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

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Really I don't think the real issue is modularity and more that WOTC deciding not to make major modular after the initial release. More "no new classes unless the setting requires" and "Outside of Eberron, no major rules variants". WOTC decided to shift any major rules variant, major setting rules, and new classes to 3PP.


However due to TCOE and MOTM, I think WOTC is regretting not making 5e a bit more modular as they are now on new monster, race, and class paradigms. Tasha's and MOTM races, classes, and monsters could and should have been the original style. Or even more blank and swappable.
 

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glass

(he, him)
I don't think so. The idea that Monte suggested died when Monte left the design team, if not before. People held on to that idea, but that article by Monte was about the only time WotC talked about that degree of modularity.
That was probably the only time that were that unequivocal, but it certainly was not the only time they talked in that way. That said, modularity certainly died very early in the process; long before the PHB was published. Certainly long before "release schedule" could have been a factor.



Anyway, what would a truly-modular system that made a genuine effort to support the playstyles of all prior editions look like? Firstly, to get the obvious out of the way, it would have to be modular in a new way - regardless of whether previous editions could be described as "modular" in some sense, this would need to be something else. EDIT: Which is not to say it would not also have switches/setting rules/varients in older senses.

Certain key subsystems would be presented as modules, and there would be a choice of module right there in the core rules. The obvious example would be combat (with gridded tactical combat, ToTM, probably others), but there would be others. Each module would have the same hooks for external interface, so any applicable abilities would (as far as possible) work with any module. SO for example, forced movement will not mean exactly the same thing in each module, but it will almost always means something.

I think it would look a lot more like 4e than real5e ended up being, not because I am a 4e fan and would prefer it that way (although I am and I would), but for purely practical reasons: When trying to accomplish a huge and unprecedented feat of game design, there simply is not time to throw 4e away and reinvent the wheel.

I am sure there is more I could say, but that is all I can think of right now.

_
glass.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
Maybe, but my own suspicion is it was the desire for a unified base mechanic that ultimately killed modularity.

Modularity works best when each module is - and uses - its own discrete mechanical subsystem that doesn't really affect much else other than itself. 1e, for all its other faults, somehow got this bang-on right: you could chop out, add, or tweak entire blocks of 1e without really affecting very much else in the overall system or setting any mechanics precedents other subsystems would then be expected to adhere to.

Don't like the way turning undead works in 1e? Then feel free to change it, safe in the knowledge that as nothing else in the game uses that particular subsystem you won't be affecting how anything else works. Don't like the system 1e used for weapon vs armour type? Then feel free to change it or drop it, safe in knowing that you won't affect much if anything else.

3e-4e-5e, with their reliance on unified mechanics, also carry a tone of mechanical precedent (for lack of a better term); by which I mean there's an inherent sense that if you change one mechanic you're expected to change all the other mechanics along with it in order to keep the whole thing unified; and while this may make things easier in play it fights like hell against modularity.
I don't think AD&D is modular insomuch as easier to jury rig. For example, you can't really replace the initiative system without messing up spell segments, but you could ignore all the casting time and weapon speed and just roll a die to see who goes first. Likewise, you could use the Basic ability score mods (+3 to -3) instead of AD&D's system, but it would mess up just enough things that you'd have to either keep making further adjustments (how does a girdle of giant strength work? What about a bend bars roll?) or keep ignoring things to make it work (how does it work with mage learning spells rolls, cleric bonus spells, thief skill adjustment, etc).

With later editions, the moving parts integrate more evenly, so radical changes would make greater impacts on the system at large.
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Except of course, Advantage wasn't the only mechanic, as you can see with inspiration dice, guidance, bless, and that one battlemaster manuever. So "we got rid of all the fiddly +1's" has the caveat "by replacing them with rerolls and extra dice".
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Which makes perfect sense. If some people really want to play D&D in the style of 2E... why play an edited version of 5E to do it when you could still just play 2E? Everyone else wants to play 5E as-is and thus changing the style of the game seems unnecessary.
Because it's not enough to want to play another game. You have to get a critical mass of players who also want to play that game. So many people who would be happier playing something else (myself, for example), play and mod 5e because in practice it's nearly the only game in town.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The hate began long before it was used on any subsequent races. When the info from Tasha leaked, people hated how WotC was forcing this down their throats by simply presenting the option in the book (with the assumption players would FORCE DMs to use it because it's an Official rule). Even if WotC hadn't used floating ASI on future races, the Tasha rule was enough for people's blood to boil.
True, but all those folks who worried that this would be the new law of the land were very quickly proven right, weren't they?
 

Remathilis

Legend
True, but all those folks who worried that this would be the new law of the land were very quickly proven right, weren't they?
Perhaps, but it was drowned out by the strength to mass ratio of halflings and goliaths. Being right after the fact doesn't change the fact the original rule was hated even when it was still assumed to be an optional one.
 

Ondath

Hero
Their greedily and desperately huffing on Advantage as basically the only mechanic probably had a hand in it considering how narrow it made the design space.
It's true that Advantage is a bit too binary the way it is currently used, but I think coupling it with a single additional dice that steps up if multiple things stack in the form of expertise dice in A5E pretty much covers everything else. I think you can have a simple but deep dice rulling system just with proficiency and ability bonuses, dis/advantage and expertise dice. Hats off to A5E's design team for coming up with such an elegant method.
 

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