5E Mechanics you don't want to see, ever

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
With all the usual caveats about everyone's experience being different, etc., etc., I have a hard time seeing this being a real issue, since getting involved in what's going on is what makes the game fun, so there's already a motivation to do that. But the converse does seem like a big problem: giving individual characters XP for things they do runs a heavy risk of discriminating against support-oriented playstyles. You can try to parcel out each character's contribution to an outcome, but it's just about impossible to do that objectively (reminds me of the rich business owner who says they don't benefit from government, despite the fact that their business uses roads, employees educated with public money, scientific and tech advances developed by others, etc.). Better to just take as a given that everyone contributes, and not split hairs about who did what.
Yeah, it seems unlikely to be much of a toxic play style as much as one that someone particularly introverted is going to stick to because that's how they're comfortable playing. It seems to me that dishing out individual XPs based on active involvement is going to tend to discriminate based on player personality rather than a real difference in PC performance.

Of course, mileage may vary. A player might cynically exploit either XP generating option - but if so, that sounds more like a toxic player than a naturally manifesting toxic play style.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Bring on the level drain. Bring on the death. Barghest eats my soul? Awesome.

Super dangerous (to pcs) effects are effects i never want to see GO AWAY. They are some very vital mechanics for a lot of people's play style. I can understand if some groups opt to play without them. But i say they should stay in the game.
Super dangerous effects, as far as I'm concerned, are fine. But there are some ways to implement them that are worse than others. Losing actual character levels/XP was a crap mechanic - always was. How does someone become less experienced? Tracking negative levels as they evolved through 3.0 (and could still lead to XP loss) and finally to PF1 was a much better mechanic. The penalties they imposed were significant and they didn't screw around with a stupid metagame issue of losing your life experiences.
 
Super dangerous effects, as far as I'm concerned, are fine. But there are some ways to implement them that are worse than others. Losing actual character levels/XP was a crap mechanic - always was. How does someone become less experienced? Tracking negative levels as they evolved through 3.0 (and could still lead to XP loss) and finally to PF1 was a much better mechanic. The penalties they imposed were significant and they didn't screw around with a stupid metagame issue of losing your life experiences.
At that point the xp is a proxy for bits and pieces of your soul starting with the outer layers being vampirized. Seems plausible to me. And far more dire a threat than many other things. Will really be feared.

LOVE IT!

Really depends on how high you want to, and will have fun having them, (to) be at.

Sign my character up for a wrestling contest with a vampire and his trained barghest!

English is not my first language...

HALP!
 

Esker

Explorer
Of course, mileage may vary. A player might cynically exploit either XP generating option - but if so, that sounds more like a toxic player than a naturally manifesting toxic play style.
Yup. And the thing is, I bet you're much more likely to see players like that in groups that use individual XP...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In my campaign I used starting level 1 when someone joined when the rest was up to level 4. Since I gave XP only for players present there is a level range of 1 or two levels difference across the group. But I designed the adventures so that it considers these level differences. From level 5 up to probably level 9
5 will be the level for someone joining.
This is kind of like what I do: there's a "floor" level at which new characters join in*, which slowly rises during the campaign as the party's average level rises. Right now my groups are in the 6-10 range and, depending on specific party, the floor would be either 6th or 7th. Stats and hit points are rolled. Starting wealth/gear is also somewhat random, to reflect the relative good or bad luck this character's had thus far in its [unplayed] career, but whatever gear is given is always suitable for the character to use (e.g. if my dice try to give a 6th-Wizard +2 plate mail it gets a +2 Ring: Protection instead) again reflecting the choices said character would likely have made.

That said, they've all got so many characters now that truly new PCs are few and far between; they just cycle the ones they have in and out.

* - exception: for a new player joining the game the first PC comes in at the party average, rounded up. If that one dies or retires, the next comes in at the floor level.

Side note: I think that rolling attributes can make much more differences than level differences
You might be a bit surprised on this one.

We've always used rolled stats, and have rolled up and played hundreds of characters over that time. I still have nearly all the character sheets of the characters that were in my campaigns, ditto for the other main DM in our crew.

Just for kicks a few years ago I took a sample of 50 or so random characters whose careers didn't last long - "one-hit wonders", we call these - and another sample of as many characters as I could find who'd had long and fruitful careers (using 10+ adventures as the benchmark for "long"), and ran some comparisons of their racially-adjusted** starting stats.

