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Thread: More reflections on 4e and 5e.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 05:06 PM #81
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
There's really no "mental gymnastics." There are people explaining why they don't like 4e's presentation, and you are telling them they are wrong because of their subjective preferences.
It's like me saying I don't like eggs because they taste bad, and you saying, "Ugh, you're really reaching to justify your dislike of eggs. Everyone knows eggs are great, and not liking them is obviously illogical because I like fried eggs, eggs over easy, scrambled eggs, and egg souffle. Why don't you like eggs? They're delicious. Did I mention that I really like eggs and people who don't like eggs are wrong because this new edition of eggs is really great and better than the older editions of eggs? Also, I don't think we're talking about eggs anymore."
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Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 05:07 PM #82
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Second, it's all about preference. My players don't like Heroquest because in our last game (Nameless Streets) they felt that there was no mechanical difference in anything the different characters did.... it was always narrate whatever you want and roll d20. You might not see the "problem" but again, it's a matter of preference and I think more people prefer mechanically distinct systems for magic and the mundane than want them to be the same or similar.
Honestly, and especially with the last line you posted, I believe that you have no real interest in trying to see where others are coming from (since you've already decided it's mental gymnastics instead of taking it at face value, even with the examples of games provided).
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 06:01 PM #83
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Spirit of the Century... I'll give you this one... but then it's one of those games, like Heroquest that purposefully goes for making EVERYTHING the exact same mechanic. I wonder how popular or mainstream it is? I don't think it would rank in the top 10 games... so I'm not sure how this particular game helps your case.
WFRP3e... No experience with it at all.
WFRP2e and CoC... selective exclusion, got it.
Wushu... really , as an example of what most gamers play...
Feng Shui... Again, a game I'm unfamiliar with... when was this game released? Is it still in print, how popular is it?
WoD... Now here we go, finally something I know something about. In the Second Sight book each spell is basically it's own little set of mini-rules that vary from other spells (rituals). the basis is a dice pool... but magic is affected by the belief of witnesses, modified by magical connection, and limited as well as strengthened or weakened by the tradition the player picks. All of these are mechanics that seperate the mechanics for magic from the mechanics for a mundane skill.
Every edition of D&D up to 4e
Advanced Fighting Fantasy
These are just a few of the games I have that aren't about the fact that magic is different and also don't necessarily force magic to be costly or dangerous to the user.
OAN: What does wizards and casters and their second class cousins have to do with this discussion? You do realize different mechanics do not equate to better or more powwerful? Or is this just a chance to bring your dislike of 3.x into another conversation even though it's not relevant?
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 06:10 PM #84
Magsman (Lvl 14)
My theory, which I'm starting to feel more comfortable with after reading Neonchameleon's post, is that it's not just the commonality of mechanics between casters and non-casters in 4e that make it feel "the same". It's the commonality of mechanics combined with the grid and minis.
I think there's an ontological problem in any RPG that uses a randomizer, best summed up by XKCD's characterization of D&D as using weighted random number generators to build narrative. We talk about "rules" and "mechanics", but in the end we are assigning often arbitrary meaning to die rolls. The essential fun from RPGs is the narrative built. Consider the AD&D sleep spell. Mechanically, it's only difference from a regular to-hit roll is that the DM is rolling it instead of the player. (In some early games, even this is not different, as DMs rolled all dice.) The mechanic didn't create the feel of magic -- the players and DMs created that by describing the narrative. How they imagined it was different.
I believe that for some people -- not all, mind you, but some --, the physical presence of a grid and minis/tokens diminishes the image created in the mind's eye. The map and minis serve as a proxy for the function of imagination; not surprising as this is their essential purpose. The imagination is relied on less to create a picture of the scene, because the map in front of the players provides instant expression of the effect. The sleep spell makes the mini lay on its side, or wear some kind of marker that says "Unconscious".
When physical representation becomes so strong, then physical differences in mechanic resolution become salient. Having the DM roll instead of oneself becomes salient. Rolling a different die becomes salient, or rolling for a low number instead of a high number.
A counter-argument may be that OD&D used minis (distances are even given in inches!), or that GURPS can be played with minis, and yet they don't have the same issues. But I believe the use of minis is different in AD&D than in 3e and 4e. For one, combat is much more abstract. One die roll is not meant to represent one distinct action done in the time of turn allotted. The other is that minis and maps were largely used as an objective reference -- not a subjective presentation. In 3e/4e, the actions of combat are much more granular -- this role represents this action I'm taking. These days, be it Dungeon Tiles or self-made maps printed off of a computer, the action on the table seeks to create the action more and more vividly. Minis are bigger, and tokens have vivid, color art. It's all meant to whet the imagination, and for many (I'm guessing the majority of 4e fans), it does so. But for other players, it takes the place of whatever vivid picture they might have imagined in their head. It can all get pretty homogeneous: move token, tell DM what power being used, roll d20, roll damage dice, move enemy piece if there's forced movement, and have someone attach a marker if there's a condition.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 06:56 PM #85
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
And reliable magic isn't fundamentally different in effect from shooting someone. (Which is one of the core issues with D&D magic that makes it distinct from many worlds - the magic is reliable).
