4E The "We Can't Roleplay" in 4E Argument - Page 25

# Thread: The "We Can't Roleplay" in 4E Argument

1. So, if your character had knowledge (lower planes), diplomacy, perform (singing), and perform (fiddle), you could use the first three skills to attempt to modify your final perform (fiddle) skill check.
First 3.X let's you do this with synergies and aiding another, so that's nothing new.

As for more rolls being more dramatic, perhaps...but in a pure statistics sense, you're more likely to fail a sequence of rolls at 75% chance of success for each roll than a single roll at the same odds- cumulatively, the skill challenge drops the odds of success to around 42%. Unless you do your math properly, a skill challenge actually increases the likelihood the PCs will lose.

In game mechanics, and thus, in games, give me the single roll every time. I'm much more confident that a GM can look at a test of skill and say "I want the PC to have a 75% chance of success at this task" and do the math for a single roll than doing likewise for a sequence of 3 rolls. Heck, depending on the dice you use to determine success, you may not be able to do that completely accurately within a system: the odds of succeeding a sequence of 3 rolls at 90% chance per roll is 73%...and 3 rolls at 95% chance is 86%.
Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; Thursday, 26th May, 2011 at 06:18 PM.

2. The notion you can't role play in 4E is wrong. 4E is a role playing game, and you can have some pretty intense role play with it if you want to.

The defining factor in the guy's original complaint is just that: if you want to. There is something to be said about what particular individuals are looking for playing this instead of that game, and how that gels into actual play styles for groups around the game table as a whole. So it might be that some players and, by extension, some groups, emphasize more one aspect of the game than the other, and that's when problems come in. This is actually something that is emphasized by the cultures surrounding the games we're talking about. If 90% of the discussions surrounding a game are about character optimization and tactical combat, the way the game is played by a number of groups in the audience will be modified accordingly, via a mixture of fashion, peer pressure, kewl factor and a bunch of others.

So instead of looking at the game's system to determine whether this particular player is right or wrong in his accusation (which in the end really doesn't matter: what matters is that the guy's not having as much fun as he could, in the end), I'd look at the processes going on at the game table and the culture surrounding the group to determine where improvements and modifications ought to be implemented, if necessary.

3. Originally Posted by Ryujin
If you're dead-set on making it a 'perform' challenge then what about using base attributes, with characters having an appropriate background having a lower difficulty (or ability to take part, at all)? INT for technical ability, WIS for selection of material, and CHA for putting 'heart' into the performance?

Not everything needs to be a skill.
I think anyone who plays an instrument (like I do), or crafts things (as I do) or cooks (as I do) can take a bit of umbrage at this.

A game with a skill system is shortchanging the players if it can't come up with ways to reflect the workings of actual skills.

Masterwork armor? Hmmmm, crafted with raw INT and WIS...nope. Just because you're smart & wise doesn't make you a craftsman if you haven't but in the hours, days, weeks, months and years it takes to master and apply the skills involved in the process. My dad is quite brilliant & wise, but you wouldn't want to eat his cooking unless its meat fresh off the grill.

It's the difference between talent and skill: one is raw basic ability, the other is applying it.

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Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz
I think anyone who plays an instrument (like I do), or crafts things (as I do) or cooks (as I do) can take a bit of umbrage at this.

A game with a skill system is shortchanging the players if it can't come up with ways to reflect the workings of actual skills.

Masterwork armor? Hmmmm, crafted with raw INT and WIS...nope. Just because you're smart & wise doesn't make you a craftsman if you haven't but in the hours, days, weeks, months and years it takes to master and apply the skills involved in the process. My dad is quite brilliant & wise, but you wouldn't want to eat his cooking unless its meat fresh off the grill.

It's the difference between talent and skill: one is raw basic ability, the other is applying it.
Then might I suggest that you missed an item, that I mentioned in parenthesis?

"(or ability to take part, at all)"

In other words if you don't have a background that indicates a given skill-set, then I see it as reasonable that you wouldn't be able to perform that task.

