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D&D 5E Deal Breakers - Or woah, that is just too much


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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There's a difference between alcohol flowing, and being drunk. It was clearly specified drunk, and that word does in fact have a very specific meaning.
Yes. It means not sober.

There's lots of different degrees of drunk; you seem to be focusing on the more extreme where I'm looking at the mildly inebriated version. But any degree of non-sobriety can be defined as drunk.

Having one drink? A few? Nah. Being drunk? Even just a little drunk? Not the same.
In fact it is the same, unless you're using a much more limiting definition of drunk than I am.

Lan-"tonight's game was, after all that, unusually sober"-efan
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I can't currently find the reference, but WotC has stated that its polls have shown this sort of thing for a good long while, and that's why the more recent editions have been designed for shorter campaigns.
I have to flog this horse every time it gets mentioned, so here goes once again:

The big customer survey WotC did in the run-up to 3e was deeply flawed, in that they threw out all responses from anyone over a certain age (I think 35) meaning many players who had started with 0e or 1e - and thus had been gaming the longest - were not heard.

Speaking solely for myself--yes, more anecdotes!--WotC's polling is accurate enough. The longest campaign I, or any of my friends, were ever involved in was still less than two years.
One of these days, if I ever move to your town, I'll have to start a game with you in it. Two years? Hell, we're only just getting nicely started! :)

Lan-"not all campaigns go the distance, many fail way before then; but the intent has to be there with the tweaks made to support it"-efan
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I have to flog this horse every time it gets mentioned, so here goes once again:

The big customer survey WotC did in the run-up to 3e was deeply flawed, in that they threw out all responses from anyone over a certain age (I think 35) meaning many players who had started with 0e or 1e - and thus had been gaming the longest - were not heard.
If they counted on old players getting the new edition regardless, I can see the logic in that move.

And assuming both you and I were over 35 at the time, and seeing that we're both here still, it makes it kinda hard accusing them of doing it wrongly...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Slightly above anecdote, but well below concrete data. It's a pretty perfect example of an extremely limited and inherently biased sample size.
Perhaps, but it's all I've got, and I suspect it's more than many.
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?217967-Campaign-Length

So 2008, just as/before 4e came out. I'm not sure how you can say a given campaign can't last X years in a specific system. Or, really, a somewhat modified version of the same system, with varying levels of tweaking. Show me any data to back that up? What makes an AD&D campaign potentially last any longer than a 3.X campaign, exactly?
The simple mechanical answer: slower level advancement. Sure there's other changes you can make, but that one is by far the most important. In 1e changing that was the easiest thing imaginable: either very much reduce or completely drop the xp-for-gp rule. In 3e it's harder as there's a bit more knock-on to deal with, most notably that wealth-by-level guidelines go out the window in a hurry, but I've seen it done. I was in a 3e game that went for 10 years (I was in for 7 of that), but it only did so because the DM made a pile of changes going in to make it advance at a rate more like our 1e games.

What difference in design alters the fundamental flow of a campaign? Levels 1-20? Check.
1e really goes only from levels 1 to about 12, but they can very easily be made to take longer to arrive.

Same rough tiers of gaining access to new effects via spells and magic items? Check. Monsters roughly the same? If anything, a bit less deadly, meaning characters are a bit more likely to make it further.
Monsters less deadly in 3e? Surely you jest.

Potentially unlimited levels beyond 20 if you wish? Check.
Though if done right you shouldn't need these.

How do you figure 3e was specifically designed for 1-2 year campaigns?
By listening to what WotC said at the time.

Like 1e/AD&D, 3e specifically discusses at length varying XP rewards to shorten or lengthen the time between gaining levels to set a pace appropriate to your own game.
Pathfinder discusses this and - to its credit - even gives three different advancement tracks. I don't remember 3e saying anything much about slowing things down, unless it was in a splat of some kind (I pretty much only got the core 3).

That they put a somewhat more comprehensive structure to XP rewards isn't indicative of designing it to last a certain length.
Well, it's supposed to be 13 encounters per level in 3e, right? That's what it's designed for, meaning a 1-20 campaign should as designed be about 250-ish encounters long.

AD&D could quite easily (and has, in my own first-hand experience) be paced at a level right there with 3e. It completely depends on the adventures played in. AD&D explicitly states a character can gain a level as often as once per adventure, or as long as once per 10 adventures. 3e on the other hand has it paced at roughly a number of encounters, but...and this is rather critical...that number of encounters varies considerably between adventures, such that some adventures have so few actual encounters that no one should come close to leveling during that adventure.
Both statements are or can be true of both editions.*

* - side note here: I'm assuming when you say AD&D you mean 1e rather than 2e. If you're talking about 2e I can't speak to it at all, having never played it.

