What is the essence of D&D

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
What I described could I think be ported fine in the more restrictive explicit style into Pathfinder or 5e - I actually am considering the allowing encounter powers in 4e to come in categories where you acquire one you might actually know 2 or 3 of that level but can use only 1 in a given encounter.

I left out the luck dependent concept because players manipulating their characters luck is one of those things that seems to upset grogs.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Evidence of Primacy of Magic Being Essential to D&D.

((Caveat - being essential to D&D does not preclude it from being present or even essential in other games. Just that without the primacy of magic, it no longer is D&D))

1. The perception of 4e D&D not being D&D. While there are arguably additional factors as to why some might perceive 4e as not being part of D&D, one of those factors unarguably IS the fact that magic was made less "magical". There are numerous quotes, even in this thread, that support this.
Made less "magical" perhaps, but not made any less important or pervasive. Thus, in this way 4e is still very much magic-prime D&D.

2. Every edition of D&D has increased the caster's options and efficacy. A Basic/Expert Magic User had a choice of 12 spells/spell level and only 6 or 7 levels of spells. A cleric had 6. An AD&D MU has more options at 1st level than existed in the entirety of Basic/Expert, never minding cleric and druids. 2e added to this list and added specialist wizards which had more spells per day. 3e added to the list, added stat bonuses to all casters for per day spells, AND added easily craftable magic items like scrolls and wands. 5e has removed the memorization requirements for casters, granted them more spells per day, granted them unlimited cantrips and added in Rituals which are unlimited as well (although costing in time). At no point, other than in 4e, was a caster reduced in options from the edition previous.
All more or less true; albeit with 4e's reduction of capabilities of pre-existing caster classes somewhat cancelled out by its making caster or caster-like classes a much higher perecntage of the total.

3. The perception that anything that cannot be explained must be done with magic. Thus, the example of a rogue jumping using only skill vs a wizard using a Jump spell. A rogue jumping further than an Olympic athlete is verbotten while a wizard is perfectly acceptable. Or, a rogue falling off a cliff using acrobatics to not take damage is also impossible, while a wizard doing it at 1st level is perfectly acceptable. So on and so forth.
This runs face-first into your caveat above: it applies to just about the entirety of the medieval-ish fantasy genre, not just D&D.

Also, (other than 4e which has restrictions on uses of some non or quasi magical powers) a Thief can do fantastic-grade jumps or falls all day while a wizard can only do it up to the number of spells she has memorized that provide the ability.

Which brings up something else about caster-noncaster balance that hasn't really been hit yet: in most situations there's no limits on how many times a Fighter can swing her sword in a day, nor to how many walls a Thief can climb. But pre-4e casters always had a set limit on how much they could do; and this provided a form of balance in situations where the DM pushed a party beyond the 5-minute workday paradigm.

With at-wills in 4e and cantrips in 5e, casters are now also unlimited; and that balance mechanism - such as it was - is no more.

5. Every edition has added more magical goodies to each of the classes. Paladins and Rangers in AD&D gained spells at what 8th level (ish). In 3e, that went down to about 4th level. Now, they gain spells from 2nd level. We have flying barbarians, monks capable of directly casting spells, and, of course, the hybrid archetypes which grant casting to fighters and rogues. There is no longer any class in the game that cannot gain spell casting if the player chooses.
Sad but true; though I don't recall 4e significantly altering this trend any.

So, in conclusion. It's not just about the perception of 4e not being D&D. That was simply one piece of evidence. If we want to look at what is essential to people for something to be considered D&D, then, well, it's not unreasonable to look at what isn't considered D&D. The notions that this is somehow some sort of edition warring or whatnot are perceptions that, IMO, exist more in the critic's mind than in what's actually been presented. It ignores the other evidence which aren't related at all to 4e but on a recognition of trends within the design of D&D.

Like I said way back when, many pages ago, it's no secret why the 5e development team made 5e the way it is. It's not a huge cognitive leap to see that the magic level of D&D has risen every edition. Are other things essential to D&D? Quite possibly. I'm not arguing that they aren't. I AM arguing that the Primacy of Magic is one of the main ingredients of D&D and without that, any game would be perceived as "not D&D".
I'm not disagreeing at all that magic is A major essence of D&D. It's only when you appear to suggest that magic is THE major essence of D&D that I look askance.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No. I've never heard one anyone who uses the Intelligence Rules playing that way; otherwise, why bother with the chance to learn the spell if you had an infinite number of times?

Chance to Know Each Listed Spell pertains to the percentage chance the character has by reason of his or her intelligence to learn any given spell in the level group. The character may select spells desired in any order heor she wishes. Each spell may be checked only once.

