D&D General Why Editions Don't Matter

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Oofta

Legend
I mean ... why are the edition fights in D&D so vicious?

Because the stakes are so low.

C'mon. You wanna like One Edition? One Direction? One Bard to RULE THEM ALL? SPLITTER!!!

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Well, here is an example if you're curious:

Last night a PC in my game failed his save and is afflicted by Lycanthropy. Now, I know he has it due to the failed save, and I know a remove curse can get rid of it, but there is nothing in the rules about anything more. This is all there is:

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How do they know they're afflicted? They need to know before they can choose to resist or embrace.
What about changing before the full moon? Can they resist it before then when the moon is full, or is it just the full moon? How many days is that?

Now, I can answer these questions easily myself, but for a newer DM I can see how they might feel a bit lost and wonder where are the rest of the rules on this? Is it in the DMG? Nope--nothing there I've ever seen.

So, while the rules for contracting and removing lycanthropy are there, the rest is missing and left up to the DM.
It when the hair on their back is as thick as on their chests!

Wait. I was afflicted? When I run around and howl with my chiweenie I am literally part of the pack?!

I need a minute.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
There is no group that plays it and does not join to dots with houserules.

Raises hand...
The trick is, this isn't obvious from a player's perspective. It's the DM-facing part of the game that is incomplete.

For example: under what circumstances do I, as DM, frame a new scene? How 'hard' can I frame it, and what do I take into account when doing so? This is really basic stuff you can't play the game without, and the rules don't, as far as I can tell, really say anything about it.

Then there's stuff like the entire exploration 'pillar', including travel, weather, wandering monsters, etc. These things 'exist' in the game text, but there are no clear procedures for actually bringing them into play.
I don't think you (general you) need such things spelled out for you. Obviously, miles may vary, but the rules presented are more than enough for me and everyone I've played with. Looking at the number of people who play 5e, I think it's obvious that it is playable RAW.
 

LOL Hardly! 5E is the first edition IMO which has HUGE "gaps" in the rules and feels like the designers simply expect groups to fill in those gaps themselves.
This really was intentional, but probably not quite to the extent it became. The goal of 5E (D&D Next) was to create a game with the broadest appeal possible. To do this, it required a solid chassis that can be tweaked and modded by each DM/group to fit their preferred style, since there were serious edition wars over different styles of play. During the playtest, the divides deepened, so much so they had to shut down the D&D Forums. This meant that to appease all sides, they had to keep the base rules as generic as possible, believing that each side would adjust to play their preferred style (not realizing the deep desire of RAW had settled into most players). Unfortunately, this left a lot of gaps, since to clarify them would offend one group or another, potentially driving away customers.
 


gorice

Adventurer
Raises hand...

I don't think you (general you) need such things spelled out for you. Obviously, miles may vary, but the rules presented are more than enough for me and everyone I've played with. Looking at the number of people who play 5e, I think it's obvious that it is playable RAW.
I'm not making any judgement about whether you need the game text to spell this stuff out in order to play. I'm just saying, this stuff doesn't exist in 5th ed. Generally, people substitute procedures from older editions, or stuff they've learned online.

You absolutely are joining the dots when you do that, though. The game literally cannot be played without it.
 

gorice

Adventurer
During the playtest, the divides deepened, so much so they had to shut down the D&D Forums.
This is really fascinating to me. Would you mind giving me some pointers as to where to look to learn more, or maybe expand on it a bit?
 

Oofta

Legend
This really was intentional, but probably not quite to the extent it became. The goal of 5E (D&D Next) was to create a game with the broadest appeal possible. To do this, it required a solid chassis that can be tweaked and modded by each DM/group to fit their preferred style, since there were serious edition wars over different styles of play. During the playtest, the divides deepened, so much so they had to shut down the D&D Forums. This meant that to appease all sides, they had to keep the base rules as generic as possible, believing that each side would adjust to play their preferred style (not realizing the deep desire of RAW had settled into most players). Unfortunately, this left a lot of gaps, since to clarify them would offend one group or another, potentially driving away customers.
One man's "generic as possible" is another's "I can run the game the way I, and my group, want". Previous editions had ever increasing "thou shalt run the game this way". It didn't work for me, it didn't work for a lot of people I know. D&D does not need to be run exactly the same at every table. I'm glad we have rulings over rules.
 

Oofta

Legend
I'm not making any judgement about whether you need the game text to spell this stuff out in order to play. I'm just saying, this stuff doesn't exist in 5th ed. Generally, people substitute procedures from older editions, or stuff they've learned online.

You absolutely are joining the dots when you do that, though. The game literally cannot be played without it.
The game cannot be played without what, now? Because seems like millions of people, many who have never touched an RPG before in their life, are playing just fine.
 

