D&D 5th Edition UA and depth of complexity
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  1. #1
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    UA and depth of complexity

    I get it, Unearthed Arcana has mostly been about providing more character archetypes. Diversity. I call this breadth of complexity. And it's fine.

    But what about more crunch for existing characters?

    Both as in existing character archetypes, and as in actual characters you have built and play. I mean, publishing the Path of the Zealot does nothing for your existing Path of the Berserker Barbarian. And finding out that Bladesinging has been published in SCAG doesn't provide any new options for the Wizard player that just has chosen to play a Diviner, say.

    And neither Barbarian nor Wizard can make use of the existence of a new class, such as the UA Artificer.

    No, those are all either-or propositions. (Sure there's multiclassing, but still)

    Instead I'm thinking of depth of complexity, crunch that actually adds decision points to existing character archetypes and your current player character.

    The obvious example is the feat subsystem. It adds crunch opportunities to every character.

    ---

    What do you think will be the next UA that addresses depth (and not breadth) of complexity?

    I'm thinking back on previous editions, and trying to come up with possible candidates.

    Kits? Specialities? Prestige classes? Feat chains?

    One area that could be mined for possibilities is existing subsystems that currently are hardcoded to a single class only.

    I'm thinking mainly about maneuvers and metamagic. Both could be decoupled from the Battlemaster and Sorcerer, respectively, and then offered to every character instead.

    What are your ideas for how the next UA could add crunch for existing character archetypes instead of merely adding more of them?

  2. #2
    If it's crunch for a new character I roll up, yeah!

    If it's crunch for a character I have? Um.. Geoff? Nah.

    Got enough and AOK thanks!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    What do you think will be the next UA that addresses depth (and not breadth) of complexity?

    I'm thinking back on previous editions, and trying to come up with possible candidates.

    Kits? Specialities? Prestige classes? Feat chains?
    I think that all of those are unlikely. Kits and specialities are already covered by subclasses I think. They have already introduced prestige classes, but I'm not sure whether the concept was received enthusiastically enough for them to make more.
    I doubt that feat chains will be a thing either: you just don't get many feats. Potential synergies between feats are already around, but I don't see a feat that would require having another feat as a prerequisite as likely to come out. Bear in mind that there are a number of feats that are similar to what used to be feat chains in 3.5, but in a single feat that grants more as the character levels up rather than requiring additional feats.

    One area that could be mined for possibilities is existing subsystems that currently are hardcoded to a single class only.

    I'm thinking mainly about maneuvers and metamagic. Both could be decoupled from the Battlemaster and Sorcerer, respectively, and then offered to every character instead.
    I do not see this as likely other than by systems similar to what is in play already such as feats.
    Decoupling maneuvers from the Fighter or Matamagic from the Sorceror other than in a limited fashion such as the martial adept feat would step on too many toes I think. Making them freely available to existing classes would require coming up with a different special mechanic for the BM and Sorceror to preserve those classes' uniqueness. - At which point why not just let them keep their current mechanics and make the special new mechanics the thing that you're giving to the other classes?

    So: I could see a feat that only grants a few sorcery points per long rest and a couple of metamagic options, in the same vein as the martial adept feat. I don't see them becoming more available than that though.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Kobold View Post
    Making them freely available to existing classes would require coming up with a different special mechanic for the BM and Sorceror to preserve those classes' uniqueness.
    Ideally, yes of course.

    But TBH I would be prepared to sacrifice the Battlemaster and the Sorcerer if that adds a whole new layer of crunch to all characters.
    The Battlemaster seems to lay a wet blanket on possible non-magical martial classes, design space wise. And besides, its unstructured approach to maneuvers is not sophisticated enough.
    The Sorcerer simply has stolen metamagic from other spellcasters. I simply don't like that. I honestly don't see enough value in this edition's Sorcerer incarnation, as a stark contrast of the great value the 3E sorcerer added to the d20 system.

