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

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I don't find it to be too hard to help players out. You can take 95% of the rules players need and summarize them on a few sheets of paper. You can also develop character sheets for new players that provide short tips on how things work. I played in a demo game of Pathfinder 2e run by the Pathfinder Society at a convention a few years ago and the pregens had tips for various mechanics. They were very well-designed and extremely helpful for new players.

As others have pointed out, it is very different for the DM. The books need to be better designed for (1) picking up the essential rules quickly and (2) making cross-referencing easier (and using callouts to avoid page flipping where practical).

I think that this is where DnD Beyond is much better than the print books. There is only so much you can do with the print books. With digital, you can cross reference much easier with hover-over popups meaning you don't even have to navigate to the other page. You can also make a variety of reference articles and provide multiple ways of presenting the rules. DDB is already a great tool for a DM, but there are three things I would like to see that would make it even more useful as a DM:

1. Quickstarts and walkthroughs. Since you are not limited by page restrictions, throughout the rules section it would be great to have sidebars with "more information" links that give written and video examples and walktroughs and incorporate sage advice, FAQs, etc.

2. Make the search more friendly for simple rule look ups. They now allow you to set filters, to avoid results from adventures, etc. That's great, but still more fiddly than it needs to be. Organizing and displaying search results better, putting results from core books at top would be a lot more convenient. The search algorithm has gotten much better, but I'm still finding myself having to scroll through results to look up basic rules.

3. Digital DM screens. Preferably customizable. I would love to be able to bookmark/favorite certain sections (or even highlight and save snippits) and have them saved to a "DMs screen". There is a community-developed module I use for foundry vtt that allows me to do this with basically any content in the VTT. Would be nice if DDB had similar functionality.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Stormonu

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.
I don't mind additional books like the old Player's Options books that would give more levels of customization for those that want it, but I'm mostly satisfied with the level of complexity in the current game - I certainly don't want to go back to 3E's level of complexity, and the PF2/GURPs level would drive me insane.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I crave even more complexity personally. All the fun of making a character has been sucked out.

I don't think you need to make the core all that complex; that's why gos gave us the precious miracle of power creep, and feature creep after all.

On the other hand, I don't think there's a path in making the game so simple it's not worth learning either. D&D's culture of flaunting system mastery and assuming newbies are too dumb to 'get it' when it comes to literally any lever in the game more complicated then rolling two dice is quite frankly obnoxious and a turn off.

New players are coming in with the promise of 'you cna play anything you can imagine' and then get forced into playing the most boring thing, that can't even do it's thing in an exciting way.

No. A new player should be able to and in fact be encourage to come in and pick up any base archetype and have it be reasonable for them to start with without the DM shouting at them that they should learn these thirty pages of spell rules, or the other players braying that they're doing it wrong and will get the party killed.

They should be able to easily look up what they need in the book (like say, by using the tool most game designers seem to be allergic to A GLOSSARY) or on their sheet and know what they can do without having to work their way through an arcane riddle of flowery, vague language only to be told it's a secret only the DM knows.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I crave even more complexity personally. All the fun of making a character has been sucked out.

I don't think you need to make the core all that complex; that's why gos gave us the precious miracle of power creep, and feature creep after all.

On the other hand, I don't think there's a path in making the game so simple it's not worth learning either. D&D's culture of flaunting system mastery and assuming newbies are too dumb to 'get it' when it comes to literally any lever in the game more complicated then rolling two dice is quite frankly obnoxious and a turn off.

New players are coming in with the promise of 'you cna play anything you can imagine' and then get forced into playing the most boring thing, that can't even do it's thing in an exciting way.

No. A new player should be able to and in fact be encourage to come in and pick up any base archetype and have it be reasonable for them to start with without the DM shouting at them that they should learn these thirty pages of spell rules, or the other players braying that they're doing it wrong and will get the party killed.

They should be able to easily look up what they need in the book (like say, by using the tool most game designers seem to be allergic to A GLOSSARY) or on their sheet and know what they can do without having to work their way through an arcane riddle of flowery, vague language only to be told it's a secret only the DM knows.
This is really hard to accomplish in a basic game, but I see where you're going with it. It's one of my complaints about 5e basic, the official version. They kept all the rules (all the complexity) while stripping PC options down to 4 classes and 4 races. I tried to flip that design philosophy with B&B, giving player options at CHARGEN, while making the rules simple. Of course, there are always limitations when you're creating a Basic version, streamlined as possible. Archetypes need to be in broad groups (3 classes), but have options within those for customization (backgrounds)
 

Reynard

Legend
This is really hard to accomplish in a basic game, but I see where you're going with it. It's one of my complaints about 5e basic, the official version. They kept all the rules (all the complexity) while stripping PC options down to 4 classes and 4 races. I tried to flip that design philosophy with B&B, giving player options at CHARGEN, while making the rules simple. Of course, there are always limitations when you're creating a Basic version, streamlined as possible. Archetypes need to be in broad groups (3 classes), but have options within those for customization (backgrounds)
I think the game worked pretty well -- better, even -- when there was effectively one choice at character generation: class.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I think the game worked pretty well -- better, even -- when there was effectively one choice at character generation: class.
Not for me. And not for a lot of people. Lack of choice is the biggest complaints I hear.

