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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    If you weren't specialized in <skill>, you had no real chance of making an on-level skill check. And if you were specialized, below-level skill checks were trivialized. This meant
    This often meant in practice that players would roll their highest skill and make up a vague justification for why this skill would be appropriate to the situation. This way, you do have bounded accuracy (as every PC has more-or-less the same chance of success at everything) but at a substantial cost to world building.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    This often meant in practice that players would roll their highest skill and make up a vague justification for why this skill would be appropriate to the situation. This way, you do have bounded accuracy (as every PC has more-or-less the same chance of success at everything) but at a substantial cost to world building.
    That's not bounded accuracy. That's the opposite of bounded accuracy. Bounded accuracy means that the target numbers don't necessarily grow with level, not that the chance of success for on-level effects stays constant. Because with bounded accuracy, "on level" doesn't mean very much. Bounded accuracy means that the set of "acceptable challenges[1]" grows over time, where in 4e it's static (on-level means X% chance of success, level - 2 or more = trivial, level + 2 means impossible). Except 4e's system was fallible--if you didn't specialize (by picking up the right pieces at the right levels), you were just useless everywhere and couldn't contribute to anything meaningful.</pet-peeve>

    You could have the same effect by just saying that you get a "do skill thing" button. No labels, just "push button to do skill things" with free-form description. Which is in keeping with the rest of 4e's strong fluff/crunch distinction. And with lots less jank.

    [1] things that are neither trivial nor impossible
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2022-11-07 at 12:27 PM.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I really don't think you can create generalized rules, at least if you want to have any kind of level of detail/granularity. There's just way too many possible (and incompatible) situations.
    I have been learning this the hard way, making my own base system and play testing. It’s difficult to find a balance with detail.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    with bounded accuracy, "on level" doesn't mean very much. Bounded accuracy means that the set of "acceptable challenges[1]" grows over time, where in 4e it's static (on-level means X% chance of success, level - 2 or more = trivial, level + 2 means impossible).
    I don't think your math is accurate on either of these. But that's probably a topic for another thread.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I've spent a probably unhealthy amount of time thinking about roleplaying systems and "fixes" and "overhauls" of various Dungeons and Dragons editions. And the more I do, the more I find myself admiring things I remember from 4e and thinking that a hypothetical 4.5e could have been really, really good. But it's been a long, long time since I read anything from 4e, much less played it, and I also remember finding a lot of things about it frustrating at the time.

    So, uh... what am I getting wrong? My rapidly-self-destructing brain insists that:
    LIST OF THINGS GROD THOUGHT WORKED/COULD HAVE WORKED IN 4e
    My retrospective take-away on 4e after trying to play 5e is the PHB layout matters.
    I seriously got into the hobby early in 4e and as a new player, I found the 4e books rather uninspiring for coming up with a character with a personality that connected to the game world.

    I'd previously looked at some stuff around the time Eberron came out in 3.5 but never played and was more inspired by the 3.5 era's artwork and sidebars that I was by 4e PHB. I felt the same way when, years later, I was looking through the 5e PHB prior to trying to play it for the first time.

    What I discovered was that it took playing 5e to really appreciate 4e's PHB.
    I like 5e's class and race intro paragraphs better than 4e's as well as it's bonds, flaws, and subclass system. BUT trying to look something up in 5e's PHB during play is so much harder than in 4e's. I like having powers organized so you don't have to keep flipping between multiple parts of the book.

    To me, 4e's PHB is a during play how-to manual. What you need during play is right there, well organized and color coded (though could have been better indexed), with minimal fuss to get in the way when you need to look something up right away.
    What 4e PHB wasn't, was fun to read outside of play- I followed a two year 4e campaign with a nearly three year Changeling: The Lost campaign. The nWOD books, like 3.5/5e books, are interesting to look at and read parts of outside of the game to daydream about the setting and the imaginary people, but when trying to look something up or to understand how something works without reading a column and a half, forget it.

    My ideal gaming manual would include the setting/character building inspiration I get from nWOD and the 3.5 Draconomicon or even 5e's PHB coupled with 4e's PHB's ease of use layout.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'm curious if we, as the playground, can make rules that meet those goals without requiring the DM (as you mentioned earlier) "to figure out problems with possible approaches ahead of time that are 1 check each".
    Like I mentioned earlier, set it up like a combat encounter:




    Goals
    Skill Challenges break scenes down into smaller objectives called Goals, just as a combat scene uses multiple independent monsters. A simple challenge might only have a single Goal, such as “escape the fire.” A more complex challenge, on the other hand, can have many: patch the holes in the side of the boat, rig the sails for a storm, rescue the sailors swept overboard, and steer around the reefs. Think of Goals as monsters in a combat scene—you have to defeat them all to succeed, or there will be consequences.

    Reaching a Goal probably requires more than a single check, just as monsters usually take more than one attack roll to defeat. Instead, the whole party will need to work together, with each successful attempt making steady progress at achieving the Goal.

    Each Goal has an associated DC, just like a normal ability check. When a player attempts to reach it, they must make an ability check— if they fail, they make no progress. Ultimately reaching a Goal requires a certain number of successful checks be made, a value referred to as the Goal’s Target.

    There should be multiple paths to achieving a goal. Dungeon Masters should allow players to use any sort of ability or skill that makes sense in context, rather than specifying that, say, “only Charisma (Persuasion) checks will work here.”

