Presentation vs design... vs philosophy

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Eh, some people swore by THAC0, other people swore at it. Tables were so very ur-Gygaxian, and I can't recall not seeing a game with the DM Screen.

I mean ... c'mon.... that Trampier two-piece panel. That artwork, perhaps more than anything (yes, even more than the DMG or PHB cover) instantly evokes D&D for a whole generation.
I didn't love THAC0, but it also wasn't an annoyance as it literally took 2 seconds or less to figure out.
 

pemerton

Legend
That's all saves are now. The big difference is that the target number (i.e. the save matrix) is strictly DM-side info. The player still rolls the d20 and tells me the modified total, and I look at the chart - it ain't that hard.
But this is irrelevant to @Neonchameleon's point. You can have secret DCs in a 3E-style resolution system. Unless you also think it's really important to keep the bonus secret too - but why would it be?

I've never tried kitbashing 4e or 5e but when playing 3e our DM tried some serious reworking of it, only to find that the unified mechanics (which he tried to maintain) caused far too many knock-on effects: changing something here knocked something else out of whack there and there, and fixing those caused problems elsewhere, repeat...

With freestanding sub-systems, there's no pressure to make any one element procedurally conform to any other element; it is what it is and does the job it does, and can be independently tweaked if so desired without nearly as many knock-ons.
I really don't know what sort of "kitbashing" you have in mind. But even on its own terms AD&D is highly vulnerable to breakage - eg the GM who allows ability score checks to overlap in function with thief skills; or the lack of fit between surprise resolution for monks and the rules for determining segments of surprise; or the risk of broken magic items, which Gygax repeatedly warns against in his DMG.

One point of 4e's resolution framework is that it makes many separate subsy8stems redundant. There's no need for different systems for (say) finding and disarming traps; evading pursuit in the wilderness; and befriending a NPC - these can all be resolved as skill challenges.

But if for whatever reason you want to create a separate sub-system for reaction rolls in 4e, that's not going to be any more work than it would be in AD&D. It might be desirable to consider how to factor Diplomacy skill into it; but then, in AD&D you'll need to work out how to factor CHA into such a system, so I don't see any marked difference. Or suppose you wanted resurrection survival checks, you could just copy the chart straight over from AD&D.

I guess I'm really not clear on what these "knock-on" effects are.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I really don't know what sort of "kitbashing" you have in mind.
I feel like this was discussed before. Oh yes, in this thread! Here it was-

But if you are going to base it on the books, then you have to base it on the totality of the books.

For example, let's compare three editions worth of DM's Guides. 1e, 4e, and 5e.

In 1e, you famously have a DMG that was supposed to not be known by the players. That is filled with optional material. That contains, on almost every page, advice for the DM (some of it that has not aged very well) about customizing campaigns and making it their own, along with suggestions about off-the-cuff rulings (the ethereal mummy to take care of players). The idea of house rules permeates the entire DM's Guide.

In 4e, you have a single section called the DM's Toolbox (Chapter 10). This takes up 21 pages and is toward the very end of the book, but it also has explicit rule on customizing monsters, random encounters, random dungeons, and creating NPCs. There is one (1!) page on creating house rules, and the "worked examples" are fumbles and critical failures. In addition, the language isn't encouraging about house rules- not only does it state that this can't turn you into an expert game designer (hint hint), it states that while you have authority to change the rules, it ominously states that "your efforts won't help you if you have no group."

In 5e, the Entire DMs guide is about customization- from the opening ("A World of Your Own") to titling most larger sections and subsections by saying, "Creating ..." The very opening of the DM's guide in 5e has this part describing the role of the DM-

"And as a referee, the DM interprets the rules and decides when to abide by them and when to change them. ... The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge."


The three largest sections of the DM's guide are called "Master of Worlds" "Master of Adventures," and "Master of Rules."

So, sure, use the texts. But you can't just point to a little passage, buried at the end, and say that all things are created equal. In fact, I am fairly certain that one of the core strengths of 4e is that it, in normal play, it constrains the DM more than other versions of D&D- that's why some people love it, and why some people consider it much easier to DM.

