# D&D 5ENo ascending bonuses: A mathematical framework for 5e

The problem here is you're making assumptions based off of 4e, and we're talking about various other options here KD. Forget about what 4e does, it is irrelevant.

No, it's the only similar mathematical model that we can look at to form a baseline. If you look closer, you'll see that although I based my (rather primitive) examples above on a similar system which is not 4E. But without a detailed mathematical model, we can talk about this until we are blue in the face and assumptions about how it works are merely that, assumptions.

The point of a 'fate point' or whatever exactly you want to call it was to give higher level PCs a better curve in your "few hit points" concept, nothing else mechanically. It works because

It might work, but who's to say that it is even needed? Again, you are making assumptions here about how a different system will work. I'm not convinced it will work they way you are assuming and I'm not convinced that any sort of correction (fate points, or anything else) is even needed.

So, if you have something concrete to back up a position that something else is needed, please post it. Don't just assume that something is needed because as we have seen repeatedly with game systems, the proof is in the pudding, not in the recipe.

There used to be a guy here on the boards that would do statistical analysis on these types of things. I forget his name, but it began with an E. That's the guy we need looking at this.

#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
No, it's the only similar mathematical model that we can look at to form a baseline. If you look closer, you'll see that although I based my (rather primitive) examples above on a similar system which is not 4E. But without a detailed mathematical model, we can talk about this until we are blue in the face and assumptions about how it works are merely that, assumptions.

It might work, but who's to say that it is even needed? Again, you are making assumptions here about how a different system will work. I'm not convinced it will work they way you are assuming and I'm not convinced that any sort of correction (fate points, or anything else) is even needed.

So, if you have something concrete to back up a position that something else is needed, please post it. Don't just assume that something is needed because as we have seen repeatedly with game systems, the proof is in the pudding, not in the recipe.

There used to be a guy here on the boards that would do statistical analysis on these types of things. I forget his name, but it began with an E. That's the guy we need looking at this.

What I'm saying is that arguing that because 4e PCs wouldn't need this that it is not a good idea isn't really a useful argument because, as you have noted yourself, we don't know anything much at all about the other mechanics of such a game.

Of course I don't KNOW what might or might not absolutely be needed in a game that doesn't exist, but given JUST the mechanics we've looked at it seemed like a pretty fair guess that the fate point concept would solve certain problems. Are there other ways to do that? No doubt there are many possible approaches. I wasn't disparaging any of them by talking about one possibility.

I think theorycrafting is OK, but it isn't really a very good way to design a system IMHO. Having built a few different game systems of different types what I've seen is that this kind of analysis is pretty useful for telling you what to change when you have a problem, but the core design is best done from a standpoint of how it will feel and tested for that in play. Then you can say "Hmmmm, this is OK, but lets try adding this other thing and see if it pumps it up a bit".

In any case, it has been an interesting discussion overall. I think basically its gone about as far as it can without someone drawing up a basic system to test. I doubt I'm going to do that real soon, and I doubt 5e will change the core math a lot for various reasons, so it will probably have to wait for another day.

Of course I don't KNOW what might or might not absolutely be needed in a game that doesn't exist, but given JUST the mechanics we've looked at it seemed like a pretty fair guess that the fate point concept would solve certain problems.

What problems? How do you deduce that these problems will exist at all? The little bit that I've examined seems to indicate that the game system won't be that significantly different than 4E with the major exception that the numbers will be smaller and easier to manage. Granted, at really low level, if D8+4 is still used, it has the potential to be 12 and hence, a higher percentage of hit points, but I'm not seeing where this is necessarily game breaking.

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#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
What problems? How do you deduce that these problems will exist at all? The little bit that I've examined seems to indicate that the game system won't be that significantly different than 4E with the major exception that the numbers will be smaller and easier to manage. Granted, at really low level, if D8+4 is still used, it has the potential to be 12 and hence, a higher percentage of hit points, but I'm not seeing where this is necessarily game breaking.

Well, we know NOTHING about what the numbers will be in the actual 5e engine. There are 2 proposals in this thread. Either one of which might well use such a system profitably. That's all I was talking about.

