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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    To me, that's a well-designed scenario. There's multiple approaches, all with their pros and cons, and a good amount of the gameplay is going to be figuring out which costs you can deal with.
    Strongly agreed. Mostly what people mean when they say "win button" or "game breaker" is "thing I didn't think of" or even "thing that isn't what I thought of". If your challenge is solved by bypassing a single obstacle, it was probably never a terribly interesting challenge, even if none of your players happened to have an ability that was super-effective against that obstacle.

  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Strongly agreed. Mostly what people mean when they say "win button" or "game breaker" is "thing I didn't think of" or even "thing that isn't what I thought of". If your challenge is solved by bypassing a single obstacle, it was probably never a terribly interesting challenge, even if none of your players happened to have an ability that was super-effective against that obstacle.
    This is an interesting take. Perhaps my love of win buttons stems from wanting to skip past these not terribly interesting bits quickly, to get to the good stuff?

    And, perhaps, part of why I appreciate an easy win (or loss) over a close fight. Well, that, and they help to characterize the character: this is trivial for Sherlock Holmes / Batman / Hercules / Quertus.

    Regardless, Knock and Invisibility are the classic Playground "win buttons", the tools that "win button hater" Playgrounders (ie, that subset of Playgrounders) traditionally direct their ire towards.

    Quote Originally Posted by me
    I want the things we do before the fight to obviate the need to even have the fight. (See also your "totally not like the Goonies" campaign).
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I actually am not quite sure if I understand how the analogy fits, but geeze, bringing up an off hand comparison I made what... seven years ago, now? You sound like one of my players.

    So much for you supposed senility :)
    I remember "long ago" better than "yesterday".

    As to how it fits… in your "(not like the) Goonies" campaign, the only valid solution was to obviate the fight, "Aragorn brings the dead" style.

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  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    This is an interesting take. Perhaps my love of win buttons stems from wanting to skip past these not terribly interesting bits quickly, to get to the good stuff? [...] Regardless, Knock and Invisibility are the classic Playground "win buttons", the tools that "win button hater" Playgrounders (ie, that subset of Playgrounders) traditionally direct their ire towards.
    Going into detail would be its own thread, but I think a large part of the hate for win buttons actually comes from their role in caster/martial disparity in D&D. The problem with knock is not really that it is a win button, but it is a win button in a very specialized area that isn't the area of specialty for the character who possesses it. In fact it works in the area of specialty to another character (to my knowledge) has nothing comparable or superior to it in terms of ability to just force a door open.

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Going into detail would be its own thread, but I think a large part of the hate for win buttons actually comes from their role in caster/martial disparity in D&D. The problem with knock is not really that it is a win button, but it is a win button in a very specialized area that isn't the area of specialty for the character who possesses it. In fact it works in the area of specialty to another character (to my knowledge) has nothing comparable or superior to it in terms of ability to just force a door open.
    NB: I've never seen someone actually cast knock at a 5e table.

    However, the idea of "I can do your specialty better than you can, plus any number of other things better than specialists in those areas, plus a bunch of things only I can do" is...sub-optimal. It's why I strongly believe that "spell list is my only class feature" (ie wizards in 3e and 5e) is the worst design pattern for a class, hands down. And it feeds into the mentality that you need win buttons. Or buttons in general. That you need specific abilities to contribute to solving problems, instead of thinking of characters. And that's a mentality I strongly dislike.
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  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    This is an interesting take. Perhaps my love of win buttons stems from wanting to skip past these not terribly interesting bits quickly, to get to the good stuff?
    To contrast Cluedrew, my hate of "I win!" buttons comes from the DM side. I don't care if people skip the random encounters, the small fights, the locked doors. I do care when people skip the "important stuff" because they had an "I win!" button. In part because yes, I put a lot of work into that and it's annoying, but also in part because expedience often causes players to overlook things. "We skipped this big battle with one spell, therefore it wasn't actually important and nothing around here is important."

    When players have to actually engage in the content, they become more involved with everything around it IMO.

    When they don't, their eyes just glaze over and they say "Well what's next?"

    This sentiment comes up when I'm a player too, but at least at that point I have the ability to interact with my surroundings, even while everyone else walks off.
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  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Going into detail would be its own thread, but I think a large part of the hate for win buttons actually comes from their role in caster/martial disparity in D&D. The problem with knock is not really that it is a win button, but it is a win button in a very specialized area that isn't the area of specialty for the character who possesses it. In fact it works in the area of specialty to another character (to my knowledge) has nothing comparable or superior to it in terms of ability to just force a door open.
    I just don't agree with that assessment of knock. Casting knock comes at a dramatic cost and doesn't do very much. You give up somewhere between a half and a quarter of your offensive firepower for the day (and you do it before you even know if you'll want to), and you open one door. How many secure areas can you think of that have only one locked door between them and the outside world? My bathroom has better security than that, and the only thing it's protecting is my dignity. knock isn't allowing one player to horn in on another player's specialty, it's providing multiple approaches to a problem that give different players opportunities to shine. Now, I think that you can make an argument that spellcasters have access to too many abilities like that, at least relative to mundanes, but singling out specific abilities as problematic generally misses the point (especially since everything after 3.5 has gone ahead and nerfed knock anyway).

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That you need specific abilities to contribute to solving problems, instead of thinking of characters. And that's a mentality I strongly dislike.
    People like having abilities. Having abilities is meaningful because it lets you do things that not having those abilities doesn't. There's certainly value in supporting outside-the-box thinking or nonstandard approaches, but there's also value in getting to say "because I have X, I can do Y".

