"Everything is core" - What it actually meant, for perspective, and what that means for 5e

A common pro/con (depending on who you talk to) of 4e is "everything is core".  People go back and forth about it, why it was good or bad, but I've noticed some have a severe misunderstanding of what it actually meant, leading to disagreements and poor argumentation, from both sides.

So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

This is only partly true.

What it actually means is that everything is designed according to a universal standard, and that anything can be used by the DM without fear of upsetting the game experience (balance, mechanical structure, etc).  As many older players will attest, supplements weren't always held to a clear standard.  For good or for ill, many supplements didn't follow any specific design paradigms.  In 1e and especially 2e, most supplements added new rules and sub-systems, many of which made characters significantly more powerful than characters that didn't use these rules.  Certainly, these additional rules made the game significantly more complex.  A great number of DMs would ban or restrict these supplements, out of a variety of concerns.  This is not a condemnation of these early editions, just a statement of fact.  A lot of these new rules and whatnot were great fun.  Generally, you can think of them as high-risk, high reward.

In 3e, the core system was greatly simplified.  Roll high, good.  Roll low, bad.  D20+mods, and beat the DC.  Everything spread from that.  There were a great number of sub-systems, but they all came down to that core mechanical truth.  Supplements added new sub-systems and details, and they largely kept this truth.  As a result, less supplements were outright banned because of concerns over complexity.  However, not all supplements were created equal, and some supplements gave vastly more effective power than others, and as a result some DMs banned them out of concerns for character balance and table management.  In many cases, the obscene power boost offered by some supplements turned DMs off of all supplements, out of some sense of "preventative care".

4e sought to remove that fear.  If for no other reason, that fear impacted potential sales, because who would buy what they wouldn't ever use.

So, in 4e, every supplement is designed according to some core assumptions about the game.  Not only was 4e free of a huge number of sub-systems (again, for good or for ill, depending on who you ask), every supplement was designed under these strict paradigms.  It wasn't until very late in 4e's lifespan that design branched out from the core mechanics (Psionic Augmentation, Runes, Essentials in general), and even then, they didn't stretch very far.  In theory (if not always in practice), everything was designed around a clear concept of relative power level, and a DM could add any supplement to their game without upsetting the balance at the table, or vastly changing the experience of the game and its mechanics.

So it's not that "everything is automatically allowed, as if it was printed in the core rulebook", but "everything is designed according to the standards of the core rulebook, and thus can be added by the DM without needing to be carefully watched".

"Everything is Core" didn't mean you had to include Warforged in your campaign setting, so much as including Warforged (and other Living Constructs) wouldn't mess up your game if you didn't keep a close eye on them.

So what does this mean for 5e?  Well, we know that 5e is designed around a solid core, with alternate rules and sub-systems to be added in via modules that can be plugged in and out as needed or desired by the DM (and the group).

The big (rhetorical) question I have is whether those modules will be designed in the spirit of 4e, in that a DM would be able to add them without having to excessively worry about upsetting balance or the core play experience.  And the followup question, should DMs even worry about it at all, even if the modules did "upset balance"?
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What it actually means is that everything is designed according to a universal standard, and that anything can be used by the DM without fear of upsetting the game experience (balance, mechanical structure, etc).

Exactly.

People regularly banned Dragon content, for example.  They had grounds to do it in 3e, but when DMs do it in 4e I can only react by .  4e Dragon articles are a complement to the published books, and 'everything is core' is what makes this happen.

'everything is core' does not mean that the DM can't say no.  But it means that there should be a specific 'no' answer, rather than blanket prohibitions.

The DMs who complain about 4e as a time of "player entitlement" have the mistaken understanding of 'everything is core' at the heart of it.  It's not about entitlement, and never was.  Sure, there are entitled players, but they'll be entitled no matter what the system says.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Also another reason why everything must be core is that you never know when 5e is going to have a campaign that is going to be played Nation wide. You know like The Living Greyhawk. 





 
While I was one DM who did often question the quality of Dungeon and/or Dragon material (only allowing selected material), the "everything is core" concept was an excellent one as a base.

It didn't stop be having standards for my own home games and campaigns (banning all fae races as PCs for example, as they are evil in my setting) nor for Wizards (the 4th Edition Dark Sun banned large amounts of material) but it did help with overall quality and the POTENTIAL (even if not always used) for crossability. 
So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?  I don't think I've ever played in or run a game of D&D, 4e or otherwise, where the players were given carte blanche to use absolutely any published material available.  Balance aside, that would have the potential to get silly fast: "I know we're playing a game set in ancient Sumeria, but I wanna be a ninja from Rokugan!"

