D&D 5E A lesson I hope WotC learns from Paizo (with regards to 5E)

Tovec

Explorer
Yes, of course I told them it wasn't necessary. The point still stands: they were able to play, and to enjoy the game, because I was there and was able to provide the rules interface for them.
The point you originally made was that 300 page book scares people off. Now you are changing that point ans so I'll accept that you meant what you are NOW saying instead of "I showed them a 300 page book and want of a game died."

I just want to add first that 300 pages isn't a problem by itself. It really isn't. Even in the game you are describing you can and probably should just explore the book as needed. My comment about having a 100 page book but needing a half dozen others in order to play the full game still stands. With that said let's get onto what you are now saying.

(1) But in the absence of an experienced player to get them started, 3e requires that: (2) someone needs to buy three rulebooks ($60 at release, rising to $90 with the third printing); (3) someone needs to read those rulebooks, then either that person needs to explain the rules to the other players, or they too need to read the PHB; (4) everyone needs to create a character, a process that is likely to take a newbie at least half an hour; (5) the DM needs to prepare an adventure (or use a premade one, meaning yet more expense and reading).
Bold is me and added for reference:
(1) I think you are probably right that 3e required, or at least benefitted from an experienced player at the helm. 3e was a big system to get into but that level of depth and difficulty to get into is neither unique to 3e, worst in 3e, nor applicable in a discussion about "300 pages = bad" or about 5e in general.
(2) The price of the books is major concern for ALL players, not new ones or inexperienced ones. Those inexperienced people will want to buy them less (have less reason to drop so much money to start) but I think that is MORE of a reason to have everything in a single book when possible. If the DM suggests you might need the PHB to play the game, then getting the PHB or not can be the decision. But (and this assumes same amount of pages and cost over all) if the DM says you need the PHB, RPH, the GMR, CPT, FMA, and so on in order to play the game - that is a significant MORE of an investment for new players than one book, even if they have the same number of pages over all. Some people will benefit from this piecemeal approach but I don't think it helps over all.
(3) Yes, but I KNOW that not even all DMs need to have read the books in order for the game to be successful. I was one, so was my best friend, so were a half dozen others. In fact when I was learning to play 3e we had a meat grinder where the rule was you couldn't play until you DMed - which meant running a brutal game with VERY limited knowledge of the game. And do you know what happened? Everyone survived and everyone loved the meat grinder because of the unpredictability. Like I said, it is best if the rules are there and you not need them than if the rules aren't and you do, or else it might take a DC 35 check to hide behind a barrel. So, yes, I disagree that you need to read the book through first. It is probably best not to, but instead go looking for things as you advance, so as not to completely mess things up in your mind or forget what you already know. Just like if you are running a game as complex as monopoly, it is probably not easiest to read all the rules before play and then start the game. It is probably best to start the game while reading the rules so you understand what the pieces mean, when you pick them up, their power in the game, and so on.
(4) We are talking of 3e here? 30 minutes to create a character? Wow. I'm impressed. I know vets who take hours every time. I don't see what that has to do with the length of the book through, more the rules of the system - which I do happen to agree is a problem.
(5) Every edition of Dnd, no scratch that, every RPG in existence requires this. And?

And then they get to start having fun.

Faced with that, it's no wonder that most potential players choose WoW instead. Frankly, it's a bloody miracle we're talking about 5e at all.
Right, except for the fact that people know this going in. You expect a different system than WoW. One with more complexity and diversity than WoW. If you think 300 pages in a book means that people should be playing WoW instead then I think you kind of miss the point.

Now, I agree that there is an entry barrier to joining this particular hobby. Absolutely, 100%. But there is similar barriers to joining wargames (Warhammer for example) where you have to buy the minis, paint them, understand the rules and tactics enough to win. Or when playing WoW if you want to become one of the best in the game it takes hours, days of grinding in swamps and collecting quests that no one is reading. No game is without a entry barrier to get up to grade. And that is before you get REALLY good at it. I also agree that there should be ways of ramping up to this. But I think that if someone is getting scared off by 300 pages in a single book ("do we have to read all that?") that maybe this hobby isn't right for them - because that 300 pages is not even the tip of the iceberg, its the snowflake falling onto that iceberg.

