D&D General Rant: Sometimes I Hate the D&D Community

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I recently joined a 5e game. As part of actually trying to grock this thing 5e) I have been reading the threads about 5e rules. (Yes, I've also been reading the rules.) From reading of the threads I have to ask, does anyone playing 5e actually like it as a system?

Many posters here wax lyrical and lovingly about favourite campaign settings, lineages, classes, and of course the great moments in their games. But very few posters speak kindly of the actual system.

Am I wrong in this supposition?
There are definitely people who like it as a system. I am one of them. It is, by far, my favorite edition of D&D. That doesn't mean there aren't quirks here and there that could stand improvement, but I've really been enjoying the relative ease of play compared to the 3e family and 4e.

And, yes, that also includes playing/running Adventurer's League at conventions where I have never had a problem with people having to run to event organizers or search the web for rule clarifications.
 

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payn

Legend
I wonder if part of the reason people with such different rules likings "pinch their nose and go with it" as you say is the all-pervasive presence of 5e in the gaming community. In short, almost everybody wants to play "the world's greatest role-playing game", and very few comparatively want to play anything else. You make it work because everyone wants to play 5e.
Well, I'd also say they made learning/playing D&D 5E easier than in the past, so its made this more of a thing. D&D has a strong pull and likely always will, but I find the likelihood of trying other games resting on the shoulders of GMs. In my group, we never moved on to 4E because the GM types were the first to learn and pass on the game. We didn't do that because the GMs didn't want to play it. The players didnt have a strong enough desire to learn and run on their own. So, stay with 3E was what happened (and eventual move to PF1).

As a GM and player with a ton of interest in a variety of games, I still look at who is pitching the game. If I know the GM is strong in both rules knowledge and creating a great experience I'll go along with anything. I mean, it would be oddly specific to make an Airwolf the RPG but if certain GMs I know ask me to try it out, I will. It also works the other way, if the GM doesn't know their stuff or cant produce a good experience, I'll pass. 5E seems to be the easiest point of entry for middling to lower experienced GMs, which is another point in its favor.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
There are definitely people who like it as a system. I am one of them. It is, by far, my favorite edition of D&D. That doesn't mean there aren't quirks here and there that could stand improvement, but I've really been enjoying the relative ease of play compared to the 3e family and 4e.

And, yes, that also includes playing/running Adventurer's League at conventions where I have never had a problem with people having to run to event organizers or search the web for rule clarifications.
You have no idea how much I envy people who are like "what, I never had these problems at all!". What did I do in a past life to deserve this kind of abuse?

I'm probably the reincarnation of some annoying two-bit villain that refused to die once the dashing heroes showed up to foil his schemes. Like Bargle.
 

I love 5e! It is an edition that generally works as intended, and that can be fairly easily tuned to reflect individual group’s preferences.

People complain about vague rules and “rulings not rules” ethos, but highly detailed technically written rules are just not engaging to many new players, and increase the learning curve when starting the game.

If the goal of your system is to be broadly acceptable to the fans of each of the wildly different playstyles, of course it’s not going to be anyone’s favorite. You just can’t square the circle between:
  • low-magic game where several members of the party don’t have magic items and parties where everyone has +3 swords and +3 armor;
  • games in which supplies, shelter and water is handwaved and games where Goodberry breaks the campaign;
  • games where the most optimized character(s) have a 16 in their main stat, and a game where the DM has to be creative to challenge the players because each character is optimized to the fullest.
  • games where “rule of cool” consistently supersedes mechanics and games and games where RAW is adhered to even if it doesn’t make narrative sense;
  • games in which the most-proactive character is the one who decides to go to a shop to buy some flasks of oil before entering the dungeon and groups where the least pro-active character is running a thieves’ guild that provides him information about the city.

I admit that I find it a bit frustrating when people argue that highly technical interpretations of the rules need to be clarified, when such clarifications would make reading the PHB more cumbersome, and address an issue that matters to a minority of players.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
I ran into a lot of this too in Pathfinder Society. Organized games kinda need that structure for consistency, which makes sense. However, there are a legion of players out there that take advantage of it and it gets constraining for a GM and is annoyingly charop driven. You really have to change your expectations of what a game is and how it will be played whenever you go organized, IME.
This is my experience of PF organised play as well. My wife and I stuck it out for a bit. There were some nice folks in the local PF society. And it's been just about the only time we've gotten to be on the same side of the GM screen at the same time. But the style of game just left us both cold. No one's fault, it's just the sort of style required for organised play.

I wonder if part of the reason people with such different rules likings "pinch their nose and go with it" as you say is the all-pervasive presence of 5e in the gaming community. In short, almost everybody wants to play "the world's greatest role-playing game", and very few comparatively want to play anything else. You make it work because everyone wants to play 5e.

