D&D 5E Changes in Interpretation

Imaro

Legend
If you were actually discussing the design of the game you probably would not have objected when I said that the "rules" could have been explained better.

Obviously some, including myself, didn't have a problem with determining an appropriate use for those specific "rules". Obviously the intent of the rules was for them to be used as I've already explained them since that is how Rodney Thompson (one of the designers) explained them.

So at this point all you're arguing is that the rules were not as we "interpreted" them, even though one of the designers already said that they were. Which leads back to what I started with - that the "rules" could have been explained better.

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Maybe I'm reading The designer's statement wrong... But I'm seeing it as when you set the DC party level is the basis... Consistency says once a DC is set it should stay at that number... He doesn't speak to the use of encounter level, monster level or challenge level whatsoever... So maybe I'm not understanding your position here but that seems to support using party level to determine DC pretty strongly, do you disagree?
 

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Iosue

Legend
I disagree, monsters are not characters (yes, I know you can play a Treant Monk), they do not generally adventure and gain XP.
I'm a BECMI and 4e player, so I'm certainly not one to say that monsters should function just like characters. But to say that a recurring monster can't ever get better and stronger, especially if we're talking the length of time for characters to go up 5 levels, well, that's a little too metagame even for me. So, no, monsters don't get XP. But their whole lives are an adventure, so it seems perfectly cromulent to me that they can gain HD and improve AC. After all, somehow that BECMI Goblin King went from 1-1 HD to 3 HD, and likewise his bodyguards from 1-1 HD to 2-12 HP (with 2 HD combat abilities).

Let's say a wight is a HD/level 4 monster, it shouldn't conveniently be a higher HD/level to challenge the party, a wight should always be a problem.
I think that's something entirely up to playstyle, and has nothing to do with mechanics, 4e or otherwise. All the monsters in 4e monster books have one level listed, and there's nothing stopping a DM from simply following those levels, and never changing them. Likewise, if I want to stock my BD&D dungeon with a slightly stronger wight, there's nothing stopping me from upping it's HD and bumping its AC. Both options are entirely within the scope and spirit of the rules.

Speaking of perspective, have they made that remake of The Titatnic yet, but this time from the Iceberg's perspective?
Well, I thought we could have a civil discussion about this, but I guess not.
 

Using just DMG 1, tell me what indication, example, etc. was there that something besides party level was supposed to be used on the chart?

1: As you have agreed static trumps non-static. Static DCs are in the DMG 1.
2: Level = encounter level, which for Adventure Path play is based on the level of the party. Underlined by the XP for skill challenge rules and the fact no one would set all encounters to exactly the level of the party.
3: The tentative tone that the party's level is a good place to start, and the indication that you can vary it.
 

Iosue

Legend
Maybe I'm reading The designer's statement wrong... But I'm seeing it as when you set the DC party level is the basis... Consistency says once a DC is set it should stay at that number... He doesn't speak to the use of encounter level, monster level or challenge level whatsoever... So maybe I'm not understanding your position here but that seems to support using party level to determine DC pretty strongly, do you disagree?
It's using party level as a shorthand to determine DC. The idea is not that the world needs to be constructed according to the players' level, but that creating thousands of consistent possible DCs ahead of time on the chance the players might need them, or designing adventures with no thought to level at all tends to be more trouble than some DMs want to go through. Particularly if they are improvising, one of the presumptions of p. 42. So the idea is you only come up with DCs if you need them. If players are high level, some things that needed a skill check in the past don't need one now. Or they're not high enough for some other thing, again, no check is needed. The tables come in for those points in-between.
 

Imaro

Legend
1: As you have agreed static trumps non-static. Static DCs are in the DMG 1.

Right, I've already agreed with you about this one, but it's kind of a non-starter since you aren't actually setting the DC's if they are static.

2: Level = encounter level, which for Adventure Path play is based on the level of the party. Underlined by the XP for skill challenge rules and the fact no one would set all encounters to exactly the level of the party.