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    To contrast Cluedrew, my hate of "I win!" buttons comes from the DM side. I don't care if people skip the random encounters, the small fights, the locked doors. I do care when people skip the "important stuff" because they had an "I win!" button. In part because yes, I put a lot of work into that and it's annoying, but also in part because expedience often causes players to overlook things. "We skipped this big battle with one spell, therefore it wasn't actually important and nothing around here is important."
    It's going to sound somewhat rude, but it seems like you're focusing on the wrong things. Creating a big set-piece battle doesn't make it interesting or important. The battle needs to be something the players care about as a step towards achieving their goals. Maybe it secures a location or resource they need. Maybe the villain they hate is there. But if you just slap down a battle, especially one that can just be skipped, that isn't really all that interesting.

  7. - Top - End - #127
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I just don't agree with that assessment of knock. Casting knock comes at a dramatic cost and doesn't do very much. You give up somewhere between a half and a quarter of your offensive firepower for the day (and you do it before you even know if you'll want to), and you open one door. How many secure areas can you think of that have only one locked door between them and the outside world? My bathroom has better security than that, and the only thing it's protecting is my dignity. knock isn't allowing one player to horn in on another player's specialty, it's providing multiple approaches to a problem that give different players opportunities to shine. Now, I think that you can make an argument that spellcasters have access to too many abilities like that, at least relative to mundanes, but singling out specific abilities as problematic generally misses the point (especially since everything after 3.5 has gone ahead and nerfed knock anyway).



    People like having abilities. Having abilities is meaningful because it lets you do things that not having those abilities doesn't. There's certainly value in supporting outside-the-box thinking or nonstandard approaches, but there's also value in getting to say "because I have X, I can do Y".



    It's going to sound somewhat rude, but it seems like you're focusing on the wrong things. Creating a big set-piece battle doesn't make it interesting or important. The battle needs to be something the players care about as a step towards achieving their goals. Maybe it secures a location or resource they need. Maybe the villain they hate is there. But if you just slap down a battle, especially one that can just be skipped, that isn't really all that interesting.
    Close battles aren't as fun as when the mid-boss gets away, promising to get the pcs and their little dog too. Bonus props if they actually kill the dog.

    There's something oddly satisfying to a gm when the creature they spent so much time making ends up wrecking the pc's **** then escaping with their loot.

  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    TLDR: In your experience, do players actually prefer tough battles were they struggle to pull through in the end, or do they prefer easy victories where they clearly outclass their opposition?
    Necessity is the mother of invention, and I find it gratifying to turn a bad situation with an inspired play. I personally like that to play out during the fight, i.e. reacting to the circumstances, but I guess some players find enjoyment in experiencing that in the planning phase instead. I like for the fight to let the players exercise the abilities of their character, and that usually takes a few rounds.

    That being said, the least enjoyable battle I took part in as a player was when one player one-shot the campaign bad guy on the first turn. I think it is telling that the rest of us were simply disappointed while he seemed really surprised that we didn't celebrate his achievement!

    I guess my point here is that *winning* is secondary to *playing the game*.

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  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    "Do people really enjoy close battles?" Well, it's all about context (that applies to everyone), but to me personally, it's all about genre emulation. Both on the player and DM ends of the spectrum. When i'm playing, i like to absolutely dunk on a random group of orcs, and when I'm DMing, i don't particularly mind if "my" group of orcs get utterly dunked on. But in an encounter or battle that narratively seems like it should be tough given the nature of the genre we're playing in (typically high fantasy or soft sci-fi, in my case), then that fight should be tough (or "close") and I'd be disappointed as either player or DM if it somehow turned out to not be that way.
    Last edited by NorthernPhoenix; 2021-07-25 at 08:01 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #130
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Going into detail would be its own thread, but I think a large part of the hate for win buttons actually comes from their role in caster/martial disparity in D&D.
    I'll believe that. I feel like, in my "why the hate for win buttons" thread, I identified that as one of several wrong-thinking reasons people who claim to hate win buttons have actually misidentified their issue, and misdirected their hatred.

    That said, there were numerous *other* reasons - both valid and not - that people gave. And that's only counting the ones I *understood*. Not everyone has your patience and ability to do a deep dive, to really get to the heart of the issue. Or to explain things when I'm being dense

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    The problem with knock is not really that it is a win button, but it is a win button in a very specialized area that isn't the area of specialty for the character who possesses it. In fact it works in the area of specialty to another character (to my knowledge) has nothing comparable or superior to it in terms of ability to just force a door open.
    The illusion of role protection is an issue - people don't respond well when their illusions are shattered.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    NB: I've never seen someone actually cast knock at a 5e table.

    However, the idea of "I can do your specialty better than you can, plus any number of other things better than specialists in those areas, plus a bunch of things only I can do" is...sub-optimal. It's why I strongly believe that "spell list is my only class feature" (ie wizards in 3e and 5e) is the worst design pattern for a class, hands down. And it feeds into the mentality that you need win buttons. Or buttons in general. That you need specific abilities to contribute to solving problems, instead of thinking of characters. And that's a mentality I strongly dislike.
    Curiously, this wasn't an issue in oldschool grognard days. Yet "Wizard" (whatever name it carried through editions) was pretty much just "cast spells" for class features even then.

    So *something else* must have changed. *Something else* must be responsible for this disturbing trend.

    If only I had a button I could push to know the answer to the question "why?".
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-07-25 at 09:30 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #131
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    IMO the problem with win buttons is escalation.

    For example, in 3.5 there was a feat that let your fire spells ignore immunity to fire.

