[5E] Restructuring Powers: Power Schools

A big thanks to TheMormegil, who provided this helpful TL;DR version for those just coming in.

- The lack of flavor in the power system, the inherent modularity of the ToB disciplines and the different feel granted by the combination of disciplines and recovery mechanics make the ToB's manoeuvre system strictly superior to 4E's power system, having virtually all the pros and less cons.


- By expanding the concept of disciplines into "Power Schools" you can create a flavorful, extremely modular and easy to balance system for all classes.


- Each power source differs from the others for its readying mechanism (changing the way the classes of that power source gain access and refresh their powers). Each class differs from the others by having a unique school that only that class can access, a different set of accessible schools and different class features that alter the way that class is played. The details can be worked out in time and with testing.


- The possibility of being able to expand the system easily is one of its major draws, either with new books containing schools, classes, powers, or even through homebrewing (something 4E definitely lacks).


- The separation of offensive powers and utility effects grants a nice balance both in and outside of combat, while allowing each class to have its own flavorful options for out-of-combat situations.

 



One of the big flaws of 4E's power system is the lack of flavor, especially in the higher-level powers, and how it bloats the system with repeat powers.  Every martial class with a "+2 to hit, no Str to damage" at-will has to repeat it, every class has a set of encounters that repeat themselves writ stronger every tier.  If two classes have a nigh-identical power, it has to be repeated across both classes.  This takes up a lot of space and restricts high-level powers from being as grandiose as they should be.

Lately I've found myself looking over my 3.5 books, and in particular at Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords and its various expansion packs on GiantITP and other websites.  That book is, in my opinion, superior to the current powers system for three major reasons:



  • Flavor: Every school in the book is clearly distinct from every other school, and every technique within that school is distinct from every other technique within that school.  While some are stronger versions of weaker maneuvers, the higher-level abilities are also increasingly grandiose in their effects, progressing from slight boosts to normal attacks to magnificent finishing moves that do far more varied things than just add on damage or inflict a one-round penalty.  Where a wizard goes from being a lowly apprentice to an archmage, a warblade goes from being a particularly skilled fighter to being superhuman, exactly as high-level play should be.  Each maneuver being its own technique and part of a larger library of techniques made them wonderfully fun to roleplay as well.




  • Modularity: Each of the Nine Disciplines exists independent of the classes.  Classes are defined by their class features and what disciplines they have access to, and each class has at least one signature school that neither of the others gets.  This has made the book incredibly popular to expand on, with new classes having large amounts of work already done for them just by virtue of being able to declare an existing discipline as available to them.  At least ten new disciplines have been homebrewed just off the top of my head, and all of them had room to distinguish themselves from the others out there.  Adding them to play was just a matter of saying "this class can use this discipline".




  • Functionality: Maneuvers being broken into stances, boosts, and strikes is like what the Slayer tried to do, only far richer and more rewarding to use.  Each maneuver is on its own a perfectly good technique that's very fun to use, and players can construct their own signature move by combining a stance, boost, and strike that they find fit together well, from one or multiple disciplines.  Maneuvers are roughly balanced against each other, and the recovery mechanic means players aren't afraid to use them, recover them and use them again.  Each class's recovery mechanic and discipline list makes it play differently from the other two, while all three are overall balanced very well against each other.  They make fights dynamic and fun.


With that in mind, how can we look at this and create a powers system that captures that same essence, while making classes and power sources distinct from one another?  The answer is to think of powers as belonging not to classes, but to schools, libararies of techniques magical or mundane that share a common style or motif.  Arcane magic already has seven schools: abjuration, divination, necromancy, evocation, illusion, enchantment, conjuration.  The notion of power schools takes this concept and expands it to everything.



Power Schools and Class Structure

Classes under a power schools system consist of a chassis (HP, defenses, skills, proficiencies), class features (at least three-four at 1st level and one every five levels thereafter), a powers known/readied progression, and a list of schools known.  Classes are defined largely by what class features they have, the fundamental elements all members of that class share, and the list of schools they know, that is to say what styles of combat they are proficient in.  Every core class should have at least one school that no other core class has, but the rest may be shared with other classes, and later classes might get a core class's unique school if it somehow fits them to know as well.


Power Schools and Power Sources

A power source defines two things about a class.  The first is its recovery mechanic, the way in which it regains its powers.  The second is what its powers are called, and what power schools in general it is likely to have access to.

For instance, martial classes have powers called maneuvers.  All martial classes can use a minor action and spend a turn not using any maneuvers besides active stances, though they may still use their basic attack, and at the end of their turn all of their expended maneuvers are refreshed.

Arcane classes have powers called spells, and recover their powers by spending a minor action and then taking no other actions besides moving during their turn.  At the end of their turn, they recover all expended spells and can reselect what spells they want to have readied from the list of all spells they know, as they rearrange the magical formulae they can bring to bear.

EDIT: Divine classes have powers called prayers, and their deity plays as much role in deciding what they get as they do.  Like other classes, they ready a selection of prayers from the larger list of prayers they know, and at the beginning of an encounter immediately gain three less than this number for use.  At the end of each turn, they gain another prayer from the ones they didn't get at the start, and when this pool runs dry they instantly gain a fresh set ready to use again.  This gives them a continuous stream of prayers with no need for pause but with less control over what exactly they get than other classes.  Class features may allow divine characters to select a certain number of prayers from their list as favored, and these are always granted at the start of an encounter and whenever their prayers would refresh.

Psionic classes have powers called manifestations, and they must shuffle what parts of their mind they bring to bear so as not to overstrain themselves.  Once a manifestation is used, the part of their mind associated with that school needs to rest, and they cannot use a manifestation from that school again until they use a power from a different one first.

While power schools all have an associated power source, this does not affect how the power actually works.  A martial character who learns a spell through multiclassing still uses their own refresh mechanic for the spell, and a cleric who learns a martial maneuver simply adds it to the list of prayers his deity might grant him.


Contents of a Power School

A power school consists of multiple level-based tiers of techniques, with three-five options per tier, that form a common theme.  For instance, the rogue has knowledge of the school Steel Serpent, initially available only to the rogue, that consists of a number of techniques built around stealthy fighting, thrown weapons, and assassination techniques that grow in power, flash and scope in the higher tiers as the rogue progresses from a common thief to a grandmaster to a living legend.  When selecting maneuvers known, a rogue can pick any Steel Serpent technique he meets the prerequisites for.  New tiers are available every odd-numbered level, with most classes learning a new power known every level and gaining an additional readied power every even-numbered level.  Where a low-level Steel Serpent maneuver might be the classic +1d6 sneak attack, an epic-level maneuver allows the rogue to flit around the battlefield like a ghost, appearing from seemingly nowhere and disappearing just as easily, stabbing his opponents with a knife whose swiftly-applied poison will surely cripple them if the blade itself does not do the job.  A wizard who focuses his studies upon the Evocation school progresses from simple balls of fire to prismatic storms that change the very shape of the battlefield.

Multiple classes may know a school.  For instance, while only rogues know the Steel Serpent school with its great acrobatics and mastery of stealth, and only fighters know the Iron Heart school with its demonstration of pure athletic skill,  both classes may practice the Diamond Mind school, which encourages use of battlefield intuition and fighting smarter than the enemy.  While only sorcerers may practice the powers of heritage afforded to them by the Dragon's Heart school, their powers over the traditionally arcane are restricted to the bright and flashy Evocation and Illusion schools.  While wizards cannot attain the power of dragon blood, their studies afford them mastery of Evocation, Illusion, Conjuration, Necromancy, Divination, Enchantment, and Abjuration, a wider array of schools than any other arcane class and several of which only wizards know.  Fighters, similarly, know far more schools than any other martial class, perhaps more than any other class in the game.  With the wide array of styles of combat available to them, they can truly be called weaponmasters.