That's an advantage, or so I hear, and it's weird to say that it doesn't exist. 1e and 5e, either in play, or looking at the rules, present a very different scenario in terms of encouragement for the DM than 4e does.
So, to recap, there is a very different set of assumptions regarding the different editions. This is both the RAW, as well as how people played.

It is very odd that we have circled around to this point, again.


Wait, did I saw odd? I meant predictable. It is completely predictable and unsurprising.
 
So, sure, use the texts. But you can't just point to a little passage, buried at the end, and say that all things are created equal. In fact, I am fairly certain that one of the core strengths of 4e is that it, in normal play, it constrains the DM more than other versions of D&D- that's why some people love it, and why some people consider it much easier to DM.
On the contrary. One of the core strengths of 4e is that in actual play it supports the DM more and constrains them less. By constrains I mean forces them to wrestle with the rules rather than being supported by them. Here are some examples:

First, if you want constraining for the DM then go look at 3.X and the skill system for that game. For that matter if you want constraining compare the 5e monster creation rules with its 20 step process that requires you to work out the CR to work out the proficiency bonuses of a monster and you need to know the attack bonus to work out the CR to the MM3 on a business card. And there is literally a blogpost that's high up the monster design searches called "How to create a D&D monster for fifth edition in 15 minutes or less" For how constraining that looks to a 4e DM I've literally created three types of RAW monsters for a combat, each with different abilities, in the time it took to set the battlemap and roll initiative. And it was still a distinctive and successful combat.

Second one of the key things that differentiates 4e and makes it easier to DM is it works out of the box. 1e for example - how do initiative rules work? Yes, I know there's a textbook answer to that but then there are classes that make percentage change in it somewhere. If in order to make something work at all I have to kitbash it then forcing me to do something is a constraint and a far bigger one than just not explicitly telling me I can do something.

Thirdly if I need to look up anything in the course of play to run Rules as Written then that's a constraint that impacts me at the table. In 4e I might want to look up the skill challenge DCs and the improvised damage charts but this is never mandatory. In 1e I have to look up attack matrices and saving throw matrices as a matter of course. And then there's the details of how 3.X skills or 2e "Non Weapon Proficiencies" work.

Fourthly if I need to lug books around with me and use them in play or cross-reference and cross-link things that's a huge constraint that impacts me at the table. When I run monsters in other editions I need to look up their spells in other books. 4e frees me by meaning I don't need to do that. 3.X is the most constraining. 5e at least largely (as it normally does) follows in 4e's footsteps and you only need to look up actual spells. Not as unconstraining as 4e but not bad.

Fifthly even in a rules question having the rules on the character sheet is liberating while having to crack open books and search for the spells isn't. I've three or four times asked to see a character sheet and once said "we'll do it this way and look it up at the end" but don't recall ever cracking a book in play over a rules dispute in 4e. In 5e I've needed to look up spells.

Sixthly the most constraining thing of all is to be left utterly bereft of answers. 4e gives me tools to deal with daft PC plans (skill challenges) and improvised attacks in a way no other edition does. And yes, there is about an index card's worth of material I sometimes want to look up here.

Saying "Well you can hack it and throw things on here and there" isn't freeing until after I've fought my way past the constraints the game decides to weigh me down to like a 20 step monster creation system that requires referencing itself. And yes I know Lanefan has fought his way past the constraining makework of needing to use a collection of lookup tables to see whether an attack hits and for saving throws - but I see no earthly reason that doing this would improve my game. It does however constrain me by giving me another thing to remember, to organise, and to run.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
@Neonchameleon

1. If you are going to quote me, then you should quote me.

2. You are welcome to bold and argue however you would like; that said, you are simply using different definitions of "constrain" than I used. So, here's a little tip- if I am using the word in a certain way that is obvious from the full context, then it is usually considered poor form to try and use it in a completely different context.

3. You apparently really want to argue with me instead of engage with me. Because you are so busy making your very important point, you probably did not see that you were agreeing with most of what I said; for example, all of your points are the same I would make, except that I would not scream your points since they agree with me, and instead notice that we simply have different opinions as to what we like and what is helpful to us.

