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5E On meaningless restrictions

I am at the absolute opposite of this thread. I think that in 5ed they went way overboard in the removal of many restrictions. If you want a game where you decide exactly what your class is, go to GURPS! You could litteraly build your class from the ground up.

In my heart, D&D is a game of high fantasy where the heroes try their best to help save the weak and innocents from the evil that abound. They try to do it with their strengths, weaknesses and limitations.

The removal of some limitations allow for some really strong power gaming. Want a mage in full plate? Roll for fighter, do Eldritch Knight then switch to mage. If you don't mind loosing one ASI then 3 levels in the fighter is enough and once you're level 20 you have access to level 9 spells anyways. And you are in full plate with shield! This is nothing to sneeze at. In previous editions you had to keep your multiclassing within two levels of each other save for your prefered racial class. This was meant to prevent the multiple class dipping we see in some games. Some people are shocked when I say that I allow only one switch per characters. No back and forth. When you abandon a class, it is for good. With the many restrictions I am applying, I do not have troubles with any feats, even the combo of GWM and PM; simply because I stop the power gamers in their tracks.

Giving other examples would make me write a whole book but I do apply quite a few restrictions and it works out quite fine. For the moments, the few restrictions that we have in 5ed are a necessity. We have more than enough possibilities to make any concept doable.
 

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aco175

Hero
I find that a lot of things my table does not do, others would do regularly. Tracking things like arrows and components does not get done along with food and water unless it becomes important or the game moves to a desert or something.

I don't think we should do away with classes or races over just having a list of things you pick from. Character concept is good, but if I want to pick a elf to play I should accept their restrictions and not want him to have +2 strength and be able to reroll 1s.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I tend to agree on the magic school restrictions of AT and EK. I find the movement limit on wild shape serves a purpose.
I disagree. The movement restriction makes the Druid feel weird and arbitrary as hell, especially the swim speed restriction.

Even for flying, it’s weird. Turning into a bird isn’t the same as gaining flight.
At most, it should be gates behind level 5, when wizards can get Fly.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Well some of the class skill, weapon, armor, and tool proficiency class choices were to do bit of niche protection. To get certain ones, you had to "sacrifice" a race, subrace, background, class, or subclass to get it. It minor since you have so many ways to get it but the idea was that something had to give.

Freewheeling could be a problem in bigger groups in overshadowing. But that is easily fixed with communication.
 

Thurmas

Explorer
Metal Armor for druids. Remove the wording or at least clear it up.
Arcane Tricksters and Eldritch Knights: Remove spell school restrictions.
Racial Ability modifiers. Give each class floating modifiers, either a +2 and a +1. or +2 and a +2, or +2/+1/+1. What ever balances the class given the other racial abilities they have. But make it so a race isn't punished for wanting to go a specific class. It works great for variant human, half elf and Warforged.
Cleric: Choose when you hit level 8 which of the two divine strikes you want. The Variant Options UA goes a bit toward fixing this.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Movement limit on wildshape and magic school restrictions for AT and EK.
I'm not too fond of those movement restrictions either. What I have done is limit the CR of the creatures that the druid can shapeshift into to CR 0 creatures initially. A level 2 druid can shapeshift into a sparrow but has to wait until a higher level to shapeshift into something more powerful with a flight speed. I might change this later and just remove the restrictions altogether.
 

Take for example saving throws. Why can't a player just choose 1 major (dex, con, wis) and 1 minor (str, int, cha) to be proficient in? What does that hurt? It certainly can help with character concept IMO.
I agree about skills, but doing the same with saving throws would open a huge avenue for making some classes stronger than intended, in my opinion, by offsetting what would be generally their weak spots.

The example of casters and the concentration mechanic was mentioned in an earlier post, and we can also think about the barbarian: high Constitution/Strength scores is the rule, highest hit points overall, and danger sense beginning at 2nd level. Those are all built upon the core barbarian. Allowing a player to avoid psychic damage/mind-affecting spells by becoming proficient in Wisdom and Intelligence saving throws would remove what's maybe the sole defensive weak spot of a barbarian.

