D&D 5E No One Plays High Level?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay, returning to my comment about “I had a problem, therefore a problem exists”. What I should have said is that “I had a problem, therefore a problem exists with the game” is often mistaken. in my personal and professional experience, the number one reason a game session goes badly is thst it’s being played by human beings. Human beings are subject to fatigue, intense emotions (good and bad - being in the midst of falling in love can be as distracting as being stuck with a situation that makes you angry every day), low blood sugar, high blood pressure, confusing elements from similar but distinct games, chronic pain and other symptoms of illness, anger and fear and misery over your social situation and political developments, concern for the ailments and suffering of people who matter to you (along with pets and such, too; the brain responds to the loss of a loved pet the same way and with the same intensity as to the loss of a loved human being), allergies, and more. All these things can and routinely do make game sessions burn down, fall over, and sink into the swamp. But the problem was not the game.

We tend not to talk about this very much, and particularly not as an aspect of game design, in sort of an equivalent to evaluating character power in white-room abstracted scenarios. There are things games can do to help out some players. Monte Cook‘s sidebar cross-references, Arcane Library’s self-contained spreads, good indexes, and so on - nothing works for all people and all sources of trouble, so some people will continue to have problems, but it can improve some things for some people. But there will continue to be bad, unsatisfactory sessions that are not the fault of the game.
Those are all good reasons why a game can fall apart or a portion of it can seem broken, but your list doesn't include the number 1 reason that I see folks claim the game is broken. And that's personal preference. Person #1 has a power level tolerance of X and Person #2 has a tolerance of Y. Person #1 claims Z ability is broken because it's too powerful. Person #2 disagrees and says that it's not broken at all. Both are arguing yea and nay due to personal preferences and not something that is inherently fine or broken in the game.
 

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Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
An RPG cannot support all playstyles. They necessarily favor some over others by virtue of how they are designed. And no, that design isn't inherently bad just because it favors some styles over others.
Take me as an example. I have no use for “Vancian”/Gygaxian spell casting, nor for alternatives like spell point systems that end up producing the same general roster of slots. It’s just not my thing. And it took me a long time to decide that the lack of other options in the game is not a fault. It’s just a system choice I don’t like.

At this point, I’ve got a goodly number of choices for elements to drop in: recharge magic from 3e Unearthed Arcsna; kitbashing spells into a 4e-style AEDU framework; renewable casting like in DCC and particularly Shadowdark. So I can adjust things to suit myself and use parts of the game I do like. There’s a problem that isn’t a problem with the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Take me as an example. I have no use for “Vancian”/Gygaxian spell casting, nor for alternatives like spell point systems that end up producing the same general roster of slots. It’s just not my thing. And it took me a long time to decide that the lack of other options in the game is not a fault. It’s just a system choice I don’t like.

At this point, I’ve got a goodly number of choices for elements to drop in: recharge magic from 3e Unearthed Arcsna; kitbashing spells into a 4e-style AEDU framework; renewable casting like in DCC and particularly Shadowdark. So I can adjust things to suit myself and use parts of the game I do like. There’s a problem that isn’t a problem with the game.
I think the vast majority of problems fall into that category. That's why I suggested upthread that objective errors like the 4e math, as well as the rules of the game failing to live up to what the game intends, like a game of gothic horror failing to provide the rules framework to generate gothic horror, are game problems
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
An RPG cannot support all playstyles. They necessarily favor some over others by virtue of how they are designed. And no, that design isn't inherently bad just because it favors some styles over others.
I didn't say D&D has to support all playstyles.

I said D&D, as the entry point, has to support more than 1.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Well they are doing bastions which is baby first domains.


Yeah but 3PPs due to having to make higher margin money , make super crunchy stuff, designed to be compatible to multiple systems, and/or stuff tied into their other work.

MCMD's Strongholds and followers is I heard really crunchy and barely 5e.
Hi, I used MCDM's Strongholds and Followers rules for the past few years for a 5e campaign that just wrapped up. I would argue that is not that crunchy. The rules for building and maintaining strongholds and attracting and paying for followers hit the sweet spot of abstract mechanics for me. It was really easy to work in. There is some book-keeping in terms of income and expenses and I run another campaign with it, I might further abstract that. But I really like the the rules for creating and improving strongholds, stronghold abilities with an extended rest recharge, and simple rules for attracting followers and troops.

The warfare rules in S&F, on the other hand, while very abstracted, and pretty light on crunch, were not my bag. I ran run session using those rules for an attack on the parties strongholds and it was boring. The second Kingdoms and Warfare book provides a more fleshed out warfare system, with a lot more crunch. But I've never tried to run it because I've concluded that I really don't want any warfare rules in my D&D game. I don't like switching to the boxed warfare game in Dragonlance, I don't want to switch to miniature game either. I've concluded that, regardless how light or heavy the crunch, I just don't want to mix wargame chocolate into my RPG peanut butter.

Instead, what I like to do is treat the war as a back drop with a doom clock or success counter mechanic. I will give the players a bunch of mission options. Some or most will have to be completed in a certain amount of time. For each they complete, it moves the needle closer to the war's success. For each they fail, it moves the needle closer to failure. A mission could be: the enemy has acquired a Mattock of the Titans, infiltrate and steal it from them. Deliver an urgent message or change of orders to a unit. Infiltrate/scout to obtain intelligence. Assassinate/kidnap an enemy leader. Make a diplomatic mission to convince a group to ally with you or to stay neutral. Psyops missions to reduce enemy morale. Etc. I find that this keeps the game focused on the group of players and their heroic deeds, tying together a number of mini-adventures to achieve a larger goal, which is the most fun way to play D&D for us.
 

