What does it mean to "Challenge the Character"? - Page 60
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  1. #591
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    However, i do have a lingering issue with point buy 5e. INT is a dump stat for a lot of classes, but that doesn't stop whole parties of shortbus INT 8 characters from quoting chapter and verse from the MM or coming up with diabolically fiendish plans on a regular basis. No, the game doesn't care, and as a GM running actual games, neither do I, but conceptually, or perhaps even philosophically (ecumenically?) it sets my teeth on edge.
    I would say that the assertion that an Int-8 character is "shortbus" needs some proof, given bounded accuracy. It sounds like some adjustments in perception or expectations is needed here.

    If that doesn't work, the game does provide a way to address this via the PCs' personal characteristics. Just add a personality trait or flaw to the effect of "I'm about as smart as a bag of hammers and it shows..." then award Inspiration when the players portray that trait or flaw. It stands to reason that a player motivated enough to draw upon information in the Monster Manual to succeed might also be enticed to portray his or her character in a way that will net a further advantage.

  2. #592
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    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    I would say that the assertion that an Int-8 character is "shortbus" needs some proof, given bounded accuracy. It sounds like some adjustments in perception or expectations is needed here.

    If that doesn't work, the game does provide a way to address this via the PCs' personal characteristics. Just add a personality trait or flaw to the effect of "I'm about as smart as a bag of hammers and it shows..." then award Inspiration when the players portray that trait or flaw. It stands to reason that a player motivated enough to draw upon information in the Monster Manual to succeed might also be enticed to portray his or her character in a way that will net a further advantage.
    I'm fine adjudicating low INT on a player by player basic, there are mechanics for it, it's fine. My problem is, as I mentioned, more philosophical. The 5e point buy system from the PHB generally mitigates for dump stats at 8, which is a -1 modifier. Let's say we have a party consisting of a Bard, Fighter, Paladin and Ranger (not a made up example). It's a solid party, all stealth capable, with spellcasting, buffs, control and solid DPR and nova. Its also a party where 3 out of 4 characters are likely to be INT 8. And not because the players wanted an 8 INT particularly, but because the point system mitigates for it in order to maximize the effectiveness of the characters.

    From a mechanical game design standpoint I generally have no issue with character build systems than enforce some penalties in order to maximize effectiveness elsewhere. However, when viewed from a different angle, for example "all (almost all) the best fighters are kinda dumb" I start to raise en eyebrow. It's not about the mechanics, it's more about feel, and I'll readily admit that my personal preferences play in here in a big way. I want heroes in my games, not dumb and dumber with longswords. The point buy system is our common frame of reference for character builds, and to build the best point buy fighter, you are, almost inevitably, going to end up with a dumb and socially inept or foolhardy character (8 INT, 8 CHA or WIS). My issue is not with an inability on my part to change that in my own game, obviously I can do what I like there, my issue is with the kind of characters produced by the system that we use as a common frame of reference. Like I said, an entirely philosophical issue.

  3. #593
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    I'm fine adjudicating low INT on a player by player basic, there are mechanics for it, it's fine. My problem is, as I mentioned, more philosophical. The 5e point buy system from the PHB generally mitigates for dump stats at 8, which is a -1 modifier. Let's say we have a party consisting of a Bard, Fighter, Paladin and Ranger (not a made up example). It's a solid party, all stealth capable, with spellcasting, buffs, control and solid DPR and nova. Its also a party where 3 out of 4 characters are likely to be INT 8. And not because the players wanted an 8 INT particularly, but because the point system mitigates for it in order to maximize the effectiveness of the characters.

    From a mechanical game design standpoint I generally have no issue with character build systems than enforce some penalties in order to maximize effectiveness elsewhere. However, when viewed from a different angle, for example "all (almost all) the best fighters are kinda dumb" I start to raise en eyebrow. It's not about the mechanics, it's more about feel, and I'll readily admit that my personal preferences play in here in a big way. I want heroes in my games, not dumb and dumber with longswords. The point buy system is our common frame of reference for character builds, and to build the best point buy fighter, you are, almost inevitably, going to end up with a dumb and socially inept or foolhardy character (8 INT, 8 CHA or WIS). My issue is not with an inability on my part to change that in my own game, obviously I can do what I like there, my issue is with the kind of characters produced by the system that we use as a common frame of reference. Like I said, an entirely philosophical issue.
    How come there's no insistence that an 8 Str means that a character can barely stand? Lots of casters dump Str, but nobody seems to insist that this be portrayed a certain way. They take their -1 penalty on Str checks, and have to watch their carrying capacity, and that's about it. But somehow 8 Int means drooling moron, and 8 Cha means either pathological introversion, or that you can't open your mouth without offending people.

