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The stat generation methods, (roll, array, buy) would make more sense if the array option gave you one stat above and one stat below the point-buy range, but not a 20 or a 3. This would give 3 options of varying control. The more control you have, the lower your maximum stat can be; the less control you have- the more you gamble- the bigger the payoff could be. As it Is, rolling is just vestigial, and not well integrated with the whole chargen process.
Dexterity is still the god stat.
- Most frequent save type
- Initiative bonus
- Helps escape grapples
- Can provide attack and damage bonuses if built for it
- Provides AC bonus
- Stealth bonus
- Other stuff I can't remember off the top of my head.
No other ability score contributes so much to so many aspects of a character. It is never smart to use DEX as your dump stat.
Expertise, the double proficiency bonus, isn't an actual mechanic of the game, it's a mechanical component of a specific class feature. If it were part of the overall rules, and simply referenced by game content, then it could see use in many aspects of the game and increase the system's flexibilty.
Object interactions. If you disengage from an enemy and retreat through a closed door, you can not close it behind yourself without action surge. This distinction is so poorly presented, it looks like fluff until you realize it is tied to a boxed list of object interaction examples, one of which is *drawing and sheathing weapons*. This means that unless you allow feats, a dual wielder takes 2 rounds to draw his weapons, and even with feats they can't do it until level 4, unless they play a variant human.
1 HP still means "good to go". The original idea, that a low HP will encourage players to act like an injured creature due to the threat of death, doesn't work. Most players will attack whatever they perceive to be an enemy, and fight it to the death on the principle of it being an enemy- then get angry at the DM when their character dies. HP simply fails to represent injury.
Feats being an optional rule as a whole. Everything about it is so encouraged and assumed by the rest of the rules, it might as well just be core. Same with multiclassing. The rules just assume you allow and use those options, and gameplay gets stiff and awkward without them.
Iconic acts of heroism for any type of character being locked behind the feat paywall. If you run out of ideas for feats, leave it be. Don't drain basic shit from character effectiveness to artificially bloat the list with mandatory "I am an adventurer" feats.
The variant human. What the hell does it even represent? A different ethnic group? A playtest subrace that wasn't fully implemented? Why not just give humans the subrace trait and make a subrace that gets an extra feat and skills? Make the feat/skills one an urban human and make the ability bonus one a wild-folk human.
Halfbreed races persist only out of tradition. They are vestigial. With the subrace mechanic, we could have represented hybridization of PC races by allowing a full race to take the subrace from another race. A half-elf would be a human with one of the elf subraces or an elf with a human subrace, for example. If every race had the subrace trait and a minimum of 1 subrace, then any type of hybrid could be possible, and every race would be more customizable by the DM. (Want a bunch of mechanically distinct human ethnicities? Make them as subraces!) No, we need half-orcs as a full race, because we're too pussy to defy Gygaxian tradition about orcs being inherently monstrous and humans being omnifertile intergalactic sluts. No Dwelfs for you! In fact, complex ideas like fiendish hybrids (tieflings) could be represented by providing a matching subrace for each fiend entry in the MM, and ilithids could be represented by replacing a creatures subrace with a specific ilithid subrace- no stat block required.
Spellcasting is still a massively overwhelming pile of counterintuitive weirdness that does not match the modern depiction of magic in fantasy fiction. How many people even remember Jack Vance for any reason OTHER than his influence on Gygax? Simply put: The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind already showed the world how to make a magic system. Just fix the math to work on dice and add the spell effects a computer can't handle. Then tell the DM they can either let players use the system directly or pre-build a spell list for their group. I don't need a bloated PHB full of individual spell descriptions for four classes that I don't even like in the first place.
We still have wildly powerful spellcasting classes compared to the mundies. Simply put: there is absolutely no way to balance a person whose only skill is to kill stuff against a person who can reshape reality to suit his whims. You just can't. Not without weaboo fightan magic. There is a reason for this: magic should belong to everyone in the fantasy setting, but spellcasters have been given a monopoly. As a result, not only all of the power, but all of the fun of magic, has been stolen away from everyone else and concentrated in the magi.
All of the items in the PHB have messed up weights. Just Google and Wikipedia can rapidly expose how incorrect the numbers are. Not that it matters though, because the encumbrance limits also don't match human capabilities at the 10 (average man) and 20 (world record) categories. If the numbers don't make any sense, and the consequence is that you lose tactical mobility, why would anyone ever use these rules?
The way downtime is supposed to work is unclear. Is it supposed to be a currency awarded to the players and spent on downtime activities, like in the AL? Or is it supposed to be a way of pre-calculating how many days of time need to be played out in order to complete a non-adventure task? Are days spent in bulk, or one at a time? Are separate instances of days spent calculated separately, or are they cumulative/continuous despite interruptions?
The component pouch comes pre-loaded with over a hundred spell ingredients, including things you can't possibly carry in a pouch, like smoke, or a ceramic container the size of a medium creature.
Spell descriptions and spell mechanics are muddled together. As a result, you get questions like, "can a character who lacks thumbs cast burning hands?" If mechanics and fluff were separate, we would know what parts of the spell actually matter, and what parts can be reskinned like a Hero System power.
The first flying race they introduced had 50ft of flying speed. It's like they were trying to sabotage the idea of a functional flying PC. If you didn't want a flying race, why publish one at all?
There are no rules to determine at what point "jumping down from a higher place to a lower one" becomes "falling a long way down".
There are no rules to determine how far you can throw anything except weapons that are meant to be thrown. Want to throw a potion to your injured friend? DM fiat. Want to throw a rock at an enemy's head as an improvised attack? DM fiat. Want to throw a grappling hook and rope to the top of a wall? DM fiat. No advice or guidance.
