D&D 5E Combat as war, sport, or ??

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Sure but when the system insulates pcs from any needs and any risks both to such a degree it makes it difficult for the gm to provide any reason for pcs to care about the plots making up the plot based campaign.
I don't understand what you mean. Risks are what you make of them. "Needs" have always been deeply subjective; formally speaking, no character "needs" to gain levels or advance.

If the players care about the things in the world, there will always be risk. If they don't care about the things in the world...you already aren't playing the kind of game where this would be relevant. And the quick and easy trick to making a game people care about is to seek out and embrace the things that excite them. To say "yes," rather than "no."
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Wouldn't the heroic approach to combat contribute directly to the high deadlines? And the moderate to high resource scarity would work against it? These axes are not separate.
They can be separate, but that depends on another variable. How much does the DM adjust future monster strategy/tactics/power based on Team Player's strategy/tactics/power? The extremes of this variable being that the DM never makes adjustments - this would be the heroic approach contributing directly to high deadliness that you mention. However, the other extreme would be that the DM totally compensates for player strategy/tactics/power when instantiating and running his Team Monster and thus in this case players being heroic or wouldn't contribute any to higher deadliness. *Extreme might be the wrong word as I suppose one could also see an inverse relationship where the stronger the more strategical/tactical/powerful players try to be the more deadly the campaign becomes.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I don't understand what you mean. Risks are what you make of them. "Needs" have always been deeply subjective; formally speaking, no character "needs" to gain levels or advance.

If the players care about the things in the world, there will always be risk. If they don't care about the things in the world...you already aren't playing the kind of game where this would be relevant. And the quick and easy trick to making a game people care about is to seek out and embrace the things that excite them. To say "yes," rather than "no."
When I first started playing, the thing that excited me was running characters to see how strong certain mechanics were. There was nothing outside my PC and my friend's PC's that I valued more than my PC's life.

After quite a while I've abandoned that style and find the game more enjoyable but what I'm trying to say is that some players will not really care about any NPC situation in the game no matter how much you try to say yes.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
And the system has to allow those costs to exist.

Level loss, for example. Or unexpected loss of magic items and-or wealth. Or suddenly finding yourself 30 Human-equivalent years older. Or a long-term injury that forces you to miss the next few adventures while you recover.

0-1-2e had these, or close. 5e does not.

Death is about the last major cost left, which is why it comes up so often.

If you're thinking of plot-based costs, those only work well in plot-based campaigns. If the PCs are the sorts who are happy to let the kidnapped princess die instead of rescuing her, plot-based costs might as well not exist.
I think we need to draw a distinction between a system that allows such costs to exist, vs a system that doesn't include such costs in the default. I would say that 5e is a case of the latter, not the former.

You can absolutely make a monster that level drains, or ages characters, or destroys magic items. I'm pretty sure I've seen monsters that do at least some of the above in various 3p 5e monster books. Characters have levels, they have starting age and max age, and magic items exist which can be obviously lost (they're not baked into the level progression such that if you lose it you can easily recall/recreate it).

To preempt someone citing the Oberroni Fallacy, I don't really think it applies here. These are not things that are in any way challenging to add to the game. You're not reworking large sections of the rules to make it work. It's literally an extra feature that slots into any monster.

Dreadful Drain (modifies an existing attack)
When this attack hits a living creature, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC whatever you deem fit) or lose a level, dropping their XP to just enough to be their new level.

Dreadful Rust Monster
This rust monster's attacks can damage and destroy magical items.

Dreadful Aging (modifies an existing ability)
When a creature fails its saving throw against this ability, it ages 1d10 (or whatever you prefer) years. If this would take them above their maximum age limit, they die.

If the complaint is rather, as I've often seen on these boards, that the players don't want to have these effects in the game, then that's a whole other ball of wax. That isn't an effect that isn't allowed, but one that the designers opted not to include by default, because it wasn't something many players enjoyed.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
This is why I think that much of this is at a meta level. The players and DM have to agree and buy into the games style and aesthetic.
"just rework all of the math to force the system to make room for the needs 5e deemed badwrongfun"...
Too Little Treasure
In the case of a tight-fisted DM, the most obvious signs
that the players are not having fun are frustration, cynicism,
and low expectations. If the characters are not finding trea-
sures commensurate to the risks they took, the players are
going to wonder if all the effort of playing is really worth it.
They become frustrated when, upon solving a devious trap,
they discover a pittance, or nothing at all.
Their cynicism shows as they start to make snide remarks
about the level of rewards they have received or are likely to
get for future efforts. Finally, they just begin to expect less and
less from the DM’s campaign, until it reaches the point where
they expect nothing and they go home! In such a campaign,
the DM may have a fine time, creating detailed settings and
elaborate adventures. But if he does not have the enthusiasm
of his players, there isn’t much point in playing.
Such a campaign can succeed if there are other rewards
that involve the players in the game. Perhaps there are ample
opportunities for character advancement or personality devel-
opment. The characters may have the opportunity to play a
decisive role in world affairs. These things are possible, but

