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

For the benefit of those who reported this post, were silently offended, etc., der_kluge was referencing one of the worst RPGs ever made, F.A.T.A.L., which actually included such a rule.

From the infamous RPGNet review:
HAH!!! Thats a hilarious rule.

It IS terrible though. Not realistic. Muscle mass generally correlates positively with intelligence. Albeit weakly. I suppose the idea is that being mentally retarded can cause bursts of strength where the brain doesnt restrain the body's full potential or some other anime logic.

Still funny.
 

bedir than

Explorer
my Japanese friends are openly honest that they don't really speak or read what the priest is saying. Too old and idiosyncratic.
So, they don't know the language the way people in D&D know languages. That isn't evidence that alignment languages should exist. It's evidence that alignment languages were dumb.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
HAH!!! Thats a hilarious rule.

It IS terrible though. Not realistic. Muscle mass generally correlates positively with intelligence. Albeit weakly. I suppose the idea is that being mentally retarded can cause bursts of strength where the brain doesnt restrain the body's full potential or some other anime logic.

Still funny.
No, you're giving FATAL too much credit (not a sentence I expected to write today). It was written by a few comprehensively horrible people who simply regurgitated every bigoted stereotype about women and various races and the mentally disabled and every other marginalized group you can think of -- while ironically embodying every stereotype you can think of about unsocialized and unwashed basement-dwelling manchildren. There is no "idea" behind this or anything else they wrote beyond "lol retards!"

And no, it's not funny.
 
No, you're giving FATAL too much credit (not a sentence I expected to write today). It was written by a few comprehensively horrible people who simply regurgitated every bigoted stereotype about women and various races and the mentally disabled and every other marginalized group you can think of -- while ironically embodying every stereotype you can think of about unsocialized and unwashed basement-dwelling manchildren. There is no "idea" behind this or anything else they wrote beyond "lol retards!"

And no, it's not funny.
Oh...so that was the extent of their wit?

Disappointing...im disappointed...
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Anyway, changing the subject...

How about cross-level balancing mechanics? Like wizards being very weak at low levels but very powerful at high levels. Or even worse, nonhuman races just being straight-up better than humans until they run face-first into a level cap.

We can expand this to all sorts of balance schemes that aren't actually felt before or after a certain point in the campaign. Like limiting character creation choices, which cease to matter the moment the character is created. E.g. race-class limitations.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Anyway, changing the subject...

How about cross-level balancing mechanics? Like wizards being very weak at low levels but very powerful at high levels. Or even worse, nonhuman races just being straight-up better than humans until they run face-first into a level cap.

We can expand this to all sorts of balance schemes that aren't actually felt before or after a certain point in the campaign. Like limiting character creation choices, which cease to matter the moment the character is created. E.g. race-class limitations.
Indeed. Even effectively nonexistent limiters that technically apply forever, like the UA Mariner Fighting Style.

It’s a cool style that I allow anyway because Defensive is boring anyway, but the idea that you can pack more into Defensive if you restrict it to light armor and no shield is...just wrong, because it just means that only characters that would have been lightly armored with no shield anyway will ever take it. There isn’t an actual trade off.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
It’s a cool style that I allow anyway because Defensive is boring anyway, but the idea that you can pack more into Defensive if you restrict it to light armor and no shield is...just wrong, because it just means that only characters that would have been lightly armored with no shield anyway will ever take it. There isn’t an actual trade off.
Yeah, exactly, and putting the label "Mariner" on it doesn't help either, because there are a lot of light armor users who aren't mariners.

To partially address the Defensive-is-boring problem, I did add a fighting style specific to light armor, Mobility. Same as in 3E: +4 AC against opportunity attacks. I'd do the same for the other armor weights, but honestly, what PCs picking heavy armor want the most is usually just AC, so as boring as Defensive is it's probably the right design there. And medium armor in 5E is too meh for me to care about.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Weapon speed, because at least 75% of the players and 100% at Wizards have the total wrong belief that a dagger is faster than a great sword or halberd and should have the potential to attack first. So any additional rule on that doomed to be utter bs, leading to endless discussions with Dr. RAW Rulius Magistarius type of players.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
up
I think it's not an issue that one example can prove. 10th to 14th is a five level range where you are all into super levels. So to me it's not surprising that it works well enough in some cases. But by even CR 12 you have 9th level spells possible in the adversary and the odds of the 10th level enchanter having 100 hp is a tad slim.

