D&D 5E Poll on the Reaper: is damage on missed melee attack roll believable and balanced?

Is the Reaper believable and balanced (i.e. not overpowered)?


herrozerro

First Post
Yes, the ability can be explained and narrated, but it is jarring, because it really needs to be narrated on a case-by-case basis, it needs to be justified in the narrative, over and over again, far behind other, more consistent abilities. And thus I take issues with it.

I guess this is the crux of it, I feel that the ability has a great default narration and it can be narrated in any way it needs to be for the corner cases.

I guess I am a narritivist or whatever you call them.
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Since you asked, no not to me it doesn't. 1/2 damage on a miss was one of those things about 4e I disliked.

If 5e is just 4e+ then I am not likely to purchase it. Sadly, WotC already split the players. I do not see how they can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I know, right? Pleas for unity and inclusion are kind of getting lost in the fog of war.
 

Drowbane

First Post
Apples and oranges mate.

an explosion involving a 20ft wide swath of fire is a far cry from a warrior swinging wide and still managed to hurt you somehow.

On the other hand, a module that said something like "If you are missed by an attack due solely to Armor, you still take 1/4th as non-lethal dmg" would be something I wouldn't mind so much.

Such a thing would probably be too much the general rules, but would be cool for a small subset of players (perhaps including myself, perhaps not).
 

herrozerro

First Post
Apples and oranges mate.

an explosion involving a 20ft wide swath of fire is a far cry from a warrior swinging wide and still managed to hurt you somehow.

On the other hand, a module that said something like "If you are missed by an attack due solely to Armor, you still take 1/4th as non-lethal dmg" would be something I wouldn't mind so much.

Such a thing would probably be too much the general rules, but would be cool for a small subset of players (perhaps including myself, perhaps not).

See I dont see apples and oranges, I see two instances of damage that no matter what you are going to take some kind of damage either by physical, luck or other mystic means.

Unless we get back to MAGIC! It`s better then not MAGIC!
 

the issue is, I dont believe it's possible to have some kind of neutral core rules.
Why not? I think in the main they have done a pretty good job of this. I feel like I could take what I've seen and play my preferred style with my regular group as well as take them and DM my 4e guys who love cinematic or what I call "wahoo" stuff. There's a few anomalies here with the Reaper one being one that would get up my regular group's noses while being fully embraced by the 4e guys.

In either way, from what I thought I heard that modules are going to be included in the core rule book. so its not like these things are not going to be in the core rule book.
And that's cool that they are. But both our styles of play will have the same foundation despite the options we allow into our games. I can go one way with my regular group and the other with the other.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

Drowbane

First Post
Why not? I think in the main they have done a pretty good job of this. I feel like I could take what I've seen and play my preferred style with my regular group as well as take them and DM my 4e guys who love cinematic or what I call "wahoo" stuff. There's a few anomalies here with the Reaper one being one that would get up my regular group's noses while being fully embraced by the 4e guys.

And that's cool that they are. But both our styles of play will have the same foundation despite the options we allow into our games. I can go one way with my regular group and the other with the other.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise

My faith in WotC's ability to find that middle ground is weak. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be the one trying to find it.
 

pemerton

Legend
the designers can either dispense with narrative and make an abstract board game, or they can write better narrative.
Those aren't the only two options. For example, 4e has very minimal narrative, but is not a boardgame. Rather, it uses keywords to anchor the mechanics in the fiction (eg why does a fireball set things on fire? because it has the [fire] keyword); how do I know that the push from a wight's "horrific visage" attack represents the victim running away? becaus the power has the [fear] keyword; etc).

If the designers decide to do things via narrative rather than some other fashion, such as keywords, then they had better think through what that implies for designing and using the mechanics.

For example, once you make the narrative count, players will always be pointing to the narrative to try and get advantage. At a minimum, then, you want to think about how encounters can be designed so that this doesn't just degenerate into every player rolling twice every time for every ability - eg by designing encounters with multidimensional stakes (even if that just be manifested in complex geography) which makes playing the fiction for advantage a more nuanced choice with more subtle implications.

