Homebrewing is difficult work. I'm the kind of person who likes not only to understand the rules, but also the reasoning behind the rules before I alter or amend them myself.

However, as I've discovered recently, finding sources that explain said reasoning is really difficult. Google shows a multitude of useless results for any sort of thing resembling a developer commentary. My go-to resource for these things, this site, has designer-reasoning questions declared off-topic (yet I'm still asking here). I never get answers on Reddit.

Throughout the process of asking this question, I've learned a few things. The original question (Have WoTC ever made a designer commentary) has basically been answered (they have). However, they also decided to disappear said commentary along with lots of community dialogue, presumably leading to the difficulty I am having.

Therefore, I ask: Where is a good source that I can find official designer commentaries that explain the reasoning behind the rules of D&D 5th edition? Note that this is distinct from things from Sage Advice. While that clarifies various rules, I'm looking for developer insight into the construction of the rules.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question has been rewritten. For the meta discussions that reference the previous versions of this question, here's a screencap of it: imgur.com/a/Y8EwXE3 \$\endgroup\$
    – ZarHakkar
    Jul 12, 2020 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've now opened this Meta discussing whether this question is on-topic or workable for this site \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voted to close, this is a resource recommendation question and as such off topic on RPG.SE (see meta for why). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 12, 2020 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


Commentary from Designers that Stays

  • Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearls have twitter feeds where they sometime talk about why they chose to do certain things and will often answer questions if you have tweet at them.
  • Jeremy, Mike, or Chris Perkins often appear on Dragon Talk and will speak about the intent, reasons for, somethings they'd change if they had to it again, and alternate ideas they explored. There is also an Internet Archive of older Dragon Talk articles before they became videos.
  • In addition they all done AMAs on Reddit, where they answer the questions about hows, whats and whys of their game design choices. Like this one.
  • Occasionally, but not often as they don't want to skew the polls, Unearthed Arcana will have notes about their thoughts on new stuff while it is in play testing.

The Balance of 5e

5e's balance is partly because of the principle of bounded accuracy. They have a small range which bonuses must fit, and stats are capped (except a very few rare exceptions). The other part is that they have tested a lot more, and released play test material for people to play with and try out. The 5e content isn't put out at the pace of 3.5, because they are taking their time to try things out, and are willing to scrap things (like the Revised Ranger).

Looking at the reasons for their choices isn't as important as following the methodology of trying it out and seeing how it plays at the table. In a campaign that might mean telling a player away from the table, "That new spell might be changed in a few weeks, depending on how it feels in play" or even "That Sword of Ultimate Smiting is a bit too powerful, I'm going to have to change its stats -- but don't worry, there will be epic story development to explain the change, and I want it to still be a good item for you," or even "I expected the extra effect to trigger more often, so lets make that happen on a natural 19 or 20, instead of just on a crit."

  • \$\begingroup\$ I genuinely would like a citation for "5e is thought to be the most balanced version of the game so far". I at least have not heard that before \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that is a sentiment I've seen on the internet among the community. I think I've seen Mearls say he thinks that is the case, but I can't find it, and I suppose that isn't important to the point. I think I'll edit the other way. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 It appears to have the least spread between "worst and best" PC class/sub class, does 5e, but any number of people have taken the position that 4e was explicitly designed with a kind of balance in mind, and was mostly successful in that attempt. (I've discussed this in some detail with some folks at GiTP, but there is a pretty good volume of material at this site in re 4e's balance). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 16:13

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