D&D General My "Perfect D&D" Would Include...

My "Perfect D&D" Would include...

  • Alignment

    Votes: 41 39.0%
  • Species as Class

    Votes: 7 6.7%
  • Species Class and Level Limits

    Votes: 7 6.7%
  • "Kits"

    Votes: 17 16.2%
  • Prestige Classes

    Votes: 24 22.9%
  • Class Archetypes

    Votes: 51 48.6%
  • Open Multiclassing (ie not limited by species)

    Votes: 54 51.4%
  • Psionics (as a separate, distinct magic subsystem)

    Votes: 37 35.2%
  • Paragon Paths

    Votes: 20 19.0%
  • "Encounter Abilities" in some form

    Votes: 26 24.8%
  • Complex Martials

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • Advantage/Disadvantage

    Votes: 67 63.8%
  • Save or Die/Suck effects

    Votes: 29 27.6%
  • Level Drain

    Votes: 23 21.9%
  • Rulership/Leadership rules

    Votes: 48 45.7%
  • Warfare Rules

    Votes: 45 42.9%
  • Paths to immortality

    Votes: 21 20.0%
  • 20 levels or less

    Votes: 52 49.5%
  • 20 levels or more

    Votes: 21 20.0%
  • Epic Level Rules (distinct from pre-epic advancement)

    Votes: 24 22.9%
  • Narrow species choices

    Votes: 25 23.8%
  • Broad species choices

    Votes: 33 31.4%
  • Quadratic Wizards

    Votes: 8 7.6%
  • Grid based combat

    Votes: 54 51.4%
  • Theater of the mind based combat

    Votes: 57 54.3%
  • Skill Challenges

    Votes: 48 45.7%
  • Detailed Travel/Journey Rules

    Votes: 61 58.1%
  • Detailed Social Rules/Social "combat"

    Votes: 33 31.4%
  • Skills

    Votes: 90 85.7%
  • Feats

    Votes: 67 63.8%
  • Categorical Sving throws (AD&D)

    Votes: 9 8.6%
  • 3 Saves (Fort, Ref, Will)

    Votes: 40 38.1%
  • Ability based Saves

    Votes: 35 33.3%
  • Proficiency Bonus

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • XP from treasure

    Votes: 30 28.6%
  • XP from combat

    Votes: 36 34.3%
  • XP from story

    Votes: 64 61.0%
  • Player facing item creation rules

    Votes: 35 33.3%
  • Templates (for monsters)

    Votes: 50 47.6%
  • Random treasure tables

    Votes: 53 50.5%
  • Something I forgot

    Votes: 33 31.4%

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I think this is one of the reasons I prefer BECMI's solution - low-level characters face monsters in dungeons, mid-level characters deal with kingdom-level threats, and high-level characters go waltzing off through gates to other planes.
2e & earlier didn't really have a skill system like everything from 3.x on where skills kept advancing the value they added to the d20 roll. Sure there were some very barebones hints of one but they generally were some combination of describing your action & gm adjudication
 

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Matt Thomason

Adventurer
I absolutely want that list. So that at level 16, when I have taken a series of abilities that let me consistently make the climb checks to cling to a vertical surface and move my full speed, I can make confident, declarative statements about how I solve problems.

The challenge shouldn't be "make a climb check" the challenge should be "get to this idol floating in the middle of the lava lake" and the climbing is a tool a player might choose to use. I want that decision to matter, in a way that "this is a level 15 challenge, you're using climb, okay, you could describe that as clinging to the ceiling" can't handle. I want to pick climbing not because it's narratively interesting but because I think it's the optimal solution, and is a better choice than something else I could have done.

This is important because it is in opposition to a narrative understanding of challenge, and produces gameplay that cannot be achieved in a game that uses a relative method or narrative method to resolve skill checks. Either the game is designed with that kind of player facing challenge in mind, or it isn't.
I find this sort of thing fascinating, because I have some similarities to you here as well as some pretty major differences.

I'm with you all the way on the challenge being how to get the idol floating in the middle of the lava lake, and it being up to the players to decide how they're going to achieve that. Also that the difficulty of that can differ wildly depending on the plan they come up with.

