Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

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Would you allow the Unearthed Arcana "retraining" options in your game?

Yes
4
36%
No
4
36%
Maybe (see comment)
3
27%
 
Total votes: 11

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Tim Baker
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Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:41 am

I started a thread about the latest Unearthed Arcana, Class Feature Variants. I was a little surprised to find that the initial comments focused on a dislike for the class feature variants that allow characters to swap out an ability or option once per level or once per long rest, depending on the class feature. I'm interested to gather feedback from others, if you have a moment to take the poll.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Havard » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:42 am

I voted maybe. I haven't looked to closely at how the retraining option works, but I am generally very generous towards players wanting to make changes to their characters. If we had been playing as much as we did back in the 80s and 90s, I might have been more strict, but with sessions far between, we always feel a bit rusty when we sit down and play the more recent editions. If people regret a decision made for their characters, I allow them to change that. However, I typically don't want changes made in the middle of a session.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:06 pm

Havard wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:42 am
I am generally very generous towards players wanting to make changes to their characters. If we had been playing as much as we did back in the 80s and 90s, I might have been more strict, but with sessions far between, we always feel a bit rusty when we sit down and play the more recent editions. If people regret a decision made for their characters, I allow them to change that. However, I typically don't want changes made in the middle of a session.
Same here. You make a good point about the frequency of games, these days. I wouldn't have even given retraining a thought a few decades back. Not only was it not in the rules, but we'd play so frequently that it felt more like an organic progression, and we just stick with our decisions. But when we only get together once a month for a couple of my campaigns, the tone has shifted a bit. Now I want every session to be a joy, where that wasn't emphasized as much before (although maybe it should've been).

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Dread Delgath » Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:16 am

Shorter sessions don't help with that either. I've noticed that our group gets far much more done in 6 hours than we expected to, after coming off of several years of holding the bog-standard 3 hour session.

It actually makes the gaming experience feel more like a campaign, players remember more details, characters cover more ground exponentially. We are free to speed up non-exploring and non-combat time, and spend the time doing things in-campaign that actually benefit the characters. Players feel like they've been more productive, and more satisfied with their characters, as they are able to explore the non-rules facets of their characters.

Thus, cheap, hodge-podge rules like "Retraining" become exponentially less necessary to keep players interested in their characters.

Unfortunately, the nature of the RP beast is that players must sacrifice quality playing time with "hit and run" sessions, often with shorter run times, or irregular session schedules. Players must gain their satisfaction on the fly, rather than devoting more time to the game. Its not always what we want. Its that we are allowed to get what we need.

I still haven't had the chance to read these rules yet, but going off the comments here, it sounds like the Retraining rules won't work with every group, but may work for those groups who suffer from limited game times.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:38 am

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:16 am
I still haven't had the chance to read these rules yet, but going off the comments here, it sounds like the Retraining rules won't work with every group, but may work for those groups who suffer from limited game times.
Excellent point. My two main groups meet for about 3 and 2 hours per session, respectively. It's a painfully short time to move the story forward.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by zontoxira » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:59 pm

I voted no, but not because I wouldn't allow my players to swap character options. Quite the contrary, I always let them change a feature or spell if they find it doesn't work as they thought it would, or if it turns out redundant after a few sessions. I view retraining as a ruling, an ad hoc decision to cater to my players' needs. Of course, this also gives me the ability to keep any attempts at power-gaming in check.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Dread Delgath » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:10 pm

zontoxira wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:59 pm
I voted no, but not because I wouldn't allow my players to swap character options. Quite the contrary, I always let them change a feature or spell if they find it doesn't work as they thought it would, or if it turns out redundant after a few sessions. I view retraining as a ruling, an ad hoc decision to cater to my players' needs. Of course, this also gives me the ability to keep any attempts at power-gaming in check.
Agree!

