D&D 5E D&D 5e Post-Mortem

Retreater

Legend
I agree about the basic 5E leveling. I think that was part of the design to appeal to casuals and OSR gamers. My opinion is that it is pretty boring. I disagree about BA though. I think PF2 has shown that you can do level stat progression, while leaving abilities to a more horizontal development.
I was thinking about adding level to Attack Rolls and Saves for PCs and monsters to make it feel more of like a real progression. I haven't gotten too far down that line of theory, since other systems have already done the same thing. I'd just prefer for a 15th level monster to feel like a challenge for a party around 15th level - not a "tough fight" for a party of 6th level characters. After a party faces a foe like that in early mid-tier, I just don't know where to go with it. Do you end up running 10 Balors at 12th level?
Sure, why not? D&D is about being Big Darn Heroes, yes. They specifically designed the numbers of 5E so that the players are the House, and the House always wins. It's kind of the opposite of Call or Cthulu, but a similar approach should work even if the outcome is 180 degrees off. The point is to get together with friends and have a good time, not to be a "challenge." Insofar as there is a challenge to be found, it will be resource attrition, though obviously thst is optional to the table.
Other games have Big Darn Heroes too. Pathfinder 2e, D&D 4e, Gamma World, etc., all have some very over-the-top moments. But I don't think any of them are so easy that winning is a foregone conclusion. Or at least the feeling is that during desperate times, the "big guns" have to come out. 5e feels too much like "copy and paste" with every battle.
More narrative systems (like Dungeon World) are fine because they aren't designed to be long campaigns that last for months/years. 5e just doesn't have enough interesting things in it to sustain diverse sessions. IMO, at least.
A bunch of heroes getting together and killing Strahd sounds awesome to me. I assume that was more than 5 PCs...?
Actually, 4 PCs for most of the time - since the cleric was pulled out of the fight to engage a shadow demon in a solo fight (that came out of her background). Once she returned, the battle was truly engaged. Don't get me wrong, that fight with Strahd ended up being epic, but I played Strahd to his full potential, and they won fair and square. I'd have to seriously modify future combats to challenge them appropriately.
 