Which means that having different mechanics to do this is cluttered, ugly, and can easily create unfortunate complications that wouldn't happen if we used the same mechanic to do the same thing. If we were doing different things - for instance unreliable ritual magic as opposed to reliable combat magic, there would be a good reason to use different mechanics. But two systems that do the same thing differently is bad game design.
GURPS Voodoo and GURPS Spirits are basically GURPS Ritual Magic. As such they are akin to the 4e ritual casting system rather than 4e combat. Which uses different mechanics to 4e combat. If you need to draw a pentagram and dribble candlewax for five minutes, that isn't like throwing a ray of frost at someone. Or like shooting them with an arrow.Not an expert on GURPS, but... Don't different magic systems behave differently? If not... why are there different books such as GURPS Voodoo or GURPS Spirits?
In short, GURPS Spirits is the GURPS equivalent to the 4e Ritual Magic system. If are trying to claim GURPS Spirits as different then 4e behaves the way you want it to. At which point your entire argument vanishes in a puff of smoke.
See: Dresden Files - licensed version of the same game. For a while the Dresden Files were in the top three sellers (behind only the two versions of D&D).Spirit of the Century... I'll give you this one... but then it's one of those games, like Heroquest that purposefully goes for making EVERYTHING the exact same mechanic. I wonder how popular or mainstream it is? I don't think it would rank in the top 10 games... so I'm not sure how this particular game helps your case.
So yeah, I'd call that one pretty popular. Top 3 seller recently. And there isn't the supplement stream to keep it up there. We don't get Adventure Path Supplement #53, Races of Mystara, or Psionic Power 2 to pump up the number of books. Spirit's still a steady seller even after nine years.
WFRP 2e does something different - different blowback because you're messing around with Warhammer Magic. It's different becasue of the nature of the universe, not just because "it's magic".
1996 IIRC. And no, it's not still in print.Feng Shui... Again, a game I'm unfamiliar with... when was this game released? Is it still in print, how popular is it?
You note what you list as differences. Differences in the fiction. Which I don't think anyone disputes should be resolved differently. The magical connection is an inherent part of the fiction. The dice resolution mechanic is the same. I'm counting this as the same. The magic resolution system is the same. The difference comes from what you are resolving. Which is as it should be.WoD... Now here we go, finally something I know something about. In the Second Sight book each spell is basically it's own little set of mini-rules that vary from other spells (rituals). the basis is a dice pool... but magic is affected by the belief of witnesses, modified by magical connection, and limited as well as strengthened or weakened by the tradition the player picks. All of these are mechanics that seperate the mechanics for magic from the mechanics for a mundane skill.
You want another top 3 game? We've already had one (Spirit of the Century's reskin of Dresden Files). Try Marvel Superheroes.
No. Mechanics being different for purely arbitrary reasons is an unnecessary imbalance. It's a pointless aesthetic flaw in the game that can lead to much more practical flaws.OAN: What does wizards and casters and their second class cousins have to do with this discussion? You do realize different mechanics do not equate to better or more powwerful?
If you want an actually distinct magical system that, for instance has blowback or relies on the nature of reality then those are different because the fiction is different. The case being made is that magic should not be different for the sake of being different.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 07:45 PM #86
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Strange I don't see SotC for sale on amazon except through third parties... Oh, well.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 08:05 PM #87
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
D&D has always done magic differently than martial. No reason to change what works.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 08:41 PM #88
Defender (Lvl 8)
For me, personally, I am loving the egg analogy (for many reasons, the rightness being one of them), a big reason is that I am The Egg Man (every style, just love them), coo-coo-coo-choo (someone wanna be the Walrus?), but they make my brother nauseated just looking at them.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 08:46 PM #89
Magsman (Lvl 14)
IMO, part of the problem was that some of the Essentials books combined the worst of both worlds. They lacked the clarity of 4E's other books while also lacking the style of writing which made it so that I did not mind reading through the 3E text.
Also, I personally found some of the early Essentials layout to be more convoluted than even some of the most poorly written 3rd Edition books. In particular, I didn't find that Essentials did a very good job of letting you know when you were transitioning into a new tier of play. Everything was just sort of jumbled together. However; somehow, it was weirdly simultaneously all over the place while being jumbled together. There was a lot of unnecessary cross-referencing.
As a GURPS fan, I certainly have no problem with cross referencing if it's done well. However, if it's not done well (some of my Heroes Unlimited books come to mind,) it can be something of a nightmare to find the information you need. This is doubly so when you're in the middle of a game and need to know how something works.
It took me a really long time to get a grasp on how some of the Essentials classes worked in spite of the fact that their design was actually simpler than the pre-Essentials classes. That was mostly due to the layout of the books and the presentation of the material. Like I said, I think -at times- Essentials combined the worst aspects of 3E writing and 4E writing without really capturing any of the strengths. I didn't mind reading through my 3E books and the 'walls of text' because a lot of them were interesting. While 4E could at times be somewhat dry, it was presented in a way that I could get the information I needed quickly.
Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012, 08:47 PM #90
Defender (Lvl 8)