Backward compatibility is good. Until it ain’t. Microsoft took waaaay too long to cut the tail that was Windows 3. I also see a lot of this legacy care in my software work.
One D&D news is making the rounds, and it got me thinking. There’s a lot of tail there too. I enjoy BX (OSE) over 5E. IMHO the character is bare-bones in BX and fleshed out in play vs. the build being the play in 5E; still, there are some mechanics in BX D&D that we have better game tech for these days. And we don’t have to abandon the Old School aesthetic.
I’d keep classes. Human, Dwarf, Elf, etc. Maybe adopt the advanced classes from OSE. I’d even keep the Half-Elf, and Half-Orc classes, leaving room in the game sessions for folks to say how they came to be and how they’re different. I don’t have an interest in the fictional races debate, IYKYK.
I’d keep the Stats, but just the bonus values, assign maybe [+1,+1, 0,0, -1, -1] or something like that Stat checks are 2d6 + bonus.
7-9: Success with cost
You have seen this before, and it’s a solid mechanic. Your class implies what you’re good at, and maybe there are fictional backgrounds that are also descriptive. We don’t require an exhaustive skill list.
As much as I yammer on about cutting that legacy tail…I think I have to keep the d20 for combat but ditch the AC component.🤷🏾♂️ There’s some algebra wrangling to make it work for player attacks and player-facing defense checks. This likely means static target numbers for monsters, but that’s sorta what HD in BX is already doing. I want the player-facing defense checks because, in my West Marches experience, players stay engaged when they have to defend actively, AND the combat rounds are more fluid without me as DM rolling attacks. I’m spreading the work across the table. I say all that, but I’m also playing around with a pool of d6s for combat resolution. Actions get declared, all dice get rolled, and entrails are read. The initiative mechanic is gone. I know this works. I’m not the first to do it. I’ve used it extensively. I’ve seen players pacing on cameras waiting for the dice to fall. It. Works.
Movement. Ranged Attacks. Spells. Melee. All simultaneous. Damage gets tallied at the end of the round. See games like Sorcerer or Into the Odd for action ordering —it’s easier than you might think and extremely frenetic -like I like my combat. YMMV.
XP for gold or XP questions at end of sessions like:
Did you visit someplace new?
Did you overcome a threat by violent or non-violent means?
Did you discover something new about the world?
Did you explore a thing about your class/background?
Again, not much new there either.
We could also just make a character advance every time you return from an expedition. Levels measured in adventures returned from, much like Lancer RPG does it.
Saving throws… hard stuff, mechanically they could get folded into stat checks..but there is something nostalgic, evocative, and special about Saves vs. Magic, Dragon Breath, Traps… more pondering is needed.
I’m looking towards my Debtpunk sci-fi West Marches game as I make these changes to BX D&D. I fell in love with the BX play experience during my 40+ player games. I can’t imagine abandoning that open table play style.
So, that’s what we’re tinkering with these days.
Sounds a lot like World of Dungeons, or one of its derivatives! (Advanced WODU, breakers wodu) Or maybe one of the DW derivatives like Homebrew world or Unlimited Dungeons, though I think they're a bit 'more' than you are looking for.
I really like the idea of active defense instead of static AC.