Realism vs. Believability and the Design of HPs, Powers and Other Things - Page 20


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  1. #191
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Oh, very much. Problem was, it meant that as soon as you picked up a skill, you were automatically good at it. Yes, you could improve it 5% every 3 or 4 levels, but, realistically, whatever you had was what you had.

    So, my 1st level human cleric takes blacksmithing and because it's wisdom based, I'm a better blacksmith than the dwarven blacksmith standing beside me who's been smithing for a hundred years. It never rubbed me the right way.
    I found it worked just fine. You could take more ranks in the NWP if you wanted your dwarf to improve. Yes your ability score mattered, but then shouldn't your raw talent matter?. Keep in mind this is all rolling a d20 under your final score so just a couple of points is pretty big (you aren't rolling d20s + 15 versus a DC 30). i encountered way more issues with the 3e skill system than the 2E NWPs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    I found it worked just fine. You could take more ranks in the NWP if you wanted your dwarf to improve. Yes your ability score mattered, but then shouldn't your raw talent matter?. Keep in mind this is all rolling a d20 under your final score so just a couple of points is pretty big (you aren't rolling d20s + 15 versus a DC 30). i encountered way more issues with the 3e skill system than the 2E NWPs.
    But, the only way for the dwarf to improve would be to whack one eight or ten character levels on him. That's a bit much.

    Sure, raw talent should matter. But, should raw talent be the be all and end all of your skill? Which, again realistically, is what the 2e NWP system said. Yes, you could add a point on every three or four levels to a single NWP, but, it was far, far more likely that you were going to take another NWP.

    Not that it was a terrible system mind you. Far from it and vastly superior to what had come before (which was pretty much nothing) in D&D. Just that it was a very limited system. You got so few NWP - 3 or 4 depending on class - at 1st level that it meant that you could do a couple of things, and then pretty much everything else was beyond you.

    Never mind that the list was just wonky as well. Far too specific.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BryonD View Post
    I'm certain you can cherry pick examples. But I disagree that this is a universal truth.
    You're the one cherry picking. The scene above is a cool one, but it's one of many. Cinematic heroes pick themselves up and get back into fights they look like they've all but lost constantly. It's almost a cliche. And D&D's hp-and-healing system has always required characters get beat down and healed up to 'feel like they've been in a fight.' All 4e did was remove the need for the Cleric to be the cut-man in the corner, every, single, time. It let individual heroes take care of themselves, to a small extent. It's much truer to genre than the Cleric standing behind you, touching you periodically to close your wounds in every single little fight. Which, really, is a little weird and un-heroic.

    If I fireball some goblins in the morning, it doesn't take anything away from fireballing some orcs in the evening. If I do the thing I can only do against the guy who killed my father when I fighting a nobody, then it has no dramatic value when I do it against the guy who really did kill my father.
    Then obviously healing surges aren't one of those once-in-a-story-arc things. OTOH, a magical spell that blows up a 40' sphere and leaves a room if not a building a burned-out husk, just might be a rarely-used thing, not a goblin-sweeper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    And none of that says anything remotely like "You're not tall enough for this ride." There's never been an edition of D&D outside of hyperbolic arguments on the internet that have shown a class is not good enough to adventure with any other.
    There have certainly been some vast gulfs between classes in various editions and at certain level ranges. A 1st level magic-user, unless he happened to start with a strong-at-1st-level spell, like Sleep, was not pulling his own weight. By 3rd he was already potentially obviating some contributions of the poor Thief via the occasional Knock or Invisibility. At high level, he was out of control. Not as far out of control as the 'tier 1' classes of 3.x, though. The Cleric, Druid and Wizard could quite easily obviate other classes using spells, class abilities, class-specific feats, and/or magic items they made. A talented powergamer could come up with one or two fairly specific builds that would let another class be viable in some area - a charge build or broken multiclassing combo or the like - but that was really just part of the same problem: fragile game balance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    shouldn't your raw talent matter?
    I guess so, although the notion of "raw talent" in relation to (say) sprinting, blacksmithing, crocheting, or arguing a legal case in front of the Supreme Court, is probably pretty different in each case.

    But even if we go with a standard, ability-score approach to "raw talent", there are lots of different options.

    One is straight-down-the-line NWP: raw talent is the overwhelmingly dominant consideration. A variation on this is the Skills & Powers approach, which uses stat bonuses rather than stat scores, and so flattens the difference between ability scores in the 8 to 13 range.

    Another is the Rolemaster or 3E approach - stat bonuses are added to a rank bonus, and the character development mechanic means that the rank bonus quickly outstrips the stat bonus. Stat is still very important in both systems, though, because in RM ranks give diminishing returns (+5/+2/+1/+0.5 per rank for ranks 1-10/11-20/21-30/31+), and in 3E DCS tend to scale in such a way that the extra edge provided by a stat is always a strong benefit. (4e resembles 3E in this respect.)

