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


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The more this gets discussed and I have time to think on it, the more I think I’ve got my basic model and goals.

  • Simplified low level chargen, but simple but meaningful choices as you advance
    • Much simpler classes, basically a starting package with scaling features and maybe 1 new feature every 3-4 levels.
    • Each class has a couple few fundamental choices, like rogues choose between being a jack of all trades or a swashbuckler/acrobat. The Warden chooses essentially whether to be an arcane or divine ( gish, with a Mark that can be used offensively or defensively.
    • Feats come in two tiers, lesser and greater.
    • Archetypes are basically greater feats, multiclassing can be done with either/both
    • Ancestry and Upbringing help define you, but aren’t huge. Upbringing similar to background and culture, provides languages.
  • Skill system as the core resolution system, replacing all the fiddly little individual systems for resolving different things
    • Each type of magic a skill, and Each group of weapons (one-handed, light thrown, heavy thrown, polearms, shield, off-hand weapons, bows, etc) a skill or a category that works like skills but is distinct to avoid confusion wrt whether you can ignore social skills to have nothing but weapon skills
    • Every “skill” has at least two basic actions associated with it, and a 1-paragraph description of what kinda of things you can do with it.
    • “Upcasting” is built into the basic actions, but part of the description could also be “more powerful actions might increase in scope, or direct power, at XYZ rate”
      • Example; Pyromancy would have the ability to yeet a burning pinecone at someone, or whatever, and would have language as to what vectors can be increased by what degrees with each unit of increase resource spend

  • Magic and martial abilities remade into skills, and unified into a coherent system, without losing spells or making martials feel like wizards
    • Spells and techniques both draw from one resource, like ability pools or a derived statistic like Will which comes from con and wisdom or whatever
    • Spellcraft and techniques are player-driven, ie there are example spells for each magic skill and techniques for each martial combat style, but it’s a short list. Instead players create spells and techniques in-character, either by figuring out a need, or improvising more complex uses of magic skills, etc, or by collaboration.
    • More types of magic, more distinct weapons.

  • Core mechanics that support ease of play with depth of potential mastery. Easy to learn and satisfying to master? Is that the phrase?
    • Skills are dirt simple to learn the basics of, with a high level of depth. The text of the mechanics of the game is not huge.
    • PCs roll defense, NPCs don’t roll attacks. This way anything trying to hurt you uses the same methodology, and PCs make most of the rolls.
    • Maybe distance in zones?
    • De-fiddle stuff like special vision. You either have the special sense or you don't. Only something like tremorsense and maybe blindsight should have a defined distance
    • Still need to go over the basic rules kernel that runs 5e and find the stuff that only serves to increase complexity with little benefit. Ya know, stuff like how movement used to work before 5e. I'm blanking on what elements of 5e have felt that way to me, but I know they exist.

So! Anyone else like these design goals and ideas?

i do have some even more radical ideas, like replacing the numerical bonuses with dice, so your ability scores would be ability dice ranging from d4 to d12, as would each of your skills, so an expert acrobat at high level might be throwing d20+2d12, rather than d20+15 or whatever. It's a spicy concept for dnd, as part of the charm could be argued to be that your high level skill monkeys are throwing modifiers around that mean they can only fail on nearly impossible tasks, and this would make it so you can always hypothetically roll a total of 3.

I also had the idea the other day that you could have a die that you roll when you get hurt, that effectively replaces your HP? I'll try to find it. I think it was in @mellored 's thread about crowd-sourcing a 5e-alike.

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