D&D 5E How much should 5e aim at balance?

It never occurred to me that spell levels were unknown to the characters. I believe all editions of the game (prior to 4e) assumed that was knowledge known.

Your use of hit points as an example reveals to me you don't really understand that article. Hit points are an abstraction but they are not dissociative at all. You have a state of health. A character knows about that just fine. You just refuse to see the distinctions but they are pretty obvious.

Um... hit points are an utterly absurd mechanic for representing "state of health". If your state of health is reduced then you get slower and clumsier. A PC on one hit point has all the offensive potential of a PC on 100 hit points. They aren't battered, wounded, and struggling to hold their sword up as someone with 1% of their health left would be. It's straight from able to bounce off the walls to unconscious.

if encounters are more powerful than at wills why does tide of iron an at will power average more damage than rain of blows an encounter power? Not to mention the 5 foot push.

It doesn't is the simple answer. And if they are even close you should choose a different power. There are four parts to the damage done by a power.
  • The damage roll. 1[W] in both cases.
  • The stat modifier (if applicable - Tide of Iron only).
  • The static bonusses, added to any damage roll.
  • The conditional bonusses (often 1/round or 1/turn - e.g. Hunters' Quarry).
I doubt you have any conditional bonusses (and RoB is more likely to trigger them - you only need to hit with one of the blows). So we can ignore them.

The important part of the damage done by a power for multiattacks is static bonusses - bonusses like those from Weapon Focus (+1/2/3), a +X weapon/inherent bonus (+X from 1-6), or Iron Armbands of Power (+2/4/6). (There are more but those are the major ones). This is because each hit is a separate damage roll.

Assume a character who picked Str 20 at level 1, has inherent bonusses, weapon focus at level 6, and Iron Armbands at level 6. (You shouldn't be picking RoB unless you get the third attack but this makes the point about damage). I think a trident is a +2/1d8 weapon? And the to hit chance is equal so I'm ignoring it and just calculating damage in the sblock.

[sblock]At level 4:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 5 (str) + 1 (enhancement) or 10.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2*1d8 (trident) + 1 (enhancement) or 11 damage.

[It only does less damage on average if you have no magic weapon at all and a strength of 20]

At level 8:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 6 (str) + 2 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 1 (Weapon Focus) or 15.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2 * 1d8 (trident) + 2 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 1 (Weapon Focus) or 19 damage.

At level 12:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 6 (str) + 3 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 2 (Weapon Focus) or 17.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2 * 1d8 (trident) + 3 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 2 (Weapon Focus) or 23 damage.[/sblock]


As we can see, Rain of Blows both does more damage than Tide of Iron and scales better. Especially if you then throw some sort of damage bonus and get to claim this damage bonus twice.

But like a lot of things in 4e, Rain of Blows real purpose isn't fully explained. What it is there for is to make agile spear, flail, or light blade wielding fighters into a force to be reckoned with. With two attacks it's about equal to a very strong at will (Twin Strike). With three you're deep into striker damage territory on this power - enough of a boost to make what would otherwise be a sub-par build that should work well thematically into something highly effective (9.5 extra potential damage for the L8 example is a lot).
 

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Emerikol

Adventurer
This is not relevant to the point I made.

The player of a PC knows what the PC's hit point total is, and therefore knows when that PC's luck is running out - knows when the next good sword blow will not be a graze or nick or scratch, but instead something fatal or near-fatal.

Does the PC know that too? And if so, how? Does s/he have the Norns on speed-dial?

Part of the issue and I see this too. I see hit points as definitely physical. Damage, fatigue, etc... You see it as luck. That is another divide between our two camps. It's not a problem because hit points can be interpreted any way you want. That is until you have martial healing which is something I hate but that is another thread.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
Um... hit points are an utterly absurd mechanic for representing "state of health". If your state of health is reduced then you get slower and clumsier. A PC on one hit point has all the offensive potential of a PC on 100 hit points. They aren't battered, wounded, and struggling to hold their sword up as someone with 1% of their health left would be. It's straight from able to bounce off the walls to unconscious.

