D&D 5E Should D&D be easier to learn? If so, how would you do it?


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Reynard

Legend
We all know the power of TTRPGs comes not from books or rules but from the skill of the DM.

Therefore, instead of encouraging newbies to buy a starter set or something like that, they should be steered towards a
professional Dungeon Master that is skilled in running games for newbies.
Absolutely not.

Pro DMing is a specific skill (i know, I have done it) and if it isn't oriented directly at new players in an educational manner it can do more harm than good.

There is nothing wrong with hiring a GM but if you are hiring a GM to teach the game that needs to be very clear. Otherwise you might as well save your money and watch actual plays on YT.
 


Micah Sweet

Legend
We all know the power of TTRPGs comes not from books or rules but from the skill of the DM.

Therefore, instead of encouraging newbies to buy a starter set or something like that, they should be steered towards a
professional Dungeon Master that is skilled in running games for newbies.
How does that make money for WotC? Always keep that question in mind. They are going to look for the solution to teaching new players that has the most monetizing potential.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Assuming that good experiences lead to loyal customers, it’s often pretty hard to distinguish caring about the game and the players from base greed.

It is easy, however, to interpret everything as base greed.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
We all know the power of TTRPGs comes not from books or rules but from the skill of the DM.

Therefore, instead of encouraging newbies to buy a starter set or something like that, they should be steered towards a
professional Dungeon Master that is skilled in running games for newbies.
I agree with @Reynard ,reaching out to an experienced DM is a good idea, but not necessarily a porfessional one.
 

Horwath

Hero
Game needs to be more complicated, not less.

More options for starting class features, skills, armor categories, cantrips, etc...
subclasses at 1st level,
more feat slots, over levels,
combat maneuvers for all characters, class depending on amount and type.
 

nevin

Hero
we either give them a character with everything laid out. Combat rolls, saves etc. All explained on the sheet,

or have a session 0 where we give the new player all the time they need to generate the character and understand it.
 

Reynard

Legend
Game needs to be more complicated, not less.

More options for starting class features, skills, armor categories, cantrips, etc...
subclasses at 1st level,
more feat slots, over levels,
combat maneuvers for all characters, class depending on amount and type.
That's just more room for a single poor design to ruin the whole thing. I think character "builds" should be simpler but there should be lots more viable and mechanically distinct actions anyone can take.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
As others have said, you can’t play without a GM so I’d focus on that.

If it was up to me, I’d create a “How to DM” document. I’d likely make it a free pdf on the DMsGuild. It would be a sample adventure with examples of varying encounters and scenes, and it would offer actual applicale at the table advice about resolving the different obstacles.

I’d playtest this adventure and then include as much of the feedback from the playtest as possible in the final document. So if some playtesters came up with some off the wall solution to a problem, that could be included and reviewed.

Just actual advice on the nuts and bolts of running a game. I’d take extra care to avoid the idea that RPGs are “unique” or “special” in that regard. I’d want to encourage people with the specifics rather than scare them off with the idea that there’s something mysterious or unknowable about RPGs.

This would give people a starting point to learn how to DM. I’d likely make a video series highlighting each part of this document as well.

Include pregenerated PCs for new players to play in this adventure when the DM is ready.

It’d really just be a more robust starter kit, aimed more at the DM than the players.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Game needs to be more complicated, not less.

More options for starting class features, skills, armor categories, cantrips, etc...
subclasses at 1st level,
more feat slots, over levels,
combat maneuvers for all characters, class depending on amount and type.

?

Is that what you want, or is that your answer to the OP’s question?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Just cut the number of options,not the actual complexity of those options. You could do a 5e version of B/X in less than 100 pages and it would be as easy to pick up as B/X. Unfortunately, WotC thinks the selling point of 5E is unlimited options so it is only getting worse, not better.
Ask and ye shall receive. Funny enough, I'm wrapping up a project to do this very thing, to create a true basic 5e. I created a discussion thread here. The rules can be found here. Technically it's 130 pages, but that's because I'm using a larger font (easier to read, especially for those of us whose eyesight is getting worse with age).

