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D&D 5E Critiquing the System

Einlanzer0

Explorer
5th edition does a lot of things right. Curious to hear what peoples' biggest issues are with it.

1. HP scaling is an issue as I think you start with too few and end up with too many. The should have normalized starting HP and per level growth a bit better.

2. Subclasses are great, but I think there's been an over-reliance on them as expansions to character options, and I'm a bit disappointed there are no "multiclassing" rules around them.

3. In general, they have been a bit too conservative. As an example, the D&D cleric is really overdue for an overhaul so it can properly be broad enough to incorporate a wide range of priestly archetypes the way the other 3 core classes can within their archetypal domains. This is part of the reason why people question the existence of classes like Paladin and Ranger.

3. Inspiration is an interesting idea that is very wonky in its execution. I've gone through several different iterations of it to try to make it work better and have a more significant and consistent place at the table.

4. The ability scores are still not balanced well, and don't offer enough to PCs outside of what they do for your class. All ability scores should have significant class-agnostic secondary benefits the way Con does. There's too much of a "stock build" issue for each class as it is, leading to too little diversity between characters and making character building feel shallower than it needs to.
 
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aco175

Legend
I do not have a problem with HP. The first couple levels go fast and it gives you some time to feel out your character.

Subclasses are a bit more of a problem. I liked the way 3e allowed for multiclassing to get your PC right. 5e feels forced in some way. I have to take a subclass, even if there is a basic or plain one. I can see that having all these choices allows for newer players to play easier and not have to plan or think as much.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Well, for me 5E didn't do a lot of things right. They did a few things right that add an interesting twist/ mechanic, that I would love to port over into my prior 1e/2e games and might in the future.

I never played 4E, but as I understand it was very rules heavy, the desire to go the other direction into a rules light version is understandable, but they went way too far. There are so many rules and subsystems missing that our group is just about fed up with it. Nearly every session we run into situations where the rules simply aren't there or don't support what we're trying to do--so we have to come up with rules constantly on how to implement stuff. Yeah, I know, it's by design but it sucks. I am nearly at the point of compiling a "rules supplement" book for 5E to bring in a standard ruleset for all the stuff they decided not to cover.

I think there are too many HP. Everything takes forever to kill. PCs rarely die after 3rd-5th levels unless you use creatures which I would consider too strong normally. But that is a matter of taste I suppose.

Subclasses are nice for flavor, but unbalanced and a lot of them are lackluster.

Anyway, I could go on but the more I think about the more pointless it is. What does it matter what the biggest issues are? They aren't going to change it or reverse the design to more fit earlier editions. I don't blame them since if people prefer earlier editions they are already there to be played.

I suppose this is simply for the OP's curiosity?

FWIW, our Inspiration system is very simple. When you level, you gain Inspiration points equal to your new level. You can use them for a roll you make on a d20 (attack, ability, save) to reroll it, accepting the new result. You can only use one per round.
 

GreyLord

Hero
I always point it out, so this is obviously my biggest pet peeve...though beyond it...there's not much.

Why are Fighters so limited in their ability to hit? It's their specialty and yet they do not get to progress faster in it than any other class in regards to proficiency.

All other non-martial classes have ways to exceed the proficiency bonus in massive ways, with the Thieves and Bards getting expertise that DOUBLES their skill proficiency, spellcasters such as Wizards and Clerics also getting ways with their spells to increase their proficiency at times (for example Bless, depending at what level can double or TRIPLE a characters bonuses).

The Fighter...they get one choice that only works part time (Battlemaster, can increase their hit with a die roll, but only four times between rests...), but other than that...nothing.

They should increase the Fighter (and all martials) proficiency bonus with weapons, or if that is too much, do what someone else suggested in other threads, have them be able to choose a weapon that they have proficiency and double their proficiency bonus when using that weapon.

Other classes get the goodies and at times, because of that can actually hit or do things FAR better than the Fighter at times...balance it out and give the Fighter the same goodies you give everyone else.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yeah, the inspiration system isn't good IMO. I like the idea, generally speaking, quite a lot, but the implementation is clunky. It's not hard to clear out some of the record keeping and play it more like a straight reward for good roleplaying though, so I don't spend a lot of time kvetching about it.

