Level Up (A5E) What Interests You about "Level Up"?

Retreater

Legend
I got the physical books a week or so ago. When I sit to read them, I see mostly "this is just 5e" and I lose interest in reading. I realize that this is a feature of the system, and it relies on compatibility with 5e. But I'm having difficulty finding the reason to get excited about running it. [This is likely due to my being tired with 5e in general, and that LU isn't bringing enough new content to the table to revitalize my interest.]
A few examples...
  • I see magic item prices and I think "that's a cool little addition," but it's just a little layer I can add from the DM/Narrator side.
  • The creatures are mostly the same as the Monster Manual entries from what I can tell. They don't have like the cool recharge abilities and auras like 4e (or Matt Colville's recent Kickstarter). A goblin seems like the 5e goblin.
  • The classes seem largely unchanged.
What's your way in? Is there something that makes you say "wow! this is a big departure from or enhancement to 5e."? In short, I'm looking for that "killer app" to excite me about Level Up.
[Note: I'm not making any of these comments to criticize the designers and writers. I'm honestly curious about the hook of the product.]
 

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Some classes are changed more than others. Berserker is, in my opinion, significantly different from the barbarian - improved in every way, but it still feels right. Warlock (my most-played class) is more subtly different, but those subtle differences have an enormous positive impact on the class as a whole.

That’s a pretty specific answer to your question. For me, the draw to LevelUp is twofold:
1) I want more! More classes, more archetypes, more options at every level. I’m happy when I’m drowning in features - and A5e isn’t bloated, but even just the base rules are saturated with valuable player and DM content (not just content for the sake of it)
2) I think A5e tunes the 5e experience in a way O5e couldn’t - or was afraid to. I like a better, more polished product.

It also definitely helps that I feel pretty connected to the community here, which I cannot say about O5e.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The whole character creation thing, because of all the choices.

The other day, when I got the latest Gate Pass Gazette, I found that I really liked the new ranger archetypes. I decided to make one of them, without any other idea of what sort of character I was making--it was just playing around and didn't bother come up with a background. In putting together the heritage and gift, culture, background, and destiny, plus class/archetype, I found the choices created a large chunk of the character's background and personality for me. If I were to use this character for an actual game, it would be very easy to build on what chargen helped me make to fully flesh them out.

O5e has backgrounds, which I definitely like and I find them an improvement upon earlier editions, since it helps to, well, give your character some background. Along those lines, LU improves upon backgrounds. Every time I make a decision by picking an option, whether it's picking the heritage gift or choosing a maneuver, it helped me to think about why my character is that way.
 

xiphumor

Explorer
Character creation is big for me, and I’m a GM! There is so much customization available in the game! I honestly think it would be worth it for maneuvers and exploration knacks alone. I love seeing my martial players make the same kind of strategic choices that are usually reserved for casters. Even my player who insisted on playing a Human Champion Fighter (subclass imported from O5e) is really great about saying “I’d like to evaluate the threats around us right now” or even just using his insane passive perception to feel like a custodian for the other players.
 

Novak

Explorer
I came for two main reasons:

First, I think O5e characters and level progression are very uninspiring for most classes. I'm not an expert in O5e, but the main mechanisms of distinction for most classes seem to be subclasses, which I find very limiting. This is one area where I think A5e shines. There are a lot of decisions to make at every level for every class, and most if not all of them are meaningful. Font sizes aside, the number of pages dedicated to an average class is much larger in A5e than O5e.

This does come with some complexity, of course. There are no longer any "simple" classes, and the martials' Combat Maneuvers are effectively spells in a different hierarchy with different names and applicability. And I can't say I love every single ability and choice. But overall I like it a lot, and getting rid of what I don't is probably minor surgery. (One possible exception or area of concern are followers and strongholds-- for some campaigns they'll be brilliant, but for others not so much. And that's a big thing to take away from a Warlord.)

