Your 5E Hypothetical Variant

Zardnaar

Hero
Imagine if back in 2011 you get put in charge of D&D and can kinda of do anything you want.

1. The goal is to make a commercially successful D&D

2. Changes cant be to drastic so you're stuck with things like AC, hit points, 6 ability scores, saving throws etc.

3. Answer can't be "As 5E" unless you genuinely believe you thought of most of 5E's innovations before 5E was released or some of the late playtest packets.

4. Can't clone an existing edition, has to be different in a lot of ways.

You have to make a D&D not a love letter fantasy game based on your own preferences. Be as honest as you can in regards so you can only include stuff from 5E you like if you think you could have independently thought of it in 2011-12.

Back in 2012 I was playing OSR D&D and played Pathfinder briefly. 3.5 ended for us around 2009 or 2010 where I heavily houseruled it (banned stuff, replaced the magic item creation stuf).

Here is stuff I would not have done because being honest I would not have thought of it.

Archetypes
Feats optional/ASI's
Advantage/Disadvantage

Stuff I may have done

Unified Proficiency bonus of some sort ( I liked Star Wars Saga, played 4E)
Spellpoints on some classes, maybe the Sorcerer.
Capped ability scores (probably 18 or 25 though)
Some sort of background (Pathfinder and AD&D had something like this)
At will cantrips

Stuff I Probably Would have done

11 Classes, no archetypes, no warlock
75% chance of feats, 25% chance no feats (I wasn't sure back then)
Scaling damage spells. Remember the Warmage being broken? Nope me either.
No buy your own magic items (already done in late 3.5 houserules, used Spells and Magic from 2E)
Trimmed the 3.5 Spellist down, maybe not as far as 5E but problematic ones are bye bye (damage dealing spells are easy to judge)
3 Saves, fort reflex and will. 3 is easier than 6, all saves would scale
Magic/spell resistance would return as an absolute number (probably 6,11,16 on a d20 to beat)
Tweaked 4E engine (3.5, 4E and 5E are somewhat similar here anyway)
Smaller numbers, not bounded accuracy as such like 5E but somewhere between that and BECMI.
Magic items similar to 5E or 2E in style.

Some personal preferences from OSR games would not make it in, violates rule 1- the goal is to make a commercially successful D&D.
 

Xenonnonex

Adventurer
The thing is you the general you may think your ideas are great. One of the reasons why 5e is such a colossus is because of the extensive playtest cycle. You the general you need to be able to scrap ideas entirely and go back to the drawing board.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
The thing is you the general you may think your ideas are great. One of the reasons why 5e is such a colossus is because of the extensive playtest cycle. You the general you need to be able to scrap ideas entirely and go back to the drawing board.
Its a hypothetical, whats your ideas for example. You are the general if you think you would have thought of a 2 year open playtest in 2012 put it in.

I put rule 3 in there. Basically imagine its you in the drivers seat but you don't have the last 5 years of knowledge of 5E and you can't clone an existing edition and you can't say make D&D a skills based system as you personally like it. What would you do the same, differently? What would you have thought of or not thought of?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
The One thing I would have absolutely included:
The Condition Track. It just solves so many problems regarding control spells and status ailments.

Other things I would have striven for:
Streamlined characters (because things were getting crazy)
Simplified Monsters with transparent math (ala-4e).
At-will powers.

But realistically, the commercial success thing boils down to two points:
Nostalgia pandering, with tiptoeing around the questionable bits. (Which, of course, they realized)
Modernization, such as digital integration (5e is the first edition to achieve this properly, even if they had to outsource it after the launch), and social media presence.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
This may breech rule 2. But after 4e (But before 5e) I probably would have advocated for creating a system with only encounter/scene abilities and spells. That game showed that "Daily" abilities and spells were not the only way D&D could function. Of course 5e has sucked me back into the fun of (mostly) daily resource management!

But aside from this I agree with the posters above: at will abilities for all classes, backgrounds etc.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
The One thing I would have absolutely included:
The Condition Track. It just solves so many problems regarding control spells and status ailments.