Expanding the Power Schools System

One of the major draws of the power schools system is its ability to expand.  Creating a swordmage class does not require creating every power from scratch, instead the swordmage gains a single new school unique to it covering attacks that mix magic and swordplay, then also gains access to a set of schools originally created for the fighter and wizard.  While the swordmage does not know all the schools of combat that a fighter does, nor is their mastery of the arcane so varied as a wizard's, they know some of the tactics of both styles as well as a set of maneuvers that are distinctly theirs.  This reduces the need to reprint powers and allows classes to share mechanics freely, while making sure each and every class has their own unique style of combat.  Multiclassing is as easy as allowing a class to cherry-pick powers from a school outside their forte, though they must ready it as they would any other power.


Power Schools and Utility Effects 

Power schools do not generally cover out-of-combat abilities, though cunning players may be able to make creative use of their powers to solve problems in unorthodox ways.  Instead, utility effects are provided via class features, and a set of utility powers available depending on a class's power source.  These powers are tracked separately from combat powers, and provide for spells, techniques, and other abilities that are not covered by existing skills.

All classes gain a utility power from their power source's list at every odd-numbered level; unlike power schools, every class of a given power source has access to the same list of utility powers.  Utility powers should be on par with rituals and martial practices for effects, rather than the existing utility powers, and are oriented around things outside of combat.  Players are encouraged to use their utility powers along with their skills to solve puzzles and other non-combat problems.


While the power schools system of class construction takes the best elements of both the 3.5 and 4E systems, it does not cover everything.  I have thoughts on how skills should be altered to bring them up to what they should be, but that's a discussion for another time.
A few expansion notes I thought of between posting this and now:



  •  Power Schools mean no more dailies.  In nine years of experience, daily resources either get hoarded and are useless or win everything.  In 3.5 everybody knows how godly casters were, and in 4E daily powers made one encounter hopelessly easy if they hit and otherwise did nothing.  The focus here is on cycling encounter resources, allowing the game to accomodate days of varying lengths.  While utility abilities might be on a per-day basis depending on the ability, I would encourage them to all be of at-will availability.

  • Power Schools mean fights can be harder.  Because players have effectively unlimited ability to throw their special skills as long as they keep recharging, fights don't need to be balanced against the point when everyone's just using at-wills.  This means the difficulty of combats can be increased more safely, which is a common complaint of 4E.

  • Power Schools encourage homebrew and expansions.  3.5's homebrew market is still going strong years after the game's conclusion, because it's designed in such a way that it can be easily added onto.  The 4E homebrew market isn't nearly as strong, partially because there's so much more effort involved in creating a functional class and partially because it's so hard to distinguish that class from all the others.  The power schools system is designed to allow for the same flexibility for both the development team and the players to expand it, allowing reuse of existing mechanics to make the creation process easier without causing classes to just retread already covered ground.


Any thoughts on the system would, of course, be appreciated.
My biggest disappointment with 4e was that it wasn't as good as Book of Nine Swords. While I only skimmed what you posted, I think this is a great basis for 5e. What you suggest covers the majority of my concerns, assuming they bother to do well with power creation.

Bravo
i dont personally like any of these ideas
i dont personally like any of these ideas



Might I ask you to elaborate?
well, i dont like the 'recovery' mechanics you mention, i like dailies, and i dont like the 'school' terminology in general, it feels a little kung-fu, which is ok but not for everything

i do like a couple of the ideas, being able to kind of make your own power out of disparate moves is an interesting idea but not one i would really fight for


just my opinion. your ideas seem well thought out and explained though
Well, arcane classes have always had schools of magic: I listed the six classical ones as the set of what power schools the wizard would have access to.  It was actually the way in which spells were sorted like that which prompted me to call the concept "power schools".  The kung-fu side of it comes in from Tome of Battle, as I believe a lot of the way martial classes are treated as having to adhere to realism in the face of magic is alleviated by looking at wuxia films and the like, which show characters doing things that might not be innately magical, but are appropriately superhuman for someone at 20th level.

The creation of attacks from disparate parts is something that's easy to get wrong.  Games like Dungeons: the Dragoning make attacks too customizable, being built out of too many component parts to the point where they become generic the same way powers do.  The Slayer, on the other hand, doesn't have nearly enough options, pretty much just four at-wills and Power Strike.  I felt maneuvers struck the perfect balance, each technique was meant to be good on its own and then it was your cleverness and sense of style that created a signature tactic unique to your character.

 The point of the recovery mechanics is twofold.  The first is to make it so that beyond choice of schools and beyond class features, there's also something fundamentally different about how a wizard and a fighter do things.  The wizard has to recharge his magic every now and then, he can't just keep firing away without some pause to reabsorb his mana, but that break gives him time to move new arcane formulae to the front of his mind and ready them for use.  The fighter, meanwhile, just needs a lull in the flow of combat, the brief back-and-forth clashing of swords between major attacks, but changing his style entirely on the fly isn't something he can do the way a wizard can.  Clerics being driven by divine inspiration, psions pushing their mind to its limits to force reality to adjust to their will, recovery mechanics being different across power sources makes that matter in a way that the powers system doesn't, while at the same time letting a rogue trade a tactic for an illusion spell without having to suddenly deal with a totally different subsystem.

The second point is so that characters never reach the point where they're just kind of slugging it out with at-wills, which is when fights almost always boil down to nothing but attrition if they aren't already over or on cleanup.  A wizard might get a class feature which lets him use magic missile whenever he wants, but in a fight it should be a weapon of last resort, when something needs one last push to go down now and there's no time to refuel the bigger guns.  Or, if he picks up ranged combat techniques from one of the ranger's schools, he can make use of that basic spell like a gun, performing unexpected variations on the magic using what he's learned from his explorations outside the arcane.
@TrueMallowman: I agree with you on almost everything. ToB was to me the best 3e book and the Swordmage was a great class to play, never boring due to the amount of different stunts you could do.

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I like some of the concepts you mentioned, but I do have a different take overall. Borrowing a bit from 3.5e and 4e, group all powers by power source (effectively what you suggest), which would remove most of the duplicate powers right there. I'd then template every class to be similar to the 3.5 sorcerer as far as their spellbook mechanic. A martial character would eventually have at least 3-4 at-will maneuvers and possibly 1-3 stances for a base. You get X encounter powers per "slot" overall, but you only have Y total uses (the total number and uses per slot increases with level). The specific number I'd need to playtest to actually see what works well. Similarly, casters would follow a similar progression. IMO, having only 2 at-wills and at most 3 encounter powers equates to always using the same at-will 99% of the time, with the other as a rare backup. I don't want to see characters have "just enough" powers such that they use them all every encounter. I think this is the crux of why some people feel 4e combat gets so repetitive.

An alternate design for all classes would closer resemble the 4e arcanist spellbook (again I'd add at least another slot), but I'd only require a short rest to swap out the "active" power. I'd also add at least one more at-will total, possibly another at-will per tier.

I'm not sure about other groups, but ours pretty much uses up all their encounter powers every single combat, and often uses about half their dailies. Out combats usually last around 6-8 rounds, mostly because we miss a LOT. There are plenty of times I need to double check we aren't all using d12s...but that's a whole different topic

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I was with you all the way in the original post up until the point that you mentioned those with Divine abilities will be getting random powers every time they refresh. Am I playing a Cleric/Paladin or a Chaos Souled Sorcerer? For the sake of argument let's say the Paladin has access to some Cleric Spheres and some Schools of Combat that the Martial characters use, but refreshes totally the same way the Cleric does in your example. I feel that you are making this refresh mechanic be different just to be different and not really thinking about how it would work when implemented.

Also, getting rid of Dailies entirely would limit some of the cool of things. It makes sense for those that use exceptional powers to only be able to use it one time per day or even longer. For combat powers once per day would be the most restrictive I would get. Utilities would be the ones that I would have take longer if that were to be included at all.

