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D&D 5E Fixing Challenge Rating


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That’s a very broad and offensive brush.

I think you misunderstand the poster. If you dislike something, often its just a growing sense of "ugh, this sucks." When someone asks why you feel the thing sucks, you have to come up with an explanation (aka reason) for why you think it sucks. Maybe at the time you were aware of what bothered you ("oh, they are using that phrase again, jeez") but often it is subconscious.

If I tell you why I disliked game system X, am I telling you exactly what caused me to furrow my brow while reading the rulebook? I have no real clue any more, but it's the explanation that congealed in my head and "feels" right.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think you misunderstand the poster.
I don't think I did.
If you dislike something, often its just a growing sense of "ugh, this sucks." When someone asks why you feel the thing sucks, you have to come up with an explanation (aka reason) for why you think it sucks. Maybe at the time you were aware of what bothered you ("oh, they are using that phrase again, jeez") but often it is subconscious.
It can be that, but the problem arises when someone is painting most everyone that disliked a thing as giving post hoc rationalizations for doing so.
If I tell you why I disliked game system X, am I telling you exactly what caused me to furrow my brow while reading the rulebook?
I think the difference is, I wouldn't doubt whatever you told me was the reason for you.

Also, there is a fine line in an actual post hoc rationalization and finally finding the right way to actually articulate your dislikes. It's very important to realize - those aren't the same things.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Sorry, you can say it was 'bad', but objectively we used them all the time and they worked great! I mean, they're not some ultimate thing that solves every problem, but they did what they were intended to do pretty well. There are a LOT of minion stat blocks in 4e, and given how simple most of them are, reskinning them is not exactly tough, nor is making more of your own. I can generally create a minion in, say, 5 minutes, that will be serviceable. In a pinch I can probably just do it on the fly. Never had to though.

Well, there you go! I mean, I don't recall every exact number off the top of my head, I haven't run much 4e in a few years, but it sure ain't hard, you just use the baseline stats for a monster of the correct level and give it one hit point, and usually an MBA that does a fixed amount of damage that is say 60% of the average for a normal monster of that level, plus some interesting useful trait based on what you want out of the minion. Often its a conditional damage bonus, or maybe a special movement or move/attack routine, or some do things like explode when they die.

Well, most monsters didn't come with minion stats. I mean, most of the more interesting creepy type monsters or fun fights are not going to minionize at all.

Yeah, well, sure, minions can work in 5e. I mean, supposedly, BA means you don't need them, but I'd experiment and see how it works before I accept that. I find that most things that 'everyone knows' are less true than 'everyone' thinks. Google Thales of Miletus! hehe.
The online DM tools let you turn any monster into a Solo, Elite, or Minion, and even adjust the level. Mind you, you should take a close look at the abilities of a printed monster- I remember a DM who thought it was great fun to make us fight Bodak Minions and a level 2 Lich in an adventure, without changing their powers!

But I had a blast running an adventure in the Feywild where my players heard that the area they were going to was infested with goblins and guffawed, only to find themselves facing down level 12 Goblins!
 

Sorry, you can say it was 'bad', but objectively we used them all the time and they worked great!
Sorry. I can, and I did. I did not say they did not work. But it is the concept of highlevel minions that I despise. Same goes for low level elites and solos.

Then on top of that came the whole AC is a function of level, not from equippment for monsters.
The whole system was too gamey. Players really had no chance to determine the threat level of enemies by looking at them.
Heavy armor, light armor, all did not matter.
The big problem in all of D&D 4e was that while the mechanics were working like a well oiled machine, it felt more like an elaborate board game than an RPG. And monster design philosophy was a big reason for that.

That of course is my experience after playing 4e intensively for all of its lifetime. If you could make that work for you. That is great.

