I've been trying to make a minimalist version of 5e for a while, because I think a simpler game would be easier for my players. I recently realized, however, that WotC already did half the job for me.
Part of the answers I've been looking for are here:
These rules are not created for PCs, mind you, but their "sidekicks". I am not particularly interested and in giving my PCs (or myself) even more powers and features to take care of, so adding allies to the party is something I'd do very cautiously.
HOWEVER, these rules for sidekicks distill the things I find most interesting about the "three classes" in 5e (warrior, expert, spellcaster).
People that have been playing 5e for a while mighty find these classes too simple; but they are ideal for new players (or, to be honest, old players that keep forgetting half the features past level 10, or are just tired of the number for existing options, which seems to be my case).
You'll notice their warrior is similar to my own. Theirs came first, of course, so I probably copied it unintentionally. I still like mine a bit better! But WotC seems to have come to similar conclusions about which features are most important...
The expert is also GREAT. Instead of getting sneak attack, she gets some "help" actions - so she can act as a bard (or leader) as well! I miss the sneak attack a bit (giving her "extra attack is not a great idea IMO), and "Reliable Talent" still sucks IMO (more on that later), but it is a great start.
And the spell-caster is mercifully short. 16 spells known, 5 cantrips, a total of about 75 "spell levels" total... This is manageable! You can customize him a lot by just choosing the right spells (and signature spells, spell list, spellcasting ability). It's enough. Shape-shifting can become a spell. Turn undead too.
I know there's another version in Tasha's, but I've skipped that book for now, and from what I've seem the one in the PDF is slightly more interesting for my purposes.
So let's revise what we have:
- The warrior gets more (and better) attacks.
- The spell-caster gets more (and better) spells.
- The expert gets more of anything else - mostly skills, but also bonus actions. Notice that bonus actions are very "rogue-ish". Another one of the rogue's idiosyncrasies... something I'll have to analyse later.
What about everything else? We can make them feats (if they aren't already - Sharp Mind is similar to the Resilient feat, only weaker; same goes for Danger Sense, and I don't see why a Rogue shouldn't be able to have Danger Sense, os a spell-caster Sharp Mind, etc.).
So, what do you think? Could we run a campaign - or at least a one-shot - with minimalist classes such as those? Should we add such classes to the existing ones, so that new players can try something simpler first? Or are those only for sidekicks after all?
Let me know in the comments!