D&D 5E What would 5E be like if the playtest's modularity promise was kept?


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I honestly think 5E is a bit more modular than what everybody feels that it isn't. It's just that a lot of those "modular" options are not really officially done by WoTC and a lot of it is more reliant/has been done via 3PP sources. (See Adventures in Middle-Earth 5E Journies/Audiences rules, Iron Kingdom: Requiem's Adventuring Companies, etc, etc, etc.)
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I honestly think 5E is a bit more modular than what everybody feels that it isn't. It's just that a lot of those "modular" options are not really officially done by WoTC and a lot of it is more reliant/has been done via 3PP sources. (See Adventures in Middle-Earth 5E Journies/Audiences rules, Iron Kingdom: Requiem's Adventuring Companies, etc, etc, etc.)
Most of the optional DMG rules that people are calling modules are just optional rules that we saw in 3e as well. I think it's more modular than 3e was, but significantly less so than they were aiming for in the Cook's quote. I also think that achieving what Cook wanted was probably a pipe dream. They could have gone further, though, and that's what I'm most disappointed with.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I honestly think 5E is a bit more modular than what everybody feels that it isn't. It's just that a lot of those "modular" options are not really officially done by WoTC and a lot of it is more reliant/has been done via 3PP sources. (See Adventures in Middle-Earth 5E Journies/Audiences rules, Iron Kingdom: Requiem's Adventuring Companies, etc, etc, etc.)
Well, on that front, they tend to overpower UA options and pate back in internal playtesting as needed. On the other hand, they are not worried about Level 20 characters being awesome.
I really like this change. I was a bit disappointed that feats were optional to begin with and tying a bonus feat or two to backgrounds is a great way to give those backgrounds greater meaning and influence in the game.
I actually hate Feats, and would have preferred no Feats in the PHB at all. However, this Background schene is fantastic, and might bring together people from across that spectrum.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Whatever reason they had, they didn't go where they said they would and a lot of us were really exited over the prospect of the modules. I love 5e. I'm still really disappointed that it's not modular in the way that they said it would be.
What I'm saying is, they made the modular structure they intended to. What changed is that after Cook wrote that article they teally began the surveying process that discovered how people were playing and wanted to play, and that is what changed their goalposts for what constituted the big tent.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What I'm saying is, they made the modular structure they intended to. What changed is that after Cook wrote that article they teally began the surveying process that discovered how people were playing and wanted to play, and that is what changed their goalposts for what constituted the big tent.
Do you have statements from them to that effect? I think it could just as easily been that it was too much trouble to go through, rather than catering to the playtesters.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Do you have statements from them to that effect? I think it could just as easily been that it was too much trouble to go through, rather than catering to the playtesters.
Back when they were actively talking about survey results, in the Wild west days, they said that their standard for putting stuff I'm the core rules was 90% approval from the playtesters. The only sources I could find on a quick search were the Sage Advice interviews from a few years back where Crawford talked about lowering thst standard to 70% so they could get any options published for Xanathar's Guide, but the 90% threshold was what they did for the D&D Next playtest. So, any option that wasn't in the 90th percentile was outside of the big tent.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Back when they were actively talking about survey results, in the Wild west days, they said that their standard for putting stuff I'm the core rules was 90% approval from the playtesters. The only sources I could find on a quick search were the Sage Advice interviews from a few years back where Crawford talked about lowering thst standard to 70% so they could get any options published for Xanathar's Guide, but the 90% threshold was what they did for the D&D Next playtest. So, any option that wasn't in the 90th percentile was outside of the big tent.
I took that to mean specific options, like Module X, Y or Z, not an over concept like classes, races or modules.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I find the idea Monte presented intriguing, but I understand why it was not really discussed by WotC past that article. While adding modules is certainly possible, the modularity he hinted at is particularly difficult. But thank you for finding his actual quote.