Yeah, I won't lie. This sums up why I'm playing it.
 

payn

Legend
This is my experience of PF organised play as well. My wife and I stuck it out for a bit. There were some nice folks in the local PF society. And it's been just about the only time we've gotten to be on the same side of the GM screen at the same time. But the style of game just left us both cold. No one's fault, it's just the sort of style required for organised play.
Its my second favorite way to play! ;)
 

I recently joined a 5e game. As part of actually trying to grock this thing 5e) I have been reading the threads about 5e rules. (Yes, I've also been reading the rules.) From reading of the threads I have to ask, does anyone playing 5e actually like it as a system?

Many posters here wax lyrical and lovingly about favourite campaign settings, lineages, classes, and of course the great moments in their games. But very few posters speak kindly of the actual system.

Am I wrong in this supposition?

A vast majority of people who play 5e like the system. It's the longest-lived version of D&D in history, and is the version that brought D&D back to being a popular brand rather than a niche hobby. The fact that there are more people playing D&D than there have been in 3-4 decades means you get not only the most happy customers, but also the most complainers. And the internet means that you hear the loudest voices.

The fact that you hear people talk more about their favorite characters and games is a sign that the version is successful, and is a tribute to how much people love it. It means that the rules are the means rather than the end. If you asked someone about their favorite book, do you expect them to tell you about a story and characters, or do you expect them to discuss the printing and binding?
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
It's the longest-lived version of D&D in history,
I did not know that.

L
If you asked someone about their favorite book, do you expect them to tell you about a story and characters, or do you expect them to discuss the printing and binding?
Talk of book binding does bring to mind the 1e Unearthed Arcana. 😉

But seriously. To me system is important. I need certain things from a system to enjoy the game. Not to say I can't enjoy aspects of RPGing that are system neutral, eg. good role play, rolling a good result at a crucial point in the narrative, cracking terrible jokes with mates. But I do need a system that works for me. Exactly what "works for me" would be a mid sized essay and I'll spare everyone that.
 

Oofta

Legend
I did not know that.


Talk of book binding does bring to mind the 1e Unearthed Arcana. 😉

But seriously. To me system is important. I need certain things from a system to enjoy the game. Not to say I can't enjoy aspects of RPGing that are system neutral, eg. good role play, rolling a good result at a crucial point in the narrative, cracking terrible jokes with mates. But I do need a system that works for me. Exactly what "works for me" would be a mid sized essay and I'll spare everyone that.
There are certainly games that are more focused. For example D&D probably isn't the best game for eldritch or Gothic horror. On the other hand you can do those and several other genres reasonably well (at least in small bites) while many other games are very focused on specific niches. There's pluses and minuses to both approaches. D&D works for me because in a single campaign I may bounce between styles of play depending on what direction we take. That, and I sometimes prefer tailoring what I'm doing to the situation instead of having to follow a strict set of rules. YMMV of course.
 

I was thinking of loosely categorizing complaints I see about 5e based on what a person's actual favorite edition was

CR doesn't work, monsters are boring (4e): At this point we can say that there isn't much of a point to using CR in 5e except as a very rough guideline. Combat is very hard to balance in 5e and increasingly difficult at higher levels: either it's a cakewalk or a tpk and/or the DM has to fudge rolls and adjust things on the fly. I think this group of players is attracted to the "combat as sport" tactical aspect of the game, and DMs want to authentically play the opposition in a way that 'automatically' provides a genuine challenge but is not unfair.

Not enough character options, no magic item economy (3e): 5e has intentionally sought to release very few sourcebooks, and moreover the sourcebooks only reference the core rules, not each other. These players seemed to like depth and customization of both character options but also specific kinds of subsystems like crafting.

Both of the above categories of players are annoyed by "rulings not rules." They want more options and support, and a robust, balanced system where both players and DM can at least mildly optimize encounters without anything "breaking."

The lore of 5e should be more internally consistent and consistent with other editions. There's also not enough of it: we need detailed settings and supplement books that reference each other (2e): 5e has taken a light touch when it comes to lore. Not only have they said that 5e is explicitly not consistent with lore in other editions, but they have released very few classic settings and have even focused most of their FR material on the sword coast. Due to popular demand, they've started to change that, but even there they keep a light touch; they are seemingly aiming to evoke the feel of the earlier setting but not the copious detail, and they make some changes that core fans of those settings have complained about. A subset of this group is upset about the way inherent evil is depicted in the game (via alignment, monster lore, etc).

