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5E Why does 5E SUCK?

Hussar

Legend
I think the point is Ticket to Ride is a much more streamlined game, while the 18xx games are on the level of something like Squad Leader or other very involved historical recreation games.
 
It's interesting that some feel 5E is lite in complexity...I'd consider it more of a low-end medium complexity. Swords & Wizardry? Now that's lite.
 
It's interesting that some feel 5E is lite in complexity...I'd consider it more of a low-end medium complexity. Swords & Wizardry? Now that's lite.
I'd call it a high complexity system, its no simpler than 3.x or 4e, nor 2e. All of them have complex mechanics. Maybe its on the lower end of highly complex, there are some pretty stupidly detailed systems out there, but in no way shape or form is 5e 'lite', not even close.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I'd call it a high complexity system, its no simpler than 3.x or 4e, nor 2e. All of them have complex mechanics. Maybe its on the lower end of highly complex, there are some pretty stupidly detailed systems out there, but in no way shape or form is 5e 'lite', not even close.
Going to disagree... the Different DC's in 3e and numerous per round modifiers in 4e alone make this claim ring pretty false in my ears.
 
I don't think so.

Games that heavily favor balance -- or, more precisely, heavily limit imbalance -- are universally games of competition.
Nope, they're games.

If anything, cooperative games need balance even more critically than competitive ones. Competitive games can get by on fairness. Imbalance still looks bad, but it doesn't necessarily hurt play, and it can even enhance it, in that figuring out the best choices becomes part of the challenge of mastering the game - so long as the same imbalanced choices are available to all players, it's "fair."

With D&D, however, there's not really any competition inherent to the game.
In traditional D&D there often was. Tournament play was around from very early, so there could be victory conditions. Even if there weren't, there was often an implicit competition to survive, get the most treasure, the best items, the most exp, or otherwise emerge from the dungeon with the best character.

What about the DM? Well, there's no contest with the DM.
Adversarial DMing's a thing. From the Killer DMs of the early hobby to those who want to 'challenge' their players, today. It's only as fair as the DM chooses to make it, and balance on the PC class side still only matters in the cooperative context...

... why is balance considered such a Holy Grail of D&D game design?
Because, in spite of the above, D&D is mainly a cooperative game. Whether the players are cooperating just as much as necessary to 'win' the most treasure/exp/whatever individually, cooperating to tell an epic story, cooperating to beat the level-appropriate challenges presented by the DM, cooperating to meet some campaign objective, or just to explore an imaginary world, what each PC brings to the party (npi) is critical to the player contributing and even participating in the game meaningfully. Class balance is thus absolutely critical to a decent play experience. Even versions of the game, like 5e, that don't build class balance into the rules expect the DM to impose it from above by tailoring challenges to give each PC time in the metaphorical 'spotlight.'

Even if you personally want a highly balanced game, D&D is generally not designed for a single play style.
I'm not sure it was originally designed with a playstyle in mind. Perhaps it happened organically. Gygax & Arneson played the game as they were creating it, and it ended up a certain way (a treasure-hunting game suitable for tournament play). People got ahold of it and created variations that played differently - though, again, probably not with a conscious design intent. By the 90s, there were lots of games that did aim for very specific modes of play, like 'troupe style play' or 'storytelling,' and 2e D&D did edge towards getting with that program, a bit. 3.0 turned away from it, and 3.x because about a very specific style of play emphasizing RAW and system mastery.

When D&D did break out of that mold and present a more flexible, balanced system, it didn't go so well, it was too unfamiliar, and enacted at the price of invalidating all that 3.x system mastery. So 5e is back to being balanced & flexible in the traditional way - through DM interventions & customization, preferably via informal and ad-hoc, rulings not rules modifications.
 
I'd call it a high complexity system, its no simpler than 3.x or 4e, nor 2e. All of them have complex mechanics. Maybe its on the lower end of highly complex, there are some pretty stupidly detailed systems out there, but in no way shape or form is 5e 'lite', not even close.
D&D has generally been a fairly complex, often very complicated, system. It's just the nature of RPGs in general, and class & level based ones, in particular, that they're complex games, and, on top of that, D&D is also 'list based' - you add to it by adding to lists of things, not by re-combining existing elements into new material - so grows in complexity as you expand options. The basic system in 5e is as complex as any d20 game (since it is d20), and thus a bit less complex than the arbitrary/varied sub-systems of classic D&D, 2e included. But that's less complex in the sense that a rhino is lighter than an elephant - it doesn't make the rhino a hummingbird. 5e is far from a rules lite game, and only promises to become more complex as more material is added (one reason the 'slow pace of releases' shouldn't be so discouraging, it means slower growth in complexity).
 

EzekielRaiden

Explorer
Going to disagree... the Different DC's in 3e and numerous per round modifiers in 4e alone make this claim ring pretty false in my ears.
I've never understood why "lots of numbers to add" equates to "complex game."

