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5E Why does 5E SUCK?

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Don't have time to address specific posts at the moment. However, I always find that getting "under the hood" of actual play examples are a kajillion times more instructive.

In light of that, does anyone want to make a level (say) 6 4e character and a level (say) 4 5e character and I can frame you into the same short, noncombat conflict. We can resolve it, put our thoughts as footnotes, and then evaluate the differences in play procedures and outputs?
 

BryonD

Villager
No, what is 'flawed' if you wish to use such language, is the PRESENTATION of the information. You present it as 'hard', but that's not really what it is, except in some context that never enters into the actual game.
To me the context has always ("always" here means, well before I heard of 3E) been obvious. The idea that "hard" and "easy" are relative to societal norms is intrinsic to play.
I really hate the idea of "hard" "(to a 15th level character)".
The fact that a 15th level rogue can do something without even needing to roll does not make this task not "hard", it just makes the rogue cool for being able to do hard things without trying.

That said, this is "presentation" as you put it. You can take a game I love and choose to describe things in a different way such that the sliding terminology is used, and I could describe a 4E game using my framework.

But I think that the connection between frame of reference and the means of implementing seems to extend well beyond language. 4E certainly took this consistency and mechanically implemented into a system that failed to deliver fun for me. And the taking to heart the idea of of this clear sliding scale is intertwined in that issue. (Among many others)

I respect your opinion and preference. But when you say "You present it as 'hard', but that's not really what it is, except in some context that never enters into the actual game.", I think you are presenting yourself as failing to allow for other points of view.
 
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See, to me there are two fundamental rewards to GMing. One is unleashing your creations upon your players and watching with joy as the world you have built comes to life. The other is seeing what players do with it, making it even more alive.
Although I appreciate the latter, my joy as a DM lies in something else: the pleasure and occasional pain of the players as they learn to exercise agency and master their own fates. For me, DMing is a lot like watching your kids grow up. The pleasure is in the people, not the setting. It's about giving them what I want for myself.

YMMV.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
Although I appreciate the latter, my joy as a DM lies in something else: the pleasure and occasional pain of the players as they learn to exercise agency and master their own fates. For me, DMing is a lot like watching your kids grow up. The pleasure is in the people, not the setting. It's about giving them what I want for myself.

YMMV.
So three fundamental rewards then :D
 

Eric V

Explorer
There's a lot of good stuff in this post but this:

Option two is to roll with the punch. Maybe someone saw the events and becomes the next BBEG, vowing revenge. Maybe words gets around of the PCs insane success and soon they are approached with a quest vastly over their head and unsure what to do. Maybe because they took a left instead of a right, a small village was destroyed that connects back to the story in some crazy way later. And so on. The GM is still exercising his/her imagination muscles, but doing it in a way that allows the choices made by the PCs to matter.
...is where the real creativity as a DM comes in. Working within constraints (the players) requires more imagination than using DM fiat.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I think when he was talking about CR he was talking about monster challenge rating, its not at all reliable. In fact 5e's CR system is a hot mess. Still, 4e aside, its no worse than every other D&D and so it certainly can be lived with, as all 5e's quirks can be.
It was a design trade-off, not just a mess, IMHO. Bounded Accuracy lets one low-level monster write-up serve as both standard monster to low-level character, and minion to higher-level ones. Higher level monsters might as well be 'elites' to lower level characters. Apart from Legendary (Solo) monsters, 5e completely avoided the design challenge - and page count requirements - of secondary monster roles. The - ok, an - unintended(?) consequence that efficiency gain was that numbers had an effect on encounter difficulty out of proportion with just adding up exp values. A 3000 exp monster and 10 300 exp monsters just don't present the same challenge. The former might be beat down before it could do much to the party, the later might annihilate the party just as quickly by sheer volume of attacks. So the encounter design system became more baroque in consequence of monster design becoming more elegant.

We all know what you can do with them, but its a more obtuse system because the labels aren't meaningful relative to the only thing that matters in the game, the PCs.
That's a matter of the DM's style and campaign tone. The players are always going to matter, obviously, but their characters might not. They might be little more than avatars through which to experience the DMs world. Or the theme of the campaign could be one of futility in the face of vastly greater forces. :shrug:

Nobody cares about 'compared with all the challenges in D&D'. That comparison is of no value to the DM at the table.
Not true. When characters advance only a little in what they can do, pointing up the fact that they have advanced, at all, is helpful. Presenting tasks with some everyman measure of difficulty highlights that the PCs are, in fact, advancing, even if they players don't notice it much outside their hps totals and spell slots.

