5.5E What do you want in the revised DMG?

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
This isn't necessarily about the topic, but the responses did make me wonder if there was a correlation between folks who want more robust and concrete encounter creation rules and folks who do not like or refuse to fudge dice rolls and/or adjust encounters mid-fight?

Honestly, I don't know if there is a correlation there or not, but I do know that for me I've never worried about making sure my encounters were built "balanced" in order to give me the really precise result of difficulty I was looking for because I do not have any problem having extra monsters just show up to make the fight more difficult (even if my notes didn't say they were there) or just removing a monster that got hit for 30 points and was left with 1 HP remaining (so I just call it dead), or any other tricks like that to "self-balance" the fights on a case-by-case basis.

It just seems like the people who would prefer not to "wing it" have a reason for not wanting to... and the idea that they do not want to adjust the encounter mid-encounter due to however they see the verisimilitude of the game to be, might be a strong reason for that? I dunno? It's just something I noticed and was curious about.
 

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Reynard

Legend
.Remove?:
  • Miscellaneous rules: mechanics for things that don't come up that often, like ship rules, chases, diseases, etc. Would a lot be lost if rules were not included?
I don't understand this sentiment. Why would you want to restrict the kinds of things that D&D is meant to do. When you take away stuff like what you listed, you shrink the game to being about nothing but fights.
 


aco175

Legend
I would use the DMG more if it was like the 4e book and contained a small town in it, like Fallcrest. I was also thinking on how it could be different than a 'starter' box where the box is designed to be something to walk you through your first campaign.

I could use a campaign planner. Some sort of outline that helps you get the bits you plan at low levels to tie in at high levels. A NPC introduced at 1st level is not- what? The threat of the orcs that the PCs never went on at 3rd level is not- what? How do I tie in PC background and goals? That kind of thing.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I can't see the point in creating a combat that isnt challenging in some way for the players; though it doesnt have to be deadly.

That does not make any sense, sorry. Will you or not create encounters which are not deadly ? And if yes, please explain how you consider them challenging.

Last I check monster have a "Challenge Rating", so I doubt the sole design intent of the CR/encounter design mechanics were strictly for fun and for the PCs to win all the time.

You are simply and plainly wrong: "An easy encounter doesn’t tax the characters’ resources or put them in serious peril. They might lose a few hit points, but victory is pretty much guaranteed."

So yes, some encounters are created that the PCs will win all the time, and nothing in the rules prevents people from playing with only easy encounters.

Actually the only type of encounter where there is a chance of defeat is "deadly". So yes, the game is designed for the PCs to win pretty much all the time. You might not like it, and I'm pretty sure that you use only deadly encounters for challenge, but this also means that

Perhaps WotC will change the CR system in 2024, maybe they wont and I'll be disappointed.

Then prepare to be disappointed. What you are asking is orthogonal to the way the system has been designed.

Just because it hasnt been done yet doesnt mean it cant or wont be. Some people seem to like the way it is and it works for them, such as yourself, while others like me don't. But I've seen enough people say they'd like to see it changed to know Im not alone. IMO theres room for improvement in it.

Do not call this an improvement. It does not need to be improved in that area. What you wish for is a completely different system that allows precise computations from the ground up.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I just want a secret sentence buried somewhere in it. In the middle of a long paragraph- “Congratulations for reading!”

So we can definitively say that … no one reads the DMG.

(I appreciate the sentiment, above, but other than useful organization and a useful index, people will just advocate for their preferences. The DMG is fine.)

Another reason for it to be reasonably fine, is that it has allowed (and probably empowered) the explosion of players across the planet. It is a book made for beginners mostly, apart some section on magic items for example. So it's not unreasonable that more experienced DM don't find much of interest in there, or actually, from a cursory reading, deduce (wrongly) that there is not much for them there.
 

