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4E Where was 4e headed before it was canned?

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
D&D went generations without approaching parity or more accurately rough equity with specialization differences within that ... your EASY is an incredible achievement
 
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Campbell

Legend
So I am not generally looking for parity in the sense of equality of outcomes between martial characters and spell casters. What I want is for everyone to have the opportunity to play skillfully and have a dramatic impact on the game state with meaningful risks and rewards. I want those impacts to be different with different risks and rewards for each class. I am unsure how you get there without providing some definition to skills.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
So I am not generally looking for parity in the sense of equality of outcomes between martial characters and spell casters.
Great rough equity with specialization differences within that.... I am generally not interested in playing side kicks when its not hitting something with my sword.

See those specializations that was how 4e used roles to create specialization differences in the combat arena... details of how the skill powers and class utilities worked did something similar though a lot of it was combat arena as well.
 

Campbell

Legend
Great rough equity with specialization differences within that.... I am generally not interested in playing side kicks when its not hitting something with my sword.

Neither am I. I think that's why it is critical to have clear conceptual space defined between what magic is good at and what a particular skill is good at so you can create a rich play environment where both are meaningfully valuable in different ways allowing players to play the game with skill. I generally like there to be some risks to either approach so nothing is automatic.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Neither am I. I think that's why it is critical to have clear conceptual space defined between what magic is good at and what a particular skill is good at so you can create a rich play environment where both are meaningfully valuable in different ways allowing players to play the game with skill. I generally like there to be some risks to either approach so nothing is automatic.
itty bitty spell patches do not do enough. Nor is keeping skill effects vaguely defined on the fly.
Especially when everyone has skills... make the caster use up skill proficiencies to do his magic.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Fun trick that mythic mage how are they going to make him feel mythic OH right he is locked in and getting an at will feather fall is an epic achievement. The same way they could adjust skill power use.
 
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MoutonRustique

Explorer
Fantastic discussion guys. I find the Captain America references fascinating if for no other reason than he's my favorite superhero. :-D

However I would argue that Captain America as seen on screen actually supports a 5E style of play more than 4E. Sure his fighting style was cranked up to 11 when he was battling Thanos in Endgame compared to his first few HYDRA opponents in The First Avenger but I don't know that I'd say his non-combat athleticism doubled or tripled in that same amount of time. A 25% increase sounds about right. In fact from The Winter Soldier on I'd say it was pretty much static with regards to acrobatics and feats of strength.
I'm not sure you're correctly applying the Captain American reference here. As you've stated, there is no power progression to what Captain American can do - as with most super heroes, he has the powers he has. He's just informing us as to what could be generally assumed possibilities (as he's a "martial"/"non-magic" based super) outside combat.

This is what makes him useful - he's the yardstick you measure others against.

So, if you say that wyrmlings are below Cap' level, then when your fighter's power is "wyrmling-equivalent", your out-of-combat athletics should be inferior to Caps'. If you say that fighting great wyrms is at, or above, Cap' level, and your fighter is, then you should be able to do Cap' level, and above, athletics.

With overall progress of +5-6, if you look at the odds, that doesn't seem to pan out that much. However, if you feel 5e does that well - awesome, and keep on playing that way! The point isn't to get you to change how you're having fun. Or lessen that fun.

Ah, ok I think I see what you're getting at... Also these are off the cuff so just using them to illustrate the point, not necessarily how I'd rule in a real camapign.

Ok so 4th level mythic character diverts the flow of a volcano to avoid it destroying a village... STR DC 15 to push a boulder into it's path to block it/divert the lava flow.

20th level mythic character diverts the flow of a volcano to avoid it destroying a village... STR DC 15 to push a boulder into it's path to block it/ divert the lava flow.

So 4th level mythic character tries to hold the world mountain (The mountain upon which the entire world rests) upon his shoulders to stop it falling into the abyss...and auto-fails it is impossible for him to accomplish.

20th level character tries to hold the world mountain upon his shoulders to stop it falling into the abyss... STR DC 25 to hold it up over the abyss
Bold by me for emphasis.
Just to make sure I parse this correctly : it is within the engine to auto-deny a significant chance of success, whilst simultaneously not doing so for other tasks set to the same probability. Yes?

I'm not saying changing the meaning of a DC depending on the character's level is bad in any way, shape or form, I'm just asking if this is what you're advocating for here. Because the first half says "no", and then the second says "yes".
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
there are certain things that are just plain impossible until you meet a minimum threshold of athleticism in game.
Sounds inadequate... and a partial patch for not making the higher tiers more numerically awesome (and not making their challenges more numerically awesome) instead of using the d20 and your characters level advancements -- see that is a complaint yes i do not think those few percentiles represent enough advancement to me Level became very inadequate. It doesn't really match its own fluff in over all advancement and even specific advancement for things which are actually advancing.

Do we need fighters to also get expertise...
I mean I am a big fan of reflavoring but I also like the flavor to have some meat on its bones.

How are you going to make mages more Mythic? They are massively system bound in specific spell effects (guess whatever your answer - or whatever is intimated currently - you could use a similar technique to enhance skills powers and well defined skill effects too - if we had any)
 
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Ah, ok I think I see what you're getting at... Also these are off the cuff so just using them to illustrate the point, not necessarily how I'd rule in a real camapign.

Ok so 4th level mythic character diverts the flow of a volcano to avoid it destroying a village... STR DC 15 to push a boulder into it's path to block it/divert the lava flow.

20th level mythic character diverts the flow of a volcano to avoid it destroying a village... STR DC 15 to push a boulder into it's path to block it/ divert the lava flow.

So 4th level mythic character tries to hold the world mountain (The mountain upon which the entire world rests) upon his shoulders to stop it falling into the abyss...and auto-fails it is impossible for him to accomplish.

20th level character tries to hold the world mountain upon his shoulders to stop it falling into the abyss... STR DC 25 to hold it up over the abyss

Awesome, I'm glad we're on the same page.

So here are two thoughts on the offered response:

1) Due to the lack of significant numerical disparity between low level and high level Fighters in noncombat action resolution, how does a table deal with genre creep not trickling downward from Epic to Heroic Tier play?

The low level Wizard cannot learn Wish/Shapechange et al. The Epic Spellcasting trope is closed off because of systemitized, codified, player-facing rules about spellcasting.

But what is to stop the "Wyrmling-Equivalent-Fighter" (WEF tm) from engaging in the kind of Epic Noncombat Genre Tropes that the "Ancient Wyrm-Equivalent-Fighter" (AWEF tm) should exclusively be engaging in? "Natural Language" is one of the fundamental tenants of the game's design. The designers told us they start with 5e's world and story and then build the mechanics off of that. Consequently, the DCs should be objective things, their natural language classifications scrutable by worldly observers and players alike;

"Despite the torrential downpour and raging winds, Nissa's ears perked at the subtle exhale of her foe some hundred yards away. Her arrow pierced the storm. The breath was his last." "No way, that's impossible." "Nearly so..."

How do we stop the martial genre creep downward?...

2) Rulings-not-rules, GM-facing gating. I hope everyone in the thread can agree that the table experience of systemitized, codified, player-facing, action resolution mechanics are a different experience than GM-facing gating? Can we agree upon that?

No one believes that If you literally turned the tables and all spellcasting and martial noncombat action resolution was handled in the diametrically opposite fashion expressed here, the cognitive and emotional experience of playing a spellcaster vs being a martial character would be unchanged? Correct?

Fantastic discussion guys. I find the Captain America references fascinating if for no other reason than he's my favorite superhero. :-D

However I would argue that Captain America as seen on screen actually supports a 5E style of play more than 4E. Sure his fighting style was cranked up to 11 when he was battling Thanos in Endgame compared to his first few HYDRA opponents in The First Avenger but I don't know that I'd say his non-combat athleticism doubled or tripled in that same amount of time. A 25% increase sounds about right. In fact from The Winter Soldier on I'd say it was pretty much static with regards to acrobatics and feats of strength.

@Kai Lord

See @MoutonRustique 's reply (for where I think you misinterpreted what I was saying) and see my comment about "genre creep downward" above.
 

pemerton

Legend
4e has examples of what certain DC's mean... while not as exhaustive as 3e it still locks in a chunk of that color to specific DC's.

As an example...Climb has DC's listed as follows...
DC 0 Ladder
DC 10 Rope
DC 15 Uneven Surface (Cave Wall)
DC 20 Rough Surface (Brick Wall)
DC +5 Slippery Surface
DC +5 Unusually Smooth Surface

EDIT: Also these are player facing, being located in the PHB, so this isn't a case where majority of players won't see these... it's a case where the designers are very much letting players know what the expected color is for DC's in the game.
5e has plenty of this sort of thing too. The Basic PDF - mostly in the equipment list, which is clearly "player facing" - has DCs for extinguishing the flames from Alchemist's Fire; for moving over scattered ball bearings without following over; for moving safely through a field of caltrop; for breaking chain, a snare, rope, a net, or manacles; for avoiding a snare; for escaping from manacles; for picking various locks; for making a forced march; for surviving without water; for clearing a low obstacle with a jump; for landing on one's feet when jumping into difficult terrain; to avoid being dismounted; for stabilising a dying creature and recovering from injury and disease; for maintaing concentration on a spell; for escaping from rubble following an earthquake.

If it's a DC 10 DEX check to move at full speed through an area with scattered ball bearings, that seems to generate an expecgtation as to what (say) the DC to walk across a log without falling off (presumably no higher). If it's a DC 20 STR check to break a metal chain (!), then we know that there aren't very many doors about with a higher DC required to break them down. Etc.

This is why I don't see either 4e or 5e as a principally freeform system. But it's also why I don't see this asserted difference between them in this particular respect.

With my limited experience with 4e (and without referencing the few books I have), I would say that between the utility powers, etc. It was much clearer what kinds of actions were genre-expected in 4e (mediated by tier/level) than it is in 5e. A position boisterously espoused by other 4e supporters on this thread.

<snip>

I grant that there are other aspects of the two systems which factor into this perception of a loss of martial parity (particularly the expenditure of resources via AEDU powers.)
I'm reasonably familiar with 4e's matial utility powers. Rogues, for instance, get a number which allow them to hide without adequate cover or (at epic tier) with no cover required and no check required.

I'm not sure how this would be done in 5e - presumably by piling on DC numbers and/or imposing disadvantage on the check.

But I'm missing how this has any bearing on the issue of which is more freeform. Both systems have significant numbers of non-check-based, non-GM-mediated- "goal and approach", resolution sub-systems: powers in 4e; various class abilities including spells in 5e. These sub-systems set parameters for what is possible in the fiction. Eg the 3rd level 5e thief gets "Second story work", which is anaolgous to a 4e at-will utility power like Great Leap (2nd lvel) or Nimble Climb (6th level); the 2nd level 5e fighter can use Action Surge to boost his/her movement, which is somewhat analogous to the 4e 6th level skill power Mighty Sprint.

What's the DC, in 5e, for climbing at full speed when not a 3rd level thief? What's the DC, in 4e, for climbing at full speed when not using Nimble Climb? The approach to answering these questions is, as far as I can tell, fundamentally the same in both systems. It's not affected by the slightly different resource schema in the two systems (except to the extent that what the GM has to keep in mind is resource scheme X in 4e and resource scheme Y in 5e) and it's not affected by the different player-side resource pools, which (in 4e) don't factor into the setting of the DC but rather allow the player to affect the output of the roll (ie after the DC is set), or perhaps to reframe the fiction before declaring the action (ie beofre the GM needs to consider setting the DC).

part of the process of action resolution in 5e is that the DM can determine whether an action is possible or not
If we are talking about actions that are declared outside the context of a formal rules sub-system like a spell or class ability then, again, I don't see the contrast with 4e. 4e I think encourages a different ethos when it comes to deciding what is possible, and in my view provids better support for translating fiction through action into consequences (via the skill challenge structure), but the actual procedure of adjudiction for these action declarations I think is the same.

Now if the claim is that 5e is more freeform than 4e because it allows the GM to override (say) a class ability like Second Story Work or Action Surge, well that's a very different claim from what I've seen so far in this thread. Personally I don't think that freeform, in the context of RPGing, is a synonym for GM decides.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Whoops, missed the reply to the earlier post, so, I'm editing this one to reply:

/snip

Did I say had a chance at doing anything in the game? Did I say had a chance at doing the impossible in the game?... Come on, here we go again. Can you go back and read what I actually wrote and address it or just quit replying to me because again we're headed towards mis-understandings because somehow from can succeed at some of the hardest tasks in the game... you've interpreted my meaning to be succeeds at all of the hardest tasks in the game even the impossible... or any of the hardest tasks in the game including the impossible... neither of which I actually said.

If a task is impossible for someone without training... then it's not one of the hardest tasks in the game world... it's an impossible task without training... is that really so hard to comprehend it's in a different category? Now what constitutes an impossible task for someone vs a very hard task is a DM call in 5e... but we knew that already.

Just to illustrate further... can you ride a horse without having a horse? Can you pick a lock with no tools? Can you play an instrument without an actual instrument to play... I wouldn't call any of these tasks some of the hardest in the gameworld... but there are still circumstances where they are impossible to succeed at. Determining a particular usage of a skill is trained only is no different.

There is a significant difference here @Imaro that you are ignoring. You are claiming that the DC is objective, but, it isn't. The ONLY reason that the task requires training to succeed is because you, the DM, have decreed it so. After all, there are a number of other ways I could achieve the DC without being trained - Guidance spells as an easiest example.

So, again, is the DC objective - as in the DC is fixed and so long as I reach that DC, regardless of HOW I reach it, I succeed, or is the DC subjective, and walled off by you the DM who has decided that regardless of whatever number I achieve, I cannot possibly succeed unless I am trained?

Sorry, but, your other examples are complete red herrings. Of course you can't ride a horse with no horse. But, that's not the same thing. The DC for riding that horse doesn't change depending on whether I'm trained or not. The DC remains fixed. It's objective. But, if the only way I can make my horse jump across that open space is if I'm trained in Animal Handling, then, no, that's not an objective DC. That's a subjective DC based on the DM's understanding of how to make a horse jump.

Is that clear enough now?
 
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Imaro

Adventurer
.
Just to make sure I parse this correctly : it is within the engine to auto-deny a significant chance of success, whilst simultaneously not doing so for other tasks set to the same probability. Yes?

I'm not saying changing the meaning of a DC depending on the character's level is bad in any way, shape or form, I'm just asking if this is what you're advocating for here. Because the first half says "no", and then the second says "yes".

You're asking a question but then your second paragraph is based on assumption that doesn't necessarily follow. So to your first question... Yes it is within the engine to auto-deny a chance of success while simultaneously not doing so for other tasks which have the same DC.

To address your second paragraph... I'm not changing the meaning of a DC... the DC is 25 (Very Hard) it will always be 25 for any character granted a roll... so it is DC 25 (Very Hard) but in the stage where a DM is deciding whether a roll is appropriate or not... when at X or above level the roll is appropriate otherwise there is no uncertainty to be rolled for and it is plainly impossible to do at a lower level and to rol would be inappropriate...

The DC hasn't changed the judgement on whether a particular character warrants a roll against said DC is what has been decided before we even get to what the DC for the task is.


EDIT: Here's a possibly better example... If I set a hard DC of 25 to hold your breath underwater for 3 hours during a raging storm in the sea for a semi-amphibious PC but give no roll for a non-amphibious PC is that changing the DC or is it judging a roll is inappropriate for the non-amphibious PC because it's just inappropriate, they can't do it?
 
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Imaro

Adventurer
Whoops, missed the reply to the earlier post, so, I'm editing this one to reply:



There is a significant difference here @Imaro that you are ignoring. You are claiming that the DC is objective, but, it isn't. The ONLY reason that the task requires training to succeed is because you, the DM, have decreed it so. After all, there are a number of other ways I could achieve the DC without being trained - Guidance spells as an easiest example.

So, again, is the DC objective - as in the DC is fixed and so long as I reach that DC, regardless of HOW I reach it, I succeed, or is the DC subjective, and walled off by you the DM who has decided that regardless of whatever number I achieve, I cannot possibly succeed unless I am trained?

Yep the DC is ojective... of course part of getting a roll for said DC is being trained and it applies to everyone in the gameworld equally. So no the guidance spell, unless it imparts training would not make it appropriate for you to roll.

But, if the only way I can make my horse jump across that open space is if I'm trained in Animal Handling, then, no, that's not an objective DC. That's a subjective DC based on the DM's understanding of how to make a horse jump.

It's objective as long as the animal handling requirement is in place for every character in the gameworld who tries to accomplish it.

Is that clear enough now?

Tone it down buddy...I wasn't the one who mis-represented what you stated, argued against my own strawman then played the victim role and accused you of somehow spinning the argument into confusion... a point you still haven't addressed...
 
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pemerton

Legend
I'm not changing the meaning of a DC... the DC is 25 (Very Hard) it will always be 25 for any character granted a roll... so it is DC 25 (Very Hard) but in the stage where a DM is deciding whether a roll is appropriate or not... when at X or above level the roll is appropriate otherwise there is no uncertainty to be rolled for and it is plainly impossible to do at a lower level and to rol would be inappropriate...

The DC hasn't changed the judgement on whether a particular character warrants a roll against said DC is what has been decided before we even get to what the DC for the task is.


EDIT: Here's a possibly better example... If I set a hard DC of 25 to hold your breath underwater for 3 hours during a raging storm in the sea for a semi-amphibious PC but give no roll for a non-amphibious PC is that changing the DC or is it judging a roll is inappropriate for the non-amphibious PC because it's just inappropriate, they can't do it?
This appears to contradict your earlier claim that 5e DCs are "objective" in a way that contrasts with 4e DCs. As you present it here, first the GM has to decide whether or not something is possible independent of setting the DC, and then the GM has to decide whether or not the task is Very Hard (or whatever) for the PC in question. Why is the PC's skill bonus not part of that caluclation? Obviously it can't be, or the whole point of the DC system breaks down - but now we have a weirdness where some bits of the PC's ability factor into the DC setting but others don't.

This is not giving me the sense of a straightforward elegant system that contrast with 4e in key respects.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
This appears to contradict your earlier claim that 5e DCs are "objective" in a way that contrasts with 4e DCs. As you present it here, first the GM has to decide whether or not something is possible independent of setting the DC, and then the GM has to decide whether or not the task is Very Hard (or whatever) for the PC in question. Why is the PC's skill bonus not part of that caluclation? Obviously it can't be, or the whole point of the DC system breaks down - but now we have a weirdness where some bits of the PC's ability factor into the DC setting but others don't.

This is not giving me the sense of a straightforward elegant system that contrast with 4e in key respects.

A few corrections to your assumptions...

1. Yes the first step is determining if a roll is appropriate or not (elegant way to deal with corner cases, silliness, etc without having a ton of keywords or references for special or absurd cases)

2. I'm not deciding whether the task is X for a particular PC I'm deciding the task is X... now whether you can roll to attempt the task has already been decided above (and honestlyif it's no, we don;t even need to move to this step), if you can roll...the task is X, it doesn't scale & it doesn't change.

3. Why would PC skill bonus factor into an objective DC?

4. There is no weirdness. You assumed the DC was being set on an individual level but it's not it's being set at an objective level but the DM has a step beforehand to judge whether a roll is appropriate or not... this step is not setting the DC, scaling the DC or anything in terms of the DC it is a simple decision on whether a roll is appropriate or not. If not no DC even needs to be set.

It seems pretty straightforward and elegant to me, what's the hang up?
 


pemerton

Legend
I'm not deciding whether the task is X for a particular PC I'm deciding the task is X

<snip>

There is no weirdness. You assumed the DC was being set on an individual level but it's not it's being set at an objective level but the DM has a step beforehand to judge whether a roll is appropriate or not
Your example was of an amphibious character holding his/her breath.

What about a particularly agile PC skilled at climbing (eg a 3rd level thief with the Second Story Work ability). If the task is get to the top of the Cliffs of Insanity before dawn then does the DC change for that character compared to another character who lacks that ability? Or grant advantage (which is functionally comparable to, if not strictly mathematically equivalent to, a DC change across a fairly wide range of DCs).

In deciding that something is Impossible or Very Hard or whatever you seem to be factoring in relevant PC capabilities (at least, ones that are not already expressed as skill/stat check bonuses). It's not clear to me why the amphibiousness would count but the climbing ability wouldn't. But if it would then we have DC being set by reference to a particular PC.

This sort of thing is fairly common across a range of RPGs. It's not objectionable. But to me it doesn't suggest a freeform approach to resolution.

I'd contrast with, say, a HeroQuest revised PC who has the descriptor Amphibious or Second Story Work. In that system there is the relatively freeform adjudication is this declared action feasible given this PCs capabilities in the fiction?, and then there is the system-dictated (based on pacing considerations) setting of a DC. There's no need in HeroQuest revised to factor in all the sub-systems that bear upon what can be achieved with a stat/skill check (like being amphibious or being skilled a second story work) but that aren't already expressed in the stat/skill itself.

The hangup is this is another proxy battle in a pointless war.

Some people just like to watch the editions burn.
Hey, I'm not the one arguing that 5e is uniquely or distinctively freeform in contrast to its very close cousin (skill/stat check-wise) 4e.
 


Parmandur

Legend
Hey, I'm not the one arguing that 5e is uniquely or distinctively freeform in contrast to its very close cousin (skill/stat check-wise) 4e.

Nobody is claiming that: the claim in question is that between the two of them, 5E is relatively more free-form: if 4E is a 5 on a 10 point scale, 5E is a 6., or 5.5 even. It literally has the same Skill system, just with streamlined math and less suggested inherently in the system (that is, the form is more liberated for improvised action resolution, and differences from table to table).
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
The hangup is this is another proxy battle in a pointless war.

Some people just like to watch the editions burn.
This post (and others of similar ilk) do not seem particularly constructive. If you feel the discussion pointless, please do not participate in it.

[...] It seems pretty straightforward and elegant to me, what's the hang up?
A possible hangup (one I have) is that I'm not seeing how/when then difference in kind is triggered in the fiction.

Since in one situation you assign a DC, and in another you do not, this isn't a difference of scale, it is of kind. As an hypothetical player, having my fighter character progress from low to mid to high level, I will have encountered many situations where a check was asked of me. At low levels, I wanted to push a boulder and was asked to roll vs DC 15. Later on, at mid levels, I wanted to push another (similar) boulder, and was asked to roll vs DC 15. That tracks, no worries. Later, within the same adventure, I wanted to uphold a massive stone door to let my friends escape. This was a very hard task and I was asked to roll vs DC 25. Harder task, higher DC, that tracks, no worries. At very high levels, I wanted to hold up the world as my friends rebuilt the Pillars of Creation and was asked to roll vs DC 25. It was a very hard task, and so...wait... how does that track?

Since I'm not invoking any special skill, where does the demarcation come from? The DC can't go up much, as my chances to succeed would be abysmal. I'm not harping on "DC 25", I'm just not seeing how a game could work in this context without prior rolls set at the same DC having very different scale in fiction - with the DC still being "not subjective to level". I... I don't get it.

EDIT: Here's a possibly better example... If I set a hard DC of 25 to hold your breath underwater for 3 hours during a raging storm in the sea for a semi-amphibious PC but give no roll for a non-amphibious PC is that changing the DC or is it judging a roll is inappropriate for the non-amphibious PC because it's just inappropriate, they can't do it?
This is a good example of what I was talking about when I used the term "kind" vs "scale". As such, it doesn't help me. But, if you feel you've already explained it, I can live with "not getting it".
 
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