5th Edition in Practice: What unexpected problems have cropped up?


4th Edition

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SmiloDan wrote:

I'm finding using the Life cleric's Channel Divinity: Preserve Life kind of annoying. It only heals up to half your maximum, so PCs need to be very hurt to benefit from it.

[...]

Yes, we find that a bit annoying, but it's not a big problem.

The issues we come across so far are just minor ones.

The Paladin in our group finds it troublesome that all his self buffs rely on concentration and yet the paladin is not proficient in con saves. I too agree that this is a bit strange.
Also, unlike the (maneuver) fighter in our group, must Paladins features don’t replenish after a short rest.

We dropped flanking because we didn’t like the rules. Mainly for three reasons: It created too much metagaming; it was too powerful; and it stopped the flow of the game.

I think we also have nerfed some of the selfhealing. Something we all found made the game more gritty and fun.

I personally love the advantage/disadvantage rules, but some of us find it a bit annoying that one source of disadvantage counters many sources of advantage. At first I found that unbalanced, but now I start think that it is a good thing.

I’m not sure the game needs 6 saving throws, but does make sense, and also I think it may prevent people from power dumping stats.

I play an Evocation wizard I think the his powers are a bit unbalanced. The Sculpt Spells is a bit too good and takes the tension out of the game, so with the permission from the rest of the group and GM, I have nefed it. Basically they get advantage on their saves and improved evasion that can be used in any armor.

Nerfed Sculpt Spells:

Beginning at 2nd level, you can create pockets of relative safety within the effects of your evocation spells. When you cast an evocation spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures have advantage on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save. If they fail their save they only take half damage.
Special: If choose yourself as one as one the creatures you automatically succeed on your saving throw.

The Potent Cantrip is a bit boring since there are no evocation spells you can apply it to.

I’m also a bit disappointed that you can’t trade out your cantrips, but to be fair that is more to do with me not understanding the rules. In the new errata they clarified that cantrips are not in the spellbook.


Zark wrote:
The Potent Cantrip is a bit boring since there are no evocation spells you can apply it to.

A glaring oversight in the PH, for sure. There is frostbite from the Elemental Evil Players Companion, though.


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I haven't experienced any truly negative problems with 5E, in fact I keep finding that if I investigate the PHB or DMG closer I can usually find what I'm looking for.

I initially disliked the lack of Skill options for Players, as I am a big believer that a Characters Skills help define the actual character, until I started reading in the DMG about all the customization options you could alter. As I am the GM in most cases, this information was incredibly valuable too me. You can customize a Class nearly any way you can think of.

Think that a Bard being proficient with three musical instruments is overkill? Switch two of them out for different tool proficiencies or even languages. Or hell, all three of them if you aren't playing a musical-themed Bard. You could take Thieves Tools, Herbalism Kit and Vehicles (Land) in order to represent a roaming Survivor style character.

Want a Fighter with more Skill selections? Trade in one of your other Proficiencies, say Heavy Armor, in exchange for an extra skill or two. Now you can both Intimidate someone and list off the genealogical History of every dwarven artifact ever produced. In addition to having smooth Stealth moves that lets you set up tactical ambush points with your party Rogue.

The genius of 5E lies in that the game expects the Player's and Game Master's to work together and help create the character and concept you want. The basic rules in the PHB only serve as a starting point, which you can alter in order to best represent what you are trying to accomplish. This is quite different from other RPG's, yes like Pathfinder, which want you to work with the Game Master true, but only within the confines of the pre-established rules set. You are still limited exclusively to what any new Archetype or Variant you are allowed to use.

In this regards I feel that 5E actually allows for greater customization than Pathfinder. Quantity of Selection does not trump Quality of Selection in my view, which is where 5E succeeds. I admit that it took my 3.5/Pathfinder mindset some time to adjust to this new 5E mindset, but once I was in the door I was amazed at how simple the whole system is while still allowing for deep customization options.

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Zark, in regards to the Concentration issue, the Resilient feat allows you to gain proficiency in a new Saving Throw and boost that ability score by +1. My dwarf cleric had an odd Constitution score, so I took Resilient (Constitution) and it has been a lifesaver. Extra hit points, and an improvement to a really important saving throw. Definitely no regrets there! It even fits the character.

Potent Cantrip seems like a good idea, they just should have had more cantrips it would apply to. Or have a secondary effect, like adding Intelligence to the damage of evocation cantrips.


