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General Taking the "Dungeons" out of D&D

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I know where it came from. I don't know why it's still even being said. An encounter a day is 100% fine and it can be fun and interesting to every class involved while also being balanced amongst themselves.
do you mean an encounter per long rest?

I must strongly disagree. I ran a game with a cleric, a paladin, a warlock and a monk, and for a time I had usually encounter a day - but often those were big fights. The paladin was utterly dominating, could smite every round, an the cleric would toss around their most powerful spells. The monk and warlock paled.

So I changed the pace a bit, had multiple combats per day. Suddenly the paladin had to hold back and felt more reasonable.
 

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Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
The game’s systems are built around that assumption. Yes, you can run a game with one encounter a day and it can still be a lot of fun, but a lot of the rules systems will be superfluous (hit dice, for example, would be useless in a one encounter a day campaign), and depending on the party composition, the difficulty could become trivial, or much harder than expected. I hear all the time that 5e is “easy mode D&D” from people who don’t observe the 6-8 encounter day guideline. I never hear that from people who do observe it.
Exactly. Now, let me ask if there's anything wrong with D&D combats being easy?

I'm not saying uninteresting, I'm saying easy. Every and all combat encounters can be fun, different, engaging, and even scary to the players yet they never are in any real danger of a TPK through normal means. All combats are in these massive set pieces with moving terrain, various objectives outside "kill scary monster," and the enemies are roleplaying alongside fighting yet the chance of failure for any given PC is low. It's still possible for them to fail if they aren't engaging or quite unlucky but they know victory often. This can be fun for a wide margin of players. So many players feel awful with frequent failure, why not make failure infrequent?

What if you want to play a resource management game? Embrace it. Resource management games almost always require a time limit put in place. It's the nature of resource management. Change to gritty realism or add random tables. Whatever you do, know that this doesn't mean your game is more balanced than the other, it's just different.

Want to be ultra-hard? Embrace it. Make sure the brutes in your combat can kill an average wizard in one action, create terrain where the enemy is at a severe advantage, introduce insta-kills into your campaign.

Reinforce the themes you're set to establish in your campaign. Don't try making a resource management game but avoid forcing the players to manage their resources carefully. Don't promise an easy game and panic when players are whistling their way through encounters. Make sure you know the game you run.

The game was not created to be systematically balanced, the game was created to be fun through a cooperative experience with your DM and fellow players; be it to tell a story, face challenging quests, or experience and explore a world that your character is invested in.

In short, you don’t need to conform to that guideline, but if you don’t, your gameplay experience will be very different than the one the game is written to accommodate.
That's good. Embrace the difference. In easy campaigns, the spellcaster might not even need charm spells since everyone's so friendly that even the low charisma barbarian can autosucceed in their speech ability. In hard campaigns, the spellcasters have to think if they can afford using a spell slot for a high-level spell that might fail on a OOC situation or use a low-level spell but not be as convenient or conserve both so they have them for an upcoming fight. In medium campaigns, it might be a mix.

But diversity between tables is good.
 

Well the title doesn't exactly end up being too kosher if you replace Dungeon with a d-term that is found in Book of Erotic Fantasy.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
do you mean an encounter per long rest?

I must strongly disagree. I ran a game with a cleric, a paladin, a warlock and a monk, and for a time I had usually encounter a day - but often those were big fights. The paladin was utterly dominating, could smite every round, an the cleric would toss around their most powerful spells. The monk and warlock paled.

So I changed the pace a bit, had multiple combats per day. Suddenly the paladin had to hold back and felt more reasonable.
What type of game were you trying to run? Did you want them to NOVA in every fight or did you want them to manage resources?

If you wanted a NOVA opportunity, I don't quite think it's unbalanced.

The paladin is doing damage and only damage. They're spending their action for it. Good, that's one of the things paladins are good for.

The cleric is either doing damage with their spiritual weapon and spirit guardians or providing support by buffing and healing the party. Good, clerics do that.

The warlock is debuffing the enemies with hypnotic pattern, slow, hex while also doing decent at-will damage for a caster.

The monk is consistently searching for a stun if it's feasible or kiting the enemy with their movement speed, causing smaller damage but often out of harm's way and can deflect incoming ranged attacks that try to hit them.

They're all doing something different because their characters aren't all built for damage. While the warlock and monk doesn't shine damage-wise, they have useful roles to keep them relevant in the game. The problem is when players are constantly having a damage-measuring contest. Some classes are built for better damage than others, but that doesn't mean they're being better.
 

