D&D 5th Edition With Respect to the Door and Expectations....The REAL Reason 5e Can't Unite the Base - Page 106




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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think that this whole "you have to earn the right to play the character you want to play" thing is somewhat unique to D&D. In classic D&D, where getting a truly viable PC (especially a magic-user) is itself a goal of play, it made some sense.

    Retaining it despite the cultural transition from Gygaxian gamism to the high-concept simulationism of 2nd ed AD&D and early 3E (as you are describing it) just seems strange. And tending to promote not only dysfunctional rulesets, but (in my view) somewhat dysfunctional play, based heavily around GM force and dispensation (as per the Ron Edwards quote that you posted).

    The 4e categories of Heroic, Paragon and Epic seem to me an attempt to reconcile player protagonism with D&D levelling, by making your "character identity trajectory" a given background to play, rather than a goal of play as such: you don't have to earn it (from the game or the GM) - it will come to you, over time, simply by turning up and playing. (Hence, I think, why some people criticise 4e as "player entitlement" or "munchkinism" or "overpowered" - criticisms for which I personally have little sympathy.)

    That does, of course, give rise to the question "what is the goal of 4e play, then?" I don't think the rulebooks for 4e are completely clear on this.

    I haven't yet got a sense, yet, of how D&Dnext is going to handle this sort of stuff: what is the goal of play, and how does character development and expression fit into that goal.
    I think the "you have to earn the right to play the character you want to play" thing is mostly odd in 2E--and then only because the setting and module assumptions made it odd, not because of rules changes (of course). I don't see this as odd in even early 3E, because 3E very consciously goes to a lot of trouble to make the characters better able to participate and fit from the beginning.

    Really, the problem here is that 3E is dealing with the aftershocks of merging the 2E implicit simulation goal while retaining the gamist underpinnings of the original ruleset. That's why 3E is so much more "playable" straight out of the box at the lower levels than the upper ones. It's almost as if they recognized that 1st level characters needed a few more choices and capabilities. Then someone thought, "but if we do that, what do characters grow into?" Their answer is the broken part, as they piled on more and more and more--prestige classes being just a tiny bit of that.

    For example, as a thought experiment, I'm fairly comfortable predicting that if you took low-level 3E as a starting point, otherwise unchanged, ripped out prestige classes, and then replaced them with 4E paragon paths and epic destinies (adapted, of course), you'd end up with a better 3E. That's not because the 4E versions are perfect. They aren't. Already I think Next specialties are better. Nor does that indicate that it would solve all 3E issues. It would simply be marginally better than what was there originally, because paragon paths and epic destinies are a better mechanical solution for what prestige classes were intended for. (There's some other stuff that prestige classes ended up doing, that wouldn't be replaced so easily--but then prestige classes were a kludge for things like holes in the multi-classing anyway. The 4E widgets don't help any with that.)

    Counter Forge views, I don't find mixing styles to be inherently dysfunctional in play. I think human beings are pretty sophisticated, in practice, at carrying around theoretically incompatible elements--even paradoxical ones. There are limits, and the more they are pushed, the more likely something is to be dysfunctional in practice. However, I think the limits are a lot wider than the Forge credits. Of course, if the purpose of a game is to push against particular limits very hard, then this becomes less true. The more specialized the tool, the less it tolerates alternate uses.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Jerome View Post
    It would simply be marginally better than what was there originally, because paragon paths and epic destinies are a better mechanical solution for what prestige classes were intended for.
    I think prestige classes were originally intended as a tool for world exploration through character advancement. If I recall correctly, the advice for creating and using prestige classes in the 3.0 DMG was about exploring special organizations in the world. The ones in the book were merely examples that you'd use to create your own, specific to your world/campaign.

    It would have been interesting if that was where the design led. Instead of having feat or skill requirements, you'd have to accomplish specific in-game actions. That would create an interesting reward system.
    "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul View Post
    I think prestige classes were originally intended as a tool for world exploration through character advancement. If I recall correctly, the advice for creating and using prestige classes in the 3.0 DMG was about exploring special organizations in the world. The ones in the book were merely examples that you'd use to create your own, specific to your world/campaign.

