D&D 5E If it fails, this is one reason why...

Li Shenron

Legend
Now these questions points to expectations and definitions of what makes an edition an edition.

...

It is possible for one edition to be compatible with other.

But also, what is the expectation and definition of "compatible"?

If you expect to use stuff "as-is", then this is a very strong concept of compatibility, and this is what I said that never happened and is unreasonable to expect.

You clearly don't have such a strong requirement when calling two editions compatible. You call 3.0, 3.5 and PF "compatible", but in fact a lot of people don't say just that they are compatible, they say that they are the same edition :)

Still, you probably don't call BECMI and 4e compatible. But that doesn't mean they are incompatible at any cost, just that the amount of adjustments needed (e.g. to bring a BECMI PC into a 4e game) is too much according to your judgement. "Too much" however wouldn't even necessarily stop you from doing so.

But mileage varies a lot... A "legal" PC designed in 3.0 might be "illegal" in 3.5 (i.e. not possible to design exactly identical with the latter rules). Is it enough to call these two sub-editions incompatible? I already know your answer, but I also remember how much a lot of people cared that WotC reprinted their favourite prestige classes "updated" to 3.5. With the two sub-editions being largely similar, wouldn't they have just used the 3.0 version without worrying? This is just an example to say that expectations on what "compatible" means vary.

My previous post was a remark on the fact that, if someone has a strong concept of compatibility, it's impossible for 5e to provide that. A minimum of adjustments is certainly required.

Bounded accuracy can very much increase that minimum. Stats like attack bonus and ability/skill check bonuses don't scale the same way in 5e as they did in 3e/4e, therefore old adventures and monsters may not work as expected in 5e. Conversion is needed in the DCs and attack bonuses.
 

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Wicht

Hero
But also, what is the expectation and definition of "compatible"?

If you expect to use stuff "as-is", then this is a very strong concept of compatibility, and this is what I said that never happened and is unreasonable to expect.

You clearly don't have such a strong requirement when calling two editions compatible. You call 3.0, 3.5 and PF "compatible", but in fact a lot of people don't say just that they are compatible, they say that they are the same edition :)

If there's really this "huge market" for 3E material... where are all the 3PPs still producing stuff for them? Sure, a couple companies make stuff for Pathfinder... but I don't see many (if any) still making stuff for 3.5.

Defcon, to answer your point, according to Li Shenron, anyone making Pathfinder stuff is making 3.0 stuff and supporting that edition. :D

Now actually, I don't believe they are the same edition. They are clearly three different editions, with changes between each one. But the reason some of us make Pathfinder and not 3.5 stuff is because, either we think Pathfinder is the superior edition, or we think the Pathfinder marketplace more accessible. In point of fact, there is at least one company (adventureaweek.com) which produces dual stats for both editions.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that WotC has poisoned the well a little on what people expect from a new edition. Traditionally, a new edition should either be expected to keep the flavor of the old edition or the rules of the older edition as it updates. The rule changes from Vasic to Advanced to 2e flowed naturally and the flavor remained largely the same. 3e changed the rules in substantial ways, but the flavor of the game remained so that the majority of us that converted did so pretty naturally. 4e (and now 5e) are the odd balls in the edition game, in that each one purports to reinvent the game completely. I have plenty of RPGs of various editions, most of which merely reflect minor changes over time to the rules of the game. That's what I really would appreciate from a new edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

It also makes sense, from a market perspective. Dungeons and Dragons is grandfather of role-playing games. Tradition should be one of its strongest assets, but the marketing arm of WotC seems to want to stess innovation, over tradition, which I think, for them, is a sad mistake. That's not to say innovation can't play a role, but it should, for them, take a back seat to tradition.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Don't you think that if the first Magic of Incarnum book had actually made any money in the first place, Wizards would have put a second book into production? The fact that they didn't is a pretty good indication that nobody wanted the original one, let alone all these mythical supplements for it.
Well, admittedly, MoI is probably a bad example. :) But a Book of 9 Swords II would have sold, I have no doubt. As would a PHB3, or an Unearthed Arcana 2.

If there's really this "huge market" for 3E material... where are all the 3PPs still producing stuff for them? Sure, a couple companies make stuff for Pathfinder... but I don't see many (if any) still making stuff for 3.5. Why is that? Maybe it's because the number of people who would actually buy it is far, far less than the money it would cost to produce the stupid thing.
Most people who liked buying 3.5 crunch, switched to Pathfinder because it was the source of new crunch. People who liked 3.5 the way it is didn't need new crunch anyway, and probably kept playing 3.5. Personally, I like 3.5 better than PF, but, you know, new crunch!

A handful of people shouting "support old editions!" now means absolutely nothing. Because if there were enough of you people to make it finacially viable... you would have bought the all supplements they were selling at the time they were actually produced. Thereby keeping the line active to begin with.
I'm saying they need a different vision of how to make revenues that isn't based around "sell lots of core books, and then keep producing supplements so the line is active so more people buy core books, than make new core books once everyone has the old ones". And I think leveraging 40 years of products onto an online marketplace, with a subscription model similar to Paizo's could work quite well for them.
 

