D&D 5E Using Class Focus instead of Ability Scores (+)

DND_Reborn

Legend
So as to not derail the thread started by @Cadence, I would like to explore the idea of a class "focus", which would replace the combined ability modifier + proficiency bonus, as well as serve some other functions. This approach is somewhat similar to a "priority" system.

The categories are:

COMBAT: modifies proficient attack rolls, secondary* is non-proficient attack rolls, as well as damage
DEFENSE: modifies proficient saving throws, secondary* is non-proficient saves and AC
MAGIC: modifies spell save DCs, secondary* is attack rolls (and damage?)
SKILLS: modifies proficient checks, secondary* non-proficient checks

Each category would receive a rating of Better, Good, Average, or Poor, exclusively. I considered allowing ratings such as two Averages and two Goods, or two Betters, and two Poors, but I prefer the idea of forcing a distinct rating for each as those options would allow too many "middle grounds" and "min/maxed" PCs IMO.

Secondary bonuses are two ratings lower (see below), to a minimum of poor. So, if you have Better Combat, your Attack bonus is Best, but your Damage bonus is Average. This might change to just one rating lower, but I think two is erring on the better side of caution.

Note: for AC, your focus bonus would replace your armor if it is better than the AC bonus you get (equal to the armor's AC value - 10) from wearing the armor. In our game, armor provide damage reduction regardless so is always useful.

Option: for the first three categories, it makes sense to allow the player to choose a primary and secondary focus use. So, instead of COMBAT being attack rolls with damage secondary, you could reverse it to deal more damage, but have attack rolls secondary. MAGIC as spell attacks (and maybe damage) as the larger bonus, with the secondary being for Spell Save DCs works, too. With this option, non-proficient saves and checks would always be secondary.

The bonus progression would be:
1643745470606.png


The Best progression is reserved for special situations, such as a PC with Better Skills adding Expertise to a couple of them, and for exceptional creatures.

Below are the unique groupings and a first draft of the classes I associate with them. Obviously many people might place classes in a different place, so if you have an argument for a switch let me know.

1643745622217.png


Finally, this is a (+) thread. I know many people like the simple, universal proficiency bonus, and I can respect that if you do. This is an idea I would like to explore with others who might also want to support such a system. I know it is a bit of a throw-back to prior editions, and if I went forward I would have a lot of work to do implementing it with creatures, etc. if I didn't want to just assume they were universally "average" at everything.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and any contributions to the discussion. :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I like this for a fantasy heartbreaker.

Have you considered instead of each class having a set progression which may not fit all all concepts, instead do it like early (and maybe current) Shadowrun where each character arranged the categories with priority A-D. And then have your class show how that works out. So one Fighter might have A: Defense, B: Combat, C: Skills, and D: Magic/Features. They are quite tanky. Another puts Combat first, then Skills, Defense, then Magic/Features. Another wants all sorts of tricks to do with arrows and does Combat, Magic/Features, Skills, Defense. Someone else wants to play a gish-type and does Magic, then Combat, Defense, and Skills. Mind you, they are all picking Fighter as a class, so Magic first for a fighter will be very different than Magic first for a Wizard - though should be just as viable.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Have you considered instead of each class having a set progression which may not fit all all concepts, instead do it like early (and maybe current) Shadowrun where each character arranged the categories with priority A-D.
Yeah, that's why I said it is like a priority system. I've always liked how Shadowrun does priorities, so I borrowed heavily from that.

I thought about just allowing people to assign them as they wanted (provided each is used only once) so they could develop what strengths and weaknesses they wanted, without being tied to a class directly.

My concern was people min/maxing off of it too much, which is why I decided against it at first. It is a balance between allowing for viable concepts without supporting min/maxing, which I try to discourage.

If that isn't an issue for someone, they could certain do as you suggest, and then pick the class solely for features, etc.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
This throws away bounded accuracy.

In baseline, ATK for a competent L1 character is +5, and it caps at +11, a 6 point swing.

Your Best goes from +3 to +12.

Saves DC similarly scale from DC 13 to DC 19, a 6 point swing. Yours is a 9 point swing.

I would combine Combat and Defence honestly.

Magic, by itself, is pretty damn dominant. Having a brawler be half as competent as a wizard (because more categories needed) sucks.

