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

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
BIFTs did grant Inspiration, can you unpack a little on what you mean by "powered inspiration"? I'm not sure I'm understanding your point.
Hah! Since I have never been in a 5e game that used Inspiration, I didn't even know that BIFTS "powered" inspiration. By which I mean, if you do something in keeping with one of your BIFTS, and don't have Inspiration, you get one.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If so, I would go something closer with Drives that are in Homebrew World (a Dungeon World hack). The player may be given four different drives to choose from based on their class, and they would choose one. These are connected to XP in Homebrew World, but these could be connected to Inspiration.

Fighter


Wizard



Choosing one makes it easier for the players and GM to track. Tying it to class makes it about leaning into some potential archetypes and such.

OR ALTERNATIVELY

If WotC wanted to, they could make a similar list that was not Class-based, but rather Alignment-based. So a player may have a list of four different drives to choose from Good or Chaos or Law, etc.
My problem with things like that is that it feels like I'm straitjacketing myself before I start as to how I'll play this new character, rather than letting its character and goals etc. develop organically through play. Maybe its goals - other than simple survival - never come to be that clearly hard-coded; instead it just keeps on keepin' on.
 

Aldarc

Legend
My problem with things like that is that it feels like I'm straitjacketing myself before I start as to how I'll play this new character, rather than letting its character and goals etc. develop organically through play. Maybe its goals - other than simple survival - never come to be that clearly hard-coded; instead it just keeps on keepin' on.
FYI, in PbtA games, Drives can change. Likewise Aspects in Fate games can also change.
 

Overall, I like 5e. But there are some really baffling design decisions that always make me wonder what was going through the minds of the game designers when they were writing them.
I feel like, whilst 5E has some stuff that really works tremendously well, stuff like the 6 saves, the un-integrated HD system, the Short/Long rest system, the flip-flopping on class and race design, the 6-8 encounters/day incident (which is really the 30-50 feral hogs of RPGs - 1d3+2 x 10 feral hogs I should say - I just want to know what their treasure types were!), the whole of the DMG which omg such an unhelpful mess, the half-considered Skill/Tool proficiency system, a bunch of the subclasses and so on all just mean that it's most unfinished-seeming edition of D&D. To me what it feels like is, the system needed another six months of playtesting and thinking, minimum, maybe more, but the designers were told time to lock features, they're publishing in X months, and so we got what we got. Maybe the designers were fine with that - but they shouldn't have been!

(We know that happened to 4E, too, but 4E didn't feel as unfinished, it didn't have any components as inconsistent as the above - its major issues were Skill Challenges sucked on launch, and monster math needed updated. That and like, whoever was writing Feats for like the first year or two of the game should honestly have been jailed for the protection of D&D, so many unnecessary hyperspecific Feats good god.)
 

payn

Legend
I feel like, whilst 5E has some stuff that really works tremendously well, stuff like the 6 saves, the un-integrated HD system, the Short/Long rest system, the flip-flopping on class and race design, the 6-8 encounters/day incident (which is really the 30-50 feral hogs of RPGs - 1d3+2 x 10 feral hogs I should say - I just want to know what their treasure types were!), the whole of the DMG which omg such an unhelpful mess, the half-considered Skill/Tool proficiency system, a bunch of the subclasses and so on all just mean that it's most unfinished-seeming edition of D&D. To me what it feels like is, the system needed another six months of playtesting and thinking, minimum, maybe more, but the designers were told time to lock features, they're publishing in X months, and so we got what we got. Maybe the designers were fine with that - but they shouldn't have been!

(We know that happened to 4E, too, but 4E didn't feel as unfinished, it didn't have any components as inconsistent as the above - its major issues were Skill Challenges sucked on launch, and monster math needed updated. That and like, whoever was writing Feats for like the first year or two of the game should honestly have been jailed for the protection of D&D, so many unnecessary hyperspecific Feats good god.)
Im guessing the modularity that evaporated as time went on was supposed to round 5E out?
 


payn

Legend
I suspect that got cut earlier but for the same reasons - like, they had to realize at some point that designing 5E to be modular would be a hell of a task (given 5E is also pretty crunchy), and probably booted that a while back.
I dont think it was booted so early. I think they wanted a foundation to build on, but just gave up at some point. Almost like a wait and see how this whole thing turns out before actually finishing it goes?
 


