D&D 4E Is there a "Cliffs Notes" summary of the entire 4E experience?

Status
Not open for further replies.

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Don't... for some people it's not that they can't do it... it's that they don't enjoy the experience/results. This is very similar to the whole push for players to be co-authors with the DM when it comes to setting details... that's great if that's what your players are looking for, but there are players who truly have no interest in co-authoring the setting and it in fact actively diminishes their fun in the game (and no it wasn't caused by the trauma of a bad DM, they really don't find the experience itself enjoyable).
Of course, I don't doubt it. As I said to [MENTION=23935]Nagol[/MENTION], it's just an aesthetic preference I don't share. I always want to contribute more to the game, even when I'm playing. I'm not a "lean-back" guy. :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Nagol

Unimportant
Which, of course, is perfectly fine. I just don't get it.

I think it is because about 95% of my gaming experience is GMing. Those few times I get to play, I want the luxury of dealing with just that one character.

If I'm going to worry about flipping between stances, dealing with narrative, external agency, and such, I might as well be GMing.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I think it is because about 95% of my gaming experience is GMing. Those few times I get to play, I want the luxury of dealing with just that one character.

If I'm going to worry about flipping between stances, dealing with narrative, external agency, and such, I might as well be GMing.
I think I'm so immersed that my resources and the character's resources are just one big pool of "our" stuff. :)
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Yes, but the design of 3.5 made it so that a character designed to trip succeeded most of the time, and a character who wasn't failed most of the time. That wasn't the sort of play that 4e wanted to support. 4e made it so the optimal play was to trip once in a while. A character who wants to trip a lot can choose more than one trip power, or use the stunting rules.

This isn't an issue of dissociation, or players having narrative control outside of character agency, however. The question of effectiveness is outside of the scope of whether or not you get to perform the attempt in the first place.

Also, codification of results is inherent in the rules, but codification of narrative is not. Results is "get a +2 bonus to your next roll", narrative is "I struggle mightily and free myself from the dragon's jaws."

Insofar as I'm aware, most 4E powers don't codify they narrative. Rather, they allow for a limited-use of a metagame mechanic. The narrative is still determined as it would be otherwise.

Because you don't want people to trip each other all the time? It's about the rules supporting the end result you want to see, not about supporting the process that produces the results.

I disagree here. It's not about the rules supporting the end result you want to see - it's about the rules codifying the nature of task-resolution; and even in that regard, they're only going to be able to cover so much. The end result you "want to see" might not happen - the important thing is that you get to try.

Plus, "trip is now an encounter power" is incorrect anyway. There is no "trip", there's a simply putting the prone condition on the target. And that can be accomplished by stunts, at-will powers, encounter powers, or daily powers.

That's largely a semantic difference - the wider principles we're discussing still hold even if a particular example isn't apt.

But your actions are NEVER limited, which is the point I keep trying to make. You can do your Spinning Hurricane Slash every round if you want. But only once during the fight is it going to have the special effect described in the power. Every other time, the attempt's resolution will be controlled by the stunt rules and DM negotiation.

I understand, I just don't find that to be a very compelling line of reasoning. Why have two different sets of mechanics for resolving the same task (one being a character power, the other being what you and the GM come up with)? Why not just use the exact same mechanics whenever someone wants to perform a Spinning Hurricane Slash? Likewise, if the special power is one that has any sort of association with it, and that only happens once, then it's clear that you're not performing the same technique every other time, which brings you back to square one.

Quite simply, you can do whatever you want, but you only have the power to dictate the resolution method if you've expended character resources to do so.

Those aren't character resources, then; they're player resources. They're also somewhat wasted, since the characters can already do that anyway with different mechanics, which strikes me as being a very inelegant design. It's like saying that once per day, you have the ability to hit on an attack roll of 51 or better on a d100, rather than on a 11 or better on a d20. Having two different ways to do the exact same thing doesn't seem useful.

Once you no longer conflate "character resource" with "an ability to narrate an attempt", it's all fairly intuitive. But, as KM pointed out above, it's an aesthetic that many players don't wish to embrace.

