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Something that 4e's designers overlooked? -aka is KM correct?

xechnao

First Post
A distinct element of previous editions was who or what you were going to risk in a given encounter if things went awry. What risks were you going to take would ultimately influence your further progress within the dungeon or adventure. There were more answers to this question than just one and each player had to figure out how the others react and so to provoke his desired course of action. Now, with 4e's respected encounter roles it seems this active negotiation has been lost somehow.

Do you think this is correct? If so, do you think this is important and how?
 

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TerraDave

5ever
Hmm. I think we had 3 or so discussions along these lines in the last 4E session I ran.

In 3E, if you knew you could get XP for the encounter, and probably find treasure, what was the undue risk?

In 1E, if you knew you could find treasure, what was the undue risk?

4E still has daily resources, expendable resources, and strategic rewards in the RAW (story awards and treasure which is not to be distributed evenly). A DM who downplays the latter will reduce those strategic elements and risk. If you put more emphasis on them, then strategy comes back.

You can even have encounters that are too dangerous and should be avoided, though 4E players are pretty tough.

Of course, my experience is, PCs always act like they are tough, no matter what edition.
 

Odhanan

First Post
You can even have encounters that are too dangerous and should be avoided, though 4E players are pretty tough.

Of course, my experience is, PCs always act like they are tough, no matter what edition.
The difference, of course, is that if players act like they're tough with first level PCs, they die. Period. Slash. Roll a new character.

Risks in a dungeon are managed differently with each edition. The basic, gross assumption is that the greater the risks (and thus greater the probabilities of terminal failure for bad play), the older the edition of the game.

We could be speaking of lethality, resource management, whether talking of equipment, spells, food, henchmen and hirelings wounded or lost... risk-taking was a greater part of the game in earlier days, and was multi-dimensional in nature. It wasn't just about game mechanics, not just about whether you had just spent your Daily power or Healing surges or not.

I personally appreciate older styles of resource management and risk taking precisely because of the different approaches offered in actual play, because smart play is rewarded, stupid play punished by failure and death, and the evolution of a rough character concept into a fully fledged out persona means that you've done something right in actual play, not that you came up with a cool concept prior to the game.

Further, some of these types of resource management, namely things like light sources, food, hirelings and henchmen, help me better immerse myself in the game world. They are about the character connecting, interacting with, and managing his adventuring environment, and not the numbers on the character sheet.

So yes, I firmly believe that something has been lost in this regard as editions of the game came out, one after the other. Now it's about the tactical management of the "now", with broader management being incidental, a detail compared to encounter management, at best. It's about playing super-heroes fighting villains and their henchmen, with the possibility of some kryptonite coming into play somehow, somewhere. Not about adventurers trying to make it through a world that is literally and actively threatening to them.

There's nothing wrong with this later feel if you and your buddies happen to like it. I just personally like it a lot less than what the game once was, and still is, to me at least.
 
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Mallus

Hero
So yes, I firmly believe that something has been lost in this regard as editions of the game came out, one after the other.
I agree that some of the strategic, resource management aspects of the game have been lost, in favor of emphasizing other kinds of play. But they aren't completely gone. You can still track torches and rations if you like. And nothing's been done to negate the importance of things like intelligence gathering or simple prudence. Smart play, as well as foolish, still exists (and they're both still extraordinarily subjective, but there's nothing to be done about that. D&D will never be chess).

Now it's about the tactical management of the "now", with broader management being incidental, a detail compared to encounter management, at best.
This is spot-on. What's interesting to me, however, is how this new focus matches with a great deal of D&D's source material. Swords-and-sorcery protagonists were all about the 'tactics of the now'. They survived deadly scrapes using their swords and wits, not their detail-oriented management skills. Many classic S&S stories feature heroes thrown into situations where careful planning was impossible --I'm thinking now of the 2nd John Carter novel. These characters were all about using their environment to their advantage, but rarely did they kit up like members of an IMF (that's Impossible Mission Force, not International Monetary Fund) team.

The careful, strategic, planning-heavy mode of D&D play always struck me as being at odds with much of the fiction that inspired the game. 4e in particular, does a much better job emulating pulp S&S stories, due in large part to it's focus on immediate tactics over long-term strategic planning.
 
