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General "Hot" take: Aesthetically-pleasing rules are highly overvalued

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I can see the appeal on a tactical level, but I feel like as an individual player the gameplay loop wouldn't appeal to as many people. A lot of people don't like spending turns doing nothing: "You're up Elwyn, what do you do with your turn?" "I continue to cast my spell." "Okay, Gerald, your turn." It feels pretty passive,
I think you're missing something here. Spells almost always start and resolve in the same combat round (thus on each "turn" a caster could start a new spell). But in 5e terms how it'd work would be something like this: if your initiative is 15 that's when you start casting. Your spell has a listed casting time (say, 6) which means you won't resolve your spell until initiative count 9 and during the intervening time you're both open to interruption and have no active defenses as all your concentration is going into casting your spell.
I know I wouldn't really enjoy it. It also gives the caster a very heightened sense of importance, they become precious artillery that must be protected at all cost which in turn will make a certain specific play style more optimal than other almost all the time. If nothing else, you'd need the flexibility to faster and slower spell to avoid that.
Each spell has its own casting time, generally (but not always) increasing with spell level.
Casting in melee also has its own narrative appeal that's different from the frail artillery at the back and the game should have ways to do it.
Here I disagree. If you want to get into melee, play a melee character. If you want to get into melee as a caster, you're using such physical weapons as you have because you ain't casting. (unless your specific intent is to get interrupted and hope for some sort of interesting/fun/beneficial wild magic surge; I've seen this done once or twice) And if melee comes to you something's gone wrong somewhere... :)

As a pleasant side effect, this also does away with most in-combat healing. Healing IMO is something done between battles, not during them. :)
 

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Campbell

Legend
@Lanefan

Hot is not a tag. It's one of the stats every character has - like ability scores in D&D.

Apocalypse World said:
Thee stats are:
Cool, meaning cool under fire, rational, clear thinking, calm, calculating, unfazed. Roll +cool to do something under fire.
Hard, meaning hard-hearted, violent, aggressive, strong-willed, mean, physically and emotionally strong. Roll +hard to go aggro on someone.
Hot, meaning f***ing hot, attractive, subtle, gracious, sexy, beautiful, inspiring, exciting. Roll +hot to seduce or manipulate someone.
Sharp, meaning sharp-witted, clever, alert, smart, perceptive, educated, skilled, trained. Roll +sharp to read a person or read a situation.
Weird, meaning a weirdo, psychic, genius, uncanny, lucky, strange, prophetic, touched. Roll +weird to open your brain to the world’s psychic maelstrom.
Hx, meaning history (like Rx for prescription and Dx for diagnosis), particularly shared history, how well one character knows another. It
doesn’t mean how well your character likes the other, just how well your character knows the other. It’s also asymmetrical: my character might know yours very well, like Hx+2, while yours doesn’t know mine well at all, like Hx-1. Roll +Hx to help or interfere with someone.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
B/X is not an example of such a system: if I'm blasting my fire at the shed, while the trio of orcs has a bucket brigade going, there is no resolution framework for working out what happens to the shed. I don't think 5e really has much of a framework for that either.
Er...in either case wouldn't the shed simply get a saving throw, modified in its favour by the existence of the bucket brigade?

Certainly that's what'd happen in 1e...a modified saving throw vs fire*.

* - 'normal fire' or 'magical fire' depending what you were throwing at it.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
I wonder if some people aren't so concerned with how well the rules call out where GM judgment is required as with wanting the rules to either a) not require GM judgment at all or b) stipulate what that judgment should be and why.
There's a big difference between a known unknown and rules that don't really make sense. Obviously a well-designed game avoids the later but can include the former.

For myself, I'd prefer the game have clear-enough rules for all the things we might typically do, and especially clear rules for things that are supposed to be decided on quickly - I do not want to have to have a conversation with the dm about what how my spells actualy work in combat while said dm is asking me to make a speedy decision.

Plus a lot of people have played with bad dm's, so the whole "trust the dm" answer isn't satisfying. If you dm is always looking for reason to not let you do stuff, you want the rules to be as clear as possible on what you can do.

