D&D 5E D&D 5e Post-Mortem

Retreater

Legend
As is my tradition, each time a campaign ends, I'm trying to learn from it. This time, the campaign that concluded was my second running of Curse of Strahd. This is the end of my 5th edition experience. So, on a bigger scale, I'm trying to learn from my experience with the system as a whole. I have no plans to run the system again. I will put it in deep storage along with my 3.x/PF1 books - another system I'm so burned out on, I don't even want to look at the books (and I haven't for around a decade). Like how my burnout on 3.x applied to Pathfinder 1e, I don't expect I will purchase anything from Tales from the Valiant. Likewise, Level Up is going into storage ... "baby and the bathwater" and all that.

Initial "Encounters"
The D&D Next Playtest excited me. I was playing mostly 4E at that point and was interested to see a more streamlined game with connection to AD&D that didn't have all the complexity of d20. At the time, my gaming consisted of running D&D Encounters at the FLGS - and what an event that was! I was spearheading 3-4 groups of players, which was something in our town. (I didn't have a "home" game because I didn't have a home at that time. My soon-to-be ex-wife had filed for divorce, and I was crashing at my mom's until I could get my life in order. Yeah, it was a period of big transition.)
The Playtest did feel flat compared to all the options we had in 4E ... but they were going to improve it later, right?
When the actual rules came out, we started with Hoard of the Dragon Queen at D&D Encounters. The 3-4 groups of players shrunk down to one table of around 10 players. Some players from the 4E Encounters lost interest, but no one would DM 5e. (This would become an ongoing issue.) After the unceremonious TPK in that terribly written adventure, Encounters folded. Live playing D&D at my FLGS was killed by 5e.

Potion Mixing
5e was supposed to be the edition to bring all players together. When I got my house, that's the angle I took too. It had a large basement, big table for gaming, walls lined with bookshelves of miniatures, fantasy literature, and game supplements. I got in contact with some of the lapsed players from the FLGS and invited them to my house, where we weren't constrained by operating hours, be expected to pay to play, etc. Since there was nothing out but Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I decided to create my own campaign, based around Ravenloft (one of my favorite settings. It was a short campaign, based on old horror films and literature. As would become a 5e tradition of mine, it ended with a TPK because I couldn’t balance the challenges.

Take the Aid Action?
After what I considered a “failed” campaign, I turned to some of the newly released campaign adventures, and I ran quite the assortment (though not all of them to their completion due to TPKs and loss of player interest): Lost Mines of Phandelver (x?), Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Princes of the Apocalypse (x2), Out of the Abyss (x2), Curse of Strahd (x2), Storm King’s Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, Dragon Heist, Dungeon of the Mad Mage, Tales from the Yawning Portal, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, and Rime of the Frostmaiden, And that’s just the first party stuff – I also ran some Goodman Games Original Adventures Reincarnated, Frog God Games adventures, Kobold Press, etc.
Over the decade or since 5e’s release, I ran a lot of games for many players – some at public events, some in my house, some on Roll20 or other VTTs. Most of them were pre-published because I didn’t have often time to write original content for the 2-3 weekly games I was running. And – more importantly – I didn’t trust the tools OR myself to make appropriate challenges.
Eventually, I thought I’d figure out the CR system, or that Wizards would release something workable. They were going to improve it later, right?
But nothing improved. The adventures were largely milquetoast, illogical, disconnected as if written by a committee who hadn’t seen each other’s notes. The challenge never felt right either, every encounter for the first two levels felt like a teetering on TPK, while the higher level encounters were frequently laughable. Until, well, a random impossible encounter came out of nowhere and TPK’ed the party.

3rd Level of Exhaustion
After running 5e for nearly a decade, mostly for two or more sessions a week, I’m tired. The system never got more interesting than it was in the playtest (and I think I could make the case that the playtest was actually more interesting than the final product). It’s difficult to DM – because there is nothing to help DMs. Even the adventures are almost universally bad compared to what we get in other systems (let’s compare them to Cthulhu’s Masks of Nyarlahotep, Orient Express, or Mountains of Madness; or Warhammer’s Enemy Within; or Pathfinder’s Kingmaker.) I’d say that two of WotC’s adventures stack up to what other companies release (Strahd and ToA).
There’s a bland “sameness” over 5e. There aren’t ancestries that make me excited. It’s rare to get magic items at all (and really, the characters are too powerful already that they would break the game). Any settings that feel unique?… no, just vanilla Sword Coast. Alternate systems of magic? Monsters that aren’t just bags of hit points?
Elf Rogue, takes disengage action, moves into flanking position with a rapier, and then moves out. Elf ranger … hunted prey, colossus slayer, fires bow. Dwarf cleric casts Healing Word if someone’s dying or just attacks. Paladin smites.
I’ve run this encounter more times than I can count. I’m tired of this system.

