OneDnD Postmortem: 10 Ideas in 5e that didn't quite work...

Horwath

Hero
I love that list, minus multiclassing. I have never minded the dip. I do think there is room for improvement though.
I would love to have the rule that multiclassing must be within a level difference between classes, but those characters suck.

One solution is to have multiclass characters dual levels at certain point.

I.E.
5th level multiclass is 3/3 split, but with 3/2 HPs, and HDs, 5th level proficiency bonus. Only getting class features of both classes at 3rd level
then
8th level is 5/5
11th level is 7/7
14th level is 9/9
17th level is 11/11
20th level is 13/13
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Do not touch my beautiful Warlock. I don’t think there’s a single thing they could do that would make me drop the new edintion faster than giving warlocks the same boring spell slot progression as every other caster. Leave them alone; if you don’t like them, just play a sorcerer or wizard or something instead. Just let us warlock fans keep the one cool spellcasting class to ourselves.
 

Agree completely. I use it all the time in Call of Cthulhu...but D&D, not so much.
give the amount of diet Lovecraft we got in dnd why not just have psionics as well it is not like it will make your life worse?
I think the issue with Psionics is, you can't design it for people who "don't want Psionics".

It's like, you can't design Artificers for people who are fundamentally against the idea (me according to some people lol!).

Equally, you can't design Fighters or Wizards for people who, fundamentally/conceptually don't like to play those things.

You have to design classes for the people who do like the basic concept.

The Mystic wasn't doomed by its design, it was doomed by requiring 70% approval in an environment when, well, probably less than 70% of people even want significant Psionics in D&D. As I've said many times, any Full Caster-type class, let alone with a new system, would be doomed if subjected to 70% approval. It's notable that Artificer wasn't subjected to the approval process (as in, there was no possibility of saying no to Artificers period), and frankly, even as a Half-Caster, it wouldn't have passed. I mean, can you imagine though, if 5E launched without Bards or Warlocks, and then tried to add them via the 70% approval process? There absolutely NO possibility either would have got through. It's harder to imagine re: Wizards/Clerics/Sorcerers, but if we imagine a D&D where Sorcerer was the main Arcane caster, and Wizard was added as an entirely new class, subject to the 70% approval, there's no way. People would just say it was a "boring and overpowered" version of the Sorcerer.


There's also just an absolute TON of stuff in fantasy literature which is called "magic" (or something that's not "magic" or "psionics" - it's pretty much never called that), but that in terms of what it does and how it works, is obviously much closer to Psionics than D&D's fire-and-forget-type magic. Good examples would be, like virtually all "Romantic Fantasy" (i.e. the stuff Blue Rose covers), which was historically a huge chunk of the market, where the good guys tend to use psychic powers and the badguys D&D-style magic, Robin Hobb's "Assassin" books (the entire setting there are what, like 19 books or something now?), where The Wit and The Skill are pretty much both forms of Psionics, tons of the modern equivalent of Romantic Fantasy, which is basically the (extremely successful and rarely discussed) "Teenage Assassin Girl" genre, and so on.

I will say that books where magic looks like Psionics are disproportionately written by female authors, and where magic looks like D&D-style magic disproportionately written by male authors, so I think there's a bit of sexism in the claims that "fantasy doesn't have psionics in it", and a bit of entirely-unconscious sexism in the opposition to psionics as part of D&D (i.e. "at all", rather than in a specific game).

I think if they'd just renamed it to something that wasn't psionics or psychic powers or the like we'd immediately see like a massive increase in its acceptance though.


This definitely fits the list for "didn't quite work", yeah.

The issue is that a lot of people don't want just a half-caster with a sword (available already as an Artificer Battle Smith), they want something like the Swordmage of 4E, where the magic is fully integrated into their combat, where they're not just sometimes casting spells. Or at least the Magus of PF2 (not PF1).

Bladesinging fits well for an OD&D/AD&D-style Gish i.e. "Fighter/Mage", but less well for what a lot of people want.
wait there is a genre of nothing but teenage girl assassins? is any of it good or innovative for the rest of fantasy or is it one of those random subgenres that is flat strange for outsiders?

that idea for the gish is technically doable but it also runs into the problem of having fewer thematics or RP potential than mayonnaise which no one as yet has been able to fix?

