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D&D 5E Just One More Thing: The Power of "No" in Design (aka, My Fun, Your Fun, and BadWrongFun)


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NotAYakk

Legend
I think you need an editor; you meander on for paragraphs about not what you want to talk about, but something that inspires what you want to talk about, then talk about other people talking about something else saying things along a certain pattern, and then I honestly don't know what you said because I got tired of reading about what needs to be talked about and not saying it.

OTOH, at least you used sentences, unlike me.

But seriously, for gygax's sake, say something in the first 5 paragraphs of a post.
 



Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think we've had this discussion before. If we were being intellectually honest there I think we all know there is one solution, one race, one class, one fighting style, one attribute. Gnomish paladin with dual rapier style with an attribute of awesome.

The only problem would be how to set up significant obstacles. How can you counter the ultimate in awesome? :unsure:

P.S. I'll try to give a real response eventually. Just had to get that out of my system.
 


Undrave

Hero
hmm... I feel that a Race is easier to implement than a Subclass. It's a small handful rules that don't change much as the character grow and Lore is basically the biggest obstacle, something that doesn't REALLY need playtesting in the same way crunch do, just a bit of brainstorming. But I think that ease is also a curse because then it becomes tempting to just bloat the game.

I think as long as consumers don't feel overwhelmed by additions to the game, we've not breached any sort of dangerous frontier in terms of additions and the PHB+1 rule is a good basis to avoid the insanity that could arise in 3e (plus, it excuses reprints).

I totally get your point about simplicity of design, but there is another force at play here: stagnation. I think the game needs to strike a balance between simplicity and avoiding the game become stale. If you only like 50% of the PHB subclasses and 30% of the Xanathar one, you risk running out of character concepts that interest you and be bored with the game.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I play and run Adventurer's League. So, if it's in the official game, I have to deal with it. Streamlined game design is not just prettier, it's easier from the consumer point of view.
A small narrow but real subset of consumers certainly not sure that is a super argument.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I think you took too many pains to distance your post from what I feel like was probably the "another thread" & lost too much foundation for your post resulting in a lot of feel good statements that don't go anywhere. Since I too don't know what your looking for other than "um ok, maybe" I'll go with something from recent discussions on here that does touch on what you wrote.

For example your 3e "too much crunch" is both accurate & an oversimplification. In some areas that crunch was good, bad, & sometimes misapplied(recent thread about 3.5 skills). It's possible for 5e's skills to improve on & avoid every one of the 3.5 skill system's pitfalls and rough edges while simultaneously going too far & creating other problems in the process. The same can be said of fixing the golf bag of weapons & from 3.5 by making damage types virtually irrelevant & extending that simplification across weapons as well as armor. Those decisions all may have improved upon things & met design goals to objectively improve one area of the game, but they have effects on other areas that are objectively problematic to other areas of the game & there's a lot of discussion on those kind of things in the nobody is playing high level thread.
 

If the point of 5e were parsimony it could have delivered a broader range of possible characters with far fewer classes (as few as 3, I'd say), and the assumption of MCing instead of clumsily designing sub-classes & Backgrounds on the assumption that MCing wouldn't be used.

For that matter, classless works very well, and is much more efficient in delivering more meaningful choices with less page count.

The point of 5e, though, was to heal the rifts in the community, be inclusive of all past fans (but accessible to new ones), and allow them to evoke the feel of, and play the same sorts of characters they could in, each of those past editions. Among other virtually impossible goals. ;) That meant making familiar class designs with familiar names, in spite of all the redundancies, inefficiencies and imbalances that entailed.

Given that, there's no slippery slope, no danger of infinite additions to the game, the finite set of past editions' offerings would be the maximum. And, even that'd be a gross exaggeration, as there was a tremendous amount of overlap among those editions. Every class that was ever in a PH1, even every /character type/ that was ever in a PH1, is doable with 2 more classes, the Psion(icist) & Warlord. Every class ever in a PH, would take it up to, what, a half-dozen, perhaps?

