5E Too many choices? (Options Paralysis)

dnd4vr

Hero
Well, at least those are only at-level-up choices. In play choices, like, what spells to prepare, which spell to cast, etc, can have an even more chilling effect.

But, to address them (1) is optional, don't opt in, problem solved; (2) OK, there's 40 sub-classes just in the PH, and they've been adding them pretty rapidly. But, it's a choice you only make once, at low level, and it's over. Usually, it should be dictated by concept. Some concepts simply aren't covered by a class, yet, let alone a sub-class, and a big part of the problem isn't so much the number of choices as the lack of flexibility or the excessive specificity of many of them. If your concept is perfectly handled by a specific (sub-)class, you're fine, off you go. If not, you're stuck weighing the pros and cons of two or more un-satisfying options, and tinkering around with builds to try to finagle what you're after.
You know, this brings another thought to mind of cross-classing subclasses. I'll start a new thread: 5E - Cross-classing Subclasses and Multiple subclasses
 
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Seramus

Adventurer
Almost none. I have a little trying to decide what to play in the first place, but 5E has much fewer choices than almost any other edition. It's part of the appeal to newer players.
 

EthanSental

Explorer
My how the game, and player expectations, has changed when in 1e, a person couldn’t wait until his fighter leveled high enough to have multiple attacks a around at level 7! Only real choices were what color hair and eyes or the color of his cloak...usually to match a painted mini.
 

Coroc

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?
1. Just ban MC if it gives you a headache then it can not be good for you

2. So if many subclasses do not appeal for you than the remaining few do or did I miss something?

I can understand that a pally in a ravenloft campaign causes problems, especially a classic one (devotion).
Basically, if played correctly the devotion paladin in Ravenloft (almost any domain) is either on a suicide mission or about to be fallen any moment. Back in 2e there was an official! rule RAW that a lawful good paladin is shining like a beacon to a domain lord (=he is as good as dead) as soon as he enters a domain and the domain lord is always aware of where said pally is within half a mile or so.

My only recommendation for some of your problems is probably not to your taste:
Restrict, especially in non standard campaign worlds. Restrict MC, classes, subclasses, races, alignments.
It also prevents option paralysis when leveling up.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
1. Just ban MC if it gives you a headache then it can not be good for you

2. So if many subclasses do not appeal for you than the remaining few do or did I miss something?

I can understand that a pally in a ravenloft campaign causes problems, especially a classic one (devotion).
Basically, if played correctly the devotion paladin in Ravenloft (almost any domain) is either on a suicide mission or about to be fallen any moment. Back in 2e there was an official! rule RAW that a lawful good paladin is shining like a beacon to a domain lord (=he is as good as dead) as soon as he enters a domain and the domain lord is always aware of where said pally is within half a mile or so.

My only recommendation for some of your problems is probably not to your taste:
Restrict, especially in non standard campaign worlds. Restrict MC, classes, subclasses, races, alignments.
It also prevents option paralysis when leveling up.
I think with an alternative multiclassing rule we are probably going to use, classic multiclassing can be eliminated. That might help.

Sure, some of the subclasses are good, great even, but I've noticed we tend to veer towards certain choices. For instance, all druids so far have been moon druids. Most fighters have been champions. Most barbarians are totem warriors. And so on... It would be interesting to gather the group next time with all the characters to date and find out exactly what subclasses we've used as is...

The paladin is not in CoS (thankfully!), but in our other game. Same issue though with none of the paladin oaths being very appealing. Now, as others have said, the core class is basically good enough you almost don't need the subclass except for flavor and capstone features maybe.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So, surprised no one has mentioned this yet.

In behavioral economics, this is known as the paradox of choice (also referred to as overchoice or choice overload). One famous experiment* shows that when people have fewer choices of jam at the supermarket, they were more likely to buy jam.

In other words, while we always think we crave more choice, more choice is not, in fact, always helpful to most people, and can result in anxiety, choice paralysis, and an overall lowering of "happiness" and "utility."

So, there's that.


*As in most things social science, further meta-studies have shown mixed results, but more positive than not, for this effect. I think. Stuff happens fast nowadays.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
So, surprised no one has mentioned this yet.

