D&D 5E PC Limitations vs. Do Whatever You Want

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
Some people find maximum open-ness fun. People with a lot of anxiety might view it as stressful. Most responses will probably follow a bell curve gradient and vary based on personal taste.

The actual playing of the game is what matters most. DMs and players working together to craft fun sessions. If a player has carte blanche to create the most perfect representation of their character, but then contributes nothing to the gaming session, it is a waste of game design.

I’ve seen tons of players who “love their character” contribute nothing to the gaming session until it’s time to roll for initiative. I’ve also seen tons of players with suboptimal builds role-play extensively and contribute to driving the story in a natural way. There is room for both types. It really comes down to the individual personality of the player.
 

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No my point was not orc warlocks specifically, it was mindlessly moving the bonuses from any vaguely ‘misaligned’ class-race combo into the class’s ‘standard optimal build’ rather than actually seeing unusual combinations as themselves, looking at their own strengths and talents rather than as something to be made to fit the mould
There aren't any.

That's the problem. There aren't any "their own strengths and talents." 5e has given people what they asked for, barebones mechanics that do nothing more than the rock-bottom minimum. And guess what? That means people don't find much interest in the things that don't contribute to those rock-bottom minimums! If you're a squishy caster, you don't care that you can rush headlong into danger more effectively, because you never want to rush headlong into danger, it would be stupid and dangerous to do so.
 

Some people find maximum open-ness fun. People with a lot of anxiety might view it as stressful. Most responses will probably follow a bell curve gradient and vary based on personal taste.

The actual playing of the game is what matters most. DMs and players working together to craft fun sessions. If a player has carte blanche to create the most perfect representation of their character, but then contributes nothing to the gaming session, it is a waste of game design.

I’ve seen tons of players who “love their character” contribute nothing to the gaming session until it’s time to roll for initiative. I’ve also seen tons of players with suboptimal builds role-play extensively and contribute to driving the story in a natural way. There is room for both types. It really comes down to the individual personality of the player.
I don't think the connection to anxiety is all that strong. I have multiple players who have diagnosed anxiety. The fact that I am supportive of what they want to do--not that I leave them high and dry, on their own to figure everything out, but that I work with them, drill down to what they want, and find a way to implement it--means their anxiety is significantly reduced. One player has needed a lot of time to get used to there not being a "right" way to play, but rather that he has to decide how he wants to play, and I consider it both a duty and a privilege to help him figure that sort of thing out.
 

Oofta

Legend
I set limits based on my vision of the campaign world and how it works. I've run games in the same world for decades, I want it to make sense and if there are changes for those changes to be organic. So I limit races allowed because they didn't previously exist unless something changes. I limit options for warlocks because I don't want evil PCs but if you make a deal with a literal devil sooner or the bill comes due.

In other ways, I like when I have limitations when I play because it means the DM has thought about their world. If I'm playing a caster, part of the fun is trying to figure out what kind of caster I'm going to be and how it will synergize with the group. Do anything you want, if taken to the extreme, would be boring to me because I could always throw down an "I win" card.
 

Do anything you want, if taken to the extreme, would be boring to me because I could always throw down an "I win" card.
Which would be why you don't do that. Just as "DM has absolute authority" taken to an extreme leads to "Mother-May-I," and the response to any criticism of that nature is, "Well obviously you don't become a capricious dictator, that's clearly an unhealthy extreme no one is advocating for."
 

Oofta

Legend
Which would be why you don't do that. Just as "DM has absolute authority" taken to an extreme leads to "Mother-May-I," and the response to any criticism of that nature is, "Well obviously you don't become a capricious dictator, that's clearly an unhealthy extreme no one is advocating for."

I was merely addressing one aspect of the OP's question. I explained my position for other limitations.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What I learned from this is that there are a very large number of fetters and limitations inherent in the foundation of the system that I didn't see anymore because I had been playing for years and had internalized it.

Yeah, and as someone who is consciously pulling from Brother's Grimm as one of my sources, I have noticed. People laugh that I have a 600 page house rule document, but it's a lot less funny to hear that I have a 600 page house rule document when you realize that I'd have an easier time handling "low wisdom", "changes into a cat" and "heals" as a 1st level character than all the material WotC ever released in all its splat books combined and that my document replaces all those books. The trouble is that so much of what WotC published was redundantly supporting the already existing concepts, which not only didn't expand the game much, but created power creep.

For the record, she'd be a changling feyborn in my game. I probably would have to add a Feyblood feat to support her long-term ambitions to be a healer if she just stayed a feyborn (but that's already work I have sketched out for possible rules appendices), or she'd need to multiclass into something but the character is perfectly viable and I'm much less likely to have needed to throw out the other stuff she wanted to do. Most likely I'd be like, "Your character starts out young and grows into your power, so some of that might be things you learn to do later in your story."

