D&D General Why Editions Don't Matter

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Hussar

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.

Scene framing has never existed in any form of DnD.

You are basically saying that no version of DnD is playable.
 

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gorice

Adventurer
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.
I think you might misunderstand me. I'm not saying I want more crunch, or that I'm uncomfortable making rulings, or that you're a bad wrong DM for doing so. I'm actually very comfortable making rulings and inventing stuff -- it's part of the fun of the game, for me.

What I'm saying is: I want to know when and under which circumstances to do these things. Like, here's some text from a game called Wanderhome, picked randomly from my folder of PDFs.
1663713878579.png

This text explains how to start playing the game. It's a bit vague about who gets to say what (maybe a flaw, but whatever), but it's pretty clear that you start the game by establishing a scene as a group, and gives you some tools to do that.

In 5e, establishing the location is a DM's responsibility, I guess? I'm fine with that. How do I do that, though? Am I allowed to start my PCs in a jail cell with no stuff, or do they get some say in it? How do I decide if and when monsters attack? Can my players influence where we go in the next scene, or do they have to go where I tell them?

This is the kind of basic stuff I'm talking about when I say 'joining the dots'. Experienced DMs will have their own answers to these questions, but new ones often struggle.
 

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.
With a notable exception I have enjoyed a lot of different D&Ds. What I have come to find though is the group is more important than the game much of the time.

Where things matter—rule sets for me is where the game allows you to break it. Wish spells, flying divination.

If it lacks these things, the DM is not going to add in these generally. So with the right group would I enjoy 3e even though I have been into 1e and 5e? Totally.
 


gorice

Adventurer
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.
I dunno, man. I don't feel like an old-school dungeon crawl and railroaded 'adventure path' are the same game. Maybe not even the same medium, in really horrible cases.
Scene framing has never existed in any form of DnD.

You are basically saying that no version of DnD is playable.
You telling me B/X doesn't have rules for stocking dungeons and exploring them?

And, yeah, OD&D in particular has massive holes in its rules. People figured out solutions.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
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."
The completeness of a set of rules is not a matter of opinion. Either it is complete or it is incomplete, and whichever the case may be, it is the case no matter what anyone’s opinion may be.
 

I think you might misunderstand me. I'm not saying I want more crunch, or that I'm uncomfortable making rulings, or that you're a bad wrong DM for doing so. I'm actually very comfortable making rulings and inventing stuff -- it's part of the fun of the game, for me.

What I'm saying is: I want to know when and under which circumstances to do these things. Like, here's some text from a game called Wanderhome, picked randomly from my folder of PDFs.
View attachment 261907
This text explains how to start playing the game. It's a bit vague about who gets to say what (maybe a flaw, but whatever), but it's pretty clear that you start the game by establishing a scene as a group, and gives you some tools to do that.

In 5e, establishing the location is a DM's responsibility, I guess? I'm fine with that. How do I do that, though? Am I allowed to start my PCs in a jail cell with no stuff, or do they get some say in it? How do I decide if and when monsters attack? Can my players influence where we go in the next scene, or do they have to go where I tell them?

This is the kind of basic stuff I'm talking about when I say 'joining the dots'. Experienced DMs will have their own answers to these questions, but new ones often struggle.

Hmm, that's an interesting comparison. If I were to sum up Wanderhome with a pithy phrase, I would say it's "play vibes not rules." There are sort of these prompts that take you through the game text, but very little structure, and basically no mechanics. I would also agree with the author in terms of the relation of game text to game play (this isn't from an actual interview; he's "interviewing" himself):

An Interview​

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in game design?

A:
I hate when games try and tell me what counts as playing them. Like when I sit down and I pull out a Powered By The Apocalypse game and it tells me that play is a conversation that is periodically interrupted by moves. Bitch how do you know that, you don’t know me! [laughs] But seriously, I think a lot of modern games assume all the players have the energy to be hyper-engaged and hyper-invested in the game mechanics, and I’m not sure that has to be true. Maybe I want to explore a game without having to think about fictional triggers or make big decisions. Aren’t I still playing, even if I’m just vibing?

Q: But at what point can you separate freeform RP from playing an RPG?

