D&D 5E Why the claim of combat and class balance between the classes is mainly a forum issue. (In my opinion)

S'mon

Legend
To me, this is the exact same situation. The game is designed in such a way that it is impossible for a level 9 party to defeat a CR 24 dragon. The game purposefully doesn't give you abilities that are capable of harming the dragon. In fact, half the rules of the game are literally designed specifically to make sure PCs at a certain level can only fight monsters close to their level. Then someone comes along and says "I'd like to try something that the rules specifically say is impossible that would allow me to win when the game says I can't."

My feeling would be that while this Wall of Force thing is incredibly stupid, being neither
rules-compliant nor making sense in terms of the world-physics of dragon mouths, I'd be fine with a manipulation of the environment that did actually work in terms of rules & world-physics to defeat a much
higher CR foe. Collapsing the ceiling on top of a monster, for instance (which might kill it, or might just slow it down), or using a magical elevator to cut a large monster in half, as once happened in my game.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
If all of the "narrativist goodness" is actually in 4e and could be grasped as Manbearcat described, then we should have seen a dramatic shift to adopt 4e as a radically improved overall D&D play experience---because now not only was the tactical gamism improved through balance and ease of preparation for "step on up," but the narrative elements should have created a broader play experience that was superior, or at least comparable to what prior-edition players wanted in the non-combat areas.

That didn't happen.
I think you're missing an alternative - namely, that many RPGers aren't that keen on non-process sim gaming.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think you're missing an alternative - namely, that many RPGers aren't that keen on non-process sim gaming.

I think it's both that
(a) many RPGers want process-sim gaming, and 4e is crap at that and
(b) The 4e books don't properly set out what 4e is actually good at.

Most players and GMs can't be expected to read pemerton on ENW to understand what 4e is good at, the way I did. :D I'd say 4e is basically a Buffy the Vampire slayer style Dramatist ("high concept sim" I think is the Forgespeak) game with a heavy combat engine, but whereas the BtVS game from Eden Studios explains what it's about, 4e simply does not. So people bring along baggage - preconceptions from other games. Most people came to 4e with baggage from 3e and earlier versions of D&D, and then found 4e did that thing really badly, and often disliked the game. People who came to 4e with preconceptions from non-D&D, like you and Manbearcat, did better.
 
Last edited:

Hussar

Legend
Why the claim of combat and class balance between the classes is mainly a for...

I've often claimed that 4es biggest enemy is itself. Better presentation would have resolved a lot of issues.

On the Wall of Force tangent, for me the comment about "cheating" nails it for me and explains why the player would be bludgeoned with dice. For me, it would not be any fun to sit at that table. I remember years ago listening to a player's gaming story about how their 4th level 2e party was taking down an old green dragon and all I could think at the time was no thank you.

I want to win or lose on my own merits, not through rewriting the game.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
For instance, my current character in one of the D&D games I'm in is a book worm who spends his time at the church library researching the past of his goddess who used to be a mortal before she ascended.

Left to his own devices, he'd read books for the rest of his life and never go on an adventure. But since we were having wrongbadfun the DM came up with a plot where the church needed me to recover something, made up a journal of a party who had gone looking for it before me and arranged it so the other PCs were looking for work and I needed help fighting off the monsters in the cave the object was located in. I hired them, we became a party and later friends. I continue to adventure because they keep asking me to go along with them on their quests, that are also given to us by the DM.

So basically, your character made up a backstory which required the other PCs to act as his assistants. And then discovered that he liked adventuring enough to keep doing it, but not enough to proactively seek it out. At least, that's the impression I get.

I've seen worse. A character who carried on not wanting to be an adventurer, but would have to go when something came up that actually interested his boss (also a cleric, interestingly; I suspect it's one of the few places D&D players will accept a hierarchy). Of course, this made it a game about the interests of the boss of the cleric. Anything that didn't interest the NPC meant the party was short one cleric and one player was going to sit in the corner of the room doing nothing for four hours.
 

pemerton

Legend
Most people came to 4e with baggage from 3e and earlier versions of D&D, and then found 4e did that thing really badly, and often disliked the game. People who came to 4e with preconceptions from non-D&D, like you and Manbearcat, did better.
For me, 4e came along at a time when I was looking for something to replace Rolemaster - I wasn't averse to heavy mechanics (and 4e delivers on that score, as [MENTION=6688937]Ratskinner[/MENTION] for instance has frequently noted) but found aspects of the process-sim action resolution were getting in the way.

