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Brand new DM to 5E and many concerns...

  • Thread starter WhosDaDungeonMaster
  • Start date
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
I added some significant house rules before playing 5e. (It was some changes to spell casting, not weapon combat.) Even though they did not cause the game to crash and burn, they were definitely a mistake - they were quite unnecessary and resulted in some minor but still annoying problems.
I am glad you brought this up. I was talking to one of my players yesterday about rules and such, and tossing around different ideas. It got me thinking: I wonder how many people use or have used house rules, what are theirs, and how did they turn out. I might start a new thread about it.
 

eamon

Villager
A major part of the issue for me is that I'm playing a high magic campaign but even with houserules to avoid item stacking and similar bonuses on monsters+NPC it's clear that even a very few +1s can significantly impact bounded accuracy. But even using DMG tables +1/+2 shields aren't unheard of, and that makes a *huge* difference to likely already high-AC character.
Why play a high magic campaign if you don't want the effects of high magic?

Magic items in 5e are designed to actually be special. They make things easier by design.
This campaign appreciates the flavor of the high-magic, but not necessarily the balance.

Also, note that the magic items in the DMG are at least sort of balanced if you hand them out with the frequency they're in the DMG - you're simply very, very unlikely to be able to stack multiple AC bonuses because you won't find that many. So it doesn't matter that there aren't any stacking rules - they wouldn't have an impact anyhow!

But if you have a many more items, then it's quite easy to collect multiple items to pimp that AC: a +1 armor here, a +2 shield here, a cloak of protection; perhaps even a ring of protection too - and all those items aren't super legendary or anything, but taken together they're +5 to AC - and you haven't even maxed your attunement slots yet! That means you can easily get an AC of 24-25 in light or heavy armor, and at that point hits are so rare that anything that can occasionally boost your AC (availability of shield, that feat that lets you raise your AC vs. one attack, etc.), not to mention longer-term effects like shield of faith, and fighting style protection can mean that a PC is not going to be hit, *ever* except for crits.

I just don't think magic items were balanced for ample supply. They work fine as written - i.e. allocated at random or by DM fiat, and with few available. If you go beyond that, you may run into issues.

And that experience lead me to my original point: that bounded accuracy is just *barely* bounded in 5e, and that if you wiggle a little here and there and aren't careful, you can easily make things very unbalanced.
 

Sabathius42

Villager
Oh, I am sure this is why I feel so wrong with a lot of the stuff I am reading!

What can I say, it bothers me that a Fighter with Dex 16 has the same chance of hitting as a Wizard with Dex 16 if they both use Finesse weapons. So, my Fighter, who has spent years training in weapons and armor and everything related to combat, is basically just as likely to hit as your Wizard who has spent most of his years studying spells and reading, etc. How does that make ANY sense???
What your character "spent years studying" is determined by your background choice, not your class. If you want a wizard who can use some weapons your you could pick Soldier as your background and have a wizard who also trained how to use a spear or whatever. A first level character hasn't "spent years training" at anything related to their class unless you decide that is how it works for your campaign.

DS
 

happyhermit

Explorer
I am glad you brought this up. I was talking to one of my players yesterday about rules and such, and tossing around different ideas. It got me thinking: I wonder how many people use or have used house rules, what are theirs, and how did they turn out. I might start a new thread about it.
When this has come up in the past there seemed to be a lot of people house-ruling to one degree or another, in fact my impression was that the 5e community is about as accepting of houserules as any edition overall. I think I have seen more pushback to your proposed rules in this thread and another than I have noticed elsewhere in months combined, and I felt it myself. It probably has to do with the way it was presented mostly, but perhaps there are more people than I thought who are going away from houseruling, dunno.

I play some games pretty much by the book and it works just fine, but I do find myself using 5e for a variety of stuff and sometimes houserule along with using optional rules provided, to achieve some particular things. There are a few things I often do, like not have advantage/disadvantage always cancel each other out, and there are a lot of optional things I make frequent use of like alternative rest lengths, but not all that many formal rule changes at all (a LOT less than previous editions).
 

