D&D 5E A 5E Focused on Dungeons

Reynard

Legend
In another thread I said
Probably the biggest weakness of 5E is that it can't decide whether it is a Dungeon Fantasy game or not. Half od the design choices point toward dungeons, but the other half don't -- and the "culture" presented in the official modules certainly doesn't. You are absolutely right in your comment "needed a bigger dungeon" because the attrition of hit points and spells that "balances" fighters versus casters is built around the dungeon. The PCs should be pulling out when they are spent, hauling whatever treasure they can carry and considering knocking out the torchbearer's knee in order to slow those trogs down.

But not all of 5E embraces that. While we still have wizards and fighters, we also have warlocks and other "short rest" classes. We have too many resources that don't suffer attrition, and we have too many cheap or free abilities that bypass the difficulty in the dungeon and wilderness.

I think D&D needs to decide what it is and excise the mechanics that don't support that. The OSR showed that people do in fact still want resource management and dungeon procedures -- and not just us old farts. But not everyone wants that. The Hickman mode is alive and well today. "Stories" are something a lot of people want -- and not just the new kids. The thing is, D&D has never been good at doing them both well, and I think 5E is particularly bad at the former.

Maybe there is an answer that allows D&D to be both, but I don't think so. Frankly, there is probably more money in the latter, story oriented play, so they should kill those dungeon crawling sacred cows that exist only in diminished form anyway.

It's a little hyperbolic in places probably, but my larger point is this: 5E is not mechanically designed for dungeon crawling as the primary activity. not only does it lack basic procedures for doing so a la Basic and AD&D, but the resource management of character abilities is not oriented toward it except in a half-arsed legacy way.

So -- what does a 5E built for dungeon crawling as the primary mode of play look like?
 

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Here is a good blog post sort of about this topic:


The biggest challenges for 5e are that light and encumbrance don't matter, the mechanics for dealing with traps and secret doors are boring, and characters are generally not motivated by finding treasure nor avoiding wandering monsters. Dungeon "crawling" in core 5e is more about pacing out your 6-8 encounters.

That said, I think levels 1-5 with some hacks can still give you an old school feel
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
It's a little hyperbolic in places probably, but my larger point is this: 5E is not mechanically designed for dungeon crawling as the primary activity. not only does it lack basic procedures for doing so a la Basic and AD&D, but the resource management of character abilities is not oriented toward it except in a half-arsed legacy way.

So -- what does a 5E built for dungeon crawling as the primary mode of play look like?
There were a few threads about the buried procedures in 5E. They're scattered and must be dug up, but they are there...sort of...for what it's worth. I would link the threads but I have completely lost track of them.

I think you're spot on. 5E can't do old-school dungeon crawls without a heap of house rules. Mostly banning things. And a stack of reminders that things that are technically in the books but so often hand-waved away will actually be enforced, like food, water, light, carrying capacity, etc.

This is basically how I ran my West Marches 5E game. I wanted it to focus on exploration, hexcrawling, dungeons, wilderness exploration, etc. So, to make 5E fit that, I had to house rule it. A lot.

Off the top of my head the things I had to alter or ban were: light cantrip, darkvision, carrying capacity, food, water, light sources, rangers, outlander background, foraging rules, races with powerful build, bags of holding (holes and haversacks, too), genie warlocks, create food and water, goodberry, long rests, leomund's tiny hut, pass without trace, rope trick, etc. And that's just off the top of my head. There's a list. And it's long. Basically go through every exploration in 5E thread and fix all the problems everyone keeps pointing out.

5E is designed to give nostalgic lip service to exploration, it's not designed to actually operate in that space. Or rather, it's explicitly designed to not operate in that space.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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