(The typical response to this is "get a better dm," but that's not always as simple as going to the store and picking up a new one. Good dm's don't get a lot of openings from players dropping out.)
 

When I was on the Symbaroum subreddit, I found that there were quite a lot of people who would want someone to tell them what the rule was even when two rules were clearly and obviously contradictory and a judgement call was the only possible solution.
 

Campbell

Legend
When I was on the Symbaroum subreddit, I found that there were quite a lot of people who would want someone to tell them what the rule was even when two rules were clearly and obviously contradictory and a judgement call was the only possible solution.

These people definitely exist. I have seen a decent amount of pushback to Pathfinder 2's embrace of applied GM judgement and things like a loose exploration mode, rituals that have fictional positioning requirements, rarity, and Anathema on Paizo's board and reddit as well. I hope they find the play experience they are after, but I choose to play and run games they would never be interested in. I think those divisions on the community are actually extremely helpful because they make it easier to find compatible play groups.
 

In Fate Accelerated, the framework for Buckets vs fire-orcs is "You are in a Contest. Each of the parties in the contest make an Overcome action (with normal rules for taking that action). Whoever gets a better score on their action wins a victory point. Succeed with style, you gain two victory points. Whoever reached three points first wins."

Not terribly complicated - a series of contested rolls. It takes a few moments, yes. But it allows for a lot of player creativity in the exchange, and can build tension in a way that a quick ruling can't. It avoids the issue of the GM ruling being (or being perceived as) biased toward a preferred result.

If this event wasn't supposed to be interesting enough to engage the mechanics, why is it happening?
You ask a VERY good question there, Thank You! (I will now reward you with more words, you are happy! ;)).
When I developed my own game, I first just kind of started where 4e left off, with a couple 'clever' ideas added, but soon I asked this same question. The answer, for me, was "If nothing is at stake then there are no mechanics." Thus was born the Interlude (I am not the first to come up with this). HoML now consists of Challenges and Interludes, nothing else. Either you are challenged, and thus make checks to navigate the challenge, or nothing is at stake. The idea of a 'free check', one which simply comes up disconnected from anything else, is entirely foreign to the game. If the PCs are simply visiting the market, with no plan in mind, and no goal they are working towards (at least at the moment) then it is an Interlude. If the wizard negotiates with the tailor for a new wardrobe, this is not something that needs mechanics, the wizard's fate, his identity, his fortune, none of this is materially in doubt, only how much it will cost him to raise his hem. The GM and the player can work this out, RPing if it makes them happy, or just assume the wizard got what he wanted. I have an abstract system for resources too, so at most a 'modest expense' might be tallied up against his resources, perhaps he'll have to hit up the dwarf to cover his bar tab if he's broke.
Now, should the wizard's attire be of consequence in the ongoing narrative, then perhaps this becomes a check within a challenge in which the wizard hopes to gain employment with the Merchant's Guild so he can spy on his rival. TBH I probably wouldn't make this a check even then in that I don't see anything really being wagered at this specific point. I guess perhaps if he wants a very sumptuous robe, but that might even be best handled when he shows up wearing it, or not. There's a lot of leveraging characters traits here too, so a savvy wizard with a good sense of politics and some informants might be be played like "I show up at the Guild" and then "The Guild Master is present!" followed by "Oh, let me use my savvy politician to make sure I'm dressed appropriately <resource check>" etc.
 

I'd be fairly confident, were I to ever end up in one of those games, in my ability to within a rather short time do or try something that the game isn't set up to handle... :)
You cannot, by design, 'break' Dungeon World, for example (it and Apocalypse World are both PbtA games, so the core concept is the same). The whole game simply works as a self-contained process. The GM 'colors in a piece of the map', that is a scene is framed in which the PCs are present, and then makes a move. GM moves can be either "hard" (IE something attacks you) or "soft" such as "Reveal an Unpleasant Truth". The PCs now have something to deal with, and it must certainly engage them as characters (this is a part of the principles of GMing in DW). The game provides a bunch of hooks, each character is THE <classname>, and has several 'bonds' which are things they value, abhor, people they owe, whatever. So it is not hard for the GM to engage at least one PC with a given move.

