While I may currently hide behind the ultra-cool label of "Star Wars Geek" currently, I must also admit to the fact that as a younger geek I also indulged in a certain role playing game by the name of Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, D&D was my introduction to the world of 'gaming' and the focus of a lot of my creative energies in Jr. High and High School. Alas, my relationship with D&D mostly came to an end when I discovered my 'true love'—the Star Wars D6 RPG.
I've spoken before as to why I like the D6 system so much more than any other, so I won't go into that again. But even saying all of that, there is something compelling about the D&D system, even after all of these years. I have run fantasy adventures and even a few campaigns using the D6 system, but strangely enough, they never felt quite...right? I suppose a lot of that has to do with nostalgia for the D&D system. It is what I 'cut my teeth' on, and what I came to so closely associate with that particular genre. When I see knights and dragons, I think of 'classes', 'levels', 'hit points', etc.. It just seems natural. For whatever the reason, that genre and those rules seem to fit. It is just the same with Star Wars and D6- it doesn't feel right with '10th Level Jedi Guardians' and 'hit points'.
So I am forced to admit that as much as I LOVE the D6 system, and still feel that it can be used in ANY genre, there are times where I 'yearn' for a good 'old fashioned' D&D campaign. But whenever I get to thinking about doing that, I always run into the same old blocks that turned me off of the system in the first place. Advanced D&D, for instance, just doesn't have the 'symmetry' to it that I like. It is, for lack of a better word, 'quirky'.
D&D is a product of its upbringing- i.e. it was not developed from the 'top down', but rather, during play- with all manner of house rules being gradually incorporated into its canon. Thus, you have bizarre things like the percentile differentiation for strength, but straight numbers for all other stats. Likewise, skills and abilities (thief 'hiding in shadows' and elven 'detect secret doors' for instance) are sometimes governed by percentile dice, other times by d6. I guess that is one of the things that DID appeal to me about D&D 3rd edition- the more consistent approach to things like this.
So where does all of this rambling lead me? To another 'project' of course!- a revamping of the D&D system. Yes, I know. So many others have done this already. And no, I don't intend to 'publish' this or anything of the sort. Its just something I'd like to do so I can run my own D&D campaign at some point- without all the complications and annoyances I found in the other published editions. If I had to describe what I have come up with so far, I would say it is a 'mash up' of the old B/X (Basic/Expert) D&D, with a healthy dose of 3rd (or 3.5) edition- with a little of 2.5 thrown in.
I won't go into a lot of detail here, but a few aspects of what I'm thinking are as follows:
1) There are only five main attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.
As per the '2.5' edition rules, these can each be broken up into two 'sub-attributes' (though this is purely optional). For example, Strength is broken into Muscle and Constitution- which can vary slightly from the base stat. For example, a character is generated with a 16 STR. They could split this up into a 17 Muscle and 15 Constitution (favoring Muscle over health) or a 14 Muscle and 18 Constitution (not overly musclebound, but very healthy). As with the 2.5 edition rules, you can't vary more than 4 points between the sub attributes (thus, the 14/18 split above is as far as you can go). To me, this makes sense, especially with strength. I never liked the idea that it was possible for someone to have an 18 Strength and a Constitution of 3. Yes, you can make all kinds of arguments as to how this would be possible, but to me, it was never PLAUSIBLE. Plus, I like the idea of being able to 'fine tune' your character if you want. I also like the idea that you can just ignore this rule if you'd like. If you roll a 16 for strength, you just keep a 16 in Muscle and Constitution. Easy peasy.
2) There are only 3 classes. Fighter, Mage, Rogue.
There are also multi-class combinations of the above- which allow you to progress in two (or even all three) classes simultaneously. I never liked the D20 system of being able to multi-class each level- mainly because it forced EVERYONE to be single class at first level, no matter what. You're an elf who was raised by a great warrior and a wizard? Well, too bad. You can either have NO fighting abilities or NO magic abilities until you're second level. Bleh.
What I did like from the D20 system was the fact that all classes use the same level advancement scheme- i.e. no matter what class, it costs the same amount of XP to advance a level. For multi-class characters in my system, it would mean that folks with 2 classes pay twice the XP to go up a level and a Fight/Mage/Rogue would pay three-times the XP. Again, simple.
Depending upon what skills/spells a character chooses, these three classes can incorporate a variety of different 'sub-classes' that people are used to in their D&D. For instance, a Fighter who has wilderness skills could be termed a 'ranger'.
2a) Why no Priests/Clerics?