To address the larger issue, I think modularity is going to throw a +5 Monkeywrench of Confusion into any attempts to balance 5e beyond core.  I think it's possible to balance individual rules against the core, and even to balance large suites of rules to form "targeted modules" that are designed to alter the game with some express goal, such as the rumored Tactical Module, or (examples out of a hat) a Low-Magic Module, or a Grim and Gritty Module.  But as soon as people start piling on the houserules and cherry-picking things from various modules (which is inevitable), things will get complicated fast.  Is that a problem?  Only for people who don't like complexity or get frustrated with trying to balance a game on their own -- which I'd imagine is probably a fair number of people.

All in all, I think modularity is a good thing, it will just require more policing than 4e did.  I expect that modular material will be designed to be balanced with the core, which is at least somewhat in the spirit of "everything is core."  What I'd worry about is what happens when rules from different modules interact with each other in unintended and unexpected ways.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?  I don't think I've ever played in or run a game of D&D, 4e or otherwise, where the players were given carte blanche to use absolutely any published material available.  Balance aside, that would have the potential to get silly fast: "I know we're playing a game set in ancient Sumeria, but I wanna be a ninja from Rokugan!"

To address the larger issue, I think modularity is going to throw a +5 Monkeywrench of Confusion into any attempts to balance 5e beyond core.  I think it's possible to balance individual rules against the core, and even to balance large suites of rules to form "targeted modules" that are designed to alter the game with some express goal, such as the rumored Tactical Module, or (examples out of a hat) a Low-Magic Module, or a Grim and Gritty Module.  But as soon as people start piling on the houserules and cherry-picking things from various modules (which is inevitable), things will get complicated fast.  Is that a problem?  Only for people who don't like complexity or get frustrated with trying to balance a game on their own -- which I'd imagine is probably a fair number of people.

All in all, I think modularity is a good thing, it will just require more policing than 4e did.  I expect that modular material will be designed to be balanced with the core, which is at least somewhat in the spirit of "everything is core."  What I'd worry about is what happens when rules from different modules interact with each other in unintended and unexpected ways.



Isn't that why we're playtesting it?
So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?  


Not when playing 4e, generally this view is only held when decrying it.
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So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?  


Not when playing 4e, generally this view is only held when decrying it.


Honestly I never heard any complaints about this until the D&D Next forums :P So I would definately say it's not a common belief.
My two copper.
I understand where they were coming from with the policy, but it was a truly poor idea as implimented.

It hurt the notion that a DM can exclude things without any big issue, since the whole idea of "core" had prior to this point been the baseline game, without all of the splat books and add-ons. It also assumed that everything printed was going to receive the same level of playtesting, editing, and careful integration into what had prior to "everything is core" been a relatively small "core" game. Arguably this wasn't the case.

The worst thing in my mind that it created was the notion that anything that was "core" was by default automatically allowed into and found in all of the various campaign settings, with very slender exception. This resulted in races, monsters, and concepts utterly alien to some campaign settings being hamfistedly forced into them, at the expense of their preexistant lore and continuity. FR in particular suffered from this, and in the end barely resembles the setting it was prior to 4e (though the 'everything is core' isn't the only reason it was worked over such as it was).
Shemeska the Marauder, Freelancer 5 / Yugoloth 10
So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?  


Not when playing 4e, generally this view is only held when decrying it.


Honestly I never heard any complaints about this until the D&D Next forums :P So I would definately say it's not a common belief.


You must not have been paying attention to the 4e-hating posts during its run, then.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?


Yes. This was the official view given. WotC backed this up by including warforged and the like in the Realms, dragonborn and eladrin in Eberron and Dark Sun, and the like. It was not easy to exclude options from the Character Builder.

Everything was meant to be as valid as anything else, under the assumption that if they told DMs everything was core they'd accept everything into the worlds and players would thus use everything and increase sales. 

I agree with the OP that the "everything is core" philosophy has some wider design ramifications.  But I don't think we have to be afraid of the "everything is optional" philosophy.
Will they all be as balanced as the core? No, probably not. But here's the question: should they be?

No. Big old no. 
The way I see it there are three types of "balance" for modules. There are modules that will weaken PCs and certain options, there will be modules that strengthen PCs and certain options, and there should be modules that are neutral and adding them does not affect the balance. 
Many modules should be neutral. The tactical module should be balanced and even in power level with the other options. But if I want to play a low magic gritty campaign with high PC mortality where spellcasters are special... should the modules I slot in be balanced the same as someone who wants a higher powered higher magic campaign where the PCs are badass from level 1?
They shouldn't be balanced with each other. The goals and styles of the two games are opposite. One set of modules should weaken characters and the other should strengthen. One option can and should make the PCs higher power by its very inclusion. 

