D&D General Hot Take: D&D Has Not Recovered From 2E to 3.0 Transition

Zardnaar

Legend
Mechanically and in a game design/balance perspective. And I'm not talking about 2E being a paragon of perfection either.

For the most part I'm considering magic and the traditional lvl 1-9 spells. 4E did identify some big problems and essentially rewrite the game and created new problems for itself. So it was still effected by and flawed from the 2E to 3.0 transition.

One big problem is saving throws and how they scale. In old D&D saves genuine got better to the point you could expect to reliably save 75-95% of the time. This made save or suck spells very risky to use. Which also made warrior types useful to have around.

5E toned this down a bit and you can save every round. But the gulf between a good and bad save can still be very severe. Consider you get hit with a wisdom save (dex is probably damage, con probably poison or cold or another damage type). Level 6 I'll go with an 18 in your primary stat.

Cleric or Druid +7 (18 wisdom, +3 proficiency)
Wizard +3 (proficiency+ability mod probably +0-+2
Non proficient+0 (ability modifier) or even -1

That's a difference of up to +8 between a good and bad saves. Bad saves do not scale but DC's scale both off proficiency bonus but also the casters prime attribute. At higher level that's a 12 point difference between a good and bad save but the DC has gone from around 13 to 19. Your bad save is gonna flunk the save 85-90% of the time so a save every round doesn't matter to much. 3E you can flunk 95% of the time potentially even on your good saves. It's not to hard to guess what saves to target if you can't intelligence and charisma saves are good to target unless they're an arcane spellcaster of some sort.

Conceptually 4E at least got this right.

Magic and spell resistance. An AD&D 2E mind flayer was 90% immune to a spell effecting it and even 3E had a weakened form if it. The 5E version is mostly a joke due to saves and you can get around it partially via save for half spells or just use spells with no save.

You might be fine with this conceptually but remember 5E has resistance and immunity to non magical weapons in it. Defenses to weapon attacks are actually stronger than defenses to magic when the real problem is actually the spellcasting. And everyone has spells. On class tier lists Fighters, Monks, Rogues are normally near the bottom hanging out with the artificer a class weak at damage and spells.

Once again 4E did at least solve this conceptually by removing both weapon and magical resistances. Not the best solution imho but they correctly identified the problem at least.

My preferred solution to this is the 3.5 minis game where they had SR/MR of 6 or 11 and you had to beat that on a d20 roll for your spell to effect the target. Nice quick simple but I would add a 16 to that number range. Our new Mind flayer with MR of 16 in effect has 75% MR in AD&D terms.

This also has the added advantage of future proofing any broken spells added to the game latter on and ensuring martials remain relevant lattervas buffing them becomes a better strategy than risking 75% spell failure (or 50%). 25% is an acceptable risk to me to nuke away (SR6).

The final thing is damage dealing spells and scaling damage. In 5E cantrips scale direct damage doesn't. Outside of a few spells eg fireball direct damage and upcasting sucks. An upcast hold person to a 4th level slot effects 3 targets a 200% increase. Upcast fireball in a 4th level slot is a 12% approximately boost.

Scaling direct damage has never been a problem since 2000 or perhaps even 1989 2E. Uncapped scaling in a low HP environment (pre 2E) is a problem.

Remember the Warmage in 3.5 and the game breaking and dominating combos it could do? Neither do I and 5E bloated hit point total nerf that even further. The 8d6 fireball in 5E is roughly equivalent to a 3d6 AD&D fireball (sometimes 2d6 or 4d6 depending on encounter).

Direct damage scaling spells are not the problem with D&D at least in modern era. Fireballs last days of glory was 2E which died 22 years ago. It's only good in 5E compared to even worse DD spells.

These are the big three things still an issue now due to the decisions made from transitioning to 3.0. There's other things as well from way spells were cast/interrupted through to how fast 5E characters level but these are the big ones with fairly simple solutions.

1. Defenses that scale better.

2. Redo SR/MR or ditch that and weapon resistances/immunity.

3. Fixing direct damage spells relative to save it suck type spells (overlaps with 1).

I suspect they will go with rewrites and nerfs and probably screw that up via missing things.

And as always ban Kender.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Hotter take: This isn't a hot take.

Hottest take: 5e's inordinate success is because of the way that it skillfully turned away from 3e and 4e (while maintaining the most useful advances) and deliberately went back to a TSR-era framework.

Galaxy brained take: All of this edition nonsense is just a way we use to mark time while avoiding the emptiness of our lives and waiting for the eventual heat-death of the universe.
 



payn

Legend
3e screwed up save progression, 4e fixed it by dramatically changing the fundamental structute of the game, 5e went back to 3e’s structure but broke saves again in the process.
Star Wars Adulthood GIF
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
There is a whole lot to dislike about the stock simplicity of 5e. I know that appeals to some gamers here but I am not one of them. At least with later books, some actual choices are introduced to the game in terms of PC development.

