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Level Up (A5E) Summary: state of the rules and project?

CapnZapp

Legend
Hello.

I haven't kept up with the project, and I have a question:

At the time the project was started it was pitched as an "advanced 5th edition" (A5E) with more interesting* character building choices. Another idea that comes to mind when you hear about something pitched as an "advanced 5th edition" is more detailed rules** (here I have the three-action system of Pathfinder 2 in mind).
*) Read "complex" or "crunchy". Just more races or subclasses ain't it. *) I mean combat rules

I'm not particularly interested in tweaks of individual classes and races per se. I'm asking about generalities surrounding A5E's more complex charbuild on one hand, and its more detailed combat rules on the other. (If either of those ended up actually being included in the project of course). Call it an interest in the "core rules" rather than anything specific to any given race, class, background or somesuch. For instance, a general change "characters get a feat every two levels instead of every four" would be interesting. "The battlemaster fighter gets seven maneuvers instead of four" not so much.

Could you summarize the progress on this (or link to a summary) for those of us too lazy to trawl through playtests and forum debates; or at least a primer so we know where to look further? :cool:

If it's still too early and this info hasn't yet been decided on that'd be good to know as well. In fact, perhaps I could ask you if you think the project is 50% done? 10%? or what?

Much obliged, Zapp
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It's about 50% written and the first three chapters are in layout.

I guess the State of Level Up address from the end of December is the closest thing to what you're looking for.

 

CapnZapp

Legend
Thank you for that, but I still would like to know what, if any, actual specific rules changes were made to the combat engine. Also there's nothing on general changes to how classes are built. Does this mean the core of the game remains the same as 5E?

Let me just spitball three examples to show you what I'm guessing an "advanced" D&D game could do to "complexify" the experience of building a character. I'm thinking of things like more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful), more decision points (instead of a single choice of subclass, maybe one "block" of features given at the start of each tier of play). Finally replacing advantage with something less binary and more granular so buffing tactics is more than "you've got advantage so it's a done deal".

I'm not saying any one of these must necessarily be good ideas, just illustrations to explain what I'm asking about :)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
We haven’t released any combat rules playtests yet. I’ll let other people who’ve looked at the playtest packets answer the other questions (if they want!)
 

dave2008

Legend
Thank you for that, but I still would like to know what, if any, actual specific rules changes were made to the combat engine. Also there's nothing on general changes to how classes are built. Does this mean the core of the game remains the same as 5E?

Let me just spitball three examples to show you what I'm guessing an "advanced" D&D game could do to "complexify" the experience of building a character. I'm thinking of things like more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful), more decision points (instead of a single choice of subclass, maybe one "block" of features given at the start of each tier of play). Finally replacing advantage with something less binary and more granular so buffing tactics is more than "you've got advantage so it's a done deal".

I'm not saying any one of these must necessarily be good ideas, just illustrations to explain what I'm asking about :)
I don't know the current state of the classes, but the general idea was that their are more decision points when creating classes. I think that mostly comes through in class / subclass features, not feats.

The have previewed new exploration rules, skill system, and several classes, but not anything new with regard to combat or feats that I am aware of. The also previewed new monster entries and hinted at a new encounter builder.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Thank you for that, but I still would like to know what, if any, actual specific rules changes were made to the combat engine. Also there's nothing on general changes to how classes are built. Does this mean the core of the game remains the same as 5E?

Let me just spitball three examples to show you what I'm guessing an "advanced" D&D game could do to "complexify" the experience of building a character. I'm thinking of things like more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful), more decision points (instead of a single choice of subclass, maybe one "block" of features given at the start of each tier of play). Finally replacing advantage with something less binary and more granular so buffing tactics is more than "you've got advantage so it's a done deal".

I'm not saying any one of these must necessarily be good ideas, just illustrations to explain what I'm asking about :)
I;m just someguy on the internet with a recent extended glut of socially distanced free time so no special knowledge so take things with a rain of salt. From a lot of the maneuvers & such it sounds like movement & possibly specific action based AoOs will play a much bigger role than o5e, well known terminology like provoke is back in use but I'm not sure about threaten & not going back to check. While I'd love to see a more granular replacement for 5e's ultramega-sized must have feats, I regretfully haven't seen anything that gives me even a flicker of hope for that yet:cry:.. on the up side it would probably be easy to retcon into the current early state of classes as design moves along. In a way the knacks (druid excepting) are rather feat-like while most classes have one or more class specific things like sorcerer manifestations/rogue tricks/fighter steely mien/etc that to a lesser degree allow them small feat-like choices to specialize or broaden their toolkit in various ways similar to how feats in 3.5 could.