Once the GM makes his move, it is up to the players to make their own in response. There is a short list of moves you can make, with many of them requiring certain fictional positioning (IE you can only 'Carouse' when you reach a suitable location and no immediate action is in progress). In some cases a player may not really have a choice, some overwhelming danger appears, they are going to make a 'Defy Danger' move, the only question being what fiction (and thus ability score) will they choose? Usually though there are choices. The GM says "some orcs appear a bit down the corridor", you could choose to Spout Lore about orcs "look, those orcs are marked with the red eye, we are friendly with their chief", or "Fire Missiles", or "Hack and Slash", or "Parley", etc. Individual characters might have unique moves, "Cast Charm Monster", or whatever.
So, you could try to do something that "isn't covered by the rules" but it must be, because it is SOME sort of 'move'. If the wizard say's he's "Hiding in Shadows" he doesn't have a move for that. He can declare that fictional action, but it either has no mechanical consequence, or perhaps it could be cast in terms of "Defy Danger" or something like that, depending on the situation. There is always some kind of check made, and since the DW moves are defined more in terms of what they accomplish vs HOW, or in terms of a general process, you can't really get "outside the rules."
 

EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
So... I'm just wondering, does anybody know what this thread is about any more? (Or, for that matter, what it was about in the first place? At first I thought I sorta understood what the OP was getting at, but I have become less and less certain of that.)
I suck at being succinct, but I will try. Reusing Umbran's useful physics/elegance analogy.

Pretend some new phenomenon is discovered, driving a search for new theory. Two alternative theories are proposed. One of those theories is "ugly" or "inelegant"--its equations are cumbersome, complicated (e.g. several parts/functions), or reliant on new constants of nature that can only be measured by observation, not calculated mathematically (the way pi is, for instance). The other theory is meaningfully more elegant--simple and sweet, coming from first principles, etc. The "ugly" theory, however, is demonstrably superior at predicting the actual behavior of this new phenomenon: let's say, 10% of the time, the elegant theory predicts something is almost certain to happen but doesn't, or almost certainly won't happen but does, while the "ugly" theory has such problems only 0.1% of the time.

It would be entirely valid to say, "The fact that this elegant theory is close but still suspiciously erroneous indicates we need to do more study. We can reasonably expect that an elegant solution exists, we just haven't found it yet." It would also be entirely valid to admit that the elegant theory doesn't work as well, but is a sufficiently good approximation much of the time--that's how Newton's laws work, they're good approximations of both quantum theory and Einstein's equations as long as certain parameters aren't too big (e.g. speed) or too small (e.g. amount of things). It can even be valid to argue that the elegant theory is an easier place to start so you get a handle on what phenomena are involved, before grappling with all the moving parts of the "ugly" theory.

I am asserting that it is NOT valid to say, "We should still use the elegant theory, and presume it is closest to the correct understanding of this phenomenon, despite knowing it makes wrong predictions, because it is more elegant; further, this choice should be intuitively obvious." In other words, I am arguing against "elegance is the best metric of utility, and this is self-evident." Likewise, meta-aesthetics--ANY meta-aesthetics, whether or not I personally care for them--are NOT the best metric of game design. They absolutely can be a wonderful metric, and designers ignore meta-aesthetics at their peril! Again, just so this is EXTREMELY EXPLICITLY said: Good game designers should care about meta-aesthetics. Period. But just because something is too important to ignore, does not imply that it is therefore more important than any other consideration, to say nothing of that implication being self-evident.