TheSword

Legend
With 5th edition winding down and 1D&D ascending, I'd like to look at some ideas presented during the game's lifespan that didn't quite work out as desired. Some will be removed, some will be changed, and some may yet live to see 5.5. In no paricular order
You’re missing the caveat here… “for me”
1.) Backgrounds

Yeah, the kinda exist in the packet as predefined options, but the current background is dead. It started life in D&D next as a kind of mixture of 4e Themes along with 3e-style feat trees before morphing into a collection of non-weapon proficiencies and role-playing aids. It helped define your character as more than just as fighter or a sorcerer, but as a soldier, an outlander, or a sailor. And lots of supplements (Official and 3pp) added more of them to fit every possible origin. However, they maintained a few flaws in their design: most players viewed them as inflexible options for skills and proficiencies despite "customizing your background" being an option. Most of the Features were heavily DM and campaign dependent (and often amounted to little more than "free room and board" or "NPC will cut you some slack". Easily forgotten by both DM and player. They also had a cascading effect as we'll see below. While I genuinely liked the ideas of backgrounds, I don't think they did what WotC wanted in terms of role-playing.
They are a way of customizing intangible elements and adding a little bit of extra detail. The rule that if they granted a skill you already had you could pick any other, meant they were actually very flexible. They were fun, flavourful and helped customize the classes. They clearly aren’t going anywhere.
2.) Bonds/Ideas/Flaws/Traits

Alongside Backgrounds were lists of personality traits, written in first person sentences to foster deeper role-playing options by having PCs define their personality, beliefs, and shortcomings. Like the backgrounds they were attached to, they were supposed to offer suggestions, but more than a few PCs took them as the only options for playing your acolytes or urchins. Others picked them at character creation, wrote them down and promptly forgot them, or didn't bother to write them down at all. While BIFTS may exist in some fashion in 5.5, they aren't attached to background and I suspect won't appear as some rollable table of suggestions, though I feel they will probably remain for NPCs in modules.
Excellent at easing new players into the experience of pretending to be somewhere else. Not needed for everyone but didn’t do any harm, and useful for those that needed them. Again, fun and flavour. God forbid we step outside the mechanical.

3.) Trinkets.

Ah trinkets. Little curiosities you rolled for at chargen, wrote-down in your equipment and were ignored afterwards. Sometimes interesting, rarely useful, often forgotten.
Totally dull… right up until that token you wrote into your backstory ends up being a magic item that the DM weaves in. It’s a tangible way of bringing backstory to life. It worked for dark souls. Honestly, who care though? It’s a bit like saying the spare dagger the PC carries doesn’t work.

4.) Multi-classing

5e brought back 3e style multiclassing, with some adjustments to fix the problems inherent to such a system. Spell slots (but not spells known) were dependent on all caster classes, proficiency bonus and cantrips were a function of character level, not class level, and starting proficiencies were staggered to avoid dipping for free saves and weapons/armors. Despite all this, the system was still primarily used to dip one class into another to pull some low-level features from one class and add it to another. In particular, the Charisma classes (Warlock, Sorcerer, and Paladin) synergized almost too well with each other. Eventually, subclasses and feats became more popular ways to poach from one class and into another, and I wager that multiclassing with get another revision (if it remains at all) to curb abuses and discourage 1-2 level dips.
Hard disagree. The best multiclassing system in the 5 editions of the game. Allows me to do what multiclassing should do, which is play a hybrid character in a viable way. Love it. Two thirds of my characters multiclass.

5.) Inspiration.

