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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunatic Sledge View Post
    For fighters, who do you think of? Conan? Beowulf? Conan could tear apart metal with his bare hands, pull down siege towers, survive a poison that could kill an ox in seconds, was described as "panther like" in his speed, stuff like that. Beowulf ripped the arm off a monster that had previously scooped up 30 men like it was no big deal. D&D Fighters don't do this stuff.
    The problem might be....D&D fighters are based on real fighters, not the fantasy ones. You know the real people who in 1000 marched to war. And that is exactly what was made ''this guy wears armor and can hit people with a weapon''.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Everybody should have something effective to do in every encounter (social or combat), should they wish
    This is not possible though, unless your going for a very simple game. Like get rid of classes, races and everything else. So everyone just has a character. Then give everyone exactly the same Action Points to add to rolls. Then play the game. As everyone has exactly the same character, everyone can do exactly the same thing all the time.

    Of course, there is also the 4/5E D&D way: Give every class Spells(or Abilities exactly like spells in everything except name) and, of course, nerf the powerful, real, spells.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And this, right here is why we can't have nice things. It isn't the "guy at the gym fallacy" or some theoretical linear vs. quadratic math, it is the idea that RPG characters are not allowed to be anything more than the sum of their class abilities.

    If people believe that you are no longer a magic user just because you don't have a spell for anything and everything, or that you are no longer a fighter because you can do things that are not "fighting," then that is a huge problem with both balance and fun.
    It is amazing how in modern times this idea has not only become popular, but become a demand ''it must be this way for us to even consider playing the game''.

    Set the Wayback Machine for any time before 2000. Back in that Long Ago Time Before Time, the idea of magic less magic-uses was common and accepted. The standard advice for a magic user was ''make sure your character has a dagger, staff or crossbow so that when your character runs out of spells, they can still fight. I can recall years of magic users casting only a handful of spells per adventure, mostly for big tough fights, and the rest of the time the magic user would stay in the back and maybe shoot a crossbow bolt or two.

    And someone saw that around 3E start and said, ''no way, wizards must be able to pew pew all the time or they are not wizards'', and it has gone down hill from there.

  2. - Top - End - #152
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Good point, I would however call it a double standard. Maybe there are times where it makes sense, but when you are trying to create stories where both martials and magicians are relevant, and relevant in the same way, it's not a good idea. Although to me a martial is not "someone who obeys the laws of physics" but a "body user". Or, if a caster is a master of the unseen forces of the universe, than a martial is the master of the seen forces of the universe.

    You can see anyone's body, but only the fighter can get theirs to move like that. You can see the animals and plants in the forest, but a ranger knows how to seek out the ones that are good to eat. You can see the lock and the lock picks, but a rogue has mastered their use. You can barely see the enemy captain from here, but the master archer can still pin them down with arrows.

    I would go on with high and high powered examples, getting so some flat out impossible things near the end, but I'm out of time. But for me the line should not be that one does impossible things and the other does not, but the kind of impossible they do.
    Or the methods they use to do the impossible.

    I'm a fan of the "everybody who's anybody is magic, but that doesn't mean they cast spells" mindset. How you access and use that supernatural force depends on your skill-set, mind-set, and talents.

    These examples come from 5e D&D: Some expend bits of stored power to cause resonances in the fabric of reality (spells)--the exact mechanism of doing so varies. Some tap into the essence of rage to harden their skin and strengthen their muscles (a barbarian's rage). Some discipline their actions and train their bodies to be able to shrug off effects that would destroy others and to be able to move their weapon blindingly fast (a fighter's Action Surge and Indomitable). Some channel their training into being more expert at certain tasks than any other living creature, as well as evading the un-evadable (rogues with expertise and evasion). Etc.

    This is the "class as archetype and common power source" idea (lifted slightly from 4e). Thus, a high level fighter is someone who is that much better than a normal person because he's trained his body, infusing it with the natural, omnipresent magic of the world. A druid has made contracts with spirits and can ask for favors from some of the greater spirits that normally don't talk to mortals. A wizard has learned to (in some way ) tamper with the source code to reality. A sorcerer tells the world to get bent, and it does. A bard convinces reality that the world was already bent that way. A paladin is so convinced that the world is that particular shape that it can't deny him. Etc.
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  3. - Top - End - #153
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post


    It is amazing how in modern times this idea has not only become popular, but become a demand ''it must be this way for us to even consider playing the game''.

    Set the Wayback Machine for any time before 2000. Back in that Long Ago Time Before Time, the idea of magic less magic-uses was common and accepted. The standard advice for a magic user was ''make sure your character has a dagger, staff or crossbow so that when your character runs out of spells, they can still fight. I can recall years of magic users casting only a handful of spells per adventure, mostly for big tough fights, and the rest of the time the magic user would stay in the back and maybe shoot a crossbow bolt or two.

