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Yora
2012-10-09, 02:16 AM
Following up to the last thread: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=252870

Useful links:
Playtest sign up (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20120109)
Enworld's info compilation (http://www.enworld.org/forum/showwiki.php?title=Books:D+and+D+Next)


Penny Arcade / PvP 5e Podcasts:
Part 1 of 4 (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20120806)
Part 2 of 4 (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20120813)
Part 3 of 4 (http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20120820)
Part 4 of 4 (http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pod/20120827)


Previous threads:
First edition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=218549)
Second edition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231033)
Third edition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=242069)
3.5th edition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=245504)
Fourth edition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=244672)
5^2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=245600)

TheOOB
2012-10-09, 04:14 AM
Just read through the magic item section. I like some things, I dislike others. As a general rule, I like most of the magic items. I like that they are moving to make magic items more unique and less about combining bonuses and abilities. I really like the changes to magic items with charges, though I do wish wands and staffs worked differently(I'd make it so staves use your spell slots as charges, and wands just have charges, but whatever).

I also like the idea that magic items are rare, difficult to buy, and even more difficult to sell. I even like the general rarity table, though I'd like to go into more depth into what each rarity means, and the kinds of bonuses one would expect. I like the idea of attunement, but I don't think it is fully realized.

Now for what I don't like as much. I don't like the magic item random rewards table, they are designed for a monty haul campaign, and they should take character level into account(a level 1 character should never get better than common drops, and artifacts should never appear on a random table ever). I HATE the suggested prices. Yes I know, magic items, hard to buy, ect, ect, but remember that Plate Mail costs 5,000gp, a +1 sword should cost at least as much as a suit of Plate Mail.

I'm not sure I like magic items replacing your stats. Whats the point of using your racial bonus to boost a stat if an item replaces it? I'm unsure if I like removing magic item slots. IMO, attunement should be much much more common, but instead of a 3 item limit, have it so you can only attune 1 item per slot(2 items for some slots, like rings). The only items that shouldn't require attunement are smaller items that take some action to use. I think this would help balance the game a little, and prevent the now coming argument about how I could manager to fit that bracelet over that pair of bracers, or counting how many necklaces Mr. T wears as a baseline.

So, for example, a ring of protection would have attune(ring), and bracers of archery would have attune(wrist). I could also see powerful magical weapons and magic staffs having attune(weapon)(though most weapons wouldn't).

Yora
2012-10-09, 05:36 AM
Has there been a new article on the subject?

Nu
2012-10-09, 06:17 AM
My initial impression is that the magic item rules are currently very overcomplicated. And possibly contradictory.

I'm all for complexity where it adds depth, I'm just not sure that magic items are where I'd be putting it.

Edit: On second thought, looks like most of the sillier stuff is optional and mostly for personalizing items, so I guess it's not so bad.

Gwendol
2012-10-09, 06:21 AM
I've gone through the updated bestiary and like what I see. In general, the tweaks made are minor, but from my experience of the previous iterations, will likely have a positive impact. Example: the kobolds in "Caves of Chaos" were generally pushovers, especially if the caster had sleep or some other AoE spell left. However, if the group did not, the fact that they gained advantage as long as they were outnumbering the invaders, meant the kobolds were very likely to score hits. The tweaked kobolds gain a bonus to the attack roll in relation to the number of kobolds threatening the same target. Much better system, and more elegant mechanics.

noparlpf
2012-10-09, 07:24 AM
They make that claim, but in the packet there are magic item prices (which are ludicrously cheap relative to power levels involved) and a table for random magic item generation which results in an average of more than 1 magic item per encounter. They also got rid of magic item slots, so if you want to wear 10 amulets and 4 rings on each finger, you can. This is supposedly balanced by attunement, except the vast majority of items don't require attuning.

Yeah, after reading a little more that line of fluff was quickly revealed as nonsense.


So basically no useful guidelines at all, let the DM figure out how to balance it. Man it must be nice to be Mike Mearls, designing a game where a contingent of the customer base actually supports you not bothering to write rules so they can do it themselves.

And for a DM to really balance things well, they have to be a better game designer than Mearls, in which case why aren't they working for WotC instead? So far I've seen very little reason for this guy's employment.


Wasn't that pretty much the Fighter's initial design? Don't actually design or implement a mechanic, sort of just let everyone do their own thing?

It's the first pass, but they really didn't implement their stated goal very well. I'm all for limited magic items, making them feel more epic and exciting - but if that's the plan, actually institute mechanics to support that.

If I wanted to do my own thing, I'd just do my own thing, not spend money.
Hey, WotC, you might want to give players and incentive to purchase your products, not tell them in advance that your rules are vague and require the DM to fix everything.


It's better than that. He's not only supporting not writing rules so the DM can do it himself. The rules they have given us work DIRECTLY agaist their stated goals! You have to FIRST ignore their rules and sugestions and THEN design your own system!

The adventures they've ALREADY given us FAIL COMPLETELY to match the one item per adventure DrBurr keeps CLAIMING will fix the problem "IF" they hold to it (what "if", we already KNOW they won't and we have almost 40 years of experience to indicate that they won't even if they hadn't already explicitely shown us they won't in 2 out of 2 example adventures).

But don't worry, REAL SOON NOW they'll be out with these low magic item adventures. And also, it's not only fine that you need to make up your own rules to ballance their items, it's fine that the rules THEY GIVE US are completely unballanced because they've put the magic words "module" and "DM" in the document!

Neat. I can give you a BETTER system for free in this very post! See below:




There! No rules that you need to ACTIVELY IGNORE to get a good game. No adventures that DIRECTLY CONTRADICT what I tell you adventures will be like rather than going 0 for 2 out of my first 2 tries!

Send me $100 (plus shipping, handling, and sales tax) for this vastly superior system and I'll send you many pages full of suplemenatary material of equally superior quality. Or you could go by Office Depot and buy a ream of blank paper for yourself, either way. It's still better than rules that you have to actively ignore to get a decent game.

Hey, that system looks pretty cool. Have you copyrighted it yet? If not, hope you don't mind if I run over to the library, steal a ream of paper, and market it myself...

Yora
2012-10-09, 08:20 AM
I've gone through the updated bestiary and like what I see.
Oh, third playtest package. Would have been nice for anyone to mention that. :smallbiggrin:

And I do need to make a new account again?
Which happens to not work again, because of an unspecified error.

**** you, WotC! **** you!

Eldebryn
2012-10-09, 08:28 AM
Oh, third playtest package. Would have been nice for anyone to mention that. :smallbiggrin:

Would have been nice if a certain someone had actually checked the last 2 pages of the previous thread... :smallsmile:

Seerow
2012-10-09, 08:30 AM
I didn't realize monsters had been updated as well, I thought this was just a magic item packet, and we were waiting until the level 10 packet was done to see any other changes.

Gwendol
2012-10-09, 09:24 AM
The current update has updated monsters, magic items and some magic items rules. And an updated Caves of Chaos (for those wanting to go through that again).

Kurald Galain
2012-10-09, 10:05 AM
To recap:

Hey look, there's an update to the playtest package, which most notably contains magical items now.

It is full of contradictions. The fluff text says that magic items are not an entitlement, but the rules say the average encounter should have 0-8 magical items in it (determined by a % roll). The fluff says that there is no market for magic items, but also that this nonexistent market is easier to find in big cities, and the rules give each item a gp value between 50 and 10,000. The fluff says that 'rare' items should be given to characters of level 5 and up, but they have a 4% chance of showing up for every average encounter, regardless of character level.

And yes, the rarity levels from 4E are back, ranging from 'common' to 'artifact' (which are unique, but have a 1% chance of showing up every hard encounter). There is no clear correlation between an item's rarity and its power level, and there little or no 'common' items in the book except for healing potions. WOTC says they'll rectify this later.

Magic items no longer auto-identify (like in 4E) but a variety of trial-and-error methods are suggested, plus the classic Identify spell. While there are still a few 'item slots' left, you can now wear as many necklaces as the DM allows. However, a few rare or very rare items only work if you "attune" them to you, and there's a strict limit to how many items you can attune (plus attuning costs time). Which is odd considering how unlikely you are to find enough for this limit to matter.

Then there's a long table for randomly deciding who created the item and for what purpose. And a bunch of sample items which are reminiscent of 3E's items, except that they don't get pluses. They're pretty much all +1, and you use them for the special abilities. 1E's mixing potions table is also back as an optional rule.

Well, I expect this to change substantially after feedback, because right now the rules are all over the place.

-=-=-



Nothing is inherently wrong with the rules, the rules present you with what to do to add a magical item to an encounter to progress the story.
The rules tell you that the average encounter should, by default, contain a randomly determined amount of 0-8 magical items, that requires several consecutive dice rolls to generate. In my view, there are two things inherently wrong with these rules, i.e. (1) that this default leads to the Christmas Tree effect, and (2) that it's overly complex to require so many rolls.

That the rules tell you that you can deviate from the default is not the point. RPG rules always tell you that. It just so happens that in practice, the vast majority of people will end up using the default, or something closely resembling the default.

And, of course, the default is the design intent. So this tells me that either WOTC intends for campaigns to go monty haul, or they haven't done the math on how many items an average party will accumulate over a few levels.

noparlpf
2012-10-09, 10:42 AM
And, of course, the default is the design intent. So this tells me that either WOTC intends for campaigns to go monty haul, or they haven't done the math on how many items an average party will accumulate over a few levels.

How could a professional game design team release a packet with random numbers slapped down? Presumably they did the math. It's their judgment I question, so I'm not quite ready to assume they want characters drowning in magic items; maybe they just didn't evaluate their numbers sober.

Camelot
2012-10-09, 10:47 AM
I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or are just unfamiliar with pre-4e mechanics and items, but in case it's the latter, none of those are new, and neither are any jokes about them.

Yes, I am aware of their previous existence, but no I am not being sarcastic. For the Ring of Mind Shielding, what I liked about it was the "secret" it comes with. I don't notice that in the SRD you link to, but maybe it existed in the sourcebook. Either way, it is still a fun idea that can make for a good game.

On the other hand, even though the Identify spell has existed probably for the entire life of the game, that doesn't mean it should stay, at least in its current incarnation. I like the way my 4e game handled it: when you found an item, you could make an Arcana/Religion/Nature check (depending on the power source of the item's magic), and if you succeeded (DC dependent on the rarity of the item), you learned the item's properties and powers, but if you failed then you had to learn by trial and error. Fun stuff ensued:

Once I gave a player a Lesser Cloaked Weapon but the party failed their Arcana checks to realize what it was. The party then came across a problem that could not be solved through combat. The fighter, who was ready to go with her weapon drawn, was upset that her particular skills could not be put to use at the moment, and so sheathed her sword and swore at the same time. The sword then vanishes, causing the fighter to become even more upset, especially when they fail the skill challenge and combat begins. However, in a moment of epiphany, the fighter's player realizes the connection between what she said and her weapon, and from then on always swears loudly in order to draw her magic sword.

The Rod of Lordly Might, though...they just kept it for the purpose of those jokes. There is no way anyone at Wizards could publish this item without snickering to themselves.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-09, 10:47 AM
How could a professional game design team release a packet with random numbers slapped down?

They've got a track record for doing this. Most infamously, 4E contained several clear and obvious math errors when the game was released.

DrBurr
2012-10-09, 10:50 AM
To recap:

Hey look, there's an update to the playtest package, which most notably contains magical items now.

It is full of contradictions. The fluff text says that magic items are not an entitlement, but the rules say the average encounter should have 0-8 magical items in it (determined by a % roll). The fluff says that there is no market for magic items, but also that this nonexistent market is easier to find in big cities, and the rules give each item a gp value between 50 and 10,000. The fluff says that 'rare' items should be given to characters of level 5 and up, but they have a 4% chance of showing up for every average encounter, regardless of character level.

And yes, the rarity levels from 4E are back, ranging from 'common' to 'artifact' (which are unique, but have a 1% chance of showing up every hard encounter). There is no clear correlation between an item's rarity and its power level, and there little or no 'common' items in the book except for healing potions. WOTC says they'll rectify this later.

Magic items no longer auto-identify (like in 4E) but a variety of trial-and-error methods are suggested, plus the classic Identify spell. While there are still a few 'item slots' left, you can now wear as many necklaces as the DM allows. However, a few rare or very rare items only work if you "attune" them to you, and there's a strict limit to how many items you can attune (plus attuning costs time). Which is odd considering how unlikely you are to find enough for this limit to matter.

Then there's a long table for randomly deciding who created the item and for what purpose. And a bunch of sample items which are reminiscent of 3E's items, except that they don't get pluses. They're pretty much all +1, and you use them for the special abilities. 1E's mixing potions table is also back as an optional rule.

Well, I expect this to change substantially after feedback, because right now the rules are all over the place.

-=-=-


The rules tell you that the average encounter should, by default, contain a randomly determined amount of 0-8 magical items, that requires several consecutive dice rolls to generate. In my view, there are two things inherently wrong with these rules, i.e. (1) that this default leads to the Christmas Tree effect, and (2) that it's overly complex to require so many rolls.

That the rules tell you that you can deviate from the default is not the point. RPG rules always tell you that. It just so happens that in practice, the vast majority of people will end up using the default, or something closely resembling the default.

And, of course, the default is the design intent. So this tells me that either WOTC intends for campaigns to go monty haul, or they haven't done the math on how many items an average party will accumulate over a few levels.

No read the packet, it explicitly says these tables are for generating Magic Items based off encounter difficulty and that its up to the DM to determine whether or not an encounter will have an item, no where does it say each encounter should provide the following

noparlpf
2012-10-09, 10:51 AM
They've got a track record for doing this. Most infamously, 4E contained several clear and obvious math errors when the game was released.

Hey, I'm trying to repress those memories. I can't live in a world where pro game designers don't bother to do the basic math required to publish the game.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-09, 10:57 AM
No read the packet, it explicitly says these tables are for generating Magic Items based off encounter difficulty and that its up to the DM to determine whether or not an encounter will have an item, no where does it say each encounter should provide the following

Sure, it spells out that if you don't put the items in an encounter, you should put them in a later encounter in the same adventure (e.g. the dragon's hoard at the end).
And as stated above, many people will ignore the fluff text and go straight to the rules. Guess what? The rules tell you to roll 1d100 for each encounter and then put in as many items as that roll specifies. Even if the fluff tells you that you don't need to do it that way, that's what the rules say. We pay WOTC to make good rules. We don't pay anyone to write disclaimers that say you don't need to use rules you dislike.

DrBurr
2012-10-09, 11:07 AM
Sure, it spells out that if you don't put the items in an encounter, you should put them in a later encounter in the same adventure (e.g. the dragon's hoard at the end).
And as stated above, many people will ignore the fluff text and go straight to the rules. Guess what? The rules tell you to roll 1d100 for each encounter and then put in as many items as that roll specifies. Even if the fluff tells you that you don't need to do it that way, that's what the rules say. We pay WOTC to make good rules. We don't pay anyone to write disclaimers that say you don't need to use rules you dislike.

Its not fluff text its instructions, stop flipping to the tables and just assuming that's how it works read the pdf it says right there that's not the intended way to operate.

Doug Lampert
2012-10-09, 11:40 AM
How could a professional game design team release a packet with random numbers slapped down? Presumably they did the math. It's their judgment I question, so I'm not quite ready to assume they want characters drowning in magic items; maybe they just didn't evaluate their numbers sober.

I'm going with haven't done the math.

Look at "Average Encounter"
9196
1d2 common
1d2 uncommon
1d21* rare

9799
1d2 common
1d2 uncommon

100
1d2 common
1d2 uncommon
1d2 rare
1 very rare
1d21* legendary

This is on a table where higher is good. If the pattern established on this and the other two tables were followed it would be:
9799
1d2 common
1d2 uncommon
1d2 rare
1d2-1 very rare

They dropped two entries and never noticed.

Similarly, you simply CAN NOT actually playtest their adventures with a group with someone who wants to tank and not notice that the monster attack bonuses are about 7 points too low! Seriously, not a single monster in the playtest has a hit bonus as higher than +4, you can get AC 26 without a single magic item and with the very limited options we have in an early playtest. But the orcs do 1d12+7 if there's a leader boosting them and the medusa has a save or die.

Or have you looked at their Pre-gen characters? Finesse weapons with attacks based on strength from dex based characters. Abilities not added into damage. The human fighter gets both her attacks wrong. It's not like a fighter might want to use a weapon attack. And they didn't bother to update the pre-gens, does anyone really believe that no one reported this in the last two months?

They are not seriously thinking about or applying their own rules, they're throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Doug Lampert
2012-10-09, 11:47 AM
Its not fluff text its instructions, stop flipping to the tables and just assuming that's how it works read the pdf it says right there that's not the intended way to operate.

What do you think is the purpose of those tables? Serious question.

It would NEVER be a good idea to use them. They will NEVER produce the results you claim they want to produce, why do you think they have them at all.

What do you think is the purpose of the playtest adventures? Serious question.

Is it to test how the game is expected to work? Because the playtest adventures give out magic items FAR faster than is claimed to be intended in fluff.

Where do you see instructions to SYSTEMATICALLY give less than the tables? Because I've read the instructions, and they say:
Pl

"These tables are designed to help you award magic
items based on the difficulty of a given encounter.
You can determine the available items at the start
of each encounter for a taste of unpredictability, or
roll for all the encounters in a given adventure area
ahead of time and parcel them out as you see fit."

Those INSTRUCTIONS have you rolling for every encounter and placing every rolled item in the adventure. How do you determine that the FLUFF that says you can use the tables or not takes prescendence over the part that says to use the tables and why do you think the tables are included if you never expect them to be used?

obryn
2012-10-09, 11:58 AM
Anyone else just groaning at items that have, for example, a 1% chance per month of saying something interesting?

I mean, really, folks. (1) I am not tracking that. (2) If you want me to track it, giving a 1% chance is not the way to do it.

Now, putting it entirely in the DM's hands? I can get behind that. But random 1% chances per month is just silly. It's a new, weird little subsystem that likely will never, ever matter over the course of an entire campaign.

-O

Knaight
2012-10-09, 12:54 PM
I've gone through the updated bestiary and like what I see. In general, the tweaks made are minor, but from my experience of the previous iterations, will likely have a positive impact. Example: the kobolds in "Caves of Chaos" were generally pushovers, especially if the caster had sleep or some other AoE spell left. However, if the group did not, the fact that they gained advantage as long as they were outnumbering the invaders, meant the kobolds were very likely to score hits. The tweaked kobolds gain a bonus to the attack roll in relation to the number of kobolds threatening the same target. Much better system, and more elegant mechanics.

I'm also liking the bestiary. There were some real oddities earlier, particularly concerning experience (the Kobold example is a good one, with that pitiful Dragonshield being worth far more experience than the actually dangerous Trapmaster last packet), and most of them have been resolved. There is still room for new problems to develop, and I'm a little concerned about the 10xp monsters, simply because having 7-1 odds at level 1 for a normal encounter seems excessive, but that could work out better than anticipated.

Sadly, encounter design is now bogged down by the magic item rules, which involve a ridiculous amount of rolling, and quite a bit of assigning and then tracking magic items, many of which are absurdly powerful at the low levels of the playtest packet, and probably indefinitely. Granted, they also have the Holy Avenger, a weapon that can only be attuned by a class they haven't actually released yet, so I'd expect the magic item system to get an overhaul.

On the other hand, equipment has been a mess in general from day one, from the absurd weights to the odd pricing to the clutter, so there is a real possibility that magic items will suffer the same fate.

Ashdate
2012-10-09, 02:30 PM
I've run some math on the "Caves of Chaos" adventure that's included. The adventure gives its own "treasure", but I thought it would be a good thought exercise to see how much treasure would "generate" assuming all of the encounters occurred in an original adventure. In other words, all of the encounters in the Caves of Chaos, run relatively back to back, without the framework of the adventure. How much loot would the PCs gain (on average)?

Assumption 1: The PCs started at level 1, and made their way through each cave in order of easiest difficulty first (i.e. kobolds before orcs). They became level 2 after clearing the Kobold, Golbin, and Hobgoblin Lairs (Areas A, D, and F) and level 3 after clearing both Orc lairs, The Shunned Cavern, and the Ogre Lair (Areas B, C, E and G). After that, they were considered to be level 3 for the rest of the adventure, although the experience gains were enough to bring them to level 4 about halfway through the last area, the Shrine of Evil Chaos (Area K).

Since XP is supposed to be divided equally amongst four PCs, the follow XP totals were calculated as being the "break points"

level 1: 0 xp
level 2: 2600 xp
level 3: 7300xp
level 4: 14100xp

Assumption 2: Treasure was generated based on the XP total of a particular encounter against the GM guidelines for an Easy/Average/Tough encounter. For reference:

Level: Easy / Average / Tough
1: 160 / 260 / 400xp
2: 280 / 480 / 720xp
3: 520 / 920 / 1380xp

Calculating an experience "budget" is a simple matter of multiplying the values on page 11 of the recent DM Guidelines document by the number of players: 4.

An "encounter" total between 0 and half the "easy" value -1xp was considered to be trivial; no magic items found.
An "encounter" total between half the "easy" value and the easy value was considered to qualify for an "easy" magic item reward.
An "encounter" total between the "easy" value +1 xp and the "average" value was considered to qualify for an "average" magic item reward.
An "encounter" total equal to or greater than the "average" value +1xp was considered to qualify for a "tough" magic item reward.

Note that there are no suggestion that a "trivial" encounter (i.e. the Giant Centipedes in Room 13) should not reward an equal chance as a standard "easy" encounter; this is a judgement call I'm making; the math is below if you want to award treasure for "trivial" encounters.

Thus, for level 1, fights worth between 80 and 160xp qualified for "easy" loot; fights between 161xp and 260xp qualified for "average" loot; fights 261xp and above qualified for "tough" loot.

For level 2, fights worth between 140 and 280xp qualified for "easy" loot; fights between 281xp and 480xp qualified for "average" loot; fights 481xp and above qualified for "tough" loot.

For level 3, fights worth between 260 and 520xp qualified for "easy" loot; fights between 521xp and 920xp qualified for "average" loot; fights 921xp and above qualified for "tough" loot.

While the PCs would level to level 4 by about halfway into the final area, the PCs are assumed to gain treasure as if they were level 3, for simplicity sake. The data is below if you want to correct for this.

Assumption 3: All fights are trivial. The PCs all roll critical hits, and the monsters roll natural ones, so there is never a reason to stop. Reinforcements never have a chance to be called, nor to groups "mingle" with each other. The PCs are so quick, that they don't encounter wandering monsters. They enter each room like a SWAT team, clear it out, and continue.

Note, because don't try and tackle the "hard" challenges first, they're technically "reducing" the amount of treasure they get (as they encounter more "easy" encounters rather than "tough" encounters. Still, some assumptions must be made, and this would be the most pragmatic one if survival (not "phat loot") was the number priority (despite the PCs ridiculous luck).

The encounters are as follows, based off the ones encountered in the Caves of Chaos module, spoilered for room:

Level: Easy / Average / Tough
1: 160 / 260 / 400xp

A. Kobold Lair
Kobold outside: 9 x 10xp (90xp) = easy encounter
1. Guard area: 6x 10xp (60xp) = trivial encounter
2. Garbage heap: 15 x 10xp, + 20xp (170xp) = average encounter
4. Elite Guard Room: 4x 20xp (80xp) = easy encounter
5. Kobold Lord's Room: 5 x 10xp + 70xp (120xp) = easy encounter
6. Kobold Common Chamber: 8 x 10xp (80xp) = easy encounter
= 600xp (600xp total)

D. Goblin Lair
Wandering goblins: 4x 10xp (40xp) = trivial encounter
17. Guard Chamber: 7x 10xp (70xp) = trivial encounter
18. Guard Chamber: 7x 10xp (70xp) = trivial encounter
19. Goblin Quarters: 15 x 10 xp (150xp) = easy encounter
20. Goblin Chieftan's room: 7 x 10 xp + 80xp (150xp) = easy encounter
21. Storage Chamber: 4x 10xp (40xp) = trivial encounter
= 520xp (1120xp total)

F. Hobgoblin Lair
23. Hobgoblin Quarters: 13x 40xp (520xp) = tough encounter
24. Prison: 2x 40xp + 60xp (140xp) = easy encounter
25. Common Hall: 5x 40xp (200xp) = average encounter
26. Guard Room: 4x 40xp (160xp) = easy encounter
27. Armory: 3x 40xp (120xp) = easy encounter
29. Guard Room: 3x 40xp (120xp) = easy encounter
30. Hobgoblin Warlord's Quarters: 4x 40xp +170xp (330xp) = tough encounter
31. Guard Room: 3x 40xp (120xp) = easy encounter
=1710xp (2830xp total, level up to 2)

Level: Easy / Average / Tough
2: 280 / 480 / 720

B. Orc Lair
7. Guard Room: 4x 60xp (240xp) = easy encounter
8. Guard Room: 3x 60xp (180xp) = easy encounter
10. Orc Common Room: 12x 60xp (720xp) = tough encounter
12. Orc Leader's Room: 4x 60xp + 290 xp (530xp) = tough encounter
= 1670xp (4500xp total)

C. Orc Lair
13. Secret Room: 2 x 10xp (20xp) = trival encounter
14. Sleeping Chamber: 7x60 xp (520 xp) = tough enconter
15. Orc Common Hall: 12 x 60 xp (720xp) = tough encounter
16. Orc Leader's Room: 2x 160xp + 290xp (610xp) = tough encounter
= 1870xp (6370xp total)

G. Shunned Cavern
33. Murky Pool: 3x150xp (450xp) = average encounter
34. Owlbear Den: 1x 370xp (370xp) = average encounter
= 820xp (7190xp)

E. Ogre Lair
22. Ogre Cave 1x240xp (240xp) = easy encounter
= 240xp (7430xp, level up to 3)

Level: / Easy / Average / Tough
3: 520 / 920 / 1380

H. Bugbear Lair
35. Guard Room: 3x 140xp (420xp) = easy encounter
36. Bugbear Leader's Quarters: 2x140xp (280xp) = easy encounter
38. Bugbear Common Room: 10 x 140 xp (1400xp) = tough encounter
39. Guard Room: 5x 140xp (700xp) = average encounter
40. Prison: 3x 40xp, 1x60xp, 1x140xp, 1x40xp (360xp) = easy encounter
=3160xp (10590xp total)

I. Minotaur Caves
42. Stirge Nest: 13x 20xp (260xp) = easy encounter
43. Fire Beetles: 8x 10xp (80xp) = trivial encounter
44. More Fire beetles: 7x 10xp (70xp) = trivial encounter
45. The Minotaur: 1x 490xp (490xp) = easy encounter
= 900xp (11490xp total)

J. Gnoll Lair
46. Guard Room: 3x 60xp (180xp) = trivial encounter
47. Guard Room: 5x 60xp (300xp) = easy encounter
49. Common Area: 6x 60xp (360xp) = easy encounter
50. Gnoll Leader's Quarters: 5x 60xp + 170xp (470xp) = easy encounter
= 1310xp (12800xp total)

K. Shrine of Evil Chaos
52. Hall of Skeletons: 12x 30xp (360xp) = easy encounter
53. Guard Room: 8x 20xp (160xp) = trivial encounter
54. Acolytes' Chamber: 5x 90xp (450xp) = easy encounter
56. Evil Chapel: Adept's Chamber: 4x 170xp (680xp) = average encounter
57. Hall of Undead Warriors: 10x 30xp, 10x 20xp (500xp) = easy encounter
59. High Priest's Chamber/Anteroom: 3x 20xp, 240xp (300xp) = easy encounter
61. Torture Chamber: 2x 170xp (340xp) = easy encounter
62. Crypt: 1x 300xp (300xp) = easy encounter
63. Storage Chamber: 1x 220xp (220xp) = trivial encounter
64. Cell: 1x 200xp (200xp) = trivial encounter
= 3510xp (16310, level 4 ahoy!)

Total easy encounters: 28
Total average encounters: 6
total tough encounters: 8

Treasure can therefore be calculated as follows (using the tables on page 2 of the Magic Items playtest document); note that the tables probably have errors on it (why do you not get and rare treasure for rolling 97-99 on the "average" table?). This also assumes that all rolls are equally likely, and the GM lets the "dice fall where they may". Spoilered for length, hopefully the calculations make sense, although there has been a lot of simplification.