    It would have been interesting if that was where the design led. Instead of having feat or skill requirements, you'd have to accomplish specific in-game actions. That would create an interesting reward system.
    I think there are two problems with that sort of thing though. Number one, it makes it hard to sell because if you have "in world" requirements for achieving a particular PrC, then you have to provide those requirements, thus making some pretty strong assumptions about how a given table's campaign looks. We see this in many of the in world requirement PrC's and whatnot. They have to.

    The second one is, it makes the PrC's very, very hard to adapt. The limitations and requirements that work in one campaign world, don't work at all in another.

    As an example, take Vow of Poverty. This is one of the things I banned from my World's Largest Dungeon campaign for the simple reason that every PC in the game was operating from effectively a Vow of Poverty. They couldn't buy magic items (at least for the majority of the campaign), couldn't really craft anything (again, for the majority of the campaing) and money was basically valueless in the campaign. So, a character with VoP would get all the benefits while suffering none of the penalties.

    PrC's and whatnot with skill or feat requirements don't make any presumptions about someone's game world. It's not too much of a stretch to think that a pirate captain PrC needs Profession Sailor 6 ranks (or whatever) and possibly a BaB of +6. It's an easier way to design PrC's.

    Going by in world requirements requires a lot of work from the DM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul View Post
    I think prestige classes were originally intended as a tool for world exploration through character advancement.

    <snip>

    It would have been interesting if that was where the design led. Instead of having feat or skill requirements, you'd have to accomplish specific in-game actions. That would create an interesting reward system.
    I think this was always going to be a difficult ask, because prestige classes bring with them a whole lot of mechanical baggage - BAB, saves, spell progression, bonus feats or abilities, etc - that is to a significant extent orthogonal to the play goal of "exploring the gameworld" and mostly aimed at the play goal of conflict via combat. And for many D&D players, this seems to be treated as an alternative to, rather than one instance of, exploring the gameworld. And can raise fairly tricky balance issues for the inexperienced or amateur designer.

    "Exploring the world" prestige classes might be better if mechanically modelled on something like the ranger's favoured enemy or favoured terrain bonuses, and carved off from level progression. Perhaps they could be a feat, with a prerequisite along the lines that LostSoul describes. Or spells with similar sorts of prerequisites for learning them. Etc. (This might be along the lines of what @Crazy Jerome has described from time to time, of distinguishing multiple dimensions of PC advancement.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Balesir View Post
    If that is so, could you please give me a clear definition of what actually makes a mechanic "dissociated"? Because all I have seen so far are examples that seem not to differ meaningfully from examples that are "not dissociated" and vague rambles about "believability" (which is apparently not linked to "realism", as such, but to some sort of undefined genre appropriateness or something).

    If "dissociated mechanics" are really like iambic pentameter, presumably someone can tell us what they are - preferably in one short paragraph (as was done for iambic pentameter and tertrameter together just a page or two ago).
    It's basically just the same thing as a metagame mechanic. It's broader, I suppose, in the sense that it includes both metagame mechanics that facilitate a metagame agenda, and metagame mechanics that don't. In other words, it includes both good, useful metagame mechanics and bad, pointless ones.

    From http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/glossary/fulllist.html:
    Metagame mechanics Traditionally, mechanics which are not representative of in-game reality. For example, plot points or Drama Deck cards would be examples. In Ron Edwards' Big Model, this is termed as "where System and Social Contract meet, without Exploration as the medium."

    I consider martial dailies in 4e to be bad metagame mechanics, because I don't see how they facilitate gamism or narrativism better than associated alternatives. It just seems lazy and unimaginative to me to make martial special attacks function as a daily resource rather than coming up with a different, more associated balancing mechanism.

