Why 5e Is Good


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In another thread, Sidney asks:

Without taking sides, what's sorely missing (at least, for me) in the entire discussion of 5E is people willing to argument why it's good.

Remember the infamous 4vengers? Some of those people had good arguments. I was persuaded by some of those arguments, because some of those arguments were right.
As someone who's always open to playing more D&D and is incredibly tiepid about 5E, I'd really want to hear some people tell me "No dude, 5E is awesome bacause it does X and Y and Z, and if you go and do K and J you'll see how nice it is". Instead we get a lot of "But Mearls says it's selling well, so we're right", which isn't the same thing.

I'd like to hear people passionate about 5E, because passionate people are those that change your mind.
So I really, really like 5e. I've been running and playing it for over a year. If I could summarize it in a sentence, it's the Goldilocks edition. It's got an awful lot of stuff I like about previous editions in a mix that is just about as close to "just right" as I've yet seen. This does mean that there's not one single thing I can point to it as being really unique and awesome. But this is the first time I've played D&D for any length of time and not desperately wanted to rewrite half the rules. By the time I was done with 4e, I had formulas for redoing basically all the math on the fly to both speed up the game and make MM1&2 usable.

On the DM side, I've found the system is pretty resilient. The published adventures are quite good, much better than they were for 4e. So for your traditional plot-based on-rails campaign, it's good for that. But now I'm running multiple groups in a randomly generated world where hey, you might just wander into a level 5 dungeon when you're level 2. And it is much, much better at this than the last two editions. The DMG doesn't have quite enough information in it, but the basic math is sound, so it's a matter of adding what I need rather than trying to rewrite monster stats.

That's a huge one. I'm using the monsters RAW. I don't think I ever did that in 4e. The most I ever do is change up what gear a wight or orc has, which doesn't require fiddling with four different defenses and a mess of bonuses. The way the 5e math works, I just don't have to work that hard. I can pull a monster out of the manual and just use it. The CR gives me a way to eyeball if I should throw just one or maybe a lot at the party.

I've also found the combat works pretty well without a grid. I'm now running my games gridless with minis just to get a sense of positioning. We use a ruler if a distance is in question, but it almost never is. I don't have to spend a lot of time drawing out the map or setting up tiles. It just works.

Advantage/Disadvantage: Love it. People who talk about the math are missing the point. The point is you grant advantage or disadvantage, and now we're done haggling over bonuses. It results in a much more consistent game. "Hey you gave me +3 last time I challenged a mindflayer to a game of tiddlywinks to bargain for his baseball cards. Now you gave me +1. I think I should also get another +1 because I gave the mindflayer a banana first!"

So the running theme should be obvious. I find 5e far, far easier to set up, run, and adjudicate than past editions. There's far, far, far less fiddling and player-bargaining than I'm used to.

On the player side, now this might seem insane, but I really like how they cut down the choices and flattened the curves. I'm an engineer, so I can't avoid trying to optimize. I vastly prefer choosing my archetype---and not having 200 of them---and being done with most of my important choices than fussing with a wealth of feats, powers, and gear. I love the flattened curves because it means putting an ability score upgrade somewhere other than my attack stat, or taking a feat instead, is not automatically the wrong choice. It means I can make a choice, be fairly confident it won't break my character, not be worried that when reading the list of 2000 feats, I missed the perfect one, and get back to playing.

It's not just combat in 5e that moves faster. Everything moves faster. Leveling up moves. Creating a character moves. Stocking the dungeon moves. I find the whole game from stem to stern moves faster, meaning I'm spending a much, much greater percentage of my time rolling dice and resolving situations than hunting through the books for the one weird rule that describes this situation or the one feat that I remember thinking six weeks ago I needed.

I really, really like the way they brought things into balance with Concentration and the Bonus Action. I think this was a smart way to do things that keeps the magic "feeling" like D&D without resulting in 3.5 gonzo. Looking back at my games, that Concentration mechanic means my bard is focused on using his sustained effects in a way that synergizes with the party instead of stacking them all on himself. Without Concentration, my bard would cast Greater Invisibility, Elemental Weapon, and Animate Objects on himself, then blow his level 6 slot on Hold Person or Hold Monster and go to town. And the barbarian would stand there feeling like an idiot, and the guy playing him would probably drop out of the game and stay home next week. Instead, I cast Hold Person on the enemies so the barbarian can go to town, and when that wears off, I turn him invisible. And maybe I drop that and finally cast Elemental Weapon on myself when there's just the young dragon left. The barbarian gets to be a badass and the bard gets to be useful.

So there are a few reason I love 5e.

Doctor Crunch

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I adore 5E. It's light on it's feet, intuitive, and easy to customize. My group hadn't played D&D for years and now we have three 5E games running.

I don't talk about it here because every D&D thread gets swarmed by 4E fans. I'm not willing to go to war every time I want to talk about the game.


up to no good
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All of the above plus removing stuff does not have a significant impact on how the game works. Feats and skills can be removed or changed easily to fit a campaign, swapping out monster gear is simple, and creatures have such distinctive abilities that they can be easily modified for flavor by adding or removing one or two things.