Yet, EVERY example of a skill challenge in DMG 1 has level = Party level.

3: The tentative tone that the party's level is a good place to start, and the indication that you can vary it.

This is about the only one I'd consider... and even it kind of falls apart when there are no examples of setting DC's not derived from party level (outside of static DC's of course) in the book.
 

Steely_Dan

First Post
!) I'm a BECMI and 4e player, so I'm certainly not one to say that monsters should function just like characters. But to say that a recurring monster can't ever get better and stronger

2) especially if we're talking the length of time for characters to go up 5 levels, well, that's a little too metagame even for me.

3) Well, I thought we could have a civil discussion about this, but I guess not.



1) I'm not saying they can't develop, I once threw a 10th level Orc Fighter against a player in a Solo campaign back in 1988 (but surely, every orc isn't a 10th level Fighter, conveniently; and sorry, for calling you Shirley), but your average ogre is not 15th level just because you are.

2) Opposite to me: monsters just happen to always be appropriate to the precious characters, not for me, thanks.

3) Well, we are, sorry for injecting some levity into the discussion; come on, I like to have a laugh, I thought we both could with that, no offence.
 

Iosue

Legend
1) I'm not saying they can't develop, I once threw a 10th level Orc Fighter against a player in a Solo campaign back in 1988 (but surely, every orc isn't a 10th level Fighter, conveniently; and sorry, for calling you Shirley), but your average ogre is not 15th level just because you are.
No, they are not. Not in any edition of D&D, including 4e. Monsters have set levels that do not change to fit the characters. DMs can choose to customize them to fit, if they want to.

2) Opposite to me: monsters just happen to always be appropriate to the precious characters, not for me, thanks.
Again, that's playstyle, not game design. You can play that way just fine in 4e. The game doesn't say all encounters have to be PC level-appropriate. Quite the opposite, in fact.

3) Well, we are, sorry for injecting some levity into the discussion; come on, I like to have a laugh, I thought we both could with that, no offence.
I like to have a laugh, as well, but that seemed to be snarking on my argument. Laughing at me, not with me.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
Right, I've already agreed with you about this one, but it's kind of a non-starter since you aren't actually setting the DC's if they are static.



Yet, EVERY example of a skill challenge in DMG 1 has level = Party level.



This is about the only one I'd consider... and even it kind of falls apart when there are no examples of setting DC's not derived from party level (outside of static DC's of course) in the book.

Isn't this "adherence" to the printed rules, and only what is printed, exactly what the OP was talking about on this thread?

I know it's been many pages so I'll repost.
Something I've noticed for some time now, is a very, very strong sense that people are no longer willing to apply any sort of personal interpretation to the rules. That if something is written in the game in a certain way, that way must absolutely be followed, must never be deviated from and must never be given a moment's introspection on how to make it work

Is this what people took from 3e? I know that the 3e discussions frequently focused on RAW, but, even then, there was usually a sense of "Well, here's what the RAW says, but..." That sense seems to have entirely disappeared whenever someone criticizes the way an edition did something.

I'm looking at the various criticisms of 5e, and particularly any 5e elements that smack of 4e, and I see it over and over again. But, it's also very visible in 3e criticisms as well. Yes, something like CR was wonky in 3e, but, it wasn't impossible to use. It took some work, but it certainly was possible to make it work. In fact, I spent some time collecting http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/200150-factors-affecting-cr-el.html . So, it's not like it can't be done.

But, why are people so steadfastly insisting that one and only one interpretation must be the only interpretation and rejecting any other interpretation that could work? Is it simply stealth edition warring? X comes from Edition Y and thus must never be seen again?

What happened to creativity and flexibility? What happened to looking at something and pointing out flaws AND offering constructive criticism?

I have to admit, I'm rather baffled.


Have we actually come to the point, as a "collective" of gamers, where a DM and players can't actually read the "rules" and figure out how they "best" work for him and his group? That the only "correct" interpretation is what the "book" says?

And even further, when the designers chime in with the intent of the "rules" there is still argument to the fact that "that's not what it says".

