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D&D General What elements does D&D need to keep? (conclusions and questions)

JEB

Hero
Having concluded the poll... here are the results. 130 responses in total (just two short of the number of replies from the "feel" poll!). As with last time I did a follow-up, I'm breaking this into tiers and making some comments.

As a reminder, a vote for something (per the OP in that thread) meant the voter believed that element should remain in D&D, while no vote meant the voter was either ambivalent about the element, or actively wanted it to go.

Very important to keep (80% and up):
Distinct character classes [95.4%]
Levels [93.1%]
Ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha) [88.5%]
Hit points [86.9%]
Using multiple types of dice [84.6%]

Respondents overwhelmingly want D&D to be a level- and class-based game, and the vast majority also want to keep ability scores, hit points, and the use of multiple types of dice in the game. These all seem like must-haves.

Important to keep (60% to 80%):
Armor Class [80.0%]
Saving throws [76.9%]
Distinct character races/lineages [74.6%]
Lists of specific spells [70.0%]
Initiative [66.9%]

Not as critical as the previous tier, but all of these elements are also very important to a majority of respondents, though there may be some limited room for tampering with the formula. Armor Class is borderline, however, and could also be considered at the very bottom of the must-haves. Most respondents also want D&D to keep distinctive races/lineages and specific spells, presumably instead of the alternative approaches seen in other RPGs (though again, the specifics are likely up for more discussion).

Debatable (40% to 60%):
Lists of specific magic items [57.7%]
Advantage/disadvantage [49.2%]
Damage types [48.5%]
Multiclassing [45.4%]
Proficiencies [45.4%]
Lists of specific equipment [45.4%]
Conditions [43.8%]
Creature types [43.8%]
Experience points [43.1%]
Feats [42.3%]

At this tier is the stuff that's more contentious. Note that with the exception of specific magic items, all of these are below 50%: meaning (as stated above) a narrow majority could take or leave these, or wants them gone. However, only slightly fewer still want them kept, so if Wizards was to remove or significantly change these, they should do so with caution (at least as far as the ENWorld demographic). Of particular note, IMHO, is XP; could Wizards drop it in favor of milestone leveling? (I suspect it would still be pretty divisive, though.)

Less important to keep (20% to 40%):
Hit dice [40.0%]
Backgrounds [37.7%]
Alignment [34.6%]
Surprise [30.8%]
Deities [30.0%]

Now we're at the tier of the stuff that can probably be removed from D&D without aliening many respondents, though there's still a fair amount of minority support (which suggests optional rules territory to me, if I was a Wizards designer). Note Hit Dice are borderline, almost into the "debatable" tier. Surprised to see one of 5E's signature features, backgrounds, so lowly ranked.

Not important to keep (20% and below):
Great Wheel cosmology [20.0%]
Challenge ratings [20.0%]
World Axis cosmology [8.5%]

This tier is the stuff that D&D can lose and not be a deal-breaker for many fans. That said, both the Great Wheel and CRs are borderline, though in this case that just puts them almost into "fair amount of minority support". The World Axis appears to be the most expendable element (sorry, 4E fans). One wonders what respondents want instead of CRs for monsters? Especially considering XP is also a debatable keep.

(I was also going to include a comparison between the "keep" and "feel" polls as well, but realized that's better as its own thread.)

Please share your thoughts!
 
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Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
It would appear that for once that I am among the general consensus, and the options I consider most "essentially D&D" are what the community considers most essential. This is weird and uncomfortable territory for me, and I do not like it. This is surprising, after the time I've spent complaining that I'm howling in the wilderness.

Most notably, the things the community were least attached to were the things I specifically believe need to be dropped, not because the Great Wheel or the World Axis cosmologies are Bad-- like alignment-- but because these are things that should be decided on a setting-by-setting basis and not officially overridden by WotC to pour all of their big bland kitchen sinks into a bigger blander kitchen sink.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm truly surprised deities ranked so low. It'd be interesting to see if the same held true of the concept of "divine" magic in general; and if not, where that divine magic is supposed to come from if not from deities.

I'm not surprised to see advantage-disadvantage and backgrounds ranked low; while each may specifically say "5e D&D" to many, neither really screams out "D&D" overall. (also worth noting that mechanics specific to older editions e.g. THAC0 were omitted)

Very disappointed that experience points shows as debatable rather than essential. Sad.
 