I'm not sure what the final result for advantage will be as they tried minor (disadvantage/advantage(in spoiler or pg7 f fighter doc) but reports from the survey were not positive about it & thinking back I remember forum discussion breaking down into camps of what quickly paraphrased from memory amounted to one camp of "advantage is dimple & elegant this breaks the beauty" and a second camp of "advantage is a blunt club where a fine precise tool is needed, this is better... but I was hoping for something more"
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There is a lot of new stuff hinted in the rogue doc involving traps & ways they can be used but some of it builds on choices made while leveling & references chapter12 (which we lack). Here's a little rogue proto-guide that touches on points at or at least connects some dots.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Okay and thanks. It appears it's still early days and that they've saved the hard crunch for the remaining 50%. I'll check back in six months or so. Again thanks!
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful)
Feats haven't been mentioend yet.
more decision points (instead of a single choice of subclass, maybe one "block" of features given at the start of each tier of play).
This is in. There's a choice of 3 things at each level.
Finally replacing advantage with something less binary and more granular so buffing tactics is more than "you've got advantage so it's a done deal".
They have expertise dice which appear to do a lot of the heavy lifting of advantage, with 3 levels of granularity (d4, d6, d8).
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
I'm thinking of things like more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful),
Thinking about it, I realize they have been mentioned. Just the half-feats aren't called feats. They're exploration knacks and maneuvers. All classes learn exploration knacks as they gain levels (faster than feats) and all the martial classes have a maneuver progress with ascending numbers f meneuvers and maximum maneuver degree (level). So yes, that's in there too. Just under a different name.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Thinking about it, I realize they have been mentioned. Just the half-feats aren't called feats. They're exploration knacks and maneuvers. All classes learn exploration knacks as they gain levels (faster than feats) and all the martial classes have a maneuver progress with ascending numbers f meneuvers and maximum maneuver degree (level). So yes, that's in there too. Just under a different name.
Cool. Are these detailed in a central place or spread out over every class?

(Unless details are still forthcoming)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Cool. Are these detailed in a central place or spread out over every class?

(Unless details are still forthcoming)
So far individual class pdfs. There are different groupings like adamant mountain mirrors glint and bloody mist (pretty sure those aren't right but on phone). Its not yet clear if the maneuvers are class specific or just not getting reprinted with the groupings akin to spell schools or something. Some classes say choose from x &y groups and others have things that let them choose from a class's maneuvers I think so maybe a bit of both
 


Faolyn

Hero
Thank you for that, but I still would like to know what, if any, actual specific rules changes were made to the combat engine. Also there's nothing on general changes to how classes are built.
Have you looked through the playtest packets yet?

Does this mean the core of the game remains the same as 5E?
It has to be backward-compatible. I like to think that, if LU gets a 2nd edition, it'll be a lot different.

Let me just spitball three examples to show you what I'm guessing an "advanced" D&D game could do to "complexify" the experience of building a character. I'm thinking of things like more gradual feats (to be able to add more decision points; if you get a feat every other level instead of every fourth they need to be roughly half as powerful), more decision points (instead of a single choice of subclass, maybe one "block" of features given at the start of each tier of play). Finally replacing advantage with something less binary and more granular so buffing tactics is more than "you've got advantage so it's a done deal".

going by the packets so far, most of the time when you get class abilities, you get to choose from two or three abilities. While advantage is still in LU--this does have to be backward-compatible, after all--the expertise die is more granular than it used to be.

That said, I feel it's good to have fewer, but more powerful, feats. There were far too many feats in 3x, with too much room for insane builds, as well as too much of a chance of a trap build. Avoiding feat bloat keeps that issue down.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Sure, but the point of the product isn't just "more of 5E".

At least I am not hugely interested in "more" - I'm interested in deeper. 5E already shovels out new subclasses and just more of everything.
But I'm interested in mechanics that add more decision points to existing character builds.

Just adding "more" does allow you to create more types of characters, but once you have selected your subclass, having more subclasses does nothing for your existing character.

But if L5E were to (for instance) modularize subclasses into the four tiers so you could start mix and match them, it would do wonders for the customizability of existing characters. That is (to continue this example) you could create a Barbarian character that picks the Totem Warrior subclass at tier 1 and 3, but the fighter subclass battlemaster at tier 2, and the druid subclass Circle of the Moon at tier 4.
Not saying this necessarily is a good idea. Just an illustration to explain my point.

To do this, each subclass (and each part of each subclass) would be standardized to all cover the exact same levels (1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20).