    Dangers
    Skill Challenges exist to bring excitement and tension to the game; without some sort of risk, the whole thing ultimately devolves to “roll this die until I say you’re done.” And so, each Goal has an associated Danger—a consequence that triggers every round it remains unresolved. Possible Dangers include…
    • Damage. There are plenty of situations where failing to act results in direct harm to the players, such as lost hit points, negative conditions, or even a level of exhaustion, if the situation is truly dire. Players should be allowed to make a defensive ability check, with success resulting in half damage or a less serious condition. The DC of such a check is the same as the goal’s normal DC.
    • Disadvantage. Failing to resist a danger such as high winds or choking smoke might result in a character suffering disadvantage on their checks in the next round, or even losing their chance to interact with the hazard altogether. As with Damage, players should get a chance to resist the effect.
    • Forced Movement. Not every challenge will take place in an arena where physical position matters, but in those
    • Ticking Clocks. Many challenges have a time limit—rescue the sailors before they drown, escape the building before the roof caves in, reach civilization before you run out of rations, and so on. In cases like this, the Danger merely advances the countdown by one. They’re a useful too, but be cautious. In isolation, time limits are boring. There’s no back-and-forth, no twists, no strategy, just “roll the same check five times and hope for the best.” Always pair clocks with at least one active danger.


    Goals “act” in turn order, just like characters do, as though they had rolled Initiative results equal to their DC. On their “turn,” their associated Danger triggers, and players will have to deal with falling debris, storm-tossed lightning, or another tick of an inexorable countdown.

    Example Skill Challenge
    A villain has set the Stuttering Pony Inn ablaze to cover their tracks, and several customers are still trapped inside!

    Goal DC Target Danger
    Rescue the Three Trapped Victims 15 3 Roll a d6. On a roll of 5 or 6, one of the victims dies from smoke and fire. Reduce the target by 1.
    Pull down the burning thatch 10 1 All characters within 30ft of the inn, or on the top floor, take 1d6 fire damage.
    Seal the cellar before the liquor ignites 10 2 Clock—in six rounds, fire will reach the booze and cause an explosion, dealing 10d6 to anyone inside and 5d6 to onlookers within 20ft.
    Extinguish the Flames 10 5 All characters inside the inn take 2d6 fire damage
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2022-11-07 at 01:04 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Like I mentioned earlier, set it up like a combat encounter:
    That's pretty good, but how does it deal with actions that aren't skills (such as using items, spells, or class special abilities)?
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Except that 4e also had
    - Bear lore making a hash out of the world
    - nothing like bounded accuracy--in fact, it had the opposite. If you weren't specialized in <skill>, you had no real chance of making an on-level skill check.
    Honestly nobody's saying their bear lore **** wasn't stupid as all get out. It just wasn't the basic skill system numbers, it was an implementation of them. People do the same thing in 5e, making knowing higher cr monsters harder dcs and giving more info for higher rolls.

    I think you and I have different interpretations of what "bounded accuracy" means. I really don't care about the specific numbers, just that the bounds are always supposed to be within the d20 range. Effectively the same result as your "the numbers never change and stay on the d20". 4e was entirely intended to have that same functionality, being at its base the old stat+prof+half level vs base difficulty+half level. There were just some extra +2s you could pick up from race and similar, plus your stats went up more, that could add up to cause issues. The intent was the same, just the implementation was 4e. Now, not having the stat+prof was a bad idea to roll, but that's true in 5e with your +0 vs dc 15 average task too. Sticking a +half level mod on both sides of the equation changes nothing.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Honestly nobody's saying their bear lore **** wasn't stupid as all get out. It just wasn't the basic skill system numbers, it was an implementation of them. People do the same thing in 5e, making knowing higher cr monsters harder dcs and giving more info for higher rolls.

    I think you and I have different interpretations of what "bounded accuracy" means. I really don't care about the specific numbers, just that the bounds are always supposed to be within the d20 range. Effectively the same result as your "the numbers never change and stay on the d20". 4e was entirely intended to have that same functionality, being at its base the old stat+prof+half level vs base difficulty+half level. There were just some extra +2s you could pick up from race and similar, plus your stats went up more, that could add up to cause issues. The intent was the same, just the implementation was 4e. Now, not having the stat+prof was a bad idea to roll, but that's true in 5e with your +0 vs dc 15 average task too. Sticking a +half level mod on both sides of the equation changes nothing.
    Bounded accuracy, as used by its creators, was exactly that the system could assume that target numbers didn't scale much with level. So that a level 1 character could succeed (hit, pass the save, or succeed at the ability check) and a level 20 character could fail. 4e's system assumed just the opposite--that a character of level X could succeed at things in range [X-N, X+N], with not being able to meaningfully fail at x < X - N and not being able to meaningfully succeed at x > X + N. Thus, the scope of acceptable challenges moved with the characters. Whereas in 5e, being able to succeed at challenges is more about durability and damage output (for combat); that non-combat challenges shouldn't be leveled at all. So the range of acceptable combat encounters increases over time, with lower-power combatants still posing a challenge in numbers and higher-power combatants being beatable with good tactics, planning, and yes, luck. Instead of having to rebuild the lower-power monsters as minions (ie higher-power combatants artificially limited in HP) and having higher-power enemies being hard walls because you just can't hit them. And for non-combat things, a low-level 4e party can't even attempt the higher-level stuff--it's just hard walled off because 20+mod < DC. And can't meaningfully fail at the lower-level stuff (given specialization), because 1 + mod > DC. That's categorically different than 5e, where you can run an entire 1-20 campaign only using 10, 15, and 20 DCs. And can hit DC 20 at level 1 and can fail (often) at DC 10 checks at 20 (unless you're specialized in that one thing).
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That's pretty good, but how does it deal with actions that aren't skills (such as using items, spells, or class
    The fairest way to handle it is probably just to give a bonus based on how often the feature can be used. It's pretty abstract, but it kind of would have to be if you don't want the GM to have to adjudicate every individual ability.




    Skill Challenges and Class Features
    At this point, you might be wondering how spells play into things. And since there’s no reason that spellcasters should have all the fun, what about class features? Surely a Monk’s ability to dash up walls or a Wizard’s divination spell should have some sort of bonus?

