Dungeons and Dragons, more fondly known as D&D, has been around for almost half a century now. In that time there's been multiple editions and supplements released by the companies that have owned it.
Wizards of the Coast is the current holder of the franchise and after releasing what is widely considered to be one of the worst editions (4th), cleaned up their act and released one of the best editions. 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons is one of the best to date, cutting a lot of the tedious busy work that was present in the other editions while still keeping it light and fun.
Featuring a complete overhaul of all the classes and rules, D&D's biggest change was introducing the advantage system. Instead of flat bonuses or negatives added on to the roll, players roll twice when in an advantageous position and take the highest or twice and take the lowest if the situation is unfavorable.
The new rule was extremely well received as was most of the 5th edition, that being said though, it's not perfect. There's still some really weird rules and decisions the game designers made that probably could have been done differently.
Below we've collected some of the strangest so Dungeon Masters heed this warning, should your players try to take advantage of these rules you'll be ready to explain that while yes, the final entry on this list TECHNICALLY is according to the rules, no they can't do it.
25 Talk Talk Talk
Sometimes you need to devise a plan to take down the Big Bad Evil Guy you're fighting, but you only get so many actions each round!
Since each round is supposed to represent five seconds, there's only so much you can do right?
Thankfully, talking and planning with your fellow party members is a free action that takes up no time at all. Things begin to get weird though when you cram a long complicated plan, the criticism of said plan from the others, and then it's inevitable rework, into a single turn.
Also, you're coming up with this plan directly in front of the guy you're gonna enact it upon. While the rule is bad, it's kind of the only real option as anything more concrete, like only being able to speak a number of words per turn on your turn, would confuse everyone involved and lead to nothing getting done.
24 Fully Armoured
There's a question I always get from a few players anytime I say they've been hit by an attack. "Don't I get to try and dodge?" It's especially common for newer players to ask this, which then leads into a really long description about how AC works mechanically and how it adds your ability to dodge into it.
People just really want to be able to roll dice defensively when it comes to being hit, which is weird since everyone hates saving throws.
The rule feels... outdated, it's strange that nothing better has been thought of for the d20 system. Things like Advantage, Disadvantage, and the Dodge action, help but not enough. AC remains a staple annoyance that doesn't look like it's going to go away anytime soon.
23 What I Say Goes
With the advent of DnD fifth edition came a new saying "Make Rulings, Not Rules."
This was a simple phrase that encompassed all of 5e's design.
Not wanting the absolute insanity of a single rule for every single circumstance that ended up bogging down play in edition 3.5, the creators decided to be a lot vaguer with the rules laid out in the book.
This was to give more freedom to the DM, to make calls based on the situation without needing to look up a whole supplement book detailing exactly what happens when an enemy has you grappled by the forearm and is attempting a hip toss.
Sadly, all it wound up doing was made it so the wording on some spells and abilities was open to player exploitation, taking their own interpretations of it and leading to arguments about what calls the GM makes.
22 Very Polite Of The Enemy
Spellcasters have always been super powerful in Dungeons And Dragons, this has been true across all editions. The designers have, in each edition, done their best to try and nerf the incredible strength of these classes but have never fully succeeded.
In the fifth edition, it feels like they've taken a few steps backward. While concentration checks are helpful, the difficulty check of these rolls is often absurdly low, but that's not the real issue.
The real issue is now that, unlike previously, spells do not give the enemy an attack of opportunity.
An attack of opportunity is essentially a free strike during your turn, they used to happen anytime an enemy or player dropped their guard during melee combat, like casting a spell. 5e's gotten rid of that, now you can cast spells in melee combat without the enemy being able to slap you when you begin waving your arms around wildly to cast Fireball.
21 Nine Lives
Players tend to forget that commoners are extremely fragile, mostly since ninety percent of the people they interact with are villains or other warriors. Rocking a solid four hit points in the fifth edition, your average joe bartender or farmhand is only slightly more durable than a housecat which has two hit points.
