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Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 06:09 PM
Last night I played a game of 4E with one of my regular DMs and I had a lot of fun. He had taken a one-shot from an old, obscure superhero system and redid it using 4E rules. We all had pre-gens and I took "The Spaniard" - a gun-fighter who uses the guns of his father.

Yeah, it was a lighthearted game :smallbiggrin:

The interesting thing is that I was the only person at the table of 7 (6+DM) who liked 4E. Everyone else ranged from "gosh that's a nice system, but not for Fantasy" (the DM) to "I'm only here for the snarking" ("Social Justice" Beckett, our literally flaming, communist leader). Now, by the end of the game everyone agreed that a good time was had by all (save The Snarker who left to take a nap halfway through), and yet none of them were a whit more enthusiastic about 4E. Well, I had to know why.

The answer? A unanimous "it limits my creativity too much;" which, frankly, shocked me, since everyone had taken their pre-gens and RP'd the heck out of 'em. After turning it over in my mind for a bit, I realized what it was - being unfamiliar with the system, they took one look at their character sheet (with powers all pre-calculated) and thought "huh, that's all I can do then."

I call this phenomenon "The Box;" players assume that a sufficiently detailed system forbids any non-described action - which is not the case, as a quick look at DMG 42 can tell you. These were all old school gamers (ex: they're getting together to play some Torg) who would have no problem taking a 2E Fighter and asking to deliver a flying kick from a chandelier even though the system could barely contemplate how to model it.

I am planning on running a 4E game for that DM and his wife (and others, including at least 1 player from my last game). Having just finished a greatly successful 4E campaign, I feel confident that I can run adventures which are more than moving miniatures on a grid, but I still need to figure out how to get these players out of The Box.

Anyone else run into this phenomenon? Suggestions? Thoughts?

EDIT:
Oh. Some details of the potential campaign
The characters (LV 6-7) will come to a substantial border mining town that has been having problems with resurgent orc raids. Upon arriving at the town, they will discover that a band of "patriots" from the rebellious province across the western mountain (A French Revolution-style Terror in an impoverished region) is already in town, dealing with the problem.

However, the Revolutionaries are trying to get the town's inhabitants to revolt against the local Duke and, being high level adventurers (possibly LV 11) they refuse to leave. In the meantime, they have allowed orcs to take over some of the Reeve's mines outside of town and have organized the workers of a nearby mine to capture it from the Reeve and operate it on their own. The Reeve knows that the Duke cannot spare any forces to fight off the Revolutionaries (they are dealing with a Army of Darkness on the southern border) and that his personal soldiers would not stand a chance.

Shortly after the PCs register at the town's gate (as all adventurers must), they will be summoned by the Reeve who has heard of the group's earlier exploits (well, the veteran player's anyhow) and asks them to free his mines from the orcs. He offers them rich rewards and says that if the PCs can also boot the Revolutionaries out, he would be provide a hefty bonus.

Currently, the town is undecided. Some have sympathies with the Revolutionaries, but few have actually thrown their lot in with them. The town's elite (merchants and landowners) oppose the Revolutionaries, but lack the force to throw them out - and even if they did, the Revolutionaries are the only thing keeping the orcs from raiding the town proper. Most of the town's population is undecided, but they would certainly be impressed by whomever resolves the orcish threat.

The Reeve's plan is to get rid of the orcs and then use their success (and the lack of threat) to get the town's population to reject the Revolutionaries. The Revolutionaries are slowly, but surely, building up fervor for a Revolution - they are generating goodwill among the working class, and if the People's Mine does well enough, they should be able to convince the townies that they don't need merchants and landowners to survive. In the meantime, both sides are avoiding violent conflict inside the town, lest chaos and suffering ensue. The PCs can choose a side, and, as the only other power in town, will be heavily recruited by both factions.

Social interaction clearly plays a large role in the campaign, but there is potential for all kinds of battles and skirmishes too. Skill Challenges for moving about the mountains and rallying the people should be fun too. I plan to showcase the best features of 4E while making sure everyone has a grand ol' time :smallbiggrin:

Starbuck_II
2009-04-24, 06:25 PM
Add some new powers they get in addition to current:
1) At will: Break the box: must think out side box. Must use page 42 situation like swinging from chandelier.

2) Encounter: Talk about the 4th all: Must think outside box. Must use page 42 situation like swining from chandelier. But get +2 bonus.

3) Daily: What Box? Must think outside box. Must use page 42 situation like swining from chandelier. But get +4 bonus.

You get the idea. You need to remind them that thinking outside the box is one of 4th's main usages.

That was why page 42 was invented.

Also remind them you are very likely to say "yes, you can do that" if they want to do an off the wall situation.

In 3rd, I've had DMs who won't let you for one reason (or another): or make the chances low.

Kurald Galain
2009-04-24, 06:35 PM
I call this phenomenon "The Box;" players assume that a sufficiently detailed system forbids any non-described action - which is not the case, as a quick look at DMG 42 can tell you.
Not quite, because this "box" applies far less to 3E or to GURPS. But it is true that many parts of the 4E rulebooks at least imply that each turn you are supposed to use One Of Your Powers (or, equivalently, point out that you can do whatever you like, but unless you are using One Of Your Powers your action is going to be pretty pointless).

For instance, let's take a battle on shipboard. Can I pick up a rope and use it to entangle an opponent? Well, no. Can I pick up an opponent and toss him overboard? Nope, can't do that either. Can I circle the mast to keep it between me and an opponent and use it for defense? Oops, nope again. The deck is stacked so that in each of these cases the DM can make something up, but this "something" very likely has a greater chance of failure and less effect on a success than just using One Of Your Powers.

It really begs the question that if you want players to do wildly creative things during action scenes, why on earth are you playing 4E? It's not what it's written for, and while it can be played that way, it's an uphill battle against the system. Sure, you can smash a nail into a wall using a screwdriver, but why would you want to?

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 06:42 PM
Add some new powers they get in addition to current:
1) At will: Break the box: must think out side box. Must use page 42 situation like swinging from chandelier.

2) Encounter: Talk about the 4th all: Must think outside box. Must use page 42 situation like swining from chandelier. But get +2 bonus.

3) Daily: What Box? Must think outside box. Must use page 42 situation like swining from chandelier. But get +4 bonus.
Hmm! That's a great idea!

The At Will will be low damage, the Encounter will be medium damage, and the Daily will be high. I'll write the card and say "to use this, you need to figure out a cool way to do it." And I'll note that Encounter and Daily powers can stage their damage down to do an appropriate status effect / movement power as well. Encounter statuses will be "Turn" duration, and Dailies will be "Save Ends." Mostly, they'll target NADs.

At 7th level, they should have enough other powers that they will still use the power system but this will provide them some nice flavor.

OK, here's some thoughts:
At Will
- get the foe to walk into something while blind
- throwing boiling water or torches at someone
- dropping a flower pot on someone's head

Encounter
- get the foe to stumble over a hidden impediment (+Slow)
- throwing a torch at the foe after they walk into a pool of tar
- dropping a chandelier on someone

Daily
- getting your foe to charge into a concealed pitchfork
- dropping a barrel of tar on your foe who is holding a torch
- shove a stone pillar over on someone

EDIT:

It really begs the question that if you want players to do wildly creative things during action scenes, why on earth are you playing 4E? It's not what it's written for, and while it can be played that way, it's an uphill battle against the system. Sure, you can smash a nail into a wall using a screwdriver, but why would you want to?
Now that's hardly fair. Unlike some systems I've used, 4E provides an easy way to consistently systematize Things The Rules Don't Cover (DMG 42) - if you already improvise, 4E can smoothly implement your desires.

The problem is that a new player looks at their sheet and sees that they have special actions and figures that's all they can do. It's a psychological issue - the players in my last 4E campaign had no problem coming up with "interesting" plans largely because they all came from narrative-style gaming traditions.

Starbuck_II
2009-04-24, 06:45 PM
For instance, let's take a battle on shipboard. Can I pick up a rope and use it to entangle an opponent? Well, no.

Not to quote the DMG, but "yes. you can".
Step 1: Pick up a rope,
Step 2: tie them up
Step 3: Profit.



Can I pick up an opponent and toss him overboard? Nope, can't do that either.

Yes, but wouldn't a bull rush be smarter than picking someone up? Even in 3rd picking someone up was not an actual written example of actions.

Either grabbing (grapple in 3rd) someone and moving them or some sort of Str useage required.


Can I circle the mast to keep it between me and an opponent and use it for defense? Oops, nope again.

Yes, you can...but just like in 3rd they can move around it to attack you too. They justy can't shift to you.

I mean, those aren't denied in 4th. Kurald...you seem in the box.

Armoury99
2009-04-24, 06:51 PM
This is interesting... because the comments of Oracle Hunter's mirrors my own gaming group's attitudes, about six months into our year long 'exploration by campaign' of the new edition.

Nobody hates it, but no one seriously believes we'll bother going back to it when the campaign is over - except for one-offs and tournaments, which interestingly everyone thinks its perfect for. There a few other quibbles with the system, mainly "characters are a bit too similar outside of powers" and several which are simply matters of taste ("I just miss Vancian casting" for example) but the main complaint is exactly what you described.

We know that page 42 covers chandelier swinging and other odd rules perfectly well, but the main sticking point isn't that sort of situation; its when PCs want to try something that's clearly a Power they don't have. Sometimes its a Power possessed by another class (the wizard tries to disarm a foe with her staff, for example) and sometimes its an action similar to a power the PC could have picked but didn't.

While we're all aware that you could improvise based on p42 or a similar Power, we can't help but feel that its stepping on the toes of those PCs that do have the appropriate power. 'Once in lifetime' situations we can easily overlook, but both DM and players think that the fun of creative combat activity and desperate gonzo strategies they enjoy in previous editions (and other systems) is somewhat stifled here.

In our case at least, its not so much a case of being unwilling/discouraged to think outside the box, but the fact that they were given the box in the first place means some things have been put in it. :smallamused:

Just my 2 cents

Eldan
2009-04-24, 07:10 PM
Heck, I know this. I've started a game of 3.5 over chat a few days ago (two sessions so far.) Since I could only get two of my old friends to play, one of them brought in someone he knew from work. The guy already knew the rules pretty well from playing nothing but NWN for years (came in with a half-done swashbuckler character and a backstory, despite never playing DnD outside the ocmputer).
However, problems like these do come up...
"But I don't have a skill to fly the airship..."

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 07:13 PM
We know that page 42 covers chandelier swinging and other odd rules perfectly well, but the main sticking point isn't that sort of situation; its when PCs want to try something that's clearly a Power they don't have. Sometimes its a Power possessed by another class (the wizard tries to disarm a foe with her staff, for example) and sometimes its an action similar to a power the PC could have picked but didn't.

While we're all aware that you could improvise based on p42 or a similar Power, we can't help but feel that its stepping on the toes of those PCs that do have the appropriate power. 'Once in lifetime' situations we can easily overlook, but both DM and players think that the fun of creative combat activity and desperate gonzo strategies they enjoy in previous editions (and other systems) is somewhat stifled here.

In our case at least, its not so much a case of being unwilling/discouraged to think outside the box, but the fact that they were given the box in the first place means some things have been put in it. :smallamused:
Ah yes, this is the mentality exactly. I think partly, this may come from the removal of Trip, Disarm, and Sunder actions in 4E - they were ridiculously effective in 3E, so people want to keep doing them all the time. But your point about "stepping on toes" is well taken.

So, revision
I will give each player an Encounter "Wild Card" (instead of a At-Will, Encounter, and Daily - too complicated) and put in more atmospheric features in every encounter. Normal terrain of course, but also something like "dry moss" or "leaky barrel of tar" or "chandeliers are tied up here." The Wild Card is written for using those features - they can be used to fiat certain cinematic events; events I would allow normally, but this gives the players a greater confidence. I'll put a static to-hit and damage bonus on that power (maybe +2) to note that the Wild Cards are extra-special; you can do the same things without a Wild Card too.

I'll also note +Daze/Slow/Blind/Immobilize so that they'll be thinking about imposing status effects too; I'll determine how long they last on the fly.

Thane of Fife
2009-04-24, 07:34 PM
This is something which I had considered when I first heard about 4e's power system, and it may be the complete opposite of what you want. But here it is anyway.

One could create powers specific to an environment rather than to a character.

For example:

Chandelier Swing (Martial, Encounter)
Dexterity vs Reflex

(lets you fly two squares and attack)
Hit: 2[W] and knock target prone
Special: You automatically have Combat Advantage for the purposes of this power.

I don't really know how 4e powers are supposed to look, but I think it's something like that.

You could make a number of 'environment-based' powers. Tell the players they exist, but not what they are. They need to try stuff to have the opportunities to use the powers.

Most will be physical in nature, but you could make some based off of different power sources, too: Summoning circles might allow arcane characters to summon demons,

Eventually they'll start doing stuff you didn't think of. Probably.

On the other hand, that feels a bit board-gamey.

Saph
2009-04-24, 07:35 PM
I call this phenomenon "The Box;" players assume that a sufficiently detailed system forbids any non-described action - which is not the case, as a quick look at DMG 42 can tell you.

I think you've answered your own question here, Oracle. Count up how many pages of the 4e rulebooks list detailed powers which you're allowed to do. By my count there's at least a hundred and twenty-five in the PHB alone.

Now count up how many pages there are describing how to do non-detailed actions. As far as I know, there's one. And it's in the DMG. Which 90% of players aren't going to read.

So you really shouldn't be surprised when players aren't basing their playstyle around one single page in the DMG which they haven't even read. For better or worse, 4e has a strong emphasis on acting 'inside the box' rather than 'outside the box'. Everything is very heavily structured.

- Saph

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 07:39 PM
One could create powers specific to an environment rather than to a character.
It's a neat idea, but it kind of reduces the incentive for inventiveness. People will start looking for set-pieces to trigger, rather than finding interesting ways to interact with the environment.

EDIT:

I think you've answered your own question here, Oracle. Count up how many pages of the 4e rulebooks list detailed powers which you're allowed to do. By my count there's at least a hundred and twenty-five in the PHB alone.

Now count up how many pages there are describing how to do non-detailed actions. As far as I know, there's one. And it's in the DMG. Which 90% of players aren't going to read.

So you really shouldn't be surprised when players aren't basing their playstyle around one single page in the DMG which they haven't even read. For better or worse, 4e has a strong emphasis on acting 'inside the box' rather than 'outside the box'. Everything is very heavily structured.
But that's like saying "you can't roleplay without roleplaying rules;" after all, how many pages in any PHB are devoted to roleplaying as compared to running a game system?

Besides, why should a player need to read a page of rules to learn that they are acting out people, not set-pieces in a board game. I understand that 4E is very detailed - some may say overly detailed - but it obviously does not prevent non-detailed action. However, something about how the system is presented causes people to forget that they can do things that people can do - swing on ropes, light things on fire - even if it's not written down on a page. That is the mentality I'm trying to fix, not enforce :smallannoyed:

Asbestos
2009-04-24, 07:39 PM
Some of the delves in the Dangerous Delves (or whatever it is) book have things like this built in. For example, one contains a room with big ol' cauldron in it. With a Str check the PCs can tip the cauldron which causes a blast attack that does fire damage and knocks people prone and the squares that the cauldron was on are now a zone of difficult terrain that deals fire damage.

