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Thread: Working in the Game Mine
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 01:44 AM #141
Magsman (Lvl 14)
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Monday, 16th July, 2012, 02:22 AM #142
Defender (Lvl 8)
Missed a few in between, I'll catch up.
EDIT: Take a look at @JamesonCourage and @Aberzanzorax 's last couple of posts they are great too.
Monster classes DOES solve this problem because then we can figure out where aspects come from. Their lack is what makes role = classes unacceptable to me. Add in the fact that wizards have roles too, so PCs have roles and classes and monsters have only roles, which (possibly) are inaccurate, fallible and non-explanative.
I would have the same objection to classless PCs, because defining the "fighter" as a brute or defender ONLY would be silly. He is a fighter, he has those other things too as variations but he isn't just those things.
So calling a brute ogre JUST a brute ogre without saying how he got to be a brute doesn't tell us where the ogre begins. Brute isn't a class it is a role, as I said 2 (I think) posts back.
Last edited by Tovec; Monday, 16th July, 2012 at 02:30 AM. Reason: caught up
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 02:36 AM #143
Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)
The fire mephit in the arctic is interesting - the 4e approach to this would probably be simply to restat it, rather than to overlay a "weakened by arctic frost" template which would have the same end result.
Is it widely argued that 4e monsters are bland? That would strike me as being at odds with my own experience, but I'm happy to hear the case made out.
But if you're saying the game will be better if monsters have more uniform statblocks, and all the work is done by them exploiting numbers plus the terrain around them, I think I want to see some evidence for that. Because it is somewhat contrary to my own experience.
But as to attributing where abilities come from - maybe your 10th level ogre brute is taller and heavier than your 6th level one. Or maybe it got trained at the brute academy. I don't see that those sorts of explanations have to be very intimately related to the mechanical build process.
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 03:12 AM #144
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
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I'm not calling 4e monsters bland. I'm calling monsters without weaknesses that show up in game bland. I put equal weight/blame on encounter design for 3e and 4e in that regard.
You asked if we were talking about encounter design, and, in a sense, no, I'm not talking about encounter design. I'm talking about monster design.
I am talking about monster design primarily as it relates to the encounter, however. And you're correct to not read too much into my examples...they're just there for facilitating understanding (well, that was the intent, anyway).
I'm, in a nutshell, primarily saying that a monster isn't there to fulfil a role. It may "fall into" a role, sure. Naming that role helps to categorize monsters (especially for dm selection). But my point is that monsters are there to be evocative monsters...and that any given monster might fulfil multiple roles. It might also be poor at some roles, and rather than searching out a different monster, or creating a variant, it can be good adventure design and good writing to use the monster in a sub par way to highlight its weakness.
Regarding the ogre archers and the distinction between encounter design versus monster design...I'm designing a monster who has pros (strength and hp) and flaws (clumsy). The rock throwing/archery point was meant that the ogres would be bad at it. I'm making it an easy encounter to highlight a flaw of the monster. The Ogres do not want a ranged encounter (but it makes sense in context that one would occur). The player (characters) are happy to have a ranged encounter against these up-close monsters. If there are "ogre rock thrower" variants who are bad up close, but great ranged attackers, then we don't have this phenomenon occurring.
I'm not really discussing 4e or 3e in any way...I'm mostly theorizing about what I believe to be good design. You (Pemerton) state:
I think that's what I most need to clarify.But if you're saying the game will be better if monsters have more uniform statblocks, and all the work is done by them exploiting numbers plus the terrain around them, I think I want to see some evidence for that. Because it is somewhat contrary to my own experience.
No, I don't mean exploiting numbers or terrain (at least not necessarily). I mean, simply put "let goblins be goblins".
What would the goblins do to keep invaders out of their lair? Some would do x, some y, some z. I think there's an advantage to having "regular goblins with bows, regular goblins with short swords, and regular goblins holding a defensive line". The point there is that if they are good enough at more than one thing (rather than breaking them down into super-specialized sub groupings), then more than one meaningful encounter can take place, and it will be different, but the same. It's the sameness I'm arguing for as a good thing...that players develop a base understanding of "goblin" and know that the, say, archery might be bad for themselves, but that they'll wipe the goblins when the critters are forced to fight hand to hand.
To put it another way, I think there is something lost when there are goblins who are good archers for the archery combat, and goblins who are good tunnelers for the tunnel ambush, and goblins who are brutish for the elite combat. While this varies the combats, it makes goblins more meaningless as a race (because in 2 levels it's orcs who are good at all three, and then bugbears, ogres, giants, etc). But those are comparisons amongst very similar species.
What about elves versus goblins, versus dwarves, versus mephits? Each has their own schtick, generally, but that schtick is lost between the tough elf, the flying goblin, the nimble dwarf and the tricky mephit variants (if they exist).
