Why Jargon is Bad, and Some Modern Resources for RPG Theory

There's two I've seen.

1. Just reduce the number of different types of bonuses. That way its still possible to hunt for a few, but it doesn't turn into the 3e stack-a-million-bonuses thing. This is the PF2e approach.

2. Diminishing returns. Shadow of the Demon Lord has what are called boons and banes. A boon adds +1D6 to the roll; a bane subtracts -1D6. You can have multiples of any of them but you only get the best. So if you've got three boons on your attack roll, you roll the D20, roll 3D6, and add the best of the D6 rolls to the value. It means its still somewhat useful hunting for multiples, but less and less so.

Edit: And to be clear, I don't really care how smoothly it works; it produces a result I don't like twice over; it makes only bothering with the first benefit what you do, and then it makes it matter too much.
So, HoML actually does all of these things in some measure. Its pretty much a 4e engine, at least that's the starting point, and so you have bonuses, but they ALL fall within 1 of 4 types, level, ability, proficiency, and permanent. Notice, NONE of those can vary based on the situation at the table! That is to say, they can to the degree you could pick up a different weapon and gain/lose a proficiency bonus, and permanent bonuses can be 'keyed' any way you want (IE apply only when certain tags exist on the target of an attack, etc.). Still, the bonuses cannot stack within a type, so AT MOST you can have 4, and level and ability bonus are pretty cut-and-dried at that! (I guess an item could change your ability, etc. I mean anything is possible).

Again, if you want to gain different sorts of results, use different powers, spend power, leverage practices (which change the ability score and skill that are relevant) etc. Players can have a big effect on how well their plans turn out, it really IS a tactical game, but you will never be sitting at the table trying to figure out all the bonuses that are in play, it just won't happen. My philosophy here is a very strong "invest in the things that will make the game play most appealing at the table." This is an ethos that should be recognizably derived from 4e's design philosophy. Even as complex games 4e and HoML are rather easy to play at the table, especially for the GM.
 

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even just having greater and lesser advantage....
I thought about it, but consider, if instead you do things like design your monsters with a bit more varied defenses, then hitting a weaker one is going against a 2-4 point lower DV, which might as well be considered the same as an equivalent attack bonus, right? I mean, there's a lot of things along these lines that PCs can do. They can use various forms of synergy to increase their offense and defense in a whole variety of ways. I just think that dice modifiers are a cumbersome way to handle a lot of that. And if you now start in with 2 levels of 'advantage' and 'disadvantage', which things get each one? Now some stuff stacks but other stuff doesn't, or there's got to be some other more complicated rule. I'm really not convinced it adds enough to the game design to make up for all that. I really had the way Strike! just stripped away a lot of the cruft of 4e but left the real essence of what it was doing intact. I just translated that philosophy to d20 (purely for reasons of taste really). Also doing it that way makes it pretty simple to convert 4e content in most cases. Pretty much any 4e monster will 'work' in HoML with a few tweaks to terminology and updated numbers.
 

Fine until the character would have a net +5 and -1 (i.e. say three advantages and one disadvantage) which in the advantage system cancels out to net-zero where it should be +4.
At least in my system you do have advantage/disadvantage cancellation, yes, so any disadvantage cancels your advantage, again this is just a lot simpler to process at the table than adding up lots of things that give each and figuring out which is more. That process would also encourage just larding one or the other onto lots of stuff! It would undo the whole point.

In terms of actual modifiers on the d20, they don't stack, and you take the most advantageous, so if something gives a -1 permanent bonus, and something else gives a +1, indeed you just get the +1. This doesn't come up a huge amount. Penalties are fairly rare for one thing. Ability score modifier 0 just means you are pretty bad at something, lol. Its possible perhaps to get something like a 'cursed weapon' that was -1 permanent bonus, but then chances are you won't have a +1 to cancel it out, since very few things grant permanent bonuses! If you do have something that gives a +1 in most situations, that would be a really nice bennie to have!
 

