D&D 4th Edition More reflections on 4e and 5e. - Page 13


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  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libramarian View Post
    This part of your post is very wrong. The mechanics of the AD&D Sleep spell are totally different from a weapon attack, and I do think this is important to why they feel so different in play. First of all, Sleep doesn't have a saving throw; it has a hit dice limit.
    I'm pretty sure it does have a save vs spell as well. But this is a minor point.

    Secondly, it doesn't do attritive damage. It knocks enemies out, which allows you to easily slay them. It has a very dramatic effect.
    And this is precisely what you need. A difference in the fiction. It feels different because it inherently has a dramatic effect. Not because you're making a different person roll the save. Sleep has a dramatic effect because it puts people to sleep.

    It's both unified mechanics and the reliance on the battledgrid and minis that results in a less vivid imaginary scene. It's because people don't imagine things unless they need to.
    And this is complete rubbish. Plenty of people imagine things they don't need to. I'd argue every single roleplayer does.

    Trying to convince people to imagine/narrate things vividly when it's not necessitated by the mechanics in any way and there's no in-game payoff is just lame, passive-aggressive game design, IMO.
    Hint: So-called theatre of the mind does not help here. You do not need to imagine or narrate vividly to say "Chop. I hit him for 8 damage". You jsut need to know you are close enough to the enemy and there's nothing in the way. Nothing more than that is actually needed in D&D (and Old Geezer says that's precisely what he did at Gygax's table) - to do more is a stylistic choice with no in-game payoff.

    And this throws in that in my experience there are two types of creativity (and don't tell me I'm polarising a continuum). People who create from nothing and then get annoyed when there is something there because it gets in the way of their vision. And people who build and incorporate on what is there and are more than happy to have more things there to build off. Me, I like there to be things there - and find that the battlemat and seeing the relative positioning of everyone to everything helps me build and add detail without getting across everyone else's vision.

 

  • #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    I'm pretty sure it does have a save vs spell as well. But this is a minor point.
    Sleep
    (Enchantment/Charm)
    Range: 30 yds. Components: V, S, M
    Duration: 5 rds./level Casting Time: 1
    Area of Effect: Special Saving Throw: None

    .....

    As for the rest of the debate, I can only speak from my personal preference that as a DM I prefer no grid, it encourages me to describe things in detail which is also inspired by the numerous questions by the PCs. However I imagine as a player, there are times where things have to be reflected on a grid or drawn out on a piece of paper for clarity purposes.
    I have plenty of times had the instance where a player has misunderstood the setting or missed something I said, even though the remaining players will all confirm I mentioned 'it.' In those instances, a grid or something drawn would have definitely helped.

    'Theatre of the Mind' at least to me encourages player participation and concenration which I would imagine increases ones immersion (and therefore active imagination) during roleplaying.
    Last edited by Sadras; Friday, 5th October, 2012 at 01:35 PM.

  • #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    And this throws in that in my experience there are two types of creativity (and don't tell me I'm polarising a continuum). People who create from nothing and then get annoyed when there is something there because it gets in the way of their vision. And people who build and incorporate on what is there and are more than happy to have more things there to build off. Me, I like there to be things there - and find that the battlemat and seeing the relative positioning of everyone to everything helps me build and add detail without getting across everyone else's vision.
    This is precisely true and an enormous gap that Mearls et al are trying to bridge.

    There are artists.

    There are engineers.

    They both create and they both enjoy the process of creation, the medium by which they create, and their finished product.

    However, the way they organize information and express themselves, their methodology, their mediums, and their talents (and thus their respective tastes, yearnings and expectactions) often have very little overlap. Sometimes you will have folks who possess both "schemes" within their IRL build. However, they are anomalies amongst the general populace.

  • #124
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think there is an option that you're not canvassing (but I may have misunderstood you or not read closely enough).