Now, it might be a pain to build something like that into every encounter, but it might be fun to have something not too obvious but kinda awesome built in sometimes.

Edit: You make a good point in your above post though, OH.

tcrudisi
2009-04-24, 07:54 PM
Now count up how many pages there are describing how to do non-detailed actions. As far as I know, there's one. And it's in the DMG. Which 90% of players aren't going to read.

So you really shouldn't be surprised when players aren't basing their playstyle around one single page in the DMG which they haven't even read. For better or worse, 4e has a strong emphasis on acting 'inside the box' rather than 'outside the box'. Everything is very heavily structured.

I have to disagree with that statement, Saph. I know when I picked up the 4e trilogy and skimmed through it, I immediately felt like a great weight was lifted off my creativity. It felt as though I could do so many more things with 4e than I ever could with 3.x. (Now, before an edition flame-war begins, I very much enjoyed 3.x. I'm not saying that 4e is better than 3.x, only that it is more flexible.)

Yes, that one page in the DMG actually allows players to do almost everything in a combat. If it's not covered in the PHB, it's covered in that one page in the DMG. That's the first thing I tell every single new player in 4e whenever I run a game or play in one with them: "Here are your powers. They tell you what you do as a sort of basic action. Here are your skills. See where you have Acrobatics and Athletics? If you want to swing from a chandelier and flying jump kick an ogre into a fire, you can do it. You will just use those instead. In fact, if you ever want to do something like that, bring it up to the DM and let him work out the details. It'll usually do more damage than your normal attack." I just feel that when I tried something like that in 3.x I always received a blank look back from the DM. Now when I try something like that, they flip to page 42 and voila, it can be done.

Yeah, it IS in the DMG and not the PHB. That just means it is the DMG's responsibility to let the players know that it is there.

Saph
2009-04-24, 07:58 PM
Besides, why should a player need to read a page of rules to learn that they are acting out people, not set-pieces in a board game. I understand that 4E is very detailed - some may say overly detailed - but it obviously does not prevent non-detailed action. However, something about how the system is presented causes people to forget that they can do things that people can do - swing on ropes, light things on fire - even if it's not written down on a page. That is the mentality I'm trying to fix, not enforce :smallannoyed:

*shrug* You asked where it came from, I told you. If you give someone a long list of powers, they're going to be thinking about how to use those powers, not how to come up with new ones. The core books spend literally hundreds of pages listing powers and pretty much no time at all describing alternatives to them.

If you look at the 4e modules that have been released so far, WotC DOES seem to be designing 4e on the assumption that players will stay strictly 'inside the box'. You use your attack powers to kill the monsters, you use your skills to win the skill challenges. You don't need to get creative.

If you want to 'fix' this attitude, then the simplest way to do it would be to break the 4e structure. Give the PCs situations where their stock powers are utterly useless. E.g., a monster with infinite hit points. The only way the PCs can beat it is to interact with the environment in some way - hit the right combination of gems, or whatever, or maybe just keep on avoiding it while they complete their mission. Or a 'skill challenge' which can't be beaten by rolling skill checks, but can only be passed by coming up with the correct solution. More like the 1e method of doing things.

- Saph

Jerthanis
2009-04-24, 08:22 PM
"The box" is comfortable sometimes. It lets me plan my action before it's my turn so that I have the dice in hand that I'll need to roll and the spaces counted out that I need to move. Every question I need to ask my DM is another moment taken to slow the game's progress, "Can I kick over these boxes to block the stairway?" "Yes, but it'll be your standard action." "Huh, what if I slam the door shut on the tentacle that has my friend grabbed?" "That'll damage the monster, but the door might break before the tentacle." "Hmm... how hard would it be to climb out the window and onto the roof?" "Uh... You'd need to roll kind of well." "Would I do any extra damage if I jump out the window and let my falling weight add force to my swing?"... each add another 10+ seconds to my round. Meanwhile, before my turn I can see I can Tide of Iron that one guy into a flanking position. Roll attack and damage together... 5-10 seconds total to resolve my round.

Uh... as such, you should do what you're already apparently doing and let players plan their actions before their turn hits by letting them know clearly ahead of time all the possible combinations of actions they can do, and what their opportunity costs would be.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 08:24 PM
That's the first thing I tell every single new player in 4e whenever I run a game or play in one with them: "Here are your powers. They tell you what you do as a sort of basic action. Here are your skills. See where you have Acrobatics and Athletics? If you want to swing from a chandelier and flying jump kick an ogre into a fire, you can do it. You will just use those instead. In fact, if you ever want to do something like that, bring it up to the DM and let him work out the details. It'll usually do more damage than your normal attack."
That's a very good introduction... and now that I think about it, it's what DM Chris Perkins did in the very first installment of the PA-PvP Podcast (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4pod/20080530). Huh, and I never even thought to do that :smallredface:

Jerthanis
2009-04-24, 08:35 PM
Uh... as such, you should do what you're already apparently doing and let players plan their actions before their turn hits by letting them know clearly ahead of time all the possible combinations of actions they can do, and what their opportunity costs would be.

What I mean by this isn't really that you should point to the map and say, "These barrels are full of lantern oil, are a DC 10 strength check and a move action to knock down the stairs, will light on fire with any Fire keyword power, or a standard action with flint and steel..." and on and on, because that's really no more creativity on the players' parts than their own powers list... but describing a complex environment thoroughly, and having the answers to every question they could possibly ask about their scenario on hand can certainly help a lot.

DarknessLord
2009-04-24, 08:36 PM
E.g., a monster with infinite hit points. The only way the PCs can beat it is to interact with the environment in some way
- Saph
You have to burn the rope!
Although, I think that just had crazy fast regeneration. *Shurg*

More to the point, I think I'm gonna try to get my PCs out of the "box" as well tomorrow, after all, they are about to tap into spiral power, if that doesn't help get them to try new things, nothing will. XD

sleepy
2009-04-24, 08:50 PM
For instance, let's take a battle on shipboard. Can I pick up a rope and use it to entangle an opponent? Well, no. Can I pick up an opponent and toss him overboard? Nope, can't do that either. Can I circle the mast to keep it between me and an opponent and use it for defense? Oops, nope again.

How I would adjudicate any of these things seemed obvious to me. My rulings:

rope:
You can try this with one hand, but you'll take a penalty. You can drop or put away whatever you're carrying with the use of the appropriate action (free to drop, minor to sheathe a weapon, standard to stow a shield). Picking up the rope is a minor action.

Make a grab attack. If you are successful, your target is grabbed with the rope and you will get a +2 bonus to your roll in any opposed check he makes to escape the grab.

While your target is grabbed with the rope, you may make a thievery check as a standard action to tie knots. If you do, the target is slowed and takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls until free of the rope. While you are not involved in the grab, the Acrobatics DC to escape the rope is equal to your Thievery check. The Athletics DC to escape the rope is an appropriate burst DC for whatever rope you used.

If you take a second standard action to tie more knots, the target is dazed instead of slowed, takes a -5 penalty to attack rolls, and the escape DC for either check increases by 5.

toss overboard:
Make a grab attack. If you are successful, you may make the standard Strength attack to move the target. If you succeed and are within range of pushing him off the edge of the boat, make an Athletics check, with a DC based on the weight of the opponent and the height of the railing. Alternatively, you may make an Athletics check to burst the railing, but with a penalty.

If you are unsuccessful, he stops on the last square of boat. If you are successful, you may attempt to escape the grab as an immediate reaction, with a +2 bonus to your roll because he is falling. If you fail, he pulls you over the edge with him.

mast:
You must shift during your turn. You will recieve cover from your opponent, and your opponent will recieve cover from you, until the end of your next turn.

Dervag
2009-04-24, 09:02 PM
I think the idea of environment-based powers sounds useful. That turns environmental features into things that just about any character can do without expending some kind of resource, rather than having someone see how to use the terrain against the bad guy but be stuck because "Nah, I already used my Daring Resourcefulness for the day."

Asbestos
2009-04-24, 09:10 PM
mast:
You must shift during your turn. You will recieve cover from your opponent, and your opponent will recieve cover from you, until the end of your next turn.

I think the issue with the mast is that you can't cut a corner with a shift, this can be solved by having the mast be 'special' and still provide cover but not be a proper wall-like structure. This could easily be applied to all columns/objects of significant width. They are large enough to take up a square and provide cover, but not so large they are a full 5'x5' so you can still cut around them as if they were a person/monster. They would act like immobile, 3rd party monsters. Meaning that they provide cover in the same way someone provides cover against enemy ranged attacks whose LoE passes through their square. The mast is effectively an 'enemy' to both PCs and monsters.

Oslecamo
2009-04-24, 09:22 PM
However, something about how the system is presented causes people to forget that they can do things that people can do - swing on ropes, light things on fire - even if it's not written down on a page. That is the mentality I'm trying to fix, not enforce :smallannoyed:

Because they'll either be mechanically inferior or be stronger than the carefully balanced powers Wotc has taken so much work creating for 4e, wich acording to several posters is an unadmissible heresy for wich Wotc should be burned at the stake.

You asked for it. Now you deal with it. Ah, the irony that you finally get a super-balanced system, and you realize how boring it is if you don't spice it up yourself. When all options are equally special, sudenly no option is special.

(Currently dming a 4e campaign for D&D newbies, and after some boredom in the first games, I just took out my 3.5e books and started throwing custom items and feats to spice up gameplay. Worked great even trough balance has been thrown out the window and I must throw a lot more monsters than normal to keep them challenged)

sleepy
2009-04-24, 09:25 PM
I think the issue with the mast is that you can't cut a corner with a shift, this can be solved by having the mast be 'special' and still provide cover but not be a proper wall-like structure. This could easily be applied to all columns/objects of significant width. They are large enough to take up a square and provide cover, but not so large they are a full 5'x5' so you can still cut around them as if they were a person/monster. They would act like immobile, 3rd party monsters. Meaning that they provide cover in the same way someone provides cover against enemy ranged attacks whose LoE passes through their square. The mast is effectively an 'enemy' to both PCs and monsters.

My usual rule for partially occupied squares is that if an object touches less than 3 sides of a square, you can move through or occupy that square. I don't require that the world consist of flat planes and 90 degree angles. Since it's nowhere near 5 feet wide, I'd be tempted to center the mast on a corner, and have it partially occupy 4 squares.

Actually my maps don't follow the grid at all and I have rules for squares that contain more than one type of terrain. The basic gist is in a map with normal and difficult terrain, if you can draw your movement path without entering any squares entirely covered with difficult terrain, you may treat all the half-and-half squares you moved through as normal terrain. Conversely, if you enter any squares that are entirely difficult terrain, you must treat all of the squares that are partially difficult terrain in the path as difficult terrain. I suppose this paragraph constitutes a tangent but hopefully it illustrates that "not explicitely covered in the rulebook" situations aren't that hard to rule.

Asbestos
2009-04-24, 09:36 PM
Because they'll either be mechanically inferior or be stronger than the carefully balanced powers Wotc has taken so much work creating for 4e, wich acording to several posters is an unadmissible heresy for wich Wotc should be burned at the stake.

You asked for it. Now you deal with it. Ah, the irony that you finally get a super-balanced system, and you realize how boring it is if you don't spice it up yourself. When all options are equally special, sudenly no option is special.

(Currently dming a 4e campaign for D&D newbies, and after some boredom in the first games, I just took out my 3.5e books and started throwing custom items and feats to spice up gameplay. Worked great even trough balance has been thrown out the window and I must throw a lot more monsters than normal to keep them challenged)

Gonna go off topic to point out how shocked I am that Oslecamo is doing anything 4e related. Nuts.

Reverent-One
2009-04-24, 09:42 PM
You asked for it. Now you deal with it. Ah, the irony that you finally get a super-balanced system, and you realize how boring it is if you don't spice it up yourself. When all options are equally special, sudenly no option is special.

No, more like when the players feel like they are restricted to a given select number of special options (in the case of 1st level players, about 4-5 or so), they don't like it as much as when they have a virtually unlimited set of special options that just take some thinking to figure out. The whole point Oracle Hunter is trying to make is that it's not a one or the other type deal, in 4e, both are available.

TheOOB
2009-04-24, 10:33 PM
I have always found players to have more options in 4e. Unless you are playing a full spellcaster, you have more meaningful abilities pre-built into your character, and the 4e rules are much easier to design new stuff on the fly, with standardized attacks, ability checks, and defenses along with a broader skill system.

You want to swing on the chandelier? DC 15 Acrobatics check to move your speed with no OA, and you get a +2 to attack and damage rolls if you make a charge after it.

Want to flip a table that the enemies are standing on? Strength vs reflex, enemies who fail end up prone.

It's not hard to arbitrate unusual actions in 4e.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 10:46 PM
Because they'll either be mechanically inferior or be stronger than the carefully balanced powers Wotc has taken so much work creating for 4e, wich acording to several posters is an unadmissible heresy for wich Wotc should be burned at the stake.

You asked for it. Now you deal with it. Ah, the irony that you finally get a super-balanced system, and you realize how boring it is if you don't spice it up yourself. When all options are equally special, sudenly no option is special.That is rather not the point of using DMG 42.

Ideally, anything done under DMG 42 should be situational and difficult to replicate; the advantage of the Powers is that they are transportable and easy to replicate. So swinging from a chandelier - OK; reintroducing disarm as a DMG 42 power is not.

But that's not even the point of DMG 42 - it is designed to help the DM model any "cool" thing that the PCs want to do. Swinging on a chandelier may be better or worse than using Tide of Iron, but the player isn't doing it to eek out some numerical advantage - he's doing it because it's awesome.

And possibly because his target is standing right in front of a huge stained glass window :smallamused:

This is why Tcrudisi's "introduction" is so great. Not only does it firmly establish in the players' minds that their Powers are not the be-all and end-all of the game, but it also baits the hook of being inventive by noting that it'll usually be better than a basic attack - and likely better than their At-Will.

Clearly none of these situational powers should enter the players' standard toolkit (though a Rope of Climbing used exclusively for swinging attacks would be awesome), and should not be so generally applicable that you'd rather clang someone on the head with a pot rather than Dazing Strike them. Making it all work is going to be harder than DMing by powers alone, but making more use of DMG 42 is likely to be worth the extra effort.

Also: is all the sniping really necessary?
Yes, I know that I have said a lot of good things about 4E and a lot of bad things about 3E, but I have always attempted (and, I think, succeeded) in restricting those points to informative rebuttals or to address specific concerns of the OP. As you may have noticed, I had already identified the phenomenon (the titular Box), and isolated a likely cause. Since it is clear that, even if it is a systemic flaw of 4E, I am trying to work around it, is it really productive to say "haw haw, there's a problem!" instead of, perhaps, offering some superior 3E advice?
I write this mainly to get back to helpful posting. There have been several really good ideas brought up so far that I'd like to develop, and it can get difficult to gather more if a helpful poster is repelled by off-topic proofs and counterproofs.

Now, lord knows I shouldn't be talking about creating thread tangents, but I had kind of hoped the Edition Wars had finally cooled down. So, if you really must say "4E is clearly inferior" could you at least put it in spoiler tags?