    So you could argue cannibalizing them would be actually good for the game.


    So, ideally, yes. But if the alternative is to do nothing since we can't come up with any new schtick of BMs and Sorcerers, that is to me the lesser option.

    The thing that got me thinking was "why are my feelings towards most of the new UA subclasses so lukewarm?". Then it hit me, it is because all it does is adding new options that are mutually exclusive with the one's the PHB has aldready given us: or "breadth" of complexity in other words.

    I believe I would be much more excited by an UA that added depth of complexity, hence this subject

  5. #5
    We have already seen a pass at prestige classes. I think we may see another go at them down the road. I also think we will eventually see more feats. But I am with Cap'n Kobold, I don't think we will see metamagic or maneuvers extend to all classes. For better or worse, they don't want to revise existing classes. Even an eventually Ranger revision will be an addition and not a replacement.

  6. #6
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    I think the obvious question is being overlooked in threads like this: Do they even want more complexity?

    We need to look at the design goals of 5e, and I think it's clear that they are taking a more simple, streamlined approach where they want WE as the players to create additional tools that we like*, as opposed to a splat train of ever increasing complexity and options coming from them directly.

    I think 5e has an identity, one that they are careful to adhere to, and expecting it to be different from that identity will result in you waiting a long, long time.


    *With guidelines on how to create classes and subclasses, feats, etc, and especially with the creation of the DM's Guild seems to point to this intent strongly.

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    I would vote against what you are calling depth of complexity. Wasn't reeling that in one of the major reasons for 5e in the first place?

    The principle I like is "simple rules, deep implications". Go (the ancient version) is a great example of this. Now, I want an RPG to have more complexity than Go or Chess, but the principle applies in terms of assessing features: does the new feature really make decision-making more interesting while playing the game? Or does it just front-load decision-making while creating characters, and/or make resolution of rules needlessly more complex?

    I do not think that 5e is optimized in this regard, but I'm ok with its state, and I'm not convinced it can really be improved without re-writing core rules.
    Last edited by Elfcrusher; Thursday, 26th January, 2017 at 05:28 PM.
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  8. #8
    Honestly I feel that alot of the subclasses in these UA are not only bad but unnecessary. And some that thematicly have potential(like the kensei) are not even close to what they should be. I would like to see some new feats, but the last ones they did in a UA left a sour taste in my mouth, the way they stacked with GWM and SS. I do like where they are going with the artificer though. I know some people dont want new classes, but I think some things you just shouldnt force into a subclass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
    I think the obvious question is being overlooked in threads like this: Do they even want more complexity?
    'Complexity' is often spat out like a condemnation. And, really, no one wants needless complexity (unless it's needless complexity with decades of D&D tradition behind it, of course). But, new content and expanded options carry a price in complexity. Those who want them will have to pay that price (or trim the game of existing options they don't value as highly), while those who don't want them or are unwilling to accept that added complexity will not.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Thursday, 26th January, 2017 at 09:53 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valetudo View Post
    Honestly I feel that alot of the subclasses in these UA are not only bad but unnecessary.
    I agree with this. From the whole list, I *love* Tranquility Monk (maybe not all the details but the concept), like Forge Cleric and Storm Barbarian (or whatever it was called) and I can't say I really like any of the rest. Maybe the fallen Paladin, at least in concept.

    And some that thematicly have potential(like the kensei) are not even close to what they should be.
    Not sure I agree there's a "should" to any of this. It's all opinion/preference.

    I know some people dont want new classes, but I think some things you just shouldnt force into a subclass.
    I agree in principle. What's the design space that needs a new class?

    (Puts on body armor and gets into bunker)


    For example, I've always felt that "leader" should most emphatically NOT be a class. You should be able to play a leader paladin, a leader bard, a leader...well, anything. Leader, like Archer, is a specialization within other classes.

    This is exactly why Ranger is so problematic. Even Paladin is...sketchy.

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