Argyle King

Legend
If I had to pick out a reason why 5E won't do well, my opinion would be that it's because the core of the game isn't currently strong enough or stable enough to support a modular approach. WoTC also seems to be approaching being modular from a point of view which is different than I feel they should.

I'm not convinced that "bounded accuracy" works as advertised. There's still a very wide range of character numbers even without magic items coming into play. More specifically, I've noticed a rather large difference between the pregen characters and characters which have been put together by players. Optimization is something which always happens in D&D; there's a reason for why "power gamer" is a recognized style of play. However, I was really surprised to see such a drastic difference during the Encounters season which wrapped up at the local game store yesterday. Even at low levels (1-3,) there was a significant difference in abilities and damage values.

Another thing which surprised me during yesterday's session was that a lot of "grind" seems to be creeping back into D&D. I can't yet place my finger on exactly what caused it. Suffice to say, the final encounter had been going on for nearly an hour before we had to cut it short (and have the GM simply declare we had won) because the manager of the game store was getting ready to close. In defense of 5th Edition, I do think it may have been a fluke brought on by a lot of party members who had great utility powers (such as a mage who had prepared web several times,) but not a lot of offense (despite one of the characters being a hard hitting barbarian.) I'll also offer in defense of 5E that Murder In Balder's Gate is structured in such a way that it kind of drags along at times. Still, it somehow seemed odd, and there have been a few times when it seemed as though the options I had available to me weren't really all that meaningful; so, I resorted to just doing a regular attack with a weapon and hoping to hack through more HP or casting magic missile.

Note: Due to some players not showing up for a few sessions, I ended up switching back and forth between two characters a few times. I played both a Dwarven Fighter and an Elven Mage.

At any rate, my point is that there are still many things concerning the core of the game which don't seem quite right. Yes, they are working on that. Yes, they will (hopefully) fix those things. But, in a few cases, I ponder if what I view as being wrong is actually viewed as being wrong by the design direction. Maybe those aspects of the game work the way they are supposed to, or maybe those problems just haven't been noticed. (For what it's worth, I have filled out the surveys, but I largely feel my input made no difference.)

The other issue I mentioned in the beginning of this post was approaching modularity in a way that's different than I expected. The idea seems to be that the different modules can be added to change how the game works. A particular module might make the core game feel more like 3rd edition; meanwhile, a different module might make the core game feel more like 2nd. That seems to be the idea. I applaud that idea as far as the stated goal of uniting the fans goes. However, the problem I see is that style of modularity seems designed to change how the fundamental core of the game works. I believe that may lead to problems when groups attempt to use more than one module. I also believe, if the core game isn't very sturdy to begin with, changing how the core works could break the core foundations of the game.

Normally, what I expect from a modular system is a strong core which creates a consistent foundation. Then, what the modules do is offer more detail for a particular aspect of the core. The modules shouldn't change how the core works, but should instead build upon the sturdy foundation that a strong core provides. While this does mean the core has to be more robust than what 5E seems to be going for with the basic game, it has the benefit of allowing multiple modules to be added without breaking the game. It takes more work, but it is something that can be done. There are other game companies who have done it, and have pulled it off successfully; the idea of a modular rpg system isn't a new concept.

The worry that I have for 5E is -as I said- that the core of the game isn't solid enough to provide a game that works. (Though, hopefully, that will change as design moves forward.) Bounded accuracy isn't there yet, and, even when it is, I'm not sure that it's going to mean what people think it's going to mean. To some extent, I'm concerned that the design needs more work to be ready than what is possible within the time frame many seem to believe 5E will be released in.

It may be that everything works out. There's no way for me to know for sure because I cannot see what the finished product is. It may very well be that the finished product is light years ahead of where the playtest packets currently are, and all of the modules are awesome. It's possible, but there's no way for me to know, so I can only speak on behalf of what I see right now. Where I am right now is that I don't feel comfortable blindly buying the product before seeing it and having experience with it. In the past, I blindly purchased a lot of D&D products, but it's been a long time since I have. In fact, the last time was when I purchased the core 4E books. Today, I don't feel comfortable doing that. Part of the reason is because I was unhappy enough times in a row during the recent past to now longer feel a loyalty toward the brand. Part of the reason is because now I've been exposed to other companies and other products and have realized I like what they're doing more than I like the D&D brand; as such, WoTC is now competing with other companies when it comes to my wallet. I'm not opposed to supporting more than one game; I currently play several, but I'm at a point where saying yes to buying a D&D product is my default stance; currently, I need more convincing.

I currently do not plan to buy the core game. I may change my mind after seeing the finished product, but right now my plan is to give it a pass. I don't feel comfortable blindly purchasing it.
 

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