To me the context has always ("always" here means, well before I heard of 3E) be obvious. The idea that "hard" and "easy" are relative to societal norms is intrinsic to play.
I really hate the idea of "hard" "(to a 15th level character)".
So when your high level character succeeds on a task by rolling a 2, you'll RP it with "wow, that was hard?"

But I think that the connection between frame of reference and the means of implementing seems to extend well beyond language.
Hard relative to a hypothetical everyman or 'hard' relative to the character doing the task? It's really a trivial distinction. The kind of things folks blow out of proportion when they have nothing worthwhile to talk about.



IMHO the key, central, and most important thing that 4e ever did was to take a step back and re-examine the tenets and goals of the game, and then reshape the mechanics to serve those goals and tenets. The failure of 5e, such as it is, is in failing to do likewise.
I can't agree. 4e may have designed to certain goals and tenets, and done well. But, so did 5e. The difference, perhaps, was that 4e looked at professed or formal goals & tenets (D&D tries to emulate genre, it tries to provide class balance, it needs a wider sweet spot, etc...), while 5e looked at more at de facto ones (no one plays past level 10; magic needs to be magical, which means mechanically superior; magic items should make you just better; 1st level characters are supposed to die, it's a right of passage). To put it another way, WotC realized that D&D has built a product identity on how it had been, not how it should have been, tried to be but failed, or could become better. The reality of D&D, not it's potential, is what 5e strives for - and captures successfully. And, along with greatly lowered investment & cost-cutting, that's making it successful in the business sense, as well.

I could always trust the principles of the 4e designers when they created material.
Just for the first 2 years, really, and even then, only after an update cycle or two.

I don't know how to trust the 5e designers in the same way. Sometimes they do the most ridiculous things for reasons I can't even fathom.
Put on your nostalgia cap and try running an old module like Village of Hommlet or In Search of the Unknown or even Temple of the Frog or Expedition to the Barrier Peaks with 5e. And, don't be shy about turning on the 'GM force.' Some of those reasons might become evident.

Or not. You might be past your nostalgia phase. ;(

Its also hard to build a character to PASS DCs in 5e! So the problem is everyone has the same difficulty passing them. Sure, at very high levels the game just barely starts to really differentiate, but the fact that people constantly bring up level 20 Expertise characters and such is exactly a sign of the issue.
Again, that's an intentional trade-off. Bounded Accuracy tries to keep everyone participating in the skill arena, just as it tries to keep lesser monsters participating in combat, by keeping targets - whether AC or DC - in reach.

The threshold is a DC that an 'everyman' can't hope to touch - like 21+, but which the skilled specialist can manage around that magic 60% or so. 5e's odd affection for 5-DC chunks makes 25 the obvious candidate, and +17 is (max stat, proficiency, & expertise at level 20), indeed, that threshold. Using 21, though (there's no reason you can't), it drops to +12. Expertise gets you there faster, and even non-expertise gets to +11 eventually.

Hmm... to be honest, I thought it'd look a little better for 5e before I started typing that.... ;(

Every GM largely tailors their adventures such that the challenges are beatable in some way. Lets not even kid ourselves about that. Every published module features a byline "adventure for characters of level X to Y". To pretend otherwise is to again go into this unfathomable mumbo jumbo land where you pretend that you're playing some other game than you're really playing.
There /are/ sandbox style, 'status quo' campaigns, though. The DM places (probably doesn't bother creating) challenges where he feels they 'belong,' and the PCs investigate, pick one, and live or die by that choice.

Obviously some subset of people will just play in a way that is so idiosyncratic that a given set of rules won't match up with their needs, but 4e was the practical edition. It always took the road that the game was first and foremost a game played at the table by people. Sometimes it might not actually achieve some of what it attempted, but it was all engineered in the service of good play, not some theoretical aesthetic judgement of how D&D should be that has to be worked around in practice. 5e very definitely backed off from that.
That's the difference between a technically good game - designed to be a game - and a good game product - designed to be well-received by its target audience. 4e tackled severe problems D&D had had for over 30 years - but, anyone still playing D&D at that point had learned to deal with (if not exploit) those problems, even though they made it technically inferior, when judged only as a game. That's like taking nicotine out of cigarettes. Good idea, bad for business.
 