The part where I differ is about the rulebook giving me a defined list of ways to do it, because I don't want to be restricted to that list. I want a game that gives the GM the tools to handle anything the players might come up with in that instance, I'm also not too concerned with optimal solutions - I want a game where two different players using two exact copies of the same character sheet might try two completely different solutions because they thought about how to solve the solution as a narrative obstacle more than as a game challenge with numeric success likelihoods attached, and figured that jumping would be 2% more likely to succeed than floating across on a tree trunk before it burned under them.

I absolutely respect the way you play the game - as I said, I'm just fascinated by how people enjoy different styles of play :)
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
It is terrifying that almost a quarter century is 'recent'.
I put it to you that the Great Dividing Line above is:

Grid based combat vs. Theater of the mind based combat

You can come up with a great long list and none of those things hint at a real separator in terms of how combat flows and how the game is actually played, until you get to that one.

That is the Great Generational Divide. That is the OD&D/1st/2nd/BECMI vs 3//4/5 divide.

That is TSR vs WotC. Old vs New.
Doesn't 5e pretend to be ToM?
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
I put it to you that the Great Dividing Line above is:

Grid based combat vs. Theater of the mind based combat

You can come up with a great long list and none of those things hint at a real separator in terms of how combat flows and how the game is actually played, until you get to that one.

That is the Great Generational Divide. That is the OD&D/1st/2nd/BECMI vs 3//4/5 divide.

That is TSR vs WotC. Old vs New.

Absolutely, but here's another thing I find interesting
I love playing wargames for the tactical combat. I do not want that tactical combat in my RPGs - that is where I want narrative combat. It's not that I don't enjoy tactical combat, but because that is not what I play an RPG for.
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
2e & earlier didn't really have a skill system like everything from 3.x on where skills kept advancing the value they added to the d20 roll. Sure there were some very barebones hints of one but they generally were some combination of describing your action & gm adjudication
The latter being by far the system I prefer to having pages of rulebooks dedicated to it ;)
 


Steel_Wind

Legend
It is terrifying that almost a quarter century is 'recent'.

Doesn't 5e pretend to be ToM?
Spell templates, attacks of opportunity? No. When you have AoO and "reactions" hard-coded into combat, it's a grid based game.

5e is a grid based game with simpler character generation than 3.x/PF1/4/PF2. Some might ignore rules in 5e because they want to play it TotM, sure. But by default, 5e is a battlemat game.
 

Reynard

Legend
I put it to you that the Great Dividing Line above is:

Grid based combat vs. Theater of the mind based combat

You can come up with a great long list and none of those things hint at a real separator in terms of how combat flows and how the game is actually played, until you get to that one.

That is the Great Generational Divide. That is the OD&D/1st/2nd/BECMI vs 3//4/5 divide.

That is TSR vs WotC. Old vs New.
This strikes me as off. I mean, people used minis in the TSR era. After all, D&D is based on wargaming.
 

The part where I differ is about the rulebook giving me a defined list of ways to do it, because I don't want to be restricted to that list. I want a game that gives the GM the tools to handle anything the players might come up with in that instance, I'm also not too concerned with optimal solutions - I want a game where two different players using two exact copies of the same character sheet might try two completely different solutions because they thought about how to solve the solution as a narrative obstacle more than as a game challenge with numeric success likelihoods attached, and figured that jumping would be 2% more likely to succeed than floating across on a tree trunk before it burned under them.
I find this is best achieved by having more and more detailed rules, not by having less, so that the appropriate sub-system can be called up as necessary, and no one has to make a game design decision to resolve a situation, or if it is ultimately necessary, the GM can refer to the closest likely resolution mechanism with minor adjustment. Fundamentally, I want to engage the same parts of my brain that I use when playing a conventional board game when I play a TTRPG, just in a much broader gamespace, with a variable victory condition and a much more shifting endpoint, in addition to the whole roleplaying, embodying a character and exploring a fictional world element.

To paraphrase Brennan Lee Mulligan, I want to play a character who "wants to save the world as quickly and efficiently as possible" and then to be stymied/challenged by forces outside of my control that I can do my best to conquer. I play a lot of games, I don't want the one I play when I'm pretending to be an elf to not be an interesting one, just because I'm also pretending to be an elf.
 


Matt Thomason

Adventurer
This strikes me as off. I mean, people used minis in the TSR era. After all, D&D is based on wargaming.
It's more about the prevalence. I believe the majority of players of AD&D 1/2e did not use minis, except to illustrate things like marching order or relative positions (and this is how I use minis in RPGs today), not to make tactical moves in inches on a map and measure ranges to opponents. Some certainly did the latter, but it was a minority in comparison to those who didn't really go beyond "so who is in front, engaged in melee with the monsters, and who is standing outside of melee range?"

