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  1. - Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    It turns into a fallacy when you also have, in the same setting, ostenably non-magical creatures that blatantly break the same laws of physics (giant insects), or 'non-spellcasting' classes with supernatural abilities (monks), that fighters can't have because Fighters are supposed to suck.
    Let's unpack this about. From how I see it, there are at least five different arguments involved here:

    1: People should not be allowed to play character's without supernatural abilities.
    2: Fighter's cannot have supernatural abilities.
    3: Characters without supernatural abilities have to suck.
    4: When creating a fictional setting people need not limit themselves to real world physics.
    5: If you are going to break the laws of reality in some element of your setting you shouldn't be allowed to adhere to it in others.

    For number one, I wholeheartedly disagree. People should be allowed to play whatever archetypes they want. There are plenty of "mundane" characters in both the media which inspired D&D as well as the media which has been inspired by D&D, and it seems stupid to shut these people out in the cold, and there really isn't any reason to do so aside from hurting the egos of people who like to play super powerful characters and don't like the thought of mere muggles being able to compete with them.


    As for number two, I partially agree. There should be a character archetype for "normal people" who get by on strength of limb, skill at arms, and pure grit, and this has traditionally been the fighter in D&D. I have nothing wrong with also having options for people who want to play martial characters who draw upon supernatural strengths, for example the monk class, and I have no problem with creating a new archetype for someone who is a cross between the fighter type and the monk type, but I see no reason to obliterate the existing fighter concept in the process.


    And for number three, this is objectively false. Fighters in AD&D, 4E, and 5E are all much stronger than they are in 3.X, and there are many other games where they are far stronger than in any edition of D&D, and they are all still non magical. If you want non-magical characters to suck in your game, go ahead, but I see no reason why you should tell other people that they are having "badwrongfun" for not doing the same.

    I agree with number four. Do what you want to do.

    For number five I absolutely disagree. People can make whatever stories they want, and if they want to see how otherwise realistic humans would deal with fantastical elements who are you to tell them they can't? This is essentially the "But dragons!" fallacy and it is absolutely wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Yup. Why we have giant crabs, giant rats, giant spiders, and yet still think that fighter should be bound by normal limits is just insane and stupid. its not just a fallacy, its a blind romanticism, much like how some WH40k players romanticize the Imperial Guard as being "badasses" and "having balls of steel" for trying to fight all the threats of that universe with nothing but a lasgun and some imperial flak armor. when really, they're just red shirts that die unceremoniously.
    Might I ask exactly what you are referring to as "stupid and insane?"

    Its not very clear from your post, but it seems to be the idea that people like playing the underdog.

    Now, I personally prefer stories about the underdog because to me the essence of heroism is standing up to something that is stronger than yourself and triumphing through courage and ingenuity. Simply playing the strongest thing in the setting and smacking down everyone else because they can't possibly stand up to your might feels, to me, less like heroism and more like bullying.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    Might I ask exactly what you are referring to as "stupid and insane?"

    Its not very clear from your post, but it seems to be the idea that people like playing the underdog.

    Now, I personally prefer stories about the underdog because to me the essence of heroism is standing up to something that is stronger than yourself and triumphing through courage and ingenuity. Simply playing the strongest thing in the setting and smacking down everyone else because they can't possibly stand up to your might feels, to me, less like heroism and more like bullying.
    There is a vast difference between "heroic underdog" and "mook who dies to show that underdog how dangerous things are." fighters are the latter.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Now, I personally prefer stories about the underdog because to me the essence of heroism is standing up to something that is stronger than yourself and triumphing through courage and ingenuity. Simply playing the strongest thing in the setting and smacking down everyone else because they can't possibly stand up to your might feels, to me, less like heroism and more like bullying.
    But if it is stronger, you will most likely lose if you don't cheat. That is just a fact.

    RPGs use four ways to solve this :

    1) cheating
    2) idiot ball (the enemy uses all its power so ineffectually that it is only as dangerous as a far weaker foe)
    3) Letting the PC be stronger and the game be about smacking weaker foes
    4) huge numbers of throw away characters who do lose until someone gets lucky

    All four ways have people preferring them and yes, you can mix and match. But there is no way around them.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    There is a vast difference between "heroic underdog" and "mook who dies to show that underdog how dangerous things are." fighters are the latter.
    Depends on the game, but this is more or less a problem that is specific to 3.X D&D and maybe Ars Magica.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    But if it is stronger, you will most likely lose if you don't cheat. That is just a fact.

