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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    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.
    I have to disagree with all of this. The reason early D&D games ran "out of the box" a lot is because they had no rules for adjudicating most things, so you resolved issues narratively using a question-and-answer technique until the players could posit an approach that either would automatically work, or would be resolved according to whatever random chance the DM decided to assign to it.

    Nothing has changed in 4e. You can still resolve actions narratively. Narrative resolution can still result in either automatic success, or a check against whatever DC a DM decides to assign. The only difference in the DM can also decide, depending on the player's approach, which of your skills grants appropriate modifiers to the roll.

    I know this because I have run a very old school game using 4e rules for at least 10 years. You don't have to change any rules to do this. I mean, I do have houserules, but they are not necessary to accomplish this result.

    As for combat, no, many AEDU powers are not intuitive and are not likely to be used by a player who isn't aware of them. But some kind of are, like Tide of Iron. And it is entirely possible to run a first level martial e-class character like a slayer, thief or scout by just having the player describe what they want to do narratively. Even unusual actions don't break anything, because the rules expressly contemplate these sorts of actions on p. 42 of the DMG. So go ahead, bang heads together or chuck a torch into a cloud of flour

    I think you mentioned earlier in the thread that you found combat boring. I can say I really don't have that problem, either as a player or as a DM. Positioning is so important, and there are so many methods for changing the positioning of you, your allies, and your enemies, that combat encounters never end up being static for me unless we end up stuck in a hallway. At a minimum, the optimal positioning changes every time a monster drops. We tend to run dynamic dungeons, so there is also the issue of preventing monsters from running for reinforcements, which can make things quite interesting.

    It does help to have larger battle maps than are usually present in published modules, but if you run on a VTT that really isn't a problem. I have also borrowed a trick from the 1e positioning rules, which allow PCs to fight three abreast in a 10' hallway, and have started making my hallways 3 squares wide.

    On a similar note:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That's an intriguing question, and I'll tentatively say there's not enough situational abilities.

    ...

    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.
    I don't get this problem either. You have express permission to modify stat blocks or create new creatures. It is nothing to add fire resistance to your fire elements, for example. I can say that all of my gelatinous cubes have the trait "Immune: prone", because proning oozes, let alone proning a cube, is stupid.

    Basically, I think the problem with 4e as it relates to these examples is one of presentation. It was presented in published modules as rigidly structured, so people assumed that to be the case. This was particularly stressed in organized play, because organized play has to be structured; but nobody pointed out that organized play is no way to run a home game.

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    My phone is about to die; apologies if this doesn’t make sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by dgnslyr View Post
    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."
    Huh. I don’t know whether to put this in the bin “misunderstanding your point terribly”, or both “understood me exactly” and “best argument for 4e being an RPG I’ve ever heard”. Given the earlier comment by the Giant, we may be seeing the end of an era, and I might have to drop my running gag.

    So… you are at least slightly in the “misaligned” bucket, as it’s not “support = 0”. “Support = 0” is… not irrelevant, but “at the wrong layer”? Like, “I asked for an object of type ‘girl’, you handed me an object of type ‘redhead’”.

    More precisely, I’m measuring the effort it takes to adjudicate “I activate my AED button” vs the effort it takes to evaluate, “I pull the rug out from under the orcs and jam it in the door”.

    And I guess I can see how, if you don’t have my standards, it sounds like 4e provides guidance, in terms of level-appropriate damage, and an admonition to make a skill check or something.

    But the problem is this notion of breaking the game; the real trick is not just making a random ruling, but making a ruling in accordance with the system paradigm.

    Like, for example, in a horror game, to meet my standards, any “outside the box” adjudication should support the horror feel of the game just as well as the existing rules.

    The issue is, look at how many people describe 4e actions: dull, boring, samey, predictable, d6+X damage plus rider effect.

    So, a successful “pull the rug” action… should require a ____ skill check against the orcs _____; success should deal d6+__ damage, and carry a rider of _____.

    Maybe I’m an idiot, and that really is about as easy for you to Madlib as adjudicating Burning Hands in 4e. It wasn’t for me (but I never actually wrote out the template like that) or anyone I knew. But, of course, that’s the wrong question.

    Maybe that’s no greater extra effort for you than the extra effort of adjudicating that in 3e vs adjudicating Burning Hands in 3e.

    That’s what’s being compared: the difference between two differences. You need *4* data points in order to say, “system X seems about as suited as system Y to be played as an RPG, according to this single data point”, and many more sets of 4 numbers to compare their overall suitability.


    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    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.
    Unless I’m mistaken, that’s simply a property of “turn-based combat”. Or, rather, of a standard implementation thereof.

    Now, sure, you could argue how difficult to adjudicate turn-based combat is compared to tick-based combat, or other such resolution methods. And even go so far as to discuss which makes the game more suited to being played as an RPG.

    But… specific action declarations that break turn-based assumptions? That’s pretty niche compared to a more general “outside the box”, no? Not irrelevant, but a drop in the ocean compared to general action adjudication, IME.

    (I do agree that there are “more realistic” implementations than “turn-based”; senility willing, maybe I’ll find and post my examples thereof)

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Unless I’m mistaken, that’s simply a property of “turn-based combat”. Or, rather, of a standard implementation thereof.

    Now, sure, you could argue how difficult to adjudicate turn-based combat is compared to tick-based combat, or other such resolution methods. And even go so far as to discuss which makes the game more suited to being played as an RPG.

    But… specific action declarations that break turn-based assumptions? That’s pretty niche compared to a more general “outside the box”, no? Not irrelevant, but a drop in the ocean compared to general action adjudication, IME.