Second, I was interested in the expansion of the Exploration Pillar and the abstracted mechanics of Supply from the outset. Here, I want to stress that my verdict is still out for a number of reasons:
  • I only had a chance to skim the rules when the PDFs came out (which was a while ago, obviously) and have not had time to read deeply, since.
  • At first glance, they seem somewhat reliant on random encounters. I am not a fan of random encounters, I'm more a GM that likes even seemingly-random encounters to be somewhere for a reason. But in retrospect, I'm not sure what else I could have expected. So this is not a condemnation, just a realization that maybe what I'm looking for cannot be found.
  • But, on the other hand, the link I thought I saw between the Rest Economy and Supply (which, if I understand it, is basically the requirement that if you want to laze the day away with an extra long rest, you need to burn a bunch of Supply... or acquire Fatigue) is interesting and thought provoking.
  • Finally, I'm a little concerned that Exploration needs to be a near-constant presence, or the classes and options that rely on it become unviable. I.e., if my campaign structure is that levels 1-2 are in a town, levels 3-4 are exploration outside, levels 5-6 are in a big city, etc, does playing a Ranger or taking any knacks that focus on exploration make sense? Maybe, maybe not, but it's a concern and potentially exerts a lot of force over how I have to think about arcs, etc.
Basically, I need to read and very carefully consider the whole ruleset for Exploration and think carefully about what options it opens up for me, what options it shuts down, and whether my ideas for games fit comfortably with it.
 



delericho

Legend
I haven't had a chance to read any of Level Up as yet. But I'm mostly interested in seeing what they've done with the Exploration and Interaction pillars - those were, IMO, largely uncooked in 5e, so I'm hoping for an upgrade.
 

Jahydin

Adventurer
@Retreater
Thanks for starting this thread. I've been really curious what others have to say. Level Up is a really cool idea, but ultimately went all in with Ruins of Symbaroum (5E) due to familiarity and dark tone.
 

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
I've been interested in A5E since it was announced. The playtest only added to that interest. For me that interest was stoked because I like 5e as a framework, but I wanted a bit added to that framework.

My regular group though was interested, but not overly so.

So what I've done is go through the the books and did side by side comparisons for my group. I focused on character creation, the classes, the spells, and monster. I went through them and detailed the the O5E and A5E features and changes then talked with my group. Most changes we liked. Some we didn't (irresistible dance I'm staring at you). But overall we agreed the changes, even small were worth it.

Once we did that we looked at some of the new stuff, like journey mechanics. Again most of them we liked.

So overall we're all now very excited to fully switch over (we agreed to wait till this campaign is done)

Here's the things we like the most:
  • A more granular character creation: The Heritage/Culture option makes character creation a bit more engaging.
  • Character classes that are more fleshed out: The added non-combat options really give the classes more life. My group made a test party and one of my characters made a Berserker that was the party's face and it worked. Classes don't feel like combat machines with utility options added as an afterthought.
  • Exploration/Journey Mechanics: As a DM trying to make journeys interesting in O5E has always been work. Some classes can tend to steal the limelight. The new rules give a much better framework for keeping the players interested in a long journey.
  • Magic: A5E reworked most spells. Some of them saw nerfed power (some good, some bad), some saw increased power, but most saw greater utility, especially with the addition of rare spells.
  • Combat Maneuvers: This is a big one for most of my group, giving more tactical options to melee characters is exciting.
  • Monsters: I know you mentioned that the monsters don't have certain options you liked (such as recharge abilities), but they're actually pretty different. However the differences are often in small ways that may not be readily visible. Despite not switching over yet I have used some new monsters and overall much prefer them.
  • Encounter Design: As a DM I hate the O5E encounter design mechanics and math. I've always felt like it's too different from the CR system built in 3E for it to really use that name and they should have just designed a new set of mechanics. Playing around with the rebalanced rules in A5E has walked back most of my criticisms. It's easier to use and makes way more sense than the base mechanics.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I got the physical books a week or so ago. When I sit to read them, I see mostly "this is just 5e" and I lose interest in reading. I realize that this is a feature of the system, and it relies on compatibility with 5e. But I'm having difficulty finding the reason to get excited about running it. [This is likely due to my being tired with 5e in general, and that LU isn't bringing enough new content to the table to revitalize my interest.