Limos
2009-04-24, 10:50 PM
On the example of throwing people into things, bullrush works perfectly well for that. I have personally bullrushed things off of cliffs, into ravines, into bonfires, into an acid trap, etc.

It's not that hard to break the box.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 12:16 AM
On the example of throwing people into things, bullrush works perfectly well for that. I have personally bullrushed things off of cliffs, into ravines, into bonfires, into an acid trap, etc.

It's not that hard to break the box.
But you see, terrain features are still part of the battle-map - the game anticipates that you'll take advantage of them, and designed its powers to do so. The players just see that as another part of the game that limits their creativity - in the same way that they can be playing an Elven Rogue hunting down her ex-husband who swindled her out of her money and took her only daughter and think Piercing Strike is stifling them.

Doing something more dramatic than simply "pushing someone into X" - like remotely triggering a known trap in the room to harm the bad guys, or flinging the guy prone on the bar down to the end where he can knock down someone threatening their ally; cinematic type stuff in which the players can evoke their own fluff. As the DM, you just need to figure out the system for it - they can imagine how awesome they look when they chop the rope holding the chandelier to get up to the second floor quickly and entangle a bunch of baddies in the center of the room.

Vortling
2009-04-25, 12:20 AM
Let me talk about 4e, page 42, extracting creativity from players, and perhaps provide some helpful suggestions by highlighting items from your post.


That is rather not the point of using DMG 42.

Ideally, anything done under DMG 42 should be situational and difficult to replicate; the advantage of the Powers is that they are transportable and easy to replicate. So swinging from a chandelier - OK; reintroducing disarm as a DMG 42 power is not.

But that's not even the point of DMG 42 - it is designed to help the DM model any "cool" thing that the PCs want to do. Swinging on a chandelier may be better or worse than using Tide of Iron, but the player isn't doing it to eek out some numerical advantage - he's doing it because it's awesome.

And possibly because his target is standing right in front of a huge stained glass window :smallamused:


Let's look at this. So things that fall under page 42 should be situational and difficult to replicate. Fair enough. But any player might ask himself after completing a difficult and situational act that required good creativity on their part, "Why did I only receive results equal to one of my powers?". If these actions are supposed to be awesome, why doesn't the system reward them with better than normal effects? Yes, you mention that they're supposed to be doing it simply because they're awesome, but if the only extra awesome comes from the description attached to the action what's to stop a player from simply describing his regular powers as that awesome?


Roleplaying incentive is great, but can't carry creative thinking all by itself for every RP group. You need to hit some of them with the one-two punch of RP and mechanical rewards.



This is why Tcrudisi's "introduction" is so great. Not only does it firmly establish in the players' minds that their Powers are not the be-all and end-all of the game, but it also baits the hook of being inventive by noting that it'll usually be better than a basic attack - and likely better than their At-Will.


Once you know what a basic attack and at-will powers are capable of, that's not a very stirring endorsement of doing something creative. There's another issue related to this. Once you get past about level 3 or 5 the plethora of powers available to a character creates the situation of "Why think up something cool when I've got all this cool stuff to do right here on my sheet?".


I'd recommend this Oracle. Take a step back from page 42 and 4e's balance everything model. In some ways it's as much as a box as The Box you're talking about. Think about how you can reward your players for being creative instead of how page 42 can adjudicate the creative actions they think up. Show your players how they can do more by having the enemies do creative things that aren't in their power list and when the player says "That's a cool power." respond with "That's not a power, you could do stuff like that too." A player may not be doing something for mechanical rewards, but throwing some of them in there with the RP rewards can nudge them in the right direction. Some players just need more encouraging than others.

Though if you really want to encourage creative thinking I'd suggest switching to a system with built in mechanics for players to have a modicum of narrative control. All editions of D&D lack said mechanics equally so I'd look outside the D&D "box", so to speak.

Also: is all the sniping really necessary?
Yes, I know that I have said a lot of good things about 4E and a lot of bad things about 3E, but I have always attempted (and, I think, succeeded) in restricting those points to informative rebuttals or to address specific concerns of the OP. As you may have noticed, I had already identified the phenomenon (the titular Box), and isolated a likely cause. Since it is clear that, even if it is a systemic flaw of 4E, I am trying to work around it, is it really productive to say "haw haw, there's a problem!" instead of, perhaps, offering some superior 3E advice?

On the sniping:

Here's where I get unhelpful. The sniping doesn't really surprise me. From reading this forum, you're the perfect example of a 4e fanboy to me. You've nothing seriously nice to say about any system besides 4e as far as I've seen. You frequently trumpet the virtues of 4e while ignoring the drawbacks. I don't hate the 4e system, but it's people with attitudes like yours that have completely put me off ever running 4e. If this needs to continue in PM it can.



I write this mainly to get back to helpful posting. There have been several really good ideas brought up so far that I'd like to develop, and it can get difficult to gather more if a helpful poster is repelled by off-topic proofs and counterproofs.

Hopefully my posting has been mostly helpful to you and not fanned flames too much.



Now, lord knows I shouldn't be talking about creating thread tangents, but I had kind of hoped the Edition Wars had finally cooled down. So, if you really must say "4E is clearly inferior" could you at least put it in spoiler tags?
As long as fanboys exist, there will be edition wars.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 12:58 AM
Once you know what a basic attack and at-will powers are capable of, that's not a very stirring endorsement of doing something creative. There's another issue related to this. Once you get past about level 3 or 5 the plethora of powers available to a character creates the situation of "Why think up something cool when I've got all this cool stuff to do right here on my sheet?".

I'd recommend this Oracle. Take a step back from page 42 and 4e's balance everything model. In some ways it's as much as a box as The Box you're talking about. Think about how you can reward your players for being creative instead of how page 42 can adjudicate the creative actions they think up. Show your players how they can do more by having the enemies do creative things that aren't in their power list and when the player says "That's a cool power." respond with "That's not a power, you could do stuff like that too." A player may not be doing something for mechanical rewards, but throwing some of them in there with the RP rewards can nudge them in the right direction. Some players just need more encouraging than others.
Solid advice, but slightly off-topic. You see, the problem isn't that the players don't want to be creative, it's that they think they can't be creative. They are all veteran gamers, but they have erected this mental block for some reason. I can offer bonuses until I'm blue in the face, but if they don't believe they can do something, they won't try.

Now, showing more examples of "cool stuff" is always good, but if there's one thing I've found, it's that it is hard to be creative while running a combat. Keeping track of initiative, modifiers, and basic tactics is usually as much as I can do - but when I'm a player, I have plenty of time to daydream while my allies go. Plus, if the player doesn't think of it first, he probably won't think of it as a "creative" action - it's just something that's built into the game.

See, if my players were satisfied with the "cool stuff" they could already do, they won't be unhappy about 4E "stifling their creativity." All I have to do is find a way for them to realize they can still be "creative;" that the system isn't stopping them. It's something I believe, and something I've shown in my latest game, but I know I can work on it.

On My Behavior
I know that I sound like a stereotypical 4E fanboy, but I have tried exceedingly hard to be fair. If I make a point, I provide citations when possible, or note that it was purely in my experience and YMMV. If you search my 4E posts since Fall of last year (I hope) I doubt you'll find many snarky, sarcastic and unhelpful posts - I address issues raised, or correct misconceptions. When gaps in the 4E system have been revealed to me - problems with the drowning rules and item damage, as two examples - I acknowledged those failures and tried to find a good work-around. And, unlike some, I don't dive into 3E threads to say "3E sux" - if someone asks, say, why does Epic play in 3E break down, I reply with my experience, or that which I have heard.

In short, I attempt to be informative, well-sourced, and open to new ideas. I'm afraid I can't say the majority of 3E boosters who posted here provided me with helpful information, or provided any proof for their contentions. To be honest, I did not expect those posts, but I am not surprised to see them - it's not like my name hasn't been linked to 4E boosterism by now :smalltongue:

But I know that those posts aren't the best the posters were capable of. To pick one, Kurald Galain has been extremely helpful on many of the 4E threads I've seen him post on for the past several months - and we once locked horns with regularity. I would have loved to have heard another post like Oslecamo where, despite his excoriation of 4E he noted that in the game he was running, he used custom items and feats to re-energize his players. While I don't think that route will be profitable for me, at least he took the time to say something constructive aside from "play another game."

Finally, to you personally (and others, I guess) - I actually do enjoy, and play, a large number of systems. I am currently gearing up for a Shadowrun 3E one-shot involving pirates, have been brewing an AD&D game for a few months now, am going to play Bliss Stage and Mountain Witch in a few weeks, and had a jolly good time in a long 3.5 game that wrapped up last summer. Heck, this Sunday I'm playing in a d6 system survival-horror game and next Sunday in an oWoD Vampire game set in 1695 Paris. In addition, I have played Battletech, Heavy Gear, oWoD Mage, oWoD Werewolf, Shadowrun 2E, and Scion at various times in the past. I list these not to show my "superior" knowledge of gaming systems, but that I enjoy a variety of different systems with wildly different aims and settings. I do not enjoy being stereotyped any more than I bet any 3E booster likes being labeled as a You Changed It, Now It Sucks person.

Regrettably, I was one of those labelers back around 4E's release, even while I tried to figure out what it was that bothered people so much about 4E. From a strictly mechanical point of view, the simplicity and elegance of 4E's rules awed me in comparison to 3E's and, really, every other system I have ever played. I know (now) that for many, that is not enough to recommend a game system, but I was honestly baffled back then.

I freely apologize to anyone's feelings I may have hurt then - if anyone is still nursing wounds, please PM me and I will be glad to apologize more directly. I have done my best to behave in a more polite and honorable manner since then, but I see memories are long.
That said, if anyone would like to point our flaws in 4E's system - even if you do not have a suggestion as to how to fix them - feel free to PM me. It should be no surprise that I enjoy a good debate, and if there is a weakness in my new favorite system, I would like to patch it before it becomes an issue for me.

And, of course


De gustibus non est disputandum

There is no disputing about tastes

TheOOB
2009-04-25, 01:33 AM
The bottom line is, there is no box, it's just an illusion. 4e's illusion just has a really good attack roll vs. your players Will defense.

Yes i realize how stupid that sounded.

Kurald Galain
2009-04-25, 04:10 AM
Now that's hardly fair. Unlike some systems I've used, 4E provides an easy way to consistently systematize Things The Rules Don't Cover (DMG 42) - if you already improvise, 4E can smoothly implement your desires.
Okay, so smoothly implement my desires.

How would you rule the following?
(1) I am on shipboard, and I want to entangle someone with a rope.
(2) I am on shipboard and want to throw someone overboard
(3) Shipboard again, I want to circle around the mast to keep it between me and an enemy, so it can't attack me.
(4) I want to create a character that's permanently invisible. Note that this is easy in 3E, Aberrant, or Vampire the Masquerade.
(5) During combat, I want to throw sand in somebody's eyes (normally a rogue/9 power) then dive between his legs (normally a barbarian/2 power) while being neither a rogue nor a barbarian.
(6) The inverse of #3, I'm a fighter and I will stand between the wizard and the orc. We're in an open area and I'm faster than the orc. That means that if the orc dodges to the left, I want to dodge to the same side so that I remain interposed.


Not to quote the DMG, but "yes. you can".
Step 1: Pick up a rope,
Step 2: tie them up
Step 3: Profit.
Very nice. Now tell me how you would rule that. Because by keeping it abstract you're not proving anything.



Yes, but wouldn't a bull rush be smarter than picking someone up? Even in 3rd picking someone up was not an actual written example of actions.
So you're saying that I shouldn't try to pick someone up and throw them, but instead use one of the Powers In The Book (i.e. bull rush). That proves my point then.



Yes, you can...but just like in 3rd they can move around it to attack you too. They justy can't shift to you.
That means you can't - I want to block him with the mast, and regardless of what I do, he can go around it anyway. That again proves my point. You score zero out of three.

Kurald Galain
2009-04-25, 04:23 AM
"Here are your powers. They tell you what you do as a sort of basic action. Here are your skills. See where you have Acrobatics and Athletics? If you want to swing from a chandelier and flying jump kick an ogre into a fire, you can do it. You will just use those instead. In fact, if you ever want to do something like that, bring it up to the DM and let him work out the details.
Okay, now try the same thing, only without the list of powers? See, more freedom already. Now try the same thing and explictly give people a bonus when they try something cool. This is known as "stunt dice" in Exalted, and Off the Edge has a similar system.


"Can I kick over these boxes to block the stairway?" "Yes, but it'll be your standard action." "Huh, what if I slam the door shut on the tentacle that has my friend grabbed?" "That'll damage the monster, but the door might break before the tentacle." "Hmm... how hard would it be to climb out the window and onto the roof?" "Uh... You'd need to roll kind of well."
That's precisely the point. You can do whatever you like, but the system penalizes you for doing so by making your actions generally ineffective unless you use one of the Powers In The Book.


You can try this with one hand, but you'll take a penalty. You can drop or put away whatever you're carrying with the use of the appropriate action (free to drop, minor to sheathe a weapon, standard to stow a shield). Picking up the rope is a minor action.
Et cetera. Thank you for your answer, because this is precisely the kind of ruling that I would hope a good DM would make at the table.

However, it also precisely proves my point: all of your ruling means that my character can try to do something convoluted, in an ineffective way, in order to impose standard conditions.

It starts with penalizing me for using only one hand. Then I use a minor action (and I note that picking something up usually provokes an OA). Then I get a grab attack, which is sub-par because it doesn't add my magical bonuses, doesn't deal damage, and doesn't work unless I'm a strength-based class. If I succeed, the enemy can't move but otherwise can still do whatever he pleases. This means that my character would have been better off using a Power In The Book.


Make a grab attack. If you are successful, you may make the standard Strength attack to move the target. If you succeed and are within range of pushing him off the edge of the boat, make an Athletics check, with a DC based on the weight of the opponent and the height of the railing. Alternatively, you may make an Athletics check to burst the railing, but with a penalty.
So you're saying I need to make three checks to do this, plus a fourth to avoid falling over as well. Again, this means my character is better off using a Power In The Book.


You must shift during your turn. You will recieve cover from your opponent, and your opponent will recieve cover from you, until the end of your next turn.
That's a nice ruling so I'll give you one out of three for that. However, note that cover still only imposes a -2 to hit, so he can attack me just fine and dandy.

So here is a problem: The DM is in the box. Sleepy provides a few excellent examples: I want to do something creative, and he tries to rule this in terms of being slowed, getting immobilized, or cover. So he's reducing whatever creative thing I'm trying to do, to a Standard Conditions In The Book. Special idea -> normal result, and with a penatly for trying. If that's not a Box, I don't know what is.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 04:43 AM
Kurald Galain
(1) I am on shipboard, and I want to entangle someone with a rope.
Depends what you mean. If you're just throwing rope at someone to trip them up:
Tweaked Thrown Improvised WeaponDEX v. Reflex, Range 5, Hit: Slow until end of next turn

If you are actually going to try and tie someone up in the middle of combat:
Tweaked Combat Pickpocket CheckStandard Action
Thievery v. DC 30+Target's Level
SUCCESS: Target is Slowed (Save End)
FAIL >5: You fail to affect target
FAIL <4: You fail and grant an OA
If used on a Slowed target, you can Restrain them on a successful check.

