5E UA and depth of complexity - Page 6
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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    Sure the other pillars can be risky, but I find the risk doesn't seem as immediate or dangerous as combat.
    I'm going to stop the quote there, though the rest of your discussion is interesting. The reason is that the rest of your discussion goes on to undermine the very idea you start with, and I'm going to try to explain why.

    The answer is ultimately encounter design, and in particular the difficulty of making a good non-combat encounter relative to the difficulty of a good combat encounter.

    Consider the following:

    a) A combat encounter can use off the shelf components. You can mix and match these in a near infinite number of ways - orcs riding triceratops, hobgoblins with pet hellhounds, and so forth. Each provides its own unique challenge.
    b) Monster components tend to be lavishly detailed. 4e in particular just lovingly crafted monsters as interesting combat playing pieces. Compare with the focus it did on the non-combat abilities of monsters or on off the shelf environmental features.
    c) Combat encounters are spatial and tactical, providing intellectual interest in and of itself without conscious effort on the part of the designer.

    You can have bad combat encounters and good non-combat encounters. But it takes less skill to have minimally entertaining combat scenarios, in part because the work is harder and in part because less of the work is done for you.
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  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    Expansion of the current subclass options I think can only happen for a few of them. Totems for the totem barbarian, manoeuvres for the battlemaster, spells for any class/subclass that uses spells.
    So, it could only happen for every PH subclass except the Champion, Berserker, Thief and Assassin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    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.
    Since you bring it up, below, Skill Challenges did that, in allowing different PCs to bring different skills to bear in trying to accomplish the same goal. But they still left it at just a check, pass/fail. So they made non-combat more like combat in the way you mean (team effort) but not in the sense of detail (it's like a combat where you only ever roll to hit, never do damage, move or apply conditions - and where the monsters never try to hit you, you just die if you miss too much).

    4e's skill challenge concept was a flawed attempt to solve both issues.
    It certainly was deeply flawed, initially, when SCs got easier with increasing complexity. Once that was errata'd, it was just... a little too, well, little for everything it tried to cover (two whole pillars, in current parlance).

    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.
    The best skill challenges I saw in play went beyond the basically-functional n-successes-before-3-failures and built the challenge out into a sort of mini-game. For instance, in one campaign we entered gladiatorial games and one contest was a Chariot Race that was a Skill Challenge, but also used minis to keep track of who was in the lead and a random table combined with player choices to determine which skills could be brought to bear each lap.

    It was a worthy effort though, and something I'd like to see designers revisit in the future.
    Skill Challenges were a brand new thing and improved noticeably over just a few years (compare what combat was like in the earliest days of D&D to 40 years later).
    It'd've been nice if they'd been developed some more in 5e rather than dropped in the scramble for classic-game identity. I suppose the door is theoretically open as long as we have skills.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 06:40 AM.
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  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    5e, to come through with a fighter that was nominally 'best at fighting,' put the fighter in a DPR box it can't be designed back out of. It needs to be left there, and clarified as being only for such concepts. New non-magic-using classes are needed to cover the wide range of things the fighter can't be stretched to handle.
    Back in the day, fantasy and science fiction were mixed more freely than they are today. Courtney Campbell has an interesting "Space Marine" fighter subclass built around exploiting integrated battle-armor; it's kind of fun to think about a "gadgeteer" or "mad scientist" class, and a "detective" class might be kind of cool too. However, 5E doesn't have the mechanical framework to support those classes. You can't build a mechanically-interesting class solving mysteries, for example, unless there's a framework in place for how you would mechanically solve mysteries. Otherwise you wind up with something both bland and redundant like "you get advantage on all your skill checks related to solving mysteries", instead of "Once per Episode, you can make an intuitive leap to Find A Clue automatically without needing to Notice the corresponding signs first."
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  4. #54
    I don't see UA as the vehicle to add more complexity in regards to depth added to existing and new classes. It is just a mechanism to explore new concepts. I believe a third party release that rebuilds the PHB classes and then adds other classes has the best chance to add depth across the board like maneuvers for martial classes similar to spells. At the same time they could make feats independent and available with small incremental bonuses versus what they do now.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    Back in the day, fantasy and science fiction were mixed more freely than they are today.
    It's gone back and forth. In the 70s, genre bending was pretty in (so was the increadibly annoying 'quirky realism'). It never went entirely away.

