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4th edition, The fantastic game that everyone hated.

Derren

Hero
This, I agree with.

I guess my point is, when about 25% of the Monster Manual is made up of these types of foes, it's probably not all that rare for this to come up. And, it's also not too much of a stretch to think of entire adventures made up of this 25%. The undead tomb. The trap dungeon that summons elemental defenders. The nature adventure where the plants are going to eat you. Etc. None of these are really all that far out of line of genre.

And where is the problem with that? Does the trap dungeon do not have enough "rogue worthy" challenges?
If the players tie their "fun" to how much damage they do so be it, but imo that should not be the basis of D&D which, in my eyes, is (supposed to be) a role playing game and not a dungeon crawl boardgame. And playing a role also includes reacting to situations where your PC is at a disadvantage. Sadly 3E enforced the "plan your character" gameplay which left not much room for the PCs to react to the campaign.

I find that the mechanical reinforcement (rewards) that each class has as part of their class features works wonders for the thematic applications of the game.

I find such mechanical stereotyping rather boring and limiting. Want to be a paladin? Behave like a paladin. How does a paladin behave? That depends on the setting, his deity etc.
Imo D&D would be much better served to remove the gazillion of classes/PRCs and return to the "grand 4" with lots of room for specialization and customization.
Or even "better" (except for the "sell books full of classes/PRCs for $" aspect), go classless and buy everything with feats including your attack bonus and spells.
 
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D'karr

Adventurer
I find such mechanical stereotyping rather boring and limiting. Want to be a paladin? Behave like a paladin. How does a paladin behave?

Interestingly enough my players don't seem to find the mechanics boring or limiting in any way. There is quite a bit there to choose from. With retraining and multiclassing even more.

The class writeup, and the power/feat selections the players make during their character's advancement reinforce the view of how their particular paladin behaves. The players have a wide range of selections, which are all thematically appropriate for the "general" view of a paladin. Each class also has thematically anchored builds. Each of those builds has common ground, and each has particular aspects that they emphasize. The players select it, and then they play it that way. Basically reinforcing their thematic decisions by playing to the "theme" of their particular build.

That depends on the setting, his deity etc.

If i wanted paladins in my "world" to not be thematically consistent with the "general" rules then I, as the DM, could come up with alternate powers/feats, etc. However, I'm not forced to do that with the general purpose paladin. There are more than enough options for players to choose from each of the builds and classes.

Imo D&D would be much better served to remove the gazillion of classes/PRCs and return to the "grand 4" with lots of room for specialization and customization.
Or even "better", go classless and buy everything with feats.

To each his own, but I think that classes work appropriately for what they do, and D&D works well with classes. YMMV
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Though I have to say that I'm not completely sold on the idea that 4E avoids de-protagonism. I think it's because I believe that you need to face desperate thematic choices in order to really be a compelling protagonist. If choice X is as good as choice Y, is it really a choice? I guess so, if the difference is a big moral choice... but I think the choice has a lot more weight if you're forced to think, "Well, I could do X, but I'm probably not going to get what I want; I could do Y, and most likely get what I want, but Y is horrible; so is what I want worth doing something horrible for?" I don't think 4E forces you to ask those questions.
4e as written certainly doesn't (generally - a few bits of BoVD aside) ask those questions when considering the selection of abilities for your character, but I'm personally far from convinced that's a good place for it, anyway. There is nothing stopping PCs taking "vile" actions and resorting to "evil" strategies.

"Choices" where one alternative is clearly practically optimal are only really choices if you agree that the "moral" or other type of difficulty that is supposed to make the "hard" option an actual option is actually a difficulty. You point it out, yourself, here:
There are other examples: "I wanted to play Star Wars because I don't agree with what Lucas had to say about anger and healthy ways to deal with it, but every time I try to express that point of view, I get a Dark Side Point and run the risk of losing my PC."
In other words, if a game system makes "evil" choices easier or more powerful, then the game system is, in effect, dictating what it considers "evil" to be. This will curtail (or at least impact) any exploration of what "evil" is in that game. You will be asking a question the answer to which has already been specified in the game world. You get to ask "so will you take this easy path labelled 'evil' or will you be 'good' and do things the hard way?", but you don't get to ask "what do 'being good' and 'being evil' mean, exactly?"

