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More DMing analysis from Lewis Pulsipher

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Add to these requirements the demands for player agency, "balance" and fairness required for Story Now! and Gamist play and I think a "broad church" RPG, while not necessarily impossible to attain, will be a tough nut to crack. So far, I don't see 5E getting particularly near it.
One thing that makes me wonder about the style debates is how things as basic to accommodating as many different points of view as 'balance' or 'fairness' get segregated to specific styles. 'Balance' isn't a style, it's a way to let various styles interact in the same game without wrecking it - balance is not one of the conflicting goals that must reach a compromise, balance /is/ the compromise. Fairness is even more basic: if you don't think the game should even be fair, why should you expect anyone to be fair to you, or your 'style?' What basis do you even have for bringing a group together.
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
One thing that makes me wonder about the style debates is how things as basic to accommodating as many different points of view as 'balance' or 'fairness' get segregated to specific styles. 'Balance' isn't a style, it's a way to let various styles interact in the same game without wrecking it - balance is not one of the conflicting goals that must reach a compromise, balance /is/ the compromise. Fairness is even more basic: if you don't think the game should even be fair, why should you expect anyone to be fair to you, or your 'style?' What basis do you even have for bringing a group together.
I would think in this case, "balance" refers to the "all options roughly equal" style of character/monster building necessary to grade challenges, which is important for Gamist play. Balance between, say, combat and exploration is a different issue.
 

Emerikol

Villager
That is, of course, if you are (a) particularly learned in a field, (b) of a particular mental/emotional bent, and (c) looking for the kind of simulation of process which underwrites your own mental processing.
Another possibility is that we imagine more detail than the rules provide. As long as the rule doesn't hinder what we are imagining it works out. As DM I often narrate the outcome of the die rolls in all sorts of flavorful ways. It is probably one of the reasons people dislike martial healing and rapid hit point recovery. It stifles their narrative.

I agree some people fit into the categories you defined. How many I don't know. When it comes to movies, I've experienced exactly what you say. As an IT professional, I have a hard time enjoying movies with quick and easy hacking of every system coming and going.

Personally I'm not looking for a wounds module. I like the abstraction of hit points. That makes the game heroic but I can keep the narrative where I want it without that much trouble. Maybe it's my experience.
 

Emerikol

Villager
One thing that makes me wonder about the style debates is how things as basic to accommodating as many different points of view as 'balance' or 'fairness' get segregated to specific styles. 'Balance' isn't a style, it's a way to let various styles interact in the same game without wrecking it - balance is not one of the conflicting goals that must reach a compromise, balance /is/ the compromise. Fairness is even more basic: if you don't think the game should even be fair, why should you expect anyone to be fair to you, or your 'style?' What basis do you even have for bringing a group together.
Several answers. Balance is not the only good and perfect balance at the edges as defined by some on these boards is hostile to other priorities.

Those of us wanting the rich heritage of D&D magic and also the simple fighter keep hitting the buzz saw from these people. Our choices are either practically supernatural fighters or totally dumbed down watery magic or some combination. I really don't have a balance issue with any edition of D&D. I've had great fun with each edition save one. That one was devoted specifically to the ideals of the people I'm talking about.

When they savage 5e because of balance when I believe the game has already compromised tremendously to make them happy I see no happy ending where I am enjoying the same game they do.
 

Starfox

Villager
To block peasant railguns, or bag-of-rats, or other stuff like that in d20 requires GM fiat - which is to say, the game engine must be messed with. No self-respecting RM or C&C player would put up with it!
Somewhat on a tangent, I am with Gödel here - I do not believe it is possible to construct a game systems such that it can resolve all situations that the system creates. GM fiat is not a despicable option - it is a necessity. Only the simplest, most high-level simulations can even approach the ideal you are looking for (ie wargames).
 