But now let's propagate this back to say 1st-5th level parry. Odds that the "hero" of three battles in a row is the first level wizard (not even enchanter yet) ard pretty slim, right?

Personally, it would seem to me that before 9th level, the impact of a 5 level range of PCs really hits the lower PC hard. Its not insurmountable- the whole party can scale back thrircefforts, buff up the lesser and if the threats cooperate it can manage, but I would not call that being something that the system handles well.

After 9th, it matters much less, everyone is already super. But typically most games run most of their time in that 1-8 range, not 9-16.
up to 3 levels difference does not hurt at all, even in the range of 1-5. But also context is a factor here. If the level 1 gets jumped by all the mobs, like aggro radius in some MMORPG then it does hurt, but if the dm just steers the mobs in a balanced way then nothing happens.
 

Hussar

Legend
So, they don't know the language the way people in D&D know languages. That isn't evidence that alignment languages should exist. It's evidence that alignment languages were dumb.
You have to remember, in 1e, when they talk about alignment languages, that's precisely what they are - a specialized language to discuss morality (or lack thereof). IOW, you probably couldn't say, "How was your day" in an alignment language. Alignment language in 1e weren't "languages" in the sense that English or French is a language. It's a "language" in the sense that it's a means of communication regarding something very specialized and fairly esoteric.

IOW, while you might know your Catholic prayers in Latin, no one today could properly have a conversation in Latin. OTOH, there was a time when you could have a pretty detailed discussion about the Bible and Scripture, in Latin, even though, it is a dead language.

One must remember that when we're crossing editions, the rules change considerably. The 5e rules for languages and the 1e rules for languages are not the same.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I think all you would have to do to make alignment language relevant in 5E would be to expand on the languages like abyssal and infernal. Infernal is LE, abyssal is CE. Expand celestial into 3 different languages. Add a new one for the different planes. And then make it so that if you are not that alignment it is noticeable to those trying to hear you speak it. Maybe have some spells written in those languages that can’t quite fully be translated and used unless you know the language and are that alignment. These spells shouldn’t just be another version of fireball or detect magic, but spell that further the agenda of those alignments by being a pure expression of them. Just some cool ideas at 7:45am while drinking my morning coffee trying to wake up.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
up

up to 3 levels difference does not hurt at all, even in the range of 1-5. But also context is a factor here. If the level 1 gets jumped by all the mobs, like aggro radius in some MMORPG then it does hurt, but if the dm just steers the mobs in a balanced way then nothing happens.
Well the example covered a four level gap and I have to say that unless you are meaning "steer" and "balanced" to mean "secretly cover" it's just not the same at 1st-5th down parties.

CR 2 ogres are fine opponents for a party of CR 5s with a new CR1 but even one strike's average damage drops the level 1, even a 13 hp con 16 fighter. If it's more like a 7-8 hp wizard, instant death is in the range of non-crit possible.

But as the case was put, the odds that the hero of such a fight us the levrl 1 fighter or other gets practically non-existent barring exceptional setups which makes the hero for three in a row not at all anything outside of fluke.

Once you get the lower out of first tier, which means level 9 pcs with level 5 "new guy" its certainly changed a lot to be manageable.

It doesnt take gang hammers to stop 1st level folks in their tracks when the enemy is suitable for 5th level groups. Sometimes it's just average.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well the example covered a four level gap and I have to say that unless you are meaning "steer" and "balanced" to mean "secretly cover" it's just not the same at 1st-5th down parties.

CR 2 ogres are fine opponents for a party of CR 5s with a new CR1 but even one strike's average damage drops the level 1, even a 13 hp con 16 fighter. If it's more like a 7-8 hp wizard, instant death is in the range of non-crit possible.
If the 7-8 hp wizard is dumb enough to get within melee reach of an ogre when there's a good front line to do the hand-to-hand stuff it probably deserves whatever it gets. (if the wizard is caught off guard that's a different story, and probably just bad luck)

But as the case was put, the odds that the hero of such a fight us the levrl 1 fighter or other gets practically non-existent barring exceptional setups which makes the hero for three in a row not at all anything outside of fluke.
No-one says the 1st-level has to be the hero ever, it just has to contribute what it can where it can until it catches up in level.

Kind of like a hench would in 1e, except there's no boss and it gets full xp.
 

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
This series of never-want-to-sees tells me you're one who doesn't like significantly bad things happening to characters.
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm not concerned with encounter difficulty or character death, for example.

