Torchbearer Style, but Forgiving
I like the way treasure is handled in Torchbearer – represented by dice that are rolled to buy things in town – but I find it to be too punishing for my own style. It’s readily possible. to risk life and limb to drag treasure out of a dungeon, go to town, and fail the roll to purchase a candle. It feeds into the grinding style of Torchbearer, but is a thing that I’ve seen put players off the system overall. (I mean, hell, you can be a peasant and fail to buy a candle. Why go into dungeons?)
Going along with my house rule of no cash, treasure could be represented by dice rather than a set bonus. Using the dice as a bonus retains some of the unpredictability of Torchbearer treasure while still guaranteeing a minimum of +1 per die. As with the previous no-cash house rule, if you fail the roll you roll with disadvantage going forward, representing the fact that you’re tapped out and have called in all the favors and goodwill that is forthcoming for a while.
- Some silver: d4. Lots of silver would be multiple d4s.
- Some gold: d6, and lots of gold would be multiple d6s.
- Gems or art objects: d8 each
- Magical treasure: d10s, assuming it’s incidental magic that you don’t want to keep
- Legendary treasure: d12s, so a mundane legendary object might be a d12, but a legendary magic item could be 3d12.
Generally speaking, I wouldn’t have more than 3 dice of any type as the maximum for treasure of that type. So, a big chest of silver would be 3d4.
One Roll, Not Two, for Damage
As it stands, D&D requires every weapon attack to be resolved by two different rolls – one roll to see whether you hit, a binary yes/no, and a second roll to see how well you hit, a sliding scale represented by rolling the damage dice. In order to simplify this sytem to have only one roll, the usual method supported by 5E is to use the average default dice-roll for damage (the Monster Manual lists default damage for monster attacks for this reason).
Another option is to avoid the to-hit roll entirely. Iefit hen this version of a one-roll rule for D&D, you only make the damage roll. The big benefit here is that classes that rely on weapon attacks never feel like they are ineffective. If you are a fighter, you always do some damage. If you roll a 1 on your weapon die, you don’t do much, and if you roll the maximum value, you do a lot. The problem with relying on attack rolls is that sometimes you wait ten or twenty minutes for your turn to come back around only to roll, miss, and do nothing that round. That’s just…not fun.
The only necessary consideration would be to change Armor Class to represent damage reduction. I’d propose AC -10 /2 being that formula, so an AC of 18 would be a damage reduction of 4 from all damage take. Dexterity would no longer modify armor in this case, but that is not a devastating loss. It’s another way of abstracting out combat, not less reasonable than the rules as written, just different.
Automatic Downtime Investment
In ancient times, each class in D&D had some kind of extra benefit earned at 10th level, like a fortress for a fighter or a tower for a magic-user.
One of the odd things common to D&D campaigns is that the characters spend a short amount of time in-world leveling from 1st to higher levels. There are plenty of adventure paths and campaigns published by Paizo or WotC that span a few weeks or months, during which a wizard would go from magic missile to wall of force; from being threatened by a single arrow to shrugging off a dragon’s breath weapon (at least once).
A possibility here is to adopt a detailed downtime system that the characters can participate in. You can come up with your own or find one on DriveThruRPG or improvise one. Another possibility is to assume that downtime is banked into a class’s particular project, and bring back the level rewards in some form as a way to justify what is in effect hand-waving the passage of time during game.
I find that when I try to hand-wave the passage of time in a D&D campaign, players sometimes get protective of their time because they feel like they are missing out on opportunities. Can I roll to research? Can I perform at taverns for money? Can I go pickpocketing around town? Can I find a fight club? And so on. This house rule would both resurrect the old school practice of class rewards and allow me to hand-wave time as a DM.
Some example class rewards (You’ll have to come up with your own):
- Artificer: a large golem that can serve as an assistant and defend your workshop
- Barbarian: a group of fellow barbarians from your clan or tribe who can serve as a war-band
- Bard: you are able to open your own venue
- Cleric: founding a temple or shrine, of course
- Druid: you purchase a huge tract of land, at the center of which you have nurtured a druid grove
- Fighter: you purchase a fortress or small keep
- Monk: you found your own monastery, complete with disciples or acolytes to train
- Paladin: similar to a cleric, you found a temple or shrine
- Ranger: maybe you purchase a huge tract of land so that it can remain wild and untouched
- Sorcerer: could simply be similar to a wizard’s tower
- Warlock: depending on your warlock patron, this could vary wildly, but should further your patron’s agenda
- Wizard: you build a wizard’s tower