If I hadn't taken up 4e for my main game it would proably have been HARP. (Thanks, WotC!)
 

Yeah, most of my players don't trust DMs. They don't forgive DMs their mistakes. I had to have the entire rules memorized from beginning to end because any mistake would be pointed out to me quickly and with a tone that says "Seriously, why are you the one DMing if you don't even know the rules?"

Gagh! That's ... annoying.

It would cause an argument that would take too much time away from the game. A rough example would be:

[snip]
"You know, maybe we should just put down some minis so we all know where the orcs are. It's situations like this that makes me not trust DMs."

Out of curiosity, what's the point of having a ruleset if you don't actually use it? If the game is talking about squares, feet, or inches, it's talking about map and minis. So your players want you to know all the rules but not use them.

Also it sounds as if you are fighting your ruleset every step of the way. Try a game like 13th Age - which is intended to be run fast and light, and without a map. Even removing the trappings of a map. And that, I think, is a big part of the problem. That the rules rely on certain information that you don't give them and they get annoyed when the lack of information doesn't match what they think is there.

Different rules fit different games. And if you are fighting the rules every step of the way you are normally fighting the players' understanding of the world. Although the intent isn't there the effect is that you are taking away the players' knowledge of the world in the same way you would if you lied to them. At that point not trusting the DM is understandable. Find a ruleset that fits what you want to play and you won't cause these issues. (And I'm glad that from what you've said D&D Next seems to be one such set of rules for you).

What would the PCs do? What kind of adventures do they go on that don't require killing monsters? Do they play business men who go to the office every day and fill out forms? What kind of jobs do they have that are that safe?

Conmen, tricking monsters out of their gold and directing enemy tribes at each other. Warlords, building private armies.

So basically, your character made up a backstory which required the other PCs to act as his assistants. And then discovered that he liked adventuring enough to keep doing it, but not enough to proactively seek it out. At least, that's the impression I get.

I've seen worse. A character who carried on not wanting to be an adventurer, but would have to go when something came up that actually interested his boss (also a cleric, interestingly; I suspect it's one of the few places D&D players will accept a hierarchy). Of course, this made it a game about the interests of the boss of the cleric. Anything that didn't interest the NPC meant the party was short one cleric and one player was going to sit in the corner of the room doing nothing for four hours.

My rule of thumb is I'll spot the players one adventure with a tailored hook to their PC to get them to start adventuring. If they are playing antisocial loners and want to wander off after that I let them.
 

It would be the same for us. And the reason people would dislike it is because it is CHEATING in a rather obvious and large way.
being creative and using abilities in new ways is not only not cheating... it is a fun way to play...

I always think "If this was any other game than D&D and someone pulled this crap would we allow it?" Like, say we were playing Monopoly and someone said "I move my car to Boardwalk because I rolled a 6 and when I roll a 6 I can move wherever I want to."
is like saying "When I roll Arcana high enough I can cast any spell I want... so I use wish at level 2" totally not what happened

I'm guessing everyone at the table would laugh, and say NO! If we were playing street hockey and someone knocked the puck into someone's driveway and into their basketball net and said "That's one point for our team, I got the puck in the net!", we'd all laugh. If we thought for one second that the person was serious, we'd likely be too dumb struck over the stupidity to even speak.

another great example of WHAT THEY DIDN"T DO...

To me, this is the exact same situation. The game is designed in such a way that it is impossible for a level 9 party to defeat a CR 24 dragon. The game purposefully doesn't give you abilities that are capable of harming the dragon. In fact, half the rules of the game are literally designed specifically to make sure PCs at a certain level can only fight monsters close to their level. Then someone comes along and says "I'd like to try something that the rules specifically say is impossible that would allow me to win when the game says I can't."
closer... the rules say what happen when you can't breathe... everyone knows you can choke to death if something gets lodged in your throat. I have the ability to make an unmoving object that blocks just about everything... if I create it in his throat he will choke to death...

Nothing wrong with this option. If the monster was put into the game expecting a fair fight, then let them fight fairly. If you assumed they were going to run, perfect. They can run. If the intent was that the PCs would need to negotiate and battle was guaranteed death...well, that can happen too.
it can, or you could roll with a fun scene and keep going...