LOL, since my own personal rules could effectively be called this "heartbreaker" I have to interject here. The 4e approach, which resulted in the existence of NORTH OF FIFTY THOUSAND POWERS (literally, no exaggeration) is clearly neither elegant nor practically beneficial. Our game, were it to be commercialized, would probably contain on the order of 500 powers. Yet it contains virtually all of the flexibility of the original. Call it 'elegance', call it anything you want, but 100x decrease in the necessary number of powers to achieve the same level of expressiveness, that is what I call A HUGE WIN.
And make no mistake, I did NOT set out with some sort of 'aesthetic' goal. I felt from the beginning that the 4e approach was flawed, but I had no special axe to grind beyond making it better. I DO feel it is more elegant to have basically a unified list, but I base that entirely on observation of the improvements gained! Frankly there is simply no way I could possibly design thousands of powers anyway, and there were goals I had in mind which didn't allow for simply making everything compatible with 4e's specific detailed structure. Honestly, at this point our game has diverged a lot from 4e anyway, but my advice to anyone who wants to make a game with the core 'power' concept is, don't make the mistake of putting them in too many niches. Its fine to say "you can only do this if you have met certain requirements", but in our case we shifted those to the narrative side, and then made the narrative construct a very solid part of the game. So, your fighter could have a fireball, but there would be a darned good reason, in narrative terms, for why, and there's probably a wizard someplace who will cast a better one.
I'm not--at all--saying that 4e's power list wasn't bloated (though there are reasons why your numbers are suspicious to me, that I'll get to in a moment). I am, however, saying that the strident insistence that "all Martial characters should draw their powers from the same Martial-only list" reflects an excessive belief that a certain meta-aesthetic ("one-stop-shopping," centralization, whatever you want to call it) is inherently and axiomatically more important than any game design considerations that might apply. That is, these assertions are made without context, plan, or anything like caution; they are instead asserted immediately, as obvious and unalloyed goods, without any (stated) thought to the potential negative consequences.

Now, as for those numbers themselves: how on earth did you achieve that? Even if you restricted character options down to, say, 12 classes (about half of 4e's actual set) and made only 3 builds apiece on average (about 1 less than my rough-and-ready average of 4e's actual options) and eliminated all themes and made it so there were only an average of 2 paragon paths per class with zero PPs for anything else (such as race), and only offered one ED per power source, and only offered one specific power per build (including Utilities) at any given level where powers are offered, and only offered say 20 races (far lower than actual 4e)...well, let's see. All of these numbers are minimums, by the way--some PPs and EDs get more powers through their features.
Per class: 60 powers
Per race: 1
Per PP: 3
Per ED: 1

12*60+20*1+2*12*3+1*3 = 720+20+72+3 = 815

So, yeah, I'd be real curious as to how you managed to cram anything even remotely like 4e's diversity of builds and options into only 500 powers, given how many things "powers" were for. Because I didn't even touch on anything like items that do something (each of which will have its own power), basic/universal powers, themes/backgrounds that might offer powers, etc.

(Also, I'd like your cite on the 50k number. All evidence I can find--including stuff I myself have said about this topic in the past, when the digital tools still existed--puts it closer to a fifth or sixth of that amount, between 8k and 10k.)
 

pemerton

Legend
Right, just to clarify, this is the function of the SC in 4e. Sadly 5e eschews this, and thus there simply are no rules for these types of situations. The DM simply decides which sorts of checks and how many will produce what fictional and mechanical result. What I contend is that this leads to a situation where the player MUST be entirely a "Character advocate" and the DM is inevitably cast into the role of saying what the player is 'allowed' to get
I suppose if you want or need such frameworks.

I find them unnecessary and an over complication of something I can do more quickly and effectively by making a ruling.
Don’t ask me, the bucket brigade orcs thing isn’t my idea... I have no idea where it came from or why it is even relevant, lol.

My only point is that general resolution mechanics aren’t universally superior and GM rulings is a perfectly acceptable method and is not to be assumed to be biased or oppositional.
Sure, one way to play a RPG is to have the GM decide what happens in any conflict.

But D&D has never taken that approach to combat, or to trying to resist an evil magician's hypnotism, or trying to suck poison from a wound before you die. There's nothing intrinsic to those sorts of things, vs trying to burn down a shed despite the bucket brigade, that means the first need mechanics while the second just needs "GM rulings". It's simply a product of the fact that, in the wargaming milieu of the time, Gygax et al thought about swords and about hypnotists but not about firefighters.

D&D can't do races, either, or cooking competitions, or even high jump competitions (every thief acrobat ties with every other thief acrobat of the same level, every time).