SmiloDan wrote:
Potent Cantrip seems like a good idea, they just should have had more cantrips it would apply to. Or have a secondary effect, like adding Intelligence to the damage of evocation cantrips.

They were very careful to limit Empowered Evocation to apply only to wizard spells. Not having similar wording added to Potent Cantrip would make the 2-level warlock dip (or Magic Initiate) very attractive for wizards to get eldritch blast.

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Hahahahaha!!!! I guess I should have worded that "wizard evocation cantrips."


Potent Cantrip applies to any cantrip with a save, not just Evocation ones. It's silly that the only Evocation cantrip with a save is in the EE player's guide, but you can still use it with cantrips from other schools.


Maybe I'm the only one who's really experienced this, but I had a player who was playing a monk and she had her character's str and dex equally high (16), however because she could replace attack and damage with dex, her strength was effectively useless. The realization that the most effective monk is one who dumped strength actually bothered the both of us.

Then there's advantage/disadvantage, while it's cool and I like it, I just wish it weren't used for everything. As cool as a mechanic as it was it made things swingy at times. Sometimes flat bonuses are just more favorable to use.


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Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
Maybe I'm the only one who's really experienced this, but I had a player who was playing a monk and she had her character's str and dex equally high (16), however because she could replace attack and damage with dex, her strength was effectively useless. The realization that the most effective monk is one who dumped strength actually bothered the both of us.

I played a monk for a bit and noticed this. In my case, it was a positive, rather than a negative - my image of monks is dexterous rather than strong; wiry guys who are able to perform amazing physical feats without being musclemen. The idea of needing a high strength to play a monk is a little jarring to my mind.

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
Maybe I'm the only one who's really experienced this, but I had a player who was playing a monk and she had her character's str and dex equally high (16), however because she could replace attack and damage with dex, her strength was effectively useless. The realization that the most effective monk is one who dumped strength actually bothered the both of us.
I played a monk for a bit and noticed this. In my case, it was a positive, rather than a negative - my image of monks is dexterous rather than strong; wiry guys who are able to perform amazing physical feats without being musclemen. The idea of needing a high strength to play a monk is a little jarring to my mind.

I agree with Steve. For the brawny monk, I would suggest a barbarian with tavern brawler. ^_^ They make for some beefy monks! ;)


My only real difficulty has been gauging encounter difficulty. The XP Budget system presented in the DMG requires a lot of tweaking due to the number-of-foes multiplier and can present some pretty strange results if you push it too hard (such as the popular example of a solo lich being a moderate encounter at a given level while a lich accompanied by two kobolds is an epic encounter).

After having been spoiled by the Pathfinder encounter budget system, which I always found to work really well, the 5E system is head-hurty and ends up generally just getting kicked to the curb. The good news is, if you just keep in mind that a tough fight is "solo above CR, two foes of CR, four foes of 1/2 CR, eight foes of 1/4 CR" as a rough estimate, and limit your tough fights to the big moments, you can pretty well eyeball the rest.

Getting used to the idea that "most" encounters should actually not be that tough required a certain mental shift as well after being used to "four encounters then sleep" for the past decade. But that wasn't a function of the system so much as how the expectations of the gaming community at large had shifted.

Suddenly fights seem so easy! And so fast! The monsters barely got to move into position before they were mowed down! Suddenly fights don't take an hour and I need to fill the game session with other stuff! A problem I'm very happy to have, actually... but definitely a culture shock.

-The Gneech


wait, so you think that dex and strength are only relative to combat? You don't track weight carried, or consider strength saves for any reason?


It was that strength provided no benefit during most combats, which was extremely jarring. The class wasn't bad and the abilities are what she was looking for; it's just that a scrawny monk was more effective at killing things than one who worked out (like actual Shaolin Monks which is where most of the inspiration for the class comes from) Not Beefy, but toned. Which really is more of a criticism of the class, but then again the monk had been a weird sort of balancing problem for all editions, so at least the class is balanced as far as I could tell in this edition.


Terquem wrote:
wait, so you think that dex and strength are only relative to combat? You don't track weight carried, or consider strength saves for any reason?

Not quite, but I feel that Strength is most relevant during combat, or at least it was in previous editions.

Weight is really only important for people who don't know how to bring along other people or animals who are good at carrying things. In fact weight would be the least relevant to a monk who doesn't wear armor, uses their bare fists (Bound accuracy is the best thing to happen to a monk btw), and refrains from lugging around junk (well if the player is playing up the responsible disciple). Besides, tracking weight actually takes away from the immersion instead of adding to it. If you actually care about inventory making sense, you might as well implement Munchkin rules.

