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

Dausuul

Legend
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.

No, it doesn't. Some of the other "wall of" spells require an anchor point (wall of stone must be supported by existing stone and wall of ice requires an anchor), but wall of force has no such requirement. You can create it floating in mid-air if you want. The only requirements are that it must be a) unbroken and b) vertical.

The only wall spells that you could conceivably anchor to the inside of a monster's throat are wall of ice and wall of thorns. But when trying to block a red dragon's windpipe, neither ice nor wood is a terribly effective obstacle.
 
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XunValdorl_of_Kilsek

Banned
Banned
With regards to the Wall of Force.

The caster can form the wall into a flat,
vertical plane whose area is up to one 10-
foot square per level. The wall must be
continuous and unbroken when formed. If
its surface is broken by any object or
creature, the spell fails.


Won't work.

Edit: Also, the minimum size of that Wall of Force is going to be 90 sq feet which is larger than a dragons throat anyway.
 
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I've said before (on more than one occasion...and on one in particular I did an in-depth analysis on the DMG and PHB) that I believe either (i) there were "too many cooks in the kitchen" or (ii) a dissonant editorial voice on the initial 4e books. Although I find the DMG1 to be a very solid book in many ways, the quality and focus of DMG2 and NCS in conveying 4e's machinery for play as a functional Story Now/Step on Up vessel is superior in my estimation. It is undoubtedly a High Concept Simulation as it attempts to emulate mythic hero and action movie physics while eschewing gritty process simulation.

Concurrent to the game's initial release, there were dozens of WotC articles focused on breaking out the premise, purpose, and mechanical functionality of Skill Challenges. All of those comported with my initial thoughts when reading about their inclusion; "A Unified Conflict Resolution framework to establish stakes, resolve the conflict, be determinative of the outcome of what is at stake, and guide/propel follow-up conflicts (a la DitV)." The only thing (as I noted above) that gave me pause was "why did they miss the opportunity to grant XP for failure exclusively, rather than granting it for success?" I was puzzled by that. There are many mechanisms at work to functional Story Now play and what I've outlined above regarding conflict resolution is pretty close to SoP. However, in most of those systems, character progress/evolution comes from certain failure conditions. XP exclusively rewarded for failure in Skill Challenges would have had a few advantages:

1) It may have reduced certain groups' apparent propensity for having to deal with "bad-faith" attempts at leveraging Skills that are mismatched with the current fictional positioning. However, it also may have done nothing as if those "bad-faith" players were only interested in "winning the stakes" rather than "winning the XP", obviously no change would have occurred. Respect for fictional positioning by a singular player, the group as a unit, and/or demand for respect of fictional positioning by GMs (fictional positioning or genre credibility test - hat tip @pemerton for language) can only be driven so far by system impetus. If you want to Step On Up and disregard the fictional positioning, you can do it with almost any game engine (obviously some make it mostly or completely dysfunctional/prohibitive).

2) It would have been a legitimate piece of system machinery that drove character evolution of Big Damn Heroes by way of thematic setback, fallout, failure, loss, and adversity. It would have then fed back naturally into the Quest System, setting up the heroic comeback to address/avenge the loss endured, right the wrong, or perform the rescue in the nick of time, etc.

So after that wee bit of analysis, I hope we're all in agreement what a simple change such as that has ramifications to a system and the play it engenders at the table (Later, they revised XP to be earned on both success and failure of Skill Challenges...but this also doesn't have the same potential effect upon play as XP exclusively upon failure). I'm curious as to what @innerdude 's, @Imaro 's, and @Ratskinner 's thoughts would have been, personally, if XP on Skill Challenges would have been rewarded exclusively upon failure. Further, if you guys could try to extrapolate what the majority cross-section of the greater D&D culture may have initially thought if that was the case.
 
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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Remind me again why it's a good idea to reward failure?

1_statler_waldorf.jpg


I don't know but I keep replying to your posts anyway!
rimshot.gif
 

With regards to the Wall of Force.

The caster can form the wall into a flat,
vertical plane whose area is up to one 10-
foot square per level. The wall must be
continuous and unbroken when formed. If
its surface is broken by any object or
creature, the spell fails.


Won't work.

Edit: Also, the minimum size of that Wall of Force is going to be 90 sq feet which is larger than a dragons throat anyway.
so if the min wall of force is 90sq feet and you are in a 8ft high 10ft wide dungeon you can't use it because it would only be 80sq ft??
and what does the words "up to" in this mean to you?