My point is that you can have a system that copes with the firefighting as much as the sword fighting, with running races and cooking competitions as much as contests of will and contests of steel, and that such a system can be concise (much briefer than AD&D) and need not have either limits or bloating. I know because those systems exist, and I play some of them. (Prince Valiant is probably my favourite at the moment, but Burning Wheel is hot on its heels.)

I also find it a bit odd that for someone decrying limits and corner cases, you're now saying, or at least strongly implying, that it's fine that D&D has no rules for firefighting (a limit) because that's a corner case where a GM can just make something up!
 

I sometimes find in systems which cover everything in the rules no matter what you try to do as a player, somewhat frustraing, because it often feels as it doesn't matter all that much what I try to do, if it's just going to be decided by the same rules.
 

pemerton

Legend
Er...in either case wouldn't the shed simply get a saving throw, modified in its favour by the existence of the bucket brigade?

Certainly that's what'd happen in 1e...a modified saving throw vs fire*.

* - 'normal fire' or 'magical fire' depending what you were throwing at it.
There are no rules for item or object or structure saving throws in B/X. Their presence in AD&D is an example of "subsystem proliferation".

I disagree that mainstream appeal is an inherent good when discussing the quality of any given game.
Perhaps, but it's still a factor: what's the point of the perfect game if nobody plays it?
Mainstream appeal is not a factor at all. Campbell plays RPGs that most RPGers have never even heard of, and has no trouble finding games, and people to play with!

A number of the games I play or have played (Prince Valiant, Burning Wheel, Cthulhu Dark, Wuthering Height) have no mainstream appeal. But I play them just fine.

maybe that was part of why 4e didn't end up doing so well: the mainstream demand just isn't there for a Story Game type of system. I suspect there's a whole lot (maybe even a large majority) of players out there who, like me, see the game as something of a competition pitting the PC party (the players) against a game world (the DM) which is out to kill them as and while they explore it.
This only reinforces @Campbell's point that you said was wrong. If there is no mainstream demand for exactly the sort of RPGing a person is interested in, then by definition mainstream appeal is of no relevance to them in thinking about the qualities and value of RPG systems!

Ironically, perhaps, I've bolded one bit of jargon (or a keyword?) in there that to a non-AW player makes no sense. Roll I get, but what's '+hot' mean?*
It's a stat: Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp, Weird are the five AW stats, rated generally from -2 to +3.

To be honest I'm a bit surprised that a RPGer of your experience would find this sort of thing so opaque!

I'd be fairly confident, were I to ever end up in one of those games, in my ability to within a rather short time do or try something that the game isn't set up to handle...
I'm pretty confident that this claim is nonsense.
 

pemerton

Legend
I sometimes find in systems which cover everything in the rules no matter what you try to do as a player, somewhat frustraing, because it often feels as it doesn't matter all that much what I try to do, if it's just going to be decided by the same rules.
In these systems, the assumption is that the fiction is what we care about, more than the mechanical process in and of itself.
 

Campbell

Legend
So I used to be really into games with universal resolution mechanics that treated every type of conflict the same, but over the course of the last 3-4 years where I have played mostly OSR games, Powered by The Apocalypse games, Forged in the Dark stuff, and other indie games (with a dash of Exalted 3 and PF2) I have really learned to appreciate discrete mechanics and subsystems because they actually say stuff about how things work in the fiction. Like they have insight to share with the table.

Like a social conflict should not necessarily feel like a skirmish. Capturing that in play can be a very good thing. It's why Classic Traveller is best Traveller and Stars Without Number is second best Traveller.
 

pemerton

Legend
So I used to be really into games with universal resolution mechanics that treated every type of conflict the same, but over the course of the last 3-4 years where I have played mostly OSR games, Powered by The Apocalypse games, Forged in the Dark stuff, and other indie games (with a dash of Exalted 3 and PF2) I have really learned to appreciate discrete mechanics and subsystems because they actually say stuff about how things work in the fiction. Like they have insight to share with the table.

Like a social conflict should not necessarily feel like a skirmish. Capturing that in play can be a very good thing. It's why Classic Traveller is best Traveller and Stars Without Number is second best Traveller.
I like both. Prince Valiant's uniform system - roll dice equal to stat + applicable skill + situations mods either vs target or opposed pool, with the option of extended resolution where the victor's margin depletes the loser's pool - is so straightforward and easy to apply, it makes play quick, rolls consequential, and the fiction loom large. And to some extent it's a fiction where we don't want minutiae like where exactly did the sword blow land.

