D&D game in combat is the only one which had these. If you're ever forced to make more than one d20 roll to do something in combat, that action should be commensurately stronger if it works.
9) Feats more as a tool to customize your character than to just make them stronger.

Etc.
Your point #7 above is bang on. Couldn't have said it better.

For point #9, I'd rather just do away with feats altogether; but if they must be kept your idea is solid.

As for points 1-6 and 8? Let's just say I'm glad you're not in charge. :)

In particular I take issue with point #5 where it seems you want to do away with the zero-to-hero journey, which to me (and backed by the levelling progression in all editions) has always been the basic point of the whole exercise.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
I'd do this to D&D…

Roll 4d6 drop lowest for a 3-18 range to get the modifier at character creation. Use the modifier Only for the rest of the game.

I like systems where the players have to make relevant choices for their characters. This is something I’d like to see D&D fully embrace. And I believe that it can be done while still being easier for newbies to learn than current 5e.

Actions:

Remove bonus action, everything uses an Action, Free Action or Reaction. You can’t use more than one free action per round. Dual wielding – use your Reaction. Lots of stuff that were bonus action dependent they can now just do with ‘activating’ or if it is a physical extra action – they now need to spend their reaction for it.

I like the idea of universal ranges:
All weapon and spell distances to roughly 5 (melee), 10 (reach), 30 (move, throw), 60 Missile, etc…

Monster more like 4e stat blocks - no having to look up spells or abilities, it’s all in the stat block.

Ditch inspiration. Roll it into Hit Dice. Now the PC’s have to make risk / reward choices to get advantage on a roll now vs. having HD to heal later. One meta mechanic only please…

Ditch skills. Go with Barbarians of Lemuria style Backgrounds/Careers as Skills. 4-5 per PC.

Proficiency is now a type of skill specialization that give adv/disadv. It is now separate from Trained Abilities like: Weapon, Armor, and Language training.

BAB for Melee and Missile attacks makes a comeback.

An encumbrance system that matters – A simple, straightforward, slot-based system that has the PC’s make real choices on what they can actually carry. Bulk and weight of an item are factored into the ENC value now. These are reflected on the character sheets.

Saying “track encumbrance” and the player askes: “Ok, what is the best way to do that?” The response: “Here is a blank sheet of paper, you sort it…” Is the reason why Enc is complete handwavium for most D&D players. Treat them as the subsystems they are, and have the rule referenced on a player facing character sheet that lets them easily engage with the systems of the game.

Spell level and Character level are now synced. Ditch cantrips known – they are now extra spell slots. And a spell slot is a spell slot – no “level” spell slots. You spend spell slots to cast your spells: lvl 1 spell = 1 spell slot to cast. Lvl 3 spell = 3 spell slots to cast, etc… Yes. The entire spell lists would need to be reorganized and rethought from the ground up. But it would be far more straightforward for newbies.

Distinct types of spell lists: Mage (Trad Blast and cast), Drudic (Nature stuff), Sorcery (Summoning things), Miracles (Cleric powers). The classes primarily learn and focus on the spells of their class, but make an in-game way to learn a few spells from others.

A robust and straightforward downtime mechanic, with an easy reference sheet, i.e. blades n the dark. “Wasting time” healing up goes away. There are things like trained abilities, Crafting, and learning new spells that can only be done through downtime. Make engaging in down time actions very desirable for players to reference in play. No more handwavium.

Bring back the dungeon and wilderness exploration timings from B/X. Import a form of the journey rules from AiME for standard A to B non-exploration travel. Any class ability or spell that gives PC’s a “skip” button on these things is excommunicated from the rules! Did I mention straightforward reference sheets for the PC’s and GM’s?

Feats are gone. Subclasses are gone. Multiclass gone.

Class Abilities: IMHO one of the more iffy parts of the game. It adds complexity but you make no meaningful choices for character progression after 3rd level. Added complexity with less PC choices is not good design IMHO.