Is the wall continues and unbroken? Yes it only is taking up the 'air' space
 

XunValdorl_of_Kilsek

Banned
Banned
so if the min wall of force is 90sq feet and you are in a 8ft high 10ft wide dungeon you can't use it because it would only be 80sq ft??
and what does the words "up to" in this mean to you?

Is the wall continues and unbroken? Yes it only is taking up the 'air' space

Dragon also has a tongue, teeth, and the yoke that hangs at the back of the throat so these things could be seen as objects and obstruct the wall from being created.

Look, at the end of the day, someone can :):):):):):):):) all they like but it's not going to work unless good old DM fiat steps in,
 

Remind me again why it's a good idea to reward failure?

I'm sure I;m opening yet another can of worms here... but I think it is only OK to reward failure once in a blue moon, I do not like the idea of fail forward.

I once played a Drow wizard/thief who had tried to claim a small island, it had 2 dungeons on it. So me and my friends started by cleaning out the undead in the large mansion (Like I think it was over 100 rooms mansion) and in the basement was a door. The door had 3 magic wards and a HUGE lock that looked like it was ment for a oger or small giant. I decided to try to open it. at low level I failed...by a lot and got zapped.
me and the guys set up our own ward (Just in case) and went to the first fo those two ddungeons. When we finished that one (and made friends with the kobolds that lived there) we had leveled up so I tried again... I still failed.
so we went to the shark people dungeon, and two PCs died, one I "resurrected" as a golem the other just made a new PC... we went up some levels and I tried again... and failed.
so umpteen levels later we had long since stoped trying to open the door, and just did other adventures... there was no "fail forward" there was just fail... and years later the DM told us what was behind the door...
 


Ratskinner

Adventurer
I've said before (on more than one occasion...and on one in particular I did an in-depth analysis on the DMG and PHB) that I believe either (i) there were "too many cooks in the kitchen" or (ii) a dissonant editorial voice on the initial 4e books. Although I find the DMG1 to be a very solid book in many ways, the quality and focus of DMG2 and NCS in conveying 4e's machinery for play as a functional Story Now/Step on Up vessel. It is undoubtedly a High Concept Simulation as it attempts to emulate mythic hero and action movie physics while eschewing gritty process simulation.

For better or worse, by the time DMG2 was released, the 4e ship had already sailed for me and my disintegrating group(s), and I don't think I'm nearly alone in that. My son and his friends have picked it up, with a different kid DMing...they play it (from what I've seen) in a very competitive tactical gamist mode. I'm not really sure... can anyone comment on what advice vis-a-vis this type of thing is present in the later Essentials stuff?

Honestly, IMO, I don't find 4e to be a very good High Concept Simulator for the things you mention at the story/plot level. It does get across, quite annoyingly and forcibly IMO, the superhero/action-movie physics at a smaller tactical level. However, I just don't see much in 4e that does anything on a grander scale other than get out of the way a bit better than perhaps all the previous editions.

Concurrent to the game's initial release, there were dozens of WotC articles focused on breaking out the premise, purpose, and mechanical functionality of Skill Challenges. All of those comported with my initial thoughts when reading about their inclusion; "A Unified Conflict Resolution framework to establish stakes, resolve the conflict, be determinative of the outcome of what is at stake, and guide/propel follow-up conflicts (a la DitV)." The only thing (as I noted above) that gave me pause was "why did they miss the opportunity to grant XP for failure exclusively, rather than granting it for success?" I was puzzled by that. There are many mechanisms at work to functional Story Now play and what I've outlined above regarding conflict resolution is pretty close to SoP. However, in most of those systems, character progress/evolution comes from certain failure conditions. XP exclusively rewarded for failure in Skill Challenges would have had a few advantages:

1) It may have reduced certain groups' apparent propensity for having to deal with "bad-faith" attempts at leveraging Skills that are mismatched with the current fictional positioning. However, it also may have done nothing as if those "bad-faith" players were only interested in "winning the stakes" rather than "winning the XP", obviously no change would have occurred. Respect for fictional positioning by a singular player, the group as a unit, and/or demand for respect of fictional positioning by GMs (fictional positioning or genre credibility test - hat tip @pemerton for language) can only be driven so far by system impetus. If you want to Step On Up and disregard the fictional positioning, you can do it with almost any game engine (obviously some make it mostly or completely dysfunctional/prohibitive).

2) It would have been a legitimate piece of system machinery that drove character evolution of Big Damn Heroes by way of thematic setback, fallout, failure, loss, and adversity. It would have then fed back naturally into the Quest System, setting up the heroic comeback to address/avenge the loss endured, right the wrong, or perform the rescue in the nick of time, etc.

