D&D General Vote Up A 5e-alike, Part 1: Tone -- Gritty/Low Magic

How do we want to do gritty/low magic?

  • Poll closed .


I've always liked the idea that crits inflict wounds, including attacks that count as crits. Having a wound would be a thing outside of hit points, and how many wounds you can take before you're actually in danger of dying would be determined, say, by your Con bonus (minimum 1 of course).
That's a cool idea! They wouldn't be particularly common unless you roll a lot of dice in a session, but they'd be common enough to be potentially very dangerous--especially if there are abilities that increase your crit range.

It would also be a good way to separate mooks from more dangerous villains. Your siege-weapon-fodder wouldn't have Wounds and would go down when you get all their hp, but your bosses would actually be very hard to kill.

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A more gritty tone feels like it needs to change the casters to half casters, limit classes to wizard / cleric, and limit spells to hardly no damaging spells and cap limits to 3-4th level with a chance to learn something higher but mostly a scroll or such. To counter this, add some other features to casters that allow them to specialize in a spell to boost damage or add more targets, similar to metamagic. Maybe some features to speed up the healing or learn more skills and something from other classes. I'd keep cantrips but half the damage and flavor them different like having an arrow fly at the target instead of creating a bolt of fire.

I like to have most of the big monsters be giants and trolls and such. I feel it leads to a more medieval flavored setting even if typical European fairytales.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Well, more limited-magic than grounded. D&D magic is just everywhere, especially with the PCs, and IMO, that makes magic very un-magical.

Like, look at the D&D movie. Technically, the party should have had three full-casters (sorcerer, druid, bard) and one half-caster (paladin), but only Simon the sorcerer really cast spells; Doric was limited to wildshaping, Xenk only did a smite (and lay on hands? I can't remember), and Edgin could have been a rogue with the Entertainer background for all the magic he used. There was lots of background magic, some of which was very powerful, but party was doing the adventure mostly without spells, which made their actions (and subsequent hijinks) a lot more fun and, well, grounded.

That's what I would like to see, but we'll have to see what the consensus ends up being.

Really? Huh--in my group, wizards are... not super-popular, but not unpopular either.
Its weird that a lot if folks want to watch that, but apparently don't want to play that.


Victoria Rules
Full casters are generally unpopular. I think it's mostly because my players are casual don't want to have to wade through a bunch of spell descriptions.
I'm going to go out on a short limb here and say this lack of desire to play casters probably makes your table rather unusual. :)
Maybe I will suggest: much shorter spell lists.
Or maybe have it variable: keep the full list but flag about half the spells as ones to ignore if you want a stripped-down list for your game.


Victoria Rules
Do you mean give full casters half-caster spell progression? Don't forget, 5e casters actually have fewer spell slots than their 1e/2e versions do.
Make it so a slot can only be used to cast a spell of its own level, period. No up-casting, no down-casting, no combining slots. You're out of 2nd-level slots for the day? You ain't casting any more 2nd-level spells until tomorrow no matter what you do. (the biggest thing that this - very intentionally - impacts is Clerics spamming cures, but it limits Mages as well)

At the same time, however, bring back the idea of many spell effects - range, AoE, and most notably, damage - scaling with caster level.
I've never been a fan of wild magic myself since it is often too lolrandom for my tastes.
Random is the point, at least the way I rationalize it: when you're trying to cast a spell, the first step is to gather up some magical energy. If you're interrupted during casting that energy is released in a manner unintended; and while it might just dissipate harmlessly it might also manifest as just about any effect you can dream up.
But I could definitely see some sort of backlash. In fact, backlash (or a wild magic table) could be done per magic school. Getting a fireball because you miscast silent illusion doesn't make sense to me, but having your illusion come alive, having it duplicate you but not be under your control, turning you into an illusion, etc., would make sense.
Yeah, that could work too, but it seems a bit limiting. Wild magic is perhaps the one place in the game where I don't want things to make sense; and having an interrupted illusion generate a cure (or cause!) serious wounds on some random bystander is fine with me. :)
I've seen a lot of suggestions for something like this over the years. Usually it involves Con indicating how many Wounds you have. What would you have as the hit point-to-Wound ratio? Or would it be that only certain types of injuries inflict Wounds?
The way I do it, and have since forever, is way simpler than that.

Everybody - including commoners etc. - starts out with a small number, usually between 2 and 5, of Body Points (BP); one's species determines the die size rolled for this and one's Con sets a floor but does not otherwise adjust the roll. Barring very rare circumstances such as outright loss of a limb, one's BP total never changes. The normal hit points you get for your class and levels are Fatigue Points (FP) and go on top of your BP to give your total hit points. Death is at -10.

When taking damage, once you've gone through all your FP you start taking BP damage - there's no specific Wound-causing system here - and BP are harder both to rest back and to cure up (BP cures roll smaller dice). If you go below 0 you can't be magically cured* above full BP at all for a length of time set by how far down you went, but can slowly rest back FP.

That's the short form of it. :)

* - except by a full Heal, which cures everything.


I'm the Straw Man in your argument
The last two of these are vital. As for the first, while I see rolled stats as vital I'm fine with the rolls being rearrange-able and using 4d6k3.

You're right; 3d6 is too low for 5e math. 4d6 works better.

Curious - why Warlock over conventional Wizard?
I like the idea of Warlocks with their Patrons over the Vancian Wizard. Just like the Cleric and their god, I think Patron dependency attaches the PC to the setting and gives them some extra flavor. My opinion is heavily influenced by seeing the DCC Core Rules Wizards in play at the table. DCC Wizards functions similarly to the 5e Warlock. (I'm nearly certain you know that though.)

I am aware of the Dying Earth DCC supplement, but I haven't bought it (yet!). My opinion may change.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The last two of these are vital. As for the first, while I see rolled stats as vital I'm fine with the rolls being rearrange-able and using 4d6k3.

Curious - why Warlock over conventional Wizard?
There is a strong love-in for warlocks over wizards here.

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