4E In Defense of 4E - a New Campaign Perspective - Page 21
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  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by HJFudge View Post
    However, this isnt an issue with the system...any system can have you 'roll to hit, hit, but not actually hit narratively'. I cannot think of a single system this is not the case.
    At least, not draw blood or inflict a 'real' injury. Maybe they nicked your cloak or something.
    In 1e & 4e, you could narrate hits-as-hits if you wanted, you just have to avoid the blood, some of the time, because of the rationale for poison saves in the former, and the bloodied condition in the other (though, that's not literal, either, and 5e has basically the same thing 'signs of wear' that's a funny one, without the label).

    In 2e & 3e hp/damage discussions were minimal, so do what you want - you can anyway, in any ed - but it was dubious whether anything you did was going to hold together particularly well.

    Even in 4E you can 'realistically narrate' damage. Its possible. I've seen it done. Minions and such are likewise very easy to narrate...and in fact are perhaps some of the more realistic creatures narrative wise. Because in the end, *realistically*, we are all minions. All it takes is one good, solid hit and you're out of the fight
    Tangent. I ran a game set mostly in the Feywild for quite a while, using the "One Feywild, many worlds" rubric, the party would travel to alternate prime material planes now & then.

    A couple such were grimdark 'real' worlds, where people who got stabbed tended to writhe in mortal agony and bleed for minutes to hrs before finally giving up the figurative ghost. I actually statted virtually everyone from such a world (one exception was a Mythos mage, but he was insane) as a minion, with a Trait: when reduced to 0 is Stunned, at the start of each turn, save to only be Dazed that turn, can be killed with a CdG between turns. So, unless you mercy-killed the wounded, they'd stagger around and maybe even try to hit you, and they were, of course, in mortal agony the whole time.
    The evil Barbarian(Berserker) PC loved those worlds.
    I like to think he retired to one of them.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Friday, 31st May, 2019 at 04:47 PM.
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  2. #202
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    Quote Originally Posted by MwaO View Post
    Basically, it is more of a social problem than anything else. You have to make your players understand that failing a skill challenge can be a really good thing and make them excited to see what happens if they win or fail it. And figure out if your players want more roleplaying or more combat and get honest answers from them.
    This is one thing that I noticed from my disagreements with folks who hate 4E (also, this has become a long thread, so if someone else brought this up and I missed it, cool ) is the narrative focus of 4E. It is very cinematic in style. The flavor text of the exploits and spells clearly states how these things look when they are done and it, at least for me, allowed me to really explain what is going on in a cinematic way. Also, as a player I love to look at the flavor text and visualize how my character performs his exploits (like the fighters) so I can describe to the party what he does, instead of rattling off a list of abilities playing out. Also, as a DM, when I look at monster abilities, I am not thinking about a set of game states playing out, I am looking at plot points to tell the story of the event in relation to the players. A good example of this was that I was running a adventure where the party was on a island of ice in the Elemental Chaos looking for a relic. They had been hunted by a white dragon on and off and when I was thinking about having the dragon come around again, I wanted to come up with something unique. I noticed that in the Dragonomicon, that one of the additional features of a white dragon was that they could burrow through snow and ice like a gofer. So, when the dragon came up, I had him dive into the snow and the situation suddenly became like an artic version of the movie Tremors. The party loved the situation because they immediately tried to hide and sneak instead of fighting the dragon (something they completely came up with on their own). They lost the rolls and still have to confront the dragon, but they talked about that situation more than all the giant fights I had them do.

