Legends and Lore 11/22/2011 - A Different Way to Slice the Pie

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    Legends and Lore 11/22/2011 - A Different Way to Slice the Pie

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    Bah. This sounds like an excuse for complexity creep. Worse, it sounds like an excuse to make simplicity complex.

    I don't play 4th edition, but 3.5 is straightforward enough that I can strip out whatever I want or emphasize certain classes/spells/etc. to remove types of play my group isn't interested.

    The last thing I want is for WotC to try to institutionalize certain levels of complexity for me. Just present the rules, and I can figure out which of them are worth following...
    Drew Melbourne,

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    I don't mind the idea of advancing in level means advancing in complexity because that is pretty much what I'm used to at the moment (and I love me some complexity in my gaming!). I can imagine though that there are going to be a metric tonne of people who completely disagree with this approach. I think level and complexity should be related but perhaps not to the nth degree.

    I think placing rules elements more "organically" makes for a much nicer reading PHB that inspires adventures and ideas rather than inspiring memories of textbooks (I'm looking at you PHB 4e). There is always room for a rules compendium style book later on.

    I like the idea of a group being able to tailor their level of complexity because I like things pretty complex and crunchy rather than over-simplified, "gamey" and abstracted.

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    This is the first time I've seen the "complexity dial" explained in a better context.

    That said, I don't see how this is different from now. A first level character doesn't need to know about damage reduction and stunning even right now. We could probably move teleport and some conditions a little higher up, but what else could be completely removed from low level play?
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    The concept of rules introduced at varying levels of characters or game play is not without problems, though. Stuff like damage resistance should work as it's only needed when a creature employing damage resistance turns up - and it's the game designer's call when they do appear, so he can time the according rules.

    Stuff like opportunity attacks, on the other hand, could have been used from day one. Given a game system which allows the player to design his character, this might lead to characters built in a "wrong" way. What about a character built on the concept of battle field mobility? Without opportunity attacks this character works, but with the inclusion of this new rules he might be skewered in the very first round of combat.

    Now one could include rules on retro-fitting such characters, but can you imagine the amount of additional rules this implies?

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    This week, Monte Cook discovers Exception-based design!

    His idea of complexity increasing with level is a decent one the first time someone is introduced to the game. But once I've learned the game I'll know the complexity level I want - I won't want to have to play through half a dozen levels to get to it, and neither will I want to prematurely end my campaign because we've outgrown our sweet spot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    This is the first time I've seen the "complexity dial" explained in a better context.

    That said, I don't see how this is different from now. A first level character doesn't need to know about damage reduction and stunning even right now. We could probably move teleport and some conditions a little higher up, but what else could be completely removed from low level play?
    Yeah I'm on the same wavelength as you.

    Hmm...Maybe something like the 4e "bloodied" condition and everything referring to it could be omitted at low levels? Or secondary attacks? Basically reducing the order of operations that need to be resolved between declaring action and resolving it.

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    Well, as someone who prefers my fantasy game to have a more simulationist bent, his proposal really bugs me:
    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cook
    If we recognize that the game gets more complex the higher level you go, we can use that to our advantage... This way, someone who just wants a simple, faster-moving game can stick to low level, and someone who wants a broader, more complex game can play at higher levels.
    I love lower level play, but I love options, too. I really don't want to have to play highly "Heroic" characters just in order to grab someone. This line of thought gives me much more pause as to the future of 5e (for me, at least) than anything else mentioned yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cook
    Both the new player and the experienced player who just doesn't want to deal with a lot of rules can sit down, play a 1st-level character, and never even know that damage resistance (or teleportation, or scrying, or mind control, or grappling, or whatever concept you want to label as being unnecessary or overly cumbersome for low-level play) exists.
    I know he's not nailing anything down, but when these things are denied, I want an in-game explanation as to why that is. Why can't I grapple* at level 1? Building things so that monsters don't use them until level 8 is kinda meh to me, but it's more acceptable. Stopping the players from doing something that makes sense in-game (like grappling) because it's too complex? No thank you, and not ever. My preferences, though. As always, play what you like

    * I know that grappling was just an example in the article, but the fact that it's even on the table speaks so far against my ideal game that it being listed says something in and of itself.
    As always, play what you like

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    I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I'm getting a BECM/I vibe and I like that.

    I do think DnD needs to get back to a simpler game with optional add-ons.

    I should nail my colours to the mast; dnd>adnd...
    Last edited by vagabundo; Tuesday, 22nd November, 2011 at 09:15 AM.
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    It sounds like many rule introductions may be similar to what M:tG does. New rules are on every card, but a relatively simple core game need only be learned before play. Though the connotations of the example may not sit well with everyone, I think it's similar enough to where Monte is talking about taking the game.

    In the end any designer wants their game to be played and any publisher wants their games to sell. Making these things optional, but integrated sounds like a great way to allow supplemental game growth without necessarily farming player's option books in a finite edition cycle. Games that grow as you play means games that can continue selling rules and rulebooks without imposing vast limitations on designers (or homebrewers). Hypothetically these would remain optional, but support varying levels of inclusion for all sorts of groups, gamers, playstyles, campaigns, and settings.

    I think most players first imagine an increasing complexity skirmish combat system. But simple and complex options would likely be optional in any work. A radically simple game could just be skill challenges for all of it. Or, by diversifying options, we may get all kinds of supplements we never thought of before. Regardless of the complexity dial, it's the possibility of new options that entice me.

    How about a game for running a thieves guild? Naval combat and mass warfare used to be common, but what about enrolling in a wizard school? Traveling the Feywild? Building your own spelljammer? Ruling your own barony? The best part is, with a simple core game game designers are offered a great deal of freedom to flex their design muscles to create really interesting modular designs - which may be playable stand alone. This could work for those who wish to try the game/supplement first or simply play it for its own right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    In the end, with rules packed properly, we can allow game groups to decide how complex they want their game to be, rather than allowing some game designer to do it for them. I don't want to tell anyone how to play the game. I would prefer to provide waysŚperhaps multiple waysŚfor you to tailor your game to be what you want.
    He's not talking about codifying your game for everyone. I believe he means what he says. A simpler game at every level for those who want it. A complex game for every level as another option. But he is suggesting a default game for those who are just learning - one that enables publishers to sell for and DMs to include every option present and future.

    And I don't see a default design being dropped. Not only because of brand identity, attracting and easing in new players, or allowing publishers to print veritable new games as system additions (thereby getting around splitting the customer base), but because...

    Level advancement is a staple of D&D. If level advancement means more options and not simply bigger numbers, then complexity is going to increase. And I'm all for those options being meaningful too. Not simply "invisibility +X damage", but options no one's thought of before. That's harder to create I admit, but originality is worth it. And I like to imagine future products with a more open design space can afford to be more innovative - if only to continue to inflate enthusiasm for play.
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