Allow me to elaborate. The explanation for Daily Exploits (Martial Powers) from 4E Core is fair enough. What Martial characters are tapping into is not just physical training, might, prowess, dexterity, etc. but raw willpower as well. It stands to reason that they only have so much to go around. I think we should keep the Daily powers, but maybe have a more limited number of slots for them so they aren't as unbalancing when used in encounters. We have to remember that these are the big guns, they should be suitably rare and special, not as available as encounter powers when we look at the number of slots available.

Other than that, I think this idea has merit. Thank you for bringing it up for discussion.


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I was with you all the way in the original post up until the point that you mentioned those with Divine abilities will be getting random powers every time they refresh. Am I playing a Cleric/Paladin or a Chaos Souled Sorcerer? For the sake of argument let's say the Paladin has access to some Cleric Spheres and some Schools of Combat that the Martial characters use, but refreshes totally the same way the Cleric does in your example. I feel that you are making this refresh mechanic be different just to be different and not really thinking about how it would work when implemented.

Also, getting rid of Dailies entirely would limit some of the cool of things. It makes sense for those that use exceptional powers to only be able to use it one time per day or even longer. For combat powers once per day would be the most restrictive I would get. Utilities would be the ones that I would have take longer if that were to be included at all.

Allow me to elaborate. The explanation for Daily Exploits (Martial Powers) from 4E Core is fair enough. What Martial characters are tapping into is not just physical training, might, prowess, dexterity, etc. but raw willpower as well. It stands to reason that they only have so much to go around. I think we should keep the Daily powers, but maybe have a more limited number of slots for them so they aren't as unbalancing when used in encounters. We have to remember that these are the big guns, they should be suitably rare and special, not as available as encounter powers when we look at the number of slots available.

Other than that, I think this idea has merit. Thank you for bringing it up for discussion.





Funnily enough, that refresh mechanic comes from the Crusader, which was itself a remake of the Paladin.  The idea is that divine characters are channeling what amounts to infinite power from their god, without ever having to pause in channeling that power the way martial and arcane characters do.  In exchange, though, they give up some choice; because the power comes from the god, the god gets to influence what prayers the paladin and cleric have access to.  At any given moment, like with the crusader, they should have at least four-five options to pick from.  It might be the the cleric knows an equal number of powers to the wizard, but only readies a certain number from that list for a given day, giving them some control over what they get.

And yes, you've got it right with the paladin, which would share some schools with the cleric, some with the fighter, and then have a unique school of its own built around the cleaving and smiting of evil signature to the paladin, using the divine refresh mechanic.  Its class features would then support the traditional paladin features (like poison resistance, Cha to Fortitude, etc), and utility powers would allow the paladin to pick up the minor prayers such as removing disease, curing poison, lay on hands, and the like that normally don't see use in combat but make up an important part of what the paladin is.

As for daily powers, while I think it's fine for utility effects like Raise Dead or extreme athletic feats to be 1/day effects, in combat the main reason dailies are fun is because they have much more varied effects than encounter powers typically do.  Under this system, no two encounter powers are ever alike across any part of the system, so there's less need to stuff all the cool tricks like Driving Attack or Aspect of Might into dailies.  You can make Aspect of Might a paladin stance, Shield an Abjuration "stance", Driving Attack an Iron Heart strike.  Your "big guns" become not once-a-day tricks, but attacks combining multiple powers that burn through how long you have until you need to refresh, but can potentially deal far more devastating effects than the individual attacks would have.  While the system can support dailies as an additional system, I personally feel it's best to focus on the encounter effects, which is where there's room for powers to be cool and a drive to actually use them rather than save them for the boss.

The system has in a roundabout way also gotten rid of at-wills, in a sense, because every class has an encounter effect available at all times unless they need to refresh.  It's my belief a minimum amount of time in combat should be spent with characters just throwing their at-wills over and over again, so in this system they only typically come up for martial characters, who can throw their basic attack during their refresh turns, and arcane characters, who all can use some basic spell specific to their class like the wizard's magic missile.  That's not to say you -can't- just use your at-will attack, and stances can be used whenever you want to give the same kind of at-will variety as the Slayer, but powers refreshing means there's always another option.
I like the idea for the martial classes. This would work great.

For spell casters you just knee capped them.
If a cleric gets random spells then how can he possibly be useful? It is possible all he will get is Zone of Truth or Comprehend Languages. If he is preparing for a dungeon delve neither of these are useful. He needs to be able to choose.

Wizards: I actually came up with an alternative to Wizards a while back. Works like this.
1) Spell are divided into combat and non-combat. The difference is that combat spell have a cast time in rounds, or less. Non-combat have a minute or more cast time. You could even treat the non-combat like rituals.
2) Combat spells are prepared like 3.5 normal, but can be refreshed by spending time reading your spell book.
3) If needed combat spells can be cast by reading them directly out of your spell book but this takes 10x as long (aka 1 minute or more).
4) Now you put a limit on the number of times per day a wizard can prepare his spells. Say, he gets fatigued after study. Now you have limited his power but have given him the ability to choose spells more often. (I dont think this is needed, the wizards gets enough casting per day)
5) Non-combat spells take time and uninterrupted casting. For example for teleport you need to draw out a magic circle with runes and the like, now you need to draw this and that takes time. You also need to incant the spell while drawing this and thus more time is spent. Now teleport is a 3 minute cast time and requires you have a flat surface to draw on, and something to draw with. You could even say that the type of drawing substance will effect the spell. (blood would have a different effect than chalk would, or long distance teleportation needs special chalk that costs 30gp.) 

If you read the text in the 3.5 PHB magic section you find out that when a wizard is preparing a spell he is incanting the spell but stops before the last few lines, he carries the magic power of the mostly complete spell around with him. Then when he needs it he says the last few lines, the spell is completed, and he releases the magic power in the form of the spell. That is why low level wizards have so few spells per day, they can't hold more magical power.
Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
While I don't care for the 'school' terminology - it's strongly linked to magic in D&D - having the same structure within each source (Martial Styles, Arcane Schools, Divine Domains, Psionic Sciences, Primal Traditions, Shadow Secrets...) would be fine.  You'd need a general term, like focus or speciality or something.

Replacing dailies across the board with a refresh mechanic wouldn't be a bad idea, but the refresh mechanic has to be reasonably balanced from source to source.  The example you used for Divine is probably a little off, not only is random selection questionable, but it'd force Divine characters to 'cook off' useless prayers in the hopes of getting something useable when they refresh, which seems a very disrespectful use of granted power.  Maybe the Divine character should refresh with an 'act of faith' - either something deity-apropriate, or simply spending a round not attacking or moving.

The idea of different character-defining options - source, specialities, classes, themes, race, etc - each opening up power choices, but all character getting basically the same number of choices, is a good one.

 

 

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I like the idea for the martial classes. This would work great.

For spell casters you just knee capped them.
If a cleric gets random spells then how can he possibly be useful? It is possible all he will get is Zone of Truth or Comprehend Languages. If he is preparing for a dungeon delve neither of these are useful. He needs to be able to choose.



I don't think you understand how it works, the powers only cover combat spells and are only going through this draw/refresh cycle during combat.  Things like Heal, Flame Strike, Sunburst, spells and prayers that are meant for use while fighting.  Spells and prayers that aren't for combat are instead covered in utility powers, which are tracked separately and work on the at-will/every X minutes/times per day system.

Comprehend Languages might be a 2nd-Level At-Will Arcane Utility Spell, so at 3rd level a wizard can take Comprehend Languages and use it whenever he wants, forever.

Resurrection might be an 8th-Level Daily Divine Utility Prayer, so at 15th level a cleric can take Resurrection and once per day he can resurrect someone.

Leap of Faith might be a 1st-Level Once Per 15 Minutes Martial Utility Maneuver, so at 2nd level a rogue can take Leap of Faith and make a jump that ignores falling damage once per 15 minutes, whenever he wants.

By making it so that all characters get out-of-combat abilities, as well as keeping those abilities separate from in-combat ones, the way characters fight is made different and the way they can contribute out of combat is distinct, without that distinction making one set of classes better than another.
i dont personally like any of these ideas (from the original post)



Neither do I. I think the mechanical framework and indeed most of the examples for the powers of Fourth Edition worked perfectly.

