My love to hate relationship with D&D

HorusArisen

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So as promised and as a one-time only discussion point. Why I cannot stand D&D*.

*Caveat: I won’t argue with you over your liking it, horses for courses and all that but will be happy to discuss cordially why I don’t J. As I’m writing this in work I may need to clarify my points based on responses. This is just why it isn’t for me any longer. If you have a counterpoint great but if it’s a house rule I’m either doing it or some variant. This is about the baseline.

Background: So I started playing with Mentzers boxed set, skipped 1e (mostly) extensively DM’d 2-3e, skipped 4th and have DM’d a little and played 5e since it came out. Overall I’ve DM’d for a tad over 3 decades. It is without any attempt at arrogance that I can safely say I am the groups favourite DM (despite refusing to do so for the last four(?) years).I have never ran the game in the wargame mode its designed for.

It’s probably easier to list what I don’t like…bear with me

Classes & Levels – Urgh these never feel like an organic improvement of character and the way the game scales using them makes it more and more onerous to build encounters as characters level. Even with cheat sheets and experience creating encounters gets more and more time consuming. The weird appearance of new abilities…equally frustrating, suddenly I can speak every language in the multiverse but was mute before??? And the rigidity of classes is tiresome.

Tied into killing that is the XP system - Yes I can ignore it but the vast majority of XP is expected to be gained from killing stuff. I’ve long ignored this but the games adventure day, encounter ratio and level mechanics are built around this. I think 5e improves on this a bit but I’ve only run a short game

The action economy – Class and racial abilities that operate on six second increments or 1/day…WTF happened with magical evolution. Self-counter: 5e does address this a bit with some abilities based around the rest mechanic. It’s not perfect but maybe by tenth edition. (see adventure comments).

Dungeon Crawls & Combat is god – So much of the game is built around crawling through endless dungeons slaying as much of the alphabet as possible Bugbears, Dryads and Tritons oh my. Good adventures and good DM’s will add to sessions but combat dominates with the amount of time it takes.

Combat – Very repetitive and a boring game of attrition that adds nothing to the drama. I like heroic games but the absolute lack of consequence in combat means even the best group eventually just falls back on hit, miss, blast, save, damage, dead….rest and it never happened.

Skill system - is way to swingy and rarely used for more than flavour in published adventures (see later comments). The one thing I liked in 4e (beyond setting and flavour) was skill challenges. But as a rule skills are underutilised in the published rules and adventures. Rolling doesn’t add much beyond the succeed/fail and doesn’t acknowledge skill level at all.

Magic/Spell system - I was a little unfair in saying there are no combat spells but most are damage based and again what’s with the combat round durations for utility spells? Yes exceptions exist but they are exceptions and whilst ritual magic helps with some can someone tell me why wizards spend years learning to spells? Why am I summoning a mount for an hour? Or an elemental? Great he can follow me around a dungeon but what about using them in a less adventure/combat fashion? And don’t start me on Vancian (but not really) casting. Overall they manage to make magic very unmagical and pointless outside encounters.

Sidebar: Published Adventures – So I never use published adventures as they encourage the worst elements of D&D. Combat, dungeon crawling, poorly written backgrounds and environments, using the alphabet from the monster manual and almost no way to interact with the fanatical bad guys. Now hopefully no one uses them as written (or at all) but these train newbies in the worst form of gaming.

That may be a bit wandering as I’m typing betwixt conference calls…

I do love most of the settings though, they just deserve a decent system.
 

Raleel

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Tied into killing that is the XP system - Yes I can ignore it but the vast majority of XP is expected to be gained from killing stuff. I’ve long ignored this but the games adventure day, encounter ratio and level mechanics are built around this. I think 5e improves on this a bit but I’ve only run a short game
I want to say 1e had xp for gold. It didn’t matter nearly as much if you killed the monster as much as getting his stuff. Outwitting the monster worked just fine.

Funny enough, I somewhat agree on most of your points, but also think that it’s less of a product of the system and more of a product of how the system has been run. There are good published adventures, there are ones that emphasize things other than combat, etc. not to say you are wrong, per se, but it is a bit more nuanced I suppose. Something like red hand of doom has almost no dungeon in it, and many times you are trying to avoid fights, because they slow you down and the odds are not good.

I agree with you largely on classes, levels, and the magic. 5e tried to bring some of the flexibility back over 4e, but to me it feels extremely constrained over every other edition. Very much like it’s built only for combat encounters. Summoning a mount for an hour is a great example. But then again, players be players.

Classes and levels are a short cut. You might have gotten past them. I feel like experienced folks can easily bypass this. Heck, my sister in law started playing a year ago and she’s already chafing under them. But some folks like them. It works fro them.

