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D&D 6E YOU are in charge of the next PHB! What do you change?

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I think that the bard and the ranger both have been hit hard by 5E’s ”everybody’s got a little skill in all areas”. While it’s great that 5E characters can better cover gaps from missing classes in a party, both the ranger and the bard weren’t given abilities to keep them relevant and distinct.

I really think the bard’s Bardic Performance needs a boost - and should be able to be taken in a direction that augments their own actions or gives a party-wide boost; and that the bard can switch between the two as much as the rogue is expected to sneak attack.

The ranger is really hurt by the underdeveloped exploration tier. Their “wilderness” skills just don’t cut it in 5E, and they need more non-spell abilities so they aren’t the Two-weapon or Bow Fighter in Studded Leather With Awesome Hair.

Also, I think it’s a pity Rangers and Paladins didn’t get cantrips, if they’re going to be given spells. Lay on Hands and Smite really seem like they ought to be transferred to cantrips. Favored Foe and other wilderness tricks (Unerring Track? Swift Pursuit? Hunter’s Eye?) might help the ranger as cantrips.

I’m in charge! Personally I don’t change anything.
But I will use the old way: survey, play test, interview with popular streamer and content producer, all the answers are there!


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Not sure what ALL I'd do....but I'd start with this:

A very small set of spells every spellcasting class had access to (different for each class). Sub classes would add to that, so that different flavors of wizards were actually different from each other. I understand this would likely not be popular, btw.

I'd put A LOT more into clerics being different depending on what they worshipped. Why do they all kind of get the same powers? Again, this might not be popular, but I think moreso than the above.

I'd convert the paladin into a holy warrior class whose powers were, again, dependent on what they worshipped. Holy warrior is probably not the right name, more like "idea warrior"....this class does what it does for reasons, not for fame/fortune/whatever.

All fighters would have access to some set of cool things the rules say they can do.

I'd do something with the old skills thieves used to have, seems all jumbled now.

I'd go with lineage, culture, background. Background would be the most important thing for what skills you start with. I'm not sure how the heck I'd handle how an orc is different from a dwarf. Like, I think they are all people, but is appearance really the only difference? So complex...so complex. Culture would be where you grew up....like the city? or tribe? or underground? background is what you did there. Culture also gives you some skills (did you grow up travelling a lot? or in a farming area even if you didn't farm?).

But like I said, I'm not an FF expert. Does the FF Red Mage also focus on mind/illusion spells?
Nah, you got it in one. The Red Mage is a hybrid class. Can equip better weapons and armor than a dedicated spellcaster, and generally have stuff for quicker spellcasting, plus can learn a hybrid of spells from both black and white magic, but make up for it with lower stats and not being able to get the higher end magic the specialists get.


Ohhhh wow interesting. I always heard FF was based on early D&D but I didn't know it was that direct!
Oh, goodness, is it ever blatant. That wasn't super-odd at the time, the whole JRPG scene, which predates Final Fantasy by a bit, was doign it.

The original Final Fantasy has monsters like Mindflayers, Beholders, Tiamat, Bulettes, etc. The big baddies are the Princes of Elemental Evil.

The English version...changed a few names.

In the original Final Fantasy, the Red Mage is pretty transparently the BECMI Elf Class, the Black Mage is the standard Magic-User, and the White Mage is the Cleric. DOwn to specific weapon proficiencies and Spells.
I never was able to get through the early FF games, but I used to love a web comic about a Black Mage comic that used screenshots, as I recall. I'd love a reflavoring of the classes along these lines, as previously mentioned when discussing Ravnica's clerics.

Hmmm...given as I haven't actually played D&D in forever, and am mostly follow things for lore purposes, it is hard to say. I know I would personally like a more lore-centered PHB (though still have room for mechanics and stuff to, you know, help players). I realize this would probably deter people though. But I would like more pages dedicated to each race/species, their history (which can influence PCs), culture, the gods, cosmology, etc. That's what I always look for, anyway.