Remove?:
  • Miscellaneous rules: mechanics for things that don't come up that often, like ship rules, chases, diseases, etc. Would a lot be lost if rules were not included?
  • Worldbuilding: The worldbuilding and cosmology sections are the weakest and least relevant parts of the book. I feel to do it right, worldbuilding needs much more space that would be allotted to it in a dmg.
I agree that the cosmology part can be move to supplement that use those planes.
But the first chapter A world of your own gives key hints to build a home brew world.

miscellanous rules are not used often but are frequently present in this forum, the section can be orient more in the Rules building perspective.
 

Oofta

Legend
When it comes to encounter difficulty while I don't use the standard system, I use one that ignores the numbers multiplier, I find that my encounters are about as difficult as expected most of the time. However I do have to take into account the group I'm DMing for. If the martial types all have magic weapons, the CR of creatures that have resistance to non-magical weapons is way too high. Do they have effective ranged weapons or not? Makes a huge difference on the CR of flying creatures and so on. No two groups are the same, you always have to tune encounter budget to the group, I don't see how any system can account for that. I don't find that I need to fudge any dice rolls, although I may fudge enemy tactics.

So a slightly revised encounter calculation section would be good, but there's only so much that can be done.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
So a slightly revised encounter calculation section would be good, but there's only so much that can be done.

I agree that you need to take into account the composition of the party, in particular because one need to remember that the encounter calculator is based on standard characters with no options. So you need to take to heart the section about modifying encounter difficulty as well: "Increase the difficulty of the encounter by one step (from easy to medium, for example) if the characters have a drawback that their enemies don’t. Reduce the difficulty by one step if the characters have a benefit that their enemies don’t. Any additional benefit or drawback pushes the encounter one step in the appropriate direction. If the characters have both a benefit and a drawback, the two cancel each other out."

The examples given are situational, but often forgotten, but the same applies for example for a party with high stats (standard array is used as the base), options included (feats, multiclassing, basically everything that is used in optimised character creation), magic items (again the basis of 5e is that magic items, in particular those giving bonuses, are optional and not part of the base, etc.

We often see people complaining about the result of the encounter calculator and saying that it's too easy, but when asked, say that indeed their party have rolled their stats (and of course, "luckily", all have very high numbers), all options allowed, powerful magic items, etc.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Robust options for tweaking classes/spells/races for different sub-genres of fantasy and power levels.

I don't give a crap about CR and encounter design and have a hard time wrapping my head around it being hard. Clearly there should be some kind of CR as a guide - but something very simple like: add up total party levels and then monsters have levels and you add them up to that number (or higher or lower depending on the level challenge you want). Will it be perfect? Nope. Does it need to be or can it even ever be expected to be? Nope. The only way to learn to good encounters is to just make them and run them, tweak them on the fly if necessary and hope you don't F it up too much.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I agree that you need to take into account the composition of the party, in particular because one need to remember that the encounter calculator is based on standard characters with no options. So you need to take to heart the section about modifying encounter difficulty as well: "Increase the difficulty of the encounter by one step (from easy to medium, for example) if the characters have a drawback that their enemies don’t. Reduce the difficulty by one step if the characters have a benefit that their enemies don’t. Any additional benefit or drawback pushes the encounter one step in the appropriate direction. If the characters have both a benefit and a drawback, the two cancel each other out."

The examples given are situational, but often forgotten, but the same applies for example for a party with high stats (standard array is used as the base), options included (feats, multiclassing, basically everything that is used in optimised character creation), magic items (again the basis of 5e is that magic items, in particular those giving bonuses, are optional and not part of the base, etc.

We often see people complaining about the result of the encounter calculator and saying that it's too easy, but when asked, say that indeed their party have rolled their stats (and of course, "luckily", all have very high numbers), all options allowed, powerful magic items, etc.

Not to mention how many encounters you have, party makeup, general tactical astuteness. I was running two campaigns for different groups at one point using the same optional rules, roughly same amount and type of treasure, similar enemies and so on. Group A could simply handle far more than group B. By quite a bit. There's no formula that could take into consideration that one group could handle a target XP budget 30% higher than the other.
 

