D&D 5E Q&A 10/17/13 - Crits, Damage on Miss, Wildshape

I have trouble believing this. Are you feeling all right, MBC? Do you need some chicken soup? :)

:) I wish I could properly distill my contempt for my godawfully long posts but, unfortunately, I was swinging an axe about and I accidentally missed my distillery, thus destroying it.
 

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urLordy

First Post
My position/feeling/desire is that the game system should avoid "blinking" as much as possible. However, I "blink" quite a bit whilst playing D&D, to the point of constantly "squinting". When I play certain other games, I suddenly feel that pressure lifted.
Well then to continue my meandering... in real life, the world goes away for a fraction of a second when you blink, or it should. Yet to your mind, your narrative remains linear and cohesive. So what happens during those fractional moments when the perceptions goes black. Apparently, the brain just fills in for you. So if the last thing you saw was red, then neurons continue to say 'red' during the length of that blink however brief. The continous perception of red is technically illusionary. So the brain is filling in all the time (with the blind spot too) things that you've never actually perceived in order to keep your visual narrative continuous and cohesive. OTOH, if you're cognizant of your own blinking, there are other cues like the black of eyelids over your eyes disrupting that continuinity.

What has been labelled habit and familiarity (which could be considered dismissive) could be the purposeful habituation of filling in the blanks during those moments of blinking. Which takes a lot of (habit? delusion? imagination? letting go?) but the rewards are worth it. They key here is to find a general narrative pattern that works enough to fill in the blinks, regardless of the when and where the blink, and as long as the blink isn't too long.

Everything that everyone criticizes about this or that not making sense can easily be rationally true if attacked and analyzed at any one moment, but it does make just as much sense as the brain filling in the narrative as you blink, and makes just as little sense as when you purposefully focus at the back of your eyelids as you blink.

I agree that other systems may require less blinking than others, but D&D what market popularity gave/gives me most of the time.

* Interestingly, I wonder if something like pemerton's form of immmersion is listening to the game world more than visualizing during blinks, which would help explain the difference in priority.

Unfortunately, I don't think D&D is about to drop all the things that cause that sort of thing to happen (since every design team declares most of them to be sacred cows).
I know, I just hope they stop adding to them (in quantity if not quality depending on the blinking eye of the beholder).
 

Tovec

Explorer
On the "knowing how much the target is healed", this is why I initially invited @Tovec to tell me how each target looks after receiving healing. Presumably the difference between 1 hp of dying and 99 hp out of 100 is visible to the trained eye?

If not, then what exactly is going on when someone "hits" and causes a (say) 50 hp critter to take 15 hp of damage?
And I promptly ignored it. For a reason. I don't like narrating for everyone what a specific hit looks like. But the rules seem to already tell me that a hit that does 1 pt out of 100 is a relatively minor scratch.

One that does 15 of 50 is a much larger hit.

But I have no explanation of what they are besides hits. If the sword is being swung and connects and deals damage it is connecting with something. Some part of the target is taking damage. If the sword completely misses (for EVERYONE else except this specific ability) then it does NOT do damage and does not harm some part of the creature. That is the best I can tell you.

(I should add, there is a simple solution to all this, which 4e implements. Proportionate healing.)
As far as proportionate healing? Yeah, probably does make more sense in 4e. Using a base level spell, let's call it cure light, to heal 1/4 of the targets HP does make more sense on the face of it. Working your way up to cure serious healing 4/4th of their HP. (Or however all of that would shake out.) That makes perfect sense. But so does it healing a specific amount.

However, at no point do the spells actually say what they heal. Just that they heal X amount of damage. Just like the sword swing deals Y amount of damage. It is up to the players/DM to narrate what is actually happening. Maybe the sword swing cuts deep into the target's left arm about an inch deep. Maybe the healing spell heals such a mark first. Doesn't really matter because death spirals aren't a thing (in 3e). As long as they are getting dealt damage and subsequently healed the specifics of each does not matter.

With that said, it would and does matter if the healing spell hits. In 3e if the person getting healed has spell resistance (which the cleric fails) or makes his saving throw then he doesn't get healed. In 3e if the fighter swings and fails to hit the targets AC he doesn't do damage either. However in 3e terms NEITHER does healing/damage on a miss. The cleric doesn't heal their WIS in HP on a miss, and WIS + dice on a hit. They also need to succeed in a melee touch attack for what it's worth.


