5e♥2e Classes&Kits

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5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

For our third 5e aQ campaign (and we've tried all kindsa approaches such as adapting the backgrounds with a light touch) this more heavy handed and more 2e-y approach is what I plan to propose to the group:

Kits & Classes

"Kit first" approach

Askar

Armed citizenry of settlements of all sizes.

Battle Master, Eldritch Knight or Champion Fighter; Ancient, Devotion or Vengeance Paladin; Hunter Ranger.

Benefit:
Advantage on checks in home town.

Corsair

Seafaring warriors!

Battle Master, Eldritch Knight or Champion Fighter; Conquest or Vengeance Paladin; Hunter Ranger; Swashbuckler Rogue.

Benefit:
Two-weapon fighting style (in addition to any other fighting styles you may have)

Desert Rider

Outlander's armed citizens.

Any Barbarian; Battle Master, Eldritch Knight, Champion or Cavalier Fighter; Ancients Paladin; Beast Master or Hunter Ranger; Scout Rogue.

Benefit:
Your mount can take its exhaustion level effect in any order.

Faris

Holy soldiers!

Zealot Barbarian; Battle Master, Eldritch Knight or Champion Fighter; Vengeance, Devotion or Redemption Paladin

Benefit:
Advantage on checks and saves related to own faith.

Mamluk

Slave warriors! Born into being a warrior! Face tats!

"Samurai" Fighter; Devotion or Conquest Paladin.

Benefit:
Can give orders to any mamluk that are at least three hd lower than themselves.

Outland Warrior

Any other martial class or subclass but you come from another land.

Punishment:
Your starting cash is halved. Also you have a noticable accent.

Two-Element Sorcery

In Zakhara, sorcerers and wizards are hung up on the elements! Sand, sea, flame and wind.

Divine Soul, Shadow Magic, Storm Sorcery or Wild Magic Sorcerer; Any Wizard.

Choose two elements as you take this kit. What counts as a "spell related to that element" is something you might have to argue for each spell, it's not clearly defined. This two-element approach is the most common among Zakharan spellcasters.

Benefit:
Spells that are related to your two chosen elements just take up half the space among your list of "spells known" and you can learn two such spells everytime you otherwise could learn a spell. But you can never learn any spell related to the two elements you did not choose. You can learn non-elemental spells normally.

Elemental Mage

Most are into two and exactly two of the elements. To be hung up on only one element is rare. This is mostly an NPC kit, and flame elementalists are especially evil (Brotherhood of the True Flame). But players are welcome to play this kit of course!

Divine Soul, Shadow Magic, Storm Sorcery or Wild Magic Sorcerer; Any Wizard.

Benefit:
You can only learn spells related to one element! Every single spell has to be related to that element. No mage hand, no mending, no flowers, no wedding dress. But you can double your proficiency bonus for spellcasting (and for your DC) and you can add +1 to any dice (in addition to any other bonus, from the school of evocation for example). Also most people will realise that you are evil once they figure out that you're an elemental mage.

Sha'ir

This is the Noble Genie patron warlock from this UA. Any pact (blade, chain or tome) is allowed.

"Noble Genie" Warlock.

For "Find Familiar" spells, the PHB says "the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast". In Zakhara, the familiar is an elemental instead of its normal type.

Benefit:
None but you get to be lock/witch, best class!

Ajami

Any other arcane class or subclass but you come from another land.

Punishment:
You cannot ever learn any spell related to sea, wind, flame or sand.

Sa'luk

You are a free scoundrel. Bards, thieves, charlatans, rogues are welcome here! You can come from Zakhara or from other lands. You're a classic adventurer!

Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive, Mastermind, Scout, Swashbuckler or Thief Rogue; Any Bard.

Benefit:
None

Barber / hairdresser

You can cut hair and tend to wounds. Barbers are also well connected to gossip and stories.

Sword, Lore Bard, Open Hand Monk, Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive, Mastermind or Swashbuckler Rogue.

