A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
You can get A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2 now at Gumroad
Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst 123456
Results 151 to 180 of 180
  1. - Top - End - #151
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    sandmote's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    US
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I just fundamentally don't see what "sometimes this is not true" means as a rebuttal to "sometimes this is true".

    Like, yes, I understand that you still can do non-Skill Challenge checks. But if your defense of a system is that you can just not use it, perhaps the system is not working very well. Are there some significant number of situations where the game benefits from actions falling into exclusively "optimal" and "harmful" buckets? I would say probably not. So it would seem to me that a system that divides actions like that is simply not very good.
    I would like to note the following indented statement made by yourself, which I quote directly after the portion you are responding to:
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    In 4e, social situations are modeled as Skill Challenges.
    I realize there may have been a typo of dropped word on your part, but the quote as it appears at the time I write this comment still fails to include the word "sometimes."

    If you fundamentally don't see what "sometimes this is not true," means as a rebuttal to "this is true, period," I'm willing to discuss that. If the issue was a typo or you accidentally dropped the word "sometimes," in that example I'm willing to discuss why you consider the system to be bad even when its only for particular cases. But if it was a typo in one case, I expect it'll be pretty easy to stick to which you meant in the future and I request a great number of check for typos on your part.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    That's not what Skill Challenges do. You can make as many checks as you want. The challenge ends after a number of failures.
    The challenge can also end after a minimum number of success.

    The difference if you are measuring the scenario in actions or rounds. If there's one action assumed to be repeated each time you don't stop to make a skill check, it wouldn't it be kind of odd to measure in rounds? As long as the Paladin dashes every turn and the Guards chasing him Dash every turn, their relative positions don't change until the PC tries sometime else. And yet each time each individual does that, a round still passes.

    Alternatively, if the party is sneaking somewhere they aren't meant to be, and bluffing to a passerby that they are meant to be here isn't any less useful than not being spotted in the first place, but one person thinking its odd to see you there doesn't automatically mean they'll raise the alarm. If the alarm is up they'll likely call the guard immediately; if they're the first person to notice they'll likely try to clarify the situation and thereby give a chance to diffuse it. Doesn't necessarily negate the failure (they'll recall you if the alarm goes up) but only one person really needs to convince them to let you past this person, who's should have been included when determining the Skill Challenge's complexity.

    I don't claim the chassis of Skill Checks is rock solid, but I do maintain it has utility as a codified system for some encounters, including most chases, most escapes from collapsing buildings, and some social situations. Also, see a fundamentally different use I haven't previously considered below.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Stop. The problem is not "a low chance of success". The problem is anything other than the highest chance of success. If you want to argue that a Paladin rolling Insight at +3 when the Sorcerer rolls Diplomacy at +12 against the same DC should be a wrong choice, fine.
    If you want to argue about how to set DCs, I'd be willing to do that. You realize though, that 4e Skill Challenges do not require the same DC for all checks, right? Because I notice your statement here says "against the same DC." So with 4e Skill Challenges, you then run into the problem that knowing your bonus to a particular skill does not tell you which skill gives the highest chance of success. That's not something the party can automatically assume.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    It is true that if the Paladin takes a bad action the party might lose a fight they'd otherwise win. But they would still have lost that fight if the Paladin had simply declined to show up. With skill challenges, this is not true. If I roll two successes and two failures, and you roll three successes and one failure, we get five successes. But you alone (supposing your performance was statistically typical) would've rolled nine successes. My presence made our results worse. Do you see the problem, or do I need to explain things a different way?
    I will say, I do think there are some situations where tracking failures and successes separately would make more sense than the rules as explained. If the whole party is running away from something, there should a chance some party members fail and others succeed.

    Actually relevant to the example, I'm curious if you have a proportionally large problem with each PC needing rations on a long journey. After all, if you can carry X lbs. of treasure on top of your gear and the party as a whole needs to carry more than X lbs. of rations to feed you it's the exact same problem you've described here, where on this one metric they'd be better off without you.

    I don't know why Skill Challenges are actually supposed to include every single party member (relative to every other system, anyway). I realize you were responding to that claim, so I suppose that's more a question for the people arguing they do (at at least that argue it does a better job than automatically having the Party Face do everything). Actually, might be helpful sometimes to say "the party needs four success and the Party Face rolled their +11 Cha skills for 3 of them, what are all of you going to try now?" I haven't really tried that before, might be worth taking a look at.

    Quote Originally Posted by MwaO View Post
    This is not a Skill Challenge. It is a series of checks that is probably actually at most a couple of checks made by one PC because they're the party face.
    What ruleset are you using where having a "series of checks" is not an inherent property of a Skill Challenge?

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    You are choosing a skill, making a check, and then describing how the character helped solve the problem; that is you are narrating a solution or failure, you are not solving or failing to solve the problem. But a traditional encounter, or series of encounters, the obstacles to resolving the encounter(s) are concretely defined, and invite players to come up with creative solutions.
    I'm not entirely sure Skill Challenges actually force the order to be Skill->Check->Description. The examples of stuff the DM should be expecting, sure, because the DM can't come up with every possible PC response, but other people on this thread appear to be taking issue with the fact that "creative solutions" to the challenge before the party are on the table in a Skill Challenge at all. There one line basically saying to insist the PCs attempting Skill->Check->Description start with the description instead:
    Quote Originally Posted by 4e DMG1, page 75
    If a player asks, “Can I use Diplomacy?” you should ask what exactly the character might be doing to help the party survive in the uninhabited sandy wastes by using that skill.

    Similarly, I understand the example of the chest is idealized, but I don't think it works very well as a counterpoint to skill checks. If you want to do this in 4e, you can do this in 4e about as easily. Situations where the party can take as long as they want to deal with a potential problem are still possible and situations where the party has X rounds to achieve something are still possible.

    I think the main difference to the earliest editions is that the Player rolls most of their checks, and therefore automatically learns if their character would have missed a typical easy to spot trap (or any of a dozen other examples where knowing you objectively didn't do very well in the attempt colors your response). I somehow doubt parties in OD&D days didn't think of having the charismatic guy do more of the talking than his gruff associate (especially given the number of characters each person was usually running back then).
    Last edited by sandmote; 2022-11-23 at 01:26 AM.
    Extended Signature, Woo! Latest Homebrew: The Oath of Oration.

    Spoiler: Previous Avatar
    Show

  2. - Top - End - #152
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2021

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I would like to note the following indented statement made by yourself, which I quote directly after the portion you are responding to:
    I still do not understand why you think "there are some things that aren't Skill Challenges" is a rebuttal to "there are problems with Skill Challenges". It doesn't matter if I said "every single thing that ever happens in 4e is always a Skill Challenge and all those books with monsters in them are distracting lies". That can be wrong, but it wouldn't make "Skill Challenges are well-designed to achieve their goal" right.

    The challenge can also end after a minimum number of success.
    Again, sure, but who cares? You get that number of successes in a smaller number of rolls if those individual rolls are at a higher chance of success. We still don't get to "it's a good idea for me to roll at +10 when someone else could roll at +12".

    The difference if you are measuring the scenario in actions or rounds.
    I don't understand why "something happens between each action in a round" is an impossible layer to add to a round-based Skill Challenge. That is, in fact, how round-based combats basically work right now.

    If you want to argue about how to set DCs, I'd be willing to do that.
    I just absolutely do not. In this case, I absolutely have been using simplifying language, and the literal claim I'm making is false in a way that impacts the argument, but that's because I don't want to specify "the skill that has the best chance of success at the time the roll is made" instead of simply "the best skill". But the hole isn't really big enough to drive anything through, because whether that best chance of success comes from a skill at +12 against DC 22 or a skill at +7 against DC 16, there's still no reason to roll a skill with a worse chance of success. Which means that only "fine-tune so that everyone has an equal chance of success" produces the result we want and that's both much more work for the DM and (more subjectively) really uninteresting.

    Actually relevant to the example, I'm curious if you have a proportionally large problem with each PC needing rations on a long journey. After all, if you can carry X lbs. of treasure on top of your gear and the party as a whole needs to carry more than X lbs. of rations to feed you it's the exact same problem you've described here, where on this one metric they'd be better off without you.
    I'll be honest with you: I have never played in a campaign where rations are tracked in any real detail. Most of the campaigns I've heard of that tracked things at that level of resolution were played in some form of AD&D, and leaned heavily on hirelings to carry stuff. I suspect that part of the reason this dynamic is rare is exactly that people find situations where someone is dead weight kind of miserable and uninteresting.

    I don't know why Skill Challenges are actually supposed to include every single party member
    One of the stated design goals of Skill Challenges was to "get everybody involved". You can certainly be happy with a system that doesn't get everybody involved, but there's clearly a failure here in terms of the design intent, even if you happen to like the artifact that was produced.

    Actually, might be helpful sometimes to say "the party needs four success and the Party Face rolled their +11 Cha skills for 3 of them, what are all of you going to try now?" I haven't really tried that before, might be worth taking a look at.
    What they are going to try is having the party face roll another Cha skill at +11. Trying to use social engineering to solve a mechanical problem is as bad as trying to use mechanical changes to solve a social problem like one player wanting to play at a radically different power level than the rest of the table.

