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D&D General The DM Shortage


As presented, those "basic" rules are 180 pages. You wouldn't lose much by cutting down the levels.

On the cleric you'd only save 2 or 5 paragraphs by stopping at 14th or 3rd, respectively. So somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 a page. For the fighter you'd save 7 paragraphs by cutting things down to 3rd level...which is about 1/2 a page. The rogue, 11 paragraphs, so somewhere between 1/2 and a full page. The wizard saves about 11 paragraphs if the basic rules are cut down to 3rd level and saves 4 paragraphs if cut down to 14th level.

Spells you'd lose pages. At 3rd level you can cast 2nd-level spells, at 14th level you can cast 7th-level spells. You'd save about 12 1/2 pages if the game stopped at 3rd level. You'd save a few pages by stopping at 14th level as there's only 16 spells of 8th or 9th level...being generous let's say that's 5 pages.

Monsters are iffy at best. It depends on how the referee runs things. Do you need a CR17 dragon if your PCs can only go to 3rd level? Yes, because dragons still exist in the world regardless of the PCs' level. No, because at that point dragons are a plot point rather than a creature to fight.

So these "basic" rules would be about 164 1/2 pages long if they only went to 3rd level. So a total savings of 15 1/2 pages. Wow. That's so much shorter.

Augh! I have work to finish! Don't make me try it to find out!

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B/X Known World
The game is complex because of its exception-based design. Things work one way unless you have a special ability or a spell, that then interacts with this other ability to produce this unexpected effect, etc.
Exactly. It's weird how the argument for unified mechanics says that having different subsystems working differently is bad and eats up time...but almost nothing is said about how all those exceptions are just as bad and also a time sink. Either way, you're looking things up, memorizing them, or making it up yourself.
But it's interesting because the "dm tools" consist in monster statblocks, a short selection of misc random items, and rules for building "balanced" encounters. For how sparse the rules are, and for how much they lean on DM adjudication, you'd expect maybe 10-20 or so pages of general dm advice plus scenario-building procedures.
I think that's part of the problem.
It's also absurd that the basic rules purport to cover levels 1-20. Is anyone playing 20th level 5e with just the basic rules?
Most people don't play 20th level even with the full rules.


CR 1/8
So... what topics do people think would constitute useful "DM Advice" for D&D specifically? Not the advice itself, just the topics, like what would the chapter subheadings look like?


Professor DM has a response to Questing Beast's video.

Professor DM rubs me the wrong way with his "toxic things your dad says" sort of opinions. I think that he misunderstands Chris Perkins's (likely) goals for re-writing the DMG for new DMs. His message at the end, for example, does not seem to be about empowering DMs in the way that Chris Perkins likely imagines. IMHO, it's less about empowering DMs to be the God-Kings of the game and more about empowering DMs to run the game with confidence and making informed rulings. But that's my own impression of WotC's aims based on past impressions of WotC's staff and comments they have made. 🤷‍♂️


I guess that's what @Sacrosanct did!
Kinda. With Bugbears&Borderlands, I stripped down to the core of 5e's rules*, went up to level 10 (where most players stop around there), and kept all the core races and while only 3 classes, gave customization options (backgrounds with feat-like abilities) and something at every level. 5e official basic is all the same rules as the main game. IMO, that isn't basic. So I gave the Tom Moldvay approach to 5e.

*some of the things removed were:
  • no bonus actions (everything is an action or free action
  • no concentration for spells
  • no ability scores (only the modifiers are given, no actual score)
  • no feats
  • simplified weapons and armor (light armor give X bonus, medium gives Y, etc. Light weapons do 1d6, medium do 1d8, etc).

This could be solved if OSR groups invested into public relations and marketing themselves!
That's exactly the problem I'm talking about; OSRians seem to operate under the impression that the OSR is the solution to EVERYTHING, and the only reason someone doesn't like the OSR is because they don't understand or don't know enough about the OSR. It couldn't possibly be that... they actually want something else! Dun-dun-DUUUUUUNNNNN!

I think the clear null hypothesis is that the OSR style is clearly a smaller plurality than other styles, and always will be. The majority of players want something other than what the OSR offers.

I'm not making this conclusion based on this supposed data, though—it's one I've been noodling around with since before the OSR even existed or had a label at all. Frankly, I've been noodling around with this idea since before Tracy Hickman started at TSR and blew out the bank by catering to demand that clearly existed for something other than what TSR had been doing up until that point. I do think that Ben's data, for whatever its worth, supports the idea that the null hypothesis is that doubling down on OSRian tropes is NOT the answer to the problem, because the reason that 5e players aren't playing OSR games NOW is because they don't want to play OSR games.

UPDATE: Let me add a clarification, though. I do think that 5e does a number of things poorly, however, with regards to new players and how to engage them and how to encourage them to DM. I think that "modern" D&D could learn a number of things from the OSR, and unlearn a number of really bad habits that have been kicking around since the release of AD&D, if not even sooner, especially with regards to growing the audience and maintaining the audience. But that's a far cry from suggesting that the OSR is the cure for whatever ails you.

And as a matter of full disclosure, I play neither 5e nor OSR games. My own style is one that I call "old fashioned, but not old school" and my preferred game is quite rules-lite, but also very efficient and well written. Something like Microlite would be my Holy Grail of gaming, being played in a manner that is probably best reflected by Perkins' DM Experience column from back in the 4e days.
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