Benefit:
You gain the "Healer" feat (PHB 167) and you're proficient with razors as a weapon (1d4, light, finesse, counts as monk weapon, small item). You can also cast the Identify spell as a ritual if you have components. Also if you write the session recap on the campaign webpage and are in charge of summarizing and explaining past events at the table, you gain (30 × your current level) xp per session. But you don't, you lose the same amount of xp. This does not cause you to lose levels but it slows your advancement towards further levels.

Beggar-thief

Thief Rogue.

Also, gnomes cannot take this kit.

Benefit:
You happen to look exactly like a particular noble (for example a sultan).

Holy Slayer

You are member of an assassin order.

Assassin Rogue, Shadow Monk.

Benefit:
You may use the "Dueling" fighting style (p72 in the fighter chapter in the PHB). You can only ever use one-handed weapons. Each level there is a 10% chance of receiving the "call" --- a dangerous mission from your order. (AA p 52.)

Matrud

Desert thieves, horse thieves, outcasts, murderhobos.

Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive, Mastermind, Scout, Swashbuckler or Thief Rogue.

Benefit:
You gain twice the amount of XP from killing your fellow party members as you normally would get.

Merchant-rogue

Motto: "It's legitimate (as long as you don't get caught)!"

Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive, Mastermind or Thief Rogue.

Benefit:
If you buy 1000 of the same item (or just 100 if it's an item that costs a dinar or more) you pay half price. Only for items that are actually available in those quantities (using normal rules to determine this). You can not resell it in the same city. Also, you may cherry flip the d100 rolls (e.g. you may read an 18 as an 81 if you wish) on the "Running a business" table (the DMG has this).

Rawun

Any Bard.

Benefit:
You gain two additional spells. "Identify" and "Hex". These do not count towards your spells known.

Cleric of the Faith Pragmatic

Life Cleric.

Benefit:
Free lodging in mosques & monasteries of own faith

Cleric of the Faith Ethical

Life Cleric.

More strict behavior. No chaotic alignment.

Benefit:
You start a church when you reach "follower" level. (Which was 8th level in 2e but in our ACKS-derived house rules it's 9th level.) Free lodging, safe haven, and free food in mosques & monasteries of own faith. And you can request services of fighter NPCs from the church (see AA p 62 for restrictions) or an assistant retainer.

Cleric of the Faith Moralist

Law (from Ravnica book) Cleric

Super strict! Lawful only.

Benefit:
Free lodging, safe haven, and free food in mosques & monasteries of own faith. And you can request services of fighter NPCs from the church or an assistant retainer. Your henches in this manner are generally stronger & better than for ethoists. (AA p 64 has deets.)

Hakima

Knowledge Cleric; Horizon Walker or Monster Slayer Ranger.

Women only!

Benefit:
You can see a persons class & station in life if you see them eat.

Kahin

It's not really called "druid" and doesn't follow the traditional druid social organization. It's called kahin. But mechanically it uses the same rules, features, and circles as the PHB druid class.

Any circle Druid.

Benefit:
None, but you get to be druid! (Kind of.)

Also there is a new circle that you may (but are not required to) choose:

Circle of the Aged Masters

Level 2: Weapon immunity

Choose a weapon when you gain this feature. You have immunity to damage from one specific weapon (for example arrow, short sword, or dagger). Including conjured and magical versions of that weapon.

Level 6: Creature immunity

Choose a creature when you gain this feature. You have immunity to damage from that one specific creature (e.g. cobra, ghul, efreeti) provided that you do not make any attacks on that creature. If you ever make an attack on one creature of that type, you lose this feature permanently (a wish spell can restore it).

Level 10: Element immunity

Select between fire and cold when you gain this feature. You have immunity to damage for that damage type.

Level 14: Another creature or weapon

You may choose one more creature type or weapon type. You may not choose a creature type if you have lost your previous creature immunity.

Mystic

Alcohol is not common in Zakhara. Instead of Drunken Master, it's Dervish dancing.

Open Hand, "Drunken Master" (Dervish), Four Elements or Sun Soul Monk; Celestial Warlock.:
Benefit
You can gain followers as if you were a cleric and you gain the Channel Divinity ability as if you were a life domain cleric (Turn Undead [and, for monks only because cellylocks already have enough healing: Preserve Life]).

Outland priest

Any other divine class or subclass but you come from another land.

