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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    [*]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.
    The AEDU framework had a few issues.

    First, it was uniform.

    Second, optimal play often was based off of getting a set of abilities that comboed well together. Then using them in every fight.

    Third, the budget on the powers was bad enough that a relatively narrow subset of powers where good, and the rest not very. I'd see the same abilities over and over again.

    Forth, due to structure abilities ended up being overly similar. The structure of powers impacts what kind of abilities they can represent.

    Class features that are NOT power based can have a very different feel. Compare Druid's animal form in 4e to 5e.

    In 4e, it was a utility power. It interacted with certain other powers with keywords.

    In 5e, it was a mechanic. It interacted with other mechanics (spellcasting, HP) and attributes.

    You could in theory make a 4e power that did what 5e does, but the 4e power structure would work against you if you did.

    You can also see the difference between powers and feats in 4e. Feats that didn't create powers had a very different feel than feats the did. In 5e, because you aren't AEDU based classes, adding features that aren't powers instead of powers isn't working against the grain.

    Compare Improved Smite to stuff in 4e. It adds +1d8 radiant damage to melee weapon attacks; it is the kind of ability you wouldn't find in 4e. Instead, there might be a utility power that produces a stance with that effect, or an at-will power that adds radiant damage, or the like.

    4e also overrode all other mechanical subsystems with powers. Spells where just the name of arcane powers. In theory they could have keywords covering that kind of thing, but the only keywords that really worked in 4e where the damage types (and those where implicit in the damage type of the power, hence not requiring much editorial oversight).

    Attempts to use stuff like the "Invigorating" keyword honestly fell flat; keywords either had too big of a mechanical impact to be in the corner out of view of the power, or where irrelevant and forgotten.

    ...

    If you wanted to take the lessons learned from 5e and apply it to 4e, what I'd do is the following:

    * Return spells to being a thing. Spells can use a power-like format (in fact in 5e they do).

    * Add other "power like" things that *aren't* spells. Cleric abilities can be prayers. Make them different in some fundamental way from spells.

    The layouts/form of each of these should be distinct. Resist the urge to unify them.

    If you have 4 power sources (arcane, divine, primal and martial) in the game, each of the power source systems should be different mechanically.

    You can still use some kind of power budget for each class, but players who have only played one *should be* confused when they switch to another.

    [*]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.
    They where published without playtesting. It was really bad.

    Then they where iterated.

    Every version only worked if you took a group and either had them not understand the mechanics, OR asked them to not try to interact with the mechanics.

    The advice to DMs wasn't very good either.

    And they presumed, by design, that your ability to interact with the situation was based on skill checks, not powers. The lack of non-combat powers enhanced this.

    A serious rotation of it was needed in my opinion, where instead of Skill Challenges you talk about Situations.

    A Situation has Problems and Perils. Problems are barriers to overcome, and Perils are problems if things go wrong.

    This is a game of action, so generally Perils should happen if the players do nothing. We want to encourage action. Sometimes Situations are sleeping until players choose to interact with it; but once poked, they shouldn't be passive.

    As players seek to overcome a Situation, they can do it through a number of different ways. They can use their abilities to do it, they can attempt to use skills, etc. If the players come up with a plan that would clearly overcome a Problem, just eliminate it.

    In general, before you ask for a skill roll, you should ensure that what the player is trying to would be enough to overcome a Problem. This avoids rolls that mean nothing of consequence.

    Sometimes failing to overcome a Problem will trigger a Peril. Other times, not being fast enough will trigger a Peril.

    Now, insert some example Situations, and ways in which they aren't passive -- often this will involve timers.

    The point is this is aimed at fiction first, then at mechanics. It isn't a _skill_ challenge, it is a framework for a situation. Most of this is just rewording of the skill challenge rules with different keywords. But, frameworks matter.

    [*]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.
    Yes, they did good here.

    I've played with the idea of introducing this in 5e.

    The idea is that you have Power Sources. Each Power Source acts a bit like an attuned magic item that gains abilities as you invest in it.

    Power Sources have a max capacity. If you have a Power Source(5), your max level is 5, and you need another Power Source to gain more levels.

    All classes need such Power Sources; nobody becomes a level 20 wizard in 2 months by killing orcs.

    [*]The tightly bound system math is honestly good--predictable numbers make it way easier to improvise and homebrew things.
    5e's math is honestly tighter.

    4e's +1 per level made level dominate everything else to an insane degree. And when it failed to pan out, the math fell apart (compare skills vs defences, or even ATK modifiers without expertise, or high level PCs losing their magic gear).

    Monsters had a bit of this problem. They messed up the damage of players vs monster HPs past Heroic, which means you either had to optimize PCs to keep fights from extending really long or had boring snoozefests of a fight.

    While ATK/DEF and HP was kept under control, damage for PCs really wasn't. And the implicit optimization ran into serious problems if a player didn't optimize.

    The large number of customization points accumulated. A non-optimizing L 1 PC was 75% as good as an optimized one; by level 11, it was 50%, and by level 21, it was 25%. The game didn't do a good job of teaching you this, leading to a lot of very disappointed players in my actual play. And it wasn't just against PCs, it was against monsters as well.

    Your non-optimized level 1 barbarian felt beefy; the non-optimized level 13 felt like it was using a wiffle bat.

    [*]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.
    It broke theater of the mind completely.

    Exact tactical positioning mattered too much, and made combat slow down.

    [*]Keywords make abilities easier to read, and reduce the potential of weird broken edge cases.
    Oh god no, 4e keywords where a complete mess. Inconsistently applied, had impact from "zero" to "completely changes ability".

    It has the MtG problem as well -- a new splat book introduces a new keyword, and it interacts with other stuff in that splat book. And then ... well, the keyword dies of neglect. Invigorating is the classic example.

    The keywords with almost no mechanical hooks - Zones for example - where better.

    The "close burst 5, target 1 creature" bit was a hack to avoid "range 5" abilities provoking. It was confusing and rules-lawyery; nothing about the ability was actually a "burst", it was only a burst for meta-mechanical reasons.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    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.
    Sorry, that doesn't answer my question, because I think your abstraction is wrong in a way that changes the parameters. My big problem with it is the assumption that the knobs are independent, which they very much are not, and that everyone's structure will be different, which would only happen in the rarest cases.

    In your specific example, how do you tune encounter length without affecting anything else, like enemy damage output, health or number?

