member, 392 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 03:34
D&D 5E Input
After running freeform games for the last couple of years I've been looking at the stack of 5E books I've got here and thinking about putting together a game to take advantage of them. But I'm finding that other than using the rules themselves, I'm really not sure what I actually do with them.

So I thought I'd come here to get some input on what 5E players look for/are interested in and see if that sparked anything for me.

Level: I might do a 1 week long very abbreviated solo thread for each player at level 1 just to play out an iconic moment for players, then maybe have a short adventure at level 2, but I'd bump everyone up to level 3 pretty quickly since that's essentially the beginning of 5E now. I'm pretty solid on this point.

Setting: Do folks prefer to play in pre-made settings or do homebrew? I know Faerun, Ravnica and Eberron are the big ones. Do folks go seeking these out over homebrew, if so, what draws you to the premade settings? Or if you do like homebrew, why?

Style - Sandbox or Story Driven: Do D&D players prefer a clear cut story to follow, or prefer to be dropped in a world and follow a variety of hooks?

Combat: I'd be doing theater of the mind, managing maps digitally is just too much of a headache. The real question is how to handle combat itself. It's pretty vital to D&D, but it also bogs the game down. I'd be tempted to have players provide two rounds worth of rolls and actions in a single post to speed this up. Does anyone have any other ideas that they've experienced or used that worked well for keeping combat from grinding the game to a halt?

Thanks for any input! I really have no vision at all right now so any thoughts help!

This message was last updated by the user at 03:35, Fri 19 Mar.

Jewwk of Shuu
 member, 16 posts
 "I cast: Pro: Sandwich"
 GM: "But WHY?!"
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 03:52
D&D 5E Input
All of this is difficult to determine, as it all seems to boil down, essentially, to player preference.

What I might prefer could differ wildly from what others enjoy.

I'd suggest talking these things over with your potential players, so that you're tailoring the game to their liking, getting their suggestions on streamlining combat, etc.
 member, 187 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 03:52
D&D 5E Input
In reply to Talon (msg # 1):

Your level plan sounds solid. Quick leveling helps build game momentum.

Setting. For myself, I prefer established settings because it's less homework for me to get up to speed and I know exactly what to expect. Homebrew settings can be great, but they can also be not so great. I like a sure thing in this area, especially playing with somebody I don't know.

Style. I prefer story driven. I want to know there is a beginning, middle, and most importantly, a definite end. Attainable ends are even better. Play by post is a tough medium to see things through to completion. Having clear goals in mind is helpful. I avoid sandbox games.

Combat. Many different approaches here. My favorite is for the DM to post combat stats so players can resolve their own turns. All the player needs is AC and maybe HP and it takes away a lot of the "I rolled a 17, do I hit?" With known AC and HP, the player can take care of their turn and post accordingly, without seeking the DM's assurance. I also think Side Initiative works really well in 5e PbPs. No waiting around for others to post, unless you have a specific reason to do so.

Hope this helps!
 member, 275 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 03:58
D&D 5E Input
I think you have the core of it fairly well pointed out.  I tend to think that 5e is set up to start at 3rd level because before then only some of the classes have access to their full style and it always seems odd to switch character roles at random just because you leveled up a bit.  There is no reason the iconic moment needs to be 1st level, even if you want to do a solo adventure to introduce the story I would start (and end if you like) it at 3rd.

The setting is a lot more complex than it looks, and is going to have the most influence on the players you get because everyone has their favorites.  D&D 5e has rules for Star Wars settings, and easily molds itself into almost any magically capable setting.

I tend to see games have more success with a guiding story.  If that is just the one lockstep road or easy to find and follow hooks to a twisting and complex path doesn't matter as much, but text games are really difficult to do full sandbox.

Maps aren't required for D&D, but it does help to have something of a line, a distance chart of sorts, that indicates how far away threats/allies/obstacles are.  This can be done with descriptive text, or names and numbers just as easily, but it is required to let ranged combat and trickery characters have something to do.

As for grinding to a halt there isn't really a fix for that, but two things help a lot.  Throw out initiative, just post the NPCs along with the beginning of round update, then let the players post in whatever order they can.  The other is to set a time limit 24 or 48 hours or whatever fits your schedule for when you will post the next round.  Anyone who misses that window can post the 'previous' rounds actions, but they can't be actions that retroactively change already posted actions of another character (PC or NPC), so you can add some damage, or do some healing, buff yourself, but you can't buff allies, or stun enemies in a retroactive way as that just gets way to complex.
 member, 27 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 05:45
D&D 5E Input

Congratulations on trying something new! Those are interesting questions. I am not certain how typical my responses would be in the larger community, but since you asked...

Level: Your method is my preferred one. While not averse to starting at a higher level, I do much much prefer starting from the bottom. It feels like a greater accomplishment, and the play style is much different than you will experience later. And some of those scares at the lowest levels can be reflected in the personality and play style of the character that they might not have considered. So, your method is most enjoyable to me.

Setting: I love, love, love Mystara. Greyhawk also interests me.
But on the other hand, Eberron is a solid no for me, and Ravnica leaves me cold.
The other settings fall somewhere between the two.
A homebrew setting would also fall somewhere between these two extremes. If it was closer to the ones that interest me, wonderful. The closer it is to the others, the more likely to pass on it.

What draws me to the settings I like is that I have some knowledge of the world. It seems like I can make more of a mark on it, if I have an idea of the parameters, and they worlds seem more open to changes. And the fangirl in me can be excited when I run into something I know as a player- an encounter with Vecna or Azalin would chill me far more than an encounter with a homebrew lich I have never heard of. Meeting Mordenkainen or Etienne d'Amberville means far more to me than meeting the homebrew archmage. You meet legends.

