D&D 5E The Decrease in Desire for Magic in D&D


log in or register to remove this ad


Micah Sweet

Legend
In my experience, people don’t have too many issues playing within certain boundaries, but when these boundaries are expanded, people are very reluctant to reduce them or keep them narrow.
True, but the boundaries were expanded years ago and are continuing to expand AND show no signs of going back, so the effect is the same.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I would argue that it would have made little difference since there are very few mentions of meals or supplies between Rivendell and Lothlorien.
Food and water are an issue brought up often once Sam and Frodo break off and head to Mordor. But food and supplies only come up in fiction when it matters like going to the toilet only comes up when it matters.

Exactly. If it were an RPG, all the way to the west gate the DM would just narrate that water and food are plentiful. Then, when it matters to the story, lack of light and food and water become an adversary.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I would say that this is more about a disconnect between what the DM thinks would be fun vs what the players think would be fun, than anything inherent to the system.

Yeah I think that's often the issue when DMs ask for rules to make the players do what the DM wants them to do.

And...I think there's something to be said for normalizing modes of play by enshrining them in official rules/options. In my experience, variant rules from the DMG are more easily accepted than pure house rules.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
It does seem like there are just not enough players out there who find limits of any kind fun, and so the issue will continue to snowball.
I don't think it's that. IMO, it's that a lot of DMs aren't great on selling people on this kind of idea.

If you are essentially leading with, "Check out my new campaign, now with 100% more tedium!" many players are going to be (understandably) turned off.

Now compare that with something like a West Marches campaign, which often come packaged with similar "tedious" options, but in a much more attractive box. I've seen lots of interest on the internet for West Marches campaigns, despite it being fundamentally based on an old-school sandbox model of play, because it's been sold well to players. First by Ben Robbins (even though he wasn't trying to sell anything, his articles captivate the imagination) and later by others like Matt Colville (who've also done a great job selling the idea).

IMO, if you want to sell players on this, the best thing to do is to fire their excitement and imagination on the idea. For example, you might regale them with stories from a previous campaign. If you can't get them excited about the idea, I think you either need to reexamine your pitch, or accept that this group isn't the right fit for that style of campaign.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I don't think it's that. IMO, it's that a lot of DMs aren't great on selling people on this kind of idea.

If you are essentially leading with, "Check out my new campaign, now with 100% more tedium!" many players are going to be (understandably) turned off.

Now compare that with something like a West Marches campaign, which often come packaged with similar "tedious" options, but in a much more attractive box. I've seen lots of interest on the internet for West Marches campaigns, despite it being fundamentally based on an old-school sandbox model of play, because it's been sold well to players. First by Ben Robbins (even though he wasn't trying to sell anything, his articles captivate the imagination) and later by others like Matt Colville (who've also done a great job selling the idea).

IMO, if you want to sell players on this, the best thing to do is to fire their excitement and imagination on the idea. For example, you might regale then with stories from a previous campaign. If you can't get them excited about the idea, I think you either need to either reexamine your pitch, or accept that this group isn't the right fit for that style of campaign.
What is a West Marches campaign?
 


If there were official guidance on what classes/subclasses/spells/rules to include or exclude based on setting, the DM could say, “We are going to play (setting type); use the standard list to see what options are allowed”. I for one would find that useful.
More than that…experienced DMs are pretty good, but newer DMs might want to give a more specific experience but overlook certain abilities that should have been removed. Like the fact that paladins are immune to disease in a campaign where exposure to disease is a serious threat.
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
From my perspective everything has come about because the focus of D&D 5E has changed dramatically from where it was 40 years ago:

Story over game.

Why do people think Tiny Hut breaks "the game"? Because people want to use 5E as the same game they did 40 years ago, where you have resources you have to manage in order to survive long enough to get to where you are going to win your prize (treasure, gold, whatever.) But 5E doesn't care about that "game" all that much. <snip>

Darkvision is the same thing-- a way to skip an endlessly repetitive set of "monsters surprise you from the darkness!" attacks because now you can see them more often than not. Isn't that always the clarion call of DMs who complain about the proliferation of Darkvision? <snip>

I know this rubs a lot of past edition players the wrong way... especially those DMs who say "story" comes out of what the PCs do through random excursions and wanderings across an open map, and not an adventure path throughline that the DM has running in the background and which the players will pick up on and probably engage with to campaign completion. But I don't believe that is what 5E is. Here's my honest belief: 5E is not a game built for sandbox play.

It isn't designed to have a handful of characters just going out with a pack of supplies that have to keep track of on "adventures", trying to survive in the wilds, fighting monsters, and looking for treasure. That's a game style of older editions. It's not for 5E. And we can just go down the line of every class feature and spell that does its level best to erase a facet of AD&D "survival game" play. And yet because 5E is the Game Du Jour... people try to use it that way and get constantly annoyed that it doesn't really work to their satisfaction (without a heavy dose of modification.)

