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Thread: Miss 4e D&D

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    Default Re: Miss 4e D&D

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Oh, it's pretty easy to find a lot of places where 4E is not streamlined at all.
    And yet....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    For instance, summons and figurines and animal companions all work subtly differently without rhyme or reason.
    Or, the fact that 90% or more of all items printed are vendor trash.
    Both of these are content not core rules. Both of these are equally or more true of the editions on ether side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Or, how exactly 3D combat is supposed to work (this is not consistent between books or between individual powers).
    I do not remember how 3d combat worked in 4e, but it's not like 3e and 5e 3d combat set the world alight either. And either way, it is a pretty niche criticism compared with "is it an attack roll, is it a saving throw, neither, both?" in every single combat in 3e or 5e (to pick an obvious example).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Or, the oft-derided rules for rituals, and for that matter martial practices.
    "Oft-derided"? Rituals are often acknowledged as one of the best innovations in 4e even by people otherwise dislike the edition. Martial Practices are admittedly kinda wonky, but again content not core rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Or, that there are at least ten different powers that are pretty much "Fireball" but with different damage values and different defenses.
    I would say "citation needed", but even if it were true it would be content not rules, and not a real problem anyway given that powers are self-contained and right there on your character sheet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Or, how often skill challenges had to be errata'ed, and how often the "math fix" feats had to be (re)printed.
    Yes, they fixed a few things. I never claimed 4e was perfect, I claimed it was more consistent than 3e and 5e. Which it was. You seemed to be the only one in this thread pushing back against the edition warriors; disappointing to see you join them.
    Last edited by glass; 2024-03-02 at 09:32 AM.
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    Agreed on 4e not being particularly streamlined. I'd give 5e and B/X the #1 place. Whether 4e places above 3e is gonna depend a lot more on judgments calls imo.
    Last edited by Just to Browse; 2024-03-02 at 05:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by glass View Post
    Both of these are content not core rules.
    And yet, the game is played with the content, so if the content is inconsistent then actual gameplay is going to be inconsistent as well.

    In fact, this distinction between "core and content" is precisely why 4E is so clunky. A number of rules (e.g. companion characters) are common enough that they should have been in the "core". But they're not, meaning they work differently every time you encounter them, and that's precisely why they're not streamlined.

    For instance: at some point WOTC decided that "zone" effects were unbalanced, and needed the restriction to only trigger once per turn (for each enemy). If this rule had been streamlined in "the core", then all it would take is a single sentence, and it would be future-proof for new zones as well. But because this wasn't streamlined, WOTC had to write individual errata for every single zone power printed. Yeah, that's clunky. And of course they accidentally missed a couple, and it wasn't future-proof, and the result was a big mess.

    "Oft-derided"?
    Then I suggest you search this forum for the many threads we had on this the topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    Agreed on 4e not being particularly streamlined. I'd give 5e and B/X the #1 place.
    I agree, it's like they hired a professional streamliner just for those.
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    Definitely had that "Attack roll vs Saving throw" thing come up many times in 5e, especially with a couple of new players. Having a cleric with Sacred Flame (which is a saving throw) and a wizard with Fire Bolt (which is an attack roll) when they are both basic single-target cantrips. I also never got some of the distinctions 3e made with Scorching Ray being an evocation and Fire Orb being a conjuration despite them both being single target fire spells that require attack rolls. Saving throws in general I think are a giant inconsistency to the "the one doing the action rolls the dice" paradigm and 4e's "the attacker rolls the dice" rectifies that.

    I do agree that 4e could have used some more standardized companion characters, especially since the shaman spirit companion works unlike pretty much everything else. I think this is probably partly from the fact that companions weren't a PHB1 option; Arcane Power does introduce a Summoning keyword that gets consistently used for all of the wizard summon spells. I don't think 3e or 5e were really any better in this regard (although PF2e is).

