D&D 5E The Adventuring Day XP budget makes sense when you consider it is a budget for you to stock your dungeons

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I’m not sure I would describe that as an issue with the mechanics. The mechanics do exactly what they were designed to do, and they do it quite well. But, I don’t disagree with your greater point; 5e managed to attract an audience that isn’t especially interested in what it was designed to do, and is now stuck in an awkward spot where the audience as fallen in love with the square peg and doesn’t want the corners to be cut off of it. They can squeeze it through the round hole if they tilt it just so, and that’s how they like playing with it.

Indeed, 5e does the square pegs and rectangular pegs pretty well.

It's just that many fans old and new have not been interested in the square hole for a while and are enamored with the round, star, hexagon, and triangular holes.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Indeed, 5e does the square pegs and rectangular pegs pretty well.

It's just that many fans old and new have not been interested in the square hole for a while and are enamored with the round, star, hexagon, and triangular holes.
Those pegs can be found in other games. No game can do everything. But if you want dungeons with dragons in them, not surprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons 5e delivers that just fine in my view.
 


FallenRX

Adventurer
100%. Remember, 5e was playtested primarily with the Caves of Chaos from Keep on the Borderlands. While it’s certainly capable of handling things other than dungeons, the mechanics were absolutely designed for classic dungeon delving play, and so much of the design that can seem odd at a glance makes perfect sense in that context.
Huh, actually didnt know this, I remember it being tested on a few things, like isle of dread and Dead in Thay
 

The sole problem with Xp budget rule is that some expect a precision of +- 2% when in fact it is more like +- 50% and often more.

I think the bigger problem is that PCs recover all their abilities so easily, and they are at maximum effectiveness immediately after a long rest. And there is no mechanical reason to encourage players to progress to the end of the adventuring day. As written, unless there's some peculiarity of the narrative preventing it, PCs should long rest after every encounter.

It's just such a weird design. They tied attrition to HP recovery during short rests (limited by HD, which are also the only thing that long rests don't fully recover), so long rests are required to reliably heal. So you can't block long resting without introducing death spirals. But that means you can't make it so the PCs have to achieve something in adventuring day completion (e.g., 75% of the XP budget) before you can try to recharge your abilities because that's also linked to a long rest.

You could combat it by rewarding PCs as they progress through the adventuring day, but the game doesn't do that at all. And short rests are just worse. But what kind of reward could you give? A permanent one like XP or bonus treasure is a bad idea, because now you're giving long term rewards for short term behavior. So you need something like abilities or bonuses that turn on when you reach a threshold, but that expire when you long rest.

Why is ability recovery and HP recovery so tightly linked? Why are PCs at maximum effectiveness at the start of the adventuring day? Why is the game built around a daily XP budget at all if the game mechanics implicitly tell the players to long rest as often as possible?
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Those pegs can be found in other games. No game can do everything. But if you want dungeons with dragons in them, not surprisingly, Dungeons & Dragons 5e delivers that just fine in my view.
Of course there are other games.

But there are more that one way to build a Dungeon or design a Dragon.

It is strange that D&D is the flagbearer and entry point for fantasy dungeon crawling TTRPGs but doesn't match the style of fantasy dungeon crawling TTRPGing that new entrants and mainstream players. 5e does well something new fans don't care really for once familiar enough to create preferences. A great burger sold to salad lovers.

Running a adventurers day worth of stuff on a old school dungeon or floor works so well. But my groups either kind of run from old school dungeons. Or it is hard to stay in the old school mindset for 2-4 session at the same dungeon.This ends up forcing houserules to make new school dungeons or running other games.

And I find that from DMing some of it comes from preference. And some of it comes from mismatch of mechanics and mindset. Sure I could load a fort with an adventure day worth of medium encounter goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. But now I have to track them and ensure they move around in logical grouping. Then you have the players who must manage character based PCs and nor equipment based PCs. All with combat that don't just last 10 minutes anymore. Then you might not finish the dungeon in one session so you have to track where you are and how many resources you have to get in the right mindset for the next session .

The dungeon filling rules are made for old school play. But the rest of the game isn't. More square pegs for round holes before you even get to the humans playing
 

I think the bigger problem is that PCs recover all their abilities so easily, and they are at maximum effectiveness immediately after a long rest. And there is no mechanical reason to encourage players to progress to the end of the adventuring day. As written, unless there's some peculiarity of the narrative preventing it, PCs should long rest after every encounter.

It's just such a weird design. They tied attrition to HP recovery during short rests (limited by HD, which are also the only thing that long rests don't fully recover), so long rests are required to reliably heal. So you can't block long resting without introducing death spirals. But that means you can't make it so the PCs have to achieve something in adventuring day completion (e.g., 75% of the XP budget) before you can try to recharge your abilities because that's also linked to a long rest.

You could combat it by rewarding PCs as they progress through the adventuring day, but the game doesn't do that at all. And short rests are just worse. But what kind of reward could you give? A permanent one like XP or bonus treasure is a bad idea, because now you're giving long term rewards for short term behavior. So you need something like abilities or bonuses that turn on when you reach a threshold, but that expire when you long rest.