As an adhoc ruling, the DM has the inborn ability to fix problems. As a "rule" that players may look to, it begs to be abused or expected, and takes checks & balances out of the hands of DMs. :?
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:15 pm

zontoxira wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:59 pm
I voted no, but not because I wouldn't allow my players to swap character options. Quite the contrary, I always let them change a feature or spell if they find it doesn't work as they thought it would, or if it turns out redundant after a few sessions. I view retraining as a ruling, an ad hoc decision to cater to my players' needs. Of course, this also gives me the ability to keep any attempts at power-gaming in check.
You make a great distinction. For my own games, I would actually agree with this. I think the challenge for WotC is that there are so many tables where the DM feels beholden to the rules as written. Despite Rule Zero being explicitly stated in 5e, there are still DMs out there who won't make a ruling that isn't supported by the rules. And because of that, they create rules that say, "hey, it's okay for you to consider doing this at your table." Maybe it needs more language around each swap being explicitly approved by the DM. Or stating that DMs, when deciding if they'll use this option, has the ability to require approval for each swap.

These may sound like the basics of DMing to a lot of us, but as the hobby grows and new groups approach it, what's "common sense" to us may not extend to others. There are lots of new groups approaching the hobby from video games and board games, where you can't easily hack the rules. It's a tricky spot to be in when you're the publisher and you want to set the tone without opening it up for abuse.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by zontoxira » Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:28 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:15 pm
You make a great distinction. For my own games, I would actually agree with this. I think the challenge for WotC is that there are so many tables where the DM feels beholden to the rules as written. Despite Rule Zero being explicitly stated in 5e, there are still DMs out there who won't make a ruling that isn't supported by the rules. And because of that, they create rules that say, "hey, it's okay for you to consider doing this at your table." Maybe it needs more language around each swap being explicitly approved by the DM. Or stating that DMs, when deciding if they'll use this option, has the ability to require approval for each swap.

These may sound like the basics of DMing to a lot of us, but as the hobby grows and new groups approach it, what's "common sense" to us may not extend to others. There are lots of new groups approaching the hobby from video games and board games, where you can't easily hack the rules. It's a tricky spot to be in when you're the publisher and you want to set the tone without opening it up for abuse.
That's correct. While I cater to a group of 5-6 folks, Wizards have to do the same to thousands. That's also why we get all those surveys, so they can see any trends regarding their game, even though the latest felt like its answers were forced.
Jeremy Crawford's interview on this subject stresses that Rule Zero again. Which is a good thing to remind DMs they have the option of disallowing anything not suitable for their campaigns.
But then, I have the occasional player who goes: "Hey, it's in the book, why can't I have it?" :mrgreen:
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Havard » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:50 pm

zontoxira wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:28 pm
But then, I have the occasional player who goes: "Hey, it's in the book, why can't I have it?" :mrgreen:
I think this attitude is extremely common. This made me even more frustrated when some players started using DNDBeyond and assumed everything at that website was available to them (including DNDBeyond homebrew stuff) even though I had given them a PDF with a list of the options that were available. :/

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by timemrick » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:10 pm

Havard wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:50 pm
I think this attitude is extremely common. This made me even more frustrated when some players started using DNDBeyond and assumed everything at that website was available to them (including DNDBeyond homebrew stuff) even though I had given them a PDF with a list of the options that were available. :/
I frequently see a similar problem with players who rely too blindly on the Archives of Nethys database for Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Their eyes go wide at the sheer volume of options open to them, but they constantly have to be reminded that not everything is legal for PFS play (AoN does a pretty good job of marking what is), and that they have to actually own the sourcebooks they're using content from. I regularly have to burst the bubble of this one friend who blithely allows anything from AoN in his (non-OP) home game, but is far too strapped for cash to ever dream of coming close to that for his PFS PCs. And even in my current home game, I've had to nix some cool things he found on AoN because I don't own the book (and don't even allow half of the books that I do own).

/tangent :D
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by timemrick » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:11 pm

Regarding the poll itself, I voted "maybe" because I'm still digesting the rules.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Dread Delgath » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 pm

I voted "maybe", but only because I don't see a problem with any of the retraining options when they are limited to gaining a level, or spellcasters switching spells that they already know on a short or long rest.

I and my players have constantly groused at the limited options of each class's allowed spells. We've long felt that wizards should have spells that are only granted to clerics, etc. Expanding the spell lists a bit is doable, but as DM, I'd monitor these choices closely and reserve the power to nix a choice that I do not believe fits with the class's role in my campaign world.