I've not thought much about edition so far. I think everything I mention has been a problem in both 3e and 4e. Designing a monster for a role (named or not) is the issue I take ubrage with.
However, let's bring up 4e. One great element is that goblins, orcs, elves, mephits, etc. are all, on a base level, quite different from one another. I'm not arguing to erase that difference...I applaud it. What I'm arguing against is goblin skirmisher versus goblin lurker versus goblin elite (here we're editionless again, as this also occurred in 3e). If its a goblin only campaign, then that variety is welcomed...the players will deal with a lot of e.g. goblin lurkers and get to know them. But if it's a one shot adventure to hit a goblin lair...then let the players learn the enemy, and give the enemy more than one thing to do. Sure, maybe their king is tougher (an elite or a brute or a solo). But hit players with the same goblins several times so the players learn what they are good at, moderate at, and poor at...and let the players adapt to this. Allow players to force goblins to get close because they're weaker that way. Do not make each goblin encounter essentially a "new monster" by introducing too many variants of "goblin". Yes, every encounter will be new and challenging, and different, but the continuity and the learning curve suffer.
Well...I tried to be more clear...but it's late here, and I'm not sure I was. Hit me with questions for more clarity if ya like and I'll post a response tomorrow.
Last edited by Aberzanzorax; Monday, 16th July, 2012 at 03:35 AM.
Let the rules serve the adventure rather than the adventure serving the rules.
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 03:51 AM #145
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 03:58 AM #146
Guide (Lvl 11)
Personally, I'm baffled by it. I don't see much difference between that problem and the fact that old-school kobolds-goblins-orcs-hobgoblins-etc. basically form a spectrum of "humanoid with infravision" that only vary by slight increases in stats.
That being said, I could really get into the idea that monsters are species first-role second. That could make for some really nice design space.
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 04:02 AM #147
Defender (Lvl 8)
- Medium: As Medium creatures, humans have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Human base land speed is 30 feet.
- 1 extra feat at 1st level.
- 4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level.
- Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such as Druidic). See the Speak Language skill.
- Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass human takes an experience point penalty, his or her highest-level class does not count.
Base Ogre as per 3.5 (srd)
Ogres As Characters
Ogre characters possess the following racial traits.
- +10 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, -4 Intelligence, -4 Charisma.
- Large size. -1 penalty to Armor Class, -1 penalty on attack rolls, -4 penalty on Hide checks, +4 bonus on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits double those of Medium characters.
- Space/Reach: 10 feet/10 feet.
- An ogre’s base land speed is 40 feet.
- Darkvision out to 60 feet.
- Racial Hit Dice: An ogre begins with four levels of giant, which provide 4d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +3, and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +4, Ref +1, and Will +1.
- Racial Skills: An ogre’s giant levels give it skill points equal to 7 × (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1). Its class skills are Climb, Listen, and Spot.
- Racial Feats: An ogre’s giant levels give it two feats.
- Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An ogre is automatically proficient with simple weapons, martial weapons, light and medium armor, and shields.
- +5 natural armor bonus.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Giant. Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Terran.
- Favored Class: Barbarian.
- Level adjustment +2.
I can't post the 4e stuff. But look at pages...162 for human and 198 for ogres of the 1st monster manual 4e.
There are SEVERAL ogres, one described as 'Large Natural Humanoid, Level 16 Minion'. How does that relate to the 3e version of 4th level Ogre Barbarian.
That is what I'm talking about. One has base stats. One doesn't. With 3e I can create a mage-barbarian-assassin-monk-ogre if I so choose because I have BASE OGRE stats. I can do the same with a human if I want because I have BASE HUMAN stats. I have these because they are races and they have stats listed. I can't on the other hand take the 'Level 16 Minion' or even the 'Level 8 Brute' (on the next page) and extrapolate a BASE ogre. There is no BASE ogre in 4e.
Regardless of your question, which I hope I answered, I wasn't talking about 3e vs 4e. I was talking about a style (closer to 3e I'll admit) that has a BASE creature which can be customized or a system that uses a base creature at the core so that all the creatures derived are similar to that base. I wasn't talking about 3e or 4e monster design at all, just systems which are near it or based on it. I am talking about monster design going forward not which monster design system was best and which was worst in the past. 3e has holes. I can point them out and so can you. I find 4e lacking but you seem to think it is perfect*. I can deal with that but that isn't relevant here. I'm talking about what I would like to see as far as monster design going forward. It doesn't make sense to me to NOT have a base creature and instead have only a lurker, brute, minion, solo, boss, artillery and banana flavoured options for every creature just because - without any reasoning or explanation. I can come up with a reason but I don't feel I should have to for any given situation when I buy a game from a developer.