I would submit that 5e as written absolutely is incomplete, to the extent that it's actually unplayable. There is no group that plays it and does not join to dots with houserules. The trick is, this isn't obvious from a player's perspective. It's the DM-facing part of the game that is incomplete.

For example: under what circumstances do I, as DM, frame a new scene? How 'hard' can I frame it, and what do I take into account when doing so? This is really basic stuff you can't play the game without, and the rules don't, as far as I can tell, really say anything about it.
Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I know of no game that doesn't require "connecting the dots" in this manner. Not in the sense that every game needs houserules, but ttrpgs involve individuals interpreting both rules and fictional positioning. If I'm running 5e, I have to make a judgement call on setting a DC, and sometimes a table of suggested DCs would be nice. If I'm running Blades in the Dark, it's up to me to set position and effect and figure out what a "complication" might look like if a roll comes up as a 4 or 5. If anything, the latter is more difficult and requires more connecting-of-dots as a GM.


Then there's stuff like the entire exploration 'pillar', including travel, weather, wandering monsters, etc. These things 'exist' in the game text, but there are no clear procedures for actually bringing them into play.
DMG pp. 106-112. There are rules for structuring wilderness travel, rolling for weather, getting lost, and foraging. The writing and presentation certainly leaves something to be desired: if one wants a "checklist" as in previous editions, the DM would have to parse the text to make one, so that's not ideal, and there are some random tables presented in this section that probably would be better placed elsewhere in the book. But there's as much info here as in my rules cyclopedia and much much more than in my copy of old school essentials.
 

Oofta

Legend
When it comes to "5E is incomplete", I will admit there are some things I wish they had kept from previous editions such as a price list for items. I understand why they didn't - they wanted to remove the expectation that you should have a magic mart - but I do want some items for sale.

But the game is hardly "incomplete" or at least no more so than any other edition. For example if the DM has a wall that can be climbed they need to decide a DC in 5E. In 3.x we had a chart and the DC was set based on the type of wall. But it just gave the illusion of precision because as a DM I decided what the wall was. In practice it just made more work because I had to look at the chart and, based on how difficult I wanted it to be to climb, I had to base my description of the wall on the appropriate construction. If I was improvising it was even worse. That and we were constantly leafing through books to figure out the "correct" way to run something, it could really slow the game down when someone insisted that there were details on how to [insert task here] somewhere and they just had to find it quick.

Ultimately D&D and TTRPGs in general are games of the imagination. Unless you have a very limited scope and tone of game, you simply aren't going to get specifics that hold your hand. Would D&D 5E be better with more charts and price lists? Maybe. But where to draw that line is not easy to answer.
 

gorice

Adventurer
The game cannot be played without what, now? Because seems like millions of people, many who have never touched an RPG before in their life, are playing just fine.
Without procedures for playing the game, you literally cannot play. So, people invent or import their own. If it works for you, it's not a problem. For you.
Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I know of no game that doesn't require "connecting the dots" in this manner. Not in the sense that every game needs houserules, but ttrpgs involve individuals interpreting both rules and fictional positioning. If I'm running 5e, I have to make a judgement call on setting a DC, and sometimes a table of suggested DCs would be nice. If I'm running Blades in the Dark, it's up to me to set position and effect and figure out what a "complication" might look like if a roll comes up as a 4 or 5. If anything, the latter is more difficult and requires more connecting-of-dots as a GM.



DMG pp. 106-112. There are rules for structuring wilderness travel, rolling for weather, getting lost, and foraging. The writing and presentation certainly leaves something to be desired: if one wants a "checklist" as in previous editions, the DM would have to parse the text to make one, so that's not ideal, and there are some random tables presented in this section that probably would be better placed elsewhere in the book. But there's as much info here as in my rules cyclopedia and much much more than in my copy of old school essentials.
re: your first point, I agree that lots of games have holes in their rules. 5e is merely a particularly bad offender. I'm not talking about rulings or interpretations, though; I'm talking about procedures. When you pass go, collect 200 dollars. When you roll in Blades, establish position, effect, and complications. That kind of thing. Like, how do you actually play the game?

I'm not asking for watertight anything, just some kind of structure I can actually use. Here's the DMG on random encounters, for example:
You decide when a random encounter happens, or you roll. Consider checking for a random encounter once every hour, once every 4 to 8 hours, or once during the day and once during a long rest—whatever makes the most sense based on how active the area is.
That's not a rule! It's a list of suggestions. I don't need pages of monster tables and travel speeds, I need to know when and how to introduce these things when I'm running a game.
 

Oofta

Legend
Without procedures for playing the game, you literally cannot play. So, people invent or import their own. If it works for you, it's not a problem. For you.

re: your first point, I agree that lots of games have holes in their rules. 5e is merely a particularly bad offender. I'm not talking about rulings or interpretations, though; I'm talking about procedures. When you pass go, collect 200 dollars. When you roll in Blades, establish position, effect, and complications. That kind of thing. Like, how do you actually play the game?

