D&D 5th Edition With Respect to the Door and Expectations....The REAL Reason 5e Can't Unite the Base - Page 16





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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    The sorts of consequences that I and others are talking about are connected to the action that failed. It's just that they're not causally connected to the task attempted. They're narratively or thematically connected to what it was that the player was hoping the PC would achieve by the check (@Manbearcat uses the phrase "fiction first" to convey this).

    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."
    For me, the appearance of Schr÷dinger's gorge (it exists in a quantum state until the player's die roll fails the check) robs my PC of his agency. There's nothing he did that caused the check to fail, rather it was something else that happened to occur. I find that unsatisfying and anti-immersive.

    There are many ways that a player can explain how the check failed because of what the PC did (or failed to do successfully). In the horse-riding example, directing the horse badly could cause the horse to receive a minor injury (pulled muscle, wrenched tendon) and thus become lame. If racing through low hanging foliage and I fail my ride check, the horse slows because my PC directed him badly and the horse balked at being slapped in the face by the branches rather than an irate lemur reached out to poke my PC's horse in the eye.

    The task, as a player and as I see it, is to describe how my PC was not up to the task, not how the task was complicated by some other factor that caused my PC to fail. This way my PC owns his failures (as well as his successes).
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    ° Ignore Jester Canuck
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Not seeing a big distinction. If a game element is recent, it must be 'awesome' to be considered for retention, if it's old, it can be awful and still be grandfathered in? What'd be so bad about trying to build a good system, without worrying about all the mechanical baggage?
    Because if you throw away old mechanics you lose part of the game. It's better to use the seed of the old terrible mechanic to build the new workable mechanic. Much like how they used "hit dice" from older editions in 5e, mixing the good idea of healing surges with the nostalgia.

    So much of the D&D rules are weird. Armour as an avoidance when it's easier to hit a heavily armoured character. AC and higher level hp both covering avoiding blows. Numerous redundant classes. Unnecessary distinction between divine and arcane magic. Reliance on 20 sided dice which inflate the math and DCs with equal possibility of any result.

    You could have a much tighter game with three classes (warrior, skill user, spell-caster) combined in different ways for the other classes. Resolution uses 2d6 adding a bell curve for average results with a 7 meaning success, <6 failure, 2 a fumble, and 12 a critical success. But that wouldn't be D&D.

    One change isn't much and is fine. But it's never just one change. If it's acceptable to drop elements bits and pieces of the game just fall away and are lost. After all, it's easier to make something new than fix older elements. Slowly, subtly, the spirit and feel of the game is lost.
    If you set the rule "if it's old enough it stays" it does mean more work to make those old elements function. And it means you have to really, really justify dumping them if they cannot work - which is an option.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    It seems to me that the feel, nostalgia, the soul of the game (and the actual legally defensible IP for that matter), isn't in the mechanics. If you're fighting Beholders and Illithids in the Underdark, and casting Mordenkainen's Sword, you're playing D&D in some sense, even if you've lifted mechanics from some other system to do it with. I know the actual IP's a little thin, but it carries a lot of currency with us older fans, too, I think. So, sure, a monster or a magic item new to one edition that isn't adding much can go and classic ones can stay - but the mechanics that model them should be open to improvement.

    Given that, yes, bad, fixable mechanics will still sell, but good mechanics would be, well, /good/.
    Feel ties directly to mechanics. There's a tonne of D&D IP in the Delve board games (Ravenloft, Ashardalon, Drizzt) but they don't feel like playing true D&D.
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    ° Ignore Tony Vargas
    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    Because if you throw away old mechanics you lose part of the game. It's better to use the seed of the old terrible mechanic to build the new workable mechanic.
    Improving a mechanic rather than scrapping it and trying something completely different is sensible enough, if it can be done. But, refinement, alone, can't accomplish what it could in combination with innovation. I guess it comes down to a risk/reward evaluation. If you aren't open to change, you don't have much chance for improvement, but you avoid inadvertently screwing things up worse than they already are. Of course, even if you allow nothing you control to change, things can still change around you.

