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5E The "Faster Features" Variant (+)

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Have you played a PC to level 20, to obtain your capstone feature and rejoice in newly found power and ability, only to have the adventure... end?

Have you played many campaigns, making it to level 10 or 12 even, just to find the adventure is suddenly over, and look at those higher lofty levels with utter longing for features you've never been able to play?

Well, after a lengthy discussion on the topic with some members of my tables, I decided to try a new variant: Faster Features.

The basic idea is simple: compress the access to all the features into levels 1-10, but only the access. Proficiency Bonus, Hit Dice, and other numbers associated with features, spell slots, etc. remain "as is".

The result, of course, is those lofty features in tiers 3 and 4 are now available in levels 6-10 (well... mostly, a few exceptions exist) and you can actually use them without having to trudge all the way up (only to find the fun snatched away!) or play in over-the-top epic styles of games, which frankly don't appeal to everyone (myself included!).

Now, will this impact things such as CR and encounter building? Sure, of course it will! But since your proficiency bonus and HD remain constant, you just get a lot more you can "do". How great an impact and if this is really a good idea will have to wait until the play-test begins. But, in the mean time the first draft is ready to share and what I will present below.

A note on multiclassing: you are limited to accessing only the first 10 levels of class features you obtain combined in all your classes. For example, if by level 20 you were a Fighter 3/ Rogue 17, you would have at most 3 levels of Fighter class features but then only 7 levels of Rogue class features (you would never get: Slippery Mind, Roguish Archetype feature (final), Elusive, nor Stroke of Luck; despite having 9d6 of sneak attack ( for a 17th level Rogue). In other words, if you never get ACCESS to the class feature, you never get the "other numbers" that might be associated with it, either.

As I mentioned this is a first draft, so please treat it as such. If the idea doesn't appeal to you, I respectfully ask you to move on. If, on the other hand, you like the concept or think it has some merit, please feel free to offer suggestions, balance-issues, etc. as you see fit. Constructive feedback is always appreciated. :)

Here are the prototype class tables (where new features have been added, descriptions are provided, and some homebrew/house-rule tweaking of numbers is present, of course).

EDIT: All classes have been updated (10/24). The original tables were left for comparisons.

EDIT: Spell progressions for Paladins and Rangers have been increased to match full-casters. Spell slots per level were reduced to represent "half-casters". This was so spells like Find Greater Steed and Steel Wind Strike would be available for longer and could be enjoyed, as the concept of faster-features represents. It seemed ridiculous to us that a Wizard could use and enjoy a spell like Steel Wind Strike before a Ranger could, or that a Bard (via Magical Secrets) could use Find Greater Steed before a Paladin.

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Updated:
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Updated:
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Metamagic was expanded outside of level 10 for the final two spells to keep the known spells more reasonable at higher levels. Some features were shifted slightly to make the access more continual.
1603218835073.png

Added Destroy Undead (CR 5) because Vampire Spawn are not Vampires. ;)
Updated:
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1603218854011.png

I've always loved the idea of a Plant wild shape, and increases the CR to 2 makes it better for non-Moon Druids. Beyond level 6 Moon Druids will still have higher CR shapes available, including plant.
Updated:
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Yeah, AC/Save bonus is big, but you get it later. This is a nod to AD&D when fighters had the best saves and the AC bonus increases their survivability, thus making them better at fighting.

Extra Attack (3) at level 10 was deemed too strong, and so fell outside level 10 to level 15.
Updated:
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1603219078785.png

The added reaction to stand option makes sense to us for flavor.
Updated:
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Updated:
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Updated:
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The spell level progression was increased because it made no sense for spells like Find Greater Steed to wait until 13th level when it won't be of much use for long. This follows the philosophy of faster features--to give time to enjoy such things.
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Ranger will likely see a minor bump in spells known. 11 at level 20 is simply pathetic...
Updated:
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Updated:
1604050700412.png

The spell level progression was increased because it made no sense for spells like Steel Wind Strike to wait until 17th level when it won't be of much use for long. This follows the philosophy of faster features--to give time to enjoy such things.
1603219129527.png

