D&D 5th Edition If an option is presented, it needs to be good enough to take.




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  1. #1
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    Ignore B.T.

    If an option is presented, it needs to be good enough to take.

    I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day, and he said something to the effect of: "I think blasting spells should be less good than melee combat because that's not what wizards are supposed to be doing. Wizards should be mostly about utility spells."

    And this annoyed me, and I realized that this was what I really hate about Paizo. (Don't worry, this will relate to 5e at some point.) The idea that game designers should write an option into the game and deliberately underpower it for whatever cruel reason is foolish and encourages system mastery. As an example of this, the Pathfinder take on the VOP monk trades all your magic items for a few extra ki points a day. According to Sean K. Reynolds, it's okay for this to exist because "poverty sucks."

    Naturally, what happens with this is that new players select an underpowered option and whoops it sucks lol, which then frustrates and discourages them while simultaneously encouraging an elitist sytem of character optimization.

    Thus, 5e needs to take this lesson to heart: no deliberately underpowered junk. Not everything needs to be perfectly balanced, but if the developers include an option available to players, it needs to be rougly equivalent in power to the other options.

    As a side note, this generally punishes non-casters more than casters. Why? Because realism or whatever. (This thread was sparked by a debate about tripping monsters in Pathfinder. The option to trip is available to everyone, but in order to use it, you have to specialize greatly, and even then, you'll probably suck at it. And the response to this was, "Well, monsters are hard to trip, duh.")

  2. #2
    There is a context in which "poor" choices are still OK. That is, if they extend a character's abilities to cover a weak area, or provide depth that otherwise the PC could not have. A simple example - a fire specialist mighty still choose a non-optimal cold spell, so that they have a valid option to fight creatures that are immune to fire. In 4E, melee characters often benefit from having an low-damage close burst or area attack as a fall back in case they end up fighting invisible creatures, or are blinded.

    Otherwise, I agree. I don't want to be presented with a bunch of "realistic" or "logically should exist" choices for character building, that are covering up decent helpful choices.

  3. #3
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    Ignore Gorgoroth

    ..

    Pathfinder was great in some ways, but terrible in others, and yes, I think it's mostly due to the unneccesary over-nerfage of options.

    Definitely concur that all options should be viable.

    In PF you needed high system mastery to even build a decent barbarian (since e.g. a fighter or an alchemist would kick your butt without even trying very hard).

    I think not balancing the options is a result of not giving enough playtest time to iron out the bugs before printing, or just not opening up the online tools to the playerbase to fix broken kruft.

    Have some faith in the players a bit. There is NO way any company can iron out in advance, all the bugs, but if errata are allowed, they need to be OPTIONAL and COMMUNITY-DRIVEN.

    In the era of PDFs and online auto-errata, there is NO excuse for the mangled mess of krusty feats and useless magic items and terrible classes such as 4e had.

    I'm not saying PF is necessarily better -- I've only played a dozen or so archetypes so far), but many more options are fun and viable to me, whereas in 4e I just could not get away from the system mastery aspect to have fun in it.

    On the other hand, if I wanted to play, say, a 2WF in PF, I'd pick the archetype for the fighter and be done with it, but that doesn't mean it didn't suck, in practice it played boringly and very static and so on (a side effect of the full attack action / 5 ft sludge

    Very good point to bring up, but the solution IMO is a framework where the community can vote on and propose fixes to items/feats/builds/whatever, and the errata can be applied optionally or in tandem, so that existing campaigns and characters are not broken 1/2 way through (this happened to us countless times...and derailed our campaign too often to continue. errata can be quite disruptive, especially when sometimes the fixes are worse than the problem).

  4. #4
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    Slightly tanget to what you rightfully identify as a problem is the problem of a false choice. Right now, in 5e, if you want to play a wizard, it is really hard not to choose the Magic User specialty. If you want to play a rogue, it is kind of mandatory to pick the Lurker specialty, or at least it seems that way to me.

    And, straight to your point, I think Jack of all Trades as a specialty is a horrible choice. It really doesn't fit in the same league with the other specialties (especially Toughness - which is probably too good for fighters especially).

    I'm hoping there will be many more backgrounds and specialties available so that it is possible to make a different kind of wizard or rogue or cleric or fighter rather than just matching the best option for the class.

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    Ignore Kinak
    There are a lot of games I've run where Vow of Poverty is just a freebie. In it's Pathfinder form, I'd just allow it because it won't throw things terribly out of whack. Who would begrudge the monk a couple ki points?

    On the other hand, if they powered it up to be "worth it" to never use gear (such as the 3.5 version), you'd need to make sure it wasn't allowed if your campaign went a gear-light direction. Which means, you need to know if your game is going to end up gear-light during character creation.

    Similarly, in a campaign with a lot of humanoid enemies, a powered-up trip could end up being really annoying. But the current version is probably pretty good.

    What I'm trying to say is: I don't mind if an option is "bad" as long as it's a valid choice for somebody's game. What I don't want to do is go around outlawing options in the games they're good for.

    So, I'd rather the Undead Killer specialization suck in 90% of games and shine a little in my zombie apocalypse than have it be "valid" in every game and say "Sorry, you can't play an Undead Killer. Too many zombies."

    Cheers!
    Kinak

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgoroth View Post
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    Pathfinder was great in some ways, but terrible in others, and yes, I think it's mostly due to the unneccesary over-nerfage of options.

    Definitely concur that all options should be viable.