So, I have no problem letting players choose whatever skills they think better reflect the kind of character they want to play, but I wouldn't do the same with saving throws, because I believe they're part of a set of defensive skills in each class, and this is not something I'm willing to change without reviewing other class features as well.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I agree about skills, but doing the same with saving throws would open a huge avenue for making some classes stronger than intended, in my opinion, by offsetting what would be generally their weak spots.

The example of casters and the concentration mechanic was mentioned in an earlier post, and we can also think about the barbarian: high Constitution/Strength scores is the rule, highest hit points overall, and danger sense beginning at 2nd level. Those are all built upon the core barbarian. Allowing a player to avoid psychic damage/mind-affecting spells by becoming proficient in Wisdom and Intelligence saving throws would remove what's maybe the sole defensive weak spot of a barbarian.

So, I have no problem letting players choose whatever skills they think better reflect the kind of character they want to play, but I wouldn't do the same with saving throws, because I believe they're part of a set of defensive skills in each class, and this is not something I'm willing to change without reviewing other class features as well.
Not to mention that CON saves proficiency is about the only thing low level sorcerers have over wizards.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Backgrounds rules allow you to become proficient in virtually any skill
There are races that get an extra skill of your choice
There is a feat that allows you to take any 3 skills you want
There is also a feat that allows for expertise

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the rogue can already be better than anyone else at whatever skill he wants.
But, in each of those cases, that ability is tied to a package - a race, a feat, a background.

This is, in fact, a major point of having classes at all. You don't get to take arbitrary combinations of powers - you take them in bundles. You don't, in general, get to have everything you do want, and nothing you don't want.

While, I recognize that to many folks this is a bug, as a general design approach, it is a feature in maintaining balance and niches. You don't have to know ahead of time a single specific horrible failure mode to balk at breaking a general design feature.

Broadly, if you allow anyone to take any skill, you are strengthening classes that currently have limited lists, and weakening classes that have broad lists.

And, say you do that again for weapon proficiencies - again, relatively speaking, you are giving some classes a boost, and other classes are getting tweaked downwards.

And, in every step where you remove a current restriction, you are apt to be doing this - giving a boost to some, and depressing others. No single step of these is apt to be so horribly game-breaking as to make anyone recoil in horror, but as you add these together, the results are not apt to be terribly predictable. The law of unintended consequences becomes more likely with each step.

So, the question to ask is whether you are actually solving a problem with each such restriction removal. Make sure that the problem is worth the possible unintended consequences.
 

Celebrim

Legend
It's a social game played by several people at the same time. Different classes having different defined roles allows groups to play together in a functional manner with minimal coordination, ensuring that each character is likely to have a different concept and shine in different areas, thereby forming a group that is stronger than the individual parts.

If you removed the "unnecessary" restrictions that differentiated the classes, then you'd create an incoherent design that pitted individual optimization against party dynamics. Almost invariably there are different choices that are just straight up better than other options. With complete freedom of choice, you'd be under pressure to choose the most obvious choices - the skills, saving throws, etc. that were most likely to be beneficial to you. This pressure would be in tension with your role in a party. By giving different archetypes different areas of weakness and strength, this tension is removed and the overall game improved.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Two people walked along some road and came to a fence or whatever in the way.
“This is stupid,” said the first. “I’m tearing it down.”
And the second responded, “slow your roll, bro. For verily somebody had good cause to throw up this barrier or else it wouldn’t be here. Before you go on and change it, you best understand why it’s there in the first place.”

And then the first smacked the second or something. Or it was duck season. Or rabbit season I forget how it goes.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
The thing is, in general, there's no way to prove that a restriction is unnecessary. So unless removing the restriction has a really big benefit, I, personally, have no interest in spending the mental effort to convince myself that it's "probably" ok.

As for the particular things you've mentioned, removing skills restrictions seems likely to be benign, but there are other ways to get skills, so the benefit seems not very compelling.

Opening up saving throws seems more likely to cause problems, but, regardless, again the benefit doesn't seem very compelling to me.

As others have mentioned, this just seems to be chafing at restrictions that go along with a class-based system. For the two items you've mentioned, I wouldn't tell you you're wrong to remove those restrictions, but for me, that would not be worth even the small chance of causing a problem that I hadn't managed to think of.
 