The other point I try to make is that those titles are often inaccurate. Especially when different tactics or maneuvers are used. When you don't use the brute as the guy who stands there to take the damage (and forcus) and to smash the crap out of you - and instead use him as a big meanie hiding in the shadows what does that make him? Is a minion still a minion if used by himself - I know the answer is yes but WHY is it?
I'm also going to ignore the "brute academy" reasoning idea entirely. That isn't what either one of us are really talking about and I think it will derail this conversation more than anything else.
*If not perfect you at least believe that what I think are big holes or bugs aren't. You seem to think they are features or minor problems that can be easily patched with X or Y houserule. Evident from the "full rest means staying in Rivendell"** comments.
**You didn't say Rivendell on this thread, now that I think about it, but that is the general idea if I'm not mistaken.
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 04:39 AM #148
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 07:57 AM #149
Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)
I'm reminded of an encounter I ran in 4e when the PCs were around 4th level. They were riding on a plain, and saw a number of hobgoblins on foot at a distance. So they started using (what I gather from one of my players are) Parthian tactics - letting loose a flurry of ranged attacks, then falling back on their horses. The hobgoblins had to double-run to close (giving them a movement rate of 14, vs 8 for a single move on a horse, but granting combat advantage for running), and the PCs got multiple rounds of free attacks before melee commenced.
Another encounter I ran involved a black dragon coming to investigate the PCs standing on a temple portico, and them attacking it at range as it closed.
Are these the sorts of encounters that you mean? If they are, then constructing them (at least as I experienced it) turns mostly on terrain features and monster selection - the hobgoblins, for example, all had the Soldier role, and no meaningful ranged attacks. (To some extent, of course, the players can choose to have the PC stake out this terrain or that, but ultimately it is the GM who has control over what NPCs/monsters, if any, turn up.)
If you don't want ogres who are strong rock throwers in your encounter, isn't the easiest thing to do just not to use them?
With it's pack attacking gnolls, and its phalanx-forming hobgoblins, I feel that 4e does OK at marking the distinction between various humanoid tribal cultures. But I'm happy to have other designs put forward that will do the same thing.
Ultimately, I see role as a integrating intended combat function (by reference to which particular powers and abilities will then be designed) and level (the overall measure of toughness) by means of a series of mathematical tricks to be played with, like eg giving one monster high AC and modest hp (say, a heavily armoured hobgoblin captain - it's a Soldier) and another monster modest AC and high hp (say, a loin-cloth wearing ogre - it's a Brute) and yet another monster fewer hp but better accuracy (say, an archer - it's Artillery; or a sneak - it's a Lurker). I think that's consistent with each monster variety having its own schtick, and also with some monster varieties not filling particular roles (I don't think the MM has any gnoll or goblin soldiers, for example, nor any hobgoblin lurkers).
I see "solo" and "elite" in much the same terms. Want a monster that has lots of hit points relative to its attack and defence numbers? Maybe it's an elite.
What role - at least in the 4e implementation - does do is put some outer limits. Statting up a monster with a 10-point gap between its best and worst defence is starting to stretch the design parameters of the system. Likewise statting up a monster with elite-level hit points but the action economy of a single monster - this will produce grind, as the PCs belt away at a sack of hit points that can't do much in retaliation.
If D&Dnext has different design goals from 4e - and bounded accuracy should make some difference - then role (if it exist at all) could probably be implemented differently, or at least with different constraints. But I think this is somewhat orthogonal to making sure monsters are flavoursome and versatile. I certainly haven't found 4e monsters lacking in versatility.
Monday, 16th July, 2012, 08:35 AM #150
Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)
4e doesn't need a BASE ogre in that sense, because it builds monsters according to different rules and mechanics. It is very easy to build an ogre monk in 4e, though - for example, I might take the Warhulk, swap its Fort and Ref (or, with a bit more thought, change <Fort 26 Ref 21 Will 21> to <Fort 23 Ref 23 Will 22>, and redescribe its two flail attacks as open hand figting. Now I have an ogre that is tough, quick, and knocks people prone with its kung fu moves. If I want to make it a bit more fancy I can give it a 1x/enc phasing power (maybe "as a move action, until the end of its turn the ogre gains phasing and can shift up to half its speed"). I wouldn't bother If it giving it self-healing - it already has a lot of hp, and doesn't really need anymore. If, in play, it would turn out to be cute to let it talk to animals, I think I can ad lib that in.
As far as making monsters the same - you give them similar powers and abilities (though an ogre isn't distinguished by very much other than its flavour text - mechancially, it's just a big hitting thing!)
That's the point of my reference to the "brute academy" - whatever story you tell to explain your monster in some earlier edition, you can tell the same story in 4e. It's just that 4e doesn't ask you to build the monster by following the sequence of the story - it's not a lifepath method, its an end result method.
As for whether 4e is perfect - I've never asserted that, although this thread may not be the place to state what I think its flaws are (for what it's worth, I think its monster design is one of its stronger features).