HOWEVER, the underlying math in 5e is the one thing they got right. The math was also WRONG in 1e and 2e. The implicit suggestion here is that it wasn't. That's bonkers.

At risk of further threadcrapping into this discusson - the premise of which I wholly reject -- that's my .02.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
HOWEVER, the underlying math in 5e is the one thing they got right. The math was also WRONG in 1e and 2e. The implicit suggestion here is that it wasn't. That's bonkers.

That's a common error. The math cannot be wrong. Just the people using it.

27ced4b2ee55e9a10e83db3d60cbb1c6_w200.gif


Remember- there's only two kinds of math. The kind you understand, and the kind you aren't clever enough to get yet.

I prefer the second kind for my taxes.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
There is a whole lot to dislike about the stock simplicity of 5e. I know that appeals to some gamers here but I am not one of them. At least with later books, some actual choices are introduced to the game in terms of PC development.

HOWEVER, the underlying math in 5e is the one thing they got right. The math was also WRONG in 1e and 2e. The implicit suggestion here is that it wasn't. That's bonkers.

At risk of further threadcrapping into this discusson - the premise of which I wholly reject -- that's my .02.
Depends on what standard you’re using to assess the correctness of the math. 5e’s math is certainly right for what 5e is trying to do. If you don’t like what 5e is trying to do, you might get the impression that the math is “wrong.” Likewise for AD&D and its goals.
 

Oofta

Legend
I always find these "the most successful version of the game ever is broken" threads. What can I say. I've played all versions and 5E is my favorite. It holds together better for me at all levels, it's not accidentally deadly although it wouldn't be that hard to get TPKs most combat if I tried.

Do you remember the olden days of wizards casting one spell per day and then ineffectively in the back? How failing one save meant you were just SOL? Having a caddy to carry all your weapons in 3.x? Having a predefined treadmill of what plus your weapon should be based on level in 4? Pepperidge Farm does. So do I.

I like the math for the most part in 5E. Yes, the saves and proficiency bonuses can be too all over the board for my taste but at least all PCs have a weakness somewhere, although dex should be toned down. Bounded accuracy works well for me, I just threw some cannon fodder level 8 monsters at my level 17 party and it worked as intended. I couldn't have done that in previous editions.

No edition is perfect, D&D has done the best so far for me and the games I run and play.
 

Still a misconception of saving throws. 5e saving throws resembel 4e saving throws as a duration mechanic. But sadly some spells just ignore that. At least, onednd seems to acknowledge it and give banishment a save every round.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
IMO, old school saves and spell resistance weren't great. They made sense in their context, particularly the way AD&D saves scaled. There were a lot of save or die effects, so having a high chance for successfully saving with a heavily invested character made sense.

That said, heavy blanket defenses like old school saves, spell resistance, and +x weapon immunity just make the game drag unless you have tools to ignore them. It's like two turtles whacking away at each other until one of them gets a lucky shot in and ends the other. IOW, the least exciting game of rocket tag one could likely imagine.

Admittedly, that's not the whole story. Mages were weak against things like Mind Flayers, but Fighters could (potentially) pick up the slack. Fighters were useless against a creature with +x immunity if their weapon was < x, but the Mages could potentially pick up the slack.

The issue there is that (IMO) sidelining characters is a terrible way to design monsters. Especially for an adventure that features particular creatures heavily, certain characters could end up feeling like the appendix of the party. I'll grant, you COULD design an encounter where some elements were intended for certain characters, while others were intended for others, and the key was figuring that out. However, that's by no means a given.

I think 5e's approach of dialing down severity (very little SoD) while also reducing the ability to turtle is very good design.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
3E you can flunk 95% of the time potentially even on your good saves.
That doesn't strike me as being the case. A 20th-level spellcaster who starts with an 18 in their spellcasting stat, uses a +6 enhancement bonus item to boost it, has received a +5 inherent bonus to it, is putting all five of their ability increases into it, and is casting a 9th-level spell which they have Greater Spell Focus in, will have a save DC of 33.

A 20th-level character using their good save against that spell will have a +12 from the base save value. If we presume that they have a cloak of resistance +5 (only 25,000 gp for a +5 resistance bonus to all saves), and we conservatively estimate that their relevant stat for the save is 20 (for another +5 bonus), that's a total of +22 to the save, meaning that they succeed on an 11 or above (i.e. a 50% chance of success).

Now obviously, you can tweak those numbers in a lot of ways for a lot of different circumstances, but there has to be a pretty huge disparity to have an instance where you can only succeed on a natural 20 on your good save.
 

