Legends & Lore 09/03 - RPG design philosophy - Page 3


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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    Yes, many people enjoy them, however none of them are rpgs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    I do believe that while trying to please all they still have a lot of 4e mindset alongside some of their 3e mindset.
    Wait ... wouldn't an attempt to please everyone require some 4e alongside some 3e?

    Unless you mean either:

    1. 5e should not have any elements drawn from 4e whatsoever; or

    2. 5e has too many elements drawn from 4e and not enough from other editions.

    If the former, then WotC probably would not have much hope of bringing gamers who like 4e into 5e. If the latter, then WotC probably would not have much hope of bringing gamers who like any edition of D&D into 5e.

    Speaking as someone who likes 4e myself, saying that there are too many elements drawn from 4e in the current playtest draft of the 5e rules is a bit like saying there is too much gold in seawater.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    Edit: it's more a case of him describing my playstyle using the language of a detractor instead of a neutral voice. Thats all. I'm not like enraged or anything. Just annoyed and saddened.
    Oh gosh. What a terrible thing to happen to you. I completely emphathize.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    The different type of PC are more like the chess pieces than the chess players, as I see it.
    Except that the individual chess pieces don't have individual agency - in fact, some are literally pawns! (And all metaphorically are such.)

    Each PC has to be a viable tool for a player expressing his/her agency (= protagonism) in the game. That is a fairly strong constraint, which PCs modelled on the variety of chess pieces would almost certainly fail to satisfy if mechanical effectiveness was even remotely relevant to gameplay (which it frequently is in D&D).

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    Basically, many of the coolest moments in a D&D game, where one character gets to truly shine, come from a localized "imbalance" in the game rules. The wizard killing two dozen enemy minions with a carefully-placed fireball, the fighter wading through melee without a scratch on him, the rogue taking out the enemy wizard with a single well-placed Sneak Attack.
    You describe these by reference to what happened in the fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
    4e stripped out a lot of variety in the name of balance, and 5e is bringing a lot of variety back (first and foremost by replacing AEDU with class-specific power and ability systems).
    Here you seem to be talking about mechanics.

    I think it is a potential mistake to assume that mechanical variations in resolution are the key to producing dramatic and rewarding differences in the fiction of the sort that you mention.

    For example, in my own experience 4e is quite good at producing those differences, despite the similar mechanical frameworks for PC build and action resolution. Better than classic D&D, to be honest. But even for others who have had different experiences, it doesn't follow that mechanical differentiation of the sort you describe is going to produce ficitonal differentiation of the sort you seem to want.

  • #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLance View Post
    Oh gosh. What a terrible thing to happen to you. I completely emphathize.
    Made me laugh out loud. Would XP you but must spread it around some more.







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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    I'ma add to the chorus here, with a slightly different twist:

    Personally, I think Chess is boring. It is a Solved Game. You will always loose to someone who knows more than you do. Thus, it's not balanced: there is system mastery built into it. Even two people who have similar system mastery may not be balanced (what with the White advantage).

    Monopoly is also boring. It's not exactly Solved, but it is largely random who succeeds and who fails. Park Place is not balanced with Baltic Avenue. Add to that house rules that change the game around.

    Starcraft is also pretty boring to me, and, like Chess, it's kind of Solved. But it's also not perfectly balanced (there's a reason everyone knows what a Zerg Rush is).

    You're also not really talking about the same sort of balance. In all three games, the balance is PvP in a defined boundary: clearly if one person wins abusing a certain strategy, that strategy is unbalanced. In D&D, the balance is a much more subtle beast. You're cooperating against the DM's challenges and even then, the odds are heavily in your favor, and they MUST be: the price for failure is always very very very final. Rather than PvP balance, it's more PvE, with the balancing mechanism being: one player should not be more effective in more circumstances than other players. Which is very subtle and mostly psychological.

    What this means in 5e, and with regards to the goals Mearls mentioned, I think it means that all characters need to be able to contribute to each of the three major challenges present in the D&D game. Not even necessarily in equal measure, just that they be able to have some "spotlight time" in a given session, and perhaps to do something no other character can do at least once per session.

    ANYWAY

    Personally, I'm really curious what this massive gulf between players and R&D was, and how they realized it was there. I'm tempted to conjecture about what it may be, but I'd really like to know what THEY saw, and how they saw it was a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    In D&D, the balance is a much more subtle beast. You're cooperating against the DM's challenges and even then, the odds are heavily in your favor, and they MUST be: the price for failure is always very very very final.
    I know it's somewhat orthogonal to your post, but the notion that the default price for failure is PC death is, in my view, a significant obstacle to making D&D into a more playable game:

    It discourages participation by players in situations at which their PCs are not strong (because any failure will lead to death).

    It produces "fight to the death" combats that can put more weight on the encounter building guidelines, and/or the retreat rules, than they can reasonably be expected to bear.

    It creates an incentive structure in which players have a reason to leverage any advantage, however marginal, and however tedious in play, in order to avoid the game crashing to a halt.

    Given some of D&Dnext's design goals, like making a broader range of actions viable for a broader range of PCs, and desirable for a broader range of players; and also supporting a range of styles from Gygaxian "skilled play" dungeon crawling to 4e-style mythic fantasy; I think it would help for the designers to consider how a broader range of stakes, and less extreme failure conditions, can be made part of the game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundark View Post
    Yes, many people enjoy them, however none of them are rpgs
    Yes. And that is the point mearls mentions. RPG design and computer/board game design are completely different things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    Personally, I'm really curious what this massive gulf between players and R&D was, and how they realized it was there. I'm tempted to conjecture about what it may be, but I'd really like to know what THEY saw, and how they saw it was a problem.
    I am curious as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think it would help for the designers to consider how a broader range of stakes, and less extreme failure conditions, can be made part of the game.
    People have tried, at least on the individual scenario/case basis, and players seem to treat it as life or death anyway. Take, for example, an encounter with a rust monster. That's hardly likely to end in death, just the destruction of some gear. But you'd think the DM had kicked the players' puppies if that rust monster chows down on a decent sword or suit of armor. People on these boards have reported players dropping characters rather than play with some of their best gear destroyed. That's equivalent to character death, that very very final penalty.

    Then there is the case of capture. It's pretty rare to see PCs surrender. They'd rather suffer a TPK, it seems, than surrender to their enemies. They always seem to assume they'll be executed summarily - of course - maybe that's because that's how they generally behave as PCs when enemies surrender to them.

    These have always been part of the game and alternatives to PC/party death. Yet, players don't exactly embrace them. There may be ways to encourage it in the rules, I suppose. Mutants and Masterminds does a reasonable job by handing out hero points when PCs suffer significant setbacks or complications. It is, after all, in-genre for superheroes to be on the short end of the stick and then turn the situation around as the story progresses to the climactic confrontation. D&D might be able to make use of that idea.
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