D&D General Why Editions Don't Matter

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
When I think of player authored quests I think of the example I often give. I'm telling the DM that my fighter is going to travel to the northern wastes to unite the barbarian tribes under my banner and raise a new kingdom. It gives him a clear, possibly achievable goal for him to flesh out. I don't normally view treasure as part of it, but it could be if the quest was to track down the location of and acquire a rod of lordly might or some other powerful item or artifact.
I had to go look it up. Here is the 4E PHB page 258:

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Its difficult to know exactly if this was the right call on Position and Effect, but it could easily be.

So lets take a look at Position, Effect, Consequences, and Resistance.

POSITION
So I appreciate you taking the time to write all that. I'm going to reply briefly due to limited time.

For the immediate context, I chose risky because the other players were already engaged with the gang and he was shooting a gun into the mix. If they hadn't already been engaged, I would have chosen controlled.

Effect seemed fairly straightforward - standard.

CONSEQUENCES

So, like you've mentioned above, there is always going to be a diverse menu of consequences. The flow chart for evaluating consequences and winnowing them down to your ultimate choice is basically like this:

* Don’t make the PCs look incompetent.
So I was struggling to pick the best consequence. I asked the player if he had any good ideas and he suggested dropping the gun off the roof. So I went with it.

* Follow through with the Consequences you've already telegraphed (Telegraph Trouble and Tell them the Consequences and Ask <if they want to follow through> before the Action Roll is made...maybe they want to revise their course of action).
My understanding has been that consequences don't even come up until the player rolls. Have I been doing that wrong?


* Don't negate a PCs success with your Consequence (you can throttle it back just like they can do with your Consequences via Resistance, but don't negate).
This doesn't make sense to me. If the goal was to take out an enemy then not taking him out would always seem to be 'negating' that consequence.

* Set and Tick a Clock. Think both on-screen (intra-Score) and offscreen (Setting/Faction Clock outside of the Score). Is that the best and most interesting play here?
I had set a clock for reinforcement! Almost on queue the clock was filled as the last enemy was dispatched.

* Use more than one Consequence where you can (especially Desperate Position; eg a Controlled Consequence + Risky Consequence = Desperate). It changes the situation more dynamically, creates more interesting decision-points for players, and gives them the opportunity to outright mitigate a Controlled Consequence to nothing.
To me this notion of picking the consequence or picking more than 1 consequence feels nearly identical to what I do in D&D 5e all the time.

The first few sessions i typically only did one consequence. This one was the first I'd started sometimes doing 2. Most often filling the clock + something direct to the players.

Here are my thoughts on what I might have done given a particular set of parameters/fiction:

* IF it was Risky.

* IF it was a one-story building.

* IF this is on their Turf.

* IF the gang has sufficient scale to support reinforcements/more personnel (due to their Tier).

* IF this gang is Billihooks (dogs and thugs).

* THEN, I'm probably saying the following:

GM: "From your position you can hear "sniper on the roof(!)", followed by the sound of the doors to their vice den double doors opening and shutting dramatically. "I got 'em! Sick 'em boy!" The sound of a ravenous barking dog bolting up the iron-wrought stairs to your position on the roof (Its going to be an Expert Thug). Its going to be on top of you QUICK. No time for reload before it gets up here. (If you can somehow Resist this, then its just a Thug Dog and not an Expert...they didn't have time to deploy their meanest canine so they grabbed what was on-hand)."

They have a moment to act, the long gun isn't going to do much for them here, and their facing down a dangerous Thug (if they're a "long gunner", it may be that melee Action Dots aren't their forte). Maybe they flash back to trap the steps. Maybe they flashback and load out a zip line that they set up and they're going to slide down it all the way to the alley across the street while they reload the long gun. Maybe they pull out a melee weapon and go to work against this dog. Maybe they can somehow befriend it. Maybe their a Hound and their ghost-dog-friend will handle this dangerous mutt while they reload and continue raining hell down upon the bad guys.

