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5E Why does 5E SUCK?

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
I dunno. I don't really feel awesome when I fail to hit a balor half the time, anymore than I felt awesome when I used to miss an orc or a giant half of the time.

To contrast, it does make me feel more awesome when I go from missing an ogre half the time (for 10% of its health) to hitting it 90% of the time (for half its health). Nothing shows progress quite like trivializing what used to be a challenge. When I'm facing a lock that is objectively Hard, and I remember when my chance of success was slim, and now I succeed on a 3 or better, that's awesome.
This is exactly the achievement-fun I was talking about.

AbdulAlhazred said:
It came from the DM building more and more amazing fiction around the DCs, and from everything else. You might hit a Balor about the same way you'd hit an Orc at the appropriate levels, but FIGHTING a Balor is WAY different. It has an aura, resistances, and powers that have a number of varied effects.
That's just added complexity. If the end result is that I'm still going to win with about the same amount of damage, the added complexity is largely meaningless. It's extra fiddly hoops to jump through. Oh it has an aura, well look at all my energy resistance and extra hps. Oh it has resistances, look at my sneak attack damage and my pryomancy feat that lets me ignore that. Oh it has a lot of varied effects that all have the ultimate result of about the same thing that a brute of that same level and monster rank would have in a simpler, more straightforward format.

It's all a wash. It's a little like those high-level old school modules that were like "uhhh, you can't teleport and divination doesn't work here because uhhhh....it's magic, shut up." Only it's more complicated. The output is the same: the game wants to render these things mostly irrelevant to cleave to the strict balance that it desperately wants. It's being a fragile little princess snowflake, and resisting the dramatic and the unexpected.

AbdulAlhazred said:
So what I found was that the mechanics 'fall away'. The game becomes highly narratively focused, or at least focused on what the PCs want to DO, and not really on numbers.
See, this is a problem for me - mechanics shouldn't fall away. They should support what you're doing. If the mechanics fall away, then screw the mechanics, why don't I just tell this story without these weird dice?

AbdulAlhazred said:
I don't think there's anything horribly wrong with the way 5e does things, it just focuses much more on numbers. Everything seems to be about whether or not you can get the hard DC.
I don't know what you think playing 5e is like. Just because a high DC dropped into a low-level environment can encourage people to beat it doesn't mean that that's always what happens all the time in every 5e encounter ever.
 

Ashkelon

Villager
I dunno. I don't really feel awesome when I fail to hit a balor half the time, anymore than I felt awesome when I used to miss an orc or a giant half of the time.

To contrast, it does make me feel more awesome when I go from missing an ogre half the time (for 10% of its health) to hitting it 90% of the time (for half its health). Nothing shows progress quite like trivializing what used to be a challenge. When I'm facing a lock that is objectively Hard, and I remember when my chance of success was slim, and now I succeed on a 3 or better, that's awesome.
what is amusing about your example is that what you say you like is how it works in 4e, but not in 5e.

In 4e, your accuracy and damage both increase significantly as you level. In 5e they don't. So at level 1 you may hit an Ogre infrequently for a small portion of its HP, but by level 10 you are able to hit Ogres most of the time and deal a significant chunk of their HP.

In 5e, your attack bonus has increased maybe 2 or 3 points over those 10 levels and your damage per attack has increased by only a point or 2.
 
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Your generalization about all GMs does not hold except for extreme values of "in some way" which include totally unconscious effects. Some people instead choose to telegraph challenges and let the players face whatever difficulty they may. I deliberately don't even know the exact level and stats of my players' PCs at any given time. There are challenges in my game world which I would fully expect to eat them alive (if they go after Falgoth the ancient wyrm for example--right now they're scared stiff of his grandson the adult red). I'm pleased that my players have gotten good at knowing when to run away, even though I was kind of hoping to kill the barbarian last week when he went up against a Rakshasa solo. Through sheer luck he made his saving throw against Domination just before the Rakshasa would have made him crit himself to death. (I rolled both attacks at the same time so I know what the second roll was about to be.)

