L&L: The Challenges of High Level Play - Page 7
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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
    For the first time, I don't just get a feeling of "Meh" from Legends & Lore - Monte is absolutely and fundamentally wrong, IMO. From the top....


    Actually, I've never heard this said about 1st or 2nd Edition, and barely ever about 4e.
    I'm sorry, but, "I personally have never seen it or heard it and therefore the speaker is fundamentally wrong," is perhaps among the weakest arguments in existence.

    It's only the spellcasters who continue to see big boosts in power, and while this leads to a "spellcasters rule!" mentality, they're rare enough that I haven't seen this translate into "the game breaks". (Although, maybe it should have.)
    Referring to this as a "mentality" is as bad as Monte saying the breakdown is *only* if you look at the game in a certain way. You, like he, are dismissing the experience of others as being in their heads, rather than being in their experience, and well-considered.

    As far as I am concerned, the disparity in general effectiveness between the pure spellcaster and others in 1e and 2e counts as "breakage". It is one of the most common complaints about the game, and for you to dismiss it as a mentality rather invalidates your "I have never heard this" support. You darned well have heard it, but you're actively dismissing it.

    For someone claiming Monte's fundamentally wrong, your argument has too many fundamental similarities to his.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    As far as mass combat and domain management are concerned, I think it's unrealistic to expect that people who are playing D&D want, at a certain point, to have the game turn into a tabletop wargame or Railway Tycoon part way through. Mechanics need to be found that make these things part of the action resolution mechanics that the players engage via the ordinary features of their PCs builds.
    I do want mechanics for mass combat and domain management. Not a full-fledged wargame, but I want enough support that I can, as a player, assemble and command an army and not feel like the DM is just making the whole thing up on the fly. And as a DM, I don't want to have to make the whole thing up on the fly. Nor, to judge by comments in this and other threads, am I alone.

    My vision for such a system would be highly abstracted and play out as a backdrop to the battlefield deeds of the player characters. The armies clash, you roll a few dice and mark down the results. Then you go to "heroic mode" and focus on the PCs performing some important action, like fighting an enemy commander, breaching a key fortification, etc. Once this deed is complete, you zoom back out and roll another clash for the armies, with the PCs' actions influencing the result. The bulk of playtime would be spent in "heroic mode." The idea is to allow the PCs to make meaningful decisions as commanders and rulers (without requiring the DM to ad-hoc everything), but keep the main focus on the PCs themselves.

    This is not a new concept for D&D. Back in the pre-Wizards days, becoming king by your own hand--and then holding your throne--was an expected part of the game. BD&D supported it out of the (cyan) box with the War Machine system for mass combat and the Companion rules for domain governance. The AD&D core books only had some basic rules for followers and strongholds, but there were a number of forays into this area during 2E. Birthright, the Castle Guide, and Battlesystem come to mind. Dark Sun also dipped its toes into the water, with the Athasian fighter getting a bunch of special abilities relating to organized warfare.

    Once 3E came out, however, the whole thing was dropped. "Heroes of Battle" is the only 3E book I know of that addresses mass combat, and it casts the players strictly in a foot soldier* role--the DM plans out the battle as if designing a dungeon, with no player input and no guidance on whether, say, 100 heavy cavalry can reasonably hope to defeat 200 pikemen if the PCs don't intervene. 4E doesn't even have that much. Slapping the name "Knight Commander" on a paragon path is not the same as providing rules support.

    *Or teleporting levitating super-soldier of doom, depending on what level you are.

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Again, I think this is about story rather than mechanics. 4e aspires to provide the elements that will change the story as the tiers progress. There is even some sign of this in some of the modules, but on the whole they are a disappointment. But I don't think different mechanics are the answer. Better attention to story, and how a given set of mechanics can be used to support different and changing stories, is the key. It may be true that the game should change at higher levels, but it should still be the same game, with the PCs and the things they do as the central focus.
    The point of mechanics is to support the DM and players in playing the story. Sure, you can take your 3E or 4E campaign and run adventures where the PCs are leading armies. But you get no help from the system when you do--the DM has to make everything up out of whole cloth. I can and have done this, but it's a major pain. If there were even a light, abstract rules framework in place, it would make it much easier.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Tuesday, 21st February, 2012 at 08:06 PM.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Shadow View Post
    Another week, another poorly-worded Legends & Lore poll.
    Proper poll wording is not something I expect from WotC. Too much bias built into the polls that can lead statistical errors.

  4. #64
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    I do believe that Monte, whether coming from a position that's right or wrong, is responding to the problem (percieved or not) in the right way.

    I think their needs to be a way for the game to progress into high levels while maintaining the feel of low level play throughout.

    And...

    I think their needs to be a way for the game to change at different tiers of play.


    I think this is definitely a pronounced split among fans without too much gray area in between. I have faith that Monte and company can pull it off, but as with anything the proof will be in the product.

