Day-Based & Encounter-Based: It's Not Balance, It's Playstyle


What's on your mind?

+ Log in or register to post
Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 34
  1. #1
    Potassium-Rich Moderator
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

    Kamikaze Midget's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    13,500
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    24

    ° Ignore Kamikaze Midget
    My communities:

    Day-Based & Encounter-Based: It's Not Balance, It's Playstyle

    (tl;dr version: Encounter-based play is something that 5e can't really reject, since it's a personal preference, and that might mean some compromise from folks who prefer a longer term...some compromise I'm kind of cool with)

    So 5e's core is being developed with the idea of a system that revolves around the "adventuring day." That means that every time your party rests for the night, they recover all of their resources, and that their resources are meant to and are designed to be spent between the time they wake up and the time they take their next long nap.

    There's a lot of really good legacy and gameplay reasons to use the adventuring day as the basis for the game. Arguably, the changes that 3e and 4e made to make the encounter more the basis for the game were the cause of a lot of those systems' problems with both balance and "feel."

    But the Encounter-based design has been around for long enough, and is embraced by enough people, that I don't think it can viably be left on the roadside. It creates a playstyle that a chunk of people really love. It's not a "traditional D&D" style, but a lot of people have never really liked traditional resource-management-style D&D and have used D&D to tell their more cinematic narrative tales even since day 1.

    I think it's important to note that it's not really a balance issue (it ain't about the math, 'cuz that can work fine), but it is a playstyle issue (it is about how people envision their games and scenes, and how they run their tables). This is, I think why some of the disagreements have a tendency to turn acerbic: people are assuming they're talking about things that can be correct or incorrect, but they are actually talking about matters of personal taste, which are often arbitrary and anyway are closely held.

    So. I think any 5e that hopes to unify the game must include within it a way to turn D&D into an encounter-based game. Not because this is "good design" or leads to "better balance," but because some people really personally prefer thinking of their game as a series of scenes rather than as a longer unit. It makes more sense to them, it puts the emphasis where they want it, and it feels more natural to them.

    Fortunately, this isn't particularly hard. If you have a 5e that is designed for daily considerations, there's really two major steps you need to take, and two brief corollaries.

    STEP 1: Time Shift Your Rests
    A while ago, I posted an easy fix on how people who thought "healing all HP with a single night's sleep" was too fast. The trick to this is that it also works in reverse. Rather than an extended rest being at the end of every night, you have an extended rest at the end of every encounter.

    This effectively means your "vancian" spells are all encounter powers, and your HP are all encounter-based, and no effects really transcend a single encounter. You can always make exceptions for things you want to bother to track, introducing a longer Daily rest, but, by default, you don't have to track anything.

    Where did your short rests, go, then?

    Well, in 5e as it currently stands, they can be applied with an action in combat, easily, since all they do is possibly let you spend charges from your healer's kit. You could also herald the return of a Second Wind action that gives you a short rest, to more evenly distribute that.

    Now, you might be afraid that this "encourages novas," that a character that can unload everything in one encounter would be SUPER-POWERFUL. But that's not necessarily true:

    STEP 2: Your Daily XP Budget = Your Encounter XP Budget
    Daily spells are designed to be used over several encounters. If you want to base your game on encounters, you just put all the day's activities into each encounter. The existence of Solos and Elites makes this especially easy to do without necessarily upping the grind too much. That said, you are going to spend more rounds in each encounter in an encounter-based system. This is working as intended: each encounter is a threat, each encounter wants you to use all of your resources, each encounter goes a little slower and a little more detailed than a day-based system would assume.

