"DEFAULT" 5th ed... a problem...

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Hi, I live in a small town, there are about 20 RPG players total. most play 1 home game, and occasionally show at game night at the town's single gaming store commonly while inbetween campaigns or durring breaks in their regular home sessions.

Right now "Pathfinder" is really the only RPG people are playing.

When you say "I want to run a game, I've chosen to only use the core book rules, and I dont allow use of the Advanced players guide, Advanced race guide, etc. which are all considered 'optional' by their definitions..."

The players are not interested in playing, choosing instead to only play in games where the "default" of using all the books where all classes, archtypes, and official feats are allowed, even if the DM running the game may not be as tallented.

This is a worry for me and D&D 5e, the designers are stating that "we are giving you the tools to run any kind of game you and your players want"

while at the same time saying "but we will have an official default set of rules that we assume most DM's will follow" 

that means if I want to run a lower magic game, or choose to use some optional rules or not use some rules I dont like... my game is not considered a "standard" or "default" game. which will make it harder for me to find players.   

Instead, I think there should be no "default" D&D game, 5e should assume that every DM will choose to run their game in slightly different ways.

Further, it was mentioned in the Gen-Con pannel, that there is going to be some kind of checklist telling players exactly what rules the DM plans to use for the players to easily choose between games they want to play in, and games they dont.

that only increases the problem if you want to attempt to get players to try something something non-standard.
I remember when a player at Gen-Con mentioned that he had never tried running an encounter without minatures, but loved it once he tried it and plans to use "no minature encounters" in the game he runs...

it made me wonder... if "minatures every encounter" was the standard... would that guy have ever played in a game without them? ever learned how quick and cool it is not to use minis for every encounter?
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Well first of all... with 5e I do use minis every encounter, even none combat encounters

Second, I think the optional modules are better for the majority of people. As a DM its your job to run a game as enjoyable as possible for your players while still having fun yourself, from the sounds of it, people arent playing because you want to play your way and your way only.

D&D is a baked potato, you order that fine and well and everyone knows what your getting, but the toppings are to each persons preference, try not to force your players to take beans when they want cheese!

Eugh... never write posts when your hungry. 


Eugh... never write read posts when your hungry. 



Fixed.

That's the crux of the biscuit, isn't it?


The huge weakness to all this module stuff is there will be situations where the social norm won't mesh with the desires of everyone.


It's a social problem though. My suggestion would be to present an adventure as a "just to see" kind of adventure and as they buy into it you can ease the group into the idea that actually you're having fun with some restrictions going on.



Eugh... never write read posts about being hungry when you're hungry. 



Fixed.



Double fixed


Perhaps instead of a default, there could be various standard settings of modules and rules.

"I want to start a game. D&D Next Heroic Standard or Basic Rules."

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

The problem with no default is you are basically saying to every 10-12 year old kid who picks up the rules for the first time, "You must spend days, if not weeks, learing all the implications of module choices, choose what modules you will use, and only then can you begin to have fun with this game."  Being that new, and especially young players are the future of this brand and hobby, it doesn't seem to make much sense to alienate them entirely in favor of established gamers.  In spite of being a game for 33 years, I very much want to see a default ruleset, which it is made clear you can tinker with as much as you want, or not if that is your preference.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I think people (mostly) agree that you need some kind of default, I think the worry is that if you're in a place where nobody is willing to accept that as a starting point then you could be in a situation where you're stuck learning all the interactions anyway, whether you want to or not.
There are always going to be special cases, but overall, even with Pathfinder, players and the DM choose what they want to play in regard to the various rulebooks, etc. The bigger problem is finding a DM to run a game, versus getting players to play it. So the emphasis should be on giving the DM the tools and options. Gaming groups are social cliques where the more dominant members are going to push their preferences, and regardless of the options you are going to get into disagreements.

