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Stan
2015-10-07, 02:00 PM
I swore that I'd never mess with major mods to D&D again. But my son wanted something like D&D but classless for a historical fantasy game he wanted to run. Once I got to playing with it, it turned into a low magic, classless system that I think I'm going to use for a 1930's pulp game I'm planning.

The gist is you get one ability from some class every level, without having to go up through the levels in a class. I avoided prerequisites for simplicity. Working spells in such a system is hard to balance so spells are limited to those gained from special abilities or feats. Yes, this totally screws up power related to CR so you have to rethink encounters - I'm used to that it can be a headache.

I'm not too worried about some things being more powerful than others as players can pick freely. However, I don't want anything so powerful that everyone feels compelled to take it. I've also tried to pair weaker powers into one power to make them worthwhile. If you see anything that is going to blow it all up, feedback is appreciated. Details of the rules below:


At first level, every character has:
Abilities of one class and one background
2 skill proficiencies
1 language or tool proficiency
Proficiency with simple weapons, light armor, and shields
2 features chosen from the list below

At each additional level, characters gain one new feature. If they are 6th level or higher, they may pick high level features. Feats and ASIs are gained every 4 levels. Features are listed by class only for convenience in finding them in the phb.

Features
Barbarian: Rage, Reckless Attack, Unarmored Defense, Fast Movement & Danger Sense, Spirit Seeker/ Walker, Totem Aspect of 1 animal
Bard: Bardic Inspiration & Countercharm, Song of Rest, Jack of all Trades, Expertise
Cleric: 1st level domain ability (no wpn or armor prof), Turn Undead, Channel divinity (2nd level ability of 1 domain)
Druid: Wild Shape
Fighter: Med & Heavy armor, Martial Weapons, Fighting Style, Action Surge, 2 Maneuvers & 2 Superiority Dice, Improved Critical, Remarkable Athlete
Monk: Martial Arts, Ki, Unarmored Defense, Deflect Missiles
Paladin: Lay on Hands, Divine Smite, Sacred Weapon, Nature's Wrath, Turn the Faithless, Abjure Enemy, Vow of Enmity
Ranger: Natural Explorer & Primeval Awarerness, Ranger's Companion, 1 Hunter's Prey
Rogue: Sneak Attack, Cunning Action, Fast Hands & 2nd Story Work, Assassinate
Sorcerer: Font of Magic & Metamagic, Draconic Resilience, Tides of Chaos
Warlock: 1 Pact Boon, 1 1st level Patron feature, Invocation without level prerequisite
Wizard: 1 2nd level Arcane Tradition

High Level Features
Fighter: Extra Attack, Indomitable
Monk: Stunning Strike, Evasion, Whole of body, Shadow Arts, Shadow Step, Disciple of the Elements
Paladin: Aura of Protection
Ranger: Hide in Plain Sight & Vanish, 1 Defensive Tactic
Rogue: Uncanny Dodge
Warlock: 1 6th level Patron feature

Hit Points
Option 1: All characters use 1d8 + constitution bonus per level for hp
Option 2: All characters have hp= constitution score + (Level x 2)

Notes
Features do not increase with level and are frozen at their initial level. For example, lay on hands always does 5 hp/day.

Cantrips do not do additional damage at higher levels

Features that normally require a resource such as a spell or ki are instead usable once per short rest.

Given the lack of magical healing, consider adding the following to the Medicine proficiency. Characters with the Medicine skill may attempt first aid within 1 minute of a wound (DC=15). Success yields the target 1d6 hp. Characters may not gain hp this way more than once per short rest.

Without class specific equipment lists, itís easiest to roll for starting gold.

Extra Attack is likely to prove popular; consider giving it to everyone at level 6 for free.

I didnít include many higher level features because 1) Iím lazy, 2) I wanted to avoid the equivalent of feat chains and prerequisites, and 3) Most of my campaigns advance semi-slowly and rarely pass level 10.

Features that have multiple options, such as Fighting Style, can be selected more than once. By default, you cannot choose other features multiple times.

There are many minor magical features but very few spells. If you want a slightly higher magic game, consider allowing Magic Initiate to be take multiple times. The second time you take it, you gain one 2nd level spell and two 1st level spells. The third time, you gain one 3rd level spell and two 2nd level spells. And so on.

mictrepanier
2015-10-07, 02:29 PM
I didnít include many higher level features because 1) Iím lazy, 2) I wanted to avoid the equivalent of feat chains and prerequisites, and 3) Most of my campaigns advance semi-slowly and rarely pass level 10.