Easy Encounters:
Common items gained: (28 * 0.2) + (28 * 0.3 * 1.5) = 18.2 items
Uncommon items gained: (28 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (28 * 0.03) + (28 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 2.1 items
Rare items gained: (28 * 0.03 * 0.5) + (28 * 0.01) = 0.7 items
Very Rare items gained: (28 * 0.01 * 0.5) = 0.14 items

Average Encounters:
Common items gained: (6 * 0.25) + (6 * 0.5 * 1.5) = 6 items
Uncommon items gained: (6 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (6 * 0.1 * 1.5) = 1.5 items
Rare items gained: (6 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (6 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 0.27 items
Very Rare items gained: (6 * 0.01) = 0.06 items
Legendary items gained: (6 * 0.01 * 0.5) = 0.03 items

Tough Encounters:
Common items gained: (8 * 0.25) + (8 * 0.75 * 1.5) = 11 items
Uncommon items gained: (8 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (8 * 0.3 * 1.5) = 4.4 items
Rare items gained: (8 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (8 * 0.1) = 1.6 items
Very Rare items gained: (8 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (8 * 0.03) + (8 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 0.6 items
Legendary items gained: (8 * 0.04 * 0.5) = 0.16 items
Artifact items gained: (8 * 0.01) = 0.08 items

Grand totals:

Common items gained: 35.2 items
Uncommon items gained: 8 items
Rare items gained: 1.94 items
Very Rare items gained: 0.8 items
Legendary items gained: 0.19 items
Artifact items gained: 0.08 items

Total = 46.21 magical items

Discussion: that's a lot of magic items being thrown around, despite the relatively "easy" time tackling the Caves presents. However, a deeper analysis is required; magical weapons and shields are not found at the common slot (only Uncommon and above); the only common items currently in the game are Potions of Climbing and Potions of Healing. thus the actual breakdown looks like this:

Potions of Healing (with a few potions of Climbing) gained: 35.2
Traditional magical items: 11.01

Things could change if new "common" magic items were introduced that bump up their relative value, i.e. magic daggers +1 and level 1 wizard scrolls.

Are ~11 uncommon (or greater) magical items cause to call the table made for "Monty Hall" games? Maybe! The 4e DMG recommends that four level 4 characters will gain about 10 items between level 1 and partway through level 4. Your feelings on the amount of treasure that 4e gives away will therefore influence how you feel about these tables.

Of course, another way to look at it is whether or not the "trivial"/"easy"/"average"/"tough" encounter "building" system is worth anything; note that the amount of "easy" encounters assumed that the party above fights vastly outweighs the amount of average/tough encounters. If we were to assume a more "even" encounter split (i.e. 20% easy, 60% average, 20% hard), a lot more treasure would be generated. This might be especially true if optimization causes only "tough" encounters to actually be a challenge.

I think it's also important to recognize how "luck based" such a table is; the party that wins the tough encounter and rolls 100 on the "tough" treasure table will get an average of 6 uncommon of greater items, more than half the amount one would typically see generated above. There are certainly logistical problems as well; if the party does get lucky and claims a Holy Avenger from a tough encounter, it could be a long while before the party Wizard gets his own "legendary" item.

TL/DR: It works for the Caves of Chaos adventure (sort of), but I shudder to think about the amount of treasure it would generate in an actual game where DMs don't have the party facing a lot of "easy" encounters.

Zombimode
2012-10-09, 02:59 PM
I don't see the problem. It is clearly spelled out that the party is not expected to have any magic items at all. As a DM, just use whatever you like.

hamlet
2012-10-09, 03:08 PM
Actually, historically speaking, TSR modules had a metric ton of treasure and magic goodies in them because they were expected to be there to make up the expected XP value haul. An adventure generated by the DM would result in significantly less such treasures in practice (with a few ouliers obviously).

If I had to guess, I think some of the designers might have looked at the treasure payout of the modules, and then wrote rules to get the desired results and missed why the treasure output of some modules was so high in the first place.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-09, 04:07 PM
Common items gained: 35.2 items
Uncommon items gained: 8 items
Rare items gained: 1.94 items
Very Rare items gained: 0.8 items
Legendary items gained: 0.19 items
Artifact items gained: 0.08 items

Total = 46.21 magical items

Very interesting.

A couple of points. First, it seems workable as long as all common items are one-shot consumables (that may be the intent but we don't know that yet). Second, oddly enough the amount of treasure received doesn't depend on party size. Third, it bothers me how utterly random this is; while the average is 11 items here, a party might just as easily end up with only 5, or might end up finding a major artifact in the first encounter. Fourth, from my experience with 4E, nobody is at all interested in easy encounters, so I'd expect more encounters to be average or hard, which skews the numbers.

Note also that the 4E numbers are distorted by LFR (where you'll find one item per character level) and 4.4 (where you roll randomly for everything, including item level).

I recall that 2E also had random tables for which item you got; I wonder if they'll be doing that again.

Yora
2012-10-09, 04:30 PM
However, didn't the playtest mention the minimum level at which PCs should get magic items?
Something like 3rd level for uncommon, 5th level for rare, and so on.

Though I've seen people complain that the rules make no sense and contradict each other at several points. This might be one of them.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-09, 04:36 PM
However, didn't the playtest mention the minimum level at which PCs should get magic items?
Yes, but the random table you roll on per encounter isn't dependent on your level, so the chances of getting a 'rare' are just as high at level 1 as they are at level 10.

noparlpf
2012-10-09, 06:43 PM
Yes, but the random table you roll on per encounter isn't dependent on your level, so the chances of getting a 'rare' are just as high at level 1 as they are at level 10.

Still those expectations for when characters "should" get magic items give us an idea of what they're looking at for balance. So they've set a goal for balance that their own rules completely failed to attain.

Knaight
2012-10-09, 07:35 PM
Still those expectations for when characters "should" get magic items give us an idea of what they're looking at for balance. So they've set a goal for balance that their own rules completely failed to attain.

Verifying this (Math is currently partly done, I'll get to it later):
Assume a 1/3 distribution of easy encounters, medium encounters, and hard encounters. That produces these totals:
{table]Total Encounters of Each Type|Encounters During Previous Level|Level
9.5|9.5|2
19|9.5|3
26.1|7.1|4
37|10.9|5[/table]

So. We have 37 encounters of each type to reach level 5, meaning 9.25 encounters of each type per level on average. Now, lets look at what this says regarding the probability of having items of the type given, knowing this:
{table]Level|Type|Encounters of Each Type By Average
2+|Common|18.5
3+|Uncommon|27.75
5+|Rare|46.25
7+|Very Rare|64.75
9+|Legendary|83.25
11+|Artifact|101.75[/table]
Now, this brings us to the expected items per encounter of each type calculations. These are:
{table]Difficulty|Common|Uncommon|Rare|Very Rare|Legendary|Artifact
Easy|.41|.024|.0058|.0013|0|0|
Average|
Tough|
Total|[/table]

Now, we need to know the how many encounters it takes for there to be a 50% chance to have each type of item, so we can evaluate the expected level by which the first item of each type to show up. So, that gives us:
.5=probability^number of encounters.
-1/[13.4 ln(probability)]=expected level

I still need to work out the probabilities, which is all sorts of tedious, but once that is done it should be pretty easy to see whether the expected levels actually mirror when the 50% chance of having an item shows up.

stainboy
2012-10-09, 09:23 PM
Very interesting.

A couple of points. First, it seems workable as long as all common items are one-shot consumables (that may be the intent but we don't know that yet).

This seems likely. "Common item" is currently almost synonymous with "healing potion." A healing potion cures average 7 HP. Ashdate's 35.2 Common items over 64 encounters works out to a little less than 4 free HP per encounter. That's pretty reasonable. In 3e terms it's 2/3 of a cure stick over multiple character levels. I can't vouch for the number of healing potions being spot-on but it looks like it's at least *sort of* in the right ballpark.

The only other Common item offered is a Potion of Climbing. What's likely to happen is DMs hand out as many healing potions as is necessary to keep the game running, which will either take the entire Common item budget and then some, or barely leave room for a handful of Climb Pots and other basic buff consumables.

Speaking of consumables, those 8 uncommon magic items include spell scrolls. I can easily see 46 magic items in the Caves of Chaos working out to only 1-2 permanent items per party member. Which might be too high depending on personal preference but it's at least within the realm of sanity.

Here's something that bothers me though: They game works fine if you can buy Commons at Magic Mart, but starting at Uncommon the game both breaks if the PCs can buy items and breaks if they can't. The Cloak of Elvenkind is a stealth patch-fix and you basically don't want to play a rogue unless you can get one, but it's in the same rarity tier as Gauntlets of Ogre Power which reward fighters macebro clerics for dumping Strength like 3e druids.

obryn
2012-10-09, 09:59 PM
I don't see the problem. It is clearly spelled out that the party is not expected to have any magic items at all. As a DM, just use whatever you like.
Except the party is supposed to have some items. It's still baked into the armor system where you need to buy your way into a better AC with various (technically non-magical, but I fail to see the difference) new suits of armor... Which means there's an implied wealth-by-level or at least expected character wealth value.

If WotC is going to give any encounter-building guidelines at all, there has to be an expectation one way or the other baked into the system regarding item bonuses. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you can't have it both ways.

What's more, I don't think we're getting out of this edition without monsters that need magic weapons to hit them. I dearly hope we do, but I just don't think it's going to happen. :smallsmile:

-O

Ashdate
2012-10-10, 12:59 AM
Here's some more calculations to ponder over (something similar to what Knaight is doing):

Let's again assume that we have a party of four characters, and that all encounters fall on the "easy/average/tough" mark in terms of experience exactly. Thus, for levels 1 through 5, you have the following "encounter" budgets:

Level: Easy / Average / Tough
1: 160 / 260 / 400
2: 280 / 480 / 720
3: 560 / 920 / 1380
4: 940 / 1580 / 2380

A party of four characters will level up when the following XP total is gained (essentially, the amount for a character to level x 4):

Level 1: 0xp
Level 2: 2600xp (+2600xp)
Level 3: 7300xp (+4700xp)
Level 4: 14100xp (+6800xp)
Level 5: 31900xp (+17800xp)

(tangent: does anyone think these values are kind of pulled out of nowhere, especially considering the idea that monsters are expected to be threatening for several levels beyond their listed one?):

With these we can create an equation to figure out "roughly" how many fights/day are required to level. We'll assume, for the sake of argument, that following the advice that the "bulk" of encounters "fall into the average range" (DM Guidelines page 10), that there is a 20/60/20 split; 20% of the encounters faced are "easy', 20% are "tough", and the remaining 60% are "average".

Without going into a lot of math, this means that getting from level 1 (0xp) to level 2 (2600xp) requires roughly two easy encounters, six average encounters, and two tough encounters (2/6/2; total xp gained: 2680xp). A slightly different ratio (1/6/2) will get you enough experience (plus change) to get to almost get to level 3 (+4600xp, 7280xp total). A 2/5/1 ratio will get you to level 4 plus change (+7100xp, 14380 total). Finally, a 2/7/2 ratio will get you enough experience to get to level 5 (+17700xp, 32080xp total).

(aside: again, where does this math come from?)

So we could roughly calculate the journey from level 1 to 5 as being one where a party of four people encounter seven "easy" encounters, 24 "average" encounters, and seven "tough" encounters. The percentages end up being 18.42% / 63.16% / 18.42% which works out reasonably close to our 20/60/20% goal.

From here, we can work out the average number of magical items that a party gets; as shown before, the playtest currently only really has Potions of Healing as "common" items, so I'll skip those in favour of the more "meaty" items.

Math spoilered:

Easy Encounters
Uncommon items gained: (7 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (7 * 0.03) + (7 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 0.525 items
Rare items gained: (7 * 0.03 * 0.5) + (7 * 0.01) = 0.175 items
Very Rare items gained: (7 * 0.01 * 0.5) = 0.035 items

Average Encounters
Uncommon items gained: (24 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (24 * 0.1 * 1.5) = 6 items
Rare items gained: (24 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (24 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 1.08 items
Very rare items gained: (24 * 0.01) = 0.24 items
Legendary items gained: (24 * 0.01 * 0.5) = 0.12 items

Tough Encounters
Uncommon items gained: (7 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (7 * 0.3 * 1.5) = 3.85 items
Rare items gained: (7 * 0.2 * 0.5) + (7 * 0.1 * 1.5) = 1.75 items
Very rare items gained: (7 * 0.06 * 0.5) + (7 * 0.03) + (7 * 0.01 * 1.5) = 0.525 items
Legendary items gained: (7 * 0.04 * 0.5) = 0.14 items
Artifact items gained: (7 * 0.01) = 0.07 items


Total Uncommon items expected: 10.375 Uncommon items
Total Rare items expected: 3.005 Rare items
Very Rare items expected: 0.68 Very Rare items
Legendary items expected: 0.26 Legendary items
Artifact items expected: 0.07 Artifact items

Total Uncommon of greater items expected that a party of four PCs will gain from level 1 (0xp) to roughly the beginning of level 5 (32080xp): 14.39

While there are not experience totals above level 5 currently, we can speculate that using a 7/24/7 model will roughly allow a group of four players to gain four levels. From here, we can guesstimate the number of magical items a party will gain from level 1 to 20, by simply taking the above totals and multiplying by 5:

Uncommon items expected: 51.875
Rare items expected: 15.025
Very Rare items expected: 3.4
Legendary items expected: 1.3
Artifacts expected: 0.35

Therefore in the "end-game", players will have roughly thirteen "uncommon" items each (although one could expect replacements), 4 "rare" items each, and one "very rare/legendary/artifact" item per PC.

Question for discussion: Putting aside the variability, does the above "feel" right, as an example of what a level 20 character might be packing in a generic campaign?

Personal opinion: I think the "average" numbers sound about right, but what worries me is that the potential variability is much, much too large. I don't mind a "let the dice fall where they may" option, but one that produced more consistent results would be nice.

What I would like to see (aside from tighter math) is some basic conceit that players want and should gain magical items. If we agree that 13 uncommon, four rare, and one "very rare/legendary" item should be "gained" between levels 1 and 20, why not cut out the middle (dice) man?

Levels 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17: award an uncommon item to each player
Levels 3, 8, 13, and 18: Award a rare item to each player
Level 19: award a very rare/legendary item to each player (btw, combine the two catagories)

Encourage an artifact (items that benefit the entire party directly) to be put in the game as a source of plot hooks if the DM wishes, around level 10.

For magic-lite games, you can cut the amount given in half. Remove the uncommon items gained at levels 1, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, and 17, and the rare items gained at 3 and 13 (leaving item gains at level 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14, 16. and 18).

In any case, it would be relatively easy to determine how decorated a "Christmas tree" you want each character to be. Baking such an assumption into the system would be a good idea in my opinion.

Zombimode
2012-10-10, 01:26 AM
It's still baked into the armor system where you need to buy your way into a better AC with various (technically non-magical, but I fail to see the difference) new suits of armor... Which means there's an implied wealth-by-level or at least expected character wealth value.

Since to-hit values do not fluctuate that wildly, you actually don't need to upgrade your AC constantly. Some enemies just hit more often then others.



If WotC is going to give any encounter-building guidelines at all, there has to be an expectation one way or the other baked into the system regarding item bonuses.

Exactly, and the expectation is: none at all:

You determine how many magic items characters
can find in your adventures. The game does not
assume that characters need them to succeed.
Magic items, when found at all, simply make PCs
better.



What's more, I don't think we're getting out of this edition without monsters that need magic weapons to hit them. I dearly hope we do, but I just don't think it's going to happen. :smallsmile:

1. When every PC is expected to have a magic weapon, immunity/resistance to non-magic weapons becomes rather pointless. How many times in 3.5 DR magic has actually mattered?

2. Only when creatures with immunity/resistance to non-magic weapons are ubiquitous it becomes a problem, when PC generally don't have access to them, since it hoses a large range of characters. Likewise with magic resistance/immunity. Just make those creatures a rare occurrence.

TheOOB
2012-10-10, 02:30 AM
Monsters attack and AC are balanced assuming no magic items. If a character has a magic weapon, they hit more often, and if they have magic armor, they get hit less often, but they should do fine without.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-10, 05:48 AM
Funny thing... it's easy to claim that magic items are unnecessary for a party to function. However, in practice it works differently. Assuming magical items do something useful, then a party with magical items is clearly at a higher power level than a party without magical items.

Simply put, this means that a party with magical items will be able to deal with more challenging encounters and/or higher level monsters than a party without. This is, of course, precisely the same as in every earlier edition. Just with an added CYA disclaimer.

Seerow
2012-10-10, 05:56 AM
One thing you guys forgot in calculating number of magic items is if you get consumables instead of a permanent item, you get 1d2+2. So if you get 35 common items, and assume they are all consumable, you actually have 122 average consumables.

Yora
2012-10-10, 06:43 AM
Funny thing... it's easy to claim that magic items are unnecessary for a party to function. However, in practice it works differently. Assuming magical items do something useful, then a party with magical items is clearly at a higher power level than a party without magical items.

Simply put, this means that a party with magical items will be able to deal with more challenging encounters and/or higher level monsters than a party without. This is, of course, precisely the same as in every earlier edition. Just with an added CYA disclaimer.
The really bif difference is the change of Damage Reduction to be always 50% instead of a fixed amount. Getting through DR 15/magic with nonmagic daggers isn't fun. A raging barbarian with a greataxe would still deal good damage, but getting +15 to damage rolls as a rogue, bard, or ranger isn't easy. And in 3.5e there are CR 10 monsters like that.
But when your measly 1d4+2 deals 2 points of damage instead of 4, it just takes twice as long. If your 1d6+5 may even deal no damage on a critical hit, it's not simply taking longer, but pretty much impossible.
And while melee characters in 3rd Edtitions can be made to work at higher levels with a lot of magic items, the difference between a wizard and a fighter would be much greater without any magic items.

It's not as if it was impossible to play without magic items, but there are many way to make it much more easy to do so without a headache.

obryn
2012-10-10, 08:36 AM
Since to-hit values do not fluctuate that wildly, you actually don't need to upgrade your AC constantly. Some enemies just hit more often then others.

Exactly, and the expectation is: none at all:

WotC might claim there's no reliance on magic items. But that's not what the system is actually telling us right now, and systems speak louder than philosophy.

That system has the following features right now:
(1) Increasing values to-hit and increasing armor classes of targets. Much slower than previously, but it's there.
(2) The ability to purchase improvements on defense through strict upgrades costing GP. This improves base ACs by up to 2 for relatively reasonable costs. Further improvements from magic are possible.
(3) Increasing ability scores, which will improve both to-hit and AC.
(4) Magic items with mathematical bonuses to-hit.

We have a "bounded accuracy" system in place which means there's a very strict range of potential bonuses. If your success rate on an attack is 50%, any +1 means you hit 10% more often. This means the value of a +1 sword is leaps & bounds above what it was before. (Armor improvements are even crazier if monsters' attack bonuses stay as bad as they are right now.)

If their philosophy is "no dependence on magic items" then they need to provide a system which actually accomplishes these goals.

Also, without clear guidelines or expectations, the encounter guidelines they provide become basically worthless. I don't like 3e or 4e's reliance on magic items, but one of the reasons their encounter balancing guidelines are even close is because those bonuses are figured into the math. These problems are exacerbated - not mitigated - by bounded accuracy. You can't have it both ways.

EDIT:

Simply put, this means that a party with magical items will be able to deal with more challenging encounters and/or higher level monsters than a party without. This is, of course, precisely the same as in every earlier edition. Just with an added CYA disclaimer.
Yep, only a bit worse. With 3.x and 4e, I at least knew an expected range of items that were expected and knew when I'd exceeded that.

-O

1337 b4k4
2012-10-10, 02:23 PM
Funny thing... it's easy to claim that magic items are unnecessary for a party to function. However, in practice it works differently. Assuming magical items do something useful, then a party with magical items is clearly at a higher power level than a party without magical items.

Simply put, this means that a party with magical items will be able to deal with more challenging encounters and/or higher level monsters than a party without. This is, of course, precisely the same as in every earlier edition. Just with an added CYA disclaimer.

I'm not sure what the complaint here is. Are you complaining that magic items make characters more powerful? This seems like an obvious thing. Of course giving your players more powerful items makes them more powerful. At a party that I give a +1 bonus to all attributes is at a higher power level than one I don't. Same with a party full of armored characters is at a higher level than a party full of unarmored fools.

Are you looking to have players without magic items be on equal footing as players with magic items? That just doesn't make sense. The whole point of a magic item is to do something out of the ordinary. By definition that means someone with magic items is at a higher power level than someone else.

What they mean when they say that there is no assumption that players will have magic items is that if you take the standard class progression, with the standard equipment list, with the standard XP values for the standard monsters, that your players will be able to satisfactorily play through from level 1 to 20 without falling behind a power curve and requiring DM intervention to artificially boost their power. This was not so of 4e and to a lesser extent any prior edition.

Introducing magic items will increase the players power level and make things easier, but that isn't the same thing as expecting the players to have magic items.

noparlpf
2012-10-10, 02:34 PM
I'm not sure what the complaint here is. Are you complaining that magic items make characters more powerful? This seems like an obvious thing. Of course giving your players more powerful items makes them more powerful. At a party that I give a +1 bonus to all attributes is at a higher power level than one I don't. Same with a party full of armored characters is at a higher level than a party full of unarmored fools.

Are you looking to have players without magic items be on equal footing as players with magic items? That just doesn't make sense. The whole point of a magic item is to do something out of the ordinary. By definition that means someone with magic items is at a higher power level than someone else.

What they mean when they say that there is no assumption that players will have magic items is that if you take the standard class progression, with the standard equipment list, with the standard XP values for the standard monsters, that your players will be able to satisfactorily play through from level 1 to 20 without falling behind a power curve and requiring DM intervention to artificially boost their power. This was not so of 4e and to a lesser extent any prior edition.

Introducing magic items will increase the players power level and make things easier, but that isn't the same thing as expecting the players to have magic items.

The complaint is that if they say "a party will function without magic items", they may be balancing with the intent that a party not have magic items, in which case introducing magic items destroys that balance.

Ashdate
2012-10-10, 03:00 PM
The complaint is that if they say "a party will function without magic items", they may be balancing with the intent that a party not have magic items, in which case introducing magic items destroys that balance.

Right; there is a real, mathematical difference between a guy wearing platemail and a longsword, and a guy wearing the Skins of Bahamut and Flametounge. If encounter difficulty ignores the gain in magical might that a party is expected to gain using the magic item distribution rules (see my post above), then all you're potentially giving a huge disadvantage to a party that doesn't gain magical items, even if the missing bonuses might seem relatively small (i.e. a +1 weapon).

Which will, of course, be further exacerbated if your DM guidelines suggest that you reward players (with greater amounts of magical items) for those who fight "tough" encounters over those who fight "average" ones. Add the Internet to guarantee that "tough" becomes the new "average" and you've got a cocktail of trouble.

obryn
2012-10-10, 03:32 PM
What they mean when they say that there is no assumption that players will have magic items is that if you take the standard class progression, with the standard equipment list, with the standard XP values for the standard monsters, that your players will be able to satisfactorily play through from level 1 to 20 without falling behind a power curve and requiring DM intervention to artificially boost their power. This was not so of 4e and to a lesser extent any prior edition.

Introducing magic items will increase the players power level and make things easier, but that isn't the same thing as expecting the players to have magic items.
It's odd, but 1e/2e was probably the most magic-item-dependent of the editions. Not necessarily for the math, but because a host of monsters needed +X or better to hit. (And for a lot of characters, that's how they were distinguishable from one another.) In 3.x, martial characters were excessively magic item dependent because it was the only way to improve their offensive and defensive capabilities reliably. (Casters got off easy, OTOH.) In 4e, it's directly and clearly figured into the math and you violate the expectations at your peril, but Inherent Bonuses let you fix the math while cutting the magic item cord, so to speak, making it potentially the least magic-item-dependent edition if you use it.

You simply can't have it both ways, though. You either figure it in and set expectations, or you don't figure it in and get a flimsy & worthless encounter balance. My preferred situation is to remove all attack roll and AC bonuses from magic items entirely. (Rip out the masterwork armor bonuses while we're at it, please.) Keep the magic item bonuses on the damage and special effect side of things. Include all expected improvements to attack and defense in the classes' advancement charts.

I can't express enough - in a bounded accuracy setup, every +1 to a d20 roll is huge. I know this from 4e, which basically had bounded accuracy on a treadmill. Those +1's are paramount. Likewise, +1's to defense have far, far larger effects on the math than you would otherwise expect - especially with the rather pathetic attack bonuses we're seeing in the monster manual.

-O

Madfellow
2012-10-10, 09:09 PM
I've spent the last few hours (off and on) mulling over what the optimal number of magic items might be to introduce to a campaign, and here's what I've come up with.

Goals:
1) to give the party magic items as rewards for killing powerful villains
2) to give out as few magic items as possible to reflect the rarity of magic items
3) to make sure that each rarity level of magic item is represented
4) to reflect the relative rarity of different levels of magic item

If all these goals are accepted, we get 1 artifact, 2 legendaries, 3 very rares, 4 rares, 5 uncommons, and 6 commons over the course of a 20-level campaign. That means that the party is receiving roughly one magic item per level, and that as they level they get rarer and rarer items. At levels 1-5 they get commons, 6-10 they get uncommons, 11-14 rares, 15-17 very rares, 18-19 legendaries, and finally at 20th level they get their first and only artifact. In total they will receive 21 magic items, 6 of which will likely be consumables that will be used fairly quickly, leaving them with 15 permanent possessions, or less if any of those are also consumables.

What do you guys think?

noparlpf
2012-10-10, 10:01 PM
I've spent the last few hours (off and on) mulling over what the optimal number of magic items might be to introduce to a campaign, and here's what I've come up with.

Goals:
1) to give the party magic items as rewards for killing powerful villains
2) to give out as few magic items as possible to reflect the rarity of magic items
3) to make sure that each rarity level of magic item is represented
4) to reflect the relative rarity of different levels of magic item

If all these goals are accepted, we get 1 artifact, 2 legendaries, 3 very rares, 4 rares, 5 uncommons, and 6 commons over the course of a 20-level campaign. That means that the party is receiving roughly one magic item per level, and that as they level they get rarer and rarer items. At levels 1-5 they get commons, 6-10 they get uncommons, 11-14 rares, 15-17 very rares, 18-19 legendaries, and finally at 20th level they get their first and only artifact. In total they will receive 21 magic items, 6 of which will likely be consumables that will be used fairly quickly, leaving them with 15 permanent possessions, or less if any of those are also consumables.

What do you guys think?

Seems like a weird progression to me. I think that if we have "common" items, and that's an if to me, they should actually be common, like a good knife or an axe. However, I don't like the idea of common magic items. To my mind, the entire magic system is too high-powered for true mundanes (please don't let's get into a ToB debate again) to keep up beyond low levels. Likewise, magic items should be as rare as in stories like "The Lord of the Rings"--over the course of the adventure, they only come across a few magic items, some of which are dangerous, and some of which are only given as gifts by a higher power; and when they are encountered by random chance after winning a difficult encounter, the chance should be fairly low, maybe less than five percent. On the other hand, to be fair to a party, and maintain game balance, it's probably best to get a few at a time (like in a small hoard or some such, or a powerful entity's armory). I do prefer random generation of items, because it's more organic and realistic than the DM picking specific items that suit characters perfectly.
Basically, I'd prefer a low-magic system, which I believe puts me in the minority when it comes to D&D fans. Of course, for a system like Next is purported to be, a module could introduce several different variants for magic items.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-11, 02:07 AM
How about an actually modular system for magic items? You know, like what they promised?

Attunement rules that apply to all magic items, so characters using one type where magic items are given out like candy aren't overpowered compared to characters using another type.

Three "tiers" of how many attunement slots you get every level: Legendary (very few slots), Compromise (a moderate number of slots), and Christmas Tree (holy crap that's a lot of slots.) Characters with fewer slots get more powerful slots earlier, to have some sort of semblance of balance.


