CRs/ELs -- apparently the designers don't read the rules they talk about (old thread)

Nifft

Penguin Herder
hexgrid said:
And I'm going to take an even wilder stab and say that Mike Mearls has read, and does in fact understand, 3e rules.
Careful now, you're edging into probable assertion territory!

Cheers, -- N
 

log in or register to remove this ad

cougent

First Post
wedgeski said:
These guys aren't playtesting their ability to roleplay, they're playtesting the *rules*.
When they can't even get *that* right as the OP pointed out, I think it casts doubts on everything thereafter.
 

Zurai

First Post
Beginning of the End said:
Maybe for illiterates.

The rest of us read the DMG, in which the second paragraph in the section on "Challenge Ratings and Encounter Levels" talked about parties with more than four members in them. We also noticed the large and conspicuous "Table 4-2: Encounter Difficulty", which clearly laid out the fact that a 1st level party would be facing more than just EL 1 challenges.

Pretty ironic for you to accuse MerricB of being illiterate when you very plainly did not read what you quoted. He specifically said more than 4 MONSTERS and here you are prattling on about more than 4 people in the PC party.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
In my experience, not all CR/ELs are created equal.

Fine example, for at least 3.0:
Carrion Crawler: CR 4.
3 Carrion Crawlers: EL 7.

I sent a 7th level party (Two clerics, wizard, Fighter/Ranger) against three carrion crawlers. TPK by the fourth round.
+8 tentacle attacks at +3 a piece = on average 3 hitting AC. That means one must make 3 saving throws in a row, per round.

(Incidentally, with some clever DMing I managed to save the party without anyone being eaten.)

Same Party, two encounters later:
Necromancer 11: CR 11.

On the third round, the necro is hit with a Phantasmal Killer, fails both saves. Dies.
 
Last edited:

Rechan

Adventurer
Devyn said:
Now this is just my opinion, but I believe the point that the "jerks" were making is that if WotC developers are going to use examples of how badly the 3E rules work in order to promote the "improvements" that they are making with 4E, that they might want to make certain to use the actual rules.

I realize that 3E bashing appears to be in vogue right now among many 4E supporters, but for some D&D players who actually like 3E, that attitude is getting rather stale.

Just an opinion.

Suggesting that there are flaws in the system = Bashing 3e?

"Bill, thanks for letting me borrow your car. But when I drive it, the front in vibrates and there's a knocking sound in the engine."
"STOP BASHING MY CAR, MAN!"
"But I'm just letting you know there's something wrong wit-"
"I enjoy this car! So what if it has flaws!"

If they aren't going to "Bash" 3E, then how do you propose they explain why they're changing something? And when they don't explain Why because "Then they're bashing 3e", other posters will start yelling "They're doing it without reason! It's just Change for Change's Sake!"
 
Last edited:

Spatula

Explorer
The point is, the article's premise is based around factual errors.
Rechan said:
If they aren't going to "Bash" 3E, then how do you propose they explain why they're changing something?
Telling the truth would help. 3E has plenty of flaws, but the CR/EL system doesn't work the way the author seems to think it does.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Spatula said:
The point is, the article's premise is based around factual errors.
So it's not "Bashing", just having flawed math?

Telling the truth would help. 3E has plenty of flaws, but the CR/EL system doesn't work the way the author seems to think it does.
When you say "Tell the truth", do you mean that Mearls is lieing, or just mistaken? You yourself says it doesn't work "the author seems to think it does"?
 

Jhaelen

First Post
Spatula said:
The point is, the article's premise is based around factual errors.
I don't agree. I think the factual errors are not important enough to invalidate the point he's trying to make. It doesn't really matter if a goblin has CR 1/3 or 1/4.

Errors like this are absolutely typical for game designers because they confuse earlier (beta)versions of game rules with the ones that actually made it in the books. That's also the reason why we so often see wrong explanations in columns like 'sage advice'.

For Mr. Mearls 4E has already become the current edition for a long time, I don't think it's surprising if he gets a few (minor) things about the 'old' edition wrong.
Spatula said:
Telling the truth would help. 3E has plenty of flaws, but the CR/EL system doesn't work the way the author seems to think it does.
The only thing you could accuse him of is the lie of omission.
I also had the impression that the point he's arguing is more from the perspective of a typical gamer than his personal perspective. How often have you seen threads asking questions about EL/CR or noticed people not knowing about that encounter table in the DMG?
I've seen dozens which means there probably have been hundreds or even thousands.