That's because character resources (to me) represent something that a character would use to make an attempt to begin with.

Yes, but they're connected by the fact that they are both metagame powers to bolster the character's story. Nagol's example can describe a planet because his character is supposed to know about planets, and being able to assert a fact about the planet directly supports that story.

Which is fine, because the character isn't attempting to do anything, nor is expending an in-character resources to do so. That's not dissociated in terms of character agency.

A fighter with "Come and Get It" is a exceptional warrior, who attracts attention from other combatants so that the warrior can prove his superiority. The player is using the power so that the character can have a scene that showcases his character concept. (Plus the tactical implications, of course.)

The problem is that this ability requires an action on the part of the fighter, which narrates that he's doing something, which causes a dissociation. That's leaving aside the issues of only receiving this ability as part of a class (which has an in-character understanding of being training, or more rarely, innate abilities)...and possibly of level (I say that because levels have a - admittedly nebulous - characterization of overall character aptitude; I'll admit this one is iffy though).
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I've always just imagined that the descriptor ("Light", "Serious," "Critical") is pretty unimportant, like most spell names.

So, you chose "spells are dissociative "?

I understand the whole desire to have all the mechanics "associated".

However, if you buy into the rationale you propose above, I fail to see the difference between a 1e, 2e, or 3e first level caster trying but failing to cast a spent spell and a 4e fighter trying to use a spent daily. (Except that maybe the 4e fighter has a better shot via p42.) Can you explain this to me?
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Well, if you subscribe to the whole Vancian concept, a spell isn't something you know how to do - it's a mental payload, a hand grenade you prepare from a book. Once it's cast, it's complete gone. And you can only carry so many spells in your head before you - I don't know, blow up or something.

There is a conceptual problem of why you can't just reload a spell - if I recall, Gygax had the original rules for spell prep be very time consuming, so you wouldn't do it during an adventure anyway. You might not even reload your high level spells until you got back to town and had a few days.
 

Remathilis

Legend
What I find mind boggling is that people who claim to hate dissociatve mechanics will not wory about hitpoints which are completely dissociative. (part meat largely not)

Hit points are so familiar people forget they are gibberish but worry about "Come & Get It", one of my favourite powers for the cool action movie images it conjures.

Anyway dissociative has not worried me since I realised D&D was a terrible simulation of reality & a fun game (1983)

[beserk button]

Because HP doesn't determine my (or anyone elses) actions in the fiction. (Unless "die" is an action, I guess). HP measures how long I get to keep kicking before I drop. The fiction (what the character sees) could describe hp damage as a bunch of equally valid things. Its a passive indicator of a bunch of variables in real combat to difficult to track individually. HP works because it doesn't dictate the story to me.

Come and Get It dictates the story. Glaringly.

CaGI is perhaps the single worst power ever written in D&D history. If there was ever a poster child for everything wrong with 4e, CaGI would be it. A quick review why.

* Unlike a large chunk of fighter powers, which can be described as "I hit and do X", CaGI is a very specific unique maneuver. That means EVEN IF we are willing to accept the "daily powers/encounter powers are just unique circumstances that arise, rather than some special maneuver I can only use once a fight/day", CaGI means once per day, like clockwork, the fighter meets the unique conditions to use that maneuver. Only once, mind you. If he uses it on the first room full of goblins in a dungeon, every other goblin in the complex is now magically immune to this trick. Until tomorrow, when they magically forget until a group falls for it again.

* CaGI overrides my control of NPCs without specific magical compulsion. CaGI demands I, as a DM, give control of my NPCs to a player to do something completely against their interests. A group of archers and a wizard surround the PC, bows drawn? Well, each one of them now drops their bows and implements and charges the fighter, who administers them each one good whack for their trouble, because CaGI said so. Be damned if its completely nonsensical for them to do this; I can't deny my player his toy so ambush ruined. It doesn't matter if they are oozes or Orcus, it just happens.

