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D&D 5E Changes in Interpretation

Hussar

Legend
Something I've noticed for some time now, is a very, very strong sense that people are no longer willing to apply any sort of personal interpretation to the rules. That if something is written in the game in a certain way, that way must absolutely be followed, must never be deviated from and must never be given a moment's introspection on how to make it work

Is this what people took from 3e? I know that the 3e discussions frequently focused on RAW, but, even then, there was usually a sense of "Well, here's what the RAW says, but..." That sense seems to have entirely disappeared whenever someone criticizes the way an edition did something.

I'm looking at the various criticisms of 5e, and particularly any 5e elements that smack of 4e, and I see it over and over again. But, it's also very visible in 3e criticisms as well. Yes, something like CR was wonky in 3e, but, it wasn't impossible to use. It took some work, but it certainly was possible to make it work. In fact, I spent some time collecting http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/200150-factors-affecting-cr-el.html . So, it's not like it can't be done.

But, why are people so steadfastly insisting that one and only one interpretation must be the only interpretation and rejecting any other interpretation that could work? Is it simply stealth edition warring? X comes from Edition Y and thus must never be seen again?

What happened to creativity and flexibility? What happened to looking at something and pointing out flaws AND offering constructive criticism?

I have to admit, I'm rather baffled.
 

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Ahnehnois

First Post
I think some of it's inherent to any new edition discussion. People have doubtless papered over the flaws of their own edition of choice with houserules and interpretations, but have not had the chance to do with 5e yet. Thus, 5e looks worse by comparison.

I also think it's yet another product of lingering bad feelings over the tone of the 4e launch. WotC was so offensive, both in the product they put out and the way they promoted it, that many former fans have become defensive. Thus, anything they put out now is subject to heightened levels of scrutiny, purely because of the bad blood between the company and its fanbase.

(Personally, I try to keep in mind the flaws of the RAW of my edition(s) of choice and try to keep the WotC-bashing to a strong but fair level and to offer constructive criticism at least once per thread).

Some of it is substance, though. "Creativity and flexibility" are in direct conflict with "balance", and WotC has drifted more and more away from the former and towards the latter.
 

slobster

Hero
Some of it is substance, though. "Creativity and flexibility" are in direct conflict with "balance", and WotC has drifted more and more away from the former and towards the latter.

Direct conflict seems a bit strong. I think they are both necessary parts of the same team, that have an unfortunate tendency to step on each others' toes. You'd still like to have them both in your game, though. And some people will value one more than the other.

In response to the OP, I think that you get a stronger sense of this rigidity in rules interpretations if your entire reference pool is people talking about the game on the internet. In practice, most groups find ways to make it work. But here on the net, we get caught up in trying to explain our views and convince others to share them. As a result minor slights in real play end up getting all the attention, and become amplified by their constant repetition online to appear more important and polarizing than they probably actually are.

Just my opinion, of course.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
In response to the OP, I think that you get a stronger sense of this rigidity in rules interpretations if your entire reference pool is people talking about the game on the internet. In practice, most groups find ways to make it work. But here on the net, we get caught up in trying to explain our views and convince others to share them. As a result minor slights in real play end up getting all the attention, and become amplified by their constant repetition online to appear more important and polarizing than they probably actually are.
A fair point, and generally true of most online discourse.
 

I also think it's yet another product of lingering bad feelings over the tone of the 4e launch. WotC was so offensive, both in the product they put out and the way they promoted it, that many former fans have become defensive.

Something to that. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call 4e itself 'offensive', but the promotion of it was certainly off-putting.

At times, it almost came across as, "The game you've been playing all this time - and which we've been selling to you - is now suddenly bad! How can you possibly go on with it, when we now have something so superior to sell you?"

They have changed their tone immensely for 5e, and the change is welcome. But I think they themselves helped stoke the fires of the edition wars, and those fires are still blazing.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
I will say that for me it's not enough that 5e simply allows my play preferences. I want them to be acknowledged and supported in the text.

Not because I need validation. Because...why not? Why should my playstyle have to be the ghetto one that you can pull off with the rules, but only if you already know what you're doing. Or if you ignore the DMG and ask around for help online. I can imagine a DMG that elucidated and supported a variety of different playstyles. It's a tall order, but I can see it, so I want it.

My bugaboo is the 4e style encounter balancing procedure. It's not good enough for me to just present it in the text, as if it's a regular rule that should be followed, without any critical discussion. It would be easy to include it in the game in a way that didn't make me feel like they were trying to push it too hard as the default.

Mike Mearls has said in the past that the purpose of encounter balancing rules is to take power away from the DM. So yes I am specifically looking to see whether in 5e they are presented like this, or if they're actually presented as an optional tool for the DM.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
Something to that. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call 4e itself 'offensive', but the promotion of it was certainly off-putting.
To be fair, I'm not specifying the mechanics themselves (though that is part of it). There was a lot of "fluff" in the very late 3e products (RC especially) and the 4e preview books that was rather derisive. The notion of selling us 4e preview books was itself kind of insulting to our intelligence. There's also been ongoing issues with the more basic aspects of product quality: how nice the books are, the visual style, the strength of editing, and, most importantly, how much content you get for your money. All of these aspects of product quality were going downhill through the 3.5 life cycle, and continued to do so, with the 4e release constituting a sharp decline. Some of this is inflation, some of it is WotC's internal troubles as a business, but a lot of it isn't. In any case, it sure makes people unhappy.

And when people are unhappy, they complain.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
Mike Mearls has said in the past that the purpose of encounter balancing rules is to take power away from the DM. So yes I am specifically looking to see whether in 5e they are presented like this, or if they're actually presented as an optional tool for the DM.

Really, I'd like to see that "quote" in context. Because that seems to be the farthest away from my experience with encounter balancing guidelines.
 

Hussar

Legend
Just a point about production values. I gotta say, I do not see the 4e books as having lower production values than any other D&D books. The editing has been, for an RPG product, absolutely stellar. Yeah, sure, you got the errata pdf's. True. But, if you actually compare, there is surprisingly little in the way of actual editing errors in the 4e books. Some, sure, but, very, very few.

Heck, compare a first printing 3e PHB to a second printing 3e PHB if you want to see some extremely bad editing. Or go back to 2e books. Yikes.

Most of the errata for 4e has either been in the form of clarifications, rather than outright mistakes.

And the books have been pretty darn pretty as well. Other than the ink thing, which was a criticism that seemed to go away pretty quick, and the wavy pages thing (which WOTC had no control over), the actual physical books are pretty darn high quality.

You can knock WOTC for a lot of things, but, production values isn't one of them.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Another reason why some people are reading rules for rules and interpreting less is because many of the people reading the playtest material are experienced DMs and roleplayers. They realize that they can play any game that WoTC (or any company) can put out and make it fun by interpreting or making the game their own. They are most likely interpreting less in an attempt to see the game as a new DM or player would.

Also, video games have made some gamers lazy. The push button, or twitch requried for MMOs, and the automatic response (no interpretation) can become mind numbing. I'm no exception. I found that after playing a lot of Everquest, D&DONline, or other games, my creative mind started to go to sleep. I'm not playing those games any more. (I sound like public service announcement. lol).
 

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