5E Why does 5E SUCK?

And never underestimate the power of willful ignorance by those who favor something and aren't willing to admit or see it's flaws...


EDIT: I'm finding this whole conversation kind of borderline absurd at this point... are people honestly arguing that 4e's default procedure, advice, etc. don't push the DM to assign DC's by character level... is that really the argument? If that's the case what does one use to assign DC's then?
OK, then explain to us how its different then in 5e. How there's some mysterious procedure by which the DM, blind to any possibility that he's got an actual party of characters to cater to, simply divines how hard it would 'really be' to pick a magical lock, or dispel a demon? Or even climb a mountain.

Hint: He doesn't, he looks at the players at his table and he makes up a DC that fits the characters, which is presumably also part of a story with 'appropriate fiction' so that it all seems satisfying to all. That's all there is. There's no other process in existence for this, never has been, never will be. 4e just chose to be completely open and up front about it. Maybe as a result, hypothetically, as [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] maintains, there's some difference in bias and DMs produce slightly different results depending on which system they use. I don't discount the possibility, but my guess is its well within the range of individual variation.
 

Hussar

Legend
snip

Maybe as a result, hypothetically, as [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] maintains, there's some difference in bias and DMs produce slightly different results depending on which system they use. I don't discount the possibility, but my guess is its well within the range of individual variation.
Oh, there is definitely differences depending on DM bias. IME, DM's will err very much on the side of caution and will set DC's much higher than they need to be. I think it has to do with the idea that a "difficult" task should have about a 25% success rate while a normal task should be about 50%. Which, really, is much, much too high. Normal tasks should be about an 80% success rate, while difficult should be about 50%.

Think of it this way. If climbing a wall is hard, say, then how much of the group should fail? 3 out of 4 PC's or half of them? How hard is hard? It's like when people talk about combat difficulty and talk about combat being 50:50. That's not just difficult, that's insanely difficult. That would mean that you'd kill a PC every other encounter. That's obviously way, WAY too hard. Actual odds are probably somewhere around 90:10 in most combats or even better. But trying to explain that to people can be a real challenge.
 
And you get that level of difficulty from the levrl of the PC's... call it challenge level or whatever... the basis for said difficulty in default 4eis the level of the PC's. Show me a passage, sentence or whatever that tells you to base the actually difficulty ratings (actual numbers) on the adventure... I bet you can't...but I and others have cited numerous references to character/creature level in determmining the actual DC numbers. Should the adventurebe considered... sure but the basis in the 4e booksalways starts with characterlevel.
No, 4e says "here's how you can make an encounter of X level." Every element in 4e has a level, which you can use to decide what level and encounter containing that element is. There's also variation, a level 10 encounter could contain 5 level 10 'objects' (traps or creatures), or it could contain 5 level 9 monsters and one level 10 monster, or 2 level 14 monsters and a level 9 monster, etc. (traps can replace any of these and work exactly the same). Said encounter would be hard for level 6 PCs, moderate for level 8 PCs, and very easy for level 11 PCs. A DC for a check within such an encounter could range from level 6 easy to level 14 hard, a range from 11 to 29. So really, the DCs are only VERY loosely determined by the level of the PCs in the sense that PRESUMABLY the DM is following recommendations.

HOWEVER there's nothing telling the DM to follow those recommendations if he doesn't want to. And there are plenty of fun reasons not to. In fact DMG2 goes to great lengths to explain some of them.

So, no, DCs are not fixed by nor scaled to/by the levels of the PCs to any greater degree than they are in 5e where the DM is still faced with EXACTLY the same task, assigning difficulty classes that the players will have fun interacting with. That is the ACTUAL players at the actual table, not some hypothetical players.
 

Diamondeye

Villager
So then releasing a game that says something like... "Class A deals 1 damage all 20 levels. Class B deals 1,000 damage at 1st level +1,000 each additional level all the way to 20th level." is acceptable because balance is the job of the GM and not the system?

Or is your commentary missing some qualifiers?
Yes, it's missing qualifiers as that was just a quick aside. Your example isn't very good though, becuase there might be an actual reason why it's designed that way; taking pure damage numbers from a hypothetical system doesn't tell us anything. Assuming, however, that those numbers are just as disproportionate as they appear the obvious answer is "pick a different system".

I also don't understand how the designer(s) of a game would somehow not be qualified to do this (assuming I'm reading your comments at face value correctly and they are not hyperbole). I kind of feel like that's saying it's the readers' job to edit the novel they read.
Designers are not perfect, and they cannot make a system be all things to all people. A novel isn't an appropriate comparison; a story where the reader is not a participant is a fundamentally different activity.

