The ten level split was the best way I’ve seen yet to differentiate the scale of narrative at each tier. I’d keep the same split as in 4e, but Epic characters need to be simpler to run. We never played this tier because it was too brain breaking to track all your own powers, item powers, theme powers, etc etc. Let players pick a few core abilities, then improve those as they go. Don't make us repick all our powers every 10 levels. Let us alter or improve them as we go though.
POWERS (4e power mechanic) GOOD I would say two things about this though.
Firstly, I have never had more fun playing D&D than once powers were introduced. I would say they should stay. There has to be a balance though between too many and not enough. Essentials strongly didn’t work for me because I felt pigeon-holed into one vanilla version or the other. Yet, power selection options were so numerous, that for all the games of 4e we’ve played, we’ve never played Epic level. It was too hard to keep track of all the options.
Secondly, how the powers are structured is important. It was too annoying to track round-to-round buffs, so all powers that offered short duration effects were not selected in favor of the ones that either lasted until the end of the encounter, or else had (save ends) qualifiers. Picayune +1 for 1 round powers sat in the same selection group as more useful, longer lasting ones. So I think you were on to something, but it needs cleaner, smarter execution.
VANCIAN SYSTEM (3.x caster mechanic) (also 0e-1e-2e) BAD Very few games do this any more, and with good reason. Look at what this is intended to simulate and do it better. In this system, a caster learns to harness his power more efficiently and more powerfully with more experience. Maybe offer a way to expand on core powers/spells, not unlike how psions have always worked. I’ve always thought that simulated magical ability progression very well. Point tracking is a chore, but I liked the 4e version where you could augment powers with a manageable pool.
CLASS ROLES (defender, controller, striker, leader) GOOD This worked out okay, and let people spec for maximum impact in the game. It was a little too definitive sometimes, but what I found was that a different class could simulate the way I wanted to play better than the one I started out thinking I wanted to use. I don’t think I was ever a better player in-game either. I found I preferred a warlord that grants other attacks and buffs with all his powers. It was quite popular with the group too.
MAGIC ITEMS HAS TO BE MECHANICALLY (you want magic items to be almost necessary? a big part of the game?) COHERENT Magic items are a must in D&D I think. I was highly disappointed in their treatment in 4e though. The same thing happened with items as with power selection. Any that didn’t have either useful static bonuses, encounter powers or end of encounter powers were never considered. Here again, balance was important, and droves of items had abilities that we found to be completely useless, placed in the same “level” as items that rocked all night. There was almost no sense of what made an item level 4 vs level 5, and forget about designing/making your own. For my money, the best item is the one you can make for yourself. 3e had the penultimate way of doing that, detail wise, but not structurally. PLEASE put more work into this aspect of the game. It’s great to run around with items, but no one will ever buy boots of water walking when a 40g potion is way more cost effective to cross rivers with. I love special materials and ways to augment existing items, as well as ‘heirloom’ type items that would unlock new powers as you level up.
ABILITIES SCORES (str, con, dex, int, wis, cha) ESSENTIAL This is so iconic I think it wouldn’t be D&D anymore without these. When I'm designing/redesigning other systems, I use this as a basis for comparison. This has proven itself out, in my book.
A LOT OF CLASSES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD, KINDA A ton of classes isn’t as important as being able to build the character you want. You need to be able to customize your class to the Nth degree. You don’t need 50 classes if you have ten that can be tweaked the way you want them. That’s why I liked the Builds variety of 4e.
A LOT OF RACES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD, KINDA Again, this is less important than having the ability to customize the path your race follows. We have never had a way to advance your race and your class at the same time. You always had to choose one or the other. You should improve as an elf and as a fighter as you progress, not just the one.
ABILITY SCORES ADJUSTMENT FOR RACES (you want a particular race to be better with some classes and bad with others?) YES Again, I think it’s the options you allow for people. Maybe I want the elf that sees in the dark to be advancing that aspect of his abilities to compliment my roguey ways. Maybe I want to focus on INT to enhance my caster aspects. Let us pick from a slew of possibilities or specialize in one aspect or another, and let those advance as we level.