A few examples...
  • I see magic item prices and I think "that's a cool little addition," but it's just a little layer I can add from the DM/Narrator side.
  • The creatures are mostly the same as the Monster Manual entries from what I can tell. They don't have like the cool recharge abilities and auras like 4e (or Matt Colville's recent Kickstarter). A goblin seems like the 5e goblin.
  • The classes seem largely unchanged.
What's your way in? Is there something that makes you say "wow! this is a big departure from or enhancement to 5e."? In short, I'm looking for that "killer app" to excite me about Level Up.
[Note: I'm not making any of these comments to criticize the designers and writers. I'm honestly curious about the hook of the product.]
I don't want to bash on your comment, but it gives me the impression that you just skimmed through the material without reading it.
LU's choke full of changes, some large, some small, but it has to be 5e compatible. You shouldn't expect too drastic changes.

That said, here's a few significant departures
  • races are heritages that can be freely mixed and matched (half-dwarf/half-dragonborn is entirely possible for instance). You don't get ASI from them, but you get some features (many are up to your choice), and at level 10 you gain a paragon feature.
  • cultures give yet more features, most with direct mechanical benefits, and play quite well regardless of the class
  • there are rules for destinies, which give both a different way to earn Inspiration and also a distinc mechanical benefit when you accomplish your destiniy
  • classes have been redesigned. Every class has way more choices than o5e, much more often. Just pick a 5e class and LU's equivalent, and see for yourself. For instance, you can have a Juggernaught Berserker (i.e. a heavy armored barbarian), RAW, from level 1, without losing any class feature (as opposed to 5e). Or you can have a Str focused armored monk (adept).
  • there are synergy feats, which combine and compound features for truly unique multiclass characters
  • there are feats to turn you into a vampire, or a werewolf, progressively.
  • Melee martial classes play totally different due to combat maneuvers, an entire layer that was non esistent in o5e. This alone is as significant as the "spellcasting" feature for pure spellcasting classes.
  • equipment is much more fully flashed out. There's also rules for materials, armor breaking, etc.
  • combat is more tactial and reactive. You can sacrifice a shield to negate a crit, or take strife/fatigue to negate a crit, but the penalties they imply become more and more burdensome. When dual wielding, if you have the extra attack feature, you can attack twice with your off-hand weapon using a bonus action.
  • Expertise has a different implementation, based as a variable sized dice, applicable both on skill checks and as a situational bonus also to attacks.
  • Getting to 0 hp causes longer term problems (strife/fatigue). You cannot recover from those except at havens.
  • there's an economy layer. Even in a very mundane campaign, there are ways to spend money, especially on strongholds and followers Strongholds are upgradeable, and can give ASI as well
  • there are rare versions of spells
  • monster math is right, especially the CR and EL computations. It's impossible to overstate how much better Monstrous Managerie is wrt core 5e MM.
  • there's an exploration pillar built in the game, and all classes have multiple exploration features unique to them. These are not ribbon features, and exploration is not a weird balancing mechanic among different classes (ranger)

And these are just a few on top of my head.
In all honesty, given the depth, amount and quality of LU material and 3rd party compliant LU material (shout out to Homebrew and Hacking, with point based systems to create feats, heritages and cultures), I see no point for me to purchase any more WoTC product, at least regarding game mechanics. If you have complaints about 5e's "shallowness" wrt 3.5, for example, LU will definitely fill up the void, while still mantaining the core tenets of bounded accuracy and quicker play.
 

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
One additional point about the monstrous menagerie that expands on comments made by both me and @lichmaster is that you have to look beyond just the stat blocks of the monsters. In most cases the stat blocks have changed, in some places significantly and in minor ways on others. However, all the monsters have additional lore, tactics, and other information that fleshes them out way better than the base MM does even if the basic stat blocks are largely unchanged.

Let's look at the Goblin from your example.