And as a concluding comment: Even if it's not a problem you've ever had in _your_ game, it might still be a good idea to make changes, so there will be fewer games over all that did have problems with it.
 

delericho

Legend
Rechan said:
Suggesting that there are flaws in the system = Bashing 3e?

The thing is, while there are flaws in the CR/EL system, they aren't the flaws that Mike Mearls is talking about. He'd have been on much stronger ground if he'd commented about lone spellcasters being too weak for their CR, especially if they don't get time to prepare, or the difficulties of assigning CRs to powerful creatures generally, or what have you.

Heck, he could even have not talked about flaws in the system at all, but instead contrasted the "party vs one monster" style of 3e with the "party vs many monsters" style of 4e, and said that, on balance, the designers found the latter more fun.

Jhaelen said:
Errors like this are absolutely typical for game designers because they confuse earlier (beta)versions of game rules with the ones that actually made it in the books. That's also the reason why we so often see wrong explanations in columns like 'sage advice'.

Very true. Although I might be tempted to suggest that, when writing something like "Sage Advice", a designer who knows his memory might be tainted by 'beta knowledge' should probably check the actual rules before posting from memory. Sage Advice is worse than useless if it is wrong more than about 1% of the time.
 

I should clarify

I do think there's too much 3E bashing by the current 4E developers.

That said, this thread has prompted me to think about why I wrote what I posted.

I'm pleased that Mike Mearls is on the 4E team. Of everyone there, he's the person I have the most confidence in. It isn't really his comments that upset me, and it's pure coincidence that I wrote what I wrote in response to one of his articles.

The thing is, there are some other people on the 4E team, who I have way .less confidence in, mostly because their names are on the spines of 3E books that I bought then regretted purchasing, or simply because I don't think they have a sufficient 3E track record for me to evaluate them as a designer.

And when they tell me that D&D needs a radical change because 3E has too many problems, I

1) disagree

and

2) don't trust them to implement that change wisely.

I think we can all agree that 3E is in far better shape as a system than 2E was a decade ago. Yet, the 3E->4E changes being proposed seem just as radical as 2E->3E was.

Ken
 

Vigilance

Explorer
Haffrung Helleyes said:
I think we can all agree that 3E is in far better shape as a system than 2E was a decade ago. Yet, the 3E->4E changes being proposed seem just as radical as 2E->3E was.

It's a new edition.

Too much is better than too little.

Look at 2e for an example of an edition that was often afraid of change on the grounds that "the game is pretty damn good as it is".

And you know what? It was.

As Diaglo is fond of reminding us, OD&D was a great game, so was 1e, and 2e and 3e.

Not making changes because the game is already good is a ticket to never taking a shot at improving things.

Trying to improve something ALWAYS runs the risk of making it worse. But the designers should try, because every edition of the game has been great on its own merits, despite some of us having a preference for one edition or another.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Jhaelen said:
The only thing you could accuse him of is the lie of omission.

I think this what bugs me the most. I think Mike Mearls's work has been great, for the most part, at least what I've seen. And he seems to think about things a lot. But suggesting that the only appropriate encounters for a first level party are EL 1 is just, well, wrong, and it's right there in the DMG. And published adventures, etc. I imagine that he and others at WotC have been told to "make the most of 3e's flaws" or so, but it's a bit irritating that they've taken to misrepresenting the 3e rules to do it. It doesn't really help to educate the gaming public...
 

mmu1

First Post
I'm not trying to name-drop (in fact, I'm definitely not going to, because of my sometime tendency to stick my foot in my mouth - I wouldn't want my opinions to reflect on anyone else), but I've played with, or in the games run by, several people who are published RPG authors. (the stuff they contributed to ranges all over the place - major WotC releases (more recent ones, none of 3E or 3.5 Core big three), Dungeon, releases from notable non-WotC d20 companies like Green Ronin, minor d20 releases, even an indie game or two.)

I'm better with the rules than any of them, and I think I have more experience playing the game than they do. If D&D was played as a wargame, I'm fairly sure I could beat them.

I am not, however, more creative than any of them (or especially creative at all) and I don't have their writing ability.... and these are things that make them able to work as designers / writers, not superior knowledge of the rules, or having a talent for understanding gaming systems.