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'Balance' isn't a style, it's a way to let various styles interact in the same game without wrecking it - balance is not one of the conflicting goals that must reach a compromise, balance /is/ the compromise.
I would think in this case, "balance" refers to the "all options roughly equal" style of character/monster building necessary to grade challenges, which is important for Gamist play. Balance between, say, combat and exploration is a different issue.
Just for interest, here is some discussion from Ron Edwards on balance:

"Balance" is one of those words which is applied to a wide variety of activities or practices that may be independent or even contradictory. . . . The word is thrown about like a shuttlecock with little reference to any definition at all. That's the current state of the art. So I'm taking time-out . . . to go on a full GNS balance rant, because the assumption that Gamist play is uniquely or definitively concerned with "balance" is very, very mistaken.

Overall
1.Compare "balance" with the notion of parity, or equality of performance or resources. If a game includes enforced parity, is it is balanced? Is it that simple? And if not, then what?
2.Bear in mind that Fairness and Parity are not synonymous. One or the other might be the real priority regardless of which word is being used. Also, "Fair" generally means, "What I want."
3.Are we discussing the totality of a character (Effectiveness, Resource, Metagame), or are we discussing Effectiveness only, or Effectiveness + Resource only?
4.Are we discussing "screen time" for characters at all, which has nothing to do with their abilities/oomph?
5.Are we discussing anything to do at all with players, or rather, with the people at the table? Can we talk about balance in regard to attention, respect, and input among them? Does it have anything to do with Balance of Power, referring to how "the buck" (where it stops) is distributed among the members of the group?

They can't all be balance at once.

Within Gamist play
1.Parity of starting point, with free rein given to differing degrees of improvement after that. Basically, this means that "we all start equal" but after that, anything goes, and if A gets better than B, then that's fine.
2.The relative Effectiveness of different categories of strategy: magic vs. physical combat, for instance, or pumping more investment into quickness rather than endurance. In this sense, "balance" means that any strategy is at least potentially effective, and "unbalanced" means numerically broken.
3.Related to #2, a team that is not equipped for the expected range of potential dangers is sometimes called unbalanced.
4.In direct contrast to #1, "balance" can also mean that everyone is subject to the same vagaries of fate (Fortune). That is, play is "balanced" if everyone has a chance to save against the Killer Death Trap. Or it's balanced because we all rolled 3d6 for Strength, regardless of what everyone individually ended up with. (Tunnels & Trolls is all about this kind of play.)
5.The resistance of a game to deliberate Breaking.

Within Simulationist play
I am forced to speak historically here, in reference to existing and widespread Simulationist approaches, not to any potential or theoretical ones. So think of Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, and Rolemaster as you read the next part.

1.One fascinating way that the term is applied is to the Currency-based relationship among the components of a character: Effectiveness, Resource, Metagame. That's right - we're not talking about balance among characters at all, but rather balance within the interacting components of a single character. I realize that this sounds weird. Check back in the Sim essay to see how important these within-character interactions can be in this mode of play.
2.And, completely differently, "balance" is often invoked as an anti-Gamist play defense, specifically in terms of not permitting characters to change very much relative to one another, as all of them improve. This is, I think, the origin of "everyone gets a couple EPs at the end of each session" approach, as opposed to "everyone gets different EPs on the basis of individual performance."
3.Rules-enforcement in terms of Effectiveness, which is why GURPS has point-total limits per setting. Note that heavy layering renders this very vulnerable to Gamist Drift.

Within Narrativist play
This gets a little tricky because I can't think of a single coherent Narrativist game text in which balance as a term is invoked as a design or play feature, nor any particular instance of play I've been involved in which brought the issue up. But I'm pretty sure that it's a protagonism issue.

1."Balance" might be relevant as a measure of character screen time, or perhaps weight of screen time rather than absolute length. This is not solely the effectiveness-issue which confuses everyone. Comics fans will recognize that Hawkeye is just as significant as Thor, as a member of the Avengers, or even more so. In game terms, this is a Character Components issue: Hawkeye would have a high Metagame component whereas Thor would have a higher Effectiveness component.
2.Balance of Power is relevant to all forms of play, but it strikes me as especially testy in this mode.

