Thursday, February 2, 2012

5e++

It's been a while since I checked the 5e news on EnWorld, but I did recently and found a series of pleasant surprises.

"Instead of the fighter getting a better and better attack bonus, he instead gets more options to do stuff as he goes up in level, and his attack bonus goes up at a very modest rate. I think it offers a better play experience that the orc/ogre can remain in the campaign, and people can know how the monster would work from a previous experience, but they remain a challenge for longer."
Taming the ever-upward tendencies of D&D!?  The best kind of heresy, and possibly one of the things that I like about Traveller - you're still mortals, even after six terms (rich, well-armed, well-connected, skilled mortals, but very much threatenable by a sufficient number of 1-term marines).  Perhaps they're learning from E6.

"Vancian magic is core. Other options for other classes, but wizard and cleric are Vancian.  Wizards have magical feats that are basically at will abilities. Hold on to higher spells until needed.  Fireball is a static 5d6. If you want more damage, you use a higher-level spell slot."
 So basically reserve feats meet 3.5 psi augmentation.  Reserve feats were a really neat idea in 3.5, but they needed more support and perhaps could have been better thought out in some of the details; if they're core in 5e, perhaps they'll be better developed.  Likewise, 3.5 psi was one of the best-done magic systems for 3.x, so this is exciting on that front as well.  As for Vancian...  meh.  Spell points are an easy fix, always.

"Cleric getting back to the cleric of 1E that fights with a mace and shield and gets his party back up."
 Hooray!  I've always kinda wished that clerics were more along the lines of medieval monks, but templar / crusader clerics are a step in the right direction (away from the "unstoppable wizards in heavy armor" that they were in 3.x).  The 1E cleric has historical backing from the Bayeux Tapestry, too.

"Magic items no longer part of essential progression mathematics.  We're running with the idea that magic items are special and not bound to character progression.  Magic items are possible, but difficult to create by PCs.  Not balancing the classes based on the expectation of magical items."
 Huzzah!  This needs little explanation, I think.

"3E-style multiclassing."
 Also good.  4e-style multiclassing via feats really failed to achieve a proper hybrid feel (until hybrid classes in 4ePHB3, which remained inflexible), and 1e multiclassing / dual-classing was just a mess.  I just hope they get multiclassed spellcasting right this time...  I suppose if they don't, it's also not terrible to houserule (having seen / read TB), but it would be cool if multicasters weren't nerfed from the beginning.

"Classes still have important ability scores, but there's room for the charismatic fighter.  Classes give you bonuses like race does (e.g. a cleric gets a WIS bonus).  Half-orc gets +1 STR.  Fighter gets +1 STR. Generally race gets a +1 bonus.  Basic is 4d6 drop the lowest for ability scores, but other options available."
 A nice change - your first class providing a bonus to its core stat is fairly sensible.  Has kind of a basic training flavor about it.  Also, get thee behind me, Point Buy!

"A class or theme might give a bonus to a skill, but no actual skill list.  DM calls for relevant ability score check, and if you have a class or character feature that gives a bonus to that action, you add it in.  Makes possible for open-ended, infinite set of specific flavorful  micro-skills.  Easy to completely leave skills out of the game."
Open-ended skills!  No more long lists cluttering up the standard character sheets.  Very 1e.

"Themes cover potion-makers and blacksmiths.  Like kits from 2E. You can improve in that theme with feats etc.  Or you can use skills and feats to customize your own theme.  Themes such as commoner, noble, knight, apprentice.  Also planetouched, deva, avenger. There is one called "pub crawler".  So you can have an avenger themed paladin.  Themes tie into open-ended skill system - skills for specific themes."
This is good for several reasons.  First, having character backgrounds other than race be a thing is nice on the backstory / characterization side - you're no longer wasting points on Craft(Blacksmith) that you should be putting in Spot.  Second, support for crafting skills!  A lot of people really hated on these in 3e, but I think they're actually worthwhile, especially if they're not something that you're paying through the nose for.

"I want them [skill challenges] to die in a fire."
 A militant position, but perhaps not unwarranted.  Justin Alexander explains the issue well here.

Anyways: I am excite.  This is actually looking fairly compelling.

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