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D&D 5E What would you change?

Einlanzer0

Explorer
5e is great, but it isn't perfect. What are the design choices you find most problematic, and how (in a broad sense) would you fix them?

Here's my list, in order of egregiousness:

The skill system - I like rule simplicity, but a simple binary system is just not good enough. Proficiency should be tiered. I'd have 4 proficiency levels - non-proficient (as raw), amateur (half prof. bonus), proficient (as raw), and expert (proficiency bonus + 3). I also think they really bungled the skills tied to Int and Wis. I'd revise those skills in particular.
Int - Medicine, Machinery, Folklore, Arcana, and Tactics. Investigation wasn't well thought out - as far as Int's role is concerned, it should be baked into the individual knowledge skills. So, investigation should involve a combination of subject matter expertise (Int) combined with perceptiveness and insight (Wis). Tactics is a new skill that gives Int something useful pertaining to combat that any and all characters can benefit from (i.e., Int is no longer "as soon as someone else is good at it I don't have to be").
Wis - Composure (for social grace and to counter fear/madness), Insight, Focus, Nursing (for both humanoids and animals), Survival - Perception becomes an entirely passive mechanic and is no longer a skill

Too dump stat oriented - the attributes (other than perhaps Dex) do not do enough outside of class abilities. Some people like this; I don't - I think it makes attributes dull and pointless, and it leads to lack of character diversity within a given class. I'd tie more mechanics to each in an attempt to make all attributes at least somewhat attractive for all classes. Int would grant bonus proficiencies along with Tactics as a useful combat-oriented skill. Charisma would be baked into the Inspiration mechanic as well as Reknown. Encumbrance is too fiddly, so I'd give all weapons and armor a minimum strength requirement for proficiency (this also helps circumvent the paradoxical and hyper-unrealistic "8 strength Longbow master" problem we see in the core rules)

Rules for small races - Small race rules should be relative, not absolute. A small race in an environment with nothing but small races should not have special rules applied to them. So I would not have rules like "can't use two handed weapons". I would instead have written more comprehensive size rules that are only applied when interacting with targets of different size categories. For example, having Str based attacks do half damage against medium or larger targets, or granting AC bonus against larger targets.

Scaling on basic items - Items like Basic Poison and Healing potions should possess a modicum of scaling with level. Not a lot, mind you, but some. A 10th level character using a basic healing potion should healed for moderately more HP than a 1st level character using a basic healing potion. I'd revise the formulas for all these items. Poison would probably damage based on target level/CR, scaling from 1d4 up to 2d6 or something.

No official scholarly cleric variant - I've always found the lack of a prominent wizardly cleric in D&D weird and offputting, IMO, there needs to be an official variant that turns clerics into d6 HD robe wearers with a lot of scholarly knowledge and a spell list as good as the wizard's.

No rules for "multiclassing" subclasses
- This is a pretty obvious thing that really shouldn't have been overlooked. Subclasses were a great concept, but they should have been designed in a way that allowed for branching and going back within a class to built more complex characters.

4 Attacks for fighters - it feels ridiculous with Action surge. I'd replace fighter's level 20 ability with something equally potent but less conceptually absurd, and ideally something that has a more versatile role, such as a boon for tank fighters.
 
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Satyrn

First Post
The only thing I don't really like is the Skill system, but for like the opposite reason as you.

I want it simpler. Non-existent, actually. I've grown to feel that, while it may model a character's specialized knowledge and capabilities, it's just fiddly details that take away from the idea that these are heroes.

I'd rather everything just be ability checks (without proficiency), with classes/races/backgrounds giving advantage on the certain rolls, like the thief would have advantage on checks to open locks, the ranger would get advantage on checks to track a creature. Etc.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
The only thing I don't really like is the Skill system, but for like the opposite reason as you.

I want it simpler. Non-existent, actually. I've grown to feel that, while it may model a character's specialized knowledge and capabilities, it's just fiddly details that take away from the idea that these are heroes.

