5E 5e...too safe?

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
Hi all

I appreciate we've been inundated with 5e first impression, but for what its worth I thought I'd share mine.

Firstly, my experiences of 5e are as an owner of the PHB, and someone who is currently DM'ing the starter set. My group and I have have been playing since 2nd ed, and we pretty much agree that 4th edition is our favourite so far.

So thats the background out of the way, my opinions on 5e. Nice solid system, well presented and definitely has a very D&D vibe to it, however it all feels a little safe, I really think if they'd pushed it a little further they could have had a truly amazing system.

What do I mean by this, well a couple of examples that stand out to me.
Firstly monsters, I've been following the monster previews that have been trickling out, and they seem well done, however maybe I'm spoilt by the 13th age bestiary, but 5e monsters seem to lack powers that are interesting to use as a DM, abilities that have unusual mechanically interactions with play, I think this is even a valid comparison against later 4e monster manuals, where a lot of the monsters had great mechanical abilities. I want monsters do interesting things mechanically, not just relying purely on DM creativity to make them fun.

Secondly the fighter. Again a solid, balanced class that I think would be ok to play, but when it gets to higher levels it seems to lack a little sparkle. I think they could have pushed the envelope a little more with the battlemaster abilities. I want my high level fighter to be like Leonidas, performing feats of almost mythically prowess on the battlefield, the fighter powers currently don't really seem to allow that, again falling back on player/dm creativity (which while no bad thing, I'd just like to have a rules framework there to easily back up the players imagination)

Currently 13th age is my favourite system, but I appreciate that it can be a little too abstract for a lot of people (my group included) however I wish that 5e had just pushed a little bit more in that direction.

The issues above I don't believe are show stoppers for me, indeed I think they can be easily overcome with future releases and maybe once the system has got into stride and the designers become more confident we will see fighters with more variable powers and a wider variety of monster abilities, after all it did take 4e a while to really get into its stride.
 
Firstly monsters, I've been following the monster previews that have been trickling out, and they seem well done, however maybe I'm spoilt by the 13th age bestiary, but 5e monsters seem to lack powers that are interesting to use as a DM, abilities that have unusual mechanically interactions with play, I think this is even a valid comparison against later 4e monster manuals, where a lot of the monsters had great mechanical abilities. I want monsters do interesting things mechanically, not just relying purely on DM creativity to make them fun.
I noticed the same, now that the MM is in the wild and previews about.

I think it's by design, possibly in a way that mirrors the starting low-complexity of the game from the player's point of view. IMHO the designers wanted monsters to be simpler to run than in 3e/4e, so that the DM also could have an easy life. I would expect however, that either the MM or DMG provides monster advancements/variations rules to make things more complicated, so that when using monster X you don't always end up using the same one and only special trick.
 
It really depends what you're looking for in a system I suppose. If 4e is your favourite D&D edition, and if you're group is jiving on 13th Age then it's not really a surprise that 5e falls a little short in the heroism department. If you're looking for a simpler game, with fewer bells and whistles but a true D&D experience then 5e is a solid offering in my opinion. The selling point with 5e has been the ease in which it runs compared with a system like Pathfinder (that my group has been campaigning in most recently).

If 'less is more' appeals to you, 5e is great.

If you're looking for more complexity, you probably will look elsewhere to fulfil those tastes (or house rule some stuff in).

As an aside too, I can't imagine it would be too hard to use your 4e Monster Manuals with 5e? I could be mistaken though.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
The issues above I don't believe are show stoppers for me, indeed I think they can be easily overcome with future releases and maybe once the system has got into stride and the designers become more confident we will see fighters with more variable powers and a wider variety of monster abilities, after all it did take 4e a while to really get into its stride.
I dont disagree with your concerns with 5e. I would add the Ranger into the mix of concerns as well. But to be fair they really nailed some of the other classes. I really like the cleric and and warlock. I guess I feel the classes feel uneven in terms of polish - it just feels that that the Warlock has had more design attention than the Ranger.

I also agree that there is design space for more complicated fighters. Already on this board I have seen a more complicated 5e fighter homebrew. I am sure some Warlord is going to pop up as well and a martial only ranger. If WOTC doesnt satisfy these choices then -people will step up themselves. Perhaps that will be the hallmark of 5e?
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
If you're looking for more complexity, you probably will look elsewhere to fulfil those tastes (or house rule some stuff in).

As an aside too, I can't imagine it would be too hard to use your 4e Monster Manuals with 5e? I could be mistaken though.
True, it is always down to personal preference, and we do all have differing tastes (thankfully :) )

I guess i do prefer a little more complexity, but also something that just felt a little more innovative.