It doesn't have to be linear. It is though an accurate in game meter for how close you are to dying. So there is nothing dissociative about it. It may be an abstraction and it may be unrealistic but that has nothing to do with dissociation. It's why the older editions worked. Hit points meant what they meant for each group as they chose. In my campaigns the heroic part was when the PCs fought despite injuries. YMMV. In 4e they shattered this whole notion and of course ruined the game for tons of people.

4e chose a side. The minority side in my opinion. And basically threw everyone else overboard assuming we'd just accept all these changes. We did dive overboard and swam to other games. It's just sad that D&D the flag ship of my style of play until 4e should just suddenly change. I hope 13th Age or some other 4e clone can make your style happy if 5e doesn't. But yeah if it comes down to pre-4e style D&D or 4e style D&D surving then I choose pre. Pre has been around a lot longer and has a larger fanbase.
 

pemerton

Legend
Right, so the sim crowd starts to ask for examples of how it works in play. Replies include: well, the fighter is too tired to kick, but still has arm strength to slash, and so forth. The sim crowd of course finds these explanations to be unsatisfactory, uncompelling, or implausible.
But this I don't follow. I've watched Jacky Chan movies where he is too tired to kick but has the arm strength to slash.

Is the thought that this sort of thing can't happen ever? Because the FitM narration doesn't require that it happen continously. Just once.

To put it in perspective: a 4e PC will gain, at most, 29 levels. In that time, s/he will have, on average, 5 fights a level. (The other XP come from quests, skill challenges, freeform RP, etc.) That's around 150 fights overall.

Now the suite of encounter powers changes every tier, so that's around 50 fights with a given suite of encounter powers. Furthermore, several of those encounter powers will overlap, more-or-less, with at-will powers, or one another (either in structure, or in actual effect in play - while there is a mechanical difference between attack 1 target and attack 2 targets, in the fiction there is no difference between an at will that hits one target and a two-target encounter power that hits only one target), or will be immediate actions that don't reflect a "special move" but simply introduce more fluidity into the abstraction that is the turn-by-turn sequence.

So we're probably talking 50 or fewer occasions, over 29 levels of play, where the issue arises in the fiction of "it only being doable once". Is it really implausible to suppose that from time to time the opening isn't there, or the PC is too tired or distracted or just having a bad day?

like any ad hoc explanation, those explanations fall into an argument about consistency and cohesion
Is this a claim based on actual play experience? Or is it conjecture? FitM-heavy games devote a fair bit of energy to setting out techniques to deal with this - genre-fidelity being the main one. The 4e rulebooks have only a very modest discussion of the genre constraints (eg in the discussion of the conceits of the D&D world, and the meaning of the three tiers) but the very many detailed story elements set out as part of the rules (which contrasts with a more abstract and "toolkit" system like HeroQuest revised), plus the art, plus (for many of us) long familiarity with fantasy RPGing make the genre pretty clear.

I haven't had any issues with this. And were they to come up, they would create about the same level of problem as debates, in sim/immersive play, about how much time really passed in searching the room or travelling from A to B, as an element in the resolution of spell durations.

Some times it's not parsed, I think in many cases it IS parsed by still rejected.
What I am interested in is what is being rejected. I don't care how any one else plays their RPGs. That's their prerogative.

What irritates me a bit is when some posters reject the viability of playing an RPG in a non sim/immersive style. As if it can't be done! When in fact, all over the land, people are dong it!

Or the "blindspot" of the 4e crowd to see validity in what the sim crowd is looking for
But who is saying that D&Dnext should not be able to support sim/immersive play?
 

pemerton

Legend
I see hit points as definitely physical. Damage, fatigue, etc...
It may be an abstraction and it may be unrealistic but that has nothing to do with dissociation.
I have the same issue with fatigue as [MENTION=87792]Neonchameleon[/MENTION]: if you're fatigue when your hit points get low, why doesn't this affect your movement rate, or your ability to run, or the accuracy of your bowfire, or anything else like that?

