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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    You can, although a question I've been pondering lately is why combat tends to be so much more exciting than the other aspects. There's nothing like the adrenaline rush of, "Roll initiative..."
    That's one of the great imponderables of D&D you're pondering there.

    - Is it because there are more rules? I.e., rounds, hit points, etc. As opposed to "make an opposed roll" or whatever.
    Plausible. Of course, could also be chicken-and-egg: there are more rules for combat because combat is more engaging.

    - One possibility is that what makes combat fun is that each character contributes in much different ways, with special abilities, different weapons, spells, feats, etc. The other pillars tend to mostly be different bonuses for the same skills.
    Spells come into the other pillars, too. But, yes, I think each character contributing (and doing so with some uniqueness) is part of it. Non-combat resolution in D&D has mostly tended to be a check or two against a skill (or a few related skills all of which are the bailiwick of one PC) - or the application of a single spell or magic item. So one PC at a time is participating.


    Yes, a "good" DM or a well-written adventure can make the other pillars exciting, but that's the DMing or the writing, not the rules. You can drop a monster in a room and with zero preparation it's still fun to kill the monster.
    Or not. Seriously, you can get a boring combat pretty easily.

    - Or is it just that combat is inherently more exciting than talking or walking?
    One of my favorite shows as a little kid was Mission Impossible. Lots of talking (lots of tense deception), sneaking around, and working on odd gizmos - relatively little 'action.' It seemed exciting.


    Mystery is a factor, too. A mystery can heighten interest, and, in fiction, the author can hold back information from the reader to accomplish that. Holmes wouldn't be so cool if his 'deductions' were prefaced with /all/ the information he used to reach them. Mission Impossible would have been boring if the viewer got the whole plan in exhaustive detail up front.

    While the DM can present a mystery, what the PCs are planing and doing (and for the most part, able to do) is all just known quantities. You can spring a surprise on a bad guy, but no one at the table is actually surprised by it (surprised it worked, maybe).

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
    You made the claim it as a game design thing
    Ok, since you are still lost, I'll start from scratch. In case you missed it, my claim - the one I'm actually defending - is that there is a large unsupported design space around the concept of a "Skill Monkey" in D&D. Specifically, I called out that it is not possible to play a character in the "Sherlock Holmes" archetype. So that's what I was actually discussing, and the area I'm prepared to defend. You have so far addressed nothing in that topic.

    Instead, what you said was:

    Whereas I agree many tables pushed the rogue into a DPS role, I think this statement is more about playstyle than the game itself.
    Now, what is "this statement". This statement that I made was not about the entirety of the game design or anything of the sort. My statement was that rather than evolving the Thief to fit into a more generic skill monkey class, the Thief has tended to evolve more into what 4e called a "Striker" that also happened to have roguish skills. How the game as a whole could be played was not central to my claim. The game could be evolving toward more exploration rather than more combat, and it wouldn't change specifically how the thief was evolving. I'd be happy to accept for the purposes of this argument that in fact D&D was evolving more toward exploration and away from combat, because the focus of play of the game as a whole wasn't what I was discussing, but the focus of the thief (now rogue). You are the one that introduced that idea - as a non-sequitur.

    Indeed, as soon as you introduced the idea of the game as a whole, and of play style, rather than a discussion of a specific class, I completely agreed with you. You said.

    The game, IMO, doesn't emphasize combat over exploration.
    And how did I respond? I said, "I completely agree with you." So why are you still harping on that as if it was important? Because again, since you seem to have trouble remember this, the area I was discussing was the untapped design space around "skill monkey". Whether or not the game emphasizes combat over exploration has NOTHING to do with that. We could agree either way, and it wouldn't change whether or not the game had a true skill monkey.

    so you should be able to show in the rules of the actual game where that is. Otherwise it's a personal playstyle preference, like I said.
    Considering I agreed with you right away, this statement seems really bizarre. Of course whether or not game focuses on exploration, combat, roleplaying, or anything else is a personal playstyle preference. I already fully concurred. That has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    You said the abilities were so low that they were essentially a failure.
    Since you have decided to get really pedantic, no I did not. You won't find that quote anywhere. I said that they were essentially a saving throw. I said that in 1e - or in 2e if you distributed your points equally - you started out with failure rates in your thief skills as high as 60-70%. That's absolutely true. I also went on to say that yes you could focus on a few skills at a time to make them more reliable, but that comes only at the price of having more narrow skill ability. And more narrow skill ability doesn't make you a better skill monkey.