    Warhammer and Magic both have “always strike first” abilities, but also abilities that strike before always strikes first.

    Many D&D modules have doors that are immune to knock.

    All of these are kind of silly and confusing, and would work much more smoothly if they were just large numerical bonuses. It also avoids the narrative disconnect of some ludicrous situations that absolute abilities might cause.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    To Quertus: For some reason I didn't feel like pulling out the quotes:
    • Win button hate: I'm not a fan of win buttons (see Talakeal's post for an example) but the fact they are tangled up in a bunch of (other?) issues certainly isn't helping their image.
    • Role-Protection: I think it is the asymmetry of the situation. The wizard can do a lot more to get in on the fighter's turf than the other way around.
    • Something Changed: Yeah, the number and verity of spells grew and the basic system had a lot of its limitations removed. Or so I have heard I wasn't there.

  13. - Top - End - #133
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I'll believe that. I feel like, in my "why the hate for win buttons" thread, I identified that as one of several wrong-thinking reasons people who claim to hate win buttons have actually misidentified their issue, and misdirected their hatred.
    People are, generally, really good at identifying when there's a problem, pretty bad at identifying what the problem is, and absolutely awful at identifying how to fix the problem. Of course, it's easy to use that truth to overreact and reject any criticism of stuff you like as people misunderstanding the problem, but there are some absolutely wild takes out there about how "win buttons" or "Vancian Spellcasting" or whatever people's preferred bugaboo is ruins everything that don't reflect anything close to what the thing they're taking aim at actually is.

    So *something else* must have changed. *Something else* must be responsible for this disturbing trend.
    As with most of people's affection for AD&D, I think it's largely a matter of rose-tinted glasses, and the ruleset not getting the full force of the internet pointed at it. Most of the mechanical differences between AD&D and 3e are just things that are clunkier. If AD&D was the game you played with your buddies when you were first starting out, you're going to have fond memories of it. Those memories don't mean it was objectively higher quality any more than any of your other childhood memories represent things that were really objectively better than what you have access to today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    All of these are kind of silly and confusing, and would work much more smoothly if they were just large numerical bonuses. It also avoids the narrative disconnect of some ludicrous situations that absolute abilities might cause.
    That only applies to a (fairly small) portion of win buttons. People describe teleport or speak with dead as "win buttons", and those aren't things that can coherently be turned into big bonuses (at least, not without radically changing the level and kind of abstraction the system uses). And even the "win buttons" that could be turned into big numeric bonuses lose something by doing that. The game is less interesting if knock is simply a big bonus to Open Lock and charm person a big bonus to Diplomacy. There's value to approaches that are genuinely different, even if existing implementations are flawed.

    Many D&D modules have doors that are immune to knock.
    First: not all versions of that are bad things. knock explicitly has things it doesn't do. It doesn't open gates. It doesn't open stuff that's tied shut by rope. Having defenses that reflect the limitations of offensive magic is good, and adds depth to the world.

    That said, I do agree that "locking spell that beats knock" and "unlocking spell that beats locking spells that beat knock" and so on are kind of dumb. But I don't think the solution is to remove unlocking spells, or alter how they work. It seems better to do something like kick the dispute up to caster level. If you're an archmage, your arcane lock can stop an apprentice's knock, but another archmage could get through it (or maybe not, if you have some kind of specialty in security magic that makes your arcane lock harder to beat).

  14. - Top - End - #134
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    IMO the problem with win buttons is escalation.

    For example, in 3.5 there was a feat that let your fire spells ignore immunity to fire.

    Warhammer and Magic both have “always strike first” abilities, but also abilities that strike before always strikes first.

    Many D&D modules have doors that are immune to knock.

    All of these are kind of silly and confusing, and would work much more smoothly if they were just large numerical bonuses. It also avoids the narrative disconnect of some ludicrous situations that absolute abilities might cause.
    Actually, I prefer explicit permissions/denials to just doing things with increasing/decreasing bonuses. To each their own.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Going into detail would be its own thread, but I think a large part of the hate for win buttons actually comes from their role in caster/martial disparity in D&D. The problem with knock is not really that it is a win button, but it is a win button in a very specialized area that isn't the area of specialty for the character who possesses it. In fact it works in the area of specialty to another character (to my knowledge) has nothing comparable or superior to it in terms of ability to just force a door open.
    Well what they other characters have is the ability to do it over and over again with no opportunity cost.

    The issue becomes when your game is structured such that you're only going into a fairly small number of encounters per day, and so that opportunity cost is little, or when items that do it are trivially available.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    NB: I've never seen someone actually cast knock at a 5e table.

    However, the idea of "I can do your specialty better than you can, plus any number of other things better than specialists in those areas, plus a bunch of things only I can do" is...sub-optimal. It's why I strongly believe that "spell list is my only class feature" (ie wizards in 3e and 5e) is the worst design pattern for a class, hands down. And it feeds into the mentality that you need win buttons. Or buttons in general. That you need specific abilities to contribute to solving problems, instead of thinking of characters. And that's a mentality I strongly dislike.
    Could not agree more on the "buttons" issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Curiously, this wasn't an issue in oldschool grognard days. Yet "Wizard" (whatever name it carried through editions) was pretty much just "cast spells" for class features even then.

    So *something else* must have changed. *Something else* must be responsible for this disturbing trend.

    If only I had a button I could push to know the answer to the question "why?".
    One point of reference is that old school D&D (by the book, at least) did not have the presumption that you should be able to get any spell/item you want. Heck, there was a good chance you could not learn a given spell, and in fact never be able to learn it, even if you found a book or scroll to learn it from.

