D&D General Is power creep bad?

Is power creep, particularly in D&D, a bad thing?

  • More power is always better (or why steroids were good for baseball)

    Votes: 3 2.3%
  • Power creep is fun when you also boost the old content

    Votes: 33 25.6%
  • Meh, whatever

    Votes: 23 17.8%
  • I'd rather they stick to a base power level, but its still playable

    Votes: 36 27.9%
  • Sweet Mary, mother of God, why? (or why are there apples and cinnamon in my oatmeal?)

    Votes: 23 17.8%
  • Other, I'll explain.

    Votes: 11 8.5%

I need you to explain to me how Level Drain has any impact on Power Creep in 2022 for D&D 5E.
I started this train so I'll explain. 5E lacks a lot of negative effects for PCs that existed in previous editions. I contend that it is a form of power creep across editions.

In previous editions, monster had level draining abilities. In 5E, they don't. Though it might be better defined as nerfing monsters instead of buffing PCs...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

No. You weren't looking for a discussion in good faith then and you aren't looking for one now. You want to argue about how "your generation" (whatever that is) has cracked the code on the definition of fun.

Well, congratulations, you win. You never ever have to use level drain. Good job!
That's not what I wanted to argue. You are taking what I said and imposing your own interpretation against my words. Nothing you said in your post was true to my intent, true to my post, or true to what I came here to do. Please don't try and tell me what I was doing again, and don't try to guess my motives. You can just ask instead of wasting my time by trying to paint me as someone on a crusade against people older than me.
 

I started this train so I'll explain. 5E lacks a lot of negative effects for PCs that existed in previous editions. I contend that it is a form of power creep across editions.

In previous editions, monster had level draining abilities. In 5E, they don't. Though it might be better defined as nerfing monsters instead of buffing PCs...
I don't think that's power creep but instead acknowledging a design paradigm that no longer was desired by the audience at large. The reason Level Drain disappeared wasn't just to nerf monsters, but because a lot of players found it unfun, and because the design of 3E and beyond are not built with Level Drain in mind. Losing a level in post 3E D&D is much different than in pre-3E, as each level you lose means you lose potential handfuls of levels in addition to everything else. In 5E, this is only more so.

Power Creep can instead be seen in how damage and HP have increased over the generations of D&D, and the amount of features given to characters as compared to before. Specific mechanics that get abandoned between editions aren't evidence of power creep but instead are presenting to you entirely new rulesets that shouldn't really be compared to each other along these terms. After all, each ruleset is designed to cater to a different audience in a different generation who want different things. While there is often overlap, the game I'm playin with 5E is nothing like my OD&D games.
 

I started this train so I'll explain. 5E lacks a lot of negative effects for PCs that existed in previous editions. I contend that it is a form of power creep across editions.

In previous editions, monster had level draining abilities. In 5E, they don't. Though it might be better defined as nerfing monsters instead of buffing PCs...

And then I threw out Level Drain to be funny.

But I can understand how the younger generation(s) might get sick of us grognards droning on about "how you youngins have it so easy..."
 



James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Not sure if I should post this comment about level drain here or in the "5e rules thread". Eh, I'll do it here.

So one of my problems with level drain was simply logistics. Do you mark down each hit die roll at level up? No?

Then upon losing a level, how do we adjust your new hit point total? Just roll the hit die again, so you might lose more than you gained?

If you gained knowledge of a new spell, does it just go away? Proficiency in a skill vanishes?

What if you're a multiclassed character? Which level do you lose? The last one gained?

So much work has to be put into "de-levelling" your character. I suppose we could do what 3e did and bring negative levels back?

But this is what I mean about the juice not being worth the squeeze. It's like Reincarnate. Casting the spell and figuring out what you lose and what you gain can be so bothersome it'd be easier to make a new character!
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Them newfangled gnomes taking levels of paladin and bard. Heck, power creep is a dwarf being able to level up to 11 in cleric! Or dwarves being able to take class levels in anything at all!

Old man voice. Fist shaking. Lawns defended.
But none of them can take levels of Psionicist. : (
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Bringing up Level Drain in 2022 is about as close to a bad faith argument as you can get without actually being in bad faith.

