Is 5e "Easy Mode?"

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
Numbers alone don't predicate the PCs winning ways, a lot of that comes down to the DM preparing digestible encounters. Don't do that and things become unpredictable.

Back to my sea battle example, a warship has 70-80 warriors, so that's what it has. Party consideration has left the building because this is an optional encounter. Optional in that contested seamanship and navigation rolls might be failed, and maybe no clever use of powers give the PCs an easy out.

(It's populated with a mage, a captain, a few gladiators, some berserkers & scouts, and many sailors and thugs. It's a monster encounter, with coordinated showers of arrows, Fireball/Control water/Conjure elemental, ballista, etc.)
 
If threat of death is the only challenge you can see in D&D, you're skimming the surface of a very deep, very rich and very rewarding game.
On the other hand the threat of death is more or less the only consequence D&D points to within the mechanics. Hit points ensure that injuries are not a serious thing because the difference in capability between a PC on one hit point and one on full hit points is only in terms of how much of a pounding they can take before they drop.

Meanwhile there are plenty of other games (I'll name Fate and Apocalypse World here) that have mechanics that encourage non-lethal challenges.

5E is a far more flexible system than 4E when it comes to storytelling.
Not in my experience although 4e's presentation of what it did well was awful. The skill system is almost identical other than that 4e goes larger than life. 5e has more magic - but 4e has far, far better improvisational tools for both damage dealing effects and for handling off the wall PC plans in ways that aren't measured on a simple pass/fail spectrum. 5e has one advantage (the bonds/flaws system) and one double edged sword (the magic rendering some challenges irrelevant in the blink of an eye).

It is a very , very good system that is true to the D&D roots from which it sprang.
For storytelling? It's a pretty basic system - even the licensed Smallville RPG was a long way beyond D&D 5e. Indeed I could make the claim that White Wolf's meaningful consequences for damage, ability to spend willpower on what your character saw as important, and recharging willpower by indulging vices put it a long way ahead of 5e. The flaws and bonds leading to Inspiration system is a pale reflection of this, quarter of a century after Vampire: the Masquerade did it.

So, is it easy? No. If you focus on it, you can create wonderfully complex and enriching campaigns that are full of very difficult challenges with real impacts for failure.
Meanwhile I've mentioned several RPGs in this very comment which actually support you in doing that rather than having to inject it around the system that remains what it started as - a hacked tabletop wargame.
 

dave2008

Legend
Meanwhile I've mentioned several RPGs in this very comment which actually support you in doing that rather than having to inject it around the system that remains what it started as - a hacked tabletop wargame.
I must admit, I hate story telling mechanics. Every game that has them just rubs me the wrong way. Heck, in 5e I don't use inspiration or any of the alternate/variant story rules in the DMG. I much prefer a game where they can be added on, rather than a core part of the mechanics. Maybe that is a big reason I prefer D&D. Never really thought about it until reading your post - thanks!
 

dave2008

Legend
On the other hand the threat of death is more or less the only consequence D&D points to within the mechanics. Hit points ensure that injuries are not a serious thing because the difference in capability between a PC on one hit point and one on full hit points is only in terms of how much of a pounding they can take before they drop.
Actually, the game provides several mechanics for consequences outside of hit points. However, most are optional or variant rules. Where they should be IMO.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
5e is "easy mode" when played the way most groups play it. 5e is not easy mode when played based on the design guidelines. Unfortunately, design guidelines not matching how people play is a real problem.

In specific, I'm talking about the 6-8 encounters per day. You can balance HP/HD attrition by making an encounter more difficult. However, that is only half the equation once you get into Tier 2 and higher. It does not address the resource management between classes. Basically, daily resources are a lot more efficient in fewer encounters. (I can provide exhaustive examples for this if you want.)

What this means is that there's a lot more non-HP resources available in each encounter, increasing effect per action and making it feel "easy". Also, having spare resource that you can draw on makes things feel easier. If you can rage every encounter, or rarely use cantrips and almost always have slots to cast, the perception is that things are easy.