I expect 5E's biggest problem will be edition wars, and that can not be avoided even with default options, because each of us holds a certain version of D&D close to our heart.
Default ≠ Core



Core is the core rules that everyone uses.

The core rules can require players to choose which modules they want to use.

“Default” is what happens if they refuse to make any choices.



It is like winning a baseball game by default because the other team never showed up, so no game ever happened. It isnt supposed to be the way the game works, but it is what happens if nothing happens.
I agree with Haldrik.  I also have no problem with saying - choose a healing system that suits your groups playstyle.  If you are unsure we recommend you try the first one in the book (which is perhaps middle of the road).

As for the OP, it is true that people have people problems.  You are in an area where everyone is focused in on one playstyle.  That is too bad but I'm not sure D&D can fix that.  I mean you have that right now in Pathfinder.  Pathfinder default in your area is what everyone is playing.  Even if not labeled as such.   I think it would behoove WOTC to avoid one single default.  

Here is perhaps how I'd do it...
1.  Red Box default - the beginner set chooses the simplist and easiest for beginners default.
2.  Core 3 book default - maybe this is for those people a bit more advanced than red box kids on their own.
3.  Campaign Setting defaults - different settings can be more or less "gritty" and have different magic systems.

Of course the default is designed to be changed in any situation for those that know how and want to make the changes.
 
to Kalex- but they specifically said in the Gen Con pannel, that the game was NOT being written with the assumption that it is being sold to 12 yr olds who have never heard of an RPG, they are introducing online guides to help new players and DMs with those sort of things, not muddling up the core books with repetitive simplistic explanations and examples of play. thats something I'm VERY happy about.

to Uchawi- but lack of DM's isnt the problem in my area, it also wasnt the problem when I lived on a tiny island in alaska... the problem was and is a lack of gamers in general in these small towns. Its also a problem that you cant build a bad rep as a player or a Dm or else you wont be playing or DMing anywhere, running a "non default" game may build that rep if people dont get used to the new idea and love it pretty quick....

To Haldrick- well if thats the situation, then I could deal with that... IE if they arent saying that a magic level (high magic) is a default level, or that lethality is not a default level, but from what I've seen and read most of those things ARE set and its the rule modules that alter it. 

btw when you say "players" do you mean everyone playing the game, or do you mean that the players of player characters (IE not the DM) are the people who decide what rules are used?!?! I sure hope the latter isnt the case... really I think the DM should have complete agency on what rules are used as well as how, why, and when they are applied.

btw I now ate two baked potatos today... half way through second one I ran out of sour cream and had to use ranch dressing... ugg... I hate you guys.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I guess the question is, what do you want to do about it? As other people have said, there in essence HAS to be some sort of default for everything. Regardless of if DDN isn't written for newbies it effectively DOES need to be intelligible and understandable and playable by anyone. Even if WotC doesn't try to do that the community probably will. There will be some sort of organized play, and modules are simply going to HAVE to make some assumptions. I'm just not sure what you want to do. I mean it is a deep problem, because the question here is really "what is D&D" and if the answer is "anything" then the answer is also pretty close to "nothing". I'm not sure WotC is actually wise to make a game that tries to be many different games wrapped up in one. I'm not even sure they're smart to make ANOTHER interpretation of D&D.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
that only increases the problem if you want to attempt to get players to try something something non-standard.


I don't see how it increases the problem.  The problem always exists.  If the players don't want to try nonstandard fare, then that's going to be true regardless of the game.  

The issue seems to be your worry that the "standard" won't be the precise standard you want.  But I really don't see any game system that can have a default for everyone.  The best it can do is present options and hope people will want to try those options.
This is why I suggest multiple default collections of modules.

One for low magic fantasy, one for high magic superheroic, non for gritty no magic,

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

The issue seems to be your worry that the "standard" won't be the precise standard you want.



And this right here is the source of basically all complaints and suggestions and unfounded assertions and assumptions about defaults.

