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Convincing 4th Edition players to consider 5th Edition


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You are right to express your views, and have done so eloquently. There is a problem that whenever you get an 'edition war' scenario in gaming, the views get very entrenched and communication becomes impossible.

My perspective is that of someone who never bought into the 4th edition concept, that you have outlined here, but also didn't really go hell-for-leather over 3rd edition either. I guess you could call me an 'Old School' gamer, if you want a label, although I regard myself as more idiosyncratic than that!

Balance only really matters if you view the game in purely tactical terms. My first character was a fighter, and I enjoyed the simplicity of it. Other people want more options, which is fine, but I never regarded the class in terms of trying to balance it's 'powers' against Magic-Users. For me, Magic-Users are studying 'power' and so it is not controversial that they get to do things that Fighters cannot do. It is no more controversial than Fighters being allowed to use any weapon and armour, whereas Magic Users cannot.

The 'Balance' of earlier editions was largely contained in the notion that Magic Users start off weak, and take ages to level up. If a player survives the opening levels, then the pay off was power at later levels. On the otherhand, players who liked to roleplay would enjoy characterising their wizard with their own quirks and other aspects that wouldn't necessarily pertain to a tactical advantage, but was nevertheless fun to play.

The point when you say that no one character should dominate a scene relates solely to the notion that every scene is essentially a combat one, and that players cannot contribute unless their characters have powers. I refute this suggestion, as there are more things a character can do beyond special effects, and the more you define characters by powers, the less able players are of playing the game any other way.

Similarly, I don't actually want to play in a purely tactical game, where characters participate essentially in a 'team sport'. Sure, D&D evolved from wargames, but much of the D&D experience I had went way beyond that into more free form aspects of roleplaying. My feelings on later editions of D&D was that game designers wanted to regress the game back into a clearly defined tactical wargame (and largely ignore 35 Years of RPG evolution in the process). I don't roleplay in order to collect miniatures and play that type of game - not that I have moral issues against 'team work' or the like, but because I get my fun from other things.

For the game designers to say that they want to create an 'inclusive' game is not stating an unclear purpose. It's simply acknowledging that there is a bigger picture, in terms of the D&D fanbase, than the one that was apparently catered for in D&D 4th Edition.

Very well said. I think your explanation of balance in terms of pre-3.x editions is spot on.
 

Fair enough pemerton. I may have mistaken a statement meant to apply to 3e for a more general statement about flavor and mechanics. I am not going to sift through and double check but you are likely correct.

In terms of the dragon, i am not really a 3e booster and am not going to waste time checking my old 3.5 system about the dragon. What i will say about that system that i liked is there was a sort of sense to it in terms of size, abilities and types yielding some consistent mechanical effects. But i also dont think 3e excelled at believability (for other reasons).

For the wizard i really dont think having a spell book makes that much different
 

Fifth Element

First Post
I think it very much is. That's one reason I'm having problems with TwinBahamut's post. I just didn't choose to address that aspect of it.
Indeed. Using the fact that many people "hate" 3E as evidence that it's badly designed is silly. Many gamers "hate" 4E and AD&D and any other system you might care to mention. Gamers gotta hate sometimes, it seems. It's evidence of nothing.
 

TwinBahamut

First Post
If you're not throwing at least a bone to tradition and nostalgia, why push a distinct brand at all? Doing so becomes pretty much meaningless.

I would argue that you're the worst sort of market to target with any sort of trademark or distinctive intellectual property. So why should they try to point D&D in your direction rather than just come up with a different game entirely? Doing so and then slapping the D&D brand on it just weakens the identity of the brand.
There is a big difference between saying that it is bad to chase after nostalgia at the expense of good game design and ignoring the entirety of a brand's value. It is fine to make nods to tradition and it is important to build upon the past, but it isn't good to completely reject the new or to preserve clear flaws of past designs simply because the past as a whole is considered sacrosanct.

In other words, you are extending my comments beyond what I intended and are pushing things too greatly to extremes.

Also, I've got my fan loyalties, and regardless making attacks that I'm "the worst kind of fan" is just plain rude.

A game can be quite simple, but whether or not fewer rules are better than more depends on the design goals of the game. One Page Bulge has a lot fewer rules than Advanced Squad Leader, but they have very different design goals even though both may incorporate being able to play out the Battle of the Bulge.
Huh? Well, yeah, this is absolutely true. As I said, the quality of a game's design is based almost entirely on how well the rules suit the design goals. I don't know what you're trying to get at here...