The challenges aren't designed to be "beatable" or "unbeatable." They're just there, and it's up to the players to beat them or avoid them until later.
Yes, I understand 'sandbox' play. Heck, I came up in an era when it was almost the only kind of play that was known. Still, even the sandbox is quite heavily patterned. The dungeon has levels, each one more difficult than the last and arranged so the characters enter at the easiest point. Likewise the town and the wilderness have their progression where the fields around the town aren't too tough, the forest is a bit tougher, the hills are filled with large numbers of orcs, and the mountains are just plain nasty.

The INTENTION of every game is for the PCs to progress from challenge to challenge in some orderly fashion such that they have some 'sporting chance' at each stage. Yes, you can have a very strict sandbox where the characters can be eaten by the elder wurm, maybe even purely by accident if you're mean enough.
 
Not true. When characters advance only a little in what they can do, pointing up the fact that they have advanced, at all, is helpful. Presenting tasks with some everyman measure of difficulty highlights that the PCs are, in fact, advancing, even if they players don't notice it much outside their hps totals and spell slots.
I think that what I feel is that 5e fundamentally doesn't challenge you to push the fiction. I'm really seeing this in my current game where nothing much really changes. Yeah, you may get better at X, but you keep just doing X! I mean you got better at X in 4e too, its just that the game encouraged the DM to throw X+1 at you, and etc.

The fiction in the 4e games seemed to evolve to a much higher degree. There was a real serious difference between levels where by the middle part of the game (paragon) you were thinking "wow, this is a whole different game, its almost a whole different game world!"

I like to explore. I like to see the products of unfettered imagination. I don't want to keep crawling around in the same dungeons, albeit on the 33rd level or whatever. I want to go visit Pandemonium and do something totally crazy.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
what is amusing about your example is that what you say you like is how it works in 4e, but not in 5e.
Yes, I am not entirely happy with 5E, and I could have been happier with something that used the math from 4E but was presented in a different way. As it stands, my best option for this kind of play would be to stick with Pathfinder :-/

Because even though 4E had all of the math set up for this to work out, it then went out of its way to tell you how to change the math to better fit the intentions of the system - in order to prevent me from ever hitting 90% of the time, like the math tells me I should, it would have you replace the level 4 elite with a level 16 minion (or whatever). And if I can't pin down what the actual, true, objective stats for an ogre even are, because they change relative to the level of the party, then I can't use it to model the reality of my game world.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
Many fiction writers like to DM.
So... you're agreeing with me? Not sure what your point is here. Kind of feels like you're just throwing a statement out there like a 'fun fact'.

DM getting final say is an expected courtesy with the group I play with. We learned that way back in the early days of the game. The way the players ensure the DM doesn't screw them is by not continuing to play with a DM that acts in an arbitrary manner. The DM having final say is good manners. Players that attempt to engage in rules debate during play are disruptive and disrespectful. My group does not care for that at all. I don't think most groups do.
See what you describe here, and later in the same post is very different to me than final say in imagination. Rules debates and steering the course of a session are two VERY different things and my comments apply the to latter not the former. Clearly someone needs to arbitrate, and that is typically the GM, and it is typically assumed and accepted by all at the table.

What makes you think fiction writing doesn't work exactly like this? If the audience doesn't enjoy your fiction, they don't read it. It's no different for a DM. A writer more than anyone else knows how to cater to his audience. He learns what his players like and what their characters are, he creates fiction tailored to make them shine.
Because when I write fiction, I don't turn to my fictional character and say "Bob, what's your action?"

Seriously though, it's completely different from planning for a campaign because I don't have control over what the main characters are going to do, unless I'm really into railroading. Writing to cater to your audience just means that your writing is influenced by predispositions established up front when you work on your novel, short story, whatever. Writing to cater to an audience doesn't mean "I'm going to shoot down Bob's plan because it breaks what I wanted to do." It doesn't even make sense to me to try to argue it.

The fiction you create for players is going to be incomplete. It's inevitable (unless you railroad) because they will always do something you can't predict. As a writer you have full control over every little detail and have the power to alter and adjust before publishing until it's exactly as you like it. You can refine your session plans a billion times and it just takes one PC decision of "let's go to the Woods of Doom instead" to set you off your rails.

I do roll with the punch. I'm so careful about crafting encounters that I don't miss my mark much at this point. If I do, it is usually some extreme luck or misfortune. If that happens, that is beyond my control. I allow it to happen. Let's be real here, lucky rolls are part of the game. They make the game extremely memorable at times. Nearly every player or group remembers that BBEG that rolled a 1 on his death save or was hammered for some crazy crit damage from a lucky series of rolls. What kind of DM would change such a memorable outcome. Certainly not me.

