D&D 5th Edition If an option is presented, it needs to be good enough to take. - Page 24




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  1. #231
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    I think I need help with the vocabulary and differentiating between defining characteristic, niche, trope, and stereotype.
    Especially in 1st ed AD&D I think these can be tricky, as your list brings out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    The ranger with tracking - in 1e we picture the character having it, they have mechanical support for it, and they're the only ones
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Being sneaky - we picture the 1e thief having it and they have mechanical support for it basically only at the higher levels

    Being sneaky in the woods - the 1e flavor text makes it sound like the ranger should be, but there is no mechanical support for it and the thief is the one you'd actually want
    Except that the ranger gives you the surprise bonus. I think it's a mechanical weakness of 1st ed AD&D that it doesn't integrate its surprise rules with its stealth rules in any very consistent way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Being smart - we picture the mage being the smartest, and there is flavor text to support, but no mechanics in 1e, and in 3e the mechanics actually support other classes being more knowledgable.

    <snip>

    The mage rocking out the knowledge checks doesn't seem to be at the same level as the thief being the best at opening doors and sneaking around or the mage being the one with a huge variety of interesting spells.
    In his DMG (p 86), Gygax gives as the characteristics of a poorly-played magic-user "seek[ing] to engage in meee or ignor[ing] magic items they could employ in crucial situations", and of a poorly-played fighter "hang[ing] back from combat or attempt[ing] to steal, or fail[ing] to boldly lead".

    I think that the smarts of an MU, and the contrast with other PCs in that respect, were expected to emerge, at least in part, via the way the PC was played.

    I don't know 3E well enough to know what other knowledgeable classes you have in mind (the bard? but won't INT be weaker for a bard than for a wizard, so that the wizard will somewhat make up the gap in skill points and have a better stat bonus to Knowledge?).

    In 4e, the wizard is I think the most knowledgeable class, having access to all 5 knowledge skills (Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Nature and Religion), having good INT and (for some builds, at least) secondary WIS, and having good access to rituals. An invoker is also a good scholar, with good WIS (but no class access to Dungeoneering or Nature), and (for some builds, at least) secondary INT. Like wizards, psions favour INT, but lack Nature and Religion as class skills; swordmages favour INT, but have lack Dungeoneering, Nature and Religion.

    Warlocks can also have secondary INT, but are likely to have lower WIS, and lack Nature and Dungeoneering as class skills, and so are second-tier intellectuals. Bards have access to the full range of skills, but will have secodary INT, or secondary WIS, but not both. A warlord can be a good historian (History class skill plus secondary INT) but has no other knowledge class skills.

    So maybe because I have a lot of experience with Rolemaster, where casters tend to have narrow spell lists by classic D&D standards but are also generally the best at knowledge, or because I am currently GMing 4e, which tends to resemble RM in this respect, I have a different view of the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    It seems the mage having spells like knock or the cleric having find traps, or in 4e all characters having access to miscellaneous magic seem much more niche busting than a sage type.
    I'm from the anti-Find Traps and anti-Knock school, so no disagreement there! (4e fixes both.)

    I'm not worried about the sage's overlap - it's the sheer mechanical effectiveness. If it's clearly better than the casters, they get downgraded in relative terms which means, if the game is tightly designed, also in absolute terms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    I really like the idea of how it impacts setting up the DCs, but I think that leads to a whole other area.
    I was thinking of this more in terms of system parameters than individual scenario design. (If there is a good Lore resolution system, then its DCs need to be defined with reference to the range of PC build parameters just as monsters, which are central components of the combat resolution system, are designed by reference to those parameters).

    I agree with you that scenario design is a somewhat separate area. I think good scenario design permits multiple avenues, and tries to spell out consequences for that. So if the players don't have a scholarly sage among them, they have to learn the info some other way (say, go to the scriptorium and ask politely, bribe, or just shake the place down!). And this other way should matter to how things unfold. (This is tricky in pre-packaged scenario design, but I think not impossible - look at the scenarios in the HeroWars Narrator's Book, or some of the Penumbra d20 modules.)

    As far as D&Dnext is concerned, I think this is where background traits could be put to work. The players and GM should both be playing towards traits as natural guides to likely approaches to a scenario, and also sources of consequences.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesonCourage View Post
    I imagine the sage would also have decently strong social skills, which I think would make up for it.
    OK, now I'm starting to see a bard without spells!