But versions of Traveller that go for uniformity tend to suck, and flatten out the characters and the resolution.

I don't think I quite have the insight to explain what Greg Stafford got right (in Prince Valiant) and those versions of Traveller got wrong.
 

EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
So I used to be really into games with universal resolution mechanics that treated every type of conflict the same, but over the course of the last 3-4 years where I have played mostly OSR games, Powered by The Apocalypse games, Forged in the Dark stuff, and other indie games (with a dash of Exalted 3 and PF2) I have really learned to appreciate discrete mechanics and subsystems because they actually say stuff about how things work in the fiction. Like they have insight to share with the table.

Like a social conflict should not necessarily feel like a skirmish. Capturing that in play can be a very good thing. It's why Classic Traveller is best Traveller and Stars Without Number is second best Traveller.
Would you say that PbtA games do make social conflicts feel like skirmishes?

(Cards on the table: I run a Dungeon World game for friends. We don't play it nearly as "old school" as DW is originally intended for, but it works well for what we want. I have been slowly ratcheting up the social/intrigue elements of the game as things proceed, where the party must take into account how their actions will be seen, and must think about stuff like impressing the crowd, keeping secrets, or forging alliances. They have expressed a pretty clear, and thankfully positive, attitude about the game growing in these new directions, and have specifically referred to sessions where most of the "action" is social conflict as different in tone, both from "low-roll" sessions where mostly discovery happens and "big fight" sessions where they kick some tail.)
 

Campbell

Legend
Would you say that PbtA games do make social conflicts feel like skirmishes?

(Cards on the table: I run a Dungeon World game for friends. We don't play it nearly as "old school" as DW is originally intended for, but it works well for what we want. I have been slowly ratcheting up the social/intrigue elements of the game as things proceed, where the party must take into account how their actions will be seen, and must think about stuff like impressing the crowd, keeping secrets, or forging alliances. They have expressed a pretty clear, and thankfully positive, attitude about the game growing in these new directions, and have specifically referred to sessions where most of the "action" is social conflict as different in tone, both from "low-roll" sessions where mostly discovery happens and "big fight" sessions where they kick some tail.)

A lot depends on which one. Personally I prefer Freebooters on the Frontier to Dungeon World. I find the Dungeon World moves are a bit too generic for my tastes. I adore Apocalypse World, Cartel, Monsterhearts, The Veil, Pasion de los Pasiones, World Wide Wrestling, Power Beyond Doubt and Masks. They are some of my favorite games particularly because of the unique ways they model social dynamics.

I personally am very focused on social, cultural, and emotional dimensions of fiction. A big part of what sold me on Apocalypse World was the way it reflects on our capacity to do violence to one another. PF2 taking exploration and social conflicts seriously is also a big part of what drew to try running modern D&D again.
 

