So somethings been itching the back of my brain for some time now when it comes to D&D 5th Edition. It isn't a gripe with what's there, but more a feeling that there could be more. For those of you that have bought any of my material on the GM's Guild or have been a long time reader to this blog you would already know I enjoy deconstruction the mechanics under the hood of the latest D&D to see what can be tweaked, flipped, or out right changed without throwing the game itself out of wack or tarnishing the way the game feels to play, but what I'm about to suggest is a big step. In fact it's a step large enough that honestly it would be like comparing Mutants & Masterminds to D&D 3rd edition (which is the core system used to build up both games). What I'm talking about is making a classless D&D while still KEEPING the current mechanics of the game.
Ever since I first got my hands on 5th edition and experienced the proficiency system they use I've been feeling like this game could do it. Some people might be thinking something along the way of GURPS right about now and you aren't wrong, but not actually because of GURPS. I've always known about and been intrigued by the "character point system" that was introduced in several supplements of AD&D 2nd Edition. The basics of the system were that you still took a class, but you could tweak and modify the class by removing existing features to add in others. Each feature had a cost that basically gave you a pool to then buy different features. Pathfinder players might also recognize this as similar to the class options you can swap out with archetypes in it.
The thing is you were still picking a class and then modifying it, but at the end up the day that class is just a pool of points. In earlier editions this was a huge potential mess between save bonuses, individual proficiency bonus and the like, but the fact that all classes have two saves they are proficient in and proficiency bonuses can just be a static modifier applied to everything means every player basically already has the class of "hero".
All that said obviously different features and even proficiencies are weighted differently. Meaning just counting up what each class has won't let you break things down and swap them out, but I'm working on it. This is probably going to be my next BIG project I do with free time while putting out smaller content, but I'm already starting to see some heavy patterns in what's here to say with some certainty that for the most part the classes where already balanced by WotC in a similar way meaning I just have to reverse engineer the process.
What does all this mean? It means once I'm done I'll have more or less the source code to D&D 5th Edition, allowing for either playing characters that don't have to fall into the set progression of a given class or even just a toolkit to build the mechanics of a class with it falling directly into the balance of all the existing classes.
While most of my friends enjoy 5th I do have a couple that feel like there isn't enough real options yet (I'm actually not on of those, but I can see the argument) and thanks to the truly elegant mechanics I'm digging out of this system I think there might be a way to have nearly limitless customization without insane bloat or game breaking loopholes.