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesonCourage View Post
    You just need to buff those skills for the sage.
    Assuming the game as a whole is coherently designed, buffing the sage is the same as de-buffing the wizard, because the overall mechanics will be designed to fit the sorts of PC builds the game permits.

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesonCourage View Post
    Don't play a sage type when you move away from 3/3/3! Or, heck, don't move away from 3/3/3. Problem solved.

    By not using the opt-out. Problem avoided. If the sage is merely beefed up, then the default assumption of the Wizard (now Invoker) and your Sage of Ages is still the same.

    <snip>

    Because if you ban the opt-out, then those class features won't exist in your game. Make it very clear that the game was designed around 3/3/3, and the optional opt-out is a campaign setting issue, and what the ramifications will likely be if you use it.

    You don't want Wizards to be out-shined even in mundane Lore? Cool, nobody in your campaign has the opt-out abilities.

    <snip>

    My proposal is to design to 3/3/3, and then clearly inform people to what will happen if they tip that balance, but give them the option to opt-out of forced balance. He'll have more Lore than the Wizard, potentially bigger bonuses (doesn't need to be by a lot), he might have advantage on some rolls, he might have some rerolls, he might get to make up his answers, he might get to use his Lore in new ways that normal people don't.

    <snip>

    For whatever reason, I'm a stickler on the mechanics matching the fiction.
    Well, I'm a stickler for the action resolution and scene-framing rules matching the PC builds that the game supports. Suppose WotC actually design some Lore resolution mechanics, framed around certain spellcasters as the "sage" PCs, just as the melee combat mechanics are framed around fighters and rogues as the "swordsman" PCs. I can't really envisage them then publishing an option with a mechanically better sage than those casters, adding a caveat "If you use this PC, the play of our Lore mechanics will break."

    Of course, as I said above, I may be wrong in this respect. If they're prepared to publish options that break their game, that's their prerogative. My concern is them designing a game that assumes the mechanical and story space, without breaking, for such PCs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    If 5e wants to be 100 % inclusive and provide means for ôoutlier groupsö to actualize their playstyle preferences/tastesůmodules to do so and considerable advice is the way to do it. And I see no harm in that (so long as it is modular, the non-combat action resolution mechanics are in place and there is considerable advice/guidance for those groups).
    If they're prepared for those options to just hang there, not fitting into the design of the action resolution and scene-framing mechanics, than I'm agreed (though, as you say, some warnings would be good!). That is the Rolemaster Companion approach to design. But it's a bit lazy, isn't it? Imagine an optional duelist class who gets a better to-hit bonus than the fighter, but can't wear armour. Is that opening up modular design space? Or just building a class that is broken relative to the core mechanical framework of the game? My intuition is that it is the latter, and I have somewhat the same feeling about the mundane sage.

    My personal preference is for a tighter approach to design, where they have a clear sense of the parameters for viable PC abilities, clearly stake those out (fighters for melee, bards for social, the "intellectual" caster classes for scholarship, etc) and then design within them. The mundane sage would then be no better than the wizard in effectiveness, but might perhaps have meta-abilities (whether along the lazy warlord buffing line, or something else) to substitute for a lack of spells. I'd do the duelist the same way, I think - their fighting is the same as the fighter, but they get other abilities to compensate for no armour - perhaps a tumble to add active rather than passive defence, and maybe more hit points to give them a meta-defensive resource that the fighter lacks. (Though this would interact oddly with non-melee dimensions of hit point loss - maybe a bonus to parrying dice could be a viable alternative.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sadras View Post
    Out of interest sake would you do away with the 6 ability scores, hitpoints and the other classical D&D cows for a better game?

    <snip>

    Just being curious here to see how far people are willing to let go of the classic system for the sake of a good game or is it that people are looking for the best game possible within the traditionally accepted 'D&D parameters'.
    Good question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    If it would produce a better game, sure.

    <snip>

    hit points are one of the few classic aspects of D&D that really seem to have some unique value.

    <snip>

    So, while I'm all for slaughtering the sacred cows to make the game better, don't think that /just/ slaughtering sacred cows makes the game better. They have to actually put forth the disciplined design effort for that.
    Good answer. Though I'm probably more nostalgic for the 6 ability scores than you are.