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Retreater

Legend
From what I can tell, they definitely made a game that you liked, since apparently you played it around a thousand times over almost a decade! You more than got your money's worth, and it's not surprising that you are feeling tired of it. My advice, if you want it, is not to try to "cobble something together" but to play something completely different until you feel a desire to play D&D again, if ever. I'm thinking about making my next campaign either Call of Cthulhu or Dungeon World, if I can get my players onboard, and I haven't put nearly as much time into 5e as you have!
I think I started getting burned out in the pandemic, that's when my gaming really increased to wacky levels. Also, I started writing 5e for publication - which I'm still pretty salty about because it looks like the book isn't going to happen now.
I also got burned out on 3.x after I wrote for it. Maybe I'm not supposed to work in game design? Haha.
Yeah, I counted 51 different systems I own. (Actually, make that 54 since I forgot about Warlock!, The Fantasy Trip, and Index Card RPG.) It's time to try something different.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Other games have Big Darn Heroes too. Pathfinder 2e, D&D 4e, Gamma World, etc., all have some very over-the-top moments. But I don't think any of them are so easy that winning is a foregone conclusion. Or at least the feeling is that during desperate times, the "big guns" have to come out. 5e feels too much like "copy and paste" with every battle.
Yeah, but it gets cluttered up a bit for my taste in those games with grindy tactics and such. 5E fights are fast and dirty, and the players usually come out ahead, which is a good feeling. The challenge isn't in the nitty gritty of combat actions, but in the longhaul of conserving resources across a bunch of doable fights.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, but it gets cluttered up a bit for my taste in those games with grindy tactics and such. 5E fights are fast and dirty, and the players usually come out ahead, which is a good feeling. The challenge isn't in the nitty gritty of combat actions, but in the longhaul of conserving resources across a bunch of doable fights.
I could get that - but the amount of resources spent in fights is so low that it requires so many fights to get down where the attrition matters. And in that case, you're still looking at a long grind - but instead of it being one epic fight, it's spread across a half dozen (or more) piddly fights. And most of the adventures aren't set up that way. And most of my sessions aren't set up that way - when we have around 4 hours to play, I don't want to cram it full of mostly trivial combats to cut out time for roleplaying, exploration, etc.
For example, in Curse of Strahd (which I still attest is the best official adventure published for 5e) the party will go to a location and fight 2-3 battles and basically be able to go nova. Then they rest, so to the next 2-3 encounters. There are a couple of "major areas" that have more meat on them, where attrition can actually happen
Castle Ravenloft, the Amber Temple, Argynvostholt - which hasn't been visited in either of my playthroughs.
"Fast" is fine, and if the fights were actually "dirty" I wouldn't mind it so much.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I could get that - but the amount of resources spent in fights is so low that it requires so many fights to get down where the attrition matters. And in that case, you're still looking at a long grind - but instead of it being one epic fight, it's spread across a half dozen (or more) piddly fights. And most of the adventures aren't set up that way. And most of my sessions aren't set up that way - when we have around 4 hours to play, I don't want to cram it full of mostly trivial combats to cut out time for roleplaying, exploration, etc.
For example, in Curse of Strahd (which I still attest is the best official adventure published for 5e) the party will go to a location and fight 2-3 battles and basically be able to go nova. Then they rest, so to the next 2-3 encounters. There are a couple of "major areas" that have more meat on them, where attrition can actually happen
Castle Ravenloft, the Amber Temple, Argynvostholt - which hasn't been visited in either of my playthroughs.
"Fast" is fine, and if the fights were actually "dirty" I wouldn't mind it so much.
Yeah, it's a maximal situation, not a normative one. As you say, there are several areas that push that. Fast fights thst give a bit of a dopamine rush without requiring too much investment are part of the style, which seems to not work for you. For me, that's 5E fixing what didn't work in 3E and 4E (too much time investment per fight, too much tactics).
 

dave2008

Legend
I really like 5e for a number of reasons. But I have to back you up on the lack of rewards.

Without gold for experience and a move away from followers and castles, I sort of shrug about treasure after I can afford armor.
We require characters to train, research, etc. during downtime to level up. Those actions require investment. So PCs in my game definitely need their GP!
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
We require characters to train, research, etc. during downtime to level up. Those actions require investment. So PCs in my game definitely need their GP!
That sounds good. One thing an old version had right! We were always treasure hungry! Experience, levels and other stuff? More gold please!
 

Retreater

Legend
We require characters to train, research, etc. during downtime to level up. Those actions require investment. So PCs in my game definitely need their GP!
I did gold for XP while I was running a dungeoncrawl (Barrowmaze) for my wife and brother-in-law during the early stages of the pandemic. It was certainly an interesting mechanic that helped encourage them to take risks and delve deeper. Recommended for that style of game, certainly.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I was thinking about adding level to Attack Rolls and Saves for PCs and monsters to make it feel more of like a real progression. I haven't gotten too far down that line of theory, since other systems have already done the same thing. I'd just prefer for a 15th level monster to feel like a challenge for a party around 15th level - not a "tough fight" for a party of 6th level characters. After a party faces a foe like that in early mid-tier, I just don't know where to go with it. Do you end up running 10 Balors at 12th level?
I have been thinking a lot about 5E and PF2 in comparison. Im kind of bugged by PF2 in a way that maybe you are about 5E. I think it rolls into my love of 3E/PF1 and perhaps your enjoyment of 4E too. I believe BA lowers the ceiling of possible encounter challenges allowing the players to punch up. I believe PF2 instead lowers the floor so that there always remains a challenge ahead of you.

