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

darjr

I crit!
@Reynard i have to say, at this point, D&D is big enough for a split.

In fact I’d bet it’d be OK split three ways.

That’s besides if it needs too or should be or can be.
 

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darjr

I crit!
I thought the "Basic" and "Advanced" split had little to do about D&D being complicated, or being "big enough." I remember it having more to do with Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson fighting with each other.
Yea, that was the original purpose at TSR. However it’s become many things to its players. Much like D&D in general.

It’s one of those happy accidents that had an unintended greatness.
 

Argyle King

Legend
In the early days of 5E playtests, "modularity" was touted as a design goal.

While, yes, there are options in the DMG, I'm not sure that design goal was met.

There are some core parts of how the game is built which would require a deeper redesign to accommodate options which deviate from 5E's default playstyle.

It is certainly possible to add options for an "advanced" version or remove pieces for a "basic" version, but I do not believe going such a route (without changing some core components of 5E) would be wholly satisfying to the audiences wanting those things.

If you want to play 5E, play 5E and maybe look into some third party products which nudge the game toward the experience you want.

On the other hand, if you want something more different than what 5E offers right out of the box, I would recommend trying some other rpgs and discovering different ways of doing things.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
There are some core parts of how the game is built which would require a deeper redesign to accommodate options which deviate from 5E's default playstyle.

And, pray tell, what is that "default playstyle" ? It seems to me, on the contrary, that there are already many, many playstyles based on 5e, with many if not most of the discussions on these forums being around people having different playstyles.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
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?
They actually intended to: Mearls said that the core books were going to be called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" to mat h with the free Basic Rules online and included in the Starter Set.

Turns out when they market tested it, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" confused and intimidated customers and was determined to be a bad idea. It was probably a bad idea in the 80's, too.
 

Oofta

Legend
In the early days of 5E playtests, "modularity" was touted as a design goal.
I'm repeating myself, but as far as I know it was one time in an interview with Mearls. People took a one time statement during the very early stages of development while they were still playtesting from a somewhat unreliable source (Mearls tends to speak about things that are still quite speculative) and ran with it. A mountain has been made out of a molehill.

Besides, I think the game is reasonably modular. Take a look at "The Role of the Dice" in the DMG. Going from one extreme to another would make very different games. Add in the optional rules in the DMG. It's not that the game is not modular, it's that for some people it's not modular enough.

No game is perfect. No game is going to work for everyone, sometimes you just have to make some compromises and do the best you can. Since 5E is the best selling RPG ever that has far exceeded expectations, I think they did good enough.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I'm repeating myself, but as far as I know it was one time in an interview with Mearls. People took a one time statement during the very early stages of development while they were still playtesting from a somewhat unreliable source (Mearls tends to speak about things that are still quite speculative) and ran with it. A mountain has been made out of a molehill.

Besides, I think the game is reasonably modular. Take a look at "The Role of the Dice" in the DMG. Going from one extreme to another would make very different games. Add in the optional rules in the DMG. It's not that the game is not modular, it's that for some people it's not modular enough.

No game is perfect. No game is going to work for everyone, sometimes you just have to make some compromises and do the best you can. Since 5E is the best selling RPG ever that has far exceeded expectations, I think they did good enough.

If a guy who is a lead designer establishes a design goal, I posit that tends to have more weight upon the ears of the audience than other voices. "Natural Language" and "Bounded Accuracy" were also established around that point in time.

I agree that there are options in the DMG (and said so in my post). Those options certainly do offer changes, but I'm not sure they deviate much from the core-mentality around which 5E was built (and is reflected in things such as encounter design, monster design, and etc).

In no way am I saying 5E is a bad game. Clearly, it's a successful product.

But, so too is McDonald's. While I certainly can order a salad at McDonald's; I imagine I'm not the only person who would find doing so less satisfying than simply eating somewhere else.
 

Argyle King

Legend
And, pray tell, what is that "default playstyle" ? It seems to me, on the contrary, that there are already many, many playstyles based on 5e, with many if not most of the discussions on these forums being around people having different playstyles.

I believe that D&D, while still fantasy, has evolved into its own genre.

You mention other threads. You're right that a lot of threads discuss differing "playstyles" but it depends what you mean by that.

Are there people who play D&D differently in terms of magic items being rewarded, whether or not a race can be wholly evil, and so-on? Sure, but all of that still takes place within the context of how D&D works overall.

There are also threads which discuss how to emulate fiction (such as Witcher, Conan, King Arthur...); which discuss how to do things like romantic Arthurian fantasy; discuss things like trying to run gritty sword & sorcery; and promoting breadth of play rather than focusing so much on 1-20 vertical advancement.

Is it impossible to do those things in D&D? Certainly not.

But is the current structure of D&D well-suited to those styles? I would argue no.

You can certainly make a character, a campaign, or a monster which is informed by those ideas, but there are core elements of how the game is built which clash with them.

In a similar way, back when I played/DMed 4th Edition; I found that "ze game will remain ze zame" was not true. Some of the worst D&D experiences I had were while trying to run an edition in a way it wasn't built to be run. Once I got a handle on how the game worked "under the hood," I did work to modify it to what I wanted it to do.

Likewise, I highly enjoy GURPS (which actually is a "modular system"). Even as a fan of the system, I acknowledge that running something like Super Heroes takes a bit more work because the game assumes a baseline which is grounded in reality. Yes, I can and have run games which deviated from that baseline, but doing so required gaining an understanding of what the game's 'default' mode was and then figuring out which options to turn on to get to the experience I wanted. (Thankfully, the Dungeon Fantasy boxed set and Douglas Cole's products have done most of that work for me if I want to emulate something like D&D.)

