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D&D 5E Why does 5E SUCK?

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I keep trying, and I just don’t see the OSR in 5e. What about it takes folks back to their old school gaming days?
This can certainly be nitpicked, but some of the OSR (or at least, pre-3e) stuff I see:

1) Frontloading of mechanical choices. Once you pick race, class, subclass, you really don't make a lot of choices when you level. You just gain new abilities. (Less so with feats and multiclassing turned on, but still much less overall than 3e and 4e).

2) Simplification of combat. You can move and either cast a spell or swing a weapon, and occasionally do something else. Broader options do exist (there's that 3e and 4e DNA again), but there's nothing like the trading of move actions for other options or full-round actions of 3e, or the menu of standard/move/minor actions of 4e.

5e is like the half-sibling of every other edition, you can see the resemblance if you look, but it's still obviously its own thing.
 

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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I keep trying, and I just don’t see the OSR in 5e. What about it takes folks back to their old school gaming days?

The spirit of the game is very much one of "rulings, not rules", which is more of an OSR spirit.
The structure of the rules are extremely modular, making houserulling easier.
Multiclassing and feats were shunted to optional rules, making emulation of a style of game without them much easier to pull off.
Maxing ability scores puts more emphasis on levels than on ability scores, which is more similar to OSR.
Del-linking magic items from expected power levels makes it somewhat similar to the OSRs reliance on more randomness in magic items. You not longer have magic item wishlists players submit to DMs with some expectation of acquiring them through treasure found or purchase, much like the OSR style.
Speaking of randomness, all the friggen charts of wandering monsters and random events is very OSR in style.
The ability to run actual OSR modules/adventures with so little effort because the 5e math is predictable and tolerance levels for the math so forgiving that you can adapt on the fly a 1e module to a 5e game (which I and many have done). That was tough to do in 3e and almost impossible in 4e without massive work.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
The spirit of the game is very much one of "rulings, not rules", which is more of an OSR spirit.
....
The ability to run actual OSR modules/adventures with so little effort because the 5e math is predictable and tolerance levels for the math so forgiving that you can adapt on the fly a 1e module to a 5e game (which I and many have done). That was tough to do in 3e and almost impossible in 4e without massive work.


These are the two biggest and obvious ones to me. As someone who kept playing AD&D all through the 3e and 4e years, and now plays 5 since it came out, I can say 5e is definitely more of an OSR feel than the other two editions for those reasons.

Heck, during the playtest days when we really didn't have 5e adventures, I was able to run my old 1e modules with almost no conversion at all needed. When I wrote Depths of Felk Mor in 2012 (link in my sig), you can instantly see how a 5e ruleset supports OSR style easily and well.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The spirit of the game is very much one of "rulings, not rules", which is more of an OSR spirit.
The structure of the rules are extremely modular, making houserulling easier.
Multiclassing and feats were shunted to optional rules, making emulation of a style of game without them much easier to pull off.
Maxing ability scores puts more emphasis on levels than on ability scores, which is more similar to OSR.
Del-linking magic items from expected power levels makes it somewhat similar to the OSRs reliance on more randomness in magic items. You not longer have magic item wishlists players submit to DMs with some expectation of acquiring them through treasure found or purchase, much like the OSR style.
Speaking of randomness, all the friggen charts of wandering monsters and random events is very OSR in style.
The ability to run actual OSR modules/adventures with so little effort because the 5e math is predictable and tolerance levels for the math so forgiving that you can adapt on the fly a 1e module to a 5e game (which I and many have done). That was tough to do in 3e and almost impossible in 4e without massive work.
Interesting. I think the math tolerance levels are definately something that only 3/.5e was missing, but the rest of that groks. IMO, 5e is overwhelmingly "new school", but it does accomplish many of the same design goals as ADND.

This can certainly be nitpicked, but some of the OSR (or at least, pre-3e) stuff I see:

1) Frontloading of mechanical choices. Once you pick race, class, subclass, you really don't make a lot of choices when you level. You just gain new abilities. (Less so with feats and multiclassing turned on, but still much less overall than 3e and 4e).

