D&D 5E How crunchy is D&D 5E

How crunchy is D&D 5E?

  • 1 -- improv storytelling with no mechanics

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3 -- rules light/narrative style games

    Votes: 3 1.9%
  • 4

    Votes: 17 10.7%
  • 5 -- rules medium

    Votes: 69 43.4%
  • 6

    Votes: 55 34.6%
  • 7 -- rules heavy/crunchy games

    Votes: 14 8.8%
  • 8

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • 9 -- rules ultra-heavy

    Votes: 0 0.0%

cbwjm

Legend
I put down 6, though thinking about it in comparison to earlier editions and the pathfinder games I've now changed it to 5. 3e/4e I'd probably put around 7 or 8 so I needed room for them in the upper numbers.
 

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I think it's too crunchy to be properly "Rules Medium," but definitely not crunchy enough to be "Rules Heavy," so 6 is the only workable option.

The main problem with 5e vis-a-vis most "Rules Medium" games is how much it emphasizes the "ask your DM" side of things. That's usually a feature of ultra-light games (albeit ones that still have some rules), but 5e is frankly aggressive about making the DM responsible for actively approving or denying absolutely every rule no matter what, despite having a fair number of rules.
 

This is so true. As someone who pretty much left the hobby after 2E, then drifted back in with 5E, I know I find 5E harder to DM than I ever did 1 or 2E.
I know I've frequently complained that for all it's excellent for the players to make characters in 5e the DM's side of the table is nowhere near as good. And I've noticed that although the DM to Player ratio is nowhere near its 3.X nadir it has absolutely plummeted from its 4e high.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Voted 6; crunchier than most RPGs I know, not as much as some other that I know.

it went down a notch from 3.x/PF1, bringing it back into the (upper tier of) sweet spot for me
 



It's "technically" variable as there are a number of Subsystems within 5E that can be added/removed/ignored and the on again/off again rules lite nature of 5E with its focus on refluffing, rulings not rules, and materials can make 5E as crunchy or light as you want.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I think that 5e is somewhere between 6 and 7 in the crunch factor, but I rounded up to 7.

That's true. But when you sit down with a player to have them choose a spell, they still face 5, 5000 or 5000000 options that they, theorically, have to go through to make a well-informed decision. It doesn't add rules, but definitely adds weight. It's a matter of perspective, but for me, if you had a very simple game with only a few rules but with 2000 different spells to choose from, I would not consider it a lite game. The complexity of your rules and the amount of information you have to parse through are both factors of crunchiness/heaviness for me.
There is also the issue of potential rules interactions between those various spells. As @Umbran suggests, these are a lot of moving parts.

Sure. But that's not a complex game, it's just one with a big selection. As I said, I don't consider that rules heavy.

We disagree on the definition.
Then why poll us at all? Just declare that 5e is not that crunchy and be done with the kangaroo court.
 



Solid 5.
Not more, not less.

I strongly support the distinction from umbran and morrus. The game itself is not very complicated. Children that can add a few numbers can play a character from dnd and be efficient enough.

The rules boil down to tell what you want to do. Get a target number and an ability to roll on. Roll high.
 
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And I've noticed that although the DM to Player ratio is nowhere near its 3.X nadir it has absolutely plummeted from its 4e high.
For all my criticism of 5e in terms of player-facing stuff, this is by far the worst way it abandoned something from 4e. The tools, advice, and information in 4e to support effective DMing were some of the best the game has ever offered, and it is a genuine shame that 5e took such a radically different path on that front. I understand that they were concerned with the "DM feeling hemmed in by rules" problem, but such a radical flip to "you're the DM, you figure it out!" was not necessary.
 
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TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I went with a 6 but there's a non-zero chance I'm unconsiously adding in crunch from previous editions that isn't reflected accurately in 5e ... so maybe I should've voted a 5 instead LOL!

Not to hijack the thread, but would love to hear other people's ideas of what constitutes a 10. Rolemaster & PF2 have been mentioned, any others people think ?
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I went with a 6 but there's a non-zero chance I'm unconsiously adding in crunch from previous editions that isn't reflected accurately in 5e ... so maybe I should've voted a 5 instead LOL!