    So the reason I brought this up was because I mentioned this to a guy who was trying to argue with me that you cannot role-play in 4E and as we kept going back and forth, it became obvious that he saw the class features as rules that allowed you to do stuff and I was looking at it as plot points that help tell the story of your character. Many of the things he insisted you could not do were covered on p.42 of the DMG or covered through well designed skill challenges. Yes, there are things they could have streamlines and did better, but the game did get better as it went on and many of the expanded rules in Unearthed Arcana filled many of the gaps people had complained about. But if you are not thinking of your character options as plot devices and more like rules that dictate what you can do or what you should do, I think youre going to get frustrated.
    Last edited by thanson02; Monday, 3rd June, 2019 at 10:48 AM.
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  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    Many players in 2E and 3E treated damage as physical because it was faster and easier, regardless of what the books claimed.
    That's part of it. Psychic damage is another part of it - the only way to deal damage with psychic powers in 2E was to set someone on fire. The biggest issue is probably Healing Surges, and overnight full healing, which prevent any amount of damage from persisting for more than a day. It's hard to be a hair's breadth from unconsciousness, and then have all of that damage removed overnight, if damage is primarily physical.
    That is the thing though, damage comes from a variety of sources and can cause a variety of damage types. Some of them are physical, but others are psychic/mental.

    HP is a weird mechanic that people keep trying to quantify. I have been gaming since 2nd Ed. and no lie, it is better then THACO, but ultimately it is a measure of how long you can stay in a fight before you are out. In some cases, that means you are dying on the battle field, other times you are curled up in the corner as a drooling vegetable. It depends on the type of damage you received. It is also up to the DM to decide how it plays out. I have seen a lot of games with TPK, where the party has woken up after everyone thought they were dead with no gear and captured by the enemy.

    I guess what I am saying is that just because a bunch of players decided to connect HP specifically with vitality and health because they thought it was easier, doesn't mean that is what it is supposed to be about. IMO, it is supposed to be about the players having fun and the DM using the tools at hand to facilitate that fun. In our games, I have talked to my players about the purpose of HP and when I described it as how long you can say in a fight and there are a lot of things that can take you out, they were fine with it and have been having a lot of fun with it. I have had players loose all their hit points and instead of dying, they entered a catatonic state of paralysis that the healer had to get to work on to help the player recover because the attacks were primarily psychic in nature. I have also done the same thing with people loosing all their hit points due to poison attacks.

    Also, I think you are over-simplifying the role of healing surges in 4E. There are plenty of situations and magical effects where both HP and healing surges do not replenish back to full status overnight. Specific situations override the general rules after all.
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  4. #204
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    Quote Originally Posted by thanson02 View Post
    That is the thing though, damage comes from a variety of sources and can cause a variety of damage types. Some of them are physical, but others are psychic/mental.
    In 4E, yes. Not in 3E, or in any edition that came before it.

    In 4E, damage can come from non-physical sources. Psychic damage exists in 4E. In any earlier edition, the only things capable of dealing damage were those things capable of inflicting physical injury. That was a hard break from tradition, which immediately set 4E apart as different and unique.
    Quote Originally Posted by thanson02 View Post
    I guess what I am saying is that just because a bunch of players decided to connect HP specifically with vitality and health because they thought it was easier, doesn't mean that is what it is supposed to be about.
    And what I'm saying is that design intent is entirely irrelevant to how the game is actually played at the table. I don't care what the designers think HP should be about. I care about the players at my table, and every table I'd ever played at, and how they actually use HP.

  5. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    In 4E, yes. Not in 3E, or in any edition that came before it.

    In 4E, damage can come from non-physical sources. Psychic damage exists in 4E. In any earlier edition, the only things capable of dealing damage were those things capable of inflicting physical injury. That was a hard break from tradition, which immediately set 4E apart as different and unique.
    It is hard to politely say 'you are spouting nonsense' but that is the only way to put it! I've played D&D basically since it was invented, certainly since it was available as a game to the public in any form. I could list 100 basic situations in which non-physical damage is accrued as hit points to a PC in various editions. Ghosts do HP damage, and they are non-corporeal, what else is that but 'psychic' damage? The spell 'Phantasmal Force' can cause damage, and certainly spells such as 'shadow magic' (which produces illusionary spell effects) also does damage, but these are not physical effects! Examples abound, and in a more informal sense it is perfectly reasonable to describe damage suffered in a fight as non-physical. Nothing about this fails to work in classic D&D, and to say it is not a part of the game is simply nonsense.