Halflings. They are hobbits. Just fucking counter-sue the Tolkien estate already. Dude's dead anyways, his work should have been public domain ages ago. We don't need any more copyright-squatting maggots in this world.
The hex scale system presented in the DMG is completely dysfunctional and arbitrary. It's like they wanted to make fun of hex-crawls by presenting hex-mapping in as confusing a manner as possible.
Diagonals on a square grid are equal length to orthogonals. Spheres and cubes are identical.
Perception is the god skill. Multiple rules depend on the perception skill. It is so broadly defined, it technically also covers situations that would otherwise call for investigation or insight. It is always a smart idea to take perception.
Unarmed combat is a waste of time unless you have the right class or feat. You can't have proficiency, and damage is forced to minimum. Unarmed strike was originally listed as a weapon, so the terminology of weapon attacks made sense. Now, an unarmed attack is a weapon attack that has no weapon.
Dual wielding is facilitated by a weapon trait, rather than dependent on weapon proficiency and physical ability.
The blind condition is remarkably mild.
The crafting downtime activity is a way of purchasing existing items with a 10% discount at a rate of 1 day per 10gp. You could spend YEARS working for that 10% discount on some items, but will amass enough wealth to just buy it at full cost with a few months of adventuring, so why bother? The crafting rules also provide no advice on how to design new weapons. Crafting is the only mechanic in the game that regresses to the "skills are keys that permit action" philosophy of 3.5e, while 5e is supposed to assume "everyone is skilled" with proficiency simply adding a bonus.
The resting mechanics are insane. A character at 1 HP is inches from death, but an 8 hour sleep is all he needs to get back to the action?! In reality, a person who is inches from death could take months or years to fully recover, possibly never actually recover, will likely never be the same if they do recover, and possibly even die during recovery. I get that making over a thousand rolls to determine your recovery progress would suck, but to reduce that to 8 hours of relaxation is just ridiculous.
Just what a spellcasting focus is, what can and can not be a focus, and why. Made worse because a staff is equivalent to a quarterstaff.
Most races have dark vision, when the only races with justification for it are dwarves and the fell subraces.
The light weapon trait has no relevance to actual weight.
Implicit setting elements baked into core rules, especially regarding the planar cosmology. You MUST have, bare minimum: material plane, demiplanes, etherial plane, astral plane, some number of inner planes, some number of outer planes, and the feywild and shadowfell. If you remove these planes from your cosmology, many aspects of the game begin to fall apart. Various creatures (elves, shadow dragons, ghosts, angels, fiends, modrons) either can't exist in your world, or need new justification. Many spells (etherialness, astral projection, demiplane, rope trick, contact outer plane, etc.) simply do not work without a corresponding plane.
Fall damage has a maximum die limit, and this limit is easily survivable by tier 3 characters. There's pretty much no explanation for that.
Lycanthropes are immune to non-magical weapons. No lycanthropes have magical attacks in their statblock.
Because disadvantage doesn't stack, shooting a bow at long range has the same penalty as being blind, poisoned, prone, grappled, or any combination of the above.
Poison deals 1d4 poison damage and costs 100gp.
Dexterity provides an initiative bonus and AC bonus for evasiveness, implying it is closely tied to physical speed, but has no impact on your actual speed.
Acrobatics proficiency has no consideration in the Rules for jump ranges.
Jump ranges are not scaled to match creature size, so a horse jumps no higher or farther than a strong human.
There is no mechanical difference between a battleaxe and longsword.
Shortbows are simple weapons but crossbows are martial because of damage output, not because of actual simplicity, which in this case should be reversed.
The barbarian is actually a berzerker/drunken fighter/trance warrior sort of thing. Barbarianism is a cultural affect and should be a background or archetype. Calling the class a barbarian limits the imagination of what it could represent, and makes it come across as a specialized fighter variant.
Being stealthy means a lot of page-flipping until you have all the little rules and exceptions memorized.
Disproportionate save frequency. You want dexterity or constitution as your save proficiencies. Strength is a close second for grappling situations. The mental abilities almost never come up, and are effectively irrelevant.
They missed a lot of really basic weapons in the PHB. Nunchucks, for example.
Religion is an INT skill, rather than WIS, so knowing your religion is actually somewhat at odds with being a cleric of that religion. You could justify this as being representative of an ignorant faith... But then medicine is a WIS skill and has little to do with intuition or awareness.
Spears do not have reach.
There are no reach weapon options for small characters, despite them being most likely to use such weapons.
Death saves take no modifier and have DC 10. You could just flip coins. Should have DC somehow based on severity of death, and CON mod should be relevant here to compete with the power of DEX.
There are no clear rules for collision physics. If a character falls and impacts another character, the best a DM could rule is either:
- Roll fall damage, both characters take same damage, or...
- Faller takes fall damage, while the landing pad takes improvised damage from the chart in the DMG based on the estimated size of the falling "object".
No rules exist to handle horizontal collisions, intentional or otherwise.
There is no conditional to handle people one-handing a two-handed weapon. The rule straight-up disallows attacks made in that state. It isn't disadvantage, it's flatly impossible.
CR is the most useless piece of arbitrary nonsense ever devised. Even the awesome of 5e couldn't fix it.
Fighting things, though the focus of the game, is a dreary chore, even with interesting environments, meaningful tactics, and descriptive play of combat checks.
Saves are just checks by a different name. What a waste. Could have been a revival of the roll-under mechanic with modifiers applying to the score rather than the roll. Le sigh.