I feel like the skill system issue could be resolved without mechanical alteration. That seems like folks just not being creative enough with it.
 

HorusArisen

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@Raleel all it’s shortcomings can be resolved with a bit of work but if I’m going to do that I may as well just use one of the many better systems.

I shouldn’t say killing as your right. Defeat is more accurate.
 

Raleel

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So run some for these guys ;) you might have to hand hold them a bit. Run White Death, which has relatively little combat and no proper dungeon. They will put lots of points into combat skills, because that’s what they are used to, but make sure other challenges are presented.

This is where I love taking away armor and weapons and shields in cities. It makes the combat option a less desirable one. And those things are for war anyways. Are we at war? No. Then you must be planning to wage war if you are using them ;)

Edit: white death is a good choice, thinking about it. @Bilharzia did up character sheets for all the characters and has a nice little pack of supplements.
 

Ladybird

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I really like D&D5, just so we're clear on this before I begin.

So run some for these guys ;) you might have to hand hold them a bit. Run White Death, which has relatively little combat and no proper dungeon. They will put lots of points into combat skills, because that’s what they are used to, but make sure other challenges are presented.

This is where I love taking away armor and weapons and shields in cities. It makes the combat option a less desirable one. And those things are for war anyways. Are we at war? No. Then you must be planning to wage war if you are using them ;)

Edit: white death is a good choice, thinking about it. @Bilharzia did up character sheets for all the characters and has a nice little pack of supplements.
You aren't wrong, but it doesn't solve the fundamental problem with the game; most of the rulebook is about killing things and taking their stuff, and providing ways to do this. While a game isn't necessarily about what it has the most rules for, if the designers wrote a lot of rules for something, they probably intended it to be quite important in play, so if you're not interested in combat as a big part of your game then you should consider whether 5e is really the right system for you.

Personally, I'd think hard about using an older version, perhaps with some hacking to graft on 5e's binary skill mechanic.
 

HorusArisen

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So run some for these guys ;) you might have to hand hold them a bit. Run White Death, which has relatively little combat and no proper dungeon. They will put lots of points into combat skills, because that’s what they are used to, but make sure other challenges are presented.

This is where I love taking away armor and weapons and shields in cities. It makes the combat option a less desirable one. And those things are for war anyways. Are we at war? No. Then you must be planning to wage war if you are using them ;)

Edit: white death is a good choice, thinking about it. @Bilharzia did up character sheets for all the characters and has a nice little pack of supplements.
I’ve prepped for several campaigns using decent systems and been shot down or sabotaged on each one...although they’d love to play them using D&D :weep::weep:
 

HorusArisen

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I really like D&D5, just so we're clear on this before I begin.


You aren't wrong, but it doesn't solve the fundamental problem with the game; most of the rulebook is about killing things and taking their stuff, and providing ways to do this. While a game isn't necessarily about what it has the most rules for, if the designers wrote a lot of rules for something, they probably intended it to be quite important in play, so if you're not interested in combat as a big part of your game then you should consider whether 5e is really the right system for you.

Personally, I'd think hard about using an older version, perhaps with some hacking to graft on 5e's binary skill mechanic.
I don’t like any editions and if I have to hack the game might as well use one that does it anyway.
 

robertsconley

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This is about the baseline.
That is a bit of an issue is it not? What the baseline? With multiple editions and two major variants with the current 5th edition rules.

The overall problem is the worship of RAW not the design of the various systems. Friction develops if one adopts a rule system and pick a setting then tries to run a campaign with little consideration to the question of whether the rules reflect the setting. All the inconsistencies build up to a dissatisfaction with the set of rules that were chosen.

Which is why I advocate "Fuck the rules." Make your campaign first and then pick or design the rules to fit your setting. Not the other way around as the common case.

As for your specific points my view they fall in two catagories.

1) The choices of the designer are not your choices thus you are unhappy. In which case the solution is to design your own.

In general older editions D&D by their minimalist nature don't experience this. However the downside of minimalism that there is little explicit guidance to further customization. The player and referee has to hash it out on a case by case basis. Hence the trend to explicit customization in later editions.

2) Not everything in RAW is a hard and fast rule like a 16 strength gives you a +3 bonus. This in particular pertain to many things found in the DMG. Things like Encounter building are optional, suggestions for referees who want or need the help. This includes XP awards and anything else that requires a judgment call on the part of the referee.

My recommendation in this case, is to do things the way you think ought to be done. Use the recommendations to get a sense of what the designer thinks about relative power level or the expected the reward. But then use your judgment.

