• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

What is the essence of D&D

aramis erak

Explorer
It was a skit on some comedy show. SNL? Seinfeld? Friends? ...something inexplicably popular in the 90s, anyway...
Seinfeld created a new holiday tradition that some people actually follow. Not me, but some friends of mine do, complete with the ritual airing of grievances.
My faith tradition has twice a year, minimum, forgiving ones who have wronged one, and asking forgiveness for wrongs done. Preferably as part of a paraliturgical celebration.

D&D flavors have a preference spectrum not unlike many mainstream religions... a few devout faithful, a good number of regular participants, including a range of levels of participation, a lot of lip-service and "go to meeting for the social after", and many more who look on with sheer disbelief.
 

MichaelSomething

Adventurer
It's never that simple, though, it has to be broken in /just the right way/...

...and the case can be made* that the Primacy of Magic needn't be radically imbalanced
There are plenty of ways to balance magic vs mudane!

1. Attach a large time and money cost to the most powerful spells! An hour casting time and 1000 gold cost will balance a lot of spells. 4E Rituals and spell componets did this; which lots of people didn't like.

2. Casting an OP spell? Roll a D20 and kill your character of you get a 1! Risk vs reward. The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has something like this.

3. Force spell casters to ration spells! Three to ten spells slots vs six to eight encounters a day means you don't cast willy nilly. Its how 5E solved it.

4. Make the wizard a carry. You make wizards suck at the lower to make them earn late game brokenness. It's the classic solution.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There are plenty of ways to balance magic vs mudane!
Which of them provided anything approaching climactic encounter changing benefits for non-magic aside perhaps from skill challenge structures and 4e assumptions of utility power equity and resource similarity.

1. Attach a large time and money cost to the most powerful spells! An hour casting time and 1000 gold cost will balance a lot of spells. 4E Rituals and spell componets did this; which lots of people didn't like.
Yeh it can but not if you decide to make wealth an utterly indeterminate thing. That only works in 3e and 4e actually. (ok one might be able to compute expected wealth in 1e and 2e from random encounter tables but not easy)

2. Casting an OP spell? Roll a D20 and kill your character of you get a 1! Risk vs reward. The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has something like this.
Yeh one could put risk vs reward in D&D by having spell casting cost hit points as standard and other similar things or one could allow anyone to perform heroic exertions that allow feats of Martial Prowess or feats of Magic of appropriate style. OOPs I just introduced resource commonality to get martial types similar benefits

To be clear big climactic significant awesome is part of the imbalance. So magic is more powerful just sucks because it's basically a lime light issue. Oh right random crit fisher fighter gets limelight randomly instead of when its needed gee that cannot be a problem. (everybody should like lack of strategic and tactical choice)

3. Force spell casters to ration spells! Three to ten spells slots vs six to eight encounters a day means you don't cast willy nilly. Its how 5E solved it.
Actiual seen use in the wild 3 or maybe 4 encounters a game week. Shrug assumptions about "encounters a day" having variable impact on your characters depending on which subsystem the game designer thinks is appropriate is a pretty willy nilly as far as everyone contributing. Kind of locks down the story flow. Instead of player choice.

4. Make the wizard a carry. You make wizards suck at the lower to make them earn late game brokenness. It's the classic solution.
Presumption people begin campaigns at level 1 and play through out when even the games designers didnt do that ... regardless even if they do what you really get is constant imbalance not actual balance. so yeh that was bull when I seen it in 1976.

Point is no balance was never easy to achieve.
 
Last edited:

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Technically making magic items less overwhelming/awesome I feel was really to emphasize the hero themselves not their toys AND was something easily adjusted by a DM in 4e if you wanted to with relatively low impact. A player could similarly attribute the skill they just gained or even multiclassing feat they gained as an effect of the sentient sword and do there own my magic item is awesome thing. Flavor wise most of the time my ranger or warlord or fighter or whatever being dependent on something a caster theoretically made to have awesome is kind of meh ;) - So I like that it is flexible I might want to play an Elric dependent on his blade for even some of his attributes (but I can just omg roleplay that) but not necessarily.

To me the sedateness of item power was not actually a tool to balance things and has low impact in that arena from initial fluxiness when you acquire an item. (one could make it take a level to open / acquire a power of a multiple power item and that would go away).
 
Last edited:

TheCosmicKid

Explorer
It's never that simple, though, it has to be broken in /just the right way/...

...and the case can be made* that the Primacy of Magic needn't be radically imbalanced (just give everyone access to magic in some form**), or at least needn't be unfair (just give every player the option to access magic - no one forces you to play the Tier 5 mundane class)...

...and it's no secret.
...

Okay.

You really don't see the problem with what you're doing here, do you?

You quibble my choice of the words "broken" and "secret", but those weren't the meat of my critique. The meat of my critique is that you're trying to tell me that you know why I switched from 4E to 5E better than I do, and although the reason you've invented is conveniently uncritical of 4E, it manages this trick by being unflattering to me instead. Do you want to know why I switched? Ask me. I will not use the phrase "Primacy of Magic". I will not give any explanation that could reasonably be called "Primacy of Magic". And I will not be impressed by any attempt to bend my words into a "Primacy of Magic" framework.