* Its broken. In their infinite wisdom, the WotC team not only thought it was a good idea to give the fighter's PC control over my monsters, they didn't even think this was worthy of a Will save at first. Thankfully, the errata fairy fixed that one.

* Its unfair. You'd NEVER use this ability on a player! No player in the WORLD would stand for their rogue, warlock, wizard, or archer-ranger to go charge a hill-giant in melee and get their brains knocked in without their consent. (Pre errata, they wouldn't even get a will save)!

While I don't play 4e, I've learned to be at peace with many of its concepts. CaGI is not, nor will it ever be, one of them. It is literally the threshold where 4e stops being a TTRPG and crosses full on into board game for me. I'd take a dozen DoaM, or martial healing abilities before I'd ever see a CaGI effect at my table.

[/beserk button]

...Calm blue waters, calm blue waters. Where were we?
 
Last edited:

And I am a bit boggled at folks still trying to refute the concept of dissociative mechanics. When I read the article I felt that it pointed out exactly what I didn't like about 4E. It was kind of an epiphany, very helpful in evaluating future games as to whether I'd enjoy them. I've met too many people who sincerely attribute their opinions on RPGs, not just 4E, to this criteria to be able to dismiss it as just a disingenuous edition war tactic.
It's not that there's nothing that fits the definition devised for "Dissociative Mechanics," it's that the way that definition was applied in the edition war was inconsistent and selective. In contrast, for instance, you immediately saw the issue in other games - I assume including other eds of D&D, since they're definitely there.

Even so, I can't find the concept compelling in the context of a fantasy RPG, because it's reducible to 'realism.' Look at The Alexandrian's original diatribe. Before he could rail against martial dailies as "dissociative," he had to reject the actual explanation given for them being daily in the PH1, and he rejected it on the grounds of realism. If all you wanted was for the mechanics to be associated, it wouldn't be an issue. Some hand-waving & arbitrary rationalization hardwired into the world, and you have spells that get memorized until the power-surge of casting them demagnetizes your neurons, gods that ration their miracles on the basis of requisitions filed at midnight, attack-specific exhaustion, intuitive metering of how much 'luck' you have left, or whatever it takes to link the whacked/arbitrary/abstract game mechanic to the equally whacked fantasy world. Reject certain of those on the grounds of realism (whether you use code like 'breaking immersion' or 'metagame dissonance' or not), but embrace others, and your issue clearly isn't really dissociation.


In the edition war, what the dissociative mechanics complaints boiled down to on close examination was even less sympathetic than craving realism in fantasy. You poked at a h4ter's explanations long enough and the patterns invariably came out. Dissociation was only an issue if it involved a martial power (case in point, Ramathilis, above, ranting about CaGI, but not Visions of Avarice) or something everyone could avail themselves of, like healing surges. It was never an issue if it was something that had been dissociated in prior eds, as well.

If one were to design a hypothetical new edition of D&D that cleaved religiously to the demand of avoiding Dissociated Mechanics, as they were called out in the edition war (not as someone like yourself might view them), the result would have been a profoundly imbalanced game that strongly favored casters, restored the Cleric to it's 'band aid' role, and generally resembled AD&D.

OTOH, if that hypothetical D&D were to just eliminate Dissociated Mechanics entirely, it would do away with hps, saving throws, have armor that both deflected hits and absorbed damage and a lot of other 'unrealistic' sub-systems - or provide fantastic in-world rationales for them (hps represent things like luck and the favor of the gods, and your patron deity sends you omens when your hps run low or inspires you to fight on when they're high). It would either need to do away with Vancian, to bring magic more in-line with the all-at-will abilities of other classes, or provide in-world explanations no sillier than those used for Vancian (not a tough bar to clear) to associate daily abilities for all classes, in order to achieve balance. Edition-warrior foes of Dissociated Mechanics would be just as un-accepting of such a hypothetical D&D, and would likely invent other reasons to hate it for not being traditional, imbalanced, caster-favoring, and selectively-realistic enough for them.