However when a system is one of, if not the, best selling game system around, complaining that it's "horribly unbalanced" and "broken" is silly. It's obviously working fine for enough people to remain a commercial success; either they are unaware of the "issues" (in which case it may be designed for them), they don't matter to much of the base, or they are easy to work with or work around.

I won't speak for the culture, just myself. To me, I think it's very reasonable to expect a game to be designed with a general level of balance. I am not going to freak out over an overpowered feat, but I want the chassis to be balanced.
I don't disagree in principle. In practice, however, I rarely see a legitimate balance complaint, and when I doit's almost always an exaggeration. Hyperbolic language is usually the easiest way to discern whining from valid complaints.
 

Diamondeye

Villager
I'm not much on the word "mandatory", but they are certainly a no-brainer for my own game.
I'm very underwhelmed by the available selection.
By mandatory, I meant they should have been a basic part of the character build process just like 3.X/PF

I'm retooling a lot of pieces for my next campaign and armor will be part of that. But I don't think it needs much, it is pretty close as-is.
My fixes would be:

  • Chain shirt goes to light
  • the heaviest Medium armor available starts at max Dex 1 and goes up 1 Dex from there back to the top, so Hide would allow Dex 4.
  • Heavy works the same but starting at 0 for the heaviest
  • For all medium and heavy metal armors - simply remove the descriptor and just refer to them by their stats. Let the player assign the type they think is coolest to the armor (within reason) so if a player really likes the idea of chain mail but wants the stats of a breastplate, let them call it what they want.

Note sure what you are getting at here.
I like the system. :)
I don't see the need for 6 different saves, and it looks like it would be mathematically problematic at high level where targeting a weak save would be too easy. I'd combine INT and DEX into Reflex, WIS and CHA into Will, and STR and CON into Fortitude.

Their seems to be a culture of "the game should do everything by itself and still be as good as a game where a good DM is facilitating". I got no solutions for this. I just ignore it, pick the best game available and worry about my own table. :)
Because of D&D's overall popularity/prevalence, I think there is a feeling among some people that it ought to work for everyone - it's like a "default" system that anyone should be able to compromise on. I do think it's a widely adaptable system, but you have to be willing to adapt it.

I'd say this is also something of a shift in attitude from the mid-1990s when 2E was mid-life. Back then, D&D was the "Default" but around where I was going to college things like WoD, Earthdawn, and Shadowrun were gaining popularity. D&D suffered from a lot of elitism from people playing other systems that seemed to feel (sometimes outright said) it was a "beginner" system and not for "serious roleplayers" (which seemed to be a code word for LARPers and.. well, that's another story. Balance complaints, however, were unheard of.
 
I'd say this is also something of a shift in attitude from the mid-1990s when 2E was mid-life [...] Balance complaints, [were] unheard of.
OH, now they weren't unheard of. Our entire group despised UA and most of Tome of Magic (a bit earlier those), and then with 2e we used NOTHING except a few carefully selected materials from the Complete books. The rest of it was almost entirely wildly OP and VERY poorly playtested (actually later descriptions of late 90's TSR development practices would indicate there was no playtesting at all).
 

Diamondeye

Villager
OH, now they weren't unheard of. Our entire group despised UA and most of Tome of Magic (a bit earlier those), and then with 2e we used NOTHING except a few carefully selected materials from the Complete books. The rest of it was almost entirely wildly OP and VERY poorly playtested (actually later descriptions of late 90's TSR development practices would indicate there was no playtesting at all).
They were definitely unheard of. Choices of what to use and what not to use were confined to particular groups or their DMs. There was no community discussion of balance at all if you went to cons or even sat around on Friday night at the gaming club. MMOs did not yet exist, so "balance" when it was discussed still referred to the balance of a particular campaign (you might remember the term Monty Haul), and whether a system was balanced wasn't a concept that even occurred to anyone to talk about.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
Because of D&D's overall popularity/prevalence, I think there is a feeling among some people that it ought to work for everyone - it's like a "default" system that anyone should be able to compromise on. I do think it's a widely adaptable system, but you have to be willing to adapt it.

I'd say this is also something of a shift in attitude from the mid-1990s when 2E was mid-life. Back then, D&D was the "Default" but around where I was going to college things like WoD, Earthdawn, and Shadowrun were gaining popularity. D&D suffered from a lot of elitism from people playing other systems that seemed to feel (sometimes outright said) it was a "beginner" system and not for "serious roleplayers" (which seemed to be a code word for LARPers and.. well, that's another story. Balance complaints, however, were unheard of.
In fairness, wasn't that the party line for 5e though, that it would "unite the clans"? Reality would never come close to that promise though.

