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5.5E What is "compatible"?

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Some initial thoughts. Compatible can mean a lot of things, and allow for a lot of change. But not all changes.

Changes that are clearly compatible:

Options already introduced in latter books*
New stuff that is 5e compatible
Reinterpreting alignment or making it optional
Detailed revisions to existing spells and class features
Feat revisions, perhaps major ones, but feats stay
Clarifying stealth, surprise, and (other) ability checks
Monster math, as long as the intended power level of the creature is the same
Magic item revisions, optional rules, DM advice
Rewriting non-rules text
New art
Books that don’t fall apart.

Changes that may be compatible

Rebalancing the adventure day or approaching it in a different way…
…like the short-long rest balance of classes
…and or major changes to healing and death
Tweaking the combat action economy
More substantial revisions to higher level play
Subclasses that work with more than 1 class
Total rewrite of multiclassing and feat rules
Total rewrite of inspiration or similar system
Rewrite of skills/ability checks
New non-combat subsystems for exploration or NPC interaction.

Not compatible(?)

Big changes to intended monster power levels
Big changes to PC power levels (e.g. first level characters with 20 hp)
Big changes to saving throws or ability checks
Big changes to the action economy…
…including bonus actions and reactions
Going outside any D&D isms (there will still be d20 mechanic, ability scores, classes, hits points, something like races, monsters etc)

*Edit: though compatibility with pre-2024 options and new core books might be an issue.
 
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HippyCraig

Explorer
I’m also wondering how this will play out on dndbeyond. wen looking up Stuff in a players handbook will it merge the two related aticles with markings for each in the document etc.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I
In terms of the upcoming revision: being able to run existing Adventures as written while referencing the new MM and with PCs from the new PHB, or a new Adventure with PCs and Monsters from the older books. Or have a mix of PCs from the 2014 and 2024 core books working together.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
I
In terms of the upcoming revision: being able to run existing Adventures as written while referencing the new MM and with PCs from the new PHB, or a new Adventure with PCs and Monsters from the older books. Or have a mix of PCs from the 2014 and 2024 core books working together.

I’m also wondering how this will play out on dndbeyond. wen looking up Stuff in a players handbook will it merge the two related aticles with markings for each in the document etc.

So you could have the revised warlock and the classic warlock?

I am guessing one would replace the other. But its possible.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
It's not compatible if people with different PHBs can't be at the same table.

So what is compatible? Having different options. 2014 Fighter and 2024 Fighter can be different as long as both could be played at the same table and have the game run just fine.

It's also not compatible if I can't play future adventures with a 2014 Monster Manual.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's not compatible if people with different PHBs can't be at the same table.

So what is compatible? Having different options. 2014 Fighter and 2024 Fighter can be different as long as both could be played at the same table and have the game run just fine.

It's also not compatible if I can't play future adventures with a 2014 Monster Manual.
Yeah, this. The exceptions based design of 5E makes this very doable.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I
In terms of the upcoming revision: being able to run existing Adventures as written while referencing the new MM and with PCs from the new PHB, or a new Adventure with PCs and Monsters from the older books. Or have a mix of PCs from the 2014 and 2024 core books working together.
Not only that, but being able to play a newPHB Ranger with a Tasha’s or whatever subclass. Being able to take fears from any official 5e D&D book regardless of which PHB you built the character from.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Finally listing to the event.

Its an "evolution". The next evolution. Its clearly a big change--a multi-year project.

But completely compatible with all 5e books.
This is why I think what I said above is true.

compatible with all 5e books requires that the warlock still be a short rest based class, gain its subclass features at the same level, etc.

It doesn’t require that the Ranger learn spells, though, just that it has spell slots with which to cast any subclass or alt feature spells it might gain. So a variant option that uses spells slots to power exploration themed stuff with a short list, ranging from “poultices” to increased short rest healing, to forced march travel without exhaustion, to a specialized “trolls gift”/wolfsbane style poison system.
 

Stalker0

Legend
There are two "tiers" of compatible to me.

1) Two Systems, One Table: This is the standard level up is attempting. Aka I can play 2024 fighter and you can player 2014 fighter and we both feel reasonably good with no obvious problems, imbalances, or rules conflicts. I consider this one the higher standard and is the most restricting.

2) Adventure Module compatible. Basically a DM who reads through an adventure module written before 2024 could run it using 2024 books without issue. Aka no terms are used for completely different things, no monsters are so fundamentally changed that a "medium" encounter in the book becomes deadly with the 2024 versions, etc.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Not only that, but being able to play a newPHB Ranger with a Tasha’s or whatever subclass. Being able to take fears from any official 5e D&D book regardless of which PHB you built the character from.

I can't decide how hard it will be to be compatible with the supplements, or how much that limits changing the core books.