What problems? How do you deduce that these problems will exist at all? The little bit that I've examined seems to indicate that the game system won't be that significantly different than 4E with the major exception that the numbers will be smaller and easier to manage. Granted, at really low level, if D8+4 is still used, it has the potential to be 12 and hence, a higher percentage of hit points, but I'm not seeing where this is necessarily game breaking.

Where have you heard that? So far, I don't think we know anything about how 5e will handle hitpoints. The L&L columns have hinted about skills and ability scores but thats about it.

Honestly, I don't see how 5e damage and HP can be less than the 4e model, without going back to super fragile level 1 PCs that existed in prior editions. For an edition thats supposed to be unifying, I would have a hard time going back to the death by housecat paradigm.

Even if I lowball my assumptions and say a level 1 orc foot soldier does 1d8 damage with no bonus, and I assume a PC can take say 4-5 of those hits before dropping, then starting HP has to avg. around HP 20-25 at level 1.

There is just no way around it. Giving monsters flat damage instead of rolling damage dice, or introducing some sort of fate point plot protection mechanic just doesn't feel like D&D to me.

So once you have established that HP/damage baseline, you can only go up. If you assume that your game's damage system will involve multiple damage dice, like say 10d6 fireballs eventually becoming a reality, then HP has to scale with it.

If people have this dream of going to some 1e style damage system where even adult dragons only had like 50 HP, I just don't see that as a realistic expectation at all.

While 5e may try to capture some of the feel of 1e/2e, I would be stunned if its mechanics weren't firmly rooted in the mathematical foundation laid down in 3e and refined in 4e. And that means by say level 10, PCs and monsters should have around 75-100+ HP and be doing 20-25+ damage a hit or more.

Honestly, I don't see how 5e damage and HP can be less than the 4e model, without going back to super fragile level 1 PCs that existed in prior editions. For an edition thats supposed to be unifying, I would have a hard time going back to the death by housecat paradigm.

Even if I lowball my assumptions and say a level 1 orc foot soldier does 1d8 damage with no bonus, and I assume a PC can take say 4-5 of those hits before dropping, then starting HP has to avg. around HP 20-25 at level 1.

Your assumptions are way off. Even in 4E, first level monster damage is 9 vs. PCs with 20 to 30 hit points.

That's typically 2 to 3 hits to take a PC out, not 4 to 5.

The way 4E handles that though is that monsters need a 9 to 15 to hit (defense depending) or maybe a 12 average (+5 vs. AC 17), so it takes 4 attacks on average to take out the 20 hit point AC 14 PC, 6 attacks to take out the 25 hit point AC 17 PC, and 9 attacks to take out the 30 hit point AC 20 PC.

So if 2 or 3 (usually 3) successful hits at first level works for 4E, why wouldn't it work for 5E?

Granted, the original core game had about a 6 point first level monster damage average, but that was changed because it was ridiculously easy and it became worse as more options became available in the splat books.

#### OpsKT

##### First Post
Another problem I have is that of momentum. Once feats came out, they were probably never going to disappear. Feats probably aren't mechanically that good of a solution to whatever problem they were intended to fix (presumably the ability to make unique PCs), but now that we've had them for almost 12 years, they're here to stay.

Castles & Crusades got rid of feats and skills and works pretty good.

#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
Your assumptions are way off. Even in 4E, first level monster damage is 9 vs. PCs with 20 to 30 hit points.

That's typically 2 to 3 hits to take a PC out, not 4 to 5.

The way 4E handles that though is that monsters need a 9 to 15 to hit (defense depending) or maybe a 12 average (+5 vs. AC 17), so it takes 4 attacks on average to take out the 20 hit point AC 14 PC, 6 attacks to take out the 25 hit point AC 17 PC, and 9 attacks to take out the 30 hit point AC 20 PC.

So if 2 or 3 (usually 3) successful hits at first level works for 4E, why wouldn't it work for 5E?

Granted, the original core game had about a 6 point first level monster damage average, but that was changed because it was ridiculously easy and it became worse as more options became available in the splat books.