    Then you immediately shifted the goal posts and said "well, maybe 1 or 2 could, but they'd be obsolete by magic anyway" which also isn't true. For one, It only takes a couple levels to get a skill up to the 90%, so even a "low level " 5ish thief would be very competent in several skills.
    I'm not the one moving the goal posts. Remember, the ground I'm defending is whether D&D has a true skill monkey. So sure, in a couple of levels you could as a thief get a skill up to 90%, and you could start adding additional skills every few levels after that. That doesn't contradict what I said though, because having a 90% chance of success in a couple of highly narrow skills doesn't make you a skill monkey. It doesn't even necessarily make you a good thief. The very fact you are asserting this with confidence as a good skill monkey in my opinion proves my point.

    The traits of a good skill money are:

    1) Broad - You can do a lot of things well. It's not enough to say "I can do this one thing well", because in theory each NWP created a testable skill. The 2e rogue even in your assessment of its skill utility, had to focus on a few extra 'bonus skills', above and beyond an average characters NWP's. Saying you could "move silently" or "find traps" well, because you invested build points in that, no more made you a skill monkey than any other class that had a few silo'd abilities associated with your archetype. And the fact that the rogue actually had weaker NWP access than some other classes, basically evened that out conceptually.
    2) Flexible - You can pick what skills you want to do well. Yes, the 2e Rogue could pick between his thief skills he wanted to advance, but he was still stuck with a fairly limited list of thief skills to work with. He was stuck with just that limited list made worse by 2e's very ad hoc skill system. He couldn't advance 'Fast Talk', 'Disguise', 'Jump', 'Tightrope Walk', 'Alchemy', 'Astronomy', 'Notice Details', 'Fix Stuff' or whatever else makes up being archetypally skillful. He possibly could take some of his limited NWP's slots to with a generous DM be able to do that stuff as more than just flavor, but he couldn't count on his skills increasing across the board. The only mechanism 2e had for getting better was the very limited ability of investing a NWP into the same thing twice. You don't have enough NWP's and the advantage accrued is too small to make that worthwhile. And frankly, very few NWP's concretely did anything, so that you could use them as narrative force.
    3) Reliable: A true skill monkey has skills that have narrative force. You reach a point rather quickly where there are some things you can just do with no chance of failing. You can imagine that as your skill increases, new abilities unlock, that you as a player can reliably propose with confidence that they'll succeed. Mundane walls can just be climbed without a chance of falling. A little later, ice walls can be climbed without a chance of falling. Or, chasms can be just jumped with no chance of failure. Then a bit later, broader chasms can be jumped. Traps can automatically be detected because your perception is reliable. Rarely has D&D really trusted having skills work this way, and when it has, it tends to be very conservative about what you can do automatically. It's fine with a 13th level spell-caster being able to reliably shape the very nature of reality, but the idea of an equivalent level skill monkey doing superhuman feats of skill is not something its ever endorsed.

    Secondly, "replaced by magic anyway" is a fallacy, and has been argued to death over the years. For reasons including but not limited to "is there a caster around, does the caster have that spell, does the caster have that spell ready, how many times is that spell needed, etc, etc.
    The existence of someone else out there with an opinion doesn't make mine a fallacy. All of that is true, but it ignores among other things, that the game allows you to pick what sort of character to play, and allows casters to pick what sort of spells to prepare. So, in practice, there is a caster around if you want one.

    Consider also the idea of 'tiers' when discussing class balance. What gets you up to a higher tier isn't merely whether you can do something, but whether you can flexibly craft a solution. So, a wizard may not have the foresight to have the solution prepared, but once a wizard knows what the problem to be over come is, he can reliably craft a solution. D&D skill monkeys have never in the rules been able to do that, so again, in practice the spell is prepared for the problems you know you have. The skill monkey is stuck. Either the problem is something he can unreliably try to solve, or he can't solve it at all.

    Spells in D&D are more reliable than skills. With few exceptions, they provide a 100% reliable packet of narrative force that the player can assert about reality. Skills fail, and until 3e introduced the idea of 'take 10', 'take 20', and skill checks not failing in the same way that attacking and saving throws did, they were never reliable. You brag about 90% or 95% chance of success, but if you are using that 90% chance of success to find and remove traps, you have about the same failure rate as Russian Roulette (a 1 in 6 chance versus 2 1 in 10 chances). Again, because of that lack of reliable skills, a good thief player only used even a 95% chance of success (or for that matter the 99's available in 1e) as a saving throw.

