L&L: The Challenges of High Level Play - Page 5
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  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG View Post
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    Campaigns are a series of actions or events. Settings are more than just place, they are also a matter of time and circumstance. Does that clarify things?
    No... No, that doesn't. I don't even know how to interpret that, let alone make more sense out of what you said earlier with it.

    What do time and circumstance have to do with setting? I might accept that for a different usage of the word than what is applied to tabletop RPGs, but the RPG usage doesn't involve those ideas at all. On the other hand, a campaign is more than a series of events. It is the transformation of a set of abstract ideas (setting, stats, mechanics, etc) with multiple possible interpretations and possibilities into a more concrete form (a story and characters) with a singular interpretation and known events. In other words, setting is theory and campaign is reality.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG View Post
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    Campaigns are a series of actions or events. Settings are more than just place, they are also a matter of time and circumstance. Does that clarify things?
    That's not the way the terms are typically used in D&D.

    -KS

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by KidSnide View Post
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    That's not the way the terms are typically used in D&D.

    -KS
    The campaign is what the PCs do, the setting is where they do it. The question is whether NPCs, who may or may not cast e.g. teleport or resurrection, are part or the former or the latter.

    I think they are a part of the setting (e.g. Manshoon in the Forgotten Realms). That implies the choice of whether game altering magics exist is a setting choice.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by davethegame View Post
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    I took the poll results from last week and dropped them into Excel and sorted from highest to lowest. Some pretty interesting stuff (all usual poll caveats apply, of course.)
    I think it works better if you express "Wants in Core" as a percentage (on an item per item basis) of "Total Votes", rather than simply looking at which ones got the most "Want" votes:

    84.3% want Saving Throws
    81.6% want Critical Hits
    81.3% want Skills
    77.8% want Feats
    70.6% want Second Wind
    69.7% want Non-Vancian Magic
    68.9% want Healing Surges
    68.8% want Powers
    64.7% want Action Points
    64.3% want Rituals
    63.8% want Vancian Magic
    61.1% want Themes
    59.0% want Exotic Weapons
    57.8% want Ability for Characters to Create Magic Items
    56.1% want Prestige Classes
    54.4% want Critical Fumbles
    53.0% want Paragon Paths
    48.5% want Epic Destinies
    47.1% want Kits
    41.7% want Morale Rules
    39.3% want Weapon Speed Factors
    35.7% want Weapons Versus Armor Table

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hassassin View Post
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    The campaign is what the PCs do, the setting is where they do it.

    Where, when, and under what circumstances. For instance, Midnight is a setting with a place, time, and overarching set of circumstances. I choose that particular setting as an example because each factor is very prominent and I am fully aware that with some settings one of those three elements is primary while the others might be distantly important, but they are all factors of the element of setting.


    Campaign (being what the PCs do) is a term carried over from wargaming and the military, hence my delineation of it as a series of actions (in wargaming, military actions) or events.
    Last edited by Mark CMG; Tuesday, 21st February, 2012 at 12:01 AM.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
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    A given player only plays that first campaign once, and most of us don't want to then revert back to "Dwarf Fighter" as the full extent of our customisation the second and subsequent time we play. Additionally, most of us reach of point at which the level of complexity is right for us, and don't want to go beyond that point.

    So, what that actually suggests is that the core game should be a nice, simple introduction to the game, with minimal complexity at the start, gradually increasing to a moderate level and then staying at that level for the rest of the level range. Then, add supplements that add complexity (but not power) at those low levels, and further supplements that allow groups to increase the level of complexity across the level range up to their preferred level (and no further).

    Remember that it is trivial for a supplement to add complexity; it is nigh-impossible for one to remove it. So, keep the core to the minimum complexity you require to make the game work.

    It's almost as if what's needed is some sort of, I don't know, modular system...
    The trouble with trying to create a supplement that adds complexity, but not power, is that any sufficiently complex system has loopholes, or interactions that the designers did not foresee. I cite as an example True Sorcery, for 3.x (and while a single example is not a proof, it is an argument). It was built as an alternate casting system to increase versatility for arcane casters, but not raw power, at the cost of complexity. And it does a good job for the most part, but there are a goodly number of ways to break it, with terrifying results.

    Even worse, when you start adding multiple supplements (or even modular sub-supplements), the number of interactions between the options in those modules grows exponentially, while playtest time stays more or less constant during the lifecycle of an edition (hell, playtest time per option probably falls over the lifetime of an edition; they test the hell out of core, and then they start slacking off). As a result, the fraction of option combinations tested by the developers falls drastically over time. Even if things aren't any more complex, systems will be broken.

    However, I agree with you that something simpler that high-level 3.x, but not as simple as low-level play, is ideal. I recently declined an offer to join a 9thish level 3.x game due to a combination of RL time constraints and just not wanting to deal with the complexity (relative to Traveller, my current game of choice... which, upon further consideration, is actually really modular. Huh.).

    But, to speak of actual high-level play:

    I disagreed with his focus on artifacts and planes. To me, relying on external magic items for your power cheapens the awesomeness of high level. Sue me for an Iron Heroes fan. Likewise, I'd much rather high-level be about carving a kingdom out of the wilderness, waging war against neighbouring states, running guilds, things of that nature. Both an increase in scale and an increase in delegation seem in order. Planes to me are just an excuse to keep dungeoncrawling at a high level by providing a set of infinite dungeons stocked with infinite hordes of high-level baddies. I would rather see the game actually change, not just in backdrop, but in the focus and the way it's played.
    Last edited by jedavis; Tuesday, 21st February, 2012 at 12:06 AM.

