Homebrew My Experiment with 5e - No Classes with Cantrips - Page 7
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  1. #61
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    I'd say there isn't much of a difference, when you remove monsters/NPC's from the equation to be honest. But, by the same token, simply making traps bigger/stronger/faster isn't really a change either. If a chest has a poison needle trap at 1st level and a magical aura lightning trap at 15th, well, it's still just a trapped chest.

    Only difference is, the magical trapped chest becomes the default and the non-magical characters become sidelined since they cannot actually contribute to things because they don't have any magic. Which means that the game pushes the players to always play magic using characters. 5e is, IMO, already very, very high magic. There are what, 3 non-magic classes out of 36 in the PHB? In vanilla D&D, because everyone in the party becomes a caster at some point, it means that every challenge becomes an exercise in just using spells. Need to travel long distance? No problem, we just teleport there.

    I don't want mundane difficulties to become trivial. That's the point of a low magic game. A 1st level party would have a difficult time surviving in say, a desert or high mountain situation where survival checks and whatnot are quite a bit higher DC. The 13th level party, on the other hand, can survive in those areas because they can hit those higher DC's with enough accuracy. Remember, in a low magic campaign, DC 10-14 is actually pretty difficult and anything 15 or higher is VERY difficult. That 1st level fighter could adventure in an area of low dc verticality, for example. Hilly or whatnot. But, plunk him down on the floating iceburg with a frozen ship full of icy undead (an actual Thule adventure) where every movement is DC 12 and slipping means plunging down into icy waters with a couple of killer whales lurking, and you can see the challenge.

    Just to give the actual text of the example:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Viondor, Primeval Thule Module, page 5
    PCs able to fly can circumvent the climb from
    the waterline up to the wreck of the Golden Ghost.
    The embedded corpses are frozen in various states
    of decay, but all seem wracked with agony. However,
    the presence of living creatures on the iceberg
    begins to call them to life.
    Moving on the Iceberg: Mooring a boat to the
    ice is challenging, requiring a DC 10 Dexterity
    check (water vehicles); on a failure, the boat must
    back off 20 feet and approach again.
    Climbing the ice cliff is very difficult (DC 20
    Strength/Athletics check). The steep slope on the
    western portion of the iceberg is easier to navigate,
    although it still requires a DC 10 Acrobatics
    check or DC 15 Strength/Athletics check to move.
    Walking on the top is easier, but because of the
    slippery ice, the DC of Dexterity checks (other
    than those made simply to move) is increased by 5.
    The eastern edge is uphill from the western edge.
    A handaxe or similar weapon can be used to
    create handholds, requiring 1 minute per 5-foot
    square and reducing the Strength DC to 10 for
    that square. Pitons can be used for the same purpose
    and require only 1 round per 5-foot square.
    Combat on the Iceberg: Creatures that move
    downhill must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity/
    Acrobatics check or stumble and fall prone.
    Creatures moving uphill must expend 2 squares
    of movement to enter a square uphill from their
    current position.
    A creature climbing one of the vertical sides or
    ascending the steep slope at the western edge must
    use at least one hand to cling to the iceberg, and
    grants advantage to enemy attack rolls. A creature
    damaged by an attack while clinging in this fashion
    must succeed on a Strength/Athletics check against
    the DC of the wall or slide downhill 1d4 × 5 feet.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Only difference is, the magical trapped chest becomes the default and the non-magical characters become sidelined since they cannot actually contribute to things because they don't have any magic. Which means that the game pushes the players to always play magic using characters. 5e is, IMO, already very, very high magic.
    Wait, the game that presents 12 classes, 12 of which explicitly use magic is somehow "pushing the players to always play magic using characters?" That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it?

    There are what, 3 non-magic classes out of 36 in the PHB?
    Sub-classes. There are 5 non-magical sub-classes (Berserker, Champion, BM, Thief, Assassin). Out of 40.

    I don't want mundane difficulties to become trivial. That's the point of a low magic game. A 1st level party would have a difficult time surviving in say, a desert or high mountain situation where survival checks and whatnot are quite a bit higher DC.... Remember, in a low magic campaign, DC 10-14 is actually pretty difficult and anything 15 or higher is VERY difficult.
    "Low Magic" has such a fuzzy meaning (less powerful magic? less common magic items? fewer spellcasters in the population? no spell casters in the party? etc), and a Rogue can non-magically get some pretty good skill bonuses.

    That 1st level fighter could adventure in an area of low dc verticality, for example. Hilly or whatnot. But, plunk him down on the floating iceburg with a frozen ship full of icy undead (an actual Thule adventure) where every movement is DC 12 and slipping means plunging down into icy waters with a couple of killer whales lurking, and you can see the challenge.

