5E Too many choices? (Options Paralysis)

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
A month ago we took a pause in our regular game so one of the players could start running Curse of Straud. Yesterday we had our second session and finished our first adventure, making 3rd level.

Now, our "normal" DM, was looking at his character and couldn't decide what he wanted to take for his 3rd level. He kept going back and forth, weighing different options and such. Finally, he sat back and said something along the lines of "this sucks, there are too many choices...".

I laughed. This is his first time playing 5E as a player since he normally runs the game. After the game broke up, we chatted for a while before I went home. Basically, the conversation revolved around 5E and all the choices.

He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so. Finally, we ended with sort of a point to discuss next time at our table:

Two issues (for us) any way with options paralysis:
1. Multiclassing expands choices by 5-10 fold depending on the classes you qualify for.

2. Too many subclasses don't appeal to us, so choosing one is difficult.

To #2, Paladin's are a problem. The current adventure has the 2nd paladin our group has seen since we started a year ago. And in both cases, we homebrewed the oath because none of the ones we had "fit".

For my own character, at reaching 3rd level, I had to decide between 1st level Fighter, or picking my subclass. I chose the College of Swords. It gave me the TWF style and medium armor. I am not thrilled about the flourishes, since I see using the bardic influences in other ways. Still, the decision took me until today to make it... And I have been playing since we started.

How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
 

EthanSental

Explorer
None. Typically our group already has a play style to theme in mind for a character. We did have 1 player that was a power gamer that researched builds online but overall, pretty quick decision making process at key levels.
 

the Jester

Legend
How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
I have a mix of newbie players, veterans who have played for years, and people who have played a few older editions "back in the day" but not for years. So far, I have never seen anyone need more than maybe an hour to decide on level up options, and I offer a ton of homebrewed content (e.g. at least three to five subclasses for each class).

So, not too much of an issue.

That doesn't mean it's not an issue for other groups, though- every group is different.
 

MarkB

Hero
Most players in our games have a pretty good idea what they're going to pick at next level long before it comes around. The exception to that is spellcasters when they gain access to a new level of spells - that can be a daunting list for some players to work through.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A month ago we took a pause in our regular game so one of the players could start running Curse of Straud. Yesterday we had our second session and finished our first adventure, making 3rd level.

Now, our "normal" DM, was looking at his character and couldn't decide what he wanted to take for his 3rd level. He kept going back and forth, weighing different options and such. Finally, he sat back and said something along the lines of "this sucks, there are too many choices...".

I laughed. This is his first time playing 5E as a player since he normally runs the game. After the game broke up, we chatted for a while before I went home. Basically, the conversation revolved around 5E and all the choices.

He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so. Finally, we ended with sort of a point to discuss next time at our table:

Two issues (for us) any way with options paralysis:
1. Multiclassing expands choices by 5-10 fold depending on the classes you qualify for.

2. Too many subclasses don't appeal to us, so choosing one is difficult.

To #2, Paladin's are a problem. The current adventure has the 2nd paladin our group has seen since we started a year ago. And in both cases, we homebrewed the oath because none of the ones we had "fit".

For my own character, at reaching 3rd level, I had to decide between 1st level Fighter, or picking my subclass. I chose the College of Swords. It gave me the TWF style and medium armor. I am not thrilled about the flourishes, since I see using the bardic influences in other ways. Still, the decision took me until today to make it... And I have been playing since we started.

How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
For us, we nearly always know what subclass we want before session 1 begins. We often begin play at 3rd level, when everyone has their subclass.

Even when we do start at one, we know what the concept is, and generally that includes subclass and a couple feats.

This isn’t an optimization thing, it’s just that we generally want to play a Bladesinger more than we want to play a wizard, if that makes sense.

Still, sometimes the “none of these subclasses appeal to us so we homebrew” does hit us. I’m surprised by Paladin Oaths, though. They’re pretty broad, so I always figured they’re pretty easy to flavor how you want?
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Well, the sad thing was during our conversation he actually seemed annoyed? maybe even a little depressed? that there were so many options. I really think it was a case of so much he wanted to do/try and knew he wouldn't get the chance to do it all. I know he's DM'd over 90% of the time from what I've played with him and he indicates about past groups. He seemed to have a lot of fun playing (and his character was good, effective, and fun to have), so I don't know.

Still, sometimes the “none of these subclasses appeal to us so we homebrew” does hit us. I’m surprised by Paladin Oaths, though. They’re pretty broad, so I always figured they’re pretty easy to flavor how you want?
The first paladin (in the other game that is paused for now) we created an "Oath of Protection". For CoS, the character's oath is more akin to a grave domain cleric I guess. It isn't my character so I don't know for certain.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
A month ago we took a pause in our regular game so one of the players could start running Curse of Straud. Yesterday we had our second session and finished our first adventure, making 3rd level.

Now, our "normal" DM, was looking at his character and couldn't decide what he wanted to take for his 3rd level. He kept going back and forth, weighing different options and such. Finally, he sat back and said something along the lines of "this sucks, there are too many choices...".