Not to hijack the thread, but would love to hear other people's ideas of what constitutes a 10. Rolemaster & PF2 have been mentioned, any others people think ?
Actually, Rolemaster isn’t that crunchy. It has like a million tables and numbers are higher due to RM using d100, but 3.x D&D (which was really similar to Rolemaster using d20 instead of d100, minus tables) was crunchier than RM in my opinion with feats, prestige class, and all. RM is a notch or two above 5e D&D, but not a 10.

I remember Shadowrun being pretty crunchy (cant recall which edition I played) and so were a few early 90s RPGs whose character sheets felt like a tax-report form (especially when printed on continuous stationary with sprocket holes still attached), but I wonder to what extent they really were that rule-heavy.
 


Audiomancer

Explorer
How crunchy is 5E?

Well, my wife bought an air fryer in a Black Friday sale, so over the weekend I chucked my spare PHB inside and fired it up for 4 minutes. Served it up with an IPA I got from a local brew pub.

The front and back covers came out pretty crisp, but the interior pages were actually still pretty chewy.

About a 3 overall, I’d say.
 

Aldarc

Legend
So let's be clear here. It seems that we have three descriptors floating around this thread: (1) complicated, (2) complex, and (3) crunchy. @Umbran does not believe that the first two are synonymous, and I agree with his assessment. But does establishing the distinction between (1) and (2) necessarily answer the question of the OP: how (3) crunchy is 5e D&D? Or even address how (1) complicated or (2) complex 5e D&D is?
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I went with a 6 but there's a non-zero chance I'm unconsiously adding in crunch from previous editions that isn't reflected accurately in 5e ... so maybe I should've voted a 5 instead LOL!

Not to hijack the thread, but would love to hear other people's ideas of what constitutes a 10. Rolemaster & PF2 have been mentioned, any others people think ?
Oof. I'd say Hero System/Champions and GURPS.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So let's be clear here. It seems that we have three descriptors floating around this thread: (1) complicated, (2) complex, and (3) crunchy.

Well, I gave mine because I think some folks were dismissing the idea that having more content (being complicated) was an issue, when I think it can be.

But does establishing the distinction between (1) and (2) necessarily answer the question of the OP: how (3) crunchy is 5e D&D? Or even address how (1) complicated or (2) complex 5e D&D is?

No, and it wasn't intended to.

These are all relative terms. There is no International Standard Unit of "crunchiness" , like there is for length or mass. You can at best answer whether you think 5e is crunchy compared to some other game. And I don't think comparing it to the "average" game will help, because we will all have constructed our concept of "average" based off our own experiences with various systems, and we all have different experiences.
 
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So let's be clear here. It seems that we have three descriptors floating around this thread: (1) complicated, (2) complex, and (3) crunchy. @Umbran does not believe that the first two are synonymous, and I agree with his assessment. But does establishing the distinction between (1) and (2) necessarily answer the question of the OP: how (3) crunchy is 5e D&D? Or even address how (1) complicated or (2) complex 5e D&D is?

To me, "crunchy" deals with the rigidness of the rules, not just the complexity. "Magic A is Magic A, Magic B is Magic B" type stuff, regardless of how deep the systems are for either A or B. Game design like the Firefly RPG or Dread that actively encourage the GM to decide on the fly, for purposes of dramatic effect, whether or not a die roll is needed are inherently low on the crunchiness scale (gummy?). Elements like the different ship scales in WEG Star Wars d6 are baked in crunchiness, because the game explicitly tells you what is and isn't allowed in certain situations (i.e. you can't just punch a Star Destroyer).

To some extent, this also means that crunchiness isn't just about the rules themselves. It's about the application of rules, and therefore about the community as well. Some OSR groups are all about adhering strongly to previous edition rules and are very crunchy, while the free kriegsspiel side of things is much more gummy. It's also about the evolution of a ruleset. D&D 2e and 3e got much crunchier over time as more rules were released, which codified mechanics that were left to interpretation when the system was first published. 5e is removing some crunch over time, as they do things like eliminate racial ASIs and good/evil mechanics.
 
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