The difference in average stat (i.e. add them up and divide by 6) turned out to be fairly trivial between the one-hits and the long-term types. What made a much bigger difference stat-wise was having at least one really good stat as opposed to lots of mundane stats (e.g. a 17-11-11-11-11-11 avg 12.00 had a measurably better chance of success than 14-14-14-12-12-12 avg 13.00 even though the second character's average is a full point higher). That said, there were one-hits with averages over 16 (!) and long-termers with averages below 11, so read into that what you will.

** - I used racially adjusted because to try and reverse-engineer all those characters to what the dice actually said would have been beyond tedious. What I was after was the stats the characters actually had in play, and we've always used the same roll-up system of 5d6 drop 2.

Conclusion: while numeretic stat disparity might make a difference in day-to-day play at the table its effect on the overall career length (or life) expectancy of any given character was surprisingly minimal.

Disclaimer: this is all using characters from our modified 1e system, where bonuses don't tend to start until 15 (but conversely, a stat of 7 never carries a penalty). In 5e, with its linear bonus progression, even a tiny discrepancy in stat average might have more of an impact; but someone else will have to run the numbers for that. :) 5e also has a much quicker ASI progression than our system does.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
With all the usual caveats about everyone's experience being different, etc., etc., I have a hard time seeing this being a real issue, since getting involved in what's going on is what makes the game fun, so there's already a motivation to do that. But the converse does seem like a big problem: giving individual characters XP for things they do runs a heavy risk of discriminating against support-oriented playstyles. You can try to parcel out each character's contribution to an outcome, but it's just about impossible to do that objectively (reminds me of the rich business owner who says they don't benefit from government, despite the fact that their business uses roads, employees educated with public money, scientific and tech advances developed by others, etc.). Better to just take as a given that everyone contributes, and not split hairs about who did what.
To a certain extent, I agree. For example, the healer who stands ready to patch up the front line, or the unlucky sods in a combat so short (e.g. the opponent is one-shotted early in the first round) that we didn't even get to their rolled initiative - they all get xp.

But if a character's not even there at the time, or who sleeps through the whole encounter, or specifically doesn't contribute anything (EDIT to add: or take any risk), I see no good reason to give that character xp.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, it seems unlikely to be much of a toxic play style as much as one that someone particularly introverted is going to stick to because that's how they're comfortable playing. It seems to me that dishing out individual XPs based on active involvement is going to tend to discriminate based on player personality rather than a real difference in PC performance.
It's on the DM to make sure the xp are given out based on what the character does rather than what the player does, because otherwise yes: it would become survival of the loudest. :)
 

Esker

Explorer
But if a character's not even there at the time, or who sleeps through the whole encounter, or specifically doesn't contribute anything (EDIT to add: or take any risk), I see no good reason to give that character xp.
Is that a thing you've seen happen? As in, the player is there but they just have their character sit out an encounter? I don't think I've ever seen that. Now I suppose there might be a split party situation where one group gets into trouble and the other group has no way of knowing or no way to get there to help, but that doesn't sound like the kind of thing you're talking about.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
Cantrips without limit. Makes the game boring there's no choice cantrips are automatically better than any attack you're just picking the most appropriate spell.
 
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Coroc

Adventurer
This is kind of like what I do: there's a "floor" level at which new characters join in*, which slowly rises during the campaign as the party's average level rises. Right now my groups are in the 6-10 range and, depending on specific party, the floor would be either 6th or 7th. Stats and hit points are rolled. Starting wealth/gear is also somewhat random, to reflect the relative good or bad luck this character's had thus far in its [unplayed] career, but whatever gear is given is always suitable for the character to use (e.g. if my dice try to give a 6th-Wizard +2 plate mail it gets a +2 Ring: Protection instead) again reflecting the choices said character would likely have made.

That said, they've all got so many characters now that truly new PCs are few and far between; they just cycle the ones they have in and out.

* - exception: for a new player joining the game the first PC comes in at the party average, rounded up. If that one dies or retires, the next comes in at the floor level.

You might be a bit surprised on this one.

We've always used rolled stats, and have rolled up and played hundreds of characters over that time. I still have nearly all the character sheets of the characters that were in my campaigns, ditto for the other main DM in our crew.

Just for kicks a few years ago I took a sample of 50 or so random characters whose careers didn't last long - "one-hit wonders", we call these - and another sample of as many characters as I could find who'd had long and fruitful careers (using 10+ adventures as the benchmark for "long"), and ran some comparisons of their racially-adjusted** starting stats.