A potential, worst-case, 50% increase in player choice (further, gated behind DM opt-in, as with all supplements) is hardly devastating bloat. Really, the current proliferation of sub-classes is more worrisome, that way.

(Though, it is true that a literal PH2 would be against the current conventional wisdom, so it'd have to be another goofy "So-and-so's guide to things you're not interested in, newbie," format.)
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
I play and run Adventurer's League. So, if it's in the official game, I have to deal with it. Streamlined game design is not just prettier, it's easier from the consumer point of view.


More to the point, and I don't know if this is an issue elsewhere or just in my area, but AL DMs are in short supply. So by the nature of AL, they have to be DM friendly. If you have too many official options, it's hard for DMs to keep up with everything because a DM should be familiar with everything the players are doing or will do. It's just part of planning an preparing. So if you have something like the AD&D UA stat generation and a player saying "Well, it's in the official book, so you have to accept it." I'm pretty sure most DMs hated that stat generation method. Only monty haul munchkins loved using it*. That dissuades people from DMing if they are forced to include something they don't like. I think that's a key problem between making something official, and making it 3PP for your own personal gaming groups.


*for those not familar, you basically rolled 9d6 take top 3 for your primary attribute, 8d6 for secondary, etc. So you were pretty much assured to have a bunch of 18s and 17s for your stats.
 


For the most part, I agree with your long and rambling post (welcome to the old man club). You can simply shorten almost everything you've said into: "bloat has killed prior editions; 5E has done an excellent job of keeping bloat minimal. We should not advocate for an increase in bloat."

I think it's great that it is so easy to homebrew.
This is actually the greatest success of 5E. It has a solid chassis that can be manipulated to great extents to maximize your group's entertainment without affecting other groups. Prior editions lived and died by RAW, and 5E has tossed RAW into the garbage can (where it belongs IMO). The fact that the DM's Guild exists shows that 5E officially supports and encourages houserules, homebrew, and 3PP.

This may be a harsh reality check to some people (especially former 3E and Pathfinder players IME), but that is the reality of 5E. You are free to play by RAW, but you are not expected to do so. There is official support for people to create and share aspects of the game that WotC has not yet addressed (within set rules, limiting new settings). This is WotC solution to bloat: if groups want it, they can have it, but it will not done by them.
 



DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
For me... I've seen your point as the result of a way of thinking that many people appear to have. Which is that there is still very much a "D&D is a thing to WIN" mode of thinking.

I have seen in countless threads during 5E and 4E and 3E the stark belief of some players that they cannot NOT use something that is in the game-- they cannot willing nerf themselves, even if the thing they are using is something they dislike or even outright hate. If it's in the game, then they HAVE to use it, because they are not playing to their highest intelligence and skill if they aren't. And to not do so is an anathema to game playing. D&D is a game-- a game that has a "win state" (which is not to die and lose your character)-- and thus making choices that don't advance yourself towards that win state goes against everything that is holy about game playing.

As a result, the only way that person can be happy is if the game itself does not use or offer things that they don't like, thus entirely negating the need to self-nerf. If it's not in the game, then they never have to make the conscious decision NOT to use it. Their problem is solved for them.

And I think this is why people get so adamant about not having the game add things they don't want. They don't want to have to make the choice not to use it. Because to make that choice means to play sub-optimally, which they think says something poorly about themselves as game players. If you aren't playing to win then you are a bad player. And people just can't handle that thought.

I mean, it's the same exact thing when it comes to "re-balancing" the rules-- how many times have we seen complaints here of players who are sick and tired of seeing the exact same classes/subclasses/builds used in their games over and over and over again? They want all these other fluffy concepts in the game to be used because they aren't overdone-- but they don't ever get used because they supposedly just aren't "as good" as the ones that get repeatedly taken. So they demand that WotC do something about this-- that WotC "re-balance" the game-- so that the other options WILL get taken, and thus they no longer have to be bored with seeing the same small number of things re-used because their players have to "play to win". As though it's WotC's job to make the game work the way they want it to.

