5E Why does 5E SUCK?

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
My group tends to assume the opposite on both scores. Players are expected to build their PCs having in mind the fun of others, thinking about how their PCs might fit into the bigger picture of the game and the play experience. They are also expected to build keeping balance in mind. This isn't appropriate during actual action resolution - I find there is nothing quite as insipid in RPGing as having to hold back your PC so as to avoid overshadowing/dominating - but PC build, being a pre-play rather than play stage of the game is precisely the right point to have regard to balance issues.

Practical examples I can think of in games I've GMed are players making choices about spell selection, or about feat selection, having regard to imbalances that some options might lead to. I have vague recollections of race choices being similarly influenced by balance concerns.
We are opposite. My players make their characters so they can have fun. The only thing they tend to ensure is they have the necessary healing for group survival. They don't worry about balance. If it's in the rules, it is fair game. If it becomes a problem, they expect the DM to handle it.

Very different group. We've been together a long time now. We have fun together. But we don't spend time worry about whether the guy next to us approves of our character or not. That's a very strange concept I've not heard too often.

I thought most posters on ENworld were GMs. Isn't there some survey data about this?
Would like to see that data. GMing is always in the minority as far as numbers go in the TTRPG world. That's why DM centered books don't do as well in sales. But GMs are an opinionated bunch often more active in the hobby than players. So we could be more active on the forums.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
For starters, I must confess I don't see what the point of contention is between the two players, unless you're saying one is complaining about the other for some reason. What is the situation that needs to be rectified?

If there is no complaining from either player.... there's no issue here and why would I as a GM think I need to intervene? And what does it have to do with worrying about their respective fun?

Sorry, couldn't follow this, so not sure what you are demonstrating here, though one thing is that you seem to be pigeon-holing fun issues to rules related only?
The point of contention is this:

Player 1 likes to min-max. He will read the forums. Read the books. Carefully construct a concept that is powerful and highly effective, usually one of the most effective in the group. This is the part of the game he likes. He still writes a cool background and takes into account any guidance I provide.

Player 2 does not like to min-max. He does not like it when others min-max. He feels it makes the game less fun for him. He finds the min-maxing annoying.

If I make player 1 build his character differently to appease player 2, Player 1 has less fun. If I don't stop player 1 from min-maxing, Player 2 has less fun. Where does your fun quotient come down on this disagreement?

Player 2 hasn't been unhappy enough to leave yet. I only limit Player 1 if it is breaking the game. Player 2 is having less fun with the other player min-maxing. I know Player 1 is aware of Player 2's dislike of min-maxing. He doesn't care because he has fun min-maxing his character. I know if I limit his character, he'll have less fun.

Which person do you side with? Whose fun do you limit to make the other guy have more fun?
 

tyrlaan

Villager
People are responsible for their fun. Not me, not the other players.
I'm responsible for utilizing the character backgrounds in the story in a manner that is entertaining and fun for the players. I'm responsible for providing an entertaining and fun adventure experience.
It is the DM's responsibility to ensure people are having fun. It is in fact your number one job.
Can I ask you to please clarify where you stand on this? As per the above 3 quotes, I'm having a hard time lining it all up.

The point of contention is this:

Player 1 likes to min-max. He will read the forums. Read the books. Carefully construct a concept that is powerful and highly effective, usually one of the most effective in the group. This is the part of the game he likes. He still writes a cool background and takes into account any guidance I provide.

Player 2 does not like to min-max. He does not like it when others min-max. He feels it makes the game less fun for him. He finds the min-maxing annoying.

If I make player 1 build his character differently to appease player 2, Player 1 has less fun. If I don't stop player 1 from min-maxing, Player 2 has less fun. Where does your fun quotient come down on this disagreement?

Player 2 hasn't been unhappy enough to leave yet. I only limit Player 1 if it is breaking the game. Player 2 is having less fun with the other player min-maxing. I know Player 1 is aware of Player 2's dislike of min-maxing. He doesn't care because he has fun min-maxing his character. I know if I limit his character, he'll have less fun.

Which person do you side with? Whose fun do you limit to make the other guy have more fun?
I've had optimizers and non-optimizers in my games at the same time before. To be honest, it's never been a problem to the point that I've felt the need to take action over it. With that in mind, I sort of feel this is an extreme scenario and falls a bit outside the scope of normal, but here's what I would do regardless.