    I somehow doubt parties in OD&D days didn't think of having the charismatic guy do more of the talking than his gruff associate (especially given the number of characters each person was usually running back then).
    I don't think this is an unreasonable premise. But if this is your premise I have to ask what the benefit of having Skill Challenges is supposed to be that outweighs the costs. A complexity 5 Skill Challenge takes potentially as many as 16 rolls to resolve. It produces the same success or failure as a single skill check. What are we getting from it that's worth having an extended sequence of the Bard rolling Diplomacy a bunch?

  3. - Top - End - #153
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I'm not entirely sure Skill Challenges actually force the order to be Skill->Check->Description. The examples of stuff the DM should be expecting, sure, because the DM can't come up with every possible PC response, but other people on this thread appear to be taking issue with the fact that "creative solutions" to the challenge before the party are on the table in a Skill Challenge at all. There one line basically saying to insist the PCs attempting Skill->Check->Description start with the description instead:
    Quote Originally Posted by 4e DMG1, page 75
    If a player asks, “Can I use Diplomacy?” you should ask what exactly the character might be doing to help the party survive in the uninhabited sandy wastes by using that skill.
    Note that in the example you cite, the player started by choosing a skill, and then is required to narrate a justification. This is literally mechanics driving narration. The player has chosen presumably Diplomacy because it is something his character is good at. That is he started by finding a favourable mechanic, because skill challenges incentivize him to do so. He then comes up with a narrative to justify the mechanic he has already chosen. This is exactly the phenomenon I am discussing.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Similarly, I understand the example of the chest is idealized, but I don't think it works very well as a counterpoint to skill checks. If you want to do this in 4e, you can do this in 4e about as easily. Situations where the party can take as long as they want to deal with a potential problem are still possible and situations where the party has X rounds to achieve something are still possible.
    Yes, absolutely, you can use narrative driven encounters in 4e. This is in fact a requirement for the point I am making. Deciding to use a skill challenge instead of one or more narrative driven encounters is a choice. The use of skill challenges is not mandatory. There is nothing in the mechanics of 4e that presents the use of narrative driven encounters.

    What I am saying is that in choosing to put at least one SC in every single published WotC 4e adventure, WotC required players of those published adventures to engage in mechanics driven play. And not everybody wants to engage in mechanics driven play. So they automatically made the game less interesting for people who prefer narrative driven play. Whereas non-SC encounters can usually be run as narrative driven or mechanics driven, depending on the inclinations of players and DM.

    By focussing so much time and energy on SCs, WotC annoyed a huge segment of their target market, and convinced them that 4e was not for them. I think the pervasiveness of SCs is part of why you have incorrect but pervasive narratives, like 4e being "merely a tactical combat game" that is poorly suited to roleplaying.

    To be clear, I am not beating up on 4e. 4e is my preferred system to run and play in. And I am not saying that SCs are conceptually a bad mechanic. I am merely saying that SCs are a mechanic that has limited appeal to a large segment of WotC's target market. "Fixing" the math, or coming up with ways for them to run more smoothly, is not going to change that.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I think the main difference to the earliest editions is that the Player rolls most of their checks, and therefore automatically learns if their character would have missed a typical easy to spot trap (or any of a dozen other examples where knowing you objectively didn't do very well in the attempt colors your response). I somehow doubt parties in OD&D days didn't think of having the charismatic guy do more of the talking than his gruff associate (especially given the number of characters each person was usually running back then).
    I am not comparing editions. I used an example from early edition play only to illustrate an example, free of any baggage about how the example would be resolved using modern mechanics, because I was trying to show how a situation can be resolved without mechanics. As it happens, I use these techniques in my 4e game; I set high DCs and make my traps more lethal than normal (in the case of traps this is really just using higher level traps), in order to incentivize narrative play.

    That being said, none of what you have stated remotely describes how early D&D was run in practice. I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain it, and I'm not sure there is much utility in getting into it; I doubt anyone in the 4e forums has any interest in how to run a Classic or OSR style game, even if I use 4e to do it. But trust me, what you think you know about early D&D is wrong.

  4. - Top - End - #154
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2021

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Note that in the example you cite, the player started by choosing a skill, and then is required to narrate a justification.
    I am still not entirely convinced this works as a description of people's behavior in practice. What is, IMO, generally going to happen is something along the lines of "I roll X to do Y", which is much harder to pin down. Even "I roll Diplomacy" doesn't seem like it's categorically mechanics-driven -- people have different communication styles, it's not impossible for someone to do the flavor -> mechanics translation themselves and present the mechanical action.

  5. - Top - End - #155
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    tcrudisi's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I am merely saying that SCs are a mechanic that has limited appeal to a large segment of WotC's target market. "Fixing" the math, or coming up with ways for them to run more smoothly, is not going to change that.
    Skill Challenges are literally a top 3 reason for why I love 4e so much more than any other edition of D&D. But I can also see why many would say they were bad. For starters, if you know you are in a skill challenge, the DM is probably doing it wrong. There's no reason to tell the players they are doing one. They require the same flexibility on the DM's part as any other time when the players are out-of-combat.

    I love how the skill challenges drive roleplaying. I love how they literally reward the players xp for roleplaying and coming up with solutions besides "we kill them and take their stuff". It's just so beautifully done. Sure, there are flaws in how it was originally presented, but when properly implemented, the skill challenge system just absolutely crushes any other system that D&D has ever offered.

    But I repeat: If the players know they are in a skill challenge, it's probably being incorrectly done.
    Thank you Ceika for the wonderful Avatar avatar!

  6. - Top - End - #156
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I am still not entirely convinced this works as a description of people's behavior in practice. What is, IMO, generally going to happen is something along the lines of "I roll X to do Y", which is much harder to pin down. Even "I roll Diplomacy" doesn't seem like it's categorically mechanics-driven -- people have different communication styles, it's not impossible for someone to do the flavor -> mechanics translation themselves and present the mechanical action.
    "I roll X to do Y" is definitely mechanics driven. The player is choosing what "X" is, and asserting that "X" is the proper mechanic to do "Y".

    "Are there any holes visible on the front of the chest?" is not mechanics driven. The player is trying to solve the puzzle of the chest by what can be seen readily. Now, the DM may decide there are holes, but they are concealed and difficult to detect, and may call for a Perception check. But there the choice of mechanic is a response to the narrative, and may not be necessary or applicable in all circumstances.

    "I make a Stealth check to blend in with the crowd," is mechanics driven. But what if the player instead says, "I want to try to blend in with the crowd," and the DM says, "Well the crowd is kind of sparse, and you are tall, there is nobody to hide behind," and the player says, "I try to just get the crowd's vibe and act like I belong." So the DM considers and asks for either an Intuition or a Streetwise check, but says if the player uses Streetwise, he has to use his Wisdom modifier instead of Charisma. So we are establishing what the narrative action is first, and then determining what mechanic is used to resolve the action.

    To continue the example, suppose instead the DM says, "Dude! You are surrounded by muddy peasants. You are wearing plate armor with a tabard that has the symbol of Pelor emblazoned on it. In shining gold paint! You are not blending in." And the player asks if there is anyone nearby wearing a cloak big enough to cover him, and the DM says sure, and the player buys the muddy cloak for a gold piece. And then the DM lets him make his Intuition/Streetwise check. See, narrative first.
    Last edited by Beoric; 2022-11-24 at 09:56 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #157
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2021

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcrudisi View Post
    For starters, if you know you are in a skill challenge, the DM is probably doing it wrong.
    Yeah, no, this is wrong. Players need to be able to make informed decisions. If you do not tell them how their decisions are going to effect outcomes, they cannot do that. Just use a mechanic that encourages desirable behavior even when players know they are interacting with it.

    Literally all you need to do to fix Skill Challenges is say "this ends in X rounds". That fixes the whole thing. But apparently we'd rather go back to "there are secret DM rules and the players can't know them" than do some basic math to arrive at rules that encourage the behavior we want.

    I love how the skill challenges drive roleplaying. I love how they literally reward the players xp for roleplaying and coming up with solutions besides "we kill them and take their stuff".
    You are allowed and even encouraged to do this in 3e. It has nothing to do with "Skill Challenges" as a mechanic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    But there the choice of mechanic is a response to the narrative, and may not be necessary or applicable in all circumstances.
    No, it's a choice by the DM. Suppose there are no holes, and the player rolls Perception. They find nothing. Suppose there are holes that are easy to find, and the player rolls Perception. They find the holes, but made an unnecessary role. Things were still being driven by the narrative. What's happening in this model isn't that "the narrative" is driving the story instead of "the mechanics", it's that the player is presenting an action to the DM, and the DM is deciding what mechanics are appropriate, rather than the player presenting the mechanics that they think are appropriate for the action.