I'd rather everything just be ability checks (without proficiency), with classes/races/backgrounds giving advantage on the certain rolls, like the thief would have advantage on checks to open locks, the ranger would get advantage on checks to track a creature. Etc.

Yeah, that's not my preference, because I like mechanical representation for traits and skills outside of combat, but it is an interesting idea. With that said, what you're saying is very easy to accomplish by simply eliminating skills from your game. Doesn't the DMG do something similar?
 
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Ed Laprade

First Post
Cleric of the God(ess) of Magic. Gets all spells from all spell lists. Anything less, and it obviously isn't the real deal. But then, I've always hated the arcane/divine split. Why can't Wizards heal, when they can do so many other things that are miraculous?
 

nswanson27

First Post
My biggie is that they doled out weapon proficiences way too liberally. It made a lot of weapon types virtually unused, and made a fun and interesting aspect of combat bland and overlooked.
 

Mistwell

Legend
5e is great, but it isn't perfect. What are the design choices you find most problematic, and how (in a broad sense) would you fix them?

Here's my list, in order of egregiousness:

The skill system - I like rule simplicity, but a simple binary system is just not good enough. Proficiency should be tiered. I'd have 4 proficiency levels - non-proficient (as raw), amateur (half prof. bonus), proficient (as raw), and expert (proficiency bonus + 3).

Sounds like you like the Bard skill system? That includes all four of these granular levels. They start non-proficient in some things and proficient in others, then get jack-of-all-trades for half-proficiency, and get expertise for double proficiency.

I wouldn't want that to be the system for all classes, but I enjoy it for the Bard class.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
Main design choices I find problematic:

1. Too high magic - nearly every subclass class has it.
2. Way too forgiving on death, dying and healing.
3. Attribute score are meaningless.
4. Long rest vs short rest class divide.

I would fix these by: removing some of the magic (no cantrips, make limited magic stronger), make dying easier (eg 1 death save only, implement injuries/setbacks, and some kind of formal retreat/escape rule), return to roll under attributes to make every attribute point matter, change all classes to "per long rest" abilities - there are no short rest abilities (except perhaps HD recovery).
 

Croesus

Adventurer
First, I wish the thread were titled "What would you change?", instead of "What don't you like?" There's just a negative vibe to the actual title. ("See what sending out them negative waves did, Moriarty?")

As for the rules, I feel that stat bonuses are too high for bounded accuracy. I'd go with 14 (+1), 18 (+2), 20 (+3), with comparable maluses for low stats. I'd also make feats both more flavorful and less impactful in combat.

But honestly, those are nitpicks. There's so much I like about the current edition, I'm happy with it as is.
 

The two biggest problems of the system are in the default healing rate, especially with the existence of hit dice for healing. It wrecks pacing (and believable world design) to try and cram six encounters into every adventuring day, and it wrecks the narrative to have characters sleep off axe blows after a short rest.

In a distant third, they really could have done better with the save model. The conceptual difference between a Wisdom save and a Charisma save is arbitrary, and yet it can easily mean a difference of +10 to the check. The traditional model of using three saves would have been infinitely preferable.
 

volanin

Explorer
As for the rules, I feel that stat bonuses are too high for bounded accuracy. I'd go with 14 (+1), 18 (+2), 20 (+3), with comparable maluses for low stats. I'd also make feats both more flavorful and less impactful in combat.

And here I am the complete opposite from you. I'd like stats like Shadow of the Daemon Lord: 11(+1), 12(+2)... up until 18(+8). You can have bounded accuracy even with high modifiers, but one of the biggest complaints I get from my players is that an über 18-str fighter and a 10-str farmer are just 20% chance apart from each other in checks. It's lame and I agree.