Magic missile

<snip>

Fireball

<snip>

we have had some classes be able to auto-kill kobolds if they want since the very early days of D&D.

<snip>

The slayer background allows a PC to do a small amount of damage even on a miss. I have no problems with this personally - careful description can make this believeable, providing the concept of abstract hp is accepted.

As this background is available to spellcasters and non-spellcasters alike it goes a small way to allowing non-spellcasters the sort of reliability spellcasters have traditionally had available to them in affecting their environment.
But that's magic! Everyone knows magic gets to do cool things!
Although Dannager is responding ironically, and I tend to agree with the ironic response, I think the response is also probably correct taken literally - that is, there seems to be a large cohort of D&D players who will give magic that allows players to exercise narrative control a free pass - because "it's magic" - whereas they will hold martial/mundane abilities to a process simulation standard.

Given this, it is no good for WotC to design just so as to provide satisfactory pacing and narrative control (which is what is obviously going on with Reaper, with the thief's knacks, with at-will cantrips, etc). They also need to think about how these can be resolved with a process simulation outlook of many of their (potential) customers, without thereby just cutting off their customers who aren't particularly interested in process simulation but do want the cool pacing and narrative control.

I don't see how this can be achieved just by tweaking individual ability descriptions. But then, I'm not a professional game designer.

Huh? Does 4e not count?
Since you asked, no not to me it doesn't. 1/2 damage on a miss was one of those things about 4e I disliked.

If 5e is just 4e+ then I am not likely to purchase it.
Well, let's flip that around - if 5e is just AD&D, or 3E, then I'm not likely to purchase it.

Or to take a bigger perspective - it's one thing to say that you don't like damage on a miss. It's another thing, in discussing the "unity edition" of D&D, to say that such a thing has not been part of the game since 1974, when in fact it has been, and (it turns out) you know that it has been.

Contrary to what you posted upthread, it's not the case that by including damage on a miss WotC is adding something to the game that has never been there before. Rather, it's continuing something that's been in 4e from the beginning of that edition.

There's a difference between "just being 4e+" and having game elements that are recognisable as drawing up on 4e. And there's a difference between a unity edition, and an edition that is attractive to non-4e players simply in virtue of repudiating everything that was distinctive about 4e.
 

Gold Roger

First Post
I guess this is the crux of it, I feel that the ability has a great default narration and it can be narrated in any way it needs to be for the corner cases.

I guess I am a narritivist or whatever you call them.

Well, if we managed to find the crux of a problem, we've hit a high point in the grand history of internet discussion ;)

I see why people like abilities like this one. I once thought I did when 4th was released and very exited for how abstract it was. But in the end, it didn't work out in the long run for my D&D. There's certain styles where I can see the approach exelling. 4th edition would be still my "go-to" game for a high action secret service eberron campaign based on the likes of James Bond or the latest Mission Impossible movie.

But there are styles I feel belong to D&D (dare I call it oldschool?) where such abilities are completelyx misplaced. I feel enough people exclusively or primarily play such styles that they should be well supported and just stating "leave out what doesn't belong" is not support.

I like the slayer as concept for theme. I guess if I get an alternative for the, I and many others might already be happy.
 

Dannager

First Post
But you described the situation as a complete miss. I would find such consistently competent "missing" unbelievable. You have to remember that this is what the abstraction of hit points is supposed to represent and take on. To have it bleeding out into the "missing" attack category fails to make much sense to me on an ongoing and consistency-wise basis. If an attack is competent enough to deal hit point damage to a defender, it should not be described as a "miss".

So call it a "sort-of hit" or a "almost missed" or a "minor time-space occupation discrepancy". I don't care. But you're at the point where you're trying to argue that something that is nothing more than a personal semantic hang-up should influence the design direction of a game directed at millions.
 

The question is - how often do these corner cases arise? And what is the proper measure of "the long run"?

