Skills and Classes for the Younger Set

Two players from my old Dungeon World group are looking to play something different. They have expressed interest in either my White Star house rules (but fantasy) or 5e. They don’t know that my White Star game house rules are essentially Swords & Wizardry classes with The Black Hack mechanics. The only concern for my old school proclivities was a lack of differentiation between characters of the same class.

I know, I know. I believe the memories of a characters’ exploits make them different from other characters, not the character sheet. Yes, it took me many months to train them to stop staring at the character sheet to see what they could do. Still, I feel like it would help them if they had a system that felt more like 5e. Selfishly, I think it would also help me ease into running a 5e game, so maybe we can all win.

I am considering a skill system bolt-on that adds only two rules:

  • You can try a skill, roll per normal rules against the attribute the GM names.
  • If you have the skill, add +2 bonus to the attribute being tested, a roll of 20 is always a failure.
  • You can add a new skill every 3 levels.

The list of skills would be the standard from 5e, but wouldn’t be tied to an attribute. On the character index card, skills would be listed next to special abilities. Since I haven’t had a game go beyond 10th level yet, three skills doesn’t feel like too many. At higher levels, since their primary attribute will likely be 17 to 20, it encourages skills for weaker attributes. This fits with the goal of making characters of the same class feel very different mechanically.

The only difference mechanically between a character with a skill and a special ability is that a character with a special ability rolls with advantage. More specifically, a Conjurer with the skill can roll under Dexterity for Sleight of Hand (which could mean picking pockets, palming a coin, or something) while a Thief rolls the same task with advantage. In fact, using the 5e skills (because they are more broad than 3.5 skills) also gives me tools for building classes.

A Bard is a character that rolls with advantage (Charisma) for Persuasion and Performance tests. An Ranger rolls Perception tests with advantage. Thieves could range in abilities (roll with advantage to deceive, or to gather food while adventuring outdoors.

The benefit I see mechanically occurs at lower level, but the bonus is low enough that it might encourage diversification. I’ll have to play with this some more.

On the Open Gaming License

There has been a surprise development today. It appears that the 5e SRD has finally been published! The full link is below:

http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/systems-reference-document-srd

I am going to be reading this 398 page behemoth at lunch. At first blush, it appears that the Product Identity is the same. Lots of class and race options as well as the standard array of creatures from earlier SRDs.

I have seen comments scattered around saying that certain options are not available. Since I am ignorant of 5e, I really wouldn't know. I hope to have something more intelligent to add.

Not that it was entirely necessary, but you can now use the word advantage to apply to the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. Mechanics themselves cannot be copyrighted, but saying that a character has advantage on a specific roll was not technically OGL until now. Again, that is probably not a big deal to anyone.

One thing of note is that Wizards has provided an option to add to the Forgotten Realms through the DM Guild. My personal preference is to avoid that, but the DM Guild information is something I will want to read. I'm sure there will be plenty of others excited about that.

It almost goes without saying that I feel like making O5R games in the spirit of all the S&W Whitebox games coming out recently. My Thursday night group would likely enjoy White Star translated to 5e. We shall see.

Bwa ha ha ha.