Yeah, this is true. Of course GENERALLY you'll have more than just at-wills coming in (especially early on), and some will bypass AC. So it is a bit variable in reality. A nice at-level brute can reasonably flatten some PCs in 3 rounds, and I think that was about what they planned on, that if you started to get bounced around hard you'd be in trouble after a round, maybe get hit with a heal, then be on the edge again with a couple more swings, and then generally the tide turns and you're down to the 'takes 5 or 6 attacks' sort of at-wills again.

I think DB is right though, it is HIGHLY likely the game will be built out from basic 4e type mechanics. Numbers may be tweaked down some, but I think we won't see the level of 'glass characters' that you had in AD&D and before. Maybe the average PC will take 2 hits to knock down vs 3 and the fighter 4 vs 5 or 6. Individual monsters will probably be a bit lower hit points as well, but I think we'll still see 1st level hit points in the 10-20 point range for monsters.

#### Hassassin

##### First Post
Honestly, I don't see how 5e damage and HP can be less than the 4e model, without going back to super fragile level 1 PCs that existed in prior editions. For an edition thats supposed to be unifying, I would have a hard time going back to the death by housecat paradigm.

Just halve all damage and hp numbers of both PCs and monsters in 4e. You've got a system with lower damage and hp, but no more fragility.

#### Lordhawkins9

##### First Post
One of my biggest problems with 4E was the notion that 1st level characters had 30 hitpoints. Then...to challenge them, Kobolds had 30 hitpoints. Local peasants...1 hitpoint (minions).

With those numbers, Kobolds weren't just a small problem to a village....they'd wipe it out!

I'd prefer a system that starts 1st level characters at a more reasonable pace than 4E's peasant to God progression just by chosing to become an adventurer.

Don't like the more fragile 1st level characters...don't start at first.

That doesn't mean we need to go back to 1E fragile though. If everything has starting HP equal to a die-roll + con score, most commoners are still going to break 10 HP...enough to live through a blow or two at d8 damage. Then we don't need 1st level characters with 30+ and Kobolds with 30+ HP. Without these beefy monsters, commoners can actually survive in a not-so-safe world that D&D is.

One of my biggest problems with 4E was the notion that 1st level characters had 30 hitpoints. Then...to challenge them, Kobolds had 30 hitpoints. Local peasants...1 hitpoint (minions).

With those numbers, Kobolds weren't just a small problem to a village....they'd wipe it out!

I'd prefer a system that starts 1st level characters at a more reasonable pace than 4E's peasant to God progression just by chosing to become an adventurer.

Don't like the more fragile 1st level characters...don't start at first.

That doesn't mean we need to go back to 1E fragile though. If everything has starting HP equal to a die-roll + con score, most commoners are still going to break 10 HP...enough to live through a blow or two at d8 damage. Then we don't need 1st level characters with 30+ and Kobolds with 30+ HP. Without these beefy monsters, commoners can actually survive in a not-so-safe world that D&D is.

I agree that 4e can be 'gamist' and the numbers are a little inflated, but you're really mis-characterising what these numbers are meant to represent in 4e. The numbers are less of a world building simulation than the mechanics of how the Players interact with their characters in 4e. Who say's the peasant is a minion? That's up to the DM. The rules in 4e are not designed to support interaction without the PCs present. There are also kobold minions as well. Basically, the numbers where just there to provide a way for the players, through their PCs, to interact with npcs through game mechanics in a (hopefully) fun and challenging way. If a bunch of kobolds meet a bunch of peasants, that's part of the backstory and whatever the DM thinks is good for the campaign/story can happen. This puts a little onus on the DM to be consistent about his campaign, but also allows a tremendous amount of freedom as well.

I'm not sure I want to go back to the "rules are the physics of the fantasy reality", and I'm not sure previous editions where ever wholly in that boat to begin with. Surely there is some middle ground?

#### Rechan

This seems relevant to a lot of what has been discussed:

• "Instead of the fighter getting a better and better attack bonus, he instead gets more options to do stuff as he goes up in level, and his attack bonus goes up at a very modest rate. I think it offers a better play experience that the orc/ogre can remain in the campaign, and people can know how the monster would work from a previous experience, but they remain a challenge for longer." - Monte Cook
• "The Monsters are in the design teams hands now and we'll be moving to development in the next few weeks. What I can say about this goal that Monte is talking about is that we're working to provide the DM with really good world building tools. And it's important to provide information about the orcs place in D&D while making sure that a Monster remains relevant as the characters level up. They're might be an orc shaman, an orc champion or whatever for higher levels, but we also want the basic orc to be relevant at higher levels. We want it to be really easy for the DM to open the Monster Manual and drop an orc or iconic monsters into the game." - Jeremy Crawford

#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
One of my biggest problems with 4E was the notion that 1st level characters had 30 hitpoints. Then...to challenge them, Kobolds had 30 hitpoints. Local peasants...1 hitpoint (minions).