    RPGs use four ways to solve this :

    1) cheating
    2) idiot ball (the enemy uses all its power so ineffectually that it is only as dangerous as a far weaker foe)
    3) Letting the PC be stronger and the game be about smacking weaker foes
    4) huge numbers of throw away characters who do lose until someone gets lucky

    All four ways have people preferring them and yes, you can mix and match. But there is no way around them.
    Or you can have a game system that models things like skill, determination, and cunning as well as raw power OR you can have some sort of meta-game currency / narrative control.

    For example, I don't think anyone sees an AD&D fighter as being anywhere near as strong or as powerful as an ancient dragon, but the game is set up in such a way that the high level fighter will still win a head on confrontation with the dragon due to the abstract nature of the combat system which values things like skill and grit as much if not more than pure might.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    I count nearly all that as part of character power.

    If an AD&D fighter usually wins against a dragon because the game rules are made that way, he simply is the more powerful one. He can't be the underdog of the fight, the dragon is. Not he should be scared to fight it, the dragon should be scared of ever taking on fighters of his level.

    Yes, some of the narrative control stuff would be more part of the "cheating" category than the "character power" category but even many of those (like e.g. Shadowrun edge) are character power and characters with a high stat here are simply vastly more powerful.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I count nearly all that as part of character power.

    If an AD&D fighter usually wins against a dragon because the game rules are made that way, he simply is the more powerful one. He can't be the underdog of the fight, the dragon is. Not he should be scared to fight it, the dragon should be scared of ever taking on fighters of his level.

    Yes, some of the narrative control stuff would be more part of the "cheating" category than the "character power" category but even many of those (like e.g. Shadowrun edge) are character power and characters with a high stat here are simply vastly more powerful.
    I don't agree with those definitions.


    So, taking the game mechanics out of it, let me tell you a story:

    "Bob was walking home one night when an enraged grizzly jumped out of the bushes and began to maul him. Bob was just an ordinary guy, and the bear outweighed him by close to a thousand pounds, and he had every reason to suspect he was going to die, but he thought about his little ones waiting for him at home and decided not to give up. He pulled his trusty pocket knife out and started stabbing wildly, and wouldn't you know it, he just so happened to drive it into the bears eye socket, killing it instantly. Miracle really, one in a million shot, but he did it. Bob survived that night, and though he was pretty beat up he got the better of that grizzly."

    Now, Bob won against the bear in that story because I, the author, chose him to. Would you consider that to be "cheating" or would you consider Bob to be more powerful than the bear?

    Now, how about if I were to dig through newspaper archives until I found an almost identical story that wasn't fiction at all. Would you still consider the hypothetical real guy who got lucky and killed a bear with his pocket knife to be more powerful than the bear or a "cheater"?
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    That is one of the reasons why literature as medium works differently then an RPG. Things in a book don't happen because they are logical or even plausible, they happen because the author decides they happen. There was never actually an open ended fight between a bear and a man.

    I am not talking about books. I am talking about tabletop RPG where things that happen emerge from play. And where "ordinary guy with knife" vs "Grizzly bear" ususlly ends up with the ordinary guy loosing. Most systems don't even allow stab-into-the-eye-instakill events and those that do tend to have a reputation for nonsensical crit tables.


    But yes, even in a book unplausible things like that can really hurt versimilitude and feel like cheating, especcially if they pile up.


    Now, how about if I were to dig through newspaper archives until I found an almost identical story that wasn't fiction at all. Would you still consider the hypothetical real guy who got lucky and killed a bear with his pocket knife to be more powerful than the bear or a "cheater"?
    No, that would not be cheating. But it would be the number four. The pile of throwaway characters until you get the one who is lucky. It is in the newspaper because it is the uncommon result.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2017-11-16 at 04:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is one of the reasons why literature as medium works differently then an RPG. Things in a book don't happen because they are logical or even plausible, they happen because the author decides they happen. There was never actually an open ended fight between a bear and a man.

    I am not talking about books. I am talking about tabletop RPG where things that happen emerge from play. And where "ordinary guy with knife" vs "Grizzly bear" ususlly ends up with the ordinary guy loosing. Most systems don't even allow stab-into-the-eye-instakill events and those that do tend to have a reputation for nonsensical crit tables.


    But yes, even in a book unplaisible things like that can really hurt versimilitude and feel like cheating, especcially if they pile up.