    (I do agree that there are “more realistic” implementations than “turn-based”; senility willing, maybe I’ll find and post my examples thereof)
    No, it is an artifact of "you can do your main action on your turn in a spot different than where you end your turn".

    Usually, the goal of turn-based combat is to emulate continuous combat. The idea that your cannot do your main action of your turn (attack etc) in a spot that nobody else can easily react to is part of that emulation.

    Exit cover, attack, duck behind cover in turn-based combat is then emulated as either "exit cover, attack, end turn, attack, enter cover, end turn" or "exit cover, attack, end turn, enter cover, end turn". The key part is that the meat and potatoes of your turn (the attack)'s location is a place that others can react to on their turn without jumping through hoops mechanically.

    5e fails at this with "you can move between and after your attacks". You jump out from cover, attack, duck behind cover. On other creature's turns they do not have the opportunity to treat you as not having cover, because you only stayed there during your turn. They have to engage in exceptional and unusual mechanical things to pull off the natural "I shoot the person when they aren't behind cover".

    Now, a turn based game can handle this with various mechanisms; 5e, as I noted, does not.

    If you look at a tactical game like xcom (the old isometric ones at least) your troops almost always end their turn on overwatch -- combat happens reactively. Only troops protected (snipers) or scouts (who get surprised going around a corner) attack on their turn. This is in contrast to 5e, where off-turn actions are second class.

    Or, a game where weapon combat isn't an action -- you become engaged with foes (be it at range or in melee), and that fighting is resolved action-free. The mechanics of shooting isn't tied to an action occuring on your turn with a static snapshot of the world.

    Lots of mechanics are possible. My point is 5e doesn't have any of them, leading to that quirk.

    This quirk does *not* happen in 4e or 3e, both of whom are turn-based, so it clearly isn't an artifact of turn-based combat.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    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?
    I don't see how 4e supports this any less than 3.5, which is "not at all." In more positive terms, what does 3.5 do right to enable all this wild out-of-the-box thinking? Because I can't think of anything. If anything, 3.5 works against it, with a much larger and more granular skill list means characters have an even shorter list of general, open-ended competencies. But I always like hearing about peoples' experiences with 3.5, good or bad, and I'd be happy to hear yours.

    So far, though, the main takeaway I've gotten from you is that if the box is too fun, then no one will want to leave it, and yes, I agree! That's the whole point of paying for the box! If I wasn't interested in playing in the box, then I wouldn't have bought it, since playing outside the box is free. So all the crazy stunts you'd want to pull in 3.5 are just as possible in 4e; it's just that most people won't choose to take them most of the time, since pressing an AEDU button has a defined effect, while asking your DM to improvise is entirely at the DM's discretion.

    tl, dr: if you try to play 4e like 3.5, the worst that can happen is you succeed
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    5e fails at this with "you can move between and after your attacks". You jump out from cover, attack, duck behind cover. On other creature's turns they do not have the opportunity to treat you as not having cover, because you only stayed there during your turn. They have to engage in exceptional and unusual mechanical things to pull off the natural "I shoot the person when they aren't behind cover".
    Or to use the large obvious problematical example:
    Wizard, 15' behind party and around a corner, runs out in front of party, and casts a spell which if they cast it at their starting location, they would have blasted the party. Then they run back to their original location.

    Which yes, you can set up your reaction to shoot the Wizard when they do that. But there's no charge option by default in 5e, so it has to be a "I shoot the Wizard" or "I wait patiently by the front lines of the party, hoping the Wizard stands next to me when the Wizard can see me, so as to get an OA when they do that."

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    To be clear, this isn't "ah this makes 5e suck and unplayable". But it is a flaw in 5e's choice of movement model that 3e/4e didn't have, and 3e/4es choice wasn't arbitrary.

    All systems are going to have flaws, even if only "this is too complex". I much appreciate the ability to weave through foes and maneuver while doing your turn, for example. I think D&D could use more of it (mobility in combat); the risk is that it makes positioning useless.

    4es attempt to make positioning useful ended up making Defenders into glue-balls, needing special abilities to get out of the glue-ball (while rewarding those who did). That is a different kind of immobile combat.

    Other games have such mobility that the front line is just not really there -- you can't defend the back line. 5e is approaching this.

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    More precisely, I’m measuring the effort it takes to adjudicate “I activate my AED button” vs the effort it takes to evaluate, “I pull the rug out from under the orcs and jam it in the door”.
    I mean... in any rules-heavy game (ie, all modern editions* of D&D) it's going to be easier to adjudicate an ability that has pre-defined effects than an improvised one. That's what rules are for, generally speaking.

    Like, for example, in a horror game, to meet my standards, any “outside the box” adjudication should support the horror feel of the game just as well as the existing rules.
    I would argue that modern D&D* is just a fundamentally bad system for out-of-the-box maneuvers. At 1st level, shoving a goblin in a fire for 2d6 damage is a fine use for your (standard) action-- you're making a reasonable contribution to the fight, pushing it towards victory by a similar degree to stabbing someone. But by 10th level, enemies have ten or twenty times as many hit points while the fire is presumably still dealing 2d6, and the impact is essentially nil. You've wasted your turn and made things that much harder for your allies.

