D&D 5E With Respect to the Door and Expectations....The REAL Reason 5e Can't Unite the Base

Hussar

Legend
/snip

Do you think then that there is a sort of double standard, if you will? That any intense scrutiny applied to a process sim mechanic on paper is not equally applied in your own mind? That you kinda give yourself a free pass, you don't really dig deeply into your own assumptions about the process so much?

For example, under intense scrutiny, hit points don't make sense because the PC is still fully capable at 1 hp as much as 100hp, according to D'karr. In your own mind, when you come up with some sort of hit point related narration, do you apply a similarly stringent standard of verisimilitudinous scrutiny, assessment and critique?

Again, swimming upthread. Sorry, busy, so commenting on stuff that's gone a bit past date. :D

Yes, I absolutely do subject both to the same amount of scrutiny. However, the questions and criteria of that scrutiny have to be different because they are different systems. The criteria of judging a prize cow is not the same as judging a gymnastics competition. Obviously.

The basic criteria is always, "is this achieving what we want at the table in as easy a way as possible, without pissing anyone off?" Ok, that's a bit tongue in cheek, but, it's got the basic gist. So, will non-process based sim mechanics work at a table that wants process based sim? No of course not.

For me, the breaking point is the 4e bard. I HATE the 4e bard. It's nails on the chalkboard time for me anytime a bard power is used in the game. Loathe it because I just cannot wrap my head around it and come up with any sort of believable scenario in my mind about what's going on when a bard does something.

So, I'm not totally without sympathy for those who talk about AEDU structure and the like. However, I would say that the difference is scale. There's a world of difference between not buying into a single class and not being able to buy into an entire system. Particularly when that system can be explained pretty easily by a thousand different examples from genre fiction. And, particularly when the cricitisms themselves are often so self-contradictory. It's okay to have this bit be dissociated, but that bit, nuh uh, that's bad.
 
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Nagol

Unimportant
Does D&D actually do process sim?

From my understanding of the terms and of D&D's mechanics, I don't think it does. Attack rolls, AC, and HP are too abstract. Even detailed resolution methods for grapples and trips are quite abstract - there's no "arm lock" going on there, just a grapple check. The same goes for saving throws - no one really cares how you leap out of the way with a Reflex Save or Save vs. Spells, and the process breaks down - do you draw an AoO for avoiding a Fireball, and if not, why not?

In contrast, henchmen loyalty in AD&D reads to me like process sim.

I could be wrong, but maybe the process sim = associated mechanics is a red herring.

When I read the following, I think dissociated mechanics have more to do with fictional positioning and their relationship to action resolution.

I agree; most of D&D is small-step results-sim. The players don't get to walk through the process of the small flurry of blows that result in a single hit. We get to determine the result of a round of combat. Contrast this with games like Hero where every blow, block, dodge, and hit is tracked.

There are process sims -- the hiring of henchmen in 1e as you point out and the pummel/grapple/overbear in both 1e and 3e are multi-step in-depth modeling of process and generally shunned for their complexities.

I say small-step result sims as to the simulation is broken down into generally very small chunks to avoid post-hoc narration and separation of mental vision/expectation between the participants.


To take our One-Handed Catch ability, for example, we could easily say: The player activates his gravitic force gloves (which have a limited number of charges per day) to pull the ball to his hand. Or he shouts a prayer to the God of Football who’s willing to help him a limited number of times per day. Or he activates one of the arcane tattoos he had a voodoo doctor inscribe on his palms.

These all sound pretty awesome, but each of them carries unique consequences. If it’s gravitic force gloves, can they be stolen or the gravitic field canceled? Can he shout a prayer to the God of Football if someone drops a silence spell on him? If he’s using an arcane tattoo, does that mean that the opposing team’s linebacker can use a dispel magic spell to disrupt the catch?

(This is getting to be a weird football game.)

Whatever explanation you come up with will have a meaningful impact on how the ability is used in the game. And that means that each and every one of them is a house rule.

Why is this a problem?

First, there’s a matter of principle. Once we’ve accepted that you need to immediately house rule the One-Handed Catch ability, we’ve accepted that the game designers gave us a busted rule that needs to be fixed before it can be used. The Rule 0 Fallacy (“this rule isn’t broken because I can fix it”) is a poor defense of any game.