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Obryn

Hero
A distinct element of previous editions was who or what you were going to risk in a given encounter if things went awry. What risks were you going to take would ultimately influence your further progress within the dungeon or adventure. There were more answers to this question than just one and each player had to figure out how the others react and so to provoke his desired course of action. Now, with 4e's respected encounter roles it seems this active negotiation has been lost somehow.

Do you think this is correct? If so, do you think this is important and how?
Sorry to be Mr. Specific again, but could you make this a little more concrete for me? This is all very vague. I mean, there's still risks of death, failure, etc - that hasn't changed. There's a risk you'll waste resources uselessly. There's a risk of NPCs dying. You can still try to overcome impossible odds for great rewards.

I take it you're not talking about any of these, since all of these are pretty obvious points. So what are you talking about? What's a "respected encounter role"? I'm seeing a lot of head-nodding and agreement, but I have no idea what the agreement is with, if you catch my meaning.

-O
 


Bluenose

Adventurer
I personally appreciate older styles of resource management and risk taking precisely because of the different approaches offered in actual play, because smart play is rewarded, stupid play punished by failure and death, and the evolution of a rough character concept into a fully fledged out persona means that you've done something right in actual play, not that you came up with a cool concept prior to the game.

What's so smart about careful resource management? Why is taking a chance with limited resources stupid? If your suggestion is that carefully making sure you always have the resources you need to win a fight is the only way to be smart, I'm certain you're wrong. Using the resources you have to win a fight which it looks like you should lose is equally clever. I don't want want most fights to be where my clever use of resources makes them foregone conclusions - I want fights where I don't have the resources that make it easy but I still have to find a way to use the resources I have available to win.
 

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
This is spot-on. What's interesting to me, however, is how this new focus matches with a great deal of D&D's source material. Swords-and-sorcery protagonists were all about the 'tactics of the now'. They survived deadly scrapes using their swords and wits, not their detail-oriented management skills. Many classic S&S stories feature heroes thrown into situations where careful planning was impossible --I'm thinking now of the 2nd John Carter novel. These characters were all about using their environment to their advantage, but rarely did they kit up like members of an IMF (that's Impossible Mission Force, not International Monetary Fund) team.

The careful, strategic, planning-heavy mode of D&D play always struck me as being at odds with much of the fiction that inspired the game. 4e in particular, does a much better job emulating pulp S&S stories, due in large part to it's focus on immediate tactics over long-term strategic planning.


It was wargames that were as much the source material for D&D as fiction and since D&D is a game, not a linear narrative, it stands to reason that both the strategic and tactical elements of games that were its predecessors and progenitors would be present.
 
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Odhanan

First Post
I agree that some of the strategic, resource management aspects of the game have been lost, in favor of emphasizing other kinds of play. But they aren't completely gone. You can still track torches and rations if you like. And nothing's been done to negate the importance of things like intelligence gathering or simple prudence. Smart play, as well as foolish, still exists (and they're both still extraordinarily subjective, but there's nothing to be done about that. D&D will never be chess).
Sure. You still can. It's not as much an assumption on the game's part as it's once was, however (see Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, vol. 3 of OD&D, 1974, and the First Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, in this regard).

Moreover, you sure still have smart and foolish play, but the consequences for smart or foolish play are different, as well as the expectations behind them. In earlier editions, particularly at lower levels, foolish play means someone dies. It's not "save or suck", it's "save or DIE". Smart player (not character) tactics as to how to approach potential threats, and not just confronting them head on, is critical for survival. This is an aspect that is just no longer there in the most recent iteration of the game.

Its fans see it as a good thing. Good for them. Being happy with the present iteration of the game doesn't mean this aspect hasn't changed, however. It confirms it.

This is spot-on. What's interesting to me, however, is how this new focus matches with a great deal of D&D's source material. Swords-and-sorcery protagonists were all about the 'tactics of the now'. They survived deadly scrapes using their swords and wits, not their detail-oriented management skills. Many classic S&S stories feature heroes thrown into situations where careful planning was impossible --I'm thinking now of the 2nd John Carter novel. These characters were all about using their environment to their advantage, but rarely did they kit up like members of an IMF (that's Impossible Mission Force, not International Monetary Fund) team.