If I came to this game back in the day when there were no meaningful character choices, I would have turned right around and never looked back.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Not for me. And not for a lot of people. Lack of choice is the biggest complaints I hear.

If I came to this game back in the day when there were no meaningful character choices, I would have turned right around and never looked back.
It might not be the game for you. Have you tried other systems with more choices?
 


Voadam

Legend
I think the game worked pretty well -- better, even -- when there was effectively one choice at character generation: class.
Do you know how many choices there are in spending 120 gold when the equipment list includes things like wineskins and iron spikes?

I remember fiddling around with things like how many belt pouches to buy? Do I need belladona or wolfsbane? Iron rations versus non iron rations.
 

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.

You're right! WOTC doesn't need to worry about making the game more learnable. The last time they tried that they made 4th Edition!

A person can learn how D&D works by watching Matt Mercer!
 




Reynard

Legend
Right now, not much. Do you want that to change???
No, but then you were the one that brought it up. All I said is that there are cheaper ways to learn how to play D&D than hiring a GM. WotC has a few really good Starter Set options out there. They don't need to make the core books any simpler. New players should be directed to starter sets that actually teach them the tools -- Mentzer is the gold standard here -- and then they can buy the core books.
 
Last edited:

No, but then you were the one that brought it up. All I said is that there are cheaper ways to learn how to play D&D than hiring a GM. WotC has a few really good Starter Set options out there. They don't need to make the core books any simpler. New players should be directed to starter sets that actually teach them the tools -- Mentzer is the gold standard here -- and then they can buy the core books.
But think about it!!! WOTC could have a university where people can go to learn how to DM. Then WOTC can give them licensees that prove they are officially accredited DMs!!! There totally wouldn't be a huge blacklash against it!!

Edit: But seriously...

 
Last edited:

Reynard

Legend
But think about it!!! WOTC could have a university where people can go to learn how to DM. Then WOTC can give them licensees that prove they are officially accredited DMs!!! There totally wouldn't be a huge blacklash against it!!

Edit: But seriously...

I actually think WotC should do more practice "DM academy" style posts, videos and interactive media because it is in their best interest to have as many capable GMs out there as possible. But since the D&D YouTube environment grew essentially organically, they are probably too late to make any real contributions.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I think that how the game is going to be played going forward, all they really need to do is have a full example of character creation and a 1 pager that lists down all of the steps for character creation. I dont think you'd really need to make any other changes.
 

cbwjm

Legend
But think about it!!! WOTC could have a university where people can go to learn how to DM. Then WOTC can give them licensees that prove they are officially accredited DMs!!! There totally wouldn't be a huge blacklash against it!!

Edit: But seriously...

This has somewhat recently been what happened at the university where I work. A lot of people leaving and taking years of institutional knowledge with them. I still get emails from people asking about things from my old job.
 


Voranzovin

Explorer
There are some simple things I think they could do that wouldn't really remove any existing complexity from the game, but would make it more approachable for first-time players.

  • Get rid of ability scores. They are an endless source of confusion for new players, and don't actually do much of anything beyond taking up valuable room on the character sheet. Give players a starting array of ability modifiers, and make ASIs a single ability modifier point. We will never, ever miss them.
  • Either sort spells into 1-20 levels that correspond to the level you can take the spell at, or call whatever buckets they get sorted into something other then levels. I can't count the number of times I've had to explain that your second level character can't cast second level spells, because those are two entirely separate concepts that are named the same thing because reasons.
  • The standard character sheet is, to quote Diana Rigg in The Great Muppet Caper, loose where it should be tight and tight where it should be loose. It focuses an granularity where you don't need it and provides none where you do. For instance, there's no actual need to pre-calculate skills and weapon attack bonuses now that the core mechanic is so simple. Being overwhelmed by all the stuff on your character sheet is a much bigger problem for beginners, in my experience, then remembering to add an ability modifier and proficiency (if you have it) to a d20 roll. But the sheet doesn't provide you any real guidance on what your character can do when it's your turn, which is what beginning players actually do need. I'd propose remedying this by making standard character sheets for each class that highlight exactly what you need to see to play that class. Have race be a separate page which likewise makes your racial abilities front and center.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top