So after that wee bit of analysis, I hope we're all in agreement what a simple change such as that has ramifications to a system and the play it engenders at the table (Later, they revised XP to be earned on both success and failure of Skill Challenges...but this also doesn't have the same potential effect upon play as XP exclusively upon failure). I'm curious as to what @innerdude 's, @Imaro 's, and @Ratskinner 's thoughts would have been, personally, if XP on Skill Challenges would have been rewarded exclusively upon failure. Further, if you guys could try to extrapolate what the majority cross-section of the greater D&D culture may have initially thought if that was the case.

I think it would have had one big impact, namely it would have caused groups to abandon the Skill Challenge mechanics even more quickly than they did. I say that because that would be such a reversal of D&D's inheritance from its gamist past where XP are a reward for success. I can't say I would consider that universally applicable. 4e play is pretty thin on the ground around here. I would also suspect that an even higher percentage of the audience would have rejected 4e out of hand for that reason...because that would make the game obviously a pile of <Forge-related pejorative>.

You may recall that the release-time skill challenge mechanics had some math issues that made failure a little more likely. I know that my group jumped on 4e as soon as it came out. I was very keen on the SC idea, but I don't think my players understood it very well...and then we got beaten up by it several times. IIRC, one of my players described our second session as a "carnival of failure" another conveyed his feelings after a botched tracking/interrogation challenge with a captive kobold with "Worst. Party. Ever." I very quickly backed away from Skill Challenges, and went back to stakes-setting and checks ad-hoc as I had for 3e. I know of at least two other DMs who did the same (at least as far as dropping Skill Challenges). If my experiences and this guy's are any judge, whatever came out in DMG2 was too late to help most groups.

As for your two points above...I obviously can't really say.

However, as Imaro and innerdude have commented above. Really, the presentation in the first round of printed books does a good job of hiding any of it non-gamist strengths. The Skill Challenge fiasco is only a minor part of why 4e strikes people that way. I doubt that you suggested tweak would do much to change it.

I'm a bit rushed right now, so I may have more to say on this later upon further consideration.
 

S'mon

Legend
Honestly, IMO, I don't find 4e to be a very good High Concept Simulator for the things you mention at the story/plot level. It does get across, quite annoyingly and forcibly IMO, the superhero/action-movie physics at a smaller tactical level. However, I just don't see much in 4e that does anything on a grander scale other than get out of the way a bit better than perhaps all the previous editions.

It gets out of the way, yes. It also provides a lot of Dramatist fluff, especially in the
Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies. I once asked about techniques for making effective use of that fluff in-play on rpgnet and got peanuts thrown at me - I was doing it wrong, the fluff was trivial and should be ignored/reskinned, only the combat-crunch mattered... and that was from pro-4e people.

Judging by my experience there, Pemertonian 4e is definitely a minority taste.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
If you want to Step On Up and disregard the fictional positioning, you can do it with almost any game engine (obviously some make it mostly or completely dysfunctional/prohibitive).

I think you can do it, you just need to make fictional positioning an important factor in resolution - so that if it's missing, you can't proceed with resolution. It'd be like taking away the die roll: if the system calls for a die roll to determine success or failure, and you don't make one, you can't resolve the action. Replace "die roll" with "the character's action". It's somewhat tricky and relies on judgement calls but you can do it.

One way to do it (which I use) is to replace the skills with backgrounds. You can say, "I Intimidate him" and ignore the fictional positioning and gain your success/failure; you can't say, "I Guild Thief him" and proceed, because we don't know what action to resolve.

4E is supposed to work this way (statement of action determines skill; skill determines modifier; modifier + roll determines success/failure of stated action) but it's easy to skip over the action and proceed with skill checks and success/failure alone.
 

pemerton

Legend
I must say that these descriptions match my experience and observations of 4e "in the wild"
A (genuine) question: if 4e has been mostly played in a gamist fashion, and has been at best a lacklustre publishing success, is that evidence that it is or isn't the most gamist version of D&D? Do we judge the character of a game by how people approach it, or by what it does well?

I mean, it seems that millions of people are still happily playing gamist classic D&D, which suggests it's good at what it does. Is a version that fails when played the same way, is that evidence that it's even more gamist (the most gamist) in orientation?
 

pemerton

Legend
Remind me again why it's a good idea to reward failure?
Because it creates an incentive for the players to not always bring their biggest numbers to bear. Which can solve a lot of other problems - for instance, it means that the players are less likely to push so hard on the numerical boundaries of resolution, which in turn relieves the pressure on those aspects of the system.