In a legit straight up fight too, the cat has a solid chance of slaughtering a full grown man. They both have about a fifty percent chance of hitting the other and while the advantage is to the man since he has the chance to do more damage, an unlucky guy could wind up slain by Mr.Snuffles after four rounds.
This doesn't seem exactly balanced, commoners should definitely be a little more durable than two cats in a trench coat.
20 Choose! Spiderman!
Character customization has always been one of DnD's strengths. The creators over the past few editions, however, have tried to cut back on the multitudes of possibilities in order to make it a lot easier for new players.
One of the major ways they accomplished this was the removal of feats.
Feats were a way to customize your character to fit certain roles or playstyles you wanted mechanically. Like being able to strike and then move without the enemy retaliating. While feats still exist, there's a lot less and they're optional for DM's to allow in their games.
If you do allow the rule, you force your players to make the hard decision between specializing with some neat abilities or improving their base stats when they hit their score increase landmark levels.
19 Cost Vs. Reward
Identify is a great way to discover what exactly the device humming with magical energy your bard found does, or maybe your wizard needs to see if one of the kings advisors is being charmed.
It's cost, however, is ridiculous for the payout as you require a pearl worth at least one hundred gold pieces and an owls feather to cast it. You can't even recycle the pearl for later use as it's destroyed in the casting, so you'd better hope whatever you're using the spell on has a value of more than approximately fifty daggers.
Normally magic equipment will be worth far more but I've known DM's to abuse this casting cost and throw in duds every now and then just to mess with players.
18 Magic Missle Massacre
When you make an attack, people get to defend themselves, either through armor, dodging, or resisting magical effects. Magic Missle, however, is a spell that just ignores all of this and automatically hits every time.
This can make encounters really annoying to balance if you have someone with enough spell slots to just spam the ability, or multiple people capable of casting it. It's base damage cant even be considered low as it can deal out a maximum of fifteen damage at level one spread across three auto hits on three different targets and scales higher based on how much you expend.
If you're paying attention then from the mention of cats you know that commoners only have a maximum of four HP.
A level one spell caster is capable of ending three normal men in less than five seconds.
17 Up, Up, And Away
Flight is the essence of freedom, so it makes sense that players are eventually going to want to have a character capable of doing it. This will annoy dungeon masters to no end as aerial combat in the fifth edition is much like grappling in... well, any edition.
It's a right awful mess.
Suddenly things like flight speeds, heights and where the heck your token is on the map or in relation to anything else gets extremely complicated. The worst part is that DnD 5e, thanks to the "Make Rulings, Not Rules" ideal has very little advice on how to handle your characters suddenly manifesting wings or using spells to gain access to the skies.
Please, I beg you. Stick to the ground and that lovely map your DM has prepared for you.
A special place in the underworld is reserved for those people who list druid as their favorite class. Essentially everything about the class is broken from the insanely strong spells to the truly busted wild shape.
For people who don't know, druids can take on animal forms in combat and essentially gain their stats. This also means they gain a second pool of HP and transforming into something large like a bear will give them quite the large boost to it. The most annoying thing is when they drop in their animal form they just return to human form at the same HP they were before they transformed.
There's also nothing to stop them from just doing it again right after.
15 As Good As You're Gonna Get
In addition to cutting back on the customization available from feats, the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons ended skill ranks. When you level up, unless the modifier on one of your base stats goes up, you won't actually be able to improve any of your skills.
It's kinda sad you can't improve what your character is good at outside of battle anymore.
This can lead to some weird stuff. For example, since the Knowledge Nature skill scales off of a characters intelligence score and Druids don't need a high intelligence, you could wind up with a Wizard who's spent all his life in a tower locked up knowing more about the wilderness than a druid who's lived in it all their life.
14 Build Em Up... Or Not
Crafting has always been a weird part of DnD, some people love it and will make characters capable of making arms or armors while others hate and avoid it. In previous editions, there was a Crafting skill you could improve to reflect your growth and to maybe make better gear or trinkets.
With that being replaced with tool proficiencies, it's become a lot harder for crafters to make what they want. Since there's no skill ranks and no direct crafting skill, you're stuck crafting with only your ability modifier for whatever the DM decides is the appropriate ability score for the situation plus your proficiency bonus.