The difference between the 4E and GURPS examples versus my anecdotal experience with 5E is that I could more easily make deeper changes without breaking some core elements of the game. Even a simple example like the idea that magic items are allegedly optional in 5E doesn't quite work because monster design assumes having a way to overcome damage reduction -against creatures which already have bloated HP totals.

I think the 5E options are great for adding or subtracting options... or for tweaking things like how long a rest takes, but not always great for when you want options which change the play experience on a deeper level.

Thankfully, I'm blessed to have a good DM running my usual group, and they're both experienced enough and capable enough to sit down and tweak things on a deeper level. But I don't see it as being particularly easy.

A lot of things about D&D make sense in D&D and to a D&D-centric community.
 

Oofta

Legend
If a guy who is a lead designer establishes a design goal, I posit that tends to have more weight upon the ears of the audience than other voices. "Natural Language" and "Bounded Accuracy" were also established around that point in time.

I agree that there are options in the DMG (and said so in my post). Those options certainly do offer changes, but I'm not sure they deviate much from the core-mentality around which 5E was built (and is reflected in things such as encounter design, monster design, and etc).

In no way am I saying 5E is a bad game. Clearly, it's a successful product.

But, so too is McDonald's. While I certainly can order a salad at McDonald's; I imagine I'm not the only person who would find doing so less satisfying than simply eating somewhere else.
It was a possible design goal. I do software development, sometimes there are things on the wish list that just don't make the final cut either because of budget, time constraints, a better understanding of requirements or feasibility. The discussions of modular was very early in development and a one time statement in an interview. Some of the ideas ended up making the cut, others did not. 🤷‍♂️

In any case I agree, again, that no game can be the right game for everyone.
 

Considering the amount of digital ink spilled over skills, DCs, and when to roll (ex: see the Stealth thread that just crawled out of the grave) it seems like a game without skills might be very desirable. Between your race, background and class, everyone is going to have a decent idea of what you are "proficient" in.
Interestingly when I ran D&D for 10-13 year old kids at summer camp I simplified it to mostly being a game about skill checks. Decide something you want to try, roll a 20-sided die, add your bonus, and have the DM decide what happens is a lot more intuitive than the combat system, which suddenly requires understanding movement, spacial relationships, 5 more types of dice, AC, the action economy, and a whole panoply of special abilities.

I think the digital ink spillage over stealth often comes down to the fact that there is a poorly articulated official way to do something that everyone basically figured out their own intuitive ways to handle.
 

Turns out when they market tested it, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" confused and intimidated customers and was determined to be a bad idea. It was probably a bad idea in the 80's, too.

I don't know about that. I was in my teens when I started playing in the 80's and I, and all the other teens I knew who played, chose AD&D over Basic, because, well, we felt like we were advanced ourselves and did not need to play a simplified version of the game.
 

ECMO3

Hero
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?
I think we already have this with 5E. The starter boxed set is "Basic" and the hardcover books are the "Advanced".

This very much parallels what we had in 1E, the only real difference is they are fully compatible with each other.
 


Reynard

Legend
I think we already have this with 5E. The starter boxed set is "Basic" and the hardcover books are the "Advanced".

This very much parallels what we had in 1E, the only real difference is they are fully compatible with each other.
Except there's no continuation of that Starter Set as a separate line. D&D (as opposed to AD&D) became something very much its own thing, and not limited to being "for newbs" and "simplistic."

Many folks in this thread seem to be mistaking the difference as one of difficult and that's probably my fault for trying to use shorthand by way of "Basic." The BECMI line was a fully realized, deep rpg with hundreds of supplements and adventures ranging from 1st to 36th level and beyond. I DO NOT mean "5E for Dummies."
 

Except there's no continuation of that Starter Set as a separate line. D&D (as opposed to AD&D) became something very much its own thing, and not limited to being "for newbs" and "simplistic."

Many folks in this thread seem to be mistaking the difference as one of difficult and that's probably my fault for trying to use shorthand by way of "Basic." The BECMI line was a fully realized, deep rpg with hundreds of supplements and adventures ranging from 1st to 36th level and beyond. I DO NOT mean "5E for Dummies."

It may not have been meant that way back then, but like I mentioned in my previous post, to me and my teenage friends back then, a system where the race and class were not a separate thing for all characters felt basic when compared to the races and classes of AD&D I think that was the most obvious thing that made us think it was the "little kid" version of D&D. lol
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Except there's no continuation of that Starter Set as a separate line. D&D (as opposed to AD&D) became something very much its own thing, and not limited to being "for newbs" and "simplistic."

Many folks in this thread seem to be mistaking the difference as one of difficult and that's probably my fault for trying to use shorthand by way of "Basic." The BECMI line was a fully realized, deep rpg with hundreds of supplements and adventures ranging from 1st to 36th level and beyond. I DO NOT mean "5E for Dummies."
Well, taken that way: no, I don't think any company would want to repeat that strategy, ever.
 

Oofta

Legend
Except there's no continuation of that Starter Set as a separate line. D&D (as opposed to AD&D) became something very much its own thing, and not limited to being "for newbs" and "simplistic."

Many folks in this thread seem to be mistaking the difference as one of difficult and that's probably my fault for trying to use shorthand by way of "Basic." The BECMI line was a fully realized, deep rpg with hundreds of supplements and adventures ranging from 1st to 36th level and beyond. I DO NOT mean "5E for Dummies."
There are very few people on this forum that played AD&D, much less basic. I played basic probably once and my impression was that it was a simplified version of the game. Then again, that was long, long, ago.

So if you say we should have a basic version, people assume it means a simpler less complicated version. Doesn't mean that version would be better or worse, just different.

So if we had a new basic, I'm not sure what anyone thinks it could be but a simplified version of the current game.
 

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