5e - why you think it sucks, and why you're wrong

Hemlock

Should be playing D&D instead
I have a hard time putting my finger on it, but it feels like it is without weight. Replenishing resources is trivial, traversal is de-emphasized (and many characters have access to teleportation and similar abilities from level 1), equipment is a matter of optimization to the character's skillset rather than a tradeoff between weight and utility. Combat is at least at low levels as dangerous as any OSR game blow for blow but getting back up if knocked out is also trivial. The abundance and general weakness of spells (many are just missile attacks for mages) makes magic seem more like pyrotechnics than deadly sorcery.
Having played a lot of 5E, I would say that your impression and squeen's impression that 5E play is inconsequential (in the sense that it avoids having serious consequences) is spot-on. It's not that a DM *can't* present players with something like a machine that, if you place two limbs in its two holes, permanently switches them; and if you place only one limb in it, severs it. You can do that--but it feels un-idiomatic for 5E, because generally in 5E everything resets with a good night's sleep. (There are exceptions but they are haphazard.)

It can be *modified* to challenge or frustrate--imagine someone running a 5E variant where scaling a 30' wall takes climbing hooks, special shoes, and 10 minutes, instead of 6 seconds and a d20 roll. But why reinvent the wheel instead of playing a game with challenge and frustration built in?
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
An interesting take on the ongoing "Should Orcs be Evil" culture war:


I think the answer is to just add the word 'usually' to the alignment and then let people decide at their own gaming table where the truth really lies. You want to play in an animal-cruelty-free world where there is no prejudice or discrimination and everybody stears clear of eachother's triggers, that's cool, sounds like you've got an amazing and supportive gaming group. You do you!

I'm pretty sure codifying it in the rules, however, breaks the game. Not just the spirit, but the mechanics. Maybe I'm wrong and I'm just being old. It just seems like Diet D&D would be a totally different game. Maybe WotC want to help their buddy's out at Paizo for another 5-10 years while they cruise on their vast riches?
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
Orcs are evil & you can't be one. Just saying...

Also, Tolkien did resolve the conundrum --- orcs are elves corrupted by Morgoth.

Lastly, the more I learn about Moorecock, the more I dislike him.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
I don't really have a problem with the concept of an evil race. Like, if every gnoll is infused with the essence of a demon and is therefore incapable of good, sure, whatever. I don't find it interesting, but I don't have an issue with it per se.

I think the issue is that they often end up with the negative stereotypes associated with a human ethnic group, and are coded as a proxy for that group. I think this perpetuates those stereotypes, sometimes consciously, sometime unconsciously. If we lived in a world where those stereotypes were no longer associated with an identifiable group, then such portrayals would become neutral. But we don't live in that world.

Goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs have always had that problem in D&D. Gnolls, kobolds and ogres, not as much. This is why I don't think the portrayals of drow are racist; they may be the colour black, but they have no stereotypical behaviours associated with being Black. (OTOH, one could argue the portrayal of drow society is misogynistic, both because of the sexualization of female drow, and because of making the only matriarchy in the game evil and oppressive of men.)

@squeen, you are wrong, Tolkien was never satisfied with his answer.

Apropos of nothing, Prince hasn't been here in 16 months.
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
Goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs have always had that problem in D&D.
I don't know what you do in your campaign, but the majority of humanoids in my campaign have a cockney accent. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. So, classism rather than racism?
I think the problematic tropes are the savages of the jungle. This is apologism, but large chunks of the world were once vast tracts of cannibal-filled forest. It makes for exciting adventure. Even this trope isn't evil though. More neutral-hungry.
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
@squeen, you are wrong, Tolkien was never satisfied with his answer.

Apropos of nothing, Prince hasn't been here in 16 months.
Read that careful. Almost all the moral quandary referenced (and I have not read all the papers yet) is coming from other scholars wringing their hands about Tolkien's work and there is no direct quote of Tolkien worrying this. It's all implied by his Catholic values and editing/altering of his Legendarium over time (which he did on almost every topic). I can't be 100% sure---and there may be a real 1st-person quote or letter buried in all that pseudo-scholar crap---but it seems like bogus revisionism to me.

Boy-o-boy, folks and their obsessions. Academics just love that Marxist oppressor/oppressed crap (sorry Bryce!).

I know Prince said he was locked out for some reason & needed to address that.
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
He set out to turn classic fantasy troupes on their head. It deconstructionism that folks like Alan Moore (who I have liked) did in the 80's to comic books---but it leads to a death-spiral. You can only deconstruct what's already been built. It's nihilistic.