    On the Orcus thread, someone had at one point linked to someone who had designed build-a-power variants for (iirc) the wizard and fighter. A thought I had a while ago might be to do something like that for each of the power sources, so the arcane power source would define how to build arcane powers with options available to all arcane characters with then each arcane class then adding a few extra options. This might help with consistency since you would expect your "essentially a fireball" powers to be built in the same way while giving identity to power sources (since arcane powers and martial powers might be built differently), classes (since hypothetical abjurer, battlemage, and beguiler classes would have different additions for what they are good at), and characters (since they could essentially craft and personalize their own powers). It would also help with page count since you could have 2-4 pages per power source +2 pages per class for nearly infinite options instead of roughly ~10 pages per class for a small number of options, many of which are just bigger versions of previous ones (e.g. Fireball to Meteor Swarm or Twin Strike to Two-Fanged Strike or Jaws of the Wolf) which would leave room for either more classes, utility powers, or unusual powers that would be awkward to fit into the build-a-power paradigm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeda View Post
    I also never got some of the distinctions 3e made with Scorching Ray being an evocation and Fire Orb being a conjuration despite them both being single target fire spells that require attack rolls.
    3e Conjuration went off the rails, much in the way 2e Alteration did... tons of spells were shoved in there, from healing to "Yeah, it's totally conjuration and not evocation to make fire."
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    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    3e Conjuration went off the rails, much in the way 2e Alteration did... tons of spells were shoved in there, from healing to "Yeah, it's totally conjuration and not evocation to make fire."
    Conjuration conjuring elemental damage spells always annoyed me. Conjuration basically ate Evocation while also still doing all the rad conjuration stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Oh, it's pretty easy to find a lot of places where 4E is not streamlined at all.

    For instance, summons and figurines and animal companions all work subtly differently without rhyme or reason.
    I assume you mean the distinction of whether or not they actually take up a space?
    Or, the fact that 90% or more of all items printed are vendor trash.
    That is certainly an opinion.
    Or, how exactly 3D combat is supposed to work (this is not consistent between books or between individual powers).
    Example, please? I never encountered even one in the 6 years I ran 4e.
    Or, the oft-derided rules for rituals, and for that matter martial practices.
    Rituals were one of the things that most 4e "h4ters" agree that the system did right. Wtf are you talking about?
    Martial practices were half-baked and wonky. Agreed.
    Or, that there are at least ten different powers that are pretty much "Fireball" but with different damage values and different defenses.
    If any "burst x within y squares" counts as this for you, then I guess...but I find that incredibly reductive.
    Or, how often skill challenges had to be errata'ed, and how often the "math fix" feats had to be (re)printed.
    I've heard this before, and I debunked it. Skills received errata during the first few months of 4e, mostly relating to DCs. There was never any errata that explicitly affected Skill Challenges, let alone "multiple times". I still have the compiled pdf of all 4e errata from 2014 and confirmed this.
    The only change I could find was that the DMG1 referred to "secondary skills" as use of an alternate skill not listed in the SC. A player could attempt to use such a skill one time at a higher DC to try and get a success. Most published SCs in adventures, as well as in the DMG2 have "secondary skills" be skills built into the SC that contribute in some way, but do not count towards success or failure for the SC. But that wasn't ever "errata".

    The "math fix feats" were basically feat taxes, true. But the rest of the "math fixes" went away after the 3rd year (of a 6 year run), because the math was fixed going forward.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeptunianOM View Post
    Conjuration conjuring elemental damage spells always annoyed me. Conjuration basically ate Evocation while also still doing all the rad conjuration stuff.
    And it ate half of Necromancy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    Rituals were one of the things that most 4e "h4ters" agree that the system did right. Wtf are you talking about?
    Seriously? We had regular "why rituals suck" threads on this very forum, it's the equivalent of 3E's perennial debates about monks, and 5E's about its skill system. It's heavily controversial, is the point.

    While a lot of players like the general idea of having codified non-combat encounters, I've never seen anyone who wasn't a hardcore 4E fan actually like 4E's implementation (and a lot of hardcore 4E fans dislike that part of the game, and it was widely mocked in the LFR public campaign). Of course, this is exactly why both of 4E's successors (5E and PF2) haven't reused anything resembling 4E's ritual system, except reusing its name for something that works completely differently.

