Art by Maxime Defoulny
So these rules are really me brainstorming how I would need to change the rules of D&D to better fit the ‘grimdark’ setting I am intending to crowdfund in the near future.
D&D is great for all sorts of games, but as a ‘general’ rules set doesn’t particularly excel at being anything other then D&D. Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other, hardcore ‘old school’ games hark back to the extreme peril of playing low-level characters in Gygaxian misery-dungeons, and often have a grind-house/grind-core heavy metal aesthetic, veering more towards horror than fantasy.
That’s great and all, but I want to do something with 5e, to appeal to people on a basis of more than nostalgia and to provide a familiar, but different, experience for people who are new to role-playing and have entered through the popularity of 5th Edition.
There’s something of a fetish for super-difficult games in computing, from Darkest Dungeon, Salt and Bloodborne to the Infamous, Dark Souls. Tabletop games are different, you can’t learn or hone the skill of the game or learn the attack patterns of the monsters, character builds can be optimised, but that tends to diminish the role-play. Difficulty, then, has to come from the sense to play tactically, carefully, swing the advantage in your favour and to deal with difficult and horrifying roleplaying and decision making.
We need to take that, lustrous, heroic edge off 5th Edition’s default rules-set to amp up the difficulty and make people play more carefully, but without turning it into a total meatgrinder.
Let’s talk about characters then…
In the setting I am envisioning you would only be able to play humans. So far as the types go otherwise, there isn’t really anything much else that needs to be done. As a default the human traits – especially the variant ones – go a long way to helping compensate for bad rolls at character creation, mixing self-determination and the ‘hardcore’ nature of the ‘straight roll’ character generation – which I would foresee being the standard rules…
To read this full article, please donate $1 a month on my Patreon to get articles like this, access to me and discounts on apparel and PDFs of RPGs. You can get many of the same perks (but fewer) by following me on Minds.com and donating 1 token a month.