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


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  1. #41
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  • #42
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    Responding to the original poster: while I agree with the basic point made, specifically how, if something is presented as a viable and fun to play option, it should actually be viable and fun to play...I think the comparison to Vow of Poverty is misaimed.

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think the point Reynolds was trying to make was that, taking Vow of Poverty was akin to playing a game on "hard mode". If someone chooses to, in real life, take a vow of poverty, they are choosing, for whatever reason, to place a burden on themselves that others aren't party to. If Vows of Poverty actually got you lots of sweet benefits, then it wouldn't really be any kind of sacrifice, would it?

    So Vow of Poverty, to simulate that, needs to provide at least enough benefit to make a character minimally playable, (since the game assumes a certain amount of player wealth in the basic math) while still increasing the challenge level of the game enough to make the playing of it a genuine burden. In other words...hard mode.

    Where Reynolds went wrong is trying to justify mechanical failures like "Death or Glory" with the same broad brush. There's nothing wrong with the concept behind "Death or Glory" but a player who takes it is not trying to play "hard mode", he instead is looking for something like high stakes poker; big risk for big reward, and "Death or Glory" doesn't provide any kind of big reward, merely the risk.

    I think it's okay for some options to not be as powerful as others. All else being equal, daggers shouldn't be the equal of a sword, and an equally trained swordsman should beat someone of equal skill who is unarmed (I know this one is going to get arguments, but let's agree to disagree). A person who chooses to make use of an inefficient choice should be rewarded for it with a more challenging game. What is important is for the game to be very clear and upfront that those options are indeed challenges and not paths to player power.

  • #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiiLurker View Post
    In 4e there are only two non-action character concepts that are viable (the pacifist cleric and the lazy warlord) and they still revolve around combat and border on cookie cutter levels, because there aren't enough choices.
    My 8 year old kid protected by his guardian angel (Shaman + Spirit Companion) would disagree. As would my jester who knows how to scream for help (Bard). My illusionist would raise one eyebrow at that.

    Whereas compare 3.5. No wizard, cleric, or druid has ever been a non-combat character. They've merely been a character who has chosen not to prepare combat spells today - and to call them a non combat character is like calling a professional sniper a non-combatant because his sniper rifle is at home (or has been pawned). The rogue is a roving ball of sneak attack. For genuine 3e non-combat builds I can get as far as certain beguiler, sorceror, and favoured soul builds. Possibly also certain bard builds.

  • #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salamandyr View Post
    Where Reynolds went wrong is trying to justify mechanical failures like "Death or Glory" with the same broad brush. There's nothing wrong with the concept behind "Death or Glory" but a player who takes it is not trying to play "hard mode", he instead is looking for something like high stakes poker; big risk for big reward, and "Death or Glory" doesn't provide any kind of big reward, merely the risk.
    Death or Glory - because +4 to hit and +12 to damage at the cost of two feats is worth your iterative attacks and giving a big enemy a free attack. Right. Who thought that one up? Especially as Ultimate Combat was published two years after Bravura Warlords started Brash Assaulting and Provoking Overextensions - which is how you do that sort of move properly with those sort of assumptions. Adding insult to injury, you can't launch a Death or Glory charge or even move to get into position - you have to be facing the enemy and already next to them when you decide to do it.

    I think it's okay for some options to not be as powerful as others. All else being equal, daggers shouldn't be the equal of a sword,
    Me too - as long as the game is open about this assumption. If options are worse or are situational then they need to be clearly marked. I wouldn't care about 3.X Toughness if the same feat had been called "Marginally Less Wimpy". It would still be a terrible feat but it wouldn't deceive anyone. If I see a feat called Toughness I expect it to be good for tanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by slobster View Post
    But I'm playing my fighter as a more-chivalrous-than-intelligent knight, so instead I challenge the orc chieftan loudly to a one-on-one duel and then charge through a wall of orcs to meet him in honorable combat. Or I'm playing a scoundrel and opportunistic jerk, and I slink to one side of the combat and begin looting the fallen.
    In Option 1 with a character who challenged people routinely, I'd expect some sort of mechanical support if I wanted the character to be viable and to not doom himself and the party. In 4e if I knew I was the sort of character who charged and challenged, I'd take powers accordingly. And be weakned a whole lot less (and weaken the party a whole lot less) because I have mechanics that fit my character. In FATE it would again work - tagging aspects and spending fate points. In something with less fluff not so much.

  • #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    In Option 1 with a character who challenged people routinely, I'd expect some sort of mechanical support if I wanted the character to be viable and to not doom himself and the party. In 4e if I knew I was the sort of character who charged and challenged, I'd take powers accordingly. And be weakned a whole lot less (and weaken the party a whole lot less) because I have mechanics that fit my character. In FATE it would again work - tagging aspects and spending fate points. In something with less fluff not so much.
    That passage you quoted was in response to someone who wanted to be able to deliberately take underpowered options. I was pointing out that underpowered options are available during play, and don't need to be hidden in character creation as traps for the unwary.

