Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks


Pauln6

Adventurer
"Subclasses" would become something like kits - bolt-ons for the 3 main classes.I think ranger, paladin and (maybe) barbarian would be kits for the warrior; bard and assassin and whatever for the expert. Wizard and cleric (and druid) would be different types of spellcaster. If these are done with feats, two characters could have the same basic abilities but customize that way. A warrior could take paladin feats, or just the standard combat-ish feats from the current game. In 3.x, spellcasters could cast Any spells; the "type" of magic (divine or arcane) really only impacted the attribute associated (Wisdom or Intelligence). I think this would allow a lot of flexibility and diversity.
Cross-pollination of spells is a game balance nightmare. 5e is the most balanced version I've ever played while maintaining the feel of earlier editions. I would not want to open the Pandora's Box of 2e or CoDzilla of 3e.
 

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mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
Using these classes as the base for all things creates an opportunity for Spellcaster (Wizardry), Spellcaster (Sorcery), Spellcaster (Witchcraft), etc. Instead of having different mechanics for each type of spellcasting, we could instead have those divided spell lists we so desperately need (e.g. wizardry manipulates objects, sorcery manipulates energy, and witchcraft manipulates creatures). I'm into it!
 

paladinn

Explorer
Not to mention spellcaster (Cleric). Although I'd be tempted to use the name Mystic instead of Spellcaster, if Mystic hadn't been grabbed for the new UA psionics class.

So if you want a cleric of a god of fire, load up on fire-based spells. Easy-peasy.

There are some channel divinity abilities that, IMHO, would need to be made into spells, but that should be easy too.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Using these classes as the base for all things creates an opportunity for Spellcaster (Wizardry), Spellcaster (Sorcery), Spellcaster (Witchcraft), etc. Instead of having different mechanics for each type of spellcasting, we could instead have those divided spell lists we so desperately need (e.g. wizardry manipulates objects, sorcery manipulates energy, and witchcraft manipulates creatures). I'm into it!

That sounds more like a PBTA game than DnD, to me.

Part of the appeal of dnd magic is that it works differently. Even in 4e, wizards, clerics, and bards, all did very different things. The actual mechanics of the spellcasters should feel different.
 

That sounds more like a PBTA game than DnD, to me.

Part of the appeal of dnd magic is that it works differently. Even in 4e, wizards, clerics, and bards, all did very different things. The actual mechanics of the spellcasters should feel different.

As a counter-point, if you go back to OD&D & B/X, you had a Magic-User class that handled all spell casters (being a warlock or wizard or sorcerer was just a role-playing / background choice... they all worked the same).

B/X was especially interesting in that spells you can cast are the spells you know and that's it (you didn't have a separate pool of spells known to prepare from).

This made B/X spell casters unique since they couldn't just get together for a couple weeks and copy each other's spell books and end up being the same. A B/X magic user with sleep and charm person was a fundamentally different magic user than one with burning hands and magic missile. You could make the case that the first was an enchanter and the second was an elementalist or evoker.

In B/X, what 'kind' of spellcaster you were was dependent on what spells you know.

Personally, I can see a return of a single spell caster class that is defined by what spells are available / known to them.

I add myself to the contingent that is beginning to wonder if there is a viable 'D&D 5E Lite' buried somewhere here:
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
As a counter-point, if you go back to OD&D & B/X, you had a Magic-User class that handled all spell casters (being a warlock or wizard or sorcerer was just a role-playing / background choice... they all worked the same).

B/X was especially interesting in that spells you can cast are the spells you know and that's it (you didn't have a separate pool of spells known to prepare from).

This made B/X spell casters unique since they couldn't just get together for a couple weeks and copy each other's spell books and end up being the same. A B/X magic user with sleep and charm person was a fundamentally different magic user than one with burning hands and magic missile. You could make the case that the first was an enchanter and the second was an elementalist or evoker.

In B/X, what 'kind' of spellcaster you were was dependent on what spells you know.

Personally, I can see a return of a single spell caster class that is defined by what spells are available / known to them.

I add myself to the contingent that is beginning to wonder if there is a viable 'D&D 5E Lite' buried somewhere here:

I’d say rather that Basic just only had a wizard, and didn’t include any other spellcasters, and called the wizard the Magic User.

Either way, though, DnD has changed and has a strong identity as what it is now. I’d bet 20$ that most players never played anything before 1e ADND, and id be unsurprised if I found evidence that most never played anything older than 2e or even 3e.

All that said, sure, a workable super basic dnd game could be made using these rules.
 


I’d say rather that Basic just only had a wizard, and didn’t include any other spellcasters, and called the wizard the Magic User.

Either way, though, DnD has changed and has a strong identity as what it is now. I’d bet 20$ that most players never played anything before 1e ADND, and id be unsurprised if I found evidence that most never played anything older than 2e or even 3e.