And my isseu with damage is that it makes PCs behave like buildings being demolished: the enemy weapons gradually hack away the "meat" until there is nothing left.

You are correct to say that this is unrealistic. For me, it also doesn't fit with the genre. In fantasy fiction (both classic and modern), heroes don't suffer this sort of "meat attrition". They dodge, and weave, and eventually (on occasion) their luck runs out and they fail to dodge.

To borrow a phrase, "hitpoints as meat" spoils my willing suspension of disbelief!
 

Shadeydm

First Post
It doesn't is the simple answer. And if they are even close you should choose a different power. There are four parts to the damage done by a power.
  • The damage roll. 1[W] in both cases.
  • The stat modifier (if applicable - Tide of Iron only).
  • The static bonusses, added to any damage roll.
  • The conditional bonusses (often 1/round or 1/turn - e.g. Hunters' Quarry).
I doubt you have any conditional bonusses (and RoB is more likely to trigger them - you only need to hit with one of the blows). So we can ignore them.

The important part of the damage done by a power for multiattacks is static bonusses - bonusses like those from Weapon Focus (+1/2/3), a +X weapon/inherent bonus (+X from 1-6), or Iron Armbands of Power (+2/4/6). (There are more but those are the major ones). This is because each hit is a separate damage roll.

Assume a character who picked Str 20 at level 1, has inherent bonusses, weapon focus at level 6, and Iron Armbands at level 6. (You shouldn't be picking RoB unless you get the third attack but this makes the point about damage). I think a trident is a +2/1d8 weapon? And the to hit chance is equal so I'm ignoring it and just calculating damage in the sblock.

[sblock]At level 4:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 5 (str) + 1 (enhancement) or 10.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2*1d8 (trident) + 1 (enhancement) or 11 damage.

[It only does less damage on average if you have no magic weapon at all and a strength of 20]

At level 8:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 6 (str) + 2 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 1 (Weapon Focus) or 15.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2 * 1d8 (trident) + 2 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 1 (Weapon Focus) or 19 damage.

At level 12:
Tide of Iron does 1d8 (trident) + 6 (str) + 3 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 2 (Weapon Focus) or 17.5 damage.
Rain of Blows does 2 * 1d8 (trident) + 3 (enhancement) + 2 (Iron Armbands of Power) + 2 (Weapon Focus) or 23 damage.[/sblock]


As we can see, Rain of Blows both does more damage than Tide of Iron and scales better. Especially if you then throw some sort of damage bonus and get to claim this damage bonus twice.

But like a lot of things in 4e, Rain of Blows real purpose isn't fully explained. What it is there for is to make agile spear, flail, or light blade wielding fighters into a force to be reckoned with. With two attacks it's about equal to a very strong at will (Twin Strike). With three you're deep into striker damage territory on this power - enough of a boost to make what would otherwise be a sub-par build that should work well thematically into something highly effective (9.5 extra potential damage for the L8 example is a lot).
zI think there are some assumptions on your part that aren't really clear to me for example saying the to hit chance is equal seems odd to me when one power requires 3 to hit rolls to work to its full effect and the other only one. Additionally the assumption that one is using a weapon which allows 3 attacks seems odd to me its not as if the power states certain weapon types as a prerequisite like ToI states you must be using a shield. I just don't see RoB or even Hack and Hew as superior powers that need to be balanced by restricting them to once per encounter. I could say this about a lot of fighter encounter powers even CAGI after errata/nerfing doersn't seem like multiple uses per encounter would be unbalancing.
 

Underman

First Post
But this I don't follow.
OK. I don't have the patience to follow through with my side of things, sorry. It's like Enworld Vietnam.