But there’s also a practical problem: While it may be easy to fix a single ability like One-Handed Catch, a game filled with such abilities will require hundreds (or thousands) of house rules that you now need to create, keep track of, and use consistently. What is trivial for any single ability becomes a huge problem in bulk.​

That, to me, is a question about how players make meaningful decisions in the game, and which kinds of meaningful decisions the game is asking players to make.

Hero has the same basic premise -- powers work like this -- all expressions of a powers have the same basic structure. What Hero has that makes the system work better for me is an extra step where the character designer associates the power with in-world fiction and that association can then consistently be used to adjudicate interactions with the rest of the universe.

Power is through a device? Then it can be stolen, potentially broken, or otherwise incapaitated. Power is gravitic? Then an invisible object between the origin and the target is likely to get affected as well. Power is held in an arcane tattoo? A specific wound or magical suppression is necessary to stop the power (and thus the power costs more than the glove).

I find this association more tolerable than the pragmatic reskinning of powers to suit any situation that people talk about happening in 4e. This seems to be the best expression of my power this round, this is what I'll use. They've moved into a formation that invalidates that expression? I'll use this one instead.

This moves the power away from the character (he can do X because of Y) into a resource for the player (this is an ability you can always call on when playing this character; please attach it to the game world when you use it).
 

Underman

First Post
I agree; most of D&D is small-step results-sim.
Damn it, I adopted someone else's usage of "process-sim" as it doesn't pertain to D&D and allowed myself to get side-tracked with red herring semantics/labels... stupid, stupid, stupid.

OK, please carry on :)
 

Shadeydm

First Post
Yep - Come and Get It is a good one for an example, too.

If I'm actually having a character do the move, first of all, I am focussed on the options I have not used, to start with. I.e. I deliberately don't even think about the powers I have used this encounter/day at all, just the ones I still have available - including the "improvise something" option that is always there.

Next, I announce only that I am using the power, and the enemies that move as a result (there is, as is often the case, some business required with rolling dice and so on).

I (deliberately) don't announce what threats, goads, faked retreats, drawing feints or faux-openings that I am using to make the move work - just the fact of the move, and the resulting actions of enemies and any damage to them.

At the same time, I have a picture in my own head of how the character is achieving that result - of how that outcome comes to pass. I don't announce it, because it might well conflict with what another player could believe; it's up to them to take the bald facts of the outcome (generated by my decision to use CaGI and the system-generated outcome) and make their own movie, inside their own heads, of what that actually looks like in process terms.

Their "process movie" may very well be different to mine; it doesn't matter if this is so, provided that we both know what the outcome is as described by a game system that we both understand.

The game system is acting almost like a language. The words themselves are just abstract sounds, but as long as all the players have their own, compatible understanding of what those words mean, we can converse without having to draw pictures and make sound effects to try to recreate what we want to say.

This largely reflects my experience playing 4E. Most of the role playing seems to happen outside of combat, while in combat we see power announcements with little or no roleplaying. Nothing wrong with it but I can see where it can be perceived to discourage roleplaying.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Damn it, I adopted someone else's usage of "process-sim" as it doesn't pertain to D&D and allowed myself to get side-tracked with red herring semantics/labels... stupid, stupid, stupid.

OK, please carry on :)

Interestingly (for me anyway), 1e combat closer to a process-sim than 3.X. The segment counting, the ordering of intent, and possible interruption of action are all process forms.

Compare with 3.X's more flexible round.
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip

I find this association more tolerable than the pragmatic reskinning of powers to suit any situation that people talk about happening in 4e. This seems to be the best expression of my power this round, this is what I'll use. They've moved into a formation that invalidates that expression? I'll use this one instead.

This moves the power away from the character (he can do X because of Y) into a resource for the player (this is an ability you can always call on when playing this character; please attach it to the game world when you use it).

Yes, but, there is a danger here of painting with an overly large brush. It's pretty rare that you would change the skin of the power round by round. I'd say it's far, far more common that a power will remain virtually unchanged throughout the character's life. At least most powers work like this.

I know that my current warlock's powers have a single "skin" that has never changed since I created the character. Granted, these are "magic" powers, so, they get a pass. But, otoh, my Warlord that I played for a fair while also didn't have to reskin any of his powers from round to round. I can't recall any major issues with any of his powers. Again, granted, warlord powers almost always affect allies, so, it makes a certain degree of sense for his powers to function within the narrative of the game - it's not like his allies are going to say, "Oh, that opening in the baddies defenses you just pointed out? Naw, I don't want to hit that." :)

Outside of a very small number of problematic powers (the oft mentioned CaGI being a prime example), I have trouble thinking of any powers that need to be reskinned round by round, or even encounter to encounter.