Do not touch my beautiful Warlock. I don’t think there’s a single thing they could do that would make me drop the new edintion faster than giving warlocks the same boring spell slot progression as every other caster. Leave them alone; if you don’t like them, just play a sorcerer or wizard or something instead. Just let us warlock fans keep the one cool spellcasting class to ourselves.
I am not a warlock fan but I hear few complaints about them other than making all all blade locks have hexbladeness to them with similar bost to the other areas and maybe more base spell slots but mostly it is the too many synergies with the other cha caster.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I would add (with 11 as Lair actions, above):

12. Ranger. I think we know the Ranger didn't work out as intended. But they've made lots of changes, and the result (with Tasha's optional abilities) is pretty solid -- unique abilities and not overpowered. And they have a mechanism for Beastmaster that they've replicated for other core classes to (Firewarden druid, artificer).

13. Wizard specialties. Apart from the Diviner's Portent, very few of the ways to specialize as a wizard given in the PHB were fun: getting a reduction on spell transcription costs is like a coupon you never use.

14. Gish. This is not an archetype I play, and so I admit I don't fully understand it. The PHB had Abjurer Wizards and Eldritch Knights, neither of which satisfied. Xanathar gave us War Magic, which didn't fly. Tasha adds Bladesinging, and doesn't limit it to Elves. Hexblade Warlock, Valor Bards, Sword Bard, Hexadin, Sorcadin. The list goes on. There are so many ways to be a melee wizard, and people are always unhappy. I think Bladesinging is the closest to the archetype as I understand it, but this more than anything seems to point to a type of play they have struggled to meet.
Ranger, total fail out of the gate. Even with the patches...in any case its an obvious one to fix now. Also, if not quite as bad, see sorcerer and monk, and some fighter subclasses.

Wizard has a few really solid schools, a few it depends (illusionist) and some blah, but overall a strong class that feels about right in play.

Swords with benefits characters are really, really popular. And there are many ways to make them in 5e. But no, there is no real arcane equivalent of the paladin, except maybe a multiclassed paladin.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Do not touch my beautiful Warlock. I don’t think there’s a single thing they could do that would make me drop the new edintion faster than giving warlocks the same boring spell slot progression as every other caster. Leave them alone; if you don’t like them, just play a sorcerer or wizard or something instead. Just let us warlock fans keep the one cool spellcasting class to ourselves.
There is no way I would play a sorcerer if I could play a warlock instead.
 

wait there is a genre of nothing but teenage girl assassins? is any of it good or innovative for the rest of fantasy or is it one of those random subgenres that is flat strange for outsiders?
I mean, technically it's a subgenre, but yeah there are definitely enough fantasy novels about teenage girl assassins for it to be considered a genre at this point, I'd suggest. They're also an extremely common character in fantasy novels generally, at this point.

Like here's a 2018 reddit post that lists a bunch (and more are in the comments):
(NB most of the leads in the books are teenagers or early 20s)

Some of these are pretty obscure, but some sell hugely more copies than books which are much "bigger" names in the male-dominated TT RPG world. You see Mistborn on the list for example (which less on-genre than most), that's known to a huge number of fantasy fans on this board, and has sold 1.5m copies across all three books - whereas likely very few people here have read or even heard of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series, and that's sold 7m copies! And if anything Throne of Glass is closer to D&D than Mistborn is, thematically/setting-wise.

We saw the same pattern with Romantic Fantasy in the 1980s and 1990s. It outsold a lot of more male-oriented fantasy, and fantasy by male authors, but somehow, hardly anyone who played TTRPGs seemed to have read it, even when they'd read obscure-as-hell extruded paste fantasy by male authors. Only when Blue Rose came out did it really get recognised at all, and a lot of the bizarre hate some people had for Blue Rose was simply that it represented a different paradigm of fantasy, and one that some men felt very threatened by.

Is any of it good or innovative? Hmmm. Some of it is? I mean, mostly it's just different? Like, the 90% rule applies here as with all fantasy (and most genres in fact). I read the first Throne of Glass book. I wouldn't call it good, but it have stuff in it that a lot of fantasy just doesn't - like the main character actually has a menstrual cycle and it impacts their life/feelings, etc., for example, and indeed, doing hard exercise isn't some cool thing that just makes you stronger like most fantasy, but the character gets lactic acid build up (they don't know it's called that, obviously), and pukes all over the place. Indeed this kind of slightly "closer to the real" in terms of bodies and behaviour/feelings deal is fairly common in the subgenre (Mistborn is a notable reversal, where it's completely unrealistic about both - but Sanderson himself has discussed how he sees that as a failing on his part), rather than power-trip "pain is just weakness leaving the body" stuff seen in a lot of fantasy. I think my only real criticism-criticism of Throne of Glass would be that it's about an assassin but the assassin never actually assassinates anyone, she continually manages to subvert having to actually do it and it's not terribly believable and sort of weakens the tension of the book. Most of my other "criticisms" would be a genre-reader mismatch issue, rather than actual failings. I'd have read the sequel if the last damn scene in the book wasn't yet another "Psych!!! I didn't actually kill them lol!" deal.
 

