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D&D 5E Is 5e really that different?

I agree with you in general, my perspective however is that 5e is even more balanced than this, in terms of spirit, it's actually quite close to AD&D/BECMI in particular with the Theater of the Mind as the basic way of running the game. Of course, it owes a number of things to 3e and 4e, but the spirit comes from before those, I think.
I agree!
 

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Honest question: does anyone know if 5e has outsold every other rpg combined in English-speaking markets? Because that feels like it could be possible, between its market dominance and the much bigger size of the market overall.
It has. For example, just recently, Cubicle 7 was talking about how their 5E Middle Earth game vastly outsold The One Ring, and that the markets or both games were completely different. Speaking as a publisher myself, this is my experience too; 5E is the market, and everything else is actually a far smaller, adjacent market that just baaaarely benefits enough to keep on growing a bit every year. But the gulf between other RPGs and 5E is literally so big that its hard to fathom.

For example, let's look at the 2nd Edition of The One Ring. Over a million dollars in the Kickstarter. Thousands of people backed it, and there will probably be tens of thousands of players.

In 2014, the DND Next playtest had 500,000 people involved. Already an order of magnitude bigger. In 2017, it was estimated there are 12-15 million players worldwide. Let's be conservative and drop that to 10 million. Literally so much bigger then The One Ring that its like comparing a street food truck to McDonalds. And in 2020, D&D only got bigger.

The non-5E market is a blip on the radar. The 5E market is where the actual market is at. And this is the source of a lot of the deepest frustrations IMO in the entire TTRPG scene.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The non-5E market is a blip on the radar. The 5E market is where the actual market is at. And this is the source of a lot of the deepest frustrations IMO in the entire TTRPG scene.

I completely agree, I would even add that I don't think that people outside the core TTRPG usual audience are upset, they don't even know about 5e. just that it's D&D. It's only some people inside the TTRPG community who are upset about 5e, and in particular about its success, possibly even more than about its inherent nature.
 

Retreater

Legend
At its worst, 5e can have these issues...
It can be won by completely passive players on autopilot. Checks can be made automatically (Passive Checks). Movement and tactics make little difference (compared to 3e or 4e). Full healing happens automatically every day. Monsters are mostly boring slogs of massive bags of HP but their damage is so small and PC healing so fast, effective, common, and nearly limitless, that there's little challenge at all after level 3 or so. Characters rarely fail. ACs are low so enemies are hit about 75% of the time (but see the HP bloat above).
But in its favor, 5e is at its best when it's customized by the players and DM. While the core of it seems easy, bland, and boring, it's the most adaptable version of D&D we've had in 20 years.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
At its worst, 5e can have these issues...
It can be won by completely passive players on autopilot. Checks can be made automatically (Passive Checks). Movement and tactics make little difference (compared to 3e or 4e). Full healing happens automatically every day. Monsters are mostly boring slogs of massive bags of HP but their damage is so small and PC healing so fast, effective, common, and nearly limitless, that there's little challenge at all after level 3 or so. Characters rarely fail. ACs are low so enemies are hit about 75% of the time (but see the HP bloat above).

You're right, I forgot about that, 5e feels a bit like "easy mode" for hard core players. :)

But in its favor, 5e is at its best when it's customized by the players and DM. While the core of it seems easy, bland, and boring, it's the most adaptable version of D&D we've had in 20 years.

Yep !
 



I think another big thing is this:

The 5E market is very hostile towards its homebrew and third party content creators.

"But Shardstone, look at all these kickstarters! Look at how many backers they have!"

While there is certainly a renaissance currently underway, that renaissance is a symptom of 5E's absolutely massive amount of players. If we say that modern D&D has 15 million players, then 1% of those players is 150,000 people. That's probably close to how many people currently engage with 3rd party content, if not a little more.

The vast majority of the playerbase doesn't respect this content, however. You see it everywhere. Homebrew etc etc is treated as if it is always inferior, always terrible, and that it has to actually not just be perfect, but sublime in order to justify being used. This is a result of the 3rd Edition OGL and the lack of quality there, and also the fact that 5E is very close-handed about how its game is designed, which means a lot of content creators either have to work around 5E's design paradigms or try to intuit them and risk getting them wrong.

Regardless of the reasons, the 5E Market as a whole doesn't give much attention to those that aren't first party. I can name a litany of products right now that I think are superior to almost every single 5E product, but they not only make a fraction of the sales, the wider consensus is "Because it is third party, it already is low quality."

So not only are publishers forced to try and tap the 5E market, they have to deal with an absolute storm of negative opinion and hostile attitudes while trying to market their current heartbreaker or deeply impassioned project and at the end of the day, they still get a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the respect, attention, or praise that WotC does.

This post isn't to say that WotC content is always low quality, and that no amazing things have come from WotC. This post is to point out that it truly feels sometimes like a winless position to take, getting into TTRPG publishing, and to provide some insight as to why I think the rest of the market struggles as it does.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The vast majority of the playerbase doesn't respect this content, however. You see it everywhere. Homebrew etc etc is treated as if it is always inferior, always terrible, and that it has to actually not just be perfect, but sublime in order to justify being used. This is a result of the 3rd Edition OGL and the lack of quality there, and also the fact that 5E is very close-handed about how its game is designed, which means a lot of content creators either have to work around 5E's design paradigms or try to intuit them and risk getting them wrong.
For me, Homebrew classes and most 3 party class material is almost always inferior, almost always terrible. I just don't have time to sift through the bad quality products to find the good ones. And even the otherwise good ones often solve some specific niche issues that for my games including that material would end up creating more issues.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
At its worst, 5e can have these issues...
It can be won by completely passive players on autopilot. Checks can be made automatically (Passive Checks). Movement and tactics make little difference (compared to 3e or 4e). Full healing happens automatically every day. Monsters are mostly boring slogs of massive bags of HP but their damage is so small and PC healing so fast, effective, common, and nearly limitless, that there's little challenge at all after level 3 or so. Characters rarely fail. ACs are low so enemies are hit about 75% of the time (but see the HP bloat above).

This complaint comes up A LOT. A whole lot.

And I just don't see it. 5e makes it trivially easy to adjust the encounter difficulty up or down, harder or easier.

Even without some of the grittier variants, if I want characters to be more challenged, it's simple and straight forward to do so.

More lethality! Also trivial, just have opponents have a different mindset and actually go for it +not really my groups style but I know how it's done).

But in its favor, 5e is at its best when it's customized by the players and DM. While the core of it seems easy, bland, and boring, it's the most adaptable version of D&D we've had in 20 years.

And that's basically it, as I just stated above. But it's so easy to adjust (customize) to the group, I consider it a feature and not a complaint.
 

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