    If you just increase the number of enemies to lengthen the encounter, you're increasing the damage they do to you, favoring characters with powerful at-will abilities, more health/survivability and with more AOE.
    If you just increase the health of enemies to lengthen the encounter, you're still increasing the damage they do, again favoring characters with powerful at-will abilities and more health/survivability.
    If you do either of the above and reduce the damage to maintain a consistent rate of difficulty, then you're making the encounter less threatening, due to decreased damage.

    It's that dance that I'm trying to point out, as it takes a deft and experienced hand to be capable of (even in this simplified case) balancing all of the above on the fly to compensate for an under-performing character, when giving each class a similar amount of resources to use abilities that make their effective output similar over all time scales seems like game design that would make the DM's work easier in all cases.
    Last edited by falconflicker; 2022-11-08 at 11:50 AM.
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  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    This is exactly the incentive issue I was alluding to. I genuinely do not understand how a professional game designer approved that set of mechanics for that design goal. It's the closest thing I'm aware of to an objective failure in the subjective realm of game design, because they told us what they were trying to do and then did not do it.



    I actually think that's somewhat unfair, as you're looking at the basic engine and complaining that it doesn't have choices in it, when that's true of the basic engine of most parts of most games. If you strip it down to the very basics, combat is "roll attack, roll damage, see who falls over first", and that doesn't have any agency to it either. The problem was that, because the core of Skill Challenges didn't work, they spent all their time iterating on it instead of adding flourishes that could be used to make individual skill challenges more interesting.

    Suppose, for a moment, we had a "you roll for X rounds, then you count up the successes over those rounds" framework for skill challenges. What are some ways you can add complexity on top of that? An obvious one would be to add rounds of something else between skill challenge rounds. Maybe you are navigating a jungle, and you do a combat encounter between rounds of skill challenge, allowing you to decide how you prioritize your resources between those components. Another option would be to change the expected value of rolling specific skills. Maybe one skill counts for two successes, but can only be tried once. Maybe one skill counts for the normal +1 on success, but counts for -1 on failure. Or you could allow people to cash in limited resources for successes. Or you could give people abilities that interact with skill challenges directly. There's plenty of stuff you can add once the basic framework works.
    You think it’s fair to say that the devs failed by discouraging rolls, but not with… and here I struggle to say something that doesn’t also apply to the first part, like “the mechanics chosen”. “The iterative nature of the rolls”, perhaps?

    There’s a lot of ways I could try to explain my concerns… let me put it the silliest way. Let’s say that the challenge is “crossing a River”, from later in this thread.

    One character braves the River, and makes Athletics rolls; another drives the wagon, and makes Ride rolls. A third calms / encourages the horses, and makes Handle Animal rolls, while a forth prays to the River god, and makes Diplomacy rolls. The fifth just teleported across (along with lightening the wagon of excess goods that they teleported with them), and… makes Perception / Command rolls to oversee the process.

    In 4e, they all make the same number of rolls, and it’s simply adding up the successes and failures to determine whether crossing succeeded or failed. In 4e, you can figure that they all found excuses to roll the highest rolls they could. It starts with the system, and maybe gets translate back to the fiction.

    And, as far as I know, all the rolls are made at the same DC, the “crossing the River” DC. Even things like “lightening the load” don’t change the DC. But I may be mistaken.

    Whereas, in a different system, it might well start with the fiction (“You’re at a River you need to cross. What do you do?”), where every character attempts to make themselves useful (“I can swim, so I can scout ahead to find a good place to cross”) (or not - roleplaying a lazy or non-Determinator can take priority over pure Determinator optimization), and most actions working as modifiers to / advantage on / reduce frequency of / reduce consequences of failures on more important rolls.

    In 4e, if someone’s running an optimized Diplomancer with the highest skill bonus in the party (don’t know if that’s a 4e thing, but pretend the players are new, and only one of them optimized well or something), and they’ve convinced the GM to let “pray to the River spirit” be a valid action, we all know that they’re contributing the most, like they do in most every scene. Whereas, in many fictions, it may well be unknown if “pray to the River spirit” has any effect whatsoever.

    Does that help understand what I meant by that comment about disconnect from the fiction?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Here's what I think was meant, taken from my group's actual game. By 12th level we hsd a druid character with a +10 perception bonus over the next highest perception bonus in the party, and a rogue with a stealth bonus more than +10 over the next highest stealth bonus in the party.

    Since 4e's skills was basically 5e's skills & bounded accuracy, just with the +1/2 level on top, it has/had effectively all the same issues if the DM followed the suggested DC chart. Sure the description of the door you kicked in or the lock getting picked changed, but in practice since you never went back to repeat old tasks it was a Red Queen's Race... unless you hit on a few bonuses that stacked. 3e intended stacking bonuses and made efforts at keeping game play formed around that, 4e just assumed you were always on the d20 RNG.

    So we had a rogue for whom the take-10 option was equal to anyone else's nat-20 roll, and a druid with similar perception. The DM had problems with that. Especially with the stealth & perception numbers hard coded into the monsters. You can sort of do similar in 5e, because the monsters are all basically hard coded DCs to hit, but they did manage to reduce the number of stacking bonuses plus remove the player's option to take 10 and how generally useful the checks are.
    Here’s what I heard: there were numbers, and math, and those numbers and math did what they logically should, and that gave the GM problems.

    What were those problems? That’s what I don’t understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Though it's important to note that you can still have choice, it'll just have to manifest in ways other than "+2 attack."
    Yes, to be sure. You can have non-math choices. But my comment was “either the numbers are tight, or the numbers are mutable - pick one”.

    Technically, there’s arguably a bit of a spectrum, arguably it’s a false dichotomy. So “pick what range of numbers is valid, and stick to that”. 1d20+X to 1d20+X+Y is the valid range? Then make certain that nothing - no set of options, buffs, circumstances, etc - can ever change the math by more than Y.

    Now, I have a personal preference for Y to be at least 3 digits, where Superman punches Batman for orders of magnitude more damage than his mortal frame can withstand, where Quertus has no chance of using muggle means to solve a muggle investigation that has stumped Batman, etc, but, so long as one makes the fiction match, there’s no problem with making Y small to nonexistent.