In general:
  • Wizards should try its damnedest not to leave anyone behind who liked 5E as it was. Ideally, nothing from the 2014 PHB should be removed, though changes are to be expected.
  • Every change from the 2014 PHB - even changes originating in later sourcebooks that seem broadly popular if you ask folks on forums, Reddit, or Twitter - should be run by the player base as a whole through polling. Any change that doesn't have overwhelming support (say, 75% or greater) should be left out of the core rules.
  • In addition, poll players for their favorite race, class, background, feat, and spell options from non-core 5E books - anything that gets at least 75% support should strongly be considered for inclusion in the core rules.
  • Changes in lore are fine, but it should be possible to reconcile any new lore with established lore. Retcons are preferred over reboots, and additions that contradict nothing previously established are preferred over retcons. (For example, adding more types of drow besides Lolth-worshippers is good. Pretending Lolth-worshipping drow never existed is bad.)
  • Alignment is retained, but it's explicitly presented as descriptive and not prescriptive.
  • Bonus actions are also retained.
Character races:
  • Changing the term to "species" is fine, but not required. Though if "race" is retained, it would be wise to clarify that it's as in "the human race" and not a reference to ethnicities.
  • Separate character race (physical traits) and culture (skills and proficiencies), with the latter replacing the current subraces. (Yes, this means traits such as innate spellcasting and Superior Darkvision will be treated as cultural differences.)
  • Every race and subrace from the 2014 PHB should be included in some form, and orcs should be added as a core race. (Duergar and svirfneblin would also be nice additions, but not required.)
  • Rewrite lore as needed to address concerns about real-life analogies, but without completely wiping away the established portrayals. (This will be a tricky task but worth it, I think. The player who wants to be the gruff dwarf or arrogant elf should still be able to do so without feeling like they're doing something wrong.) Integrating lore modifications from 5E's run, such as the elf lore from Mordenkainen's, is encouraged.
  • Every character race should present at least two cultures, with different recommended skills and alignments that are also described as flexible. More than two cultures each is even better. Emphasize that you can also ignore these default cultures and build your own, and that advice for such will be provided in the DMG. (Then live up to that promise.)
  • Floating ASIs are the default assumption, but every race and culture should have a recommended quick build for the +2 and +1, respectively (and it shouldn't just be "optimize them for your class").
  • There should be heavy playtesting and polling on how to handle humans. However, variant human remains a variant; feats are not core.
  • Cultures should be designed to be interchangeable between different races, and this should be encouraged. The classic half-orcs and half-elves are what happens when human PCs have orc or elf cultures applied, or orc or elf PCs have human cultures applied.
  • Integrate any Tasha's changes that meet the 75% polling threshold. Except for "fighting styles" that grant cantrips to non-casting classes, because that one just bugs me.
  • Subclasses should be recalibrated to all begin at level 1, with new traits being available at the same levels throughout every class. However, while now feasible, interchangeable subclasses should not be included in the core rules.
  • All classes should have at least three subclass options. I would strongly recommend adding the swashbuckler and hexblade to the core, at minimum.
  • Fighters should have a very simple assortment of combat maneuvers by default, but the bulk should remain exclusive to the battle master, which should also get more warlord-like features.
  • As tempting as it may be, do not replace the wild magic sorcerer's table with a heap of entirely useful options. Keep it weird.
  • The hexblade's features should either be integrated into the base class's Pact of the Blade, or (if hexblade is included as a core subclass) the Blade features should be made hexblade exclusive.
  • More space should be dedicated to the idea of clerics, druids, paladins, or warlocks losing their abilities if they stray from the path, and how to handle that, but also that whether or not this happens is something that should be decided by the DM and player before play begins.
  • Spell levels are called, well, anything other than spell "levels". Ranks, circles, tiers, something.
  • Bring back the one-line descriptions in the spell lists from 3E, because they were super handy.
  • Sorcerers don't get "named" spells (i.e. Mordenkainen's whatever), which become exclusive to wizards. Sorcerers either get similar (but distinct) replacements with general names, or (better yet) brand-new spells that wizards don't get.
  • Include more examples of play, especially for confusing elements like surprise.
  • Include tables in the back for randomly generating characters, because it's fun. Copying over the history tables from Xanathar's would be nice too.
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Ohhhh wow interesting. I always heard FF was based on early D&D but I didn't know it was that direct!
Final Fantasy was based on early D&D, though it has since developed its own tropes and archetypes. However, the Red Mage is not a Bard, which is a separate job in Final Fantasy. The Bard in Final Fantasy is a straight-up support minstrel and sometime archer (FFXIV).

Guild Wars 1 was based on Magic the Gathering, but instead of assembling a play deck, you are assembling a set of abilities for your PC and their companions and changing the loadout for missions. The initial five gods were based on the Magic colors too: Lyssa (Blue), Balthazar (Red), Melandru (Green), Dwayna (White), and Grenth (Black).


While there are innumerable details I might consider changing, there are a few philosophies I would want to adjust:
  • A focus on variable numbers of encounters
At the end of the day, this is my biggest philosophical beef with 5e....the notion that the balance of the game is principled around 6-8 encounters exclusively. That is very far away from the narratives I run in my games.

Similar to healing variants, I really want some strong thought to adjusting the game to a more 2-3 encounter model.... even if it is just a variant section of the DMG. I want a series of changes to classes and monsters to better fit my style of gaming.
  • A rework of concentration
I fully understand the reasons concentration exist, and they are good reasons. But mechanically, concentration remains a clunky mechanic. It can require lots of dice rolling, its very easy to forget if your not paying good attention....and it really limits the variety of spells I see in the game.

My players really chafe under concentration, and its probably the number 1 thing they complain about.

So I would like to go back to the drawing board here. Probably my number 1 thing is just split the two "types" of concentration into some other form. Currently there is the "we want this spell to be interruptible" and there is the "we want to limit stacking with this spell". Most spells don't need to be both, but by slamming both together in a single mechanic you create something that poorly serves both.
  • The middle ground of money
I don't want to go back to 3e's magic item shop, but I also think 5e has so little reward for gold that my players joke about gaining "useless gold". there needs to be a middle ground, something players can spend money on that gives them tangible benefits....again we don't need full magic item power here....but something to make all that treasure worth something.

