Tuesday, 14 May 2019

SOME NOTES ON O5R

THE CRYSTAL SEAS

Currently we're running a 5e sandbox campaign in the homebrew world of the Crystal Seas. The setting was conceived as a low magic, sword and sorcery environment in which PCs scoured the wreckage of several ancient civilisations for magical artefacts, either for their own use or to sell to the highest bidder. 

Such a setting and tone would, at face value, best suit an old school system, but the players had already invested some time in familiarising themselves with the free basic rules of fifth edition, so we kicked off the campaign with that rule set. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I hope to continue exploring the world with this group. However, eight sessions in and I'm beginning to think how different this campaign would be with a few modifications to the rules (I believe it's popular to use the term "hack" these days, though for some reason that trend upsets me).

FIFTH EDITION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UNCERTAIN

There are some elements I really enjoy about 5th edition: 
  • Combat: especially action/reaction and bonus actions; grid-based tactics
  • The advantage/disadvantage mechanic
  • Streamlining of ability scores, saving throws and skills
  • Ascending armour class
  • Proficiency bonuses
  • Lair actions and legendary actions for certain monsters
  • Spending hit dice to restore HP
  • Ritual spellcasting
Some elements I'm not so keen on:
  • Powerful cantrips
  • Number of classes and subclasses/archetypes: there seem to be a lot
  • Feats (although this is an optional rule)
  • Rapid level progression early on
  • HUGE number of hit points
  • Availability of magic (every class can cast spells, if certain choices are made)
Some elements about which I'm ambivalent:
  • Backgrounds. They're good for helping the player come up with character ideas, and it's nice how they tie in to proficiencies, but the consequent flaws and traits etc. take up a lot of space on the character sheet.
  • Short rests. I like the spending of hit dice to regain HP, but for some class features (arcane recovery; warlock spellcasting), short rests can lead to a devaluation of magic.
Some things I'd like to add:

  • randomised magical effects during spellcasting
  • hit point caps
  • 0-level characters
  • Wounds and serious injuries
HALF-HEARTED HACKS

Inspired by Giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons  we've made a few amendments to how death, rest and recovery are handled but nothing too extreme. However, at this stage further adjustments will start to upset the continuity of the campaign, and an itch persists that wants scratching.

Consequently, and mainly as a thought experiment, I'm working on my own amendments (to throw on the pile of other hacks), but attempting to more fully ground it in the setting.

Posts concerning this project will be tagged O5R


FURTHER READING

Arnold Kemp's GLOG, the most interesting, idiosyncratic and inspirational B/X homebrew there is
Five Torches Deep, a 5E/OSR hack
A mashup of B/X D&D and 5E by u/DataL0r3
The very healthy and active OSR subreddit r/OSR
The largely inactive 5e/OSR subreddit r/dndO5R
The sub concerning Giffyglyph's Darker Dungeons r/darkerdungeons5e

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