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


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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
There's a handful of 4e-isms that were rejected out of turn immediately by some people that I find it amusing when they come back later and go "huh, you know, actually, that wasn't a bad idea".

Bloodied, damage on a miss (there was a huge and almost violent group of people posting about this one during the Next playtest saying "it didn't make sense"), limited healing, skill challenges (overused in 4e, IMO, but occasionally useful), or minions.

It's as if there was a curse on the whole edition, and people wanted to avoid the lot of it like a plague!

I've had a second thought regarding 5e's modularity. I wonder if the "rulings not rules" approach came out of early discussions of "plug and play" rules modules. For example, the Stealth rules they claimed they had made in-house but didn't launch with the final product.

Perhaps what they landed on was the idea to leave the game open enough that DM's could easily replace large sections of the rules with their own preferences, since I can't think of anything off hand that would cause 5e to collapse like a house of cards if you were to change it.

Even bounded accuracy could be done away with, if you gave some thought to what DC's and AC's you wanted to see.

The only problem I've ever had with this approach is there's little guidance to let you know how to go about this, and, well, there does reach a point where you feel like you're doing the developer's work for them- the effort required makes you wonder why you didn't save some money and make your own game, lol.
 

It's as if there was a curse on the whole edition, and people wanted to avoid the lot of it like a plague!
It became popular to hate the edition, not for what it did (right or wrong) but for the meme of it. like people hating nicholback or the Youtube channel Cinemasins causing people to dislike movies over jokes...

WotC feared the same memes being used against 5e. I would hope 10 years later people would drop it but you still see "Fighters had spells" and "How can something without blood be bloodied" or my personal favorite complaint "The whole thing was just an MMO"

it wasn't cursed, it was targeted by a few vocal people who went the RPG equivalent of viral.
 

Oofta

Legend
It became popular to hate the edition, not for what it did (right or wrong) but for the meme of it. like people hating nicholback or the Youtube channel Cinemasins causing people to dislike movies over jokes...

WotC feared the same memes being used against 5e. I would hope 10 years later people would drop it but you still see "Fighters had spells" and "How can something without blood be bloodied" or my personal favorite complaint "The whole thing was just an MMO"

it wasn't cursed, it was targeted by a few vocal people who went the RPG equivalent of viral.
It was also simply disliked by a lot of people who played it for several years and who initially embraced it fully. No game is perfect, but some versions of the game simply didn't have staying power.
 

It was also simply disliked by a lot of people who played it for several years and who initially embraced it fully. No game is perfect, but some versions of the game simply didn't have staying power.
and that has to do with what I said( and was answering directly) about why WotC was distancing how??? IN what world is this a respectful response to me and what I said?
how can this be ANYTHING but trying to pick a fight:
ome versions of the game simply didn't have staying power.
if you wanted to respond to the original with an alternant theory here is what I was responding to...
It's as if there was a curse on the whole edition, and people wanted to avoid the lot of it like a plague!
unless you are only interested in starting another edition war skirmish by responding to a 4e fan with this to try to argue?

No game is perfect,
no one ever claimed any different... in fact my #1 complaint on this board (and on reedit and when I was on twitter) was that after the HUGE leap forward 4e was WotC abandoned most of it to go back to 3eisms in stead of improving on the flaws.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I mean, I initially hated 4e, and I have no problems saying so. The game, as presented by the initial three books, just didn't "wow" me. It didn't seem to do much that would make me want to switch from 3.5. With 3.5, I could create any kind of character, monster, NPC, magic item, whatever, I needed to, out of a vast sea of modular components.

I had a ton of 3.5 books, work I'd done on my home games, custom races- heck, 3.5 let me play a MONSTER! How cool is that? What did 4e have to offer?

Encounter based powers? Yeah, uh, most of the melee were playing classes out of The Tome of Battle in my game. If you wanted, you can be a Dragonfire Adept or Warlock. Maybe the Warlock needed a little fixing, I was down with that.

But a few years into the game, I tried it again, and that's when it clicked. I could now appreciate what the game was trying to do, and there were now tons of neat options to play with. And the more I played, the more I wanted to play.

My problem with 5e is it's slower development cycle. I played it. I ran it. I said "you know, there's a lot of things I'd like to see that just aren't here. Well, maybe it's time to take a break."

Then you come back after a few years and....not much has changed! One or two new books drop that offer new options or change how things work, and that's interesting, but the things you thought should have been addressed by now...haven't been.

And it's not just rules or player options. Where is the rest of the Forgotten Realms? Don't worry about that, we're going to move on to other campaign settings!

Where's the DMG2? Or other DM facing content to help you run the game better? Where's my Sandstorm or Dungeonscape?

Nowhere to be seen. And why?

Because the number of DM's is too small a percentage of the player base to justify making a book for them?

For the edition that supposedly empowers the DM, I don't feel especially supported.
 