The hundred+ pages of spells, on the other hand, definitely communicates "complex game" to me. Just as "8-12 pages of powers per class" communicates "complex" game. It may not be frighteningly complex, but it's definitely not "lite." Dungeon World is lite. Compared to DW, 5e is imperceptibly different from 3e and 4e.

To give some explanation, for anyone unfamiliar with DW: the absolutely most complex classes in the game (Cleric and Wizard) have a single extra double-sided character sheet, which includes everything you can do, spell-wise (not just a list of spell names, the effects of those spells too). Normally, characters are a single double-sided character sheet; casters are two double-sided pages. Any (default) character who acquires spellcasting does so by taking a move that lets them cast as a Cleric (of one level lower--Druids, Paladins, and Rangers), so you just add the Cleric spell list to your character sheet. "Multiclassing" is as simple as taking a move from another class, either because you have a Multiclass Move on your character's options, or because the DM gives the OK.

By comparison, every version of D&D I've ever played (2e, 3e, 4e, 5e playtest, and B/X) is dramatically more complex.
 
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Imaro

Adventurer
I've never understood why "lots of numbers to add" equates to "complex game."

The hundred+ pages of spells, on the other hand, definitely communicates "complex game" to me. It may not be frighteningly complex, but it's definitely not "lite." Dungeon World is lite. Compared to DW, 5e is imperceptibly different from 3e and 4e.
Because lots of numbers to add means more to remember, more to take into consideration for interaction and more to process... It seems pretty self-explanatory to me.
 
I've never understood why "lots of numbers to add" equates to "complex game."
Because it's complex. It may be only a fraction of the game's overall complexity, but it's a fraction that is noticeable in play, and a fraction that 5e reduced noticeably, particularly relative to 3e, via the Combat Advantage mechanic.

The hundred+ pages of spells, on the other hand, definitely communicates "complex game" to me.
Hundreds of pages is an exaggeration, 5e only has hundreds of spells, I don't think they even take up a whole hundred pages, not much more than a third or so of the PH. But, yes, that's a ton of complexity.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I prefer a game in which every player has the same degree of capacity to impact the fiction via his/her PC.

There are a range of different ways this can be achieved. In D&D, given (i) the absence of GM-side mechanics to constrain/control scene-framing, and (ii) of a metagame economy driven by PC descriptors (like MHRP plot points, FATE fate points, etc), I think this is best achieved via comparable mechanical effectiveness.
I actually think this highlights my problems with considering D&D a story game. The only way I can conceive to measure "impact on the fiction" at the table is through the use of such "metagame" (still hate that term, they're "abstract" or "metafictional", not "metagame") mechanics. That is to say, what is worth 1 unit of fictional importance varies between fictional situations. The only way to deal with that is by using the human participants as a metric/gatekeeper for what's worth spending the points on. No edition of D&D does a terribly good job of this, IMO. (Even though HP are such a metafictional mechanic, players don't get to arbitrarily spend them in any meaningful way, and so they end up not being effective.)
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
D&D has generally been a fairly complex, often very complicated, system. It's just the nature of RPGs in general, and class & level based ones, in particular, that they're complex games, and, on top of that, D&D is also 'list based' - you add to it by adding to lists of things, not by re-combining existing elements into new material - so grows in complexity as you expand options. The basic system in 5e is as complex as any d20 game (since it is d20), and thus a bit less complex than the arbitrary/varied sub-systems of classic D&D, 2e included. But that's less complex in the sense that a rhino is lighter than an elephant - it doesn't make the rhino a hummingbird. 5e is far from a rules lite game, and only promises to become more complex as more material is added (one reason the 'slow pace of releases' shouldn't be so discouraging, it means slower growth in complexity).
I think we as a community often fail to differentiate between "complex" and "tedious". There's more than one dimension needed to describe the mental load needed to play these games. So 3e greatly reduced (to my usage) the complexity of the game, but replaced it with a great deal of modifier-generated tedium. 4e decided to keep the tedium, but to extensively re-structure it. This works the other way, too. Fate, IMO, is actually not a very rules-lite game.* It is, however, a very low tedium game, because it avoids (almost entirely) the lists that you mention in favor of free-form descriptors. There is, I think, yet another dimension that would describe the need for at-table spontaneous creativity. IME, Dungeon World is a game that exemplifies that kind of load for the DM. The authors appear aware of it, as well, because the DM advice features notes on slowing the game down and techniques for extracting ideas from your players.

I can't think of another dimension, but I'm open to suggestions:
Complexity: the number of mechanically-distinct subsystems, procedures, currencies, etc.
Tediousness: the amount of in-game accounting and calculation.
Author-load: the amount of on-the-spot creativity required.
Each of these dimensions might be variable as well. Fate, starts with low-tedium, but some groups report play where keeping track of all the scene aspects gets out of hand. Also, as goes without saying anymore, whether any of these are good or bad to any particular degree is in the eye of the beholder.