That's the end of my balance rant, but I beg and plead of anyone who reads this essay: I would very much like never to hear again that (1) Gamist play must be uniquely obsessed with balance, or (2) if play is concerned with any form of balance, it must be Gamist. These are unsupportable habits of thought that pervade our hobby and represent very poor understanding of the issues involved.​

Lewis Pulsipher also has coments on balance, from a companion article to the one quoted in the OP. I don't have it ready-to-hand, so I'll summarise: he notes that MUs are the most powerful and versatile PCs at mid and high levels, and suggests that GMs will have to be careful to avoid having the players of MUs dominate play.

This could be seen as an instance of Edwards' Gamist 2 (effectiveness of different strategies), and at the extreme 5 (breaking), Simulationist 3 (character effectiveness that extends beyond the notional level-appropriate limits) and Narrativist 1 (players of wizards get disproportionate screen time). Obviously some players (including, perhaps, Gygax) think that the power trajectory for MUs is an instance of balance in the sense of Gamist 2, but with a longer real-world conception of the unit of play over which effectiveness of strategies must be balanced: fighters are more viable at the start but have a power cap; MUs are vulnerable at start but lack the same cap. (This obviously won't work if players are allowed to start characters above 1st or 2nd level.)

4e, with its martial encounter and daily powers, can be seen as a version of Edwards' Thor vs Hawkeye point: fighters get meta-resources to balance the raw effectiveness of mages. But obviously this is controversial. One balance-style criticism I have seen is a version of Edwards' Simulationist 1 - namely, that it's unfair that fighter players get all this "meta" as part of their build when mage players don't.

Which I think is consistent with the point that not all these forms of balance can be achieved simultaneously.
 
GM fiat is not a despicable option - it is a necessity.
Being rid of it is an aspiration for purist-for-system sim play, at least as I have engaged in and encountered such play. Edwards' comments on that - "the system is not to be messed with" - resonates for me.

The aspiration may not be realisable in practice, but I think there are significant differences in where the bumps appear in the rug. For instance, in 3E or 4e-style turn-based combat with small parties and movement speeds that are somewhat slow relative to real-world human capabilities, you won't get peasant railguns emerging. But the fact that the system can't, even in principle, be extrapolated to larger groups of characters without introducing such problems is (from the purist-for-system point of view) a flaw, because it is a marker of causation being violated.

It is hard to exaggerate the number of hours and amount of intellectual effort that I, as a RM GM, put into trying to construct an initiative system and action economy that would allows for initiative (ie reflexes) to matter - and hence have an action declaration and initiative phase - but would also permit continuous action without peasant-railgun-type problems. And there were still problems: probably once every half-dozen sessions it would turn out that the way in which the end of the round fell made a difference to someone's action resolution for a reason that made no ingame sense (mostly because their movement would bring them within reach of an enemy before the end of the round, and hence they couldn't redeclare their parry, but if the enemy were 5' or 10' away then they would be outside reach and hence have a chance to redeclare parry at the beginning of the round before the last distance would be closed and the attack from the enemy come in).

These problems were grudgingly tolerated but were clearly experienced by all the game participants as just that - problems.

One way to try and solve this problem is by making "rounds" so short that all the events can be seen as happening literally simultaneously. I understand that GURPs has 1 second rounds. In HARP the rounds are 2 seconds. In Burning Wheel they are "1 heartbeat" ie around about a second or so. This solution has other issues though, which can be seen in HARP: archery, with requirements to spend time nocking, drawing, etc, becomes a less interesting option in play (because a lot of your actions don't actually involve attack rolls), and there is at least the risk (depending on how the maths of attacks and defence work out) that it is less powerful too.

BW uses a different time-frame for archery duels and firefights (flexible rounds of 20 seconds to 1 minute), and suggests that when a melee and a firefight are happening simultaneously that you resolve the rounds on a 1:1 basis, handwaving the differences in elapsed time. This is a fine gameplay solution, but reintroduces all the "violation of causation" issues once again.

