# D&D 4EDissociating what I (we?) like from the mechanics

#### JiffyPopTart

##### Bree-Yark
I think we're talking about "swingy" or "fickleness" in different ways. Let me be explicit about what the math means.

Your original post talked about: "smooth over the fickleness of small modifiers". But 2d10, when aiming for the mid range of it, increases the impact of all bonuses (big or small), not decreases them.

It makes min-maxing much more rewarding - every bonus has a larger impact in determining success/failure than it would with a d20.
"Smooth over the fickleness of small modifiers tacked onto a straight random 1-20 roll" was the concept....not just small modifiers by themselves.

The fickle part is the d20, the smoothing is the 2d10.

#### Blue

##### Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
"Smooth over the fickleness of small modifiers tacked onto a straight random 1-20 roll" was the concept....not just small modifiers by themselves.

The fickle part is the d20, the smoothing is the 2d10.
Except the 2d10 does not "smooth" mathematically. It creates larger % gaps between the numbers. It "roughens" if you forced me to pick an descriptor along those lines.

Please, let's use actual terms instead of soft adjectives that can taken different ways.

Is your intent that bonuses creates larger impact on if the test is a success or failure? That's what moving to 2d10 will do.

#### Jacob Lewis

##### Ye Olde GM
You cannot replace the d20 and expect everything else to just fall in line. Here's an example of what I had to consider when I decided to build around a 3d6 bell curve rolle as the core mechanic.

At its most fundamental level, the original core mechanic of the game has you roll a single die, adjust the number with any relative modifiers, and compare it to a target number which represents the difficulty of resloving a task or action. The single die creates a linear progression with an equal distribution probability for any result. That made it very easy to adjust and maintain balance within the game.

A bell curve roll, however, works quite differently. (Check out this page for some probability charts! Link)

The majority of rolls are more likely to produce results between 9 and 12 before modifiers, while rolls above 15 and below 6 are very rare. This doesn't eliminate the randomness of the dice completely, however. It simply reduces the unpredictable nature of an extremely high or low result. Less emphasis gives more control to the players and power to their choices, as well as the DM. So how does that affect the target difficulty numbers? This is where I start looking at the different editions.

Fourth edition (4e) had everything on a sliding scale. When you character levele up, they got most of the same bonuses as everyone else in their primary abilities. And the monsters did, too. So when you gained another +1 modifier to your skills, DCs and monster bonuses also went up. At one point, I had stopped looking up DCs and bonuses at the table and just assumed any roll over 12 was good. No one seemed to notice, or cared.

In 5th edition, its simple to remember because it stays consistent throughout the game at every tier. That is in part how bounded accuracy was designed. Smaller numbers for modifiers that were never expected to exceed a particular number, thus target numbers remained relevant even as the characters progressed. The DCs for level 1 to 20 are the same, from very easy to nearly impossible: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30.

With a bell curve, numbers below 3 and above 18 don't exist on the possibilities of rolls without any modifiers. So numbers above or below the median (below 6 and above 15) become either extremely easy or extremely difficult to beat.

Furthermore, modifiers need to be reigned in significantly. A simple +/- 1 won't break anything, but each +/- compounds the weight of the modifier. Suddenly, your 9-12 expected range becomes 12-15 with a +3. And we all know that +3 is minimal at any level in D&D. So that is something else I'll need to look into. For now, I know that my modifiers are going to be smaller (and more meaningful) than usual.

So here's what I came up with in terms of target values for difficulty. Mind you, this is for scale and general reference. Numbers do (and will) exist in between.

Target DCDifficultyAverage Roll NeededModifier
8Easy3, 3, 3-1
12Medium4, 4, 40
16Hard5, 5, 5+1
20Very Hard6, 6, 6+2
24Nearly Impossible6, 6, 6+6
This also tells me that a +4 modifier is significant. That is the threshold I'm looking for to separate the average heroes and monsters of one tier to the next. Starting characters should probably have only a +4 in their specialty skill, including their attributes. So the question is, when does the each significant tier of their adventuring career begin and end?

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#### Aldarc

##### Legend
I would note that it appears that we are back to talking about 4e mechanics in a thread framed around the non-mechanical aspects of 4e that we like.

#### JiffyPopTart

##### Bree-Yark
Except the 2d10 does not "smooth" mathematically. It creates larger % gaps between the numbers. It "roughens" if you forced me to pick an descriptor along those lines.

Please, let's use actual terms instead of soft adjectives that can taken different ways.

Is your intent that bonuses creates larger impact on if the test is a success or failure? That's what moving to 2d10 will do.
You are spending a lot of time, words, and effort to convince me my opinion isnt correct.

I will attempt to rephrase.

Me no likey when 1st level barbarian beat 20th level wizard at Arcana check. Feel wrong. Me also not like big number plusses. Wish for dice system that make me happy.

#### Blue

##### Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I will attempt to rephrase.

Me no likey when 1st level barbarian beat 20th level wizard at Arcana check. Feel wrong. Me also not like big number plusses. Wish for dice system that make me happy.
Gotcha. You don't want to communicate clearly. I will stop trying.

#### Undrave

##### Legend
I would note that it appears that we are back to talking about 4e mechanics in a thread framed around the non-mechanical aspects of 4e that we like.
Even I got sidetracked

Not sure what else I can add to my list at this point, it feels somewhat complete.