    Much like how they used "hit dice" from older editions in 5e, mixing the good idea of healing surges with the nostalgia.
    Not the best example, I think. On the one hand, the use of the Hit Dice terminology for a completely different mechanic is such a transparent and cosmetic allusion to the classic game that it seems almost condescending. OTOH, it's not an old mechanic being improved, it's the accomplishments of a more recent mechanic being rolled back (healing surges solved the old 'heal bot' problem, while Hit Dice do not).

    A better example might be level. In classic D&D, characters had a level, dungeons had levels, and spells had levels, and those levels didn't exactly correspond 1:1, even characters with the same experience points earned in the same adventures could be of different levels, monsters didn't have levels but some could drain levels or perhaps cast as a if they had a certain class/level. In 3e, characters with the same experience points /were/ the same character level, but not necessarily the same class or caster levels, and monsters had a CR that corresponded to level, but spells were still on a different level scale, and it also added level adjustments. In 4e, characters, monsters, spells, and magic items all had levels that corresponded neatly. There you have the old mechanic (or term) retained, but, incrementally, over time, made more consistent and streamlined. Another good example would be resolution: going from a mix of d6 (surprise, initiative), % (some skills, con checks, random tables, other oddball mechanics), and d20 (roll high or roll low), to d20 (roll high) for surprise, initiative, attacks, saves, skills & checks. Retaining % system shock or d6 surprise rolls wouldn't have made the game any better, and dropping them didn't make it any less D&D.


    You could have a much tighter game with three classes (warrior, skill user, spell-caster) combined in different ways for the other classes. Resolution uses 2d6 adding a bell curve for average results with a 7 meaning success, <6 failure, 2 a fumble, and 12 a critical success. But that wouldn't be D&D.
    It wouldn't be familiar as D&D to us, since we're accustomed to associating D&D with many classes, a uniform randomization mechanic, and other oddities. It would be part of what defined D&D for someone who began playing D&D that way, though.

    One change isn't much and is fine. But it's never just one change. If it's acceptable to drop elements bits and pieces of the game just fall away and are lost. After all, it's easier to make something new than fix older elements. Slowly, subtly, the spirit and feel of the game is lost.
    So it's avoiding the slippery slope? That's prettymuch the classic traditionalist (change-adverse) argument.

    You might say the feel of the game is 'lost,' because it's no longer exactly the same, but it could well be evolving into something better.

    Feel ties directly to mechanics. There's a tonne of D&D IP in the Delve board games (Ravenloft, Ashardalon, Drizzt) but they don't feel like playing true D&D.
    They're board games.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 08:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    For me, the appearance of Schr÷dinger's gorge (it exists in a quantum state until the player's die roll fails the check) robs my PC of his agency. There's nothing he did that caused the check to fail, rather it was something else that happened to occur. I find that unsatisfying and anti-immersive.

    There are many ways that a player can explain how the check failed because of what the PC did (or failed to do successfully). In the horse-riding example, directing the horse badly could cause the horse to receive a minor injury (pulled muscle, wrenched tendon) and thus become lame. If racing through low hanging foliage and I fail my ride check, the horse slows because my PC directed him badly and the horse balked at being slapped in the face by the branches rather than an irate lemur reached out to poke my PC's horse in the eye.

    The task, as a player and as I see it, is to describe how my PC was not up to the task, not how the task was complicated by some other factor that caused my PC to fail. This way my PC owns his failures (as well as his successes).
    For me , the variance of the d20 is much too high to conceptualize all failed skill rolls as mistakes by the PC. If a specialist attempts a task under a fixed set of conditions he will either succeed or fail, depending on the difficulty of the task, but either outcome is very deterministic. To account for the high variance among outcomes, I have to allow that the environment plays an important role.

    That interpretation also gives the environment more texture. If I decide post hoc that the ride check was failed because of low hanging trees, then I have made the environment more interesting, and maybe even given a hook that the next player can hang his narrative on.

    Finally, i'm not sure why pc agency is a criterion. The pc does not exist, so he cannot have any agency in the first place.