    The Corollaries
    If you're the 5e designers, and you're making a daily-based game, you need to make it in such a way that it does not rule out an encounter-based game, either. This means that you need to keep the following in mind as you design:
    1. You need to make encounter-neutralizing effects easily optional. In a game based on an interval longer than an encounter, you can have encounters that are imbalanced, but that still have an effect on the overall day. If you teleport away from an encounter, or you fly past one, or you disintegrate the goblin king or charm the necromancer or use stealth to sneak past the tomb guardian, these can be problems in an encounter-based game in a way they're not in a game based on broader terms. So you need to make these effects either not encounter-neutralizing (like the current spells in the playtest), or clearly optional somehow.
    2. You need every character to at least opt into being able contribute to every encounter. In a game based on an interval longer than an encounter, you can have a character that sits out an encounter, but that still contributes to the overall day. If your thief hides during the combat, or your bard can't fight worth a dang, these can be problems in an encounter-based game ina way they're not in a game based on broader terms. So you need to make characters who can all contribute to every encounter (like the current playtest characters), or at least enable that as a possibility.


    The Results
    1. The game assumes no daily resources. You can add them back in, if you'd like. In particular, it'd be easy to add in effects resembling healing surges and milestones. Adding in powerful "daily effects" might take a bit more work for an individual DM, but are entirely possible (and would make an excellent module). HP in this model is always almost entirely fate.
    2. Each encounter takes up more time. This is generally a desirable result for an encounter-based game(even a "longer" 5e encounter is going to be lickety-split by 4e standards!), but if the encounter takes up TOO MUCH time (leading to grind), it makes things like encounter diversity and HP adjustments more important. Various anti-grind strategies that people have developed in 4e may become useful. The existence of elites and solos can go a long way to helping this.


    After seeing this as a playstyle thing we must accept as an inclusive game rather than a mechanical balance thing that can be mechanically solved for everyone by the mechanics, it becomes more apparent to me that encounter-based gaming is something that needs to be enabled. Not for balance reasons, but for personal preference reasons: some folks want to play that way because it fits their style better.

    I don't think it needs to be the default. I think the "core D&D experience" is very much a longer term kind of thing. Daily magic recharging and counting encumbrance and returning to town to rest are very in-genre. But since not everyone plays this game the same way (and some people have probably NEVER played that sort of D&D), it can't ignore the other ways. It must be at least an easy add on. And that may mean that encounter-neutralizing abilities by default aren't quite so powerful, and that classes can't so much be binary contributors.

    And y'know what? I'm fine with that. I'm a big advocate for a longer term D&D core experience, but this is a big tent, and there's no reason the folks who dig the encounter-based play should have to give that up (though I think there might be less confusion if everyone dropped the "UNBALANCED!!!!!" canard ). They need to be supported, too. Even if that means an old-school "thief that sucks at combat" is an option I need to opt into, rather than part of what the game presumes. It's a price I'm willing to pay if that keeps a chunk of the 4e diehards on board, even if I don't ever really D&D play in that style.


    Last edited by Morrus; Tuesday, 24th July, 2012 at 10:18 PM.
    -- Jacob J Driscoll, Unsleeping---
    "A one inch mound of flesh with a scar running down it"

    PS5e v. 0.1: Faction Backgrounds
    Tieflings (& other planetouched) | Bariaur | Githzerai | Outcaste Modron
    FINAL FANTASY ZERO
    finalfantasyzero.wikidot.com

 

  • #2
    Community Supporter COPPER SUBSCRIBER
    Guide (Lvl 11)

    Jester Canuck's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    2,234
    Reviews
    Read 7 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    2
    RavenloftGygax Memorial FundI Defended The Walls!

    ° Ignore Jester Canuck
    I can't easily disagree.

    I think it would be very tricky to do a game that did both. But it's not impossible to have a module that enables something close to balanced encounter-based play. It would be a very complex set of optional rules, likely not for the faint of heart. As it changes so many options it would require a lot of fine tuning and exclusion of some abilities.

    The payoff for the time invested might make it impractical.
    My gaming Webcomic 5 Minute Workday at www.5mwd.com

  • #3
    Registered User
    Magsman (Lvl 14)

    Mustrum_Ridcully's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Oldenburg
    Posts
    15,046
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    32

    ° Ignore Mustrum_Ridcully
    My communities:

    It is also a balance issue, no matter how you space the rest phases, if only one part of the party has significant expendable resources. If Wizard spells are only as strong as Fighter attacks, then it's not a problem. but they have never been that. A Fireball deals 5d6 in a 20 ft radius is better than a Fighter dealing 1d8+10 to a single enemy.

