D&D 5th Edition Magic Items in D&D Next - Page 12




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  1. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Jerome View Post
    Me too. It's a necessary skill for great DMing.
    IMO/IME, the best (most fun) GMs are those who unabashedly and unashamedly can fly by the seat of their pants without looking like they lose control or violate the spirit of the game rules.

    I'm not sold 100% on the "system matters" meme, nor on the opposite, but I do think that to the extent that "system matters," it matters.
    Absolutely agree. Some systems are better for certain tasks than others. Even generic systems, like Hero or Savage Worlds, bring some flavor with them. But, some systems are heavier than others. I don't see Savage Worlds being used for a gritty, technically detailed, hard science fiction game, for example.

    My objection to calling AD&D gritty is not whether it encourages that play style (which I'm not entirely sold on, as much as Gary's modules did so). Rather, it's the idea (express or implied) that it's difficult to run an epic or high fantasy game with AD&D. Such a claim is like saying it's more difficult for a healthy 20 year old to go up a flight of stairs than down -- technically true, but not meaningfully so.

 

  • #112
    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    If you make the system "forgiving" enough, you don't have to worry so much about making sure that each encounter is exactly this many XP and is composed of monsters of only these levels. This worked (others may disagree) very well in earlier editions, which had a lesser version of it unintentionally. I can't speak for all the old-timers out there, but I just don't recall any DMs complaining about having the inability to judge and predict the difficulty of their encounters with their parties until 3e came along.* The never-ending escalation of ACs and DCs means that monsters a few levels too high become effectively invulnerable, and monsters a few levels too low represent no credible threat at all.
    I am extremely skeptical that 1e or 2e were significantly easier in that regard. The main difference is one of expectations. Non-newbie DM knew that such things were error prone, and had no expectation that the something like a magic CR rating could be counted on as being useful.

    Hey, one night your low-level PC happens to run into a vampire because that is what the random city encounter table says. These things happen. Time to roll up a new character.

    ACs went up. THAC0 went up. Damage went up. Weird effects went up. DR scaled up brutally fast. SR scaled up brutally fast. Saving Throws did not scale up, so much.

    It is not very different, overall.
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  • #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridley's Cohort View Post
    I am extremely skeptical that 1e or 2e were significantly easier in that regard. The main difference is one of expectations. Non-newbie DM knew that such things were error prone, and had no expectation that the something like a magic CR rating could be counted on as being useful.
    I'm not sure if you're an old-timer or not, but, as I said, that's my experience. The idea that encounters were tough to balance seems a relatively recent issue. While expectations may be a part of it, I think they'd go more along the lines of "You should be smart enough to avoid putting a "can only be hit by +2 or better" monster up against your low-magic party." Rather than "Its just a lot of work to DM and spend a lot of time carefully balancing these encounters."

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridley's Cohort View Post
    Hey, one night your low-level PC happens to run into a vampire because that is what the random city encounter table says. These things happen. Time to roll up a new character.

    ACs went up. THAC0 went up. Damage went up. Weird effects went up. DR scaled up brutally fast. SR scaled up brutally fast. Saving Throws did not scale up, so much.

    It is not very different, overall.
    You're correct to an extent, but its not the question at hand. Specifically;
    If your party finds a magic item, and magic items are not part of the fundamental math expectations of the game, how do you prepare balanced encounters? (or how difficult is it?)
    So, yes, if you were using a random encounter table back in the day, you'd expect a lot of low-level character death. However, that was an expectation of the game from the get go, anyway. In any edition, fights that are either cake-walks or nigh-impossibly deadly are possible (although, likely stretching the rules in 4e.) The real question is, how likely are you (as a DM) to whip one out unintentionally, or how hard is it to make sure that your encounters are in that "sweet spot"?

    You're right (except ThAC0 went down) about the characters getting more competent and the monsters getting more competent as well. However, somehow, it just wasn't that hard to eyeball it and make interesting encounters...I'm not really sure why or what mechanics I'd point to, except that 3e was the first edition, AFAIK, that was written and designed with such a window in mind. I've heard old-timers argue for all sorts of things being the case: Saving Throws, HP, changes to monster mechanics, the general power curve being gentler etc. all have their proponents. ::shrug:: Maybe its just some weird gestalt thing about the entire mechanical system.

  • #114
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    I agree that it was a weird alchemy; I think it was largely a whole bunch of options that are cheesey only if you look too hard, that were rolled into what was called "being a good DM". I think it had to do with the assumed omniscience of elements in the setting as to the player characters' stature: if you were low level, then dragons would be flying high above (if you asked about the DM's conveniently placed overhead cover, and hid under it you were golden), whereas orc hordes would be sending out hunting parties to ambush you. If you were high level, the dragon would be spoiling for a fight but the orcs would be running away or attacking you en masse. As a low level party, the only way the dragon would actually attack was if you actually stood in the open, or (if the DM was being really mean) if you fluffed a roll to hide; and, even then, the dragon would likely be in a mood for talking so that you could "roleplay" your way out of it (i.e. you were safe unless you actually insulted the dragon or refused to give it what it wanted, depending on what the DM had decided the "price" was for avoiding this fight).

