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

TheSword

Legend
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."
I’m surprised. I love the ranger (granted not the beast master).

Four attacks at 5th level in relatively common circumstances and two weapons is pretty cool. The spells are a nice addition - particularly hunters mark and zephyr strike. Canny makes them a proper skill monkey, and they can easily be Dex based, which is the best stat.

I’m experimenting with a current character which multi classes with cleric but only for high levels.

Favoured enemy still needs sorting as the Tasha’s version still conflicts with too many things but it’s not a major problem.
 

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Remathilis

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. 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.


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.


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 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.

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.
Well, I assumed I wasn't speaking universal truth, but there are more than a few other people who agree.

The issue wasn't that these things didn't work, it's that they didn't work quite like WotC probably wanted them to. As evidence, most of your suggestions involved having the DM go in a fix them. A DM CAN go in and make sure his game carefully centers around a PCs background features, meticulously memorize their BIFTs, and secretly make every one of their trinkets an integral part of the narrative. OR they can buy Wilds Beyond the Witchlight and run a game where none of that stuff matters and nobody is the worse for it. Which to me says WotC didn't know how to design around those elements, and if the designers fumble with making background features or trinkets interesting, you can't expect a DM to come in a save them.

Which is why I don't propose removing any of them (well, maybe pact magic, but I'm open to seeing what can be done with it) but instead seeing what WotC can do to make them more relevant. Background features becoming level 1 feats is a good first step. Inspiration on a natural 20 is another. Both fix problems with them being difficult to use or design for. I think BIFTs will probably be turned into a more generic role-playing section rather than be tied to background. I think psionics could use more spells and subclasses (especially a caster one without tentacles) I think they could have added more options for rule options. I don't think that's a big ask.
 

Stalker0

Legend
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
The issue with this is it creates an even wider array of saves than you have now, and people already complain about the wide range.

At 20th level you could have a class with a +16 in one save (+20 for barbs) and a -1 in the next.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The issue with this is it creates an even wider array of saves than you have now, and people already complain about the wide range.

At 20th level you could have a class with a +16 in one save (+20 for barbs) and a -1 in the next.
That would be a feature rather than a bug.

Characters need to have weaknesses as well as strengths, at any level, in order that they may sometimes feel a bit threatened or vulnerable and need to rely on their fellow party members to cover for them and-or bail them out.
 

kunadam

Explorer
I frankly does not like the idea of removing the short rest. I would remove the long one (8 hours).
Long rests based features are prone to invoke the 5 minute workday effect.
So why not have encounter based and "act" based features. There is a set of stuffs you know you can use every encounter, no matter if there are 2 minutes, hours or days between them. Act is like the siege at the beginning of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Then there is less argument about if the party could sit for an hour or even 8. If it is one act, they you can sit as much as you want, but that does not recharge any of the act based abilities.
 

payn

Legend
I frankly does not like the idea of removing the short rest. I would remove the long one (8 hours).
Long rests based features are prone to invoke the 5 minute workday effect.
So why not have encounter based and "act" based features. There is a set of stuffs you know you can use every encounter, no matter if there are 2 minutes, hours or days between them. Act is like the siege at the beginning of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Then there is less argument about if the party could sit for an hour or even 8. If it is one act, they you can sit as much as you want, but that does not recharge any of the act based abilities.
Thats is how PF2 works (though they try really hard to hide it).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I frankly does not like the idea of removing the short rest. I would remove the long one (8 hours).
Long rests based features are prone to invoke the 5 minute workday effect.
So why not have encounter based and "act" based features. There is a set of stuffs you know you can use every encounter, no matter if there are 2 minutes, hours or days between them. Act is like the siege at the beginning of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Then there is less argument about if the party could sit for an hour or even 8. If it is one act, they you can sit as much as you want, but that does not recharge any of the act based abilities.
And how do you define when an act has begun and-or ended?