BryonD

Villager
So when your high level character succeeds on a task by rolling a 2, you'll RP it with "wow, that was hard?"
What do you think?

Hard relative to a hypothetical everyman or 'hard' relative to the character doing the task? It's really a trivial distinction.
I think if you read what I said you would see that I agree.
Of course, when the mechanics start to embrace these kinds of trivial distinctions you start turning some people off from the game. It happens.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
From what I'm seeing, you guys are working with different meanings of "hard".
[MENTION=957]BryonD[/MENTION] "Hard" means it will be difficult for a peasant.
[MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] "Hard" means it will be difficult for a PC of that level.

One is a brick in worldbuilding, the other is a tool to help DMs.

Of course, both can be "reverse-engineered" into the other - but those are their starting points. The question then becomes where do you want your workload - and this is a question of preference.
 

Aenghus

Villager
That's the difference between a technically good game - designed to be a game - and a good game product - designed to be well-received by its target audience. 4e tackled severe problems D&D had had for over 30 years - but, anyone still playing D&D at that point had learned to deal with (if not exploit) those problems, even though they made it technically inferior, when judged only as a game. That's like taking nicotine out of cigarettes. Good idea, bad for business.
This seems to ignore those who embraced 4e and it's aspirations to varying extends as "their D&D" and see 5e as nostalgic backsliding.

I'm probably in a minority as I like to play and DM for long-running campaigns with low casualty rates that are intended to reach and stay at high levels for a significant fraction of the campaign.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I kind of feel like a good counterpoint to this is that if the DM wants his/her imagination to trump everyone else's, that person may be better served writing a book. I'll come back to this.
Many fiction writers like to DM.


I'll agree that GMing can be thankless at times (and probably varies from group to group). But this doesn't lead to the logical conclusion of "GM gets the final say". GM gets the final say because the GM is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter/referee unless your group works out something different. The GM doesn't get the final say just because he/she is the one that brought the volleyball to the game.

I'd go so far as to say that if someone GMs and feels he/she has the final say because he/she put in "all this work" (which yeah, can be a hell of a lot of work), then that person is probably not in the right frame of mind to be running a game. GMing is a labor of love, and if you build up expectations that you are "owed" something from your players ("final say" or whatever), you probably will not succeed as a GM.
DM getting final say is an expected courtesy with the group I play with. We learned that way back in the early days of the game. The way the players ensure the DM doesn't screw them is by not continuing to play with a DM that acts in an arbitrary manner. The DM having final say is good manners. Players that attempt to engage in rules debate during play are disruptive and disrespectful. My group does not care for that at all. I don't think most groups do.

Your second paragraph partially answers your first here. There's also the joy of seeing what the PCs will think of next and working with it, hearing them try to work out a mystery and realizing they come up with something better than you so you adjust things behind the scenes to adopt their wild conspiracy, listening for opportunities to pull in character specific/backstory bits and give the characters equal chance to be center stage in the story of the game for a while, adapting to the horrible moment when they one-shot your BBEG, and so on.

See, to me there are two fundamental rewards to GMing. One is unleashing your creations upon your players and watching with joy as the world you have built comes to life. The other is seeing what players do with it, making it even more alive.

I said earlier that if you want your imagination to trump all, write a book. I say that because players will destroy your plans. It's in their DNA. If you can't handle plans being destroyed, GMing is going to be very frustrating for you, or depending on how you handle it, your players. Because, when that happens, you have two choices as a GM.
What makes you think fiction writing doesn't work exactly like this? If the audience doesn't enjoy your fiction, they don't read it. It's no different for a DM. A writer more than anyone else knows how to cater to his audience. He learns what his players like and what their characters are, he creates fiction tailored to make them shine.

The main reason a DM has final say is to keep the game going and control disruptions. Rules debates should happen after a sessions. I don't change things on the fly. That is bad DMing. DMs that do that are breaking the social contract with the players if they are doing anything extreme.

On the other hand, I can name one instance I smack down with a firm hand as a DM. Players that try to spring exploits they read on a board don't get a pass. You have to run any strange rules or exploits by me beforehand to see if I want to tolerate them in the game. I'm running it. I'm putting the work in. If a player thinks he gets to shove RAW down my throat via game-breaking exploit, that player will find I do not tolerate such things. All new spells, rules, feats, and the like must be run by me so I can test how the affect the game I'm running. That is courtesy to the DM in my book.

Option one is to play your trump card and somehow twist things so your plans are not destroyed. Maybe that preserves the fun for the GM, but it's terrible for players. KM talks about feeling "impotent" in 4e because of the scaling DCs/fail forward philosophy/whatever, but that's nothing compared to a GM showing the players that their actions don't matter. So I'd say Option one is a quick way to for a GM to feel good at the expense of deteriorating his/her game.
I don't use this option. Never have, never will.

Option two is to roll with the punch. Maybe someone saw the events and becomes the next BBEG, vowing revenge. Maybe words gets around of the PCs insane success and soon they are approached with a quest vastly over their head and unsure what to do. Maybe because they took a left instead of a right, a small village was destroyed that connects back to the story in some crazy way later. And so on. The GM is still exercising his/her imagination muscles, but doing it in a way that allows the choices made by the PCs to matter.
I do roll with the punch. I'm so careful about crafting encounters that I don't miss my mark much at this point. If I do, it is usually some extreme luck or misfortune. If that happens, that is beyond my control. I allow it to happen. Let's be real here, lucky rolls are part of the game. They make the game extremely memorable at times. Nearly every player or group remembers that BBEG that rolled a 1 on his death save or was hammered for some crazy crit damage from a lucky series of rolls. What kind of DM would change such a memorable outcome. Certainly not me.

That does not change my view that the DM has final say on disputes, the imagination, or whatever you want to call it while the session is in play. Now after the session, let the debates begin. Then I will entertain discussion on a disagreement, so we can reach some kind of group compromise on how to handle the matter.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Don't have time to address specific posts at the moment. However, I always find that getting "under the hood" of actual play examples are a kajillion times more instructive.

In light of that, does anyone want to make a level (say) 6 4e character and a level (say) 4 5e character and I can frame you into the same short, noncombat conflict. We can resolve it, put our thoughts as footnotes, and then evaluate the differences in play procedures and outputs?
I don't see this as necessary. Haven't had an edition of D&D I couldn't get done what I needed to get done. As I said this argument seems to me nothing more than caviling.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
This seems to ignore those who embraced 4e and it's aspirations to varying extends as "their D&D" and see 5e as nostalgic backsliding.
Yes.

It seemed like a fair assumption, when Next was on the horizon, that anyone who had given 4e that kind of chance would also embrace 5e - that they were the kind of long-time, loyal fans who would always support the current ed. (That and there was never going to be a 4e analogue to Pathfinder as an alternative.)

I think that's how it's worked out: You don't see a huge edition war being brewed by angry 4e fans. You do see 4e fans trying 5e and appreciating it for that nostalgic factor it delivers so well, even if they don't stop playing 4e entirely, right away.

And it does do a little more than just nostalgia, as it also seems to have undone the RAW-uber-alles phenomenon that plagued 3.5/Pathfinder.

And it's kept a few refinements from 3.0 that survived (and were further refined) through d20, 3.5, 4e, Essentials, and Next... Things like de-facto between-combat and overnight healing, a single exp chart, even advancement (via proficiency, this time, rather than ranks or other per-level bonuses), symetric bonuses from all stats, and so forth. There's lots of still-reasonably-modern d20 in 5e - it just doesn't detract from the nostalgia factor.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
You have it wrong. You ask "Give me a reason why this would continuously occur?" when the question I am asking is "Why should that occur even once?"
I'll tell you an instance that would cause me to do just this. If the player considers "imagination" to be finding a rules exploit that allows him to break the game killing the BBEG, I'm going to stop that right there and right then. There are these types of DM minefields all over Pathfinder/3E. I did not tolerate them. I don't consider imaginative play to be finding a method of manipulating the rules to a point that you can't be defeated or can trivialize encounters. If some player springs some goofy combination on me and says, "It works RAW." I'll stop that right there, tell him he did not get that oked with me prior to using it, and it does not work. If I get flack from that player during the game, I'll tell him "You can discuss this after the game. It's not happening right now." If he doesn't respect that, I'll stop DMing right there and go find another group. I'm a DM. Finding a group of players is way easier than finding a quality DM if you want to discuss DM leverage in these situations.

That's why the DM always has final say to halt any thing he feels is disrupting the game and creating a rules exploit that a player is trying to force down his throat. No player has a right to do this to a DM.

Fortunately, I've never had to deal with this in my older years. My entire group has always respected the DM's authority and left serious rule discussions for after the session. DM having final say is a courtesy dating back to the early days of gaming. Players respect it or find someone else to DM.
 

Aenghus

Villager
Yes.

It seemed like a fair assumption, when Next was on the horizon, that anyone who had given 4e that kind of chance would also embrace 5e - that they were the kind of long-time, loyal fans who would always support the current ed. (That and there was never going to be a 4e analogue to Pathfinder as an alternative.)

I think that's how it's worked out: You don't see a huge edition war being brewed by angry 4e fans. You do see 4e fans trying 5e and appreciating it for that nostalgic factor it delivers so well, even if they don't stop playing 4e entirely, right away.
4e is the major victim and casualty of the edition wars. 4e players have their share of the battle fatigue fallout of the wars, and I suspect a good fraction of them see the futility of them.

And it does do a little more than just nostalgia, as it also seems to have undone the RAW-uber-alles phenomenon that plagued 3.5/Pathfinder.

And it's kept a few refinements from 3.0 that survived (and were further refined) through d20, 3.5, 4e, Essentials, and Next... Things like de-facto between-combat and overnight healing, a single exp chart, even advancement (via proficiency, this time, rather than ranks or other per-level bonuses), symetric bonuses from all stats, and so forth. There's lots of still-reasonably-modern d20 in 5e - it just doesn't detract from the nostalgia factor.
Your theory should be modified so as not to conveniently ignore those who won't convert. There are always holdouts for any particular edition, and this will continue to be the case. Some players will find an edition that suits their purposes, maybe with houserules, and get off the merry-go-round of new editions.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
4e is the major victim and casualty of the edition wars. 4e players have their share of the battle fatigue fallout of the wars, and I suspect a good fraction of them see the futility of them.
One way of looking at it, I suppose. I do think 4e fans included most of D&D's 'early adopters' as well, and are thus inclined to give each new ed a try.

Your theory should be modified so as not to conveniently ignore those who won't convert. There are always holdouts for any particular edition, and this will continue to be the case. Some players will find an edition that suits their purposes, maybe with houserules, and get off the merry-go-round of new editions.
That's why they can be discounted, because they're inevitable.

Though, really, 5e is trying to re-capture past hold-outs.
 
Curiously, the "5e doesn't have a thriving economy (mundane/magical) that players can spend money on" refrain is one that I don't think has much teeth. It seems to me that a table-driven economy for hirelings would be tremendously easy to establish using:

1) The Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic as a boon scheduled at an Extended Rest Recharge for n $ or a Short Rest Recharge for n * 3 (or something) $

2) A fictional trigger that the player(s) can use to invoke the Advantage/Disadvantage boon

You could have Guides whose Advantage boon is triggered when you're blazing a trail on a perilous journey or sponsored expedition, Huntsmen whose Advantage boon is triggered when you're tracking something in a wilderness setting, or Bodyguards whose Disadvantage boon as an immediate action is triggered when you're attacked in melee, or Heralds whose Advantage boon is triggered when your reputation, titles, or legacy would come into play in a social conflict. Etc, etc, etc.

This seems to be trivially easy and intuitive to implement and shouldn't be too terribly invasive, especially with a system that plays fast and loose with the rules, expects each table to own/hack their own game, and whose encounter budgeting is squirelly (and top down predicated on the adventuring day rather than bottom up) with severely diverging PC resource scheduling.
Its a nice idea. 4e has something pretty similar with its hireling rules (the ones that came out in MME/Dragon). I think they're more effective though when you have an abstract system like SC to give them more leverage. You can get something out of the advantage mechanic, but I just liked things like "make this Hard DC check into a Medium DC check" kind of thing. It worked well in SCs.
 
I know I've felt more than once that 4e is largely a "level-less" game for all its 30 levels (of which I played about 18). And 5e, over the course of 7, is already showing me that setting the DC's relative to the world is a part of the edition's strong antidote to that. In 4e, I always felt at about the same level of badass ("fairly"). In 5e, I've felt the growth that comes from a tier-shift in a way 4e never achieved (going from "not very badass" to "a little badass!"), and in a way is a little more subtle and interesting than bigger numbers.
I think the difference is 'badassness' in 4e didn't come from easily passing DCs. The math was largely irrelevant to that. It came from the DM building more and more amazing fiction around the DCs, and from everything else. You might hit a Balor about the same way you'd hit an Orc at the appropriate levels, but FIGHTING a Balor is WAY different. It has an aura, resistances, and powers that have a number of varied effects. The PCs at that level also can do things like get really screwed up by a bunch of effects and then just shake them all off, or fall dead and stand right up again, etc. Even at Paragon you find that your characters really are a LOT more potent in absolute narrative terms than they are at lower levels.

So what I found was that the mechanics 'fall away'. The game becomes highly narratively focused, or at least focused on what the PCs want to DO, and not really on numbers. I think there were definitely some flaws. The SC system didn't quite work right until the RC version, and the build process was too focused on making the numbers. However, it worked.

Now, I can see, since your game apparently was so focused on tactical skirmishes that nobody even took non-combat utility powers or feats, then it became a one-dimensional game. That's too bad, but the other dimensions of the system DO exist, and they're really powerful.

I don't think there's anything horribly wrong with the way 5e does things, it just focuses much more on numbers. Everything seems to be about whether or not you can get the hard DC. I don't think the story in our game is bad, but mostly I just miss the way in the 4e game we could pull crazy stuff that I wouldn't dare to even try now.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I think the difference is 'badassness' in 4e didn't come from easily passing DCs. The math was largely irrelevant to that. It came from the DM building more and more amazing fiction around the DCs, and from everything else. You might hit a Balor about the same way you'd hit an Orc at the appropriate levels, but FIGHTING a Balor is WAY different. It has an aura, resistances, and powers that have a number of varied effects. The PCs at that level also can do things like get really screwed up by a bunch of effects and then just shake them all off, or fall dead and stand right up again, etc. Even at Paragon you find that your characters really are a LOT more potent in absolute narrative terms than they are at lower levels.

So what I found was that the mechanics 'fall away'. The game becomes highly narratively focused, or at least focused on what the PCs want to DO, and not really on numbers. I think there were definitely some flaws. The SC system didn't quite work right until the RC version, and the build process was too focused on making the numbers. However, it worked.

Now, I can see, since your game apparently was so focused on tactical skirmishes that nobody even took non-combat utility powers or feats, then it became a one-dimensional game. That's too bad, but the other dimensions of the system DO exist, and they're really powerful.

I don't think there's anything horribly wrong with the way 5e does things, it just focuses much more on numbers. Everything seems to be about whether or not you can get the hard DC. I don't think the story in our game is bad, but mostly I just miss the way in the 4e game we could pull crazy stuff that I wouldn't dare to even try now.
I don't see how creating amazing fiction around mechanics is a component of the particular game (especially a game where the fiction is called out as being mutable)... Any good DM can do this with nearly any game
 
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Saelorn

Explorer
I think the difference is 'badassness' in 4e didn't come from easily passing DCs. The math was largely irrelevant to that. It came from the DM building more and more amazing fiction around the DCs, and from everything else. You might hit a Balor about the same way you'd hit an Orc at the appropriate levels, but FIGHTING a Balor is WAY different.
I dunno. I don't really feel awesome when I fail to hit a balor half the time, anymore than I felt awesome when I used to miss an orc or a giant half of the time.

To contrast, it does make me feel more awesome when I go from missing an ogre half the time (for 10% of its health) to hitting it 90% of the time (for half its health). Nothing shows progress quite like trivializing what used to be a challenge. When I'm facing a lock that is objectively Hard, and I remember when my chance of success was slim, and now I succeed on a 3 or better, that's awesome.
 
RE: "lack of precise knowledge on the part of the DM," this is what makes the Portent ability interesting to me. By dictating die rolls, 5E's Portent manages to give the feeling of knowing the future even without the DM actually knowing the future. "I knew all along he would fail that save if we could just wait for the right time."

There's no reason a DM couldn't create a similar mechanic for Augury in an unknown situation: "If I say 'Weal', you get an auto-Portent die for the next half hour. If I say 'Woe', I get one. Okay, ready to cast your spell?"
Another way of handling this is to just grant a 'plot coupon' when someone uses a divination of this type. The narrative is "you get an obscure response" and the player then at some appropriate point invokes an interpretation of the response which gives him success or whatever. It obviously has to relate to the question that the augury/portent was meant to apply to, so its a limited option and the GMs 'obscure response' could also put some additional limits on it, meaning its probably not going to totally undermine a major aspect of the current story, it will just give the PCs an edge or provide the logic for the player's to apply some information they have to the in-game situation.
 

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