Making Skills as impkrtant as Magic is challenging. Honestly you'd need some Exhalted-like mechanics.

Splitting Magic up is another option. Like, "Magic Knowledge, Magic Slots, Magic Pkwer" might let it balance the other categories?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
This throws away bounded accuracy.
Well, it doesn't really "throw it away" so much as expand it a bit. Personally, I always felt bounded accuracy was a bit too bounded. IIRC, it was supposed to cap (more or less) around 30ish, and I think 40ish would be better. I certainly don't want crazy numbers like prior editions, but a bit bigger would be nice IMO.

In baseline, ATK for a competent L1 character is +5, and it caps at +11, a 6 point swing.

Your Best goes from +3 to +12.
Correct, but notice RAW is +11, mine is +12. Do you really think a 1-point difference is going to break anything?

Saves DC similarly scale from DC 13 to DC 19, a 6 point swing. Yours is a 9 point swing.
Correct, emphasizing the greater disparity between level 1 and level 19+. IMO a 4-point difference in proficiency RAW between +2 and +6 is a bit pathetic. Add to that the fact a level 1 PC can have a +7 with a 20 stat makes it even worse!

This is meant to create a greater rift between tier 1 and tier 4, as well as remove ability scores (which can off balance it IME at low levels especially with min/maxers).

I would combine Combat and Defence honestly.
Yeah, it was at first. It was Attack rolls and AC, while Saves relied on the class proficiency to be better, all non-proficient were poor. If you think that is a better method, I might go back to it. What do you think??

Magic, by itself, is pretty damn dominant. Having a brawler be half as competent as a wizard (because more categories needed) sucks.

Making Skills as impkrtant as Magic is challenging. Honestly you'd need some Exhalted-like mechanics.

Splitting Magic up is another option. Like, "Magic Knowledge, Magic Slots, Magic Pkwer" might let it balance the other categories?
That is a good point. I could separate out Spell Attacks from Spell Save DCs, and possibly add more categories. One possibility would be Spell Progression (probably what you meant by Magic Slots?) where it would be full, half, third, and none?

Thanks for your input!
 

ECMO3

Hero
So as to not derail the thread started by @Cadence, I would like to explore the idea of a class "focus", which would replace the combined ability modifier + proficiency bonus, as well as serve some other functions. This approach is somewhat similar to a "priority" system.

The categories are:

COMBAT: modifies proficient attack rolls, secondary* is non-proficient attack rolls, as well as damage
DEFENSE: modifies proficient saving throws, secondary* is non-proficient saves and AC
MAGIC: modifies spell save DCs, secondary* is attack rolls (and damage?)
SKILLS: modifies proficient checks, secondary* non-proficient checks

Each category would receive a rating of Better, Good, Average, or Poor, exclusively. I considered allowing ratings such as two Averages and two Goods, or two Betters, and two Poors, but I prefer the idea of forcing a distinct rating for each as those options would allow too many "middle grounds" and "min/maxed" PCs IMO.

Secondary bonuses are two ratings lower (see below), to a minimum of poor. So, if you have Better Combat, your Attack bonus is Best, but your Damage bonus is Average. This might change to just one rating lower, but I think two is erring on the better side of caution.

Note: for AC, your focus bonus would replace your armor if it is better than the AC bonus you get (equal to the armor's AC value - 10) from wearing the armor. In our game, armor provide damage reduction regardless so is always useful.

Option: for the first three categories, it makes sense to allow the player to choose a primary and secondary focus use. So, instead of COMBAT being attack rolls with damage secondary, you could reverse it to deal more damage, but have attack rolls secondary. MAGIC as spell attacks (and maybe damage) as the larger bonus, with the secondary being for Spell Save DCs works, too. With this option, non-proficient saves and checks would always be secondary.

The bonus progression would be:
View attachment 151124

The Best progression is reserved for special situations, such as a PC with Better Skills adding Expertise to a couple of them, and for exceptional creatures.

Below are the unique groupings and a first draft of the classes I associate with them. Obviously many people might place classes in a different place, so if you have an argument for a switch let me know.