That does not change my view that the DM has final say on disputes, the imagination, or whatever you want to call it while the session is in play. Now after the session, let the debates begin. Then I will entertain discussion on a disagreement, so we can reach some kind of group compromise on how to handle the matter.
I think you're trimming my point a bit. Yeah sure a lucky die roll can put you in the situation of being "off track", but so can a simple decision, no dice involved. When it comes to rulings, adjudicating, etc. I get it. But "final say in imagination" is a whole different level than that.
 
what is amusing about your example is that what you say you like is how it works in 4e, but not in 5e.
Half right. Yes, in 4e, you do go from being barely able to touch a higher level monster, to being able to take it on when you come 'even' with it, to completely rolling over it as you're far above it in level.

But, you can do that in 5e, too. The mechanisms are just a little different. In 4e it was mostly about attack bonus and AC, the much-lower-level creature had no chance, but playing through murdering it would be boring. In 5e, it's mostly about hps. The much-lower level creatures will still sting you, but you'll at least kill it quickly. Of course, that's using all of 5e's features, but ignoring one of 4e's: secondary monster roles. What really happens in 4e when you're facing enemies you completely out-class is that the DM will stat them as minions - they'll sting you like in 5e, but won't fold quite as instantaneously, needing actual hits, rather than all be swept away by some low-level AE spell whether they save or not, so your DM can still squeeze an interesting fight out of them.

In 4e, your accuracy and damage both increase significantly as you level. In 5e they don't.
Not true. In 4e, it's mostly your accuracy, your damage edges up, yes, but it doesn't balloon. In 5e, yes, your accuracy improves little over many levels - but your damage advances by leaps and bounds, just via multiple attacks and higher level slots.

Also, given a good enough CON bonus, your hps advance about twice as fast in 5e as 4e.

In spite of Bounded Accuracy censoring 'numbers porn' in attack/AC/skills in 5e, you can still check out some big, throbbing numbers (I said NUmbers!!) when it comes to damage & hps.

In 5e, your attack bonus has increased maybe 2 or 3 points over those 10 levels and your damage per attack has increased by only a point or 2.
But, your number of attacks, for, say, a fighter, has gone from 1 at 1st to 3 at 11th, and your caster has gone from using 1st level slots to using 5th level ones that do far more damage.

I think that what I feel is that 5e fundamentally doesn't challenge you to push the fiction. I'm really seeing this in my current game where nothing much really changes. Yeah, you may get better at X, but you keep just doing X! I mean you got better at X in 4e too, its just that the game encouraged the DM to throw X+1 at you, and etc.
Maybe not the best way to put it, considering the 'Treadmill' criticism. ;)

The fiction in the 4e games seemed to evolve to a much higher degree. There was a real serious difference between levels where by the middle part of the game (paragon) you were thinking "wow, this is a whole different game, its almost a whole different game world!"
Yes, the big difference wasn't that shift - it happened in prior eds, too, it's that the system was still functional.

5e also tries, with Bounded Accuracy, to retain basic functionality at higher levels, but it does seem like it could make 'higher level' less distinct in concept - the flip side of the 4e treadmill making higher levels less distinct in terms of certain net numbers.

In 4e, that was mostly an illusion, though, and I suspect it might be true in 5e, as well. I'll see for sure, if I ever get around to running high level 5e.

I like to explore. I like to see the products of unfettered imagination. I don't want to keep crawling around in the same dungeons, albeit on the 33rd level or whatever. I want to go visit Pandemonium and do something totally crazy.
Ultimately, the DM can stat out Pandemonium or whatever if he likes - or wait for 5e Planescape, or adapt the existing stuff. When he does, he can make the challenges you face there tailored or status quo. The details of doing so well are different, but it's still possible.


Yes, I am not entirely happy with 5E, and I could have been happier with something that used the math from 4E but was presented in a different way.

Because even though 4E had all of the math set up for this to work out, it then went out of its way to tell you how to change the math to better fit the intentions of the system - in order to prevent me from ever hitting 90% of the time, like the math tells me I should, it would have you replace the level 4 elite with a level 16 minion (or whatever).
IDK, the Thief in my current campaign is hitting 90% of the time when she backstabs...