The barrier to entry for this game is really quite significant - near $100 and 1,000 pages of reading. And that for something you might enjoy. Glib dismissals about reading being hard might be marginally amusing, but they're not even remotely helpful.
Again, I think you were mostly talking about 3e here. I got into 3e it cost me (after discount) about 20 bucks (but otherwise would have been 35-40 I think) and was a 300 (ish) page book. I bought that book several weeks after playing, up until then all I had to worry about was my character sheet. Even when I got the PHB I only ever read the bits I was directly working with. Now, I eventually did go pick up the DMG, MM and others. But that was when I was an experienced player. My point is that no new player should be made to expect (by their DM or WotC or anyone) that they have to spend 100 bucks and read 1000 pages in order to enjoy the hobby. If they think that their DM should explain that it is plainly false. The DM on the other hand probably has to get there, and so I can understand why that is a much bigger investment for DMs but as stated earlier (I think/hope it was in this thread) the DMs are the ones buying the books - they're the ones WotC needs to cater to in order to keep it going. But then again, if you don't want to spend that money/read that many pages then you probably aren't going to want to learn the game well enough/spend as much time required to be a great DM either. They kind of go hand in hand. However, this why I'm a big fan of beginner boxes (even though I'll likely never end up buying one).

(And, yes, the answer to most of those problems is a really good starter set, coupled with a decent migration strategy from there to the 'real' game. We're yet to see one from WotC, despite several attempts.)
I agree. With the need of a really good starter set. And a good migration plan. And with WotC being bad at their jobs at creating a really good starter set in order to do this. It doesn't change that a really good starter set would be a MASSIVELY great idea however.

Now with that said, basic DnD was a hit. But everyone talks about Advanced DnD, right? You and me aren't inexperienced players. So the 300 page book isn't scaring YOU off, is it?

------

As I said in my previous post, we're still in the transition phase. WotC shouldn't yet be considering abandoning print entirely. And, in particular, there are some products that will essentially always need to be done physically - the aforementioned starter set being being one of them.
I'm telling you that the day that WotC decides to EVER abandon print entirely is the day they 100% lose me as a customer - quality of the game or not. I need the hard cover books. In 50 years when I'm old and on my deathbed I'll still have my copies of DnD books so I can play, and I won't have had to update my cell-chip in order to get the most updated version.

There are certainly tools, character builders, and maybe even most player/customization books that I can accept in pdf. But I will not accept and simply will not buy the game if it goes purely digital. I won't. I don't have a tablet and even if I did I don't want all my books there. This is one of the few experiences in my life that are left where I want a analogue version.

But the days of building a strategy around "sell books" are probably done. And I think both WotC and Paizo know it.
Quite possibly. I'm not suggesting they ONLY make physical copies either. I'm saying they have to make SOME books physical or else I won't buy. I don't really need a physical copy of books I won't be using on a regular basis - that's why I have pdfs of many books already for quick access. But there is no replacement for good, quality hardcopies. Especially not at the table. Having a searchable format is great, but that is the difference between buying the book and using the SRD/PRD. I want something that I can hold in my hands and flip through when the power is out. I want something I can index with my fingers instead of with page numbers. And if WotC or even Paizo or anyone doesn't offer me this format then I really can't play their game - as I said digital media at the table is death.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Agamon

Adventurer
The other way to look at this, for any edition, is that the larger the book the more information you have when you need it. If 3e released a book only 100 pages long, you would constantly have to go looking in other books for spells, items, races, feats, etc.

Which says more about 3e than anything else, really.
 

fjw70

Adventurer
I want books that I actually enjoy reading. The 4th edition books were as boring to read as a VCR manual.

That was one of the things I liked about 4e. The books are great reference manuals and that is what I want from RPG books. I don't enjoy reading RPG books. Not in the 80s and not now. I like to play RPGs so the books should be written to give me their info in the fastest and most efficient manner.
 

pemerton

Legend
the DM needs to prepare an adventure (or use a premade one, meaning yet more expense and reading).
every RPG in existence requires this.
Actually, there are plenty of RPGs that don't. (They typically (1) make choices about conflict, theme etc part of PC building, and (2) provide the GM with the mechanical resources to set challenges on the fly.)

YES! With rare exceptions, a 4e book is more like an instruction manual than a tome of eldritch lore- which is exactly wrong..
That was one of the things I liked about 4e. The books are great reference manuals and that is what I want from RPG books. I don't enjoy reading RPG books. Not in the 80s and not now. I like to play RPGs so the books should be written to give me their info in the fastest and most efficient manner.
I do enjoy reading RPG books and on the whole I like the 4e books, except when they veer into too much flavour text (which tends to be overwrought and florid).