  4. #594
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    How come there's no insistence that an 8 Str means that a character can barely stand? Lots of casters dump Str, but nobody seems to insist that this be portrayed a certain way. They take their -1 penalty on Str checks, and have to watch their carrying capacity, and that's about it. But somehow 8 Int means drooling moron, and 8 Cha means either pathological introversion, or that you can't open your mouth without offending people.
    Exaggerating my post for rhetorical effect isn't terribly helpful. Also, while I didn't mention STR dumps, I didn't exclude them either. I'm curious if you actually read my post, or if this is more of a knee jerk reaction, because what you say I said, and what I actually said really aren't the same. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I believe I was pretty clear that my issue was a philosophical one about the feel of the characters created using the standard point buy system. Maybe I wasn't as clear as I hoped...
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  5. #595
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    I'm fine adjudicating low INT on a player by player basic, there are mechanics for it, it's fine. My problem is, as I mentioned, more philosophical. The 5e point buy system from the PHB generally mitigates for dump stats at 8, which is a -1 modifier. Let's say we have a party consisting of a Bard, Fighter, Paladin and Ranger (not a made up example). It's a solid party, all stealth capable, with spellcasting, buffs, control and solid DPR and nova. Its also a party where 3 out of 4 characters are likely to be INT 8. And not because the players wanted an 8 INT particularly, but because the point system mitigates for it in order to maximize the effectiveness of the characters.

    From a mechanical game design standpoint I generally have no issue with character build systems than enforce some penalties in order to maximize effectiveness elsewhere. However, when viewed from a different angle, for example "all (almost all) the best fighters are kinda dumb" I start to raise en eyebrow. It's not about the mechanics, it's more about feel, and I'll readily admit that my personal preferences play in here in a big way. I want heroes in my games, not dumb and dumber with longswords. The point buy system is our common frame of reference for character builds, and to build the best point buy fighter, you are, almost inevitably, going to end up with a dumb and socially inept or foolhardy character (8 INT, 8 CHA or WIS). My issue is not with an inability on my part to change that in my own game, obviously I can do what I like there, my issue is with the kind of characters produced by the system that we use as a common frame of reference. Like I said, an entirely philosophical issue.
    How many traps and secret doors are in your game? Figuring out how a trap works ahead of disabling it may call for an Intelligence (Investigation) check, as might a task to figure out how a secret door can be opened.

    How often are players attempting to recall lore when fighting monsters in order to figure out their strengths, weaknesses, etc.? If they're not doing that, why aren't they? The ranger in particular seems like a great candidate for this, given favored enemy lore bonuses.

    Does recalling lore ever come up in a social interaction challenge, such as trying to prove a point using historical facts or trying to gain useful background info that can be used to get at the NPC's agenda or play to an NPC's ideal or bond?

    Point being, players reasonably dump Intelligence if they don't think it will come up much. In my experience, that chiefly has to do with a lack of traps and secret doors in the given game, but it can be for other reasons. If your players are experienced and know the Monster Manual pretty well, then they might not see value in recalling lore on monsters, which argues for changing up the monsters (if that will be fun for everyone). So it might be worth examining the game you're presenting to see if that is adding to the game-induced impetus to dump Intelligence.

  6. #596
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ovinomancer View Post
    No, you're presenting degenerate play as a necessary outcome, if only on the edges, of the presented idea. This is only true if there are no other constraints on play like genre assumptions or shared play goals.
    Or an understanding of what constitutes a valid action declaration? To get a little weird & technical, the basic process of play is mainly encoding & decoding. The DM encodes the state of the game, the player decodes it and encodes an action; the player decodes that, processes it, and encodes a resolution (which may include looping back to the player for a check, but /that/ part is pretty precisely coded using simple numbers & randomization).

