D&D 4th Edition Rule-of-Three: 06/19/2012 - Page 4





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  1. #31
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    ° Ignore Mercutio01
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Our experiences here are completely the opposite. For integration of story elements and mechanics, 4e is one of the stronger games I know. (It's not on the same level as HeroWars/Quest, say, which uses freefrom descriptors as its key mechanical units in character building.) And if you're wondering what I've got in mind, it's the examples in this post and upthread.
    I totally, totally disagree. I seriously couldn't be any farther away from your opinion on this. It's a hemispherical difference. If you're standing on the International Dateline, I'm in Greenwich. If you're at the South Pole, I'm at the North. 180 out.

    I could strip off those little fluff bits from every single power in 4E without changing anything at all about how the game plays. Literally. I'd go so far as to say, in my experience, no other single edition of D&D went as far in divorcing the mechanics from the fluff as 4E.

 

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    ° Ignore Mishihari Lord
    I would really like to see a non-clunky facing rule. Unfortunately experience has shown that that's much easier said than done.
    "Enough screwing around. It's time to kill."

    --Duke Nukem

  • #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercutio01 View Post
    I could strip off those little fluff bits from every single power in 4E without changing anything at all about how the game plays. Literally. I'd go so far as to say, in my experience, no other single edition of D&D went as far in divorcing the mechanics from the fluff as 4E.
    This really isn't true, though.

    The fluff bits for the powers in 4E can be removed, but the way the flavor comes through the mechanics themselves will still remain. Even if you completely reskin kobolds into a unit of guerillas fighting in the Revolutionary War, the Shifty ability remains, and thus the sense that you are fighting an incredibly mobile and hard to pin down enemy who is always one step ahead of you remains. Similarly, change the flavor of a Warden's Aspect powers all you want, but you'll still get the impression of transformation and/or layering on a powerful magical armor. Rename a Shaman's Spirit Companion all you want but it will still mechanically play out as an ally who acts to protect and support the PCs. These things have incredibly strong flavor, and that really is one of 4E's strengths.

    The truth is that mechanics always have a very strong flavor and tone associated with them. That's where the entire idea of "implied setting" comes from, though that word has been misused heavily in more recent days. A good game embraces these ideas and relies upon them heavily. Pretending such a correlation doesn't exist would just create a game that is at odds with itself.

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    ° Ignore Ratskinner
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    This implies two things: (i) that "story and background" are based on a pre-4e standard, and (ii) that "story and background" are being treated as something indpenent of, and prior to mechanics, rather than something that it is the job of the mechanics to produce.
    That sounds kinda like a good thing to me, because the only other place "story and background" can come from is the players and DM....which I like.

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    So instead of hobgoblins who form phalanxes because they get an AC bonus (as in 4e), there will be flavour text telling us that hobgoblins form phalanxes, and that goblins are sneaky, even though mechanically there will be little reason for the hobgoblins not to sneak or for the goblins not to form phalanxes.
    Maybe forming Phalanxes should depend on your circumstances, rather than race? Maybe a lone hobgoblin scout will respond rather intelligently, instead of trying to form a phalanx with himself? I mean, it sounds like you're complaining that monsters can be flexible.

  • #35
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    ° Ignore Ratskinner
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinBahamut View Post
    This really isn't true, though.

    The fluff bits for the powers in 4E can be removed, but the way the flavor comes through the mechanics themselves will still remain. Even if you completely reskin kobolds into a unit of guerillas fighting in the Revolutionary War, the Shifty ability remains, and thus the sense that you are fighting an incredibly mobile and hard to pin down enemy who is always one step ahead of you remains. Similarly, change the flavor of a Warden's Aspect powers all you want, but you'll still get the impression of transformation and/or layering on a powerful magical armor. Rename a Shaman's Spirit Companion all you want but it will still mechanically play out as an ally who acts to protect and support the PCs. These things have incredibly strong flavor, and that really is one of 4E's strengths.

    The truth is that mechanics always have a very strong flavor and tone associated with them. That's where the entire idea of "implied setting" comes from, though that word has been misused heavily in more recent days. A good game embraces these ideas and relies upon them heavily. Pretending such a correlation doesn't exist would just create a game that is at odds with itself.
    I tend to agree, except for your last point, and it being a strength. I don't believe a good game necessarily has to have an implied setting. If anything, I think 4e overshot the mark in prescribing flavor. IMO, its a big part of the strong reactions that 4e engendered.

    Also, you do realize that your post is the antithesis of the "4e can do anything, just refluff it." argument?

  • #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    I tend to agree, except for your last point, and it being a strength. I don't believe a good game necessarily has to have an implied setting. If anything, I think 4e overshot the mark in prescribing flavor. IMO, its a big part of the strong reactions that 4e engendered.
    You're missing the point. Games don't choose whether they have an implied setting or not, they just choose what that implied setting is (unless the game was designed badly, in which case the implied setting exists without thought and probably hurts the tone of the game).