I never experienced that elitism IRL, but you can hit certain forums to find it in spades if you'd like :p

I do think though that playing other games gives you a different perspective on D&D, which could be for better or worse; likely based on one's personal preferences in gaming.
 

Diamondeye

Villager
In fairness, wasn't that the party line for 5e though, that it would "unite the clans"? Reality would never come close to that promise though.
I don't know if that promise was made or not. Then again, EVE Online has outweighed all other gaming concerns for me for years now.

I never experienced that elitism IRL, but you can hit certain forums to find it in spades if you'd like :p
I had quite enough of it aat age 20. I'll be 40 in a few weeks, no need to revisit it.
 

Hussar

Legend
They were definitely unheard of. Choices of what to use and what not to use were confined to particular groups or their DMs. There was no community discussion of balance at all if you went to cons or even sat around on Friday night at the gaming club. MMOs did not yet exist, so "balance" when it was discussed still referred to the balance of a particular campaign (you might remember the term Monty Haul), and whether a system was balanced wasn't a concept that even occurred to anyone to talk about.
I suggest that you peruse Dragon magazine and Usenet archives before making blanket statements of this nature.
 

Diamondeye

Villager
I suggest that you peruse Dragon magazine and Usenet archives before making blanket statements of this nature.
Usenet did not represent a meaningful portion of the playerbase and whatever was going on there was, indeed, unheard of by everyone else. As for Dragon Magazine, I have access to its entire history at my fingertips.

I suggest you not assume that isolated pre-internet (as we understand it) Usenet archives or Dragon magazine articles represent what went on in the player community. I know exactly what was going on - I was there for it. It was well understood in any context of the time that the DM was responsible for balance in his campaign.
 

Hussar

Legend
Usenet did not represent a meaningful portion of the playerbase and whatever was going on there was, indeed, unheard of by everyone else. As for Dragon Magazine, I have access to its entire history at my fingertips.

I suggest you not assume that isolated pre-internet (as we understand it) Usenet archives or Dragon magazine articles represent what went on in the player community. I know exactly what was going on - I was there for it. It was well understood in any context of the time that the DM was responsible for balance in his campaign.
You might want to be careful with assumptions. We're of an age and probably have similar experiences. And I can tell you for a fact that balance issues were a hotly discussed topic in various gaming groups and at at least one hobby shop in London, Ontario. :D Then again, it was typically a comparison discussion, like comparing balance in one system with another. But, balance was very much a discussion topic back in the day too. Heck, it's even discussed at some length in the 1e DMG.

If you have the entire line of Dragon Magazine at your fingertips, might I suggest hitting up the archives? There are certainly all sorts of balance discussions going on back then as well in the Forum letters and whatnot.

For S&G's I went and surfed [MENTION=27780](un)reason[/MENTION]'s excellent Let's Read the Entire Run thread and just skimmed a few of the reviews from the mid-90's. Saw one that mentioned balance and looked it up. This quote is from a letter in Dragon 214 February 1995:

Paul Morgan Dragon 214 P 68 said:
I think that if you play a multi-classed character for an extended period, you’ll find that they are balanced. It’s unfair to place 10% ability failure checks on a character who trains for twice as long as a single class to get to a certain level. I think it’s a good idea to have high-level, expensive tutors for a character, and I think it’s a good idea to have enemy NPC multi- classed characters (my campaign nemesis is a drow 12th-level mage/llth-level fighter). If I sound a bit harsh in what I say, then I apologize, but in my opinion, a lot of people play RPGs to do something that they can’t do in real life. If they wish to play multi-classed characters, let them. In the long term, if you stick to the proper rules, you’ll find that they’re a properly balanced character class anyway.
Sure sounds like a balance discussion to me. That took me about five minutes to find. I'm sure, with the entirety of Dragon at your fingertips, you'll be able to find more examples.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
You might want to be careful with assumptions. We're of an age and probably have similar experiences. And I can tell you for a fact that balance issues were a hotly discussed topic in various gaming groups and at at least one hobby shop in London, Ontario. :D Then again, it was typically a comparison discussion, like comparing balance in one system with another. But, balance was very much a discussion topic back in the day too. Heck, it's even discussed at some length in the 1e DMG.

If you have the entire line of Dragon Magazine at your fingertips, might I suggest hitting up the archives? There are certainly all sorts of balance discussions going on back then as well in the Forum letters and whatnot.