It's actually kind of sad.




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Maybe I'm reading The designer's statement wrong... But I'm seeing it as when you set the DC party level is the basis... Consistency says once a DC is set it should stay at that number... He doesn't speak to the use of encounter level, monster level or challenge level whatsoever... So maybe I'm not understanding your position here but that seems to support using party level to determine DC pretty strongly, do you disagree?

Rodney is stating:

1 - When the fiction is meant to challenge the PCs, then the fiction should be of requisite level in order to perform as a challenge to the PCs/party; eg. city of Brass doors/locks for epic level characters or Nobleman's doors/locks for heroic level characters.
2 - If number 1 is true then the DCs for challenging fiction will then naturally scale with party level.

This does not state that normal nobelman's doors are going to scale with PC through Epic tier. Just that when you comopose "challenging fiction" it should have "challenging DCs" that "scale with PCs" (logically). It (just as everything with 4e) is outcome-base simulation and top-down game engineering.

The engineering works like this:

- The interest is to create fiction for epic level characters (City of Brass complex lock)
- Consult table for challenging DCs for those epic level characters equals what.
- Marry the two by way of coherent, relevant fiction that "threatens" the PCs.

It is not saying that Bob the Nobleman's standard lock on his wood door goes from DC 12 to DC 40 as the PCs evolve in level. It says that PCs should waltz through Bob the Nobleman's home at epic tier because their check is + 35 and his lock is not DC 40 (its still DC 12)...but Bob is no longer a threat so the DC system is premised upon someone creating "of-level" challenges to the PCs. It is telling the DM's that if you want to "threaten" the PCs, here are your scaling DC's to do so. Pick the proper fiction to map it to. If you want to have Bob the Nobleman "threaten" the PCs...ok. But expect them to waltz in and take his stuff at their leisure as his wood door with standard lock is still DC 12. If Bob has taken up with an Efreeti overlord in the City of Brass...ok, now you have an "of-level" challenge; Here are your DCs.
 
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Imaro

Legend
It's using party level as a shorthand to determine DC. The idea is not that the world needs to be constructed according to the players' level, but that creating thousands of consistent possible DCs ahead of time on the chance the players might need them, or designing adventures with no thought to level at all tends to be more trouble than some DMs want to go through. Particularly if they are improvising, one of the presumptions of p. 42. So the idea is you only come up with DCs if you need them. If players are high level, some things that needed a skill check in the past don't need one now. Or they're not high enough for some other thing, again, no check is needed. The tables come in for those points in-between.

My point is moreso that the rules in 4e are that when improvising the DC for a challenge, one uses the party level (at least when refering to the DMG 1) as the basis. Now I get that once a DC has been set (whether by you improvising or by the cases listed in the DMG) it doesn't change... but that's after it's been set. The rules in DMG 1 pre-suppose one will encounter challenges appropriate to party level and thus those rules use class level as their basis and are, IMO, flawed. I actually feel that D'karr's fix is exactly what should have been used as the basis from the beginning... encounter level. It makes much more sense and doesn't lead to weird or inconsistent situations where the party runs into something that's not an appropriate challenge.

My secondary point was that instead of admitting these rules were flawed, 4e fans instead blamed those who used them, just as the book instructed them too when, again IMO, the rules themselves were flawed and should have had encounter level as the basis all along.
 

Imaro

Legend
Rodney is stating:

1 - When the fiction is meant to challenge the PCs, then the fiction should be of requisite level in order to perform as a challenge to the PCs/party; eg. city of Brass doors/locks for epic level characters or Nobleman's doors/locks for heroic level characters.
2 - If number 1 is true then the DCs for challenging fiction will then naturally scale with party level.

But using party level as the basis doesn't accomplish this does it? When using the encounter building guidelines, a 1st level party can have a range of encounters that include higher than level +2... yet when using party level as the basis for the chart for the DC's by challenge level in DMG 1, it confines the DC's for a first level party to those for levels 1-3 and on the other hand confines a 3rd level party to DC's between thise appropriate for level to level -2 challenges... This is the problem that arises when it is based off party level as opposed to encounter level.

