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D&D 5E What Single Thing Would You Eliminate

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Yeah, this is the real underlying reason why 4e is so well-liked (particularly in retrospect) in a large segment of the community. Because the FIRST THING that happened when it was designed is someone said "this is a game" and all the weird 'but it has to be realistic' crippling thinking went out the window. What you need in an RPG is 'story thinking', what will make a game that plays a good fun story, both in outcome and process. One aspect of that is that we can understand what is going on and the fiction has some 'bite' to it. So we do want a sort of map of expectations, which are ultimately derived from actual human experience in the real world, to exist between the fiction and the way the game process interacts with it and how that whole interplay works.

What we don't want is "that isn't realistic, so you can't do it." That's what mother nature tells me in the real world, which is exactly why I play RPGs. There was more to it than just this aspect, but you often see this part raise its ugly head when people talk about weapons or something like that. In terms of the 'trident vs sword', I guess you could argue that the rules should favor swords, but you can equally well argue that should be up to the players. It is of course logically impossible for a single game to cater to both wishes...
That depends on the types of stories you like. If you think it's cool for A-Ko to run up a trail of bombs as they're falling from the sky, then getting rid of the idea of things not being realistic enough is fine. But that turns people off too. Setting boundaries isn't "crippling" at all, certainly not more than choosing any single set of genre conventions rather than another.
 

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rmcoen

Explorer
Saving throws. Everything is an attack.
I enjoyed 4e. I liked the simplicity of "everything is an attack". I liked that archers could use "armor-piercing arrows" and attack Reflex instead of AC. In the saving throw system of 5e, that would be mechanically identical to saying "Armor-Piercing Strike: target makes a DEX save or suffers X"... but that sounds and feels weird.

On the other hand... saves being a different mechanic currently allows spellcasters to get away with some hijinks in melee combat. "Oh, I'm being threatened? I don't use a ranged spell attack, then, I used a ranged saving throw spell. No disadvantage!" Or, in my game where the consequence of a Nat 1 is "disad on your next d20 roll; effect lasts no longer than the end of your next turn", same thing: cast a save-spell, so the disad doesn't apply. Bug or feature, two different mechanics allow two different results.
 

Reynard

Legend
I enjoyed 4e. I liked the simplicity of "everything is an attack". I liked that archers could use "armor-piercing arrows" and attack Reflex instead of AC. In the saving throw system of 5e, that would be mechanically identical to saying "Armor-Piercing Strike: target makes a DEX save or suffers X"... but that sounds and feels weird.

On the other hand... saves being a different mechanic currently allows spellcasters to get away with some hijinks in melee combat. "Oh, I'm being threatened? I don't use a ranged spell attack, then, I used a ranged saving throw spell. No disadvantage!" Or, in my game where the consequence of a Nat 1 is "disad on your next d20 roll; effect lasts no longer than the end of your next turn", same thing: cast a save-spell, so the disad doesn't apply. Bug or feature, two different mechanics allow two different results.
One thing I have wondered but never taken the time to investigate is whether spells are balanced based on whether they require attack rolls versus saves, and if so which way does the balance skew.
 

rmcoen

Explorer
Reflavoring is always the easy option but the trident never feels right because it and a few others don't fit into the unofficial formula on weapons:

Weapon deals d6.
Die size increases if:
-Heavy
-2-handed
-Versatile (being wielded in two hands)
-Martial
Die size decreases if:
-Light
-Ammunition without Loading
-Reach
-Finesse and Throwing weapons don't exceed d6 and cannot be used 2-handed-

Now of course some things stand out, so if you want to be optimal you choose:
-Handaxe if you want to dual-wield light weapons (and don't need finesse).
-Rapier if you want to not dual-wield finesse weapons.
-Greatsword/Maul if you want to use a heavy 2-handed melee weapon.