    No, that would not be cheating. But it would be the number four. The pile of throwaway characters until you get the one who is lucky. It is in the newspaper because it is the uncommon result.
    Ok, now replace "author" with "rules of the game".

    Bob wasn't "more powerful" than the grizzly bear in universe, but he won because the author said so.

    Likewise the level 9 fighter isn't "more powerful" than the dragon in universe, but he still stands a good chance of winning because the game rules say so.

    Both of them are meta-game influences that don't necessarily have any direct correlation to any force inside of the fiction.


    Or to put it another way, sure let's go with #4, maybe the game runs on confirmation bias. Say in the fictional world a thousand adventurers fight a thousand dragons every century, and 999 of them died a horrible burning death. But we are going to sit down and down and tell the story of the one guy who was lucky enough to come out on top.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Except now imagine there is 7 581 543 756 bobs.
    There could be a bob that survive a story that have a super low chance of being survived.
    The more events happens the more likely it is that something unlikely happens.
    You do not want to play the bob that died in a fire.
    You want to play the bob that went in a fire and saved three people and then killed a bear while being in the fire.
    It would not be silly to say "this is a story so your fighter gets to live extraordinary things" and then have your fighter roll twenties or have his opponents rolls ones when it is cool for the story.
    Last edited by noob; 2017-11-16 at 04:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Game rules have several functions.

    One of them is to simulate the world.

    If the rules say the fighter wins against the dragon then in this world fighters are more powerful than dragons.


    And sure, you can say that the PC just happens to be the lucky one and that NPC fighters who are indistinguishable in universe perform worse than the PC.

    But that works exactly one time. The chance that the person who had the 1 in 1000 success also wins the next 1 in 1000 challange is only 0.1%. If that happens somewhat consistantly, your PC atains an in-universe measurable super-luck power which makes him again more powerful than all his enemies.


    Not that few games actually do that with "Luck"-powers and blessings that provide mechanical rerolls and stuff. Of course "being extraordinary lucky and likely to win for no really obvious reason" is a power and "enemy starts to be really clumsy suddenly" works well as a curse.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2017-11-16 at 04:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    But that works exactly one time. The chance that the person who had the 1 in 1000 success also wins the next 1 in 1000 challange is only 0.1%. If that happens somewhat consistantly, your PC atains an in-universe measurable super-luck power which makes him again more powerful than all his enemies.
    You have 1 in 1000000 chance of succeeding in two 1 in 1000 challenge in a row.
    This means that there could be someone who does two one on 1000 challenges in a row.
    It is rare but it happens(seeing how many humans there is in real life it surely happened a bunch of times)
    In dnd the universe is literally infinite and have an infinity of people so somewhere there is someone who won 342346245!!! challenges for which he had one chance on 3242!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! of succeeding.(exclamation point for factorial)
    You just could be the bob that won all those challenges it is just that there is low density of bobs that won that many challenges that are that much unlikely to be won but that would not be a superpower: it would just correspond that due to the laws of probability if there is an infinity of bobs there is necessarily a bob that succeeded in everything he did(in fact there will be an infinity of them).
    Last edited by noob; 2017-11-16 at 05:08 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    Game rules have several functions.

    One of them is to simulate the world.
    If you are playing a hard simulationist game then more power to you. But denying that most RPG rules are purely simulationist and include no gamist or narrative elements (to say nothing of other concerns not modeled by the "big 3") is a bit naive.

    Heck, I am pretty sure even old school Gygaxian D&D didn't mean for the game rules to be purely simulationist, as abstract as the D&D combat system is I find it hard to believe they were even going for hard simulationism, and every article I have seen discussing what HP represented in D&D seems to imply that is was at least part a narrative mechanic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    If the rules say the fighter wins against the dragon then in this world fighters are more powerful than dragons.
    Asserting that a game's rules have to translate into some hard truth in the setting is just flat out false.

    To use an example, in the 20th anniversary edition of the White Wolf games Player characters and important NPCs have 7 health levels while the vast majority of NPCs have only 3. Such superhuman toughness is never mentioned anywhere in the setting, as far as I can tell it is purely a narrative mechanic to keep combat moving quickly while at the same time keeping PCs tough enough that you don't have to stop the game to roll a new character every twenty minutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    But that works exactly one time. The chance that the person who had the 1 in 1000 success also wins the next 1 in 1000 challange is only 0.1%. If that happens somewhat consistently, your PC attains an in-universe measurable super-luck power which makes him again more powerful than all his enemies.
    Its a big world and there are plenty of flukes.