    Indeed they should—relevant spells and abilities can certainly be used to justify adding your proficiency bonus to an ability check that you might not have otherwise been proficient in. More importantly, they can provide a bonus to an ability check. When using a relevant feature, you gain a bonus on your d20 roll as shown on the chart below.

    Ability Type Bonus
    Abilities useable an unlimited number of times +1
    Abilities usable more than two times per short rest +1d4
    Abilities usable two times or less per short rest +1d6
    Abilities usable more than two times per long rest +1d6
    Abilities usable two times or less per long rest +1d8
    Cantrips +1
    Spells of 1st and 2nd level +1d4
    Spells of 3rd through 5th level +1d6
    Spells of 6th level or higher +1d8



    (For what it's worth, this is just me reposting stuff I worked on a while ago while writing my Grimoire. Original thread on skill challenge stuff: https://forums.giantitp.com/showthread.php?619028-Skill-Challenges-for-5th-Edition)
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2022-11-07 at 02:39 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Bounded accuracy, as used by its creators, was exactly that the system could assume that target numbers didn't scale much with level. So that a level 1 character could succeed (hit, pass the save, or succeed at the ability check) and a level 20 character could fail. 4e's system assumed just the opposite--that a character of level X could succeed at things in range [X-N, X+N], with not being able to meaningfully fail at x < X - N and not being able to meaningfully succeed at x > X + N. Thus, the scope of acceptable challenges moved with the characters.
    Parties with appreciable level differences are one of those things you don't really see in practice. A look at the first pages for 3.x/5e/the general roleplaying forum shows nothing about building a character of a different level from the general party and I'd be surprised to see someone pulling up one remotely current, so I'm not going to think that cross-tier parties are really a relevant concern.

    The heart of the idea behind BA is that you don't have situations where one party member cannot succeed while another cannot fail, because the bonuses outweigh the dice by that much. Whether or not a character on the cusp of divine ascension can trivialize tasks designed for a character just out on their first rat hunting adventure is a lot less germane. What's important is their ability in level appropriate encounters, especially when compared to a PC who chose to focus on that area.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I've spent a probably unhealthy amount of time thinking about roleplaying systems and "fixes" and "overhauls" of various Dungeons and Dragons editions. And the more I do, the more I find myself admiring things I remember from 4e and thinking that a hypothetical 4.5e could have been really, really good. But it's been a long, long time since I read anything from 4e, much less played it, and I also remember finding a lot of things about it frustrating at the time.

    So, uh... what am I getting wrong? My rapidly-self-destructing brain insists that:
    • The basic framework of Powers was great. The specific powers usually wound up being bland and hyperfixated on combat, but it meant that every character was getting options at every level. That most of the design work was going into active abilities, not passive class features. That you could easily compare apples to oranges, that you didn't have to repeat basic rules about targeting and partial effects over and over again, that you had a template for easily creating any sort of new magic item or weird ability and slotting it neatly into place alongside the others... you could have used a bit more variability between classes in the distribution of At-Will/Encounter/Daily options and a hell of a lot more (read: any) noncombat abilities, but still.
    • Skill challenges! They didn't quite work and were all too easy to reduce to just rolling dice over and over again, but they were a step towards more nuanced interaction rules that 5e took a sharp turn away from.
    • Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies were more than a way to differentiate characters--they were an "excuse" for bigger, better, and weirder abilities at higher levels. People may gripe about the basic Fighter getting superhuman strength, but not so much when he's getting that strength because he's descended from giants, or has a trademark magic item, or covered himself with runes, or... you get the idea. If half your powers come from your class and half from your Race/PP/ED, you wind up with a huge variety of character options.
    • The tightly bound system math is honestly good--predictable numbers make it way easier to improvise and homebrew things.
    • The obsession with forced movement and area effects in combat meant that battles naturally encouraged dynamic positioning, without demanding that the GM constantly come up with new ways to keep the combat from devolving into two sides standing still and hacking at each other.
    • Keywords make abilities easier to read, and reduce the potential of weird broken edge cases.
    I'm playing in a 4e campaign at the moment. So here's my insights for what they're worth:

    Powers: I like the concept of powers; the implementation in 4e is lacking to my mind.
    - Formatting is okay, though I think something more in between 4e and 5e would be just about the sweet spot.
    - There are too many of them!
    - I actually think the game could have done without daily powers. Perhaps something more in between 4e and 5e again would hit a sweet spot, with different classes having different resource methods for accessing powers ("power slots" versus point pools versus Superiority Dice or what-have-you). (Here I have to say one implementation I really like is the way 4e handles psionic classes.)

    I don't think it's terrible that they don't usually have a noncombat focus, since you'd run into the problem of combat and noncombat features competing for the same resource. I think later releases provided more nonmagical noncombat features to use alongside rituals?

    Feats: Too many of them, and too many of them are garbage with a few "feat taxes".

    Combat: We play on a VTT with all the bells and whistles - everyone uses power macros, Roll20 condition tracking, etc. It's a lot of fun if you like the in-depth tactical play (which I do). But I think it'd be just about unmanageable live, especially getting into paragon+ level play.

    Magic Items: Same problem as feats.

    System Math: I like the consistent system math, but there are just too many numbers to crunch, especially once conditional numbers start flying around (+2 for flanking, +2 for the cleric's lance of faith, -2 for cover).

    Keywords: Are fantastic.

    Short Short Rests and Healing Surges: As a way of managing daily attrition, I have to say I vastly prefer the 4e 5-minute short rest and healing surges over the 5e 1-hour short rest and Hit Dice. The magnitude of healing surges and the action economy of in-combat healing also means that you can play the in-combat healing game while still actively contributing to ending the combat by defeating the enemy.

