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5E On meaningless restrictions

absolutely hate it. Lay out what is acceptable and isn’t upfront. That gives me the information I need in order to pick what to play.
There is a massive amount of content for 5e that could be included. The player may be interested in using something that the DM has never thought of, or never even heard of. Your method, the DM pretty much has to say a draconian "core rules only", and even then a player could come up with a backstory that contradicts something in the setting.


Our way, if a player wants to play a Warforged Blood Hunter Harper Agent from Waterdeap, the DM can assess the character on it's own merits.
 

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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Class skills and saving throw are class features. They help to define the class, which players are free to choose, and define the strengths and weaknesses based on choice. Class is part of the design for every edition of D&D, and always will be.

If you want to hand-pick your strengths and weaknesses becasue your character concept doesn't conform to the parameters of the game, then you're wanting to play a different game altogether. Rest assured, those games exist and are just as playable as 5e.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Mostly to make sure the character fits within the setting.

But it also allows flexibility. Rather than the DM come up with a long list of things that are and are not allowed, the player can say "can I have X", the DM then checks out X, weighs up the pros and cons and says "yay" or "neigh".
FWIW, this is always how I run my games when a player comes with their character mostly finished. Of course, I try to communicate with them beforehand about their ideas, thoughts, etc. to speed up the finalizing process. I look over the entire character at the end and approve or suggest changes before we begin.

Other times, DMs have told me upfront if they absolutely don't allow things, etc., but they still always give it a final look over before we begin.

90+% of the time, everything is good, but occasionally something pops up and changes are required.
 

Minigiant

Legend
My question is

Why remove class skills restrictions if you get 2 free skill options in your background?

Class skills aren't so restrictive that you usually get your concept down with class skills, race skills, and background skills. The only times I see it failing is if you are blatantly trying to replicating another classes skill gimmick with a class that is very different from it. Like a wizard with a ranger skill suite.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
My question is

Why remove class skills restrictions if you get 2 free skill options in your background?

Class skills aren't so restrictive that you usually get your concept down with class skills, race skills, and background skills. The only times I see it failing is if you are blatantly trying to replicating another classes skill gimmick with a class that is very different from it. Like a wizard with a ranger skill suite.
Having gone over this with @FrogReaver , I think his response will be:

If you can achieve any skill selection via background, race, etc. with the restrictions, why bother having them? They do not, if fact, restrict anything other than making you jump through hoops to find some way to build the concept you want.

I think that is the crux of his argument, but maybe he will add more.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Having gone over this with @FrogReaver , I think his response will be:

If you can achieve any skill selection via background, race, etc. with the restrictions, why bother having them? They do not, if fact, restrict anything other than making you jump through hoops to find some way to build the concept you want.

I think that is the crux of his argument, but maybe he will add more.
My response is to that would be that they do restrict skills. The restriction allows for 90% of combinations. That's why it's completely up to players and need DM dismissal upfront and explained.

The last 10% is litteraly swapping one class list for another with no overlap. Such concepts are so usual that they would require DM approval.

Basically skill choice is a player choice. The restriction is for the rare cases that break the default D&D assumptions and make it DM choice.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
FWIW, this is always how I run my games when a player comes with their character mostly finished. Of course, I try to communicate with them beforehand about their ideas, thoughts, etc. to speed up the finalizing process. I look over the entire character at the end and approve or suggest changes before we begin.

Other times, DMs have told me upfront if they absolutely don't allow things, etc., but they still always give it a final look over before we begin.

90+% of the time, everything is good, but occasionally something pops up and changes are required.
I'll be honest, I don't understand how you even play games without running your concepts by the DM first so they can integrate it. I have long email chains with each one of my players where we discuss character information and backstory, and they make requests for character-specific house rules which we finalize together.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
I'll be honest, I don't understand how you even play games without running your concepts by the DM first so they can integrate it. I have long email chains with each one of my players where we discuss character information and backstory, and they make requests for character-specific house rules which we finalize together.
Umm.. we do:

"Of course, I try to communicate with them beforehand about their ideas, thoughts, etc. to speed up the finalizing process."

That was right in the post you quoted. Some players are more responsive to e-mails/texts than others. We have one in our current group who rarely every responds... we always wonder if he will even show up or not (but he always does--sometimes late though).
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Umm.. we do:

"Of course, I try to communicate with them beforehand about their ideas, thoughts, etc. to speed up the finalizing process."

That was right in the post you quoted. Some players are more responsive to e-mails/texts than others. We have one in our current group who rarely every responds... we always wonder if he will even show up or not (but he always does--sometimes late though).
Wasn't talking about you, bro, talking about @FrogReaver. You were just the latest person in the conversation chain.
 


TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Then why did you quote my post???
Because you were the latest person to discuss the idea, and I was expressing my support for your idea.

I tend not to like quoting earlier posts when other people have continued the idea chain, but I suppose in this case my use of a general "you" looked like I was responding to specific "you". Mea culpa.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Because you were the latest person to discuss the idea, and I was expressing my support for your idea.