But it also means if you can wield martial weapons you would be equal taking a spear to a trident, despite it being martial instead of simple. The obvious fix is to make it simple. The fix that would also make it work is upping the damage die to d8/d10 versatile but making it a d6 thrown (unnecessarily complicated). I suppose you could also make it the only d8 throwing weapon making it the superior ranged choice for Strength characters (like the Rapier is the superior melee choice for Dexterity characters) but that throws things off.
Naturally, the most reasonable thing is probably getting rid of the trident and making a trident a type of spear. Nothing is lost and one disparity is fixed.
There are many other tweaks you can add if you take a page from Pathfinder and expand the list of "what is a weapon property". For example, the trident might have all its current stats, but add "on a crit, the target is immobilized" (because they are impaled), or maybe "Reroll damage dice of 1s, once per hit" (because it has 3 points, not 1), or maybe "wielder can choose not to inflict the weapon's damage die to attempt a free "Shove/Knock Prone" manuever".
 

rmcoen

Explorer
One thing I have wondered but never taken the time to investigate is whether spells are balanced based on whether they require attack rolls versus saves, and if so which way does the balance skew.
That's a good question. One of the other quirks of "save spells" is that while attack-spells can critically hit, save-spells cannot. A firebolt can hit you in the face, but a fireball cannot. In a "Defenses, not saves" system like 4e, everything can critically hit. At our table, having just spent a decade playing one 4e campaign, we compromised: Roll a Nat 1 on a save-spell, you have been "critically hit" and suffer "maximum effect" - max damage, if applicable, or miss your next chance to save against an ongoing spell, or maximum duration, or whatever. Likewise, a Nat20 against a save-spell means "exceptional defense"; minimum damage, or no ongoing effect, or advantage against this spell from this caster next time. Thus a fireball Nat 1 = 48 guaranteed damage, while a Nat 20 = 4 (min 8, save for half).
 

rmcoen

Explorer
From the DM's side, I can see it being abusive, but from the player side it has some great advantages. Rather than get rid of it, I think it should have some limitation - as long as it prevents yo-yoing, I think the spell would be okay. Maybe put a stipulation on (all) healing spells that they have no effect on characters who are not first stabilized. Gives a lot of oomph to Spare the Dying (or having a medicine kit), makes healing a target before they drop to 0 much more enticing and puts a delay on bringing a downed character back too quickly, but not utterly preventing it.
My table uses "hit 0hp, gain a level of exhaustion". Healing Word is an emergency spell, subpar to the more powerful (but more action-costly and touch-ranged) Cure Wounds because you are likely to go down again quickly after the weak Healing Word! By the third drop, you're fairly useless in the fight (disad on attacks, saves, skills, and half speed).
 

I enjoyed 4e. I liked the simplicity of "everything is an attack". I liked that archers could use "armor-piercing arrows" and attack Reflex instead of AC. In the saving throw system of 5e, that would be mechanically identical to saying "Armor-Piercing Strike: target makes a DEX save or suffers X"... but that sounds and feels weird.

On the other hand... saves being a different mechanic currently allows spellcasters to get away with some hijinks in melee combat. "Oh, I'm being threatened? I don't use a ranged spell attack, then, I used a ranged saving throw spell. No disadvantage!" Or, in my game where the consequence of a Nat 1 is "disad on your next d20 roll; effect lasts no longer than the end of your next turn", same thing: cast a save-spell, so the disad doesn't apply. Bug or feature, two different mechanics allow two different results.
Isn't that more a symptom of thoughtlessly trying to remove the tactical grid combat components without giving enough thought to what function AoOs had within it
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The problem with trident is that some of the simple weapons, like spear, are a little overbudget for what they provide, and there's no space to make a martial version of the spear that isn't better than what the longsword was already budgeted at.
BS. There's tons of space, if the designers would only think just a tiny bit outside the little tiny box they've put themselves in.

If d6 is too low and d8 is too high, make it a d7 (i.e. d8 reroll 8s; and online rollers can do a d7 straight-up). Failing that, a not-as-good solution is to make it d6+1 for a 2-7 range.

If 7 is too high a maximum, then make it 2d3 instead of straight d6.

