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

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.
 

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Ixal

Hero
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

The High Aldwin
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

The High Aldwin
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

Uncomfortably diegetic
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

The High Aldwin
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...
 

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