    Anyway, the forum search button is right there, so feel free to look for some old threads here at GITP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Seriously? We had regular "why rituals suck" threads on this very forum, it's the equivalent of 3E's perennial debates about monks, and 5E's about its skill system. It's heavily controversial, is the point.

    While a lot of players like the general idea of having codified non-combat encounters, I've never seen anyone who wasn't a hardcore 4E fan actually like 4E's implementation (and a lot of hardcore 4E fans dislike that part of the game, and it was widely mocked in the LFR public campaign). Of course, this is exactly why both of 4E's successors (5E and PF2) haven't reused anything resembling 4E's ritual system, except reusing its name for something that works completely differently.

    Anyway, the forum search button is right there, so feel free to look for some old threads here at GITP
    I primarily was on the WotC (Gleemax) forums during the 4e era. I saw a lot of the edition warring there. But rituals usually weren't a major complaint about 4e on those boards. The math being wrong, encounters being too long, the PHB1 classes being too homogeneous...these were things I saw complaints about.

    And on these forums, some of the complaints I've seen about 4e (usually not this subforum) don't sound like informed complaints. That is, they're the generic "it was an MMO on paper" tripe that even gets repeated by people who never played it. But I guess I just haven't seen these controversies about 4e rituals.

    I've only ever heard one (former) poster on these forums have a lot to say negatively about Skill Challenges (which you didn't mention by name, but did say something about non combat encounters). And most of what that person said was unmitigated trash. He kept insisting that the "only way to do" a Skill Challenge was for everyone to sit around and do nothing while 1 person with a good modifier in one of the Primary Skills made all the checks for success.
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    I actually am not a fan of skill challenges, especially a fair few that made it into published adventures. Their implementation as well as execution left a great deal to be desired.

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    If we're at the point of trading anecdotes, the majority of people I talked to in the early 4e era thought skill challenges were unenjoyable even after the math hotfix, and considered rituals a waste of page space.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Seriously? We had regular "why rituals suck" threads on this very forum, it's the equivalent of 3E's perennial debates about monks, and 5E's about its skill system. It's heavily controversial, is the point.

    While a lot of players like the general idea of having codified non-combat encounters, I've never seen anyone who wasn't a hardcore 4E fan actually like 4E's implementation (and a lot of hardcore 4E fans dislike that part of the game, and it was widely mocked in the LFR public campaign). Of course, this is exactly why both of 4E's successors (5E and PF2) haven't reused anything resembling 4E's ritual system, except reusing its name for something that works completely differently.

    Anyway, the forum search button is right there, so feel free to look for some old threads here at GITP
    I wouldn't exactly call myself a big fan of any edition of D&D, but part of the reason I feel that 4e is the least bad edition is because of the Rituals system. Oh, it could use some tweaks here and there, sure; most everything has room for improvement (like the available skills for the fighter and how many they can select as trained!). However, one of the reasons I bounced off of 5e was because it absolutely gutted the number of spells that could be cast as rituals. It's like a Rogue hit the concept with Bloodbath. And it was an Adroit Explorer, so after the concept of rituals finally saved that off, it got hit with it again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    If we're at the point of trading anecdotes, the majority of people I talked to in the early 4e era thought skill challenges were unenjoyable even after the math hotfix, and considered rituals a waste of page space.
    To me, the concept of the skill challanges opened up a new way to see non-combat encounter. It was obviously a "me" problem, but it was like this:

    the single campaign that better draw out from me the same "anything can happen" feel that I had as a child with BEC(never arrived to level up to the M I part), was played in 4e.

    When playing in 3/3.5/3.P/3.Homebrew, every spellcaster rushed to search for the right spell for that non-combat encounter. No-one, unless we had a rogue in the party, ever prompted me for skill use. I had always to ask people for the rolls.