I understand that you been doing this for 30 years. It been my experience that the idea that we are playing a game, a game has rules, and one ought to follow the rule or they are ""cheating" is such a powerful meme that it distorts discussion of specific RPG rules system.

In my view the fundamental aspect of RPGs is that they are pen & paper virtual realities. Virtual reality concepts like the Matrix have wowed people for decades but little do they realize that we been doing the "Matrix" with pen, paper, and dice since the early 70s.

That this is enable by a process of players interacting with a setting as their characters with their action adjudicated by a human referee. The rules should not the point. They are a tool or aid to help the human referee and player in the process of adjudication. What truly matters and what governs things is how the setting works.

So if the rules and setting conflict during adjudication it is the rule that must bend in order to keep things consistent and make sense in terms of the setting.

That if the reverse is done then the result is generally unhappiness with the rules as it conflicts with ones idea of the setting.

Which seem to me to be case in regards to you and various editions of D&D. They never seem to quite mesh with how you envision your settings.
 
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robertsconley

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I’ve prepped for several campaigns using decent systems and been shot down or sabotaged on each one...although they’d love to play them using D&D :weep::weep:
While we talk about things being the referee's call, we can't forget that it takes place within a specific group of people with likes and dislikes.

This is where the example of Adventures of Middle Earth is instructive. AiME is D&D 5th edition but with a different set of stuff (classes, magic items, monsters, etc). The result is something that has a very different feel than core book D&D 5e.

The same with my own Majestic Fantasy rules. It is OD&D but with a different set of stuff to reflect how I conceived my Majestic Wilderlands setting. The result is a different feel than OD&D that better reflects my setting.

The lesson is that if you are stuck with X system because of the group's social dynamics. Then examine the stuff and see what can be tweaked or changed to better fit the setting you enjoy using for the campaign.

From experience it can be a bit of a juggling act. Often I have to weigh an addition or change in light of how "D&Dish" it is. The key to making it work is testing through actual play and not to be afraid to tweak things over time.

For example ultimately I decided to handle the adjudication of combat manuevuers through a general system of describing what you want happen, making a to hit roll but the target gets a saving throw. Only if the save is failed does the result happen like disarming an opponent.

I came up with after trying some other things and realizing two thing. That the optimal way to defeat an opponent is to make a to-hit roll and roll damage. It represent abstractly the nuts and bolts and baseline training of melee combat.

That special maneuvers as depicted in other RPG system like GURPS come at a cost because you are no longer focused on the nuts and bolts of combat but trying to force a specific result. Which is in line with my experience with melee combat in reenactments.

That in general when "bad" things happen to characters OD&D has them make a saving throw to avoid it or reduce its effect. Typically traps and spell but also applied to other things from time to time. It also scales according to level or hit dice.

So an attempt at disarm or any other combat stunt can be handled in a D&Dish way by having the target make a saving throw. It is not as optimal as just striking for hit point damage, but there may be times when you just have to knock the macguffin out the villain's hand. It scale logically in that an experienced 9th level character is more likely to know how to counter a disarm which is represented by the better save.

A similar chain of logic led to the design of my ability system. In OD&D outside of a few specific class abilities, characters can attempt just about anything. Most published examples are governed by an attribute relevant to what being attempted. For example Charisma for witticisms in Judges Guild's CSIO.

So the first rule of any ability/skill system for OD&D is that any character can attempt any ability/skill except that some will be better than other at certain abilities due to attributes or class.

Given the low bonuses of OD&D, I opt to go with a bonus system that changes for every three point instead of two for 3.X and higher editions.

I also keep the list of abilities to a minimum about two dozen or so. Most resolved with a 1d20 roll high with a base 15+ chance of success. Classes get bonus points for specific abilities with a view optional points.

This is was done because traditional due to the way I run the Majestic Wilderlands, things happen outside of combat that allowing characters to be better at certain things traditionally relegated to skills make sense. Especially when it comes to the rogue type characters like burglars or merchant adventurers.

If making that distinction not important to one's campaign then likely that referee will not find my ability rules useful or relevant. Which is OK. Nobody setting is 100% the same.

Another example.
For referee who have an issue with character recovering after an encounter in D&D 5e then I strongly recommend adopting AiME take with only short rests being allowed while adventuring. Long rests can only occur at home or in a clear sanctuary area.

Due to how most 5e class abilities works, this will allows for some recovery, but also there will be a slow erosion as various abilities and effects are used that can only be renewed with a long rest.

The change is D&D 5eish as the rest of the system is left untouched but it has big impact on the feel of the campaign when used.
 

robertsconley

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On the flip side

What I said really about changes to D&D 5e only matters in specific circumstances. Irregardless of how the rest rules are structured a smart party can take them into account in their plans. To the point where in the long run you wind up in the same point you began. The party always ready to with whatever challenge they currently facing.

