Content of the article: "Exploration doesn’t need more player features! What we need is more resources for DMs to create interesting environments."
So in a lot of discussions about the ranger recently, there seems to be some discontentment about exploration, and specifically it mentions that this isn't a developed pillar of the game.
But this just isn't true relative to other parts of the game. There are dozens of spells that deal with exploration, many skills that may be useful in an exploration context, and mechanics available to attrition players (damage, conditions, and exhaustion.) What we get on top of this however is a few always on abilities that "negate" a lot of mundane exploration, like the outlander background, or the ranger's natural explorer. (Personally i would be happy if these features went the way of the dinosaur.) Exploration isn't any less detailed than the Social pillar in the rules, and players arguably have even more ways to interact with it.
The difference however is the tools a DM has to build these encounters. I have hundreds of PC option and Monsters stat blocks to pull inspiration from for NPC, dozens of tables for inspiration, names, goals, dozens of pages on cities, towns and cultures and what they look like.
For exploration we get mundane survival rules (which I agree we need), travel rules (which I agree we need) and random monster encounter tables (which are also nice). As a DM, building exploration is definitely where I have to work hardest as a DM to buile something players want to interact with.
I'd lump the rough complaints about exploration into two rough categories 1. Exploration should be harder/more nitty gritty. And 2. Exploration isn't interesting.
To address 1. I don't disagree that in 5e it is hard to create a scenario where players are tight on rations and vulnerable to the elements. However, given that 5e is designed fundamentally as a high fantasy game, I think creating fantastical environments that challenge players is more effective than trying to "bring players down" in power level. (I might also suggest that there are rest varients and things that can up the challenge in this regard in a big way too) .
- I TOTALLY agree. The PHB and DMG largely treat the DnD world like a mundane world that happens to have some magical monsters and humans in it.
SOLUTION: We need tools to make environments interesting!
I don't necessarily think we need terrain "statblocks" as was published in UA long ago, but just really extensive lists of things that exist in environments would go a LONG way. Ghosts of Saltmarsh was a great start in this regard. It described magical storms, other ships, nautical encounters! Whirlpools! Islands! Magical fog! Etc. It was SO easy to just insert so much of what was in that book into my home game.
For each "terrain" give me a list of 10 interesting plants/fungas/wierd rocks that may exist, noxious pollens, resourcescthat are valuable, dangerous to eat, Give different kinds of natural hazards cliffs, swamp gas, rock slides, quick sand! , andxmagical wheather, shrines, ruins, puzzles, and npcs i might encounter! We have an ENTIRE book monsters, and a LOT about how to make dungeons and traps interestins. Lets give DMs more tools for building dynamic environments!
- When you realize D&D is a resource management game, the week long rest just makes the most sense.
- Assigning Ability Scores to environments
- A cure for repeated resting that doesn’t change the rules
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