What's the point of Advantage/Disadvantage?

What is the purpose of the advantage/disadvantage mechanism?

If I recall from early statements by the designers, one of the key original intents was to trim down on the math required from previous editions by removing the need to add/subtract multiple modifiers.  

The idea that I only needed to worry about my base bonus, the target DC, and all other situational modifiers would be easily handled by dice tricks really appealed to me.  No more need for a slide ruler at the game table, joy!  It also appealed to me from a DMing standpoint, because you wouldn't need to worry what the specific plus/minus for a certain situation was, you could just play it off the cuff and confer advantage/disadvantage if you felt it fit the situation.

However, as playtest after playtest has come out, all the little numerical penalties and bonuses have crept back in.  Some things use the advantage/disadvantage mechanism, and other things use numerical bonuses/penalties.  There does not seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason as to why certain mechanics use one or the other.  I find myself having to reference the rules more than I would like, just to figure out if this or that gives advantage, or a plus, and how big the plus is.

What I don't understand, is why have 2 systems for the same thing?  If you're going to use some numerical penalties/bonuses, why not scrap the advantage/disadvantage system, and just stick with bonuses/penalties?  If you really want to simplify the math, why not eliminate numerical bonuses/penalties altogether?
Cause sometimes advantage is too big of an advantage.

It also doesn't stack.  Which sometimes they want to do.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Advantage and disadvantage do something that bonuses and penalties can't:  they change the shape of the probability distribution.  That's the power, and that's their real purpose.

And they succeed at it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
For what it is worth, I feel that it is a way to increase the min roll withou affecting the max. It also stops some stacking.


Example: I have a human fighter in my game with a +7 to hit. I also have a hafling rogue with a +3.
If I I give a +2 to hit that allows the rouge to hit a 24 withou rolling a 20, and the fighter a28.
if instead i give advantage the fighter is almost garanteed to hit a 15, but still has no chance of hitting a 28.

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Advantage and disadvantage do something that bonuses and penalties can't:  they change the shape of the probability distribution.  That's the power, and that's their real purpose.

And they succeed at it.



What is the purpose of changing the shape of the probability distribution?  Why do some things need a new probability shape, and other things are better served with the old fashioned straight bonus probability shape?


It also doesn't stack.  Which sometimes they want to do.

How fun would that be? 

"Each instance of Advantage adds another d20 to your roll or subtracts an instance of Disadvantage.  Keep the highest number rolled if you have Advantage....."

"Each instance of Disadvantage adds another d20 to your roll or subtracts an instance of Advantage.  Keep the lowest number rolled if you have Disadvantage....."

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

For what its worth, I would love if the designer's realized that +1 and +2 bonuses are more of a pain in the ass than they are worth and simply removed all of them from the game.

That way you have advantage or nothing. If the benefit is worthy enough to provide a bonus it gives advantage, if it is not then it shouldn't exist in the first place.

I don't mind if advantage is more frequent. Hell, they could design the game based around the assumption that players will have advantage for all I care.

I just don't want a return of the 3e/4e conditional bonus triathalon.
For what its worth, I would love if the designer's realized that +1 and +2 bonuses are more of a pain in the ass than they are worth and simply removed all of them from the game.

That way you have advantage or nothing. If the benefit is worthy enough to provide a bonus it gives advantage, if it is not then it shouldn't exist in the first place.

I don't mind if advantage is more frequent. Hell, they could design the game based around the assumption that players will have advantage for all I care.



This is one of the reasons why they need a partial Advantage/Disadvantage of roughly about +2-+3 to hit. roll a second d20, only keep odd numbers if rolling partial Advantage, only keep even numbers if rolling partial disadvantage as an example. Or roll a d6 and on a 6, auto-hit with partial Advantage(or 1 auto-miss with partial Disadvantage). Two instances of partial Advantage = Advantage, two instances of partial Disadvantage = Disadvantage.

The big problem with assuming double rolls, is that it can very easily create auto-hit situations, which isn't particularly fun, especially with limited options for certain classes. You don't want your 15th level Fighter simply rattling off damage done every round without really even needing to look at the rolls. 
What is the purpose of changing the shape of the probability distribution?  Why do some things need a new probability shape, and other things are better served with the old fashioned straight bonus probability shape?