That due to the nature how D&D 5e handling scaling of power level that increased ability to heal is counteracted by more powerful characters and monsters being able to deal more damage in less time, in a wider variety of ways.

Overall, I solve the problem by trying to bring the setting to life. So that the campaign is never just about what being fought. That it doesn't matter that the players can easily kill everything in sight, it doesn't solve the central issue they are grappling with.

My technique of bringing the setting to life also is effective in conveying in may cases that there are consequences to killing even when the players are the one's with overwhelming power.

Also D&D 5e use of bounded accuracy means that mobs are still a threat even to 15+ level characters. That given a large enough disparity in number the PCs will go down if they upset a large enough settlements irregardless if the highest level of the opposition is no where near the PCs.

Something was played out in actual play in my 5e campaigns.

However in the end it is about how one conceive the setting. If the rules doesn't fit then change them. But examine whether it due to how one is using the mechanic or it really doesn't fit f.
 

Rogerdee

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This is something I have always preferred about the D100 systems, Runequest, Legend and Mythras, in that you can create a character that was of no particular class (some parts of RQ did do this, but allowed any kind of player deviation), thus ensuring that it was not too tied down in any way.

Now I don't mind parts of DnD, the system not so much, but I do like the settings.
 

Nobby-W

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This is something I have always preferred about the D100 systems, Runequest, Legend and Mythras, in that you can create a character that was of no particular class [ . . . ]
RQ didn't have a class system as such, although cults fill a similar role with their preference for training certain skills or spells. Having said that, Runequest is my favourite fantasy system.
 

Voros

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One thing I’ve never gotten is this obsession with ‘encounter’ building, the system supposedly built for a certain number of encounters a day and CR. This seems a product of 3e and its supposedly ‘balanced’ math. I don’t recall it at all from B/X to 2e and never felt the need for one. The CR system in 5e from all indications doesn’t work, but I’ve never used it so...

I can’t even think of another RPG that claims to have a math based encounter system, they must exist but it isn’t true of PbtA, Pendragon, CoC, RQ, UA, WoD, Cypher (I think), etc.

Yet there are those online who claim that any RPG without such a system is ‘broken.’ Which seems to suggest that every game that isn’t 3e, 4e and PF is broken. They invent newbie DMs who are supposedly siccing dragons and packs of ghouls on low level parties, although I’ve never encountered these DMs, even as a kid!
 

Dumarest

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One thing I’ve never gotten is this obsession with ‘encounter’ building...
Nor I. :trigger:
I can’t even think of another RPG that claims to have a math based encounter system, they must exist but it isn’t true of PbtA, Pendragon, CoC, RQ, UA, WoD, Cypher (I think), etc.
I can't even fathom why I should do math. I'll just chuck some critters in here and there where it makes sense that they live or prowl and it's up to the players to pursue/avoid an encounter. Generally there will be clues, spoor, or telltales that they can pick up on before it's too late to avoid, say, bearding a dragon in its den while armed with only a rusty dagger. :dice:
They invent newbie DMs who are supposedly siccing dragons and packs of ghouls on low level parties, although I’ve never encountered these DMs, even as a kid!
If that happens, it's a good learning experience for the DM. If the DM doesn't learn from it, change DMs. :cry:

More frequently I hear tales of players disregarding warning signs (such as those I mentioned above) because they assume the DM must have done algebraic equations to make sure any monster the PCs meet is keyed to their abilities and powers. In which case, it's a good learning experience for the players. If the players don't learn from it, their PCs deserve to die. :devil:
 

HorusArisen

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That is a bit of an issue is it not? What the baseline? With multiple editions and two major variants with the current 5th edition rules.

The overall problem is the worship of RAW not the design of the various systems. Friction develops if one adopts a rule system and pick a setting then tries to run a campaign with little consideration to the question of whether the rules reflect the setting. All the inconsistencies build up to a dissatisfaction with the set of rules that were chosen.

Which is why I advocate "Fuck the rules." Make your campaign first and then pick or design the rules to fit your setting. Not the other way around as the common case.

As for your specific points my view they fall in two catagories.

1) The choices of the designer are not your choices thus you are unhappy. In which case the solution is to design your own.

In general older editions D&D by their minimalist nature don't experience this. However the downside of minimalism that there is little explicit guidance to further customization. The player and referee has to hash it out on a case by case basis. Hence the trend to explicit customization in later editions.

2) Not everything in RAW is a hard and fast rule like a 16 strength gives you a +3 bonus. This in particular pertain to many things found in the DMG. Things like Encounter building are optional, suggestions for referees who want or need the help. This includes XP awards and anything else that requires a judgment call on the part of the referee.