So I don't really expect the designers of 4E to be any better at the game than any other experienced player. Whoever is in charge of editing the damn thing and overseeing the design had better be, though...
 

Vigilance

Explorer
freyar said:
I think this what bugs me the most. I think Mike Mearls's work has been great, for the most part, at least what I've seen. And he seems to think about things a lot. But suggesting that the only appropriate encounters for a first level party are EL 1 is just, well, wrong, and it's right there in the DMG. And published adventures, etc. I imagine that he and others at WotC have been told to "make the most of 3e's flaws" or so, but it's a bit irritating that they've taken to misrepresenting the 3e rules to do it. It doesn't really help to educate the gaming public...

Or possibly he just had a point to make and picked an example that helped him make it?

Did he really need to list every possible permutation of feasible EL 1 encounters to make his point that the CR system could use a touch-up?

Do folks really need to go over his every word like the Zapruder film and see if its possible to twist it into something bad?
 

Very interesting thread, but it highlights a problem that I have heard alot of in teh 3x world.. and thats the 9:00 to 9:05 adventure.

The orginal article isn't talking about encounter design.. the author states "That seemed reasonable, until I started designing adventures."

When designing a building with 10 rooms and 6 encounters.. how can you make the entire set piece challenging, memorable, and fun?

If you go by the DMG guidleines you get something like:

3 EL = PL
2 EL = PL +2
1 EL = PL +4


Usually this means 3 cake walk encounters, two stiff encounters with the likelyhood of dropping at least 1 PC.. all leading up to the Boss encounter that will probably be a TPK unless the party goes outside and rests because they had spent all of thier expendable resources for the day.

Hence the article about how an EL = PL encounter design sucks... in adventure design you need to have a couple of these.. but the time it takes for 3e combat means the cakewalk encounters detract from most players fun.. so each encounter should be challenging... so you end up with 2 difficult encounters per day max... any more leads to TPK, any less leads to boring, easy fights.
{like the game last night where the encounter said 20 CR 1/4 skeletons attack a group of 4th level characters. ... umm, how many 1/4 CR undead can a Cleric turn in one shot? BORING!! }



How to fix? have groups of 6 PCs and players that understand that character death happens :p
 

Rechan

Adventurer
And again, I don't understand this "Too much 3e bashing". Especially the claim that the 4e designers are somehow insulting the 3e designers.

Many 3e designers are on the 4e design team.

To quote Beckett on the 4e board:
Taking a look at the credits page for my 3.0 PHB, Richard Baker is listed as Additional Design, David Noonan is one of three names under Editorial Assistance. Bill Slavicsek is Director of RPG R&D. At the bottom, under Other WotC RPG R&D Contributors, we see names like Andy Collins, Bruce Cordell, , Rob Heinsoo, and James Wyatt.
I'm certain that those of us here who do creative work can look back at something you did eight years ago and say "Wow, that made sense at the time, on paper, but really it just doesn't work the way I thought it would" or "Wow, that could've been so much better."

How is what they're doing different than that?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Vigilance said:
Or possibly he just had a point to make and picked an example that helped him make it?

Did he really need to list every possible permutation of feasible EL 1 encounters to make his point that the CR system could use a touch-up?

Do folks really need to go over his every word like the Zapruder film and see if its possible to twist it into something bad?

The problem is not that he didn't list every EL1 encounter; he probably did, though I haven't checked. The problem is that reasonable encounter and adventure design should easily go up to EL4 for a standard level 1 party, and it just seems a little disingenuous to me to say "this is a big problem" when all the "how to be a good DM" advice on their site during the 3e era and the WotC adventures use EL higher than party level.

And, Rechan, I understand that these are many of the same 3.0 designers. I have no problem with people pointing out real design problems with 3.X. I think that 4e sounds very interesting. What rubs me the wrong way is that the "design problems" mentioned in the articles are often misrepresentations. That's all.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Vigilance said:
Or possibly he just had a point to make and picked an example that helped him make it?

But he didn't. I don't mind criticism of the previous rule set. It makes sense in the context of making a new edition. But this is beyond criticism. It's hyperbolic. What I want is a frank discussion of the previous rules and where they went wrong or were clunky to use, not a lot of hyperbole focused on a narrow element of them that an experienced DM can poke through like wet tissue paper. I want a rigorous intellectual argument put forth to convince me of the merits of switching away from the old edition, not a sloppy one.
 