(The above also constitutes more evidence/explanation for why Edwards' discussions around combat resolution and initiative, and the problems they cause for sim play, resonate so strongly with me!)
 

Starfox

Villager
Example: In swordfighting combat, the ability to pull off a move will likely be dictated by a host of details concerning relative physical positioning. Where are your opponent's feet relative to yours? Where are his or her arms? How is your balance and that of your opponent apportioned between left and right feet? If the blades are in a bind (touching), exactly how much pressure is there between them and in which direction? Guy Windsor has on his "Swordschool" site some (long) seminar videos that go into just this latter point; he goes so far as to suggest that medieval masters (Fiore dei Liberi specifically) distinguished between "Largo" and "Stretto" moves that could be (wisely) attempted only depending precisely upon the exact degree of force exerted in a bind. In short, the possible moves available to a swordsman will depend at least as much upon her opponent's actions as upon her own.
I didn't have time to comment on this when I first read it.

I feel this is a problem with games like 3E that tries to generalize maneuvers. Once you know how to trip, you can always trip-there is no need to wait for an opening, and the opponent has no way to look out for and guard against your recurring trip. Which can quickly get boring and repetitive. I'm going to list some possible ways to combat this situation:

Feng Shui had a "boring and repetitive" rule. If the GM judges and action repetitive, he can assign an arbitrary penalty. Feng Shui is supposed to be cinematic; your move was not cinematic enough and got cut. I'd append that the player should be given the option to try something else instead with his action, but that's me. This rules is simple and works in any game but not with any group.

4E tried to combat this with dailies and encounter powers; you can trip, but enemies will only fall for this once per fight. I could bye this explanation, but many (including most of my players) could not - it lacks verisimilitude.

There was a little-known combat card game called Highlander. A card game can solve this in that you have a random hand of possible maneuvers. If you read these as openings in your opponent's defenses, it is a solution to the problem. You can only trip when you have a trip card in your hand. (Highlander did not have a trip IIR, but you get the drift).

Fighting Fantasy was a book dueling game - each combatant was represented by a book with a position/stance on each page and a maneuver card with color-coded maneuvers. It was like advanced rock-paper-scissors. Certain positions were restricted; "Do only green or yellow next turn". Certain of these restrictions made you vulnerable to certain attacks - like trip. You could try to set the opponent up this way. Also, if one player consistently did trip attacks, the other would get wise to the tactic and use moves that were not vulnerable to trips. While interesting, this example is way too complex for rpgs in which you fight a lot, especially open melee (as opposed to duels).
 

Starfox

Villager
Being rid of it is an aspiration for purist-for-system sim play, at least as I have engaged in and encountered such play.

[...]

It is hard to exaggerate the number of hours and amount of intellectual effort that I, as a RM GM, put into trying to construct an initiative system and action economy that would allows for initiative (ie reflexes) to matter - and hence have an action declaration and initiative phase - but would also permit continuous action without peasant-railgun-type problems.
I fully respect your efforts in this direction, and I've had the same problems myself.

I fear that trying to rule away such problems is a method with sharply diminishing returns for reasons that have to do with Gödel's Theorem. At some point, an open-ended system WILL break down. The question is only when, and how much cumbersomeness of rules you accept in trying to remove it from the rules.

A simulation is always made to be accurate under certain parameters, a certain level of detail. It is much like trying to map our global Earth on a flat piece of paper - you can either preserve angles, or you can preserve scale, but you cannot preserve both. This is not a problem as long as the map covers only a small area, but as you widen the map the errors accumulate. With a projection which preserves angles, you can make white cut-outs on a world map to make the area depiction more realistic. This makes the map harder to read, and reduces the scale distortion problem, but does not eliminate it.
 
4E tried to combat this with dailies and encounter powers; you can trip, but enemies will only fall for this once per fight. I could bye this explanation, but many (including most of my players) could not - it lacks verisimilitude.

