5th Edition in Practice: What worked better than expected?


4th Edition

Sovereign Court

In the interest of being thorough, I would like to hear of any experiences playung 5th edition that were pleasant surprises. Rules or lack thereof that made a game smoother and more fun, etc.

What say you?

(Confound it, trying to post through a tablet has become too consternating. Thread title fixed)

Scarab Sages

I was impressed by their ability to use spellcheck, myself.


Advantage/Disadvantage was a significant player. I suppose I expected that but there were very few instances where the difference would have been negligible.

The adjustment to the "prepared" spell casting system is SO much better (which is similar to the Arcanist method of spell casting recently released for PF) than the old 3.5 method. SO. MUCH. BETTER.

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What's in the box? wrote:
The adjustment to the "prepared" spell casting system is SO much better (which is similar to the Arcanist method of spell casting recently released for PF) than the old 3.5 method. SO. MUCH. BETTER.

There's sooooo much that I like about spellcasting in 5E. What you mentioned is one part of that.

Another part is the combat viability of cantrips. A sorcerer shooting a fire bolt cantrip has the same chance of hitting and only slightly lower average damage than a fighter swinging a sword. No longer do casters say "Oh crap, I'm down to just cantrips!". Instead, cantrips are the default, the caster's bread and butter. Since you know your cantrips are "good enough", you don't feel like all your spell slots have to be devoted to combat power; there's room for utility stuff too.

And speaking of utility stuff, ritual casting is awesome. Instead of 4E's total division of spells and rituals or Pathfinder's dilemma of needing to spend spell slots on boring and situational spells, 5E has things like identify as normal spells which also have the "ritual" tag. Such a spell can be cast "for free" by a ritual-capable class by simply adding 10 minutes to the casting time.

I could go on; maybe I'll come back to this. :)

Liberty's Edge

Yep, spell casting is much more intuitive and useful, without completely making martial classes worthless. Flattening the power curve is a nice touch, too. Lots to like about 5e.


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While it is not unanimously acclaimed, I much enjoy the skill system despite my initial doubts.

I like that in a pinch, skills can substitute (or be substituted by) attack rolls or saving throws.

I like that the system is clean and simple enough to make combination on the fly without bogging the game down (Constitution Athletics, why not!)

I like that the "proficient" tag can mean more than just a bonus on the check, perhaps assuming automatic success or allowing a check where others aren't.

I like tools and kit proficiency (although I wonder if Medicine shouldn't have been made into a healer's kit proficiency instead) for their open-handed-ness (?)

In other words, I like that the skill system is simple and versatile enough to handle houserules, campaign-specific subsystems and on-the-fly ruling quite well.

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Laurefindel wrote:
In other words, I like that the skill system is simple and versatile enough to handle houserules, campaign-specific subsystems and on-the-fly ruling quite well.

Not even just the skills, but more or less the whole game. The entire system is very malleable and houserule-friendly.

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I'm surprised how much I like it. I like how modular it is. Race, sub-race. Class, sub-classes/archetypes. Backgrounds.

I like how a lot of abilities that were feats are weapon qualities (Weapon Finesse) or just standard rules (Spring Attack). Dex to damage and Str to throwing attacks are fun and easy.

I like how AoOs were replaced by Reactions, so they can also be used as special actions, like the Shield spell or Hellish Rebuke or the Protection fighting style.

I REALLY like how they scaled spells with spell levels instead of caster levels. I like how they handle preparing spells and casting spells--especially how the number of spells you can prepare is based on caster level, so you aren't overwhelmed with keeping track of dozens of spells.

Leveling up is SUPER easy. It can literally take 2 minutes to go up a level. Sometimes it's just add hit points and a class feature or more spells per day. You only REALLY need to refigure everything at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17, and to a lesser extent, those levels where you increase an ability score. And even then, it's just +1 to Attacks, Damage, Saves, Skills, and Spell DCs. Easy peasy! :-D


I'm thrilled to see all the cool things people are finding in the system.
For my own 2 cents, I like how stream-lined 2 Weapon Fighting has become (being subject to a multitude of Dervishes in 3.X, this was a clean change), how helpful PCs can intuitively be to each other and the ease of story elements taking precedence. I had some trouble with that in Pathfinder just this past weekend, but in 5th I wouldn't have had any problems with it, I suspect.

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Yeah, TWF is pretty slick. It's right in that sweet spot of "good if you built for it, not so good everyone will do it, varies by build, but is easy to learn/use regardless".

Liberty's Edge

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Knocking things out. No fluffing around with 'non-lethal damage'. On the hit that the thing would have been killed you can just say I'm knocking them out rather than killing.