The difference in average stat (i.e. add them up and divide by 6) turned out to be fairly trivial between the one-hits and the long-term types. What made a much bigger difference stat-wise was having at least one really good stat as opposed to lots of mundane stats (e.g. a 17-11-11-11-11-11 avg 12.00 had a measurably better chance of success than 14-14-14-12-12-12 avg 13.00 even though the second character's average is a full point higher). That said, there were one-hits with averages over 16 (!) and long-termers with averages below 11, so read into that what you will.

** - I used racially adjusted because to try and reverse-engineer all those characters to what the dice actually said would have been beyond tedious. What I was after was the stats the characters actually had in play, and we've always used the same roll-up system of 5d6 drop 2.

Conclusion: while numeretic stat disparity might make a difference in day-to-day play at the table its effect on the overall career length (or life) expectancy of any given character was surprisingly minimal.

Disclaimer: this is all using characters from our modified 1e system, where bonuses don't tend to start until 15 (but conversely, a stat of 7 never carries a penalty). In 5e, with its linear bonus progression, even a tiny discrepancy in stat average might have more of an impact; but someone else will have to run the numbers for that. :) 5e also has a much quicker ASI progression than our system does.

Very interesting, although your custom system kind of explains what happened there:

your 14-14-14-12-12-12 avg 13.00 was not profiting as much from your system (Boon only on 15 and above) as he would have with 5e, whereas the 17-11-11-11-11-11 avg 12.00 had at least one stat which shined, and probably used this as his main stat.

With 5e normally +1 from something does not really make a difference but from +3 onwards it is a big thing because of bound accuracy.

Question: do you mod your monsters also so that everything fits together again? Do you adjust their attributes analogue to the players, so that they only get bonus / malus at 15 respective 6?
 
Generally speaking, I hate "gamist" mechanics with too weak or no association to the narrative.

In 5e the closest thing to that is possibly the "Lucky" feat. Basically anything that says "you get this bonus or reroll because you're a player character, so you are supposed to win the game" is not to my taste. I can live with one feat like that in the game, especially because at least it has a cost (it costs... one feat!), but I do not want to see stuff like "hero points" or "action points" or any other I-win-buttons in the default game.

I also generally despise "retraining rules". If a player has a problem with a previous character choice and finds out she's never using it, she talks to me and we arrange a retrofit of her character. It's not a problem to discuss something like that between DM and players, but it's awful for the game to grant this right by default to a player. Fortunately, 5e does not exactly have retraining rules... yes there are instances of for example swapping a known spell for another, but this actually always allows to drop a lower-level spell for a higher-level spell, so the purpose is not exactly to change your mind but to actually get a small enhancement as you level up.

The worst thing however is probably "factotum" characters, those which can cover one role on one day and another role on the next day. For me, a character that can do anything anytime, or can do anything on different days, is the bane of roleplay games, because it throws the meaning of "role" away.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Generally speaking, I hate "gamist" mechanics with too weak or no association to the narrative.

In 5e the closest thing to that is possibly the "Lucky" feat. Basically anything that says "you get this bonus or reroll because you're a player character, so you are supposed to win the game" is not to my taste. I can live with one feat like that in the game, especially because at least it has a cost (it costs... one feat!), but I do not want to see stuff like "hero points" or "action points" or any other I-win-buttons in the default game.

I also generally despise "retraining rules". If a player has a problem with a previous character choice and finds out she's never using it, she talks to me and we arrange a retrofit of her character. It's not a problem to discuss something like that between DM and players, but it's awful for the game to grant this right by default to a player. Fortunately, 5e does not exactly have retraining rules... yes there are instances of for example swapping a known spell for another, but this actually always allows to drop a lower-level spell for a higher-level spell, so the purpose is not exactly to change your mind but to actually get a small enhancement as you level up.

The worst thing however is probably "factotum" characters, those which can cover one role on one day and another role on the next day. For me, a character that can do anything anytime, or can do anything on different days, is the bane of roleplay games, because it throws the meaning of "role" away.
Well, you got inspiration though so a kind of lucky feat light. I like both, and with inspiration I gladly allow it to afflict rolls made by me the DM or some other player. It is a twist of fate style mechanic which complements the else strict rule set of 5e in a perfect way imho

Agree on your view on retraining, if something really is an issue a good DM finds an unbureaucratic way around it, we do not need a rule for that except eventually for official tournaments and for these I would just say nope bad luck.