    I remember reading an article talking about Wild Bill Hickok. Now, he has a reputation as a legendary gunfighter because he survived more shoot-outs than anyone else, but the author of the article asserted that it was merely a statistical anomaly. Someone had to be the lucky guy who survived more shootouts than anyone else, and it just so happened to be him. People noticed this and attributed it to him having super combat skills and a legend grew around him, but in truth (at least according to the article's author) it was just dumb luck.

    Would you say that, assuming Wild Bill was not in fact the paragon of combat that folklore makes him out to be, that Wild Bill had measureable super-luck powers in real life?
    Or heck, to use a more grounded example, what about those people who win the lottery repeatedly or survive numerous lightning strikes? Do you ascribe measurable super-luck powers to them?

    If not, why would you say that someone can be really lucky IRL and it just be one of those things, but you won't accept it in a fictional universe?
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Heck, I am pretty sure even old school Gygaxian D&D didn't mean for the game rules to be purely simulationist, as abstract as the D&D combat system is I find it hard to believe they were even going for hard simulationism, and every article I have seen discussing what HP represented in D&D seems to imply that is was at least part a narrative mechanic.
    There's nothing similuationist about any edition of D&D. And HP serves as a prime example of that.

    I get sick of the conflation of D&D with simulationist emphasis that some engage in.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    That is one of the reasons why literature as medium works differently then an RPG. Things in a book don't happen because they are logical or even plausible, they happen because the author decides they happen. There was never actually an open ended fight between a bear and a man.
    If the author is ignoring logic, plausibility, character, etc, then the resulting fiction has a much higher chance of being bad. The authors decisions as to what happen can still have solid reasoning underpinning.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    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?
    Sure, I'd concede that there's an aesthetic aspect to it as well. But I still fundamentally reject the notion that things being dependable, predictable, or consistent makes them not magical. It doesn't. It just makes them useful. If your definition of magic is "not useful", I would not want to play a magic user in your game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    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.)
    Not every imbalance is the fault of Guy at the Gym. Sorcerers are worse than Wizards. Is that Guy at the Gym? Obviously not.

    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.
    Which is a kind of caster. Using magic to enhance something else is still using magic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But yeah, technically almost everything we experience is some sort of interaction caused by the electromagnetic force, and this is a pretty good example of why specialist casters are better for the game then generalists. If Magneto were to go around poking at the edges of his power to influence things that were not traditionally ferro-magnetic (sp?) because they still use the electromagnetic force he stops being "The Master of Magnetism" and instead is just another telekinetic.
    No he isn't. He's still "The Master of Magnetism", because what he is doing is still "magnetism". The problem is that "conceptually limited" is, for the most part, meaningless. Mechanical limits are what matters, but if you have those your concept can be as broad as you happen to want it to be. Requiring casters to be Fire Mages or Death Mages or Nature Mages has its uses, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient to balance them.

    I still don't know why you think games need to allow people to advance indefinitely or why they should be balanced around a point long after most games end.
    It doesn't have to be "indefinite". It just has to be "after the cap". The reason I'm not naming a point is to sidestep quibbling about whether Conan or Captain America or Hawkeye or Aragorn or The Three Musketeers really represents the pinnacle of martial prowess. Because the specific point isn't relevant. And yes, lots of games end before the imbalance between casters and non-casters becomes crippling. Has it occurred to you that they do that because they want to play a balanced game and if you made that part of the game balanced, they'd play it too?

    Insisting on balancing the game around some theoretical 430th level play session seems like a bit of a lost cause as the 1-20 actually can benefit from a bit of tinkering with CMD while the epic level game has way bigger things to worry about.
    Mundanes are already bad by 11th level. This is not a problem that is "way outside normal play". This is a problem that occurs halfway through normal play at the absolute latest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dublinmarley View Post
    Defeating wizards is easy. Stop giving them magic. Don't let them just walk into any major town and buy whatever spell they want. Give them random treasure and scrolls. I spent 5th and 6th level once with no 3rd level spells due to I couldn't afford the crappy ones they had available and no wizard would let me copy theirs.
    No. That sound absolutely miserable. If you don't want people casting spells, don't let them play casters. If you let them play casters, let them cast spells.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    For number one, I wholeheartedly disagree. People should be allowed to play whatever archetypes they want.
    Then the game cannot be balanced. Period. If I want to play Angel Summoner and you want to play BMX Bandit, the game is not balanced. It's not magically more balanced because people want to play those characters.