I share some of the disappointment in how ability scores work. I don't love the 1-1 ability score to skill set up, and I don't love that some of the abilities are very much second tier unless they are a class skill. I think this impacts the ability of 5e to be a more successful game in how it deals with 2nd and 3rd pillar play. Social interaction especially gets short shrift IMO. I usually de-couple skills from abilities to some extent, and have some additional SIP widgets hacked into my rules to make that part of the game more interesting. I do find that games where exploration and SI are given more priority tend to be games where the ability scores balance out a little too, especially INT and WIS as useful outside of class abilities.
 

Aebir-Toril

100100101010
Well, for me 5E didn't do a lot of things right. They did a few things right that add an interesting twist/ mechanic, that I would love to port over into my prior 1e/2e games and might in the future.

I never played 4E, but as I understand it was very rules heavy, the desire to go the other direction into a rules light version is understandable, but they went way too far. There are so many rules and subsystems missing that our group is just about fed up with it. Nearly every session we run into situations where the rules simply aren't there or don't support what we're trying to do--so we have to come up with rules constantly on how to implement stuff. Yeah, I know, it's by design but it sucks. I am nearly at the point of compiling a "rules supplement" book for 5E to bring in a standard ruleset for all the stuff they decided not to cover.

I think there are too many HP. Everything takes forever to kill. PCs rarely die after 3rd-5th levels unless you use creatures which I would consider too strong normally. But that is a matter of taste I suppose.

Subclasses are nice for flavor, but unbalanced and a lot of them are lackluster.

Anyway, I could go on but the more I think about the more pointless it is. What does it matter what the biggest issues are? They aren't going to change it or reverse the design to more fit earlier editions. I don't blame them since if people prefer earlier editions they are already there to be played.

I suppose this is simply for the OP's curiosity?

FWIW, our Inspiration system is very simple. When you level, you gain Inspiration points equal to your new level. You can use them for a roll you make on a d20 (attack, ability, save) to reroll it, accepting the new result. You can only use one per round.
I can attest to the issue of explosively large HP totals. It took an 11th-level Legendary monster with the advantage of being in an area of magical darkness which it could see through to drop one party member to 0 for any substantial amount of time. Also, I am the type of DM who uses tactics, so that's not the issue. Once that PC dropped to 0, they quickly died, but the party was still able (they're only 6-7th level, mind you) defeat the 11th-level Legendary monster, a custom Hierophant of Annihilation.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
5th edition does a lot of things right. Curious to hear what peoples' biggest issues are with it.

1. Using 3e's HP base/growth. Starting with 8-12 HP at 1st level is inadequate, and they should have done something more similar to 4th than to 3rd. It's so bad that even WotC has said "start at 3rd level" to circumvent the problem, which is extremely problematic. Easy fix, though - give all characters bonus HP equal to their class's per level gain (3,4,5, or 6). But it's a shame this has to be houseruled.

I play it straight and have no issues. Commonly in my games players go from 1st to 3rd level in the first session using standard XP rewards. Sometimes 4th level when they adventure with higher-level PCs.

2. Subclasses are great, but they kept too many concepts intact from previous editions at a time where it would have been really prudent to make some pragmatic adjustments. There's inconsistency in design scope between classes and subclasses. As an example, the D&D cleric is really overdue to be overhauled to make it thematically broader so it can hold a lot more divine/priestly archetypes. This is part of the reason why people question the existence of classes like Paladin and Ranger.

I'm not really sure what any of this means. They seem to work fine to me.

3. Inspiration is an interesting idea that is very wonky in its execution. I've gone through several different iterations of it to try to make it work better and have a more significant and consistent place at the table.

Having players claim Inspiration is the direction I went with it. Check out The Case for Inspiration.

4. The ability scores are still not balanced well, and don't offer enough to PCs outside of what they do for your class. Ability score choices should be impactful for all PCs with a complex set of tradeoffs. There should be good, tangible benefits to playing a high Intelligence PC of any class. Where's a tactics skill? All ability scores should offer secondary benefits to any character that are equivalent to what Con offers.

It sounds like I don't share your pre-suppositions. I don't come to games with a lot of ideas about "should." If the game achieves its goals, which I believe it does, then it's fine in my view. I have no problem with ability scores as is.
 

Mistwell

Legend
1. Using 3e's HP base/growth. Starting with 8-12 HP at 1st level is inadequate, and they should have done something more similar to 4th than to 3rd. It's so bad that even WotC has said "start at 3rd level" to circumvent the problem, which is extremely problematic. Easy fix, though - give all characters bonus HP equal to their class's per level gain (3,4,5, or 6). But it's a shame this has to be houseruled.