    But it means that, at the fiction layer, there can’t be items that are better suited to tasks. Magic swords can’t be more likely to hit, lock picks don’t come in different qualities, armor can’t penalize swimming, binoculars don’t help you spot things, etc., otherwise, the math doesn’t “just work”. It’s a tough row to hoe, trying to make a fiction that works with “4e math”.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Was 4e really that much worse than, say, 5e in that regard? In both editions, noncombat interaction rules boil down to skill checks and a subset of utility spells-- 4e botched the execution in a lot of ways, but fixes are pretty easy to come up with.
    Truth be told, 5e might not be an RPG, either. I wouldn’t know, I’ve “never played it” (I played a 1-shot of something I was told was 5e, but my experiences didn’t match how others described 5e). So I don’t really care about 5e either way. I just have a running gag of saying “4e isn’t an RPG”, ever since I evaluated claims that 4e wasn’t D&D.

    But, sure: if I don’t have a button on my character sheet that says “pull rug out from under orcs, and use it to barricade the door to slow down reinforcements”, how much am I discouraged from taking that action in 4e vs 5e? How much is the GM encouraged to say, “c’mon, can’t you just push a button on your character sheets like everyone else?”?

    How strongly are we encouraged to think system first, to play the mechanics rather than the character? Not “how likely is it to succeed, or even be useful”, but “how onerous is it to adjudicate ‘outside the box’ actions chosen on the fly”? How suited to being an RPG are 4e and 5e?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    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.

    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.
    Nothing to add, just wanted to agree with these.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    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.
    Couldn’t agree more.

    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,
    • 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.
    Just gotta start by saying I disagree with “find something more challenging for the PCs next time”, as that’s indicative of a Challenge focus, GM-driven game - neither of which are something I care for.

    That said, I like what you’ve done. I’d expand it slightly: success or failure on a given roll could each be defined as one of these categories.

    Say we’re trying to cross a River / chasm. I could try to chop down a tree to span the distance. It might be the case that if I succeed, it’s an encounter winner, whereas if I fail, it’s irrelevant. Or the chasn could be so wide, it’s irrelevant if I succeed. Or the tree could be holding things together, and it’s a bad idea if I fail (or maybe even if I succeed).

    So I think I would expand that to mapping at a minimum both success and failure with those ratings.

    IMO, some actions can change what result a success or failure will have. For example, “tie on a rope” is a classic way to make climbing / swimming / jumping failures not be disastrous. “Praying to the River spirit” might have a similar effect… or might make them really angry when you then drop a tree on them.

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    What definition of RPG excludes 4E, but not 3.P?

    More on topic, I had a good time with 4E. Never got to higher tiers in my home games, which is where I believe the math starts to get wonky. But I saw some creative power usages, and generally had a good time for me and players. I’d love to see a Grod attempt on 4E. :)
    I have a LOT of Homebrew!

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  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    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
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That also matches my experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    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.
    So, how would we fix that? I mean, back before it became a running gag for me to say that 4e wasn’t an RPG, I was complaining that it felt “boring and samey” for not entirely dissimilar reasons.

    3e & earlier Wizards had dozens of daily powers. Everyone had access to a toolkit of at-will abilities like “trip” or “disarm” or “toss flask of oil”. 2e Clerics had a situational Encounter Power of “Turn Undead”; for 3e Clerics, it was X/day.

    So, blindly following this, one might think that adding lots more “daily” and “at will” powers, making “daily” powers into “X/day” powers, and making encounter powers niche, would be the solution. Yet Warblades and Crusaders were chock full of Encounter powers, and I’ve never heard people complain about them.

    So, what am I missing? Why does 4e seem so less interesting in comparison to other editions of D&D? What would it take to make a sufficient portion of rounds of 4e combat involve meaningful decisions, rather than being so boring that your turns are all pre-scripted? Why do previous editions not have this problem, despite trying so many different recipes? What did 4e do wrong? And how would one fix it?

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    What definition of RPG excludes 4E, but not 3.P?
    Mine, obviously. That, in an RPG, you play the character, rather than the system - and I’ve never heard anyone talk about playing 4e in any terms other than playing the system. In both system and mindset, it just isn’t conducive for taking and adjudication outside the box actions, for doing anything other than pressing pre-established buttons. Unlike 3e, and other RPGs I’ve played.

    4e is much better suited to being a war game than an RPG.

    Sure, it’s a spectrum, with “choose your own adventure” books sitting at the far end of “not an RPG”, but I draw the line of “how well the system facilitates choosing your actions by playing the character” vs how much it hinders that with 4e decidedly on the “not an RPG” side of that line. 3e has no such problems, as I’ve had players play just fine with (nearly*) 0 Knowledge of the rules, simply roleplaying their characters.

    * they knew it was turn-based, they had a HP bar - things they couldn’t help but notice from playing video games.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2022-11-08 at 03:39 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    You really find people don’t “Play the mechanics” of 3.5?
    Stuff like planning builds from level one, Magic marts, and all the weird mechanical stuff that’s stronger than thematic things?

    I don’t disagree that 4E is a better skirmish game than 3.5 was, but that doesn’t make it less of a roleplaying game.
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  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, what am I missing? Why does 4e seem so less interesting in comparison to other editions of D&D? What would it take to make a sufficient portion of rounds of 4e combat involve meaningful decisions, rather than being so boring that your turns are all pre-scripted?
    That's an intriguing question, and I'll tentatively say there's not enough situational abilities.

    Consider as an example the L3 fighter encounter power Dance of Steel, a weapon attack that immobilizes on a hit. This is better than your at-wills, and immobilizing works on (pretty much) everything, so every encounter you're going to try to immobilize precisely one enemy.

    Now consider the 3E/PF monk ability Stunning Fist. On the one hand, it has a number of uses per day; so you can use one in each fight, or save them all for a big fight, or some combination thereof. On the other hand, you'll frequently meet enemies that cannot be stunned, such as undead. Or sometimes you don't know, so you can either try it blindly and hope for the best, or wait for a knowledge check. So this leads to more variation: you don't just use the same move every combat.

    It's not hard to find other examples. Playing a fire blaster in 3E/PF, enemies with fire resistance are pretty common (and then there's Evasion, and then there's underwater combat), so you'd better have some backup abilities that aren't fire. But in 4E? Fire resistance is rare to the point where fire elementals don't even resist fire. Against fire resistance, your best option is to... use fire anyway, because for a fire-specced mage it's better than your other options. Likewise, if you're under water, just... use the same fire spells again. So again, the former leads to more variation.