The trick is making sure the modules do what they should and don't have unforseen consequences. So the DM knows that when she slots in the "high powered/epic" modules that makes the PCs descended from gods or mythic that the party will be able to blast through orcs at level 1 and challenges will need to be ramped up by a set amount. Balance in this case is being able to accurately adjust to the changes made by the module. So when it says the PCs are as powerful as level 3 characters at level 1 they actually are and are not as powerful as level 2 or 4 characters. 

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So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?


Yes. This was the official view given. WotC backed this up by including warforged and the like in the Realms



Um, no they didn't. Just checked the FRCG and the FR-Player's Guide and there was no mention of Warforged in the Realms. Forgotten Realms novels don't mention them either. And I'm fairly certain that all the DDI FR articles that I downloaded and read never included Warforged.  


dragonborn and eladrin in Eberron and Dark Sun, and the like.



This is a problem how? Just read the entries, yep sounds like the designers did a good job of incorporating fantasy elements into a fantasy campagin setting. Dark Sun even went into how Dragonborn are called Dray and gave unique spins on races like Elves and Halflings. 


It was not easy to exclude options from the Character Builder.



Sure it is. Tell your players "No Eladrin in my Eberron campaign. No Warforged in my Realms campaign. No Genasi in my Dragonlance game." Then, if the players use those options you tell them no, again and to choose something else. You don't need to change the program, just the person using it. In fact, I think it's GOOD  that the designers put the PHB races into the core of the published settings. For one, it makes it easier on the DM to find ways of incorporating them into the campaign and for another, it spawns cool adventuring ideas. Yes, the designers probably expected every DM to adjust his own specific camapign according to the DM/Group wishes instead of making the most barest of bones options and putting more work on the DMs shoulders to incorporate things.    


Everything was meant to be as valid as anything else, under the assumption that if they told DMs everything was core they'd accept everything into the worlds and players would thus use everything and increase sales. 

I agree with the OP that the "everything is core" philosophy has some wider design ramifications.  But I don't think we have to be afraid of the "everything is optional" philosophy.



As we're talking about the Core of the game they (the devs) don't make any assumptions other than a DM and Group has the biggest impact on their own specific campaign and that people would probably act mature when figuring out what sort of game to run and with what elements. Besides, every choice is OPTIONAL. No one singular element outside of the "core" mechanic (d20 resolution, 6 stats, using a race and class) is forced onto anyone. Want a game of all humans and no magical classes, done. Want a game where elves are all Vampires and everyone has a magical talent? Done. Want a game where Dwarves and Dragonborn have murdered eachother into extinction? Done. Just because Dwarves and Dragonborn are in the PHB does NOT mean you are required to incorporate them into every single campaign ever. That's justs crazy talk.   

As for modules, we haven't even seen what changes one (if there even going to make them) might make to the base game or any changes at all.
The worst thing in my mind that it created was the notion that anything that was "core" was by default automatically allowed into and found in all of the various campaign settings, with very slender exception. This resulted in races, monsters, and concepts utterly alien to some campaign settings being hamfistedly forced into them, at the expense of their preexistant lore and continuity. FR in particular suffered from this, and in the end barely resembles the setting it was prior to 4e (though the 'everything is core' isn't the only reason it was worked over such as it was).



Yeah, Personally I hate the "we made a new race, lets force it into every campaign setting!"

It's what I really hated about 4E dragonborn and tieflings. I mean the concept of the race is fine, and I might use them in a campaign world, but I don't want the assumption that they're automatically in every campaign world, especailly if you're using an established world from a prior edition.
Isn't that why we're playtesting it?

Well, we are playtesting the core.  No telling how much (if any) of the modular material will see public playtest.  Even if it does, it won't occur on the same scale, because a lot of people just won't want to play with XYZ modular material.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

Well, we are playtesting the core.  No telling how much (if any) of the modular material will see public playtest.  Even if it does, it won't occur on the same scale, because a lot of people just won't want to play with XYZ modular material.



I'd personally like to see a policy of "everything is playtested."

Even if they do something where only D&D insider subscribers can get the playtest stuff after the game is released, I'd like to always see some playtesters for everything to prevent major mistakes.


I understand where they were coming from with the policy, but it was a truly poor idea as implimented.

It hurt the notion that a DM can exclude things without any big issue, since the whole idea of "core" had prior to this point been the baseline game, without all of the splat books and add-ons. It also assumed that everything printed was going to receive the same level of playtesting, editing, and careful integration into what had prior to "everything is core" been a relatively small "core" game. Arguably this wasn't the case.

The worst thing in my mind that it created was the notion that anything that was "core" was by default automatically allowed into and found in all of the various campaign settings, with very slender exception. This resulted in races, monsters, and concepts utterly alien to some campaign settings being hamfistedly forced into them, at the expense of their preexistant lore and continuity. FR in particular suffered from this, and in the end barely resembles the setting it was prior to 4e (though the 'everything is core' isn't the only reason it was worked over such as it was).