I'm not--at all--saying that 4e's power list wasn't bloated (though there are reasons why your numbers are suspicious to me, that I'll get to in a moment). I am, however, saying that the strident insistence that "all Martial characters should draw their powers from the same Martial-only list" reflects an excessive belief that a certain meta-aesthetic ("one-stop-shopping," centralization, whatever you want to call it) is inherently and axiomatically more important than any game design considerations that might apply. That is, these assertions are made without context, plan, or anything like caution; they are instead asserted immediately, as obvious and unalloyed goods, without any (stated) thought to the potential negative consequences.
Yeah, as I said, there's actually no specific fundamental underlying principle here. I just remember the day I cracked open a PHB1 in 2008, and as soon as I grokked what they had done, THE very first thought in my head was "this isn't scalable." I mean, I honestly don't even comprehend how anyone in WotC thought it WAS and why they made such a blazingly obviously bad strategic decision. I mean, it MIGHT almost work with 5e spell lists (as it did with AD&D ones) simply due to the fact that so very little additional material is planned, the lists were intended to BE complete as written. 4e was never intended to be so, it was designed, clearly and undoubtedly with near-infinite expansion as a central tenet.
Ironically, I might be able to get away with class power lists in my game, simply because I would be unlikely to create lots of expansions, but I don't even have the means to make 500 powers for my own use, so its moot. I contend that not categorizing powers is a superior design choice, but merely because it works, and because it probably would be more robust overall.
But, again, beyond that, there are other considerations in my game. You can only ever acquire any game element by means of narrative logic in play in my game. There is no process akin to 'XP' and 'leveling up' in which you go to some list and attach new stuff out of the blue onto your sheet. So, any of the issues one might bring up in terms of a single list that are relevant to that sort of process don't apply. Knights can get fireballs (well, maybe, play to find out) but they won't get them because a player picked them off a list and thought they were the mechanically best optimized option. It will happen because he learned the secret of fire while captured by the Azers, or something. Sure, you could go and deliberately get captured by Azers to get fireballs, go for it!
There are, in fact, only a very few prereqs for anything in my game, and those are simply based on mechanics, you can't utilize "bond with companion" if you don't HAVE a companion, which is a feature that only normally appears on certain classes. Maybe you can "multi-class", it would rely on the same sort of narrative logic process (nobody has ever tried, so far, so I don't have a rule for that).
Now, as for those numbers themselves: how on earth did you achieve that? Even if you restricted character options down to, say, 12 classes (about half of 4e's actual set) and made only 3 builds apiece on average (about 1 less than my rough-and-ready average of 4e's actual options) and eliminated all themes and made it so there were only an average of 2 paragon paths per class with zero PPs for anything else (such as race), and only offered one ED per power source, and only offered one specific power per build (including Utilities) at any given level where powers are offered, and only offered say 20 races (far lower than actual 4e)...well, let's see. All of these numbers are minimums, by the way--some PPs and EDs get more powers through their features.
Per class: 60 powers
Per race: 1
Per PP: 3
Per ED: 1

12*60+20*1+2*12*3+1*3 = 720+20+72+3 = 815

So, yeah, I'd be real curious as to how you managed to cram anything even remotely like 4e's diversity of builds and options into only 500 powers, given how many things "powers" were for. Because I didn't even touch on anything like items that do something (each of which will have its own power), basic/universal powers, themes/backgrounds that might offer powers, etc.

(Also, I'd like your cite on the 50k number. All evidence I can find--including stuff I myself have said about this topic in the past, when the digital tools still existed--puts it closer to a fifth or sixth of that amount, between 8k and 10k.)
OK, so HoML has around a dozen classes. There are only 'builds' to the extent that you could pick from a couple class features. So, lets say that totals out to 30 builds maybe? I don't technically have PPs and EDs as such, there are boons which can effectively emulate those, but EVERYTHING is boons, so its hard to say in detail what is analogous to a 4e ED, PP, ritual, feat, or item, exactly. Characters advance 20 times before they reach the capstone of being epic (20th level). That alone cuts the power lists by 1/3rd. I think we've pretty much reached the roughly 500 level already, by your numbers.
Honestly, powers TEND to be associated with power sources. That isn't COMPLETELY true, but it accounts for a lot of them. There are a small number that are effectively class-specific, as they relate to features of a class (there are for instance a series of powers that relate to the beserk state, which only berserks have, so nobody else will use them) A lot of 'core' powers however are pretty widely used. That includes some basic martial stuff, some basic elemental powers (which anyone who wants to blast things probably wants), etc. Priests and shamans and whatnot ALL cluster in the 'spirit' list, along with witches/warlocks.
If I really fleshed things out to the hilt, could I have 800 powers? I guess, maybe. I can't see the game growing beyond that sort of level though. I really stay away from the 4e 'sin' of having 18 of basically the same thing but with some really minor variation. Clearly there ARE some pretty similar powers, but they at least have considerably different thematics, or different risk/benefit (yes powers can be risky) profiles, etc.
As I said when talking about bonuses up thread, I don't believe in hair-splitting trivial differences. I want things to be distinct. If something occupies a specific niche, then I am not that interested in filling the same niche three more times. When you play and you do something, people should be able to say "Oh, look X happened!" It is just part of the larger-than-life kind of 'epic action' that is being aimed at.
 