    Playing 4e with new players, and making some skill challenges here and there, changed that. I don't know if it was the mental starting idea by the players that the "powers" were "combat powers", but they tried to engage more in the skills, and to try to synergize together. And then they started to propose creative "out of combat" use for the powers to complement the skills.

    I also liked a lot the condensed skill list (even if I missed the skill points), and I'm always torn about using it in 3.5 (but I'm not confident enough to be able to port the skill points number and the proficiencies to adjust for it, and when I've looked, I never found an homebrew for something like this that didn't was part of a bigger, larger, skill system full rebuild).

    4E got problems, and when we started playing it, I missed the hyper customizability of 3E full splat book madness, and I'm still waiting to find a group to play a monstrous gestalt campaign to go crazy with races/classes combination but...

    I still miss the offline Character Builder, and the Adventure tools. They prompted me to work on some code for a treasure generator for 3.5.

    I LOVED the combination and interaction during combat. It could go long? Maybe... but I STILL miss a warlord like class in 3.5.

    I hadn't played or GMmed 5E except for some one shots, and I don't have any kind of mastery of that system. It seemed... good? I loved the advantage/disadvantage things, and the inspiration points (we did used something like that... I think destiny point? Something that a friend of mine suggested from a saint seiya gdr as a way to encourage role playing. They were reroll/auto success or smth like that)

    But now? If someone ask me for a dungeon crawling, combat heavy campaign, I usually go to 4e.
    If (like my current campaign) they ask me for a more political/full interpretation oriented/we don't want to fight many encounters I go for 3.5E but I use "skill challenges lite" as a system to plan for non combat encounters. It helps me to analyse and plan for alternative approaches to situations and they serve me well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moak View Post
    To me, the concept of the skill challanges opened up a new way to see non-combat encounter. It was obviously a "me" problem, but it was like this:
    That's good to hear.

    And my question is, do you like the idea of SCs, or do you like 4E's specific rules for SCs.

    I'm asking because you talk about "creative out of combat use for the powers"; whereas 4E's specific rules are very clear that (a) PCs cannot use combat powers in an SC, and (b) creative ideas should be penalized with a higher DC, or disallowed entirely.

    If your reaction now is "wow, that's a pretty stupid way to rule it", then yes, I agree. That's our point here, that 4E's specific implentation of SCs is problematic and widely disliked. And of course, that's precisely why this implementation is notably absent from both 5E and PF2.
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    I've played in SCs that were amazing, and SCs that were terrible.

    I think the rules were, generally, solid. I think the advice given on how to run them was incredibly lacking. If run in a "mechanics-first" way, they were pretty awful. The good ones? Words like "skill challenge" were never used, it was just "here's the situation, what do you do?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I've played in SCs that were amazing, and SCs that were terrible.

    I think the rules were, generally, solid. I think the advice given on how to run them was incredibly lacking. If run in a "mechanics-first" way, they were pretty awful. The good ones? Words like "skill challenge" were never used, it was just "here's the situation, what do you do?"
    That is my experience as well. The rules & mechanics of skill challenges just being scaffolding for the DM is a much better system than laying the bare metal in front of the players.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I've played in SCs that were amazing, and SCs that were terrible.

    I think the rules were, generally, solid. I think the advice given on how to run them was incredibly lacking. If run in a "mechanics-first" way, they were pretty awful. The good ones? Words like "skill challenge" were never used, it was just "here's the situation, what do you do?"
    I think "here's the situation, what do you do?" works if you are flexible about the number and type of skill checks that are necessary to accomplish the goal, because you never know what clever ideas the players will come up with that really shouldn't take as much die-rolling to resolve as you might have had planned. At which point, is it really a skill challenge as contemplated by the rules, or is it just an ordinary situation that you are resolving by a combination of fiat (when the approach will obviously succeed or fail), or checks (if it isn't obvious)?

    In other words, what you are describing seems identical to how a situation might be resolved before the invention of SCs, and I don't see what SCs bring to the table.

    My experience with published SCs is that they broadly fall into one of three categories (this is part of an unfinished post from a couple of days ago, so it covers some of the same ground):

    1. The task being modelled is inherently as boring as watching paint dry, and modelling it is merely an unnecessary gate. There weren't a lot of these, but they exist, and they should have been handwaived.