A:
Why are we drawing that distinction in the first place? If I hang out with my friends and we all tell stories set in the world of Earthsea, can it not be said that we’re playing Earthsea? And by extension, if we all tell stories in the world implied by Monsterhearts, isn’t that still Monsterhearts even if we’re not using the dice mechanics described by the book?

Q: So, are you saying system doesn’t matter?

A:
I don’t think so? I just think like … the text matters, because it’s sitting on the damn table in front of us. We put it down on the table, so obviously it matters to us. It’s the shared set of building blocks that we use to figure out our game.

Q: That sounds like OSR.

A:
Is it? I don’t know. I’m 23, when you’re 23 you feel like you’ve figured out everything. But I don’t know naughty word yet! Maybe I’ll completely disagree in five years. Who knows!
 

Hussar

Legend
I dunno, man. I don't feel like an old-school dungeon crawl and railroaded 'adventure path' are the same game. Maybe not even the same medium, in really horrible cases.

You telling me B/X doesn't have rules for stocking dungeons and exploring them?

And, yeah, OD&D in particular has massive holes in its rules. People figured out solutions.

It says you start in a town with a dungeon nearby. True.

First module I played was the Lost City where you start lost in the desert and there is no town.

🤷
 

Oofta

Legend
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.

The similarities to me are primarily in the resulting narrative of the game. Did we stop the goblin invasion? Can we make an alliance between these two factions work, how much does my dwarf like ale? How many sessions will I get with my new elf PC this time before they die?

I've run my campaigns based on a world I created when I was in high school (hint: a long, long time ago). Some overall themes come and go but ultimately it's all about sitting around a table telling jokes and having fun pretending to be something we're not in a world that only exists in our imagination.

I do think rules matter, different editions can feel quite different. But the stories we tell? The things we'll remember and tell stories about years later? Those stay the same.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, I have a ton of history, lore and background information in a wiki that I've built up over the years. But it's information on things like Alfheim is ruled by the Sidhe and is the equivalent of the feywild. That's not house rules, just stating that I don't follow standard default cosmology.

Which doesn't make what @DND_Reborn wrong if it works for them, but if I added up all the house rules I've ever seen anyone use I doubt I'd come up with 15 pages, much less 150.
Yeah for sure.

Me, I’d just rewrite the system or find a different system, at that point.
 



Hussar

Legend
The completeness of a set of rules is not a matter of opinion. Either it is complete or it is incomplete, and whichever the case may be, it is the case no matter what anyone’s opinion may be.

I would strongly disagree with this.

There are all sorts of shades of “complete”. If the mechanics serve my purpose, they are complete for me but might be incomplete for someone else who wants, for example, greater granularity.

This we see the back and forth about the exploration rules in 5e. Or the naval combat rules in Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

Replace “complete” with “rules I personally like” and we generally see posts making a lot more sense.
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Ok, sure. But that may instead be indicative that 5E as written requires a lot of tweaking to make it play the way you want, where 1E and 2E didn't.
Correct.

But, for example, the 1E initiative system as written is just straight-up busted and incomplete. ADDICT is adequate evidence of that. You literally have to truncate, patch, or entirely replace it just to play the game. OD&D as published literally has no initiative system.
Sure. 1E initiative was overly complex and IME very few people actually really understood how it worked. Most had "approximate" systems for initiative which mirrored 1E's, but wasn't "quite the same".

I recently (a few months back) introduced my Saturday group to 1E with mixed results. Parts of it they really liked, other parts they felt were overly complex. I joke with them (but seriously) that 1E helped make me good at math because I had to figure a lot of stuff out--I had no one really to show me after I started playing with my friends instead of my cousins and sister.

That is one reason why when 2E came out I adopted a hybrid 1E/2E edition which I played for about 15 years with a lot of people and it worked well. 2E simplified a lot of the complexity in 1E, but kept much of the feel since other aspects were just a copy of 1E.

That is a truly massive amount of houserules for a game for which most people I have played with, watched/listened to play, and talked to about the game, would have maybe 3 houserules total.
I think that is because you are failing to realize that every "ruling not rule" is really a house-rule, even if not written down. ;)

Our Mod is so large because as well as changing a lot of things, we are also writing down all those rulings so they are rules. :D

Whereas I have less than a single page. Same with most games I play. I can't imagine playing a game that had 150 pages of modifications or how anyone would keep track of everything.