I played Wizards, Archer Rangers, Fighters, Paladins, Warlords. I played alongside Sorcerers, Warlocks, Druids, Runepriests, Seekers, Beastmaster Rangers, Monks, Barbarians, Clerics and Bards.

I never ever felt that the powers or classes were the same. Everybody seemed to be doing something very much flavoured to match their class's conceit and traditions.



Member of Grognards for 4th Edition
I support this idea, though I'm too tired right now to go into it deeper.  I agree that a random set of abilities for clerics when others get non-random abilities is not really OK.  I might think of something better tomorrow.
I support this idea, though I'm too tired right now to go into it deeper.  I agree that a random set of abilities for clerics when others get non-random abilities is not really OK.  I might think of something better tomorrow.



I've just edited the opening post to give divine characters more control over their prayers, both from a guarantee that they will get every prayer they know within three turns and from the ability for class features to designate certain prayers as always available.  For instance, the cleric might get a class feature reading something like:

Divine Favor: A cleric is exceptionally favored by her god, and as such holds much greater sway over what prayers they receive during combat.  A cleric may declare one of her prayers readied each day as a favored prayer.  This prayer is always made available at the start of an encounter and every time the cleric's prayers would refresh.  At 5th level and every five levels thereafter, the cleric may choose to designate an additional prayer as favored.

This reduces the randomness of it drastically.
I don't think you understand how it works, the powers only cover combat spells and are only going through this draw/refresh cycle during combat.  Things like Heal, Flame Strike, Sunburst, spells and prayers that are meant for use while fighting.

OK.  But the example of Divine having to burn it's prayers up to refresh still seems potentially silly.  What if you're fighting an old-school Iron Golem and you're down to Flame Strike - which is going to heal it?  Do you heal your enemy so your powers refresh, do you toss Flame Strike so it hits nobody? 

By making it so that all characters get out-of-combat abilities, as well as keeping those abilities separate from in-combat ones, the way characters fight is made different and the way they can contribute out of combat is distinct, without that distinction making one set of classes better than another.

Sounds solid to me.  Also really close to what 4e already does.  I doubt 5e will be able to go this route.  The demands of retro-nostalgia, and Monte 'rewarding system mastery' Cook on the team make something like this - potentially elegant and balanced - impossible.

 

 

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I don't think you understand how it works, the powers only cover combat spells and are only going through this draw/refresh cycle during combat.  Things like Heal, Flame Strike, Sunburst, spells and prayers that are meant for use while fighting.

OK.  But the example of Divine having to burn it's prayers up to refresh still seems potentially silly.  What if you're fighting an old-school Iron Golem and you're down to Flame Strike - which is going to heal it?  Do you heal your enemy so your powers refresh, do you toss Flame Strike so it hits nobody?.



A fair enough complaint, and common enough that I've retooled it a bit.  Divine characters now autorefresh even if they sit around and do nothing, and they're guaranteed to get every prayer they have readied first, with the ability to designate certain prayers they always want to have available as automatically gained whenever they refresh.  Take a look at the new opening post and tell me what you think.
OK, more reasonable, I think.  I don't suppose it's the kind of detail that needs to be ironed out in a thread like this.  My instinct is to put the refresh in the hands of the DM, as stand-in for the deity, but I also see nothing wrong with it being in the player's control - it could still, conceptually, not be under the direct control of the character.

The concept is very good.  I WotC uses anything like it, the detail implementation will be in their hands.

Got anything for Primal?  I could see Primal using a no-action Healing Surge to refresh. 

 

 

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Not at present, but there's enough ToB homebrew classes for there to be plenty of inspiration.  I'm somewhat tempted to put barbarian back in martial, maybe borrowing a primal school or gaining one in a later splat.  It would have three starting schools: one that's a Tiger Claw two-weapon fighting equivalent shared with the fighter, one that's a Stone Dragon equivalent built around sheer force with axes and hammers, also shared with the fighter as the latter's axe-centric school, and one unique to it built around intimidation and wreaking swift and terrible vengeance on attackers, dovetailing with class features that make the barbarian more and more dangerous as it takes damage.  The raging barbarian is one of the most frightening forces on the battlefield, seemingly invincible and capable of crushing opponents through sheer power and fury, its unique maneuvers should reflect that ability to strike terror in the hearts of foes.

Here I demonstrate the system's modularity again, because a splatbook can come out introducing primal characters, including a school focused around calling on totem spirits, and the school can have as a note "Barbarians may choose to take powers from this school".  Bam, barbarians have a whole new set of tricks to play with and mix with the moves they already know.  Expanding the options of a class is as simple as declaring that they can take a school, and multiclassing is as easy as letting a character take a feat giving him free reign to pick from a single school outside his class.  Support for different sorcerous heritages, like fiendish or fey blood, is as easy as making a new school for it and saying "Sorcerers may choose to take powers from this school instead of the Dragon's Heart school".
Since I'm feeling particularly bored at the moment, I decided to mock up what a example class under the power schools system might look like in table form.

Wizard
Power Source: Arcane
-"Oh, this is Old Nerathian!  I took a course on this for the language requirement.  Here, let me see if I can translate it." -Auron, a wizard


Master of the arcane arts, armed with knowledge gleaned through careful study, the wizard is the ultimate practicioner of traditional arcane magic.  While they may not possess the inherent blood magic of sorcerers or the musical talent of bards, wizards know an utterly enormous array of spells from all seven traditional schools of magic, granting them a wide array of talents.  While most wizards seldom leave their ivory towers, a few with a taste of wanderlust join the adventuring lifestyle, feeling they can best improve their mastery of the magical arts by exploring the world at large and putting their knowledge to the test.

Wizards have knowledge of seven schools: Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, and Necromancy.

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged
Implements: Orbs, staffs, wands
Defense Bonuses: +2 Will
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10+Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 4
Skill Ranks: 4/tier

Table 1-1: The Wizard 






























































































































































































































Level



Class Features



Spells Known



Spells Readied



Wards Known



1st



Magic Missile, spellbook, arcane lore



6



4



1



2nd



 



8



4



1



3rd



 



10



5



2



4th



 



12



5



2



5th



Arcane lore



14



6



2



6th



 



16



6



2



7th



 



18



6



3



8th



 



20



7



3



9th



 



22



7



3



10th



Arcane lore



24



8



3



11th



Rapid recall +1, defensive casting



26



8



4



12th



 



28



8



4



13th



 



30



9



4



14th



 



32



9



4



15th



Arcane lore



34



10



5



16th



 



36



10



5



17th



 



38



10



5



18th



 



40



11



5



19th



 



42



11



6



20th



Arcane lore



44



12



6



21st



Rapid recall +2



46



12



6



22nd



 



48



12



6



23rd



 



50



13



7



24th



Arcane spirit



52



13



7



25th



Arcane lore



54



14



7



26th



 



56



14



7



27th



 



58



14



8



28th



 



60



15



8



29th



 



62



15



8



30th



Arcane lore, archmage supreme



64



16



8




Magic Missile
: One of the most fundamental spells in existence, magic missile is a bolt of force every wizard worth his salt learns as an apprentice.  Casting magic missile is a standard action, the wizard makes an Int vs. AC attack against the target dealing 1d6+Int points of damage on a successful hit.  Magic missile has a maximum range of 50 feet.  If a wizard has an ability which would allow him to make an attack using a ranged weapon, he can treat magic missile as the weapon to be used, following the rules of that ability as normal.


Spellbook: A wizard's spellbook is his treasure trove of arcane lore and notes about spells, from which he derives his vast knowledge.  A wizard who cannot access his spellbook cannot use the extra utility spells granted to him by his Arcane Lore class feature.  Creating a new spellbook requires 24 hours and rare reagants costing 100 gp.