This does not state that normal nobelman's doors are going to scale with PC through Epic tier. Just that when you comopose "challenging fiction" it should have "challenging DCs" that "scale with PCs" (logically). It (just as everything with 4e) is outcome-base simulation and top-down game engineering.

The engineering works like this:

- The interest is to create fiction for epic level characters (City of Brass complex lock)
- Consult table for challenging DCs for those epic level characters equals what.
- Marry the two by coherent fiction relevant to become a "threat" to the PCs.

It is not saying that Bob the Nobleman's standard lock on his wood door goes from DC 12 to DC 40 as the PCs evolve in level. It says that that PCs should waltz through Bob the Nobleman's home at epic tier because it is still DC 40...but Bob is no longer a threat so the DC system is premised upon someone creating "of-level" challenges to the PCs. It is telling the DM's that if you want to "threaten" the PCs, here are your scaling DC's to do so. Pick the proper fiction to map it to. If you want to have Bob the Nobleman "threaten" the PCs...ok. But expect them to waltz in and take his stuff at their leisure as his wood door with standard lock is still DC 12. If Bob has taken up with an Efreeti overlord in the City of Brass...ok, now you have an "of-level" challenge; Here are your DCs.

See and even with this example there are issues when using the rules in DMG 1... if the PC's go to explore the City of Brass when they are level 21 then the DC's they encounter will be based on a party level of 21... however if they return at level 27, suddenly anything that hasn't been established in their previous visit... has harder DC's. Yet, basing it on encounter level resolves these issues... All I'm saying that outside of presentation there are flaws in the actual rules as they were presented in DMG 1 for DC's by level.


EDIT: Manbearcat, I think you're example works when you use giant disparities like heroic vs. epic tier DC's but there's wonkiness when you are within the same tier and are exploring similar things and yet DC"s that haven't been pre-set continue to scale with party level... for some people (since I can fully acknowledge it a be a non-starter for some/many/most who play 4e.
 
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Imaro

Legend
Isn't this "adherence" to the printed rules, and only what is printed, exactly what the OP was talking about on this thread?

I know it's been many pages so I'll repost.



Have we actually come to the point, as a "collective" of gamers, where a DM and players can't actually read the "rules" and figure out how they "best" work for him and his group? That the only "correct" interpretation is what the "book" says?

And even further, when the designers chime in with the intent of the "rules" there is still argument to the fact that "that's not what it says".

It's actually kind of sad.




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So as long as you can houserule it... it isn't a flaw in the mechanics or design... let's just agree to disagree here. Again, at my table I use encounter level as the basis for determining DC's... doesn't change my opinion that the DC by (party) level as it was presented in DMG 1 had serious flaws.
 

But using party level as the basis doesn't accomplish this does it? When using the encounter building guidelines, a 1st level party can have a range of encounters that include higher than level +2... yet when using party level as the basis for the chart for the DC's by challenge level in DMG 1, it confines the DC's for a first level party to those for levels 1-3 and on the other hand confines a 3rd level party to DC's between thise appropriate for level to level -2 challenges... This is the problem that arises when it is based off party level as opposed to encounter level.

I understand what you're saying but I'm not sure if you're making this more difficult than it is.

I have always taken the advice to be pretty straight forward:

- This 3 number level range presupposes a certain mean acumen for PCs trained in skills that are being challenged; eg + 8 for levels 1 - 3 (this is off the top of my head)
- This number then becomes the assumed mean deployable resource to bring to bear against "of level" challenges for the group.
- With that Skill Bonus as the mean deploayble resource to bring to bear against an "of level" chalenge for the group, a DC of 15 becomes trivial, 19 becomes average, 23 becomes difficult, etc.
- Therefore, if I'm composing "of-level" challenging fiction that I want to be "difficult", then 23 is the lowest number I should be looking at for a target DC.
- Once this is done, "within the established fiction of the gameworld", this challenge (assuming it is overcoming a physical object that never changes - eg a lock) is then forever this number. It doesn't level or delevel with the PCs...unless I dictate that the fiction changes (eg; the nobleman hires a master locksmith to create a terrifically potent lock for his vault/door...then I revisit the DC).