    Just to give the actual text of the example:
    OK, that's quite an example.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    And, to me, that kinda fits with my point. In a group with casters, skills IME get somewhat sidelined. Not completely of course, but, de-emphasized I guess would be the way I would put it. I wanted a stronger focus on skills to overcome challenges rather than just scratching off another spell slot.
    My point is that this is a problem with skills, not magic.

    Just to give the actual text of the example:
    Yeah, that just looks like a mess of poorly written mechanics to me. It's a whole bunch of random DCs, most of which are way too high for the circumstance they're describing. According to that, the entire population of my old home town must be level 5 or higher, have a dex of 20 and be trained in acrobatics, because otherwise everyone would be falling over at least once on every hill. That adventure basically says "if you haven't maxed out your strength or dex as well as training athletics or acrobatics and attaining level 5, go home or have a terrible time" because it's repeated testing against a 5% failure rate.

    Which to be fair is often an issue. Writers (and some DMs) don't seem to get that having people repeatedly test against a DC means that if the player actually has any chance of failure, they're going to fail.

  4. #64
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    The "hill" in question is an iceberg, floating in the ocean. Ice is, typically, pretty slippery. So, no, it's not random DC's. The east side of the iceberg is pretty sheer and slopes down to the west, which is more passable. Think of a right angled triangle floating in the water. A DC 15 to climb a nearly vertical ice wall seems about right. A DC 10 to walk up a sharp slope (it's about 20 degrees vertical when I mapped it out) seems pretty decent.

    So, what's the problem here? Or, did you just miss the point about this being an iceberg?

  5. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
    Spells do not mean you don't engage the fiction. If magic feels like you're shutting down the engagement with the fiction, you're forgetting how wonderful and exotic magic should be. Listen a bit to Critical Role podcasts/videos for some good evocative use of magic that might feel better to folks that get bored by magical solutions.
    When I talk about "engaging the fiction" I'm not talking about evocative narration. I'm talking about the need to actually declare actions that leverage the ingame situation in rich and perhaps complex ways. For instance, when resolving a PC's persuasion of a NPC by way of a CHA check, the player has to declare actions that actually engage with the established dispositions, interests etc of the NPC - that's how you persuade someone! As opposed to, say, a Suggestion spell, which only engages the saving throw mechanics.

    Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
    How? Inherently your options are static.

    <snip>

    Let's say you have a 20 Strength human fighter rogue with Athletics Expertise at 13th level. His Athletics is a mighty +15. Compare that to a 16 Strength Fighter of level 1 with Athletics Proficiency (+5). What can the 13th level Master of Athletics do that the first level fighter can't? Jump a bit farther? Climb a slicker wall? Lift something that is a bit heavier? Is there a new solution that they can attempt that was not something they could have tried on a weaker version of the problem earlier?

    The evolution in problem solving offers something to the game. All I'm really saying is that this S&S, no cantrip class, approach has a cost... and that cost may be felt more heavily as time goes by.
    You are making assumptions here that don't have to be made. For instance, you are assuming that what is Easy or Nearly Impossible for a low level PC is also Easy or Nearly Impossible for a high level PC. But that assumption doesn't have to be made. (Eg 4e does not work on that assumption.)

    As far as maintaining interest is concerned - changing the fiction of the ingame situation, and evolving it with level, doesn't require changing the mechanical approach to resolution. (Eg D&D combat doesn't work like that.)

    EDIT: Saw this after the post I replied to:

    Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
    I would still like a specific example of how one might differentiate adventures for the 1st level fighter with a 16 Strength and a 13th level +5 Athletics with 20 Strength fighter/rogue with a +15 Athletics. Beyond fighting different monsters, what is different about the challenges they face that escalates the story.
    My examples will be from 4e because that is the version of D&D that I have GMed in the past decade at a range of levels:


    The things that characters of legendary power can do are different from the things that ordinary characters can do.

    That's not an S&S game, but there is nothing about S&S that precludes the scope of possible action expanding with level. Conan in The Phoenix on the Sword can make contact with, and wield the power bestowed by, Epemitreus the Sage. He wasn't doing that in Tower of the Elephant. Forging mighty weapons; striking terror into ancient tyrants resurrected; scaling impossibly high mountains to rescue captives from evil sorcerors; closing gates to the nether world: these would be some of the things that higher level PCs might do with their skills in a S&S game, that are simply not possible for low level ones.
    Last edited by pemerton; Friday, 22nd June, 2018 at 08:46 AM.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    When I talk about "engaging the fiction" I'm not talking about evocative narration. I'm talking about the need to actually declare actions that leverage the ingame situation in rich and perhaps complex ways.
    D&D has never really provided standard mechanics that invite that sort if thing. Non-standard ones, like the infamous page 42, perhaps, but, mostly, "engaging the fiction" in that sense has occurred outside the rules, as part of skilled play in which the player uses said engagement as an argument or even gambit to gain a favorable ruling from the DM.

    The closest it typically comes is in the more 'situational' spells.

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