only a DM of extraordinary skill can overcome the drawbacks
he has created.
Fortunately, the problems of too little treasure are easily
fixed—simply introduce more treasure into the campaign. No
adjustments need to be made to the characters. The trea-
sures available in the game world can be increased without
the players even aware that the change has been effected.
-115​
It's a problem once documented & the cherry on top is that the player facing text for 5e almost goes out of its way to downplay the very idea that the gm might exist for anything other than life support for your character & your story now that you as a player are free from actually needing anything that might lead to adventure.

I don't understand what you mean. Risks are what you make of them. "Needs" have always been deeply subjective; formally speaking, no character "needs" to gain levels or advance.

If the players care about the things in the world, there will always be risk. If they don't care about the things in the world...you already aren't playing the kind of game where this would be relevant. And the quick and easy trick to making a game people care about is to seek out and embrace the things that excite them. To say "yes," rather than "no."
I won't speak for 4e but the PCs absolutely had needs that they required from the gm in prior editions. Without those being met they would simply become ineffective... get killed... or both. Players knew or quickly learned that & filling those needs was a major goal for any PC.

Back in 2e this was accomplished through a combination of a much higher lethality & quite a few monsters that required weapons with at least a certain amount of magic. This created a need for both magical gear & lots of consumables. For example 5e was not the first edition to have potions buyable eitherIn addition, a potion requires a number of mundane ingredients. The basic cost of these ingredients ranges from 200 to 1,000 gp. The DM should decide this based on how common the potion is, its power, and the nature of the ingredients he has specified. A potion of dragon control is a rare item of great power and so should cost the full 1,000 gp. A potion of healing is a fairly necessary item, something the DM may want to be readily available to the characters. Therefore, it should be cheap, costing no more than 200 gp.(dmg119) It's just the first edition that tried to do it in a way that was trivial at all levels and presented as a thing beyond the setting & GM's influence.

Back in 3.x there was magic item churn baked right into the system's math where players were expected to have some combination of +n weapons +2/+4 attrib gear & likely +N armor at various breakpoint levels or like before they would become ineffective.. get killed... or both. With the addition of things like the need for weapons & sometimes armor that was silvered ghost touch aligned & so forth a particular monster (or even adventure) could jump tracks to a whole new cycle of equipment churn if players became too powerful off gear. If the GM felt it needed they could even make use of conflicting bonus types & conflicting body slots to provide equipment that offers sidegrades rather than upgrades

Now in 5e. Potions are presented as being equally available as glass bottles an iron pot or a sheet of parchment & not that much more expensive. Magic items are totally optional with none of the math expecting them & if players get a magic weapon it's pretty much one & done for the campaign's life on that need unless they happen to find one objectively better than the one they didn't need to begin with. Filling those needs is no longer a thing that can be incentives linked to the plot. The PCs are so extremely durable that lethality is really not even a concern any more either.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
"just rework all of the math to force the system to make room for the needs 5e deemed badwrongfun"...
Too Little Treasure
In the case of a tight-fisted DM, the most obvious signs
that the players are not having fun are frustration, cynicism,
and low expectations. If the characters are not finding trea-
sures commensurate to the risks they took, the players are
going to wonder if all the effort of playing is really worth it.
They become frustrated when, upon solving a devious trap,
they discover a pittance, or nothing at all.
Their cynicism shows as they start to make snide remarks
about the level of rewards they have received or are likely to
get for future efforts. Finally, they just begin to expect less and
less from the DM’s campaign, until it reaches the point where
they expect nothing and they go home! In such a campaign,
the DM may have a fine time, creating detailed settings and
elaborate adventures. But if he does not have the enthusiasm
of his players, there isn’t much point in playing.
Such a campaign can succeed if there are other rewards
that involve the players in the game. Perhaps there are ample
opportunities for character advancement or personality devel-
opment. The characters may have the opportunity to play a
decisive role in world affairs. These things are possible, but

