Bounded Accuracy

You can read about the concept of Bounded Accuracy here, straight from the Wizard’s mouth (so to speak).

That article was written a couple of years ago, but I’ve only just recently heard the term “Bounded Accuracy.”  It’s fair to say, I think, that Bounded Accuracy is the foundational design philosophy behind the core of 5 Edition D&D.  In short, the idea is to flatten the power curve, with advancement in character level (including monsters) being reflected by increased hit points, damage output and additional abilities, rather than ever increasing “to-hit” numbers and skill ranks.  The result being a more consistent power gradient in the game, allowing low-level/low-skill characters to still have a decent shot of doing “stuff,” without artificially increasing difficulty to keep up with the steadily increasing power curve.  Likewise, low-level monsters remain a threat to high-level PCs (though you’d need throw more monsters at them).

Having read the Wizard’s article, I have a new found respect for the underlying design philosophy behind 5e, even if I disagree with some of the individual outcomes of that design.  It’s a design principle I can really get behind, as I’m all for reduced power curves, which generally promotes the type of lighter, faster gameplay that I enjoy.

It also explains why hit points and damage output have been increased so much in 5e, which is one of my major “dislikes” about the game.  The OSR versions of this concept that I’ve read about managed to flatten the power curve without significantly inflating hit points or damage, so I wonder if it could be achieved with 5e.  Could a fix be as easy as just using d6 for all damage and hit point rolls, ala 0e?  Or would it entail far more work?  I’m not sure, but it could make for an interesting experiment.

As an aside,  this isn’t an entirely new concept.  Some OSR designers have been using the idea of a significantly flattened power curve for years now, though they didn’t call it “Bounded Accuracy.”


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2 Responses to “Bounded Accuracy”

  1. The Bane Says:

    “Could a fix be as easy as just using d6 for all damage and hit point rolls, ala 0e? Or would it entail far more work? I’m not sure, but it could make for an interesting experiment.”

    I believe it (d6 for HP/Damage) does work to flatten the creep of power. One of the reasons I still often (well used to – no group anymore) used and preferred it. Additional work could definitely be done to improve it however. Also the E6 phenomena was an attempt to do the same I believe, and I liked that too.

    I would love to see an experiment on your thoughts. Maybe combined with additional PFBB posts? *wink wink*

    • edowar Says:

      Good observation about E6 style games, it hadn’t occurred to me that was essentially an attempt at “bounded accuracy” as well.

      I’ve recently been enamored with the idea of using just d6 for all damage and hit point generation, but haven’t much chance to try it yet. I think it’d be fun to experiment with using just d6 for 5e, and maybe PFBB as well.


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