    Namely, there can be unpredictability with clear and simple rules provided that the players are able to push the fiction in unexpected directions. I particularly want to insist that this doesn't require that the fiction be able to override the mechanics. It just requires that the players be able to use the mechanics to drive the fiction (ie no GM fudging "in the interest of the story" to block the players from doing this).
    My post was a bit half-formed, but yes and no.

    I think it depends on two things:

    1) How often you re-frame based on narrative input. If you consider re-framing during resolution, based on unexpected twists brought in by players or DM inspiration, then this breaks away from any possible a priori analysis and complicates the game so that it is not mechanically simply gambling on dice throws.

    2) How much a resolution can draw down or entangle with resources used in other sub-parts of the game. IMO this needs to be a *choice* inherent in the resolution (e.g. spend a Healing Surge to negate a failure), not a fixed result in the resolution mechanics (you fail = lose a healing surge), to make the game mechanically interesting.

    In 4E, I see skill challenges as a bit of a let down as a stand-alone game because of this. The mechanics are very bare-bones, and little more than basic number-crunching gambling. It is saved as being entertaining and worthwhile if you heavily involve the fiction, or if choices taken (e.g. using athletics to avoid a sentry versus bluff to talk your way in) result in highly unpredictable later choices and effects (using athletics means you are now in a stealth game until you can get away from the guards, using bluff means you are now in a social game - if you allowed either immediately then the earlier choice is too isolated and just becomes % chance of success).

    The written guidelines in e.g. the rules compendium really don't address this. They present skill challenges as essentially x% chance of success - with some dice rolls in the middle. All the complications in the middle, the choice of which skill to use, counting success/failure, allowing various "advantages" to negate a fail or be a double success etc, actually have very little mechanical effect other than adjusting x a bit up or down.

    In short, there's a big risk that there is nothing taking the role of the battle board in a skill challenge. A skill challenge typically explores a huge abstract story space, and relies on the DM and players to get a feel for that, either making entertainment out of narrating things for the fun of it (ignoring the fact it is mechanically weak), or leaning heavily on advanced DM-ing and playing to make it mechanically interesting (but probably highly experimental and unbalanced)

  • #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobo777 View Post
    In short, there's a big risk that there is nothing taking the role of the battle board in a skill challenge. A skill challenge typically explores a huge abstract story space, and relies on the DM and players to get a feel for that, either making entertainment out of narrating things for the fun of it (ignoring the fact it is mechanically weak), or leaning heavily on advanced DM-ing and playing to make it mechanically interesting (but probably highly experimental and unbalanced)
    I have run a few more complex skill challenges where I produced an abstract "gameboard" to give a visual representation of the party's progress in the challenge and the consequences of individual tasks. I'm visually oriented in my thinking and find such aids very useful in giving better insight into the process. As a player I have seen another DM use a similar idea, though I can't remember who came up with the original idea.

    It's more work to do this but can help greatly with the visualisation of large abstract challenges and better connect player actions to the fiction.

  • #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobo777 View Post
    How much a resolution can draw down or entangle with resources used in other sub-parts of the game. IMO this needs to be a *choice* inherent in the resolution (e.g. spend a Healing Surge to negate a failure), not a fixed result in the resolution mechanics (you fail = lose a healing surge), to make the game mechanically interesting.
    Agreed. That's why I feel that the frequent suggestion that martial encounter powers would be OK, if only they were triggered randomly rather than by player choice, misses the point of encounter powers, which is to engage with the game.

    It's also why I prefer Rolemaster melee combat - choose how to allocate your pool to attack and defence - over Runequest melee combat - roll your to hit, then the other guy rolls to parry - even though both are ultra-simulationist engines.

    Quote Originally Posted by slobo777 View Post
    If you consider re-framing during resolution, based on unexpected twists brought in by players or DM inspiration, then this breaks away from any possible a priori analysis and complicates the game so that it is not mechanically simply gambling on dice throws.