In behavioral economics, this is known as the paradox of choice (also referred to as overchoice or choice overload). One famous experiment* shows that when people have fewer choices of jam at the supermarket, they were more likely to buy jam.

In other words, while we always think we crave more choice, more choice is not, in fact, always helpful to most people, and can result in anxiety, choice paralysis, and an overall lowering of "happiness" and "utility."

So, there's that.


*As in most things social science, further meta-studies have shown mixed results, but more positive than not, for this effect. I think. Stuff happens fast nowadays.
Good point. For myself, I enjoyed 1E a lot back in the day and choices weren't many (other than spell selections) for most characters. Most of the choices came in what you did, how you played, not in a plethora of class features/options.
 

Gadget

Explorer
You know, I think for the OP, maybe not using the Optional rule about multi-classing would help a great deal. I see so much of "picking up a level in x for ability a, then a couple of levels in y for b." That would really cut down on the option paralysis. Honestly, one of my big disappointments with 5e is that they went back to 3x style a la carte multi-classing.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
You know, I think for the OP, maybe not using the Optional rule about multi-classing would help a great deal. I see so much of "picking up a level in x for ability a, then a couple of levels in y for b." That would really cut down on the option paralysis. Honestly, one of my big disappointments with 5e is that they went back to 3x style a la carte multi-classing.
Honestly, I like multiclassing in the sense it allows you to alter your focus. For instance, a character can begin as one thing and develop into another through it. Without it, you are pigeon-holed into your core class forever and, well, characters should be able to develop and grow "outside the box" if they want to. The cost is potentially losing higher features in your base class, but IME that isn't a big thing at most tables since you don't see tier 4 (at least I haven't) often.
 

EthanSental

Explorer
Honestly, one of my big disappointments with 5e is that they went back to 3x style a la carte multi-classing.
Did enough people giving feedback in the play test appear to have wanted this option? not sure how much the feedback impacted the game since I wasn’t keeping up with D&D Next at the time. I’m not a fan of the ala carte dip here and than style either due to 3x burn out...still 12 years later.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So, surprised no one has mentioned this yet.

In behavioral economics, this is known as the paradox of choice (also referred to as overchoice or choice overload). One famous experiment* shows that when people have fewer choices of jam at the supermarket, they were more likely to buy jam.

In other words, while we always think we crave more choice, more choice is not, in fact, always helpful to most people, and can result in anxiety, choice paralysis, and an overall lowering of "happiness" and "utility."

So, there's that.


*As in most things social science, further meta-studies have shown mixed results, but more positive than not, for this effect. I think. Stuff happens fast nowadays.
Good point. That's why my next campaign is only going to have 1 option for class, race and build. I'm sure everyone can rest easy knowing they'll be playing a rapier wielding gnomish paladin. ;)
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
On a serious note, analysis paralysis is a thing in more areas than just PC builds. It's one of the reasons I've always been flexible and let people rebuild their PC if they really want to do so.

So they can make a choice and if it doesn't work out they can let me know and we'll do a training montage. I'd only say no to this if I thought someone was doing it for powergaming purposes instead of genuinely not liking their build.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Did enough people giving feedback in the play test appear to have wanted this option? not sure how much the feedback impacted the game since I wasn’t keeping up with D&D Next at the time. I’m not a fan of the ala carte dip here and than style either due to 3x burn out...still 12 years later.
Hard to say without access to WotC’s survey data, but online, opinions seemed split pretty much right down the middle on a la carte multiclassing. Multiclassing wasn’t even a thing in the open play tests until very late in the process, and the impression I got was that WotC really wanted to focus on getting the base classes right, and they’d figure out multiclassing later. My guess would be that of the people who wanted multiclassing at all the majority preferred a la carte, so they went with that and made it an optional rule.
 
Almost none. I have a little trying to decide what to play in the first place, but 5E has much fewer choices than almost any other edition. It's part of the appeal to newer players.
Well, 5e did try to be simpler than 3e or 4e at their most bloated.

