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5E With the Holy Trinity out, let's take stock of 5E

Mouseferatu

Villager
I dont understand the dichotomy here - dont stories inherently involve challenges of various kinds? The narrative doesn't write itself - even in a 1e deathtrap dungeon.
Well, sure. :) But I wasn't the one who advocated eliminating the gaming conventions that encouraged the storytelling aspect.

The game needs both, absolutely, but it should be up to the individual table to decide which aspect they prefer to emphasize.
 

Blackbrrd

Villager
That takes me back. I did a similar thing with Neopaint on an Atari ST linked by composite video lead to a 26" CRT TV when I was running Shadows in Traveller (for the zillionth time).

Anyway… I don't have any of the books yet but I will get them; I've seen enough that I like in the previews WotC has helpfully splashed around the internoodle. I think 5e is a worthy edition (and yes, I've played and run it occasionally from the first play-tests to the release of the free basic rules) but it hasn't persuaded me to give up on 3e. That remains, for now at least, my D&D of choice.
I have only tried low-level 5e, but from what I have read, I think going from 3e to 5e will mostly seem like an upgrade. I played several campaigns that ended at 11th, 12th and 18th level and all of them struggled with combat speed/buff time. 5e looks to handle this quite a lot better. You also get flatter math when it comes to attack bonuses/defenses (bounded accuracy) which makes life a lot easier for the DM, mostly due to the much more linear scaling of monsters as opposed to the quadratic scaling from earlier editions.

What 5e doesn't have that 3e has, is 150 splat books. Personally, I like it. The last 3e campaign I ran only used the 3.5 PHB as a player resource and some house rules. With that in mind, 5e actually comes out on top.

What I like best about 5e is probably how easy it to run as a DM. ;)
 
In 4E you couldn't use house rules, or at least it was difficult to fit them into the tightly woven rules set.
This is a bit bizarre to me. For my first session of the game, I worked with a player to come up with a house-ruled superior halberd for his PC (the only published option of a superior polearm was a spear).

In (I think) my second session I used a house rule from Keith Baker about crits and action points in skill challenges. (Elements of this were later semi-formalised by DMG2.)

The invoker/wizard in my game is a Sage of Ages, and the abilities of that epic destiny that (as written) affect only arcane magic also affect his divine magic. I also tweaked another player's epic destiny to allow an additional minor ability (a language, I think) in place of an ability that duplicated one he already had. For two PCs I also house-ruled themes - one a variant of the Primordial Adepts in Heroes of the Elemental Chaos, another an undead hunter that is its own thing.

Those are just some of the house rules I can think of off the top of my head.
 
In 4E you couldn't use house rules, or at least it was difficult to fit them into the tightly woven rules set.
I don't understand why "Bad house rules stick out like a sore thumb rather than bite you in play" is anything other than a positive. Especially as I've always house ruled - but by working with the system rather than against it.
 
Of course you can house rule in 4E, it is just more difficult than in some other editions because of how tightly designed the game is.

I didn't say it was a negative, by the way.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
4e just wasn't a game my group ended up enjoying. My group never really warmed to the skill challenge rules even after the math was fixed and they were revised numerous times, we liked a more organic feel to exploration and events and thus didn't need or want the artificial constraints of SC for pacing so they offered little reason for us to use them...The hour + combats of 4e wore our game down and stalled the overall progression of our campaign to the point that it felt like the only thing getting done each week during our 4 hour session was at best a little roleplay/exploration and then hours of tactical, battlemat-based, combat, and finally as a DM (contrary to others experiences) the encounter design was just as wonky as previous editions once the PC's got higher up in level, in fact, IMO, it didn't work well at all for determining an actual challenging encounter.

After my group's disappointment with 4e, 5e seems to be the edition that has brought us back to what we want D&D to feel and play like. For the first time every player in the group has purchased and read a PHB and 2 other players have purchased the DMG and the MM because they are interested in DM'ing... We've had a game going since the PHB came out and the PC's are now 3rd level and as far as I can see 5e is hitting all the right buttons for us. As a DM 5e just feels more liberating and flexible than 4e, and the classes all have interesting mechanics without falling into the overwhelming number of "powers" problem 4e was prone to.

