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Bare Bones 5E

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    Bare Bones 5E

    Hi all, I'm Cai. I used to be very active on this site, but I've been away for a while.

    I'm interested in starting up a fantasy campaign and I'm looking for a system. I was thinking about going OSR and I still might, but I've also been knocking around the idea of running a bare-bones version of 5E.

    There's a lot that I like about 5E. Bounded accuracy. The advantage/disadvantage system. Some of the current definitions of spells. Legendary actions for bosses. The way leveling is handled.

    But there is a big thing I don't like, and that is the massive number of options and combinations of races/classes/feats/ etc. Even the core rules have too many for my taste and don't even get me started on the splat books. I dislike these options so much that I haven't been playing 5E at all. That seems a shame, so I came up with this idea.

    Here is what I'm thinking:
    • Core rules only, and not even all of those
    • 2 - 3 playable races (which ones will depend on the campaign world) and most of the group would be human
    • A limited selection of classes. Definitely Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard. Maybe Druid, Ranger, Barbarian, and Paladin.
    • Only one path for each class. If that.
    • No Feats.
    • Characters would use the "low power campaign" point-buy system at level one, but they would be able to increase their attributes per the rules as they level up.
    • Multi-classing would probably be old-school. No more than two classes, you have to take both classes in the beginning, and you have to advance both equally throughout your career.
    • Very little room for character optimization or builds. The PCs would be expected to grow organically during the campaign.
    • In general, I'd be looking to exclude abilities that have to be tracked or which only work in certain circumstances, or that have a ton of options associated with them.

    Why would I be so mean as to do all this? Because I think the benefits of simplicity and play speed outweigh those that stem from having a ton of character build options.

    So, my question is, am I alone in all this? Would anyone else be interested in a streamlined, minimalist interpretation of 5E?

    If you're on the fence, let me tell you some other things I'm thinking:

    I'd like to bring in the OSR (Old School Revival) idea of resource tracking. I especially want to do this in terms of exploration. I want to create an untamed setting where things get more and more dangerous the farther you get from civilization. Things like having enough food and carrying enough torches with you would be a big deal. Dealing with the environment would be a factor in the game. Because of this, I would probably ban a fair amount of "convenience" magic that allows entire groups to ignore little problems like running out of water.

    There would likely be scary monsters or unfair encounter groups in the game. The PCs would be expected to circumvent these challenges in other ways, but if they choose to try to fight their way through I'm not going to do much to protect them. I won't try to sabotage them, either, but I'll RP the monsters and let the dice fall where they may.

    The campaign would probably be episodic in nature, with some adventures a part of a larger storyline (what I like calling a front) and others just being random things the PCs want to do. I find this to be a PbP friendly way of playing these sorts of games. It would probably also be a sprial campaign, with a somewhat detailed starting location and some vague details about the larger world. The campaign setting would grow alongside the PCs.

    That's all I got. I'd appreciate your feedback.
    Last edited by cailano; 05-09-2021, 05:33 PM.

    #2
    I'd potentially be interested, depending on what you allowed and what you didn't. The biggest problem with restricting things to just PHB options, and then restricting those even further, is that balance is all over the place. I wouldn't say that you're alone in wanting fewer options, but you're a bit in the minority. I do think 5E is well on its way to getting to be too big for its britches as power creep is becoming a big issue. In previous editions that was because of feats and magic items, while in 5E it's all about the subclasses. But much of that ties back to the fact that some PHB options honestly just suck. So chalk me up next to "Interested in the idea" and once you've figured out what you want to keep or toss, I'll let you know if I'm interested in playing.

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      #3
      Yeah, balance isn't something I'm worried about as I consider it to be an illusion. Balanced in what way? In what situation? Are we taking things like magic items into consideration? Versus what type of opponents or challenges? Against a bunch of weaker opponents? Smaller numbers of big ones? What if they have special attacks? Against traps? In the wilderness or a city? I'm sure you get where I'm going with this.

      In my opinion, as long as all PCs have an opportunity to shine, video game stats like DPR or whatever are irrelevant.

      The beauty of TTRPGs is that they are run by game masters. Having that human at the helm skews the balance question so much that it comes unmoored from the reality of a campaign.
      Last edited by cailano; 05-09-2021, 06:28 PM.

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        #4
        I can't pretend that playing in a Cai-run game again doesn't sound pretty darned fantastic, so if you run it, my friend, you can assume you'll get an application from me. :)

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by cailano View Post
          In my opinion, as long as all PCs have an opportunity to shine, video game stats like DPR or whatever are irrelevant.
          That's what I'm talking about. So again, my level of interest would depend on the final trimmed list. As long as what's left are things that can still be enjoyable, I'm interested.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Raistlinmc View Post
            I can't pretend that playing in a Cai-run game again doesn't sound pretty darned fantastic, so if you run it, my friend, you can assume you'll get an application from me. :)
            And I'm sure you'll make a unique character no matter what restrictions are in place. Which is exactly what I like to see.

            Although how you're going to top the hideous gay half-orc barbarian who falls in love with a human (and, um, female) princess and becomes the artifact-wielding champion of a royal house is a little beyond my ability to predict
            Last edited by cailano; 05-10-2021, 01:45 PM.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Psynister View Post

              That's what I'm talking about. So again, my level of interest would depend on the final trimmed list. As long as what's left are things that can still be enjoyable, I'm interested.
              Gotcha. They'll all be enjoyable, I promise.

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                #8
                As it turned out, he was bi but just didn't know it yet. *shrug*

                Kimiko seemed to have that affect on people. haha :)

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                  #9
                  Okay, so I've been thinking about the responses I've seen here, the amount of customization I can do without feeling silly, and some of the optional rules in the DMG.

                  I think I can get that "modern OSR" feel I'm looking for by picking and choosing a few of the published optional rules, and just emphasizing certain elements of the game that don't require rules changes.

                  I also think I found a good published campaign to do all this in with Rime of the Frostmaiden. It just so happens I've got some experience running a fantasy game in an artic hellscape.

                  I need to do some more reading in the campaign book before I can start a recruitment, but I'll be looking for 4-6 players soon.

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                    #10
                    Sounds good to me. I got RotFM, but I haven't even cracked it open yet. I hear it's pretty good, though.

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                      #11
                      I'm interested. I'm looking for a new 5e game as couple of my games have come to an end. I like keeping rules simple, it's so much easier to remember and plan things.


                      "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none." - William Shakespeare

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Psynister View Post
                        Sounds good to me. I got RotFM, but I haven't even cracked it open yet. I hear it's pretty good, though.
                        I think it looks like a moderately difficult AP to run. It's sandboxy in parts, but with the right group I think it could have some great moments. The challenges as a DM will probably come in tying everything together and breathing life into the setting. Icewind Dale has the potential to get a little monotonous with all the ice and snow.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by TheElvenMaiden View Post
                          I'm interested. I'm looking for a new 5e game as couple of my games have come to an end. I like keeping rules simple, it's so much easier to remember and plan things.
                          I agree!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Elven! Good to see you! I miss seeing you around and gaming with you, bud!

                            Cai, she and I were in the same game together for six years until the party just TPKed about a month ago. It was a heckuva run. :)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Raistlinmc View Post
                              Elven! Good to see you! I miss seeing you around and gaming with you, bud!

                              Cai, she and I were in the same game together for six years until the party just TPKed about a month ago. It was a heckuva run. :)
                              A TPK after six years?!? I hope it was a glorious moment!

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