    In PF you needed high system mastery to even build a decent barbarian (since e.g. a fighter or an alchemist would kick your butt without even trying very hard).
    There is an issue in balance that PF dialed to 11: moving parts.

    In 3.5/PF (esp PF) I have my race, class(es), archetype, prestige class(es), feats, skills, class abilities (fixed), class abilities (chosen), magic items, spells, talents, etc.

    That's a lot of moving parts of keep track of. You need decent system mastery to just keep everything in line.

    Lest you think 4e made it any better, It just combined a bunch of those into one list and called them "powers". It also added Paragon Paths, Themes, Epic Destinies, etc...

    Less is more. Race, Class, Spells, Items, and maybe Skills/Feats. Customization is good, but the more granular the system, the easier it is to break down.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhandus
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  7. #7
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    Ignore Magil
    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis View Post
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    Less is more. Race, Class, Spells, Items, and maybe Skills/Feats. Customization is good, but the more granular the system, the easier it is to break down.
    I hear "less is more" a lot, but that's only true to an extent. If you significantly reduce the amount of interesting decisions I need to make when I level up, then I probably won't be interested in the game.

    My personal hope is that they eventually get rid of "dead levels" in DnD Next and I am telling them this via feedback at every opportunity. I don't like any time I gain a level and the only thing I get is a numbers boost in certain areas (and bounded accuracy is going to reduce that somewhat too). Take the current 2nd level of fighter, where the only thing you get is +1 to a skill and some HP. 4/8 are mostly the same, except with ability score bumps.

    As for the comment about being easier to break down, I say, oh well. I'd rather they make more interesting decisions for us to make and work to balance them than take away the decisions. I'm fine with making combat flow faster and thus keeping options for what you do on your turn simple--but please do not extend this to the character creation process. The current approach, I think, will work if things like Specialties and Fighting Styles are optional. But I hope that eventually I will be able to choose feats and maneuvers on an individual basis. If not, I will be very, very disappointed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magil View Post
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    I hear "less is more" a lot, but that's only true to an extent. If you significantly reduce the amount of interesting decisions I need to make when I level up, then I probably won't be interested in the game.

    My personal hope is that they eventually get rid of "dead levels" in DnD Next and I am telling them this via feedback at every opportunity. I don't like any time I gain a level and the only thing I get is a numbers boost in certain areas (and bounded accuracy is going to reduce that somewhat too). Take the current 2nd level of fighter, where the only thing you get is +1 to a skill and some HP. 4/8 are mostly the same, except with ability score bumps.

    As for the comment about being easier to break down, I say, oh well. I'd rather they make more interesting decisions for us to make and work to balance them than take away the decisions. I'm fine with making combat flow faster and thus keeping options for what you do on your turn simple--but please do not extend this to the character creation process. The current approach, I think, will work if things like Specialties and Fighting Styles are optional. But I hope that eventually I will be able to choose feats and maneuvers on an individual basis. If not, I will be very, very disappointed.
    Here is my Pathfinder problem.

    There comes a point where you experience overload of options however. My elven rogue may have combed over various dozens of various options and optional rules, creating weird synergies that break the game. Its customization as all get, but its really easy to make very broken characters by picking the right variant racial abilities, class features and archetypes, talents/powers/quirks, feats, and magical junk (not to mention spells or skills) to hyperspecialize and break what balance there is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhandus
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magil View Post
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    I hear "less is more" a lot, but that's only true to an extent. If you significantly reduce the amount of interesting decisions I need to make when I level up, then I probably won't be interested in the game.
    Where I'm the opposite: I don't usually want to have to make decisions at level-up - just tell me what the level automatically gives me and what dice I need to roll, and let's get on with the game.
    My personal hope is that they eventually get rid of "dead levels" in DnD Next and I am telling them this via feedback at every opportunity.
    Then tell them to reduce the number of playable-range levels. If the system goes from 1-30 (or even 1-20) and you get one or more new powers/feats/whatevers every level plus all the other stuff a level gives you then by the highest levels your character sheet will be about the same complexity as the instruction manual for a 747. Which is ridiculous.

    A game-play level range of 1-12 or 1-15 is enough. Higher levels can exist, of course, but the intent is that the game doesn't get played there; those levels are more for opponents, mentors, major NPCs, etc.

    As for the comment about being easier to break down, I say, oh well. I'd rather they make more interesting decisions for us to make and work to balance them than take away the decisions. I'm fine with making combat flow faster and thus keeping options for what you do on your turn simple--but please do not extend this to the character creation process.
    Character generation should ideally be one of the simplest mechanical parts of the whole game-play process; and the fastest.

    Why?

    Because when I'm creating a character I'm not playing the game*; and I'd rather get on with the game.

    * - defined as having one's character actually do something in the game world

    Lanefan
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remathilis View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member.
    Less is more. Race, Class, Spells, Items, and maybe Skills/Feats. Customization is good, but the more granular the system, the easier it is to break down.
    In my opinion, 5e is already shooting past this. Race, Subrace, Class, Subclass, Attributes, Specialization, and Background all at first level, plus the usual Spells and Items.

    Say what you will about option overload in 3rd and 4e (a valid complaint in both cases), at least a lot of that comes in later in the process. Pathfinder can get about as bad if you use all the archetypes and racial modifiers.

    Balance aside, that's just too much to set in stone at first level. I really want a system with simple questions during character creation, then the more complex choices as players start to understand their characters and the world.

    Cheers!
    Kinak

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