    Such win buttons are worse when every caster can grab them at will.

    Also, the megadungeon structure of play kind of pushed towards more encounters, rather than having a few set pieces. So resource management was a bigger issue, along with lots of other things. D&D has the baggage of having a ton of rules that were developed for a play structure that really isn't used much any more. And so a lot of balance of certain spells is designed around those uses, along with counter-balancing things.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    People are, generally, really good at identifying when there's a problem, pretty bad at identifying what the problem is, and absolutely awful at identifying how to fix the problem.
    100%.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    As with most of people's affection for AD&D, I think it's largely a matter of rose-tinted glasses, and the ruleset not getting the full force of the internet pointed at it. Most of the mechanical differences between AD&D and 3e are just things that are clunkier. If AD&D was the game you played with your buddies when you were first starting out, you're going to have fond memories of it. Those memories don't mean it was objectively higher quality any more than any of your other childhood memories represent things that were really objectively better than what you have access to today.
    Agreed. I also tend to think as said before that AD&D still works really well - but frankly not for what a lot of people use it for. It's a pretty great dungeon exploration game.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That only applies to a (fairly small) portion of win buttons. People describe teleport or speak with dead as "win buttons", and those aren't things that can coherently be turned into big bonuses (at least, not without radically changing the level and kind of abstraction the system uses). And even the "win buttons" that could be turned into big numeric bonuses lose something by doing that. The game is less interesting if knock is simply a big bonus to Open Lock and charm person a big bonus to Diplomacy. There's value to approaches that are genuinely different, even if existing implementations are flawed.
    Teleport is actually a great example of what I'm talking about. In the megadungeon game it's a shortcut - a way to bypass a section of the dungeon, or to return back, at some cost in resources and some risk. The "teleport into stone" stuff works because it prevents it from being a get out of jail free card. It's a great example of a spell that works perfectly in the context for which it was originally designed, and starts to be at least semi game breaking outside of it.
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  16. - Top - End - #136
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    I'd say something like "Teleport" is a different issue than "Knock"


    Knock is a "Win Button", especially before 5e, where investing in a given skill was a much bigger deal. You would spend points every level to be the best Lock Opener you could be, but you'll never be better than somebody with the Knock spell. Yes, it was better to have the Rogue do it than use the spell slot (Especially under prepared spellcasting, where casting Knock meant deciding earlier that day to prepare Knock rather than some other spell, so the cost of preparing Knock 2-3 times was actually quite high, and in a Megadungeon environment, cracking open 3 locks a day would be a slow day).

    But from the Rogue's perspective it was "One of my specializations, the thing I have invested a decent portion of my character into doing, serves the purpose of saving some of the Wizard's resources to do other stuff".

    Like "If I wanted to Open Doors, I could have played a second wizard, and just been the one to prepare Knock".


    Teleport has no skill-check equivalent, but it leans into a different problem, which is Impact. The Wizard gets to throw the party across the world, saving weeks of in-game travel.
    This isn't as much of a problem IMO, but it does send the message that some classes (Spellcasters) are allowed to be much higher-impact than others, especially as far as Utility is concerned.
    Once you get to high levels, campaigns fall into two categories "Has a Wizard" and "Doesn't have a Wizard", and the two are pretty dramatically different.
    The issue, and once again this wouldn't have been as much of an issue in a dungeon-crawl centric playstyle, is that a 5th level fighter and a 15th level Fighter have fairly similar options available to them to advance the party's goals when not "Adventuring". A 15th level wizard on the other hand, is a force of nature out of the dungeon as well as in, they can teleport the party, they can Fabricate weapons for the war against the Dark Lord, they can Scry to get information, Send messages to allies, and more.
    A campaign can start to circle around the Wizard's spell list.
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    The issue becomes when your game is structured such that you're only going into a fairly small number of encounters per day, and so that opportunity cost is little, or when items that do it are trivially available.
    That's true, but I don't think that's really a good approach to game balance. Setting up the expectation that at-will classes will be balanced with daily classes because you have exactly four encounters per day (or two encounters per short rest, or whatever specific numbers) puts the game balance on unnecessarily fragile ground. Every adventure has to come with some kind of timer, or the optimal strategy becomes to rest after every encounter. That's a big design constraint, and it's one that's completely unnecessary if you just move away from the idea that some characters face attrition while others (largely) don't.

    It's a great example of a spell that works perfectly in the context for which it was originally designed, and starts to be at least semi game breaking outside of it.
    teleport isn't really game-breaking, at least in the abstract (3e teleport does have some issues, but they're tied up in complicated problems with the rest of the system). It's game-changing, but that's a different thing. teleport "breaks" the adventure "get to the other side of the Haunted Woods", but "being able to beat up an army of orcs single-handedly" does the same thing to the adventure "an army of orcs is invading". But those aren't the only adventures you can have. It's easy to design an adventure, even a dungeon crawl, that doesn't break in the face of teleport. You just have to think about teleport when you write the adventure. And I'm not terribly sympathetic to a position I see as boiling down to "I don't want to have to think about what PCs can do when I design adventures".

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    But from the Rogue's perspective it was "One of my specializations, the thing I have invested a decent portion of my character into doing, serves the purpose of saving some of the Wizard's resources to do other stuff".
    I don't think that's a problem with knock. Consider the other side of things, for a Sorcerer or a Wizard who isn't going all out and putting every spell in the game in their spellbook. They spent resources to learn a spell, spent resources to cast that spell, and the effect was marginally better than an ability the Rogue's had since 1st level. The basic trade off of "this ability is at-will but less reliable" and "this ability is more reliable but has limited uses" is 100% fine. The issue is an attitudinal one where DMs tended not to create situations where Open Lock could shine, and non-casters didn't get new abilities at mid or high levels that made up for their 1st level abilities becoming obsolete.