    (Having environmental effects deal a percentage of your hit points in damage, rather than an absolute value, would largely solve this, but would probably just lead to more arguments about what hit points represent)

    But at the same time, you can't make improvised actions too powerful, or else they start treading on the toes of abilities the players already picked for their characters. If the Barbarian spent a full ASI on a "mass trip" feat that lets them trip three targets at once, how do you think they're going to feel when the Rogue yanks on the carpet and knocks five guys to the floor in one swoop? If the Wizard needs a third level spell to blind a foe and the Fighter does the same thing by throwing some dirt in their eyes, you're upsetting all kinds of game balance and role protection systems.

    And I mean yeah, a good GM can thread the needle and make them work, but... compared to other systems? In Fate, "do something cool and influence the whole scene" is literally one of the four main actions (Create an Aspect). Mutants and Masterminds makes power stunts a core mechanic, with the checks and balances already baked in. Even something like Savage Worlds does a better job-- not only does it avoid the damage scaling issue, metagame resources like "bennies" gives you an easy and intuitive way to keep crazy stunts in check. (And as a bonus, GMs are more likely to approve an improvised action if they feel like the player is paying for it somehow.



    *3e, 4e, and 5e; I don't know enough about 2e or the various iterations of AD&D to comment on them.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2022-11-10 at 07:03 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Having recently played in a few games of 4e (read: an 8-session aborted campaign as a warden and a one-shot as a druid), running to level 5 at the highest, some of my thoughts about my experience + modifications my GM made during the course of play:

    Encounters: My GM rejiggered Monster HP/damage according to the Monster Manual 3 guidelines, which reduced health and increased damage by about 30% compared to previous books. This was very impactful- during the one-shot, she didn't have the time to prep this, and the combat was much, much more sluggish- people started to devolve into using At-Will/encounter powers for raw damage rather than for their effects.

    Skill checks in combat rarely came up, except to make Athletics/Acrobatics checks to climb during one encounter. We had a few cases where there were things we could have actively interacted with, but the more interesting encounters were those with geography that broke up the party (ex. widely separated enemies that caused us to split up to reach them, a large blocking pillar in the center of the map that split the group in half, areas of cover that we hid behind).

    We generally did not attempt actions not written in the rules (but that could have been justified in narrative). On the one time we did try something not covered by the rules, it was along the lines of using one of our combat powers in an unusual way (targeting an environmental object to collapse it, using an ice power on a faucet flooding the room to freeze it). Generally, something would need to be doing something active or otherwise have our attention called to it for us to 'notice' it.

    Powers: There are a number of daily powers that provide a benefit that lasts for the encounter- for a Warden, their transformation 'stance' powers, and for a Druid, zones. I have mixed feelings on these- they're very cool ways to create ongoing effects, but I didn't especially enjoy needing to take two similar zone powers on my Druid just to make my basic strategy (make hazardous zones, slide enemies around to keep them inside) work. Choosing which of the two to use was a good decision point, but one that only happened once per day.

    My encounter powers skewed towards being control tools (a mass-pull and long-ranged charge for warden, and Wind Wall and a one-round zone for druid) and felt good- I rarely felt that I was best-served spending them for raw damage, and was comfortable holding them for appropriate situations in a fight.

    I think the party striker hewed closest to the 'blow encounter powers at the start of the fight' model mentioned by others- the other players less so.

    Skill Challenges: These were somewhat abstracted. In general, we were presented with a general scenario (ex. 'there's an army fighting in the jungle against cultists, support them however') and the GM cycled through players one at a time until the whole party had acted for the 'round' of narrative. While the GM suggested some skills that would definitely be applicable, most players did not have those specific skills, so they had to justify how they were able to contribute with a skill they did have. The net effect was similar to a collaboratively described montage.

    If we had a power with applicable fluff (ex. my Warden's ice-storm power was used to create cloudy weather for cover with a Nature check), we could spend a use of it to gain a bonus to the skill roll- +2 for encounter / at-will powers, +5 for daily powers.

    Additionally, each player was given a bonus free skill starting from around session 4 of the campaign- one of the things we observed was that about 80% of players had roughly three freely choose-able skills, and took Athletics/Acrobatics for combat maneuverability, Perception on general principles, and a third, more defining skill. Adding the additional skill increased diversity by a massive amount.

    Upgrades (Feats/Items) These were painful, and a major contributor to mental load. Most feats and items fell into the following categories:
    -Required numerical upgrades (ex. Expertise feats that provide a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to attack rolls based on tier, magic items) that are boring to pick up, but numerically important. These could have been built into the expected numbers-per-level without any real change.
    -Conditional bonuses that add to mental load- combat advantage versus enemies who are slowed/immobilized, inflicting a condition on specific enemies, bonus on charge attacks. At one point, I asked my GM to stop giving me items with conditional damage bonuses (while bloodied), because it was getting to be too much to remember damage sources from all over my character sheet.

    I think feat design was negatively impacted by the model of each PC taking fifteen feats over 30 levels- individual feats end up low-impact for balance, but in aggregate, they balloon to a higher math load.
    Last edited by aimlessPolymath; 2022-11-10 at 08:27 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I mean... in any rules-heavy game (ie, all modern editions* of D&D) it's going to be easier to adjudicate an ability that has pre-defined effects than an improvised one. That's what rules are for, generally speaking.
    I would go so far as to say any game that provides rules for doing things will find following those rules to be easier to adjudicate than making things up.

    But by 10th level, enemies have ten or twenty times as many hit points while the fire is presumably still dealing 2d6, and the impact is essentially nil. You've wasted your turn and made things that much harder for your allies.
    Sure. But what if the impact of the fire had been a "distracted" condition that gave you a modest to-hit bonus? That would remain relevant for as long as your to-hit remained relatively close to enemy AC (and to be fair, this is not guaranteed, high-level 3e aimed for a paradigm where you hit easily and made up the difference with Power Attack). I think "give players a smallish bonus for describing a cool tactic, and default to allowing them to get that bonus" would go a long way towards satisfying the people who want of of the box thinking, and would have a relatively low balance impact.