FEATS (AND OTHER OPTIONS) THAT GIVES YOU STATIC +XBONUSES GOOD +X is okay, but +X and a new ability unlock is better. So, if I get a +1 to hit with a 2H sword, it's nicer if I also get "on crit target must also save vs prone".
HIT POINTS GOOD Can’t take HP out of D&D, that’s also too iconic. I prefer the other mechanic of Vitality/Wound points, but D&D without hit points, that’s just crazytalk.
HEALING SURGES (part of 4e heal system) GOOD Best edition yet for getting through a fight. The time saved not slamming down an ocean of potions is very appealing. Gold went to better things.
DEFENSES AS AC I prefer the iconic AC here as well. DR is a better idea, a la the way you did d20 Star Wars, and I’d love to see an easy formula to convert to this to try it out, but I think you’d be silly to not have it as the default.
SKILL CHALLENGES (part of 4e system) Excellent concepts, needs better implementation. We ended up using a third party variant because itw a smore functional. First time we had an edition where your skills well and truly mattered. Our group became quite creative with applications of skills.
SKILLS HAVE TO BE IMPORTANT Skills should compliment your abilities like areas of expertise. The simplistic listing helped me streamline other RPGs I play. The skills describes things so broadly, they can be interpreted in a creative way that doesn't intrude with excessive can/can'ts.
NORMAL CHANCE TO HIT (against an average monster of your level) 50% 50% is realistic and functional. Can't see why would you do otherwise, really.
ALIGNMENT IS FLUFF, KINDA
I’ve never found this useful outside the Good/Evil keywords that enable a lot of thematic abilities like Smite Evil. I much prefer a system of descriptors like Palladium used to have. That better informs me about what my character is or isn’t likely to do. I would leave it out in favor of a quality or trait idea, such as Pious or Principled or something that comes with the class or is an option to make into a key factor of the character. It matters to divine characters so that they continue to match the alignment to the will of the gods. No one else need worry about it. My formerly evil rogue can turn over a new leaf, switch to good alignment, and there are no rewards or consequences. A paladin that drops his alignment loses all powers though. Unless the player makes this a part of the story though, this is most often the result of a DMs decision that is based on a disagreement with the player about what the will of the deity is—a disagreement that the DM will always win. Alignment should matter to everyone or no one. Define for the player what the deity commands that they *must do versus *never do. Give the player a reward for making this part of his/her choices. Sort of like earning or losing ‘faction’ with a deity, and each level of it opening up new choices. If my warrior takes every opportunity to venerate Kord, but has no divine class levels, then I’m waiting around, hoping that the DM makes it worth my time. If there was a structure in place, one that provided even more benefits for divine characters, there is more incentive for players to consider aligning choices with deific concerns.
SAVE OR DIE (finger of death) BAD
Which is to say this is only bad where resurrection is not facilitated well. When our characters die in 4e we often re-rolled rather than resurrecting. The gold cost, ritual time and etc, etc. meant no one ever did this in most of our parties. It was easier in our stories to let the DM scribble up a way to add in a new person, rather than haul a dead PC’s carcass with us until we had the loot to rez them, and not let the player play. We also had no way to “pre-res” someone at times when we did have resources. Maybe we missed out on something there, but we never had any way to play that way. Resurrection abilities are an under-considered, under-developed part of the game, I think. Might have just been our group, but ainstant-death scenarios always feel like the DM being lame, cheating almost. Most games these days are premised on having a fighting chance to succeed. We had the most fun when we had to suddenly throw all our efforts behind stopping a party member from being petrified, swept away by a river, or from falling off a massive cliff. Save vs Death would have never allowed those extreme moments of drama. Those are some of the moments our group remember the most vividly.
If your game allows relatively easy rezzing, then ok, auto kill PCs off one bad die roll. I think that’s a mistake as a mechanic, myself. As a way to have a real sense of risk in an encounter, I would say ok, but only as a point of story, never as a standard monster feature. You could leave it as an option, but don’t standardize this, please.
