Friday, January 25, 2013

My Ideal Version of Dungeons & Dragons

I've been thinking a lot about Dungeons & Dragons lately and a project that I've been tinkering with ever since Wizards of the Coast announced they were working on the 5th edition of D&D. After looking through the playtest documents, I noticed some things that I liked but decided the game wasn't really for me. However, D&D Next (which I hope isn't the final name for 5th edition) did inspire me in a strange way.

I started to think, "I wonder if I could make my own version of Dungeons & Dragons? One that stayed true to the recognizable aspects of D&D, but was still simple enough to play and easy enough for those who had never played D&D to understand."

So, for the past year I have been tinkering and occasionally working on this project whenever I had free time. Sadly, I haven't really gotten very far with it. However, I hope to change that. I've decided to really buckle down and try to finish this project.

However, before I can really finish this project, I really need to take a step back and make a few decisions. I need to decide what I would want in my ideal version of D&D. Once I know exactly what I want, it might help me turn my random notes and stuff into a coherent whole. So, I thought I'd make these decisions here.

So, here is what I want in my ideal version of the world's oldest roleplaying game.

Ability Scores
I want the six classic abilities (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) in the game. I also want the traditional numerical scores with an associated bonus or penalty. To generate these scores, I would prefer random generation with dice over a point-buy system. Most likely, I'll go with the default method of "roll 4d6, drop the lowest result". 

Races
I know I want the four classic races (Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Humans) in the game as the base races. Other races can be added at a later date once the core rules have been established. I want the races to also have a uniformity to what they get so it will be easier for new players to digest and for GM's to create their own races. I'm thinking Ability Score Modifiers, Creature Size, Base Speed, Vision Type, Skill Bonuses, Saving Throw Bonuses, and Automatic Languages. I might go into each of these further at a later date.

Classes
Like with races, I want the classic four (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard) in the game as the base classes. Each class would grant the character with weapon and armor proficiencies, a number of hit points, bonuses to saving throws, and a base attack bonus. Also, each class would possess a number of "themes" that would allow a player to further customize their character. Clerics would possess domains, fighters would have styles, rogues would have schemes, and wizards would have schools. I'm thinking each class would have eight themes to start with and more can be added at a later date. 

Skills
I want to have a smaller list of skills, but each skill have a number of uses. I'd probably combine Escape Artist with Acrobatics, combine Climb and Swim into Athletics, and combine a few other skills. I'll probably end up using the Skill Training rules that were presented in the Alpha playtest for Pathfinder because I like how simple it is. 

Hit Points
Since I've never been a big fan of rolling for hit points, I think I'm going to have each class grant a set number of hit points at each level. 

Magic
I think I'm going to keep the Vancian system that D&D is known for. While I can see why some would prefer a "spell point" system, I've always liked the feel of Vancian magic and I find it more fun. I'm sure I can find a way to make it work. 

Combat Actions
One of the things I find annoying in 3e and its variants is the number of different action types you have to remember. I want to simply it down to what I call the three M's: Major, Minor, and Move actions. Major actions would be your Standard actions, Minor actions would be your Free Actions, and Move actions would remain as they are. I'd probably add in full-round actions as well. 

Core Mechanic
I think I'll probably keep the basic d20 mechanic. Rolling a d20, adding some modifiers, and trying to match or beat a target number is a simple mechanic and like the old saying goes, "Don't fix what isn't broken." 

So, these are some of the things that I want to include in my ideal version of Dungeons & Dragons. There are also a few minor things as well, but they can be saved to another time. What are some of the things you'd like in your ideal D&D?