The biggest complaint to date I've seen about 5e is the lack of interesting things for monsters to do... but I'm just not seeing it, I've compared monsters from the 4e MV and the 5e MM and I am not seeing this gulf between the two in mechanical things fro monsters to do. I'd say my only complaint is that sometimes I do wish the monsters had all their abilities in their stat-blocks, but it's a minor complaint at most and I'm actually warming to picking specific spells for certain monsters as a way to customize them.


Sorry but I don't see it as a remastered 2e (nothing against 2e personally) but I do see it as a greatest hits edition... It's taken most of the things I like from previous editions without going overboard into what I felt was the negative aspects of each of those editions.
 

TerraDave

5ever
Drama in a story is driven by conflicts and challenges faced by the protagonist, where what happens is often very different then what they expect.

But anyways...

....
I would be pleased as punch to see a real embrace of 2e's style of lore and real in-depth presentation of flavor rather than the 3e/4e favoring of rules content.
Its a divisive issue, even (especially?) back then.

1E had flavor. It was parsimonious...but it was there. The 2E core books where relatively dry and style free. So where 3E and 4E, which also took a smaller, flatter, less inspiring approach in general. (here is your little vale and your few little gods). 2E and 4E did have good monster books, in each case a redo of the first take. And yes, for 2E, the supplements were often accompanied with voluminous "flavor" that tended to be of mixed quality and was greeted in a mixed fashion.

Skipping right to 5E, they split the difference. They go pretty far with flavor and world elements, and of course the DMG goes far in telling you how to do your own. Its more then 1E, though not that out of step with it, and more then 2E core rules.

Keeping in mind that--just as unexpected challenges are key to story--verbiage and loquaciousness are often the enemies of good writing. I think they have struck the right balance with 5E so far.

But if people want some supplements full of story on certain settings, sure, why not. No one says I have to buy them.
 

TerraDave

5ever
All the check mechanics of course. Anything where the DM is mistakenly expected to improvise at the table.

EDIT: You would never do that in Mastermind, it should be taken back out of D&D.
I am sensing a contradiction.

If the DMG has an abundance of precise rules for the DM...one way or another those will move from behind to in front of the screen.

And of course early D&D was all about the DM improvising.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
I dont understand the dichotomy here - dont stories inherently involve challenges of various kinds? The narrative doesn't write itself - even in a 1e deathtrap dungeon.


And BTW Greedo clearly did not fully utilize the social and exploration options of his milieu.
the Story arises from the play, not the play from the story. Unless you DM is breaking "Wheaton's Law."
 

Mouseferatu

Villager
the Story arises from the play, not the play from the story. Unless you DM is breaking "Wheaton's Law."
It's not nearly that binary. It's quite possible to have a story-focused campaign without being a--what Wheaton doesn't want you to be. There's a continuum, and "railroad" is only at the far end of it. Player actions must be meaningful, yes, but that doesn't mean there can't be elements of a story built into the campaign concept.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
It's not nearly that binary. It's quite possible to have a story-focused campaign without being a--what Wheaton doesn't want you to be. There's a continuum, and "railroad" is only at the far end of it. Player actions must be meaningful, yes, but that doesn't mean there can't be elements of a story built into the campaign concept.
The worst cases of bad DMing combine preset plot and failure to even maintain the illusion of freedom of choice. I've seen plot-hammer that wasn't railroad, as well. As in, "Sure, you can go over there... where you encounter the BBEG's brother..."

It's the one railroad element of HotDQ that really rankles me: if they manage to kill X in chapter 1's finale, they face an identical BBEG in chapter 3.
 

dd.stevenson

Super KY
All the check mechanics of course. Anything where the DM is mistakenly expected to improvise at the table.
So I run my dungeons in a pattern recognition format, and I'm not happy with the presentation in the PHB which implies that you explore the environment by rolling a bunch of d20s and narrating the results. Mainly because I think that approach sells D&D short, without offering so much as a shout-out to playstyles that (I consider to be) more fun and engaging.

But I wouldn't want to see the check mechanics removed, as they have two legitimate uses even in my game. (1) When I honestly can't decide whether a player's action succeeds or fails, skill checks are better than just flipping a coin behind the DM's screen. (2) We don't spend the entire game "zoomed in" on room-level exploration--sometimes we "zoom out" to larger, more nebulous scenes that I can't be arsed to catalogue completely. In those cases I want lightweight improvisation mechanics, and skill checks serve.