I approached it as if Moldvay were asked to create a basic version of 5e today. The existing 5e basic version is all of the rules (not very basic) but hardly any of the class options. So I streamlined the rules to their very core. What does that look like?

  • Got rid of concentration mechanic, and bonus actions
  • Removed ability scores. The abilities are there, but they are just the modifiers now, not from 3-18.
  • Removed individual skills. If you are skilled in Strength, then you add prof bonus to all strength-based tasks
  • Broke down the classes into three groups: fighter, rogue, and wizard (which is a hybrid of cleric/wizard)
  • Kept all of the core races but simplified them
  • Added a background/heritage option. These options grant you certain traits regardless of what your race or class is (I pulled this from my Chromatic Dungeons game)
  • Simplified weapon damage
  • Streamlined monster stat blocks
  • Stressed all three pillars, how that looks like in a game, and gave DM guidance on how to be an effective DM (because when you're targeting new players, giving the most advice you can to DMs is exceptionally important.
  • The character sheets have the basic rules on them for each class, so you don't have to look up the most common rules. HAVE EVERYTHING FIT ON ONE PAGE OF THE SHEET.
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
?

Is that what you want, or is that your answer to the OP’s question?
Yeah, I'm not sure how making something more complex makes it easier to learn. I learned on B/X, which was way easier for my kid brain than parsing high Gygaxian and trying to make sense of the 1e rules. Heck, it's hard to keep track of all the 1e rules as an adult ;)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Ask and ye shall receive. Funny enough, I'm wrapping up a project to do this very thing, to create a true basic 5e. I created a discussion thread here. The rules can be found here. Technically it's 130 pages, but that's because I'm using a larger font (easier to read, especially for those of us whose eyesight is getting worse with age).
Yeah, I like a lot of the stuff @Sacrosanct is doing, but I would have liked 6-7 classes instead of just 3.

My "spell list" is a bit more robust, but also varied, that B&B's.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Ask and ye shall receive. Funny enough, I'm wrapping up a project to do this very thing, to create a true basic 5e. I created a discussion thread here. The rules can be found here. Technically it's 130 pages, but that's because I'm using a larger font (easier to read, especially for those of us whose eyesight is getting worse with age).

I approached it as if Moldvay were asked to create a basic version of 5e today. The existing 5e basic version is all of the rules (not very basic) but hardly any of the class options. So I streamlined the rules to their very core. What does that look like?

  • Got rid of concentration mechanic, and bonus actions
  • Removed ability scores. The abilities are there, but they are just the modifiers now, not from 3-18.
  • Removed individual skills. If you are skilled in Strength, then you add prof bonus to all strength-based tasks
  • Broke down the classes into three groups: fighter, rogue, and wizard (which is a hybrid of cleric/wizard)
  • Kept all of the core races but simplified them
  • Added a background/heritage option. These options grant you certain traits regardless of what your race or class is (I pulled this from my Chromatic Dungeons game)
  • Simplified weapon damage
  • Streamlined monster stat blocks
  • Stressed all three pillars, how that looks like in a game, and gave DM guidance on how to be an effective DM (because when you're targeting new players, giving the most advice you can to DMs is exceptionally important.
  • The character sheets have the basic rules on them for each class, so you don't have to look up the most common rules. HAVE EVERYTHING FIT ON ONE PAGE OF THE SHEET.
View attachment 260899
View attachment 260900

That is super cool and I can't wait to read through it.

I've been working (slowly) on a somewhat similar concept, although not nearly as simplified. Mine is a stripped down variant, designed for younger players, set in a world based on a "fairy tale" aesthetic. The main changes I'm making are:
  1. Six classes: Knight, Minstrel, Witch, Hunter, Thief, Friar
  2. 10 levels, no subclasses
  3. Each class has a signature ability that costs Inspiration to use
  4. Humans only (for now)
  5. Spellcasting based on Warlock invocations (abilities that are either at will or per rest; no shared slots or preparation)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I've been working (slowly) on a somewhat similar concept, although not nearly as simplified.
Myself as well. It seems to be a trend some people are following to make a Basic 5E.