    "I make a Stealth check to blend in with the crowd," is mechanics driven. But what if the player instead says, "I want to try to blend in with the crowd," and the DM says, "Well the crowd is kind of sparse, and you are tall, there is nobody to hide behind," and the player says, "I try to just get the crowd's vibe and act like I belong."
    Again, what's happening here is not that the player is making a narrative choice rather than a mechanical one. It's that the DM is enforcing a particular mechanic. If the player rolls Stealth to blend into a sparse crowd, that's fine. It may be that it is a less effective strategy than rolling Intuition or Streetwise would have been, but it's an acceptable one, and should the player's bonuses (and their luck) be sufficient to succeed at it, it should work. Because "I have a really big Stealth bonus and can hide in a sparse crowd" is a fact about the world in the same way that "the crowd is very sparse and social stealth is likely to be more effective than physical stealth" is.

    And the player asks if there is anyone nearby wearing a cloak big enough to cover him, and the DM says sure, and the player buys the muddy cloak for a gold piece. And then the DM lets him make his Intuition/Streetwise check. See, narrative first.
    No, mechanics first. There's an implicit mechanic here. The mechanic is "your attempts at Stealth must be plausible to the DM".

  8. - Top - End - #158
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    sandmote's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    US
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I'm breaking this comment up into full reponses and TL:DR responses to separate my main point from the details.

    Spoiler: Full Response to Random Peasant
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I still do not understand why you think "there are some things that aren't Skill Challenges" is a rebuttal to "there are problems with Skill Challenges".
    It is intended as a rebuttal to one particular problem with Skill Challenges you listed. Again:
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    In 4e, social situations are modeled as Skill Challenges.
    Any and all conclusions that require this as a premise are unsound (at least as presented) because there are social situations that are not modeled as skill challenges.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    it wouldn't make "Skill Challenges are well-designed to achieve their goal" right.
    Wouldn't make "Skill Challenges are poorly-designed to achieve their goal" true either.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Again, sure, but who cares?
    Given you say "A complexity 5 Skill Challenge takes potentially as many as 16 rolls to resolve" later in this comment, I'm not sure why you wrote anything disagreeing with the point in the first place. This can probably be dropped.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I don't understand why "something happens between each action in a round" is an impossible layer to add to a round-based Skill Challenge. That is, in fact, how round-based combats basically work right now.
    I did not claim it was an impossible layer to add to a round-based method of resolution, but I do think its a waste of time and a bit awkward to make the players stop and say "I'm going to Run this round," every time the PCs don't list what else they're going to try that would actually change the situation.

    Similarly, if there's only one enemy left and the PC can reach it without issue, I don't make them tell me who they're targeting and how they get in range. As far as I'm concerned, streamlining unnecessary actions is a net benefit, because it gives more time in the session to do the fun stuff. By extension, I'm willing to say that there are methods of resolving situations that can be simultaneously possible and worse than running a Skill Challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I don't want to specify "the skill that has the best chance of success at the time the roll is made" instead of simply "the best skill". But the hole isn't really big enough to drive anything through, because whether that best chance of success comes from a skill at +12 against DC 22 or a skill at +7 against DC 16, there's still no reason to roll a skill with a worse chance of success.
    This requires you to know the skill with the best chance of success before you roll. My proposal remains to deny the PCs that exact information.

    I realize that could have been unclear from my previous description of "tell the PCs a skill with a drastically lower chance to succeed has a drastically low chance to succeed," but telling them 1 (out of 17) skills is a bad idea isn't enough information for them to deduce the action that lets them use the highest skill/lowest DC combo.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Which means that only "fine-tune so that everyone has an equal chance of success" produces the result we want and that's both much more work for the DM and (more subjectively) really uninteresting.
    I don't see how that's a result I'd want in the first place. I don't see how its preferable to making the PCs figure out which options have the highest chance of success with partial information of the situation. And if they come up with a way to use a power to solve it, or an obvious skill check I didn't think of, good, they should be rewarded for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    One of the stated design goals of Skill Challenges was to "get everybody involved". You can certainly be happy with a system that doesn't get everybody involved, but there's clearly a failure here in terms of the design intent, even if you happen to like the artifact that was produced.
    Fair point, but I consider "get everybody involved every single time you do this one thing" to be impossible. So it might be a difference of expectations.

    If it helps, I consider Skill Challenges a partial success: they're a helpful way to model a group of situations, and at least my memory says they do a better job of getting people to start trying ideas outside their field of expertise (and/or hiding behind a Party Face).

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    What they are going to try is having the party face roll another Cha skill at +11. Trying to use social engineering to solve a mechanical problem is as bad as trying to use mechanical changes to solve a social problem like one player wanting to play at a radically different power level than the rest of the table.
    That I know what they're planning is that point of showing there's other things that can be attempted?

    This forum is probably not the place, so I'll only go as far as to say I don't understand where the act of saying "there's more than one way to skin a cat, try one of those," enters the realm of social engineering.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I don't think this is an unreasonable premise. But if this is your premise I have to ask what the benefit of having Skill Challenges is supposed to be that outweighs the costs. A complexity 5 Skill Challenge takes potentially as many as 16 rolls to resolve. It produces the same success or failure as a single skill check. What are we getting from it that's worth having an extended sequence of the Bard rolling Diplomacy a bunch?
    A single check can involve the help action, I guess. Otherwise the answer is that you're at least attempting to have something happen beside the Party Face rolling the same skill a bunch?


    TL;DR Response to RandomPeasant:
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I still do not understand why you think "there are some things that aren't Skill Challenges" is a rebuttal to "there are problems with Skill Challenges".
    My understanding is that you have a main conclusion (which appears to me as "skill challenges are too poorly designed to achieve their goal") with multiple supporting premises. "There are some things that aren't Skill Challenges" was intended as a rebuttal to one of those supporting premises, not to the idea "there are problem with Skill Challenges."

    Since you've since made statements agreeing that "There are some things that aren't Skill Challenges," it looks like you agree that particular supporting point fails to stand, I hope we can move on to other supporting points?
    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Literally all you need to do to fix Skill Challenges is say "this ends in X rounds".
    Apparently this supporting point has not been dropped. So, is there a reason we have to do this and aren't allowed to just arrive at rules that encourage the behavior we want?
    /Edit
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    there's still no reason to roll a skill with a worse chance of success.
    If you've written a response to what happened when the PCs can't calculate the chance of success, I've missed where you did so. Because a player saying "I'm going to roll a skill I know has a worse chance of success," starts with them knowing the chance of success.


    Spoiler: Full Response to Beoric
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Note that in the example you cite, the player started by choosing a skill, and then is required to narrate a justification.
    My reading is that the Player attempted to go "Skill->Check->Description," (to use your terminology) and was prompted by the DM to instead try going "Description->Skill->Check."

    To see if I've understood you correctly, my reading it that based on what's in the quote from you above, it appears you agree with me on what the player did initially, but your reading is that the player was instead prompted by the DM to go "Skill->Description->Check." Which is something I still consider "mechanics driven;" fair enough.

    But it is also the first step I try to get players to start defaulting to "Description->Skill->Check." But suppose at this point it might be worth asking: would you consider "Description->Skill->Check," to be narrative driven? (I think you agreed to this in your last comment, but I'd rather not assume here). I'll continuing where I'm going with this after the next quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    He then comes up with a narrative to justify the mechanic he has already chosen.
    There is no mention of whether or not this occurs in the passage, much less in the specific part I quoted to you. I would like to note that I have had all of the following happen with skill checks not made as part of a Skill Challenge:
    1. The player visibly tries to invent a way to justify the chosen mechanic. Either I prompt another player to try something while this one mulls it over or get the opportunity to move on to one of the other items on this list.
    2. The player lists a narrative effect that works with the same skill, and I tell them to roll for the named skill.
    3. The player lists a narrative effect that works with a different skill, and I tell them to roll for the skill that fits the narrative effect.

    I don't see why making players move closer to the last item on the list over time is a bad idea, and I see no reason it would be impossible to get players to do during a skill challenge. And that probably moves us very close to the "is doing something you know you're better at metagaming" line of questioning that probably deserves several threads elsewhere on the forum.

    Please note that my end goal is as follows:
    • The player lists a narrative effect first, and then I determine which skill would apply to that narrative effect along with an appropriate DC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Deciding to use a skill challenge instead of one or more narrative driven encounters is a choice...There is nothing in the mechanics of 4e that presents the use of narrative driven encounters.
    I don't see anything in the mechanics of 4e Skill Challenges that prevents the use of narrative driven encounters either. I see a line telling the DM to push against players going about a Skill Challenge the "Skill->Check->Description" method, but nothing forcing it in the other direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    The use of skill challenges is not mandatory.
    I'm glad to be able to say I agree on this point. I would, however like to once again say that a Skill Challenge being mechanics driven is also not mandatory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    What I am saying is that in choosing to put at least one SC in every single published WotC 4e adventure, WotC required players of those published adventures to engage in mechanics driven play.
    Thank you for confirming that I understood what you have been saying. If it helps, what I'm saying is that "I list the skill with the highest bonus and see if I can make it fit the Skill Challenge," is not mandatory for a Skill Challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Whereas non-SC encounters can usually be run as narrative driven or mechanics driven, depending on the inclinations of players and DM.
    I appreciate the clarification that non-SC encounter can be mechanics driven under some circumstances. I'm asking for the part of SC encounters (and/or encounters which combine a SC with something else) that these other counter types lack which makes it untrue for them. Or the part of SC encounters that only SCs lack than makes this untrue for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    By focussing so much time and energy on SCs, WotC annoyed a huge segment of their target market, and convinced them that 4e was not for them. I think the pervasiveness of SCs is part of why you have incorrect but pervasive narratives, like 4e being "merely a tactical combat game" that is poorly suited to roleplaying.
    My position is that "SC's can only be mechanics driven," is one of those incorrect but pervasive narratives. Actually, its probably a subset of "4e is poorly suited to roleplaying," to be honest. Wouldn't surprise me if the actual reasoning started with "this thing I consider true about 4e must also be true of the components of 4e." Even if someone realizes it isn't true about 4e as a whole, the idea could persist in particular components.

