D&D 5E L&L The Next Phase

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
Ha! Yeah, good old Player's Option.

As much as I loved 2nd Edition, admittedly my kitbashed version that looked more like 3rd, I find it hard to conjure up positive memories of those books. Combat and Tactics had... some cool stuff past weapon specialization... and critical hit confirmation that didn't require a second roll. And I'm sure someone truly pure of any powergaming desire could make an interesting character out of Skills and Powers, it was just so... utterly broken.

Cheers!
Kinak

Conversely, I have very fond memories of the Player's Option books. Combat & Tactics in particular, as it was the first D&D book to properly lay out rules for using miniatures in combat. It's the precursor to the 3E and 4E combat systems - the first time "Attacks of Opportunity" are named and allowed in reaction to more than just movement. The books have some severe balance problems, which led to the revamp of the entire AD&D system in 3E, and also showed the problems with point-buy class systems, but an awful lot of what we know in 3E, 4E and PF comes from those books.

The big point about Combat & Tactics is that you didn't need it to play AD&D, but you could add in its combat system and get something that is different to regular combat but still works in the AD&D framework.

Cheers!
 

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frankthedm

First Post
The part that's really bugging me is that they are mentioning passing off all those things to a second design team. In other words people to carry the can. Oh, and that they aren't worrying about their own core math at all. Everything I find interesting that has been pitched for Next is a part of the work that not only hasn't been started but is the responsibility of the second design team. I'm now considering GenCon 2014 extremely optimistic (or possibly very pessimistic as if they get it out by then the second design team will have done basically no playtesting).
Given the time between public playtest and how much further development the system is looking forward to, I can't shake that "Your input is important to us and will be carefully disregard." feeling.

I'm also darkly amused that they referenced Combat and Tactics (and no, 4e combat doesn't look much like C&T for a reason), and one of the modules appears to be the return of Skills and Powers.
They want the folks who left the game when it went 3E.
 

Kinak

First Post
Conversely, I have very fond memories of the Player's Option books. Combat & Tactics in particular, as it was the first D&D book to properly lay out rules for using miniatures in combat. It's the precursor to the 3E and 4E combat systems - the first time "Attacks of Opportunity" are named and allowed in reaction to more than just movement. The books have some severe balance problems, which led to the revamp of the entire AD&D system in 3E, and also showed the problems with point-buy class systems, but an awful lot of what we know in 3E, 4E and PF comes from those books.
You know, it occurs to me that I last read Combat and Tactics before I started getting into tactical combat. I still have a copy in my office, I should dig it up and read it.

Thanks for inspiring me to take another look!

Cheers!
Kinak
 

pemerton

Legend
The part that's really bugging me is that they are mentioning passing off all those things to a second design team. In other words people to carry the can. Oh, and that they aren't worrying about their own core math at all.
if you don't have the math you don't have a game that's fit for purpose. You have a level 20 thief-acrobat who has a 1/8 chance of falling off a tightrope (as I complained of about two packets ago) when in the real world, lunchtime walkers can do yoga on a tightrope. It fails at its purpose, and therefore the design fails. Without the math characters either can't do things they should, or can do things they really really shouldn't. And either situation means that the entire design is a failure. Math is fundamental to the game, and they are putting in the foundations at the end.
I agree with you that, in an RPG which makes numbers central to its action resolution mechanics, the maths is fundamental. But my agreement is grounded in a particular approach to RPGing - namely, that the action resolution mechanics are the pre-eminent mode for the players to have their impact upon the gameworld, and that once the action resolution mechanics are in play its the GM's job to adjudicate them but not to suspend or disregard them. I don't know where I learned this approach to RPG play - I guess from Moldvay Basic, although I don't think it's expressly stated in that ruleset, and maybe also from Traveller with its many subsystems for skills and other things - but I know that I consolidated it over years of playing Rolemaster. And then brought it to, and further developed it over the course of, my 4e play.

But I think that many players, many GMs and many groups don't approach the game in that way. They are the audience for the sidebars on pages 1 and 3 of the most recent playtest DM guidelines, about ignoring the dice and setting DCs ad hoc and ex post facto . And for those players the maths is not fundamental, I think. What's important to them, as best I can tell from the outside of that outlook, is that the PC build rules should lead to character's whose numbers, on the page, convey the right flavour (so my barbarian should be naked but still numerically tougher than a mage; my fighter should have a high weapon damage number; etc); and the action resolution rules don't really have to do much other than convey a flavourful sense of effort on the part of a PC. The work that I (and I think you) would like the maths to do, they are happy to achieve via GM fiat at various points of action resolution, and perhaps even PC build.