    For example, Chess has an implied setting, even if you change the names for all of the pieces. Half the pieces are weak, disposable grunts that have a hope to become better pieces. Many pieces are better, and one among them is far and away the most powerful of all. The final piece is weak, but must be protected at all costs. These relationships imply a story in a very direct way, and any attempt to give narrative meaning to Chess absolutely must take that implied story into account. People would laugh at a narrative description of Chess that portrayed the Queen as a timidly and frail figure who is a helpless damsel in distress, after all.

    Also, you do realize that your post is the antithesis of the "4e can do anything, just refluff it." argument?
    ...huh?

    I didn't realize that this was an edition war thread. I also didn't realize that I am somehow obligated to defend the points of view that are expressed by other people. Oh well, if that's the case, I may as well play along.

    "Mechanics have a strong implied story" and "you can refluff mechanics" are not incompatible in the least. It means that various attempts at refluffing are more appropriate than others, but it is still perfectly possible. I mean, the Warden probably would work great as a representation of a Japanese-style transforming superhero, even if it wouldn't work so well for a historical Roman Legionnaire. Similarly, you could easily refluff a dragon into some kind of rampaging robotic weapon just fine, though reskinning it into a harmless fluffy rabbit wouldn't be quite as easy (unless you like vorpal bunnies the size of a bus, which is totally okay too).

    In other words, what you think is a contradiction is, in fact, no such thing.

  • #37
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    ° Ignore Agamon
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    But I don't entirely agree. In pre-4e D&D, for example, suppose the wight is in a room with a pit, and a PC runs in fear. What is the chance that, in their terror, s/he falls into the pit? With a Deathlock Wight that is very easy to adjudicate. In earlier editions, it gets much closer to GM fiat, which (in this sort of context, in my view - fiating the stakes) tends to undermine player agency.
    It's easy to adjudicate the power, because none is necessary. It's spelled out in black and white. A great many decisions during a 4e combat boil down to "which square?" The DDN team is actually trying to put some of the power of adjudication back in the DM's hands, something I applaud. It makes the game more interesting for the guy behind the shield, imo.

  • #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Agamon View Post
    It's easy to adjudicate the power, because none is necessary. It's spelled out in black and white. A great many decisions during a 4e combat boil down to "which square?" The DDN team is actually trying to put some of the power of adjudication back in the DM's hands, something I applaud. It makes the game more interesting for the guy behind the shield, imo.
    I do question the logic of this line of thinking...

    If the DM is occupied with adjudicating rules, it just takes time and energy away from creating interesting situations and improving the quality of the story. What's more putting more power in the DM's hands isn't really an ideal state. If you ask me, it is a lot better if the DM is brought down to a more even level with the rest of the players and everyone at the table shares an even level of narrative control over the game. It gets every player more involved and would get rid of some of D&D's core problems of power, trust, ego, and the like. Honestly, I think DM empowerment is just psychologically unhealthy for the game, but that might be better off as the subject of a different thread.

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    ° Ignore Agamon
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think we may be at cross purposes. In talking about the priority of mechanics to story, I'm not talking about the process of design. I'm talking about the process of play. I want mechanics that yield a story (of militaristic hobgoblins, shifty kobolds or whatever). When the only story difference between the two arises out of GM patter, but isn't evident in the actual mechanical experience of playing the game, then from my point of view there isn't really a significant story difference at all.
    The problem, though, is this goes against the mission statement of DDN. If you want to create a game that is adaptable to different groups with different play styles, then hard coding flavor mechanically into your monsters is the wrong way to go.

    If I have a world where hobgoblins aren't elite soldiers, instead of just saying this is so, I would have to rewrite them statistically if they had a phalanx power.

    And GM patter can lead to mechanical differences, if the GM so chooses. Now, from your other posts, I gather you wouldn't find that acceptable. Some people like having a written rule that they can point to, some like being able to make it up as they go.

    They say they want to be able to let you play the way you want, so they must plan to allow both styles to playable in DDN. I guess we'll see what they do.

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    ° Ignore Agamon
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinBahamut View Post
    I do question the logic of this line of thinking...

    If the DM is occupied with adjudicating rules, it just takes time and energy away from creating interesting situations and improving the quality of the story. What's more putting more power in the DM's hands isn't really an ideal state. If you ask me, it is a lot better if the DM is brought down to a more even level with the rest of the players and everyone at the table shares an even level of narrative control over the game. It gets every player more involved and would get rid of some of D&D's core problems of power, trust, ego, and the like. Honestly, I think DM empowerment is just psychologically unhealthy for the game, but that might be better off as the subject of a different thread.
    If it was just a thought, I'd have trouble arguing it, but it's experience. Coming up with interesting situations and improving the quality of the story doesn't often happen in the middle of a fight. In between encounters, the different flavors of D&D aren't too much different, and this is where the story takes place, for the most part. So I don't really see the level of tactics in a game affecting that much.

    4e style fights are less interesting to me, simply because I want to be creative during all phases of the game, and I want my players to be, too. If all encounter mechanics are codified, I'd rather flip a switch and let a computer take over during the fights, because that's what it feels like I'm doing. Enough rules to make sound decisions, not enough to remove them.

    All this said, I want people that do enjoy a more codified tactical system to be able to play the game their way, too. Mearls says that catering to all styles is the objective. I hope he succeeds.

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