But, 5e, in trying to be all editions to all past fans, ended up offering 12 classes in the PH. That's more than 4e PH1 (8), 3e PH1 (11), and certainly a lot more than a TSR era Basic set. Those 5e classes, among them, have 40 sub-classes. In 4e, it was builds (18 in total), and 3e had no comparable concept, except perhaps Domains (22) and Wizard specialization (8). 2e Kits weren't in the PH, and in 1e & earlier sub-classes were comparable choices to the 4 parent classes.

But, that's really nothing compared to in-play complexity, within classes. In 1e, if f you were a wizard, you randomly determined which of 30 1st level spells you could know, and which 3 spells you had in your book (plus Read Magic) and picked one of those to memorize each day (so, really, you had 3 meaningful spells you needed to familiarize yourself with to begin playing the character), and decide whether to finally cast that one spell, or keep throwing darts or whatever. By 4e, that complexity had increased: your PH1 wizard picked 2 at-wills from a list of 5, an encounter from a list of 5, and 2 dailies from a list of 4, you then prepared one of those 2 dailies. So you had to be familiar with 14 spells, not merely 3, to make the initial choices, and get used to choosing between those 2 dailies, and among the 4 options in total available at the start of each round, and you always had at least two of those options, the at-wills, available, you probably never threw darts, though you might've occasionally taken an OA with your staff.

Fortunately, 5e simplified things: a wizard in 5e picks 3 cantrips from a list of 14 and 6 1st-level spells, from a list 27, then, each day prepares 1+INT mod of those known spells, then, decides, each round which cantrip to cast or whether to use one of his two slots for the day to cast any of the spells he's prepared that day. So that' s just enough familiarity with about 40 spells to make an informed choice at chargen, then decide on one of 4+INT mod casting options each round, until you're out of slots, when it drops to 3.

Yeah, so much simpler, no analysis paralysis, here.

So, when you're talking the game, as encountered initially by new players, 5e is one of the more complicated editions. But, once you factor in all the core books and supplements, it's not nearly as choice-rich, for experienced players, as 4e, 3e, or 2e.

As befits a compromise design, I suppose.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
That's funny. the topic of "too many subclasses" has been talked to death in another thread. A lot of people for some reason see "class bloat" as a problem but not "subclass bloat". This is kind of nonsensical since it's kind of easier to parse classes and remove options you don't want players to have than it is subclasses.

Personally, I'm an all-in kind of GM and will usually just help narrow choices down for players. I expect that as sort of the mentorship of orienting new players. I can see that being difficult for less experienced GMs. I'd say if you're newer and not totally comfortable with this that you start with a PBH only campaign.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
That's funny. the topic of "too many subclasses" has been talked to death in another thread. A lot of people for some reason see "class bloat" as a problem but not "subclass bloat". This is kind of nonsensical since it's kind of easier to parse classes and remove options you don't want players to have than it is subclasses.
A class defines the overall structure, all subclasses share the majority of their rules with the class. If there is a new class it should play substantially different than other classes.

That's why I don't see subclass bloat as an issue, or at least less of an issue than class bloat. If someone is playing a rogue I know what that means and I only need to remember a handful of minor differences. Even if those minor differences include whether or not they can cast spells.
 
A class defines the overall structure, all subclasses share the majority of their rules with the class. If there is a new class it should play substantially different than other classes.
Sure: it'd be undesireable if two or more of the classes in the PH, at, say, 10th level, all found themselves wondering, each round, "hmmm... should I cast one of my several at-will cantrips, or expend one of my 15 spell slots to cast one of the dozen or so spells of up to 5th level that I have available? IDK ... maybe I should just up-cast Hold Person? "

No point adding a Psion that's just gonna do the same thing as the Wizard in that example...

...or is it a Cleric? Bard? Sorcerer?

:🤷:
 
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Einlanzer0

Explorer
A class defines the overall structure, all subclasses share the majority of their rules with the class. If there is a new class it should play substantially different than other classes.

That's why I don't see subclass bloat as an issue, or at least less of an issue than class bloat. If someone is playing a rogue I know what that means and I only need to remember a handful of minor differences. Even if those minor differences include whether or not they can cast spells.
I would agree with this if classes were primarily designed around mechanics, but they aren't - they're primarily designed around fantasy themes. This makes things a lot more complex.

The truth is this is a very MMO way of looking at class design; it's not that compatible with pnp D&D.
 

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