    2. The task being modelled is either only sort of interesting, and/or really only one or two skills apply. Often with these you see silly attempts to shoehorn in other skills (to let other players have a go), like performing an athletic feat during an interview with the king in order to be taken seriously. Narrating spammed skill checks or ridiculous skill checks add nothing to the game. These should be resolved in one or two checks.

    3. The task being modelled is complex, involving a number of tasks requiring different skills, which skills often have well defined suggestions as to what actions they represent. At this point you may as well just break up the SC into its individual tasks, present each one as a challenge, and let the players figure out how to tackle it.

    With this last one, I am suggesting that the DM establish the obstacles to be overcome, rather than have the player come up with both the challenge, and how the skill addresses the challenge. So instead of an abstract "crossing the wilderness" SC, where a player says, "I use my athletics skill to climb a cliff, and assist the other PCs in doing so", for example, the DM says, "You come to a cliff, what do you do?" and the players can try whatever creative solutions they feel like, which (to me) is more interesting anyway. So a travel SC becomes a point crawl, for example.

    I guess another way of saying it is, a complex SC encourages creative narration on the part of the players, but not creative problem solving. Whereas giving the players concrete obstacles or objectives does the opposite. And I prefer the latter. But I think, as written in published SCs and as described in the DMG, WotC suggested that the former was the process, particularly since it uses a specified number of checks, often with limits as to what skills can be used, or how many times a skill can be used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I think "here's the situation, what do you do?" works if you are flexible about the number and type of skill checks that are necessary to accomplish the goal, because you never know what clever ideas the players will come up with that really shouldn't take as much die-rolling to resolve as you might have had planned. At which point, is it really a skill challenge as contemplated by the rules, or is it just an ordinary situation that you are resolving by a combination of fiat (when the approach will obviously succeed or fail), or checks (if it isn't obvious)?

    In other words, what you are describing seems identical to how a situation might be resolved before the invention of SCs, and I don't see what SCs bring to the table.
    Precisely.

    And that's usually how these SC debates end up, i.e. with the conclusion that SCs are really great, as long as you ignore the restrictions in the DMG, and run them like you'd run a non-combat encounter in pretty much any other RPG
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
    I think "here's the situation, what do you do?" works if you are flexible about the number and type of skill checks that are necessary to accomplish the goal, because you never know what clever ideas the players will come up with that really shouldn't take as much die-rolling to resolve as you might have had planned. At which point, is it really a skill challenge as contemplated by the rules, or is it just an ordinary situation that you are resolving by a combination of fiat (when the approach will obviously succeed or fail), or checks (if it isn't obvious)?

    In other words, what you are describing seems identical to how a situation might be resolved before the invention of SCs, and I don't see what SCs bring to the table.
    Well done, skill challenges are pretty close to things like Blades in the Dark having clocks.

    I think the real benefit of them is that they can provide a loose scaffolding to ensure reasonable pacing, and that the GM doesn't inadvertently put their finger on the scale too much.

    Like, at the base level, it's "you have n checks. Succeed in at least n/2+1 to succeed the thing". Now the GM knows things - we're going to call for n checks, unless someone comes up with something super clever. So, you need to make sure that any action taken can provide at least 1/n of the progress, and either make it so or gloss over it and ask for another action. It also means that as a GM, you're pretty much (again, outside of outliers) asked to make sure that a single failure doesn't screw everything up, avoiding the "roll until you fail" problem. And, it pretty much forces you to consider some levels of success - did you succeed all of the checks? Some of them? By how much?

    Like a lot of things, I suspect good GMs do a lot of this stuff implicitly. But having it spelled out isn't a bad thing at all, especially for new GMs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I think the real benefit of them is that they can provide a loose scaffolding to ensure reasonable pacing, and that the GM doesn't inadvertently put their finger on the scale too much.
    This is roughly how I see them. 4e's skill challenges have some nice guardrails aspects, because when a DM makes a non-combat challenge, the SC rules push them to think about allowing a variety of approaches and pacing the thing so it takes a little time but not too much. But I think a couple pages of DM advice would do that just as well, and SCs add a ton of weird baggage.

