Thursday, October 20, 2016

More 5e Thoughts (And a Gauntlet Thrown)

Over the course of the past several days, I have been trying to typeset a 5e Players Guide to the Lost Colonies in order to reflect some of the ideas I expressed in my last post as well as ideas that are campaign-specific. What a nightmare. I have gotten through what I hope is the messiest part, but I still have a lot of editing and re-organizing to do. This whole experience has cemented the idea that my major complaint about 5e has almost nothing to do with the system.

I will never spend a dime on the core books because they are a hot mess. Seriously, anyone out there who has played a 5e Paladin, you have my sympathy. I took me days to typeset and organize the paladin-as-cleric because, in order to understand the rules for some class features, you have to go to two or three different places in the class description to get a full picture. Even then, a lot of stuff needs several reads in order to interpret the rules.

Now, as an old-school grognard I don’t have any issues with rules that can be interpreted in multiple ways on principle, but 5e presents as such a complicated system that to have rules that are difficult to interpret is not something I appreciate, at least in context of trying to produce an ordered and understandable version of the paladin for my own campaign world.

On the flip side, this experience has demonstrated to me that 5e, at its core, is an extremely simple system. Simply put, it takes the bare bones of a typical d20 system (six ability scores, hit points, armor class, etc.) and strips it all down to the concepts of the Proficiency Bonus and the ideas of Advantage/Disadvantage.

The Proficiency Bonus is a very simple way of expressing that a character is good at something — anything from weapons, to skills, to tools, to saving throws. Advantage/Disadvantage is an extraordinarily elegant way to express bonuses and penalties for virtually any situation in the game.

5e then builds upon this very simple framework a baroque/gothic nightmare of complexity. Whereas I like the idea of using the paladin as a cleric and the warlock as a magic-user, I am less than thrilled about the sheer amount to rules necessary to pull this off. Swords & Wizardry Light (a complete game) will be four pages. That is less than the page count necessary to explain a single class in 5e.

At the heart of all this, however, is a system that I think will make the world of RPGs better. I don’t think I am the man to do it, but there is a 5e-Lite begging to shake off all the excess that WotC have piled onto this system. Indeed, I think the system is elegant enough to pull off just about any genre that you can throw at it.

Here is hoping that someone, someday picks up the gauntlet and produces a 5e-Lite that will make the process of tooling 5e into any genre we want easier than what I am putting myself through now.

1 comment:

Michael Bugg said...

My thoughts exactly! I think that you could get rid of a lot of fluff text and that would slim down the rules considerably--maybe not into the ideal of 128 pages, but not that far from it either.