    In general I agree with you, and the OP. But if someone wants to play something suboptimally, they always have the choice, even if that choice happens during play instead of during character creation (though you'll always be able to make less optimal choices in creation as well).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Death or Glory - because +4 to hit and +12 to damage at the cost of two feats is worth your iterative attacks and giving a big enemy a free attack. Right. Who thought that one up? Especially as Ultimate Combat was published two years after Bravura Warlords started Brash Assaulting and Provoking Overextensions - which is how you do that sort of move properly with those sort of assumptions. Adding insult to injury, you can't launch a Death or Glory charge or even move to get into position - you have to be facing the enemy and already next to them when you decide to do it.



    Me too - as long as the game is open about this assumption. If options are worse or are situational then they need to be clearly marked. I wouldn't care about 3.X Toughness if the same feat had been called "Marginally Less Wimpy". It would still be a terrible feat but it wouldn't deceive anyone. If I see a feat called Toughness I expect it to be good for tanks.
    I'm glad we agree.

  • #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Choice View Post
    Actually, I'll argue it's more organic than the nine levels of spells (10 if you consider cantrips a spell level) that we got in 3.X (9 and 7 back in previous editions). We're just used to say "oh yeah, meteor swarm, totally a 9th level spell". To everybody outside the hobby, that makes zero sense. Seriously, I'm a level 10 wizard, why can't I cast level 10 spells? It's a crap tradition, pointless obfuscation meant to keep the "riff raff" out of RPGs, and, originally, just an awkward piece of oddly designed game mechanic that no designer dared to touch for fear of impotent nerd rage or because of laziness.

    I'll admit, the solution isn't perfect, but it accomplishes two things: 1) it makes spells that really shouldn't be of the same power level, different power levels (anybody saying Nystul's magic aura and Sleep need to be the same level; and 2) it gets rid of an old, tired trope that's a barrier to entry for new players.



    On the contrary, siloing allows more character concepts to be played efficiently at all levels of play. You might be opposed to that, but I believe that it's a strength of a game when making a choice doesn't take away from my characters effectiveness.



    Just because the rules mostly cover combat (like EVERY edition of D&D ever), doesn't mean you can't create a non-combat focused character with personality, quirks and fun little bits of odd roleplaying, it just means that, once a fight does break out, you won't be cowering in the corner waiting for the big loud noises and explosions to stop (you totally could though, if that's the personality you're shooting for). 4E's system simply leaves the RP component of the game in the hands of DMs and players and doesn't hand out mechanical aids to play a bartender or a cobbler; you want to be a shoemaker, there you go, you've been making shoes for a while, no need to dump skill points in craft or whatever, go out and talk how the duchess is a horrible monster who refuses to pay when you fix her high heels!

    I've seen a lot of people arguing that, according to 4th Edition's rules, they can't make a crippled (from a gameplay perspective) character, a character with flaws that make him thoroughly useless in fights and claim that's a failure of the system. I've even seen an actual designer of an actual game that is currently in print say that the fact you can't make a combat/adventure-effective and, at the same time, mundane skill competent character is a good feature of the 3.X ruleset. In 19 years of gaming with diverse players from various horizons, I have never met a single solitary one who rolled a character incapable of performing simple tasks in a dungeon adventure (outside of bad dice rolls and deliberate DM/GM trolling). The only times I've seen it claimed was by players of spellcasters ("look, I didn't take magic missile! He's not a combat character!") who still dominated fights whenever they chose to do something.

    In short, 4E does exactly what every other edition of D&D ever did; it just doesn't pat you on the back with condescention/punish you with an unplayable character when you make a less than optimal choice. I mean, there were NO skills, at all, back in 1st Edition (no feats or other bits of mechanical support for doing anything outside of combat, aside from a few spells), how did people make characters with personalities outside of combat?

    The problem isn't that you cannot rp and do things outside of combat in 4E. You can rp in any game; I can rp during a game of Clue or Monopoly if I really want to. For me, the issue is that 4E does not reward my efforts in non-combat things in a way which is meaningful or satisfying to me.

    Sure, I can buy land or build a castle or become a lord; there's nothing in the game saying I can't. However, the suggested reward is maybe a circumstantial +2 on diplomacy and a few stats to treat my castle as a magic item. (I'm not suggesting there are not dms who do otherwise.)