Also, [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] , I realize you wrote me a lovely reply but I honestly don't know what you were trying to prove or say in it. I read it over three times and had nothing to say except thinking "I told him I don't know about psionics," which seemed to be at the crux of your argument. I suggest we drop it, I'm going to, but if there is something important that I missed please let me know.

Correct, its not my point. My point is simply that in that last paragraph, you cited mostly gamist/balance reasons. The same type of reasons that "validate" (to use the word extremely loosely) damage on a miss.
Did I give gamist responses? That's new. I don't think in that way, don't know the terms or use them. That's cool to know though. I just gave the reason I saw that it was the way it was. I don't think that IN GAME they're very good reasons at all. I think that fireball should have a blastwave and/or knock targets prone to take half and all that - but I can't think of non-game breaking ways to do that while keeping all other existing 3e rules. I don't have such a problem stripping this particular rule out of 5e, maybe that's where some confusion lies.

I don't understand your side's fascination with the words "Hit" and "Miss" as if they were somehow significant.
Well as I have said, they kind of are. I've given the english definition of the word. The definition that I am most familar with, and even the definition that seems to apply throughout almost all of 5e (with the exception of this ability). Even the other ability that is similar doesn't allow the rogue to hit on a miss. It allows him to turn a miss into a hit, the result becomes a 20. Which means that if thy roll a 1 it isn't a 1 or a crit fail or a miss or anything, as long as he uses his ability, it becomes a 20 which means it changes things entirely. It is a small change but it helps immensely. Kind of like how I've said that if the warlord's healing in 4e were temporary HP instead that it would make things much easier for us. Small change but helpful.

I keep bringing up the "Critical Wounds" thing because it is an obvious example of how the combat system abstractions create narrative difficulties. The caster must know that he is using a spell called by that name (especially since it can appear on scrolls) and yet will not often be using it in a manner consistent with that knowledge. (Especially in comparison to the tight resource management that occurs for such resources.)
Well no, he doesn't "know" which spell to use. Any knowledge he gets for free is metagame knowledge. Anytime his character wants to get the information in game they need a heal check. But beyond this I think you may have missed my point.

Tell me, using the SRD if possible, what the definition of a light wound is, also medium, serious, and critical wounds, if possible. I don't know what they are. I can guess and I can describe them in game but those specific terms 'critical wounds' are not used in any sense that I can recall EXCEPT in the spell's title. It isn't used in the effect of the spell, except when noting another spell. It is like how Major Image is different from Silent Image, except as noted. Critical is an order of the spell, not a description of what is happening.

As such, it only makes for the cleric (with in game or metagame knowledge) to use the appropriate spell for the job. He has limited resources with which to heal people and doesn't want to blow a cure critical when a cure light will work. The wounds the person has may be of any visible description but those do not translate into the effects. There is no effect for "critical wound," so a spell that cures critical wounds cannot be referring to them.

Can you respond to this part please?

To reiterate, since it seems at risk of getting lost, here. I really don't care if damage on a miss is in the game or not. I just think that the suggestion that it alone makes nonsense of D&D's otherwise perfectly sensible combat/wounding rules is rather silly.
Oh, I don't think it is alone in nonsense or inconsistencies in the game. If you look back to my first few posts on this thread you'll see that I know that there ARE some already - especially with HP and AC.

No, the problem I have is that this specific one (damage on a miss) doesn't have to be inconsistent or nonsensical. It really doesn't. There are other mechanics that can be used that are more consistent to achieve the feeling of 'relentlessness' that pemerton describes. And certainly more accurate ways to portray what Rodney described.

And worse, as I've long been saying, the issue is that they aren't trying to make it better. They are creating an ability that goes right into the hole, the open sore that is inconsistencies in HP and AC and tries to drive a wedge that has clearly been divisive since it was first introduced 1-2 years ago? The defense you seem to be giving is that it is no more inconsistent than other things. My objection is that it doesn't have to be inconsistent at all, and that 'no more inconsistent' isn't a defense.