    And what I'm saying is that design intent is entirely irrelevant to how the game is actually played at the table. I don't care what the designers think HP should be about. I care about the players at my table, and every table I'd ever played at, and how they actually use HP.
    Well, nobody can say you are 'wrong' when you talk about 'your players' but I think your interpretation and your description of it are highly selective! Alternatively you simply haven't played with a very diverse group or even in very many different types of play!

    I think it is quite true that players start out with the idea, with their lowly level 1 PC hit points, that HP represents the physical toughness of their bodies, but not many are stuck in that mode of thinking once they've progressed a number of levels and played in less cut-and-dried situations for a bit.
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  6. #206
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    I could list 100 basic situations in which non-physical damage is accrued as hit points to a PC in various editions.
    All of the examples you give here are bad, but if you want to run through your complete list, you might find one which is an error in design consistency rather than an error in your memory.
    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Ghosts do HP damage, and they are non-corporeal, what else is that but 'psychic' damage?
    Ghosts in 2E cause aging when they hit, rather than damage. Ghosts in 3E can corrupt living creatures by touching them, but there's nothing to indicate that the corruption is all on your head. It certainly sounds like necrotic damage to me, and that's consistent with how the ability works in both 4E and 5E!

    The only psychic damage that a ghost has ever done is with its horrifying visage, in 4E. That ability doesn't deal HP damage in any other edition. Fourth Edition is the weird one.
    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    The spell 'Phantasmal Force' can cause damage, and certainly spells such as 'shadow magic' (which produces illusionary spell effects) also does damage, but these are not physical effects!
    Phantasmal Force does damage only if you believe it's real. Literally, you think you're injured, so your mind makes it real. Shadow magic is partially real, and it's the real part which damages the body.

    It's impossible to kill someone through HP damage without sufficiently damaging the integrity of their body, and anything that deals HP damage must be capable of inflicting physical injury. It's one of the few consistent design decisions throughout all of D&D (prior to 4E).
    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Examples abound, and in a more informal sense it is perfectly reasonable to describe damage suffered in a fight as non-physical. Nothing about this fails to work in classic D&D, and to say it is not a part of the game is simply nonsense.
    What you think is reasonable, I think is nonsense. Your narration would be laughed out of any table I've ever played at.
    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Well, nobody can say you are 'wrong' when you talk about 'your players' but I think your interpretation and your description of it are highly selective! Alternatively you simply haven't played with a very diverse group or even in very many different types of play!
    Why would I play with a group that interprets gameplay in a nonsensical fashion? That sounds like a recipe for disappointment all around. In any case, they never showed up at any table I played at; or if they did, they had the good sense to keep their ridiculous ideas to themself.

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    Why would I play with a group that interprets gameplay in a nonsensical fashion? That sounds like a recipe for disappointment all around. In any case, they never showed up at any table I played at; or if they did, they had the good sense to keep their ridiculous ideas to themself.
    I decided to go through the old Player Handbooks for 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition because I wanted to make sure I responded appropriately to what you're presenting here. After looking at how Hit Points were dealt with in 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition, 4th Edition, and 5th Edition, what I'm seeing is an evolution of concept design, not a deviation. I understand that you have your way of playing your game and earlier editions allowed you to do that for you. I also understand that you disagreed with the evolution direction that they went with 4th and 5th editions, but you're conflating your House-rules with RAW and the examples you brought up above, you even straight up and said that the gameplay seem to go that direction. Just because they decided to actually take that next step with 4th Edition, doesn't mean they were in the wrong.