Oofta

Legend
Something else I think the DMG should include is more talk about the role and nature of monsters in the game. I don't want to derail the thread to yet another alignment argument (and I don't think evil monsters are inherently an alignment issue), but I think there should be discussions and options about how you handle creatures like hobgoblins. Are all hobgoblins evil? Are the hobgoblins represented in the book just a faction that are given stats because they are the enemy? What role do monsters, and monstrous races play in any particular campaign?

At the very least it should be clarified that what is presented in the MM is just one default, and that every campaign should adjust as they see fit. Give some examples of how different campaigns handle it and why. I don't make any moral judgments about how people run their games, but people should be sensitive to the topic.
 
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I don't think there's a ton of content changes needed (some minor stuff sure) - I thnk it mostly needs to be re-organized to be useful both as a textbook: reading it through should logically walk you through the things you need to know to be a good dm, and it should be organized enough to be a usable reference book. It's quite possible to do both. The current layout is neither.

The first section should be running the game, (including add-on systems like chase rules) then encounter building, then adventure building, then campaigns, then worldbuilding. Rewards can go after that, then variant rules.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Not to mention how many encounters you have, party makeup, general tactical astuteness. I was running two campaigns for different groups at one point using the same optional rules, roughly same amount and type of treasure, similar enemies and so on. Group A could simply handle far more than group B. By quite a bit. There's no formula that could take into consideration that one group could handle a target XP budget 30% higher than the other.

Yes, there are many more things that can be considered, one of the most complex one being synergies. Our DM in Odyssey of the Dragonlords is running the campaign more or less simultaneously for two groups, and our group is technically much more powerful (and still, I'm not using my paladin smites as much as I could), because our classes and tactics have much better synergy. And sometimes it's synergy between the monsters and themselves, or between the monster and the party, or either group with the environment. All of that is extremely complex, not even mentioning the fact that buffing and/or having the initiative and/or having surprise can be complete game changers.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Said it before and will say it again... I firmly believe the encounter building rules and CR are all balanced around just having one each of the 4 character classes from the Basic Rules. If your game deviates from that at all (additional PCs, more types of classes, adding game options etc.), the encounter building rules are not going to work for you as-is... your party will always overpower the encounter built.

But while the new DMG could tell you this straight out in the book... it'd pretty much be a waste of ink. Because if you own the DMG, it also 99.99% of the time means you've also bought the PHB, and thus you have everything at hand that is going to render the encounter building rules useless to you. So then what the building rules are meant for doesn't do you a lick of good.
 
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dave2008

Legend
I dont think Ive ever read the 5E DMG all the way through.

Out of everything you mentioned this is the only thing I mostly care about. For me creating encounters in 5E is the hardest part of prepping and running games.
Interesting. I am pretty much the opposite. I find I don't have to worry about prepping 5e encounters at all. I can make them whatever I want and I don't have to worry. I completely abandon trying to create "balanced" encounters about 5-6 years ago. Now I just create what makes sense for the story, situation, and environment. I am confident my players can come up with a solution to anything they come across.
 

dave2008

Legend
My list:
  1. Better organization:
  2. Better explanation on how to modify the game to fit different groups / playstyles - with concrete mechanical examples
  3. Update monster features (and their CR effects) list & how to adjust based on point 2
  4. Explanations how conditions should impact CR & spell creation
  5. Follow up on #1 & #2: I want to see rules packets to cater to different styles
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Interesting. I am pretty much the opposite. I find I don't have to worry about prepping 5e encounters at all. I can make them whatever I want and I don't have to worry. I completely abandon trying to create "balanced" encounters about 5-6 years ago. Now I just create what makes sense for the story, situation, and environment. I am confident my players can come up with a solution to anything they come across.

Exactly the same for me, and most of the time, the solution will not be combat, it will be intrigue, stealth, they will resort to combat only once they have ascertained that there is no other solution and they have loaded everything in their favor. And if the combat is over in two rounds, they are really happy, it's a testimony to their planning and scheming.
 