EDIT: You would never do that in Mastermind, it should be taken back out of D&D.
I don't understand this comment, sorry. What is Mastermind?
 

Ranes

Community Supporter
I have only tried low-level 5e, but from what I have read, I think going from 3e to 5e will mostly seem like an upgrade. I played several campaigns that ended at 11th, 12th and 18th level and all of them struggled with combat speed/buff time. 5e looks to handle this quite a lot better.
Yup. Definitely an overhead in 3e that I'm pretty sure will be reduced in high-level 5e.

You also get flatter math when it comes to attack bonuses/defenses (bounded accuracy) which makes life a lot easier for the DM, mostly due to the much more linear scaling of monsters as opposed to the quadratic scaling from earlier editions.
True but it's just arithmetic. Never had much of an issue with it.

What 5e doesn't have that 3e has, is 150 splat books.
This is irrelevant to me. I bought a couple of dozen 3e books but I've only used fragments of four or five (I never even used the DMG's optional prestige character class idea). I do like having lots of material to hand should I decide to try new things now and then, though.

Personally, I like it. The last 3e campaign I ran only used the 3.5 PHB as a player resource and some house rules.
I like to keep it lean, too, and 5e is certainly uncluttered right now. I doubt that'll last though, despite WotC's newly avowed reticence to splat us, simply because it's never worked out that way with previous editions. And we know there's going to be third party stuff, so...

With that in mind, 5e actually comes out on top.

What I like best about 5e is probably how easy it to run as a DM. ;)
Great. I'm not trying to score edition points and I've no doubt 5e will be easier to DM, though I enjoy the effort 3e takes; it's part of why I play D&D in the first place. I'm just saying certain aspects of 3e are more to my taste and - here's a thing - I actually have all this 3e stuff already, along with a group of friends who enjoy it with me once a month. So I'm looking forward to buying, reading and running 5e games but I'm unlikely to abandon 3e because of it.

I like driving modern, well-equipped cars. I also enjoy belting along country roads in a classic sports car that has no ABS, power steering, lane-departure warning indicators or parking proximity sensors.
 
No more pages of charts to flip through to know exactly what every check should be. If failing the task doesn't change the plot in any way, I can tell the players they succeed even if they need to climb a cliff with heavy armor.
I think this is a good way of handling action resolution. But I don't think it is unique to 5e. I run 4e this way (and from memory the 4e DMG2, and maybe also the 4e DMG, call it out as a GMing technique). And I imagine other editions could be run this way also. In his DMG, Gygax suggests fudging secret door detection rolls to make sure the PCs find their way into an interesting part of the dungeon. That is an early version of the same technique, way back in 1st ed AD&D.

1E had flavor. It was parsimonious...but it was there. The 2E core books where relatively dry and style free. So where 3E and 4E, which also took a smaller, flatter, less inspiring approach in general. (here is your little vale and your few little gods).
I don't know the 2nd ed AD&D books well enough. I agree that 3E is rather dry. I don't agree that this is the case for the 4e PHB, which has a history of each of the races (which taken together give you a history of the mortal world) plus other bits and pieces scattered through the class descriptions (especially clerics and warlocks).

In fact, the presence of that default flavour in 4e is one of the more frequent criticisms that I see.

Of course you can house rule in 4E, it is just more difficult than in some other editions because of how tightly designed the game is.
I haven't really seen this, but then I'm not sure what you mean by "house rules". Is using Twist of Space (7th level wizard teleport attack) to free an NPC trapped inside a mirror (something that happened in my game) a house rule or not? The game's tight design supports rather than hinders that sort of play.

Making up new weapons, magic items, monsters, spells, etc is no harder than its ever been.

Plenty of people who post on these boards have house ruled skill challenges, recovery times, lingering injuries (based on the disease/curse track), etc.

To be honest, 5e strikes me as being quite similar to 4e in many respects: fairly tightly balanced class abilities (including the spell designs, with a few apparent exceptions), a very general non-combat resolution mechanic based around broadly-defined skill and stat checks (5e has a handful of slightly more pedantic skills), and integrated encounter design and rest/recovery mechanics.