I feel this is a side effect of "everthing is core".  But yeah, I agree.  Those who didn't understand it opened up the toolbox without fear of breaking, assumed that "everything exists everywhere" and thus this mess occurred, nuking continuity and grating at the minds of hardcore setting fans.  Now, if the 4th core was a LOT lighter (or a set of multiple options and examples instead of one "nentir vale"/"points of light") without assumptions we wouldn't have other settings radically warped.  This is one of the reasons why I've tended to play 4e rule set (with the help of friends' subscription) with prior lore and assumptions from older books. 

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I would like a "Everything is balanced" design goal.


I feel this is a side effect of "everthing is core".  But yeah, I agree.  Those who didn't understand it opened up the toolbox without fear of breaking, assumed that "everything exists everywhere" and thus this mess occurred, nuking continuity and grating at the minds of hardcore setting fans. 



Or, alternatively, those who appreciated "everything is core" opened up the toybox and had a blast with all the fun things our players came up with.

To each their own.

I understand where they were coming from with the policy, but it was a truly poor idea as implimented.

It hurt the notion that a DM can exclude things without any big issue, since the whole idea of "core" had prior to this point been the baseline game, without all of the splat books and add-ons. It also assumed that everything printed was going to receive the same level of playtesting, editing, and careful integration into what had prior to "everything is core" been a relatively small "core" game. Arguably this wasn't the case.

The worst thing in my mind that it created was the notion that anything that was "core" was by default automatically allowed into and found in all of the various campaign settings, with very slender exception. This resulted in races, monsters, and concepts utterly alien to some campaign settings being hamfistedly forced into them, at the expense of their preexistant lore and continuity. FR in particular suffered from this, and in the end barely resembles the setting it was prior to 4e (though the 'everything is core' isn't the only reason it was worked over such as it was).



+1

This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.

This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players. 

Why not is generally asked to see if there is a way for both parties to get what they want. For instance if the DM doesn't like X race because of a power it has, why is it bad/wrong to see if modifying/dropping/ exchanging that power might make it cool with him? Or if a race is fey and there are no fey in the world, is dropping the fey and changing it to humanoid ok? Asking why is never a bad thing.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.

I don't see an issue with the attitude myself. I had more people trying to get funky stuff into 3E than 4E. For some, they want to try it BECAUSE it's off limits and there was a LOT less I had to make off limits in 3E.


This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players. 

Why not is generally asked to see if there is a way for both parties to get what they want. For instance if the DM doesn't like X race because of a power it has, why is it bad/wrong to see if modifying/dropping/ exchanging that power might make it cool with him? Or if a race is fey and there are no fey in the world, is dropping the fey and changing it to humanoid ok? Asking why is never a bad thing.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.

I don't see an issue with the attitude myself. I had more people trying to get funky stuff into 3E than 4E. For some, they want to try it BECAUSE it's off limits and there was a LOT less I had to make off limits in 3E.




I'm somewhere in between.  If I say, "No", I'll try to compromise to find something either in between or slightly different.  And depending on game, I might be likely to say "no" quite a bit.  If I'm feeling especially evil, I might say, "yes, but" instead with dire consequences (i.e. kill on sight).  It also helps with knowing your table.  If they're goofy and prefer gonzo/off the wall, maybe Ravenloft and/or Dark Sun aren't the best choices to DM.  Meanwhile, a more orderly table that prefers deep, grimdark, or likewise gaming probably wouldn't like over-the-top insano epic fantasy.

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
I understand where they were coming from with the policy, but it was a truly poor idea as implimented.

It hurt the notion that a DM can exclude things without any big issue, since the whole idea of "core" had prior to this point been the baseline game, without all of the splat books and add-ons. It also assumed that everything printed was going to receive the same level of playtesting, editing, and careful integration into what had prior to "everything is core" been a relatively small "core" game. Arguably this wasn't the case.

The worst thing in my mind that it created was the notion that anything that was "core" was by default automatically allowed into and found in all of the various campaign settings, with very slender exception. This resulted in races, monsters, and concepts utterly alien to some campaign settings being hamfistedly forced into them, at the expense of their preexistant lore and continuity. FR in particular suffered from this, and in the end barely resembles the setting it was prior to 4e (though the 'everything is core' isn't the only reason it was worked over such as it was).



+1

This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.

And then you have other gamers like me, who have never come across this problem.  I don't run or play in standard settings, so no matter how much WotC attempted to shoehorn new content into old settings, it never effected me.  Instead, I found ways to incorporate things like dragonborn and warforged into my settings in ways that were cool and flavor-appropriate, and thus it only enhanced the options available and the scope of the game.  Just mentioning this as a valid counter-example.

