Why 5e?

Loren SmallDeep Dive, Game Dev, Game DevelopmentLeave a Comment

ritual camp fire

5e is the Perfect Platform for Born from Ice

Often, I’m asked, “Why base this game on 5e?” It’s a fair question. Dungeons & Dragons, after all, is a prominent name in the RPG world, and I fully recognize that there are players who prefer RPGs outside the Wizards of the Coast umbrella.

This diversity in gaming preferences is fantastic! As a passionate gamer myself, I believe in celebrating the myriad ways people enjoy RPGs. The world of gaming is vast and varied, and I encourage everyone to explore the rich array of games available. The beauty of RPGs lies in the range of experiences they offer, and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all.

That said, the choice to use 5e for Born from Ice wasn’t arbitrary. It stemmed from a recognition that, while there are many exceptional prehistoric RPGs, there was a niche yet to be filled—a 5e-based Stone Age game.

The Existing Prehistoric RPG Landscape

Before we dive into the specifics of 5e, let me start by saying that before I ever started developing a Stone Age RPG, I started doing research. And what I found was that there are a lot of existing games in the prehistoric RPG space:

  1. GURPS Ice Age – A part of the Generic Universal RolePlaying System, offering versatility but with a more complex rule set.
  2. Würm – A more recent addition that is hugely popular in France, Wurm is a system-lite RPG that allows you to play a more historically accurate or more fanciful version of prehistoric life.
  3. How We Came to Live Here – Explores mythology and stories of Native American people in a narrative-driven format.
  4. Land of Ice and Stone – A Legend RPG based prehistoric RPG.
  5. Paleomythic – A game of ancient myths and survival with a more magical/mystical bent.
  6. Pariah – A zine game focused on a band of outcasts surviving in the dangerous wilderness, which can be adapted to almost any setting but is ideal for prehistory.
  7. Wolf-packs and Winter Snow – An OSR inspired strange stone age roleplaying.

There are more, but these are some of my favorites of the many systems and games I have read and researched. Each of these games brings something unique to the table, but notably, none utilize the 5e system. It turns out, the world didn’t need another original Stone Age RPG, but was instead ready for a 5e based game.

This is where Born from Ice finds its niche.

Born from Ice doesn’t aim to replace other prehistoric RPGs but to offer something different—a 5e-based Stone Age adventure. It’s about taking a beloved system and exploring how it can be reimagined and reshaped to fit a world that’s vastly different from the high fantasy landscapes we’re accustomed to in D&D.

5e: A Universal Engine

Imagine 5e as a video game engine like Unreal – versatile, robust, and universally recognized. Here’s why this matters:

Familiarity and Accessibility

5e is arguably the most popular tabletop RPG system in the world today. Its widespread adoption means that a vast number of players and game masters are already familiar with its mechanics. This familiarity lowers the barrier to entry, making Born from Ice accessible to a broad audience.

Ease of Learning

For newcomers, 5e is generally considered fairly easy to learn and begin to play. This simplicity is key to welcoming new players into the RPG world, particularly those intrigued by the prehistoric setting of Born from Ice.

Creative Commons SRD

The release of the 5e Creative Commons SRD is a game-changer. It opens the doors for creators to build upon and modify the system legally and creatively. This has provided an excellent foundation for developing Born from Ice, allowing for modifications that suit a no-magic, high-danger prehistoric world.

Embracing the Pillars of Gameplay

D&D is built on the pillars of exploration, combat, social interaction, and survival. Born from Ice takes these to new heights, emphasizing the gritty, survivalist aspects of prehistoric life. Modifying the 5e system to fit a world without magic and with heightened danger has been a creatively fulfilling endeavor, allowing us to explore the full potential of these gameplay pillars.

A Game for Everyone… Or Not

It’s worth noting that no single game can cater to the tastes of every RPG enthusiast. For those who are not fans of 5e, the other prehistoric games mentioned earlier offer fantastic experiences in their unique ways. Born from Ice is designed specifically for those who enjoy 5e or are curious about how this system can be adapted to a prehistoric setting.

The Case for 5e

Now, let’s delve deeper into why 5e is more than just a convenient choice – it’s a fitting one for the ambitious vision behind Born from Ice.

Versatility and Adaptability

5e’s greatest strength lies in its adaptability. The system is robust enough to handle a wide range of settings and themes while remaining simple enough to modify without becoming cumbersome. This versatility has allowed us to strip away the elements of high fantasy and magic, replacing them with mechanics that emphasize realism and survival in a prehistoric world.

Building on a Strong Foundation

By starting with a well-established system like 5e, we can focus on what makes Born from Ice unique. We’re not just removing elements (like magic) but adding layers that highlight the themes of humanity’s struggle against nature and each other. This includes new classes, revamped combat mechanics to reflect the absence of magical healing, and a greater emphasis on crafting and resource management.

The Narrative Power of 5e

D&D has always been about storytelling, and 5e’s streamlined mechanics lend themselves well to narrative-driven gameplay. Born from Ice leverages this to create a world rich in lore, where player choices have significant impacts on both their immediate survival and the broader development of their tribe and culture.

Community and Collaboration

The 5e community is vast and active, with countless forums, blogs, and social media groups dedicated to discussing, dissecting, and expanding upon the system. This community is a valuable resource for feedback, ideas, and collaboration, making the development of Born from Ice a dynamic and community-driven process.


Choosing 5e as the foundation for Born from Ice was not a decision made lightly. It was a choice informed by the system’s accessibility, versatility, and narrative potential. While it may not be the perfect fit for every RPG enthusiast, it offers a familiar framework for those already versed in its mechanics and an accessible entry point for newcomers drawn to the allure of a prehistoric setting. With Born from Ice, we aim to push the boundaries of what 5e can do, creating an experience that is both deeply rooted in the primal struggles of our ancestors and resonant with the modern RPG community.