Since Evasion doesn't even cost your reaction, we house-ruled it to 1/4 damage on a success. Otherwise it is too strong for us, anyway.
Updated:
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Although a couple metamagics can be combined, we liked the idea of being able to blend more--if you are willing to burn the sorcery points for it. If you can think of any really OP combos, please let me know!
Updated:
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Warlocks had a couple gaps that needed filling. Personally, I like the flavor of Unstoppable Caster for a Warlock and adding a second pact boon at higher levels allows the PC to expand a bit.
Updated:
1603579379246.png
1603219220531.png

I'm not sold on Resilient Caster, but we liked the concept in general and plugged it in for the first draft.

Getting a second use of arcane recovery allows Wizards to exceed more at spell casting, which is their primary focus IMO.
Updated:
1603579413517.png

That's it for now. A lot to take in and review if you care to. If not, no worries, we will be play-testing it sometime in the next month or so.

Thanks for reading! :)
 
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aco175

Legend
I like the initial look of it, from 5 minutes. Most of my games run to 12th level or so, so this may work. I wonder about scaling monsters to make up for the power increase, or since HP and other bonuses are on the normal track that this ma not be a big problem. You may offset this by playing with the number of HP, but I would most likely max out the monster HP.
 


Saelorn

Hero
Wouldn't it make more sense to double the rate of level gain, and tack on ten (or twenty) empty levels to the post-game? Or are you specifically trying to avoid dealing with late-game HP math?
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Wouldn't it make more sense to double the rate of level gain, and tack on ten (or twenty) empty levels to the post-game? Or are you specifically trying to avoid dealing with late-game HP math?
No, because then spells come more rapidly as well. And due to how much better spells tend to be over class features, it makes casters too strong comparitively (I did try an L10 variant based on that idea, so it has actually been considered).

We are also trying to reduce PC hp bloat. Other systems that we are play-testing are already in place, and this concept seems to lend itself well to them. Once I have more play-testing data on the other systems I'll post on them as well.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
So this is standard D&D with 1/2 HD progression, 1/2 proficiency progression, 1/2 ASI progression, 1/2 spellcasting progression, 1/2 ki points, 1/2 sneak attack dice., 1/2 rage and rage damage progression, and 2x advancement.

Then nerf extra attack(2/3) and do some minor tweaks.

That would require fewer changes than what you did, and highlights what you left advancing slowly.

---

Winners include non-spellcasters, and builds whose non-spellcasting subclasses features are a significant source of power.

---

Let's look at "killer archer" MC build. Gloom 3 Assassin 3 Fighter (BM) 5. Level 11, alpha-strikes for 6 auto-crit attacks.

In your system, we have Gloom 2 Assassin 2 BM 3 (level 7) with basically the same effect. You lose 1 spellcasting level progression and some ASIs.

BM 3/Bear 2/Gloom 2 is another good build here. 6 attack action surge to open fights, resist all damage, invisible in darkness to darkvision, BM maneuver dice for spice and an ASI, rage and reckless attack.

You have most of the offence of a level 11 core rules PC and you are level 7.

---

Based on what you made (relatively) worse, build suggestions is to avoid:
1) Past level 3 Fighter. Just don't; it is all hot garbage. (in core 5e, past level 5 fighter is because of level 11 extra attack(3), here it is so far away you should just dip for better).
2) More than 1-2 levels of Rogue. Your main class feature is turned to crap at 1/2 comparable advancement.
3) Monks. You have no Ki. Ki is your life.
4) Be cautious of spellcasters, especially partial casters. Don't expect to do damage as a spellcaster, you'll suck at it.

Rages/day aren't big, and rage damage is small compared to reckless attack.

"3 level" remain strong; a 2 level dip does what a 3 level dip used to do pretty much (except spell slots).

The key level for martial characters is 3 where you get extra attack. Don't MC two level 3+ martial characters. At level 3, martial characters are going to be beasts, way outdamaging anyone else with raw smacks to the point of making combat trivial.