I mean, take "tripping the ooze" as an example. That's one that gets held up as problematic. Ok, fine, you reskin the tripping power for that specific encounter and that specific creature. But, how often is this coming up in a campaign? How many oozes is the party facing over the course of fifteen or twenty levels?

Is is possible that you would have to reskin a power a bunch of times? Sure. But, is it likely?
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
On reskinning:

In the current 4E Hack game I am running, one of the PCs is a Warlock. We played through the creation of her Pact - with Baalzebul, whom I decided was obsessed with truth. (Devils in my game are obsessed with a specific moral or ethical belief, and it's their job to tempt mortals to betray it. The need for absolute purity in that belief leads them to hate mortals - because they are always disappointed by mortals who eventually betray that absolute belief.)

We reskinned her Eldritch Blast as a "ray of truth" that deals psychic damage. She's driven NPCs insane by forcing them to deal with the emotional impact of the multitude of their own lies over a lifetime, all at once. I think the fact that she could not use her Eldritch Blast against the centipede scuttler who was coming for her gave that reskinning meaning.

I think that has something to do with dissociated mechanics and process sim, but I'm not sure what. :)
 

pemerton

Legend
If as a player I say - I swing my sword and then I roll to see if my sword hits then that is very correlative. I could also say that I attack the enemy oer the course of one minute seeking for a key opening and stab when the chance arises. In either case my player is thinking exactly what my character is thinking.
Why does only one chance arise? Why not more than one?

If I have a finite number of manuevers that are finite for game balance reasons and in reality are finite in the fictional world then I have issue.
In AD&D you have a finite number of manouevres - no more than one attack per minute.

On the other hand - if as a player I say - right now at this moment is when I am going to find an opening in the enemies defenses so I can make my special thrusting attack - then that is dissociative.
What is the difference between "one opening per minute" and "one really good opening per five minutes"? Is it simply that "one opening per minute" is dictated by the general game rules, whereas "one really good opening per five minutes" is in part a function of the player's decision to use the power?

I agree; most of D&D is small-step results-sim.

<snip>

I say small-step result sims as to the simulation is broken down into generally very small chunks to avoid post-hoc narration and separation of mental vision/expectation between the participants.
This is an interesting point, although I think that post-hoc narration can still be required if the details of the events in the fiction are to be filled in. I'm thinking especially of AD&D saving throws (Gygax in the DMG talks about taking cover in a crevice which is clearly being narrated post-hoc, following the successful save having been rolled).

It seems to me that the measure of "small steps" or "post-hoc narration" being required, is highly group specific. Some groups care about the details of the blow, the armlock, the words spoken in a certain tone at a certain volume, whereas others are happy with "I attack", "I grapple the goblin", "I greet the Duke in a polite fashion". No matter how detailed we go, more detail can be requested and the imagined picture incomplete as it stands.

Hero has the same basic premise -- powers work like this -- all expressions of a powers have the same basic structure.

<snip>

I find this association more tolerable than the pragmatic reskinning of powers to suit any situation that people talk about happening in 4e.

<snip>

This moves the power away from the character (he can do X because of Y) into a resource for the player (this is an ability you can always call on when playing this character; please attach it to the game world when you use it).
Good points. I think that 4e more strongly inclines towards "powers as player resources" than "powers as PC abiltiies" than earlier versions of D&D.

But then there are examples that seem to push the other way: what is an AD&D fighter's 3/2 attack ability, if not a player resource? All it corresponds to in the fiction - given the abstractness of an AD&D melee round - is "skilled melee combatant", and at that level of generality the same description explains the resources that the player of a 4e fighter enjoys. Why does the AD&D ability nevertheless seem to be (near-)universally regarded as less dissociated? It seems to have something to do with the attack roll nevertheless expressing someting about the activities of the PC in the fiction (and so 3/2 attacks corresponds to more of those activites), whereas a 4e power like Come and Get It has an obvious director stance component. (But Rain of Blows, for example, doesn't, and I personally can't see that it is any more dissociated than a 3/2 attack rate.)

you haven't really associated CaGI with the taunt though.
The character can make that taunt every round of the combat.
The creature only runs over to get torn to pieces when the power is used in round 15. From a character's perspective there is no difference between the first unsuccessful 14 taunts and the last one or a taunt in any subsequent round (which can never be as successful since the Daily was used).
What I'm missing: how exactly is this different from the 1x/level rule for locks, and the 1x/campagin rule for bending bars and lifting gates, in AD&D?