Someone upthread canvassed 6 misses in a row. On a 50% to hit chance the odds of that are 1 in 64. If a typical combat is 6 rounds, and the number of combats per level is 10 or so (as in the past 2 editions), then that will happen one in 6 levels. Not all that often.
It happens any time you miss a combatant but it still kills them. How often this happens depends upon the game, combatants and so on and so cannot be neatly clipped down to an x every y units. It would be nice though if we could use the "dials" mentioned previously so that they can be set if wished so that the probability of it happening can become zero.

Rather than tinkering with the odd character ability, it might be better if WotC thought about how, if at all, it wants the rules to be related to process simulation, and then designed (and wrote guidelines) accordingly. Sticking in flavour text but then expecting it to be ignored during resolution is not "inclusive" or "big tent" - in my view, it's just bad design!
I honestly don't know how difficult it is to properly design something like this. Surely it is achievable though?

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

pemerton

Legend
If an attack is competent enough to deal hit point damage to a defender, it should not be described as a "miss". It translates to "this reaper guy always deals damage", which completely tramples over my believability meter as no one should absolutely always hit.
Of course, 4e had a mechancially elegant solution to this - Reaping Strike is just one of several powers the fighter will have, including encounter powers that s/he will use from time to time, and so there will be occasions when the fighter misses.

Another solution to the problem is a narrative one - some of those "hits" that are not fatal can be narrated, in the fiction, as misses ("You swing your axe, almost cleaving your foe's skull in two - but at the last minute he rolls out of the way, and your axeblade leaves a deep groove in the timber floor.") No physical injury is dealt, but luck/divine favour etc are depleted.

I wouldn't expect this narrative treatment to satisfy those who don't like Reaper - the point of putting it forward, rather, is to try to show that there is no default narrative (such as "this guy never misses") that Reaper brings with it. Rather, it depends upon whether or not the mechanics of the game (attack rolls, hits and misses, hit point depletion, etc) are seen as process simulation or not.
 

Deadboy

First Post
You've got your information wrong.

It has already been proven, and quoted, that hit points "do" represent physical contact and other abilities such as luck.

So I'm not sure where you get this "long standing assertion" from.

From 3.5:
HIT POINTS
Your hit points tell you how much punishment you can take before
dropping.

I view 3.5 as a bad source. How about 1st edition: "...The majority of hit points are symbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers) and magical fources." Straight from the mind of Gygax.

The Moldvay Basic book actually declined to define it at all, just refering to it as the "amount of points of damage a character can take before dying."

Is damage / killing on a miss not silly to you?

Whatever. I've played (A)D&D since 89, if you miss on your attack you don't damage thing and you especially don't insta-kill kobolds just because of your background.

Well, since hit points are more a measure of skill and luck, apparently the kobolds did not have enough of either to prevent the Slayer from killing it, as the Slayer is just that badass.

One attack? No.

Six attacks in the same combat against weak opponents at level one? no place. This happening at the end of a dramatic combat, where the slayer after three misses against the death knight, that scourge on the land for centuries, ends up getting himself killed in the way of a slapstick scene? No place.

Also consider this: A first level slayer shooting at a rat at maximum range with a crossbow will always kill it. Is that really alright?

I'm not going to throw DDN into the "Do not want bin", just because of a handfull of such abilities.

But I find it jarring and that won't stop. Others find it jarring to, some far more than me. Many others don't find it jarring at all, that's fine, but understand that for those of us who do, it can be detrimental to the game experience and won't stop being so.

I find the designers should be mindful of that.

You're looking at it the wrong way with the Death Knight. If the Death Knight has so few hit points left that the Slayer's miss damage could kill it, the clearly the Death Knight has been so battered down and the momentum of the combat has swung so against it that even a blow that should have been easily avoided is enough to kill it. Because the Slayer is just that badass.

The rat part, I actually agree with. The slayer ability shouldn't work on ranged attacks.

I voted No to both Believability and Balance.... Actually, I voted incorrectly. It's just believability I have a problem with; balance is fine.

While I understand the arguments about hit points as an abstraction, I have to ask, is that how you really think of it when you're playing? When I'm playing, I think a hit is a hit and a miss is a miss, and if you hit, you damage, and if you miss, you fail to damage. I see hit points as flesh and blood - even if we're just talking scratches.