There is no way I would play a sorcerer if I could play a warlock instead.
Right? You'd have to have a gun to my head.

Oh and ideas that didn't quite work:

Ultra-simplistic weapon rules - 5E has treated weapons more simplistically than any previous edition (including BECMI/RC D&D!). And like, personally, I don't think it's worked. It's lead to PCs not using diverse weapons, but instead a small selection of marginally more optimal weapons. I think D&D needs to "pick a lane" here, and either go for something like class-based damage (probably not) or weapons which have at least a little bit more going on, so there is actually a reason to use more of them. This has played out particularly poorly for extra-fancy weapons from 3E and 4E, and like, I kind of am fine with that but also "yawn".
 

Horwath

Hero
Right? You'd have to have a gun to my head.

Oh and ideas that didn't quite work:

Ultra-simplistic weapon rules - 5E has treated weapons more simplistically than any previous edition (including BECMI/RC D&D!). And like, personally, I don't think it's worked. It's lead to PCs not using diverse weapons, but instead a small selection of marginally more optimal weapons. I think D&D needs to "pick a lane" here, and either go for something like class-based damage (probably not) or weapons which have at least a little bit more going on, so there is actually a reason to use more of them. This has played out particularly poorly for extra-fancy weapons from 3E and 4E, and like, I kind of am fine with that but also "yawn".
I would say that STR based melee weapons need and damage die bump and that is it.
You cannot value Versatile property same as finesse.
And half the weapons have no sense whatsoever with any consistency in terms of damage and properties.
 



Remathilis

Legend
Do not touch my beautiful Warlock. I don’t think there’s a single thing they could do that would make me drop the new edintion faster than giving warlocks the same boring spell slot progression as every other caster. Leave them alone; if you don’t like them, just play a sorcerer or wizard or something instead. Just let us warlock fans keep the one cool spellcasting class to ourselves.
My big problem with pact magic is

1. Being tied to short rests makes their spell regain unreliable, and the majority of the early game is hoarding two spell slots if you don't think a short rest is going to be available.
2. The fact you have your highest spell slot creates incentive to use your highest level spell and ignore lower level ones, save for bread and butter ones like hex.
3. The system breaks down at 10th level, ergo mystic arcanum and the confusion "why warlocks have 6th level spells but the table only goes up to 5th".
4. It doesn't play well with multi-classing, it doesn't add to other classes the way every other class does, and it can synergize too well with others (I've lost track of what the latest Sage Advice is on paladin smite and pact magic).

I'm not saying the warlock is unfun or not flavorful, and invocations are brilliant. I just think the pact magic system needs a revision because it didn't hit design goals of being simple and intuitive.
 

1. Being tied to short rests makes their spell regain unreliable, and the majority of the early game is hoarding two spell slots if you don't think a short rest is going to be available.
2. The fact you have your highest spell slot creates incentive to use your highest level spell and ignore lower level ones, save for bread and butter ones like hex.
3. The system breaks down at 10th level, ergo mystic arcanum and the confusion "why warlocks have 6th level spells but the table only goes up to 5th".
4. It doesn't play well with multi-classing, it doesn't add to other classes the way every other class does, and it can synergize too well with others (I've lost track of what the latest Sage Advice is on paladin smite and pact magic).
I mean, 2 & 4 are literally not problems. At worst 2 is something you personally dislike from an aesthetic perspective. Gameplay-design-wise it's an active positive.
1 is a real problem because Short Rests are a real problem. Easy to fix though.
3 isn't much of a problem, because by the time people get to that level, their degree of system mastery re: Warlocks is high enough to understand, and statistics show few people play above 10th anyway (I think someone quoted 77% of groups play at level 7 or below earlier).

So again this is really a Short Rests problem.
 

payn

Legend
I would love to have the rule that multiclassing must be within a level difference between classes, but those characters suck.

One solution is to have multiclass characters dual levels at certain point.

I.E.
5th level multiclass is 3/3 split, but with 3/2 HPs, and HDs, 5th level proficiency bonus. Only getting class features of both classes at 3rd level
then
8th level is 5/5
11th level is 7/7
14th level is 9/9
17th level is 11/11
20th level is 13/13
No thanks, I prefer it as is.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Interesting thoughts everyone.

I want to say they even if the system missed the mark, it wasn't bad. I just feel many of them didn't quite do what they advertised.

A good example is background features and Adventure Paths. If your DM was using one of the many storylines WotC provided, there was little opportunity to use them. The earlier Sword Coast ones occasionally have times you could meet with a noble or get a free inn room, but the more far afield you went, the less useful they were (free room and board from your temple was useless in Avernus, meeting a noble in Barovia is detrimental to your health!). I know that also is a part of the DM and prepackaged modules, but if WotC couldn't find ways to fit uses for backgrounds into their adventures, most newer DMs weren't going to be able to.