So then,

- PCs are level 2. They have a Rogue with a + 8 Thievery check. I have a fictional situation whereby they are breaking into a vault. This is an "of-level" scenario (meaning its a 1-3 level fictional scenario). This is the vault of a mayor of a city and contains important contracts that would incriminate him in a political coup. He has taken great measures to safeguard these documents. I determine that this DC should be at least 23 (difficult) due to all of these facts. For Task Resolution purposes then, this vault lock is forevermore a Thievery check DC 23 to break into (unless something within the fiction changes its mechanics). If these same PCs come back later and break back into this same vault at level 20 with a + gazillion check, so be it...their Rogue does it while juggling chainsaws and eating a pastrami sandwich. But it won't be of-level any longer and not really an "encounter". Actually, it basically becomes mechanic-neutral "exploratory play" fiction...it becomes one of S'mon's (in another thread); "You are here. What do you do?"

or

- PCs are level 5. They have a Rogue with a + 10 Thievery check. I have an ad-hoc decision to make in improvising a scenario as they have broken into a place that I didn't anticipate so I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Maybe this is an orphanage without a lot of resouces. It seems logical to me that this is an easy, or less, DC (use easy DC, or less, on chart for levels 4 - 6 group). That DC is 16. I determine that this is probably even easier than that...that this isn't really an "of level" challenge (perhaps this would be easy for a level 1 - 3 group). I use the trivial DC of 15 for level 1 - 3 (fail only on a 4 or less). This will stay the same DC forevermore unless something changes within the fiction.

Again, these guideliness are just quick, adjudicative means whereby a GM can determine "of level challenge DCs at the trivial, average, and difficult range". I'm free to move up or down that if I feel it is "below level" or "above level" or if it is OMGMURDEROUSLY HARD. Its just a guideline to assist in adjudication of task resolution. Once mapped to the fiction, it doesn't change. It presumes that the DM understands what "of-level" means both logically and metagame-wise...as Rodney outlines in his clarifying advice (which I assumed was implicit...but perhaps not).
 
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One last bit on this. Take the first example:

Let us assume the formerly level 2 PCs are now level 21 and they decide to go back to the same town with the mayor who has the bank vault lock that was Thievery DC 23 to break into (for whatever reason of their own devising). Let us assume that they want to break into the vault of the guy right next door to the former mayor. The PCs have come up with this decision by way of some specific line of thinking detached from the current plot arc. Therefore, this is not something that we, as DM, have contrived for the specific end of plot continuity for level 21 PCs (meaning power players at epic tier play are not involved) nor to challenge the PCs with an "of-level" challenge. This vault is the exact same specifications as the one right next door (where the former mayor lived) that they broke into at level 2 (DC 23 Thievery). This vault lock doesn't all of a sudden become a DC 33 check in order to challenge the PCs. They don't have a "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead" moment and walk back and forth between the two vaults, "breaking down the 4th wall", randomly picking the vault locks and noting that "for some odd reason" these two exact same vaults are 10 DC difference in difficulty. They are the same vaults. Same DC.

Now, if we want this to be an "of-level" challenge to level 21 PCs...and there are "epic tier power players involved"...then we would make this a different, more potent vault lock system (reinforced magically or of significantly more complex engineering etc) in order for the PCs to be challenged. However, nothing anywhere says we have to meta-game around making this situation an "of-level" challenge for the PCs. It is up to us as DMs to responsibly compose our fiction and maintain our own internal consistency. These are just guidelines to create compelling, challenging fiction. Create the world according to our own interests. Make plot centered "of-level" challenges by way of these DCs and map the fiction (in scope) accordingly so it is internally consistent. Or make it a "below level" challenge or an "open lock whilst juggling chainsaws and eating pastrami sandwich" walk-through. There is no demand that the world is going to uniformly synchronize with our PCs as they move through it. We just have the means to properly meta-game our world-building when we want to challenge our PCs (and the fiction should then map to said challenge...both from an antagonist - Efreet Overlord - and infrastructure - CRAZY CITY OF BRASS VAULT OMG - perspective).
 