There was a little-known combat card game called Highlander. A card game can solve this in that you have a random hand of possible maneuvers. If you read these as openings in your opponent's defenses, it is a solution to the problem.
13th Age uses random allocation rather than player choice. (But not cards: odd or even attack roll, sometimes with minimum rolls required as well.)

Is the verisimilitude problem for 4e one of outcome - it's unverisimilitudinous that an opponent can be tripped only a limited number of times per fight (not technically true, but putting p 42 to one side for the sake of discussion)? Or one of process - it's unverisimilitudinous that my decision, as a player, determines whether or not my opponent has left an opening?
 

Tuft

Villager
I didn't have time to comment on this when I first read it.

I feel this is a problem with games like 3E that tries to generalize maneuvers. Once you know how to trip, you can always trip-there is no need to wait for an opening, and the opponent has no way to look out for and guard against your recurring trip. Which can quickly get boring and repetitive. I'm going to list some possible ways to combat this situation:

Feng Shui had a "boring and repetitive" rule. If the GM judges and action repetitive, he can assign an arbitrary penalty. Feng Shui is supposed to be cinematic; your move was not cinematic enough and got cut. I'd append that the player should be given the option to try something else instead with his action, but that's me. This rules is simple and works in any game but not with any group.

4E tried to combat this with dailies and encounter powers; you can trip, but enemies will only fall for this once per fight. I could bye this explanation, but many (including most of my players) could not - it lacks verisimilitude.

There was a little-known combat card game called Highlander. A card game can solve this in that you have a random hand of possible maneuvers. If you read these as openings in your opponent's defenses, it is a solution to the problem. You can only trip when you have a trip card in your hand. (Highlander did not have a trip IIR, but you get the drift).

Fighting Fantasy was a book dueling game - each combatant was represented by a book with a position/stance on each page and a maneuver card with color-coded maneuvers. It was like advanced rock-paper-scissors. Certain positions were restricted; "Do only green or yellow next turn". Certain of these restrictions made you vulnerable to certain attacks - like trip. You could try to set the opponent up this way. Also, if one player consistently did trip attacks, the other would get wise to the tactic and use moves that were not vulnerable to trips. While interesting, this example is way too complex for rpgs in which you fight a lot, especially open melee (as opposed to duels).

This is where the die roll comes in - it shows whether there really was an opening or not. As you'r skill, strength or agility does not vary over time, the die roll is there to simulate all the factors you do not have control over - is the arms, legs, etc in the right place, is the target off-balance or not, at that particular moment you look for an opening. A failed roll might as well represent that there was no opening to exploit.

In Computer Science, there is a concept called "Lazy Evaluation" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_evaluation), which basically means "dont calculate it unless you need it" - for example, when you simulate a scene using computer graphics, you can get a pretty good approximation by just calculating the path of the photons that enventually will hit the eyes of the imagined beholder's retina - and approximation called raytracing, as opposed to radiosity - but I digress..

In the same matter you can be lazy with the rolls - you don't need to roll for an opening unless someone is looking for an opportunity to trip/grapple/disarm. But I think this can cause a mental disconnect - you can easilly see it as that there *are* no opportunities unless you roll. When I played Shadowrun, there was a fierce table discussion about the fact that in that system you could roll for dodging when someone shot a firearm at you. Took a long time for people to accept the fact that you dodged all the time and you only rolled for it when it mattered. It really helped when finally Lazy Evaluation was brought up - since most of the players had a CS background, that argument finally got acceptance.

The thing about using the die roll to simulate the presence of openings and opportunities, is that as you improve in an ability, such as "trip", more and more narrow openings become exploitable, and you get more and more opportunities - as seen in a larger and larger part of the possible die roll results becoming sucesses. Not only are you able to use more narrow openings, but you can create openings when needed...

Which brings me to one of the problems I think AEDU has with getting accepted for maneuvers...