Not sure how much more clear "may be check only once" can be.
Context, old chap; context.

The context of that passage is in reference to the (IMO redundant) initial roll-through of all the spells on reaching a new spell level (at 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.). Thus, saying each spell may be checked only once (during this process!) makes sense.

It is not in reference to spells found later; and suggesting this passage applies any other time than the initial roll-through is IMO a misreading of it when put in combination with the "later acquisition of spells" piece; though as I've already said, I can certainly see how it could (and, obviously, has been) interpreted as you have done.

And you don't have an "infinite number of times" by any means: you've at best still only got one shot per level per spell, unless your Int changes which would give you, in effect, a bonus shot at each one.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
Interesting topic for a thread. I read quite of bit of this thread. I've been busy but I wish I had the time to respond sooner. Just seems like this thread has generated a lot of pointless bickering and edition warring.

To me, this primacy of magic thing is a red herring. It has absolutely nothing to do the essence of D&D. It is more of an implementation concern and not really about the essence of the game.

To me, the essence of D&D is the following:

  1. You the player get to explore a fantastic world filled with dungeons, ruins, monsters and magic. Your character is an avatar/playing piece that allows you to insert yourself into this world.
  2. Your character has abilities that help define its role and how you contribute in the game. Classes provide strong archetypes for what you do in the world. The character class becomes a lens through which you see and interact with the fantastic world. Playing different character classes changes the lens and allows you to experience the game in myriad different ways.
  3. The game is a cooperative event where you get to share an experience with other people and contribute to the success of the group.
  4. The player at the table holds the power in a game, not the character. Character capability and player capability are two completely unrelated concepts. The character is just a playing piece for the player to exert their agency on the game.


If you asked me to describe a rules element that dictates the essence of D&D, I'd have to decline. Its not about the rules, its about the approach and the experience at the table as you play it.

I've played and run pretty much every edition of D&D ever released. I've enjoyed playing them all. I have my preferences and I try really hard not to talk in absolutes (I don't always succeed at this).

It is kind of frustrating to hear terms like "not D&D" or "its just a video game" or "only played because of nostalgia" or "it's just old and busted rules" for different versions of the game. I honestly don't care who plays what edition. I like the editions I like and I'm glad others like the editions they like.

I really don't think the implementation really matters with regard to the essence of the game.
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

Also, (other than 4e which has restrictions on uses of some non or quasi magical powers) a Thief can do fantastic-grade jumps or falls all day while a wizard can only do it up to the
/snip
Nope, they can't. The DM will either set the DC so high that the character fails, or will simply rule, "Nope, you can't do that". So, our Thief will never do fantastic grade jumps. Not without magical assistance. Doesn't matter what level the thief is. If the thief attempts something that is "not realistic" the DM will veto it.

So, no, the Thief can't do things all day. They can't do it at all. The only edition that allowed them to do it at all got booted out of the D&D tent.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
Nope, they can't. The DM will either set the DC so high that the character fails, or will simply rule, "Nope, you can't do that". So, our Thief will never do fantastic grade jumps. Not without magical assistance. Doesn't matter what level the thief is. If the thief attempts something that is "not realistic" the DM will veto it.

So, no, the Thief can't do things all day. They can't do it at all. The only edition that allowed them to do it at all got booted out of the D&D tent.
Why would you think this?

You are making an assumption about DM adjudication that matches your argument. For every reason you can think of that a DM would set the DC too high or flat out not let a thief do this, there is an equally likely reason that a DM would totally go with it.

Don't make assumptions on other game systems based on your own outlook.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Nope, they can't. The DM will either set the DC so high that the character fails, or will simply rule, "Nope, you can't do that". So, our Thief will never do fantastic grade jumps. Not without magical assistance. Doesn't matter what level the thief is. If the thief attempts something that is "not realistic" the DM will veto it.

So, no, the Thief can't do things all day. They can't do it at all. The only edition that allowed them to do it at all got booted out of the D&D tent.
This is not a good-faith argument. This is a whine. Be better.
 

Hussar

Legend
Why would you think this?

You are making an assumption about DM adjudication that matches your argument. For every reason you can think of that a DM would set the DC too high or flat out not let a thief do this, there is an equally likely reason that a DM would totally go with it.

Don't make assumptions on other game systems based on your own outlook.
This is not a good-faith argument. This is a whine. Be better.
Oh please. Don't be obtuse. Heck, we had people IN THIS THREAD saying that a rogue jumping 60 feet would be impossible in their game without magic. Too wuxia. Doesn't fit with genre. So, exactly how else am I supposed to interpret that?

Or, better yet, using the 1e or 2e ruleset, what roll would I make to jump 60 feet with my thief? Or 5e for that matter?

You can call it a whine all you like, it's closer to a real world observation based on years of experience.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Oh please. Don't be obtuse. Heck, we had people IN THIS THREAD saying that a rogue jumping 60 feet would be impossible in their game without magic. Too wuxia. Doesn't fit with genre. So, exactly how else am I supposed to interpret that?

Or, better yet, using the 1e or 2e ruleset, what roll would I make to jump 60 feet with my thief? Or 5e for that matter?

You can call it a whine all you like, it's closer to a real world observation based on years of experience.
Forget about rogues, a wizard using the jump spell can't cover 60 feet. These hyperbolic complaints aren't exactly dissuading me of my opinion re: whining. And I know I'm not going to have a constructive conversation about a proper balance point between wizards and rogues with someone who is clearly only interested in airing out years-old grievances. The best I can do is call out the attitude and hope that eventually you'll realize bitterness isn't a good look.
 

Hussar

Legend
Forget about rogues, a wizard using the jump spell can't cover 60 feet. These hyperbolic complaints aren't exactly dissuading me of my opinion re: whining. And I know I'm not going to have a constructive conversation about a proper balance point between wizards and rogues with someone who is clearly only interested in airing out years-old grievances. The best I can do is call out the attitude and hope that eventually you'll realize bitterness isn't a good look.
I get really, really tired of having to justify this sort of stuff over and over again. It really, really begins to annoy me.

Jump allows you to jump TRIPLE your normal distance. Granted, you'd need a STR of 20 to make 60 feet, but, 45 feet is easily doable.

So, ok, you are technically correct, and that's the best kind of correct to be.

Howzabout you actually answer the question - what would the DC be for a rogue to jump triple his normal jumping distance?

Or, in 2e or 1e, how would I go about adjudicating that?

Or are we going to continue pissing about with minutia? Because, hey, that's always so much fun.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Forget about rogues, a wizard using the jump spell can't cover 60 feet. These hyperbolic complaints aren't exactly dissuading me of my opinion re: whining. And I know I'm not going to have a constructive conversation about a proper balance point between wizards and rogues with someone who is clearly only interested in airing out years-old grievances. The best I can do is call out the attitude and hope that eventually you'll realize bitterness isn't a good look.

You can jump 60' with the Jump spell if you have Str 20.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Nope, they can't. The DM will either set the DC so high that the character fails, or will simply rule, "Nope, you can't do that". So, our Thief will never do fantastic grade jumps. Not without magical assistance. Doesn't matter what level the thief is. If the thief attempts something that is "not realistic" the DM will veto it.

So, no, the Thief can't do things all day. They can't do it at all. The only edition that allowed them to do it at all got booted out of the D&D tent.
You say that as if it's an absolute, but we've both read DMs here say that they enjoy running fantastic games like that. Others like me enjoy more realism. To lump us all together like that not only makes no sense, it's wrong.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Oh please. Don't be obtuse. Heck, we had people IN THIS THREAD saying that a rogue jumping 60 feet would be impossible in their game without magic. Too wuxia. Doesn't fit with genre. So, exactly how else am I supposed to interpret that?
Yep, and you know very well that over the years we've seen just as many other DMs say that they love running wuxia games.

You can call it a whine all you like, it's closer to a real world observation based on years of experience.
So this is a case of selective memory so you can be right? Because I know you've been in threads and experienced DMs saying the opposite of what you are claiming.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I get really, really tired of having to justify this sort of stuff over and over again. It really, really begins to annoy me.

Jump allows you to jump TRIPLE your normal distance. Granted, you'd need a STR of 20 to make 60 feet, but, 45 feet is easily doable.

So, ok, you are technically correct, and that's the best kind of correct to be.
Actually, you were technically correct in that a wizard with a 20 strength can in fact jump 60 feet with the spell. It will just pretty much never happen in game play. So you are the one who was technically correct, and that's the best kind of... Oh, you were being sarcastic and you were not being the best kind of correct.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Actually, you were technically correct in that a wizard with a 20 strength can in fact jump 60 feet with the spell. It will just pretty much never happen in game play. So you are the one who was technically correct, and that's the best kind of... Oh, you were being sarcastic and you were not being the best kind of correct.
Jump is a touch spell. Having someone in the party jump 60' is certainly quite within the realm of possibility.

I've also seen Wizards with 20 Str.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Jump is a touch spell. Having someone in the party jump 60' is certainly quite within the realm of possibility.

I've also seen Wizards with 20 Str.
His claim was wizard, though, not "someone." If we're talking "someone," then a 20th level barbarian with a 24 strength can go 72 feet.

I've personally never seen a wizard PC with a 20 strength and I've been playing regularly since 1983. And in a wide variety of settings with a large variety of people. I'm sure it happens, but it can't be common enough to leave the range of "technically correct."
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
So is the complaint that allowing characters to jump superhero distances is gated behind the DM's adjudication, rather than behind a rule that the player can invoke? Because either way if that's the kind of game you want the rules allow it.

So maybe the Essence of D&D is less about the mechanism (magic, supernatural, heroic, etc.) that explains the fiction, and more about who determines outcomes, the DM or the rules. When you start codifying outcomes (also called "player empowerment", maybe?) it ends up looking like the elevation of the mundane compared to the magical. And what looks to some like "Primacy of Magic" is a side-effect, or a symptom, not the underlying principle.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Context, old chap; context.

The context of that passage is in reference to the (IMO redundant) initial roll-through of all the spells on reaching a new spell level (at 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.). Thus, saying each spell may be checked only once (during this process!) makes sense.

It is not in reference to spells found later; and suggesting this passage applies any other time than the initial roll-through is IMO a misreading of it when put in combination with the "later acquisition of spells" piece; though as I've already said, I can certainly see how it could (and, obviously, has been) interpreted as you have done.

And you don't have an "infinite number of times" by any means: you've at best still only got one shot per level per spell, unless your Int changes which would give you, in effect, a bonus shot at each one.
No, I truly don't see how you can't understand this. I've met tons of people that have houseruled this, tons of people that have ignored this, but I've never met anyone that doesn't understand it? It's like someone saying that they don't understand the Elf/Spirit/Resurrection thing (absent rod, etc.); it's plenty ignored, but it's still there.

The chance to acquire the spell is in OD&D (Greyhawk Supp.), and you can see it in Holmes (alas, poor Malchor, not learning your sleep spell!). Same thing there- you get the one chance to learn it.

There are multiple examples at the time of this use; see, e.g., Dragon Magazine #62 (introducing Cantrips and Mysteries, referring to ability to acquire the spell via the table one time); Forum Rules letter from Dragon #113 ("If you fail your Chance to Know Spell roll, that is it. You cannot understand the spell."; or just look at the general compendium in Dragon Magazine #147 (summing up the PHB, DMG, UA, and the BRAND NEW 2e's rules on it; discussing unknown spells as being the same as if you have reached your maximum number of spells per level).

But it keeps going! Look at Oriental Adventures, p. 25 (Wu Jen), explaining how the chance to know each spell works, again. (This is also one of the good sources for the permanent change in intelligence!)


In other words, I appreciate the density of the text can be confusing, but you were playing with a common house rule. :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
To me, the essence of D&D is the following:

  1. You the player get to explore a fantastic world filled with dungeons, ruins, monsters and magic. Your character is an avatar/playing piece that allows you to insert yourself into this world.
  2. Your character has abilities that help define its role and how you contribute in the game. Classes provide strong archetypes for what you do in the world. The character class becomes a lens through which you see and interact with the fantastic world. Playing different character classes changes the lens and allows you to experience the game in myriad different ways.
  3. The game is a cooperative event where you get to share an experience with other people and contribute to the success of the group.
  4. The player at the table holds the power in a game, not the character. Character capability and player capability are two completely unrelated concepts. The character is just a playing piece for the player to exert their agency on the game.


If you asked me to describe a rules element that dictates the essence of D&D, I'd have to decline. Its not about the rules, its about the approach and the experience at the table as you play it.

I've played and run pretty much every edition of D&D ever released. I've enjoyed playing them all. I have my preferences and I try really hard not to talk in absolutes (I don't always succeed at this).

It is kind of frustrating to hear terms like "not D&D" or "its just a video game" or "only played because of nostalgia" or "it's just old and busted rules" for different versions of the game. I honestly don't care who plays what edition. I like the editions I like and I'm glad others like the editions they like.

I really don't think the implementation really matters with regard to the essence of the game.
So Legend of the 5 Rings is a game where...

1. You the player get to explore a fantastic world filled with dungeons, ruins, monsters and magic. Your character is an avatar/playing piece that allows you to insert yourself into this world.
2. Your character has abilities that help define its role and how you contribute in the game. Classes provide strong archetypes for what you do in the world. The character class becomes a lens through which you see and interact with the fantastic world. Playing different character classes changes the lens and allows you to experience the game in myriad different ways.
3. The game is a cooperative event where you get to share an experience with other people and contribute to the success of the group.
4. The player at the table holds the power in a game, not the character. Character capability and player capability are two completely unrelated concepts. The character is just a playing piece for the player to exert their agency on the game.

According to your post, Legend of the 5 Rings is D&D. Is Legend of the 5 Rings D&D?
 

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