Seriously, though, the way the DM stats out a monster depends on the challenge he wants it to present. I've used some pretty under-leveled monsters when the PCs have, in fact, come back to the same area and faced some exact same old enemies, and it is a tad dramatic the difference, say, 4 or 5 levels make , and doesn't make for the kind of fights you'd want to do a lot of, but once in a while, to demonstrate character growth, it can be fun. I very much found the same was true in 3.x, BTW.

And if I can't pin down what the actual, true, objective stats for an ogre even are, because they change relative to the level of the party, then I can't use it to model the reality of my game world.
The way I look at re-casting a monster in a different secondary role at a much higher or lower level, is that it is 'reaching' or 'toying' respectively. When you take a standard monster of much higher level, and bring it down to a Solo of the same exp value (there's the consistent, 'objective' bit, btw), you give it action-preservation, and additional powers - that represents it 'toying' with party a bit, doing stunts in combat it wouldn't risk against more dangerous enemies, for example. Go the other way, say 'minionizing' a standard 10 levels lower than the party, and it represents sheer desperation - all out attacks, desperate dodging, and dying/cringing in helpless fear/capitulating/running at the first hit.

Same creature, different circumstances, different performance. When you think about it, there's some verisimilitude there that's lacking if it just pushes the same attack buttons regardless of who it's up against.
 
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The threshold is a DC that an 'everyman' can't hope to touch - like 21+, but which the skilled specialist can manage around that magic 60% or so. 5e's odd affection for 5-DC chunks makes 25 the obvious candidate, and +17 is (max stat, proficiency, & expertise at level 20), indeed, that threshold. Using 21, though (there's no reason you can't), it drops to +12. Expertise gets you there faster, and even non-expertise gets to +11 eventually.
Just as fighters progress primarily through extra attacks, not bonuses to hit, a skilled expert in 5E will have advantage from Enhance Ability and/or Lucky going for him as well. He may also be skilled at creating favorable situations. E.g. a twentieth level ranger can have +31 to his Stealth check from PWT + camouflage, and he can hide in dim light he gets another effective +5 for obscurement, and if he's Lucky he need never worry about getting spotted by anyone with a passive perception under 40, barring telepathy or other cheats. BTW, camouflage + Sharpshooter volley sounds like awesome fun which I am dying to try some day.

As a DM, if you want to create a situation that's easy for experts and hard for novices, do it just like combat: require multiple rolls and a resource pool. Lifting that 10,000 lb rock off the treasure chest? Make DC 30 Strength checks; every success raises it one inch, twelve inches required to get it off permanently, and a failure by 10 means you drop it, take d6 damage from strain, and start over. Get a +10 bonus with a good lever. The mighty barbarian will have that rock off shortly after he finds a lever; the Str 8 wizard will never manage it.
 
I think that what I feel is that 5e fundamentally doesn't challenge you to push the fiction. I'm really seeing this in my current game where nothing much really changes. Yeah, you may get better at X, but you keep just doing X! I mean you got better at X in 4e too, its just that the game encouraged the DM to throw X+1 at you, and etc.
Sounds like a DM or setting issue. My players have fought slaads, ridden allosaurs as cavalry on,a mission which turned out to be a lie, been killed by drow in the underdark, liberated mansions from oozes to help poor peasants, fought jackalweres outside haunted castles, domesticated wolves, failed to domesticate tricetatopses and ropers, run from purple worms, saved the kingdom, accidentally caused a vampirepocalypse which destroyed most of the kingdom, recruited settlers for their interplanetary colony of New Desdemoria, run away from a Rakshasa, boarded and nearly captured a neogi deathspider, and negotiated a treaty with the Elven Imperial Navy ending the Interdict on interstellar trade with their planet.

Play Spelljammer, it seriously rocks if you're into variety.
 

Nifft

Penguin Herder
Yes, I understand 'sandbox' play. Heck, I came up in an era when it was almost the only kind of play that was known. Still, even the sandbox is quite heavily patterned. The dungeon has levels, each one more difficult than the last and arranged so the characters enter at the easiest point. Likewise the town and the wilderness have their progression where the fields around the town aren't too tough, the forest is a bit tougher, the hills are filled with large numbers of orcs, and the mountains are just plain nasty.