I mean to all those people I always end up reacting here on the boards the same way... which is posting about personal responsibility and how it's NOT WotC's job to fix things you don't like. They just give you tools, YOU have to decide whether or not to use them. And most people seem to rather complain then actually get their hands dirty.
 
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Nagol

Unimportant
I agree a designer needs a vision and should create just enough to provide a comprehensive experience that conforms to that vision.

Unfortunately, each person that encounters that potential experience has their own unique take on that same vision. So the designer's take may not be 'complete' for that potential user. Some designers like to provide a toolset that is wider and allows a larger proportion of the potential users be consider it complete at the risk of providing 'too much' for other potential users.

There is no right answer, just a preference along a continuum.
 

Undrave

Hero
It's an interesting question. It really depends on where you feel that majority of emphasis should be placed, I guess. The vast majority of time spent playing D&D is spent ... playing D&D. And that has nothing, or at best, little to do with character concepts. I mean, take Brad (PLEASE TAKE BRAD!) who has played Legolas, the Elven Archer, for four decades. He doesn't care about character concepts, so long as there is a pointy-eared critter that can shoot a bow.

But it's also true that, with 2.5e (the class splat books) and certainly 3e that more player engagement was fostered by making Chargen and Charop its own, well, minigame. Or if you prefer ... playing different character concepts that have meaningful mechanical differentiation. Some people really like that.

I'm just not sure how much play you get. I mean, I used to have infinite amounts of time to play, but even then, I didn't get to play full campaigns will all the different characters in just base 1e (or even B/X). Sometimes, I think that a plethora of options leads to dissatisfaction, and a continuing search for even more. That's more behavioral economics, though.

Anyway, I'd rather guard against bloat than stagnation at this time.

I don't get THAT much play time, but I do get tired of the same character after a while. I did 3 levels or so as a Druid and I felt I had seen enough. I snuck around as a Spider, I got info from animals, I unleashed a pack of 8 wolves on unsuspecting villains, I used Plant Growth to stop a caravan of slavers, etc. I had done the 'Cool Things' the character had to offer that got me interested in it in the first place and I was ready to try something else. I was going to stick with my Druid longer but then he died and I decided not to have the party invest in his resurrection only for me to ditch them a few sessions later ya know?

Another with character generation being a thing is that it keeps us engaged with the game away from the table. I can come in here and talk about builds and stuff, I can pore over books, I can discuss the options in the books. It keeps DnD in my mind. If we only had the PHB we'd have less to talk about.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But it's also true that, with 2.5e (the class splat books) and certainly 3e that more player engagement was fostered by making Chargen and Charop its own, well, minigame.
Somewhat cancelled off by the reduced player engagement, fostered by the same thing, from players who would rather spend their time playing their characters than building them and-or who aren't all about the system-mastery game-within-the-game.
DEFCON 1 said:
I have seen in countless threads during 5E and 4E and 3E the stark belief of some players that they cannot NOT use something that is in the game-- they cannot willing nerf themselves, even if the thing they are using is something they dislike or even outright hate. If it's in the game, then they HAVE to use it, because they are not playing to their highest intelligence and skill if they aren't. And to not do so is an anathema to game playing. D&D is a game-- a game that has a "win state" (which is not to die and lose your character)-- and thus making choices that don't advance yourself towards that win state goes against everything that is holy about game playing.

As a result, the only way that person can be happy is if the game itself does not use or offer things that they don't like, thus entirely negating the need to self-nerf. If it's not in the game, then they never have to make the conscious decision NOT to use it. Their problem is solved for them.
Players feel they have to use those options because they know full well that if they don't, someone else at the table probably will; increasing that PC's odds of surviving (winning) at expense of your own. It's almost like an arms race, where the only way to truly curtail it is to not produce the arms (options) in the first place.

3e and its offspring are/were particularly bad for this.

And sure, non-AL DMs can ban whatever they like, but many don't want to be the Grinch at the table (and-or get out-talked or out-voted by the players) and so they just accept what's in the books.
 


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