Simplifying D&D 5e for Beginners (5e Variant Rule)

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Two types of simplifying[edit]

There is two different ways of simplifying a character; creation and play. Simplifying creation is making it easy to create an useable character with little knowledge of D&D. Less complex options, the easier to create a character. Simplifying play is making it easy to play as the character. Too complex or too many abilities make it hard for a beginner to play as the character. As a rule of thumb, spell casters are both harder to create and harder to play due to number of spells and spell slots. This page focus on simplifying character play over simplifying character creation. It is assumed that a knowledgeable person, most likely the GM, will guide a new character through character creation.

Example of the difference types: Warlock can be argued to have the hardest character creation due to many, many options. Warlocks can be argued to have the easiest character play due to great cantrip and simple spell slots.

Quick and easy changes[edit]

A quick and simple changes is to just remove the more complex classes, rules, and races from the game. This attempts to make the game easier without any or little amount of home brew. These are suggestions to remove. Feel free to pick and choose what to remove from the game. Some GM, start the very first few sessions without the more complex rules and slowly add them back in as the players begin to get more conformable.

Character creation tips[edit]

This page does not focus on simplifying character creation. There are resources on the internet that would help with spell selection, choosing a class's feature, and much more. With so much more talented people on the internet, this page could not do justice for making an easier character creation.

Rules[edit]

The rules removed: attacks of opportunity, duel wielding, and optional rule flanking.

If you do remove attack of opportunity, also remove disengage action. Try to keep the enemies that does melee attack focus on the tanker (higher AC and HP) members of the party. The whole point of attacks of opportunity is to encourage enemies to target the tanker players.

Actions to remove: dodge, help, hide, ready, and search. They are more advance and less common actions in the game.

Avoid homebrew (besides this). No feats (at least not until level 12), or multi classing.

Character[edit]

Classes

Classes to remove: artificer, bard, druid, monk, paladin, ranger, sorcerer, and wizard.

This leaves barbarian, fighter, and rogue for marshal classes. Cleric is a more forgiving (and more tanker) healing spell caster. Warlock limited spell selection, spells prepared, and limited spell slots do make them easy to play. Also, only one type of spell slots make it easier for beginners to understand spell casting.

Paladin is the easiest half spell caster. Sadly, like most half spell casters, it has a lot of abilities and spells to keep track off.

Arcane trickster subclass from rouge is the easiest part spell caster in the game.

Races

Keep the races limited to Player Hand Book (PHB). Races to remove from PHB: dragonborn, gnome, half orc, and tiefling.

This leaves 5 races: dwarves, elves, half-elves, human, and halfling.

Simplest sub races: Hill sub race for dwarves. Wood sub race for elves. Remove Mask of the wild from wood elf. General/normal/orginal sub race for half elf. Stout sub race for halfling. Normal, not variant, sub race for human.

The simplest strength focus race (+2 to strength) is goliath from Elemental Evil Player's Compendium. Almost as simple as the other 5 simple races from PHB.

Wisdom and intelligence focus race (+2 to wisdom or intelligence) are uncommon and tend to be complex or have spell casting ability.

Background

Replace background with "You gain 2 skill proficiency in any skill of your choice" and "You start with 20 GD pieces".

Easy sub classes[edit]

This sections suggest the easiest or easy subclass for each classes.

Artificer[edit]

Sadly, I don't know artificers very well. Good luck here

Barbarian[edit]

Totem barbarian is the easiest defensive barbarian. Suggested choices is bear option at level 3, tiger option at level 6, and bear option at level 14.

Zealot barbarian is the easiest offensive barbarian.

Bard[edit]

Valor bard are very simple melee focused sub class.

Lore bard's extra skills makes this sub class best for spell casting focused bards.

Cleric[edit]

Most cleric subclasses are easy to use. If your player is struggling with understanding channel divinity, suggest them a different subclass.

Notable subclasses are:

Forge cleric: heavy armor, free static +1 to weapon or armor, and simple channel divinity makes this cleric a good survivor.

Life cleric: heavy armor and simple buff to healing makes this cleric a popular choice for more healing focus game play.

War and tempest clerics get heavy armor and fun offensive abilities.

Druid[edit]

Circle of the moon makes druid have a lot of extra hp. Additionally, druid in wild shape is easier to play than a spell casting druid.

Circle of the dreams is the simplest of all the spell casting focus druid. Extra healing for the party never hurts.

Fighter[edit]

Champion is by far the simplest sub class in the entire game.

Samurai sub class is for people who wants to be able to survive more hits or find champion too boring.

Monk[edit]

Way of drunken master or way of open hand makes a great hit and run monk.

Paladin[edit]

Sadly, I don't know paladins very well. Good luck here.

Ranger[edit]

Sadly, I don't know rangers very well. Good luck here.

Rouge[edit]

Assassin subclass makes a great offensive rouge.

Thief subclass makes a rogue a better thief.

Arcane trickster is the easiest part spell caster in the game.

Sorcerer[edit]

Draconic, shadow and tempest subclasses are easier to understand than the other subclasses.

Warlock[edit]

Great old one subclass is very simple.

Fiend subclass are great for defensive warlocks.

Wizard[edit]

Any from PHB is good. Divination and abjuration may be a bit too complex to understand.