Well, if your son and his friends like it! I'm a fan of point-based games and I used Catadon method found here

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yfd6dx7iiim4g4x/5e%20unusual%20races%20point%20build%20104.pdf?dl= 0

and spreadsheet

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yzilg1hmdc0mewe/5e%20Design%2020.xlsx?dl=0

and for a few extra days at http://community.wizards.com/forum/dungeon-master-help/threads/4234921


I recommend you to set points to any ability and then cherry-pick what you want. Otherwise, min-maxers will abuse these loose rules hardly!

Stan
2015-10-07, 02:39 PM
I see assigning points for abilities as limited in effectiveness - I've been down that road before. It's a a great deal of work. And there are still going to be some things priced better than others. There's also the issue that points are for a generic campaign and don't take into account usefulness for a particular game. But the main issue is it adds complexity in chargen and I really want simple for the young and/or casual players in the group.

In practice, it's easier to handle big problems post hoc and adjust if a character seems under/over powered, assuming that you're playing with reasonable people.

Ziegander
2015-10-07, 07:39 PM
Uh... by my reckoning there are NO spells, like, at all, so I'm not sure why anyone would ever take anything like Metamagic, Tides of Chaos, or Arcane Traditions...

Wait... actually Monk features grant access to spells, but Cleric/Sorcerer/Wizard do not... ok...

If you're doing what you're doing, and you don't feel like being any more precise, where's the wisdom in not simply saying that at 2nd level any character can gain any feature available to a 2nd level character, at 3rd level any character can gain any feature available to a 3rd level character, any 4th level character... et cetera, et cetera? Cherry-picking, sure, but at this point, you seem to have basically gutted the game. A player couldn't even build a straight, non-archetyped Rogue or Fighter from 1 to 20 out of these rules.

Stan
2015-10-07, 08:23 PM
A key point is that this is for historical fantasy so low spells are intentional. You can get a 1st level spell through magic initiate. You can also get rituals and cantrips through feats or warlock features. Yea, that greatly lessens the value of all types of metamagic. But most of the arcane traditions give you abilities that are not tied directly into spells (at least at 2nd level) -those that require a spell to activate can be used once per short rest without spells.

I would have kept going with features of higher level abilities but I figured I could keep going once a campaign gets high enough level.

The idea of taking any ability of a given level is good, though I think it would still be awkward with spells.

Ninja_Prawn
2015-10-08, 01:25 AM
Looking at this, I'm inclined to wonder if it will leave PCs badly underpowered against monster CRs, especially after ECL 5. After all, you've stripped out most of the scalable damage (spells, sneak attack, divine smite, etc.) - all you have now is extra attack and a few bits and pieces here and there.

If your game is set in the 1930s, you might be able to offset this with firearms, which could grant big hit bonuses (to represent armour penetration and the fact that it's harder to dodge a bullet than a spear-thrust) and bigger damage dice/built-in rapid fire.

Stan
2015-10-08, 06:22 AM
Looking at this, I'm inclined to wonder if it will leave PCs badly underpowered against monster CRs, especially after ECL 5.

Yea, any time you mess with the amount of magic available to players, you pretty much have to throw CRs out the window. Not only do characters have less power, but some monster invulnerabilities become magnified. You can't run a standard premade adventure with these rules. If I was intending to go beyond level 8-10, I'd put more scalable powers back but it would not be able to keep up with CR.

In the current game using these rules, we are in 12th century Manchuria, trying to decide whether to go after a crime lord hiding in Korea or venture out to Mongolia to find a fabled magic spear. Most of the opponents are going to be animals or humans, made with these rules or standard NPCs.

For the 1930's, it would be a pulpier version of CoC, where monsters are rare but truly dangerous. Characters would have special abilities but very few would obtain melt-your-face level magic for long. That's why I left in magical abilities but took out most spell casting.

You could also use something like this for Arthurian tales, or most pre-D&D fantasy. Beyond Merlin, who is an obvious DMPC, there's not a lot of spell zapping going on. Most characters are martial types, some with extras such as Gawain's waxing and waning strength. Sure, there are lots of other rule systems out there - some groups enjoy trying whole new rule systems, some don't. For the latter, a small tweak restricted mainly to chargen that results in a much different feel is helpful.