Arcane Lore: A wizard's spellbook allows him to keep track of a wider variety of utility magic than most arcanists. At 1st level, a wizard selects one additional 1st-level utility spell from the arcane utility spells list.  He may use this spell as normal.  At 5th level and every five levels thereafter, the wizard gains an additional spell from the arcane utility spell list that he can cast.  A wizard cannot use these spells if he does not have his spellbook.

Rapid Recall: A wizard is never without just the right tool for the job.  Once per encounter, a wizard of 11th level or higher can remove one spell he has readied from his spells readied list and replace it with a different spell he knows and does not already have readied.  At 21st level, the wizard may do this twice per encounter.

Defensive Casting: Beginning at 11th level, whenever a wizard uses an action point to take an extra action, he does not provoke attacks of opportunity for casting a ranged or area spell until the end of his next turn.

Arcane Spirit: Beginning at 24th level, a wizard's magic is strong enough to allow him to briefly disperse into a cloud of pure arcane energy when suffering an otherwise mortal wound.  Once per day when the wizard dies, he instead vanishes for 1 round and reappears at the beginning of his next turn at half his maximum hit points and with all his spells refreshed.

Archmage Supreme: At 30th level, the wizard has reached his pinnacle of arcane mastery.  Nothing is beyond his reach to know, and the most complex of spells bow to his whims.  He gains an inherent +5 bonus on all Arcana and History checks, and once per encounter, he may cast a spell without expending it.  It is treated as immediately being readied again.


Designer's Notes: The wizard knows far more spells than any other class in the game gets - with two new spells per level and 64 spells to pick from over thirty levels, they have the flexibility to learn spells from all of their schools, or instead to gain virtually every spell from a school or two they choose to specialize in.  The wizard's class features enable them to search through this immense toolkit for just the right spell they need to deal with an opponent's weaknesses, and their arcane lore class feature ensures they also have a wide range of spells for dealing with out-of-combat problems.  With skill ranks as described here, wizards can choose to master a few skills or spread their ranks out across several, though they're encouraged to at least take ranks in Arcana and History by their capstone.

Wards are the arcane equivalent of stances, always-on effects that can be switched between with a swift action, and unlike powers a wizard can always use any ward he knows.  Wards either bolster the wizard's defenses or assist their offensive magic in some way: for instance, shieldblade barrier, and prismatic sphere would all be examples of wards.  Like powers, wards belong to a given school rather than a given class, so multiclassing would allow a rogue to pick up blade barrier and use it as he would one of his stances.

For a contrast to this, I'll put up something like the fighter or barbarian later.
Surprise!  I'm doing the sorcerer next instead!  It demonstrates how two classes of the same source can be made distinctly different.

Sorcerer
Power Source: Arcane
"Witness the might of the Great and Powerful Xanthe!" -Xanthe, a sorceress

Magic runs in the very blood of sorcerers.  Descended from lines of mighty dragons or otherworldly creatures, a sorcerer possesses magical talent that he expresses with nothing but his sheer force of will.  Sorcerous powers tend towards the bright and flashy - with a wave of his hand he can conjure a mighty storm or a fantastic illusion, but his lack of study means the arts of more subtle magics like divination or necromancy are lost on him.  However, sorcerers also possess a magic none other can boast: the ability to call forth the potential of the blood within their veins to produce, however briefly, the powers of true dragons.  Sorcerers tend to be egotistical about the power their bloodlines grant them, to the chagrin of wizards, fighters, rogues, clerics, and just about everyone but themselves.  These peons simply fail to understand the sorcerer's majesty.

Sorcerers have knowledge of three schools: Dragon's Heart, Evocation, and Illusion.

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged
Implements: Orbs, staffs, wands
Defense Bonuses: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10+Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 4
Skill Ranks: 5/tier

 Table 1-2: The Sorcerer
 





























































































































































































































Level



Class Features



Spells Known



Spells Readied



Wards Known



1st



Dragonfire, magnificent soul, heritage focus



6



6



1



2nd



 



7



6



1



3rd



 



8



7



2



4th



 



8



7



2



5th



Bloodline resistance 5



9



8



2



6th



 



9



8



2



7th



 



10



8



3



8th



 



10



9



3



9th



 



11



9



3



10th



Bloodline resistance 10



11



10



3



11th



Conflagration, arcane surge +1



12



10



4



12th



 



12



10



4



13th



 



13



11



4



14th



 



14



11



4



15th



Bloodline resistance 15



14



12



5



16th



 



15



12



5



17th



 



16



12



5



18th



 



16



13



5



19th



 



17



13



6



20th



Bloodline resistance 20



18



14



6



21st



Arcane surge +2



18



14



6



22nd



 



19



14



6



23rd



 



19



15



7



24th



Great majesty



20



15



7



25th



Bloodline resistance 25



20



16



7



26th



 



21



16



7



27th



 



21



16



8



28th



 



22



17



8



29th



 



22



17



8



30th



Bloodline resistance 30, heritage realized



22



18



8



 
Dragonfire: One of the favorite party tricks of sorcerers is the ability to conjure a wisp of dragon's flame.  Casting dragonfire is a standard action, the sorcerer makes a Cha vs. AC attack against the target dealing 1d8+Cha points of fire damage on a successful hit.  Dragonfire has a maximum range of 40 feet.  If a sorcerer has an ability which would allow him to make an attack using a ranged weapon, he can treat dragonfire as the weapon to be used, following the rules of that ability as normal.

Magnificent Soul: A sorcerer seems to run off sheer chutzpah.  He may use his Charisma bonus in place of his Dexterity or Intelligence bonus when determining his Armor Class.

Heritage Focus: While the proudest sorcerers of all claim red dragon heritage, all breeds produce sorcerous talent.  A sorcerer may select from fire, cold, acid, or electricity upon character creation - this determines the elemental damage type of his dragonfire and any spells which use dragonfire as a focus.

Bloodline Resistance: Starting at 5th level, a sorcerer gains resist 5 to the elemental damage type he selected with his Heritage Focus class feature.  This resistance increases by 5 every five levels thereafter, and stacks with resistances from other sources.

Conflagration: A sorcerer's magic practically begs to be used, crackling from his body when it senses danger and jumping at any chance to erupt. Whenever a sorcerer of 11th level or higher uses an action point to take an extra action, he deals damage equal to his level to each enemy adjacent to him.  This damage is of the type selected by his Heritage Focus class feature.

Arcane Surge: A sorcerer's power often feels bottomless.  Starting at 11th level, once per encounter a sorcerer may immediately recover an expended spell as though he had readied it again.  At 21st level, the sorcerer may do this twice per encounter.

Great Majesty: At 24th level, a sorcerer's presence is so great he seems at times guarded by the aura of a dragon.  Once per day, when an attack would reduce the sorcerer to 0 hit points or fewer, he may choose to ignore the damage and all other effects of the attack, and may additionally expend one readied spell to restore his hit points to his bloodied value if he is presently below it.

Heritage Realized: At 30th level, a sorcerer is every bit as mighty as the ancestor who granted him his power.  He is as invincible as he is majestic.  He gains a +3 bonus to all Charisma-based checks, and once per encounter he may extend his Bloodline Resistance class feature to provide resistance against all types of damage until the end of his turn.


Designer's Notes: The sorcerer is more focused on force and spectacle than the wizard.  As a Cha-primary class he's drawn to the social skills, particularly Diplomacy and Intimidate, and his class features help grant him the image of invulnerability he wishes to present to the world.  Having both fewer spells known and fewer schools to pick from, the sorcerer's breadth of technique is smaller than the wizard's, but he makes up for this with better defenses and more longevity between refreshes thanks to his greater number of readied spells and his Arcane Surge class feature.  The Dragon's Heart spells focus on amplifying the effects of dragonfire, as well as granting the sorcerer the resilience and powers of a dragon, while the evocation and illusion schools provide him with ample room to demonstrate his power over the arcane.  A sorcerer and wizard have access to the same utility spell list, but the sorcerer gets fewer by virtue of the wizard's Arcane Lore class feature, and the ones he picks are more likely to be focused on amplifying his already considerable social strengths.  However, the sorcerer's greater number of skills means he can access the higher-tier functions of more skills, as the time he doesn't spend poring over books gives him more time to study other practices.
So, does your system repudiate Roles, or is role support down at the school level?  (Or did I just miss something?)