Saving Throw?
Can anything be saved from 5e? Can I hobble together some golem to make a game I like? Maybe I could take MCDM’s Flee Mortals to make more exciting encounters and put them in a unique setting like Metis Creative’s Historica Arcanum? Maybe I can sprinkle in the magic item economy from Level Up and put in some new classes from EN Publishing’s Masterclass Codex? Put in some psionics from Steampunkette’s Paranormal Power. (No complaints on any of these products. I own all of them, and I think they’re pretty great.) But at this point, it seems like putting blush on a corpse. I’d rather just move on.

Move Action
Not playing D&D 5e (or the 2024 edition or whatever) will have some consequences. Not playing the biggest game means it will be harder to find players, being out of the loop on online discussions and feeling out of place on sites like ENWorld (I’m already not posting here very often), and the Sunk Cost of all the 5e-compatible stuff I’m putting in storage.
I don’t know if I have a choice. The interviews and playtests I followed seemed to reiterate that D&D is continuing to move in a direction that takes what I disliked about 5e and just lean into it more.
So for the first time since I was 12 years old, I think I have to say, I’m done with D&D.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
It's ok to be done with D&D. Its scary at first, but you can manage. Its never been easier to find gamers for alternatives, if you are willing to play online of course. There are also board games, card games, war games, etc... Take a break, look around you. Good luck and hope you find those games that excite you again.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
My own analysis as we come to the end of the first phase of 5e-

5e was a wild, massive, and unqualified success. Why? Perhaps because it didn't have any expectations at Hasbro when it was being designed and launched.

Through a combination of factors, some intrinsic to the design, and some external, it has become the most successful edition of D&D to date. It has reinvigorated the game.

It did this in two primary ways:

First, it was appealing to new players. New players are the lifeblood of the game, and of the broader community.

Second, it brought a lot of "lapsed players" back into the fold. This was also incredibly important, because those lapsed players would often turn around and bring in younger, new players. How many times have we seen people post here (or state elsewhere) that they were picking up 5e to run a game for their family or their kids?

5e is not perfect- far from it. It lacks the crunch and complexity that some people crave. It isn't perfectly adapted for pure storytelling. It puts a lot of work onto the DM (which I would argue is a feature, not a bug, of the design). But perfect is the enemy of good. And 5e was good- it was approachable, and it brought the game to a level of prominence that we have never seen before- not even during the prior "golden years" of the early 80s.

In short, while we do not know where the game is going, we should be thankful for where 5e took D&D.
 

fuindordm

Adventurer
I should start by saying that I haven't run very many published settings/adventures, although I have bought a few and enjoyed reading them.

In my campaign I'm using several adventures from Ghosts of Saltmarsh and I'm pleasantly surprised by the encounter balance. There is a good mix of easy and hard encounters, and some that would be TPK for the party on open terrain but can be mitigated by using terrain and tactics wisely (such as luring a golem into a pit trap). Some encounters that had the potential for a TPK got resolved by retreating or calling a truce, since the opponents were also in bad shape.

Of course this book is mostly based on classic AD&D adventures, but still I feel like WotC did the heavy lifting for me and I can just get on with the game.

And for my homebrew adventures, I feel comfortable eyeballing the MM and putting together a team of monsters for an appropriate challenge.

Yes, the player tactics can be repetitive, but as long as they're having fun with their class that's OK. The biggest annoyance for me is that intelligent enemies have a strategic incentive (almost an imperative) to coup de grace fallen spellcasters to defend against Healing word.
 

5e is my favorite edition. My friends took to it quickly when I taught it to them. My wife and kids took to it quickly as well. The second part is very important to me. We have something we can all enjoy together and bond over the game. To me, it's been the easiest to DM and I've enjoyed most of all the adventures. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, hopefully you can find a system that works for you and your group.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
and I think I could make the case that the playtest was actually more interesting than the final product
That's basically where I've been since the playtest. Most of what I was excited about from the playtest was binned. All the actual innovation and iteration that I was keen to see more of vanished. The promise of modular subsystems that could emulate prior editions never materialized...from WotC...though the 3PP heroically took up that mantle.

Of all the D&D editions 5E is the one I like the least. It doesn't do anything particularly well, besides sell. 4E has drastically better...almost everything...except the speed of combat resolution. 5E beats it there. But that's all. At least the longer 4E fights were interesting and varied due to stellar encounter design...so of course 5E went back to one big sack of hit points. 4E has better monster design, class options, balance, encounter design, lore, cosmology, the split between combat and non-combat magic, skill challenges (even if they were poorly implemented), on and on and on. I skipped 3X so no comparisons from me. 2E has drastically better monster lore and setting support. Oh, gods, the settings. 5E's regurgitating the hollow shells of those settings. So many more helpful and useful books. The leatherette series. The monster lore, the compendiums, the spell books, the magic item books, on and on and on. AD&D and B/X beat 5E hands down in every imaginable way. Ease of use, quickness of combat, customizability, tone, style, on and on and on.
 