JEB

Hero
I'm not surprised to see advantage-disadvantage and backgrounds ranked low; while each may specifically say "5e D&D" to many, neither really screams out "D&D" overall.
Just as a point of clarification, this particular poll was about what D&D should keep, not about D&D's "feel" (that was another poll). So a fair number of folks are saying they can live without, or want to ditch, two of 5E's key unique characteristics. (If you're suggesting that's also because they don't "feel" very D&D, however, that's fair.)
 

ART!

Hero
I'm truly surprised deities ranked so low. It'd be interesting to see if the same held true of the concept of "divine" magic in general; and if not, where that divine magic is supposed to come from if not from deities.
@JEB can correct me here, but I think this reflects a desire to keep a pre-defined set of deities out of the core, i.e. to leave that specific setting stuff out fo the core rules.
 

Scribe

Hero
@JEB can correct me here, but I think this reflects a desire to keep a pre-defined set of deities out of the core, i.e. to leave that specific setting stuff out fo the core rules.
Yeah, I do wonder if that's an import distinction.

To me, that's one of the hidden D values.

Dungeons, Dragons, and Deities. :)
 


The biggest surprise to me is that 'surprise' was on the list of elements. I usually forget it's a thing, much less a D&D thing.
I'm betting that's similar to initiative: it's not really a DnD thing, and the specific rule doesn't matter, but people have a hard time imagining the game without that being a thing that happens.

(Playing without initiative works with very narrative-heavy games, which dnd is not, and not having the option of trying to surprise enemies would be a glaring lack, although the rules for doing so can be whatever makes sense with the rest of the rules.)
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@JEB can correct me here, but I think this reflects a desire to keep a pre-defined set of deities out of the core, i.e. to leave that specific setting stuff out fo the core rules.
Perhaps, but for new players/DMs there still need to be examples which would end up becoming the pre-defined set anyway, so might as well use the ones from a pre-defined setting and save having to do the same work twice.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The biggest surprise to me is that 'surprise' was on the list of elements. I usually forget it's a thing, much less a D&D thing.
I didn't expect it to poll so low. It's a useful tactic for PCs (meaning the tacticians should like it) and for opponents (meaning the DMs should like it); but 5e has nerfed it to the point of near-irrelevance and thus - as your post shows - it gets forgotten as an element of either the game or the fiction.
 

JEB

Hero
@JEB can correct me here, but I think this reflects a desire to keep a pre-defined set of deities out of the core, i.e. to leave that specific setting stuff out fo the core rules.
Assuming everyone answered the poll as laid out in the OP, the literal reading would be that 30% actively want to keep deities as an element of D&D, while 70% don't. How many of the 70% are in the "get rid of them" camp, and how many are in the "not important to keep" camp, wouldn't be captured by the poll. However, 70% apparently wouldn't mind if they were gone...
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
It's not that I don't want to have fantasy deities in D&D, it's just that I think they should entirely setting-specific, and I find the way they're portrayed in the "D&D Multiverse" settings ( :sick: ) as just "how deities work" to be disgusting and offensive.

Which doesn't mean I want those settings changed, either. I just want people to stop assuming that every new setting they make has to have "The Gods" and that "The Gods" have to work exactly the same way as they always have in the Forgotten Realms.
 
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Faolyn

Hero
It's not that I don't want to have fantasy deities in D&D, it's just that I think they should entirely setting-specific, and I find the way they're portrayed in the "D&D Multiverse" settings ( :sick: ) as just "how deities work" to be disgusting and offensive.
Do you mean how they included real-world deities, or something else?
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Do you mean how they included real-world deities, or something else?

The fact that they are divine parasites who must demand belief and devotion from their mortal worshipers or fade into nothingness, combined with the fact this "natural order" must take precedence over all moral concern. This, in turn, leads to the in-universe behavior of these gods and their temples being-- like everything bad about D&D-- strangely uniform, and very well beneath the dignity of anything I could recognize as divine.

The inclusion of real-life religious figure, including monotheistic angels and saints as well as pagan gods, is just the icing on this crap sundae.
 

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