    That process can exclude a LOT of the contentious issues that seem to be popping up late in this thread. A player 'metagaming' with 'player knowledge' that the character "shouldn't have" is an example of encoding/decoding errors in the process. The DM hasn't expressed or the player hasn't understood aspects of the setting and situation. Once they're resolved, so will the issue be resolved - without either having to appeal to any RaW or One True Way as to their respective roles as DM and Player - most of that resolution, like mechanical resolution, though, /is/ ultimately the DM's responsibility.


    (Why, yes, I did say "just talk to your players," but with more, snootier words.)
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Tuesday, 28th May, 2019 at 05:36 PM.

  7. #597
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    @iserith

    I agree with you - the Ranger would seem to be a great candidate for that. However, in order to be able to do that you mostly need to slight your actual core abilities to fight and track stuff. Like I said, this is eminently fixable in a given campaign given a GM with a desire to do so, and my issue (problem? whatever...) isn't with specific games, but rather with the optics and feel of our common frame of reference characters. This wasn't supposed to be contentious (not that you personally have been contentious about it). I don't like the feel of exemplar heroes with multiple negative attributes in common areas based on class.
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  8. #598
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    Quote Originally Posted by iserith View Post
    How often are players attempting to recall lore when fighting monsters in order to figure out their strengths, weaknesses, etc.? If they're not doing that, why aren't they? The ranger in particular seems like a great candidate for this, given favored enemy lore bonuses.

    ...

    Point being, players reasonably dump Intelligence if they don't think it will come up much. In my experience, that chiefly has to do with a lack of traps and secret doors in the given game, but it can be for other reasons. If your players are experienced and know the Monster Manual pretty well, then they might not see value in recalling lore on monsters, which argues for changing up the monsters (if that will be fun for everyone). So it might be worth examining the game you're presenting to see if that is adding to the game-induced impetus to dump Intelligence.
    So I've been struggling a bit with coming up with some meaningful consequences for failure of knowledge checks when fighting monsters.
    On a success, the PC recalls some helpful lore
    On a failure, the PC doesn't recall lore (which falls a bit flat since that is essentially "nothing happens")

    Perhaps better:
    On a failure, the PC doesn't recall lore and the enemy becomes offended at the PC's probing, if not somewhat confused, stare down. Enemy will gain advantage on next attack against PC.

    I know we don't have a specific example here but, in general, what might you do, @iserith?
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  9. #599
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    @Ovinomancer

    I agree with everything you just said. However, i do have a lingering issue with point buy 5e. INT is a dump stat for a lot of classes, but that doesn't stop whole parties of shortbus INT 8 characters from quoting chapter and verse from the MM or coming up with diabolically fiendish plans on a regular basis. No, the game doesn't care, and as a GM running actual games, neither do I, but conceptually, or perhaps even philosophically (ecumenically?) it sets my teeth on edge.
    The 5e system does not by default enforce or require any sort of roleplaying. The mechanics fo not take any of that and codify it into rules. The closest it comes are a few cases where "in good standing" is required for some features.

    But, yo me that is, by design, left to the table to determine.

    The "system" does not say "Int is a dump stat" because when and where skill checks are required and for what is up to the GM and de facto the group.

    But, if it needs to be said, there is a major difference between "what the PC thinks", "what actions the PC tries" and "what the PC knows" and it seems that perhaps for some the system giving pretty much broad or absolute authority to the second and maybe the first should not, to me, lead one to see the system as giving the same to the third.

    "I know who killed the magister and where the evidence is" is perfectly valid as a character statement, maybe even as "what the character thinks" but not necessarily more than that. That is much more a case of the stuff the system leaves to table side and in-game aspects.

    The rules fo not put the onus on the GM to change published monsters and scenarios if their table doesn't buy into the table-side "what the player knows, the character knows" and that leaves Int checks and the like as one possible way to try an adjudicate those.

  10. #600
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM Dave1 View Post
    So I've been struggling a bit with coming up with some meaningful consequences for failure of knowledge checks when fighting monsters.
    On a success, the PC recalls some helpful lore
    On a failure, the PC doesn't recall lore (which falls a bit flat since that is essentially "nothing happens")

    Perhaps better:
    On a failure, the PC doesn't recall lore and the enemy becomes offended at the PC's probing, if not somewhat confused, stare down. Enemy will gain advantage on next attack against PC.

    I know we don't have a specific example here but, in general, what might you do, @iserith?
    I think progress combined with a setback is good here - give them the info, but the monster gains an advantage as you say. That could be a situational advantage or just advantage on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.
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