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D&D General What elements should D&D keep? forums vs. Reddit

I'm bothered to see that keeping lists of specific spells proved more popular than keeping lists of specific equipment.

It seems that some people seem to like the idea of radically simplifying the weapons and armour lists, sometimes even to the point of including only categories of light/medium/heavy armour and using these as catch-alls for all armour types. And we've certainly seen the weapon list considerably stripped down since the old AD&D days.

But one almost never sees a call to radically simplify the spell lists. We still see an enormous chunk of most players' handbooks taken up with spell descriptions for dozens and dozens of tedious pages. I get the feeling that this choice reflects an unconscious favoritism towards spellcasters on the part of the game designers.

I don't think it's fair that half of the book is given over to super-detailed descriptions of the spellcasters' toys, while those of the warriors are kept down to one or two pages. I like having lots and lots of interesting and mechanically distinct choices for my characters' weapons and armours; maybe we don't need all the polearm types AD&D had, but I did like the distinction between, say, the "broadsword" and longsword.

What if we applied the same perspective often taken on the weapons and armour lists to the spell lists? i.e. maybe we can stuff spells into simple, broad categories of deals damage/inflicts status effect/has out-of-combat use, etc. What, after all, is the real difference between the effects of most of these spells in terms of game mechanics other than flavor text?

Alternately, equal space should be given to lavish descriptions of weapons and armour, and numerous rules associated with each individual type, thus equalizing the time, space, and effort that tools and toys of each of the class types. It would be nice if future editions would make such an effort.
 

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I'm bothered to see that keeping lists of specific spells proved more popular than keeping lists of specific equipment.

It seems that some people seem to like the idea of radically simplifying the weapons and armour lists, sometimes even to the point of including only categories of light/medium/heavy armour and using these as catch-alls for all armour types. And we've certainly seen the weapon list considerably stripped down since the old AD&D days.

But one almost never sees a call to radically simplify the spell lists. We still see an enormous chunk of most players' handbooks taken up with spell descriptions for dozens and dozens of tedious pages. I get the feeling that this choice reflects an unconscious favoritism towards spellcasters on the part of the game designers.

I don't think it's fair that half of the book is given over to super-detailed descriptions of the spellcasters' toys, while those of the warriors are kept down to one or two pages. I like having lots and lots of interesting and mechanically distinct choices for my characters' weapons and armours; maybe we don't need all the polearm types AD&D had, but I did like the distinction between, say, the "broadsword" and longsword.

What if we applied the same perspective often taken on the weapons and armour lists to the spell lists? i.e. maybe we can stuff spells into simple, broad categories of deals damage/inflicts status effect/has out-of-combat use, etc. What, after all, is the real difference between the effects of most of these spells in terms of game mechanics other than flavor text?

Alternately, equal space should be given to lavish descriptions of weapons and armour, and numerous rules associated with each individual type, thus equalizing the time, space, and effort that tools and toys of each of the class types. It would be nice if future editions would make such an effort.
yeah, I get you, kind of want weapons done better.
everything is spell caster hours and you get sick of it sooner or later.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Not sure how you’re adding 2+2 and getting that bushel of potatoes.

The results were tabulated by importance and I just said the question asked in the poll doesn’t speak to the importance of each point. Just it’s frequency.

It was intended as a really simple comment about inferring information from polls that isn’t there. Really don’t understand all the pushback on the feedback. I would think it’s a really uncontroversial point.
Heh... its because you didn't make a simple comment... you made five. Five "simple comments" one right after the other to rebut everything JEB had to say regarding his poll. As though it was really important that you get your point across that his poll had issues in your opinion.

That's where my bushel of potatoes came from... wondering what exactly was the point. ;)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Heh... its because you didn't make a simple comment... you made five. Five "simple comments" one right after the other to rebut everything JEB had to say regarding his poll. As though it was really important that you get your point across that his poll had issues in your opinion.

That's where my bushel of potatoes came from... wondering what exactly was the point. ;)
It seems that @TheSword has professional experience with polling, and felt like sharing some pro tips.

The whole exercise seems like a lot of work tog etc junk data.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I'm bothered to see that keeping lists of specific spells proved more popular than keeping lists of specific equipment.
It could mean that people are fine with things like "Explorer's Pack" and "Scholar's Pack" rather than having to go shopping for each individual canteen, crowbar, and iron ration.

Personally, I wasn't too sure what was meant by "lists of <whatever>," so I didn't check any of those. Like, I didn't know if that meant "this is a list of Sorcerer spells and this is a list of Bard spells" or something else entirely.
 

Rabulias

Hero
I'm always surprised to see Saving Throws so high on the list.

Were Saving Throws a thing before 3e?
I am actually surprised they are not in the top tier. Saving Throws (in some form or other) have been in the game since at least the Holmes Basic Set (not 100% sure about the original D&D booklets, but I imagine they were there, too).
 

