D&D 5E Combat as war, sport, or ??

Just for the record, on the topic of 4e popularity (and I was a fan) but the network effect of being the "official " version was not enough to prevent the previous version and later pathfinder from running it closer than probably any rival rpg in the history of the game.
if you went back to 1999 and somehow had the legal ability to continue support a minor update to 2e what would have happened
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
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.
Treating vox populi, vox dei with weight during decision making is absolutely a solid choice in design for a mass market product. Following that is something that needs to be tempered with things like vox dei libros sapienciales. In this case the latin turn of phrasing is particularly apt because they deliberately aimed for a razors edge that left the gm simultaneously at the mercy of both problems described in both 2e &1e books intended to impart wisdom upon GMs running the game & does so in a way that negatively stomps on a chunk of the combat as war <---->combat as sport spectrum.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Pretty much, yes.
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.
I do. Design it in the hardest-on-the-players/PCs manner, then provide options to ease it off if desired.
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.
Rarely is a player ever going to be on board with making the game harder. Remember that - just as with any game or sport - it's in the players' overall interests to make things as easy as possible on themselves (and, in this case, their characters).
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.
Thing is, there comes a point where the game - or any game or sport - can be ruined in the name of fun; that point being when it gets too easy to "win".

Consider world football, where a powerhouse like Spain plays a minnow like Andorra every now and then. Sure, the Spanish will think it's loads of fun winning 7-0 or 9-0 or whatever every time...but if the Spanish only ever played Andorra the game would soon become a farce from their perspective because it's just too easy. But from the Andorrans' side, knowing they're highly likely to lose in any case, they can at least find fun in it in other ways by trying to overcome the nigh-unbeatable challenge posed by Spain and taking victory from incremental progress as and when it happens.

And if Andorra were ever to win one of those games, how sweet it would feel.

The same principles hold true in D&D. If it's too easy to "win" - and by this I mean overcoming the various challenges posed by and in the game - then winning loses its appeal and becomes ho-hum. Ho-hum is bad, as it's a very short step from there to outright boring, and boredom with a game will kill it faster than anything else will.

Hence, the game IMO has to be set up to be challenging, and carry a real risk of "loss".
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
(That is, PF technically launched in 2009,
A bit more than 'technically', I'd say. I was at GenCon 2009 when PF launched, and after the first day you couldn't move five feet without bumping into someone holding (or reading) one of those huge honkin' PF books. Those things sold like hotcakes!
but didn't get the GMG out until June 2010, and only got its first supplement--Ultimate Magic--out in 2011.)
1e's DMG came out in 1979, a year behind its PH (1978), and that didn't seem to do any harm to things. :) Until then, people could use the 1e PH (and MM) with 0e or Basic rules; just like people could fall back on 3.x to fill in any gaps in the initial PF book.

And 1e's first non-monsters supplement didn't come out until 1985.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
this is another thing I don't understand... does no one in your group every say "lets do a hard game"?
Our game's already pretty hard, so if someone wanted it even harder that would be an eyebrow-raiser. :)

What I don't want...and I'm not sure if I'm an outlier or not on this; I can think of a few players who agree...is the game to get any easier.

It was another player - an almost-never-DM in our crew - who on the topic of PC lethality once gave us the quote "Dungeons without mortality are dungeons without life". That to me boils down to "no challenge = no fun", with which I very much agree.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Our game's already pretty hard, so if someone wanted it even harder that would be an eyebrow-raiser. :)

What I don't want...and I'm not sure if I'm an outlier or not on this; I can think of a few players who agree...is the game to get any easier.

It was another player - an almost-never-DM in our crew - who on the topic of PC lethality once gave us the quote "Dungeons without mortality are dungeons without life". That to me boils down to "no challenge = no fun", with which I very much agree.
Yep. An infinite string of "oh, look, we win again...meh" is about the worst possible style of game. Always winning is just as boring as always losing. That's why there's dice involved. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
this is another thing I don't understand... does no one in your group every say "lets do a hard game"?
Sure. I ran a DCC funnel with a group a while back & everyone had a blast coming up with creative solutions to everything along the way despite going through countless characters, I was able to do that because the rules are constructed in a way that allowed me to say "yea that's a cool idea" & let them have better (or even good) odds at something without needing to constantly look for ways to challenge them. Yes DCC funnels are an extreme example but so is 5e.

Going the other way I've taken the old iterative attack penalty from 3.x/MAP from PF2 & the old AoOs to use in 5e games before.... annnnnd..... Alice complains that it's not fair that it hurts her more than Bob because she makes lots of attacks & loses a bigger share of damage since he makes fewer but bigger attacks Bob gripes that it's not fair how he's uniquely impacted by AoOs in ways that Alice & Dave are not because he moves around more than them. Dave of course can't complain about SR only impacting him because expecting the GM to lift that bar & go through every spell is a bit much for "lets try", remember 5e was simplified so much to make it easy for the GNM to make changes.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Yep. An infinite string of "oh, look, we win again...meh" is about the worst possible style of game. Always winning is just as boring as always losing. That's why there's dice involved. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Hence why I recommend expanding the definition of what counts as "losing" to things other than "your character died, roll a new one."

This does, of course, require that the players be more invested than "absolutely ruthless mercenaries who exclusively care about money, power, and combat." If your players are unflinching and unrelenting hardcore murderhobos whose characters would sell their grannies if it meant getting a leg up or a quick buck, then there's probably no hope for a game focused on anything else. You may wish to talk with your players about whether their preferred style is a good match for yours. People talk all the time about how their players are super enthused to play and excited for doing what the speaker wants to run, and then turn around and talk about how limited they are and how much of a player riot it would be to change one little thing... it's very confusing and frustrating to discuss.

Just as not all individual players are a good fit for every group, not all DMs are going to be up for what the group wants to play. E.g. @tetrasodium has pretty bitterly complained about how their players treat them, to the point that I genuinely wonder why they continue to do so rather than just telling said players, "sorry guys, you want me to go somewhere I can't follow. I wish you luck, but I can't run what you want to play."

But if this doesn't apply to you, if you have players who aren't dyed-in-the-wool murderhobos 4 LYFE, then it is eminently possible (and indeed IMO a significant improvement) to provide stakes, consequences, and challenges where player character death is never on the table in the first place, or is a remote and unlikely possiblity. Hence why I have found it so baffling when people respond to my statements about this with cries of destroying the game and stripping away any and all meaning and making it so the players guaranteed always win 100% of the time so why even bother playing etc., etc. It's genuinely like DMs out there are incapable of conceiving that there could be stakes more interesting and relevant than mere survival; as if they believe that there cannot be things which (as Lewis put it) have no survival value, but which give value to survival.
 
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