This has always been my issue with encounter-based design: in many cases sure, it's easy to tell when an encounter begins and ends. But in many other cases it isn't. Is sneaking into the castle all one encounter or it is broken down into sub-encounters e.g. climbing the wall, sneaking past the guards, picking the door to the treasury, etc.? Is encounter defined universally or is it subjective to the character? (example: party is in a fight in one room [encounter A] meanwhile a PC sneaks away from that fight and finds trouble in another room - is that still encounter A or a separate encounter B; and how is it defined if-when the other PCs come to bail out the sneaker?)

Using in-game time as the delimiter gives everything a consistent foundation, assuming the DM keeps track of in-game time (and what DM doesn't?). Forcing the party to take actual breaks (i.e. in the fiction, resting for a while) also acts as a clear delimiter.
 

Aldarc

Legend
And how do you define when an act has begun and-or ended?
Encounters are more analogous to scenes. Scenes are tied to a specific location and time. If you change either of these things, then you have a new scene. A series of connected scenes form a sequence. For example, the opening of Indiana Jones: Raids of the Lost Ark - i.e., Indiana Jones infiltrating and exfiltrating the ruins - is a series of connected scenes that forms the opening sequence.
 

Stalker0

Legend
That would be a feature rather than a bug.

Characters need to have weaknesses as well as strengths, at any level, in order that they may sometimes feel a bit threatened or vulnerable and need to rely on their fellow party members to cover for them and-or bail them out.
It means that for any set dc, if I choose spell X it’s nigh guaranteed to fail, but if I pick spell Y it’s nigh guaranteed to succeed. That’s probably a bit much.
 

kunadam

Explorer
And how do you define when an act has begun and-or ended?

This has always been my issue with encounter-based design: in many cases sure, it's easy to tell when an encounter begins and ends. But in many other cases it isn't. Is sneaking into the castle all one encounter or it is broken down into sub-encounters e.g. climbing the wall, sneaking past the guards, picking the door to the treasury, etc.? Is encounter defined universally or is it subjective to the character? (example: party is in a fight in one room [encounter A] meanwhile a PC sneaks away from that fight and finds trouble in another room - is that still encounter A or a separate encounter B; and how is it defined if-when the other PCs come to bail out the sneaker?)
Alderac said it more elegantly.
The DM has the script, so the DM knows what is an encounter and what is an act (sequence). So the DM can design these knowing what the players have as resources to them. And the DM can also just tell the party, that today session will be one act, or part of one. And then players can prepare accordingly. I know that there is a lot of meta in this.
But stopping for exactly one hour after a fight, or looking for place to sleep after some major battles is also meta.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Alderac said it more elegantly.
The DM has the script, so the DM knows what is an encounter and what is an act (sequence). So the DM can design these knowing what the players have as resources to them. And the DM can also just tell the party, that today session will be one act, or part of one. And then players can prepare accordingly. I know that there is a lot of meta in this.
But stopping for exactly one hour after a fight, or looking for place to sleep after some major battles is also meta.
Stopping for exactly one hour is meta but stopping for long enough to catch one's breath, grab some water and a snack, do some minor patching-up and equipment repair, talk about what just happened and what comes next, and so forth all makes perfect sense in the fiction and thus isn't very meta.

Wanting to sack out for the night after getting beaten around also makes perfect in-fiction sense. The five-minute workday, for all that people rail against it, also makes in-fiction sense as it's what cautious self-preserving characters would reasonably try to do - which is why you won't hear me complain about it.
 

kunadam

Explorer
Stopping for exactly one hour is meta but stopping for long enough to catch one's breath, grab some water and a snack, do some minor patching-up and equipment repair, talk about what just happened and what comes next, and so forth all makes perfect sense in the fiction and thus isn't very meta.