Sure, but what if there is no single "big bad". If one of the PCs is a servant of law and the other of chaos (and my game is heading somewhat in that direction) what common foe do they necessarily have?
One nice thing about the Law/Chaos axis is that there is always room for a "big bad", as Michael Moorcock pointed out. Extreme Chaos looks an awful lot like Law, for one thing; Orcus is handy from this perspective, since he wants to have total control for himself - something other "Chaotics" would really not want to see... Then there is always the "Lovecraft" option of stuff that just lies beyond all the "alignment" guff!

In short, if you want it to remain a party-centred game, I think you need to "situation frame" a Big Bad for the PCs to oppose. If they "ascend" post-Epic, after all, they look to be balanced at the moment - who might be opposed to that? Or whose purposes would be harmed by Law and Chaos working together? Ioun, maybe?
 

S'mon

Legend
I'm curious though... is this consistent with their class tenets in 4e? Nothing inherent to the Paladin class makes it a "valiant" archetype anymore... There are no longer any alignment restrictions for a paladin... and even the deity they are choosing to serve (if they in fact even do serve a deity) can't take their powers away anymore. So a paladin could be a self-serving coward if he wants too and still call on a "valiant" based power. I'm curious how people (mainly DM's) handle this type of dissonance that can arise in the 4e thematic play.

There's nothing in the 4e books that says a deity *can't* strip a Paladin's powers. But IMC it wouldn't even go that far. If the Paladin is not drawing on his Divine Power Source, he can't use any of his source Powers. If you want to Valiant Smite, you have to be Valiant, like it says on the fluff*. If you want to be a self serving coward, you better serve a deity of self-serving cowardice. And be a Blackguard. With different fluff.:p
This seems so obvious in the 4e system that it never comes up in play. I've never seen even a weaker player play a character at odds with the one described on his character sheet. The game strongly propels you into playing the character you signed up to play. The thematics and crunch are so strongly mutually supportive that it's just never an issue at the table.

*Thing about 4e is, you are roleplaying your character when you call upon your powers. Ergo:
Player: "I want to Valiant smite, but I reject Pelor and all he stands for, I am not being valiant, I am a snivelling coward."
GM: "Well then a Melee Basic Attack would be more appropriate..."
 
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S'mon

Legend
And Valiant Strike doesn't necessarily mean you /are/ valiant - that's just its name and one interpretation of its benefit. A thug-like antipaladin that acted more like a mob enforcer would still be thematically served by jumping into a crowd of his god's enemies, too.

I'd say it does. You can be an evil but valiant Paladin of Bane. If you want to be a cowardly thug, be a Blackguard.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I'm not sure what is so 'meta' about "Pelor grants me the strength to prevail when I assail my enemies." The character is quite informed of this, it is an actual element of the in-game reality, one embodied in rules as well so that the two are in harmony. Isn't it simply a straight up good thing when the narrative conceits and the game mechanics are on the same page and reinforce one-another? I'd think most game developers strive for that kind of thing.

Only that the defense of fighter dailies and the like usually comes down to "ADEU is meta and the characters aren't actually aware of it." Come and Get It represents character ability and opportunity. Previous editions do not wrap in that opportunity aspect, instead they only define things on the character sheet about the character itself. Its kinda like that in 4e, you aren't just defining a character, you're defining the character and to some extent scripting how things work around them. How much of each goes into any given character and their power set is probably quite variable.

I don't personally care one way or another. But I don't grant that its some special awesomeness of 4e's structure or mechanics (or a deficiency, either.) The narrative part "Pelor grants me..." is all but totally divorced from the mechanical part. The PHB even says its so. The narrative conceits are layered over/around/beside the mechanical functions, that is all. You can narrate it however you want, so long as the narration doesn't contradict the mechanics. Pelor's influence, madness, rage, whatever you want. To be clear, this practice is not unique to 4e, many people have been doing it with HP for so long they no longer think about it.
 