(2) I am on shipboard and want to throw someone overboard
Bull Rush if they are against railing. Grab followed by pull followed by Bull Rush if not.

(3) Shipboard again, I want to circle around the mast to keep it between me and an enemy, so it can't attack me.

Readied Action: Shift when Attacked by Target

(4) I want to create a character that's permanently invisible. Note that this is easy in 3E, Aberrant, or Vampire the Masquerade.
And I want to be a fuzzy puppy. Easy to do in Prime Time Adventures :smalltongue:

(5) During combat, I want to throw sand in somebody's eyes (normally a rogue/9 power) then dive between his legs (normally a barbarian/2 power) while being neither a rogue nor a barbarian.
I'd like to tackle a 300 lb football player without training too; don't you think you should practice that if you expect to succeed? If you insist...
SAND(Standard) DEX v. Reflex; HIT: -1 to next attack

DIVE(Move) Acrobatics v. Reflex; HIT: you pass and take an OA. MISS: take an OA

(6) The inverse of #3, I'm a fighter and I will stand between the wizard and the orc. We're in an open area and I'm faster than the orc. That means that if the orc dodges to the left, I want to dodge to the same side so that I remain interposed.
Readied Action: Shift if Orc moves
I don't know what you wanted to prove here - particularly with that silly permanent invisibility question. Can you make me a Troll with a FN-HAR and Wired Reflexes in a 3E fantasy game? I honestly had thought we had moved past these kind of "gotcha" questions :smallsigh:

Anyhow, I'm pleased to see that most of these could actually be answered with just a Readied Action, or other standard moves. The most difficult were innovative effects that provide status effects, but DMG 42 gives a simple rubric for resolving those.

And, of course, trying to do manuevers that require a lot of training to pull off even once an encounter without training works about as well as you'd expect. There is a reason that every fighter doesn't just walk around with a pot of grease and a bag of sand :smalltongue:

Totally Guy
2009-04-25, 06:40 AM
The problem I had with this was when my players suggested things that were too similar to existing powers.

"I want to use my acrobatics to tumble between my opponents avoiding opportunity attacks"
"That's a rogue power I think"
"I'm a rogue though, I trained acrobatics for just this sort of occasion"
"No, it's right here: utility level 2, you took Great Leap instead."

So I ended up saying no to a suggestion because it was too close to something that already existed and not really all that situational.

When I'm a player I find that I resort to creative uses of the environment when I'm inefectual at something. I played a sci-fi technitian character that always managed to find an improvised weapon. I played a 3.5 bard that seemed to rely on trip attempts and environment manipulation. I tend to view it as more of a creative character trait than a player one.

But I would still like to know how I could have said yes without setting a strong precedent for everyone. The power has no DC to beat, I could have added one but then it might be awful and very circumstantial. It's got to be bad as to not discourage the power but not so bad that it encourages the box.

So what can we use to find this balance? The DMG42 DC tables might work.

Kurald Galain
2009-04-25, 12:53 PM
I don't know what you wanted to prove here
What I wanted to prove here is that while you can technically "do whatever you want" in 4E, the only actions worth taking are the Standard Powers On Your Sheet. Page 42 is nothing but a cop out. And you have proven this nicely for me, because every response you've given is quite a bit worse than taking a basic attack (which in turn is quite a bit worse than pretty much every power your character has). So your response to creative actions from players is giving those actions an ineffective result with a significant chance of failure.

That is why people say "it limits my creativity too much", and this is the answer to your question, although quite possibly not what you wanted to hear. By thinking that it's just the players being unfamiliar with the system, you're missing the point. The players aren't in the box, you are, and you're pushing them in by making them either use the Powers On Their Sheet or doing something creative but ineffective.

That you think it's a gotcha question only proves that you're thinking in the box. It's a good example of something that is so easy in many other roleplaying games that it's not even considered imbalancing, but that's not allowed in 4E. Indeed, the only reason why 4E needs a "learn to say yes" page for DMs is that the rest of the system is suggesting that the DM says no.

===

There is an obvious difference between how various games handle the unexpected, roughly categorized as follows. Note that this is unrelated to how individual DMs might handle the unexpected. Also note that which type you prefer is a matter of taste, and that I'm not going to claim that any group is superior (although I expect to be flamed by people who feel that a certain group sounds inferior and don't want their favorite game listed there)

Type A: encourages creative action - trying something special makes you more effective and/or is more likely to work
Examples: Exalted (stunt dice); Over the Edge (bonus/penalty dice); Toon (you get XP for making people laugh); Paranoia (the whole point is that outrageous stunts have a greater chance for success); realistic wargames including an actual war (doing something your opponent isn't expecting is often good strategy)

Type B: neutral regarding creative action - special actions are treated like normal actions
Examples: GURPS (has rules for pretty much everything); older editions of D&D; most rules-light or rules-average RPGs including White Wolf games, FUDGE, and Shadowrun. Also, many other freeform games including Nomic and Mao.

Type C: discourages creative action - trying something special is less effective and/or (usually "and") less likely to work than trying something standard
Examples: most sports (doing weird stuff in soccer nets you a penalty card); most teambuilding exercises (as the point is to work the same way as the rest of the team does); 4E (as evidenced in this thread, but also by the DMG as printed, which explicitly tells you to give unexpected skill checks a higher DC); most rules-heavy RPGs fall in this category with the notable exceptions of GURPS and Exalted.

Type D: simply disallows creative action
Examples: most board games (no, you can't rob the bank in Monopoly); most computer games (you can't jump if there is no "jump" button, and this is what makes badly written interactive fiction so frustrating); many D&D modules as printed, unfortunately including many 4E LFR adventures (no, you can't use attack powers in a skill challenge).

So it's very easy: there is a box, and you get either a bonus or a penalty for staying in the box. If the former, you encourage people to "step outside"; if the latter, the opposite.

Fishy
2009-04-25, 01:19 PM
Maybe it's a personal play style issue, but when I start 'improvising' in 3.5, it's because the 'normal' options available to me are spectacularly bad. When we're fighting something that's immune to my attacks, or I can't target his poor save, or I'm out of spells for the day, or have no more arrows, or have been shoved into a hole in the ground, or am too far away to effect anything- that's when the Outside The Box thinking becomes necessary.

I haven't actually played 4e, but if your powers are useful and varied and interesting and powerful and tactically relevant enough that you don't *have* to get frustrated and start throwing Hail Mary passes unless you want to, then I'm going to call that a win.

CarpeGuitarrem
2009-04-25, 01:54 PM
An interesting thing that I'm noting is that most complaints against this "Box" deal with martial characters, or melee combat for non-martial characters. Which leads me to wonder...why does nobody want to do the same thing for arcane characters, for example?

Essentially, this would be equivalent to letting wizards craft their own custom spells. "I cast a spell to make them go to sleep." "Okay, roll your Arcana check and add your implement bonus, it's against their Will." "I hit." "They go to sleep."

The problem is, now the DM has to keep track of how often they use things like that, because some effects are inherently more powerful than others, and should be limited. And when you've got five (or more) characters doing all of these things for various effects, in various circumstances...that's a lot of data to track, and there's gonna be a hard task to keep them consistent.

What "The Box" actually does is make the DM's job a bit easier. Now, instead of having to track all of these things as a rule, it sets down guidelines, which help him keep players' actions in line and more balanced. If you want to play a game where improvised stunts are the rule of the day, play Wushu Open.

And yes, it does have a bit of restricting, but that's just a price to pay, like I stated above. And it's not really that much of a problem once you start re-thinking what powers really are. The PHB explicitly says that the fluff, the flavor of any power can be changed. All that really should matter is whether it fits the effects of the power. Want to create a ki-infused warrior? Make a fighter, and reflavor some effects. Tide of Iron, instead of being a shield shove, is a channeling of ki energy through the shield.

For a more interesting example, whilst brainstorming what sort of character one of my friends (a D&D newbie) would play, I came up with the idea of a Luthien-esque (from the Silmarillion) character, who destroys enemies through the power of song. What did I suggest? Feylock, with reflavored powers. It's a class based out of CHA, which targets will. That fits the Luthien flavor perfectly.

For another example, I'm planning an Elf Avenger for an upcoming campaign, and have decided that what he does for his powers will be in part inspired by the moves of Ike from Fire Emblem, that something like Great Aether can be the description for a Daily.

Again, it's not about the moves. It's about how cool you look whilst doing the moves. And since it's no longer restricted to "I run in, I hit things", you have quite a lot more options.

ocato
2009-04-25, 02:26 PM
Not quite, because this "box" applies far less to 3E or to GURPS. But it is true that many parts of the 4E rulebooks at least imply that each turn you are supposed to use One Of Your Powers (or, equivalently, point out that you can do whatever you like, but unless you are using One Of Your Powers your action is going to be pretty pointless).

I think that's an issue of poor DMing, not bad rules. "If it ain't a power, it doesn't do anything!" is just silly.


For instance, let's take a battle on shipboard. Can I pick up a rope and use it to entangle an opponent?

Make a grab attack (phb 290). The DM might give you a special range modifier for the rope because of its length or allow you to use Dexterity because the grab is based on finesse (clever entanglement) more than Strength (holding him down).

In 3.5 you'd maybe make a use-rope check, then a (ranged?) touch attack, then if you hit, you'd start a grapple check roll off? Is that more simple?


Can I pick up an opponent and toss him overboard?

Bull Rush (phb 287) him off the side. He even gets a saving throw to fall prone instead of going over, representing the ability to grab onto the side of the ship if he's lucky (even though there is no "grab onto the side of things" power! Nifty!)

In 3.5 it's about the same, except instead of having a defense to meet, you have a roll off. Not really a huge difference.


Can I circle the mast to keep it between me and an opponent and use it for defense?

The DM might ask you to make an Athletics check to move it (or not), then you have cover (either -2 or -5 to attacks made to you from the other side)

In 3.5, you'd make a strength check (not really a huge difference) and you'd get cover.


The deck is stacked so that in each of these cases the DM can make something up, but this "something" very likely has a greater chance of failure and less effect on a success than just using One Of Your Powers.

That depends, really. Yes, an 8 strength Wizard might have a tough time throwing a Pirate off of the side of a ship but... what edition was it where Wizards with the upper body strength of little girls were performing Wrestler moves without any chance of failure?

The fact of the matter is that most nonstandard events focus on basic assumptions. If you want to swing on a Chandelier and you have 8 Strength and 10 Dexterity, you're probably going to fall and hurt yourself. That's not a problem with the system, its the whole reason you have stats. 'Action Scene' is not a magical excuse for your characters to be able to ignore their physical limits in an attempt at cinematography. You have a chance at succeeding if you roll well, and it's that much more exciting when your spindly wristed wizard swings down on the rope. The risk is the adventure, that's why we play D&D.


It really begs the question that if you want players to do wildly creative things during action scenes, why on earth are you playing 4E? It's not what it's written for, and while it can be played that way, it's an uphill battle against the system. Sure, you can smash a nail into a wall using a screwdriver, but why would you want to?

Every system of D&D requires you to improvise the rules a little to tell your story. It's a book, not a baby-sitter. Just because they overly detailed combat in an attempt to balance the classes doesn't mean that you're stuck in the box. The multi-purpose 'powers' and actions in the back are just as important as the ones under your class's chapter.

Thrawn183
2009-04-25, 02:48 PM
I had this problem in 3.5 and only found the solution in Iron Heroes. The trick is to integrate the stunt a character is attempting into their attack (usually).

In Iron Heroes you make opposed base attack checks and if you win you get a small bonus. The key is that you aren't punished for failure. This lets you attempt to kick the head off a statue at an enemy to distract him before you attack without having to worry that if you roll a 1 you fall over or end up with some other horrible disadvantage.

So while stating out a vat of boiling oil as a str check to flip over resulting in a close blast is certainly easy, if someone wants to swing on a chandelier, just set a DC that they have to beat with an athletics or acrobatics check and give them a bonus if they are successful. Could be an extra [1W] damage or a bonus to their attack roll. It's really easy and will get your players thinking about any way they can try and do something cinematic and awesome.

SemiteLock
2009-04-25, 03:00 PM
Kurald Galain, it sounds like you just dont like 4e.

My group plays both 3.5 and 4e, and if the DM is flexible you can do whatever you want in either edition, at least as far as my group is concerned.

Case in point, in our last 4e session, our rogue and ranger (combined int of 13) cut down a tree in the forest. Aware of the druids the nuture the forest, i was naturally angry at them, but then realized you can set a trap using this now cut down tree. Since we had BBEG to kill in the next encounter, we came up with the following plan, that allowed a lot of versatility, and thinking outside the box:

The rogue and ranger rolled thievery and nature checks to set up the tree as an easily triggered trap, and then poured oil on it. The rogue (a kobold) then climbed to the top of the trap and waited to ambush the BBEG. My character then challenged the BBEG to a duel, his 5 against my "3" with the rogue hiding. The rogue then proceeded to snipe the boss and his minions from atop his perch, making hide checks all the time thanks to chameleon. When the battle headed south, we backed up, the rogue triggered the trap and divebombed, dealing tons of damage from dive bombing, and the tree crushed several of the little guys (only 3d6 damage, but 5 ongoing fire). End result? 5 dead baddies, 1 victorious party, 1 burning tree, and 8 pissed of druids (we have a lot of running to do...)

Long story short? Thinking outside of the box is easy to do in both editions! Just takes a creative and willing DM, which Im sure oracle can do, and a homebrewed campaign. I agree the modules are to programmed :P

Good luck with the campaing, Oracle

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 03:17 PM
I haven't actually played 4e, but if your powers are useful and varied and interesting and powerful and tactically relevant enough that you don't *have* to get frustrated and start throwing Hail Mary passes unless you want to, then I'm going to call that a win.
Actually, after sleeping on Kurald's post, I realize this is right. Because Powers can do so many things, there is less incentive to make-up stuff just to do something interesting in combat. The Powers represent your normal fighting style - the stuff you trained in to kill things. Hopefully, those techniques are better than improvising stuff in most situations - and, in general, they are.

But, there are certainly some times when improvisation is the way to go:
(1) You cannot fight normally
If you're a Ranger without his swords, a Fighter without his armor, or a (sufficiently advanced) caster without your implements, your standard powers just aren't available to you - or, at least, effective to use.

(2) There is a golden opportunity
Sometimes, there is just the right alignment of variables to make one outlandish action more effective than your normal fighting style. Zip-lining down a rigging line to boot the BBEG into the sea, for instance.''
But, in general, you do not have to make something up to accomplish what you want to do. In earlier editions of D&D, you absolutely did have to - the combat system did not really take into account how to deal with fancy fighting. But now, it does - and I guess that removes the "Eureka" element from gameplay.

Now, here is why I think the Wild Card system will address this issue well:
It actually game to me when I thought about the time my Bow Cleric had used Searing Light to blind a baddie who then decided to charge at me and miss. Off-hand, I mentioned that I should totally just step to one side and stick out my leg - and the DM said "awesome!" and did just that when I hit with my OA. I never thought about doing it seriously (I was thinking solely with Powers) but the DM picked it up and ran with it.

I think players who are in The Box are in a similar mindset - everything is so neatly laid out that I shouldn't ask to do anything else. The Wild Card gives them explicit permission to do so; they describe the action, and I figure out the result - but they know I will not just say "no."