Wanting to sack out for the night after getting beaten around also makes perfect in-fiction sense. The five-minute workday, for all that people rail against it, also makes in-fiction sense as it's what cautious self-preserving characters would reasonably try to do - which is why you won't hear me complain about it.
But what if that only takes 30 minutes? My problem is not with how the DM presents a short rest, but why stick with a predefined duration?
I have seen "gritty" house rules that extend short rest to 8 hours, and long rest to a week. But that just makes the story slower (the in-game story, not the game) as the party should at all cost avoid more than one combat a day, and preferably one a week.
And another option of self preservation is to flee. If the party cannot do it with the resources at hand, then retreat, give up.
For me as a DM it would make perfect sense to allow the party to have 2 combats in a day, if that makes sense, where they can play all-in and use their potential to full. But with the rules as written, they would need a long rest for 8 hours.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But what if that only takes 30 minutes? My problem is not with how the DM presents a short rest, but why stick with a predefined duration?
I have seen "gritty" house rules that extend short rest to 8 hours, and long rest to a week. But that just makes the story slower (the in-game story, not the game) as the party should at all cost avoid more than one combat a day, and preferably one a week.
There's a pretty good argument to be made for making things take longer in-game in general so as to prevent a character going from 1st to 20th level in less than a year or two of game time, but that's a different issue. Long-rest taking a week is overkill for ability reload but IMO some injuries should certainly hang around that long, forcing the party into a choice as to whether to risk waiting for everyoe to fully recover or to press on even though someone (or maybe several someones) are still hurting.
And another option of self preservation is to flee. If the party cannot do it with the resources at hand, then retreat, give up.
Indeed; and at both our tables this may well be the case. But more and more I wonder if we are outliers in this; and whether retreat at most tables is simply not considered as an option.
For me as a DM it would make perfect sense to allow the party to have 2 combats in a day, if that makes sense, where they can play all-in and use their potential to full. But with the rules as written, they would need a long rest for 8 hours.
Then let 'em rest for 8 hours if the fictional elements allow for such. That said, the way I do it the "long rest" also has to include what would usually be considered overnight sleep thus can only be done once a day, meaning often times they'll sack out from about noon one day to the morning of the next. I'm fine with this for several reasons: either the rest-time goes by in a snap but the greater world has that chance to advance itself, or they get attacked by patrols or wandering monsters, or (best of all!) the characters get bored and do something rash.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I think the issue with Psionics is, you can't design it for people who "don't want Psionics".

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.
See, in 4e, the traditional half-casters were fully integrated mesh between martial and magical (see Paladin, Seeker, Artificer, Bard, Assassin) or else made a choice and were completely unintegrated (Ranger). Later on in Essentials, they backtracked that and did mixed-power source classes (Cavalier, Scout, Hunter, Blackguard, Skald, Berserker, etc), and 5e returns to half-caster progressions like 3e had (though not for Bard, who got to stay fully magical).

A lot of people when they say they want a fully integrated class in 5e, what they mean is that they want an Eldritch Knight with Bladesinger spell progression, which is broken for the balance of 5e. It worked in 2008 4e because everyone had comparable AEDU power progression. But in 5e, extra attack and fighting styles and martial weapon and heavy armour profs are balanced against higher level spell access (or at least are supposed to be). The system is built toward Gishes being half-casters, or else being full casters that aren't nearly as martial as people are asking for (Hexblade, Valour Bard, Swords Bard, Sorcadin, War/Life/Nature/Tempest/Trickery/Death/Order Cleric, etc).

The only class that truly is comparable to Paladin and Ranger here is Artificer, and Swordmage fans are frustrated because (1) the very clearly swordmage-esque subclass is locked behind setting-creator hellcow's best-selling homebrew Exploring Eberron and not technically canon; (2) the "canon" warrior Artificer subclasses are Sword and Board and Doggo, or else Iron Man (neither of which is teleporting magic aegis swordmage); (3) the base class isn't designed as a martialist by default and people don't realise the swordmage is hidden inside of the Artificer; (4) Artificers get cantrips by default instead of requiring a fighting style choice to access them.

The Artificer very clearly has a class narrative that defines the gish in a way that doesn't step on the toes of Bladesinger, War Mage, or Eldritch Knight, and yet still is an Arcane Warrior (Magitech Warrior, specifically), but I'm willing to bet that if the Battlesmith and Forge Adept and Armourer were pulled out and made their own class, with cantrips as an opt-in Arcane Warrior fighting style instead of by default, people would be less bothered by the "lack of a true gish class".
 


Remathilis

Legend
8 encounters per day.
Yeah, the encounter creation system is fine if you run multi room dungeons where you can squeeze in several weak monsters, traps and hazards before fighting a boss monster, but it doesn't work on almost every other style of play besides that.
 


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