D&D 5E Why Don't We Simplify 5e?

But this seems to emphasize the fact that trust between players is a key element to an ttrpg unlike video and board games with more defined rules. Not only because of dm discretion as the referee and final arbiter of the rules, but also because of ‘problem players’ of various kinds. I think without that trust and level of communication rpgs are not worth playing. Story games do a good job of providing advice for both gms and players for how to approach the social situation of playing an rpg.
I can trust your intention without trusting your skills - if, in order to have fun with the game, I need to first make sure the dm is good at running the game, a set of skills not measurable by knowledge of rules, systems, or other provided knowlege, then any time I join a game it's a gamble as to whether the game will be fun. Because maybe you're not good, and my evening will be crap. Unless you know of a reliable method for judging the skills of a dm that's noticeably easier than playing with them?

Also, if I don't play with unskilled dms, how will they get skilled? (Answer: systems to guide them, but you seem to be arguing against using systems to guide the game, so what else is there beside 'fail a lot and drive away players'?)
 

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sominator

Explorer
Back in the D&D Next days, my impression of the new edition was that the game would be streamlined and/or have its bumps ironed out. WotC would produce something more accessible to the masses, and maybe even ride the popularity of some lighter-weight games at the time (looking at you, Savage Worlds). Crunch would be Pathfinder's thing, and more power to Paizo.

But here we are with regular rules discussions from WotC, and regular rules discussions here (now in the helpful format of How To articles). A "basic rules" document. An advanced 5e on the way from ENpublishing, and a full-on battle royale thread about the plethora of DMG options. Several threads are about adding more rules to make an aspect run better or more realistically.

And here I thought 5e was about the rulings that the DM would make, not the rules. Players make their characters from the book, and the DM does the rest, right? Why don't we see more discussions here about simplifying D&D?
This is actually what we attempted with our 5E cyberpunk/fantasy RPG, Entromancy. After playing and GMing 5E and seeing how long it can take to onboard new players, our intention was to create something that was playable after ~10 minutes of sitting with the rules.
There are, of course, some drawbacks to the approach, but we're happy with where we netted out.
 

I can trust your intention without trusting your skills - if, in order to have fun with the game, I need to first make sure the dm is good at running the game, a set of skills not measurable by knowledge of rules, systems, or other provided knowlege, then any time I join a game it's a gamble as to whether the game will be fun. Because maybe you're not good, and my evening will be crap. Unless you know of a reliable method for judging the skills of a dm that's noticeably easier than playing with them?

Also, if I don't play with unskilled dms, how will they get skilled? (Answer: systems to guide them, but you seem to be arguing against using systems to guide the game, so what else is there beside 'fail a lot and drive away players'?)
A well-written ruleset can be an asset to a new dm and group, but it can also hinder them if it's too extensive. I mean, look at this (from 2e):


climbing1.png
climbing 2.png


Or the infamous grappling rules from 3e. I actually wonder if those sorts of rules were actually ever correctly used RAW, including by the designers.

Ultimately, the "skill" of being a dm is a social one, which is where we get a most common current dm advice (move the spotlight, say yes and, keep the game moving). I think a game's published content can include that advice to help, and there are many storygames that emphasize that the dm is also a player, that, unlike in dnd, everyone's fun doesn't have to just be on their shoulders.
 

But this seems to emphasize the fact that trust between players is a key element to an ttrpg unlike video and board games with more defined rules. Not only because of dm discretion as the referee and final arbiter of the rules, but also because of ‘problem players’ of various kinds. I think without that trust and level of communication rpgs are not worth playing. Story games do a good job of providing advice for both gms and players for how to approach the social situation of playing an rpg.

Eh, there's issues of degree here. I won't play with a GM who I don't trust their intentions; I don't have unlimited trust in any GM's judgment, nor do I expect players to when I'm GMing.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
A well-written ruleset can be an asset to a new dm and group, but it can also hinder them if it's too extensive. I mean, look at this (from 2e):


View attachment 142434View attachment 142435

Or the infamous grappling rules from 3e. I actually wonder if those sorts of rules were actually ever correctly used RAW, including by the designers.

Ultimately, the "skill" of being a dm is a social one, which is where we get a most common current dm advice (move the spotlight, say yes and, keep the game moving). I think a game's published content can include that advice to help, and there are many storygames that emphasize that the dm is also a player, that, unlike in dnd, everyone's fun doesn't have to just be on their shoulders.
Cough. Grapple in 3E. Cough.
 

Though grapple is always the low-hanging fruit; even in otherwise well designed systems its hard to find grapple rules that work right or aren't overly complex even by the standard of the system they're in, or both.

Of course its also something that anyone without a fair bit of experience in wrestling is unlikely to even get half right, so...
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Though grapple is always the low-hanging fruit; even in otherwise well designed systems its hard to find grapple rules that work right or aren't overly complex even by the standard of the system they're in, or both.

Of course its also something that anyone without a fair bit of experience in wrestling is unlikely to even get half right, so...

