How to make 4e Player Characters more playable?

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Probably 4.0 will clean up a lot, if Star Wars Saga Edition (SWSE) is an indication ("streamlining").

Looking at the Player Character (PC) now (version 3.5), I see a couple of "dimensions", like Abilities, Class(es), Base Saves, Base Attack, Race, Type/Subtype, Template, Size, Level/Experience, Feats, Skills, Special Attacks, Special Qualities, Armor Class (normal, touch, ff), Spell Resistance, Movement (speed+type (Climbing, Flying, ...), Hitpoints (HP), Initiative, Alignment, <...*...>.
Most of these individual dimensions influence other dimensions, for example Race->Abilities, Race->Size, Abilities->Feats, Abilities->Skills, or Class->Hitpoints. (Alignment is not influenced very much, except maybe by Type (for example Undead).) And of course, these dimensions allow Actions to be performed by the PC.


But let's take the cleaning further. Can we combine or even eliminate some dimensions?

  • Can we have a nice playable game when there are no Abilities (no Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha)? What about Race (Type/Subtype)? I think both should stay, but I like the idea that Race has a huge impact on Abilities! Ability scores also give common ground to compare Races.
  • Can we get rid of Levels/Experience? I guess not, the development of a Character is maybe the single most important feature of this game. Basically you can roughly view Race/Abilities as a PC's genetic makeup ("nature") and all the leveling as a PC's development/education/training ("nurture").
  • Can we combine Feats, Special Qualities and Attacks, Base Attack, Skills, Talents (borrowed from SWSE)? Yes, it's possilble. You can group them all into one single CAPABILITIES category with Class-based (=Talents) or Racial or Ability-based or other Capability-based prerequisites. These will improve or create completely new Actions a PC may perform (like attack, play the lute, craft an item, cast a spell, remember ancient knowledge, etc.).
  • Can we combine Movement Types and Skills/Actions? I think movement types should disappear. A PC, say a Human, can Walk/Run and might be able to Climb some, so he has "full" Walk/Run Capability, and "limited" Climb Capability, but no Fly Capability. A Gargoyle PC might have "limited" Walk/Run Capability, but "full" Fly Capability.
  • Can we combine Armor Class and Base Saves? Let's just elaborate upon SWSE and have "Defenses", like Fortitude Defense, Reflex Defense (for current Reflex Saves and Touch AC), Will Defense but maybe also Armor Defense (=Armor Class) and Magic Defense (=Spell Resistance). The success of using a Capability (=doing an Action) might depend on a particular Defense of the target __OR__ an opposed roll...
  • Can we get rid of Hitpoints as the basis for a health-system? This is difficult, as Damage is very much related to Hitpoints. SWSE introduced a nice Condition Track, which simplified the myriad of conditions available in 3.5 (stunned, dazed, helpless, entangled, etc.), but it kept the HP system sort of intact. Healing is nicely integrated in SWSE, and it would be nice to no longer be solely dependent upon healing Spells in D&D.
  • Can we get rid of Alignment? Well, I like Alignments, but there aren't many game mechanics that can influence Alignment (ie. get the Wererat template if you're Good). Again, SWSE to the rescue: the Dark Side Score Tracker.
  • Can we get rid of Classes (like Fighter, Wizard, Rogue) altogether? Yes, I think, no problem. Let Characters gain various Capabilities when they level up. A PC might always get 4 Hitpoints, but he can get additional HP by choosing a HP-adding-Capability ("Toughness"), so he plays more of a Barbarian-role ("meatshield"). If A PC wants to play a Wizard-role, he buys the Spellcasting-I-capability which allows certain Powers/Spells to be cast. For a (real!) cat-burglar type PC, a player can choose Stealth-enhancing-capabilities and maybe some Shapechange (cat) capability as well.
    Of course the tricky part is to make the game balanced in a way. That's harder than with a rigid Class-based system. But with computers around to help with the difficult calculations, it is not impossible.


So what are your thoughts on PCs and the "dimensions"? Or do you have some great ideas on totally different aspects of the game (like combat, magic, etc.)?

This has been posted here and elsewhere, ...
But the feedback was fairly limited, so here's a new try.