Why have dissociated mechanics returned? - Page 7





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  1. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Robilar View Post
    Here are some examples of what I mean from the current playtest material. I’m sorry If this comes over as a rant at times. I have to say that I was fairly happy with where the game was going before, but this topic really bugs me... To decrease the severity of the rant I will try to include ideas of what kinds of alternative rules I would prefer. I'd be really interested in your opinion on these thoughts.


    From the Bestiary:

    „Mob tactics“. In the description it says that the creature chooses an opponent. Other allies that also have this trait gain a bonus to their attack and damage against the chosen opponent. However, there is no explanation of what is happening and I’m struggling to find an answer. I guess what it means is that the creature isn’t actually choosing anyone, but is itself attacking the target creature, and the bonus it’s allies get represents this. If it is meant like that I don’t like it at all. In my book, when a creature is attacking another creature, it should make an attack roll. Seems to me that this rule was included to reduce the number of dice rolls when many creatures of one kind attack a single foe. If this is the case, I would very much favour seperate stat blocks for single creatures and for swarms of smaller variants of the same creature type.

    There are several traits that function just like this. The gnoll is „Savage“, but only when it can see two other creatures with the Savage trait within 30 feet. Why? Why is the gnoll incapable of attacking with all his savagery, when he fights alone and is up against a helpless victim? Is he somehow restrained in his rage when he is alone?

    The Hobgoblin has a „Disciplined“ action. It chooses a foe within it’s reach, and the next attack against this foe from his ally has advantage. But what is the Hobgoblin doing? And why is it best explained with the word „Disciplined“? A much better way of explaining things like these can be seen in the Guardian Specialty, where it says that you throw your shield between a creature and the ally that it tries to attack, giving the creature disadvantage.
    Continuing with the Hobgoblin, it has the „Steadfast“ trait, meaning it cannot be frightened while an ally is within 30 feet. Why not? This may make sense when the Hobgoblins encounter the Player Characters, but does it make sense when two Hobgoblins encounter Cthulhu?
    ...
    Summing up, what I see a lot in this iteration of the playtest is monster design where slapping a description like „Disciplined“ or „Savage“ onto a rules mechanic is ok and enough to explain what is happening in the world. I find this a problematic design approach and dearly hope they will reconsider. I’m also not a fan of heavy use of exception-based game design as I believe it is seldom the best way to represent a precise action that a creature is capable of.
    Summing the above up, you've just described why I find the even the 2e monster manual mechanically bores me rigid. Without such abilities, the difference between an orc and a hobgoblin with the same equipment is something like +1 to hit and damage. And there's no major difference between a gnoll and an orc in terms of the way you fight them. Send in the clones!

    With such mechanics for monster psychology and tactics, the way we fight differing monsters varies. Pack animals are creatures who are much more dangerous in packs and you defeat them in detail to win. We often go in with psychological warfare against orcs - but against hobgoblins it ain't gonna work. Simple, effective, allows for differing monster psychology (which is far more iteresting than "Orcs are seven foot tall, green skinned eat the left hind leg of worgs, and are +2 hit points and +1 to hit and damage over humans but -1 morale value" which is about all you are left with when you remove disassociated mechanics).

    As a player, monsters who think differently and are at their most effective behaving differently are much more interesting than what are mechanically a set of clones and that I only gain an advantage over by unsettling them thanks to the generosity of a DM. And as a DM, I have literally never had problems working out how to interpret bonusses that are given for monsters behaving in the way they ought to.

    Disassociated mechanics: An aid to gamism as they mean the monsters can be wrongfooted. An aid to narrativism as they mean the monsters feel more like their mythical archetypes. And an aid to any except the most process dirven simulationism because it allows the outcomes to match the desired outcomes.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by underfoot007ct View Post
    "Immersive" & "immersion" are buzz words that puzzle me a bit. Can someone supply a working definition of these. I want to get a better understanding on just people mean with these terms.
    The player becomes immersed in the game-world, seeing it from the perspective of his own character. The rules, the dice, the character sheet, the room the player is in, vanish, or, at least, recede, and the fantasy world becomes in a sense the primary reality.

    Immersion is associated with simulationism, verisimilitude, and suspension of disbelief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obryn View Post
    Funny thing. I likewise grew up on that philosophy. After playing many different games over the years, I have since decided that metagame mechanics don't make for a worse game, and, when done well, in fact make games better.

    Look - I don't need, want, or expect a Next that's as metagame as some parts of 4e. I already have 4e; I am no more interested in 4e Part II than I am in 3e Part III or 1e Part XIV. And I completely understand that not everybody cares for the 4e style of play, even though I don't share their opinion. So, I'm more than happy to budge on it - to move towards a middle in the interest of compromise.

    So, it's more than a little irksome when that same sense of compromise is nowhere in evidence from the "non-metagame" folks and all I see is yet more people posting yet more links to a pseudo-philosophical manifesto written by a dude on the internet, applying new labels to mechanics that have existed almost as long as RPGs, and excluding many excellent modern RPGs from the RPG club.

    -O
    I'm for compromise. But I'd rather it be in the form of modularity and not rules done half-way.

