D&D 5E No ascending bonuses: A mathematical framework for 5e


Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Interesting enough, your suggestion is pretty much the inverse of 1e/2e's action. The ability to hit increases, damage remains largely static. You'd turn that on its head.

One justification for improving bonuses to hit (or achieve success) is that, without them, you never get better at the static challenges. You never get better at hitting the target on the archery range no matter how experienced you are. I really thing players will reject a game in which they don't get better at stuff like that and increasing bonuses are among the easiest ways to handle that.
I may be persuaded that some rates of improvement are too fast, but that's a different question, I think.

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I have been thinking something similar for a while. When you level up, your HP and damage would increase much more than your hit bonus.

This would let characters of different level work together: a level 5 guy and a level 15 guy could both attack a dragon: the level 5 guy's hit might not do a significant amount of damage, but at least he would be chipping in. In the current system, the level 5 guy is only hitting on a 20, and still doing insignificant damage. That's ineffectiveness double dipping.

Right, this is definitely a feature of the system.

+5 swords would still be overpowered in this system. This could be fixed by following the not uncommon suggestion of giving magical weapons only a damage bonus.

So, a legendary archer would be no more likely to hit his target?

See my response to Dausuul above. :)

Have a +1/5 levels inherent bonus that doesn't stack with magical enhancement bonuses. I think that could work here.


First Post
For 5e, lets get off the ascending bonus treadmill. If a monster and PC's attacks and defences are all relative, let's just get rid of it. So a level 1 PC still get your base ability mods, your bonus from armor and shield, and some feats (rarely). But take magic items out of expected advancement, no stat increases, and no 1/2 level bonus. Likewise, monster stats don't increase by +1 per level either. You still increase HPs and damage by level, just not all the other bonuses.

This accomplishes several things. First it brings a lot of old school style verisimilitude back to the game. A level 30 PC is tougher than a level 1 PC because it will have more options, more HP, and does more damage per attack(s), but it won't have ridiculous attack bonuses or defenses. A group of town guards is still a threat because they may still be able to hit them with more than a natural 20. You are a hero, an epic one in fact, but still mortal.

Treating attack and defense bonuses as "all relative" is arguable the exact opposite of "old school style verisimitude".

Further, if we do advance attack and defense bonuses but do not advance hit points at all, we end up with something much closer to old-school lethality.

If we do the math, if a master swordsman who always hits and always kills one guard per turn and in return is only hit (and killed) on a natural 20, he has less than a 50-50 chance of surviving against five guards.
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the Jester

This is VERY similar to my preference (which I've implemented in my homebrew system), but goes even further- and I like it a lot.

I do think it's good for (f'rinstance) fighters to periodically get a bonus to melee attack; so the same fighter at 1st level is +5 to hit, but at 10th level he's up to +7 (gains +1 every five levels or something).


First Post
I like the +X of a magical weapon to be the skill needed to wield it as magical. A +1 Longsword is magical in the hands of someone with +1 skill. A +5 Vorpal Sword beheads people in the hands of someone with +5 skill.


Great Old One
The OP almost exactly describes the math in my 4e clone. But after testing and contemplating, I decided not to go with a flat progression. For two reasons:

1. Static challenges. 20 levels later you want to feel that jumping across that narrow stream is no longer a problem. Or hitting the archery target.

2. Attacks that mainly does something else than damage. What good are your 100 hp if the spell from the first level kobold witchdoctor weakens you instead?

Therefore I went with a 1/2 level progression for both PCs and monsters. There is still no dependency on magic items, so a +1 weapon is always a nice find and a +2 weapon is almost legendary.


First Post
It's a very intriguing idea and it could work, and work well. My only problem with it as game design is purely asthetic, in that I like seeing that bonus go up so I "feel" like I'm getting better with my sword - I'm so used to pretty much every game I've every played doing it that way that. I would readily give this way a try, though.

The reason why I think this isn't in the cards for 5e, however, has already been mentioned. This is the edition that is supposed to evoke every version of D&D and D&D has always had ascending bonuses. WotC has already tried a game where it slew sacred cows and there were many players who looked at all that wonderful, juicy steak and asked for milk.

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