One of my players actually bothered to read the rules rather than relying on Mr DM. I had my evil captain of the guard about to be killed after a non-battle mat fight (I'm TotM with the odd scribble if required). But on the killing blow the player announced first he wasn't killing the chap and then what page number in the rules as a stared at him.

He was completely right. Simple but really awesome rule. The player described he, at the last minute, reversed his sword stroke and bashed the dude between the eyes with his pommel. Chalk one prisoner up for the PC's. They finally released him for some concessions from the evil Barron.

****************************************

Also we are finding not having to so heavily rely on magic items makes for a better story at times. We have no Wizard (so take that into account), but I had the players arrested, which they decided was the best way into the castle. Now under 3e/PF removing all of the players items in such a fashion to throw them in prison would be met with cries of how the GM had ruined their character. Not a peep under 5e, in fact, as I said, this was their plan.

So the heroes being the heroes rather than organic attachments of the magic items is a huge win of 5e for me.

S.

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A lot has been mentioned, but let me say:
Rogues. Cunning Action allows the Rogue to do Rogue things without having to skip his combat action.

And archer rogues work by default.

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We made our first scrolls yesterday. No scribe scroll feat required. Just some cash and time.

Our level 9 party of 6 took on a glabrezu, 3 vrock, and an NPC wizard throwing around 6th level spells AND making 4 melee attacks per round (some turned out to be lair actions...another great rule system!). We used a newly found Horn of Valhalla which totally saved our bacon.

We also did underwater combat for the first time, which was fun and exciting and almost drowned us all.


SmiloDan wrote:
NPC wizard throwing around 6th level spells AND making 4 melee attacks per round.

That lightning spell behaved an awful lot like chain lightning, and it arced 5 times. That would have required an 8th level slot, assuming the DM was following the rules to the letter. :)

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I think it's interesting how both this thread AND the "unexpected problems" thread are filling up with almost exclusively positive things.

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Well, I think in general the people that have severe allergic reactions to shifts from the 3.x paradigm just don't come to this part of the forum, so you're getting the opinions of people that like the system, or are at least open-minded/interested.


Petty Alchemy wrote:
Well, I think in general the people that have severe allergic reactions to shifts from the 3.x paradigm just don't come to this part of the forum, so you're getting the opinions of people that like the system, or are at least open-minded/interested.

Yup.

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houser2112 wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:
NPC wizard throwing around 6th level spells AND making 4 melee attacks per round.
That lightning spell behaved an awful lot like chain lightning, and it arced 5 times. That would have required an 8th level slot, assuming the DM was following the rules to the letter. :)

Oh wow! Think of the XP! LOL! Maybe that was a Lair

Action? That guy was REALLY beefy for a spellcaster.


Petty Alchemy wrote:
Well, I think in general the people that have severe allergic reactions to shifts from the 3.x paradigm just don't come to this part of the forum, so you're getting the opinions of people that like the system, or are at least open-minded/interested.

This isn't entirely true. I, for example, lurk here. While I prefer Pathfinder (not to the point of allergic reactions... I also play Edge of the Empire and a few other games on rare occassions), and haven't even purchased 5e yet (and won't until I have a reasonable electronic option), I follow the threads to see what may or may not interest me. I wouldn't say I'm open minded (I have a pretty strong dislike for WoTC at this point) and I am only mildly interested in the system.

After the experience that was 4e (which I did play), I stay out of most of these threads.

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I skipped 4th Edition, so I lucked out. I probably wouldn't have tried 5th Edition if the rest of my group wanted to.

And it's good for a once or twice a month group. If we played 2 or 3 times a week, I think the lack of customization would be a big problem. But it's excellent for a rules-lite campaign.


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I wouldn't call 5th ed a rule-lite game and a campaign can use the rule extensively. It is lighter than 3e and more streamlined than AD&D, but it has an average level of "cruchy-ness" by modern standards. Actually, it is 3e/pathfinder that was/is particularly rule-heavy.

But it isn't a character deck-building game anymore, and I understand that many players miss that.

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Laurefindel wrote:
But it isn't a character deck-building game anymore, and I understand that many players miss that.

Interestingly, I'm starting to find that I have to (in order to have the most fun) approach character creation differently in 5E than I did in Pathfinder, and it's related to that difference in customization ability.

I was recently musing on how, with point-buy stats, you can start the character creation process by picking a character concept, then pick the stats you need in order to realize that concept. By contrast, that method will often lead to frustration with rolled stats, as you might roll a distribution that doesn't support the concept you had in mind. In a rolled-stat game, there's less frustration (and therefore, most likely, more fun) if you start with the stats, and let those guide you to what kind of character you'll build.

