Side note: I'm going to have to disagree with your assessment of WoW, at least as far as the vanilla content goes. (I stopped playing pre-raid in TBC, so what you say may be/probably is true now.) For me, the experience of playing a shadow priest was vastly different than playing a mage. Likewise, playing a pallie felt a ton different than playing a warrior. Same with warlock vs. hunter.
Compared with vanilla LOTRO, I would say that my WoW experience felt at least as varied, albeit with more professional polish. (Although I liked Lotro's "over the edge of the wild" feel. A lot.)
I don't really tend to stick around for xpacs, though, so this is only a comparison of the vanilla experiences. YMMV and all that.
The first paragraph rings true to me. I don't know much about MMO design, but I don't see how a skill challenge could be run in an MMO - it depends very heavily upon narrative logic for adjudication. And even 4e's combat rules have many non-algorithmic aspects, from the use of forced movement (especially sliding) to the interaction between keywords and fiction (freezing things with [cold] damage, setting fire to things with [fire] damage, shattering glass wtih [thunder] damage, etc).
How suitable 4e might be for a digital tabletop I don't know either - having never used one - but that seems a pretty different question from running it as an MMO.
I don't agree with the last sentence - it implies that "flavour or fluff" is not relevant to action resolution in 4e, and that's not true either in or out of combat (I've given counterexamples above).
I see a bigger influence from indie games than you - in skill challenges, in the attempt to tightly integrate mechanics and fiction/story elements, and even in the way that different PC story elements (race, class, paragon path, epic destiny) are so squarely aimed at locating the PC within a thematically rich fiction.
For me, the "D&D experience" is much more about the tropes, themes and story elements than the particular techniques. Maybe that's because I've GMed non-D&D as well as D&D systems while still running thematically very similar heroic fanasy RPGs. Or maybe it's because I enjoy mechanics, and experience them as tools for play and "immersion" rather than obstacles to those things.
I think the limits on "refluffing", in 4e, are keywords.I find it unusual that a 4e fan would take your position on "fluff." Years ago, when people complained about 4e's rather strict take on playstyle, they were often told to just "refluff the power". Which shouldn't be possible, if the narrative fluff is vital to the resolution of the powers. Refluffing should, in that case, cause 4e's careful balance to break.
I think some of this comes back to keywords. For example, the Deathlock Wight has a Horrific Visage power which is a close blast, attacks Will, has the [Fear] keyword and causes forced movement. From these mechanical features you can tell (without any need for flavour text) that what that power represents is the Deathlock Wight looking at its enemies (the close blast occurs on only one side of the creature, as is appropriate to something looking) and revealing its true undead form, and that the forced movement represents the enemy recoiling in fear.I can see programming all of the things you mentioned, and I really don't see how they indicate anything that requires at-table narrative mediation at all. They may require at-table decision making for the DM/players (choosing targets, directions, etc.), but that's not the same as requiring narrative from players to resolve.
when I hear people complain about their ability to "trip" a gelatinous cube or the like, it gives me serious doubt about how tightly integrated combat/power mechanics and fiction/story elements are.
What I see, in comparison to 3E, is an attempt to present a coherent and thematically laden cosmology, with a deliberate design of PPs, EDs, races, classes etc that embed PCs (and therefore players) within that conflict.I don't think any of them had indie-game origins (though I could be wrong on that.)
I would say that I like fairly thematically trite narrativist play (in the Forge sense of that word), but am very happy with the techniques of classic rules heavy systems (D&D, Rolemaster, RQ, etc). I would think that I'm pretty much the target audience for Burning Wheel. And 4e. Whereas something like My Life With Master or The World, The Flesh and The Devil are games that I might admire from afar (and there are some Paul Czege posts on the Forge which have really helped me with my GMing) but I'm not sure I would actually want to play.It sounds to me like we have similar perspectives on the importance of story and narrative, but you have a more gamist or simulationist bend than I do. Which is not a big deal.
I also see this as part of the logic of the long lists (of races, PPs, EDs, etc): instead of choosing your Beliefs or descriptors freely (as you might in Burning Wheel or HeroWars/Quest), you pick the ones that grab you off the long list that WotC has sold to you!
This theory of the logic of long lists is my own, and maybe it's crazy. But the deliberate rationale for the presentation of story elements (monsters, races, gods, etc) as suitable for a certain sort of approach to play is set out in Worlds & Monsters, a very good GMing book in my view (and unlike Races and Classes not a mere preview). And it is this deliberate attention to the role, in play, of the fiction that the game presents, which I think is indie-influenced. (Also the attention to gameplay consequences, especially narrative pacing, in combat, the approach to scene-framing and the scene as the unit of play more generally, and of course skill challenges.)
Welp, I'm out. I'll check back in when either the game is released, or a serious and substantive amount of material is released, so that it can be evaluated on its own merits. And I'll check once or twice for replies to recent comments I've made. But no involvement in new threads.You have also mentioned you are after the "essence" of D&D. Could you talk a bit about this? What aspects have you found that unify the different edition cultures? How do these translate into concrete game mechanics? Have you also looked at ideas that do not translate directly into rules, but instead are more about playing or GMing philosophy? If so, could you talk a bit about them?
The essence of D&D lies in the cultural elements that tie the game together across its editions. It’s things like wizards losing spells when they cast them, magic missile striking unerringly, trolls that regenerate, and so on. That’s all down in the details, but those are the kinds of things that make D&D stand out.
With the exception of skill challenges. I can see programming all of the things you mentioned, and I really don't see how they indicate anything that requires at-table narrative mediation at all.
I would say "Do Not Do This". Yes, D&D is a setting, but it is an inclusive setting where the breadth of it is there because it supports so many settings within it without heavy labor on the part of DMs. It looks vanilla because it covers all the most popular myths, legends, and histories of the world. It draws from our own fantasy world and is the farthest thing from Branded Uniqueness. Please run as far as you can from that. Bloodthirsty goblins are a passing fad. Genre emulation of a fantasy world, like drama or comedy, can endlessly change without going out of style (as long as it is well fed by innovation).article said:That’s really the key to us. We want to be able to have a clear, easily understood definition of what a wizard or paladin is. We can then transfer that definition into other games. As long as the feel and key story beats are there, the specific rules are secondary.
There is such a thing as too simplistic. TWERPS and plenty of other One Note systems are boring. Look at the skill challenge "system" before it was diversified. Elegant games are not necessarily simple games. In fact, I'd say elegance isn't simple at all, but easily understood complexity. Wizards could really improve on this with 5e and the by changing the current limitations of the roll check mechanic.Modularity starts with a simple core. The simpler the core, the fewer the basic interactions, the easier it is to see how things work in the game. I’ll be very happy if this edition of the game is the most hackable version of the rules that we’ve released.
3 core classes = 3 core game systems. A combat system. A magic system. And a clerical system. I think simply trying to say "Turn Undead" is the unique cleric mechanic, for instance, will only lead to obsolescence in terms of fun in the end. It's use up and throw away when dull design. Sooner or later that single power is going to become boring. It's far easier to keep a whole system interesting with endless modifications to it as play progresses than to rely on a single power per class and then trying to brand that.One of our design goals is to create a unique mechanic for every class.