The INTENTION of every game is for the PCs to progress from challenge to challenge in some orderly fashion such that they have some 'sporting chance' at each stage. Yes, you can have a very strict sandbox where the characters can be eaten by the elder wurm, maybe even purely by accident if you're mean enough.
IMHO the big limiting factor is the blindness to any result other than straight-up military victory or defeat.

When I run a sandbox, the party's first encounter with an Ogre will not result in a dead Ogre. It may result in a dead PC or two if the players don't even think about escaping from an ogrewhelming adversary.

Then later, they'll feel good about killing one.

Then later, they'll feel good about killing one each.

But there'll always be someone bigger, someone from whom running is wise.

Yeah, I do try to slant in some level-appropriate encounters -- but not every encounter will be level-appropriate, and those not-level-appropriate encounters are most optimally resolved in some way other than combat.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I think that what I feel is that 5e fundamentally doesn't challenge you to push the fiction. I'm really seeing this in my current game where nothing much really changes. Yeah, you may get better at X, but you keep just doing X! I mean you got better at X in 4e too, its just that the game encouraged the DM to throw X+1 at you, and etc.
That sounds like an issue between you and your DM. I mean, you could still head out to Pandemonium if you wanted to, but it's no longer a requirement that high-level characters need to leave their homeland in order to have their adventures. This edition supports the grounded type of adventurers that weren't really intended (or supported) by 4E - they just assumed that, once you got to high levels, you'd be doing fantastical things and ascending to godhood.

Which gets boring, when that's the baseline default. Just like magic items are boring, when they're assumed. Or casting a spell every round is boring, when everyone can do it.

That's why 5E is setting the baseline as low as possible, so anything that happens will feel special.
 
Wish I could give XP multiple times for this post. You, sir, have made sense of my limited 4E experience for me. I think it's still not to my taste, but if I'd gone in with expectations framed as you have done in your post I would have been a lot more relaxed about the things that I didn't enjoy.
You're welcome!
 

Ashkelon

Villager
Yes, I am not entirely happy with 5E, and I could have been happier with something that used the math from 4E but was presented in a different way. As it stands, my best option for this kind of play would be to stick with Pathfinder :-/

Because even though 4E had all of the math set up for this to work out, it then went out of its way to tell you how to change the math to better fit the intentions of the system - in order to prevent me from ever hitting 90% of the time, like the math tells me I should, it would have you replace the level 4 elite with a level 16 minion (or whatever). And if I can't pin down what the actual, true, objective stats for an ogre even are, because they change relative to the level of the party, then I can't use it to model the reality of my game world.
Fair enough. I honestly feel 4e would have been much better if it only went up to 20 levels and the math was half as fast (+1 total bonuses every 2 levels instead of +1 every level). That would have been a nice middle ground with the IMHO stagnant progression of 5e.
 
The only difference with 5E is they specifically tell you to hand-wave anything that isn't important. They don't want you to waste time rolling to accomplish something unimportant. They don't want you to roll every round for some skill. They don't want you wasting time with DC checks for no reason. That is the only difference in 5E.

Whereas 3E gave a roll for anything from the door to the farmer's house to the castle gates, 5E does not bother. I'm not sure what 4E did. I know that 5E tells the DM to hand-wave unimportant rolls and only use the DC system for things you want to make interesting.
In this particular respect 5e is simply following 4e's lead, although the actual mechanics of implementation are a bit different: 4e uses a combination of "say yes or roll the dice" plus wider DC spreads connected to the sort of sprawling fiction that [MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] has posted about; 5e uses more narrow, arguably "objective" DC spreads, in combination with "say yes or roll the dice".

The result is that, in 4e, quite a bit of the "saying yes" will be in relation to game world elements for which no DC exists for PCs of that particular level; whereas in 5e some of those game world elements do have DCs, but for pacing reasons we don't both to engage them. This makes 5e a bit more like Burning Wheel in this particular respect, I think.
 
I think the difference is 'badassness' in 4e didn't come from easily passing DCs. The math was largely irrelevant to that. It came from the DM building more and more amazing fiction around the DCs, and from everything else. You might hit a Balor about the same way you'd hit an Orc at the appropriate levels, but FIGHTING a Balor is WAY different. It has an aura, resistances, and powers that have a number of varied effects. The PCs at that level also can do things like get really screwed up by a bunch of effects and then just shake them all off, or fall dead and stand right up again, etc. Even at Paragon you find that your characters really are a LOT more potent in absolute narrative terms than they are at lower levels.