I'm not asking for watertight anything, just some kind of structure I can actually use. Here's the DMG on random encounters, for example:

That's not a rule! It's a list of suggestions. I don't need pages of monster tables and travel speeds, I need to know when and how to introduce these things when I'm running a game.
Yes, 5E is rulings over rules and doing what makes sense for the campaign and your group. It's called "being a DM". There is no static list because it's just not that type of game, it's designed for flexibility. If you need that kind of guidance there are modules galore.

Millions of people manage to "invent" things without the rules telling them specifics. That may not work for you, no game is perfect for everyone.
 

That's not a rule! It's a list of suggestions. I don't need pages of monster tables and travel speeds, I need to know when and how to introduce these things when I'm running a game.
I agree that wilderness encounters are not really part of the game. That said, a DM making a random encounter a 1-in-6 chance is a pretty easy patch. Much more difficult is to make those encounters into fun gameplay when a) combat can take a long time and b) players expect everything to be "plot" related. In other words:

 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
The “rest” isn’t missing, it’s not needed.
Tell that to new DMs! I mean, seriously, I can't tell you how many times I've been working with a new(ish) DM who is trying to run a game and have them ask me what the rules are one this or that.

Another example, running long jump (or jumping in general). The rule is your STR, yet the section on Athletics says you can make a Strength (Athletics) check to jump further. DMs ask what is the DC? How much further? Does it use their action or is it just part of their movement?

The rules are incomplete because such commonly asked questions pop up. Look at Sage Advice, it is full of players and DMs asking for clarifications and/or how to implement missing components for rules.

5E is good at presenting a "base rule", but lacks the depth for VERY commonly requested information. Instead the designers say the DM is left to "do it however you want".

Gee, really? Thanks! I ALREADY KNOW THAT! I'm the DM, I can do/change whatever I want for my game--but for the love of dragons give some guidance. You developed the game so should have some concept of what is appropriate!

But, no, that is all missing.

It doesn’t need to be the same from campaign to campaign, much less table to table!
Of course not, because DM's could choose to ignore those "completed" aspects of the rules and/or change them however they want. But, having a baseline to expect IS VERY HELPFUL when a player joins a new table.

You seriously want tables and mechanics for all of that? That doesn’t sound obnoxious and tiresome at all?
No, and I never said I did, so please stop exaggerating. But there are several aspects of the rules where more completion/guideline sidebars would be welcomed.

Stuff like that is why I despised 3.5 so much I stopped playing altogether for several years.
🤷‍♂️

Ok I guess. I never played 3E (or 3.5 or whatever) long enough, but I can tell you I absolutely LOVED d20 Star Wars Revised and feel it is the best over all d20 system. As far as I know, it was build on roughly the same base as 3E D&D?


Either way, it isn’t any kind of evidence regarding how common it is to feel like the rules are “incomplete”. You’ve just shown that it’s possible that you see anything less than a game that would make GURPS GMs feel overwhelmed with detailed rules as “incomplete”.
Sure there is: Sage Advice and Message Boards (including here!) where players often ask for help with rules.

Let’s just say I find that notion untenable.
No game will ever be "totally complete"--that is impossible. My point was just 5E could have had a bit more rule depth and been better for it IMO. You obviously disagree, which is cool if "rulings and not rules" works for you, but it doesn't work so well for a lot of DMs and players.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm sure a lot of people mod the heck out of their games, but I probably run 98% according to the rules. Same for most people I've played with for the last couple of editions. That includes a couple of games with WOTC employees.
We're in the same boat. On occasion I'll modify the rues for a game, but if I have to make a lot of changes then I'm simply going to select another set of rules to use. I use the rules as written for the following reasons:
  1. They've typically been playtested.
  2. Everybody at the table has access to and an understanding of the basic rules (except for grappling).
  3. The rules are written by professionals (stop laughing) and are probably easier to understand than anything I write.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Before this turns into an all-out edition war, I want to bring up the point of the video again. That is, we're all playing D&D, and to the vast majority of people who aren't part of the fandom, there isn't any functional difference. And even within the fandom, the differences are pretty minor compared to the similarities. Maybe we should focus on similarities.
 


MGibster

Legend
But you didn’t say “I don’t like leeks the 5e rules.” You said “leeks the 5e rules are incomplete.” The former is a statement of personal taste, the latter is an evaluation of an objective quality.
I gotta be honest here, I tend to just put "In my opinion," in front of most statements about a game.

"[In my opinion,] the rules are broken!"
"[In my opinion,] the grapple rules are complete."
 

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