Why is ability recovery and HP recovery so tightly linked? Why are PCs at maximum effectiveness at the start of the adventuring day? Why is the game built around a daily XP budget at all if the game mechanics implicitly tell the players to long rest as often as possible?
At the base DnD is an RPG for heroic adventures.

The rules by themselves have few leverage to force players adopt an heroic behavior. the rest mechanics are not there to put pressure on PCs but rather to make them heroic and use widely their ressources on the next day.

The Heroic assumption also make the PCs winner by a large margin. The xp budget give enough margin to let the players win even if they are newcomer, make thematic build and make tactical errors.
We can’t hope to use the same xp budget advices to challenge players as in a wargame or a card game.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Of course there are other games.

But there are more that one way to build a Dungeon or design a Dragon.

It is strange that D&D is the flagbearer and entry point for fantasy dungeon crawling TTRPGs but doesn't match the style of fantasy dungeon crawling TTRPGing that new entrants and mainstream players. 5e does well something new fans don't care really for once familiar enough to create preferences. A great burger sold to salad lovers.
What is it that they want then since you appear to have a finger on the pulse of the market? (Or are you just referring to your own group?) As well, this doesn't align well with what I see out there. Perhaps it's algorithm bias, but isn't there a whole movement toward going back to megadungeons with Dungeon23? And doesn't WotC's own adventure products feature a mix of location-based and event-based design? With perhaps one or two exceptions, I don't think their modules are great, but it does seem to have a mix of content that some are bound to enjoy.

Running a adventurers day worth of stuff on a old school dungeon or floor works so well. But my groups either kind of run from old school dungeons. Or it is hard to stay in the old school mindset for 2-4 session at the same dungeon.This ends up forcing houserules to make new school dungeons or running other games.
The good news is that D&D 5e is very easy to hack in my experience. But again, what do they want? What game serves that goal better? Play that.

And I find that from DMing some of it comes from preference. And some of it comes from mismatch of mechanics and mindset. Sure I could load a fort with an adventure day worth of medium encounter goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. But now I have to track them and ensure they move around in logical grouping. Then you have the players who must manage character based PCs and nor equipment based PCs. All with combat that don't just last 10 minutes anymore. Then you might not finish the dungeon in one session so you have to track where you are and how many resources you have to get in the right mindset for the next session .

The dungeon filling rules are made for old school play. But the rest of the game isn't. More square pegs for round holes before you even get to the humans playing
I guess I'm not seeing where the hardship is in anything you mention in this bit, plus what little tracking there may be is made very easy with all the tools available online these days. It sounds like there's an objection behind the objection somewhere.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Huh, actually didnt know this, I remember it being tested on a few things, like isle of dread and Dead in Thay
Technically it was playtested on whatever people wanted to use it to run. But the initial playtest packets came with Caves of Chaos, and the monster stat blocks in the those early packets were the ones needed for said dungeon. The Isle of Dread and the necessary stat blocks to run it were added later, and a third, original adventure that involved helping in the reconstruction of a devastated Blingdenstone was eventually added as well. The Sundering adventures (Murder in Baldur’s Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard, Dead in Thay, and I think another I can’t remember the name of) were system-neutral, and the open portion of tge playtest was mostly finalized by the time they came out. Ghosts of Dragonspear castle was written specifically for the playtest rules, but likewise the open playtest had ended by then.

I do believe internal playtesting was done with a wider variety of adventures, but there was definitely a heavy focus on classic dungeon crawls - literally conversions of classic modules, not just ones made in the same style. I remember at one point the design team live-streamed themselves playtesting… I think it was Against the Slave Lords? There was a particularly infamous moment in that stream where the party was nearly TPK’d by Ghouls, which were even nastier at that point in the playtest and IIRC ended up resulting in their paralysis getting nerfed, or maybe it was their CR getting increased.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Technically it was playtested on whatever people wanted to use it to run. But the initial playtest packets came with Caves of Chaos, and the monster stat blocks in the those early packets were the ones needed for said dungeon. The Isle of Dread and the necessary stat blocks to run it were added later, and a third, original adventure that involved helping in the reconstruction of a devastated Blingdenstone was eventually added as well. The Sundering adventures (Murder in Baldur’s Gate, Legacy of the Crystal Shard, Dead in Thay, and I think another I can’t remember the name of) were system-neutral, and the open portion of tge playtest was mostly finalized by the time they came out. Ghosts of Dragonspear castle was written specifically for the playtest rules, but likewise the open playtest had ended by then.

I do believe internal playtesting was done with a wider variety of adventures, but there was definitely a heavy focus on classic dungeon crawls - literally conversions of classic modules, not just ones made in the same style. I remember at one point the design team live-streamed themselves playtesting… I think it was Against the Slave Lords? There was a particularly infamous moment in that stream where the party was nearly TPK’d by Ghouls, which were even nastier at that point in the playtest and IIRC ended up resulting in their paralysis getting nerfed, or maybe it was their CR getting increased.
Interesting. I wonder if they went too far with ghouls though. I love the idea of them and try to use them in lots of places, but they just get absolutely wrecked every time by the PCs. I can't remember the last time anyone was even paralyzed, if ever.
 

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