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[Theory] Flavors of D&D II: Finding the Right Tools for the Jobs


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Sorry for the necro, but ...

Thus, this topic arises from the grave like a hungry ghoul or desperate Hollywood sequel. :)
... the foreshadowing was too great :)

I think the purpose of this thread remains very much relevant; more so with 5e's promising of rules modules that felt like the goals here and backtracking on those claims (I don't want to get in on the merits of that decision). I think 5e is very amenable to quick rule packages that reinforce the themes of one of these flavors.

So I've been tinkering, and according to this...

I'm hoping other gamers will help me expand that with corrections and references to other variants on D&D, as well as settings, adventures, and rules options that best reinforce each flavor and can help get a campaign in each style up and running.
This topic should be a good fit.

So, without much further ado, here are some

Optional (draft) rules for Paladins & Princesses style play for D&D 5e.

Rule: Using a bonus action, you inspire your allies to find their inner strength. You must be within 15 feet of the ally and they must be able to perceive you. Instantaneously, they can freely use a healing surge (as detailed in the DMG p266). You cannot inspire yourself; only relations with each other will give you that.

(I'm searching for a word better than inspire, because that's confusing with inspiration. In any case: healing surges are very powerful, and the fact that you can only give it to another should reinforce the themes of community and interdependence)

Rule: When NPC's you love are threatened in combat, you receive a free Action Surge as per the Fighter rules. This rule applies only once per short rest.

(A GM should threaten NPC's very sparingly, because too much encourages PC's cutting links with NPC's. If a GM has to, this rule gives something in return, so it doesn't end up in frustration)

Rule: A long rest equals time spent in your community with your friends, celebrating your safe return and daring deeds.

(This rule eviscerates logistical play in favor of guaranteed screen time for the fictional goals of this play style. Mission based play becomes the norm here. I wouldn't change short rests)

Rule: At the start of their turn, a villain may taunt or threaten you to disturb your inner strength (as a free action). If you decide to stay calm, nothing changes. If you give in to your inner turmoil:
– This turn, the villain has advantage on attacks against you and you have disadvantage on saving throws against them.
– If you remain conscious on your next turn, you have advantage on attacks against the villain and they have disadvantage on saving throws against you
– Additionally, if you remain standing, your resolve inspires an ally; they can use a healing surge (without you needing to expend a bonus action)

(This is a rule for gamblers, while reinforcing classical fictional tropes: it basically gives the GM free reign for banter, and the PC choice to give in or not. Perfect for those tense epic duels in this playstyle)

Rule: Leveling up is done with milestones (DMG 261). Examples of appropriate categories of milestones are: following your ideals, helping others in need, aiding your just ruler, fostering peace and harmony, hampering evil and tyranny, developing new bonds, developing your talents (e.g. background, class). You also receive glory for attaining a milestone (3 for a hard milestone, 1 for an easy milestone)

(Combat to level up just doesn't fit with this playstyle)

Rule: You receive glory for won combats. 1 glory point for ordinary combat, 3 glory points for combats with powerful or unnatural creatures, 5 glory points for combats against terrible villains.

Rule: You receive glory by feats of generosity. Giving away 50 gold coins gives you 1 glory point.

(These rules make sure that the standard d&d goals still give something, so that players who like that sort of thing get something out of it)

Rule: When you subdue all your enemies in a combat, you receive double glory points for that combat.

Rule: When someone you granted mercy to betrays you, you have Advantage on the first attack roll, ability check or saving throw against them.

(These two rules make room for non-lethal solutions, while giving PC's a carrot when a NPC has to betray them. Subduing is really easy mechanically in 5e, so all that's needed is an incentive for players)

Rule: You can spend your current glory for in-game benefits.
Example: By spending 10 glory points,
– you receive a mysterious love letter
– you gain Advantage on a social skill with a person that knows your reputation.
– you gain renown in your faction/organization (10 glory = 1 renown)
– you receive a gift from others. You can give cues to the GM how many glory points you spend and what kind of gift you want, like armor or books, but the GM fills in the details. (For instance, a shining piece of armor that is the most valuable possession of the blacksmith whose village you saved). Use 10 glory points = 50 gp as an approximation.
Some events (such as the King's Midwinter Feast) may require spending glory as a prerequisite for entry.
Keep your total glory points separate. It is a good measure to compare yourself with your peers.

(This is a rough sketch, but the glory system is designed to make those combats count, and propel further play. I've taken a obvious cue from Pendragon; the idea of total glory points is a great way for individual players to compare each other)

What do you think of these? And more importantly,

What rule packages would you design to strengthen your favored flavor of play for your favored system?
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