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D&D 5E What D&D Does That is So Good: A Celebration of 5e's Advantages

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
given how quick 3.5 appeared.
3.5 was planned before 3.0 was even released. Monte Cook wrote about it back in 2003, and the story was carried on these very boards.

I can't find his article now (the website on which it was posted seems to be defunct), but here's a bit that was quoted on ENworld a few years back:

See, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, which might make you mad: 3.5 was planned from the beginning.

Even before 3.0 went to the printer, the business team overseeing D&D was talking about 3.5. Not surprisingly, most of the designers -- particularly the actual 3.0 team (Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams, and I) thought this was a poor idea. Also not surprisingly, our concerns were not enough to affect the plan. The idea, they assured us, was to make a revised edition that was nothing but a cleanup of any errata that might have been found after the book's release, a clarification of issues that seemed to confuse large numbers of players, and, most likely, all new art. It was slated to come out in 2004 or 2005, to give a boost to sales at a point where -- judging historically from the sales trends of previous editions -- they probably would be slumping a bit. It wasn't to replace everyone's books, and it wouldn't raise any compatibility or conversion issues.

That doesn't invalidate your point(s), but it does change some of the underlying assumptions.
 

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Azuresun

Adventurer
This thread isn't feeling like much of a "celebration".

Were you really expecting anything else around here, though? Almost nobody on this forum appears to actually like D&D that much.

Anyway, to answer the OP:

--The trimming of unnecessary complexity. I largely skipped the 4e era, so I was mainly comparing 5e to 3e. And it feels like so much unnecessary clunk has just gone. If I want a fighter who knows about religion, I don't need to fool around with class skills and taking a feat to get Religion as a class skill, I can just take the appropriate background and that's it.
--The ease of customisation. Usually if I don't like a particular thing about a class or want to vary the rules, it's very easy to change it without setting off a series of dominos. Customising monsters or enemies is blissfully easy compared to 3e--when I wanted a bunch of creepy killer effigies made by a headhunter cult, all I needed to do was take some Recaps, change their type to Construct, and give them an immunity to poison and vulnerability to fire.
--Strong, easily graspable archetypes that are ready to go with little system mastery needed to produce a competent character. I'm past the point where I need a special class and set of feats to exactly capture what I want from my super-kewl warrior-mage who fireballs people while he swords them.
--Concentration. Such a little thing, but farewell to buff stacking! Nobody will miss you! I like how it subtly nudges mages to supporting their allies, rather than piling buffs on themselves.
--Hit Points. They stay while more complex and realistic damage systems come and go around them. In game terms, they avoid death spirals and give a good general indication of how long someone can stay in the fight before they're in trouble.
 


AtomicPope

Explorer
I don't want to bring up different editions of D&D but I believe the reason 5e is popular is because it gets back to the root of what made D&D great and different from other RPGs - Dungeons and Dragons is the hero's tale. D&D is a heroic game. You may be weak, downtrodden, misunderstood, or overlooked despite your position (a prince might be denied and his brother takes the thrown). In D&D, that's just the beginning. By the time you've practiced with your sword you're slaying a dozen goblins without breaking a sweat. Dungeons and Dragons should have never turned into a number crunch game or a super heroes game. In needs to remain in the heroic mode, and I believe 5e is getting back to what made AD&D so different.

The arguments that "D&D isn't realistic" or "hit points don't make sense" really misses the entire point: YES! D&D isn't realistic, it's mythic and heroic. Other systems do a much better job of being realistic, but that's their schtick. The rewards system for D&D is for fighting, disarming traps, and completing quests (optional). It's designed to reward heroism. Instinctively we understand this because "evil campaigns" are just players and DMs slumming it for a season. In D&D everyone is destined for a seat at the table. They're labeled "classes" but the four basic classes represent different types of heroes found in folk lore. D&D appeals to our nature (whoever we are), our culture (wherever we're from), and our imagination because getting old doesn't mean we forget how to dream.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Not a knock on 5e, but it is a fairly superheroes game. IMO, the superhero influence has been a bit more overt and explicit in 5e than it ever was with 4e, which I would argue was more oriented towards mythic. Again, it's not a knock, because superheroes and superheroics is obviously BIG in the current multimedia Zeitgeist of the MCU and even its less successful DCEU.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I broadly agree with the OP.

There are literally thousand of fantasy RPGs out there. My hypothesis is that for any given D&D fan, there is a fantasy RPG that the hypothetical fan would enjoy playing more than D&D, BUT there are 3 good reasons for the hypothetical fan to keep playing D&D instead:
1) Everybody else is already playing D&D so it's easy to find other people to play with.
2) There's a TON of existing material for D&D so if the hypothetical fan doesn't like to do much game prep they can draw from that deep well.
3) The hypothetical fan already knows how to play D&D. I.e. the cost of switching may be too high, especially when some of the other fantasy RPGs are so obscure they might be hard to find. (To an extent, this is related to the OP's idea of rules flexibility. D&D is "good enough" for most people.)