#### bert1001 fka bert1000

##### Hero
So how does PF2e stack up? I'm not an expert so someone else give their take if you know the system better. But here's my 2 cents:

Class based and level based: Yes, including 4e-like multi classing

Visible Design/transparency: Yes

Classes with clear purposes: Somewhat, maybe not as clear as 4e

Choices at every level: Yes

Balance: Yes, using the same method as 4e -- brought casters down and martials up.

Same clock for everyone: Close enough to Yes. Some short rest dependancy for focus spells and other things but not really big parts of class power.

Defenders that really defend: Not sure.

Support that matter: Somewhat Yes. Support definitely matters but can be a little less satisfying than 4e I think due to small bonuses and penalities because of the way critiacal fail/success works.

Tactical Combat: Yes, maybe not quite 4e level but miles beyond 5e.

Attacker always rolls: No.

Universality: Yes, pretty good with defined terms.

Intuitive encounter building: Yes

Incomplete Lore: No.

Cosmology for Adventurers: Yes.

Truly epic epic levels: Pretty good although I think martials could have even more.

Separation of combat magic and utility magic : No. Not really in the same way.

Magic doesn't always do it better but is convenient: Somewhat. Low level magic can't do as much as 3e/5e. Rituals but not like 4e.

Monsters made for gaming (roles, not PC rules, variety, self contained, etc.): Somewhat -- but fails with keeping PC spells as lists.

Skill Challenges/non combat resolution system: Only partway. Lots of victory point like systems in the DMG but you need to flesh them out for plat and they aren't as flexible as the orginal skill challange concept.

Clarity/mechanics first: Yes, I believe so. Mechanics are for the most part spelled out and aren't overridden by fluff.

#### Undrave

##### Legend
So how does PF2e stack up? I'm not an expert so someone else give their take if you know the system better. But here's my 2 cents:
Ya know, I've never played PF2. I've read a bit of it but
I knew I wouldn’t have anyone to play with so I didn’t invest in the book (It was pretty expensive, but now I see there’s a pocket edition that’s more in my budget)…

At the same time, what I know of PF2 doesn’t really interest me that much? I get the feeling that the game carries some of that 3.X bias where character creation is more weighted than in 4e…

The way I see it, there are four components to victory in combat: character building, party building, resource management, and tactical play at the table. And 3.x was VERY weight to character building and resource management. While 4e had a character-building component, of course, picking subpar options for flavor could be overcome with good tactical play.

How easy is it to make a bad character by accident in Pf2?

PF2 seems to also carry 4e’s own weakness in the pressure to optimize all your actions and making sure you always use all of them. Does it also have a lot of reactions?

It might be worth to check out the pocket edition of the core rules... hmm

#### bert1001 fka bert1000

##### Hero
At the same time, what I know of PF2 doesn’t really interest me that much? I get the feeling that the game carries some of that 3.X bias where character creation is more weighted than in 4e…

The way I see it, there are four components to victory in combat: character building, party building, resource management, and tactical play at the table. And 3.x was VERY weight to character building and resource management. While 4e had a character-building component, of course, picking subpar options for flavor could be overcome with good tactical play.

How easy is it to make a bad character by accident in Pf2?

PF2 seems to also carry 4e’s own weakness in the pressure to optimize all your actions and making sure you always use all of them. Does it also have a lot of reactions?

Not at all actually. This is something very much fixed in PF2e vs. 3e/pf1e. It is very very hard to make a bad character by accident in PF2e. Most of the raw power of the class is baked in to the class chasis with options much more focused on breath or trade offs rather than baseline competency. Much more like 4e in this respect. There are certainly some options that are a little better but in small degrees. Some people I think would argue that some of the non PHB classes are a little weaker than they should be but that is a different issue (and if they are it's not that they are unplayable just could have been a little better tuned for people that really care about class balance).

In terms of optimizing actions, I would say this is an area where one character could pull ahead of another. Again, it's not like the person non-optimizing would be useless but you would see a difference in a Fighter who just stands there and attacks three times (very sub-optimal) and a Fighter invested in Intimidate to apply debuffs with their 3rd action. I haven't played enough to fully answer the question on reactions -- but I'd guess less so than 4e but there are some. Only some monsters get opportunity attacks so there is that....

I would strongly encourage anyone who likes 4e to check out PF2e. It's not a pure successor to 4e but as my ratings above indicate it shares a lot of the principles of 4e, even if it implements them differently. The victory weighting for PF2e is similar to 4e:

Character building -- not a huge effect
Party building -- important
Resource management -- varies by class but in general low to medium.
Tactical play -- very important

Maybe not in the very easiest form to digest but everything is free on Archives of Nethys. One warning although maybe not needed for a 4e fan -- PF2e also plays better than it reads. For instance it is hard to understand in a read how using an action to move away from a monster can be a very good defensive move -- if your speed is greater the monster may have to spend 2 actions to get to you and even if the same it has to use one action which could prevent a big 3 action attack. Similarly, coming from other games it is not intuitive that small bonuses are worth more in PF2e because of the critical success and failure rule

Seems like we should also add to the 4e list (with PF2e also sharing):
More focus on party composition and party tactics vs. character creation optimization.

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