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

Geron Raveneye

Aaron L said:
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?

Yep, the biggest problem I percieve with the current marketing is indeed the unavoidable comparisons to 3E in most of what I read...for a very simple reason. All those who switch will, at first, compare it to their own 3E experience...and when that is done, 4E will have to stand or fall on its own merits and flaws. Being "better" than the previous edition is too much an individualistic thing to hold water for long with all customers. Being a good game in itself is what it will have to build on. So why not show us why it is a good game from the beginning? It's more than different enough from the previous editions to qualify as its own game anyway.

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Jhaelen said:
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.
That's not the error. As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, goblins were CR 1/4 in 3.0. The error is his opening statements, that the rules say you could only use EL 1 encounters with a 1st level party, which plainly is not true. The DMG says the opposite. It's a complete mis-representation (i.e. not the truth) about the CR/EL system.

There are problems with the current rules. That article covers none of them, just fabricated ones. I have no problem with pointing out 3E's flaws, or going on about how 4E is going to fix them. I do have a problem with being disingenuous about it.

Aaron L said:
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?
Even though it should be different, the second group seems the true jerk. Though maybe it is just because the first group doesn't exist and people claiming to be the second group aren't actually it.

You know, if the designers are bashing 3e now, it is not for marketing reasons. It are marketing reasons that they didn't bash before. But the whole word "bashing" is wrong. It's not bashing, it is criticizing, it's pointing out flaws. Since several of them already worked at WotC in 3e, they are also criticizing themselves.

And they compare their new system to the old and explain how they try to fix the issues they found in 3e in their new one. Because that's also what people are interested in, we want to know: "How does 4th edition differ from 3rd edition. What does it make better, and how so?"

Sure, they could tell us about how it uses hitpoints and attack bonus, and has classes and levels and so on. But we already know that from 3e, we want to know what's different! At least I want to do it. And I would prefer knowing how these changes improve the game.

But back to the original blog entry:
What you're missing is also the difference between encounter design alone and adventure design.
For an adventure, you want multiple encounters. For a dungeon crawl, you want multiple encounters stretched over multiple rooms, and you do not except the group to stop every 4 encounters and rest. And that's what the encounter system implies, unless each room is only populated with a single kobold or goblin, instead of 4-6 of them, and maybe a few chiefs...


Aaron L said:
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?

Again, no one has done that.

They're not bashing 3e, or saying it was horrible, or saying it was designed by idiots.

Please, show me one place where someone actually SAID it was horrible or designed by idiots.

And one last time, Mike Mearls used to work for Monte Cook.

Monte Cook has said he thinks Mike Mearls is the best 3rd party d20 designer, then he HIRED him.

This is the guy you think Mike Mearls is bashing?

Please, show me some proof, because saying that the CR system needs work, a statement I actually AGREE with (and no, I'm not bashing 3e or implying it was designed by idiots EITHER) falls well short of that mark.


So how did this concept work out?


I continue to agree with you. Regardless of how fun 4e may be, the complaints about 3e were weak sauce. Not that you can't make a legimate complaint about 3e, because we all can, but the particular one Mearls made was weak and the argument he tried to use to support it was even more weakly made. You pretty much eviscerated him for it, particularly in the very flawed comparison to 1e, and there isn't much more to add.

I can't speak to how 4e plays, although it seems to support more foes than 3e if you count minions, so I'm willing to grant the goal of 'allows for more foes' a pass without argument.

However, as for successfully fixing the general issues of giving hard and fast rules correctly assigning a difficulty level to an encounter or an individual monster, as far as I can tell 4e is just as wonky as 3e (as I predicted it would be, because the problem is hard). If anyone doubts that, I need only point them to something like Needlefang Drake Swarm as the most obvious example of many.
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Minions increase humanoid foes by swapping out 4 for 1.

Party size increases to a default of 5 so they can handle more foes.

Mike Mearls got his wish of being able to throw more humanoid foes at parties when designing adventures. :)

Ycore Rixle

First Post
Quasqueton said:
So how did this concept work out?


Did 4e give us a better encounter design/CR/EL system than 3e? It sure thinks it did. That is, by 4e's standards, it did. On the other hand, by 3e's standards, it did not.

Here's what I mean by that. 4e had several goals for encounters. Some were:

A) Make encounters easy to DM at the table.
B) Make encounters easy to design.
C) Make encounters long enough so that the big bad survived until everyone (including the big bad) had a chance to do something cool.
D) A lesser goal of the design team, in my estimation, but one pertinent to this thread, is to make encounters more easily able to accommodate many creatures.

I'd say that A-C were accomplished by making monsters have tons of hit points and PCs do a lot less damage per swing. Unfortunately unstated goal E) Keep encounters threatening and exciting was, arguably, not met by virtue of that same solution (the grindspace problem).

Goal D), clearly, was addressed by minions. By 4e's standards, minions have succeeded. They allow players to do cool stuff, they are easy to DM, they are relatively easy to develop or select and place in an encounter.

But by 3e's standards, minions fail. Why? Because they don't make sense. Orcs don't die from stubbing a toe. This is an old argument. 3e says the combat rules must follow the physics of the game world. 4e says the game world's physics don't matter one iota in combat, and things that happen in combat are completely impossible, meaningless, or ineffectual outside of combat.

In a similar way, the 4e solution to A-C (high monster hp and low PC damage) is a failure by 3e standards because it sacrifices dynamism for predictability. But 4e specifically wanted predictability (to make it easier to design and build encounters), so by 4e's standards, the solution is a success.

Just pick which standards you like, I guess. I like 3e's standards. I play RPGs in part because they have an element of fiction in them, and for me, the fiction is ruined by inconsistent internal world logic. (Was 3e perfect in this regard? Nope. But it tried.)

Please note that it's particularly ironic that Mike Mearls is complaining the 3e rules commit the crime of preventing him from replicating the greatness of The Keep on the Borderlands in light of his previous comments about that module.

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Irony, thy name is Mearls.

Yep. Although, to be fair, everyone is entitled to change his opinion, and that review was written eight years prior to the design article. Still, with such a large opinion swing, there should have been some explanation of that preceding the design article.

I'm A Banana

4e promised "more foes," and it delivers, kind of. Minions mean quantity increases, though they do have their issues. Alternately, solos mean quantity doesn't have to increase, and are generally an awesome thing.

"More foes" as a goal is a mixed bag, because combat is a SLOG. I friggin' YEARN for 6 or so enemies per combat about halfway through three-hour-long marathon HP-whittling session.

I think, ultimately, the designers should have considered more how to make combat more dynamic than they did.

I think, really, Mike Mearls just gets a rush out of tactical minis combat that completely eludes me. I don't get that rush, I'm not looking for that result, and that goal doesn't enthuse me.

Minions are OK, and they let you have entire tribes that your PC's can slash through quickly, which is cool.

"Level" has as many problems as CR, and combats are still "one monster per PC" equivalencies, and each combat isn't harder -- PC's are still basically expected to speedbump over anything that isn't a higher level.


First Post
I think encounter design is much easier in 4E than 3.5, but neither is very hard to begin with.

I find myself fudging dice rolls to save/wreck the players less often since we began playing 4E, for what it's worth.

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