No one in my generation of D&D players, that is, 5E gives any thought whatsoever to the concept of Level Drain.
My point is that maybe such thought should be given; not necessarily to level drain specifically but to ways and means of making 5e just plain nastier, of which level drain is but one.
It is so horribly outdated and irrelevant that it pretty much only exists so that people over the age of 35-40 can talk about how stupid of an idea it was 50 years after the fact.
Or talk about how it should never have left and that it didn't in fact became outdated.
As for Power Creep and what that means in 2022, what has to be remembered is that TTRPGs are not video games. The search for truly perfect balance is a mistake, because only a niche crowd cares about actual super-rigid balance. Most people want to have a fair chance at winning, want to have moments to feel cool, and want to feel like they contribute to the success of the adventuring party.
With this I agree.

I think where power creep rears its head is when people look at a 5e character rolled up in 2016 using then-current material and ask whether it has the same ability to contribute in tonight's game as would the same character rolled up in 2022 using what's out there today. If the answer is no, then power creep is a problem.

It happened in 1e, it happened in 2e, and dear gods did it ever happen in 3e. No reason to think 5e is any different.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
YMMV. For me what kills long campaigns is a number of things including having a life outside D&D (that for some players includes kids).
Agreed, and the way to keep the campaign going is to take in new players on the fly to replace those who have to leave. Only the DM has to commit for the very long haul, and one assumes here that commitment is solidly in place before the campaign even starts.
And what makes campaigns is character growth; D&D's class system actively inhibits this over the long term - and there's only so much character growth (as opposed to character advancement) most characters can take.
Simple solution: play more than one character in the same campaign. You're right that after a certain point any individual character isn't likely to develop much further, but I disagree that has to mean the end of the campaign. Just retire that character and roll up another one...or already have more than one on the go, so you can cycle them in and out and thus keep them fresh longer.
And slowing down and playing paranoid because the DM is using ear seekers of all things? Monsters that are no more than an inventory check ("Did you bring ear trumpets"?) Life's too short. For old school I very much play up the pressure by using wandering monsters for their intended purpose - and if we even see so much as a 10ft pole I've done things wrong.
Whereas for me if they start pulling out the 10' poles (which in fairness aren't something I see very often) I know I'm doing it right. :)

Impatience will get your PC killed.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't think that's power creep but instead acknowledging a design paradigm that no longer was desired by the audience at large. The reason Level Drain disappeared wasn't just to nerf monsters, but because a lot of players found it unfun, and because the design of 3E and beyond are not built with Level Drain in mind. Losing a level in post 3E D&D is much different than in pre-3E, as each level you lose means you lose potential handfuls of levels in addition to everything else. In 5E, this is only more so.
Sorry, but I don't get what you're saying here in what I bolded. Please elaborate a bit.
Power Creep can instead be seen in how damage and HP have increased over the generations of D&D, and the amount of features given to characters as compared to before. Specific mechanics that get abandoned between editions aren't evidence of power creep but instead are presenting to you entirely new rulesets that shouldn't really be compared to each other along these terms. After all, each ruleset is designed to cater to a different audience in a different generation who want different things. While there is often overlap, the game I'm playin with 5E is nothing like my OD&D games.
Maybe not, but there's still more than enough points of comparison that you can stand your OD&D character next to your 5e character and evaluate their power levels relative to each other; and to their opposite's world e.g. how long would your unconverted OD&D (or 5e) character last in your 5e (or OD&D) game?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not sure if I should post this comment about level drain here or in the "5e rules thread". Eh, I'll do it here.

So one of my problems with level drain was simply logistics. Do you mark down each hit die roll at level up? No?
Yes. I insist that backtracks be kept of these things - and for exactly this reason! :)
If you gained knowledge of a new spell, does it just go away? Proficiency in a skill vanishes?
Generally, yes.
What if you're a multiclassed character? Which level do you lose? The last one gained?
The highest, if there's a difference; the most recent, if they are the same.
So much work has to be put into "de-levelling" your character. I suppose we could do what 3e did and bring negative levels back?
You're quite right about it being tricker to de-level a character in 5e, but in my view the fault there lies with 5e's ever-increasing complexity.
 

The problem with level drain wasn't that it was a consequence. It was that, as consequences go, it was boring. It essentially undid your progress with effects that were numerical and only changed how you interacted with the world if they took away spells. And it didn't even make your character look more interesting.

Compare to losing either an eye or a hand. Rather than losing numbers and progress you lose a specific capability. It changes how you interact with the world. You then get to use a hook, an eyepatch, a glass eye, or even gnarly magical cybernetics. Your character and how they interact with the world is changed.
I think where power creep rears its head is when people look at a 5e character rolled up in 2016 using then-current material and ask whether it has the same ability to contribute in tonight's game as would the same character rolled up in 2022 using what's out there today. If the answer is no, then power creep is a problem.