I think one real benefit of "everything is core" is the idea that restrictions should be determined at your gametable, not forced on you from rulebooks.  This seems to be preserved in 5e, at least in spirit, as the entire design philosophy behind modularity is "play it your way."  Perhaps that's a concept that should have been emphasized more in 4e.  The matieral supports it fine, but clearly, if some people were having issues, it needed to be explicitly spelled out for those people, which is probably why it's being brought to the fore in DDN.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan


I'm somewhere in between.  If I say, "No", I'll try to compromise to find something either in between or slightly different.  And depending on game, I might be likely to say "no" quite a bit.  It also helps with knowing your table.  If they're goofy and prefer gonzo/off the wall, maybe Ravenloft and/or Dark Sun aren't the best choices to DM.

Myself, when I say NO, I give the reason and not just the NO. If they can give me satifying reason to say yes, then I could change my mind. There are some things that the reason is as simple as 'I don't like it and it'll never change'. Like kenders...


This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players. 

Why not is generally asked to see if there is a way for both parties to get what they want. For instance if the DM doesn't like X race because of a power it has, why is it bad/wrong to see if modifying/dropping/ exchanging that power might make it cool with him? Or if a race is fey and there are no fey in the world, is dropping the fey and changing it to humanoid ok? Asking why is never a bad thing.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.

I don't see an issue with the attitude myself. I had more people trying to get funky stuff into 3E than 4E. For some, they want to try it BECAUSE it's off limits and there was a LOT less I had to make off limits in 3E.




You're right, why not is not a bad question.  It is fine.  But, let me put it into context. 

DM: All right, we recapped the last 6 sessions where you guys have been walking through the mountain pass to rach the dwarven kingdowm of Frostcliff.  Along the way, you've encountered a small village being ransacked by a yeti, and a cult of northmen that prays to the werewolf, Silvermane.  You leveled, so tell me what your group of elves learned.

Player 1: I learned Samauri Movement.  
DM: Huh?
Player 1: Yea, I took the feat out of "place title of Dragon Article here."
DM: May I see it?
Player 1: Sure.  (hands the character sheet over.)
DM: No.  This doesn't fit.
Player 1: Why not?

This is a real example.  We had just as silly an example when treking through the Underdark for months.   
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This is the notion I have come across many times.  And when I watch a DM (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) politely tell a player (even the best of them, who have played for 20 years) that's not allowed.  Well, let's just say it's generally met with a "why not?"  I have no idea why this attitude is so persistent, but I've seen it across all settings and most players.

If the mechanics and game help develop that attitude (?), then Wizards would be wise to create races and powers and feats etc based off campaign settings like they did in 4e, but with tighter control as to what is acceptable and what is not.  There can always be a caveat stating that for DM's and players that don't mind, they can disregard the perimeters of the setting.



Blame the educational system that existed before the turn of the century. We were taught to question and analyze. Children are being taught by rote again, so "shut and do what you are told" will work as well in the next ten years as it did in the 1800s.

We should have reasons for the things we do, otherwise we are creatures of instinct, and nothing more. If the player asks why not, and the DM cannot provide a better answer than "cause I said so," perhaps it is not the player, but the DM who is out of line.

The example given above where Kender were banned because of a long history of disruptive players is an example of sufficient cause, and the player should respect this.

Then again, I stop disruptive behavior the moment it starts. If a player tells me that their Kender swipes the Cleric's holy symbol, I tell him that he does not, and if he continues to try to disrupt the game, he will be asked to leave. There was a great Dragon article about "What is in a Kender's Pouch?" right before 4E came out. It contained lots of knickknacks, was determined randomly, and 1d4 things were swapped out every day. It also provided a lot of insight regarding what a Kender finds interesting, and that rarely included anything of real value.

A Kender was the last 3.5 character I played, actually, and nobody at the table minded because my race (and my pouches) were simply a part of who I was, they were not the sole focus or reason behind the character. None of my fellow players' posessions ever made their way into my pouches.


I'm somewhere in between.  If I say, "No", I'll try to compromise to find something either in between or slightly different.  And depending on game, I might be likely to say "no" quite a bit.  It also helps with knowing your table.  If they're goofy and prefer gonzo/off the wall, maybe Ravenloft and/or Dark Sun aren't the best choices to DM.

Myself, when I say NO, I give the reason and not just the NO. If they can give me satifying reason to say yes, then I could change my mind. There are some things that the reason is as simple as 'I don't like it and it'll never change'. Like kenders...




Heh, that's me and new PoL races (which are just retcons of older races), albeit for different reasons.  Again, this is an issue of knowing your table.

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Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />You're right, why not is not a bad question.  It is fine.  But, let me put it into context. 