Last edited:

dave2008

Legend
5e is my favorite edition. My friends took to it quickly when I taught it to them. My wife and kids took to it quickly as well. The second part is very important to me. We have something we can all enjoy together and bond over the game. To me, it's been the easiest to DM and I've enjoyed most of all the adventures. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, hopefully you can find a system that works for you and your group.
That is pretty much where we are as well. We have never had more fun playing D&D (or any RPG) in the past 30+ years. I will add one caveat: over the first year of 5e we developed our own set of house rules (one page) to make it fit our style. So we don't play RAW 5e, but I have never done that (played only RAW) for any version of D&D. It just so happens we need the fewest number of house rules of any version of D&D that we have played (BECMI/1e/4e) to get it to a style we like.

Regarding lore: We started our current campaign world in 4e and used a mostly default 4e cosmology. We adopted the mostly default 5e tweaks with little issue as we transitioned the world to 5e. Additionally, we use a combination of lore from all editions (even ones we didn't play). It is most heavily influenced by core 1e and 4e though.

@Retreater: glad to see you are finally moving on. I know this system has been driving you nuts for years. RPGs should be fun, not work. Do something you enjoy!
 

Oofta

Legend
I have to rank 5E as my favorite version of D&D so far. I don't get too caught up in the mechanics of the game, the so-called "crunch". It's obviously not perfect because nothing is perfect and never can be. It certainly can't be perfect for everyone. The few things that irked me about 5E required just a handful of house rules (almost all of which benefit the players), and I'm wrapping up my 2nd campaign that went to 20th level.

The most amazing thing though is that while I play with some old grognards like me, I have another game where my baby boomer sister who never picked up a polyhedral dice before has joined a group we run for her and my nephews. Admittedly for my sister it's more about spending time with her kids (and one fiancé), but she's still enjoying it, jumping into battle with the rest of us. I would have bet just about anything that it's something I would never see.

I guess I just like a game that is streamlined and does a decent job mechanically while being streamlined enough that, for lack of a better term, it gets out of the way of my story telling. I can focus on story as a DM and on who my character is, not what my character is, when I play. I'm hopeful for the tweaks in the 2024 edition and if they totally f*** it up, I'll continue playing 5E for a long time.

But you can't please everyone and if you try you often end up pleasing no one. So if it's time to move on I wish you well.
 

nevin

Hero
As is my tradition, each time a campaign ends, I'm trying to learn from it. This time, the campaign that concluded was my second running of Curse of Strahd. This is the end of my 5th edition experience. So, on a bigger scale, I'm trying to learn from my experience with the system as a whole. I have no plans to run the system again. I will put it in deep storage along with my 3.x/PF1 books - another system I'm so burned out on, I don't even want to look at the books (and I haven't for around a decade). Like how my burnout on 3.x applied to Pathfinder 1e, I don't expect I will purchase anything from Tales from the Valiant. Likewise, Level Up is going into storage ... "baby and the bathwater" and all that.

Initial "Encounters"
The D&D Next Playtest excited me. I was playing mostly 4E at that point and was interested to see a more streamlined game with connection to AD&D that didn't have all the complexity of d20. At the time, my gaming consisted of running D&D Encounters at the FLGS - and what an event that was! I was spearheading 3-4 groups of players, which was something in our town. (I didn't have a "home" game because I didn't have a home at that time. My soon-to-be ex-wife had filed for divorce, and I was crashing at my mom's until I could get my life in order. Yeah, it was a period of big transition.)
The Playtest did feel flat compared to all the options we had in 4E ... but they were going to improve it later, right?
When the actual rules came out, we started with Hoard of the Dragon Queen at D&D Encounters. The 3-4 groups of players shrunk down to one table of around 10 players. Some players from the 4E Encounters lost interest, but no one would DM 5e. (This would become an ongoing issue.) After the unceremonious TPK in that terribly written adventure, Encounters folded. Live playing D&D at my FLGS was killed by 5e.

Potion Mixing
5e was supposed to be the edition to bring all players together. When I got my house, that's the angle I took too. It had a large basement, big table for gaming, walls lined with bookshelves of miniatures, fantasy literature, and game supplements. I got in contact with some of the lapsed players from the FLGS and invited them to my house, where we weren't constrained by operating hours, be expected to pay to play, etc. Since there was nothing out but Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I decided to create my own campaign, based around Ravenloft (one of my favorite settings. It was a short campaign, based on old horror films and literature. As would become a 5e tradition of mine, it ended with a TPK because I couldn’t balance the challenges.