    For me, D&D is gonzo fantasy. You start with goblins and finish with Orcus. On the way through you fight hordes of humanoids, many demons and ghosts and other supernatural creatures, dragons, purple worms, etc. The fights what were defining of legendary heroes (say, Hercules, Beowulf or Bard vs their respective dragons) are just one among many for you! Yet, perhaps, no less significant for that (because of the time dilation produced by the passage of real time between roleplaying sessions, which is absent in a book or film). And the wizards who are mere plot devices or mentors in classic fantasy (Merlin, Gandalf etc) become meaninful protagonists - meaning high magic! (Supported, at least, even if not present in every game.)

    Hit points are part of that. So are combat resolution mechanics that make combat interesting. So are good spell mechanics.

    The other thing that D&D has, in my view, is a bit more "fine-grainedness" in its mechanics than a purely abstract resolution system like HeroWars/Quest (which otherwise can handle gonzo fantasy fine). We care about things like position, and (perhaps) facing, and (perhaps) which hand you have your weapon in, and (perhaps) whether your moved 5' or 15' last round. We tend to track equipment. And so on. So I think D&D is always going to be a bit more on the traditional than the avant-garde side in respect of these mechanical features.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    OK, now I'm starting to see a bard without spells!
    I think this is a lot closer in concept (minus the Bard's main defining trait, of course) than a Wizard. I'd also prefer the trade-off (not just dropping things), but yeah, it's not too much of a shift.
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Assuming the game as a whole is coherently designed, buffing the sage is the same as de-buffing the wizard, because the overall mechanics will be designed to fit the sorts of PC builds the game permits.
    I said to design to 3/3/3. So, I disagree.
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Well, I'm a stickler for the action resolution and scene-framing rules matching the PC builds that the game supports.
    Design to 3/3/3. If part of that is giving spellcasters some cool Lore features, then awesome! I'm willing to bet there's always room to go up from there, though, if people go for an opt-out. And I definitely have no problem with the caveat "this may break the game, and here's why" as a disclaimer (such as Time Travel in Mutants and Masterminds 2e).

    I'm just still not getting the objection. I mean, I think I get what you're saying; it's just not resonating with me, personally. As always, play what you like
    As always, play what you like

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    If they're prepared for those options to just hang there, not fitting into the design of the action resolution and scene-framing mechanics, than I'm agreed (though, as you say, some warnings would be good!). That is the Rolemaster Companion approach to design. But it's a bit lazy, isn't it? Imagine an optional duelist class who gets a better to-hit bonus than the fighter, but can't wear armour. Is that opening up modular design space? Or just building a class that is broken relative to the core mechanical framework of the game? My intuition is that it is the latter, and I have somewhat the same feeling about the mundane sage.

    My personal preference is for a tighter approach to design, where they have a clear sense of the parameters for viable PC abilities, clearly stake those out (fighters for melee, bards for social, the "intellectual" caster classes for scholarship, etc) and then design within them. The mundane sage would then be no better than the wizard in effectiveness, but might perhaps have meta-abilities (whether along the lazy warlord buffing line, or something else) to substitute for a lack of spells. I'd do the duelist the same way, I think - their fighting is the same as the fighter, but they get other abilities to compensate for no armour - perhaps a tumble to add active rather than passive defence, and maybe more hit points to give them a meta-defensive resource that the fighter lacks. (Though this would interact oddly with non-melee dimensions of hit point loss - maybe a bonus to parrying dice could be a viable alternative.)
    Its either:

    1 - A bit lazy

    or

    2 - An extraordinarily (overzealous?) lofty goal.


    Much to my dismay, at this point, I'm leaning toward "a bit lazy." I too like coherent, tightly focused games with resolution mechanics that support a few clearly specified playstyles. I have yet to see much from 5e that inclines me toward playing it (or possibly even purchasing it...which would be the first D&D ruleset that I've passed on). From what I've seen so far, I think they are trying to please so many disparate demographics and playstyles that they really have no sense of themselves or their goals (except the ambiguous "big tent"...which does nothing to tell people what kind of game you're aiming at) from top to bottom. I look at the Cloak of Elvenkind and then the Boots of Elvenkind - one is a very specific item that has clearly delineated mechanical potency...and the other is just fluff that does...what mechanically exactly? I don't know if two different people with two totally different agendas designed these or if one person who has no cohesive vision for the ruleset they're trying to produce did it. I fear that this sort of inconsistency/incoherency is not going to be anomalous in this edition...but rather it will be rife with it.

