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Thursday, 26th July, 2012, 10:57 PM #131
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
So... your argument is 4e is different because you can drop a feat to remove/lower the disparity and you couldn't in 3e and that the disparity doesn't increase in level?
Except I just said it totally does.
No I'm not. Because the disparity doesn't really go away. Both editions are equally bad at the disparity.
Which are neutral since the specialist can also take them making their bonus even more obscene.
There are precisely four skills worth pumping all the way.
1: Arcana. A number of rituals have a differential effect based on an arcana check.
2: Intimidate. The intimidate-in-combat rules are broken.
3: Stealth. Screw up one stealth roll at the wrong time and you might just need a new PC
4: Perception. See stealth.
And as a DM I don't like to fiat out of nothing. Give me some guidance like the skill challenge table.
Also can we add some of the wackier tables from the 1e DMG and some of Gygax's writing?
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Thursday, 26th July, 2012, 11:28 PM #132
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
That is, there's really no inherent reason why, given d20 skill checks, you couldn't invent the skill challenge framework yourself. Because it is merely a framework on top of those skill checks. Practically speaking, most people wouldn't, but it could happen.
OTOH, I'd also argue that everyone that uses straight skill checks skillfully does so in the context of some framework, whether developed ad hoc or more consciously. It's merely one that happens to work better for that person for the very good reason that everything in it was learned by experience.
If I'm correct, then the advantage of the skill challenge framework is, as said above, that it helps some people get to their synthesized approach sooner. (I don't think it's any accident that many of us that found it such an advantage had the benefit of being familiar with some of the various narrative approaches.) The disadvantage of the skill challenge framework is the opposite side of that same coin, in that the same with any framework, if you get too attached to the framework itself, it may prevent you from adapting the underlying system to your style.
Of course, one framework, or even a framework, aren't the only way to help here. The Take 10 rule in d20 is another example of exactly the same thing, a kind of formal guideline to "don't sweat the small stuff." Plenty of people figured that out all on their own, but if left to their own devices wouldn't have necessarily picked that exact implementation of the rule.
Thus, it would be good to have multiple such rules, and maybe even multiple frameworks, with deliberate advice on how to to choose the ones that will help you and why. One of the reasons that the skill challenge examples and advice is so lousy in the initial implementation is that they are trying to make the skill challenges serve two incompatible agendas--the largely unspoken narrative one that SCs actually help but also as a kind of gamist "chase XP" one that are more implied by the advice, but falls apart mechanically when you look at it seriously.
If you write advice and examples that are actually congruent with the framework or mechanics under inspection, then I think you'll find that such tools are good for some things, not so hot for others, which will in turn imply the need for other tools. So the push to standardize everything, so helpful in many areas and needed for making the game accessible, is harmful when you try to standardize across real playstyle differences (e.g. not mere genre).
Last edited by Crazy Jerome; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 12:30 AM.
Thursday, 26th July, 2012, 11:34 PM #133
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I have a couple rules I've developed over the years for future content thought experiments and brainstorms.
1) Every game element is someone's favorite. Someone out there loves (LOVES!) their shardmind runepriest.
2) Any game element that has been in the game for four or more editions should be in future editions in some way, shape, or form. Any element that has been in 3 or more editions should be seriously considered for inclusion, even if barely recognizable. Any game element that has been in two or more editions should be carefully looked at but becomes less necessary.
3) It's always easier to ignore rules and advice than have to make it up yourself.
And there's the Jester Fallacy: Any source of inspiration, be it a video game or an older edition, is a valid source of inspiration, and can be just as functional if executed properly.
Tell me it doesn't sting when someone at WotC talk negatively about 4e, discussing combat length, AEDU classes, or the like.
old school quadratic wizard rule set.
I didn't emphasise it enough but this can (and should) change with tier. Start with narrative reality and drift into more and more fantastic. Then at epic you can start cutting mountains in half.
Starting at different levels (and tiers) is a good way get different play styles without modules.