There's adventures in both editions that really have nothing in them. There's adventures in both editions that are huge. For character career count it about averages out in the long run, I find.

The difference in my view is that 1e is in many ways flexible enough to handle such a variable advancement rate (and a level per 10 adventures is slow even for us!) where 3e was somewhat more tied to the encounter budget.

EDIT TO ADD: Something else is that in 1e as written you couldn't advance in the field at all; you'd hit a ceiling at 1 xp below the bump point and you had to go back to town and train up before you could get into the new level. 3e doesn't have that, and some adventures even expect characters to bump multiple times while in them and are written to suit; and nearly all 4e adventures do this.

4e...yes, 4e was designed to be paced at roughly three long adventures per tier. So over 30 levels you should roughly play nine longish adventures. However...4e explicitly has a section explaining how and why you should raise or lower XP rewards to increase or decrease the rate of advancement. To specifically accommodate any length of campaign. The system inherently tells you when and how to stretch a campaign out as long as you desire.
Yes, but does this actually work in practice? I've never played 4e so all I can go on is what I read in places like this, but it seems rare that anyone's made it work and some of those who have are those who could probably make an enjoyable 10-year campaign out of a game of Monopoly.

And without modifying anything, is designed for around 16 months of play from 1-30, but only if you actually play once a week, every week, all year.
Which we try to do; usually about 42-46 sessions per year for a regular game.

5e is unusual in that it doesn't actually list an explicit baseline pacing. The closest it comes is the rough xp appropriate per fully packed adventuring day. But it also defines an adventuring day of consisting of ~6-8 medium to hard encounters. Which, on most actual days out and about, is probably quite a lot when not in the midst of a war, a rather populous dungeon, etc. And even then, with that high number of medium-to-hard encounters, it scales. You should, according to that, jump from level 1 to 2 in a single day, but then it gets longer and longer, to ~6.5 such days at level 11, and ~10 at level 19. But that is running under an assumption of quite a few rough encounters each of those days, which really means it's more likely stretched out quite a bit.
From what I can tell 5e is probably flexible enough to handle almost any advance rate.

And...interestingly enough...the length of a campaign is so much easier to handle...wait for it...if you remove XP from the reward structure entirely, and simply level everyone when you want to level. ;)

Something that multiple editions, including both 4e and 5e, explicitly point out as an option. 3e does so in a roundabout manner, suggesting an alternate structure where everyone gets a set level of XP per encounter of session, determined on the fly by the DM, with all the characters getting the same amount. Which is just another way of saying: level the characters when you feel like it (but hand out the XP so they feel like it's a reward).
Which then brings us full circle: we have to find a way to reward and incent those who get it done rather than those who stand by and then loot the fallen, or who take the adventure off.

I also use variable-by-class advancement tables in my game (which is based on 1e).

Slight tangent, but related:

There's many other ways to slow down overall advancement than simply tweaking the level tables:
- play more than one party in the same world and on a by-adventure basis (or at logical break points) jump back and forth between which one gets played. Keeping them roughly aligned in game-world time so they can potentially interact with each other can be tricky, but well worth it
- have level loss or xp loss in the game as an occasional risk the PCs might face
- encourage players to have a stable of characters and to cycle them in and out, with limited to no advancement while retired unless it's for a long time; for example this adventure I might be playing 5th-level Gloramir but after it's done I'm going to pull him for a few months downtime and either bring back 3rd-level Hrothgar for a run-out or roll up something new.
- make newly-rolled-up characters come in below the party average level
- let them die if things go that way. It's hard to advance in level when you're dead. :)

Lan-"8 years in and the highest-level PC in my current campaign is getting close to 10th, but 3 of those came from a lucky Deck effect"-efan
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
And assuming both you and I were over 35 at the time, and seeing that we're both here still, it makes it kinda hard accusing them of doing it wrongly...
To me it doesn't make it hard at all; I sometimes feel like I'm still here in spite of their decisions rather than because of them.

Lanefan
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If they counted on old players getting the new edition regardless, I can see the logic in that move.

And assuming both you and I were over 35 at the time, and seeing that we're both here still, it makes it kinda hard accusing them of doing it wrongly...

If the question is asked to find out what the longest campaign players have played in is, yes, removing everyone over the age of 35 wrecks the poll. Being here or not being here is irrelevant to that question.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The longest campaign I was in lasted 8-10 years. I didn't like the duration that much. Why? Because unless the DM is going to DM "epic"/high level PCs and do it well, you are going to end up stuck at each level for a very, very, very long time. While I love RP and the social aspects of the game, I also like to feel like I'm advancing my character and not just spinning my wheels.
 



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