D&D General Less is More: Why You Can't Get What You Want in D&D

Clint_L

Legend
5e is about at my crunch limit, and I agree with Snarff that WotC has been smart to approach 5e as a kind of modular system, where you can bolt on new pieces through 3PP or their own setting expansions while leaving the core game more or less intact.

That's why I am a bit trepidatious about a few of the 2024 features. Weapons mastery, for example, adds another aspect of complexity - and thus time - to the area of the game that I already sometimes find tedious, combat. I get that it adds more options to allow martial classes to make a few new strategic choices in combat, and that's a good thing from some perspectives. But not all. Generally, if I'm playing a barbarian I've intentionally chosen a very basic class.

It's easy to say that more is good, but it's not without cost. As the game accrues more moving parts, it becomes less accessible to new players and more exploitable by experts. And that can become a real problem.

Edit: I played World of Warcraft for many years, right from Vanilla. And you could see this happening. As the game added expansions, it also added new abilities and power-ups, generally to the delight of harcore fans. Who doesn't like new stuff? But it also inevitably became more elitist and arcane, so that there was no way a new player could really wander into the game and expect to be in a raiding guild any time soon. To keep active in a strong guild, you had to stay on the cutting edge of tactics, add-ons, class builds, etc.

I'm not saying that D&D is anything like the grind of playing in a game like that. But making the game more complicated inevitably makes it more for the elite. And I don't think that is good for a game like D&D. The greatest strength 5e has is its wide accessibility.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Belen

Hero
The issue, for me, is that if you're ruling away the "base assumptions" of a system, that suggests (again, to me) that you probably shouldn't be using that system in the first place. When I'm talking about not using something, it's typically not something that speaks to the basic framework of how the rules operate. I meant something like "no monks in this campaign" or "there are no elves in this world," not "attacks of opportunity don't exist" or "we aren't using the flanking rules."
Sure, but D&D is a gateway game. The rules were not super crunch heavy until 3.5. It became a very tactical, combat focused game with heavy crunch. This continued into 4e. 5e brings it more inline with 1e, 2e, 3e.

Now, I do think 5e could use more crunch as supplemental books for those who really want it; however, I think it has a nice balance in the base game that helps invest new players while continuing to be interesting for veterans.
 

Belen

Hero
5e is about at my crunch limit, and I agree with Snarff that WotC has been smart to approach 5e as a kind of modular system, where you can bolt on new pieces through 3PP or their own setting expansions while leaving the core game more or less intact.

That's why I am a bit trepidatious about a few of the 2024 features. Weapons mastery, for example, adds another aspect of complexity - and thus time - to the area of the game that I already sometimes find tedious, combat. I get that it adds more options to allow martial classes to make a few new strategic choices in combat, and that's a good thing from some perspectives. But not all. Generally, if I'm playing a barbarian I've intentionally chosen a very basic class.

It's easy to say that more is good, but it's not without cost. As the game accrues more moving parts, it becomes less accessible to new players and more exploitable by experts. And that can become a real problem.
This. Very well said.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
It's the opposite for me. 5E having so little crunch is a huge part of the reason I just can't get into it.
I’m in this weird middle ground where I think 5e has enough crunch but everyone keeps adding in subclasses, feats and spells that are all some variation of gives advantage/disadvantage and think that really gets boring.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I get it; however, I maintain that it is easier to add crunch to the base system than remove it.
I think the key is that it depends on how far apart what you want and what you have are.

In practice crunchy games tend to have so many mechanics that depend on others that it gets really hard to remove or modify them without a ton of unintended effects.

But likewise, it’s not easy to add those crunchy dependencies in if the game isn’t designed for them.

I think the takeaway is that RPGs aren’t actually all that modular, at least without committing to a great deal of effort.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
9e97d793-e328-4190-b181-a3c51e860700_text.gif
Beeeeeeeer.

OIP (4).jpg


Drink that and you'll understand the second. For the last reference, you're on your own. 🤷‍♂️
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's the opposite for me. 5E having so little crunch is a huge part of the reason I just can't get into it.

I've mentioned before that part of how I measure how much I like a piece of art (that is, any instance of a creative work in a particular medium) is how many distinct modes I can engage with it in, i.e. how many different ways it "speaks to me." Each such mode is distinct, in that they're separate from each other, and the presence of one doesn't detract from another (the Stormwind fallacy is a reminder of this). In that regard, role-playing as an activity is distinct from engaging with the mechanical underpinnings of a given system. When the latter is absent (or rather, dramatically reduced), the former doesn't suddenly become that much more dynamic; it's just there, with nothing else to appreciate.
Yeah. While I agree with 3e and Pathfinder having too many books of crunch, if you'd cut the release rate to 25% it would have lasted 32 years and not 8. That would still probably triple or quadruple or even more, the rate of 5e crunch releases. There's a very wide middle ground of "More than 5e" and "Far less than 3e" that still allows for a very, very long edition lifespan.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've always found it easier to point to something in the rules and say "see that? We're not using it" than to have to write/find new rules for something that I want, but to each their own.
Humans being humans tend to be upset when things are taken away from them, but happen when they get new neat toys. It's easier to add than subtract, not that subtracting is all that hard.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
There's a very wide middle ground of "More than 5e" and "Far less than 3e" that still allows for a very, very long edition lifespan.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

It's the M. Creosote problem. You think you can always eat more, until suddenly, one more wafer thin mint is too much.

Could 5e have put out more without compromising the lifespan? Probably? Maybe? All we do know is that it is the most successful edition of D&D to date, ushered in a new golden age of D&D, and not only had an incredibly long life (the longest of any WoTC D&D), but is continuing on with the revision.

Given the rapacious and voracious nature of Hasbro, which consumes IP and excretes shareholder value, I am thankful that 5e was able to be developed in a low-stakes environment and allowed to grow in the manner that it did.

If anything, I think that we will see an increased pace of product moving forward after the new edition (and with DDB) to meet profit goals, and we will see how that works. I am inclined to believe that increased product pace will be bad for the traditional market (pen and paper) but I am agnostic as to the DDB / Virtual TT market.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Learning of the term "shelfware" just hit me deeply because it can be applied to 99% of my TTRPG books.
It's probably true of mine too, but I made the decision at some point that I was going to buy things partly with the aim of supporting the creators and not guilt myself if I didn't actually use them.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top