No flips for you!
I'd agree that it's pretty silly to consider that the same thing happens precisely again, but it seemed to me that your assumption about the 5e DC was that it would always have to be 15 if a climber's kit was used. This doesn't hold. It's a different situation, so the DC can change based on the GM's appraisal of how well the approach works with the fiction. Players should not be upset if a different DC obtains in a different situation.I think this is where we have a difference of conception.
It's probably hard to pin down to the level of precision you state here ("exactly the same wall") because that almost never happens. Even if it's literally the same place, the pressures on the PC are probably different - eg you're fleeing yeth hounds rather than wargs rather than wolves rather than a pack of rats.
What I'm trying to convey, though, is that broad sense of change of scope/stakes is - in general - enough to do the work of carrying the DCs. Another way to put it, borrowed rom Burning Wheel, is that assignment of DCs is not[/i[ doing the work of conveying the colour, the tone and feel and detail, of the world. That work is being done prior to DC assignment, by everyone's sense of who these PCs are, what tier they are, what the stakes are, etc. One upshot is that the world of 4e is painted with in much broader strokes, with a much more neon palette, than the intricacy, subtlety and "grittiness" of BW or even Tomb of Horrors. I personally think this is a feature - of course history reveals that not everyone agrees.
I think your point is that the DC in 5e will be considering the fictional situation and the action declared to determine it, whereas in 4e, for your approach, the fiction is mostly orthogonal.
I agree with this, with the possible expectation that a 4e player couldn't be upset that a GM has picked a +4 level hard DC for something the player felt was presented as an easier task. This is an edge case, though, an I think it goes to say that the fiction presented is, at least, a rough constraint on the selection space for DCs even more so that just tier. Fiction isn't entirely orthogonal to DC, just mostly.We agree on this. I've restated your point here just above, with my reference to "level of precision". But there is something in the neighbourhood that I'm trying to convey, pointing to games I'm familiar with that mark the difference.
I read your first sentence as referring to upset in 5e. I hope that's right.
My view is that in 4e, the player can never be upset (on reasonable grounds) about the maths, provided the GM is following the DC-by-level and monster/NPC/trap-building guidelines. So, for instance, s/he can never validly complain How come that bugbear had so many hit points? - which is a legitimate complaint in (eg) AD&D, if the GM just makes a bugbear arbitrarily tougher. (For related reasons, I think advice about "curb-stomping"/"roflstomping" encounters stated in the books and restated in this thread is not good advice - that advice presupposes that a monster has an "objective" mechanical expression. But showing the players that PCs with the maths of 10th level characters can defeat an encounter designed for 5th level characters, to my mind, has all the thrill of reminding them that 10 is greater than 5 - ie it can be done pretty quickly and trivially and is not worth even a minute's time at the table. The way to convey "roflstomping" is by use of minions, swarms etc in meaningful encounters which are devices that convey the change of fictional scope/stakes using the (non-DC related) toosl that a 4e GM has ready to hand.)
What a 4e player can legitimately complain about is that the fiction is silly/unpersuasive/repetitive/boring. This is one reason - not the only one - why I think discussions of what makes for good scene-framing, that come out of "indie" RPGing, are useful for 4e in a way that they're not for (say) AD&D.
I agree again.I stick to the terminology of objective/subjective because (i) I've used it over many discussions for many years and so am comfortable with it, and (ii) it conveys - to me, at least! - that the purpose of the DCs is, or is not, to convey some "truth" about the fiction. I think in AD&D this is the case (eg 8 HD vs 4 HD tells us that a hill giant is bigger and tougher than an ogre) whereas in 4e I think that is not the case - the fiction prior to the mechanics which is based on D&D tradition, expressed thematic content, etc tells us that sort of thing (perhaps together with non-DC related mechanical elements like a size stat, the description implicit in a combat ability, etc); whereas the level and DCs and damage expressions (ie all the stuff for which there is a "by level" chart) are then wheeled out simply to make sure that the thing we've already conceived of will deliver appropriate game play.
Part of the reason I am keen to spell all this out is that I think it reveals, transparently, what so many RPGers disliked about 4e D&D without applying spurious labels such as "dissociated mechanics" or misleading ones like "treadmill" that - as this thread shows - some people interpret as an implausible denial that earlier versions of D&D never had scaling. Of course they did! But the relationship between mechanics and fiction evinced by scaling in AD&D is completely different from 4e D&D. (3E is much harder to comment on, and much weirder, as I said above.)
This statement seems very odd to me, in that AD&D didn't have a mechanic similar to DCs, except the "roll under stat." I don't think 5e has moved towards this, which, using your definition of sub/objective, appears to be a subjective system -- it's roll under stat no matter what's involved. 5e is most certainly not this. 5e isn't 3e, either. It's more an outgrowth of AD&D "GM decides" with a bit more of a framework a la 3-4e. More 4e in framework than 3e. What 4e might look like if DC was more tightly coupled to the fictional situation -- if 4e was more objective. But not quite.As you know I'm nothing like an expert on 5e, but I think it's return to more-or-less AD&D norms as far as DCs (both in combat and out-of-combat) are concerned is an important part of its success. It treats hit points a bit differently from AD&D, but I think leaning into the pre-existing slipperiness of hp/damage is a clever design decision, because hp already either conceal a multitude of sins, and have been forgiven for doing so. The cost for someone like me is that the combat game becomes far less dynamic than 4e made it, and the colour that in 4e was so rich (which I say without resiling from what I said above about broad brush strokes and neon colours) is much diluted. (In this thread, I think the term "mundane" is used by some posters to convey the same idea. I prefer my way of conveying it.)
Yes, this is what I understood, apologies for my rough handling.I say something different from this - perhaps I should say I go further than this. I assert that there is no alignment of DCs to fiction. That is a concept that presupposes, in some fashion or to some extent, what I am calling "objective" DCs.
I am asserting that there is the fiction, and then there are DCs and other level-dependent stuff like damage expressions, and the former has to stand or fall on its own merits and plausiblity/consistency/verisimilitude/thematic heft, while the latter stand or fall based on the technical adequacy of the maths. (This is why there were multiple maths revisions that did not require any fiction revisions; and conversely why you can have fiction variants - like Neverwinter cramming paragon theme into heroic tier, or (in my view, though unlike Neverwinter not expressly stated) Dark Sun expanding paragon theme into epic tier - without needing to change any maths.)
A comparison - imperfect but hopefully comprehensible - is to AW, where there is no alignment of DCs to fiction, either loose or tight. There is just a constant spread of probabilities, designed for pacing reasons (and mathematically much more straightforward and transparent than 4) with everything else being carried by the fiction itself separately from the mechanics/maths.