Regarding your suggestions, I don't think they are quite hitting on the concept Monte is talking about. One of the things your suggestion seems to be missing is the idea that these different modules could be played at the same time. Discrete rules modules are definitely possible with 5e (and somewhat already present), the difficulty is getting them to work simultaneously.
Yeah, I remember it being said at one point that you’d be able to have each player playing a character built like it was from a different edition, and even at the time that sounded like a pretty absurd claim. But, I gave WotC the benefit of the doubt that they were trying to build an edition that would be highly customizable, and I don’t think that ever really came to fruition.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I took that to mean specific options, like Module X, Y or Z, not an over concept like classes, races or modules.
When they were doing the Next playtests and surveys, they covered the most universal concepts of the game, and hyperspecifix elements like the lore of given Monsters. It was pretty comprehensive, UT I think theybmade the business decision that certain playstyles didn't make sense to support, even if the rules allowed it. Hence no Warlord or Psion after 8 years of publications....
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Back when they were actively talking about survey results, in the Wild west days, they said that their standard for putting stuff I'm the core rules was 90% approval from the playtesters. The only sources I could find on a quick search were the Sage Advice interviews from a few years back where Crawford talked about lowering thst standard to 70% so they could get any options published for Xanathar's Guide, but the 90% threshold was what they did for the D&D Next playtest. So, any option that wasn't in the 90th percentile was outside of the big tent.
I thought it was 80%, but it was a long time ago and memory is unreliable.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I thought it was 80%, but it was a long time ago and memory is unreliable.
Nope, 90%. Though they did fail in the end, notably with the Ranger. But it does seem that certain playstyles they just decided to ignore at some point, and I think that was a business numbers decision (cruel and calculating as that can be), not a design decision. 5E can do a Warlord, they have chosen not to.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Just going to say, I think “New School Essentials” is a brilliant idea. I also don’t think it would take much to create under the OGL. Something pretty close to what we saw in the earliest playtest documents with almost everything being resolved by the ability check mechanic, and proficiency bonus applicable mostly at GM discretion instead of having a codified skill list. Stick to the core 4 races and classes and a very lightweight spell list, no feats. Everything else, from subclasses to additional classes to feats to ability score increases become optional add-ons. You wouldn’t be able to play a B/X style character, an AD&D style character, a 3e style character, and a 4e style character all in the same party, but you could build the ideal d20 ruleset for your group.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Nope, 90%. Though they did fail in the end, notably with the Ranger. But it does seem that certain playstyles they just decided to ignore at some point, and I think that was a business numbers decision (cruel and calculating as that can be), not a design decision. 5E can do a Warlord, they have chosen not to.
They never even tried with the warlord, they just lumped it in with Illusionist and Assassin as concepts that could be expressed as a subclass despite no one who actually wants a warlord agreeing that would be satisfying. And then they gave the Battlemaster a single warlord-ish maneuver and the valor bard Extra Attack and called it done.
 

Ondath

Adventurer
Just going to say, I think “New School Essentials” is a brilliant idea. I also don’t think it would take much to create under the OGL. Something pretty close to what we saw in the earliest playtest documents with almost everything being resolved by the ability check mechanic, and proficiency bonus applicable mostly at GM discretion instead of having a codified skill list. Stick to the core 4 races and classes and a very lightweight spell list, no feats. Everything else, from subclasses to additional classes to feats to ability score increases become optional add-ons. You wouldn’t be able to play a B/X style character, an AD&D style character, a 3e style character, and a 4e style character all in the same party, but you could build the ideal d20 ruleset for your group.
I was going to say that I'm a bit saddened to see nobody tackled the comparison with OSE's approach that I mentioned in the OP (my fault for writing a small novel, I suppose!). I might have missed the mark in how I presented the genre rules I suggested (the Basic/Advanced genre rules in OSE play much better with each other compared to my ideas), but I think there is a clear distinction between what OSE did ("Here is an entire ruleset that adds several different rules together on top of the simple engine to make it support AD&D-style games") and the kind of modularity people say 5E already has ("Here are a list of variant rules buried in the DMG, we won't bother telling how you could build a holistic genre by combining which ones with which, you figure that out yourself!")
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
They never even tried with the warlord, they just lumped it in with Illusionist and Assassin as concepts that could be expressed as a subclass despite no one who actually wants a warlord agreeing that would be satisfying. And then they gave the Battlemaster a single warlord-ish maneuver and the valor bard Extra Attack and called it done.
I am very cybical about what motivates WotC to do anything (money, specifically), and I believe they would have done more of there was the market for it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't see damage on a miss as being any different than saving for half damage from a fireball or lightning bolt. I think it's perfectly acceptable as "misses" are not you swing and whiff on enemies.
I guess I see most if not all combat misses" as in fact being outright misses - you either didn't connect with the foe at all or your connection was of so little impact that the foe could - and did - ignore it completely.

Contrast this with being caught in a fireball. There's no way it can miss you entirely, the question is merely how much damage did it cause.

And it only just this minute occured to me after nearly 40 years: the save-for-half mechanic might be no more than a simple way of replicating the idea that not everyone is going to take the same amount of damage from a given effect. More accurate - but also more cumbersome - would be to roll the damage separately for each creature in the area.
Giving such an ability to the Fighter would only shore up the class and make a player feel better about "your turn comes up, you attack, you roll a 2, you're done".
Rolling a 2 and being done is, to me, just part of the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Nope, 90%. Though they did fail in the end, notably with the Ranger. But it does seem that certain playstyles they just decided to ignore at some point, and I think that was a business numbers decision (cruel and calculating as that can be), not a design decision. 5E can do a Warlord, they have chosen not to.
They didn't go with 90% even then. There's no way that 90% wanted the inclusion of alignment. There's no way 90% wanted bounded accuracy. There's no way 90% wanted a multiple classes that made it in. There's no way that 90% wanted spells not to scale with level. I doubt very many things at all got a full 90%. That's not how humanity works.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I am very cybical about what motivates WotC to do anything (money, specifically), and I believe they would have done more of there was the market for it.
I am similarly cynical about their motivations, but I don’t think the issue with the Warlord was a lack of market for one. It’s just that the presence of a warlord was perceived as more likely to be a deal-breaker for the folks who didn’t want one than its absence would be for those who did.
 

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