I'm not interested in mechanics that encourage toxic play styles, and most of the mechanics I mentioned generally encourage that most toxic of play styles: fun at the expense of other players. I'm not interested in zero-sum fun mechanics. It's what Matt Coleville touches on in his Wangrod Defense video. Matt doesn't talk about it there, but the DM is just as capable of being a wangrod as anybody. I'm not interested in mechanics that encourage wangrods, and am less interested in any game that includes such mechanics by default.

Critical hits that can one-shot major foes
As long as it's hit point damage I'm much less concerned, but in general this should not be possible. My primary contention is with circumventing hit points as the mechanism for survival in combat. It's a pillar of the game and we should not introduce such mechanics easily. Yes, a level 19 rogue with a flaming scimitar can do 24d6+5 (89) damage. I'm not really concerned about that firstly because the other martial classes can do similar damage more reliably with feats and class abilities.

Obviously nobody concerned if Goblin #4583 gets decapitated by the PCs. It's only going to be there for 2 combat rounds anyways. But, no, I'm not really interested in giving the PCs or NPCs vorpal swords or swords of sharpness. I've seen both in play, and they're not really a compelling mechanic after the first couple combats.

Major unexpected XP or level gain e.g. from reading a Manual of Puissant Skill at Arms
I wouldn't work in our games due to how we handle XP, but I have no inherent problem with this as a major item reward any more than I have a problem with the +2 ability books, though I have never either come up in-game. I would never use them as randomly generated treasure.

Things that randomly bestow magic items or enchantments on PCs e.g. divine gifts or DoMT
I have no problem with magical or divine rewards.

I'm not a huge fan of Deck of Many Things, and much less of a fan of Rod of Wonder. The former has ended campaigns before, and the latter derailed a campaign I was playing in about 10 years ago so much that the DM removed the item by fiat (he was more sick of it than I was). All the warnings they give about these items are correct.

Even if I were to put DoMT into my current campaign, the following cards wouldn't work as presented: Balance (we ignore alignment for mortals and I'm not interested in denying player agency in this kind of character change), Fool or Jester or Sun (we use milestone XP), Comet (we use matched leveling). The following cards would derail the campaign from the current narrative: Donjon, The Fates, Flames, Rogue, The Void. That's half the deck, and it includes several cards from the 13 card deck.

Save or die when it's levied against the party's opponents
I'm not really interested in save or die or instant death anywhere in the game as much as it can be avoided. Again, I'm an opponent of circumventing hit points because hit points are designed to be the primary source of survivability in the game. I'm not rolling damage dice if someone leaps off a 1,000 foot cliff or is crushed in an avalanche, but as a mechanic for character actions it should not be available.

If yes, all's good (if a little dull). If no, we have a problem...
There is no problem at all. We're never going to play together, so your evaluation of my opinion is not particularly relevant. I don't care if you think my opinion on game design is internally consistent, and if you want to run a game with such mechanics I don't really care. I'm not trying to sound like a jerk, I'm just pointing out the obvious: Neither one of us sits at the other's table.

I'm just not interested in the game as whole being published and presented with mechanics that, IMX, lead to toxic gameplay styles.

Edit: Clarity.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
I'm a big fan of alignment languages, within the context of a world where all of the good guys are on one side of a war against all of the bad guys, and each side is going to need their own lingua franca.

The further you get away from that premise, the less sense it makes.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm not concerned with encounter difficulty or character death, for example.

I'm not interested in mechanics that encourage toxic play styles, and most of the mechanics I mentioned generally encourage that most toxic of play styles: fun at the expense of other players.
Level drain? Save-or-die? I'm having trouble seeing the connection between these and "fun at the expense of other players".

Unless you mean that these things increase the DM's fun at the expense of the players', but that would depend on the particular DM and approach, I suppose.

As long as it's hit point damage I'm much less concerned, but in general this should not be possible. My primary contention is with circumventing hit points as the mechanism for survival in combat. It's a pillar of the game and we should not introduce such mechanics easily. Yes, a level 19 rogue with a flaming scimitar can do 24d6+5 (89) damage. I'm not really concerned about that firstly because the other martial classes can do similar damage more reliably with feats and class abilities.