My recommendation in this case, is to do things the way you think ought to be done. Use the recommendations to get a sense of what the designer thinks about relative power level or the expected the reward. But then use your judgment.

I understand that you been doing this for 30 years. It been my experience that the idea that we are playing a game, a game has rules, and one ought to follow the rule or they are ""cheating" is such a powerful meme that it distorts discussion of specific RPG rules system.

In my view the fundamental aspect of RPGs is that they are pen & paper virtual realities. Virtual reality concepts like the Matrix have wowed people for decades but little do they realize that we been doing the "Matrix" with pen, paper, and dice since the early 70s.

That this is enable by a process of players interacting with a setting as their characters with their action adjudicated by a human referee. The rules should not the point. They are a tool or aid to help the human referee and player in the process of adjudication. What truly matters and what governs things is how the setting works.

So if the rules and setting conflict during adjudication it is the rule that must bend in order to keep things consistent and make sense in terms of the setting.

That if the reverse is done then the result is generally unhappiness with the rules as it conflicts with ones idea of the setting.

Which seem to me to be case in regards to you and various editions of D&D. They never seem to quite mesh with how you envision your settings.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve never run any edition as written, you run up against the games severe flaws quite quickly that way. Having found many games where that’s not required I just cannot bring myself to waste time continuing to do so with D&D or its variants.

Doing things my way means using a different system, one that (and again everything in the thread is IMO) is patently better.

I’ll continue to play 5e because as a player I don’t have to overcome the system for anyone but me.
 

HorusArisen

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While we talk about things being the referee's call, we can't forget that it takes place within a specific group of people with likes and dislikes.

This is where the example of Adventures of Middle Earth is instructive. AiME is D&D 5th edition but with a different set of stuff (classes, magic items, monsters, etc). The result is something that has a very different feel than core book D&D 5e.

The same with my own Majestic Fantasy rules. It is OD&D but with a different set of stuff to reflect how I conceived my Majestic Wilderlands setting. The result is a different feel than OD&D that better reflects my setting.

The lesson is that if you are stuck with X system because of the group's social dynamics. Then examine the stuff and see what can be tweaked or changed to better fit the setting you enjoy using for the campaign.

From experience it can be a bit of a juggling act. Often I have to weigh an addition or change in light of how "D&Dish" it is. The key to making it work is testing through actual play and not to be afraid to tweak things over time.

For example ultimately I decided to handle the adjudication of combat manuevuers through a general system of describing what you want happen, making a to hit roll but the target gets a saving throw. Only if the save is failed does the result happen like disarming an opponent.

I came up with after trying some other things and realizing two thing. That the optimal way to defeat an opponent is to make a to-hit roll and roll damage. It represent abstractly the nuts and bolts and baseline training of melee combat.

That special maneuvers as depicted in other RPG system like GURPS come at a cost because you are no longer focused on the nuts and bolts of combat but trying to force a specific result. Which is in line with my experience with melee combat in reenactments.

That in general when "bad" things happen to characters OD&D has them make a saving throw to avoid it or reduce its effect. Typically traps and spell but also applied to other things from time to time. It also scales according to level or hit dice.

So an attempt at disarm or any other combat stunt can be handled in a D&Dish way by having the target make a saving throw. It is not as optimal as just striking for hit point damage, but there may be times when you just have to knock the macguffin out the villain's hand. It scale logically in that an experienced 9th level character is more likely to know how to counter a disarm which is represented by the better save.

A similar chain of logic led to the design of my ability system. In OD&D outside of a few specific class abilities, characters can attempt just about anything. Most published examples are governed by an attribute relevant to what being attempted. For example Charisma for witticisms in Judges Guild's CSIO.

So the first rule of any ability/skill system for OD&D is that any character can attempt any ability/skill except that some will be better than other at certain abilities due to attributes or class.

Given the low bonuses of OD&D, I opt to go with a bonus system that changes for every three point instead of two for 3.X and higher editions.

I also keep the list of abilities to a minimum about two dozen or so. Most resolved with a 1d20 roll high with a base 15+ chance of success. Classes get bonus points for specific abilities with a view optional points.

This is was done because traditional due to the way I run the Majestic Wilderlands, things happen outside of combat that allowing characters to be better at certain things traditionally relegated to skills make sense. Especially when it comes to the rogue type characters like burglars or merchant adventurers.

If making that distinction not important to one's campaign then likely that referee will not find my ability rules useful or relevant. Which is OK. Nobody setting is 100% the same.