DM: All right, we recapped the last 6 sessions where you guys have been walking through the mountain pass to rach the dwarven kingdowm of Frostcliff.  Along the way, you've encountered a small village being ransacked by a yeti, and a cult of northmen that prays to the werewolf, Silvermane.  You leveled, so tell me what your group of elves learned.

Player 1: I learned Samauri Movement.  
DM: Huh?
Player 1: Yea, I took the feat out of "place title of Dragon Article here."
DM: May I see it?
Player 1: Sure.  (hands the character sheet over.)
DM: No.  This doesn't fit.
Player 1: Why not?

This is a real example.  We had just as silly an example when treking through the Underdark for months.   



Not to be obtuse, but why not?

The Feat Samurai Movement may have some fluff attached to it, but in the end it is just a number of mechanical advantages. The idea that those advantages could only have been taight to the character by a Samurai is ridiculously stupid. Rename it Elven Step and refluff it, and let it go.


You're right, why not is not a bad question.  It is fine.  But, let me put it into context. 

DM: All right, we recapped the last 6 sessions where you guys have been walking through the mountain pass to rach the dwarven kingdowm of Frostcliff.  Along the way, you've encountered a small village being ransacked by a yeti, and a cult of northmen that prays to the werewolf, Silvermane.  You leveled, so tell me what your group of elves learned.

Player 1: I learned Samauri Movement.  
DM: Huh?
Player 1: Yea, I took the feat out of "place title of Dragon Article here."
DM: May I see it?
Player 1: Sure.  (hands the character sheet over.)
DM: No.  This doesn't fit.
Player 1: Why not?

This is a real example.  We had just as silly an example when treking through the Underdark for months.   

I don't see it silly at all. I'd have asked the same question. In 4e, fluff and names are meaningless and can be altered at will, so that Samurai Movement could be Barbarian rush. You don't need training in skills/feats/powers in 4e, so you didn't have to find someone that has it to learn it. What was silly with it again?

Now there MAY be something in the context of the thing he learned that was based on an element that wasn't in your champain, I don't know what   Samurai Movement does. If it was something that gave bonuses to katana's and you don't have katana's in your world, THEN I'd understand your point.

Then again, I stop disruptive behavior the moment it starts. If a player tells me that their Kender swipes the Cleric's holy symbol, I tell him that he does not, and if he continues to try to disrupt the game, he will be asked to leave.

The kender abuse was when I was a player and not a DM so I couldn't toss him from the game.


You're right, why not is not a bad question.  It is fine.  But, let me put it into context. 

DM: All right, we recapped the last 6 sessions where you guys have been walking through the mountain pass to rach the dwarven kingdowm of Frostcliff.  Along the way, you've encountered a small village being ransacked by a yeti, and a cult of northmen that prays to the werewolf, Silvermane.  You leveled, so tell me what your group of elves learned.

Player 1: I learned Samauri Movement.  
DM: Huh?
Player 1: Yea, I took the feat out of "place title of Dragon Article here."
DM: May I see it?
Player 1: Sure.  (hands the character sheet over.)
DM: No.  This doesn't fit.
Player 1: Why not?

This is a real example.  We had just as silly an example when treking through the Underdark for months.   

I don't see it silly at all. I'd have asked the same question. In 4e, fluff and names are meaningless and can be altered at will, so that Samurai Movement could be Barbarian rush. You don't need training in skills/feats/powers in 4e, so you didn't have to find someone that has it to learn it. What was silly with it again?

Now there MAY be something in the context of the thing he learned that was based on an element that wasn't in your champain, I don't know what   Samurai Movement does. If it was something that gave bonuses to katana's and you don't have katana's in your world, THEN I'd understand your point.




YMMV again.  I enjoy refluffing somethings and thinking how mechanics work in another way.

Gamma World is especially great for this!  The only reason I've homebrewed another list of origins is if I think the mechanics can't pull off what I want.  I had a table in a GW one shot composed of: steampunk necromancer, anthro wolf druid, cybernetic mad scientist, grey alien in a gangster "zoot suit", and internet-elemental...  all with only a little bit of homebrew (I snagged the caninoid, gunslinger, and technomancer origins from homebrew.  Plus some omegatech was either converted from D&D4 or made up.  Otherwise, stuck to book mechanics. 

Rambling tangent aside, some people love sticking to a default fluff and having mechanics that support that fluff first.  It's not wrong, just another style of play.  I sometimes do this myself.

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Then again, I stop disruptive behavior the moment it starts. If a player tells me that their Kender swipes the Cleric's holy symbol, I tell him that he does not, and if he continues to try to disrupt the game, he will be asked to leave.

The kender abuse was when I was a player and not a DM so I couldn't toss him from the game.




Fair enough. Continued disruptive behavior at the table is just as much the fault of the DM as it is the player in question (first time is all player, after that, the DM becomes complicit in every subsequent event).