    Also, the comment you made above about not caring about the rules and only caring about how things are at your table, all the arguments of objectivity that you've been making up to this s point have been completely thrown out the window with that statement. You can't insist on having objectivity within a game rule set and then turn around and say that the rules don't matter when it conflicts with your House-rules and how you want to run your game. It doesn't work that way.
    Last edited by thanson02; Tuesday, 4th June, 2019 at 10:54 AM.
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  8. #208
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    The bloodied condition and abilities keying off it was something I really liked about 4e to the point where in thinking if introducing it in my 5e games.
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  9. #209
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    And since I am now certainly in this conversation, might as well add my part to the mix:

    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    Complaints about 4E

    Combats Take Forever


    This is a hard point to argue. For example, I was recently re-running "Keep on the Shadowfell" with a group to test the waters. A simple combat with goblins took our low level group over an hour to play. We had cards printed out from Character Builder, relatively straight forward characters, and were more or less focused on the game. It could've been the options in combat. It could've been inflated hit points. It could've been triggered reactions. It could have been a variety of issues, but I think I've found a solution.

    In the later days of D&D Encounters, we tried changing the math of the game: decreasing the HP of monsters and increasing the damage. This lead to some overly deadly fights, and while it succeeded in making them shorter, it didn't keep the spirit of the game's design intact.

    It should be noted that no officially published adventure I've yet seen keeps the game's design intact. The issue is that the design of 4E assumes you're not playing D&D - not the traditional D&D we've been playing for most of the game's history at least. Fifty room dungeons with unimportant fights with goblins turn into an unbearable slog. Nowadays when we're adults with busy schedules and meet every couple weeks for 3-4 hours, this is an awful way to play. I did the computations, and it would take over a year meeting regularly to complete the 1-3 level adventure, "Keep on the Shadowfell."

    In 4E combats are set up to be epic set pieces. The adventure design should reflect that paradigm. Yet the "dungeon crawl" assumption of core D&D set 4E up for failure. So my design paradigm would be one big combat a session, bookended with exploration, role play, skill challenges, etc. Each "scene" would award a comparative amount of XP so the game's level progression is not stunted.
    We agree on this one. If you play combat through like a monster mash, then yes, it can take a while. If you mix it up with narrative though, you can diversify what is going on and even though it might take a while, it won't seem like your constantly fighting. There were a few things I did to help with this in my game.

    I reduced the monster HP by about 20% so they didn't take as long to defeat (kill, gave up, etc), In some cases I dropped the AC by 1 (depending on what role the monster had in combat), and I adjusted the monster damage so it had a bit more pop to it. The reason for the adjustment, and perhaps I was not the only one who noticed this, was that when I first started off my players, they felt the combat was really hard. I believe my wife at one point said "When did goblins get tough?" when she was either 1st or 2nd level. But then around level 5-6, the combat got easier, almost to the point of boredom. Then when they got to level 11, it got hard again. And then again, around levels 15-16, it started to get easy again. To offset the wave, I didn't do anything with the math, but I did up the damage die with the monsters by 1 around level 6 and then again around level 15-16. I figured, if the trend continues, that I will have to do the same thing around level 25 or so.

    Another thing I did was that I started to make combat-based skill challenges, similar to what you stated above. This is a skill challenge intermixed with a combat situation. One of the last one's I did was that I had a white dragon attack the parties air ship and the monster attacks were based on what was in the stat block, but the effects of the attacks on the ship and what the players might run into with the dragon during the attack was part of the skill challenge. They had a lot of fun with it and came up with some really creative ways to use the ship to fight the dragon. Combat still lasted a while, but there was so much going on and they were having so much fun, the players didn't notice or care.


    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    You Can't Roleplay

    This is a bigger issue. Part of it is intertwined by the bad adventure design. When a DM is running a 50-room dungeon and each fight takes an hour, that's a minimum of 12 sessions of just over 4 hours if the group does nothing but fight. Three or six months worth of your game on a low-level adventure (depending on if you meet weekly or biweekly). So it's understandable that the DM pushes nothing but combat. Cutting down the number of battles affords more time for role-playing, world exploration, etc.