You may be meandering here, but I believe you're also showing a very strange standard of game design quality. 4e is better game design because its target audience (3e haters) like it better than 3e? Isn't that kind of begging the question? 4e is better than 3e because people who came to not like 3e like 4e better? Then wouldn't PF (and by extension 3e if, as you say, PF is really not much about differences in design but in marketing) most likely be better than 4e because people who like 3e like PF better than they like 4e?
Again, I must say... Huh? You logic makes no sense. I'm not begging the question at all when I say that 4E's goal was to please the fans who had problems with 3E's klunkiness and lack of balance (and there were many throughout 3E's life), and that it did a great job of appealing to those fans. The rest of what you say is simply incoherent and nonsensical. I think you failed to understand my point.

I'll say it again. The quality of a game design is measured entirely by how well it pleases its target audience.

Frankly, I think your assumption of being able to objectively assess game design based on an aggregation of subjective opinions is faulty.
Do you honestly disbelieve the idea that objective measurement can be made of subjective thoughts and feelings? You do realize this means that you disbelieve in the legitimacy of statistics, polls, market research, psychology, sociology, linguistics, and medicine, correct? It isn't like the idea of measuring "fun" or "happiness" by adding up a bunch of subjective opinions is remotely controversial outside of places like ENWorld where people refuse to believe that game design is a real thing. People accumulate data like this all of the time throughout the world. How on Earth is it suddenly a questionable act when it comes to the tiny little world of tabletop RPG enjoyment?
 
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Tequila Sunrise

First Post
I'll ask again (as no one's replied from upthread) - what do you think the +39 natural armour bonus of a Great Red Wyrm means in the fiction? Clearly that number has been assigned not based on any conception of the fictional toughness of the dragon's hide, but rather to make its AC reach a level that is deemed appropriate for a CR 26 creature.
See also: Why bigger critters have better saves than smaller critters.

In every single edition, a bigger critter has better saves than a similar smaller critter, simply due to having more HD (or levels in 4e). It makes sense for Fortitude, but there's no obvious explanation for Reflex or Will. [Insert analogous TSR saves.] What's the fiction reason for bigger critters being better at dodging stuff and resisting mental attacks?

Of course we can rationalize it all we want within the fiction, but the basic purpose is balance. Bigger critters are intended to challenge higher level PCs, so they need better saves.
 

TwinBahamut

First Post
4E's target market is 3E haters? Isn't that kind of a false premise?
How is it false? The term "hater" is probably flawed, but the idea is true.

3E had a lot of problems for many people. Terrible balance, monster rules and math that resulted in requiring tons of prep work for DMs, heavy magic item dependancy, classes that suffered MAD, rogues being sidelined in any fight against undead, and so on. Even among people who liked 3E overall, there were countless people who complained about these issues throughout 3E's life. 4E was created based on the feedback from these people. If you look at the 4E marketing that some here consider offensive, which focused on 3E's flaws, you see that 4E was trying to answer these complaints and create a game that would more strongly appeal to people who wanted D&D to be balanced, easier to prep for, and so on. And 4E did accomplish that. The only problem was that WotC may have misjudged the extent of a fanbase that didn't have those complaints for whatever reason, and reacted poorly to many of 4E's changes.

Still, I won't disagree that some of discussion there was a bit meandering and only loosely thought out. Probably a bit biased by the fact that I completely believe that 4E is better than 3E as far as core mechanics are concerned, and I kinda hate Paizo's shameless ripping off of 3E to create Pathfinder (even if it was legal, it was still shameless). Probably best if we all just drop the discussion, since I probably need more time to come up with a more eloquent description of the whole thing.
 

Fifth Element

First Post
How is it false? The term "hater" is probably flawed, but the idea is true.
Indeed, and that's largely the point. But although people who are not entirely happy with 3E (which it is possible to be without being a hater) would have been a part of the target market, so would people who are happy with 3E. It would have been silly to purposefully exclude those people, because when you stop supporting 3E their money will stop coming in.
 

I am not a fan of pathfinder nor did I feel their management of dungeon matched my tastes, but i do not see what is shameless about making a game for a system that has an open license and making it a huge success. I didn't like their adventures but clearly lots of people did and they turned that goodwill into gold. Good for them. I think its refreshing. There is nothing wrong or shameless with what they are doing.


