D&D 4th Edition More reflections on 4e and 5e. - Page 9





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  1. #81
    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."

 

  • #82
    Quote Originally Posted by GreyICE View Post
    Exalted's spells are almost exactly identical to 4E's rituals. The chances of any of them truly being used in combat is vanishingly small. In fact most of them have absurd, insane out-of-combat effects (which is, okay, different than 4E rituals, but the game is basically epic tier from the start forward, and scales to Giant Fighting Robots rather quickly).

    I honestly don't see what the issue is with an attack and a spell being presented in the same manner. "This is something your hero can do. Here's how to do it."

    The mental gymnastics people are jumping through to say that that doesn't work for them is... impressive.
    First, there are definitely combat spells in Exalted... don't have my books with me right now but I remember a spell that caused razor (butterflies) I think... or something like that to shoot out and slice enemies down. Second, the fact remains that Exalted still keeps spellcasting seperate from everything else and uses different mechanics for it. You seem to be purposefully ignoring that fact.

    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).
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  • #83
    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post

    I disagree emphatically that most people expect it to be different. In most games I can think of off the top of my head, it's only different where the outcomes are different.
    Ok, so now we've went from magic and martial should be different to excluding certain types of differences. Hmmm, ok, I don't think anyone is arguing a specific type of difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    GURPS? It's all skill rolls. Everything's skill rolls.
    Spirit of the Century? Everything's the same type of roll.
    WFRP 3e? Everything's the same type of roll.
    WFRP 2e? Different rolls because there's a serious possibility of magical blowback at the same time as the spell working. Which doesn't happen on a pass/fail system. Different because the outcomes are different.
    Call of Cthulu? Non-magical checks don't normally make you go insane. IIRC Different because the outcomes are different.
    Wushu? Yeaaaahhhh.
    Feng Shui? Nope. And this in a system where kung fu is different from gunplay.
    World of Darkness? I don't recall the mechanics for casting being distinct. Roll that dice pool.
    4e? Combat spells are the same. Rituals are different because they do different things.
    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?

    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    From the games on my shelves either magic is different because magic is costly and dangerous to the caster or things are different because that's what the game's about. Is D&D really about wizards and casters and their second class cousins? I can make a good argument that it is given the proportion of the PHB spells take up.
    Sooo... you do have games where magic is different, you just chose not to list them... got it. well again my experiences are different...

    Exalted
    Every edition of D&D up to 4e
    Reign
    Earthdawn
    Unknown Armies
    Anima
    Elric/Stormbringer
    Earthdawn
    Dragon Warriors
    Advanced Fighting Fantasy
    Witchcraft
    etc.

    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?
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  • #84
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    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.

  • #85
    Quote Originally Posted by Imaro View Post
    Ok, so now we've went from magic and martial should be different to excluding certain types of differences. Hmmm, ok, I don't think anyone is arguing a specific type of difference?
    No. The argument is that it makes no sense for a specific type of simmilarity to be different. The argument isn't that Scry should behave the same way as stabbing someone with your sword. It's that shooting someone with a bow and shooting someone with a ray are comparable actions and should therefore be handled in a comparable manner. The different action resolution mechanic should reflect what you are doing.

    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.

    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?
    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.

    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.

    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.
    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).

    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.

    WFRP3e... No experience with it at all.

    WFRP2e and CoC... selective exclusion, got it.
    Excluded because there is a purpose of making the mechanics different. The premise is that where the thing done is the same, the mechanics should be the same. 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".

    Feng Shui... Again, a game I'm unfamiliar with... when was this game released? Is it still in print, how popular is it?
    1996 IIRC. And no, it's not still in print.

    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 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.

    You want another top 3 game? We've already had one (Spirit of the Century's reskin of Dresden Files). Try Marvel Superheroes.

    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?
    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.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Iosue View Post
    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".
    And for others the grid actively enhances things. It means we are automatically on almost the same page and there are far, far fewer questions we need to ask just to reach the baseline. A picture is worth a thousand words - and the battemap provides us with a blurry photograph we can all see and on which we can build.