The one I always wonder about is if there is a way to put in rules for knocking someone out by surprise (like in all the crime noir books, movies, and radio shows) into D&D.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The one I always wonder about is if there is a way to put in rules for knocking someone out by surprise (like in all the crime noir books, movies, and radio shows) into D&D.
Treat everyone as a minion when they’re out of combat and/or unprepared for a fight, sleeping, etc. Minions are one hit to kill. You can do non-lethal damage instead of killing someone outright. That covers slitting someone’s throat and the pistol grip to the melon to knock em out. Just don’t slit the PCs’ throats...too often.
 

The one I always wonder about is if there is a way to put in rules for knocking someone out by surprise (like in all the crime noir books, movies, and radio shows) into D&D.

In practice, it should be about as easy as outright killing someone from surprise, given it sidesteps hit points.
 

teitan

Legend
So, one reason we don't simplify 5e is because it's easier just to run a simpler game than to simplify 5e?

Does 5e butt up against actual rules-light games, which leaves room for adding rules but not subtracting them?

By the way, I'm seeing some good conversations here that might be carried into their own threads... 🤓
That’s not what I said. I was trying to imply 5e is already simple, in some cases simpler than those games. 5e, for D&D, is pretty rules light and yes does butt against rules light games such as the ones I listed, because, aside from DCC, those games are a part of what 5e was designed to compete against with the success of OSR games.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
Sure. I get that. But it's a false sense of control and protection. The GM is still there and can still make a call. The players can point to the book all they want, but ultimately the GM is in charge of the game. The rules don't replace the GM. The GMs make the rules. As long as they're not tyrants about it, it works just fine. A lot of those players need to lighten up. If someone wants a game with a GM but also wants to be protected from the GM, I'd suggest they don't actually want an RPG.
I agree. Most players of this type are better served by Computer RPGs.

Which bears out as crpgs have a vast and large following. (And are frankly far more lucrative than tabletop RPG's.)


But this seems to emphasize the fact that trust between players is a key element to an ttrpg unlike video and board games with more defined rules. Not only because of dm discretion as the referee and final arbiter of the rules, but also because of ‘problem players’ of various kinds. I think without that trust and level of communication rpgs are not worth playing. Story games do a good job of providing advice for both gms and players for how to approach the social situation of playing an rpg.

Absolutely. If you are unable to trust, RPG's may not be the hobby for you.

I can trust your intention without trusting your skills - if, in order to have fun with the game, I need to first make sure the dm is good at running the game, a set of skills not measurable by knowledge of rules, systems, or other provided knowlege, then any time I join a game it's a gamble as to whether the game will be fun. Because maybe you're not good, and my evening will be crap. Unless you know of a reliable method for judging the skills of a dm that's noticeably easier than playing with them?

No system can prevent BAD GMing. No amount of rules can stop a bad GM from doing his thing.

Yes, joining an unknown group is a gamble. That is just the way it is.

You just have to vote with your feet until you find a group that fits. Not gaming is better than staying in a RPG group that sucks.

I sat in single sessions for 3 different groups before I found my current long term one. It was worth the effort.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Not gaming is better than staying in a RPG group that sucks.
While I generally agree with this notion, if actually applied, it leaves beginner GMs no way to learn their art-craft. I think with how much of a mantra this is it scares off newbie GMs from even trying to run games.

If the GM insists they’ve been doing it for decades and still does terrible GM stuff like railroading, playing favorites, makes arbitrary decisions without explanation or willingness to get input, etc, then sure. Better to not play. But beginner GMs will not be great from the start. They have to learn by doing.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
When rules exist players can make plans based on assumptions their characters would be able to logically make on things like effectiveness & cost/benefit even if the GM needs to weigh in on those plans. That is not possible when. One example from the past the rules are half baked or unfinished & lean excessively on "ask your gm." A good example of that from a past edition was how bonus types & GM's best friend were implemented in the past.

Now in 5e there is (dis)advantage and a maybe that your gm might change the dc of something or use different ability checks based on... based on ... well... unwritten rules. This is not an improvement and it belies the actual results to suggest that the alternative of 5e's "ask your gm" is ruleslawyering attempts at forcing CRPG type restrictions on play.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
This is actually what we attempted with our 5E cyberpunk/fantasy RPG, Entromancy. After playing and GMing 5E and seeing how long it can take to onboard new players, our intention was to create something that was playable after ~10 minutes of sitting with the rules.
Did you post in ENWorld about your simplifications? (A forum search resulted in "Ooops a server error occurred!") I'd like to read about it!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
There are no guarantees to anything in life.

What a game can do is make the process of play more transparent and help to set expectations for what play will entail. There can be no trust without clear expectations. Trust is about setting and respecting mutual boundaries.

More transparent play processes can help make it easier to see early on if the fit could be right. It can help avoid those situations where you find out 3-6 sessions in a game is not for you instead of 1-2. A game providing clear expectations can also make it much easier to find people who are likely to be on your matching wavelength.

Also skill at running a game is individual to the game in question. Skill at running D&D does not necessarily transfer well to other games.
 