    (Having environmental effects deal a percentage of your hit points in damage, rather than an absolute value, would largely solve this, but would probably just lead to more arguments about what hit points represent)
    Having more high-level environmental effects would probably be a good thing for the game. Obviously there's a limiting principle where introducing "ultra fire" after you've already had "fire" and "hell fire" and "dragon fire" becomes dumb, but moving towards more environmental effects seems easy to do on the margin and relatively rewarding.

    Quote Originally Posted by aimlessPolymath View Post
    I didn't especially enjoy needing to take two similar zone powers on my Druid just to make my basic strategy (make hazardous zones, slide enemies around to keep them inside) work. Choosing which of the two to use was a good decision point, but one that only happened once per day.
    This strikes me as a pretty concrete example of the weaknesses of a single resource management approach for the whole system. Different playstyles benefit from expending resources in different ways.

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by dgnslyr View Post
    I don't see how 4e supports this any less than 3.5, which is "not at all." In more positive terms, what does 3.5 do right to enable all this wild out-of-the-box thinking? Because I can't think of anything.

    So far, though, the main takeaway I've gotten from you is that if the box is too fun, then no one will want to leave it, and yes, I agree!
    It wasn’t about “fun”, but “comparative effort”. And I’m not sure any system is actually going to live on the positive side of the line - it’s probably just “how much does it hinder roleplaying?”.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I mean... in any rules-heavy game (ie, all modern editions* of D&D) it's going to be easier to adjudicate an ability that has pre-defined effects than an improvised one. That's what rules are for, generally speaking.
    Yeah, that’s one of the reasons my definition’s (probably/presumably) a failure. So I’ve made a new thread in case anyone wants to discuss it further, to not further clutter this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I would argue that modern D&D* is just a fundamentally bad system for out-of-the-box maneuvers. At 1st level, shoving a goblin in a fire for 2d6 damage is a fine use for your (standard) action-- you're making a reasonable contribution to the fight, pushing it towards victory by a similar degree to stabbing someone. But by 10th level, enemies have ten or twenty times as many hit points while the fire is presumably still dealing 2d6, and the impact is essentially nil. You've wasted your turn and made things that much harder for your allies.
    I’m fine with that. The fire is still easy to adjudicate, the character is just dumb for pushing a living rock the size of a skyscraper into the campfire, and expecting that to amount to anything next to the Monk who turned one to rubble with their bare hands, or the Diplomancer who showed another the true meaning of Christmas, and won its eternal loyalty to the party with a gift of earrings.

    I’m often the guy pushing the rock into the campfire, I just don’t expect it to be terribly meaningful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    (Having environmental effects deal a percentage of your hit points in damage, rather than an absolute value, would largely solve this, but would probably just lead to more arguments about what hit points represent)
    Yeah, if you don’t have a firm foundation there, you’re asking for trouble by changing it in just one place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    But at the same time, you can't make improvised actions too powerful, or else they start treading on the toes of abilities the players already picked for their characters. If the Barbarian spent a full ASI on a "mass trip" feat that lets them trip three targets at once, how do you think they're going to feel when the Rogue yanks on the carpet and knocks five guys to the floor in one swoop? If the Wizard needs a third level spell to blind a foe and the Fighter does the same thing by throwing some dirt in their eyes, you're upsetting all kinds of game balance and role protection systems.
    Absolutely. You’re deincentivized from “rule of cool” (especially the OP variety) by having baselines of “this is what people paid for”. That’s part of what makes the adjudication difficult: there’s (unspoken) rules.

    And that’s part of why I said my standards for adjudication were not a low bar, as I’m not a fan of “freebies” being better than (or even as good as, really) what people paid for.

    Still, sometimes, the campfire having the [fire] property, or the [was built on a leyline] property, or some such happens to make it logically better than anything anyone actually paid for. And that’s fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    And I mean yeah, a good GM can thread the needle and make them work, but... compared to other systems? In Fate, "do something cool and influence the whole scene" is literally one of the four main actions (Create an Aspect). Mutants and Masterminds makes power stunts a core mechanic, with the checks and balances already baked in. Even something like Savage Worlds does a better job-- not only does it avoid the damage scaling issue, metagame resources like "bennies" gives you an easy and intuitive way to keep crazy stunts in check. (And as a bonus, GMs are more likely to approve an improvised action if they feel like the player is paying for it somehow.
    Yup. Taken at face value, my metric says that those systems are much better suited to being RPGs. And I never noticed until… today? Yesterday? Sigh.

    Now I’ve got to ask myself two big questions: 1) are they more suited to being played as RPGs; 2) is this what 4e was “missing”?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    *3e, 4e, and 5e; I don't know enough about 2e or the various iterations of AD&D to comment on them.
    Earlier editions didn’t have unified mechanics - everything had its own table, its own mechanic. So whatever you/y’all felt stimulated the question at hand would fit in “seamlessly” with the system as written. I guess.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2022-11-10 at 09:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    (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?
    For me, it felt extremely forced. Here are two characters; one of them is a muscle guy who has trained to swing a sword around and the other has an inherent gift of magic. Despite the vast difference in what they do, both of them know two at-will powers, an encounter power, and a daily power.