With those numbers, Kobolds weren't just a small problem to a village....they'd wipe it out!

I'd prefer a system that starts 1st level characters at a more reasonable pace than 4E's peasant to God progression just by chosing to become an adventurer.

Don't like the more fragile 1st level characters...don't start at first.

That doesn't mean we need to go back to 1E fragile though. If everything has starting HP equal to a die-roll + con score, most commoners are still going to break 10 HP...enough to live through a blow or two at d8 damage. Then we don't need 1st level characters with 30+ and Kobolds with 30+ HP. Without these beefy monsters, commoners can actually survive in a not-so-safe world that D&D is.

I don't think the notion that commoners are all minions is really consistent with the 4e concept of NPCs. A given NPC/monster isn't any specific thing. It is whatever it needs to be in order to fit properly into the plot. Want commoners that hold off a bunch of kobolds? Then make them level 1 standard stat blocks. Want a bunch of commoners that get mown down by some foe (or the PCs for that matter) then you could make them minions. You probably won't go back and forth between the two concepts too abruptly (like from one encounter to another in the same adventure), but you certainly can use different models when appropriate.

So, yes, a 4e kobold is probably going to be at least very dangerous to commoners, but the game system is really pretty ambiguous about some kind of ranked hierarchy of power.

The good thing about higher hit point baseline level 1 is that it allows for some extra granularity in damage. The problem with pre-4e vintage starting hit points was the 'cat scratch problem', it was perfectly feasible for a PC to be weaker than a housepet (or at least in danger from one). That only happened because the floor for toughness was 1 hit point, which was well within the range of level 1 PCs. By moving the baseline up to 20-something hit points you can now represent minor threats in a sensible way, the housecat can do 1d4 damage or whatever.

That being said it will be OK if the baseline is say 12-15 hit points instead of 24-28. Personally I don't care much about the scale of numbers, but that still leaves 'trivial damage' at 1-2 hit points.

#### Connorsrpg

Given the discussion on Fighters at the DnDXP, it appears Dragonblade's initial idea (something the thread seems to have moved away from) is in the realms of possibility.

I for one like what I am hearing in this regard.

#### Nebulous

##### Legend
I think DB is right though, it is HIGHLY likely the game will be built out from basic 4e type mechanics. Numbers may be tweaked down some, but I think we won't see the level of 'glass characters' that you had in AD&D and before. Maybe the average PC will take 2 hits to knock down vs 3 and the fighter 4 vs 5 or 6. Individual monsters will probably be a bit lower hit points as well, but I think we'll still see 1st level hit points in the 10-20 point range for monsters.

I would like to see optional 0-level characters built into the rules for those players that DO want to start out as weak commoners clambering their way to the heights of 1st level heroism. Easy enough to incorporate and easy to skip for anyone who doesn't want it.

#### Hassassin

##### First Post
The good thing about higher hit point baseline level 1 is that it allows for some extra granularity in damage. The problem with pre-4e vintage starting hit points was the 'cat scratch problem', it was perfectly feasible for a PC to be weaker than a housepet (or at least in danger from one). That only happened because the floor for toughness was 1 hit point, which was well within the range of level 1 PCs. By moving the baseline up to 20-something hit points you can now represent minor threats in a sensible way, the housecat can do 1d4 damage or whatever.

The cat problem is much worse in 4e! A cat can scratch any minion to death, so the "cat lady" archetype is actually effective in combat.

Given the discussion on Fighters at the DnDXP, it appears Dragonblade's initial idea (something the thread seems to have moved away from) is in the realms of possibility.

I for one like what I am hearing in this regard.

Me too!