I mean, how come the PC had a chance of success the first time, but not the second? Nothing in the gameworld has changed between those two attempts, unless you take the view that what the die roll really determines is how tough the lock/gate is - but in that case, the die roll is an exercise of director's stance, which is (ex hypothesi) "dissociated".

A similar question: from the point of view of the character, every stab in the minute of combat is indistinguishable. So how come the AD&D player only gets to roll one attack roll?
I think this might support LostSoul's contention that the "dissociation" issue is not really about process-sim at all.

I could be wrong, but maybe the process sim = associated mechanics is a red herring.

When I read the following, I think dissociated mechanics have more to do with fictional positioning and their relationship to action resolution.

<snip>

That, to me, is a question about how players make meaningful decisions in the game, and which kinds of meaningful decisions the game is asking players to make.
I think there may be something to this, but it is hard to work out exactly what is going on.

I mean, take the D&Dnext herbalism skill and healer's kits. Does a PC who expends a hit die falling use of a healer's kit have a bandage or poulstice somewhere on his/her body? And if so, can enemies therefore try to rip the bandage/poulstice off, thereby impeding the PC's performance and/or healing? The rules don't say. Is this an issue of dissociation, then?

Given that not every detail of the fiction can be filled in, and fictional positioning is, of necessity, therefore partial, is 4e special in this regard? Or is the point that 4e assumes that, in some situations, the player enjoys the power to resolve indeterminate positioning questions a certain way (via expenditure of a resource in the form of a power) whereas D&D has traditionally vested that power in the GM? Except that there have always been some player resources, like the 3/2 attacks in AD&D - which give the player the power to specify that, whatever is going on in that minute of melee, it opens up multiple opportunities to get in a good hit.

Anyway, here are some things that "dissociated" mechanics are not:
*Not metagame action resolution mechanics in general (eg action points are OK);
*Not director's stance mechanics (because an encounter power like Rain of Blows is no more director stance than AD&D 3/2 attacks);
*Not absence of process-sim (because D&D in general not process sim);
*Not mechanics that require/empower the player to think in ways that fail to parallel PC thinking (because D&D hit points have always given the player knowledge that the PC lacks, namely, when at low hp, that the next hit will be a bad one).​

Which leaves me less certain than ever about what they actually are.

One clear example I can think of that fits with the "fictional positioning" analysis is this: when an ooze is knocked "prone" in 4e, why does it impose a penalty on ranged attacks? After all, it is "off balance" (and hence granting combat advantage until it spends a move action to regain equilibrium) but presumably is no flatter to the ground. But this is a pretty corner case, and doesn't seem to be what those who are worried about "dissociated" mechanics have in mind.

1) is it controversial to suggest that an important purpose of "Simulationist" mechanics is to help keep everyone on the same page within the fiction?
That's not how I think of such mechanics. I think of their function being mostly an aesthetic one, to generate a tight correlation between activity being performed at the gaming table (rolling dice, calling out numbers, writing things down on scratch papers) and events unfolding in the shared fiction. It's not about keeping everyone on the same page, but rather doing so via a particular, distinctive technique.

2) is it controversial to suggest that "Process Sim" mechanics also help keep everyone on the same page (as above)?
No, provided they are good ones. When they are bad ones, they can cause problems. For example, in Rolemaster (i) movement occurs within the initiative sequence and reduces the combat pool, (ii) initiative is rolled every round, and (iii) before initiative is rolled, each player declares his/her PC's actions, including movement and split of combat pool between offence and defence.

What this combination of rules means is that, when two characters are physically separated on the battlefield, your PC can suffer "initiative purge" - you don't declare enough movement to get where you need to get, or you declare movement (costing pool which you could have allocated to defence) when you could have let the opponent move and attacked with a full combat pool. In other words, the rules force a type of discreteness - around round intervals - that is out-of-whack with the continuous nature of events in the fiction.

When this sort of thing happens, the mechanics don't reinforce everyone being on the same page. They cause a hiatus in the shared fiction.

3) is it controversial to suggest that "Process Sim" mechanics also help keep players in actor stance? (ie., the action is resolved by default with the same linear cause-and-effect that the player would experience through the POV of the PC)
My answer to this is a straightforward Yes. Rolemaster has proces-sim, but is easily played in author stance. Tunnels and Trolls seems to assume actor stance as a default approach, but has almost no process sim in its mechanics.