    A campaign can start to circle around the Wizard's spell list.
    But that raises a question: should we solve that problem by changing the Wizard to have less impact, or changing other classes to have more?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post

    I don't think that's a problem with knock. Consider the other side of things, for a Sorcerer or a Wizard who isn't going all out and putting every spell in the game in their spellbook. They spent resources to learn a spell, spent resources to cast that spell, and the effect was marginally better than an ability the Rogue's had since 1st level. The basic trade off of "this ability is at-will but less reliable" and "this ability is more reliable but has limited uses" is 100% fine. The issue is an attitudinal one where DMs tended not to create situations where Open Lock could shine, and non-casters didn't get new abilities at mid or high levels that made up for their 1st level abilities becoming obsolete.
    So here's a thing about Knock, and the reason I have a more visceral reaction to it than perhaps it deserves.

    In 3.5 there was a class called the Beguiler, an illusion and enchantment focused spellcaster that broke all the rules. They had a far more limited spell list than wizards or sorcerers, but they cast like sorcerers, with their entire spell list Known.
    On the beguiler spell list, was "Knock".
    I GM'd for a few groups with Beguilers.

    That seems like a pretty fixable problem, Don't make classes like Beguilers that break the rules/keep Knock of such spell lists (Beguilers had access to Open Lock anyway), but it drives the psychological effect home pretty well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    So here's a thing about Knock, and the reason I have a more visceral reaction to it than perhaps it deserves.

    In 3.5 there was a class called the Beguiler, an illusion and enchantment focused spellcaster that broke all the rules. They had a far more limited spell list than wizards or sorcerers, but they cast like sorcerers, with their entire spell list Known.
    On the beguiler spell list, was "Knock".
    I GM'd for a few groups with Beguilers.

    That seems like a pretty fixable problem, Don't make classes like Beguilers that break the rules/keep Knock of such spell lists (Beguilers had access to Open Lock anyway), but it drives the psychological effect home pretty well.
    I'm afraid I don't understand your point. Yes, the Beguiler steps on the Rogue's toes a bit. But that's because the Beguiler fills the same niche as a Rogue. It's true that a Beguiler probably makes a Rogue feel pretty redundant, but so does a second Rogue. If knock is a Win Button we should be restricting to protect the value of Open Lock, the Beguiler is exactly the class that should be getting it.

    I also really don't understand why you say the Beguiler "breaks all the rules". It's just a Sorcerer that trades having a themed list for having more spells known, something I have never before seen anyone complain about and often seen declared a superior alternative to conventional spellcasters (I agree, though usually not for the same reasons as the people making the claim).

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I don't think that's a problem with knock. Consider the other side of things, for a Sorcerer or a Wizard who isn't going all out and putting every spell in the game in their spellbook. They spent resources to learn a spell, spent resources to cast that spell, and the effect was marginally better than an ability the Rogue's had since 1st level. The basic trade off of "this ability is at-will but less reliable" and "this ability is more reliable but has limited uses" is 100% fine. The issue is an attitudinal one where DMs tended not to create situations where Open Lock could shine, and non-casters didn't get new abilities at mid or high levels that made up for their 1st level abilities becoming obsolete.
    I agree that the problem probably isn't with Knock (or any other individual spell). Rather, the problem is that the wizard has a few spells that can outshine the rogue, a few spells that can outshine the fighter and so on and so forth (not to mention quite a few spells far superior to anything any of them can do).

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I'm afraid I don't understand your point. Yes, the Beguiler steps on the Rogue's toes a bit. But that's because the Beguiler fills the same niche as a Rogue. It's true that a Beguiler probably makes a Rogue feel pretty redundant, but so does a second Rogue. If knock is a Win Button we should be restricting to protect the value of Open Lock, the Beguiler is exactly the class that should be getting it.

    I also really don't understand why you say the Beguiler "breaks all the rules". It's just a Sorcerer that trades having a themed list for having more spells known, something I have never before seen anyone complain about and often seen declared a superior alternative to conventional spellcasters (I agree, though usually not for the same reasons as the people making the claim).
    While Knock is bad in a vacuum (as an I-Win button) it's usually not THAT bad in the context of 3.5 vancian casting because the cost of preparing and casting Knock is so high. It's a situational spell, and so preparing or knowing it (as a sorcerer) is a pretty high cost.
    It still doesn't feel good to know that, as a rogue, one of your primary class features is just saving the Wizard resources, but in practice you don't see Wizards sprinting around Knocking open every door before the Rogue can get their lockpicks out. This is because few wizards are going to bother prepping Knock when they have a rogue in the party. Lockpicks take a bit longer but keep working, a Wizard would need to know how many locked doors they'll need to open in a day.

    The Beguiler breaks all the rules in that they have neither a Wizard's requirement for preparation, nor a Sorceror's limited spell list. While their spell list is more limited than "Every spell a Sorcerer could know", a given Beguiler is going to know far more spells than a Sorcerer, with a lot of them being exactly the sort of situational utility spells that Sorcerers usually don't spend a spell known slot on.
    (for the record, a 20th level sorcerer knows 5 2nd level spells. A Beguiler knows 19 second level spells).