    So yeah. Situational abilities lead to more diverse combats.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    But, sure: if I don’t have a button on my character sheet that says “pull rug out from under orcs, and use it to barricade the door to slow down reinforcements”, how much am I discouraged from taking that action in 4e vs 5e? How much is the GM encouraged to say, “c’mon, can’t you just push a button on your character sheets like everyone else?”?

    How strongly are we encouraged to think system first, to play the mechanics rather than the character? Not “how likely is it to succeed, or even be useful”, but “how onerous is it to adjudicate ‘outside the box’ actions chosen on the fly”? How suited to being an RPG are 4e and 5e?
    I mean... both cases would be some variation on "make a strength/athletics/whatever check." At least 4e had that table of level-appropriate improvised damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    More on topic, I had a good time with 4E. Never got to higher tiers in my home games, which is where I believe the math starts to get wonky. But I saw some creative power usages, and generally had a good time for me and players. I’d love to see a Grod attempt on 4E. :)
    Part of me does too, but I really don't need to sink a ton of time into a full-system rework that, like, three people will ever read I need a renaissance-style patron.

    That said, it would probably wind up looking something like my d20 Exalted adaptation, which I feel like I keep mentioning way too often but I can't help it I'm just so happy with how it turned out. Like I mentioned farther up-thread, despite having no 4e in its DNA did it did wind up hitting a lot of the good points being raised in this threat.
    • Basic framework of powers: This one I can't take any credit for, since Exalted has always defined a character mostly by their list of Charms. Everyone picks powers from big lists, which I'm pretty sure are heavily weighted towards noncombat stuff. There's not really a resource management element attached to them, though; I ditched spell points motes pretty early in the design. They're written more like traditional D&D spells or class features than 4e powers, though, and there's a hero-point type resource (Willpower) you can use to justify players using their Charms in weird ways.
    • Skill Challenges: I didn't include general skill challenge rules, which kind of feels like an oversight at this point, but there are systems in place for social influence and realm management.
    • Tightly bound numbers: The underlying engine is based on 3e Mutants and Masterminds, so your numbers at any given level must be within a certain range. It's partially obscured in M&M by the point-buy system, but I gave up and made your attack, damage, AC, toughness, and save bonuses depend only on your level essence and what kind of equipment you're using. Skill bonuses are allowed to go insane, but there are no external bonuses to combat numbers to deal with.
    • Movement: I like movement, so there are plenty of ways to knock people around, but without opportunity attacks or square-based ranges it's a lot looser than 4e.
    • Keywords: I used keywords on Charms to replace language like "make a new save at the end of each round," make interactions between effects easier to keep track of, that sort of thing.

    It wouldn't be hard to use the same framework for D&D, exactly, but you'd have to redo most (if not all) of the existing Charms.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    A few big notes for me:

    1) Healing Surges. Making healing a function of your maximum hit points, not just a number unrelated to the healed, was a big step.

    2) Ritual Magic. Decoupling magic use from class, and moving a lot of the utility magic to rituals was a big, helpful, step, IMO.

    3) Roles and Power Sources. Man, I loved how they looked at the roles and tried to match versions to power sources, and wish they'd just put out 12 classes in the first book, one for each. Fighter? Martial Defender. Warlord? Martial Leader. Rogue? Martial Striker. Ranger? Make them a martial controller. Make them archers who pin people to the ground, or stop them from moving. While two leaders might be very similar across power sources, the way the power sources used those traits could have been wonderful and unique.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    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.
    I think, on some level, that's a system design problem. 4e intentionally segregated Powers from Skill Challenges, which naturally suggest that these things should be separate, and as a DM you should tell players no when they try to use one in the other. If you had powers like an invisibility that boosted Stealth or an Action Surge that explicitly let you roll twice in Skill Challenges, "what can I get for cashing in control water" here would be much more likely to lead to "I think that just wins" or "a free success", rather than "you can't do that".

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Second, optimal play often was based off of getting a set of abilities that comboed well together. Then using them in every fight.
    I don't know that it's really fair to put that at the feat of AEDU. I struggle to think of a set of mechanics where "make sure your abilities work together" would be bad advice.

    The idea is that you have Power Sources. Each Power Source acts a bit like an attuned magic item that gains abilities as you invest in it.

    Power Sources have a max capacity. If you have a Power Source(5), your max level is 5, and you need another Power Source to gain more levels.

    All classes need such Power Sources; nobody becomes a level 20 wizard in 2 months by killing orcs.
    It sounds extremely confusing and at best marginally beneficial to layer this on top of a system that already has classes.

    It has the MtG problem as well -- a new splat book introduces a new keyword, and it interacts with other stuff in that splat book. And then ... well, the keyword dies of neglect. Invigorating is the classic example.
    MtG has a more nuanced view on this than you give credit for. In MtG terms you have "parasitic" mechanics (which interact only with themselves) and "modular" mechanics (which are capable of interacting with a wide variety of other things). An example of this in (3e) D&D terms would be the difference between adding a class like the Incarnate (which has a bunch of Incarnate-specific mechanics that can at best be grafted half-heartedly onto other characters) and adding a casting-progressing PrC like the Mindbender (which is backwards, forwards, and sideways compatible with classes ranging from the Sorcerer to the Dragonfire Adept).

    The "close burst 5, target 1 creature" bit was a hack to avoid "range 5" abilities provoking. It was confusing and rules-lawyery; nothing about the ability was actually a "burst", it was only a burst for meta-mechanical reasons.
    This strikes me as a result of not hammering out your mechanical framework well enough before sending things to print.

    Quote Originally Posted by falconflicker View Post
    It's that dance that I'm trying to point out, as it takes a deft and experienced hand to be capable of (even in this simplified case) balancing all of the above on the fly to compensate for an under-performing character, when giving each class a similar amount of resources to use abilities that make their effective output similar over all time scales seems like game design that would make the DM's work easier in all cases.
    I do not understand how you think that would address a situation where characters were imbalanced in practice. It is true that tuning things to balance the game ad hoc is difficult. But unless you expect to perfectly balance your game across all levels of player skill, you need a mechanism for DMs to tune things. Yes, some DMs won't use it. But that doesn't make not having the mechanism somehow better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    It starts with the system, and maybe gets translate back to the fiction.
    I reject the distinction you're making here. The character's capabilities are part of the fiction. Imagine you were confronted with the problem of crossing a river. Wouldn't you look for an approach that played to whatever strengths you happen to have?