*To be fair, my standards may be broken by spending too much time reading some very strange storytelling games.
 
I think we as a community often fail to differentiate between "complex" and "tedious".
Probably not a useful differentiation, since it's a very subjective distinction. Many - perhaps most - people would find the complexity of an RPG tedious, because they don't find the payoff of an imaginary character doing imaginary things in an imaginary would at all exciting. The tremendously complex, high-system-mastery chargen/level-up meta-game of 3.x is also something that could be seen as overwhelmingly tedious - or extremely engaging.

You'd end up just applying 'tedious' to complex games you had something against, and 'complex but not tedious' to game you happened to like.

I can't think of another dimension, but I'm open to suggestions:
Complexity: the number of mechanically-distinct subsystems, procedures, currencies, etc.
The other useful measure, I think, would be complication. You can have a complex game that is clear, orderly, even elegant. It's still complex, but it's complexity is easier to master, because it's easier to see and more consistent. You can have a game that's less complex in absolute terms, but because it's unclear, arbitrary, and/or inconsistent, it's more complicated, and harder to work with.

Another question about the complexity of a game is whether the meat of the game is complex, or the complexity is chaff. Mastering the former means mastering and leveraging all that complexity, mastering the latter is just a matter of identifying the few 'real' game elements that are worthwhile, and ignoring most of it.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Probably not a useful differentiation, since it's a very subjective distinction. Many - perhaps most - people would find the complexity of an RPG tedious, because they don't find the payoff of an imaginary character doing imaginary things in an imaginary would at all exciting. The tremendously complex, high-system-mastery chargen/level-up meta-game of 3.x is also something that could be seen as overwhelmingly tedious - or extremely engaging.

You'd end up just applying 'tedious' to complex games you had something against, and 'complex but not tedious' to game you happened to like.
"tedious" may be too loaded a word....but I'm shooting for a distinction between high-regulation and high-accounting requirements. "Bookkeeping?" AD&D is fairly complicated in having a gazillion or so sub-systems for everything, but you don't have to worry about keeping track of too many modifiers for most of them. Whereas the systems trend that 3e was a part of tended to rely on one rolling method with a gazillion modifiers dependent on the in-game situation. After that, you are correct, that I'm just differentiating the types of headache one might encounter during play. :)
 
Going to disagree... the Different DC's in 3e and numerous per round modifiers in 4e alone make this claim ring pretty false in my ears.
Yeah, I think others have already dealt with this, but 5e has spells which impose all sorts of modifiers, and often extra dice added to other dice, etc. Its NOT simpler. It does incorporate some 'ease of play' features, but oddly it also abandons a number of such features which made 4e easier to play.

On the whole its NOT a simple or 'lite' game. I have simple lite games, like PACE (3 page diceless system, THAT is simple), or Dungeon World which has literally one core mechanic that covers ALL possible things that players can do (make a move, toss 2d6).
 
"tedious" may be too loaded a word....but I'm shooting for a distinction between high-regulation and high-accounting requirements. "Bookkeeping?"
"Bookkeeping," sure. There's been a lot of that in D&D, Vancian casting is steeped in it, then there's tracking hit points, encumbrance to the 1/10th of a pound, layers of pre-cast spells & the duration & dispelling thereof, counting ammunition/charges/survival-days/whatever, even tracking the character's actual/maximum/adjusted age.

AD&D is fairly complicated in having a gazillion or so sub-systems for everything, but you don't have to worry about keeping track of too many modifiers for most of them. Whereas the systems trend that 3e was a part of tended to rely on one rolling method with a gazillion modifiers dependent on the in-game situation. After that, you are correct, that I'm just differentiating the types of headache one might encounter during play. :)
On balance, I'd still have to say that the 3e way is the less complex of the two. Mods may have be numerous and had named types, but they're all on the d20 scale, and the application of types had fairly clear rules, even if there were a lot of them.

Yeah, I think others have already dealt with this, but 5e has spells which impose all sorts of modifiers, and often extra dice added to other dice, etc. Its NOT simpler. It does incorporate some 'ease of play' features, but oddly it also abandons a number of such features....
It is selective about it, though. Favoring tradition and familiarity. A familiar complex system feels less complex than a simple, but unfamiliar one.
 

Aenghus

Explorer
I think we as a community often fail to differentiate between "complex" and "tedious". There's more than one dimension needed to describe the mental load needed to play these games. So 3e greatly reduced (to my usage) the complexity of the game, but replaced it with a great deal of modifier-generated tedium. 4e decided to keep the tedium, but to extensively re-structure it. This works the other way, too. Fate, IMO, is actually not a very rules-lite game.* It is, however, a very low tedium game, because it avoids (almost entirely) the lists that you mention in favor of free-form descriptors. There is, I think, yet another dimension that would describe the need for at-table spontaneous creativity. IME, Dungeon World is a game that exemplifies that kind of load for the DM. The authors appear aware of it, as well, because the DM advice features notes on slowing the game down and techniques for extracting ideas from your players.