    Before that, fantasy got kinda a bad rap for a few decades. Science fiction had achieved a little more legitimacy, and had kicked fantasy to curb. It was, perhaps ironically, the period when 'psionics' was coined and Vance wrote the Dying Earth as science-fiction. Elements of fantasy sanitized for an audience that wasn't so accepting of the genre.

    Courtney Campbell has an interesting "Space Marine" fighter subclass built around exploiting integrated battle-armor; it's kind of fun to think about a "gadgeteer" or "mad scientist" class
    The recent Artificer touches on that, a bit (it was also in 3.5 & 4e, introduced as part of the Eberron setting, BTW).

    and a "detective" class might be kind of cool too.
    SCAG Mastermind?

    However, 5E doesn't have the mechanical framework to support those classes.

    You can't build a mechanically-interesting class solving mysteries, for example, unless there's a framework in place for how you would mechanically solve mysteries. Otherwise you wind up with something both bland and redundant like "you get advantage on all your skill checks related to solving mysteries", instead of "Once per Episode, you can make an intuitive leap to Find A Clue automatically without needing to Notice the corresponding signs first."
    True. The Gumshoe system goes there in a big way, for instance.

    Above, Celebrim & I talked about Skill Challenges. They were such a framework, too, just a very skeletal one that needed a lot of DM fleshing-out to be really interesting...
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 27th January, 2017 at 06:43 AM.
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  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    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.
    Okay, out of curiousity.

    I had assumed that you unblocked me a little while back, but now I'm wondering: Is it just a bug?

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    I'm going to stop the quote there, though the rest of your discussion is interesting. The reason is that the rest of your discussion goes on to undermine the very idea you start with, and I'm going to try to explain why.

    The answer is ultimately encounter design, and in particular the difficulty of making a good non-combat encounter relative to the difficulty of a good combat encounter.

    Consider the following:

    a) A combat encounter can use off the shelf components. You can mix and match these in a near infinite number of ways - orcs riding triceratops, hobgoblins with pet hellhounds, and so forth. Each provides its own unique challenge.
    b) Monster components tend to be lavishly detailed. 4e in particular just lovingly crafted monsters as interesting combat playing pieces. Compare with the focus it did on the non-combat abilities of monsters or on off the shelf environmental features.
    c) Combat encounters are spatial and tactical, providing intellectual interest in and of itself without conscious effort on the part of the designer.

    You can have bad combat encounters and good non-combat encounters. But it takes less skill to have minimally entertaining combat scenarios, in part because the work is harder and in part because less of the work is done for you.
    I do agree that combat encounters can be uninteresting and non-combat encounters can be interesting. The thing is, I feel that combat encounters tend to be more interesting due to the heightened risk of combat, you have all these options to consider during a battle. You can create interesting exploration or social encounters, however, if you're constantly running into crazy puzzles and traps when out exploring then you're going to end up asking questions as to why you keep running into them.

    Basically, the combat pillar will generally have some risk of death, if you charge in to help an ally by finishing off a foe, there is a chance that you will miss and your ally is struck down on that enemies next turn. I believe it's this risk of death that is exciting. Exploration and social pillar encounters generally don't have this feeling. If you are trying to get information out of someone, there isn't much of a risk to your characters. It can still be a fun encounter carousing at the tavern looking for information, but it misses the excitement of combat.

    Basically, it's like an adrenalin rush. Combat has it, the other pillars generally don't. Even the puzzle with the acid wall, great as it was, doesn't quite capture that feeling of danger that you get when facing down a group of enemies.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    I do agree that combat encounters can be uninteresting and non-combat encounters can be interesting. The thing is, I feel that combat encounters tend to be more interesting due to the heightened risk of combat, you have all these options to consider during a battle. You can create interesting exploration or social encounters, however, if you're constantly running into crazy puzzles and traps when out exploring then you're going to end up asking questions as to why you keep running into them.