    I see dissociated mechanics as a necessary evil. A lot of people don't like them, complaining that they disrupt immersion, so you should only use them when they're really fun to play with. Be wary of them, avoid them when possible. As armchair designer I would never have approved martial dailies for 4e.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I asked a while ago about the 5e Fighter's Combat Superiority dice (or whatever they're called). They're dissociated. Flat out. Why does tripping someone mean that I cannot block an attack from someone else, but stabbing them is okay? If I spend my combat dice to trip a target, it doesn't refresh until the beginning of my next turn. Thus, I cannot reduce damage until the beginning of my next turn. If I just stabbed the guy, then I could.

    But, we don't see people up in arms about how this mechanic is dissociated and breaks immersion. From what I've seen, most people seem to think this is a really, really cool mechanic and it's getting pretty solid reviews.

    So, obviously, the dissociation of a mechanic has pretty much nothing to do with anything. It's just sloppy short hand for "I don't like it". Might as well just call it video-gamey for all the meaning it actually brings to the discussion.
    Is it dissociated, yeah, but apparently it's fun enough that people don't bother to complain about it. Or people are just buzzed about new shiny at the moment. I haven't playtested this iteration so I don't know. Going back to CrazyJerome's analogy with poetic meter, if a poem is really brilliant but not in iambic pentameter, it doesn't change the fact that it's not in iambic pentameter. What changes is the frequency that people will bother to mention that it's not in iambic pentameter.

    You could look at this as a positive sign that people aren't so obsessed with the concept of dissociated mechanics that they've become unable to enjoy them no matter how appropriate and well-executed they are. That seemed to be what you were afraid of in the part of your post that I snipped off.

    I think what would reconcile your confusion here, if you're willing to consider it, is the idea that a lot of people just didn't find AEDU that much fun to play with. If it really were super fun, then I think that would have shined through and people wouldn't have complained about dissociation so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian
    I think what would reconcile your confusion here, if you're willing to consider it, is the idea that a lot of people just didn't find AEDU that much fun to play with. If it really were super fun, then I think that would have shined through and people wouldn't have complained about dissociation so much.
    No, no confusion here. I've long stated that "Dissociated Mechanics" was sloppy shorthand for "something I don't like" with a vaguely worded, easily misinterpreted justification layered on top, rather than anything substantive. Nice when we agree.

    In other words, Dissociated Mechanics belongs in the same category as "anime" "video-gamey" and other slipshod criticisms that do absolutely nothing to add to the conversation and serve only to wave red flags in edition warring.

    All people really have to do is say, "I don't like AEDU, here's another way we could do it that I would like". But, of course, that would mean that people couldn't take cheap shots at other people's games and try to win edition wars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian View Post
    I think what would reconcile your confusion here, if you're willing to consider it, is the idea that a lot of people just didn't find AEDU that much fun to play with. If it really were super fun, then I think that would have shined through and people wouldn't have complained about dissociation so much.
    You know, if this is true then I would prefer it if people just said "I don't like AEDU mechanics because they are not fun," rather than "I don't like AEDU because they are dissociated and ruin my immersion." The latter form of conversation just drags us into a big debate over what dissociated means and what mechanics are dissociated and how important immersion is, but the former takes us straight to the much more important issue.

    Honestly, I can agree that 4E's AEDU system has some severe flaws. I think 4E wasn't wrong to unify every class under the same mechanical framework, but the particular framework it chose could have been much better. Talking about how that framework could be improved or replaced to make the game more fun for everyone, regardless of playstyle, interest in associated mechanics, or desire for immersion, would be a lot more productive than debates like these.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    No, no confusion here. I've long stated that "Dissociated Mechanics" was sloppy shorthand for "something I don't like" with a vaguely worded, easily misinterpreted justification layered on top, rather than anything substantive. Nice when we agree.

    In other words, Dissociated Mechanics belongs in the same category as "anime" "video-gamey" and other slipshod criticisms that do absolutely nothing to add to the conversation and serve only to wave red flags in edition warring.