On factotum, that's why I do not like regular MC . I prefer the solution via backgrounds if there is some role in the group which is not covered due to character selection. Still that background - best use and example is to give a somewhat dexterous and perceptive character criminal background to replace the trapper / lockpicker rogue - involves that the role of the character reflects it every day not only when needed. A paladin still living out his criminal origins from time to time e.g. does not sound very convincing to me.
 

Hussar

Legend
Wow. I love Factotum type characters actually. Being able to rearrange my character to a different approach on any given day was the primary draw of my old Binder character. Most fun I've ever had in D&D to be honest. Absolutely loved it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Is that a thing you've seen happen? As in, the player is there but they just have their character sit out an encounter? I don't think I've ever seen that. Now I suppose there might be a split party situation where one group gets into trouble and the other group has no way of knowing or no way to get there to help, but that doesn't sound like the kind of thing you're talking about.
First off, whether the player is there or not is irrelevant: the character does what it would normally do, regardless.

But yes, sometimes - particularly in a bigger party - someone will intentionally hold a character back, usually for reasons of risk aversion (e.g. the heavily-armoured tank sees the rust monster, flees, and leaves everyone else to deal with it) or, less often, because the player realizes the character for whatever reason simply has no viable ways or means of contributing in that particular situation.

Other times it's unintentional - for example if something attacks the party's night camp and the characters on watch manage to deal with it before anyone else gets out of their tents, or even wakes up. No xp for the sleepers. :)

Split party is one that happens all the time - a scout goes ahead, finds trouble, and deals with it singlehandedly; an away team goes back to town to resupply while the remaining crew fend off the local wildlife for a few days; half the party's down a deep shaft when what's left at the top gets attacked, and the "down" characters can't get back up in time to help out....that sort of thing. In all cases, those who do nothing get nothing.

With one exception, these things tend to more or less balance out over the long run; that exception being those characters who are overly risk-averse and who like to make themselves scarce at the first sign of any serious threat. They tend to get less, and I'm perfectly fine with that. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Very interesting, although your custom system kind of explains what happened there:

your 14-14-14-12-12-12 avg 13.00 was not profiting as much from your system (Boon only on 15 and above) as he would have with 5e, whereas the 17-11-11-11-11-11 avg 12.00 had at least one stat which shined, and probably used this as his main stat.

With 5e normally +1 from something does not really make a difference but from +3 onwards it is a big thing because of bound accuracy.
Where the 14-14-14-12-12-12 should in theory benefit but doesn't seem to is that we often use roll-under-stat for various things e.g. perception, knowledge, etc.

Question: do you mod your monsters also so that everything fits together again? Do you adjust their attributes analogue to the players, so that they only get bonus / malus at 15 respective 6?
The monsters are what they are, and use the same bonus-penalty system as PCs*. A typical average Orc, for example, has strength and con both high enough (usually 16-19) to get into minor bonus but gawds help it if it has to think about anything; a typical leprechaun gets a big AC benefit from its 18+ dexterity; and so on. Giants get strength bonuses. Kindred-race foes use the same char-gen system as PCs (unless I'm using a canned module; there I take what the module gives me and build around that).

* - which is a difference from 1e RAW, where monsters don't tend to get benefits from abilities at all.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The worst thing however is probably "factotum" characters, those which can cover one role on one day and another role on the next day. For me, a character that can do anything anytime, or can do anything on different days, is the bane of roleplay games, because it throws the meaning of "role" away.
I call these "Jack of All Trades" characters, and don't like 'em much either.

From the player's view they're great - you get to be involved in everything all the time - but from the DM's view they're a pain: they don't need the rest of the party as they can do it all on their own, so they either becomes lone wolves (which I don't mind) or start seeing the other PCs as nothing but support (which I do mind).

I'd much rather see it where for every strength there's a corresponding inherent weakness, which you either have to live with or find someone else to cover for you. This reinforces party inter-reliance.
 
Generally speaking, I hate "gamist" mechanics with too weak or no association to the narrative.

In 5e the closest thing to that is possibly the "Lucky" feat. Basically anything that says "you get this bonus or reroll because you're a player character, so you are supposed to win the game" is not to my taste. I can live with one feat like that in the game, especially because at least it has a cost (it costs... one feat!), but I do not want to see stuff like "hero points" or "action points" or any other I-win-buttons in the default game.