    Particularly in a group where everyone DMs, once you look "behind the curtain" and understand the rules, it becomes clear how little player choice plays into this. The DM has a rough list of skills for you to roll on, so you guess them and roll, and hope for enough high rolls. There's no game structure to a skill challenge, not the way there would be for a heist (getting maps, learning watch routines), courtroom intrigue (learning flaws, gathering prestige), a mystery (finding clues), or hex-/point-crawl travel (choosing locations, IDing landmarks, picking up rumors).

    SCs also box the game is this really frustrating way. For example, in Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress there's a skill challenge where a pair of ghost brothers need help breaking a ritual. The PCs must complete a two-part skill challenge. In part 1 they can lie (Bluff), tell the truth (Diplomacy), or empathize with the brothers (Insight) and nothing else, and need 6 successes. In part 2 they must use Arcana to dismantle the wards 6 times, and Thievery to dismantle the wards 6 times (yes you must do both exactly 6 times). Why can't a player speak truthfully using Arcana? Why is Religion not applicable at all? Why can't an effect like dispel magic do anything? Why can't we just burn down the library that the brothers are in? I can think of so many creative ways that a player would want to solve this problem, but all of them chafe against the rigidity of the skill challenge rules. A DM could hack & houserule around skill challenges like this, but it would be a lot easier (and less frustrating!) to just write down a few solutions to the problem and give the players creative freedom.

    In contrast to kyoryu, I don't find that skill challenges provide any grounds for partial successes. The rules have a success/failure track, but translate that pretty plainly into a binary success or failure, only paying lip service to the idea of complicated successes. Published adventures don't bother with the idea at all, and some just assume this is a die-rolling exercise that guarantees success. For example, in Slaying Stone there's a skill challenge where you have to convince a dragon to give you a magic item called a slaying stone which is critical to the entire adventure. If you fail, the the adventure just... softlocks? There's no guidance for what happens if you fail to get the slaying stone despite its paramount importance. There's no exchange of information, no deal to prove your worth, no alternative path of stealing the stone, no way to call in bigger guns, no convincing the dragon to leave. There isn't even a set of rules for fighting the dragon (in 4e of all games!), which I think shows how bad the designers' tunnel vision was. They just assumed you would do the skill challenge and win. And this ain't Keep on the Shadowfell when the designers were using their playtest material, this is 2010 after WotC chose to "revamp their approach" to 4e adventures.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Well done, skill challenges are pretty close to things like Blades in the Dark having clocks.

    I think the real benefit of them is that they can provide a loose scaffolding to ensure reasonable pacing, and that the GM doesn't inadvertently put their finger on the scale too much.

    Like, at the base level, it's "you have n checks. Succeed in at least n/2+1 to succeed the thing". Now the GM knows things - we're going to call for n checks, unless someone comes up with something super clever. So, you need to make sure that any action taken can provide at least 1/n of the progress, and either make it so or gloss over it and ask for another action. It also means that as a GM, you're pretty much (again, outside of outliers) asked to make sure that a single failure doesn't screw everything up, avoiding the "roll until you fail" problem. And, it pretty much forces you to consider some levels of success - did you succeed all of the checks? Some of them? By how much?

    Like a lot of things, I suspect good GMs do a lot of this stuff implicitly. But having it spelled out isn't a bad thing at all, especially for new GMs.
    I think what this boils down to is you need the structure for non-combat encounter in organized play, where you need all the DMs adjudicating in more or less the same way. Assuming the encounter is worth playing at all, which I often question.

    But for home use, it is an unnecessary restriction on both players or DMs. I reject your starting premise, that "the GM knows things - we're going to call for n checks, unless someone comes up with something super clever." Already you are predetermining, not only how many checks are going to be necessary, and what those checks are, but that there are going to be any checks needed at all. Like, maybe you want them to climb a cliff, but somebody has utility powers that allow them to levitate, fly or spider climb, and tie a rope ladder. And that's just one example.