    That's why I say that we don't need to worry about having a 15 minute adventuring day - we need to worry about asymmetric class resources that make resting more beneficial for one class then another.
    Mustrum "Gummibńrchen helfen auch" Ridcully

    Thoughts of the Arch Chancellor - My weblog on EN World
    - containing game related material, like: house rules, design theories, reviews, play reports, adventure ideas

    Secret Member [spoiler]of <Think we would just hide our secret with a spoiler tag, eh?>[/spoiler]

  • #4
    Potassium-Rich Moderator
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

    Kamikaze Midget's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    13,500
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    24

    ° Ignore Kamikaze Midget
    My communities:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    I think it would be very tricky to do a game that did both.
    I think you can do it with a time-shift, and some attention to ensuring it's not easy to bork an encounter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully
    A Fireball deals 5d6 in a 20 ft radius is better than a Fighter dealing 1d8+10 to a single enemy.
    Mathematically, by the numbers, that's not really true. That wizard puts out ~18 points of damage, spread around maybe an average of 3 monsters, for a total of 54 points of damage once per day, and if that fighter that deals ~15 points of damage hits 3 or 4 times before the day ends, they've put out very nearly the same amount of damage.

    But that's kind of irrelevant. Some folks dig encounter-based design as a matter of personal preference, regardless of the logic behind it. Putting a whole day's XP into each encounter and keeping the rest after each encounter helps fix that, since it makes the party chew through everything all at once, without even an illusory option for stopping halfway through.
    -- Jacob J Driscoll, Unsleeping---
    "A one inch mound of flesh with a scar running down it"

    PS5e v. 0.1: Faction Backgrounds
    Tieflings (& other planetouched) | Bariaur | Githzerai | Outcaste Modron
    FINAL FANTASY ZERO
    finalfantasyzero.wikidot.com

  • #5
    Registered User
    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)

    Stormonu's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Mississippi
    Posts
    4,040
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    7

    ° Ignore Stormonu
    My communities:

    If your going to time shift to an encounter-based system, I could see high level play being troublesome for the sheer number of abilities that would be expected to be spent in a single encounter. To that, there may be consideration to cutting down the number of abilities in this sort of playstyle to thwart overly long encounters. Perhaps a "pick X of your Y abilities for this encounter" or, when you hit X uses of "daily" abilities, your out for the encounter (same idea, one requires forethought, the other is "on the fly").

    Other than that, seems like a nifty idea.
    "If it has stats, we can kill it." - T.G. Jackson, intro to 3rd ed Hackmaster

  • #6
    Registered User
    Gallant (Lvl 3)

    dammitbiscuit's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    90803
    Posts
    288
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    ° Ignore dammitbiscuit
    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
    we need to worry about asymmetric class resources that make resting more beneficial for one class then another.
    Yep. If you rest more often, the wizard is super happy, and the fighter is further overshadowed. Long-term resource drain is the only way an old-school wizard's abilities are fair. Maybe you could halve or quarter casters' "spells per encounter" to make it work, though.

  • #7
    Registered User
    Superhero (Lvl 15)

    Walking Dad's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    15,780
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    7

    ° Ignore Walking Dad
    My communities:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    ...

    Mathematically, by the numbers, that's not really true. That wizard puts out ~18 points of damage, spread around maybe an average of 3 monsters, for a total of 54 points of damage once per day, and if that fighter that deals ~15 points of damage hits 3 or 4 times before the day ends, they've put out very nearly the same amount of damage.

    ...
    No, it is wizard puts out ~18 points of damage each time the cast 1 spell. They have more than 1 spell slot and you proposed spell recovery after each encounter.
    If the fighter deals his damage 3 times more each encounter (day is irrelevant with your proposed spell recovery), the wizards has to have less than 3 spells. And this doesn't include the wizard's spells ability to hit multiple enemies at a time.
    Saying that encounter recovery doesn't result in balance issues under D&D basic till 3.5 shows a lack of understanding.
    Reducing the amount of spells for each encounter could work.
    Signature

    Hi I'm a comic and rpg nerd. Don't hurt me, please.