View attachment 151125

Finally, this is a (+) thread. I know many people like the simple, universal proficiency bonus, and I can respect that if you do. This is an idea I would like to explore with others who might also want to support such a system. I know it is a bit of a throw-back to prior editions, and if I went forward I would have a lot of work to do implementing it with creatures, etc. if I didn't want to just assume they were universally "average" at everything.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and any contributions to the discussion. :)
I think 3.5E is a better starting point for this than 5E is.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
DC and ATK are alternatives not complements; you get to pick.

ATK and DEF are complements; you don't get to pick.

(# and Level of Spell Slots), (DC/ATK), and (Known Spells) 3 different features of magic that are complements. Known Spells experiences diminishing marginal returns.

Really, (Combat=ATK+DEF), (Skills and Class Features as one), then each of the 3 categories of Magic are almost "balanced" against each other.

Like, would you rather have 9th level casting with 3 spells known and DC 13/+5 ATK, or every single (non-Combat) Ranger class feature?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Hmm... so with the non-magic categories, how many do you have altogether then? It looks like you're suggesting 5?

If I am understanding you correctly, it would seem like you would have to focus on three magic, but combat would only be one and skills/class features one.

I see the direction you're going (I hope) but it seems like you might be putting too much emphasis on magic by having three categories for it...
 

Horwath

Hero
kinda like the idea.

maybe reduce the number of categories to 3. Good, Average, Bad or unskilled, trained, master.

also, I would not increase AC too much, you have increase in HP over levels for that.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
kinda like the idea.

maybe reduce the number of categories to 3. Good, Average, Bad or unskilled, trained, master.

also, I would not increase AC too much, you have increase in HP over levels for that.

I started with three and had just three categories at first: Combat, Magic, and Skills, but expanded it for a group to include Saves. Also, with things like Expertise, adding a "Best" group seemed to make sense. My first thought with fewer progressions was Expertise would allow you to add the average rating to whatever you already had, so maybe I could go back to that... :unsure:

I get your point about the AC, but we removed HP bloat, so having better ACs is intentional. We hit less often, making combat more exciting because when you hit it counts for more.

Thanks for your input! :)
 

Argyle King

Legend
So as to not derail the thread started by @Cadence, I would like to explore the idea of a class "focus", which would replace the combined ability modifier + proficiency bonus, as well as serve some other functions. This approach is somewhat similar to a "priority" system.

The categories are:

COMBAT: modifies proficient attack rolls, secondary* is non-proficient attack rolls, as well as damage
DEFENSE: modifies proficient saving throws, secondary* is non-proficient saves and AC
MAGIC: modifies spell save DCs, secondary* is attack rolls (and damage?)
SKILLS: modifies proficient checks, secondary* non-proficient checks

Each category would receive a rating of Better, Good, Average, or Poor, exclusively. I considered allowing ratings such as two Averages and two Goods, or two Betters, and two Poors, but I prefer the idea of forcing a distinct rating for each as those options would allow too many "middle grounds" and "min/maxed" PCs IMO.

Secondary bonuses are two ratings lower (see below), to a minimum of poor. So, if you have Better Combat, your Attack bonus is Best, but your Damage bonus is Average. This might change to just one rating lower, but I think two is erring on the better side of caution.

Note: for AC, your focus bonus would replace your armor if it is better than the AC bonus you get (equal to the armor's AC value - 10) from wearing the armor. In our game, armor provide damage reduction regardless so is always useful.

Option: for the first three categories, it makes sense to allow the player to choose a primary and secondary focus use. So, instead of COMBAT being attack rolls with damage secondary, you could reverse it to deal more damage, but have attack rolls secondary. MAGIC as spell attacks (and maybe damage) as the larger bonus, with the secondary being for Spell Save DCs works, too. With this option, non-proficient saves and checks would always be secondary.

The bonus progression would be:
View attachment 151124

The Best progression is reserved for special situations, such as a PC with Better Skills adding Expertise to a couple of them, and for exceptional creatures.

Below are the unique groupings and a first draft of the classes I associate with them. Obviously many people might place classes in a different place, so if you have an argument for a switch let me know.

View attachment 151125

Finally, this is a (+) thread. I know many people like the simple, universal proficiency bonus, and I can respect that if you do. This is an idea I would like to explore with others who might also want to support such a system. I know it is a bit of a throw-back to prior editions, and if I went forward I would have a lot of work to do implementing it with creatures, etc. if I didn't want to just assume they were universally "average" at everything.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and any contributions to the discussion. :)

How is this different than D&D 3.5?