Take the Aid Action?
After what I considered a “failed” campaign, I turned to some of the newly released campaign adventures, and I ran quite the assortment (though not all of them to their completion due to TPKs and loss of player interest): Lost Mines of Phandelver (x?), Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Princes of the Apocalypse (x2), Out of the Abyss (x2), Curse of Strahd (x2), Storm King’s Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, Dragon Heist, Dungeon of the Mad Mage, Tales from the Yawning Portal, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, and Rime of the Frostmaiden, And that’s just the first party stuff – I also ran some Goodman Games Original Adventures Reincarnated, Frog God Games adventures, Kobold Press, etc.
Over the decade or since 5e’s release, I ran a lot of games for many players – some at public events, some in my house, some on Roll20 or other VTTs. Most of them were pre-published because I didn’t have often time to write original content for the 2-3 weekly games I was running. And – more importantly – I didn’t trust the tools OR myself to make appropriate challenges.
Eventually, I thought I’d figure out the CR system, or that Wizards would release something workable. They were going to improve it later, right?
But nothing improved. The adventures were largely milquetoast, illogical, disconnected as if written by a committee who hadn’t seen each other’s notes. The challenge never felt right either, every encounter for the first two levels felt like a teetering on TPK, while the higher level encounters were frequently laughable. Until, well, a random impossible encounter came out of nowhere and TPK’ed the party.

3rd Level of Exhaustion
After running 5e for nearly a decade, mostly for two or more sessions a week, I’m tired. The system never got more interesting than it was in the playtest (and I think I could make the case that the playtest was actually more interesting than the final product). It’s difficult to DM – because there is nothing to help DMs. Even the adventures are almost universally bad compared to what we get in other systems (let’s compare them to Cthulhu’s Masks of Nyarlahotep, Orient Express, or Mountains of Madness; or Warhammer’s Enemy Within; or Pathfinder’s Kingmaker.) I’d say that two of WotC’s adventures stack up to what other companies release (Strahd and ToA).
There’s a bland “sameness” over 5e. There aren’t ancestries that make me excited. It’s rare to get magic items at all (and really, the characters are too powerful already that they would break the game). Any settings that feel unique?… no, just vanilla Sword Coast. Alternate systems of magic? Monsters that aren’t just bags of hit points?
Elf Rogue, takes disengage action, moves into flanking position with a rapier, and then moves out. Elf ranger … hunted prey, colossus slayer, fires bow. Dwarf cleric casts Healing Word if someone’s dying or just attacks. Paladin smites.
I’ve run this encounter more times than I can count. I’m tired of this system.

Saving Throw?
Can anything be saved from 5e? Can I hobble together some golem to make a game I like? Maybe I could take MCDM’s Flee Mortals to make more exciting encounters and put them in a unique setting like Metis Creative’s Historica Arcanum? Maybe I can sprinkle in the magic item economy from Level Up and put in some new classes from EN Publishing’s Masterclass Codex? Put in some psionics from Steampunkette’s Paranormal Power. (No complaints on any of these products. I own all of them, and I think they’re pretty great.) But at this point, it seems like putting blush on a corpse. I’d rather just move on.

Move Action
Not playing D&D 5e (or the 2024 edition or whatever) will have some consequences. Not playing the biggest game means it will be harder to find players, being out of the loop on online discussions and feeling out of place on sites like ENWorld (I’m already not posting here very often), and the Sunk Cost of all the 5e-compatible stuff I’m putting in storage.
I don’t know if I have a choice. The interviews and playtests I followed seemed to reiterate that D&D is continuing to move in a direction that takes what I disliked about 5e and just lean into it more.
So for the first time since I was 12 years old, I think I have to say, I’m done with D&D.
honestly I think the only thing 5e really brought to DND that was innovative was the Advantage /Disadvantage thing. Other than that it's a slimmed down easy play version of what came before. Though the Easy play thing that makes it boring so some seems to be the big selling point to most.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
5e is my favorite edition. My friends took to it quickly when I taught it to them. My wife and kids took to it quickly as well. The second part is very important to me. We have something we can all enjoy together and bond over the game. To me, it's been the easiest to DM and I've enjoyed most of all the adventures. I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, hopefully you can find a system that works for you and your group.
Adding on to this, not only was 5e picked up quickly by my family and friends, but it also remained casual to play as our campaigns stretched on for years. Everyone in the group has busy lives and nearly everyone doesn't think about D&D except when we play on Friday or Saturday, and we have a great time each session.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top