---

Not sure if Hexadin still works. Paladin 1 gives you smite, Paladin 3 would get you extra attack, then hex 2 gives you great weapon-on-cha. But you really lack smite fuel.

With ASI shortage, 2 H weapons are less tempting. Paladin 1/Hex 1/Sorc X might have enough smite fuel if your game has short adventuring days.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
We are also trying to reduce PC hp bloat. Other systems that we are play-testing are already in place, and this concept seems to lend itself well to them. Once I have more play-testing data on the other systems I'll post on them as well.
It’s funny that you mention that, cause my first thought looking through this was “I could see switching to fixed HP increases for levels 11-20 instead of HD + Con mod.”
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying “standard D&D with 2x class feature progression.”
LOL that was pretty much my thought as well. ;)

It’s funny that you mention that, cause my first thought looking through this was “I could see switching to fixed HP increases for levels 11-20 instead of HD + Con mod.”
Yeah, coming from AD&D days, we are considering +1-4 flat HP per level after 10th (d12 = +4, d10 = +3, d8 = +2, and d6 = +1).

We already don't add CON mod after level 1, so it is probably overkill to do flat HP and is why we haven't adopted it yet. shrug
 



NotAYakk

Legend
That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying “standard D&D with 2x class feature progression.”
But it isn't.

Spellcasting isn't 2x. Sneak attack isn't x2. Extra attack(3) isn't 2x. ASIs aren't 2x. Rage isn't 2x. Ki isn't 2x.

Those are all class features that don't progress at 2x.

The list of things that don't progress at 2x is shorter than the list of things that do progress at 2x.

By comparing it to "simply playing the game at 2x" you can find out what is significantly weakened.

---

I think spellcasting slowing down is intended, but it is honestly a bit strange to not touch barbarian damage to any extent at all, while halving rogue damage progression.

Push extra attack back to 5 if you want to keep damage on pace with standard 5e, with some semblance of damage parity between classes.

There are features that aren't "kill more" -- move them up to 2x schedule specifically.
 
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I've thought about doing something similar.

My idea was, essentially, that the levels above 10 feel heavily stalled. I chose to do this:

Level 11: Gain features from 11 & 12 except 12's ASI
Level 12: Gain features from 13 & 14, gain an ASI
Level 13: Gain features from 15 & 16 except 16's ASI
Level 14: Gain features from 17 & 18
Level 15: Gain features from 19 & 20 except 19's ASI
Level 16: Gain an ASI
Level 17: Gain an ASI
Level 18: Gain an ASI
Level 19: Gain an ASI
Level 20: Gain an ASI

Spellcasting progression, proficiency bonus, and hit dice progress normally. Note that these are changes to the class level progression, so a character can't multiclass and gain Fighter 1 and Rogue 1 at level 11.
 


6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I've thought about doing something similar.

My idea was, essentially, that the levels above 10 feel heavily stalled. I chose to do this:

Level 11: Gain features from 11 & 12 except 12's ASI
Level 12: Gain features from 13 & 14, gain an ASI
Level 13: Gain features from 15 & 16 except 16's ASI
Level 14: Gain features from 17 & 18
Level 15: Gain features from 19 & 20 except 19's ASI
Level 16: Gain an ASI
Level 17: Gain an ASI
Level 18: Gain an ASI
Level 19: Gain an ASI
Level 20: Gain an ASI

Spellcasting progression, proficiency bonus, and hit dice progress normally. Note that these are changes to the class level progression, so a character can't multiclass and gain Fighter 1 and Rogue 1 at level 11.
LOL it is funny you suggest this as I was working on the idea of how would the progressions look if I just removed the ASI's and "shifted" things up so max was level 15 instead of 10 for features, but keeping the non-access elements as intended in the faster feature varaiant. Something like this:

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We never felt the higher levels stalled, but that we never got to enjoy the features we got by then long enough. Also, with the extra HP, higher proficiency, and other features (such as sneak attacks and spells), we felt the PCs were a bit OP.