Base MM Goblin contents:
  • Introduction
  • Lore
  • Base Stat Block
  • Boss Stat Block
A5E MM Goblin contents:
  • Introduction
  • Lore
  • Legends and Lore (results of knowledge checks)
  • Encounters (fleshed out encounters at different DCs)
  • Signs (things the players can find that warn them of goblins in the area)
  • Lone Behavior
  • Group Behavior (broken into different biomes)
  • Names
  • Base Stat Block
  • Variants
  • Boss Stat Block
  • Warlock Stat Block
  • Warlock Variants
Now while all monsters in the Monstrous Menagerie don't have all of that (especially Boss stats, Variant stats, and group behavior) additional information they all have more than the base O5E Monster Manual provides.

This additional information is amazing when creating encounters and trying to make your world come alive.

It also shores up the biggest draw of A5E to me.

Reasonable Options.

A5E gives more tools for the players/narrators(DMs) to build from without creating "option bloat". And the options offered, while not pertinent in every situation, are useful across the board.
 

Retreater

Legend
Thanks for all the responses so far. It's going to take some time to dig through them (which was the goal of starting this thread). But feel free to keep them coming.
Well, if nothing else, "it's not different enough!" is certainly a change from people saying "it's too different!"
Being someone who isn't loving 5e at the moment would explain why I'd want LU to be a more radical change.
@Retreater
Thanks for starting this thread. I've been really curious what others have to say. Level Up is a really cool idea, but ultimately went all in with Ruins of Symbaroum (5E) due to familiarity and dark tone.
A friend of mine recently picked up Symbaroum (the original - not 5e version) and he was incredibly disappointed in the design, especially the balance issues. Not sure how the 5e version looks.
 

Retreater

Legend
Right now this is a theoretical exercise as I don't expect to be bringing any new system to the "table" for a while (literally, since I am not playing in-person). For me to try to introduce new players to a new system on a VTT, the game has to be thoroughly implemented and automated on the service - which is something I think that's still in progress on Foundry VTT. (I've tried setting up a sample game on there, and it's not doing what I think needs to be done for my needs yet.)
 

Anselm

Adventurer
I love this thread.

I came to answer and read through all the eloquent answers and realized that though there's probably a couple features that haven't been mentioned yet that I like, pretty much everything is covered.

If you all haven't posted reviews on dtrpg yet, you could probably just copy paste your comments there.
 

TheHand

Adventurer
My list is going to sound a lot like the ones above me, but I think our interests in LU are going to differ because you've said you're burned out on 5E, where-as I never was. I just wanted something that could 'spice-up' the game and bring in some of the features I missed from the controversial 4E era.
  • Combat Maneuvers: These are what drew me in to begin with. I was initially hunting for ideas to homebrew in a system that would give more tactical choices to martial classes.
  • Monster design: The monsters are not radical departures from O5E here, but they all tend to offer some interesting tactical variation. Couple that with Signs and Behaviors and now you also have some new narrative approaches to make monsters much more than 'sacks of hp and a club.' As an added bonus, the CR calculations make a lot more sense.
  • Journeys: If you're looking for something brand new out of LU take a look at the Journey and Exploration System in the Trials and Treasures book. I've begun to port portions of the system into non-Levelup, non-D&D games!
  • Marshal Class: Because my group missed the "Warlord" from 4e.
  • Character Creation: Cultures, Heritages, and Backgrounds add more flexibility and choice. The Class options likewise tend to expand the choices beyond their O5E counterparts, but can also be used with O5E subclasses pretty seamlessly.
  • Honorable Mentions: Item Crafting, Strongholds, Magic Item price charts, advanced options for tactical combat, Strife & Fatigue, Havens and Long Rests
But, again, having said all this, if you're really looking for something different than 5E I don't know that Level Up is going to scratch that itch. Level Up's stated goal isn't to be a radical departure but to give you features that will enhance your existing 5E games. I don't want to derail this topic, but maybe you (and/or your gaming group) need a true palate cleanser, like an entirely different game-engine or even genre. Either way, I wish you good hunting!
 