The careful, strategic, planning-heavy mode of D&D play always struck me as being at odds with much of the fiction that inspired the game. 4e in particular, does a much better job emulating pulp S&S stories, due in large part to it's focus on immediate tactics over long-term strategic planning.
Well, there is the wargaming aspect of the game that was one major part of its flavor early on. So strategic planning was/is a sine qua non condition for success.

As much as D&D was originally inspired by the pulp Fantasy fiction surrounding its creators at the time (Grey Mouser, Elric, LOTR, etc etc), they were all distilled through the lense of the wargaming hobby, and came into play as such through Chainmail's Fantasy Supplement and later, OD&D (1974).

The term oft tossed around of "cinematic" is interesting in this regard, in that the present game play tries to emulate a fiction, including its narrative emphasis and various stylistic elements, whereas the earlier versions of the game didn't have such concerns, or at least, considered them from a different point of view. It was about the actuality of the game and an emulation of the essence, not form, of its sources of inspiration.
 

TerraDave

5ever
The difference, of course, is that if players act like they're tough with first level PCs, they die. Period. Slash. Roll a new character.

.

Unless they get their sleep spell off first.

You quoted the last part of my post, but not the first line: my players actually do discuss this stuff. Some times at annoying length. Low level play in 4E is closer to mid level in later editions...but otherwise I don't really agree with much in your post. The strategic considerations are there, and 4E, being almost a wargame after all ;) rewards intelligent play as much as any past edition.

But, my point you did quote is that I have seen plenty of bold play in all editions. It is ultimitaly a DM decision about how much he brings the hammer down, or, gods forbid, fudges (see the other thread on that). And its up to the players to factor that in as they get ready to kick down the door; maybe the players like making new charecters.
 

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
The strategic considerations are there, and 4E, being almost a wargame after all ;) rewards intelligent play as much as any past edition.


There are different types of wargames, of course, some that do tactical planning well (like skirmish miniatures games) and others that do strategic planning well (big picture board wargames, for instance). The further D&D has gotten from its roots, the less it does the second well. I don't think this discussion/thread has been about whether or not D&D current does the former well. That might require a separate thread.
 

Odhanan

First Post
What's so smart about careful resource management? Why is taking a chance with limited resources stupid?
Because you are trusting chance to provide you with the outcome you wish for. It sure may be bold, courageous and strong-headed, but smart, on a tactical level? I don't think you can really make that case, all other considerations/variables being equal.

If your suggestion is that carefully making sure you always have the resources you need to win a fight is the only way to be smart, I'm certain you're wrong. Using the resources you have to win a fight which it looks like you should lose is equally clever. I don't want want most fights to be where my clever use of resources makes them foregone conclusions - I want fights where I don't have the resources that make it easy but I still have to find a way to use the resources I have available to win.
That's not what I was saying. Seems to me you are seeing an "either/or" dichotomy there that I simply did not imply. It's not, to me, a question of whether you want to "always make sure you have the resources to win", it's a question of providing players with strategic choices that impact game play and make it both more varied, versatile and thus, interesting, to me. It's about characters confronted with a sample situation where they have limited resources and have a choice between postponing the fight or confronting their enemy with what they got. Nobody's making a choice for them, and indeed, either one of these choices will bring interesting developments in the game as it occurs.
 

avin

First Post
1st level fourth edition characters are buffed compared to former editions.

what has been lost, in my opinion, is the ability to narrate the path leading to a hero... with the POL philosophy if you are level one you are already a hero.

i don't like it... (but I can deal with this and play it anyway).
 
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Mallus

Hero
1st level fourth edition characters are buffed compared to former editions.
So are their opponents. Look how many HP non-minion kobolds.

Conversely, no low-level 4e character is as effective and terrifying to foes as a 1e magic-user equipped with sleep or stinking cloud.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Because you are trusting chance to provide you with the outcome you wish for. It sure may be bold, courageous and strong-headed, but smart, on a tactical level? I don't think you can really make that case, all other considerations/variables being equal.