What I like about homebrew is the feeling of exploration. Since it is starting from complete scratch, everything is novel. The trick is to keep things interesting once more of the world is known.

This is a long way of saying, it depends on the setting. Homebrew is exciting, but a pre-made can have higher highs and lower lows.

Style: In general, sandbox is much more fulfilling. It is a world, and it is disappointing to feel boxed in or railroaded. So if it is all open and there are many choices and hooks, it feels like we have true agency to make our mark as we desire. This also goes well with premade settings- if the players are familiar with the world, then they can have many more self-direction to explore and come up with ideas of things to do.

~However~... sandbox can be interminable for an online group. If it takes the average group several days to decide to open a dungeon door, sandbox is generally not for that group. Online, it really seems a clear-cut story works better.

So, in person, sandbox. Online, in a solo game or a game with a very small group, sandbox. Online, in a typical adventuring group, a clear cut story is preferable.

Combat: My preference is just to play it out, despite the length of time it takes. For some people, the challenge of combat is the attraction of the game. I might enjoy the RP with other PCs and NPCs most, but I would not want to short-change someone who enjoys the mental chess of a battle over the roleplay.

But still, do not delay things either. Stick to the regular posting deadlines to keep things moving, and move to the next turn when it is reached. Players who do not respond within that can have their characters either do some preset default action, or do nothing, or have some logical course of action chosen by the DM.

Hopefully it all goes well!
 member, 96 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 06:08
D&D 5E Input
Level: This is definitely a cool idea, and a good way to do it.

Setting: This can go either way. For me personally, and I know I'm not alone, I can enjoy either- it really comes down to communication. A homebrew is going to require somewhat more, as all parties hash out what is allowed or not, while the pre-made settings have most of that worked out already.

Style: Again, this can go either way. Ideally, I like a nice mix, with various hooks that can lead into stories. At the least, you might want to start off with a short story/adventure just to let the players get used to each other and their characters before offering too many paths.

Combat: Definitely provide AC, pretty quickly if not right away. Don't require too much in the way of description for combat post - "Rannos stabs at the demon, cursing as she manages to twist away at the last minute." works pretty well if someone rolls a miss, and the more you ask for, the slower people will be to post.
 member, 420 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 06:18
D&D 5E Input
In reply to LadyMer (msg # 6):

This sums it up nicely.
You won't be disappointed if you create a 5E game. You'll receive a ton of applications. I would only advise that you outline your goals/expectations.

Have fun!
 member, 1670 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 12:30
D&D 5E Input
Disclaimer: I haven't played D&D in a long time, so my comments are pretty generic.

Level: I like the brief prologue idea, either as 1st level--your first adventure--or as 3rd--a month ago... It lets you get an idea for the player/character and for how you want to roll.

Setting: An established setting means less for you to have to invent so you can reserve your time and creativity for the story. Also, there's less for your players to have to learn.

Style: I'd start Story-driven. It prevents players from having to choose (and agree) on which hook to follow. Once they've come together as a party, you can give them more freedom.
And I'd opt for a short adventure to start with just a couple of twists and turns. The epic can come later.

Combat: Action, especially with multiple characters, always goes slow. I try to streamline the system as much as possible and definitely skip over Initiative in player posting. Let them all post their actions and you sort out the sequence.
While two rounds of action at a time seems faster, you'll probably end up with a lot of backing and filling as resolving the first invalidates the second.
Also, not every opponent will fight to the death. I know if someone hit me with an axe, I'd fall right down, even if I wasn't crippled. And seeing half my buddies slaughtered, I'd be looking to run away.
 member, 825 posts
Fri 19 Mar 2021
at 18:06
D&D 5E Input
I've been absent from this site for a long time. However, I have some responses based upon both running games in-person, and my own preferences when I think about a text based game that I'd like to play. Here's a brief rundown.

Level: What you propose sounds awesome to me! Giving each character a short adventure of their own, or smaller sub groups of characters, is a great idea to help the players 'shake down' their characters and get used to writing as that personality before introducing them into the larger group. As long as everyone advances through their individual plot at roughly the same pace this works perfectly.

Setting: I think that using the published settings is better as long as you have the material on hand when running the game. If you aren't sure about what to run, I'd recommend looking at the Sword Coast material. There is a lot of it out already, and it sounds like you likely already own some of it, so it is a great place to start. It could be awesome to play in a Lost Mines of Phandelver game that uses the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Maybe add in the quests from Dragons of Icespire Peak to flesh out the areas in and around Phandalin a bit more.

Style: I find that most players tend to prefer a guided sandbox. Meaning that they want a story, but they want to feel like they chose the main plot or side stories instead of having these chosen for them. For example, present a location with a lot of little side quests that all, one way or another, link into the main plot you are working towards. The group knows that 'The Dragon' is the problem, but they get to pick how they deal with that problem and in what order they complete the tasks that lead up to the final confrontation.

If you want to run a game that is shorter, more contained, and story-driven that isn't a problem. Just say so as part of your game introduction so your players know ahead of time that the game isn't a sandbox. As long as your plot hooks sound like fun they'll bite.

Combat: This is a big sticking point for RPoL games. Two rounds at a time can work. Another idea is giving most of the monsters 1 hp so that encounters are over quickly. But keep the 'boss' monsters as they are to present a challenge. Also, make sure that every combat is important to the story in some way.

Honestly, coming from Freeform gaming gives you a leg up, in my opinion, because you are familiar with story structure and other elements that the rules don't cover. Best of luck to you!