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D&D 4E My Least Favourite Thing About 4e is Forced Balance

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Incenjucar

Adventurer
Fire Archon (4e's fire elemental) in the Monster Vault has resist 20 fire. Am I missing something?

MM3 introduced "classic" fire elementals with no fire resistance whatsoever. Similar oddities include volcanic dragons and magma elementals.
 

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LurkAway

First Post
You can't simply walk into a fire elemental, either.
Not that you mention it, I think you should simply be able to walk through a fire elemental (vs a magma elemental or suchlike) albeit get burned badly. Likewise, a fire elemental could just try to overrun foes like a wildfire, burning everything inside it.
 

LurkAway

First Post
For me, balancing feels forced (or contrived) the moment that micro-balanced rules have superseded the story I'd enjoy organically.

For example, I don't have a problem with a keen-eyed clever rogue who can sneak attack a zombie by knowing to blast its brains out.

But I do have a problem if only a rogue can "automatically" know or discover that zombie brain is the weak spot (especially if lacking zombie lore or prior experience).

And I do have a problem if an expert shotgun fighter can't deduce the same trick of blasting zombie brains just like the rogue did.

But I don't have a problem if it's a fast-moving zombie that dodges the fighter's shotgun blasts to the head, until that zombie is shot in the back of the head by the rogue who quietly snuck around from behind.

So the process matters. Fictional positioning matters. Simply stereotyping rogues as having a monopoly on finding the weak spots of all undead feels forced and contrived.

So sell me on the process(ess) of how rogues know how to sneak attack all undead in all scenarios regardless of morphology and why fire elementals should or should not have fire immunity and maybe I'll tell you "wow, that's a great story!" and issues of balance won't even come to mind.

Otherwise, I can't help but feel that a lame story or non-existent story is a slave to balance.

And I believe this view is somewhat supported by 5E previews stating that the story is the soul of D&D, and the rules will support the story.
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
Not that you mention it, I think you should simply be able to walk through a fire elemental (vs a magma elemental or suchlike) albeit get burned badly. Likewise, a fire elemental could just try to overrun foes like a wildfire, burning everything inside it.

It comes down to the fact that whoever wrote the 4E fire elemental wrote it with a different idea than what pops into your head when I say "fire elemental." It's like how you might think "green and regenerates" when I say troll, but I actually mean "gray and turns to stone in sunlight."

If they weren't so stingy with the monster books, maybe we could have BOTH types of fire elemental by now, eh?
 

herrozerro

First Post
I dont have any issue with a fire elemental missing resistance or immunity, I can definitely see a fire elemental being hurt by fire. Weather by burning the fire elemental be making it take damage because its overburning whatever sustain's its lifeforce or whatever reason you'd like.

Doesnt hurt my immersion.
 

The Little Raven

First Post
I dont have any issue with a fire elemental missing resistance or immunity, I can definitely see a fire elemental being hurt by fire. Weather by burning the fire elemental be making it take damage because its overburning whatever sustain's its lifeforce or whatever reason you'd like.

Doesnt hurt my immersion.

Same here.

When a campfire meets a flamethrower in battle, the flamethrower wins.
 

LurkAway

First Post
It comes down to the fact that whoever wrote the 4E fire elemental wrote it with a different idea than what pops into your head when I say "fire elemental." It's like how you might think "green and regenerates" when I say troll, but I actually mean "gray and turns to stone in sunlight."
I don't think that whoever wrote the 4e elemental thought about it at all one way or another. Or if they did, they disregarded an idea that was unbalancing or didn't fit the math IMO.
 

keterys

First Post
Eh, I know the guy who worked on them. It was thought about. It was an active (albeit experimental) decision, and there are very good reasons for it.

Of course, that doesn't make it necessarily popular :)
 

herrozerro

First Post
I think all of this "Oh Noes! My immersion is broked!" comes from people bring their own preconceptions into the game and not trying to instead look at it from where the game might be coming from instead.

Rogues sneak attacking skeletons? it should only break your immersion if you have a preconception of what seank attack should do. if sneak attack is described as going after weak points of an enemy you should have no problem coming up with the thought that you could be attacking joints or other weak spots.

its not the game breaking your immersion its preconceptions I believe that break your immersion.
 

LurkAway

First Post
Eh, I know the guy who worked on them. It was thought about. It was an active (albeit experimental) decision, and there are very good reasons for it.

Of course, that doesn't make it necessarily popular :)
Can you share, or is it classified?
 

darkwing

First Post
I love the fact that you can play a rogue in 4e and not be gimped. The balancing in 4e was a godsend to players who played fighters and rogues.
 

keterys

First Post
Can you share, or is it classified?
It's very well tread and retread ground... here's a random link or two to one of the developers talking about it, though, and some of the responses go into greater detail. Also, Mearls did an article (legends and lore?) about wanting to monkey with resistances at one point. Greg Bilsland posted about the design being intentional. Etc.
 

Klaus

First Post
If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

Everything has a vital bit. It's more fun if the DM and the player come up with an entertaining way to explain the attack. Plus, a skeleton is easy. What about a ghost? Or a gelatinous cube? Or a ghostly gelatinous cube, trapped between life and death because it never fulfilled it's dream of becoming raspberry jello? :D

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

Hey, there's a trope for that! Maybe that fireball sucked out all the air fueling the elemental, causing it to sputter, or maybe the fireball's inherent magic actually *robbed* fire from the elemental to go off!
 