5e is in fact too ornate and complicated. It should be even simpler and able to be presented in one core rule book. Instead of rules, the game should provide procedures for dungeon-, hex-, city-, point-, and other -crawls (Basic/Rules Cyclopedia/OSR). I'm not sure Basic dnd was anyone's favorite edition prior to the OSR. In any case, this group is all about "rulings not rules," except that 5e provides too many rules and too much exception based design to make this a reality.

Gygax was a wargamer, and his style of play was competitive (between dm and player, and between groups of players at open tables). Also Critical Role sucks (1e). Ok, that last part is a bit unfair. But I think the trick here is to look at the 1e DMG as an obtuse key that unlocks the secrets of the game. These players are very committed to the sandbox aspect of the game as well as an Appendix-N setting base, and thus see the adventure path format and heroic fantasy as an anathema, from the Dragonlance adventures onward. They vocally dislike the aesthetic and ethos of "original character" style play, e.g. extensive backstories, hanging out in character doing non-game related things, the idea of narrative arcs.

Ok so in this game you roll a d20 and try to roll high, and the dm tells you what happens. Seems like a perfectly sensible game. What's the problem? (OD&D). Playing dnd is about throwing out 95% of the rules, and you can do that as easily in 5e as with any other edition. ;)

Thus concludes my TED talk.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
A vast majority of people who play 5e like the system. It's the longest-lived version of D&D in history, and is the version that brought D&D back to being a popular brand rather than a niche hobby. The fact that there are more people playing D&D than there have been in 3-4 decades means you get not only the most happy customers, but also the most complainers. And the internet means that you hear the loudest voices.

I agree with everything you wrote, but I might quibble with the bolded part.

5e is from 2014 through today (2022). That's nine years.

AD&D (1e) existed was published from 197x - 1989. If we go by the date of the PHB, it's 1978-89. That's twelve (12) years. Even if we use the DMG date, that's 11 years.

So 1e is still the longest. It's an interesting question, to me, how people count editions, as well. I tend to think of all the TSR-era D&D as approximately the same edition, even though we divide it into 1e and 2e.
 

I agree with everything you wrote, but I might quibble with the bolded part.

5e is from 2014 through today (2022). That's nine years.

AD&D (1e) existed was published from 197x - 1989. If we go by the date of the PHB, it's 1978-89. That's twelve (12) years. Even if we use the DMG date, that's 11 years.

So 1e is still the longest. It's an interesting question, to me, how people count editions, as well. I tend to think of all the TSR-era D&D as approximately the same edition, even though we divide it into 1e and 2e.

That's very fair. In my defense, I did absolutely no research before making that statement. For some reason I had it in my head that 5e overtook 1e this year. How we count exact age of editions is definitely up for debate.

I always had in my head that AD&D 1e had a run of less than 10 years. I think this belief comes from the publication of the PHB in 1978 and then running until Drangonlance Adventures, being the last exclusive AD&D 1e rulebook, published in 1987. It's definitely a slippery definition, though. I was also thinking 5e was a decade old this year, but I was probably counting D&D Next from 2012, which really isn't a fair measurement.
 

carmachu

Explorer
That’s every community. Wargaming 40k community was brutal back in the day when I played

Just ignore the community when it gets crazy. It’s what I do nowadays
 

I wonder if part of the reason people with such different rules likings "pinch their nose and go with it" as you say is the all-pervasive presence of 5e in the gaming community. In short, almost everybody wants to play "the world's greatest role-playing game", and very few comparatively want to play anything else. You make it work because everyone wants to play 5e.

Well, and the people who aren't willing to do that may well be outside the whole D&D ecosystem (as for the most part I am) so they're irrelevant.
 



DrunkonDuty

he/him
There are certainly games that are more focused. For example D&D probably isn't the best game for eldritch or Gothic horror. On the other hand you can do those and several other genres reasonably well (at least in small bites) while many other games are very focused on specific niches. There's pluses and minuses to both approaches. D&D works for me because in a single campaign I may bounce between styles of play depending on what direction we take. That, and I sometimes prefer tailoring what I'm doing to the situation instead of having to follow a strict set of rules. YMMV of course.