Because HP doesn't determine my (or anyone elses) actions in the fiction. (Unless "die" is an action, I guess). HP measures how long I get to keep kicking before I drop.
Which is something your character doesn't know. He doesn't know how much luck or divine favor he has left, for instance. For that matter, 'realistically,' it's devilishly hard to tell how badly wounded you are, yourself, just by how much it hurts or how you feel.

* Its unfair. You'd NEVER use this ability on a player! No player in the WORLD would stand for their rogue, warlock, wizard, or archer-ranger to go charge a hill-giant in melee and get their brains knocked in without their consent. (Pre errata, they wouldn't even get a will save)!
Actually, 4e monsters had all such of involuntary movement powers that are based on luring, tricking, or frightening the targets, PCs included, with or without any magic-implying keywords like 'Arcane,' or 'Divine.'
 
Last edited:

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Sure, and issues of managing limited resources are a fun way to put tactics into combat. It's just wonky to me when the resources being so limited are physical character actions, particularly with no explanation for how that works from an in-game standpoint.

You mean like: "You cannot try to pick the lock again until you've gained a level"?

-just trying to stay edition neutral.
 


Remathilis

Legend
Which is something your character doesn't know. He doesn't know how much luck or divine favor he has left, for instance. For that matter, 'realistically,' it's devilishly hard to tell how badly wounded you are, yourself, just by how much it hurts or how you feel.

Which was kinda my point: it doesn't "measure" anything happening in the fiction until you hit 0 and drop. Nobody can tell how damaging a hit was exactly, so since HP is basically plot-armor vs. death, an invisible action to heal (second wind) or visible action (healing kits, cure wounds) doesn't bother me. Its not like 1 hp = 1 scar, and healing removes the scar.

However, its also not trying to narrate the fiction to me either.
 

keterys

First Post
Come and Get It is a good example of a power that would have gotten a tiny fraction of the ire it got if it had instead been on a magic using class instead. As a paladin power, for example.

I don't think it was a good idea for it to be in the first PHB.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
This isn't an issue of dissociation, or players having narrative control outside of character agency, however. The question of effectiveness is outside of the scope of whether or not you get to perform the attempt in the first place.
Sure, but this thread isn't about dissociation, it's about 4e and summarizing the experience.


Insofar as I'm aware, most 4E powers don't codify they narrative. Rather, they allow for a limited-use of a metagame mechanic. The narrative is still determined as it would be otherwise.
I agree, 90% of 4e powers don't require any sort "may be dissociative" trigger warnings. It's just a useful construct for the other 10% (and doesn't exclude the previous 90%).

I disagree here. It's not about the rules supporting the end result you want to see - it's about the rules codifying the nature of task-resolution; and even in that regard, they're only going to be able to cover so much. The end result you "want to see" might not happen - the important thing is that you get to try.
But that's kind of the point. The rules are about trying to generate cool combats, with lots of different things going on. That's the point of encounter powers, to create variance. No one logically expects a game with random elements and opposing sides to play out exactly how they would expect.


That's largely a semantic difference - the wider principles we're discussing still hold even if a particular example isn't apt.
Not really. "Trip is now an encounter power" sounds like a restriction. There is no such restriction in 4e, you can try to knock someone down as often as you would like.


I understand, I just don't find that to be a very compelling line of reasoning. Why have two different sets of mechanics for resolving the same task (one being a character power, the other being what you and the GM come up with)? Why not just use the exact same mechanics whenever someone wants to perform a Spinning Hurricane Slash? Likewise, if the special power is one that has any sort of association with it, and that only happens once, then it's clear that you're not performing the same technique every other time, which brings you back to square one.
Why not? Because you don't want the player to do Spinning Hurricane Slash every turn. It's supposed to be special. So the system makes sure doing it more than once has disincentives.
Again, you may not like that aesthetic or disapprove of the design choice, but let's not pretend it's been done in error or doesn't make any sense.