I like reading the 4e books because I pretty quickly get a sense of how things might play. And that is what I read RPG books for - a sense of how things will play.

I don't want them to read like tomes of eldritch lore. That style (there are certainly elements of it in Gygax's DMG, though not so much in his PHB) tend to make it harder to get a sense of how things will actually play.
 

delericho

Legend
The point you originally made was that 300 page book scares people off.

Yes. And I'm absolutely convinced that that's true.

Now you are changing that point ans so I'll accept that you meant what you are NOW saying instead of "I showed them a 300 page book and want of a game died."

We're talking about a bunch of mid-teen boys, with a set of interests that matched up pretty much exactly with what you'd expect in potential new players. They were enthusiastic about getting into the game. And the moment they saw those rulebooks we had a problem.

It appears that we've reached a point where, when introducing the game to new players, and for best results, you should hide the rulebooks. Which is absurd.

(1) I think you are probably right that 3e required, or at least benefitted from an experienced player at the helm. 3e was a big system to get into but that level of depth and difficulty to get into is neither unique to 3e, worst in 3e, nor applicable in a discussion about "300 pages = bad" or about 5e in general.

No, indeed. It was true of 1st Edition, 2nd, 3e, 4e... Oh, and Pathfinder, of course.

Which is fine, when adding new players to an existing group. It's not so good when putting together a new group, and it's also problematic when our new player, having played a couple of sessions then wants to dig into what the rules really say, and is presented with a large, and unapproachable, tome.

(2) The price of the books is major concern for ALL players, not new ones or inexperienced ones.

The difference is that, as an experienced player, I already know I enjoy fantasy RPGs, so it's considerably less of a risk. A newbie has no such assurances.

Those inexperienced people will want to buy them less (have less reason to drop so much money to start) but I think that is MORE of a reason to have everything in a single book when possible. If the DM suggests you might need the PHB to play the game, then getting the PHB or not can be the decision. But (and this assumes same amount of pages and cost over all) if the DM says you need the PHB, RPH, the GMR, CPT, FMA, and so on in order to play the game - that is a significant MORE of an investment for new players than one book, even if they have the same number of pages over all. Some people will benefit from this piecemeal approach but I don't think it helps over all.

There's a better way:

Firstly, present a single, short book that contains everything you need to play. So, it has all the key rules, it has four playable races and four playable classes. (And, frankly, you should be able to do that in 100 pages. Add a basic primer on DMing and a basic set of monsters, and you should still be able to fit it all in 256 pages.) Ask them to buy and read that.

Then, for people who want more, provide more options, but present those in both discrete and self-complete modules. So, if they really like playing their Fighter, they pick up the "Fighter's Handbook" that contains as many optional extras for Fighters as the designers can fit. And so, even for the player who really wants it, there's still only two books to buy. But all they need is that one Core Rulebook.

But even better than that is the model allowed by the DDI - everyone buys that single Core Rulebook, and then they're encouraged to take out a subscription to the giant database of extra material, from which they can use as much, or as little as they want. But all they need is that one Core Rulebook.

And don't tell me it can't be done, because I'll point you to B/X D&D. Hell, even the "Rules Cyclopedia" isn't much larger than I've suggested, and that contains way more than is needed.

(4) We are talking of 3e here? 30 minutes to create a character? Wow. I'm impressed. I know vets who take hours every time. I don't see what that has to do with the length of the book through, more the rules of the system - which I do happen to agree is a problem.

I was looking for a minimum estimate. Frankly, 30 minutes for a new player is already too long - and expecting them to use a pre-gen isn't much better.

(5) Every edition of Dnd, no scratch that, every RPG in existence requires this. And?

And it all adds up. If that's the minimum investment before you get to start having fun, then it's a problem.

Right, except for the fact that people know this going in. You expect a different system than WoW. One with more complexity and diversity than WoW. If you think 300 pages in a book means that people should be playing WoW instead then I think you kind of miss the point.

No, actually I think you've missed my point, although perhaps it was buried in the wall of text in my previous post.

My point is not that people should prefer WoW, it's that, faced with that 300-page rulebook, very many of them will prefer WoW. Because it requires a fraction of the investment, and it provides an experience that is "good enough" on all metrics and actually better on some (notably the GUI).