Would it be acceptable to say, 'there is no more horse meat in our burgers than anyone elses,' when, 'there is NO horse meat in our burgers,' is a realistic option? I don't think so. I don't think it is acceptable to want any level of horse meat in a product that is supposed to be entirely cow. Some people may say that it'll lose its flavour if it loses the horse meat, but as long as the product is trying to be 100% cow, I don't really care what those people have to say. They certainly won't change my mind by saying, 'come on, it already has some horse meat in it, why not a little bit more.'

That is common parlance where I'm from. Although usually reserved for a truly bad or exasperating miss, for example a basketball shot that hits neither net, rim, or backboard. (Also, at least locally, its spelled "whiff".)
Fair enough, I think I'll just avoid using it in the future. For some reason when I used it I couldn't think of a better word at the time.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Before I go on, Tovec. I just want to point out that I'm arguing from a "D&D as a whole" perspective, not against 3e in particular. I don't think 3e defines the "baseline" for what D&D, nor is the SRD any sort of final word.

Did I give gamist responses? That's new. I don't think in that way, don't know the terms or use them. That's cool to know though. I just gave the reason I saw that it was the way it was. I don't think that IN GAME they're very good reasons at all. I think that fireball should have a blastwave and/or knock targets prone to take half and all that - but I can't think of non-game breaking ways to do that while keeping all other existing 3e rules. I don't have such a problem stripping this particular rule out of 5e, maybe that's where some confusion lies.

Devout forgites may not agree with my use of the term there, but I think in a very broad sense it holds.

Well as I have said, they kind of are. I've given the english definition of the word. The definition that I am most familar with, and even the definition that seems to apply throughout almost all of 5e (with the exception of this ability). Even the other ability that is similar doesn't allow the rogue to hit on a miss. It allows him to turn a miss into a hit, the result becomes a 20. Which means that if thy roll a 1 it isn't a 1 or a crit fail or a miss or anything, as long as he uses his ability, it becomes a 20 which means it changes things entirely. It is a small change but it helps immensely. Kind of like how I've said that if the warlord's healing in 4e were temporary HP instead that it would make things much easier for us. Small change but helpful.

In earlier editions than 3e, combat rounds were much longer (1 minute). The idea that a "hit" at the level of "d20 + modifiers" was representative of a singular (or near-singular) event in the fiction (i.e. a sword swing or combo) is relatively new to the game. (Although my memory is a bit hazy...I think some people played 2e with shorter rounds.)

Well no, he doesn't "know" which spell to use. Any knowledge he gets for free is metagame knowledge. Anytime his character wants to get the information in game they need a heal check. But beyond this I think you may have missed my point.

Tell me, using the SRD if possible, what the definition of a light wound is, also medium, serious, and critical wounds, if possible. I don't know what they are. I can guess and I can describe them in game but those specific terms 'critical wounds' are not used in any sense that I can recall EXCEPT in the spell's title. It isn't used in the effect of the spell, except when noting another spell. It is like how Major Image is different from Silent Image, except as noted. Critical is an order of the spell, not a description of what is happening.

Previous to 3e, there isn't such a thing as a "heal check" (by default). That whole little diagnostic phase basically doesn't exist, or if it does, it basically gets the DM to respond to "How does she look?" with "A Cure Light will do it." (It might be dressed up a little bit, but, IME, it always comes down to that or a number: "She's down 8.") In the same way that in-fiction "hit" and at-table "hit" aren't equivalent, at-table "Critical Wounds" are meaningless wrt in-fiction "critical wounds" (Which is also a real live English-language term.) This is so much a part of the mannerisms of early-edition play that I have never witnessed a D&D group that doesn't just handwave the whole problem away. That is, they solve the narrative problem by simply not narrating it at all.

As such, it only makes for the cleric (with in game or metagame knowledge) to use the appropriate spell for the job. He has limited resources with which to heal people and doesn't want to blow a cure critical when a cure light will work. The wounds the person has may be of any visible description but those do not translate into the effects. There is no effect for "critical wound," so a spell that cures critical wounds cannot be referring to them.

Can you respond to this part please?