All that said, sure, a workable super basic dnd game could be made using these rules.

I'm not against your intentions and I agree with you... but I'd just point out.

Sorcerer, warlock, wizard... are just classes created with recent editions to justify the existence of their mechanics. Wizard/Sorcerer difference wasn't a thing then... you are applying modern class paradigms to previous editions. Its kind of a cart before the horse thing. They create new mechanics to make unique spell casting... so they create classes to justify those mechanics.

Sorcerer wouldn't exist if there weren't new mechanics... same with wizard... same with warlock... they are classes that only exist because there are rules that make them so.

Sure the older editions aren't being played by a large number of players, now. But I make a point of changing that. I'm a huge proponent of the older classic editions and I run B/X games at meetups every week. Universally everyone has a great time. Old school gaming is profoundly important, and its principles helped shape the 5th edition of the game.

I think it is important to experience this game throughout its editions.
 
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paladinn

Explorer
As a counter-point, if you go back to OD&D & B/X, you had a Magic-User class that handled all spell casters (being a warlock or wizard or sorcerer was just a role-playing / background choice... they all worked the same).

B/X was especially interesting in that spells you can cast are the spells you know and that's it (you didn't have a separate pool of spells known to prepare from).

This made B/X spell casters unique since they couldn't just get together for a couple weeks and copy each other's spell books and end up being the same. A B/X magic user with sleep and charm person was a fundamentally different magic user than one with burning hands and magic missile. You could make the case that the first was an enchanter and the second was an elementalist or evoker.

In B/X, what 'kind' of spellcaster you were was dependent on what spells you know.

Personally, I can see a return of a single spell caster class that is defined by what spells are available / known to them.

I add myself to the contingent that is beginning to wonder if there is a viable 'D&D 5E Lite' buried somewhere here:

This.

Plus, while being a foundation for a good "Lite" game, it could be easily extensible. That really appeals to me: added options without added complexity.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
This.

Plus, while being a foundation for a good "Lite" game, it could be easily extensible. That really appeals to me: added options without added complexity.

Sounds like True 20. Green Ronin reduced all the core classes in 3.x to the basic three. There were, iirc, feats that allowed customization of the three.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm not against your intentions and I agree with you... but I'd just point out.

Sorcerer, warlock, wizard... are just classes created with recent editions to justify the existence of their mechanics. Wizard/Sorcerer difference wasn't a thing then... you are applying modern class paradigms to previous editions. Its kind of a cart before the horse thing. They create new mechanics to make unique spell casting... so they create classes to justify those mechanics.

Sorcerer wouldn't exist if there weren't new mechanics... same with wizard... same with warlock... they are classes that only exist because there are rules that make them so.

Sure the older editions aren't being played by a large number of players, now. But I make a point of changing that. I'm a huge proponent of the older classic editions and I run B/X games at meetups every week. Universally everyone has a great time. Old school gaming is profoundly important, and its principles helped shape the 5th edition of the game.

I think it is important to experience this game throughout its editions.

Whereas I think people enjoy those games at your table because of the people and environment, and because playing group role playing games is fun, not because those systems are good. I’ll enjoy a game of 3.5 or Pathfinder with a good DM and group, but that doesn’t make them good games, or that I need to play them occasionally in order to get 5e.

But more to the point, two things:

1) It doesn’t matter why sorcerer exists. They’re a strongly archetypal character concept that has mechanical distinction in the game, and it is important for that to continue. It’s better to leave the concept out than to try to force it into the same class as the wizard. Same for Bard, Warlock, Cleric, and Druid. How it came to be a distinct notion that people expect to be mechanically distinct is only relevant in an acedemic sense.

2) Those classes, and the mechanics invented for them, exist because the concepts behind them already existed and people wanted to play them as distinct entities from the wizard. They could have simply called the “at will spell guy” some bland synonym like “arcanist” or something, but people wanted to play a user of forbidden magics, who’s power came from dark deals with dangerous powers rather than from study, and who broke the normal rules of magic. The sorcerer exists because people wanted to play a guy who was born with the ability to use magic, and who does so without training or study, and their idea for a different way to learn and gain spells fit the concept.

These aren’t concepts that popped into being during the mechanical design process. They existed before the mechanics, and have taken more specific and traditional shape over time because people are used to the pairing of concept and mechanics, but the concept exist before and outside of DnD’s history. The mechanical concepts would either have been alternate wizards or just not published without the thematic concepts.

For a DnD Light, meant to look back to the bare class simplicity, though, I think the “basic 3” is a great way to go. It certainly works for Dragon Age (although specialization in that game series replaces subclasses).
 

Dausuul

Legend
Sorcerer, warlock, wizard... are just classes created with recent editions to justify the existence of their mechanics. Wizard/Sorcerer difference wasn't a thing then... you are applying modern class paradigms to previous editions. Its kind of a cart before the horse thing. They create new mechanics to make unique spell casting... so they create classes to justify those mechanics.