I was reacting to this:
"...A legendary hero is summoned to aid humanity against an irredeemably evil race of beings only to discover that he has been misled and that humanity is actually waging a war of genocide against innocent people."
I've picked a side in the culture war. I reject of this sort of hippy 1960's anti-Western attitude (that I once wholly embraced---as instructed in college & by progressive 1970's Hollywood). I think it pretty much always takes humanity to a darker, sadder result. I prefer a more optimistic future, not a slow spiral into collective misery. I don't need this kind of negativity in my head anymore. e.g. Elric as an evil drug-addicted Prince where everything ends badly always felt like a bitter old Moorecock just pissing on a world he hates (and then wanting to be praised for it).

I just need something more uplifting, life-affirming, and less "mature" in my fantasy life. There's enough darkness out there already.
 
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Howard Andrew Jones

A FreshHell to Contend With
I just need something more uplifting, life-affirming, and less "mature" in my fantasy life. There's enough darkness out there already.
One of the reasons I haven't been posting the last few years here is that I've been working on my new sword-and-sorcery series for Baen. The first two books are out and I just turned over the third and I'm back here because I need more balance in my life. Anyway, I am just as tired of grimdark and nihilism as I am of glacially paced epic fantasy. Though that went against industry trends, Baen took the first book and my proposal for more and suddenly I was very busy.

Rather than telling you how cool me and my friend think the series is I'll just end this brief thread hijack with some reviews you can click on or not if interested:



Or if you're more of a booktuber person:

 
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squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
Sounding pretty good, I will check this out. Props to you for getting these written and published! I can't say I've felt as productive these past few years.

Much obliged.
 
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Hemlock

Should be playing D&D instead
An interesting take on the ongoing "Should Orcs be Evil" culture war:


I think the answer is to just add the word 'usually' to the alignment and then let people decide at their own gaming table where the truth really lies.
To me the most interesting and provocative part of that article was this:

...The concept of an “evil race” becomes a cop-out. With later campaign settings like Spelljammer, Planescape and Eberron moving away from the concept.

I don't know Planescape well but what I love about Spelljammer is the opposite of this: Large Luigi aside, Spelljammer makes zero attempt to paint mind flayers, beholders, and neogi as anything but evil... but the setting is cosmopolitan enough to expect you to get along with them anyway. At least while you're in port.

A large part of Spelljammer's flavor comes from having LOTS of alien bad guys all in conflict with each other, and players getting to choose which factions they'll ally with to achieve what goals. (In Spelljammer even the Imperial Elvish Navy is usable as a bad guy faction!)
 
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Hemlock

Should be playing D&D instead
I don't know what you do in your campaign, but the majority of humanoids in my campaign have a cockney accent. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. So, classism rather than racism?
And they have terrific, diegetic men's choirs. Like, Gandalf can actually hear them singing!
 

Hemlock

Should be playing D&D instead
Speaking for myself, every time I've tried to read Moorecock I bounce off his writing and tropes. He's very interested in themes that apparently bore me.

Quoting Brust here:

All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what's cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don't like 'em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in 'em, 'cause that's cool. Guys who like military hardware, who think advanced military hardware is cool, are not gonna jump all over my books, because they have other ideas about what's cool.

I've just never found any of what I find cool in any of my attempts at reading Moorecock. No Brustian humor, no Eddingish pseudorealism and warm personal relationships, no Butcherist dialogue or Saberhagen worldbuilding, no characters that I care about. Moorecock and I must just have different ideas about what's cool.
 
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Malrex

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Correct me if I'm wrong, and I can be very well wrong as I don't dig and study as much as all of you into this stuff. But there has always been a debate between a Railroad and Sandbox type style play....right?

Me personally, I'm in favor of Sandbox play. Others can play however they want, as it doesn't affect me.
To me, Sandbox play is the epitome of letting the players have choices. When a DM supplies situations, hooks, what have you, the players ultimately create the story (that most interest them) by their choices. The adventure's plot (or DM's plot) is in the background...maybe followed, maybe not.

So...I will now start the debate that painting ALL humanoids as evil....to me, that heavily borders on Railroad play. It reduces choices. It reduces roleplay (i.e. I just slaughter them all because they are evil). It makes faction play in Caves of Chaos obsolete depending on character class/alignment....why bother working with them, they are evil and we are good, lets slaughter them, etc.