The ranger is such a special case that it can have its own treatment. But, if, say, the new PHB rogue has some long-rest recharge abilities, but most rogue archetypes in Tasha's or Xanathar's doesn't, does this matter?

And at some point, they will want to supplement the supplements. Maybe many years from now, or maybe sooner. But it will come up. With the monster books they are already doing it, before releasing the new core books.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
If you are talking about the 2024 announcement the wording wasn't "compatible", it was "fully compatible".

I read that to mean that you can 100% create any existing character. No grandfathered characters will need a single change. So changes like recalibrating the encounters-per-day, as much as I would dreadfully love such a thing, can not be on the table.

I think we'll get exactly what they have shown us with Tasha's. Races with ability scores assignable, and possibly changing the name from "race".

Classes with purely optional (so not required on existing characters) new features, like existing sorcerer subclasses getting free spells. Classes with more choices for features, allowing you to replace problematic ones as well as just give new options. Both of these were in Tasha's as well.

In other words, I read "fully compatible" as "you can create the exact same character as before and run it with other characters with no more problem then right now (which might be a level of problem), but there will be new options that might make you want to create it a different way".
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I read that to mean that you can 100% create any existing character.

I wouldn't read it that way. I think it means that if you have an existing character next to a new one, nothing is going to break.

No grandfathered characters will need a single change. So changes like recalibrating the encounters-per-day, as much as I would dreadfully love such a thing, can not be on the table.

I disagree. If they've decided that the current number of encounters per day is off for the classes already extant, then they could update that.
 

MarkB

Legend
I’m also wondering how this will play out on dndbeyond. wen looking up Stuff in a players handbook will it merge the two related aticles with markings for each in the document etc.
Their current approach is to use the original version of a thing when you access it from a particular book (subject to errata), but the most current version when accessing content outside of books (i.e. looking at the full list of character classes).
 

jgsugden

Legend
Can I pick up and use my old adventures with the new rules, and run the new adventures with the old rules? If yes, then it is compatible. If no, then I lament it is not compatible, gnash my teeth, cry at the storms of despair, and then spend a couple minutes making the necessary modifications.

Honestly, it is a non-issue. I can take Age of Worms, Shackled City, and other 3E adventures and run them in 5E with little or no preparation outside reading the 3E version and spending a couple minutes with the encounter builder on D&D beyond for a few of the encounters. The core of the game is storytelling, and the only change in editions that complicated the storytelling was into and out of 4E (and it wasn't terribly complicated either - just different enough to note). Beyond that, we're just talking minor tweaks to maintain balance.

I imagine that these new 5.5 rules will rebalance a few things that could be better (GWM, SS), clarify a few vague rules (stealth), rebalance a few class features (as we saw with the ranger already), etc... you'll likely be able to run with the old version of the feats or the new ones without breaking the game. You'll likely be able to use the old version of the vague rules or the clarified ones with no real difficulty. You'll likely be able to run either the old or new version of the ranger. All in all, it'll be fine and we'll make a bunch of hullabaloo about things that do not really change the game.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I wouldn't read it that way. I think it means that if you have an existing character next to a new one, nothing is going to break.



I disagree. If they've decided that the current number of encounters per day is off for the classes already extant, then they could update that.
If what you were saying was the case, they'd call it "compatible". I think that by calling it "fully compatible" that they are making a stronger statement. For example, changing number of spell slots per level, part of reducing the expected number of encounters per day to more where people run it, is not "fully compatible".
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Can I pick up and use my old adventures with the new rules, and run the new adventures with the old rules? If yes, then it is compatible. If no, then I lament it is not compatible, gnash my teeth, cry at the storms of despair, and then spend a couple minutes making the necessary modifications.

Honestly, it is a non-issue. I can take Age of Worms, Shackled City, and other 3E adventures and run them in 5E with little or no preparation outside reading the 3E version and spending a couple minutes with the encounter builder on D&D beyond for a few of the encounters. The core of the game is storytelling, and the only change in editions that complicated the storytelling was into and out of 4E (and it wasn't terribly complicated either - just different enough to note). Beyond that, we're just talking minor tweaks to maintain balance.

I imagine that these new 5.5 rules will rebalance a few things that could be better (GWM, SS), clarify a few vague rules (stealth), rebalance a few class features (as we saw with the ranger already), etc... you'll likely be able to run with the old version of the feats or the new ones without breaking the game. You'll likely be able to use the old version of the vague rules or the clarified ones with no real difficulty. You'll likely be able to run either the old or new version of the ranger. All in all, it'll be fine and we'll make a bunch of hullabaloo about things that do not really change the game.
What you want is one thing. But if they are claiming to deliver something "fully compatible" (and carry through on their claims), then they aren't providing something that will need modification. For example there might be new, additional feats that are like GWM and SS that you call out, but they won't invalidate the existing GWM or SS and still be fully compatible, since that will require changes on existing characters.
 



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