And don't write me off as an exception to your generalizations, either. Ask a whole bunch of other players who made the upgrade. You will get a broad variety of reasons. Will some of them give you stuff that sounds kind of like this "Primacy of Magic" idea? Yes, of course. But if you cite those reasons to say "Aha! I was right! Primacy of Magic is the essence of D&D and the reason why 4E failed through no fault of its own!", and ignore all the other reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with Primacy of Magic but maybe do find some fault in 4E... well, then, that's what's known as cherry-picking.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, no, @TheCosmicKid, that's not quite what he said. Not that 4e failed through no fault of its own. It failed BECAUSE it failed to learn the lesson of a successful D&D - Magic MUST be primary. That is the one trope the holds true in every single edition of the game. That magic, whether through class abilities or items, must be beyond whatever mere mortals can do.

It's not really a coincidence that all but, what, 3 PHB classes don't have any magic. I mean, they even let barbarians FLY and people accepted it. A ranger that didn't have magic? NO WAY! THAT'S NOT A RANGER. But a flying barbarian? No problems at all.

While I often find that @Tony Vargas takes his points too far, he's actually got a decent amount of evidence to back this one up.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
... a paraliturgical celebration.
Never heard this term - does this mean the sort of celebration where you all go down to the pub, drink enough beer that you all forget any wrongs anyone else there has done to you, and all leave as the best of friends?

If not, it should. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeh it can but not if you decide to make wealth an utterly indeterminate thing. That only works in 3e and 4e actually. (ok one might be able to compute expected wealth in 1e and 2e from random encounter tables but not easy)
Something else to keep in mind from 1e-2e that almost completely vanished afterward was that wealth - as expressed by magic items owned - was much more easy come, easy go.

Fail your save vs a fireball or lightning bolt in 1e? Everything you're carrying now has to save individually, and some of those saves - particularly against lightning - ain't easy to make.

Makes it far easier as a DM to give out magic items when you know the odds are they won't last forever.

To be clear big climactic significant awesome is part of the imbalance. So magic is more powerful just sucks because it's basically a lime light issue. Oh right random crit fisher fighter gets limelight randomly instead of when its needed gee that cannot be a problem. (everybody should like lack of strategic and tactical choice)
Randomly hitting the big score can be far more fun than being able to predict and control when it happens.

Actiual seen use in the wild 3 or maybe 4 encounters a game week. Shrug assumptions about "encounters a day" having variable impact on your characters depending on which subsystem the game designer thinks is appropriate is a pretty willy nilly as far as everyone contributing. Kind of locks down the story flow. Instead of player choice.
Yeah, the adventuring day tends to end when either a) the casters run out of spells or b) the party in general runs out of hit points; and of those a) is far more common IME.

Presumption people begin campaigns at level 1 and play through out
Yes, that is the baseline assumption.

when even the games designers didnt do that ... regardless even if they do what you really get is constant imbalance not actual balance. so yeh that was bull when I seen it in 1976.

Point is no balance was never easy to achieve.
Compounded by some of the early-days balancing mechanisms being thrown out at the design level starting with 3e e.g. different advancement rates by class, casting becoming harder and harder to interrupt, etc.
 

Hussar

Legend
@Lanefan, something that gets left out though is that AD&D PC's were assumed to have more than 10 magic items each. Otherwise, the strictures on paladins don't make any sense. So, if we assume a 6-8 PC party, it's reasonable to think that most of the time, they would be lugging around 60-80 magic items. O.O

And, if we look at the old 1e modules, that wasn't actually a hard limit to reach. There were a LOT of magic items in those old magic items. Sure, a lightning bolt save was hard to make, but, they also weren't all that common. Blue dragons and 5th level+ wizards were about the only things that shot lightning.

Sure, you might be running through magic items, but, the point is, you had a LOT of magic items to run through.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Never heard this term - does this mean the sort of celebration where you all go down to the pub, drink enough beer that you all forget any wrongs anyone else there has done to you, and all leave as the best of friends?

If not, it should. :)
It's not a distinction commonly made outside a theological context, and even then, it's not a commonly made distinction in West European theologies... but within a Byzantine, Coptic, or Syriac frame of reference...

Liturgical celebrations: divine liturgy - to use the roman term, the mass.
Paraliturgical: any other formal church services other than the Divine Liturgy.

For more, Forgiveness Sunday - OrthodoxWiki
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
casting becoming harder and harder to interrupt, etc.
So much eraticness ... to that implementation. I liked it in concept didnt see it actually do its thing in practice easy to interrupt at low level when it was most well rude (you get 1 magic thing only to do at low level and oops nope not today) and potentially very quickly a lot harder to do at high level when it really might be needed to keep them in line. Honest this is like boosting the availability of magic items of the fighter types IT seems like it can/could work in theory land but it really makes huge assumptions which failed in practice land like mages not getting the items.
 
Last edited:

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Makes it far easier as a DM to give out magic items when you know the odds are they won't last forever.
Destroying magic items in stories usually seems a big deal... them volcanos and the like come in handy not so much incidental damage on a battlefield (important choices involved)
Randomly hitting the big score can be far more fun than being able to predict and control when it happens.
Really says who... (yes I know the gambler and its why you call it a big score and I call it a climactic - it is actually pretty telling)
Fluke die rolls honestly don't impress me as much as those based on choices remember the game was supposed to be about the player expressing their character through choices (such as what things seem important to the player and character) AND on top of that the class most interested in fighting had the fewest functional tactical and strategic choices IMHO that sucks.
TBH In the end I want having a really climatic effect to not be just because of resource management (it is part of it) but occurring because of a combination of that planning and team work and combining more than one characters abilities and exploiting features of the scene and so on to me that is way more interesting than just an ooh look the plastic said so. (or just the bald faced decision but even just the decision says something about the character and what the player considers important). To me things like the 4e slayer or champion in 5e lack expressiveness (and the 5e bm only seems a bit better with kill it fast dominating everything).
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top