Saelorn

Hero
I know where it came from. I don't know why it's still even being said. An encounter a day is 100% fine and it can be fun and interesting to every class involved while also being balanced amongst themselves.
Well, no. The game was never intended to be balanced under those conditions, and indeed it is not. A class with many long-rest resources, such as a paladin or wizard, is much more powerful under those circumstances than a class that can only access a third of their power at a time. Both theory and experience are in perfect accord on that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Exactly. Now, let me ask if there's anything wrong with D&D combats being easy?
Nothing wrong with it, just, you know, know what you’re setting yourself up for. I very often see DMs disregard the guidelines in the rulebook and then express frustration with problems that occur as a result of ignoring those guidelines. Having fewer than the recommended encounters per day and then complaining the game is too easy is just one example, but a fairly common one in my experience.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
They're all doing something different because their characters aren't all built for damage. While the warlock and monk doesn't shine damage-wise, they have useful roles to keep them relevant in the game. The problem is when players are constantly having a damage-measuring contest. Some classes are built for better damage than others, but that doesn't mean they're being better.
Actually, all classes are built to have rough parity in terms of damage output... if you follow the encounters per adventuring day guidelines. If you can find other ways to contribute, great, but it isn’t accurate to say that the classes are built to output significantly different amounts of damage.
 



robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I think something missing from dungeon crawls (and the rest of the game) is a good method for tracking time in way that the players can respond to. It's amazing that 5e provides no mechanism for tracking game world time apart from some vague advice on how long things might take.

The time pool system proposed by the Angry GM (and ably supported by this excellent DMs Guild product: Time Tracker - Dungeon Masters Guild | Dungeon Masters Guild ) is a perfect example of some additional rules enhancing the game and making any exploration of a dangerous place feel more perilous and exciting. The Time Tracker also adds the ability to track days and weeks which is nice.

In a similar manner we need some mechanism to make visible progress toward a social interaction goal. The players need to know where they are they start a high-stakes encounter. Basically how many "successes" do they need to gain victory. I don't believe in the skill check approach from earlier editions because a fixed number of failures means that more attempts (from a larger party for example) will make failure more likely than successful. Something more like a scale where the DM can put a marker to indicate the starting condition. Hostile, wary, skeptical etc. And then indicate where the players need to get to achieve victory and as the back and forth proceeds use those as inputs to move the marker forward or backward so that the players can clearly see whether they're making progress or not. And of course if they make too many failures they fail outright and the interaction is over. Something like that anyway.
 

ART!

Adventurer
I keep thinking some mutated version of D&D combat could be used to emulate social stuff, and exploration, too. Give social encounters something like initiative, actions, bonus actions, reactions, movement, AoO, to-hit rolls, damage rolls, HP, NPC features, legendary actions - the works.

I know, I know - that sounds crazy/stupid/ridiculous. Basically, I just don't want new systems for those things, and it just makes sense to use a structure - if not the exact same details - that people are already familiar with.
 
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Mistwell

Legend
I think skill challenges were a good component of 4e that should have been developed more and introduced to 5e, and adding skill challenges to 5e would not make it less "D&D" in feel. And I think skill challenges, while still helpful in a dungeon setting, can be even more helpful outside of a dungeon setting to achieve some of the goals the OP is looking for.

Another aspect I think needs work, and which would not harm the "feel" of D&D, is more developed overland travel rules.

Some simple but interesting mass combat rules would be helpful, and not detract from the "feel" of D&D.

Finally, I think some additional feats and subclasses tailored towards the social tier of D&D would be helpful for those goals, again without detracting from the "feel" of it being D&D.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Nothing wrong with it, just, you know, know what you’re setting yourself up for. I very often see DMs disregard the guidelines in the rulebook and then express frustration with problems that occur as a result of ignoring those guidelines. Having fewer than the recommended encounters per day and then complaining the game is too easy is just one example, but a fairly common one in my experience.
The difference between, say, adding criticals to ability checks and running a certain amount of encounters a day is that the rules tell you how to play with ability checks, and recommends you to stay within the rules.

There is no such recommendation in any of the books that balance hinges on 6-8 encounters a day, nor has any designer made such claims.

The very thought of a "recommended adventuring day" is a misconception. Another one is 2 short rest. If anyone can provide an official passage that says that a DM is recommended to run a 6-8, 2SR encounter day for balance, anyone in this thread can quote it or link it here. Otherwise, I claim that balance is found in all encounter numbers regardless of short rests and I'll provide my reasonings. Most likely in another thread since I don't want to derail this one any farther.

But first, I want to see if anyone has found such a quote or passage.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The difference between, say, adding criticals to ability checks and running a certain amount of encounters a day is that the rules tell you how to play with ability checks, and recommends you to stay within the rules.

