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One D&D (first survey)

Wow, one thing I really disliked in One D&D (getting a first-level feat in your background, a la PF2) was ranked the highest, beloved by 90%:

My take was that:

  1. I felt like it really made the backgrounds similar to the point of meaninglessness. The 5e backgrounds were flavorful.♥ A “select any 1l feat” is so modular. It doesn’t have anything to do with your background. “Choose one of these bland backgrounds” and then they all say the same thing…?! If you do wanna give a 1l feat to all chars, what does it have to do with your background specifically?

  2. I like a simpler game where the answer is not on your character sheet, and instead is about what you do in the game. We didn’t even use the feats chapter in 5e for the first few years.

Crawford says:

Some groups prefer not to use Feats which is one of the reasons why we’re very carefully threading this needle of: all right you get this free one, so we’re not going to require you to engage with the feat system repeatedly (unless you really want to) but we also want to give you that taste so that you can then make an informed decision about whether or not you later engage Feats.

I mean… the reason why I disliked feats in 3e was that as I was trying to make a character, which was difficult enough, I then came to the feats section and just noped out completely. To select one I had to browse ‘em all, is the problem. I’d actually have way less of a problem if the feat was at level three or even level two. Keep creating a level one character simple and easy.

It’s such a weird thing to say that (essentially) you’ve got to learn the entire Feat system in order to get one, so you can make an informed decision about whether to keep using what you just learned. You’re not required to engage with the Feat system… repeatedly. Only once. But, I mean, that first time is the problem!

There is this thing in linguistics that really informed a lot of my thinking about design: open vs closed word classes. Closed-class words are things like “the” and “and” and “like” whereas open-class words are things like “apple”, “banana”, “orange”, “paw paw”, “star apple”, “soursop”, “passion fruit”, “rambutan”, and “mango”. Closed-class words are the scaffolding and structure of your game (or app or building or whatever you’re making). In the case of D&D 5e: dice rolls, hit points, attacks, spell slots, advantage, ability modifiers. Everyone needs to know those things. And that’s fine. But if you make an open-class ludeme (like the feat system) foundational to creating a character, you’ve made the game boundlessly complex.

5e was a masterpiece of modularity. I referred to it as a very loosely coupled design. You could play a very simple game or you could add in feats, multiclassing, flowers and a wedding dress. This addition gives up some of that modularity and makes (at least this particular aspect) of the game much more tightly coupled.

The fact that the “default” feat is Skilled is a mixed bag. Having a default, easy, very vanilla feat—sort of like how ASI worked in 5e—is great! Solves a lot of the problems I have. But in 5e, the skill system was optional, too! Even after we started using feats, we didn’t bring in skills. So that’s another loose coupling made a lot tighter in One D&D. 🤦🏻‍♀️

But the people have spoken on this so maybe it’s worth it. 🤷🏻‍♀️