I'm finding that the difference in customization potential between Pathfinder and 5E is rather similar: there are so many knobs I can twist in Pathfinder, that I'm able to assemble something to realize almost any concept I want. But in 5E, having a concept already in mind might leave me frustrated if I don't see an option for that concept already built into the system, since there are fewer building blocks for customization.

Putting those two things together (the stat generation and the system customizability), I think I'm finding that I'll always prefer point-buy and concept-first characterization in Pathfinder, but I might actually prefer rolled stats—and the "guidance" they can provide—for 5E games because they'll help funnel me into concepts that are already supported.

...Did that make sense?

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Yeah.

I've only used the basic stat array for 5th Edition (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8), and so far, it has lead to some fun characters. One is a dwarf cleric that is notorious for going last in initiative (8 Dex). The other is a parkour-based half-elf urchin rogue with an Int of 8 that is "street smart," which means he is really dumb. :-)


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Jiggy wrote:

Interestingly, I'm starting to find that I have to (in order to have the most fun) approach character creation differently in 5E than I did in Pathfinder, and it's related to that difference in customization ability.

I was recently musing on how, with point-buy stats, you can start the character creation process by picking a character concept, then pick the stats you need in order to realize that concept. By contrast, that method will often lead to frustration with rolled stats, as you might roll a distribution that doesn't support the concept you had in mind. In a rolled-stat game, there's less frustration (and therefore, most likely, more fun) if you start with the stats, and let those guide you to what kind of character you'll build.

I'm finding that the difference in customization potential between Pathfinder and 5E is rather similar: there are so many knobs I can twist in Pathfinder, that I'm able to assemble something to realize almost any concept I want. But in 5E, having a concept already in mind might leave me frustrated if I don't see an option for that concept already built into the system, since there are fewer building blocks for customization.

Putting those two things together (the stat generation and the system customizability), I think I'm finding that I'll always prefer point-buy and concept-first characterization in Pathfinder, but I might actually prefer rolled stats—and the "guidance" they can provide—for 5E games because they'll help funnel me into concepts that are already supported.

...Did that make sense?

Absolutely. I usually do it that way (rolling my stats in order and seeing what class/race combination is suggested) and I suspect that part of why PF isnt really 'right' for me is that the whole character-building paradigm presumes you have a character concept in mind when you begin. I think you're right that 5E is more conducive to just seeing what comes out.

The other relevant difference between the systems, in my opinion, is that poor rolls are not such a hindrance to effectiveness in 5E as they are in PF. Obviously it has an impact on effectiveness, but a suboptimal PC and a super-carefully-built PC are not as far apart in 5E as they would be in PF. In one of our early games I played a bard/fighter/warlock with a 13 casting stat. Although he was clearly worse than he would have been had I assigned his stats more usually, during fights it wasnt particularly obvious that I was much less optimised than the rest of my party, who were more 'sensibly' built.

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We had a fighter/rogue/wizard in our group who was trying to be an old school fighter/thief/magic-user, and it just wasn't working out for him. He was using the two-weapon fighting style, and there were just too many bonus action types to use and not enough bonus actions to use them all. We suggested he try using the eldritch knight and arcane trickster archetypes, so that by level 9 he would be a 5th level caster, but he ended up re-building it as a dual-wielding fighter eldritch knight 9, and is much happier than being all multi-classed up the bazinga.


I had tried 5th earlier and loved and then hated it. My feelings are kind of neutral at this point, but I do like bounded accuracy and thus the lack of characters coated in magical items. It seems to be the d20 system (that I've tried) that kind of keeps that down to earth feel to it.


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I haven't yet actually played D&D 5e, but I like the lighter feel of the rules as compared to 3.5 OGL-based games. I get much more of an "old school" vibe from 5e. Not quite as much as with Swords and Wizardry, but I like it. It certainly appeals to some of my old-school-affiliated players who get confused/exasperated by the crunchiness of PF.

I'm strongly considering running a Paizo adventure in 5E to see how it goes.

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Haladir wrote:
I'm strongly considering running a Paizo adventure in 5E to see how it goes.

You wouldn't be the first; there's been lots of chatter on the PbP boards about converting both Paizo APs and even AD&D modules to 5E.


Jiggy wrote:
Haladir wrote:
I'm strongly considering running a Paizo adventure in 5E to see how it goes.
You wouldn't be the first; there's been lots of chatter on the PbP boards about converting both Paizo APs and even AD&D modules to 5E.

Precisely this!