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Imaro

Legend
There's nothing in the 4e books that says a deity *can't* strip a Paladin's powers. But IMC it wouldn't even go that far. If the Paladin is not drawing on his Divine Power Source, he can't use any of his source Powers. If you want to Valiant Smite, you have to be Valiant, like it says on the fluff*. If you want to be a self serving coward, you better serve a deity of self-serving cowardice. And be a Blackguard. With different fluff.:p
This seems so obvious in the 4e system that it never comes up in play. I've never seen even a weaker player play a character at odds with the one described on his character sheet. The game strongly propels you into playing the character you signed up to play. The thematics and crunch are so strongly mutually supportive that it's just never an issue at the table.

*Thing about 4e is, you are roleplaying your character when you call upon your powers. Ergo:
Player: "I want to Valiant smite, but I reject Pelor and all he stands for, I am not being valiant, I am a snivelling coward."
GM: "Well then a Melee Basic Attack would be more appropriate..."

I am going to disagree... especially if someone goes to the CharOp boards and uses the advice and rankings there to design their character, you can very much end up with a character who has powers that do not necessarily "fit" his character.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Well, what about Fate Points or Bennie-style "action points" that you'd gain for acting in character? They're still meta, of course, but not in the sense that Valiant Smite is. VS is directly meta - you perform this action better under circumstances in which you act valiant - whereas Bennies/FP are indirectly meta - here's a bonus to later actions for acting valiant now. In fact, I've tried "importing" aspects from FATE into D&D, though I'll admit it takes a bit of player buy-in for it to work.

Yeah, I think better than FATE points and aspects, which cover some of the same ground as other existing traits in D&D, I'd prefer to import something like Awesome Points from Old School Hack. (plus spending AP, 10 IIRC, is how you advance.) OTOH, you could really simplify a lot of D&D if you dropped all the complicated mechanics for a FATE-like implementation of aspects, etc.

Gaining levels seems a dangerous proposition to me, and I dislike systems with anything but very coarse XP tracking - anything more than 3-5 XP per level just looks like accounting to me, and at that point awarding XP would be very close to awarding levels. :|

I was thinking you'd have something like the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game XP thing. So you'd have a "Paladin" chunk with actions worth 1, 3, or 10 XP, and a list of Paladin powers/items/events you can buy with them. Let characters keep two or three of them running (Marvel uses 2).

Either way would be a massive change to D&D, though.
 

Siberys

Adventurer
I'd say it does. You can be an evil but valiant Paladin of Bane. If you want to be a cowardly thug, be a Blackguard.

Well, for me anyways,"valiant" has connotations of being brave /and/ selfless, whereas a mob-enforcer paladin need only be brave. You see where I'm going? Cowardly Thug doesn't describe what I'm after, but neither does Valiant; I just need a divine warrior willing (and able!) to wade into a mass of the enemies of his god, regardless of whether his weak, yellow companions are.
 

The flavor and title of a power usually give much more "context" to the particular class tenets that a player wants to reinforce. When a player wants to focus on a particular aspect, he chooses that aspect. So the class molds itself very well, in fact reinforces being valiant because the player makes a conscious choice to be valiant (selecting the power). Rather than by an artificial, or external, enforcement such as alignment.

From what I read on the class writeup for Paladins it says:
They are indomitable warriors that pledge their prowess to something greater than themselves. Paladins smite enemies with divine authority, bolster the courage of nearby companions, and radiate as if a beacon of inextinguishable hope. Paladins are transfigured on the field of battle, exemplars of divine ethos in action.

... there's more in the writeup​

Their power selections all seem to embody that paragraph there. Valiant action, bolstering of their companions, and divine power.

Therefore, I believe that the class tenets as described in the paladin writeup are very well preserved, if not reinforced by all the mechanical trappings of the class.