    It also felt like it unnecessarily closed off some design space, especially since 4e took all the game-breaking magic from earlier editions and put it behind rituals. I admit it would have had to be carefully balanced, but "this subclass of warlock gains only half as many encounter powers, but they're twice as powerful" seems like it could be tweaked to balance out.

    It doesn't even need to be a huge difference in how the resources are allocated. Without going into too much detail: my retro-clone has two ranks of power, lesser and greater. All characters know the same number of powers and gain them at the same rate (excluding powers that are baked in as a class feature) and the powers themselves are of roughly equal power across classes, but martial characters can use more greater powers before resting, while arcane characters have ways to rapidly swap out which powers they know so that their powers are more applicable. Divine characters, which I'm reserving for a splatbook, can once per day perform a miracle, which is an unusually powerful greater power that depends on their class and god. Animist characters (also a splatbook) get a free multiclass feature for another animist class, and are required to choose at least one power that doesn't belong to their main class.

    So, each power source's resources differ in small but distinctive ways. As a bonus, grouping these variations on resources by power source helps to establish a shared identity: martial classes are enduring, arcane classes are flexible, divine classes go nova, etc.

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    I would have enjoyed seeing Encounter powers work more like Tome of Battle maneuvers, in that they have to be recovered once used--that would let you play around with recovery options to give different classes different feels. (ie, the Barbarian recovers a power when they kill or bloody a foe, the Fighter when a marked foe attacks someone else, etc)

    I remember working on something like that a long time ago, but I dunno what happened to the thread.
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2022-11-11 at 10:19 AM.

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    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'm not interessted in the Edition War, but I can't stand factual wrong statements.

    In 3e your ranged line of effect is determined by one corner of your space (drawing lines to all corners of the target's space). So yes, shooting out of cover is the norm in 3e. Check out PHB p. 150-151.
    Last edited by Zombimode; 2022-11-11 at 04:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zombimode View Post
    i'm not interessted in the edition war, but i can't stand factual wrong statements.

    In 3e your ranged line of effect is determined by one corner of your space (drawing lines to all corners of the target's space). So yes, shooting out of cover is the norm in 3e.
    I think 4e uses the same cover rules as 3.X as well? Although I haven't cross-referenced them to say for sure.

    Code:
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    But the issue, I think, is that Ranger R may have clear line of sight against Goblin G, but is totally obstructed against Hobgoblin H, and the movement rules don't let you step out of cover, shoot Hobgoblin H, and then step back in, at least by default. You can still solve it pretty easily in 4e by having an attack or minor action power that lets you move a square or two, but again it's a problem that you need to somehow solve, at some minor cost.
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    But that is not "poking out of cover". That is "steping out of cover". Sure, you might plan to return to cover at one point, but for a significant amount of time you're exposing yourself. I don't see an issue with that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    But that is not "poking out of cover". That is "steping out of cover". Sure, you might plan to return to cover at one point, but for a significant amount of time you're exposing yourself. I don't see an issue with that.
    And, as I said earlier, it strikes me as a fundamentally "the game" concern. 3e allows you to step out from behind a wall, take a shot, and step back behind the wall. It just puts the turn boundary between steps two and three by default. Once you've accepted the division of combat into discrete rounds, I have a really hard time seeing "the round cuts over in this place instead of that one" as fundamentally anti-fiction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    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.
    I think the intent is that the skill challenge has an intended level, and the DC for each check can be easy, moderate, or high based on what the PC says they are intending to try.
    Quote Originally Posted by DMG1, page 73
    If a player wants to use a skill you didn’t identify as a primary skill in the challenge, however, then the DC for using that secondary skill is usually moderate or hard. The use of the skill might win the day in unexpected ways, but the risk is greater as well.
    Now, that doesn't quite make internal sense with the description of skill challenges because the rules suggested choosing whether the challenge is easy, moderate, or hard before it says this, and which skill checks count as medium in the example cases provided seems a bit excessive. But there do appear to be three levers to modify the difficulty of the skill challenge:
    1. The Challenge's complexity.
    2. The effective level of the Challenge.
    3. Whether a particular skill check made is easy, moderate, or hard for the Challenge's level.

    I think lever 3 is intended to make it so that PCs can still end up with a higher chance of success when using a skill with a lower bonus: make the difficulty for something that obviously makes sense to try easy, and increase it to moderate or hard the most squirrely the player's idea is. So a PC that tries to pray to the river spirit to help the party because they've got +11 in Religion can still have a lower chance of success than if they looked around to identify a spot where the river is shallow enough to wade across for most of the way and take their chance with a Wisdom based skill instead.

    I do think that can also make some more sense with setting a skill challenge's level. by the difficulty of what was described. Crossing a river is probably a low level challenge, which increases in level for particularly wide or rapid rivers. Crossing floodwaters, a flowing avalanche, or a river of lava are then paragon or epic level challenges. Characters with a chance to manage the latter examples can likely automatically succeed a skill challenge to cross a regular river.

    I haven't read all (or even much) of the errata for 4e, so I do hope someone more familiar with that might be able to say if there's anything there to support or undermine this reading of the DMG 1. But the idea of a "crossing the river DC" does seem inaccurate to me. And a large chunk of the "4e isn't an RPG" argument seems to flow from the PCs automatically trying to make a check with the skill with the highest bonus on the assumption it always has the highest chance of success. Which I don't seem to do any more in 4e than I do in 3.5e or pathfinder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    For me, it felt extremely forced. Here are two characters; one of them is a muscle guy who has trained to swing a sword around and the other has an inherent gift of magic. Despite the vast difference in what they do, both of them know two at-will powers, an encounter power, and a daily power.