I understand the distaste to have a special snowflake character who might be a orc or whatever...my response to that during play is to not go easy on that type of character and the trust takes forever to build and sometimes it doesn't, leading to PVP. But part of D&D to me is exploring and the 'awe'....and part of that 'awe' for me is trying to figure out how my character is going to deal with strange situations (i.e. a orc character that wants to join the party)---most of the time it's from the DM, but other times, its from the other players who are actively building the story and world with their choices and actions. The debate between players having a orc character join our ranks and the roleplay from the situation adds to the game for me--or adds to the 'awe'. Can you fully trust this orc?---it adds to the tension, especially when players get into their quirks of their characters.

I was reacting to this:
"...A legendary hero is summoned to aid humanity against an irredeemably evil race of beings only to discover that he has been misled and that humanity is actually waging a war of genocide against innocent people."

I've picked a side in the culture war. I reject of this sort of hippy 1960's anti-Western attitude (that I once wholly embraced---as instructed in college & by progressive 1970's Hollywood). I think it pretty much always takes humanity to a darker, sadder result. I prefer a more optimistic future, not a slow spiral into collective misery. I don't need this kind of negativity in my head anymore. e.g. Elric as an evil drug-addicted Prince where everything ends badly always felt like a bitter old Moorecock just pissing on a world he hates (and then wanting to be praised for it).

I just need something more uplifting, life-affirming, and less "mature" in my fantasy life. There's enough darkness out there already.
Playing a legendary hero can be fun...and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that type of game play where your group is a bunch of heroes. A good DM can add enough challenges and situations to support that type of play.

But having a hero 'misled'....I just don't really view that as a culture war (and there is alot that I view as culture wars lately, which is dumb and I get mad at myself, because this is a game). I could view that situation as interesting...and helping with the "awe" factor. If every situation leads to that--sure, that can get old and boring as well and some eye rolling can occur on 'trying too hard' with the grimdark. Uplifting moments can be key too, and there should be a balance.

But the bottom line for me, is when the DM does a superb job of creating the scene/situation and sometimes able to just sit back for 30 minutes to an hour and watch the players build the story and roleplay amongst themselves off the tidbits you fed them...And sometimes that happens, by adding a helpful orc or something a bit out of the ordinary for the party to deal with. To me personally, it just makes the world feel bigger and choices having a bigger impact.
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
And sometimes that happens, by adding a helpful orc or something
And that's what I'm saying. All of this can be solved with the simple addition of the word "Usually".
Usually Chaotic Evil.
Usually Lawful Evil.
societies that revel in slavery, cannibalism, and cruelty. Does that mean every Orc or Drow is evil. No. And that's interesting, because now you've got a "defective", principled person struggling against his/her/its own fucked up society, as well as the prejudices of "civilized" society.

Should the party murder every orc in the tribe that's been raiding nearby border settlements? That's been a debate at gaming tables since the dawn of the game that gaming companies shouldn't have to intrude on.
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
always felt like a bitter old Moorecock just pissing on a world
Aw, I always got a far-out, psychadelic vibe off of Elric. Even when I was a kid, the brooding was so naive and adorable; like a mopey Beetles song. And the crazy summoning magic! Which I've tried and failed repeatedly to reproduce ingame. I can only picture Elric in Jeff Dee bell bottoms with an early 70's Black Sabbath or Judas Priest soundtrack. SO far from grimdark.

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I've picked a side in the culture war.
You really, really shouldn't brother. Choose moderation and as much dungeons and dragons as you can fit in before this stupid, polarized world burns.
 

Howard Andrew Jones

A FreshHell to Contend With
Aw, I always got a far-out, psychadelic vibe off of Elric. Even when I was a kid, the brooding was so naive and adorable; like a mopey Beetles song. And the crazy summoning magic! Which I've tried and failed repeatedly to reproduce ingame. I can only picture Elric in Jeff Dee bell bottoms with an early 70's Black Sabbath or Judas Priest soundtrack. SO far from grimdark.
I actually kind of dig early Elric stuff for the same reason, but my favorite Moorcock was probably the Corum books, because those helped open the door into sword-and-sorcery for me, courtesy of riding my bike to the used bookstore with my penciled notes on titles from Appendix N.

Definitely not Grimdark. Elric has a sense of wonder. A lot of grimdark lacks it.

If you mean Magical Mystery Tour era Beatles, I think I get what you're saying.
 
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