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

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.
 

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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
Epic
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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