My mileage does indeed vary. I think DnD, all editions, pretty much only does DnD well. But I get that many people happily mod it to make it do other things. And that's cool. I'm all for tinkering to get a system to do exactly what you want.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Going all the way back...
The Edition Wars are stupid.
Agreed.
Play whatever edition you like and stop caring if other people like an edition you don't.
It's really hard to listen to people crap on things you like. It's also, apparently, really hard to simply ignore things you don't like.
I don't care, and so long as you can play what you like, you shouldn't care either.
That's part of the problem. The current edition will (almost) always be the most popular. So if you don't like the current edition, you ability to play the game you like is limited.
The same applies to settings, races, classes, and so on.
Paradoxically, to me, where this comes from is people wanting to not have to fight about things. If a race or class is in the game by default, I have to fight to exclude it. Because inevitably someone will want to play that thing and I'll have to say no, argue about why, and be put in a position to decide if I want to keep this thing out of the game more than I want to bring a given player into the game. A lot of people are adverse to conflict in meatspace. They seem to be more conflict seeking in webspace.
If something changes in a new printing of the thing I like or a setting is updated in a way I don't like, I can ignore it and use the older version.
Same as above. The current edition is (almost always) the favorite and anything that's default is expected, so using an older edition reduces the player pool and changing things from the default expectations is a fight. It's much easier to have a fight in webspace than meatspace, so people bizarrely think that hashing things out online will somehow make their meatspace arguments go away, or they'll be so convincing that the devs will see and make a change. It hasn't worked yet.
I like optimizing the characters that I play. I like finding mechanical quirks that go together in interesting/unique ways and play a character competently built for combat. That doesn't mean I dislike roleplay, I love roleplay, but I also enjoy the "game" parts of the hobby as well as the other parts. My playstyle might be different from yours, and we might not be able to play at the same table because of that, but my version isn't badwrongfun and neither is yours*.
I think that's the bit that a lot of people forget. Some playstyles are simply incompatible. There's nothing wrong with any given non-abusive or non-bigoted style of play, but it's wrong to pretend that all styles or compatible. Some styles simply decrease the fun of other players who don't enjoy that style at their table. It's still not wrong, it's just wrong for a group, or wrong for a given table. Not everyone is a good fit at every table. We need to normalize that.
I'm certainly not going to demand that a setting/race/class never gets published again, or say that the game is ruined forever because of one minor change, or say that playing the game in a different way from me is objectively badwrongfun. I'm just going to continue enjoying the hobby and playing how I want to play.
What's minor to one is a fundamental and unacceptable setting alteration to another. People who are not fans of a setting have a different POV than casual fans of a setting who have a different POV than obsessive fans on that same setting. It's not about who's spent more or who has bigger...credentials, but acknowledging one's stance on the setting might be a good idea. But then, this being the internet, everyone is likely to claim being an obsessive fan of everything just to have more perceived credentials.
I'm just a guy that likes gnomes, artificers, Eberron, optimizing, and playing 5th Edition. And there's nothing wrong with that, just like there's nothing wrong with liking Kobolds, Bards, Dragonlance, prioritizing roleplay, and playing 3.5e.
I'm just the referee who loves Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, Mystara, Ravenloft, and Spelljammer...the player who loves playing dwarfs and so-callled monstrous races...and the gamer who finds hard-core optimization so off putting that I'd rather not game than have it at my table.
And the people in this hobby that non-jokingly tell people that they're wrong for liking any of that can mind their own goddamn business.
That's the trouble with an internet discussion forum. There's other people who have differing opinions.
 

edosan

Explorer
I’ve never understood why people can’t just play the game they like and let other people (and in the age of the Internet, the other people are often people they will never even encounter IRL, much less play with) play the games they like. Unfortunately there are all sorts of groups online dedicated to telling each other why everyone that plays differently than they do are Dumb And Wrong. Some people want to hate on things that are popular and some people get angry at newcomers to their beloved hobby and even others get angry at any perceived “dumbing down.”

No one is coming to confiscate your Rules Cyclopedia or copy of OSE. Live and let live. If everyone at your table is having fun, it doesn’t detract from my or anyone else’s fun.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I’ve never understood why people can’t just play the game they like and let other people (and in the age of the Internet, the other people are often people they will never even encounter IRL, much less play with) play the games they like. Unfortunately there are all sorts of groups online dedicated to telling each other why everyone that plays differently than they do are Dumb And Wrong. Some people want to hate on things that are popular and some people get angry at newcomers to their beloved hobby and even others get angry at any perceived “dumbing down.”

No one is coming to confiscate your Rules Cyclopedia or copy of OSE. Live and let live. If everyone at your table is having fun, it doesn’t detract from my or anyone else’s fun.
Sometimes though, it isn't so much a question of "play the game you like" it's a query about a specific edition that brings out the toxicity. There's a thread right now which asks what people think is wrong with 5e. I've participated in a thread about 4e and, while it's true that there are many that seem vehemently against anything 4e, there are also those who take any criticism of the edition as a personal attack.

These aren't threads saying that you're wrong to play that edition either, people just get overly worked up about their favourite edition or about the edition that they dislike. Thankfully, I've only experienced these sorts of players online.
 

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