So what I found was that the mechanics 'fall away'. The game becomes highly narratively focused, or at least focused on what the PCs want to DO, and not really on numbers.
Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to convey upthread (post 841). Progression in 4e is not about bigger bonuses, but about a combination of mechanical minutiae (the balrog's aura, etc) and the fiction that accompanies and is generated by that.

I think that what I feel is that 5e fundamentally doesn't challenge you to push the fiction.

<snip>

The fiction in the 4e games seemed to evolve to a much higher degree. There was a real serious difference between levels where by the middle part of the game (paragon) you were thinking "wow, this is a whole different game, its almost a whole different game world!"
I don't see how creating amazing fiction around mechanics is a component of the particular game (especially a game where the fiction is called out as being mutable)... Any good DM can do this with nearly any game
I think the game's mechanics make a huge difference.

I mentioned upthread that every Rolemaster table has a tale of how a double-open-ended roll saved the party's bacon. One that I remember is when the PCs were all down but for one, the martial artist, who was at huge penalties (-70-ish?) inside a fire storm confronting the largely uninjured bad guy. The martial artist's initiative comes up, the player rolls, double-open-ended and so overcomes his penalties and hits the bad guy for an 'E' crit, and then rolls 80+ on the crit: the bad guy is dead, and the PCs saved!

This is a fiction that can't be achieved in any version of D&D, because they don't have the death spiral penalties, nor the crit-rather-than-hit-point mechanics, to make it possible. Part of the appeal of Rolemaster (and similar games - Burning Wheel has some commonalities here, and HARP is a deliberate RM derivative) is that this sort of thing is possible.

The fiction of 4e combat, and especially paragon an epic combat, is something that I think is intimately tied to its mechanics, and hard to emulate in other systems. Especially the sense of digging deep, deep and drawing on everything you've got. The way player resources are allocated and their use rationed is a huge part of this, for instance.

Playing AD&D, for instance, when the fighter player rolls a 19 and hits and kills the Type VI demon the GM can narrate that the fighter drew deep on his/her reserves and won: but the player won't have actually lived that experience. Whereas a 4e player who is invested in the resource management elements of the game will have.

So I can see where AbdulAlhazred is coming from. This also, to me at least, seems to fit with what [MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] has posted upthread about the affinity between 5e and classic adventures like Hommlet, Barrier Peaks, etc, which I feel don't push the fiction in the sort of way that paragon and epic 4e does.

That's just added complexity. If the end result is that I'm still going to win with about the same amount of damage, the added complexity is largely meaningless. It's extra fiddly hoops to jump through. Oh it has an aura, well look at all my energy resistance and extra hps. Oh it has resistances, look at my sneak attack damage and my pryomancy feat that lets me ignore that. Oh it has a lot of varied effects that all have the ultimate result of about the same thing that a brute of that same level and monster rank would have in a simpler, more straightforward format.

It's all a wash.

<snip>

It's being a fragile little princess snowflake, and resisting the dramatic and the unexpected.
I have some trouble following this.

I mean, if you strip all the fiction off the mechanics, yes, they are nothing more than minutiae. But that seems equally true of 5e. I mean, how is "Roll with your +3 bonus; you need a total of 12 to succeed" turning into "Roll with your +9 bonus; you need a total of 12 to succeed" some dramatic experience, if no fiction is attached?

But when you attach the fiction, and hence give the mechanical events some sort of emotional weight in the context of the game, then the extra complexity of 4e isn't meaningless - the wizard is flying through the air to escape the fire aura of a balrog! As opposed to, at low levels, falling back a few feet to escape the scimitar of an orc.

As for the unexpected - a roll of 100 on d% is (relatively) unexpected. That's the lottery that RM's open-ended mechanics trade on. But there are other sorts of things that can be unexpected to, like the mechanical synergies that result from deploying complex mechanical resources, and the fiction that accompanies them.

4e is not very lottery-focused, but that doesn't mean that unexpectedness is not an important part of the game!