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    ° Ignore Remathilis
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Not seeing a big distinction. If a game element is recent, it must be 'awesome' to be considered for retention, if it's old, it can be awful and still be grandfathered in? What'd be so bad about trying to build a good system, without worrying about all the mechanical baggage?
    Here is the litmus test to me.

    Imagine you found four people who were familiar enough to RPGs to get the terminology, but never played D&D in any iteration. You run a game for them each week, using the core four classes in a different edition of D&D each time. (Basic, 1e/2e, 3e, 4e, Next)

    The Fighter PC would see his HD increase, the addition of specialization, and then the addition of feats, but overall he would mostly be rolling to hit with his weapon until 4e; where he now has a power suite with different effects and reusability.
    The Wizard PC would go from only a handlful of spells and slots (and his dagger) into gaining specialization, cantrips, and bonus spells. Then he suddenly gains at-will and encounter magic, slots are gone, and The spells he relied on (fireball, magic missile, and sleep) don't do what they did before.
    The Cleric wielding a mace, cast an occasional healing spell, and turned some undead. He got a lot more spell slots, additional spheres (and then domains) and and some weapon selection relaxation. Now, his spells shoot holy light, his healing is a ranged minor action, turn undead is some footnote encounter power.
    The Rogue had some thief skills which had some harsh success chances, and a miserable x2 backstab. His chances improved greatly (as he had some more bonuses and customization to his skills, but he was still pretty one-note until Sneak Attack replaces backstab, his skills get unified (though he suffered from skill point drought) and he gained a suite of awesome defensive and advanced mini powers. Then, he no longer was the skill king; he had maybe 2 more pre-selected skills. Instead, he was all about the DAMAGE baby! SA + Tricks and stuff to do DPS that outshone the fighter.

    In each TL;DR example, there was logical progression of ability. A spell like Cure Light Wounds or Fireball changed only slightly from Basic through 3.5, but was radically different in 4e. If I knew how to play a cleric in Basic, I could probably grock to his changes in AD&D or 3.x with fairly little help; but his 4e cleric was completely different in power-gaining structure, attacks, powers, and spell effects.

    D&D through the editions should have some similar feel in each class. 4e WAS rebuilt ground up without regard to such things, and I feel it lead to its "alien" feel when moving from edition to edition. Personally, I'm glad that spell slots will return, for example. It restores the legacy of the magic-user/mage/wizard that existed before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlekin View Post
    For me , the variance of the d20 is much too high to conceptualize all failed skill rolls as mistakes by the PC. .

    For what it's worth, that is also one of the reasons I feel I moved to a different game. I've become a big fan of the bell curve in gaming via 3d6.

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    ° Ignore Jester Canuck
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Improving a mechanic rather than scrapping it and trying something completely different is sensible enough, if it can be done. But, refinement, alone, can't accomplish what it could in combination with innovation. I guess it comes down to a risk/reward evaluation. If you aren't open to change, you don't have much chance for improvement, but you avoid inadvertently screwing things up worse than they already are. Of course, even if you allow nothing you control to change, things can still change around you.
    No one ever said making a new product based on a popular existing product with decades of history and assumptions was ever easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    There you have the old mechanic (or term) retained, but, incrementally, over time, made more consistent and streamlined. Another good example would be resolution: going from a mix of d6 (surprise, initiative), % (some skills, con checks, random tables, other oddball mechanics), and d20 (roll high or roll low), to d20 (roll high) for surprise, initiative, attacks, saves, skills & checks. Retaining % system shock or d6 surprise rolls wouldn't have made the game any better, and dropping them didn't make it any less D&D.
    Exactly. The rules completely changed but the elements were still there. That's the key.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    It wouldn't be familiar as D&D to us, since we're accustomed to associating D&D with many classes, a uniform randomization mechanic, and other oddities. It would be part of what defined D&D for someone who began playing D&D that way, though.
    True.
    If Lamborghini decided to switch to making affordable family sedans they'd still be Lamborghinis and future generations would associate them affordable family sedans. But it would be a hard sell, remove much of the hard-won brand identity, and alienate much of the current buyers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    So it's avoiding the slippery slope? That's prettymuch the classic traditionalist (change-adverse) argument.