 

 

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Roles have pretty much left the building here, healing surges probably have as well.  Several different schools cover healing in assorted ways - clerics get a school that lets them do dedicated healing, typically on minor actions, while some martial schools allow those characters to heal themselves in certain ways.  The paladin's cleave-and-smite school, for instance, woud resemble Devoted Spirit's "healing by attacking" system.

That said, elements of roles can be found within the focuses of certain schools - Divination and White Raven, the latter the warlord's unique school, are Leader-like schools, while Illusion and Enchantment display much of the same motif as the Controller role and the Evocation school is one of the archetypical Striker schools, as is Steel Serpent.  The fighter could focus on the sword-and-shield powers of the Iron Tortoise school and play more like a Defender, or instead focus on Stone Dragon and deliver the sheer force of a Striker - or pick up a selection of powers from both, if he wants to have more choices.  Iron Heart is something of a well-balanced school, and then the various other fighter schools let him build towards a specific weapon and the way that weapon fights.
I love this direction and would like to see the new edition starting from here. However, some things you are scrapping were something I think is worth salvaging.

 healing surges probably have as well.



The most glaring one is healing surge. While I hate the flavor they gave healing surges (expendable energy units... feels like a mecha ) I love the effect they have on the game. You cannot hope to go on forever, as even the toughest warrior will need to rest (eventually). Also, frail characters are forced to rest far sooner than tough ones. And most especially, if you ever are forced to fight again when you have 0 healing surges, you are screwed. And I love the thrill of knowing you are at the edge of death: you won't be able to heal back to full health after this beating, you need to survive and cannot count on your friendly healer to be there for you. You can't go all-out on offense anymore and need to be careful. It's genuinely fun in my opinion.

However, in order to make it more... organic to this system, I would steal a bit from Fate's consequences concept and reverse it: make it so that severe wounds, or maybe going under 0 hp, or whatever tires you, making you "lose a healing surge", rather than healing requiring it. That way you get the best of both worlds!

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The examples you have are definitely far from something ready as-is, but one thing irks me. I liked 4E's character chart, where most levels meant you actually gained something relevant, rather than just "add X,Y to char sheet". I'd like to see that in the new edition as well.

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In addition, let me put an emphasis on this:

1) Spell are divided into combat and non-combat. The difference is that combat spell have a cast time in rounds, or less. Non-combat have a minute or more cast time. You could even treat the non-combat like rituals.



This is the difference 4E introduced between arcane/divine powers and rituals. It's one worth pursuing, as it allows for a broader balance. Things like Save Or Lose spells are not something I'd like to see again, but some of those were actually cool thematically. For instance, Banishment. By changing those to rituals, you allow your casters to do something that is effectively "broken" in combat but should be totally within their possibilities, simply using casting time and possibly a different "readying" ruleset.

Also, you mention that 4E's homebrew is not great. That's true, but rituals are one of the things that CAN be homebrewed easily, changed and mixed up by DMs on the fly and as long as there aren't BIG screw-ups you're fine as far as balance is concerned.
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E

Can't say I like the idea of de-formalizing roles - I don't say 'eliminating,' because they've always been there and probably won't go away - it's a handy conciet. 


I definitely think Healing Surges were a good idea.  Making the ultimate store of healing available to the party an individual resource held by each member is a lot less troublesome than making it a resource held by one or a couple of them.  Making healing a minor actions, so healers can do something else, to, helps, of course.  So would making healing a separate category of powers, so you don't have to trade out combat spells (even though healing is clearly combat) or utilities to get it.  Otherwise, it becomes a 'burden,' again....

 

 

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I love this direction and would like to see the new edition starting from here. However, some things you are scrapping were something I think is worth salvaging.

The most glaring one is healing surge. While I hate the flavor they gave healing surges (expendable energy units... feels like a mecha ) I love the effect they have on the game.



I've been debating on the matter, really.  Some people like healing surges, some don't.  As it stands the system can function with either one, so I'm leaving it in the air since it's somewhat outside the scope of this project.  Certainly the removal of healing surges in their current form as "energy units" would make healing abilities much more flexible, such as a paladin stance allowing them to rack up continuous tiny heals, but there's probably some alternative way to implement a healing limit that escapes me at this time.  I'm open to thoughts, of course.

The examples you have are definitely far from something ready as-is, but one thing irks me. I liked 4E's character chart, where most levels meant you actually gained something relevant, rather than just "add X,Y to char sheet". I'd like to see that in the new edition as well.



This chart neglects to include feats and ability scores, which are gotten at the "every two" and +"1 to two every four" rates of 4E.  Because characters are gaining new powers, new ranks of powers, and new readied power slots at nearly every level, I should hope there's a constant feeling of growth at every level.

In addition, let me put an emphasis on this:

1) Spell are divided into combat and non-combat. The difference is that combat spell have a cast time in rounds, or less. Non-combat have a minute or more cast time. You could even treat the non-combat like rituals.



This is the difference 4E introduced between arcane/divine powers and rituals. It's one worth pursuing, as it allows for a broader balance. Things like Save Or Lose spells are not something I'd like to see again, but some of those were actually cool thematically. For instance, Banishment. By changing those to rituals, you allow your casters to do something that is effectively "broken" in combat but should be totally within their possibilities, simply using casting time and possibly a different "readying" ruleset.



This is true, and this is what the utility powers system covers.  They're designed to be less like 4E's utility powers, which are almost all just the defensive side of combat, and more like rituals in that you typically use them when you're not fighting, they have longer performance times and effects suited to things aside from battle.  Every class gets fifteen utility powers over thirty levels, wizards get twenty by way of their Arcane Lore class feature.  These don't run off the power slots reserved for combat spells or the refresh mechanics, instead they have frequencies and casting times.  A utility spell like Comprehend Languages might be available at-will and take a round to cast, while a spell like Resurrection can only be used once a day and takes at least an hour or two to perform.

In addition, what skills can do is drastically expanded by the ranks system.  Simply being Skilled at Stealth lets you hide from your average guard or orc, being a Grandmaster at Stealth lets you be the guy who's just suddenly in the room, with nobody being able to tell how you got in.
For many of us who play MMORPGs, game designers have added class skill trees to choose and enhance feats and select thh powers that the character would be using, skill enhancement and powers for the characters (depending on the game).  Would something like this work for new edition D&D character creation?  It would allow characters to select backgrounds, culture, sub-races, classes, class builds, “merits/flaws” and feats.   

Skill trees could also be set automatically to go from Heroic to Paragon and to Epic levels much the way powers and feats work today. 

At-Wills, Encounters and Dailies are a must.  Anyone who thinks that eliminating dailies is beneficial, is only angry because they cannot do that power in every battle and be the tank they want to be.  Playing a character in a game, you must balance when you use the powers.  In older editions, if your power was spent you had to rest to restudy the spells or pray to deity.  Having balance with restictions make you have to make better decisions.   
For many of us who play MMORPGs, game designers have added class skill trees to choose and enhance feats and select thh powers that the character would be using, skill enhancement and powers for the characters (depending on the game).  Would something like this work for new edition D&D character creation?  It would allow characters to select backgrounds, culture, sub-races, classes, class builds, “merits/flaws” and feats.   

Skill trees could also be set automatically to go from Heroic to Paragon and to Epic levels much the way powers and feats work today.



While certain elements of that are present (higher-level powers within a school might have prerequisites of knowing a certain number of other powers from the school, and skills go up by ranks rather than points or trained/untrained), selecting everything along skill trees is more of a concept that works best when you have a lot of things being managed by computers rather than by pencil and paper.

