Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gamer ADD: Toward an Old-School version of 5e

As I mentioned in my last Saintly Saturday post, my Gamer ADD-addled brain is busy editing the 5e SRD to reflect my own old-school proclivities. At the end of the day, though, I am not all that interested in editing it beyond the bounds of what could be called 5e D&D or to tie it so closely to a game world as to effectively create a new D&D-esque game with a little 5e sprinkled on top.

An (excellent) example would be Mithgarthr. For all intents and purposes it is 5e D&D; however, there are enough world-specific races and classes and unique mechanics that it deserves to be its own game. As much as I admire the folks at Mithgarthr Entertainment for producing a version of 5e that I’ve been sore tempted to buy in hardcover (something WotC has never even come close to doing), my goal is to produce something both far more generic and compatible.

In other words, what I want is a version of 5e that can be easily used regardless of what campaign world the end user wants for the their game table and that can be used (with very little effort) in conjunction with the 5e rules as written. I use the caveat “with very little effort” because, in order to scratch my curmudgeonly old-school itch, there will necessarily be some alterations to classes that will deviate slightly from the rules as written.

Speaking of classes, I will pick up on an idea I first posited here — there will be only three classes:

  1. Clerics (using the rules for Paladins)
  2. Fighters
  3. Magic-users (using the rules for Warlocks)

Additionally, I will only use ideas/spells/powers from the SRD to describe these three classes. Thus, there is no need for detailing different oaths, archetypes or patrons. This will simplify the typesetting and presentation of each class immensely.

For those who are wondering why only three classes, there are two main thrusts to my thinking:

Firstly, 0e only had these three classes. By sticking to that pattern, it gives this modern version of D&D an old-school feel.

Secondly (and possibly even more importantly), all of the other classes are redundant:

  • Barbarians and Rangers are fighters with specific backgrounds and tactical proclivities that don’t really need any mechanics to express.
  • Bards are entertainers and there is an entertainer background. Thus, one could be a bard in any class and thus a specific class with specific mechanics aren’t all that necessary.
  • Druids, Clerics and Paladins are really all the same class with slightly different foci. Using a bit of background and role-playing choices, one can easily emulate all three with one set of mechanics (the Paladin Class being my choice because it is the one that most closely resembles the cleric of older editions of the game)
  • Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards are also really the same class that primarily differ on where magic comes from. That can easily be explained through special effects and world-building concepts. Especially since Cantrips in 5e can be cast at will, there is very little mechanically difference between these classes.
  • Rogues have always been the skill-heavy class. 5e gives access to all kinds of interesting skills and proficiencies through backgrounds. One can choose an appropriate background with any class and function as a thief-like character.
  • Monks have always felt a bit out of place in D&D because they have a definitive Wuxia feel to them that is a bit alien to the average high-fantasy D&D campaign world. At the same time, they don’t really do Wuxia justice. If one really wanted to do a Wuxia-style game using a 5e D&D chassis, backgrounds would be a much better way to build that world than relying on the Monk class.

Thus, the original three classes married to a robust background system can easily emulate all the other classes found in 5e.