Hello, this is Ren1999 formerly of Seattle -- now in Tokyo.
This is what I'm pitching for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Next.
Overall Goals 1. Bring old D&D Video Game Gold Box goodness to the DND5 tabletop experience. 2. Weed out all duplicate martial powers, feats, spells, prayers and skills. Strengthen and scale each power as to be useful at higher levels. 3. Remove Fortitude, Reflex and Will Defenses and make all attacks and saves either a 1d20+ or 10+ the relevant ability modifier. 4. Use the 4 basic races of Dwarf, Halfling, Human and Elf to teach the core mechanics of the game but develope character themes so that a player is free to design any character of any monsterous or non-monsterous race as long as the party and Game Master agrees to allow it. 5. Use the 4 basic classes of Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard to teach the core mechanics of the game but develope class themes so that a player is free to mix and match likely skills and powers relevant to that themed class. 6. Keep healing surges but explain it as a store of potions that the cleric equips the party with or something similar to that. 7. Start each character with enough hit points so they don't die so quickly. Constitution score + 1HD or a static number like +10 will do just fine. 8. Really develope a monster building section so that DM's can easily design challenges for the party without killing them all. I'm thinking monsters of any race should have no more than 3 points higher or lower than the party in each stat. 9. Introduce the Cat-Folk as a playable race. 10. No race or class penalties. Players hate penalties. 11. Consider limiting total class levels to 30th level. 12. Consider limiting an ability to a score of 30 with a modifier of +25. That means magic and feats would only stack to about 6. 13. Have heavy notation next to each stat. For example, AC15 (natural+10, heavy shield+2, dex mod+3) 14. Have the skill noted to the right of each relevant ability. Dex 18(+4) (Disable Device+4) 15. Consider a world map containing all the previous campaigns of D&D together. I created one using the map of Earth 20,000 years ago. 16. Note each power, feat and spell with a concise summary within the stat block so everyone doesn't have to keep looking it up. For example, Weapon Proficiency (broadsword attack+1) 17. Consider standardizing the ranges of all powers so they might easily be remembered. Limit the damage of all powers. Continue to limit burst spells during an encounter. 18. Publish a book on tabletop gaming experiences. Give new players ideas about how to make a gaming session fun. 19. Try to keep encounter combat to about 5 rounds. Some like longer combat and shorter combat. The majority of players tire after 5 rounds. 20. Don't allow monsters or characters to have anything the other doesn't have. No recharge rolls for monsters if characters don't have it. No save or die rolls unless players are also willing to risk their character's lives on 1 roll. No automatic damage or half-damage unless players enjoy having to subtract hit points without having a chance. Sometimes they die from that automatic damage. So no.
1-30 POWERS (4e power mechanic) GOOD it can be part af a module, not core, since so many people disagree about it. VANCIAN SYSTEM (3.x caster mechanic) (also 0e-1e-2e) GOOD Also there shyould be a module or optinal rules to not use it if you dislike it. CLASS ROLES (defender, controller, striker, leader) Good not necessary though could work as a module to MAGIC ITEMS HAS TO BE MECHANICALLY (you want magic items to be almost necessary? a big part of the game?)
NOT IMPORTANT ABILITIES SCORES (str, con, dex, int, wis, cha) GOOD
A LOT OF CLASSES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD BAD A LOT OF RACES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD
ABILITY SCORES ADJUSTMENT FOR RACES (you want a particolar race to be better with some classes and bad with others?) YES NO FEATS (AND OTHER OPTIONS) THAT GIVES YOU STATIC +X BONUSES GOOD
HIT POINTS GOOD
HEALING SURGES (part of 4e heal system) GOOD
DEFENSES AS AC
SKILL CHALLENGES (part of 4e system) GOOD
SKILLS HAVE TO BE IMPORTANT
NORMAL CHANCE TO HIT (against an avarage monster of your level) 50%
ALIGNMENT IS (mechanical means there are powers/spells that work on what you write on your sheet, fluff means pure role play) MECHANICAL
SAVE OR DIE (finger of death) BAD I like the idea of a few saves vc die. And a like the idea that a natural one on a save vc die implies automatich death.
