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


I suspect that 95% of the confusion and disagreement in this thread is due to the word "transparent" regularly being treated as if it means something along the lines if "clearly quantified, ranked and priced".
I have a sneaking suspicion that you are correct. To me, transparent means exactly what it says on the tin. We can know, because the system tells us, how a particular value has been determined. Because we know how this value has been arrived at, we can then make an informed decision as to whether that particular value is the best value for whatever it is we are doing at the time, or should we ignore those values and substitute our own?

In an opaque system, we have no idea. Why is a Potion of Superior Healing a Rare magic item? Well, mostly it's rare because the next level down of Potion of Healing is an Uncommon item. Not a particularly good answer, really. Why is a ring of protection more rare than a cloak of protection? Again, we have no idea.

Someone upthread asked why goblins have less HP than ogres. Well, the system tells us exactly why. A goblin has a CR of X (I don't have my books in front of me, so, the exact value isn't all that important to this discussion) which is lower than an ogre's CR. So, a goblin has less HP than an ogre. If the goblin had a higher CR (maybe it's a goblin champion of some sort) then we would expect the goblin's HP to be higher than the ogre's. And we know this because the system for determining CR is spelled out in considerable detail in the DMG.

Yet, apparently, knowing exactly how a dragon's HP and Ac and CR and whatnot are determined somehow doesn't diminish the sense of wonder of dragons in the game. Yet, again, apparently, if we were to apply the same level of detail to magic items, it would make magic items humdrum and boring. Not exactly sure how that works.

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That guidance might boil down to 'trial and error', which when it comes to developing one's style has IMO always been the best method anyway.

Sure and you’ve slowly kitbashed your game over the course of decades. And while I appreciate that and admire your dedication, I really don’t think that is or should be the norm.

The best a DMG could do would be to offer conflicting suggestions (e.g. to tell the DCs or not to; to roll in the open or not, etc.) and tell DMs to choose, which would open the designers wipe to accusations of not being able to make up their minds.

Two responses to that.

One, a lot of the design is already noncommittal. The text of the 5e books often avoids committing to any one way. A bit of a necessity to try and appease multiple fanbases at the time of its release. I think we’re past such… formalities.

Two, the designers are going to catch flak no matter what, so who cares? If it’s not this, it’ll be something else.

"...what they might mean...", as no two players are the same and nor are any two DMs.

No, that’s not always true at all. @pemerton has already given some examples, but I’ll throw a really basic one out there. In my 5e game, I always provide a DC to any and all checks prior to the roll. Additionally, all rolls are made in the open for all to see. As a result, everyone at the table knows that the results are genuine. That there is no fudging happening.

Alternatively, if DCs were hidden, as I know you often prefer, perhaps doubt about the sense of difficulty could be maintained if so desired.

These things won’t vary from person to person… they’re simply true. What one may prefer will vary, but that’s not the same thing.

Or they get to do whatever they want/whatever it takes in order to make their players' experience better.

One would hope… but those arguing against this don’t seem to be doing so for anyone other than the DM.

Or perhaps they do so with the idea that the DM always knows what’s best for the players. To be honest, this idea is no more comforting.

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