Who knows.
In my game the initial action was that, the player used one of his abilities to essentially become ghost like momentarily and used that to fly up to the 'sniper'. The player typically used a cleaver as his weapon of choice. He rolled badly a few times before the sniper was taken out. That's the moment he picked up the rifle and used it.

Dogs would have been a great inclusion IMO.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Maxperson

Here is the text from the 4e rulebooks that I am referring to, discussing player-authored quests:

PHB p 258:

Most adventures have a goal, something you have to do to complete the adventure successfully. The goal might be a personal one, a cause shared by you and your allies, or a task you have been hired to perform. A goal in an adventure is called a quest. . . .

You can also, with your DM’s approval, create a quest for your character. Such a quest can tie into your character’s background. For instance, perhaps your mother is the person whose remains lie in the Fortress of the Iron Ring. Quests can also relate to individual goals, such as a ranger searching for a magic bow to wield. Individual quests give you a stake in a campaign’s unfolding story and give your DM ingredients to help develop that story.

DMG pp 102-3:
Quests are the fundamental story framework of an adventure—the reason the characters want to participate in it. They’re the reason an adventure exists, and they indicate what the characters need to do to solve the situation the adventure presents. . . .

You should allow and even encourage players to come up with their own quests that are tied to their individual goals or specific circumstances in the adventure. Evaluate the proposed quest and assign it a level. Remember to say yes as often as possible!​

This isn't ambiguous or confusing. It is talking about a player authoring a quest, that is, the goal and circumstances that provide the fundamental story framework of an adventure.

So they decide the treasure, the monsters, the map layouts, everything?
Treasures in 4e D&D are set by treasure parcels. These include magic items. DMG, p 125, says the following on this topic:

The trickiest part of awarding treasure is determining what magic items to give out. Tailor these items to your party of characters. Remember that these are supposed to be items that excite the characters, items they want to use rather than sell or disenchant. If none
of the characters in your 6th-level party uses a longbow, don’t put a 10th-level longbow in your dungeon as treasure.

A great way to make sure you give players magic items they’ll be excited about is to ask them for wish lists. At the start of each level, have each player write down a list of three to five items that they are intrigued by that are no more than four levels above their own level. You can choose treasure from those lists (making sure to place an item from a different character’s list each time), crossing the items off as the characters find them. If characters don’t find things on their lists, they can purchase or enchant them when they reach sufficient level.​

Monsters and map layouts are encounter elements. As per my post that you quoted (ie post 663), in 4e D&D the GM establishes encounters. The relationship between encounters, and a quest, is explained in the DMG p 103:

Quests should focus on the story reasons for adventuring, not on the underlying basic actions of the game - killing monsters and acquiring treasure. “Defeat ten encounters of your level” isn’t a quest. It’s a recipe for advancing a level. Completing it is its own reward. “Make Harrows Pass safe for travelers” is a quest, even if the easiest way to accomplish it happens to be defeating ten encounters of the characters’ level. This quest is a story-based goal, and one that has at least the possibility of solution by other means.​

So if a player authors a quest, it is the GM's job to establish a series of encounters that fit within the framework authored by the player, and will permit the realisation of the player-authored goal. As I said in post 663 upthread, this is an example of a D&D rule that pertains to goal or motivation, whereby the player creates an overarching framework for the GM to establish encounters.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My understanding has been that consequences don't even come up until the player rolls. Have I been doing that wrong?

Technically no. Telling them the consequences is a possible GM action (BitD, pgs 188-192).

Mind you, it is often a good idea to do so, because it makes sure you and the player are on the same page before a risk is taken.

This doesn't make sense to me. If the goal was to take out an enemy then not taking him out would always seem to be 'negating' that consequence.

Reduced effectiveness is a valid consequence. "You whack the guard on the back of the head, and they are unconscious... but they might wake back up soon."
 

So I appreciate you taking the time to write all that. I'm going to reply briefly due to limited time.

For the immediate context, I chose risky because the other players were already engaged with the gang and he was shooting a gun into the mix. If they hadn't already been engaged, I would have chosen controlled.