Why do we collect XP and level up in this game?

After all, the XP progression is just a death clock for a (hopefully) beloved character. At a certain XP sum, a certain level, that characters life is over, the campaign ends, and new characters are rolled up.

Well, the big draw is supposed to be that the character is supposed to become better as you level up. That is one of the big expectations people have of a level-up system.

As in for example, if you see yourself as the great maneuver expert, you do feel better when you get more and more opportunities to use your ability. With AEDU you dont gett any more chances than the number of maneuver ED cards you have, but with a die roll, if you can keep it improving ahead of the curve, you feel you get more and more opportunities.

I think that is why people simply want more chances than AEDU limits them to to be able to feel like they are becoming an Expert at something, whether it is trip, or disarm, or throwing big honking blocks of stone...
 

Starfox

Villager
Is the verisimilitude problem for 4e one of outcome - it's unverisimilitudinous that an opponent can be tripped only a limited number of times per fight (not technically true, but putting p 42 to one side for the sake of discussion)? Or one of process - it's unverisimilitudinous that my decision, as a player, determines whether or not my opponent has left an opening?
Rather the opposite of your last outcome - the player felt their integrity of choice was constrained by being able to use a power only once, even if it was a situation that clearly fitted the power. A bit of the unverisimilitude argument too, I guess, but mainly that the rules infringed on player choice. The problem was that an encounter power - even one patently unsuitable to the situation - was basically guaranteed to be better than an at-will power. Thus you ALWAYS used your encounter powers, making each fight feel boring and repetitive.

I actually made a fighter (never actually played) that had "Come and Get it" three times - that power existed in very similar versions both at heroic, paragon, and epic level. No rule prevented you from taking all these variants, and it got around the problem - the character and player choices were suddenly identical.

Now, this was not the only problem with 4E.
 

Starfox

Villager
The thing about using the die roll to simulate the presence of openings and opportunities, is that as you improve in an ability, such as "trip", more and more narrow openings become exploitable, and you get more and more opportunities - as seen in a larger and larger part of the possible die roll results becoming sucesses. Not only are you able to use more narrow openings, but you can create openings when needed...
This is where things like the bonus tokens and limit breaks of Action (A Feng Shui-based homebrew I and Tuft are playing) play an important role - they either disguise the repetitiveness of the action (all your semi-successful rolls are only the preambles to build bonus tokens; only the last roll was the true stunt) or limit how often you can do the action (only one fireball per sequence, because fireball is a limit break).

These concepts are a bit hard to translate into d20 (3E, Pathfinder). The closest I can see is how dragon breath is limited - for 1d4 rounds, the dragon cannot breathe fire again. The same could be used for combat maneuvers - after you succeed, roll 1d6. This is the penalty if you repeat the stunt next round. Each round you do something else, the penalty is reduced by 2. Or, more simply, give a -4 penalty if you are trying the same combat maneuver 2 rounds in a row. Now, this is not a serious rule suggestion, it is just a proposed d20 mechanic to match the other option-limiting mechanics I posted earlier.

What d20 actually does is the opposite - it encourages specialization, to the point where a single combat maneuver becomes a strictly better option IN ALL SITUATIONS. This overspecialization is not good game design. IMO, the linear probability of the d20 is to blame - it gives escalating returns both at the high and low end of the scale. I am much more fond of the pyramid-curve distribution you get when rolling 2 dice.

Edit: Actually, this is a bit similar to 4E, where the encounter powers are similarly the strictly better option, regardless of situation.
 
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Ruin Explorer

Explorer
The game was d20 Modern. I was played a WWII vet who ended up in the Groom Lake airbase in 1948 and witnessed an extra-dimensional attack. I knew the story required my PC to head through the portal from which the aliens were attacking, so I tried to get my motorcycle on their ship in a pretty crazy manoeuvre. The DM didn't think that would work. Which left me confused - I knew he wanted me to act like a hero and do stuff like that, but then he made it impossible.
To be fair this is partially a flaw of d20 Modern's rules. It claims to be a cinematic, exciting game where TV/Movie-type action happens, but the rules do not, in any way, support that. So it has/had a lot of DMs who want one thing, but then look at the rules and see they show another thing. If they were sensible, they'd dumb d20 Modern and go with a system that actually works for that kind of action.
 