I don't really care either way. As long as playing a character is fun for all levels.
POWERS (4e power mechanic) GOOD
Powers make non-magic classes more fun and strategic to play. It can also give a character more personality in combat. I do think it should be regulated. At-Wills are awesome. Encounters are fine. But do we really need Utility and Daily powers?
I'd personally make it so there were no Utility powers and each character only got one Daily slot.
VANCIAN SYSTEM (3.x caster mechanic) (also 0e-1e-2e) BAD
I don't really want my mages to be put in a position where they can't use any spells.
CLASS ROLES (defender, controller, striker, leader) GOOD
As long as each class is flexible enough to play as a mixture of roles or as a role of the player's choosing. Swordmage is an excellent example. While labeled as a Defender, it was a class that could also be played as an assassin-type Striker or a tanky mage.
Even if roles aren't officially support, players are going to create their characters with certain roles in mind anyway.
MAGIC ITEMS HAS TO BE MECHANICALLY (you want magic items to be almost necessary? a big part of the game?) NOT IMPORTANT
What's important is that there's rewards to make the game fun. Magic items are only one way to fulfill that, so they're not necessary.
ABILITIES SCORES (str, con, dex, int, wis, cha) GOOD
Six stats that determine all others? I'm perfectly fine with that.
A LOT OF CLASSES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD
Every class should be like a way of life for a character that instigates roleplaying. In gameplay, they should be interesting and have personality. However, the more the merrier.
A LOT OF RACES (a dozen or more maybe) GOOD
Whatever adds more roleplay variety. Just make sure the classes are appealing. If there's too many, a DM could always limit them.
ABILITY SCORES ADJUSTMENT FOR RACES (you want a particolar race to be better with some classes and bad with others?) YES
Just because they aren't great as a class doesn't mean they can't be played as it.
FEATS (AND OTHER OPTIONS) THAT GIVES YOU STATIC +X BONUSES I'm not a fan of that kind of min-maxing.
HIT POINTS GOOD
HEALING SURGES (part of 4e heal system) GOOD Healing surges allowed for some interesting abilities and game mechanics.
DEFENSES AS AC AC is fine. Don't change it.
SKILL CHALLENGES (part of 4e system) GOOD
As long as it's flexible for the DM to decide what skills are involved.
SKILLS HAVE TO BE NOT IMPORTANT
Some skills are DM-dependent anyway.
NORMAL CHANCE TO HIT (against an avarage monster of your level) MORE LIKE 75%
It's less irritating and makes combat faster. Also, it decreases the chance of your character getting really screwed over by unlucky rolls.
ALIGNMENT IS (mechanical means there are powers/spells that work on what you write on your sheet, fluff means pure role play) FLUFF
I don't mind bonuses based on alignment. However, a character shouldn't become unplayable because they changed their alignment. That hinders roleplay potential and creates drama.
SAVE OR DIE (finger of death) BAD
Death should be real possibility, but should be based more on circumstance than bad luck.
LEVEL 1-30 POWERS GOOD VANCIAN SYSTEM GOOD (some at will are good) CLASS ROLES GOOD (but there should be a couple of options) MAGIC ITEMS HAS TO BE MECHANICALLY IMPORTANT ABILITIES SCORES GOOD A LOT OF CLASSES GOOD A LOT OF RACES GOOD ABILITY SCORES ADJUSTMENT FOR RACES YES (but no negatives) FEATS (AND OTHER OPTIONS) THAT GIVES YOU STATIC +X BONUSES BAD HIT POINTS GOOD (I like the 4e method) HEALING SURGES GOOD DEFENSES AS AC AS DAMAGE RESISTANCE SKILL CHALLENGES GOOD SKILLS HAVE TO BE IMPORTANT NORMAL CHANCE TO HIT MORE LIKE 75% ALIGNMENT IS FLUFF (bring back 9 alignments) SAVE OR DIE BAD