Friday, August 21, 2015

alter20: Thoughts on a d20 Variant

As the In Places Deep group is probably sick of hearing, I got into RPGs via Star Trek, not D&D. The whole level, class, lack of negative abilities thing—didn't absorb them early enough for it to make sense to me.

Thing is, though, I think 3e—the edition of D&D which was my introduction to the game, because I'm a stinking millennial—has a pretty solid structure to it, at least in levels 1-4. I'm a fan of the character generation in Call of Cthulhu d20: like BRP, it assumes skills are going to be medium for the majority of your mechanical interactions with the game world, and though it doesn't go far enough in integrating the rest of the organizational cruft (like BAB and saves) into the skills, it at least gives you a broad choice between an "offensive" (high BAB, one good save) and "defensive" (bad BAB, two good saves) character. (I also like the optional AC bonus per level.) It still has HD increase with level, though, so it's not perfect.

Whatever. The point is, I don't like levels.

Here's some notes toward a levelless version of d20. (Also a goal: no dice but d20s.)

Same, although scores are dropped in favour of just using modifiers. (Here's a table for using a d20 to randomly assign attributes—six rolls in order, of course.)


Now modifiers to stats derived from Class Features, like in 5e. Alternately, some of their functions (like dodging for Reflex) might fall under a Skill.

There as normal, but skill points are handed out bundled at chargen, in the hope of avoiding class/crossclass weirdness. (Maybe occupation/hobby split, like in BRP?) Increasing skill points is the primary route to advancement. BRP-style advancement might also be an option.

Highest skills at chargen should probably still cap off at 4, although there should be a way of having that be an emergent limit instead of just being like "this is the cap at chargen."

Probably going to have an open skill list, or one with broad categories which lots of things can fit into. (Sciences, armed combat, persuade). I guess you could borrow the skill (specialty) from CODAtrek, although as 5e recognizes the skills are already specialties of each Attribute, so they should just be organized per Attribute, with some tied to particular keywords (like Combat, Defense or for example)

Attack Bonuses
Fall under Skills. Weapon Proficiencies would need to be skill categories (Armed Combat: Axes).

Thinking attack actions might be formalized more, like in 4e or [Splat] World. That allows access to maneuvers or riders/added effects to be pinned more clearly.

Hit Points
Use a variation of Injury Saves from the SRD.

Now a roll, because I'm a jerk. Defense options might fall under various skills, too—a Dodge skill might be a good idea. Parrying would be under Armed Combat.

Class Features/Feats
None should just replicate skill bonuses, but should be exception-based things (like increased damage or new ways of using a skill in combat). They're each tied to a particular skill though, and become available at skill breakpoints for an expenditure of additional skill points. I'm thinking 1/2 the breakpoint number as a baseline for each, and for the first skill breakpoint to be 4 points (so 2 points for each ability at that level.)

Spellcasting is accomplished through sacrificial magic. If you want to accomplish something through magic, write it out in obsequious language and hand the note to the GM, along with an appropriate sacrifice of food and drink. Pizza and coke is traditional, but individual GMs might have different desires. (I prefer coffee, for example.)