ModernApathy

Explorer
There are a few things I often do, like not have advantage/disadvantage always cancel each other out, (a LOT less than previous editions).
Just curious how that would work if advantage/disadvantage not cancelling each other out? Roll 3d20 and take the middle roll?
Or is it more a situation where you would rule that the disadvantage for example is a minor thing (under given circumstances) that doesn't stop someone having advantage?
 

happyhermit

Explorer
Just curious how that would work if advantage/disadvantage not cancelling each other out? Roll 3d20 and take the middle roll?
Or is it more a situation where you would rule that the disadvantage for example is a minor thing (under given circumstances) that doesn't stop someone having advantage?
Yeah, it's pretty minor, but sometimes rather than the RAW; 1 source of advantage cancels out multiple sources of disadvantage (or vice versa) we play where it doesn't. It could slow play down with certain players and doesn't come up too much but there are occasions it "makes more sense". Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages :blush:
 

Uchawi

Villager
I am not going to get into the debate on whether the system suits you, or your groups style of play, but when learning any new system I can offer a couple tidbits.

1. Start of with simple and necessarily weak encounters and build up. That is really the only way you are going to gauge encounter difficulty
2. Advance the characters slowly, so you understand the strength and weaknesses of each class or build
3. Mix up combat with non-combat to determine how skills/spells/martial interact
4. Enjoy the game, because mechanics will never replace an interesting story
 
When it comes to the oddity of fighters and wizards having the same class based attack bonus to proficient weapons...

It's one of those things that initially sounds weird and undesirable, but eventually you forget all about that because of how well it works in practice.

A similar mechanical change was when 3e came out with its simplified cyclical initiative. Despite the decrease in workload it provided, it seemed unrealistic and wrong. But then after actually running it the gains just more than made up for the losses, and going back to 20th century style initiative where you have a declaration phase and then a resolution phase, with all the problems that causes, just seems completely undesirable. (Most other games that had a declaration phase followed D&D in dropping it afterwards, because the benefits were clear.)

One thing that helps conceptually is to remember that the 5e rules specify that your ability scores represent not only raw capability, but training in using things relevant to it. So when your fighter is (presumably) increasing his Strength score, he's actually training to be more accurate with his weapons, while the wizard isn't.

Along with that, one can make a paradigm adjustment that training isn't primarily about making an attack more accurate. Most of the time when someone tries to hit someone they don't whiff and get nothing but air. Or if they do, training doesn't make as big of a deal to it as natural agility does. (See previous paragraph for the minor benefit from focused training.) Rather, training helps you do things like attack faster (fighter's unmatched Extra Attacks) or more effectively (more damage from things like Fighting Styles and Improved Critical), or pull off other neat tricks (Battle Master maneuvers). It's as good of a fantasy way of looking at it as saying that training primarily increases accuracy.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Fighters definitely don't suck in 5e. I've run and played several fighters and haven't found them to be weak. One of the key things to remember about 5e fighters is that they are a short rest based class. So if a DM isn't letting the party take short rests they'll lag behind, but a well rested fighter can bring a lot of pain. And the problem with bounded accuracy effects all classes, not just fighters and fighter's have the easiest path to a high AC. It also applies to enemies, so a high level fighter is going to hit often and hard, so while you may be taking damage, the enemies will be as well.

I also haven't found burning hands to be to overpowered. First, it requires the caster to be fairly close to the enemies and second, Dex is one of the more common saves in the game, so full damage is not a guarantee. Usually, a cantrip like Firebolt is the more cost effective and reliable option.

As for enemies, I just adjust on the fly if they're carving through PC's to fast or lasting to long. CR is a tricky business at the best of times. But, the bring up my earlier point, bounded accuracy makes hitting a lot easier. So that ogre might have 59 hp but it only has an AC of 11. A level 3 fighter with decent stats (we'll say strength of 16) has a +5 to hit and will hit more then half the time.
This. As someone who finds fighters to be thematically and conceptually a completely boring and replaceable class that could entirely exist in other classes to the benefit of the game, the 5e fighter is really good.