Remember, modifiers now are used for every kind of imaginable test (while old-versions used to be roll under attribute for tests, which exactly mimics my proposition above, and modifiers +1 to +3 only in to-hit and damage rolls, or somesuch). That's one of the things I'd definitely change.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I would change the following (edit: my apologies to anyone that read this earlier. I kept getting interrupted and accidentally saved this while thinking I was saving another post that I was editing. I will, probably, need to go through at a later date and edit this again).

1. I would have given all classes their subclass at first level. Holding off until second or third level results in some weird results. Having subclasses at first level would make variants easier (even eliminating the need for many) and result in abilities and training that is more reflective a given concept would have from the beginning.

2. Barbarian: I don't like the con bonus to AC (much like I didn't like the 1e Barbarian adding Dex twice). I would have made it a flat bonus than using a second stat modifier

3. The Cleric:
  • Remove Armor and Weapon proficiencies from the domains. I would have had these as another choice point at first level similar to the Warlock's Chain, Blade, Tome. This would help give more variation in tailoring clerics since many domains are more
    • Cloistered: The robed priest archetype
    • Itinerant (Light Armor): The more worldly minister
    • Templar: The armored warrior priest.
    • Mendicant: The begging priest including friars and several asian priest types. With both Friar Tuck and Asian inspired priests being associated in fantasy with unarmed combat and staff fighting, perhaps make this the martial arts cleric. Another option might be making a new class and this a subclass (see monk below for why) or a monk archetype (again, see monk below for why I would prefer it as its own class instead of a monk subclass)
  • Channel Divinity: Turn/Destroy undead is a class feature for all clerics even if inappropriate for a deity's domain. I would limit Turn/Destroy Undead a class feature for those domains dealing with life, death, grave (Xanthar's)
  • Tie spell choices even more to deity domains as was done with 2e spheres.

4.. Monk: I would have preferred this as either two or three classes
  • The Martial Artist. This would have been based upon customizable styles to duplicate most of the Kung Fu theater guys and fantastic versions of real world fighting styles. I would have looked to 2e Oriental Martial Arts styles with a Base of Hard, Soft, and Hard/Soft that determines base damage. Maneuvers would have been handled similar to Battlemaster maneuvers. Some options for style would be
    Vital Striking (weak points): These tend to be your open hand strikes, finger strikes, throat strikes with webbing between the thumb and forefinger, as well as kidney and groin strikes.
    Power Strikes: Haymakers and other slower handstrikes in which the attacker winds back, Wheel Kick/Spinning Back Heel Kicks
    Pressure Points (e.g., Kyosho in japanese styles) dealing with nerve clusters and Pain/Pressure Points and in many styles based on knowledge of healing. Includes Dim Mak in some Chinese styles (in others Dim Mak is an application of chi to one of thee areas.
    Locks/Holds: immobilizing one limb or an attacker. Also includes joint disabling locks, and certain disarm techniques
    Sweeps/Throws: save vs being knocked down
    Ground fighting
    Defensive Bonus options would be Body reading, Iron Body Training, Missile Deflection.
    Ki would be saved for thing such as the following: channeling ki to boost strength, making the body heavier/ lighter (the latter to reduce falling damage and increasing jumping distance) , making the body hard like iron (Damage Reduction or an AC bonus), momentarily increasing reflexes for initiative or Dodging, healing others, ghost touch (striking incorporeal targets), hitting creatures only struck by magic, Invisibiity techniques, Hypnosis techniques.
  • The Mystic. This would be the martial arts/spellcasting priest hybrid. a 1/2 or 1/3 caster. Subclasses would include the 3e OA Shaman( a shamanic/martial artist), a Friar (more European priestly caster), the asian spellcasting martial arts priest of many movies, The sorcerer martial artist, a mentalist martial artist
  • The monk could be a subclass of either with subclass abilities based upon enlightenment and becoming one with the universe.