I have not found this to be an issue, nor in the 5 years of commentary from others playing the game (here, Reddit, the old WOTC boards, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other major message boards), have I see this particular issue of hit points (as opposed to other low level issues) as a common complaint.

Your claim that WOTC says to start at 3rd level DUE TO HIT POINT ISSUES is something I will need to see a link to because I've never seen anyone from WOTC say that. I've seen them call level 1 and 2 more like apprentice levels to ease players into the class abilities, but I have never seen them claim that you should jump to level 3 to deal with some sort of specifically low hit points issue.

You claim it is "very problematic" so I am curious what problems did you run into in your games that you describe it that way?
 

Nebulous

Legend
5th edition does a lot of things right. Curious to hear what peoples' biggest issues are with it.
Well, if you poke around here often, the site is a conglomeration of complaints! But for the most part people do like 5e, myself included, quibbles aside. My complaint is a general one, it's too overly simplified. It's great though for getting new players into the game, it's fast to pick up.

I really, really don't like the 5e skill system. It just amounts to rolling high, and the vanilla-ness sets in pretty fast. The same can be argued for the classes, and although I DM exclusively I see the same class combos over and over and there's virtually no variation. They're fun enough to play on their own, but unique traits only come from roleplaying and feats, not much else. Well spell selection, I do throw in non-core spells from online supplements.

Oh, what else? OH. The core Monster Manual baddies are too weak. Lots of what made them scarier in past editions are stripped out, like demons having spells. This is all easy to add back in, but new DMs wouldn't have a clue. Fortunately there are again supplements like Expanded Monster Manual that fill the niche of what an official 5e MM should have been and gives you hundreds of monster variants that flesh out the core monsters.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
You could just ignore the poster or the post, you know.
I have not found this to be an issue, nor in the 5 years of commentary from others playing the game (here, Reddit, the old WOTC boards, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other major message boards), have I see this particular issue of hit points (as opposed to other low level issues) as a common complaint.

Your claim that WOTC says to start at 3rd level DUE TO HIT POINT ISSUES is something I will need to see a link to because I've never seen anyone from WOTC say that. I've seen them call level 1 and 2 more like apprentice levels to ease players into the class abilities, but I have never seen them claim that you should jump to level 3 to deal with some sort of specifically low hit points issue.

You claim it is "very problematic" so I am curious what problems did you run into in your games that you describe it that way?

Oh, what a surprise. A combative post from you instead of just contributing to the topic with your general thoughts like everyone else. I'm not going to waste time justifying my perception to you to allow you to lure me into an argument about it.
 
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Nebulous

Legend
Yeah, the inspiration system isn't good IMO. I like the idea, generally speaking, quite a lot, but the implementation is clunky. It's not hard to clear out some of the record keeping and play it more like a straight reward for good roleplaying though, so I don't spend a lot of time kvetching about it.

Ugh. The Inspiration system sounds good on paper but in utility it's awful, iv'e tried using some alternate ones, but even then it doesn't congeal the way I want it to. I think it needs to be baked into the rules, per CLASS, in a way everything else is.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I can attest to the issue of explosively large HP totals. It took an 11th-level Legendary monster with the advantage of being in an area of magical darkness which it could see through to drop one party member to 0 for any substantial amount of time. Also, I am the type of DM who uses tactics, so that's not the issue. Once that PC dropped to 0, they quickly died, but the party was still able (they're only 6-7th level, mind you) defeat the 11th-level Legendary monster, a custom Hierophant of Annihilation.

I actually use a houserule that tries to address this at both ends, because I think you go from too few to too many HP as you rise in level. The gist of it is that you gain your per-level bonus at 1st, but for levels after 1st you can either roll your full HD as normal or you can roll for the median. On a low-role, you take the rounded down median, and on a high-role you take the rounded up one. It's not a huge impact, but it does help.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I can attest to the issue of explosively large HP totals. It took an 11th-level Legendary monster with the advantage of being in an area of magical darkness which it could see through to drop one party member to 0 for any substantial amount of time. Also, I am the type of DM who uses tactics, so that's not the issue. Once that PC dropped to 0, they quickly died, but the party was still able (they're only 6-7th level, mind you) defeat the 11th-level Legendary monster, a custom Hierophant of Annihilation.

I think it could be argued the other way too, monsters just don't do enough damage. In my games I also do maximum hit point crits, so dishing 30 or 40 points at a time is not uncommon. In lots of the unofficial monster supplements the baddies do much more damage than the core counterpart.



