[D&D 2097e] My new fighting system

As promised! This is version four; the first was playtested for a year, the second was abandoned after a day, the third (which only existed as a pencil sketch) gradually morphed over a month of playtesting into this♥


  • scorns minis, maps or any visual representation! words only. Theatre of the Ever-Lovin’ Mind!!!
  • uses all of 5e’s crunch [except bonuses to initiative]. So if you’ve ever wondered how the heck the Battle Master’s “Maneuvering Strike” (you spend a resource to add extra damage to a hit and also have an ally move half their speed without provoking opportunity attacks from the target of your hit) or the Evoker’s “Sculpt Spells” (you can let [spell level + 1] of your friends autosucceed on saves if they are caught in the blast of spells that you cast) are ever going to be relevant when the interface is essentially “Zork with Dice”, here you go
  • answers all questions about who, why, where & how the monsters attack. Wonder why you got 30 arrows in the noggin? Here’s why!
  • ever wanted a reason to spec whip? (Only 1d4 damage but wow reach! Hello opportunity attacks & crowd control!) ♫Vampire Killer♫ theme song plays
  • wondered why it matters that your leg is chopped off (#ablism) or you’ve encumbered yourself by packing one week’s worth of of food in a game where movement is abstracted, here it is


  • Taking breaks is great I also made a one page dungeon for this years contest
  • edited May 2019
    Thanks for posting this Sandra!

    The way you handle melee groups, reach, opportunity attacks, and so on, is really similar to what I do when running procedural 5e, though I've never written it out so clearly. I also love anything that gets rid of initiative in D&D.

    I've got a front rank / back rank question! How do you handle situations where your house-rules-as-written seem at odds with the fictional positioning?

    For example: a choke point like a narrow corridor or doorway where it makes sense that a single PC could hold off a tide of enemies, letting all the other heroes and hobos act from the back rank.

    Do you alter the front rank / back rank rules on the fly to fit the situation, or come up with a justification like "the tide of monsters shoves you back" so that you don't have to, or just play it by the rules and don't bother with justification, or..?

    EDIT: Really this is a question about your entire procedural play process and how you respond when the procedure and fictional positioning are at odds! But maybe we can pretend it's just a question about rank for a bit, first.
  • A legit & interesting Q! Much appreciated, thanx Jeph♥

    Normal 5' corridors or 10' corridors and normal door openings don't do jack to change my system as written. If it broke down from these basic dungeon features it wouldn't be much of a system. My design intent is to abstract away having to communicate & keep track of specific positions.

    However, rooms can have qualities like "there's a conveniently located bottomless pit here" or "this is a tight crawlspace":

    Weird little two foot wide crawlspaces and it's essentially just a one on one fight; no-one on either side could attack "through" the "pipe clog". It's like running a fight with just one hero vs one enemy at that point.

    Alternatively, it could be run as a normal fight but counting as difficult terrain (halve speeds).

    Otherwise, for some help to adjudicate this stuff:

    I never alter the rules for what it takes to become guarded but I also provide another way to become back rank:
    To be in the back rank, you need to be guarded, or able to Levitate or similar ability, or be in a safe or unseen place.
    For example a few months ago our wizard managed to get up to the chandelier and could cozily sit there and firebolt the enemies. Back rank without sucking up guarded slots.
    Really this is a question about your entire procedural play process and how you respond when the procedure and fictional positioning are at odds!
    To answer this question more generally:

    I have a three-tiered system to determine facts.

    1. What does the prep say? "Here is a chandelier"; "Under the clothes in the third drawer is a jade key, to the box in area 82"; "Four vampires live here". Prep didn't give answer? Then:

    2. What does the mechanics say? "1d20 random pockets table", "you can be back rank if you are guarded". Mechanics didn't give answer? Then:

    3. Just decide. Feel bad. Dust self up. Forgive self. Improve prep or mechanics for next game. For example, this session we had to make a call on whether or not Cloud of Daggers damage counts as "magical slashing" or "non-magical slashing". These type of calls happen every session. Is because D&D is an open-ended game that requires calls for weird situations.

  • PS

    I've noted more generally that the 2:1 ratio isn't that fun for players. You build a cool archer but then you have to use sword anyway because you decide to protect the mage. A 1:1 would be easier to run & more fun for them. The entire complicated formula (taken directly from The One Ring) where it's like "If there are less than two monsters per hero and either at least two front rank heroes guarding you, or at least three front rank heroes for each monster"… if I could replace that entire "if than per and either for each or for each" equation with a 1:1 ratio, it would be easier to be back rank, more fun for players. Or a strictly more frontrank than back rank: 2:1, 3:2, 4:3 etc. Would also be a much simpler & faster system although there wouldn't be any real different configurations except for when we are five or seven. Three, four or six would (in practice) be the same as we have now. IDK. Also I would be less sued by The One Ring.

    Like, in a traditional party you have fighter cleric wizard rogue. Normally rogue & wizard wants to be back rank. It sucks that only one of them can.

    OTOH the back rank wouldn't exist if it weren't for me adding it in from The One Ring. In our old system everyone was essentially "front rank"; the back rank is just gravy.
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