Personal preference, like how some people would prefer a 2d4 broadsword over a 1d10 battleaxe? I don't see any benefit of shifting probability distributions mid-system, though. The flat probability distribution for success/failure has traditionally been a defining aspect of any d20 or d% system, just as a normal distribution is the hallmark of a 3d6 system.

When I decide to play a d20 or d% system, or that I want to play a 3d6 system, it's because I want to play that kind of system.

The metagame is not the game.

For what its worth, I would love if the designer's realized that +1 and +2 bonuses are more of a pain in the ass than they are worth and simply removed all of them from the game.

That way you have advantage or nothing. If the benefit is worthy enough to provide a bonus it gives advantage, if it is not then it shouldn't exist in the first place.

I don't mind if advantage is more frequent. Hell, they could design the game based around the assumption that players will have advantage for all I care.



This is one of the reasons why they need a partial Advantage/Disadvantage of roughly about +2-+3 to hit. roll a second d20, only keep odd numbers if rolling partial Advantage, only keep even numbers if rolling partial disadvantage as an example. Or roll a d6 and on a 6, auto-hit with partial Advantage(or 1 auto-miss with partial Disadvantage). Two instances of partial Advantage = Advantage, two instances of partial Disadvantage = Disadvantage.

The big problem with assuming double rolls, is that it can very easily create auto-hit situations, which isn't particularly fun, especially with limited options for certain classes. You don't want your 15th level Fighter simply rattling off damage done every round without really even needing to look at the rolls. 



Well if the base hit rate was set to 50% but "proficiency" granted a second d20, a fighter would have a 75% chance to hit most enemies. Starting with 2d20 also makes adding more/subracting more of them easier. Going from 2d20 to 3d20 would bring your accuracy up to about 85% in this scenario.

I do think partial advantage could be another solution though and would certainly prefer it to the +1 here +2 there approach.

Hell since most things hit on a 7+ anyway, they could have lesser advantage simply be a d12 instead of a d20.
What is the purpose of the advantage/disadvantage mechanism?

If I recall from early statements by the designers, one of the key original intents was to trim down on the math required from previous editions by removing the need to add/subtract multiple modifiers.  

The idea that I only needed to worry about my base bonus, the target DC, and all other situational modifiers would be easily handled by dice tricks really appealed to me.  No more need for a slide ruler at the game table, joy!  It also appealed to me from a DMing standpoint, because you wouldn't need to worry what the specific plus/minus for a certain situation was, you could just play it off the cuff and confer advantage/disadvantage if you felt it fit the situation.

However, as playtest after playtest has come out, all the little numerical penalties and bonuses have crept back in.  Some things use the advantage/disadvantage mechanism, and other things use numerical bonuses/penalties.  There does not seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason as to why certain mechanics use one or the other.  I find myself having to reference the rules more than I would like, just to figure out if this or that gives advantage, or a plus, and how big the plus is.

What I don't understand, is why have 2 systems for the same thing?  If you're going to use some numerical penalties/bonuses, why not scrap the advantage/disadvantage system, and just stick with bonuses/penalties?  If you really want to simplify the math, why not eliminate numerical bonuses/penalties altogether?




I agree and feedback after feedback I've pointed out the gradual creep of small modifiers and reminded them that one of their goals was to eliminate them.

There are ways to get around some of them.  Rather than damage bonuses, I'd rather see increased die sizes.  I like the partial advantage mechanism (roll a d12 and a d20).

I like one of the ideas floated in earlier threads about adding dice to the roll (as works now for expertise dice) = and if you have multiple sources of a bonus you throw multiple bonus dice and keep the best (raising the average increase from the bonus but not raising the maximum possible value  = which works far better with BA).


The problem is that the easy way is to just do it the way it was done before.  I'd rather see some creative thinking applied to those game elements that currently offer a numerical bonus.