As I've said, this harms the future of the game. It becomes a trick they can try again to defeat other creatures. Maybe ones you actually care if they survive or not. It also makes the PCs rather brazen. How are you going to act when you defeated a CR 24 dragon with one spell without rolling? You are now the ultimate badasses. No one can ever threaten you again, no matter how powerful they are. Just wait for them to open their mouth and throw in a wall of force.
well as the guy who ran almost 18 more levels after that I will tell you none of that happened...although the arragent wizard was more arragent until he got put in his place a few levels later...

Not to mention the treasure. A dragon of that size should have huge amounts of magic items and treasure according to the rules. +5 swords lying all over his lair would be the common thing. Do the PCs now get all that? Is it good for your game for the PCs to have level 24 treasure at level 9? If the treasure isn't there, then why? Will the PCs now go in search of it? With enough spells, they can certainly divine its location.
well no one even asked, and I hadn't created his hoard, just the ring of wizardry level 2 he was wearing and that was the treasure they got...

Even if you don't allow the trick to work again for arbitrary reasons(and can convince your players that it doesn't work again), the addition of those magic items or to gold to buy or craft magic items of that level will clearly make them WAY more powerful than the game expects them to be for their level.
they got 1 ring out of it...

Not to mention the XP for defeating a CR 24 creature should be so great that they'd all go up a couple of levels from the one battle. If you have more battles planned for the rest of the adventure, does that now invalidate them because they are too low level to harm the party?
I used the rule that said some encounters are easier or harder and just gave them each 2,000xp and kept going.

It might only take 30 seconds or a minute. I figure that's ample time to decide whether the party gains 3 levels and millions of gold with one spell or not.
I've never let the PC ever gain more then 1 level a night... and there was no gold there...so not what happened...
 

I don't see why it wouldn't work on a human. It can be sized to any size according to your ruling. You can see the inside of their mouth when they talk. Done.

I would certainly be using it again on the next creature I saw and arguing if it was ruled against. I understand your players didn't. But mine would. Heck, *I* would. My players would be quoting me right back to myself saying "You said it worked before....there's NO reason it shouldn't work again unless you are trying to screw us."

We have had a few players over the years that tryied to do those things(spam cool trick until they just become common tacktics) most learned that just because we let cool things go doesn't mean you can just do it whenever you want even if it doesn't fit.

but that didn't happen the only time they tried this trick again was at epic level Vs a hoard of Tarrasque...and even then only on 1 of them.
 

True, but one would figure that it has some muscles just like humans do that close of their throat unless they are swallowing so you can't see down the whole thing.
I didn't think anything on a dragon was anything like a human...

It should also curve so being able to see in its mouth wouldn't let you see very deep into its throat, especially when its head is likely 20 feet above the ground which is a really poor angle for that sort of thing.
it was on all fours with his neck out so not 20 feet off the ground, but ground level with PCs



WAY too much time to say something like "since you can only see his throat for brief periods of time while he's talking. It takes about 3 seconds to cast a spell which is enough time for him to stop talking, use his arcana skill to figure out what spell you are casting and turn at an angle that prevents you from seeing your target, I'm going to give him a reflex save to prevent it from working"?
lets double check here... my way game went on WITH NO KNEW PROBLEMS and everyone had a fun day. Your way we would make up a ref save and most likely have a hard fight no one wanted... and atleast 1 PC could have died or the whole game could have TPKed when it was one of the highest level games we ran and one of the most fun... in retrospect with all that you still can't see I made the right call?



Heck, "I cast a spell at the dragon" seems a lot like saying "Roll initiative, we're starting a fight. Let's see if I get my spell off before the dragon acts." Which, in the cast of a CR 24 dragon it is almost guaranteed that the dragon goes first and kills the caster before he finishes the words for the spell.
when someone declairs an action we normally roll initiative AFTER the action is made... you start the fight with X then we roll init....


I'm not looking for a funny story when I play a D&D game. Well, I am, but the funny stories are told outside of the game. The game itself is meant to be as "realistic" a simulation of living in a fantasy D&D world as possible.
we are just looking for fun.

