D&D 5th Edition Day-Based & Encounter-Based: It's Not Balance, It's Playstyle - Page 3





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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG
    Naw, there's a clear focus on granulating XP for specific targets in combat encounters that are less granulated in what you refer to as "exploration and interaction challenges."
    I think that's true at the moment in the playtest, but I don't think that will or must remain true. I think it's that way in the playtest mostly due to D&D's legacy as a combat-centric game, and that further down the line we'll see more options on how to award XP and advance characters (likely including XP for traps, XP for social encounters, XP for hazards or obstacles, XP for discovering things, XP for accomplishing things, XP for treasure, XP for bringing pizza, etc.). It's one of the earliest and most traditional D&D house rules: DM awards XP for whatever.

    Independent of XP's use as a reward and advancement mechanism, I think a "budget" of some sort (call them Challenge Points if you'd like to make them distinct from the reward functions) helps account for the challenge of a given obstacle or series of obstacles. A budget is a petty good way to account for differing challenge levels and complexity levels in the challenges you place in your game. Trading this "Challenge Budget" one-for-one for XP to PC's who overcome those challenges is a fine starting point, though I don't believe it is an inflexible or inevitable one, as I point out above.

    My OP is mostly concerned with this use of XP as a "budget," not as a reward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG
    I suggest a new top-down approach that starts with a wider reaching award system that broadly handles all types of RPing, though certainly a module for each pillar with more specifics might be useful to those who want to focus their games in one or more of the three pillar areas.
    You seem to be talking about the reward functions of XP, and I don't think that really interacts with the "challenge accounting" functions of XP here. Regardless of your reward paradigm, as long as your challenges in an encounter = the typical challenges expected in a day, this works. If you don't reward XP for combat and instead award it based on the phases of the moon and the babbling of the blind parrot you bring to the table (or whatever), the budgeting functions still work fine.

    I agree, of course, that XP awards should be many and varied for any reasons the DM sees fit. I imagine 5e will inevitably include such a thing (though I could be mistaken!). But regardless of those reward functions, a "challenge budget" that is spent to purchase challenges for the party in between full recovery is flexible to various timings of that "full recovery." Even if that "challenge budget" never turns into a direct reward for PC's, it is useful in determining how many challenges PC's can face before they need to recover. That's the way I'm employing it.
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  • #22
    Huh. Apparently 2e was based around the encounter as well. Courtesy of @Medivh on rpg.net (interestingly it matches neither my 1e DMG nor my 2e DMG although my 2e does have that chapter).





  • #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon
    Apparently 2e was based around the encounter as well.
    Are you ignoring the post where I clarified that meaning, or were you just excited to post pictures of those awesomely art-blasted revised 2e books?

    Can't really blame you if it's the second.
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  • #24
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    D&D was environments, items and encounters, but encounters in no way guaranteed a combat occurred. Talking with a creature was an encounter too. In a similar fashion, the environment could be explored with interesting results without it necessarily being a trap.
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  • #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    I think that's a bit of a separate (though related) issue. The central idea is that all of a day's challenges (be they combat challenges or exploration challenges or interaction challenges) fit into one "encounter" if you want them to. If you don't measure that challenge with XP value, you just switch out to whatever guideline helps you determine challenge.
    This makes it all sound far too pre-packaged and pre-planned to suit anything I'd ever do.

    The adventure is what it is. The party of PCs approach it however they decide to. There's no "XP budget", no pre-set number of "challenges", and the encounters - such as they may be - are what they are. Some the party will plow thorugh no problem, others might make them think twice, a few might send them running. If it gets to the point where I can sit down and say to myself they can take on 300 XP worth but 350 XP is over their heads then the math has become WAY too fine-tuned.

    The OP reads like a manifesto for encounter-based rather than time-based reloading of party resources (spells, h.p., etc.) - the problem with this approach is there is no way to prevent a party from reloading: you can't wear them down slowly. With time-based reloading the assumption is they have to be able to rest; if that rest is disturbed then no reload, meaning most importantly the reload is not guaranteed. With any encounter-based system it is guaranteed (unless one defines an entire adventure as the encounter, which is ludicrous from the other direction) once the encounter is said to be over.