Thanks G but I think instead of this @overgeeked is trying to get across the idea that +1 (5%) or +2 (10%) isn't enough of a bonus to make a real difference. I happen to disagree, in that I can't count the number of times I've seen a simple +1 or -1 make the difference to a roll's outcome, but I acknowledge the point he's trying to make.

You, of course, are quite correct as well - +5 to -5 in steps is more granular than in effect just + 0 - possibilities.
I've found in actual playtest with HoML that @overgeeked is correct. It just doesn't make that much difference in terms of experience of play, which is what I care about. Nobody remembers how some obscure +1 was the exact margin that changed the course of the game. They will remember how your clever getting of advantage let you gank the bad guy at the last second! My experience with RPG play says "Always use the big clue hammer!"
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I thought about it, but consider, if instead you do things like design your monsters with a bit more varied defenses, then hitting a weaker one is going against a 2-4 point lower DV, which might as well be considered the same as an equivalent attack bonus, right?
How does that work you just choose not to attack monsters with better DV huh... sounds like nonsense. Oh you mean rock paper scissors on FRW ... ummmm unless everyone has flexibility thats not gonna work.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
And if you now start in with 2 levels of 'advantage' and 'disadvantage', which things get each one? Now some stuff stacks but other stuff doesn't, or there's got to be some other more complicated rule.
Not that tricky really much ado about nothing
I'm really not convinced it adds enough to the game design to make up for all that.
I may not like the density that Lan would prefer but as it stands it really lacks nuance in 5e its all or nothing and I find that meh.
 


How does that work you just choose not to attack monsters with better DV huh... sounds like nonsense. Oh you mean rock paper scissors on FRW ... ummmm unless everyone has flexibility thats not gonna work.
Well, in HoML different weapons base on different abilities, and may also attack different defenses. Or you may just use a different power, they are not generally too hard to get. Speaking for myself when I describe a creature I think the description should be indicative of what its strong and weak defenses are, etc.
 

That people are less likely to just pick the low hanging fruit to get there and stop. If you don't understand why that matters to some people, I don't think I'm going to be able to explain it.
It shouldn't be a problem, not every game is a solution to genre/agenda preferences for everyone. In terms of Jargon though, we can analyze that and sort it out. HoML is intended to be a mostly pretty narrative game, its about what sort of hero you are, how you engage with your heroism, and what happens when you do heroic stuff. So, there isn't really a strong emphasis on lots of detailed realistic factors in play. It is more intended to answer questions about what was the awesome thing you did that won the fight, etc. Now, it does still have a tactics element to the game, but it is a little less focused on 'tactics as actions' and more on 'tactics as applying conceptual tools of tactical thinking' is how I would put it.
 

It shouldn't be a problem, not every game is a solution to genre/agenda preferences for everyone. In terms of Jargon though, we can analyze that and sort it out. HoML is intended to be a mostly pretty narrative game, its about what sort of hero you are, how you engage with your heroism, and what happens when you do heroic stuff. So, there isn't really a strong emphasis on lots of detailed realistic factors in play. It is more intended to answer questions about what was the awesome thing you did that won the fight, etc. Now, it does still have a tactics element to the game, but it is a little less focused on 'tactics as actions' and more on 'tactics as applying conceptual tools of tactical thinking' is how I would put it.

Which is all fair, but then you shouldn't be surprised if that's not the effect everyone else is trying for.
 

Which is all fair, but then you shouldn't be surprised if that's not the effect everyone else is trying for.
Sure, never criticized anyone else's goals. I just provided a logical explanation and description of what I did and why. Heck, its just a game I invented, I don't even expect anyone to read it, let alone play it, or care about what I did, to be perfectly honest.
 

Sure, never criticized anyone else's goals. I just provided a logical explanation and description of what I did and why. Heck, its just a game I invented, I don't even expect anyone to read it, let alone play it, or care about what I did, to be perfectly honest.

However, remember this was my reaction to "Meh, usually there's one nice big fat cinematic element there which you take. The rest? What is really gained?" The answer is "plenty, but just not things you prioritize."
 