Perhaps the various spells which currently grant a bonus instead allow you to roll a d4 and add them to the die roll.  If you have many sources, you roll many dice - but you only use the best one so you aren't adding more than 4, ever.  BA remains bowed but unbroken and you don't have to worry about stacking creating problems as it did in prior editions.  And yet at the same time there is a point to finding additional sources of bonuses because you do see an improvement in your average.

You could even toss flanking into this category.  And enhancement bonuses to hit.

I'd even go along with tossing strength bonuses into the same category as well:  Maybe a 20 strength means you roll a d8 and add the result to your die roll;  and maybe each point of strength bonus just bumps your weapon die size up by one.

You can get rid of all numerical bonuses if you want to.  The question is:  How badly do we want to get rid of them all? 

Would you rather roll 1d12+5 or 1d12 + 1d8?  Or maybe 2d10 (depending on which approach you use)? Aside: Of course - the higher crit potential would probaby mean no more 'extra W die' on a crit - but that is a minor change.


Carl

The discussion here kinda ended up on what's the mathematical difference between a +/- bonus and rolling an extra dice.

But what I think the OP's point really is that they tried to remove all the +/- micro-management and replace it with a simpler, faster and more intuitive system... but somehow we're back to +/- micro-managing, and now we still have to consult the rules constantly to remember if something gives adv/disadv or +/-.


What I think happened was that they realized attacking a prone opponent, gave you the same benefit as attacking an opponent that is at the same time: prone, stunned, fatigued and whatever, while you are also hidden, surprising, on higher ground and whatever more.

So they decided they'd throw back in +/- so some conditionals and situationals could stack.
Which just made a bigger mess of trying to track bonuses and penalties for each roll.


They could easily solve that by simply leaving everything as disadv/adv but letting the dice stack.
Have 2 advantages? Roll 3d20.
Have 2 adv and 1 disadv? Roll 2d20.

It's easy to track how many things there are in the scene giving you some sort of advantage or disadvantage for a certain roll. Tracking what type of bonus or penalty you gain for each of them can become cumbersome and slow down the game.



Another idea could be something on the lines of what CarlT said.
We could have, perhaps, an Advantage give you +1d4 on the roll of a d20 (just like skill die), and if you get a second advantage you raise that d4 to a +1d6.
If somehow you get 1 disadvantage, this d6 goes back to a d4.
And so on.
I agree and feedback after feedback I've pointed out the gradual creep of small modifiers and reminded them that one of their goals was to eliminate them.

...
The problem is that the easy way is to just do it the way it was done before.  I'd rather see some creative thinking applied to those game elements that currently offer a numerical bonus.

Not only the 'easy way,' but the way that "feels like D&D" - also a major 5e goal. 


 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

It's easy to track how many things there are in the scene giving you some sort of advantage or disadvantage for a certain roll. Tracking what type of bonus or penalty you gain for each of them can become cumbersome and slow down the game.

I disagree with this, in that I see no difference between the difficulty in tracking sources and tracking every source of +2 or -2. The only thing that I like about the current Advantage system is that it allows me to look at a number of small modifiers (high ground, flanking, back to the sun) and quickly decide that the sum of their effects is equal to Advantage, or that the total sum of modifiers roughly cancel each other out.

If we get to a point where we're rolling five dice and counting the successes (slightly off topic, since we're not there quite yet), then the game honestly starts to feel more like... I dunno, Shadowrun or something. Funny note about Shadowrun, between 3E and 4E they went from a system of tracking both +/- dice and check DCs for every task, to a static DC for all tasks - they realized that, once you have multiple dice, you don't need multiple metrics for expressing the difficulty of a task.

That's really making the d20 system into something else entirely, though. Not that I would mind, of course, but it would be an overhaul on the same level as getting rid of classes.

The metagame is not the game.


Well, if ALL sources of disadv/adv give you a standard +2/-2 then, yeah, it's just as easy.

If this +/- varies randomly... +1 here -4 there +3 here again, and still some don't give +/- at all but more or less dice... then tracking them becomes tiresome.

Me? I'm all for +2/-2 for all adv/disadv instead of dice too. Probably will work just fine.
I was merely suggesting some ideas following the current approach of adding dice, just because it seems the direction in which things are headed with 5ed. 