    PS: English is NOT my native language!

    May the 4th be with you!

    PbPs

    Invisible Castle

    http://www.d20srd.org/
    Pathfinder SRD (Pathfinder_OGC)


    My Houserules

    I am SpiderClan

  • #8
    Registered Ninja SILVER SUBSCRIBER
    Enchanter (Lvl 12)

    MatthewJHanson's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,243
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    ENniesZEITGEISTI Defended The Walls!

    ° Ignore MatthewJHanson
    I think it's important to address encounter-based design and I think this is a good start. There are some potential difficulties i could for see (like so much in D&D I'm nervous it will break down at high levels), but overall I approve.

    Cavemen, wizards, sky pirates, and cyborgs unite to stop an evil that threatens to destroy time itself. The Kronocalypse is now funding on Kickstarter!

  • #9
    Member SILVER DEFENDER
    Enchanter (Lvl 12)

    Rune's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    2,764
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    I Defended The Walls!

    ° Ignore Rune
    My communities:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
    It is also a balance issue, no matter how you space the rest phases, if only one part of the party has significant expendable resources. If Wizard spells are only as strong as Fighter attacks, then it's not a problem. but they have never been that. A Fireball deals 5d6 in a 20 ft radius is better than a Fighter dealing 1d8+10 to a single enemy.

    That's why I say that we don't need to worry about having a 15 minute adventuring day - we need to worry about asymmetric class resources that make resting more beneficial for one class then another.
    Quote Originally Posted by dammitbiscuit View Post
    Yep. If you rest more often, the wizard is super happy, and the fighter is further overshadowed. Long-term resource drain is the only way an old-school wizard's abilities are fair. Maybe you could halve or quarter casters' "spells per encounter" to make it work, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walking Dad View Post
    No, it is wizard puts out ~18 points of damage each time the cast 1 spell. They have more than 1 spell slot and you proposed spell recovery after each encounter.
    If the fighter deals his damage 3 times more each encounter (day is irrelevant with your proposed spell recovery), the wizards has to have less than 3 spells. And this doesn't include the wizard's spells ability to hit multiple enemies at a time.
    Saying that encounter recovery doesn't result in balance issues under D&D basic till 3.5 shows a lack of understanding.
    Reducing the amount of spells for each encounter could work.
    The OP is suggesting that the XP budget for the entire day would be used in each encounter! If this was the case, these perceived balance issues between the fighter and the wizard would disappear (or, rather, would be equivalent to whatever extent that they are present throughout the course of a normal adventuring day).

    Furthermore, with that much packed into each encounter, there should be plenty for each character to do without feeling overshadowed by any other player.

    My main concern with this style of play would be the same as I had with 4e: there really ought to be some morale rules to use when the tide of battle has irrevocably turned in the PCs' favor, without expecting the players to go through the grind of finishing their foes off (of course, if all resources are replenished after the encounter, this can be pretty easily hand-waved).

  • #10
    Potassium-Rich Moderator
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

    Kamikaze Midget's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    13,500
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews
    Blog Entries
    24

    ° Ignore Kamikaze Midget
    My communities:

    Quote Originally Posted by Walking Dad
    No, it is wizard puts out ~18 points of damage each time the cast 1 spell. They have more than 1 spell slot and you proposed spell recovery after each encounter
    It scales. If the wizard can do it three or four times per day, the fighter might need another six or twelve hits to "catch up," but you can peg it at whatever you need with the knowledge that each additional spell/day means an extra few rounds of fighter output. An average 4e adventuring day of 3 encounters is about 18 hits, so using that as a metric, our 1d8+10 fighter deals 270 damage, and our 5d6 wizard needs about 5 fireballs (or fireball-equivalents made of lower-level spells) per day to keep pace.

