D&D 5E Simple Rules for Aging (+)

Laurefindel

Legend
My colleagues and I were discussing the other day how "we're not 20 years old anymore", pointing how it takes us longer to recuperate. We do have a lot more experience however and are better equipped to go through all sorts of difficulties where younglings struggle. This made me think of how D&D could represent age and experience. This houserule - if it ever comes to that - will unlikely ever be used so don't fret, but for the sake of the exercise, please indulge with me.

This is a "plus" thread so please contribute constructively. If you don't thinks it's a good idea, say something along the line of "I don't think this is a good idea because X, but if I were to do it, I would do..."


This houserule would be meant for character creation as soon as level 1, so experience-as-class-levels shouldn't be a factor. I don't want to deal with +2,-2 to physical and mental stats either; age shouldn't be a way to min-max and should benefit all character classes more or less equally. So starting with the statement of "With Youth Comes Vigour, With Age Comes Wisdom", here are some things that could come into play.

Youth could have a faster way of eliminating exhaustion level or recuperate HD on long rest.
Age could have an easier way of dealing with moderate challenge, like the ability to ignore disadvantage on certain rolls, or gain advantage on certain saves.
Youth could gain more on a short rest.
Age could be able to better conserve resources.

I'm thinking of four age categories because, hum, dragons? Child, Young, Adult, Ancient. Or maybe just "old" instead of "ancient". I'd also leave age categories relatively open, especially the adult category that should act as default with no changes by Raw. I'm cool with "my 60 y/o character is young at heart. I'm using adult", or "I'm 17 but rather grounded. I'm using adult".

Ideas?

'findel
 

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payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I like the CONCEPT that 3e was going for 'you get wiser as you get older, but your body breaks down' but the Order of the stick showed the issue when getting old makes your eyes sharper (+3 to wis is +1 or +2 perception)
That's assuming that perception only applies to eye sight. It could also be experience in spotting things out of the ordinary and quickly recognizing the situation for what it is mentally. 3E tried to do this by sight, sound, smell?, etc... Was just a level too high of granularity for me. So, I am comfortable with things like perception not being so decidedly one note.
 

Bacon Bits

Legend
I'm not entirely convinced that stat modifications are really the best way to represent aging. I wonder if it might make more sense for older character to do something mechanically similar to choosing additional backgrounds to represent their additional experience. Or, perhaps, choosing skills to gain expertise in. That's really what has happened. You've had time to burn through a lot of downtime activities.

I'm not sure how best to represent the effects on the body of aging, or from just being out of shape and out of practice. Flat penalties are simple, but they don't seem like the most accurate solution. I would almost go for something like atrophied class abilities. In fantasy stories, we often see things like old fighters who are still very deadly, but they can't do everything they used to. Or old wizards who can cast many spells, but no longer have a grasp on their most potent spells. Maybe you keep your proficiency bonus and your hit dice, but everything else starts to fade after decades of disuse. You're still a 13th level Fighter, but you've only got the class abilities through level 5.

At the venerable stage where you're so old that you need dedicated care, I kind of feel like that would best be represented with steadily progressing permanent exhaustion.
 

Ixal

Hero
I don't see why aging should give any stat bonus. Just because someone is old doesn't mean he is more wise. I think everyone knows of examples of someone who did not get more wise with age.
Any accummlated knowledge is represented by level and not flat age bonus.

So aging should only give penalties.
I like the Traveller approach. Once you hit a certain age tresholds you have to roll endurance or get penalties to your physical scores.
 

This is interesting. I was going to start a thread about this. I've noticed, not just in 5e, although 5e really makes a point of making people 'die when it's their time'.

If you look at all the powers from various classes that stop ageing, it indicates that you cannot live beyond your 'natural' lifespan. I find this very odd. Especially in a game where elves live for 800 year, who cares if your human monk lives for 1000 years? Most campaigns don't go past a decade (some do) and some zip forward in time between groups but I don't understand the fixation on making sure humans don't live longer than 100 years or goblins live 60 or whatever.

Make a 1st level, 700 year old human that was cursed with immortality. It won't break the game. A 15tth level monk ability really shouldn't have these kinds weird caveats.

Anyways, to the OP:
If I make an 80 year old 1st level character, the stats I choose kind of represent that. I used to use the 3.5 ageing rules. They were neat but they lead to some min/maxing (I want to play a 70 year old wizard to get higher INT!)

It would be interesting to, instead of stat penalties, you made exhaustion trigger more easily. Maybe you have to do a forced march after 7 hours instead of 8. Maybe you get disadvantage on con saves when doing strenuous, long term activities.

I always feel like, if age is a major factor for your character background, you should build it in as a flaw or bond or something. This gives the DM the option to give you proficiency when it's applicable: Giving proficiency on a history check because you were alive when event 'x' happened. Or giving disadvantage (and maybe an inspiration) for certain activities.
 


Osgood

Hero
Ever since one of our characters picked up 30 extra years after an encounter with a ghost I've been thinking 5E needed some sort of good aging rules. I like the idea of incorporating greater susceptibility to exhaustion or similar effects.

What about something like this. For every increment of aging past a certain threshold (say every 5 or 10 years starting at 40 for a human and similar races) a character selects or rolls for a limitation from a set list. Examples could include the following:
  • Tire Easily (disadvantage on saves to resist exhaustion)
  • Poor Sleeper (it takes twice as long to recover a level of exhaustion)
  • Forgetful (disadvantage on Intelligence checks to recall lore)
  • Arthritic (disadvantage on Dexterity check involving fine motor skill)
  • Hard of Hearing (disadvantage on Perception check that rely on hearing)
  • Near-Sighted (disadvantage on Perception check that rely on vision past 30 ft.)
  • Bad Knees (reduce speed by 5 feet)
  • Slow Recovery (reduce the number of hit points regained from each hit die spent by -1)
Perhaps it could be offset a bit by granting Inspiration whenever the player rolepays their limitations especially well.
 

  • Tire Easily (disadvantage on saves to resist exhaustion)
  • Poor Sleeper (it takes twice as long to recover a level of exhaustion)
  • Forgetful (disadvantage on Intelligence checks to recall lore)
  • Arthritic (disadvantage on Dexterity check involving fine motor skill)
  • Hard of Hearing (disadvantage on Perception check that rely on hearing)
  • Near-Sighted (disadvantage on Perception check that rely on vision past 30 ft.)
  • Bad Knees (reduce speed by 5 feet)
  • Slow Recovery (reduce the number of hit points regained from each hit die spent by -1)
EXCUSE ME...but who told you that you could base all of this off lesser versions of my issues?
 

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