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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny3D3D View Post
    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.
    Well... maybe, a little. 3e made the cost of items explode as levels increased, so /buying/ a wildly-overpowered item should have been difficult and blowing most of your money on some grand RP gesture (re-building your ravaged ancestral holdings, lifting a population out of poverty, etc) would likely leave you with enough spare change to not be too far behind the curve. It didn't work out that well: some very cheap items turned out to be disruptive, and half-price magic item creation along with wealth-generation tricks could blow the doors off it, but it was a reasonable attempt in structure and theory.
    4e cranked the cost increases/level up to 11, to the point that it needed absurdly valuable 'astral diamonds' as epic-level currency, but between that, lacking any wealth-generation loopholes, and eliminating cost breaks for making items, it did achieve what 3e attempted: you couldn't afford to buy level-inappropriate items, and you could afford to fit yourself out with one-step-down items out of 'petty cash' if you came up short. The 'treasure parcel' system also gave you most of your wealth in actual items - the cash you got (and 20% proceeds of selling items, especially behind-the-curve cast-offs) couldn't amount to enough to buy too-powerful, or even level-appropriate items, so you were free to spend it as you liked, treating it as another customization issue, not a core balance factor.

    While I don't like the way 3e and 4e 'commoditized' magic items, I acknowledge that it did ultimately work as intended, and that it was hardly bad for the game. I'd have preferred that magic items perhaps have an entirely separate economy, so that you could have 'poor' or 'rich' PCs in the game without altering balance at all.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 09:07 AM.

 

  • #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alzrius View Post
    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.
    A good start is "not strictly inferior." Strict inferiority is quantifiable: if one choice does /everything/ another choice does, just as well as it does it, and does more or better, besides, it's strictly superior, and the strictly inferior choice is not 'good enough to take.' That's only a start, mind you, but it's something, and few games completely avoid the odd strictly-inferior element.

  • #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    While I don't like the way 3e and 4e 'commoditized' magic items, I acknowledge that it did ultimately work as intended, and that it was hardly bad for the game. I'd have preferred that magic items perhaps have an entirely separate economy, so that you could have 'poor' or 'rich' PCs in the game without altering balance at all.
    I'm not so sure of that. The commoditization of magic items is probably one of the most transformative influences in the evolution of the game. It led to the Big Six controversy, magic item and WBL entitlement issues, foolish fights over magic item distribution by cash value, and a bunch other nastiness over the last 10 years. While it has also led to some interesting archetypes as well, I'm not sure it has been worth it in the long run.
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  • #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    I'm not so sure of that. The commoditization of magic items is probably one of the most transformative influences in the evolution of the game. It led to the Big Six controversy, magic item and WBL entitlement issues, foolish fights over magic item distribution by cash value, and a bunch other nastiness over the last 10 years. While it has also led to some interesting archetypes as well, I'm not sure it has been worth it in the long run.
    I'm in agreement. I'm happy 4e narrowed the Big 6 down to the Big 3, but frankly, Big 1 is too much for me. (And it's why I'm never running 4e again without inherent bonuses in place.)

    I am especially leery of magic item bonuses within a Bounded Accuracy system. Running 4e right now (which is, mathematically, bounded accuracy on a treadmill) anything that gives you a +1 to your d20 roll to check for success so far outweighs any other option that it's essentially a tax. (I'm overstating a bit, but just a bit. You may have better options than 4e Expertise at 1st level, but odds are you're snagging it by 6th, and anyone who doesn't grab it by 11th when it increases to +2 is nuts.)

    So please, WotC - build all your (non-situational) d20 bonuses into the class/level/attribute structure and keep a tight control on them. Don't parcel them out in feats or in items. Make them a steady progression, and then you can free feats and magic items to be cool again.

    -O

  • #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Well... maybe, a little. 3e made the cost of items explode as levels increased, so /buying/ a wildly-overpowered item should have been difficult and blowing most of your money on some grand RP gesture (re-building your ravaged ancestral holdings, lifting a population out of poverty, etc) would likely leave you with enough spare change to not be too far behind the curve. It didn't work out that well: some very cheap items turned out to be disruptive, and half-price magic item creation along with wealth-generation tricks could blow the doors off it, but it was a reasonable attempt in structure and theory.
    4e cranked the cost increases/level up to 11, to the point that it needed absurdly valuable 'astral diamonds' as epic-level currency, but between that and eliminating cost breaks for making items, it did achieve what 3e attempted: you couldn't afford to buy level-inappropriate items, and you could afford to fit yourself out with one-step-down items out of 'petty cash' if you came up short. The 'treasure parcel' system also gave you most of your wealth in actual items - the cash you got (and 20% proceeds of selling items, especially behind-the-curve cast-offs) couldn't amount to enough to buy too-powerful, or even level-appropriate items, so you were free to spend it as you liked, treating it as another customization issue, not a core balance factor.

    While I don't like the way 3e and 4e 'commoditized' magic items, I acknowledge that it did ultimately work as intended, and that it was hardly bad for the game. I'd have preferred that magic items perhaps have an entirely separate economy, so that you could have 'poor' or 'rich' PCs in the game without altering balance at all.