2) Simplification of combat. You can move and either cast a spell or swing a weapon, and occasionally do something else. Broader options do exist (there's that 3e and 4e DNA again), but there's nothing like the trading of move actions for other options or full-round actions of 3e, or the menu of standard/move/minor actions of 4e.

5e is like the half-sibling of every other edition, you can see the resemblance if you look, but it's still obviously its own thing.
Fair points!

I've described 5e as the "Rorschach Edition" a few times.
If you hate 5e and hated 4e, you'll look at 5e and see all the stuff you hated in 4e. If you love 5e and loved 3e, you'll see all the stuff you loved from 3e. And vice versa. It's very much an edition that is influenced by your perceptions more than its contents.
Maybe!

Having played AD&D in the 1980s and having recently played lots of Labyrinth Lord etc with OSR groups (and at the same being someone who prefers 4E), 5E has many similarities: Vancian spells and spell lists; descriptive spell descriptions rather than the Magic Card format of 4E powers; no magic item creation/treasure parcels; no paragon paths or epic destinies; no Powers for martial characters; a reversion to old school rôles (fighting, exploration, magic) versus the 4E rôles of defender, control, striker and support.

Um...you could mostly be describing 3.5, there. 3.5 isn't Old School DnD. ADnD is Old School DnD.
 

Sadras

Hero
So, an element that is present in literally every TTRPG, including every edition of DnD?

Mistwell's first two points cover what I mean by DM adjudication.
3.x was heaven for the rules lawyers and rule mastery, 4e's system engine was just so neatly designed it certainly barred much need for DM adjudication, whereas 5e is a revert to the older way of play - leaning towards 'mother may I' sort of style (and I do not mean that negatively).
 

Tallifer

Hero
Um...you could mostly be describing 3.5, there. 3.5 isn't Old School DnD. ADnD is Old School DnD.

I have never played 3.5 (I skipped any roleplaying between the 1980s and 2009). I was merely stating all the stuff that I have recognized in 5E from my days playing AD&D, which is as you say Old School.
 
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Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
Because 5e doesn't enhance immersion in the game. It becomes a game onto itself and the focus isn't on the story or the character, it's on how many dips you make into other classes, what feats, what spells you have what your damage output is.

I find this amusing as half of the things complained about are optional rules that don't exist in every game.
 

vicberg

First Post
[MENTION=4789]Lord Mhoram[/MENTION], you're absolutely right. This isn't my first rodeo in being a GM. I started in 1983. This was my first foray into 5e, having taken a long hiatus from D&D (GOT 3.5 was the last D&D I ran) and I didn't limit feats or multi-class. If I ever jump into it again, I certainly would as it would have alleviated a lot of headaches.

And yes, power gaming has been in an issue in every system since role playing started. That's not new. What really surprised me was the sheer number of people focused on the power gaming side, in large part due to feats and multi-classing. They were actively out there looking for builds that would do 800 HP in a single hit, stuff like that. So I can say, I shot myself in the foot.

It was amusing, tbh.
 

vicberg

First Post
What made the entire experience actually very amusing, before I blew the game up, was that one character died (no small feat in 5e) the session before, and there were tears. Lots of them. And I thought, I've done my job. These guys are immersed. Right?

Then I find out a few days later, that all the fighter types (4 characters) want to switch into spellcasters (clerics, druids, wizards) to make a party of 7 spellcasters, including the character that died (and was brought back) and the characters that were crying. So one moment, they seem totally immersed and the next they want to abandon 3 1/2 months of game play and character development. What? Wait? Where did I zig when they zagged?

That is ultimately my fault. No excuses. But I can say that at 7th level, with feats and multi-class, the spellcaster power level goes up drastically and to see a party now of 7 spellcasters, suddenly at 7th level and not before when they would have been TPK'd, wasn't coincidence. So 5e (with feats and multi-classing) didn't help me very much.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
What made the entire experience actually very amusing, before I blew the game up, was that one character died (no small feat in 5e) the session before, and there were tears. Lots of them. And I thought, I've done my job. These guys are immersed. Right?