Although, I'd probably use +4/-4 instead. I like circumstancial and strategical advantages/disadvantages to be really meaningful so that players will try to always seek some, and avoid the other, instead of just accepting the modifiers like "oh well, that's that, let just roll with the bonus or penalty". Also like conditions that affect a character to be more meaningful. That kinda stuff makes combat feel more real to me when I'm imagining a scene.
Advantage and disadvantage do something that bonuses and penalties can't:  they change the shape of the probability distribution.  That's the power, and that's their real purpose.

And they succeed at it.



I'm not sure it's the best course though.  Most people don't understand probability or it's power,  this may prove to be too hard to explain for the general public.  I'm all for better math,  but I also realize that you really should keep the math at a highschool level,  and let's be honest,  most highschool students don't understand probability at all.

I mean honestly,  ask the general public what the probability is of rolling a 1 twice in a row with a 6-sided die,  most people are going to be waaaay off. 
What I don't understand, is why have 2 systems for the same thing?  If you're going to use some numerical penalties/bonuses, why not scrap the advantage/disadvantage system, and just stick with bonuses/penalties?  If you really want to simplify the math, why not eliminate numerical bonuses/penalties altogether?



They can't eliminate numerical bonuses without losing a granularity and immersion. There's more than one degree of advantage and disadvantage. I wouldn't be surprised if the advantage/disadvantage mechanism disappeared because it's redundant with the mechanism.

Bonus d20 only make sense when you're using a system with die pools/success. D&D is not one of these games.
I actually really like the mix of 2d20 and occasional static bonuses like +1 from a Prayer spell, or whatever. I would like a few more +1 and +2 bonuses in fact (like high ground, flanking, etc).

But then i would also like another 5-8 points in the BA spread.
What I don't understand, is why have 2 systems for the same thing?  If you're going to use some numerical penalties/bonuses, why not scrap the advantage/disadvantage system, and just stick with bonuses/penalties?  If you really want to simplify the math, why not eliminate numerical bonuses/penalties altogether?



They can't eliminate numerical bonuses without losing a granularity and immersion. There's more than one degree of advantage and disadvantage. I wouldn't be surprised if the advantage/disadvantage mechanism disappeared because it's redundant with the mechanism.

Bonus d20 only make sense when you're using a system with die pools/success. D&D is not one of these games.


I guess that's sort of my point.

It's as if they came up with advantage with the hopes of removing numerical bonuses, and then realized that advantage was too powerful and they need something smaller so went back to numerical bonuses.  That's fine, but why have redundant systems.  I've yet to see a good explanation as to why we need advantage, as opposed to a numerical bonus of relatively similar value (aside from the designers original reasoning that they want to eliminate small numerical bonuses, which they have obviously bailed on).

I never had a problem with numerical bonuses (at least until the point where there became an unmanageable large number of them), it is after all D&D, and has worked for years.  However the idea of eliminating them entirely in favor of a dice system really appealed to me.  I'm with CarlT on this, and think with a little creativity, they could come up with a cool solution that fit with the advantage mechanic.
I never had a problem with numerical bonuses (at least until the point where there became an unmanageable large number of them), it is after all D&D, and has worked for years.  However the idea of eliminating them entirely in favor of a dice system really appealed to me.  I'm with CarlT on this, and think with a little creativity, they could come up with a cool solution that fit with the advantage mechanic.



I don't really have a problem with the small bonuses that stack either. That's just how D&D works.

There's a potential "balance" issue though. If they want to make an RPG that is more game than simulationist, then having a flat bonus for "combat advantage" that is the same regardless of the number of sources of advantage is fine (it's a board game after all). If they want to make the game more simulationist, then bonuses stack and **** it if a fight becomes too easy because you were clever enough to get those bonuses. If the bonuses come from tactical choices such as flanking, outnumbering your opponent, or attacking from behind and not from half a dozen buffs that last all day like in 3rd edition, it should be a lot of fun.

Another idea could be to have multiple levels of advantage. If you have advantage from one source: +1 to hit, 2 sources: +2 to hit, 4 sources: +3 to hit, 8 sources: +4 to hit, etc... In other words, the bigger the bonus, the more sources of advantage you need.