    Basically, the combat pillar will generally have some risk of death, if you charge in to help an ally by finishing off a foe, there is a chance that you will miss and your ally is struck down on that enemies next turn. I believe it's this risk of death that is exciting. Exploration and social pillar encounters generally don't have this feeling. If you are trying to get information out of someone, there isn't much of a risk to your characters. It can still be a fun encounter carousing at the tavern looking for information, but it misses the excitement of combat.

    Basically, it's like an adrenalin rush. Combat has it, the other pillars generally don't. Even the puzzle with the acid wall, great as it was, doesn't quite capture that feeling of danger that you get when facing down a group of enemies.
    Big decisions, big ramifications. Risk of death is the biggest ramification. Adding a risk of death to an exploration or roleplaying encounter isn't too hard (a dialogue with the ancient red dragon is going to be very different from carousing at the tavern!), adding a risk of ultimate failure is a little more fraught but still possible. Adding interesting decision points is a bigger struggle: it pretty much requires an alternate skill system. That can be a tough sell.
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  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    The thing is, I feel that combat encounters tend to be more interesting due to the heightened risk of combat, you have all these options to consider during a battle.
    Those seem unrelated.

    You can create interesting exploration or social encounters, however, if you're constantly running into crazy puzzles and traps when out exploring then you're going to end up asking questions as to why you keep running into them.
    Why do you keep running into bizarre monsters?

    I believe it's this risk of death that is exciting.
    Out of Apprentice Tier, the risk of death in a 5e by-the-numbers DMG combat, even a 'Deadly' one, is probably pretty minimal....

    ... hmm... OK... yeah, it's also a truism that higher level D&D play is less popular...

    Even the puzzle with the acid wall, great as it was, doesn't quite capture that feeling of danger that you get when facing down a group of enemies.
    That brings up another thought. In combat, what enemies do on their turn is part of the excitement, too. I suppose Interaction has a corresponding interest in the NPCs involved, but Exploration? Environments tend to be fairly passive. Traps don't generally make decisions, they just go off when triggered.

  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    I get it, Unearthed Arcana has mostly been about providing more character archetypes. Diversity. I call this breadth of complexity. And it's fine.

    But what about more crunch for existing characters?

    Both as in existing character archetypes, and as in actual characters you have built and play. I mean, publishing the Path of the Zealot does nothing for your existing Path of the Berserker Barbarian. And finding out that Bladesinging has been published in SCAG doesn't provide any new options for the Wizard player that just has chosen to play a Diviner, say.

    And neither Barbarian nor Wizard can make use of the existence of a new class, such as the UA Artificer.

    No, those are all either-or propositions. (Sure there's multiclassing, but still)

    Instead I'm thinking of depth of complexity, crunch that actually adds decision points to existing character archetypes and your current player character.

    The obvious example is the feat subsystem. It adds crunch opportunities to every character.

    ---

    What do you think will be the next UA that addresses depth (and not breadth) of complexity?

    I'm thinking back on previous editions, and trying to come up with possible candidates.

    Kits? Specialities? Prestige classes? Feat chains?

    One area that could be mined for possibilities is existing subsystems that currently are hardcoded to a single class only.

    I'm thinking mainly about maneuvers and metamagic. Both could be decoupled from the Battlemaster and Sorcerer, respectively, and then offered to every character instead.

    What are your ideas for how the next UA could add crunch for existing character archetypes instead of merely adding more of them?
    There wont be a lot of surprises in the UA.
    Some feat and spells will be your only chance to complexity depth.
    Don't bet too much on new maneuvers and meta magic.
    The classes will keep their identity and MC will stay the favored way to get features from other classes.
    I think they will presents all the material in the book as optional material.
    They wont touch the core of the 5 ed.

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