When they've stated repeatedly, clearly, and in no uncertain terms:  that's not the kind of system they want to make.

Yes, people.  D&D has never been designed like that in the past.  That doesn't mean it can't be done.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
This wording seems perfect:

Choose a healing system that suits your groups playstyle.  If you are unsure we recommend you try the first one in the book (which is perhaps middle of the road).



The intention is about as clear as possible. The rules convey, all of these systems are “official” and “legal” - and “core”. At the same time, to help avoid possible decision paralysis, the core “recommends” a default  (here a system because it is traditional or easy or moderate) for those who are unsure.




Also, I think, settings listing different defaults is a great idea.       
Why do we need the last sentence that you quoted?

Why can't we leave it as "Choose race.  Choose class.  Choose healing style.  Choose casting style.  Choose magic item rarity.  Choose campaign setting.  Choose background.  Choose specialty."


Why are people so afraid of there not being a "right" way to play?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Why do we need the last sentence that you quoted?

Because most people do.

 

A default example gives players a sense of what is possible and where to begin if not fully understanding all of the options.

Also, most players wont care about all of the options. They will just go with the default for most of the options, but then choose carefully the option that they do care about.



Default has nothing to do with “right” or “wrong”, it has to do with convenience.          

Sometimes what most people want isn't what should be done.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Ok, but in a game that literally has THOUSANDS of options. A default should be done!
No.  It harms the game, and is against the stated goals of Next.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
No.  It harms the game, and is against the stated goals of Next.



Well, lets see how you resolve problems without a default.



Three newbies pick up the “5e Core Rulebook”, this book has all the rules for both the DM and the players, and is boxed with a sample Forgotten Realms adventure, dice, and tokens.

These newbies have no clue yet what a “healing system” is, or why they would need one. Much less know which one their group prefers.

How should they start playing?
Oh god, they have to talk to each other and think about things!!!  And then maybe try things out to see if they like it or not!

THE HORROR



No, seriously.  They read the sections on healing, and the guidance provided.  This assumption that WotC is just going to throw systems at the wall and hope people figure it out absent any guidance is just silly.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Oh god, they have to talk to each other and think about things!!!  And then maybe try things out to see if they like it or not!

THE HORROR



No, seriously.  They read the sections on healing, and the guidance provided.  This assumption that WotC is just going to throw systems at the wall and hope people figure it out absent any guidance is just silly.



Think about thousands and thousands of things!

That is the exact opposite of what they need to do to learn!

They need to focus on narrative actions. Not thousands and thousands of rules!




They dont know how to play! They dont know yet what they like or dont like! They dont know what it means yet. Or what the unexpected ramifications and combos will be.
Well, lets see how you resolve problems without a default.



Three newbies pick up the “5e Core Rulebook”, this book has all the rules for both the DM and the players, and is boxed with a sample Forgotten Realms adventure, dice, and tokens.

These newbies have no clue yet what a “healing system” is, or why they would need one. Much less know which one their group prefers.

How should they start playing?



Quick answer?  They don't.  They put the book back on the shelf, and buy Pathfinder, or any of the dozens of other games that have default rulesets and will allow them to play today, instead of next week.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

What's wrong with expecting people to read the book?


Also:  the lack of a default in the core system, this is not the same thing as saying there shouldn't be something like the Red Box.  If you really must have a thing for raw newbies, while assuming they're dumb as posts and incapable of figuring things out for themselves (not correct), then you can have it.

But there's no reason to damage the rest of the system in doing so.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Because they dont understand it. It is technical and meaningless unless they already understand the context that it refers to. It is like reading a verbal description instead of a picture. It never really helps you understand what the picture looks like. The more extreme the detail of the description, the more unhelpful it becomes. The only way to see the picture is to see the picture.

The only way to understand D&D is to play it.

It is like buying a product that requires complex assembly. You have to reduce the instructions to pictures like traffic signs.

The opposite of complicated.
I suppose, the default can include four options to choose from.