Mechanically and in a game design/balance perspective. And I'm not talking about 2E being a paragon of perfection either.
3e streamlined things in many ways... but also broke more then a few bits. Several of those broken bits are still in 5e.
For the most part I'm considering magic and the traditional lvl 1-9 spells. 4E did identify some big problems and essentially rewrite the game and created new problems for itself.
4e had very different flaws from 3e/5e, however going backwards from 3e to 5e is a big annoyance in my book. 4e fixed a lot of what was wrong with 3e, and 5e went back to it. Instead I wish they had fixed the 4e flaws.
One big problem is saving throws and how they scale. In old D&D saves genuine got better to the point you could expect to reliably save 75-95% of the time. This made save or suck spells very risky to use. Which also made warrior types useful to have around.
this is one of my biggest issues with 5e. You get WORSE at saving vs anything of your challenge as you level.
Conceptually 4E at least got this right.
I think the 'all the stuff goes up' is heavily misunderstood. I much prefer the idea that everyone gets better as you level.
Magic and spell resistance. An AD&D 2E mind flayer was 90% immune to a spell effecting it and even 3E had a weakened form if it. The 5E version is mostly a joke due to saves and you can get around it partially via save for half spells or just use spells with no save.
I think the legendary resistance is a step in the right direction... but it still needs some fine tuneing.
Once again 4E did at least solve this conceptually by removing both weapon and magical resistances. Not the best solution imho but they correctly identified the problem at least.
I think the current "half damage" resist is again going in the right direction even if the exact nature of it needs some fine tuning.
Scaling direct damage has never been a problem since 2000 or perhaps even 1989 2E. Uncapped scaling in a low HP environment (pre 2E) is a problem.

Remember the Warmage in 3.5 and the game breaking and dominating combos it could do? Neither do I and 5E bloated hit point total nerf that even further. The 8d6 fireball in 5E is roughly equivalent to a 3d6 AD&D fireball (sometimes 2d6 or 4d6 depending on encounter).
yeah I just want wizards (all casters really) to have to pick a lane you can't damage AND sod...
And as always ban Kender.
I normally agree but I am willing to give the new write up a chance
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Kinda odd people complain about martial/spellcaster divide I identify that which is contributing to it and yeah.

The save disparity also mean the classes that can exploit it the best also have the best defenses against it.

The marial classes defenses mostly are just damage with the spellcasters can mitigate as well with low level spells eg absorb elements.

Spell DCs scale 6 saves don't it's not just one weakness it's multiple ones.
 

I always find these "the most successful version of the game ever is broken" threads.
that's easy... just find anyone that wants to propose any change to the current model since the current one has always out sold the one before it.
No edition is perfect, D&D has done the best so far for me and the games I run and play.
right since no edition is perfect we need to be able to discuss making every/any edition better
 

Zardnaar

Legend
That doesn't strike me as being the case. A 20th-level spellcaster who starts with an 18 in their spellcasting stat, uses a +6 enhancement bonus item to boost it, has received a +5 inherent bonus to it, is putting all five of their ability increases into it, and is casting a 9th-level spell which they have Greater Spell Focus in, will have a save DC of 33.

A 20th-level character using their good save against that spell will have a +12 from the base save value. If we presume that they have a cloak of resistance +5 (only 25,000 gp for a +5 resistance bonus to all saves), and we conservatively estimate that their relevant stat for the save is 20 (for another +5 bonus), that's a total of +22 to the save, meaning that they succeed on an 11 or above (i.e. a 50% chance of success).

Now obviously, you can tweak those numbers in a lot of ways for a lot of different circumstances, but there has to be a pretty huge disparity to have an instance where you can only succeed on a natural 20 on your good save.

I saw DCs in the 40's before level 20 more like low teens.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Kinda odd people complain about martial/spellcaster divide I identify that which is contributing to it and yeah.

The save disparity also mean the classes that can exploit it the best also have the best defenses against it.

The marial classes defenses mostly are just damage with the spellcasters can mitigate as well with low level spells eg absorb elements.

Spell DCs scale 6 saves don't it's not just one weakness it's multiple ones.
Because (IMO) the way to fix the caster/martial divide isn't to give the casters all sorts of cool powers and then make it so that they can't ever stick the power at high levels.

Let the casters have cool powers that actually work. Just make martials better than they currently are.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
that's easy... just find anyone that wants to propose any change to the current model since the current one has always out sold the one before it.

right since no edition is perfect we need to be able to discuss making every/any edition better

Not strictly btrue. Numbers we have is each edition has sold less than the one before it with 5E being an exception and 4E numbers are unknown.
 

Not strictly btrue. Numbers we have is each edition has sold less than the one before it with 5E being an exception and 4E numbers are unknown.
according to wotc (and I don't care if you believe them or not) 3e out sold 2e, 3.5 out sold 3e. 4e outsold 3.5, and 5e out sold 4e by such an order of magnitude it isn't even funny... now maybe 1e outsold 2e (I don't know) but 3e didn't out sell 4e and 4e didn't out sell 5e.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top