Threshold d20 Review: Goals

Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning Echelon d20, or even renaming it.

I’m reviewing Threshold d20, one of John Reyst’s projects.  It’s somewhat similar to Echelon, and after discussion I decided to review Threshold to look for stuff I can use and provide my comments to John for his consideration.  I understand he’s planning to do something similar for Echelon.

In this post I examine the goals of Threshold d20.

Goals of Threshold d20

In order to understand Threshold d20, it is critical to start with the goals.  They indicate a direction for design and what John is aiming to do.  The analyst part of me insists on jumping up and saying that they aren’t ‘true goals’ in that they aren’t measurable (‘simplified’ means what, exactly?) but since I did the same thing for Echelon d20 I’ll just stifle that part of me.

… but may duck over to and retitle that page on my site to ‘Vision Statement for Echelon d20’ or something.

Develop a talent-based, not class-based system

Almost any character concept is possible without requiring gaining abilities that do not fit the concept because they “come with the class”

This looks to me like a good idea, I’m doing the same in Echelon d20.

Classes do have some design benefits, but there can be other approaches to the same design goals that avoid some of the problems experienced in D&D.

Simplify and Unify Disparate Mechanics

Abilities in Pathfinder or 3.x such as Feats, Skills, Class Abilities and Saving Throws all use the exact same resolution mechanics and are worded and formed the same way, and are all called Talents.

This sounds fine to me.  Again, Echelon d20 does something similar, but with different emphasis.

Simplify Combat

The Action Point system is a more fine-grained and clear way to determine what creatures can do in a combat.

Simplifying combat is good.  I’m trying to do the same in Echelon d20.

John’s use of ‘Action Point’ here is consistent with use from other games (a measure of how much an actor can or does do in his turn).  Several d20 games use ‘Action Point’ to mean ‘extra mojo you can pull out when needed’.

On the face of it ‘fine grained’ doesn’t suggest simplification to me.  However, if it clarifies things it may make things simpler.

Simplify Movement

The Movement Point system is a more fine-grained and clear way to determine where and how creatures can move in combat.

Adds flavor by using a Fatigue Point system.

Again, tracking movement using points may or may not simplify things.  I’ll have to look at it carefully when I get to the details.

I’m not sure that the mention of a Fatigue Point system belongs under this section or was intended to be separate, but formatting suggests it is.  I’m leery of it, if only because I’m not really fond of fatigue systems.


  1. Doug Lampert

    In general D&D HP are abstracted to include fatigue effects. If adding fatigue to the rules I’d treat fatigue damage as simply non-lethal damage. (It recovers faster, it makes you collapse rather than die, having it weakens you in combat, PERFECT as long as you avoid the mistake of having lots of HP bypassing spell attacks that make HP damage meaningless).

  2. Ghostwheel

    …They’re still using class that use per-day abilities as a primary combat mechanic? Just that probably writes it off as far as I’m concerned.

    The 15-minute workday is /not/ something that should be encouraged or propagated.

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