Vigilance

Explorer
billd91 said:
But he didn't. I don't mind criticism of the previous rule set. It makes sense in the context of making a new edition. But this is beyond criticism. It's hyperbolic. What I want is a frank discussion of the previous rules and where they went wrong or were clunky to use, not a lot of hyperbole focused on a narrow element of them that an experienced DM can poke through like wet tissue paper. I want a rigorous intellectual argument put forth to convince me of the merits of switching away from the old edition, not a sloppy one.

Look, you can try to turn this into a semantic dissection of the precise wording of his argument if you want.

Could he have used a better example in the point he made?

I guess. But then, it's a freaking BLOG POST, by a guy working full time to get the damn game out, letting us know what areas he's looking at.

He wasn't writing a philosophy dissertation. He was writing a blog post.

You can either try to go through word by word, examine something that he probably wrote in 5 minutes for hours, and see if you can possibly, maybe, interpret it in a way that lets you stir up garbage, or you could do something simpler:

Realize that he's right, CR/EL has some issues, and could use some streamlining in the new edition.

Because that's certainly as valid a read as the interpretations I'm seeing here.

CR is not so perfect a system that looking to tweak it amounts to change for change sake.

MENTIONING that it's not perfect, with an example that most GMs have seen, even if good ones know how to work around it, does not mean that he doesn't understand the game, or disrespect the folks who designed it.

And yes, good GMs can work with the CR system just fine. But you know what? Rules aren't written for great GMs, or even average ones.

The worse a GM is, or the less experienced, the more he needs the rules to be clear, simple and work every time.

That's not CR. You can follow all the rules and get encounter after encounter that's boring, or results in TPKs.

And while we're on the subject of hyperbole that's getting tiring, how about we move away from using our PHDs in circular logic with a minor in grammar to examine blog posts made a month ago so we can run to the net and say "see! they's playing us man! they don't respect us none! nor the history of them what came before!"*

Chuck

*I'm not asserting anyone in this thread actually talked that way. It was a humorous aside made during a message board post that I probably wrote in haste that wasn't meant to stand up to the serious scrutiny of the dissertation committee.

Any resemblance to posters living or dead is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

Restrictions apply.

Please watch your step.

Drive Carefully.

And may God bless.
 
Last edited:

Aaron L

Hero
Vigilance said:
Huh... so are people really reduced to saying Mike Mearls doesn't know how to run D&D now?

That he doesn't respect the designers of 3e? Including Monte Cook? A guy he used to work for?

C'mon guys, stop being jerks.


Who is truly being a jerk, the people who have been continually bashing 3E for the sake of marketing, a lot of which has indeed been bordering (or crossing he border) on disrespectful of the 3E designers, or the people getting sick of it and pointing out the flaws in one of the factually incorrect bashing sessions?

Their complaints come off not as if they think they have some better ideas for the system, but as if 3E were designed by idiots and anyone who ever liked it was just as stupid.

It IS possible for one thing to be better than another, without the first thing being flawed.

I swear, these blog posts remind me of nothing more than a political mudslinging match. It's like each designer is trying to outdo the others in making 3E sound like a system designed by morons (and that is exactly the impression I get every time I read one of these things.)


I really like almost everything I have heard about 4E, when they actually take the time to TALK about what will be coming in 4E. But too often they don't, but instead bash on 3E. That is very bad form, and it is making me more and more angry.



So, by this point, this is the message I have gotten from these blog posts (and the 4E introductory video):

I've been an idiot for playing 3E for the past 7 years.

3E (and indeed, every previous version of D&D) was an awful, awful game, but I should forget about WotC's past track record (for some reason) and believe that THIS game is going to actually be good.

The designers of 4E are absolutely brilliant people and are completely baffled at how stupid the 3E designers were to make such rules.


They have all come off as incredibly insulting, arrogant, and rude. Yeah, I KNOW it's marketing, but it's possible, and MUCH classier, to actually extol the virtues of YOUR product without denigrating the virtues of SOMEONE ELSE'S product. Emulating political commercials is a VERY POOR way to do advertising, people!


Saying "My product is GREAT because that other guy's product SUCKS!" is circular logic, and utterly useless as anything but chest-thumping grandstanding.


4E sounds really neat, from what I've heard about it so far, but the "company line" 3E bashing is just making me annoyed. How about you start telling us how good 4E will be and showing us why, instead of continually giving us dubious reasons why 3E was so horrible?
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top