As you may have heard, the newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released yesterday.
Well, sort of.
What came out was the alpha version of the Basic version of D&D Fifth Edition. That’s a bit of a head-scratcher for anyone who hasn’t been following the development of the game, so it’s worth reiterating just what exactly that is.
To put it plainly, D&D Fifth Edition is bringing back a Basic version of the game, distinct from the “Advanced” version (though they’re not going to call it that – the non-Basic version is just going to be called Dungeons & Dragons). This Basic version is going to be a free-for-download PDF on WotC’s website, with no physical version planned that I’m aware of.
Currently, the Basic version is incomplete, having the character-creation rules, as well as spells and combat mechanics. However, until the full version of D&D is released (staggered over a few months later this year), the Basic version won’t have things like monsters or magic items. Still, the plan is for Basic to be updated as these parts of the full game are released, and the Basic D&D PDF will be complete by the end of this year.
Having read through the initial Basic rules, I’m struck by how much what’s there is reminiscent of Third Edition D&D. Strictly speaking, it seems like 75% of changing your 3E game into a 5E game would involve capping the total bonuses of various mechanics, such as ability scores, BAB, saving throws, skill bonuses – all have a hard ceiling on how high they can get.
There are other big changes too, of course, such as the advantage/disadvantage mechanic (roll 2d20 and take the better/worse result, respectively), or how there are now six saving throws – one for each ability score. But for the most part, this seems like Third Edition with some comparatively modest tweaks.
Of course, I was quite happy with that, since 3E is my favorite version of D&D, mechanically speaking…or at least, a variant of it is.
Eclipsing Fifth Edition
That variant, of course, is Eclipse: the Codex Persona, a class-less point-buy character-generator for Third Edition’s d20 system. Since it breaks the shackles of class-levels, and since Fifth Edition (unsurprisingly) uses class-level progressions for its characters – and since it has such a close resemblance to Third Edition – I decided to try my hand at breaking down its classes and races using the Eclipse rules.
Given that, I elected to start with the “simplest” of Basic 5E’s classes, the one that’s the typical benchmark for comparing classes: the fighter.
One thing that should be noted right off the bat is that this isn’t a comparison between the fighter and the other classes in Basic 5E. Rather, this particular article looks at the Basic 5E fighter in comparison to its 3.5 and Pathfinder counterparts – comparisons with the other Basic 5E classes will have to wait for future articles that break down their Eclipse costs.
With that said, let’s look at what a Basic 5E fighter gets over the course of their twenty levels.
The Basic 5Eclipse Fighter
Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).
Basic Abilities (207 CP)
- Light, medium, and heavy armor and shield proficiencies (18 CP). All simple and martial weapon proficiencies (9 CP).
- 20d10 Hit Dice (120 CP).
- +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
- +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
- +6 ranks to two skills (12 CP).
This is the major dialing back of “bonus bloat” that typifies 5E. In the Basic rules, all characters have a “Proficiency Bonus” that is +2 for the first four levels, and then goes up by +1 every four levels after that (e.g. +2 at 1st-4th levels, +3 at 5th-8th levels, etc.). Your class and race determine what weapons, saves, and skills this proficiency bonus applies to…which is very important, because that, and your ability score bonuses, are the primary (and often only) modifiers to your die rolls.
Here, rather than trying to come up with some sort of universal bonus, it was easier to buy the proficiency bonuses separately for the various categories of die rolls that they applied to. This was surprisingly easy to do, since the low numbers kept the costs down.
Class Features (240+ CP)
- Fighting Style (pick one):
- Archery: +2 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only for ranged weapons, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (4 CP).
- Defense: Improved Defender, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only applies while wearing armor (4 CP).
- Dueling: Augment Attack, +2 damage when wielding a melee weapon one-handed, with nothing in your off-hand (2 CP).
- Great Weapon Fighting: Doubled Damage, specialized for increased effect/functions with any two-handed or versatile weapon, only allows for a single re-roll of a 1 or a 2 for damage (6 CP).
- Protection: Block/missile, corrupted for increased effect/may be used on any creature within 5 feet of you, requires use of a shield; specialized for increased effect/no saving throw necessary, only applies disadvantage (roll 2d20, taking the lower roll) to the attacker’s roll rather than great immunity to damage (6 CP).
- Two-Weapon Fighting: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus, apply Strength or Dexterity modifier to weapon damage rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to off-hand melee attacks (9 CP).
- Second Wind: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only applies to hit points; corrupted for two-thirds cost/must rest at least one hour between each use (6 CP).
- Action Surge: Reflex Training (3/day variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, corrupted for two-thirds cost/must rest at least one hour between each two uses (12 CP).
- Ability Score Improvement: +14 Improved Self-Development (168 CP).
- Extra Attack: Three instances of Bonus Attack, each with the Improved modifier (36 CP), and Immunity/needing to specify specific situations where each bonus attack applies (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
- Indomitable: Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not choose to take 20 (3 CP).
Martial Archetype (Champion) (39+ CP).