    Noncombat: In play it doesn't feel much different than 5e, although I'm sure from the DM side the skill challenge structure feels really restrictive.

    Monsters: I haven't DMed yet so I couldn't say how it feels to run monsters in play, but at least reading the monsters is a cinch, and if you use the MM3 and post-MM3 it's my understanding that the maths are better. The combination of monster roles, with set expectations of how they can be used in an encounter, including how different types of monsters work together, a stat block that is fully functional in itself, and little flourishes or powers that distinguish different types of monster from each other, is to my mind a very solid design paradigm. Little wonder that 5e not only mostly aped the formatting of 4e monsters in the original MM but is also slyly trending back towards 4e monster design writ large.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    The fairest way to handle it is probably just to give a bonus based on how often the feature can be used. It's pretty abstract, but it kind of would have to be if you don't want the GM to have to adjudicate every individual ability.
    Ok, that's a hard pass for me. It uses nicer wording than the 4E books, but has all the same problems that are mentioned earlier in this thread.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Composer99 View Post
    Monsters: I haven't DMed yet so I couldn't say how it feels to run monsters in play, but at least reading the monsters is a cinch
    Your post reminded me of an issue I had after the first few months of playing. Because of the whole "refluffing" paradigm, there's not much of a relation between how a monster is described and what its mechanics are (except for a few broad iconic groups, e.g. dwarves heal as minor action, dragons have a breath weapon). The result is that most of the time, the players don't really know (or care) what exactly they're fighting.

    On the other hand, the battlefield often matters, with nasty effects to stay away from and push monsters into. This is basically the opposite of 3E/PF, where the type of monster has a major impact on tactics, but the battlefield almost never makes a difference. Ideally we'd have a game that does both.

    I think later releases provided more nonmagical noncombat features to use alongside rituals?
    Not really. They released a mechanic that was exactly like rituals but labeled "not magic"; that didn't make a difference; and they quietly dropped it.

    Too many of them, and too many of them are garbage with a few "feat taxes".
    It's a major failing of 4E (and for that matter, PF2) that the overwhelming majority of feats and items are utter trash. And there are so many of them. I think it's because they're too narrow in the effects they can have; feats/items in 3E/PF can have much broader effects, and as a result they have a much larger percentage of usable ones.

    you can play the in-combat healing game while still actively contributing to ending the combat by defeating the enemy.
    Yep, that's a strong point.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Ok, that's a hard pass for me. It uses nicer wording than the 4E books, but has all the same problems that are mentioned earlier in this thread.
    ...yeah, I can see that.

    I don't know how much you can avoid something like that in 5e, is the thing. I probably went a bit too far trying to make sure martial characters could contribute equally, but... while there are abilities that can clearly solve a challenge in one shot (ie, casting Control Water on the pond behind the burning inn to instantly snuff out the fire) or translate very easily to a skill-check-based framework (ie, Action Surge lets you roll two checks on the same turn), there are going to be plenty where the impact is unclear. Like, having resistance to fire damage should be worth something when dealing with a burning building, but how much? If I cast Enlarge Person on myself to make clearing off the burning thatch easier, what impact does that have?

    I dunno. I guess you could point to a guideline like "if you're unsure, an ability might grant advantage, give the character an automatic success, or instantly accomplish the goal; when deciding, take into account how many resources the player is investing?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Parties with appreciable level differences are one of those things you don't really see in practice.
    Saw it multiple times a week for several years. I did have to put in a restriction early on that Tier 1 (1-4) and Tier 2 (5-10) required different groups, given the huge jump in power in 5e at level 5. But 5e handles characters within the same Tier just fine. It can even handle cross-Tier as long as the higher level characters don't mind carrying a bit more of the load. But they don't have to carry all of it.

    4e couldn't handle a party spread of more than about 3 total levels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I did have to put in a restriction early on that Tier 1 (1-4) and Tier 2 (5-10) required different groups, given the huge jump in power in 5e at level 5 ... 4e couldn't handle a party spread of more than about 3 total levels.
    So that's pretty much the same, then. And actually, the same as in 3E/PF as well. You can have a L6 and L9 in the same group just fine, but don't try L2 and L9, obviously.
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    Level disparity is uncommon in stable groups but it happens all the time in open table games and the like.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Parties with appreciable level differences are one of those things you don't really see in practice. A look at the first pages for 3.x/5e/the general roleplaying forum shows nothing about building a character of a different level from the general party and I'd be surprised to see someone pulling up one remotely current, so I'm not going to think that cross-tier parties are really a relevant concern.

    The heart of the idea behind BA is that you don't have situations where one party member cannot succeed while another cannot fail, because the bonuses outweigh the dice by that much. Whether or not a character on the cusp of divine ascension can trivialize tasks designed for a character just out on their first rat hunting adventure is a lot less germane. What's important is their ability in level appropriate encounters, especially when compared to a PC who chose to focus on that area.
    That's not what I meant (or what they meant by Bounded Accuracy).

    It's not about having characters with appreciable level differences. It's about challenges that have "levels" that are different from the party's level. In 3e, the aggregate CR of the encounter was compared to the APL of the party, where CR = APL was considered "Challenging". In 4e, the "acceptable" levels for encounters ranged from "CR"[1] = level + 2 to CR = level - 2, with anything outside that a very rare occurrence (the first being nearly impossible, the second being mostly trivial). Thus, both editions had a static relative range of "useful challenges". A party of APL X could be expected to almost always encounter things in range CR = [X - N, X + N]. Every time APL went up, challenges slid off the back and new ones joined at the front. Whether they were monsters (with well-defined CRs/levels in both editions) or non-combat challenges (where 4e had defined level -> DC mappings). Sure, you might encounter a level 1 locked door at 30th level in 4e...but it was presumed to be not a challenge. So the only things you actually brought on camera as an actual challenge were within a narrow range of APL.