I don't really feel awesome when I fail to hit a balor half the time, anymore than I felt awesome when I used to miss an orc or a giant half of the time.

To contrast, it does make me feel more awesome when I go from missing an ogre half the time (for 10% of its health) to hitting it 90% of the time (for half its health). Nothing shows progress quite like trivializing what used to be a challenge. When I'm facing a lock that is objectively Hard, and I remember when my chance of success was slim, and now I succeed on a 3 or better, that's awesome.
It's a tautology that, if I roll a d20 and add +3 hoping to reach 20 I will succeed only 20% of the time, and that if I roll a d20 and add +17 hoping to reach 20 I will succeed 90% of the time. That mathematical truth is not, on its own, awesome (in my view). It is only the connection of the maths to some sort of fiction that makes it awesome in the RPGing context.

At around 3rd level, the PCs in my game fought hobgoblins one-on-one. Ten levels later, they fought hobgoblins in phalanxes (statted as huge and gargantuan swarms). That's also mechanics connected to fiction.

I personally feel it's illustrative of the point about expanding scope of fiction that AdbulAlhazred pointed to. I think that's more of an innate tendency in 4e than 5e.

A DM's imagination trumps everyone else's because he's running the game and putting the most work in designing the adventure.

<snip>

So many players don't seem to get how thankless a job DMing is. How the sole pleasure of doing it is the creative process of building a story or encounters.

<snip>

What motivation is there for a person to commit to running the game if not the creativity of it?
I enjoy GMing, but don't think my imagination trumps that of the players. For me, part of the fun of GMing is finding out how the players riff off the fictional and mechanical situations that I frame their PCs into.

A fairly recent example was when the PCs exploited the principle of thermodynamics to seal off the Abyss.

I haven't read many posts that give me a sense of how that sort of thing would work in 5e. In 4e, it relies on a mixture of the DC-setting rules, the relatively abstract architecture of the power mechanics and their somewhat loose fit with the fiction, and the thematic flavour/colour that comes from PC build choices (especially paragon paths and epic destinies).

5e has different DC rules (as we've been discussing), its spells are a bit more traditional (tight packages of fiction and mechanics) and it has, perhaps, a bit less theme/colour in its approach to PC build (most of that is front-loaded via backgrounds).

Any thoughts would be welcome!
 
I dunno. I don't really feel awesome when I fail to hit a balor half the time, anymore than I felt awesome when I used to miss an orc or a giant half of the time.

To contrast, it does make me feel more awesome when I go from missing an ogre half the time (for 10% of its health) to hitting it 90% of the time (for half its health). Nothing shows progress quite like trivializing what used to be a challenge. When I'm facing a lock that is objectively Hard, and I remember when my chance of success was slim, and now I succeed on a 3 or better, that's awesome.
I don't understand how this is a relevant comparison. In 4e if you were say level 4 you could just about take on an Ogre, barely. A really tough encounter might be a couple of ogres, or an ogre and a couple orcs, etc. When you reach 9th level the same exact ogre will now be hit pretty easily, but it will still be a relevant foe, maybe 5 of them will make you sit up and do your thing. When you're 15th level an ogre will be hit on a 4 or so, it won't hit you so much, its damage will be just slightly annoying, and its hit points will be slim enough that your strikers should one-shot it with an encounter power. At 20th level said ogre will be an auto-hit.

That's progress, and its real, and it exists in 4e. You can put it in a pipe and smoke it, it works. If you now say "but why would I have a level 9 ogre in a level 15 adventure?" That's the same question you could ask in 5e! Its there to showcase your progress pretty much. Now, in 5e maybe it can also act as a 'minion'. OK, though I think the actual 4e minion rules are a bit more convenient, and you could make an ogre into a level 15 minion if you want (same XP value).
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
It's a tautology that, if I roll a d20 and add +3 hoping to reach 20 I will succeed only 20% of the time, and that if I roll a d20 and add +17 hoping to reach 20 I will succeed 90% of the time. That mathematical truth is not, on its own, awesome (in my view). It is only the connection of the maths to some sort of fiction that makes it awesome in the RPGing context.
Of course! I take it as a given that these numbers mean something because of what they represent. The traditional view of an RPG is that all numbers mean something. If I have +17 to my attack roll or lockpicking, then that's way better than having +3, because those numbers carry inherent meaning.

