5E Is 5e being too stingy on fluff?

These days, with regards to 'Fluff', I believe the intention is to A) point people to previous editions' setting material available on the DMsGuild and B) introduce setting material where it makes sense in the hardcover adventures. This does appear to be a successful approach. For my part, I've been buying up all the PODs of Planescape material on DMs Guild for which I'm very grateful

Eberron is getting the full 5E campaign setting treatment this November in a book 320 pages long so it's not as if WotC is being stingy with fluff. I believe they are being prudent and business focused ( thank god for that). Eberron, while not to everyone's taste, has been hugely requested. That plus the fact the Ravnica and Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron have been very well received has demonstrated to WotC that there is a commercial basis for releasing a full setting book. Whether we get one for another setting is uncertain though.
 

JeffB

Adventurer
4th Edition D&D was my favourite edition, so to me 5th Edition has excessive fluff to wade through. Whenever I copy-paste information from the spells, monsters or classes onto a character sheet or dungeon plan, I feel compelled to shorten or delete numerous sentences, even to delete entire paragraphs.
Yep. Wordy rules. And most of it is not neccesary.
 

schneeland

Explorer
These days, with regards to 'Fluff', I believe the intention is to A) point people to previous editions' setting material available on the DMsGuild and B) introduce setting material where it makes sense in the hardcover adventures. This does appear to be a successful approach. For my part, I've been buying up all the PODs of Planescape material on DMs Guild for which I'm very grateful
The main problem with re-using content from previous editions is:
  1. It is only available in English. For other languages (e.g. German), you have to try and buy out of print books (which sometimes leads to ridiculous prices, esp. for German D&D3.0/3.5 books)
  2. Specifically w.r.t. the Forgotten Realms there is a the major revisions introduced by spell plague, time skip and second sundering, which AFAIK have no comprehensive coverage in a D&D supplement yet
But sure, having access to the old material in English is already a huge plus.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
4th Edition D&D was my favourite edition, so to me 5th Edition has excessive fluff to wade through. Whenever I copy-paste information from the spells, monsters or classes onto a character sheet or dungeon plan, I feel compelled to shorten or delete numerous sentences, even to delete entire paragraphs.
I think you’re both right here, you’re just talking about two different things and calling them both “fluff.” 5e has a preponderance or descriptive text, much of it interwoven with rules text, which was in part a reaction to the more stark division between the two in 4e. 5e is also very light on setting material. This is less obvious in contrast to 4e, which took a pretty light touch with setting, but is in stark contrast with 3e, which went into incredibly specific and thorough detail with all of its settings.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
very few settings books, it's about the fact that when they do, these books actually have very little information compared to similar books of the past.
Yep, agreed. And I think this is because what I will discuss below, but in short, it's because re-detailing a setting will only serve to split the community.
Provided you have the old books or pdfs, which I do. Some people may not.
Of course they are all for sale online on the OBS sites. So anyone who wants them, can. (note, English language versions only)
I think it's a generational thing- "younger" authors just don't "get" the material.
Also their tone is weird. I mean the books read like a Buffy script.
Here's the problem. It's not the authors style etc. Because their is no one-way to write a setting that will make everyone happy. Even among "the faithful" (i.e. grognards!) we can't agree on anyone source for an existing setting. And we all have our own favorite authors and styles.

Even if one of the original authors wrote a 5E version of a setting that has been 'touched' by a dozen authors over the years, some significant part of the customer base would not be happy with it. Some portion is going to gripe, complain and otherwise be disgruntled because it wasn't what they wanted.