If Player 1 is min-maxing to the point of breaking my ability to provide fair encounters for the rest of the group or something similarly disruptive, I'd ask Player 1 to tune his character down. I've done this in a game before, truth be told. Note however that the decision to do this is irrelevant to Player 2's concerns.

If the above is not the case, yet Player 1 or Player 2 are complaining to me about the other, I would have a conversation with the two of them and make it clear that they need to work it out. If their respective playstyles aren't impacting how I run the game, then it's a conflict between the two of them. As adults, I expect them to sort it out. The only reason I would step in to even say that is if one or both of the players came to me with complaints about the other one.

In other (brutal) words, I may be responsible to bring the fun as the GM, but I am not a babysitter or crutch to dodge social confrontation. Grown ups should be able to figure something like that out.
 

Hussar

Legend
It is the DM's responsibility to ensure people are having fun. It is in fact your number one job.

Why do you feel that my group is dysfunctional? My group has been together for over thirty years. No one is this perfect example of harmony so many seem to paint on here. They're people with different tastes and reasons for gaming. Why would you expect one guy to have fun in the same way as the other guy? Do you really seek a group so close in personality that they achieve gaming fun in the same fashion? I find all this "goals of play" talk and "everyone is responsible for the fun of others" strange.

/snip
Sorry. I was riffing off the point, not trying to paint your group as dysfunctional. If the group has been together for that long, then obviously one player's habits aren't really bothering the other player all that much.

OTOH, I play in a group of all DM's and have done so for years. I've never been part of a "one DM" group since high school, and even in high school, it was only one or two short groups that were primarily one DM.

When you have a table of, well, my current table is seven players, the newest of which has been DMing for over ten years, all of us play numerous systems and collectively, we're well over a century of DMing. It makes for a very, very different gaming culture.

DM failure is the number one reason games fail.
IMO, real life is the number one reason. Bob and Judy are having a baby, Dave got a new job, Steve's job is kicking his ass. Campaign skips for three months, and then it's done.
 

Hussar

Legend
As far as the number of DM's on EnWorld, there's been numerous polls and the response has been that En Worlders, at least those who vote in polls are overwhelmingly DM's. It's been consistently the same over the years.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Can I ask you to please clarify where you stand on this? As per the above 3 quotes, I'm having a hard time lining it all up.
I feel that it is my job as a DM to provide an entertaining play experience. I feel the DM has the most control over the gaming experience due to his role in the cooperative fiction in a role-playing game. Players have little to no control over each other. They can't change their tastes, personalities, or other such things to suit another player at the table. It's too much to ask and I feel some DMs in this discussion are basically saying, "Everyone needs to get along and talk to the other person before making their character to be sure they aren't making something the other person would be unhappy with." I don't feel players should have to do that. They can do it if they want to, but I do not expect it. The player is only responsible for making a character that will be fun for him to play, not a character that will be fun for him and fun for player x,y, and z. He doesn't need to run it by the other players before making what he's making. Maybe I'm misunderstanding all of you, but it seems like you're saying Player 1 has to check his concept with Player 2, 3, and 4. I don't agree with that if that is what is being said.

My group usually does ask each other what they're making because they don't want to overlap concepts or have too many of the same class. Backgrounds are usually individualized. They don't check feat choices by each other unless they're min-maxing as a group like the bard who may take the Inspiring Leader feat to empower the Druid's pixies from conjure woodland beings. That is coordinated group min-maxing. That is example of the players working together to enhance the fun of at least two of them, though it might piss off the other players. I guess we will see.

My main point of contention is fun is too subjective. I can't be sure one player will have fun playing with another character. The people usually get along, but sometimes they don't love the other guy's character concept or his play-style. I can't control that. I can only provide them with clear parameters as a DM that I feel will ensure some semblance of balance and mitigate some of the worse min-maxing possibilities.

I have more ability as a DM to control the fun of the group by making the adventure fun and ensuring each player gets spotlight time.