This allows for more cinematic details. Did you just knock a guy prone and want to kick his sword away? Standard Action, STR v. Reflex, HIT: Push Sword 1d4. Blind the Minotaur and want to get him to charge into a wall? Standard Bluff v. Will, HIT: moderate-to-high damage, MISS: attack vs. you. Want to shoot down the chandelier? Dig out the Tweaked Item Damage rules, and cause Burst 1 limited moderate damage, with Slow on a hit.
Oh, the Wild Card System is giving all PCs a free Encounter Power called "Wild Card." It allows them to do something that isn't one of their normal powers - with limited/no DM modification - and at some bonus. The idea is that now they'll start looking for something to use their Wild Card on every encounter, which should get them thinking creatively (and thus, feeling creative) over time.

Possibly, I might go with a Stunt Chip system instead - everyone gets one at the start of the day, but for good RP or smart thinking they get another Chip. They can bank Chips from day to day, but they don't get their daily one unless they have 0.

EDIT:

@CarpeGuitarrem - One reason you don't see "Box" problems with D&D wizards is that they are used to feeling creative with their spells. Custom spells have always been a headache for DMs - though cosmetic modifications are always allowed by me - and one only has to look at AD&D's Grease to see what happens when you get too creative with magic.

That said, the Wild Card / Stunt Chip system would allow casters to fight creatively as well. Magic Missile can be used to cut ropes and Scorching Burst can light oil on fire, for example.

Now, the funny thing is that your kind of reflavoring still doesn't sound "creative" to the folks in The Box. We were using 4E classes in a Superhero game with massive reflavoring - our Halfling Paladin was a super-fast kung-fu guy, for example - and yet, it didn't seem creative enough. I may try to encourage some pre-game creativity there, but I've found that sort of thinking is in the same line as character backgrounds - some people do it, some people just don't.

Tehnar
2009-04-25, 03:43 PM
I think the PCs are still learning the rules of 4e to start thinking out of the box. Give them some time and they might pick it up. To facilitate this you might want start making your monsters/NPCs use special attacks, out of the box powers, special moves etc.

Now, I think you mentioned your players got to around levels 6-7 when they started to get bored. The funny thing is most of our group (including the DM) got bored with 4e at around those levels. It was not because we felt the lack of out of box thinking.

Vortling
2009-04-25, 03:47 PM
Solid advice, but slightly off-topic. You see, the problem isn't that the players don't want to be creative, it's that they think they can't be creative. They are all veteran gamers, but they have erected this mental block for some reason. I can offer bonuses until I'm blue in the face, but if they don't believe they can do something, they won't try.

Now, showing more examples of "cool stuff" is always good, but if there's one thing I've found, it's that it is hard to be creative while running a combat. Keeping track of initiative, modifiers, and basic tactics is usually as much as I can do - but when I'm a player, I have plenty of time to daydream while my allies go. Plus, if the player doesn't think of it first, he probably won't think of it as a "creative" action - it's just something that's built into the game.

See, if my players were satisfied with the "cool stuff" they could already do, they won't be unhappy about 4E "stifling their creativity." All I have to do is find a way for them to realize they can still be "creative;" that the system isn't stopping them. It's something I believe, and something I've shown in my latest game, but I know I can work on it.


I took a look through the thread again and I think something is missing. How much have you talked to all of them, together and individually, about how 4e is "stifling their creativity"? Perhaps if we know more about what's going on inside their head we can be of more use to you. Even having them articulate their objections further can help you out and may surprise you. Barring that, it may just take time for them to get in the swing of things. Are you their regular DM?

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 04:19 PM
I took a look through the thread again and I think something is missing. How much have you talked to all of them, together and individually, about how 4e is "stifling their creativity"? Perhaps if we know more about what's going on inside their head we can be of more use to you. Even having them articulate their objections further can help you out and may surprise you. Barring that, it may just take time for them to get in the swing of things. Are you their regular DM?
No, I'm not their regular DM - that's why I think I have a chance :smalltongue:

So, more details:
The prospective players and the other ones who played the Superhero game with me are an established RP circle. I joined in much later, and have slowly been invited to more of their games.

They are all RPG veterans - many were in Living Greyhawk, and my DM was one of the registered DMs for such things. They have been playing for a long time and regularly play various systems (Serenity, Torg, AD&D, Star Wars d20, D6 Adventures, to name a few) but none of them really likes 4E.

The DM and his wife (OK, we'll call then Mr. Black and Mrs. Black) are currently in a 4E game, but they've found it rather boring. From what I've heard from them, it's partially the DM's fault and partially theirs. Their DM seems to be running 4E modules with limited modifications - so, hour after hour of dungeon tile maps, which the PCs rightfully get bored of. Mrs. Black, who last played a 3.5 halfling bard is currently playing a 4E elven ranger - and she complains of doing nothing but damage all the time :smalltongue: I plan to hook her up with a Wizard (she'll love Cantrips) and go from there.

Now, the rest of the table I played with I know to varying degrees. Mr. Pink is a hard core Rules Lawyer (at a table of regular lawyers!) who knew 3.5 forward and backwards - I think in his case, it's the loss of tinker-toy character creation. Mr. Pink was also the pure 4E hater who took a nap midway through the game. Mr. Green plays a vaguely sociopathic character in the one game I've played with him, but he is well disposed to 4E. Mr. White I had just met at the Superhero game, and he was the one that said "maybe for a one shot, but otherwise too limited." However, it appeared to have been his first time playing 4E. Mr. Red was an enthusiastic RPer (in the "Hulk Smash" vein) and is rather mild-mannered IRL, and he seemed solidly neutral.
Mr. & Mrs. Black (DM and his wife) are the two I know the best, so I plan on running a 4E game with them. I think Mrs. Black's problem is just that she was playing a bad class for her play-style, in a game that was very much not her cup of tea. Fortunately, my veteran player (Vanka) is a long-time oWoD Vampire player, so I think between the two of them they will have a grand old time RPing up a storm. Mr. Black is a man very much like myself - he enjoys the mechanics of systems and will play whatever is put in front of him - which makes him my hardest case, because he still does not like 4E. He likes it mechanically, to be sure, but there's just something about the Powers system that strikes him funny for a Fantasy game... I dunno what to do about that, aside from overshadowing that feature with the rest of the system.

But, for all of them, combat is uninteresting. Mr. Black is a tactical kind of guy, but Mrs. Black and Vanka are emphatically not. And neither is another likely player - Mrs. Gold - despite being an avid Diablo player :smallconfused:

So, I would like to "jazz up" combats, to help them put their mental space outside the Box. The battlemats aren't a problem - Mr. & Mrs. Black play with them exclusively - but for some reason, they still feel their creativity being stifled. I've asked them about what, exactly, is bothering them, but aside from Mrs. Black's "all I do is damage" (easily solved), Mr. Black is unable to verbalize his full objections - it just doesn't "feel right." The same is true of the other players in the Superhero game - something is just off.

Vortling
2009-04-25, 05:18 PM
No, I'm not their regular DM - that's why I think I have a chance :smalltongue:

But, for all of them, combat is uninteresting. Mr. Black is a tactical kind of guy, but Mrs. Black and Vanka are emphatically not. And neither is another likely player - Mrs. Gold - despite being an avid Diablo player :smallconfused:

So, I would like to "jazz up" combats, to help them put their mental space outside the Box. The battlemats aren't a problem - Mr. & Mrs. Black play with them exclusively - but for some reason, they still feel their creativity being stifled. I've asked them about what, exactly, is bothering them, but aside from Mrs. Black's "all I do is damage" (easily solved), Mr. Black is unable to verbalize his full objections - it just doesn't "feel right." The same is true of the other players in the Superhero game - something is just off.

As far as the "just doesn't feel right" complaint goes, see if you can get them to play long enough to be able to tell you what part of the system is bothering them. I know that not "feeling right" was one of my earlier complaints of the system. After playing in many games I've been able to put my finger on why I don't like parts of the system. This has made the game more enjoyable for me just knowing what doesn't feel right.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-25, 05:59 PM
As far as the "just doesn't feel right" complaint goes, see if you can get them to play long enough to be able to tell you what part of the system is bothering them. I know that not "feeling right" was one of my earlier complaints of the system. After playing in many games I've been able to put my finger on why I don't like parts of the system. This has made the game more enjoyable for me just knowing what doesn't feel right.
Well, I should ask then - what was your "not feeling right?" Might as well start thinking about what theirs could be :smallsmile:

dspeyer
2009-04-25, 08:42 PM
I've found it harder to do cool creative things in 4e. My 4e campaign has been with a completely different group of people than any of my 3.5e, so it's not really a controlled test, but I think the system is part of it. The key thing I think is that I don't know the underlying world. In a 3.5e game, the laws of physics apply except for magic, which can kind of be understood. In 4e I never know what happened. What happens when a ranger shoots an enemy in the leg that ensures he can't do it again until tomorrow? How does a fire lit with prestidigitation know not to hurt characters? What if it spreads to fuel that wasn't part of the original fire? If your legs are tied, why can you still charge when an enemy (but only an enemy) taunts you? If you try to examine anything you can do too closely it tends to fall apart, so to keep the game going you use the powers as written in their most straightforward ways.

erikun
2009-04-25, 09:17 PM
Funny, every negative comment I've heard in this thread has been my experience with 3.5 edition, not with 4e. Every 3.5e DM I've played with has been of the "roll to do anything" school of thought - I recall being told to roll to climb up a 10' 45 slope, something that took about 5 minutes real time to resolve. (9 Str is annoying at times.)

Yakk
2009-04-25, 11:25 PM
The problem I had with this was when my players suggested things that were too similar to existing powers.

"I want to use my acrobatics to tumble between my opponents avoiding opportunity attacks"
A better response: Roll Acrobatics as a standard action. Anyone whose Reflex defense you beat cannot make an OA as you do your move.

If you try it again, you get a serious (like -5) penalty, because they are ready for it.

Rope Entangle:
Dex vs Reflex attack (up to +2 bonus per tier from awesome), range Melee 3. Target is grabbed by you in it's current location (until they break free, or end of your next turn, or you move).

Pick up and Toss Opponents:
You move into target square -- target gets an OA.

Str vs Fortitude (target gets +4 per size category if larger), with an 'awesome' bonus of up to +2 per tier if described well, to pick the target up.

To move, make a str vs fortitude attack with a -1 penalty per square you want to move.

When you throw, the target gets a saving throw to catch on and land on the edge of the deck.

Keep pole between you and target:
Standard, Weapon power.
Until the end of next turn, make a Dex vs Reflex attack each time the target moves to stay on the opposite side of the pole as the target.

I want to create a character that's permanently invisible. Note that this is easy in 3E, Aberrant, or Vampire the Masquerade.
Homebrew an epic-level Rogue utility power.

During combat, I want to throw sand in somebody's eyes (normally a rogue/9 power) then dive between his legs (normally a barbarian/2 power) while being neither a rogue nor a barbarian.

Sand in their Eyes Dodge
Dex+0-4* vs Reflex
Hit: Target takes a -2 penalty to attacks until the end of next turn, and 1d4+Dex damage. You may move through the target's square without provoking an OA from the target until the end of your turn.
Miss: You provoke an OA.

Interpose
Standard action + Martial
Target: One enemy
Attack: Initiative vs 10+Initiative
Hit: Select an ally. Until the start of your next turn, you may move up to your move in order to stay between the enemy and your ally.
Miss: Select an ally. Until the start of your next turn, you may move exactly 1 square in order to stay between the enemy and your ally.
Special: If you hit, you may consume an additional move action to boost the number of squares you spend on intercepting.


---

So what did I do?

1> Giving up a standard action is expensive. By having many of the above be standard actions, the amount of power I can grant the player is quite high, even if it isn't their "signature fighting style" they have been training in.

2> Know how modifiers scale. By granting bonuses that scale with the tier for powers that lack implement bonuses...

3> So you want to X (where X is a utility power)? Well, you get an X that isn't certain to work, and you cannot check if it worked until you commit to it. And if you try to pull off the same trick twice...

You get to do it -- but it isn't reliable. Sure, you'd be better off using tumble if you had it -- but if you need to get from point A to point B...

Don't say no. Be willing to give them something that is better than an at-will power, and almost as good as a per-encounter power.

sleepy
2009-04-26, 01:33 AM
Kurald Galain: I'd like to respectfully disagree with your assessment that I am penalizing the character for attempting the discribed actions with my rulings. I'll address your post point by point.


Thank you for your answer, because this is precisely the kind of ruling that I would hope a good DM would make at the table.

However, it also precisely proves my point: all of your ruling means that my character can try to do something convoluted, in an ineffective way, in order to impose standard conditions.

It starts with penalizing me for using only one hand. Then I use a minor action (and I note that picking something up usually provokes an OA). Then I get a grab attack, which is sub-par because it doesn't add my magical bonuses, doesn't deal damage, and doesn't work unless I'm a strength-based class. If I succeed, the enemy can't move but otherwise can still do whatever he pleases. This means that my character would have been better off using a Power In The Book.

Re: 1 hand vs 2 hands. I'd like you to picture, just for a moment, trying to wrap up with a rope a person who is actively trying to kill you with a sword, while holding one hand behind your back. It's not impossible, but it's not exactly the ideal way to go about it. I didn't say you couldn't use one hand, nor did I even imply such an attempt would be utterly futile. But I did try to encourage a believable course of action. I feel this promotes immersion for everyone.

Re: picking up the rope. I'm unsure if you're implying I should let you pick up the rope for free, or if you're concerned about a potential opportunity attack.

In the former case, there is a reason that your character is only capable of holding two items at once; I wouldn't let you weild a selection of 7 weapons and choose which to attack with each turn, nor do I believe you would expect not to spend an action in order to pick up an item and attack with it if that item happened to be a magic sword. If you for whatever reason had the rope in hand when the fight started, wouldn't you expect to spend an action to draw a weapon? This isn't a penalty for not using a power, this is a process consistent with using a power that requires you to change weapons.

In the latter case, I'm having a hard time envisioning someone trying this tactic if they began their turn engaged in melee. Either way though, once again I'll draw the comparison to picking up a different weapon in order to use a standard power. Your complaints about this disadvantage are not evidence of an unusual strategy's inferiority to a conventional one, they are evidence of the fact that bending down and picking something up constitutes some amount of effort. You are welcome to weild a rope as your primary weapon, if you choose, and thus avoid spending actions to pick them up in the middle of combat.

Re: grab attacks.
First of all, you're acting as if immobilizing the target is an irrelevant effect. If it is, then your strategy of impromptu rope combat is probably ill considered. Additionally, you gloss over completely the attack penalty I awarded for success with the rope... -2 is as good as cover or concealment, and as big a swing as combat advantage, which are all very significant circumstances in 4e. Success with the grab represents you having enough of a hold on your opponent with your rope that you are holding onto them. This would restrict their freedom of movement more than having a fistful of their shirt, thus the additional penalty, but not more than fighting through a fence (which would also be a -2). If you mean to lassoo an angry combatant and bind him from head to toe in a single round, you're at least going to need to invest an action point. Which, incidentally, you are welcome to do.