But who is saying that D&Dnext should not be able to support sim/immersive play?
I suspect you infer too much from my statements. Every statement has its context. No need to generalize too much from what you think I'm saying. To answer the question, I don't know. But I'll give you a common example: a lot of people don't like martial dailies. A lof of the 4e crowd say "I get you don't like it" and yet continue to argue for it. That implies to that they'd like to have martial dailies in 5E. Does that mean that they'd insist on having martial dailies in 5E at the expense of those who don't want it? I don't know. And even now that fighters have Combat Superiority, the 4e crowd continues to talk about 4e martial dailies not being a problem. I don't know what to make of it - I don't know what people want, I don't know if they know what they want.
 

pemerton

Legend
I'll give you a common example: a lot of people don't like martial dailies. A lof of the 4e crowd say "I get you don't like it" and yet continue to argue for it. That implies to that they'd like to have martial dailies in 5E. Does that mean that they'd insist on having martial dailies in 5E at the expense of those who don't want it? I don't know. And even now that fighters have Combat Superiority, the 4e crowd continues to talk about 4e martial dailies not being a problem. I don't know what to make of it - I don't know what people want, I don't know if they know what they want.
Dailies are a particular issue because of the nova problem associated with Vancian casters. So at least some people want a viable martial PC who can also keep up with the nova schedule.

I don't think anyone is saying that must be the only martial PC. But it has to be a viable one. (In 4e, after all, a daily-empowered fighter sits alonside the Knight and the Slayer.)

The concern is that, at present, the game seems to be being designed with no thought given to how any martial PC might be able to work on the same nova schedule as casters.
 

It doesn't have to be linear. It is though an accurate in game meter for how close you are to dying. So there is nothing dissociative about it. It may be an abstraction and it may be unrealistic but that has nothing to do with dissociation. It's why the older editions worked. Hit points meant what they meant for each group as they chose. In my campaigns the heroic part was when the PCs fought despite injuries. YMMV. In 4e they shattered this whole notion and of course ruined the game for tons of people.

4e chose a side. The minority side in my opinion. And basically threw everyone else overboard assuming we'd just accept all these changes. We did dive overboard and swam to other games. It's just sad that D&D the flag ship of my style of play until 4e should just suddenly change. I hope 13th Age or some other 4e clone can make your style happy if 5e doesn't. But yeah if it comes down to pre-4e style D&D or 4e style D&D surving then I choose pre. Pre has been around a lot longer and has a larger fanbase.

You talk about pre-4e fans and 4e fans as if they are a dichotomy. In my 4e game until a few months back I had four players. All of whom had over twenty five years experience playing D&D - with that length of time it's hard to talk about them as being not fans of pre-4e.

The 4e take on hit points isn't new. It's precisely what Gygax talked about in the 1e DMG. 2e changed this into something that shattered my suspension of disbelief and made genre-emulation impossible. And IME a lot of 1e players are much happier with 4e than they were with 3e or even 2e. Players whose favourite edition was 2e, not so much - especially not those who continued to play 2e using 3.X rules (which is the way 3.X works best IMO).

4e chose a side and a playstyle - as has every edition there has been. 2e chose a side when it tried to change the nature of hit points into something that made no coherent sense (4e changed it back) and tried to throw out the gameism (XP for GP) in favour of granting XP for behaving like a stereotypical member of your class.

So your objection is that the changes this time didn't suit you when the last 2-3 edition changes did. Fair enough. And 5e looks like choosing a side - that of the 2e and 3e holdouts who haven't migrated to Pathfinder and who don't find that PF does fluff and what they are looking for from a game better than WotC. Which is a pretty small side IMO.
 

Shadeydm

First Post
I have just such a level 16 spear-wielding goliath fighter in my 15th-level campaign, by the way.
I'd love to look at the build for ways I might improve mine. If you are willing to share please shoot me a PM with the details.

Thanks!
 

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