Those aren't character resources, then; they're player resources. They're also somewhat wasted, since the characters can already do that anyway with different mechanics, which strikes me as being a very inelegant design. It's like saying that once per day, you have the ability to hit on an attack roll of 51 or better on a d100, rather than on a 11 or better on a d20. Having two different ways to do the exact same thing doesn't seem useful.
Yea, except one does 1dX+Y damage and trips, and also succeeds on an 8+ on a d20, whereas the other just trips, and only succeeds on a 14+. Seems like a valid resource to me.

That's because character resources (to me) represent something that a character would use to make an attempt to begin with.
And that's fine (for you). But that isn't what it HAS to mean. "I don't like it" is not the same as "doesn't make sense."


The problem is that this ability requires an action on the part of the fighter, which narrates that he's doing something, which causes a dissociation. That's leaving aside the issues of only receiving this ability as part of a class (which has an in-character understanding of being training, or more rarely, innate abilities)...and possibly of level (I say that because levels have a - admittedly nebulous - characterization of overall character aptitude; I'll admit this one is iffy though).
I've never thought as "actions" as being character resources. It would imply the characters are aware they exist in a stop-action universe.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Well, if you subscribe to the whole Vancian concept, a spell isn't something you know how to do - it's a mental payload, a hand grenade you prepare from a book. Once it's cast, it's complete gone. And you can only carry so many spells in your head before you - I don't know, blow up or something.

There is a conceptual problem of why you can't just reload a spell - if I recall, Gygax had the original rules for spell prep be very time consuming, so you wouldn't do it during an adventure anyway. You might not even reload your high level spells until you got back to town and had a few days.

Right, but I've just been told that a vancian caster doesn't know (or maybe doesn't need to know) what spells he's putting in his payload...at least not by name. Which seems to imply that an old school vancian caster doesn't actually choose the spells, that in fact it is that caster's player who makes the decisions.
 

Come and Get It is a good example of a power that would have gotten a tiny fraction of the ire it got if it had instead been on a magic using class instead. As a paladin power, for example.

I don't think it was a good idea for it to be in the first PHB.
If anything, there should have been more powers like it added: a hundred or so, for a Martial Controller class, for instance. ;)
 

Seule

Explorer
I describe 4e as by far the best-balanced and interesting tactical battlemat RPG ever made. Nothing else I've tried can rival it, everyone always has interesting choices and different classes play differently. It came with several problems however. The skill challenges while they did encourage some interesting character choices seriously undermine RP in many cases and the entire game just doesn't place much emphasis on roleplay at all, leading to most games I've been involved in focussing on what the next combat is going to be. That's the interesting part in the system, that's where the focus is. If that's the kind of game you want it's unparallelled, if not then play something else (or be prepared to stretch the system where it doesn't naturally go).
 

keterys

First Post
If anything, there should have been more powers like it added: a hundred or so, for a Martial Controller class, for instance. ;)
A fighter often exerts as much control as any controller, until high levels :) Bash and Pummel is a good example of a strong and versatile martial control power that few should find "realism" problems with. It's also not weaker than most non-martial powers, which is often the route people take on the "martial can't have fun toys" route.

That said, note that I said in the PHB. Come and Get It in a later product? Sure, whatever. WotC should have put their best foot forward, and oftentimes did not do so. Shame, really.
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Right, but I've just been told that a vancian caster doesn't know (or maybe doesn't need to know) what spells he's putting in his payload...at least not by name. Which seems to imply that an old school vancian caster doesn't actually choose the spells, that in fact it is that caster's player who makes the decisions.

Were you told this in this thread and I missed it?

An old school vancian caster definitely picks his spells - I'm assuming from a spellbook here, since Jack Vance didn't have clerics like that as far as I know - since the spells are clearly labeled in his book as to their identity. One could suggest that you could mislabel a spell, or have an ignorant (Rincewind?) caster who doesn't know what he's doing - but he definitely says "I'm preparing the spell on this page that says 'fireball'".

If you were referring to clerics - I do remember some vague line from Gygax that the cleric might not get the spells he prays for - which would be like going to the quartermaster and saying "give me three frag grenades" and he says "not in your mission spec, take this radio".
 


Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top