Home brew changes[edit]

Most of the time, the tips and tricks above are enough to make D&D simple. But sometimes it requires a bit more simplicity. This is where home brew comes in. It modify aspects of the game to become easier without disturbing too much on the current game power balance.

Barbarian[edit]

Barbarians can be easy to play. Strength, constitution, and dexterity are your favorite stats. As long rage is in effect, barbarians are hard to be killed.

Rage

At first level, you can enter rage as your bonus action. While raging you have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. If you are able to cast Spells, you can't cast them or concentrate on them while raging.

Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or using up a bonus action.

Once you have raged the maximum number of times for your Barbarian level, you must finish a Long Rest before you can rage again. You may rage 2 times at 1st level, 3 at 3rd, 4 at 6th, 5 at 12th, and 6 at 17th.

Danger sense

At 2nd Level, you gain an uncanny sense of when things nearby aren't as they should be, giving you an edge when you dodge away from danger. Your dexterity saving throw is increased by 3.

Feral instinct

By 7th level, your instincts are so honed that you add 3 to initiative rolls.

Persistent Rage

Beginning at 15th level, your rage is so fierce that your strength is increased. While in rage, you have advantage on strength checks and strength saving throws. Additional, while in rage, when you make a melee weapon Attack using Strength, you gain a +3 bonus to the damage roll. This bonus increases as you level.

Druid[edit]

Druids are nature themed spell caster with one of the complex main ability: wild shape. Wisdom and constitution are your favorite stats.

Wild shape

Starting at 2nd Level, you can use your action to transform into an animal. You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or Long Rest.

You can stay in a beast shape for a number of hours equal to half your druid level (rounded down). You then revert to your normal form unless you expend another use of this feature. You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a Bonus Action on Your Turn. You automatically revert if you fall Unconscious, lose all temporary hit points, or die.

While you are transformed, the following rules apply:

  • You gain abilities, AC, temporary hit points, and animal attack of the beast.
  • You keep any race ability unless it is physically impossible to have them in your new form. Example: dark vision and wings.
  • You only can speak animal in this form.
  • You cannot cast spells but you can concentrate on spells.
  • Your equipment merges into your new form
Possible animals

At 2nd level, you can only transform into a wolf. At 4th level, you can transform into an ape. At 8th level, you can transform into dire wolf.

Wolf stats

AC: 13

Temporary hit points: 11

Special ability: pack tactics: as long there is an ally within 5ft of you, you have advantage to all attacks.

Attack: Bite: finesse (use dexterity or strength for both attack and damage) and 2d4 + damage modifier piercing damage on hit.

Ape stats

AC: 12

Temporary hit points: 19

Special ability: humanoid: You can speak normally in this form. Additional, you keep and can use your equipment.

Special ability: your climbing speed is the same as your speed. Normally it would be half.

Special ability: extra attack

Attack: attack with your weapon.

Dire wolf stats

AC: 14

Temporary hit points: 37

Special ability: pack tactics: as long there is an ally within 5ft of you, you have advantage to all attacks.

Attack: Bite: finesse (use dexterity or strength for both attack and damage) and 2d6 + damage modifier piercing damage on hit.

Moon druid's animals

Moon druid can transform into stronger animals than a normal druid. At 2nd level, you can only transform into a dire wolf. At 6th level, you can transform into a giant constrictor snake. At 9th level, you can transform into giant scorpion. At 15th level, you can transform into giant crocodile. At 18th level, you can transform into any beast that has CR 6 or bellow.

Dire wolf stats

Same as dire wolf above

Giant constrictor snake stats

AC: 12

Temporary hit points: 60

Attack: constrict: Strength attack. On a hit, 2d6 + strength bludgeoning damage. Target is automatically grappled after a successful hit.

Giant scorpion stats

AC: 15

Temporary hit points: 52

Special ability: blind sense of 60 ft

Special ability: extra attack

Attack: sting: Strength attack. On a hit, 1d10 + strength piercing damage. The target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 3d10 poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Giant crocodile stats

AC: 14

Temporary hit points: 85

Special ability: swim speed of 50 ft

Special ability: extra attack

Attack: bite: Strength attack. On a hit, 2d8 + strength bludgeoning damage. Target is automatically grappled after a successful hit.

Monk[edit]

There is a monk variant that does not use the complex Ki points. That is one less thing for a new player to worry about.

Rogue[edit]

Rouges are glass cannons with many skills. Like a monk, they like to do hit and run tactics. Dexterity and constitution are their favorite stats.

Sneak attack

Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe's distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an Attack if you use a Finesse or a ranged weapon.

The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Sneak Attack column of the Rogue table.

Sorcerer[edit]

Sorcerer uses sorcery points to cast powerful metamagic spells. Sorcerer enjoys charisma and constitution stats. This sorcerer does not have any sorcery points.

Fount of magic

Replace 2nd level fount of magic with wizard's arcane recovery.

Metamagic

Replace 3rd level metamagic with subtle spell casting.

Subtle spell casting

At 3rd level, you found a way to cast spells without words or hand gestures. Whenever you cast a spell, you may choose to cast it without any somatic OR verbal Components.

Subclass sorcery points

Any subclass feature that uses sorcery points is replaced with one of the below

  • ability score increase
  • You can use this feature once per short or long rest

Part Zwei[edit]

I would recommend for the first adventure a simple, cliche, dungeon crawl with one player (that player being the beginner).



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