Secondly, I don't understand your complaint about the trick "not working" unless you're a strength based character. Now, if your character in this hypothetical were a rogue or an archery ranger, and you described your action in such a way that it seemed reasonable, I'd probably let you use your dexterity modifier instead. If you had the Melee Training feat, I'd allow it to apply here, too. However, if your character were an int/wis eladrin wizard who dumped strength... then I would have thought you had understood that your character would be bad at this sort of thing when you rolled him up. Just yesterday, your equally hypothetical fighter buddy realized that he could have pulled the lever across the chasm with Mage Hand if his character was completely different, but it wasn't and he couldn't.

As far as the attack modifiers go, if you want to do damage and gain proficiency and enchancement bonuses while making grabs, I will direct you to the Adventurer's Vault. There is at least one weapon enchantment in there that allows your magic pointy thing to be used for grab attacks. However, in this example, you are using a mundane improvised weapon. The +6 vorpal fullblade in your jacket pocket does not make the javelins you're carrying "just in case" into magic items, and neither does it bestow its enchantment onto your rope. I don't see why this is unreasonable.

Note further that grab attacks target reflex, which in the vast majority of cases is (deliberately) lower than AC. This is the reason that impliment powers don't benefit from proficiency bonuses, even if the impliment is also a weapon. So actually, losing your proficiency bonus in order to target a non-armour defense instead of AC is usually at least an even trade, and on average losing it to target reflex will work out as a profit. You're only actually giving up the enchancement bonus, which you do when you use any mundane weapon, whether it's with a power or not.

Put bluntly, if your character is fighting monsters he has no hope of hitting without his +4 weapon, it's not a stretch to imagine that they're too tough for rope tactics to work on. It's no different from missing with a mundane longsword for the same reason.


...and lastly, you either ignored or dismissed out of hand the options I gave you for tying up your opponent further. I'm not sure if you missed the part where after tying knots your character could walk away from the opponent and have the conditions persist, or if there was some other miscommunication, so I'll make sure we're on the same page here.

An opponent you tie up (minimally, investing 1 standard action) has a speed of 2 and takes a -2 penalty to attacks (again, as much as if his targets had cover against him) until he escapes the rope, and additionlly even failed attempts to escape it cost him actions. Meanwhile, you are free to move and act as you please. If you don't think this is severe enough, one more standard action and it costs him his entire turn to attempt to escape the rope, his penalty to hit becomes -5 (as severe as the blinded condition or total cover), and his chances to escape successfully decrease by 25%. This is about as tied up as people trying to kill you will get in 12 seconds. More to the point, it's a very severe list of effects. It may or may not be a better strategy than using your at-will attacks in a given situation, but that's kind of what I was aiming for. If I want to reward you for something particularly cool, I'll give you an action point. If you want to do something particularly cool, spend an action point. If you want to do something unusual without spending a resource (such as an action point... I imagine doing so above to grab + tie in one turn would lead to something more like you had in mind), don't expect it to be as good as an action that costs a resource. I think that's only fair.

(I will admit I overlooked that a monster effected by the dazed version could charge his full speed, but I wouldn't have had the monster charge come his turn, and I would have informed the table of what I'd noticed and that I was adding slow back to the second stage)


now re: the toss overboard ruling
So you're saying I need to make three checks to do this, plus a fourth to avoid falling over as well. Again, this means my character is better off using a Power In The Book.
Seeing as there is already a mechanic for picking someone up and hauling them around, and that the action you describe is effectively picking someone up and hauling them around with a 3 foot barrier tacked on, I don't know what to tell you here. An athletics check to lift a heavy object is pretty much as basic as it gets. I should clarify that the athletics check would be part of the "move a grabbed target" action and not cost further actions. This ruling *is* using a Power In The Book, exactly as written. If you don't think it's as good as your at wills, I'll remind you that in almost every scenario, succeeding effectively kills the monster for the purposes of the encounter. You'll be happy to roll the opposed checks when the pirate orcs you're fighting see what you did to Green Captain Barbossa and decide to give it a try.

...and they will. You want to play a game where you can try anything and it might work, where your choices aren't numbered 1 through 4? Done, but that goes for everyone. Realism works both ways.


now re: the mast ruling
That's a nice ruling so I'll give you one out of three for that. However, note that cover still only imposes a -2 to hit, so he can attack me just fine and dandy.

Don't take this the wrong way but it's statements like this that make me wonder if you've avoided playing 4e and are making assumptions about modifiers like these based on how good it would be in 3.5. -2 is significant, MUCH moreso in 4e than in 3.5.

Beyond which, we're talking about a mast here. Grab a buddy, pick up a couple of sticks, go stand on either side of a telephone pole, and try to hit each other. Awkward? Sure, but really, how much do you want? Not only would giving you a massive modifier here be unrealistic and be way out of whack with every other piece of terrain on the board, it'd lead to a foolish seeming combat themed around hiding behind a tree like a 6 year old on the preposterous grounds that it is the most tactically rewarding strategy. Remember, if it worked for you, it'll work for the NPCs, and if you pulled it off without a skill check and it was better than their next option, they're going to be doing a lot of it.



I hope I haven't come off as rude.
-sleepy

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-26, 02:28 AM
3> So you want to X (where X is a utility power)? Well, you get an X that isn't certain to work, and you cannot check if it worked until you commit to it. And if you try to pull off the same trick twice...

You get to do it -- but it isn't reliable. Sure, you'd be better off using tumble if you had it -- but if you need to get from point A to point B...
I'm concerned about this - it seems like it'll promote power proliferation. Rather than saying "hey, I swung on a chandelier!" you are now saying "ah ha! There's a secret extra power I can use all the time." I mean, why hasn't anyone aside from the characters thought about using Acrobatics to Tumble? Yes, it will be a Standard Action on top of a Move Action (I presume?) but now it's just another power in everyone's arsenal - it goes from being cool to being something the system forgot to do.

The tumble example is actually rather dangerous - Fighters generally do not have good Reflex saves, so you will suddenly remove their stickiness against pretty much anyone with Trained Acrobatics. I'm sure you could tweak the power some more to make it less bad here, but this is a lot more fine-tuning for a supposed "one-off" power.

Also: the penalties shouldn't be OAs - you can get extremely high AC versus OAs. Call it a Basic Melee Attack as a free action to keep the harm consistently grave.

sleepy
2009-04-26, 03:10 AM
Character archetypes who had Tumble as a class skill in 3.5 have powers that grant massive shifts or involve movement during which you get bonuses to your defenses in 4e. Options for avoiding opportunity attacks were not forgotten.

As a quick example, take a look at the Barbarian.

Aquillion
2009-04-26, 03:15 AM
I think the best solution is to do what Exalted does with stunts, and make going outside the box central to the system.

Jerthanis
2009-04-26, 03:29 AM
That's precisely the point. You can do whatever you like, but the system penalizes you for doing so by making your actions generally ineffective unless you use one of the Powers In The Book.


For clarity's sake, I was trying to illustrate the attractiveness of "playing within the box" from a conscientious player's perspective. Creative thinking requires some degree of verbal back-and-forth with the DM, because the Player is never going to be able to anticipate a DM's arbitration, and this necessarily eats up time. Meanwhile, a Player who knows the mechanics of his powers can make a decision on his action before his turn arrives and will resolve it much faster, which speeds the game up. I wasn't trying to show how a DM should or would give harsh penalties to improvised actions, I was simply engineering a situation where a player could theoretically ask a string of questions and not immediately settle upon the first option.

Aquillion
2009-04-26, 03:50 AM
For clarity's sake, I was trying to illustrate the attractiveness of "playing within the box" from a conscientious player's perspective. Creative thinking requires some degree of verbal back-and-forth with the DM, because the Player is never going to be able to anticipate a DM's arbitration, and this necessarily eats up time. Meanwhile, a Player who knows the mechanics of his powers can make a decision on his action before his turn arrives and will resolve it much faster, which speeds the game up. I wasn't trying to show how a DM should or would give harsh penalties to improvised actions, I was simply engineering a situation where a player could theoretically ask a string of questions and not immediately settle upon the first option.
Hmm, that's a good point, and it explains the problem that the OP is seeing without relying on the (IMHO) dubious explanation of all these experienced players just "not getting it" or whatever.

Nobody wants to slow the game down. Nobody wants to have to rely on DM fiat for something that they're pretty sure they could just do easily another way. Nobody wants to spend time figuring out exactly how something works when there's something generally like it that is completely obvious.

On top of this, in general, if there's already a clear mechanical ability that lets you do something in the game (an "I swing on the chandelier!" power, say), players are generally going to be more reluctant to try and do that without the necessary power -- first of all, because they'll (quite reasonably) expect a more rough DM arbitration, and second, because it really does feel like intruding on the turf of whoever actually took the power.

So when you give players lots of mechanical options, it can easily result in them being less likely to invent "creative" things themselves. A game with rules for everything actually discourages creativity in many ways. If the players have a rule that almost or sorta approximates what they want to do, chances are they'll use that rule rather than make something up. If there's no rule, they'll probably just make it up as they go along.

Saph
2009-04-26, 04:06 AM
Mr. Black is a man very much like myself - he enjoys the mechanics of systems and will play whatever is put in front of him - which makes him my hardest case, because he still does not like 4E. He likes it mechanically, to be sure, but there's just something about the Powers system that strikes him funny for a Fantasy game...

. . .

I've asked them about what, exactly, is bothering them, but aside from Mrs. Black's "all I do is damage" (easily solved), Mr. Black is unable to verbalize his full objections - it just doesn't "feel right." The same is true of the other players in the Superhero game - something is just off.

Hmm . . .

Well, upon going back and re-reading the thread and the information you've supplied about the players, I'm starting to think that the issue might be pretty simple: they just don't like 4e. End of story.

A lot of possible reasons have been suggested, but you can't necessarily analyse these things. It's always tempting to believe that if you present and explain and houserule your favourite system in just the right way, anyone will enjoy it. But sometimes people just flat-out dislike a game and there's nothing you can do about it.

With that in mind, is there a reason that you have to run your game in 4e, rather than in 3.5, AD&D, or a different system altogether? You've been saying about how you play lots of games, so why not try a different one?

If someone genuinely dislikes a system, even after having tried it, then it's often a bad idea to try and 'make' them like it. Actually, it's often counterproductive, and likely to cause bad feeling. Why not just take a poll among the group, find their favourite system, and use that instead? It's not as though it's difficult for an experienced GM to switch systems.

- Saph

CarpeGuitarrem
2009-04-26, 06:40 AM
I think the best solution is to do what Exalted does with stunts, and make going outside the box central to the system.
The thing is, that hasn't ever really been the point of D&D. Stunts, if they exist, are flourishes here and there, not things that you pull off every turn. If you want to play a stunt-central game, I'd recommend to actually play Exalted, instead of trimming D&D into an Exalted lookalike.

Thinking upon this, there might be another, interesting solution. Create "improvisation" powers. An Improvisation power takes a normal power slot, and gives the character a certain number of points to spend on a move. This scales up according to the level of the power, and whether it's an Encounter or Daily.

Things like extra dice of damage are worth a certain amount of points, as are things like status effects caused, extra modifier damage, and stuff like shifting. I could also see the implementation of skill synergy: when you make a skill roll along with the attack roll, if both succeed, you gain an extra bonus to tack on, or else have to drop one of the points you spent on the power, or something like that. You could also have a case where you spend a point to substitute a trained skill for the attack roll.

So, you have an improvisation power of a certain level, and you want to use it. You make up the power on the spot, slotting in these components to make a full-fledged power...then you implement it. Obviously the points available would have to make it slightly less powerful than most Encounters/Dailies, because it can be tailored to the situation at hand, but still powerful enough to warrant taking up that slot.

Granted, this also takes DM prep, but it's probably one of the better ways of guaranteeing balance in the game. (Heh, you could even do this for all of the powers of the character, if you so desired)

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 07:02 AM
Did you consider that this is not the creativity the players are complaining about?

My favourite part of the game is character creation. That is part of the fun. If I don't have a character I'm interested in, I won't enjoy playing it.

Furthermore:
4.0 is a disassociated system.
Your abilities have nothing to do with your actions in too many cases.

You don't really "Mark" someone. You are doing no physical thing to the person. Someone else's "mark" removes your mark. What the hell do these things mean?

Short answer: Nothing. They don't represent anything. They lead to ridiculous questions like Do 4E monsters know they are under the effect of player abilities (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109857). That should never be a question, because it is always "are they aware of the thing the player is doing". In 4E, for far too many cases, the player is doing nothing.

Why the hell are they then going to pour boiling water on someone when everything else in the game is just abstract addition and subtraction with only occassional connection to the world they're in?

Furthermore still:
In 3.5 I took my monk, I pounded some garlic, I got some holy water, I mixed them together as a paste. I put them in a wine bottle. I had our cleric cast Daylight on it "just incase", and smashed it over the head of a vampire.

DM gave it D6 damage. I rolled a 3. My unarmed punch would have done D12+2D8+D6+D4+3. Why would I reduce every action to DM whims when so often the result is as the above?

arguskos
2009-04-26, 07:55 AM
In 3.5 I took my monk, I pounded some garlic, I got some holy water, I mixed them together as a paste. I put them in a wine bottle. I had our cleric cast Daylight on it "just incase", and smashed it over the head of a vampire.

DM gave it D6 damage. I rolled a 3. My unarmed punch would have done D12+2D8+D6+D4+3. Why would I reduce every action to DM whims when so often the result is as the above?
/offtopic
Were I a fellow player, I'd probably beat your DM with my shoe for being a bastard. Note that as a DM, I'd give that a 1d6 damage, add 1/2 Str, and probably give the vamp a Fort save vs. annihilation. :smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:
/offtopic

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 09:05 AM
/offtopic
Were I a fellow player, I'd probably beat your DM with my shoe for being a bastard. Note that as a DM, I'd give that a 1d6 damage, add 1/2 Str, and probably give the vamp a Fort save vs. annihilation. :smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:
/offtopic

Heh. I'd have given it 2D6 damage per round until he got the paste off, skip all DR. I considered once making a cleric Animate Objects on a bag of holy symbols too.

Back on topic:
The problem is though, that these are all subject to DM whims. I cannot make stuff up. You shouldn't make stuff up. If you want to homebrew anything, you have to ask the DM, and more often than not the DM will agree to some sub-par variant of just using a "from the book" ability.

In addition, you don't want to be adjudicating all of this "at the table". If you are, you are an extraordinary GM. Whether extraordinarily poor or good is a matter of debate.

As far as I can tell 4E is used by restrictive GMs who want players to be hemmed in. "I want control and balance!" cries the 4E GM. Which in turn is not conducive to an atmosphere where players can ask for anything.

You specifically put them in an atmosphere created for limiting what players can do because of the above complaints about 3.5. 4 is about balance and it has sacrificed what people can do to compensate.

That is why spells which used to be "at will" like a warlock's fly are now "daily", as is featherfall. That is why I can't make my conjurer anymore, my spellthief, my warforge artificer, my hidden lock, my phoelarch, my vampire, my monk, my barbarian, my shifter, my luck cleric, my ranger/beastmaster, my dragonrider, my air twin, my wallwalker, my Orc ranger, etc.