    The part I highlighted is related to what I was trying to say. Because of how heavily tied to combat the system assumptions about what items I should have are, the other areas of the game are somewhat poor in their ability to offer me meaningful reward. Giving me too much means I can afford items I shouldn't have. Giving me too little means I can't afford items I should have. This leads to the conventional wisdom I've seen in which it is suggested to tweak treasure parcels so as to even out what a PC has if he spends resources in one of the other areas of play... making engaging those other areas of play somewhat of a meaningless illusion. It's a weird sort of economic railroading.

  • #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magil View Post
    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

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  • #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    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.
    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.

    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
    I don't see a concern. If you don't want to make decisions when you level up, that's what specialties/fighting styles (to use the fighter for an example) are for. Just give me the option to do otherwise, and don't say "modify the game by taking out a bunch of levels." They already have the tools to cater to both of us, they just need to make good on my end.

    I don't mind having a complex character by the time I reach level 15, I mean, I feel as though I should feel quite epic and powerful then, and having lots of powers and options adds to that feel.

    For example, take the Fighter. If they re-arranged maneuvers to be received only on levels where you did not obtain a feat, that would get rid of most of the dead levels. 7 levels for feats, 10 for maneuvers, that only leaves 3 dead levels, easily solvable with some other feature I can choose. Heck, I wouldn't mind if they moved style/maneuver choice to level 2, and just started everyone out with deadly strike/parry.

  • #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny3D3D View Post
    The part I highlighted is related to what I was trying to say. Because of how heavily tied to combat the system assumptions about what items I should have are, the other areas of the game are somewhat poor in their ability to offer me meaningful reward. Giving me too much means I can afford items I shouldn't have.
    True, but it would have to be too much by a very large margin, and there weren't the broken 'wealth generators' 3e suffered from.

    Giving me too little means I can't afford items I should have.
    Also a non-issue in 4e, if you're following the guidelines, since the proportion of treasure you can use to make/buy items is pretty small - and because of the inherent bonus option, of course.

    That said, it would have been nice if the DM could have been free or stingy with monetary treasure without magic items overly impacting game balance.

    This leads to the conventional wisdom I've seen in which it is suggested to tweak treasure parcels so as to even out what a PC has if he spends resources in one of the other areas of play...
    Cash just isn't a big enough chunk of treasure parcels to make that big a difference. If you sink your money into some non-adventuring expense, you might be a little light on minor items, but it won't meaningfully impact the game - found items should be quite adequate to keep your character viable.

    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    The commoditization of magic items is probably one of the most transformative influences in the evolution of the game.
    /One/ of, sure - one of five or six perhaps? I've said before that it looks to me like part of a larger trend towards putting more control over character definition and development in the hands of the player. In classic D&D, there was very little character customization, and development was out of the players' hands - it was down to the advancement charts of the class(es) in question and the whims of the treasure-tables or the DM. In 2e you got a few customization options in Kits and non-weapon proficiencies, in 3e you got a lot more in feats, modular multi-classing, PrCs, and (see, I'm getting to it) making/buying magic items. In 4e you had feats, features, powers, themes, backgrounds, PPs, EDs, and wish-list/make/buy for magic items.

    It led to the Big Six controversy, magic item and WBL entitlement issues, foolish fights over magic item distribution by cash value, and a bunch other nastiness over the last 10 years. While it has also led to some interesting archetypes as well, I'm not sure it has been worth it in the long run.
    Meh, if you go by how much people complain, everything since language has been a bad idea.



    Like I said, I don't /like/ the commoditization of magic items that started in 3e, but I can't pretend it didn't (eventually) do what it set out to.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 09:03 AM.

  • #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony V
    That said, it would have been nice if the DM could have been free or stingy with monetary treasure without magic items overly impacting game balance.
    I really don't think this is possible though. Any magic item that has any sort of enhancing effect on the user is going to change game balance. That's always been true. I know my AD&D games tended to implode about 10th level or so because the magic items the group had acquired meant that they were just insanely powerful.

    My reaction was to just strip away almost all magic items but, then that's kinda boring. Magic goodies are cool. A 9th level character whose been toting around a couple of potions and a +1 sword is not all that interesting to me. And the game certainly assumed you'd have a fair bit more magic in the party.

    I think they just REALLY need to steer away from magic that has pluses. Magic armor doesn't make you harder to hit, it lets you fly, or move quietly, or whatever. Heck, it grows berries and feeds you.

    NO MORE PLUSES!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I really don't think this is possible though. Any magic item that has any sort of enhancing effect on the user is going to change game balance. That's always been true. I know my AD&D games tended to implode about 10th level or so because the magic items the group had acquired meant that they were just insanely powerful.

    My reaction was to just strip away almost all magic items but, then that's kinda boring. Magic goodies are cool. A 9th level character whose been toting around a couple of potions and a +1 sword is not all that interesting to me. And the game certainly assumed you'd have a fair bit more magic in the party.

    I think they just REALLY need to steer away from magic that has pluses. Magic armor doesn't make you harder to hit, it lets you fly, or move quietly, or whatever. Heck, it grows berries and feeds you.

    NO MORE PLUSES!
    Heck no. Keep the pluses. They make some magic items easy to administer from a player and DM perspective.

    The truth of the matter as I see it is that any magic item that has a useful effect in adventuring will affect the power of the character. Armor that makes you fly? WAY more powerful than any +1 to +3 armor, guaranteed.

    The issue isn't that magic will enhance the PCs, the issue is understanding how it does so and managing that.
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