This same thing likely would have happened at our table. Someone would suggest using a wall of force to choke the dragon. We all would laugh, saying how stupid that would be if it actually worked. I'd laugh as the DM that someone would think I'd allow them to break the game like that. I'd say "Roll for initiative then if you are going to attack the dragon. There is no surprise round because you can both see each other". Then the player would say "No, I'm just joking. I know that dragon would kill us...I don't want to die."
OK, and just to double check... why? I mean if you can't ever try something out of the box why have a DM to begin with?

Then we'd all tell the story of how it would have been funny if the DM allowed it and they'd have gone up 3 levels and gotten a million gold and been the most powerful people in the world. But it would stay just that, a funny story about how the DM was smart enough not to allow it.
nice shadow insult... I must not be a smart DM... yup totally dumb of me to run a game for years that everyone loved to play...how could I be so stupid...


I do it EVERY time. Allowing it even once is a bane to your game. The players realize that all they need to do to win is make you laugh. Then every battle becomes a battle to see who can come up with the silliest plan first.
OR, and just throwing this out there, maybe you have huge epic battles, and little skirmishes and everyonce in a while (once every 2-3 levels) one big OMG moment where they pull off something huge... and because no one abuses it and they only come up organicly no one tries to 'just make you laugh'

This seems like a poor explanation as to why it can't be done again. I wouldn't be satisfied with that explanation. It feels arbitrary like my success in a battle is entirely up to the DM. If he wants us to be able to kill a CR 24 dragon without a roll, we get to....but use it on anything he wants to stay alive and it suddenly doesn't work.
so in your mind, my epic red dragon who was going to be an important NPC and had stats AND A NAME was someone I wanted the PCs to kill? and at some point I am going to have some NPC more important? An entire adventure changed mid moment basedon this the whole game went in an unexpected direction... it was not the way I saw the scene going...

What's the point of having abilities on my character sheet if I have no idea whether one is going to work from battle to battle? What's the point in rolling dice if the DM is just going to decide whether we win on a whim?
I dicided that the story the PC wizard told me was entertaining and fit the world, and that I could deal with it, and everyone at the table agreed... no one AT THE DAMN TABLE agreed with you that alone should make that rueing right at that table...


No, impossible victories need to stay impossible for the purpose of sanity and the integrity of the game world. Ancient dragons like that are extremely feared for a reason. They are extremely powerful and it takes near godly level magic to defeat them. Having them die in one spell without a roll affects the perception of them. By the players, the PCs, the other people in the campaign world, and most importantly ME. I don't want dragons to be considered jokes in my game. I don't want to avoid using them as an enemy because they can be defeated too easily.
I didn't avoide using them... they got a gold dragon patron around 12th level (who had paliden levels no less) and they fought 3 other dragons after this one in more 'normal' circumstances...

It wasn't that cool. It was a string a battle encounters that ended in one press of a button. Followed by me hinting that they should follow the adventure I had planned out since I put a lot of effort into writing up NPCs and a storyline that I thought was kind of awesome. Followed by them saying "No...you just want us to leave our warehouse so you can kill us.." Followed by me getting so frustrated that I gave up running the game.
so instead of rolling with it and finding away to have fun you got frustrated, well my example was a lugh and keep going... but insult MY intelligence and think I did something wrong when I got better results... interesting...

I like to keep the in game separate from the out of game. Sure, the players were being jerks out of the game. But their characters were just doing what made the most sense. The world doesn't suddenly become deadlier because I have a beef with the players. My NPCs don't know anything about what happened out of the game.
I just figure "if this were a movie, and something has to happen to be interesting what would it be." I even gave you an idea it took me only a minute to come up with...

All it really taught me is that it would have never gotten that bad if I hadn't allowed them to do something obviously game braking simply because they wanted to and it was funny.
Alll it tells me is you don't like thinking out of the box you want everything to run as expected and Players need to go with you or walk.
 

So basically, your character made up a backstory which required the other PCs to act as his assistants. And then discovered that he liked adventuring enough to keep doing it, but not enough to proactively seek it out. At least, that's the impression I get.

I've seen worse. A character who carried on not wanting to be an adventurer, but would have to go when something came up that actually interested his boss (also a cleric, interestingly; I suspect it's one of the few places D&D players will accept a hierarchy). Of course, this made it a game about the interests of the boss of the cleric. Anything that didn't interest the NPC meant the party was short one cleric and one player was going to sit in the corner of the room doing nothing for four hours.