This isn't necessarily about the topic, but the responses did make me wonder if there was a correlation between folks who want more robust and concrete encounter creation rules and folks who do not like or refuse to fudge dice rolls and/or adjust encounters mid-fight?

Honestly, I don't know if there is a correlation there or not, but I do know that for me I've never worried about making sure my encounters were built "balanced" in order to give me the really precise result of difficulty I was looking for because I do not have any problem having extra monsters just show up to make the fight more difficult (even if my notes didn't say they were there) or just removing a monster that got hit for 30 points and was left with 1 HP remaining (so I just call it dead), or any other tricks like that to "self-balance" the fights on a case-by-case basis.

It just seems like the people who would prefer not to "wing it" have a reason for not wanting to... and the idea that they do not want to adjust the encounter mid-encounter due to however they see the verisimilitude of the game to be, might be a strong reason for that? I dunno? It's just something I noticed and was curious about.

I think the encounter creation rules are fine as long as one goes in with the notion that they aren't perfect. I'll sometimes use Kobold Plus Fight Club - The first rule of Kobold Fight Club is 'Yip Yip!' to approximate a "just-deadly" encounter. Or, since encounters don't truly need to be "balanced", I'll just put together something that makes sense for the campaign. It's up to the players via their PCs to determine whether to engage or not.

However, I am someone that refuses to fudge dice rolls. It works better for our table to roll in the open at all times.

Like you, I will adjust encounters mid-fight at times, though. This could be bringing in a new wave of enemies or having enemies flee or disengage - again based on what makes sense for the campaign and the scenario. I will occasionally fudge HP for monsters - most often in the players' favor if a hit comes within 1 or 2 of taking out an enemy and it's time to move on.

Probably a good topic for a new thread. Great questions!
 

Composer99

Adventurer
I would like to see the layout changed as follows (with content changes described in each section) to make the layout progressive - in the way that lesson books for learning a musical instrument are progressive - so that content goes from most crucial and basic to most optional and advanced.

Part 1: Running a Game
This includes stuff like session 0 stuff, adjudicating PC actions during gameplay, encounter-building (whether the encounter includes combat or not), adjusting encounters on the fly, and running typical adventuring situations - combat, exploration, travel, social interaction, and downtime, including temporal hazards such as tornadoes or earthquakes.

Basically, in my view new DMs should be confident that they'll either have procedures or guidance for running pretty much any typical or commonplace adventuring activities, and seasoned DMs will know what the baseline assumptions for the game are before they run roughshod over them. (For this reason, I would prefer to retain material for things like chases or diseases, perhaps with some reworking.)

(Personally, for encounter building, I'd have preferred that they use aggregate monster CR to estimate encounter difficulty instead of XP budgets, though that would require reworking monsters more than I expect a 5.5 that aims to be backwards compatible would aim to achieve. Such estimates need not be precise. But CR is a smaller, and thus by my reckoning easier, number to use.)

Part 2: NPCs
The overall content about NPCs in the DMG probably doesn't need much change, but the layout may well. Players interacting with NPCs is covered in part 1, so this part is about creating, running, and portraying NPCs and factions thereof. I think it should be a separate part simply because we're dealing with material that is something of a hybrid of running a game and creating content for a game - for instance, if you're running a published adventure path and want to expand on the role of a given faction the players are interested in joining (or taking over!).

Part 3: Rewards
Treasure, boons, property, hirelings, favours, that sort of thing.

Pretty well every DM will find use to refer to the first three parts. The next three are for DMs who want to modify the game to suit their tastes or run their own stuff, possibly in their own worlds.

Part 4: DM's Workshop
I'd also like to see this consolidated and expanded.

Part 5: Creating Adventures and Campaigns
I separate this from worldbuilding since you might, say, run a campaign in the Forgotten Realms without using published adventures.

Part 6: Worldbuilding

Appendix:
A small starter adventure so you don't have to buy the starter set or a whole adventure path to have a first adventure to throw at your players when you're a new DM.
 

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