Monday, August 22, 2022

A Farewell to D&D

The biggest news in the RPG-sphere the past week had been the announcement of One D&D. The announcement doesn't really affect me, as I had already decided to migrate to the AGE system as the mainstay of my fantasy campaigns, starting today, in fact. In fact, I looked through my posts and realised that the last time we actually played 5E was almost 2 years ago.

There are two main reasons why I made the decision, neither of which has to do with the core rule mechanics or the way characters are created - two of the things most people seem to be talking about in this revision.

In fact, I find the 5E "roll a d20 and try to equal or beat a target number" mechanic to be effective; and proficiency bonus and advantage/disadvantage are just genius strokes.

In terms of the way characters are created, the new system is a mixed bag to me. I agree that there should be racial traits and background skills, but I also prefer racial modifiers to the attributes. I do think that any sentient race should not have a default alignment though.

So what are the aspects of D&D that make me decided to switch system?

The first is the spell lists. The default spell system and lists result in a setting where magic is too abundant, reliable, and low-cost for my taste. The problem lies not so much in the higher level spells (which PCs cannot access until rather late in the campaign) but the cantrips, which are unlimited, utilitarian, and take away much of the dangers and inconveniences of adventuring.

It is of course possible to amend the system, by say implementing spell slots for cantrips, a roll-to-cast system, and removing spells which I think are "problematic", implementing spell trees... but all those require time and effort, and may not be a once-off exercise due to the second reason for me switching system.

The second and more important reason for me deciding to switch system is that I simply cannot keep up with all the new character options and spells that seem to be coming out at shorter and shorter intervals these past few years. While 5E was my main system for fantasy campaigns, we typically alternate between fantasy and campaigns of other genres, and often try out other systems for shorter campaigns. Our group can probably get by with just the core books and whatever house rules we have adopted so far, but as I occasionally run games for newbies and at local conventions, I cannot claim to be running "D&D" if I don't keep up.

And keeping up seems to be something that will become rather expensive and time-consuming, judging by what little information we have so far from WOTC. I personally have no need for a whole VTT system, and I still prefer reading rules in dead tree format.

All these factors have led me to switch to a more stable system, which I hope will be provided in the form of the Fantasy AGE Core rulebook, which should be released... soon? In the mean time we will be playing Dragon Age RPG.

I will still keep an eye on One D&D, and I may even give it a try as a player when it is released - but for now, D&D is just a system that I used to run.


Phil Curran said...

Breaking up is very hard to do.

Khusru said...

The constant updates do seem like a money making exercise

captain arjun said...

It's not an easy decision, but the changes over the past few years made it easier. 5E was simple and complete, but it got more and more complicated with the new rules and changes that they try to tell you are "backwards compatible", but really make the old way of doing things obsolete.

I don't begrudge them for wanting to release new content to make money, but I wonder if releasing new rules that made the old ones obsolete is really a better way than releasing high quality modules and campaigns and setting books? New monster manuals and books of treasures and magical items and NPCs? You know, things that don't change the core rules of the game?