I think 5E's succeeded because it leaned in to all these things:
1) Publicity has focussed around streaming and recorded sessions, and Adventurers' League, and other things that emphasize the group nature of D&D. The FLGS gets special book-covers to help keep them afloat, because of their role in hosting games and playing matchmaker for groups.
2) The DMsGuild and the OGL creates a steady stream of adventures, monsters, character options, magic items, etc. Plus, things like Goodman Games's "reincarnated" series. At this point I think 5E-compatible adventures are being released faster than anyone could possibly play them.
3) Things like releasing the Basic Rules for free, or the free tier of D&D Beyond, ensure that anybody who wants to learn (or learn more) has easy access to helpful tools. They've made the rules easy to homebrew as well, which keeps people playing D&D rather than looking to other games. The long D&D Next playtest also engaged a lot of lapsed players, priming them to be ready for 5E.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
This is nonsense. I am a grognard, and I like a lot of things 5e does. Bringing in more players is good for the hobby, and good for all of us. 5e does a good balance of letting you play how you want. For a grog like me, that means rulings over rules, and level 1 PCs that aren't already superheroes out of the gate (although they are much more powerful than low level PCs from earlier editions I like and grew up with). it allows you to play quickly, and not be required to play on a battlemap with a million conditions you need to keep track of.

And...

it allows to you to do the opposite of all those things too. So people who don't share my preferences can play their way too.

Whenever someone makes a comment like yours, it tells me that you aren't really knowledgeable about the people you are insulting.

Edit For example, these grogs who you're insulting prefer a game style that led to a meteoric rise of the game, so based on history alone, your comment makes no sense. Obviously a whole lot of new people were brought into the hobby playing a gamestyle that "grogs" like. We all, including grogs, were new players at one point.

Guess I should apologize. (Not on here that often.) I am an almost-grognard (started in the 80s...for a real grognard I'd have to start in the 70s), and recently played 5e after a long hiatus just playing OD&D. I thought they had nerfed the game (I get all my hitpoints back after a day of rest?), but then I saw that a lot of those things would make the game easier to get into.

So, yeah, not anti-grognard. I like a lot of the OSR stuff, for instance, and enjoy reading about the history of the hobby, for instance. I probably should have clarified that before posting that comment. :(
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Guess I should apologize. (Not on here that often.) I am an almost-grognard (started in the 80s...for a real grognard I'd have to start in the 70s),.....

I hate to break the news to you .... but at this point, we can probably safely include people who started with 2e in the 90s as Grognards.

...in fact, we might be close to the point of including diehard 3e fans as Grognards.
 


loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
It's designed to reward heroism.
Does it reward heroism, though? I'd say (pretty much any edition) rewards being careful and not taking risks much more than it rewards self-sacrifice and standing tall between the danger and the innocent.

I don't think that people who rob graves and loot stuff for sale can be called heroes, honestly.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Does it reward heroism, though? I'd say (pretty much any edition) rewards being careful and not taking risks much more than it rewards self-sacrifice and standing tall between the danger and the innocent.

I don't think that people who rob graves and loot stuff for sale can be called heroes, honestly.
I'm not sure if the game rewards heroism, but I would say that the game primarily assumes heroic characters and nearly all 5e adventure paths are written with that assumption in mind.
 


Sithlord

Adventurer
Not a knock on 5e, but it is a fairly superheroes game. IMO, the superhero influence has been a bit more overt and explicit in 5e than it ever was with 4e, which I would argue was more oriented towards mythic. Again, it's not a knock, because superheroes and superheroics is obviously BIG in the current multimedia Zeitgeist of the MCU and even its less successful DCEU.
That strange. With concentration checks and only 2 good saves. I found this edition to have the potential to be grittier than earlier editions with the exception of the removal of save or die spells and energy drain. But I also don’t use recommended guidelines for challenge ratings either.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Not a knock on 5e, but it is a fairly superheroes game. IMO, the superhero influence has been a bit more overt and explicit in 5e
I'm not following you here. In what sense is it "superheroes"? If you mean that low-level characters aren't as squishy as in some previous editions, it takes more than that to make superheroes, IMO.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm not following you here. In what sense is it "superheroes"? If you mean that low-level characters aren't as squishy as in some previous editions, it takes more than that to make superheroes, IMO.
I'm talking more about the flavor and inspiration material. For example, the Armorer Artificer was explicitly inspired by Iron Man.
 




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