The 4e defense mechanic is also slower. Subtlety so. Mostly for AoEs. The player has to make multiple rolls and communicate the result across the table, doing math for each. Then the DM says if it succeeded or not. For saving throws the player just states the DC and the DM rolls, communicating success or failure. There's less of a break where a series of numbers are spat across the table before the turn ends.
Small. But it adds up.
[QUOTE=TwinBahamut;5977853That said, I'm totally be okay with a "the PCs roll all the dice" system. I liked that 3E variant. Players roll for their own attacks and defenses, while enemies always have static attacks and defenses. This kind of system works best to solve some of the complaints I've seen come up here and elsewhere, since the PCs are always being active, and NPCs are kept simple.[/QUOTE]
It's something that would work well in 4e. The kind of rules variant that would have been cool had 4e really had alternate rules.
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 12:32 AM #134
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I am arguing 4e has a broken skill system independent of everything but itself.
As you say above, for a Skill Challenge, just training or a high ability modifier nets a 75% success rate. Which means that both is 100%. There is no chance of failure. At first level. That is the definition of broken. And, at higher levels when you put ability score boosts into primary and secondary stats, the disparity does increase. And, unlike attack rolls, there are many, many ways of boosting your skills.
Again, it's not bad or unfixable or not worth doing. I hope Skill Challenges make it into 5e.
But let's imagine 4e skills differently for a moment.
Remove the static numerical bonuses from races and backgrounds and just make that "this skill is always a class skill". So all elves can train Nature. And remove all the feats and items that only add a static bonus to skills from the game. And instead of a +5 bonus for training, imagine if it was a reroll (like 5e's advantage), so training didn't increase your potential but maximized your natural talent.
Suddenly that DC table looks a little flatter. There are no autosuccesses because a 1 still fails. How do Skill Challenges look now?
Bond might have been better, with 4e being Brosnan. (I always say the movies were soft but he was my favorite Bond.)
But those are still great books. I recommend the DMG2 to new Pathfinder GMs all the time.
Every time there's a gap in a column or on a page... filler Gygax table!
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 02:29 AM #135
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
See that post by me for my best go at an explanation. I don't want to keep reframing the same argument over and over in disparate locations. Its tedious and moreover, its disrespectful to the author of this thread as it feels like I'm coat-racking a pet topic as such a focused discussion is only orthogonally (at best) related to the innerdude's surmise. If you want to focus on skill challenges (their nature, their execution and how they can be improved), I'll gladly communicate in that thread (or PM me). If that explanation is not good enough for you, I can post a long, meticulous transcription of a skill challenge that I executed a few years back that I think might be illuminating. I can then provide analysis of it as a mechanical resolution framework and what it offered to the delivery of the fiction. That would be a long post and I would rather not do it if you either don't really care or would just gloss over it (or better yet, the post above is sufficiently illuminating).
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 02:53 AM #136
Magsman (Lvl 14)
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So, in context: nothing in 4e deserves consideration, only past eds matter.2) Any game element that has been in the game for four or more editions should be in future editions in some way, shape, or form. Any element that has been in 3 or more editions should be seriously considered for inclusion, even if barely recognizable. Any game element that has been in two or more editions should be carefully looked at but becomes less necessary.
Advice, sure. Rules, not /always/. Ignoring one rule can have throw another rule out of whack. Ignoring AoOs (or OAs), for instance, changes how characters move around the battlefield, makes rogues a little deadiler, and simultaneously empowers and emperils casters.3) It's always easier to ignore rules and advice than have to make it up yourself.
Well, it did happen to be true. Grappling was needlessly complicated in 3e and could be wildly imbalancing, as well (expecially when DM missed the semi-obscure rules in the monster manual that made escaping from larger monsters' grabs more doable). 4e's was simpler and better-balanced. And, if anyone thinks 3e grappling sucked, they should try 1e's Pummeling, Grappling & Overbearing rules. Wow.It was all a matter of tone. It typically insulted 3e and claimed 4e would fix the problem. And, more often than not it was some problem that had been beaten to the ground. "Grappling in 3e sucks, but we fixed it."
It was only really annoying when they actively get it wrong in order to talk down at it (like 3.5 edition warriors did so often). Mike Mearls hasn't really been doing that, though, since he's back to L&L. The closest thing to a 'dis' 4e is getting is that it's being ignored. The articulation of 5e is often couched in terms of addressing some problem from 3e or classic D&D as if it were a current problem, then offering a less ambitious solution than 4e already delivered. So, not insulting 4e, just acting like it doesn't exist. It does make you wonder.Tell me it doesn't sting when someone at WotC talk negatively about 4e, discussing combat length, AEDU classes, or the like.
Solid ideas that I've seen expressed before but which rarely get much comment. If 'tiers' were more about just how fantastic the fantasy was (how powerful and prevelent magic is, how wildly superhuman heroes are), then about levels, the game could cover a much wider range of sub-genre and play styles.I didn't emphasise it enough but this can (and should) change with tier. Start with narrative reality and drift into more and more fantastic. Then at epic you can start cutting mountains in half.
Starting at different levels (and tiers) is a good way get different play styles without modules.
Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 04:59 AM.
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 04:46 AM #137
Magsman (Lvl 14)
For what it is worth, I highly enjoyed some of the original ideas put forth in which ability scores played a heavier role in skills and doing things. I get the impression (and some of the designers have said things which make me believe) that some of those original ideas I liked will not be making it into the final version of the game though.
To be completely fair, I have to also admit that I have not looking at D&D Durango in quite a while. I've settled into a sort of apathy. I still follow the conversations, I look at things from time to time, and I participate when I feel as though I have something to say, but my knowledge of the playtest material and what is going on with the game is starting to fade. As such, I accept the possibility that my input regarding 5th Edition is possibly not as valuable or as informed as the input provided by someone else.
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 05:41 AM #138
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
When you say "non-specialists sit out and play assistant to the specialists", are you intending that as (i) a statement of what actually (typically, usually) happens, or (ii) a statement of what you think would happen if rational players used the mechanics, or (iii) a prediction based on your own reading of the mechanics, or (iv) something else?
Because it doesn't fit my experience, and my players are fairly rational. It's all about the stakes. Set up a situation in which the player of the dwarf fighter is more concerned about his/her PC not looking a tool to the NPCs than about whether or not, in the end, the party get's its way - and, as a GM, adjudicated that situation in a way which plays along with the player - and even a CHA-dump stat PC will start talking.
Or, run a 4/3 challenge in which the dwarf can both talk and do other stuff at which s/he might be better - say, physical stuff - and you might find that the player will try talking as well as physical stuff, because s/he has the capacity for a few failures in his/her back pocket.
None of what I'm saying is an argument against bounded accuracy - the scaling issues in 4e are well-known and make the maths for everything, including skill checks, harder than it needs to be.
But even with bounded accuracy the problem will still be there, because you'll still have dwarf fighters with CHA dump stats. If you want them to talk nevertheless, then (assuming anything like the current approach to stats and skills) you're going to have to frame situations and stakes in the sort of way I'm describing.
So a failed Ride check is narrated as a lame horse, or to encountering a yawning canyon - narratively/thematically connected to attempting to escape on horseback.
A failed Diplomacy check is narrated as rain which leads the NPC to retreat back under cover before the PC can convey his/her full message - narratively/thematically connected to attempting a successful, genteel negotiation with a dignatory.
What counts as the limit of narrative/thematic connection (which, if violated, makes the game seem absurdist) is obviously highly sensitive to shared genre expectations, shared plot expectations, and past experiences at the game table. Everyone seems to agree that "Rocks fall. Everybody dies," is a bit too much. But there's a lot of space to be explored between purely ingame causal processes and "Rocks fall. Everybody dies."
Duels of Wits in Burning Wheel are the same - no matter how devastating your argument, if you don't deplete the opponent's Body of Argument then the duel is not over.
(Of course, a standard answer is - until you knock off the last hit point, your swing simply wasn't that good. Another standard answer is - until you knock off the last hit point, then no matter how good your swing, their parry/dodge/etc is just as impressive. Similar narrative devices have to be used with these out-of-combat techniques too.)