    Outside of that, I have heard much about pillars but have seen no legitimate resolution mechanics to frame scenes/encounters premised upon these challenges. I'm rather "turned off" at this point. I just have too much exposure to the utter dysfunction inherent to large bureaucracies (government and corporations) - Right hand being unacquainted with left hand...salary justifiers galore...an absurdly narrow band of legitimate producers, team-players and innovators, etc. Nonetheless, I suppose I still "hope" they know what they're doing and that it turns out to be 2 and they are able to pull it off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    For me, 4e has several features that means it doesn't need much drifting to support vanilla narrativism - ie play focused on theme, with the players having genuine freedom over action resolution so that the story that emerges is not predetermined by anyone, but an emergent consequence of my scene framing around their PCs, and their engagement via their PCs with the conflicts I set up: (i) plenty of thematically rich story elements; (ii) almost no mundane process elements to action resolution; (iii) action resolution mechanics that support the right sort of pacing for those thematic elements to emerge; (iv) action resolution mechanics that generally don't break, and that minimise the need for GM force to make things resolve; (v) PC build mechanics that generally don't break, thereby allowing the players to push hard without having to worry about a breaking of the game.

    My drifting has been pretty minimal. At the start of the game, I directed that each players' PC must (i) have a reason to be ready to fight goblins, and (ii) must have some loyalty to someone/something else. These aren't quite at the level of Sorcerer "kickers", or Burning Wheel beliefs, but were the PC-authored "hooks" on which I have hung various encounters and scenarios. Of course, as the game unfolds these backgrounds get developed, added to and extended in play. I use paragon paths and other PC build choices to inform this, which is probably a type of mild drifting. And I also use thematic considerations to inform page 42 adjudications (as per my examples posted upthread in response to Hussar), and that's probably also a mild drifting. But these drifting don't require correcting any incoherence. They are additions rather than alterations to the game as presented.

    <snip>

    Narrativism isn't defined by any particular set of funky techniques. It's about (i) putting theme front and centre in play, and (ii) letting the players make genuine choices about how they engage it, and hence about what the overall play of the game says in response to it. I think any version of D&D can probably be drifted this way, and 4e is particularly suitable because it lacks many of the traditional D&D mechanics that get in the way of narrativist drifting.
    This is really a great post and I'm in agreement with it from top to bottom. This bit here mirrors my experience with 4e and my understanding of Narrativist agenda and preferences.

    Our approach to gaming at this point is simple (and 4e caters to it extraordinarily well):

    -My players build archetypes that they enjoy to play. 4e allows extraordinarily deep, textured archetype creation with backgrounds, themes, a large payload of highly functional class features and wonderfully thematic powers that map to archetype. Paragon classing continues this. Further, if you tug on the multi-class rules a little bit (allow for free power selection from your multi-class after you've multi-classed), you can go further (with zero mechanical imbalance to be honest).

    - These broad, round characters are expected to express themselves through all manner of non-combat fictional scenarios. The Skill Challenge mechanical resolution system and the Condition Track system are both enormously empowering to this end. I can frame (and then we can play out) all manner of diverse, genre-relevant challenges and adversity that play out in-line with the thematic undercurrent inherent to these archetypes. What is so wonderful about them is that our playstyle and thematic aims emerge from our interfacing with these resolution systems rather than through DM-force or implicit (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more), speakeasy, co-conspiring between my players and myself to achieve this. Its liberating to push the system in the direction we want to go and the system doesn't just sit there and say "yeah, uhhhh...whatever"...it actively supports us. Outcome-based mechanics are key here as you aim toward a theme/genre preference and you maintain that theme/genre preference pass or fail.