However, remember this was my reaction to "Meh, usually there's one nice big fat cinematic element there which you take. The rest? What is really gained?" The answer is "plenty, but just not things you prioritize."
Yes, you may gain something, I would not. Instead I gained something by going on to the rest of the scene without being bogged down in figuring out so many modifiers. Obviously I value that more than you do and it is my priority. You wouldn't find it so it seems. I mean, when someone asks such a question, it is just a question.
 

Yes, you may gain something, I would not.

Yes, but then why are you asking the question to me in response? It only makes sense when you assume a common set of aims.

Instead I gained something by going on to the rest of the scene without being bogged down in figuring out so many modifiers. Obviously I value that more than you do and it is my priority. You wouldn't find it so it seems. I mean, when someone asks such a question, it is just a question.

See above. Frankly, it comes across as either a rhetorical ploy or an assumption of universalism here.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Well, in HoML different weapons base on different abilities, and may also attack different defenses. Or you may just use a different power, they are not generally too hard to get. Speaking for myself when I describe a creature I think the description should be indicative of what its strong and weak defenses are, etc.
Its not as flexible as you would like yet I suspect
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yes, you may gain something, I would not. Instead I gained something by going on to the rest of the scene without being bogged down in figuring out so many modifiers.
TALK about absolutist either its figuring out so many modifiers it bogs you down or its just restricted to one which may or may not actual have an effect (advantage can be no effect),

Its called an argument that excludes the middle.

When you only have a small party and only a really limited number of ways of gaining situational benefit it probably matters less.

In a larger party, the density of viable sources goes up. What if you could get double flank (call it surrounded) for advantage and normal flank for lesser.

In support of Lan wanting even more like +1 to +5
What if your Warlord gives you a tactical speech describing a battle plan for a known location maybe? before the battle and your bard sings a song to inspire (and it gives advantage but at higher levels its full advantage) you never ever have cause to try and find flanking? doesn't that seem wrong?

Perhaps the solution to the above instead of allowing more than 2 stackables like the 5 mentioned might be to have one of them defined in terms of the other (like the bard or warlords ability making flanking easy in some fashion and trivial at high level)

It just seems very very easy to have one sort of situational advantage that makes things less interesting in terms of battlefield choices.

They made the Bards inspire pure stacking in 5e and ignored their keep it just advantage... I wonder why? Because all or nothing with no stacking is boring
 
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TALK about absolutist either its figuring out so many modifiers it bogs you down or its just restricted to one which may or may not actual have an effect (advantage can be no effect),

Its called an argument that excludes the middle.

When you only have a small party and only a really limited number of ways of gaining situational benefit it probably matters less.

In a larger party, the density of viable sources goes up. What if you could get double flank (call it surrounded) for advantage and normal flank for lesser.

In support of Lan wanting even more like +1 to +5
What if your Warlord gives you a tactical speech describing a battle plan for a known location maybe? before the battle and your bard sings a song to inspire (and it gives advantage but at higher levels its full advantage) you never ever have cause to try and find flanking? doesn't that seem wrong?

Perhaps the solution to the above instead of allowing more than 2 stackables like the 5 mentioned might be to have one of them defined in terms of the other (like the bard or warlords ability making flanking easy in some fashion and trivial at high level)

It just seems very very easy to have one sort of situational advantage that makes things less interesting in terms of battlefield choices.

They made the Bards inspire pure stacking in 5e and ignored their keep it just advantage... I wonder why? Because all or nothing with no stacking is boring
Well, there are a lot of possible responses to this: I mean, the basic and most fundamental one is the 'clue hammer' response. If I'm fundamentally interested in what the narrative does, and in a clear explication of the story, then I don't GENERALLY want a lot of small factors contributing to each activity, as it is not really a very clear and concise 'story'. So, I tend to shy away from the more traditional 'stacks of situational modifiers' approach.

That being said, when you have something that is, let us say, 'environmental', it could be manifested as a single permanent modifier that is included in the situation. This might be a way to implement something like "I inspired everyone with a song" for example. However, there are a TON of other ways for that to be implemented as well, so its not like anyone needs to die on the hill of 'there must be stacks of modifiers'.