    there really isn't any reason to do so aside from hurting the egos of people who like to play super powerful characters and don't like the thought of mere muggles being able to compete with them.
    That is a very good reason to do so. If your "super strength" does not make you stronger than the guy who has no superpowers, you do not have super strength. If I am going to have powers beyond the mundane, I have to be better than mundanes. By definition. That is what my character concept requires, just as yours requires that you do not have superpowers. Our concepts are not compatible.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I like exploring universes that, on the surface, look the same as ours with some fantastic elements, but are really very different under the hood. [...] I just tend to define "magic" as "that thing that allows PCs (and monsters, and many NPCs) do things that regular earth humans can't do."
    Yeah, that sounds like "the narrative definition of magic" I use sometimes, which actually all the impossible things that are possible in a story world. It includes all that and also sufficiently advanced magic. I find it useful do divide up the impossible things from the things that have the aesthetics of magic, the things that feel magical. However that is just an organizational thing for myself, and a much broader term of magic is completely fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    Bingo. Some of my favourite moments playing a wizard came when my spells ran out or they were otherwise restricted.
    Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that. As a whole the opinion seems to be rather unpopular at the moment.

    By the way I have seen those posts, I'm just a little short on time right now.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    But if it is stronger, you will most likely lose if you don't cheat. That is just a fact.

    RPGs use four ways to solve this :

    1) cheating
    2) idiot ball (the enemy uses all its power so ineffectually that it is only as dangerous as a far weaker foe)
    3) Letting the PC be stronger and the game be about smacking weaker foes
    4) huge numbers of throw away characters who do lose until someone gets lucky

    All four ways have people preferring them and yes, you can mix and match. But there is no way around them.
    This is not true. A ''weaker'' hero can defeat a ''more powerful'' foe in a lot of ways. The most basic, and the one done from the literal Dawn of Time, is to out smart a foe and be clever. And this is just as true in everyday life as it is in fantasy.

    Of course, the tricky part is you can't really have rules for being clever or smart.....and if you do, having a ''clever roll'' just does not really work out (''My character rolled a 25 and does something clever''). And this gets back to the Old School type of gaming vs the modern way. Say a character in a game comes up to a door that is locked and they wish to get past the door...what do they do:

    Well, the Modern Gamer immediately looks down at their character sheet and scans it for anything that says ''open door'' or something similar. If they find something, they will happy say they use it an open the door. If there is nothing on the character sheet that can be used to open a door, then will just shut down and quietly say their character just wanders away and does something else.

    The Old School gamer glances at their character sheet so they know what they have to start to work with and then try to figure out a way to open the door.

    This is a huge difference in style.

    Though, form all sides, both the Dm and the Players, doing the ''smart clever'' thing is HARD. After all to do it, For Real...you have the think of it For Real. And the Reality is: most people can't do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And sure, you can say that the PC just happens to be the lucky one and that NPC fighters who are indistinguishable in universe perform worse than the PC.
    But it is not just luck. It is a lot of skill. You can go toe to toe with monster X.....but if you catch them in a net and trick them into some quicksand...then you have a chance. Or doing something like tripping a foe or tricking them into charging off a cliff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that. As a whole the opinion seems to be rather unpopular at the moment.
    I agree too. I'm very big on ''restricting'' all characters...not just spellcasters, so much so that I think it is a normal part of the game. A character should all ways be at ''less then 100%''.
    Last edited by Darth Ultron; 2017-11-16 at 09:00 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Dublinmarley View Post
    But not all spells. They can cast spells that they have found and learned. You control that and it is that simple. Its much harder to control classes like a priest or druid etc who can just pick what spells they want. And remember the enemy can also do the same thing. Fighting evil parties or good parties if evil is an easy way to completely level the playing field.

    The problem which I have found playing in games all over the states due to I move a lot is people almost always allow caster types to get insanely powerful by giving them access to anything that is in any sourcebook. Just because its written doesn't mean Sembia or Chelix merchants wizards will sell it to you or they even have it themselves. You can create real reasons and give them just enough hope to get powerful while still limiting there wealth. I remember a game where getting magic missile was one of the happier character moments due to I had tons of spells like false life mirror image etc that didn't insanely change game play. I got that spell at fifth level. You just have to change the dynamics of what your players expect. Trust me your warriors and rogues will love you for it.
    Ok.