Obviously nobody concerned if Goblin #4583 gets decapitated by the PCs. It's only going to be there for 2 combat rounds anyways. But, no, I'm not really interested in giving the PCs or NPCs vorpal swords or swords of sharpness. I've seen both in play, and they're not really a compelling mechanic after the first couple combats.
Where I don't mind things that bypass hit points and get straight to their effects: poison, paralysis, death, limb loss, polymorph, and so forth.

Particularly in 3e4e-5e, funnelling everything through hit points can bog down in that after low level everyone - PC and monster alike - just has so flippin' many of them.

I wouldn't work in our games due to how we handle XP, but I have no inherent problem with this as a major item reward any more than I have a problem with the +2 ability books, though I have never either come up in-game. I would never use them as randomly generated treasure.
For clarification: when you say "major item reward" do you mean something given to the party (or a PC) as a reward for a completed misison, or are you referring to treasure you've placed in an adventure to (you hope) be found?

I have no problem with magical or divine rewards.
Neither do I.

Where I see a disconnect is when one at the same time seems to have an issue with the mirror image: magical or divine penalties or Bad Things. If one exists, so should the other IMO.

I'm not a huge fan of Deck of Many Things, and much less of a fan of Rod of Wonder. The former has ended campaigns before, and the latter derailed a campaign I was playing in about 10 years ago so much that the DM removed the item by fiat (he was more sick of it than I was). All the warnings they give about these items are correct.
Hmmm...yeah, we play differently; as those are two of my favourite items in the game.

Even if I were to put DoMT into my current campaign, the following cards wouldn't work as presented: Balance (we ignore alignment for mortals and I'm not interested in denying player agency in this kind of character change), Fool or Jester or Sun (we use milestone XP), Comet (we use matched leveling). The following cards would derail the campaign from the current narrative: Donjon, The Fates, Flames, Rogue, The Void. That's half the deck, and it includes several cards from the 13 card deck.
Well, given that the whole point of the Deck is to radically change things, removing the cards that make the biggest changes does kind of knacker it. [side note: if you've never seen it, check out the Harrow Deck - it's a 52-card Deck put out by some 3e-era third-party publisher with tons of different possible effects (alignment-based but it's easy to strip that out; I did) that you might find of interest; even if you take out the most beneficial/devastating cards you'll still likely be left with a viable Deck]

Are you running a hard-baked adventure path? If yes, I can understand your concerns about derailing the campaign narrative. But if no, why does this matter?

And I would never in my life use either matched or milestone levelling (which brushes against the thread topic; as these certainly count as Mechanics I Don't Want To See, Ever) as - to use your own phrase - these things IME allow and encourage a different style of toxic play: the passenger character who hangs back and lets others take the risks*, knowing everyone's going to get the same rewards (in terms of levels and treasure) anyway.

* - difficult to pull off in a small party but much easier in a larger group, which is what we usually have.

I'm not really interested in save or die or instant death anywhere in the game as much as it can be avoided. Again, I'm an opponent of circumventing hit points because hit points are designed to be the primary source of survivability in the game.
"Primary" does not mean "only", however; and I see h.p. as but one source of survivability among many, with another being resistance (i.e. saving throws), another being wisdom and forethought (e.g. sneak around rather than fight through), and another being sheer luck.

I'm not rolling damage dice if someone leaps off a 1,000 foot cliff or is crushed in an avalanche,
Good on ya for this! :)
 
Level drain? Save-or-die? I'm having trouble seeing the connection between these and "fun at the expense of other players".

Unless you mean that these things increase the DM's fun at the expense of the players', but that would depend on the particular DM and approach, I suppose.

Where I don't mind things that bypass hit points and get straight to their effects: poison, paralysis, death, limb loss, polymorph, and so forth.

Particularly in 3e4e-5e, funnelling everything through hit points can bog down in that after low level everyone - PC and monster alike - just has so flippin' many of them.

For clarification: when you say "major item reward" do you mean something given to the party (or a PC) as a reward for a completed misison, or are you referring to treasure you've placed in an adventure to (you hope) be found?

Neither do I.

Where I see a disconnect is when one at the same time seems to have an issue with the mirror image: magical or divine penalties or Bad Things. If one exists, so should the other IMO.

Hmmm...yeah, we play differently; as those are two of my favourite items in the game.