    In the Beguiler's hands, Knock turns from a skill test and potentially interesting strategic exercise (it takes a while to open a locked door), into a pure test of "Do you want to spend the resource to make this problem go away". The purest form of an I-Win button. Having run a few campaign with Beguilers, locked doors become a trivial obstacle, because it's not even so interesting as a skill test to pick one.


    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I agree that the problem probably isn't with Knock (or any other individual spell). Rather, the problem is that the wizard has a few spells that can outshine the rogue, a few spells that can outshine the fighter and so on and so forth (not to mention quite a few spells far superior to anything any of them can do).
    Precisely, the Wizard can choose to outperform any of the other classes if they so choose. The only reason they don't is that they've got better, wizard-only things to do.

    For me, it's a question of "how should PC's be solving problems". Spells like Knock indicate that one of the acceptable answers is "Spend a spell slot to make the problem go away" with no further mechanics, which is something I dislike on principle, even if it's usually not that bad in practice, it puts any other method of solving the problem against "Spend a Spell Slot" as a solution, with the only downside being that you can't spend that spell slot on something else.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Strongly agreed. Mostly what people mean when they say "win button" or "game breaker" is "thing I didn't think of" or even "thing that isn't what I thought of". If your challenge is solved by bypassing a single obstacle, it was probably never a terribly interesting challenge, even if none of your players happened to have an ability that was super-effective against that obstacle.
    In our group we really enjoy (both as player and as GM) a well thought out way to get through an obstacle, even (actually especially) if the GM didn't think of it.

    Precisely, the Wizard can choose to outperform any of the other classes if they so choose. The only reason they don't is that they've got better, wizard-only things to do.
    Totally agree. I've played quite a few casters in the past 20+ years of roleplay, and I don't think I've ever even considered the Knock spell. Why would you spend your precious few spell slots on something one of your party members does at will. It might take a bit longer, but even then. And should the rogue fail in opening a door, there's still the fighter (or barbarian) with the battle-axe to have a go. In our group they have between them so far managed to open all doors I know of and the caster is free to do other stuff.

    We also have this unwritten rule that whatever shenanigans the players think of, the NPCs can eventually do as well. If you want to make a character that has these 'save or die' spells, expect to come up at some point against an enemy who does the same to you. Especially at higher levels, you will have a reputation which your enemies can know about and prepare against (not every time of course, but from time to time).
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    Default Re: Do people really enjoy close battles?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    For me, it's a question of "how should PC's be solving problems". Spells like Knock indicate that one of the acceptable answers is "Spend a spell slot to make the problem go away" with no further mechanics, which is something I dislike on principle, even if it's usually not that bad in practice, it puts any other method of solving the problem against "Spend a Spell Slot" as a solution, with the only downside being that you can't spend that spell slot on something else.
    I also think the frequency matters.

    The "problem" of Knock is much higher if you typically find one lock per ability reset (rest), vs. if you find 20.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    For me, it's a question of "how should PC's be solving problems". Spells like Knock indicate that one of the acceptable answers is "Spend a spell slot to make the problem go away" with no further mechanics, which is something I dislike on principle, even if it's usually not that bad in practice, it puts any other method of solving the problem against "Spend a Spell Slot" as a solution, with the only downside being that you can't spend that spell slot on something else.
    I've seen this perspective before, and I'm curious of the reason. If it was "cast Knock vs some kind of interactive puzzle" then sure, but it's generally "mark off a spell vs roll a d20 (or not, if your skill is high enough) vs say that you're bashing the door down" - none of those are particularly exciting.

    There is the problem of overshadowing, but IME, if there's someone who already has the skill, people don't tend to cast Knock - because why pay resources and chant audibly to do something that could be done quieter and for free? And if the locks are generally too high DC to pick ... then it would suck to focus on that skill regardless of whether Knock existed.

    I do think that "opens locks and disarms traps" is way too narrow a focus for a class, when other options are things like "be a champion of Good" or "be the master of nature" or "do illusions and other trickery". Luckily the Rogue isn't limited to just that in most editions, but that does seem to be the memetic view of them. On a micro-level, I like that Pathfinder merges Open Lock into Disable Device, a much broader skill with more types of utility.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-07-26 at 03:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    IMO the problem with win buttons is escalation.

    For example, in 3.5 there was a feat that let your fire spells ignore immunity to fire.

    Warhammer and Magic both have “always strike first” abilities, but also abilities that strike before always strikes first.

    Many D&D modules have doors that are immune to knock.

    All of these are kind of silly and confusing, and would work much more smoothly if they were just large numerical bonuses. It also avoids the narrative disconnect of some ludicrous situations that absolute abilities might cause.
    What really large numeric bonus works better than "ignore immunity to fire"?

    Not that I'm sure "I can burn Demons / Fire Elementals" is a concept that should exist, mind you, but, if it should, what big numbers are better than that simple statement?

    Let's say we go the "big numbers" route. So now The Seer" needs big numbers to view distant places. And we need to figure out just *how* big, creating penalties for seeing through stone and lead, let alone resolving issues of being able to see the sun.

    And if we do this, his ability is no different than what Sherlock Holmes has to spot clues. So The Seer can spot clues, and Holmes can see through walls.

    And both of them can probably beat the stealth bonus from Invisibility, so they both turn to stone from an invisible Medusa.

    Is that really what you want?

    I prefer win buttons, and logical interactions of meta-tags.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Something Changed: Yeah, the number and verity of spells grew and the basic system had a lot of its limitations removed. Or so I have heard I wasn't there.
    The 1st level Wizard went from 1 spell to around 5. The adventuring day went from 20-50 encounters to around 4. Casters went from losing their spells if hit automatically, and until the next round, to only maybe losing their spells, and only if they are hit exactly when casting them. (EDIT: the Wizard went from generally random spell access from scrolls found as random loot drops to getting to pick free spells on level-up)

    Sure.