Jaeger

That someone better
That’s not what I said. I was trying to imply 5e is already simple, in some cases simpler than those games. 5e, for D&D, is pretty rules light and yes does butt against rules light games such as the ones I listed, because, aside from DCC, those games are a part of what 5e was designed to compete against with the success of OSR games.

5e may be simple compared to the last two editions of D&D, but when compared to the hobby as a whole it is a very rules medium game with a decent amount of crunch for players to track.

It is not 5e or B/X - ther is plaenty of design space in between the two to work with.

My post on p. 11 #217 in this thread is one example of how 5e can be streamlined in several ways making it easier for new players to grasp certain elements - yet there are no meaningful reductions in actual player options.



While I generally agree with this notion, if actually applied, it leaves beginner GMs no way to learn their art-craft. I think with how much of a mantra this is it scares off newbie GMs from even trying to run games.

... But beginner GMs will not be great from the start. They have to learn by doing.

Most GM's I know learn by starting out from within an existing group. Usually running a few doing one shots, then a modules or so before taking on a short campaign .

Learning from within an active group, a new player see's how good GM's work. They then have something to emulate without having to jump into things completely cold.

Although I won't say its never happens - someone trying to GM from the jump with only the rulebooks as a reference seems a pretty rare thing these days.


Also skill at running a game is individual to the game in question. Skill at running D&D does not necessarily transfer well to other games.

That only way I can see that could possibly be a thing would be an inability to wrap one's head around a non-D&D ruleset for whatever reason.

Good GM's simply adjust for a given rules set. The core techniques and attributes of running an RPG well are universal.


...why do so many dislike bards anyway?

The real question is why bards are allowed to live at all...
 

That only way I can see that could possibly be a thing would be an inability to wrap one's head around a non-D&D ruleset for whatever reason.

Good GM's simply adjust for a given rules set. The core techniques and attributes of running an RPG well are universal.

Not--really? Among other things, there are other games that have vastly different views of what the job of the GM is in a game, and coming to them from D&D will actively require them to unlearn things in some cases. You can argue they're not common (whatever that means) but the skills needed to run FATE or PbtA games can be quite different from running trad games like D&D, and some skills and traits useful to the latter can be actively counterproductive.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
Not--really? Among other things, there are other games that have vastly different views of what the job of the GM is in a game, and coming to them from D&D will actively require them to unlearn things in some cases. You can argue they're not common (whatever that means) but the skills needed to run FATE or PbtA games can be quite different from running trad games like D&D, and some skills and traits useful to the latter can be actively counterproductive.

I'm not familiar with Fate, never ran, never played, so I will not comment on it.

PbtA, BitD, Those are actually very conventional RPGs, just with tight genre focus mechanics. (I have an opinion why they seem to trip up some people, but that is another discussion...)

I am very familiar with: Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, and Blades in the Dark.

BitD ran fine when one of my group ran a short campaign, and the only thing he ran before was a CoC one shot a year previous, with his last serious turn as a GM years before that. That was the first BitD game I played in. Same with the GM who runs our Tuesday night game using PbtA. His previous experience was running nothing but so-called "traditional" games D&D, RQ, Vampire, Homebrew systems, etc...

The last few RPG Campaigns run by our Sunday group over the past 5 years: Shadowrun 4, Demon nWoD, 5e D&D, StarWars (Homebrew system based on d6 - I GM and it is ongoing)

One shots/ Short Campaigns: CoC, 2d20 Conan (I ran), Short BitD campaign.

Tuesday group: A long running group I joined 5 years ago: Homebrew d10 diepools system, PbtA Monster of the Week, DungeonWorld, a series of PbtA based (Home hack) short superhero campaigns since.

Before me they played tons of stuff including Fate. I Could ask their opinions on it when I next get a chance.

So long as you have the GM/Players RPG set up; is is merely an issue of grokking the rules of a given game.

I will readily say that sometimes people bounce off of rules sets. Like me and Champions/HERO... Played it, read the rules, and I will never GM that monstrosity!

Now if we go out into the realm of StoryGames, then that is a different kettle of fish... Those games do not do things the same as an RPG.
 

I'm not familiar with Fate, never ran, never played, so I will not comment on it.

PbtA, BitD, Those are actually very conventional RPGs, just with tight genre focus mechanics. (I have an opinion why they seem to trip up some people, but that is another discussion...)

I am very familiar with: Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, and Blades in the Dark.

I think not expecting people who are trained (possibly self-trained) in trad games to have an issue with the constraints assumed on the GM in most incarnations of PbtA is a pretty big reach though (I won't speak of Blades in the Dark because I'm not familiar with it). In many respects they're much less top down and GM-authority than most trad games.

The fact they didn't in the cases you saw is not an indicator that a routine rank and file D&D GM would not run into big expectation problems with them.

Now if we go out into the realm of StoryGames, then that is a different kettle of fish... Those games do not do things the same as an RPG.

Eh. I think the fine line of demarkation a lot of people draw there is illusory. You might be able to easily tell at one extreme or the other, but there are plenty of games that meet in the middle to some degree at least.
 

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