It happened in 1e, it happened in 2e, and dear gods did it ever happen in 3e. No reason to think 5e is any different.
This opens two other cans of worms, both of which are best illustrated by 3.X:
  • A whole lot of the broken stuff in 3.0 or 3.5 was in the PHB. A PHB only "Batman" debuff wizard with a good spell selection and a loose leaf ring binder full of scrolls is a Tier 1 character and one of the strongest characters in the game regardless of which splats you add.
  • Known strategy and knowledge of the meta changes over time. Even if you stick to the PHB only and make a very mediocre fighter with the weapon specialisation feats and great cleave's contribution changes
    • In 2000 the classic party would have been a 2e style Evoker Wizard, Healing Cleric, and Trapfinding Rogue. The fighter can keep up here.
    • In 2008 it's much more likely that they get a "Batman" wizard (either conjuration or divination specialist, dropping evocation entirely), a self-buffing cleric who uses wands of cure light wounds for the party's healing needs, and an aggressively hegmonizing ursine swarm (a druid with a bear companion who turns into a bear and summons more bears) and if traps are a major thing someone has a single rogue level, taking one for the team. The fighter is fairly redundant here.
Has there been power creep? Both are PHB only, and some of the most egregious spells like haste were nerfed. As from memory was some self-buffing.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member

Mod Note:

So, bringing up level drain is a bad faith argument, but being insulting isn't?

Around here, we ask folks to show a modicum of respect for others, regardless of their age. Be better about that going forward, please and thanks.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The problem with level drain wasn't that it was a consequence. It was that, as consequences go, it was boring. It essentially undid your progress with effects that were numerical and only changed how you interacted with the world if they took away spells. And it didn't even make your character look more interesting.

Compare to losing either an eye or a hand. Rather than losing numbers and progress you lose a specific capability. It changes how you interact with the world. You then get to use a hook, an eyepatch, a glass eye, or even gnarly magical cybernetics. Your character and how they interact with the world is changed.

This opens two other cans of worms, both of which are best illustrated by 3.X:
  • A whole lot of the broken stuff in 3.0 or 3.5 was in the PHB. A PHB only "Batman" debuff wizard with a good spell selection and a loose leaf ring binder full of scrolls is a Tier 1 character and one of the strongest characters in the game regardless of which splats you add.
  • Known strategy and knowledge of the meta changes over time. Even if you stick to the PHB only and make a very mediocre fighter with the weapon specialisation feats and great cleave's contribution changes
    • In 2000 the classic party would have been a 2e style Evoker Wizard, Healing Cleric, and Trapfinding Rogue. The fighter can keep up here.
    • In 2008 it's much more likely that they get a "Batman" wizard (either conjuration or divination specialist, dropping evocation entirely), a self-buffing cleric who uses wands of cure light wounds for the party's healing needs, and an aggressively hegmonizing ursine swarm (a druid with a bear companion who turns into a bear and summons more bears) and if traps are a major thing someone has a single rogue level, taking one for the team. The fighter is fairly redundant here.
Has there been power creep? Both are PHB only, and some of the most egregious spells like haste were nerfed. As from memory was some self-buffing.
It's a good point. The way players interact with the game elements has changed some as well. Like you pointed out, during 3e, people realized damage spells didn't do enough, but crowd control or "save or suck" stuff tended to be better.

I'm not sure what percentage of players would pick Champion Fighter, Hunter Ranger, Thief Rogue, and, say, Life Cleric in early 5e vs. now, but I would assume it's more likely you'd see Rune Knights, Fey Wanderers, Scouts, and Peace Domain characters now.
 



Sorry, but I don't get what you're saying here in what I bolded. Please elaborate a bit.

Maybe not, but there's still more than enough points of comparison that you can stand your OD&D character next to your 5e character and evaluate their power levels relative to each other; and to their opposite's world e.g. how long would your unconverted OD&D (or 5e) character last in your 5e (or OD&D) game?
I mistyped, apologies. I meant to say handfuls of features, not handfuls of levels.

As for your second point, I don't particularly harken to the idea that you should be able to convert a character easily from one edition to the next. Even the way I think about my OD&D characters is different as compared to 5E. The games fundamental experience has diverged to the point (and did so long before 5E) that its like trying to convert a PbtA character to 5E, or trying to convert my CoC character to 5E.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top