  • 4e monster design
4e did a lot of wrong things, but monster design was not one of them...at least not by the later books. Monsters were interesting, with neat abilities. Further, the role system really helped the DM at a glance put together a competitive group against a party....because 4e recognized a fundamental dnd truth....it takes a party to beat a party.

5e monsters are quite boring in comparison

  • An index worth a damn
I feel like the indexes have been getting worse with each new edition, I get that this is not sexy....but my lord are the indexes bad sometimes.


Clerics are an accidentally-created class that have been a mess in in every edition and after 2E, been a borderline-OP mess. And yeah the line between them and Paladin has always been a confusing one. But I don't think D&D needs to be looking at drastic changes here, because at this point, it's become self-defining.
Sadly, yes. I would probably prefer a "white mage" or a unarmored/lightly armored priest class. There are obviously ways to do that in 5e (e.g., Divine Soul Sorcerer, Celestial Warlock, etc.), but they are not entirely satisfying ones for the archetype. I am glad that 4e began to walk back the heavily armor cleric a little bit.

The time for drastic changes was 3E, essentially, and Monte flubbed it - which is why he tried to re-write history with Arcana Unearthed (which I love, but is basically 100% an apology for 3E, or from another perspective a "What I actually wanted to do with 3E!").
I don't think this is an entirely accurate reading. It's a bit revisionist, and I suspect that it's because Monte Cook was simply one of the most prominent designers who talked about the game. But Monte Cook was not the lead designer of 3e. Jonathan Tweet was the lead designer. I believe there is even an article or forum thread here on ENWorld within the past year or so where Tweet talks about the design decisions behind the 3e Cleric. I don't think that's something that can just be pinned on Cook as if he were the scapegoat of 3e's questionable design choices.

I don't think videogames are a good model to pursue with tabletop RPGs though. Videogame class divisions are serving a different purpose, a lot of the time. Thinking about classes as roles can have some value, but in the end, historically videogames have tended to divide stuff up in order to do things like force people to reroll their character a lot and spend more time playing their game, or to really simplify concepts because they were too hard for players, and obviously I think we all know any non-combat aspects of classes in videogames tend to get stripped away (slowly but surely) and replaced with more combat-oriented functionality, which again tends to point them towards narrow focuses.
Even if video game RPGs are designed mostly about combat, I think that video game designers understand that people are drawn to play certain class archetypes/playstyles and design their classes accordingly. I have been playing TTRPGs for 20 years, which is admittedly not long in the grand scheme of things, and in that time nothing has changed. There is nothing new under the sun. I have time and time again seen players - even those who have years of experience playing pen 'n' paper TTRPGs - say they "want to play a class like X___" where X is a class or archetype from a video game: e.g., "How can I play a Diablo 2/3 style Necromancer in D&D?" or "How can I play a super heavily armored warrior?" Class playstyle and fantasy is important to a lot of players.

WoW, for example, has like 40-ish subclasses, most of which play like entirely separate classes - I think it's quite a good example of how videogames tend to keep separating stuff out and separating stuff out.
The WoW specs are more akin to subclasses. You still get a lot of core class abilities and mechanics. FWIW, I don't think it's that far removed, for example, of the Eldritch Knight and Champion Fighter subclasses playing quite differently or likewise the Swashbuckler and the Arcane Trickster Rogues playing quite differently. Not every class has good subclass distinctions in D&D 5e. (I'm looking at you Wizards).

However, one of the reasons why Warcraft has the design it currently does with its specializations was because people wanted their specializations to be equally viable and the team wanted each specialization to embrace different class fantasies and layered mechanics. IMHO, even if the different specializations of druid, for example, play differently, they still very much feel like playing the Druid, though in the early days of WoW (Classic & BC) there was more form shifting than present.

Talking of Clerics, WoW does a kind of interesting thing, I think more naively than consciously, which is that the Paladin in WoW is basically both the D&D Cleric and the D&D Paladin, pretty clearly, but the Priest is a separate class entirely with is more like a combination of 4E's Invoker, and 3E/4E's Psion, with a bit of a Far Realm theme to the some of the Psion stuff.
Again, see the Starfinder Mystic, which is part priest, shaman, druid, and psion.

If there was a start-from-scratch approach that didn't need to follow the game's legacy, I would consider adopting something like this that distinguished between the heavily-armored Paladin/Arcana Evolved Champion and the lightly-armored, wisdom-based Mystic that you could layer a Priest, Shaman, Healer, Psion, etc. on top of.

The ranger is really hurt by the underdeveloped exploration tier. Their “wilderness” skills just don’t cut it in 5E, and they need more non-spell abilities so they aren’t the Two-weapon or Bow Fighter in Studded Leather With Awesome Hair.
Hey. They don't even get the awesome hair!.

No wonder people aren't happy with the Ranger!

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