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

payn

Legend
Versatile is for small sized characters, basically. Not defending it, but that's basically what it's for. A halfling can use a longsword in both hands to get a d10 without disadvantage.

And I completely agree, there are many design choices in 5e that I can't get my head around, since they don't seem to make a lot of sense. The entire design around saving throws seems backwards to me. I would have preferred 4e's approach, or something similar, which would let you use one of two ability scores to determine a save/defense (so Reflex is based on either Dex or Int) and have three of them, which is super elegant.

Plus, the game isn't clear exactly what makes a spell need a Charisma save, either. I mean, you look at Banishment. Why is it a Charisma save? Because nothing else makes sense?
I dont see what's so elegant about every character having identical saves with different names? Seems lazy to me.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I dont see what's so elegant about every character having identical saves with different names? Seems lazy to me.

I can see why some dex saves could be substituted by int saves... But the otherway round... not so much.

I could however see some spells being resisted by 2 saves.

Fear: vs wis or cha.
Mind affecting/visual illusions: int or wis
Fireball: int or dex
Ice blast: dex or con
 

The nice thing about 4e defense setup (pick the better of two stats for Fort/Ref/Wil each) was that it gave martials Charisma as an alternative to Wis. Just being able to be charismatic was an extra mechanically valid character option, finally.

Str/Con this did not help at all, as everyone wants Con anyway, so this just encouraged to dump Str even more.

Int/Dex was closer, as while Dex had more things that use it, you could substitute Int for AC/Init.
 
Last edited:

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I dont see what's so elegant about every character having identical saves with different names? Seems lazy to me.
The idea is you have three saves, but you can use one of two different ability scores to provide the bonus for them.

So Fortitude is based on the higher of Str/Con, Reflex the higher of Dex/Int, and Will the higher of Wis/Cha.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The nice thing about 4e defense setup (pick the better of two stats for Fort/Ref/Wil each) was that it gave martials Charisma as an alternative to Wis. Just being able to be charismatic was an extra mechanically valid character option, finally.

The other two defenses weren't interesting at all, though - Str/Con (everyone wants Con anyway) and Int/Dex (everyone wants Dex except Wizards who don't even have to think about this).
Do remember though that each class has a primary attribute and a secondary based on subclass in 4e, so while you might want Con, you're not going to be able to give it the same build priority as a class that actually uses Con to determine it's class abilities.*

*funky "V-classes" like the Warlock notwithstanding.

So if I'm a Fighter, being able to prioritize Strength over Constitution to keep my Fortitude defense high is pure bonus.
 

payn

Legend
The nice thing about 4e defense setup (pick the better of two stats for Fort/Ref/Wil each) was that it gave martials Charisma as an alternative to Wis. Just being able to be charismatic was an extra mechanically valid character option, finally.

The other two defenses weren't interesting at all, though - Str/Con (everyone wants Con anyway) and Int/Dex (everyone wants Dex except Wizards who don't even have to think about this). It's not like there was a reason to go 'hmm, I hate hitpoints/initiative, let me pick that other stat in the pairing instead' when it's not your main class stat already.
What do you mean finally? That was doable in 3E and made even better in PF1. I do think that 3E/PF1 still had the best stat variety (but totally borked math) amongst options. IT just so happened they made non-combat stuff compete with combat and that was a huge mistake. Modern design seems to have gone into this tight package where every single character has 2-3 different arrays. Pretty boring and predictable. Worse, every single build is identical they just pew pew with different flavor.
The idea is you have three saves, but you can use one of two different ability scores to provide the bonus for them.

So Fortitude is based on the higher of Str/Con, Reflex the higher of Dex/Int, and Will the higher of Wis/Cha.
No, no, no, I get it, but its lazy as hell. Also, a big part of the "everybody is the same" complaint. One which I might add has carried over a bit into 5E and is potentially the worst yet in PF2. So, this is not just a 4E thing (anymore).
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Huh, I didn't think of it as lazy at all. It went a long way towards making all ability scores equally viable, I thought. I mean, I would think having 6 saves was equally lazy, especially with the way those 6 saves were then used, with three being "major" saves, and the other three being "well, this might happen sometimes". A case might be made for Strength saves, but those could have just been Str checks (as was pointed out previously).
 


payn

Legend
Possible in the way that as a warrior your Will save was going to be bad anyway, so you might as well tank it on purpose..?
So, the idea putting points in charisma means that will must be tanked? I can see this, but fortunately 3E/PF1 allowed a lot of ways around that via feats and equipment. You were not stuck with what you were stuck with.
 