    The problem becomes (and this is a 3rd Edition problem as well) that the system expects too much about what level means. I have to have certain items; certain numbers, and etc as they relate to combat encounters. If I spend money on endeavors which do not boost my ability in that area of play, I am behind the curve. If my non-combat endeavors give me money and items I should not have, I am ahead of the curve.

    The solution I've most often seen suggested for that is for the DM to secretly put extra treasure into parcels to make up for revenue lost in non-combat endeavors or to hand out less to make up for the players having too much. To me -as a player- that makes me feel as though my pursuit of those other things was meaningless and pointless. If my actions need to have outcomes which are bound my the metagame assumptions of the system, that's not very satisfying to me.

    I've recently started playing 1st Edition for the first time, and what I see is that there seems to be less assumption about what I should be able to do at a given level. Yes, my character does get stronger, and you do need better items for stronger foes. However, it's not nearly (at least it doesn't seem to be so far) as gamebreaking if I get a little extra money from non-combat activities because the game doesn't assume I will have a +X sword at level Y. While, yes, magic items are still important, I do not see the Magic Item Christmas Tree style of character in conjunction with the heavy metagame assumptions of what a character should have in the same way I see it in 3rd and 4th Edition. It's ok for the DM and the gameworld to offer me risk and reward outside of combat because it doesn't break the game assumptions for me to fail or succeed at tasks which are not assumed to be the primary method for advancement.

    I completely agree that you can roleplay in 4th Edition. I've done it, so I know it is possible. You can also engage in non-combat activities. I simply do not feel that the ideals about gameplay and assumptions the game is built upon allow for the system to reward me in the manner I'd like to be rewarded for those things. A lot of times I feel that I need to make a choice between what I'd really like to do and what the game says I should do, and I don't like that. I've come to accept it as being simply part of how modern D&D works, but it's not my preference, and I can certainly understand why there are others who feel as though support for non-combat activities are somewhat lacking. Still, maybe that is just part of the D&D style; maybe wanting other things naturally leads to games and systems which are more geared toward making those other aspects of play feel more rewarding.

  • #48
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    I'm of the opinion that what the OP says sounds great in theory, but is impossible in practice.

    Until someone can objectively quantify "good enough to take," you'll never be able to create a system that meets this particular high-water mark in the eyes of the majority - let alone the totality - of potential players.

    I think that people tend to underestimate just how much there's a complete lack of consensus on even some of the broadest ideas about what's desirable and undesirable in an RPG, which is mind-boggling considering the enduring edition wars we've had. Statements like "I believe all options should be viable with all other options" earns universal applause until you start trying to say how you're going to do it, at which point nobody can agree.

    At some point there needs to be an acceptance of the fact that - regardless of how much you playtest the material, tweak the math, issue errata, and otherwise modify the system - there's a fairly large degree to which it just comes down to the personal preferences of a given person, and the style in which they play the game.

    And those are two things which no set of rules will ever be able to cover.
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  • #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny3D3D View Post
    I simply do not feel that the ideals about gameplay and assumptions the game is built upon allow for the system to reward me in the manner I'd like to be rewarded for those things. A lot of times I feel that I need to make a choice between what I'd really like to do and what the game says I should do, and I don't like that. I've come to accept it as being simply part of how modern D&D works, but it's not my preference, and I can certainly understand why there are others who feel as though support for non-combat activities are somewhat lacking. Still, maybe that is just part of the D&D style; maybe wanting other things naturally leads to games and systems which are more geared toward making those other aspects of play feel more rewarding.
    This started mostly in CRPGs, became standard for D&D in 3e, and continues into 4e. And the problem is this: Money is not money and generally isn't used for the things you might ordinarly use money for. Money is a secondary XP track.

    Money's primary (some would argue only) purpose in default 3e and default 4e is to buy non-class-related power-ups in the form of magic items. And yes, I agree that this is a huge problem. It's an even bigger problem when the tools to create magic items are put into the PCs' hands to the extent they are in both editions. (See: CLW Wands in 3.x) In 3.x, this money-as-XP was somewhat camouflaged but obvious once you looked into how the system really worked. In 4e, WotC gave up the illusion, which leaves us with the completely jacked-up default 4e economy. 4e backpedalled from this a bit with its "Item Rarity" rules. Those help. A lot. But IMO it's still not enough.

    I don't think this is mainly an RPing issue, but I do agree it's an issue. In my own 4e Dark Sun game, switching over to Inherent Bonuses and completely gutting the magic item economy has allowed me rather unprecedented freedom in doling out treasure. It's also made magic items more fun again, since they're not basic commodities. I'm as free to assign treasure and the like as I have been since 2e, and I'm never going back. (Which is one of many reasons I can't stand Next's "buy your way to a better AC" garbage.)

    -O

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    The only non-combat D&D character that exists is the apostle of peace, and that class exists purely to troll other players.

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