My point is that whether hit points as an abstraction of luck, endurance, and skill does not matter; what matters is how people really think and play the game.

Yes, that is totally how I think about hit points. I find it ridiculous that every hit point has to some how equate to a bit of flesh and blood. In medieval times, injuries often resulted in infection - if every successful hit equated to an actual physical injury, I'd find it totally unbelievable that the characters would survive beyond the first few levels.
 

Dannager

First Post
P.S. (added) @Dannager - I've recieved notification that you've quoted me a few times in later posts. However, I am unable to read those posts as you're on my ignore list. I only responded to the above because I saw it quoted in someone else's post, and I felt it was important to address. I'm mentioning this because I don't want my lack of response to your quoting me to be seen as rudeness or tacit approval.

Oh man, and here I was thinking you were either being horribly rude by ignoring someone on the internet, or were just silently agreeing with everything I said! Good thing I know better now!
 

So call it a "sort-of hit" or a "almost missed" or a "minor time-space occupation discrepancy". I don't care. But you're at the point where you're trying to argue that something that is nothing more than a personal semantic hang-up should influence the design direction of a game directed at millions.
In terms of design, surely it is best that your language makes sense to anyone reading it rather than directed to those who have developed this D&D semantic filter from 30plus years of play.
Clear language.
Clarity.
It really is not asking for that much surely?

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

Dannager

First Post
In terms of design, surely it is best that your language makes sense to anyone reading it rather than directed to those who have developed this D&D semantic filter from 30plus years of play.
Clear language.
Clarity.
It really is not asking for that much surely?

From my experience with new players, they are almost never the ones who get hung up on semantics. It's the guys who have been playing for 30+ years (who really ought to have that semantic filter in place) who get hung up on things because they're convinced that they should work a certain way because that's how they've always worked (a mentality that only becomes more and more ingrained and closely-held over the course of 30+ years of insular, comfortable play).
 


pemerton

Legend
I honestly don't know how difficult it is to properly design something like this. Surely it is achievable though?
Well I gave a suggestion upthread about how it might be done by tweaking the dying rules: there could be an optional rule that any killing strike requires a successful attack roll to be made - so Reaper couldn't kill, Magic Missile would require an attack roll to be made in this one special case, etc. A variant on this would be to allow a saving throw against any auto-damage that would kill.

Probably this rule wouldn't be satisfactory either, though, because it would get in the way of magic missile and fireball auto-kills, whereas autokills are exactly what many people want out of those spells (especially fireball).

Which then, once again, raises the question "does magic always get to be better because it's magic?" I mean, just as you express incredulity at the Reaper guy never missing, I could express incredulity that of all the hundreds of koblod warriors that have been fireballed over the years, almost none have survived (in classic D&D kobold max hp 4, a fireball of 7 or greater damage will autokill (I'm assuming a round up of 3.5 to 4), odds of 6 hp on a 6D fireball are 1 in 46656, and odds of a kobold saving are, I think, 1 in 5 (17+ on d20 required), meaning that fewer than 5 in a million kobolds have ever survived a fireball from a wand of fireballs).

If magic is allowed to have autokills for free, however unrealistic, and martial/mundane is not, that will cause its own issues!

Hence my view that perhaps an inclusive design, with the appropriate options, is possible - but it strikes me as pretty tricky, because so many apparently conflicting preferences are in play (of which "gritty martial but gonzo magic" is only the most obvious).
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
/em rolls a d4, gets a 2

Second edition, yeah 2nd edition totally did that.
Hmm, I didn't know that. I never played 2nd Edition. I stayed with BECM until 2000, and then switched to 3rd Edition. I switched again to 3.5E, and still play it. I tried Pathfinder but didn't care for the power creep, and I tried 4E but I didn't care for the style.
 

Uller

Adventurer
It seems fine...I didn't enjoy the power, however. It just seemed kind of boring, especially when fighting weak monsters and you didn't even have to roll...That's fine for magic missile...but I'd rather see the reaper get some sort of 1X per encounter surge in damage, away to gain advantage on the next attack or some such
 

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