I played a Ranger (Spellfire) in 2e who depsretly wanted to be a farmer (and told everyone that regularly) I was't an adventurer I was a guy being protected byt the party ad dealing with it...

the best moment (for me) was when I was given the chance... Mystra would remove my spell fire and let me go home to my family farm... except those people who for 9 levels had been helping me would not have me there to help when the draco lich came... at 9th level ranger I became an adventurer
 

Imaro

Legend
And this is totally valid! @pemerton proved to me long ago that his style of scene framing and fictional positioning are well-supported in 4e, and allow for the kinds of player narrative control he enjoys.

The problem, as you discovered Imaro, is that the baseline 4e physical presentation shifted the focus dramatically towards gamist combat resolution. If all of the "narrativist goodness" is actually in 4e and could be grasped as @Manbearcat described, then we should have seen a dramatic shift to adopt 4e as a radically improved overall D&D play experience---because now not only was the tactical gamism improved through balance and ease of preparation for "step on up," but the narrative elements should have created a broader play experience that was superior, or at least comparable to what prior-edition players wanted in the non-combat areas.

That didn't happen.

And it's my postulate that this was because ultimately 4e failed to serve ANY of the desired masters. The gamists, while finding 4e enjoyable, probably felt like they were having to fight against the whole "Why do I have to pretend to be an elf to do this exactly?" To a gamist, the choice of race and class has little to do with "their character's place in the fiction," it's about challenge optimization. The D&D "sacred cows" and conceits of the RPG as an entertainment medium were getting in the way of their fun. Even as tailored to "step on up" as 4e is, playing D&D is an awful lot of hard work if all you're really interested in is character-building for tactical encounter challenges. There's lots of other easier gamist paths with less time investment, and more immediate payoff than an RPG.

The narrativists, except in some rare cases with talented GMs, a la @pemerton and @Manbearcat, kept banging their heads against the gamist overtones and presentation, wondering why the "delve" format sucked so bad.

And the simulationists just threw their hands up in the air and said, "Because 'Come and Get It,' and Justin Alexander FTW."

Compare this to Fate, which has gamist elements, but makes almost zero attempt to make the gamists "feel good about themselves" while playing it. Fate makes its narrativist aspirations known, up front and center. It's very unambiguous the type of game you should ostensibly be having with Fate.

I've put forth this same theory before on these boards... especially since 4e design is often lauded as very focused, and I don't really believe it is. I agree with what you've said above, that basically instead of being very focused, 4e is (IMO) a pretty incoherent game which seems to shine when people bring experience/advice/etc. from other games to supplement and drift it towards their favored style (though I do believe some styles are harder to drift it towards then others). I mean look at [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] 's example, who that hasn't read DitV would even know what he's going on about or draw those types of conclusions? How about we analyze what is actually in the book without referring to DitV, HQ, BW or other games... IMO if you need to reference other games (or future supplements beyond the first 3 books) to "get" 4e... then it failed somewhere in it's design and/or presentation.

I feel there is definitely incoherence in the rules... some DC's are static and aren't tied to level but instead to actual "things"in the game world (Yay!! process-sim) but wait there's a whole slew of them that are based purely on character level (Huh, what?). We got tactical combat, quests and skill challenges for the gamist player (where the book tells us that XP and treasure are to be assigned and given out for success!!) but then posters like [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] make the claim that XP/treasure/etc. aren't actual rewards... they're devices to continue the "D&D narrative"... huh??

I've watched encounter play, the WotC officially sanctioned play to introduce beginners to 4e, and it bears no resemblance to the type of play I have seen described by [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] and a few others... am I saying they aren't playing the way they claim? No not at all. Do I think that's the default style of play for 4e or even that common a play style among players of 4e... No, not at all. The most common style I've seen 4e played in is a strongly gamist style, almost exactly as you describe above where the point is to earn experience for defeating encounters loosely tied together by a thin narrative... and it's not just encounters, this is also the formula for most of the official 4e adventures. I don't see thematic relevance, I don't see much to any notice of the keywords and fictional positioning, what I see is players creating maximized "builds" (jhust like in 3.x) by using the handbooks on the WotC site and in play spending most of their time looking for the best power or highest rated skill they can use to help contribute to defeating a DM balanced encounter, almost always theme and fiction are secondary.
 