I don't think the designers are not trying to be creative. The game designers aren't clueless about stastics. They know the weaknesses of the d20 but they're stuck with it. D&D would be a better game with die pools or 3d6 but it wouldn't be D&D.

As for Carl's suggestion, it feels more like a patch to the d20 system. The d20 system is statistically inferior but the strength of the system is that it's simple. Roll a single die and roll as high as you can. If you start determining success using multiple die rolls, you lost the added value of the d20 system and you're still statistically inferior to other systems. You might as well ditch the d20 and roll 3d6. The 4th edition designers had the balls to throw away 90% of 30 years of D&D traditions but even they didn't dare get rid of the d20. So what can you do other than suck it up and use the d20?
Advantage and disadvantage do something that bonuses and penalties can't:  they change the shape of the probability distribution.  That's the power, and that's their real purpose.

And they succeed at it.



I'm not sure it's the best course though.  Most people don't understand probability or it's power,  this may prove to be too hard to explain for the general public.  I'm all for better math,  but I also realize that you really should keep the math at a highschool level,  and let's be honest,  most highschool students don't understand probability at all.

I mean honestly,  ask the general public what the probability is of rolling a 1 twice in a row with a 6-sided die,  most people are going to be waaaay off. 



Why does your average casual gamer even need to know about the underlying distribution? That's something the designers should be worrying about.

Anyway, maybe it will motivate people to actually learn some basic probability theory.
The only slight modifiers I have found are cover and prone. Can you give other examples? While I enjoy the simplicity of the current ADV/DISAD system, I have used another idea.

Lesser Advantage +2
Greater Advantage +5
Total Advantage +10

Being prone may grant Lesser Adv
Being Dazed may grant Greater Adv
Being Blind may grant Total Adv   

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

Advantage and disadvantage do something that bonuses and penalties can't:  they change the shape of the probability distribution.  That's the power, and that's their real purpose.

And they succeed at it.



I'm not sure it's the best course though.  Most people don't understand probability or it's power,  this may prove to be too hard to explain for the general public.  I'm all for better math,  but I also realize that you really should keep the math at a highschool level,  and let's be honest,  most highschool students don't understand probability at all.

I mean honestly,  ask the general public what the probability is of rolling a 1 twice in a row with a 6-sided die,  most people are going to be waaaay off. 



Why does your average casual gamer even need to know about the underlying distribution? That's something the designers should be worrying about.

Anyway, maybe it will motivate people to actually learn some basic probability theory.



The only reason the player/DM/user needs to know about the underlying distribution is so that the game mechanic reliably behaves as they intended. Videogame RPG's frequently have a similar problem where an item or power mechanic is described in one way but in truth behaves differently, causing a disconnect between the information that the player is deciding with and what is actually happening.

The designers should be concerned about the probability distribution, but I don't see much evidence that they really take probability into consideration. Likewise, while gaming is one the reasons I became a statistician, I don't encounter many gamers or game designers who have much grasp of the subject. Dice Pools didn't make most gamers and designers better at binomials so I don't think Advantage is going to motivate many people to start studying statistics.
The only slight modifiers I have found are cover and prone. Can you give other examples? While I enjoy the simplicity of the current ADV/DISAD system, I have used another idea.

Lesser Advantage +2
Greater Advantage +5
Total Advantage +10

Being prone may grant Lesser Adv
Being Dazed may grant Greater Adv
Being Blind may grant Total Adv   



This is not a bad mechanic, but the increasing marginal utility of greater advantage and total advantage will further incentivize stacking more than a straight linear combination. I had a similar but inversed system in 3.5 until 4e came along:

1 Source of Bonus: +3
2 Sources of Bonus: +5
3 Sources of Bonus: +6

With this system the player gets the most benefit from the first source of Advantage, and slightly less from each additional source. This diminishing geometric scale became the basis of my advancement system for other rpgs. 
Idle curiousity:  Given that Next is ostensibly trying not to flood the game with static modifiers, is there any room or need in the system for giving the advantage/disadvantage mechanic to rolls other than d20 ability checks?