Combined with these three possible rules, three different types of distribution methods. Random loot after every encounter (with random drop rules and rules for you should give out less gold due to excess items that are sold), magic marts (with rules for how to price items and how much extra gold you should give players to buy items with), or quest-only.


Instead of the dumb one-size-fits all system they have here.

TheOOB
2012-10-11, 02:41 AM
Seems like a weird progression to me. I think that if we have "common" items, and that's an if to me, they should actually be common, like a good knife or an axe. However, I don't like the idea of common magic items. To my mind, the entire magic system is too high-powered for true mundanes (please don't let's get into a ToB debate again) to keep up beyond low levels. Likewise, magic items should be as rare as in stories like "The Lord of the Rings"--over the course of the adventure, they only come across a few magic items, some of which are dangerous, and some of which are only given as gifts by a higher power; and when they are encountered by random chance after winning a difficult encounter, the chance should be fairly low, maybe less than five percent. On the other hand, to be fair to a party, and maintain game balance, it's probably best to get a few at a time (like in a small hoard or some such, or a powerful entity's armory). I do prefer random generation of items, because it's more organic and realistic than the DM picking specific items that suit characters perfectly.
Basically, I'd prefer a low-magic system, which I believe puts me in the minority when it comes to D&D fans. Of course, for a system like Next is purported to be, a module could introduce several different variants for magic items.

You're looking too far into the use of the word "common". It's common as in common for a magic item, as in the majority of magic items in the world will be of this type, regardless of how many magic items are in the world.

Madfellow
2012-10-11, 07:32 AM
It's a common complaint that we're not seeing the modularity yet that Wizards has promised, but that's because they haven't finished testing the core system yet. They can't start testing the modules until the core is done, which means we have to wait a while. In the meantime, I suggest we focus on what we do have instead of complaining about what we don't. There probably will be modules for more common magic items. Something like that would be absolutely vital for a campaign setting like Eberron.

By the way, is anyone else absolutely psyched about the fluff options for +1 weapons and armor? I rolled up a random armor and here's what I got:

The party kills the villain of the week.
Me: "Your foe's ring mail armor is made of a mysterious black metal, and paint on its surface moves to form images of gruesome sacrifice rituals. Forbidden Lore checks, everybody!"

10 recognizes this as a magic item that requires attunement (I'm playing with the idea of making all non-common magic items require attunement, for flavor as well as balanace).
20 recognizes that this is ceremonial armor, and that the black metal is demonic in origin.
30 recalls the story of a demon who crafted this armor for his most loyal servant, to guard him against the harsh environments where most of the demon's altars and temples are hidden.

A Detect Magic or Identify spell reveals abjuration and illusion magic.
Attunement grants the owner a +1 to Armor Class, above the normal bonus for ring mail. The armor protects its owner from harsh temperatures.

Best. +1 Armor. Ever.

noparlpf
2012-10-11, 07:34 AM
You're looking too far into the use of the word "common". It's common as in common for a magic item, as in the majority of magic items in the world will be of this type, regardless of how many magic items are in the world.

Well, based on the random generation in the packet, common items do seem to be about as or more common than mundane weapons. Each critter with a weapon in that adventure Ashdate analysed has two weapons, right? And you get either 35 or 122 potions in there. Healing potions seem as common as dirt.


Best. +1 Armor. Ever.

I'm not entirely sure whether you're being serious.

Madfellow
2012-10-11, 07:40 AM
I am. +1 items, some of the most common items in the game and among the first found by the party, don't suck anymore!

noparlpf
2012-10-11, 08:01 AM
I am. +1 items, some of the most common items in the game and among the first found by the party, don't suck anymore!

Okay. Well, I guess adding small extras and a bit of fluff helps. Definitely makes things feel more unique even if they're effectively almost identical.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-11, 08:14 AM
I like the fluff. However, it should not be overused: if during every encounter you are likely to find a Mad Libs item then it gets silly after awhile.

Tehnar
2012-10-11, 08:25 AM
Well in truth they could make the no magic item thing work, if they made rules for encounter budgets to include a party with a normal item progression and with no item progression.

The elephant in the room is however that the core rules suck, so magic items just make things worse.

Madfellow
2012-10-11, 08:38 AM
Magic items only start to sound like Mad Libs if the party gets a lot of them. And yes, I know Wizards goofed on this one and made magic items too common. Tell them that in the surveys and they will fix it, the same way they fixed the fighter and the same way they fixed the monsters. Yes, the core system still needs work. Guess what? That's what the playtests are for! If the system was ready to be released already, they would release it. {{Scrubbed}}

Where was I? Oh, right. Let's assume (as I did in an earlier post) that the party receives a grand total of 5 uncommon items over the course of leveling from 6th to 10th. Let me get my d20 out and... one abyssal item, one elemental (earth), one human, one celestial, and one draconic item. That doesn't sound like Mad Libs, it sounds like a series of blood feuds between powerful magical beings, which is awesome!

Loki_42
2012-10-11, 03:58 PM
What if characters got different attunement slots for different rarities of items, and gained more attunement slots as they leveled? We could give them attunement slots that fit the expected item levels that Madfellow laid out a few posts ago. Make it so that every item requires attunement, and you've made it so that you can run a game that hands out as many magic items as you want, but they're all balanced against each other. More Monty Haul campaigns will just be able to change their gear more, but they're recieving the same limited effects of it.

stainboy
2012-10-11, 03:58 PM
One thing you guys forgot in calculating number of magic items is if you get consumables instead of a permanent item, you get 1d2+2. So if you get 35 common items, and assume they are all consumable, you actually have 122 average consumables.

Good point, although I don't know what that means for Common items. The "Consumable Items" paragraph says to swap a permanent for 1d2+2 consumables, but in Common there aren't any permanents to swap out. So either:


They forgot to mention that the Consumable Items thing doesn't apply to Commons (editing error)
When you roll a Common item you actually are supposed to roll 1d2 instances of 1d2+2 consumables instead of just rolling 2d4+1 or something (which would be retarded and probably also an editing oversight)
There are a bunch of Common permanent items that didn't make the October playtest. (Unlikely because they already have the low end of the AD&D magic-item power spectrum in Uncommon and Rare, unless they want to add Continual Light gems or something.)


I think the first is most likely.


The elephant in the room is however that the core rules suck, so magic items just make things worse.

Yeah, this. Look at Cloak of Elvenkind: they're trying to use a Hide in Plain Sight item as a patch fix for the stealth rules not working. This is before they've gone to press when they still have months to just fix the damn stealth rules. Also funny: by strict RAW Cloak of Elvenkind does nothing. You gain Hidden and then immediately lose it.

Madfellow
2012-10-11, 05:36 PM
For those of us who don't know, what's wrong with the stealth rules?

Oscredwin
2012-10-11, 08:12 PM
To throw a different take on the magic item rules out there, I thought they were trying to make everyone happy. They have fluff written so that you can play games without magic items, something that many players want. They have mechanics written so that you can have a ton of magic items without increasing the power level too much.

Of course the item list and tables need a lot of work. I think there should be multiple item frequency levels with encounter building guidelines depending on which of the three you're using.

Dublock
2012-10-11, 09:34 PM
Of course the item list and tables need a lot of work. I think there should be multiple item frequency levels with encounter building guidelines depending on which of the three you're using.

While I do agree.

That can get messy if there are a lot of splat books that introduce the power creep with magic items then if they have different table with 4-6 people, then you could be looking at Easy, medium, hard encounters, then with different amount of magic items.

I might need a spread sheet just to figure out exp budget.

Camelot
2012-10-11, 10:18 PM
I like the fluff. However, it should not be overused: if during every encounter you are likely to find a Mad Libs item then it gets silly after awhile.

I think that the fluff should not just be there for an interesting story, but it should be involved in the plot of the adventure, or introduce a plot to a future adventure. For example, the demonic armor might have been lost when the demon's servant who originally wore it died. Now that it's being worn again, the demon can trace it, and he wants it back! Or worse, perhaps wearing it is eqivalent to signing a contract to be the devil's new servant.

Yora
2012-10-12, 03:00 AM
That can get messy if there are a lot of splat books that introduce the power creep with magic items then if they have different table with 4-6 people, then you could be looking at Easy, medium, hard encounters, then with different amount of magic items.
Given the business model, that is pretty much a given. That's how D&D makes its profits.

Yes, I know, it wasn't like that when TSR published the game. But look at the profits they made. :smallamused:

huttj509
2012-10-12, 06:18 AM
I think that the fluff should not just be there for an interesting story, but it should be involved in the plot of the adventure, or introduce a plot to a future adventure. For example, the demonic armor might have been lost when the demon's servant who originally wore it died. Now that it's being worn again, the demon can trace it, and he wants it back! Or worse, perhaps wearing it is eqivalent to signing a contract to be the devil's new servant.

The way I interpreted those tables was "if you want to spice up the items a bit, and don't have something in mind, here's a random table to give some ideas."

Ok, there's a +1 sword. That's boring, let's see, it was created by (15) Elves. Ok, for what purpose? (2) Bane, ok, the Elves fought the Goblins, sounds good. Minor property? (12) Sentinel. So we have a sword created by Elves to kill Goblins, recognized and feared by them, and it glows when Goblins are present. None of the quirks seem that interesting, I think I'll skip that table. Hmmm, let's say the Goblins know it as "Biter." That should make things interesting if they stumble into the Goblin den later.

Madfellow
2012-10-12, 06:58 AM
I think that the fluff should not just be there for an interesting story, but it should be involved in the plot of the adventure, or introduce a plot to a future adventure.

I respectfully disagree. I think it's ok for fluff to not support the plot if it gives the players a sense of a larger world around them. It adds realism and a sense of wonder at the same time.

stainboy
2012-10-12, 08:27 AM
For those of us who don't know, what's wrong with the stealth rules?

The writers can't keep straight whether you're Hidden period or you have a separate Hidden condition relative to each enemy, but the big flaw is that you stop being hidden if you leave obscurement for even a second. That makes stealth really hard to use for escaping or scouting ahead. If you care about stealth for any purpose other than setting up ranged sneak attacks you need access to at least a Cloak of Elvenkind.

Also by strict RAW the Cloak of Elvenkind does nothing because it doesn't give you obscurement. In other words it lets you take an action to hide but it doesn't let you stay hidden (which you automatically and instantly fail to do unless you were in obscurement, in which case you didn't need the cloak to begin with). Obviously no one's going to play it like that, but it's not a good sign when the writers can't figure out how their own stealth rules work.

Yora
2012-10-12, 09:41 AM
Worse are the boots of elvenkind. They don't seem to have any ability.

noparlpf
2012-10-12, 09:45 AM
Cloak of Elvenkind: Don't need cover to hide. Like the 3.X Ranger's "Camouflage".
Boots of Elvenkind: +infinity to Move Silently.

Edit: Or well, +infinity to the Dex check to sneak quietly.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-12, 09:46 AM
Apparently it's hard to write good stealth rules - the 4E team has not really managed this either, despite numerous erratas (as evidenced by a 6-screen FAQ and 130-page thread about it in WOTC's rules forum).

Madfellow
2012-10-12, 11:23 AM
The rules seem pretty clear that stealth is counted separately for each creature. And as for not being able to leave cover, that just makes sense. You can't hide behind nothing. Perhaps a camoflage class ability would be useful. And yeah, they goofed on the cloak. It would have been easier to just say it grants concealment.

obryn
2012-10-12, 11:52 AM
Apparently it's hard to write good stealth rules - the 4E team has not really managed this either, despite numerous erratas (as evidenced by a 6-screen FAQ and 130-page thread about it in WOTC's rules forum).
It's even confusing in Savage Worlds, which is kind of crazy, but I tend to like their overall approach. More or less... guards are active or passive. Active guards roll against your Stealth. Passive ones, you just need a success. If you fail, they become Active. But there's still the modifiers...

I think it's just a complicated situation and that the balance between "rules light enough to be awesome" and "well, let's not exploit all the loopholes..." is a tough line to walk.

Frankly, the only good representation of Stealth I've ever seen is in first-person games like Skyrim, Oblivion, Thief, etc. Never have in a TTRPG, and I am kinda thinking I never will.

-O

noparlpf
2012-10-12, 12:03 PM
Seems I'm an exception, but I've never had an issue with stealth in D&D. You roll to sneak, hide/move silently, whatever. They roll perception, spot/listen, or whatever. Higher roll wins. You can try to hide as long as you have cover, concealment, or whatever (shadows, leaves, rubble), and they're not looking straight at you, unless you get other abilities like Camouflage and HiPS.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-12, 12:11 PM
Seems I'm an exception, but I've never had an issue with stealth in D&D. You roll to sneak, hide/move silently, whatever. They roll perception, spot/listen, or whatever. Higher roll wins. You can try to hide as long as you have cover, concealment, or whatever (shadows, leaves, rubble), and they're not looking straight at you, unless you get other abilities like Camouflage and HiPS.
But what you describe is not how the 4E and 5E stealth rules work. We're pointing out that those rules don't work, not that it's impossible to write stealth rules for an RPG. I don't think I've heard a lot of issues with 1E/2E/3E stealth rules; perhaps WOTC should base 5E's version on that instead of on 4E.

noparlpf
2012-10-12, 12:22 PM
But what you describe is not how the 4E and 5E stealth rules work. We're pointing out that those rules don't work, not that it's impossible to write stealth rules for an RPG. I don't think I've heard a lot of issues with 1E/2E/3E stealth rules; perhaps WOTC should base 5E's version on that instead of on 4E.

I was responding to obryn's statement that there's never been a decent stealth system in a tabletop RPG.
If other people don't have an issue with older systems, then let's give feedback saying that they should go back to one of those instead of working from 4E.

Zeful
2012-10-12, 01:22 PM
I was responding to obryn's statement that there's never been a decent stealth system in a tabletop RPG.
If other people don't have an issue with older systems, then let's give feedback saying that they should go back to one of those instead of working from 4E.

Stealth is complex. Really complex; factors such as vision, facing, and movement all play a huge part in how stealth works. And for a combat/adventure game trying to be accessible, lots of that are abstracted out to simplify the game.

D&D's stealth works, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better. A simple way to improve stealth is to have things like torches, lamps, candles and low level magic provide a significant amount of shadowy illumination in comparison to bright illumination (which provides partial concealment to everyone in it), while more expensive lanterns, sun rods, and high level magic produces more bright than shadowy, and then include line of sight rules for the light source (for personal lights nothing has changed, but the 3.5 rules actually don't have this, so lights fully illuminate their entire radius, including through walls and pillars). As long as it's possible for a player to easily determine where shadowy illumination is, stealth can be simplified without a great detriment to it. The only thing you'd have to cut out is Darkvision/Infravision's ability to see in the dark from the light.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-12, 01:42 PM
Frankly, the only good representation of Stealth I've ever seen is in first-person games like Skyrim, Oblivion, Thief, etc. Never have in a TTRPG, and I am kinda thinking I never will.

TES stealth is a total joke. It's completely worthless if you try to play it as intended and snaps the game in half if you exploit the loopholes. There's also the issue that dungeons and areas are designed to be straightforward hack and slashes and opportunities to use stealth to sneak by enemies are afterthoughts at best: Most areas don't even have any good places to hide aside from "Stand really, really far away and snipe them."

Thief... works a lot better, but mostly because it works with the limitations of the medium rather than try to work against them as TES does: It doesn't even try to be a simulation. The guards are ridiculously stupid but in exactly the right ways.

obryn
2012-10-12, 01:51 PM
TES stealth is a total joke. It's completely worthless if you try to play it as intended and snaps the game in half if you exploit the loopholes. There's also the issue that dungeons and areas are designed to be straightforward hack and slashes and opportunities to use stealth to sneak by enemies are afterthoughts at best: Most areas don't even have any good places to hide aside from "Stand really, really far away and snipe them."
I think it's a bit better than that in Skyrim. Oblivion had that Chameleon 100% thing going on, but stealth is no more game-breaking than most other combat styles.

I was more commenting on how fun it is, though. :smallsmile: Few gaming experiences, IMO, match stealthing and sniping through dungeons.

I've found Illusion magic is the real problem, at least in Skyrim - worthless unless you invest heavily in it, at which point it's immensely game-breaking. I gave up my Illusionist Assassin after Invisible-Sneak Attack for 30x with a Dagger-AoE Calm the room-Repeat got old. Especially when it started working on undead...

ANYWAY. Tabletop stealth. Yeah, I wasn't a fan in 3.x either... Opposed skill rolls get messy, quick. It worked okay in 1e/2e but that's mostly because it was kind of a Thief's defining feature. (It was also overly simplistic and couldn't be initiated in combat. Things get complex when people wanted to stealth themselves in the middle of a fight.)

-O

Yora
2012-10-12, 01:51 PM
For the purpose of a game like D&D, I think stealth works just fine as "you are not pretty much invisible as long as you don't run in front of someones face."

Madfellow
2012-10-12, 03:22 PM
Yeah, I don't see what everyone's problem with stealth seems to be. I've never had an issue with stealth in an rpg. Ever.

Camelot
2012-10-12, 08:17 PM
Yeah, I don't see what everyone's problem with stealth seems to be. I've never had an issue with stealth in an rpg. Ever.

I agree. One of my 5e players is a rogue, and I just say that if he wants to spend an action making a Stealth check and succeeds, then he gets advantage on his next attack, as long as none of the enemies move to a position that reveals him. It works pretty well, and we have not noticed it being too powerful or too weak.

stainboy
2012-10-12, 10:29 PM
Apparently it's hard to write good stealth rules - the 4E team has not really managed this either, despite numerous erratas (as evidenced by a 6-screen FAQ and 130-page thread about it in WOTC's rules forum).

I don't think D&D has ever had workable stealth rules. D20 stealth rules don't work either. Most DMs ignore them completely and just call for Stealth / Hide checks whenever they feel like it.

The thing is, I don't think it's hard to write good stealth rules. 5e stealth would be pretty OK with the following changes:


You only lose Hidden if you're out of obscurement at the end of your turn. It's now possible to move past an open doorway without automatically alerting everyone on the other side.
Instead of having a persistent Stealth check result, you recheck each time you might lose Hidden. You can't ever be forced to make more than one check simultaneously (if you enter a room with 10 enemies you make one Stealth check not 10) but you don't keep the same check result between encounters. This is necessary to stop stealthers from effectively taking 20 by repeatedly hiding from allies, or deliberately sneaking past easy encounters so they can go into a hard encounter with a known check result.
You have a separate Hidden state relative to each creature. You don't become visible to the guards in the tower because you're detected by a rat in the bushes. Attacking, lighting a torch, or otherwise making a bunch of noise still kicks you out of Hidden vs all creatures.
The rules for active Spot checks need to be more clear. To make an active Spot check you have to demonstrate reasonable suspicion that there's something to spot, and you can't retry a Spot check until the circumstances legitimately change. (This includes retrying the initial Spot check you make when a creature hides from you.) Right now the rules can be interpreted as allowing everyone to make a free active Spot check every single round whenever it matters. That needs to go.
Edit: the Surprise Round rules need to be rewritten. This is another problem D&D has had forever. The biggest problem relative to stealth is that there's no defined interaction between Hidden and surprise - if you jump out of hiding and attack someone do you get a surprise round on them or what? It's pretty obvious that you should (and the rules should say that), but then what happens if you stay hidden for all of round 1 and then pop out of hiding on round 2? You could fix this with a rule that your enemies are surprised by you and not your allies, which means they can take actions but their actions can't take your existence into account. (You'd have to do more work if you wanted a rule that didn't require the DM to judge intent but I'm not too worried about it.)


That would at least make rogue and "lurker" monster stealth work without DM pity or crutch items. (Non-specialists still wouldn't be able to sneak past groups of enemies, which you might or might not see as a problem.)

Nu
2012-10-13, 02:40 AM
Magic items only start to sound like Mad Libs if the party gets a lot of them. And yes, I know Wizards goofed on this one and made magic items too common. Tell them that in the surveys and they will fix it, the same way they fixed the fighter and the same way they fixed the monsters. Yes, the core system still needs work. Guess what? That's what the playtests are for! If the system was ready to be released already, they would release it. People, please stop whining and try some constructive criticism.

I'm not sure monsters are fixed yet, though the XP values make more sense now they still need some work. I'm not really down with the idea that 32 goblins constitutes an "average" encounter for a level 1 five PCparty, unless they really are just intended to be like 4E minions (but offensively they seem more potent than minions and are more work to track on the part of the DM).

I understand not everyone cares about this, but some of us do like encounter-based design and this is a problem. A rather glaring one. And yes, I will be telling them so when I get the next survey.

EccentricCircle
2012-10-13, 08:13 AM
So whats the betting that D&D next will be marketed as the D&D 40th Anniversary Edition?

Clearly they can't keep calling it D&D next forever, but they've said they're not so keen on calling it 5th edition, as deciding what constitutes an edition of D&D and how many there have been is a strange and arcane science.
It seems to me that with the game unlikely to be finished before 2014 they are most likely to play up the anniversary.

Camelot
2012-10-13, 01:18 PM
The thing is, I don't think it's hard to write good stealth rules. 5e stealth would be pretty OK with the following changes:

I agree, they are making it much more complicated than it needs to be. Your rules sound like they make a lot of sense, and work pretty easily too. The only thing is surprise rounds. I think the problem is having a separate round in which some combatants don't act. The creatures that have surprise should automatically go first in initiative at the beginning of an encounter, and you grant advantage before your turn has been taken. This way, a person in stealth can choose to enter the combat whenever they want, and their benefit is that they have advantage against each surprised creature who hasn't acted since they revealed themselves.

TheOOB
2012-10-13, 02:25 PM
Generally I prefer to abstract stealth systems as much as possible. A Perception vs Stealth check works well, giving bonuses or penalties where appropriate.

I defiantly agree boots of elven kind need some kind of mechanical effect, it could just be advantage on stealth checks, which would be pretty awesome.

By the by, I like magic items have origins and purposes, even if it's not related to the campaign, and I've been doing that myself for years. A magic ring traditionally given to princes in a far off land to protect from assassins blades is more interesting than a ring of protection +1.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-13, 04:31 PM
You have a separate Hidden state relative to each creature.

This is the only thing from your post that I don't like. Keeping track of hidden state relative to each creature is a pain, and in almost all practical situations the one enemy that spots you will call out your location to its allies anyway.

noparlpf
2012-10-13, 04:35 PM
This is the only thing from your post that I don't like. Keeping track of hidden state relative to each creature is a pain, and in almost all practical situations the one enemy that spots you will call out your location to its allies anyway.

Well...you have one roll for "Hidden" and one for "Silent". Each enemy has to overcome that individually. Yes, they'll likely call out your location, but that should just give them an automatic second roll with a bonus (+10? Advantage?). Just because somebody points something out doesn't mean their friend will notice it--at the beach last year my brother and I found a dead puffer-fish, pointed it out, and my sister promptly missed seeing it, and stepped on it. My grandmother came over to see what was going on, we pointed it out, and she promptly stepped on it too. Man, were we lucky it was long enough dead to not be poisonous anymore. (Edit: Just started wondering about that, as long as it was on my mind; never mind that bit, they're toxic when eaten. The venom in the spines thing is a common misconception. Still, I'm glad it was only a misconception.)

Kurald Galain
2012-10-13, 04:42 PM
Just because somebody points something out doesn't mean their friend will notice it--at the beach last year my brother and I found a dead puffer-fish, pointed it out, and my sister promptly missed seeing it, and stepped on it.

True enough, but imho in this case the greater simplicity outweighs the lesser realism. You can always wing the extreme cases as a DM, but I'd prefer the standard to be one "hidden" status.

noparlpf
2012-10-13, 04:49 PM
True enough, but imho in this case the greater simplicity outweighs the lesser realism. You can always wing the extreme cases as a DM, but I'd prefer the standard to be one "hidden" status.

Well. We have to look at things from two perspectives. First as a player, then as a DM. For a player, it's not hard to remember whether you know where things are. For a DM, usually mooks are lumped into one group on one initiative count and with one roll for perception or stealth, though personally I prefer splitting them into three or four smaller groups so they don't all go at once. And bigger baddies tend to come in smaller groups, so keeping track of which players you can and can't see isn't hard. You could even note down stealth and perception rolls on the list with initiative counts so everyone can see what's what.

Flickerdart
2012-10-14, 06:07 PM
It's probably a good idea to split Hidden along lines of factions. If you're spotted by a guard, he can alert his friends pretty easily (by going "hey, shoot that guy"), but if you're hiding from a guard and a street urchin sees you, he won't alert the guard, but might point you out to his friends because you have a stupid hat on.

noparlpf
2012-10-14, 06:49 PM
It's probably a good idea to split Hidden along lines of factions. If you're spotted by a guard, he can alert his friends pretty easily (by going "hey, shoot that guy"), but if you're hiding from a guard and a street urchin sees you, he won't alert the guard, but might point you out to his friends because you have a stupid hat on.

That might work better for simplicity's sake, but like I said, people frequently still miss things their companions point out to them.

Ashdate
2012-10-14, 07:48 PM
Right, but that just makes the stealth rules clumsy. You generally make one check to attack, defend, disarm, heal, etc. Why should stealth rules involve making individual "contests" against each individual? It should be one roll for each side.

Rather than individual rolls, there should just be some benefit (or penalty) for hiding from multiple creatures; it should be easier/harder to hide when there are less/more creatures looking for you. Do something like d20 + the creature with the highest Wisdom bonus, and + 1 or +2 for every other creature.

And make hidden like invisibility! Having two different rules sets was dumb in 4e, and it'd be dumb here.

Zeful
2012-10-14, 10:10 PM
Right, but that just makes the stealth rules clumsy. You generally make one check to attack, defend, disarm, heal, etc. Why should stealth rules involve making individual "contests" against each individual? It should be one roll for each side.

So when you run guards they all share the attack same roll? Because in game each of those other contests are against individual. It's not as different as you imply.

Keeping track of the hidden status is no more difficult that tracking who's dead on the battlefield. Arguably easier really, as the player is essentially setting their "spot" DC when they roll, and you only have to check one set of stats. Compared to combat when you have to track attacks, defenses, saving throws, and skills like balance, move silently, disable device, spellcraft.

TheOOB
2012-10-14, 10:25 PM
So when you run guards they all share the attack same roll? Because in game each of those other contests are against individual. It's not as different as you imply.

Keeping track of the hidden status is no more difficult that tracking who's dead on the battlefield. Arguably easier really, as the player is essentially setting their "spot" DC when they roll, and you only have to check one set of stats. Compared to combat when you have to track attacks, defenses, saving throws, and skills like balance, move silently, disable device, spellcraft.

You're argument is based on the idea that the DM should have as much to keep track of out of combat as in combat, which is not true. D&D is, at it's heart, a combat oriented game, it wears it's wargaming roots on it's sleeve. It's not fair to expect the DM to keep track of individual stats and statuses of everyone the players come across out of combat.

The New Bruceski
2012-10-14, 10:36 PM
That seems like something that should be dealt with on DM terms rather than official rules. How often a character/NPC makes spot checks, and who they inform, really depends on the person and the situation. There are a lot of intangibles. A party of adventurers walking into the Tomb of Horrors is going to have different approaches to it if they know where they are and the reputation.

Leon
2012-10-14, 11:50 PM
They are not seriously thinking about or applying their own rules, they're throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Sounds about right for WotC

TheOOB
2012-10-15, 12:12 AM
That seems like something that should be dealt with on DM terms rather than official rules. How often a character/NPC makes spot checks, and who they inform, really depends on the person and the situation. There are a lot of intangibles. A party of adventurers walking into the Tomb of Horrors is going to have different approaches to it if they know where they are and the reputation.

No, that's a trap. Any time a DM has to make up a rule on the fly the rules failed the DM. I could see multiple possible options existing, but the book needs clear rules for stealth so that there is a functional baseline for everyone to work off of.

I actually really likes passive perception from 4e and thought it worked well for the majority of situations. In 4e I'd only have a guard roll their perception if the PC got really close to them or interacted with them in some way.

