I like it.

I like that you need to have lots of different skills and abilities to make a character work. I like that one rolled or chosen high score doesn’t eliminate most of the challenges for a character. I like having to make choices as to what I’m good at (not that I mind it if I roll up a D&D character with few weaknesses, or get assigned 300-500 points in GURPS. Awesome can be rather fun.)

I might get around to this one day, might not. But I always thought it would be fun and good to take the basic 5e ruleset and see how much more MAD you can make it. I could start with S&W, and I’d likely be adding some sort of skill system to it in order to help spread the MAD around. 

Fifth Edition has actually done a nice step in this direction already, given the various attributes that skills are based off of. There’s a good smattering of skills for everything but CON.

Where else might I look?

Well, you get your DEX bonus to hit, and STR bonus for damage. For both melee and ranged. DEX 20, STR 10? Great. You roll 1d20+5 to hit, and 1d8 damage for a longbow. Other way around? 1d20 to hit, 1d8+5 for damage.

More excuses and ways to use all attributes in combat. CHA-based Intimidation attacks. INT based ruses. WIS is already useful for Perception, but needing to make a roll (or likely just use the passive score, with an option to roll) in order to pay attention to multiple assailants. A CON roll to deal with fatigue either in or after a battle. 

Actually, that one gives me an idea. Hmm.

As I’ve been doing my “make a character” challenge, I note that usually there are three stats you need to mind. The primary stat for your class – STR for fighters, DEX for archers and thieves, WIS for priests, etc. There is often a “secondary” stat which isn’t secondary at all – your power stat. CHA for Paladins, WIS for clerics and monks, INT for mages. 

And then there’s CON. CON is HP, and HP are life. So everyone needs CON.

Fighters need DEX too, right? Not so much, though the boost to initiative matters. Mostly (but not always), I’ve seen fighters waive their DEX bonuses in exchange for heavy armor. You can get to AC 17 with Studded Leather and DEX 20, or the best medium armor and DEX 14. Beyond that, you need heavy or magic or both. And then you have disadvantage on stealth and no DEX bonus for armor anyway, so melee fighters can deprecate it. That gives them STR and CON.

My charcters tend to have high WIS, because I hate being the guy standing there not noticing a foe.

I’d obviously want/need to flesh this out more. The best place to start might be were I trying to use the 5e base (and a non-existent OGL) to create a 5e Modern game. Then I could tinker, playtest, revise, weep with frustration, revise again, playtest some more, give up, start over, and finally emerge triumphant. 

You know, the usual writing process.

For now, it’s all in the “hmmm” stage. But I really do like rules where if you start with something like the standard array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) then there’s no class and no stat for which you say “but of COURSE” I put my 8 there. That won’t impair me at all.

13 thoughts on “It’s a Mad, MAD world

  1. Speaking of messing with D&D… are their any good OSR or d20 variants that give you the general D&D class system, monsters, etc. but replace the AC-based system with a Damage Reduction system, use a flat HP (only for damage, not fighting skill), and your skill either making you harder to hit or giving you a defense roll? I know there are d20 versions that do this for other genres, I'm just wondering if there's a good dungeon adventure one that keeps most of the other rules…

    1. Thanks – that was an interesting read.

      I do think I've seen a variation of this particular system before (I thin the first implementation I recall was in White Dwarf magazine c. 1978) and to some extent with Palladium's house system. It does add a DR system, but it doesn't really get rid of the big gob of hit points = defensive ability. It just makes a clear break between "hit points (vigor) as defensive ablation" and "hit points as injury."

      I was wondering if there was a version of d20 dungeon adventuring that went "all the way" with no ablative pool for defense, but instead strictly relying on, say:

      Defense = 10 + (same value as your attack bonus + Dex bonus)

      And hit points being strictly based on resistance to injury. Of course, this would require massive rewrites of the system, hence my wondering if it there was a good hack already out there. I know there are d20 systems that DO do something like this, but I haven't found one yet that is also recognizably a D&D system in other ways (standard monster list, class list, etc.) despite this change…

    2. I think the main problem is that active parries are a class feature for the Swashbuckler hybrid class and the Duelist prestige class, it would feel like niche invasion to give them to everyone.

  2. I, too, have a preference for MAD over One Stat to Rule Them All. Might be a good opportunity to have WIS/INT impact XP gain after a battle, if desired. I believe that's something we briefly discussed a little while ago.

    1. Could be – I'm more thinking of choices that make each stat count. Heck, a contest of CHA to see if a merchant is willing to sell to you at all, or will give you a nice discount because you're both part of the same church is a way to make MAD worthwhile that doesn't have much to do with whackin' orcs. The key, to me, is for each class to have to roll against all of their stats for something key to the game. If your game is all combat, all the time, then a CHA, INT, or WIS roll in combat (WIS is easy – Perception) is key.

  3. I think there's a good argument to made that Wisdom – if it represents situational awareness – could also provide a defensive bonus in addition to Dexterity, or perhaps against ranged attacks.

    I suppose it's the nature of the beast of the d20 system, but it always seemed a bit odd to have game rules where you waive DEX bonus (adds to defense) to add armor (adds to defense) .It would be more elegant if the effect occurred elsewhere.

    I do think wearing a (full, anyway) helmet should give you a charisma and wisdom penalty and I'd actually prefer to see heavy armor give a reaction modifier penalty.

    1. For Monks at least, DEX + WIS bonus both add in to armor class – it's called Unarmored Defense. I personally like the use of a Perception roll to see if a combatant sees a Thief's sneak attack coming, especially when invoking the "if any other hostile is within five feet of your foe" as well as the "I'm shooting you with an arrow. From behind" thing that always used to drive me wild about Pathfinder (that was the first return to D&D for me where I realized that facing did not matter. took a bit to get used to.)

      I had noodled on having dexterous characters not get totally nerfed by heavy armor here: http://gamingballistic.blogspot.com/2015/04/dex-bonus-maxima-for-armor.html

      One thing that I did notice in d20 Modern was that the DEX bonus plus Armor bonus for all of the modern armors always max'd out at 19. So it was a deliberate nod to "I don't care how you get there, be it a tactical vest at raw AC 19, DEX bonus 0, or a leather coat at AC 13, DEX bonus maximum +6, but you max out at the same place" Or so it seemed to me.

    2. I haven't looked closely at the monk class yet under 5th edition (got the 5e Players Handbook but haven't had time to play it yet) but I do like the idea of them getting to add Wisdom to AC. Fits nicely with the character concept.

      Giving what amounts to a Wisdom-based saving throw to negate a thief's sneak attack bonus is kind of neat.

      I guess ignoring facing does mean you don't have to worry about accidentally knocking a miniature 45 degrees in the wrong direction… That said, was always surprised they didn't go with it – more fun to backstab when you can actually backstab. (It's not like facing rules need be GURPS-level complex – just ignore facing until you STOP moving….)

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