    Whereas, in many fictions, it may well be unknown if “pray to the River spirit” has any effect whatsoever.
    But that can be true of many mechanics as well. Suppose the DM can't be persuaded to apply Diplomacy to the problem. What does the player do then? Alternatively, if you have a "fiction-focused" approach, what stops that player from convincing the DM that Diplomacy does work in the fiction?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, what am I missing? Why does 4e seem so less interesting in comparison to other editions of D&D?
    Individual 4e encounters outlast the number of interesting decisions players have to make. It's really that simple. The Warblade isn't boring in 3e because you aren't going to have enough combat rounds to run out your maneuvers. You can't run out your maneuvers because you have the ability (and it presents a fairly interesting tactical choice) that refreshes them. A 4e Warlord or Fighter or Ranger... is not like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Stuff like planning builds from level one, Magic marts, and all the weird mechanical stuff that’s stronger than thematic things?
    I think "your build is heavily scripted" is a really weird problem to have with 3e in comparison to 4e. Yeah, there's some scripting that goes on, especially in really highly optimized builds, but you have way more flexibility than anyone in 4e does.

    Magic marts strike me as something where people love to "play the fiction" rather than the mechanics. Every discussion of magic marts I've seen is full of people looking for excuses not to use the mechanics, or talking about games that don't follow the mechanics, or providing alternative mechanics that work better for their desired fiction.

    "weird mechanical stuff that’s stronger than thematic things" seems like textbook Stormwind Fallacy. The mechanics are a starting point for roleplaying, and I think again all the threads about Fighters show that people do not, in fact, purely follow mechanical incentives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Ranger? Make them a martial controller. Make them archers who pin people to the ground, or stop them from moving.
    Don't forget traps and snares

    And they could even have some nature magic. Entangle, Fog Cloud, Faerie Fire...
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I've toyed several times with the ideas of a retroclone 4e, but inevitably every single time I start putting concepts on paper it drifts more and more away from D&D 4e as a basis and instead starts looking like other systems entirely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    This strikes me as a result of not hammering out your mechanical framework well enough before sending things to print.
    Oh yes. "Spellcasting provokes an OA" is clear design. "Some spells provoke but others arbitrarily don't" is not.

    I reject the distinction you're making here. The character's capabilities are part of the fiction. Imagine you were confronted with the problem of crossing a river. Wouldn't you look for an approach that played to whatever strengths you happen to have?
    The problem is not so much "applying your strength", but players who always try to use their best skill for everything (because let's face it, that's mechanically speaking the optimal solution). Once you allow for refluffing skills, it becomes hard for the DM to justify why a skill cannot be refluffed to apply to every skill encounter.

    Individual 4e encounters outlast the number of interesting decisions players have to make. It's really that simple.
    Yes, but also, some character builds just don't have interesting decisions in combat. Where a wizard does have very varied encounter powers, for (say) a rogue build the tactics may boil down to "use the highest-level encounter power I have available". And that's not much of a decision, it's just following a simple script.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I do not understand how you think that would address a situation where characters were imbalanced in practice. It is true that tuning things to balance the game ad hoc is difficult. But unless you expect to perfectly balance your game across all levels of player skill, you need a mechanism for DMs to tune things. Yes, some DMs won't use it. But that doesn't make not having the mechanism somehow better.
    I think my problem is that, as far as I can tell, imbalance in practice could, with a solid foundation, be fixed by granting additional magic items or boons, but tuning the adventuring day would, only in rare cases, be capable of actually influencing the issue, and has more of a chance of accidentally making things worse for other characters, and starts the characters off on an uneven playing field, as some classes will be inherently more suited to the campaign at the moment, and if your campaign doesn't have room for major schedule shifts without seriously impacting the narrative, you have an inherent problem that wouldn't exist with classes all existing on basically the same schedule.

    TL;DR, classes with different schedules/outputs require DMs to balance them as the default assumption, while classes with the same schedules/outputs do not, and thus any active DM correction can be more precisely targeted to where they think the problem lies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    You really find people don’t “Play the mechanics” of 3.5?
    Sigh. Wrong question. Let me try again: a war game consists entirely of “inside the box”; an RPG has both “inside the box” and “outside the box” as valid options.

    So of course people can play inside the box in an RPG. In fact, IMO, in a good RPG, one can play all the core game loops entirely inside the box, should one so desire. The question is, how much does the game facilitate or hinder playing all the core gameplay loops entirely outside the box? Could you play 4e combat while never touching your AEDs? Could someone who only knows Iron Kingdoms roleplay their Iron Kingdoms character, tell you their actions from RP stance in ignorance of 4e rules, and you adjudicate that? Or (since I don’t know Iron Kingdoms), could you adjudicate for a player who never reads their sheet, who never touches their AEDs, and who only interacts narratively with the environment, pulling rugs and jamming doors and banging heads together and dropping bags of flour and setting things on fire?

    How much of a chore would that be? How much would it “break the game”?

    In 4e, all I’ve ever heard is “inside the box”, whereas I’ve seen 3e played all but exclusively outside the box.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I mean... both cases would be some variation on "make a strength/athletics/whatever check." At least 4e had that table of level-appropriate improvised damage.
    So, in your experience, 4e is better suited to adjudicate being played by roleplaying the character than 5e? That’s sad. I’d hoped RPGs were getting better at facilitating roleplaying, and 4e was just a black sheep anomaly.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I reject the distinction you're making here. The character's capabilities are part of the fiction. Imagine you were confronted with the problem of crossing a river. Wouldn't you look for an approach that played to whatever strengths you happen to have?
    … 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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That's an intriguing question, and I'll tentatively say there's not enough situational abilities.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Individual 4e encounters outlast the number of interesting decisions players have to make. It's really that simple.
    So, to make 4e interesting to play, we’d need to give PCs more abilities to choose from, including X/day uses, and ones that offer situational benefits?
    Last edited by Quertus; 2022-11-09 at 07:44 AM.