Now, I agree that there is an entry barrier to joining this particular hobby. Absolutely, 100%. But there is similar barriers to joining wargames (Warhammer for example) where you have to buy the minis, paint them, understand the rules and tactics enough to win.

Indeed. Which is why Games Workshop's sales strategy is to get people in, get them to very quickly invest in several thousand dollars of miniatures, and then quietly forget about them. Because they know that the vast majority of potential gamers will quickly lose interest, and will never get all those minis painted, and will never read the rules. So they're not interested in them as gamers, they're interested in them as customers.

Or when playing WoW if you want to become one of the best in the game it takes hours, days of grinding in swamps and collecting quests that no one is reading. No game is without a entry barrier to get up to grade.

Yes, but I'm not talking about the barrier to "get up to grade". I'm talking about the barriers before you get to start having fun.

Again, I think you were mostly talking about 3e here. I got into 3e it cost me (after discount) about 20 bucks (but otherwise would have been 35-40 I think) and was a 300 (ish) page book.

The 3e Core Rulebooks cost $20 each in their first printing, rising to $30 with the third printing. So, that's $90 for the three. Between them, they have a page count in excess of 700 pages.

The 3.5e Core Rulebooks cost either $30 or $35 each, and each had a page count of 320 pages. So that's $90 or $105 for the three, and 960 pages.

The 4e Core Rulebooks cost $35 each, or $104.95 for the set of three. They had a page count of 832 pages between them.

Pathfinder has two required books, the Core Rulebook at $50 and 576 pages, and the Bestiary at $40 and 320 pages.

In all cases, that's close to $100 for the required books, and close to 1,000 pages of reading. It is, of course, possible to get deals and discounts to reduce the costs. But since I'm much more concerned about the required reading...

I agree. With the need of a really good starter set. And a good migration plan. And with WotC being bad at their jobs at creating a really good starter set in order to do this. It doesn't change that a really good starter set would be a MASSIVELY great idea however.

On that we agree. Given past performance, though, it may be worth having a backup plan in case we don't get one.

Now with that said, basic DnD was a hit. But everyone talks about Advanced DnD, right? You and me aren't inexperienced players. So the 300 page book isn't scaring YOU off, is it?

Scare? No. But the thought of having to wade through another 1,000 pages in order to play yet another minor variation of "pretend to be an elf" is not an attractive prospect. Especially since those 1,000 pages strongly suggest we're going to get another massively rule- and option-heavy game, and my tastes now run to something much lighter and faster. Basically, I want D&D Saga Edition.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
Scare? No. But the thought of having to wade through another 1,000 pages in order to play yet another minor variation of "pretend to be an elf" is not an attractive prospect. Especially since those 1,000 pages strongly suggest we're going to get another massively rule- and option-heavy game, and my tastes now run to something much lighter and faster. Basically, I want D&D Saga Edition.

Ditto. One thing the OSR has taught me is that creativity is being exchanged for oodles of rules for every little thing. Good on people that are ale to enjoy a game with so much crunch you need a chainsaw to cut through it, but that ain't me.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Ditto. One thing the OSR has taught me is that creativity is being exchanged for oodles of rules for every little thing. Good on people that are ale to enjoy a game with so much crunch you need a chainsaw to cut through it, but that ain't me.

Yup went back to OSR games last year after 12 years of 3.x. Enjoying ACKs a lot.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Which says more about 3e than anything else, really.

Very flexible? Easily expandable? Infinitely customizable? Easy to publish supplements for?

Would those who just use the Core in PF or the PhB+DMG in 3e on average be less likely to be on-line looking for new things on messageboards too?
 

Agamon

Adventurer
Very flexible? Easily expandable? Infinitely customizable? Easy to publish supplements for?


I find my ACKS game to be much more flexible and customizable than any 3e game I ran, as there are fewer rules to follow in it's smaller book. Your mileage may vary, of course.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I find my ACKS game to be much more flexible and customizable than any 3e game I ran, as there are fewer rules to follow in it's smaller book.

I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for the lead!

Part of my point about the other books is that a lot of them is other people's already having customized classes, spells, and the like. If you just use your own notes on customized stuff then you wouldn't need the other books in 3e either. (Granted the stripped down rules would still be a bit heftier).
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top