Tuesday, July 23, 2019

5e Continual Light: D&D Essentials Kit

I have a confession to make. When Robert Conley wrote up a blurb about the D&D Essentials Kit, I got really excited. In it I saw a version of 5e that I could really sink my teeth into and actually play with a level of enthusiasm that I usually only have for B/X, 0e, and their clones. The idea of having a version of a paired-down 5e with only 5 classes that only goes to sixth level all bundled in a 64 page rule book is right up my alley. So, I scrounged up the money, went to my local store and bought it.

I have to admit that I am really happy with it.  The rules do exactly what I want them to do: be 5e without all the extra rules and fluff that I will never use. I much prefer low-to-mid level play and have very rarely seen characters, either as a player or a referee, get beyond 6-7th level. I will grant that the rules do not include monsters or magic items, but I don't see this a an issue. There are a number of monsters included in the adventure that comes with the kit. Additionally, I have so many monster tomes from a plethora of editions that I will never be lacking in that particular department. The kit also comes with a nice selection of Magic Item Cards, which is a nice touch, literally. There is something wonderfully tactile about getting a card for a potion that one then "turns in" when used.

The thing that I really love about this box set, though, is that there is an even simpler game hidden within. I make no bones about the fact that one of my favorite versions of this game is Tenkar's Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. It strips down the rules of classic D&D to its essentials and still allows us to play the classic game. The D&D Essentials Kit introduces a new rule that paves the way for creating a "Continual Light" version of 5e.

On pages 63 and 64 of the Essentials Rulebook is Appendix A: Sidekicks. It re-introduces and re-skins the classic ideas of the henchmen and hireling with an interesting twist. It takes some of the NPC classes from 3e and converts them to 5e. There are three: the Expert, the Spellcaster, and the Warrior. These are presented in a monster stat-bloc with rules to advance them all the way to 6th level.

In other words, you have three stripped down classes: a Rogue-type, a Wizard-type,  and a Fighter-type. The spell list is simple:
0 level:
Fire Bolt
Mage Hand
Sacred Flame

1st level:
Burning Hands
Cure Wounds
Shield of Faith

2nd level:
That's it.

I suppose one could introduce Backgrounds and/or more choice with Skills, but neither is at all necessary. If one just uses the Skills available to these three Classes, this is all you need to know:
Slight of Hand
Thieves' Tools

I have to admit, I am sore tempted to typeset a "Continual Light" edition of the 5eSRD using these three NPC classes as a jumping off point. Before I go down that rabbit hole, however, I wonder how many would be interested in such a thing?

Would you?


  1. I've considered doing a redo of the basic rules with copy and paste from the site. Adding some nice artwork and making it all old school looking

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I need to pick this up at some point. My wheelhouse is early levels. I may just create my own house rule version.

  3. I picked up the Essentials Kit recently as one of the regular players in my old school game wants to run 5e for me. The Essentials Kit s a pretty complete game, especially considering you can get monster stats for free online from Wizard through the DM rules download.

    I've considered putting together my own stripped-down 5e rules, so I think there are probably a lot of us out there interested in a Continual Light version. In fact, Chris Perkins mentions that during the playtest for the EK adventure, some people just wanted to use the sidekicks. It starts at 9:06, but the quote is closer to 9:40: https://youtu.be/faj9-SJInCE?t=546

  4. @shanepatrickward, @Chris Hall
    Thanks for the words of encouragement. Typesetting is underway!

  5. I’d be interested in something that simple. I have enjoyed a couple of memorable campaigns to about 14th level, but they were special. Most were in the range 1-7, and there was just something special in hitting 3rd level and realising 4th and 5th were do-able. Monsters and spells and magic items I can add in as needed. A good simple core to work with would be great.

  6. Yeah, I'm actually looking at 5e Essentials as a 5e I wouldn't mind playing, but a 5e Continual Light hack would be even more up my alley :)