- Improved & Superior Critical: Improved Critical with the Lethal modifier (12 CP). Immunity to needing to apply these to a particular weapon (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
- Remarkable Athlete: Immunity to not being able to add your proficiency bonus to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based skill that doesn’t already use it (common/minor/trivial – grants a +3 bonus) (2 CP). Skill Focus (athletics), specialized for double-effect/only applies to running long-jumps; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only grants a total bonus equal to your Strength modifier (4 CP).
- Additional Fighting Style, one additional choice under Fighting Styles, above.
- Survivor: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only applies to hit points; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only applies when below one-half of your total hit points, but still above 0 (6 CP).
That’s a total of 486 CP, before adding in the costs of taking two Fighting Styles. Since those together can cost as little as 6 CP or as much as 15, the grand total for this class ranges from 492-501 CP. That’s incredibly balanced!
For those that want a more detailed breakdown, rather than an overall summary, the following chart shows how the Basic 5E fighter’s CPs are spent at each level:
Every Level: d10 Hit Die = 6 CP.
|1st||59+||+2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). Proficient with light, medium, and heavy armor (15 CP) and shields (3 CP). Proficient with all simple and martial weapons (9 CP). +2 to two skill ranks (4 CP). Mighty Grant of Aid, specialized and corrupted (6 CP). Fighting Style (variable CP).|
|2nd||15||Reflex Training (3/day variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/must rest at least one hour between each two uses (9 CP).|
|3rd||27||Improved Critical (6 CP). Immunity to needing to apply these to a particular weapon (very common/major/major) (15 CP).|
|4th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|5th||43||+1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP). Immunity/needing to specify specific situations where each bonus attack applies (very common/major/major) (15 CP).|
|6th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|7th||12||Immunity to not being able to add your proficiency bonus to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based skill that doesn’t already use it (common/minor/trivial – grants a +3 bonus) (2 CP). Skill Focus (athletics), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).|
|8th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|9th||18||+1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Luck, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not choose to take 20 (2 CP).*|
|10th||6+||Fighting Style (variable CP).|
|11th||18||Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP).|
|12th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|13th||17||+1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). +1 Bonus Use to Luck (1 CP).*|
|14th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|15th||12||Lethal modifier to Improved Critical (6 CP).|
|16th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|17th||19||+1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Upgrade Reflex Training from specialized to corrupted (3 CP). +1 Bonus Use to Luck (0 CP).*|
|18th||12||Mighty Grant of Aid, specialized and corrupted (6 CP).|
|19th||30||+2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).|
|20th||18||Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP).|
*The CP totals for Luck here are taken by always applying the CP reductions of corruption and specialization after adding in the cost for Bonus Uses.
While it’s good to have a fighter that’s finally spending almost all of its Character Points, that doesn’t mean that this is an efficient build. This class is spending a huge amount of CPs on bumping up its ability scores, and there are far cheaper ways to do that in Eclipse – particularly since Eclipse characters receive Improved Self-Development every four levels anyway. The tradeoff for this is that the class’s BAB is lagging hideously behind that of a fighter from earlier editions. Most players are likely to want to trade some of those points in Improved Self-Development for some extra BAB, saves, and even skill points.
That said, the above build does reflect the underlying assumptions of Fifth Edition, chief among them being the “flatter math” that caps ability scores at 20 and other bonus progressions at +6. There are also some different assumptions regarding how combat works that are reflected in the above build, such as its eschewing iterative attacks in favor of bonus attacks.
All of this is enough that, if we want to have the Eclipse version of the Basic 5E fighter to adhere more closely to its Fifth Edition underpinnings, we’ll go ahead and apply a package deal to 5E characters.
The Fifth Edition package deal provides for:
- Immunity to needing to confirm critical hits (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
- Immunity to not being able to make multiple attacks as a standard action (very common/major/great) (30 CP).
- Split Movement/Attacking (6 CP).
Of course, that’s 51 CP, which is way too expensive since package deals are normally limited to 12 CP. However, the entire package is specialized for half-cost/may not raise ability scores over 20 by any means, and corrupted for one-third cost/does not receive Improved Self-Development for free every fourth level. That brings the cost down to 17 CP.
That’s still too expensive, so we’ll add in two disadvantages:
- Accursed; must take the Fifth Edition version of spells and effects even where those have been downgraded. (-3 CP)
- Accursed; must make three (non-consecutive) stabilization checks to stabilize when below 0 hit points. (-3 CP)
That lowers the cost to 11 CP, just inside the limit.
The above seems to split the difference nicely; bringing in some of the underlying assumptions of 5E combat to how this character functions – without making the character pay for it – while still leaving off some of the heavier restrictions, such as how much BAB or saves they can buy. In an Eclipse game, it’s usually easier (not to mention more fun) not to operate under quite such onerous restrictions.
One thing that I deliberately didn’t address in this build is that Fifth Edition characters have six saving throws – based around the six ability scores – instead of three. Bringing that into a typical Eclipse game would require changing some underlying assumptions that go far beyond a single character’s build, such as having NPCs and monsters that use attacks versus those other three saves. That’d be awkward if used against another character that used the traditional three-saves mechanics. Ergo, that particular restriction was ignored here.
Next time, we’ll go over more of the Basic 5E classes and races in Eclipse terms!