Another example.
For referee who have an issue with character recovering after an encounter in D&D 5e then I strongly recommend adopting AiME take with only short rests being allowed while adventuring. Long rests can only occur at home or in a clear sanctuary area.

Due to how most 5e class abilities works, this will allows for some recovery, but also there will be a slow erosion as various abilities and effects are used that can only be renewed with a long rest.

The change is D&D 5eish as the rest of the system is left untouched but it has big impact on the feel of the campaign when used.
Oddly I recommended AiME to the friend running the game as a we’ll recommended way to do several of the things he’s talked about...he’s gone another direction.
 

HorusArisen

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On the flip side

What I said really about changes to D&D 5e only matters in specific circumstances. Irregardless of how the rest rules are structured a smart party can take them into account in their plans. To the point where in the long run you wind up in the same point you began. The party always ready to with whatever challenge they currently facing.

That due to the nature how D&D 5e handling scaling of power level that increased ability to heal is counteracted by more powerful characters and monsters being able to deal more damage in less time, in a wider variety of ways.

Overall, I solve the problem by trying to bring the setting to life. So that the campaign is never just about what being fought. That it doesn't matter that the players can easily kill everything in sight, it doesn't solve the central issue they are grappling with.

My technique of bringing the setting to life also is effective in conveying in may cases that there are consequences to killing even when the players are the one's with overwhelming power.

Also D&D 5e use of bounded accuracy means that mobs are still a threat even to 15+ level characters. That given a large enough disparity in number the PCs will go down if they upset a large enough settlements irregardless if the highest level of the opposition is no where near the PCs.

Something was played out in actual play in my 5e campaigns.

However in the end it is about how one conceive the setting. If the rules doesn't fit then change them. But examine whether it due to how one is using the mechanic or it really doesn't fit f.
5e feels like several improvements over 3e but still not for me.
 

HorusArisen

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One thing I’ve never gotten is this obsession with ‘encounter’ building, the system supposedly built for a certain number of encounters a day and CR. This seems a product of 3e and its supposedly ‘balanced’ math. I don’t recall it at all from B/X to 2e and never felt the need for one. The CR system in 5e from all indications doesn’t work, but I’ve never used it so...

I can’t even think of another RPG that claims to have a math based encounter system, they must exist but it isn’t true of PbtA, Pendragon, CoC, RQ, UA, WoD, Cypher (I think), etc.

Yet there are those online who claim that any RPG without such a system is ‘broken.’ Which seems to suggest that every game that isn’t 3e, 4e and PF is broken. They invent newbie DMs who are supposedly siccing dragons and packs of ghouls on low level parties, although I’ve never encountered these DMs, even as a kid!
I think it is a holdover from 3e and I don’t always use it in that way. As a 2e DM I’m way more eyeball than calculator.
 

Rogerdee

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RQ didn't have a class system as such, although cults fill a similar role with their preference for training certain skills or spells. Having said that, Runequest is my favourite fantasy system.
It did in a roundabout sort of way.
In some of the books in the form of occupations that had certain skills.
 

Stevethulhu

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Don’t get me wrong I’ve never run any edition as written, you run up against the games severe flaws quite quickly that way. Having found many games where that’s not required I just cannot bring myself to waste time continuing to do so with D&D or its variants.
How do you know if a game is flawed or not until you run it RAW? Sometimes something can look really weird and be quite hard to parse, but actually work really well in play.

AS for D&D, the older I get, the more I think earlier editions had it right and the 21st century editions have forgotten the faces of their fathers. Why should an 'adventuring day' have X number of encounters, with Y amount of treasure being dropped in each? Why should the world level up as the PCs do?

That said, I'd like to run a 3.5 campaign where characters level up each session. plot it quite tightly and run it over 20 sessions, with no XP handed out at all.
 

Ladybird

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One thing I’ve never gotten is this obsession with ‘encounter’ building, the system supposedly built for a certain number of encounters a day and CR. This seems a product of 3e and its supposedly ‘balanced’ math. I don’t recall it at all from B/X to 2e and never felt the need for one. The CR system in 5e from all indications doesn’t work, but I’ve never used it so...
It's more of a set of guidelines to help GM's. I mean, this is great...

As a 2e DM I’m way more eyeball than calculator.
...but it takes time to build up that experience, so the CR system is an attempt to help newer or less experienced GM's with advice specific to 5e.

It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing, and if you are experienced enough of a GM to not need it then... congratulations, I guess. In the 5e DMG and MM, there is a lot of good advice for inexperienced GM's, and it's presented up-front where they will see it rather than on a web site or an obscure book where they won't even know it exists.
 