LurkAway

First Post
It's very well tread and retread ground... here's a random link or two to one of the developers talking about it, though, and some of the responses go into greater detail. Also, Mearls did an article (legends and lore?) about wanting to monkey with resistances at one point. Greg Bilsland posted about the design being intentional. Etc.
Sorry, I haven't had any prior exposure to those discussions.

I agree with @Plane Sailing that the title of this thread is unfortunate, because there's no point in criticizing 4E, as this is the New Horizons thread. So trying to put the points into context... the links you indicated (and I admit I skimmed it quickly so I may have missed something), the "good reasons" for the decision are very mechanical and metagame-oriented. Is there a story reason?

The "soul of D&D" is the story, according to the D&D Next previews, and that the rules should support the story. The way I'm understanding that mantra, it means that 5E designers are not going to be so quick to make decisions about immunity and sneak attack without asking "what is the story?". And if people have different stories about undead weak spots and fire elementals, then the rules will need to support those different stories vs the way that 4E made those kinds of decisions.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
My solution? I think there is room for certain creatures/monsters to be rendered as setting-specific. In the core rules they have certain nebulous features that are not clearly defined and can only be explored through researching or encountering them in a given campaign.

If a GM wants the "fire creature" to be utterly immune to fire, then adventurers need to find that out one way or another, by finding someone who knows (if they know for fact is a campaign concern) or through trial and error in combat. This has the added, intended, advantage of restoring a sense of wonder in a game where too many gamers can just memorize the books in advance or who have no trepidations during encounters with creatures for which they, through other PCs, have discovered all they need to know for the new PC.

This is also why I like the idea of a PH with some well-known cratures (pack animals, regularly hunted animals, domesticated animals, etc.) a GM's Guide with some "classic" creatures and monsters, and skipping MMs in favor of setting books with the monsters and creatures indigenous to them outlined for the GM alone, along with options for how the GM can tailor them to their specific home campaign (the players in the campaign unaware of those specifics).
 

LurkAway

First Post
My solution? I think there is room for certain creatures/monsters to be rendered as setting-specific. In the core rules they have certain nebulous features that are not clearly defined and can only be explored through researching or encountering them in a given campaign.
I agree 100%. I think that many of the arguments about "nod to realism" and how magic works and wuxia fighters and low/traditional vs high/anime fantasy are actually setting-specific issues.

The problem, of course, is what goes into "core" or baseline story, and what goes into setting-specific modules? I think everyone can agree that elves and flying dragons are core, and that Dark Sun sorcery kings are setting specific, but how about everything inbetween from Vancian magic to warforged to warlords and wuxia fighter powers?

The other problem is that a lot of people don't seem to like default campaign settings, but I love the idea because a) it provides strong branding and identity for that book or boxed set, and b) if a group says they're playing with this or that setting, you know what to expect and join or avoid the group accordingly
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
I agree 100%. I think that many of the arguments about "nod to realism" and how magic works and wuxia fighters and low/traditional vs high/anime fantasy are actually setting-specific issues.

The problem, of course, is what goes into "core" or baseline story, and what goes into setting-specific modules? I think everyone can agree that elves and flying dragons are core, and that Dark Sun sorcery kings are setting specific, but how about everything inbetween from Vancian magic to warforged to warlords and wuxia fighter powers?

The other problem is that a lot of people don't seem to like default campaign settings, but I love the idea because a) it provides strong branding and identity for that book or boxed set, and b) if a group says they're playing with this or that setting, you know what to expect and join or avoid the group accordingly


This is why I think it is better to design the core rules for the genre and not for even a default setting. Of course, that requires the designers to make specific decisions about genre for the purposes of both presentation of the rules and the culling of setting elements, but I feel this helps focus the rules and the design process.
 

BryonD

Hero
I think all of this "Oh Noes! My immersion is broked!" comes from people bring their own preconceptions into the game and not trying to instead look at it from where the game might be coming from instead.

Rogues sneak attacking skeletons? it should only break your immersion if you have a preconception of what seank attack should do. if sneak attack is described as going after weak points of an enemy you should have no problem coming up with the thought that you could be attacking joints or other weak spots.

its not the game breaking your immersion its preconceptions I believe that break your immersion.
I'm ok with burning fire elementals and I've very ok with sneak attacking skeletons.
Personally, I prefer my elementals immune, but no biggie. And I can go either way on SA for undead.


But, show me a game that tells its players that they need to look at things from where it is coming from instead of the game being able to service the notions the players want to bring into the game, and I'll show you a game where the designers are thinking about a new edition two years later.
 

Dausuul

Legend
But, show me a game that tells its players that they need to look at things from where it is coming from instead of the game being able to service the notions the players want to bring into the game, and I'll show you a game where the designers are thinking about a new edition two years later.

Well said.

I think previous editions went way overboard with immunity and resistance. But if you present me with a monster that is literally and visibly made of fire, I expect it to be fire-resistant if not immune. As a player, I wouldn't even try to use fire attacks on such a creature except in desperation, and if the fire attack worked normally it would wreck my immersion. I don't see how this is setting-specific, either.
 
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