    5e with bounded accuracy doesn't work like that. Instead, the set of useful challenges expands over time. Things fall off the back end much slower than they enter at the front--a level 20 party can be challenged by a bunch of CR 5-ish mooks. And a level 1 party will only find CR 20 monsters too much to handle because they can't deal enough damage to kill it before it kills them. Unlike 4e (in particular) where a level 1 party just won't hit (except on a crit) a level 30 monster. And the level 30 monster won't miss them except on a 1.

    The core of Bounded Accuracy is that the system does not assume that target numbers (AC and DCs, specifically) scale strongly with level. They can scale however they want, just not (strongly) with level.

    The original quote that introduced the term:
    Quote Originally Posted by emphasis added
    The basic premise behind the bounded accuracy system is simple: we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game that the player’s attack and spell accuracy, or their defenses, increase as a result of gaining levels. Instead, we represent the difference in characters of various levels primarily through their hit points, the amount of damage they deal, and the various new abilities they have gained. Characters can fight tougher monsters not because they can finally hit them, but because their damage is sufficient to take a significant chunk out of the monster’s hit points; likewise, the character can now stand up to a few hits from that monster without being killed easily, thanks to the character’s increased hit points. Furthermore, gaining levels grants the characters new capabilities, which go much farther toward making your character feel different than simple numerical increases.

    Now, note that I said that we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game about increased accuracy and defenses. This does not mean that the players do not gain bonuses to accuracy and defenses. It does mean, however, that we do not need to make sure that characters advance on a set schedule, and we can let each class advance at its own appropriate pace. Thus, wizards don’t have to gain a +10 bonus to weapon attack rolls just for reaching a higher level in order to keep participating; if wizards never gain an accuracy bonus, they can still contribute just fine to the ongoing play experience.

    This extends beyond simple attacks and damage. We also make the same assumptions about character ability modifiers and skill bonuses. Thus, our expected DCs do not scale automatically with level, and instead a DC is left to represent the fixed value of the difficulty of some task, not the difficulty of the task relative to level.
    [1] in another stupid move, they overloaded the word "level" even more, saying that monsters had levels and so did things like traps instead of using CR. I'm using CR here to standardize terminology.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    The solution to that strikes me as obvious: don't allow taking 10. In fact, IIRC "take 10" was never a part of the 4E rules in the first place.
    I have no idea why you would want to remove taking 10. It doesn't solve the problem of "Aaron cannot fail and Beth cannot succeed", because you can always just take 1, so you get there eventually. Having experts reliably succeed at sub-expert tasks is good, and the fact that Bounded Accuracy (as implemented in 5e) makes it hard to do that is a big reason it's not a good design choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    nothing like bounded accuracy--in fact, it had the opposite. If you weren't specialized in <skill>, you had no real chance of making an on-level skill check. And if you were specialized, below-level skill checks were trivialized. This meant that you had to carefully plan out as a party who was going to specialize in what, and then those people (and only those people) got to make checks using that skill. Which meant skill challenges didn't work unless you had a wide range of "levels" (DCs) involved or you contrived it to hit everyone's specialized skill. At which point you might as well just say "ok, each of you roll your highest skill. If more than X succeed, you succeed."
    A significant chunk of what you are describing here is good. If I, as a player, invest a bunch in Stealth and the result is that many Stealth challenges are easy for me, the game is working as intended. I have made a decision about my character (they are good at sneaking around) and the result is that I have an easy time solving challenges by sneaking around. Skill Challenges that require skills the players don't have should be hard, because otherwise what does it mean for the players to invest in skills? If you don't have a capability, you should have to work around the capability you don't have, not simply roll slightly higher.

    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    Martial classes get cool things like magical classes.
    I don't think 4e martials really got cooler things than 3e ToB martials. Conversely, 4e no one gets stuff as cool as the peak of what 3e casters got. I don't think 4e really batted much above replacement in this particular department.

    And lots of powers that are "lower-level power upgraded for high-level play."
    I think this is one of the things that can be laid at the feat of 4e stretching out the power progression so long. Twenty levels is really a lot of levels, and if you're smart about it you can fit all the progression you need in there.

    Maybe the designers just couldn't do math, but I read some convincing speculation early on that the reason PC attacks and defenses didn't increase as rapidly as monster attacks and defenses might be that the designers assumed at high levels PCs would have near-constant boosts from a leader-type character that made up for the difference, which...didn't necessarily happen.
    That's "couldn't do the math" too. Part of "the math" in a system of tightly defined numbers is making sure there aren't bonuses people can just not have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    It's a major failing of 4E (and for that matter, PF2) that the overwhelming majority of feats and items are utter trash. And there are so many of them. I think it's because they're too narrow in the effects they can have; feats/items in 3E/PF can have much broader effects, and as a result they have a much larger percentage of usable ones.
    Honestly it's all (even 3e/PF1) symptoms of the same problem: nobody agrees what a feat is supposed to be worth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I dunno. I guess you could point to a guideline like "if you're unsure, an ability might grant advantage, give the character an automatic success, or instantly accomplish the goal; when deciding, take into account how many resources the player is investing?"
    You have to design it in. No one has any difficulty understanding how enlarge person interacts with the combat rules, because the combat rules and enlarge person tell you how they interact. You just have to do that in a way that extends to Skill Challenges. For a subsystem to work properly, it has to be integrated from the ground up (this, for the record, is why the idea of "infinite customization" is always to some degree a fugazi).