Or make it d8 when handheld, d6 when thrown. Or - and I'd love to see this - bring back the idea that some weapons are better vs small foes and others are better vs large foes.
It's not some terrible issue, but the weapon chart could have used a pass to make sure each weapon followed an overall budget and that martials were meaningful upgrades over every simple. Then we could have avoided some of the "proud nails" like rapiers, spears vs tridents, and greataxe vs greatsword.
That sounds a bit too "prepackaged" for my liking. I'd rather, if there's to be a soft formula, see something where exotic and-or rare weapons are better than common ones but the likelihood of finding magic common ones is way higher than finding magic exotics...or something like that.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What I'm saying is that if you're balancing everything just around damage - then, yes, make them all the same. But that's not what the trident does. It does a little less damage, but if you advance it to do 1d8 (1d10 with versatile), then it's actually better than the longsword, battleaxe, and warhammer because you can also throw it. The fact that you undervalue that Thrown property doesn't really make it subpar.
Thing is, trident - unlike spear or javelin which can be bundled or quivered - isn't something you can easily carry around a lot of; which means sure, you can throw it once - and then you've just disarmed yourself.

Put another way, adding the Thrown property to trident really doesn't do very much for it until-unless you find a Returning version.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
That sounds a bit too "prepackaged" for my liking. I'd rather, if there's to be a soft formula, see something where exotic and-or rare weapons are better than common ones but the likelihood of finding magic common ones is way higher than finding magic exotics...or something like that.
<shrug> If you don't use a formula and just eyeball it, it'll be unbalanced. If you use a formula, it'll end up seeming homogenous. Pick one.

I'd rather see less overall weapons, but each weapon more distinct with a real mechanical niche, and just list alternate forms of the weapon (rapier is just a shortsword, glaive and other long polearms use halberd stats, trident is just a spear, etc.) in the weapon description.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, this is the real underlying reason why 4e is so well-liked (particularly in retrospect) in a large segment of the community. Because the FIRST THING that happened when it was designed is someone said "this is a game" and all the weird 'but it has to be realistic' crippling thinking went out the window. What you need in an RPG is 'story thinking', what will make a game that plays a good fun story, both in outcome and process. One aspect of that is that we can understand what is going on and the fiction has some 'bite' to it. So we do want a sort of map of expectations, which are ultimately derived from actual human experience in the real world, to exist between the fiction and the way the game process interacts with it and how that whole interplay works.

What we don't want is "that isn't realistic, so you can't do it." That's what mother nature tells me in the real world, which is exactly why I play RPGs. There was more to it than just this aspect, but you often see this part raise its ugly head when people talk about weapons or something like that. In terms of the 'trident vs sword', I guess you could argue that the rules should favor swords, but you can equally well argue that should be up to the players. It is of course logically impossible for a single game to cater to both wishes...
To the bolded bits: I couldn't disagree more.

An equally-large (or, I dare say, larger) segment of the community wants a reasonable degree of [realism, believability, non-dissociation - pick whichever term you want] in the fiction, so they can use real-world knowledge to interact with it.

And I play RPGs to have my characters do stuff that I can't, but that doesn't mean the underlying setting needs to be unrealistic.
 

TheSword

Legend
Thing is, trident - unlike spear or javelin which can be bundled or quivered - isn't something you can easily carry around a lot of; which means sure, you can throw it once - and then you've just disarmed yourself.

Put another way, adding the Thrown property to trident really doesn't do very much for it until-unless you find a Returning version.
Sure but it’s a piercing weapon which underwater is really helpfully. Not to mention the fact that the weight and cost, not to mention the artwork suggests it’s made of metal. Unlike a wooden spear, which also wouldn’t last very long underwater.

Why do weapons have to be all things to all people, all the time. Why can’t the trident be niche.
 

TheSword

Legend
To the bolded bits: I couldn't disagree more.