TThe closest I can see is how dragon breath is limited - for 1d4 rounds, the dragon cannot breathe fire again. The same could be used for combat maneuvers - after you succeed, roll 1d6. This is the penalty if you repeat the stunt next round. Each round you do something else, the penalty is reduced by 2. Or, more simply, give a -4 penalty if you are trying the same combat maneuver 2 rounds in a row. Now, this is not a serious rule suggestion, it is just a proposed d20 mechanic to match the other option-limiting mechanics I posted earlier.

What d20 actually does is the opposite - it encourages specialization, to the point where a single combat maneuver becomes a strictly better option IN ALL SITUATIONS.

<snip>

this is a bit similar to 4E, where the encounter powers are similarly the strictly better option, regardless of situation.
In our 4e game we've never found that encounter powers are strictly better than at-wills in all situations (eg if you have only one enemy, who is adjacent to you, Footwork Lure is often better than CaGI).

As the game plays for me, I don't think the "you can do it again at a penatly" would play noticably differently from 4e (especially 4e including p 42).
 

Ruin Explorer

Explorer
As the game plays for me, I don't think the "you can do it again at a penatly" would play noticably differently from 4e (especially 4e including p 42).
That's actually a shockingly insightful point, at least to me.

In many cases, if a PC could try an Encounter power again at -4 to hit, they really would be just better off with an At-Will (Dailies might merit a -8 or -6). It would get tricky with ones which don't really require a roll and rely mostly on some kind of static effect, but those are very far and few between.

Starfox is definitely wrong to assert that Encounters > At-Wills, too, I can think of dozens of counter-examples from my running of 4E. They often are, but not "strictly" - that's just wrong (I'm also skeptical of his claim re: multiple CaGIs, I think that's either a bug in the character builder, or his definition of CaGI goes well beyond the actual power - beside the point either way, though).

Next time I run 4E, I might just let people re-do single-target, non-minor-action Encounter powers (not all of them) at -4 - even ones that succeeded - and see if they even want to. I feel like it's such a trap option in most cases though that it might be unfair. HMMMMMM.
 

Kraztur

Villager
My theorycraft-fu is weak, but to have 4E-style powers more palatable to a "traditional" RPG experience, then perhaps either more in-game causality Or a clearer distinction between player narrative vs character-motivated actions.

For example, I understand that sorcery points will be used in 5E. For me, the sorcerer's actual powers are both player and in-character actions; they are associated to me. When I activate a power, I could immerse into the character in first person perspective. However, the micromanagement of sorcery points leans towards metagame. I'd be planning the expenditure of sorcery points in ways the character does not necessarily think, like from a 3rd person perspective.

(Sure, the process may somehow mirror how I imagine the character is behaving. Using a lot of sorcery points could reflect fatigue "My sorcer clenches his fists and furrows his brow, sweat pouring down his brow, trying really hard to unleash a blast of energy". Others may see expenditure of sorcery points as purely narrative, like a superhero unleashing his eye beams approx once per battle just because.)

Regardless of how much one views sorcery points as metagame-first or not, I see a clear enough distinction between the sorcery points as a mini-game vs sorcery effects as in-character actions. That very distinction allows me to switch rapidly between 1st person immersive mode and 3rd person resource management (compared to something like CaGI which muddles up the distinction between 1st and 3rd person).

I don't think D&D can or will have 100% in-game causality (for pragmatic reasons) but by design or by accident, traditional D&D allowed me to switch between 1st person and 3rd person perspective enough to make me happy.
 