Punishment:
If any zakharan human is present, you have disadvantage on checks. If a pragmatist, ethoist or moralist is present, you also have disadvantage on saves.

"Class first"-approach

Barbarian

Zealot:
Faris, Desert rider
Any other path:
Desert rider

Bard

Sword, Lore:
Barber, Rawun, Sa'luk
Any college:
Rawun, Sa'luk

Cleric

Life domain:
Pragmatist, Ethoist, Moralist
Knowledge domain:
Hakima (women only)
Other domains:
Outland priest

"Druid" (a.k.a. Kahin)

Any circle:
Kahin. There is also a new (optional) circle available: Circle of the Aged Masters.

Fighter

Battle Master, Eldritch Knight, Champion:
Askar, Corsair, Desert Rider, Faris
Cavalier:
Desert Rider
"Samurai":
Mamluk

Monk

Open Hand:
Mystic, Barber
"Drunken Master" (Dervish), Four Elements, Sun Soul:
Mystic
Shadow:
Holy Slayer
Kensei:
Outland priest

Paladin

Ancients:
Desert Rider, Askar
Vengeance:
Faris, Askar, Corsair
Devotion:
Askar, Mamluk Faris
Redemption:
Faris
Conquest:
Mamluk, Corsair

Ranger

Beast Master:
Desert Rider
Hunter:
Desert Rider, Askar, Corsair
Horizon Walker, Monster Slayer:
Hakima
Gloom Stalker:
Outland Warrior

Rogue

Assassin:
Holy Slayer
Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive, Mastermind:
Barber, Merchant-rogue, Sa'luk, Matrud
Scout:
Desert Rider, Sa'luk, Matrud
Swashbuckler:
Barber, Corsair, Sa'luk, Matrud
Thief:
Beggar-thief, Merchant-rogue, Sa'luk, Matrud

Sorcerer

Divine Soul, Shadow Magic, Storm Sorcery, Wild Magic:
Two-Element Sorcery, Elemental Mage
Draconic Bloodline:
This unenlightened bloodline will abandon ye in the Land of Fate.

Warlock

"Noble Genie" patron from this UA:
Sha'ir
Celestial:
Mystic
Great Old One:
Ajami

Fey, Fiend, and Hexblade patrons will abandon ye in the Land of Fate.

Wizard

Any school:
Two-Element Sorcery, Elemental Mage

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by Tim Baker »

That's an impressive list. You've clearly put a lot of thought into this. From the perspective of one school of RPG design thought advocating for relative balance between PCs, do you think the kits will challenge that balance? For example, I noted that there are benefits, no change, and punishments, depending on the kit selected. Some are social-, some are combat-, and some are exploration-based as well. I don't think 2e had balance in mind as much as 5e – are you trying to capture that 2e feel in much the same way?

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by thorr-kan »

Looks good to me.

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

Thanks to you both for taking a look♥
Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:08 pm
From the perspective of one school of RPG design thought advocating for relative balance between PCs, do you think the kits will challenge that balance? For example, I noted that there are benefits, no change, and punishments, depending on the kit selected. Some are social-, some are combat-, and some are exploration-based as well. I don't think 2e had balance in mind as much as 5e – are you trying to capture that 2e feel in much the same way?
Yeah!
I know that real 5e backgrounds need to be on the exploration/social level only but for these I wanted something that really had a big impact on your character. I sometimes think that "balance" is kind of relative to that group's particular groupthink, house rule, campaign style and so on. I've been playing with these dorks since the starter set came out in 2014 and they've started to settle on what stuff they think is best. For example "outlander" background is taken disproportionately often because of how strong the navigation ability is.

I wanted to hew a little bit closer to the orig 2e kits than what we've been doing in previous campaigns. Maybe this new campaign will teach me that I need to go even further in the 2e direction, or swerve back a little bit closer to 5e RAW, or if this is a good middle ground.

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by Tim Baker »

2097 wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:47 am
I wanted to hew a little bit closer to the orig 2e kits than what we've been doing in previous campaigns. Maybe this new campaign will teach me that I need to go even further in the 2e direction, or swerve back a little bit closer to 5e RAW, or if this is a good middle ground.
If you find that the players enjoy the 5e core mechanics, but with a more old-school feel, you might want to check out Five Torches Deep.