    Spells are more powerful than skills. They tend to ignore the laws of reality, overcoming whatever mundane difficulties that skill has to deal with. A wizard not only doesn't have to worry about whether the wall is smooth or slippery to climb it, he doesn't even need the wall. More subtly, the fiction of the scene is more likely to detail mundane difficulties than magical difficulties. Rooms are generally not described according to their magical reality, with lists of spells that are weaker in this context (reduced caster level, etc.) There are only occasional 'anti-magic fields'. There is reliably a physical reality. Moreover, skills never scale the way magic does. No matter how skilled you got in 2e, you didn't ever keep up with your magical peers. You never got so skilled at tight rope walking that you could walk on water or clouds, or so skilled at picking pockets that you could strip a man's shirt from inside his suit of armor without him noticing, or whatever. And when 3e played with that idea, they required you to have so ludicrously high of skills that your magic comrades would have won the game by the time you had them normally.

    Spells are more packable than skills. A ring of invisibility makes 'hide in shadows' largely pointless. Whoever has one is more stealthy than your thief with his 95% chance of succeeding in a darkened room if he doesn't move etc. The fact that the party gives the ring to the thief, doesn't make the thief a skill monkey.

    I also can't help notice how you go from "none of the skills" to "maybe 1" to "a few" all in the same post.
    I can't help but notice your fondness for taking things out of context. You had the choice in 2e to either be _reliable_ at basically no thief skills at first level (even as an 18 Dex elf whose chose not to wear armor to maximize thief skills), or maybe _reliable_ at one if you focused your build points on a single skill, to after a couple of levels maybe _reliable_ at a few. None of that is a contradiction, and it is in fact an accurate description.

    I'm only going by the words you are actually saying.
    No, you aren't.
    Last edited by Celebrim; Thursday, 26th January, 2017 at 10:57 PM.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    You can, although a question I've been pondering lately is why combat tends to be so much more exciting than the other aspects. There's nothing like the adrenaline rush of, "Roll initiative..."

    Some ideas/thoughts that have come up, in no particular order.

    - Is it because there are more rules? I.e., rounds, hit points, etc. As opposed to "make an opposed roll" or whatever.

    - One possibility is that what makes combat fun is that each character contributes in much different ways, with special abilities, different weapons, spells, feats, etc. The other pillars tend to mostly be different bonuses for the same skills. Imagine if every class had the same weapons and attacks, and the only thing that varied was the attack bonuses.

    - My thread about uncertainty was really the result of thinking about this problem. I was trying to imagine what, for example, a conversation with a guard would be like with more nuanced rules.

    - Yes, a "good" DM or a well-written adventure can make the other pillars exciting, but that's the DMing or the writing, not the rules. You can drop a monster in a room and with zero preparation it's still fun to kill the monster.

    - Or is it just that combat is inherently more exciting than talking or walking?
    I'd say combat is exciting because it's risky. Even if you think your team has an excellent chance of success, there is still an unknown factor that could see you character dead. Generally, that isn't going to happen in the social or exploration pillar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    Let's just drop it. I was trying to engage in a conversation, not get into a pissing match to prove who's smarter. (I suppose the fact that I hoped for that on these forums might suggest that it's not me.)
    You asked a legitimate question. I tried to answer it. I don't understand why you think my answer was disrespectful, but it wasn't intended to be.

    The problem with any analogy is that you tend to end up arguing over the details of an analogy rather than the thing itself. Suffice to say, that my answer remains to your question, "It's both. Poor class design creates unused design space."
    Last edited by Celebrim; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 12:10 AM.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    I'd say combat is exciting because it's risky.
    True, but there is more too it than that. Exploring the trap filled tomb is risky. Trying to intimidate a king is risky.

    Combat is exciting because its a team sport in a way that most skill uses aren't - especially most risky ones. Most of the time when the problem is application of skill, just one person is working on the problem at once and there is only minimal cooperation. Only I am searching the floor for traps; only you are trying to browbeat a monarch.

