Thursday, April 12, 2018

D&D 5e: There's No School Like Old School

Artist: Bill Willingham
A recent post on Facebook got me thinking about Old School play again, and how Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition can be adapted to imitate the feel of older editions.

The gist of the post was that a DM had his players roll 3d6 in order to determine their character's ability scores and the now 5th level Rogue was concerned about his exceptionally low hit points (which they are also rolling for) due to a low Constitution and some bad die rolls.

Of course, there was a combination of "Your DM sucks!" and "This is old school... Suck it up and have fun with it." responses, which all somewhat miss the point because Session 0 should have set the expectations for that game...

But I digress... because that's not what this post is about. It's about B/X-5.

You see, a couple years back I had actually started to compile a list of rules for an 5th Edition compatible "old school" game based upon the D&D 5th Edition System Reference Document (SRD5). But, you know how life can sometimes get in the way of shit you want to do.

Anyway, after seeing this post, I took some of the pieces of my original idea and crafted a document for anyone who wants to try their own version of Old School 5th Edition. You can view the Google document here.

Summary of Changes

... Or you can jump right to the Google document here.

Classes: Classes available are Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard. The B/X-5 Core Rules will introduce the Race-as-Class concepts for Dwarf, Elf and Halfling (in development).

Feats: Feats have been removed from B/X-5. Instead, each class will have specific level-based benefits that are more limited in scope than Feats (still in development).

Skills: The skill system is considered optional. The base game will treat all skill checks as attribute checks. As the core rules are developed, an optional skill system will be presented. For the purpose of this document, use the current 5th Edition skill resolution rules.

Backgrounds: As with skills, Backgrounds are somewhat in flux. For now, a Background is "tell me what you character did before being an adventurer and pick two related skill proficiencies." I'm considering adding 13th Age style Background/Skill points as an optional system.

Magic: The spell system utilizes “spell slots” like 5th Edition. Cantrip spells exist, but their casting is limited by “0-level” spell slots. While magic as a resource is more limited, but there should still be plenty of combat options for spell casters.

Combat: Combat mechanics are generally the same. However, since B/X-5 characters are less combat optimized, combat is a more serious (and deadly) endeavor, and should be treated as such. Encounter balance is probably out the window, but old school games don't give a damn about that.

HP Recovery and Healing: Healing is slower. A long rest only restores a fraction of hit points and some healing dice. This makes healing magic more valued as a resource, as it was in earlier editions. Dropping to 0 Hit Points is also more likely to result in death.

Resource Management: Due to Cantrip restrictions, resources such as food and light are not as abundant. PCs are also not able to carry a ton of equipment into caves and dungeons. Part of B/X-5 is selecting the right equipment for survival in hostile environments.

Multiclass: There is no multi-classing option in B/X-5.

Compatibility: The B/X-5 character classes are mechanically compatible with 5th Edition, but will be slightly less combat optimized.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the modifications I've come up with to make D&D 5e a little more "old school". Please share your ideas and comment on the blog or B/X-5 document. For the very curious, a couple years back I also shared some of my design ideas on Race-As-Class for Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings.

Artist: David Trampier

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...