I'm also darkly amused that they referenced Combat and Tactics (and no, 4e combat doesn't look much like C&T for a reason), and one of the modules appears to be the return of Skills and Powers.
I played a C&T-using game back in the late 90s, but my memory is pretty hazy, I never read the rules at the time, and I have a feeling my GM got OAs wrong.

I picked up a copy cheaply a year or three ago, and read it earlier this year. I didn't do the maths on the crit system and so have no idea how it would work out in play. Otherwise there was nothing too inspiring. I certainly think it's a mistake to look at 4e and see nothing but the precision of a wargame grid as the difference between its combat resolution and Next's "theatre of the mind". Other fantasy games - d20 and non-d20 - show that you can have 4e-style visceral combat, in which PC build sets the framework of resources that will then feed into significant choices (significant both in mechanical and story terms) within the context of action resolution, without requiring a grid.

In other words, I'm agreeing with [MENTION=56051]Raith5[/MENTION] upthread.
 

pemerton

Legend
The downtime system also looks interesting.
Finally a campaign system that focus on downtime seems like it will contain a lot of rules that i would think are DM suggestions or guidelines.
I would be hoping for something that includes action resolution options for the players to take advantage of: so that, say, there are meaningful trade-offs (mechanical and, therefore, story tradeoffs) between resting, studying, researching, recruiting, training etc.

4e doesn't really have this - the closest it's come in my game is that occasionally a PC has spent time studying a ritual while other PCs take an extended rest. That's a very modest range of choices, and the occasions when learning a ritual is more important than an extended rest are pretty rare. There's a lot of scope to set up a more wide-ranging system that makes long-term time matter.

For me, the GM-side of this - for example, rules or advice on pacing and/or growing the opposition - is actually less important. A lot of that I can work out for myself. Whereas the trade-offs on the player side are something which I would like to see being properly balanced and integrated with the overall frameworks for PC build and action resolution.
 

frankthedm

First Post
Is ENworld really the place to drag a personal feud from another forum?
While the full context of the post may have been a personal feud, admitting this...
I'm just here to join in the argument. I don't have a goal beyond that. If I were to win the argument and the argument would end, my reason for existence would end as well.
IMHO is potentially pertinent to further discussions. Just as any of my older posts that show my level of trust of WotC would be pertinent to my previous post.
 
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Cyberen

First Post
[MENTION=87792]Neonchameleon[/MENTION], [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] : I think you are establishing a false dichotomy between DMing styles here. At least, as false as the one I established between protagonism and naturalism.
When you are practicing scene framing, you handwave the "boring" parts and jump to the conflict, so I don't think having a Thief Acrobat walking a tightrope (without external pressure) would be more than colour in your game. For more than 20 years now, RPG have had guidelines about when to roll or not to roll. In 3.x, it's even called "Taking 10" ;-)
Using a single d20 dooms D&D next to fail at naturalism, it's a given. But I am quite sure the design team is fully aware of it, hence the sidebars in the rules, Mearls envisioning an overhaul of the Take 10 mechanism (he mentioned "Taking your ability score" as a replacement, but it probably won't happen).
Of course, a good way to improve consistency while presenting meaningful choices to the player could use some kind of Skill Challenge mechanism, and I am pretty sure we will eventually have one.
I also think WotC did a decent job with their exploration and social interaction frameworks, so I am quite optimistic concerning the downtime implementation.
You are 100% right 4e is not about the grid, but the expression of a very intricate game of character building. In its essence, 4e combat is closer to a game of Magic than a wargame using minis (and I am glad D&D is moving back to something simpler and more organic).
 

pemerton

Legend
I think you are establishing a false dichotomy between DMing styles here.