I laughed. This is his first time playing 5E as a player since he normally runs the game. After the game broke up, we chatted for a while before I went home. Basically, the conversation revolved around 5E and all the choices.

He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so. Finally, we ended with sort of a point to discuss next time at our table:

Two issues (for us) any way with options paralysis:
1. Multiclassing expands choices by 5-10 fold depending on the classes you qualify for.

2. Too many subclasses don't appeal to us, so choosing one is difficult.

To #2, Paladin's are a problem. The current adventure has the 2nd paladin our group has seen since we started a year ago. And in both cases, we homebrewed the oath because none of the ones we had "fit".

For my own character, at reaching 3rd level, I had to decide between 1st level Fighter, or picking my subclass. I chose the College of Swords. It gave me the TWF style and medium armor. I am not thrilled about the flourishes, since I see using the bardic influences in other ways. Still, the decision took me until today to make it... And I have been playing since we started.

How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
Honestly, in our 5e game there was NO options paralysis (in character creation/leveling up...sadly, plenty during play). If anything, our problem was the opposite.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Honestly, in our 5e game there was NO options paralysis (in character creation/leveling up...sadly, plenty during play). If anything, our problem was the opposite.
As in you didn't find enough options? Or you just knew what path/direction you wanted to take?
 

Eric V

Adventurer
As in you didn't find enough options? Or you just knew what path/direction you wanted to take?
Both. For the barbarian, it was the latter, and for the sorcerer it was the former (the limited options in this case was the limited number of spells known).

Because subclasses are pre-packaged suites of abilities, it's easier to plan out ahead what you might want; pretty much all my players had planned out 1-20 because there are actually very few actual decision points in leveling up, even if it sometimes seems like there are more.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Both. For the barbarian, it was the latter, and for the sorcerer it was the former (the limited options in this case was the limited number of spells known).

Because subclasses are pre-packaged suites of abilities, it's easier to plan out ahead what you might want; pretty much all my players had planned out 1-20 because there are actually very few actual decision points in leveling up, even if it sometimes seems like there are more.
I guess maybe that's a big part of the difference for us: no one plans out their characters to level 20. :unsure:
 

Eric V

Adventurer
I guess maybe that's a big part of the difference for us: no one plans out their characters to level 20. :unsure:
Do they have no idea what's happening next level? Like, subclass seems like something one knows going in, no? Everything else, well...it was obvious to the unarmored barbarian that ASIs were going to Str, Con, and GWM. That's it for his choices. The sorcerer player, with such limited spells known, felt pretty constrained in his choices, so his spell options became obvious to him.

So, it's not so much that they sat down to plan out their toons...it just sorta happens because of how the game is designed.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The first paladin (in the other game that is paused for now) we created an "Oath of Protection". For CoS, the character's oath is more akin to a grave domain cleric I guess. It isn't my character so I don't know for certain.
Ah, okay. I actually really think there ought to be more Paladin Oaths like an Oath of The Grave, and oaths for stuff like Eberron’s Silver Flame (protecting people from/fighting supernatural Evil, specifically), and like, Oaths for interesting Orders of knights like an Oath of The Moon, or a hermetic order of knights that focus on binding things, creating wards, guarding existing seals on demonic prisons, etc maybe called the Oath of The Goetic Circle.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Huh. Was the idea of just taking the next level of his current class such an odd idea that he got paralysis looking for anything BUT that?

If I thought there was too many options to choose from I just wouldn't go looking for any. I'd just stay with the same class, take the basic subclass for it, and go from there.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
A month ago we took a pause in our regular game so one of the players could start running Curse of Straud. Yesterday we had our second session and finished our first adventure, making 3rd level.

Now, our "normal" DM, was looking at his character and couldn't decide what he wanted to take for his 3rd level. He kept going back and forth, weighing different options and such. Finally, he sat back and said something along the lines of "this sucks, there are too many choices...".

I laughed. This is his first time playing 5E as a player since he normally runs the game. After the game broke up, we chatted for a while before I went home. Basically, the conversation revolved around 5E and all the choices.

He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so. Finally, we ended with sort of a point to discuss next time at our table:

Two issues (for us) any way with options paralysis:
1. Multiclassing expands choices by 5-10 fold depending on the classes you qualify for.

2. Too many subclasses don't appeal to us, so choosing one is difficult.

To #2, Paladin's are a problem. The current adventure has the 2nd paladin our group has seen since we started a year ago. And in both cases, we homebrewed the oath because none of the ones we had "fit".

For my own character, at reaching 3rd level, I had to decide between 1st level Fighter, or picking my subclass. I chose the College of Swords. It gave me the TWF style and medium armor. I am not thrilled about the flourishes, since I see using the bardic influences in other ways. Still, the decision took me until today to make it... And I have been playing since we started.