Effect seemed fairly straightforward - standard.


So I was struggling to pick the best consequence. I asked the player if he had any good ideas and he suggested dropping the gun off the roof. So I went with it.


My understanding has been that consequences don't even come up until the player rolls. Have I been doing that wrong?



This doesn't make sense to me. If the goal was to take out an enemy then not taking him out would always seem to be 'negating' that consequence.


I had set a clock for reinforcement! Almost on queue the clock was filled as the last enemy was dispatched.


To me this notion of picking the consequence or picking more than 1 consequence feels nearly identical to what I do in D&D 5e all the time.

The first few sessions i typically only did one consequence. This one was the first I'd started sometimes doing 2. Most often filling the clock + something direct to the players.


In my game the initial action was that, the player used one of his abilities to essentially become ghost like momentarily and used that to fly up to the 'sniper'. The player typically used a cleaver as his weapon of choice. He rolled badly a few times before the sniper was taken out. That's the moment he picked up the rifle and used it.

Dogs would have been a great inclusion IMO.

You're welcome! Thanks for posting your excerpt!

Not going to pick these out and respond in-line (I hate that format). Just going to create headers for each of these.

* ON INCOMPETENCE

So this is going to depend upon the table to a degree (based on genre tropes), but I definitely feel like there is an objective baseline. These are highly competent scoundrels (even a PC with a 0 rating in an Action) so they should look it in the fiction; no buffoonery or bumbling fools. You rarely hear of even Weekend Warriors in our world suffering a calamitous fumble of a weapon due to recoil, let alone highly trained professionals with a lot of experience in the field.

So I would wonder if your buddy that tossed out the Consequence (and therefore must be in fundamental agreement with the Consequence) was aware of this aspect of the system. Have they read through the book in full? I would put out the relevant parts here (its spelled out in GM Bad Habits 197-198 but there are other elements of this throughout the book). I would encourage your players to read Player Best Practices and understand the mechanics of the game intimately at a bare minimum. They should be helping you a fair bit and if they don't know the system very well it will make your job more difficult.

* ON TELEGRAPHING CONSEQUENCES

Its not wrong to sometimes not telegraph consequences because they're so implicit there need not be a decision-point aiding telegraph for the players, but in the significant majority of prospective actions try to get in the habit of telegraphing/having a conversation around consequences (GM Actions - Telegraph Trouble Before it Sttrikes, Ask Leading Questions, Tell Them The Consequences and Ask) which will help inform the player's decision-space. Do they still want to make this move? Do they want to try another approach for a different Consequence? Do they want to negotiate Effect for Position or vice versa? If they commit to an action and get that Consequence, what would throttling it back look like with Resistance?

Its not just important for compelling decision-point handling, but it also goes back to incompetence. Highly competent scoundrels should have very good working mental models for what prospective outcomes might be for something they commit themselves to. Put a suite of obstacles in front of a professional Free-Runner and they're going to know with a high degree of accuracy what their engagement with that obstacle array will look like. Same goes for a BJJ Black Belt engaging physically with virtually every aggressor. Same goes for a sniper in an overwatch position in a target-rich-environment. Fantasy genre fiction should at least look like that.

* ON EFFECT-GATED GOALS, REDUCED EFFECT, AND ACTION NEGATION

So there are some considerations here:

1) Your goal is to Break Baszo's Guard or cross the courtyard unseen (which you need Great Effect for due to Scale - its a typically large courtyard) or whatever. There are going to be cases where your goal can't be met by one Action Roll because you can't produce the Effect to get there. You need a Clock to resolve the situation or you can't get Great Effect because you're at Desperate (there isn't much cover/concealment and there are sentries posted) : Limited and you can't trade Position for Effect and you can't Push for Effect because you don't have the Stress and/or your ally isn't capable of/willing to make a Setup move for +Effect. The base reality is that your ability to accomplish things in Blades are "Effect/Clock Tick-gated." Its not a success negated when your goal is to Break Baszo's Guard or cross the long haul unseen but you can't muster the requisite Effect to resolve the Clock or cross the courtyard unseen in one go. Just like in any other game, sometimes a task is complex/linked and multiple moves will have to be made to resolve the obstacle (just like D&D combat and HP don't negate the goal "I want to defeat my enemy" after you've rolled a successful attack roll...or a Minion who has an Encounter Power to survive one hit - a "2-hit minion" or erect a Shield Spell for a huge armor bonus doesn't negate your goal...its just the way the mechanics work and how they produce fiction).