Your classes sound interesting, I look forward to any previews you have.

I think you will like a lot of @Sacrosanct's B&B. I know there are things I would do differently, but overall I think it is pretty good.
 

pogre

Legend
As others have said, you can’t play without a GM so I’d focus on that.

If it was up to me, I’d create a “How to DM” document. I’d likely make it a free pdf on the DMsGuild. It would be a sample adventure with examples of varying encounters and scenes, and it would offer actual applicale at the table advice about resolving the different obstacles.

I’d playtest this adventure and then include as much of the feedback from the playtest as possible in the final document. So if some playtesters came up with some off the wall solution to a problem, that could be included and reviewed.

Just actual advice on the nuts and bolts of running a game. I’d take extra care to avoid the idea that RPGs are “unique” or “special” in that regard. I’d want to encourage people with the specifics rather than scare them off with the idea that there’s something mysterious or unknowable about RPGs.

This would give people a starting point to learn how to DM. I’d likely make a video series highlighting each part of this document as well.

Include pregenerated PCs for new players to play in this adventure when the DM is ready.

It’d really just be a more robust starter kit, aimed more at the DM than the players.
These are good ideas. I also agree that solid DMs are the key to making the game easier to learn.

However, rules mastery alone will not get the job done. I have tables full of players and many know the rules better than me.

The fact is, most people in D&D prefer to play. "Forever DM" is a common term for people who DM simply because no one else will. I see it thrown around a lot. Folks like me, who prefer to DM, are rare by comparison.

I get the feeling from looking at forums and Reddit where people are looking for a game - being the DM is a lot like getting stuck with the healing cleric in the old days - a necessary, but undesirable role.

I don't have a great solution, but I wonder if there is a way to make running the game more fun for the average D&D player?

Obviously, this is in my experience, and maybe someone could correct me.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
How I would do it:

1) Only two choices to make at character creation, race and class. Focus on aesthetics and narrative, not mechanics.
2) A dozen races, each with one or two chunky features. Elven trance is good, halflings "reroll 1s" is good, resistances and immunities are good. Interesting but passive abilities. Nothing that is restricted use, no spells, no features that make you reference another list of items (like feats). No subraces or lineages.
3) About two dozen "classes", that are really just background++. Give starting skills, proficiencies, an active ability, maybe some other limited passive features, and starting stats.
4) Have a chapter for advanced users that allows for some customization. Allow for random/rolled stats, moving stats around, and trading out some race/class features for a small menu of other alternative features.
5) Decouple progression from race/class. Leveling up gives some numerical increases (HP, prof bonuses), but otherwise all progression is freeform and diegetic, allowing for opt-in complexity as the table desires.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
These are good ideas. I also agree that solid DMs are the key to making the game easier to learn.

However, rules mastery alone will not get the job done. I have tables full of players and many know the rules better than me.

The fact is, most people in D&D prefer to play. "Forever DM" is a common term for people who DM simply because no one else will. I see it thrown around a lot. Folks like me, who prefer to DM, are rare by comparison.

I get the feeling from looking at forums and Reddit where people are looking for a game - being the DM is a lot like getting stuck with the healing cleric in the old days - a necessary, but undesirable role.

I don't have a great solution, but I wonder if there is a way to make running the game more fun for the average D&D player?

Obviously, this is in my experience, and maybe someone could correct me.

Yeah I didn’t mean for my suggested document to have guidance solely on rules. I meant it would present a lot of situations (which would include rules of course) and advice on how to resolve them.

So even something like “The DC for this ability check was determined by considering X and Y. When you’re deciding on the DC for a proposed ability check, keep these things in mind…”

Or maybe something like “Given the situation, it seems likely that a fight would break out here. However, in one playtest session, the players came up with a creative idea to resolve the situation. As DM you should always strongly consider any ideas the players propose rather than steering things toward the ideas you have or that are suggested in a published adventure. Here are some ideas about how to work with unexpected ideas from players…”

All this kind of stuff. The benefits and drawbacks of always sharing DCs versus keeping them hidden. Actual advice on how to DM for those just beginning.
 

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