You're pretty much stuck with whatever you find now.
Which means if you're playing a fighter and your DM decides making a dagger requires intelligence on remembering how to use a forge, you're pretty much SOL.
Another staple skill was the Profession skill, which essentially represented the previous job the character would have held before becoming an adventurer. This was always a fun skill to use as it had some creative applications. For example, a character who had previously owned a bar could roll profession to see if they recognize the kind of ale being used or if they know the owner of an establishment.
Essentially, everyone is out of work.
Gone is the profession skill now, sent to rest along with crafting and skill ranks. This has kind of ruined the flavor of a useful pre-adventuring career. Sure we were given backgrounds but they don't really compare and kind of feel bland and cookie cutter.
12 So Random
Wild Magic sorcerors are hilarious, don't get me wrong, but they can also wind up getting themselves or the party destroyed based on bad luck. The way the class and sub-type work is if a nat one is rolled, one of twenty (unless your DM is creative), random effects could occur which can range from turning into a potted plant for a few turns or could cause a large explosion centered on the character.
This kind of randomness gets people hurt.
There are also supplementary homebrew tables that allow for far worse possibilities including the nearest sun going supernova, so if your DM enjoys the randomness and danger of Wild Magic you're in for a ride anytime it comes up.
11 Somehow Actually Worse Than Wild Magic
There's one rule to being a DM, and it's a rule myself and DM's break all the time and then remember why it was a rule in the first place. It's simple really.
Never give a player a Deck of Many Things.
It's like a Wild Magic Surge but oh so much worse, the player could instantly gain a bunch of levels or wind up with their soul sucked out and spirited away. There's no quicker way to ruin a campaign than to give a player this horrible magic item. You may be tempted to give it out because the deck definitely can be a fun concept, but trust me, it will Murphy's Law your carefully constructed game into madness.
10 Your HP Can Lower As You Level
Another rule of playing DnD, but for the players, is to never make constitution your lowest stat. Your Con score dictates your starting HP, how much you get on level ups and how resistant you are to blows and poisons. Having it as your weakness essentially guarantees a deceased character eventually.
One of the main reasons you'll wind up in a grave is thanks to the way HP grows as you level.
When you level up you roll a die (unless your DM uses a fixed number) and then add your constitution score to the result to decide how much HP you gain to your max. What if you have a negative modifier to your score though and roll a one? Congratulations, you just gained negative health. There's nothing in the rules that prevent you from losing max health when you level up if you're unlucky.
Wizards are able to copy spells down into their spellbooks, it's how they learn and grow. One of the best rewards for a wizard is for them to find arcane secrets carved into a wall or into a table, there's a way to frustrate them by doing this, however.
Make it a spell they can't cast yet.
The way the rules are written, a wizard can't copy a spell into their book unless they're actually of the level to cast it. So if you wanna see that player who's been traumatizing you with magic missile tear their hair out, make that spell that they've found just too strong for them to learn and put it in a place they can't take with them for later.
8 Somebody Save Me
Another thing that's really hard to improve since the fifth edition rolled out is your saving throws. Saving Throws are defensive rolls to combat harmful and negative effects. Need to resist being poisoned? That's a Con saving throw. Gotta avoid being paralyzed by a spell? Boom, Wis saving throw.
In the past, they'd increase based on your class and as you level, now they're pretty much stuck apart from slowly rising with your Proficiency bonus and if you throw ability score increases into your defensive stats.
When was the last time anyone needed to make an intelligence saving throw anyway?
Either way, it's another way 5e really cut back on their customization options, and in this case, for the worst.
7 Sic 'Em Fido
Animal companions are typically abused things in tabletop games. Yes, your character could have a light blue lion that they're best friends with, but... why?
In the past, animal companions were incredibly unbalanced.
Now they're a joke with beastmaster rangers considered to be the weakest class and subtype in 5e. It seems like DnD can't get this right. They're always far too strong with them essentially adding another character into the mix which can be a nightmare to balance especially if there are things available to buff the heck out of it, or in this case, almost useless.