The other thing to consider here is the game doesn't want you to "Say No." Its better to start with "No Effect" on particularly spectacular action declarations and let players see how much +Effect they can muster and how much that Effect will be able to move the fiction forward positively toward their ultimate goal. The reality is, there is virtually no chance they're going to resolve the entirety of a "No Effect" gated obstacle in one action declaration. It will almost surely take multiple actions. But just because their goal is to "cast out the Magnitude 5 Demon from her friend" and you can't muster even close to the necessary Effect to resolve the possession in one Action Roll doesn't mean that a 6 result (or even a Crit if that isn't sufficient to resolve the 6 Tick Racing Clocks of "Exorcise" vs "Soulsteal") to get the Demon to relinquish its grasp on your friend = "success negated."

2) Reduced Effect is the other side of the Coin of Resistance. The players can throttle back Consequences and same goes for your obstacles (they can throttle back Action Roll Effect). If you're in a sword duel with Baszo and there is an active Tug of War 8 Clock to "Break Baszo's Guard" (after which, you can deal a mortal blow to him, but as long as he has any Guard, he can't be killed), I can throttle back your Great Effect for 3 Ticks forward just like you can throttle back my Desperate Consequence for 3 Ticks back. Same goes with any other fiction in the game.

3) There are both fiction concerns and meta concerns involved. Effectively what "don't negate an action" via Reduced Effect is saying is "don't take away the upperhand that has been gained AND the fiction should move forward positively in the direction of the goal evinced by the player." So take D&D. HP ablation moves enemies closer to defeat. Even if an enemy doesn't lose HP but they've used up a Shield Spell to prevent that damage, that is still "moving the enemy closer to defeat" in the meta.

Negating an action in TTRPG parlance is basically talking about the classic "block" that happens in metaplot-associated games (you can't kill this NPC - they will escape this conflict no matter what) or when GMs assume a Rock-Paper-Scissors arms race with spellcasters to keep their crazy power in check; eg "oh you're going to teleport up to the mountaintop lair...nope...the enemy has antimagic fields of course!").

4) Reduced Effect needs to be handled with care. Its very easy to resolve in a Clock scenario, but there needs to be more conscientiousness and finesse elsewhere. You need to know the macro goal of what is being attempted and complicate that in an interesting way that (a) affords clear movement toward that goal being met but (b) keeps things in the balance in an interesting way. If you don't accomplish both (a) and (b) to the satisfaction of the table (including yourself), then you need to walk it back and revise or go with another complication. Sometimes its easier just to go with something else if you're struggling to satisfy both (a) and (b).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
* ON INCOMPETENCE

So this is going to depend upon the table to a degree (based on genre tropes), but I definitely feel like there is an objective baseline. These are highly competent scoundrels (even a PC with a 0 rating in an Action) so they should look it in the fiction; no buffoonery or bumbling fools. You rarely hear of even Weekend Warriors in our world suffering a calamitous fumble of a weapon due to recoil, let alone highly trained professionals with a lot of experience in the field.

So I would wonder if your buddy that tossed out the Consequence (and therefore must be in fundamental agreement with the Consequence) was aware of this aspect of the system. Have they read through the book in full? I would put out the relevant parts here (its spelled out in GM Bad Habits 197-198 but there are other elements of this throughout the book). I would encourage your players to read Player Best Practices and understand the mechanics of the game intimately at a bare minimum. They should be helping you a fair bit and if they don't know the system very well it will make your job more difficult.