I suspect, but am not sure, that the OP wants to avoid higher level spells effects on the campaign?
Sort of, but not completely. High Magic (6th level+) is powerful stuff, especially spell levels 8 and 9! Getting to touch on that sort of power is great, but I wouldn't want it in the game regularly because it is much more impactful than the non-casting features other classes get IMO.

What I want is for the class features to come faster so people can actually play with them without having to resort to "epic-style" adventures.

For example, we recently finished our campaign we've been playing over the last 18 months or 20. Went all the way from level 1 to 20. BUT for the stuff we recently got in tier 4, we only got to enjoy it for a short time and that was disappointing. The adventure was over and the DM has no interest in running post-20 adventures because they are crazy over-the-top (and I agree with him).

So, I thought what if all those features could come online sooner? I've toyed with a simple L10 where everything (even spells!) came twice as fast, basically compressing every two levels into one. But, because of other factors, including spells but not just those, it never appealed to us when we wrote it up. It was close, but didn't feel right. I tired an L12 variant to the same results. I toyed with the above L15 (sort-of) variant, in a manner as @Bacon Bits suggests but not quite the same, and finally on the L15 option shown directly above with the Barbarian table.

Finally, two days ago I started the Faster Features variant and overall my initial impression is I like it. Will getting Extra Attack at level 3 be too much, for example? I don't think so. Yes, it will change the encounter we fight to keep it balanced, but with the PCs still having a +2 proficiency and no ASIs, and lower HP than what they would have at level 5, I don't think off-hand it would be overwhelmingly strong. Maybe I am wrong? The play-testing will decide when we have the revised draft and it is ready to try out. :)
 

dave2008

Legend
Have you played a PC to level 20, to obtain your capstone feature and rejoice in newly found power and ability, only to have the adventure... end?

Have you played many campaigns, making it to level 10 or 12 even, just to find the adventure is suddenly over, and look at those higher lofty levels with utter longing for features you've never been able to play?

Well, after a lengthy discussion on the topic with some members of my tables, I decided to try a new variant: Faster Features.

The basic idea is simple: compress the access to all the features into levels 1-10, but only the access. Proficiency Bonus, Hit Dice, and other numbers associated with features, spell slots, etc. remain "as is".

The result, of course, is those lofty features in tiers 3 and 4 are now available in levels 6-10 (well... mostly, a few exceptions exist) and you can actually use them without having to trudge all the way up (only to find the fun snatched away!) or play in over-the-top epic styles of games, which frankly don't appeal to everyone (myself included!).

Now, will this impact things such as CR and encounter building? Sure, of course it will! But since your proficiency bonus and HD remain constant, you just get a lot more you can "do". How great an impact and if this is really a good idea will have to wait until the play-test begins. But, in the mean time the first draft is ready to share and what I will present below.

A note on multiclassing: you are limited to accessing only the first 10 levels of class features you obtain combined in all your classes. For example, if by level 20 you were a Fighter 3/ Rogue 17, you would have at most 3 levels of Fighter class features but then only 7 levels of Rogue class features (you would never get: Slippery Mind, Roguish Archetype feature (final), Elusive, nor Stroke of Luck; despite having 9d6 of sneak attack ( for a 17th level Rogue). In other words, if you never get ACCESS to the class feature, you never get the "other numbers" that might be associated with it, either.

As I mentioned this is a first draft, so please treat it as such. If the idea doesn't appeal to you, I respectfully ask you to move on. If, on the other hand, you like the concept or think it has some merit, please feel free to offer suggestions, balance-issues, etc. as you see fit. Constructive feedback is always appreciated. :)

Here are the prototype class tables (where new features have been added, descriptions are provided, and some homebrew/house-rule tweaking of numbers is present, of course).
View attachment 127659
Metamagic was expanded outside of level 10 for the final two spells to keep the known spells more reasonable at higher levels. Some features were shifted slightly to make the access more continual.
View attachment 127660
Added Destroy Undead (CR 5) because Vampire Spawn are not Vampires. ;)
View attachment 127661
I've always loved the idea of a Plant wild shape, and increases the CR to 2 makes it better for non-Moon Druids. Beyond level 6 Moon Druids will still have higher CR shapes available, including plant.
View attachment 127662
Yeah, AC/Save bonus is big, but you get it later. This is a nod to AD&D when fighters had the best saves and the AC bonus increases their survivability, thus making them better at fighting.