    It also felt like it unnecessarily closed off some design space, especially since 4e took all the game-breaking magic from earlier editions and put it behind rituals. I admit it would have had to be carefully balanced, but "this subclass of warlock gains only half as many encounter powers, but they're twice as powerful" seems like it could be tweaked to balance out.
    I completely agree, they should have done more variations on the class framework, right from the first book.

    Quote Originally Posted by sandmote View Post
    a large chunk of the "4e isn't an RPG" argument seems to flow from the PCs automatically trying to make a check with the skill with the highest bonus on the assumption it always has the highest chance of success. Which I don't seem to do any more in 4e than I do in 3.5e or pathfinder.
    The difference is that 4E gives much more leeway to replace one skill with another by refluffing. Something like "I roll stealth to quietly cross the river" or "I roll history to remember how rivers have been crossed in the past" would not fly in 3E/PF but are common responses in 4E. In all systems players want to use their highest skills but not all systems let them.
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    It's kind of funny that 4e rules are getting criticized both for not being flexible enough and for being too flexible. (Doesn't mean that either is wrong, of course, since it concerns different parts, but still amusing).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    It's kind of funny that 4e rules are getting criticized both for not being flexible enough and for being too flexible. (Doesn't mean that either is wrong, of course, since it concerns different parts, but still amusing).
    I suppose the unifying factor here is lack of variation. Being too inflexible in the AEDU paradigm leads to lack of variation, in that every class gets the same amount of powers at the same levels. Being too flexible in skills also leads to lack of variation, in that players have an incentive to always use their best skill in every situation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Being too flexible in skills also leads to lack of variation, in that players have an incentive to always use their best skill in every situation.
    I think there are three things going on here, and they relate more to presentation than to the mechanics of the game.

    The first is that I think the separation of mechanics from flavour text is often interpreted as a separation of mechanics from narration generally. Narration ends up being treated as a description of what the dice have determined, to the exclusion of using narration as a way of determining the parameters of an intended action. So you end up with players defaulting to picking a skill instead of describing an approach, and this being reinforced by DMs interpreting the approach chosen by a player in a given situation ends up having no impact on the actual chances of success of the action.

    For example, take a situation where one needs to persuade an aristocrat of a particular course of action during an audience before her court, and compare two approaches. Of an infinite number of possible approaches, let's say one possible attempt at persuasion is to discuss the strategic and political advantages of an alliance with a neighbouring baron. The other is to try to seduce the aristocrat - right there, in front of the court.

    One approach should clearly have a better chance of success than the other. However, the SC in question refers to a Diplomacy check, and a surprising number of DMs are likely to treat each approach as identical. Admittedly I have laid it on a bit thick with my example, and quite a few DMs may treat them differently; but there can be more subtle variations that are less likely to trigger a bonus or penalty, but generally don't. So there is no incentive for the player to find clever approaches to resolving problems.

    The second is that many adventures try to broaden the application of skills to all sorts of activities, particularly during skills challenges. I am assuming this is what you mean when you talk about "being too flexible in skills"; that you are talking about the way a skill challenge might, for example, shoehorn something like piloting a boat into Athletics or Thievery. So in a given skill challenge a born and bred desert-dwelling barbarian character ends up being very skilled at canoeing down mountain rapids.

    Again, this approach sends the player scanning their character sheet for the most advantageous skill button, rather than thinking creatively. My approach is to assume that, by default, adventurers are trained to do things that are related to adventuring, and only to do things that are related to adventuring. If you want to do a non-adventuring thing, you will be limited to ability checks (and may suffer penalties on those); you may need to get creative if you want to succeed.

    On the other hand, you may be able to do a non-adventuring thing if your background, backstory, theme or character archetype suggests you can do it. So desert barbarian has limits when canoeing, but the character with the River Smuggler background or the Foamgatherer Heritage feat might be able to engage his skills.

    The third problem is the way some skill challenges, implicitly or explicitly, prevent players from resolving the issue of the skill challenge in a manner that circumvents the use of the intended skills, or the number of checks, or any skill use at all. They are presented and/or interpreted as a bit of a railroad. So when faced with a challenge to go on an arduous check through the wilderness, the players don't think to try to reduce risks or obviate the whole thing by seeking out a cartographer to purchase a map, or trying to hire a local guide to avoid all the pitfalls, thereby rendering unnecessary a bunch of Nature and Perception checks.

    All of these issues disincentivize creative play and incentivize skill-button pushing. And I think they are all aspects of the way the game has been presented in the sourcebooks and published adventures, and the gaming culture that arose around 4e, partly from that presentation, partly from existing trends, and partly from the focus on organized play which necessarily relies on that conformity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I completely agree, they should have done more variations on the class framework, right from the first book.
    The problem is that 4e has managed to split the difference in a way that makes no one happy. Classes all use the exact same framework, yet abilities are highly (yes, not totally, but very highly) segregated by class. The advantage of having abilities all work the same way is that all the abilities work the same way, and therefore you don't need to tell someone "no, you can't have that Wizard ability, you're a Fighter". Conversely, the advantage of having strongly-defined classes is that you can give Wizards abilities that aren't appropriate for Fighters and vice versa. If you're not doing either of those things, you messed up somewhere.