    All I can say is that Monte and company have assigned themselves a monumental task with this edition. But from what I've heard from them, I think they have a really good grasp of what they need to do, or at least know what they don't know. If they pull this off (and I have high hope and faith they will), I think this will be a truly legendary edition of D&D. Hopefully becoming in our minds and our common understanding, simply D&D sans any qualifier. Once and for all, the D&D, the whole D&D, and nothing but the D&D.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    I'm sorry, but, "I personally have never seen it or heard it and therefore the speaker is fundamentally wrong," is perhaps among the weakest arguments in existence.
    When the statement is as absolute as "In every single edition, when you start talking about high-level play, someone invariably says that the game breaks down after about 12th level," responding that you haven't seen it put forward about several editions would seem to be a perfectly good counter-argument.

    Referring to this as a "mentality" is as bad as Monte saying the breakdown is *only* if you look at the game in a certain way. You, like he, are dismissing the experience of others as being in their heads, rather than being in their experience, and well-considered.
    Fair enough, poor wording on my part. "Argument", or "shorthand", or "conclusion" would seem more appropriate.

    As far as I am concerned, the disparity in general effectiveness between the pure spellcaster and others in 1e and 2e counts as "breakage". It is one of the most common complaints about the game, and for you to dismiss it as a mentality rather invalidates your "I have never heard this" support. You darned well have heard it, but you're actively dismissing it.
    Oh, I've heard "spellcasters rule", but until now I've not seen someone declare that to be an unequivocable statement of brokeness. I guess the people I've been hearing it from consider it to be a feature rather than a bug, or consider it a valid tradeoff for their weakness at low levels, or just really like playing spellcasters. Or, indeed, just haven't played much beyond "name" level.

    But this is actually largely irrelevant. You'll note that in my post I agree with some of the statements Monte makes in his article. So it should be obvious that my statement that he's "absolutely and fundamentally wrong" doesn't necessarily refer to every single statement he makes, but rather some important part of his article.

    Which is what I address later in my post, with my response to his point that, "What I am really getting at here is that the level of the game affects the complexity both of the story and the mechanics," where again I repeat "absolutely and completely wrong".

    And, yes, I stand by my argument there. If complexity is tied to level, and people enjoy a particular amount of complexity, then you get a situation where they can be playing a character they enjoy in a campaign they enjoy, only to find that they have to stop playing, because the increasing complexity makes the game cease to be fun for them. That really can't be a good idea. And neither is it a good idea for experienced players to be stuck with "dwarf fighter" as their character, when they'd prefer something more nuanced, simply because the campaign starts at level 1.

    Complexity should be tied to player experience and preference, not locked in to character experience any more than it absolutely must.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'koss View Post
    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...
    You've just given me the idea for my next campaign.

    The world starts as a low level D&D world. The highest character in the entire world is something like L8. Things like dragons and giants exist but are very rare and take armies to bring down. Basically, an E6 or so world.

    Then the caps come off, worldwide. The PCs are amongst the first characters to pass those limits (there are hundreds of others passing those limits at the same time).

    The (quite likely multi-generational) campaign then focuses on the changes to the world.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    3. Freely usable, precisely targeted long-range teleportation. Geography is now irrelevant. Dungeons that are not teleport-warded might as well not exist.
    Fixable by putting the chance-for-error back in, with errors potentially being deadly i.e. teleport into solid rock.

    Lanefan
    I don't see how this really fixes the problem.

    Lets say the PCs need to get somewhere quickly. They dither for a long time on the relative risks and needs. Eventually, they decide to either teleport or not.

    As a GM, I either have to force them to make the decision at the end of a session, I have to prepare for both scenarios, or I wing it when they go overland. I'm generally fairly happy at winging things so I'd choose that alternative but winging a long voyage tends to yield moderately boring results

    Lets say they decide to teleport.

    They either succeed or fail.

    If they succeed, then I still have the problem that they've just teleported straight into the throne room and will quickly kick ass.

    If they fail, I then either have to wing it wrt where they ended up or, worse, I now have a TPK on my hands.

    As a GM the temptation to cheat on the teleport roll would be nearly overwhelming. It would be SO amusing to have them miss by a little and end up in some "interesting" situation

    I'll certainly concede that having the teleport roll somewhat reduces the problem but I don't think that it comes close to eliminating it. Well, except by making a TPK inevitable so that we spend less time at high level play :-)

  8. #68
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    Howdy Hassassin!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hassassin
    Yes, but with actual rules, so that you know what a unit of 100 human level 1 fighters looks like, and don't need to invent numbers out of thin air.
    Absolutely.

    But it illustrates how simple mass combat could actually be handled within 4E.

    The problem was that no one at WotC wanted to bother with it when dungeon crawling was seen as the be all and end all of D&D.