How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
2E was streamline and simplified from 1E. Much easier to learn and play.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so. Finally, we ended with sort of a point to discuss next time at our table:
(SNIP)
How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
You and your DM must have skipped 3e and 4e - the options have been pared down ENORMOUSLY since then - to the point where players of those editions were complaining of far too few options (myself included, for a time).

the simplest cure of option paralysis is to try to get an idea of the concept of your character and their method of dealing with problems and then sticking with that. Are they an up-close warrior? Do they prefer to spell-sling at range? Are they the type who loves to help other party members rather than get directly involved in taking out opposition? That should narrow down ideas quite a bit. When all else fails, just stick with next class level. Also, the basic D&D rules set is an option (the one that only gives like five races and four classes/subclasses.) that would eliminate pretty much every choice except for race, class, and background. Finally, there’s nothing wrong with the group just sticking to the core player handbook only - there’s a lot of choice just in that book alone.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Do they have no idea what's happening next level? Like, subclass seems like something one knows going in, no? Everything else, well...it was obvious to the unarmored barbarian that ASIs were going to Str, Con, and GWM. That's it for his choices. The sorcerer player, with such limited spells known, felt pretty constrained in his choices, so his spell options became obvious to him.

So, it's not so much that they sat down to plan out their toons...it just sorta happens because of how the game is designed.
Well, that is one direction to take a barbarian, but hardly the only one. If you had an idea from the beginning, the choice would be easy, but if you really don't... then there are other ways to go.

Take my choice, for example. I like Lore Bard for the extra skills, but wanted more combat and thought about dipping into Fighter to pick up a fighting style and maybe action surge. Ultimately I decided instead to go with Swords, getting some armor and a fighting style, and the bonus movement when attacking will be useful sometimes. I am losing out on the extra skills and earlier magical secrets, but I am getting some fighting benefits and keeping my 2nd level spells now when I will likely need them. Two different ways to get the same things... eventually.

Huh. Was the idea of just taking the next level of his current class such an odd idea that he got paralysis looking for anything BUT that?

If I thought there was too many options to choose from I just wouldn't go looking for any. I'd just stay with the same class, take the basic subclass for it, and go from there.
Sure. There are lots of times in our groups that people split away from their original class. And of course you can keep in the same class, but what if it doesn't fit your concept or get you where you want to go? Consider a Wizard who takes War Magic at 2nd level, but wants a feel similar to a bladesinger so starts picking up levels of fighter or something? When to do it? At what point do you make the switch?

And of course if you play your character as organic and not just a script, where you go can change easily. Note, I am not saying players shouldn't plan ahead or there is anything wrong with having a plan/build, just not the norm for our group.

2E was streamline and simplified from 1E. Much easier to learn and play.
Not to derail the thread too much, but I agree and disagree with this statement. Some of the things were simpler, but in options it became much more complex when you added in sourcebooks/kits/etc. and everything else 2E added.
 

Ashrym

Hero
I find most players either plan out their characters in advance, or they don't bother looking at all those options at all -- they just stick with the basic concept and stay the course.

The only thing resembling the issue in the OP I've seen is players who don't like giving up one option over another when they want both, but that's kind of the point of having meaningful choices in the first place; opportunity costs exist.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
Well, that is one direction to take a barbarian, but hardly the only one. If you had an idea from the beginning, the choice would be easy, but if you really don't... then there are other ways to go.
He felt all the other options were substandard by comparison. I couldn't quite disagree.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Too many choices? In my opinion, 5e doesn’t have enough. You get one choice of subclass and 0-4 ability score improvement/feat levels depending on how long the campaign goes, and that’s pretty much it. I guess multiclassing kind of opens up more choices, but you still follow the exact same progression as any other member of whatever classes you have. 5e has very, very little that distinguishes one character from any other of the same class.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
He and I grew up playing in the 70's and 80's. You had choices, but not tons, really. 2E got more complex, but not too much so.
Well, obviously your group (or at least this DM) never played 3E or Pathfinder, where character design decisions are normally made at level 1 for the life of the character. THAT is a system with too many options...
To #2, Paladin's are a problem. The current adventure has the 2nd paladin our group has seen since we started a year ago. And in both cases, we homebrewed the oath because none of the ones we had "fit".
The Paladin's lack of good sub-class has to do with the fact it's probably the best base class in the game. The sub-class is more flavor and a slight boost, rather than a defining feature.

How much is options paralysis an issue for your group? Is it just new players, or do experienced players have to take time to decide what direction they will go?
Generally new players will struggle a bit deciding their first sub-class, since they haven't really looked ahead. If you use Feats, level 4 will generally be even more complex.

Our group is mostly experienced, and while we normally start at level 3, even when we start at level 1, everyone already has their character concept in mind... they just have to wait to level into it. Most players usually even have their level 4 ASI/Feat in mind if we start at level 3. After level 4 our group often runs into some character decision issues, because this is normally beyond the original "concept" and into the details of the character (especially spellcasters).
 

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