Rambling tangent aside, some people love sticking to a default fluff and having mechanics that support that fluff first.  It's not wrong, just another style of play.  I sometimes do this myself.

Well that's fine, but I'd need to know that up front to find the example silly. As/is, the example isn't silly unless some houserule that I don't know MADE it silly or the ability/feat does something funky I don't know about.

So, in 4e, every supplement is designed according to some core assumptions about the game. 



There's absolutelly no difference between any edition in that aspect. A system's basic books lay down the most basic rules, and all suplements should follow those standards, even if adding new rules for specific things.

Believing some system is "bullet-proof" against bad suplements is an illusion.
There is nothing inherent in any system of rules that can't be torn apart later by bad design.

What might have happened in 4ed was a better supervision from the original creators of the system as to what should or not be released in the suplements.
That's a good thing, of course. But it's a thing of management. It has nothing to do with a system "allowing" more or less bad suplements.
That "tight grip" on the suplements can extend to any release from any edition, and I sincerely hope they do so in 5ed (and if they don't we can always ignore the bad stuff that comes later).

Granted, many suplements were completelly out of control. I've seen it in all editions.
Some even appear to be competing with others to see who can come up with the most overpowered characters.

"Damn that Rastlin is looking awesome in that new edition of Dragonlance, so I'll make my Elminster even more powerful, after all Forgotten Realms can't stay behind!"
*Adds more ubber-powerful magic rules*
(or something like that... just a random example)


But do keep in mind... there's nothing so well written that can't be twisted later by bad writing.

Especially when you have too many authors creating independently (see the Star Wars universe of books for example, with its 967967860987 books written by 9698769867 authors, many of which are... just bad).

In the end it's always up to each DM decide what can or can't be used in his game. 
Rambling tangent aside, some people love sticking to a default fluff and having mechanics that support that fluff first.  It's not wrong, just another style of play.  I sometimes do this myself.

Well that's fine, but I'd need to know that up front to find the example silly. As/is, the example isn't silly unless some houserule that I don't know MADE it silly or the ability/feat does something funky I don't know about.




I guess a mentality that comes with said style of play, "this means this.  You take this for that reason."  Perhaps that's an extreme...

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
I actually really liked this aspect of 4th. I made it a point not to ban any option when I ran 4th.
Rambling tangent aside, some people love sticking to a default fluff and having mechanics that support that fluff first.  It's not wrong, just another style of play.  I sometimes do this myself.

Well that's fine, but I'd need to know that up front to find the example silly. As/is, the example isn't silly unless some houserule that I don't know MADE it silly or the ability/feat does something funky I don't know about.




I guess a mentality that comes with said style of play, "this means this.  You take this for that reason."  Perhaps that's an extreme...

LOL I understand that. I had several debates with Baker, the creator of ebberon over rules only to find that after months of arguing, he was debating his houserules that he forgot where houserules! Tongue Out

It's been a LONG time since I thought about the old Warforged(3.5)+smelter=profit debate. Innocent 

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />You're right, why not is not a bad question.  It is fine.  But, let me put it into context. 

DM: All right, we recapped the last 6 sessions where you guys have been walking through the mountain pass to rach the dwarven kingdowm of Frostcliff.  Along the way, you've encountered a small village being ransacked by a yeti, and a cult of northmen that prays to the werewolf, Silvermane.  You leveled, so tell me what your group of elves learned.

Player 1: I learned Samauri Movement.  
DM: Huh?
Player 1: Yea, I took the feat out of "place title of Dragon Article here."
DM: May I see it?
Player 1: Sure.  (hands the character sheet over.)
DM: No.  This doesn't fit.
Player 1: Why not?

This is a real example.  We had just as silly an example when treking through the Underdark for months.   



Not to be obtuse, but why not?

The Feat Samurai Movement may have some fluff attached to it, but in the end it is just a number of mechanical advantages. The idea that those advantages could only have been taight to the character by a Samurai is ridiculously stupid. Rename it Elven Step and refluff it, and let it go.




I was not DM, as that's how I would have handled it.  But, I also show courtesy to the DM's judgement as well.  If it would have been my campaign, I would have probably refluffed it.  But, it wasn't.  It was his.  And since he said "it doesn't fit," then I assume the player should take that as it doesn't fit for him, and pick something else. 
So, what is "Everything is Core"?  A lot of people assume that because "everything is core" it means that everything, from the actual core books to supplements and splatbooks, is on the table and available in a campaign.

People thought/think this?


Yes. This was the official view given. WotC backed this up by including warforged and the like in the Realms



Um, no they didn't. Just checked the FRCG and the FR-Player's Guide and there was no mention of Warforged in the Realms. Forgotten Realms novels don't mention them either. And I'm fairly certain that all the DDI FR articles that I downloaded and read never included Warforged.  