The rules are straightforward and make sense, so there isn't a lot of rules haggling. In fact, the only things we have run into are environment stuff that did not make sense to everyone.

Heck, we did a one off where the players used monster stats to be a maurauding band of goblinoids and I treated them as the level of their hit dice to come up with encounter difficulty and it worked out pretty well. Tought things were tough and weak things were weak, and there wasn't any worry that encounters were perfectly balanced.


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Although I don't like 5e, there are a few things I agree it handles very well.
-the fact it handles all proficiencies of all kind (weapons, skills) as a bonus to an ability (though this bonus is way too small for non-rogues).
-combat actions economy.
-spell slots and prepared spells.


I write, draw and pretend to be a goddam hero
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I like it because I can pick and choose how complicated - or simple - I want it to be, and as I like my games somewhat rules-lite and played o n the fly I don;t have to worry too much about complications. If my players want to scrutinize the rules to get the best character possible they can knock themselves out, but I can go into a game without having to worry too much about prep, which is something I never really did a lot of anyway.

I can easily say it's my favourite edition.


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It's a bit hard to gush about, compared to something like 4e, not because I don't like it as much, but because the reasons all end up coming down to "It just works." I've been playing it with a group that's been gaming together for 15 years, and we love it. I'm also using it to DM a campaign for a bunch of rookies, and it's great for that. But, that having been said, here are a bunch of things I like:

It offers healthy character customization, but tends to involve fewer, more substantial choices than something like 4e (where you make tons of minor choices). As a result, it sits at a really good place on the complexity-flexibility slider for characters.

Advantage/disadvantage is so, so great. It's easy to use, it's intuitive, it's flexible, it avoids problems with gigantic modifier lists.

Concentration is also really excellent. Basically, certain spells require concentration. A spellcaster can only maintain concentration on a single spell at once, and damage forces them to make checks to maintain it. This does a bunch of things - most importantly, it helps moderate casters' power, but it also avoids having caster spend a ton of time early in combat chaining buffs together.

Speaking of casters, 5e's take on vancian magic (which tends to be a bit more flexible than in previous conditions) is something I'm fond of. It retains the classic feel, but is a little less rigid. The inclusion of (actually useful) at-will cantrips is another perk. It also leans heavily on the idea that spells can scale with the level at which you cast them, which helps avoid redundancies in the spell lists. (For example, you don't need 4 or 5 cure wounds spells - there's have one, called Cure Wounds, and it scales in power depending on what level of spell slot is used to cast it.)

It eliminates the need for a battlemat while retaining a bunch of the cool forced movement stuff from 4e, so that's nice.

It also retains 4e's death saving throws, which are great. Characters are much less likely to die-die from, say, a lucky crit, but every time a character falls unconscious there's a race to get them stable before they fail too many saves. It works out great.

Healing is handled in a way that makes healing spells relevant and helpful, without forcing casters who have them into being healbots. Out-of-combat healing is generally easier than in previous editions, but on balance encounters are often tougher. There's less sense that every fight it atrophying your resources, but more of a sense that each fight has real risk.

That's what comes to mind. I'll add more if I think of anything.


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"Advantage/disadvantage is so, so great. It's easy to use, it's intuitive, it's flexible, it avoids problems with gigantic modifier lists."

I always considered the three saving throws to be 3E's single best new feature, and similarly I like 5%'s advantage/disadvantage. Both of these innovations are so simple, useful, and intelligent that they seem obvious in hindsight. I cannot think of an argument that favours an alternative.


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The 4vengers are still around some of them have not even changed their screen names from the WotC boards.

I like discovering the class interactions with the game rules. Basically figure out how to stun, tip or whatever or just deal moar damage if that is your thing. THe less complicated part and advantage/disadvantage also works for me and less spell stacking. Hey its not perfect but its the best D&D WotC has produced and maybe the 2nd or 3rd best D&D edition overall IMHO.


both a doctor and a fox
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It's robust, I can invent things and rule on the fly and the game doesn't grind to a halt. EDIT - I'll rephrase that: I can rule on the fly and almost always find on reflection that I was bang on first time. I love the visual style of the books, which seems like a great compromise between all the editions I've played.

Goldilocks is a good description: It has enough depth and complexity to reward players who like it, but it doesn't go so far as to alienate those who hate it (or don't get it). Mechanically it's transparent enough that I can know exactly what the numbers are without looking at the sheet - I'm playing in a game where I sometimes need to know how everybody else's character works as well as my own... and I DO.

I've never been so happy playing D&D as I am playing 5e. Me and the others vets sometimes look at each other in game and say, "why didn't anyone do [this] years ago?" (be it Advantage, six saves, escalating spells, slot/preparation, and so on).
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I'd like to add: as someone who skipped over 4th ed entirely, it's so nice to come back to a D&D system which does away with feats. I found them the most frustrating and mind numbing part of 3rd ed to figure out... and it's so great to say "These aren't happening. Take your +2 when you make 4th level."
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