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    The core of Bounded Accuracy is that the system does not assume that target numbers (AC and DCs, specifically) scale strongly with level. They can scale however they want, just not (strongly) with level.
    That just sounds like an unleveled system with extra steps. Which, sure, that's a fine way to play, Shadowrun is a fine game. But the edifice of levels isn't worth anything if you aren't going to scale with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    So that's pretty much the same, then. And actually, the same as in 3E/PF as well. You can have a L6 and L9 in the same group just fine, but don't try L2 and L9, obviously.
    Not the same. Level 5 and 10 work fine in 5e. Level 11 and 16 work fine. Even Level 3 and level 9 can actually adventure together, the level 3 will just need to be treated like a Wizard and hide in the back using ranged attacks and eat up lots of healing words. But at least they can do something.

    Whereas 4e was more like be L5-L8, or L8-L10, or L11-L13, etc.

    The difference of automatically scaling level bonus in 4e vs proficiency bonus in 5e is very noticeable.

    Edit: and as PhoenixPhyre points out above, it's noticeable in terms of what challenges (and components of challenges, such as monsters) a same level party can handle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    * regularized system (especially monster) math? Great idea. Implementation was rough and often tended toward very interchangeable monsters
    Very much this.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    * Everyone on the same basic system of powers? Great idea, in principle. In practice, not so much.
    This created issues when we had a big range of skill in battle. One player has no concept of optimization. His numeracy is so limited that after 30 odd years of roleplaying and boardgames, he want aware of the probabilities of results on 2d6.
    Another has chronic illness so his tactics get worse when his health is poor.
    You want simple characters for such people. The rangers shoots 2 people per turn? Perfect, tell them what they can see, they roll the dice and we're done

    .
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    * Keywords? They can be great, but they actually add more loopholes. Or they homogenize everything.
    This is definitely a "poor execution" If you use keywords, you have to use it as a key word every time it appears, or indicate when it's general English and when its a keyword. And then use it consistantly. My vote for the worst of these is "move"
    Is that "My character starts in one place and ends in another, regardless of how"?
    Or "My character takes the move action to go from one place to another"?
    or ""My character walks, runs, crawls or in some other way, propels himself from one place to another, whether of his own choice or under some compulsion"?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    * skill challenges? The idea of "this isn't just one roll and done" is good, but the implementation sucked. It should have been a guideline for DMs to make engaging non-combat scenes, where each choice moves the narrative along and it's not just "roll lots of dice at the problem."
    Again, Very much this.
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    Thinking about SCs some more, I believe the fundamental issue is that it focuses too much on making skill checks instead of on the narrative.

    I'd say there should be five degrees of results based on what the player tries to do,
    • Standard: the player describes what he does, the DM asks for a skill roll based on that. To encourage players to experiment, a failed skill check counts as "neutral" (so not marking off a failure).
    • Irrelevant: the player does something that just doesn't affect the situation at hand. If he tries to shoehorn his best skill into every situation, that goes here. Or he can choose to pass his turn. Either way, nothing happens; no success, no failure. And it's really ok if players try something that doesn't work, just move on to the next player and they can try again next turn.
    • Bad idea: rarely, a player has an idea that's actively detrimental to their goals; and this counts as an automatic failure (getting one "fail" mark, not failing the entire encounter). E.g. Living Forgotten Realms counts intimidate as auto-fail in certain social encounters, and they have a point there. Since this is a team game, a player that tries something that directly goes against what another player just did can also get an automatic failure.
    • Good idea: sometimes, a player has such a good plan that it gives an automatic success mark. Having just the right spell available counts, but so does a sizeable cash bribe (where relevant), or maybe the player has paid attention to an NPC background and has just the right argument to make. Anyway, give the players their chance to shine; good ideas get a reward, and should not be downplayed as "yeah, nice idea but roll a skill check anyway".
    • Encounter-winner: this is actually pretty rare, but allow for the possibility that PCs do something that just wins the encounter instantly. Perhaps the DM misjudged something to be a challenge when it's actually not (e.g. the challenge is to cross a river but a PC has jut learned Teleport). That's ok, that happens sometimes. Just eat your loss and move on, and find something more challenging for the PCs next time.


    So yeah. Players can experiment, good ideas are an auto-success, just spamming your best skill is an auto-"nothing happens", and the deciding factor is player choice. I think this would be a good basis for SCs in any system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    This is exactly how I've felt about it for years. I hated the proliferation of subsystems and progression rates in 3.5e, and I loved that 4e made:
    • Martial classes get cool things like magical classes.
    • All powers work the same (attackers roll to hit).
    • Attacks, defenses, skills, etc. nominally improve at the same rate.


    But I feel like there were three massive, far-reaching flaws:
    • Having all classes get cool things (powers) doesn't mean they all have to get the same kind, or at the same rates.
    SNIP
    (bold emphasis added)

    Responding to kieza, but I'm hoping to hear from other people as well, as many people seem to want martials to have nice things (even if magnitude an ongoing debate) and at least some people don't love too many subsystems, which leaves me confused- what's so distasteful/irritating about the standardized AEDU system?

    Granted 4e did a lousy job defining what utility powers were and moved many, but not all, out of combat utility spells from other editions to ritual land, but what's wrong with AED on the same schedule?

    In my opinion it solves the following issues:
    • 5-minute adventuring day problem - even if someone spams all their dailies in the first encounter, they still have something better to do than plinking away with basic attacks/a light crossbow if the group doesn't/can't long rest.
    • The 5e issue of long rest vs. short rest characters, which seems to force the GM to follow the recommended number of encounters of expected difficulties if they want to even out the attrition/let the short rest characters have a chance to shine.
    • If level by level multiclassing is a thing, it would be easy swap a power of the same kind and same level without loosing functionality. (i.e. 3rd level encounter power of class A with a 3rd level encounter power of class B when you choose class B at level-up)
    • All classes get the same number of nice things, which evens the power disparity (aka Quadratic Wizard vs. Linear Fighter)
    • Arguably makes it easier to define what a quantized level means across multiple classes.

