Changes I Want to See in D&D 5e
Posted by Journeyman GM
Last week, I wrote about my predictions about D&D 5e. This week, I’d like to share a few things that I wish Wizards of the Coast would include in D&D 5e, but that I doubt would ever happen. Still, at least I can hope.
- Hindrances: Heroes are not just defined by their strengths, but also by their flaws. Consider Superman with the constant need to rescue Lois Lane. Iron Man with his struggles with the “demon in a bottle.” Boromir (movie version) being so loyal to Gondor that he was willing to forcefully take the Ring from Frodo to use it to defend his homeland. Han Solo with, at least initially, always being “in it for the money.” I think that it would be really great for D&D heroes to be able to take a few hindrances in exchange for mechanical benefits, further making them memorable and less about being a walking bag of attacks. Which is more interesting, a flawless fighter or a fighter who is wanted by the law and is driven to find his lost love?
- Action Points Like Story Points/Drama Points/Bennies: To me, Action Points just aren’t actiony enough. One additional standard action (usually an attack) every other encounter. Yawn! Other games do this much better with some sort of points that let you take extra actions, reroll bad die rolls, or alter the story. In my D&D games, I take a page from other systems and give them out for good role-playing and allow them to be used multiple times per encounter (but no more than once per turn) to get additional standard actions, reroll d20 rolls, or alter the story in a minor way. The result: more action in the points. It’d be nice if it were core.
- Combined Skill & Attribute Checks: So the party wants to persuade someone? The silver-tongued devil who wants to fast-talk him like a used car salesman would roll a d20 and add her bonuses from Charisma and Diplomacy. If she fails, the opulent dwarf may be able to convince them by having a drinking contest and convincing the drunken loser to go along with their plan. He’d do this by rolling a d20 and adding bonuses from Constitution and Diplomacy (probably making an opposed check). Systems like Cortex and Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space do this well. I think it’s an interesting mechanic that allows more flexibility, more storytelling and more interesting characters. (That said, of all the things on the list, this I think is the one I could most easily do without).
- XP Not Based on Killing Stuff: This is probably something I should devote an entire blog post to, but it’s important enough to mention here. Although the DMG does try to encourage the DM to give out XP for completing quests and finding non-violent solutions, running into a room and killing everything inside is the surest way to gain XP and therefore many players make that their default action. I think we’d have much more interesting (and less bloodthirsty) characters if XP were given out regardless of what happened in a session, or based on some other metric. It also might encourage players to run away from the monsters every now and then (ever seen that in 4e?).
Sadly, I doubt that these are going to happen. Things like XP for killing stuff are “sacred cows” which Wizards of the Coast has refused to kill. There are a lot of people who don’t want D&D to undergo drastic changes, but sometimes I really wish it would.
So that’s what I wish would happen in D&D 5e. What would you like to see?