As a side comment, this is often something that would help for people to think about when viewing failures and fumbles in any system; such things don't have to be a sign of flaws in the acting individual's execution; sometimes its either entirely a consequence of outside situations they have little or no control over but are the kinds of things almost any complex situation can produce.

I've used this as an example of a potential fumble for some time: years ago, I used to do some foil fencing. On one occasion either I or my opponent (or possibly both, its been literally decades at this point) attempted a lunge that failed to land a legal hit, and both of us immediately attempted a withdrawal--and the back end of the bells (the "guard") on our foils made contact as we were both withdrawing. Apparently the nut holding the "blade" (which is essentially just a long piece of kind of thick wire) into the structure was either weak or loose, and came flying off, allowing the bell to be pulled loose from the grip and take the blade with it, so I was essentially standing there with the grip in my hand while the bell flew off one way and the blade and bell another. My opponent immediately responded by following up with several legal strikes to me torso (which didn't really count because of the equipment failure, but you don't tend to think about such things in the middle of process). I believe after about the third one (it took that long because I paused a moment to stare at the grip in my hand) I rather dryly said "Yes, I believe I'm quite dead thank you."

This was a relatively minor error caused by overcommittment to the lunge on one or both of us compounded by an unforseeable equipment problem. It strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that can be used as a fumble consequences without implying incompetence on anyone's part.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I know the original post seems like the distant past for this thread but I finally watched it and have some thoughts.

I mostly agree with the video.

I've run 1e adventures in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

I've run PF1 adventures in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

I've one 2e adventure (an edition I never played) in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

There are minor tweaks here and there that you need to do, but none of those tweaks is super meaningful to the game experience. The systems are all flexible enough that the system they were built on has a lot less meaning to the play experience, at least based on our results.

The only edition where I looked at an adventure and decided it would take longer to tweak it to fit a 5e game was a 4e adventure. And that's because the premise of encounters in 4e was meaningfully different enough from 5e assumptions that I would need to take more time to tweak that. Not a LOT more time though, just enough that I didn't want to try it on the fly. Maybe I could. But my first blush reaction was I'd want to spent a tad more time prepping that to try it. I still hope to do that some day (it was Madness at Gardmore Abbey, a good adventure). Though there is a conversion doc online to convert it to 5e I need to check out.
 
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I know the original post seems like the distant past for this thread but I finally watched it and have some thoughts.

I mostly agree with the video.

I've run 1e adventures in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

I've run PF1 adventures in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

I've one 2e adventure (an edition I never played) in 5e without meaningful prep, just converting them on the fly, without players noticing.

There are minor tweaks here and there that you need to do, but none of those tweaks is super meaningful to the game experience. The systems are all flexible enough that the system they were built on has a lot less meaning to the play experience, at least based on our results.

The only edition where I looked at an adventure and decided it would take longer to tweak it to fit a 5e game was a 4e adventure. And that's because the premise of encounters in 4e was meaningfully different enough from 5e assumptions that I would need to take more time to tweak that. Not a LOT more time though, just enough that I didn't want to try it on the fly. Maybe I could. But my first blush reaction was I'd want to spent a tad more time prepping that to try it. I still hope to do that some day (it was Madness at Gardmore Abbey, a good adventure). Though there is a conversion doc online to convert it to 5e I need to check out.
Does this mean edition doesn't matter? Or does it mean that adventures don't matter? Or maybe that for some people, conversion-on-the-fly is a perfectly functional thing for any system they're passably comfortable with, and for other people it's really, really not. (I'd consider myself in the latter camp. Converting a PF module to 4e, or a 1e module to 5e, or stuff like that--all sounds nightmarish to my ears.)

I just don't think "this means edition is completely irrelevant most of the time" is the correct conclusion to draw from "Mistwell is very good at adapting adventures across editions on the fly."
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I just don't think "this means edition is completely irrelevant most of the time" is the correct conclusion to draw from "Mistwell is very good at adapting adventures across editions on the fly."
IMO. Almost nothing when put in such absolute terms is ever true.