The game I know best that exemplifies this design feature is Burning Wheel.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think you can do it, you just need to make fictional positioning an important factor in resolution - so that if it's missing, you can't proceed with resolution.

<snip>

4E is supposed to work this way (statement of action determines skill; skill determines modifier; modifier + roll determines success/failure of stated action) but it's easy to skip over the action and proceed with skill checks and success/failure alone.
Agreed.

In combat resolution, the minimal fictional positioning required is position. (The mechanics quite obviously don't care about the grittier details of fighting, like whether you swing high or low.)

In non-combat resolution, the skill challenge chapter in the DMG certainly suggests that it should proceed as Lost Soul describes: GM states situation, player declares PC's action in fictional terms, a skill is then settled on and resolved, and the GM narrates consequence having regard to success or failure, which also then reframes things for the next check. If you follow this procedure you can't lose the fictional positioning, because the GM can't narrate/reframe if s/he doesn't know what the PC actually did in the fiction. And consider, for example, this on p 74:

Sometimes, a player tells you, “I want to make a Diplomacy check to convince the duke that helping us is in his best interest.” That’s great—the player has told you what she’s doing and what skill she’s using to do it. Other times, a player will say, “I want to make a Diplomacy check.” In such a case, prompt the player to give more information about how the character is using that skill.​

But other aspects of the same chapter are not that helpful, though. For instance, it is not at all clear what the purpose is of the list of primary skills, or of the description of actions in the skill challenge examples. I've always interpreted these as "GM notes" comparable to tactical notes in a combat encounter - ie some ideas, worked out in advance, about how things might unfold if the players make some of the more obvious choices. But if they are interpreted more strongly, as something like a determinative menu, then of course the fictional positioning drops out and a bland railroad emerges instead.
 

Hussar

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

Gmforpowergamers - the point you are missing is that your ruling of success while fun for your group would not be fun for everyone.

It worked for you. Great. At my table it would not. Nor would I find that a great moment if I was a player.

No one is saying you are wrong. Just that your tastes are not universal.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
When looking at "rewarding failure" it's good to keep in mind that the only "failure" that usually happens is that the dice rolled low. "Rewarding failure" is an issue when a player makes a really bad decision that isn't interesting enough to get a fudge pass, but when "failure" is "this little hunk of plastic rolled with a low-numbered face up" what exactly are you trying to punish?

--

4E's tendency to get out of the way is much of why I cherish it - I can focus on exciting story details and my terrible voice acting instead of niggling rules details. This is, of course, a matter of play style and preference.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Do we judge the character of a game by how people approach it, or by what it does well?

A good question. My first reaction was "By how people approach it, because the GNS theory was aimed at describing play." However, that's not sitting very well with me. Additionally, the game doesn't exist in a vacuum, different groups will come at it with different capacities as well as interests. If the game does something well, but that's being ignored by a good portion of its audience...how much/or what kind of credit does it deserve for that?

A (genuine) question: if 4e has been mostly played in a gamist fashion, and has been at best a lacklustre publishing success, is that evidence that it is or isn't the most gamist version of D&D?<snip>

I mean, it seems that millions of people are still happily playing gamist classic D&D, which suggests it's good at what it does. Is a version that fails when played the same way, is that evidence that it's even more gamist (the most gamist) in orientation?

Personally, I doubt that any of the three poles of GNS is a refined enough descriptor/measure/characteristic to make or break a game or judge its relative sales (and vice versa). All gamism, to whatever degree, is not created equal. So if you take Star Fleet Battles, and re-skin the ships as characters and monsters...do you suddenly have a better gamist D&D? I wouldn't think so.

I mean, the most gamist guy I know is rabidly anti-4e. Not because of any of the issues we've been discussing here, but because he feels its fundamentally wrong (more importantly "not D&D") for a Kobold to ever have more than single-digit HP. He utterly despises the idea of reskinning or levelling monsters up or down (even though he admits having no problems with eight different varieties of 1e orcs at different HD from various sources). For him (and to a lesser degree some other folks I know) its simply that 4e uses some of the same things he's used to, but does it "wrong" in either calibration or quality...He's one of those that considers 4e to be an excellent skirmish game, but simply "not D&D".