I suppose it is a personal thing with me. I never much cared for the 'religious' system implicit in most D&D settings. I never liked the idea of 'gods' just being ultra-powerful, extra-planar beings (complete with stats and hit points). Likewise, I always disliked the idea of player characters being raised to the status of gods. I'm not saying it is 'wrong' or that my 'christian beliefs' don't allow it or whatever (hey, its just a fantasy game). I just personally don't care for it. I also feel that having a more 'ambiguous' faith- one that does NOT have such 'tangible' evidence as a god coming down to say howdy to his followers- is more dramatic. Oh, I would still include all the 'Gods' of ancient beliefs (Olympians, Asgardians, etc.). They would still be powerful extra-planar beings (with stats and hit points), but they would not, in fact, be the 'creator spirit' of the universe. So, yes, maybe there is some christian influence in there. But that's just my particular preference.
For those wondering, most cleric spells would be just another 'school' of magic spells, available to any mage who studied them (i.e. Mages could be healers, etc.). The exception to this would be spells of a truly 'divine' nature- things like 'Bless' and Holy Word and even the ability to turn/control undead. 'Divine' spells like this would be available to mages ONLY if they chose a special ability I call "True Faith". In the game world, these 'divine' spells would be of somewhat ambiguous origin. For those of 'true faith', they would be a sign of 'God's' power, focused through them, the faithful. For atheists, they would be simply another school of spells- albeit one that seems to require a particular belief that they do not possess. Also, even Non-Mages can take this 'true faith' ability- allowing them to utilize holy symbols to turn undead. To me, this hearkens back to the old adage that it is not a cross that turns a Vampire, but the faith of the person using it. True faith would come with a price, however- requiring an individual to live by a code of ethics, etc.
3) Hit points and healing would be handled just a bit differently.
I didn't like the fact that as player levels increased, the effectiveness of cure spells dropped off. A cure light wounds cast on a first level fighter with 1 hit point left out of 8 could, conceivably, heal him from the brink of death to perfect health. Now take a high level fighter who has lost 40 of his 80 hit points. It would take at BARE MINIMUM 5 cure light wounds spells to bring him back to full. When you consider that loss of hit points represent a wearing away of 'luck' as well as actual physical injury, this makes no sense at all. So, what I propose is this (some of which is taken from D&D 2.5).
The 'wound level' of an individual is determined by the percentage of hit points he has left.
A person with 75% to 99% of their hit points are just a little, bruised or Superficially Wounded, with no real injuries. A character suffers no ill effects at this wound level and their health will not deteriorate further unless they are injured again.
A person with 50% to 74% of their hit points are considered Lightly Wounded. A Lightly wounded character suffers no ill effects from their wound, but must bind or heal the wound within a short while after combat (within 1 turn- requiring an 'easy' Healing skill roll) or they may become moderately wounded.
A person with 25% to 49% of their hit points are considered Moderately Wounded. A moderately wounded character suffers a penalty of -1 to all attacks, defenses and skill rolls. The wound must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'moderate' Healing skill roll) or the character will become severely wounded.
A person with 1 to 24% of their hit points are considered Severely Wounded. A severely wounded character suffers a penalty of -2 to all attacks, defenses and skill rolls. The wound must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'difficult' Healing skill roll) or the character will become critically wounded.
A person with negative hit points are considered Critically Wounded. A critically wounded character must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'very difficult' healing skill roll) or the character will die.
A superficially wounded character is 'healed' with a few minutes (1 turn) rest. i.e. after 1 Turn, a person would be restored to 100% of their hit points.
Light Wounds are healed with a cure light wounds spell. i.e. someone injured down to 50% of their hit points could be restored to full health with this spell. If no spell is available the wound may be 'bound', requiring an easy healing skill roll. This keeps the wound from becoming more serious, but does not give back any hit points.
Moderate Wounds are healed with a cure moderate wounds spell which will restore the character to full health. A cure light wounds spell will automatically 'stabilize' the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. Likewise, a successful (moderate) healing skill check allows a moderate wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.
Severe Wounds are healed with a cure severe wounds spell. Which will restore the character to full health. A cure moderate wounds spell will automatically stabilize the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. A Cure Light Wounds spell has a 50% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but likewise will not return any hit points. Likewise, a successful (difficult) healing skill check allows a severe wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.
Critical Wounds are healed with a cure critical wounds spell. Which will restore the character to full health. A cure Severe wounds spell will automatically stabilize the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. A Cure Moderate Wounds spell has a 50% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but will not return any hit points. A Cure Light Wounds spell has a 25% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but will not return any hit points. Likewise, a successful (very difficult) healing skill check allows a critical wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.
So, yeah, this is quite a bit different than your usual D&D. Though it hasn't been playtested, I imagine this is going to have the effect of giving characters a bit more 'longevity' during a dungeon crawl. They will likely be able to replenish their hit points after a battle a lot more easily than a 'standard' party would, especially if they are only 'superficially' or 'lightly wounded' in a confrontation. I personally like this idea, as it prevents the group from having to withdraw from the adventuring locale as often as they might otherwise.
I also like the idea of giving wounds 'weight'. In D&D, folks function at 100% effectiveness even if they're down to their last HP- that never sat well with me, either.
Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts for the system- and enough for my tangent today.