Designed as a reward for good role-play (remember those BIFTS?) Inspiration didn't quite work as they wanted. It was hard or inconsistent to get, easily forgotten, and didn't connect to the rest of the system. I see why WotC has opted to make it more widely and consistently useful.
You or your DM forget to use it, so it doesn’t work? This is a classic PICNIC… Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.
6.) Modular Rules

Ah what sweet summer children we were! The notion that 5e would be rules-modular was partially true: It's a remarkably easy system to house rule. But the dream of Alternative skill systems, advanced combat options, new spell systems, mass combat, alternative ability scores, and other ideas hinted at in the DMG but never expanded on or fleshed out quickly faded. An alternative "Greyhawk" initiative based on weapon/spell speed was UA'd but that was the only attempt at any sort of alternative rule modules we saw from WotC.
There are tons of optional rules and systems for 5e. Added to by a plethora of third parties. Folks can’t even agree on what modular means so it’s a leap to criticise 5e for not being it.
7.) Psionics.

Another bit of vaporware: true psionic rules seemed like a necessity and WotC honestly tried to make the Mystic a thing, but it never gelled and eventually collapsed into the vaguely psychic subclass options we have today.
I don’t hold 5e accountable for an UA play test. Pretty much everything a 3e and earlier psionic could do is replicated in 5e. Tasha’s additions were nice. They tested the water without precluding later options. I don’t call that failure.
8.) Short Rests

The short rests were designed to resemble the encounter recharge mechanic in 4e: a way to recharge certain abilities more often than a long rest as well as to heal between encounters. But the long duration needed to use one made it hard to do in most situations (if you were safe enough to take a lunch break, you probably weren't in the kind of place you needed to recharge those abilities in) and the fact certain classes and races (warlock, monk, fighter, dragonborn) needed them far more than others lead to a lot of tension in using them. They still exist in some fashion, but I wager the change from short-rest recharge to prof/day will make their usefulness dimmish further.
Again, this is a picnic. Our group takes plenty of short tests. Usually two per adventuring day. One hour isn’t very long. Crickey, I get up from my office from work to get a cup of tea and by the time I’m back at my seat an hour has passed. Finding a defendable space in a dungeon is a form of tactics, as is making sure you have the resources to successful take that rest. Our group had no tension in using them. If they are causing tension, you probably need to examine the group social contract.
9.) Hit Dice

Speaking of, they were great for short rests to heal hp without magic, but as short rests were skipped either due to the inability to safely rest for an hour or skipped instead for a long-rest, HD rarely had a chance to shine. It seems a few more options to use them to heal 4e style (spending them in combat or via a spell) might bring them more use beyond low level.
Much more could be done. Adventures in Rokugan and Adventures in Middle Earth give good examples of this in their add one. 3pp is great for pushing the boat out on this. To be honest, HD is our groups main method of healing.
10. Pact Magic

I'm going to get some flack for this. Pact Magic is the Warlock method of casting spells; a few spell slots recharged over a short rest and always cast at max efficiency seemed like an interesting alterative to spellcasting on paper, but warlock magic was very finicky. It was a very hard concept for new players to wrap their heads around always casting at max level (no, you use your 5th level spell slot to cast your 1st level spell as if it was 5th level), was wholly dependent on frequent short rests, and was an absolute nightmare with multiclassing. Further, the spell list went up to 9th level, but levels 6-9 were part of a different class feature (mystic arcanum) and didn't use spell slots at all to cast. The system looked cool, but maybe (if WotC is open to more radical adjustment to the class system) it would be better to have warlocks be a regular spell slot caster akin to sorcerer or bard rather than their own weird spell system that doesn't play nice with the rest of the game.
On this I agree. Ditch Warlocks from the PHB.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I dont think it was booted so early. I think they wanted a foundation to build on, but just gave up at some point. Almost like a wait and see how this whole thing turns out before actually finishing it goes?
They built the system that is modular, it seems theybjuat figured out that they could get 90%+ of players in a certain range ofnplayatyles and have just focused their efforts there, leaving the 10% for the OGL (like our local Level Up effort).
 

payn

Legend
They built the system that is modular, it seems theybjuat figured out that they could get 90%+ of players in a certain range ofnplayatyles and have just focused their efforts there, leaving the 10% for the OGL (like our local Level Up effort).
Right, I wasn't convinced before and I'm not now.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Right, I wasn't convinced before and I'm not now.
shrug

The system is made up of modules, and the math deals very well with them being plugged in and out. And homebrewed or third party modules work well, too!