I tend not to like quoting earlier posts when other people have continued the idea chain, but I suppose in this case my use of a general "you" looked like I was responding to specific "you". Mea culpa.
Ah! Ok, no worries, but it was confusing. FWIW in such cases if I quote someone I am agreeing with and addressing someone else, I include that in my response for just these reasons.

Thanks for the clarification!
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Having gone over this with @FrogReaver , I think his response will be:

If you can achieve any skill selection via background, race, etc. with the restrictions, why bother having them? They do not, if fact, restrict anything other than making you jump through hoops to find some way to build the concept you want.

I think that is the crux of his argument, but maybe he will add more.
There are 2 arguments I've primarily focused on answering in this thread and they are both at odds with each other.

1. Class skills add restrictions and restrictions are good because they restrict things.
2. Class skills and background already provide enough freedom of choice and so there's no need for additional freedom of choice

For point 2 that is exactly the crux of my counter argument. Except it's not just that removing them wouldn't hurt anything, it's that removing them opens up new concepts while not hurting anything.

However, point 1 will have a different response. That's where I would point out that there's already a ton of freedom in 5e skills.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My response is to that would be that they do restrict skills. The restriction allows for 90% of combinations. That's why it's completely up to players and need DM dismissal upfront and explained.

The last 10% is litteraly swapping one class list for another with no overlap. Such concepts are so usual that they would require DM approval.

Basically skill choice is a player choice. The restriction is for the rare cases that break the default D&D assumptions and make it DM choice.
1. I maintain that DM's can restrict anything based on the setting. Therefore, if the DM would exclude such a thing for a setting based concern then I agree.

2. That leaves restricting something due to power. There's no "these skills are too powerful" argument that will hold water.

3. Which finally takes us to the idea of restricting based on spotlight balance. A legitimate concern but one that 5e's skill choice freedom already makes moot. When you can already infringe on another classes skills with your background skills then 5e isn't using class skills to balance the spotlight.

So umm, what other possible rationale would you as a DM have for disallowing a skill combination I wanted to play?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Wasn't talking about you, bro, talking about @FrogReaver. You were just the latest person in the conversation chain.
I typically will tell my DM what I'm playing if I talk to him before the session and I've figured it out by then. It's not so he can veto it though, it's so he can better integrate it. As long as I used whatever character creation rules he laid down then I am good to go. If he asked me to tell him a week before so he could integrate it then I would. Or if the DM in question wanted to look over my character to make sure I followed his rules - that's good too.

But to veto a character I've already invested time in creating - nah.
 


Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
99% of the time I'm good with pretty much any character as long as some attempt has been made to work into the setting and, if called for, the party. A strong character concept is mostly worth allowing just for the RP benefits. I do generally set boundaries and guidelines first though, and we chose are in place it mitigates most of the problems IMO.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My immediate thought is the same one I usually have; limits can be very good. Limits define our experience, and make it better.

To put it in more concrete terms, the best definition of an adjective I have ever seen was that an adjective is a word that limits a noun. You can have any kind of box, but once you have a red box, it can no longer be blue, or green, or yellow. Once it is a big box, it cannot be a small box, or a mid-sized box. And so on.

Specificity is the soul of narrative, and while adjectives limit nouns, they also define the noun; it is only through limits that we truly can be engaged.

This gets to the basic D&D experience; for better or worse, D&D uses classes. Classes define the D&D experience. Classes are one of the primary limits within the game, one of the primary points of differentiation. A wizard is not a fighter. Allowing an a la carte system (as you have in some other RPGs) would be a fine gestalt approach, and maximize freedom, but would also essentially remove the class system.

Moving from the abstract to the more concrete, there is nothing wrong with your proposal, per se. If anything, it points to an issue with 5e; 5e mimics the traditional class structure of D&D, but the classes themselves (esp. when combined with a la carte backgrounds, feats, subclasses, and multi-classing) do not really have the same amount of meaningful differentiation as a class system should provide. But, by the same token, it doesn't have a true gestalt option.

So it's trapped midway between true freedom and meaningful restriction.
See I love class based design. I will argue that it's better than non-class based design any day. And I agree that restrictions are meaningful, but the true benefit of a class based system isn't because it restricts things IMO, it's because it ties things into nice packages - such that the package can be roughly balanced with other packages without focusing on single abilities.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
I typically will tell my DM what I'm playing if I talk to him before the session and I've figured it out by then. It's not so he can veto it though, it's so he can better integrate it. As long as I used whatever character creation rules he laid down then I am good to go. If he asked me to tell him a week before so he could integrate it then I would. Or if the DM in question wanted to look over my character to make sure I followed his rules - that's good too.

But to veto a character I've already invested time in creating - nah.
I think the difference in opinion here is that the "character creations I've laid down" are literally just "talk to me about your concept before you get invested." I don't give too many guidelines because I want them to refine their concept narratively first, and then we can start working on how best to represent it mechanically. This is important to me because I'm very liberal with homebrewing.
 


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