My "lead" player insisted I chime in here. As mentioned elsewhere our group is using previous edition (and even non-D&D adventure) publications for 5E play.

Most of this stuff was free-to-me and will take better than 20 years to use at the current rate of play (weekly). I'll be tempted to buy new stuff here and there for sure in the future but the 5E boon and other life stuff will combine to mean that I may never buy anything new for as long as I game. So far I haven't got anything since last Christmas. I don't even frequent either of my usual FLGS haunts now that my cousin's back in the metro area and I'm part of his campaign.

So, back to the OP:
What worked better than expected for me is the 5E-Flex™ allowing me to save time and money (in particular time spent shopping, as I always modify APs and such before I run them, that means zero extra time spent adapting things to 5E over the previous mode of play for our group).

The next best "worked better than expected" part of 5E play relates to the relative lack of crunch (over 3.PF). This has given the groups I play in more time to play/interact as we spend far less time trying to figure out (or argue over:) rules interactions. When the only mechanic you need to determine for your PC is whether you are rolling with advantage, disadvantage, or neither... well, the crunch passes pretty quick. I might be persuaded that this is in fact better than the ability to easy-adapt other game products to 5E play.


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Haladir wrote:
I'm strongly considering running a Paizo adventure in 5E to see how it goes.

I'm running a group through Curse of the Crimson Throne at the moment. It's outside the norm, since it's only two PCs and it's deliberately low magic. Nonetheless, it's working well and is proving relatively easy to adapt.

One thing I've noticed is that I initially relied on the DMG 'experience point budgets' for building encounters and they are seriously soft unless the number of opponents is significant. I used them exactly as written and the two PCs tend to blow through 'deadly' encounters without needing to rely on their limited use abilities at all.

I think PF relies significantly more on single-enemy fights than is ideal for 5E, so I'm starting to switch things around a bit.

Skeletons of Scarwall Spoiler:
They're just about to enter scarwall and I've made sure most of the spirit links have accompanying minions/henchman.


Overall me and my group are having fun with 5e. We're currently playing through the Tiamat adventure and while we're only 1st level, its been entertaining. Its quite easily replaced 3.5/PF in our rotation of games so now it's either 4e or 5e. Couple hours of things that I feel have worked well...

• bounded accuracy
• flexible spellcasting
• multiclassing

We've added a few elements from 4e like Melee Training feat and they have worked out rather well.


What does that feat do?


Arakhor wrote:
What does that feat do?

In 4e it allows you to use another stat besides Strength for Melee Basic Attacks however the damage is only 1/2 the modifier.

In 5e it adds +1 to the stat if your choice (to a Max of 20) and you can use that stat to make melee weapon attacks. The damage is still only 1/2 the modifier. So a Paladin could take the feat and use Charisma for melee attacks or a Wizard could use Intelligence.


Oh, that's quite handy. I like that one.


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I now play 5e twice a week. It really seems to suit our fast play / low crunch style, while still throwing up surprises. Every class we have looked at shines and the rogue is very effective. Nice that numbers and adjustments are low
It is also a dream to write adventures for


I was blown away by how quickly and easily it played, especially combat. With or without maps and miniatures, or starting in one mode and switching to another, turns are fast, furious, and fun (to steal a phrase from Savage Worlds). That was made me switch, actually.

The other thing I've been pleased with is how robust character creation is, even tho it's been radically simplified from 3.x/PF, especially if you use feats. Backgrounds open up customization options for creating all sorts of interesting concepts, and abandoning the 3.x/PF model of "nerf everything and use a feat to be able to do something" has made choosing a specialty a more character-defining moment. Everybody can do interesting things, but choosing a feat to emphasize a particular ability makes a big impact.

I was able to convert a 4th level whip-wielding drow bard from PF to 5E over the course of about 10 minutes, with the trickiest thing being the selection of Martial Adept to get access to the trip and disarm maneuvers.

-The Gneech

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Diffan wrote:
Arakhor wrote:
What does that feat do?

In 4e it allows you to use another stat besides Strength for Melee Basic Attacks however the damage is only 1/2 the modifier.

In 5e it adds +1 to the stat if your choice (to a Max of 20) and you can use that stat to make melee weapon attacks. The damage is still only 1/2 the modifier. So a Paladin could take the feat and use Charisma for melee attacks or a Wizard could use Intelligence.

What, but then how do you handle a Paladin with the Oath of Devotion path? You allow him to add double his Cha modifier to hit when he uses his Channel Divinity? I dunno about that... It's neat, but I don't know if it will unbalance in actual play.

EDIT: I do like it for the Sherlock-type rogue to use Int mod for attack rolls though...

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