IIRC there was a Dragon article that explained them.
plus they were legal on Living Forgotten Realms. They exist there now.


dragonborn and eladrin in Eberron and Dark Sun, and the like.



This is a problem how? Just read the entries, yep sounds like the designers did a good job of incorporating fantasy elements into a fantasy campagin setting. Dark Sun even went into how Dragonborn are called Dray and gave unique spins on races like Elves and Halflings. 

I don't recall saying it was bad, or even badly done.


It was not easy to exclude options from the Character Builder.



Sure it is. Tell your players "No Eladrin in my Eberron campaign. No Warforged in my Realms campaign. No Genasi in my Dragonlance game." Then, if the players use those options you tell them no, again and to choose something else. You don't need to change the program, just the person using it. In fact, I think it's GOOD  that the designers put the PHB races into the core of the published settings. For one, it makes it easier on the DM to find ways of incorporating them into the campaign and for another, it spawns cool adventuring ideas. Yes, the designers probably expected every DM to adjust his own specific camapign according to the DM/Group wishes instead of making the most barest of bones options and putting more work on the DMs shoulders to incorporate things.

"But they're part of the rules. I thought we were playing by the rules. Are we? Can I still play a fighter or do I have to have that approved as well?"
 ;)

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Yes. This was the official view given. WotC backed this up by including warforged and the like in the Realms

Um, no they didn't. Just checked the FRCG and the FR-Player's Guide and there was no mention of Warforged in the Realms. Forgotten Realms novels don't mention them either. And I'm fairly certain that all the DDI FR articles that I downloaded and read never included Warforged.  


IIRC there was a Dragon article that explained them.
plus they were legal on Living Forgotten Realms. They exist there now.


Dragon 371, p39 — Origin Stories: Incorporating Races
Fluff for Warforged in the Realms & Genasi in Eberron.  Also has a sidebar for Shifters in the Realms.

Also has this nice little quote, among others, in a sidebar at the beginning:

However, in a vacuum of official support for a race not described in a campaign setting, you might wonder how your nonstandard race came to exist in the campaign. If so, this article aims to provide you with a list of several official possible origins for your game character.

That pretty much sums up my position as DM.  If it's "officially supported" (ie, not 3rd party or Unearthed Arcana), I'll allow it in my campaigns (with one exception; I hate the vampire class), either straight or refluffed/defluffed, so long as the result fits in with the setting.  If it's Unearthed Arcana, I'll probably allow it.  If it's 3rd party, I might allow it.

I really don't comprehend the need by some people to decide not to allow things, even if it needs to be stripped down.  Your world doesn't have drow?  Fine, these aren't drow, these are eladrin with an alternative fey-blood magic ability.
There's absolutelly no difference between any edition in that aspect. A system's basic books lay down the most basic rules, and all suplements should follow those standards, even if adding new rules for specific things. 


I have to say, from someone who proudly runs 3e with only core, I find this statement incredibly amusing.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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um.., no they didn't. Just checked the FRCG and the FR-Player's Guide and there was no mention of Warforged in the Realms. Forgotten Realms novels don't mention them either. And I'm fairly certain that all the DDI FR articles that I downloaded and read never included Warforged.

I'd say you missed the issue that had an article which outlined possible ways to incorporate the race in the Forgotten Realms. Furthermore in LFR (the primary manner in which many people played in the Forgotten Realms during 4th ed) the race was quite playable and there were many of them walking around as PCs. Finally I can think of one LFR module which did include Warforged as monsters to defeat.

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I would like a "Everything is balanced" design goal.

they tried that with 4th Ed. Not only did they fail abysmally at it (as witnessed by the copious amounts of errata produced), it sucked out the flavor and fun many people had with D&D.

As someone who played in LFR where "everything is core and thus playable" I became very burned on the everything is core aspect. I recall one adventure where the NPCs came running to the PCs about the terrible monstersnwho were terrorizing their village. These monsters being gnolls. Only problem was, gnolls were now a playable race thanks to a recent Dragon article and so more than half the table were gnolls. It really stretched credulity as to why this backward villager was coming to us for help.

The thing with "everything is core" was the idea that everything would be supported somewhat equally. When a new race came along, efforts were normally made to incorporate that into the published setting. Races and classes old (theoretically) gain equal support in supplements. And it worked up until PHB3 where we saw classes and races that would later garner next to no support. They also gave up on trying to include the more freakish races in the established settings.

As for what means for 5th Ed. The idea seems to have died with 4th Ed. Instead we're getting "everything is optional" with supplements including optional modules. We'll still get our splat books that have extra feats, spells and items (every edition has had these).  But we won't hear the idea from WotC that everything is core.