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

(This post might need to be moved to another forum here on this wonderful Piazza because it strayed into kinda the OT.)

Thank you!♥
We already have our own 5e-derived system. Implemented not as a stand alone game but as a ginormous set of house rules. "2097e". I publish rules from it modularly and I haven't written up a coherent document with everything yet. For example here are our injury rules, here are our rules for fighting since we don't use minis and here are our inventory tracking rules.

The system as a whole is likely to feel tantalizingly familiar to 5e users but at the same time quite rules-heavy. It wants to have answers to everything. That's one reason why I like to publish rules from it modularly. So people that need a particular rule can get it and be happy. Also I'm not sure I can publish the whole thing because I've used stuff that's non-OGL (not in any published part of the game but certainly at our table). But one day I'll try to write the whole thing up and gather it from my blog, from our campaign web page, from various reddit- and forum posts I've made.

My recommendation is that people start with the 5e Starter Kit + 5e Essentials Kit (do not skimp on the Starter Set and do start with the pregens) and then add, create, borrow, use the rules from various other games and other DMs that they need so the game grows in complexity gradually. That's how our own game has grown, like a big old filthy open-source palimpsest. It's marvelous♥

I'm familiar with the other games FTD talked about (Knave, Into the Odd, Black Hack, and even my friend's game Whitehack). Many of my rules are also heavily inspired by LotFP, Sine Nomine, Torchbearer, Dungeon World, and Hillfolk. Especially the latter, it's great at creating relationships and drama.

But I hadn't heard of FTD itself. I'll go through its features below and compare it to what we have.
Character Creation: there’s only four classic races
In 2097e every type of being works. For specific campaigns we might use subsets or say everything goes. For this upcoming campaign we have this subset:
  • Human (PHB)
  • Dwarve (PHB)
  • Elf (non-drow) (PHB)
  • Gnome (PHB)
  • Half-Orc (PHB)
  • Half-Elf (PHB)
  • Halfling (PHB)
  • Genasi (Princes p 227, or the Elemental player's companion)
  • Bugbear (Volo's)
  • Goblin (Volo's)
  • Hobgoblin (Volo's)
  • Kenku (Volo's)
  • Kobold (Volo's)
  • Lizardfolk (Volo's)
  • Orc (Volo's)
Because it's a design feature that on the player's side there are very little changes. It's fun to me that you can just use pretty much any 5e character. I adore the modular nature of 5e where a "human rogue" from Basic D&D without any feats can adventure side by side with a, uh, "Asimaar Paladin of the Ancients multiclassed with Wild Mage Sorcerer with like five feats" or some bullshit like that. Now, we played for 1 year before I allowed feats&MC. And for our aQ campaign, I'm restricting MC to only the classes within your kit.

There are specific pinpoint nerfs and buffs (most of the nerfs involve darkvision, light and food spells. Some buffs include that thiefs now are better at climbing and assassins are better at disguising themselves) and I've tried to keep that list as short as possible.
each with a distinct method for generating ability scores and class restrictions.
We use the original AD&D1e method which 5e also uses: 4d6 drop the lowest in any order.
I also allow standard array but not point buy.
Character Classes: warrior, thief, mage, or zealot. Classes follow the design structure of 5e (scaling proficiency bonus, class features at set levels, etc) with more specialized “archetypes” unlockable at level 3. These archetypes bring in classics like the Barbarian, Warlock, and Druid without completely reconfiguring the class itself. And with only four starting classes, it’s easy to roll up a random character at level 1.
Again, it's a feature of 5e that there can be so many classes. Restricting to a subset of classes can make a very flavorful world and that's awesome but that's a decision made on a campaign-by-campaign basic. Imagine a world where all arcane casters are warlocks for example.♥

What I've done though is that I've added one class, the "searcher", which is special. It's inspired by Searchers of the Unknown and 3:16 Carnage Among the Stars. The searcher doesn't have any ability scores (so it's an exception to the 4d6-L-any-order). It just has "attack bonus" (used for attacking) and "ability bonus" (used for everything else). So when we have a guest player who is only showing up for a single session and doesn't want to learn our complex system they can just grab it, look at the level column, and fill in the corresponding hp, attack bonus and ability bonus.