Additionally, there's mechanical fiddliness. Which applies to some degree to both WotC editions. For him, and even myself to a degree, 4e characters seem like a lot of work and fiddly bits for the gain that you get. 3e has a similar problem, but for some reason it doesn't seem to feel very bad that way until you get to the 7th-10th level range (variable with class, and items).
 

I think you can do it, you just need to make fictional positioning an important factor in resolution - so that if it's missing, you can't proceed with resolution. It'd be like taking away the die roll: if the system calls for a die roll to determine success or failure, and you don't make one, you can't resolve the action. Replace "die roll" with "the character's action". It's somewhat tricky and relies on judgement calls but you can do it.

One way to do it (which I use) is to replace the skills with backgrounds. You can say, "I Intimidate him" and ignore the fictional positioning and gain your success/failure; you can't say, "I Guild Thief him" and proceed, because we don't know what action to resolve.

In non-combat resolution, the skill challenge chapter in the DMG certainly suggests that it should proceed as Lost Soul describes: GM states situation, player declares PC's action in fictional terms, a skill is then settled on and resolved, and the GM narrates consequence having regard to success or failure, which also then reframes things for the next check. If you follow this procedure you can't lose the fictional positioning, because the GM can't narrate/reframe if s/he doesn't know what the PC actually did in the fiction.

Yup. I (of course) agree. I was intimating what LostSoul states here:

4E is supposed to work this way (statement of action determines skill; skill determines modifier; modifier + roll determines success/failure of stated action) but it's easy to skip over the action and proceed with skill checks and success/failure alone.

I see people regularly dismiss 4e's analogue (the Skill Challenge) to other systems' noncombat conflict resolution framework, call it gamist, or "a gratuitous exercise in dice rolling." Unsurprisingly, they are performing the following tautology: "Because my group ignores fictional positioning when resolving Skill Challenges that means that fictional positioning is irrelevant to the resolution of Skill Challenges." Its a weird "blaming the victim" paradigm that should be self-evident.

If you have to convince the chamberlain to let you see the king and the chamberlain then challenges you to legitimize your authority to even request audience with the king (let alone have the audience granted), its only sensical for your approach to be constrained by the fictional positioning. Therefore, unless some contextual element of the fictional positioning is in play to warrant "using an Athletics check to exemplify your legitimacy by way of your might" (eg its a warrior culture, or the chamberlain sets you specifically against a champion, or he asks you to pull the sword from the stone, et al), it stands to reason that an Athletics check nets no forward movement (read: success) in your effort to achieve your sought ends (attaining audience with the king) and only serves to make the evolved fictional positioning absurd (or embarrassing to your character). For example:

GM: Surrounded by a contingent of well-armored pikemen, the stone-faced chamberlain appears unimpressed. He challenges you to legitimize your authority to even request audience with the king and his words echo off the cavernous, polished marble reception hall "I have a list as long as two men of respected Lords who are seeking audience with the King over land disputes. By what title, right, or precedence, beyond the frothing howls of the layfolk, do you demand the ear of the King?"

PC1: I use Acrobatics to run up the thin bannister and do a double backflip at the top, landing gracefully in a bow as I pull off my feathered hat in a single motion.

PC2: OH OH! I clean and jerk the nearest statue over my head with an Athletics check.

Another issue people seem to routinely blame the Skill Challenge framework for is the "failed check resulting in no reframe of the situation and no evolution of the fictional positioning." The old example:

PC: I use Diplomacy to convince him.
GM: Your Diplomacy check fails. You fail to convince him.

No fail forwards to move the scene forward. Then we get:

PC: I use Diplomacy HARDER to convince him MOAR!
GM: Your Diplomacy check succeeds. He seems convinced.

And then the GM follows up with absolutely nothing dynamic. No success with complications. Next PC picks a skill and rolls it.

Both of these examples of groups ignoring fictional positioning are routinely used to proclaim Skill Challenges as gamist or "gratuitous exercises in dice rolling." My answer to that is "well...yeah...if you outright ignore fictional positioning, make a mockery of it, or don't even attempt to reference it and evolve it...then yeah, I suppose the resultant gameplay would produce your anecdotal experience. How that is supposed to convince me about some inherent flaw in the construct itself, I don't know."

Lastly, there is the supposition that mechanical resolution of nonviolent conflicts are "rollplaying not roleplaying", espousing that noncombat conflict resolution is only legitimate and "organic" if players reference the fictional positioning (imagine that...) and work to strategically position themselves to convince the GM to rule favorably on behalf of their plan/plea/power-play. This last is a perfectly legitimate way to play and the aesthetic can be quite pleasing...but it is not the only way to play.
 


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