    What I will allow is that the skill challenge structure has utility for determine the amount of experience to grant for success. But once you have determined that, I think you should just throw out the whole structure and focus on narrating the situation, and adjudicating whatever hare-brained scheme the players come up with.

    (BTW, skill challenges also negate the time-honoured practice of players coming up with hare-brained schemes and/or creative use of their resources, to the detriment of the game.)

    Take the "audience with the King" type of challenge. When I am a player, if I know I need to persuade the king of something, the first thing I do is ask around and figure out where the guards and the servants go after work, and then I chat them up to figure out the king's likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, etc., as well as those of their spouse and/or lover and advisors. Then maybe I work on them to work on the king so my arguments have a better chance of success. I take a similar approach to heists - check out city archives, talk to architects and builders to try to get a layout (somebody builds the secret doors), suck up to servants and delivery people, maybe pose as a delivery person. But I guarantee no published SC ever anticipated that a player would do any of that.

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    This has given me some insight as to perhaps why I never had any problem with Skill Challenges. I was always the DM during 4e. And I always made it my mission to ensure that the game never felt to "gamist" to my players. They always had the feel like they were playing D&D, irrespective of edition. While I was always acutely aware of things like "monster roles", "XP Budgets", and "Skill Challenge complexity" (to include tracking of successes and failures). And I always made room for creative solutions from my players.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    This has given me some insight as to perhaps why I never had any problem with Skill Challenges. I was always the DM during 4e. And I always made it my mission to ensure that the game never felt to "gamist" to my players. They always had the feel like they were playing D&D, irrespective of edition. While I was always acutely aware of things like "monster roles", "XP Budgets", and "Skill Challenge complexity" (to include tracking of successes and failures). And I always made room for creative solutions from my players.
    An interesting juxtaposition with this: there's definitely a group of 4e fans who think that look behind the curtain is good, so they want players to know about SC success mechanics, XP budgets, and monster roles, because they think it enhances the experience. Here's a relevant post from AbdulAlhazred from last year that mentions transparency being part of the draw for them, with a bunch of +1s from the forum's various 4e fans.

    I'm definitely more on your side, where I find the game plays better if I make the mechanics intentionally opaque, or offer avenues to ignore them entirely (e.g. creative solutions circumventing a SC). That's apparently not a popular opinion in most 4e fan circles. Different strokes I suppose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    An interesting juxtaposition with this: there's definitely a group of 4e fans who think that look behind the curtain is good, so they want players to know about SC success mechanics, XP budgets, and monster roles, because they think it enhances the experience. Here's a relevant post from AbdulAlhazred from last year that mentions transparency being part of the draw for them, with a bunch of +1s from the forum's various 4e fans.

    I'm definitely more on your side, where I find the game plays better if I make the mechanics intentionally opaque, or offer avenues to ignore them entirely (e.g. creative solutions circumventing a SC). That's apparently not a popular opinion in most 4e fan circles. Different strokes I suppose.
    It makes some sense to me.

    If you like the game for the mechanics then you're probably going to make those a focus and try to show off how they work to your group so they engage with them more or so they're more likely to run them like you do if they DM. Similarly if you want to run it by the book being as transparent as possible makes it more likely your group will actually know what they're trying to do and invest in making it work.

    If you run things differently you're probably not going to show off the set mechanics that you're ignoring or glossing over for your version and you're probably going to make sure your players aren't discouraged from creativity by a big glaring reminder of "this is the right way to do it, so yours is wrong but I'm accepting it because I'm nice." If what you value out of Skill Challenges is the structure but you find the narrow scope and limited options not worth keeping then it makes complete sense you'd keep those points as obscure and out of players' minds as possible while of course the fans who are heavily invested in the system itself are going to focus on them similarly to how every other thread on these forums will have someone go "well according to RAW."

