D&D General Rules, Rules, Rules: Thoughts on the Past, Present, and Future of D&D


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Aldarc

Legend
Yeah the video is about more than rules, so maybe exceeds the discussion here. There are some other points that make 5e hard to run, for example, scenario design and play culture. The former has been a problem since 2e, namely that a game focused around location-crawls was being used to present event-based scenarios, which is possible to do depending on the scenario but takes some additional guidance. The latter is an extension of the Matt Mercer effect, in the sense that the DM has to be both hyper-organized, charismatic, and good at creating plots that interweave PC backstories but are still open-ended. And, most confoundingly of all, the idea that the DM would be in charge of scheduling!
This whole "DM empowerment" thing that WotC was catering to with 5e may have actually made DMing more difficult and contributed to the dearth of DMs.

Almost like making all the math sad and flat causes all kinds of weirdness around this game where you and your foes are supposed to get more powerful as you level.
Bounded Accuracy doesn't seem all that useful of a design feature if the typical game rarely exceeds level ten. 🤷‍♂️
 

Oofta

Legend
Sometimes with 5e the mechanical framework around these things feels like smoke and mirrors. Per your example, the narrative you have is that sneaking up on a dragon should be nearly impossible, and the mechanical implementation is a natural 20. But 5e goes through the whole process of assuming what a Rogue's stealth score will be at x level, and then "balancing" monster stats around that assumption at y CR. Meanwhile, a rogue getting a 27 on stealth but still failing feels weird.

On a positive note, your 27 would have succeeded because an ancient red dragon's PP is only a 26.

But I want some things to be easy while other things are nearly impossible. It should always be easy to sneak past an ogre with an 8 PP and never guaranteed to sneak past that ancient red with their 26.

Look at what a rogues stealth proficiency is likely to be by level. Assuming starting with a 16 dex and always adding, at 1st level they'll be +7, 5th +9, 9th +13 and so on. With 5E the rogue can always get past the ogre and they feel awesome, but a 10% chance to get past the ancient red isn't good odds it's a desperation move. In 1D&D? At 1st roll an 8 or above, 5th 6 or above, at 9th don't roll a 1, 11th auto success because of reliable talent for a rogue and 13th is auto success for any dex based character that maxed out stealth. Against any creature.

So in 5E you can automatically sneak past the ogre, something you can't do in 1D&D until 13th level. So low level, sneaking past anyone will be difficult and just as likely to fail as succeed so should probably only be used as a last resort. High level? Don't even bother rolling.

It's punishingly difficult for low level and boring for high level. That's quite a trick, worse for both ends of the scale.

*I happen to dislike rogue's reliable talent because it's too reliable in 5E as well but that's a separate issue.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Look at the chart for indifferent again.
Indifferent Creature’s Response
10 The creature does as asked, as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.​
20 The creature accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.​

There's no nuance, for lack of a better term, in this chart. I've had players that I guarantee would look at this chart, max out their persuasion and then expect to get indifferent people to help them all the time and then argue about level of risk. Heck, a friendly creature "accepts a significant risk or sacrifice to do as asked". So ... because you're friends with the local bartender you can just ask them to risk their lives? What does significant risk or sacrifice even mean? How friendly do they need to be?
It does give the DM an out, though. Under the Influence[Action] in the playtest document it says this.

"This Action can be used only on creatures controlled by the DM, and it isn’t mind control; it can’t force a creature to do something that is counter to the creature’s alignment or that is otherwise repugnant to the creature."