Much rather be gaming in this environment than one where T$R was filing shameless lawsuits against anyone trying to make an rpg.
 

TwinBahamut

First Post
Indeed, and that's largely the point. But although people who are not entirely happy with 3E (which it is possible to be without being a hater) would have been a part of the target market, so would people who are happy with 3E. It would have been silly to purposefully exclude those people, because when you stop supporting 3E their money will stop coming in.
I wouldn't call it "purposely exclude" so much as "didn't realize existed". 4E didn't lose a large chunk of the audience out of deliberate intent, it simply made the mistake in believing that the entire audience had the same priorities. 4E works very, very well for anyone who has the priorities and preferences that it caters to, much better than 3E ever did. 3E was a bad game for those people, and 4E is better for them. On the other hand, there are people who played 3E in a way that 4E's designers probably didn't expect or understand, and they fell outside of 4E's design goals.

The truth is that D&D has a very, very highly segregated fanbase. It's rare to find two groups who play the same way, and many of these styles of playing D&D are more or less totally different games that happen to share a few elements of a common ruleset. You can either make a game that will partially please all of them, or you can make a game that fully pleases a group of them and is useless to everyone else. 3E was the former (and was a clunky, poorly designed mess because of it), and 4e was the latter (made many people very happy and is well designed, but has more narrow appeal to the existing fanbase). I wish I could make a comment about which one worked better to appeal to people outside of the pre-existing fanbase, but there is no way I could get that data (I'd bet on 4E, but really can't prove it).

I suppose this is the whole root of 5E's potential failures and this discussion, though. The style of play 4E caters to is just a different game than many other styles of D&D (like old-school DM antagonism or improv no-rule no-combat play), and because 4E is more specialized, it will work much better than any other ruleset for that style of play. A 5E that tries to be something for everyone may never be able to create a 4E-styled experience anywhere near as well as 4E was, even if the designers put their heart and soul into making the attempt.

I guess this is turning more into an argument for multiple product lines or people just abandoning D&D for other, more specialized games than anything else. Maybe 5E's playtest has just crushed my hopes that a "D&D for everyone" can ever exist...
 

TwinBahamut

First Post
I am not a fan of pathfinder nor did I feel their management of dungeon matched my tastes, but i do not see what is shameless about making a game for a system that has an open license and making it a huge success. I didn't like their adventures but clearly lots of people did and they turned that goodwill into gold. Good for them. I think its refreshing. There is nothing wrong or shameless with what they are doing.


Much rather be gaming in this environment than one where T$R was filing shameless lawsuits against anyone trying to make an rpg.
I guess I'll just say that I'd prefer to live in a world where Paizo went on to create a much more unique spin on the D&D experience that significantly improved and innovated upon the game in a way that moved it away from either 3E or 4E and was still a success. I'll leave it at that.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Right, but are there any actual examples of systems that create monsters without any kind of flavor?

It's entirely possible to do in GURPS or Hero. The acronym TEM (Tire Eating Monsters) is a generalised description of an opponent or character thrown together without any flavour or rationale other than "I want it to do this".
 


Nagol

Unimportant
They didn't realize that people who like 3E existed? Didn't they have, like, sales figures for 3E books and stuff?

I think T.B.'s belief is the designers fell into an echo chamber/projection trap. They liked some thngs and didn't like other things. They are gamers. So obviously all the other gamers that like the current D&D will have the same likes and dislikes with the system.

The new system wil totally rock everyone's world because it is addresses all those dislikes in neat and interesting ways -- like moving D&D away from being a game about going through fairy rings, getting rid of that silly wheel cosmology, balancing all classes by building them on the same basic framework, and so on.

What do you mean some people liked it the other way?
 

Campbell

Legend
I'm not a fan of the hater language for what amounts to an economic preference. The players of 3e that expressed their discontent and helped to shape did not hate D&D. They just preferred different things than those that still play 3e and Pathfinder. Bringing emotion into what should be a discussion of slightly different economic preferences only serves to cut off meaningful discussion because it leads to people bunkering down. Liking different things does not make someone worse of a fan. Edition preference doesn't have intrinsic value. There is no moral dimension here.
 