The Essentials Paladin, the Cavalier, explicitly picks one of the virtues, such as Virtue of Valor, which gives you an initiative bonus, 2 extra HS, and the Valiant Strike power. You're WELL equipped to wade in. The Cavalier in my campaign once stood in the center of 5 significantly overleveled standard opponents and dished it out on all of them, managing to burn through something like 7 HS in the process, lol. It was pretty funny, but it did illustrate that the mechanics of that class work QUITE well to allow you to do what the class says on the tin.

Yes, technically a 4e Paladin could act like a coward and nothing mechanical would happen. So what? Your wizard can run around swinging a sword too... I mean why would you play that way?
 

Imaro

Legend
Yes, technically a 4e Paladin could act like a coward and nothing mechanical would happen. So what? Your wizard can run around swinging a sword too... I mean why would you play that way?

Because you're more concerned with surviving than livning up to the "paladin archetype" (and yes I have seen this type of thing happen in the encounters program)


Ok, weird, we're having the same discussion in two different threads.
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Yeah, I think better than FATE points and aspects, which cover some of the same ground as other existing traits in D&D, I'd prefer to import something like Awesome Points from Old School Hack. (plus spending AP, 10 IIRC, is how you advance.)

I was thinking you'd have something like the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game XP thing. So you'd have a "Paladin" chunk with actions worth 1, 3, or 10 XP, and a list of Paladin powers/items/events you can buy with them. Let characters keep two or three of them running (Marvel uses 2).
I find this a bit similar to what I wrote in response to [MENTION=81242]Lost Soul[/MENTION], above: if being "good" has a mechanical reward, are you doing it to be "good" any more? Systems like this tend to get players "optimising" them - and it's an area that I don't think benefits from that.

One aspect I quite like about Valiant Strike (to return to that example) is that it does what it does - you get good at attacking when surrounded by enemies. Does that make you "Valiant"? Or "Brave", even? Those are left as open questions to be answered in play. A name is just a word or two...
 

Pour

First Post
Because you're more concerned with surviving than livning up to the "paladin archetype" (and yes I have seen this type of thing happen in the encounters program).

I find that more realistic than anything. It takes a unique person to handle playing a character actually heroic. It not being baked into the paladin is kind of cool, or any class for that matter. The kind of holy warrior you're talking about requires actual choices and, yes, sacrifices. I'd wager most paladins really are just cowards or survivalists parading as something more. Some, like their players, fancy themselves pious, heroic, or wise, but a DM and keen PCs likely see them for what they are.
 

There's nothing in the 4e books that says a deity *can't* strip a Paladin's powers. But IMC it wouldn't even go that far. If the Paladin is not drawing on his Divine Power Source, he can't use any of his source Powers. If you want to Valiant Smite, you have to be Valiant, like it says on the fluff*. If you want to be a self serving coward, you better serve a deity of self-serving cowardice. And be a Blackguard. With different fluff.:p
This seems so obvious in the 4e system that it never comes up in play. I've never seen even a weaker player play a character at odds with the one described on his character sheet. The game strongly propels you into playing the character you signed up to play. The thematics and crunch are so strongly mutually supportive that it's just never an issue at the table.

*Thing about 4e is, you are roleplaying your character when you call upon your powers. Ergo:
Player: "I want to Valiant smite, but I reject Pelor and all he stands for, I am not being valiant, I am a snivelling coward."
GM: "Well then a Melee Basic Attack would be more appropriate..."

I agree with your experience. I've seen a few 4e PCs played against their standard type, but only CONSCIOUSLY as a planned character evolution. I think this is an area where the carrot is far better than the stick.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
I find that more realistic than anything. It takes a unique person to handle playing a character actually heroic.

I would also say that the Encounters program is not a very good measure to use as a gauge for that type of "world tie-in" conversation. Most players to Encounters will have very little "invested" into the character itself. Many will usually have been given a pre-generated character to use. Many don't even have a basic understanding of the thematic undepinnings of the class. To them a class is really just a set of stats printed on that pretty piece of pre-generated cardstock.