This guy, if hitting a marked target, does 8d6+10 +4d6 in a round. Not including crits. And attacking at advantage. In my crit system, that would be 58+24 + 8d6 damage, assuming he critted twice in one round (unlikely).
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Ugh. The Inspiration system sounds good on paper but in utility it's awful, iv'e tried using some alternate ones, but even then it doesn't congeal the way I want it to. I think it needs to be baked into the rules, per CLASS, in a way everything else is.
Yeah, I agree about the awful part though I would diverge with you on baking into class. Not because that wouldn't work, it would, but because that's not what I personally want the system to do. The classes have lots of handles on them for roleplaying stuff and I don't think roleplaying class, as a separate thing, needs encouragement. I prefer to focus on the background and alignment choices as the things that, when set next to class, really bring a character to life. Neither of those subsystems have much of a direct impact on roleplaying from a RAW standpoint, so that's where I like to layer on some homebrew.

I'm not going to go into detail, but the broad strokes is to reward good roleplaying of the character, not so much the just the class, and especially when roleplaying the character isn't the optimal choice. Making good roleplaying decisions is easy when there aren't consequences, but much harder when there are, and that's where I like drop in some rewards for players who want to make the hard choice.

Note - you can include character race into the above discussion anywhere I said background and alignment, although I don't put nearly the same premium on roleplaying race as some DMs.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I'm not going to go into detail, but the broad strokes is to reward good roleplaying of the character, not so much the just the class, and especially when roleplaying the character isn't the optimal choice. Making good roleplaying decisions is easy when there aren't consequences, but much harder when there are, and that's where I like drop in some rewards for players who want to make the hard choice.

Yes, there's a system where you spend Inspiration on your ideal and get it back by succumbing to a flaw. But since it's not hard coded into the PHB then neither myself or players ever think about it. So my reasoning is, if something were written down so that we SEE it and know it is mechanically prevalent, it won't be forgotten. I mean, yes, the book does say it, in one paragraph, but I wish it was more ingrained.

GAINING INSPIRATION
Your DM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety
of reasons. TypicalIy, DMs award it when you play
out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks
presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your
character in a compelIing way. Your DM wilI telI you
how you can earn inspiration in the game


For instance, if certain character abilities were powered by an Inspiration point, nobody would ever forget about it.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yes, there's a system where you spend Inspiration on your ideal and get it back by succumbing to a flaw. But since it's not hard coded into the PHB then neither myself or players ever think about it. So my reasoning is, if something were written down so that we SEE it and know it is mechanically prevalent, it won't be forgotten.
I know the system you're talking about, but that's not the one I use either, I have my own (although the ideals and flaws version is a little closer to what I'd like).

I can see the benefit of PHB hard coding, but I'm also fine going my own way in this particular case. There are other things I'd rather see improved in the PHB before the system we're talking about. Even if inspiration were done as you'd like, I would still prefer a system that isn't keyed to class, although I think that comes down to matters of personal taste rather than any kind of objectively better/worse comparison.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I know the system you're talking about, but that's not the one I use either, I have my own (although the ideals and flaws version is a little closer to what I'd like).

I can see the benefit of PHB hard coding, but I'm also fine going my own way in this particular case. There are other things I'd rather see improved in the PHB before the system we're talking about. Even if inspiration were done as you'd like, I would still prefer a system that isn't keyed to class, although I think that comes down to matters of personal taste rather than any kind of objectively better/worse comparison.

We just don't remember it, that's our problem. It would be an enormous rewrite though of core rules to change it. Just food for thought.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
We just don't remember it, that's our problem. It would be an enormous rewrite though of core rules to change it. Just food for thought.
The system I use is purpose designed to be easy to remember for all parties involved. Less record keeping for the DM, and easier access and use for the players. I use physical reminders, and both I and the players have them, so there's some dramatic tension involved, which helps keep the system from falling by the wayside. I also use a similar system for time, and the two systems next to one another kind of represent the changing tides of time and fortune. It's works for us anyway, which is what matters.
 

ChaosOS

Legend
Supporter
I agree level 1 HP is a problem, but I really like Pathfinder 2e's solution of making a base HP boost a racial feature to help add one extra tuning nob for racial balance.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I agree level 1 HP is a problem, but I really like Pathfinder 2e's solution of making a base HP boost a racial feature to help add one extra tuning nob for racial balance.
For our current campaign, I used the 4e method for hit points:
1st level: Constitution SCORE + class hit die's average
Every level add the class hit die's average, no Con score bonus.
 

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