    And someone saw that around 3E start and said, ''no way, wizards must be able to pew pew all the time or they are not wizards'', and it has gone down hill from there.
    What you call downhill I call a feature. I'm glad spellcasters can go "pew pew" all day with a spell. It may be a glorified crossbow in effect, but the flavor text enhances the experience. You get to feel like a spellcaster by saying "I cast Firebolt". "I fire my crossbow" does not have the same vibe.
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  4. - Top - End - #154
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    I lost my longer reply. In brief,

    Apparently, I wasn't clear, as most everyone missed the point on being magical. I wasn't talking about the magic, I was talking about the Wizard.

    For example, my Fighter is powerful. But he actually has to spend 80% of fights on the bench, just resting (while using his leadership/tactics skills to direct combat, giving his allies bonuses), because he gets winded super easy from walking around, let alone fighting. That really doesn't make him feel powerful.

    My mobster is rich. But I can't afford to buy bubble gum, otherwise, I might not have money later? No, he doesn't come across as rich anymore.

    It's the same thing with the Wizard for me. If the Wizard is constantly forced to employ mundane methods or risk not having magic, he no longer feels as magical.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    These two statements are at odds

    If every fight is over on the first two characters' turns, then most of the party didn't participate in each combat. That's horrible, horrible encounter and game design from my standpoint.
    They only seem at odds until you realize that most of the party is walking around with a +12-+17 initiative modifier. Despite mostly running through various modules written by other people, the party was well designed for the modules' power level. Most characters got to act in most encounters, and the players were skilled and took their turns quickly, so everyone got to shine many times per session. And they paid attention to the fight (as it was something they, in principle, could participate in), so they weren't just sitting there bored. So, all in all, pure good times all around.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Note--this idea that challenges shouldn't be overcome in a single action extends to all sorts of things. Any skill challenge that a single check trivializes is a bad challenge. Any social encounter that a single check solves is a bad challenge. If a single spell, feat, or other ability trivializes a type of challenge, either the ability is overpowered or the challenge is improper.
    I'm a war gamer at heart. To me, the idea of a "proper challenge" means that either side has a 50/50 chance of winning. Oddly, outside of the worst meat grinders, that mentality of a 50% chance of TPK is not conducive to your standard RPG. So RPG combat is a boring easy mode snooze fest compared to a "proper challenge".

    But, when a single spell, feat, or ability trivializes an encounter, it serves to show just how bad-*** the PCs are. I think that that's a very proper purpose for a challenge. Do you agree that reinforcing just how cool and awesome the PCs are is a proper use for a challenge? What other uses do you perceive challenges as having?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Everybody should have something effective to do in every encounter (social or combat), should they wish. That could be skills, it could be spells, it could be weapon-based combat. As it stands, they don't. If we ranked the classes like racing games across the dimensions of gameplay, you'd currently have (out of ten) some classes that were 8/10 or better in many areas and 0 or 1/10 in the rest. Then you'd have classes that, if built decently, had 8/10 in one area and 4-5/10 in a couple more, with 1/10 in the rest. Then you have the poor fighter, who, if built to very specific specifications, has a 14/10 in one area (dealing damage if he can charge right) and a cow/10 in the rest. And there are classes that can't even reach that potential. A better, fairer, design would put all classes at 5/10 in most areas, with one or two weaknesses (3-4/10) and one or two strengths (7-8/10). No one should be incapable, no one should be dominant. No one class or ability should trivialize any relevant encounter or challenge just by existing.
    Strongly agree on everyone having the option of having something to do, and not just in the false dichotomy of combat/social. But when I hear "specialize", I tend to think 0/10 across the board, and 10/10 in one specialty. Like the poor mind mage, who is as useless against undead and constructs as the Diplomancer or DPS sneak attack Rogue. So I don't feel that word encapsulates the meaning you desire. And the generalist Wizard is already "broad" and "generalized". So... How about the term "balanced"? I could get behind making all characters roughly balanced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Modules make bad tests. First, they're too long. A typical module is a dozen or more encounters. That's terrible for testing because you want to run multiple tests at multiple levels. Second, they assume a party. That's bad for testing because it obscures the contributions of individual characters. A party where one character does everything and everyone else does nothing passes, but it really shouldn't. Third, they're balanced around assumed success. A test that always passes is a bad test, because it's not really capturing information about balance differences. The expectation should be some amount of failure, because otherwise you can't tell if people are on the same power range.

    Generally, I think something like the Same Game Test is better.
    Wow. This hurts me to read it. You are clearly not a tester*.

    The question is, "will the group have fun?". Now, that's dependent upon a lot of things, many of them outside the game.