Risking life for anyone, even friends could be counter to both of those criteria. That said, I do agree that the new system is bad and wouldn't use it.
It establishes, in the minds of many players, that influence becomes almost akin to mind control whether that is the intent or not. At least when the chart was in the DMG it didn't do much harm because nobody reads the DMG.
Well, except for the part that says it isn't mind control. ;)
But it pales in comparison to the new rules of becoming hidden. I think that is a horrible set of rules including a DC 15 check to hide. Hidden as a condition, instead of being hidden from specific creatures, is also bad but that may just need clarification that you can be hidden from some creatures but not others.
And yes, this is worse.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A table top role playing game, to contain an accurate detail of all the subdivisions of which its great rules will admit, and of all the means by which they may be carried into execution, would partake of the prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind.
Dave Arneson, writing a screed about how Gary Gygax screwed him in the '70s, probably.
All hail the origin of the Rules Lawyer!
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The rules are used and interpreted by humans. If the system encourages or discourages certain behaviors it is an issue with the system. Not sure why you think you can separate the two.

I don't. What I don't agree is that the presence of rules encourages people to say you can't do anything outside them. That's not a problem with the rules encouraging that, that's a problem with people too rigid to be trying to run games.

We may just have to agree to disagree. My experience with more rules heavy versions of D&D (3 and, even more so, 4) has jaded me. I need rules for much of what happens in combat, I need guidance for most of what occurs outside of combat.

And you need to understand your experience is far from universal. I've seen easily as many problems with games that lean into rulings too much, because they require excessive judgment calls on people who, frankly, aren't all that good at judgment calls or are fatigued by doing them too regularly. If you want to argue both exist I won't argue with you, but if you want to argue the problems with rules maximalist systems are greater than rules minimalist ones, I absolutely will.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
This whole "DM empowerment" thing that WotC was catering to with 5e may have actually made DMing more difficult and contributed to the dearth of DMs.
"Empowered" to do the designers' jobs, but with the happy accident of pushing some nostalgia buttons.
Bounded Accuracy doesn't seem all that useful of a design feature if the typical game rarely exceeds level ten. 🤷‍♂️
It's absolutely vacant as a design philosophy. Oh, woo, five hundred goblins are a threat at level 20. That's going to be a fun fight to run and play through, for sure.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah. Long-time complaint of mine as well. It makes sense to segment the characters' turns in this way to make running and playing the game easier, but it's so weird and alien to me to then mistake the artifice of the game's mechanics for how the fiction it represents actually works.
When initiative is tied, it's simultaneous or close to it. When it's not, it's impossible for the fiction to be simultaneous without turning the situation into keystone cops where the fighter(who has stated his intent to run out) 10 feet from the door and fully aware of 10 goblins who are 40 feet from the door, and ready to act, has to stumble or get distracted or something else absurd in order to explain how all 10 get to the door before he can get there.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I think it's a context thing. Half of my players are just not that into rules.

Which means, to be a little blunt, they kind of are interested in playing the GM, because they'd rather do that than engage with rules. More power to them; there are obviously both players and GMs who find that a more amenable style, but the idea its intrinsically a better way to go (which Overgeek was suggesting) just doesn't pass the sniff test.

Whatever game we play, it's up to the other half and sometimes just me as GM to keep track of what's going on mechanically. I even try to be super transparent with rules so that they learn that I'm not just making stuff up; for example, I have them roll reaction rolls or morale roles and just in generally openly talk about what's going on on my side of things so they can see how they are not "playing the GM." And...they don't really care? Like they like their characters and they like chatting with NPCs but other than that are sort of blase about system. If players can all get really into the rules, then I can see something like pathfinder 2e working.

Frankly my own take is that if players can't be bothered to learn the rules to extent they can at least manage their characters without handholding, they can find a GM who is willing to do that for them or a system where it matters less, but I absolutely am not doing all the lifting for both of us.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
When initiative is tied, it's simultaneous or close to it. When it's not, it's impossible for the fiction to be simultaneous without turning the situation into keystone cops where the fighter(who has stated his intent to run out) 10 feet from the door and fully aware of 10 goblins who are 40 feet from the door, and ready to act, has to stumble or get distracted or something else absurd in order to explain how all 10 get to the door before he can get there.
Keystone cops is better than everyone being statues as other people run around doing things. Again, it’s an artificial game mechanic not how the real world (or the fiction) actually works.
 

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