They didn't go for delivering a wide swathe of Edition specific modules, which is an idea they briefly floated...but seemed to abandon when they started gathering data. Doubt that is a coincidence.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
You’re missing the caveat here… “for me”

They are a way of customizing intangible elements and adding a little bit of extra detail. The rule that if they granted a skill you already had you could pick any other, meant they were actually very flexible. They were fun, flavourful and helped customize the classes. They clearly aren’t going anywhere.

Excellent at easing new players into the experience of pretending to be somewhere else. Not needed for everyone but didn’t do any harm, and useful for those that needed them. Again, fun and flavour. God forbid we step outside the mechanical.


Totally dull… right up until that token you wrote into your backstory ends up being a magic item that the DM weaves in.


Flat out wrong. The best multiclassing system in the 5 editions of the game. Allows me to do what multiclassing should do, which is play a hybrid character in a viable way. Love it. Two thirds of my characters multiclass.


You or your DM forget to use it, so it doesn’t work? This is a classic PICNIC… Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.

There are tons of optional rules and systems for 5e. Added to by a plethora of third parties. Folks can’t even agree on what modular means so it’s a leap to criticise 5e for not being it.

I don’t hold 5e accountable for an UA play test. Pretty much everything a 3e and earlier psionic could do is replicated in 5e. Tasha’s additions were nice. They tested the water without precluding later options. I don’t call that failure.

Again, this is a picnic. Our group takes plenty of short tests. Usually two per adventuring day. One hour isn’t very long. Crickey, I get up from my office from work to get a cup of tea and by the time I’m back at my seat an hour has passed. Finding a definable space out of site is a form of tactics, as is making sure you have the resources to successful take that rest. Our group had no tension in using them. If they are causing tension, you probably need to examine the group social contract.

Much more could be done. Adventures in Rokugan and Adventures in Middle Earth give good examples of this in their add one. 3pp is great for pushing the boat out on this. To be honest, HD is our groups main method of healing.

On this I agree. Ditch Warlocks from the PHB.
So, other than pact magic, is 5e a perfect game to you? Do you have your own list of issues?
 

TheSword

Legend
So, other than pact magic, is 5e a perfect game to you? Do you have your own list of issues?
Sure. I do. I just don’t think those things are fundamentally broken. They can improved, but each of those things was a positive addition to D&D.

I’m pretty sure I posted this in one of the many threads but…

  • Magic item assignment/purchasing/values.
  • Creatures (and PCs) being massive sacks of HP
  • Dropping to zero hp has no cost
  • Shield spell is broken when taken by high AC characters
  • Crits should be more interesting
  • Some feats are unbalanced (polearm master, lucky, GWM, Sharp shooter etc)
  • Warlocks suck. (I’m not saying they’re weak, just that I don’t like them)
  • Monk isn’t strong enough.
 

shrug

The system is made up of modules, and the math deals very well with them being plugged in and out. And homebrewed or third party modules work well, too!

They didn't go for delivering a wide swathe of Edition specific modules, which is an idea they briefly floated...but seemed to abandon when they started gathering data. Doubt that is a coincidence.
The rushed and poorly-written DMG, which was supposed to provide most of the modularity is pretty clear evidence that they never took the modularity terribly seriously. Or at least delayed taking it seriously until it was too late.