    Not saying that's what's happened here, but that might explain why I see so much stuff saying "this is the case," and so little explanation of "why this is the case."

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    That being said, none of what you have stated remotely describes how early D&D was run in practice. I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain it, and I'm not sure there is much utility in getting into it; I doubt anyone in the 4e forums has any interest in how to run a Classic or OSR style game, even if I use 4e to do it. But trust me, what you think you know about early D&D is wrong.
    Upon checking my previous comment there appears to be a very unclear sentence in it:
    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I think the main difference to the earliest editions is that the Player rolls most of their checks...
    To clarify (and for all I know it was already clear) I meant that in 4e Players roll most of their checks, and my understanding is that this was the opposite in the earliest days of D&D. My understanding is that originally most rolls were done behind the screen, (the legend about this being done with PC stats seems suspect though) and that even 3rd edition was a significant shift toward players performing their own rolls compared to early OD&D.

    In either case, would you be willing to provide an explanation on the Older D&D/AD&D and Other Systems tread or link a source where someone has provided this explanation off the forum? I'd like to have a clearer picture going forward.

    Otherwise I'm dropping this for this thread.


    TL;DR response to Beoric:
    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Note that in the example you cite, the player started by choosing a skill, and then is required to narrate a justification.
    Which can be done with situations that aren't Skill Challenges, as you say yourself:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    non-SC encounters can usually be run as narrative driven or mechanics driven, depending on the inclinations of players and DM.
    If I provide an example of a regular old single skill check not made as part of a Skill Challenge where the player starts by choosing a skill and then trying to narrate a justification, are you going to start denying this true statement you've made?
    • If you would do this, please say so.
    • If you wouldn't do this, can you list which aspect(s) of Skill Challenges don't exist in these other encounter types and/or only exist in Skill Challenges that makes this thing exclusively true for Skill Challenges?

    Because the larger the volume of text saying "You have to start responding to a skill challenge by first picking a skill," that fails to be followed by a "because this nasty thing necessarily happens if you start by choosing a narratively appropriate idea to try," the more it sounds like the claim is based purely on the pervasive narrative that 4e is "merely a tactical combat game," and somehow incapable of supporting roleplaying.
    Last edited by sandmote; 2022-11-26 at 04:59 PM.
    Extended Signature, Woo! Latest Homebrew: The Oath of Oration.

    Spoiler: Previous Avatar
    Show

  9. - Top - End - #159
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    No, it's a choice by the DM. Suppose there are no holes, and the player rolls Perception. They find nothing. Suppose there are holes that are easy to find, and the player rolls Perception. They find the holes, but made an unnecessary role. Things were still being driven by the narrative. What's happening in this model isn't that "the narrative" is driving the story instead of "the mechanics", it's that the player is presenting an action to the DM, and the DM is deciding what mechanics are appropriate, rather than the player presenting the mechanics that they think are appropriate for the action.
    Yes, exactly. It should be clear that if the DM is deciding the mechanic, or even deciding no mechanical resolution is necessary, then the player is not choosing the mechanic. The player is narrating his action, the DM is adjudicating it >> narrative comes first >> narrative driven.

    If, for the same encounter, the player chooses the mechanic, then it would be mechanic driven. I am saying that either narrative driven or mechanics driven playstyles can be used with traditional encounter design.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Again, what's happening here is not that the player is making a narrative choice rather than a mechanical one. It's that the DM is enforcing a particular mechanic. If the player rolls Stealth to blend into a sparse crowd, that's fine. It may be that it is a less effective strategy than rolling Intuition or Streetwise would have been, but it's an acceptable one, and should the player's bonuses (and their luck) be sufficient to succeed at it, it should work. Because "I have a really big Stealth bonus and can hide in a sparse crowd" is a fact about the world in the same way that "the crowd is very sparse and social stealth is likely to be more effective than physical stealth" is.
    Same answer as above. And to be clear, I am not saying everyone needs to use narrative driven play, I am saying a lot of people like narrative driven play.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I don't see why making players move closer to the last item on the list over time is a bad idea, and I see no reason it would be impossible to get players to do during a skill challenge. And that probably moves us very close to the "is doing something you know you're better at metagaming" line of questioning that probably deserves several threads elsewhere on the forum.
    I think this is the key to the disconnect. I am not saying it is a bad idea. There is nothing wrong with mechanics driven play. I am attempting to describe two different playstyles. I am saying that traditional encounters support both playstyles, but SCs support only one playstyle.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Please note that my end goal is as follows:
    • The player lists a narrative effect first, and then I determine which skill would apply to that narrative effect along with an appropriate DC.
    I think that is probably narrative driven play, although an example of how you accomplish this would make it clearer.

    If you can manage that in a SC, great. I am suggesting it is not easy to do with a SC - or at least with a published SC, it occurs to me that it may be easier to run a narrative driven SC on the fly.

    I am very curious, and would appreciate an example, of what you are saying to prompt the player to start by narrating an action. With a traditional encounter, the obstacles are concrete and narrated - that is, the player is confronted with the obstacle (cross the river), as opposed to the overall objective (travel overland through the wilderness). As published SCs are written, I think they tend to present the players with the objective, not the obstacles. I would like to see how you are getting around that.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    If I provide an example of a regular old single skill check not made as part of a Skill Challenge where the player starts by choosing a skill and then trying to narrate a justification, are you going to start denying this true statement you've made?
    • If you would do this, please say so.
    • If you wouldn't do this, can you list which aspect(s) of Skill Challenges don't exist in these other encounter types and/or only exist in Skill Challenges that makes this thing exclusively true for Skill Challenges?

    Because the larger the volume of text saying "You have to start responding to a skill challenge by first picking a skill," that fails to be followed by a "because this nasty thing necessarily happens if you start by choosing a narratively appropriate idea to try," the more it sounds like the claim is based purely on the pervasive narrative that 4e is "merely a tactical combat game," and somehow incapable of supporting roleplaying.
    No, I would agree that your example is consistent with what I have said.

    Look, I have been faced with running a skill challenge and wanting to shoehorn it into a narrative driven playstyle, and the method I took was to select the sample uses of named skills and turned those into concrete obstacles. So for instance, if there was a list of skills in the SC like "Nature: you find the best path though the forest", and "Athletics: you swim a river or climb a cliff", I might tell the players the river was in their path, and then they would narrate their approach to crossing the river.

    You can do this, I am just saying that the SC, or (on reflection) at least the presentation of SCs is not well suited to this. There would be much more effective ways or organizing the series of encounters in a way that would support the DM is presenting this series of encounters. But I don't want to get into what those methods might be until I confirm that this is how you are doing things, or if you are using some other technique to run narrative driven SCs.

    I will also suggest that if you are running narrative driven SCs you are likely an unusual case. Nearly every example I have seen in this thread, whether responding to me or not, has been an example that was clearly mechanics driven play.
    Last edited by Beoric; 2022-11-26 at 06:54 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #160
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    To clarify (and for all I know it was already clear) I meant that in 4e Players roll most of their checks, and my understanding is that this was the opposite in the earliest days of D&D. My understanding is that originally most rolls were done behind the screen, (the legend about this being done with PC stats seems suspect though) and that even 3rd edition was a significant shift toward players performing their own rolls compared to early OD&D.

    In either case, would you be willing to provide an explanation on the Older D&D/AD&D and Other Systems tread or link a source where someone has provided this explanation off the forum? I'd like to have a clearer picture going forward.
    I think it varied a lot from group to group, and IIRC Gygax was in the "roll everything behind the screen" camp. But there was a lot of variation, both regionally and between groups. I know in our group, where there were checks to be made, the players often rolled them, depending on the DM and the nature of the check. I think even with Gygax, rolls to use thief skills, open doors and bend bars/lift gates were rolled by players. Rolls were generally hidden when the very existence of the roll would give away the plot.

    An example would be if there was a random chance of stepping on a tripwire and triggering a trap, those rolls would be made in secret until the trap was triggered (although in 4e this would be an attack roll, so it would still be rolled by the DM), or rolls for elves to detect a secret door (which they could do while travelling, so the roll itself would give away the door's existence).

    But other than that, in the very early game abilities were used very differently from what you suppose. In 1e and (I think) 0e the only function of Charisma was to determine the maximum number of henchmen you could take on, the initial reaction of monsters and NPCs when you encountered them, and the loyalty of your henchmen, hirelings and followers.