    - Obviously this is D&D so these archetypes need to have thematically- inclined tactical and strategic resources. There is a reason that 4e gets labelled "just a tactical skirmish game". That is not because it fails in other arenas, it is because it excels so dramatically at this end of the game (and unfortunately a lot of folks peddling that meme either haven't played the game or haven't played it with vigor or with a good GM/group that knows how to leverage the systems mechanics to play to theme). We have a small group (3 players) and we are all extremely efficient in our handling of turns so our combats (with 10 enemies) can literally be performed in 20 minutes (5 rounds on average with a minute per turn for each of us). We're all very good multi-taskers so intra-round tracking doesn't cause us to blink. Epic, boss fights or mass combat skirmishes will go about 40 minutes. And speaking of both of those, no combat system I've played performs as well as 4e in those two arenas (climactic boss fights and mass combats by way of swarm rules). Beyond that, it is so amazingly easy to make dynamic, mobile, exciting combats and they almost never fail to live up to expectations.

    So then, the score:

    My players have the ability ability to create diverse, broadly proficient archetypes and these archetypes actually have firm, potent mechanical backing (both combat and non-combat). In terms of resolution systems, I am empowered in framing genre/archetype-relevant scenes/scenarios/challenges (both combat and non-combat) and I have mechanical backing to this end that actually supports my efforts. I can actually test my PCs with consistently genre-relevant tests that move/change the fiction as outcome-based consequences/complications emerge from their passing/failing of the trials. Further, within the scope of those scenarios, my players have unprecedented capacity (specifically martial and specifically within D&D) to enter author and director stance and mold the micro-fiction toward our pre-selected coherent genre/theme from which the macro-fiction emerges.

    So then, agenda:

    - Establish a genre and accompanying themes/tropes that we are going to explore.
    - Create genre-relevant PC archetypes whose thematic components are challenged.
    - Compose loose story and frame strong scenes/challenges that are theme and archetype relevant.
    - DM is empowered with firm, outcome-based mechanical backing so that I don't have to hold back or manipulate/force things toward maintaining theme/genre preference.
    - Players are empowered with author and director stance mechanics to dictate/impose upon the fiction.
    - Fiction emerges that is thematic and archetype relevant.

    I'm not sure how that is not Narrativist and I'm not sure how 4e's system doesn't yield support for that agenda.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    4e allows extraordinarily deep, textured archetype creation with backgrounds, themes, a large payload of highly functional class features and wonderfully thematic powers that map to archetype. Paragon classing continues this.
    We don't use backgrounds and themes (they post-dated our startup, and we haven't retrofitted them in) but I'm a huge fan of paragon paths. And am looking forward to epic destinies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    our playstyle and thematic aims emerge from our interfacing with these resolution systems rather than through DM-force or implicit (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more), speakeasy, co-conspiring between my players and myself to achieve this.
    This is central to me, because it means that the players can play hard, and the GM push back, rather than everyone having to conspire and jointly create the narrative in a literal sense of deliberate co-authorship.

    An example is the burning of the Ritual Candle to permit the shifting of the Arcane Gate that I mentioned above. I have a DC chart to turn to. I make the player role a check. If it succeeds, he gets what he wants. If it fails, I can move the end of the gate somewhere I want and it won't break the game or make the scene come to an end or fall flat. That very flexible yet robust and resilient action resolution system is really key.

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    Its liberating to push the system in the direction we want to go and the system doesn't just sit there and say "yeah, uhhhh...whatever"...it actively supports us.

    <snip>

    I am empowered in framing genre/archetype-relevant scenes/scenarios/challenges (both combat and non-combat) and I have mechanical backing to this end that actually supports my efforts. I can actually test my PCs with consistently genre-relevant tests that move/change the fiction as outcome-based consequences/complications emerge from their passing/failing of the trials.
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    We have a small group (3 players) and we are all extremely efficient in our handling of turns so our combats (with 10 enemies) can literally be performed in 20 minutes (5 rounds on average with a minute per turn for each of us). We're all very good multi-taskers so intra-round tracking doesn't cause us to blink. Epic, boss fights or mass combat skirmishes will go about 40 minutes.
    I have five players, only two of whom are very efficient (the two strikers), and we typically have 2 to 6 young kids present at any given session (also known as "D&D creche"), and I tend to prefer multi-opponent, over-levelled combats, so our combats are often a lot longer than that. But the combination of the pacing and dynamism inherent to the mechanics, plus the way that synergises with the story elements, means that long combats are (for me and my players, at least) not a problem. Meaningful stuff is happening every round. (I'll redirect here to my post on the 4e board setting out the current underdark adventure as a coherent whole.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearcat View Post
    I'm not sure how that is not Narrativist and I'm not sure how 4e's system doesn't yield support for that agenda.
    That's my take too. I don't really understand why it seems so contentious.
    Last edited by pemerton; Friday, 12th October, 2012 at 03:34 AM.