    But why would that make the Fighter say, "I don't have 'tickle' or 'tell joke' as a button to push on my character sheet, so there's no way I could possibly make anyone laugh. Unlike the Wizard, who gets Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter."?

    I'm not following the logical progression here.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    People are, generally, really good at identifying when there's a problem, pretty bad at identifying what the problem is, and absolutely awful at identifying how to fix the problem. Of course, it's easy to use that truth to overreact and reject any criticism of stuff you like as people misunderstanding the problem, but there are some absolutely wild takes out there about how "win buttons" or "Vancian Spellcasting" or whatever people's preferred bugaboo is ruins everything that don't reflect anything close to what the thing they're taking aim at actually is.
    Agreed. This is why, in ages past, I created my "why the hate for win buttons?" thread, to try to understand people's reasoning.

    Some of it was (often legitimate) dislike of caster/martial disparity, simply being mislabeled / misidentified as hatred for win buttons. But most of it wasn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    As with most of people's affection for AD&D, I think it's largely a matter of rose-tinted glasses, and the ruleset not getting the full force of the internet pointed at it. Most of the mechanical differences between AD&D and 3e are just things that are clunkier. If AD&D was the game you played with your buddies when you were first starting out, you're going to have fond memories of it. Those memories don't mean it was objectively higher quality any more than any of your other childhood memories represent things that were really objectively better than what you have access to today.
    This assumes incorrectly that 2e wasn't played yesterday. Some of the things I enjoyed (although I can't remember any off the top of my head, so let's pretend… pacman and licorice were among them) I have to ask myself what the draw was, but 2e? No, it is still my favorite system.

    No, it's not higher quality. Yes, it could afford to be cleaned up a little (without substantively changing anything). But it put fun first.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That only applies to a (fairly small) portion of win buttons. People describe teleport or speak with dead as "win buttons", and those aren't things that can coherently be turned into big bonuses (at least, not without radically changing the level and kind of abstraction the system uses). And even the "win buttons" that could be turned into big numeric bonuses lose something by doing that. The game is less interesting if knock is simply a big bonus to Open Lock and charm person a big bonus to Diplomacy. There's value to approaches that are genuinely different, even if existing implementations are flawed.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That said, I do agree that "locking spell that beats knock" and "unlocking spell that beats locking spells that beat knock" and so on are kind of dumb. But I don't think the solution is to remove unlocking spells, or alter how they work.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    It seems better to do something like kick the dispute up to caster level. If you're an archmage, your arcane lock can stop an apprentice's knock, but another archmage could get through it (or maybe not, if you have some kind of specialty in security magic that makes your arcane lock harder to beat).
    OK, so, I agree with those first two parts: I think that the game is better with win buttons as their own thing, rather than lumped in as bonuses to other things. I think that the game benefits from being multidimensional.

    I similarly agree that escalating wars of "my infinity is bigger than your infinity" are generally dumb. Although I have played and will play such games - it's why Quertus, my signature academia mage for whom this account is named, knows (and knows counters for (and counters for the counters for (and… (no, he never had the *need* to play the game at the level he does - he just got bored one day, and was looking for something to do, and decided to play the game of "inventing counters" with himself)))) at least a half a dozen different ways to conceal magic.

    But I don't think that reducing the game to a flat, "check power" is the right answer, either. I think that Invisibility should always win, no matter how powerful the caster trying to Look, unless their Look spell explicitly interacts with Invisibility's tags.

    So a Power Level 100 Wizard casting their Uber Clairvoyance spell? It *still* won't see through the most trivial Invisibility, because it's not designed to See The Unseen, it's designed to See Other Places. And their Invisibility spell? It'll be pierced by a novice's See The Unseen (or defeated by a muggle with wits and a bag of flour).

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Actually, I prefer explicit permissions/denials to just doing things with increasing/decreasing bonuses. To each their own.
    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    One point of reference is that old school D&D (by the book, at least) did not have the presumption that you should be able to get any spell/item you want. Heck, there was a good chance you could not learn a given spell, and in fact never be able to learn it, even if you found a book or scroll to learn it from.

    Such win buttons are worse when every caster can grab them at will.
    Hmmm…

    So, I'm a big fan of the random access of bygone days. Two different casters were different, dagnabbit!

    On the other hand, having some choice is nice as a "win button" for my "favorite" minigame of, "how do we make *this* group of characters work?".

    OK, I love that minigame, and choice obviates the need for something that I look forward to. That's another reason that came up in my "why the hate for win buttons" thread.

    So people who like the idea of casters getting to choose their spells (or characters choose their gear)? They love win buttons, whether they realize it or not.

    But I can see why people would look at it as an "advantage" of newer editions of D&D, that characters get to choose their spells and gear, rather than being in part defined by them.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-07-26 at 05:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The adventuring day went from 20-50 encounters to around 4.
    ...
    the Wizard went from generally random spell access from scrolls found as random loot drops to getting to pick free spells on level-up
    I think one thing driving both of these is having less free time to game leading to less tolerance for things that eat up a lot of time.
    Like - I don't have time to go through 20 random characters before I get one that works, just let me play that from the start. I don't have time to play through dozens of ablative fights to maintain the right balance, just make it work correctly with fewer.

