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5E Tired of doing WotC's job

PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
Just gonna copypaste the dragon breath weapon vs antimagic field example from Sage Advice Compendium... seems people are overthinking things beyond that (and that the 5e team needs to hire a few more stylistic copyeditors...)

Is the breath weapon of a dragon magical?

If you cast antimagic field, don armor of invulnerability, or use another feature of the game that protects against magical or nonmagical effects, you might ask yourself, “Will this protect me against a dragon’s breath?” The breath weapon of a typical dragon isn’t considered magical, so antimagic field won’t help you but armor of invulnerability will.

You might be thinking, “Dragons seem pretty magical to me.” And yes, they are extraordinary! Their description even says they’re magical. But our game makes a distinction between two types of magic:

  • the background magic that is part of the D&D multiverse’s physics and the physiology of many D&D creatures
  • the concentrated magical energy that is contained in a magic item or channeled to create a spell or other focused magical effect
In D&D, the first type of magic is part of nature. It is no more dispellable than the wind. A monster like a dragon exists because of that magic-enhanced nature. The second type of magic is what the rules are concerned about. When a rule refers to something being magical, it’s referring to that second type. Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward. Ask yourself these questions about the feature:
  • Is it a magic item?
  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?
  • Is it a spell attack?
  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?
  • Does its description say it’s magical?
If your answer to any of those questions is yes, the feature is magical.

Let’s look at a white dragon’s Cold Breath and ask ourselves those questions. First, Cold Breath isn’t a magic item. Second, its description mentions no spell. Third, it’s not a spell attack. Fourth, the word “magical” appears nowhere in its description. Our conclusion: Cold Breath is not considered a magical game effect, even though we know that dragons are amazing, supernatural beings.
 

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Flamestrike

Adventurer
Lycanthropy is a Curse, and curses are generally conceived of as magical, in a conceptual framework.

Some, magic does work in the way you have detailed above, Flame.
Huh? What's flame?

I, assert, that most tables rule, that when a character, such as a Fiend Patron Warlock or Monk of the Long Death, get Temp HP for dropping creatures to Zero HP, something magical is occurring.
Something 'magical' is happening when an elf walks over and says hello, a 2 ton dragon flies or breathes fire, or a beholder hovers, or a demon enters the room.

There is magical, and there is magical though.

Dragon flight or Elves, or Warlocks gaining Temp HP, or Lycanthropy are not 'magical' for the purpose of game rules and effects. Abilities are only magical (for the purpose of rules and effects) if the ability or item says it is, its powered by spell slots, or explicitly replicates a spell or spell casting.
 



Flamestrike

Adventurer
Which is exactly my point, well said, Sir!
There are a ton of things that are supernatural or mystical in origin (Dragons, elves, demons, Warlocks etc) but they arent 'magical' for the purposes of game rules and effects.

The hard rule, is to look at the ability, effect or power. If it expressly states it's magical as in 'The creature magically teleports, along with all the gear it is carrying...' or 'the creature magically reduces the targets HP by..' or 'the creature reaches out with magical tendrils of force...' etc then it's magical.

Instead of (Sp) or (Su) this edition uses the powers text to tell you if it's magical or not.

Its magical if it says it is (the word 'magical, magic or magically' appear in the abilities text), it expressly or unambiguously emulates spellcasting or a named spell effects, or is powered by spell slots to function (smites etc).

For example a Sorcerers 'Font of Magic' class feature expressly uses the word 'magic' and it is powered by spell slots. It's thus magical, and doesnt function in an AMF.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don’t disagree with that in principle, but when doing so one should consider the different rules context. 5e does not have a detect shapechanger spell or differentiate between damage bonuses against magical creatures and damage bonuses against shapechangers, so the existence of such a delineation in AD&D doesn’t seem like a strong foundation on which to base a ruling for 5e.
But it could, couldn't it? I mean, in the absence of a specification that Detect Magic detects shapechangers, nothing is stopping that spell being introduced.

In any event, @Reynard restated my point well.

Related to the OP, though in a different system context: my group plays Prince Valiant, which has starting money for PCs but no equipment lists. We use the list from Pendragon. To me the idea of the absence of a cloak on the equipment list as a dealbreaker is a bit odd II'm pretty sure 4e D&D was no different from 5e in this respect) and the idea of using a list - if needed - from a similar game or past edition seems the obvious solution.
 

pemerton

Legend
letting people "happen to have" something doesn't have to be a license to have anything. And/or it could require a roll.
Fuly agreed. Action resolution can be used to resolve the declaration I reach into my pockets hoping to fish out my widget as much as I throw a punch at the orc to try and knock it down.