Feats are genuinely interesting in 5e, and the fighter has 3 ASI/Feat options by level 8. They also have Second WInd and Action Surge, which are great, and a Fighting Style at level 1. And every single one of their Subclasses is both mechanicaly and thematically good. (champions are boring and slightly underpowered, but you won't notice the power issue in most normal games, and some people like to spice their fighter at the table, as it were)
 

Mepher

Explorer
It's like some old-school DMs just can't handle the idea of low-level wizards actually doing any appreciable damage until they've reached a level where they have enough spell slots to pretty much cast real spells every round in every combat. To them, if a wizard is out of slots, they should just be doing like at maximum 1d4 damage a round, whether that be from cantrips or a using sling. ;)
This was me initially. I have DM'd for 30 years starting with BX and up through 2E. 2E was definitely my bread and butter. A few years ago one of the players in my group decided to DM a Tuesday evening 5E game. I really had no interest but after hearing a couple players raving about it I decided to show up and play a session with them. They were running LMOP and were in Thundertree, getting ready to fight Venomfang (the Green Dragon). Of course my first reaction was to laugh that these 3rd or 4th level characters were going to fight a dragon. Anyways, I spent half the session flipping back and forth through the books trying to make a character, hating the layout of the books while they pushed on in their adventure. Finally I got enough made to at least be playable and I joined the session in time to fight Venomfang. The entire fight was a joke with the party just slaughtering this dragon and taking little damage. The DM in a panic ended up having Venomfang fly off to escape rather than let us kill him so easily. In the end I walked away hating 5e. I thought it was a joke and I pressed on with my 2E games. All the while I was still reading forums here and consuming all the 5E stuff I could to see what I was missing that others seemed to love so much.

My biggest realization was that all these "extra" abilities and hit points that the player's have are needed to offset the new creature abilities and hit points. That DM whose session I played in had no idea how to play that Dragon. Last year I finally decided to go all in and switch to 5E with my group and had all kinds of plans for house rules. I found most of my concerns unwarranted after seeing the mechanics in actual play and haven't implemented any so far. I ended up running my group through LMOP and we had a great time. There were multiple deaths through the adventure (dispelling my myth that 5e players were invincible) including 3 of 5 players dying to the encounter with Venomfang. When he used range (the top of the tower), coupled with Poison Breath it forced the players to move up the tower at him or flee. It ended up being 2 players that rushed up the tower being kill to his 3 attacks per round + breath, and one caster below dying to that same poison breath. All told though when Venomfang finally dropped the party cheered. It was a pretty epic fight at their level and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

I make it a point to play the creatures to their abilities. It's easy as an old school DM to overlook those abilities but you are doing yourself, and your player a disservice. Zombies standing back up after they die, Wolves using pack tactics to attack with advantage, or lowly Goblins ambushing from range with their short bows and then hiding as a bonus action. Trust me, if you play their abilities then your players will be happy they have the extra hit points or can hit a little easier.

If you are finding your wizard in the party attacking with his finesse dagger rather then throwing Acid Splash, Firebolt, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost, or even tossing a Light cantrip, using a mage hand to manipulate something during the battle, sending a message to another player across the battlefield about something going on....then your Wizard needs to just pick another character more to his abilities. Everything I just mentioned here is a cantrip and can be done each round. It gives them a lot more flexibility and I would stop worrying the Wizard's ability to hit, it's kinda a non-issue and honestly should only really come into play when they are casting an attack spell. I am sure if that is the case the players will be happy that the wizard can hit when he is saving their lives.

I really did hate 5E in the beginning and now I love it. I am the stereotypical grognard. I thought that only the cleric should be healing, the wizard should have 1 or two spells, the rogue should be the only one finding traps. I hated the rogue sneak attacking every round because to me I equated it to backstab. Now I have realized that it's just their attack, no different than the Ranger using his Hunters Mark, or the Warlock using his hex. Once you get past that sticking point you realize why the players have more hit points, the monsters have more hit points, and they all have special abilities. While 2E was my love for decades, now I look back at some typical combats and think about the Fighter (I swing), the Cleric (I swing or heal), the Wizard (Im out of spells so I throw a dart), the Rogue (I spend 3 rounds trying to sneak, hide, and get in position to backstab), etc...you get the point. Now combat is much more exciting with everyone having meaningful contributions to the fight.

So I guess I took the long way around to tell you the same as the others, give it a try as is and see how it actually plays out for you. I would skip all of the house rules to start and see what works and doesn't. You might find through actual play that much of the rules work just fine.
 