There is also the tactical puzzle piece of the conundrum. Many editions have been built around the idea of PCs working in tandem to synergize their abilities and solve the tactical challenge before them. In 5E its always an option, but entirely unnecessary. A group wont last in PF2 unless they engage the tactical piece in most encounters; certainly any at the severe/extreme level.
Other games have Big Darn Heroes too. Pathfinder 2e, D&D 4e, Gamma World, etc., all have some very over-the-top moments. But I don't think any of them are so easy that winning is a foregone conclusion. Or at least the feeling is that during desperate times, the "big guns" have to come out. 5e feels too much like "copy and paste" with every battle.
I think the default challenge of 5E is easy/normal were in other games, like PF2, its normal/hard. I tier the difficulty because I think there are some things a GM can do to make a games default difficulty edge upwards. Speaking again to the above, I think BA pushes favor in the players direction, but PF2 leveling system pushes it away.
More narrative systems (like Dungeon World) are fine because they aren't designed to be long campaigns that last for months/years. 5e just doesn't have enough interesting things in it to sustain diverse sessions. IMO, at least.
This is an area I find is up to perspective and taste. I dont think anything about 5E stops it from being interesting long term, and narrative games certainly can be designed for the long haul. I could, for instance, play a 3E E6 game for years as long as the GM keeps the narrative engaging, the stakes interesting, and the challenges appropriate. I also love Traveller a game thats progression is much much flatter than D&D, but can keep me engaged for the long haul.
I could get that - but the amount of resources spent in fights is so low that it requires so many fights to get down where the attrition matters. And in that case, you're still looking at a long grind - but instead of it being one epic fight, it's spread across a half dozen (or more) piddly fights. And most of the adventures aren't set up that way. And most of my sessions aren't set up that way - when we have around 4 hours to play, I don't want to cram it full of mostly trivial combats to cut out time for roleplaying, exploration, etc.
On this we are in agreement. The 6-8 encounters a day expectation is bananas. I think this is a byproduct of mixing long and short rest mechanics. More likely due to the mix of classes who rely heavily on one or the other. I have long believed the game should either be focused on the adventuring day and resource attrition (long rest), or focused on being encounter based (short rest). Mixing the two has not yielded good result, IME. YMMV.
 

It is very much like the 4e minion, that's my point.
It's a version that's been scuffed, yes
I value your opinion; however, it is just your opinion. Have you used one of these in an a game? I have, and they are lot of fun. It works for me.
I've literally looked at that wall of text for the inventions and point blank refused to use it. And that's the problem. The kobold inventor isn't something you can sue on the fly.
Listen, I like 4e monsters. I have my issues with them and made a lot of custom 4e monsters in my day. I can even agree that 4e monsters are probably, overall, the high water mark for D&D monster mechanics. However, I just don't think the difference is a large as people make it out to be, that is my point. I will also say that I think, in general, the 5e legendary monsters are better and more interesting in actually play than 4e solos. To me that is important - I like solo monsters and 5e versions are just better IMO. At the very least they play better at our table.
The two best sources of solo monsters in D&D have, I agree, been 5e Solos with legendary and lair actions as the most evocative and MV era solos and 4e MV era solos which are the most kinaesthetic.

However where 5e monster design fails as against 4e is on two counts I consider serious. The first is un-necessary cross-referencing. If my PCs go somewhere I haven't prepared but know what's there I can turn to a relevant monster and know how to run them on a simple scan through with a few seconds notice. This is partly the more compact statblocks but more importantly that a lot of the interesting and powerful things are references to other things, whether spells, other monsters, lair actions, or something else (and 5e is badly indexed). A properly prepped 5e monster can be pretty good but the prep work is unnecessarily high (although far lower than 3.X) and higher than most games I run, although far lower than most 80s or 90s games. MMotM is far better than Volo's this way - but a still well behind 4e. The second is that there's often a whole lot less ability to use the game world and the monster design for counterplay; there's not much point forcing archers or casters into melee other than for focus fire. The 4e brute/soldier, artillery, and lurker (and "type 2 skirmisher" with things like Sneak Attack; most 5e humanoids are "type 1 skirmishers", equally adept in melee and at range) designations almost forced this.
 

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