I agree with that, if there's some kind of in-game information to act on. But what if it's just a combination of a) buying everything in the PHB and b) having enough experience as a D&D player to know what kinds of things are useful?

Are those behaviors worth rewarding? Is that really "forethought" and "strategic planning", or gamism?
Here, on the other hand, I don't feel the force of the contrast your question draws. Part of knowing how to play the game is drawing on your experience. At least in the Gygaxian theory of play - not the only theory, of cousre, but one prominent one - it's precisely by drawing on your experience as a D&D player that you get better at the game and hence are more likely to (among other things) have the gear that you need.

I'd agree that buying ear trumpets and 10' poles isn't the most interesting way that that sort of skill can manifest (I'd say planning spell load outs is probably the pinnacle of that sort of "skilled play", at least in its prep aspects) but hopefully it's not the most interesting thing that happens in @Lanefan's game!

How does that have anything to do with realism. Have you ever needed something IRL, and somebody just happened to have it?
This reminded me of the time we had to go from the south side to the north side of the city, to get from family event A to birthday party B, and picked up a present and paper on the way through town. But as we were riding the tram north, the question came up - how are we going to wrap it? and lo and behold, my 10 year old daughter had scissors and sticky tape (and heaven knows what else) in her jacket pockets.

It was memorable enough that I still remember it a year later - but its realism is pretty irrefutable, given it really happened!
 

Aldarc

Legend
Related to the OP, though in a different system context: my group plays Prince Valiant, which has starting money for PCs but no equipment lists. We use the list from Pendragon. To me the idea of the absence of a cloak on the equipment list as a dealbreaker is a bit odd II'm pretty sure 4e D&D was no different from 5e in this respect) and the idea of using a list - if needed - from a similar game or past edition seems the obvious solution.
Different strokes for different folks. I find "equipment porn" to be off-putting in TTRPGs, but there are some people who love it in games like 3e D&D/Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, RuneQuest, etc.

I may be assuming too much, and maybe @dnd4vr can correct me here, but I doubt that the OP's issues with 5e amount to whether or not a cloak exists in the equipment list. What sometimes gets missed in a discussion like this by people all to ready to argue the details or retort back ("feature, not a bug") is that these things can be symptomatic of larger issues or points of incongruence with the play experience.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I don't think this is any different than when I first started in 1985. Ever GM and table is different. Some want more detail, others want less.
I'm reminded of a story I once heard, which I can't source and which might very well be apocryphal, that TSR once conducted a survey back when they were supporting Basic D&D and AD&D as separate game lines. They were shocked to find that a majority of DMs considered Basic D&D to be the more difficult game to run. It turned out that was because they found it more challenging to come up with rulings for Basic D&D, since it has less rules than AD&D.
 

pemerton

Legend
It's interesting to contrast with most modern games, in which the game engine is much more specific and curated and has the general expectation that all the players (including the GM) will run the game as written; but specific details are generally handwaved away. (Unless the game is specifically focused on equipment tracking as part of the game, as with some hybrids of newer games and OSR mentality.)
Listing each induvial item separately is a waste of time and space on a character sheet.
Of the various active campaigns my group has, some systems involve equipment lists and some don't.

Classic Traveller is gear-intensive. It's a slightly frustrating feature of the system. As is money tracking.

Prince Valiant involves gear lists. But once you get beyond your arms, armour and horse gear doesn't play a very big role in the game. The rules acknowledge this at least to some extent (p 41): "Money is often a tricky thing to handle. Because people from our economically-oriented culture demand such information, we give starting money, if any, for each Adventurer occupation. Remind your players that a modern concern for money is unrealistic for their characters."

Burning Wheel is a very modern game, but makes gear lists important. Items get lists separately, including cloaks and coils of rope. A GM is expected to "target" gear as one of the possible consequences of failed checks. There is no keeping track of money, but there is an abstract Resources system which can be pretty important. And also Scavenging and Foraging skills. Players are expected to take seriously the need to acquire gear if they want it for their shenanigans.

Cortex+ Heroic/MHRP, on the other hand, has no gear lists. Some gear is taken for granted as part of a PC's build (eg in our LotR Gandalf has Glamdring and Narya; and shutting down those abilities via the Gear limit is a particular sort of move in the context of play). Some gear is expressed mechanically through the creation of Assets and Resources (similar to Aspects in Fate). Some gear is just flavour, like Gandalf's hat.