I sometimes find in systems which cover everything in the rules no matter what you try to do as a player, somewhat frustraing, because it often feels as it doesn't matter all that much what I try to do, if it's just going to be decided by the same rules.
At least for me though, the rules aren't driving that. So, maybe I'm a very quick, agile fighter (my 5e cat person character). So, yeah, the 5e rules are PRETTY uniform, if I was trying to jump and climb, that's usually DEX checks, losing people in an ally, maybe a CHA check (probably depends on how I describe it). Anyway, you are basically making the same 6 checks over and over, and how I managed to lose the city guard, doesn't really matter much in the long run what check I used, right?
But it does, in the sense that I'M PLAYING Mrrrreeeoooowwwww!!! the "alley cat" and climbing on the roof is his thing. If I was playing the gnoll barbarian then maybe I'd be just killing whomever came after me. Maybe either plan works, maybe they're basically all just a check or three. But the fiction is what I chose, and if the GM is sharp then there's also going to be narrative consequences (fictional positioning) that is going to be a factor. So maybe climbing on the roof gets me the attention of people I would rather not deal with, and maybe killing a city guard gets me some other type of attention.
So the gnoll ends up being labeled a badass guard killer, the cat ends up making the acquaintance of some new 'buddies' who live on the rooftops.
 

Monayuris

Adventurer
Sure, one way to play a RPG is to have the GM decide what happens in any conflict.
This is hyperbole. No one is suggesting that the GM just decides what happens in any conflict. The concept of a GM making rulings does not at all facilitate this situation. The concept of GM rulings is to make fair judgements when the rules do not cover a situation.


But D&D has never taken that approach to combat, or to trying to resist an evil magician's hypnotism, or trying to suck poison from a wound before you die. There's nothing intrinsic to those sorts of things, vs trying to burn down a shed despite the bucket brigade, that means the first need mechanics while the second just needs "GM rulings". It's simply a product of the fact that, in the wargaming milieu of the time, Gygax et al thought about swords and about hypnotists but not about firefighters.
Again with the bucket brigade. I would suspect that the number of D&D games in the world that include an orc bucket brigade is probably in the low 1 to 2%.

The bucket brigade thing is just a strawman. Which came from your post: Here. So the only person suggesting that D&D has anything to do with firefighters is you.

If a bucket brigade of orcs becomes an important part of my next game session, I'll reach out to you for guidance on how I should run it.
D&D can't do races, either, or cooking competitions, or even high jump competitions (every thief acrobat ties with every other thief acrobat of the same level, every time).
Well D&D is not about any of these things. If you want these things to be important to your game then fine... use whatever framework makes you happy. But I really don't care about any of this. None of these things are an important part of any game I run and if they do come up, I'll make a ruling and move on. Easy peasy. Cooking competitions, high jump competitions, races are small stuff compared to dungeon delvng and exploration. They don't need any time to adjudicate beyond a quick ruling.

Another strawman argument, by the way. Since no one in this thread is at all talking about cooking competitions.
My point is that you can have a system that copes with the firefighting as much as the sword fighting, with running races and cooking competitions as much as contests of will and contests of steel, and that such a system can be concise (much briefer than AD&D) and need not have either limits or bloating. I know because those systems exist, and I play some of them. (Prince Valiant is probably my favourite at the moment, but Burning Wheel is hot on its heels.)
I'm not expecting a system to cope with firefighting. That is again the same strawman argument. You are creating a completely unlikely and insignificant situation to make a point. Firefighting orcs is not something that is expected to be within the scope of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Stop using that as an example of why one version of D&D fails against another version or another game.
I also find it a bit odd that for someone decrying limits and corner cases, you're now saying, or at least strongly implying, that it's fine that D&D has no rules for firefighting (a limit) because that's a corner case where a GM can just make something up!
I think you have me mistaken. I have never 'decryed limits and corner cases'. I simply have stated that corner cases not covered by the rules are well within the rights of the GM to adjudicate by way of GM rulings.

And again another mark for the same firefighting strawman argument.
 
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