Zeful
2012-10-15, 02:08 AM
You're argument is based on the idea that the DM should have as much to keep track of out of combat as in combat, which is not true. D&D is, at it's heart, a combat oriented game, it wears it's wargaming roots on it's sleeve. It's not fair to expect the DM to keep track of individual stats and statuses of everyone the players come across out of combat.

No it's not. My argument is pointing out his argument wasn't as valid as he thought it was by pointing out that in compared to running a single combat encounter of any scale- running a stealth encounter of identical scale is easier because there are only like 4 things you have to track. Spot/Listen/Perception, Line of Sight, concealment, and the hidden status itself. You only need the first if the second and third exist, and the fourth is the result.

Even doing that every round is going to be less work for the DM than trying to run the same encounter in combat. He still has to track skills, he still has to track line of sight and concealment, he still has to track the status (including hidden by the way considering concealment), he now also has to track HP, TAB, AC, Saves, DR, SR, ER, Special Attacks, Damage, and Spells.

Calling it "unfair" to expect a DM to do the same things he does anyway, but with less variables is ludicrous. It's ignoring that the system is capable of something because it's "extra work"? Unless invisibility, improved or otherwise is just going to invalidate play or just not exist, the DM has to use the stealth ruless per person, in combat (adding another set of things the DM has to track), so he's going to be recording Spot/Listen/Perception checks on enemy stat blocks, the only extra work he has to do is light the dungeon. Which is particularily easy considering dungeon and all that.

Knaight
2012-10-15, 09:23 AM
Keeping track of the hidden status is no more difficult that tracking who's dead on the battlefield. Arguably easier really, as the player is essentially setting their "spot" DC when they roll, and you only have to check one set of stats. Compared to combat when you have to track attacks, defenses, saving throws, and skills like balance, move silently, disable device, spellcraft.

This is inaccurate. Dead and Alive are simple states that everyone has, Hidden is a relationship between a character and another. Say there are three people on each side, and both sides are trying to hide from the other - this makes eighteen hidden/not hidden values if you track per person, as each person is hiding from three people and there are six people hiding. We have eighteen binary states, whereas dead and alive produce a maximum of six, on account of there being only six people.

Now, lets take something more likely - a party of six is trying to sneak past a war band of ten. There are now sixty values for hiding to keep track of, as each of the six has a hidden value against each of ten enemies. By contrast, there are only sixteen variables to track for health. If you add another orc, six hidden values and one dead value get added. If you add another party member, ten hidden one values and one dead value get added. If you add one to each, seventeen hidden values and two dead values get added. Tracking per person is simply far more work for stealth than for combat.

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 09:36 AM
Yes, but each player keeps track of which enemies they can see, and the DM keeps track of which PCs the NPCs can see. You won't necessarily know whether or not someone else can see you. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0025.html)

Kurald Galain
2012-10-15, 09:43 AM
Yes, but each player keeps track of which enemies they can see, and the DM keeps track of which PCs the NPCs can see. You won't necessarily know whether or not someone else can see you. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0025.html)

That can still be done with a single "hidden" status - it just requires that the status be kept by the DM (whereas the player simply thinks they're hidden).

In general, I like this approach, and not just for stealth. For instance, if you fail an appraisal check badly enough, you should think that you know what an item is worth, but be off by an order of magnitude. Actually 5E's proposed hazard rules do that reasonably well, but this may require the DM to roll for certain checks where the outcome isn't obvious.

Knaight
2012-10-15, 09:43 AM
Yes, but each player keeps track of which enemies they can see, and the DM keeps track of which PCs the NPCs can see. You won't necessarily know whether or not someone else can see you. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0025.html)

Putting aside how that is an optimistic view of how much work players do, that doesn't erase the problem. Take the warband example again - the GM gets to track all of the detection variables there, with 60 variables being the baseline. Each player tracks 3 and the GM 9 in the first example, as opposed to 1 and 3 for combat. They simply are not equivalent.

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 09:49 AM
That can still be done with a single "hidden" status - it just requires that the status be kept by the DM (whereas the player simply thinks they're hidden).

In general, I like this approach, and not just for stealth. For instance, if you fail an appraisal check badly enough, you should think that you know what an item is worth, but be off by an order of magnitude. Actually 5E's proposed hazard rules do that reasonably well, but this may require the DM to roll for certain checks where the outcome isn't obvious.

It may be simpler, but it's unrealistic for the party member with Spot -3 to see the foe with a Hide check of 19 just because the party member with Spot +22 does.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-15, 10:00 AM
It may be simpler, but it's unrealistic for the party member with Spot -3 to see the foe with a Hide check of 19 just because the party member with Spot +22 does.

It's easy to make up an extreme situation that supports your argument. However, to prevent them from becoming overly verbose, rules should be written for the common case, not for unlikely hypotheticals.

In other words, it's fine and realistic for the party member with Spot 3 to see the foe with a hide check of 15 because his fellow party member with Spot 7 (passive 17) points that out to him.

Zeful
2012-10-15, 10:05 AM
This is inaccurate. Dead and Alive are simple states that everyone has, Hidden is a relationship between a character and another. Say there are three people on each side, and both sides are trying to hide from the other - this makes eighteen hidden/not hidden values if you track per person, as each person is hiding from three people and there are six people hiding. We have eighteen binary states, whereas dead and alive produce a maximum of six, on account of there being only six people.The same logic applies to Illusion spells. And I doubt you'd advocate letting the entire party (enemy or otherwise) auto-save against them if someone else takes a free action to say they're illusions (likely with the excuse that "it's magic"). Incidently the Illusion school also includes invisibility, so if you do apply this logic inconsistently, then you have to track the hidden status against invisible enemies anyway and your entire following point is just pointless whining.


Now, lets take something more likely - a party of six is trying to sneak past a war band of ten. There are now sixty values for hiding to keep track of, as each of the six has a hidden value against each of ten enemies.
By contrast, there are only sixteen variables to track for health. If you add another orc, six hidden values and one dead value get added. If you add another party member, ten hidden one values and one dead value get added. If you add one to each, seventeen hidden values and two dead values get added. Tracking per person is simply far more work for stealth than for combat. And that only applies on a recently mowed plain, at night, between 30-50ft away from the warband. Any other situation will have much more obstacles to provide total cover or concealment at which point, there is no hidden status to track because of the line of sight rules.


It's easy to make up an extreme situation that supports your argument. However, to prevent them from becoming overly verbose, rules should be written for the common case, not for unlikely hypotheticals.

In other words, it's fine and realistic for the party member with Spot 3 to see the foe with a hide check of 15 because his fellow party member with Spot 7 (passive 17) points that out to him.

Except having only one hidden status makes that scenario more likely, as you only need one guy with good spot, everyone else can just ignore the check entirely, they'll never need to make it. Essentially, everyone else in the party has a Spot of "-" rather than "0".

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 10:15 AM
It's easy to make up an extreme situation that supports your argument. However, to prevent them from becoming overly verbose, rules should be written for the common case, not for unlikely hypotheticals.

In other words, it's fine and realistic for the party member with Spot 3 to see the foe with a hide check of 15 because his fellow party member with Spot 7 (passive 17) points that out to him.

It's not a very unrealistic example--I've seen plenty of characters neglecting spot, while one or two party members put in max ranks and whatever else they can.

I think that it might make sense to give one PC a bonus (like, +10) to the check if another passed it. That would be "pointing the hidden foe out". It's still entirely possible for an unperceptive person to miss a well-hidden foe even after having them pointed out.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-15, 10:32 AM
The same logic applies to Illusion spells. And I doubt you'd advocate letting the entire party (enemy or otherwise) auto-save against them if someone else takes a free action to say they're illusions (likely with the excuse that "it's magic").

This leads to another problem with individual checks for everything, i.e. that it skews or breaks the probabilities involved.

For instance, suppose there's an invisible (or hidden) object or character in the area. If you allow people to keep rolling for this, e.g. because you're a team of 6 people plus henchmen plus pack animals, then somebody is bound to roll a 20. That means that being unseen is basically undoable (this is the fundamental problem with the illusion rituals in 4E's PHB1). If you compensate for this by increasing the DC for detecting it, then you run into the opposite problem, i.e. that it becomes near-impossible for a lone creature to detect anything.

This is fixed by making only a single check (for the most skilled person in a group, with some bonuses for the amount of assistance he gets). This also has the twin advantages of being much faster and requiring much less bookkeeping.

After all, if your smart wizard friend says that wall over there is an illusion, wouldn't you tend to believe him? It's what he's good at, after all. If your elven ranger friend points out an ambush in the trees, you might still not see the ambush, but his warning should increase your alertness, negating the combat bonus of your hidden enemy. Come on people, combat in D&D lasts long enough already without the DM having to keep a matrix of 60 hidden statuses.

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 10:40 AM
You can take an action (swift, or maybe move, not that we quite have those in Next if I remember rightly) to point out a hidden foe to a comrade, giving them a bonus (probably +10). It's more realistic than one party member making a check for everyone (and allows expert ninjas or whatever to remain hidden from some even if one party member can discern their location or track their movements), it's only slightly more complicated than having one party member make the check (which by the way completely defeats the purpose of individual characters having skills), and it slows down combat less than if multiple party members remain ignorant of the location of various enemies.

Knaight
2012-10-15, 10:41 AM
The same logic applies to Illusion spells. And I doubt you'd advocate letting the entire party (enemy or otherwise) auto-save against them if someone else takes a free action to say they're illusions (likely with the excuse that "it's magic"). Incidently the Illusion school also includes invisibility, so if you do apply this logic inconsistently, then you have to track the hidden status against invisible enemies anyway and your entire following point is just pointless whining.


I'm entirely fine with everybody being able to see through an illusion once one person points it out,*and I'm entirely fine with having one roll for a group here to prevent the probabilities from going way out of the acceptable range. Furthermore, this doesn't change the fact that your entire assertion of equivalency is based on an objectively incorrect understanding of the mechanics involved. Similarly, trying to spin pointing out this false equivalency as pointless whining doesn't prevent the equivalency from continuing to be false.

*Some sort of group roll mechanic would be helpful anyways, and if this "bounded accuracy" skill system lives up to the name it should probably be fairly easy to make.

Camelot
2012-10-15, 10:44 AM
Right, but that just makes the stealth rules clumsy. You generally make one check to attack, defend, disarm, heal, etc. Why should stealth rules involve making individual "contests" against each individual? It should be one roll for each side.

Rather than individual rolls, there should just be some benefit (or penalty) for hiding from multiple creatures; it should be easier/harder to hide when there are less/more creatures looking for you. Do something like d20 + the creature with the highest Wisdom bonus, and + 1 or +2 for every other creature.

And make hidden like invisibility! Having two different rules sets was dumb in 4e, and it'd be dumb here.

Having all the guards share one check would be dumb too, but the player who's doing the sneaking should only make one check. Then each of the guards has a chance to spot them. Since the player is only making one sneaking attempt, only one check is made. If you make a bunch of noise, all the guards are likely to spot you. But each guard may be paying different amounts of attention.

willpell
2012-10-15, 10:55 AM
I am. +1 items, some of the most common items in the game and among the first found by the party, don't suck anymore!

On the other hand, with the amount of coolness you poured into a vanilla +1 armor, how are you going to make a legendary suit of +4 unholy fireproof shadowcraft plate sound like anything other than "just another suit of demon armor, slightly better than the seven you already have"? This is kind of the problem I have with magic items in the webcomic "Goblins"; a +1 sword leaves personally color-coded energy trails a foot long when you swing it, so the artist has to go a pretty far way to top himself with something that's supposed to be far more impressive than that.

Zeful
2012-10-15, 11:39 AM
This leads to another problem with individual checks for everything, i.e. that it skews or breaks the probabilities involved.

For instance, suppose there's an invisible (or hidden) object or character in the area. If you allow people to keep rolling for this, e.g. because you're a team of 6 people plus henchmen plus pack animals, then somebody is bound to roll a 20. That means that being unseen is basically undoable (this is the fundamental problem with the illusion rituals in 4E's PHB1). If you compensate for this by increasing the DC for detecting it, then you run into the opposite problem, i.e. that it becomes near-impossible for a lone creature to detect anything.

This is fixed by making only a single check (for the most skilled person in a group, with some bonuses for the amount of assistance he gets). This also has the twin advantages of being much faster and requiring much less bookkeeping.

After all, if your smart wizard friend says that wall over there is an illusion, wouldn't you tend to believe him? It's what he's good at, after all. If your elven ranger friend points out an ambush in the trees, you might still not see the ambush, but his warning should increase your alertness, negating the combat bonus of your hidden enemy. Come on people, combat in D&D lasts long enough already without the DM having to keep a matrix of 60 hidden statuses.
The sixty statuses only apply in a handful of situations, and if compared to the number of situations where the number of hidden statuses will be much less, we find the latter is larger by a huge amount, to make the situation where the DM having to track 60 statuses similarly likely to a situation where one member of the party having a +22 to spot and another having a -3. And since you've already dismissed that argument as being an outlier, and thus inappropriate for discussion, the same must follow for the 60 statuses.

Also incidently, if they can't see the ambush, they haven't made the spot check, so your own example requires you to handle the hidden status individually. Doesn't mean they aren't aware, as following with the surprise round rules from 3.5, which actually doesn't specify the need for every character to make a spot check to be aware of the enemy. Which is yet another thing the DM has to track.


I'm entirely fine with everybody being able to see through an illusion once one person points it out,*and I'm entirely fine with having one roll for a group here to prevent the probabilities from going way out of the acceptable range. Furthermore, this doesn't change the fact that your entire assertion of equivalency is based on an objectively incorrect understanding of the mechanics involved. Similarly, trying to spin pointing out this false equivalency as pointless whining doesn't prevent the equivalency from continuing to be false.

*Some sort of group roll mechanic would be helpful anyways, and if this "bounded accuracy" skill system lives up to the name it should probably be fairly easy to make.

Really, so it's not based in logic to compare two situations that share similar qualities to emphasize that the complaint that it's "too much work" is a really bad argument? Firstly because Illusions and Stealth share actually do share quite a bit in common mechanically, essentially being one roll away from outright not working; and secondly because the original complaint, it being "too much work" for the DM to track hidden statuses, is kind of silly, despite the claim of 60 hidden statuses (which my response is that it's the DM's fault for forcing a stealth section on the party where he needs to track 60 statuses at once), because not only will he generally be handling more elements in combat anyway, but encounter and environment design is on him. Building a stealth proof dungeon is really easy, with the DM only really having to justify why it's all brightly lit to completely make stealth impossible.

Knaight
2012-10-15, 12:23 PM
...and secondly because the original complaint, it being "too much work" for the DM to track hidden statuses, is kind of silly, despite the claim of 60 hidden statuses (which my response is that it's the DM's fault for forcing a stealth section on the party where he needs to track 60 statuses at once), because not only will he generally be handling more elements in combat anyway, but encounter and environment design is on him. Building a stealth proof dungeon is really easy, with the DM only really having to justify why it's all brightly lit to completely make stealth impossible.
The original comment was that your claim that stealth and combat were equivalent was flat out wrong. I made no comment regarding the desirability of the number of states to track, but merely pointed out the scale of the discrepancy and what that meant regarding your claim of equivalence. With that said, look at your current argument - the GM needs to specifically avoid any situation where a bunch of rolls come up. That's ridiculous. D&D is, theoretically, a system built to handle adventurers who go adventuring. If it can't handle sneaking past a group without a needlessly labor intensive process, then it is failing at its job.


The sixty statuses only apply in a handful of situations, and if compared to the number of situations where the number of hidden statuses will be much less, we find the latter is larger by a huge amount, to make the situation where the DM having to track 60 statuses similarly likely to a situation where one member of the party having a +22 to spot and another having a -3. And since you've already dismissed that argument as being an outlier, and thus inappropriate for discussion, the same must follow for the 60 statuses.
This isn't remotely equivalent. Lets look at the known extremes, where 5e can get a -3 attribute and no skill, or a +5 attribute and +7 to skill, which is -3 to +12, slightly over half the range of the hypothetical +22.

Now, lets take the situations where 60+ checks come up:
Both Sides Hiding
1+ vs. 30+
2+ vs. 15+
3+ vs. 10+
4+ vs. 8+
5+ vs. 6+
Yes, I'm sure that some sort of ranged engagement where people try to use stealth with at least 5 people on one side and at least 6 on the other is an inconceivable edge case. Similarly, a group of 4 trying to sneak past, say, two hidden guard boxes with 4 people in each is utterly inconceivable. Truly these are outliers.

For one side hiding, one merely doubles the numbers on each side, and adds 7 vs 9, . A group of four people trying to sneak past a group of sixteen is downright normal. Then the are the situations with larger groups - say, hypothetically there is some sort of large creature, and a ship's crew is stuck in their cave and need to get out. Say that the PCs are escorting refugees somewhere, and there's a gate guard or two they need to get past. So on and so forth.

Added to all this, the line at which things start getting ridiculous is well short of 60 statuses. 30 would be bad enough, and you can get that with a group of 4 and a group of 3 both hiding from one another. Similarly, it's not anywhere near a real edge case, as we've only been looking at two sided conflicts thus far. Throw in a third side, and the necessary numbers get way smaller. Three groups of five reaches thirty, and adding in one more person from a fourth group brings it up to sixty. Tracking stealth for every single person is a ticket to accounting, and it simply isn't necessary.

stainboy
2012-10-15, 01:05 PM
This is the only thing from your post that I don't like. Keeping track of hidden state relative to each creature is a pain, and in almost all practical situations the one enemy that spots you will call out your location to its allies anyway.

The idea is to keep you from getting kicked out of Hidden by rats / your own allies. If Orc A makes his Spot check then yeah, he alerts Orcs B, C, D, and E and you don't have to keep track of a Hidden state vs them anymore. Sorry if that was unclear.

Also, suppose one of your enemies is blind and deaf (because there are spells for that). You should be Hidden vs that enemy but not necessarily vs the un-debuffed enemy next to him, right?

Ashdate
2012-10-15, 03:45 PM
Having all the guards share one check would be dumb too, but the player who's doing the sneaking should only make one check. Then each of the guards has a chance to spot them. Since the player is only making one sneaking attempt, only one check is made. If you make a bunch of noise, all the guards are likely to spot you. But each guard may be paying different amounts of attention.

From a DM perspective, I would prefer it to be a simple contest. You can either go with 4e's "passive perception", or you can make it an opposed check. In either case, all that matters is that the player rolls well enough to overcome the opponent's bonus, but it should never be one roll against seven; doing so only gives stealth an inherent disadvantage.

The benefit to a simple target DC is that it's very flexible, without punishing the player because even tho Guard 1, 2, and 3, didn't roll above a 10, Guard 4 rolled a nat 20. You could easily have guidelines that you could improvise. For example:

Set a base target DC of 10 to sneak past a single guard. Apply +/-2 modifiers based on conditions. Add +2 for each additional guard watching, +2 for each ideal conditions (i.e. well lit), and then add the highest Wisdom bonus amongst the applicable guards. Add a -2 for each condition that works against the guards; i.e. heavy shadows, heavy winds/noise.

This allows both the players and the DM to get rough sense of how difficult/easy a task it is to accomplish. The DM will of course, know the true DC, but at least the party rogue can size a situation up and tell his comrades with some amount of confidence whether sneaking by is likely to succeed.

If you, as a DM, wish to declare that one guard in particular is watching like a hawk, and another is taking drinks from a pocket flask, great. Don't apply the +2 bonus for the drinking guard (as he's not paying attention), and give the guard watching like a hawk a +1 bonus. If the players manage to distract/take out the hawk guard, they reduce the difficulty of sneaking by 3 (or possibly more, if that guard had the best wisdom bonus).

In short, you can model a lot of different scenarios with a simple DC, without creating an overall high level of complexity (as seen in most stealth rule sets).

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-15, 05:09 PM
Another option is to have perception be passive unless characters take an action to actively roll it. Sneaking past a bunch of guards with +2 Perception means you need to roll a 12 on your Stealth to beat them normally. If you make them suspicious because a guard you killed doesn't check in on time or something, one or more of them can take an action to roll Perception--which doesn't mean their Perception will automatically be higher than normal, because they could be searching the wrong area or listening for the wrong things, but it does raise your chance of discovery overall.

Doing it that way instead of adding modifiers for extra guards means you're not automatically spotted if you try to sneak past a doorway to a room holding 20 guards, and it means you can have particularly perceptive creatures around like bloodhounds or a high-Perception guard captain without either having to figure out who the "primary perceiver" is to add bonuses to or pooling stats in any way.

Menteith
2012-10-15, 06:15 PM
Unless something has changed that I'm unaware of, D&D Next is attempting to get away from +X/-X modifiers, and instead tries to use Advantage for every situation - meaning that it's unlikely the stealth system, whatever it turns out to be, will use bonuses/penalties. While I think that some of the different systems that have been proposed in this thread are promising, it's worth keeping in mind that kind of design constraint when making a suggestion. If they've reneged on this design, feel free to ignore me.

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 06:24 PM
Unless something has changed that I'm unaware of, D&D Next is attempting to get away from +X/-X modifiers, and instead tries to use Advantage for every situation - meaning that it's unlikely the stealth system, whatever it turns out to be, will use bonuses/penalties. While I think that some of the different systems that have been proposed in this thread are promising, it's worth keeping in mind that kind of design constraint when making a suggestion. If they've reneged on this design, feel free to ignore me.

Well, their intent is to make as many people as possible happy. If most people are ambivalent towards or happy with advantage, they'll implement it; if not, they might still implement it, but there's a chance they'll switch back to solid bonuses.

Excession
2012-10-15, 06:32 PM
New Legends & Lore (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20121015) column is up, talking about what they're doing right now for classes, magic, and changes to backgrounds and specialities.

Specialities will be presented as more mechanical than they have been, so as to disassociate them from fluff. They give the example of "Duelist" being a poor name because it doesn't describe the mechanics that it gives your chararter while "Shield specialist" is a good name, because it helps you specialise in using a shield. I find this idea to be agreeable.

Backgrounds will give four skills instead of three, and they've changed the skill system yet again. I still think that if the background needs to be more than a small boost to few skills if you want to even notice that it's there. The background traits are the interesting bit, put more of those in IMO.

They might be getting somewhere with the Cleric, making Clerics of different gods play differently. Would need to see more deities to see if its going to make much difference though.

The idea of a pluggable magic systems and a "Magic User" class still don't do much for me. Having what is in effect an abstract base class behind all the magic users may restrict flexibility, leading to sameness and lack of differentiation.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-15, 06:43 PM
The idea of a pluggable magic systems and a "Magic User" class still don't do much for me. Having what is in effect an abstract base class behind all the magic users may restrict flexibility, leading to sameness and lack of differentiation.

Class groups didn't make everything in AD&D samey. What they did was allow for inheritance of abilities (assassins were "as the thief, except as follows," for instance) and for grouping classes for magical and other effects (e.g. paladin and ranger were fighter subclasses, so "fighter-only" magical swords could be used by them as well).

Of course, like many mechanics, this is a good idea that could have a poor implementation; if it turns out like power sources in 4e, where they make a big deal about the label but don't actually share mechanics most of the time (or when they do share mechanics, like Channel Divinity, all the classes get their own spin on it), it'll be a bunch of extra design work for nothing.

Madfellow
2012-10-15, 07:15 PM
The idea of a pluggable magic systems and a "Magic User" class still don't do much for me. Having what is in effect an abstract base class behind all the magic users may restrict flexibility, leading to sameness and lack of differentiation.

I don't think that's what they're doing, though I admit the language is fairly vague there. It sounds like Magic User is just a wide category that caster classes get put into, not a class unto itself that casters branch out from. It's basically just a useful label that's there in case they ever want to make broad rules or fluff for casters as a whole. I'm not sure it's entirely necessary.

Jacob.Tyr
2012-10-15, 09:08 PM
The fighter went over very well last time. Right now, we're focused on creating a set of options that allow someone to play a very simple fighter.
How what why? Lets make the fighter even simpler, great...

noparlpf
2012-10-15, 09:14 PM
I think they understood "this fighter is looking pretty decent as a starting point compared to earlier fighters" to mean "this fighter is the best thing ever nobody will ever want to play a wizard if you keep making this fighter better so you'd better stop now".

Dienekes
2012-10-15, 09:47 PM
How what why? Lets make the fighter even simpler, great...

I think they mean (based off of their earlier remarks) that they're currently focusing on the more simplistic Fighter maneuvers so if someone wants to make a simple fighter they can. That's been their goal since the beginning that the Fighter can be made complicated but the option to be simplistic is still present.

Still, we'll see how it turns out. If anything I think the current fighter they have waits too long between gaining new maneuvers.

obryn
2012-10-15, 10:50 PM
Unless something has changed that I'm unaware of, D&D Next is attempting to get away from +X/-X modifiers, and instead tries to use Advantage for every situation - meaning that it's unlikely the stealth system, whatever it turns out to be, will use bonuses/penalties. While I think that some of the different systems that have been proposed in this thread are promising, it's worth keeping in mind that kind of design constraint when making a suggestion. If they've reneged on this design, feel free to ignore me.
They seem to have moved beyond this. Advantage/Disadvantage are much rarer than they were in playtest 1. Now (for example) Kobolds and Rats get +1's.

-O

TheOOB
2012-10-15, 11:12 PM
How what why? Lets make the fighter even simpler, great...

You forgot to turn your sarcasm blinkers on.

One thing that cannot be overstated is how absolutely important it is to have simple play options available for players who want them. Everybody's core engagement with D&D is different. Some people want to use a suite of abilities in unique ways to solve difficult problems, some people want an epic story, some people want to slaughter hoards of foes, and some people really just want to hang out with their friends who happen to be playing D&D. D&D needs to have options for all of those players and more.

See, the problem with 4e was there was no really choice. Every class had about the same level of complexity. People who liked playing complex characters felt stifled, while characters who just wanted to hit people with a sharp stick were intimidated by they deck full of powers. It was a bad game design decision.

There are people out there who just want to attack things, or just want to heal. They don't want the spotlight, they don't want to make tough choices, they just want to play, and their enjoyment is just as important as anyone elses. As such, the game needs options for those players.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-10-15, 11:29 PM
There are people out there who just want to attack things, or just want to heal. They don't want the spotlight, they don't want to make tough choices, they just want to play, and their enjoyment is just as important as anyone elses. As such, the game needs options for those players.
IMHO, these people should probably be playing a simpler game then.

Not every RPG needs to be for everyone. I wouldn't recommend Mountain Witch to a hardcore min/maxer any more than I'd ask a Pure Roleplayer to build a SR3 character. It may just be my personal preferences coming into play but I felt that the 4e Character Builder threaded the needle just right -- a simple framework for character building that had enough scope for the more complexity-driven without leaving the "simple gamers" in the dust.

My proclivities aside, trying to permit "simple" and "complex" options within a single game presents substantial issues when it comes to build-relevance. Since the idea is to have a mix of "simple" and "complex" Players in a single party it is essential to keep the gap in power between the two narrow enough that they can still face the same challenges. It is no good at all for the "simple" Player to be in a game where their basic function is usurped by a "complex" character who can do everything the "simple" character can and more. Likewise "complex" Players will get frustrated if their elaborate min/maxing does not grant them a significant advantage over a "simple" build -- all that effort will feel wasted.

Personally, I don't know of a good way to balance the two. Increased flexibility for the "complex" can quickly result in One Man Parties without scrupulous restraint by the "complex" Player; powerful "simple" options will just be incorporated into "complex" builds unless you segregate the options somehow.

D&D is, at its heart, a war-game with roots in the minuate of Encumbrance Tables, Weapon Speeds, and Damage Type v. Armor Type modifiers: it has never really been suited for rules-light gameplay and efforts to make it so will only end in a bloated, compromised system. Also tears.

willpell
2012-10-16, 01:11 AM
IMHO, these people should probably be playing a simpler game then.

A simpler game would not have beholders in it. If D&D is going to hoard its intellectual property, then it should give everyone the opportunity to enjoy that IP, or else Wotco's basically turning down money from people who aren't interested in whatever they've arbitrarily limited D&D to being.


Since the idea is to have a mix of "simple" and "complex" Players in a single party it is essential to keep the gap in power between the two narrow enough that they can still face the same challenges. It is no good at all for the "simple" Player to be in a game where their basic function is usurped by a "complex" character who can do everything the "simple" character can and more.