    If a particular spell is a problem for you blame the spell not the spellcaster. Have that spell not exist if you must, but do keep in mind spellcasters are permitted to have powerful spells that do fantastic things. Warriors should also have their own powerful stuff to do. It's not a problem for a PC to be powerful. Get rid of what you think Wins The RPG but not what Makes Things Easier For The PCs. Spells that makes things easier is the whole point of having those spells.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Which is a kind of caster. Using magic to enhance something else is still using magic.
    Using magic does not, in and of itself, make a spellcaster. Allomancers, feruchemists, etc, don't seem to be casting spells as such, but rather making creative use of basic magical effects.

    And I do think this is an important distinction for this particular discussion, because one of the ways to solve the caster vs not-caster disparity is to open up a space for characters who are doing things most people can't do in the setting, but also aren't in any way casting spells.

    The alternative is to assert that it's within the "normal limits" of what's possible for people in that setting to do things that would clearly be impossible in our reality -- and then leave yourself with the choice of following through with that in your worldbuilding, or just having an incoherent setting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    No he isn't. He's still "The Master of Magnetism", because what he is doing is still "magnetism". The problem is that "conceptually limited" is, for the most part, meaningless. Mechanical limits are what matters, but if you have those your concept can be as broad as you happen to want it to be. Requiring casters to be Fire Mages or Death Mages or Nature Mages has its uses, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient to balance them.
    Mechanical limits and conceptual limits should, IMO, be mutually coherent and consistent.

    Letting "Magneto's" player use "magnetism" as a fig-leaf for just making crap up cheapens the character.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-11-16 at 10:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Letting "Magneto's" player use "magnetism" as a fig-leaf for just making crap up cheapens the character.
    So you say that the magneto from marvel which is exactly doing that is cheapening itself?

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    So you say that the magneto from marvel which is exactly doing that is cheapening itself?
    If the shoe fits...
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Using magic does not, in and of itself, make a spellcaster. Allomancers, feruchemists, etc, don't seem to be casting spells as such, but rather making creative use of basic magical effects.

    And I do think this is an important distinction for this particular discussion, because one of the ways to solve the caster vs not-caster disparity is to open up a space for characters who are doing things most people can't do in the setting, but also aren't in any way casting spells.

    The alternative is to assert that it's within the "normal limits" of what's possible for people in that setting to do things that would clearly be impossible in our reality -- and then leave yourself with the choice of following through with that in your worldbuilding, or just having an incoherent setting.
    I very much agree. Magic =/= spells. In 5e D&D (at least), everybody who is everybody is magic. They don't cast spells. And even those who cast spells do so in ways that don't fit the same pattern as the real spell-casters. A barbarian's rage? Magic. A fighter's Action Surge (lets them take two actions in a turn)? Magic. A rogue's extraordinary skill set (Expertise allows them to do things no one else can with ability checks)? Magic.

    Realizing that all of these are just as magic as a wizard's spells, and realizing that they follow similar principles also helps explain why some of them are limited use effects. The character is expending concentrated energy to break the bounds of what is normal, just like a spell-caster expends concentrated energy (a spell slot) to invoke a resonance cascade (a spell). Spell slots are more generic and fungible, but the other resource-spending abilities are pulling from the same fount of energy.

    This removes the "but if everyone can do it..." worldbuilding issues--not everyone can do it. It's a talent, just like a sorcerer's casting is a talent. It requires training, discipline, and focus. It also eliminates the "magic vs mundane" dichotomy--all PCs (and 99% of all threats they face, in combat or not) are magic in one form or another. But only a few actually cast spells.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I very much agree. Magic =/= spells. In 5e D&D (at least), everybody who is everybody is magic. They don't cast spells. And even those who cast spells do so in ways that don't fit the same pattern as the real spell-casters. A barbarian's rage? Magic. A fighter's Action Surge (lets them take two actions in a turn)? Magic. A rogue's extraordinary skill set (Expertise allows them to do things no one else can with ability checks)? Magic.

    Realizing that all of these are just as magic as a wizard's spells, and realizing that they follow similar principles also helps explain why some of them are limited use effects. The character is expending concentrated energy to break the bounds of what is normal, just like a spell-caster expends concentrated energy (a spell slot) to invoke a resonance cascade (a spell). Spell slots are more generic and fungible, but the other resource-spending abilities are pulling from the same fount of energy.