As an example I think that advantage is a great mechanic, I just wonder if they could have expanded it more? Maybe like 13th age does with the escalation dice, tie certain monsters attacks into it? (their could be monsters in the MM that do this I'm speaking from the ones i've seen)
So as an example (off the top of my head!!) if a dragon hits you with a claw attack when it has advantage it grabs you as well? yes a DM could describe this as part of the narrative of combat, but given many groups argue unless there is a specific rule, it would be nice to have in place.

I will be very interested in seeing the options the DM's guide presents, it may well be that this covers the worries i have.

It may well be that I try and convert some of the 13th Age/4E monsters and abilities over to 5e, as 5e is a very solid framework and hopefully doing this won't break it
 
True, it is always down to personal preference, and we do all have differing tastes (thankfully :) )

I guess i do prefer a little more complexity, but also something that just felt a little more innovative.

As an example I think that advantage is a great mechanic, I just wonder if they could have expanded it more? Maybe like 13th age does with the escalation dice, tie certain monsters attacks into it? (their could be monsters in the MM that do this I'm speaking from the ones i've seen)
So as an example (off the top of my head!!) if a dragon hits you with a claw attack when it has advantage it grabs you as well? yes a DM could describe this as part of the narrative of combat, but given many groups argue unless there is a specific rule, it would be nice to have in place.

I will be very interested in seeing the options the DM's guide presents, it may well be that this covers the worries i have.

It may well be that I try and convert some of the 13th Age/4E monsters and abilities over to 5e, as 5e is a very solid framework and hopefully doing this won't break it
I doubt it will break it. Seems like the system is robust enough to handle just these sorts of things :)
 

SilentBoba

Visitor
I should be receiving my PHB today from Amazon, so my current 5E impression is based solely on the free PDF's and various previews. My group is currently playing in 13th Age, and I have both the Bestiary and the 13 True Ways books.

I agree 5E played it a bit too safe, but that's holding it up to the 13th Age Bestiary as a comparison, which is marvelous in terms of truly interesting and unique mechanics balanced perfectly not only with fluff, but with great encounter ideas. That said, when scrutinizing the 13th Age mechanics, you can see that many of the creatures have abilities that trigger automatically based on die rolls rather than ones the DM chooses to use (i.e. "on an even hit, on a hit > 5 above the target number, etc.). So it truly feels like "rolling the dice" sometimes, and hoping for not only a hit, but particular rolls. Mechanically, this seems very interesting on paper, but in practice it can feel too random. Many classes have the same shtick, typically triggered on an even base roll.

5E in comparison is old school in how it presents a menu of solid choices, and each generally either succeeds or fails. So you have tactical decision making instead of generally just choosing either a ranged or melee attack and seeing what happens. So you have predictability without the bursts of 13th Age flavor. Safer? Sure, but the results are a little less about the particular die roll and more about the player or GM making choices.

I can't comment on how the new ones will shake out for the PHB, but in 13th, the idea that you can spend feats on nearly every ability or spell to make it truly a specialty is both novel and to an extent reductive. We haven't played 13th Age past 3rd level (out of 10, not 20+) but it seems like the game fosters finding one or two specialized (i.e. feat-ized) moves that the PC will use over and over again, I suspect to the near exclusion of any other. Again, that's a prediction more than an observation.

I'm really excited to see what the PHB offers. I do wish they would have BBQ'ed a few more sacred cows, such as using "level" to indicate both class and spell level. Teaching that is like explaining English spellings to a non-native speaker--in the end it comes down to "that's just the way it is". 13th Age's cure for this is to have spell/ability levels that match the class level needed to use the spell or ability, so spells are 1st level, then 3rd level, with no 2nd. There are numeric gaps, but effectively there is only one "level" and that's the class level.

I wish they would have eliminated XP entirely. Nothing reduces an RPG to grinding faster than they do. That will be my first house rule, since all the other systems we've played that don't convert heroics to numerics haven't suffered in any way for disincentivizing players to take risks and be badass. 13th Age and most narrative systems got this right, and 5E simply used a lower numeric range but kept XP. Blah.

With each new edition of D&D I wish for Vance to finally get banished, and in 5E's defense, this is the best yet. I eagerly await the DMG's spell point options, but as a starting point, the magic system has never looked better. So while not wild and crazy, I wouldn't exactly call the resulting system "safe". It's a significant improvement, and frankly the result is better than 13th Age's equivalent, just to bring that system in for yet another comparison (I won't go into details about it, as that is definitely a separate topic).

I'm really looking forward to digging in to the system. I suspect the result will be we move the 13th Age campaign to D&D and put some of 13th's innovations to work as house rules. I have no patience for RAW if there's a better way to play. The resulting system as the group decides to play it are all that matter.
 