    The later bit quoted above suggesting an encounter could be defined as an entire day is an interesting way of trying to broaden the notion, but it still isn't nearly enough: the party still gets a full reload overnight. (which I know is the 4e way, but that still don't make it right)

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  • #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan
    The adventure is what it is.
    Sure. And how do you decide what it is? How do you decide how many goblins live in the lair? How do you decide what traps the tomb is full of? How do you decide how the DC and number of successes necessary to have successful diplomacy with a dragon?

    You might be a good enough DM to go with "what makes sense," but that's a DMing skill honed by practice, not something everyone has or does equally, so there should be rules for those who can't do it based just on that. Rules you can then ignore (without breaking the game, if it is well designed!) as you go with whatever makes sense to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan
    The party of PCs approach it however they decide to.
    Sure. But whether you're sneaking past the ogre, or killing it with swords, or recruiting it to your side, you're overcoming a challenge. These challenges might even have different XP values, since they may be of varying difficulty or complexity! And if you can account for the danger they pose to the party, you can build your own adventure without having to be an old hand at the thing already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan
    If it gets to the point where I can sit down and say to myself they can take on 300 XP worth but 350 XP is over their heads then the math has become WAY too fine-tuned.
    I agree, but I don't think it'll be that fine-tuned. 300 XP might be a rough target. 350 XP might be a bit tougher. 600 XP might tend to take two days, but a skilled and/or lucky party might cut through it in one. The balance need not be precise to serve as a useful guide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan
    the problem with this approach is there is no way to prevent a party from reloading: you can't wear them down slowly
    That's true, but a lot of people who play D&D don't want to bother with the gradual attrition, and they probably shouldn't have to.

    I prefer a gradual attrition myself (and I think it's a little more "traditional D&D"), but it's actually not too hard for both playstyles to exist under one game's umbrella. You and I can have our gradual wear-downs, AND folks who appreciate a more scene-based approach don't have to worry about it. All it means is making sure the party can't ruin an individual encounter with a certain effect, and that each party member can add to each encounter in some way. And that's not, in my mind, a horrible price to pay, assuming it's done smart.
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  • #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    You seem to be talking about the reward functions of XP, and I don't think that really interacts with the "challenge accounting" functions of XP here.

    I think the reward functions steer toward a place in a way that needs to be re-examined and rebuilt from the ground up. Using that for a basis of budgeting encounters reinforces it how it is the wrong place to start for rewards.
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  • #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG
    I think the reward functions steer toward a place in a way that needs to be re-examined and rebuilt from the ground up. Using that for a basis of budgeting encounters reinforces it how it is the wrong place to start for rewards.
    I'm not concerned in this idea with the reward functions, though. Just with the budgeting functions. The reward functions are their own bag, and are certainly worthy of conversation on their own, but have little to do directly with burning PC resources.
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  • #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    I'm not concerned in this idea with the reward functions, though. Just with the budgeting functions. The reward functions are their own bag, and are certainly worthy of conversation on their own, but have little to do directly with burning PC resources.

    Once you divorce "XP" or its replacement from PC resource management and challenge budgeting you can get to a place where a reward system doesn't steer toward a so-called combat pillar, where PC aren't managing their resources in a way drives them toward optimizing for combat, and where RPing of all stripes holds more equal footing during encounter design.
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  • #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG
    Once you divorce "XP" or its replacement from PC resource management and challenge budgeting you can get to a place where a reward system doesn't steer toward a so-called combat pillar, where PC aren't managing their resources in a way drives them toward optimizing for combat, and where RPing of all stripes holds more equal footing during encounter design.
    Sure. But that's still about the reward (You get XP for doing X, Y, and Z). I'm still interested in this post mostly about accounting for challenge (How hard is it to do X, Y, and Z?).

    That accounting works regardless of the nature of the challenge. If you're rolling dice and spending resources and have a risk of failure, that accounting is necessary somewhere.

    And if your actions have no risk of failure, well, that's an exciting but entirely different design perspective than the one I'm dealing with here.
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