Other things I can easily envision from an "Advanced 5E" game include:
  • recalibrating class abilities - at mid to high level the core abilities are just weak. (I remember looking at the Ranger and concluded it got nothing the game couldn't hand out no later than level 12. Yep, every single last of the Ranger level 13-20 class abilities would make sense to gain no later than level 12)
  • recalibrating existing spells. Somewhat simplistically speaking, grab three class guides for each class at random. List the spells that all three authors agree are rated red or orange. Then fix those spells. This doesn't appreciably add power to that class, just variety and choice.
  • adding (back) a robust magic item economy to help the legions of gamers that struggle with "worthless" gold in 5E!

The goal of compatibility only needs to mean 5E characters can adventure together with A5E characters. It does not need to (and should not) mean that feats must be the same, spells must be the same, and class abilities must be the same.

Sure adding options so each time you previously just got something you now get three choices is better than nothing. But the risk is that such a game will not come across as substantially different (and distinctly "deeper") from 5E, only "more".

Having to learn a new ruleset - especially one that will inevitably share much of the same terminology to the point of confusion - needs to be worth the investment. Just "slightly more options" won't be worth the bother, I fear. I'm worried this project settles for just wanting to capture the same audience as regular 5E with just "more", thus missing the opportunity to claim the place Paizo used to occupy before they went astray with the bafflingly byzantine and super-constrained PF2 game.

But to end on a positive note - I hope A5E have recruited at least one veteran designer intimately familiar with d20. I'm not necessarily thinking of someone that actually worked on d20 mechanics - just playing that game and building a character and experiencing its "the sky's the limit" sense of wonder and freedom (between play sessions, when you decide on how to level up) would be plenty! :)
 
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Corrosive

Adventurer
Sure, but the point of the product isn't just "more of 5E".

At least I am not hugely interested in "more" - I'm interested in deeper. 5E already shovels out new subclasses and just more of everything.
But I'm interested in mechanics that add more decision points to existing character builds.

Just adding "more" does allow you to create more types of characters, but once you have selected your subclass, having more subclasses does nothing for your existing character.

But if L5E were to (for instance) modularize subclasses into the four tiers so you could start mix and match them, it would do wonders for the customizability of existing characters. That is (to continue this example) you could create a Barbarian character that picks the Totem Warrior subclass at tier 1 and 3, but the fighter subclass battlemaster at tier 2, and the druid subclass Circle of the Moon at tier 4.
Not saying this necessarily is a good idea. Just an illustration to explain my point.

To do this, each subclass (and each part of each subclass) would be standardized to all cover the exact same levels (1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20).

Other things I can easily envision from an "Advanced 5E" game include:
  • recalibrating class abilities - at mid to high level the core abilities are just weak. (I remember looking at the Ranger and concluded it got nothing the game couldn't hand out no later than level 12. Yep, every single last of the Ranger level 13-20 class abilities would make sense to gain no later than level 12)
  • recalibrating existing spells. Somewhat simplistically speaking, grab three class guides for each class at random. List the spells that all three authors agree are rated red or orange. Then fix those spells. This doesn't appreciably add power to that class, just variety and choice.
  • adding (back) a robust magic item economy to help the legions of gamers that struggle with "worthless" gold in 5E!

The goal of compatibility only needs to mean 5E characters can adventure together with A5E characters. It does not need to (and should not) mean that feats must be the same, spells must be the same, and class abilities must be the same.

Sure adding options so each time you previously just got something you now get three choices is better than nothing. But the risk is that such a game will not come across as substantially different (and distinctly "deeper") from 5E, only "more".

Having to learn a new ruleset - especially one that will inevitably share much of the same terminology to the point of confusion - needs to be worth the investment. Just "slightly more options" won't be worth the bother, I fear. I'm worried this project settles for just wanting to capture the same audience as regular 5E with just "more", thus missing the opportunity to claim the place Paizo used to occupy before they went astray with the bafflingly byzantine and super-constrained PF2 game.

But to end on a positive note - I hope A5E have recruited at least one veteran designer intimately familiar with d20. I'm not necessarily thinking of someone that actually worked on d20 mechanics - just playing that game and building a character and experiencing its "the sky's the limit" sense of wonder and freedom (between play sessions, when you decide on how to level up) would be plenty! :)
This is all answered in playtest documents you refuse to look at. There's only so much work we can do for you.
 

Faolyn

Hero
@CapnZapp, Please read the playtest packets. They're not that long. The only question you have that they can't answer fully is what happens after 10th level, since most of the class packets only go up to 10th level--but considering the number of options that the higher levels in the 1-20 Warlord class packet had, I feel confident in assuming that there will be robust options for every class at higher levels. They've already indicated the spells are being tweaked. And there have been outright statements made by Morrus et al in the comments that there will be things to spend gold on at higher levels, up to and including strongholds.
 

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