Extra Attack (3) at level 10 was deemed too strong, and so fell outside level 10 to level 15.
View attachment 127663
The added reaction to stand option makes sense to us for flavor.
View attachment 127665
Ranger will likely see a minor bump in spells known. 11 at level 20 is simply pathetic...
View attachment 127666
Since Evasion doesn't even cost your reaction, we house-ruled it to 1/4 damage on a success. Otherwise it is too strong for us, anyway.
View attachment 127667
Although a couple metamagics can be combined, we liked the idea of being able to blend more--if you are willing to burn the sorcery points for it. If you can think of any really OP combos, please let me know!
View attachment 127668
Warlocks had a couple gaps that needed filling. Personally, I like the flavor of Unstoppable Caster for a Warlock and adding a second pact boon at higher levels allows the PC to expand a bit.
View attachment 127670
I'm not sold on Resilient Caster, but we liked the concept in general and plugged it in for the first draft.

Getting a second use of arcane recovery allows Wizards to exceed more at spell casting, which is their primary focus IMO.

That's it for now. A lot to take in and review if you care to. If not, no worries, we will be play-testing it sometime in the next month or so.

Thanks for reading! :)
I've thought about doing several times, but never found the will to put in the effort. Thanks for giving it a go and sharing the results. I will be very interested to hear how it goes if you give it a go.
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I've thought about doing several times, but never found the will to put in the effort. Thanks for giving it a go and sharing the results. I will be very interested to hear how it goes if you give it a go.
Oh, I am sure we will. My online group has agreed to be our play-testers and they understand we have a "campaign" but I change some things up every once in a while.

For example, our current rule on critical hits is we removed double-damage-dice and instead allow the attacker an immediate "free" attack as part of the same action. For the flavor, variety, and fun, we are not requiring it to be the same target as the first hit, nor does it have to be the same weapon, but the target of the free attack must be within your reach/range. In addition, whenever a creature is hit with a natural 20, they have to make a concentration check or gain a level of exhaustion.

We've been using this variant rule for critical hits for weeks now and everyone loves it. The downside to some, is that features like smites and sneak attacks which grant addition damage dice on an attack aren't doubled. The upside is you don't have "wasted" damage because the target only had 2 HP left and you crushed it for 30 points. But this is a feature of the rule, not a bug. When we had PCs doing over 150 points of damage on a critical hit, it was time to make some changes...
 

I'd have to give further thoughts to the possible ramification and consequences of this, but at first (and second) read; it sounds solid.

my preference would have been for a non-linear "acceleration" of features, whereas level 1-5 are left unaffected. 5th level = 2nd attack = 3rd level spell = second tier of cantrips; until then things are fine. My preference would have been to leave those alone.

Similarly, level 11th works well for a universal-ish capstone level where 6th-level and tier 3 cantrip damage come into play. In other words, my ideal faster variant would be a condensation of level 6th-20th features in a 6th-11th level progression. I like how level 1-5 play, but I wish class features (of martials particularly) came faster to match 4th, 5th, and 6th level spells. The game could thus be easily self contained in some kind of E11 version of 5e, ignoring everything above, while leaving early level intact and keeping most of the game's features in play.

Now, I actually like your extra features. They are thematic, balanced (at first read at any case), and fill appropriate gaps/niches, but i would prefer a variant that doesn't add new content to the game.

So I don't have much to say about "this is too strong" or "this is so gimped! you've ruin my childhood by changing D&D!" My only criticism is that it changes level 1-5 play which I otherwise like.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Interesting idea, that I like w/o much analysis.......it gets to the give me something every level that is interesting, idea, some.
 

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