Do remember though that each class has a primary attribute and a secondary based on subclass in 4e
deep inhale True. It's been like a dozen years... But now it's coming back, A shape classes (one primary stat, powers use different secondary stats) and V shape classes (two different attack stats, but one secondary for both, like melee cleric is str+cha, while lazer cleric is wis+cha)...
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
With the push towards point buy as a "balanced" (heh) method of determining ability scores, while still pushing players to have high ability scores in things important to their class, you're going to have dump stats. Taking steps to make that less damning to the player was then kind of necessary.

I've seen players who tried to not dump things with point buy, and ended up with 14's in everything. And then struggled as a result, failing when other characters succeeded. Even if, mathematically, it was only failing another 5-10% of the time, the moments when their lower scores let them down outweighed the moments when their non-dump stats mattered, and they were miserable as a result.

D&D has always been a game where specialization is rewarded more than generalization, after all.
 

payn

Legend
Huh, I didn't think of it as lazy at all. It went a long way towards making all ability scores equally viable, I thought. I mean, I would think having 6 saves was equally lazy, especially with the way those 6 saves were then used, with three being "major" saves, and the other three being "well, this might happen sometimes". A case might be made for Strength saves, but those could have just been Str checks (as was pointed out previously).
Problem is the 4e defense doesn't really make all stats important, in fact, it does the opposite. Based on class, a few stats really matter, the rest don't. I dont think 5E went far enough making all stats matter to all characters.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
deep inhale True. It's been like a dozen years... But now it's coming back, A shape classes (one primary stat, powers use different secondary stats) and V shape classes (two different attack stats, but one secondary for both, like melee cleric is str+cha, while lazer cleric is wis+cha).
Sorry, was the trip down memory lane painful? While I had overall positive memories of 4e, I know that's not universally true.
 



James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Problem is the 4e defense doesn't really make all stats important, in fact, it does the opposite. Based on class, a few stats really matter, the rest don't. I dont think 5E went far enough making all stats matter to all characters.
Well no. It makes them closer to being equally important when building your character, but obviously not in play. And even then, you ran into issues-

Str gives you carry capacity. Con gives you healing surges and a few more hit points.

Dex gives you initiative. Int does not.

Cha gives you social skills. Wis gives you...Perception and Insight.

But I don't think any edition has ever managed to make all 6 ability scores equally viable. I mean, when I started playing in AD&D, Charisma didn't really do a lot by itself. Sure, it came up more at level 9 and up, when you're doing the base building thing (IF your game was doing that), and presumably it would matter if people were using the NPC reaction rules (which I never saw anyone use, but that's my own experience).

And it really hasn't gotten much better, other than, now there's incentive to have high Charisma for a few classes (technically Paladins and 2e Bards wanted Charisma, as well as a couple of specialty Wizards, but that was just a prerequisite, it didn't actually fuel any features).

Proficiency bonus matters more than ability bonuses even now, so it doesn't take much to be a face other than proficiency in Persuasion (and there's a few ways to get expertise on top of it).

To truly make all six ability scores equally useful, the game would have to use derived secondary characteristics, which is a layer of complexity I don't think the majority of D&D players want.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Versatile is for small sized characters, basically. Not defending it, but that's basically what it's for. A halfling can use a longsword in both hands to get a d10 without disadvantage.
Monks also benefit from the versatility of quarterstaves (and longswords if kensei).
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
On the subject of saves. I think it would be best to add proficiency bonus to all saves, to avoid being completely unable to pass a saving throw (though the new nat20 will help a little on that).
This would be nice, but I don't see it happening, sadly. The designers want each class to have weak points, and a lot of DM's feel the same, I think.

It's not a huge problem in 1-10 play that I've noticed, which are the levels most people play the game at. It's 11+ where the issue lies with saves, and well, high level play has always been a weak point of D&D.
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top