If we strip down each class to their fundamental core, what we find are Hit Dice and several categories that players are allowed to apply their character’s proficiency bonus to:
- Saving Throws
- Spells and Spell-like Abilities
There are four types of hit dice (1d6, 1d8, 1d10 and 1d12). There are four types of Armor (light, medium, heavy and shield). There are four categories of weapons (a partial list of simple weapons, all simple weapons, simple weapons plus a partial list of martial weapons and all martial weapons). There are up to six Saving Throws (one for each ability score). There are any number of tools and skills. Spells and Spell-like Abilities can be categorized any way you like.
What we have here is a framework for a character build for just about any genre you want. Arbitrarily assign a number of build points that can be assigned to any of the above categories. For example, a Fighter might look like this:
- HD: 3pts (d10)
- Armor: 4pts (all armor)
- Weapons: 4pts (all weapons)
- Saving Throws: 2pts (Str & Con saves)
- Tools: 0pts
- Skills: 2pts (two skills)
- Spells: 0pts
This build would cost 15 points.
Spells could be broken down to their mechanical core, as I have done with the spell list from 0e in my Ye Auld Skool Spell Creator. Each character build point could purchase the character an ability to use one of the 16 base spells. Each spell would have a basic DC in order to cast it (say 5 or 10 DC). Thus, characters should be able to auto-cast some of the simplest spells. As mechanics are added to these basic spells, the DC goes up by 5 for each mechanic. As the character goes up in level, it is possible to cast harder and more powerful spells. Due to the mechanical nature of this set-up, these “spells” can be dressed up any way the genre requires: mental powers, mutations, super powers, etc.
With this approach, 5e is transformed from the complicated mess it is now to a simple, streamlined system that can do just about anything you want it to without a lot of complications.
This is what I mean by 5e Lite.