    In other words, there were a variety of encounter types, mostly intended to make sure that PCs only had to actually fight those they could beat and time was not wasted on party walkovers. I'm not sure what we thought the reason for all this was - to provide some sort of illusion of a "real" world with dangerous stuff in it, maybe?
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  • #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Jerome View Post
    I think a survey of games where such a major drift of one playstyle to another has been tried will show it's dang hard no matter where you start or end up.

    Better to start, as much as possible (but no more than that ) playstyle neutral, and then have modules that move in all sorts of directions.
    I think that depends on how hard it is to unmake the supporting rules, not the political decision of "playstyle neutral" (if that's even possible.) That is, removing rules is usually much harder than adding a rule, but about as hard as modifying. (Just due to rules interdependence.) Therefore, even if "playstyle neutral" is possible, you would avoid it unless its also the least "ruled up" version of the game. So, since basic game is striving to be the simplest set of rules that reflects D&D well, whatever playstyle that is...it is. If that means grim-n-gritty, well, we'll be adding extra treasure or starting a level or two higher for more heroic games.

    However, I would suggest that playstyle is a lot more than just one dimension of character heroism, and that 5e-basic will have its own particular flavor, just like all the other editions. The real trick will be in writing modules to modify that flavor to cover all the ground that people have stretched D&D to cover, and do so in a predictable way. In that respect, 5e might accidentally inform us how much of playstyle is rules and how much is personality at the table.

  • #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    In other words, there were a variety of encounter types, mostly intended to make sure that PCs only had to actually fight those they could beat and time was not wasted on party walkovers. I'm not sure what we thought the reason for all this was - to provide some sort of illusion of a "real" world with dangerous stuff in it, maybe?
    We need a reason for having a variety of encounter types and making sure that we aren't wasting time on party walkovers?

    I think you're hitting close to the mark, though.

  • #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    I think that depends on how hard it is to unmake the supporting rules, not the political decision of "playstyle neutral" (if that's even possible.) That is, removing rules is usually much harder than adding a rule, but about as hard as modifying. (Just due to rules interdependence.)
    I think that depends on exactly what you mean by "rule". Some "rules elements" (particular magic items, monsters, spells, powers, classes and so on) are trivial to exclude, whereas tinkering with the underlying rules chassis that ties all those elements together can be a real headache. This is a very important distiction to get clear, I think; it comes into a lot of discussions around edition flexibility. A system that had underlying rules that were clear and complete, but had a range of (modular) rules elements that could be a mix of explicit and vague, for example, might give scope to please a very wide range of people - if they can agree on that underlying chassis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    We need a reason for having a variety of encounter types and making sure that we aren't wasting time on party walkovers?
    Well, we could usefully look at why we had a random "encounter" system that generated results that gave the ultimatum "come up with some reason this encounter is gonna be non-lethal/non-tedious NOW or face the consequences, GM!" on several of its rolls. Why not just consider a range of encounters from the get-go?
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  • #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    I think that depends on exactly what you mean by "rule". Some "rules elements" (particular magic items, monsters, spells, powers, classes and so on) are trivial to exclude, whereas tinkering with the underlying rules chassis that ties all those elements together can be a real headache. This is a very important distiction to get clear, I think; it comes into a lot of discussions around edition flexibility. A system that had underlying rules that were clear and complete, but had a range of (modular) rules elements that could be a mix of explicit and vague, for example, might give scope to please a very wide range of people - if they can agree on that underlying chassis.
    I dunno, even some rules elements can be pretty hard to remove, especially if the game's mathematics and architecture are written with the presence of said element in mind. Saying the a Bard 5 Electric Boogaloo power is forbidden is probably easier than rearranging the entire AEDU system or even Bard class. Taking out Magic Missile, though, can really change an AD&D game from levels 4-6, though. Nonetheless, I think you're correct that there is an important distinction.

    Since we're talking about how to balance encounters with or without magic items, that can be a really tricky area. My original point was that (I feel, at least) that Bounded Accuracy helps reduce the impact or necessity of a +1 sword to "balance", while at the same time making it feel even more special to the players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    Well, we could usefully look at why we had a random "encounter" system that generated results that gave the ultimatum "come up with some reason this encounter is gonna be non-lethal/non-tedious NOW or face the consequences, GM!" on several of its rolls. Why not just consider a range of encounters from the get-go?
    I'm not a big fan of random encounter tables, usually. However, I do agree with your position that the variety of encounters is important. I just think they should be intentional on the DM's part.

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