The Fighting Style Option: Superior Technique for Fighters is full of problems. First, as a fighting style, any FIRST LEVEL fighter is allowed to take it, although it allows every fighter to have a Battle Master's Maneuver superiority die (albeit a d6 instead of a d8) and one Maneuver.

Maneuver Versatility and Maneuver Options allows Maneuvers if you "already have access" to Maneuvers, which indicates that a First Level fighter with Superior Technique can replace a maneuver from the new list or the Battle Master Maneuver list.

Yes, its only ONE maneuver, but I object to a FIRST level fighter gaining any ability called "Superior Technique".

Personally, were I to allow this, I'd restrict this Fighting Style to 3rd level and let fighters switch out a Fighting Style with Superior Technique. This change would not put the Battle Master's major ability out in the open and up for grabs by just any ol' fighter.

I skimmed over the Monk and Sorcerer, since those classes don't fit into my campaign world at all.

The Ranger gets a leg up, and these options might replace the "Revised Ranger" UA IMC. The Ranger Companion Options for 3rd level Beast Master is a definite step up better than RAW animal companions. Now the animal companion can stay relevant as the beast gains hit points as the ranger levels up.

The Rogue's Cunning Action "Aim" seems OP since the RAW indicates that Rogues can use Sneak Attack with ranged attacks anyway. Since Sneak Attack requires Advantage, this ability just gives the Rogue another option to use Advantage to gain Sneak Attack damage. With this ability, I cannot foresee many ways that Rogues won't be able to attack without Advantage.

The ability makes sense - I believe its a plausible option, but I feel that this should replace one of the other ways Rogues are granted Advantage (and therefore Sneak Attack dice) in combat.

The Warlock's Eldritch Invocation: Eldritch Armor ...is probably going to be abused by Hellgirl. :twisted:
"As an action, you can touch a suit of armor that isn’t being worn or carried by anyone and instantly don it, provided you aren’t wearing armor already. You are proficient with this suit of armor until it's removed."

The Warlock's Pact of the Talisman seems a bit weak. Is this the first appearance of this Pact, or does it come from another source that gives expanded material on it?

I do not like Blind Fighting Fighting Style as written. No disadvantage on attacks while blinded??? I'd rather this had -3 to attacks instead.

I like the Unarmed Fighting Fighting Style, as this also details damage, plus damage while grappling. This is something that our group house ruled, and not as simply as this.

I might have more quibbles and praise for these, but, as I head off for work, I am out of time to dig out more gems.

Overall, this UA wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. :cool: I give it a "Maybe" on the poll.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Tim Baker » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:46 am

Dread Delgath wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 pm
The Warlock's Pact of the Talisman seems a bit weak. Is this the first appearance of this Pact, or does it come from another source that gives expanded material on it?
This is the first time, as far as I know.
Dread Delgath wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 pm
Overall, this UA wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. :cool: I give it a "Maybe" on the poll.
Thanks for taking the time to provide your thoughts. I appreciate it. Note that the poll was intended only for the retraining options (swapping out options at a level up or long rest, depending on the class). I was curious specifically about this, as the feedback had been so negative on the thread discussing the UA article overall.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by pawsplay » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:22 am

I just like retraining options that are a little harder. Being able to swap willy nilly downplays player choices, slows down the game, and incentivizes constant optimization.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Dread Delgath » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:13 am

pawsplay wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:22 am
I just like retraining options that are a little harder. Being able to swap willy nilly downplays player choices, slows down the game, and incentivizes constant optimization.
I believe that retraining skill proficiencies or class abilities upon level advancement is hard enough. I think that's a good model to use. If this UA had suggested retraining skills or abilities every long or short rest, my answer would have been **** No!
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Re: Unearthed Arcana retraining poll

Post by Dread Delgath » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:17 am

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:46 am
Thanks for taking the time to provide your thoughts. I appreciate it. Note that the poll was intended only for the retraining options (swapping out options at a level up or long rest, depending on the class). I was curious specifically about this, as the feedback had been so negative on the thread discussing the UA article overall.
:oops: The nature of the beast: too little or too much, but almost always too late! :lol:

I'm actually not very late for this subject (AFAICT), so I hope my feedback helps someone else with discerning where they stand with these options. :)
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