Oofta

Legend
Hi, I used MCDM's Strongholds and Followers rules for the past few years for a 5e campaign that just wrapped up. I would argue that is not that crunchy. The rules for building and maintaining strongholds and attracting and paying for followers hit the sweet spot of abstract mechanics for me. It was really easy to work in. There is some book-keeping in terms of income and expenses and I run another campaign with it, I might further abstract that. But I really like the the rules for creating and improving strongholds, stronghold abilities with an extended rest recharge, and simple rules for attracting followers and troops.

The warfare rules in S&F, on the other hand, while very abstracted, and pretty light on crunch, were not my bag. I ran run session using those rules for an attack on the parties strongholds and it was boring. The second Kingdoms and Warfare book provides a more fleshed out warfare system, with a lot more crunch. But I've never tried to run it because I've concluded that I really don't want any warfare rules in my D&D game. I don't like switching to the boxed warfare game in Dragonlance, I don't want to switch to miniature game either. I've concluded that, regardless how light or heavy the crunch, I just don't want to mix wargame chocolate into my RPG peanut butter.

Instead, what I like to do is treat the war as a back drop with a doom clock or success counter mechanic. I will give the players a bunch of mission options. Some or most will have to be completed in a certain amount of time. For each they complete, it moves the needle closer to the war's success. For each they fail, it moves the needle closer to failure. A mission could be: the enemy has acquired a Mattock of the Titans, infiltrate and steal it from them. Deliver an urgent message or change of orders to a unit. Infiltrate/scout to obtain intelligence. Assassinate/kidnap an enemy leader. Make a diplomatic mission to convince a group to ally with you or to stay neutral. Psyops missions to reduce enemy morale. Etc. I find that this keeps the game focused on the group of players and their heroic deeds, tying together a number of mini-adventures to achieve a larger goal, which is the most fun way to play D&D for us.

Even though D&D grew out of a wargame, it's changed so much that mass battle just doesn't really fit any more. I do much the same with war in my campaigns, the PCs are an elite strike force not the commanders of battalions. I've also been in campaigns where they jump-start the revolution, providing funding early on and recruiting for the cause.

But I don't want to switch to playing Risk while playing Monopoly any more than I want mass combat in my D&D. There's just never been a smooth transition between the two.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Even though D&D grew out of a wargame, it's changed so much that mass battle just doesn't really fit any more. I do much the same with war in my campaigns, the PCs are an elite strike force not the commanders of battalions. I've also been in campaigns where they jump-start the revolution, providing funding early on and recruiting for the cause.

But I don't want to switch to playing Risk while playing Monopoly any more than I want mass combat in my D&D. There's just never been a smooth transition between the two.
That's because it is usually tacked on later and not developed or at least thought about when the base game is made.

The lack of futureproofing in D&D has been a problem since the 1970s.

And yes it is a problem if you are a company that is either going for mass appeal or planning to make money from sales of future product. TSR and WOTC planned to do both.
 

Oofta

Legend
That's because it is usually tacked on later and not developed or at least thought about when the base game is made.

The lack of futureproofing in D&D has been a problem since the 1970s.

And yes it is a problem if you are a company that is either going for mass appeal or planning to make money from sales of future product. TSR and WOTC planned to do both.

They've never made a smooth transition from D&D to mass battles over the past half century. It's not for lack of trying, they've floated mass combat rules before. Mass combat just doesn't really fit what most people want out of D&D, if it did we'd have carried over rules from Chainmail.

PCs can still influence the outcomes, mass combat can be an interesting backdrop. But if I want a wargame with mass combats I'll play something else.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
They've never made a smooth transition from D&D to mass battles over the past half century. It's not for lack of trying, they've floated mass combat rules before. Mass combat just doesn't really fit what most people want out of D&D, if it did we'd have carried over rules from Chainmail.

PCs can still influence the outcomes, mass combat can be an interesting backdrop. But if I want a wargame with mass combats I'll play something else.
I didn't say there was a lack of trying.
I said that like high level play, mass combat is always an afterthought.

And since they keep trying, there must be a demand.

It's like cross class subclass. WOTC wanted to try them. However classes didn't have the same subclass levels because the levels you got subclasses were arbitrary. So when they tried for Strixhaven,it didn't work. When they tried for 2024, they ran into backwards compatibility issues. All because they didn't think about classes sharing subclassesin 2013. There was demand but the old design team blocked the new design team.

2013 design blocked 2021 design and 2024 design.
And this is a reoccurring theme with D&D.

Classes sharing Subclasses in 6e is a very safe bet. Because they'll prioritize it from the start.
All we have to do is get WOTC to prioritize High level when they make the 6e PHB, MM, and DMG.
 

Oofta

Legend
I didn't say there was a lack of trying.
I said that like high level play, mass combat is always an afterthought.

And since they keep trying, there must be a demand.

It's like cross class subclass. WOTC wanted to try them. However classes didn't have the same subclass levels because the levels you got subclasses were arbitrary. So when they tried for Strixhaven,it didn't work. When they tried for 2024, they ran into backwards compatibility issues. All because they didn't think about classes sharing subclassesin 2013. There was demand but the old design team blocked the new design team.

2013 design blocked 2021 design and 2024 design.
And this is a reoccurring theme with D&D.

Classes sharing Subclasses in 6e is a very safe bet. Because they'll prioritize it from the start.
All we have to do is get WOTC to prioritize High level when they make the 6e PHB, MM, and DMG.
We had a mass combat system, Chainmail. Since D&D was derived from Chainmail, it was hardly an "afterthought". It wasn't implemented because there was little demand then and there's little demand now. They're not going to rewrite core systems to build a mass combat system that would only be applicable to a tiny percentage of play.

If it were easy to build in, or if there was widespread demand, it would have been done by now.
 

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