HorusArisen

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How do you know if a game is flawed or not until you run it RAW? Sometimes something can look really weird and be quite hard to parse, but actually work really well in play.

AS for D&D, the older I get, the more I think earlier editions had it right and the 21st century editions have forgotten the faces of their fathers. Why should an 'adventuring day' have X number of encounters, with Y amount of treasure being dropped in each? Why should the world level up as the PCs do?

That said, I'd like to run a 3.5 campaign where characters level up each session. plot it quite tightly and run it over 20 sessions, with no XP handed out at all.
Lol I didn’t start off houseruling, I played as is till I hit the breaks and limits in the system.

The only version I have time for is the Cyclopedia and that I have to be in the rare mood for.
 

HorusArisen

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It's more of a set of guidelines to help GM's. I mean, this is great...


...but it takes time to build up that experience, so the CR system is an attempt to help newer or less experienced GM's with advice specific to 5e.

It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing, and if you are experienced enough of a GM to not need it then... congratulations, I guess. In the 5e DMG and MM, there is a lot of good advice for inexperienced GM's, and it's presented up-front where they will see it rather than on a web site or an obscure book where they won't even know it exists.
I’d like to say I think D&D makes a great intro game but I actually think it ruins good gamers.
 

SavAce

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I can’t even think of another RPG that claims to have a math based encounter system, they must exist but it isn’t true of PbtA, Pendragon, CoC, RQ, UA, WoD, Cypher (I think), etc.
Total sidebar, but the RPG I can think of that does that? Rune. Atlas Games published it, a Robin Laws game kinda based on the Rune video game from back around 2000. You basically play as Viking raiders in a system that is not unlike the Ars Magica system. The game master designs the raid based on opposition, etc., building it with set costs for including certain things. The Viking raiders get points based on defeating those things. The scoring system rates winners and losers (including the GM) based on how well everyone performed and how many points worth of opposition the GM stuffed into the encounter. If I remember right, some of the GM's scoring was based on how well calibrated the encounter was to the PCs. Enemies attacked PCs based on a decision tree, so the GM wasn't just deciding that himself.

It was a weird game, didn't like it too much the time I played it,. But hey! At least someone tried a thing and we can see how it worked.
 

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As somebody who only recently got into D&D (though having played RPGs for a while) the only major thing that stood out are Clerics.

I think the Cleric needs a little more "something" to make them stand out. Clerics aren't very common in Fantasy literature, especially so in the Appendix N literature outside of Evil High Priests. In the current game they're basically just another type of Wizard. Perhaps the relationship with the god should be more important or the importance of sacrifice should be upped. Something to make them feel more like an actual priest. DCC does this a bit.

On a more minor level I think wizards should have some variant that makes them a little less Gandalf and more Vance, again I feel spellburn, etc from DCC achieve this, also Gavin Norman's Vivimancy supplement for B/X. Stuff like growing a Death God in Tomb of Annihilation is similar. Basically the Science-Magic stuff. Not that it has to be their default, but it really jumped out at me and my players and the OSR use it well. It's something at the base of D&D that it rarely uses I feel.
 

TheophilusCarter

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More frequently I hear tales of players disregarding warning signs (such as those I mentioned above) because they assume the DM must have done algebraic equations to make sure any monster the PCs meet is keyed to their abilities and powers. In which case, it's a good learning experience for the players. If the players don't learn from it, their PCs deserve to die. :devil:
Noted! :hurry:
 

Voros

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It's more of a set of guidelines to help GM's. I mean, this is great...


...but it takes time to build up that experience, so the CR system is an attempt to help newer or less experienced GM's with advice specific to 5e.

It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing, and if you are experienced enough of a GM to not need it then... congratulations, I guess. In the 5e DMG and MM, there is a lot of good advice for inexperienced GM's, and it's presented up-front where they will see it rather than on a web site or an obscure book where they won't even know it exists.
Not sure that it was because I was an experienced DM. As a young teen DM I learned how to build an adventure from the Red Box and I didn't encounter this as an issue. But I did raid modules as the basis for our games and probably learned from that. I always took HD as a guide too. To me examples are a stronger way for a GM to learn than some flawed math model. That’s just another reason I’m a big believer in starter modules for all systems. 5e even has an excellent starter modules in Lost Mines of Phandelver.

I get the intention of CR and agree there’s lots of good GM advice in the 5e DMG but from the complaints I’ve read online the original CR system for 5e wasn’t really accurate except as a rough measure. I think a rough measure and common sense are enough, expecting some kind of fool proof system in an RPG is hopeless. They simply are not video games.

I believe Mearls tried to fix the CR system in Volo’s or another book but again from what I read it wasn’t fully successful because 5e has too much of the DNA or 2e and earlier in it. i.e. is not mathematically ‘balanced.’