A cleric buff that grants advantage on a weapon damage die, for instance, with the caveat only one such die may be rolled twice from any given source.  Another fun example might be a bard song that grants skill die advantage to other characters.

Are there any escalating problems that might stem from this?

I'd like to houserule those type of buffs and debuffs as 'Adamage and Disadamage'.  Tongue Out
Ironblue-
our group did not like the roll two skill die mechanic for the Rogue in the last packet. the more dice (or multiple stacking modifiers) tends to slow the pacing of the game down. I would rather see the die type increase so as to keep the flow of the game. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

There are other ways to express numerical bonuses. We have seen several implementations that raise the floor (and therefore the average) without raising the ceiling. Things that guarantee a minimum result on the die or a minimum total result.

But there is another way to go that is harder from a design perspective, but might be more satisfying in the long run. You can express a benefit in a way that is not a simple modifier. For example, instead of bless giving a +1 to several different things, it could grant each recipient a single re-roll during the duration of the spell.  Or it could grant resistance to the next successful hit. In other words, create effects that are more evocative based on what is generating the effect.

The problem is DnD has lots and lots of fiddly little bonuses that do not interact with the rest of the system. 4E had the same issue with its at-will powers and some of its daily powers.

The key is to subordinate the modifiers into the condition system. There should be no modifier that does not reference a condition in some way. This also goes along with the corollary that the condition system needs to be made more streamlined and integrated with the rest of the game. 
This is not a bad mechanic, but the increasing marginal utility of greater advantage and total advantage will further incentivize stacking more than a straight linear combination. I had a similar but inversed system in 3.5 until 4e came along:

1 Source of Bonus: +3
2 Sources of Bonus: +5
3 Sources of Bonus: +6

With this system the player gets the most benefit from the first source of Advantage, and slightly less from each additional source. This diminishing geometric scale became the basis of my advancement system for other rpgs. 

Are you talking about this mechanic purely in terms of 5E, where  something either grants Advantage or does not? Because compared to 3.5, you're missing out on the granularity of individual effects (i.e. the advantage against a prone target should be greater than the advantage from flanking should be greater than holding the high ground); or are you fine with sacrificing that detail in the name of simplifying gameplay?

Personally, I just went with an 8-point cap on circumstances; it's still 2 points for flanking, 4 against a prone target, and 4 if they're squeezed, but the sum of your bonuses to hit and their penalties to AC can never exceed +8 (or -8, if the attacker has a ton of penalties, and the defender has the high ground).

The metagame is not the game.

This is not a bad mechanic, but the increasing marginal utility of greater advantage and total advantage will further incentivize stacking more than a straight linear combination. I had a similar but inversed system in 3.5 until 4e came along:

1 Source of Bonus: +3
2 Sources of Bonus: +5
3 Sources of Bonus: +6

With this system the player gets the most benefit from the first source of Advantage, and slightly less from each additional source. This diminishing geometric scale became the basis of my advancement system for other rpgs. 

Are you talking about this mechanic purely in terms of 5E, where  something either grants Advantage or does not? Because compared to 3.5, you're missing out on the granularity of individual effects (i.e. the advantage against a prone target should be greater than the advantage from flanking should be greater than holding the high ground); or are you fine with sacrificing that detail in the name of simplifying gameplay?

Personally, I just went with an 8-point cap on circumstances; it's still 2 points for flanking, 4 against a prone target, and 4 if they're squeezed, but the sum of your bonuses to hit and their penalties to AC can never exceed +8 (or -8, if the attacker has a ton of penalties, and the defender has the high ground).




The above system wasn't meant to replace all bonuses, just the bonuses from flanking and prone, along with the penalties from flatfooted. Essentially, I threw the above together after I read an early article about the idea of Combat Advantage. Eventually it replaced most standard circumstantial modifiers, but not the bonuses given out by items, feats, class features, or spells. So there's not much change in granularity since most circumstantial bonuses in 3.5 were +/-2. Mostly the system just front-loads the bonuses from situational tactics and caps the benefits to +6.
Sign In to post comments