In other words, it is our (the community) fault WotC doesn't re-publish an existing setting book.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The larger issue from my perspective is not the quantity of descriptive text. It is the lack of voice. Everything is written as if it came from a scientific textbook. There is no weight to the words - no emotional gravitas. When reading a bestiary the creatures should leap off the page and make me excited to use them. It is also not generally applicable to actually using the material in play. It's like nice to think about, but there is generally not much that can be used in adventure or encounter design to like bring it to life in game.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Of course they are all for sale online on the OBS sites. So anyone who wants them, can. (note, English language versions only)
I havent bought any off DMs Guild so I dont know what the quality of the scans are or what the pricing is like. I just remember WotC sometime after the launch of 3E made alot of old 2E pdfs free on their website.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
4th Edition D&D was my favourite edition, so to me 5th Edition has excessive fluff to wade through. Whenever I copy-paste information from the spells, monsters or classes onto a character sheet or dungeon plan, I feel compelled to shorten or delete numerous sentences, even to delete entire paragraphs.
I miss keywords and simple stat blocks with CLEAR effects. This 'natural language' BS might feel like reading an in-universe spellbook and all that, but this still a game and it really helps to know how stuff is supposed to work...
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
I miss keywords and simple stat blocks with CLEAR effects
4E felt too sterile to me with all the powers and effect keywords. I "SLIDE" my opponent, Your character is now "BLOODIED". It all seemed formulaic and didnt lend to spontaneity for our group I think because the changes in the mechanics were so drastic. I felt like we were following a recipe at times, but I think that it was us having trouble wrapping our heads around it.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
4E felt too sterile to me with all the powers and effect keywords. I "SLIDE" my opponent, Your character is now "BLOODIED". It all seemed formulaic and didnt lend to spontaneity for our group I think because the changes in the mechanics were so drastic. I felt like we were following a recipe at times, but I think that it was us having trouble wrapping our heads around it.
Fair enough.

I think the Bloodied condition was a brilliant bit of design they should have kept. There's a ton of Monster Abilities in 4e that hang on it and makes for interesting design. Certain creatures get WAY more dangerous to bloodied enemy, meaning your healer might have to 'top you up' earlier than they normally would to protect you, others get to do a HUGE all out attack as a reaction and Dragons usually automatically recharged their breath upon being bloodied. You could also add abilities to certain classes, like a Barbarian that gains a stronger Rage when bloodied, for exemple.

It's a good flavorful note too, instead of saying a monster is at half HP, it means you've managed to finally draw blood! Even if there's no mechanical importance it can give you the confidence to keep fighting instead of retreating "If it can bleed, then it can be killed! Let's keep at it gang!" That sort of thing.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
It's a good flavorful note too, instead of saying a monster is at half HP, it means you've managed to finally draw blood! Even if there's no mechanical importance it can give you the confidence to keep fighting instead of retreating "If it can bleed, then it can be killed! Let's keep at it gang!" That sort of thing.
I played in a 2E game where the DM kept track of everything, he never told you how much damage you took or how much damage you did, only that you hit or were hit. Now he'd let you know in a general sense of when you were getting low on HP or an opponent took significant damage or a critical, or in the event that we had no chance of hurting something he would drop us subtle clues. It really made for intense combat as he never said you crit, you took 18 points of damage, etc. It may seem heavy handed and took some of the fun away from the players by him rolling their dice for them, but because he was fair and descriptive it was actually really fun and added to the suspense. More trouble than Im willing to put in as a DM though.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I played in a 2E game where the DM kept track of everything, he never told you how much damage you took or how much damage you did, only that you hit or were hit. Now he'd let you know in a general sense of when you were getting low on HP or an opponent took significant damage or a critical, or in the event that we had no chance of hurting something he would drop us subtle clues. It really made for intense combat as he never said you crit, you took 18 points of damage, etc. It may seem heavy handed and took some of the fun away from the players by him rolling their dice for them, but because he was fair and descriptive it was actually really fun and added to the suspense. More trouble than Im willing to put in as a DM though.
Seems like the bloodied condition is a good compromise then. Plus, you don't need to make DMs do the math, just include it in the monster start block next to their HP.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Seems like the bloodied condition is a good compromise then. Plus, you don't need to make DMs do the math, just include it in the monster start block next to their HP.
That was probably 25 years ago so the game has evolved alot since. In those days there was alot more fluff than crunch in products most of the time. The particular campaign Im thinking of was The North: the Savage Frontier from the Forgotten Realms. Because there was more fluff in the books the game naturally was more descriptive and not just a series of dice rolls. A good portion of that campaign was overland travel in extremely harsh conditions. Alot of trade shut down in winter so youd better make sure you left on an adventure prepared with equipment, mounts, rations and spell components. If you ran out of any of those you usually ended up dead. This DM had a great ability to capture the feel of the setting, and did this by how he ran encounters.
 

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