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Originally Posted by hutchback
I cannot see why you feel this rule overides that in a game setting. It does not state all creature are aware of effects placed on them, therefore they much react in a way most likely to mitigate the effect. Now THAT would be unrealistic.
This.

One valuable lesson I was taught when I was starting to DM in 4e is that unless I'm triggering the defender's mark ability every now and again, I was doing it wrong. It's a big mistake to play every monster as tactically calculating, and even more so to play every monster as super-conservative. Some (generally more intelligent) enemies will immediately understand the the meaning of being marked and generally refrain from attacking another PC. Others, out of stupidity or fixation with killing a particular PC, will ignore it altogether. Others still will understand that they are marked but boldly choose to defy it. And yet others may ignore it at first, but if they get smacked hard enough as punishment, will have their behaviors altered. (For example, I played unintelligent undead as the last option against our party's cavalier -- they paid no attention to his mark until they got fried with radiant damage, then they paid attention to no one else but him).

That kind of variety makes for more exciting encounters, and besides, it's no fun for the poor defender if his mark never does anything dramatic.

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Originally Posted by Nightfly
This.

One valuable lesson I was taught when I was starting to DM in 4e is that unless I'm triggering the defender's mark ability every now and again, I was doing it wrong. It's a big mistake to play every monster as tactically calculating, and even more so to play every monster as super-conservative. Some (generally more intelligent) enemies will immediately understand the the meaning of being marked and generally refrain from attacking another PC. Others, out of stupidity or fixation with killing a particular PC, will ignore it altogether. Others still will understand that they are marked but boldly choose to defy it. And yet others may ignore it at first, but if they get smacked hard enough as punishment, will have their behaviors altered. (For example, I played unintelligent undead as the last option against our party's cavalier -- they paid no attention to his mark until they got fried with radiant damage, then they paid attention to no one else but him).

That kind of variety makes for more exciting encounters, and besides, it's no fun for the poor defender if his mark never does anything dramatic.
I know I said I was finished, but... then why not just say the DM determines whether a creature is or is not aware of the effects of a power? I mean isn't this what is ultimately (in a roundabout way) being given as the "proper" way to do it by most?

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Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz
First 3.X let's you do this with synergies and aiding another, so that's nothing new.
I didn't claim that the idea was....just the execution (AFAIK).

As for more rolls being more dramatic, perhaps...
And, IME, far more engaging.

but in a pure statistics sense, you're more likely to fail a sequence of rolls at 75% chance of success for each roll than a single roll at the same odds- cumulatively, the skill challenge drops the odds of success to around 42%. Unless you do your math properly, a skill challenge actually increases the likelihood the PCs will lose.
Why assume a 25% chance of failure on each roll? Remember, the player determines the gamble the character makes.

If I gamble big and lose with the first skill check, I can gamble small with the subsequent ones (as needed), or set a bar that I know I can defeat (i.e., where I succeed on a 1), in order to mitigate against that failure. Also, in some cases, as the odds become stacked against you, you can simply not make the final skill check (i.e., you realize that you will fail) and try something else.

(Not generally true in the case of fiddle contests with demons, however.)

Moreover, the assumption that you can succeed with a single roll is a problem, as it is not always true. Heck, in a system where DCs don't scale by level, it is often untrue.

The idea is to create an engaging system for (some instances of) skill checks, similar to the way multiple rolls and decision points are used in combat.

You may say, "In game mechanics, and thus, in games, give me the single roll every time" but I doubt you would apply that to combat. Likewise, it should not apply to all uses of skills.

IMHO. YMMV.

RC

8. You may say, "In game mechanics, and thus, in games, give me the single roll every time" but I doubt you would apply that to combat. Likewise, it should not apply to all uses of skills.
To determine whether a single swing hits or misses? Yes, a single roll.

I know we're talking about the same statistical force: the probability of a set of independent events occurring.

But unless you want performances or crafting broken down into note by note, paragraph by paragraph or each application of a woodworking tool to match the way combat is broken down, again I say give me the single roll, because most GMs don't have the math chops and patience to properly figure out how tough to make a skill challenge based on what they think the overall odds of success should be.

