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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

D&D Tom Edition – Part 1: The Foundation


So, I had this great idea. In light of WotC’s announcement of 5E, I thought it would be cool to make my own Edition of D&D. This would be the equivalent of forming a mercenary company for the Edition War.

What I am proposing is to take all of the bits I like from all of the previous editions (there are even a couple of things I like in 4E), and see if I can make them all mesh smoothly into one system. Personally, I think it’s doable. All of the various editions have a few elements in common. These I consider the foundation:

Six Attributes – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. These have never changed. In a variation of 2E there were optional modifications, but the basic attributes stayed the same. So, they will in mine as well. I will probably also add Comeliness from Unearthed Arcana.

Hit Points – This is the one point that seems to get a lot of flack from non-D&D fans. The idea that you can fight at full strength until you hit 0 HP. True, it defies logic, and I may integrate wound rules, but the basic premise of having Hit Points is a good mechanic, so it stays.

Armor Class – There have basically been two variations on this, with various third-party alterations. Either higher is better, or lower is better. I will probably go with Higher for simplicity, but either way, AC stays.

Classes – I have always liked classes, and each edition seems to have a different explanation for their use. Personally, I like 3E’s version, wherein “classes” are not the same as “professions.” Rather they are classifications for a specific set of skills, abilities, etc. So, a level in Fighter doesn’t necessarily mean you have been trained to be a professional soldier. It just means that you have learned to use a set of skills (wielding weapons, wearing armor, etc.) that are typically associated with the Fighter “class.” It’s up to you to determine how you got them.

Levels – Related to Classes are Levels. In the 1E PHB, there is an extensive explanation for the use of the term. Basically, “level” is a way to level the playing field, so to speak. It’s a way to measure one’s ability against the ability of others, including monsters and foes. Also, in 1E character levels had a title associated with them. For the most part, this was just flavor text. But in the case of Clerics, for instance, those titles could be used as Ranks within an organization. This was how I always justified level-limits for non-human characters (though I think in some cases, they were set too low). After all, how many churches would allow a half-orc to gain much power and influence within their hierarchy?

Half-Orcs – 4E lost major cool points with me when they dissed my beloved half-orcs in the Player’s Handbook. True, they included them in the PHB2, but that meant I had to buy a whole other book just to play one. But, all kidding aside, there are basic races that should always be available: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs and Gnomes. Everything else is optional.

As you can probably surmise, these foundation concepts will lead into some decisions about other rules (such as multi-classing, Advanced/Prestige classes). I will admit that much of my Edition will draw heavily from 3E (or more accurately, 3.5), as that is my favorite edition, all nostalgia aside. But, if I could compile all of this into an actual RPG format, it would definitely have a more old-school feel. B&W illustrations, tables, etc.

I basically have my ideas for this already in place. But, I’m interested in hearing others’ opinions as well.  Have I forgotten or overlooked something you think is essential?

3 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm afraid I will be less than useless in such an endevour my friend.

Tim Shorts said...

The Tom Edition, I like the sound of that. What about saving throws? Would you go for the traditional 5 or the will, reflex fort or the single save number. And will this TE version be a box set?

Tom Doolan said...

Charles - No worries. It may be fun just to view the geekery from the outside. :)

Tim - I've been contemplating that. On the one hand, I am a huge fan of the flexibility of 3E's take. On the other hand, I kind of like specific save types. What I may do is use the 3E ones, but add a couple more in. Probably detail that in a future post.