There is no such recommendation in any of the books that balance hinges on 6-8 encounters a day, nor has any designer made such claims.

The very thought of a "recommended adventuring day" is a misconception. Another one is 2 short rest. If anyone can provide an official passage that says that a DM is recommended to run a 6-8, 2SR encounter day for balance, anyone in this thread can quote it or link it here. Otherwise, I claim that balance is found in all encounter numbers regardless of short rests and I'll provide my reasonings.

But first, I want to see if anyone has found such a quote or passage.
Basic rules, chapter 13.


The Adventuring Day
Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.

In the same way you figure out the difficulty of an encounter, you can use the XP values of monsters and other opponents in an adventure as a guideline for how far the party is likely to progress.

For each character in the party, use the Adventuring Day XP table to estimate how much XP that character is expected to earn in a day. Add together the values of all party members to get a total for the party’s adventuring day. This provides a rough estimate of the adjusted XP value for encounters the party can handle before the characters will need to take a long rest.

Adventuring Day XP
LevelAdjusted XP per Day per Character
1st300
2nd600
3rd1,200
4th1,700
5th3,500
6th4,000
7th5,000
8th6,000
9th7,500
10th9,000
11th10,500
12th11,500
13th13,500
14th15,000
15th18,000
16th20,000
17th25,000
18th27,000
19th30,000
20th40,000

Short Rests
In general, over the course of a full adventuring day, the party will likely need to take two short rests, about one-third and two-thirds of the way through the day.
 

Reynard

Legend
I am leaning more and more toward milestone based rests. "You can rest once you reach Safeville. To get there you can take the long way around the Felfends, or drive right through them and hope to avoid the Bog Men."
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I am leaning more and more toward milestone based rests. "You can rest once you reach Safeville. To get there you can take the long way around the Felfends, or drive right through them and hope to avoid the Bog Men."
Simply ruling that you must be in a safe location to gain the benefits of a long rest accomplishes this goal without having to make rests a meta-game resource.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Basic rules, chapter 13.


The Adventuring Day
Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.

In the same way you figure out the difficulty of an encounter, you can use the XP values of monsters and other opponents in an adventure as a guideline for how far the party is likely to progress.

For each character in the party, use the Adventuring Day XP table to estimate how much XP that character is expected to earn in a day. Add together the values of all party members to get a total for the party’s adventuring day. This provides a rough estimate of the adjusted XP value for encounters the party can handle before the characters will need to take a long rest.

Adventuring Day XP
LevelAdjusted XP per Day per Character
1st300
2nd600
3rd1,200
4th1,700
5th3,500
6th4,000
7th5,000
8th6,000
9th7,500
10th9,000
11th10,500
12th11,500
13th13,500
14th15,000
15th18,000
16th20,000
17th25,000
18th27,000
19th30,000
20th40,000

Short Rests
In general, over the course of a full adventuring day, the party will likely need to take two short rests, about one-third and two-thirds of the way through the day.
Read it again: it does not say "Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, the adventuring day is balanced around about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day."

Nor does it say "Over the course of a full adventuring day, the adventuring day is balanced around two short rests, about one-third and two-thirds of the way through the day."

What it tells you is with a typical adventure (probably a dungeon-crawl based on what a typical D&D game was before 5e, no feats and no multiclassing) and with average luck (no nat20's and average damage), the party will probably not TPK before 6-8 encounters. It also says that the party will need 2 short rests at certain intervals, not that the game assumes they will take it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Read it again: it does not say "Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, the adventuring day is balanced around about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day."

Nor does it say "Over the course of a full adventuring day, the adventuring day is balanced around two short rests, about one-third and two-thirds of the way through the day."

What it tells you is with a typical adventure (probably a dungeon-crawl based on what a typical D&D game was before 5e, no feats and no multiclassing) and with average luck (no nat20's and average damage), the party will probably not TPK before 6-8 encounters. It also says that the party will need 2 short rests at certain intervals, not that the game assumes they will take it.
The very fact they put that piece in there at all is a clobber-upside-the-head hint saying 'these are the assumptions the game's been designed around'.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Read it again: it does not say "Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, the adventuring day is balanced around about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day."

Nor does it say "Over the course of a full adventuring day, the adventuring day is balanced around two short rests, about one-third and two-thirds of the way through the day."

What it tells you is with a typical adventure (probably a dungeon-crawl based on what a typical D&D game was before 5e, no feats and no multiclassing) and with average luck (no nat20's and average damage), the party will probably not TPK before 6-8 encounters. It also says that the party will need 2 short rests at certain intervals, not that the game assumes they will take it.
And you think they didn’t design the classes to perform with relative parity around these assumptions?
 


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