    The reason is that I can't play with plot coupons. I'd honestly just rather go play monopoly. D&D is a commitment that far exceeds normal games. I'm the DM by the way most of the time. And for my style of game it takes a pretty high time commitment. And I'm not complaining but when I run a campaign it has to be really good for me. I don't want to feel like I'm playing a boardgame. Dissociative mechanics give me that feel. I can't take the world or the characters in it very seriously.

    Since I've been doing this a long while, I have players that enjoy similar approaches. I give them what they like and we all have fun. I don't mind a bit if others play a different way. My issue right now is that I feel the CS dice are dissociative. And that is on the fighter class! If it were the warlord or the xyz class I'd just ban that class. Kind of hard to ban the fighter.

    If I bother with 5e, and I'm on the fence right now, I'll probably rewrite the CS dice rule. Or if I'm lazy I'll just say "damage only" simple fighter. My fighter players have never complained that the fighter is boring. I am writing my own set of rules, which is hard by the way, and if that reaches some level of usability I might go that way. There are a lot of "minor" things that I accept about D&D and I could fix them all if I did it myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Summing the above up, you've just described why I find the even the 2e monster manual mechanically bores me rigid.
    I agree with you, it's terrible. It's just pointless detail, such as, as you say, what orcs eat. Stuff anyone could come up with, like dwarves don't like rust monsters or an aarakocra's feather is a material component for a fly spell.

    RuneQuest's Trollpak did this kind of thing much better, and about ten years earlier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Disassociated mechanics:
    An aid to gamism as they mean the monsters can be wrongfooted.
    I know you threw this in trying to be fair. But if this happens it's just bad design.


    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    An aid to narrativism as they mean the monsters feel more like their mythical archetypes.
    I don't see this. I'm not sure how it even bears upon the issue. Could you give me a specific example where the mechanic is dissociative and not and why the not helps?

    I do agree that the narrativist playstyle favors dissociative mechanics generally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    And an aid to any except the most process driven simulationism because it allows the outcomes to match the desired outcomes.
    It is harder to produce a game that does not have dissociative mechanics. No argument there. But it is not impossible or even really hard. It is just hard-er. So for many people if you just slap something together it will have a dissociative mechanic. Since many of us consider games with dissociative mechanics unplayable, it's of course worth it.

    What I find really amusing is that Monte Cook is making a game (Numenera) by the way that is so dissociative it's crazy. He is widely reviled by the 4e crowd and I doubt they are even giving him a chance. His kickstart is doing well though and I have contributed hoping I can remove them from my games. But each time a new article gets posted my hopes sink a little bit more. So he is making a game for them not me. Weird eh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Summing the above up, you've just described why I find the even the 2e monster manual mechanically bores me rigid.
    Two things here. I get that you enjoy the special maneuvers that 4e offered for monsters but why the hate for the extra cultural information. This info was sorely missed by me in both 3e and 4e. I love all the ecology etc... As a DM I would design lairs and dungeons based on this culture. While I realize any DM can come up with stuff, don't you think it helps new DMs and even old DMs occasionally by jarring an idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    You make it sound as if I, the player, am making decisions that draw on a different pool of information from what my PC drew upon, and which don't correspond to the decisions that my PC actually made on the basis of that different pool of information.

    I though that that was meant to be the very definition of "dissociation"!

    After all, that's just what happens with a martial encounter power: I, the player, decide to use the power now, based on one pool of information (say, that now would be a tactically sound time to get to attack with a close burst); while my PC makes a decision based on a different pool of information to which I, the player, am not privy (say, noticing an opportunity and deciding to exploit it).
    Yes. That was kind of my point, above. It's the same logic that allows me to say (straight-faced) that you've knocked an ooze "prone." The mechanical effect is clear; I just need to describe the fiction in such a way that it makes sense. Exactly the same as this definition of initiative.

    -O

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug McCrae View Post
    I agree with you, it's terrible. It's just pointless detail, such as, as you say, what orcs eat. Stuff anyone could come up with, like dwarves don't like rust monsters or an aarakocra's feather is a material component for a fly spell.

    RuneQuest's Trollpak did this kind of thing much better, and about ten years earlier.
    Trollpak is imo still unbettered as a product describing a race for any RPG. And had great scenarios in it too. Some Traveller 'Alien Race' products get close, but nothing else I've seen. I've seen products of comparable quality, but not Race guides.

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    Dissociated mechanics never left, so they couldn't really return.

    It seems to me that Dissociated Mechanics are fundamentally "Abstractions I don't like", or if you wish a less snarky description, "Abstractions that didn't work for me".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Robilar View Post
    This would be a good description for the Gnoll's tactics section so DMs can play them adequately. But the mechanic as written doesn't capture (and doesn't even try to capture) the creature's savage nature. Instead it gives the creature a specific advantage in a combat situation and slaps the "Savage" tag onto it. The trait is a tactical mechanic for a creature in a tactical combat situation and was clearly designed from this point of view. Now this is a suitable design approach for a tactical combat game, but some may say it's problematic in a role-playing game.
    Personally, I found it rather obvious what the trait refers to. The question is not, whether people see it as problematic, but if there would be a significant portion of consumers who find it difficult to make that connection.

    To describe the problem adequately, you do not even have to resort to notions of "association". It's the conflict between clarity and brevity which has been discussed since antiquity.

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