So I think my issue is less the notion of a CR system and more the idea that it should be more than a rough measure. Tied to that is the idea that the game is supposedly built around so many encounters in a day, etc. I don’t think such a structure is needed at all and from what I recall from other discussions here the notion is actually a misreading of a section in 3e. Notably whenever discussed it is assumed each encounter will be resolved in combat.
 
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Voros

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Total sidebar, but the RPG I can think of that does that? Rune. Atlas Games published it, a Robin Laws game kinda based on the Rune video game from back around 2000. You basically play as Viking raiders in a system that is not unlike the Ars Magica system. The game master designs the raid based on opposition, etc., building it with set costs for including certain things. The Viking raiders get points based on defeating those things. The scoring system rates winners and losers (including the GM) based on how well everyone performed and how many points worth of opposition the GM stuffed into the encounter. If I remember right, some of the GM's scoring was based on how well calibrated the encounter was to the PCs. Enemies attacked PCs based on a decision tree, so the GM wasn't just deciding that himself.

It was a weird game, didn't like it too much the time I played it,. But hey! At least someone tried a thing and we can see how it worked.
A lot of that was addressed in 2e by expanded deity and kit options for Clerics in Legends and Lore, Tome of Magic and The Complete Priest.

I think 5e’s flavour would benefit from a Legends and Lore book that expanded on Pantheons from classic sources, as well as FR, Greyhawk, etc with details on their respective clerics.
 

Ladybird

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So I think my issue is less the notion of a CR system and more the idea that it should be more than a rough measure.
Yeah, that's a good way of putting it; a starting point, rather than an absolute guide.

Notably whenever discussed it is assumed each encounter will be resolved in combat.
When I ran In search of the unknown, which I randomly populated using the system in it and the reaction table, the first "encounter" was with four skeletons; because I find skeleton guardians fascinating, I decided that they were a party of adventurers who had messed up and died somewhere, and had spent the last few hundred years soundlessly arguing with each other about whose fault it was.

When my players saw them, they could tell they were outmatched, but it took them the best part of ten minutes to realise that as long as they left the skeletons to their argument, they were perfectly safe - all they had to do was just walk around them. They were pretty surprised to get XP for that.
 

xanther

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My experience comes more fro 0e and1e games, a couple decades a bit of 2e, exposure to 3e, completely missed 4e and being cajoled currently to play 5e.

My fundamental problem is D&D never worked to support the fantasy and sword & sorcery settings I love...and I mean many and many D&D says they support. In any edition for me.

It really boils down to the class system D&D uses, how they handle skills, reliance on a d20, and how armor and shields work. I always considered class proliferation and feat-like stuff to be the complex kluge fix.

I’ll still play D&D and seen many a 0e and1e game that “fixed” things with great house rules.

I know I’ll never get into a 3e or later campaign as I have no patience for RPGs where mastery of the idiosyncrasies of the rules (which is necessary as the mechanics are anti-supportive of how basic aspects of the world works) is needed to be a highly effective player.

I’d rather my ideas and strategy be the measure of my success (and the mechanics naturally support that) than mastering combination of species x with class y combined with feat selection z as the primary determinative of my mechanical power in the game, let alone what I can even try in the game.
 

Voros

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I know I’ll never get into a 3e or later campaign as I have no patience for RPGs where mastery of the idiosyncrasies of the rules (which is necessary as the mechanics are anti-supportive of how basic aspects of the world works) is needed to be a highly effective player.

I’d rather my ideas and strategy be the measure of my success (and the mechanics naturally support that) than mastering combination of species x with class y combined with feat selection z as the primary determinative of my mechanical power in the game, let alone what I can even try in the game.
I wouldn’t say that this kind of rules or system mastery has much to do with 5e. Pretty much all the classes and subclasses are good to play and don’t require any complex planning. Feats and multi-classing are completely optional too.
 

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As a software engineer, I recognize one thing about D&D that gives it a lot of value in the context of the RPG market: the D&D rules are essentially a broadly-implemented standard. The wealth of material out there for pre-3e gives you so much content that you can easily adapt to one of those editions or its more recent variants.

It's not the best system or close to my favorite, but D&D can actually be made to work in a wide variety of settings with a little tweaking. The diversity of settings out there makes it even easier to mash-up between separate genres. If players are feeling constrained by the system, I'll take a page from DCC and find some in-game way to give them the kinds of abilities they are looking for.
 

boulet

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Isn't the main reason for the CR system to persist in the last three editions because it's central to how WotC do organized play? I'm not knowledgeable in D&D, so I could be completely off base.
 
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