The fact that there is no defined "Critical wound" in mechanical terms is part of the problem! It's impossible know who actually has such wounds. Some people who require the treatment labeled for "Critical Wounds" in the at-table sense are objectively not critically wounded in the in-fiction sense, and people who require "Critical" care in-fiction don't require care labeled "critical" at-table. The spell names are not an abstraction of some generic healing power, they must exist in-fiction and the cleric must know them in-fiction. The Cleric, in most editions of the game, must have access to the metagame or at-table mechanical information, or else his choices in for at-table resource management level. On the other hand, making sensible choices at the table level means making nonsensical decisions in-fiction. Thus the Cleric is torn between being true-to-fiction or true-to-table. The fact that those choices are an important part of the resource management end of playing a Cleric only serves to exacerbate the problem for folks on my end of the spectrum.

In any case, the next couple of paragraphs may make this whole part of the discussion moot!

Oh, I don't think it is alone in nonsense or inconsistencies in the game. If you look back to my first few posts on this thread you'll see that I know that there ARE some already - especially with HP and AC.

No, the problem I have is that this specific one (damage on a miss) doesn't have to be inconsistent or nonsensical. It really doesn't. There are other mechanics that can be used that are more consistent to achieve the feeling of 'relentlessness' that pemerton describes. And certainly more accurate ways to portray what Rodney described.

I'll agree there. Damage on a miss may make sense in some way...but it doesn't say "relentless" to me.

And worse, as I've long been saying, the issue is that they aren't trying to make it better. They are creating an ability that goes right into the hole, the open sore that is inconsistencies in HP and AC and tries to drive a wedge that has clearly been divisive since it was first introduced 1-2 years ago? The defense you seem to be giving is that it is no more inconsistent than other things. My objection is that it doesn't have to be inconsistent at all, and that 'no more inconsistent' isn't a defense.

Would it be acceptable to say, 'there is no more horse meat in our burgers than anyone elses,' when, 'there is NO horse meat in our burgers,' is a realistic option? I don't think so. I don't think it is acceptable to want any level of horse meat in a product that is supposed to be entirely cow. Some people may say that it'll lose its flavour if it loses the horse meat, but as long as the product is trying to be 100% cow, I don't really care what those people have to say. They certainly won't change my mind by saying, 'come on, it already has some horse meat in it, why not a little bit more.'

Horse meat has been eaten by humans since before civilization! :)

I agree with your sentiment, but since they plan on keeping the other sacred horse meat in the burger....I just don't see the point in getting upset about there being some meat from a new brown horse in my good ole-fashioned black horse burger. I mean, I'd love to see 5e bust out in a whole new direction, but I don't think its gonna happen. I'm personally not sure that the new toppings and seasoning are gonna help any. (Although, it seems to have some in my current playgroup very excited, so I'll probably end up playing it.)
 

And I promptly ignored it. For a reason. I don't like narrating for everyone what a specific hit looks like. But the rules seem to already tell me that a hit that does 1 pt out of 100 is a relatively minor scratch.

One that does 15 of 50 is a much larger hit.

But I have no explanation of what they are besides hits. If the sword is being swung and connects and deals damage it is connecting with something. Some part of the target is taking damage. If the sword completely misses (for EVERYONE else except this specific ability) then it does NOT do damage and does not harm some part of the creature. That is the best I can tell you.

I am inclined to the opinion that a "much larger hit" (your 15 out of 50) that's actually doing physical damage to part of a person would probably hace some chance of disabling that part of that person. Since D&D makes no attempt to disable any part of anyone through "physical damage" (except when magic gets involved), I'm also inclined to say that that's not actually what is happening when hit points are removed until you get to the last one.
 

Tovec

Explorer
Before I go on, Tovec. I just want to point out that I'm arguing from a "D&D as a whole" perspective, not against 3e in particular. I don't think 3e defines the "baseline" for what D&D, nor is the SRD any sort of final word.
Fair enough. I have little to no knowledge outside of 3e. But from what I have been able to gather the term 'cure critical wounds' seems to be ALMOST exclusive to 3e. I did a quick check of both the 4e and 5e pdfs and found no references to those spells.

As such, the only information I can give you is 3e about what cure critical wounds IS and what I think it means in the larger mechanics and fiction of the game.