At around 3rd level, the PCs in my game fought hobgoblins one-on-one. Ten levels later, they fought hobgoblins in phalanxes (statted as huge and gargantuan swarms). That's also mechanics connected to fiction.
But how would they have fared, if your party of level 13 adventurers fought the same dozens (or hundreds) of hobgoblins, statted as they were in the first encounters? The hobgoblins would likely miss 90% of their attacks, but they would be (effectively) immune to single-target crowd control, and they might win through sheer overwhelming numbers. (Maybe. I don't have an intuitive grasp of how HP and damage scaled in 4E, except in that it was virtually impossible to bring down a non-minion in a single hit.)

And that's a problem. When you have two different ways that you can represent the same entity, then the mechanics are no longer inextricably tied to the fiction. Instead, the mechanics are tied to your choice of how to interpret that fiction. And the outcome of any encounter is highly dependent upon that choice. At that point, I honestly have no idea how to proceed, whether I'm a player or the DM.
 
That's just added complexity. If the end result is that I'm still going to win with about the same amount of damage, the added complexity is largely meaningless. It's extra fiddly hoops to jump through. Oh it has an aura, well look at all my energy resistance and extra hps. Oh it has resistances, look at my sneak attack damage and my pryomancy feat that lets me ignore that. Oh it has a lot of varied effects that all have the ultimate result of about the same thing that a brute of that same level and monster rank would have in a simpler, more straightforward format.

It's all a wash. It's a little like those high-level old school modules that were like "uhhh, you can't teleport and divination doesn't work here because uhhhh....it's magic, shut up." Only it's more complicated. The output is the same: the game wants to render these things mostly irrelevant to cleave to the strict balance that it desperately wants. It's being a fragile little princess snowflake, and resisting the dramatic and the unexpected.
Oh, good grief! You can do better than that.

Its not a 'wash', its a genuine change in the narrative fiction. If this is 'a wash' then it was just as much a wash when you did it in 1e or in 5e because in every edition all that happens is you get some bigger numbers and slightly different powers. That's how the game works! 4e just wasn't shy about it.

See, this is a problem for me - mechanics shouldn't fall away. They should support what you're doing. If the mechanics fall away, then screw the mechanics, why don't I just tell this story without these weird dice?
I think you know what I mean. The mechanics ARE there supporting you, they're just not dictating how the game has to develop. There are many different fictions which the same basic mechanics support.

I class this sort of thing in the same category as the old "all 4e characters are the same, they're all wizards" nonsense. It betrays an inability or unwillingness to engage with the qualitative differences in the fiction between, in this case, high and low levels. There really are quite different elements that come into play.
 
A fairly recent example was when the PCs exploited the principle of thermodynamics to seal off the Abyss.

I haven't read many posts that give me a sense of how that sort of thing would work in 5e...

Any thoughts would be welcome!
My response would be to hit him with a physics textbook and tell him to come back when he understand the concepts and not just the jargon.

It's not an edition difference, it's about tolerance for technobabble. Like Star Trek letting ships shoot their way out of a black hole with phasers: won't happen in any physics I run, in any system.

An equivalent plan would be demagnetizing the Earth's core in order to destroy north and south as distinct directions, thus collapsing Earth into a rotating disc. It only works if you confuse "no arrow of time" and "no passage of time."
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
In 4e if you were say level 4 you could just about take on an Ogre, barely. A really tough encounter might be a couple of ogres, or an ogre and a couple orcs, etc. When you reach 9th level the same exact ogre will now be hit pretty easily, but it will still be a relevant foe, maybe 5 of them will make you sit up and do your thing. When you're 15th level an ogre will be hit on a 4 or so, it won't hit you so much, its damage will be just slightly annoying, and its hit points will be slim enough that your strikers should one-shot it with an encounter power. At 20th level said ogre will be an auto-hit.
And if that's how 4E was presented, and actually played, then I would have significantly fewer problems with it. Really, I only ever had three or four issues (and only one or two dealbreakers) when it came to 4E, but the guarantee that there must be exactly one mechanical representation of any fictional element was right at the top of the list.

If you got rid of monsters that changed stats depending on your level, and the different math for PCs and NPCs - I don't mind if NPCs are simpler, as long as they have the same HP and bonuses - then I would consider the game almost playable.
 
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