Edit: Your version is certainly simpler. There does seem to be a similar underlying thought process though.

If a character chooses to be good at offense by sacrificing defense, how might ranged characters play into that? I believe there are players who might view that as a way to somewhat circumvent having a weakness by staying away from the enemy.

I'll need to read and think more.

I don't think it's a bad idea.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Reminds me a bit of The Dark Eye, the german competitor to D&D.
You still have classes you choose at start, but they only set your initial skills (including attack bonus) and how much it costs to raise said skills. After that everyone is free to raise anything with the XP you get, but for a fighter a point to attack is cheaper than for the priest.
Only magic is special, you need to have it at start to improve it.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
How is this different than D&D 3.5?
I got it more from d20 SW since I didn't play 3E for long at all, but used the d20 SW for a few years and loved it. Obviously, pretty much the same thing.

Edit: Your version is certainly simpler. There does seem to be a similar underlying thought process though.
Hopefully, and yes very similar.

If a character chooses to be good at offense by sacrificing defense, how might ranged characters play into that? I believe there are players who might view that as a way to somewhat circumvent having a weakness by staying away from the enemy.
Since Defense includes Saves as well as AC, it is a risky strategy to have poor defense simply because you plan to be ranged. Hopefully including Saves keeps it viable for ranged PCs.

I'll need to read and think more.
Please do and let me know your thoughts on further reflection!
 




So as to not derail the thread started by @Cadence, I would like to explore the idea of a class "focus", which would replace the combined ability modifier + proficiency bonus, as well as serve some other functions. This approach is somewhat similar to a "priority" system.

The categories are:

COMBAT: modifies proficient attack rolls, secondary* is non-proficient attack rolls, as well as damage
DEFENSE: modifies proficient saving throws, secondary* is non-proficient saves and AC
MAGIC: modifies spell save DCs, secondary* is attack rolls (and damage?)
SKILLS: modifies proficient checks, secondary* non-proficient checks

Each category would receive a rating of Better, Good, Average, or Poor, exclusively. I considered allowing ratings such as two Averages and two Goods, or two Betters, and two Poors, but I prefer the idea of forcing a distinct rating for each as those options would allow too many "middle grounds" and "min/maxed" PCs IMO.

Secondary bonuses are two ratings lower (see below), to a minimum of poor. So, if you have Better Combat, your Attack bonus is Best, but your Damage bonus is Average. This might change to just one rating lower, but I think two is erring on the better side of caution.

Note: for AC, your focus bonus would replace your armor if it is better than the AC bonus you get (equal to the armor's AC value - 10) from wearing the armor. In our game, armor provide damage reduction regardless so is always useful.

Option: for the first three categories, it makes sense to allow the player to choose a primary and secondary focus use. So, instead of COMBAT being attack rolls with damage secondary, you could reverse it to deal more damage, but have attack rolls secondary. MAGIC as spell attacks (and maybe damage) as the larger bonus, with the secondary being for Spell Save DCs works, too. With this option, non-proficient saves and checks would always be secondary.

The bonus progression would be:
View attachment 151124

The Best progression is reserved for special situations, such as a PC with Better Skills adding Expertise to a couple of them, and for exceptional creatures.

Below are the unique groupings and a first draft of the classes I associate with them. Obviously many people might place classes in a different place, so if you have an argument for a switch let me know.

View attachment 151125

Finally, this is a (+) thread. I know many people like the simple, universal proficiency bonus, and I can respect that if you do. This is an idea I would like to explore with others who might also want to support such a system. I know it is a bit of a throw-back to prior editions, and if I went forward I would have a lot of work to do implementing it with creatures, etc. if I didn't want to just assume they were universally "average" at everything.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and any contributions to the discussion. :)
I like this idea but I think this falls down largely on the charts/specifics. I think critiquing specifics is within remit for a + thread so I will go on but if you feel otherwise, let me know and I'll duck out.

So like the two main problems I see are:

1) The primary/secondary thing doesn't make a lot of sense, doesn't seem connected to the rest of the design, and adds complexity without seeming to add anything interesting. Can you explain what the thinking is there a bit more?