In earlier editions than 3e, combat rounds were much longer (1 minute). The idea that a "hit" at the level of "d20 + modifiers" was representative of a singular (or near-singular) event in the fiction (i.e. a sword swing or combo) is relatively new to the game. (Although my memory is a bit hazy...I think some people played 2e with shorter rounds.)
Okay, but as the system we are largely talking about is 5e and the rounds are NOT one minute rounds I don't see how this still holds.

Previous to 3e, there isn't such a thing as a "heal check" (by default). That whole little diagnostic phase basically doesn't exist, or if it does, it basically gets the DM to respond to "How does she look?" with "A Cure Light will do it." (It might be dressed up a little bit, but, IME, it always comes down to that or a number: "She's down 8.") In the same way that in-fiction "hit" and at-table "hit" aren't equivalent, at-table "Critical Wounds" are meaningless wrt in-fiction "critical wounds" (Which is also a real live English-language term.) This is so much a part of the mannerisms of early-edition play that I have never witnessed a D&D group that doesn't just handwave the whole problem away. That is, they solve the narrative problem by simply not narrating it at all.
Fair enough, no heal checks. Again, I do say that is 3e. But I would assume that prior to 3e there is some spell or way of getting the information that you would through heal Skill or through spells that can communicate IN game the disposition of a target's HP. Otherwise the information of how many HP they have and how many they are down is metagame only. A sword swing's damage is similarly metagame unless they have some way of actually telling how much damage on that d6 actually did. But the effect of hitting is not metagame as far as I can tell.

The fact that there is no defined "Critical wound" in mechanical terms is part of the problem! It's impossible know who actually has such wounds. Some people who require the treatment labeled for "Critical Wounds" in the at-table sense are objectively not critically wounded in the in-fiction sense, and people who require "Critical" care in-fiction don't require care labeled "critical" at-table. The spell names are not an abstraction of some generic healing power, they must exist in-fiction and the cleric must know them in-fiction. The Cleric, in most editions of the game, must have access to the metagame or at-table mechanical information, or else his choices in for at-table resource management level. On the other hand, making sensible choices at the table level means making nonsensical decisions in-fiction. Thus the Cleric is torn between being true-to-fiction or true-to-table. The fact that those choices are an important part of the resource management end of playing a Cleric only serves to exacerbate the problem for folks on my end of the spectrum.
The spell names are not part of the effect or description of the spell. Even if the cleric knows the spell is called 'cure light wounds/cure critical wounds' does not mean that they expect the spell to cure ONLY those type of wounds. The spell EFFECT simply doesn't give them that kind of expectation. The spell could be called iceburst, but have the same description below the title and it would still heal the same way. The word critical is a description of magnitude, not of effect.

I know this because the game at no point expresses what a light or critical wound is. It doesn't give definitions of those things or say how they heal. Instead you just have a pool of HP that can be harmed or healed as a group. It is potentially a problem for the game not to define critical wounds. I say potentially because I like not having death spirals. It could be a problem for it not to but the game seems to function without such a definition so I'm hard pressed to say that it IS a problem.

I think you get this, so I've got to ask what part am I not getting? Obviously there is some part I must be missing.

Horse meat has been eaten by humans since before civilization! :)
Okay, then swap all of the terms in my analogy of 'horse' to be 'cow' and vice versa. The point is REALLY NOT which animals they are. The point is when something is supposed to be a certain way and is labeled a certain thing that it is a poor idea to try and convince people they are wrong even if it already contains a certain measure of what it is not supposed to be. So, in my example, if it is supposed to be cow (yet already contains some horse) and I want to make it all cow it is NOT okay to try and convince me that it should be MORE horse.