    <snip>

    I see skill challenges as a bit of a let down as a stand-alone game because of this. The mechanics are very bare-bones, and little more than basic number-crunching gambling. It is saved as being entertaining and worthwhile if you heavily involve the fiction, or if choices taken (e.g. using athletics to avoid a sentry versus bluff to talk your way in) result in highly unpredictable later choices and effects (using athletics means you are now in a stealth game until you can get away from the guards, using bluff means you are now in a social game - if you allowed either immediately then the earlier choice is too isolated and just becomes % chance of success).

    The written guidelines in e.g. the rules compendium really don't address this. They present skill challenges as essentially x% chance of success
    I'm not sure I agree with you on written guidelines for skill challenges - I think the DMG, at least, hints at reframing based on consequences of the previous check - but that's a bit orthogonal. Your substantive point I agree with - that reframing during resolution is central to injecting interest and unpredictability.

    In D&D combat the most basic way of doing this is by having the GM make interesting choices for the monsters - of course, that in turn depends upon having interesting monsters to use for this purpose!

  • #127
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    [quote=Libramarian;6027094]
    Are you aware that most modern videogames don't require the player to read the manual at all? You just turn it on and you learn how to play as you go. This is what D&D has to compete with. Oddly D&D has been going in the wrong direction in this regard, literally since OD&D.
    I am quite aware of that fact, which is made possible because computers are the hardware doing all the processing of the game mechanics. D&D, on the other hand, requires people to be the hardware that does all the processing of the game mechanics. And until we've got a computer that can really think like a human (and not just pass the Turing test), people will still need to be the hardware that runs D&D.

    I am also aware that these modern games still require you to read things, like your power descriptions (how does a WoW Mage know the different between Scorch, Fire Blast, Fireball, and Pyroblast if they don't read it?) or item statistics (Mass Effect has statistics for all kinds of equipment). Some of them implicitly require out-of-game reading, like raiding strategies, farming guides, and all that jazz. And people do it.

    If you don't read Scorch and Pyroblast in WoW, how will you know the difference between the two? How will you figure out casting rotations without reading the powers and comparing... or going online and reading someone else's guide?

    Again, I reject this "no reading required" nonsense. Most mainstream popular video games still require you to learn things and to remember them in order to be successful, whether it's the in-game mechanics that are visible to the player or out-of-game analysis and guides. Some require front-loaded learning in the form of character creation, giving the player choices to make before they fully understand what those choices mean.
    If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him... and take his stuff.

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  • #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Agreed. That's why I feel that the frequent suggestion that martial encounter powers would be OK, if only they were triggered randomly rather than by player choice, misses the point of encounter powers, which is to engage with the game.
    This is why I bring up the Crusader whenever this sort of discussion is mentioned. The Crusader has random access to power cards rather than the power he uses being selected randomly. So of the first level Crusader's five prepared power cards, he draws two on the first turn then one per turn until he runs out at which point he shuffles them all again and draws two.

    This, incidently, is what I see as the crippling flaw with 13th Age. And why, although I'll gleefully loot it for ideas (and it's crammed with them), I'm unlikely to play a fighter-type.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    This, incidently, is what I see as the crippling flaw with 13th Age. And why, although I'll gleefully loot it for ideas (and it's crammed with them), I'm unlikely to play a fighter-type.
    I haven't followed 13th Age closely enough. What is it's fighter mechanic that you don't like?

  • #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    It's not about figuring it out. It's about caring enough about that specific aspect to have it memorised. The Pokemon comparison would be to someone who's memorised what all their cards do and jut needs to name them.
    If there is a player who is playing the game while simultaneously not caring enough about any of the elements involved with the game, I find that situation somewhat strange.

    "I like the game. I just don't like any of the parts which are involved with playing the game." huh?

    As for memorizing... well, that's kind of what the character sheet is for right? To write down basic information relevant to your interaction with the game world. There's no need to memorize much of anything.

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