<snip>

When you are practicing scene framing, you handwave the "boring" parts and jump to the conflict, so I don't think having a Thief Acrobat walking a tightrope (without external pressure) would be more than colour in your game. For more than 20 years now, RPG have had guidelines about when to roll or not to roll. In 3.x, it's even called "Taking 10"
I don't agree that the contrast in styles is a false one, although I'm happy to agree that presenting it as a dichtomoy is abstracting the tremendous variety of actual approaches into a couple of stereotypes.

The very fact that, in the D&Dnext materials, the rules about when checks are appropriate are presented in the DM Guidlines and not the How to Play document, speaks to me of the contrast that I pointed to. And I've also experienced it, particularly in playing 2nd ed AD&D. And I see evidence of it in RPG discussions all the time.

I also think WotC did a decent job with their exploration and social interaction frameworks, so I am quite optimistic concerning the downtime implementation.
I don't have a strong view on the exploration system. I started a thread on the interaction system, where I set out what I do like and what I would like to see changed a bit (mostly, multiple rolls to allow dynamic but non-fiated evolution of the situation during resolution). The downtime system I will wait and see on - I've said what I would like upthread, but I'm not confident that WotC will necessarily go that way, rather than in a more AD&D-ish direction.

In its essence, 4e combat is closer to a game of Magic than a wargame using minis
I've played a bit of Magic, and quite a bit of 4e, and I don't really find this to be the case at all. Even the role of standardised templates for "moves" is very different, because in Magic keywords are purely for establishing interlocking mechanical effects, whereas in 4e they also establish fictional positioning. But the essence of 4e combat, for me, is that it has mechanics that permit expression, in the fiction, of the protagonistic desires of the players (action points, powers of various depths at various recharge rates, a sophisticated action economy) - this is something that D&D spellcasters have always enjoyed to some degree (do I use Magic Missile or Lightning Bolt?) but stepped up even for them, I think, and certainly stepped up for other PC types.

This contrasts with AD&D where the player of a fighter has no way of mechanically expressing his/her desire to have a greater or lesser impact on the situation in any given turn, and even the player of an MU can only express this by choosing a higher- or lower-level spell.

In Next, I can see this sort of mechanical feature in the fighter's Action Surge and Weaponmaster manoeuvres, the warpriest's extra attack ability, and the rogue's Ace in the Hole (though that doesn't kick in until 20th level). I think they will need more of this sort of stuff, spread over more classes, to emulate 4e.
 

ShadowDenizen

Explorer
The part that's really bugging me is that they are mentioning passing off all those things to a second design team. In other words people to carry the can. Oh, and that they aren't worrying about their own core math at all. Everything I find interesting that has been pitched for Next is a part of the work that not only hasn't been started but is the responsibility of the second design team.


Honestly, it seems like they’re trying for an “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” approach. I think that the dev’s should focus first and foremost on the CORE RULES (which are supposed to be relevant to just about everyone), and, and set aside the “Optional Modules” (Each of which are just for a “Subset of Players”, anyway) to come later.

It seems (to my eyes) like it was a LONG TIME INTO this playtesting process that they even discussed the basic tenets of “What HP’s mean”, and “How are we handling skills/feats?”, while less important questions like “How do we make monsters MORE EPIC” or “How do we make a “Downtime” system?” got fast-tracked.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Honestly, it seems like they’re trying for an “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” approach. I think that the dev’s should focus first and foremost on the CORE RULES (which are supposed to be relevant to just about everyone), and, and set aside the “Optional Modules” (Each of which are just for a “Subset of Players”, anyway) to come later.

It seems (to my eyes) like it was a LONG TIME INTO this playtesting process that they even discussed the basic tenets of “What HP’s mean”, and “How are we handling skills/feats?”, while less important questions like “How do we make monsters MORE EPIC” or “How do we make a “Downtime” system?” got fast-tracked.

Well, to be honest they have indeed delayed the design of modules of downtime, interaction, tactical combat etc. They've mentioned the concept behind them, but never gave us anything to playtest, which probably means they just discussed the concept and maybe made a draft.

This year of playtesting was explained as having the purpose of testing concepts and broad mechanics such as "how are we handling skills/feats", seeing how people reacted to them. Clearly it was pointless to fine-tune the math of something before they had the concepts and broad mechanics stabilized after playtest feedback. Now they are starting to fine-tune the math, and given the task to a specific group of designers.

Regarding "what HP means", my opinion is that they have decided that not providing a definitive answer would be the best answer.
 

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