There are still a few character types I know can't handle, and presumably several I'm blind to because I've not had enough precocious 11 year olds tell me what they want to play. I can't yet do Sherlock Holmes. I have some ideas for how to do it, but I have a hard time figuring how to balance all that comes with Sherlock Holmes out of combat with being good enough in combat in the long run that it fits my naturalistic style. I also can't do a "Lucky" character whose primary ability is the universe smiles on them. Again, I have ideas how to do it and even a class sketched out for it, but the trouble is trying to figure out how to balance it at double digit levels (balancing the game prior to about 7th level is easy). Since no character has ever demanded to play Sherlock Holmes, or Bilbo as anything but a rogue, or demanded to play Saka from Avatar the Last Airbender, or Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle, etc. I haven't been able to play test my concepts much less see them in action at high level.

I would love for WotC to inspire solutions to my problems, but WotC has shown in the last 20 years a marked lack of interest in any of the rules I would care to have.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
So instead of getting cool Warlock Orcs we get boring Warlock Half-Elves because we always get Warlock Half-Elves, why would you ever play anything else, you get access to both Prodigy and Elven Accuracy AND +2 Cha AND a bunch of other benefits.
Agreed. And I think the bit I bolded here is the important thing. People who are against floating ASIs because of "optimization" forget that the +2 to a stat is a mere 5% bonus that is, honestly, meaningless after a while. It's the racial traits that are really important. Orcs and half-orcs are "optimized" to be fighters not because they get a +2 Strength but because all their racial traits are martial in nature, and specifically close-combat martial. Which means that someone who wants to play an orc or half-orc warlock with +2 Charisma is less optimized than an orc fighter or half-elf warlock because warlocks (even hexblades) are too squishy to want to charge into battle very often.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
The developers restrict us in different ways than before.

While there are a lot of floating stats, the stat caps make many of boosts trivial so that it never really mattered what you were playing.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
One thing I find humorous is that we often see complaints about fighters not boosting cha, int or wisdom because str or dex is too important. Never once have I seen it advocated for a wizard to boost cha over int. Or a cleric to boost int over wisdom. Or a sorcerer to boost str over charisma.

Except in the right campaign any of those choices may actually end up as more optimal than the typical choices. It’s just rare to see a campaign that way.

And also the stakes and resolution of combat in d&d is much more mechanically clear. That’s not so much the case with out of combat.
 

payn

Legend
One thing I find humorous is that we often see complaints about fighters not boosting cha, int or wisdom because str or dex is too important. Never once have I seen it advocated for a wizard to boost cha over int. Or a cleric to boost int over wisdom. Or a sorcerer to boost str over charisma.

Except in the right campaign any of those choices may actually end up as more optimal than the typical choices. It’s just rare to see a campaign that way.

And also the stakes and resolution of combat in d&d is much more mechanically clear. That’s not so much the case with out of combat.
Largely, its because casters have a get out of dump free card in spells. They can make up for any shortcoming so its no big deal. Martial characters tho got what they got.
 

One thing I find humorous is that we often see complaints about fighters not boosting cha, int or wisdom because str or dex is too important. Never once have I seen it advocated for a wizard to boost cha over int. Or a cleric to boost int over wisdom. Or a sorcerer to boost str over charisma.

Except in the right campaign any of those choices may actually end up as more optimal than the typical choices. It’s just rare to see a campaign that way.

And also the stakes and resolution of combat in d&d is much more mechanically clear. That’s not so much the case with out of combat.
The thing you're missing here is that Int and Wis are both social and exploration stats. Wisdom lets you spot threats and read people - both critically important in both exploration and social situations and Int lets you find things and know about what's going on and backgrounds - again both very important. And they can both use their spells in social and exploration situations.

Meanwhile strength isn't a social stat and in practice it's a pretty weak exploration stat past the first few levels when you get spells like flight and items like bags of holding. And fighters normally don't get anything meaningful other than the most basic amount of skills to help outside combat whereas casters get spells.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
If you don't want PCs to play weird races, just do what Gygax did and make humans the most mechanically powerful race. How about Humans don't have stat limits?
Alternatively? Just say "no".

I say "no" all the time. I have no shortage of players, or campaigns. "No" works just fine.

However, I don't say "no" just to say "no". I often do so because the campaign I want to run is something I do not want to be defined by the name of the Adventure -- but principally by the nature of the PC party and who they are. Thematic approches to the PC party makes the adventure about the PCs, not about the lands they are in, the foes they will face, or who the BBEG is. That may be the book I have bought, but it isn't the campaign I plan to run. That's something entirely different.

This approach to a campaign works. It works very well when you take the time and effort to bring it all together. So "no" is about YES to the narrative theme you are trying to create.

In order to have that sort of narrative theme shine through, you need player buy in. Once you have that, all the rest of this multi-racial murder hobo stuff goes away without a problem - and mechanical bonuses are wholly irrelevant.
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
You really want to blow your players' minds? Remove headbands of intellect, gauntlets of ogre power, and other stat-boosting items from the game. :devilish:
Do those even matter now that they come late in the game and only set your stat instead of giving a bonus? Except the ones that break the arbitrary ceiling the DM should be ignoring anyway?
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Do those even matter now that they come late in the game and only set your stat instead of giving a bonus? Except the ones that break the arbitrary ceiling the DM should be ignoring anyway?
I mean, it's Dungeons & Dragons. Nothing matters until the DM says it does, and says how much.
 

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