I mean, they're not some ultimate thing that solves every problem, but they did what they were intended to do pretty well. There are a LOT of minion stat blocks in 4e, and given how simple most of them are, reskinning them is not exactly tough, nor is making more of your own. I can generally create a minion in, say, 5 minutes, that will be serviceable. In a pinch I can probably just do it on the fly. Never had to though.
Reskinning was another problem. I can eaven easier create minions in 5e.
Well, there you go! I mean, I don't recall every exact number off the top of my head, I haven't run much 4e in a few years, but it sure ain't hard, you just use the baseline stats for a monster of the correct level and give it one hit point, and usually an MBA that does a fixed amount of damage that is say 60% of the average for a normal monster of that level, plus some interesting useful trait based on what you want out of the minion. Often its a conditional damage bonus, or maybe a special movement or move/attack routine, or some do things like explode when they die.
Yeah. That is way better than reskinning. About how I do it in 5e.
Well, most monsters didn't come with minion stats. I mean, most of the more interesting creepy type monsters or fun fights are not going to minionize at all.
I don't understand what you mean here.
Yeah, well, sure, minions can work in 5e. I mean, supposedly, BA means you don't need them, but I'd experiment and see how it works before I accept that. I find that most things that 'everyone knows' are less true than 'everyone' thinks. Google Thales of Miletus! hehe.
I agree.

It is just that if 20 Orcs with 17 hp are annoying to track. Killing them off with 1 or 2 solid hits seems easier than tracking hp exactly.

What I'd like to see in 5e though are swarm rules. I miss those from 4e. 5e swarm rules are a bit less useful.
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
As for AC being a function of level and not gear, I can tell you, from years of running 3e-PF1e, there's nothing more obnoxious than having to equip humanoid enemies with gear to get their numbers right, only to have that gear instantly turn into more loot for the PC's.

I used to think Gary was kind of a jerk by giving even low-level Drow magical gear that was almost impossible for players to use. Well ok, I still do, but at least I began to understand what could drive someone to that point!

Also, I should point out that most of D&D's history has included monsters where you have no real idea why or how they have the AC that they do, and any attempt to codify it into modifiers has had the opposite problem, ala completely made-up "natural armor".
 

I mean, I spoke about it?

It is like the difference between having the weight of the stuff in your room and a cargo van capacity, and having a program that lets you tag items and tells you if they fit in the cargo van.

Sure, you can go around tagging items until the cargo van is full. You can even experiment with reducing the amount of bedding while increasing books by untagging bedding and tagging books.

But if instead you know that the books are small and dense while the bedding is bulky and light, you can think about things without having to iterate on the tool.

Lookup tables are a tool you blindly enter values into and get a result out.

If you eliminate them, it becomes easier to reason the underlying problem, instead of having your view of the problem cut off.

Finally, using Lookup tables without a computer is rather annoying. And if your system requires a computer to not be annoying, you might as well just simulate the entire encounter and give conclusions based on that - it will be more accurate than your analytically produced table anyhow.

I've seen decent simulation based encounter balance systems. You feed in an abstraction of the PCs (with as much detail as you want, and even fudge factors!), and the monsters, and it produces a distribution of resources drained and failure chance.

Again, this black box blocks the human from having an understanding of what makes an encounter harder or easier. They'll never be able to quickly say "CR 7 is 60% more threat than CR 5, so we can swap 5 CR 7s for 8 CR 5s to bulk up enemy numbers in that encounter", or "there is an extra PC, which means I should throw in another 175 threat - how about a CR 9, that makes sense" using it.

They can go and add that additional PC. Then experimentally use the tool to add and remove and change monsters until the light turns green again.
The thing about look-up tables is they are far more accessible to people without higher level maths skills. A lot of D&D players are also maths geeks and can easily handle complex equations, but in the real world look-up tables are used for all sorts of things, from the Highway Code to haulage businesses, for things with relatively straightforward formulae.
 

The thing about look-up tables is they are far more accessible to people without higher level maths skills. A lot of D&D players are also maths geeks and can easily handle complex equations, but in the real world look-up tables are used for all sorts of things, from the Highway Code to haulage businesses, for things with relatively straightforward formulae.
That is a very good point.

I think that is what some people here forget when talking about optimizing and good game design.

The mathematically best option can be totally boring to play.*
An arbitrary table that works is better than an elegant formula that does not.

*and don't get me started about people that can calcuate but don't interpret their results correctly.
 

DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
The thing about look-up tables is they are far more accessible to people without higher level maths skills. A lot of D&D players are also maths geeks and can easily handle complex equations, but in the real world look-up tables are used for all sorts of things, from the Highway Code to haulage businesses, for things with relatively straightforward formulae.

The fix all: "It's magic". Why does that Goblin have a 18 AC and no armor? Magic. Some Shaman off somewhere else cast a spell on him. What spell? A spell specific to his evil diety.

Same reason that magic door wont unlock no matter what the PCs try. It's PC unknowable DM magic.

OIP.jpg
 

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