Luce

Explorer
From SRD:
"
[h=3]Suffocation[/h] A character who has no air to breathe can hold her breath for 2 rounds per point of Constitution. After this period of time, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check in order to continue holding her breath. The save must be repeated each round, with the DC increasing by +1 for each previous success.
When the character fails one of these Constitution checks, she begins to suffocate. In the first round, she falls unconscious (0 hit points). In the following round, she drops to -1 hit points and is dying. In the third round, she suffocates.
"
CR24 red dragon has Con 31, so he can wait 67 round before being in danger of dropping (31*2+5 for (+15 modifier)
Therefore the Big Red could wait out the spell choking him. Also if PCs are sniping him from safe distance all out defense would be a logical choice.
Also considering high INT(24) the dragon may well be aware of "tracheotomy" and has some idea how to go about it.
Now I do not dislike what you did, the players had fun, felt clever and did not get a disproportionate reward out of the incident. I comes down to my believe that every table have its own style to some extend and it is up to the individual GM to customize his/her game to the group.
 

From SRD:
"
[h=3]Suffocation[/h] A character who has no air to breathe can hold her breath for 2 rounds per point of Constitution. After this period of time, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check in order to continue holding her breath. The save must be repeated each round, with the DC increasing by +1 for each previous success.
When the character fails one of these Constitution checks, she begins to suffocate. In the first round, she falls unconscious (0 hit points). In the following round, she drops to -1 hit points and is dying. In the third round, she suffocates.
"
CR24 red dragon has Con 31, so he can wait 67 round before being in danger of dropping (31*2+5 for (+15 modifier)
Therefore the Big Red could wait out the spell choking him. Also if PCs are sniping him from safe distance all out defense would be a logical choice.
Also considering high INT(24) the dragon may well be aware of "tracheotomy" and has some idea how to go about it.
Now I do not dislike what you did, the players had fun, felt clever and did not get a disproportionate reward out of the incident. I comes down to my believe that every table have its own style to some extend and it is up to the individual GM to customize his/her game to the group.

I totally could have looked all that up in a book... But instead just rolled with it since you agreeed it worked out Ok I'm not sure what your point was... Nor am I sure what outcome is better then "we had fun and it was one of our most fun campaigns"




Edit: if forced to put mechanic to it today I would rule be could not hold his breathe and immditaly start makeing con checks... I could see an argument eaither way though... So at best I would start makeing checks on a held dragon well pcs ran or dog piled or buffed
 
Last edited:

Ratskinner

Adventurer
[/QUOTE]
I would have used it as a shorthand label, yes. It certainly doesn't mean I have participated in their forums (I haven't, because I prefer to post pseudonymously); it means I find their general approach helpful.

Precisely! Apply that same logic to the labeling of the games! That's exactly the language gap we're talking about. I mean, I don't personally care all that much how we use the term "Forge" game, but I certainly would lean towards it meaning more than "there was a forum for this game there once" by default (at least in connotation, if not denotation.) Especially with additional superlative language magnifying the connection.

But that approach is (roughly) the approach of sincerity and clarity I mentioned above: I could add to the stress on honest actual play reports, analytic clarity. But GNS isn't the only contribution of the site to analytic clarity, and is not the one that I <snippage>

I'm not trying to cast doubt on the intentions, merits, or even the utility of what folks did at the Forge. All I'm suggesting is that for the vast majority of posters, their first introduction to the Forge likely happens by being directed at those articles (previously the forums as well, I would presume.) I know that when I first encountered the Forge, its purpose as an incubator was lost behind the fact that most of its games seemed to be testing or presenting the theories they were exploring in the forums. I think, for a lot of people, that theory is much more of what the Forge "is about" than the incubator stuff, especially as the theory still echoes around the 'net discussions like these after the Forge ceased functioning.

It may because I am used to drawing some of these distinctions in my day job (I am an academic lawyer and philosopher) <snippage>

Maybe something to that. I know that my training and professional experiences can often color how I see things. For instance I view things like the GNS theory with a great deal of skepticism simply because they do not have what I consider clear foundations in mathematics.

I'll admit that the line between analysis and principles or advocacy is not always clear cut, but my interest in The Forge <snippage>

I don't reallly know what it would mean for a game to adhere to GNS theory. (Or to not adhere to it, for that matter.) GNS theory is a theory about the possible forms of aesthetic payoff from RPGing, and how certain techniques might help contribute to, or get in the way of, that payoff. Whereas a particular RPG is a set of rules and techniques for enabling multiple participants to construct and evolve fictional situations, with at least some of the participants having special responsibility for some of the persons within those fictional situations (that's the "role playing" bit). It makes sense to analyse a RPG in GNS terms (eg Can we explain what sort of payoff it is hoping to deliver?