I wrote this after being frustrated with the Black Hack and Microlite for not being lite enough. The point though is that this "searcher" can sit side by side with weird multiclass+feat-heavy "builds".

Basically there are four levels of character complexity:
  • the searcher
  • the essentials kit (before it was published, we used the third party book dungeonesque for this)
  • PHB without feats & multi
  • everything's allowed
So when my old school friends show up for a campaign or two, I hand them the essentials book and say that they should stick to that. But for those who have played in my group for six years it's fun for them to build more unusual characters.
Level 9 Cap: PC play beyond level 9 is a different type of game. FTD focuses on dungeons and adventure, not domains, strongholds, and cataclysms. This makes a tighter gameplay loop: delve into dungeons, fight monsters, learn spells, acquire loot, repeat.
We do have rules for strongholds and domains. But most of the play is low-level since that's where new characters start. With the exception of our Tomb of Annilation campaign where we had the campaign-specific rule that you started at the party's level when you died. (Which sucked. But I guess was necessary for ToA to work.)
Ability Scores: the classic six abilities return, but special attention has been paid to ensure that ability scores and modifiers have a mechanical impact. Your STR score defines how much Load you can carry; your CON how many hours you can go without rest; your CHA the number of retainers you can command, and so forth.
This isn't OSR. In B/X your ability scores shouldn't matter much (which is why 3d6 in order is fine there). But it is 5e raw though.
In 5e, STR does say how much you can carry. You make CON saves to force march without exhaustion. And your CHA sets your loyalty score + number of contacts.
Default DC: the assumption is that (almost) all tasks and checks are DC 11. This expedites gameplay and helps make it more predictable and transparent for the players.
Yes, this transparency is great. I always say the DC before they roll. "Make a DC17 CON save" I might say.
I also use a consistent but kinda complex method to set DCs. (The user Pink2DS on reddit is me.)
Inventory and Resource Management: a system to track carried load and supplies. Should you bring heavy weapons and armor or leave enough room to abscond with more loot? Equipment can be used, damaged, foraged, crafted, and repaired. The system adheres to quick but logical gameplay (no dice, no bean counting, but very light abstraction).
Inventory and resource management is a huge part of our game. I want to look at their rules so I can talk about it on my comparisons of my own system with other systems. Or if it's even better than mine, switch to it.
Retainers and Hench: in proper old-school style, PCs are expected to travel with a retinue of retainers and loyal followers, called “hench.” There’re rules for specific types of retainers and the commands you can give them in battle.
Yep, we have this♥
Wilderness Travel: distances traveled and resources consumed depending on terrain, light, and weather. The interplay between Travel Turns, supply, and resilience makes for difficult choices.
Yep, we have rules for this♥
Travel Turns: a simple system in which the GM regularly rolls on a table every hour in a dungeon or day in the wilderness. Travel Turns create a cyclical ritual: mark spent torches, reduce supply, note hours traveled (make a Resilience check as necessary), and track if monsters spring an ambush or stumble into the party.
OK, we don't use this. We track time minute by minute so I can say "OK scratch 47 minutes from your torch". That makes spell casting times sometimes matter very much. I do use the idea that most things take 10 minutes. Walking in places where you have walked before and are very familiar is way faster. You can go between almost any two familiar rooms in 3 mins.
Volatile Spellcasting: all spells can be cast quickly - demanding a spellcasting check with potentially calamitous results - or over the course of hours, which necessitates no such check. Casters then must decide if they are willing to risk wandering monsters or a potentially high DC that could result in loss of limb or sight.
We just use 5e ordinary spell casting. I've mentioned nerfs to light spells before: the nerf is that some of those spells require components. Especially low-level spells.
Rest and Healing: rests have been broken into “safe” and “unsafe,” which have different mechanical effects on healing and exhaustion.
We have "comfortable sleep" and "uncomfortable sleep".
There are few quick ways to restore HP, encouraging the need for consumables and cautious rest. High-level characters need days to rest sufficiently and heal back to full.
In our game, HP isn't "meat points". HP is just fatigue. So it makes sense to regain it on rest (we use the 5e RAW there). For some campaigns I've used the "short rest is one night, long rest is one week" rule from the DMG, and I've also used a custom variant "short rest is one night, every third such short rest counts as long". The rationale is that sometimes you are so tired that you need weeks in bed.