At-Wills, Encounters and Dailies are a must.  Anyone who thinks that eliminating dailies is beneficial, is only angry because they cannot do that power in every battle and be the tank they want to be.  Playing a character in a game, you must balance when you use the powers.  In older editions, if your power was spent you had to rest to restudy the spells or pray to deity.  Having balance with restictions make you have to make better decisions.   



On this I must disagree, for reasons I think I've stated before.  Removing dailies is beneficial because balancing by the encounter is drastically easier without having to account for whether or not a PC is going to blow a daily.  A fight in which a daily is used plays almost completely differently from a fight in which it isn't in terms of overall difficulty, and many a DM I've met has found themselves pulling their hair out at how what was supposed to be a major challenge became subject to a hail of Sleeps, Aspects of Might, Villain's Menaces, Beacons of Light, and all the other nasty things dailies do to wreck an encounter in no time, just like they're designed to.  Even just one, or expecting players to use one when they don't, can make for a major shift in how the fight plays.

Under the power schools system, you are instead encouraged to use all your cool and flavorful powers, to do your best to come up with interesting moves using the tools you have at your disposal, and not have to worry about whether it's going to screw you over in the long term of the day as a whole to try something awesome now.  Of course, burn through your powers too quickly and you might run out, needing to spend a turn refreshing, so you need to be tactical and work as a team in how you use your abilities so that you don't get caught with your pants down at a critical moment.
Can we have a TLDR (Too long, didn't read!) on the OP.

I kinda want to see the idea explained in the simplest terms if possible.
Basically, every class has a more advanced version of the martial maneuvers system from Tome of Battle.  Combat spells and special attacks become divided into schools, different classes get different schools as well as mechanics for how they recover their powers.  Every class gets a school only it knows, multiclassing is as easy as trading a maneuver for a spell, but every school is different in what it does to your character's fighting style.  Noncombat magic and tricks are handled separately from combat stuff, everyone gets a set of things they can do that don't have anything to do with fighting, and how skills work is expanded to fill in the rest.
A limit I have favored for divine classes and really arcane as well is something back in the day known variously it might be called the price of power.

A wiccan calls it thrice fold returns and a christian calls it As you sowe so shall ye reap.

4e has invokers whos powers include backlash your power does X damage to an enemy and stuns well it stuns you too and the blood mage spends hit points to boost his damage.

I get the desire to have divine prayer response unteathered or only weakly tethered by human prayer and desire I really do... its an authenticity that might not work for many.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

well, i dont like the 'recovery' mechanics you mention, i like dailies, and i dont like the 'school' terminology in general, it feels a little kung-fu, which is ok but not for everything

i do like a couple of the ideas, being able to kind of make your own power out of disparate moves is an interesting idea but not one i would really fight for


just my opinion. your ideas seem well thought out and explained though

Yeah, I'm mostly on the same page. I don't actually care too much about the terminology, but I don't think 'schools' is necessarily a one-size-fits-all model. It works well for wizards, who have a massive diversity of possible variations, but with fighters for instance I'd much rather see something like "masteries" which would be like themes, a package of powers and/or features that provides a specific type of concept, like "wicked axe wielder" or "sword and board guy".

As for powers in general, I'd do several things to reduce bloat:

A) pool them by power source, that is give each source a pool of general powers that are suitable to that source in general. For martial this can include your basic types of maneuvers.

B) Move primary ability to score to weapon, this gets rid of a LOT of need for redundant powers, my DEX and STR guys can use the same powers with different weapons.

C) Reduce the number of levels from 30 to 18. 18 is classic anyway. This cuts out the need for many added powers that are just there to fill out an overabundance of lists needed because of so many levels needing to be made 'meaningful'.

D) Scaling powers, instead of 10 different powers that are basically variations of the same thing make powers scale with level.

E) You would have your source powers, some class-specific powers, and then powers from mastery and maybe theme. Mastery and theme are cross-class and thus there's no duplication there. Class powers would just be a few really iconic tricks that support the character's role.

Beyond that AEDU is fine. I don't need some fiddly complicated recharge mechanic which amounts to the same thing but is much harder to keep track of. KISS is the word of the day here.

I think modular powers don't gain you much and do it at a high cost. There are only a limited number of variations that are really interesting and most people will hit on those pretty quickly (or find them on charops), so they might as well just be powers to start with. Its simpler and easier. Also 'build it yourself' powers aren't that flavorfull and I think the main sin with 4e and powers flavor-wise was having too many non-distinct options. Build-a-power just goes further down that road for little gain.

I'm really not convinced that mechanisms that give more choices of powers (like spell book type mechanics) are IN GENERAL all that big a win either and again are complexity with little pay off. I've seen wizards use spell book to some extent, but it is only useful under very limited circumstances. Mostly it is just clutter and extra choices needing to be made. It is rather rare to even see a character use their second choice at-will in many builds, let alone have any real use for more choices.

Instead I would provide a 'stunt' mechanic. We have page 42, but suppose a player wants to pull off some awesome move but they don't have the right daily power? Let them burn a power they do have and use page 42 with some guaranteed level of awesome. This gives players a more defined mechanic for big stunts, which will make them think about doing them more and give them more confidence that they're going to get something big out of it. It also fills in the "wouldn't it be awesome if only I had a power that did X right now" kind of thing.

Anyway, interesting topic. Not really agreeing on what implementation we like, but nice discussion.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

B) Move primary ability to score to weapon, this gets rid of a LOT of need for redundant powers, my DEX and STR guys can use the same powers with different weapons. .


shrug think I disagreee I can see a heavily deception based attack being in the power itself and having very little to do with the weapons used with it.. or a wild instinctive even chaotic barrage relying on stamina etc being CON...

hmmm perhaps I want flexible primary and secondaries...
If I have a move that uses deception like I start to smash you on the head top but elbow in the belly when you block... if that elbow smash gives me a bald strength damage like reaping strike.. couldnt it have been charisma to indicate how high of quality the deception was.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Yeah, I'm mostly on the same page. I don't actually care too much about the terminology, but I don't think 'schools' is necessarily a one-size-fits-all model. It works well for wizards, who have a massive diversity of possible variations, but with fighters for instance I'd much rather see something like "masteries" which would be like themes, a package of powers and/or features that provides a specific type of concept, like "wicked axe wielder" or "sword and board guy".



So, that's basically the concept behind power schools being universal.  It might be easier to understand if I do some basic mapping out of the fighter.

Fighters get about as many schools as wizards.  They have access to Iron Heart, which is a well-balanced school unique to fighters offering a mix of offensive and defensive techniques that simply consist of pure athletic skill taken to its limit, as well as Diamond Mind, a school shared with the rogue which emphasizes fighting smarter rather than harder.  Both of these schools don't require specific weapons for their maneuvers, so any fighter can take powers from them and mix them in easily with others.

Then the fighter also has a school built around each general fighting style.  He has Tiger Claw, which focuses on two-weapon fighting and high-agility attacks, and Stone Dragon, whose powers require axes or hammers and focus on sheer force, crushing blows that break stone and knock opponents back with just how powerful they are, both of which he shares with the barbarian.  If neither of those styles are to the fighter's liking, he could opt to focus on Iron Tortoise, which carries an array of techniques built around sword-and-board fighting and takes a more defensive approach to its combat, or Lunging Cobra, a style built around polearms and the array of sweeping and thrusting attacks only available to those kinds of weapons.  Or he could simply focus on Iron Heart and Diamond Mind, which each form complete styles in and of themselves, or spread his knowledge out across multiple fields so that he can be a proficient combatant with any weapon.

The purpose of calling everything schools is to make compatibility more evident, particularly when it comes to gish classes.  A swordmage might have access to Iron Tortoise, with all the same powers the fighter gets from it (but using the arcane refresh mechanic because it's an arcane class), the Abjuration school, and a unique school containing abilities like the 4E swordmage or 3.5's Desert Wind that mix magic with swordplay, creating effects not covered by either the fighter or the wizard.