    You might say the feel of the game is 'lost,' because it's no longer exactly the same, but it could well be evolving into something better.
    It's more than that. D&D is a big game with lots of parts, and many of them have become part of the brands identity. They've become recognisable, even to those outside the traditional audience.
    People don't respond well to change, and its hard to re-brand a product, changing or shifting its identity. Change for change's sake erodes the brand. Occasionally lightening strikes and the new identity takes off, but the commercial landscape is littered with examples where brands had to backtrack and retreat to basics, un-reinventing themselves. Changes from small to big, such as the infamous New Coke incident.
    It's easy to talk about slaughtering sacred cows and changing the game, but it hasn't worked well for WotC. You can't predict what people will latch on to and find comforting and familiar. I don't think anyone at WotC would have expected an auto-hitting magic missile to be that necessary (or it would have functioned more like reaping strike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    They're board games.
    And?
    They're still D&D and share the IP. By the "IP makes D&D what it is" argument, they're just as much D&D as any other edition. They have attack rolls and AC and fighters and elves, with wizards casting magic missile. There's nothing in the rules that says you cannot role-play with the Delve games.
    Last edited by Jester Canuck; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 10:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    It's more than that. D&D is a big game with lots of parts, and many of them have become part of the brands identity. They've become recognisable, even to those outside the traditional audience.
    People don't respond well to change, and its hard to re-brand a product, changing or shifting its identity. Change for change's sake erodes the brand. Occasionally lightening strikes and the new identity takes off, but the commercial landscape is littered with examples where brands had to backtrack and retreat to basics, un-reinventing themselves. Changes from small to big, such as the infamous New Coke incident.
    It's easy to talk about slaughtering sacred cows and changing the game, but it hasn't worked well for WotC. You can't predict what people will latch on to and find comforting and familiar. I don't think anyone at WotC would have expected an auto-hitting magic missile to be that necessary (or it would have functioned more like reaping strike.
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis View Post
    Here is the litmus test to me.
    In each TL;DR example, there was logical progression of ability. A spell like Cure Light Wounds or Fireball changed only slightly from Basic through 3.5, but was radically different in 4e. If I knew how to play a cleric in Basic, I could probably grock to his changes in AD&D or 3.x with fairly little help; but his 4e cleric was completely different in power-gaining structure, attacks, powers, and spell effects.

    D&D through the editions should have some similar feel in each class. 4e WAS rebuilt ground up without regard to such things, and I feel it lead to its "alien" feel when moving from edition to edition. Personally, I'm glad that spell slots will return, for example. It restores the legacy of the magic-user/mage/wizard that existed before.
    These posts strike me as rationalizations against real compromise. I you say that everything important must be adapted the edition you like for something as nebulous as brand identity, it becomes impossible to identify real concessions you are willing to make.
    Last edited by Harlekin; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 11:13 PM. Reason: language

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    ° Ignore Tony Vargas
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis View Post
    Here is the litmus test to me.

    Imagine you found four people who were familiar enough to RPGs to get the terminology, but never played D&D in any iteration. You run a game for them each week, using the core four classes in a different edition of D&D each time. (Basic, 1e/2e, 3e, 4e, Next)
    Imagine them going through it in the reverse order. They start out with every class fun, playable and balanced. Then the wizard and cleric get tons of very powerful spells, while the fighter loses almost everything, then the caster's get slightly fewer spells and more restrictions as they go on and the fighter loses his feats, then his weapon specialization, all the while the rules getting weirder.

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    ° Ignore Tony Vargas
    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    They're still D&D and share the IP. By the "IP makes D&D what it is" argument, they're just as much D&D as any other edition.
    There was an old D&D boardgame back in the day called Dungeon!, Castle Ravenloft, et al are just as much D&D as Dungeon! was.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th July, 2012 at 11:34 PM.

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