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dave2008

Explorer
..., but perhaps there are more people than I thought who are going away from houseruling, dunno.
I don't think that is the issue. Most of the advice has been in the nature of: "play it first. and then see if you need to make adjustments." Which is sound advice for anyone looking to house rule.

I think 5e is one of the easier editions to homebrew / houserule actually, and openly encourages it. Heck, just by including rules options and variants they are letting you know there is not one true way to play and that the system is open to modification. Additionally, the developers themselves have talked about house rules they use.

I think the reaction to his proposal is from people who have played the game for a long time and see the issues with some of his proposed changes. They don't have an issue with changes, but with their experience they see that his proposed changes are generally not a good idea.
 
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
So I guess I took the long way around to tell you the same as the others, give it a try as is and see how it actually plays out for you. I would skip all of the house rules to start and see what works and doesn't. You might find through actual play that much of the rules work just fine.
Definitely nothing wrong with the long way. :)

We've played a few times now and hopefully will again Wednesday. As we've gone along, I've asked my players about different ideas and so on. Other than a lengthy explanation about hit points and attacking, it hasn't been too bad. We have a couple minor ideas about things but will play longer before we worry about implementing changes.

For the most part, like all the prior editions of D&D, if you play RAW it plays fine. Some of it you might question the rule, but it works either way.

I think the reaction to his proposal is from people who have played the game for a long time and see the issues with some of his proposed changes. They don't have an issue with changes, but with their experience they see that his proposed changes are generally not a good idea.
You got it, Dave. That was really part of the point. I see potential ways to improve the game to my style of play, and not having played it question how unbalancing the changes might be. Of course, as I stated from the beginning, it has always been my intent to play it for a while first, but I like having my houserules doc for review eventually to see what houserules we might try.
 

dave2008

Explorer
Of course, as I stated from the beginning, it has always been my intent to play it for a while first, but I like having my houserules doc for review eventually to see what houserules we might try.
I always seem to bring along my house rules too. I have these in 5e than I did in 1e or 4e, but I still have some.
 
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
It is funny, but some of the rules we're coming up with are more about mechanics than balance.

For example, when the players were trying to run down a fleeing orc, all they could do was keep pace because the orc moved 60, they moved 60. Now, considering one of the party is a Drow with Dex 18, you'd think she could run it down easily. And I have yet to find a game mechanic for running other than taking a Dash action, which really is only an extra move.

Could be I'm still missing something as we are learning the rules, but so far... nada.
 

dave2008

Explorer
It is funny, but some of the rules we're coming up with are more about mechanics than balance.

For example, when the players were trying to run down a fleeing orc, all they could do was keep pace because the orc moved 60, they moved 60. Now, considering one of the party is a Drow with Dex 18, you'd think she could run it down easily. And I have yet to find a game mechanic for running other than taking a Dash action, which really is only an extra move.

Could be I'm still missing something as we are learning the rules, but so far... nada.
I've never used them, but there are chase rules in the DMG (PG 252-255 I believe). And thread about how to use them on these forums: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?470894-How-the-heck-do-you-use-the-Chase-rules-in-the-DMG

There are also lots of variants and houserules available on line. I feel like there was even an official variant, but I can't seem to find it now.
 

Satyrn

Villager
It is funny, but some of the rules we're coming up with are more about mechanics than balance.

For example, when the players were trying to run down a fleeing orc, all they could do was keep pace because the orc moved 60, they moved 60. Now, considering one of the party is a Drow with Dex 18, you'd think she could run it down easily. And I have yet to find a game mechanic for running other than taking a Dash action, which really is only an extra move.

Could be I'm still missing something as we are learning the rules, but so far... nada.
Just wait till your party tries sneaking around! :.-(
 
The chase rules are critical, and keep in mind, very few chases involve a long, straight, paved road. Generally the chasers and the chased will have to leap over objects, climb a ridge, duck around trees, etc. Ability checks - Athletics, Acrobatics, etc should come into play. And this is where the PC's will make it or break it. Unless one of them is a monk. In that case the chased NPC (or character) is pretty hosed.

Tiger
 

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