What criticisms do you have for current or previously used systems?

What criticisms do you have for current or previously used systems?

  • (Combat) Combat too “ad hoc” or “hand wavy”

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • (Combat) Combat too slow/involved/complex

    Votes: 16 44.4%
  • (Combat) Inaccurate challenge ratings

    Votes: 12 33.3%
  • (Combat) Overly “cinematic” combat

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • (Combat) Overly “realistic” combat

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Combat) Overly combat focused

    Votes: 10 27.8%
  • (Combat) Overly tactical combat

    Votes: 8 22.2%
  • (Core Rules) Balance issues

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Core Rules) Dice system (dice pools, specialty dice, number of dice types used)

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • (Core Rules) Excessive work required to build adventures

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Core Rules) Incongruent incentives for advancement

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • (Core Rules) Insufficient risk/danger to PCs

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Core Rules) Lack of “fail forward” mechanic

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Core Rules) Lack of skill synergy

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Core Rules) Lack of subsystems for non-combat play

    Votes: 15 41.7%
  • (Core Rules) Lack of system for character personality, motivations, nature, goals (e.g. BIFT, Passio

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • (Core Rules) Lacks horizontal character growth

    Votes: 10 27.8%
  • (Core Rules) Overly dangerous/deadly to PCs

    Votes: 7 19.4%
  • (Core Rules) Overly reliant on a DM/GM/referee

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • (Core Rules) Overly reliant on modifiers/math

    Votes: 8 22.2%
  • (Core Rules) Roleplay too systemized

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • (Core Rules) Simplistic pass/fail mechanics

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Core Rules) Skill list overly big/long/specialized

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Core Rules) Starting PCs are too powerful

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Core Rules) Starting PCs not powerful enough

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Core Rules) System not scalable for different party sizes

    Votes: 7 19.4%
  • (Core Rules) Unclear roles and constraints between GM and players at the table

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • (Core Rules) Unclear, inconsistent or overly involved subsystems (skills, spells, saving throws, mon

    Votes: 10 27.8%
  • (Dynamics) Lack of mechanics for pushing story narrative

    Votes: 7 19.4%
  • (Dynamics) Overemphasis on roleplay

    Votes: 1 2.8%
  • (Dynamics) Rules effects need to better represent other media (TV, film, books, comics)

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • (Dynamics) Rules effects overly represent other media (TV, film, books, comics)

    Votes: 1 2.8%
  • (Dynamics) Rules feel overly heavy/crunchy

    Votes: 9 25.0%
  • (Dynamics) Rules feel overly light/barebones

    Votes: 11 30.6%
  • (Dynamics) Style over substance

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • (Dynamics) System doesn’t fit the setting well

    Votes: 8 22.2%
  • (Dynamics) System tended to result in GM as sole storyteller

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • (Dynamics) Underemphasis on roleplay

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • (Rulebook) Art, layout, editing, writing

    Votes: 7 19.4%
  • (Rulebook) Not enough advice for GMs creating their own adventures

    Votes: 8 22.2%
  • (Rulebook) Rule explanations are unclear

    Votes: 13 36.1%
  • (Rulebook) Rules are poorly organized/hard to find

    Votes: 20 55.6%
  • (Rulebook) Rules feel incomplete

    Votes: 12 33.3%
  • (Rulebook) System needs more content (subclasses, adventures, systems)

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • (Social) Difficult to shift mindset from previous system(s)

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • (Social) Missed access to IP resources from other systems (iconic monsters, spells)

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • (Social) Prefer GMless group story building

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • (Social) System fatigue

    Votes: 4 11.1%
  • Other (describe below):

    Votes: 3 8.3%
  • (Dynamics) Overemphasis on “story”

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • (Dynamics) Overemphasis on “realism”

    Votes: 4 11.1%

This is the third in a series of polls gauging the overall temperature of the community and how well they are enjoying the games they play. Thanks for all the great responses so far, they have been incredibly enlightening!

This third question drills down and expands on some of the previous feedback and looks at the issues you have or had with your current or past roleplaying systems. The poll is anonymous and generic, so don't worry about what other folks think. There is no to need elaborate any further in the comments unless you want to.

This question is multiple choice -- choose as many items as apply to the criticisms you have with your current or past system(s). Some of these have already been stated in comments for the previous polls, but now we'll have a chance to quantify those comments. You'll note that there is no specific system attached to any of these criticisms -- the objective is to gain a broad overview of the activities of systems that are failing to meet the expectations of individuals. The list is quite long, and I am positive it is not comprehensive! Be sure to select Other if you want to add an item in comments.