only a DM of extraordinary skill can overcome the drawbacks
he has created.
Fortunately, the problems of too little treasure are easily
fixed—simply introduce more treasure into the campaign. No
adjustments need to be made to the characters. The trea-
sures available in the game world can be increased without
the players even aware that the change has been effected.
-115​
It's a problem once documented & the cherry on top is that the player facing text for 5e almost goes out of its way to downplay the very idea that the gm might exist for anything other than life support for your character & your story now that you as a player are free from actually needing anything that might lead to adventure.


I won't speak for 4e but the PCs absolutely had needs that they required from the gm in prior editions. Without those being met they would simply become ineffective... get killed... or both. Players knew or quickly learned that & filling those needs was a major goal for any PC.

Back in 2e this was accomplished through a combination of a much higher lethality & quite a few monsters that required weapons with at least a certain amount of magic. This created a need for both magical gear & lots of consumables. For example 5e was not the first edition to have potions buyable eitherIn addition, a potion requires a number of mundane ingredients. The basic cost of these ingredients ranges from 200 to 1,000 gp. The DM should decide this based on how common the potion is, its power, and the nature of the ingredients he has specified. A potion of dragon control is a rare item of great power and so should cost the full 1,000 gp. A potion of healing is a fairly necessary item, something the DM may want to be readily available to the characters. Therefore, it should be cheap, costing no more than 200 gp.(dmg119) It's just the first edition that tried to do it in a way that was trivial at all levels and presented as a thing beyond the setting & GM's influence.

Back in 3.x there was magic item churn baked right into the system's math where players were expected to have some combination of +n weapons +2/+4 attrib gear & likely +N armor at various breakpoint levels or like before they would become ineffective.. get killed... or both. With the addition of things like the need for weapons & sometimes armor that was silvered ghost touch aligned & so forth a particular monster (or even adventure) could jump tracks to a whole new cycle of equipment churn if players became too powerful off gear. If the GM felt it needed they could even make use of conflicting bonus types & conflicting body slots to provide equipment that offers sidegrades rather than upgrades

Now in 5e. Potions are presented as being equally available as glass bottles an iron pot or a sheet of parchment & not that much more expensive. Magic items are totally optional with none of the math expecting them & if players get a magic weapon it's pretty much one & done for the campaign's life on that need unless they happen to find one objectively better than the one they didn't need to begin with. Filling those needs is no longer a thing that can be incentives linked to the plot. The PCs are so extremely durable that lethality is really not even a concern any more either.
I am not sure what you are trying to tell me here. I can see that system will impact of the practicality of certain aesthetics of play but that does not preclude their existence, nor does it prevent a discussion in a group as to their preferences.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I am not sure what you are trying to tell me here. I can see that system will impact of the practicality of certain aesthetics of play but that does not preclude their existence, nor does it prevent a discussion in a group as to their preferences.
The post you quoted had a reply to two people with a similar connected point if you only see one. Also Here is the entire page, seeing it with surrounding contrast might help. The pitfalls of not having enough or too much treasure in the game were both known and documented in printed d&d books years prior to 5e yet 5e was designed in a way that creates a situation where the PCs don't actually need any treasure and the GM immediately provides too much if they provide any treasure that matters. That's a situation that sets up the GM for problems before there can even be the often repeated solution in the 5e era of a "discussion". Do you not agree that the system should bear some responsibility of providing the gm a solid foundational footing for that "discussion" rather than designing so they are thrown to the bottom of a hole that seems to have been written about at least as early as april 1995 based on the 2e dmg publication date on page 2?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think we need to draw a distinction between a system that allows such costs to exist, vs a system that doesn't include such costs in the default. I would say that 5e is a case of the latter, not the former.

You can absolutely make a monster that level drains, or ages characters, or destroys magic items. I'm pretty sure I've seen monsters that do at least some of the above in various 3p 5e monster books. Characters have levels, they have starting age and max age, and magic items exist which can be obviously lost (they're not baked into the level progression such that if you lose it you can easily recall/recreate it).