4. Finally, if you've read anything I've written, ever, then you would know much better than to make points that you think are brilliant by invoking 3e. Seriously, why would you do that? Have you ever read a single thing I have written, ever? Did you even read the last post, where I used 1e, 4e, and 5e as the examples ... but not 3e? What, are you going to now tell me 4e is the edition for me because you can make the best Paladin in it? Also, what is up with the RANDOM EMPHASIS?

Good? Good.
 
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lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Also, just to point this out-

This thread had ended on March 13, with people joking about Deities and Demigods stats .... and Cthulhu.

But, of course, the other thread got shut down on March 22 .... guess what.

This thread was immediately kicked off again after being dormant for nine days, but instead of arguing about Cthulhu, it went back to the topic of the closed thread.

It is very odd that it happened!

Wait, did I saw odd? I meant predictable. It is completely predictable and unsurprising.
 
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@Neonchameleon

1. If you are going to quote me, then you should quote me.
I had no idea whether I was quoting you or someone you agreed with. Merely something relevant. If you had bothered to actually link to the post you were quoting with a context as the default quote function does then I would have quoted that.

2. You are welcome to bold and argue however you would like; that said, you are simply using different definitions of "constrain" that used. So, here's a little tip- if I am using the word in a certain way that is obvious from the full context, then it is usually considered poor form to try and use it in a completely different context.
Words do not mean what you want them to mean simply because you pay them extra. If you want to talk about constraints then talk about constraints. Talk about things that prevent you or get in the way of you doing things. Not one thing you were talking about was about "being compelled to avoid or perform a certain action". Also you specificially talked about "in normal play" - which means at the actual tabletop.

Meanwhile I gave some examples of how the compulsions are lowest and 4e is thus the least constraining. And one of its advantages, contrary to your claims, is that 4e literally constrains me less than any other edition especially in normal play.

"In normal play" also actually means in normal play - i.e. at the tabletop when the rules are working as intended. Not "sitting at home kitbashing" or even "world building before the campaign starts" - world building is a part of play but it is outside the timing of normal play.

If we use what I think you mean - other editions provide more encouragement and that outside normal play - then I'd disagree but you actually have a case to answer if you say that. When you talk about constraints, and especially constraints in normal play you are making counter-factual claims.

3. You apparently really want to argue with me instead of engage with me.
Repeating what you said on a previous occasion is not engagement. You decided to quote, I can only assume, yourself (a link again would have been nice) in the apparent belief that your post was flawless. Now as you are actually replying to my comment rather than letting off a pre-canned reply that I believe has already been rebutted engagement is practical.

4. Finally, if you've read anything I've written, ever, then you would know much better than to make points that you think are brilliant by invoking 3e. Seriously, why would you do that?

I literally invoked all major editions at different times. From 5e's monster creation to old school attack matrices to 2e's Non Weapon Proficiencies. I simply didn't leave 3.X out because 3.X is part of the D&D family. And this is a message board with multiple people involved rather than just involving you.

If I had focused exclusively on differences to 3.X rather than going everywhere then you would have a point. And I accept I should have spent time on just how much the much-hyped 2e Monstrous Manual buries its mechanics deep in the fluff text, forcing me to spend more time at the table checking I've not missed anything meaning that I can't just flip to the page in that edition and be ready to go in seconds. But when I'm comparing to almost all editions to show which end of the spectrum something is at I'm not going to miss one out.

Have you ever read a single thing I have written, ever? What, are you going to now tell me 4e is the edition for me because you can make the best Paladin in it?
I'm not telling you that 4e is the edition for you. I'm telling you that arguments about how "one of the core strengths of 4e is that it, in normal play, it constrains the DM more than other versions of D&D" are literally backwards to its strength of in normal play (i.e. at the tabletop and using the intended playstyle) being more supportive and more liberating than any other edition. I am telling you that you were making a strongly false argument. And you were doing it in a post that you thought was important enough to quote without attribution.

Also, what is up with the RANDOM EMPHASIS?
I was replying to a gratuitously quoted post with bold and underlinings.
 