    In all systems players want to use their highest skills but not all systems let them.
    I think the degree to which 4e incentivizes using the highest skill much more strongly also has an influence here. In 3e, if you're in a social situation and your Sense Motive kinda sucks, rolling to see if you can tell if people are lying is generally worst-case neutral. In 4e, anyone doing anything in a Skill Challenge that is not "roll the skill the DM will let someone in the party roll that has the best odds of success" is worse than doing nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    So you end up with players defaulting to picking a skill instead of describing an approach, and this being reinforced by DMs interpreting the approach chosen by a player in a given situation ends up having no impact on the actual chances of success of the action.
    I think this is the kind of "fiction/game" distinction that is fundamentally wrongheaded. Picking a skill is describing an approach. When I say that my character "makes an Intimidate check", that is describing a different action than having them make a Bluff check or a Diplomacy check. Applying circumstantial bonuses on top of that because of how I describe the specifics of the action is not necessarily "more true to the fiction", it is privileging a specific interpretation of what the fiction should be. Obviously this is not an absolute in any direction, but part of why we have numeric attributes for characters is so that players can make declarations about characters without having to have close alignment with the rest of the table about approaches within the fiction. I don't need to know about fencing to make a character who is a master fencer, I should not necessarily need to know about persuasion to make a master persuader.

    Again, this approach sends the player scanning their character sheet for the most advantageous skill button, rather than thinking creatively.
    I would push back on that. How can you tell the difference? If someone looks at their sheet, thinks about the circumstance, and says "I'll try to win them over with my knowledge of Pelorite religious rites", how do you know that's because their Religion check happens to be 10 points higher than anything else and not because they decided that really was the right approach? I think you can make probabilistic statements about incentives on the margin, but "how do I get from high skill X to presented challenge Y" is a form of creativity.
    Last edited by RandomPeasant; 2022-11-15 at 11:02 PM.

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    I come into this thread as biased. I absolutely adored 4e. I began with AD&D, played a lot of 2nd, so, so, so much 3rd, and then found my love in 4e. I've played about 10 sessions of 5e and it reminded me so much of 3e that I quit and haven't been back.

    With that said, its been years since I've played 4e. I used to have the page number memorized in the DMG, but it allowed you to perform stunts in combat. I used that page judiciously. I remember running a game at GenCon and one of the players wanted to jump from a high spot and shield slam into an enemy. I used that page, gave him the target ... he rolled Athletics, did his damage, and the entire table was absolutely loving it as everything was being described. I never felt that other editions of D&D properly allowed it without houserules. In 4e it was there on that one page. So many DMs ignored it, but it was the way to increase and improve the options in combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by kieza View Post
    It also felt like it unnecessarily closed off some design space, especially since 4e took all the game-breaking magic from earlier editions and put it behind rituals. I admit it would have had to be carefully balanced, but "this subclass of warlock gains only half as many encounter powers, but they're twice as powerful" seems like it could be tweaked to balance out.
    I just want to point out that the math here does not work in an easy way.

    Let's take 2 example powers. One deals 10 damage but you can use it twice, one deals 20 damage and is usable only once. The enemy has 15 health.

    If you hit the enemy for 10 damage, they then get to take their turn and hit you. Then you hit them a second time with the 10 damage to take them out.
    With the 20 damage attack, you hit them once and they never get to respond.
    In this example, its pretty obvious that the double-damage power is more than twice as good.

    Getting half as many powers but they are twice as powerful would be difficult to balance out, in that regard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I think the degree to which 4e incentivizes using the highest skill much more strongly also has an influence here. In 3e, if you're in a social situation and your Sense Motive kinda sucks, rolling to see if you can tell if people are lying is generally worst-case neutral. In 4e, anyone doing anything in a Skill Challenge that is not "roll the skill the DM will let someone in the party roll that has the best odds of success" is worse than doing nothing.
    If you are in a social situation in 4e and your Insight kind of sucks, rolling to see if someone is lying to you is indeed generally worst-case neutral.

    If you are choosing to roll Insight in a skill challenge scenario because whether or not someone is lying to you is important to the group and you are choosing to be the member of the group rolling Insight, and your Insight kind of sucks, that's on you. Skill Challenges are narrative in flow — everyone is trying to figure out if the person is lying, but usually, the person best at Insight makes the roll. Everyone is talking during Diplomacy, but the person good at Diplomacy makes the roll(assuming no one is being deliberately antagonistic). Etc...
    Last edited by MwaO; 2022-11-17 at 09:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MwaO View Post
    If you are in a social situation in 4e and your Insight kind of sucks, rolling to see if someone is lying to you is indeed generally worst-case neutral.
    In 4e, social situations are modeled as Skill Challenges. The question is not "who is rolling Insight". It is "is anyone other than whoever has the best bonus at some skill rolling anything at all". It's not that your Insight check is displacing someone else's higher Insight check, it's that it is displacing a Diplomacy or Intimidate check that is rolled at a higher bonus (or perhaps against a lower DC). And, yes, you can add epicycles where you require an Insight roll and a Diplomacy roll and an Intimidate roll and so on, but that's still just an obviously worse mechanic than having people roll whatever skills are necessary for some number of rounds and counting up successes after some number of rounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    In 4e, social situations are modeled as Skill Challenges. The question is not "who is rolling Insight". It is "is anyone other than whoever has the best bonus at some skill rolling anything at all". It's not that your Insight check is displacing someone else's higher Insight check, it's that it is displacing a Diplomacy or Intimidate check that is rolled at a higher bonus (or perhaps against a lower DC). And, yes, you can add epicycles where you require an Insight roll and a Diplomacy roll and an Intimidate roll and so on, but that's still just an obviously worse mechanic than having people roll whatever skills are necessary for some number of rounds and counting up successes after some number of rounds.
    To an extent, I think this can be well-addressed by making off-skills have higher DCs, such that using an off-skill is sometimes-to-often worse than using an untrained skill, all other things being equal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcrudisi View Post
    I just want to point out that the math here does not work in an easy way.