HP is used as a kind of "action points" you spend in order to not get hit for real. Let's say a sword attack comes atcha and you say you want to block it with your shield. But you fail your defense roll, the orc outread your shield movement, and is now going to hit your chest beyond the shield. But you can pay the 1d6+3 HP (or whatever "damage" that attack has) to sidestep or to parry with your sword. And you are now 1d6+3 HP more tired and might need to listen to some bardic songs of rest or hear some healing words etc.

There are ways to get real injuries, wounds, and even death save failures and that's where healing magic really shines. Some injuries are too serious to be easily healed with low-level magic.
Debilitating Injuries: any time a PC is reduced to 0 HP, they will die unless an ally resuscitates them. After being stabilized, the incapacitated adventurer must roll on an injury table; many of which have consequences that result in permanent Ability Score damage or loss of limb. Parties beyond level 1 usually comprise of mangled adventurers that bear the scars of their past mistakes.
Yes. This is an option in 5e's DMG that we also use. We've had our share of one-legged, scarred adventure parties.♥
Monster Generation: Quick monster generation: refer to monster category, HD, add any relevant techniques, and done! Techniques and tactics allow for enormous flexibility in only a few pages. FTD makes monster creation or conversion a cinch, and can be done on the fly.
Yes and no, for us:

On the inside of my DM screen I've glued the official monster conversion rules that WotC made. Even though I know it by heart by now: their attack bonus is half hd+2. (Or, since we use players making defense rolls instead of monsters rolling against player's AC, the monster's attack value is half hd + 12.) And I love using OSR modules for that reason, the simple monsters. But I almost never get to do it, for two reasons:
  1. Most of the OSR stuff I use either don't have stats at all (Trilemma, One Page Dungeon. I love 1PD but I hate that you can't put stats on there!) or they use the weird "This guy defends as a fighter with plate and shield" supposedly more "universal" method instead of just listing an AC. Converting between descending and ascending is way easier than having to look up armor values! (But since I do run a lot of these modules I have those values listed on the inside of the screen as well).
  2. Most of the time we use 5e (or 2e) stuff and there the monster stat pages are more complicated.
  3. And a lot of the time it just says goblin, skeleton etc and it feels weird to not just use the 5e version of those.
Point of rant: I wish more OSR books actually did use a traditional B/X style monster stat line right there on the page. Like Dyson's Delve does.
Tools and Principles: guidelines on how to get into the mindset for OSR play
This is great! Most of the rules I've made are rules for me as DM to follow rather than rules that affect the players. That's core to my DMing philosophy.
an adventure framework, and even generators for charged situations and dungeon layouts (including a novel technique leveraging a classic six-color puzzle cube).
Uh and it took to the last bullet point for them to bring up something that made me actually want to buy this thing! That sounds fantastic! I have a ton of stuff like this but I can always use more! That's the best part of D&D, it's so modular and you can use so much material.

I usually say that the "all-things-to-all-people" nature of 5e means that it's very very hard to find a group that plays it the way you want to play it. I would die if I was playing in an MCDM style of fudging and stacking decks and curating the "story". But the upside of that nature of 5e meas that it's very very easy to find TONS of material that works with the game, regardless of your playing style! Maps, stats, spells, adventure generators, whole campaigns!

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

That "DC is always 11 thing" I like. I would've gone with something like that if I would've made my own game completely instead of having compatibility as such a high prio. Althoooo if I did make my own game it would probably look more like Everway than anything like D&D hahaha♥

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by Tim Baker »

Thanks for the super-detailed response. It gives me a good sense of the tone you're looking for in your game. I can tell you've really thought through these mechanics. Nicely done! I need to logoff, so I apologize for the short reply. I'll think about this a bit, and if I have more to add to the thread, I'll come back to it tomorrow.