  • #86
    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    No. The argument is that it makes no sense for a specific type of simmilarity to be different. The argument isn't that Scry should behave the same way as stabbing someone with your sword. It's that shooting someone with a bow and shooting someone with a ray are comparable actions and should therefore be handled in a comparable manner. The different action resolution mechanic should reflect what you are doing.
    But magic is not similar to the mundane in almost all the fiction these games are based off of. Casting a bolt of energy in most fiction in no way relates to the same description or feeling as shooting a bow and arrow... In the broad sense they aren't similar fictionally so why should they be similar mechanically??

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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).
    So you make the resolution mechanics different, no one said everything had to be different just that there should be a difference in how magic operates mechanically as opposed to mundane things unless the game fiction purposefully wants them to be similar. The difference can be in the effect or the resolution but it should be different in some way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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.
    You should really preface this pargraph with an IMO... but I'll assume that's what you meant. I find different mechanics for different fiction, when not taken to an extremem...fun, interesting and more evocative of doing something truly different like oh, say magic... Also your broad brush of "bad game design" doesn't stand up since different systems can again be used to impart a different feel to two different actions with the same effect. I'd say it's only bad game design if that wasn't the intended effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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.

    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.
    But in GURPS Voodoo (and Spirits if that is all you choose to use) that is the only type of magic. Your distinctions doesn't make sense... In 4e ONLY ritual magic is different... but it's all magic. Are you using magic or are you not? You seem to be going in circles here... the fiction of hurling a bolt of electricity from ones fingertips is different from pulling an arrow back sighting and shooting... if fictional difference is the basis of giving different mechanics...why should they have the same mechanics? Because they are both used in combat? That makes no sense.



    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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).

    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.
    Now Dresden Files I have and it's interesting you bring it up because it has seperate systems for magic with different rules... So I would say Dresden Files definitely makes magic a different kettle from performing a mundane action.

    Strange I don't see SotC for sale on amazon except through third parties... Oh, well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Excluded because there is a purpose of making the mechanics different. The premise is that where the thing done is the same, the mechanics should be the same. 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".
    It doesn't matter what the purpose is in making them different... it still strengthens the argument that that's what people expect out of magic in a roleplaying game. You're drawing a pointless distinction.



    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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.
    Uhm... no there are actual mechanics for these things that are part of the overall system for using magic... I thought I was pretty clear about that. It creates a different overall system for using magic than attacking or using a skill. Sorry you're arbitrarily drawing lines in the sand when it's a pretty cut and dry case of mechanics being used to differentiate magic form mundane actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    You want another top 3 game? We've already had one (Spirit of the Century's reskin of Dresden Files). Try Marvel Superheroes.
    Spirit of the Century wasn't and I already commented on Dreesden Files.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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.
    It's only arbitrary for you... for many the fact that it's magic is a perfectly valid reason to have a system that operates different from mundane actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    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.
    Sooo... the fiction of an archer shooting an arrow and a wizard unleashing a magical bolt are the same??? This is where your argument doesn't make sense to me.
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  • #87
    D&D has always done magic differently than martial. No reason to change what works.

  • #88
    Quote Originally Posted by B.T. View Post
    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."

    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.

  • #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post



    This isn't just you. If you get 4e powers it makes it much faster and easier to see what's going on than embedding them in a wall of almost irrelevant text the way e.g. the 3.5 fireball spell does. Essentials veered back to the wall of text model.

    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.

  • #90
    Quote Originally Posted by B.T. View Post
    D&D has always done magic differently than martial. No reason to change what works.

    Homogenisation can be great, but I do not generally dig it in D&D, though it suits 4th Ed as 4th Ed is basically the class-less D&D (which can be cool for certain campaigns/play-styles, in fact, I think 4th Ed is perfect for a Wuxia campaign).

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