Hacking 5E For My Purposes
I've found myself desiring to run 5E D&D again while making use of things I've learned from playing old school D&D. Here are some home rules I'm pondering...
1. Long Rests Restore Only 1 Hit Die Per Night. No HP is automatically restored. This increases the utility of features that heal the characters such as Second Wind, Lay on Hands, and healing magic. As it stands, PCs getting half of their total Hit Dice back and full HP with every long rest means that there is no real possibility for tension between days of adventuring, as every long rest is a full reset.
2. Only Sorcerers and Warlocks can upcast spells. All others can only cast spells at their original spell level. The reason for this is to highlight the thematic differences between these two types of casters from the rest, and to prevent particular spells from being overused.
3. Any time that a PC is reduced to zero HP, they take one level of exhaustion. This makes use of an excellent built in mechanic the game already has in order to reflect the danger of being downed by an enemy, and the fact that low level healing magic and first aid will not put them back at full operating strength.
4. Leveling up requires 1-4 weeks of training for 500gp per week from a higher level trainer of the same class once the appropriate amount of XP has been obtained. If a trainer is unavailable, it takes twice as long to train but costs only 100gp a week. This explains the sudden acquisition of abilities and spells that occurs when a new level is obtained.
5. Multiclassing requires a 17 or higher in the prime requisite stat for the class, and it takes a minimum of 6 months of training to acquire the second class. This explains the incredible commitment required to gain access to the features of another class. For instance, this represents the new Cleric's period training as an acolyte, or a new Monk developing themselves spiritually and physically. A Wizard would require intense arcane study, a Sorcerer would involve exploring the dormant repressed abilities of the character, etc..
6. Feats do not exist as they do in the official books. Instead, players are encouraged to talk to the DM about things they would like to develop with their character, and the DM will work with them on how it can be accomplished. This may be something that's a magic item or through a custom feature. Magic items may be researched by way of hiring Sages, seeking counsel from spiritual leaders, or hitting up the tavern for rumors.
7. Dead characters can be revived with magic as the rules of the book imply, but with one caveat: a person must pass a DC 13 CON Ability Check to be successfully revived. Failure means that the character cannot be revived. Success means that the character is successfully revived, but permanently loses 1 CON.
8. Healing Word requires that the target of the spell is able to hear what is being said (not deafened), and conscious. This adds some great flavor to how the magic of Healing Word functions. Like a Siren's call, you must be able to hear the "Word" in order to benefit from its effects. Secondly, this makes PCs need to take more significant risks to save an ally from possible death. This increases the tension of battle, whereas in a game with Healing Word being a viable way of negating unconscious PCs, the players need only use up their bonus action within 60ft to rescue allies from the clutches of death.
Final Note: Much more attention will be spent on giving player characters interesting things to do between adventures, like engaging in solo sidequests during downtime, jumping into politics, being part of factions, obtaining new proficiencies/learning languages, etc. This will make it so that players are increasingly able to develop their PCs' connections to the game.