This is why I favor the idea of having a very narrow band of capability within which the power ranking goes: poorly-played Wizard, poorly-played Fighter, well-played Fighter, well-played Wizard. The Wizard needs to be a high-stakes bet, requiring much effort to pilot correctly, paying off in noticeably but not absurdly higher power if you do everything right, but being very easy to do wrong. While the Fighter should be safe, a workhorse, doing good work with minimal effort and nigh-impossible to botch with, but not capable of being pushed very hard. Note that it's not necessary for the complex classes to be magical and the simple ones nonmagical; you could just as easily say Monk/Swordsage and Sorcerer/Warlock (concept of the first/execution of the second, more or less), assuming they were built right. But the no-brainer option should be very central in its effectiveness, while the alternative is a puzzle that has to be successfully unlocked if it's to compete. The player can then gravitate to whichever of those offers the play experience he prefers, without the system punishing him (or giving him unearned rewards).

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-16, 02:25 AM
A simpler game would not have beholders in it. If D&D is going to hoard its intellectual property, then it should give everyone the opportunity to enjoy that IP, or else Wotco's basically turning down money from people who aren't interested in whatever they've arbitrarily limited D&D to being.

1) You can add beholders to your home games in any RPG where they would be genre- or theme-appropriate, and that's a very wide range of games indeed.

2) D&D isn't "arbitrarily limited" by its complexity any more than soccer is "arbitrarily limited" by being a game about kicking a ball around into a goal. Complex rules and interlocking subsystems are as much an integral part of 1e through 4e as realism and modularity are to GURPS and aspects and a unified mechanic are to FATE.

The New Bruceski
2012-10-16, 02:55 AM
No, that's a trap. Any time a DM has to make up a rule on the fly the rules failed the DM. I could see multiple possible options existing, but the book needs clear rules for stealth so that there is a functional baseline for everyone to work off of.

I actually really likes passive perception from 4e and thought it worked well for the majority of situations. In 4e I'd only have a guard roll their perception if the PC got really close to them or interacted with them in some way.


I misunderstood and thought they were still using passive perception, so people were discussing how often a player or NPC should be allowed to make an active roll. If it's roll-or-nothing then I agree there can be some odd stuff going on that needs a bit more than "let the DM handle it."

Stubbazubba
2012-10-16, 03:37 AM
A simpler game would not have beholders in it. If D&D is going to hoard its intellectual property, then it should give everyone the opportunity to enjoy that IP, or else Wotco's basically turning down money from people who aren't interested in whatever they've arbitrarily limited D&D to being.

I disagree; there's nothing to stop WotC from breaking D&D into two games, one simple, one complex. In fact, they even have an available name for the complex one; Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. All players can be satisfied, but not by the same product. There's no reason to think that D&D should or even can cater to all players simultaneously.

Nu
2012-10-16, 05:49 AM
I disagree; there's nothing to stop WotC from breaking D&D into two games, one simple, one complex. In fact, they even have an available name for the complex one; Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. All players can be satisfied, but not by the same product. There's no reason to think that D&D should or even can cater to all players simultaneously.

But that is what they are currently trying to do with DnD Next. They deliberately seem to want to avoid that split that you suggest, I'm guessing it won't even be considered.

Personally I am also horrified by the idea of a "simpler" fighter. Expertise dice or not, I'm playing a slayer in the current playtest version, and 95% of what I do is stand in one place and swing my weapon. There's no need to deadly strike because monsters die in one hit anyway, there's no need to parry because monsters can't hit, and glancing blow is worthless. Maybe once I get cleave I'll actually get to spend my expertise dice. I honestly don't see how they could make it simpler without it looking just embarrassing.

TheOOB
2012-10-17, 01:14 AM
IMHO, these people should probably be playing a simpler game then.

While I'll be the first person to tell you D&D is not the best system for every game(seriously I will, look at my post history), D&D kind of has to appeal to everybody. It is far and away the most popular PnP RPG, especially here in the States, and a vast majority of the RPG players either know how to play D&D, or only play D&D.

Thus, if you're looking to play RPG's, you'll probably play D&D first, and D&D groups will likely be easier to find. D&D is very successful, but it pays for that success by needed mass market appeal, which means appealing to everyone, including casual gamers. Besides, casual gamers are great to have in the party, they add extra damage and hp to the party, and an extra friend to have fun with without taking screen time or caring if you ham it up a little.

As for splitting the game, that's usually a bad idea. Splitting your player base creates developmental problems, where you have to design two different systems separately. Likely one system will be more well liked and become the standard, and people who bet on the other horse will just be annoyed. Aside from that, splitting your fan base will make it harder to find groups, and one of the greatest strengths of D&D is how(comparatively) easy it is to find players. If I want to play 7th Sea or Paranoia, I'll have a tough time finding people, and even tougher if I need them to have the books. For D&D I know literally dozens of people who play and own the books.

Blue Lantern
2012-10-17, 04:07 AM
While I can agree with your reasoning I am widley skeptical they can manage to pull it off without creating some wide gaps in the rules that will be expolited.
I personally think that choosing a middle ground of complexity required character creation as a baseline and designing the class around that would be better.

But I my opinion on Next (so far) is that many of the issues of 3.5 will be back, less highlighted maybe, but still present.

Kerrin
2012-10-17, 11:09 AM
I'm disappointed that they didn't go the route of more focused classes (e.g. the 3.5 Beguiler) when it came to class design guidelines...


One focused area in which the class is really good, an expert, better than others who aren't focused in this area. It's their space in which to be an authority on the subject within the game world.
Two focused areas in which the class is reliable and competent without being an expert. Give the player some choices so their build of the class is customized.
Two focused areas in which the class dabbles, better and more knowledgable than the average person. Give the player some choices so their build of the class is customized.


There are things outside of the class definition that would allow for more customization, for example: skills, backgrounds, and whatnot.

I feel like more focused classes are easire to design and slot into the game system.

Madfellow
2012-10-17, 11:36 AM
I think they're getting to that. Most of the classic d&d classes (aside from the Big Four) are fairly rocused, and it's practically certain that we'll have more classes than just the Big Four in the final game.

TheOOB
2012-10-17, 12:12 PM
While I can agree with your reasoning I am widley skeptical they can manage to pull it off without creating some wide gaps in the rules that will be expolited.
I personally think that choosing a middle ground of complexity required character creation as a baseline and designing the class around that would be better.

But I my opinion on Next (so far) is that many of the issues of 3.5 will be back, less highlighted maybe, but still present.

There doesn't need to be wide gaps. Casual players, as a rule, don't like making tough decisions. Ergo, you need to make classes that are effective with fairly rout tactics. The Next Fighter is a good example of this. If you only use your expertise dice to increase your damage on your attacks, you are doing your job as a fighter, you are causing damage(and a lot of damage at that). You can use your other combat maneuvers to gain other abilities that are obvious when they should be used, or just ignore them. Sure you won't be as effective as a fighter who carefully uses all of their maneuvers, but the casual gamer isn't looking for power, they are looking to hang out with friends. This way they get what they want, and the party gets a useful ally.

However, in 5e, the fighter can have more complexity, which means it's not purely for casual gamers, and if a casual gamer starts getting more into the game, that can start making their character more complex.

As for bringing back the issues of 3.5, that's kind of a difficult topic to bring up. What are the issues of 3.5? What caused those issues? How have they be solved by people in the past? What can be done to fix them in the future? Those are all questions that need answers, and I promise you WotC R&D is trying to do just that.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-17, 12:23 PM
As for bringing back the issues of 3.5, that's kind of a difficult topic to bring up. What are the issues of 3.5? What caused those issues? How have they be solved by people in the past? What can be done to fix them in the future? Those are all questions that need answers, and I promise you WotC R&D is trying to do just that.

Yes. For starters, what the issues actually are is completely different from what theoretical points are repeated ad infinitum in the echo chamber that is message boards.

Kerrin
2012-10-17, 04:00 PM
I think they're getting to that. Most of the classic d&d classes (aside from the Big Four) are fairly rocused, and it's practically certain that we'll have more classes than just the Big Four in the final game.
I do hope they get there.

I guess I was hoping the typical big four (fighter, mage, cleric, thief) would not exist in the game as generic classes but instead that their more specialized derivities would be present only.

I suppose mentally I'm approaching this as an object oriented design problem with various is-a and has-a relationships where the abstract base classes won't end up appearing in the Player's Handbook.



abstract class ClassBase

abstract class Spellcaster : ClassBase
abstract class Mage : Spellcaster
class Beguiler : Mage

abstract class Mundane : ClassBase
abstract class Fighter : Mundane
class Warlord : Fighter
While a non-spellcaster class would not have any built in magical abilities, they would still be able to pick up magical abilities via has-a relationships, however they would acquire them according to the game system.

I suppose I'm getting way too geeky because I'm starting to feel the need to draw up a data model or class diagram. So I'll just leave it there.

P.S. Madfellow, as a fellow bard I saLUTE you!

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-17, 04:16 PM
I do hope they get there.

I guess I was hoping the typical big four (fighter, mage, cleric, thief) would not exist in the game as generic classes but instead that their more specialized derivities would be present only.

Well, the big four don't have to be generic. They weren't always the generic "divine magic guy," "arcane magic guy," "combat guy," and "skills guy"--originally, clerics and fighters were armored warriors, one with offensive weapon capabilities and the other with healing/restorative/defensive magic, while thieves and magic-users were primarily non-combat Swiss army knives who could toss a fireball or stab a fool in a pinch. There are plenty of ways to have the big four in the game without them ending up as generic cover-any-concept classes.


I suppose I'm getting way too geeky because I'm starting to feel the need to draw up a data model or class diagram. So I'll just leave it there.

Not too geeky at all. I already used (and had to explain) the class inheritance model to my group when they saw that article, as well as interface implementation when the subject of swappable magic systems came up.

Clawhound
2012-10-18, 10:00 AM
IMHO, in 3.5, much of the issues of non-magic classes vs. magic classes. It's really that simple. It's as if the game was designed by two sets of teams, one of which worked on magic and the other that didn't, and they created classes using different benchmarks.

In general, non-magic folks advanced linearly and needed to use their gold just to keep up their equipment. Magic folks increased power far faster and used their gold to buy even more power.

There's more to it than that, of course, but I think those two points are key.

In Next, classes will be less magic equipment dependent, so any added magic should add equally to the classes. Presumably, they are working on magic to make it cool but less runaway spectacular.

As an aside, I expect no classes to ever come with their own free actions ever again (such as a Druid or a summoner).

Doug Lampert
2012-10-18, 10:51 AM
As an aside, I expect no classes to ever come with their own free actions ever again (such as a Druid or a summoner).

You may be correct, but I hope not. There's NOTHING inherently wrong or unballanced about a minion based class. There's a problem with minion based classes where the minions are individually combat significant and the PC is also at or above the power level of some of the other PCs.

Default BtB Familiars are not overpowered.

The followers are not what makes Leadership about three times as good as any other feat in the game, 40 followers is fine, one cohort is broken strong.

The Ranger's animal companion or the paladin's mount isn't a big problem either.

Take spellcasting and wildshape off the 3.5 Druid, and the class would be considered very weak. The problem ISN'T the pet, its that you've ADDED a powerful pet to a powerful class. Weak pet is fine, otherwise familiars and ranger pets would break the game. Strong pet is fine, the paladin mount is actually very good.

But strong pet with independent actions + strong class is broken.

I can solve the above statement plenty of ways that don't touch the fact that pets get independent actions. Take 1 CS die off a D&DNext fighter, and give him a pet that's likely to hit for about the equivalent of 1 CS die in damage and takes about the CS die size+1 damage to disable. I don't see how this is a balance problem, and it doesn't really slow the game down if you make sure the pet's powers are limited to "I hit it or I bite it".

Kurald Galain
2012-10-18, 11:10 AM
As an aside, I expect no classes to ever come with their own free actions ever again (such as a Druid or a summoner).

Do you think summoners in 4E (druids or wizards) are overpowered? Because they certainly do come with their own free actions.

See, I think this just needs to be balanced. If players summon a creature, they expect it to do something, not to require the summoner's actions to move around (you're a summoner, not a puppet master). This is similar to how players, when they fight with two weapons, expect to roll two attack rolls.

Clawhound
2012-10-18, 11:57 AM
I think that the designers have repeatedly learned that any additional player actions are very powerful, especially for ongoing or compounding actions. I know that they were very problematic in 3.X. I saw no issues with 4.x, other than expanding turn time, but as expanding turn time is a no-no in Next, that makes it a problem.

I think that the action ecology of Next is sufficiently narrow that we just won't see the ability to get more actions or proxy actions on an extended basis. We likely will see some additional actions, such as for one round per day.

As for summoners, companions, and such, I expect to see an entire design round dedicated to their issues. They will have to wrestle with that inherent conflict of puppet master vs. additional actions. I can't predict what they will settle on.

Blue Lantern
2012-10-18, 03:04 PM
There doesn't need to be wide gaps. Casual players, as a rule, don't like making tough decisions. Ergo, you need to make classes that are effective with fairly rout tactics. The Next Fighter is a good example of this. If you only use your expertise dice to increase your damage on your attacks, you are doing your job as a fighter, you are causing damage(and a lot of damage at that). You can use your other combat maneuvers to gain other abilities that are obvious when they should be used, or just ignore them. Sure you won't be as effective as a fighter who carefully uses all of their maneuvers, but the casual gamer isn't looking for power, they are looking to hang out with friends. This way they get what they want, and the party gets a useful ally.

However, in 5e, the fighter can have more complexity, which means it's not purely for casual gamers, and if a casual gamer starts getting more into the game, that can start making their character more complex.

As for bringing back the issues of 3.5, that's kind of a difficult topic to bring up. What are the issues of 3.5? What caused those issues? How have they be solved by people in the past? What can be done to fix them in the future? Those are all questions that need answers, and I promise you WotC R&D is trying to do just that.

I think you misunderstood my comment, I don't think there is need of a wide gap, I am afraid there will be. I agree with your point of view and I would love nothing more that have classes that could be played in a simple manner, like picking all the default choice, or the same class used at his widest with a lot of options, and that the two options could still be pretty much even, it is just that I am skeptical the designers could manage to do that; after all it is an extremely difficult task.
That is why I think it would be better and a most easily reachable goal to chose a baseline of complexity and balance the classes around that.
Also I believe that even if they manage to pull their state d goal off there will be complains by the people who likes the Char Gen minigame.

Also my issues with 3.5 is that the system encourages complexity in the character creation, and I really don't like all the multiclassing and PrC messes that are so prevalent in the edition.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-18, 03:13 PM
The only way to ensure that a better-built character is at the same power level as a standard character is by making the choices meaningless. That's not going to happen. As long as there is a list of feats, there will always be stronger and weaker feats, and any player that competently cherry-picks feats will have a stronger character than a player that doesn't. This just follows from the design axioms.

That said, of course WOTC can limit the gap to some extent. But that said, the need for balance is way, way overstated in message board discussions, and I strongly suspect that WOTC is aware of that. So I don't think that creating a fully balanced game is high on their list of priorities - first because that's a huge time investment, and second because only a vocal minority actually wants such a game.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-18, 05:37 PM
The only way to ensure that a better-built character is at the same power level as a standard character is by making the choices meaningless. That's not going to happen. As long as there is a list of feats, there will always be stronger and weaker feats, and any player that competently cherry-picks feats will have a stronger character than a player that doesn't. This just follows from the design axioms.

Only if you consider balance to be a binary feature. Perfect balance may be impossible but a competent designer can get imperceptibly close. Furthermore you can save 99% of your work in balancing a game by just thinking ahead.

TuggyNE
2012-10-18, 09:08 PM
Only if you consider balance to be a binary feature. Perfect balance may be impossible but a competent designer can get imperceptibly close. Furthermore you can save 99% of your work in balancing a game by just thinking ahead.

Although arguably, because it's desirable for system mastery and optimization to mean something, perfect balance is not a good goal; however, something more nearly balanced than e.g. 3.5 is still desirable, and not necessarily all that difficult.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-18, 09:13 PM
Although arguably, because it's desirable for system mastery and optimization to mean something, perfect balance is not a good goal; however, something more nearly balanced than e.g. 3.5 is still desirable, and not necessarily all that difficult.

Actually, I would argue it's your choices in play where system mastery should matter, not your choices during character creation before play even starts.

Doug Lampert
2012-10-18, 09:24 PM
The only way to ensure that a better-built character is at the same power level as a standard character is by making the choices meaningless.

Wrong. If there is a "best" design, then make sure that the standard DEFAULT character presented in the rules is that design.

If there are multiple "best" designs for different roles then make sure that ONE of those roles is best covered by the standard character.

Done. You can have all the choices you want. And the standard default character is ballanced. All that's required is that the designers have a good idea of how their own system works so they can produce at least ONE ballanced alternative. If the designers can't even come up with a competative design then maybe we need different designers.

They're GIVING us backgrounds that are obviously "intended" for certain classes, they're GIVING us specialties similarly focused. Make sure the background and specialty they SAY are good for fighters are actually the BEST choices for fighters, make sure they recommend good ability priorities for that fighter build, and then also make sure the fighter is a reasonable class and you're done. There's a simple, effectively design choice free, class that functions at a high level without any system mastery.

1337 b4k4
2012-10-18, 09:25 PM
Actually, I would argue it's your choices in play where system mastery should matter, not your choices during character creation before play even starts.

Indeed, which to me is one of the hidden geniuses of the early magic user spell systems, where by you had to find spells and didn't automatically gain them each level (or if you did, it was still random which ones). There were no choices to be made at character creation or level up regardless of class. System mastery was reflected in play, not on the character sheet.

That said, if you are going to offer choices, they should be meaningful else they are no choice at all. I don't mind incomparables as choices, and I honestly hope that WotC makes most of the choices incomparables. I am afraid however that the math behind the system, and the common sentiment that without hard numbers, the rules aren't worth anything, will not be conducive to a game full of incomparables.

Zeful
2012-10-18, 09:38 PM
Although arguably, because it's desirable for system mastery and optimization to mean something, perfect balance is not a good goal; however, something more nearly balanced than e.g. 3.5 is still desirable, and not necessarily all that difficult.

Balance does not mean every single option is mathematically equal, which is something people who complain about people that want balance do not understand.

Balance as part of game design is little more than making every option's difference in power fully intentional. One option being more powerful than another does not a bad, or even unbalanced game make. One option being more powerful than most options, and only because the people that wrote it didn't realize the option would be the best by a large margin. That's bad, unbalanced game design, and it hurts the game far more than it helps.

Grundy
2012-10-18, 10:24 PM
Do you think summoners in 4E (druids or wizards) are overpowered? Because they certainly do come with their own free actions.

See, I think this just needs to be balanced. If players summon a creature, they expect it to do something, not to require the summoner's actions to move around (you're a summoner, not a puppet master). This is similar to how players, when they fight with two weapons, expect to roll two attack rolls.

Good point about expectations.
This concept of free additional actions goes completely contrary to all my IRL experience. Unless the summoned creature is more competent than the summoner- which should not happen without major consequence- and arrives fully informed and prepared for the situation, it is going to require a lot of direction to be at all useful- not a quick command or two while the summoner focuses on something else entirely.

TuggyNE
2012-10-18, 11:13 PM
Balance does not mean every single option is mathematically equal, which is something people who complain about people that want balance do not understand.

Balance as part of game design is little more than making every option's difference in power fully intentional. One option being more powerful than another does not a bad, or even unbalanced game make. One option being more powerful than most options, and only because the people that wrote it didn't realize the option would be the best by a large margin. That's bad, unbalanced game design, and it hurts the game far more than it helps.

I disagree on two points; first, I don't think intention matters in whether something is balanced or not (otherwise 3.5's Toughness would totally be a balanced choice), and second, balance is actually better defined as "equal power, equal cost": that is, there is some sort of fair cost for everything, and it is proportional to the effectiveness of the option. Whether that cost is character points, XP, levels, feats, magic item slots, gp, spell slots, or something more exotic is not important; the important thing is that there is a fair exchange rate. (This is complicated extraordinarily by the use of multiple exchange rates in the same system, such as levels, feats, magic item slots, gp, spells, and so forth, with inefficient conversions between.)

Importantly, balance does not rely on equality of options; instead, it relies on more effective options costing more, in some meaningful sense.

And, as I previously stated, perfect costing is not only extremely difficult, it's not very fun for players who enjoy optimizing. Therefore, a certain proportion of "discounted options" is reasonable. (Just like in life, where it's possible to buy groceries with nothing but coupons if you spend enough time optimizing them.) Imbalance becomes problematic, however, when there is an enormous difference in resulting effectiveness; consider a family that rose to wealth and influence by clipping coupons, and how absurd that would be.


Actually, I would argue it's your choices in play where system mastery should matter, not your choices during character creation before play even starts.

That's a matter of preference, I believe; I don't know of any solid line of reasoning why one or the other style is always strictly superior.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-18, 11:25 PM
That's a matter of preference, I believe; I don't know of any solid line of reasoning why one or the other style is always strictly superior.

I can think of a good one: Choices in play happen all the time; Choices in character creation happen relatively rarely. For that reason you get a lot more "mileage" out of effort put into designing good in-play choices than effort put into creation choices. This is not to say that character creation doesn't matter, I just don't think it should be the focus.

Zeful
2012-10-19, 01:52 AM
I disagree on two points; first, I don't think intention matters in whether something is balanced or not
Wrong emphasis and definition. Not "this is intended to be balanced", but "it is intentional for this to be weaker than that (when 'this' is in fact weaker than 'that') in an arena". In short, balance as careful and clear design. 3.5 isn't balanced because what the designers where trying to do, and what they ended up doing, are almost at opposites from each other.


And, as I previously stated, perfect costing is not only extremely difficult, it's not very fun for players who enjoy optimizing.
Given some of the crap optimizers pull and how hostile most of them are, it's a very hard sell to say that it's bad if the game is not fun for optimizers.

TuggyNE
2012-10-19, 03:10 AM
Wrong emphasis and definition. Not "this is intended to be balanced", but "it is intentional for this to be weaker than that (when 'this' is in fact weaker than 'that') in an arena". In short, balance as careful and clear design. 3.5 isn't balanced because what the designers where trying to do, and what they ended up doing, are almost at opposites from each other.

Would you say that it was balanced if they had, in fact, come out with something identical to 3.5 after long, careful, and logical thought, and having settled on the precise interplay of classes, feats, and spells that we see?

See, I'm disagreeing with the idea that it is correct to define perfect balance as "it does what the designers intended". Certainly, that's a useful property, but it's not the same as balance; otherwise, it is meaningless to discuss how much to prioritize balance in your design, since obviously however much effort you put into it is enough, as long as you're aware of the consequences. Simply saying "sure, it's balanced, the designers thought about it carefully and it turned out like they expected" is pointless if that wasn't even the goal at all.

Instead, there should be an objective way to evaluate how well the designers did on a specific area of the game, based not on whether they intended what they wrote as a whole, but whether the result is good or bad. Balance isn't the only consideration in game design, or even necessarily the most important. But it does need a metric of its own, separate from other ways to evaluate a game's quality.

Don't reduce "is this game good in various ways" to "does it do what its designers expected".


Given some of the crap optimizers pull and how hostile most of them are, it's a very hard sell to say that it's bad if the game is not fun for optimizers.

:smallsigh: I'm not referring to cheaters, to munchkins, or even to powergamers. Instead, I'm referring to optimizers: those who a) have a given character concept and b) wish it to perform well against challenges without overshadowing allies. [Or, as the case may be, those who a) wish to build a character capable of performing well without inciting envy and b) fine-tune a concept from that.]

The confusion is natural, perhaps, since munchkins tend to adopt the name "optimizer" as a sort of protective camouflage, trying to avoid repercussions. Unfortunately, accepting this sort of evasion doesn't do anyone any favors.

If you don't care whether it's possible to improve the effectiveness of the characters you create, that's fine, but a lot of people do, and by no means all of them are fun-hating jerks. (Not even close.)

Blue Lantern
2012-10-19, 04:45 AM
Would you say that it was balanced if they had, in fact, come out with something identical to 3.5 after long, careful, and logical thought, and having settled on the precise interplay of classes, feats, and spells that we see?

See, I'm disagreeing with the idea that it is correct to define perfect balance as "it does what the designers intended". Certainly, that's a useful property, but it's not the same as balance; otherwise, it is meaningless to discuss how much to prioritize balance in your design, since obviously however much effort you put into it is enough, as long as you're aware of the consequences. Simply saying "sure, it's balanced, the designers thought about it carefully and it turned out like they expected" is pointless if that wasn't even the goal at all.

Instead, there should be an objective way to evaluate how well the designers did on a specific area of the game, based not on whether they intended what they wrote as a whole, but whether the result is good or bad. Balance isn't the only consideration in game design, or even necessarily the most important. But it does need a metric of its own, separate from other ways to evaluate a game's quality.

Don't reduce "is this game good in various ways" to "does it do what its designers expected".

Balance does not mean "it does what the designers intended", it means that when given a choice in how to create and personalize my character, the possibilities open to me are pretty much equivalent, not equal, from a mechanical stanpoint. I also disagree that this make choices pointless, if anything make them more meaningful, I can choose abilities that fit my idea without worring that the character end up too weak or too strong.


:smallsigh: I'm not referring to cheaters, to munchkins, or even to powergamers. Instead, I'm referring to optimizers: those who a) have a given character concept and b) wish it to perform well against challenges without overshadowing allies. [Or, as the case may be, those who a) wish to build a character capable of performing well without inciting envy and b) fine-tune a concept from that.]

The confusion is natural, perhaps, since munchkins tend to adopt the name "optimizer" as a sort of protective camouflage, trying to avoid repercussions. Unfortunately, accepting this sort of evasion doesn't do anyone any favors.

If you don't care whether it's possible to improve the effectiveness of the characters you create, that's fine, but a lot of people do, and by no means all of them are fun-hating jerks. (Not even close.)

The need to optimize to create a "viable" charachter (for a given definition of given) only exists in an imbalanced system, if, for instance, the feats for archery are equivalent in power to the ones for two handed fighting, then there is no need for me to have to optimize only to create an archer that can stand his ground against an unoptimized thw fighter.
Also if that is the case I can create an optimized archer that is better at archery that an archer who for some reason put some character resources into other things, maybe for flavour, maybe for the sake of having a second option, but without the former completely overshadowing the latter.
I don't see this as a bad thing.

In a system that actually manages that the only ones who are "punished" are the ones who actually want to break the game.

It won't happen but a man can wish.

TuggyNE
2012-10-19, 05:55 AM
Balance does not mean "it does what the designers intended", it means that when given a choice in how to create and personalize my character, the possibilities open to me are pretty much equivalent, not equal, from a mechanical stanpoint. I also disagree that this make choices pointless, if anything make them more meaningful, I can choose abilities that fit my idea without worring that the character end up too weak or too strong.

Well, I'd like something very near that: the ability to make a more or less decently-performing character with either next to no system knowledge, or next to no attention paid to effectiveness, combined with the ability to make a somewhat better-performing character with the application of a good bit of knowledge.


The need to optimize to create a "viable" charachter (for a given definition of given) only exists in an imbalanced system, if, for instance, the feats for archery are equivalent in power to the ones for two handed fighting, then there is no need for me to have to optimize only to create an archer that can stand his ground against an unoptimized thw fighter.
Also if that is the case I can create an optimized archer that is better at archery that an archer who for some reason put some character resources into other things, maybe for flavour, maybe for the sake of having a second option, but without the former completely overshadowing the latter.
I don't see this as a bad thing.

Yeah, that's basically what I'd like. I'd say that the need to optimize only occurs in severely imbalanced systems (such as 3.5); a perfectly balanced system, however, makes choices so similar in overall mechanical effectiveness that it loses a certain interesting dimension. (It is also ferociously hard to design.)

A good system neither requires nor eliminates optimization; it should be possible to roll up your first character and have fun with it without spending 35 hours reading the various options and their explanations, and it should also be possible to make an even more interesting and effective character after spending that time.

Blue Lantern
2012-10-19, 06:16 AM
I can think of a good one: Choices in play happen all the time; Choices in character creation happen relatively rarely. For that reason you get a lot more "mileage" out of effort put into designing good in-play choices than effort put into creation choices. This is not to say that character creation doesn't matter, I just don't think it should be the focus.

I agree with you, but there is the school of thougths claiming that, because character creation choice have usually more far reaching and permanent consequences they should matter more.

@tuggyne
It seems we agree on the general principle but not on the implementation, devil in the detail indeed...
On a personal note though I believe that a system in which character creation can take a number of hours with double digit is doing it wrong.

On a side note I would also add that a perfectly balanced system is only possible within a system with a really close and limited matematical array of ooptions; 4e is the closest thing to a mind as an example and we all know how that turned out.

TuggyNE
2012-10-19, 06:26 AM
On a personal note though I believe that a system in which character creation can take a number of hours with double digit is doing it wrong.

My apologies, my clarity seems to be lacking*. I was referring more to overall investment of time in learning the system, not expenditure of time making one character. (Although, obviously, making your first character involves both of those.)


*And that's why I'm off to bed now. :smallamused:

Stubbazubba
2012-10-19, 07:15 AM
Optimizers are an important group, and shouldn't be marginalized because it can be taken to extremes. Role-players have the same issues in the other direction ("I don't want my Monk to be so weak, it doesn't fit my vision of the character, change something to make it work!"). Both of these problems can be fixed by better design.

However, when it comes down to it, I disapprove of the breadth and depth of the character creation mini-game in 3.5. It is the single biggest turn-off to new players, it is so much more determinant of how well you do than what you do while playing that it makes in-game decisions relatively meaningless, and fixing it so it maintains its robustness while addressing the former two is nigh impossible.

That being said, I am fine with compromising, so long as the core math of the game is, in fact, balanced. What do I mean by that? I mean that all classes, in fact that all builds for each class, can handle a roughly equal number of level-appropriate challenges, at least within a certain degree of deviation. So, let's say the difference between any two given builds in overall utility against all the challenges at that level should not exceed 20-25%. One Fighter build might be 15-20% better than another Fighter build, or another class build, but that's the most optimized build vs. the least, there. If that's the case, then your average party is assumed to not differentiate more than maybe 10-15%. Ideally, that would also indicate that while PC X is on average 10% below the party average, there are still a subset of challenges that he is the best equipped to handle.

If this is your balance goal, then it informs you of how to approach design; you create benchmarks for challenges (CR, mostly), and build your challenges first, with their differing immunities, specialties, etc. Then you design classes and feats and what-not which also match those benchmarks, with their own specialties, strengths, and weaknesses. Then you run the math; using average damage, high estimate and low estimate, and taking into account odds for SoDs and basic tactics, and you can figure out what percentage of CR X encounters level Y build A is capable of handling (hopefully 50 or above). That percentage is that particular build's score, and through rigorous testing you get to the point where no known build exceeds the designated variation in effectiveness from any other build. Ta-da, balance!

Zeful
2012-10-19, 01:14 PM
Would you say that it was balanced if they had, in fact, come out with something identical to 3.5 after long, careful, and logical thought, and having settled on the precise interplay of classes, feats, and spells that we see?No, intentional bad game design is still bad game design. Also, not what I was saying.


See, I'm disagreeing with the idea that it is correct to define perfect balance as "it does what the designers intended".I'm not defining perfect balance. I never was defining perfect balance. I might as well stop bothering trying to explain, since I will apparently still **** up explaining things to you to the point that you are not even addressing anything I have actually said.


Don't reduce "is this game good in various ways" to "does it do what its designers expected".I'm not. You are.


:smallsigh: I'm not referring to cheaters, to munchkins, or even to powergamers.Neither am I. From the point of view of someone who doesn't can't optimize, optimizers are worse for a game world by orders of magnitude than cheaters, munchkins and powergamers. Those people can be dealt with in sensible fashions without apparently being objectively wrong in the eyes of the general community. Optimizers on the other hand: you either agree with the "common perception of the rules", or you are a terrible DM who needs to ****ing stop playing. Optimizers are the reason I outright stopped playing D&D.

Kerrin
2012-10-19, 01:15 PM
I agree with you, but there is the school of thougths claiming that, because character creation choice have usually more far reaching and permanent consequences they should matter more.
Regarding "permanent" that I've emphasized above...

This may just be a gaming group thing, but if a player in our group makes a choice when creating/leveling their character and a couple of levels later it's not working out (e.g. "Dang, feat ABC I picked a couple of levels ago doesn't work at all like I thought it did and it's messing things up."), we usually just let them retcon their choice. For us, it's fairly easy to work this into the roleplaying via a retraining sub-storyline.

TheOOB
2012-10-20, 02:04 AM
Getting good game balance is hard. In order to get good balance, your mechanics need to be rooting in good math. Almost every game mechanic when you take it down to it's most base level is math, and by understanding that you can make different options mechanically balanced with one another.

Here's the problem, perfect balance is boring, if two sides are exactly equal there's no choice, no room for customization. In a perfectly balanced game(say checkers, or even chess), there is ALWAYS a best move, always a choice that is better than all others(even if the math involved may be quite difficult).

So pure mechanical choices are boring. Fun choices are intangibles, choices which cannot be mathematically compared to one another. Something lie, what's better, the ability to pick locks, or the ability add fire damage to an attack. There's no way to say which of those two is better because they are completely different. You *can* balance incomparable, but the math involved is very difficult, and it involves lots and lots of playtesting(hint hint, look at what WotC is doing now). So interesting choices make games take a long time if they are done well(see Starcraft II)

In 3.x, we had lots of great incomparable, but they were poorly balanced and rushed out the door, causing balance to suffer. 4e, had much better balance, but didn't really have interesting incomparables, every character felt pretty much the same, the math they used the build the system was overly clear.

So far 5e seems to be trying to find a better balance, and allow some of the problems to go away by making an airtight core system.

Nu
2012-10-20, 02:49 AM
However, when it comes down to it, I disapprove of the breadth and depth of the character creation mini-game in 3.5. It is the single biggest turn-off to new players, it is so much more determinant of how well you do than what you do while playing that it makes in-game decisions relatively meaningless, and fixing it so it maintains its robustness while addressing the former two is nigh impossible.

However, I will not play a game if I don't get to make interesting decisions when creating my character. Heck, as a player who plays mostly in unfortunately unreliable online games, I've probably spent more time making characters than actually playing them. Which is sad, but that's how it is.

With that said, I like the "character creation minigame." Give me stuff to choose, stuff that matters, and stuff that isn't "you get a +1 to a skill of your choice at level 2." To this end, I think there are some goals DnD Next should focus on:

Keep build options light "fighting styles" and "specializations" in the game. These prepackaged options work as shortcuts for players who don't care about the "character creation minigame." Make them the default, even.
However, also include an option for someone to make interesting choices every single level. Nothing turned me off from 3.5 quite so much as dead levels, because in a slow-moving game, it really irritated me that I would finally gain a level and have nothing to show for it other than my numbers increasing a bit. 4th edition did a very good thing by removing dead levels from (almost) all classes. Leveling up should be a major event, in my eyes.
Balance is already being discussed to death so I'll just say in short that there should be a good level of balance, at least on the level of 4th edition. Moving to something else would be a step backwards. Balance does not innately mean homogeneity, unless you have perfect balance which is impossible anyway for a game like DnD (and thus there is no point in discussing it).
Don't restrict the "interesting choices" to a handful of classes. I want my fighter with no dead levels. I don't want to be told "if you want to make interesting choices every level, play a wizard." I won't accept that.

I don't see these things as particularly difficult to do or too much to ask for. As I've seen it, they've already proven they can do it. If they move backwards by not doing it, then I don't see a point in purchasing the game.

Madfellow
2012-10-20, 09:14 AM
I agree wholeheartedly.

Stubbazubba
2012-10-20, 10:26 AM
With that said, I like the "character creation minigame."

I do agree with this; I recently got the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game and I'm kind of frustrated that there is no character creation mini-game (random generation notwithstanding). You can freely create a new hero with any level of power you can imagine, go for it. Well, OK, that's fine and the people I play with are all responsible enough to use that maturely and it's no problem at all, but it doesn't give me a little nibble of the game to play right then. It really irks me.

I want to make meaningful choices at chargen, as well, but I have been surprised in how few choices I can make and feel quite satisfied.

Draz74
2012-10-20, 02:16 PM
also include an option for someone to make interesting choices every single level. Nothing turned me off from 3.5 quite so much as dead levels, because in a slow-moving game, it really irritated me that I would finally gain a level and have nothing to show for it other than my numbers increasing a bit.

So, which one are you protesting -- dead levels, or choice-less levels? Because there's a big difference in some systems. Legend, for example, has no dead levels, but often you level up without making any choices -- your new special ability is pre-determined by your previous special abilities.

If 5e Specialties were designed to be always taken as a package, not breakable into individual feats, would that actually be a bad thing? Well, yes, because I have no faith in WotC's ability to balance Feats well enough to keep me from being frustrated that I can't pick and choose. But if they could balance them well enough, would it bother me to have my new level-up abilities pre-determined? I'm honestly not sure what my own answer to that question would be.

123456789blaaa
2012-10-20, 02:43 PM
<snip>


Given some of the crap optimizers pull and how hostile most of them are, it's a very hard sell to say that it's bad if the game is not fun for optimizers.

Why are you saying that optimizers pull crap? do you know that you haven't just had a bad experience with the (relatively) small amount of optimizers you've met? As for hostility I can name a ton of nice,helpfull amazing optimizers on these very forums . Do you have proof that most optimizers are hostile as opposed to just a few? Aren't you being hostile to optimizers right now? You seem to be generalizing a lot.

Also,It seems kind of unfair for you to say that games should only cater to your type of fun. What makes your fun more important then an optimizers fun?

Zeful
2012-10-20, 07:01 PM
Why are you saying that optimizers pull crap? do you know that you haven't just had a bad experience with the (relatively) small amount of optimizers you've met? As for hostility I can name a ton of nice, helpfull amazing optimizers on these very forums. Do you have proof that most optimizers are hostile as opposed to just a few? Aren't you being hostile to optimizers right now? You seem to be generalizing a lot.When you don't agree with the optimizers on rules interpretation, and in fact view a lot of the stuff they argue for as outright broken, all those "nice helpfull[sic] amazing optimizers" turn very hostile, very quickly. I've pretty much outright stopped bothering with the D&D forums, and D&D in general because of them (likely even the same people you would name as a part of that list even), something I point out in my last post.


Also,It seems kind of unfair for you to say that games should only cater to your type of fun. What makes your fun more important then an optimizers fun?Not what I'm saying. tuggyne[sic] was implying that a game that isn't very fun for optimizers is an undesirable state, either because of bad design, or taste. Given my experience with the optimizers on this forum, I disagree, on both it as an undesirable state, and bad design.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-20, 07:49 PM
Not what I'm saying. tuggyne[sic] was implying that a game that isn't very fun for optimizers is an undesirable state, either because of bad design, or taste. Given my experience with the optimizers on this forum, I disagree, on both it as an undesirable state, and bad design.

Well, tuggyne's right on that front, it is undesirable if 5e isn't fun for optimizers...just as it's undesirable for it to be not-fun for the beer-and-pretzels crowd, or the story-teller crowd, or what have you. It's impossible to completely cater to every sort of player, but you want as many categories of player as possible to have something of interest.

People like to claim that optimization culture is a 3e thing. It's not, but because different kinds of optimization happened in each edition, people who can and do optimize in one edition might view another as too hard or too easy to optimize. 3e and 4e have lots of prerequisites, hoop-jumping, and "you must have X to do Y," so optimizing in that ruleset means working your build out ahead of time to ensure you can do what you want to be able to do. AD&D has less flexible classes (with most customization coming in the form of learning spells, making and finding items, and such), as well a fairly delineated level progression ("name level," level caps, different XP tables, UA class variants, etc.), so optimizing in that ruleset means strategic multi- and dual-classing and seeking out magical stuff to make you better. Optimization-in-build vs. optimization-in-play, if you will. For a game to be "bad" or unfun for optimizers would mean it would either have to be practically impossible to optimize (lots of randomness, DM fiat everywhere, etc.) or pointless to optimize (homogeneous options, no advantage to be gained, etc.). Those kinds of games are good for PC-killers like one-shots, old-school dungeoncrawls, tournament play, and such; non-serious games like Paranoia, where the rules don't really matter anyway; and PCs-as-inferior-underdogs games like WHFRP and CoC, where the whole point is that the PCs are relatively powerless and doomed to die; none of which modern D&D really resembles.

Similarly, the people who argue in WotC D&D about the technical literal meaning of RAW are the same people who argue in AD&D about vague and contradictory rules; too many rules is just as bad as too few rules. The people who get upset when 3e DMs don't allow PrC early-entry and ban material for bad reasons are the same people who argue with 2e DMs about banned kits and subsystems or 4e DMs about banned themes and rituals. The fact that there are a lot of powergamers/munchkins/rules lawyers/[derogatory term du jour] online doesn't mean that they should be catered to less than the drama queens/"real" roleplayers/[derogatory term du jour] or the noobs/hack-n-slashers/[derogatory term du jour].

I haven't seen the overly-hostile optimizers you mention, at least on these forums, but I'll take your word for it that you have been burned by them before. Even so, dismissing optimizers as worse than cheaters is not the right reaction--you can deal with them sensibly just as much as cheaters, and usually more so. Calling out D&D forums as being the most wretched hives of scum and villainy around is the wrong reaction--the stuff you can pull in GURPS and Shadowrun is less out-of-genre than D&D but no less crazy. Wanting a game to be badly designed to have more vague and undefined rules to stop them (which would only lead to "story lawyering" on the part of the bad players and god-moding and railroading on the part of the bad DMs) is not the right reaction--note that there's a big different between a rules-light game and one with incomplete or vague rules.

123456789blaaa
2012-10-20, 07:53 PM
When you don't agree with the optimizers on rules interpretation, and in fact view a lot of the stuff they argue for as outright broken, all those "nice helpfull[sic] amazing optimizers" turn very hostile, very quickly. I've pretty much outright stopped bothering with the D&D forums, and D&D in general because of them (likely even the same people you would name as a part of that list even), something I point out in my last post.

I could say the same thing for many people hostile to optimizing except in the other direction. I have seen many people hostile to optimization who react badly to the notion that the monk (for example) is underpowered. There are hostile people and pleasant people on both sides. There is also the fact that most optimizers don't share the same opinions (see Answerer and Thiagomartell on these very forums). You can't group us all together like that. One optimizer may think something is outright broken while another might think it's fine.

I'm also a little confused as too why you have "stopped bothering with dnd because of optimizers" when non-optimizers still vastly outnumber optimizers. This is an optimization friendly forum (and this is the only one I can really think of besides the minmaxboards). Go to a site like RPGnet or ENworld or the 3.5 private sanctuary forums or the kick the boot forums or the pathfinder forums or etc etc etc and you will see a ton of people who share your opinions and maybe one or two guys per thread (probably not even that) who don't.

EDIT: I also forgot to mention the RPG youtube brigade as an example of a community made up almost entirely of non-optimizers.

EDIT: the post above this one is gold.


Not what I'm saying. tuggyne[sic] was implying that a game that isn't very fun for optimizers is an undesirable state, either because of bad design, or taste. Given my experience with the optimizers on this forum, I disagree, on both it as an undesirable state, and bad design.

Ah I see. I think I'll withold my opinions on this one.

Zeful
2012-10-20, 10:30 PM
you can deal with them sensibly just as much as cheaters, and usually more so.

No, I can't. I can't tell powerlevel apart from extensively documented builds, so if a player were to subtly optimize, I would be outright incapable of doing anything but throwing the player out of the group once caught. I cannot build anything to challenge his dominance at the table, I cannot trust the player at the table or in private, and unlike cheaters, munchkins, rules-lawyers, and powergamers, I have no ability to tell if the player in question is actually breaking discipline, and skewing the power until he has already done so.

To me, with my own abilities in mind: there is no functional difference between an optimizer and a powergamer, other than discipline, which I can't just trust.

And 123456789blaaa: That's why I can't play D&D anymore. It has nothing to do finding players like-minded or otherwise, I could likely find a group on a D&D forums to run with in a week. Or in the years since I stopped. But it wouldn't change that I would need to be a harshly iron-fisted DM, or a remora of a player in order to actually play D&D. And being that kind of a hard-ass, or knowtowing to someone in order to make sure I can do anything is not something I want to be. So I don't play, and I don't take solace in things that are good for optimizers.

123456789blaaa
2012-10-20, 11:10 PM
No, I can't. I can't tell powerlevel apart from extensively documented builds, so if a player were to subtly optimize, I would be outright incapable of doing anything but throwing the player out of the group once caught. I cannot build anything to challenge his dominance at the table, I cannot trust the player at the table or in private, and unlike cheaters, munchkins, rules-lawyers, and powergamers, I have no ability to tell if the player in question is actually breaking discipline, and skewing the power until he has already done so.

To me, with my own abilities in mind: there is no functional difference between an optimizer and a powergamer, other than discipline, which I can't just trust.

And 123456789blaaa: That's why I can't play D&D anymore. It has nothing to do finding players like-minded or otherwise, I could likely find a group on a D&D forums to run with in a week. Or in the years since I stopped. But it wouldn't change that I would need to be a harshly iron-fisted DM, or a remora of a player in order to actually play D&D. And being that kind of a hard-ass, or knowtowing to someone in order to make sure I can do anything is not something I want to be. So I don't play, and I don't take solace in things that are good for optimizers.


But if they are like you then they won't optimize so why would you have to be "a harshly iron-fisted DM, or a remora of a player in order to actually play D&D." :smallconfused:. I have the feeling I'm missing something...

Also, check my sig.

TuggyNE
2012-10-20, 11:19 PM
Not what I'm saying. tuggyne was implying that a game that isn't very fun for optimizers is an undesirable state, either because of bad design, or taste. Given my experience with the optimizers on this forum, I disagree, on both it as an undesirable state, and bad design.

I wasn't quite saying it was bad design per se, although I can see why it would be easy to get confused, as I wasn't massively clear there. Rather, I am saying it's a bad idea to design a game (however good otherwise) to ignore a particular subset of your target market, when (as Pair O'Dice has eloquently explained) it's such a substantial chunk of your past, present, and future players.

I do, however, consider it bad design to make a game that is vastly imbalanced, or to achieve balance by making all options identical; whether any of these is done intentionally or by accident I consider beside the point.


No, I can't. I can't tell powerlevel apart from extensively documented builds, so if a player were to subtly optimize, I would be outright incapable of doing anything but throwing the player out of the group once caught. I cannot build anything to challenge his dominance at the table, I cannot trust the player at the table or in private, and unlike cheaters, munchkins, rules-lawyers, and powergamers, I have no ability to tell if the player in question is actually breaking discipline, and skewing the power until he has already done so.

To me, with my own abilities in mind: there is no functional difference between an optimizer and a powergamer, other than discipline, which I can't just trust.

And 123456789blaaa: That's why I can't play D&D anymore. It has nothing to do finding players like-minded or otherwise, I could likely find a group on a D&D forums to run with in a week. Or in the years since I stopped. But it wouldn't change that I would need to be a harshly iron-fisted DM, or a remora of a player in order to actually play D&D. And being that kind of a hard-ass, or knowtowing to someone in order to make sure I can do anything is not something I want to be. So I don't play, and I don't take solace in things that are good for optimizers.

I find this very sad, for three reasons: first, you've obviously experienced mostly "optimizers" who, through accident or intent, have not made characters that fit with the party power level. (It's also possible for an entire party to optimize beyond what a DM can deal with, but this is a bit less common, and tends to be simpler to tone down.) Mistakes do happen, even with experienced optimizers at times, and it's reasonable for players and DMs to work together to fix them, rather than immediately kicking someone out as soon as they slip up.

Secondly, that you're unable to distinguish probable power levels (which is a bit unfortunate, but certainly not a character flaw) and more importantly can't tell the difference between an honest mistake that could reasonably be corrected and a dishonest determination to slip something past you at all costs and with no compunction. I have a personal friend in somewhat the same situation; the only "optimizer" he knows that is at all a decent person is me, and he's had the pain of DMing a party/campaign crossover where one entire party is player-killing munchkins (who, of course, all labeled themselves as optimizers). So you have my sympathy for the players you've dealt with that have betrayed your trust.

And thirdly, the fact that your decision not to DM (because of the danger of lurking optimizers) led directly to a decision not to play (because you don't want to be a parasite) seems really sad, and unnecessary to me. Sometimes, we have to live with not being able to contribute much toward a common goal. But being a perpetual player should not be considered so dishonorable that you give up on playing entirely.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-20, 11:21 PM
No, I can't. I can't tell powerlevel apart from extensively documented builds, so if a player were to subtly optimize, I would be outright incapable of doing anything but throwing the player out of the group once caught. I cannot build anything to challenge his dominance at the table, I cannot trust the player at the table or in private, and unlike cheaters, munchkins, rules-lawyers, and powergamers, I have no ability to tell if the player in question is actually breaking discipline, and skewing the power until he has already done so.

To me, with my own abilities in mind: there is no functional difference between an optimizer and a powergamer, other than discipline, which I can't just trust.

So...you don't like optimizers as a DM because you don't know the rules well enough to gauge power level, you don't trust your players and so impose a "discipline" that they can "break," you expect people to try to sneak things past you as a DM, and your first reaction to "catching" someone with a more-powerful-than-average character is to kick them from the group, and as a player because you feel their rules knowledge eclipses yours and therefore any group with the two of you would involve your "kowtowing" to them and the DM or being a "remora"? :smallconfused: How do you play any RPG more rules-heavy than FATE if that's your attitude towards the rules? And even rules-light games like FATE require a heck of a lot of player-GM trust with all the narrative control given to players.

We have two rules in my group to rein in over-optimization. Rule #1 is "Don't be a ****" and Rule #2 is "Be honest with the group," and we've never had a problem. I think you've either been incredibly unlucky in your selection of players, or any "acting out" they're doing is in response to said iron-fisted DMing. I do hope you give D&D another chance with a good group sometime; with a group of players who are friends rather than jerks, it's nowhere near as bad as you describe.

Zeful
2012-10-21, 01:24 AM
I wasn't quite saying it was bad design per se, although I can see why it would be easy to get confused, as I wasn't massively clear there. Rather, I am saying it's a bad idea to design a game (however good otherwise) to ignore a particular subset of your target market, when (as Pair O'Dice has eloquently explained) it's such a substantial chunk of your past, present, and future players.Which is a valid point, but a matter of taste.


I do, however, consider it bad design to make a game that is vastly imbalanced, or to achieve balance by making all options identical; whether any of these is done intentionally or by accident I consider beside the point.Which is again, not what I was saying or how I was using the word.


I find this very sad, for three reasons: first, you've obviously experienced mostly "optimizers" who, through accident or intent, have not made characters that fit with the party power level. (It's also possible for an entire party to optimize beyond what a DM can deal with, but this is a bit less common, and tends to be simpler to tone down.) Mistakes do happen, even with experienced optimizers at times, and it's reasonable for players and DMs to work together to fix them, rather than immediately kicking someone out as soon as they slip up.I'm just really bad at building synergies in games. When I would play mechwarrior with my family, I was the last person to adapt between rounds, or to the mechanics themselves, making even hilariously casual competitive play for fun a harrowing experience. This pattern would continue itself through my MTG days (which was a much better time, despite losing a vast majority of my games, small tweaks to my deck over time resulted in many wins and plays that were not predictable), and then into D&D. The skills and mindset required for optimization is something I've never had, this makes it hilariously easy to outpreform me as a DM.


Secondly, that you're unable to distinguish probable power levels (which is a bit unfortunate, but certainly not a character flaw) and more importantly can't tell the difference between an honest mistake that could reasonably be corrected and a dishonest determination to slip something past you at all costs and with no compunction.It has to do with who brings it to my attention, because as I've stated, I will not notice. If it's the player himself, then it's something that can be corrected. If another player brings it to my attention, then depending on how the accused reacts, something may possibly be worked out. Both of these situations have happened in games I ran. But, I have to have a standard to adhere to, and because I can't sit down with the character sheet and look it over myself, I have no choice but to assume malice where stupidity may suffice, especially considering my capacity with optimization, and where the default for each scale is between people.


And thirdly, the fact that your decision not to DM (because of the danger of lurking optimizers) led directly to a decision not to play (because you don't want to be a parasite) seems really sad, and unnecessary to me. Sometimes, we have to live with not being able to contribute much toward a common goal. But being a perpetual player should not be considered so dishonorable that you give up on playing entirely.Like has been said by outright better speakers numerous times: It's no fun to constantly be unable to be shown up at what you're supposed to be good at. And for me it's no fun to know that in most groups other than complete new players, I'm likely going to be shown up no matter what I do.


So...you don't like optimizers as a DM because you don't know the rules well enough to gauge power level, you don't trust your players and so impose a "discipline" that they can "break," you expect people to try to sneak things past you as a DM, and your first reaction to "catching" someone with a more-powerful-than-average character is to kick them from the group, and as a player because you feel their rules knowledge eclipses yours and therefore any group with the two of you would involve your "kowtowing" to them and the DM or being a "remora"?
More or less.

:smallconfused: How do you play any RPG more rules-heavy than FATE if that's your attitude towards the rules? And even rules-light games like FATE require a heck of a lot of player-GM trust with all the narrative control given to players.I don't. Very few RPGs have sufficiently interested me like D&D did. The ones that have are generally "no one wants to run" games like Shadowrun, or are games few people have even heard of (and I barely remember myself).


I do hope you give D&D another chance with a good group sometime; with a group of players who are friends rather than jerks, it's nowhere near as bad as you describe.I want to give D&D another shot, it's why I'm here. But for me 3.5 is almost totally ruined as a system, and playing it would require far more work and interpersonal dependence than I'm capable of.

Ashdate
2012-10-21, 08:26 AM
I want to give D&D another shot, it's why I'm here. But for me 3.5 is almost totally ruined as a system, and playing it would require far more work and interpersonal dependence than I'm capable of.

I think you're pretty much trapped in an unwinnable situation. D&D, due to its nature as a rules-heavy gaming system, is naturally going to allow players to "optimize" if they choose to do so. Even 4e, which for all practical purposes narrowed the gap between RAW "low op" and "high op" significantly is still a game where optimization happens (and some would argue, is baked into the system, to a degree that didn't even exist in 3.5). We haven't seen too much of 5e, but I am confident that whatever gets released will be picked apart on the internet (just like 3.5 and 4e were), from which practical optimization will follow.

What I find more unnerving however, is your general response to "optimization" (and let's be clear that optimization is not always clear cut. One man's optimization, is another man's "in character choice"). You can't be afraid of it. If you worry about optimization, you're going to be spending so much of your time focusing on how to "beat" the optimization, rather than doing all the stuff that makes being a DM enjoyable.

What Pair o' Dice said worth repeating:

1) One of the most important rules for being a player: "Don't be a ****". A player that brings a Cleric 1, switches into Psychic Warrior at level 2, and then goes straight Crusader at level 3, should know better than to pick up a 1d2 weapon once they start nearing level 11. At the same time, "don't be a ****" != "don't optimize, ever". Some players will naturally see that Grease is a superior spell than Magic Missile, and that Power Attack and Improved Initiative are better feats than Endurance and Run.

The dividing line (I think) between "being a ****" and "not" speaks to Pair o' Dice's second point:

2) "Be honest about what you're trying to build". I tell my players straight up in our 4e game: I expect you to optimize, but don't bring a Ranger with dual frost weapons and a bevy of feats to add to cold damage you deal and tell me your character "is not optimized". Get in the habit of asking about what direction they want to "build" their character to, and why they choose particular feats or spells. You'll not only learn why they're creating the character they are, but also you'll be learning more about the game AND how your player approaches it.

Water_Bear
2012-10-21, 10:51 AM
Well, if you can't trust your Players, you have the least rules-knowledge in the group and you can't identify whether behavior is acceptable or inappropriate, then you really shouldn't be DMing in the first place. That goes for any system.