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Ruin Explorer

Explorer
My theorycraft-fu is weak, but to have 4E-style powers more palatable to a "traditional" RPG experience, then perhaps either more in-game causality Or a clearer distinction between player narrative vs character-motivated actions.

For example, I understand that sorcery points will be used in 5E. For me, the sorcerer's actual powers are both player and in-character actions; they are associated to me. When I activate a power, I could immerse into the character in first person perspective. However, the micromanagement of sorcery points leans towards metagame. I'd be planning the expenditure of sorcery points in ways the character does not necessarily think, like from a 3rd person perspective.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=6341239#ixzz38DLIFL63

Regardless of how much one views sorcery points as metagame-first or not, I see a clear enough distinction between the sorcery points as a mini-game vs sorcery effects as in-character actions. That very distinction allows me to switch rapidly between 1st person immersive mode and 3rd person resource management (compared to something like CaGI which muddles up the distinction between 1st and 3rd person).

I don't think D&D can or will have 100% in-game causality (for pragmatic reasons) but by design or by accident, traditional D&D allowed me to switch between 1st person and 3rd person perspective enough to make me happy.
It's an open question as to whether CaGI does, though, any more than an Intimidate check or the like. You are saying "IMHO, it does", but does it? Probably not worth discussing, but to act as if it's a forgone conclusion is ridiculous. Personally I dislike CaGI because I do think it cuts really close to the line and does so in a cheesy rather than cool way, but I know that players I've spoken to do NOT see it as some sort of metagame thing, they see it as an action their PC actually takes (perhaps a variable, situational action, but an actual in-the-world action nonetheless.

More to the point, your suggestion relies on 4E being full of CaGI-like effects. It isn't. Period. Easily 99% of 4E powers can be interpreted without any third-person-perspective stuff. People's problems with 4E are NOT solely or mainly from that kind of thing, it's just CaGI is a particular power that people who want to rationalize/intellectualize their dislike for 4E, which is okay, I guess, but pretty boring, because you pretty much never see other examples, and CaGI is only occasionally hard to see as 1st-person (at least, for players I've spoken to).

So it's fair to say that changing the small number of powers which actually do "blur the line" would do pretty much nothing.

I note that people who aggressively criticise CaGI and the like don't even blink at Inspiration points, which couldn't be more blurry (if CaGI is blurry), or the fact that Advantage/Disadvantage simply cancel each other out, rather than one winning out, which makes me question how genuine the concern is.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You two seem to be talking about the design of an RPG.

Pulsipher (and also Edwards, to whom I drew a comparison) is talking about playstyle - with an assumption that is the GM, first and foremost, who drives playstyle.
Even when speaking about playstyle, the idea that this is full represented by a line-continuum seems to be put to serious question by empirical data:

http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/gaming/BreakdownOfRPGPlayers.html

I think any discussion of the "arrangement" of playstyle ought to be informed by the 1999 WotrC market research. This is not theorizing, or how we feel about the game - this is data analysis. Desired player styles don't sit in a line, but in (at least) a plane. So, at the very best, Pulsipher is talking only about one axis of playstyle desire, and there are dimensions he's not considering.

I don't think you can aim for both absurd and novel/story, because luck and randomness are at odds with storytelling.
I disagree - you just need to be willing to write an absurdist story. If you haven't - read some Carl Hiaasen, or Dave Barry's Big Trouble or Risky Business. If you want fantasy absurdity, try Christopher Moore. These guys are excellent storytellers, and the stories are absurd, so I think your assertion needs rethinking.

Unless your definition of "absurd" is like the GNS "Simulation", having nothing at all to do with what one thinks of when one uses the term outside of gaming. If it is - we *really* need to stop using jargon that is so different in meaning from the natural-language homonym. It only hinders communication.
 
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Kraztur

Villager
which makes me question how genuine the concern is.
I'll cut to the chase. I feel your post aggressively defends CaGI with an argument that doesn't concern me and I have no stake in the matter. But then concluding that you question how genuine/sincere someone else's concern is pretty much ends the conversation for me.
 

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