6. Rogue: I am not a fan the light armored swordsman/swashbuckler (SCAG) and non-spellcasting ranger (Xanthar's) being subclasses simply because the rogue is the "light armor" class. I would have made two separate classes or created class variants similar to Khaalis's light armor fighter variant which was meant to address the former of the two archetypes or 3e UA class variants. Perhaps, the variant class abilities the designers were talking about will address my issues

7. The Mystic: I am not a fan of the direction that they are taking in the playtests.

8. I would have made the Eldritch Knight, Arcane Trickster. A more general warrior mage class could have included subclasses for Bladesingers, Eldritch Knights, Duskblades, and Spellswords,

9. I would have included both the Shaman and Witch as classes. These are two fantasy archetypes.
For the Shaman, I would be looking at both Witches (Mayfair Game) by Nigel Findley (TSR acquired the title so I am assuming WOTC still owns it) and Green Ronin's Shaman's Handbook. I have seen third party class variants for the barbarian and druid as well as third party classes. To date none of them have hit the mark for the way the two above books did.

For the Witch, I would, again, look at Witches (Mayfair games) and Green Ronin's Witch's Handbook. I would also look at comments of Tom Moldvay (the designer of B/X Basic Dungeons and Dragons) in Dragon Magazine 43 about what the witch should be.

10. Skills: No skill point variant in the DMG. I am fine with skill points not being default, but a variant in the DMG would have been nice.

11. Feats: A few of the feats need to be reworked. I think they have been addressed on these boards and elsewhere

12. Leveling: I would have slowed down default leveling speed and, possibly, extended the game to level 30 (see magic below)

13. Magic: I like a lot of what was done with magic to reign in casters. the one thing that I would have done is changed spell acquisition so that sixth level spells were gained around 18th level . Some of Gygax's players stated elsewhere that it was never intended for players to gain 7th level and higher spells. They were put in the game for completion and NPCs. I might have extended the game to 30 levels and added 7th-9th level for play in levels 20-30.
 
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cbwjm

Hero
The only thing I'd really want to change is the levels at which classes gain subclass levels. I'd make all classes gain subclass abilities at the same level, starting with 1st. This would allow an easy ability to swap subclasses between classes if desired as well as allow some non-class specific subclasses to be created.

I think I can kind of understand the current set up, they are filling in gaps in the leveling structure for each class, I'd just prefer that subclass ability gain was standardised for all classes.

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Li Shenron

Legend
All of these are minor things but:

- skill checks are too swingy, we still have the situation where proficient characters have too high failure chance or unproficient characters have too low failure chance; this is minor because as a DM I can still decide who is entitled to roll in the first place

- the Guidance spell is too spammable, no matter how small the bonus; this is minor because again as a DM it's still up to me to grant ability checks

- multiclassing rules are still more complex than necessary, I don't see any point in their ability score requirements as well as in the limitations on what you get from the first level, and I don't like that the class order matters; this is minor because the requirements hardly ever apply and in general I am not interested in helping multiclass builds

- Druid armor restrictions go against the rest of the game's philosophy on options vs restrictions; this is minor because they are easily circumventable
 

While there are a LOT of things I would like to change, I feel that 5E did an excellent job. It is designed to appeal to the largest possible number of players, and because of this most complaints are fairly nit-picky or personal preference. If I were god-king of 5E, the biggest changes I would have made:

Ability Score modifiers shouldn't be linear. Instead, I'd rather see a bell curve, where middle scores are wider, and only the ends have a modifier. BECMI uses an excellent version of this. The downside to this system is that you can't have ability score increases the same way, and have to instead actually increase the modifier directly.

Saving Throws should be balanced among the Abilities. This would make the "dump stat" matter more, because there would always be a problem with saving throws.