    Would a little bit of disguising AED be enough like what 4e did with psionics or does it have to be separate progressions with different recharge rates that are much, much harder to balance in anything other than a long dungeon crawl?

    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    • The math didn't work out as well as it was supposed to. Maybe the designers just couldn't do math, but I read some convincing speculation early on that the reason PC attacks and defenses didn't increase as rapidly as monster attacks and defenses might be that the designers assumed at high levels PCs would have near-constant boosts from a leader-type character that made up for the difference, which...didn't necessarily happen. When it did, the fiddly little bonuses were a pain to track, too.


    I have a system I've been writing for a while that started out as a 4e retroclone, and those are the major flaws I set out to avoid replicating.
    I'm also working on something that started out as a 4e retroclone where the big fix is not locking individual classes into single party roles and fixing the attack math.

    The attack math turns out to be pretty easy- a friend good with math and spreadsheets figured out that 4e monster defenses grew with level and 4e characters had the equivalent of 1/2 BAB, which was evidently supposed to be compensated for by a buffing leader and/or equipment. However, it turns out that if you give characters the equivalent of 3/4 BAB and use the inherent bonus system about halfway through a tier, you can keep the number needed on the dice roll to hit remarkably constant.

    Can move to the homebrew subforum if you want to talk about more details.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I'd say there should be five degrees of results based on what the player tries to do,
    Honestly, this just sounds like "count rounds, not failures" with some extra cruft that restricts what the system does. "This technique is risky, and might backfire if it fails" is a reasonable thing for a skill challenge system to do (imagine making an attempt to intimidate a prideful character, or starting a firebreak to deal with a wildfire). So is allowing individual skills to have high upside, while still being variable in their outcomes.

    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    what's so distasteful/irritating about the standardized AEDU system?
    It's too few subsystems. I think you can argue over how many subsystems there should be (I, personally, am a maximalist on this, but not everyone is), but I think "more than one" is a pretty reasonable answer. Forcing everyone into Daily powers (and to a degree Encounter powers) also tends to cause problems for verisimilitude. A sword technique you can do once per day is a hard sell, especially if that's supposed to be a "mundane" Fighter.

    5-minute adventuring day problem - even if someone spams all their dailies in the first encounter, they still have something better to do than plinking away with basic attacks/a light crossbow if the group doesn't/can't long rest.
    It doesn't solve this at all. The 5-minute adventuring day is a result of having Daily resources at all. Once you do that, incentives always point towards one fight a day. The fixes for it are "give everyone an encounter-based power system" and "encourage DMs to create adventures that are adaptive enough that resting for a day is a real cost".

    The 5e issue of long rest vs. short rest characters, which seems to force the GM to follow the recommended number of encounters of expected difficulties if they want to even out the attrition/let the short rest characters have a chance to shine.
    I would say that this is the wrong way of framing it. Having characters who perform differently with different encounter/adventure compositions is a good thing. Sometimes you will have players with different levels of skill, and it is to the benefit of DMs if they have levers (well-documented levers) that allow them to change which characters naturally perform better or worse.

    If level by level multiclassing is a thing, it would be easy swap a power of the same kind and same level without loosing functionality. (i.e. 3rd level encounter power of class A with a 3rd level encounter power of class B when you choose class B at level-up)
    This is just asking for a classless system. Which, sure, those have merits, but I think that's a no-go for D&D.

    All classes get the same number of nice things, which evens the power disparity (aka Quadratic Wizard vs. Linear Fighter)
    AEDU unification is not remotely required for this. You want Fighters to get nice things? Give them nice things. That's all you need to do, and that's the only way to solve it.

    does it have to be separate progressions with different recharge rates that are much, much harder to balance in anything other than a long dungeon crawl?
    Depends what you mean by "different recharge rates". Long Rest/Short Rest is hard to balance, but Drain/Spell Slots can be balanced at the level of a single encounter, and that scales up down and sideways however you want it to. The disadvantage is that you lose the decision-making around adventuring days and enemy responses, but I'm not sure how many DMs want to do the work to make that meaningful.

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    By far the biggest issue with AED was how rigid and obvious the combat flowchart presented as. Do you need the daily? Drop it first thing. Then burn your encounter powers because they’re better than at-will and you’ll get them all back. Then finally whittle away at stuff with the at-will. The most dynamic feature was the daily, though most were the sort of thing you launched ASAP if it was to have the biggest impact in a fight. Select few powers worked off of interesting conditionals or had other mechanics that broke from this usual pattern
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Honestly, this just sounds like "count rounds, not failures" with some extra cruft that restricts what the system does.
    Indeed. But people are looking for extra cruft that restricts what the system does (as opposed to freeforming it entirely, which is what I usually do myself).

    "This technique is risky, and might backfire if it fails" is a reasonable thing for a skill challenge system to do
    I agree. But as far as I've seen, every SC mechanic either has everything risky (adding failure marks on a failed skill checks, as in early 4E), or nothing is risky (as in late 4E).

    Come to think of it, in 3E/PF some skills have level-dependent DCs and some don't; but people (for some reason) insist that either everything must be level-dependent (as in 4E), or nothing must be level-dependent (as in 5E), whereas the mixture is actually better for world building.