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

Just checking out Five Torches Deep now and I want to say something about the "lower ability scores" thing because I think that's based on kind of a mathematical fallacy. "Lower = more challenging".

The average chance of success of a character on a "d20+mod vs dc" is going to be based on the mod and the DC. If you lower both you haven't changed anything and if you raise both you haven't changed anything. With that axiom in place, that means we can select an ability mod ranged based on other criteria. And then set the game's DC to match that.

For me, the criteria I want is:
  • most relevant mods to be zero or positive so that we have to subtract as seldomly as possible. I hate subtraction.
  • some mods to be negative because we do want generally low mods and zero mods so we don't have to add big numbers to the d20. I hate adding big numbers.
  • mods to not change wildly over levels so we can run sandboxes where you can go pretty much whereever you want over a big region. I love bounded accuracy. Some progression makes sense but not PF2E "adding your level to the roll".
  • buuut... all that balanced with us wanting mods to have a big range so that your character's ability actually impacts the roll, actually impacts the chance of success, more than just the flat d20. a +7 vs a +2, both rolling vs dc 15: the former would succeed 65% of the time, the latter would succeed 40% of the time. We want this because we want characters to matter.
We particularly want rogue skills to be completely sick compared to normal skills. Remember that their sneaking & climbing & lockpicking is competing against Invisibility, Spider Climb and Knock spells! We want the rogue to shine doing rogue stuff, not "Batman" wizard with a utility belt of rogue-emulation spells.

With all that in mind, that's why I think vanilla 5e actually does things perfectly. "4d6 drop the lowest" creates an assymetrical curve with a long tail towards higher numbers. Which is the perfect algorithm for all four of our criteria above. Most numbers are positive, most numbers are 0 or 1, but there's a chance of the occasional +4 in there which will succeed 20 percentage units more often than a ±0. (5e didn't invent 4d6 drop the lowest, it's from AD&D 1e. But 0e and B/X used 3d6 straight up.)

We have a proficiency bonus that significantly rewards trained characters while only sloooowly rising across levels. Also good, for sandboxing purps. Expertise is fantastic, doubles proficiency but there is still some tension in rolling, some chance of failing.

That said, yes I definitely definitely agree with their advice that most of the times there is no skill roll at all. If they look in the box and the prep says the statue is in the box well then they find the box. Duh. We've actually cut skills out of the game (we keep ability rolls and tool proficiency rolls in). Buuuut since attacks and most everything else that does involve a die is based around the mods, I'm very happy with our method of generating the mods.

So yes they're right that 99% of the play time should not involve rolling against your mods, but no I disagree with them on what those mods should be for the rare times you are rolling against them.

Dice & rules, especially combat rules, are "the guns on the negotiation table". You definitely hope to get through the night without having to pick them up. But when you do need to go for them, you want them to work well.

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Tim Baker
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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by Tim Baker »

2097 wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:45 am
Dice & rules, especially combat rules, are "the guns on the negotiation table". You definitely hope to get through the night without having to pick them up. But when you do need to go for them, you want them to work well.
I appreciate your well thought out post. I especially liked this statement at the end.

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2097
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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

Thank you Tim!♥
That "guns on the table" thing is something I came up with a while ago and have reused over the years hahaha. Because it's one of my fave models for why D&D is the way it is.

In the end, once I had gotten through FTD completely, I was a little bit disappointed. For example, their system for supply & load is not what I want. I've found that one of the easiest ways to start thinking the same kinds of thoughts that your character would think, is by managing your gear _as it is_. It's not difficult to write down how many candles or how many arrows you have, and then look at that and go "oh, yikes, we're down to the last few torches now". It's such an immediate interaction at the same level the character would be interacting with these things. Going through the "interface filter" of their SUP rules adds a glass darkly in front of that experience without making the game any faster or cleaner or more challenging.

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Re: 5e♥2e Classes&Kits

Post by 2097 »

I saw that this li'l thread was featured in a news post! Cool!♥

In our house rule docs I've made some small tweaks and I've removed the merchant-rogue kit because I wanted all classes to be able to do trading.

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