I can't think of another dimension, but I'm open to suggestions:
Complexity: the number of mechanically-distinct subsystems, procedures, currencies, etc.
Tediousness: the amount of in-game accounting and calculation.
Author-load: the amount of on-the-spot creativity required.
Each of these dimensions might be variable as well. Fate, starts with low-tedium, but some groups report play where keeping track of all the scene aspects gets out of hand. Also, as goes without saying anymore, whether any of these are good or bad to any particular degree is in the eye of the beholder.
I would suggest using some other term than "tediousness" as the sort of bean counting play this refers to is for a small minority actually fun and not tedious in their eyes. Tedium is a negative term, but what people find tedious is very subjective.

(withdrawn: "Accounting" may be a more neutral term for the dimension you refer to, and you use it yourself above.)

Reading ahead in the thread, "Bookkeeping" works for me.
 
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Imaro

Adventurer
Yeah, I think others have already dealt with this, but 5e has spells which impose all sorts of modifiers, and often extra dice added to other dice, etc. Its NOT simpler. It does incorporate some 'ease of play' features, but oddly it also abandons a number of such features which made 4e easier to play.
I'm not getting into a 4e vs. 5e debate with you again... I find 5e less complex than both 4e and 3e, and contrary to your assertions I would say that's a pretty widely held view.

On the whole its NOT a simple or 'lite' game. I have simple lite games, like PACE (3 page diceless system, THAT is simple), or Dungeon World which has literally one core mechanic that covers ALL possible things that players can do (make a move, toss 2d6).
I didn't say it was a simple or lite game... I said it was less complex than 3e or 4e IMO.
 
I'm not getting into a 4e vs. 5e debate with you again... I find 5e less complex than both 4e and 3e, and contrary to your assertions I would say that's a pretty widely held view.
I didn't ask you to! I merely listed the names of other editions of equivalent complexity. If you think every time someone write '4e' in a thread they're fighting with you, that isn't my fault.

I didn't say it was a simple or lite game... I said it was less complex than 3e or 4e IMO.
You didn't say anything, I said it was as complex as 4e and 3e and you objected. Then I said it wasn't a simple or lite game, and now you're arguing about that too, which presumably we both agree is the case. You really don't have to invent arguments.

5e is a complex game. It has approximately the same mass of core rules that 4e, 3e, 3.5e, and for that matter 2e had. It requires pretty much the same procedure to make a 3.x, 4e, or 5e characters, they have pretty much the same statistics and derived values, etc. The various subsystems are of roughly similar complexity, with 5e having more complex 'power' rules, and perhaps somewhat simpler combat rules, but there's really no appreciable difference. It takes the same 20 or so minutes for a practiced player to make a character in any of these systems, etc.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I didn't ask you to! I merely listed the names of other editions of equivalent complexity. If you think every time someone write '4e' in a thread they're fighting with you, that isn't my fault.
No you decided to tell me how 5e got rid of these great 4e features (as if this was relevant to the discussion)... which yes leads me to believe you are once again trying to get into a 4e vs. 5e debate it's what many of the 4e fans, including you, seem to expend most of their energy doing in the 5e forums.

You didn't say anything, I said it was as complex as 4e and 3e and you objected. Then I said it wasn't a simple or lite game, and now you're arguing about that too, which presumably we both agree is the case. You really don't have to invent arguments.
If you quote me I'm going to assume what you are posting under said quote is addressing my statements... even if it's by implication. If you were agreeing with me then just consider it a clarification of my stance since I didn't want the fact that you quoted me then talked about 5e not being a simple or lite game to imply I was saying such.

5e is a complex game. It has approximately the same mass of core rules that 4e, 3e, 3.5e, and for that matter 2e had. It requires pretty much the same procedure to make a 3.x, 4e, or 5e characters, they have pretty much the same statistics and derived values, etc. The various subsystems are of roughly similar complexity, with 5e having more complex 'power' rules, and perhaps somewhat simpler combat rules, but there's really no appreciable difference. It takes the same 20 or so minutes for a practiced player to make a character in any of these systems, etc.
I disagree...
 
The other useful measure, I think, would be complication. You can have a complex game that is clear, orderly, even elegant. It's still complex, but it's complexity is easier to master, because it's easier to see and more consistent. You can have a game that's less complex in absolute terms, but because it's unclear, arbitrary, and/or inconsistent, it's more complicated, and harder to work with.
"Complex" and "complicated" are synonyms, both meaning "consisting of many interconnecting parts or elements."
 

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