This isn't the table's fault, it's that the inter-class balance was designed with much higher encounters per day then how people actually play, and how many other editions assumed. It's a "heavy dungeon-crawl" level of encounters.
 

Sadras

Hero
5e is "easy mode" when played the way most groups play it. 5e is not easy mode when played based on the design guidelines. Unfortunately, design guidelines not matching how people play is a real problem.
This seems a little unfair given the published adventures do not themselves follow said design guidelines. The issue it seems to me, does not lie with the way "most groups" play but with the design guidelines.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I must admit, I hate story telling mechanics. Every game that has them just rubs me the wrong way. Heck, in 5e I don't use inspiration or any of the alternate/variant story rules in the DMG. I much prefer a game where they can be added on, rather than a core part of the mechanics. Maybe that is a big reason I prefer D&D. Never really thought about it until reading your post - thanks!
I agree. I don't want a game that has mechanical limitations and rules on how the story is told. I want the story to be organic and in my hands as a DM with the players guiding direction.

I know some people like things like renown or faction points or whatever. In an AL style game they may even be necessary. But for a home campaign? Just nope. Figuring out how different NPCs and factions are going to react is part of the fun and why I want a person as DM instead of a computer.
 

fearsomepirate

Explorer
In general, I haven't liked Expertise since a +12 sounds quite high to me (well, us). Part of this is because I like the concept of a system that has non-proficient/proficient/expert divisions. We'd also like that to be consistent across all types of proficiencies - skills, combat, and saves. We don't have armor proficiency, so it doesn't have to apply there.
Expertise keeps a rogue's skill checks kinda-sorta in line with those of the AD&D 2e Thief. By 10th level, your 5e Thief will be failing his key skill checks almost never, which is about what happens when a 2e Thief stacks in Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Find/Remove Traps, and Open Locks.

What would happen if we allowed expertise in combat for a +12 bonus? Whoa, that sounds huge, doesn't it?
Yes, because monster AC only very, very, very rarely goes over 20. Your high-level fighter with a +1 sword facing a Death Knight only misses on a 1. AC in the 5e MM is already too low, and allowing Expertise on attacks just exacerbates the problem.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This seems a little unfair given the published adventures do not themselves follow said design guidelines. The issue it seems to me, does not lie with the way "most groups" play but with the design guidelines.
Wow. Please reread what I wrote, because I explicitly called out multiple times that it was not the groups fault.

I called out "Unfortunately, design guidelines not matching how people play is a real problem" as well as "This isn't the table's fault, it's that the inter-class balance was designed with much higher encounters per day then how people actually play, and how many other editions assumed". Highlighting added to help comprehension.

It's very clear that what I wrote is 180 degrees away from what you are claiming I wrote.
 

dave2008

Legend
So this is what we're going to do today...repeat the identical thread which already exists, with the same responses that already exist...and the same responses to those responses which already exist...

OK then.
To be clear, the OP states that 5e is not easy mode and that on the basis of attack bonus it is less so than 1e. The OP is actually pushing back on the idea it is easy mode.

But yes, we are likely to see the same type of responses.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
5e is "easy mode" when played the way most groups play it. 5e is not easy mode when played based on the design guidelines. Unfortunately, design guidelines not matching how people play is a real problem.

....

This isn't the table's fault, it's that the inter-class balance was designed with much higher encounters per day then how people actually play, and how many other editions assumed. It's a "heavy dungeon-crawl" level of encounters.
Completely agree with this. But this doesn't work very well, even for "heavy dungeon-crawl" level of encounters.

I mean, combat takes time. Even if you aren't breaking out a battlemap, or minis, even if you're running a streamlined, TOTM, every combat is time-consuming.

If you have a party of, say, 6 people, a short combat can easily take 10+ minutes. EASILY. And a long combat can take over an hour. You see where I'm going with this ....

For a 6-8 combat day, that means that for many groups, the average "day" would take longer than an average gaming session. And that's where things start to get out of whack; at a minimum, the party in the game often takes a break at the same time as the group does in RL (it just works that way, doesn't it?).