What I am meaning of course is that the game should make sense, I oppose things that do not make sense and seek to make it make more sense. It is not okay to point to the things that do not make sense and use those as an example for saying that more nonsense is the right direction. How this applies to HP is simple, if you have a solution which is better then let's explore it. I don't, and they haven't for the last 40 years. Any attempts I've made to change HP or AC in meaningful ways causes HUGE ripples - trust me I'm working on an OGL system that does just that. But you can't simply say, "HP and AC are already broken, let me make it worse," and expect me to be fine with it.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
<snippage of much>

What I am meaning of course is that the game should make sense, I oppose things that do not make sense and seek to make it make more sense. It is not okay to point to the things that do not make sense and use those as an example for saying that more nonsense is the right direction. How this applies to HP is simple, if you have a solution which is better then let's explore it. I don't, and they haven't for the last 40 years. Any attempts I've made to change HP or AC in meaningful ways causes HUGE ripples - trust me I'm working on an OGL system that does just that.

Oh well that's whole different thing. I agree that the game should make sense. I also agree that replacing HP is a big deal, mechanically. However, I would think that an edition change is the place to do it! (I do not hold any hope that this will happen.) I think there are several games out there with different systems that work quite well. (FATE is most prominent in my mind this way.) If I was rebooting D&D from the ground up, I'd look at those for inspiration. I've tried to exorcise HP and AC from the game before as well, and you're right, it is a huge undertaking. I found the systems suggested in the 3e Unearthed Arcana to be...insufficient. Nonetheless, I'm sure that this sort of thing is off the table as a sacred cow. I don't even anticipate seeing it in a module.
 

Tovec

Explorer
Oh well that's whole different thing. I agree that the game should make sense. I also agree that replacing HP is a big deal, mechanically. However, I would think that an edition change is the place to do it! (I do not hold any hope that this will happen.) I think there are several games out there with different systems that work quite well. (FATE is most prominent in my mind this way.) If I was rebooting D&D from the ground up, I'd look at those for inspiration. I've tried to exorcise HP and AC from the game before as well, and you're right, it is a huge undertaking. I found the systems suggested in the 3e Unearthed Arcana to be...insufficient. Nonetheless, I'm sure that this sort of thing is off the table as a sacred cow. I don't even anticipate seeing it in a module.

Then we agree it seems.

For what it is worth, I tried to say this many pages ago. That if they want to model what they say this does model they can do that - but they need to change how HP and AC work. They need to make armor DR or something similar to it. And so on, and so on and on and on. But, like you, I think that they simply won't even though this would be the opportune time to do it. But as such, this ability does not work as intended in the existing mechanics. They could change those mechanics but without doing so I think they should drop this ability. Heck, I'm not opposed to damage per round (not on a miss, that's a different kettle of fish, but per round) of combat like (as I'm told) FATE has it? I'm not against that in theory, I'd have to see what it looks like to ultimately judge it of course. But having one only the GWF fighters never failing to hit and deal damage just breaks my verisimilitude in ways I can't accept with the reasons given thus far.

So, yeah, I think we mostly see eye to eye her Ratskinner.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Heck, I'm not opposed to damage per round (not on a miss, that's a different kettle of fish, but per round) of combat like (as I'm told) FATE has it?

hmm... I don't think its FATE you're thinking of. FATE has a combat roll, but no damage roll. (some versions have the weapon modifying the damage amounts, but...there's a lot of variety to FATE nowadays.) The nice thing that basic FATE adds is that when you "absorb" the damage, you have to declare what actually happened to you. So rather than just taking 4 points of damage, you might say that your shield-arm is sprained...or whatever. There's some codification to it, but it really is usually fairly easy to work with.

I'm not against that in theory, I'd have to see what it looks like to ultimately judge it of course.

An OSR friend of mine actually suggested that its the attack rolls should be done away with! A fighter in melee would just do XdY+Z damage each round, with some simple rules to split it up for multiple opponents and armor work like DR! He further thought that missiles should work differently, and have the degree of success help determine the damage! I was kinda blown away by it.

So, yeah, I think we mostly see eye to eye her Ratskinner.

Yup.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
I still think we need to move further away from stat-stealing when shapeshifting. There need to be some specific abilities, bonuses and limitations that go with various "forms" of course, but on the whole it feels like now instead of simply ripping off full0blown monster stats, we're ripping off half-arsed monster stats.

Why can't wildshape be as simple as "Flight form: you take on the form of a bird of your choice within one size category of you, you gain flight at your speed, +2 dex, but -2 Str."
-There, now I can turn into just about any bird.

Having entirely separate stat blocks always felt unwieldy.
 

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