In episode 97 of Game Master’s Journey, the host, Lex Starwalker, was commenting on how it seems that the designers of D&D either don’t understand their own system, or aren’t even using it: 

  • The encounter with Strahd at the end of the recently published Curse of Strahd is CR15, but the adventure is designed for a party of up to level 10 characters, making it drastically out-of-balance.
  • Mike Mearls admits to using milestone XP for his games, instead of encounter XP, presumably because, when you do the math, encounter XP-based advancement seems pretty-well broken.

This made me realize that there may be an alarming trend in the D&D products coming out of Wizards of the Coast. To wit:

  • Third Edition D&D was shortly followed up by 3.5 after the designers realized that the game system they created had some serious flaws that required more than errata to correct.
  • Fourth Edition D&D was followed by “Essentials”, a product that made significant changes to the way some classes worked, likely due to complaints about over-complicating classes like the fighter in the interest of making all characters as interesting as high-level wizards.
  • Fifth Edition D&D was published with fundamentally broken class builds, like the beastmaster Ranger, with the hint that fixes are forthcoming, and exploratory changes being published in the (sadly lacking an RSS feed) Unearthed Arcana column.

Should I be worried?

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