Content of the article: "Why am I more frustrated with 5e than I was with 3.5? (mild rant/nostalgia goggles/old man yells at cloud)"
It isn't a worse game. Heck, even with all the inconsistencies 5e has, it's almost certainly a better game mechanically than 3.5 was. I remember going out for doughnuts during the Thri-keen shuriken thrower's turn and coming back 20 minutes later for it still to be his turn. (I think he had 64 attacks leading into in a theoretical total of over a thousand dice rolled.) I was a bigger rules-lawyering powergamer back then too, as was most of the group at the time.
Over the years, I drifted away from that kind of powergaming, and D&D as well. More from lack of variety than any beef with the game; ten years of D&D is a lot, and there's a lot of other cool stuff out there that deserves a try. Some of my best memories of the hobby are D&D, mostly 3.5 and 4th, the latter of which I had some very memorable and fun campaigns in.
So I've had a nice break from heroic fantasy games to clear my palate, and 5e is certainly not a bad game, and probably better than 3.5 or 4 in a lot of ways. But every time I sit down and consider designing a campaign to run in it as a change of pace from my usual (Trail/Call of Cthulhu, 2d20 games like STA and Conan, or Savage Worlds), I find myself frustrated with my 5e experiences and the number of house rules I'd want to put in place to avoid the things I dislike about the system and let me focus on the parts I like.
Yo-yo healing, where people bounce up and down out of incapacitating injuries because actual healing isn't action efficient in the least. Rest periods where people get up, fight a battle, and hike for half an hour in the middle of resting. Spells written in a way that either conflict with the balance of everything else in the game (pass without trace) or hurt to think about (attacking out of tiny hut while being invulnerable). Multiclassing as a whole undermines most classes as character theme in favor of collecting a flavorless but potent grab bag of synergy.
I don't want to run a game whose big strength is combat just to have encounters trivialized with an OP spell or two. I don't want my attempts at interesting gameplay situations trivialized by absurdly powerful class or race features. I also don't want one person's OP build to render half the party irrelevant.
Part of this is because I'm a bad DM, I get that. Lack of experience running a classic fantasy game compared to other genres (investigative, survival, pulp, etc) is part of it; I can write a better fantasy story than plan a fantasy game. System familiarity also feels like an issue; any time I think I have an idea to make the game more interesting out of combat, either it's something a player has an instant yet dull answer for (food shortage? I just use my background that lets me automatically feed five people, no roll or skills or roleplay required) or they don't even have a way of interacting with it on their character sheet (and something about newer versions of D&D leads people to assume if it isn't on their sheet with a +10, they probably can't even try it). I hop on here and read up a few posts, and most of the discussion seems to be character optimization that strikes me like broccoli: no issue with other people enjoying it, but I don't want it at my table.
Should I give up and move on from D&D and the classic fantasy genre in general? Is houseruling the game until I can run the sort of campaign I'd like viable, or am I just butchering a well-designed whole that loses out for being pared down? And is this the product of too much theorycrafting in my head as opposed to just playing it out with a group of people who probably aren't going to "ruin" the game with what I see as gratuitous powergaming?
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