    I think in one of the versions of Basic they introduced a "roll under your ability score" mechanic to make ability checks, but I was more of a 1e player so I don't know if that would have been used on a regular basis in social encounters. I think as a rule in 0e and 1e, and maybe 2e, who had the highest charisma score would have been ignored by most groups in social encounters. Non-combat encounters, including social encounters, were generally adjudicated by what you said or did without reference to any score.

    Also, decisions were made by the group. This was a time of group initiative checks, so there was less of a focus on clearly defined turns in which a player acted without reference to, or input from, the other players. So if someone in a social encounter says something to the king without attribution, it might be assumed that it was the paladin saying it, even if it was the fighter's character that made the suggestion (assuming the paladin's player went along with it). Or it was equally likely that the DM just didn't care about the charisma of the character who was speaking, because there was no express mechanical benefit, and not really any culture of adjudicating based on charisma scores.

    So absolutely, you would regularly have the player of the gruff guy speaking, instead of the player of the paladin, without any penalty. Strength had more mechanics associated with it, so the wizard's player might suggest that the fighter's player should do something that required strength, but lots and lots of actions were resolved with no reference to mechanics whatsoever, or the DM deciding there was a 33% chance and rolling a DM without modifiers.

    With no ability checks or skill checks baked into the game, there was very heavy reliance on purely narrative adjudication. This is why the distinction is so clear in my mind. This in turn led to very different noncombat encounters than you see in modern adventures; because the selection of an approach was so important, encounters could be built to take into account common approaches. Everything had a risk and a tradeoff.

    So if you come to a pit in a hallway, how do you get across? Do you climb in, walk across, and climb out? Do you shimmy along the narrow ledges on the sides of the pit? Do you jump across? What precautions do you take to make sure there isn't a trapper in the bottom of the pit, or the ledges aren't designed to give way, or there isn't a second, covered pit on the other side that you might be jumping into? If you don't climb into the pit, how do you know you aren't missing some hidden treasure, or a secret door?

    Other traps and "tricks" could be very creative, they could use your own sense of self-preservation against you. The dungeon was kind of a big puzzle, with various mechanisms designed to trick adventurers and wear them down; I have heard it described as a "survival horror" game, and I think that is accurate. When it was done well, the whole thing was designed to encourage you to experiment, and to push your luck. Instead of rolls for everything, you had a constant back and forth conversation with the DM, as players experimented and investigated in order to improve their characters' odds of survival.

    You can still play this way if you have a skill system (and I do), but none of the sourcebooks or adventures teach you how.
    Last edited by Beoric; 2022-11-26 at 07:59 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #161
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    tcrudisi's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Yeah, no, this is wrong. Players need to be able to make informed decisions. If you do not tell them how their decisions are going to effect outcomes, they cannot do that. Just use a mechanic that encourages desirable behavior even when players know they are interacting with it.
    Of course they know how their decisions will effect outcomes. You don't need to know you are in a skill challenge to know how that will happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    You are allowed and even encouraged to do this in 3e. It has nothing to do with "Skill Challenges" as a mechanic.
    Not really. It's one thing to say that and another to back it up with mechanics. 4e literally backs it up with mechanics. It tells you how much xp to assign, for example. 3e never did anything like that.
    Thank you Ceika for the wonderful Avatar avatar!

  12. - Top - End - #162
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcrudisi View Post
    For starters, if you know you are in a skill challenge, the DM is probably doing it wrong.
    I'm actually curious how you'd pull that off. Assuming the players are passingly familiar with 4E rules, how can they not realize that they're doing an SC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    "I make a Stealth check to blend in with the crowd," is mechanics driven. But what if the player instead says, "I want to try to blend in with the crowd," and the DM says,
    I agree with this. Most issues with SCs go away if the player describes what he wants to do and the GM asks for a check (instead of the player deciding on a check and then making up a justification for it). Also, it removes the option of "I use <skill X> to do <something unrelated to skill X>".

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    If the player rolls Stealth to blend into a sparse crowd, that's fine. It may be that it is a less effective strategy than rolling Intuition or Streetwise would have been, but it's an acceptable one, and should the player's bonuses (and their luck) be sufficient to succeed at it, it should work.
    The problem here is that the game math doesn't match up with what you're suggesting: if the character is well invested in Stealth, then giving Stealth the hard DC still gives him the highest chance of success. The DM should be well within his rights to declare that a particular skill just doesn't help or work in the current situation.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

  13. - Top - End - #163
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'm actually curious how you'd pull that off. Assuming the players are passingly familiar with 4E rules, how can they not realize that they're doing an SC?
    Whenever I read a statement like this I assume they are picking the examples of how a skill might be narrated and converting them into defined obstacles, like I was describing here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Look, I have been faced with running a skill challenge and wanting to shoehorn it into a narrative driven playstyle, and the method I took was to select the sample uses of named skills and turned those into concrete obstacles. So for instance, if there was a list of skills in the SC like "Nature: you find the best path though the forest", and "Athletics: you swim a river or climb a cliff", I might tell the players the river was in their path, and then they would narrate their approach to crossing the river.

    You can do this, I am just saying that the SC, or (on reflection) at least the presentation of SCs is not well suited to this. There would be much more effective ways or organizing the series of encounters in a way that would support the DM is presenting this series of encounters. But I don't want to get into what those methods might be until I confirm that this is how you are doing things, or if you are using some other technique to run narrative driven SCs.

    I will also suggest that if you are running narrative driven SCs you are likely an unusual case. Nearly every example I have seen in this thread, whether responding to me or not, has been an example that was clearly mechanics driven play.
    So instead of presenting a situation to the players, like, "You are faced with an arduous trek through the wilderness, tell me how you contribute to the party's success," you pick through the fluff to create individual encounters, like, "A river/cliff/swamp blocks your path," or "You come to a fork in the path and need to choose the best route."

    If they players don't know you are counting successes and failures using this method, they may not know they are in a SC.

  14. - Top - End - #164
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I think, to me, the core of having successful "skill challenges" is to have meaningful consequences for each action in the fiction. Ones that successful or not change the landscape, making "I hit the same button again" not work. That force the players (including the DM) to react to changing circumstances. Maybe including changing what the "best" option at the next juncture is by changing DCs or by (narratively) ruling out certain types of attempts entirely. Ones that move the overall situation toward an end. No action should result in "nothing changed". That way you also can include non-binary outcomes, more than just "total success or total failure". Counting successes/failures can be part of that, but should be measured more in changes to the situation.

    Does 4e present it like that? Dunno. I only ran it a couple times and (due to external constraints) hacked the ever living heck out of it, barely using it as written. But then again, my reading is that 4e had lots of great ideas and implemented them, like most things WotC does, haphazardly and poorly.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    Rogue Equivalent Damage calculator
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  15. - Top - End - #165
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    So instead of presenting a situation to the players, like, "You are faced with an arduous trek through the wilderness, tell me how you contribute to the party's success," you pick through the fluff to create individual encounters, like, "A river/cliff/swamp blocks your path," or "You come to a fork in the path and need to choose the best route."

    If they players don't know you are counting successes and failures using this method, they may not know they are in a SC.
    I want to add to what I wrote here. I think if this is what you are doing, there are better ways to present it than the SC format. Formats that would support the DM better by not requiring him to improvise individual encounters using the (often anemic) fluff contained in the SC format. And that would be to write very short individual encounters ahead of time. You could then put them in a table and select them randomly until success or failure results, or place them in some sort of order.

    (Of course, if you are putting them in order you could add a bit of complexity and make it more of a flow chart, with player choices, successes and failures opening up or closing off paths. And if that flowchart is representing overland travel, you could turn it into a point crawl.)

    But I am looking at the examples of play on p. 77 of the DMG and pp. 80-81 of the DMG2, and I'm pretty the "individual encounters" isn't the intention. It is really hard to see how the players wouldn't guess they were in a SC from those examples.

  16. - Top - End - #166
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Hopping across the planes
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    You are once again describing something that seems vastly better handled by having the Skill Challenge last a given number of rounds, rather than ending after a given number of failures. This has the added benefit of providing a natural mechanism for degrees of success (which I recall being another Skill Challenge design goal).
    This is how PF2 deals with extended tests, and I think it is indeed the best solution. Something like "you need 3 success by the end of the second round", and then you go through each player asking what they do. This way, if a player fail, they don't advance the failure condition, they simply don't help (unless in the rare occasion of a fumble).

  17. - Top - End - #167
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Hopping across the planes
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    The question isn’t “have you seen people play in the box”, the question is, “have you seen people play outside the box”. And, even then, my question is, where in the spectrum of “facilitate” to “hinder” does the game stand on the spectrum of how it handles going outside the box. That’s how suitable it is to being an RPG.

    … no? I would look for every possible approach I can imagine, and evaluate them in light of comparison between the capabilities and the expected difficulty of the approach, and the cost and morality and range of outcomes and side-effects possible from the attempt? In an RPG, factor in roleplaying and metagame considerations, as well as potential for drawing upon NPCs. So, despite being a programmer, I might choose “ask to come in” over “hack security”. Similarly, I might plead my case before attempting to rewrite time.
    I have run a 5 years long 4e game to my group, and I would love to share with you all the moments my players came up with. Destroying the pillars that sustain the stairs, improvising weapons, using oil and fire, designing a trap for undead using a combination of rituals, using their familiars and flying abilities to invade a fortress, etc.