But for the rest of us... mostly probably newer players and occasionally older schmucks like me who actually prefer Story-based play and couldn't give a rat's ass about "random encounter tables" or having to detour from the adventure for three days to go look for fresh water because our "waterskins are running low"... having Adventure Path campaigns and an emphasis on Narrative over Game makes 5E our preferred edition. And in that regard... whether you have magic or not doesn't really matter because you can't use magic to skip the Story. The Story takes the availability of magic into account.
I agree that there are more players these days who favor the story they're developing as part of the game over the resource management minigame. That said, I think there are problems with the specifics of the analysis. Any analysis pointing at things like darkvision or Leomund's Tiny Hut as indicators that the game is different now forgets that both were present in 1e 40 years ago. I recognize that acquisition of specific spells has changed over the years, but it's not like PC wizards couldn't see out and trade for LTH unless the DM blocked access to it. Most demi-humans had infravision. And clerics had ways to avoid the food/water issue. As I see it, the difference with those issues between D&D from 40 years ago and 5e are just a minor matter of degree. There's a whole lot of nostalgic haze and individual table traditions being peered through when trying to compare the two editions on concrete issues of resource management.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Exactly. If it were an RPG, all the way to the west gate the DM would just narrate that water and food are plentiful. Then, when it matters to the story, lack of light and food and water become an adversary.
It is also a game and unless you presell the notion not paying attention to supplies up to a certain point and then it becomes an issue you are in effect doing some rug pulling in that you are changing the rules part way through the game.
Now, I have never got to try it, but it is one of the things I like about AIME Journey rules was that you do this in an abstract way by changing the terrain hostility without the minutiae of tracking every gram of bean, bacon and hardtack the PC are carrying.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
It is also a game and unless you presell the notion not paying attention to supplies up to a certain point and then it becomes an issue you are in effect doing some rug pulling in that you are changing the rules part way through the game.
Now, I have never got to try it, but it is one of the things I like about AIME Journey rules was that you do this in an abstract way by changing the terrain hostility without the minutiae of tracking every gram of bean, bacon and hardtack the PC are carrying.

There are ways to make challenges out of food & water without "tracking every gram" of supplies.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
That’s an interesting take.

IMO, darkness and hunger are, or at least should/can be, part of the story. Imagine the fellowship of the ring going through Moria with darkvision and goodberries. Booooring.
At what point in Fellowship did the party not being able to see very far with their light sources, or being able to eat or not actually play into their traversal of the Mines? (I'm presuming movie here, as I do not know the books well enough to know the changes.) As far as I can remember... neither of those things came up. The group had torches and light sources that allowed them to see, and we never saw the actually three days of their traversal of them eating, sleeping or whatever.

Instead, it went from story beat to story beat-- getting into the Mines, noticing they were being followed by Gollum, the "skill challenge" of Gandalf deciding which path to take, finding the tomb, the fight within the tomb, the run and jump across the collapsing staircase, the awakening of the Balrog, and the stand-off at the bridge and them running away as Gandalf sacrifices himself.

Now if you wanted to add Darkness and a lack of food into the story... the DM would just need to set up rules within the Mines where Darkvision and Goodberry just don't work. That's completed doable. Now yes, some DMs and players might very well call that "cheating" because the DM is inventing a magic or a lack of magic for this encounter site that "the game rules" don't have in any of the books... but that's why this is 5E and not AD&D. in 5E the DM can just say this encounter site has been so overcome with infernal magic from digging down the the Balrog that any Goodberries produced come up rotten, and the entire Mine is overcome with essentially a Darkness magic that requires magical light sources to illuminate (like Gandalf's staff.)

We do this... and now both of these are part of THIS Story. This one time. Because it is different and original for the party than what they are used to. And that makes it more compelling (to a certain segment of the gaming populace) than having to deal with darkness and food every single in-game day. Because at that point, it's not a Story, it's just a Standard Operating Procedure that every party comes up with when find ways to deal with the exact same issues over and over and over again.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I agree that there are more players these days who favor the story they're developing as part of the game over the resource management minigame. That said, I think there are problems with the specifics of the analysis. Any analysis pointing at things like darkvision or Leomund's Tiny Hut as indicators that the game is different now forgets that both were present in 1e 40 years ago. I recognize that acquisition of specific spells has changed over the years, but it's not like PC wizards couldn't see out and trade for LTH unless the DM blocked access to it. Most demi-humans had infravision. And clerics had ways to avoid the food/water issue. As I see it, the difference with those issues between D&D from 40 years ago and 5e are just a minor matter of degree. There's a whole lot of nostalgic haze and individual table traditions being peered through when trying to compare the two editions on concrete issues of resource management.
I would say a major issue of degree, and also not that these spells didn't all work exactly the same in earlier editions as they do now. And access, combined with how many spells one could cast in a day and how they are memorized, has also become quite a bit easier in the current era. Those aren't small things, and they all combine.
 

And...I think there's something to be said for normalizing modes of play by enshrining them in official rules/options. In my experience, variant rules from the DMG are more easily accepted than pure house rules.
The DMG needs to be better…a lot better. Far too often, it throws out different approaches and rule variants in a haphazard and unsystematized fashion. That is why people cite it both in favor and against fudging rolls.

Identify the main types of variant play. Devote a proper 3-4 pages to the changes to the base game to accommodate that type of game. Actually playtest the variant rules.

If you need space, cut the 20 pages of Manual of the planes. My experience is that there are many more tables that want to run an exploration focussed game than a plane-hopping one.
 


Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Actually thinking about spell lists and how they impact play seems like a thing.

I remember trying to balance things some back in 2e when I made a suite of custom clerics for a campaign. Later, PF 1e had separate lists for all kinds of classes too, right? (Say for the Magus or others that we're limited by theme).
This definitely has thematic value even if you can still get only the most powerful options within the more limited list, but it makes it easier to balance to so that happens less. Easy multiclassing kind of defeats the concept quite a bit.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Exactly. If it were an RPG, all the way to the west gate the DM would just narrate that water and food are plentiful. Then, when it matters to the story, lack of light and food and water become an adversary.
And then it could be basically part of a skill challenge
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top