What abusive builds do you forsee if the restrictions I mentioned are removed?
It's not about abuses and power gaming. It's about flavour and discouraging inexperienced players from making bad choices.

Consider Arcana. Wizards don't have to choose it. But it would be a pretty strange wizard who didn't. One way of encouraging wizards to take it is to limit their ability to choose something that isn't Arcana.

If you don't think that is an issue at your table feel free to drop the rule. The core rules are designed as "entry level".

Personally, I think completely dropping skill choice restrictions would lead to players making a lot of very similar choices - Perception and Athletics/Acrobatics at the top of the list for everyone.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Obviously the game will not do it for itself, because the restrictions are there to make the races what they are, the classes what they are, the game what it is. So if someone was looking for "official" (as stupid as they definition is) changes to open choices up, they'll be waiting for a long, long time.

Now for everybody else... any table can go ahead and mix and match abilities till the day is long. So long as the DM and the players have relatively good ideas about the power of the various game features as played at their table, there's no reason not to fiddle and futz with them. I mean, I'm a HUGE proponent of "class feature swaps", rather than level dip multiclassing (which players do just so can get that one single ability that is normally only acquired from a different class.)

There is definitely truth the idea that any game played long enough will lose its freshness and originality. If you've played every class several times over, the idea of wanting to create "something new" using the game's mechanics is not out of the realm of possibility. But I know for me, that usually means one of two things:

1) I'm better off playing a whole different game system (even if I wanted to remain in the fantasy theme) just so that I have new and fresh ways to interact with different rules and dice and help change/reset expectations.

or

2) Push the mechanical focus far back as possible and really just concern myself with character. Personality, needs, wants, attitudes, loves, hates, etc. Because by doing that... my concern is purely for what my character is and does through narration, and I no longer care about whether there is a game mechanic to "back it up". To bring it back to the other thread where I was talking about this stuff... if I want to say my PC was the "Greatest Swordsman In The Land"... I can just do that in the narration and his representation in the world, and not need my mechanics to emphasize it. Yeah, the mechanics are still there to play the combat mini-game when it comes up as necessary... but that mini-game is no longer the focus and end-all-be-all of what playing the game is. Instead, the improv is the end-all-be-all, and the mechanics are just an extra byproduct to enjoy when it comes up, but not care in the slightest how "precise" or "exacting" it is.

Obviously most people have the most difficult time with #2 (almost nobody seems to like sidelining game mechanics in their thoughts and minds as much as I do), so in that regard playing a completely new game like #1 is a good alternative way to go.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And I asked a specific question about removing a few specific restrictions. Instead of responding by telling me what you were talking about (and then having me do the same and going back and forth repeatedly ad nauseum), why not just answer the question?
Mod Note:

Hey, @FrogReaver - you do realize that EN World does not support threat ownership or editorial control, right? If folks don't answer exactly the way you want it, you are probably better off just passing them by and letting it be.
 

HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
It seems to me that you are conflating restrictions in the general sense with "meaningless restrictions" spoken of in the OP.

You aren't attempting to argue that all restrictions give the game it's shape and feel such that not one could be removed without the game losing it's shape and feel? Are you?
Actually, I am. It is the restrictions that determine what is possible in the game world. There are no 'meaningless' restrictions. Each restriction makes the range of possibilities in the game world different. Restricting skill choices changes what a class can be good or bad at in the game world.

There's nothing wrong with removing them, but they do serve a purpose. You are free to change what you want to make your game world different.
 


HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
The 4e DM's guide had great advice on house rules. To paraphrase it was: "Clearly Identify what it is you are trying to change with the house rule and why it needs changing. Will the house rule achieve your goal?"

I could be reading too much into OP's post, but it reads to me like he'd like to remove skill choice restrictions so that any class can specialize in any skill - presumably because he has a class idea that would need a different skill. If I was a DM for a player asking this, I would instead make it an exceptional case if the player can give me a sufficiently compelling backstory to justify them being proficient with a few skills that they don't normally have. Then I'd roll it into a new background.
 

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