    For the ones we can control, inside the game, we're looking at a lot of social, soft-skills stuff, plus the important question, "will this group of players, playing this group of characters, have fun running them through this adventure?"**

    For that, you're looking at evaluating the module in several ways. Some good tests are to look at the balance of aesthetics***, or the balance of hearts / diamonds / spades / clubs moments, and compare that to your expected values.

    But the test in question is to evaluate, if the party as a whole went through this module, for each character, how many times would the character get to participate / shine / feel useless? One character doing everything clearly makes this test hit a fail state****.

    Similarly, this is why you warn the players of the Diplomancer and the Sneak Attack DPS Rogue that they may want to consider playing a different character through Necrophilia on Bone Hill - no matter how well they did on the bloody Same Game Test.

    * I am a software developer, and happen to be a very good tester
    ** as an aside, for me, that largely involves me running a character I enjoy in the first place.
    *** I'm so glad Angry renamed those, because "aesthetics" just isn't the right word... But I can never seen to remember - what are the 8 aesthetics called now?
    **** for most groups, at any rate.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2017-11-15 at 09:09 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #155
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I lost my longer reply. In brief,

    Apparently, I wasn't clear, as most everyone missed the point on being magical. I wasn't talking about the magic, I was talking about the Wizard.

    For example, my Fighter is powerful. But he actually has to spend 80% of fights on the bench, just resting (while using his leadership/tactics skills to direct combat, giving his allies bonuses), because he gets winded super easy from walking around, let alone fighting. That really doesn't make him feel powerful.

    My mobster is rich. But I can't afford to buy bubble gum, otherwise, I might not have money later? No, he doesn't come across as rich anymore.

    It's the same thing with the Wizard for me. If the Wizard is constantly forced to employ mundane methods or risk not having magic, he no longer feels as magical.
    I understood your point.

    That doesn't keep me from disagreeing entirely. And your above examples are really bad/irrelevant.

    The fighter getting winded is inherently NOT powerful unless there are valid in-setting reasons. (Like Vancian spell-casting is to magic perhaps? I did see a show where a villain was a total badass but he had health issues and could only fight for 3-4 minutes at a time - so he relied upon minions.)

    The mobster might often not be able to spend much $ if he's lying low or the IRS is watching him. That doesn't keep him from being rich.

    As a counter example:

    If I have the ability to launch nukes, that makes me dangerous even if I'm feeble, have no martial knowledge and own no small arms. But if I can drop a nuke anywhere I want I don't think it's difficult for people to realize that I'm still dangerous.

    It's entirely a matter of taste - not something that you can argue people into agreeing with.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2017-11-15 at 09:14 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #156
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I lost my longer reply. In brief,

    They only seem at odds until you realize that most of the party is walking around with a +12-+17 initiative modifier. Despite mostly running through various modules written by other people, the party was well designed for the modules' power level. Most characters got to act in most encounters, and the players were skilled and took their turns quickly, so everyone got to shine many times per session. And they paid attention to the fight (as it was something they, in principle, could participate in), so they weren't just sitting there bored. So, all in all, pure good times all around.

    I'm a war gamer at heart. To me, the idea of a "proper challenge" means that either side has a 50/50 chance of winning. Oddly, outside of the worst meat grinders, that mentality of a 50% chance of TPK is not conducive to your standard RPG. So RPG combat is a boring easy mode snooze fest compared to a "proper challenge".

    But, when a single spell, feat, or ability trivializes an encounter, it serves to show just how bad-*** the PCs are. I think that that's a very proper purpose for a challenge. Do you agree that reinforcing just how cool and awesome the PCs are is a proper use for a challenge? What other uses do you perceive challenges as having?
    Wait...so everyone was rolling 18+ on initiative? What I took from your initial point was that the fights broke down like this (all results are before any bonus):

    d20 roll: Result
    20-17: Take first turn (20% chance)
    16-1: Fight's over (80% chance)

    If everyone has a high modifier including the monsters, then what you're actually saying is

    d20 roll: Result
    20-2: Take first turn (95% chance)
    1: Fight's over (5% chance)

    That means that you'd get the same result with everyone having +0 or +1 initiative. It also means that only a narrow range of builds (those that focus on having high initiative) can even begin to matter. The range of possible "balanced" builds (including available monsters) is greatly narrowed. That's horrible design.

    A well used ability trivializing a single encounter--not that big a deal. A single character having a whole raft of abilities that trivialize a whole category of encounters? Not so good. That means that the characters are out of balance with the system. If the first mover wins (rocket-tag), then all fights are either cake-walks or TPKs and that only depends on the dice. It's a game of chess where the first person to go automatically wins. That's the same as deciding by a fair coin toss. Not fun. I want people to feel epic because they had to use skill, mediated by luck.

    In my opinion, a "fair" challenge should have about 0% TPK chance unless the party screws up badly. The chance of failure should be higher, but still pretty low. Overcoming challenges is how you feel epic. Not having cakewalks.

    Edit: and to the other part, the "specialized" part was relative to their current status. Currently, mundane martials have to be 100% specialized to be relevant in anything, while a 0% specialized cleric can be relevant everywhere. A better thing would be to make everyone have to specialize somewhat, but build that into the system as a set of defaults. That makes a "by-the-book," choose-what-looks-good build close in power to a more carefully crafted build. Basically raise the optimization floor for everybody and drop the ceiling. Everyone should be Great at one thing (which thing depends on class/choices), OK at most things, and (relatively) Weak at one or two things (depending on choices).
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2017-11-15 at 09:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Good point, I would however call it a double standard. Maybe there are times where it makes sense, but when you are trying to create stories where both martials and magicians are relevant, and relevant in the same way, it's not a good idea.
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by "relevant in the same way." I don't think that applies, based on my understanding of that phrase, even to your proposed muscles-caster fighters. Perhaps you could clarify what you meant? However, the former condition isn't hard to achieve at all. A Song of Ice and Fire is replete with relevant characters whose abilities, though significant, are wholly mundane, even though there are very real magic-users running around. (Well, semi-real. Even the real ones use trickery rather than actual magic for a certain percentage of what they accomplish.) My first and only time playing L5R, my perfectly ordinary duelist character was more than relevant in spite of operating next to a magic-user played by my optimization-oriented brother. It's more than possible to have magic-users who are toned down to a degree where completely non-magical characters compete with them. Heck, if you took 5e's concentration mechanic and applied it to 2e's spellcasters, you're pretty close to there already, and that's just a quick fix.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Regarding the so-called "guy at the gym fallacy": titling it a fallacy is ridiculous and exists only to poison the well against it. There's nothing fallacious about saying that a person whose abilities do not rely on defying the laws of physics (i.e., they don't use magic of one form or another) has to do things in keeping with the laws of physics.
    The "guy at the gym" is not a fallacy because it limits characters to what's physically possible. It's a fallacy because it limits characters to what some person (usually the GM) thinks is physically possible, which is a different thing.

    The fallacious form of "guy at the gym" can afflict even games which have no supernatural elements at all. It happens when even a highly skilled character isn't allowed to do something which is possible in real world, because the person running the game doesn't consider that thing plausible. It literally means that person thinks some guy at the gym is the most a human being can achieve (also suggesting they must be attending a really boring gym).

    You can see it right there in d20 character class design, even. I mean, is there a good reason why Fighters, who are a broad archetype meant to cover people from Swashbucklers to Roman Legionaires to Knights, are missing Survival, Listen, Use Rope etc. vital warrior skills from their class skill list? No. It can only be explained by the desginers not really having a clue of what real life thing the Fighter class would model, by the designers believing a Fighter is just "guy a the gym" who's been handed a sword.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    I understood your point.

    That doesn't keep me from disagreeing entirely. And your above examples are really bad/irrelevant.

    The fighter getting winded is inherently NOT powerful unless there are valid in-setting reasons. (Like Vancian spell-casting is to magic perhaps? I did see a show where a villain was a total badass but he had health issues and could only fight for 3-4 minutes at a time - so he relied upon minions.)

    The mobster might often not be able to spend much $ if he's lying low or the IRS is watching him. That doesn't keep him from being rich.

    As a counter example:

    If I have the ability to launch nukes, that makes me dangerous even if I'm feeble, have no martial knowledge and own no small arms. But if I can drop a nuke anywhere I want I don't think it's difficult for people to realize that I'm still dangerous.

    Your examples are every bit as flawed as above. It's entirely a matter of taste - not something that you can argue people into agreeing with.
    Disagree? Ok, either...

    As you said, it's a matter of taste, and, as you said, something you can't disagree about;

    Or it's a matter of me defining how I was using a word, and it would be really odd (but technically not impossible) for you to disagree with me on how I was defining my words;

    Or it's me trying to pitch the idea of a valid archetype, in which case you could disagree with its validity, or it being an archetype, but your response is neither.

    /pedantic

    Actually, I'm most concerned that your response feels to conflate "powerful" and "magical" in ways even my examples did not.

    Tinkerbell is magical. She constantly glows and trails magical dust. She flies in defiance of the laws of physics. And she even "talks" in strange tinkles that would likely remain unexplained even were she to be dissected. Every moment of her existence is magical.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And no, i have no problem with magic users using regular weapons in fights. In fact, i actually prefer that because that means they specialize in other applications of magic than killing things.
    It depends on what you think class means, and what the focus of your RPG is.

    In general, I think class is expected to be a fairly good descriptor of what your character does. It doesn't have to be exclusive. You can totally have non-class abilities. But classes are supposed to be good, evocative descriptors of what your character does. As such, if your character is a swordsman who does magic to solve some things, his class should be Swordsman, not Magic User (in the same way that you wouldn't describe a Swordsman who had taken some ranks in Open Lock as a Lockpicker).

    Similarly, RPGs are generally focused combat, and what you do in combat largely defines your character. Obviously if your game is largely about things that aren't combat, you could have a character whose non-combat abilities defined her. But that's usually not the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    What you call downhill I call a feature. I'm glad spellcasters can go "pew pew" all day with a spell. It may be a glorified crossbow in effect, but the flavor text enhances the experience. You get to feel like a spellcaster by saying "I cast Firebolt". "I fire my crossbow" does not have the same vibe.
    Yes. Exactly this. In general, if you find out that Darth Ultron is on your side, you should probably change sides, because Darth Ultron is always wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Wow. This hurts me to read it. You are clearly not a tester*.
    Actually, it's exactly testing that makes me thing your plan is bad. Your proposal is essentially that we do only integration tests, and no unit tests. That is not a good idea. We should absolutely do unit tests for any number of reasons. We should also do integration tests, but they are not a replacement for unit tests.

    For the ones we can control, inside the game, we're looking at a lot of social, soft-skills stuff, plus the important question, "will this group of players, playing this group of characters, have fun running them through this adventure?"**
    "This adventure" is a bad test because people mostly don't play published adventures. I would guess that playing through published adventures probably constitutes 50% at best of gameplay, and even less if you don't count cases where the adventure is modified somehow. You have to test against "stuff in the MM", because "stuff from the MM" is going to be the level at which most encounters are selected.

    Also, it's worth pointing out that most of your sales aren't modules. They're books. So you need a framework for testing the things you put in books, because those are the products you are selling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    The "guy at the gym" is not a fallacy because it limits characters to what's physically possible. It's a fallacy because it limits characters to what some person (usually the GM) thinks is physically possible, which is a different thing.
    The problem with "guy at the gym" is that it comes from having three incompatible goals:

    1. Putting limits on some characters (mundanes), but not other characters (casters).
    2. Allowing people to continue accumulating abilities indefinitely.
    3. Game Balance.

    It doesn't matter what the limits on Fighters nominally are. They can be "things you can personally do", "things you believe someone could do", "things someone has actually done", "things that could in theory be done", or even "things an action hero can plausibly do". But as long as there is some point where you say "that is clearly impossible" when a Fighter tries to do something, and don't have a point like that for Wizards, you have the exact same problem.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And this, right here is why we can't have nice things. It isn't the "guy at the gym fallacy" or some theoretical linear vs. quadratic math, it is the idea that RPG characters are not allowed to be anything more than the sum of their class abilities.

    If people believe that you are no longer a magic user just because you don't have a spell for anything and everything, or that you are no longer a fighter because you can do things that are not "fighting," then that is a huge problem with both balance and fun.

    Personally I see RPG characters as (fictional) people first and class archetypes a distant second, and heck, I even see classes as broad tool-kits rather than just their titular feature.
    EXACTLY.

    This is a chunk of why I finally set a hard rule against playing or running systems that use class-based character creation. Even in Vampire, almost all of my characters were Caitiff, because I got so sick of gamers viewing the characters as their clan first... and as fictional people second (if at all). "Oh, you're a ______, you wouldn't do that / think that."
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    The problem with "guy at the gym" is that it comes from having three incompatible goals:

    1. Putting limits on some characters (mundanes), but not other characters (casters).
    2. Allowing people to continue accumulating abilities indefinitely.
    3. Game Balance.

    It doesn't matter what the limits on Fighters nominally are. They can be "things you can personally do", "things you believe someone could do", "things someone has actually done", "things that could in theory be done", or even "things an action hero can plausibly do". But as long as there is some point where you say "that is clearly impossible" when a Fighter tries to do something, and don't have a point like that for Wizards, you have the exact same problem.
    I agree. It's also boring (at least to me). If I wanted to deal with real-life limitations, I wouldn't be playing a fantasy game. I'd be out in real life.

    But that's just a taste issue. The balance issue is as pointed out above by both of you.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    But that's just a taste issue. The balance issue is as pointed out above by both of you.
    It's a taste issue how you solve it. It's not a taste issue that the problem exists. You can resolve it by saying "I don't care about the imbalance", or even "I want casters to be better than mundanes". You can resolve it by putting a cap on the game's power level (like E6 does). You can resolve it by some combination of buffs to Fighters and nerfs to Wizards. But the problem exists regardless of which of those solutions you happen to like best.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    It's a taste issue how you solve it. It's not a taste issue that the problem exists. You can resolve it by saying "I don't care about the imbalance", or even "I want casters to be better than mundanes". You can resolve it by putting a cap on the game's power level (like E6 does). You can resolve it by some combination of buffs to Fighters and nerfs to Wizards. But the problem exists regardless of which of those solutions you happen to like best.
    Right. I was saying that my "it's boring" thing was a taste issue. Not the existence of a problem.

    I happen to care about build diversity and removing trap options. Maybe because I play mostly with new players, I want you to be able to get an effective (if formulaic) build by taking "what looks cool." I also want to encourage people to try different tactics and builds instead of sticking to what the holy guides say.

    Exact balance is a pipe-dream, but if everyone is mostly OK at most things with one or two areas of specialty (but not outright dominance) and one or two areas of weakness (but not crippling uselessness), that's where I'm happiest.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    This is only true if magic does the things technology does. As long as we don't have teleporters, casting teleport will "feel magical" even if there's no chance it instead causes your brain to explode. Conversely, something being crappy, unreliable, or dangerous doesn't make it feel less like technology. Apple Maps was a bad product, but no one accused it of being sorcery. When your cellphone signal drops out in the middle of the call, that does not make you feel like a wizard. Nuclear radiation is dangerous, but no one believes that it is a result of eldritch powers.
    This is, IMO, a narrow definition of technology. As we develop robotics and AI, do golems stop being magical? Is Magic Missile not magical because firearms exist? Does a Tesla Coil negate Lightning Bolt, or a stun gun demystify Shocking Grasp?

    Magic, as it exists in D&D, largely IS a technology. Get a hundred 9 Intelligence kids, teach them all to cast Cantrip, and they'll all cast Cantrip. They can memorize from the same spellbook. They'll make near-identical modifications in casting for the circumstances. There's not much difference between Cantrip and a smart phone at that point... if we all have the same cellphone and want to play the same game, we'll all go through very similar actions to reach its icon, summon the game, and begin to play.

    Now, it is an imperfectly understood technology... you still have room for the mystical things that exist outside of D&D magic. You can still have "How does X work" be answered with "I don't know, it's magic"... but at the level of spell-casting and most normal magic items? There's little difference between D&D magic and technology.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    It depends on what you think class means, and what the focus of your RPG is.

    In general, I think class is expected to be a fairly good descriptor of what your character does. It doesn't have to be exclusive. You can totally have non-class abilities. But classes are supposed to be good, evocative descriptors of what your character does. As such, if your character is a swordsman who does magic to solve some things, his class should be Swordsman, not Magic User (in the same way that you wouldn't describe a Swordsman who had taken some ranks in Open Lock as a Lockpicker).

    Similarly, RPGs are generally focused combat, and what you do in combat largely defines your character. Obviously if your game is largely about things that aren't combat, you could have a character whose non-combat abilities defined her. But that's usually not the case.
    The part where i disagree is how combat focussed RPGs are or should be.

    Of course the someone who uses his magic only for certain non-combat tasks and uses a sword in combat is can either be a swordfighter with a bit of magic, a gish or a noncombatant/civillian who has to defend himself due to some rare and unespected situation.

    Obviously i had the last in mind. The character is still a magic user who uses magic for his most important job related tasks. He is an expert in doing so. It is what he trained for years. But now the need to fight arises and what is more likely : using another decade to learn some battle-magic or take a week to get the basics with sword/speer or bow and help the militia a bit ? Especcially when one expects that fights keep to be really rare events ?


    Yes, that is not how D&D handles it. But i don't really play D&D either.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    I've run two Vampire: the Requiem chronicles, with one fight scene between the two of them. In our Dark Heresy campaign that's run for two years, my character invested a handful of XP into shooting a lasgun, with everything else going towards utility skills of various sorts. So the claim about most RPGs being combat-focused and characters being defined by what they do in combat is news to me.

    Of course, Dark Heresy is a very traditional and combat-focused RPG... just not to D&D's extreme, laser-focused degree, which is a category all of its own.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    We had a Ninjas and Superspies game that I jokingly referred to as "The Ninjas and Superspies game with neither Ninjas nor Superspies." It was an alien invasion conspiracy game. My character got into combat once (another player was bored and wanted a fight, so the GM attacked us with a gorram wolverine; put one of the characters in the hospital for a few days), and drew is his pistol one other time (heading towards a crashed space ship to rescue its Air Force pilots). Otherwise, it was all conversation and deduction, in a system that doesn't really deal with those sorts of things.

    It was also one of my favorite games to play in.
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2017-11-15 at 12:02 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Kind of a tangent, but is this actually a real thing? Will a strong enough magnetic field rip the blood out of a person's body?
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Perhaps players want conflict and challenge, and combat might be the easiest to identify, mechanize, and introduce.

    (I am not suggesting that combat is overdone or underdone or necessary or unnecessary or whatever, that's purely a choice for each player or group.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-11-15 at 12:08 PM.
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  21. - Top - End - #171
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Two things to keep in mind about magnetic effects on the human body.

    1) If my math is right, about 0.007% of the human body is iron.

    2) Much of the metal artificially added to the human body as implants and fillings and such isn't magnetic.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-11-15 at 12:17 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #172
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi
    The problem with "guy at the gym" is that it comes from having three incompatible goals:

    1. Putting limits on some characters (mundanes), but not other characters (casters).
    2. Allowing people to continue accumulating abilities indefinitely.
    3. Game Balance.

    It doesn't matter what the limits on Fighters nominally are. They can be "things you can personally do", "things you believe someone could do", "things someone has actually done", "things that could in theory be done", or even "things an action hero can plausibly do". But as long as there is some point where you say "that is clearly impossible" when a Fighter tries to do something, and don't have a point like that for Wizards, you have the exact same problem.
    None of those three things are "goals" for the "guy at the gym" fallacy and the fallacy can exist in absence of all of non-mundane characters, ability accumulation and game balance.

    You are right in the sense that the presence of these things, especially 1 & 2, makes it increasingly worse. But 1 is a problem in its own right that's separate from the guy at the gym, or any mundane-magic-distinction whatsoever. In context of d20, This is most obvious when you compare limited casters (paladin, ranger, adept, bard, healer, warmage etc.) with those which are less so (wizard, cleric, druid, archivist etc.)
    Last edited by Frozen_Feet; 2017-11-15 at 12:42 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #173
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    What you call downhill I call a feature. I'm glad spellcasters can go "pew pew" all day with a spell. It may be a glorified crossbow in effect, but the flavor text enhances the experience. You get to feel like a spellcaster by saying "I cast Firebolt". "I fire my crossbow" does not have the same vibe.
    But ok, if your going to say casters can ''pew pew'' all day...why not bump up the fighters too? See the problem.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    There's a difference between "magic has limits" and "people who are nominally magic-users refuse to use magic because it is dangerous". Mistborn magic has real, meaningful limits. But the titular Mistborn still fight with magic, instead of being expert fencers.
    Um. Mistborn fight physically, and enhance it with magic. That's the exact opposite of a pure caster. They're GISH.

    Other GISH:
    Kylar in the Night Angel Trillogy
    Neo in the Matrix

    Characters that aren't GISH, can use magic to directly attack, and still fight with mundane capabilities anyway, although they often enhance that like GISH do:
    Rand Al'Thor in Wheel of Time
    Haplo in the Death Gate Cycle

    Contrast with a full caster:
    Raistlin
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-11-15 at 02:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    But ok, if your going to say casters can ''pew pew'' all day...why not bump up the fighters too? See the problem.
    Who says I'm against beefing up the warriors?

    3E did a wonderful job with Tome Of Battle. Pathfinder gave Paladins lots of love and perfected Barbarians and Monks in one of their splat books. Fighter is improved over 3E but not enough for some people's tastes. 5E made warriors self-sufficient. I'm quite happy when playing a 5E spellcaster I only need to cast Cantrip attacks in combat because the warriors are handling everything on their own. I get to shine later when the party really needs my spellpower.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Um. Mistborn fight physically, and enhance it with magic. That's the exact opposite of a pure caster. They're GISH.

    Other GISH:
    Kylar in the Night Angel Trillogy
    Neo in the Matrix

    Characters that aren't GISH, can use magic to directly attack, and still fight with mundane capabilities anyway, although they often enhance that like GISH do:
    Rand Al'Thor in Wheel of Time
    Haplo in the Death Gate Cycle

    Contrast with a full caster:
    Raistlin
    And the only full caster is from a D&D setting. The whole "I'm a caster so all I do is cast spells" for protagonists seems to me to stem from D&D. Maybe even from Raistlin himself.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    And the only full caster is from a D&D setting. The whole "I'm a caster so all I do is cast spells" for protagonists seems to me to stem from D&D. Maybe even from Raistlin himself.
    Not really. Mazirian the Magician had no particular martial ability and was pretty much defenseless without his spells. The witch in Hansel and Gretel could be overpowered by a couple of children under the right circumstances. The wizard from one of the The Magic Goes Away short stories needed a werewolf to act as muscle when it came down to an actual confrontation with his rival. Melisandre from ASOIAF (though that's post-Gygaxian) has no particular noted martial skill. Merlin relies on the Knights of the Round Table to do any fighting that needs to be done. The various wizards and sorcerers in Newhon, even when they're good for anything with magic, tend to require non-magical minions. There are plenty of fairly pure caster-types in fantasy fiction, even if we ignore the last few decades' works as being too D&D-influenced.

