D&D 5E Q&A 10/17/13 - Crits, Damage on Miss, Wildshape

There is this deep seated belief, for better or worse, that if there aren't any rules for a piece of world-building, then that piece of world-building doesn't matter, or doesn't exist. I think this is true ever since each edition of D&D clarified more and more about simulating a D&D setting, as if there was a continuous demand since 1e to know more what is 'true' in the game setting.

I think the inverse is also true. There is also a large segment of the gaming populace that wants abstract conflict resolution over procedural task resolution and they want a robust, abstract design that handles (virtually) all cases (with exceptions requiring ruling backed by clear, transparent guidance) rather than a granular approach replete with multiple caveats and canvassed corner cases.

Dungeon World's very basic resolution scheme and Druid mechanics certainly don't make you feel that things off-screen don't exist and that you cannot interact with the world in the way that a standard D&D Druid would (up to and including flying as a bird). Its just a very different mindset.

These two ethoi are just directly at odds with one another. Unsurprisingly this is why I've maintained extreme skepticism at the "big tent" idea at the core of 5e! I think you can see that play out pretty well here on a day to day basis.
 

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urLordy

First Post
I think the inverse is also true.
That's true, I was overly generalizing, but that was in context to the previous post(s). Like you say, there is a schism that can't be denied. I don't know Dungeon World, so I couldn't comment. But how about the gamist concerns too? If you don't have rules for a druid in bird shape other than flying from A to B, and it's left to the game table, and the druid dominates certain exploration quests, that wouldn't be a problem only if D&D wasn't focused on balance and/or the gaming table accepts the burden of learning it the hard way. It's not like that with basketweaving -- if you don't have basketweaving rules, nobody worries about one player stealing the spotight during the basketweaving contests and crafting down-time.

BTW, I'm not happy about complicated rules either. If there was one section in the PHB about creatures assuming different shapes, and this was referenced consistently regardless of wildshape or alter self or shape change or whatever, and then balance the game at that level, instead of individually balancing each class or spell ability and having to reference each spell description to remember the fantasy physics of it each ability, I think that would be simple and effect, but I don't know if that's doable.
 
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Ratskinner

Adventurer
They're not. There is this deep seated belief, for better or worse, that if there aren't any rules for a piece of world-building, then that piece of world-building doesn't matter, or doesn't exist. I think this is true ever since each edition of D&D clarified more and more about simulating a D&D setting, as if there was a continuous demand since 1e to know more what is 'true' in the game setting.

I don't think its quite as dire as that, if I may be quibbleriferous. I think its more a matter of habit, and in this case, tradition and playstyle than a matter of "belief".* Its not that there aren't any rules for this piece of world-building, they're just constructed differently. The Druid class description might include a list of available effects and advice on using the Druid's Shapeshifting key/vector/tag to gain access to them. The effects would contain all you need to know mechanically for any form the Druid might choose, but whether you choose to use the "push" power in the form of a Bull or a Ram or a Storm of Butterflies is up to you (or at least could be, depending on how the tag is written). Under such a system "What you can do in bird form." Depends on the effect you choose, and which effects you have access to. So, for example, if you want to fly, you'd need to use the fly effect. If you wanted to used the bird form to swoop in and attack something, you'd use...heck maybe even the blast effect I mentioned above. Its still very predictable (perhaps even more so) than D&D's traditional way of doing things. What it isn't (and I think I agree with you here) is very intuitive. IME, newbies seem to easily grasp mechanics that correspond to in-fiction events and abilities either very closely or very abstractly, but the middle ground is terrain that only veterans grasp reasonably well. (I will be happy to hear stories otherwise, middle ground "effects-based" systems like the one I'm describing are not my preferred turf, so I can't say that IME, I have a lot of E. :) )


*I say that concerning the general audience for D&D. There are certainly plenty of folks who have staked out edition war positions that they now reflexively defend. I believe that this is actually a relatively small part of the D&D audience, who's presence appears much greater in online forums. Whether those people still remain a potential audience for 5e or not, I dunno.
 

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