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
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    Here's what I think Monte is kind of approaching:

    The tiers are playstyles.

    Someone who likes playing a more gritty, "we are commoners with weapons who fear orcs" vibe kind of game shouldn't necessarily LIKE playing 25th level D&D, due to the changes that happen to your character. Someone who likes playing "big fat heroes save the world" shouldn't necessarily LIKES playing 1st level D&D, with your fear of kobold crits. Someone who likes playin "we're compentent adventurers" shouldn't necessarily like either of those extremes.

    D&D can cover all these playstyles (and more), and changing between them. It's important that the DM and the players all understand that the change happens, and how to prevent it if they don't want it.
    This makes sense. Not all tiers are suitable for all playstyles. But you can have multiple playstyles at the same tier.

    For example, plane-hopping but otherwise traditional dungeoneering, Bloodstone-style armies and kingdom management, and wuxia/Naruto-style adventures are all reasonable playstyles for a paragon or upper-mid-level game. Each of those playstyles wants a different set of abilities.

    Some of that is about providing optional modules (for thinks like mass combat and kindgom management), but it also involves questions of how "wacky" character abilities should be at any given tier. A grubbing-for-silver-pieces campaign shouldn't have access to martial wall-running and 40-foot leaps, but a paragon campaign could go either way.

    My inclination is to say that core rules should be very conservative about handing out wacky abilities, but that D&D should include a supplement to handle amazing heroes from levels 6 and up (if we have 20 levels to work with). Maybe the epic heroes supplement should also include wuxia abilities for standard classes at earlier tiers.

    -KS

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
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    This means that, perhaps, certain activities, conditions, and effects could and should be level-based. Perhaps teleportation of any kind should be a mid- or high-level effect. Energy drain or ability damaging effects could be medium. Planar travel should be high-level. And so on.
    More than anything else, this reminds me of AD&D house rule game design.

    What level of spell is Teleport? What level of spell is Invisibility? What level of spell is Legend Lore? How much XP is a Sepia Snake Sigil trap worth if beaten? What's the difficulty level of hunting down a Leomund's Chest? How much is a treasure map worth based upon the information it holds?

    All these things and far more were graded numerically within a coherent whole by D&D, usually on a spectrum. It never suggested all 1st level spells were equal. It suggested they were relatively equal and each was unique enough to be more valuable than any other of its level in a particular situation or range of situations.

    And all of this grading went far beyond spell levels into dungeon levels and class ability levels and monster levels and so on. Everything was weighted and measured and the easy stuff came early, the hard stuff came later. In fact, the game was so hard later if you didn't come to it from the beginning, then there was no approaching it at higher levels. By which I mean content, of course. Not complicated character interfaces, though that could grow as much as any player wanted it to as well.

    I definitely would like to see different play challenges and convergence points built into different class levels of the game. (Heck, I'd like the same for different classes too) What I may have to resign myself to is attempts to create discrete character level zones of play with clear obsolescence built in. However, I remember we're trying to keep challenges meaningful across all levels, so maybe there is reason to hope?

  9. #49
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    Aside from the main idea of tiers being playstyles, I think it's important to see, at a meta-level, what the function of high level character abilities is.

    Abilities like teleport or power word: kill or dominate change the game by increasing the scope of what a "challenge" is. No longer is a trek to Mount Doom, a fight with an orc army, or a reticent king an adequate challenge. These effects (or things that mimic them) negate these challenges effortlessly. You the DM need to up the ante when effects like this come into play -- the arms race comes into play, because that is a desired effect. I get higher level, lower level things are easy, and higher level things enter my realm of accomplishment.

    Not every table or DM is ready or willing to accept this change. Some DMs want treks to Mount Doom to always be viable character challenges at every level. Those people, Monte mentions, are really just saying "I don't like high-level play, because those challenges are important to my style." The "brokenness" of high level play is from a slightly different source than easy solutions like teleport. Teleport isn't broken, but for some tables, it's certainly never something you want.

    There's problems with how each edition handles higher levels, but if you view the tiers as different styles rather than as all the same, you can have a pretty nice upgrade pattern. What starts out as the ability of PC's to climb a wall becomes the ability of PC's to destroy the wall, and then the ability of PC's to just pass through the wall. Your exploration gets upgraded steadily.
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  10. #50
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    Another aspect of HL/EL play that I hope gets some attention is the significant impact HL people would have on the world.

    Even setting aside the wealth - the sheer, staggering personal power they wield creates all kinds of ripples. Mass combat rules are fun, but how relevant are they in such a world? If you have singular beings capable of wiping out hundreds (if not thousands) of LL soldiers without breaking a sweat, how does that change how wars are fought? If you have one Lord's HL elites wipe out his opposition's HL elites - the war is won. Opposition troops don't even factor into it. Although I could see bringing in the army *after* you have won the war as a peace-keeping force.

    And how likely would hereditary succession be in such a world? You pretty much need a HL ruler on the throne, just to be able to hold it. Not to mention the impact of HL skills would have in the court. Would you see more Meritocracies emerge?

    And we haven't even touched on the impact of certain spells/powers could have on society...

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