D&D 5E Does/Should D&D Have the Player's Game Experience as a goal?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
13th Age does it with its core book. And that's one book, covering both player options and DM options in a single volume.

I haven't read or played 13th Age so I can't speak to it. Most importantly, I cannot agree or disagree that 13th Age "does it" - not only have I not read the game, but the "it" is pretty vague, poorly defined. Slightly less importantly, I don't know if, given the same scrutiny D&D gets, 13th Age would be broadly found to "do it" satisfactorily. It is not clear to me that 13th Age is judged the way D&D is judged.

I'm pretty sure D&D can manage with three books. It'd just require a little editing to cut down on the bloated spell list, or some of the rather profligate page-wasting in the DMG.

Well, you see there's a thing - D&D is expected (by the players) to have a lot of spells (and skills) that, quickly reading, are handled completely differently in 13th Age.

D&D is locked into an overall design architecture, and folks scream bloody murder every time they change something. Again, quickly reading, this seems a large part of why Heinsoo and Tweet made their game - to jettison a lot of legacy, and had a freedom to do so that D&D just doesn't have.

It has not in any way been established that you can "do it" just as easily with any game architecture.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I haven't read or played 13th Age so I can't speak to it. Most importantly, I cannot agree or disagree that 13th Age "does it" - not only have I not read the game, but the "it" is pretty vague, poorly defined. Slightly less importantly, I don't know if, given the same scrutiny D&D gets, 13th Age would be broadly found to "do it" satisfactorily. It is not clear to me that 13th Age is judged the way D&D is judged.



Well, you see there's a thing - D&D is expected (by the players) to have a lot of spells (and skills) that, quickly reading, are handled completely differently in 13th Age.

D&D is locked into an overall design architecture, and folks scream bloody murder every time they change something. Again, quickly reading, this seems a large part of why Heinsoo and Tweet made their game - to jettison a lot of legacy, and had a freedom to do so that D&D just doesn't have.

It has not in any way been established that you can "do it" just as easily with any game architecture.
I just refuse to believe that it is somehow impossible to just...tell people what you're doing and why. That this is somehow such an onerous burden that it could never, ever be achieved.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Not that I disagree with what you're saying, but there are many folks who consider D&D to be exactly that... a toolbox.

I know. This is, in part, why I felt it important to differentiate between what designers thought, and what players/GMs think.

Because, with all due respect, that "many folks" think it doesn't make it particularly accurate.

To some extent, any RPG an be treated like a toolbox. But, D&D isn't one in the same way that, say, Cortex Prime with its choice of three different ways to handle health/damage, and open approach to what the heck stats even are, is a toolbox.

Cortex allows me to create a game in which "damage" is to emotions and social status, and every "stat" is about a different social interaction style, and how heavy a box you can lift is not part of game mechanics. That's a toolbox. D&D as a toolbox is not comparable.

The flip side being that Cortex Prime really doesn't deliver a "core play experience", while D&D does.
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I didn't say it was impossible. So, take that up with someone who did.
So, I was not meant to take the following statement as meaning this would be an impossibility?

You say you want transparency, but if they give that transparency on everything folks often do with the game, the book would break your foot if you dropped it.
Because I don't see any other meaning to this than "the thing you want can't happen, the books would be too big."
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I know. This is, in part, why I felt it important to differentiate between what designers thought, and what players/GMs think.

Because, with all due respect, that "many folks" think it doesn't make it particularly accurate.

Sure, but I didn't want to try and correct people on such a view. Instead, I've been approaching it as if that thing may be true.

To some extent, any RPG an be treated like a toolbox. But, D&D isn't one in the same way that, say, Cortex Prime with its choice of three different ways to handle health/damage, and open approach to what the heck stats even are, is a toolbox.

Cortex allows me to create a game in which "damage" is to emotions and social status, and every "stat" is about a different social interaction style, and how heavy a box you can lift is not part of game mechanics. That's a toolbox. D&D as a toolbox is not comparable.

The flip side being that Cortex Prime really doesn't deliver a "core play experience", while D&D does.

Sure. This all seems in line with what I've been saying. Cortex is specifically designed to let the users shape the play experience.

Does D&D 5e do that? I don't think so. Some do. However, I'm less interested in trying to correct anyone's take on that than I am on discussing what it means.
 


Oofta

Legend
Because, as I have said many times, 5e was a system written for old hands. It was not a system written for the young, the inexperienced, the unsure, or the only middling-skilled. It is, in general, unwise to write your fundamental guidebooks specifically for people who already know what to do. It is, in general, better to write your fundamental guidebooks for people who have no idea what they're doing and thus significantly benefit from having things explained to them.

That doesn't mean you can afford to ignore the old hands. They're your long-time customers, you need to speak to them too. But for the core books? No. Those need to be for the folks who don't yet know what they're doing.

Books like the Rules Compendium, on the other hand, are great if they're written for old hands. Because then they can just be lean, mean rules machines, unadorned and easily-referenced.

Literally millions of people have started playing with 5E. The new players far outnumber the old hands. Claiming that people don't understand, can't possibly grasp what D&D is on it's face simply untrue.

I assure you, they do not.


"But it's just a suggestion" is exactly the problem. It is barely anything at all, and certainly not the kind of useful advice that helps fresh DMs get into the process quickly and smoothly. Or fresh players, for that matter.

If all the hooting and hollering about 5e's dramatic success is to be taken seriously, something like 90% of current D&D players are brand-new to the game. I think it would be significantly better if the books were written for that 90% of players, and not the 10% who already know what they're doing and thus barely even need books to begin with.

We've seen double digit growth for a decade, far exceeding anyone's expectations. You can posit that it could have been even more successful all you want but there is zero proof that your ideas of what the game should look like have no basis in fact.

Ah, that word, "never." Such a curious thing, isn't it? Rather depends on how you view the subject. I certainly don't agree with you that it has never been done.


Not at all. I still to this day see people asserting that the 5e DMG is one of the best ever written. It took literally ~7 years before people even remotely took seriously the idea that the 5e DMG was badly written. Voicing any criticism of it at all was met with incredulity at best and outright laughter at worst. I was very specifically told, on this very forum, that a book labelled "Dungeon Master's Guide" did not need to have any "guidance" in it whatsoever for dungeon masters. Multiple people agreed with this assessment.

So yeah. It's nowhere near the universal agreement you claim it is, and people have been burying their heads in the sand about it for most of the past decade. I am, as a result, extremely skeptical that the 5.5e DMG will be meaningfully different. Would be nice to be surprised, though.

I've never seen anyone praise the DMG on any thread. If I did, I'd disagree with them, as would the people writing the new version. The DMG needs to be redone.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Okay... according to the books, should a DM announce all DCs to players ahead of a roll? Some? Or none?

What are the advantages to each approach?

This is a pretty fundamental element of play, and one of the prime functions of the DM in play. As such, it likely deserves explicit instruction, no?
I'll answer: no! The rule are sufficient for understanding what DC is and how to use it, but whether and when to do so openly or in secret has to do with developing your personal style as a DM.

To me, that's the same as telling DMs whether or not they should role their dice in the open. For the record, I always give the DC in advance unless there's a plot reason why I can't, and the same for rolling dice in the open. But other DMs feel very strongly the other way on one or both counts, and they aren't wrong. For them.

A secondary guide book which explores different options would be fine, and that's kind of what I think the DMG should be. But it shouldn't tell you a right way or a wrong way. And there are a lot of really good 3PP on the art of DMing for those who are interested; that's the best place for this kind of material, IMO.***

***Plug for the OP: I own a bunch of The Lazy DM books and they are an excellent resource in this regard!
 

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