Since obviously no one else is going to say it...

Thank you OP. That was probably a fair amount of effort and work to do for our benefit, and I appreciate it.
 


TheSword

Legend
Heh... its because you didn't make a simple comment... you made five. Five "simple comments" one right after the other to rebut everything JEB had to say regarding his poll. As though it was really important that you get your point across that his poll had issues in your opinion.

That's where my bushel of potatoes came from... wondering what exactly was the point. ;)
Ok. Fair enough. It was actually the same point in different variations to try and explain what I meant as the rational seem to be rejected. I felt I was being polite though, and whilst it was criticism, I had hoped it would be taken constructively.

I actually find these kinds of surveys really interesting and just want to see them improve. One of the way of that is not to confuse how widespread a feeling is, with how strongly it’s felt. That way lies disappointment in any number of surveys. Particularly in an age of popularism.

Im always reminded of the polling episode
of the West Wing. Where 86% of Americans are against flag burning, they just don’t care about it enough to affect an election.
 

JEB

Hero
If classes were a ‘nice to have’ and we’re a non-controversial option that didn’t really factor into the game. Then it might not be much more important option. They fact that you’ve picked a substantial element of the game clouds your point.

Saving throws and Deities is maybe a bit more difficult to weight importance though for instance. People said they would keep saving throws but not how important they were to keep.
Do you seriously think it's meaningless that stuff towards the top of the rankings is stuff like classes, hit points, levels, etc., while stuff in the lower end tends to be more specialized and controversial stuff like Challenge Ratings and alignment? What specific elements in the high end of the scale do you think would be examples of this phenomenon you suggest?

And supposing this phenomenon is in force (which I don't), this would only really apply to stuff in the higher end of the list, giving them an artificial bump. It might in fact suggest that the lower-ranking stuff is even less popular than my rankings suggest, because a large amount of people were indifferent to them and couldn't be bothered to vote in support of them.

Really don’t understand all the pushback on the feedback. I would think it’s a really uncontroversial point.
I'm pushing back because you're implying that the data in the poll is meaningless, that the opinions of 389 people don't actually reflect the relative value people place on those particular game elements. Which I think is rather silly.

If 90% of respondents want to keep classes, and 9% want to keep the World Axis, then in the grand scheme of things it's more important to a larger number of players to keep classes than the World Axis.

WotC has said in the past that forum opinion (which would include the equally self-selected relatively small part of the player base in the Reddit poster community) runs almost directly counter to actual broader player opinion.
Ah, so 91% want to keep the World Axis, and only 10% want to keep classes? :)
 
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JEB

Hero
It could mean that people are fine with things like "Explorer's Pack" and "Scholar's Pack" rather than having to go shopping for each individual canteen, crowbar, and iron ration.
Yeah, that makes sense. Especially since 5E, the current standard-bearer of the game, encourages that through the default class builds.

Personally, I wasn't too sure what was meant by "lists of <whatever>," so I didn't check any of those. Like, I didn't know if that meant "this is a list of Sorcerer spells and this is a list of Bard spells" or something else entirely.
I'm disappointed to hear that. I thought that meaning was fairly clear, that it was itemized lists you could reference containing various specific pieces of equipment, magical spells, magic items, etc. But apparently not. Oh well, too late now...
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm pushing back because you're implying that the data in the poll is meaningless, that the opinions of 389 people don't actually reflect the relative value people place on those particular game elements.
I mean, yeah, the "data" is meaningless noise. 389 self-selected respondents from a convenience sample do not meaningfully reflect 40 million people.

Ah, so 91% want to keep the World Axis, and only 10% want to keep classes? :)

That would be about as valid as any other conclusion drawn from these surveys, yes.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm just saying, there isn't even a margin of error at play here (I would it somewhere near +/- 100%, pure noise), due to sampling issues and survey design as @TheSword tried to explain in some constructive criticism.

This would not pass muster in peer review.
 
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Faolyn

Hero
I'm disappointed to hear that. I thought that meaning was fairly clear, that it was itemized lists you could reference containing various specific pieces of equipment, magical spells, magic items, etc. But apparently not. Oh well, too late now...
Sorry, didn't get that at all.
 

TheSword

Legend
Do you seriously think it's meaningless that stuff towards the top of the rankings is stuff like classes, hit points, levels, etc., while stuff in the lower end tends to be more specialized and controversial stuff like Challenge Ratings and alignment? What specific elements in the high end of the scale do you think would be examples of this phenomenon you suggest?

And supposing this phenomenon is in force (which I don't), this would only really apply to stuff in the higher end of the list, giving them an artificial bump. It might in fact suggest that the lower-ranking stuff is even less popular than my rankings suggest, because a large amount of people were indifferent to them and couldn't be bothered to vote in support of them.