Weapons and Armor need to be redone to balance things out a little bit. I have no problem with some items being inferior, but there is pretty much only 3 armors once money isn't an issue. 3E had the exact same problem, and it bugs the crap outta me.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
So OK

Simplify Experience and CR Budgets
i would have the Session (maybe Milestone maybe Event-based) etc be the default (simplicity first) advancement system with different rates at different tiers and have the more calculated Xp per monster tracking be considered the optional (advanced) system. 5e did a lot of things for simplicity sake but left one of the more mathy aspects that serves no real advantage in place. Similarly, they could use CR not Xp for budget building to simplify the math there as well.

I would have the proficiency die be the norm and the average put there alongside it like they do in so many cases already. The proficiency die option impacts the extremes (low side) of the D20 being so big and i think that is actually quite helpful in containing that big a random element.

I would have a multi-success/fail skill system very similar to death saves as a normal element for skill checks that take more than one action with a failure requiring a change in approach sort of thing to avoid disadvantage..

I would provide a variety of options (DMG) for death and Resurrection variants and how they impact different settings/games.

Initiative would be based off Wisdom for "perception" and "situational awareness", not Dex for reflex - unless it was replaced altogether with a simpler variant with more choice given to players (and NPCs) in their action order.

Provide in the DMG several "standard benchmark encounters" which would be frankly combat related that the Gm could use and judge the outcomes (there could be a series of benchmarks for how quickly it ends etc) to get a broad "power rank" for his PCs. That power rank could then be worked into the CR system for balancing encounters. Essentially for anyone who needs the CR system, there needs to be a way to benchmark their set of PC/players to see where it fits vs the "assumed" party - it would be helpful.

Critical hits should have more options than just extra damage and should allow the imposition of certain conditions, based on the type of damage done with attacker choice involved. Say three different "crit benefits" for each type of damage with maybe the extra HP being one of those options. let a maul crit have an option for knockdown or knockback, for instance. let a piercing have an option for reduced healing for a time. Let necromantic have the option for countering healing for a time. let fire have an option for... etc.

Just a few.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Oh yes add to my list ditch one of short v long rest for most mechanics - esp anything not universal. Having class abilites set to short for some and ling for others a varying majorly class to class is a very bad balancing idea.

You could perhaps keep both if they applied equally like say each "new tier" ability was long rest but the others short rest (or vice versa) but frankly i would have recommended all short rest across the board and balance for that.

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The words.

5e is a fine game, and the rules are basically sound. But there are a lot of places where I feel they could be explained better.

So, yeah, I'd quite like to see a revised set of Core Rulebooks, or at least the DMG, that don't actually change any of the rules (except to incorporate the errata), but which carefully rewrite the text for maximum clarity.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I just discovered some interesting OSR games that use thing that (IMHO) D&D 5e could have used. In Beyond the Wall, you get the option of creating your own character from scratch, but the game consider you use something called a Playbook. You choose a concept you like (ex: The Nobleman's rebel daughter, the Dwarven aventurer or the elven ranger), and the Playbook gives you 8 tables to roll from to generate your background and your stats in correlation with your life (you were the smith's apprentice: +2 str and the skill: Smithing). The Playbook also gives you your class. I think that, with the apparition of the ''its your life'' tables from XGtE, D&D could mix more the mechanical part of your character building with the storytelling part.

Also, I'd like if 5e just handwaved things that are rules just for the sake of rules: the difference between holding/wearing/using/wielding, juggling items and free hands to do stuff, falling rates, tying knots etc. I dont thinks these rules make for a more interesting game. At the same time, they could have given more to exploration mechanics. Even crits could be more interesting. I dont know if anybody plays the Fantasy AGE game, but it uses a Stunt system where, when you roll doubles on 3d6, you generate points to spend on a Stunt Table (Extra damage, effect or action). There's a Stunt table for Combat (Martial and Magic), Exploration and Social encounters. D&D could use the same with Crit: when you roll a nat 20, roll a d6, this gives you a number of points to spend on Stunts (It would make the Champion fighter more interesting: no maneuvers, but an increased chance to generate Stunt points, maybe even a bonus to generated SP at some level)
 



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