    However, I get what you mean, if a new player came and said "I want to bash the head of these two orcs together", I would have to ask "do you have a power for that?". I am just not sure this is a problem, that is how 5e and PF 2e works as well. Something like Dungeon World would allow this kind of free-form play.

  18. - Top - End - #168
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    However, I get what you mean, if a new player came and said "I want to bash the head of these two orcs together", I would have to ask "do you have a power for that?". I am just not sure this is a problem, that is how 5e and PF 2e works as well. Something like Dungeon World would allow this kind of free-form play.
    I disagree. Off the top of my head, Str v Reflex; Melee 1 (two targets); Practically speaking, both attacks would have to hit to do any damage to either, so I would use a limited damage expression (that is, damage for multiple targets, but increased by 50%).

    If it came up a lot, I might think harder about the math, and think about whether adding the dazed condition would be appropriate. But I think the above meets DMG p. 42 criteria if I had to come up with something on the fly.
    Last edited by Beoric; 2022-12-04 at 04:02 PM.

  19. - Top - End - #169
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Hopping across the planes
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I disagree. Off the top of my head, Str v Reflex; Melee 1 (two targets); Practically speaking, both attacks would have to hit to do any damage to either, so I would use a limited damage expression (that is, damage for multiple targets, but increased by 50%).

    If it came up a lot, I might think harder about the math, and think about whether adding the dazed condition would be appropriate. But I think the above meets DMG p. 42 criteria if I had to come up with something on the fly.
    You are creating a new power there, which is fine, but just handing it to the player in the spot because they wanted to do it in that moment is counter to D&D's design (not just 4e, basically every edition's). I think what Quertus was saying is that a player can't just come up with these actions on the spot based on the narrative, but they can't do it in any D&D edition as far as I know. In narrative-first games like Dungeon World and Ironsworn? Sure. In D&D or 13th Age? No way

  20. - Top - End - #170
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    You are creating a new power there, which is fine, but just handing it to the player in the spot because they wanted to do it in that moment is counter to D&D's design (not just 4e, basically every edition's). I think what Quertus was saying is that a player can't just come up with these actions on the spot based on the narrative, but they can't do it in any D&D edition as far as I know. In narrative-first games like Dungeon World and Ironsworn? Sure. In D&D or 13th Age? No way
    Please read p. 42 of the 4e DMG, it expressly says that you can do this, and tells you how. Rather than being contrary to 4e's design, it is baked in.

    EDIT: It frustrates me that even experienced 4e DMs don't appear to be aware of this rule and its implications. Clearly it adds to the general perception that 4e is a game played by pushing buttons. I think it also points to the way gaming culture can supplant the actual rules in determining how a game is played.
    Last edited by Beoric; 2022-12-04 at 07:20 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #171
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Hopping across the planes
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Please read p. 42 of the 4e DMG, it expressly says that you can do this, and tells you how. Rather than being contrary to 4e's design, it is baked in.

    EDIT: It frustrates me that even experienced 4e DMs don't appear to be aware of this rule and its implications. Clearly it adds to the general perception that 4e is a game played by pushing buttons. I think it also points to the way gaming culture can supplant the actual rules in determining how a game is played.
    As I see it, "Actions the Rules Don’t Cover" is meant for stuff that is so situational that you can't have a Power for it. The book examples pushing an ogre into a brazier while swinging from a chandelier, but it could also be for something like what happened in my table: the PCs rolling a column downhill, they trying to stop a cart with their hands, or attacking the support of a staircase. A repeatable action like bashing the heads of two creatures is much more like a Power, else if you allow anyone to do that, you should also allow anyone to say "I swing both my daggers to attack the ogre", which is a dedicated power.

  22. - Top - End - #172
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    However, I get what you mean, if a new player came and said "I want to bash the head of these two orcs together", I would have to ask "do you have a power for that?". I am just not sure this is a problem, that is how 5e and PF 2e works as well. Something like Dungeon World would allow this kind of free-form play.
    Regardless of edition, I would rule that any ability that lets you make two unarmed attacks in one turn lets you do this (for instance, 4E's Twin Strike, 3E/PF's flurry of blows, or just two attack actions in P2).

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    EDIT: It frustrates me that even experienced 4e DMs don't appear to be aware of this rule and its implications.
    An implication may be that the player, after hearing how you would rule it, notes that this is weaker than an MBA and decides not to do it.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

  23. - Top - End - #173
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Hopping across the planes
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Regardless of edition, I would rule that any ability that lets you make two unarmed attacks in one turn lets you do this (for instance, 4E's Twin Strike, 3E/PF's flurry of blows, or just two attack actions in P2).
    Indeed, but if I understand correctly what Quertus is saying, we are "playing the system" if a PC can't do something logical in the world because they don't have a Power for it. It isn't RPG by their standard, but then I wonder how other editions of D&D is a RPG, since none of them would allow you to break the action economy like this.

  24. - Top - End - #174
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    Indeed, but if I understand correctly what Quertus is saying, we are "playing the system" if a PC can't do something logical in the world because they don't have a Power for it. It isn't RPG by their standard, but then I wonder how other editions of D&D is a RPG, since none of them would allow you to break the action economy like this.
    If you lack the ability to make two attacks in one round, and you don't want to break the action economy (which I agree with) then the obvious outcome is that it takes two rounds, i.e. one round to grab one orc and one round to slam him into the other.

    However, are you looking for a system that lets you perform your stunt, or a system that makes it a worthwhile action (compared to other things you could have done) to do your stunt? Because if it's the latter, then this two-round method falls short.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

    "I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums. I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that." -- ChubbyRain
    Crystal Shard Studios - Freeware games designed by Kurald and others!

  25. - Top - End - #175
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    The Flying City Columbia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I disagree. Off the top of my head, Str v Reflex; Melee 1 (two targets); Practically speaking, both attacks would have to hit to do any damage to either, so I would use a limited damage expression (that is, damage for multiple targets, but increased by 50%).

    If it came up a lot, I might think harder about the math, and think about whether adding the dazed condition would be appropriate. But I think the above meets DMG p. 42 criteria if I had to come up with something on the fly.
    On one hand you could and on the other hand you probably shouldn't, because if repeatable "creative stunts" are better than at-will (or encounter, if it applied daze!) powers then people will use them and nothing else, which defeats the whole point of being creative.

    My personal question though would be "Why is your swordsman trying to brawl barehanded?" Because if a player intended to play as a barehanded brawler, then they should have built for it, as a monk, or a fighter with monk multiclass, and then they wouldn't need to improvise an attack to represent their barehanded brawling style, because they have their actual class powers to do these kinds of things already. For example, a monk can hit one monster with one power, and then flurry to damage and slide another one adjacent, to represent "banging their heads together;" a brawling fighter could use Dual Strike or Cleave or some other power, and narrate it as "banging their heads together." On the other hand, if your character is trying to improvise a power to grab heads and slam them together, it kind of needs to be worse than their normal power set, because generic improvised repeatable attacks just shouldn't be better than the limited powers that a player has spent character resources to possess.

    Non-standard attacks work well for single-use, environmentally-contextual attacks like pulling a rug, I think, but not for something universal and repeatable like "swiping their legs to trip them up." The former encourages players to explore the environment and look for novel tricks, but the latter just feels cheesy and cheaty, because players should be expected to build for the character they want to play, and playing a character with a specific and repeatable gimmick is what character resources are for.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeminiZero View Post
    Gamer cancels life, interrupted by Dwarf Fortress.

  26. - Top - End - #176
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    sandmote's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    US
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Apologies for the delay, especially given the conversation has moved elsewhere. For that, I probably would make "thing the player can technically do at any time" require giving up a power if the PC is able to do something strong with it. A variant of a basic attack that deals, say 1d8 damage to two enemies in burst, as a standard action is probably fine. To daze or deal on-weapon damage I'd require them to make it a power.

    Contrast shoving someone next to you off of a cliff. That's a bull rush that gains extra benefits because the player used it as a smart time, and as they're perfectly able to bull rush anyway I wouldn't require them having to make it part of their build. Admittedly this is probably one of the weaknesses in 4e, as making a feat chain in 3.5e or making a feat, fighting style, or subclass in 5e that can do these sorts of things gives them more flexibility.


    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I am saying that traditional encounters support both playstyles, but SCs support only one playstyle.