For instance, in HoML we have power, measured in power points. Power also has a source, which can matter when you get into doing stuff outside your normal 'shtick'. A 'bardic inspiration' could thus give you a power point, or allow you to use power as if it had a different source, both of which could be significant. It could give you a permanent bonus to your DR, produce some sort of action economy advantage, or lots of other things. Honestly, once you stop focusing on stacking bonuses, a lot of other options could open up. Heck, maybe there should be an 'inspired' condition, that would be cool! :)
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Its not as flexible as you would like yet I suspect

Well, there are a lot of possible responses to this: I mean, the basic and most fundamental one is the 'clue hammer' response. If I'm fundamentally interested in what the narrative does, and in a clear explication of the story, then I don't GENERALLY want a lot of small factors contributing to each activity, as it is not really a very clear and concise 'story'. So, I tend to shy away from the more traditional 'stacks of situational modifiers' approach.

Game level play loses its real support

That being said, when you have something that is, let us say, 'environmental', it could be manifested as a single permanent modifier that is included in the situation.
Yes one can foist things off on the DM
This might be a way to implement something like "I inspired everyone with a song" for example. However, there are a TON of other ways for that to be implemented as well, so its not like anyone needs to die on the hill of 'there must be stacks of modifiers'.
5e made the Warlords temp hit points to do something "different" and of course gave it to everyone willing to spend the feat (and mucked up other warlord stuff too) and yes other effects are possible but in general cases if you fail to hit or succeed on that skill check tadah you are back to D&Ds gee that was a boring waste of choice and often also a bleh use of resource. Black and White results do not impress me just like On or Off benefits.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, there are a lot of possible responses to this: I mean, the basic and most fundamental one is the 'clue hammer' response. If I'm fundamentally interested in what the narrative does, and in a clear explication of the story, then I don't GENERALLY want a lot of small factors contributing to each activity, as it is not really a very clear and concise 'story'. So, I tend to shy away from the more traditional 'stacks of situational modifiers' approach.

That being said, when you have something that is, let us say, 'environmental', it could be manifested as a single permanent modifier that is included in the situation. This might be a way to implement something like "I inspired everyone with a song" for example. However, there are a TON of other ways for that to be implemented as well, so its not like anyone needs to die on the hill of 'there must be stacks of modifiers'.

For instance, in HoML we have power, measured in power points. Power also has a source, which can matter when you get into doing stuff outside your normal 'shtick'. A 'bardic inspiration' could thus give you a power point, or allow you to use power as if it had a different source, both of which could be significant. It could give you a permanent bonus to your DR, produce some sort of action economy advantage, or lots of other things. Honestly, once you stop focusing on stacking bonuses, a lot of other options could open up. Heck, maybe there should be an 'inspired' condition, that would be cool! :)
Physical environment can play a role here too - you could be fighting on ground consecrated to an opposing deity, for example, giving +1 on everything (to-hit, damage, saves, checks, etc.) to the ground's defenders and -1 on everything to you, the invaders; never mind that your divine spells or effects are greatly reduced in effect here. Somehow draw the defenders off of their sacred ground and fight there, and these factors go away.

Simply saying all the defenders have advantage and all the attackers have disadvantage while on that ground doesn't work for two opposing reasons: one, if advantage is easily cancelled out by disadv (and vice-versa) there's so many ways of doing so that the whole thing becomes almost moot; or two, if adv and disadv cannot easily be cancelled out then it's way too big a benefit/penalty.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
ttackers have disadvantage while on that ground doesn't work for two opposing reasons: one, if advantage is easily cancelled out by disadv (and vice-versa) there's so many ways of doing so that the whole thing becomes almost moot; or two, if adv and disadv cannot easily be cancelled out then it's way too big a benefit/penalty.
He suggest other things not necessarily advantage but like other forms of "advantage" such as all defenders have bonus temp hit points and all attackers take one extra damage from each attack this would be planned in advanced more often but they could become semi standard or dynamically. Not finding it super sized satisfying (but kind of OK if the numbers already work out).
 

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