    The other thing about combat is that it is cinematic. Combat occurs in a sequence of discrete mini-scenes and events that you can imagine. Most other sorts of problem resolution do not. Combat encourages you to granularly imagine the details of solving the problem. Forging a sword typically does not, partly because forging a sword is rarely a team sport.

    4e's skill challenge concept was a flawed attempt to solve both issues. It could occasionally make an interesting framework for a cinematic, risky scene with the whole group participating, but on the whole, it tried to take on something very ambitious with a too limited framework. Too much of the time it was pounding square pegs into round holes. It was a worthy effort though, and something I'd like to see designers revisit in the future.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
    That's weird. I just got a notification that someone on my blocked list quoted me in this thread. How is that even possible, as I didn't think they could see my posts, let alone quote them.
    I know of one way to do it, if you're really determined: sign in to a thread in an in-private session (easier than logging out) so you can see the posts of people you have blocked or who have blocked you. Click on the "Reply" button to get some generic text including a "quote" block with the post number embedded in it. Ignore the log-in button that it asks you for, but do copy the text into a window where you are logged in, and write/send your message from there.

    I don't know if anyone actually does it that way. There are people on my Block list who occasionally quote me or even laugh/give XP, and I don't think any of them are actually using that method. I figure it's just some kind of a bug in Enworld.

  7. #47
    I think alternate class features would be a really cool design space to explore.

    It could be a simple feature switch such as switching the usage rate of certain abilities (i.e. Rage is a short rest ability but usable only 1/2 as often), to a more complex multi feature replacement (sorcerers become 1/2 casters but gain a d8 HD, martial weapon proficiency, extra attack at level 5, and arcane strike which functions similarly to the paladin's divine smite).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    It works just fine. There are however a number of posters who log out and surf anonymously to avoid the feature. If they read something that triggers them, then they copy paste it, log back in as themselves, and force a quote in the mark up of the copy pasted text. The server than dutifully alerts you about it.

    Personally, I consider that dirty pool, and wish it was a flaggable offense.

    Frankly, it's not surprising that posters you wanted to block, felt an uncontrollable need to comment on your posts anyway. If they weren't that sort of person, you probably never would have felt the need to block them in the first place.
    This is a good theory, but it cannot be the whole explanation, because you can't copy/paste a "give XP" click, and yet I have gotten XP from people on my block list.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    True, but there is more too it than that. Exploring the trap filled tomb is risky. Trying to intimidate a king is risky.

    Combat is exciting because its a team sport in a way that most skill uses aren't - especially most risky ones. Most of the time when the problem is application of skill, just one person is working on the problem at once and there is only minimal cooperation. Only I am searching the floor for traps; only you are trying to browbeat a monarch.

    The other thing about combat is that it is cinematic. Combat occurs in a sequence of discrete mini-scenes and events that you can imagine. Most other sorts of problem resolution do not. Combat encourages you to granularly imagine the details of solving the problem. Forging a sword typically does not, partly because forging a sword is rarely a team sport.

    4e's skill challenge concept was a flawed attempt to solve both issues. It could occasionally make an interesting framework for a cinematic, risky scene with the whole group participating, but on the whole, it tried to take on something very ambitious with a too limited framework. Too much of the time it was pounding square pegs into round holes. It was a worthy effort though, and something I'd like to see designers revisit in the future.
    Sure the other pillars can be risky, but I find the risk doesn't seem as immediate or dangerous as combat. With traps, they are more an annoyance than anything else.* Intimidating a king is risky but when rolling the dice there isn't as great as feeling of danger as when in combat.

    I'd say your right in that it is also the teamwork aspect of combat. I know we do talk about what we will discuss how we are going to tackle encounters.

    *We did have a trap in the current game where we had to cross some pillars jumping from one to the other while a wall of acid was slowly moving towards us. There was also a puzzle component where some of the pillars would collapse if we jumped on the wrong ones, dumping us into more acid. This was a fun and exciting puzzle/trap.

    Before this, we had a kind of pit trap, not very deep but we'd land in acid trying to get across. This was just an annoyance and many of us just walked through it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    This is a good theory, but it cannot be the whole explanation, because you can't copy/paste a "give XP" click, and yet I have gotten XP from people on my block list.
    Ok. That is weird. I have no explanation for that. Perhaps they've found a way to trigger the event using javascript, passing in the appropriate values? Seems like a lot of work to go to though just to hack the XP system.
    XP Hemlock gave XP for this post

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