I make fun, but D&D 5e’s Advantage/Disadvantage rule was a genius idea (scroll down a bit over here if you’re not familiar). All you’ve got to do is look at your positive conditions vs. your negative conditions. If you’ve got only good stuff it’s advantage, while bad stuff means disadvantage. If you’ve got both you’ve got neither. Simple. This system solved the problem of older editions piling bonuses on top of bonuses, resulting in encounters with that most terrifying of all monsters: math. 

Everything is hunky-dory with one or two conditions. Your buddy is flanking the monster and you’ve got a masterwork sharp thing, so in 3.X D&D you get a +3 to hit. Easy enough. But when you’re in a situation like Cleric’s, you’ve got to cross reference a half dozen different sections of the rule book. Here’s the Pathfinder version of Cleric’s encounter for comparison:

  • Mount larger than opponent (+1)
  • Poisoned, assuming Cleric took 2 Strength damage ( -1)
  • Magic weapon subbing in for guiding bolt (+1)
  • Blinded (50% miss chance)
  • Entangled (-2)
    -1 to hit and the attack has a 50% miss chance

Now I play a lot of Pathfinder, and I love how the conditions feel so flavorful. Getting blinded doesn’t make you physically weaker, but it does mean you’re swinging wildly as you attack the darkness. In game terms, that equates to a miss chance. Getting poisoned on the other hand does sap your strength. In game terms, your stats get adjusted downwards. The 5e versions of both conditions are simply “you have disadvantage.” That level of abstraction is great for ease of play, but it can hinder the depth of the game’s simulated reality.

After years of jotting down my modifiers on the wet erase mat in front of me, I find the 5e version a refreshing change of pace. Of course, I can see value in both methods. How about you guys though? Do you like your situational modifiers simple and user friendly, or do you appreciate a little more depth? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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