    All people really have to do is say, "I don't like AEDU, here's another way we could do it that I would like". But, of course, that would mean that people couldn't take cheap shots at other people's games and try to win edition wars.
    It depends what kind of conversation you're having. If you're a customer at a restaurant then you can say that you'd like your steak well-done without giving the full psychological explanation of why you like it that way.

    If we're engaged in this sort of conversation, if we're mostly just working out the best way to tell the 5e designers what we want, then I think dissociated mechanics and even anime-y and videogame-y are valid terms to use.

    Well this would be the test of their validity -- just look at how much intersubjective agreement there is among people at what content warrants the term. I don't have the time or care to conduct this experiment, but I'm willing to bet that the agreement among people at what sort of mechanic is "dissociated" and what sort of art looks "anime-y" would actually be pretty high. (Not as sure about videogame-y).

    You can look down all you like at people who use the terms. You can think that they're intellectually lazy or stupid or prejudiced. But if they can use them successfully with other people then they're at least valid for the purpose of telling them what they want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian View Post
    It depends what kind of conversation you're having. If you're a customer at a restaurant then you can say that you'd like your steak well-done without giving the full psychological explanation of why you like it that way.
    But, if I gave you exactly the same steak fifteen times before and you never said anything, yet now, you kick up a fuss, shouldn't I try to find out why?

    After all, it's not like dissociated mechanics are new. They've been part and parcel to the game since day one. AND, now we have clearly dissociated mechanics in Next that are being lauded as being innovative and interesting.

    Shouldn't the cook be pretty confused when he keeps serving the same steak over and over again, but the only time people complain is when he puts it on a yellow plate instead of a blue one?

    If we're engaged in this sort of conversation, if we're mostly just working out the best way to tell the 5e designers what we want, then I think dissociated mechanics and even anime-y and videogame-y are valid terms to use.

    Well this would be the test of their validity -- just look at how much intersubjective agreement there is among people at what content warrants the term. I don't have the time or care to conduct this experiment, but I'm willing to bet that the agreement among people at what sort of mechanic is "dissociated" and what sort of art looks "anime-y" would actually be pretty high. (Not as sure about videogame-y).

    You can look down all you like at people who use the terms. You can think that they're intellectually lazy or stupid or prejudiced. But if they can use them successfully with other people then they're at least valid for the purpose of telling them what they want.
    HOW though. How can the terms be used successfully in any other sense than "I just don't like THIS mechanic"? After all, if the other fifteen dissociated mechanics are perfectly acceptable, then dissociation obviously isn't the problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    No, no confusion here. I've long stated that "Dissociated Mechanics" was sloppy shorthand for "something I don't like" with a vaguely worded, easily misinterpreted justification layered on top, rather than anything substantive. Nice when we agree.

    In other words, Dissociated Mechanics belongs in the same category as "anime" "video-gamey" and other slipshod criticisms that do absolutely nothing to add to the conversation and serve only to wave red flags in edition warring.

    All people really have to do is say, "I don't like AEDU, here's another way we could do it that I would like". But, of course, that would mean that people couldn't take cheap shots at other people's games and try to win edition wars.
    That's really only true if you refuse to accept an alternative analysis. Yes, there are and always have been some dissociative mechanics in the game. And for some players, they have always been problematic and for others, there seems to be a threshold on their acceptability. Witness discussion about all skills/abilities advancing when a PC levels up. That there have always been DMs house-ruling ways to require PCs to only invest in skills/multiclass options they have been using/role-playing over the course of the last level indicates that dissociative mechanics haven't been uncontroversial prior to 4e. It may be, in no small part, that 4e's use of them in certain arenas has brought them into the light like no previous edition has before. It may also be that the atmosphere into which 4e was introduced is just a lot more analytical than any gaming environment before with a more sophisticated (and, yes, perhaps ultimately more mentally masturbatory) than before.
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