Other things I would have striven for:
Streamlined characters (because things were getting crazy)
Simplified Monsters with transparent math (ala-4e).
At-will powers.

But realistically, the commercial success thing boils down to two points:
Nostalgia pandering, with tiptoeing around the questionable bits. (Which, of course, they realized)
Modernization, such as digital integration (5e is the first edition to achieve this properly, even if they had to outsource it after the launch), and social media presence.
Condition track like Star Wars Saga or something else?
 

Coroc

Explorer
The three saving throw fort, refl, will, maybe with feats like force of personality and intelligent reflexes so you can key will and reflex from charisma and intelligence, I would prefer that one.maybe with 1 strong save and 2 weak saves dunno if it would work out.

I definitely would have altered the weapon and armor tables to get them to a reasonably accurate historic equivalent.
Means Quarterstaff is d6 2handed only, you get short sword, arming sword(=d8 slashing 1h), bastardsword(=versatile Longsword), Longsword(=greatsword, 2h only)

Additional curved swords langes messer 1d6 1h, Kriegsmesser 2d4 2h.

Additional polearm Great flail 2d4

No nonsense like (studded) leather or ringmail anymore. instead linen, padded, brigandine, scale, chain (breast-,half-,three quarter-, full-)plate

Sword and buckler, or rapier and dagger, or two daggers, or maybe short sword and dagger as only viable 2 weapon builds, everything else is mumpitz with no base in reality except circus.

Dueling style should not work with shields.

Crossbows are far weaker than bows because of bow = 2 attacks except if you got xbow expert. They should be far stronger because they pierce armor, bows do not.
I rule around this that in settings renaissance and up techlevel no one uses bows whereas in archaic settings (tech level dark ages and below) no xbows exist.
Another option would be to leave the loading property in but give them advantage to hit and/or a drastic increase in damage dice. But I dunno how this scales with xbow expert.

Intimidate may also be keyed of strength, maybe dexterity, Constitution (dwarves)

Mountain dwarf only get +1 str not +2.
Reason: Dwarves are strong, but not stronger than humans.
Halforcs may be stronger than humans.

Well except for the three save thing those are houserules I use anyway so....
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I would have switched to spell points, but not the method used by the 3E psion. The number of points would be similar to HP, with significant costs between levels (and possibly some variation within levels, such as combat vs. utility). An option I would consider, but doubt a lot of people like, would be that all classes get some MP, because using some item abilities would cost MP.
 

Krachek

Explorer
I won’t have done anything good.

As final approval I would have make a veto on the -5/+10, and also a veto on the quicken eldritch blast. No way.

Bonus action is a mess, like say M Mearls, work a little more to get rid of it.

And a personal annoyance, concentration broken on damage. More annoying than useful.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I frankly probably would have gotten rid of most daily ressources... Healing Surges would have stuck around tho. Would have looked a bit more 4e-SAGA-ish as well. I'd probably have experimented with talent trees, with talents that were class specific, but others that were open to everyone.

I'd probably have kept the 'you get to choose something at every level, no boring dead level' style, but would have kept the number of option per encounter lower so as not to bog down things as much.

Probably more flat bonuses that are always on, but to different things so you can pick what you prefer. Like, if you're a caster, instead of getting a new combat spell you get to pick one to upgrade.

You'd have options to keep your fighter a dumb 'I swing my sword', but you would also be able to make a spell caster that just shoots blasts of flame. Simple shouldn't be wedded to a single archetype.

Rituals would have been emphasized as the long form magic where the more complexe effects happen so as to divorce utility casting from combat casting entirely with Wizards getting features to make it easier on them to use.

Skill Powers to make skill choice more fun.

Would have kept the well defined power sources and the transparent design intent of combat role, with clear secondary. Probably giving a unique mechanic to each power source and a more obvious style to combat roles so that the intersections of two is always a different feel. Also a better explanation of why certain Martial Exploits can't be used all the time to satisfy the grognards.