Not one character I have ever made is even possible in 4E. Consider what that means when you're telling me my creativity is not being restricted. Tell me, to my face, that I cannot make my shadowjumping, hiding, teleporting, mirror imaging, warlock, but instead I can be creative by pushing over a pot conveniently placed above an equally conveniently placed enemy and should be happy with that even though I could already do it.

As I've said before:
A String on a piece of wood: DnD
A Lute: ADnD
A Guitar: 3.0
An Electric Guitar: 3.5

4 is just Guitar Hero... with people trying to convince guitar players that:
"It's fun!" That's true, it is fun.
"It's also electric!" That's... true... I guess... where are you going with thi...
"You can make your own songs!" Erm... kindof... I wouldn't quite say...
"You creativity is not restricted by it!" Now hang on a minute... I don't think..
"The electric guitar is dead! Long live it's successor!" No, you heathen, it is not. Long live the electric guitar. Long live Zepplin. Long live rock. Long live Metal.

shadow_archmagi
2009-04-26, 09:18 AM
Responding to the original post:

Doing something in the book by the book is a guaranteed. If I cast Fireball I know darned well it's going to do CasterD6 damage and take a standard action to cast.

If I grind garlic into a powder and mix it with holy water and then use a sling to fire a pot of the paste onto a Vampire, that's a much more uncertain action. It's going to require DM permission, it's going to require DM interpretation, it's going to take up multiple rounds to do, and it's also entirely possible for it to take up extra real-world time if I disagree with the DM over what it should do.
And then it's still possible that he'll just give it a d6 damage.

It's not "The Box" so much as "Would you rather take the slick, pre-designed railroad with luxury cars, or walk? Remember that walking incurs fatigue and foot damage!"

CarpeGuitarrem
2009-04-26, 09:46 AM
The problem is though, that these are all subject to DM whims. I cannot make stuff up. You shouldn't make stuff up. If you want to homebrew anything, you have to ask the DM, and more often than not the DM will agree to some sub-par variant of just using a "from the book" ability.

In addition, you don't want to be adjudicating all of this "at the table". If you are, you are an extraordinary GM. Whether extraordinarily poor or good is a matter of debate.

As far as I can tell 4E is used by restrictive GMs who want players to be hemmed in. "I want control and balance!" cries the 4E GM. Which in turn is not conducive to an atmosphere where players can ask for anything.

You specifically put them in an atmosphere created for limiting what players can do because of the above complaints about 3.5. 4 is about balance and it has sacrificed what people can do to compensate.

That is why spells which used to be "at will" like a warlock's fly are now "daily", as is featherfall. That is why I can't make my conjurer anymore, my spellthief, my warforge artificer, my hidden lock, my phoelarch, my vampire, my monk, my barbarian, my shifter, my luck cleric, my ranger/beastmaster, my dragonrider, my air twin, my wallwalker, my Orc ranger, etc.

Not one character I have ever made is even possible in 4E. Consider what that means when you're telling me my creativity is not being restricted. Tell me, to my face, that I cannot make my shadowjumping, hiding, teleporting, mirror imaging, warlock, but instead I can be creative by pushing over a pot conveniently placed above an equally conveniently placed enemy and should be happy with that even though I could already do it.

As I've said before:
A String on a piece of wood: DnD
A Lute: ADnD
A Guitar: 3.0
An Electric Guitar: 3.5

4 is just Guitar Hero... with people trying to convince guitar players that:
"It's fun!" That's true, it is fun.
"It's also electric!" That's... true... I guess... where are you going with thi...
"You can make your own songs!" Erm... kindof... I wouldn't quite say...
"You creativity is not restricted by it!" Now hang on a minute... I don't think..
"The electric guitar is dead! Long live it's successor!" No, you heathen, it is not. Long live the electric guitar. Long live Zepplin. Long live rock. Long live Metal.

You know, I think you just dislike 4E in general, regardless of the facts. 4E is certainly not used by evil DMs who want to hem in the creativity of their players. It is a tool used to give some structure to the game. If you really want to play all of those options you listed, please don't play D&D. It's not at all suited to that style of play.

And really, it sounds like you want D&D to be a puzzle adventure game, where anything and everything works, where all challenges exist to be figured out. Which, interestingly, hugely gets in the way of roleplay. I mean, why roleplay when your sole goal is to figure out a way to outwit the DM with an obscure combination of this and that?

As for your analogy, it's more like 4.0 is the electric guitar, whereas 3.5 is the specialized, custom-built guitar. The variety comes through how many rules you have, so that you have a rule to cover every possible situation. Instead of the variety coming through how you interpret the basic, simple rules to apply to multiple situations.

Streamlining is the name of the game.

imp_fireball
2009-04-26, 09:48 AM
This is interesting... because the comments of Oracle Hunter's mirrors my own gaming group's attitudes, about six months into our year long 'exploration by campaign' of the new edition.

Nobody hates it, but no one seriously believes we'll bother going back to it when the campaign is over - except for one-offs and tournaments, which interestingly everyone thinks its perfect for. There a few other quibbles with the system, mainly "characters are a bit too similar outside of powers" and several which are simply matters of taste ("I just miss Vancian casting" for example) but the main complaint is exactly what you described.

We know that page 42 covers chandelier swinging and other odd rules perfectly well, but the main sticking point isn't that sort of situation; its when PCs want to try something that's clearly a Power they don't have. Sometimes its a Power possessed by another class (the wizard tries to disarm a foe with her staff, for example) and sometimes its an action similar to a power the PC could have picked but didn't.

While we're all aware that you could improvise based on p42 or a similar Power, we can't help but feel that its stepping on the toes of those PCs that do have the appropriate power. 'Once in lifetime' situations we can easily overlook, but both DM and players think that the fun of creative combat activity and desperate gonzo strategies they enjoy in previous editions (and other systems) is somewhat stifled here.

In our case at least, its not so much a case of being unwilling/discouraged to think outside the box, but the fact that they were given the box in the first place means some things have been put in it.

Just my 2 cents

Quoted for truth. That pretty decently reflects my opinion on the matter.


If you really want to play all of those options you listed, please don't play D&D

Correction: If you really want to play all of those options you listed, please don't play 4ed D&D. D&D includes more than 4ed remember?

DMfromTheAbyss
2009-04-26, 10:44 AM
Ok I see both sides of this so I figured I'd weigh in with my own two coppers.

Some see D&D 4rth edition as more restrictive. It doesn't allow all these "cool abilities" it doesn't let me play shadow jumping warlocks and cool combinations that let you try out bizarre strategies.

This is true.

It is also been put forward that 4rth ed D&D doesn't let you be as free and creative as you want in a given situation.

This is not true.

Allow me to explain. If your character concept relies solely on "Build and powers" then no you can't neccessarily do everything you want. If however you have a character who in the process of play wants to try something that is "unscripted" or spontaneous, then yes you can do that.

The biggest problem I had with 3.5 was that your build limited you, if you were built to do such and such, that's what you did, You had vastly more freedom to optimize a character. But actual choices in play were pretty moot. Not a warrior with great cleave.. no hitting multiple people with an attack... not a multiclass half lycanthropic were-monkey, no cool stats for you. Heaven help you if your conceept didn't involve spell casting or a large amount of time to plan a character, or worse a campaign that had slightly off house rules that invalidate a build.

So 4rth edition is easier for a DM to put togeather, simpler, streamlined and built to be balanced so you can throw a character concept togeather and have a good time with it.

3.5 excells at giving players what they want as far as having class/prestige class combinations that let them do whatever they want if they can optimize enough. It rewards players with knoledge of the rules in character creation.

If you have a GM with a lot of time on his hands who is good and trying for something specific, 3.5 probably could do it better. If your GM wants to have an easier time of things 4rth ed works better for sheer simplicity.

Also most of the figuring out what would x do in y situation comes down to DM fiat. No matter the system, a bad DM will screw it up, a good DM will save it. As I see it this entire thread should be more about DM's and their skill level with adjucating creative players than any edition war nonesense. Heck alot of the same goes for any game system. Creativity is up to the DM and the players and their respective capabilities, system means increadibly little.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-26, 11:13 AM
Well, upon going back and re-reading the thread and the information you've supplied about the players, I'm starting to think that the issue might be pretty simple: they just don't like 4e. End of story.
Naturally, that would be the simple conclusion, but there is one very important piece of information that, I guess, I haven't made clear enough.

Mr. Black just won't leave 4E alone.

It's gotten so bad that the rest of his group refers to 4E as his "abusive girlfriend" because no matter how many bad experiences he has with it, he just can't leave.

Now, I may be overconfident in my abilities as a DM, but I really do think I can deliver the gaming experience they'd enjoy - after all, 4E is just a system; you can use it to play pretty much any D&D game you'd like. If, after a few sessions, with open communication back & forth, he decides that, for some reason, out of all the RPG systems he's played, 4E's mechanics are just too odious to use - well, then perhaps both of us can put it to rest.

Heck, it'll be a great learning experience for me. I still cannot understand what it is about the Powers System that turns people off so much; anyone who is willing to play GURPS, Shadowrun, TORG and 3.5E clearly doesn't have trouble adapting to wildly different mechanics - so what's the deal? And no, I'm not asking for a response here - I've read enough already and it just hasn't made it through my thick skull :smalltongue:

As for why not another system...

Spoilered for Opinionated Ranting - Reader Discretion is Advised
Well, to begin with the veteran player from my last campaign wants to play some more with her character, and most of my other players have left town. Secondly, Mr. Black's obsession points to a sort of synergy here - maybe we can have a good time and learn some useful stuff about this system. Finally, it is a voluntary game - if Mr. & Mrs. Black decide they'd rather not, then I just run a conventional game with whomever I can scrape together; it's not like he's hurting for games :smalltongue:

On a side note: I'm never DMing 3.5 again. Yes, I had a fun time in Mr. Black's game, but I also saw what he had to do to make it work. He had a literal bookcase of 3.5 books, a binder of house rules, and played out of a setting book with published modules.

And on the player side, I would often get frustrated when we'd be facing someone I couldn't sneak attack (and thus was pretty worthless for the fight), bored when traps were easier to just set-off by the Paladin than me trying to disarm, and irritated when the later games were nothing more than "Mr. Thief fails a Will Save and Ms. Cleric saves the day" - there is nothing more annoying than finally facing the BBEG and then getting Held in the first round, and Confused as soon as you get out of it :smallannoyed:

I liked Twitch as a character, but mechanically he would have been better as a caster. And when your D&D Thief is the worst person in the party for doing thieving-stuff, I think you have a problem.

EDIT:
Good Lord, I did not intend to start up another Edition War Thread :smalleek:

Good people who believe 4E sucks - I hear you. Good job.
Good people who believe 3E sucks - It's been said. Let's move on.

I don't think anyone at this rodeo is walking in, dewy-eyed, trying to figure out which system to try. We've all either tried both, or are firmly in one camp. If anyone would like to read some excellent rants on these matters, please use the forum search function. I imagine if you search for my posts, with keywords "4E" and "3E" you will find every Edition War thread since launch :smalltongue:

What I am looking for is how to most effectively use the tools of the system (DMG 42, among others) and atmosphere of the gaming session to let people "loosen up" about their characters. Yakk had some very good suggestions for how to model powers to encourage more "experimentation;" other people have made excellent suggestions for framing issues to help people relax. I'd like more of these, and less Edition Warz, if at all possible :smallsmile:

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 11:20 AM
You know, I think you just dislike 4E in general, regardless of the facts. 4E is certainly not used by evil DMs who want to hem in the creativity of their players. It is a tool used to give some structure to the game. If you really want to play all of those options you listed, please don't play D&D. It's not at all suited to that style of play.

And really, it sounds like you want D&D to be a puzzle adventure game, where anything and everything works, where all challenges exist to be figured out. Which, interestingly, hugely gets in the way of roleplay. I mean, why roleplay when your sole goal is to figure out a way to outwit the DM with an obscure combination of this and that?

As for your analogy, it's more like 4.0 is the electric guitar, whereas 3.5 is the specialized, custom-built guitar. The variety comes through how many rules you have, so that you have a rule to cover every possible situation. Instead of the variety coming through how you interpret the basic, simple rules to apply to multiple situations.

Streamlining is the name of the game.

You assumed:
1) I don't like 4E. Not true. I do like (+ own) 4E. I also like (+ own) guitar hero. I simply don't think either are replacements for the thing they are copying. 4th ed is basically 1st ed of something entirely different, which is fine. We'd have no version wars if this were admitted.

2) I'm trying to outwit the DM. Not true. I bring all my characters, and point out the implications, plus what I intend to play, to the GM before playing. The point isn't a puzzle, it is making the character I find interesting.

For example:
I once made a warforge that was effectively the servant of my cohort (a "dryad").

A gnomish artificer had made me after accidentally cutting down the dryad's tree. The gnome spent his life trying to make it up to the dryad by building her a new home to replace her own and whatnot.

The gnome grew to love the dryad after a time, and was saddened by the sense that she never forgave him.

The dryad was impressed by the gnome, and slowly grew to love him too. Being fey, she adored being doted on, but being fey she never told the gnome she loved him or that she forgave him, for fear he would leave. She didn't notice he was growing old, and she didn't realize he was dying.

The gnome realizing his time was coming to an end built the warforge out of ironwood, and made it's heart from the Dryads fallen tree. It's only command was to give the dryad what she truly wanted to be happy.

The construct started plain but over time shrunk in stature, the heart guiding his shifts. A green bushy beard has grown around his chin, and a little pot belly that would look odd on any other construct has sprouted.

Now the dryad loves him too but still stays silent, and the little gnomish construct artificer still makes her trinkets to show his affection, trying harder each day, though he doesn't know why, to be more like the master she misses so much.

Puzzle? No. Character that's fun the play? Yes. P.S. The above is RAW and RAI with the only changes being fluff. :P Feel free to puzzle out how.

It's not just about power. Power is the side effect of freedom. You've lost something to give you balance, which is something you should have always had in a game with a human referee.

3) It's just about what you can do in a combat scenario. Not true. I don't find that particularly interesting. I can do some maths and figure out how to get X to its peak, that's boring. Again, I'd suggest character creation is the key flaw. The role you play is more limited. Not the roll-playing we seem to be discussing. :P

Edited to add: I agree with DMfromtheabyss to an extent, but as I said, that's my favourite part of the system gone. That's why the first thing I said to Oracle "Are you sure that's the creativity they're referring to?" In combat shenanigans instead of out of combat (or even out of game) development of their characters.

Jerthanis
2009-04-26, 11:22 AM
Not one character I have ever made is even possible in 4E. Consider what that means when you're telling me my creativity is not being restricted. Tell me, to my face, that I cannot make my shadowjumping, hiding, teleporting, mirror imaging, warlock, but instead I can be creative by pushing over a pot conveniently placed above an equally conveniently placed enemy and should be happy with that even though I could already do it.

Not one character I've ever made in Mutants and Masterminds is even possible in Exalted. That is exactly as significant as what you're saying about 4th Edition D&D. The list of supernatural powers that a system gives to you as options is entirely irrespective of its ability to let you be creative with a character.