DIfferent systems produce different experiences. As I've said, Classic Traveller can be a bit frustrating. Prince Valian would probably work better with an abstract wealth system. BW is gritty. Cortex+ Heroic, as the name suggests, is not.

TL;DR: I can get why someone might want a cloak called out on an equipment list, though I equally get that that's not the only way to do FRPGing.
 

pemerton

Legend
Different strokes for different folks.
I'd go further: different strokes for the same folks - I can enjoy more than one RPG!

I find "equipment porn" to be off-putting in TTRPGs, but there are some people who love it in games like 3e D&D/Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, RuneQuest, etc.
See my post just upthread: I can enjoy different systems, though I think that some systems are flawed because they didn't really have the tech - eg both Classic Traveller and Prince Valiant would probably be better with BW-style abstract wealth mechanics, and Prince Valiant would probably be better without equipment lists beyond arms, armour, horse and (if applicable) finery.

To elaborate: in Traveller, the question of whether we have a length of cable, or a communicator, or whatever, is important to play, just like gear in BW. But in Prince Valiant, it simply shouldn't be part of play whether or not the PCs have a length of rope or a knife to skin the rabbit they caught. Greg Stafford was a genius, and personally I think Prince Valiant is his best game (heresy, I know - he himself said Pendragon, but I think Prince Valiant is superior), but its approach to money and equipment is flawed.

I may be assuming too much, and maybe @dnd4vr can correct me here, but I doubt that the OP's issues with 5e amount to whether or not a cloak exists in the equipment list. What sometimes gets missed in a discussion like this by people all to ready to argue the details or retort back ("feature, not a bug") is that these things can be symptomatic of larger issues or points of incongruence with the play experience.
Sure. But I'm struggling a little bit to see what the larger issue is for which the absence of cloak pricing is symptomatic, epsecially for someone who has easy access to older editions' gear and price lists.

The lycanthropy thing I can appreciate more, although it seems the MM covers more of that than the OP implies.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm reminded of a story I once heard, which I can't source and which might very well be apocryphal, that TSR once conducted a survey back when they were supporting Basic D&D and AD&D as separate game lines. They were shocked to find that a majority of DMs considered Basic D&D to be the more difficult game to run. It turned out that was because they found it more challenging to come up with rulings for Basic D&D, since it has less rules than AD&D.
Well, there is certainly a sweet spot for how many rules are enough. A game can be defined on a single page or less. You can go to the opposite end of the spectrum and require a bookshelf full of rules to run a game properly.

D&D 5E seems to have hit that sweet spot for a whole heck of a lot of people but there is no pleasing everyone.
 



Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
I'd go further: different strokes for the same folks - I can enjoy more than one RPG!
Indeed. For example, tonight I'm running AD&D and all the characters have detailed equipment on their sheets. If it isn't written down, you don't have it. Yesterday night, I did run 5e. Magic items and special objects are tracked, but otherwise it is much more relaxed.
 

In a Doctor Who RPG there was a "Deep Pockets" skill. If you needed something, you made the roll (difficulty depending on the obscurity of the item). If you made the roll you are able to produce the item (or a furry jelly baby on a failed roll).
I've had similar skills in various homebrews.

I could even see a kind of sub-system, where you decide how much money you spend on gear, and that gives you a kind of "skill" in Having Stuff for the duration of the adventure. The DM then sets a DC depending on how esoteric the desired item is.

EDIT: I'll add that I recognize that some people really like mini-game of shopping for specific items. I get that. I used to enjoy that, too. Clearly one approach does not satisfy all people.
 

Lem23

Explorer
I lke the Trail of Cthulhu version (also found in several other Pelgrane rpgs) called Preparedness - something you have in your backpack or pockets that's usually only small but useful for a particular task. No long lists of gear, just the important stuff (weapons etc), just spend / roll your Preparedness and get on with the interesting parts rather than spending precious gaming time doing your grocery shopping..
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'd agree that buying ear trumpets and 10' poles isn't the most interesting way that that sort of skill can manifest (I'd say planning spell load outs is probably the pinnacle of that sort of "skilled play", at least in its prep aspects) but hopefully it's not the most interesting thing that happens in @Lanefan's game!
I'd hope so too! :)

That said, things sometimes do get interesting when a particular piece of mundane equipment would come in very handy right now and nobody has one...

(a relatively common example is winter gear e.g. parkas when a warm-weather party suddenly finds itself in a cold environment via teleport or plane shift or whatever)

Rations and water are another mundane item the lack of which can sometimes become problematic in a hurry, especially if the party has no-one able to cast Create (Food and) Water.
 


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