There's also the lack of map-based combat manoeuvres in the earlier versions compared to 3e's stronger focus with things like attacks of opportunity, unless you added in something like Chainmail.
 

payn

Legend
It is terrifying that almost a quarter century is 'recent'.

Doesn't 5e pretend to be ToM?
I think the idea was that you could do either without much effort in 5E. If you wanted to dial up the grid combat you could do so with the modularity that was never produced.
 


Reynard

Legend
It's more about the prevalence. I believe the majority of players of AD&D 1/2e did not use minis, except to illustrate things like marching order or relative positions (and this is how I use minis in RPGs today), not to make tactical moves in inches on a map and measure ranges to opponents. Some certainly did the latter, but it was a minority in comparison to those who didn't really go beyond "so who is in front, engaged in melee with the monsters, and who is standing outside of melee range?"

There's also the lack of map-based combat manoeuvres in the earlier versions compared to 3e's stronger focus with things like attacks of opportunity, unless you added in something like Chainmail.
Yet measurements were in inches. So...

It would be exceedingly hard to get a concensus on how people played in general. I know plenty of people that used minis seriously in AD&D and others that ran 3.x TotM.
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
I find this is best achieved by having more and more detailed rules, not by having less, so that the appropriate sub-system can be called up as necessary, and no one has to make a game design decision to resolve a situation, or if it is ultimately necessary, the GM can refer to the closest likely resolution mechanism with minor adjustment. Fundamentally, I want to engage the same parts of my brain that I use when playing a conventional board game when I play a TTRPG, just in a much broader gamespace, with a variable victory condition and a much more shifting endpoint, in addition to the whole roleplaying, embodying a character and exploring a fictional world element.

To paraphrase Brennan Lee Mulligan, I want to play a character who "wants to save the world as quickly and efficiently as possible" and then to be stymied/challenged by forces outside of my control that I can do my best to conquer. I play a lot of games, I don't want the one I play when I'm pretending to be an elf to not be an interesting one, just because I'm also pretending to be an elf.
We would probably hate trying to share a game - thankfully, we don't have to, and can instead simply enjoy chatting on here about the differences :D

I prefer having a simple set of rules that says "when a character attempts something that should not be an automatic success or failure, pick whatever attribute/skill combo fits best, decide the difficulty, and roll on this single chart that works for pretty much everything" so as not to need to figure out which rule applies.

When I play an RPG, I usually (but not always) want to engage the same parts of my brain as I do when writing a story, but with the added factor that I do not control anything other than the actions of my own character. The rules are just something the GM uses to help adjudicate success or failure of my actions, not something I want to be constantly thinking about as I play and figuring out rules-based strategies - I've got other alternatives where I can do that, I sit at the RPG table to help create a collaborative story with some fun over the chance our characters may fail spectacularly at their objectives. I'm not looking to make it a chess game with additional dimensions, or to strategize beyond "what would it make sense for me to do right now if I was in this character's body with their skills?", I want to use creativity over strategy, and have just as much fun (often more) trying to do that with an non-optimal character as with an optimal one. I don't want to consult the rules when making a decision about my action, the rules come afterwards for me in determining whether that action succeeds or not. My characters usually tend to be dropped into situations they never intended to be in, are not trained to be in, and don't want to be in. Or, I enjoy playing Frodo/Sam far more than Aragorn/Boromir ;)

Occasionally, I may be in the mood to play an RPG with a more tactical combat feel. Usually, I meet that need through wargaming (with a heavy preference for skirmish games), but I will sometimes do it in an RPG, just for a bit of variety.

But you know what? I love that this single hobby has options that suit both of us.
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
Yet measurements were in inches. So...

It would be exceedingly hard to get a concensus on how people played in general. I know plenty of people that used minis seriously in AD&D and others that ran 3.x TotM.

That's interesting - I was a mostly BECMI player back then, where things were in feet. 1e was before my time, 2e was something I only really dabbled in, and 3e was my first real experience of tactical combat in an RPG.
 

I ended up selecting more than half so I clearly enjoy many of the current aspects of D&D.