What sorts of house rules do you have in mind that you think are easier in 5e than 4e?
 

howandwhy99

Villager
I am sensing a contradiction.

If the DMG has an abundance of precise rules for the DM...one way or another those will move from behind to in front of the screen.
Sure, the same way the algorithm underlying Chess has been revealed ...except we still don't know it. We understand it as variations within a repetition.

And of course early D&D was all about the DM improvising.
That's entirely false. In the 1980s the majority of players knew the DM was not supposed to make anything up behind the screen.
 
And of course early D&D was all about the DM improvising.
That's entirely false. In the 1980s the majority of players knew the DM was not supposed to make anything up behind the screen.
I don't think that [MENTION=22260]TerraDave[/MENTION] is counting the 1980s as "early D&D". I think the original campaigns are being referred to.

But in fact there was plenty of improvisation in 1980s D&D too. Moldvay, in his Basic rulebook, even gave advice on how to handle it. (So does Gygax, less prominently, in his DMG discussion of optional secondary skills: he suggests that the GM should consider one of the skills in which s/he has some degree of proficiency, work out what that lets him/her accomplish in that particular field of endeavour, and then extrapolate to the various other fields of activity that the secondary skill table encompasses.)

Upthread you compared D&D to computer games, but the permissible moves in D&D are not bound in the same way they are as for a computer game (especially computer games 25 or 30 years ago). The same is true when D&D is compared to Mastermind and Chess, other games that you have mentioned.

For instance, what are the rules to determine if a character can use an iron spike and a mallet to break a portcullis mechanism, thereby rapidly dropping the bars so as to hold off some approaching orcish soldiers? That is a permissible move that a player might declare, but the AD&D and B/X games provide no rules for adjudicating it. The closest we get is the STR chart for opening doors and (in AD&D) bending bars/lifting gates.

I am guessing (but am happy to be corrected) that this might be one example of the sort of improvisation that TerraDave had in mind.
 

Mouseferatu

Villager
That's entirely false. In the 1980s the majority of players knew the DM was not supposed to make anything up behind the screen.
Can I make a Save vs. Anecdote?

;)

Seriously, you've no idea what the "majority of players" knew. Your experience in the 80s certainly doesn't match my own, or that of many people I know.
 

fuindordm

Villager
I don't think anyone can make a credible claim that AD&D was "meant" to be played in a particular way. Each table has always had a unique approach.

Official Setting <--> Homebrew?
Miserly Rewards <--> Monty Hall?
Let the Dice Fall Where They May <--> DM Rolls Behind Screen?
Torches and Rations <--> Mundane affairs handwaved away?
Rules light <--> Rules heavy?
Player Ignorance <--> System Mastery

Each of these spectra is perfectly valid in the AD&D era, and saw lots of variation among tables as evidenced by, for example, the letters and columns and articles in Dragon Magazine where people shared their experiences are argued that one side or the other was better.

Furthermore, no rule can ever stay behind the screen for long. There may have been a year or two after the release of the DMG when most players were ignorant of a lot of the information therein, but all that diffused outward very quickly. There is no way for a DM to keep their Assassin players from knowing about Poison Training, or the Wizard from learning (after the first mishap) that a fireball fills its designated volume, or that spell research is possible, or that drinking two potions at once can have strange effects.

In short, the level of mystery in your game has always been a moving target, requiring effort on the DMs part to maintain. Players and PCs learn from their mistakes and absorb the rules very quickly, even those which are nominally behind the screen. Nothing about 5E prevents us from creating an in-game atmosphere where the PCs are ignorant of many "rules" and the players must use their wits to survive. And it's pointless to lament that the distribution of information among the three books serves a different style of play. Had they chosen differently, it would have bought us at most a few months of player mystery before all the information diffuses and the DMs have to pick up the slack.
 

Hussar

Legend
Sure, the same way the algorithm underlying Chess has been revealed ...except we still don't know it. We understand it as variations within a repetition.

That's entirely false. In the 1980s the majority of players knew the DM was not supposed to make anything up behind the screen.
I think your point would be much better served if you avoided broad generalizations like what you think the majority of players were doing.
 

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