I'm not trusting chance at all. Chance can be against me as well as for me, and if it's overwhelmingly against me it doesn't matter how prepared I am. What I'm trusting is my ability to identify, create, or force an opportunity to turn the fight my way. And that is about playing smart.
 

Odhanan

First Post
I'm not trusting chance at all. Chance can be against me as well as for me, and if it's overwhelmingly against me it doesn't matter how prepared I am. What I'm trusting is my ability to identify, create, or force an opportunity to turn the fight my way. And that is about playing smart.
Well what you asked was: "What's so smart about careful resource management? Why is taking a chance with limited resources stupid?"

So. You are "taking a chance", i.e. trusting chance. How prepared you are will affect the probabilities of outcome for the fight ahead. In this regard, neglecting ways to affect probabilities of outcomes when you can, so that the odds end up being in your favor, is just not smart.

Further, you can strategically prepare for a fight AND trust in your tactical ability to deal with the resulting fight as it occurs. There's no either/or to me, here. It's an "and". :)
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
If I might ask: How is ANY of this important to the fanbase, since Original, Advanced, Basic, 3E and 4E D&D are not wargames, aren't supposed to be wargames, and tried for the first five or six years of its existance to distance itself from being "just another wargame?"

Using strategy, yes -- I can see the value of that as being important to quite a few different kinds of games; however, trying to use elements that emulate wargames kind of defeats the purpose of what the original designers were trying to do in the first place -- using wargaming-rooted rules to emulate a certain type of genre. Conan, Fafhrd, and Elric couldn't on their own fly like birds, cause earthquakes, raise the dead, and transform into dragons - yet AD&D characters could, quite regularly, and use buff-scry-teleport tricks that would give Robert Howard or Fritz Leiber pause had they ever seen them. (Well, Fritz might have seen them later in the 70's, but I'm reasonably sure he didn't have buff-scry-teleport in mind when he was writing Mouser and Fafhrd stories.)
 

KidSnide

Adventurer
What's so smart about careful resource management? Why is taking a chance with limited resources stupid? If your suggestion is that carefully making sure you always have the resources you need to win a fight is the only way to be smart, I'm certain you're wrong. Using the resources you have to win a fight which it looks like you should lose is equally clever. I don't want want most fights to be where my clever use of resources makes them foregone conclusions - I want fights where I don't have the resources that make it easy but I still have to find a way to use the resources I have available to win.

The question isn't "what's so smart about careful resource management?" but "what's so fun about careful resource management?" And the "what so fun" question has two aspects.

(1) Does the RPG have a good resource management sub-game? In other words, are there interesting decisions to be made regarding resource management?

(2) Do the players want to play a resource management game while they role-play.

The first is going to depend on the game. Resource management was certainly more important in earlier editions of D&D, although the decision making becomes uninteresting if optimial strategies render most of the options obsolete.

The second question is going to be a matter of taste. If my D&D consists of an adventuring party who are professional dungeoneers who try to get maximal loot for minimal risk, then resource management is important and part of the game. If my D&D is primarily concerned with accomplishing non-resource quest objectives (uncover the evil biship, escape Gates Pass, kill Orcus, etc...), then mandatory resource management can get in the way of what (for that party at least) is the point of the game.

-KS
 

Odhanan

First Post
If I might ask: How is ANY of this important to the fanbase, since Original, Advanced, Basic, 3E and 4E D&D are not wargames, aren't supposed to be wargames, and tried for the first five or six years of its existance to distance itself from being "just another wargame?"
If you're counting Original, Advanced D&D as criteria for determining who's a D&D fan and who isn't, and it certainly looks like you are, then I'm definitely a fan of D&D, and the strategic management of the environment and resources definitely are important to me, myself, and I concur!

Now, I don't think it would be fair to consider the topic as some sort of dichotomy between "wargame" and "RPG". D&D benefits from a host of different influences, more or less prevalent as editions went along, and wargames certainly are part of them. To me, these strategic decisions do matter in game play. I can understand if you don't care for them, but I do care for them myself, and am still playing a role playing game, not a wargame as far as I'm concerned. ;)
 

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