Sorry, bad choice of wording on my part. I was intending to direct that at the design process for a game. By that, I mean that within their explorations of what eventually became GNS theory, the Forge participants often created games that ranged from practical to experimental and barely playable. That thin line between principles and advocacy is, IMO, very blurred to the casual (if there is such a thing for such dense texts!) reader when essays and posts often include discussions of game as "dysfunctional", "drifted", and many other (quasi)judgemental terms. Certainly, game designers have employed varying levels and aspects of GNS theory/awareness to their games since the theory was developed.

Note also that this sort of thing changes over the history of the site, depending on random circumstance as well as the stage of development in the theory. There were times when a plethora of games (or modifications to other games) would explode on the site just to try and see what impact various mechanics had on play, and other times when discussion was almost exclusively about play at table of other games.

However exactly a designer thinks about the point of their game, and how their rules contribute to that point, I wouldn't particularly expect their game to make it clear how they framed their thinking. I don't particularly want the rules to be a design diary in any literal sense. I want them to tell me how the designer thinks I can best put their system to work! - but that's independent of any GNS analysis.

For a lot of the small games that I consider to be clearly "Forge games"...there's not a lot of that independence to go 'round.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
@pemerton proved to me long ago that his style of scene framing and fictional positioning are well-supported in 4e, and allow for the kinds of player narrative control he enjoys.

Same for me, and the fact that I was dumbstruck when he did would add further evidence to the "4e doesn't present itself that way" charge.

<snippage>
And it's my postulate that this was because ultimately 4e failed to serve ANY of the desired masters. The gamists, while finding 4e enjoyable, probably felt like they were having to fight against the whole "Why do I have to pretend to be an elf to do this exactly?" To a gamist, the choice of race and class has little to do with "their character's place in the fiction," it's about challenge optimization. The D&D "sacred cows" and conceits of the RPG as an entertainment medium were getting in the way of their fun. Even as tailored to "step on up" as 4e is, playing D&D is an awful lot of hard work if all you're really interested in is character-building for tactical encounter challenges. There's lots of other easier gamist paths with less time investment, and more immediate payoff than an RPG.

The narrativists, except in some rare cases with talented GMs, a la @pemerton and @Manbearcat, kept banging their heads against the gamist overtones and presentation, wondering why the "delve" format sucked so bad.

And the simulationists just threw their hands up in the air and said, "Because 'Come and Get It,' and Justin Alexander FTW."

<snippage>
I've watched encounter play, the WotC officially sanctioned play to introduce beginners to 4e, and it bears no resemblance to the type of play I have seen described by @pemerton , @Manbearcat and a few others... am I saying they aren't playing the way they claim? No not at all. Do I think that's the default style of play for 4e or even that common a play style among players of 4e... No, not at all. The most common style I've seen 4e played in is a strongly gamist style, almost exactly as you describe above where the point is to earn experience for defeating encounters loosely tied together by a thin narrative... and it's not just encounters, this is also the formula for most of the official 4e adventures. I don't see thematic relevance, I don't see much to any notice of the keywords and fictional positioning, what I see is players creating maximized "builds" (jhust like in 3.x) by using the handbooks on the WotC site and in play spending most of their time looking for the best power or highest rated skill they can use to help contribute to defeating a DM balanced encounter, almost always theme and fiction are secondary.

I must say that these descriptions match my experience and observations of 4e "in the wild" much more than the type of game that [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] and [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION] describe. I think I very much fit the description of the frustrated narrativist that [MENTION=85870]innerdude[/MENTION] describes. Which in a way is kinda sad. Since having talked with them on these forums, I would like a chance to see if I can pull it off. However, my local rpg community seems so profoundly soured on 4e (with the exception of an extremely gamist group that does encounters and meets at the game shop down the street) that I don't find that likely. I would be unceremoniously drummed out of my current group if I seriously suggested playing it there (and that's an OSR group that looks like its going to let me run Fate for a few months!)
 