I'm glad it works for you but you have exponentially more house rules than anyone I've ever encountered in real life.
(see my response just above your quote)

Yeah, I have two groups right now. One plays with a truncated version of the Mod, the other with just a couple house-rules because they are learning the game and I want them to learn it as close to RAW/RAI as possible so if they join other tables, they know what the bases are.

When I first started playing 5E four years ago, we played to level 5 (about 3 months IIRC) without any house-rules. Yes, I had to make up "rulings" on the fly, and some of those became "established" as how to adjudicate something--which is a house-rule.

I mean, you can ask several different DMs how would you do X, Y, and Z? And you'll get different answers each time probably, even if the difference is small. Each answer is a ruling, which is just a house-rule "on the fly" so to say. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work well, and they revise it. Eventually, a DM comes up with an established way the like to handle X, Y, and Z, and that becomes their house-rule for it.

For example, in my other post I ask about jumping and extending the distance you can jump by making a Strength (Athletics) check. I know how I would rule it (a ruling) and so it became a house-rule.

FWIW, I go back and forth on what house-rules I REALLY want to implement to make the game more complete and fun for me to DM and which house-rules are not really necessary. At this point I have four Golden House-Rules, which for a house-ruled game (my Saturday group) we won't play without. Once my Monday night group is more experienced, I'll introduce those rules/systems for their consideration.

The Mod I am (constantly! :) ) working on I will probably post someday, either here or someplace for free. I doubt anyone else is obsessive enough to use it all, but I hope bits and pieces might appeal to different groups for their own use. I mean, really though, it is smaller the A5E. ;)

Which doesn't make what @DND_Reborn wrong if it works for them, but if I added up all the house rules I've ever seen anyone use I doubt I'd come up with 15 pages, much less 150.
Well, the current breakdown is roughly:

50-pages on chapters 2-4 in the PHB (races, classes, and backgrounds)
50-pages on chapters 5-9 (equipment, feats, ability scores, adventuring, and combat)
50-pages on chapters 10-11 (spellcasting and spells) and DM misc./creatures

Honestly, after your character is created, a player would really only need about 10% of it for that PC, the rest might need to be referenced at level ups, etc.

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.
Oh, I know it was intentional. I just wish they hadn't made it "quite" so open. I don't want GURPS or anything that in-depth, but a bit deeper into rules and systems would have made the game better of a lot of other players IME.

With an escape valve as huge as "rulings, not rules", 5e is definltely playable "RAW".
Yep, but what people often don't consider is "rulings, not rules" are, in fact, house-rules. :sneaky:

How far can you B/X character jump?

Can my elf swim?
Well, it has been nearly three decades, but pretty easily:

As far as the DM allows you to jump?

I don't know, you tell me: can your elf swim? ;)

Yeah for sure.

Me, I’d just rewrite the system or find a different system, at that point.
Believe me, I have been looking! :D
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Hmm, that's an interesting comparison. If I were to sum up Wanderhome with a pithy phrase, I would say it's "play vibes not rules." There are sort of these prompts that take you through the game text, but very little structure, and basically no mechanics. I would also agree with the author in terms of the relation of game text to game play (this isn't from an actual interview; he's "interviewing" himself):
I would ask what I'm paying him for with his game, but then after ruminating on the whole interview... I never intend to.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The rules are incomplete because such commonly asked questions pop up.
No, the rules aren’t to your taste, because answers to such questions aren’t directly and explicitly laid out in detailed mechanical language.

I’ve never seen a new DM have any trouble upon being told that the game is built this way on purpose, and that they should just do what makes sense and suits the story, in conversation with the players.

I would wager that most new DMs don’t struggle with much of 5e in general, tbh.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think that is because you are failing to realize that every "ruling not rule" is really a house-rule, even if not written down. ;)
I understand quite well that you see it that way.
Our Mod is so large because as well as changing a lot of things, we are also writing down all those rulings so they are rules.
Which is an entirely optional excercise that isn’t needed to run the game, and most groups don’t do.
 

gorice

Adventurer
Well, notwithstanding what Jay said in the interview, that bit I posted is actual, concrete rules, and stricter than the equivalent rules for 5e. Is there some thing in the RPG community where no-one wants to admit they're a game designer?
 


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