GreyICE

Banned
Banned
What shocks me most about this debate is how there appears to be an entire group of people who do not understand that simulationist gaming is not the only approach.

Page 42 answers the question "How do you design an easy/moderate/hard challenge for PCs of a certain level on the fly." It does NOT answer the question "What is an appropriate challenge level for 'Situation X.'" In fact the section is EXPLICITLY named "situations the rules do not cover."

So why are people insisting that they are the rules for covering certain situations? It's not. The table is not a table for difficulty of doors in the city of brass. It's not a table for the difficulty of stunting off a chandelier. It's not a table for discussing the difficulty of overloading an arcane crystal to cause a massive explosion. Because if it was rules for how to do that then THOSE WOULD NOT BE SITUATIONS THE RULES DON'T COVER.

4E does not attempt to simulate everything. They leave it up to the DM how to simulate the DM's world. Pg. 42 is a guide to how to challenge the PCs on the fly.

If the PCs go to the City of Brass at level 21, the DM might decide all the locks there are hard, for their level. Or he might decide that they're hard for a level 25. Or he might decide anything he wants, DM's prerogative. But with that chart he has the TOOLS TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS.

If the PCs later return to the city, the DM can choose to keep the old difficulties, or decide the locks have been upgraded, or whatever he wants. And he has the tools to do so!

It's amazing people can discuss how 4E disempowered DMs, and then complain that the rulebook gives the DM the power to set lock difficulties in the City of Brass however he wants rather than having an entry "Lock difficulty, City of Brass: DC 32" and then have the players with infinity system mastery complain that the DM has "screwed them" when he upgraded the locks so their Factotem skill monkey can't idly pick everything in the city.

Wait... I may have identified the actual problem...
 

Steely_Dan

First Post
No, they are not. Not in any edition of D&D, including 4e. Monsters have set levels that do not change to fit the characters. DMs can choose to customize them to fit, if they want to.


Again, that's playstyle, not game design. You can play that way just fine in 4e. The game doesn't say all encounters have to be PC level-appropriate. Quite the opposite, in fact.


I like to have a laugh, as well, but that seemed to be snarking on my argument. Laughing at me, not with me.


I can see this boils down to you digging on 4th Ed D&D more than me (so this could go on forever), totally cool, we'll leave it at that.

Removing the 1/2 level bonus from all character's and monster's Attacks, Defences and Skills makes a nice difference in 4th Ed, IME.
 

Iosue

Legend
I can see this boils down to you digging on 4th Ed D&D more than me (so this could go on forever), totally cool, we'll leave it at that.
No, actually this boils down to yourself making a weird statement about how monsters work in 4e. I mean, there's a lot of stuff I don't care for in 4e, and if you said you hoped that stuff wouldn't be in 5e, I'd be right with you.

Removing the 1/2 level bonus from all character's and monster's Attacks, Defences and Skills makes a nice difference in 4th Ed, IME.
See? Like this. I'm right with you on this.
 

Steely_Dan

First Post
1) No, actually this boils down to yourself making a weird statement about how monsters work in 4e.


2) See? Like this. I'm right with you on this.


1) Not weird at all, just because you don't agree does not make it weird; throwing 5th level monsters against a 15th level party in 4th Ed is pretty much totally ineffectual.


2) Helps with the above scenario.
 

Iosue

Legend
1) Not weird at all, just because you don't agree does not make it weird; throwing 5th level monsters against a 15th level party in 4th Ed is pretty much totally ineffectual.
I see we are arguing different things. I hope you enjoy whatever game you play.
 


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