IMO. Whether editions matter at all isn’t a very good question. The better question is - how much do editions matter. And with that @Mistwell’s response is in line with many here. Editions matter much less than other factors.
 

IMO. Almost nothing when put in such absolute terms is ever true.

IMO. Whether editions matter at all isn’t a very good question. The better question is - how much do editions matter. And with that @Mistwell’s response is in line with many here. Editions matter much less than other factors.
What other factors are those? Genuine question.

Because stuff like martial/caster balance, IMO, makes edition matter a whole heck of a lot. Some editions are great for it, if you buy into their premises and actually use their rules as intended (ironically, 4e is more Old School in that sense than 3e was.) Others, like 3e, are absolute rotten garbage--to the point that even Paizo's own designers eventually admitted, "We cannot solve this problem without rewriting the game. Will you stick with us long enough to let us try?" Editions of D&D intentionally have a great deal of thematic symmetry, but often break on mechanical symmetry--and it is the mechanics that matter most when one is comparing editions IMO.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
IMO. Almost nothing when put in such absolute terms is ever true.

IMO. Whether editions matter at all isn’t a very good question. The better question is - how much do editions matter. And with that @Mistwell’s response is in line with many here. Editions matter much less than other factors.
But again, @Mistwell was posting in the context of adventures. There are others aspects of the game where edition matters much more.
 

Oofta

Legend
IMO. Almost nothing when put in such absolute terms is ever true.

IMO. Whether editions matter at all isn’t a very good question. The better question is - how much do editions matter. And with that @Mistwell’s response is in line with many here. Editions matter much less than other factors.
The campaigns that I run now don't feel all that different to me. There has been shifting focus for published mods and general fluff text and advice. But it's always been up to make the game their own.

The mechanical bits and details change, sitting around with friends rolling dice while making puns in bad accents have not.
 


Imaro

Legend
What other factors are those? Genuine question.

Because stuff like martial/caster balance, IMO, makes edition matter a whole heck of a lot. Some editions are great for it, if you buy into their premises and actually use their rules as intended (ironically, 4e is more Old School in that sense than 3e was.) Others, like 3e, are absolute rotten garbage--to the point that even Paizo's own designers eventually admitted, "We cannot solve this problem without rewriting the game. Will you stick with us long enough to let us try?" Editions of D&D intentionally have a great deal of thematic symmetry, but often break on mechanical symmetry--and it is the mechanics that matter most when one is comparing editions IMO.
Do you think the vast majority of gamers are actually concerned with this to the level that it impacts their enjoyment? Serious question.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
IMO. If one can run an adventure from much older edition with only slight modification then that’s evidence that edition doesn’t matter much.

Eh. I can run adventures from entirely different game systems and make them work, but all that says is they have some broad similarities in assumption. I suspect if you tried to do that without adjusting for assumptions about encounters in one way or another you'd run into some serious problems (and I suspect that's more and more true the higher level the adventure was written for).

I also have to point out there's some important elements about how well you expect it to work out.
 


Do you think the vast majority of gamers are actually concerned with this to the level that it impacts their enjoyment? Serious question.
I believe that most groups run into some kind of trouble with it sooner or later, yes.

It's why you get complaints from people who play other games--like Shadowrun fans, or White Wolf fans--of the same color as what you see with D&D, for example.

If the game sells itself as a cooperative exercise that everyone contributes to, but players B and C contribute 90% of the work combined and players A and D contribute 10%, people are gonna notice. Hell, there's a HUGE brouhaha going on right now in the FFXIV comunity because one job (Machinist) is doing about 8% less damage than the top-end jobs. That 8% is enough to ignite a firestorm. So yeah, I do think there's a significant chunk of people who care about this sort of thing. The overlap between "people who play video games" and "people who play D&D" is pretty significant, and video gamers tend to respond very poorly to egregious balance issues.
 

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