    Personally, I'd even encourage fighters to have a slight edge on raw damage output to encourage wizards to use their spells very tactically. Rather than 1d8+10 (pfft. That's peasant damage), I'd like to see 5th level fighters with, I dunno, 5d8+5. Extra actions, extra attacks, and extra damage can all blow that up even further: Fighters are SUPPOSED to be the reliable class! Meanwhile, if that wizard blows that fireball on a lone kobold, they may fry it, but then their total damage for the day is going to be lower than a fighter's. Meanwhile, if they manage to bunch all the kobolds together in a ten-by-ten room, maybe the wizard has earned his slight damage spike over the fighter by being super effective. And I'd also encourage spells per day to be low, so to encourage that "running out of resources" vibe, and just to make things cleaner overall.

    Now, 1d8+10 damage doesn't compare to, say, Fly, but that's a bit of a problem with pillars (combat vs. exploration) and not a problem with the maths. And I could live with a nerfed fly (say, something that requires an action to keep active) as a default, if it means a more inclusive game!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormonu
    high level play
    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewJHanson
    break down at high levels
    This mostly depends on how unweildy high level magic gets. Like in any edition of D&D, it might turn into the Options Hydra that paralyzes everyone. And those who aren't paralyzed might leverage obscure low-level spells to twink the game. But balancing lower-level spells with high-level use in mind is part of what I think is the designers' job, and I think 5e's "flat curve" can help ameliorate this: we don't need to see high level casters with 50 spells per day. I'd be content if a high level wizard could cast 10. There might be a more choice middle ground. Maybe 28, if the wizard tops out at 4/day of each spell level and there's 7 basic spell levels? As long as you keep them roughly equal in output to a fighter over the course of a day, making every encounter a day's worth of XP works clean and nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rune
    My main concern with this style of play would be the same as I had with 4e: there really ought to be some morale rules to use when the tide of battle has irrevocably turned in the PCs' favor, without expecting the players to go through the grind of finishing their foes off (of course, if all resources are replenished after the encounter, this can be pretty easily hand-waved).
    Sure, that works!

    Also, if you're finding combat too long, you might space out the recovery a bit more. Maybe every milestone (so each encounter is half a day!) or every 3 encounters (so you can get the three-act structure!) or whatever you feel comfortable with. Since it's mostly about playstyle, you can set it at whatever point you need (whatever "makes sense to you" or gets the players to act as you desire) without worrying too much about the numbers involved in output. Time shifting your rests is CRAZY flexible like that.
    Last edited by Kamikaze Midget; Wednesday, 25th July, 2012 at 04:48 AM.
    -- Jacob J Driscoll, Unsleeping---
    "A one inch mound of flesh with a scar running down it"

    PS5e v. 0.1: Faction Backgrounds
    Tieflings (& other planetouched) | Bariaur | Githzerai | Outcaste Modron
    FINAL FANTASY ZERO
    finalfantasyzero.wikidot.com

  • + Log in or register to post
    Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

    Similar Threads

    1. Setting up an encounter based on an illustration?
      By Bullgrit in forum General RPG Discussion
      Replies: 17
      Last Post: Friday, 24th June, 2011, 10:57 PM
    2. Encounter Based 4E - Thoughts?
      By P1NBACK in forum Older D&D Editions and OSR Gaming
      Replies: 27
      Last Post: Saturday, 24th April, 2010, 06:36 PM
    3. Encounter Based 4E - Thoughts?
      By P1NBACK in forum Older D&D Editions and OSR Gaming
      Replies: 16
      Last Post: Thursday, 22nd April, 2010, 02:56 PM
    4. Encounter-based magic system
      By tecnowraith in forum Older D&D Editions and OSR Gaming
      Replies: 3
      Last Post: Tuesday, 6th October, 2009, 02:35 AM
    5. How do these familiar based powers balance out?
      By Humanophile in forum Older D&D Editions and OSR Gaming
      Replies: 11
      Last Post: Thursday, 11th April, 2002, 08:54 PM

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •