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Matthew
2008-09-11, 01:48 PM
To prevent further derailment of Marshall's My Experiences with 4e (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4899312) thread, I thought I would start a new one. Basically, we're talking about how each edition handles actions not covered by the rules.

4e DMG, p. 42.



Actions the Rules Don't Cover

Example: Shiera the 8th-level rogue wants to try the classic swashbuckling move of swinging on a chandelier and kicking an ogre in the chest on her way down to the ground, hoping to push the ogre into the brazier of burning coals behind it. An Acrobatics check seems reasonable.

This sort of action is exactly the kind of thinking you want to encourage, so you pick an easy DC: The table says DC 15, but it’s a skill check, so make it DC 20. If she makes that check, she gets a hold on the chandelier and swings to the ogre.

Then comes the kicking. She’s more interested in the push than in dealing any damage with the kick itself, so have her make a Strength attack against the ogre’s Fortitude. If she pulls it off, let her push the ogre 1 square and into the brazier, and find an appropriate damage number.

Use a normal damage expression from the table, because once the characters see this trick work they’ll try anything they can to keep pushing the ogres into the brazier. You can safely use the high value, though— 2d8 + 5 fire damage. If Shiera had used a 7th-level encounter power and Sneak Attack, she might have dealt 4d6 (plus her Dexterity modifier), so you’re not giving away too much with this damage.


3e DMG, p. 25.



Adjudicating Actions Not Covered

While the combat actions defined in the Player ’s Handbook are numerous and fairly comprehensive, they cannot begin to cover every possible action that a character might want to take. Your job is to make up rules on the spot to handle such things. In general, use the rules for combat actions as guidelines, and apply ability checks, skill checks, and (rarely) saving throws when they are appropriate.

Example: A monk wants to jump up, grab a chandelier, and swing on it into an enemy. You rule that a DC 13 Dexterity check allows the monk to grab the chandelier and swing. The player asks if the monk can use his Tumble skill, and you let him. Ruling that the swing is somewhat like a charge, you give the monk a +2 bonus on the roll to see if his dramatic swinging attack succeeds.


2e First Quest, p. 10.



Dungeon Master Rules



DMs decide what happens. If necessary they just make it up.
DMs decide what percent chance an action not covered in the rules has of working. If a Dungeon Master's d100 roll is less than or equal to that number, the action worked.
DMs are always allowed to decide that a character's action automatically does or does not work. DMs are always allowed to change a die roll if they think there is a good reason.
Dungeon Masters should always be fair.


Example One: There are no rules for climbing out of windows. However, this is such a simple action the DM might decide it works automatically.


1e DMG, p. 110.



Rolling the Dice and Control of the Game

There will be times in which the rules do not cover a specific action that a player will attempt. In such situations, instead of being forced to make a decision, take the option to allow the dice to control the situation. This can be done by assigning reasonable probability to an event and then letting the player dice to see if he or she can make that percentage. You can weigh the dice in any way so as to give the advantage to either the player or the non-player character, whichever seems more correct and logical to you while being fair to both sides.

AKA_Bait
2008-09-11, 01:50 PM
Things did seem to get more complicated as each edition rolled by didn't they?

Matthew
2008-09-11, 01:52 PM
No doubt. :smallbiggrin:

Tormsskull
2008-09-11, 01:54 PM
You can weigh the dice in any way so as to give the advantage to either the player or the non-player character, whichever seems more correct and logical to you while being fair to both sides.

This makes the most sense to me, as it allows the DM to adapt to whatever playstyle the group wants. Want it to be a real gritty game where high-flying acrobatics are virtually nonexistant. No problem, make these (and related checks) very difficult.

Want a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon type game? No problem, let players describe that gravity-defying move they are pulling off and give them a good chance at success.

kamikasei
2008-09-11, 01:59 PM
There just seems to be an increase in guidelines and examples provided, not really complexity.

1e: come up with a probability that makes sense and is reasonable.

3e: same, with some example numbers and a mention that you may wish to reuse rules for certain events to cover distinct but conceptually similar ones.

4e: same again, but stepping through the idea of calibrating the outcome of successes to what other abilities would let the player achieve at the same level.

Adumbration
2008-09-11, 02:03 PM
There just seems to be an increase in guidelines and examples provided, not really complexity.

1e: come up with a probability that makes sense and is reasonable.

3e: same, with some example numbers and a mention that you may wish to reuse rules for certain events to cover distinct but conceptually similar ones.

4e: same again, but stepping through the idea of calibrating the outcome of successes to what other abilities would let the player achieve at the same level.
Except that in 4e you actually have to look it all up in tables, instead of making it up on the spot.

Jayabalard
2008-09-11, 02:04 PM
There just seems to be an increase in guidelines and examples provided, not really complexity.

1e: come up with a probability that makes sense and is reasonable.

3e: same, with some example numbers and a mention that you may wish to reuse rules for certain events to cover distinct but conceptually similar ones.

4e: same again, but stepping through the idea of calibrating the outcome of successes to what other abilities would let the player achieve at the same level.The language in the 1e block is much looser; it's describing an alternate way of handling it instead of just adjudicating it on the spot. The 3e and 4e text seem to saying "this is how you do it" in a much more concrete fashion. There's also a higher focus on consistency on 3e block and even more so in the 4e block.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 02:20 PM
Gosh, Matthew, you are a thread-spawning machine :smalltongue:

Anyhow, I'll give my brief spiel on why 4e Actions The Rules Don't Cover (ATRDC) is superior:

No matter what system you use, you're going to run into times when the players want to do something that seems reasonable but isn't explicitly detailed in the rules. Well, except for pure Narrative games and other Rules Light systems, but we're talking D&D here.

In all these situations, the players don't care what the rules say - they know what they're doing isn't in the rules - so these ATRDC approaches are only useful to the DM.

With that said, it is easier for a DM to keep actions in line with the rest of the game system if the ATRDC gives a simple, non-arbitrary framework for the DM to adjudicate.

In 1e, the ATRDC is at its most arbitrary; the DM picks a number out of the air and asks for the player to roll. Any differences in character skill will be weighed arbitrarily by the DM and used as a modifier. Whatever the DM chooses has no real relation to the other rules available in 1e (like THAC0 or Saving Throws) and, to hear Nagora say it, are often the better choice than actually playing the game as described in the book. This can, ultimately, raise the question of why you are playing a system where you just make everything up on your own - but more immediately, it can result in wildly out-of-balance effects. Once the party Thief discovers that carrying a bag of sand around to throw in people's eyes is always better than stabbing with a dagger because of a DM ruling, why would he ever use his dagger?

In 3e, the ATRDC tries to speak within the framework of the rules, using skill checks and such. However, it had no table of appropriate DCs, nor tables of appropriate damage, so we have the same problems we see in 1e: if the DM accidentally rules some maneuver to be far better/easier than actually using the 3e rules, then that's just what the PCs will use. The problem in 3e is not that bad if for no other reason than there is very little which is not covered by some aspect of the rules, somewhere (I guess throwing sand again).

In 4e, the ATRDC not only speaks within the framework of the rules, but it provides appropriate DCs and damage for every level, and it refers to them using natural language description like "easy" "medium" and "hard" and "low damage" "moderate damage" and "high damage." Thus, a quick reference to DMG 42 is enough to quickly resolve any improvised actions without the need for any ad hoc number generation.

Now, it should be noted that I do not think that ATRDCs should answer the questions for the DM without any DM input. Instead, I prefer for a rules system to provide the necessary system variables to help me translate my concepts of an action (swinging on a chandelier is "medium" difficulty, and a boot to the face can be "moderate damage"). I am not privy to all of the number crunching that goes into making a system, and I'd prefer not to pull such numbers out of thin air.

Summary
- An ATRDC should help the DM to convert player input into rules-sensible results. DMs are not privy to the numbers that go into making a game system, and they should not make up such significant numbers if they can avoid it.

- If a DM miscalculates the system numbers, he may produce a new action that invalidates the very purpose of the rules system you are using (e.g. if a Rogue is more effective using an ATRDC sand-throwing attack than using a dagger, why would he ever use the dagger?). If you are not using the rules included in the game, why are you playing that system at all?

nagora
2008-09-11, 02:24 PM
The thing is that a lot of the time, the extra steps in 3e+ are strangely counter-productive. If a character wants to, say, run up a fallen roof beam and jump over the wall into the river, I may think to myself "oh, maybe 30% chance given the smoke, the burning oil on the beam and the fact that they have a Dex of 8". The player then rolls d% and we see what happens.

If I want to translate that into "official" 3e/4e speak, I have to try to work out what DC gives the desired chance for that character. What's the point of that extra calcuation? As the DM, if I have an idea of the difficulty I can go straight to the percentage; and if I don't then I can't pick a DC instead because I've not decided on the difficulty!

I've tinkered with many methods of standardising the difficulty of tasks in D&D and other games and it always runs into this problem that the process of judging the difficulty is enough for me to pick a percentage chance and forget any other "clever" or "eligant" transformations into penalties, bonuses, extra dice or whatever and just get on with playing the game.

This effect is compounded by the totally weird spacing of DCs which give people far too big a range between auto-fail and auto-succeed, which ultimately can be traced back to the original design of the skill system in 1e OA which used a d20 for no good reason. The original designer seems to have thought that using the same die for skills and combat was in some way intuative without considering the effects.

In combat, rolls are iterative and one lucky roll will probably be balanced (unless you use crappy critical rules) by a later poor roll. But skill rolls like the one's we're talking about are usually all-or-nothing and the effect of that big spread is to totally disrupt the players and DM's ideas about what is and isn't likely.

What would be intuative, would be for a character with, say 5 levels in acrobatics to have the same chance to outperform a character with 1 level in acrobatics as a 5th level fighter has of beating a 1st level fighter.

But here we start to see another design issue that 4e is going to have to face: skill challenges that use skills multiple times are more like combat and the luck does have a chance to even out. This means that level 5 is acrobatics may (I've not played it, but I'm basing this on my experience of d20) in fact not mean the same level of ability in different situations as others.

For example: a single roll of d20+5 has a 25% chance of rolling 20 or more. The chance of rolling 24 or more twice duing a skill challenge is only 6%, and three times is 1.5%. So, the same skill can go from "perfectly decent chance" to "you'd have to be desparate" depending on how the DM applies it. I think this could cause trouble if it wasn't for the fact that I think skill challenges will simply die away and become a forgotten experiment.

Yakk
2008-09-11, 03:04 PM
The thing is that a lot of the time, the extra steps in 3e+ are strangely counter-productive. If a character wants to, say, run up a fallen roof beam and jump over the wall into the river, I may think to myself "oh, maybe 30% chance given the smoke, the burning oil on the beam and the fact that they have a Dex of 8". The player then rolls d% and we see what happens.

If I want to translate that into "official" 3e/4e speak, I have to try to work out what DC gives the desired chance for that character. What's the point of that extra calcuation? As the DM, if I have an idea of the difficulty I can go straight to the percentage; and if I don't then I can't pick a DC instead because I've not decided on the difficulty!

So, how about the character next to him, who is a bit clumsier? Or the character who is a lot clumsier? If they try the same thing, what is there chance?

Meanwhile, when you make that decision, are you deciding "the player's action should be discouraged" or "the player's action should be encouraged"? Are you aware at which point the action becomes "way better than anything else the player could do" or "that was a pure waste"?

Do you see any utility in, say, having a table what kind of results would often be "worth it", damage and success-chance wise?

When a player rolls a d20, does it matter much to you how large of a modifier they have on that d20, or rather "you rolled low, so that's a bad result -- you rolled high, a good result"?


What would be intuative, would be for a character with, say 5 levels in acrobatics to have the same chance to outperform a character with 1 level in acrobatics as a 5th level fighter has of beating a 1st level fighter.

But here we start to see another design issue that 4e is going to have to face: skill challenges that use skills multiple times are more like combat and the luck does have a chance to even out. This means that level 5 is acrobatics may (I've not played it, but I'm basing this on my experience of d20) in fact not mean the same level of ability in different situations as others.

For example: a single roll of d20+5 has a 25% chance of rolling 20 or more. The chance of rolling 24 or more twice duing a skill challenge is only 6%, and three times is 1.5%. So, the same skill can go from "perfectly decent chance" to "you'd have to be desparate" depending on how the DM applies it. I think this could cause trouble if it wasn't for the fact that I think skill challenges will simply die away and become a forgotten experiment.

You do know that skill challenges flatten the math?

Suppose you have a task you have an Y% chance at.

Now suppose you have to make K successes before K failures. What is your chance of success?

As the number K increases, the impact of each +5% chance away from 50% grows.

If you then add in non-game-ending negative consequences to failure, and you have just generated a system that is somewhat like combat -- each attack roll has a negative consequence on failure, but you do enough that in the end the dice rolls average out.

...

Remember, DMs are imperfect.

It is easy to fall into the trap of "roll a d20 -- oh, you rolled a 2, that's low, you screwed up", "but, my character is a grand-master acrobat trained from birth with a +20 to balance -- and bob over there is a clumsy barbarian with a -2 to balance. Why did he succeed on a 17?" style problems.

You can easily run into the "I run up the golem and stab it in the eye" -- DM says "ok, it makes an OA, you have a 1/5 chance of making it up the golem, and then you do normal damage."

Or the "I throw sand in it's eye", and "the enemy is blinded, and you can kill it in one blow!" problem.

In each, the DM made a mistake -- not taking character concept differences into account in the fiction (which is a huge advantage of using character-agnostic DCs for problems -- players who choose to make a character concept who is supposed to be a super-balancing fiend lose that input if the DM ignores that facet of the character), throwing so many checks and obstacles in the way of the action that the player was really better off being told "no, you really don't want to do that" (and a DM can do this accidentally, without even knowing they are doing it, if they aren't a mathematical savant), and finally producing a tactic that is so good that it breaks the game fiction and either having to make it not work that way anymore, or ... have cheese problems.

The table on page 42 gives you:
1> A set of character-agnostic DCs. This means that when a player makes a character that is good at something the game world fiction responds.

2> A set of mechanically-based results. This helps solve the "too good" and "too crappy" results of an action, both of which cause problems.

In short, it is a tool that helps you make decisions.

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 03:06 PM
nagora - the difficulty I have with that approach is that it requires me to know and remember that character X has a Dexterity of 8 and is wearing heavy armour and used to compete in the Steeplechase. Without that information, I find it easier to say "make an Acrobatics check, DC 15". This also means that when the next character tries the same stunt, who has a Dexterity of 16, is naked, and is scared of heights, I don't have to think of another arbitrary number - I can use the same arbitrary number I used last time.


Except that in 4e you actually have to look it all up in tables, instead of making it up on the spot.

I have yet to look at page 42 during play. My party are level 1, and it's easy to remember 5=Easy, 10=Medium, 15=Hard. For an action against a monster I use an appropriate defence: Fortitude, Reflex, or Will. Because my party aren't going to gain three levels in a single session, I can copy the damage expressions onto my DM crib sheet.

The 4e wording is the first to remind DMs that players doing crazy stuff is something to be encouraged, which I think is a welcome improvement.

hamlet
2008-09-11, 03:16 PM
nagora - the difficulty I have with that approach is that it requires me to know and remember that character X has a Dexterity of 8 and is wearing heavy armour and used to compete in the Steeplechase. Without that information, I find it easier to say "make an Acrobatics check, DC 15". This also means that when the next character tries the same stunt, who has a Dexterity of 16, is naked, and is scared of heights, I don't have to think of another arbitrary number - I can use the same arbitrary number I used last time.



I have yet to look at page 42 during play. My party are level 1, and it's easy to remember 5=Easy, 10=Medium, 15=Hard. For an action against a monster I use an appropriate defence: Fortitude, Reflex, or Will. Because my party aren't going to gain three levels in a single session, I can copy the damage expressions onto my DM crib sheet..

Yeah, maybe, except that many of us old fogies solve this with a quick mechanic called "the ability check." Takes about 3 seconds, 6 if you want to apply modifiers.

Player1: I want to run up the burning beam and onto the second floor balcony to escape.
DM: Fine, roll a DEX check, call it -4 because of the smoke and burning oil on the beam.
Player1: *rolls d20* That's a 12, which at least 4 under my DEX. I made it!
DM: Cool. Now the Ghoul Lord on the 2nd floor can melee you.
Player1: Oh . . .
Player2: I want to do the same thing and try to help out my friend!
DM: Same check.
Player2: *rolls d20* Oh no, that's more than my DEX!
DM: *roll's dice* You fall off about halfway up the beam. You take 4 damage from smashing face first into the floor and are no on fire. You'll take damage from that as next round starts.
Player2: Ouch!
Player1: Oh my god stop eating my eyes! Oh no, it's going to kill me! Help me!
DM: Heh, anybody else want to give it a try?
Remaining Players: Nope, sorry dude, you're on your own. *PC's rush out front door and leave idiots to their fate*

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 03:20 PM
Yeah, maybe, except that many of us old fogies solve this with a quick mechanic called "the ability check." Takes about 3 seconds, 6 if you want to apply modifiers.

The problem with the ability check is that it didn't scale with level. No matter how much time you spend running on narrow ledges or swinging on chandeliers, you have as good a chance of making the run at 1st level as you do at 20th. This might be OK for a Fighter, but for the Rogue who went from a 50% chance of climbing walls to a 99% chance of doing it in 20 levels, he's going to look pretty silly having never improved his balance.

Plus, opposed ability checks were always a huge problem. The famous Wizard-Fighter arm-wrestling challenge for one. :smalltongue:

Hal
2008-09-11, 03:21 PM
In a mostly related note, I try to mitigate this by anticipating player actions. That is, if I'm building a room with a chandelier, then I try to work out ahead of time what they need to do to climb onto the thing, or what the damage is if it's cut down and falls on someone.

This doesn't skip the problem of figuring out what those numbers should be. But it does at least bypass the "making up numbers on the spot" problem.

Obviously, not everything you could prepare comes up, and you can't always prepare for everything, but I think it's good practice to at least anticipate these things. If you're putting the PCs around a bonfire, you ought to be ready to say what happens when someone lands in it.

hamlet
2008-09-11, 03:27 PM
The problem with the ability check is that it didn't scale with level. No matter how much time you spend running on narrow ledges or swinging on chandeliers, you have as good a chance of making the run at 1st level as you do at 20th. This might be OK for a Fighter, but for the Rogue who went from a 50% chance of climbing walls to a 99% chance of doing it in 20 levels, he's going to look pretty silly having never improved his balance.

Plus, opposed ability checks were always a huge problem. The famous Wizard-Fighter arm-wrestling challenge for one. :smalltongue:

That's right, it doesn't automatically scale with level, and that's cause you don't suddenly become more dextrous because you gained a level.

Of course, if you felt like it, you could always adjust based on level and say, for instance, that a higher level person who's been doing this kind of stuff for a while gets a bonus to his roll equal to, say, the number of chest hairs he has, but I hardly see the neccessity. Your prowess in battle doesn't improve your balance while pulling stupid stunts.

Plus, ability checks have NEVER been a huge problem for me. So what if a wizard manages to, once in a blue moon, get one over on the fighter with his 18/75 strength? Good on him. Even a 70 pound nerd, with luck, can smack Triple-H down in an arm wrestling contest if he catches the guy off guard.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-11, 03:29 PM
It's paradoxical that they're trying to make up rules to cover the actions that aren't covered by the rules.


In my experience, these kinds of actions require a DM to know what the statistics are, because if he adjudicates things arbitrarily without knowing what he's doing, he'll likely make non-covered actions either too easy or too hard.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 03:34 PM
That's right, it doesn't automatically scale with level, and that's cause you don't suddenly become more dextrous because you gained a level.

Of course, if you felt like it, you could always adjust based on level and say, for instance, that a higher level person who's been doing this kind of stuff for a while gets a bonus to his roll equal to, say, the number of chest hairs he has, but I hardly see the neccessity. Your prowess in battle doesn't improve your balance while pulling stupid stunts.

Plus, ability checks have NEVER been a huge problem for me. So what if a wizard manages to, once in a blue moon, get one over on the fighter with his 18/75 strength? Good on him. Even a 70 pound nerd, with luck, can smack Triple-H down in an arm wrestling contest if he catches the guy off guard.

Then it might be worth noting that there is no way under the rules for any character to get better at balancing. Even if your thief is fluffed as a master acrobat, there is no way he can ever improve his chance at doing a backflip under a straight ability check system. He will have just a good a chance as anyone else with an equivalent DEX score, unless you, as the DM, decide to give him an arbitrary bonus.

There is the main problem with ability checks not scaling, particularly if you want to encourage the PCs to do "stupid stunts." If you do not, ability checks work very well indeed to discourage such things.

EDIT:
@Kurald Galain - that's why 4e is so nice. It does the statistics for you; the DM just needs to arbitrate whether a given stunt is "easy" "medium" or "hard" to do, and whether it does "low" "moderate" or "high" damage; all of these determinations are exactly what a DM should be determining in such a situation.

Matthew
2008-09-11, 03:42 PM
There just seems to be an increase in guidelines and examples provided, not really complexity.

1e: come up with a probability that makes sense and is reasonable.

3e: same, with some example numbers and a mention that you may wish to reuse rules for certain events to cover distinct but conceptually similar ones.

4e: same again, but stepping through the idea of calibrating the outcome of successes to what other abilities would let the player achieve at the same level.

Exactly, they are explaining precisely the same process, but with increasingly formalised language and the inclusion of explicit formulae for deriving the probability.



Gosh, Matthew, you are a thread-spawning machine :smalltongue:

I like to think I am an interesting thread spawning machine... but only of late.




- An ATRDC should help the DM to convert player input into rules-sensible results. DMs are not privy to the numbers that go into making a game system, and they should not make up such significant numbers if they can avoid it.

This is an interesting point, but not one I agree with. I do not believe the game designers are always better equipped to run the game than the individual game master, and the maths of D&D is pretty simple. Probability theory is pretty simple. All we're doing is assigning descriptive terms to probabilities.

0% Impossible
10% Very Difficult
30% Difficult
50% Medium
70% Easy
90% Very easy
100% Automatic

The formulae are what make things more complicated, and they never ever really work as well as an informed decision about how probable an action is.



- If a DM miscalculates the system numbers, he may produce a new action that invalidates the very purpose of the rules system you are using (e.g. if a Rogue is more effective using an ATRDC sand-throwing attack than using a dagger, why would he ever use the dagger?).

Another good point, and very much along the lines of the "Spring Attack" feat. You can't do X if you need Y to do it. The less rules you have, and the more experience, the less likely this is to happen. Moreover, if the game master ****s somethign up, he can just admit to it, and issue an alternative ruling. No big deal, just the same as over ruling a printed rule.



If you are not using the rules included in the game, why are you playing that system at all?

A slightly different issue, but also a good question. It really depends on how you see "game systems". If you want them to work out of the box, or you want them to be frameworks on which you can build and redesign. AD&D 2e was very much in the latter vein (too much for its own good). There's no real difference between changing the rule for yourself and using an 'optional rule' printed elsewhere, excpet as to who you target with the blame when it doesn't work, and who you praise when it does.



The problem with the ability check is that it didn't scale with level. No matter how much time you spend running on narrow ledges or swinging on chandeliers, you have as good a chance of making the run at 1st level as you do at 20th. This might be OK for a Fighter, but for the Rogue who went from a 50% chance of climbing walls to a 99% chance of doing it in 20 levels, he's going to look pretty silly having never improved his balance.

You just modify the attribute check by level. :smallbiggrin:



Plus, opposed ability checks were always a huge problem. The famous Wizard-Fighter arm-wrestling challenge for one. :smalltongue:

Don't use an attribute check for it.

I don't actually like attribute checks. :smallbiggrin:



Remember, DMs are imperfect.

As are rule sets. They are, after all, designed by people who DM for a living. :smallbiggrin:



It's paradoxical that they're trying to make up rules to cover the actions that aren't covered by the rules.

Indeed. We should probably think of these as "specifically covered" and "generally covered" actions.



Then it might be worth noting that there is no way under the rules for any character to get better at balancing. Even if your thief is fluffed as a master acrobat, there is no way he can ever improve his chance at doing a backflip under a straight ability check system. He will have just a good a chance as anyone else with an equivalent DEX score, unless you, as the DM, decide to give him an arbitrary bonus.

There is the main problem with ability checks not scaling, particularly if you want to encourage the PCs to do "stupid stunts." If you do not, ability checks work very well indeed to discourage such things.

We should be careful here. Attribute checks are one way of adjudicating actions. They are only supposed to be used when it makes sense to use them. They also are definitely and explicitly subject to modifiers (based on DM fiat), just as these things are in D20 3e/4e (known as circumstance modifiers or the DM's best friend post 2000)


The eagle eyed amongst you might have noted a distinct lack of an entry for 2e. that's because there isn't any real advice on the subject in the core books (tons in the support books, but none in the core books...). I had the opportunity to ask David Cook about this and he admitted it was an oversight. I have included some of the text from First Quest now, which in about one page provided critical (in my opinion) information missing from the core books. Consider it errata.

hamlet
2008-09-11, 03:51 PM
Then it might be worth noting that there is no way under the rules for any character to get better at balancing. Even if your thief is fluffed as a master acrobat, there is no way he can ever improve his chance at doing a backflip under a straight ability check system. He will have just a good a chance as anyone else with an equivalent DEX score, unless you, as the DM, decide to give him an arbitrary bonus.

There is the main problem with ability checks not scaling, particularly if you want to encourage the PCs to do "stupid stunts." If you do not, ability checks work very well indeed to discourage such things.


And I just said that if you feel that he will get better as he advances in experience, then adjust the ability check according to his level or as you see fit.

It ain't rocket science and it's only there to provide a quick and easy method to assign a probability. The more dextrous you are, the more likely you are to be able to pull of some stupid stunt like that.

You can just as easily rule that, because he's a master acrobat, he manages to pull of a backflip with no problem at all. Do you really need a rule to govern whether somebody supposedly trained to do these things is able to do them? Unless of course, he's using a back flip to gain a superior combat advantage, in which case I'd say the ability check still applies and governs whether he was able to gain his superior position rather than succeeding on his flip or not.

And, on top of that, who the hell takes an acrobat into combat anyway? I'll take the ax-crazy lunatic with the crazy eyes over that pansy any day.


I don't actually like attribute checks.

And yet you're the one who convinced me to spend my food budget on the C&C books which rely extensively on attribute checks, though admittedly in an inverted fashion.

Matthew
2008-09-11, 04:17 PM
And yet you're the one who convinced me to spend my food budget on the C&C books which rely extensively on attribute checks, though admittedly in an inverted fashion.

Hey, I said I wasn't a fan of attribute checks or the siege system in that thread as well. :smallwink:

Still, I like Castles & Crusades a lot, and their approach to the attribute check is probably one of the best going; as long as they are used in moderation and you are willing to use other task resolution methods when better suited, they work great. For what it's worth, I usually disregard primes and treat humans as having +3 on each attribute, and demi humans as having +2.

Hope C&C is working out for you!

Jayabalard
2008-09-11, 04:20 PM
Remember, DMs are imperfect.So are rule systems; in general though, DM's are far more capable of making rulings that make sense than any paradoxical set of rules to covers situations that aren't covered by the rules.

DM Raven
2008-09-11, 04:34 PM
Except that in 4e you actually have to look it all up in tables, instead of making it up on the spot.

You don't actually have to...the issue of "DM Freedom" comes up in that the DM can handle a situation however he sees fit. You could use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th edition method for 4th edition. The difference is, in 4e you have more powers that can accomplish the things like, "I want to swing and kick someone into a fire" and the DM will have more tools they can or cannot use to accomplish this. You could say, "Give me an acrobatics check, this happens" for any of the editions.

Again, you are thinking of rules as a boundary that you must stay within, I think of rules as having more tools to work with.

And there are no tables, its actually pretty easy to make an acrobatics check and use the trick strike ability. Or just use a bullrush...

nagora
2008-09-11, 04:42 PM
The problem with the ability check is that it didn't scale with level.
Actually, every time I have used ability checks I've allowed the player to subtract their class level from the dice when the class is appropriate.

But, as I said, I've never found a one-size-fits-all task resolution system in any game or homebrew.


And, on top of that, who the hell takes an acrobat into combat anyway?
A mime?

Kurald Galain
2008-09-11, 05:09 PM
It struck me that this may be an issue: many things are in fact covered by rules, in the form of powers. And whenever something is covered by a power, the default assumption is that you can't do that unless you have that power. 3E had the same issue, to some extent, with feats.

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 05:11 PM
Yeah, maybe, except that many of us old fogies solve this with a quick mechanic called "the ability check."

As do us new fogies, though we call it an "attribute check". The difference is just that the DM picks an arbitrary modifier instead of setting an arbitrary DC.

Player1: I want to run up the burning beam and onto the second floor balcony to escape.
DM: Fine, make a Dexterity check, call it DC15 because of the smoke and burning oil on the beam.
Player1: *rolls d20* That's a 12, plus four equals 16. I made it!
DM: Cool. Now the Ghoul Lord on the 2nd floor can melee you.
Player1: Oh . . .
Player2: I want to do the same thing and try to help out my friend!
DM: Same check.
Player2: *rolls d20* Oh no, I got a 10!
DM: You fall off about halfway up the beam. You take d6+1 damage from smashing face first into the floor and are now on fire. You'll take d6+1 ongoing fire damage at the start of your next turn.
Player2: Ouch!
Player1: Oh my god stop eating my eyes! Oh no, it's going to kill me! Help me!
DM: Heh, anybody else want to give it a try?
Remaining Players: Nope, sorry dude, you're on your own. *PC's rush out front door and leave idiots to their fate*

I was specifically talking about nagora's advice of judging each case individually and rolling percentiles. You seem to agree with me by mentioning ability checks as a better alternative.

Starsinger
2008-09-11, 05:13 PM
It struck me that this may be an issue: many things are in fact covered by rules, in the form of powers. And whenever something is covered by a power, the default assumption is that you can't do that unless you have that power. 3E had the same issue, to some extent, with feats.

I have to agree. Some of my more, rules dependent players, and by that I mean the people who don't comprehend the idea that they can do things other than what the book allows, had a hard time believing you could bull rush in 4e because Tide of Iron exists.

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 05:22 PM
Whenever something is covered by a power, the default assumption is that you can't do that unless you have that power.

I don't think so. Per the 4e DMG, the default assumption is that the DM says yes. Hopefully the DM communicates that to the players.
The main difference when I DM is that powers are more reliable, quicker in game time, and are normally more powerful than at-will AtRDCs. On the other hand, situational AtRDCs (such as shooting an arrow to drop a chandelier on someone's head) are normally more powerful than at-will powers.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-09-11, 06:17 PM
Except that in 4e you actually have to look it all up in tables, instead of making it up on the spot.

Eh wot?

You just make the DC 10 + ˝ PC level, +5 if it's medium, +some if it's harder, and there you've got it, pretty much. 2nd-level PC wants to do such-and-such? Oh, I guess you can make a DC 16 Acrobatics check (that's about a 70% chance of success there) and deal, I don't know, 2d6+Dex damage and knock the guy back one square. Nobody can repeat the trick, at least in this combat. (Or today.)

If you understand the rules and the probabilities it's all built on, it's easy to keep relatively balanced.

Justin_Bacon
2008-09-11, 06:23 PM
The thing is that a lot of the time, the extra steps in 3e+ are strangely counter-productive. If a character wants to, say, run up a fallen roof beam and jump over the wall into the river, I may think to myself "oh, maybe 30% chance given the smoke, the burning oil on the beam and the fact that they have a Dex of 8". The player then rolls d% and we see what happens.

If I want to translate that into "official" 3e/4e speak, I have to try to work out what DC gives the desired chance for that character. What's the point of that extra calcuation?

The only "point" of the extra calculation is that you like making extra work for yourself. :)

In 3rd Edition, you decide the universal difficulty of the task -- not the difficulty for a particular character. The actual percentage chance of success is determined by the character's skill -- you don't have to think about it at all.

In fact, if we look at this in terms of the actual decision-making process being made here, the 3rd Edition version is considerably easier. In your method you:

(1) Take into consideration the difficulty of the task.
(2) Take into consideration the character's ability.
(3) Determine a percentage chance of success.
(4) Roll the dice.

In 3rd Edition all you need to do is:

(1) Take into consideration the difficulty of the task.
(2) Roll the dice.


This effect is compounded by the totally weird spacing of DCs which give people far too big a range between auto-fail and auto-succeed, which ultimately can be traced back to the original design of the skill system in 1e OA which used a d20 for no good reason. The original designer seems to have thought that using the same die for skills and combat was in some way intuative without considering the effects.

It's downright perverse to argue for using percentile dice to resolve checks and then complain about a d20 having too large a range. How can you not realize that 100 is a larger number than 20?


For example: a single roll of d20+5 has a 25% chance of rolling 20 or more. The chance of rolling 24 or more twice duing a skill challenge is only 6%, and three times is 1.5%. So, the same skill can go from "perfectly decent chance" to "you'd have to be desparate" depending on how the DM applies it. I think this could cause trouble if it wasn't for the fact that I think skill challenges will simply die away and become a forgotten experiment.

You seem to be performing a bait-and-switch there. Yes, there's a significant (20%) difference between a DC 20 task and a DC 24 task. And, yes, making 3-out-of-5 basketball shots from a location is actually more difficult than making just one basketball shot from the same location.

What's your point?

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 07:38 PM
This is an interesting point, but not one I agree with. I do not believe the game designers are always better equipped to run the game than the individual game master, and the maths of D&D is pretty simple. Probability theory is pretty simple. All we're doing is assigning descriptive terms to probabilities.

0% Impossible
10% Very Difficult
30% Difficult
50% Medium
70% Easy
90% Very easy
100% Automatic

The formulae are what make things more complicated, and they never ever really work as well as an informed decision about how probable an action is.

So, here's another thing I think rules should do: provide a basis for players to rationally determine a course of action for their character.

In a game where character skill is important (which, I maintain, is the case in D&D) the likelihood of success should be heavily determined by the contents of your character sheet - did you train in balancing? Does your armor interfere with the check? How good is your natural balance? What effect does a slippery surface have?

In 1e, few of these modifiers were ever explicitly described, particularly on the player side of the screen. A player wouldn't know, ex ante, whether or not Terry the Thief would view walking on a narrow beam as an easy task or a suicidal one. He would require his DM to first decide how "hard" the check would be (Easy? Medium? Difficult? Very Difficult?) and then to see how the DM weighs the modifiers (OK, Thieves should be good at balancing so +LV, but he's Moderately Encumbered so... -10? Sure. Um, add in his DEX score...) and then, if it sounds like a good chance, try it. These can turn complicated "skill" situations in 1e into a game of "Mother May I" where the player and DM try to hash out how hard various potential actions of his character and settle on one with an appropriate difficulty. If this negotiation is too long, DM & Player may be discouraged from doing ATRDC (putting us back in Nagora's Prison). Or the DM may end up just hefting all the potential modifiers and throwing an ad hoc +/- 10% in whichever way the scales seem to be tilting, and get on with it.

However, if you allow the base rules to encode a lot of these modifiers beforehand, then the player has a better idea as to what kind of tasks his character is good at. Encode an encumbrance/armor penalty into a skill system, and Terry already knows that for all physical checks he has a given penalty - and how valuable dropping some crap might be. Add in ability modifiers and skill modifiers, and the player has enough information on his hands to get a pretty good idea as to what his character is capable of doing.

If we assume that game designers produce better systems than we do (or we would just use our own homebrew system), then a skill resolution system which has modifiers included in it by the game designers will work better than one in which all modifiers are ruled, ad hoc or via homebrew, by the DM. 3e and 4e sought to provide such a system, having calculated what modifier numbers are appropriate to model what in-game constraint. These include a skill system which reflects characters developing non-combat skills which can broadly apply to ATRDC situations, and a tabulation of modifiers that may apply in such situations (being blind, slippery beams, etc.).

Summary
1) Postulate: the people who designed the game system you are playing are better at creating a system of rules than you are. Reason: if you were better at creating a system of rules, you would be using your own homebrew system instead of spending money on their inferior system.

2) Any ATRDC system will require a table of modifiers to reflect character skill. Either the DM makes it up on the spot, or the System can provide it beforehand. A System that provides it beforehand is a boon to players, as they can get a superior ex ante understanding of their character's capabilities.

3) The "informed decision" of the DM typically requires a totaling up of these modifiers in one fashion or another.

If the System provides no guidance, the DM will either have to homebrew up his own list, or make a rough judgment as to the effects of things such as character level, character aptitude, character physical status, atmospheric situations, and physical difficulty. Such a rough judgment will commonly be small, round, bonus/penalty (say, +/- 10%) as those are easy to apply and think up, regardless of the actual severity or relative strengths of these factors.

However, if the System calculates it beforehand, both players and DMs can have a good sense as to their relative weight before the situation arrives. These numbers are unlikely to be a standardized +/- 10%, providing greater granularity to ATRDC checks. Additionally, such checks are more likely to be in line with greater System design philosophies (see Postulate).

Matthew
2008-09-11, 08:31 PM
Summary
1) Postulate: the people who designed the game system you are playing are better at creating a system of rules than you are. Reason: if you were better at creating a system of rules, you would be using your own homebrew system instead of spending money on their inferior system.

Right, but bear in mind that the core idea of AD&D is that you will be playing an essentially homebrew system built on some basic principles established by the "core game". You aren't wasting money buying the core system, you're trawling for ideas.



2) Any ATRDC system will require a table of modifiers to reflect character skill. Either the DM makes it up on the spot, or the System can provide it beforehand. A System that provides it beforehand is a boon to players, as they can get a superior ex ante understanding of their character's capabilities.

I would contest strongly that D&D pre 1979/1989/2000 (depending on where you want to place the cut off point) was about character strongly defined character ability, that was a gradual change. The archetypes exist in the form that they do for a very good reason, and taht's to allow for heroic play. Conan never lacks the ability to do things, and niether should a fighter.

The whole conceit of "mother may I" is ridiculous to me because by relying on the system you essentially turn the system into "mother". The only difference is that the answers to your basic questions are written in black and white, whilst more complex questions still rely on the game master (father, in this case?)



3) The "informed decision" of the DM typically requires a totaling up of these modifiers in one fashion or another.

If the System provides no guidance, the DM will either have to homebrew up his own list, or make a rough judgment as to the effects of things such as character level, character aptitude, character physical status, atmospheric situations, and physical difficulty. Such a rough judgment will commonly be small, round, bonus/penalty (say, +/- 10%) as those are easy to apply and think up, regardless of the actual severity or relative strengths of these factors.

However, if the System calculates it beforehand, both players and DMs can have a good sense as to their relative weight before the situation arrives. These numbers are unlikely to be a standardized +/- 10%, providing greater granularity to ATRDC checks. Additionally, such checks are more likely to be in line with greater System design philosophies (see Postulate).

Which brings us back to "is the game master better at this or the system"? I think the system often comes up with a reasonable value, and is a good tool for a poor game master. For a good game master, though, the system can be a hindrance, training wheels that are no longer needed.

A good example of this are the morale charts in the 1e DMG. They are a very detailed method of deciding what NPcs do under stress. Then at the bottom of the section it says something to the effect of "this is difficult stuff to judge, but an experienced game master can take all of these factors into account without running the numbers and come up with a reasonable answer."

That said, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water, systemisation serves a useful purpose as guidence.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 08:40 PM
Which brings us back to "is the game master better at this or the system"? I think the system often comes up with a reasonable value, and is a good tool for a poor game master. For a good game master, though, the system can be a hindrance, training wheels that are no longer needed.

Point taken. A clear case of differing game philosophies (and the fact that I cut my teeth on 2e, with several disastrous results from poor ad hoc decisions) which can't be resolved.

I would like to make a final point though: the modifiers/DCs you find in 3e/4e generally cover the most common situations that may arise in a given ATRDC situation. The width of the beam, if it's slippery, the role of encumbrance, training, and natural ability, for instance. There is nothing that keeps you from adding in ad hoc modifiers if you desire, should there be extra factors you would like to add.

Additionally, 4e provides the tools for coming up with DCs that you needed to invent for 1e. The percentage table you showed was made by you, no? In 4e they provide that table beforehand, and scale it for using a d20 check. This is not limiting because (1) the DM still can decide on the ultimate DC - the players don't have "access" to these numbers and (2) if you find the DC table is bad, you can ignore it just like you did for aspects of the 1e system which you didn't like.

In short, the "training wheels" of 4e are not welded into the frame. 4e provides a detailed system which has taken out all the guesswork you had to develop to use 1e, but it does not forbid you from using that 1e aesthetic any more than the weapon speed rules forbade you from ignoring them.

I am curious to hear more about how these "training wheels" are a hindrance for experienced DMs. I, for one, have never found them constraining - even in 3e - because I could simply ignore rules which I disliked.

Thrud
2008-09-11, 08:52 PM
I am curious to hear more about how these "training wheels" are a hindrance for experienced DMs. I, for one, have never found them constraining - even in 3e - because I could simply ignore rules which I disliked.

I can't speak for everyone, but I played in several 4ed games, and the DM wanted everything strictly by the book because he kept holding up the 'vaunted game balance of 4ed' card. Saying stuff like 'This game is so well balanced I don't want to mess with stuff' Which is odd because he ran a pretty great 3ed game where he came up with stuff on the fly all the time.

As an aside, though, I now have no real belief in this incredible game balance. We went through a couple of games wiping the floor with everything we came across, then hit a couple of dang needlefang drake swarms and were ripped to pieces in seconds. Did the designers actually TEST any of these supposedly well balanced critters they added to the MM, or simply throw them in because they seemed like a good idea at the time?

At least after that fiasco even the DM is fed up with 4ed and we are all switching to WoD.

Jayabalard
2008-09-11, 09:14 PM
1) Postulate: the people who designed the game system you are playing are better at creating a system of rules than you are. Reason: if you were better at creating a system of rules, you would be using your own homebrew system instead of spending money on their inferior system.This isn't necessarily the case for several reasons.

It depends on the assumption that it's possible for a system to have general and specific rules to cover the situations better than a real live GM who's present at the situation can. I completely disagree with this: it is simply not possible to design a system that can handle things not covered by the rules as well as a skilled GM who's actually involved in the game in question. The best you can do is wind up with an overly complicated, cumbersome system that still isn't as flexible as living breathing GM who actually knows all of the facts.
Even if you disregard/disagree with #1, it's a lot of work to build a complete system from there ground up; even if you accept the previous, it's usually easier and far cheaper (time = $$$) to use an inferior system and fix it as needed. A set of books costs <$200, and making my own system is going to take me more than 8 hours.
Even if you disregard #1, and have plenty of time to make your own system, it's generally easier to get players to join you in a more mainstream game system.

its_all_ogre
2008-09-11, 09:17 PM
the interesting thing is once a rule is created people are more likely to want to follow that rule.
1e/2e had no rules to follow so people were hapy to homebrew solutions
3e/4e have these rules so people are unhappy making up their own

this is something i have observed about people in all manner of other games, why not dnd too?!

as for the needlefang swarms...their pretty rude...but if you cannot fight tactically well to defeat them i would assume your group teamwork issues need fixing.
(says me with my group of 'teamwork? whats that?' 3.5 players :smalltongue:)

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-11, 09:23 PM
the interesting thing is once a rule is created people are more likely to want to follow that rule.
1e/2e had no rules to follow so people were hapy to homebrew solutions
3e/4e have these rules so people are unhappy making up their own

this is something i have observed about people in all manner of other games, why not dnd too?!

as for the needlefang swarms...their pretty rude...but if you cannot fight tactically well to defeat them i would assume your group teamwork issues need fixing.
(says me with my group of 'teamwork? whats that?' 3.5 players :smalltongue:)

Well, Needledrakes are just poorly leveled. They really are LV 3-4 monsters - they're that nasty.

But what you said is true: the fewer the rules, the less people pay attention to them. Now, if you like that kind of gameplay, you should really like Narrative systems - they have virtually no rules, and all actions are resolved through simple die mechanics. However, I've found few 1e players who enjoy Narrative systems despite the fact that they love all the homebrewing they use when playing 1e.

I honestly can't understand it, but it seems to work OK for them. :smallbiggrin:

Matthew
2008-09-11, 10:10 PM
Here is the thing, if you argue that too many rules are a hinderance, then who decides when there are too many or too few rules? By that argument, the perfect game is a group of people sitting around telling a story while the DM decides what actually happens and what doesn't (and this is not necessarily a bad thing). But this would leave you with a story...not a game.

You decide when there are too many or too few. Either by direct group consensus or by group consensus that somebody decides. It doesn't lead to sitting around telling stories (which is fun in it's own right), it just means that some games will be heavier than others (and the number of rules you want may fluctuate over time).



D&D is a great game because it has a clause that says "The DM has final say in all matters." This gives the DM freedom to craft a game/story/world as he or she sees fit. The only thing that stands in your way is the players getting frustrated and leaving your table because they don't like what you're trying to do. But if you're creative and fair, you can create an amazing game/story that people will probably remeber for the rest of their lives.

That is not, in my opinion, why D&D is a great game. Everybody likes it for their own reasons.



Fourth edition introduces more rules, but it frames all those rules into one system with very few sub systems to contain other rules. In other words, most rules are variations to the, "I make a check, I win or lose depending on how hard the check is." Most of the 4e rules revolve around this and for each rule/power/attack they slightly modify the rule.

Yes, and if you like such an approach, then 4e is a good game for you. If you don't, then it's not.



D&D is a game first and foremost. Each DM chooses if he wants to play this game more story heavy or more rule-mechanic heavy. For me, the rules of D&D are a tool I use to craft a fun and interactive game/story that my players will both enjoy the challenge of playing a game and the entertainment that comes from hearing a story.

Yes, but it's a game where you are encouraged to change the rules to suit your tastes (or sometimes not).



If you like more system variations in a caster dominated rule system then 3.5 is probably a better system for you. If you like more rule variations and less with less variation on the overall system then 4.0 is more your speed. Both editions are great, and choosing either is fine. But 3.5 will probably fade away much like 1.0 and 2.0 did before it. Not happy about it, but that is the reality of things.

Except 1e and 2e haven't actually faded away. Just pop over to Dragonsfoot to find an active community, or pick up the latest OSRIC or Goodman Games 1e release. Alternatively, Castles & Crusades presents another option.



Point taken. A clear case of differing game philosophies (and the fact that I cut my teeth on 2e, with several disastrous results from poor ad hoc decisions) which can't be resolved.

I would like to make a final point though: the modifiers/DCs you find in 3e/4e generally cover the most common situations that may arise in a given ATRDC situation. The width of the beam, if it's slippery, the role of encumbrance, training, and natural ability, for instance. There is nothing that keeps you from adding in ad hoc modifiers if you desire, should there be extra factors you would like to add.

That's true.



Additionally, 4e provides the tools for coming up with DCs that you needed to invent for 1e. The percentage table you showed was made by you, no? In 4e they provide that table beforehand, and scale it for using a d20 check. This is not limiting because (1) the DM still can decide on the ultimate DC - the players don't have "access" to these numbers and (2) if you find the DC table is bad, you can ignore it just like you did for aspects of the 1e system which you didn't like.

Absolutely. The only question is whether it's more work for me to remove bits of D20 3e/4e or add bits to BD&D/AD&D/C&C. When I was actively playing 3e I had a slew of house rules, and they were getting longer and more complex, and they were essentially me trying to get the game running more like the system I preferred. :smallbiggrin:



In short, the "training wheels" of 4e are not welded into the frame. 4e provides a detailed system which has taken out all the guesswork you had to develop to use 1e, but it does not forbid you from using that 1e aesthetic any more than the weapon speed rules forbade you from ignoring them.

I am curious to hear more about how these "training wheels" are a hindrance for experienced DMs. I, for one, have never found them constraining - even in 3e - because I could simply ignore rules which I disliked.

Workload, I think, is my main concern. Building characters and learning rules, statting up NPCs, and generally "mastering the game". It is all work for no real gain for me.

You can always tell the system to go jump, but if you're doing it all the time, you have a default that's not a default. To put it another way, how do I decide whether the system is doing it better than me, or I know best? The decision was already made before I did the math.

Let's say I have a 10 foot pit trap. I already know what I think the chance of jumping it should be. So, do I do the math and work out whether the system gets the same conclusion? What if it doesn't? Should I change my opinion, or should I disregard the system? I'm basically second guesing myself, which is a poor way to run a game.

On the other hand, there could come a point in the game where I can't decide what the difficulty of jumping a pit should be. If I just default to the system, I'm getting lazy

...the hour is late, and I am rambling... I'll sort out those last paragraphs into something cohesive later... :smallbiggrin:

Kalirren
2008-09-11, 11:34 PM
For me this thread is a little silly, because it exists only because of a conflation of "game" with "system".

Here's my point in a nutsell: I don't play D&D 3.5. I play RPGs. Sometimes I use D&D 3.5 when I play RPGs with my group.

The semantic distinction I'm getting at here is that the way I play it at least, the game isn't just the system. It contains the system, but it is recognized that the system has limited scope. Actions outside of the rules system we happen to be using can still be (and are) resolved within the framework of the game.

The part of the framework of the game that isn't contained in the rules is contained in the social contract. We capitalize on our intuitions habitually, and recognize when the system is more reliable than our group intuition is. When we must make up a rule, generally we take advantage of the fact that our characters' capabilities are already gauged in terms of the parameters described in the character sheet, and we improvise a rule that takes these gauges into account. This generally produces a result that we're happy with and we move on.

I think system rules for dealing with situations that are outside the system are a rather inefficient way of dealing with things. It's generally enough to produce a result of appropriate magnitude and leave it. Case 1) it's good enough to incorporate as precedent, possibly to be fleshed out later, case 2) it was a bad ruling, or case 3) the situation didn't need a ruling at all, it needed to be RP'ed out in full.

Mark Hall
2008-09-12, 12:01 AM
I've been pulling these on our DM a lot... fun little side effects that seem to make sense.

"The hobgoblin torturer has a red-hot spike."
"I hit it with a Ray of Frost. What's the DC?"


"Ok, they're in front of the table of spikes? I hit them with a Thunderwave. How does hitting the table of spikes hurt them?"

Remember: The terrain is your friend.

horseboy
2008-09-12, 01:10 AM
One of the things I noticed on this thread, and I think it has a lot to do with D&D as the base system for this discussion as it has a very binary heart of I hit/I miss, is the concept of partial success. 4th tries to address this by making you have to roll multiple times, though how many times is determined by the DM.

How would that be handled in one of our games?
GM: "What do you do, Gelding er Grendling."
"I run up the burning timber into the 2nd floor."
GM: "Okay, we'll call that a hard acrobatics."
"214"
GM: "Write down one Hard, Glorin?"
"I hate you, Steve. I'll.....follow up after him. 69!"
"w00t! God's numbers. You're 40% of the way up, Horseboy?"
"Okay, so Glorin's blocking the timber, right? This is a normal height room, right, about 10' or so?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, so first things first, save the lay healer. I go under where the edge of the hole in the roof is, hold my hands out cupped to give Celda something to climb up, while centering myself for Adrenal Balance next turn. With the -20 I can give you a +38 to your climb."
"That's a medium climb for that height."
Celda: "104."
"You're 90% up. Horseboy, you want to roll your A heat?"
"*mumble* *grumble* 63."

sand in the eyes?

No, no rules for it spilled out, I'd go with the disarm skill precedence. First, 1/2 throwing skill (unless they actually developed throw sand) used to find the save modifier. Then use the # of ranks in throwing as the attack level, the target's level as the defense level modified by his quickness score for it's save.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-12, 04:02 AM
Which brings us back to "is the game master better at this or the system"? I think the system often comes up with a reasonable value, and is a good tool for a poor game master. For a good game master, though, the system can be a hindrance, training wheels that are no longer needed.

True enough. The problem lies in people who insist on treating such training wheels like a straitjacket. A good GM knows when to ignore the rules; and a bad player knows to always apply every rule they can think of.

This has little to do with what game you're actually playing, of course, it's just that I don't like rules lawyers in an RPG session. But the more rulebooks an RPG has, the more scope it has for rules lawyering.

(edit) oh, and for the record, I am using a homebrew system (well, not all the time, but then I use a lot of systems), so by Oracle's logic that means I'm a better game designer than WOTC is :smallbiggrin:

nagora
2008-09-12, 04:13 AM
(edit) oh, and for the record, I am using a homebrew system (well, not all the time, but then I use a lot of systems), so by Oracle's logic that means I'm a better game designer than WOTC is :smallbiggrin:
I for one am prepared to believe that.

hamlet
2008-09-12, 08:23 AM
I for one am prepared to believe that.

But then again, you'd probably believe a semi-trained chimp chewing on a pencil is a better game designer than those currently employed at WOTC.

nagora
2008-09-12, 08:31 AM
But then again, you'd probably believe a semi-trained chimp chewing on a pencil is a better game designer than those currently employed at WOTC.
Not quite. I do think they have some skill, but they are either lacking in inspiration or they are suffering from interference from above.

Actually, thinking about it, I can't think of any game I like that was written by a corporation. Published, yes, written to order, no. Even AH bought in most of the games it published, AFAIK.

hamlet
2008-09-12, 10:08 AM
Not quite. I do think they have some skill, but they are either lacking in inspiration or they are suffering from interference from above.

Actually, thinking about it, I can't think of any game I like that was written by a corporation. Published, yes, written to order, no. Even AH bought in most of the games it published, AFAIK.

Fair enough.

Actually, I don't think that the designers are completely without skill, but that they're obviously writing to a different audience entirely and it's not a kids vs old folks thing, just different people looking for different things and the suits at the corporation decided that this was the audience with the money and so the only audience that mattered.

The new audience, IMO, is the one that looks at the vague and uncertain guidlines in OD&D and Basic and don't know what to do, but look at the metric butt ton of rules spelling out a huge amount of actions and draw massive inspiration.

Different strokes and all that . . .

Matthew
2008-09-23, 06:27 PM
Sorry for the dealy in replying to this thread.



For me this thread is a little silly, because it exists only because of a conflation of "game" with "system".

Here's my point in a nutsell: I don't play D&D 3.5. I play RPGs. Sometimes I use D&D 3.5 when I play RPGs with my group.

The semantic distinction I'm getting at here is that the way I play it at least, the game isn't just the system. It contains the system, but it is recognized that the system has limited scope. Actions outside of the rules system we happen to be using can still be (and are) resolved within the framework of the game.

The part of the framework of the game that isn't contained in the rules is contained in the social contract. We capitalize on our intuitions habitually, and recognize when the system is more reliable than our group intuition is. When we must make up a rule, generally we take advantage of the fact that our characters' capabilities are already gauged in terms of the parameters described in the character sheet, and we improvise a rule that takes these gauges into account. This generally produces a result that we're happy with and we move on.

I think system rules for dealing with situations that are outside the system are a rather inefficient way of dealing with things. It's generally enough to produce a result of appropriate magnitude and leave it. Case 1) it's good enough to incorporate as precedent, possibly to be fleshed out later, case 2) it was a bad ruling, or case 3) the situation didn't need a ruling at all, it needed to be RP'ed out in full.

I am not quite following this. How are "game" and "system" being conflated here? Is the system not a substructure within the game? Are they actually separate entities? If you mean the equating of the system with the game, I can follow a little better, but I am not really seeing the bearing this has on the role of the game master in adjudicating actions not explicitly legislated for by the rules.



One of the things I noticed on this thread, and I think it has a lot to do with D&D as the base system for this discussion as it has a very binary heart of I hit/I miss, is the concept of partial success. 4th tries to address this by making you have to roll multiple times, though how many times is determined by the DM.

How would that be handled in one of our games?
GM: "What do you do, Gelding er Grendling."
"I run up the burning timber into the 2nd floor."
GM: "Okay, we'll call that a hard acrobatics."
"214"
GM: "Write down one Hard, Glorin?"
"I hate you, Steve. I'll.....follow up after him. 69!"
"w00t! God's numbers. You're 40% of the way up, Horseboy?"
"Okay, so Glorin's blocking the timber, right? This is a normal height room, right, about 10' or so?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, so first things first, save the lay healer. I go under where the edge of the hole in the roof is, hold my hands out cupped to give Celda something to climb up, while centering myself for Adrenal Balance next turn. With the -20 I can give you a +38 to your climb."
"That's a medium climb for that height."
Celda: "104."
"You're 90% up. Horseboy, you want to roll your A heat?"
"*mumble* *grumble* 63."

sand in the eyes?

No, no rules for it spilled out, I'd go with the disarm skill precedence. First, 1/2 throwing skill (unless they actually developed throw sand) used to find the save modifier. Then use the # of ranks in throwing as the attack level, the target's level as the defense level modified by his quickness score for it's save.

When I read this post the first time through something didn't quite sit right to me, and I think it's because whilst degrees of failure and success are not really discussed in AD&D (though one could suggest that they are implied and hard coded in occasionally, as with fire ball spells) they are discussed in the D20/3 DMG. Are they discussed in D20/4e? I didn't notice, and I wonder if it matters in the context of a skill challenge.



True enough. The problem lies in people who insist on treating such training wheels like a straitjacket. A good GM knows when to ignore the rules; and a bad player knows to always apply every rule they can think of.

This has little to do with what game you're actually playing, of course, it's just that I don't like rules lawyers in an RPG session. But the more rulebooks an RPG has, the more scope it has for rules lawyering.

Right, now I am recalling the direction of this thread. Yes, I think that is correct. Whilst the system can advise a certain course of action, the real problems are only likely to arise when the players seek to enforce the rules even though the game master has decided they are unsuitable. Certainly a group dynamic issue!

DM Raven
2008-09-23, 07:15 PM
You decide when there are too many or too few. Either by direct group consensus or by group consensus that somebody decides. It doesn't lead to sitting around telling stories (which is fun in it's own right), it just means that some games will be heavier than others (and the number of rules you want may fluctuate over time).

I think in the end the GM is the one who really decides how much or how little, or what type of rules he wants in his game. Being that he is the one putting most of the legwork into the game, he should have the right to decide how his games play out.




That is not, in my opinion, why D&D is a great game. Everybody likes it for their own reasons.

Wait...so you don't like the fact that the DM has a lot of room to craft a story in the way he sees fit? Maybe I'm confused...do you not like this clause or do you think it's unimportant in the overall view of things? I thought this whole thread was a sort of argument against gaming vs story and how some editions do it better than others.




Yes, and if you like such an approach, then 4e is a good game for you. If you don't, then it's not.

Um, yes?



Yes, but it's a game where you are encouraged to change the rules to suit your tastes (or sometimes not).

Yes, this sorta goes back to my whole "it's a great game because the DM can do what he wants to craft a story" point.



Except 1e and 2e haven't actually faded away. Just pop over to Dragonsfoot to find an active community, or pick up the latest OSRIC or Goodman Games 1e release. Alternatively, Castles & Crusades presents another option.


I'm curious how many D&D players know what Thac0 is...

Starsinger
2008-09-23, 07:20 PM
I'm curious how many D&D players know what Thac0 is...

To Hit Armor Class 0. Now if you meant how it works, then I have no idea. My biggest experience with 2nd edition D&D was a computer game called Eye of the Beholder

Matthew
2008-09-23, 07:23 PM
I think in the end the GM is the one who really decides how much or how little, or what type of rules he wants in his game. Being that he is the one putting most of the legwork into the game, he should have the right to decide how his games play out.

That really depends on the way the group is set up. Soemtimes it is true, sometimes it is not.



Wait...so you don't like the fact that the DM has a lot of room to craft a story in the way he sees fit? Maybe I'm confused...do you not like this clause or do you think it's unimportant in the overall view of things? I thought this whole thread was a sort of argument against gaming vs story and how some editions do it better than others.

This is a thread about how the various editions handle actions not specifically covered by the rules. What I disagree with is the assertion that the game master having "final say" is what makes D&D great. There are lots of things that make D&D great, but they are not necessarily the same things or order of importance to everyone.



Um, yes?

This has to do with the above.



Yes, this sorta goes back to my whole "it's a great game because the DM can do what he wants to craft a story" point.

I don't think it is quite as simple as identifying one or two factors and saying "D&D is great because of these things". Not to mention that their relative value needs to be weighed against other games that perform similar functions better or worse.



I'm curious how many D&D players know what Thac0 is...

At least 10% to judge by the various surveys that wander around, probably more like 10-30% if you consider folks who prefer modern editions but started on earlier ones.



To Hit Armor Class 0. Now if you meant how it works, then I have no idea. My biggest experience with 2nd edition D&D was a computer game called Eye of the Beholder

It is the number you need to roll on 1d20 to hit armour class 0. Armour class 0 corresponds to D20 armour class 20 (thus if you have THAC0 20, you effectively have AB 0).

Mike_G
2008-09-23, 08:12 PM
I pretty much completely agree with Oracle Hunter.

I like the 3e/4e approach because I like the fact that half the math is already done. I can look right at my sheet and see my bonus to Jump or Climb or whatever. All the DM needs to do is give me a DC and I have an idea if it's worth trying. I never have to work out stuff just to decide it isn't worth it, and stuff like my class, my level and feats and stats are all taken into account..

I like it as a DM, because I like having the guideline. The DC guidelines aren't really any different from Matthews percentile guidelines, just D20 instead of D100, and if you're using 5% increments, they're the same. I can make the DC whatever I want, add circumstance bonuses or whatever. My hands are so far from tied that it boggles my mind anyone could feel restricted by that.

Plus we never have the DM tell the Liberal Arts major who's playing the thief "Ok, 40% chance, but subtract your dex, and half your level from the roll." And having the Liberal Arts major say "Umm. I rolled a 68. Ok, my level is 7, so half of that is.. umm, round up? No? Ok. So my Dex is 16, so 68 minus 3 minus 16 is..." and other helpful players suggest: "add all the bonuses, and then subtract the total" Or "add the bonuses to the chance, don't subtract them from the dice roll" while the math major playing the Vaarsuvius clone grinds his teeth for five minutes and then screams the answer.

That was any ATRDC resolution in 1e for my old group. Really.

ericgrau
2008-09-23, 08:24 PM
I dunno, the example sounds like a standard charging bull-rush to me. Only non-standard part seems to be the chandelier, which fits the pick-a-check-and-roll technique the various editions suggest.

And heck, even I would have a 50:50 chance of swinging on a chandlier, maybe better (but I wouldn't do so well on the rest of the action). I'd make the swinging part a DC 10. I hate it when DM's over-DC skill/ability checks simply to make sure there's a good chance of failure... as if things suddenly get harder the more you level up? Ya, that means a character with a few levels, a good dex and a few appropriately placed skill points will have 100% success. Good! There's a point early in a hero's career where you stop accidentally falling off of chandeliers when you swing. Knocking the baddy backwards, ya that depends on the baddy and sure enough a bull rush is an opposed roll.

Matthew
2008-09-24, 04:21 AM
I like it as a DM, because I like having the guideline. The DC guidelines aren't really any different from Matthews percentile guidelines, just D20 instead of D100, and if you're using 5% increments, they're the same. I can make the DC whatever I want, add circumstance bonuses or whatever. My hands are so far from tied that it boggles my mind anyone could feel restricted by that.

Heh, heh. Surely, though, that's rather the point. If the percentile guidelines and DC procedure are more or less the same, then what's to choose between them? It's just going to be a matter of which is simpler forr the individual.



Plus we never have the DM tell the Liberal Arts major who's playing the thief "Ok, 40% chance, but subtract your dex, and half your level from the roll." And having the Liberal Arts major say "Umm. I rolled a 68. Ok, my level is 7, so half of that is.. umm, round up? No? Ok. So my Dex is 16, so 68 minus 3 minus 16 is..." and other helpful players suggest: "add all the bonuses, and then subtract the total" Or "add the bonuses to the chance, don't subtract them from the dice roll" while the math major playing the Vaarsuvius clone grinds his teeth for five minutes and then screams the answer.

Ha, ha. Yeah, you wouldn't actually do the math as a group or ask the player to figure his own probability (or at least I wouldn't). I just do that bit in my head in about 2 seconds and we're ready to go.

The point with open task resolution is that you decide how great an impact attributes, race, class, background, etcetera, have on the resolution of the task. Certainly, nothing precludes setting up a resolution system identical to the D20/3e one.

Mike_G
2008-09-24, 06:36 PM
Heh, heh. Surely, though, that's rather the point. If the percentile guidelines and DC procedure are more or less the same, then what's to choose between them? It's just going to be a matter of which is simpler forr the individual.


I can see that. I don't know anyone who thinks percentiles are easier to add and subtract than D20 results, though.



Ha, ha. Yeah, you wouldn't actually do the math as a group or ask the player to figure his own probability (or at least I wouldn't). I just do that bit in my head in about 2 seconds and we're ready to go.


But, do you tell me my chance and give me the option to try or not, or do you say "Roll percentile. 68? Sorry, you fall to your death."

In real life, I can look at a rocky cliff and think, "yeah, I could probably climb that." or "I'm pretty sure I could make that jump." or "I might be able to reach that window ledge, if I get really lucky." I know how good I am at climbing or jumping or whatever. So should my character. I can practice and improve my odds IRL. My character can devote Skill points and Feats in 3/4 e. That's the nice thing about a defined skill system where I can look at the sheet and know I have +5 to Jump, and know why I have +5 while the thief acrobat has + 15 and the plate armored Dwarf Fighter who thinks skill points are for sissies has -3.




The point with open task resolution is that you decide how great an impact attributes, race, class, background, etcetera, have on the resolution of the task. Certainly, nothing precludes setting up a resolution system identical to the D20/3e one.

But, first, that's more work for the DM. I can use the 3e system as is, or I can say I think halflings should be penalized to Jump, or armor check penalty should be modified for strong character or whatever. As a player, I like knowing up front that the DM thinks Elves should be better at climbing, as that may influence my choices, should my idea of an Elven Ranger differ from the DM's.

The fact that the 4e rules are more detailed doesn't mean they're harder, or more involved or more complex or take longer. "Pull something out of your @$$" is one simple sentence (and pretty much the 1e answer) but it doesn't mean that you will have to do less work that the multi-paragraph 4e method.

I've seen the "Pull something out of your ***" approach lead to more argument, debate and negotiation than any black and white rule. Well, except for Alignment, but that was a bad idea back in 1979.

Matthew
2008-09-24, 06:55 PM
I can see that. I don't know anyone who thinks percentiles are easier to add and subtract than D20 results, though.

Just something that people get used to one way or the other, I think. Of course, not everyone finds the same thing easy. Our group used to play a game where everything was handled using percentiles; we tried it backwards and forwards and never really found one way to be better or easier than another.



But, do you tell me my chance and give me the option to try or not, or do you say "Roll percentile. 68? Sorry, you fall to your death."

In real life, I can look at a rocky cliff and think, "yeah, I could probably climb that." or "I'm pretty sure I could make that jump." or "I might be able to reach that window ledge, if I get really lucky." I know how good I am at climbing or jumping or whatever. So should my character. I can practice and improve my odds IRL. My character can devote Skill points and Feats in 3/4 e. That's the nice thing about a defined skill system where I can look at the sheet and know I have +5 to Jump, and know why I have +5 while the thief acrobat has + 15 and the plate armored Dwarf Fighter who thinks skill points are for sissies has -3.

You can do it any way you like in terms of communicating with the player. I often just use verbal descriptors to relate the difficulty, but if they want to know the percentage chance then I supply that and any other information desired. I find the DC system to too often gives ridiculous results, and I find the way skill points scale by level to be annoying.



But, first, that's more work for the DM. I can use the 3e system as is, or I can say I think halflings should be penalized to Jump, or armor check penalty should be modified for strong character or whatever. As a player, I like knowing up front that the DM thinks Elves should be better at climbing, as that may influence my choices, should my idea of an Elven Ranger differ from the DM's.

The fact that the 4e rules are more detailed doesn't mean they're harder, or more involved or more complex or take longer. "Pull something out of your @$$" is one simple sentence (and pretty much the 1e answer) but it doesn't mean that you will have to do less work that the multi-paragraph 4e method.

I've seen the "Pull something out of your ***" approach lead to more argument, debate and negotiation than any black and white rule. Well, except for Alignment, but that was a bad idea back in 1979.

Heh, heh. Not at all. An open approach to task resolution just means that you are free to resolve things as you wish. If you want a more structured process than you are better off using one. I find it to be a lot less work than the book keeping of D20/3e and much more reliable in terms of resulting in reasonable percentages for when such things are necessary. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, though, and that's something I recognise in the success of D20/3e. It was definitely what the majority of gamers wanted, even if it isn't a system I am particularly happy with.

Whether the game master tells you up front that elves are good/bad at climbing isn't a function of edition. Whether there is or is not anything written in the books about it, he will have to decide one way or another.

It all depends on the relationship between the group and the game master, though. I have been playing in two play by post basic and advanced games in recent months where an open approach is taken to task resolution. I am yet to see any problems in those groups. Similarly, I use this method when playing at the tabletop with virtually no problems. On the other hand, I can imagine it leading to bloody murder in other groups. It takes all sorts.

Going back to the question of why the "training wheels" are a hindrance in the long run, which I forgot to reorganise my thoughts about...



In short, the "training wheels" of 4e are not welded into the frame. 4e provides a detailed system which has taken out all the guesswork you had to develop to use 1e, but it does not forbid you from using that 1e aesthetic any more than the weapon speed rules forbade you from ignoring them.

I am curious to hear more about how these "training wheels" are a hindrance for experienced DMs. I, for one, have never found them constraining - even in 3e - because I could simply ignore rules which I disliked.

I think it's probably a matter of expectations being built off the rules, rather than a conception of the imagined reality. The rules of the game often over rule a player's conception of realism. The ten foot pit and the mail armoured fighter are a good example. Sometimes the game master will look at this in advance and say "that's stupid, here's a new rule", sometimes he will not. However, what makes it more difficult is that you essentially have to deprogramme the players so that their expectations are not based on the rules of the game, but reasonable expectations of what would happen in a more or less "realistic universe". Often the rules appear to be a substitute for "physics" and once these are hardcoded into the game they become the expectations of the players.

Mike_G
2008-09-24, 07:21 PM
You can do it any way you like in terms of communicating with the player. I often just use verbal descriptors to relate the difficulty, but if they want to know the percentage chance then I supply that and any other information desired.


I just think a character should have a general idea of his capabilities. That's tough without a defined system.



I find the DC system to too often gives ridiculous results, and I find the way skill points scale by level to be annoying.


I sorta agree with the scaling issue in 3e. I like 4e's approach of "everyone gets +1 per two levels, just because it eliminates the issues where you have the maxed out guys always succeed and the non maxed out guys always fail. In theory I think roll + bonuses vs DC is a fine thing, as good as any other nonscientific probability, and certainly good enough for a D&D game.

I could see a good argument for a bell curve as opposed to a flat 1-20 or 1-100 distribution.



Heh, heh. Not at all. An open approach to task resolution just means that you are free to resolve things as you wish. If you want a more structured process than you are better off using one. I find it to be a lot less work than the book keeping of D20/3e and much more reliable in terms of resulting in reasonable percentages for when such things are necessary. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, though, and that's something I recognise in the success of D20/3e. It was definitely what the majority of gamers wanted, even if it isn't a system I am particularly happy with.

I find it's more work to make stuff up on the fly, and it's certainly less consistent. That matters with my group because we rotate DM's, and if you want to do a lot of Errol Flynn/Jackie Chan stuff, you don't want to be great at it when Mike's DMing and lousy when Becky's DMing, just because they have different ideas if what's a reasonable chance for a fantasy character to swash his buckle.

DM Raven
2008-09-24, 07:27 PM
Heh, heh. Not at all. An open approach to task resolution just means that you are free to resolve things as you wish. If you want a more structured process than you are better off using one. I find it to be a lot less work than the book keeping of D20/3e and much more reliable in terms of resulting in reasonable percentages for when such things are necessary. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, though, and that's something I recognise in the success of D20/3e. It was definitely what the majority of gamers wanted, even if it isn't a system I am particularly happy with.


I would still argue that just about any rule system can be tailored to produce the type of game experience you're talking about. I see a rule system like a toolbox in my garage. If I want to change the oil in my car, I will fish out whatever tools I need from the box and use them as appropriate to accomplish the job. If I need to change my transmission, different tools will be required to accomplish the task. But in either case, I have more tools at my disposal to accomplished my ends. If I only keep three wrenches in my toolbox, any work I attempt to do on my car will be much more difficult to accomplish.

Now obviously DMing a scene is not as straightforward as changing your oil, so you don't always need specific tools to accomplish the task...however having them around doesn't hurt. True your players have more ammunition to argue with you, however you are the DM and you have final say in the matter. And once you've been playing with people long enough they start to trust your judgement more and deal with on the fly changes you make.

Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with using any system you're confortable with. I've DM/GMed using both vague and more rule-intensive systems. But I would say that more rules does not interfere with the storytelling aspect of a game.

DCs function to make the world understandable for players so they can figure out what tasks their characters can and can't accomplish. For example, if I know nothing about rock-climbing and you describe a cliff to me...I won't really know my character's chances of being able to climb said cliff. My character might know if you described the cliff to him...but I wouldn't unless you actually told me the difficulty (easy, hard, ect) of said climb. Now if you tell me the DC of a climb, I can look at the numbers on my sheet and easily figure out if the climb is beyond my character's skill level. Or, you could be a jerk DM and tell your players something like "around 15" or "around 20" so they never know exactly what they need.

Matthew
2008-09-24, 07:33 PM
I just think a character should have a general idea of his capabilities. That's tough without a defined system.

Well, its tough to express in numerical form without a defined system, but I have never really had much of a problem with it. I guess it depends whether you want very differentiated characters (in numerical terms).



I sorta agree with the scaling issue in 3e. I like 4e's approach of "everyone gets +1 per two levels, just because it eliminates the issues where you have the maxed out guys always succeed and the non maxed out guys always fail. In theory I think roll + bonuses vs DC is a fine thing, as good as any other nonscientific probability, and certainly good enough for a D&D game.

I could see a good argument for a bell curve as opposed to a flat 1-20 or 1-100 distribution.

As I say, lots of people really like the DC system. It's not for me, though, nor even the much simplified C&C SIEGE system.



I find it's more work to make stuff up on the fly, and it's certainly less consistent. That matters with my group because we rotate DM's, and if you want to do a lot of Errol Flynn/Jackie Chan stuff, you don't want to be great at it when Mike's DMing and lousy when Becky's DMing, just because they have different ideas if what's a reasonable chance for a fantasy character to swash his buckle.

Sure, if you are rorating game masters with different expectations of normality, but want a default standard that they are otherwise incapable of adhering to, your only option is to create structured rules and ensuring that they are followed. I imagine I would find that... suffocating, and probably be constantly wanting to change the rules to more closely accord with my expectations. Control freakery, I am sure. :smallbiggrin:



I would still argue that just about any rule system can be tailored to produce the type of game experience you're talking about. I see a rule system like a toolbox in my garage. If I want to change the oil in my car, I will fish out whatever tools I need from the box and use them as appropriate to accomplish the job. If I need to change my transmission, different tools will be required to accomplish the task. But in either case, I have more tools at my disposal to accomplished my ends. If I only keep three wrenches in my toolbox, any work I attempt to do on my car will be much more difficult to accomplish.

Any rule system can be changed. However, some tools are simly better than others, and I prefer to use those rather than less suitable ones.



Now obviously DMing a scene is not as straightforward as changing your oil, so you don't always need specific tools to accomplish the task...however having them around doesn't hurt. True your players have more ammunition to argue with you, however you are the DM and you have final say in the matter. And once you've been playing with people long enough they start to trust your judgement more and deal with on the fly changes you make.

It can hurt if the players expect you to use a particular tool, and you don't think it's the best one for the job. If their only reason is that it's because it's what the manual recommends then it may even harm the game, setting the game master and players at odds.



Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with using any system you're confortable with. I've DM/GMed using both vague and more rule-intensive systems. But I would say that more rules does not interfere with the storytelling aspect of a game.

I would tend to disagree, but I think that's a slightly different point. Some tools grant a greater degree of narrative freedom than others.



DCs function to make the world understandable for players so they can figure out what tasks their characters can and can't accomplish. For example, if I know nothing about rock-climbing and you describe a cliff to me...I won't really know my character's chances of being able to climb said cliff. My character might know if you described the cliff to him...but I wouldn't unless you actually told me the difficulty (easy, hard, ect) of said climb. Now if you tell me the DC of a climb, I can look at the numbers on my sheet and easily figure out if the climb is beyond my character's skill level. Or, you could be a jerk DM and tell your players something like "around 15" or "around 20" so they never know exactly what they need.

And you won't find me arguing that a prescribed and structured ruleset does not create expectations for players; it certainly does. I am actually opposed to rules that create these sorts of mathematical expectations, though, especially when they are technically still vulnerable to circumstance modifiers (which a lot of folks seem to feel are unfair or arbitrary because they conflict with their structured expectations).

Mike_G
2008-09-24, 07:42 PM
Well, its tough to express in numerical form without a defined system, but I have never really had much of a problem with it. I guess it depends whether you want very differentiated characters (in numerical terms).


It's more or less that I want my choices to matter. I want a better chance to climb because I burned a feat or skill points on it, or took a class that doesn't get spells.

Maybe I'm a stickler about the actions because I tend to play swashbuckling types, and I want to shine at my thing, not have arbitrary chances assigned that may not give me much better odds than the fat, asthmatic mage with the muscle tone of a beanbag chair. he has clear rules about what his spells can do that I can't emulate, why can't I have "swinging from the rafters" guidelines than he can't come near?



As I say, lots of people really like the DC system. It's not for me, though, nor even the much simplified C&C SIEGE system.


Sure, if you are rotating game masters with different expectations of normality, but want a default standard that they are otherwise incapable of adhering to, your only option is to create structured rules and ensuring that they are followed. I imagine I would find that... suffocating, and probably be constantly wanting to change the rules to more closely accord with my expectations. Control freakery, I am sure. :smallbiggrin:

I just balance my control freakery with my desire to sometimes be a player and not a DM.

When I had more time, I did a lot of rules tinkering to build a game in my own image. Now, I'm too old, too busy and too tired. I like to play out of the box.

Matthew
2008-09-24, 07:51 PM
It's more or less that I want my choices to matter. I want a better chance to climb because I burned a feat or skill points on it, or took a class that doesn't get spells.

Maybe I'm a stickler about the actions because I tend to play swashbuckling types, and I want to shine at my thing, not have arbitrary chances assigned that may not give me much better odds than the fat, asthmatic mage with the muscle tone of a beanbag chair. he has clear rules about what his spells can do that I can't emulate, why can't I have "swinging from the rafters" guidelines than he can't come near?

Yeah, that's the character building aspect of RPGs that I am just not interested in. As far as I can see, the swinging from the rafters guidelines are simply a function of the group's expectations. I don't mind the idea that one game master will want it to be easy and another difficult.




I just balance my control freakery with my desire to sometimes be a player and not a DM.

When I had more time, I did a lot of rules tinkering to build a game in my own image. Now, I'm too old, too busy and too tired. I like to play out of the box.
Heh. As I say, I used to be quite into very heavily structured game rules governing every aspect of play, hundreds of skills, difficulty ratings for various tasks, etcetera. Now, I balance my control freakery by not bringing it to other people's table. :smallbiggrin:

To put it another way, I prefer them to run the game the way they want to run it.

Knaight
2008-09-24, 08:26 PM
The thing is that a lot of the time, the extra steps in 3e+ are strangely counter-productive. If a character wants to, say, run up a fallen roof beam and jump over the wall into the river, I may think to myself "oh, maybe 30% chance given the smoke, the burning oil on the beam and the fact that they have a Dex of 8". The player then rolls d% and we see what happens.

If I want to translate that into "official" 3e/4e speak, I have to try to work out what DC gives the desired chance for that character. What's the point of that extra calcuation? As the DM, if I have an idea of the difficulty I can go straight to the percentage; and if I don't then I can't pick a DC instead because I've not decided on the difficulty!

Its not necessarily an extra calculation however, its just deciding the difficulty and not worrying about the character abilities. The thing is that the numbers are totally arbitraty(as is percentile, but we're used to that so it bothers us less, if you get used to the d20 arbitrary numbers its easier), which can make it difficult, the plain difficulty thing is faster when not using arbitrary numbers(Anything with a word scale is so incredibly easy its not even funny. If someone wants to run up a wall with smoke and oil around them, its a great feat of agility. In fudge thats all you have to do, and the word scale shows up in other places periodically as well, with different words.)

As for swinging from the rafter guidelines, if your just deciding the difficulty of the task, the chances take care of themselves, and the difficulty is probably going to vary depending on how realistic the setting is. Whether its easy or difficult doesn't matter, what matters is it being easier for a former acrobat than for mage McButterfingers. Sometimes neither of them have the chance(your trying to grab a spiderweb and swing on it? Seriously?) sometimes both of them can't fail(and this pole at perfect height that is magnetized with grips on it is right in front of you, while you have metal on your hands), skill should matter in the middle.

As for the character building aspect your not interested in, you do realize that sounds like you don't care about non-combat skills rather than not caring about how hard individual GMs decide to make things right? I'm thinking you meant system building. This is the advantage of a system such as 3.5, with the difficulty coming from arbitrary numbers. Then there is 4.0 and its scaling difficulty that throws it out the window, but it kept the core point. This is actually how most games handle it, whether its how many dice you get to roll and look for doubles, how few dice you get to roll when praying you don't roll a 1 and fail automatically, what die you get to roll against the difficulty, or the 3.x, 4e, Fudge, Fate, Gurps(I think) roll then add modifiers(although in Fudge and Fate most people add the modifiers to the skill level due to the whole +4 to -4 rolled skill ladder business).

Matthew
2008-09-24, 08:31 PM
As for swinging from the rafter guidelines, if your just deciding the difficulty of the task, the chances take care of themselves, and the difficulty is probably going to vary depending on how realistic the setting is. Whether its easy or difficult doesn't matter, what matters is it being easier for a former acrobat than for mage McButterfingers. Sometimes neither of them have the chance(your trying to grab a spiderweb and swing on it? Seriously?) sometimes both of them can't fail(and this pole at perfect height that is magnetized with grips on it is right in front of you, while you have metal on your hands), skill should matter in the middle.

It's up to the group to decide if the magician is better/worse than the fighter, based on their conception of that character.



As for the character building aspect your not interested in, you do realize that sounds like you don't care about non-combat skills rather than not caring about how hard individual GMs decide to make things right? I'm thinking you meant system building. This is the advantage of a system such as 3.5, with the difficulty coming from arbitrary numbers. Then there is 4.0 and its scaling difficulty that throws it out the window, but it kept the core point. This is actually how most games handle it, whether its how many dice you get to roll and look for doubles, how few dice you get to roll when praying you don't roll a 1 and fail automatically, what die you get to roll against the difficulty, or the 3.x, 4e, Fudge, Fate, Gurps(I think) roll then add modifiers(although in Fudge and Fate most people add the modifiers to the skill level due to the whole +4 to -4 rolled skill ladder business).

I am not interested in the explicit numerisation of non combat skills for D&D, such as jumping, climbing, swimming, etecetra; that is correct. I used to be very interested in it, but I have since found it unsuitable and too limiting. I am still fine with using such things for other skill based systems though.

EvilElitest
2008-09-24, 10:23 PM
infection from wounds
from
EE

Worira
2008-09-24, 10:27 PM
...different ideas if what's a reasonable chance for a fantasy character to swash his buckle.

Swashing one's own buckle ought to be pretty easy. And probably not a very good idea.

horseboy
2008-09-25, 01:24 AM
I think it's probably a matter of expectations being built off the rules, rather than a conception of the imagined reality. The rules of the game often over rule a player's conception of realism. The ten foot pit and the mail armoured fighter are a good example. Sometimes the game master will look at this in advance and say "that's stupid, here's a new rule", sometimes he will not. However, what makes it more difficult is that you essentially have to deprogram the players so that their expectations are not based on the rules of the game, but reasonable expectations of what would happen in a more or less "realistic universe". Often the rules appear to be a substitute for "physics" and once these are hardcoded into the game they become the expectations of the players.Ah, the joys of trying to deprogram players. Just to pull a Devil's Advocate, the problem then becomes what if the GM's ignorant? Does the GM actually know or does he just think he knows. Of course, this leads to one of the best parts of the night, the "go out back and demonstrate that it's not as hard as you think," portion of the game. Hours of fun for everyone there. Having some numbers to base areas you don't know about can be pretty handy.

Heh. As I say, I used to be quite into very heavily structured game rules governing every aspect of play, hundreds of skills, difficulty ratings for various tasks, etcetera. Now, I balance my control freakery by not bringing it to other people's table. :smallbiggrin:Hehehe, there's just something about typing up a character and having it 8 pages long, then realize you left off her Situation Awareness: Toilet Seat Position and wonder if maybe, just maybe you've gone too far.

nagora
2008-09-25, 02:50 AM
I just think a character should have a general idea of his capabilities. That's tough without a defined system.
If you play from 1st level then it's not, IME. And the DM can always say "You feel pretty confident" or "You think there's very little chance", which is preferable to "You need a 16" anyway.


I could see a good argument for a bell curve as opposed to a flat 1-20 or 1-100 distribution.
Generally agree.


I find it's more work to make stuff up on the fly,
I find that it's less work if you want the result to suit the situation reasonably. If you want a bad approximation which gives freakish results, then the DC system is certainly faster.


and it's certainly less consistent.
Life is often inconsistant.


That matters with my group because we rotate DM's, and if you want to do a lot of Errol Flynn/Jackie Chan stuff, you don't want to be great at it when Mike's DMing and lousy when Becky's DMing, just because they have different ideas if what's a reasonable chance for a fantasy character to swash his buckle.
This is one reason why I don't like rotating DMs within the same set of characters, but I don't think the problems are limited to spontaneous task systems; DM style affects a lot more.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 08:47 AM
Ah, the joys of trying to deprogram players. Just to pull a Devil's Advocate, the problem then becomes what if the GM's ignorant? Does the GM actually know or does he just think he knows. Of course, this leads to one of the best parts of the night, the "go out back and demonstrate that it's not as hard as you think," portion of the game. Hours of fun for everyone there. Having some numbers to base areas you don't know about can be pretty handy.

Quite so, and I won't say that's never happened, though we weren't playing D&D at the time... Numbers provide common ground in advance of speaking with the game master or actually playing the game. They also provide a frame of reference for knowing when the game master is being inconsistant without having to ask him. I don't necessarily consider any of that to be desirable, but there are certainly group dynamics where it is.



Hehehe, there's just something about typing up a character and having it 8 pages long, then realize you left off her Situation Awareness: Toilet Seat Position and wonder if maybe, just maybe you've gone too far.

Worse when you don't have enough character points left to pee straight... :smallbiggrin:

Yakk
2008-09-25, 09:44 AM
Yeah, that's the character building aspect of RPGs that I am just not interested in. As far as I can see, the swinging from the rafters guidelines are simply a function of the group's expectations. I don't mind the idea that one game master will want it to be easy and another difficult.
Sure -- except what if one player wants to create a character who can swing from rafters, dance on the head of a pin, and walk on the backs of flying butterflies?

If being able to do this is determined by the fiat of the DM, you have just stripped the player of agency when building the fiction of their character.


I guess it depends whether you want very differentiated characters (in numerical terms).
So you are OK with a swashbuckling character saying "I cast Fireball, which was taught to me on my grandfather's knee"?

Being able to cast spells is a character feature that a player creating a wizard made the fiction of their character contain. Similarly, swinging from rafters is a character feature that a swashbuckling character made the fiction of the character contain.

In D&D, the "can cast spells" fiction is delt with by, well, having a character with a spell list and the ability to cast spells.

And the swinging from the rafters is via the skill system.

The point of the DC system is the create a set of rules around which the 'swinging from the rafters' PC can build their character to create the fiction that the player wants. If you simply state "well, that feels like a 30%", then the only capability the player has to impact their ability to swing from the rafters is the "use out-of-game social skills to make the DM agree with your estimation of your character's abilities".

However, you admit to being a control freak -- which means _the players lack control_. Hence -- your decision not to give the players the tools to be able to shape the fiction of their characters, and decision to strip player agency, is understandable. Be aware of what you are doing, however.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 09:49 AM
Sure -- except what if one player wants to create a character who can swing from rafters, dance on the head of a pin, and walk on the backs of flying butterflies?

If being able to do this is determined by the fiat of the DM, you have just stripped the player of agency when building the fiction of their character.

No, that's what a character class is for. Of course, if you play with jerks, then you may get exactly this situation. Player agency is present in how they play the game, not how they build the character. Roll the dice, select a race and class, and we're ready to play.



So you are OK with a swashbuckling character saying "I cast Fireball, which was taught to me on my grandfather's knee"?

Being able to cast spells is a character feature that a player creating a wizard made the fiction of their character contain. Similarly, swinging from rafters is a character feature that a swashbuckling character made the fiction of the character contain.

In D&D, the "can cast spells" fiction is delt with by, well, having a character with a spell list and the ability to cast spells.

And the swinging from the rafters is via the skill system.

The point of the DC system is the create a set of rules around which the 'swinging from the rafters' PC can build their character to create the fiction that the player wants. If you simply state "well, that feels like a 30%", then the only capability the player has to impact their ability to swing from the rafters is the "use out-of-game social skills to make the DM agree with your estimation of your character's abilities".

However, you admit to being a control freak -- which means _the players lack control_. Hence -- your decision not to give the players the tools to be able to shape the fiction of their characters, and decision to strip player agency, is understandable. Be aware of what you are doing, however.
Oh please. Again, this is all about character classes, archetypes, and reasonable expectations. Whether you control the game or not, doesn't preclude it being run in a fair manner. No, the players never have any control over how difficult a rock face is to climb, but neither do they in D20.

I know what the point is in the DC system, I find it lacking. Swing from the rafters, don't swing from the rafters, the difficulty is determined by the game master in any D&D system. By means of circumstance modifiers I can be a **** about it in D20 as much as in AD&D.

People play the game they want to play. If the group wants fighters who can cast fireballs and blow smoke out of their arses, that's up to them to decide. If it is agreeable within the group, then there's no need to oppose it (and yes, the group includes the game master).

I assure you, I have complete awareness of how I choose to play the game.

Yakk
2008-09-25, 10:18 AM
Except, when the DM makes up percentages on the fly, the DM can be a fool about it _without even realizing they are being a fool about it_.

Yes, you can free-form roleplay. It works.

But why make the character pick a class in that case?

It is the old "roll a d20 -- oh, you rolled low, so you failed. Oh you rolled high, so it succeeds" pattern. Sure, it is quick and easy -- but it means that the player has no control over it.

If the DM decides these things by setting a target number that approximates how hard it seems to the DM that the task is, and the player has control over the bonuses that the character has when doing that kind of task, the agency of success is split into two parts -- and both have impact on how the situation unfolds.

That is an example of player agency.

Under a system where the DM sets the percent chance, via fiat, based on the DM's view of the character (and not the player's view of the character, except as how the player has communicated it to the DM and the DM remembers it), the player has less agency over the fiction that the character is involved in.

And I understand that a control freak wouldn't find that comfortable. The player having some additional control over the game fiction isn't something you desire.

In short -- why bother with hit chances, defenses, spells, weapons, etc? Because, in theory, they turn a game of "the DM tells a story" into a game where the DM and the Players get together and produce a fiction.

This doesn't prevent the DM from throwing monsters so tough at the player's character's that they cannot hit the monsters. This doesn't prevent the DM from saying "rocks fall, everyone dies". But it provides tools so that the DM is less likely to do that _accidentally_, ie, not on purpose.

The character building mechanisms allow a player to take the image they have of a character, and write it down in a way that both he and the DM can understand, without having to spend 20 years sharing the experience of the back-story of the character and having perfect recall of it.

You can see this evolve in 3e and into 4e. In 3e, there are static DCs that let a player understand what kind of tasks a character with X skill modifier can do reliably. In 4e, there are per-level DCs that describe how reliably a character with X skill modifier can succeed at easy/medium and hard challenges to the skill.

4e doesn't provide the "at level Y, challenge X should be easy, W should be medium, and Z should be hard". It leaves that to the DM.

But at least it lets the DM attempt to pick a difficulty without taking the particular choices of a character into account, thus freeing the player to have impact on the character fiction.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 10:36 AM
Except, when the DM makes up percentages on the fly, the DM can be a fool about it _without even realizing they are being a fool about it_.

If you use DCs you can be a fool about it and never know it. There's no difference except in where you put the responsibility for being a fool.



Yes, you can free-form roleplay. It works.

But why make the character pick a class in that case?

Just because you have specific rules for one thing, doesn't necessitate having specific rules for everything. Classes give you basic archetypes and set progressions; how you want to use them is up to you.



It is the old "roll a d20 -- oh, you rolled low, so you failed. Oh you rolled high, so it succeeds" pattern. Sure, it is quick and easy -- but it means that the player has no control over it.

If the DM decides these things by setting a target number that approximates how hard it seems to the DM that the task is, and the player has control over the bonuses that the character has when doing that kind of task, the agency of success is split into two parts -- and both have impact on how the situation unfolds.

You are either misunderstanding, or you are missing the point. The only choice the player has on facing a DC is whether to attempt the task or not, the same is true if he is faced with an arbitrary chance of success or failure (or a degree of success of failure within that binary outcome).



Under a system where the DM sets the percent chance, via fiat, based on the DM's view of the character (and not the player's view of the character, except as how the player has communicated it to the DM and the DM remembers it), the player has less agency over the fiction that the character is involved in.

There is no agency apart from whether the player builds a character to have bonuses or not. I can build a fighter in D20 and place his skill points and attributes in such a way that he will get bonuses to climbing, jumping, swimming, whatever... I can give him feats so he can ride a horse in battle without fear of falling off. The game master can always over rule my bonuses by slapping circumstance penalties on me (if he's a jerk). Alternatively, I can just assume that the character is competent at such things, and the game master can either be a jerk about it or not.



And I understand that a control freak wouldn't find that comfortable. The player having some additional control over the game fiction isn't something you desire.

Did I say I was a control freak? Perhaps in jest. I have tendencies towards control freakery, everybody does to one extent or another (indeed, I would suggest that wanting explicit rules for every action and methods for increasing or decreasing skills is itself evidence of control freakery). Whether I change the rules of D20 to accomodate my views of "realism" or I make things up on the fly based on my views of realism doesn't make a half penny bit of difference. I have no interest in having the rules for jumping dictated to me by a rule set that fails to handle such matters in (what I regard as) a realistic manner.



In short -- why bother with hit chances, defenses, spells, weapons, etc? Because, in theory, they turn a game of "the DM tells a story" into a game where the DM and the Players get together and produce a fiction.

You are ignoring the decision element on the part of the players.



This doesn't prevent the DM from throwing monsters so tough at the player's character's that they cannot hit the monsters. This doesn't prevent the DM from saying "rocks fall, everyone dies". But it provides tools so that the DM is less likely to do that _accidentally_, ie, not on purpose.

I don't agree. I do think D20 is set up for novice game masters, but I don't think it really does much to prevent them being jerks. It just gives the players more reason to cry foul about it.



The character building mechanisms allow a player to take the image they have of a character, and write it down in a way that both he and the DM can understand, without having to spend 20 years sharing the experience of the back-story of the character and having perfect recall of it.

I understand what the mechanisms are there for. I find them too limiting (where's all my fighter skill points?) and to too often result in unreasonable outcomes.



You can see this evolve in 3e and into 4e. In 3e, there are static DCs that let a player understand what kind of tasks a character with X skill modifier can do reliably. In 4e, there are per-level DCs that describe how reliably a character with X skill modifier can succeed at easy/medium and hard challenges to the skill.

Telling the player before playing the game that difficult rock faces require DC 20 to climb, and that a character with 4 ranks in Climb has a 25% chance of climbing the cliff is no different in terms of expectations than saying "climbing a difficult cliff has a 25% chance of success." The only difference is whether you can get better at it or not in discrete numerical terms by level (which is a terrible mechanism for advancing mundane skills, espcially by 5% increments). If there is a real need for one fighter to be a better climber than another, then you can discuss it in advance (or you can allow attributes to influence it in some way).



4e doesn't provide the "at level Y, challenge X should be easy, W should be medium, and Z should be hard". It leaves that to the DM.

But at least it lets the DM attempt to pick a difficulty without taking the particular choices of a character into account, thus freeing the player to have impact on the character fiction.

Again, what this basically comes down to is "I like to build characters". What I am saying is "I am not interested in that aspect of RPGs with regard to D&D". I used to be very into it, but I never found it increased player agency in the game, more often it imposed arbitrary limits on what their characters could do. I'll take narrative freedom over character builds any time.

Not to mention that you still have to ask the game master's permission to use 90% of the options available to build your character.

nagora
2008-09-25, 11:15 AM
Sure -- except what if one player wants to create a character who can swing from rafters, dance on the head of a pin, and walk on the backs of flying butterflies?

If being able to do this is determined by the fiat of the DM, you have just stripped the player of agency when building the fiction of their character.
So what? If the DM says that characters can't flap their arms and fly to the moon should the player throw a strop? It's the DM's world and if they decide character can dance on the head of a pin then they can; if not then they can't.

It's not the player's world.

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 12:34 PM
If you play from 1st level then it's not, IME. And the DM can always say "You feel pretty confident" or "You think there's very little chance", which is preferable to "You need a 16" anyway.


I'm fine with that, but at some point the DM needs to turn that into a numerical chance.




I find that it's less work if you want the result to suit the situation reasonably. If you want a bad approximation which gives freakish results, then the DC system is certainly faster.




So, please, either you or Matthew explain how a base 25% chance, before you consider character abilities is any different from a DC 16

If I think Joe average has about a 30% chance to do a thing, untrained, that's DC 15. With average stats and no skill points, he should succeed 30% of the time. Now if he's playing 3e and has a Climb of + 10 (16 Str and 7 ranks, max for a 4th level PC) he'll succeed 80% of the time.

In 1e, considering a 4th level thief, or character one assumes to have maxed his Climb, with a high Str, and the same cliff that Joe Sixpack has a 30% with, how different are your numbers?

I don't see the DC system as all that out of whack. Sure, maybe if Sir Edmund Freaking Hillary is the DM he has a better idea of what a Climb chance should be, but for me, that works fine. It establishes a baseline, gives stronger, better trained characters a better chance, and still allows for you, as DM to fudge the numbers to your heart's content.




Life is often inconsistant.


My chance to climb a given wall, or Jump a given distance isn't.

Or there'd be a lot of dead acrobats





This is one reason why I don't like rotating DMs within the same set of characters, but I don't think the problems are limited to spontaneous task systems; DM style affects a lot more.

In theory I agree.

In practice, none of us want to spend every session chained behind the DM screen. It's a compromise, and yes, it extends far beyond this issue, but having a nice consistent system helps avoid the pitfall of the guy who always succeeds when I DM and never when someone else does.

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 12:35 PM
infection from wounds
from
EE


What, by the Sacred Jockstrap of Robert E Howard, does that have to do with this thread?

Jayabalard
2008-09-25, 12:46 PM
I'm fine with that, but at some point the DM needs to turn that into a numerical chance.I can't see why; you don't know the numerical chance of the things that you do... all you can do is guess.


Or there'd be a lot of dead acrobatsThere are lots of dead acrobats. I would guess that 99% of the acrobats who have ever lived are currently dead.

Even the living ones don't know a numerical chance of success or failure.

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 12:53 PM
I can't see why; you don't know the numerical chance of the things that you do... all you can do is guess.

There are lots of dead acrobats. I would guess that 99% of the acrobats who have ever lived are currently dead.

Even the living ones don't know a numerical chance of success or failure.


The player doesn't really need to kn ow the numerical chance.

He should have an idea of how tough it will be.

The DM needs to know a number, whether he says "Roll percentile. You need a 30" or "Beat a DC 15" or "It looks pretty tough. You might make it, but you're not really sure."

I don't see how the 3e DC guidelines are any worse at generating that chance than the "Reach up my butt" approach that seems to be the gold standard for the AD&D faithful.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 12:59 PM
So, please, either you or Matthew explain how a base 25% chance, before you consider character abilities is any different from a DC 16

There is absolutely no difference, except that the modifiers move up and down in 5% increments.



If I think Joe average has about a 30% chance to do a thing, untrained, that's DC 15. With average stats and no skill points, he should succeed 30% of the time. Now if he's playing 3e and has a Climb of + 10 (16 Str and 7 ranks, max for a 4th level PC) he'll succeed 80% of the time.

In 1e, considering a 4th level thief, or character one assumes to have maxed his Climb, with a high Str, and the same cliff that Joe Sixpack has a 30% with, how different are your numbers?

That's the variance difference that annoys the crap out of me. A +35% chance from training to climb, paid for from character building points just seems crazy to me. The idea that as characters advance in level they become better climbers doesn't sit well with me at all, but this goes back to the 1e PHB Ranger versus the 1e UA Ranger. The former has a flat 90% chance of tracking before conditions are taken into account, whilst the latters has [10% + (10% per level)]. That latter paradigm basically means that low level rangers suck at tracking and high level rangers rock at it. The variance is too great for my liking, and the D20 version is almost as bad, but extended to all skills.



I don't see the DC system as all that out of whack. Sure, maybe if Sir Edmund Freaking Hillary is the DM he has a better idea of what a Climb chance should be, but for me, that works fine. It establishes a baseline, gives stronger, better trained characters a better chance, and still allows for you, as DM to fudge the numbers to your heart's content.

Well, that has a lot to do with expectations. Within certain parameters it works okay, outside of those parameters it starts to suck, a lot. The old, "my fighter can't climb the tree" problem.

Personally, I just don't need the D20 DC system (nor the C&C SIEGE system), and if new players expect me to use it, then it becomes a hindrance to play.

Levels are primarily power ratings, and when you start linking them with skills, then you tend to start thinking of skills in terms of power and, often as not, combat contribution. It's why nobody takes Rope Use over something actually useful, [I]etcetera, ad nauseum.

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 06:13 PM
There is absolutely no difference, except that the modifiers move up and down in 5% increments.


That's the variance difference that annoys the crap out of me. A +35% chance from training to climb, paid for from character building points just seems crazy to me.


But a guy who's focused on climbing for four levels should be that muhc better, in my opinion. An experienced wilderness guide who trains regularly at climbing should be much better than Bob from Accounting, who has never put any effort into it..



The idea that as characters advance in level they become better climbers doesn't sit well with me at all, but this goes back to the 1e PHB Ranger versus the 1e UA Ranger. The former has a flat 90% chance of tracking before conditions are taken into account, whilst the latters has [10% + (10% per level)]. That latter paradigm basically means that low level rangers suck at tracking and high level rangers rock at it. The variance is too great for my liking, and the D20 version is almost as bad, but extended to all skills.


Well, if you are a Fighter, you fight better as you level. A wizard casts better, even an AD&D Thief pick pockets better. Why shouldn't a character who focuses on acrobatics get better as he levels?

An apprentice Ranger should have a worse chance to track than Aragorn.




Well, that has a lot to do with expectations. Within certain parameters it works okay, outside of those parameters it starts to suck, a lot. The old, "my fighter can't climb the tree" problem.

Personally, I just don't need the D20 DC system (nor the C&C SIEGE system), and if new players expect me to use it, then it becomes a hindrance to play.

Levels are primarily power ratings, and when you start linking them with skills, then you tend to start thinking of skills in terms of power and, often as not, combat contribution. It's why nobody takes Rope Use over something actually useful, [I]etcetera, ad nauseum.

Eh.

I think skills are part and parcel of power. They are a huge part of the Rogue's power, or the Ranger's. Just BSing skill use for these guys would be analogous to just BSing spells or attacks for a Wizard or Fighter, reducing their big contirbution to a vague arbuitrary ruling over which they had little control.

Maxing my Disable Device, or my Tumble is important to my Rogue, the same as choosing my spells is to a wizard.

Now, sure, the system is imperfect. Most classes don't have enough points to go around, nobody takes any cross class skills, or puts points into the lesser skills, but that doesn't mean the mechanic itself is flawed, just the point allocation.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 06:27 PM
But a guy who's focused on climbing for four levels should be that muhc better, in my opinion. An experienced wilderness guide who trains regularly at climbing should be much better than Bob from Accounting, who has never put any effort into it..

I don't agree. I don't think that sort of advancement should have anything to do with levels. Give him +10% to climb checks at character creation or during some down time when he practices climbing, but not +95% at a rate of 5% per level.



Well, if you are a Fighter, you fight better as you level. A wizard casts better, even an AD&D Thief pick pockets better. Why shouldn't a character who focuses on acrobatics get better as he levels?

An apprentice Ranger should have a worse chance to track than Aragorn.

I think we're hitting a fundamental disconnect here.



Eh.

I think skills are part and parcel of power. They are a huge part of the Rogue's power, or the Ranger's. Just BSing skill use for these guys would be analogous to just BSing spells or attacks for a Wizard or Fighter, reducing their big contirbution to a vague arbuitrary ruling over which they had little control.

Maxing my Disable Device, or my Tumble is important to my Rogue, the same as choosing my spells is to a wizard.

Now, sure, the system is imperfect. Most classes don't have enough points to go around, nobody takes any cross class skills, or puts points into the lesser skills, but that doesn't mean the mechanic itself is flawed, just the point allocation.

Yeah, we definitely have. Skills are just skills; climbing and jumping, and swimming don't relate to the combat ability of the character (at least in my view). A level one guy is a veteran. Guys who go higher than level one have more than one life energy level, they're awesome. Should Aragorn be a better tracker than Bob the 0 level tracker? Up to you, but it shouldn't be a function of level (in my book). 90% + 1% per level maybe? I could live with it, but I'd still want Bob the tracker to have the potential to be better at tracking than Aragorn without beng higher level.

I would draw a hard distinction between skills and "abilities". Tumble is a perfect example of a skill gone mad, and Disable Device a Thief Ability gone for a wander.

We'll never reach an agreement here, I suspect.

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 06:51 PM
We'll never reach an agreement here, I suspect.


Probably not, but at least we had a civil discussion on the net.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 06:53 PM
Probably not, but at least we had a civil discussion on the net.

Indeed! Always a pleasure. :smallbiggrin:

erikun
2008-09-25, 07:14 PM
It seems like the disconnect isn't with the concept of skills, or Difficulty Classes; rather, it's the rate at which just bonuses can be acquired.

Indeed, I have to agree with Matthew on this one. Being able to achieve +40 on a skill roll (the equilivant of +200%) seems a bit much, and a big part of the reason a lot of people dislike the 3e skill system. 4e helped out in this reguard somewhat, although if it was good enough is an opinion that differs from person to person.

It also look like Matthew doesn't like everything being stated out as a skill. Fair enough. Personally, I'd rather have something to roll if we want to randomly determine an outcome, at least beyond "40% on a d%".

horseboy
2008-09-25, 07:37 PM
Worse when you don't have enough character points left to pee straight... :smallbiggrin:Bah, it's not a disadvantage after the GM picks up the "Wind Direction Law" supplement. :smallwink:
Besides, the player does have input in a skill-less system on what his character can and can't do: The back story. You add an extra paragraph or so when you talk about your character's hobbies or beginning training. But yeah, I really do greatly dislike the skills system for 3.x.

Knaight
2008-09-25, 09:59 PM
I don't agree. I don't think that sort of advancement should have anything to do with levels. Give him +10% to climb checks at character creation or during some down time when he practices climbing, but not +95% at a rate of 5% per level.
Which is the advantage of the DC system, because it takes this into account, as opposed to pure percentage without skills, which doesn't do this automatically, meaning that there is more for the GM to remember. While I don't think skills should be tied to level, since that ties them to combat abilities which can be incongruous (there is no way to get past a certain point in acrobatics without simultaneously getting better at hitting someone. Huh?), thats what that +10% to climb checks is, its just not normally in the system. So if I want a better climber than normal, your method is just to give out a +10% here or there, which is functionally the same as the basics of what 3.x does with its DC mechanics which people get bonuses to their roll to. A professional climber gets a bonus to climb checks, as opposed to the GM takes into account how good of a climber they are when assigning a percentage, one of these has one arbitrary step, the other two, the only real advantage to percentage is that we are more used to it. There is a reason skill based games are as common as they are, and thats because of how well the DC system and other similar systems work at their most basic core concepts.

The connection to levels is incidental at most, its just that in a level based game it can make sense. If someone has acrobat as mountain climber as a class, they should be better acrobats and mountain climbers that are lower level. Or like many other games where combat is just another skill or skill set(often divided up by weapon), a master acrobat or climber has a higher bonus because they put more points into the acrobatics or climbing skill, which they get better at over time. A combatant probably puts higher points in combat skills, meaning less for acrobatics and such. Thats what that 10% would be like. Putting in that 10% bonus as a hard mechanic is basically making the DC system, just using hundred sided dice and maybe reversing it, much like Thaco and BAB are functionally the same just flipped. Its a simple extremely versatile subsystem that works for pretty much anything, you just need the relevant skill. The number is arbitrary, but they are supposed to correspond to different difficulties, you might say that it is a very hard cliff to climb, requiring a great feat of climbing, but a good climber might attempt it, where a mediocre climber wouldn't. So its DC 30, the good climber has 15 ranks, the mediocre climber 5. Its only that last step that makes it more difficult, which is due to more practice with a percentage system, meaning that with a percentile system or a word based system(all the terms other than very hard actually show up in Fudge, meaning that I would have just said that its a great feat of climbing, or very hard, and let people roll their good or mediocre skills), skill bonuses and difficulty class do work very well and are nice to have, and sometimes success and failure is automatic, which would be decided by the DCs, preventing the system from getting in the way. If the character can't dance on the head of a pin, then it has a DC of 50, and +10/-10 so that it accommodates size changes. If its a campaign where its possible, put in an easier to reach DC, such as 20.

Matthew
2008-09-25, 10:02 PM
I think you missed the point, Knaight. I'm not interested in giving out bonuses to climbing. If you really wanted to differentiate your fighter from all other fighters I wouldn't be hugely opposed to it (since it doesn't really matter one way or the other), but otherwise I am not interested in numerically rating the climbing skills of fighters, especially by level.

I wouldn't like to say why skill based games are as common as they are, but I know I am pretty sick of them, and don't consider them to be of much benefit in terms of narrative freedom, player character freedom, or even fun. They just seem to impose arbitrary limits to me, and encourage everything to have a combat role because of character resource allocation.

Here's my system for randomly determining the outcome of abstracted task resolution (it's very simple):

0% Impossible
10% Very Difficult
30% Difficult
50% Medium
70% Easy
90% Very easy
100% Automatic

I just don't see that it needs to be more complicated than that.

Knaight
2008-09-25, 10:34 PM
Funny, I routinely see combat skills as secondary, or even tertiary. For instance the sci fi game I'm in has someone with way more vested in vehicular stunts than combat. Vehicular stunts typically involving methods of getting away, although they are used to draw a crowd occasionally (impromptu airshows that were used to get someone into the crowd where they then stole a briefcase full of documents, and the occasional cash cow canyon jump.), someone else had athletic abilities such as climbing and swimming ahead of combat, and was able to escape combat numerous times by jumping into a river or getting up on the rooftops and skipping certain streets. Plus there are the people with professional skills at the forefront, and recon and stealth abilities(one person with corporate stuff, the other guy was basically an agricultural engineer with biology skills, and swimming and climbing and such were also above combat skills, as was covert stuff, and some vehicular skills regarding harvesters, all well before combat skills appeared. The guy had some basic combat training with a pistol, and thats about it.) If people have primarily combat skills it means combat is paramount in a game, not vice versa. Sure skills people have will shape a game in what they try(ie someone with corporate skills is far more likely to buy out people and hire assassins than go in with guns blazing when needing to take someone out, assuming that they don't just go the "make them bankrupt" route.)

Mike_G
2008-09-25, 10:41 PM
It seems like the disconnect isn't with the concept of skills, or Difficulty Classes; rather, it's the rate at which just bonuses can be acquired.

Indeed, I have to agree with Matthew on this one. Being able to achieve +40 on a skill roll (the equilivant of +200%) seems a bit much, and a big part of the reason a lot of people dislike the 3e skill system. 4e helped out in this reguard somewhat, although if it was good enough is an opinion that differs from person to person.


See, I think a 20th level Rogue who maxed Tumble should have a 200% better chance to make a given stunt than a 1st level commoner with a 10 Dex.

Olympic athletes can make jumps that I could never in my wildest dreams. What for me is impossible should be routine for them. Say DC 25. I couldn't possibly make that with my modest stats and no real training, but they should be able to do it easily, which requires them to have around +20 total. Now, I think the difference between Julio Scoundrel, Swashbuckling Pirate and Vaarsuvius, who spent his formative years learning to tell the laws of physics blah blah blah, should be as similar to that between me, a fairly athletic ex college fencer, and an olympic gymnast. Certainly more that the "+10% at character creation."

I also disagree with Matthew on advancement. I don't think PC's are complete at creation, I think they improve with experience. This is obvious with fighting and spellcasting, I think it should also be true for skills. A 10 level Ranger has been stalking orcs through the wilds far longer than a 1st level Ranger, and should have picked up some tricks along the way. Maybe the rate of advancement is an issue, but I think the idea should be there.



It also look like Matthew doesn't like everything being stated out as a skill. Fair enough. Personally, I'd rather have something to roll if we want to randomly determine an outcome, at least beyond "40% on a d%".

You don't need everything stated out. In fact, the trimmed down list in 4e is a nice idea, and solves the whole "no points to spend on nonessential skills" idea. One basic athletic skill can cover most stunts, and a few knowledge skills can cover most mental challenges. The few really specific skills such as Pick Locks are clearly defined and will seldom be used out of their prime intended purpose.

nagora
2008-09-26, 04:40 AM
Should Aragorn be a better tracker than Bob the 0 level tracker? Up to you, but it shouldn't be a function of level (in my book).
I disagree here and I think something you said yourself is relevant: Conan doesn't fail. I think being high level should in fact make you better at EVERYTHING for exactly that reason - heroes don't fail.

Now, obviously "everything" is a bit extreme and I would/do temper it in play. But if a character is doing something that is "in character" for their class, then they should simply be better at it as they go up levels without having to fart about with skill points or even skill lists. They are just more competant all 'round.

The other example I like to use is James Bond. Bond gets a few minutes training in a new weapon or gadget and suddenly he's as good with it as he is with anything else. His level (and class) is the determinant, not some specific individual skill ranking.

So, I quite like the idea of the Hunter class with it's "basic chance" stat which ramps up all the hunter's abilities as time passes. I do think it starts far too low (and 90% +1%/lv maybe not that far off what I think is right), but the actual numbers are a detail. The main idea is that leveled characters should fail less in the general case as they climb the XP ladder. That seems to me to be a better fit for how heroes are portrayed in the source material.

I've never quite pinned this down to a "system", but in play it guides my assignment of what rolls I require to do things, which in turn vary depending on the situation. As a certain point I stop asking for rolls and, for example, a 4th level fighter who wants to swing on the chandelier simply can without rolling, as can a 1st level thief, while a magic user will always need an ability check. Let "idiom" be your guide.

Tormsskull
2008-09-26, 05:52 AM
The main difference I see here is the ability for the DM to control the difficulty of the skills check, which to me is important.

3.x Example:

DM: Hmmm, this should be a very difficult skill roll. I'll set the DC at 20. That's pretty difficult.
Player: 20? Oh, that's no problem. I have 5 ranks in that skill, +2 due to synnergy from another skill, a +4 attribute bonus, +3 Skill Focus Feat, +2 Masterwork Item of that skill. I have a +16. *rolls*
DM: *groans*

Alternate Example:
DM: Hmmm, this should be a very difficult skill roll. I'm going to set the % chance of a success at 10%.
Player: My character is very familiar with that skill, Shouldn't it be a bit easier for me?
DM: That's true. I'll give you a 20% chance to reflect your character's ability.


Now, the DM in the first example could easily say 'Oh, in that case the DCs 35 now' but that would probably seem very unfair.

Matthew
2008-09-26, 06:25 AM
I disagree here and I think something you said yourself is relevant: Conan doesn't fail. I think being high level should in fact make you better at EVERYTHING for exactly that reason - heroes don't fail.

Now, obviously "everything" is a bit extreme and I would/do temper it in play. But if a character is doing something that is "in character" for their class, then they should simply be better at it as they go up levels without having to fart about with skill points or even skill lists. They are just more competant all 'round.

I probably should have been clearer. I have no problem with Aragorn's level having an impact on his ability to track. I would have a problem with Aragorn's level having an impact on his ability to cobble shoes. The point was that Bob the Tracker shouldn't be worse at tracking than Aragorn simply on account of his level. That is to say, if Aragorn were fifth level (I know, I know...) and Bob the Tracker 0 level, I wouldn't have an expectation one way or the other, though I might expect Aragorn to be slightly better at tracking than he was at level one, if it seemed appropriate.



So, I quite like the idea of the Hunter class with it's "basic chance" stat which ramps up all the hunter's abilities as time passes. I do think it starts far too low (and 90% +1%/lv maybe not that far off what I think is right), but the actual numbers are a detail. The main idea is that leveled characters should fail less in the general case as they climb the XP ladder. That seems to me to be a better fit for how heroes are portrayed in the source material.

I dunno, I think Conan is as much a bad ass in Tower of the Elephant as he is in Phoenix on the Sword, but I agree that within the context of D&D there is an expectation of improvement as characters advance in level.



I've never quite pinned this down to a "system", but in play it guides my assignment of what rolls I require to do things, which in turn vary depending on the situation. As a certain point I stop asking for rolls and, for example, a 4th level fighter who wants to swing on the chandelier simply can without rolling, as can a 1st level thief, while a magic user will always need an ability check. Let "idiom" be your guide.

Sure, I don't think the above is really a system. It's just me assigning adjectives to percentages I might reasonably assign.




The main difference I see here is the ability for the DM to control the difficulty of the skills check, which to me is important.

3.x Example:

DM: Hmmm, this should be a very difficult skill roll. I'll set the DC at 20. That's pretty difficult.
Player: 20? Oh, that's no problem. I have 5 ranks in that skill, +2 due to synnergy from another skill, a +4 attribute bonus, +3 Skill Focus Feat, +2 Masterwork Item of that skill. I have a +16. *rolls*
DM: *groans*

Alternate Example:
DM: Hmmm, this should be a very difficult skill roll. I'm going to set the % chance of a success at 10%.
Player: My character is very familiar with that skill, Shouldn't it be a bit easier for me?
DM: That's true. I'll give you a 20% chance to reflect your character's ability.

Now, the DM in the first example could easily say 'Oh, in that case the DCs 35 now' but that would probably seem very unfair.

True, and that's the player agency stuff Yakk was talking about earlier (if I understood him correctly).

nagora
2008-09-26, 06:55 AM
I dunno, I think Conan is as much a bad ass in Tower of the Elephant as he is in Phoenix on the Sword, but I agree that within the context of D&D there is an expectation of improvement as characters advance in level.
Yes, that's true. But within a game where a core design element is the progression behind a character like Conan (ie, how they rose up to that level) then it's a better way of doing it, methinks. But, level aside, character should be able to turn their hands to enormous numbers of things that would break any attempt to make a skill system with points to buy levels or even just menus to choose from.

As such, splitting every task (not skill, I'm talking about a skill-less system here) into "Class-based" and "Secondary" with the former getting a huge bonus including a factor for level, and the latter some generic ability check seems to me a much better general approach than any of the attempts to graft on a skill system to D&D, none of which have worked IMO.

Further than that, I think classes with an ad-hoc task resolution system are a better way to simulate heroes from myth, legend, and cinema than anything that could be reasonably called "mainstream RPG design" today.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-26, 07:09 AM
Bottom line is that level-based systems and skill-based systems really don't mix well.

The whole point of classes and levels is that a group of abilities exist in which you simultaneously become better (i.e. tracking, archery, stealth, and magic, if you're a 3.5 ranger; you have to go through a lot of hoops to become a good tracker who is not also a good archer).
In 4E, these groups happen to include "...and all skills" at the end (you have to go through presently-nonexistent hoops to, for instance, not be decent at picking locks when you're a skilled two-weapon wielder - since "good TWF" implies ranger levels, ranger implies high dex, and levels+dex means being good at lockpicking, regardless of whether you want to be).

Either way, if you want to be good at X but not Y (e.g. tracking but not archery) then this tends to be hard or impossible to represent in class/level-based systems.

Matthew
2008-09-26, 07:10 AM
Yes, that's true. But within a game where a core design element is the progression behind a character like Conan (ie, how they rose up to that level) then it's a better way of doing it, methinks. But, level aside, character should be able to turn their hands to enormous numbers of things that would break any attempt to make a skill system with points to buy levels or even just menus to choose from.

I would tend to agree. My progression towards that conclusion was...

Limited Resource Skill System (Build your character within these numerical limits) ->

Unlimited Resource Skill System (Just make your character however you want, what do I care if your Elf has +20 singing?) ->

Reasonable Expectations (Why bother with discrete numerical values anyway?)



As such, splitting every task (not skill, I'm talking about a skill-less system here) into "Class-based" and "Secondary" with the former getting a huge bonus including a factor for level, and the latter some generic ability check seems to me a much better general approach than any of the attempts to graft on a skill system to D&D, none of which have worked IMO.

Yeah, I think C&C came close in that regard, but there is still way too much variance for my taste, and I don't think a SIEGE check should be used to lift stuff up...

So, recently, I was playing a seventh level fighter with strength 17 who had to climb a rope. I said, "Okay what's the chance of him getting up the rope?" The game master replied "Automatic if he removes his armour, 90% armoured." That's pretty much the same answer I would have expected at level one (of course, I chose to climb armoured).

Reinboom
2008-09-26, 07:12 AM
Bottom line is that level-based systems and skill-based systems really don't mix well.

The whole point of classes and levels is that a group of abilities exist in which you simultaneously become better (i.e. tracking, archery, stealth, and magic, if you're a 3.5 ranger; you have to go through a lot of hoops to become a good tracker who is not also a good archer).
In 4E, these groups happen to include "...and all skills" at the end (you have to go through presently-nonexistent hoops to, for instance, not be decent at picking locks when you're a skilled two-weapon wielder - since "good TWF" implies ranger levels, ranger implies high dex, and levels+dex means being good at lockpicking, regardless of whether you want to be).

Either way, if you want to be good at X but not Y (e.g. tracking but not archery) then this tends to be hard or impossible to represent in class/level-based systems.

I noticed this as a problem recently, for me, actually.
Noticing a trap, and realizing, I really could just walk up to the trap and disable it. While not being trained in thievery at all. (in 4e, that is).

Yakk
2008-09-26, 10:46 AM
If you use DCs you can be a fool about it and never know it. There's no difference except in where you put the responsibility for being a fool
There are rules and guidelines that detail what the DCs should be for various tasks in basically every DC system. These are supposed to help you avoid making mistakes.

If you are ad-libbing it, you have no such aid.


You are either misunderstanding, or you are missing the point. The only choice the player has on facing a DC is whether to attempt the task or not, the same is true if he is faced with an arbitrary chance of success or failure (or a degree of success of failure within that binary outcome).
Yes, the DM sets the difficulty of a task. The question is, does the DM set it based off of specific-character-neutral criteria, or does the DM set it based off of the specific character's skills?

In the first case, the choices of the player makes when designing the fiction of the character have a direct impact.

In the second case, the choices that the player makes when designing the fiction of the character have no direct impact.

If a DM sets the DCs after factoring in the skills/etc of the players, then yes, that is identical to the free-form "you have a 30% chance to succeed", with the one exception that the character's numeric description might be a concise way of describing how the player views the fiction of the character (that doesn't require the 'knowledge of 20 years of backstory' solution).


There is no agency apart from whether the player builds a character to have bonuses or not. I can build a fighter in D20 and place his skill points and attributes in such a way that he will get bonuses to climbing, jumping, swimming, whatever... I can give him feats so he can ride a horse in battle without fear of falling off. The game master can always over rule my bonuses by slapping circumstance penalties on me (if he's a jerk). Alternatively, I can just assume that the character is competent at such things, and the game master can either be a jerk about it or not.
Yes, the DM can be a jerk and remove player agency. I didn't say that DCs guaranteed player agency -- I said that using fiat probabilities removes player agency.

Suppose you think of your character as a grizzled, old veteran, who knows military tactics, and is still impressively physically fit for his age. The DM views your character as a grizzled, old veteran, past his prime, and no longer physically capable, with no more knowledge of tactics than anyone else.

Both of these could be a reasonable interpretation of exactly the same background description. If there is a skill system, you could _quantify_ how physically fit your character is, how much that character knows tactics. And if the DM generally sets character-neutral DCs (ie, doesn't change DCs based off which specific character is attempting something), if there are written down skills the player's version of the character fiction falls out.

However, if you set the DCs by fiat, _the DM's view of the character determines all of the capabilities of the character_. The player can attempt to convince the DM of the capabilities of the character, but that is the only route the player has. And it isn't as if the DM's view of an old veteran warrior is that far out to lunch or unreasoanble.


You are ignoring the decision element on the part of the players.
Yes, that part of player agency remains, even if the DM determines capabilities of the player's characters by DM fiat.


Telling the player before playing the game that difficult rock faces require DC 20 to climb, and that a character with 4 ranks in Climb has a 25% chance of climbing the cliff is no different in terms of expectations than saying "climbing a difficult cliff has a 25% chance of success." The only difference is whether you can get better at it or not in discrete numerical terms by level (which is a terrible mechanism for advancing mundane skills, espcially by 5% increments). If there is a real need for one fighter to be a better climber than another, then you can discuss it in advance (or you can allow attributes to influence it in some way).
That is the '20 years of backstory' method. Note that the difficult cliff with a 25% chance of success -- one player decides they want to be a better climber, and can determine how large of an impact that decision makes, without having to negotiate directly with the DM, or rely on the DM remembering that detail later on. (or doing a back-and-forth "throwing background notes out to get a bonus" in the middle of a scene).


Again, what this basically comes down to is "I like to build characters". What I am saying is "I am not interested in that aspect of RPGs with regard to D&D". I used to be very into it, but I never found it increased player agency in the game, more often it imposed arbitrary limits on what their characters could do. I'll take narrative freedom over character builds any time.
That's DM agency (narritive freedom) over Player agency (can determine the fiction of their own characters), as an aside.


So, please, either you or Matthew explain how a base 25% chance, before you consider character abilities is any different from a DC 16

If I think Joe average has about a 30% chance to do a thing, untrained, that's DC 15. With average stats and no skill points, he should succeed 30% of the time. Now if he's playing 3e and has a Climb of + 10 (16 Str and 7 ranks, max for a 4th level PC) he'll succeed 80% of the time.

In 1e, considering a 4th level thief, or character one assumes to have maxed his Climb, with a high Str, and the same cliff that Joe Sixpack has a 30% with, how different are your numbers?

I don't see the DC system as all that out of whack. Sure, maybe if Sir Edmund Freaking Hillary is the DM he has a better idea of what a Climb chance should be, but for me, that works fine. It establishes a baseline, gives stronger, better trained characters a better chance, and still allows for you, as DM to fudge the numbers to your heart's content.

Because a player who says "I want to be better at climbing" can become objectively, in a way that player can both measure and understand, better at climbing.

The player deterimes "my character is better at climbing", not the DM.


That's the variance difference that annoys the crap out of me. A +35% chance from training to climb, paid for from character building points [i.e. at the expense of other abilities] just seems crazy to me. The idea that as characters advance in level they become better climbers doesn't sit well with me at all, but this goes back to the 1e PHB Ranger versus the 1e UA Ranger. The former has a flat 90% chance of tracking before conditions are taken into account, whilst the latters has [10% + (10% per level)]. That latter paradigm basically means that low level rangers suck at tracking and high level rangers rock at it. The variance is too great for my liking, and the D20 version is almost as bad, but extended to all skills.
So sure, a specific system can suck.

There are systems that do this better -- where your character is defined in terms of descriptive traits or stereotypes, and how closely you can pull a trait in determines the impact on a contest.

Matthew
2008-09-26, 11:09 AM
Sure, Yakk, but all that amounts to "I prefer to play a different way". That is fine, I am not saying don't play that way, nor that there is not a difference between assigning a probability and assigning a probability modified by explicit numbers on a character sheet in a formal structure. I am saying there are equally valid alternatives. Yes, it requires a different perspective on the relationship between game master and players, no it doesn't particularly reduce player agency (though it can, if players and game master are not on the same page, a woeful situation to be in, in any case).

DCs don't help you avoid mistakes, in my opinion. They more regularly create errors. It's hard to make a mistake when you rate something as difficult by virtue of it having what you decide is a "difficult probability".

The "twenty years of backstory" stuff is just silly. Nobody is talking about that as far as I can see, but if the game master and player want to go that avenue, they should feel free to do so. Whether you numerically rate that backstory or not is incidental.

There sure are games that have good skill systems. Neither D20/3e, nor D20/4e are amongst them; this is a thread about D&D, do recall. indeed, I would argue that the skill system I homebrewed and used for AD&D was a "good" skill system, but whilst it worked well for players, it was a terrible chore to create NPCs. In the end, I discovered that broadly the same results could be achieved by dumping it and relying on descriptive language, rather than mathematical language, to describe a character.

Tormsskull
2008-09-26, 12:08 PM
If you are ad-libbing it, you have no such aid.


Or, alternatively, you have the very best aid. If I create this world, and everyone in it, determine what forces are at work, the gods, all the magic, gravity, etc, etc, who better to decide how difficult a given task may be for a specific being to accomplish?



Yes, the DM sets the difficulty of a task. The question is, does the DM set it based off of specific-character-neutral criteria, or does the DM set it based off of the specific character's skills?

In the first case, the choices of the player makes when designing the fiction of the character have a direct impact.

In the second case, the choices that the player makes when designing the fiction of the character have no direct impact.


I'd say in the first case the players have a direct impact, and in the second case they have less of a direct impact. Less of a direct impact also means that there is less incentive to try to min/max or uber optimize your character as well.



Yes, the DM can be a jerk and remove player agency. I didn't say that DCs guaranteed player agency -- I said that using fiat probabilities removes player agency.


But is the DM really being a jerk by limiting player agency? Think about it. When a DM creates an adventure, does he plan it via character-neutral critera, or does he look at each of the character's level, hit points, spells, etc, and then plan the adventure?

When a PCs are level 1, they are likely to encounter challenges that they can overcome. Thusly, they face level 1ish challenges. If the DM wants to give them a tough fight, he looks at their capabilities, and based on their capabilities makes a stronger opponent (perhaps level 4 or 5).

If the DM wants the players to face a difficult skill check, then he should be just as easily able to look at the PC's skills, and make a DC that is 'difficult' by those standards.

The playstyle that you are advocating is basically the players have their toolbox of things that they can make their characters with, and the DM has his toolbox of things that he can make encounters with. The DM should know what's in the player's toolbox, and the player's should know what's in the DM's toolbox.

This playstyle seeks to find a very balanced and level playing field. It encourages system mastery and promotes optimization & min/maxing. If you enjoy that type of game style, then its going to work great for you.

I remember reading (IIRC, in the Basic D&D DMG) that the most powerful tool that the DM has at his disposal is mystery. If the players don't know, then the DM has unlimited ability to continue to create interesting and exciting adventures.

If the players know everything, the mystery is gone, and you're left rolling dice against one another.

MartinHarper
2008-09-26, 01:20 PM
You have to go through presently-nonexistent hoops to, for instance, not be decent at picking locks when you're a skilled two-weapon wielder.

Alternatively, you can just write "+0" on your character sheet under "Thievery".

Yakk
2008-09-26, 01:32 PM
DCs don't help you avoid mistakes, in my opinion. They more regularly create errors. It's hard to make a mistake when you rate something as difficult by virtue of it having what you decide is a "difficult probability".
The mistake I'm talking about isn't "does not have the difficulty the DM wants it to have", but rather "doesn't take into account the view the player has of the character".


Yes, it requires a different perspective on the relationship between game master and players, no it doesn't particularly reduce player agency (though it can, if players and game master are not on the same page, a woeful situation to be in, in any case).
I suspect you mean something different when you read my words 'player agency'. I'm talking about the ability for the player to impact the game world by controlling the fiction of the game world.

Having zero control, or no more control than they can verbally convince the DM of, about the capabilities of ones character does, on it's face, limit player agency. The player becomes a supplicant to the DM's opinion of the character.


The "twenty years of backstory" stuff is just silly. Nobody is talking about that as far as I can see, but if the game master and player want to go that avenue, they should feel free to do so. Whether you numerically rate that backstory or not is incidental.

Except that can be briefly encoded in a relative handful of numbers. The fact that the player was a sailor, liked climbing trees to get apples for his boyhood crush, and spent some time buying and selling in the marketplace -- can be reflected in skills.

How much time? How good did the player get? Was the character talented at the subjects at hand? All abstracted then encoded, which determines how large of an effect it has on the game.


Or, alternatively, you have the very best aid. If I create this world, and everyone in it, determine what forces are at work, the gods, all the magic, gravity, etc, etc, who better to decide how difficult a given task may be for a specific being to accomplish?

The person who created that character, if you want that player to have control over the fiction that that character represents, should have lots of input. In fact, I'd argue that person should have _more_ input than the person who made the rest of the world, in a sense.

The maker of the world should decide _how hard that task is_, but the maker of the character should decide _how good that character is at that task (or kind of task)_.


There sure are games that have good skill systems. Neither D20/3e, nor D20/4e are amongst them; this is a thread about D&D, do recall. indeed, I would argue that the skill system I homebrewed and used for AD&D was a "good" skill system, but whilst it worked well for players, it was a terrible chore to create NPCs. In the end, I discovered that broadly the same results could be achieved by dumping it and relying on descriptive language, rather than mathematical language, to describe a character.

I'd hold that 4e is a pretty good skill system. It has a slow scaling of character resourcefulness with the power scale of the character, and you can flag your character as having talent in a region, having training in a region, being gifted in a region, and the like.

The DC system is based off of the difficulty tasks should have given the scale of the adventure. Cliffs that are worth mentioning to heros capable of single-handedly conquoring kingdoms uses a different DC than cliffs worth mentioning to talented novice soldiers, out to make their name.

It does need a bit more mathematical polish, because the designers messed up the DC scaling (mostly fixed in the errata).

3es skill system ends up becoming, as noted, a matter of 'cap and use'.


I'd say in the first case the players have a direct impact, and in the second case they have less of a direct impact. Less of a direct impact also means that there is less incentive to try to min/max or uber optimize your character as well.

Yes -- I'm willing to accept that some DMs like to remove player agency and their ability to shape the fiction of the game world. That is acceptable -- I just thought I'd say it explicitly.

If you say "I want to remove player agency, so I don't like skill systems of any kind", that is perfectly consistent with my position.


But is the DM really being a jerk by limiting player agency? Think about it. When a DM creates an adventure, does he plan it via character-neutral critera, or does he look at each of the character's level, hit points, spells, etc, and then plan the adventure?
*nod*, you can remove player agency in ways that do not make you a jerk.

In the particular case I was responding to, it was referring to a DM being a jerk and removing player agency, if I remember correctly.


The playstyle that you are advocating is basically the players have their toolbox of things that they can make their characters with, and the DM has his toolbox of things that he can make encounters with. The DM should know what's in the player's toolbox, and the player's should know what's in the DM's toolbox.
I'm advocating being aware of when you are stripping player agency, and deciding if it is worth it in that one case.

If you are creating probabilities by fiat, then you are stripping player agency casually. The player's view of their own character's fiction has no impact on the character's capabilities -- only your view of the character's fiction does.

When you decide to make a player powerless in a particular dimension of the game, do it with your eyes open.

As an example outside of this, I like making adventure grids with pre-thought out options that the players seem likely to follow, and pre-built encounters for those paths. Encounters that the players do not encounter can be recycled and run into at a later time.

Heck -- I even advocate the "if the players are doing something reasonable, warp reality to make it the right choice": ie, the players decide to investigate the murder by searching the sewers (after running into some evidence that they reasonably interpret to be a source of information in the sewers), don't just say "you fight some rats, and find nothing", merely because you didn't intend for it to happen.

These also strip player agency, in a sense: even if the players choices where 'wrong' in that they didn't match the predetermined game fiction, you warped the game fiction to make their wrong choice not-so-wrong.

On the other hand, this could also be viewed as empowering players: their choices picked the fiction of the world they are playing in.

In short, I don't hold player agency to be an absolute -- I just don't think it should be casually discarded in games that I play.

Matthew
2008-09-26, 01:44 PM
The mistake I'm talking about isn't "does not have the difficulty the DM wants it to have", but rather "doesn't take into account the view the player has of the character".

That is not a mistake, as far as I can see. That's just a case of the player and game master not being in accordance. The question then is simply, who is correct?



I suspect you mean something different when you read my words 'player agency'. I'm talking about the ability for the player to impact the game world by controlling the fiction of the game world.

Having zero control, or no more control than they can verbally convince the DM of, about the capabilities of ones character does, on it's face, limit player agency. The player becomes a supplicant to the DM's opinion of the character.

Players cannot control the fiction of the game world, because the game master always sets the DC. He can set it as arbitrarily high or low as he prefers, and differently for different characters. Only the illusion of player agency occurs by being able to write "Jump +10" on a character sheet. Moreover, the limitations of a pay by resource system means that player agency is actually reduced.

To put it another way, "the player is always a supplicant to the DM's opinion of the character."



Except that can be briefly encoded in a relative handful of numbers. The fact that the player was a sailor, liked climbing trees to get apples for his boyhood crush, and spent some time buying and selling in the marketplace -- can be reflected in skills.

How much time? How good did the player get? Was the character talented at the subjects at hand? All abstracted then encoded, which determines how large of an effect it has on the game.

Just as it can be briefly encoded with adjectives. As I say, it doesn't matter what you write on the character sheet (with regards to player agency) precisely because the game master can always over rule the numbers (or the adjectives).



I'd hold that 4e is a pretty good skill system. It has a slow scaling of character resourcefulness with the power scale of the character, and you can flag your character as having talent in a region, having training in a region, being gifted in a region, and the like.

The DC system is based off of the difficulty tasks should have given the scale of the adventure. Cliffs that are worth mentioning to heros capable of single-handedly conquoring kingdoms uses a different DC than cliffs worth mentioning to talented novice soldiers, out to make their name.

It does need a bit more mathematical polish, because the designers messed up the DC scaling (mostly fixed in the errata).

3es skill system ends up becoming, as noted, a matter of 'cap and use'.

Well, that's fair opinion. It is not one I agree with, because there is a limit on the numerical allocation possible, which is a limitation on player agency enforced by the rules. Since those rules can be over ruled only by the game master, player agency is an illusion (even limited player agency) in the context of character creation or advancement.

The only player agency that can ever occur with character creation is the sort that the game master agrees to, agrees to pay attention to, and agrees to impact his decisions, and is thus not player agency at all. What you appear to be talking about is previously agreed game structure (which is to say a trend towards giving adjectives an explicit numerical meaning).

[Could you be sure to quote me when you quote me, if mixing with others, it's kind of hard to make out which bits go where otherwise. :smallbiggrin:]

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-26, 01:46 PM
I noticed this as a problem recently, for me, actually.
Noticing a trap, and realizing, I really could just walk up to the trap and disable it. While not being trained in thievery at all. (in 4e, that is).

Good luck with that :smalltongue:

Having looked at most of the Disable Device DCs, unless I had absurdly high DEX I wouldn't try to hack a control box (DC 20 at level 2) or disable a pressure plate (DC 25 at LV 2) without at least being trained in Thievery.

Now, if you're taking about using readied actions to chop up spear traps or something like that, then I'd say that's how it should be :smallbiggrin:

Yakk
2008-09-26, 02:20 PM
Except, of course, if the DM explicitly changes the world in response to the character, it can be more obvious.

That is the "wait a second, walking over that tightrope was a DC 30 for me, but a DC 10 for the clumsy cleric?" moment.

If the DM doesn't _want_ players to have control, they can manipulate the world in any case to strip the players control. If the players have nominal control over their characters, and the DM explicitly manipulates the world to strip that player of control, then it is more obvious that the DM is doing it.

However, this is in the case where _the DM is on purpose trying to remove the player agency_. And in a system that doesn't support any player agency mechanically (DM makes percentages via fiat), it is of course easier to strip any player agency.

If you want player agency, having it in the system makes it easier, because you don't have to understand the character as fully as the player does to be able to present the world's challenges to the character, and have that player's view of the character impact the results.


Well, that's fair opinion. It is not one I agree with, because there is a limit on the numerical allocation possible, which is a limitation on player agency enforced by the rules. Since those rules can be over ruled only by the game master, player agency is an illusion (even limited player agency) in the context of character creation or advancement.

Yes, the DM can choose to overrule rules that provide limited player agency in the DM's game. A player could, in theory, do the same thing -- pretend the DM's statements about the world are different, but the social contract of gaming disagrees with that. :-)

I'm saying that following such systems can naturally result in player agency over character fiction. The fact that you can choose not to follow such systems, and end up with "no player agency" in that case, is not interesting.


The only player agency that can ever occur with character creation is the sort that the game master agrees to, agrees to pay attention to, and agrees to impact his decisions, and is thus not player agency at all.

The only game dictating power that the DM has is that which the player agrees to, agrees to pay attention to, and agrees to impact the story that the player is engaged in. As such, the DM has no real power at all.

@_@

In effect, I'm saying you are engaged in sophistry -- I'm aware that words can be warped to have no meaning. I'm trying to talk about the meaning of player agency that actually has a meaning, not one that has no meaning. And I hold that such a meaning of player agency exists, as described in previous posts. And I hold that sophistry is boooooorrrrring.


What you appear to be talking about is previously agreed game structure (which is to say a trend towards giving adjectives an explicit numerical meaning).

[Could you be sure to quote me when you quote me, if mixing with others, it's kind of hard to make out which bits go where otherwise. ]

The initial quote was you, and I forgot to attribute it to you. I think I caught every other swap of quoting.

Sorry about that.

Matthew
2008-09-26, 02:30 PM
Except, of course, if the DM explicitly changes the world in response to the character, it can be more obvious.

That is the "wait a second, walking over that tightrope was a DC 30 for me, but a DC 10 for the clumsy cleric?" moment.

If the DM doesn't _want_ players to have control, they can manipulate the world in any case to strip the players control. If the players have nominal control over their characters, and the DM explicitly manipulates the world to strip that player of control, then it is more obvious that the DM is doing it.

However, this is in the case where _the DM is on purpose trying to remove the player agency_. And in a system that doesn't support any player agency mechanically (DM makes percentages via fiat), it is of course easier to strip any player agency.

That's correct. Whether it's obvious or not, however, doesn't impact whether there is player agency or not. It just reveals whether the game master is being a jerk or not. Something which is usually very evident in any case.



If you want player agency, having it in the system makes it easier, because you don't have to understand the character as fully as the player does to be able to present the world's challenges to the character, and have that player's view of the character impact the results.

I completely disagree. All that makes it easier is you and the game master agreeing what an adjective means. I can give a fighter "+4 jump", and yet have a completely different view of what that means for the character. Is he good/bad/poor? How long has he been jumping? None of these questions are answered by numerically rating the skill, the number has to be invested with a meaning.



Yes, the DM can choose to overrule rules that provide limited player agency in the DM's game. A player could, in theory, do the same thing -- pretend the DM's statements about the world are different, but the social contract of gaming disagrees with that. :-)

I'm saying that following such systems can naturally result in player agency over character fiction. The fact that you can choose not to follow such systems, and end up with "no player agency" in that case, is not interesting.

And what I am trying to explain is that because all player agency (with respect to determining the capabilities of a character) is an illusion (the game master being ultimately in charge of all rules and rulings, assuming that the players do not simply refuse to play if certain rules or rulings are not used), the only thing that really matters is whether you and the game master are on the same page about the capabilities of your character. Numerically rating a character's skills in relation to an established difficulty class system is one way of doing that, but it is not the easiest nor the best way (though for some people and some situations it might be). It is just one way.



The only game dictating power that the DM has is that which the player agrees to, agrees to pay attention to, and agrees to impact the story that the player is engaged in. As such, the DM has no real power at all.

@_@

In effect, I'm saying you are engaged in sophistry -- I'm aware that words can be warped to have no meaning. I'm trying to talk about the meaning of player agency that actually has a meaning, not one that has no meaning. And I hold that such a meaning of player agency exists, as described in previous posts. And I hold that sophistry is boooooorrrrring.

That is of course true [not the bit about (presumably false) sophistry or agency, that's obviously rhetoric on your part :smallbiggrin:], and rather speaks to the point. The rules are not what is important, nor the numbers you write on your character sheet, but that you and your game master are on the same page as regards your character's abilities and how they relate to his environment and other characters.

only1doug
2008-09-26, 04:28 PM
Except, of course, if the DM explicitly changes the world in response to the character, it can be more obvious.

That is the "wait a second, walking over that tightrope was a DC 30 for me, but a DC 10 for the clumsy cleric?" moment.



I suffered from that once, we were playing dnd 3.0 and the character before me rolled a 16, added his -4 penalty to get a total of 12, he passed.
my character rolled a 6 and the GM saw the dice roll "you failed... bad stuff happens to you." The (bad) GM wasn't interested in the fact that my character had +8 in that skill, he'd seen a low roll and was determined that i had failed.

We gave up on that GM when he had us facing a black dragon at L4.

metagaming we knew we weren't going to have to fight it but our characters didn't know that, also we'd just wasted our (2 weeks of preparation) anti-giant crocodile plan on a 10' croc instead of the 40' croc we were hunting because of GM fiat (he didn't like the way it would affect his plot, even with 2 weeks warning to think up a different solution).

Kurald Galain
2008-09-26, 04:43 PM
Alternatively, you can just write "+0" on your character sheet under "Thievery".

Yes, but that's Oberoni. Just because you can houserule a problem away doesn't mean there's not a problem in the rules.

Knaight
2008-09-26, 04:46 PM
I suffered from that once, we were playing dnd 3.0 and the character before me rolled a 16, added his -4 penalty to get a total of 12, he passed.
my character rolled a 6 and the GM saw the dice roll "you failed... bad stuff happens to you." The (bad) GM wasn't interested in the fact that my character had +8 in that skill, he'd seen a low roll and was determined that i had failed.

I had a GM that did that, but with everything up to and including combat. The best swordsman in the world rolls slightly below average they trip, someone who is worse than the average person who never picked up a sword rolls slightly above average and is somehow amazing.

Knaight
2008-09-26, 04:49 PM
Yes, but that's Oberoni. Just because you can houserule a problem away doesn't mean there's not a problem in the rules.

Although I seriously doubt any GM is going to argue this particular action on the point of the character, you do have a good point. Thats the issue with a class based system, the classes get in the way of creating your character.

nagora
2008-09-27, 04:55 AM
Although I seriously doubt any GM is going to argue this particular action on the point of the character, you do have a good point. Thats the issue with a class based system, the classes get in the way of creating your character.
I think you mean that the classes get in the way of creating your skill list. I've never had a problem creating a character in a class-based system.

MartinHarper
2008-09-27, 06:33 AM
You have to go through presently-nonexistent hoops to, for instance, not be decent at picking locks when you're a skilled two-weapon wielder - since "good TWF" implies ranger levels, ranger implies high dex, and levels+dex means being good at lockpicking, regardless of whether you want to be.

It's just occurred to me that Rangers don't have to be high-dex. Something like the following is perfectly playable:

Str: 18 ; Dex: 8 ; Con: 10
Int: 13 ; Wis: 13 ; Cha: 10

At-Wills: Hit and Run, Twin Strike
Encounter: Dire Wolverine Strike
Daily: Sudden Strike

There are many character concepts that require homebrew in 4e, but this isn't one of them.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-27, 12:04 PM
It's just occurred to me that Rangers don't have to be high-dex. Something like the following is perfectly playable:

Str: 18 ; Dex: 8 ; Con: 10
Int: 13 ; Wis: 13 ; Cha: 10

At-Wills: Hit and Run, Twin Strike
Encounter: Dire Wolverine Strike
Daily: Sudden Strike

There are many character concepts that require homebrew in 4e, but this isn't one of them.

Actually there are a couple of non-DEX TWF Ranger builds:
- Heavy Armor Ranger (STR > 15, CON > 15; Scale Armor is pretty sweet)
- Magic Ranger (STR, WIS, INT; MC Wizard FTW)

Additionally, people keep forgetting how big a +5 is to a roll in 4e. Even a DEX 20 Ranger (LV 8 let's say) has a +9 to pick locks - but Heroic Locks are DC 20. So he has an OK time with them, but he's still not going to be doing it if there's a Rogue there (+14/+17 depending on if he Focuses). That moves the roll from a 11+ to a 6+ or a 3+; Training is important.

To paraphrase V: (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0452.html) There's a vast gulf between being proficient with a skill and being good with it. :smalltongue:

Deepblue706
2008-09-27, 12:11 PM
There's a vast gulf between being proficient with a skill and being good with it. :smalltongue:

Let's also not forget there's even greater a distance between proficiency and non-proficiency, in many cases.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-27, 12:31 PM
To paraphrase V: (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0452.html) There's a vast gulf between being proficient with a skill and being good with it. :smalltongue:

You're missing the point here. It's not that a rogue isn't better at picking locks (obviously they are), but that, say, a wood-walking archer build is nevertheless good at picking locks even if they've never seen a lock in their life.

The one you should be quoting isn't V, but Haley from OOPC. Becoming better at lockpicking through killing non-lock-related monsters was an option in earlier editions, but is mandatory in the present one.

Mike_G
2008-09-27, 02:13 PM
You're missing the point here. It's not that a rogue isn't better at picking locks (obviously they are), but that, say, a wood-walking archer build is nevertheless good at picking locks even if they've never seen a lock in their life.

The one you should be quoting isn't V, but Haley from OOPC. Becoming better at lockpicking through killing non-lock-related monsters was an option in earlier editions, but is mandatory in the present one.

Actually, that's how it's worked since AD&D. Your Pick Locks skill went up with level (by a set amount per level in 1e, by an amount you spent among your skills in 2e), you leveled by gaining xp, you gained xp when you killed creatures.

Ergo, a 1e Thief who never attempted picking a lock but who backstabbed a lot of Orcs would get better at lockpicking faster than one who never went dungeoncrawling but stayed in the city practicing lockpicking.

Level based systems generally have that kind of silliness more or less built in. You can't improve at one thing independent of others.

Matthew
2008-09-27, 02:22 PM
Actually, that's how it's worked since AD&D. Your Pick Locks skill went up with level (by a set amount per level in 1e, by an amount you spent among your skills in 2e), you leveled by gaining xp, you gained xp when you killed creatures.

Ergo, a 1e Thief who never attempted picking a lock but who backstabbed a lot of Orcs would get better at lockpicking faster than one who never went dungeoncrawling but stayed in the city practicing lockpicking.

Level based systems generally have that kind of silliness more or less built in. You can't improve at one thing independent of others.

Whilst that's kind of true, I think you also have to pay attention to the training aspect in AD&D. A considerable sum had to be spent in gold on attaining a new level, which also took quite a bit of time (and usually required a trainer of a higher level). Experience points are misleadingly named, since they do not really relate to character experience, but rather measure the point in the game where the player is rewarded for participating.

Knaight
2008-09-27, 03:02 PM
I think you mean that the classes get in the way of creating your skill list. I've never had a problem creating a character in a class-based system.

You play 1e where skills don't even exist. They aren't linked to class, so its not exactly difficult to add them in, you yourself have said the game is heavily modified. 4e makes your character gain skills in stuff you don't necessarily want your character to have skills in, and 3.5 is so stingy on skill points that you often don't have enough. A diplomat PC class with horrible combat stats and something like 12+int skill points per level fixes this, and I do use that class, but its still an issue. Plus what if you want to create a highly skilled noncombatant, class based systems almost always get in your way for that one.

Matthew
2008-09-27, 03:48 PM
You play 1e where skills don't even exist. They aren't linked to class, so its not exactly difficult to add them in, you yourself have said the game is heavily modified. 4e makes your character gain skills in stuff you don't necessarily want your character to have skills in, and 3.5 is so stingy on skill points that you often don't have enough. A diplomat PC class with horrible combat stats and something like 12+int skill points per level fixes this, and I do use that class, but its still an issue. Plus what if you want to create a highly skilled noncombatant, class based systems almost always get in your way for that one.

They do if everybody has a class, but in AD&D only very few characters have a class; the overwhelming volume of charcters that will be encountered will be 0 level and classless. D20/3e was the very first version of D&D to truly be a "class based system", prior to that B/AD&D was a hybrid class based system (there are skills even in the AD&D 1e DMG, they just aren't numerically rated).

Torque
2008-09-27, 03:59 PM
You play 1e where skills don't even exist. They aren't linked to class, so its not exactly difficult to add them in, you yourself have said the game is heavily modified. 4e makes your character gain skills in stuff you don't necessarily want your character to have skills in, and 3.5 is so stingy on skill points that you often don't have enough. A diplomat PC class with horrible combat stats and something like 12+int skill points per level fixes this, and I do use that class, but its still an issue. Plus what if you want to create a highly skilled noncombatant, class based systems almost always get in your way for that one.

One solution to that in a class-based system is to give XP for non-combat actions. Gygax moved towards this and I think may even have claimed that the lack of such XPs in 1e was due to an editorial oversight which was never fixed. I think he gave guidelines for MUs getting xp for spells in an issue of the Dragon (100xp per level) and thieves likewise get points for using their abilities in some of his C&C work, I think.

But, generally, the classes and the classes' reward schedule should reflect the interest of the class. That was a problem with 1e which assumed that all xp came from adventure-based actions. The xp from treasure (which was sunken into training) was vaguely supposed to reflect this in an abstract way. It was easy to run but too abstract for many, especially as roleplaying interest moved away from straight combat-related scenarios.

Mike_G
2008-09-27, 04:34 PM
Whilst that's kind of true, I think you also have to pay attention to the training aspect in AD&D. A considerable sum had to be spent in gold on attaining a new level, which also took quite a bit of time (and usually required a trainer of a higher level). Experience points are misleadingly named, since they do not really relate to character experience, but rather measure the point in the game where the player is rewarded for participating.


Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to.

You got better at picking locks when you gained a level. You gained a level after you gained enough xp. The default way to gain xp, and the fastest, even if the DM allowed for storytelling or other out of combat xp, was to defeat monsters. Sure, you did need to find a trainer and pay him, but you couldn't just do that without the xp.

So, the fastest way to get really good at cracking safes was to shank lots and lots of goblins.


This is the pitfall of a class system. My attack bonus, saves and hp all go up with my Pick Locks skill. That's fine for a game, as we are assuming the character gets better at his expected role as he gains experience, but is an abstraction and a disconnect. 1e made the rate of increase concrete. You used the next line on the chart to get your chance to climb, hide, whatever. There was no way to prioritize lockpicking at the expense of climbing, or vice versa. 4e has returned to that original concept, choose your Trained skills at Character gen, then gain +1/2 levels, no specializing in stealth and just dabbling in Tumbling. 2e and 3e let you spend points as you saw fit.

I don't like the class system for NPC experts. The concept of Bob the 0 level tracker, who has 5 hp, no attack bonus. but a 90% chance to follow tracks, works for me. The 3e system as written does require the mater scholar to have more hp and a better BAB that the Sergeant of the city guard to justify 10 ranks in Knowledge: History, which is madness.

MADNESS!!!!

When I DM, I do just BS the NPC contacts and hirelings skills. I don't like to do that to PC's, and I find the DC system works fine for me, and allows them to do what they spent points to be able to.

Matthew
2008-09-27, 05:00 PM
Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to.

You got better at picking locks when you gained a level. You gained a level after you gained enough xp. The default way to gain xp, and the fastest, even if the DM allowed for storytelling or other out of combat xp, was to defeat monsters. Sure, you did need to find a trainer and pay him, but you couldn't just do that without the xp.

Correct, but you couldn't do it without getting trained either. If it were just your lock picking skills that went up with levelling up there might be some more merit to the argument, but most of the stuff that goes up as a result of gaining a level has a supernatural element to it, which the DMG occasionally remarks on. Do we know for sure that the various abilities are not simply supernaturally increased?



So, the fastest way to get really good at cracking safes was to shank lots and lots of goblins.

Well, in fact, the fastest way was to steal lots and lots of gold, but that's beside the point. The way you advanced is as abstracted as everything else in the game, which is to say the shanking of orcs and the picking of locks are not causally related [i.e. they are game constructs].



This is the pitfall of a class system. My attack bonus, saves and hp all go up with my Pick Locks skill. That's fine for a game, as we are assuming the character gets better at his expected role as he gains experience, but is an abstraction and a disconnect. 1e made the rate of increase concrete. You used the next line on the chart to get your chance to climb, hide, whatever. There was no way to prioritize lockpicking at the expense of climbing, or vice versa. 4e has returned to that original concept, choose your Trained skills at Character gen, then gain +1/2 levels, no specializing in stealth and just dabbling in Tumbling. 2e and 3e let you spend points as you saw fit.

Well that would be fine if that's what actually occurred, but there is a question mark as to whether they actually get better at picking locks, etc... or whether they just get luckier at it. I don't think the system says either way. Point is, killing orcs doesn't lead to getting better at picking locks, it leads to a supernatural increase in abilities (equally insane in my book, but that's how it works as a game mechanism).



I don't like the class system for NPC experts. The concept of Bob the 0 level tracker, who has 5 hp, no attack bonus. but a 90% chance to follow tracks, works for me. The 3e system as written does require the mater scholar to have more hp and a better BAB that the Sergeant of the city guard to justify 10 ranks in Knowledge: History, which is madness.

MADNESS!!!!

When I DM, I do just BS the NPC contacts and hirelings skills. I don't like to do that to PC's, and I find the DC system works fine for me, and allows them to do what they spent points to be able to.

Everyone should indeed do as they find best. Certainly, advancing non player characters need not occur in the same manner as player characters (or have the same limitations).

Kurald Galain
2008-09-27, 05:07 PM
you leveled by gaining xp, you gained xp when you killed creatures.
2E explicitly has rules for gaining XP for other things than killing stuff. But yeah,


Level based systems generally have that kind of silliness more or less built in. You can't improve at one thing independent of others.
that's precisely my point.

Matthew
2008-09-27, 06:04 PM
2E explicitly has rules for gaining XP for other things than killing stuff. But yeah,

The AD&D 1e PHB also mentions gaining experience points for things other than killing stuff and acquiring treasure.



that's precisely my point.

...which works rather well if the abilities of a class are limited to those most significant [i.e. the ones you would expect to increase as a result of adventuring and receiving supernatural rewards]. It is when characters actually get more skilled at totally unrelated things as a result of level advancement that can become a problem.

Mike_G
2008-09-27, 06:17 PM
The AD&D 1e PHB also mentions gaining experience points for things other than killing stuff and acquiring treasure.


...which works rather well if the abilities of a class are limited to those most significant [i.e. the ones you would expect to increase as a result of adventuring and receiving supernatural rewards]. It is when characters actually get more skilled at totally unrelated things as a result of level advancement that can become a problem.

This is another reason I like skill based systems, and 3e (which is not a skill based systme but does have some of the a la carte elements that I like). When you gain points, you spend them as you see fit. Your character grows and evolves. If you decide that you don't want to progress in lock picking, because it's not useful anymore, or you're already really good, you can train in something else. Or you realize how useful Use Magic Device can be, so you start putting points in it, even though that didn't occur to you at level one.

I even like the multiclassing, so long as it isn't the dipfest that "optimizers" make it. If you look at the Conan stories, he starts as a Barbarian, then becomes a thief, then spends some time as a mercenary, etc. It's easy to see that as taking levels in barbarian, then realizing that the city adventures you're stuck in would be better served by a level or two in Rogue, then maybe you get some formal training as a Fighter, master some sophisticated techniques, and so on.

I've been a Marine, a truck driver, a water service installer and a Paramedic. (I guess I just can't hold a job. In fact, I have a History degree which is useful in none of those professions. I'm poorly optimized.) Situations change, people evolve. Why can't a PC?

Now, this evolving doesn't result in the "optimized" build that you planned out to level 20 before you started,

Matthew
2008-09-27, 06:27 PM
I dunno about that. Conan doesn't really advance, or learn much of anything. He's badass at everything right from the beginning. There is some implied learning of mundane things (such as sailing), but he seems to have been great at it almost as soon as he turned his hand to it.

I know what you're saying about progression and acquiring skills and all that, and I agree you'll never get that out of AD&D. It's not designed for that; character abilities (what there are of them) are usually fully formed and just grow more powerful as the players succeed. Any sort of skill development would have to be handled ad hoc and separately (which was what AD&D 2e eventually did, and also how I ended up approaching using skills with AD&D).

Mike_G
2008-09-27, 08:42 PM
I dunno about that. Conan doesn't really advance, or learn much of anything. He's badass at everything right from the beginning. There is some implied learning of mundane things (such as sailing), but he seems to have been great at it almost as soon as he turned his hand to it.

I know what you're saying about progression and acquiring skills and all that, and I agree you'll never get that out of AD&D. It's not designed for that; character abilities (what there are of them) are usually fully formed and just grow more powerful as the players succeed. Any sort of skill development would have to be handled ad hoc and separately (which was what AD&D 2e eventually did, and also how I ended up approaching using skills with AD&D).

We're straying waaaaaaaaaay off topic, but Conan definitely develops from young, wild barbaric Cimerian to King of Aquilonia.

Sure, he's always badass, he's never unsure or weak or outclassed, but he learns. He learns stealth and cunning when he's stealing jewels from the Tower of the Elephant. He learns horsemanship and archery when with the mercenary psuedo-Mongols whose name I forget. He learns sailing and the fine points of Piracy. He even learns diplomacy and command when in Aquilonia.

His personality, and indomitable spirit are constant, but he evolves to face greater challenges.

Matthew
2008-09-28, 06:03 AM
Well, I think the thread's about done, anyway. :smallbiggrin:

Conan doesn't learn stealth or thievery in Tower of the Elephant, he's already great at it as soon as he arrives. Sure, he becomes less prone to youthful excesses as he gets older, but that's not really something you represent with mechanical changes. He does learn archery among the Hyrkanians (or so he claims in Queen of the Black Coast), though I don't know about horsemanship, but I would argue that these aren't best represented by class changes, they're just skills he picks up.

Torque
2008-09-28, 06:48 AM
Conan doesn't learn stealth or thievery in Tower of the Elephant, he's already great at it as soon as he arrives. Sure, he becomes less prone to youthful excesses as he gets older, but that's not really something you represent with mechanical changes. He does learn archery among the Hyrkanians (or so he claims in Queen of the Black Coast), though I don't know about horsemanship, but I would argue that these aren't best represented by class changes, they're just skills he picks up.
I would argue that they are best represented as skills he picks up, which are then added to his class and improve with it rather than having a life of their own.

MartinHarper
2008-09-28, 06:48 AM
Moving on from the TWF-ranger:


A wood-walking archer build is nevertheless good at picking locks even if they've never seen a lock in their life.

If I'm playing a wood-walking archer, who has never seen a lock in her life, and I come across a locked door, my archer is going to be very confused. Perhaps she will think the door is stuck, or warded with magic, or bolted from the inside. She isn't going to make a Thievery check to pick the lock, because she doesn't know what a lock is. It doesn't matter what her mechanical Thievery bonus is, because I'm not going to be rolling any dice. Similarly, I won't be making a DC0 Streetwise check to see if my archer knows what a lock is, because I already know that she's never seen a lock in her life.

Matthew
2008-09-28, 06:53 AM
I would argue that they are best represented as skills he picks up, which are then added to his class and improve with it rather than having a life of their own.

The problem (in the context of the D20/3e DC system) is that there is no aptitude progression. Conan doesn't become better at the skills he picks up, he just acquires them and that is that. I agree that they are best simply added to his class, rather than indicative of class change (since his archetype doesn't actually change during the course of his adventures), but there are no doubt multiple ways of representing Conan.




If I'm playing a wood-walking archer, who has never seen a lock in her life, and I come across a locked door, my archer is going to be very confused. Perhaps she will think the door is stuck, or warded with magic, or bolted from the inside. She isn't going to make a Thievery check to pick the lock, because she doesn't know what a lock is. It doesn't matter what her mechanical Thievery bonus is, because I'm not going to be rolling any dice. Similarly, I won't be making a DC0 Streetwise check to see if my archer knows what a lock is, because I already know that she's never seen a lock in her life.

That is, in my opinion, a good way of thinking about it, and as long as you and the game master on on the same page regarding your character's abilities, judicious use of circumstance bonuses might even create that within the rules. The character's ability to pick the lock would then be only potential and not actual.

Torque
2008-09-28, 07:00 AM
The problem (in the context of the D20/3e DC system) is that there is no aptitude progression. Conan doesn't become better at the skills he picks up, he just acquires them and that is that.
In a D&D context that may simply be because he is already high level when we meet him and the difference between, say horsemanship 12 and 13 is harder to discern than that between 1 and 2, or 0 and 1 for that matter.

In other words: if a character is 8th level when s/he learns a skill then after the training period (which for Bond appears to be about 45 seconds) they are 8th level in that skill and when they reach 9th level in their class, they would become 9th level in all their skills too.

As a general rule, heroic characters in stories seem to work that way rather than, for example, Batman taking a couple of years of study to get his electronics up to the same level as his acrobatics.

I've tinkered with this idea a few times (under a different name), but I think I'm getting close to trying it out with the current group using a "proficiency slot" model for free, and then an xp cost for maintaining skills beyond that number.

Matthew
2008-09-28, 07:18 AM
In a D&D context that may simply be because he is already high level when we meet him and the difference between, say horsemanship 12 and 13 is harder to discern than that between 1 and 2, or 0 and 1 for that matter.

As a general rule, heroic characters in stories seem to work that way rather than, for example, Batman taking a couple of years of study to get his electronics up to the same level as his acrobatics.

I think it's safe to say that Conan isn't subject to the rules of D&D, the question is only how we would best model Conan if we wanted him (or his equivalent) to appear in the game. Even something we might think simple, such as figuring out what level he might be in each story is subject to a huge degree of variety, and heavily dependent on what we think "level" means. Is he level 20 in The Phoenix on the Sword, or is he level 9, or even level 6? Any one of those answers could be reasonable, or none of them.

In short, we have no way of gauging Conan's aptitude for any skill, never mind any progression that might be reasonable. He could be as appropriately modelled by an AD&D fighter 6 as a D20/3e Barbarian 4/Fighter 12/Rogue 4, or some other combination, depending on what model the rest of the world follows.



I've tinkered with this idea a few times (under a different name), but I think I'm getting close to trying it out with the current group using a "proficiency slot" model for free, and then an xp cost for maintaining skills beyond that number.

When I was using a skill system for AD&D, I did something similar. Characters started with about twenty proficiencies, could learn more, and were awarded character points (usually when they reached a new experience level, but other causes were possible) to advance their level of proficiency. These were capped by level at [10 + level], but we also had abilities that could grant from a +1 to +4 bonus on top of that.

So, a level four Thief might have...


Sneak: Proficient (10), Advancement (4), Stealth Ability (4), Dexterity (2) = 20

...whilst a level four Fighter might have...


Sneak: Proficient (10), Advancement (0), Dexterity (1) = 11

...and a level four Magician...


Sneak: Not Proficient (6), Advancement (0), Dexterity (2) = 8

Lots of fun to tinker with.

Thane of Fife
2008-09-28, 07:41 AM
and were awarded character points (usually when they reached a new experience level, but other causes were possible) to advance their level of proficiency

I think that this might be a flaw, as it forces (forced?) characters to actually have to choose between skills.

Instead, I think that a skill system should probably have some way of increasing skills as they're used, and possibly also with level. Add some way to prevent skills being raised unless they're used for challenges of the appropriate difficulty, and I think that you'd have a decent system (although it wouldn't work for knowledge skills and the like).

Matthew
2008-09-28, 09:21 AM
I think that this might be a flaw, as it forces (forced?) characters to actually have to choose between skills.

Instead, I think that a skill system should probably have some way of increasing skills as they're used, and possibly also with level. Add some way to prevent skills being raised unless they're used for challenges of the appropriate difficulty, and I think that you'd have a decent system (although it wouldn't work for knowledge skills and the like).

Well, that was what we eventually concluded during play; though this was before any of us had really played D20/3e, the same skill system problems were evident. Limited character building resources encourages optimisation if all relevant skills are not equally useful in the primary adventuring context. There were also problems with limited resources for building the characters people envisioned, which was a more important concern. A number of mathematical solutions were tried, but eventually we just settled on a "just acquire and advance skills as seems reasonable" approach, which led rather quickly to "just dump skills and assign probabilities that seem reasonable".

My own homebrew skill based RPG (no classes or levels) worked similarly to what you describe, with skills being advanced as used and with regard to challenges faced or time spent training or practicing skills. That worked on a 0-60 scale, with 40 being "Good" and advancement beyond 40 increasingly difficult to achieve and sustain.

Torque
2008-09-28, 09:35 AM
Instead, I think that a skill system should probably have some way of increasing skills as they're used, and possibly also with level. Add some way to prevent skills being raised unless they're used for challenges of the appropriate difficulty, and I think that you'd have a decent system (although it wouldn't work for knowledge skills and the like).

Tried it. It quickly decends into "Skills you use in play" which are high and "Skills which we all know the character uses daily but which don't feature in play" which are all low. Unless your group plays literally ever moment of every character's life it just doesn't work.

And, again, the real issue is that you're trying to simulate reality. Which is fine, but I don't want to do that - I want to simulate myth and legend and fantasy literature.

Matthew
2008-09-28, 09:51 AM
And, again, the real issue is that you're trying to simulate reality. Which is fine, but I don't want to do that - I want to simulate myth and legend and fantasy literature.

Almost exactly what caused us to dump numerically defined skills altogether.

SilentNight
2008-09-28, 09:55 AM
Catching a companion who has fallen while climbing.

Mike_G
2008-09-29, 03:33 PM
Whoo, lot's can happen when I'm away on the ambulance for 24 hours.

Returning again to the Conan comparison and representing heroes in AD&D, the AD&D Deities and Demigods represents almost all the heroes from literature and myth with multiclassing options that are against the rules, as far as the actual PHB goes. Fine for gods, but I'm just talking about human heroes.

Fafhrd had levels in Ranger, Thief, and I think Fight. The Grey Mouser had levels in Fighter, Thief and Magic User. I'm sure Conan would have had levels in Thief, Fighter, and Ranger, since Barbarian wasn't a class then.

Now, when the game designers themselves can't represent archetypal fantasy characters and follow their own rules, I think that says something.


Limited character building resources encourages optimisation if all relevant skills are not equally useful in the primary adventuring context. There were also problems with limited resources for building the characters people envisioned, which was a more important concern. A number of mathematical solutions were tried, but eventually we just settled on a "just acquire and advance skills as seems reasonable" approach, which led rather quickly to "just dump skills and assign probabilities that seem reasonable".


I don't see limited resources as being a problem. You can't be a master at everything, but you can dabble in several things. I find the a la carte system of 3e better for building a specific concept, or for representing character development than "pick a class and stay in it for better or for worse. Unless you are short or have pointy ears, when we'll let you mix it up. 'cause we're gonna arbitrarily halt your advancement anyway, so live it up, Shorty." idea of AD&D.

I think, in actual play, starting at 1st level, feat, class and skill builds don't take all that long and don't result in the abominations we see on the boards. It also represents best (to me) the concept of evolving characters, who pick their next stuff in response to the campaign. A 1st level Fighter may take Weapon Focus, which is an oft derided Feat, because +1 to hit makes a big difference at 1st level, and you need to survive 1st to get to build further. The "Start at 20th Level" builds are the monstrosities who dip six classes to get Evasion, Monk abilities, a few bonus feats from 2 levels of Fighter, Skirmish, etc in one big, messed up package.

I very much like the idea of allowing a PC to focus in a few skills or spread points out among many. The 3e system may be imperfect, but I don't think it's worse than anything else I've seen proposed, and is very tweakable.

Torque
2008-09-29, 03:53 PM
Whoo, lot's can happen when I'm away on the ambulance for 24 hours.
24 hours on an ambulance?! What are you, a lawyer? Thank you, I'll be here all week (or until Gorby bans me).


Fafhrd had levels in Ranger, Thief, and I think Fight. The Grey Mouser had levels in Fighter, Thief and Magic User. I'm sure Conana would have had levels in Theif, Fighter, and Ranger, since Barbarian wasn't a class then.

Now, when the game designers themselves can't represent archetypal fantasy characters and follow their own rules, I think that says something.

Not wishing to cast aspersions on Jim Ward, but I've never agreed with Fafhrd needing anything other than either fighter or ranger (and I'd probably go for fighter). The Mouser is, IMO, an example of a 1e Dual-Classed Magic-user/thief. His magic use never really improves over time; it's something static from his past.

Conan isn't in DDG but I've again never been convinced of the "Fighter with thief skills" model. As far as I can see Conan's thief skills are move silently and hide in shadows, and these could be racial abilities or even simply the DM rewarding careful play (bearing in mind that hide in shadows is quite a powerful ability in 1e). 15th+ level Fighter seems a reasonable estimation with the right ability scores. As to the UA Barbarian, I think it's worth remembering how often the real (ie, REH) Conan put on armour rather than expecting a special Dex bonus to save him.

Having said all that, if a player can give me a reasonably likely background story, I may and do allow some special abilities. But, as Ken was saying in the other thread, I don't see any reason to allow full-scale dipping into classes as complex as Monk or Magic User without real in-game sacrifices being made (mostly in the form of time out from play).

Thane of Fife
2008-09-29, 03:54 PM
Returning again to the Conan comparison and representing heroes in AD&D, the AD&D Deities and Demigods represents almost all the heroes from literature and myth with multiclassing options that are against the rules, as far as the actual PHB goes. Fine for gods, but I'm just talking about human heroes.

Fafhrd had levels in Ranger, Thief, and I think Fight. The Grey Mouser had levels in Fighter, Thief and Magic User. I'm sure Conan would have had levels in Thief, Fighter, and Ranger, since Barbarian wasn't a class then.

Now, when the game designers themselves can't represent archetypal fantasy characters and follow their own rules, I think that says something.

Technically, humans can dual-class in 1e and 2e (I think they can in 1e, anyway), which makes all of these class combinations possible, assuming sufficiently high stats.

Matthew
2008-09-29, 04:12 PM
Returning again to the Conan comparison and representing heroes in AD&D, the AD&D Deities and Demigods represents almost all the heroes from literature and myth with multiclassing options that are against the rules, as far as the actual PHB goes. Fine for gods, but I'm just talking about human heroes.

Fafhrd had levels in Ranger, Thief, and I think Fight. The Grey Mouser had levels in Fighter, Thief and Magic User. I'm sure Conan would have had levels in Thief, Fighter, and Ranger, since Barbarian wasn't a class then.

Now, when the game designers themselves can't represent archetypal fantasy characters and follow their own rules, I think that says something.

Well... if I recall correctly, Gygax wasn't actually responsible for that text, though he would have rubber stamped it. On the other hand, he did produce stats for Conan in Dragon at one stage. I think he might have had levels in Thief or something, but I'd have to check. Gygax's views certainly changed over time. I don't really think it says much, to be honest.

[edit]
Apparently, Gygax uses the classes only to describe Conan in various ways (exactly what I would have hoped). At age 40 he has the abilities of a twenty-fourth level fighter, and a twelfth level thief, but by age 70 he has only the abilities of a twelfth level fighter and an eighth level thief (these are not the results of level drain!). Conan also has a crapload of special abilities, including 25% magic resistance, and latent psychic powers, according to Gygax.

The class based system of AD&D was not supposed to constrain you from depicting literary characters, but give a structure for player character advancement and playing the game. It is not a structure that is supposed to model the world, let alone simulate or mimic real life skill acquisition and advancement.



I don't see limited resources as being a problem. You can't be a master at everything, but you can dabble in several things. I find the a la carte system of 3e better for building a specific concept, or for representing character development than "pick a class and stay in it for better or for worse. Unless you are short or have pointy ears, when we'll let you mix it up. 'cause we're gonna arbitrarily halt your advancement anyway, so live it up, Shorty." idea of AD&D.

I think, in actual play, starting at 1st level, feat, class and skill builds don't take all that long and don't result in the abominations we see on the boards. It also represents best (to me) the concept of evolving characters, who pick their next stuff in response to the campaign. A 1st level Fighter may take Weapon Focus, which is an oft derided Feat, because +1 to hit makes a big difference at 1st level, and you need to survive 1st to get to build further. The "Start at 20th Level" builds are the monstrosities who dip six classes to get Evasion, Monk abilities, a few bonus feats from 2 levels of Fighter, Skirmish, etc in one big, messed up package.

I very much like the idea of allowing a PC to focus in a few skills or spread points out among many. The 3e system may be imperfect, but I don't think it's worse than anything else I've seen proposed, and is very tweakable.
Well, I think this is probably just one of those areas where we are at fundamental disagreement. I very much dislike the things you're talking about because I don't see them as fun parts of the game. I don't even like AD&D weapon proficiencies or specialisation, as it goes. :smallbiggrin:

I much prefer the idea of a character being limited only by your imagination in terms of acquiring or advancing capabilities outside the basic class parameters.

Mike_G
2008-09-29, 06:49 PM
Technically, humans can dual-class in 1e and 2e (I think they can in 1e, anyway), which makes all of these class combinations possible, assuming sufficiently high stats.

Sort of.

You could dual class, but you had to stop advancing in one class and take another. Until the second class level caught up, you couldn't use the features from the first class, or gain HP. So a 5 level Magic user who decide to dual class to Fighter would be a 1st level Fighter with his 5th level MU hp, unable to use spells, until he became a 5th level Fighter, after which point, he'd advance further as a Fighter, but be able to cast spells up to where he got as a Magic User, but not progress further in his magic.

So, yeah, you kinda could do it, but not if you wanted to gain in both classes, like a multiclassed demihuman could.

It was kind of a nightmare, and I never saw anyone do it, except those trying to build to Bard, which required starting as a Fighter for 5-7 levels, then switching to Thief until you got 5-7 levels, then became a Bard. The original Jump Through Way Too Many Hoops Prestige Class.

Ponder all this while you hear how 1e was a simpler game.

Mike_G
2008-09-29, 06:54 PM
Well, I think this is probably just one of those areas where we are at fundamental disagreement. I very much dislike the things you're talking about because I don't see them as fun parts of the game. I don't even like AD&D weapon proficiencies or specialisation, as it goes. :smallbiggrin:

I much prefer the idea of a character being limited only by your imagination in terms of acquiring or advancing capabilities outside the basic class parameters.

I think we want the same thing, but take different roads.

I want to be able to mechanically represent the character I envision. That's hard in AD&D, unless you envision a basic archetype, or hiouserule the bejeesus out of it.

I find that working out a ruling stops the narrative flow of the adventure. Just assigning a quick DC and having the player make a roll with already established modifiers lets me quickly resolve the action and then get on with the game.

I can see your approach working, but only with a good DM, and a good group dynamic, where everyone was more or less on the same page.

oh, and I'm a Paramedic, by the way. We work 24 hour shifts because our company is dedicated to workplace safety and ensuring good patient care to those in need.

Oddly, shifts that are forbidden as unsafe for a guy delivering Oreos to 7-11 are pretty common practice in the medical field.

Matthew
2008-09-29, 07:24 PM
Ponder all this while you hear how 1e was a simpler game.

Ha, ha. I dunno whether that rather corner case example should be the standard test for complexity. :smallbiggrin:



I think we want the same thing, but take different roads.

I want to be able to mechanically represent the character I envision. That's hard in AD&D, unless you envision a basic archetype, or hiouserule the bejeesus out of it.

I find that working out a ruling stops the narrative flow of the adventure. Just assigning a quick DC and having the player make a roll with already established modifiers lets me quickly resolve the action and then get on with the game.

I can see your approach working, but only with a good DM, and a good group dynamic, where everyone was more or less on the same page.

Yes you generally need a good DM and a willing group to get the best out of AD&D. It is simple to run under the right conditions, but figuring out "how to play" (and I don't mean figuring out the rules, though the presentation means there is some of that as well) is an ongoing process, and not something that is well explained in the rulebooks themselves.



oh, and I'm a Paramedic, by the way. We work 24 hour shifts because our company is dedicated to workplace safety and ensuring good patient care to those in need.

Oddly, shifts that are forbidden as unsafe for a guy delivering Oreos to 7-11 are pretty common practice in the medical field.

Yeah, same deal with doctors. I will never understand why it is considered okay for them to work the hours they do.

Thane of Fife
2008-09-29, 07:58 PM
Sort of.

You could dual class, but you had to stop advancing in one class and take another. Until the second class level caught up, you couldn't use the features from the first class, or gain HP. So a 5 level Magic user who decide to dual class to Fighter would be a 1st level Fighter with his 5th level MU hp, unable to use spells, until he became a 5th level Fighter, after which point, he'd advance further as a Fighter, but be able to cast spells up to where he got as a Magic User, but not progress further in his magic.

So, yeah, you kinda could do it, but not if you wanted to gain in both classes, like a multiclassed demihuman could.

It was kind of a nightmare, and I never saw anyone do it, except those trying to build to Bard, which required starting as a Fighter for 5-7 levels, then switching to Thief until you got 5-7 levels, then became a Bard. The original Jump Through Way Too Many Hoops Prestige Class.

Ponder all this while you hear how 1e was a simpler game.

I'm perfectly aware of all this. No, you couldn't advance in two classes simultaneously as a human, but you could advance in multiple classes as a human. Was it always a good idea? No, not really. On top of which, you needed unbelievably awesome ability scores to pull it off (15 in the prime requisite of the first class and 17 in that of the second?! You might be able to pull that off with 4d6, dropping the lowest).

Technically, the last bard switch was to Druid.

And you could use abilities from all of your classes (at least, you could in 2e), it just gave you an unbelievably awful experience penalty - as in, you don't get any.

Anyway, my point was that the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser characters you cited would not qualify as illegal, unless they didn't have the unbelievably high ability scores which I would expect from them.

Mike_G
2008-09-29, 09:22 PM
Ha, ha. I dunno whether that rather corner case example should be the standard test for complexity. :smallbiggrin:


See, I think that's the perfect example. Instead of just adding an optional class for Bard starting at level 1, with the music and spells and some skills, the AD&D solution was to find the most tortured and complex way possible to get to the same place. That's pretty much how the system rolled. Like Monks, who needed a high Dex, but didn't get the AC bonus from it, but they did get an untyped bonus that increased with level.

"Have a hole in the rules? Not to worry. A counterintuitive solution incompatible with any existing rules is just an issue of Dragon away."








Yeah, same deal with doctors. I will never understand why it is considered okay for them to work the hours they do.

I am no closer to understanding it.

Of course, it's nice to have five days off a week. The two 24 hour shifts are brutal, though.

Matthew
2008-09-29, 10:06 PM
See, I think that's the perfect example. Instead of just adding an optional class for Bard starting at level 1, with the music and spells and some skills, the AD&D solution was to find the most tortured and complex way possible to get to the same place. That's pretty much how the system rolled. Like Monks, who needed a high Dex, but didn't get the AC bonus from it, but they did get an untyped bonus that increased with level.

"Have a hole in the rules? Not to worry. A counterintuitive solution incompatible with any existing rules is just an issue of Dragon away."

Ha, ha. If I recall correctly, you never gave AD&D 2e a whirl, where things are a good deal simpler. That said, Bards and Monks are shoved to the edges of the PHB as "special cases". I agree that AD&D has randomly complex things in it, though.

Torque
2008-09-30, 02:47 AM
See, I think that's the perfect example. Instead of just adding an optional class for Bard starting at level 1, with the music and spells and some skills, the AD&D solution was to find the most tortured and complex way possible to get to the same place.
Actually, the whole class was optional and, IME, generally ignored. I've seen people try psionics in 1e more often than I've seen a BtB bard.


That's pretty much how the system rolled. Like Monks, who needed a high Dex, but didn't get the AC bonus from it, but they did get an untyped bonus that increased with level.
They also get all the other high-Dex bonuses and a Dex-based protection from missiles (I have a monk in my current group who has a 55% blanket protection from all normal missiles at 1st level); it's only normalAC that works differently for them. People seem to forget that.

hamlet
2008-09-30, 07:53 AM
In terms of Conan, I've always found that trying to assign him any other class than fighter is, really, futile. Being a thief in terms of Conan is more a function of what he does rather than any special skills he had. He steals and is thus a thief. No need to add extra skills to him to emulate thief abilities he never really emulates.

Yes, he sometimes sneaks, but I think that's more him being cautions and quiet rather than tramping through like a heard of barbarians.

Yes, he can track, but that's more of his experience in the wilderness than being a ranger.

Conan was/is, simply put, a fighter played cautiously and well in terms of D&D.

Torque
2008-09-30, 08:10 AM
Conan was/is, simply put, a fighter played cautiously and well in terms of D&D.
Hear hear!

hamlet
2008-09-30, 08:13 AM
Hear hear!

There there?

I thought I was over here . . .

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 12:36 PM
Conan was/is, simply put, a fighter played cautiously and well in terms of D&D.


That's great, if you have a DM who can wrap his head around that.

I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player ever to run into the "you can't sneak/climb/etc, you're a Fighter."

Having the ability to mechanically quantify your character's chance to do so, you have some option besides your Diplomacy to DM skill.

Jayabalard
2008-09-30, 12:44 PM
I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player ever to run into the "you can't sneak/climb/etc, you're a Fighter."I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player to never have been told or told anyone that.

If you were told that while playing AD&D, then personally I think you were doing it wrong. But if that's the way that you enjoy the game, then whatever floats your boat.

hamlet
2008-09-30, 12:52 PM
That's great, if you have a DM who can wrap his head around that.

I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player ever to run into the "you can't sneak/climb/etc, you're a Fighter."

Having the ability to mechanically quantify your character's chance to do so, you have some option besides your Diplomacy to DM skill.

Ever hear of the book "How to Manage your Boss"?

Same principles apply with the DM.

If they can't wrap their heads around a concept, then wrap their heads around it for them.

Torque
2008-09-30, 01:00 PM
That's great, if you have a DM who can wrap his head around that.

I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player ever to run into the "you can't sneak/climb/etc, you're a Fighter."
Sure, that's why I think the main thing wrong with 1e is that there's not enough examples of good DMing in the DMG; the examples are all too short. But pages are a limited resource in a printed book.

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 01:03 PM
I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player to never have been told or told anyone that.

If you were told that while playing AD&D, then personally I think you were doing it wrong. But if that's the way that you enjoy the game, then whatever floats your boat.

Yes.

Yes, that's exactly the way I like to play, which is why I've spent 5 pages complaining about it, and why I prefer a system that doesn't work that way.

horseboy
2008-09-30, 01:20 PM
I'm sure I'm not the only AD&D player ever to run into the "you can't sneak/climb/etc, you're a Fighter."

Having the ability to mechanically quantify your character's chance to do so, you have some option besides your Diplomacy to DM skill.When I ran I just did away with thief and gave everybody thief skills, others said "no" I had one say: "Yeah, sure."

Matthew
2008-09-30, 01:37 PM
When I ran I just did away with thief and gave everybody thief skills, others said "no" I had one say: "Yeah, sure."

So you were playing OD&D more or less without the Greyhawk supplement, then? :smallbiggrin:

Yeah, that was my first step towards adding a skill system to AD&D (and it should be noted that in AD&D 1e it was "Thief Functions", which only became "Thief Skills" in AD&D 2e). I gave everybody the eight percentage abilities of a Thief unmodified by "skill points", but modified by race and class. It took a while to get out of the mindset of "Thief Skills".

{table=head]Ability | Percentage
Pick Pockets | 15
Open Locks | 10
Find/Remove Traps | 05
Move Silently | 10
Hide in Shadows | 05
Detect Noise | 15
Climb Walls | 60
Read Language | 00
[/table]

Jayabalard
2008-09-30, 01:49 PM
Yes, that's exactly the way I like to play, which is why I've spent 5 pages complaining about it, and why I prefer a system that doesn't work that way.I hear that FATAL has mechanics to cover everything imaginable and a few things that aren't... perhaps you should try that one :smallbiggrin:

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 06:34 PM
I hear that FATAL has mechanics to cover everything imaginable and a few things that aren't... perhaps you should try that one :smallbiggrin:

Joking aside, there is a huge spectrum from a diceless, DM fiat system like Amber and a juvenile date rape simulator like FATAL.

I think that skills and actions that will matter in an adventure, like whether you hit or miss with your sword, or whether you successfully climb the wall or fall should have a mechanic. How much your junk increases in size when aroused is something best handled by rp, or, preferably, not at all.

Ever.

I don't need nipple erection tables. I would like mechanics for sneaking.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-30, 06:38 PM
I don't need nipple erection tables. I would like mechanics for sneaking.

Um... FATAL doesn't really have a nipple erection table, does it?

I mean, I know it has really disgusting and offensive mechanics but... dare I ask what would be listed on such a table? :smalleek:

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 06:43 PM
Um... FATAL doesn't really have a nipple erection table, does it?

I mean, I know it has really disgusting and offensive mechanics but... dare I ask what would be listed on such a table? :smalleek:

I've not read the whole rules myself, but I've heard that it does. I know it has rules for determining genital size (and, horrifyingingly, capacity)

I don't know anyone who's actually played FATAL, but I know a lot of people who've downloaded the pdf to howl with laughter/shake their heads in disbelief at it.

Thane of Fife
2008-09-30, 06:50 PM
Um... FATAL doesn't really have a nipple erection table, does it?

I mean, I know it has really disgusting and offensive mechanics but... dare I ask what would be listed on such a table?

Size. And Bodily Attractiveness Modifier. There's also a chance that the nipples will be inverted (1%).

The file is possibly worth downloading for amusement purposes. Plus, if you ever accidentally swallow something poisonous, you can read the 'Ripped Orifices' section to help induce vomiting.

Matthew
2008-09-30, 06:51 PM
If I recall correctly, SwordGuy has played FATAL (http://www.donatebytes.com/fatal.pdf), and it wouldn't surprise me at all to find such things in it. Take a look for yourself, though.

Now to be clear, it is not rules for sneaking that are wanted, but specific rules for advancing and contesting sneaking. There is a general rule for handling every none specified action in AD&D, but the argument being put here is that it is not sufficient (or so I understand it).

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 06:59 PM
Basically, I want enough mechanics to cover the common, expected things that adventurers will do, where sucess or failure will have repercussions. Fighting, spellcasting, and things like disarming traps or sneaking past guards fall into these categories.

I've never seen the value of exhaustive tables on getting drunk, generating random prostitutes (another glorious feature of the "simple" 1e) or pikcing up barmaids.

I see no reason why the Magic User has a mechanic (THACO or the chart in the 1e DMG) to hit an orc in melee, even though that's the Fighter's job, but dosen't have a mechinc to sneak past the orc instead, since that's the Thief's job.

I'm having a hard time seeing why one should have clear rules, and one should be total DM fiat.

Matthew
2008-09-30, 07:10 PM
The response that comes (probably too quickly) from the lips of the designers of both AD&D 1e and AD&D 2e is that you were expected to make up rules or rulings to govern situations not included in the rulebooks.

If you look at the AD&D 1e manuals it is obvious that they are a gradual growth of rules, and the story told by Tim Kask is that they basically cut up some of the original OD&D booklets and constructed AD&D using them. That would certainly explain the haphazard level of detail in one place and abstraction in another. To put it another way, it's a collection of rules most frequently used or already printed by the game designers.

The AD&D 2e rules (and post 1985 1e rule books) are a completely different matter, being a total and systematic deconstruction of AD&D 1e with the expectation that you would build your own rules on top of the skeletal structure provided, according to taste. The fan base was already established, the idea was to keep printing stuff it could use, which meant minimum extra or new "standard" rules in new products (I think this is chief amongst the reasons for keeping the clunky attribute tables). This didn't prevent them printing tons of new "optional" rules, of course.

There is a huge amount of rules growth over the couple of decades that AD&D was in print, and 80% of it became D20/3e. An extremely well put together synthesis of AD&D standard and optional rules in a cohesive form that hit all the right buttons of the majority of the fan base (both potential and actual), but not everyone.

There is no particular reason for one section of the rules (such as combat) to be ultra detailed, and another to be very abstract (such as sneaking), it's just the way that they organically developed (and to be fair, that is still the case in D20/3e, combat is way more detailed than any other aspect of play). As it goes, I prefer it without skills and cut as much of the clunky combat mechanics out as I can, but it's totally preference related.

Mike_G
2008-09-30, 07:57 PM
The response that comes (probably too quickly) from the lips of the designers of both AD&D 1e and AD&D 2e is that you were expected to make up rules or rulings to govern situations not included in the rulebooks.

If you look at the AD&D 1e manuals it is obvious that they are a gradual growth of rules, and the story told by Tim Kask is that they basically cut up some of the original OD&D booklets and constructed AD&D using them. That would certainly explain the haphazard level of detail in one place and abstraction in another. To put it another way, it's a collection of rules most frequently used or already printed by the game designers.


Yeah. I could see that just from reading the rules. Nobody would sit down and make a system that inconsistent.

I enjoyed AD&D, but I always found it a bit lacking, and enjoyed other systems much more, which is why I never really played 2e. It's just hard to get a group together for RuneQuest, and more work to DM it.

3e is a good compromise for me.

ETA: I enjoy debating with you, because I like exchaning view with someone ration with whom I disagree, as opposed to just agreeing, or trying to deal with an irrational POV.

My snarky anti AD&D comments are largely in reaction to people who seem to think that D&D jumped the tracks when Elf stopped being a class. It irks me to read how AD&D didn't have silly builds to get these newfangled Prestige Classes, when I can say "Dude. 1e Bard, the original PrC," or hear how real D&Ders don't need mechanics to tell them how to roleplay social situations when the 1e DMG had a random prostitute encounter table. A Bluff skill is for 3e types with no imagination, but the Grognards needed to roll D100 to see if they met a Brazen Strumpet or a Tawdry Slut.

D&D has always been a Frankensteinian mess of rules, suffering from supplement bloat. That's part of its charm. The mark of a good DM has always been how he deals with the rules and keeps the game flowing.

I find 3e short circuits the disputes and ad hoc game design sessions that used to bring many a game to a grinding halt in my high school years. You obviously like the freedom of the Just Wing That Mother resolution engine.

It all come down to group dynamics, I guess.

Torque
2008-10-01, 02:54 AM
It irks me to read how AD&D didn't have silly builds to get these newfangled Prestige Classes, when I can say "Dude. 1e Bard, the original PrC,"
The original optional PrC which no one used and which apparently wasn't bad enough to prevent it being copied as an idea? That Bard?


or hear how real D&Ders don't need mechanics to tell them how to roleplay social situations when the 1e DMG had a random prostitute encounter table.
I don't see what having encounter tables of any kind has to do with game mechanics of any kind. Do you not have random encounters in cities? Is literally every event scripted when a party walks around a market place in some town of ten thousand NPCs?


A Bluff skill is for 3e types with no imagination, but the Grognards needed to roll D100 to see if they met a Brazen Strumpet or a Tawdry Slut.

Yes, yes, we get the idea :smallsigh: Deary me!


I find 3e short circuits the disputes and ad hoc game design sessions that used to bring many a game to a grinding halt in my high school years.
Well, it short circuits disputes by being an unplayable mess with a ludicrously overcomplicated combat system, a character generation system seemingly designed to distract the player from the character's personality, and a skill system which produces unreasonable results as its baseline functioning. For the groups I've played with there were no disputes: we played something else.


You obviously like the freedom of the Just Wing That Mother resolution engine.
Absolutely - "no system" beats "bad system" every time.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-10-01, 03:00 AM
I... kind of want to see what's on the d100 Wench Table. Is it listed on the 'tubes?

Charity
2008-10-01, 04:01 AM
Probably not legitimately, I imagine there is some copyright thingy still in effect.

Torque
2008-10-01, 04:19 AM
The table in question is effectively a social level roll from the lowest slappers up to madams and wealthy pimps. Part of the fun is that the wealthier harlots can be mistaken for normal women of various social ranks. Add in a bit of low wisdom and you're ready for an amusing jaunt into low humour and possibly double entendres with added punny goodness.

Think "Covent Garden, 1720" and you'll have a good idea what the list is about.

Mike_G
2008-10-01, 07:49 AM
The original optional PrC which no one used and which apparently wasn't bad enough to prevent it being copied as an idea? That Bard?



I've seen people play the 1e Bard



I don't see what having encounter tables of any kind has to do with game mechanics of any kind. Do you not have random encounters in cities? Is literally every event scripted when a party walks around a market place in some town of ten thousand NPCs?


Nothing wrong at all, unless you deride 3e for having rules for social situations and sneer about the superiority oif the 1st edition, where we just RPed like Real Men.






Well, it short circuits disputes by being an unplayable mess with a ludicrously overcomplicated combat system, a character generation system seemingly designed to distract the player from the character's personality, and a skill system which produces unreasonable results as its baseline functioning. For the groups I've played with there were no disputes: we played something else.



Wow.

I see you maxed your Hyperbole skill.

3e is not an unplayable mess. It's not even in the running for most complicated combat system, and if having Feats distracts from your character's personality, you need to load up on the Gingko.

I found 1e to be a far bigger mess, as it was more a tagle of loosely related systems than it was a single system. I'm thrilled that some people gamed with saints, diplomats and finishing school grads. In my experience the vague rules lead to disputes, or to a DM being distracted trying to wing a house rule in the middle of the action. Having a ruel handy avoids that.

I'm really sorry D20 + bonuses vs DC has hurt so many of you so much and ruined gaming. Percentage chance puuled from my butt is so much better.

I've seen the light.

Matthew
2008-10-01, 07:59 AM
I enjoy debating with you, because I like exchaning view with someone ration with whom I disagree, as opposed to just agreeing, or trying to deal with an irrational POV.

Always a pleasure.



I find 3e short circuits the disputes and ad hoc game design sessions that used to bring many a game to a grinding halt in my high school years. You obviously like the freedom of the Just Wing That Mother resolution engine.

It all come down to group dynamics, I guess.

Indeed.



I... kind of want to see what's on the d100 Wench Table. Is it listed on the 'tubes?



Probably not legitimately, I imagine there is some copyright thingy still in effect.

Should be okay to use as an example of what the city/town encounter tables are like. If dicing for random encounters, a roll of 40-1 (daytime) or 44-50 (nightime) would lead to the following entry:



Harlot encounters can be with brazen strumpets or haughty courtesans, thus making it difficult for the party to distinguish each encounter for what it is. (In fact, the encounter could be with a dancer only prostituting herself as it pleases her, an elderly madam, or even a pimp.) In addition to the offering of the usual fare, the harlot is 30% likely to know valuable information, 15% likely to make something up in order to gain a reward, and 20% likely to be, or work with, a thief. You may find it useful to use the sub-table below to see which sort of harlot encounter takes place:

{table=head]D100 Roll | Harlot Type
01-10 | Slovenly Trull
11-25 | Brazen Strumpet
26-35 | Cheap Trollop
36-50 | Typical Streetwalker
51-65 | Saucy Tart
66-75 | Wanton Wench
76-85 | Expensive Doxy
86-90 | Haughty Courtesan
91-92 | Aged Madam
93-94 | Wealthy Procuress
95-98 | Sly Pimp
99-00 | Rich Panderer
[/table]

An expensive doxy will resemble a gentlewoman, a haughty courtesan a noblewoman, the other harlots might be mistaken for goodwives, and so forth.

Torque
2008-10-01, 08:01 AM
Nothing wrong at all, unless you deride 3e for having rules for social situations and sneer about the superiority oif the 1st edition, where we just RPed like Real Men.
Explain to me, if you will, the connection between these things. Why does having an encounter table make having rules about how players play their characters in social situations more (or less) justified? I just don't see what one has to do with the other.


I'm really sorry D20 + bonuses vs DC has hurt so many of you so much and ruined gaming. Percentage chance puuled from my butt is so much better.
And a DC is pulled from where exactly?

hamlet
2008-10-01, 08:04 AM
The much maligned "Random Prostitute Table" and its near kin of city random encounters were there, explicitly, for a reason: to provide random city details for when the planned adventure went off the rails. It was there for when the PC's decided to ignore the punk pickpocket and just go out, as teenage boys were wont to do apparantly, trolling for whores. Or if there was nothing planned to occur in the city, but the DM felt like throwing something at the PC's anyways, and so could determine randomly what it was if he felt that way.

Those tables aren't rules. They're tools.

Kurald Galain
2008-10-01, 08:08 AM
Those tables aren't rules. They're tools.

Precisely. Also note that 1st edition D&D didn't take itself nearly as seriously as the later editions did (as witnessed by e.g. the silly cartoons in the manual, and the inside jokes that are material components {that were unfortunately propagated by people who Completely Missed The Point} ).

This is not FATAL. This is silliness. Don't make a big deal out of it.

Matthew
2008-10-01, 08:18 AM
The much maligned "Random Prostitute Table" and its near kin of city random encounters were there, explicitly, for a reason: to provide random city details for when the planned adventure went off the rails. It was there for when the PC's decided to ignore the punk pickpocket and just go out, as teenage boys were wont to do apparantly, trolling for whores. Or if there was nothing planned to occur in the city, but the DM felt like throwing something at the PC's anyways, and so could determine randomly what it was if he felt that way.

Those tables aren't rules. They're tools.

Exactly so. Anybody interested in such things might also care to check out this review of a modern set of such tables: City Encounters (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/review-city-encounters.html).

hamlet
2008-10-01, 08:24 AM
Exactly so. Anybody interested in such things might also care to check out this review of a modern set of such tables: City Encounters (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/review-city-encounters.html).

Yeah, I saw that.

While I don't often agree entirely with Grognardia, I find that he has a good nose for good product. He's the one who sold me on the Points of Light product from Goodman Games and I will never regret it.

Matthew
2008-10-01, 08:44 AM
While I don't often agree entirely with Grognardia, I find that he has a good nose for good product. He's the one who sold me on the Points of Light product from Goodman Games and I will never regret it.

I agree, and Points of Light is definitely a product I am looking to buy; I am really warming up the concept of micro settings.

Knaight
2008-10-01, 09:10 AM
And a DC is pulled from where exactly?

They have lists under each skill of what is what, and its the same for all characters meaning skills actually matter. The DC system is a simple, elegant, efficient system that takes skills into account, that suffers from being attached to the combat and level system of 3.x. It handles character skill far better than plain percentage does. It also suffers from having a predefined skill list, and there are stronger systems, such as the Fudge/Fate trait ladder(That said, this is by far the strongest skill system I have ever seen). Plus it got rid of some of the stuff percentage was used for, such as everybody having a certain percent chance to do something to the players, which should really never have been there. 1e grew out of wargames, so it dealt with combat, and made tables from there, and since then the game has evolved until skills started getting important, then 4e took off on a different branch, where skills were still more important than 1e. While it could be made better(5 ranks, bought independently, each rank costing the number of points in its rank, points granted at character creation, each rank gives 4 skill levels, then attributes are applied.)

Matthew
2008-10-01, 09:24 AM
They have lists under each skill of what is what, and its the same for all characters meaning skills actually matter. The DC system is a simple, elegant, efficient system that takes skills into account, that suffers from being attached to the combat and level system of 3.x. It handles character skill far better than plain percentage does. It also suffers from having a predefined skill list, and there are stronger systems, such as the Fudge/Fate trait ladder(That said, this is by far the strongest skill system I have ever seen). Plus it got rid of some of the stuff percentage was used for, such as everybody having a certain percent chance to do something to the players, which should really never have been there. 1e grew out of wargames, so it dealt with combat, and made tables from there, and since then the game has evolved until skills started getting important, then 4e took off on a different branch, where skills were still more important than 1e. While it could be made better(5 ranks, bought independently, each rank costing the number of points in its rank, points granted at character creation, each rank gives 4 skill levels, then attributes are applied.)

I strongly disagree with this. Difficulty Class is no different at all from Assigned Percentages in terms of elegance, simplicity or efficiency, and none of this has anything to do with the perceived roots of AD&D 1e. The only difference between AD&D and D20/3e is that the character's skill is numerically expressed and specific formula constructed to handle its interaction with the difficulty class.

{table=head] Difficulty | Example | Equivalent
Very easy (0) | Notice something large in plain sight (Spot) | 100%
Easy (5) | Climb a knotted rope (Climb) | 80%
Average (10) | Hear an approaching guard (Listen) | 55%
Tough (15) | Rig a wagon wheel to fall off (Disable Device) | 30%
Challenging (20) | Swim in stormy water (Swim) | 5%
Formidable (25) | Open an average lock (Open Lock) | −20%
Heroic (30) | Leap across a 30-foot chasm (Jump) | −45%
Nearly impossible (40) | Track a squad of orcs across hard ground after 24 hours of rainfall (Survival) | −95%
[/table]

Charity
2008-10-01, 09:26 AM
I agree, and Points of Light is definitely a product I am looking to buy; I am really warming up the concept of micro settings.
I still want to run a campaign based on Riverworld (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverworld) which could be deemed PoL or the opposite depending on how you wanna look at it.

Edit - stop all this posting while I dither malarky, it's really not helping..

Torque
2008-10-01, 09:31 AM
They have lists under each skill of what is what, and its the same for all characters meaning skills actually matter. The DC system is a simple, elegant, efficient system that takes skills into account, that suffers from being attached to the combat and level system of 3.x.
Funnily enough, the first problem I ever spotted in the DC system was its disconnect from the combat and level system in 3e.

Matthew
2008-10-01, 09:35 AM
I still want to run a campaign based on Riverworld (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverworld) which could be deemed PoL or the opposite depending on how you wanna look at it.

Sounds like an interesting setting; not many orcs to kill, though. :smallbiggrin:

Torque
2008-10-01, 09:39 AM
Sounds like an interesting setting; not many orcs to kill, though. :smallbiggrin:

There are Nazis, though!

How did you calculate that % column on your other post? Shouldn't DC 5 be 75%?

Matthew
2008-10-01, 09:45 AM
There are Nazis, though!

Heh, heh.



How did you calculate that % column on your other post? Shouldn't DC 5 be 75%?

Nah, that would be if you wanted to exceed 5 (6-20 on 1d20). If 5 is your target number, you need 5-20. Of course, those are direct unmodified percentage equivalents for rolling dice. Any time a character needs to roll 10 or less is an automatic success in D20/3e, given the right conditions, which leads to an annoying jump from 100% success to 50% success on account of +1 DC.

A ten foot wide pit? No sweat. I can jump that bad boy with 100% success every time! An eleven foot pit? No way, man; fifty/fifty at best.