I've had optimizers and non-optimizers in my games at the same time before. To be honest, it's never been a problem to the point that I've felt the need to take action over it. With that in mind, I sort of feel this is an extreme scenario and falls a bit outside the scope of normal, but here's what I would do regardless.

If Player 1 is min-maxing to the point of breaking my ability to provide fair encounters for the rest of the group or something similarly disruptive, I'd ask Player 1 to tune his character down. I've done this in a game before, truth be told. Note however that the decision to do this is irrelevant to Player 2's concerns.

If the above is not the case, yet Player 1 or Player 2 are complaining to me about the other, I would have a conversation with the two of them and make it clear that they need to work it out. If their respective playstyles aren't impacting how I run the game, then it's a conflict between the two of them. As adults, I expect them to sort it out. The only reason I would step in to even say that is if one or both of the players came to me with complaints about the other one.

In other (brutal) words, I may be responsible to bring the fun as the GM, but I am not a babysitter or crutch to dodge social confrontation. Grown ups should be able to figure something like that out.
It's a common case in my group. They snipe at each other now and again. One saying the other min-maxes all the time and damages the game. The other guy telling him mind his business, he likes to build his character the way he wants.

I don't have any problem running either character. I make it as fun as possible for both of them as a DM. I've been DMing long enough to realize most of the fun comes from me running the adventure well. I leave them to work out their differences as they see fit. As you said, they're adults and can work things out amongst themselves. As long as I've given their clear play parameters, I let them have free reign to make their characters according to what will be fun for the individual player.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Sorry. I was riffing off the point, not trying to paint your group as dysfunctional. If the group has been together for that long, then obviously one player's habits aren't really bothering the other player all that much.

OTOH, I play in a group of all DM's and have done so for years. I've never been part of a "one DM" group since high school, and even in high school, it was only one or two short groups that were primarily one DM.

When you have a table of, well, my current table is seven players, the newest of which has been DMing for over ten years, all of us play numerous systems and collectively, we're well over a century of DMing. It makes for a very, very different gaming culture.
Yep. We've had about 7 players switching in and out for over three decades. Five have been there consistently. Everyone has DM experience, hard not to when playing as long as we have. But three of us have DMed the most, probably 90% of the time. Three prefer to play if they have the option. They very rarely DM and really don't like to do it.


IMO, real life is the number one reason. Bob and Judy are having a baby, Dave got a new job, Steve's job is kicking his ass. Campaign skips for three months, and then it's done.
Real life has gotten in the way a few times. Most of our campaigns crash from DM failure. He burns out or loses interest in running the game. So we start something new. My group is pretty dedicated. Given how tiring real life can be, escaping to fantasy land is fun for them.

I do run a very fun, immersive game. I've gotten more than a few people addicted to their characters almost like it was a second life. I truly like to invest the time to make the character seem like a living, breathing person with a full life. Gamers usually have such great imaginations they love to buy into the idea of living in another world as some extraordinary hero.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
I feel that it is my job as a DM to provide an entertaining play experience. I feel the DM has the most control over the gaming experience due to his role in the cooperative fiction in a role-playing game. Players have little to no control over each other. They can't change their tastes, personalities, or other such things to suit another player at the table. It's too much to ask and I feel some DMs in this discussion are basically saying, "Everyone needs to get along and talk to the other person before making their character to be sure they aren't making something the other person would be unhappy with." I don't feel players should have to do that. They can do it if they want to, but I do not expect it. The player is only responsible for making a character that will be fun for him to play, not a character that will be fun for him and fun for player x,y, and z. He doesn't need to run it by the other players before making what he's making. Maybe I'm misunderstanding all of you, but it seems like you're saying Player 1 has to check his concept with Player 2, 3, and 4. I don't agree with that if that is what is being said.

My group usually does ask each other what they're making because they don't want to overlap concepts or have too many of the same class. Backgrounds are usually individualized. They don't check feat choices by each other unless they're min-maxing as a group like the bard who may take the Inspiring Leader feat to empower the Druid's pixies from conjure woodland beings. That is coordinated group min-maxing. That is example of the players working together to enhance the fun of at least two of them, though it might piss off the other players. I guess we will see.
Speaking for myself, what I do is on par with what you describe. As GM, I try to catch ugly potential interactions ahead of time, and I might steer some changes with characters before the game starts, but I don't expect the players to work all that out before we begin.

