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D&D (2024) Postmortem: 10 Ideas in 5e that didn't quite work...

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 actually is a real problem, and I have seen people complain in a real game. Claiming it's a meme is just incorrect.

The difference between online and offline complaining though is that most people offline aren't sitting around analyzing the class and that most people offline don't want to whinge/draw attention.

This isn't just true in 5E, or just in D&D, it's true in all TTRPGs, all editions of D&D.

Most players whose characters aren't very fun or effective just suffer in silence. What you see when their class is improved or whatever, though, is suddenly they're having a lot more fun and are more engaged with whatever area of the game their class was improved in. A smaller number do say things like "I wish my character was as good as X character" or express similar frustrations, but usually very briefly. Only a tiny number of relatively "serious" players actually work out exactly why their character sucks. Also a lot of those more serious players? They know which classes are weaker, and they just don't play them! How they gonna complain about a class they don't play? You don't complain about other people's characters!

Only when something is a truly amazingly awful situation like LFQW do complaints come to the fore from more "normal" players. And remember how loads of people used to say "LFQW isn't real!" or "I play at a table with martials and casters and no-one has a problem with LFQW!"? Even though it was obviously nonsense (and a lot of the time if you questioned people about it, it turned out they didn't actually have any martials, but they used to (funny that!), or they were playing only levels 1-5 or the like).
 

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Staffan

Legend
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.

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.
Completely agree on these ones. I want 4e-style short rests and healing. Healers should be useful for in-combat healing, but not necessary for adventuring. And I've ranted numerous times about how hit dice might seem like healing surges, but can't be used in the same way because instead of having a fixed number of heals that scale with level, you have a level-based number of heals with a fixed power. That means that an ability like "spend a hit die to X" doesn't work the same way as "spend a healing surge to X".

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.
D&D's schools are bad, have always been bad, and should feel bad.
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.
At least for me, the thing I want is not a "melee wizard". I want a frickin' swordmage, who uses magic as part of their fighting style. Spells like lightning lure is a good start, but should have a much longer range (if you look at the range and wonder "but why can't I just walk up to them and hit them instead?", it's too short). I want something that looks and feels like a World of Warcraft Death Knight or Enhancement Shaman.

I don't need fireball, I need a spell that teleports me into the middle of a horde of foes with a mighty explosion that deals some damage and knocks people over, and then lets me make an attack on everyone nearby. I want to charge my weapon with frost so that when I strike my foe, I will freeze their feet to the ground so they can't escape.
 


Branduil

Hero
Surprised no one has mentioned Saving Throws. Going from 3 saving throws to 6, 1 per ability, felt like an answer in search of a question. It immediately and pointlessly introduced the problem of 3 of the saves barely ever appearing. And then we get to the even bigger problem, which is that the proficiency system and "bounded accuracy" are broken by the ability to target spells towards non-proficient saves. If they want to keep the save system as is, there's a pretty basic solution: all PCs are proficient in EVERY save. Class Proficiencies in those saving throws are now Expertise. This preserves the spirit of the concept, which is that high-level characters should be REALLY good at what they're good at. High-level Rogues should make basically every Dexterity save. Granting proficiency in every save also gives much more freedom to designers to target spells at a variety of abilities without making too many guaranteed-fail saves because the Fighter didn't spend all his feats on saving throws.
 

I dunno. When even the game itself struggles to find use for Str saves (Web? no, that's Ref save, then a Str check, not a save), Int saves (Maze? no that's not a save, it's an Int check you make as an action) and Cha saves (this is the most random one as 'sense of self' overlaps with Wis save so much, it's usually just Wis save)... surely it's much easier to just cut those out.
 

I dunno. When even the game itself struggles to find use for Str saves (Web? no, that's Ref save, then a Str check, not a save), Int saves (Maze? no that's not a save, it's an Int check you make as an action) and Cha saves (this is the most random one as 'sense of self' overlaps with Wis save so much, it's usually just Wis save)... surely it's much easier to just cut those out.
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!
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
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!
The only reason I dont like this is basically everybody has the same strengths and weaknesses. It just changes based on class you pick. Might as well divorce it from stats and just make it entirely class based.
 

Branduil

Hero
The only reason I dont like this is basically everybody has the same strengths and weaknesses. It just changes based on class you pick. Might as well divorce it from stats and just make it entirely class based.
I guess I don't see how that's different from the current system? There's a little variation, but if you're playing a specific class, you have 2 save proficiencies, and your stats are going to be fairly similar to everyone else who plays that class.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Completely agree on these ones. I want 4e-style short rests and healing. Healers should be useful for in-combat healing, but not necessary for adventuring. And I've ranted numerous times about how hit dice might seem like healing surges, but can't be used in the same way because instead of having a fixed number of heals that scale with level, you have a level-based number of heals with a fixed power. That means that an ability like "spend a hit die to X" doesn't work the same way as "spend a healing surge to X".


D&D's schools are bad, have always been bad, and should feel bad.

At least for me, the thing I want is not a "melee wizard". I want a frickin' swordmage, who uses magic as part of their fighting style. Spells like lightning lure is a good start, but should have a much longer range (if you look at the range and wonder "but why can't I just walk up to them and hit them instead?", it's too short). I want something that looks and feels like a World of Warcraft Death Knight or Enhancement Shaman.

I don't need fireball, I need a spell that teleports me into the middle of a horde of foes with a mighty explosion that deals some damage and knocks people over, and then lets me make an attack on everyone nearby. I want to charge my weapon with frost so that when I strike my foe, I will freeze their feet to the ground so they can't escape.
It’s really odd, to me, that none of the weapon based spells like Wrathful Smite or Ensaring Strike are just an action that an attack is part of, that also does a big magic thing. Like…why are no leveled spells built like the cantrips?
 


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