I'm pushing back because you're implying that the data in the poll is meaningless, that the opinions of 389 people don't actually reflect the relative value people place on those particular game elements. Which I think is rather silly.
At no point did I say the data was meaningless. It shows how widespread preferences are. It doesn’t show how important those preferences were.

I think it’s your use of the word importance, which in survey terms usually signifies strength of feeling.

If given the choice I would keep the wizards spell alarm in a new edition. I suspect many people would. It is in no way important to a 6th edition though, even if 100% of people ticked ‘would you keep the alarm spell in 6e. It is relevant to , but not important.

The danger is that you’re defending the veracity of your survey, by saying that it’s telling you what you expected to see. That’s called confirmation bias.

If at this point you don’t get what I’m saying, I’m probably wasting my time. It’s just worth people considering for future polls and surveys that want to examine importance or strength of feeling.
 

JEB

Hero
At no point did I say the data was meaningless. It shows how widespread preferences are. It doesn’t show how important those preferences were.

I think it’s your use of the word importance, which in survey terms usually signifies strength of feeling.
When someone says they want to keep an element of a game, are you suggesting that keeping that element in the game has no value to them? If it had no value to them, I would have expected them not to check the box that indicates they want to keep the element. That was, in fact, the intent of my instructions. And if they think it's valuable to keep... does that not suggest at least some degree of importance to them?

I suppose you can separate "I want to keep this element" from "I feel this element is important to keep", but that seems like splitting hairs to me.

If given the choice I would keep the wizards spell alarm in a new edition. I suspect many people would. It is in no way important to a 6th edition though, even if 100% of people ticked ‘would you keep the alarm spell in 6e. It is relevant to , but not important.
So if 100% of people said they wanted to keep alarm, you don't think that maybe Wizards might want to keep alarm in the game? That's certainly data I would like to have, if I was forced to choose between alarm and other spells, particularly ones that had very little explicit support.

That doesn't mean you absolutely can't cut alarm, it probably isn't a deal-breaker in the big picture... but why do so when so many folks say they want to keep it?

The danger is that you’re defending the veracity of your survey, by saying that it’s telling you what you expected to see. That’s called confirmation bias.
Actually, I was rather surprised by how high and low certain elements ranked. (I was certainly expecting alignment to do better on Reddit, for example, but it was actually pretty consistent with forum results. And it's interesting that an element as imprecise and arguably archaic as Armor Class has consistently been a strong contender. And I expected character races to do more poorly than they did, in the context of recent events and the "feel" poll.)

It is true, however, that on seeing the final tally, it's not that surprising to me that the highest-ranking elements are ones pretty integral to the historical structure of the game. Classes, hit points, ability scores, even the funky dice. But I didn't go in expecting those to do that well.

If at this point you don’t get what I’m saying, I’m probably wasting my time. It’s just worth people considering for future polls and surveys that want to examine importance or strength of feeling.
As I said, there's certainly room for polls that capture more nuance. I certainly would like to see someone do them.

I'll also say this - if anyone wants to have the raw data, to make their own analysis, I'm happy to share it. Google Forms actually gives you each individual response, anonymized, which could be very useful for figuring out bigger trends. (I don't see a way to get individual responses from ENWorld's poll, unfortunately, but maybe someone is listening and can help?)
 

JEB

Hero
Just to be clear, I'm not saying this poll is perfect, or that it couldn't have been improved, or that 389 results represent the feelings of every single D&D player on the planet. Those would be silly assertions; even the polls Wizards does themselves don't meet that standard, and they're certainly more comprehensive than my simple little survey.

But I do think the results have meaning for the respondents, and likely reflect the general preferences of the forums I polled. And they may possibly reflect some larger trends in the D&D community, since there were some broadly consistent patterns. Maybe the results are a complete fluke, but I don't think that's likely.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So if 100% of people said they wanted to keep alarm, you don't think that maybe Wizards might want to keep alarm in the game?
The standard WotC uses to make those sorts of decisions in their surveys are an average of 4/5 on a 5-point scale. If a UA Subclass gets a 3 from everyone, which would be a check on your survey, it doesn't make the cut. That's the point: these are matters that require a sliding scale, not a binary consideration.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
But I do think the results have meaning for the respondents, and likely reflect the general preferences of the forums I polled. And they may possibly reflect some larger trends in the D&D community, since there were some broadly consistent patterns. Maybe the results are a complete fluke, but I don't think that's likely.
That's the thing, though, there is no way to demonstrate from the data any of those suppositions. I actually don't care about any of the actual points in the final results one way or another, more the principles of statistical analysis and survey design: I don't care for the World Axis, and my hypothesis is that 9% of players at large don't even know what it is. That nearly 10% of your respondents are holding a flame for the World Axis is one of the signs of a sampling issue.
 

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