Well, given that the whole point of the Deck is to radically change things, removing the cards that make the biggest changes does kind of knacker it. [side note: if you've never seen it, check out the Harrow Deck - it's a 52-card Deck put out by some 3e-era third-party publisher with tons of different possible effects (alignment-based but it's easy to strip that out; I did) that you might find of interest; even if you take out the most beneficial/devastating cards you'll still likely be left with a viable Deck]

Are you running a hard-baked adventure path? If yes, I can understand your concerns about derailing the campaign narrative. But if no, why does this matter?

And I would never in my life use either matched or milestone levelling (which brushes against the thread topic; as these certainly count as Mechanics I Don't Want To See, Ever) as - to use your own phrase - these things IME allow and encourage a different style of toxic play: the passenger character who hangs back and lets others take the risks*, knowing everyone's going to get the same rewards (in terms of levels and treasure) anyway.

* - difficult to pull off in a small party but much easier in a larger group, which is what we usually have.

"Primary" does not mean "only", however; and I see h.p. as but one source of survivability among many, with another being resistance (i.e. saving throws), another being wisdom and forethought (e.g. sneak around rather than fight through), and another being sheer luck.

Good on ya for this! :)
I do NOT like it when a dm holds back from weakening or killing my pc.

My players tend to feel similarly.

The stab of worry or even fear only happens when youve HAD a few characters die.

Very valuable things come at steap prices. Thus occasional pc deaths are an acceptable price for the sense of peril gained.

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.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Well the example covered a four level gap and I have to say that unless you are meaning "steer" and "balanced" to mean "secretly cover" it's just not the same at 1st-5th down parties.

CR 2 ogres are fine opponents for a party of CR 5s with a new CR1 but even one strike's average damage drops the level 1, even a 13 hp con 16 fighter. If it's more like a 7-8 hp wizard, instant death is in the range of non-crit possible.

But as the case was put, the odds that the hero of such a fight us the levrl 1 fighter or other gets practically non-existent barring exceptional setups which makes the hero for three in a row not at all anything outside of fluke.

Once you get the lower out of first tier, which means level 9 pcs with level 5 "new guy" its certainly changed a lot to be manageable.

It doesnt take gang hammers to stop 1st level folks in their tracks when the enemy is suitable for 5th level groups. Sometimes it's just average.
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.
It worked out well, despite some players worrying - even without me taking care, I even do all the rolls in the open. Of the two campaings we play atm., this is the one that gets played preferably when not everybody has got time, hence the level differences.
I also wanted to use the campaign to try out whether there would be major problems due to level differences, but up to now I say due to BA and other mechanics 5e handles this very well.
I have to say although, that I got some house rules, everybody did get a free feat extra at level 1 and max hit points. Further levels it's roll hp, with a rolled 1 can be repeated once. Also since level 5 everybody gets some minor magic item equivalent to a +1 weapon or armor or a ring of cold resistance or such, when joining with a new char. Other than that it is standard point buy for the attributes.

Side note: I think that rolling attributes can make much more differences than level differences,

Otoh I do not use the encounter / day rules, because that would be to combat heavy "play-time wise".
I rather balance out encounters, so that most encounters are a very serious threat to the group. But that requires very good estimation skills on how a combat might play out, especially when mobs got powers like the ability to hold or charm one of the group members for some time, thereby reducing the effective group number even more.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
If the 7-8 hp wizard is dumb enough to get within melee reach of an ogre when there's a good front line to do the hand-to-hand stuff it probably deserves whatever it gets. (if the wizard is caught off guard that's a different story, and probably just bad luck)

No-one says the 1st-level has to be the hero ever, it just has to contribute what it can where it can until it catches up in level.

Kind of like a hench would in 1e, except there's no boss and it gets full xp.
To keep context, the post where I brought up how tier impacts the viability and such of a 5 level span used the example of like 9th-14th and the case of the 9th bring the hero of the fights/scenes for three sessions in a row.

As for 1st level wizards in 5th level parties never getting close to ogres, ogres are faster than 1st level wizards. Yes, its entirely possible the team can work to keep the ogre away, but its also possible the ogre is not the big threat of the scdne too and they might be dealing with those.

Key point is, for those extolling the 4 level difference not mattering even at tier 1, it's just one example that doesnt involve say fireball.
 

Esker

Explorer
And I would never in my life use either matched or milestone levelling (which brushes against the thread topic; as these certainly count as Mechanics I Don't Want To See, Ever) as - to use your own phrase - these things IME allow and encourage a different style of toxic play: the passenger character who hangs back and lets others take the risks*, knowing everyone's going to get the same rewards (in terms of levels and treasure) anyway.
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.
 

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