Take the same adventure and run your home group through it, with characters that they have created for long term play. You will probably see a very different take on the paladin. Someone that plays a paladin in a home game might have more "background" than simply a collection of stats. They might be more invested in the "concept" of the class.
 

Imaro

Legend
I would also say that the Encounters program is not a very good measure to use as a gauge for that type of "world tie-in" conversation. Most players to Encounters will have very little "invested" into the character itself. Many will usually have been given a pre-generated character to use. Many don't even have a basic understanding of the thematic undepinnings of the class. To them a class is really just a set of stats printed on that pretty piece of pre-generated cardstock.

Take the same adventure and run your home group through it, with characters that they have created for long term play. You will probably see a very different take on the paladin. Someone that plays a paladin in a home game might have more "background" than simply a collection of stats. They might be more invested in the "concept" of the class.

And I honestly think you are underestimating the number of players who get enjoyment out of having the most powerful build or being the last one standing and will select powers, feats, themes, and backgrounds based on this. I've seen plenty of threads on rpg forums where people are told to pick a background to get a skill they want that their class doesn't have or a bonus to a skill they really want to be good at (it's amazing how high you can get a skill if you're willing to pump stat, focus, training, racial, background, etc. into it... especially the utility you get out of something like arcana with cantrips) regardless of what the backgound actually is. I also find it strange that a whole sub-forum (CharOps) exists for this type of thing on the game's site, yet people don't believe it could seriously inform the creation of characters at the table...
 

Only that the defense of fighter dailies and the like usually comes down to "ADEU is meta and the characters aren't actually aware of it." Come and Get It represents character ability and opportunity. Previous editions do not wrap in that opportunity aspect, instead they only define things on the character sheet about the character itself. Its kinda like that in 4e, you aren't just defining a character, you're defining the character and to some extent scripting how things work around them. How much of each goes into any given character and their power set is probably quite variable.

I don't personally care one way or another. But I don't grant that its some special awesomeness of 4e's structure or mechanics (or a deficiency, either.) The narrative part "Pelor grants me..." is all but totally divorced from the mechanical part. The PHB even says its so. The narrative conceits are layered over/around/beside the mechanical functions, that is all. You can narrate it however you want, so long as the narration doesn't contradict the mechanics. Pelor's influence, madness, rage, whatever you want. To be clear, this practice is not unique to 4e, many people have been doing it with HP for so long they no longer think about it.

Yeah, IMHO though there has always been a lot of this stuff. PCs have had "once a day" abilities since time immemorial. Why in fact does the Cleric's god only grant him CLW a certain number of times and not enough times for the execution of his god's aims? MUCH of the game was always game, and gamist, and explained only secondarily in terms of the world. Much of the world itself was and is for that matter defined in terms of what makes a good game. At some level it is ALL meta. So I always found the whole concept that there was any deep dichotomy between 4e and 1e say to be at best HIGHLY subjective.

In any case the vast majority of the 4e powers that a fighter will have are easily understandable in terms of hitting things with weapons, albeit they can be somewhat fantastical. When you look at the activity of the character AS A WHOLE, there's not all that much 'meta' about the results at all, nor all that vastly different from earlier edition fighters (maybe its a bit more fantastic, depends on your style of play probably). Your level 3 fighter has a daily, at least one AP, several uses of encounter powers, etc all mushed together in a mix of attacks, hits, buffs, debuffs, crits, AP use, etc. If you reduce the narrative to its purely in-world form you can't tell that the fighter has a daily, 3 encounter powers, a utility power, 2 at-wills, and an AP every other fight on average. In other words it is a pretty darn successfully integrated meta. This is a whole mini-industry of 4e criticism that just baffles me.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I find this a bit similar to what I wrote in response to @Lost Soul , above: if being "good" has a mechanical reward, are you doing it to be "good" any more? Systems like this tend to get players "optimising" them - and it's an area that I don't think benefits from that.