In actual play, there are a number of situations where one can just use dexterity instead of strength; Dodge around the thing, Escape out of the Grapple, Acrobatics instead of Athletics, dexterity to hit (via finesse), and now Dex damage over Str damage.

I don't think strength is useless outside of battle though, it's great to use for breaking or bending tough stuff (Doors, Metal, Etc) and lifting heavy objects (statues, boulders, gates). I was just sad to see it's combat role significantly reduced when it already had a limited role outside of it.


Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
Not quite, but I feel that Strength is most relevant during combat, or at least it was in previous editions.

high STR is good for Monks who want to grapple and to resist the occasional STR save (which are pretty rare unless your DM improvises some). STR fuels athletics which covers climbing/jumping/swimming (which Monks end-up using frequently). Ki helps a bit and you can sometimes get away with acrobatics, but Monks who dump STR will show some consequences at times.


It has been mentioned before, but although 5e has 6 saves, the translation form FORT / REF / WILL is iffy at best. I wish STR / INT / CHA saves had more use.

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Laurefindel wrote:
It has been mentioned before, but although 5e has 6 saves, the translation form FORT / REF / WILL is iffy at best. I wish STR / INT / CHA saves had more use.

That's true, the saves have two tiers. Con/Dex/Wis are common, Str/Int/Cha are rare. Each class has prof in a common save, and a rare save, so this seems to be intentionally balanced.

I rather like it this way to be honest, I'd probably feel a lot more vulnerable if all six were frequently targeted.

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It's a little annoying that some saves are EXTREMELY rare. I was looking for an Int save on the Cleric or Wizard list of 5th level or less, and couldn't find one.

(Our 10th level PCs are dealing with a CR 20 ancient white dragon....)

It might be cool if there was a feat that let you change the save type from one physical kind to a different physical type, and one mental type to a different mental kind. Like maybe once per short rest?

Sovereign Court

On the subject of monks, it is interesting to note that a high level Pathfinder Monk that uses weapon finess is doing more damage through his damage dice than through his strength, and is relatively unimpaired.

I would be interested to see a 5th edition archetype that highlights strength based monks.

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Lorathorn wrote:
I would be interested to see a 5th edition archetype that highlights strength based monks.

All you'd need is for their Unarmored Defense to let them sub in STR in place of DEX (or in place of WIS?) for AC. Done.

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Well, on CharOps there's a silly monk build about grappling your enemy, doing a MONK JUMP to piledriver them into the ground. You can totally go Str on a Monk.


I do try and 'attack' most saves so they don't seem wasted, but yeah pity more variety of saves isn't required. You could always rule using the best of two stats for a save, or the worst if you are feeling mean.


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Petty Alchemy wrote:
That's true, the saves have two tiers. Con/Dex/Wis are common, Str/Int/Cha are rare. Each class has prof in a common save, and a rare save, so this seems to be intentionally balanced.

I never noticed that. Cheers.

Grand Lodge

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John Robey wrote:
My only real difficulty has been gauging encounter difficulty. The XP Budget system presented in the DMG requires a lot of tweaking due to the number-of-foes multiplier and can present some pretty strange results if you push it too hard (such as the popular example of a solo lich being a moderate encounter at a given level while a lich accompanied by two kobolds is an epic encounter).

Actually that's not quite true. The DMG specifically points out that you do not include enemies whose CR is significantly below the party's APL as part of the challenge. So 2 Kobolds = CR 1/4, nothing to a 13th level party.

You'd need 16+ Kobolds before it even gets close to making a dent.

In regards to the Dex vs Str, I like the change a lot. STR is still slightly better for damage, and DEX is still slightly better defense - it's just that now you can reasonably do combat styles aside from THF and do decent damage.

TWF is viable. Archery doesn't mean having to focus on STR and DEX as opposed to a THF Barbarian just getting to pump their STR to absurdity. But Power Attack now belongs solely to Great Weapon Fighters. Criticals just doubling dice and not modifiers favors d12 and 2d6 weapons over d4 and d6.

Also, for the record, STR saves are fairly common at low levels. Pretty much every beast with a Trip attack requires a STR save. Prone isn't the worst thing in the world, per se, but it's no picnic.


Fights are quick and that makes it seem like either the PCs are overpowered or that the monsters are overpowered depending on who won.
I like how quick the battles are though.

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