I hate homework.
D&D has two conflicting drives at its core: play Tomb of Horrors, and play Dragonlance.
If you’re doing ToH or Ravenloft or any other super-unfair meatgrinder, you want Dungeon-World Playbook-style chargen: print off a specialized character sheet, make 4-11 choices from narrow menus or even from between only 2 choices, then immediately start playing.
Of course to some degree that’s impossible: D&D has Math and that math isn’t necessarily smoothly representable asa function of level (fighters get extra attack… Now! And they get an ability score increase which we assume goes to strength here, and…).
But 5e did us the favor of putting a lot of the scaling in HP and HD — d20 rolls do increase, but not all that frequently.
So: could an enterprising DM who wanted to run something halfway between I6 Ravenloft and DL1 Dragonlance make pregen-y playbooks, with enough hooks to make things interesting?
I’m thinking something tactile and super boardgamey: this is the Tier I Paladin playbook. It goes from level 1 to level 3. It’s suitable for a beginner-box kind of thing. It has most of the things filled in except for a few blanks, which are abstracted (like: dwarves and elves might lose their straight-math boring stat bumps entirely, just keeping the more interesting resistances, powers, etc). But it’s on a similar keel to the power level it should have, and because it’s so targeted, it has a chance in hell of fitting all of its rules on one side of a sheet of paper.
Anyway: there’s also a Tier II Fighter, levels 4 to 10 (or whatever it is these days), Tier III Warlock 11 to 16, and I wouldn’t bother myself but Tier IV Cleric, 17 to 20.
They’d have gear, but a random table or choose-one of personalizing gear.
They’d have actual graphic design layout making access to what their actual capabilities are not a chore.
And ideally, just enough customizability to satisfy me.
They’d be AWFUL for the 3.x style of character build that just explores the rules and builds a character in the abstract. But I don’t care. I want to play, and play a lot, and that means low to no barriers in front of that playing.
I have some time off, so I’ll see what I can rig up. Of course these are reductive; the point would be to make something approximately balanced at the same table as gamers using the real PHB, so those who really really really want an archery Paladin could, I dunno, be as poorly supported as they are now?