9. Originally Posted by Ryujin
Then might I suggest that you missed an item, that I mentioned in parenthesis?

"(or ability to take part, at all)"

In other words if you don't have a background that indicates a given skill-set, then I see it as reasonable that you wouldn't be able to perform that task.
I didn't miss that.

However, if a skill doesn't exist in the game, a challenge to that game cannot be performed within the game's mechanics, end of story.

Your Bard and Bob's Warlock and Suzy's Warden are all musically inclined by background, while Marco's Paladin is not. All have been fully statted out with their trained and untrained skills.

At the crossroads, BBEG pops up with a challenge to win his Golden Bagpipes, all you have to do is beat him in a piping contest...you lose, your soul is his. Use of powers is vevoten- this is a test of skill, not mystical prowess. Who steps up?

By your caveat, Marco's Paladin is out. That's cool.

But the other PCs have no meaningful distinction between the others. By rule, there is no skill to reference, thus there is no distinction between trained or untrained. All it is is a battle of stat bonuses. Literally, no skill is involved.

And considering the amount of skill it ACTUALLY takes to play an instrument well- indeed, to be good at any artistic or craftsmanship type task- that's pretty lousy...mechanically AND narratively.

If skill training is to be a limited resource- and I think that it should- then editing non-combat RW skills out of the game and relegating them to a nebulous "if it's in your PC's background, he has it, if not he doesn't" type of rule, then you're giving away skill(oids) for free. They are no longer a limited resource. Or, more accurately, they are a resource limited only by a player's willingness to write up a background.

My PCs are all going to a well rounded art college, learning instruments, poetry, calligraphy, sculpting, painting and cooking- and will have gotten the money to do so by apprehending with the mason, tailor, Fletcher, weaponsmith and armorer- before taking up the mantle of Psion. Or Warlock. Or Ranger...
Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; Thursday, 26th May, 2011 at 07:31 PM.

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Originally Posted by Imaro
Dannager, we then run smack back into the problem that I have with every creature knowing what the effect of powers are on them... how do you know this if you've never encountered a swordmage before, or never had magic cast on you?
However you want it. Maybe the magic nature of it also lets you know, magically, what's happening to you. Maybe the visual effect it creates is obvious. Maybe you experiment with the phenomenon between turns and quickly deduce what's going on. Or maybe the DM decides you have no idea what it's doing until its consequences arise in the game.

This is probably my last post on this subject because it does boil down to aesthetics of game design as opposed to any godd/bad scale. But I am hoping the same way I can understand why this wouldn't bother you in the least... you can understand it does grate at my nerves as far as immersion and cohesiveness go in the game. I'm hoping that instead of trying to call into question the fraility of my immersion you are instead actually interested in understanding or at least able to accept that for me it makes the game harder to take seriously on an immersive level.
I have never not understood that. What I have been telling you is that your fixation on this issue is responsible for your fragile immersion. You are taking that lovely Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover meant to be ogled briefly and instead are peering at it through a magnifying glass to find all the airbrushed parts. D&D is a game. It is not there to provide a perfectly immersive experience. If that is what you need, you will always be disappointed. If you want to, there will always be something that you can find in D&D (or any roleplaying game) that is less than realistic or less than totally plausible. If you let that get in the way of your enjoyment of the game, you will suffer for it.

The general consensus here seems to be that this sort of thing is not worth worrying over - it was included as a rule for a good reason (DM empowerment), it doesn't create problems in actual play, and its scope is pretty tiny.

And I guess this is great as long as one guy isn't picturing and describing a japanimation while another is assuming a mythical world and yet another is picturing and describing a more medieval based game. 4e (in so far as the core books go) doesn't seem to give a baseline on which to hang this freeform narrative so that consistency and immersion will necessarily be preserved.
If they did, then you couldn't have one person running a Japanimation-style game of D&D, another running a mythical world, and a third running a classic medieval game. It's up to the gaming group to decide how they want their game to play out, flavor-wise, and it always has been.

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