I mean, it's clear that almost none of the modular/optional/variant stuff suggested in the 5E DMG is remotely playtested, much of it is just plain unfinished and is just waffle about what people "could" do, instead of presenting a modular option (some of it isn't even called out, you have to trudge through text and happen to find it, and it's hard to find again), and where there are modular options, they're often ill-considered and clearly don't represent what people actually want from modular options (hence so few of them being used "as is" - whereas in other games that succeed at modularity and take it seriously you see the opposite). The insanity module doesn't even do what it claims it does - the maths is all wrong (as discussed at vast length elsewhere)!

It's sad because you are right about one thing - aside from combat (where the math and class design interact too tightly to allow it), 5E has strong potential for modularity. It's easy to imagine a DMG that did a vastly better job.

This is all fixable in One D&D's new DMG of course. It wouldn't even be hard. So there's hope.

(That said, I think it's equally possible One D&D will go away from modularity and towards a more unified vision that's even easier for WotC to design and balance around.)
 

Sure. I do. I just don’t think those things are fundamentally broken. They can improved, but each of those things was a positive addition to D&D.

I’m pretty sure I posted this in one of the many threads but…

  • Magic item assignment/purchasing/values.
  • Creatures (and PCs) being massive sacks of HP
  • Dropping to zero hp has no cost
  • Shield spell is broken when taken by high AC characters
  • Crits should be more interesting
  • Some feats are unbalanced (polearm master, lucky, GWM, Sharp shooter etc)
  • Warlocks suck. (I’m not saying they’re weak, just that I don’t like them)
  • Monk isn’t strong enough.
Whilst the Warlock one is a misfit because it's taste/aesthetics whereas the rest are actual mechanical issues of various kinds, it'd be pretty easy to fix a lot of the rest, except the "sacks of HP one", sadly.

Sacks of HP would be easy to fix with an incompatible edition. Just have PCs start with about as many HP as L3 (by whatever mathematical trick), and then kill the assumption that you gain an HD every level, instead have some sort of deal where either you gain HD every other level, or you gain them every level up to L9 or something then it goes to "every other" or otherwise stops increasing so fast. At the same time, slash the amount of HP monsters have by an appropriate amount, which is going to be pretty large.

But sadly that requires incompatibility.

For the rest:

Magic items - Easy, just give us numbers!
Zero HP - Easy, loads of RPGs offer solutions. Some variant of what Worlds Without Number does might work.
Shield spell - Honestly remove it as a spell and make it a class feature for Wizard (and maaaaaybe others). And not a level 1 feature! It's not actually iconic outside D&D nerds, helpfully (unlike Fireball, say).
Crits - Loads of things you could do. Bring back multipliers for PC weapons or have a crit always be maximized + 1 die etc.
Feats - Fix 'em.
Monks - Fix 'em.
 

Eric V

Hero
For as often as people online complain about the ranger, I have NEVER had someone in a real game complain and I almost always have at least one in the party. It's a meme, not a real problem.
It's a real problem. I have been in 3 different 5e campaigns with a ranger and the nicest thing I heard about the class from the players is "Eh, it's kinda disappointing. Oh, well."
 


Horwath

Hero
Yeah exactly just go back to 4E's Fort/Ref/Will, which were respectively best of STR or CON, DEX or INT, and WIS or CHA. That would genuinely be a straight-up improvement to D&D. The whole "simplification" aspect of not having "derived" saves was destroyed by also making those saves have proficiency or not and there being twice as many of them!
I would put both abilities in calculations.

FORT: str+con
REF: dex+int
WILL: wis+cha

every class gets one proficiency

this would give every ability value in saves, it would give more chance to increase saves through ASI's and would reward point buy with lower abilities.

with +1/+1/+1 and one set of 15,15,15,8,8,8 and other of 13,13,13,12,12,12 would give

16,16,16,8,8,8, total modifiers of 6. average +2 per save
14,14,14,12,12,12, total modifiers of 9. average +3 per save
 

Horwath

Hero
  • Some feats are unbalanced (polearm master, lucky, GWM, Sharp shooter etc...
I would agree that they are unbalanced, but only towards some feats that are bad.
When you compare them to +2 to your primary ability they are balanced, or just slightly under +2
 

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