I guess I could talk about the Leverage RPG? I picked it up for free of DrivethruRPG a few years ago I think. Maybe it was a Halloween freebie? (It seems to be gone from DrivethruRPG, so have a nice article about it instead)
I heard recently they’re bringing it back to TV after eight years off air.
The best mechanic from that was the flashbacks – letting people come up with plans but only reveal them in the heat of the moment as a flashback to how they did it. Seems like a good way to skip planning steps or let the actual plan be a surprise to the DM and have them react.
Of course, the flashbacks give individual scenes a lot of the time, a bit like splitting the party, but still could work.
I ran out of steam on that idea pretty quickly. Hmmm.
Let’s talk levers, or more specifically switches, and focus on which switches I want to flip on or off for various D&D 5e games. Like house rules, but lots of variants too.
So, what do we turn on or off?
So let’s start with ideas for most games:
1/ Heritage/ancestry and modifiers – we can give the +2/+1 or +1/+1/+1 stat bonuses freely, but the abilities from ancestry and background still apply as standard.
2/ Sensible magic item prices from this source, since it updates a few of the prices from the original post and mostly they seem a bit more sensible. Still using the downtime activity to find a magic item in the first place (generally, maybe not in Planescape).
3/ Bloodied status for enemies, to give the players a bit more of an idea how combat is going. One of the rules from 4e I liked the most.
4/ Inspiration – I like using it but I tend to play in games that don’t, which I think is a shame. Possibly use the variant of Pooled Inspiration or some other variant.
5/ Skill challenges – the other rule from 4e that I liked is more complex challenges that involve the whole party working together.
How about for beginners?
1/ If we’re talking complete beginners to D&D, I’d rollback the heritage/ancestry point above and just have people take the modifiers from the books as standard – mostly because it’s easier for new people that way.
2/ Depending on the ability level of the group, I might throw in Ability Proficiency from page 263 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I do however like the idea of then giving the characters proficiency in one skill from outside that ability, based from the class and background skill lists.
And then for the more experienced players?
1/ We’re all about options here. The options for different types of attack with various weapons presented in the Midgard Setting or James Haeck’s Beyond Damage Dice. I’ve been using these during a game in lockdown and they’re a lot of fun – basically give me an option other than swing with a sword – like using a shortsword against a grappled opponent as a bonus action, or a club to deal no damage but force a Constitution save versus stunned.
2/ I’m fine with using a held action to hold a bonus action, as long as you’ve not used a bonus action in your turn. If you want to hold an action to move (“If an orc comes through the door, I back up so I can still take a shot”) I’m fine with that too, as long as you didn’t move at all. You’re losing your action to think tactically, I’m less annoyed with it as long as you’re not cheating.
3/ Class feature variants, as presented in Unearthed Arcana in 2019, allow for more experienced players to add a bit of nuance to their characters, allow for retraining, add a few fighting styles and so forth.
4/ Steal liberally from older editions – this one’s pretty broad but inspired by the Web DM video focused on the same.
a) Use of minions/mooks (another 4e graduate) to give a hoard of followers for the Big Bad to throw at the party whilst he prepares his fell ritual.
b) Reaction rolls for random encounters – because sometimes the hobgoblin gang might just be travelling merchants that happen to be hobgoblins, or the kobolds work for a Lawful Good gold dragon.
c) Exploration turns – I don’t want to have to draw out the whole Underdark between interesting rooms, and sometimes you find nothing but caverns and passageways.
5/ Renown and Piety options, as outlined in Ravnica and Theros supplements, though they’ll be very situational/game dependent, and would involve a bit of homebrewing to use.
Maybe I should have run with all that first, instead of Leverage…