  28. - Top - End - #178
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    And the only full caster is from a D&D setting. The whole "I'm a caster so all I do is cast spells" for protagonists seems to me to stem from D&D. Maybe even from Raistlin himself.
    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Not really. Mazirian the Magician had no particular martial ability and was pretty much defenseless without his spells. The witch in Hansel and Gretel could be overpowered by a couple of children under the right circumstances. The wizard from one of the The Magic Goes Away short stories needed a werewolf to act as muscle when it came down to an actual confrontation with his rival. Melisandre from ASOIAF (though that's post-Gygaxian) has no particular noted martial skill. Merlin relies on the Knights of the Round Table to do any fighting that needs to be done. The various wizards and sorcerers in Newhon, even when they're good for anything with magic, tend to require non-magical minions. There are plenty of fairly pure caster-types in fantasy fiction, even if we ignore the last few decades' works as being too D&D-influenced.
    Yeah, Merlin and Gandalf (despite the whole Glammerdingaling or whatever thing) are most likely huge inspirations for the D&D-style full-caster that Merlin Raistlin later came from. Although obvious Jack Vance's stuff had something to do with it somewhere. Just a little bit. Not that I've ever read his stuff, so i don't know if they're honestly full casters D&D-style.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-11-15 at 02:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew
    Although to me a martial is not "someone who obeys the laws of physics" but a "body user". Or, if a caster is a master of the unseen forces of the universe, than a martial is the master of the seen forces of the universe.
    This is a case where you (and these forums in general) plain don't use the words like the rest of the world do.

    Let's recap what "martial" means:

    Quote Originally Posted by thefreedictionary.com
    mar·tial (mär′shəl)
    adj.
    1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of war.
    2. Relating to or connected with the armed forces or the profession of arms.
    3. Characteristic of or befitting a warrior.

    [Middle English, from Latin mārtiālis, of the god Mars, from Mārs, Mārt-, Mars.]
    Notice how "mundane" or "non-magical" don't enter into it. Conflating "martial" with mundane is, as far as I can tell, conceit of specific people talking of a specific system and exists nowhere else.

    In truth, whether an archetype is martial and whether it is non-magical should be kept separate.

    A wizard who uses their spells to wage war, is a martial wizard. In fact, the whole discussion of whether Wizards should have magic attack powers they can freely use, is not about whether they're magic. It's about whether they're martial.

    And let's be clear on that front: once you're willing to get out the D&D box, or even just do something different within that box, the Wizard doesn't have be martial. They don't have to be combat focused, they don't need to have combat-usable spells at all.

    And the same goes for non-magical "body users". The Acrobat-Thief doesn't need to know how to fight to fullfill their role. Neither does the scientist. Nor the master diplomat. Nor any other non-magical archetype you can think of.

    That little demon sitting on your shoulder, whispering "the game is about combat, so every class ought to have ways to contribute in combat"? Kill it. Kill it with fire. Untill you do, intelligible, non-conflatory discussion of non-magical versus magical, and non-martial versus martial characters is impossible.

    The corollary to this is that if you want to play a wizard who has combat-usable magic, own up to it and call your archetype a Warmage or Fighter-Wizard, 'cause that's what it is.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    This is a case where you (and these forums in general) plain don't use the words like the rest of the world do.

    Let's recap what "martial" means:



    Notice how "mundane" or "non-magical" don't enter into it. Conflating "martial" with mundane is, as far as I can tell, conceit of specific people talking of a specific system and exists nowhere else.

    In truth, whether an archetype is martial and whether it is non-magical should be kept separate.

    A wizard who uses their spells to wage war, is a martial wizard. In fact, the whole discussion of whether Wizards should have magic attack powers they can freely use, is not about whether they're magic. It's about whether they're martial.

    And let's be clear on that front: once you're willing to get out the D&D box, or even just do something different within that box, the Wizard doesn't have be martial. They don't have to be combat focused, they don't need to have combat-usable spells at all.

    And the same goes for non-magical "body users". The Acrobat-Thief doesn't need to know how to fight to fullfill their role. Neither does the scientist. Nor the master diplomat. Nor any other non-magical archetype you can think of.

    That little demon sitting on your shoulder, whispering "the game is about combat, so every class ought to have ways to contribute in combat"? Kill it. Kill it with fire. Untill you do, intelligible, non-conflatory discussion of non-magical versus magical, and non-martial versus martial characters is impossible.

    The corollary to this is that if you want to play a wizard who has combat-usable magic, own up to it and call your archetype a Warmage or Fighter-Wizard, 'cause that's what it is.
    I'm just going to sign my name until all of this.
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