I think that this can be smoothed out without going to the total featapalooza direction that PF2 has gone in.

At level one you get around 3 Starting Class abilities. Roughly every three levels you get to choose an new General class ability from around 20 different options.

PCs will end up with 3ish starting + 7 General abilities on a 1-20 level spread. With this system player’s have actual choices when they level up. Yet they never get to be so many that you need a spreadsheet just to keep track. This also makes it possible for there to be several PC's of the same class in a party and still have them feel different in play. And yes, character abilities will need to be re-made from the ground up for each class.

Between new class abilities, Career/skill points, ASI, and new proficiencies - There are plenty of things to pass out over 20 levels for players to always get something as you level up.

In the wailing and gnashing of teeth category:

Now we are to the one adjustment I’d make that many D&D fans would have serious issues with…

Now that I have made HD the game meta mechanic – we can ease up on the built-in meta mechanic that is HP bloat.

The ‘sweet spot’ for most D&D games seems to be lvls 4-10. I’d simply tune for that sweet spot for 20 levels of play.

Stop all HP progression at lvl 6. All other level increases occur as normal. So the characters get more powerful, yet still retain a certain vulnerability to threats.

I’d also narrow the range of HD for the classes: d8, Casters and Bards, d10 Fighters, Rogues and Clerics, and d12 for Barabrians

This flattens the math making it things far more streamlined as the designers no longer have to deal with the scaling issues that HP inflation has always brought to the game.

These are the Cliff-Notes and I can expound on how they can work in play.

And of course, I would have some rules for the PC’s to create traps for the bigger and tougher monsters in the MM.
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
thoughts on the things i voted for (and some on the ones i specifically didn't vote for)
alignment
i think alignment is a great concept with a bad rep from misuse and misunderstanding, as well as being a quick and easy summary of your character's values and methods it's interesting for informing how npcs both divine and mortal might react differenly to you based on your respective alignments, i think there ought to be more mechanical systems that are affected by alignment so that your character action choices have an actual influence on more things (but not penalties for changing/going against your alignment, it's descriptive not prescriptive)
this means like herbalism kit or disguse kit right? EDIT: after reading tetrasodiums response on what kits actually are i still want these
prestige classes
more character build choices? definitely, also ties into the fact i didn't vote for multiclassing so this is my chosen method for getting cross-class abilites
class archetypes
giving classes a clear purpose in how they're meant to contribute is good for building them to be effective
psionics (that is not just magic)
people deserve choices
encounter abilities
the AEDU system was actually good you guys
complex martials
martials should be allowed to be cool without requiring magic
dis/advantage
simple, yet effective, however also, have stacking bonuses
20 levels or less
20 levels is enough
broad species choice
lots of species to choose from is good, but that doesn't mean you need to be using them all at the same time
grid based combat
i struggle to understand how combat would work without it considering basically everything has a range/area
skill challenges
depth in challenges is good
detailed travel/journey rules
assuming exploration rules are included in this too
they're good
more customisation options are always better
ability based saves
just my preference of the options
proficiency bonus
simple but effective
XP from treasure/combat/story
variety is the spice of life
player facing item creation
see feats
templates for monsters
see feats again, this time because it you get to face the same monsters with different flavour
random loot tables
unexpected items can be interesting
fixed/default species modifiers
a generic floating +2, +1, is flavourless and bland, i'd rather have the mechanics support the fiction/lore, i know they're not the only contributor but i think they still matter as a contributor, you can already play any species/class combination floating modifiers doesn't 'unlock' any options for you unless you care more about optimisation over narrative
species as secondary class/species exclusive feats and ability progression
species is a sorely underwhelming contributor to building your character, it deserves to be more impactful

Things i do not want:
open multiclassing
honestly i think multiclassing is overly complicated and too prone to being exploited by powergamers
quadratic wizards
just no, get back in line you jumped up nerd, i honestly think they should be a utility/support class with minimal offensive magics, we have enough offensive magic classes.
 
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