A lot of weird images come up when you type the word "gestalt" into Google... Anyhow, this one fits what I'm talking about. I think.
The discussion going on around DnD Next or 5E or whatever has been nagging at me. I really like the idea that it sounds like they're actually going to pay attention to the history of the game and try to unite all editions in play, so a 1Eish character could adventure right alongside a 4Eish character. Fabulous. I signed up to playtest, and will do so in good faith. However, I've been wondering if it really needs to be so involved. This came to me yesterday when rereading some forum and blog posts about how M.A.R. Barker of Tekumel fame used to run his games. Players would have some details for their characters, and then when conflict arose, they'd simply roll a d20, and Prof. Barker would let them know what happened. The whole mechanic was the higher you rolled, the closer you came getting your way. This was modified by the context. You can't really get simpler than this.
So, based on that thinking, here's a little unifying (as yet untried) system to bring all versions of DnD (and since I've been reading Hackmaster 4e lately, that too!) into the same game.
Unbelievably, this word is not an acronym. I'm using it with two assumptions in mind:
- The "whole" of DnD is a mindset or experience that can encompass all editions.
- In a complex field of contextual factors, a meaningful result can be focused upon with the insertion of a simple randomizing lens. :)
- Describe your character in no more than three sentences or no more than 30 words.
- List an Object, a Belief, and a Goal unique to your character.
- Note your level
- List anything else you consider to be important: Spells, abilities, skills, powers, whatever.
- Resolved with a d20.
- In general, any character adds their level to any dice roll they make. The DM may modify this based on the conflict and the particular character involved.
- In opposed conflicts, the DM adds the HD (or some other appropriate number) to her roll.
- Any character aiding another adds a +2 to their roll.
- The DM can/should liberally address contextual modifiers, from +1 to a +5
- These contextual modifiers should mostly come from everything listed out on the character card, as well as from how the player decides to use the environment. Awesomeness should always be rewarded.
- Non-opposed: I.e., jumping over a chasm; checking for a secret door; etc. The player rolls a d20, +/- modifiers. High is better.
- DM "gestalts" results.
- Opposed: I.e., you know, fighting, mostly. Player states what they want to do; both player and DM roll d20s, +/- any modifiers. DM gestalts the results based on the difference between the rolls.
- The trick with combat, especially, as a player, is to specifically describe what you're doing in order to convince the DM to give you positive modifiers. Tactics and Awesomeness will win the day, especially against stronger foes.
- Trying the exact same thing when it didn't work the first time should give you at least a -2 modifier.
- An opposed roll for a spell/power is to see how close it comes to achieving its listed effects, which of course will need to be folded into the overall gestalt.
So yeah, Will, if you're reading this, this is what we're gonna play.
Oh, and here's the other image I almost used:
"Is it a rabbit? Is it a duck? Who the hell cares---it's one weird looking creature and it wants our BRAINS!"