Content of the article: "Pitfalls of 5e?"
Hello. I've been DMing 5e on-and-off for a few years, mostly running homebrew campaigns. After looking back at the games I've run, I noticed my groups frequently run into the same issues. I'm thinking of hacking on some systems to try improving things, but I wanted to start by stepping back and seeing what issues other people may be having, too.
As an example, here are some of the things my groups have run into:
- Backgrounds- The feats and choices made during character creation rarely seem to make a difference. It may influence how they play their character, but there's no real chance to flex being a merchant's son or a blacksmith's apprentice. Using their skills during Downtime doesn't feel rewarding, and tool proficiency rarely does much. Since magic item distribution is entirely up the DM's discretion, there isn't very much players buy after they get their starting gear, apart from healing potions and eventually Plate Armor. Similarly, tool proficiency and background rarely seem to come up. I've seen players frequently wanting to play a Blacksmith, but there's not really much chance for them to seek out uses of their skills unless it is worked in.
- Gold – Magic items are entirely up to the DM, and players rarely seek to buy anything apart from healing potions and plate armour. By mid-levels, there isn't much to spend it on, unless they want to place a larger focus on running a caravan or inn instead of dungeoneering.
- Healing – There's a strong incentive to never heal an ally above 0HP due to the similar power of attacks vs. heals and the lack of penalty to being revived.
- Damage Types – Bludgeoning, Slashing, and Piercing damage aren't differentiated enough. Skeletons and Oozes are the only ones that interact with it off the top of my head for low-level creatures, and the mid-level creatures with non-magical resistance/immunity tend to have it apply to all three types. The elemental magic has a bit more variety, but it still feels relatively rare to have it come up.
- "Disliked" Systems – Players largely want to do away with stuff like tracking rations, ammunition, and carrying capacity, because the first two are simply moving numbers up and down, while the latter involves going through every piece of gear you have and knowing the weight of everything you pick up. However, tracking rations boosts the value of Rangers/Survival-based characters, and carrying capacity is one of the major uses for STR (an 8STR character often has trouble carrying even their starting gear).
- Stat Imbalance – DEX is useful more often than any other stat, and CHA either artificially gates half the game (talking to people) or rarely comes up at all (if allowing skills to be matched to other ability scores by situation).
There are some other things that come up relatively often for me (e.g. a player wanting grappling to be buffed, or a player being disappointed by low-roll crits), but I figure the list is long enough as-is. So, what kind of things come up at your tables? Have you found anything you thought was an issue with the system, and did you do something to change it or just learn to live with (or without) it?
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