For S&G's I went and surfed [MENTION=27780](un)reason[/MENTION]'s excellent Let's Read the Entire Run thread and just skimmed a few of the reviews from the mid-90's. Saw one that mentioned balance and looked it up. This quote is from a letter in Dragon 214 February 1995:



Sure sounds like a balance discussion to me. That took me about five minutes to find. I'm sure, with the entirety of Dragon at your fingertips, you'll be able to find more examples.
We always discussed balance in every edition. Not caster-martial balance. We didn't much care about that beyond ensuring everyone had something fun and useful to accomplish. We did try to eliminate game-breaking exploits. Those are the worst.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I guess I'll have to quote myself here:
What is the point of these quotes? The second one explicitly says use character level as a basis...

How did you determine the survival DC for the blizzard? How did you know that the dragon encounter would be difficult for these PC's?
Since as a group we agreed we wanted a grittier more dangerous campaign I decided the natural hazards in the Far North would have DC's in the Medium to Very Hard range... from there I rolled a die to determine what the weather condition and DC/severity would be during that day of adventuring with a skew towards Medium in the beginning, since we started in the southernmost lands of the Far North and that is where the more mild (in a relative sense) weather would be. so 1d8... 1-5 Medium/6-7 Hard/8 Very Hard... My distribution of the DC's doesn't take into consideration character level, but instead the location of the characters in the Far North.

Likewise, I didn't "know" whether the Dragon was going to be a difficult encounter or not. For one particular character, because he acted rashly and against the advice of his companions it was deadly... for the rest it was a pretty easy encounter where a bargain was struck and they ended up being mules for certain items the dragon wanted to sneak into the Empire's nearest outpost and in return they received their lives and reasonable compensation...

Edit: Though I'm not certain they couldn't have killed the dragon if they had all decided to attack...

Heh, hoist on my own petard. But, again, not really. Your own quote references levels. :D But, fair enough. The exception that proves the rule and all that. Name two. :p
So now the argument has switched from an adventure that isn't tailored to specific levels... to an adventure that doesn't mention the word level at all... Also, you do realize there were six of these adventures published, right? So do I now need 7? If so, how about "Death, Frost, Doom" by James Raggi... again not written for a specific level. Anyways if that doesn't suffice, I'm not going to go scouring the internet for adventures that can accommodate any level as you continuously raise the bar... I've proven that not all adventures are tailored to level.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
But, that's true in EVERY EDITION.

How do you think they determine the Challenge Ratings of monsters? Or Traps?
Again I have been speaking to DC's as determined by the DM... not combat encounters, not traps (though again DC for traps in 5e is not determined by level), not published adventures which you seem intent on pushing the discussion towards. The play procedures, advice, examples, etc. in 4e push a DM to determine the difficulty of DC's (with some weird exceptions) by first basing it on the level of the characters. In 5e there is no such advice in the PHB... or the DMG concerning DC's.

Now my question to you... is there advice in 4e about creating sand box/non-tailored DC's? I honestly don't remember there being but it's been a long time since I read through the 4e corebooks.

Good grief it 's right bloody there in the books. Do I need to start quoting from the DMG too?
If you could find anything in the DMG around DC's being based on level... yes please quote it...
 

Imaro

Adventurer
OK, then explain to us how its different then in 5e. How there's some mysterious procedure by which the DM, blind to any possibility that he's got an actual party of characters to cater to, simply divines how hard it would 'really be' to pick a magical lock, or dispel a demon? Or even climb a mountain.
Through the tone/mood of his campaign... It's not that hard. For a grittier/darker campaign DC's will be higher because most things are hard without the proper training, luck, or natural ability... while in a more mythical or high fantasy campaign DC's will be lower, because you want everyone to be relatively competent and successful at most things. in other words by setting DC's the way he does in a 5e campaign the DM is creating a tone, and mood for his camapign and informing the PC's of that. A campaign where DC's run higher and failure for those untrained is going to feel more GoT while a campaign where DC's are generally lower is going to feel more LotR...

EDIT: This brings me to something else I am curious about... I noticed earlier that some fans of 4e claimed that it helped one create genre appropriate DC's, I think perhaps it was [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] but I could be wrong... Anyway, my question is what genre are we talking about? Because fantasy isn't all one genre and depending on how a DM chooses to set his DC's determines alot about the feel and tone of the world... so what genre exactly is 4e creating appropriate DC's for?

Hint: He doesn't, he looks at the players at his table and he makes up a DC that fits the characters, which is presumably also part of a story with 'appropriate fiction' so that it all seems satisfying to all. That's all there is. There's no other process in existence for this, never has been, never will be. 4e just chose to be completely open and up front about it. Maybe as a result, hypothetically, as @pemerton maintains, there's some difference in bias and DMs produce slightly different results depending on which system they use. I don't discount the possibility, but my guess is its well within the range of individual variation.
I can honestly say I don't know what the Proficiency bonuses/ability bonuses/special abilities/spells/etc. are that my players can bring to bear on each and every task... so no, I don't make up a DC that fits the characters. But thanks for the "hint"... how about you just let me answer next time and we discuss from there?