An equally-large (or, I dare say, larger) segment of the community wants a reasonable degree of [realism, believability, non-dissociation - pick whichever term you want] in the fiction, so they can use real-world knowledge to interact with it.

And I play RPGs to have my characters do stuff that I can't, but that doesn't mean the underlying setting needs to be unrealistic.
I’d go so far as to say a unrealistic setting with gonzo stuff means that characters can’t reasonably predict what opponents can do. Which removes a massive element of strategy from the game. It tends to be a result of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ game planning and a Devil may care attitude to verisimilitude.
 

TheSword

Legend
That's a good question. One of the other quirks of "save spells" is that while attack-spells can critically hit, save-spells cannot. A firebolt can hit you in the face, but a fireball cannot. In a "Defenses, not saves" system like 4e, everything can critically hit. At our table, having just spent a decade playing one 4e campaign, we compromised: Roll a Nat 1 on a save-spell, you have been "critically hit" and suffer "maximum effect" - max damage, if applicable, or miss your next chance to save against an ongoing spell, or maximum duration, or whatever. Likewise, a Nat20 against a save-spell means "exceptional defense"; minimum damage, or no ongoing effect, or advantage against this spell from this caster next time. Thus a fireball Nat 1 = 48 guaranteed damage, while a Nat 20 = 4 (min 8, save for half).
Yeah, players make many more saves than that Orc that’s dead in two rounds does. So it hugely disadvantages players. Doesn’t feel much fun to me.
 

It isn't actually worse than other martial weapons. It's a 1d6 thrown(20) versatile. If you made it a 1d8, it would be straight up better than the longsword/warhammer/battle axe trio.

The problem with trident is that some of the simple weapons, like spear, are a little overbudget for what they provide, and there's no space to make a martial version of the spear that isn't better than what the longsword was already budgeted at.

Do this:
Trident, special property: You do not have disadvantage when attacking with a trident while swimming, regardless of whether you have a swim speed.
 




Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
An equally-large (or, I dare say, larger) segment of the community wants a reasonable degree of [realism, believability, non-dissociation - pick whichever term you want] in the fiction, so they can use real-world knowledge to interact with it.
The problem with this approach-- and I will never get tired of saying this-- is that the people who most want a reasonable sense of realism in D&D are the people with the least reasonable grasp of reality outside of it: the people whose sense of realism is based primarily on older forms of D&D with no understanding of the sacrifices older D&D made to reality for the sake of gameplay and genre conventions.

People who balk at a Monk surviving a 10d6 fall, but not a Fighter surviving a 12d8 breath weapon. People who replace Armor Class with Damage Reduction with no allowance for stilettos and warhammers. People who think it's unrealistic for a 7th level Fighter to reduce the -8 Armor Check Penalty for half plate armor, or a 6th level Ranger to fire three arrows in six seconds. People who think a smoothbore matchlock musket is a better weapon than the English longbow, that needs to cost a fortune and require specialized training to be balanced.

@TheSword makes a good point about consistency and predictability... but these things are not exclusively the product of "grounded realism" that doesn't take actual military history or athletic achievements into account.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Remember those weapon abilities from 3rd Edition? I really miss those.

Defensive: weapons with this property have wide flat surfaces that can be used as a rudimentary shield. While wielding a weapon with this property, you may use your Bonus action to interpose the weapon between you and your opponent, gaining a +1 bonus to AC until the beginning of your next turn. (Example: greataxe)

Disarming: weapons with this property have hooks or spikes that can be used to catch or snag an opponent's weapon or shield. While wielding a weapon with this property, you have Advantage on all ability checks and opposed rolls made to disarm your opponent. (Example: trident)

Staggering: weapons with this property are designed to use their mass to unbalance foes. While wielding a weapon with this property, you have Advantage on all ability checks and opposed rolls made to push or move your opponent. (Example: greatclub)

Tripping: weapons with this property have features that can be used to snag a creature's limbs. While wielding a weapon with this property, you have Advantage on all ability checks and opposed rolls made to knock your opponent prone. (Example: whip)

And so on.
 

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