4) is it controversial to suggest that with non
-"Simulationist" and non-"Process Sim" mechanics, players are more frequently
realigning their understanding of the shared fiction as it is shaped throughout the course of game play.
Controversial, yes. Shared genre understandings can serve the purpose of establishing a shared fiction just as adequately a process sim, in my experience.

5) is it controversial to suggest that an abstract mechanic (like hit points) can be pragmatically simulationist (lower case 's') if/whenever all players are on the same page in the way they associate the mechanic to the game world?
Maybe not. I mean, if all the players treat hit point as meat, there won't be an issue. If they treat hit points as luck, though, then what is being simulated?

6) is it controversial to suggest that the quantity and quality of "Immersion" (or "in-character roleplaying") is increased when everyone has the same/similar understanding of the shared fiction (as helped by the rules/mechanics)?
Not sure. I've never really run a game where the content of the shared fiction has been uncertain enough for any extended period of time to be a noticeable factor in impeding in-character roleplaying.

It might be relevant that, in my game, what exactly is going on when a gelatinous cube is knocked "prone" has never come up as relevant to in-character roleplaying. Whereas this tends to be the sort of thing that is the target of the "dissociation" label.

Regarding the polymorph example, I agree it delivered immersion for the player of the paladin. It doesn't happen to deliver immersion for me the same reason I touched upon before:
the former mechanic (originally dissociated, then associated) could be dissociated yet again if the players start thinking or asking awkward questions about the scope of the Raven Queen's interventions and other polymorph-like spells that end so quickly as the adventure continues.
This seems to me to depend heavily on how many subsequent polymorph spells are usedby enemy NPCs, against which PCs, with what sorts of durations, and supporting what sorts of narrations. That's why I answered, last time, that "This sort of thing is handled through negotiation and give and take at the table - as one aspect of the general implementation of "yes, but . . .". " I mean, the simplest narration would be for the player of the paladin to note that the Raven Queen is helping his friends too! But more complex possibilities are obvious. The narration could be an opportunity for different players, in playing their PCs, to express disagreement about the power of the Raven Queen in the world. I don't think that this would reduce immersion, at least for my group. It would increase it.

But that's not something I feel I could implement to my preferences.
Fair enough. Without really having a sense of what those preferences are, I don't know that I can take this further, except to state that my own preferences, and the immersion of my players, don't require uniformity of narrated explanation for similar mechanical outcomes.

If the "problem" is that Process Sim falls apart "badly" upon scrutiny, then do you apply equal scrutiny to the post-hoc/ad-hoc narration made by players and DM?
Do you or do you not apply the same scrutiny to whenever a player uses a non-process-sim mechanic and narrates something equally ludicrous that falls apart badly under scrutiny?
So you solve the problem of process-sim by not talking about it?

Do you think then that there is a sort of double standard, if you will? That any intense scrutiny applied to a process sim mechanic on paper is not equally applied in your own mind? That you kinda give yourself a free pass, you don't really dig deeply into your own assumptions about the process so much?
Once you drop process-sim mechanics, different techniques are used to avoid ludicrousness. Namely, events are narrated in a fashion that fits with (i) the parameters provided via action resolution mechanics, and (ii) genre constraints. Because there is no universal correlation of action resolution outcome to particular event in the fiction - flexibility with respect to this is part of what it means to use non-process-sim mechanics - there is no general issue of ludicrous outcomes dictated by non-process-sim mechanics applied in a process-sim fashion.

Specifically, not only is the process part not described verbally, but the system is not taken to be a model or description of the process, either. <snip>
All the system has to do is produce a believable range of outcomes through the game
This fits with my thinking and experience on non-process sim action resolution.

The narration obviously varies from table to table. There are times when my players simply state what power they're using. Some times they describe what their doing. It depends on the mood.
This fits with my play experience. I think, on the whole, my group relies much more heavily on the mechanical outcomes of action resolution, and the difference that these make to the shared fiction, than on colourful descriptions, to develop the shared conception of what is going on in the gameworld.

This largely reflects my experience playing 4E. Most of the role playing seems to happen outside of combat, while in combat we see power announcements with little or no roleplaying. Nothing wrong with it but I can see where it can be perceived to discourage roleplaying.
I think this depends heavily on what you mean by "roleplaying". I don't think the 4e mechanics encourage rich descriptions of what a PC is doing (unless page 42 is in play). But nor do earier editions of D&D. On the other hand, I see much roleplaying in 4e combat in the form of actor stance decisions that are expressed both through actions taken and incharacter statements made: to other PCs; to NPCs and monsters; etc. And I think there are distinct features of 4e - especially the obvious effort to embed many facets of PC build, and most of the monsters, within a conflict-rich csomology - that conduce to this.