My top 4 in no particular order of importance:
  • Skills - No surprise as it is the most popular pick atm. I've been branching out into other games that have different, and sometimes better, skill systems so I'd like to see more of that in D&D. General vs Learned skills and how you can upgrade a particular aspect of the skill along with basic number increases to the overall skill are a nice aspect of Coriolis that I wouldn't mind adding to my perfect D&D.
  • Proficiency Bonus - 5e did this about 80% right in my mind. An increasing number to add to rolls that is earned from leveling is something I want in my D&D. Especially in a game with bounded accuracy. The only thing I wish they did was utilize it in a slightly more granular way. I know it goes against simplicity but it's my perfect D&D so
    Untrained (x0), half-prof (x.5), proficient (x1), expert (x1.5), and master (x2). Make most things use the basic proficiency as they already do but give me a few more things that use half-prof, like jack-of-all-trades and remarkable athlete, and make expert slightly less good. Hard code it into the game that you only see expert and master at certain tiers based on the type of roll. Expert skill in tier 2, saves in tier 3, attacks/DC in tier 4. Master skills one tier later. Obviously, limit it so only a few types of rolls for any character ever get above base proficiency. Certain classes might see their expert and master proficiencies come online sooner. E.g. "Expert" or skill-monkey's might see skills increases come sooner, "Tough" classes could get saves sooner, Martial classes get attack prof sooner, etc. Also, 5e saves could be 2 proficient, 2 half-prof, and 2 no prof with a chance to increase these over time. Maybe give me the choice down the line of either turning a prof save into expert or boosting two lower proficiency saves up a step.
  • Theater of the Mind Based Combat - This one is tricky, but I've come to really like zones, arenas, and even range bands to a lesser extent. Between running Cypher, Coriolis, and dabbling with OSH I got really comfortable with them. I'm fine with games that count squares. Those are my roots. But a slightly less granular way of playing can work. Especially now that I bounce between in person and online play the grid style can sometimes feel cumbersome. I also like the effect they have on melee characters. They come across as way more threatening when you can't count squares and ensure they come up 5 feet short.
  • Templates - They're really good at keeping encounters fresh. Pick your basic enemy type, toss templates on a few of them, switch up the template use across encounters, and voila, you've got a dungeon.
The only one that I chose that comes with a big asterisk is save or die/suck. Abilities with nasty side effects is fine. Save or die just goes beyond that for me. Save or suck can be fun as long as we aren't doing the 'fail the save and you are stunned for 1d4+5 rounds' crap that I hated in Baldur's Gate. One round durations or granting an additional save roll after damage/the end of a turn works for me. I'm willing to make exceptions but they should be few and far between.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
This strikes me as off. I mean, people used minis in the TSR era. After all, D&D is based on wargaming.
It did, sure. Some did play with mats and minis, though not all THAT often. It was overwhelmingly played as TotM -- even if the origins of the game came from the use of historical medieval minis played on the sand table in Gary's basement -- and on Arneson's ping-pong table on 1" presentation graph paper.

The AD&D Open, at Gencon, was not played with minis and battlemats (though some other 1st and 2nd ed events were).

[Edit: I started in 1977 with OD&D on a 1" graph paper on my friend's ping-pong table, too. IT very much grew out of wargaming.]

Still, grid play in 1st/2nd/BECMI was the exception, not the rule. There was nothing like an AoO that seemed to trigger a critically important element of combat to the use of it. Spell templates, as such, did not exist in the same sense as they did with 3.0.

3.0 pre-supposed the use of minis. There was a new miniature D&D line introduced and sold to support that style of play -- and the minis were soft plastic and didn't break during transport. The game irrevocably changed.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
One big thing that was missed - Levels. I've encountered many RPGs that don't use levels (World of Darkness, for example) and you can just invest XP into single skill/trait advancement. While I'm fine with that not existing for some games (especially modern/sci-fi settings), for D&D, I would want that in place. Though I imagine there are many that would like to drop levels altogether.

And I'd stop detailing leveling at no higher than 15th level, preferably around 10th.
 

Clint_L

Hero
This strikes me as off. I mean, people used minis in the TSR era. After all, D&D is based on wargaming.
Yeah, we used the heck out of our Ral Parthas and gridded battle mats.

Edit: I love my miniatures and terrain, so I've used them in every edition. But sometimes we just go theatre of the mind, and I've never had a problem making that work, either. I think 4e was best suited to miniatures, but honestly no edition has been a challenge.
 

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