In this system/idea, there would be similar XP paths for scoundrels and rogues, and just about any other type of character, and I wouldn't foresee restricting people to XP paths that they don't fit with very well. Been through three games and never used "Psion Sans Frontieres", go ahead and switch it.

I think Optimization is an expected result in any system which is composed of gobs of fiddly bits with differing numerical and mechanical effects combined with player choice. I can't say I see much in the way of benefits from it, although I'm also a fan of systems that just let you go ahead and be the hero you want from the start.
 

And I honestly think you are underestimating the number of players who get enjoyment out of having the most powerful build or being the last one standing and will select powers, feats, themes, and backgrounds based on this. I've seen plenty of threads on rpg forums where people are told to pick a background to get a skill they want that their class doesn't have or a bonus to a skill they really want to be good at (it's amazing how high you can get a skill if you're willing to pump stat, focus, training, racial, background, etc. into it... especially the utility you get out of something like arcana with cantrips) regardless of what the backgound actually is. I also find it strange that a whole sub-forum (CharOps) exists for this type of thing on the game's site, yet people don't believe it could seriously inform the creation of characters at the table...

OK, nobody is denying that charops exists and that it is possible to make stronger or weaker PC choices. At some level there HAVE to be more coherent and effective sets of choices if the game is going to promote any sort of themes at all. The ideal is to allow any archetype to be equally effective if it is built reasonably and to make the build process relatively transparent.

I'd just note, as I did in the other thread, that 4e's maintainers were willing to take a LOT of crap for sticking to their guns and pushing out errata year after year to try to insure that the game meets that ideal. I mean you can question how successful they were, but can there be ANY doubt whatsoever that the design goal was basic mechanical parity between class concepts? They got pretty close compared to other editions, and where you CAN trick things out you have to go to rather cheesy extremes that are hard to justify at all in any non-mechanical sense. Obviously you can play 4e as a war game if you want, but I don't think that needs to be discussed in a thread about 4e the RPG. It certainly seems to me that the approach of heavy-handed explicit restrictions used to enforce designer's concepts of characters as the alternative is far less palatable, at least to me. I think WotC agrees. I see no big rush to return to class and level restrictions and such in DDN.
 

*Thing about 4e is, you are roleplaying your character when you call upon your powers. Ergo:
Player: "I want to Valiant smite, but I reject Pelor and all he stands for, I am not being valiant, I am a snivelling coward."
GM: "Well then a Melee Basic Attack would be more appropriate..."

4e's subtler than that :) "I want to Valiant smite - an attack that gives me a power bonus equal to the number of enemies around me. Being a snivelling thug this is almost indistinguishable from a melee basic attack. But if I was actually valiant and waded right into the middle of the enemy, it would probably be +4 to hit - I would almost never miss." Valiant Strike, even more obviously than most 4e powers, is set up specifically to reward playing like a reckless maniac, risking his own life against impossible odds. (This also is why [MENTION=2518]Derren[/MENTION]'s "Want to be a paladin? Behave like a paladin." runs into trouble. Unless it's mechanically encouraged it can easily turn into "Behave like a paladin? Get in line for a Darwin Award to no positive effect.")

And that 4e is both balanced and has classes and powers set up to reward specific playstyles is the reason I think I've only once seen a PC mismatched with his class. (You were DMing at the time). 4e is balanced enough that even though some classes are slightly stronger than other classes (something impossible to avoid), playing a class within the right playstyle is always going to be better than playing a different class where there is a playstyle mismatch, whatever their theoretical ratings, with the only exceptions going to people playing more vanilla classes that cover the same ground (fire sorcerer actually being represented as a pyromancer wizard who minors in evocation, a Paladin being represented by a Fighter, and people going for the most vanilla of classes (the Slayer or the PHB Ranger) to minimise things to keep track of).

All of this means that in 4e it is almost certain that someone is playing a Paladin because they want to play a Paladin. It was entirely sensible for people to play am Unearthed Arcana Cavalier because they wanted to be the best fighter they could.
 

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