    If you can manage that in a SC, great. I am suggesting it is not easy to do with a SC...
    I impression I got previously was that you believe there is something particular about SCs that makes the narrative playstyle unviable with them in particular, compared to other resolution methods that involve multiple rolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I am very curious, and would appreciate an example, of what you are saying to prompt the player to start by narrating an action. With a traditional encounter, the obstacles are concrete and narrated - that is, the player is confronted with the obstacle (cross the river), as opposed to the overall objective (travel overland through the wilderness). As published SCs are written, I think they tend to present the players with the objective, not the obstacles. I would like to see how you are getting around that.
    As an example, the party learns there is an assassin at some fancy event. This creates one situation with two problems: the party needs to locate the assassin, but they also to avoid making a scene that gets them thrown out. And I can track their progress on each separately. I'll likely invent some reason the regular security at the event doesn't take the threat seriously (to explain why its the party that's doing this as much as why they'll get thrown out for making a scene). They can search the various locations at the event (kitchen preparing the food, main ballroom, powder rooms, smaller side rooms, balconies, ect.) and I'll list things people are doing in that area while the party members are searching. Potential suggestions I'd have prepared:
    • If the victim is known, warn them to get them to safety without causing a ruckus. Or finding a polite excuse to stay nearby and guard them.
    • Creating an embarrassing situation for a suspect so the PCs have an excuse to search their belongings. Or so the PCs can search the belongings for poison/weapons without embarrassing themselves.
    • Come up with a Shibboleth that the assassin is unlikely to know that clerics or nobles will (making a check to determine how effective it is) and then propose the guest perform an activity that involves it.
    • Sneak a bit of food intended to reach the suspect and test it for poison. The ritual might be an auto-success, but the PCs might need a roll to get access to the food (or to keep the intended victim from eating it while they check for poison)
    For several of these the relevant skill might depend on how the PC goes about doing it, and a lot could allow a second roll to ease the tension and negate a failure, but I hope the intent is clearer?

    Alternatively, the first time I tried running a chase I said the PCs were 60 feet away from their pursuers and had the initiative. My intent was that a PC who manages to put 100 feet between themselves and the pursuers (after the pursuer's actions in the same round) would get away and if the pursuers caught up they'd get caught. To increase the distance I had the party members come up with rolls that would either get onto or over obstacles or create rough terrain behind them. This dragged on longer than I intended when the pursuers repeatedly cycled closer and further from one PC, neither falling behind by 100 feet nor catching up. "You need three successes to get away and are captured if you fail three times first," would work a lot better at (a) creating more tension as the margins between escape and capture close and (b) the encounter has a point where it will definitely end after the next roll.
    Note for honesty: The game where I planned to try this as a skill challenge ended before I got the chance, but my first chase went so badly that I'm willing to list anything that creates (a) and (b) as a massive improvement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    Look, I have been faced with running a skill challenge and wanting to shoehorn it into a narrative driven playstyle, and the method I took was to select the sample uses of named skills and turned those into concrete obstacles. So for instance, if there was a list of skills in the SC like "Nature: you find the best path though the forest", and "Athletics: you swim a river or climb a cliff", I might tell the players the river was in their path, and then they would narrate their approach to crossing the river.
    I reread pages 72-80 of the DMG 1 and didn't see these examples, although I feel like I've seen them somewhere. Drawing a blank at the moment though.

    To the examples, I think my example of crossing a river upthread was that the party was being chased. Just a general "find a method of crossing this obstacle" seems like you're just counting how many resources the party uses to get past the named obstacle. So I don't see how formatting the resolution via an SC would... make sense.

    If I were trying to shoehorn one into overland travel, I'd set it up that there one place (or type of place) the party wants to reach and some sort of place they want to avoid, and a failure for the skill challenge results in them ending up in the bad place (running back into whichever creatures the party was escaping from when it got lost, for example). Otherwise I probably wouldn't make crossing a physical barrier a skill challenge, just a series of skill checks where failing the check loses you resources but still gets you across the obstacle (which resources presumably depending on what the party tries). Or if you're stricter than I am, they lose resources until they succeed at getting across; my point is more that I'm not clear what the failure state is for an SC where the scenario is just "there's a river you need to get across."

    Admittedly the scenario for getting lost in the wilderness in the DMG 1 is terrible, with the party seemingly dying if they fail:
    Quote Originally Posted by DMG1, page 79
    Setup: You must use your knowledge of the wilderness to survive long enough to find your way back to a familiar area or to a settlement of some sort.
    Going through the other examples in the DMG 1:
    The Negotiation and Interrogation examples seem to have the same situation where baffling or sufficiently angering the NPC party will make them refuse to continue speaking with the party for the foreseeable future, even if they were a moment away from doing what the party wanted. Not something that requires a SC, but there's certainly cases where a hard limit on what the PCs can mess up before they're forced to end the conversation works better than a video-gamey "try again until the find the right path through the speech tree." Its overkill for most conversations though.

    The failure state for The Dead Witness feels like nonsense, and tying a SC to a ritual feels weird. Could work for an incorporeal undead the party encounters though, with the ghost attacking if they can't properly dispose of its mortal remains and helping them if the party can do that.

    I'll put the Discovering Secret Lore into the "I want the resolution system to provide a definite end at some point" pile. Have the scenario end with the party confident they have information on the subject, and their rolls (presumably made in secret) determine its accuracy. Could be a grading system where more successes is better rather than a pass/fail scenario; not sure you'd count that as similar enough to an SC.

    Combat: I'll suggest a siege situation instead of a trap, where the party managing to manipulate the besiegers makes more of a difference. "I make a check to tip their ladder back over instead of making an attack," sort of thing, where a success stalls the attackers or forces them to withdraw temporarily. Even if the party is close to being overrun it might not look like that to the attackers, making them end the assault at the last moment.

    Anyway, now I've written out a bit more and organized my thought, I think SCs fit well in the following two main situations:
    1. There's one good thing the party is making progress toward, but missteps on the way work up to something else harmful occurring. The question is if the party can succeed before they fail.
    2. The party could be stuck making rolls indefinitely if you used an admittedly more realistic measure of success, and the SC ensures rising tension and a more definite end. Usually requires a fail state that's different than the situation the party was in before they did the SC.


    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I think in one of the versions of Basic they introduced a "roll under your ability score" mechanic to make ability checks, but I was more of a 1e player so I don't know if that would have been used on a regular basis in social encounters. I think as a rule in 0e and 1e, and maybe 2e, who had the highest charisma score would have been ignored by most groups in social encounters.
    After double-checking it appears that the "roll under your stat" resolution method was introduced in the Basic Set (I think the 1981 edition) and also appeared in the AD&D Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. Can't provide any comment on how commonly used it was, but that does indeed appear to have been the disconnect.

    Also, thank you for the general clarification on 1e play.
    Extended Signature, Woo! Latest Homebrew: The Oath of Oration.

    Spoiler: Previous Avatar
    Show

  27. - Top - End - #177
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    An implication may be that the player, after hearing how you would rule it, notes that this is weaker than an MBA and decides not to do it.
    And this is as it should be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcloure View Post
    As I see it, "Actions the Rules Don’t Cover" is meant for stuff that is so situational that you can't have a Power for it. The book examples pushing an ogre into a brazier while swinging from a chandelier, but it could also be for something like what happened in my table: the PCs rolling a column downhill, they trying to stop a cart with their hands, or attacking the support of a staircase. A repeatable action like bashing the heads of two creatures is much more like a Power, else if you allow anyone to do that, you should also allow anyone to say "I swing both my daggers to attack the ogre", which is a dedicated power.
    I thought I had posted the response below a couple of days ago, but it appears to have been lost to the ether. Kurald Galain has already covered some of this in a more pithy fashion, but I don't feel like re-writing it, so here is the original:

    Your example is not a great one. In the absence of a dedicated power, making what is effectively two attacks requires two actions. This can be accomplished over two rounds, or by using an action point, or by being a ranger with Twin Strike, or by being a fighter with Dual Strike, or by being a Scout, or by having the Sohei theme, or probably a bunch of other means which I am forgetting. It is not an action that the rules don't cover, because there is are several rules that covers it.

    But to reply to the thrust of your argument, IME improvised attacks are generally weaker than at-will or encounter powers. For example, trying to knock two heads together clearly requires both attacks to hit in order to do any damage; you are effectively taking a -5 penalty to hit in order to do not particularly high damage with (by default, if you read p. 42) no conditions attached to it; moreover, you have to have both hands free to do it. It scales terribly unless you are proficient with ki foci, and your DM considers it to be an implement attack, which probably means your character is a monk. It also requires you to be adjacent to two enemies who are adjacent to each other. It makes little sense as an attack you would spam. Rather, it is something you do in an emergency because you are unarmed, or possibly because you managed to sneak up behind the targets and have combat advantage.

    IME most improvised actions play out this way. Players choose to use maneuvers their characters have practiced and mastered because in most situations they are superior. And the DM has discretion over this, so it is easy to ensure that improvised attacks that can be used at-will are less attractive than at-will attacks.