I also generally despise "retraining rules". If a player has a problem with a previous character choice and finds out she's never using it, she talks to me and we arrange a retrofit of her character. It's not a problem to discuss something like that between DM and players, but it's awful for the game to grant this right by default to a player. Fortunately, 5e does not exactly have retraining rules... yes there are instances of for example swapping a known spell for another, but this actually always allows to drop a lower-level spell for a higher-level spell, so the purpose is not exactly to change your mind but to actually get a small enhancement as you level up.

The worst thing however is probably "factotum" characters, those which can cover one role on one day and another role on the next day. For me, a character that can do anything anytime, or can do anything on different days, is the bane of roleplay games, because it throws the meaning of "role" away.
Agreed. Also its just so cheap. Cheapens the game. Not to mention its annoying whenever a new day starts and someone is like "i need 15 minutes to reset several tons of things guys. Hold on a moment. Have 3 beers while you are waiting or something." Sometimes its faster than that. Often its not. Or if they arent tye type who changes things massively to reoptimize every day then its just the fact they have no blindspot. Nothing. Did i mention its cheap? (I acknowledge there are people out there who can pull off it not being cheap. If thats you, please realize im not talking about you. Talking about a lot of players though. This is why i banned factotum long ago.)
 
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I call these "Jack of All Trades" characters, and don't like 'em much either.

From the player's view they're great - you get to be involved in everything all the time - but from the DM's view they're a pain: they don't need the rest of the party as they can do it all on their own, so they either becomes lone wolves (which I don't mind) or start seeing the other PCs as nothing but support (which I do mind).

I'd much rather see it where for every strength there's a corresponding inherent weakness, which you either have to live with or find someone else to cover for you. This reinforces party inter-reliance.
id say its honestly very hit or miss whether it will even be consistantly considered great from a player's point of view. There are a lot of players (myself included) for instance who dont want to always have easy options. So its not even always great from the player perspective. Especially if they are the type who actively wants areas they are weaker in.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
From the player's view they're great - you get to be involved in everything all the time - but from the DM's view they're a pain: they don't need the rest of the party as they can do it all on their own, so they either becomes lone wolves (which I don't mind) or start seeing the other PCs as nothing but support (which I do mind).
That's... not actually how those classes work in play unless they're very badly designed indeed. Your chief error is in the phrase "all the time". Central to the mechanics of something like a factotum or a binder or an incarnate is that you don't have every ability all the time: you have to pick what you're going to be at any given time, and if you realize you need to be something else, you're out of luck until tomorrow.

Moreover, whatever you choose, you're probably not going to be quite as good at it as a standard specialist class, especially if it's a role that's "off" for your build, so as a practical matter you tend to pick a favorite role and play to that. For example, a 3E binder's ability scores don't change (much), so a high-Strength binder is going to want to spend most of their time with warrior-type vestiges, pick martial feats and items, and so on. They can choose to pretend to be a rogue for a day, but with their lower Dexterity and lack of sneaky build choices, they're not even going to come close to what a real rogue can do.

The problematic do-it-all classes in 3E were always the druid and the wizard. Wildshape alone blew these JoaT classes out of the water for flexibility.
 
That's... not actually how those classes work in play unless they're very badly designed indeed. Your chief error is in the phrase "all the time". Central to the mechanics of something like a factotum or a binder or an incarnate is that you don't have every ability all the time: you have to pick what you're going to be at any given time, and if you realize you need to be something else, you're out of luck until tomorrow.

Moreover, whatever you choose, you're probably not going to be quite as good at it as a standard specialist class, especially if it's a role that's "off" for your build, so as a practical matter you tend to pick a favorite role and play to that. For example, a 3E binder's ability scores don't change (much), so a high-Strength binder is going to want to spend most of their time with warrior-type vestiges, pick martial feats and items, and so on. They can choose to pretend to be a rogue for a day, but with their lower Dexterity and lack of sneaky build choices, they're not even going to come close to what a real rogue can do.

The problematic do-it-all classes in 3E were always the druid and the wizard. Wildshape alone blew these JoaT classes out of the water for flexibility.
Honestly i think in 3e factotum was more easily broken than the big three casters (wiz dru and cle). Your progression may not be full but it goes to 7th and you get access to a lot of abilities in a lot of areas thay give immediate access to a dangerously large number of doors if pursued.
 

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