Then I find out a few days later, that all the fighter types (4 characters) want to switch into spellcasters (clerics, druids, wizards) to make a party of 7 spellcasters, including the character that died (and was brought back) and the characters that were crying. So one moment, they seem totally immersed and the next they want to abandon 3 1/2 months of game play and character development. What? Wait? Where did I zig when they zagged?

That is ultimately my fault. No excuses. But I can say that at 7th level, with feats and multi-class, the spellcaster power level goes up drastically and to see a party now of 7 spellcasters, suddenly at 7th level and not before when they would have been TPK'd, wasn't coincidence. So 5e (with feats and multi-classing) didn't help me very much.
Sounds like you have a social contract/expectation problem, not a 5e problem.
 

vicberg

First Post
Sounds like you have a social contract/expectation problem, not a 5e problem.

I would totally agree with this. But, it was a situation where I don't know what it is I don't know. My newness to the system worked against me. I've never experienced a situation of multiple players wanting to change mid-campaign and I was caught totally unprepared. Therefore, I never set an expectation of no changes at the onset of the campaign because I honestly didn't think I had to. Perhaps that too old school thinking in this day and age, don't know. But characters never just changed mid flight in any campaign I've run or participated in unless they died.

So, I will say that it was more my problem than 5e. Again, 5e didn't help me and the lure of the spell casters was obviously too great for them. But I've already learned from this thread, no feats, no multi-class. Now a social contract, which makes sense. The more people respond, the more I'm learning on what to do if I dive into 5e again.
 

Erechel

Explorer
I would totally agree with this. But, it was a situation where I don't know what it is I don't know. My newness to the system worked against me. I've never experienced a situation of multiple players wanting to change mid-campaign and I was caught totally unprepared. Therefore, I never set an expectation of no changes at the onset of the campaign because I honestly didn't think I had to. Perhaps that too old school thinking in this day and age, don't know. But characters never just changed mid flight in any campaign I've run or participated in unless they died.

So, I will say that it was more my problem than 5e. Again, 5e didn't help me and the lure of the spell casters was obviously too great for them. But I've already learned from this thread, no feats, no multi-class. Now a social contract, which makes sense. The more people respond, the more I'm learning on what to do if I dive into 5e again.
I should say that I wouldn't change feats and multiclass. I would surely put a "no-nonsense" clause in a game. Feats, specially, aren't such a problem once you acknowledge that they aren't absolute. Multiclass is its own problem. Why a fighter with 20 str should become a warlock suddenly? The "dip" concept is mostly misused, and leaves you behind in many, many areas. Spells are very limited, specially when you acquire them late on the game.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I would totally agree with this. But, it was a situation where I don't know what it is I don't know. My newness to the system worked against me. I've never experienced a situation of multiple players wanting to change mid-campaign and I was caught totally unprepared. Therefore, I never set an expectation of no changes at the onset of the campaign because I honestly didn't think I had to. Perhaps that too old school thinking in this day and age, don't know. But characters never just changed mid flight in any campaign I've run or participated in unless they died.

So, I will say that it was more my problem than 5e. Again, 5e didn't help me and the lure of the spell casters was obviously too great for them. But I've already learned from this thread, no feats, no multi-class. Now a social contract, which makes sense. The more people respond, the more I'm learning on what to do if I dive into 5e again.

Overpowered spellcasters isn't a problem 5e has, especially at 7th level. The game actually works best in the 5-9 level range. I'm not sure what happened at your table, it's clear your expectations differed drastically from your players and no one handled things well (it's entirely possible you encouraged spellcasters rather than non-spellcasters through play incentives). However, the problems you're talking about are player-DM problems, not systemic issues with 5e. I'm perfectly open to having issues with 5e -- I have a few myself -- but it really seems like your blaming a mismatch in expectation on the system. Perhaps you could start a thread on what happened and the community could provide advice on how to keep on track.
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
[MENTION=4789]Lord Mhoram[/MENTION], you're absolutely right. This isn't my first rodeo in being a GM. I started in 1983. This was my first foray into 5e, having taken a long hiatus from D&D (GOT 3.5 was the last D&D I ran) and I didn't limit feats or multi-class. If I ever jump into it again, I certainly would as it would have alleviated a lot of headaches.