    But is there anything in the mechanics that prevents roleplaying? You have roleplaying skills (Diplomacy, Intimidate) tied to ability scores just as you have in 3rd edition, Pathfinder, and 5th edition. So that is no worse than those systems. You have background and fluff text. You have descriptions of monsters, character races, flavor text for powers. Flip through the PHB and the rulebook for a dungeon crawler like Descent, and you'll see that D&D 4E is a roleplaying game through and through.
    IMO, this complaint is the biggest load of bull I have ever heard from the gaming community about 4E. You don't need a game system to effectively role-play. If you feel you cannot role-play with a given system, then your not trying to role-play. Your just trying to play a game. If that is your speed, that is fine, but be honest about it and don't make up stuff to compensate for your vanity (grumble, mini-vent). With that being said, it is also important for the DM to have a solid grasp on the mechanics so they can tell the story in a meaningful way that the players can feel engaged in. 4E is a VERY modular system. You don't even have to run combat with the combat rules if you want (hello skill challenges!). You can have high magic, low magic games, you can have games with no magic (look at DMG2 if you are not sure what I am talking about). The idea that you cannot role-play with it is just nonsense................


    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    Perhaps it's the addition of the Skill Challenge to cover roleplaying situations? Granted, I think the Skill Challenge system is a little mishandled, and it feels like an artificial mini-game within the greater system. I still haven't wrapped my head around it, and honestly, in my new campaign I'm streamlining it. Make a few successful checks or face a consequence. (And honestly, this is how the game has functioned for years.) As a mini-game, it can be pulled out and replaced with something that better rewards player ingenuity and roleplaying.
    It took me a while to understand what was going on with Skill Challenges. Videos online from PHD20 and the blog At-Will (not sure if it is still up or not) helped a lot with this. Also, the article on Narrative Challenges in Dragon Magazine which was developed for downtime activities in 4E added a new element to Skill Challenges that I had not seen in the core books. The biggest thing for me was "What story am I trying to tell with the challenge?", "What actions are the players going to try to do in this situation to resolve it?", and "How do the skills play into the player's actions?". I found the easiest challenges for me to write in the beginning were group challenges that progresses from one stage to the next that the players were reacting to. I play-tested those for a while and then evolved what I had to include other situations. I would also playtest skill challenges and rewrite them based on how the players interacted with them until they did what I wanted them to do. Right now, my skill challenges are subdivided into combat challenges, social challenges, environmental challenges, reactive challenges, and hybrid challenges (where I intermix elements of the previous ones together for the challenge).

    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    The challenge that I've set for myself is to create an engaging world, as rich as any campaign setting I've devised for any edition. I will see how my players interact with it, and I will let that be the test to see if 4E doesn't allow roleplaying.

    What are your thoughts? Do you think 4E combats ran too long? Do you think the design discouraged roleplaying? How did skill challenges work for your group?
    The best thing for this is to remember that the rules are there to facilitate plot points for story telling. As long as you keep that at the central focus, you should be fine.
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  10. #210
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    Some points about minions:

    I think the "1 HP" notion is an attempt to model a more general feature: Minions are intended to model creatures which die after one solid hit. A more accurate model would give minions about 1/2 the HP value of an average attack. As a simplification, that is changed to "1 HP", which required a further modification to prevent low damage area effects from killing minions too easily.

    Also, minions are not quite creatures modified to fit their use outside of their usual level band. Minions "break" usual scaling by increasing their expected damage output but leaving their effect hit points unchanged. Although not tracking exactly, level increases mean increasing attack bonuses and armor class, and mean increasing damage output and hit points. Minions break this by increasing the combination of attack bonus and damage, without increasing the combination of armor class and hit points.

    That is, a goal of the the core combat model is to roughly preserved combat as levels increase. One of the features of combat which is not preserved as levels increase is that detail and complexity increase, as both the characters and their opponents have many more abilities. Minions "break" this model.

    A way to (partially) unify minions with usual opponents is to replace hit points with a chance of elimination: If on average, five 10 hit point strikes are needed to defeat a 50 hit point opponent, that can be replaced with a 10 hit point strike having a 20% chance of defeating the opponent outright, and an 80% chance of being ignored. The inverse of this replacement is arguably the effect of introducing hit points, with the intended benefit to reduce the variability of combat.

    Thx!
    TomB
    Last edited by tomBitonti; Tuesday, 4th June, 2019 at 05:43 PM.
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