D&D General What Would You Base A non-OGL 5e-alike Game On? (+)


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Related to the other thread I started, but focused on mechanics. This is a plus thread, but “negative” replies about whether a mechanic would contribute to the “feel” of 5e are welcome. Just don’t be rude about it or talk down to anyone.

I have ideas about the following/here are the goals:

First: I would surmise that we want a fairly simple system, that is broad in scope, but has a definite identity and some assumed cosmology, and similar basic themes to D&D , like heroic fantasy, advancement from novice to epic hero, etc.

Second: We’d want resolution mechanics that focus on determining the outcomes of a specific action declared by the player.

Third: Mundane heroes that aren’t just doing reskinned magic but are making meaningful contributions to the action (with the same range of complexity as magic classes), and magical characters who are harnessing external or internal power to perform miracles, with distinct “powers”, and with different power sources having some degree of (at least implied) delineation, and a progression from simple at will tricks to “summon an Angel” type epic stuff.

Fourth: Classes and levels, and the ability to start out either fairly competent or as a “zero” and gain power over time. (5e does this by making level 1 pretty weak, but level 3 is quite competent and robust)

Five: A focus on diversity and inclusion in worldbuilding and inspirations.

My specific ideas will be in a follow up post.

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I'm not super interested in a different but similarly rules-heavy system that accomplishes what D&D already accomplishes. If I was looking for an alternative, I would want to see something that fundamentally reimagines a fantasy RPG, the way that Dread fundamentally reimagined a horror RPG. A replacement game would need to keep only these elements:

1. Fantasy setting compatible (so some sort of rules for magic and monsters).
2. Some sort of mechanism for character advancement and ongoing campaigns.
3. Some mechanism for adding chance into the story.

I might be interested in something that shared out the power of the DM more, so that the story becomes more interactive. I would be happy to see the many different types of dice replaced with something more elegant. I would like to see a system that really foregrounded role-play over combat (and during combat).

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Few reskin ideas I had so far this week

Proficiency bonus = Heroic Bonus (+2 to +10, or maybe half-level)
Dis/Advantage = Inspiration/Despair, they can stack on the same roll.
Trained: add HB => Expertise: consider a roll of less than 7 a 7 =>Mastery: a permanent Inspiration on the roll

No stat, just skills! Tests are made against a TN using 1d20+Heroic Bonus (if trained)+Ancestry/Class Bonus

Strong attack, Precision attacks, Magical attacks
Might (str saves), Fortitude (con saves), Reflex (dex saves), Cunning (int saves), Presence (cha saves), Will (wis saves)
Lore X, Tools X, Instrument X,
all the other 15 skills of 5e.

AC is based on armor only, with maybe a layer of DR.

Classes can be mostly the same, remove the ASI as part of the progression, give more real features.
Build maneuvers for all fighter archetypes (BM, AA, PW etc) Give more 4e-assassin-like powers to the rogue.

Reduce Rote Action (bonus action), make them less everywhere.

6 level system where you add your level to anything you're Trained in on top of the relevant Attribute Bonus. Each level has 4 tiers, on the last tier of each level you get to increase an Attribute Score by 2 or 2 Attribute Scores by 1.
All characters will technically start level 2, as Level 1 acts as the character creation process (tier 1 you choose race, tier 2 you choose a background, tier 3 you increase an attribute score by 1, and as mentioned previously tier 4 increases 2 attribute scores or 1 score by 2).
After that you choose your class to start level 2 at.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’d like to poke at alt dice mechanics, but I’m open to sticking with 1d20+mod against a DC.

So, my own game uses 1d12+Xd6 dice pool, and all checks are skill checks where the X above is the number of applicable skill ranks (plus or minus any advantages or disadvantages). The system uses numerical mods very sparingly, and resolution has a 5-step success ladder (total fail, mitigated fail, partial success, total success, critical success), so it feels pretty different from 5e before you even get into different models for PC options, differing focus, and different style of advancement.

So I don’t think I’d use that as the base chassis, necessarily.

I also like a 3d6, roll under attribute value + skill bonus. Give attribute numbers that make 3d6 have a good success rate, and circumstance bonuses and penalties go from 1-3, and force or allow rerolls of extreme results. Ie, with a +1 bonus, you reroll 6s. With a -1 penalty, you reroll 1s. (Because you want lower rolls)

That probably feels pretty different (esp with roll under), too, but I think it preserves 5e’s vibe of knowing fairly well what a roll will result in before you look at any modifiers.