    Although that is admittedly a balancing act - I do think the pacing and "feel" suffers when you cut out everything except the closest, most dramatic fights. But 20-50 encounters with maybe half of them being fights still sounds like an excessive amount.

    But why would that make the Fighter say, "I don't have 'tickle' or 'tell joke' as a button to push on my character sheet, so there's no way I could possibly make anyone laugh. Unlike the Wizard, who gets Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter."?
    Because those sound not at all plausible unless you're playing a Toon-style game? I'm not one for demanding gritty realism, but telling someone a joke, even a very fun one, isn't likely to produce much laughter if it happens mid-fight, and overwhelming laughter that prevents doing anything else even less so. The spell is basically dosing them with magic laughing gas / Joker venom, it's not just throwing a small pie.

    And conversely, casting THL at someone would generally be considered hostile - it's not a good way to make friends, whereas an actual joke might be.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-07-26 at 05:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I agree that the problem probably isn't with Knock (or any other individual spell). Rather, the problem is that the wizard has a few spells that can outshine the rogue, a few spells that can outshine the fighter and so on and so forth (not to mention quite a few spells far superior to anything any of them can do).
    I disagree with that framing of the problem, because it implies that the issue is the existence of abilities that allow players to directly do things rather than the existence of classes that don't have those abilities. That's the path to 4e, and that's not a place I have any interest in going again.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    It still doesn't feel good to know that, as a rogue, one of your primary class features is just saving the Wizard resources
    But that's not a remotely accurate assessment of the situation. Open Lock isn't "one of your primary class features", it's an ability you get at 1st level instead of "pick pockets" or "have connections in the local underworld" or "know how much gems are worth". It's not even the only ability you get like that, as the Rogue gets 8 base skill points and many will have at least a modest INT score. If your perspective on that is "my primary class feature is saving the Wizard resources" and not "one tenth of my character's backstory is as good as a combat-winning spell", I think that's a problem with your perspective.

    While their spell list is more limited than "Every spell a Sorcerer could know", a given Beguiler is going to know far more spells than a Sorcerer, with a lot of them being exactly the sort of situational utility spells that Sorcerers usually don't spend a spell known slot on.
    Sure. But at the same time, the Sorcerer has access to a lot of powerful spells the Beguiler doesn't whether that's BFC (black tentacles, web, acid fog), utility (teleport, scrying, contact other plane), blasting (fireball, cone of cold, meteor swarm), or game breaking nonsense (planar binding, polymorph, wish). I certainly disagree with the assessment some people have that says the Beguiler is markedly less powerful than the Sorcerer, but it doesn't really "break the rules" so much as "play by a different set of rules", in the same way that a Binder and a Warblade do different things without either being problematic.

    In the Beguiler's hands, Knock turns from a skill test and potentially interesting strategic exercise (it takes a while to open a locked door), into a pure test of "Do you want to spend the resource to make this problem go away".
    But if you don't have another option, how is the strategic exercise interesting? "Do I spend the resource to go faster here but not have a resource later" is an interesting question. "I open the lock by using Open Lock, because we need to get through the door and that's the only ability we have that gets us through the door" is not.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I don't have time to go through 20 random characters before I get one that works, just let me play that from the start.
    High attrition gameplay is also incompatible with in-depth character building. I think there's validity to "churn through characters until you get one that sticks" as a gameplay paradigm, but it requires that character generation be incredibly simple. Simple to the point where you aren't even picking things like "skills" or "backgrounds" or "specific abilities" at first level. And a lot of people would like characters that are more complicated than that, even setting the time constraints aside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Well what they other characters have is the ability to do it over and over again with no opportunity cost.
    I know, in fact I think I might know just about every common point in caster/martial disparity at this point. I really sunk my teeth into it, started several (long) threads, but eventually hit the point that I stopped seeing new points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Spoiler: [...]
    Show
    I prefer win buttons, and logical interactions of meta-tags.
    [...]
    The 1st level Wizard went from 1 spell to around 5. The adventuring day went from 20-50 encounters to around 4. Casters went from losing their spells if hit automatically, and until the next round, to only maybe losing their spells, and only if they are hit exactly when casting them. (EDIT: the Wizard went from generally random spell access from scrolls found as random loot drops to getting to pick free spells on level-up)

    Sure.

    But why would that make the Fighter say, "I don't have 'tickle' or 'tell joke' as a button to push on my character sheet, so there's no way I could possibly make anyone laugh. Unlike the Wizard, who gets Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter."?
    I'm not following the logical progression here.
    What logical progression do you think I'm saying there is? You just commented that it felt like something else must have changed between editions of D&D, I pointed out that something did any you agreed. I'm not saying the changes were the logical progression of the system or anything.

    Also: You are arguing for win buttons but also being real hard on players who want a fighter to have more well defined, win button-like, abilities. If it works for a wizard why not a fighter? Should we start another caster/martial disparity thread?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    If it works for a wizard why not a fighter?
    Personally, I'm in the camp (probably composed of me, myself, and I) that says it doesn't work for the wizard. That the wizard is the worst designed class in either 5e or 3e. In large part because they have this opportunity-cost (almost) free "I do everything" by pushing a button. Spell slot, win game (hyperbole alert).

    But I'll step off that soapbox.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I disagree with that framing of the problem, because it implies that the issue is the existence of abilities that allow players to directly do things rather than the existence of classes that don't have those abilities. That's the path to 4e, and that's not a place I have any interest in going again.
    Abilities that do things are great. Abilities to do all the things are boring and impossible to balance (well, I suppose we could create a system where all the classes can do all the things but personally I would find that very boring and bland).

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