It doesn't sound like they will be quite as strict with ascending bonuses as what I originally proposed but if they can keep them under control, and present a unified progression across all classes, I think it provides a solid and balanced framework for 5e that is amazingly compatible with prior edition materials. I'd love to be able keep using all my prior edition books with 5e as more than just idea generators and fluff references.

I'd love to be able to run 5e PCs through old school 1e modules with perhaps a simple conversion chart like I suggested in my original post. Or turn around and add the miniature rules and perhaps some additional modules and then run those same PCs through a 4e adventure like Madness at Gardmore Abbey. Without knowing more, I don't know if that will be possible, but I can see it as a possibility and it excites me!

Likewise, if you can have a basic core orc that you could then apply simple templates to say turn them into a 4e style orc and make them a skirmisher or a brute, or conversely apply some class abilities and turn them into a 3e style orc, that would be amazing as well!

#### AbdulAlhazred

##### Legend
I would like to see optional 0-level characters built into the rules for those players that DO want to start out as weak commoners clambering their way to the heights of 1st level heroism. Easy enough to incorporate and easy to skip for anyone who doesn't want it.

Yeah, sure, nothing wrong with an option like that. I think if PCs at level 1 are reasonably survivable as a sort of baseline, then a '0 level PC' should be something you can slide in underneath that and enjoy running around with 2-10 hit points and almost no skills but your wits.

The cat problem is much worse in 4e! A cat can scratch any minion to death, so the "cat lady" archetype is actually effective in combat.

This is based on a mischaracterization of the minion mechanics (and 4e in general). NPCs vs other NPCs is not something the rules are intended to bother with. Since no PC is a minion it is irrelevant. If you want a cat lady with fierce cats that kill her neighbors then you just make up that story. Otherwise you don't. If the in-game reality is not matching your vision of what it should be then you're applying the rules in a counter-productive way for achieving your goals. That's a DM issue, not a system issue.

#### Crazy Jerome

##### First Post
Yeah, sure, nothing wrong with an option like that. I think if PCs at level 1 are reasonably survivable as a sort of baseline, then a '0 level PC' should be something you can slide in underneath that and enjoy running around with 2-10 hit points and almost no skills but your wits.

My main problem with that is that it feels so forced--and seldom works all that well, either. "Zero level" was really intended to be "brief introductory roleplaying before you become heroes." When people try to use it for "early adventuring as the characters gradually become heroes" it doesn't work nearly as well.

I'd rather there be built into the default enough option, powers, "starting bonus hit points", etc. that you can start at 1st level and not worry about cats or single kobolds. But not have this baked too tightly into the game math. That way, the gradual hero bit can be handled by -- "you don't get all those options".

A similar tweak can be used on the epic end. If you want to continue with that default, relatively smooth power curve, you can. If you want to really rachet it up at some particular point, the characters start getting "epic" options. That way, the sweet spot can be from 1st to max level, but if you want to make a much more pronounced power curve--and manage the resulting issues yourself, you can do that, too.

#### edhel

##### Explorer
This is pretty much how I have played my d20 for years now. Originally I planned this for our d20 Conan game which started to break down at higher levels like all d20 games but I've been using it in two d&d campaigns and one pathfinder campaign.

I also gave up the expected magic items and especially the ability boosting items. Most of the stuff PCs find are specialized (like bane swords, +2 vs spells rings or boots of speed) and don't give a general mathematical bonuses to rolls.

3e worked similarly but its math was much more ragged and uneven on the player side. On the monster side it scaled a little better with designers using "natural armor" as a sort of an arbitrary catch-all cheat to bring a monster's AC to its expected level.

I noticed monster ACs aren't really that arbitary even though the natural armor is served in a big clump. To me it seems that AC consists of
10 - size penalty + dex + natural armor (= ½*HD + bonus that off-sets size penalty + creature's "real" armor bonus). Taking the ½*HD to account and without any +n swords or ability boosting items the math works very similar to earlier editions where AC represented the creatures speed and the toughness of its hide.

I also noticed that earlier editions' way of handling ability boosting works very well with these rules. Gauntlets of Ogre Power won't give +2 Str anymore but Str 18. (or 16 or 20 or whatever you want it to give)
It's a great item to have but you can't buff your abilities over the normal human limits anymore thus breaking the math.

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