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    You absolutely can play 4e "outside the box". Out of combat that happens all the time as frequently as in other editions. In combat... You also can, but why would you? Requiring interaction with game mechanics for the best experience isn't a sin, nor is the ability to not interact with the mechanics a requirement of being a roleplaying game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by falconflicker View Post
    TL;DR, classes with different schedules/outputs require DMs to balance them as the default assumption, while classes with the same schedules/outputs do not, and thus any active DM correction can be more precisely targeted to where they think the problem lies.
    The default assumptions of the game should balance classes. Giving everyone the same outputs makes that easier, but it also makes all the classes the same, which sucks. That was one of the parts of 4e people hated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    … 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?
    Which includes approaches that play to your strengths. Your issue here is "the DM allows the player to fast talk them into using their best skill", which is not a problem unique to Skill Challenges. In fact, Skill Challenges make the problem less bad, as they supply the default assumption that specific skills should not be used in particular challenges.

    So, to make 4e interesting to play, we’d need to give PCs more abilities to choose from, including X/day uses, and ones that offer situational benefits?
    I think the primary thing I would look to do is reduce the number of combat rounds per encounter. More abilities helps too, but 4e fights drag more than they should.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Which includes approaches that play to your strengths. Your issue here is "the DM allows the player to fast talk them into using their best skill", which is not a problem unique to Skill Challenges.
    Indeed, but SCs make the problem worse, as SCs strongly encourage people to use their best skill always, and rulebooks and printed adventures strongly support the idea that everybody should be able to participate regardless of which skills they have trained.

    I think the primary thing I would look to do is reduce the number of combat rounds per encounter. More abilities helps too, but 4e fights drag more than they should.
    Oddly, 4E combat takes only very few rounds (3-4 rounds in heroic, less at paragon) but still take up a high amount of time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Indeed, but SCs make the problem worse, as SCs strongly encourage people to use their best skill always, and rulebooks and printed adventures strongly support the idea that everybody should be able to participate regardless of which skills they have trained.
    Worse compared to what? Using your best skill always makes you more likely to succeed, and so you are always more incentivized to do that, regardless of whether you are doing a "Skill Challenge" or simply rolling some number of skill checks. Insofar as there's a problem specific to Skill Challenges, it's the counting failures thing, but as far as it goes I consider the level where it encourages individual players to roll their best individual skill the least worrisome part of that. Lots of natural fixes there, ranging from "be serious about allowed skills" to "put skills at different DCs" to "cap rolls per skill" (though that last is a bit of a hack in my view).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, how would we fix that?

    ...

    So, what am I missing? Why does 4e seem so less interesting in comparison to other editions of D&D? What would it take to make a sufficient portion of rounds of 4e combat involve meaningful decisions, rather than being so boring that your turns are all pre-scripted? Why do previous editions not have this problem, despite trying so many different recipes? What did 4e do wrong? And how would one fix it?
    When it comes to combat and what AED failed to do it’s a marrying of options of variable throughput to any manner of structure that has incentives for not running your combat actions off a script.

    AED are definitely choices you can dish out each round, but there’s the clear priority for use. Most dailies are either single shot offensive abilities that will do the most good when used early, or effects with durations that you want to get the most out of and will also use early. Encounter abilities may be used in slightly different orders, but you are always going to dump them before getting to your at-wills because there’s generally few downsides to doing so as they are mostly just damage.

    ToB 3.5 (and path of war) characters have what are effectively Encounter powers. However they each have ways to refresh these maneuvers which are either entertainingly unique or obvious tempo breaks which require in the moment value judgments. Notably their at will options are not quite so far behind these ‘encounter’ options, so the maneuvers more truly express as options rather than a battle flowchart mandate.

    A Psion has enough potential for throughput that they can waste their power points, just like most other daily structured characters. Uncertainty over the course of the day will present what-ifs that moderate their PP usage, or otherwise serve them appropriate consequences for bad gambles. I am a big fan of using FOMO to drive daily resource conservation. Presenting a combination of limited time availability and more points of interest than the party can effectively engage with, the players budget their resources for the events that they value most. Greed invites them to spread it thin, things they deem more important tempt a narrower clustering of resources to better ensure success. Simply getting players to understand they may miss out on cool extra stuff because they went nuclear on two encounters will get them thinking “would no extra fiddly things cheer me up after we failed to do X? Could some risk in X be worth it if it means we can also do Y?”

    Rogues with their conditional sneak attack and varying frailty invite interaction with the battlefield and the arrangement of participants. Even if it’s the same question, the variety of answers to “how do I get sneak attack without getting myself eviscerated? Or if I can’t get it what else should I do?” does not necessarily invite monotony.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Worse compared to what?
    Worse compared to any system that does not allow arbitrarily refluffing any mechanic.

    It's the design philosophy. What happens when the mechanics contradict the fiction, for example you're trying to trip an ooze? In pretty much every RPG, fiction comes first; and the contradiction is resolved by not allowing you to trip an ooze. In 4E, the rules come first, you can trip an ooze just fine, and you just change the description to "yeah, I didn't really trip it but I did something unspecifiable that just so happens to have the same mechanics as having tripped the ooze". Or some players just skip the description part, that works too.

    This is how the system gets attacks described as "mental" that are mechanically "constitution vs fortitude"; the description doesn't have to be related to the mechanics. There are plenty of systems where you can find a handful of examples of mismatches, but 4E is (to my knowledge) the only RPG that embraces it as a design philosophy.

    And that works with skills too. If you want to use a skill for something the skill doesn't do (e.g. Religion to pray for help, Arcana to cast spells, History to perform any task the way it was traditionally done, etc) then in pretty much RPG, it just has no effect. In 4E, you just change the description and roll the skill anyway, as the system encourages refluffing like that. Now I'm sure some players will now exclaim "you can't do that, that's stupid!" but official printed adventures have plenty of examples like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Actana View Post
    nor is the ability to not interact with the mechanics a requirement of being a roleplaying game.
    It’s my definition of an RPG, of what distinguishes an RPG from a war game, created when I evaluated claims that 4e wasn’t D&D, concluded that it wasn’t an RPG, and was asked what I meant by that. Granted, it took me a long time to find a good way to express it.

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    In short, to be a roleplaying game, it should have “game” and “roleplaying”. “Roleplaying” is making decisions for the character, as the character. Not really terribly contentious stuff so far.

    Where people start responding with “?” is when I put “playing the character” (roleplaying) and “playing the system” (gaming) in opposition; and, more to the point, claim that the more the game incentivizes “playing the system”, and the more it discourages “playing the character” - or, more importantly, the harder it makes it comparatively, the less suited it is to be played by roleplaying, the less suited it is to being an RPG.

    My go to example is a “choose your own adventure” book. You’re fighting orcs in a small room, orc reinforcements are on the way. If you cast Fireball, turn to page 60; if you fight in melee, turn to page 111.

    In that scenario, if what’s in character is to cast Invisibility, or flee, or something other than those two options, I can no more do so than I can write more pages. You can’t answer “WWQD”, only “would you rather…”. It is impossible to move forward in a choose your own adventure book until you drop roleplaying and play the game.

    My metric for the suitability of a game to be played by roleplaying, my metric of how well a game qualifies as an RPG, is based on how much harder it is to evaluate character-driven actions than system-driven button presses.


    Anyway, that’s the background and history of my running gag that “4e isn’t an RPG”. And I don’t know what one would do to fix that, either.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2022-11-09 at 11:50 AM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    It’s my definition of an RPG, of what distinguishes an RPG from a war game, created when I evaluated claims that 4e wasn’t D&D, concluded that it wasn’t an RPG, and was asked what I meant by that. Granted, it took me a long time to find a good way to express it.

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    In short, to be a roleplaying game, it should have “game” and “roleplaying”. “Roleplaying” is making decisions for the character, as the character. Not really terribly contentious stuff so far.

    Where people start responding with “?” is when I put “playing the character” (roleplaying) and “playing the system” (gaming) in opposition; and, more to the point, claim that the more the game incentivizes “playing the system”, and the more it discourages “playing the character” - or, more importantly, the harder it makes it comparatively, the less suited it is to be played by roleplaying, the less suited it is to being an RPG.

    My go to example is a “choose your own adventure” book. You’re fighting orcs in a small room, orc reinforcements are on the way. If you cast Fireball, turn to page 60; if you fight in melee, turn to page 111.

    In that scenario, if what’s in character is to cast Invisibility, or flee, or something other than those two options, I can no more do so than I can write more pages. You can’t answer “WWQD”, only “would you rather…”. It is impossible to move forward in a choose your own adventure book until you drop roleplaying and play the game.

    My metric for the suitability of a game to be played by roleplaying, my metric of how well a game qualifies as an RPG, is based on how much harder it is to evaluate character-driven actions than system-driven button presses.


    Anyway, that’s the background and history of my running gag that “4e isn’t an RPG”. And I don’t know what one would do to fix that, either.
    You... can still do all that, though? Unless I'm misunderstanding your point terribly, 4e has exactly as much support as 3.5 for doing things outside the game rules, which is exactly zero, by definition. If anything, there's more support for it, since the game's default response for doing stuff outside the defined ruleset is "roll a skill you think is relevant, against a level-appropriate DC."

    Like, for someone playing a tier 5 bottom-feeder class like barbarian, how much do you actually lose in the move over to 4e, coming from 3.5? You can still basic attack and charge every turn, if you'd like, and no one is forcing you to push those scary Encounter Power buttons if you don't want to. Your tools for interacting with the world outside of combat, namely your skill list and not much else, are still basically intact, and still all work in basically the same way. A tier 1 full caster like Wizard loses a lot of their I-win buttons, of course, but tiering discourse would also imply that the existence of wizard isn't exactly desirable for the health of the game in the first place. So if 4e lacks the tools to support roleplaying, then neither does 3.5, because the fighter or barbarian is hardly worse off than they were before.

    My thought experiment, I guess, is if you were a barbarian player that never looked at their character sheet in any game of any edition, how long would it take before you noticed a difference in your own personal capabilities?
    Last edited by dgnslyr; 2022-11-09 at 01:59 PM.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I'd also point out that 3rd and 4th both fail at allowing something pretty basic, at least in combat.

    Poke out from behind cover.
    Launch an attack (whether that's a crossbow, bow, spell, sling, whatever).
    Step back behind cover.

    That's something that I personally can do-I could be behind a wall, duck out from it, throw a rock, and duck back behind it. I wouldn't be as accurate as an adventurer, yet I can do that! But neither 3rd nor 4th allows that in basic rules. 3rd edition requires a feat chain or something like Travel Devotion to manage it, and 4th edition would require a power that lets you move after attacking.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I'd also point out that 3rd and 4th both fail at allowing something pretty basic, at least in combat.

    Poke out from behind cover.
    Launch an attack (whether that's a crossbow, bow, spell, sling, whatever).
    Step back behind cover.

    That's something that I personally can do-I could be behind a wall, duck out from it, throw a rock, and duck back behind it. I wouldn't be as accurate as an adventurer, yet I can do that! But neither 3rd nor 4th allows that in basic rules. 3rd edition requires a feat chain or something like Travel Devotion to manage it, and 4th edition would require a power that lets you move after attacking.
    I'd put "movement is not an action and can be broken up" as one of the top 10 things that 5e did right. Not only is it smoother to run, it removes a lot of the "necessary workarounds" that 3e and 4e had to do to allow it. And the worst part about those workarounds is that they were optional--the difference between someone who could break up his overall movement with other actions and those that couldn't/didn't pick up the power/ability to is huge.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    And 5e makes "poke out behind cover, make an attack, duck behind cover" require enemies to expend possibly insane resources to respond to it.

    For example, suppose it is an enemy spellcaster. They have to ready a spell for you to poke out from cover. This spell is wasted if you don't do it on that turn.

    Similarly, for any archer, they have to not do anything besides ready to attack you. Depending on how flexible "ready" is this can be easily exploited.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I'd also point out that 3rd and 4th both fail at allowing something pretty basic, at least in combat.

    Poke out from behind cover.
    Launch an attack (whether that's a crossbow, bow, spell, sling, whatever).
    Step back behind cover.

    That's something that I personally can do-I could be behind a wall, duck out from it, throw a rock, and duck back behind it. I wouldn't be as accurate as an adventurer, yet I can do that! But neither 3rd nor 4th allows that in basic rules. 3rd edition requires a feat chain or something like Travel Devotion to manage it, and 4th edition would require a power that lets you move after attacking.
    Technically, you CAN shoot from cover without penalty in 4e, without even leaving it, if you stand behind an ally. Friendly units obstruct enemy attacks, but not friendly ones, so you can use a friendly Fighter as living cover against pesky goblin sharpshooters, and then ask them to kindly duck out of the way when you return fire.