LostSoul

First Post
I debated the fact that 4E's monster creation system has strong ties to monster colour or fiction with BryonD a while back.

It's easy enough to make a tough dragon who can breathe fire: make it high-level and give it a breath weapon. Making it a solo monster is another way to make it even tougher. But when you want to say, "It should be as easy to tag the dragon with a beam of light as it is to hit the side of a barn," 4E will let you down. Reflex is going to be high; I'm not sure what happens to player agency if you reduce a 27 Reflex Defence to 10 or 8, but I think it could cause problems.

3E does the same thing in places, with high saves and skills tied to HD, but there's not as much of it.

I think this has to do with the relationship between colour and the reward system in 4E. How the imagined content in the game changes in 4E as the characters gain levels isn't quite the same as it is in 3E. I am not going to pretend to have a good grasp of how this works in either system, but my gut says: in 4E the group defines the colour of their campaign as they play it; in 3E it's established when the campaign begins.

That's kind of confusing... let me see if I can clarify as I work this idea out for myself.

In 3E, climbing a hewn rock wall is DC 25. That doesn't change as the game is played (that is, as fiction is created, the game world is explored, and characters grow). Just because it's DC 120 to balance on a cloud doesn't mean that characters can't attempt it at 1st level; they'll just always fail. The relationship between colour and the reward system doesn't change over time: you know that, if you can score a DC 120 balance check, you can balance on clouds; a +1 to your Balance check brings you that much closer to success.

In 4E, I think the relationship between colour and the reward system changes: you don't know what it will mean, when you first start playing, to make a Hard Level 30 Acrobatics check. Which means that gaining levels doesn't have a defined relationship with what your PC can do in the fiction - just because your Acrobatics check has increased by 1, it doesn't mean you're that much closer to balancing on a cloud. I think the group needs to define that for themselves; as far as I can tell, this is supposed to arise organically through play, and go through major shifts as Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies enter the game.

*

There's another aspect to the difference between 3E and 4E: how you played the game. For groups who had the standard Fighter/Rogue/Cleric/Wizard party, and used Wands of Cure Light Wounds, and didn't let the Cleric and Wizard's abilities completely change the game (e.g. don't let them cast Geas/Quest on the adult red dragon), I think there wasn't much of a shift in game play. For others the difference is more pronounced.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
I think the issue with that as a point is that a lot of people were ignoring it anyway, so It did not actually come as a change.

Which makes me chuckle that a number of players want DDN to resemble most closely a game they didn't actually play. :)
 
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Incenjucar

Adventurer
In 3E, climbing a hewn rock wall is DC 25. That doesn't change as the game is played (that is, as fiction is created, the game world is explored, and characters grow). Just because it's DC 120 to balance on a cloud doesn't mean that characters can't attempt it at 1st level; they'll just always fail. The relationship between colour and the reward system doesn't change over time: you know that, if you can score a DC 120 balance check, you can balance on clouds; a +1 to your Balance check brings you that much closer to success.

In 4E, I think the relationship between colour and the reward system changes: you don't know what it will mean, when you first start playing, to make a Hard Level 30 Acrobatics check. Which means that gaining levels doesn't have a defined relationship with what your PC can do in the fiction - just because your Acrobatics check has increased by 1, it doesn't mean you're that much closer to balancing on a cloud. I think the group needs to define that for themselves; as far as I can tell, this is supposed to arise organically through play, and go through major shifts as Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies enter the game.

This is a common myth about 4E. 4E's DC chart is based on what would be a challenge for you at that level. It does not determine that everything you encounter will be a challenge for you at that level. An oak door is an oak door, but a DM who wants to make a door that is hard to break isn't going to use an oak door at level 24. Similarly, specific tasks often have a set DC. The DC to jump a certain distance does not change with level, nor does the DC to heal someone. The DC to cure a disease is determined by the level of the disease. The DC to hear a loud noise at a certain distance through a stone wall does not change with level.
 

Fifth Element

First Post
I think T.B.'s belief is the designers fell into an echo chamber/projection trap. They liked some thngs and didn't like other things. They are gamers. So obviously all the other gamers that like the current D&D will have the same likes and dislikes with the system.
I don't think we have any basis for a conclusion like that. Regardless, we're only talking about who the game was targeted at. If what you say were true, then they were targeting 4E at everyone, rather than only those people who disliked 3E altogether.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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