Sorcerer wouldn't exist if there weren't new mechanics... same with wizard... same with warlock... they are classes that only exist because there are rules that make them so.
I don't disagree, but I also greatly appreciate the existence of those mechanics. The classic D&D magic system is very weird and idiosyncratic; back in the TSR days, it always bothered me that every spellcaster was shoehorned into a system lifted from a specific novel series by Jack Vance that doesn't resemble anything in the broader fantasy genre.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I add myself to the contingent that is beginning to wonder if there is a viable 'D&D 5E Lite' buried somewhere here:
I don't even think it's that buried. I think the primary consideration is making changes to the Spellcaster to fit the model of how you want spellcasting to work for whatever your personal vision is of how D&D magic should be.

Personally, I'd make them pick either Int or Cha as their spellcasting stat (I've never been a fan of Wisdom-based casting), and use the sorcerer spell list as their baseline picks. But, I'd be open to letting them learn new spells from different sources during their adventures, and basically treat learning spells as a type of magic item. For a "lite D&D" game in general, I'd lean away from providing player-choice driven subsystems in general, and simply give out more magic items and boons during the campaign, in a way that lets them customize their character to fit the concept.
 

Whereas I think people enjoy those games at your table because of the people and environment, and because playing group role playing games is fun, not because those systems are good. I’ll enjoy a game of 3.5 or Pathfinder with a good DM and group, but that doesn’t make them good games, or that I need to play them occasionally in order to get 5e.

But more to the point, two things:

1) It doesn’t matter why sorcerer exists. They’re a strongly archetypal character concept that has mechanical distinction in the game, and it is important for that to continue. It’s better to leave the concept out than to try to force it into the same class as the wizard. Same for Bard, Warlock, Cleric, and Druid. How it came to be a distinct notion that people expect to be mechanically distinct is only relevant in an acedemic sense.

2) Those classes, and the mechanics invented for them, exist because the concepts behind them already existed and people wanted to play them as distinct entities from the wizard. They could have simply called the “at will spell guy” some bland synonym like “arcanist” or something, but people wanted to play a user of forbidden magics, who’s power came from dark deals with dangerous powers rather than from study, and who broke the normal rules of magic. The sorcerer exists because people wanted to play a guy who was born with the ability to use magic, and who does so without training or study, and their idea for a different way to learn and gain spells fit the concept.

These aren’t concepts that popped into being during the mechanical design process. They existed before the mechanics, and have taken more specific and traditional shape over time because people are used to the pairing of concept and mechanics, but the concept exist before and outside of DnD’s history. The mechanical concepts would either have been alternate wizards or just not published without the thematic concepts.

For a DnD Light, meant to look back to the bare class simplicity, though, I think the “basic 3” is a great way to go. It certainly works for Dragon Age (although specialization in that game series replaces subclasses).

I think I my have come across more contentious than I should have. I apologize for that.

As someone who plays and enjoys D&D from two different 'eras' I find myself always straddling the line between the two. I started with B/X and I sometimes forget that others have started with different editions and bring different perspectives to the table.

I actually do not think that different mechanics for different styles of magic is a bad thing. But it is definitely a big contrast between old school and modern D&D that requires some adjustment.

In B/X and older editions, there were less classes... so more concepts had to be represented by any single class.

As an example:

I recently had a chance to play in a basic D&D game. I rolled up my character (3d6 in order) and rolled well with good Strength, Dex and Charisma. I chose to go Fighter for class and decided that because of my good Charisma that I would be a 'skald of the North'... a warrior-poet.

In B/X, the fighter class has room for this. I could be Beowulf, or Jamie Lannister, or Conan, or King Arthur, or whatever. There was just the fighter... so that fighter represented a wide range of warrior archetypes. You decided what kind of fighter you wanted to be based on what you rolled for abilities and your own preference.

If I were to follow through with the same concept in 5E, I would have to consider the following: should I be a fighter with the entertainer background?... should I be a bard and go Valor? I often feel that I have to be more precise in my character's definition in 5E because there are more options that I have to choose from. I have to put more thought into this upfront (so I can choose the appropriate class) than I would in B/X.

Its a difficult feeling to express in a forum post. I probably am not overly clear. I'm not sure I can provide a more precise response regarding this... its definitely has a lot of 'feel' to it.

But this is a good conversation and I'm glad to have the opportunity to discuss this with you.
 

I don't even think it's that buried. I think the primary consideration is making changes to the Spellcaster to fit the model of how you want spellcasting to work for whatever your personal vision is of how D&D magic should be.