noodohs

Explorer
Lichmaster said most of what I want to say, so I'm not going to rehash all of that, but the main things that my friends and I are excited about are:
  • In O5e, pretty much everyone does everything. I know that is a positive for some people, but there's so little that separates each subclass and even some of the classes. It gets really boring over time. Level Up has taken more of a Pathfinder 2e approach where you can choose whatever features you want to make even two characters with the same archetype (subclass) feel different from each other.
  • Maneuvers. Martials are actually useful in Level Up! I'm so tired of saying, "It may surprise you to learn that I am going to attack and then attack again!" Now there are so, so many options besides attacking for martials.
  • Expertise is a big one that also allows for more variety. Maybe you are sensing a theme here with my interests :p But I particularly like that I can be good at a specific sort of arcana check while another player can be good at an entirely different specific arcana check rather than us both just knowing everything about arcana. This is especially helpful from a DM standpoint regarding figuring out what to tell each player.
  • Some of the monsters may not be radical departures, especially at lower levels, but the high-CR monsters are quite different. Compare the O5e Vecna stat block to the totally-not-Vecna stat block Level Up just put out, keeping in mind that they are the same CR. The official one is like eh, might be a mild challenge for a level 20 party; Level Up's version looks legitimately dangerous. O5e also has an obsession with every monster getting two claws and a bite when they attack, it has become a meme in my group at this point. Level Up seems much less afraid to trounce the players and that is a good thing. Shadow dragon is another great example, the ability for creatures to inflict strife/fatigue on a character mid-combat adds a new level of danger for sure.
  • It has an open game license or something similar, so my fellow players can use the web tools without having to buy everything. More importantly, it means that all of the content can legally be put into VTTs like Foundry, so I don't have to deal with hacky importers and things to try to force things to work, it's all just there.
  • Backward compatibility means that all of the O5e content that I have, both official and third party, can be plopped into a Level Up game with little to no fuss. Doesn't matter that mind flayers are proprietary, I can just port them over. It also means I don't have to rebuy a bunch of things, so that's nice.
Those are most of the major things we're looking forward to. The backward compatibility aspect also means that Level Up is going to completely replace O5e for us once our current campaign wraps up. There's just no reason to go back to it, Level Up is just better 5e, basically. If you're already in love with Pathfinder 2e and have other friends who will play it with you, I'm not sure there's much reason to switch to Level Up, but if everyone has been playing O5e, it's similar enough (to O5e) to make it relatively easy to convince them to at least try it.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Lichmaster said most of what I want to say, so I'm not going to rehash all of that, but the main things that my friends and I are excited about are:
  • In O5e, pretty much everyone does everything. I know that is a positive for some people, but there's so little that separates each subclass and even some of the classes. It gets really boring over time. Level Up has taken more of a Pathfinder 2e approach where you can choose whatever features you want to make even two characters with the same archetype (subclass) feel different from each other.
  • Maneuvers. Martials are actually useful in Level Up! I'm so tired of saying, "It may surprise you to learn that I am going to attack and then attack again!" Now there are so, so many options besides attacking for martials.
  • Expertise is a big one that also allows for more variety. Maybe you are sensing a theme here with my interests :p But I particularly like that I can be good at a specific sort of arcana check while another player can be good at an entirely different specific arcana check rather than us both just knowing everything about arcana. This is especially helpful from a DM standpoint regarding figuring out what to tell each player.
  • Some of the monsters may not be radical departures, especially at lower levels, but the high-CR monsters are quite different. Compare the O5e Vecna stat block to the totally-not-Vecna stat block Level Up just put out, keeping in mind that they are the same CR. The official one is like eh, might be a mild challenge for a level 20 party; Level Up's version looks legitimately dangerous. O5e also has an obsession with every monster getting two claws and a bite when they attack, it has become a meme in my group at this point. Level Up seems much less afraid to trounce the players and that is a good thing. Shadow dragon is another great example, the ability for creatures to inflict strife/fatigue on a character mid-combat adds a new level of danger for sure.
  • It has an open game license or something similar, so my fellow players can use the web tools without having to buy everything. More importantly, it means that all of the content can legally be put into VTTs like Foundry, so I don't have to deal with hacky importers and things to try to force things to work, it's all just there.
  • Backward compatibility means that all of the O5e content that I have, both official and third party, can be plopped into a Level Up game with little to no fuss. Doesn't matter that mind flayers are proprietary, I can just port them over. It also means I don't have to rebuy a bunch of things, so that's nice.
Those are most of the major things we're looking forward to. The backward compatibility aspect also means that Level Up is going to completely replace O5e for us once our current campaign wraps up. There's just no reason to go back to it, Level Up is just better 5e, basically. If you're already in love with Pathfinder 2e and have other friends who will play it with you, I'm not sure there's much reason to switch to Level Up, but if everyone has been playing O5e, it's similar enough (to O5e) to make it relatively easy to convince them to at least try it.
There are areas that I wish were more different & not so o5e compatible*, but having run it weekly since about two weeks after we got the rules several months ago I think that your assessment is off the mark. Others have mentioned things like completed crafting rules, reworked monster math, more granular characters creation /development, synergy feats, & modifications to classes like warlock... But it's much deeper than that. Many of the changes are seemingly small things that have a much bigger impact than they look like at first glance until you start looking deeper or see them play out at the table