All that said, I would say that even when you play within the guidelines, it is still easy mode compared to the older editions, simply because of other rule changes ... for example:

Save or die -> save or suck.
Level loss -> doesn't exist.
System shock + loss of constitution -> doesn't exist.
Death at 0 -> Whack-a-mole.
Need for clerical healing -> Oprah healing (You get healing, and you get healing, and YOU get a free car ...um, healing).
 

jayoungr

Hero
So this is what we're going to do today...repeat the identical thread which already exists, with the same responses that already exist...and the same responses to those responses which already exist...

OK then.
Maybe this thread could be merged with the other, since they're basically the same topic?
 
Easy mode?

The real question is easy mode for what?

A heroic adventure? No. 4E is. 4E was designed for every step of the game to be a heroic romp onto a paragon rmp onto an epic one? It takes work to do that in 5e.

A dungeon dive? Sure. 5e is great for sticking to dungeons and fighting dragons and occasionally not doing that.

A gritty challenge? Nah. That's AD&D. It's too difficult to make decently made 5e characters deal with grit and fear it.

A hardcore dungeon delve? Nah. 5e needs you to leave the dungeon after 8 encounters.
 
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Ilbranteloth

Explorer
I must admit, I hate story telling mechanics. Every game that has them just rubs me the wrong way. Heck, in 5e I don't use inspiration or any of the alternate/variant story rules in the DMG. I much prefer a game where they can be added on, rather than a core part of the mechanics. Maybe that is a big reason I prefer D&D. Never really thought about it until reading your post - thanks!
I definitely agree with this. While I understand the concept behind them, I prefer fewer mechanics, not more. I also prefer mechanics not to interfere/dictate/direct the narrative itself. Overall I prefer simulationist mechanics that aid the DM in adjudicating the action, rather than defining the actions themselves.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Maybe this thread could be merged with the other, since they're basically the same topic?
Mod Note:

Possibly. I'd like to see if this thread winds up having something unique about it first. But, if it really does become the same discussion, that might be sensible.
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
Easy mode?

The reason question is easy mode for what?

A heroic adventure? No. 4E is. 4E was designed for every step of the game to be a heroic romp onto a paragon rmp onto an epic one? It takes work to do that in 5e.

A dungeon dive? Sure. 5e is great for sticking to dungeons and fighting dragons and occasionally not doing that.

A gritty challenge? Nah. That's AD&D. It's too difficult to make decently made 5e characters deal with grit and fear it.

A hardcore dungeon delve? Nah. 5e needs you to leave the dungeon after 8 encounters.
The only thing I kind of disagree with here is the usual use of the term "heroic." 3e and later is firmly in the "superheroic" world in my eyes, where the PCs are "a cut above" everybody else and expected to be able to do things the average person can't. I still prefer to use the classic definition of heroic, "an ordinary person doing extraordinary things."

And while AD&D does have a grittier feel, it's not difficult to alter 5e to meet those goals. For a published version of that approach, Adventures in Middle Earth did a great job.
 
The only thing I kind of disagree with here is the usual use of the term "heroic." 3e and later is firmly in the "superheroic" world in my eyes, where the PCs are "a cut above" everybody else and expected to be able to do things the average person can't. I still prefer to use the classic definition of heroic, "an ordinary person doing extraordinary things."

And while AD&D does have a grittier feel, it's not difficult to alter 5e to meet those goals. For a published version of that approach, Adventures in Middle Earth did a great job.
"Cut above" can mean a lot of things.
I like the 4e terms of heroic, paragon, and epic.

3e is a paragon game. Your PCs are 2 steps above normal folk of your same classification. As you said, you are a superhero.
5e is more "heroic". You are better than normal but what you do is not rare at all.

But easy mode? Every edition of D&D is built on different assumptions.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
I prefer much more 5ed with its increasing chance of success than the 4ed where you always need at least 7 to succeed something. Having +4 or +24 bonus mean nothing if you need a good roll. In 5ed you effectively getting better!
 

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