    Incidently if you want to try some quick mass combat rules use an increase of +6 levels for every 10 fold increase in numbers:

    Orc = Level 3
    10 Orcs = Level 9 (or Level 5 Elite)
    100 Orcs = Level 15 (or Level 11 Elite or Level 6 Solo)
    1000 Orcs = Level 21 (or Level 17 Elite or Level 12 Solo)
    10,000 Orcs = Level 27 (or Level 23 Elite or Level 18 Solo)

    I don't think this method works above Units of more than 10,000.

  9. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    I do want mechanics for mass combat and domain management. Not a full-fledged wargame, but I want enough support that I can, as a player, assemble and command an army and not feel like the DM is just making the whole thing up on the fly. And as a DM, I don't want to have to make the whole thing up on the fly. Nor, to judge by comments in this and other threads, am I alone.

    My vision for such a system would be highly abstracted and play out as a backdrop to the battlefield deeds of the player characters. The armies clash, you roll a few dice and mark down the results. Then you go to "heroic mode" and focus on the PCs performing some important action, like fighting an enemy commander, breaching a key fortification, etc. Once this deed is complete, you zoom back out and roll another clash for the armies, with the PCs' actions influencing the result. The bulk of playtime would be spent in "heroic mode." The idea is to allow the PCs to make meaningful decisions as commanders and rulers (without requiring the DM to ad-hoc everything), but keep the main focus on the PCs themselves.

    This is not a new concept for D&D. Back in the pre-Wizards days, becoming king by your own hand--and then holding your throne--was an expected part of the game. BD&D supported it out of the (cyan) box with the War Machine system for mass combat and the Companion rules for domain governance. The AD&D core books only had some basic rules for followers and strongholds, but there were a number of forays into this area during 2E. Birthright, the Castle Guide, and Battlesystem come to mind. Dark Sun also dipped its toes into the water, with the Athasian fighter getting a bunch of special abilities relating to organized warfare.

    Once 3E came out, however, the whole thing was dropped. "Heroes of Battle" is the only 3E book I know of that addresses mass combat, and it casts the players strictly in a foot soldier* role--the DM plans out the battle as if designing a dungeon, with no player input and no guidance on whether, say, 100 heavy cavalry can reasonably hope to defeat 200 pikemen if the PCs don't intervene. 4E doesn't even have that much. Slapping the name "Knight Commander" on a paragon path is not the same as providing rules support.

    *Or teleporting levitating super-soldier of doom, depending on what level you are.



    The point of mechanics is to support the DM and players in playing the story. Sure, you can take your 3E or 4E campaign and run adventures where the PCs are leading armies. But you get no help from the system when you do--the DM has to make everything up out of whole cloth. I can and have done this, but it's a major pain. If there were even a light, abstract rules framework in place, it would make it much easier.
    Fields of Blood does this for 3.5, but with a much higher degree of detail than you (or I, admittedly) want, since battles between armies are fought on a wargame-like degree of detail. There is an optional abstract combat system, though, where you could provide modifiers for PC actions in 'heroic mode' without having to drill all the way down detail-wise.

  10. #70
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    My take on high-level play is that I love it personally. I never got to use it in 1e, never got to use it in BECMI, had only one campaign go to 14th level before we got tired of it in 2e, but ran campaigns that ended in high-level in 3.0, 3.5 and now Pathfinder. I think I agree with Monte's assessment in that high-level play changes, but it doesn't break down. Here's been my experiences:

    1. At high-level, the "adventure as a journey" modules are dumb. I have to put in encounters at the fixed locations the players are going to be at instead of assuming that they'll get on their horses and travel across the land to wherever they're headed. Odds are, they'll teleport, fly, or use some magical means that will avoid mundane planned encounters. If I'm not careful, clever divination spells and teleport will allow the players to go from Start to End and bypass Everything in Between in the first session. I have to plan my adventures with these spells and abilities in mind, not ban them because they're annoying.

    2. Familiarity makes the game go faster. I like high-level play because I'm just as comfortable and familiar with it as I am with low-levels. The campaigns I played in ended at high level. The campaigns I ran ended at high-level. How many of you had DMs who started a campaign, but RL causes it to end after a few levels. Then when the DM says he's ready to get back into the game, it's "create a new character". Then the campaign goes a few levels, and the DM is bored. Create a new character, start a new campaign. Then the DM is burned out and someone else takes over, but it's create a new character, start a new campaign. Finally, when you get in a campaign where it looks like you're going to the Big Leagues, the game breaks down because both players and DM aren't familiar with the rules--they either hadn't used them or they're really really rusty at it. Not with my group. We slog through combat and everything. Figure out what doesn't work and what does, but don't give up.

    3. High-level prep takes a lot more time. If you have more options at high level, that alone will add to any DM's prep time. If I was creating a baddie for my 1st level group and building him from scratch--15 min and I'm done. When I created a baddie for my 22nd level group and buildingg him from scratch--4 hours and I'm done. The 4 hour baddie was killed in the first round (failed Will save). As a DM, I don't mind the extra prep time to put in the effort for my high-level encounters, but I know of others who absolutely think that any prep time beyond 15 minutes for any adventure at any level the game is not worth playing.

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