There are options for this; changing the rate of hp recovery and what a long rest and short rest do. It is not hard to take these rules and tailor them more to your tastes. You want to add critical hit/critical fail tables, permanent wounds, whatever else… it’s easy to integrate them into the ruleset.
As for the skill system… AD&D barely even had a skill system so I don’t even know why you are complaining about 5e’s relatively comprehensive one! Too random? roll 2d10 instead of 1d20 then.
Probably would need to adjust what you assign as skill target numbers a little bit. If you want to retain the same chance of critical success/failure, you have a 6% chance of rolling 18+ on 2d10, a 5% chance of rolling a 20 on 1d20. Want less crits? 3% chance of a 19+. Or have a graduated system: 18 half bonus damage dice, 19 full bonus damage dice, 20 bonus max damage.
I can definitely see AC becoming suddenly a lot more valuable in that system. You really want to try and push your opponent’s hit chance past the peak of the bell curve.
Lead Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford noted that they would be changing how spellcasting monsters and NPCs were presented in its various rulebooks, using the upcoming book Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse as an example. While creatures previously had spell slots and a full list of spells listed in their statblocks, the D&D design team will opt for a more streamlined approach that lists spellcasting as an action and features alternative attacks that replace damage-dealing spells.
One of my favorite 4e innovations that took its sweet time showing up in 5e. It’s fine and flexible to have a spell slot that an enemy spellcaster can fill with any number of clever spells, but if you’re playing at a table with a hardcover rulebook, and the monster entry doesn’t even have the page number of the spells the monster has, then prepare to prepare by pre-writing important spell bits or prepare to spend time flipping through pages and pages. Hypertext spell lists and apps help, as do strategy blogs like The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, but I am definitely looking forward to revised statblocks.
I played a ton in the 80s and 90s, D&D, AD&D and 2E. I tried to pick it up again a few years ago to introduce it to my now grade school kids, but I really didn’t care for it. It is very likely that it is just that I am in different place in my life, but the new rules seemed dead set on destroying all the free form, loose, imagination and fun that I remember, and replacing it with rigid rules, an obsession with “game balance”, and a mechanics focused structure.
Every class seemed like a cheap reskin of each other with different names for basically the same “once per encounter” and “once per day” powers designed by someone who probably grew up playing WoW and not PnP D&D.
I didn’t feel the magic again, and neither did my kiddos.
I had the opposite experience. I hadn’t played D&D since 2e (though I sampled 4e and pathfinder) Seems like the rules embrace the “try anything” spirit of RPGs much more than previous editions e.g. 4e with it’s miniature battles and pathfinder with it’s rules for absolutely every single thing under the sun. 5e gives you waaaaay more flexibility in how you can build your character, pretty much all the old restrictions are gone.
My nieces love it. They try all kinds of whacky stuff and it’s a blast!
Amusingly, you both are talking about the same thing. 4th Ed’s per-encounter/per-day mechanic was a very on-the-nose predecessor version of the somewhat looser x-per-short-rest/y-per-long-rest type stuff that some classes get in 5E. 4E was also much more concerned with an extremely tight and predictable numerical progression up to Very Big Numbers, and each class needed to ensure that their to-hit, damage/turn, AC, and saves kept up with the critters appropriate to the party’s level, so there was def some of that “everything is same-y” feel to it.
Personally, I thought that 4E was a fabulous tactical mini combat game. Which, like, I never want to play such a game ever again so long as my life because I find tactical combat in TTRPGs to be dreadfully boring, but also, I think 4E did very well at it.
5E loosens things back up to a nearly AD&D 2E level in many respects, while incorporating a lot of the smarter game design elements WotC learned through 3/3.5 and 4E. It’s got its own internal balance, too, but a much simpler one than 4E’s rocket-powered escalator: banded accuracy means that no one’s AC or to-hit is ever gonna reach statospheric levels, so even the lowliest goblin can get lucky sometimes and sneak a hit on an expert fighter. . . he just probably won’t do nearly enough harm to cause an issue. Now, 50 goblins, on the other hand. . .
I don’t really like 5E much at all these days, but that’s more due to how agonizingly burnt out I am on high fantasy d20-powered combat-fests masquerading as collaborative storytelling. Give me Fate or PbtA or FitD or NDNM or give me death!
This is me as well - My kids and GF love it as well, because they can play it, without having to read 5000 rulebooks and understand some obscure ruleset.
Its easy to understand, but can get gritty enough once you gain a few levels.
I also firmly believe, that if the hobby has to gain wider success, it has to become more popular, and to become more popular, it has to be become more mainstream and easy to understand. This is what 5E is to me, and why I think it has had such a huge amount of success here in Coronatimes - its fairly easy to sit down and play, and just have fun with.
Matt Colville has been preaching this for a while.
And it makes sense. 99% of the stuff in the monster manual is something you’re going to fight and kill. Having to look up what all the spells do is a pain and rarely even matters.
Look at Pathfinder for example.
Does it really matter that a Shadow Demon can cast Magic Jar once per day? Probably not.
Odds are really good it’s going to die in that encounter, but the DM has to look up all it’s spells to see which ones might be relevant to that combat it dies in.
On one hand, I like that versimiltude. On the other, if you’re making encounters, it’s just pain more than anything having to look up what spells do constantly.