(This guest post was written by our very own Dman!)
Now that I have explained where I stand on the editions of D&D, it is time to talk about what I would like to see from the new edition. I want it to move more back to 3.5, but, even with that said, the best book created for 3.5 was Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. This book introduced encounter powers. There were three classes of martial warriors that each had maneuvers that they could use to enhance their combat abilities. I think this is where D&D 4E had their first idea of where to go with the new edition. Still, these classes had a problem of being very front loaded. They gave a character a bunch of abilities at first level, so they were very tempting to jump into even if it was only for a level or two.
In 5E, each class would pick one list of powers that could be used, at most, once during a fight. The class would also have a cap on the number of time these powers could be used during the fight (example: the character has three powers and can use two of them in each encounter). As the character gains levels, they would gain access to more powers and more powerful powers to choose from. I would keep this like the 1st – 9th level spell progression of 3.5 D&D. There would be multiple lists to choose from for each class. The combat classes would have combat style power lists (maybe as simple as two-handed weapon style, two weapons style, etc or it could be more thematic like the dragon claw style). For the casting classes, it would be based off of domains for the cleric (example: Good, Evil, Luck, Destruction domains from 3.5 D&D today), the schools of magic for a wizard (Abjuration, Conjuration, Evocation, Enchantment, Necromancy, and Transmutation), and totems and natural forces for druids (Bear, Wolf, Weather, etc).
The goal I want to achieve by adding these encounter powers to all the classes is to balance out the power discrepancy between the casting classes and the combat classes. Under normal 3.5 D&D, low level casters are very weak since they only have a couple of spells and then they flail impotently with a staff until the group decides to rest. Then at high levels, the casting classes rule over the combat classes because their spells are very powerful and they have plenty of them to last a long time. So, the encounter powers will allow the low level casters to have some ability even when their daily spells are gone. Then build the higher level powers for the combat classes to help equal out the power of the spell that the casters can cast. This would be a delicate balance, but if the developers kept this goal in mind, I think they could come close.
The next thing to do is to make first level a worthwhile level under 3.5 rules. For this I would bring back the concept of the Favored Class. The Favored Class in 3.5 just allowed you to take as many levels of that class and not count it for when multi-classing (if you had too big a difference in levels between your classes the character received negatives). But in 5E the Favored Class would do a bunch of things. First, the favored class would be each characters starting first level class. This would allow the character to pick an additional power list from those allowed for the class (they would now have two lists to choose from). Next it would allow the character to pick one first level encounter power to become an at-will power (this would be most helpful to the low level casting classes, but at higher levels that at-will power would be pretty weak as long as it does not scale very well. Finally, your favored class would grant the character 15-20 hit points (a fixed number for each class) plus the class’ hit die and Constitution bonus at first level. This should make first level a viable level for all classes. It also allows multi-classing without too much front loading of the classes since you can only have one favored class.
The last thing is what to do about healing. This one I do not have a good idea for. 4E’s healing surges feels way too much of the MMO world and auto healing everything with an extended rest seems silly. Pathfinder uses the channel ability, but in practice it becomes too powerful the larger your group is. I have played this with a group of nine other player characters and it is crazy how much damage this heals. Still, the healing needs to be better than what 3.5E did, so that the character can adventure longer without resting. I might discuss ideas in another posting if people are interested.
I would be curious of your ideas for 5E and how you would want to improve D&D. Hope to hear from you.