Quartz

Explorer
Secondly the fighter. Again a solid, balanced class that I think would be ok to play, but when it gets to higher levels it seems to lack a little sparkle
Somehow I think that's the advantage of the class: if you've got a new player, you can give them an appropriate level fighter champion and they're set. Nice and easy to play and they can make a solid contribution.
 

Dungeoneer

Visitor
That said, when scrutinizing the 13th Age mechanics, you can see that many of the creatures have abilities that trigger automatically based on die rolls rather than ones the DM chooses to use (i.e. "on an even hit, on a hit > 5 above the target number, etc.). So it truly feels like "rolling the dice" sometimes, and hoping for not only a hit, but particular rolls. Mechanically, this seems very interesting on paper, but in practice it can feel too random. Many classes have the same shtick, typically triggered on an even base roll.
Tying powers to the natural value of the attack roll is not done to randomize them. It's to take the load off the DM trying to figure out if they are allowed to use the monster's 'limited use' powers. It's exactly the same as when you had to roll a d6 to see if a 4e monster regained its limited use power, but it is simpler. The DM still has to make lots of tactical decisions - who to attack, where to move, whether to retreat, etc.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
I ran a 13th Age game for 6 months. The monsters had cool powers, but they rarely got to use them. I found I'd be a bit disappointed as the GM when the players won so easily, where in any other game I've run, I'd be happy for them. Then again, in other systems, I found I could challenge them more easily than in 13th Age, but that's another story for another thread.

If you make the monsters too special, they almost become like DMPCs or Mary Sue NPCs that you don't want to die...at least not until you get to do the cool thing. I felt kinda dirty running that game, to be honest.
 

SilentBoba

Visitor
Tying powers to the natural value of the attack roll is not done to randomize them. It's to take the load off the DM trying to figure out if they are allowed to use the monster's 'limited use' powers. It's exactly the same as when you had to roll a d6 to see if a 4e monster regained its limited use power, but it is simpler. The DM still has to make lots of tactical decisions - who to attack, where to move, whether to retreat, etc.
Yep, that's the intent of the mechanic, but it's not "exactly the same" by any means, except perhaps over a long battle if you look at how often the monster can use the ability. The crucial difference is in 5E they get the abilities up front, so the first use is on demand. That's a pretty big distinction. I realize randomization wasn't the goal of 13th Age's critter powers, but it's the effect. I'm a chronically bad die roller, but also an open die roller, and often entire battles would go by without a particular marquee ability triggering because I'd miss the trigger value--even if the roll itself hit. That's very frustrating. I'd rather only have the ability work once than not at all.

The problem with 5E abilities is they lack the creative flair in the names and described effects. I even checked to see if Owlbears can tear off arms :devil:
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
Yep, that's the intent of the mechanic, but it's not "exactly the same" by any means, except perhaps over a long battle if you look at how often the monster can use the ability. The crucial difference is in 5E they get the abilities up front, so the first use is on demand. That's a pretty big distinction. I realize randomization wasn't the goal of 13th Age's critter powers, but it's the effect. I'm a chronically bad die roller, but also an open die roller, and often entire battles would go by without a particular marquee ability triggering because I'd miss the trigger value--even if the roll itself hit. That's very frustrating. I'd rather only have the ability work once than not at all.

The problem with 5E abilities is they lack the creative flair in the names and described effects. I even checked to see if Owlbears can tear off arms :devil:
I do agree with the point you make around 13th age, a lot of the abilities are in the hands of the gods, so to speak and indeed that is what turned my group off the system (plus the background/skills system, they prefer a hard and fast list of what there characters can do). They often felt, particularly the fighter that he didn't really have control over what happened. However the combat encounters I ran in 13th age very rarely were dull, whether this was the unpredictability of the system or design, I couldn't say, but as a DM it worked for me

Fairplay to 13th ages bestiary, it was hands down the most inspirational Monster Manual I've ever read, I wanted to use every monster in it! Maybe like you say it was the flavour text and presentation that has raised my concerns, I will wait until I've read and used a few critters from the 5e MM before being too critical!
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
The main body of criticism for D&D5E has mainly come from Pathfinder fans and 4E fans. Pathfinder fans have an immediate outlet to play, but 4E fans may be a little caught between two editions currently, although there is 13th Age.

For me, I don’t want 5E to be any more elaborate in mechanics. For me, the elaboration in this editions comes from the narrative and background details for each character. I admire and enjoy the simplicity of play.
 
The main body of criticism for D&D5E has mainly come from Pathfinder fans and 4E fans. Pathfinder fans have an immediate outlet to play, but 4E fans may be a little caught between two editions currently, although there is 13th Age.

For me, I don’t want 5E to be any more elaborate in mechanics. For me, the elaboration in this editions comes from the narrative and background details for each character. I admire and enjoy the simplicity of play.
The simplicity is a welcome reprieve from Pathfinder.
 

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