Posted in another thread:
I'll probably work on a few after I see the main books, but this is what I plan on adding:
1) Level-0 PCs. Or level 1/2, you start as everyman schlubs for an adventure or two before you really get to be heroes.
2) Real injury. Wounds that don't heal overnight to reflect actual damage and wear-and-tear. Probably the accumulation of critical hits or trips to negative hp.
Which resulted in this response:
For the first two, why? People are everyman schlubs in real life. Why introduce this into your game, unless your players are so reluctant to write backstories that you have to force them to play them out? (Actually, come to think of it, that would be a pretty good reason.) Also, why have players start the day in the hole? Realism should never trump playability.
So I wanted some thoughts on this.
Firstly, I like the idea of everyday people thrust into extraordinary situations. Fantasy books (and Fairy Tales) are filled with them, such as Frodo/Bilbo but also Garion in the Belgariad, Rand in the Wheel of Time, the children from Chronicles of Narnia, Richard Cypher in Wizard's First Rule, Thomas Covenant, Gond in Earthsea, Pug in Magician, Sabriel, and even Potter and Eragon. To say nothing of popular movies (Willow, Luke Skywalker, Neo). Generally the best of the best of the best of fantasy (and then some).
Really, there are few books, stories, and series that start with an experienced already badass protagonist.
Everymen make lovely narrative devices where, as they explore the world, the world gets explained to them. A good way to explain how your setting works to new PCs.
So it's a tad disappointing to have heroes that can start out taking down a pack of a dozen-plus orcs or goblins, can summon fire on a whim and generally do un-everyman things.
While I'm not going to argue that the default rules should have all 1st-level PCs be punks who have to struggle against a single kobold, I'd like some suggestions of how to power-down PCs for optional use.
Lowering hitpoints is the easiest bit. Just reduce starting hp by the amount gained at 2nd level. So they start out 4-6 hitpoints less. Even a wizard, with the lowest of low hp, still starts out with 6+Con score, significantly higher than 3e.
Attacks, defenses, skills and the like still obey the +1/2 level, so going into negative levels just imposes a penalty of -1 until the party 'raises' themselves to 1st level. That +0 never looked so good.
Powers is the hard bit. The most debilitating way to reduce power level would be to remove Daily or Encounter powers, but this still leaves PCs powerful and with command of flashy abilities for everymen.
So perhaps simply removing At-Will would do the trick. PCs would be formidable in limited encounters with their Daily and Encounter powers but would quickly tire and have to resort to basic attacks. More debilitating to the arcane classes with weapons and poor attacks, but this is evened out by reducing the xp total of encounters which reduces the number of foes (and blows) in a combat.
Healing is more personal taste and, like many many people posting here, I don't like that every single injury can be healed overnight without the possibility of broken limbs or more severe damage.
The most elegant solution would be a wound point system that reduced the number of healing surges as injuries were inflicted. The problem being how wp are inflicted. One each critical hit? Once each time a character hits negative hp? One each time a damage threshold is passed?