  28. - Top - End - #178
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    I impression I got previously was that you believe there is something particular about SCs that makes the narrative playstyle unviable with them in particular, compared to other resolution methods that involve multiple rolls.
    I had said it was unavailable, but I have modified my stance to say it is much more difficult, and not well supported by the mechanic/format.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    As an example, the party learns there is an assassin at some fancy event. This creates one situation with two problems: the party needs to locate the assassin, but they also to avoid making a scene that gets them thrown out. And I can track their progress on each separately. I'll likely invent some reason the regular security at the event doesn't take the threat seriously (to explain why its the party that's doing this as much as why they'll get thrown out for making a scene). They can search the various locations at the event (kitchen preparing the food, main ballroom, powder rooms, smaller side rooms, balconies, ect.) and I'll list things people are doing in that area while the party members are searching. Potential suggestions I'd have prepared:
    • If the victim is known, warn them to get them to safety without causing a ruckus. Or finding a polite excuse to stay nearby and guard them.
    • Creating an embarrassing situation for a suspect so the PCs have an excuse to search their belongings. Or so the PCs can search the belongings for poison/weapons without embarrassing themselves.
    • Come up with a Shibboleth that the assassin is unlikely to know that clerics or nobles will (making a check to determine how effective it is) and then propose the guest perform an activity that involves it.
    • Sneak a bit of food intended to reach the suspect and test it for poison. The ritual might be an auto-success, but the PCs might need a roll to get access to the food (or to keep the intended victim from eating it while they check for poison)
    For several of these the relevant skill might depend on how the PC goes about doing it, and a lot could allow a second roll to ease the tension and negate a failure, but I hope the intent is clearer?
    But at this point, why are you running it as an SC? You have defined areas that can be searched. You have defined NPCs you can interact with. Why push it into the abstraction of a SC? Why limit your adjudication to a particular number of successes or failures, when you can just evaluate each action to determine whether and how much it moves the PCs toward their goals? Isn't the value of an SC that it allows the adjudication of a situation which is largely abstract and undefined?

    So if the PCs warn the intended victim, isn't the length of the challenge simply the time it takes to get him to the door unnoticed?

    And if they identify a shibboleth, don't they detect the assassin the first time they successfully get him to use it? Or if they search the assassin's stuff, and find assassin gear, and decide he is the assassin, well then isn't he detected? At which point the whole thing could become a combat encounter, depending on what the PCs decide to do at that point.

    If they intercept the poison, isn't the intended victim simply not poisoned? And if they don't intercept it, doesn't that mean he is poisoned?

    So yeah, this works well for narrative play, but it seems to me that does so by no longer being really suitable for a skill challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    Alternatively, the first time I tried running a chase I said the PCs were 60 feet away from their pursuers and had the initiative. My intent was that a PC who manages to put 100 feet between themselves and the pursuers (after the pursuer's actions in the same round) would get away and if the pursuers caught up they'd get caught. To increase the distance I had the party members come up with rolls that would either get onto or over obstacles or create rough terrain behind them. This dragged on longer than I intended when the pursuers repeatedly cycled closer and further from one PC, neither falling behind by 100 feet nor catching up. "You need three successes to get away and are captured if you fail three times first," would work a lot better at (a) creating more tension as the margins between escape and capture close and (b) the encounter has a point where it will definitely end after the next roll.
    I am not really clear on who is deciding what the "obstacles or rough terrain" are. Are you declaring that an obstacle exists, and the players are telling you have they try to overcome it? Or is the player deciding what the obstacle is and suggesting their course of action, and you are choosing the skill?


    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    To the examples, I think my example of crossing a river upthread was that the party was being chased. Just a general "find a method of crossing this obstacle" seems like you're just counting how many resources the party uses to get past the named obstacle. So I don't see how formatting the resolution via an SC would... make sense.

    If I were trying to shoehorn one into overland travel, I'd set it up that there one place (or type of place) the party wants to reach and some sort of place they want to avoid, and a failure for the skill challenge results in them ending up in the bad place (running back into whichever creatures the party was escaping from when it got lost, for example). Otherwise I probably wouldn't make crossing a physical barrier a skill challenge, just a series of skill checks where failing the check loses you resources but still gets you across the obstacle (which resources presumably depending on what the party tries). Or if you're stricter than I am, they lose resources until they succeed at getting across; my point is more that I'm not clear what the failure state is for an SC where the scenario is just "there's a river you need to get across."
    I think you are misunderstanding my intent. The physical barrier isn't a skill challenge, the physical barrier is the equivalent of one roll in a skill challenge.

    Having read through your examples, I'm still not sure how you are running these SCs. I don't understand what words you use when you are setting up a SC for your players, or what words you use (if any) to identify obstacles. I don't even know if you are identifying the obstacles, or if the players are inventing obstacles based on your abstracted description of the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    1. There's one good thing the party is making progress toward, but missteps on the way work up to something else harmful occurring. The question is if the party can succeed before they fail.
    2. The party could be stuck making rolls indefinitely if you used an admittedly more realistic measure of success, and the SC ensures rising tension and a more definite end. Usually requires a fail state that's different than the situation the party was in before they did the SC.
    Re: #2, I don't understand why the party would be stuck making rolls indefinitely. PCs can do something, or they can't, or they have a chance of doing it. If they have a chance of doing it, they succeed or they don't. Where does spamming rolls indefinitely come into the equation?

  29. - Top - End - #179
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
     
    LibraryOgre's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Antonio, Texas
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I have not been following the thread closely, so forgive me if it's been brought up, but:

    With regards to Skill Challenges, something I did in Amazing Tales was the rule that you could not use the same skill twice in a row (in a skill challenge, it would be "cannot use the same skill twice").

    So, if we were trying to find an ancient tomb, I might start with History to try to figure out where it is on the map. Someone else might say "Hey, I know some guys at the local university; I'm going to lean on someone (Intimidate) to get that information." Religion or Arcana might be used to figure out where it would be based on doctrine or astronomy, etc.

    But the trick would be that, once I used History, I can't use history again, and no one else can, either.

    At low complexity tasks, this might not matter so much... everyone contributes their skills, and while it might be a stretch to include Acrobatics in your "find information about an ancient temple" task, that method keeps it from "Everyone 'best-skills' the test into submission", and require more variety.
    The Cranky Gamer
    *It isn't realism, it's verisimilitude; the appearance of truth within the framework of the game.
    *Picard management tip: Debate honestly. The goal is to arrive at the truth, not at your preconception.
    *Two Tales of Tellene, available from DriveThruFiction
    *The One Deck Engine: Gaming on a budget
    Written by Me on DriveThru RPG
    If you need me to address a thread as a moderator, include a link.

  30. - Top - End - #180
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Chiming in with what might be a unique take on SCs (apologies if I missed it being brought up earlier in the thread):

    I've always viewed WotC's intent with skill challenges as being to create a different kind of encounter, one that you defeat with skills and not fighting. I don't think they did that well at all. What I have tried a couple of times is to define an encounter with "enemies" in the form of physical obstacles, hazards, social conventions, opposing interests, etc.
    • Rather than HP, each enemy in this kind of encounter has a Complexity and a Difficulty: a number and DC of successful skill checks that must be made to defeat it. It also has a list of suggested (but not required) skill checks that would count as a success.
    • Each enemy might also have rules about skill checks that automatically fail, or have other effects, or how it interacts with the other enemies in the encounter.
    • In practice, though, the GM should be open to any skill check that plausibly contributes towards defeating the enemy within the fiction of the game, and should allow for relevant player abilities to count as one or more automatic successes.
    • Even if a particular skill can't plausibly contribute directly, the GM should be open to ideas that support skills that do (such as using a plant growth spell to make a wall easier to climb, etc.).
    • The encounter takes place in rounds representing about 1 minute each; during each round the players discuss what to do and each can make one skill check, in whatever order they decide on.


    So an example of this in practice might look something like this:

    The players want to steal something that's kept at the top of a tower. They can gain access to the grounds outside the tower during a public party thrown by the owner of the estate.

    Goals:
    • The Treasure: Cannot be taken until either The Door to the Tower or The Tower Walls are defeated.

    Enemies:
    • The Door to the Tower: Complexity 1, Difficulty 25, Suggested Skills are Subterfuge (pick the lock) and Strength (bash it down). If bashed down, see Guards.
    • The Tower Walls: Complexity 3 (the same player must make all three checks), Difficulty 15, Suggested Skills are Athletics (climb the tower) and Acrobatics (cross to the tower on a line of pennants strung from another building nearby). See Watching Crowd.
    • The Guard Captain: Complexity 1, Difficulty 15, Suggested Skills are Deception (Flirt) or Warfare (Engage in a work-related discussion). Intimidate and Persuasion checks automatically fail and might trigger Guards; the Captain is brave and fanatically loyal. Until defeated, anyone attempting skill checks against The Door to the Tower or The Tower Walls must also make a Difficulty 15 Stealth check. If they fail, see Guards.
    • Watching Crowd: Complexity 3, Difficulty 15, Suggested Skills are Deception (create a diversion), Intimidation (get their attention by being scary) or Persuasion (get their attention by being interesting). Until defeated, increases the Difficulty of Stealth checks against The Guard Captain by 5.

    Failure:
    • Guards: If players bash down The Door to the Tower or fail a Stealth check against the Watching Crowd, the Guards arrive in 1d4 + 1 rounds and combat begins if anyone is still inside or climbing the tower.


    It worked well when I've tried it, and from the GM's viewpoint I think that having this kind of loose structure is a nice compromise between completely free-form roleplay and the purely mechanical approach of WotC's SCs.
    Last edited by kieza; 2022-12-09 at 02:49 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •