5e Hardcore Mode - sorting out the removal of bonus actions


Hi, I’d new here and I just started running an adventure using the 5E Hardcore Mode rules, and so far I have really enjoyed them. However one of my players brought up a question on what to do with classes that have abilities that are based off bonus actions?

I know the Hardcore Rules state there are no bonus actions to help speed things up, and so far we have just be saying that anything that was a bonus action is just treated as an action now. However this player is a rogue/thief and part of the standard 5e abilities is for them to use hide/disengage/dash as a bonus action instead of a standard action. These bonus actions being used to setup the opportunity to Sneak attack.

Normally I’d be ok with this, as it feels like it hearkens back to my 2E and earlier roots where rogues were more about their thieving abilities/being a skill monkey than doling out damage in combat, but 5E doesn’t really counterbalance the rogue this way. It seems to pay lip service to the thief roots, but is mostly about setting up that one great attack - a sort of non magical glass cannon. As it stands, he can get the opportunity to get one sneak attack at the beginning of the combat and loses that if he flubs the role. And anyone can pick up the thieving skills if they want to so those aren’t as special as they used to be. So I am trying to work with my player and come up with a way to make the 5E rogue still feel useful in combat, or at least make them special or fill a more unique role outside combat, but also keep in line or at least the spirit of Hardcore mode. I’m curious what others have done in their games to make this work, has anyone else made rulings on this in their own game? How have you handled this?


Make that dash/disengage a movement ability.


I haven’t had this scenario come up, but my inclination would be to treat hiding/dashing/or disengaging as part of the Rogue’s movement. During her turn, she can perform those things while moving and then can also take her action.


Rogue: “I want to hide in the shadows here, take to this side of the hallway, and stab the unsuspecting guard.”
DM: “Give me your stealth check. [rolls a 15]. Okay, you’re well-hidden and easily get into position without the guard noticing. Now, make your attack action.”

Rogue: “I want to disengage and move over here.”
DM: “Perfect. You easily do that. [no roll required]. Are you taking an action?”

*Disclaimer: I’m from an ICRPG school where I like to keep things simple and fast.


Also, welcome to the shield wall!!!


Thank you Alex and BlazingPolyhedron, this is what I was leaning towards, but wanted to see what the Runehammer community was doing when they ran this ruleset.

And I am definitely looking into ICRPG after using these rules - Hardcore mode plays so much better that the 5E RAW, it has made me very interested in trying ICRPG.



Changing to ICRPG can be really difficult. But it’s the simplest thing to do.
@Shadymutha made a really cool convention that is all you need to play a one off.

I strongly recommend buying the main rule book in pdf. @Runehammer keeps the PDFs up to date(errata). But there is plenty of free material on Drivethrough and adventures here, to dip your toes.
@Runehammer Even made transitioning from 1st edition to 2nd, if you bought the 1st in DrivethroughRPG it became second in your library.

In my opinion the GM chapter is worth the price of the book.

Here is the rub, the amount of hand holding and walkthrough 5E does. ICRPG is all about DIY. The GM makes the changes that they feel are needed for the story.

On this forum, you will find adventures, advice, mechanics and often a ton of discussions about all of it.

5E hardcore is a simplification of 5E. ICRPG is a breaking down of the role playing elements to play most things easily and get them to the table quick. It even allows you to plug things in easily if you want that cool mechanic for just one session.

But it is a very different mindset. I’ll admit I’ve played as many non-icrpg games as I have played ICRPG since I converted, but my view is coming from ICRPG now.


Another solution, if you want to keep it at a single roll per turn to make things go faster is to perhaps make the attack roll with Stealth? If he fails then you get to decide if his approach to the guard failed or if it failed at the moment of the attack. :smiley:


I don’t know which episode, but on Dragon Talk (The D&D official podcast) Jeremy Crawford did a whole rules clarification on Bonus Actions. He explained that you have to look and see if they say “If x then y”. So for example with the 5e Shield Master, if you attack (X) You can use a bonus action to shove (Y).

In another thing I saw, Mike Mearls commented that Bonus Actions where still confusing and he wished they haden’t gone with them; so he said that instead of having bonus actions, you could give characters more specifically named actions. For example instead of saying that the rogue can use a bonus action to dash, disengage, or hide they could just say that the Rogue can always Dash, Disengage, or Hide on their turn. It’s not a bonus action, it is just something they can do.

Another good example is Two weapon fighting. In 5e:
“When you take the Attack action and Attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a Bonus Action to Attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus Attack, unless that modifier is negative.”

An easy way to fix this is just to take out the words Bonus Action:

When you take the Attack action and Attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can make a second Attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus Attack, unless that modifier is negative.

It’s fiddly. But basically that; look at the action in 5e as written, then remove the bonus action stipulation and just call it something they can do once per turn on top of a standard action.


That’s a big hit on action economy. To some players (because I’ve asked the question at two different tables, when trying to intro a stripped-down 5e while there were some vets), it becomes a “contribute OR do your own thing” kind of situation in combat.

I’m not sure I 100% agree with them, but I know I see the argument when the exampled rogue engine runs off of dealing damage, and then fading back to a safe place without being smacked for daring to run up to the front line. That’s what fighters do, after all.

Even if I don’t agree, I also haven’t come up with a good solution to addressing their concern. Making some of the rogue stuff part of their Movement is good, and your fix for TWF is also good (but then, why wouldn’t everyone become a dual-wielder…), but it doesn’t solve some of the fighter’s bonus action antics nor any of the bonus action spells (of which there are admittedly few).

Have you had anymore thoughts or experience since you originally posted the reply? Or maybe seen your patches in practice at the table since April?


I haven’t even gotten a chance to play 5e Hardcore mode yet haha. I just have one game, and we are just finishing up Curse of Strahd in 5e. When that is done I am taking a DM break but will run it in the future.

The more I think about the question though, I just wouldn’t mess with the action economy at all. It is probably the most important part of 5e Combat. So just keep Actions, Bonus Actions, and Reactions as is. It doesn’t slow things down as much as people say (assuming semi-experienced players) and can be countered with a few simple table rules (Namely; know how your character works, and roll your d20 + Attack Dice at the same time).


@Arc you are correct to not mess with the action economy…though to take advantage of the speed of game that “hard core” mode adds…you mess with the action economy.

Realistically, D&D has always been slow, compared to other semi-popular games of its time. 5E is possibly the slowest once at level 12. But 3.5 I cannot say was much faster, but I seem to remember less 4 hour combats…but most of my sessions at that time where 6 hours vs 4 hours now.

That said, your table, your game!!!

5 torches deep does a good job of making 5E more classic old school D&D. But I wouldn’t try to fit current characters into different systems.
As written Hard Core wizard at 5 th level can use fireball like magic missiles. Suddenly making them more of the glass cannons they we pretend they are.

Hard core is about high lethality. And trying boss fights more than once. But it is also about the characters die…but become captured as their candle was discovered.

The idea is to entertain yourself and make the game as intense as possible. Death and violence is not the only way to do this…but it is easy, and your most secure bet. But good chases, and moral Dilemma, is memorable and engaging…just not a story that gets talked about as much, cause you need to have been there to get it.


When a PC gets new abilities/spells that use BA, just discuss how to incorporate it into 1 MOVE/1 ACTION. A lot of them don’t require extra rolls anyway:

Rogue cunning action: Included in move (as others have said).

TWF: Roll extra attack (as others have said, there are also lots of alternative ideas on forums for this). To stop TWF being a “always optimal” thing, maybe require a certain amount of DEX/STR, a feat, or make having 2 things in your hands matter (“I want to pull the lever, going to have to drop my offhand- can’t sheath with that orc in my face”).

Bardic inspiration: Free action on other people’s turn (as there is no roll required). This is also better IMO because it makes the bard more active in choosing when to help someone, feels cooler, rather than receiving player just sitting with it

BA spells: Admittedly some are harder to convert. Could make them EASY action (eg. Healing Word), or more effective to be like normal spells, or usable as move action (if it’s not a roll), etc

Battle Master manoeuvres: Just part of action (they have limited number of uses anyway)

Barbarian rage: Free action.