2) Almost all the arrangements on the final chart seem wrong to me, like antithetical to D&D. For example, you have Clerics as good at combat but mediocre as defense, which rings rather false (traditionally the reverse is true). You have Druids as bad at combat, but good at defense and mediocre at skills, which rings even more false. I think I get what you're going for here but it's a poor fit for both D&D traditions and how 5E approaches classes at the moment, especially with stuff like Clerics better at fighting than Monks and Rangers only being "Good" at combat is like some sort of brutal satire and will combine with inherent weaknesses of the classes to ensure they're back to ineffectiveness.

It also kind of looks like you're against having two classes with the same layout? What's the reasoning there? I think the chart could reflect D&D and classes a hell of a lot better without this apparent decision, which at a glance seems solely aesthetic rather than balance-motivated.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I think critiquing specifics is within remit for a + thread so I will go on but if you feel otherwise, let me know and I'll duck out.
FWIW, I have no problems with critiques and am happy to discuss criticism of an idea. If the discussion reaches an impasse, there is obviously no use in continuing it, but such discussion can certainly lead to better ideas as well, so I am all for that!

1) The primary/secondary thing doesn't make a lot of sense, doesn't seem connected to the rest of the design, and adds complexity without seeming to add anything interesting. Can you explain what the thinking is there a bit more?
Two-fold really. First for balance in the secondary. For example, allowing damage to be as high as the attack bonus would be too strong IMO. The pairing/order could certainly be off as this was a first draft. Also, the idea of allowing the player to choose which is primary and which secondary allows for another decision point.

2) Almost all the arrangements on the final chart seem wrong to me, like antithetical to D&D. For example, you have Clerics as good at combat but mediocre as defense, which rings rather false (traditionally the reverse is true). You have Druids as bad at combat, but good at defense and mediocre at skills, which rings even more false. I think I get what you're going for here but it's a poor fit for both D&D traditions and how 5E approaches classes at the moment, especially with stuff like Clerics better at fighting than Monks and Rangers only being "Good" at combat is like some sort of brutal satire and will combine with inherent weaknesses of the classes to ensure they're back to ineffectiveness.
Again, first draft. ;)

And as I wrote in the OP, this was just my quick glance at putting them in different places. Depending on your views it makes sense that you feel certain classes would fit better elsewhere, so no issues with that.

Ultimately I think going with the idea of choosing your priorities instead of it being class-dependent is probably best. This way your Cleric might be good at defense, but mine might be better at combat and not as good with defense. Do you think that would be better? Allowing the player to choose instead?

It also kind of looks like you're against having two classes with the same layout? What's the reasoning there? I think the chart could reflect D&D and classes a hell of a lot better without this apparent decision, which at a glance seems solely aesthetic rather than balance-motivated.
90% it just worked out that way, and I wanted different classes to keep the strengths and weaknesses different. Again, this is just me against sameyness whenever I can avoid it. :D
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Hmm... so with the non-magic categories, how many do you have altogether then? It looks like you're suggesting 5?

If I am understanding you correctly, it would seem like you would have to focus on three magic, but combat would only be one and skills/class features one.

I see the direction you're going (I hope) but it seems like you might be putting too much emphasis on magic by having three categories for it...
I think there's probably some room for tweaking, but I think making magic require a lot of investment is a good fit for the overall D&D paradigm.

I mean, going back to classic D&D, the wizard had to sacrifice pretty much everything, hit points, attack progression, item use, and level more slowly, just to be the best at magic. Requiring a purely focused caster to invest their "stats" entirely into magic fits into that mentality.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I think there's probably some room for tweaking, but I think making magic require a lot of investment is a good fit for the overall D&D paradigm.

I mean, going back to classic D&D, the wizard had to sacrifice pretty much everything, hit points, attack progression, item use, and level more slowly, just to be the best at magic. Requiring a purely focused caster to invest their "stats" entirely into magic fits into that mentality.
Well, I think if I keep "Combat" separate from "Defense" (with some tweaking like you said), making "Magic" into two categories: "power-level" (i.e. spell attacks and spell save DCs) and "amount/progression" would be good. I don't want too many categories, certainly no more than six, and this would bring me up to five...
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top