And yes, power gaming has been in an issue in every system since role playing started. That's not new. What really surprised me was the sheer number of people focused on the power gaming side, in large part due to feats and multi-classing. They were actively out there looking for builds that would do 800 HP in a single hit, stuff like that. So I can say, I shot myself in the foot.

It was amusing, tbh.


I've had a couple campaigns just blow up on me due to unforseen circumstances. And I almost destroyed a game, but having been a GM, I retired the character and built another (this was in Champions/Hero). I can laugh at it now.....
 

Mistwell's first two points cover what I mean by DM adjudication.
3.x was heaven for the rules lawyers and rule mastery, 4e's system engine was just so neatly designed it certainly barred much need for DM adjudication, whereas 5e is a revert to the older way of play - leaning towards 'mother may I' sort of style (and I do not mean that negatively).

Now, see, my opinion (speaking as one who has played D&D since its inception, so 'OSR' or 'classic D&D' is something I understand inside and out) is that the preciseness of mechanics combined with the robust 'hook' of highly well-thought-out ubiquitous keywords actually frees both GM and players to be MORE creative! The players know that they can and cannot do and the stakes they are playing. Both GM and players can easily understand what the relations between story and mechanical action are via keywords, and fictional positioning can reliably leverage on those keywords, as can attempts to go beyond the normal rules.

This is why, IMHO, 5e is a step backwards as a system. It actually reduces the overall freedom and set of options that are practically available. Without adding anything compensatory.
 

Sadras

Hero
This is why, IMHO, 5e is a step backwards as a system. It actually reduces the overall freedom and set of options that are practically available.

Sure different tables have different experiences. At our table we find 4e was restrictive, despite the inclusion of these key-words whereas 5e allows for more creativity.

YMMV
 
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Mercule

Adventurer
Mechanically, nothing. I don't have any serious quibbles with the rules.

Fluff-wise, too much Realms. Of course, nothing short of taking it out back, beating it with a shovel, then burning what's left is actually going to please me, so take that with a salt mine.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Now, see, my opinion (speaking as one who has played D&D since its inception, so 'OSR' or 'classic D&D' is something I understand inside and out) is that the preciseness of mechanics combined with the robust 'hook' of highly well-thought-out ubiquitous keywords actually frees both GM and players to be MORE creative! The players know that they can and cannot do and the stakes they are playing. Both GM and players can easily understand what the relations between story and mechanical action are via keywords, and fictional positioning can reliably leverage on those keywords, as can attempts to go beyond the normal rules.

This is why, IMHO, 5e is a step backwards as a system. It actually reduces the overall freedom and set of options that are practically available. Without adding anything compensatory.

Keywords make the rules master of what you can do, as opposed to the DM. So while this might increase freedom at a table with a DM more towards the "permit the least amount" side of the spectrum, I think your average table results in increased freedom because your average DM will find a way to say "yes" to more things than the keywords would otherwise allow.

In addition, the keywords by their very nature are intended to cover a range of expected elements of the game, but the nature of the game is that you cannot always accurately anticipate the range of things which can be attempted in a game driven by the imagination of individuals. Which means you inevitably get keywords which don't accurately predict how something will be used sometimes, which leads to further refinement in errata or sage advice, which leads to more unanticipated consequences, more revisions, and you get the snowball effect of page after page of rules revisions like we got in 4e.

I think these two reasons are why reports of actual 5e play tend to, more often than not, express a sense of increased freedom to do more of what you can imagine on the fly than in many prior editions that had more stringent keywords in the rules.
 
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