After all, races have four default: Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. The “fifth race” is “something else”.

Classes have four default: Wizard with Cleric, Fighter with Rogue. The “fifth class” is “something else”.

Four options per module might be doable, but even just race and class can be overwhelming if players dont understand how the game works yet.
So tell them the context.

People don't understand what Athas is, but here's the thing:  we have a whole book devoted to explaining it!  And why they should play it, and the sorts of games that playing in it will encourage and the sorts that will discourage.

The only way to fully understand D&D is to play it, but you can get a lot from the, you know, words that they put in the books, that go with the mechanics.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
You mean, add even MORE words that they have to understand ... in order to understand?
OH GOD WORDS

we can't make them have to read!   Then they'll never buy it!
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Thousands and thousands.

Heh, I assume, you are not, nor ever have been, a technical writer.
I look at it in a similar vein to New World of Darkness.  The core book lays out the core rules of the game, but that's it. It's then up to the individual groups to go buy Vampire or Geist or Hunter (etc.) and play with that combination of rules (core + specifics). I have no doubt that the 5E PHB will contain the core classes and races along with standard equipment and so on. It will then be up to the individual groups to add whatever they want to those core rules. Perhaps like 2E did it...you buy the PHB and DMG, then decide if you want to add the Compelte Book of Elves, Complete Fighter's Handbook, and so on to supplement the core. I really think people might be getting themselves worked up over what might amount to be no more than what we've been doing this whole time.
I am a technical writer actually.  And I expect anyone who's worth conveying information to to be comfortable with having to read words, yes.

You really don't have a problem with designing the game for people who are dumber than posts?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Mand, maybe a solution is the setting. Each setting can select its own list of defaults. (You dont have to use these defaults, they are simply the ones tha authors choose when setting the tone for the setting.)

This “boxed Core Rulebook set” will come with a Forgotten Realms adventure. Maybe this adventure can recommend which options to use. Classes, races, magical system, healing system, and so on.  
I am a technical writer actually.  And I expect anyone who's worth conveying information to to be comfortable with having to read words, yes.

You really don't have a problem with designing the game for people who are dumber than posts?



Not an entire book, when only a “getting starting” pamphlet is necessary!
As I said, there's nothing in this that prevents there being a Red Box equivalent.

But your argument as to why this should be included in the full system is just completely baffling.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Why do we need the last sentence that you quoted?

Why can't we leave it as "Choose race.  Choose class.  Choose healing style.  Choose casting style.  Choose magic item rarity.  Choose campaign setting.  Choose background.  Choose specialty."


Why are people so afraid of there not being a "right" way to play?



I think for totally new players some guidance should be given.  But for experienced groups the default won't matter much.  Choose what you want.   Of course the living campaigns will need some things preselected.

 
Why do we need the last sentence that you quoted?

Why can't we leave it as "Choose race.  Choose class.  Choose healing style.  Choose casting style.  Choose magic item rarity.  Choose campaign setting.  Choose background.  Choose specialty."


Why are people so afraid of there not being a "right" way to play?



I think for totally new players some guidance should be given.  But for experienced groups the default won't matter much.  Choose what you want.   Of course the living campaigns will need some things preselected.

 



There's a big, big difference between guidance and default.  There needs to be guidance.  Lots of it.  It's the only way this build-your-own-D&D system is going to work.  But that doesn't mean we need to say "here, this way of playing has the perception of being better than others, so we think you should use it because it's better."

Guidance means explaining the impact, and letting people decide what to do for themselves.  Default means picking things for them, and arguing over which should be the default is the primary form of edition wars in these forums.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I want D&D to become mainstream. That means, making things as simple as possible, and avoiding things that radically alienate the majority of the population.
I want D&D to become mainstream. That means, making things as simple as possible, and avoiding things that radically alienate the majority of the population.


And if you destroy the core design principles in the process, it won't become mainstream because it'll fail.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition