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

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
As a player this is almost the exact opposite of what I am looking for in a role playing game. I want character defining moments like this to be on screen and salient to the entire group. I take a strong interest in the characters other players play. I want to know their struggles and triumphs. If someone is playing a Paladin who worships Kord I want that to be salient to what happens on screen. I want differences between characters to be meaningfully affect their interactions.

From where I stand there can be no story without protagonists. In order for player characters to be protagonists we need to know what is important to them. We cannot have that without specificity of fiction and them being meaningfully grounded in the lore.
Um, awesome? It is nice that you make incorrect assumptions about how we play; but if you, as a player, demand that everyone else spin their wheels so that you can be the solo protagonist of your own story, our group probably isn’t the right place for you.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
But yes, to make this abundantly clear, it is odd to me that someone would use multiple contested rolls (and failure) from a quintessential downtime activity as an example of how "freeform" their game is.

As I have stated before, it took me a while (coming from D&D) to appreciate and grok Amber (and later related systems) when they first came out. But there was something freeing about not having to roll dice; while you can't take that type of resolution system wholesale for obvious reasons, there are all sorts of useful things that I incorporated into my games for my experiences long-running table.

For example, I still remember the passage from the Amber Core Rulebook that stuck with me- if a character is likely to be able to do something, then that character will succeed. Period. Because it made me think about how much of a complete waste of time and energy I had been spending on, inter alia, downtime activities from players.

If a player wants to research a spell, or work on a magic item, or do something else cool during their downtime, then ... yes. Just yes. I trust my players enough to let them build that portion of the world, and they've never disappointed me. In fact, similar in some ways to letting someone grade themselves, they usually make the thing in question cost more and/or take more time than I would have. ;). Because they are good people that are fun to play with.

I suppose if you really wanted to roll some dice to validate your downtime, because that made you feel more protagonist-y, I wouldn't stop you.

So, yeah, I was being a little dismissive, @Campbell, but I genuinely don't get that. If a player wanted to waste our precious playing time by demanding that everyone sit around so that he could be the protagonist of his own story, because REASONS, that player wouldn't last too long in our group. We have better things to do.

That doesn't mean there aren't other groups! I read with fascination a number of thread where people discuss all the ways they can utilize downtime with increasingly convoluted rules, and I'm just not down with that- but maybe you are. I hope you have a table that supports it!!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Um, awesome? It is nice that you make incorrect assumptions about how we play; but if you, as a player, demand that everyone else spin their wheels so that you can be the solo protagonist of your own story, our group probably isn’t the right place for you.
It's not about just my character. It is about the characters everyone plays. I want these moments to be played out on screen by all players and for everyone to take an active interest in the characters their fellow characters are playing. It is a desire to engage in specificity of fiction and care about the small details. It is about not being in a hurry because there is nothing to hurry to.

I care just as much about the Half-Orc Rogue you are playing who was once wrongfully imprisoned based on racial prejudices as my Paladin who discovered his calling in the gladiatorial pits. I care about who your Cleric worships. I care about what your Sorcerer's lineage is. These details matter to me and I want them to matter on screen no matter which side of it I am currently sitting on.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
To be fair, the actual topic was pretty well solved by like page 4: I have no idea how we got here, but each step seemed to make sense at the time...
I couldn't think of a nicer way to say, "Um, so I answered a question you asked me about my honest opinion regarding something, and apparently you are now saying that my own opinion that you just solicited isn't in accord with the OP, which we haven't been discussing for hundreds of posts .... dude?"
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
It's not about just my character. It is about the characters everyone plays. I want these moments to be played out on screen by all players and for everyone to take an active interest in the characters their fellow characters are playing. It is a desire to engage in specificity of fiction and care about the small details. It is about not being in a hurry because there is nothing to hurry to.

I care just as much about the Half-Orc Rogue you are playing who was once wrongfully imprisoned based on racial prejudices as my Paladin who discovered his calling in the gladiatorial pits. I care about who your Cleric worships. I care about what your Sorcerer's lineage is. These details matter to me and I want them to matter on screen no matter which side of it I am currently sitting on.
Perhaps my group just lacks the leisure time that you have to devote to individualized and lengthy resolution of downtime during group session.

I am envious. That said: 1) I would still use the same system even if I had more time; but 2) I would let you roll some dice if you wanted to. I'd just let you set your own DC for downtime activities. It just seems very important to you, or something,.
 
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Wiseblood

Adventurer
I think it was headed in the direction of board games. Wrath of A and Legend of Drizzt. I got both in the last couple of years and they compelled me to reevaluate 4e. I decided it was better than I gave it credit for being.
 
So the "big tent" of 5e doesn't admit of comparison, in resolution processes, to 4e - but it imposes a very strong conception of what is "downtime" and what is "action" such that reforging an ancient dwarven weapon is downtime, but - - - what? . . . fighting orcs? . . . is not?

In which case I'm quite happy over here outside that tent.
 
I posted an action scene that occurred in a 4e game, and asked about comparisons of resolution to 5e.

The replies I got were that what I described was downtime that only those with the "leisure" to indulge in downtime would actually resolve via mechanics.

For me, that seems to completely reframe the previos X (= 30-odd?) pages of discussion about non-combat resolution. Because I know what I think that consists in. But the 5e perspective seems to be that what I'm thinking about is "downtime".
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I posted an action scene that occurred in a 4e game, and asked about comparisons of resolution to 5e.

The replies I got were that what I described was downtime that only those with the "leisure" to indulge in downtime would actually resolve via mechanics.

For me, that seems to completely reframe the previos X (= 30-odd?) pages of discussion about non-combat resolution. Because I know what I think that consists in. But the 5e perspective seems to be that what I'm thinking about is "downtime".
As far as I can see you got a reply from a DM explaining how he would handle your specific example in his 5e game...Which also, as far as I can see, was not meant to be a commentary on how every DM in 5e should or would choose to rule the resolution of the action you've put forth, only how he/she and his/her particular group would choose to resolve it. But @lowkey13 feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I posted an action scene that occurred in a 4e game, and asked about comparisons of resolution to 5e.

The replies I got were that what I described was downtime that only those with the "leisure" to indulge in downtime would actually resolve via mechanics.

For me, that seems to completely reframe the previos X (= 30-odd?) pages of discussion about non-combat resolution. Because I know what I think that consists in. But the 5e perspective seems to be that what I'm thinking about is "downtime".
Right, except none of that is what happened, except maybe in your mind.

Let's look back at that comment you just made.

So the "big tent" of 5e doesn't admit of comparison, in resolution processes, to 4e - but it imposes a very strong conception of what is "downtime" and what is "action" such that reforging an ancient dwarven weapon is downtime, but - - - what? . . . fighting orcs? . . . is not?

In which case I'm quite happy over here outside that tent.
1. You attempt to make a disparaging comment about the big tent of 5e. That's sad, because I'm the one talking about the Big Tent... of D&D. You know, all the editions. So it would seem that you're trolling for an edition war after I repeatedly told you I wasn't down for that?

In fact, I thought the idea of all of D&D as a big tent (all editions, and even clones) was interesting enough that I made a long comment here about it, and then a separate thread. But you have to re-define it, because reasons I guess? Seriously, though, there is nothing weirder than seeing someone fail at snark when the comment it is directed to (the Big Tent if D&D) was meant to be inclusive.

2. You then go on about the nature of imposing etc. when that's not at all what I was discussing at my home game, which involved the use of "players can do what they want." Here-try this thought problem. Do you think my players think the system I described is "imposing"?


Finally, let's look to the most recent comment. I am not the spokesperson for D&D in general nor of 5e. In fact, I had to repeatedly ask you not to make demands of me to justify what other people wrote? Remember? And then you still said, "Hey, how do you explain this quote from this other guy, huh?"

You asked me how I (not "5e") would handle a specific situation, and I told you.

Based on these comments, I have to honestly wonder if you bother reading what I write.

But to recap:
1. I believe D&D is a big tent, not 5e.
2. I do not speak for 5e; I don't think anyone does, but if there was a spokesperson, I would be a bad one since I run a highly modified game (which I detailed supra).
3. I do not have a habit of defending positions when someone else demands that I do so.
4. As I have derailed above, I tend to value actual play over theory, and applied play over the system, but that's neither here nor there.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I posted an action scene that occurred in a 4e game, and asked about comparisons of resolution to 5e.

The replies I got were that what I described was downtime that only those with the "leisure" to indulge in downtime would actually resolve via mechanics.

For me, that seems to completely reframe the previos X (= 30-odd?) pages of discussion about non-combat resolution. Because I know what I think that consists in. But the 5e perspective seems to be that what I'm thinking about is "downtime".
For what it is worth, downtime is actually a defined thing in 5E, for doing stuff such as you describe (crafting, carrousing, carrying on a professional life for an extended period of time, etc.). There are even two sets of suggested approaches to downtime, in the DMG and the crypto-DMG 2 section of Xanatahr's Guide to Everything, though definitely not highly codified and restricted. For a downtime activity such as your example describes, in 5E you could run it the same way, or the way @lowkey13 suggested he would in his game via "saying yes" to his players, or a number of ways in between based on DM prerogative. This, again, is what I would mean by "free-form" as formal restrictions are lacking. I'm going to quote the free Basic Rules section on downtime, for a comparison (the DMG and Xanathar's have more suggestions):


Between Adventures

Between trips to dungeons and battles against ancient evils, adventurers need time to rest, recuperate, and prepare for their next adventure. Many adventurers also use this time to perform other tasks, such as crafting arms and armor, performing research, or spending their hard-earned gold. In some cases, the passage of time is something that occurs with little fanfare or description. When starting a new adventure, the DM might simply declare that a certain amount of time has passed and allow you to describe in general terms what your character has been doing. At other times, the DM might want to keep track of just how much time is passing as events beyond your perception stay in motion.

Lifestyle Expenses

Between adventures, you choose a particular quality of life and pay the cost of maintaining that lifestyle, as described in chapter 5. Living a particular lifestyle doesn’t have a huge effect on your character, but your lifestyle can affect the way other individuals and groups react to you. For example, when you lead an aristocratic lifestyle, it might be easier for you to influence the nobles of the city than if you live in poverty.

Downtime Activities

Between adventures, the DM might ask you what your character is doing during his or her downtime. Periods of downtime can vary in duration, but each downtime activity requires a certain number of days to complete before you gain any benefit, and at least 8 hours of each day must be spent on the downtime activity for the day to count. The days do not need to be consecutive. If you have more than the minimum amount of days to spend, you can keep doing the same thing for a longer period of time, or switch to a new downtime activity. Downtime activities other than the ones presented below are possible. If you want your character to spend his or her downtime performing an activity not covered here, discuss it with your DM.

Crafting

You can craft nonmagical objects, including adventuring equipment and works of art. You must be proficient with tools related to the object you are trying to create (typically artisan’s tools). You might also need access to special materials or locations necessary to create it. For example, someone proficient with smith’s tools needs a forge in order to craft a sword or suit of armor. For every day of downtime you spend crafting, you can craft one or more items with a total market value not exceeding 5 gp, and you must expend raw materials worth half the total market value. If something you want to craft has a market value greater than 5 gp, you make progress every day in 5-gp increments until you reach the market value of the item. For example, a suit of plate armor (market value 1,500 gp) takes 300 days to craft by yourself. Multiple characters can combine their efforts toward the crafting of a single item, provided that the characters all have proficiency with the requisite tools and are working together in the same place. Each character contributes 5 gp worth of effort for every day spent helping to craft the item. For example, three characters with the requisite tool proficiency and the proper facilities can craft a suit of plate armor in 100 days, at a total cost of 750 gp. While crafting, you can maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day, or a comfortable lifestyle at half the normal cost (see chapter 5 for more information on lifestyle expenses).

Practicing a Profession

You can work between adventures, allowing you to maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day (see chapter 5 for more information on lifestyle expenses). This benefit lasts as long you continue to practice your profession. If you are a member of an organization that can provide gainful employment, such as a temple or a thieves’ guild, you earn enough to support a comfortable lifestyle instead. If you have proficiency in the Performance skill and put your performance skill to use during your downtime, you earn enough to support a wealthy lifestyle instead.

Recuperating

You can use downtime between adventures to recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison. After three days of downtime spent recuperating, you can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, you can choose one of the following results: • End one effect on you that prevents you from regaining hit points. • For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving throws against one disease or poison currently affecting you.

Researching

The time between adventures is a great chance to perform research, gaining insight into mysteries that have unfurled over the course of the campaign. Research can include poring over dusty tomes and crumbling scrolls in a library or buying drinks for the locals to pry rumors and gossip from their lips. When you begin your research, the DM determines whether the information is available, how many days of downtime it will take to find it, and whether there are any restrictions on your research (such as needing to seek out a specific individual, tome, or location). The DM might also require you to make one or more ability checks, such as an Intelligence (Investigation) check to find clues pointing toward the information you seek, or a Charisma (Persuasion) check to secure someone’s aid. Once those conditions are met, you learn the information if it is available. For each day of research, you must spend 1 gp to cover your expenses. This cost is in addition to your normal lifestyle expenses (as discussed in chapter 5).

Training

You can spend time between adventures learning a new language or training with a set of tools. Your DM might allow additional training options. First, you must find an instructor willing to teach you. The DM determines how long it takes, and whether one or more ability checks are required. The training lasts for 250 days and costs 1 gp per day. After you spend the requisite amount of time and money, you learn the new language or gain proficiency with the new tool.

 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
Sure I'll stick to epic tier. Let's look at the DC for a low epic character

Easy: 19 Mod: 26 Hard: 35

That same 4th level character can achieve the easy difficulty with a roll of 7, a roll of 14 for moderate and could probably hit hard with the help of magic...


Top Epic

Easy: 24 Mod: 32 Hard: 42

That same 4th level character can achieve the easy difficulty with a roll of 12, a roll of 20 for moderate (probably easier when everything available to a 4e character is factored in) and could possibly hit hard with the help of magic (Not certain about this but then this is the same effect the DC 30 in 5e creates)...

I think my general point still stands... these are supposed to be the feats of near gods and a 4th level character can accomplish them if given the chance to roll.
A few points:

1) Medium DCs are the litmus test for this as the overwhelming % of DCs in 4e Skill Challenges (the site of noncombat action resolution) are going to be Medium DCs. Complexity 2 SCs are almost surely the vast bulk of SCs across the population of 4e games. Those feature:

5 Medium DCs
1 Hard DC
2 Secondary Skill (augments) uses at either Easy or Medium

2) 67 % or greater success rate is what 4e maths are aiming for. Hit that and your archetype is realized. Fail to hit that and you aren't going to positively move the gamestate's micro or macro trajectory through the deployment of that Skill. Its not, "can you hit it at all?" Its "can you reliably 'move story units' (succeed within the framework of 4e's noncombat conflict resolution mechanics) through the conflict-in/conflict-out deployment of this skill?"

3) Again, to bring it back to the original premise, this was to compare the "noncombat story-unit-moving through archetype" of a Fighter who fights Red Dragon Wyrmlings vs one who fights Ancient Red Dragons. Do they scale in proportion to the magnitude of the scaling inherent to the differential in that combat task? Hence why level 5 (mid Heroic) and level 30 (end game Epic) were chosen.

A level 5 Fighter is going to have somewhere around a +13 Athletics.

Level 30 Medium DC is going to require a 19 to hit. 10 % chance. That isn't remotely legitimate. Again, "capable of hitting" isn't the litmus test for actual play.

Even at the beginning of Epic Tier (which is the arena of Elder Dragons, not the cosmological endgame with Ancient Dragons, Primordials, et al), you're talking about only a 35 % chance of success. This isn't remotely legitimate. You aren't positively affecting the gamestate in noncombat conflict resolution if you're succeeding around 1/3 attempts.

Fundamentally, Heroic Tier PCs cannot succeed in Epic Tier Noncombat Conflict Resolution. They cannot succeed at all against the Hard DC. So they'll never win a Skill Challenge. But even deploying their apex archetype ability against the standard DC they'll face, they fail most of the time. They aren't getting those 5 other Medium DC successes required to shape the outcome of the scene in their favor. Its a "story death spiral" (along with an actual PC death spiral).

4) Its not necessary for the exercise, but the Elder Red Dragon Fighting Epic Tier Fighter will have around a +30 to Athletics...auto-succeeding at their Epic shtick and having a huge success rate even at the High DC.

The Ancient Red Dragon Fighting Epic Tier Fighter will have around a +37 to Athletics (unless Epic Destiny adds something). Again, auto-succeeding at their Epic shtick and having a huge success rate even at the High DC.

The differential between these two Fighters and the Heroic Tier Fighter is enormous.

Ok I apologize for my poor choice of words but let me make my point clear... there is no hard separation mathematically between the tasks a heroic tier character could achieve in the game and what an epic character could achieve ( except possibly at the most extreme end, and I believe even that is attainable if everything available to a 4e character is factored in).

My larger point is that I understand 4e tied certain fiction description, tropes, etc. to certain DC's... but it is only through the hand of the DM gating DC's that said fictional differences are mathematically maintained. This can be accomplished in 5e (or not if one chooses to disregard the possibility of gating DC checks) as well (and I gave examples of how earlier). The main difference I see in the two editions is that 4e has more tightly bound it's game to a specific genre with specific tropes but gives more robust advice and direction around gating (thus the claims of it feeling more restrictive and narrow)... while 5e leaves it pretty much open giving one the tools and a minimum of advice around genres and leaving it up to the individual DM to decide how said tools can be used to create said genre (thus the claims of it not being precise enough or too open in it's resolution for some).

EDIT: Just thought about it the other big difference is that 4e has DC's that are subjective (what a Hard DC is numerically changes depending on level) while 5e has objective DC's (what a hard DC is, 20 stays the same number no matter what level...though the actual check to make the DC's in both games are still subject to DM determination on appropriateness, DM set modifiers, DM set adv/disadv, and so on.
I hope I've illustrated the how and why that you're framing this incorrectly:

(a) Its not GM gating, its system ethos and system math gating.

(b) 4e noncombat isn't about singular task resolution. Its about conflict resolution.

(c) Even if it was (again, its not), the maths overwhelmingly bear out that the Epic Tier Fighter is able to realize their protagonism/archetype and achieve "Epic Tier story wins" through noncombat feats that their Heroic Tier analogue fundamentally cannot.

d) When we bring this to the arena of combat stunting, it gets even more askew. Fundamentally, the Heroic Tier Fighter and the Epic Tier Fighter are different creatures. One is saving villages, fighting Wyrmlings, and climbing brutally treacherous terrestrial walls...the other is saving the cosmos, fighting Ancient Dragons, and climbing the coils of the World Serpent, to look it in they eye and demand parley, as the Elder Spirit violently attempts to shake the hero off.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
2) 67 % or greater success rate is what 4e maths are aiming for. Hit that and your archetype is realized. Fail to hit that and you aren't going to positively move the gamestate's micro or macro trajectory through the deployment of that Skill. Its not, "can you hit it at all?" Its "can you reliably 'move story units' (succeed within the framework of 4e's noncombat conflict resolution mechanics) through the conflict-in/conflict-out deployment of this skill?"

3) Again, to bring it back to the original premise, this was to compare the "noncombat story-unit-moving through archetype" of a Fighter who fights Red Dragon Wyrmlings vs one who fights Ancient Red Dragons. Do they scale in proportion to the magnitude of the scaling inherent to the differential in that combat task? Hence why level 5 (mid Heroic) and level 30 (end game Epic) were chosen.

A level 5 Fighter is going to have somewhere around a +13 Athletics.

Level 30 Medium DC is going to require a 19 to hit. 10 % chance. That isn't remotely legitimate. Again, "capable of hitting" isn't the litmus test for actual play.
I don't really think I need to address any more than this section of your post since you've set some clear guidelines... With those guidelines set I'm a little unclear now on why this discussion is taking place? Does a fighter in 5e who fights red dragon Wyrmlings vs. one who fights Ancient Dragons have a 67 % chance to hit the same DC's?

1st level Fighter: +2 proficiency/+4 attribute = +6 total : DC 10 = 80%/ DC 15 =55%/ DC 20 = 30%/ DC 25= 5%/DC 30= Impossible without outside aid.

20th level Fighter: +6 proficiency /+5 attribute = +11 total : DC 10= 100%/ DC 15= 80%/ DC 20 =55%/ DC 25 =30%/DC 30 = 10%

So we can see here that the most difficult tasks one level of fighter can reliably (over 50% chance) perform are in totally different DC ranges DC 15 for a first level fighter vs. DC 20 for a 20th level fighter... so if the goals are as you set them above I'm unclear on why 5e doesn't achieve this...
 
Here's my particular concern when it comes to making judgement calls based on shifting genre concerns in a play environment where spells have a dramatic impact outside of combat: How do we do it hygienically?
::dubious:: Avoid conventions? ... especially towards the last day...
Don't share dice?

What I mean by this is as levels raise how do we keep our rulings consistent and fair in a way that guarantees we are acting as referees rather than game designers when we make our judgments?
So game designers don't have to be fair or consistent? Hm... that explains a lot, actually... ;P

Basically how can we attach our decisions to things that are true in the game state without meaningfully making a determination based on things like game balance
...using a balanced system, up-front, should help a lot...

...or narrative outcomes?
…setting up characters & situations that would produce strong narratives however the dice end up falling? That is, that are interesting, and don't depend on stock outcomes?
Kinda a high bar.

So, I suppose, if you want to base your decisions in play on the game state, rather than the underlying mechanics or overarching story, /use good mechanics & story/, before you get to that point?
 
For what it is worth, downtime is actually a defined thing in 5E, for doing stuff such as you describe (crafting, carrousing, carrying on a professional life for an extended period of time, etc.).
The flipside of this: a system in which all crafting, carousing etc is "downtime" rather than action scenes doesn't seem to me a terribly big tent.
 
For me, that seems to completely reframe the previos X (= 30-odd?) pages of discussion about non-combat resolution. Because I know what I think that consists in. But the 5e perspective seems to be that what I'm thinking about is "downtime".
"Downtime" is just stuff that's resolved on a scale of days, rather than rounds, minutes or hours. It needn't be 'down' in the sense of unimportant.

5e is a little too stuck in the classic D&D mode of fixed time scales (yes, even though it offers a variant for changing the times for both types of rests to be 'gritty'), with effectiveness tied to them. 4e had hardly gotten away from that paradigm, either, but there was a transparency to its design that made it easy to envision severing that fixed timescale dependence.

I suppose that's something else that could have developed had 4e had a longer run, maybe in a DMG3, along with Epic Level Campaigning....
 

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