If it would make you more comfortable to call martial schools "masteries" and divine ones "spheres" and psionic ones "disciplines" and arcane ones "schools", that's fine, but the core concept remains - that you can swap one library out for a different one and not only will the replacement remain compatible with all other parts of the class, but this swap will make a clear, visible difference in how the class plays and what it can do.
Basically, every class has a more advanced version of the martial maneuvers system from Tome of Battle.  Combat spells and special attacks become divided into schools, different classes get different schools as well as mechanics for how they recover their powers.  Every class gets a school only it knows, multiclassing is as easy as trading a maneuver for a spell, but every school is different in what it does to your character's fighting style.  Noncombat magic and tricks are handled separately from combat stuff, everyone gets a set of things they can do that don't have anything to do with fighting, and how skills work is expanded to fill in the rest.




That actually sound pretty Cool!!
I like this verymuch. It's very similar to what I was proposing earlier with Specializations defining Class rather than the other way around. A hybrid character simply learning a nonstanadard combination of "Schools."
Yeah, I'm mostly on the same page. I don't actually care too much about the terminology, but I don't think 'schools' is necessarily a one-size-fits-all model. It works well for wizards, who have a massive diversity of possible variations, but with fighters for instance I'd much rather see something like "masteries" which would be like themes, a package of powers and/or features that provides a specific type of concept, like "wicked axe wielder" or "sword and board guy".



So, that's basically the concept behind power schools being universal.  It might be easier to understand if I do some basic mapping out of the fighter.

Fighters get about as many schools as wizards.  They have access to Iron Heart, which is a well-balanced school unique to fighters offering a mix of offensive and defensive techniques that simply consist of pure athletic skill taken to its limit, as well as Diamond Mind, a school shared with the rogue which emphasizes fighting smarter rather than harder.  Both of these schools don't require specific weapons for their maneuvers, so any fighter can take powers from them and mix them in easily with others.

Then the fighter also has a school built around each general fighting style.  He has Tiger Claw, which focuses on two-weapon fighting and high-agility attacks, and Stone Dragon, whose powers require axes or hammers and focus on sheer force, crushing blows that break stone and knock opponents back with just how powerful they are, both of which he shares with the barbarian.  If neither of those styles are to the fighter's liking, he could opt to focus on Iron Tortoise, which carries an array of techniques built around sword-and-board fighting and takes a more defensive approach to its combat, or Lunging Cobra, a style built around polearms and the array of sweeping and thrusting attacks only available to those kinds of weapons.  Or he could simply focus on Iron Heart and Diamond Mind, which each form complete styles in and of themselves, or spread his knowledge out across multiple fields so that he can be a proficient combatant with any weapon.

The purpose of calling everything schools is to make compatibility more evident, particularly when it comes to gish classes.  A swordmage might have access to Iron Tortoise, with all the same powers the fighter gets from it (but using the arcane refresh mechanic because it's an arcane class), the Abjuration school, and a unique school containing abilities like the 4E swordmage or 3.5's Desert Wind that mix magic with swordplay, creating effects not covered by either the fighter or the wizard.

If it would make you more comfortable to call martial schools "masteries" and divine ones "spheres" and psionic ones "disciplines" and arcane ones "schools", that's fine, but the core concept remains - that you can swap one library out for a different one and not only will the replacement remain compatible with all other parts of the class, but this swap will make a clear, visible difference in how the class plays and what it can do.

Yeah, I don't think the notions are all that different. I'd keep each mastery fairly compact, though really there's no absolute need for them to be a specific size. The design I did for another game uses all power swaps. I don't think there's anything wrong with putting some features in there as well, but there is added flexibility when something is ALL power swaps.

For instance you can break the mastery/school away from particular mechanical requirements and make the requirements story-based. If a character gets access to 12 different ones, so what, he's gained flexibility but he's still limited to specific numbers of powers. Add in features and you can't do that. You can always emulate features with specific types of powers, like stances, which give you basically always-on benefits.

This means that getting 'Tiger Claw' or 'Axe Master' requires finding a master of that style, at which point you become initiated (subject to whatever RP considerations the DM wants to have in there). In theory you could run around finding many masters, but it would probably not happen much in play (unless if was a focus of the story arc for instance to become 'master of 5 styles' or something).

Personally I'm still quite happy with the basic AEDU concept for the most part though. I don't really see a huge benefit from more complicated options there. However you could have some options like drop a daily power to do a 'really awesome stunt' and maybe each school/mastery lets you do one sort of stunt better than normal (the rules for this would be pretty loose, it is basically using page 42 but letting you pump it up now and then for a price). I think some 'recharge on a milestone' resources would be another interesting option, though not really related to schools.

That is not dead which may eternal lie

B) Move primary ability to score to weapon, this gets rid of a LOT of need for redundant powers, my DEX and STR guys can use the same powers with different weapons. .


shrug think I disagreee I can see a heavily deception based attack being in the power itself and having very little to do with the weapons used with it.. or a wild instinctive even chaotic barrage relying on stamina etc being CON...

hmmm perhaps I want flexible primary and secondaries...
If I have a move that uses deception like I start to smash you on the head top but elbow in the belly when you block... if that elbow smash gives me a bald strength damage like reaping strike.. couldnt it have been charisma to indicate how high of quality the deception was.

I don't see any reason why some individual powers couldn't use different stats, but I think in general it just overly pigeonholes you to lock all the powers to fixed stats, and ends up producing lots of duplication. Instead refluffing seems better. You could feint with DEX (IE fast) or fient with CHA (IE a clever fakeout).

However, most powers are less specific about how they work than that, and things like feints are really just basic tactics that anyone uses. I'd think in general you're wanting to have say an axe use STR because it is a rather large heavy weapon, where a rapier would use dex. Now both a STR and a DEX character can use the same power and maybe the results are slightly different (but probably just fluffed differently).

That is not dead which may eternal lie
Yeah, I don't think the notions are all that different. I'd keep each mastery fairly compact, though really there's no absolute need for them to be a specific size. The design I did for another game uses all power swaps. I don't think there's anything wrong with putting some features in there as well, but there is added flexibility when something is ALL power swaps.



Under the current system, each class gets class features unique to it, so that a sorcerer who takes nothing but Evocation and Illusion spells and a wizard who does the same still play visibly differently from one another.  While each school doesn't need to have the exact same number of powers, having 3-5 options at each two-level block seems like a good amount to define a style with.

For instance you can break the mastery/school away from particular mechanical requirements and make the requirements story-based. If a character gets access to 12 different ones, so what, he's gained flexibility but he's still limited to specific numbers of powers. Add in features and you can't do that. You can always emulate features with specific types of powers, like stances, which give you basically always-on benefits.

This means that getting 'Tiger Claw' or 'Axe Master' requires finding a master of that style, at which point you become initiated (subject to whatever RP considerations the DM wants to have in there). In theory you could run around finding many masters, but it would probably not happen much in play (unless if was a focus of the story arc for instance to become 'master of 5 styles' or something).



I'm not quite fond of this idea, actually, since it restricts character creation and ties characters down to long periods of downtime just to get the ability to pick from a different school.  I'd rather use school selection as part of what defines a class.  You could RP picking up a new school through things like multiclassing, etc., but it shouldn't be a requirement.

Personally I'm still quite happy with the basic AEDU concept for the most part though. I don't really see a huge benefit from more complicated options there. However you could have some options like drop a daily power to do a 'really awesome stunt' and maybe each school/mastery lets you do one sort of stunt better than normal (the rules for this would be pretty loose, it is basically using page 42 but letting you pump it up now and then for a price). I think some 'recharge on a milestone' resources would be another interesting option, though not really related to schools.



I think action points should remain, those make for a good resource to spice up certain fights without making it entirely different the way dailies do.  While I like AEDU as well, I think it can be improved on by switching to the strike/boost/stance model.  It's sufficiently uncomplicated that I saw players who had never paid much attention to the rules before pick it up with ease when the book came out, and in fact in some ways it's simpler because you're no longer keeping track of all your combat resources independently, just "what do I have readied?".