Clarification 1: If you have critiques about multiple systems that are fairly alike, you can list them together here. However, if you find the criticisms of each system to be substantially different, prioritize the one where you have the most complaints or the one you would like most to improve, whichever best suits your situation.

Clarification 2: This question is about criticisms you personally have about the system(s), not what your l your overall group thinks. Again, the poll is anonymous.

If you have a more complicated take or additional criticisms you want to elaborate on, feel free to comment below!
 
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My biggest criticism that could be pointed broadly is the over-emphasis on story, and the subsequent devaluation of compelling gameplay. I don't think it's a coincidence that while the OSR typically is well balanced for the former, the two games I like best from that sphere (DCC and Blackhack) are often considered "not" OSR by some purists.

Also why I think Ironsworn and Fellowship have been the only PBTA style games I've ever enjoyed.

Beyond that, I also deeply resent on a visceral and even vitriolic level whenever any game is pushed and described as conversations, and it relates to the above. That idea is complete excrement and I detest it with all the venom I can muster.

(And I'll also explicitly say I have no interest in arguing that with anyone. It's here for the sake of the topic)
 


My biggest criticism that could be pointed broadly is the over-emphasis on story, and the subsequent devaluation of compelling gameplay. I don't think it's a coincidence that while the OSR typically is well balanced for the former, the two games I like best from that sphere (DCC and Blackhack) are often considered "not" OSR by some purists.

Also why I think Ironsworn and Fellowship have been the only PBTA style games I've ever enjoyed.

Beyond that, I also deeply resent on a visceral and even vitriolic level whenever any game is pushed and described as conversations, and it relates to the above. That idea is complete excrement and I detest it with all the venom I can muster.

(And I'll also explicitly say I have no interest in arguing that with anyone. It's here for the sake of the topic)
I just added 2 more - overemphasized story and overemphasized realism at the bottom. Good adds!
 

This one is a bit difficult, because my criticism greatly varies per system. I'll think a bit about it, but off the cuff it seems like I could check a lot of boxes, and the result wouldn't be meaningful (even if I limit it to systems I have played for longer periods of time), as e.g. things that bothered me with D&D 5e are different from those I took issue with when playing The Sprawl.
 


This one is a bit difficult, because my criticism greatly varies per system. I'll think a bit about it, but off the cuff it seems like I could check a lot of boxes, and the result wouldn't be meaningful (even if I limit it to systems I have played for longer periods of time), as e.g. things that bothered me with D&D 5e are different from those I took issue with when playing The Sprawl.
Yep, if it helps, zero in on a system you especially had difficulty with or one you would want most to improve.
 

The phrasing on "Inaccurate challenge ratings" is really specific to D&D, and not even all editions of D&D. Should we assume it means "guidelines for combat encounter balance produce inaccurate results" or something along those lines? That's a distinct problem from the more generic "Balance issues" later one, although there's obviously often some overlap.

That said, I focused on just the one system that's dominated my RP gaming for the last few years over multiple campaigns. I dinged Sentinel Comics for five problems, only one of which was a deal-killer and that took over a year of steady play with the same characters to actually register. The rest were niggling problems at worst.

Another possible category might be something like:

"System breaks down with highly experienced characters"

That would cover the common complaints with high-level play in D&D as well as other games that don't rely on a leveling system, which can have issues as well as skills climb ever higher, horizontal growth swamps you in abilities and talents, etc.
 
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The phrasing on "Inaccurate challenge ratings" is really specific to D&D, and not even all editions of D&D. Should we assume it means "guidelines for combat encounter balance produce inaccurate results" or something along those lines? That's a distinct problem from the more generic "Balance issues" later one, although there's obviously often some overlap.
Yeah that could probably be a more generic term but unfortunately can’t edit now. That definition sounds good. It was pretty specific to certain editions of D&D so not sure how many other systems have this issue.
 
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Yeah that could probably be a more generic term but unfortunately can’t edit now. Thar definition sounds good. It was pretty specific to certain editions of D&D so not sure how many other systems have this issue.
Getting the balance right on encounter building guidelines is kind of a widespread problem across the whole hobby. There are so many variables that even fairly reliable ones (I'd call 4e D&D one after the "math fix" dropped around MM2/Essentials) aren't perfect, and some systems don't even bother trying to provide some about how dangerous a given fight might turn out to be. Never been able to decide which is worse - a horribly inaccurate encounter building guide, or not having one at all. But they're both pretty bad.
 
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