    Personally I just find it amusing that this has become an example of a 4e mechanic where even some of those who defend the system here are gradually admitting they intentionally glossed over to keep the game interesting for their group. Redmage125's comments for instance implying that the reason they had so little trouble with their group playing 4e may have been that they were going out of their way to make it feel like just D&D by personally handling some of the bits that many people find annoying so they don't take up the players' time and thoughts.

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    Itís amazing how long this discussion has gone. And of course, how much thought, theory crafting, and experiences people have expressed within this thread. Many of the discussions that have been going on in this thread, have been hard for me to follow or I canít even follow them whatsoever. Iím not sure what I could add anymore, so Iíll just continue to read. Gaining insight on my own attempts at redesigning 4e D&D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonochromeTiger View Post

    Personally I just find it amusing that this has become an example of a 4e mechanic where even some of those who defend the system here are gradually admitting they intentionally glossed over to keep the game interesting for their group. Redmage125's comments for instance implying that the reason they had so little trouble with their group playing 4e may have been that they were going out of their way to make it feel like just D&D by personally handling some of the bits that many people find annoying so they don't take up the players' time and thoughts.
    See, that's the thing...I didn't really "gloss over" or "personally handle (so my players didn't have to)" anything.

    4e, for me, required less House Rules than any other edition I run (to include 5e). I do run more or less by RAW (that doesn't mean all material is allowed, but that's neither here nor there). It's the WAY I run my games that I am realizing may have been different from others. Skill Challenges, for example, were always a part of something the players already wanted to do; navigate the Sylvanwood to find the Goblin camp, operate the ship to sail across the sea instead of going overland, disarm the blasting statue trap in the middle of combat with other golems, or convince the tyrant that he's overstepped his authority while fighting him.

    It seems a lot of people treated Skill Challenges like they were some sort of "mini game" that interrupted the course of the regular game (like Final Fantasy does), after which the players return to business as usual. I never treated them like that, and so my players never felt like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    It's the WAY I run my games that I am realizing may have been different from others. Skill Challenges, for example, were always a part of something the players already wanted to do; navigate the Sylvanwood to find the Goblin camp, operate the ship to sail across the sea instead of going overland, disarm the blasting statue trap in the middle of combat with other golems, or convince the tyrant that he's overstepped his authority while fighting him.

    It seems a lot of people treated Skill Challenges like they were some sort of "mini game" that interrupted the course of the regular game (like Final Fantasy does), after which the players return to business as usual. I never treated them like that, and so my players never felt like that.
    Exactly.

    And when I talked about having a set number of rolls... the point isn't that I "need" them. I've been running these silly games for forty years. But it can be nice, especially for newer GMs, to have some guidelines to prevent falling into one of the common probability traps that people do fall into - the most common being "roll until you succeed" and "roll until you fail".

    It's also about pacing - how long do we want to focus on this problem? Combat provides hit points as a guideline, but non-combat doens't have the equivalent. So if I say "yeah, this should be about 5 rolls" then that's just the amount of focus I want to give it. It means that any action either should progress the situation about 1/5th of the way, or shouldn't be rolled. But of course if somebody does something that shortcuts it (either way!) then that takes precedence. It's a guideline, not a straitjacket. It's really something I use to make sure that I'm playing fair and giving players a reasonable chance, and keeping things moving in a reasonable way.

    Note that it's perfectly valid to dislike aspects of the 4e implementation, but this concept is used in tons of games and can be helpful when approached properly. I think a lot has to do with how you approach it, as RedMage points out. I treat them (and similar) less as discrete "now we're doing this thing!" and more as a rough scaffolding over the players just doing.... stuff... to ensure pacing is reasonable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfunion View Post
    Itís amazing how long this discussion has gone. And of course, how much thought, theory crafting, and experiences people have expressed within this thread. Many of the discussions that have been going on in this thread, have been hard for me to follow or I canít even follow them whatsoever. Iím not sure what I could add anymore, so Iíll just continue to read. Gaining insight on my own attempts at redesigning 4e D&D.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    Fortunately, if you miss 4e Daily, you still get half the effect.
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