So the idea was solid, but the fact that they were easily rendered moot by most adventures meant they rarely were a factor in game.

If I was to add a few new ones, I'd say Downtime didn't work as desired due to how often games without home bases don't have weeks or months of sitting at home. I'd also say the 6-8 encounters per day design is fine for Dungeon Crawls but failed in other types of resource balancing. Ymmv on those.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I think you're making a big mistake.

Most of the stuff you mention effectively work as options. Instead of trying to frame an "intended use" for each one of them, you should ask yourself in how many different ways the gaming groups have used them.

For instance, Backgrounds can be used by some gaming groups just to give a bit of narrative backup to characters of a certain class picking proficiencies usually of another class. This could have been a cut-and-dry rule such as "pick two skills from the whole list", instead the idea of Background is "pick a background to narrate why you have those two skills". OTOH Backgrounds can be used by another group to create a placement for a PC in the setting: PC1 is the town sage, PC2 is a noble in the local court and PC3 is in the prison guards. If you run a campaign where the PCs don't live their lives behind and become full-time travelling adventurers, these (and the related features) will be handy and will be used. Yet another gaming group might instead focus on their chosen background just as a source of roleplaying suggestions. All of these are fine ways to use backgrounds.

Same goes with Inspiration, Short Rests, Multiclassing... these ARE modular in some sense, or "dialable". The fact that some of these rules are inconsistent is a strength exactly because it allows them to be used differently by different groups. They fact that some don't even connect is also a strength because then a group is even able to completely ignore them if they aren't interested. I can understand wanting more connection for something that you like, but for example 3e was burdensome because too many things connected too much, and didn't give much freedom to individual groups (if you tried to change something, you had to work on how it affected several other things).

All in all, these made 5e work more as a toolbox than a rigid system, and this was very much intended when designers repeatedly stated that the purpose was to allow for as many different playstyle as possible.

Now the 1D&D revision sound like the designers have grown more opinionated about how everyone should play the game (a trend seen in much stronger tones 15 years ago): everybody should use feats, everybody should use inspiration, everybody should make a big deal of backgrounds... This is actually quite surprising, considering that in the more narrative/roleplaying areas of the game they've gone a long way towards more inclusivity. So why are they moving towards less inclusivity of playstyles?
Because that's just mechanics, and it doesn't affect their public image the way the narrative/roleplaying stuff does.
 

renbot

Explorer
13. Wizard specialties. Apart from the Diviner's Portent, very few of the ways to specialize as a wizard given in the PHB were fun: getting a reduction on spell transcription costs is like a coupon you never use.
A thousand times yes! A "specialist" wizard should be strongly incentized to actually cast the spells from their school, whether by making the spells more effective, additional effects, more interesting abilities that recharge when a school-spell is cast, access to metamagic that can only be used on spells from their school, etc.

Historically I have made tailored spell lists for each specialist wizard, removing some wizard spells from their options and adding spells from other class lists that fit the concept. Alas, all that hard work has been...largely unappreciated by my players so I've stopped trying to force my "vision" on their characters. Player agency is my cross to bear.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
You will have to pry the Warlock build out of my cold, dead hands.

There are exactly two (two) interesting class builds right now in terms of design, AFAIC. Warlock and Monk. Okay, Rogue as well, to a lesser extent.

The rest might be good, but they are relatively boring.

I would have made an exception to the Mystic class, which was genuinely interesting, but got shot down.
 

payn

Legend
You will have to pry the Warlock build out of my cold, dead hands.

There are exactly two (two) interesting class builds right now in terms of design, AFAIC. Warlock and Monk. Okay, Rogue as well, to a lesser extent.

The rest might be good, but they are relatively boring.

I would have made an exception to the Mystic class, which was genuinely interesting, but got shot down.
I think next playtest packet is trying out Warlock and Monk as Bard subclasses.
 


TheLibrarian

Explorer
Definitely agree on backgrounds/bonds/ideals/flaws/trinkets. This felt like forced roleplaying to me. Like the meme where the security guard says: "I specifically told you to role play amongst yourselves." But then these are activities most of my groups already engaged in. I can see where they were useful for new players, though. Here's a stereotype you can grab on to to help ease you into this thing that might seem a bit weird. But I felt for experienced players most of the options were pretty shallow.

Hit Dice are interesting, but don't replace a dedicated healer, which it seems like they might have been intended to do. That said, I ported this idea over to a Star Wars saga edition where healing is somewhat obtuse and it works pretty well!
 

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