But there is a lot of room for Players who don't or can't optimize in D&D 3.X. I run what I consider a fairly high-op game (average encounters are usually CR+4 to CR+8, mooks are optimized for group tactics, monsters get feats/spells/ability scores shuffled around to make them more effective, etc) but there are always a handful of players who need to add up their Attack Bonus every round, and they do just fine. Part of being a Party means looking out for each other and giving the other PCs room to shine; there's nothing parasitic about having to ask for help every now and again with rules issues. A DM who lets a Player sit there feeling useless is, almost by definition, not doing their job.

Obviously it isn't wrong for you to move to a less optimization-heavy game like nWoD or 4e, but if you really enjoy D&D I recommend finding a group which isn't made entirely of *******s and being "the new guy." As long as your RP is strong and you're willing to ask for help with mechanical issues, it shouldn't be a problem.

Nu
2012-10-21, 11:38 AM
So, which one are you protesting -- dead levels, or choice-less levels? Because there's a big difference in some systems. Legend, for example, has no dead levels, but often you level up without making any choices -- your new special ability is pre-determined by your previous special abilities.

If 5e Specialties were designed to be always taken as a package, not breakable into individual feats, would that actually be a bad thing? Well, yes, because I have no faith in WotC's ability to balance Feats well enough to keep me from being frustrated that I can't pick and choose. But if they could balance them well enough, would it bother me to have my new level-up abilities pre-determined? I'm honestly not sure what my own answer to that question would be.

Well, I more meant choice-less levels, though I guess those aren't necessarily dead levels. I do like to be able to make a choice every level, and have it be more meaningful than "I get +1 to certain rolls that I didn't get last level."

For me, the easiest comparison to what I'd like would be certain 4th Edition DnD Martial classes. They have no true "dead" levels (at least, early on), but a lot of their "choices" are predetermined. My verdict on them is that they are fun and reasonably balanced, but they're not the type of class I would like to play for an extended campaign (I'd be fine with them in a shorter adventure or a one-shot) because of the low ceiling for customization.

Fortunately, DnD 4th edition still has the Weaponmaster fighter, so I can still play a fighter where I get to make a choice every level if I want to--I'm not stuck with the Slayer or Knight if I want to play the martial archetype I envision as "the fighter." Ideally, this would be about what I would want DnD Next to offer me. I want both the "weaponmaster," the build where I can make a choice every level, and the "slayer," where many (or even all) are predetermined. And I don't want to be forced to play a spellcaster if I want the "choice every level."

So I guess, I would say if specialties are the only options for feats--no matter how balanced they are against each other--I would be disappointed.

Dublock
2012-10-21, 12:32 PM
But there is a lot of room for Players who don't or can't optimize in D&D 3.X.

I gotta agree to this.

Back when I was in high school, I played during lunch with a group of friends, we all were pretty new. My ex was playing a druid, and she ended up begging the DM that she can switch classes because she felt so weak compared to everyone, mostly the ranger. She switched to a bard if my memory is correct.

Madfellow
2012-10-21, 02:03 PM
So I guess, I would say if specialties are the only options for feats--no matter how balanced they are against each other--I would be disappointed.

Mearls has specifically said that one of the modules will allow a level of character customization on par with 3.5, meaning you'll be able to pick your feats freely whenever you get a new one.

Blue Lantern
2012-10-21, 02:57 PM
But there is a lot of room for Players who don't or can't optimize in D&D 3.X.

There is room for groups who don't or can't optimize, it's when it start to diverge between individuals that the problem begins.

Nu
2012-10-21, 02:59 PM
Mearls has specifically said that one of the modules will allow a level of character customization on par with 3.5, meaning you'll be able to pick your feats freely whenever you get a new one.

a) I'll believe it when I see it. If there is anything this play test has shown thus far, it's that WotC RnD Testing seems to be rather quick to change its mind or direction. At this point I don't put a lot of stock in promise that "it's coming."

b) Even that isn't enough. I don't want 3.5 level customization because that had dead levels for many classes and even more choice-less levels. I want 4E level customization.

Madfellow
2012-10-21, 04:09 PM
Even that isn't enough. I don't want 3.5 level customization because that had dead levels for many classes and even more choice-less levels. I want 4E level customization.

That's been promised too.

And while yes, the playtest has changed directions multiple times by now, that was all IN RESPONSE TO PLAYER FEEDBACK, aka the whole reason they're having a playtest in the first place. All of the major design goals have remained consistent.

TheOOB
2012-10-21, 04:45 PM
a) I'll believe it when I see it. If there is anything this play test has shown thus far, it's that WotC RnD Testing seems to be rather quick to change its mind or direction. At this point I don't put a lot of stock in promise that "it's coming."

b) Even that isn't enough. I don't want 3.5 level customization because that had dead levels for many classes and even more choice-less levels. I want 4E level customization.

During PAX they said that they will eventually allow for 3.5 multiclassing, that is choosing what class you level when you level up, not some kind of level 1 hybrid thing. However, they did mention you would likely go into modified versions of the classes that are a)not so frontloaded, and b)give relevant abilities even if the class is taken at a later level.

1337 b4k4
2012-10-21, 05:09 PM
And while yes, the playtest has changed directions multiple times by now, that was all IN RESPONSE TO PLAYER FEEDBACK, aka the whole reason they're having a playtest in the first place. All of the major design goals have remained consistent.

This. Very much this. Once again, I sort of get the impression that many people have no clue how a play / design test is supposed to work. I don't necessarily blame this on the individuals, if you're not involved in a field with such testing cycles, you wouldn't usually know what to expect. I do lay some of the blame though on modern computer companies who have abused the term "Beta [Test]" far too much. When Google or Facebook or even Blizard roll out "Beta Tests" these days, they're not so much bug and testing releases as they are either marketing stunts, a way to release an incomplete or lacking software and avoid the criticism ("Hey we told you it was a 'Beta'"), or they're early stress test releases to iron out some release day bugs a head of time (like the D3 beta). In all of these cases, the developers aren't really looking for a lot of feedback, because the path has already been set in stone. Which is also why usually the feedback you give doesn't get much changed.

By comparison, it seems to me that WotC is doing a real play test here, in the original sense of the word. In this case, the constantly shifting systems, the changes that don't quite mesh to exactly what people are saying is missing, the dropping or inclusion of obvious nerd-rage items (turn undead etc) make much more sense. They're all things you do in a real test to try and suss out the truth behind what people really want. Coincidentally, I happened across an excellent video that explains a lot of this last week. So if the only "play tests" you've ever been in before this have been Google style marketing / stress test releases, you should take a gander at this video right here (http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/playtesting) to get a better understanding of the goals here. Some of the seemingly inane things WotC are doing with this play test might make a bit more sense.

Nu
2012-10-21, 05:09 PM
That's been promised too.

And while yes, the playtest has changed directions multiple times by now, that was all IN RESPONSE TO PLAYER FEEDBACK, aka the whole reason they're having a playtest in the first place. All of the major design goals have remained consistent.

"In response to player feedback" actually means very little, since I have no idea whether my desires are the majority, the minority, or even really being transmitted to the developers. They have their own way of reacting to things and perceiving things, so there is no guarantee that something they previously "promised" can't end up being left by the wayside, if, for example, it interfered with some new design goal they thought up.

I also have a hard time really confirming that "the major design goals have remained consistent" when those goals rely on things that haven't been revealed yet (and thus cannot be tested as to whether or not they are actually functional and accomplish their stated goals). For example, it is promised that we'll be able to make encounters as long/tactically interesting as we want, yet there are no real tools to aid DMs in creating elaborate and interesting encounters, only short and mind-numbing ones.

In short, I will believe it when I see it.


During PAX they said that they will eventually allow for 3.5 multiclassing, that is choosing what class you level when you level up, not some kind of level 1 hybrid thing. However, they did mention you would likely go into modified versions of the classes that are a)not so frontloaded, and b)give relevant abilities even if the class is taken at a later level.

3.5-style multiclassing doesn't have anything to do with what I'm talking about, and in fact I don't even really like the concept of it.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-21, 05:32 PM
I don't particularly care what WOTC says their design goals are. However, I can see what's in the previous playtest, and what's in the current, and what is on the message boards. From that, does strike me that WOTC is changing the game in the direction that the majority of commenting players want.

Because, you know, doing the opposite would be rather silly :smallbiggrin:

TheOOB
2012-10-21, 06:05 PM
I don't particularly care what WOTC says their design goals are. However, I can see what's in the previous playtest, and what's in the current, and what is on the message boards. From that, does strike me that WOTC is changing the game in the direction that the majority of commenting players want.

Because, you know, doing the opposite would be rather silly :smallbiggrin:

Keep in mind the majority of D&D players don't go on unofficial forums, and players who how things are going are no where near as vocal as those who dislike something.

Also we have seen very little in the playtest, so their stated design goals are pretty much all we have.

Nu
2012-10-21, 06:08 PM
Coincidentally, I happened across an excellent video that explains a lot of this last week. So if the only "play tests" you've ever been in before this have been Google style marketing / stress test releases, you should take a gander at this video right here (http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/playtesting) to get a better understanding of the goals here. Some of the seemingly inane things WotC are doing with this play test might make a bit more sense.

I can't help but notice that one of the things said in the video was "don't try to explain to the player what will eventually be in the game." The designers (Mearls in particular) have been making a lot of promises, however, which is dangerous water to tread.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-21, 06:16 PM
Also we have seen very little in the playtest, so their stated design goals are pretty much all we have.

On the contrary. We have seen very little in the design goals (which tend to be either trivially obvious or meaninglessly vague) so the lengthy playtest is pretty much all we have.

Tehnar
2012-10-22, 07:46 AM
So far all their goals have been in contradiction with each other, so I really don't know what they want to do. But that doesn't matter much as what they have shown so far is frankly crap.

Sure there are some good ideas, and even implementations in there that don't stink to high heaven, but when your core mechanic is so poorly designed, it doesn't matter. You can still add bells and whistles and pretty ribbons, spray it with perfume, but it will still be dung. Nice smelling dung, but still dung.

If they scrap a lot of 5e as it currently stands, they have a short amount of time to get out a good product. I doubt they are even considering that though, so I'm just hoping it fails and burns quickly so more talented people can take a shot at 6e.

Dublock
2012-10-22, 08:06 AM
If they scrap a lot of 5e as it currently stands, they have a short amount of time to get out a good product. I doubt they are even considering that though, so I'm just hoping it fails and burns quickly so more talented people can take a shot at 6e.

Why do they have a short amount of time? I thought we were talking about roughly two years before release?

Yes a loss of (4-5?) months will be hurt, and that is 20-25% of the estimated release time, but I am sure that Wizards wants to make this is done correctly for the sake of their market share and their bottom line, as this has huge implications for the future of D&D, both because of the fractured player base and because they themselves put a huge stress on it.

Frozen_Feet
2012-10-22, 08:13 AM
As a sidenote, I recently bought the 1st Edition AD&D premium re-prints. Going in-depth would require quoting large portions of the books, but let me just say that reading these threads alongside them is hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

For example, the debacle about magic items, and how it isn't enough for the text to state that magic items are rare if the tables don't support it. I dare you, go ahead and read what Gykax wrote about the issue in 1st Ed DMG. You'd be surprised. Or not.

It's amazing how far things can come in 30+ years. :smalltongue:

Tehnar
2012-10-22, 08:14 AM
Yes a loss of (4-5?) months will be hurt, and that is 20-25% of the estimated release time, but I am sure that Wizards wants to make this is done correctly for the sake of their market share and their bottom line, as this has huge implications for the future of D&D, both because of the fractured player base and because they themselves put a huge stress on it.

My assumption is that the books will hit the market at the end of 2013. Taking 6 months for printing and distribution that leaves them about 8 months time. Which is barely enough. Sure taking longer to make it, may make a better product, but it also gives time for competition to catch them offguard.

willpell
2012-10-22, 09:19 AM
IMHO, in 3.5, much of the issues of non-magic classes vs. magic classes. It's really that simple. It's as if the game was designed by two sets of teams, one of which worked on magic and the other that didn't, and they created classes using different benchmarks.

I'm inclined to think that's pretty much exactly what happened. Noncombat characters are for players who like tracking encumbrance and agonizing about how many of their 75 starting gold pieces need to pay for food and whether they can afford silk rope instead of hemp. Whereas magic is for people who want to research a 4th-level spell that lets them Fireball their enemies for half holy damage and half unholy damage while also producing the effect of Limited Wish with a shorter duration and no XP cost, which is totally balanced because they can only cast it if they have scales from a shocker lizard as a material component and their opponent doesn't make a wiggly-woggly sign with a giant foam finger while they're casting. There's just no way you can cater to the nostalgia of AD&D wizard fanboys, while at the same time having a perfectly balanced mundane-action system like the one that's designed to give Jump Check results which compare realistically with Olympic records. Or at least there's no way to do it without making the classes advance at drastically different rates, so wizards really do have to spend three times as long learning the skills of level 1, in terms of years played through in-game rather than just the dice you roll for your starting age (meaning that if you were statting up a level 1 wizard, your buddy might be statting up a level 12 fighter who's been adventuring the whole time you were learning how to pronounce "zordphij").

huttj509
2012-10-22, 09:42 AM
My assumption is that the books will hit the market at the end of 2013. Taking 6 months for printing and distribution that leaves them about 8 months time. Which is barely enough. Sure taking longer to make it, may make a better product, but it also gives time for competition to catch them offguard.

Based on statements around GenCon 2012 that we were at least 2 years from release, your assumption would seem to be incorrect.

willpell
2012-10-22, 09:48 AM
The skills and mindset required for optimization is something I've never had, this makes it hilariously easy to outpreform me as a DM.

It sounds like what you "needed" (in the sense that this might have prevented you from having such bad experiences) was to have a very supportive GM who will talk everything over with you, not hold you to poor choices that you made without understanding them, and be very comfortable with the idea of changing things as necessary to ensure that you have fun. I'm fairly close to being such a GM, though from how (understandably) bitter you sound, possibly not close enough. But there are a lot of people who are not so much as home with my "hand-holding" GM style, I've found...possibly even a majority that prefer to be able to prove themselves more independent, wanting to operate within a defined structure (I'm extremely prone to on-the-spot houserules of things I never thought of before, and that's a big no-no for a lot of players) and "earn" their victories with the understanding that the GM is, if not adversarial, at least impartial. Something that I just haven't ever been able to do, given that I have a very narrative focus (the bugbears don't beat you up just to kill you, but to drag you back to the evil cleric's lair so he can speechify while you come up with a plan to defeat his mad schemes) and am very much not comfortable with killing players after they've spent weeks fine-tuning a character.

huttj509
2012-10-22, 10:10 AM
As a sidenote, I recently bought the 1st Edition AD&D premium re-prints. Going in-depth would require quoting large portions of the books, but let me just say that reading these threads alongside them is hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

For example, the debacle about magic items, and how it isn't enough for the text to state that magic items are rare if the tables don't support it. I dare you, go ahead and read what Gykax wrote about the issue in 1st Ed DMG. You'd be surprised. Or not.

It's amazing how far things can come in 30+ years. :smalltongue:

So, I'm seeing mention in the text of the Christmas Tree effect, and "Monty Haul" games (page 92, right column). I definitely didn't encounter the first term until the internet, despite playing a lot of ADnD 2E. Was this the first in print occurrence of either of those terms?

I also like how the following paragraph calls "killer dungeons" "a travesty of the role-playing adventure game." So if you didn't already know that the Tomb of Horrors was not intended to be the sort of module you'd just drop into your campaign willy nilly...

Although ADnD 1e could probably have been better formatted. It'd have been nice to have the section on placement of treasure and magic items just before the section on treasure and magic item generation and descriptions. Just when scanning the books "Wall o' Text" readily comes to mind as a descriptor. It works if you read top to bottom, front to back, but not as well for easy browsing.

willpell
2012-10-22, 10:13 AM
From what I understand, that "travesty" is one of the most beloved dungeons ever, specifically because of what a murderwheel it was....

Kurald Galain
2012-10-22, 10:18 AM
For example, the debacle about magic items, and how it isn't enough for the text to state that magic items are rare if the tables don't support it. I dare you, go ahead and read what Gykax wrote about the issue in 1st Ed DMG. You'd be surprised. Or not.

Based on the fact that 1E games are mostly known for magical item overload, I'm guessing that Gygax wrote that items should be rare? Kind of like exactly what WOTC is doing right now?

I haven't played 1E, but I do recall the first introduction to 4E, where the dev team also said they wanted to reduce the reliance on magical items; and we all know how that one played out.

The New Bruceski
2012-10-22, 10:45 AM
From what I understand, that "travesty" is one of the most beloved dungeons ever, specifically because of what a murderwheel it was....

It's iconic, since it's a "killer dungeon" that is obvious even to non-gamers in exactly what makes a killer dungeon. It was also originally a tournament module, which are ALLOWED to be near-impossible. The problem is when people drop that "iconic" module/style of dungeon into regular play unannounced.

Frozen_Feet
2012-10-22, 10:46 AM
That's putting it mildly. The guy cursed monty haul games into ninth hell. The irony being, of course, that what followed was involved tables for random generation of magic items.

Also, remember it was 1st Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. D&D had existed before that. 1st Ed AD&D books are about 30% of actual gaming content, 70% Gykax's treatise on how everyone was doing things wrong and what to do to fix them. More irony follows since all the points he adressed are still debated on the net and complained about in regards to D&D. :smalltongue:

huttj509
2012-10-22, 11:02 AM
That's putting it mildly. The guy cursed monty haul games into ninth hell. The irony being, of course, that what followed was involved tables for random generation of magic items.

Also, remember it was 1st Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. D&D had existed before that. 1st Ed AD&D books are about 30% of actual gaming content, 70% Gykax's treatise on how everyone was doing things wrong and what to do to fix them. More irony follows since all the points he adressed are still debated on the net and complained about in regards to D&D. :smalltongue:

Bingo. It's interesting to compare "Gygax as viewed through his writings" with "Gygax as often viewed", and "Gygax in real life" was probably a different entity altogether. Take for example his comments in the very start of the DMG about how you should absolutely change rules that don't fulfill the purpose of your campaign, just make sure to understand the ramifications and possible ripple effect on gameplay first. This conflicts directly with some stories I've heard tell of him being, shall we say, a "real stickler for the rules in all cases," which again conflicts with stories I've heard of his actual at-home gameplay.

Heck, the section on distributing magic items specifically says that he regrets just having the magic item tables, and not cautioning DMs on the importance of moderation, placement and randomness of magic items, and the intent, meaning, and spirit of the game.

I seriously love having picked up the reprints, so great to look through and compare what's in them with what I THOUGHT was in them. Well, I could probably do without the MM, it's kinda less "treatise on design intent and methodology" and more "statblocks I don't think I'll ever use."

Frozen_Feet
2012-10-22, 11:10 AM
I'm the opposite, to me, the monsters will probably be more useful. I was actually disappointed, because my other experience with old D&D is mostly with BECMI, which has much greater ratio rules text to old man ranting - I was expecting similar rules density from the PHB and especially DMG. Overall, the core 1st Ed AD&D had way less rules than I thought or remembered.

willpell
2012-10-22, 11:30 AM
I seriously love having picked up the reprints, so great to look through and compare what's in them with what I THOUGHT was in them. Well, I could probably do without the MM, it's kinda less "treatise on design intent and methodology" and more "statblocks I don't think I'll ever use."

Ah, but it has gratuitous nudity! (Not to mention it was very revelatory to learn exactly why looking at a nymph causes either blindness or death. Thanks, Gary.)

1337 b4k4
2012-10-22, 11:40 AM
Bingo. It's interesting to compare "Gygax as viewed through his writings" with "Gygax as often viewed", and "Gygax in real life" was probably a different entity altogether. Take for example his comments in the very start of the DMG about how you should absolutely change rules that don't fulfill the purpose of your campaign, just make sure to understand the ramifications and possible ripple effect on gameplay first. This conflicts directly with some stories I've heard tell of him being, shall we say, a "real stickler for the rules in all cases," which again conflicts with stories I've heard of his actual at-home gameplay.

Sometimes it's also a matter of people latching on to one thing said and not paying attention to the message as a whole. People take Gygax's statements about how strictly the rules should be kept to mean following RAW to the letter, rather than looking at his other writings which explicitly encourage DMs to decide on a rule or change them as they see fit. In reality the message was less "Stick to RAW" and more "Stick to whatever rules you decide to use."

huttj509
2012-10-22, 12:28 PM
Ah, but it has gratuitous nudity! (Not to mention it was very revelatory to learn exactly why looking at a nymph causes either blindness or death. Thanks, Gary.)

Um, there's no picture in the ADnD 1E MM for the Nymph, and no text to explain the saves other than "unearthly beauty."

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-22, 01:13 PM
Bingo. It's interesting to compare "Gygax as viewed through his writings" with "Gygax as often viewed", and "Gygax in real life" was probably a different entity altogether. Take for example his comments in the very start of the DMG about how you should absolutely change rules that don't fulfill the purpose of your campaign, just make sure to understand the ramifications and possible ripple effect on gameplay first. This conflicts directly with some stories I've heard tell of him being, shall we say, a "real stickler for the rules in all cases," which again conflicts with stories I've heard of his actual at-home gameplay.

Most of the stories about being a stickler for rules or a killer DM or the like come from either tournament play or TSR legal wrangling. I can't find the exact quote right now, but Gygax was quoted at one point saying something like "if you make any house rules, you're not playing D&D anymore." As with 1337 b4k4's comment, that wasn't a pronouncement that you're Doing It Wrong if you houserule your own games, in context it was talking about how one of the points of AD&D was to standardize the rules between tables more, and if you're playing a con game or a tournament you really need to provide a consistent experience.

2e was, in addition to all of the politically correct "convince the media it's not Satanic or dangerous" revisions, essentially an attempt by TSR to write Gygax's influence and "voice" out of the AD&D rules. Because of this, a lot of Gygax's comments in articles at the time were in reaction to TSR's changes to the rules not fitting his vision; he had planned to make things more like 1e UA, with a more robust skill system, faster character creation, different classes and subclasses, etc. So a lot of the "rulings, not rules" quotes from him were in reaction to TSR 2e not doing some of the simplifications that he wanted, Gygax's supposed dislike of psionics actually stemmed from him wanting to make the AD&D rules slightly less fantasy-specific to enable multi-genre games and move the psionics to a specific genre rules module (kind of like how the 1e DMG has conversion rules for Boot Hill and Gamma World characters), and stuff like that.

Much of this was in Dragon articles or online articles I can't access at work, but two interviews of his I could find that describe some of this are here (http://archives.theonering.net/features/interviews/gary_gygax.html) and here (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=21348), for those interested. It's interesting how much 1e and Gygax's planned 2e mirror all the 5e marketing speak, as Frozen_Feet said: modular design, simplified chargen, compiling the "best of" material from before into one edition, all that kind of stuff is what Gygax was talking about in the late 80s. And given WotC's track record, it'd be interesting to see whether they or Gygax would have done a better take on it. I know who I'm betting on. :smallwink:

Ashdate
2012-10-22, 03:48 PM
Um, there's no picture in the ADnD 1E MM for the Nymph, and no text to explain the saves other than "unearthly beauty."

Well if looking at a nymph caused blindness or death, how would you know what one looked like to draw a picture of it?

(am I explaining the joke here?)

Excession
2012-10-22, 08:25 PM
This week's Legends & Lore (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20121022) column is up. This one talks about how they go about designing a class, using as examples a few details of the Bard, Druid, and Ranger classes.

It seems like companions, animal or otherwise, might end up as a module. For balance, and the ability to manage the complexity of the game, I think that sounds like a good idea.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-22, 08:50 PM
The question is, once you take away the (sucky) spells, the animal companion, and the tracking feature... you have a Fighter. How do you define the ranger outside these features?

noparlpf
2012-10-22, 08:55 PM
The question is, once you take away the (sucky) spells, the animal companion, and the tracking feature... you have a Fighter. How do you define the ranger outside these features?

Of those, only the tracking bit really screams "Ranger" to me, and it's not the primary aspect of a Ranger. In 3.X I usually swap out the companion and spells for ACFs.

tbok1992
2012-10-22, 08:59 PM
To be honest, my ideal ranger looks an awful lot more like John Rambo than Aragorn, but that's just what I think.

Nu
2012-10-22, 09:28 PM
The question is, once you take away the (sucky) spells, the animal companion, and the tracking feature... you have a Fighter. How do you define the ranger outside these features?

The 4th edition ranger didn't have those things, except arguably spells in the form of some of its utility powers.

Though moving archery specialization to the fighter and dual wielding specialization to specializations robs the ranger of what gave it an identity in 4th edition as well. So I am also rather curious as to how they intend to give the ranger a unique identity without any of the above.

I'm also slightly miffed about animal companions being moved to modules, as I seem to like them where a lot of people don't, which makes me feel like most Next games will probably have DMs that don't allow them, which means I'll rarely have the option of playing them. But that's sorta meta-speculation at that point so I probably shouldn't dwell on it too much.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-10-22, 10:48 PM
The question is, once you take away the (sucky) spells, the animal companion, and the tracking feature... you have a Fighter. How do you define the ranger outside these features?
I mean, you can't -- he's just a "Fighter with more Skills and no Expertise Dice" which is very meh unless you do a lot with Expertise.

Now, for me, I found the best version of the Ranger in 4e -- the Animal Companion Ranger. The idea of a man and animal fighting as a single unit really had legs (IMHO) as a Martial concept separate from the all-encompassing Fighter. "Tracking" simply isn't a strong enough trait to define a Class and it risks making the Ranger a One Trick Pony if that's all you can do.

Now admittedly, the 4e implementation of the Animal Companion Ranger was laughably awful but I can see a way to do that in 5e with just existing mechanics: grant the Ranger "Expertise" Dice which it can spend either to boost damage (if the Companion is adjacent to the target) or as a form of debuff: moving the opponent around, interfering with their attacks, maybe even knocking them down when they miss. It would be distinct from the Fighter both conceptually and tactically and the designers would need to spend very little brainpower to make it work.

Of course they won't do it, but hey you can dream no? :smalltongue:

navar100
2012-10-22, 10:53 PM
This week's Legends & Lore (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20121022) column is up. This one talks about how they go about designing a class, using as examples a few details of the Bard, Druid, and Ranger classes.

It seems like companions, animal or otherwise, might end up as a module. For balance, and the ability to manage the complexity of the game, I think that sounds like a good idea.

I like the concept of changing bard spells to a warlock invocation system. Details to be determined (i.e. have more music invocations known than the warlock does but not too much), but it makes the bard more interesting for me as wanting to actually play a bard for the first time ever. If the "songs" are useful enough comparable to the level you get them and a couple of low level ones at least are still useful at high level, this could be very cool.

tbok1992
2012-10-22, 11:36 PM
So, nobody agrees with me that the Ranger should be Fantasy Rambo? I mean, if you've seen the original movie, he pretty much screams "10th level ranger".

Craft (Cheese)
2012-10-23, 12:06 AM
So, nobody agrees with me that the Ranger should be Fantasy Rambo? I mean, if you've seen the original movie, he pretty much screams "10th level ranger".

Never seen Rambo, can't comment. Sorry. I always imagined Rambo as being more of a barbarian who uses guns instead of a greataxe while raging, but that opinion is mostly uninformed.

tbok1992
2012-10-23, 12:19 AM
Ah. In the original First Blood (which is the only one I've seen), he uses a lot of guile-based tactics, setting traps, using the environment of the woods to his advantage, survivalist stuff a lot like a ranger.

willpell
2012-10-23, 01:30 AM
Um, there's no picture in the ADnD 1E MM for the Nymph, and no text to explain the saves other than "unearthly beauty."

No picture, no, but the text is a bit more explicit...maybe it's the original D&D instead of Advanced. It looks like this (http://www.headinjurytheater.com/images/d&D%20beasts%20gary%20gyrax%2030%20years%20of%20mons ters.jpg).


Well if looking at a nymph caused blindness or death, how would you know what one looked like to draw a picture of it?

(am I explaining the joke here?)

The text explains that if you look at a nymph when she takes off her top, you must save vs. blindness, whereas if she takes off her bottom, you must save vs. death. Just an example of the mature and refined sophistication of wit that was to be found in this edition (also, I have heard, the one where some of the treasure tables included "woman chained to the wall", though that part I haven't personally confirmed - the MM in question, though, is the one pre-3E book I actually own, mostly for the art).

TheOOB
2012-10-23, 03:21 AM
Now admittedly, the 4e implementation of the Animal Companion Ranger was laughably awful but I can see a way to do that in 5e with just existing mechanics: grant the Ranger "Expertise" Dice which it can spend either to boost damage (if the Companion is adjacent to the target)

Nope, Expertise dice are confirmed to be the fighters unique mechanic. WotC R&D has mentioned they want to get Ranger away from the finesse fighter that you see in 3e and especially 4e, and go back to the idea that the ranger is something special in the world, part of an organization or a cause. I think we can expect a greater emphasis on their connection to nature and their hunting and tracking abilities, as well as a unique mechanic that makes them able warriors without just being them hitting faster, more accurately, or stronger.

For the none "big 4" classes, I think we'll see their roles in the world a bit more fleshed out, which is part of why there is more detail on the sorcerer bloodlines and warlock pacts that in a fighter fighting style. A paladin will be a holy warrior devoting to fighting evil everyone and bringing justice to the world, not just a fighter with a little bit of healing.

I'm more or less all for removing companions as base class traits. They are incredibly hard to balance, especially when the class has other things they need to be doing.(I also like the companion modules allowing for smaller parties). I would like to see a class based around a companion however(like the pathfinder summoner), one where the companion would be balanced because the companion is the primary focus of their abilities.

Excession
2012-10-23, 03:42 AM
Ah. In the original First Blood (which is the only one I've seen), he uses a lot of guile-based tactics, setting traps, using the environment of the woods to his advantage, survivalist stuff a lot like a ranger.

I see where you're coming from with this, and I think I agree. The first movie was the only good one too.


Now admittedly, the 4e implementation of the Animal Companion Ranger was laughably awful <snip>

What's funny is that despite how crappy the companion is, it's a straight win for an 4e archer ranger in particular to take the beast companion rather than archery style. You take an already powerful class and add a free flanker for distant advantage, mobile cover, a little more reason for creatures to avoid chasing the ranger down, and even a couple ways to use it as a cheap mount.

I can see room for a class that relies heavily on a companion, but you can't add one, even a weak one, to a class that's powerful enough on its own. Maybe the 4e Shaman is a better example. Designed from the ground up to have the spirit companion, and while it's pretty complex it's not OP.

Edit: I wonder if the 4e Essentials "Hunter" Ranger is closer to getting it right? Rather than being better at fighting than the fighter and also having skills, they're more about harrying and controlling their foes. Admittedly, the core 4e Ranger can do that just about as well while also doing more damage, but I think the niche might still exist.

Edit 2: I like the magic that the Essentials Hunter gets as well. I would want a small number of very useful, focused spells. Not a subset of what a cleric, druid or wizard gets either, give rangers at least some of their own stuff. I would prefer that the party Wizard is thinking (IC) "How did he do that? The energy cost alone...", not "Oh, I could cast that spell last level."

Nu
2012-10-23, 07:59 AM
What's funny is that despite how crappy the companion is, it's a straight win for an 4e archer ranger in particular to take the beast companion rather than archery style. You take an already powerful class and add a free flanker for distant advantage, mobile cover, a little more reason for creatures to avoid chasing the ranger down, and even a couple ways to use it as a cheap mount.

Well, aside from the fact that it locks you out of the rather beastly Battlefield Archer paragon path. Of course some may argue that the Sharpshooter paragon path makes up for it, if you combine it with the feat that makes enemies provoke opportunity attacks when they attack your beast companion.

As for the ranger itself in Next, I wonder exactly what they're going to do to make it mechanically distinct, and if they can do it without making it too niche. There's always a risk when you create a class based on a specific concept that it will be too situational. I wouldn't like to see the ranger end up being a cheap gimmick that's only useful for wilderness survival campaigns, not with the history the class has.

Clawhound
2012-10-23, 08:27 AM
To me, a ranger fit between the heaviness of a fighter and the lightness of a thief. In combat, rangers natural niche is ranged weapons, followed by tool-like weapons, such as axes or skinning knives. They rarely use shields. In contrast, fighters are heavier, often use shields, use the heaviest weapons that are available, and specialize in toe-to-toe combat.

Especially out of combat, a ranger is very different from a fighter. Where a fighter is a soldier or a warrior, a ranger is an expert in wilderness survival, a guide, and a hunter.

Rangers are different from rogues. Where rangers prefer the outdoors and solitary, rogues are creatures of civilization. They prefer the edgier side of interaction. Misdirection is one of their most powerful weapons. They can fight, but fighting for them is suboptimal. There are usually better ways for them to accomplish their goals.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-23, 01:07 PM
WotC R&D has mentioned they want to get Ranger away from the finesse fighter that you see in 3e and especially 4e, and go back to the idea that the ranger is something special in the world, part of an organization or a cause. I think we can expect a greater emphasis on their connection to nature and their hunting and tracking abilities, as well as a unique mechanic that makes them able warriors without just being them hitting faster, more accurately, or stronger.


As for the ranger itself in Next, I wonder exactly what they're going to do to make it mechanically distinct, and if they can do it without making it too niche. There's always a risk when you create a class based on a specific concept that it will be too situational. I wouldn't like to see the ranger end up being a cheap gimmick that's only useful for wilderness survival campaigns, not with the history the class has.

The ranger's niche in AD&D wasn't archer, TWFer, beastmaster, or finesse fighter, it was the ambusher and monster slayer. They surprised enemies more often than normal and were surprised much less often than normal, which given the way AD&D initiative worked was always a good thing. They were excellent monster hunters, as they added their level in damage against all "giant-class" monsters (basically any Humanoid, Monstrous Humanoid, and Giant, in 3e terms), gained two HD at level 1, and got full HD and the full Con bonus to HP up through 11th level rather than 9th, making them both heavy hitters and very durable themselves. They also got 3rd-level druid spells, 2nd-level magic user spells, and the ability to use certain special magic items, but while those gave rangers some help in tracking people and sneaking in the wilderness, they didn't really change the ranger's identity much.

So that could be the ranger's niche again for 5e, possibly. They would be the ones who specialize in countering monster abilities: they can detect and track flying/invisible/disguised monsters, hide from darkvision and scent, surprise even ambusher monsters, identify monster weak points, and so forth. Mage slayer is to wizard as ranger is to monsters, essentially. With their consistent higher damage against monsters (as opposed to a fighter's multi-use CS dice, a paladin's situational smite, etc.) they'd be good at hacking through groups of monsters Aragorn-style, and with their emphasis on monster knowledge and tactics they'd provide another option for the "smart fighter" archetype besides the warlord/marshal for those who don't want to be buffers.

Nu
2012-10-23, 03:27 PM
The ranger's niche in AD&D wasn't archer, TWFer, beastmaster, or finesse fighter, it was the ambusher and monster slayer. They surprised enemies more often than normal and were surprised much less often than normal, which given the way AD&D initiative worked was always a good thing. They were excellent monster hunters, as they added their level in damage against all "giant-class" monsters (basically any Humanoid, Monstrous Humanoid, and Giant, in 3e terms), gained two HD at level 1, and got full HD and the full Con bonus to HP up through 11th level rather than 9th, making them both heavy hitters and very durable themselves. They also got 3rd-level druid spells, 2nd-level magic user spells, and the ability to use certain special magic items, but while those gave rangers some help in tracking people and sneaking in the wilderness, they didn't really change the ranger's identity much.

So that could be the ranger's niche again for 5e, possibly. They would be the ones who specialize in countering monster abilities: they can detect and track flying/invisible/disguised monsters, hide from darkvision and scent, surprise even ambusher monsters, identify monster weak points, and so forth. Mage slayer is to wizard as ranger is to monsters, essentially. With their consistent higher damage against monsters (as opposed to a fighter's multi-use CS dice, a paladin's situational smite, etc.) they'd be good at hacking through groups of monsters Aragorn-style, and with their emphasis on monster knowledge and tactics they'd provide another option for the "smart fighter" archetype besides the warlord/marshal for those who don't want to be buffers.

I feel that the AD&D original ranger would not be a familiar archetype for much of the game's current market, they remember the 3rd edition ranger or the 4th edition ranger. In any case, the ranger you describe is far too situational for me, as surprising monsters depends entirely on the type of campaign the DM wants to run and how well it mashes up with the tactics of your party--and the monster hunter aspect has always been a weak link of the class (favored enemy to be specific). "Identify weak points" is just precision damage, which is sneak attack.

In any case, the class outlined above does not sound like a desirable archetype for the ranger to fill for me. I'd like something more mechanically flexible, even if it has a fixed identity in the world.

obryn
2012-10-23, 03:31 PM
I'd be all for retconning Drizzt out of existence. Failing that, however, I think we'll be stuck with two-weapon rangers in the future. :smallsmile:

-O

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-23, 04:19 PM
In any case, the ranger you describe is far too situational for me, as surprising monsters depends entirely on the type of campaign the DM wants to run and how well it mashes up with the tactics of your party--and the monster hunter aspect has always been a weak link of the class (favored enemy to be specific). "Identify weak points" is just precision damage, which is sneak attack.

1) "Being good at surprising things" basically boils down to initiative bonuses and some sort of perk in the surprise round, which I can't see ever being a bad thing. If you're never surprising things and never winning initiative, the rogue is going to be just as hosed as this ranger.

2) The monster hunter aspect hasn't been a weak theme at all. Favored enemy was, yes, but that's because your major signature class feature amounting to +10 to attack and skills with one out of several dozen subtypes at level 20 is underwhelming by any standard. I'm not talking just bland numerical bonuses (though some Knowledge-based numerical bonuses would be good too), I'm talking things like Nemesis, Darkstalker, Hearing the Air, and similar from 3e, actual new abilities that make you good at finding, countering, and slaying monsters with weird capabilities.

3) Precision damage isn't just sneak attack; in 3e alone there were three variations on the Xd6 version of precision damage (sneak attack, sudden strike, and skirmish), and Hunter's Quarry in 4e and Knowledge Devotion in 3e are other popular takes on it.


I feel that the AD&D original ranger would not be a familiar archetype for much of the game's current market, they remember the 3rd edition ranger or the 4th edition ranger.
[...]
In any case, the class outlined above does not sound like a desirable archetype for the ranger to fill for me. I'd like something more mechanically flexible, even if it has a fixed identity in the world.

I'd be all for retconning Drizzt out of existence. Failing that, however, I think we'll be stuck with two-weapon rangers in the future. :smallsmile:

-O

I don't see how it's any less flexible than the AD&D ranger (basically what I've outlined but with spells instead of special abilities), the 3e ranger (a TWFer or archer with an animal companion and some archery/wilderness spells), or the 4e ranger (a TWFer or archer possibly with an animal companion and no spells). They've already said that specific weapon styles will be Fighter fighting styles or specialties and companions and followers will be a module, so a Drizzt-clone ranger isn't what they're going for and without those abilities the only things from the ranger that are left are the monster slaying and limited spellcasting.

Also, getting abilities that are good against monsters doesn't mean you can only use them against monsters. An ability to detect invisible creatures works on wizards too; an ability to deal more damage to creatures bigger than you lets a halfling ranger deal more damage to humans as well; hiding from scent and other special senses lets you sneak past guards with dogs just as well as bulettes. The theme informs and groups the ranger's class abilities but doesn't limit them, just as a paladin class isn't just Smite Evil with legs but also good defenses, healing, social skills, a special mount, etc.

huttj509
2012-10-23, 06:20 PM
I'd be all for retconning Drizzt out of existence. Failing that, however, I think we'll be stuck with two-weapon rangers in the future. :smallsmile:

-O

One weapon rangers.

...But 2 weapon Drow.

Just like in ye olde days (Drizzt could use 2 weapons because he was a Drow, not because he was a ranger).

Nu
2012-10-23, 08:37 PM
1) "Being good at surprising things" basically boils down to initiative bonuses and some sort of perk in the surprise round, which I can't see ever being a bad thing. If you're never surprising things and never winning initiative, the rogue is going to be just as hosed as this ranger.

2) The monster hunter aspect hasn't been a weak theme at all. Favored enemy was, yes, but that's because your major signature class feature amounting to +10 to attack and skills with one out of several dozen subtypes at level 20 is underwhelming by any standard. I'm not talking just bland numerical bonuses (though some Knowledge-based numerical bonuses would be good too), I'm talking things like Nemesis, Darkstalker, Hearing the Air, and similar from 3e, actual new abilities that make you good at finding, countering, and slaying monsters with weird capabilities.

3) Precision damage isn't just sneak attack; in 3e alone there were three variations on the Xd6 version of precision damage (sneak attack, sudden strike, and skirmish), and Hunter's Quarry in 4e and Knowledge Devotion in 3e are other popular takes on it.

1) I can get down with that, but it seems like it wouldn't be all that desirable on its own in a DnD Next setting. On the other hand, ways to boost initiative in the system are few currently...

2) I'm not that familiar with most of those so I can't comment, if they can make it work and not be needlessly harsh on the ranger when their favorite prey isn't around though then I can be fine with it. I don't really like the concept of a "favored enemy" at all though, and not just because it's a flat numerical bonus, I don't like having to pick one particular type of monster to be good at killing. I think that kind of thing would be better as a specialty.

3) Wasn't sudden strike basically a weaker sneak attack? Skirmish attack was okay-ish if I remember right. Though in 4E, hunter's quarry was considered a weak-ish feature for the ranger, their true potential for damage dealing was unlocked via Twin Strike and their ability to attack several times per round with static damage mods. I don't have a particular problem with those features but past implementations have been kinda weak for one reason or another (3.5 mostly had the problem of not working on non-living creatures). If they learn from those lessons and make them stronger though I'd be cool with it. I'm just not altogether certain we're not just playing a rogue by another name though.

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-23, 10:23 PM
1) I can get down with that, but it seems like it wouldn't be all that desirable on its own in a DnD Next setting. On the other hand, ways to boost initiative in the system are few currently...

That's what I was thinking; boosting initiative isn't really a thing in 5e yet, so something that boosts it is actually very useful.


2) I'm not that familiar with most of those so I can't comment, if they can make it work and not be needlessly harsh on the ranger when their favorite prey isn't around though then I can be fine with it. I don't really like the concept of a "favored enemy" at all though, and not just because it's a flat numerical bonus, I don't like having to pick one particular type of monster to be good at killing. I think that kind of thing would be better as a specialty.

Again, I'm not talking about picking one enemy type, I'm talking about being good at killing "monsters"--you don't get bonuses against certain kinds of monsters, you get abilities that would be good against a general kind of monster ability. The different ranger paths would likely be themed around hunting certain creatures, but the abilities would be general purpose--a "dragon slayer" ranger would get Evasion-type benefits and ways to take down flying enemies, for instance, not just +X vs. dragons.

For instance, the examples I used: Nemesis lets you sense your favored enemy within a certain distance, which could be generalized into a "spider sense" for unnatural monsters like undead and aberrations. Darkstalker lets you hide from blindsight, tremorsense, scent, and similar special senses, which is good against 80+% of the Monster Manual. Hearing the Air is essentially the "close your eyes and fight an unseen foe through hearing alone" thing that warriors do in movies, which is good against everything from invisible stalkers and pixies to darkmantles and demons. Knowledge Devotion lets you make a Knowledge check appropriate to a creature to get a scaling attack and damage bonus against them, which works against everything you've invested ranks in knowing about.

Some example ranger paths: Dragon Slayer (evasion, energy resistance, take down flyers), Giant Bane (punch through natural armor, improve reach, dodge projectiles), Night Stalker (see in the dark, move through terrain unimpeded, hide from special senses), Undead Hunter (track and reveal hidden and disguised creatures, hit insubstantial/incorporeal things and avoid grapples, resist status effects and mind-control), Wave Rider (hold your breath a long time and act normally underwater, resist extremes of temperature and pressure, navigate on and under water by observing currents), and stuff like that.

I don't know what the ranger's general-purpose class feature along the lines of CS or sorcerous bloodline would be, but I'm sure I could think of something given time.


3) Wasn't sudden strike basically a weaker sneak attack? Skirmish attack was okay-ish if I remember right. Though in 4E, hunter's quarry was considered a weak-ish feature for the ranger, their true potential for damage dealing was unlocked via Twin Strike and their ability to attack several times per round with static damage mods. I don't have a particular problem with those features but past implementations have been kinda weak for one reason or another (3.5 mostly had the problem of not working on non-living creatures). If they learn from those lessons and make them stronger though I'd be cool with it. I'm just not altogether certain we're not just playing a rogue by another name though.

I didn't say they were particularly good versions of precision damage (skirmish and quarry don't do enough damage, sudden strike is strictly weaker than sneak attack), the point was to show that your comment that precision damage = sneak attack doesn't hold. And even though they were weaker, they fulfilled different niches for different styles (skirmish made mobile builds work better, Knowledge Devotion worked with crit-fishers). They definitely give a different experience from the rogue even if at the end of the day you're just adding extra damage in certain situations.

TheOOB
2012-10-24, 12:56 AM
I like the idea of instead of getting favored enemy bonuses(conditional die roll bonuses are kind of annoying as a central class mechanic) you got special combat techniques focused around taking down certain types of monsters. Think of an attack that removes a creatures fly speed, or stops regeneration, or a technique that allows you to resist or reflect energy drain. How badass would it be for a ranger to shatter a monsters energy resistances so the wizard could fry them, or turn a large creatures grapple bonus into a penalty?

PairO'Dice Lost
2012-10-24, 01:18 AM
I like the idea of instead of getting favored enemy bonuses(conditional die roll bonuses are kind of annoying as a central class mechanic) you got special combat techniques focused around taking down certain types of monsters. Think of an attack that removes a creatures fly speed, or stops regeneration, or a technique that allows you to resist or reflect energy drain. How badass would it be for a ranger to shatter a monsters energy resistances so the wizard could fry them, or turn a large creatures grapple bonus into a penalty?

See? This guy gets it. :smallbiggrin:

willpell
2012-10-24, 01:49 AM
Where rangers prefer the outdoors and solitary, rogues are creatures of civilization.

Unearthed Arcana appears to disagree, offering the Wilderness Rogue and the Urban Ranger.


So that could be the ranger's niche again for 5e, possibly. They would be the ones who specialize in countering monster abilities: they can detect and track flying/invisible/disguised monsters, hide from darkvision and scent, surprise even ambusher monsters, identify monster weak points, and so forth. Mage slayer is to wizard as ranger is to monsters, essentially.

I full endorse this, since I always considered Favored Enemy to be the ranger's most defining feature.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-24, 06:13 AM
I strongly approve of a ranger that is more effective against one particular creature type. After all, it is generally a given that clerics are more effective against undead, that's the same principle.

It's good for characters to have strong points and weak points; it makes the game more variable and less monotonous. I don't want every character to do the same sequence of things in almost every fight.

noparlpf
2012-10-24, 07:44 AM
I like the idea of instead of getting favored enemy bonuses(conditional die roll bonuses are kind of annoying as a central class mechanic) you got special combat techniques focused around taking down certain types of monsters. Think of an attack that removes a creatures fly speed, or stops regeneration, or a technique that allows you to resist or reflect energy drain. How badass would it be for a ranger to shatter a monsters energy resistances so the wizard could fry them, or turn a large creatures grapple bonus into a penalty?

Great ideas, but only getting one niche ability per level is still kind of a drag. How often do you run into a flying enemy?

Oracle_Hunter
2012-10-24, 07:57 AM
I strongly approve of a ranger that is more effective against one particular creature type. After all, it is generally a given that clerics are more effective against undead, that's the same principle.
There is a reason why the cleric has been more than a "strong vs. undead" class since 3e of course: it's annoying for the DM to cater adventure design to a particular suite of classes.

Now, I'm not saying that DMs shouldn't tweak the adventures to reflect the classes used by the party but it can be a bit constraining to include one design element in every single adventure merely to allow a Character to feel more than a weak Fighter. This is why Turn Substitutions were so popular in 3e -- it can be monotonous for every adventure to include Undead and when there are no Undead the Cleric feels like he's wasting a resource.

If you want to have the Ranger be a "Special Hunter" then you don't want to tie their whole shtick to a single Race or even a single anti-ability build: you'll want to give them a general "neutralize one special property" ability and permit builds which expand on that general idea without leaving the Ranger tied to only fighting, say, flying regenerating undead.

noparlpf
2012-10-24, 08:19 AM
There is a reason why the cleric has been more than a "strong vs. undead" class since 3e of course: it's annoying for the DM to cater adventure design to a particular suite of classes.

Now, I'm not saying that DMs shouldn't tweak the adventures to reflect the classes used by the party but it can be a bit constraining to include one design element in every single adventure merely to allow a Character to feel more than a weak Fighter. This is why Turn Substitutions were so popular in 3e -- it can be monotonous for every adventure to include Undead and when there are no Undead the Cleric feels like he's wasting a resource.

If you want to have the Ranger be a "Special Hunter" then you don't want to tie their whole shtick to a single Race or even a single anti-ability build: you'll want to give them a general "neutralize one special property" ability and permit builds which expand on that general idea without leaving the Ranger tied to only fighting, say, flying regenerating undead.

Well, it does make sense from an in-game perspective to only go on adventures where you'd be useful. On the other hand, life does throw lots of curveballs, especially when you're saving the world or whatever.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-10-24, 08:31 AM
Well, it does make sense from an in-game perspective to only go on adventures where you'd be useful. On the other hand, life does throw lots of curveballs, especially when you're saving the world or whatever.
Which is why it's important to remember this is a game, not a life-simulator :smallannoyed:

It also makes sense in-game that your adventurers may get laid up from food poisoning for a week but that rarely happens because it doesn't add anything fun to the game outside of a few narrow dramatic possibilities. Likewise it isn't fun being a 3e Rogue in a Undead-filled dungeon unless you happened to have the one feat from the one splatbook that permitted your class to function as normal versus this creature type.

This is not to say that every character should fight the same way versus every enemy, but characters should not have their permanent choices (e.g. Favored Enemy) nullified for hours of gameplay due to poor game design nor should DMs be locked into running particular games simply because someone wants to play a poorly-designed class. Better to have well-designed classes from the outset and that means not repeating the mistakes of the past!

Ashdate
2012-10-24, 10:01 AM
What might be interesting is to have the Ranger's "favoured enemy" be somewhat fluid; perhaps they can borrow a page from the 4e Avenger and mush it together with the idea of the 3.5e Ranger.

Allow the ranger [to spend a standard action]/[upon killing an enemy] to "store" the information about a particular creature type, gaining bonuses to fight that particular type of creature until it's swapped for something else. This represents the Ranger "studying" his opponent, and represents then the rationale for skill/combat bonuses.

TheOOB
2012-10-24, 10:33 AM
Great ideas, but only getting one niche ability per level is still kind of a drag. How often do you run into a flying enemy?

They could be arranged in packages. Maybe every 2-5 levels they pick a favored enemy, who gives them a suite of monster hunting abilities, or maybe in addition to getting monster hunter tactics, they still game some combat tricks stealth/tracking abilities, and nature powers.

Doug Lampert
2012-10-24, 11:27 AM
One weapon rangers.

...But 2 weapon Drow.

Just like in ye olde days (Drizzt could use 2 weapons because he was a Drow, not because he was a ranger).

Yep. See THIS (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0536.html) comic. Which references Female Dark Elf Cavaliers wielding two lances from the back of a unicorn precisely BECAUSE the 2WF was a drow characteristic so that was a legal build.

Remember, the race was completely unballanced in all the best ways (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0862.html).

Nu
2012-10-24, 12:12 PM
I'm still very much against the ranger having to pick a certain kind of enemy to be good against, however, the implementation may be. If anything, what I'd rather them do is have rangers set a quarry during combat, which may give them different bonuses against the type of enemy they face--but have all of the options available without having to specialize in hunting a particular kind of enemy. So no picking humanoids at level 1, undead at level 3, etc.. Just you set your quarry during combat and get a bonus against that enemy and other enemies of the same type, but possibly have it vary depending on what kind of quarry you set.

It's kind of complicated, but so are a lot of these proposals I think.

Kurald Galain
2012-10-24, 12:19 PM
what I'd rather them do is have rangers set a quarry during combat, which may give them different bonuses against the type of enemy they face

But that just means that rangers always get their bonus regardless of anything. That's what the fighter is for.

It's really okay if the edition contain a class that you, personally, don't want to play; not everybody has the same playstyle, after all. I'm sure some people would enjoy a class that is particularly effective against one kind of enemy, and less effective than the fighter against others.

noparlpf
2012-10-24, 12:22 PM
What if the Ranger picked up abilities by defeating different monsters over their career? And then some of those abilities might carry over to other monster types, or apply to a certain ability regardless of what uses that ability in the future. That way individual characters would be different, they'd feel more organic, and they're not limited to only a couple of choices. It would be kind of like how the Wizard searches out new spells.

Nu
2012-10-24, 12:39 PM
But that just means that rangers always get their bonus regardless of anything. That's what the fighter is for.

It's really okay if the edition contain a class that you, personally, don't want to play; not everybody has the same playstyle, after all. I'm sure some people would enjoy a class that is particularly effective against one kind of enemy, and less effective than the fighter against others.

I don't see a reason to make a class that's good against a particular kind of enemy, and have it run alongside a class that's good against any kind of enemy. There's very little reason to pick the former unless you're okay with gimping yourself. I don't want a system with built-in newbie traps.


What if the Ranger picked up abilities by defeating different monsters over their career? And then some of those abilities might carry over to other monster types, or apply to a certain ability regardless of what uses that ability in the future. That way individual characters would be different, they'd feel more organic, and they're not limited to only a couple of choices. It would be kind of like how the Wizard searches out new spells.

Interesting, but too campaign-dependent for my tastes. How do you handle characters that don't begin at level 1, assume they've already killed X types of monsters?

Kurald Galain
2012-10-24, 12:45 PM
I don't see a reason to make a class that's good against a particular kind of enemy, and have it run alongside a class that's good against any kind of enemy. There's very little reason to pick the former unless you're okay with gimping yourself. I don't want a system with built-in newbie traps.
The point is that the former is better against those kinds of enemies. Of course it has to be a broad class, not just "beholders" or something similarly rare.

And, "less effective" doesn't mean "ineffective". Most classes are going to be less effective in the hands of a beginner, that's what "beginner" means.

noparlpf
2012-10-24, 12:47 PM
Interesting, but too campaign-dependent for my tastes. How do you handle characters that don't begin at level 1, assume they've already killed X types of monsters?

Well, for one, the books assume you start at level 1. But yes, you'd assume encounters with some number of monsters. It would be pretty simple math. You know how much XP it takes to level, you know how much XP a level-appropriate encounter gives, you know that most adventures have three to six encounters. So you can figure out how many adventures it takes for each level, and assume one adventure involves between one and six different types of monsters, tops.
Edit: Starting with something at level 1 would be good, so maybe something basic like some kinds of animals, vermin, or maybe goblins or kobolds, would be good.
Though, I don't like how in 3.X the Favored Enemy types were split up. You have "animals" as anything from a weasel to a bear to a T-Rex to an octopus, and then split up "humanoids" even though humans and dwarves have very similar physiology, abilities, and fighting styles? Seems to me like "animals" should be broken up into smaller groups, like "quadrupedal hunters", "reptiles", "aquatic", stuff like that just off the top of my head.

Oracle_Hunter
2012-10-24, 12:50 PM
The point is that the former is better against those kinds of enemies. Of course it has to be a broad class, not just "beholders" or something similarly rare.

And, "less effective" doesn't mean "ineffective". Most classes are going to be less effective in the hands of a beginner, that's what "beginner" means.
I still say making permanent investments for non-permanent bonuses is bad design. Having a "sometimes awesome" class makes as much sense as depriving a Wizard of his spellbook or a Fighter of his weapons: it removes their iconic trait and leaves the Player with what exactly?

If you want to make "sometimes awesome" a feature of a class you can't let it be its defining trait too since it will be, by definition, irrelevant for some portion of every campaign (if not every session). By all means grant Rangers their "Monster Hunter" abilities as a Specialty or something similar but that still leaves the question of "what is the defining schtick of the Ranger" unanswered.