So it's hard to become invisible persistently in 4th edition? It's also hard to become persistently invisible in Hunter: The Vigil. Does that make it a game that restricts my creativity? Long distance teleportation is practically impossible in Exalted, while in D&D 4e, I can teleport across the world with Linked Portal at level 8. That's a mechanical option 4E lends me that Exalted doesn't... does this make it in any way an objectively better game system? No... it's just different things a character can accomplish.

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 11:33 AM
Not one character I've ever made in Mutants and Masterminds is even possible in Exalted. That is exactly as significant as what you're saying about 4th Edition D&D. The list of supernatural powers that a system gives to you as options is entirely irrespective of its ability to let you be creative with a character.

So it's hard to become invisible persistently in 4th edition? It's also hard to become persistently invisible in Hunter: The Vigil. Does that make it a game that restricts my creativity? Long distance teleportation is practically impossible in Exalted, while in D&D 4e, I can teleport across the world with Linked Portal at level 8. That's a mechanical option 4E lends me that Exalted doesn't... does this make it in any way an objectively better game system? No... it's just different things a character can accomplish.

But this (again) is what I said earlier. I like 4E. It is simply not 4th edition of the same game.

I wouldn't like that White Wolf's "Vampire" series took out Nosferatu/Ventrue/Etc from the game system. I'd say that was fewer options. I'd say that restricted my creativity.

If some company called Ben's games came out with a vampire game with no Nosferatu, I'd give it a shot with no complaints. I'd likely still prefer WW's vampire with the cool extras.

Edit: There's also the minor detail, that I look at what I want to build first, then decide if it can be done. So far DnD3.5 is the only system that has been a universal yes without days of homebrewing.

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 11:42 AM
Sorry Oracle bout derailing your thread, I'm too verbose for my own good, and I'm being extremely unfair to you. In summary and back on topic:

1) Are you sure the creativity you're talking about is what they can do in combat and not character creation (or elsewhere)?

If it is either of these things maybe challenge them to convert their favorite 3.5 class to 4E. Offer to help them.

Let them submit classless/raceless character concepts and try to help them build them in 4E.

This could of course all go horribly wrong. :P

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-26, 12:00 PM
Are you sure the creativity you're talking about is what they can do in combat and not character creation (or elsewhere)?A fair question. Here's why I'm pretty sure it's combat related:
In my experience watching Mrs. Black play, she has never cared much at all about mechanics. In the 3E game she played a straight halfling bard, but let her husband pick all her powers and level her up. Her main interest seemed to be "doing neat/useful stuff in combat" and (more importantly) roleplaying. In addition, her complaint about her 4E Elven Bow Ranger is that "all she does is damage" - combined with her bard experience, I'd say she just wants to be able to do more effects (like Glitterdust) instead of just doing damage. A Wizard with all his zones and status effects should please her greatly - plus, taking down minions will probably please her tremendously.

Her husband, Mr. Black, I have only played with briefly - he's usually DM. However, in our conversations, I've noticed he thinks very much like myself - a numbers man who is always thinking about optimization but rarely lets that get in the way of his RP. Just the other day he was enthusing with one of his fellow players in a d20 game that the DM just gave them access to a ridiculously broken prestige class - so of course he's going to take it. On the other hand, I saw him play a 4E Halfling Laser Cleric, multiclassed into Paladin, who had a grand old time Challenging the BBEG and then running about zapping him.

Neither of them has ever expressed a desire to play some wacky race with permanent invisibility or somesuch - they're "vanilla" gamers in that sense. So I'm pretty sure they're not missing super-multiclassing on finding broken combos - Mr. Black refuses to run a 3E game over 10th level, for example. And Mr. Black was the man who converted 4E into a Superhero system just to play around with 4E some more - and he didn't homebrew up a single class to do so.

And don't worry about "derailing" the thread - if I had a dollar for every thread I've derailed, I'd be living someplace far nicer :smalltongue:
I was just more concerned to see the fires of War being rekindled once more.

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 12:16 PM
Hmm. well my initial reaction was "well, this is why I would rather play 3.5" but that does seem to be different.

Still, are you sure it is combat and not something else? Seriously, think about it overnight or ask them. I'm not sure what it could be but I find many misunderstandings come from misunderstanding the argument rather than the answers.

Just give it some thought.

Other than that, assuming it is combat, I like the idea of demonstrating what they can do with the enemies.
Pull an erfworld where they cannot win by only using their in built abilities.
Build a party that is substantially weaker than they are, but let them do all the things you want the party to do. Give the party the "crap we should have done that" feeling two or three times.

Most importantly: Give them a lot of environment to work with. This is a lot of work, but if they are in a room with 1246278648 objects, odds are, one will come in handy. If you put them in barren *cough*boring*cough* environments without description, they won't be drawn to use that to their advantage. (I have a hard time doing this I have to admit. I'm good with large scale. I'm good with details in characters, but I'm bad with details of rooms and whatnot. One cheat is to go through interior decorating magazines or an ikea book and just arrange the room like you see in the picture. ;)).

Yakk
2009-04-26, 01:45 PM
I'm concerned about this - it seems like it'll promote power proliferation. Rather than saying "hey, I swung on a chandelier!" you are now saying "ah ha! There's a secret extra power I can use all the time." I mean, why hasn't anyone aside from the characters thought about using Acrobatics to Tumble? Yes, it will be a Standard Action on top of a Move Action (I presume?) but now it's just another power in everyone's arsenal - it goes from being cool to being something the system forgot to do.
Naw, just a standard action.

Yes, it means an PC could bypass a fighter's stickyness -- but they cannot do it and attack. The design goal for the fighter's stickyness is that attacking anyone else while marked by the fighter is a serious pain. By giving up a standard action, the person evading the fighter loses the ability to attack anyone else.

And this isn't about PvP -- it is about someone (in particular, a PC) trying a trick. NPCs will have collections of powers that are intended tricks.

Then again, I'd probably give anyone who has marked the acrobatics-dodge character an OA, against the higher of their OA-AC or the acrobatics check result.

And yes, they are intended as 'general house rules, pulled out of my ass'. I spent about as much time as you would imagine it would take to type them to think them up.

If it turns out that they caused problems, I'd hack at them again.

But a standard action is a huge cost sink. And someone burning a standard action for a purely mobility utility effect ... well, that is a rather large price to pay.

I exacted prices. The 'dodge between the guys feet' one required a standard action to set up. The 'use acrobatics to tumble' burned a standard action on a move. But I didn't say "no, you cannot do that".

And yes, this extends player options. And no, it isn't as good as the per-encounter rogue Tumble power, which requires a move action and never fails.

Tossing OAs at PCs, increasing the cost of a move to a standard action, using a limited damage expression, creating an extra chance to fail, allowing a particular trick to be used at most once per (session/level/day), being very liberal with the first trick the player pulls off in each encounter, etc:

All are ways to introduce a cost that makes saying "yes, and the effect is awesome" easier to do.

Say yes. Introduce a cost. Introduce a chance of failure.

Also: the penalties shouldn't be OAs - you can get extremely high AC versus OAs. Call it a Basic Melee Attack as a free action to keep the harm consistently grave.Most AC bonuses vs OAs are "when moving". And the reason why I'm giving out OAs is that you are leaving yourself open by doing something.


You are doing no physical thing to the person. Someone else's "mark" removes your mark. What the hell do these things mean?
Honestly, that is an easy thing to patch. And it was a patch that was added after the design to deal with a particular abuse of the marking mechanic.

A more complex, but less disassociative patch, is: "Marks overlap. Conditions on mark-based powers that mention the applier of the mark now symmetrically apply to all markers of the target."

They probably even considered that, but it would confuse people. So they took the simpler option.


In 3.5 I took my monk, I pounded some garlic, I got some holy water, I mixed them together as a paste. I put them in a wine bottle. I had our cleric cast Daylight on it "just incase", and smashed it over the head of a vampire.

DM gave it D6 damage. I rolled a 3. My unarmed punch would have done D12+2D8+D6+D4+3. Why would I reduce every action to DM whims when so often the result is as the above?*nod*, and 4e's page 42 at least gives decent damage expressions, so when you are doing something improv-wise, the DM can glance at a chart and know if they are punishing you for being creative with a particular damage expression.

There are guildlines that are pretty decent about it.

e in 4E. Consider what that means when you're telling me my creativity is not being restricted. Tell me, to my face, that I cannot make my shadowjumping, hiding, teleporting, mirror imaging, warlock
Sure, you can. That warlock in 4E won't be doing it all the time, to the point where the only person who can harm the warlock will be someone with true sight and a dimensional anchor. Which, of course, needs to be standard in any opponent who is an actual challenge to the warlock.

On the other hand, your concealment and teleporting 4E warlock will be doing it less, but doesn't need the DM to have every opponent have true sight and dimensional anchor ... so they won't have true sight and dimensional anchor effects.


But this (again) is what I said earlier. I like 4E. It is simply not 4th edition of the same game.
Did you play 0E? 1E? 2E?

3E and 4E do take different tangents away from the prior D&Ds. But that doesn't make them "not the same game".

---

A good way to get characters to start using the environment and playing outside of the box is to create environments begging to be used.

Do the bunch of braziers thing. 6 in a room.

Then have an enemy spill a brazier onto the PCs. Roleplay the kobold or goblin going "hmm", then poking the brazier over with his spear, and dancing in glee as it burns his enemies.

Then have some other goblins in just the right spot to be be-braziered by the PCs.

In that same scene, have a pot of goo (goblin-food) hanging (and rocking) from a rail or the ceiling. Around the base of it, there is the goo, which is highly slippery. The pot is full to the brim with even more goo, just right above a set of staircases which, part way through the battle, reinforcements start moving up...

The goal of this isn't "pre-plan your players improv moves", but rather get your players thinking of using powers outside of their box by giving them lots of clues, and making the result quite effective.

Have such 'tricks' in a number of encounters in a row, with more or less in the way of 'hints' during the battle to get the players to try it, and they'll start looking for such tricks in every scene you show them.

And they'll find ones you didn't plant. :) And when they do, you can even smugly go "ah, you figured it out", if you want to be evil and dishonest and teasing. (If they think there are always planted tricks in each scene, they will look for them, and you can use their creativity and encourage it... hehe)

DMfromTheAbyss
2009-04-26, 02:11 PM
Hey it's back on topic.

My own suggestion would be to avoid over doing the "Hey there's this neat thing you can do." and ease into it a bit. Discuss it out of character. Bring in a few examples, put a few places where things could get interesting.

If you need a way to show them some examples in a low threat kind of way I'd suggest go ahead and get them in a bar fight. No real weapons, just mugs, tables, the bar and whatever else you can think of to make an interesting non-lethal fight that encourages some innovative thinking. If they need to see that it can work... you just have to show them that Yes it can work, yes you can do that that way. Have NPC's do some whacky moves... (include at least one doing something outrageously foolish that won't work to show them what your boundaries are.) If you like over the top moves let em rip. If you want to show a more conservative/realistic side that still allows for imagination, show em what you can do, where you put the limits, what you think is fair.

If they still have problems it might point to the problem being from an entirely different direction though. I've seen relationship woes, and personal issues creep into a game and make even a good session turn sour. Something that normally wouldn't be an issue turns into an arguement or simply withdrawing from enjoying the game. Only thing to do then is what every good DM should do anyways... keep talking to your players.

Baalthazaq
2009-04-26, 02:41 PM
Did you play 0E? 1E? 2E?

3E and 4E do take different tangents away from the prior D&Ds. But that doesn't make them "not the same game".

Ok, if you want to continue I suggest PMing, I've been stabbing at Oracle's thread enough.
Not 0E/1E. You talking about chainmail or that first post chainmail release? I've had brief looks at everything post chainmail.

I've only actually played 2+.
2E -> 3.0 -> 3.5 followed a definite pattern.

I'm fine playing new systems, Warhammer Fantasy is cool. Warhammer 40K is cool. WoD is cool. Trying Runequest next week. I've never found a rulesystem I have an actual gripe with.

"Ah you do it this way" as opposed to "Ah you do it wrong".

A version however suggests a definite improvement on the previous version. Right now this second I have about 8 characters I want to play in 3.5 that I haven't even put thoughts into building yet (ok some I have), and only 1 in 4E after hours of going through the rulebook that relies on virtually nothing from it. It's a homebrew, (although it uses the Eladrin, which I do really like).

Also, the warlock I built wasn't with greater invisibility.
Lock 10. (Darkness, Spiderwalk, Devil's sight, Walk Unseen, Flee the Scene, Fell Flight)
Shadowdancer 10.

I build my chars to match the power level of the party/campaign, not to break it open. Again, math is easy.

Ninetail
2009-04-27, 05:00 AM
Okay, so smoothly implement my desires.


Okay.



How would you rule the following?
(1) I am on shipboard, and I want to entangle someone with a rope.


Grab attack. Depending on just how you're doing it, it may be made at range, and I'd allow use of Dexterity rather than Strength as the base characteristic. Subsequent rounds might offer you the opportunity to do more.



(2) I am on shipboard and want to throw someone overboard


Lots of ways you could do this. Bull rush or grab and move are the smoothest.



(3) Shipboard again, I want to circle around the mast to keep it between me and an enemy, so it can't attack me.


The exact workings will depend on the size of the mast, the initiative order, and whether the enemy is faster than you or not, but in essence this is just a readied move action. If you're both running around the mast, then it should be fairly trivial to gain either cover or superior cover relative to each other. Unless you're a mind reader or it's a colossally large mast, though, there's no way to guarantee that an enemy that close won't have any chances to attack at all. I might use your Insight against his Bluff to determine whether he gets a shot in. If he's faster than you are, he gets bonuses. If he's slower, penalties.



(4) I want to create a character that's permanently invisible. Note that this is easy in 3E, Aberrant, or Vampire the Masquerade.


Not enough information. I'd have to ask what exactly you're trying to accomplish. Could fairly easily be a ritual effect -- you can't do it at level 1, but then you couldn't in 3e, either. Could fairly easily be flavor text for large amounts of focus on the Stealth skill, too.

I'd note, though, that having different design options is not a weakness of a system. You can't create a character who can throw magic missiles all day in 3e, while it's trivial in 4e or, say, HERO system. That doesn't make 3e a worse system.



(5) During combat, I want to throw sand in somebody's eyes (normally a rogue/9 power) then dive between his legs (normally a barbarian/2 power) while being neither a rogue nor a barbarian.


The sand is an attack vs. Reflex. Probably Dexterity-based, though the right narration could change that. A hit blinds him and lets you execute your move without further trouble. (Though you still draw OAs from any enemies other than your target, if you're within their reach.)

If the sand misses and you still want to try the dive, that's a move action and provokes an OA. If the enemy wants to prevent you from moving through his space, you need to make an Acrobatics check, probably against the enemy's Reflex + 5. If he lets you pass, that's obviously not necessary.



(6) The inverse of #3, I'm a fighter and I will stand between the wizard and the orc. We're in an open area and I'm faster than the orc. That means that if the orc dodges to the left, I want to dodge to the same side so that I remain interposed.


Readied action to move if the orc does.

#4 and #5 are the only ones that are at all complicated, and in the case of #4 that stems entirely from metagame considerations. (Also, it's not an action -- so it's sort of outside the scope of what we're discussing, in the first place.) #5 is complicated only because you're taking two actions, the second of which may be dependent on the first.

It's not that hard. Say yes or roll the dice. Just like in the BECMI days.