To preempt someone citing the Oberroni Fallacy, I don't really think it applies here. These are not things that are in any way challenging to add to the game. You're not reworking large sections of the rules to make it work. It's literally an extra feature that slots into any monster.
Oh, sure, you can add these things back in.
Dreadful Drain (modifies an existing attack)
When this attack hits a living creature, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC whatever you deem fit) or lose a level, dropping their XP to just enough to be their new level.

Dreadful Rust Monster
This rust monster's attacks can damage and destroy magical items.

Dreadful Aging (modifies an existing ability)
When a creature fails its saving throw against this ability, it ages 1d10 (or whatever you prefer) years. If this would take them above their maximum age limit, they die.
I'd forogtten about Rust Monsters - for item destruction I was thinking of items needing saves vs AoE damage when the bearer's save fails. That's by far the most common destroyer of items IME.
If the complaint is rather, as I've often seen on these boards, that the players don't want to have these effects in the game, then that's a whole other ball of wax. That isn't an effect that isn't allowed, but one that the designers opted not to include by default, because it wasn't something many players enjoyed.
And the designers not including them, even as optionals, strongly implies they're not allowed at least by RAW; meaning any 5e or 5e-adjacent DM who wants to put them back in is put in a position of - quite rightly - being flayed by his players for doing so.

Better, I think, if those sorts of nasty things had all been baked in as RAW, with their removal being given as optional in the DMG. That way, the DM looks like the "good guy" if they're removed and can't be faulted for leaving them in as that's what the base RAW says to do.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Oh, sure, you can add these things back in.

I'd forogtten about Rust Monsters - for item destruction I was thinking of items needing saves vs AoE damage when the bearer's save fails. That's by far the most common destroyer of items IME.

And the designers not including them, even as optionals, strongly implies they're not allowed at least by RAW; meaning any 5e or 5e-adjacent DM who wants to put them back in is put in a position of - quite rightly - being flayed by his players for doing so.

Better, I think, if those sorts of nasty things had all been baked in as RAW, with their removal being given as optional in the DMG. That way, the DM looks like the "good guy" if they're removed and can't be faulted for leaving them in as that's what the base RAW says to do.
To me this is like instituting roll 3d6 in order as the default method, just so that I can be the "good guy" when I say that's silly and go with 4d6, arrange as desired.

I certainly don't want that or consider it beneficial.

I don't think WOTC should be designing the game around the idea of making excuses for DMs who want to force things on their players that aren't fun for the players.

If you have a group that find 3d6 in order fun, there's no need to make WOTC your scapegoat, because the players already want that. You're not a "bad guy" if you house rule 4d6 to 3d6, because your players are on board.

If they don't find it fun, I don't think it would help that much, assuming there's a significant DIY culture (which has always existed) out there who have decided to use the 4d6 method instead. The DM who uses 3d6 would still be the "bad guy" who doesn't use the "better" rules that "everyone" else house rules. IMO, you'd also have a ruleset that oriented to best serving a smaller percentage of the community.

Back in the days of 2e, I know lots of players who would complain if the DM wanted to use Method 1 for rolling stats. It being the default method in the PHB didn't stop players from getting upset, and I don't recall a single DM I played with who insisted on its use long term.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The post you quoted had a reply to two people with a similar connected point if you only see one. Also Here is the entire page, seeing it with surrounding contrast might help. The pitfalls of not having enough or too much treasure in the game were both known and documented in printed d&d books years prior to 5e yet 5e was designed in a way that creates a situation where the PCs don't actually need any treasure and the GM immediately provides too much if they provide any treasure that matters. That's a situation that sets up the GM for problems before there can even be the often repeated solution in the 5e era of a "discussion". Do you not agree that the system should bear some responsibility of providing the gm a solid foundational footing for that "discussion" rather than designing so they are thrown to the bottom of a hole that seems to have been written about at least as early as april 1995 based on the 2e dmg publication date on page 2?
Sorry about the delay in this response, I got distracted by other things. I do accept that a games design can pull or push toward a particular aesthetic of play and 5e is strongly influenced by the fact that the designers have to design a working game where the mechanics are somewhat subject to a popularity contest.
However, while we lack specific data on what the playerbase favours the continuing popularity of the official version of D&D is a measure of what styles are favoured. If WoTC's game is still popular, in say, 4 or 5 years time, then design by popularity is a successful strategy and the playstyles that are most popular are the ones where (official) D&D does not fight back.

Though I am not sure we can glean anything more out of this conversation at this point in time.
 

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