In o5e multiclass dips are completely foreseeable rocket boot powered leaps towards punpun levels of charop idiocy, that's not the same thanks to many things like eldritch blast being a class feature that grows through selections made while advancing warlock levels. Sure there are some amazing synergy feats available to warlocks, but all of them require three non warlock levels & the resulting hybrids will be behind a straight warlock when it comes to being a warlock but ahead in other areas not really even an option to the straight warlock. Thanks to that granularity character a & character b are likely to quickly grow viscerally different at the table even if they are the same heratige background & class/archetypes at level one& archetype split level for the class

That kind of added forethought and small changes continues into areas like rules no longer being written to obliviate problems. Give someone a couple of levels of fatigue or strife & just don't provide a haven you'll find out real quick that there is almost no way to shed it outside some high cost once per month (?) strongholds. The same is true of recovering supply where there are no trivial outlsnder/goodberry level obliviation abilities.


Once you start reading more deeply into the rules yiu can see some of that. I'd suggest starting by looking at what fatigue & strife do with the foreknowledge that going down & coming back up from zero causes a level of fatigue while being crit while down can impose the attacker's choice of death save fails a evel of fatigue or a level of strife each attack. I'm out on My phone & can't give page numbers for that but the fatigue & strife is towards the back in tracked conditions & the rest in a section on getting crit while.... down(?)
* I think or hope delvers guide might be the place for some of them
 


There are areas that I wish were more different & not so o5e compatible*, but having run it weekly since about two weeks after we got the rules several months ago I think that your assessment is off the mark. Others have mentioned things like completed crafting rules, reworked monster math, more granular characters creation /development, synergy feats, & modifications to classes like warlock... But it's much deeper than that. Many of the changes are seemingly small things that have a much bigger impact than they look like at first glance until you start looking deeper or see them play out at the table

In o5e multiclass dips are completely foreseeable rocket boot powered leaps towards punpun levels of charop idiocy, that's not the same thanks to many things like eldritch blast being a class feature that grows through selections made while advancing warlock levels. Sure there are some amazing synergy feats available to warlocks, but all of them require three non warlock levels & the resulting hybrids will be behind a straight warlock when it comes to being a warlock but ahead in other areas not really even an option to the straight warlock. Thanks to that granularity character a & character b are likely to quickly grow viscerally different at the table even if they are the same heratige background & class/archetypes at level one& archetype split level for the class

That kind of added forethought and small changes continues into areas like rules no longer being written to obliviate problems. Give someone a couple of levels of fatigue or strife & just don't provide a haven you'll find out real quick that there is almost no way to shed it outside some high cost once per month (?) strongholds. The same is true of recovering supply where there are no trivial outlsnder/goodberry level obliviation abilities.


Once you start reading more deeply into the rules yiu can see some of that. I'd suggest starting by looking at what fatigue & strife do with the foreknowledge that going down & coming back up from zero causes a level of fatigue while being crit while down can impose the attacker's choice of death save fails a evel of fatigue or a level of strife each attack. I'm out on My phone & can't give page numbers for that but the fatigue & strife is towards the back in tracked conditions & the rest in a section on getting crit while.... down(?)
* I think or hope delvers guide might be the place for some of them
You just agreed with him all the way down.
 

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