    This removes the "but if everyone can do it..." worldbuilding issues--not everyone can do it. It's a talent, just like a sorcerer's casting is a talent. It requires training, discipline, and focus. It also eliminates the "magic vs mundane" dichotomy--all PCs (and 99% of all threats they face, in combat or not) are magic in one form or another. But only a few actually cast spells.
    Exactly -- this is one of the ways to resolve the conundrums at hand.

    There are multiple ways to do so, but one has to actually take a choice if one wants game balance* and a coherent setting. What one cannot have is one's cake while also eating it.


    (* wanting balance doesn't mean that one must insist on perfect balance, or that the impossibility of perfect balance makes striving for balance pointless)
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Which is a kind of caster. Using magic to enhance something else is still using magic.
    Irreleveant within the context of both the OP's Fighter vs Wizard that started this thread, and the context your contention that "magic-users" should solve their problems using magic. GISH are not magic-users, unless you're trying to redefine something under the table. And they certainly do not solve all of their problems using magic.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Leading to one of the game's many problems: D&D magic is approximately as 'mystical' as the act of ordering an Extra Value Meal.
    Isn't that what clerical magic is?

    "Yeah, I'd like two Cure Light Wounds and a... ah.... Spiritual Hammer."
    "So that's two Cures, a Light, and a Spiritual Gramma? That'll be 3rd level and an 18 Wisdom please."
    "Geez, no, two Cure. Light. Wounds. and a Spiritual Hammer."

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Sure, I'd concede that there's an aesthetic aspect to it as well. But I still fundamentally reject the notion that things being dependable, predictable, or consistent makes them not magical. It doesn't. It just makes them useful. If your definition of magic is "not useful", I would not want to play a magic user in your game.
    That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm simply saying that magic, as presented in D&D, is a technology, based on a physics they understand some of (i.e. can make reliable predictions about what a spell will do given certain parameters), but not all of (leading the occasional "Well, we don't really know WHY it's doing that.") It is a technology because it is an array of tools and knowledge that lets you create an effect... and I'm pretty ok with that. I think where D&D magic gets in trouble is actually its scope... at higher levels, you're able to do ANYTHING, so the places where something is not or cannot be understood are relatively few. It is magic, but it isn't mystical or ineffable.
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2017-11-16 at 01:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Magic already has limited use. If you aren't running out of spell slots, it's because your DM is being easy on you. That is the strength of "mundane" characters is they can go and go and go without ever losing damage potential.

    If you really want a nice fix, just do something like double or triple their spell slots and then make them only come back once a week or something like that. The goal is to make resource management more important so they really have to decide if casting a spell at any given time is worth it.

    Another issue with spells coming back every night (or even once a week) is when they are close to their "refill" point, like just before they know they're going to long rest, they'll blow their load and use everything they have.

    You could use the spell point variant for casting and then only give them a certain number of points each long rest instead of filling up their whole tank. That would make the situation of "well, i'm about to goto sleep so i'll go ahead and cast all this stuff" impossible because you'd still be down whatever resources you spent the next day.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by 90sMusic View Post
    Magic already has limited use. If you aren't running out of spell slots, it's because your DM is being easy on you. That is the strength of "mundane" characters is they can go and go and go without ever losing damage potential.

    If you really want a nice fix, just do something like double or triple their spell slots and then make them only come back once a week or something like that. The goal is to make resource management more important so they really have to decide if casting a spell at any given time is worth it.

    Another issue with spells coming back every night (or even once a week) is when they are close to their "refill" point, like just before they know they're going to long rest, they'll blow their load and use everything they have.

    You could use the spell point variant for casting and then only give them a certain number of points each long rest instead of filling up their whole tank. That would make the situation of "well, i'm about to goto sleep so i'll go ahead and cast all this stuff" impossible because you'd still be down whatever resources you spent the next day.
    Resource management minigames are usually a poor substitute for game balance.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-11-16 at 03:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Resource management minigames are usually a poor substitute for game balance.
    Eh, magic users are already a resource management mini-game. I don't quite think that is a Grod's law violation yet. Although it does bear the risk of turning the 5 minute work day into a 15 minute work week. Also raises the question of how it would interact with one-shots and convention play.

    EDIT: Because I recently saw a number of people talking about not knowing Grod's law it is "Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use"
    Last edited by Tinkerer; 2017-11-16 at 03:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    So, I got sidetracked off my initial point by all the talk of narrative mechanics.

    You can still beat someone without being more powerful than them and there are many ways to do so, luck being only one of them.

    I don't think, for example, that anyone would say Puss in Boots is more powerful than the magical shape changing giant, but he still defeats him by being more clever.