Personally, I'd make them pick either Int or Cha as their spellcasting stat (I've never been a fan of Wisdom-based casting), and use the sorcerer spell list as their baseline picks. But, I'd be open to letting them learn new spells from different sources during their adventures, and basically treat learning spells as a type of magic item. For a "lite D&D" game in general, I'd lean away from providing player-choice driven subsystems in general, and simply give out more magic items and boons during the campaign, in a way that lets them customize their character to fit the concept.

Good ideas. Going back to my roots... turn undead has to be an option available. Maybe make it a 1st level spell and be done with it.

A "D&D Lite" does indeed need to remove as many choices as possible from character creation. It should be about getting people playing as quickly as possible. Done right, playing D&D can be an experience equal to a board game in terms of initial investment and setup.

I feel, very strongly, that even the basic D&D PDF is way too complex. I wouldn't expect a brand new player to have to choose which kind of Elf they want to be.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think I my have come across more contentious than I should have. I apologize for that.

As someone who plays and enjoys D&D from two different 'eras' I find myself always straddling the line between the two. I started with B/X and I sometimes forget that others have started with different editions and bring different perspectives to the table.

I actually do not think that different mechanics for different styles of magic is a bad thing. But it is definitely a big contrast between old school and modern D&D that requires some adjustment.

In B/X and older editions, there were less classes... so more concepts had to be represented by any single class.

As an example:

I recently had a chance to play in a basic D&D game. I rolled up my character (3d6 in order) and rolled well with good Strength, Dex and Charisma. I chose to go Fighter for class and decided that because of my good Charisma that I would be a 'skald of the North'... a warrior-poet.

In B/X, the fighter class has room for this. I could be Beowulf, or Jamie Lannister, or Conan, or King Arthur, or whatever. There was just the fighter... so that fighter represented a wide range of warrior archetypes. You decided what kind of fighter you wanted to be based on what you rolled for abilities and your own preference.

If I were to follow through with the same concept in 5E, I would have to consider the following: should I be a fighter with the entertainer background?... should I be a bard and go Valor? I often feel that I have to be more precise in my character's definition in 5E because there are more options that I have to choose from. I have to put more thought into this upfront (so I can choose the appropriate class) than I would in B/X.

Its a difficult feeling to express in a forum post. I probably am not overly clear. I'm not sure I can provide a more precise response regarding this... its definitely has a lot of 'feel' to it.

But this is a good conversation and I'm glad to have the opportunity to discuss this with you.

That all makes sense. It’s not just a matter of what Edition one started with, of course.

Many of us felt constrained by early dnd, bc we didn’t like that all non magical warrior types used the same mechanics, and thus (from our perspective) were the same. To us, you couldn’t be Conan or a Skald or Arthur, you could be a Fighter. There wasn’t any way to distinguish.

In a powered by the apocolypse game like Monster of The Week, you make very simple characters, but bc the way things work is less specific than in early dnd, it feels less constrained. A Dragon Age style set up can work well, but for me, Basic was much too “railroaded” in character creation, and too DM-driven in character development.

Of course, I played HeroQuest before I ever played Basic DnD, but they both use similar paradigms.

Anyway, it’s a fun topic, and a welcome rest from the other thread I was in earlier today!
 

paladinn

Explorer
Definitely think Turn Undead needs to be a spell. So does Wildshape. And Divine Smite.

If there were 3 main generic classes, and someone wanted Conan, just take the Warrior basis and add thief-ish and barbarian-ish feats. The basis is dirt simple; the customization (optional) is a bit more complex, but nothing too extreme. If a warrior does Not want to be a paladin/ barbarian/ ranger/ whatever, s/he can just take "regular" feats or ASI's.

This could be fun:)
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
In B/X and older editions, there were less classes... so more concepts had to be represented by any single class.

As an example:

I recently had a chance to play in a basic D&D game. I rolled up my character (3d6 in order) and rolled well with good Strength, Dex and Charisma. I chose to go Fighter for class and decided that because of my good Charisma that I would be a 'skald of the North'... a warrior-poet.

In B/X, the fighter class has room for this. I could be Beowulf, or Jamie Lannister, or Conan, or King Arthur, or whatever. There was just the fighter... so that fighter represented a wide range of warrior archetypes. You decided what kind of fighter you wanted to be based on what you rolled for abilities and your own preference.

If I were to follow through with the same concept in 5E, I would have to consider the following: should I be a fighter with the entertainer background?... should I be a bard and go Valor? I often feel that I have to be more precise in my character's definition in 5E because there are more options that I have to choose from. I have to put more thought into this upfront (so I can choose the appropriate class) than I would in B/X.

Its a difficult feeling to express in a forum post. I probably am not overly clear. I'm not sure I can provide a more precise response regarding this... its definitely has a lot of 'feel' to it.

But this is a good conversation and I'm glad to have the opportunity to discuss this with you.

This is a great example of the difference in feel for older and newer games. Well put.
 

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