Not only are the animal companions super weak, they don't scale well and you have to give up your own actions to get them to do things. Personally, I prefer them being useless to how overpowered companions are in games like Pathfinder.
6 Hold Me Tight
Grappling is a nightmare every DM must confront eventually.
It starts out simple enough, "Hey I wanna throw this guy off this cliff"
Next thing you know you're ankle deep checking how physics works to see if it's possible for people to jump off of other people while they're falling. Or watching videos to see exactly how an RKO works.
The rules always either over or under explain it and in 5e's case, while grappling rules are at their cleanest, it's still not perfect. It gets even worse if someone in your group takes the tavern brawler feat which improves how often they can attempt grapples.
I knew a guy who once made a cloak out of fishhooks and would grapple people and just start walking away once they were good and trapped in it.
5 Not Very Challenging
Challenge ratings are bullhonkey. While they can serve as a device for newer DM's to be able to scale encounters to the adventurer's level, even the designers think they shouldn't be used regularly and need to be taken with a grain of salt.
A CR level five enemy should be able to be taken on by four fifth level characters without anyone perishing.
I mean in a perfect world, yeah, but I've seen a party of those same adventurers take on CR ten's without breaking a sweat and I've also seen them take on CR two's nearly ending in a total party wipe.
It's funny when you see a group of adventurers who've taken down dragons nearly lose to eight gnomes in a trenchcoat.
4 Holy Moly
Paladins are fun cool class to play that blend healing with defensive and offensive power. They're super great to roleplay as too but by God do their subtypes reek.
Paladins have subtypes called Oaths which essentially lock them into very specific roleplay styles or you risk losing all your abilities.
This wouldn't be a problem if there were a lot of options, but there aren't, and what they do have is everything in the extremes. If you wanna take an oath of Conquest YOU'D BETTER ALWAYS BE CONQUESTIN' BROTHER CAUSE IF YOU STOP YOU'RE GONNA GO BACK TO BEING A WEAKLIN'. If you take the oath of Ancients you're just gonna wind up being a worse druid.
3 Please Stop Releasing These
Another thing all DM's wind up confronting is the Unearthed Arcana. This is a series of supplement books that everyone winds up seeing stuff from and wanting to play, and then you either need to allow or disallow it. There's only one problem...
Everything in the Unearthed Arcana is just stuff they wanna playtest. It's all Unofficial.
This makes a lot of it hilariously broken since it's meant to be, it's the first draft and it always errs on the side of "Dear Lord, you can do what now?" Trust me, it's just easier to say no to anything in the books than it is to try and balance them, besides some stuff from it might wind up being balanced and published properly eventually. It's happened before.
2 Intelligence Is Stupid
If you're not a wizard, you're probably going to make intelligence your lowest stat. No other class scales off of it and unlike in previous editions it no longer gives you skill ranks, the only thing it gives non-wizards nowadays is better base knowledge skills, which you're not proficient in anyways.
Let's be honest, if you've got a wizard in the party they're gonna be better than you at that anyways.
If you're worried about your intelligence save being low, don't be. The only time that Int save's matter is when you're fighting very specific enemies like intellect devourers, but even then they'd much rather eat your wizards brain then the tiny walnut you're hosting in your skull.
1 How To Abuse These Bad Rules
Owls. Owls are the deadliest thing your PC's can cook up.
The method combines the bad grappling rules, the bad flight rules, and the bad spellcasting rules.
Essentially, you summon up a giant Owl, your big bird picks somebody up and flies off with them. Sure, dragging someone puts them at half speed but turns out they fly super fast, so after snatching someone you could get up to 60 feet high in one turn. Then, even if they escape the grapple, they're screwed.
Call 'em up, have 'em grab someone, and then drop em at max height. If the damage isn't an instant elimination, have it dive bomb, claw the resistance out of them, and do it again.
Who would have thought that the big bad necromancer could be done in by a really big owl? Evil will be too scared to mess with you after that or start carrying owl repellent.