    Let's take 2 example powers. One deals 10 damage but you can use it twice, one deals 20 damage and is usable only once. The enemy has 15 health.

    If you hit the enemy for 10 damage, they then get to take their turn and hit you. Then you hit them a second time with the 10 damage to take them out.
    With the 20 damage attack, you hit them once and they never get to respond.
    In this example, its pretty obvious that the double-damage power is more than twice as good.

    Getting half as many powers but they are twice as powerful would be difficult to balance out, in that regard.
    Hence why I said it would need to be carefully balanced. Also why I didn't actually do that in my retroclone: instead I disconnected "powers known" from "powers usable" and made variations on those factors, while holding the actual strength of powers roughly constant. So, martial powers are individually as powerful as arcane powers, and martial classes get to use more greater powers before resting, but that means that they can last longer in a fight while still using their big guns--not that they can be more effective with a single round of actions.

    By contrast, the perks of other power sources mean that:
    • Arcane classes can quickly adapt to a situation: they can experiment with different power loadouts until they find one that works well against the enemies they're up against.
    • Divine classes can, rarely, throw out a very powerful miracle, but most of the time they're just as effective as anyone else. Also, while miracles have powerful effects, they're also calibrated to be short-lived: a divine character using their miracle on the first turn of an encounter will be more effective than the rest of the party that turn, and possibly the next, but won't dominate the entire fight.
    • Animist classes have an easier time multiclassing and building synergy between the playstyles of multiple animist classes, but a character of any other class that puts the same resources into it will only be marginally behind. The synergy is of the form "using this power benefiting from this class feature then makes my next turn, using this other power benefiting from this other class feature, more effective" not "these class features stack."


    End result is that the different power sources FEEL different, without requiring massive variations in resource systems and without requiring overly-finicky balancing. Or at least, that's the feedback I have from my small-scale playtesting.

  28. - Top - End - #118
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    I kind of like the idea of differentiating the power sources more... so two controllers would be similar, but their power sources would determine some of their feel.

    Arcane: Powerful Dailies. When the wizard brings the thunder, you gotta take cover.
    Divine: All encounter powers available, but limited in number (i.e. at 1st level you KNOW all the encounter powers, but you can still only use 1 without resting)
    Martial: Lots of At-wills, maybe? Or easy recovery of Encounter powers?
    Primal:
    Psionic: Already did it with PSPs
    Shadow:
    Elemental:
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  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    I kind of like the idea of differentiating the power sources more... so two controllers would be similar, but their power sources would determine some of their feel.

    Arcane: Powerful Dailies. When the wizard brings the thunder, you gotta take cover.
    Divine: All encounter powers available, but limited in number (i.e. at 1st level you KNOW all the encounter powers, but you can still only use 1 without resting)
    Martial: Lots of At-wills, maybe? Or easy recovery of Encounter powers?
    Primal:
    Psionic: Already did it with PSPs
    Shadow:
    Elemental:
    There is kind of a limited degree of this among the original 4 sources. Martial, Divine, Arcane, and Primal trend to feel more Striker, Leader, Controller, and Defender respectively
    Martial: Ranger and Rogue are two of the highest output strikers, Fighter is the most aggressive defender, and Warlord can easily be the most aggressive leader
    Divine: Paladin has Lay On Hands for healing and a lot of healing powers, Invoker honestly can almost be played as a full leader if it had heals, and Unity Avenger can do a solid amount of party support
    Arcane: Warlock has a lot of conditions it throws out, while sorcerer does a lot of effective AoE (technically a part of controller), while Bard and Swordmage also have a lot of debuff/enemy interference options
    Primal: Barbarian and Druid are both very bulky for striker/controller, and while Shaman itself isn't very defendery, it does have the spirit companion that can be a very efficient source of damage ablation.
    Psionic has the power point mechanic

    Shadow and elemental never really got enough material to establish an identity.

    There are also a few other patterns, but they are less consistent. Most primal classes, for example, have some manner of end of encounter buff as a major component for their dailies (at least some of them). Barbarians have Rages, wardens have Guardian Forms, Druids have...no clean term, but they have wild shape enhancers. Martial classes have the combat style feats, while divine classes (other than runepriest, which was a latecomer) have domain feats and channel divinity.
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  30. - Top - End - #120
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    Default Re: What am I forgetting about 4e D&D?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    In 4e, social situations are modeled as Skill Challenges. The question is not "who is rolling Insight". It is "is anyone other than whoever has the best bonus at some skill rolling anything at all". It's not that your Insight check is displacing someone else's higher Insight check, it's that it is displacing a Diplomacy or Intimidate check that is rolled at a higher bonus (or perhaps against a lower DC). And, yes, you can add epicycles where you require an Insight roll and a Diplomacy roll and an Intimidate roll and so on, but that's still just an obviously worse mechanic than having people roll whatever skills are necessary for some number of rounds and counting up successes after some number of rounds.
    Some Skill Challenges contain social situations, social situations are not Skill Challenges.

    Most social situations don't involve the whole party with a variety of skill obvious types of skill checks as per page 73 of DMG. And they're not inherently some sort of dangerous or meaningful, to the point of potentially getting XP equal to a combat. As page 72 of DMG notes, not every skill check is a skill challenge.

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