My main point of contention is fun is too subjective. I can't be sure one player will have fun playing with another character. The people usually get along, but sometimes they don't love the other guy's character concept or his play-style. I can't control that. I can only provide them with clear parameters as a DM that I feel will ensure some semblance of balance and mitigate some of the worse min-maxing possibilities.

I have more ability as a DM to control the fun of the group by making the adventure fun and ensuring each player gets spotlight time.
Agree

It's a common case in my group. They snipe at each other now and again. One saying the other min-maxes all the time and damages the game. The other guy telling him mind his business, he likes to build his character the way he wants.
I don't envy you, that just sounds irritating.

I do run a very fun, immersive game. I've gotten more than a few people addicted to their characters almost like it was a second life. I truly like to invest the time to make the character seem like a living, breathing person with a full life. Gamers usually have such great imaginations they love to buy into the idea of living in another world as some extraordinary hero.
It sounds like our style isn't all that different afterall; the more we're talking the more that's coming into view.

Having conversations with a player that's burning with excitement to sort out a new development does wonders for keeping me energized as a GM.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Speaking for myself, what I do is on par with what you describe. As GM, I try to catch ugly potential interactions ahead of time, and I might steer some changes with characters before the game starts, but I don't expect the players to work all that out before we begin.



Agree



I don't envy you, that just sounds irritating.



It sounds like our style isn't all that different afterall; the more we're talking the more that's coming into view.

Having conversations with a player that's burning with excitement to sort out a new development does wonders for keeping me energized as a GM.
I figured we were probably closer than we thought. More of matter word choice than difference opinion.

Yeah. The sniping does get irritating now and then. I mostly try not to allow it to go to far and make an argument. We've had a few blow ups where people stopped playing together for a long time. Those are the worst.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
My only quibble with this is over the nature of the "predictability". The outcomes will be mechanically fairly predictable - but the fiction associated with those outcomes can be as varies as the players and GM like (especially when it comes not non-combat resolution).
Indeed. Since these (the DC guidelines) are a mechanical tool - it was implied that this was regarding the "mechanical"/die roll aspect of the result. I could have been clearer on this aspect, it's true.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I think you can have that. I just think that some people are honestly saying that, to them, taking a technical approach is not what they want when they GM. I'm somewhere in the middle (between art and science), I think, but I do love me my crunchy systems.
Yup. I agree that is what they're saying. There is really no meat to the "art portion" of GMing that we're able to discuss. That aspect is a very personal one (having to do with aesthetic preferences, natural aptitude, erudition, etc).

However, as a collective, I think openly (and in good faith) engaging in the "meaty" portion of GMing (the engineering/technical component) and how that interfaces with system can only be productive.

However...

On the lack of play example, I have no real hypothesis.

On the objection to analysis, I do have a hypothesis. There are people who enjoy books and films, for example, but disagree vociferously with even the idea of doing serious analysis or criticism of them. I think a lot of the resistance to analysing GMing comes from a similar position. The thought is that to analyse is already to change the practice, and make it something it isn't and ought not to be (eg a deliberate or considered thing rather than a spontaneous thing).

A related sort of objection to analysis is that the analyst is trying to set him-/herself up as intellectually superior to those who engage in the activity without analysing.
Unfortunately, this is where I come down on this. All three actually, including the inexplicable nature of not sharing and breaking down the machinery of the TTRPG conversation at work with play examples that we can discuss (like you did in your 4e thread, JC...that thread was one of the best on Enworld for some time...but it is very uncommon.).

I think complaints about the aesthetics of RPG books and the pre-play experience of reading them (feeling/reading like engineering manuals rather than mystical, wondrous tomes) is a strong line of evidence for paragraph 2. I think Mearls et al speaking specifically to this point during the design phase of 5e is instructive.
 
I think complaints about the aesthetics of RPG books and the pre-play experience of reading them (feeling/reading like engineering manuals rather than mystical, wondrous tomes) is a strong line of evidence for paragraph 2.
Just adding to this - when I read a RPG book, I enjoy thinking about situations I might construct as a GM - with the fiction as part of that. But I'm not generally looking to get sucked into an imaginary world, as if I were reading a book or watching a film.