Luce

Explorer
I totally could have looked all that up in a book... But instead just rolled with it since you agreeed it worked out Ok I'm not sure what your point was... Nor am I sure what outcome is better then "we had fun and it was one of our most fun campaigns"


Edit: if forced to put mechanic to it today I would rule be could not hold his breathe and immditaly start makeing con checks... I could see an argument eaither way though... So at best I would start makeing checks on a held dragon well pcs ran or dog piled or buffed

The point I was trying to make that different groups will handle it differently, since fun can be derived in different ways. You know your group and there was an understanding that this trick is one time thing. On other tables such a ruling would have been an open season invitation.
Heck, in D&D lore we have Flame (since Dungeon #1) a dragon who has a contract to get chain resurrected.
So the chain of events:pC kill dragon, two days latter dragon came back and it has brought some friends. TPK ensues. This may be perfectly valid on same tables.
There are multiple ways spells can be creatively used with DM adjudication.
Cast a silent image of a Medusa head, creature that does not disbelief think they have turned into stone.
Stone shape- encase an enemy's head into stone, no SR no saving throw.
Using the major/minor creation spells to make enough contact poison (such as black lotus extract a vegetable matter) to kill an army.
and so on.
Some groups may find a game of clever thinking saving the day enjoyable, others may engage in constant one upsmenship with the DM and have fun. Once again, I am of the believe that a group should trust their DM and s(he) in part should feel free to deviate from the RAW if that enhances the enjoyment of the game. IME the rules are good starting point, a common base if you will, from which the individual group deviate making the game their own. I do think there should be an example play style, but limiting to only that style is an unrealistic expectation.

For example, I enjoy low magic game, where the PC are saving their resources for the "bad times". A wand with 10 charges may last 3+ levels before being depleted. At the same time I like the idea oscillating challenge as I see it in 2e- "run from the wolfs to fight the bear". That is the PC will occasionally get 1-2 use items that are very powerful, but cannot be replaced without going in a long quest if at all. For example the dying breath of a god of war trapped into a specially made crystal sphere, which when broken acts as a "hellball" epic spell. A good thing to have as a back up, but once you use it you are out.
Not the standard approach to gaming, but it works for my table.

tl;dr: sometimes it is better to ignore the rules and just have fun, but acknowledging when you do so is good policy in forum discussions.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
On the Wall of Force in the Dragons Throat, killing it:

It's an awesome new idea, so I'd allow it the first time as a reward for creativity, because it would be fun.

But I'd say, "That's awesome, I am going to allow an auto-crit this one time. You have tremendous luck, hitting the dragon precisely at the point where his mouth is open to the maximum, and the dragon panics rather than think it through. But next time you try this, you're going to have to roll, and roll well, to pull off the same trick".

And then in the future if the player tried it, I'd make them roll against a rather high AC.
 

Dausuul

Legend
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/wallOfForce.htm

he was within 25ft+5ft per 2 levels (way closer really)

he had line of sight (the dragon was talking and you could look in it's mouth...)

The wall is anchored on all sides (the sides of the throat)

I'm not sure you can argue if it works RAW or not... but I could have had ways around it... I could have done a lot different. However when the whole table cheered and my jaw dropped, I was pretty inclined to give it to him.

A wall of force can't move. The dragon just has to open its mouth extra wide and back up.

This would be a clever tactic and I would probably let the player do it, but I would never allow it to be an auto-kill. If I did, the wizard would then go around casting wall of force to kill everything that breathes. I'd say you could use this trick to buy yourself a round in which the dragon can be attacked with advantage and can't use its bite attack or breath weapon; or you could ready the spell and use it when the dragon tries to use its breath weapon, negating it. It's a smart move, not a guaranteed win.

There's also the verisimilitude question: If this is a viable tactic, why hasn't anyone ever used it before? If they have, why are there any ancient dragons left in the world? And if there are ancient dragons left, why would any of them be so stupid as to open their mouths wide when talking to a wizard?
 
Last edited:

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
While I agree with the "not bloodly likely" crew on the Throat of Force trick, I have to point out a correction:

The spell says the Wall must be anchored on all sides - in this case, the throat. Ergo: the Wall is attached to the throat of the dragon and moves with it, OR the wall is immobile and the dragon can't move without tearing his own throat out. If the dragon is capable of simply moving away from the wall, then by definition the wall wasn't "anchored" to anything and couldn't be cast in the first place.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top