    Another is the Burning Wheel approach - stat determines starting ranks when a skill is opened, but otherwise has no effect. In combination with a diminishing returns approach to skill rank increase - increases are based on use, and require more (and more dangerous) use the higher your existing rank - this means that a high stat is a benefit when opening new skills, but becomes less significant as a skill increases.

    Runequest combines aspects of the RM/3E approach and the BW approach - stats provide a (modest) bonus to the starting score of a skill, but increase is then based on the famous "roll over on % dice after using a skill" method. So like BW "raw talent" (good stats) boosts starting scores, but the gap is going to close over the course of play, as those who start with lower bonuses get more skill increases (due to it being easier to roll over a low skill) until they start to catch up.

    I think I'm becoming a bigger fan of stats mattering less, and so think I prefer the RQ or BW approaches to the RM, 3E or NWP approaches. I imagine that D&Dnext will not use the RQ or BW approach to skill increase (very hard to port into a non-level-less game, apart from anything else). But there must be other ways of making raw talent (ie stat) give a hand up early on, but reduce in importance as the game progresses, and ranks earned in play come to dominate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Then obviously healing surges aren't one of those once-in-a-story-arc things. OTOH, a magical spell that blows up a 40' sphere and leaves a room if not a building a burned-out husk, just might be a rarely-used thing, not a goblin-sweeper.
    As well as this way of looking at it, there is the flipside also: why not try and make every combat as dramatic as the one in which you fight the man who killed your father?

    D&D is never going to get as close to this way of doing things as Burning Wheel or The Riddle of Steel, but on ther other hand there is no reason why "filler combats" have to be part of everyone's D&D game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I'm going to roll a random die - 1d10+1 using the En World die roller. That's the level. Go through each edition and, we'll use fighter, tell me what choices I can make to make my character more specialized at that level.
    7, huh? Not a bad level in any ed.

    AD&D 1e, pre-UA: You can choose to be of just about any race, but if you choose halfling, for instance, you never made it to 7th level. So the mere fact of being a 7th level fighter means you're probably human. Weapon and armor 'choice' (though really, if you go for anything other than Platemail & Sheild and Longsword, you're a chump, because most magic weapons are swords, and most magic swords are longswords, and Plate & shield gives you the best AC).

    AD&D 1e, post-UA: Add Weapon Specialization. Now your weapon choice matters, because it's magic longswords, or quizinart of doom dual-wielding double-specialized hand axes or double-bow-specialization.

    AD&D 1e, 'survival guides': Add non-weapon proficiencies to your list of trivial customization choices.

    AD&D 2e: Add choice of kits. Level limits have been raised, so more races are possible for a 7th level fighter - maybe even all of them, I don't recall the whole chart.

    3e: You can now be of any race, though human and half-orc are particularly good, and gnome and halfling rather poor. As a 7th level fighter you have (coincidentaly) 7 feats (2 at 1st, one at 2nd, one at 3rd, one at 4th, and 2 at 6th). You have 20+10x(INT mod) skill ranks (ie, probably 20) to distribute to a rather puny skill list, with 10 ranks being competent for level 7. Weapon choice matters a little bit more because there's no random chart weighting things in favor of the longsword, though that Spiked Chain looks pretty goofy, but mechanically quite good. Depending on your feat and weapon choices you might be a high-damage melee type, pretty good archer, or area-denial specialist making multiple AoOs every round against anything w/in 10' of you (20' with an Enlarge spells from a friendly caster or potion).

    4e: You can be of any race, Human, Dragonborn, Dwarf, and half-orc are particularly good choices, halfling has a slight disadvantage. Weapon choices is still meaningful, but armor choice is a no-brainer. To shield or not to shield is a rather significant choice. As a 7th level fighter, you get to choose 2 at-will attack exploits, 3 encounter attack exploits, 2 daily attack exploits, and 2 utility exploits, you also get 4 feats. You can choose 3 skills from a smaller list of consolidated skills (though still a paltry class skill list), and you're competent with all 3 throughout your career. A feat will buy you similar competency in an additional skill that needn't be on your class list. You can also choose one or more backgrounds, and a Theme.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    As well as this way of looking at it, there is the flipside also: why not try and make every combat as dramatic as the one in which you fight the man who killed your father?
    Very good point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    As well as this way of looking at it, there is the flipside also: why not try and make every combat as dramatic as the one in which you fight the man who killed your father?
    Player fatigue. If every fight is that dramatic, then they become kind of blasÚ. I think RPGs need a variety of paces and intensities to remain fresh.
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    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    Player fatigue. If every fight is that dramatic, then they become kind of blasÚ. I think RPGs need a variety of paces and intensities to remain fresh.
    Actually, for once, I would agree with you Bill91. Any Fiction Writing 101 guide will tell you that you have to vary things up to make it more interesting.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with a quicky side fight once in a while just to make things interesting.
    The rules don't give the DM their authority. The consent of the players does. - Mallus

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