Sunday, December 11, 2022

Looking at 5E for quick pickup games...

A while back, in the midst of remembering Ivan Reitman, I wrote a little about rule conversion that hinted at the possibility of using 5E D&D as the base for a game intended to be about as streamlined as the old Ghostbusters RPG.  You could create a character pretty much the same way in either system just by determining attributes/traits and adding on some proficiencies/talents.  If it works for a pickup game of Ghostbusters, it should work for a pickup game using 5E rules, eh?

During this year's run of holiday gaming, I ran a Lovecraftian horror one-shot for Halloween and wanted to try out this streamlined approach to 5E as a universal system.  So, I just took 5E, added in a couple of modern skills and tools that might be important, and asked everyone to make a character using a Background only (or an equivalent set of proficiencies plus an extra roleplaying-based characteristic).  Sanity was tracked like hit points, and everyone rolled both that and HP (instead of maxing out at "1st level") to keep things tense(?).  I had come across at least one example on the net where someone discussed setting up a 5E funnel with background-only characters, and this seemed like it should work just as well.

For the adventure, I modified and quickly converted the Call of Cthulhu convention module Dead Boarder to take place at Miskatonic Community College on Halloween 1985.  (Note: I definitely recommend this scenario, as it's a pretty cool and easily adaptable Lovecraftian romp, and its convention-game focus helped us keep a one-shot as an actual one-shot, which we sometimes have trouble with...!)  And honestly, I think it went pretty darn well.  Background-only 5E gaming may just become a go-to for themed one-shots I want to try out.

I mean, when players come to the game with characters like the one below, how can things go wrong?  Quick creation...just enough substance to care about the character through a single session...defaulting to 5E rules that we all know reasonably well...I realize there's nothing groundbreaking to this approach, but I was really pleased with the outcome.  Here's Rachel's character, sharing without her knowledge or permission or anything like that but I really don't think she'll have an issue with it...

Milton Casey

40s or 50s, tall and slight but with ropey muscles, thinning brown hair and clean shaven. Wearing classic olive-beige jumpsuit of a custodial worker.

Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 9, Cha 14

Skill proficiencies: Repair, Perception

Tool proficiency: Cleaning equipment (floor buffer, wet vac, etc.)

Languages: English, Spanish

Background Feature: Knows Where the Bodies are Buried - For the campus where Milt works, he knows where every employee (staff and faculty) keeps their files and important papers and can access them at any time (licitly or otherwise).

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