    It doesn't solve this at all. The 5-minute adventuring day is a result of having Daily resources at all. Once you do that, incentives always point towards one fight a day.
    This matches my experience: the intended result is that if someone spams all their dailies in the first encounter, they still have encounter powers; but the actual result is that if someone spams all their dailies in the first encounter, they want an extended rest now.
    Likewise, the intended result is that if someone runs out of encounter powers, they at least still have at-wills (instead of basic attacks or crossbow plinking); but the actual result is that if someone runs out of encounter powers, they get bored and want the encounter to end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    By far the biggest issue with AED was how rigid and obvious the combat flowchart presented as. Do you need the daily? Drop it first thing. Then burn your encounter powers because they’re better than at-will and you’ll get them all back. Then finally whittle away at stuff with the at-will.
    That also matches my experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I would say that this is the wrong way of framing it. Having characters who perform differently with different encounter/adventure compositions is a good thing. Sometimes you will have players with different levels of skill, and it is to the benefit of DMs if they have levers (well-documented levers) that allow them to change which characters naturally perform better or worse.
    Could you elaborate further?
    This position seem incomprehensible to me, as it puts an impossible onus on the DM to tune the adventure in multiple incompatible ways simultaneously, and if the DM is less than skillful at this, it causes a massive appearance of favoritism, either from the DM or from the game itself.

    Depends what you mean by "different recharge rates". Long Rest/Short Rest is hard to balance, but Drain/Spell Slots can be balanced at the level of a single encounter, and that scales up down and sideways however you want it to. The disadvantage is that you lose the decision-making around adventuring days and enemy responses, but I'm not sure how many DMs want to do the work to make that meaningful.
    Again, I would appreciate more elaboration, as I really don't understand what you're trying to say here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    By far the biggest issue with AED was how rigid and obvious the combat flowchart presented as. Do you need the daily? Drop it first thing. Then burn your encounter powers because they’re better than at-will and you’ll get them all back. Then finally whittle away at stuff with the at-will. The most dynamic feature was the daily, though most were the sort of thing you launched ASAP if it was to have the biggest impact in a fight. Select few powers worked off of interesting conditionals or had other mechanics that broke from this usual pattern
    The system also had other problems that amplified these ones. You got, by default, two At-Will powers. That meant you had no real decision-making to do once you'd burned your Daily and Encounter powers, especially since most characters would end up with one At-Will better than the other. Plus, combat in 4e tended to run long, so you didn't have the chance to make a decision about which Encounter powers to use, just which order to use them in. People complain, and not unreasonably, about Rocket Launcher Tag in 3e, but at least it had the advantage of moving you along to a new fight with new enemies long before you got to the point where a fight felt like a drag.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Indeed. But people are looking for extra cruft that restricts what the system does (as opposed to freeforming it entirely, which is what I usually do myself).
    I think what people are looking for is an extensible system. And that means your core system should be as simple as possible. We don't try to make the rules for Hit Points or Saving Throws individually interesting, we make them simple, and then we provide ways to use those rules to create interesting combat encounters. That, IMO, is what Skill Challenges should look to do. Have a simple core framework, and provide things that can be used to create interesting encounters with that framework. If you want to make positioning interesting in combat, the best way to do it is by adding terrain features with interesting effects to specific encounters, not by introducing a bunch of "partially flanked" statuses.

    I agree. But as far as I've seen, every SC mechanic either has everything risky (adding failure marks on a failed skill checks, as in early 4E), or nothing is risky (as in late 4E).
    Oh, I won't defend 4e's specific mechanics for Skill Challenges. All the versions I've seen are bad, and they all miss the central change you need to align incentives (count rounds, not failures). But I think once you do that, a relatively simple core framework of "a skill challenge runs for a number of rounds, after those rounds count up successes and generate a result based on that" is all you need. I don't think you need specific guidance to the effect of "sometimes a player has an ability that bypasses a skill challenge", because I don't think that belongs at the level of skill challenges. Players might have abilities that bypass all sorts of things, sticking specific guidance into individual systems about it will just lead to duplication.

    Quote Originally Posted by falconflicker View Post
    This position seem incomprehensible to me, as it puts an impossible onus on the DM to tune the adventure in multiple incompatible ways simultaneously, and if the DM is less than skillful at this, it causes a massive appearance of favoritism, either from the DM or from the game itself.
    Again, I would appreciate more elaboration, as I really don't understand what you're trying to say here.
    I think I can answer both of these at once. Consider a very simple toy model of class balance. You've got a Wizard, who has spell slots. You've got a Warlock, who has invocations that are usable at-will. As a simplifying assumption, let's imagine that the only spell is fireball and the only invocation is Eldritch Blast, and they are both straightforward damage-dealing effects. Suppose the Wizards spell slots are daily abilities. Balancing is hard, because you have to make sure that characters have a certain number of combat rounds per day, and the natural incentive (which people will tend to follow, because D&D is cooperative) is to rest after spell slots are expended.

    But suppose instead that spell slots refresh after each encounter. And, to simplify things further, that fireball does 10 damage and Eldritch Blast 5. Now all you need to do to balance things is tune combats to last twice as long as the Wizard has spell slots. And that makes combat balanced whether the party has one encounter per day or forty. And it means that, if it turns out that the Wizard has managed to optimize his fireball up to 15 damage, the DM can restore the appearance of balance by designing encounters that take longer, so the Warlock can make up the extra damage with more EBs.

    And, yes, balancing an actual game is much more complicated than that. But the principles that it's good to have nobs that DMs can turn separately to effect the power of individual characters, and that it's easier to balance within an encounter than between encounters, are pretty general.
    Last edited by RandomPeasant; 2022-11-08 at 11:09 AM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I don't think you need specific guidance to the effect of "sometimes a player has an ability that bypasses a skill challenge", because I don't think that belongs at the level of skill challenges.
    I'd say this needs explicit mentioning, because I've had several DMs make rulings like "you can't use powers now, you're in a SC". I find the whole idea that there are different "game modes" and you cannot use options from "mode A" while you're in "mode B" to be very immersion breaking; and I don't think it belongs in an RPG.
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