Monday, February 22, 2016

D&D Combat Done Differently - Heretical D&D 5e

Recently, Douglas Cole had an idea about D&D 5th edition combat and took it and ran with it. In short - what if the narrative disconnect between "the orc stabs you in the guts!" and "I recover all the HP from that with a Short Rest" could be bridged with some different mechanical approaches?

It starts here:

Heretic DnD5: Hit, Miss, Armor, Shield

and continues in this series of posts. It's fun to watch it grow from "what happens if I do this?" into "I can really do this" to "let's see if doing this is fun in practice."

Naturally, because this is the internet and gamers like to argue even without the internet, there has been backlash. There is a "you're trying to make D&D into GURPS" line of comment out there, according to Doug.

I can assure you Doug isn't trying to turn D&D into GURPS. First, because Doug plays GURPS, and would just go play that if he wanted the same rules and results you'd get in GURPS. Second, and perhaps more importantly, what he's driving towards isn't GURPS. It's different from GURPS and from D&D 5th edition as written. It's a tangent to both. It shows some influence from GURPS (injury should have consequences besides death, recovery shouldn't be quick, shields should be significant) but equally it shows ones very different from GURPS (equipment-as-HP, advantage/disadvantage, different emphasis on tactical choices.)

If anything, the wounds/stress split reminds me of Body/Stun from Champions - injury versus temporary loss of ability to fight. The concept of recovery bringing back stress but rest and healing bringing back wounds resembles that as well.

Overall it's a really interesting idea - can you change the very basis of D&D hit points in a way that allows combat to change but the game to keep fundamentally compatible with the materials available out there? Can you bend D&D's approach into something else and have that something be interesting and playable? People have twisted the D&D rules into new shapes before before. It's where so many RPGs spawned from, as changes to D&D. People have written games off the D&D rules that bear little resemblance to the fantasy game they came from.

So why not try to change the D&D combat system and see if something cool emerges? That's pretty much what Doug is doing and it's fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. Another direct analogy that someone pointed out to me was 3.5 (3.0) Edition's Wounds and Vitality, which doesn't quite go as far as I am going with shaking things up, but clearly points in that direction. Kyrinn Eis noted that there was also a game called Stormbringer (from 1981!) that had a similar approach.

    Thanks for the shout-out, though. I'm in the middle of outlining all the things that might change, and then I'll edit out all the things that MUST be dealt with.

    I also need to talk to you about grappling, and soon, with relation to this project.


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