Also, just to point this out-

This thread had ended on March 13, with people joking about Deities and Demigods stats .... and Cthulhu.

But, of course, the other thread got shut down on March 22 .... guess what.

This thread was immediately kicked off again after being dormant for nine days, but instead of arguing about Cthulhu, it went back to the topic of the closed thread.

It is very odd that it happened!

Wait, did I saw odd? I meant predictable. It is completely predictable and unsurprising.
For kicking it off again I apologise - I was away the whole of last week (worst time to take a holiday with a broken laptop ever). But when I restarted it I was replying on the subject of this thread with a part finished reply from before I went away.

As for it going back to the topic of the closed thread, I actually think that this thread was staying somewhere pretty useful until very recently.

And trying to rerail it back when it was useful:
I really don't know what sort of "kitbashing" you have in mind. But even on its own terms AD&D is highly vulnerable to breakage - eg the GM who allows ability score checks to overlap in function with thief skills; or the lack of fit between surprise resolution for monks and the rules for determining segments of surprise; or the risk of broken magic items, which Gygax repeatedly warns against in his DMG.

One point of 4e's resolution framework is that it makes many separate subsystems redundant. There's no need for different systems for (say) finding and disarming traps; evading pursuit in the wilderness; and befriending a NPC - these can all be resolved as skill challenges.

But if for whatever reason you want to create a separate sub-system for reaction rolls in 4e, that's not going to be any more work than it would be in AD&D. It might be desirable to consider how to factor Diplomacy skill into it; but then, in AD&D you'll need to work out how to factor CHA into such a system, so I don't see any marked difference. Or suppose you wanted resurrection survival checks, you could just copy the chart straight over from AD&D.

I guess I'm really not clear on what these "knock-on" effects are.
Some actual practical examples here would be useful so those of us who don't understand can see what is meant.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I had no idea whether I was quoting you or someone you agreed with. Merely something relevant. If you had bothered to actually link to the post you were quoting with a context as the default quote function does then I would have quoted that.
Oh, I'm sorry. I was unaware that:
1. The search function was broken for you.
2. You did not realize that I was quoting myself, as was obvious from the context.
3. You did not realize I was quoting myself, as was obvious from the way I write.
4. You didn't remember this from .... this thread .... in a comment I made ... right before you re-opened it.

That said, given that the rest of your post was arguing with my post, it was more a basic courtesy than an issue of quoting. Sorry if that wasn't apparent.

Words do not mean what you want them to mean simply because you pay them extra.
You're right. Words mean exactly what they mean, based upon the context of the sentence. In fact, some words are contranyms, and can mean the exact opposite thing.

The court sanctioned the attorney for the frivolous motion.
The court sanctioned the use of the video for the deposition.

But sure, it seems like fun to argue with you. You're fun. Do you get the context of that? Are you fun? Am I saying that you are fun?

Would you like to argue with me and insist that I called you fun? Based on the dictionary? Because that sounds like ... fun.


If we use what I think you mean - other editions provide more encouragement and that outside normal play - then I'd disagree but you actually have a case to answer if you say that. When you talk about constraints, and especially constraints in normal play you are making counter-factual claims.
No, that's not what I mean, at all.

Here's something I have learned. When someone want to engage with someone else, they ask what they mean.

When someone wants to argue with someone else, then they insist on telling the other person what they really mean, in order to disagree with it.

Because they don't actually care what the point is; the point is only to argue.


Repeating what you said on a previous occasion is not engagement. You decided to quote, I can only assume, yourself (a link again would have been nice) in the apparent belief that your post was flawless. Now as you are actually replying to my comment rather than letting off a pre-canned reply that I believe has already been rebutted engagement is practical.
No, not that the reply was flawless. Rather, that this exact issue had already been discussed with these exact people. You do not seem to have appreciated the point. Because that's what I wrote.

Again, I appreciate that you keep telling me why I do things so you can tell me why they are wrong ... because you are so much .... fun.

Sorry. You are so much fun.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Sorry. You are so much fun.
Mod Note:
Your sarcasm has probably rendered your entire post here rather non-constructive.