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    @pemerton

    I'll give it a look. I'm sure it will be insightful. I'm sure there are more posts over there that are insightful. I should probably visit that forum more and that will give me an excuse to do so. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    That's my take too. I don't really understand why it seems so contentious.
    Personally, they didn't sell it as doing so as well as you guys do. And so I'm guessing a lot of people who were put off by the changes to the traditional D&Dishness, and thought a lot of the design looked like it was trying to pander to the video-game set, never gave it enough of a chance when their house-ruled 3.5 still made them happy.

    You guys' posts in its defense (on some threads I've been reading over the past month) got me to keep the three 4e PHBs when I brought some other no-longer-used books to trade-in last week, just in case one of the better DMs around wants to run it with a group of players who can keep the combat flowing and get into the roleplaying side of the skill challenges. I did bring back the DMG and MM... I just can't see myself running it (I love that the NPCs/Monsters have a totally different system than the PCs, but a bunch of the flavor and a few other things clash too hard with my world building sensibilities and the ideas that I've been mulling over in the background for ages. And I kind of like the OGL for a variety of reasons.)
    Last edited by Cadence; Friday, 12th October, 2012 at 04:15 AM.

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    @Cadence

    That's good to hear that you're considering giving it another shot. If you take the agenda I outlined above and use the Skill Challenge mechanics as a non-combat resolution tool to frame closed scenes that play-to-archetype/genre, I think you might be pleased with the results.

    When composing those Skill Challenges to resolve non-combat genre tropes consider this approach:

    - Your Skill Challenge should be attempting to resolve something that "matters" to your campaign. It should be attempting to capture the spirit of the fiction embedded in a genre trope that you and your group appreciate (literary, theatre, cinema, comic books, etc).

    - When devising your Skill Challenge, what is absolutely paramount is that you have a strong list of "genre-logic-derived" fictional outcomes (complications/adversity) that arise from both passes and failures. These outcomes need to lead to new and interesting decision-points (with multiple ways to attack the current adversity/complication and multiple possible complications then arising from those decisions) for the PCs. They should urge them to engage with the fiction on the fiction's terms, using thematic logic embedded in their chosen archetype, and not just "use x skill."

    - Your passes and failures should map as much as possible to the Skill used to interface with the fiction but do not treat it as linear, coupled cause and effect, process simulation. You're looking for outcomes that are genre-relevant...outcomes that aspire to those great tropes you're capturing. Find ways to work backward from those outcomes and capture the Skill and the check in the resolution toward that outcome.

    - Whenever possible (which should be most of the time), use "fail-forward" techniques. The PCs don't need to look like buffoons when they fail. Further, a "fail-forward" approach broadens the scope of outcomes rather than narrows them. You don't just fail a check and automatically look like a buffoon. You fail and something interesting, fictionally dynamic that is external to your locus of control (but perhaps loosely related to the Skill leveraged) interposes itself between you and your goal.

    - Encourage your players to narrate results (mostly successes) now and again (but not the ultimate resolution results). If a player's technique becomes clearly advanced and they have a deep creative reservoir (thus earning your trust), give them more rope. Let them narrate failures.

    - Finally, as important as anything, this requires good communication and understanding of these aims by players and DM and practice, practice, practice. It is not a bad idea to compose Skill Challenges together and practice them so you are used to the techniques required that allows this resolution mechanic to work with you to create genre-relevant, emergent fiction. If everyone understands the hard-coded mechanics, the implicit inner workings and aims...and then practices their technique...chemistry will manifest and you guys will consistently be pleased with your results.

    Beyond that, there is all kinds of good advice on these boards about how to leverage different 4e systems (condition track, swarm rules) to achieve all manner of D&D conventions (exploration attrition, mass combat).

    Best of luck to you. I hope you find a fitting group.

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