Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Players also generally want their PCs to be more powerful, and I think it's natural given that that hearing that the DM wants to make them less so might cause some irritation. If you have to make the baseline harder rather than easier in 2023, you are starting on the back foot.Okay. Maybe that means your players don't actually want to play the kind of game you are trying to run?
I legit do not get this response. If the players are complaining, maybe it is because you're doing something that doesn't fit the group!
If we were talking about subsystems, maybe. But even then, removing is often just as hard, you've just ignored the why of it.
Cut out short rests. Suddenly most of the game breaks. Cut out hit dice. Suddenly there's a third less healing. Cut out bonus actions. Etc., etc. Removing subsystems is quite risky, Jenga-style.
But the actual thing that makes encounters difficult is monster design, not subsystems. Adding new features to monsters to make them hard is often a trivial task. Double their damage. Done! But taking brutally hard monsters and generating a set that are reasonable but NOT trivial? Extremy difficult.
Adding well-balanced is very difficult. Adding "piss easy," sure, but that is boring and no one really wants that. Adding brutally hard monsters isn't difficult at all. Adding brutally hard monsters with a puzzle solution, likewise easy (trolls are not some monumentally impressive feat of game design.)
IME, this is far from true. Because players want the challenge types present: combat (with both brute damage and more complex traps/magic/terrain to deal with), exploration (ditto, but also fatigue and resources), socialization, puzzles, moral/ethical quandaries, etc.
But they want these things in such a way that it is reasonably likely they will succeed if they (a) make smart decisions, (b) pay attention to their surroundings, and (c) exploit their resources (abilities, equipment, teamwork, environs) effectively. Every group I've played in has recognized that sometimes all of that just won't be enough, and beating a retreat is necessary, even in games people accuse of being too easy.
And I absolutely stand by the claim that getting that delicate bal—er, equilibrium JUST right is a very hard design problem.
You have to tweak and adjust and test, test, test until things work out just right so the challenge is true but not overwhelming, such that variance allows the real possibility of failure but in the long run a relatively low actual failure rate.
Adding stuff which breaks this delicate bal—equilibrium is easy. Building this delicate equilibrium yourself is stupidly hard. Believe me, I would know; I tried to do so with 3.5e. It was beyond me...and beyond every 3.5e/PF1e DM I ever played with.
And yet nearly all of the brutally hard monsters remain. All of the "welp, looks like that's a crit. Hope you don't instantly die" is still there. All the many, MANY save-or-die spells are still there. The ear seekers. Etc., etc.
Good thing you don't need to, because you already know they could exist!
Oh, awesome, you found the inarguable objective definition of D&D that everyone should be beholden to! Can I see it? Where did you find it?
Seriously Lanefan, I respect you too much tk believe you meant this. You literally just said the One True Way of D&D is zero-to-hero. You definitely know better than that.
A first level 5e character can (with the "right" choice of class) die outright in a single hit from a single low-level (IIRC CR1?) enemy. Even if they don't die outright, a single hit can bring even a Fighter to Dying, without being a crit. That, as far as I'm concerned, is being an incompetent rube at adventuring.
Going off to do something so unbelievably deadly when you literally don't even have the ability to survive two attacks, attacks that are quite likely to hit you, is eithet the height of stupidity, or reflects starting on something long before you have achieved even the most limited form of competence.
So yeah. I stand by that too. First-level 5e characters are incompetent rubes. Some folks want to play that. That's fine. That's what "zero" means to them, and more power to them.
I should not be shackled to that.
Regarding Hit Dice, 5e works just fine with a third less healing IMO.
Also, people doing dangerous jobs die from a single hit in real life all the time. You don't need to start your career as a hero, it just became popular to do so.