I want to stick with class based, but I’m open to a different model that still makes characters that feel similar, and accomplishes the class building goals in the OP.

I figure different classes, with similar but different concepts, like priest instead of cleric, knight, archer, and swashbuckler instead of fighter, Jack or thief and assassin instead of rogue, etc.

I’d want to use a different mindset to determine what classes the game has. Like what you do, so a heavy beefy warrior that goes hulk smash is a Warrior, an armored defender/tactical-type is a knight, and a light and fast small weapons user might be a Swashbuckler. Ranged weapons expert is an archer.

Magic, I think is the hardest part. Making a whole spell list that remains 5e-like but isn’t “D&D spells” is a sticky wicket. And a lot of work.

My current idea is to delineate a specific number of cosmological areas (planes, moons, planets, “worlds”, whatever), with corresponding types of magic, and esoteric ideas that can be leveraged by priests, mages, esoteric scholars, etc, giving common threads that are easily understood and referenced to provide part of the “weird” and “wondrous” in the game.

For example:

13 types of magic, called Houses, and corresponding to elements of the cosmology themed on a similar paradigm to the zodiac. Each House describes a type of magic, a constellation and the section of the star field it “rules”, and a part of the cosmology (realms or worlds or whatever).

So, The constellation Ferruset rules over the 3rd House, and is the House of Iron, which relates to heavy metals, magnetism, the metallurgy, and governs magic that involves moving objects around affecting the properties of heavy elements.

Magic without a long spell list.

Rather than making every magical thing you can do into a distinct singular power, each magic type has 1-3 basic signs or glyphs that cost nothing to use so long as you have learned them. (Essentially cantrips)

You can combine glyphs to create a spell, and you can empower glyphs (including as part of a spell) by spending focus or energy or whatever. Spells can get complex enough that they take multiple actions or rounds or longer, and the really wild stuff might take an hour to cast and a good chunk of your daily energy to power.


I'm kind of with @Clint_L in thinking I'm not looking for another D&D that is not D&D because we do not like them. Pathfinder did that and what percentage did they bring over compared to what stayed and converted to 4e?

What would we need to have to make me want to come over and not just play Pathfinder. I like D&D and have the history of playing basically all my life. Is there a better system to cover all the things D&D does not do well.

What is better than the D20 mechanic? Maybe a 2d10 system to get more average numbers. Add a d10 when you have advantage and take one away with disadvantage. Do the same with skill checks.

Hit points. As abstract as they are, I'm not sure a system with flesh wounds and actual bleeding wounds would be better if you need to track more. Maybe an armor system that lets you negate damage to keep HP simple.

Races and classes are likely most core and keeping the feel of the LotR base from older editions would be good. I could be swayed with a leveling system change. People play to gain more power and like the 'sweet spot' of mid levels, so something that only goes to 10-12 might keep people in the 3-7 range longer if those XP needs are spread out.

Along the same lines is something that allows high level PCs to gather an army and rules that support that.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Other assorted ideas:

Berserkers: rather than a class based around this concept, it’s a trait anyone can gain that makes you harder to kill, harder to do mind magic against, and hit harder with melee or close basic attacks. A basic attack is an attack that doesn’t use any special abilities or the like, so regular weapon attacks, attack glyphs, etc.

Spells: Basically, a spell is a complex working of one or more types of magic that requires energy to accomplish. You can do anything that falls within the Houses of magic you are trained in, and that you have enough energy for, but the complex stuff is easier if you master it as a Spell.

Things that complicate a working are combining houses, and increasing things like range, area of effect, intensity (usually damage or healing value), number of targets, etc. let’s assume PF2 style actions per round.

Basic magical attack is melee or close, little ability to aim, small effect, using 1 house/skill/school of magic, and uses 1 action. You can spend 1 mana to increase one of those (range, damage, precision, or complicate with a second skill), without increasing the time it takes to cast. Each additional facet of the working adds 1 action to the working.

So, “Explosion” requires long range, accurate (choose a point or singular target without random chance of placement), large AoE, and combining fire and air magic, and you want it to do a lot of damage. So, it requires 3 actions, and at least 4 mana, but probably more to boost the damage to match DnD’s “fireball”.

I’ll tinker with this to simplify it.

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