To make it more concrete - I get much more pleasure from reading the 4e MM, which makes me think about things I might do in my game, then from reading a 90s Planescape or Ravenloft adventure, which just makes me frustrated ("Why would my players ever have their PCs make that choice, without which the railroad won't work?").
 

madrivi

Villager
Not-a-bit-of-a-thing.

Thanks to 5e i have come back, it made me take the arms of DM'ing again, is not the perfect edition but 1e and 2e were not pristine and i loved them! Perfect is boring...

Long life to 5e!
 
Unfortunately, this is where I come down on this. All three actually, including the inexplicable nature of not sharing and breaking down the machinery of the TTRPG conversation at work with play examples that we can discuss (like you did in your 4e thread, JC...that thread was one of the best on Enworld for some time...but it is very uncommon.).

I think complaints about the aesthetics of RPG books and the pre-play experience of reading them (feeling/reading like engineering manuals rather than mystical, wondrous tomes) is a strong line of evidence for paragraph 2. I think Mearls et al speaking specifically to this point during the design phase of 5e is instructive.
Lots of GMs post, so its a much higher proportion than players who post, as a fraction of all GMs and all players. Most of each sort don't care about theory, they 'just play'. Those who DO post are more inclined to be interested in theory. So, of the small portion of players who post, they have been distilled down to that fraction who are quite interested in theory, at least they're interested in builds, etc. OTOH the % of DMs is larger, so you get more of the less focused folks, DMs who just want some advice, story ideas, pointers on what products are good, etc.

The result is you get a lot of threads with people talking about builds or balance between classes or whatever that might interest players. You get much less about technical GMing stuff, though TBH I think it isn't fair to say there is anything like a total dearth. It seems to me that this very thread managed a pretty detailed analysis of 5e's core checking system and how it might differ in use from others. I'd say there's a WEALTH of information on this site about DMing techniques and other related issues. It may be mixed in with a lot of other stuff, but I think if you identify some posters with your own interests, you can home in pretty quickly on the good stuff.
 
Lots of GMs post, so its a much higher proportion than players who post, as a fraction of all GMs and all players. Most of each sort don't care about theory, they 'just play'. Those who DO post are more inclined to be interested in theory. So, of the small portion of players who post, they have been distilled down to that fraction who are quite interested in theory, at least they're interested in builds, etc. OTOH the % of DMs is larger, so you get more of the less focused folks, DMs who just want some advice, story ideas, pointers on what products are good, etc.

The result is you get a lot of threads with people talking about builds or balance between classes or whatever that might interest players. You get much less about technical GMing stuff.
Player stuff is also GM stuff, since the players are the focus of the game. A player is concerned about what kind of build he can use to get the character he wants, the GM is concerned with how the builds the players might come up with will wreck his campaign....
 
Player stuff is also GM stuff, since the players are the focus of the game. A player is concerned about what kind of build he can use to get the character he wants, the GM is concerned with how the builds the players might come up with will wreck his campaign....
Agreed. I've actually DMed about 100x more hours of 4e than I've played, and I was still fairly interested in the various details of building characters, at least up to a point. I certainly learned enough to go into CB and probably pick out a set of feats and powers for any given class that would produce a moderately optimized character.
 

Diamondeye

Villager
Yet oddly enough I used to talk to other D&D players (and RPGers more generally) about balance issues in games and systems.

Here is a quote from Gygax's column in Dragon 15 (June 1978; italics original):

Remember that D&D was developed as a game, and allowances for balance between character roles and character versus monster confrontations were made.​

And here is something I found in Dragon 84, from Jan 84), in a letter to the Forum discussing psionics options:

I would not expect this problem to have much effect on game balance.​

As [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] said, examples could easily be multiplied.
I find it bizarre that you quoted where I talked about "2E being mid-life" and then quote articles from 1984 and 1978. 2E came out about 1989, and was mid-life in 1994 or so, 10-16 years AFTER the articles you cite.

There's not a whole lot more to say. This level of historical chrry-picking is pretty normal when people can't get it through their heads that "Balance" is not axiomatically good. If you want to argue for a "balanced" system, you have to establish why it's needed. You don't get to assume it. Period. That is not open for debate.
 

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