If that wasn't your goal, now you know. If it was your goal to not be constructive... next time, if that's your goal, just leave off posting please.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I apologize, @Umbran.

For the non-sarcastic take, here it is:

Neonchameleon created a new thread to specifically address the whole 'Hey, what about 4e powers. How same-y are they?" issue. That was here:

This thread, meanwhile, ended at post #1144, in a pretty good-natured exchange about Cthulhu.

Meanwhile, the other thread was shut down by you at 3:01pm on Sunday because it was yet another edition war:

The next day, this thread which had been dormant for ten days, was resurrected by Neonchameleon, here:

Why was this thread that has drifted into jokes and been dormant for ten days resurrected after the other thread was closed?
Great question.

I would note that what kicked off my sarcasm was when I responded to Pemerton by noting that this exact conversation happened on March 9, and Neonchameleon (again, who resurrected this thread) came in to lecture me about how awesome a certain edition is. With a bountiful use of bold, in case I could not hear him,

But again, I often resort to sarcasm when I am deeply, deeply frustrated.

EDIT- corrected times; my error.
 
Can't speak to THAC0 and Non-Weapon Proficiencies, never having used either, but the other two are to me features rather than bugs: they're good examples of using appropriate tools for different jobs rather than trying to shoehorn everything into one mechanic.

Thief skills being d%? Absolutely - allows for far more granularity than a simple d20. (ditto for various other things that use d% e.g. system shock rolls)

Saving throws? Absolutely - along with what class and level you are and what stats you have, what you're specifically saving against makes a difference in such a system - it's an added variable. One of these days I'd like to expand this further - maybe go to 8 or 10 different types of save rather than just 5 (e.g. split out Poison, Paralyzation and Death into their own charts rather than have them all the same).

I think, if I remember the original point after so long, that part of the issue is consistency.

If you like % rolls because of granularity, then use them. But, then it is better to be consistent in how things are rolled. To make up an example with fake mechanics...

If you are picking a pocket roll 1d100 and subtract the targets perception. If you are rolling stealth roll 1d100 and add your dex. If you are swinging and axe roll 1d20 and add attack bonus which is based off of level.

Learning a system like that, where many skills and checks that are arguably similar in terms of resolution but use different rules and require different types of thinking (whether it matters more if you are skilled or if the target is skilled or well-made), is far more difficult and confusing than learning a system with a single resolution mechanic.

So, if you like percentiles, roll 1d100 add your mod, subtract opponents counter skill. But do that for everything, do not mix and match.

My 2 cents at least.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I think, if I remember the original point after so long, that part of the issue is consistency.
This is a great point, and a valid preference.

I think that what some people articulate, and what @Lanefan is alluding to, is that there are people that feel like the differentiated resolution systems provide a better fit, in the sense that they arose organically to solve specific issues. It's the "bespoke" nature that appeals to them.

This is in contrast to a system that, arguably, provides a universal resolution mechanic.* These systems have a lot of advantages (which is why we see most modern systems using them!)- ease of learning and use, ability to be quickly adapted to different situations; nevertheless, they can feel "cold" (which is hardly scientific) or poorly fitted to different situations.

In other words, a system that is designed from the beginning to deal with all possible cases in a single way has a definite appeal, and a system that grows organically to deal with different situations in an ad hoc manner also has a definite appeal; and both ways have certain strengths and weaknesses.


*Some might say ... a Generic and Universal Resolution Procedure for Systematized play. :)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Why was this thread that has drifted into jokes and been dormant for ten days resurrected after the other thread was closed?
Great question.
Mod note:
I don't know if it is a great question.

Ask yourself this question - Why do you give a hoot? Why do you give a hoot enough to be repetitive about bringing this up in a bout of passive-aggressive finger-pointing at an individual person? Given why you care, was this at all a good way of addressing your concerns?

Next time, if you think there's an issue with how someone is posting, use the reporting function. If you'd brought it up that way, we could have cleanly dealt with it as "continuing a closed discussion". But now, you've made your own behavior the focus. Smooth.

So, the ruling:
Lowkey13 - stop the finger pointing nonsense.
Everyone else - make this about something other than the same topic of a recently closed thread.


 

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