    Likewise you can have two guys arm wrestling and one of them can be objectively stronger than the other. Yet he can still lose the arm-wrestling match by simply not wanting it bad enough and giving in once he starts to get tired while the weaker man who is determined to persevere through the pain triumphs.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Mundanes are already bad by 11th level. This is not a problem that is "way outside normal play". This is a problem that occurs halfway through normal play [I]at the absolute latest.
    This says more an argument against specific implementation rather than an innate conceptual imbalance.

    In 3.X mundanes are bad at level 11. Other editions of D&D manage to keep class balance all the way to level 20-30 which is closer than 3.X has at levels 1-5.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    It doesn't have to be "indefinite". It just has to be "after the cap". The reason I'm not naming a point is to sidestep quibbling about whether Conan or Captain America or Hawkeye or Aragorn or The Three Musketeers really represents the pinnacle of martial prowess. Because the specific point isn't relevant. And yes, lots of games end before the imbalance between casters and non-casters becomes crippling. Has it occurred to you that they do that because they want to play a balanced game and if you made that part of the game balanced, they'd play it too?
    IMO balance is a very small part of it. Mostly games just don't last that long, others the rules break down entirely past a certain point (and I am not talking about balance between options here, I mean the core rules of the game cease to matter), or they just aren't relatable to people.

    For example, Mage the Ascension has an "epic level" variant called Masters of the Art where you play as arch-mages who can rewrite fundamental aspects of reality and are unconcerned by daily adventures instead focusing on shaping the very nature of existence and almost nobody uses it. People are interested in street level urban fantasy, cosmic games starring barely comprehensible abstract entities not so much.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Then the game cannot be balanced. Period. If I want to play Angel Summoner and you want to play BMX Bandit, the game is not balanced. It's not magically more balanced because people want to play those characters.
    You keep wrapping power level into concept, that js not what I am talking about.

    A guy who can summon a little cherub who just flies around being cute and whispering messages for him is an angel summoner, but isn't really a powerhouse.
    A guy who has the ability to ride his bike so fast that he can travel back in time and pop wheelies so powerful they crack the Earth's crust is still a BMX Bandit but he is far from useless.

    Likewise in D&D a rogue uses stealth, a fighter uses martial skill, a monk uses chi, a ranger uses knowledge of the environment, a paladin uses holy power and strength of character, and a barbarian channels his inner rage and, depending on the edition, the power of the spirits. All of them are different character concepts, but they are all roughly equal in combat ability.

    On the flip side, the ToB classes have pretty much the same concept behind them as fighters, paladins, and monks respectively yet are clearly superior to them in combat ability.

    Concept =/= mechanics or implementation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    That is a very good reason to do so. If your "super strength" does not make you stronger than the guy who has no superpowers, you do not have super strength. If I am going to have powers beyond the mundane, I have to be better than mundanes. By definition. That is what my character concept requires, just as yours requires that you do not have superpowers. Our concepts are not compatible.
    This is wrong.

    You can be different than something without being better than it.

    A guy who is really good with an AK-47 is mundane, a guy who can turn his skin purple and green with polka dots is not. However the former will be more useful on practically any mission which does not involve infiltrating a freak show.


    If the only "concept" you are willing to play are "better than everyone else," then it is absolutely about your ego and desire to play out a power fantasy, and again, if you can find a group who is into that more power to you, but it is certainly not a game that I would ever want to be a part of and it is not something that mainstream RPGs that have gotten along fine without it for four decades need to restructure themselves from the ground up to cater to.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-16 at 05:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by 90sMusic View Post
    Magic already has limited use. If you aren't running out of spell slots, it's because your DM is being easy on you. That is the strength of "mundane" characters is they can go and go and go without ever losing damage potential.
    Heavily disagree. Assuming 3.5, a 9th level wizard with 20 intelligence(low, imo) has 20 non-cantrip spell slots. Assuming the wizard uses maybe 2 slots per day for daily buffs(mage armor, overland flight), that's still 18 rounds of casting. In my experience encounters rarely take more than 5 rounds, because 5 rounds of combat can take nearly an hour to run.

    If you're running enough combat to drain a wizard who intelligently manages their spell slots dry, I can almost guarantee that all of the fighters in the party are dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Resource management minigames are usually a poor substitute for game balance.
    Also disagree. Almost every video game or tabletop game I have ever played has some sort of cost associated with more powerful abilities, whether it drained gold, mana, cards, cooldowns, or slots.
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