Oofta

Legend
and that has to do with what I said( and was answering directly) about why WotC was distancing how??? IN what world is this a respectful response to me and what I said?
how can this be ANYTHING but trying to pick a fight:

if you wanted to respond to the original with an alternant theory here is what I was responding to...

unless you are only interested in starting another edition war skirmish by responding to a 4e fan with this to try to argue?


no one ever claimed any different... in fact my #1 complaint on this board (and on reedit and when I was on twitter) was that after the HUGE leap forward 4e was WotC abandoned most of it to go back to 3eisms in stead of improving on the flaws.

I think people being critical of a game you enjoyed was not some conspiracy, the game simply didn't meet the company's goals. As far as what the design should be, we simply disagree. After playing for several years, I don't think 4E was a step forward. I blame WOTC management for much of this, they pushed the game out the door before it was ready.
 

Chris Currie

Explorer
6h09jc.jpg
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I think the designers of 5e made the right call. Integrated design just works better from a technical perspective. 5e is a better game for understanding its own strengths. The core elements that make 4e a quality design require the same sort of deeply integrated core.

I do wish that when it came to supplemental material like classes, subclasses, feats and spells that Wizards was a bit more willing to put material that was not designed for every table.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I've never liked Bards as full casters or even half-casters; and prefer them to have instead a curated list of effects (that may appear and in some cases even be magical) they can achieve through manipulation of sound.
My preference of Bard would have been a non-caster rogue type with "Bardic Points" that could be used for inspiration, music effects, and magic via the Magic of Music.

I think people being critical of a game you enjoyed was not some conspiracy, the game simply didn't meet the company's goals. As far as what the design should be, we simply disagree. After playing for several years, I don't think 4E was a step forward. I blame WOTC management for much of this, they pushed the game out the door before it was ready.
The funny thing is 5e kept a LOT of 4e-isms. It just renamed a bunch of them. So much that it really feels that 4e was more a right place wrong time deal or "delay launch 8-9 months and 4e would be 5e" deal.


---
But back to the main discussion. 5e could have been a very basic base with edition based modules you stacked on. Instead it's a 3e-ish edition with 4e-ism panted up like 1e and 2e.

Strixhaven got mixed reviews because 5e's based wasn't modular for the originally planned ideas and got stuck going hard on a secondary one. I think 5e is at the point where the developer wished 5e was built to be more modular if you look at the last few releases.
 




Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:
@GMforPowergamers and @Oofta

You guys have been warned about your clashes. You are done in this discussion.

For whatever reason, you two can't seem to keep from going at it. I suggest both of you consider using the ignore list at this point, because if I have to pull you to apart again, you are at risk of being given a vacation from the site.
 


Remathilis

Legend
It would probably be a mess. I like the idea of modularity myself, but I suspect they dropped it because they couldn't get it to work as intended.

There is that too. Modular design not only has to agree with the baseline defaults, but it has to1p agree with all other modules current and future. Anyone who used 3.5's UA knows that those modules weren't designed to work together and if you weren't careful, they made unholy abominations of 3.5s already tenuous balance.
 

Ondath

Adventurer
This legitimately made me chuckle.

Also, I did not expect the thread to get so big! I really want to engage with people who added a lot of valid points about the feasibility of a modular system as well as the ideas I presented at the end, but I've had a really horrible day and a half IRL, so I wasn't able to look at the thread with a straight head. I'll try to respond when I have more time.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
A spellcasting subclass could easily be added.

My hot take on the Thread's Title Question:

It would probably be a mess. I like the idea of modularity myself, but I suspect they dropped it because they couldn't get it to work as intended.
It really depends on the level of modularity.

Like I feel 5e is just a step or two too hardcoded to meet those first mod goals. But if you look at XGTE, TCOE, and MOTM, you can see that if 5e was peeled back and run off a few different assumptions, it could have worked.

But that's hindsight.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
It really depends on the level of modularity.

Like I feel 5e is just a step or two too hardcoded to meet those first mod goals. But if you look at XGTE, TCOE, and MOTM, you can see that if 5e was peeled back and run off a few different assumptions, it could have worked.

But that's hindsight.

Yes, at this point it would probably be 'safe' to create a few options, as long as they are not planning on changing the game drastically in the near future (which I doubt). I wonder if they'd consider it worthwhile, though, as they have reached a level of popularity that usually leads to conservation, not experimentation.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Yes, at this point it would probably be 'safe' to create a few options, as long as they are not planning on changing the game drastically in the near future (which I doubt). I wonder if they'd consider it worthwhile, though, as they have reached a level of popularity that usually leads to conservation, not experimentation.
I think 5e is passed the point of conservatism. Anything WOTC publishes has to include things that are "more work than doing myself". Anything without major variants, options, or customization content will have to be full adventure to sell.
 

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