Now is this a good thing or not? That's for each group to judge. My own experience is that the pacing discipline provided by skill challenges, in conjunction with the emphasis on "genre logic" and narrative/thematic causation rather than ingame process causation, has produced far more interesting scenarios, with players exercising more imagination, situations heading off in more unexpected directions, and the game being more interesting. There have been negotiations with slave traders, dinner parties, interrogations, flying carpet escapes, and (yes, @Mustrum_Ridcully) reforgings of arteracts which I am very confident would not have happened within a process simulation framework (and I say this based on experience of GMing Rolemaster, a skill-rich process simulation game, for nearly 20 years prior to GMing 4e).
I'm happy to provide links to the actual play reports for some of these for those who want them, and haven't already looked at and followed the links on the "Why I like skill challenges" thread.
LostSoul and others on message boards, in rule books, in essays, etc.
But somehow I doubt that I was ever going to work all that stuff out myself! In that respect, I'm one of the "most people" that you refer to!
Read the example of a Skill Challenge in the Essentials Rules Compendium and DM's book (it's the same example). It depends upon adjudication via narrative/thematic logic, not ingame causal logic. In particular, on the 3rd failed check the way the GM brings the challenge to a close, which is also a failure, is to have some thugs whom, at an earlier stage, were successfully brushed off by the PCs, turn up again and make trouble. But there is nothing about that third failed check which, in ingame causal terms, causes the thugs to turn up (eg it is not a failed attempt to sneak past them). The GM is applying metagame causation of the sort that I, Mancatbear and others are talking about.
My complaint has always been that skill challenges (including the examples of play) presuppose these techniques, but nowhere does the rulebook explain them. The reader is left to derive them from the examples of play presented. But, given those published examples of play, plus the more abstract instructional text, plus the overwhelmingly obvious resemblance of skill challenges to systems from other games like HeroWars/Quest, I am in no doubt as to how skill challenges are intended to work, and that they were not conceived of, by the designers, as simply complex skill checks.
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 06:12 AM #139
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
That is another great post Pemerton and I would xp you if I could. You have the patience of a saint. I can only repeat myself and reframe long, circumnavigated analysis so many times before my eyes glaze over when I behold the same statements as if all of my words vanished into thin air.
I'm only posting to amend my admission to Imaro's statement regarding the design intentions/expectations of in-game execution of the 4e skill challenge...specifically the statement that you rebutted in that last paragraph. I was posting after a 10 + hour drive and I've read the statement that "the early rules texts don't properly explain the infrastructure of the Skill Challenge and don't provide good examples" so many times that I assumed that was what Imaro was saying at a brief glance (my presuppositions infilled the rest). So I was agreeing, 100 %, with my misconception of his contention (my apologies for skimming and assuming Imaro). The actual contention - no I do not agree with it at all. I am in lockstep with Pemerton's position outlined above in the final 3 paragraphs.
Friday, 27th July, 2012, 06:29 AM #140
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Generally, I like a lot of what I hear in Pem's posts. Unfortunately, my experiences with 4E have gone the exact opposite way. I found the group I normally game with and our sessions becoming (imo) less creative. Playing a game built more on the idea of narrative logic and game logic rather than in-game world logic seemed to have the effect of the group viewing the game more as game and less as rpg. I am in no way disputing what Pem says; I am only putting forth that 4E had the exact opposite impact on my gaming.
For me personally, I moved from playing D&D 4E to learning GURPS. The negotiations with traders and things of that nature which have been mentioned were things which happened when I branched into different games. I would never suggest those things never happened in 4E. I ran a few games which I feel were very successful, but -every step of the way- I felt as though I (as the DM) was fighting against some sort of preconceived notion which the players held about how a 4E game should go.
I mention my transition to a different game because it is my understanding that RQ is more similar to a game like GURPS (or at least far more similar to it than D&D in so far as the games are built upon different ideals about gaming.) In Pem's experience, there were things that would not have happened in RQ that did happen in D&D 4E. I moved from D&D 4E to a different game (GURPS in my case) because I found that the things I wanted to happen and the style of game I wanted was easier for me to achieve with the game I moved to. It's interesting to me that the same game can have what I feel is the opposite effect on two different people and their gaming habits.