Oh, and I gave another process in my reply above... but yeah keep thinking your way is the only way to do things...
 
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They were definitely unheard of. Choices of what to use and what not to use were confined to particular groups or their DMs. There was no community discussion of balance at all if you went to cons or even sat around on Friday night at the gaming club. MMOs did not yet exist, so "balance" when it was discussed still referred to the balance of a particular campaign (you might remember the term Monty Haul), and whether a system was balanced wasn't a concept that even occurred to anyone to talk about.
I disagree. I was around then. I was at some of those cons, and I talked to people and played with a lot of different people. Obviously the community has changed a lot with the coming of the Internet, but the fundamental topics being discussed today aren't that different from yesteryear. The "linear fighter, quadratic wizard" thing was invented LONG before the 'net. Maybe YOU didn't encounter it, I can't say, but it was very much there.
 
In fairness, wasn't that the party line for 5e though, that it would "unite the clans"? Reality would never come close to that promise though.

I never experienced that elitism IRL, but you can hit certain forums to find it in spades if you'd like :p

I do think though that playing other games gives you a different perspective on D&D, which could be for better or worse; likely based on one's personal preferences in gaming.
I recall that there was, in the early 90's, a certain segment of snobbish anti-D&D gamers. Frankly by then I was out of college, had plenty of people that weren't snobs to play with, and didn't care or engage it. IME it wasn't all that prevalent, and in any case it seemed to focus on Vampire, and that kind of was self-limiting by the horribility of its crunch.
 
What is the point of these quotes? The second one explicitly says use character level as a basis...
The fact that you misunderstand it pretty much tells the whole story...
Since as a group we agreed we wanted a grittier more dangerous campaign I decided the natural hazards in the Far North would have DC's in the Medium to Very Hard range... from there I rolled a die to determine what the weather condition and DC/severity would be during that day of adventuring with a skew towards Medium in the beginning, since we started in the southernmost lands of the Far North and that is where the more mild (in a relative sense) weather would be. so 1d8... 1-5 Medium/6-7 Hard/8 Very Hard... My distribution of the DC's doesn't take into consideration character level, but instead the location of the characters in the Far North.
And the PCs start in the South, and the campaign is structured such that they will move inevitably northwards, finding greater and greater challenges as they do so. Its EXACTLY like the old classic multi-level dungeon where you start at the 1st level and the monsters are weak, the treasures small. Each level is more dangerous and rewarding. You can, and most everyone does, apply some sort of 'fictional logic' to try to whitewash this sort of structure as anything but a gamist consideration, but it really doesn't work.

What is most telling about this is the strictness of the segregation. Nobody has adventures that contain level 1 to level 10 elements combined together, even though it might make perfectly good logical sense. It wouldn't make DRAMATIC sense (and when it in some fashion would then systems have specific mechanics that cater to it, fighter multi-attacks in AD&D, minions in 4e, and extreme damage progression in 5e).

Likewise, I didn't "know" whether the Dragon was going to be a difficult encounter or not. For one particular character, because he acted rashly and against the advice of his companions it was deadly... for the rest it was a pretty easy encounter where a bargain was struck and they ended up being mules for certain items the dragon wanted to sneak into the Empire's nearest outpost and in return they received their lives and reasonable compensation...
And what do you know, the dragon just happened to be amenable to such an approach, so the PCs of some specific level could hope to succeed, in at least a social approach. Given that you admit they MIGHT have won a fight I don't see how this supports your point in any particular way.

So now the argument has switched from an adventure that isn't tailored to specific levels... to an adventure that doesn't mention the word level at all... Also, you do realize there were six of these adventures published, right? So do I now need 7? If so, how about "Death, Frost, Doom" by James Raggi... again not written for a specific level. Anyways if that doesn't suffice, I'm not going to go scouring the internet for adventures that can accommodate any level as you continuously raise the bar... I've proven that not all adventures are tailored to level.
The original point was that adventures are written with a level of PC in mind. This is still true, even if you can find some tiny fraction of all adventures ever published that weren't. I'd note that said adventures were VERY SELF-CONSCIOUSLY designed that way, meaning that their authors were well aware of the fact that there was a convention and that they were defying it. You can squirm all you want, but any attempt to deny the truth, that adventures are specifically graded for PCs of certain levels, is just ridiculous and makes you look silly.
 

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