The earlier editions could be played either way. 4e could be played one way.
4e can be played in a range of ways, but doesn't lend itself especially well to either Gygaxian exploration-heavy gamism, nor to 2nd ed style GM-fiat-of-mechanics 2nd ed high concept sim. (I think LostSoul and others are right that it can do a form of high concept sim. I think Balesir is right that it can do a form of gamism.)

However, a handful of you guys seem rather hostile towards a certain playstyle (namely, using D&D for sim/immersion purposes) and it feels a whole lot like you're using this armchair academia like a club to beat people on the head.
I don't care what people do with their D&D - live and let live, I say! I do get irritated by being told, without any engagement with my numerous actual play posts, that my D&D is shallow, and a tactical skirmish game linked by occasional freeform improv. When the attribution of shallowness is fleshed out by reference to how much process sim my game is missing, then I'm certainly willing to talk about the relationship between D&D and process sim.
 

pemerton

Legend
On reskinning:

In the current 4E Hack game I am running, one of the PCs is a Warlock.

<snip>

We reskinned her Eldritch Blast as a "ray of truth" that deals psychic damage. She's driven NPCs insane by forcing them to deal with the emotional impact of the multitude of their own lies over a lifetime, all at once. I think the fact that she could not use her Eldritch Blast against the centipede scuttler who was coming for her gave that reskinning meaning.
When the bardic power Vicious Mockery has been discussed, I've suggested that, when used against (say) an ooze, or a zombie, what the bard is mocking is not the mindless thing in front of it, but (say) Juiblex, or Orcus. A bard's power to unravel things through mocking them presumably extends to the power of Juiblex or Orcus to give life to oozes and undead.

I would need to know more about the context of the centipede encounter to know whether or not I could narrate the "ray of truth" in a similar fashion.

I think this still preserves meaning, by the way - I think it makes a difference, in the fiction, that the bard has mocked Juiblex or Orcus. But the difference isn't an immediate difference to the action resolution. It's about the need to introduce some additional fictional content into the game, on which future consequences and complications might turn, in order to get the power is to work.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
I mean, take "tripping the ooze" as an example. That's one that gets held up as problematic. Ok, fine, you reskin the tripping power for that specific encounter and that specific creature. But, how often is this coming up in a campaign? How many oozes is the party facing over the course of fifteen or twenty levels?

Is is possible that you would have to reskin a power a bunch of times? Sure. But, is it likely?

I think a lot of the "issues" that seem to crop up about 4e have more to do with the terminology used by the mechanical aspect than the actual mechanics of the aspect.

Working with common usage English words within the mechanics seems to have this effect when not used as a keyword. For example, when I see the "Fire" keyword I take note of it from a mechanical aspect. It will probably do fire damage, possibly set objects ablaze, it has the possibility of inflicting ongoing damage, and I can even make the leap that "Cold" effects might hamper it. This all came from a simple keyword, a mechanical construct.

However, when the words prone or unconscious are used within a power they might refer to a mechanical condition, or the common language use, and sometimes both. This may create confusion for some. How can you knock an ooze, or a snake prone? How can a warlord shout you back to life if you are unconscious? If the mechanical terminology for prone were keywords such as "off-balance" or "extended", and the one for unconscious was "out-of-it" or "knocked-out", then the confusion can be alleviated/mitigated.

You can knock an ooze "off-balance" or "extended" the mechanical effect would be the same as the current "prone" condition. However, since I'm not using the common language usage of "prone" it is clear that I'm talking about a mechanical effect - the creature takes a -2 to attacks, grants combat advantage to adjacent creatures, and gains a +2 to defenses against ranged combatants.

If a combatant is "out-of-it" the mechanical aspects of it could be the same as the current "unconscious" condition. Except that when you are "out-of-it" you are drifting in and out of consciousness just as a boxer that has been knocked-out. This takes care of the language use of unconscious.

Bloodied is another one, but it is obviously understood that "bloodied" is a mechanical condition, whereas prone and unconscious can be attributed to a mechanical condition or to their common language use.

I never had a problem with it. Because I understood the mechanical framework. But explaining it that way, or better yet, presenting it that way would have gone a long way to alleviate the "issue".
 
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