Clear monster math would have been a thing.

A new paradigm for magic item where you can use ressources to customize them so you can find random items but they aren't utterly useless to you if they're outside a specific parameter. I personally like the idea of the abilities of a magical weapon being in magical gems or something that can be moved from one proper socket to another, possibly with specific planar power sources that can't be mixed together.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I frankly probably would have gotten rid of most daily ressources... Healing Surges would have stuck around tho. Would have looked a bit more 4e-SAGA-ish as well. I'd probably have experimented with talent trees, with talents that were class specific, but others that were open to everyone.

I'd probably have kept the 'you get to choose something at every level, no boring dead level' style, but would have kept the number of option per encounter lower so as not to bog down things as much.

Probably more flat bonuses that are always on, but to different things so you can pick what you prefer. Like, if you're a caster, instead of getting a new combat spell you get to pick one to upgrade.

You'd have options to keep your fighter a dumb 'I swing my sword', but you would also be able to make a spell caster that just shoots blasts of flame. Simple shouldn't be wedded to a single archetype.

Rituals would have been emphasized as the long form magic where the more complexe effects happen so as to divorce utility casting from combat casting entirely with Wizards getting features to make it easier on them to use.

Skill Powers to make skill choice more fun.

Would have kept the well defined power sources and the transparent design intent of combat role, with clear secondary. Probably giving a unique mechanic to each power source and a more obvious style to combat roles so that the intersections of two is always a different feel. Also a better explanation of why certain Martial Exploits can't be used all the time to satisfy the grognards.

Clear monster math would have been a thing.

A new paradigm for magic item where you can use ressources to customize them so you can find random items but they aren't utterly useless to you if they're outside a specific parameter. I personally like the idea of the abilities of a magical weapon being in magical gems or something that can be moved from one proper socket to another, possibly with specific planar power sources that can't be mixed together.
I like a lot of SWSE as well but that's more for my hypothetical what if 4E especially on Fighter and Rogue.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I like a lot of SWSE as well but that's more for my hypothetical what if 4E especially on Fighter and Rogue.
The biggest flaw with SWSE, IMO, was how many talents were like "Take this once to do it once per day, take it more to do it more" and that was just dumb.

I feel like your character's core aspect should be something you can do all the time whenever appropriate. It's why we got at-will cantrips: if you're a spellcaster, you need to be able to cast spell all the time.

I think that's probably he principle I would work from: identify the CORE of each archetype, give it a mechanic to do it as often as possible, if not at will then under easy circumstances to trigger (like sneak attack) and just build outward from there with features that either enhance or modulate that core aspect.

People liked the Warlord and its commander strike? Let's do that the core of a class. One archetype gives better bonus, one archetype offers other types of action, for exemple.

Another thing I forgot: I'd keep the 4e principle that all spells should be attack roll. This whole 'some spell you roll, some spell the target rolls, sometimes nobody rolls' thing is just weird. You want to affect someone you get the dice roll.

Plus, everybody liks rolling dice, right?
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
In many ways SWSE has been my favorite d20 game. 5E is close, but more so because it is fantasy-medieval-based instead of Sci-Fi. Many of the tweaks I want to implement stem from SWSE... I sort of hoped 4E would go this route, but alas... :(
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Umm... I have little idea what you mean by this??? Elaborate, please? It is late and maybe I just need sleep...
We ditched BAB and the SWSE half level thing and used 5E proficiency thing.

We did change skill focused to expertise a'la 5E rogue class ability. It's a feat in SWSE.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I wonder how a SWSE inspired fantasy game would handle spellcaster... I suppose a bit like Force Talent where you have to make a check to use it?
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I wonder how a SWSE inspired fantasy game would handle spellcaster... I suppose a bit like Force Talent where you have to make a check to use it?
Depends if you built it from the ground up as it's own thing or D&D.

The force powers would use charisma and be like Sorcerers and Warlocks I suppose.
 

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