    Besides that, movement and mobility are definitely considered an important part of tactics that can and should be solved through build choices. One extremely straightforward answer, for example, is the ranger's Fading Strike at-will power that lets them shift a couple squares after making the attack, and Rogues have a similar power as well. Of course, even free options aren't free, since it comes at the opportunity cost of using a different and possibly better power, but the option is still there. More generally, there are also utility powers to move and/or shift as a minor action, and those are naturally very powerful. But I do think it's a success of 4e that a strategy like stepping out, shooting, and stepping back into cover is both reasonably doable and also not trivially easy.
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post

    SNIP

    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.


    That also matches my experience.
    Responding to all the answers to my question regarding power usage order of operations together.

    Opening an encounter by spamming a daily wasn't something I really noticed in my small, local gaming group, so I'll trust your experience. In my experience, about half of us were too concerned that the next encounter might be the "big one" and horded dailies, so unless something was obviously the boss fight, we usually opened up with an at-will or encounter to get a read on the enemies' defenses/stats before wasting a daily.

    I will agree that encounters did tend to drag, partly due to play inexperience and partly due choices and positioning, but my understanding was MM1 was by far the worst for the HP bloat. I remember a hack from the MM1 days of double the enemy damage output and halve the HP to make for quicker more interesting combat encounters.

    I still don't get the "samey" argument. Yes, the powers presentation left everything looking similar on the surface (and I personally wish the fluff text hadn't seemed as divorced from the rules text), but my charisma paladin (defender) played differently than my wisdom cleric (leader, played (willingly) as healbot). It was cool the times when the GM forgot that the enemy was marked by the paladin and retributive pain rained from the sky. The roles, leader, defender, striker, controller, were what mattered the most in the different classes' play styles.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    You think it’s fair to say that the devs failed by discouraging rolls, but not with… and here I struggle to say something that doesn’t also apply to the first part, like “the mechanics chosen”. “The iterative nature of the rolls”, perhaps?

    There’s a lot of ways I could try to explain my concerns… let me put it the silliest way. Let’s say that the challenge is “crossing a River”, from later in this thread.

    One character braves the River, and makes Athletics rolls; another drives the wagon, and makes Ride rolls. A third calms / encourages the horses, and makes Handle Animal rolls, while a forth prays to the River god, and makes Diplomacy rolls. The fifth just teleported across (along with lightening the wagon of excess goods that they teleported with them), and… makes Perception / Command rolls to oversee the process.

    In 4e, they all make the same number of rolls, and it’s simply adding up the successes and failures to determine whether crossing succeeded or failed. In 4e, you can figure that they all found excuses to roll the highest rolls they could. It starts with the system, and maybe gets translate back to the fiction.
    This is a relatively common misconception about how 4e works. Basically...

    All D&D systems, including 4e, spell out some straightforward DCs for you. Do you want to cross a river as described above? Sure, go for it in 4e in basically the exact same way you'd do it in 3.5 or 5e, with static level-independent DCs.

    Then, in addition, 4e has the option that crossing the river is important to the narrative. The PCs don't just need to cross the river; they need to cross it fast. And if they don't, there are going to be some sort of consequences. They're chasing after an opponent who is escaping with a kidnapped noble and they'll get away, there's a rock slide about to crush them, a monster way out of their league is about to slaughter them all, etc...there's a variety of other things happening that day on some sort of timer, so if they do poorly, their strategic resources of healing surges or daily powers might get drained saving them. And those DCs will be level-dependent DCs, because this is in a sense a 'combat' and worth XP.

    One of the problems with the early adventures, especially the early LFR adventures, is the people writing them were working pre-DMG, and did stupid concepts such as every adventure had to have a skill challenge, when the writers weren't even 100% clear what the final version would be. But that's not how they actually work as described in DMG, or DMG2/Rules Compendium where the errata'd skill challenges to remove init and a couple of other things were changed.
    Last edited by MwaO; 2022-11-09 at 08:34 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    ToB 3.5 (and path of war) characters have what are effectively Encounter powers. However they each have ways to refresh these maneuvers which are either entertainingly unique or obvious tempo breaks which require in the moment value judgments. Notably their at will options are not quite so far behind these ‘encounter’ options, so the maneuvers more truly express as options rather than a battle flowchart mandate.
    You also have a pretty wide range of options to choose from in selecting those abilities, and can build characters that play in different ways by making different choices. A Warblade who focuses on Counters and Boosts plays differently than one who focuses on Strikes. It's not quite as deep as it could be, but even with just the one book, you get more ways of building a character than 4e classes do (especially at release).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Worse compared to any system that does not allow arbitrarily refluffing any mechanic.
    I fail to see how this is a Skill Challenge problem. I agree that arbitrary refluffing causes the problem you're describing, but it causes it whether the thing you're arbitrarily refluffing in is "a single skill check" or "a sequence of individual skill checks" or "a skill challenge".

    In pretty much every RPG, fiction comes first; and the contradiction is resolved by not allowing you to trip an ooze. In 4E, the rules come first, you can trip an ooze just fine, and you just change the description to "yeah, I didn't really trip it but I did something unspecifiable that just so happens to have the same mechanics as having tripped the ooze".
    How is this different from resolving the problem by naming the condition "daze" in the first place?

    If you want to use a skill for something the skill doesn't do (e.g. Religion to pray for help, Arcana to cast spells, History to perform any task the way it was traditionally done, etc) then in pretty much RPG, it just has no effect.
    But isn't that "playing the game, not the fiction"? If "Religion" covers "correct knowledge of the operation of religious rites", and you live in a world where correctly performing religious rites can achieve real effects, then shouldn't the fiction suggest that a sufficient Religion check could achieve a real effect? I do not think the distinction being made here is as strong or as well-defined as its defenders would suggest.

    Quote Originally Posted by dgnslyr View Post
    A tier 1 full caster like Wizard loses a lot of their I-win buttons, of course, but tiering discourse would also imply that the existence of wizard isn't exactly desirable for the health of the game in the first place.
    I would suggest that the tiering discourse is wrong, and 4e is the proof. The issue with 3e wasn't the Wizard having powerful abilities, it was the Barbarian not having them, and 4e "fixed" it in precisely the wrong way.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Poke out from behind cover.
    Launch an attack (whether that's a crossbow, bow, spell, sling, whatever).
    Step back behind cover.
    In 3e this is called "firing from cover". I find "I need to be able to move from behind a wall to in front of the wall and take a shot and move back within a single combat round" strikes me as an incredibly "playing the game" demand to make.

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