D&D 5E Is 5E "big enough" for a Basic/Advanced split?

Reynard

Legend
When I discovered D&D at the tender age of 10 years in 1985, I came in by way of BECMI and we played that for years before "graduating" to AD&D. Throughout the 80s and 90s there were effectively two D&D games, which while cross compatible were still very much their own games with their own complexities, themes and product styles.

With 5E being as big as it is now, but with so many people looking for different things, I wonder if 5E is "big enough" survive a Basic/Advanced style split between two compatible but distinct lines. If so, what would that look like? What settings get put in what lines?

If you don't think it would work, why not? Is it just splitting the fanbase or is there a different reason?
 

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I don't think DnD was "big enough" back then, really.

5e's greatest strength is its ability to accommodate multiple playstyles at the same table - in other words, it can handle several types of players at the same time. It does this better than I imagined a ttrpg could possibly do so before 5e came out.

Splitting it would mean losing that. It would make games harder to find because you'd need to find the right group, pretty much force edition wars to happen, and not offer anything that DnD or on of its competitors doesn't already offer. Trying to push into Pathfinder 2e's market share is a small reward for a huge risk.

If you really want Basic 5e DnD - don't use feats. If you really want Advanced 5e - use feats, multiclassing and homebrew.
 


As far as I'm concerned there is enough discussion at the table already whether the latest books are allowed or not. (A few power players want to explore all new books while some other players barely know 20% of the content of the PHB). Even more splits and new distinct lines, which may each come with new books and content will only keep me in my trench where I keep the basic 3 books: PHB, MM and DMG and ban the rest.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I agree with @jmartkdr2 .

Plus, numerous options already exist if you want a more basic or advanced game. Into the Unknown is a 5e 3p influenced by basic, while Level Up is intended for those looking for an "advanced" 5e.

Heck, the free online version of 5e is also significantly more basic than the PHB. I don't think it would benefit them to introduce a competing official basic set, beyond the starter sets and the free version.
 


darjr

I crit!
As far as I'm concerned there is enough discussion at the table already whether the latest books are allowed or not. (A few power players want to explore all new books while some other players barely know 20% of the content of the PHB). Even more splits and new distinct lines, which may each come with new books and content will only keep me in my trench where I keep the basic 3 books: PHB, MM and DMG and ban the rest.
And then there are lots of folks that are where @Baldurs_Underdark is at.

Finally there are also a gradient from very old school style to very new modern. For instance I’m currently in a game where all stats are rolled and so are HP and encumbrances are tracked meticulously. It’s VERY fun. I also run and play in AL. Finally I run games very abstractly. All with the same set of rules.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
When I discovered D&D at the tender age of 10 years in 1985, I came in by way of BECMI and we played that for years before "graduating" to AD&D. Throughout the 80s and 90s there were effectively two D&D games, which while cross compatible were still very much their own games with their own complexities, themes and product styles.

With 5E being as big as it is now, but with so many people looking for different things, I wonder if 5E is "big enough" survive a Basic/Advanced style split between two compatible but distinct lines. If so, what would that look like? What settings get put in what lines?

If you don't think it would work, why not? Is it just splitting the fanbase or is there a different reason?
Well we think it works!

www.levelup5e.com
 



Reynard

Legend
Perhaps I was not clear -- I meant an actual publishing split, not just people playing the game differently.

For example, if Darksun does get made, if feels like a line that could use a crunchier, more complex "advanced" treatment of 5E than, say, a return to the Known World (which was sort of teased recently).
 


balthanon

Explorer
I suspect this depends drastically on the current average player and their expectations. It's been a (long) while since I played D&D at this point, but I checked in on 5E every once in awhile to see if it was worth taking up and it seemed like pretty much all they were putting out was monster supplements, campaign setting books, and adventures. It honestly felt like a barren wasteland compared to 3E when it came to options for players.

Has that changed in the last year or two? I see a couple of supplements that look like they might be player focused, but that's about it. Dungeon Master materials don't really feel like they would merit a split in designation between "Advanced" and "Basic".
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
Whether 5e is big enough for it, I don't know. Whether WotC will do it, I strongly doubt.

But what I want for 5e more than anything is a WotC book entitled Advanced Dungeon Master's Guide.

It would be nice to have some expanded combat options in such a book—the new "weapon actions" added to Baldur's Gate III are a promising start, and may indeed be intended for eventual addition to the tabletop game—but that's not the main thing I would want.

What I want has two components:

1) additional, optional rules for a whole bunch of specific cases that come up relatively infrequently yet often enough to make an official rule desirable for tables that want that—along the lines of what we have already been given in a highly piecemeal and incomplete form when, for example, the "rules expansion" books give us rules for falling onto water, sleeping in armor, and so on. There are a whole lot of things my players do pretty often that really ought to have some rules, in my opinion. Obvious example: one PC wants to use their action to toss an item to another PC, but that PC is some distance away. Can they successfully do so? 5e offers no guidance.

2) a substantial section on how to set DCs, with many more examples than the DMG provides. Setting DCs for things that players want to do is one of the most frequent tasks that 5e demands of Dungeon Masters, and one of my least favorite things to do when running a game. No matter how much DMing experience I have, it always feels like I'm pulling numbers out of thin air—and that's because the official guidance in the 5e DMG on how to set DCs is essentially to do just that.

Every time I express a desire for a more robust ruleset, folks pop up proclaiming that what I want is contrary to the design philosophy of 5e: "rulings, not rules." And that's probably true. But I'm not looking for a crunchy system like 3.5e, just a more robust version of what 5e already provides. Many DMs feel exactly the opposite, of course, but many others also agree with me that it's more difficult and less enjoyable to constantly come up with new rulings out of nowhere than it is to master a set of preexisting rules for the same situations. And given how 5e presents all additional rules as optional rules, I really don't see the difference between "more rules, fewer rulings" and "more guidance on how you might make different types of rulings."

There are enough of us out there who do want this, that we've made (for example) Level Up a successful commodity. Still, Level Up won't work for me because it changes the rules of 5e, and that won't fly with my group; switching to an entirely different system is even more inconceivable. But that's not what I want anyway; what I want is a product similar to Level Up that limits itself to adding to the 5e ruleset in order to shift at least some of the responsibility off the 5e DM, who, as it stands, must constantly make freewheeling rulings with little to no official guidance to back them up. Official would be preferable; third-party would be fine—but I've never even seen a decent third-party version of what I'm seeking.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
@Reynard

Given your other thread about playing BECMI again, it got me digging out my old Basic D&D book, and wondering what a Basic 5E would look like. I am not thinking 5E as written is Basic and something like LevelUp is making it advanced, I am thinking 5E as written IS the advanced version... so pulling back on RAW is what would make a Basic version.

My group has been working on our 5E mod for months now, making it more akin to AD&D in some ways, but nothing on the scope of what Level Up is doing (we don't really want that much LOL!).

At any rate, I think WotC will only keep piling on more and more, and won't think there is enough of an audience to develop a full Basic "concept" for the game. I am thinking about it more and more for myself, however.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
With 5E being as big as it is now, but with so many people looking for different things, I wonder if 5E is "big enough" survive a Basic/Advanced style split between two compatible but distinct lines. If so, what would that look like? What settings get put in what lines?

So, I don't expect WotC would find splitting it advantageous to them, if that's what you mean. To WotC, I suspect it would mean supporting two product lines, while reducing overall profit margin on the products, as each takes the same mount of work to produce, but is now targeting a smaller audience. Even if the loss isn't so bad as to be unprofitable, it would likely be less profitable, so... why do it?

I think "advanced" lines are the purview of the 3PP folks at this point.
 

Composer99

Adventurer
I think for WotC it would make sense to ensure tables have the ability to play games that are more basic or more advanced all under the same 5e umbrella, so they don't have to produce separate product lines. Between periodic release of new player options in books such as Xanathar's or Tasha's and something like an "Advanced DMG" such as what @jeremypowell has advocated for, I think WotC could easily have "advanced" stream stuff, with the "core triad" PHB/DMG/MM covering more basic games (especially when not using feats or multiclassing), without having to take any risks with different product lines.

Suffice to say I think that leaves 3rd party or homebrew content for genuine "advanced" versions of the game (à la Level Up) or "basic" ones (such as OSR-style hacks of 5e - Into the Unknown for instance).
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
So, I don't expect WotC would find splitting it advantageous to them, if that's what you mean. To WotC, I suspect it would mean supporting two product lines, while reducing overall profit margin on the products, as each takes the same mount of work to produce, but is now targeting a smaller audience. Even if the loss isn't so bad as to be unprofitable, it would likely be less profitable, so... why do it?

I think "advanced" lines are the purview of the 3PP folks at this point.
This is my thought. WotC probably could split it into two and both would find an audience, but I think the current approach is probably better for them, so they'll stick with it.

I have never seen anyone running the game on the Basic rules alone. Is that a thing people actually do?
I've run basic only games to introduce new gamers, some of whom went on to get more involved books, which seems like evidence that the current approach is working.
 

Reynard

Legend
I think for WotC it would make sense to ensure tables have the ability to play games that are more basic or more advanced all under the same 5e umbrella, so they don't have to produce separate product lines. Between periodic release of new player options in books such as Xanathar's or Tasha's and something like an "Advanced DMG" such as what @jeremypowell has advocated for, I think WotC could easily have "advanced" stream stuff, with the "core triad" PHB/DMG/MM covering more basic games (especially when not using feats or multiclassing), without having to take any risks with different product lines.

Suffice to say I think that leaves 3rd party or homebrew content for genuine "advanced" versions of the game (à la Level Up) or "basic" ones (such as OSR-style hacks of 5e - Into the Unknown for instance).
Here's a related question:

I don't play with strangers often, other than when I run convention games (which are usually not D&D, because a con is the one time you can collect 6 people to sit down for something else).

What are the general expectations as far as option availability and/or optional rules inclusion for the average group of random players who found one another on a Discord server or whatever? Do most people come to the table expecting to be allowed to use anything in an official source? Do most DMs of random groups allow everything?
 

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