D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

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D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:11 pm UTC

D&D 5e, which WotC has been calling D&D Next for the past two or three years, is releasing soon, and is just called Dungeons and Dragons now, no qualifiers.

Any thoughts or opinions? (There's surprisingly little tabletop talk around here.)

IMO, from the latest playtest, it looks like it's really just D&D 3.75e, with some lip service paid to 2e fans in the form of randomization charts and making Feats optional. (Let's be honest, though, Feats aren't optional -- everyone who plays 5e is gonna play with Feats. It's not as if dudes who've been playing 2e their whole lives are gonna convert to 5e and play without Feats.)

Personally, I think 5e will be my new D&D home -- I'm really, really looking forward to it. 3e is my favorite but it's so broken, and a bit too fiddly, and the martial classes are ridiculously boring. 5e looks to solve all those problems handily.

I doubt I'll play any of the PHB races or classes, at least not straight. I never have in any previous edition of D&D; I always homebrew. The standard stuff is just too...vanilla? Limited? Something like that. Also, I can already predict that I'll have to play using moderately extensive house rules. Again, same is true of every previous edition. To me, any given version of D&D is like any given game in the Elder Scrolls series -- unplayable without mods, but when you DO mod it, an excellent experience.

I worry about WotC's stated goal for 5e; to unify all fans of previous editions under one banner. Let's face it, that's simply not going to happen. I'm a bit concerned they'll make some bad choices in the name of following that goal. I hope they abandon it and just focus on making 5e as fleshed-out without being crunchy and bloated as possible.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:40 pm UTC

One of my problems with 4e was the lack of a simple, beginner-friendly class like the traditional fighter - Essentials helped - stances are easier to pick up and handle, more intuitively appealing - but, while "change stance or hit something" is an easier choice than "choose between several at-will powers to hit something with" it's not as simple as "hit something"...

I'm not saying that all martial classes should be simple to play, but there have to be one or two easy classes as a hook for beginners, and martial is better suited for simplicity than, say, arcane...

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:52 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:One of my problems with 4e was the lack of a simple, beginner-friendly class like the traditional fighter - Essentials helped - stances are easier to pick up and handle, more intuitively appealing - but, while "change stance or hit something" is an easier choice than "choose between several at-will powers to hit something with" it's not as simple as "hit something"...

I'm not saying that all martial classes should be simple to play, but there have to be one or two easy classes as a hook for beginners, and martial is better suited for simplicity than, say, arcane...


Interesting. I found 4e highly simplistic, and all the classes effortlessly easy to play. They all follow utterly standardized progression and the game mechanics, while very slow to play, are very easy to understand. Indeed, that was Wizard's goal -- to make a very simple RPG that courts newcomers to the tabletop. There is, after all, not a small problem in tabletop RPGs of a lack of fresh blood.

Not sure 4e brought any newcomers to the hobby, but it was a very simple RPG.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:54 am UTC

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:One of my problems with 4e was the lack of a simple, beginner-friendly class like the traditional fighter - Essentials helped - stances are easier to pick up and handle, more intuitively appealing - but, while "change stance or hit something" is an easier choice than "choose between several at-will powers to hit something with" it's not as simple as "hit something"...

I'm not saying that all martial classes should be simple to play, but there have to be one or two easy classes as a hook for beginners, and martial is better suited for simplicity than, say, arcane...


Interesting. I found 4e highly simplistic, and all the classes effortlessly easy to play. They all follow utterly standardized progression and the game mechanics, while very slow to play, are very easy to understand. Indeed, that was Wizard's goal -- to make a very simple RPG that courts newcomers to the tabletop. There is, after all, not a small problem in tabletop RPGs of a lack of fresh blood.

Not sure 4e brought any newcomers to the hobby, but it was a very simple RPG.


There was simplification in some ways - every character class had the same mechanics, so if you wanted to understand how to play the game, all you needed to do was learn one class and you understood all of them. On the other hand, that meant that the simplest introduction to the game - handing someone a pregenerated character and throwing them into a room with some allies and some monsters - started out throwing more choices at them than the equivalent in earlier editions. When you're faced with 2 At-Wills, 2 Encounter Powers and 1 Daily and told to choose which to use against a Lesser Bugblatter, it's more confusing that being told "You have an axe. There's an enemy. What do you do?". If you're a non-4E Fighter, you simply "attack", and that's the right choice in most circumstances. With 4E, if you're a fighter, you don't "attack" - in fact, with pretty much any class, you never just "attack" - pre-Essentials, you "Cleave" or "Reaping Strike" or "Sure Strike" or "Tide of Iron"; Essentials, you adopt a stance and then "attack".

I taught 2nd Ed to quite a few people back in the day, and followed a pattern of one not-really-a-session to generate characters, followed by throwing them into the first session with no real rules explanation or in depth tutorials. More recently, I introduced some people to 4th ed using the Red Box. Character generation was much easier and less painful, but the transition to actual play was worse. Instead of "I attack" "Roll 1d20 and tell me the result and your THAC0" "15 and ... 20" "20 less 15 is 5. That's a hit. Roll... you're using your longsword, right? Roll 1d8" "5" "Okay, you killed your first kobold", it was "I attack" "Okay, are you using a stance?" "Uh...." "Would you rather hit harder or be more likely to hit?" "Uh... Hit harder, I guess" "Okay, so you use your Berserker's Fury stance to give you +2 to damage until you change stance or the fight ends. Roll 1d20 and add your strength bonus." ... etc... "Okay, you hit the kobold, but it doesn't seem to badly injured as it attacks you back."

That shows up two problems of 4th Ed - firstly that it doesn't have the intuitive nature of earlier editions where someone could pick up a pre-generated character and apply their common sense knowledge of combat and/or suitable fantasy tropes to take sensible actions from the moment they sit down - in video-game terms, instead of "click on monster to attack" you get "click on monster to open drop-down menu and select attack type" and then need to learn what the various attack types mean or have them explained by the tutorial - you never have a nice, simple, boring "attack" - it's always "attack with side-effect" and you have to choose which side-effect you want that round. The other problem is that combat just takes too long to get anywhere. Sure, rolling more dice per combat reduces the variance of the results relative to the expected outcomes, letting you design things more tightly, but it also means that even the simplest combat encounter takes ages - and you miss out on the immediate reward from the one-hit one-kill combat - rather than a new player defeating their first enemy within 30 seconds of sitting down, they've succeeded in wounding them not enough to make their metaphorical health bar change colour. To make matters worse, that initial decision of which power to use? You make the choice to hit harder, you hit, and, well, it has actually made a difference, but not one you'd notice - it means you defeat the monster in 3 hits rather than 4, but it still takes 2 hits to bloody it either way... Even worse yet, once you get into the details of the system and analyse the statistical benefit which is all either power gives you, you find that the two bonuses are pretty much equal for an average middle-of-the-road monster, so your initial decision wasn't even a real choice...

Yes, the mechanics are all pretty standard, but that doesn't mean that the newcomer to the hobby doesn't need to learn them - and 4E has a higher amount of required specialist knowledge before you can roll your first die than 2E or 3E.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:17 am UTC

I'm a big fan of what I've seen of 5e rules. You're right that it's basically 3.75, but in a better way than Pathfinder tried to do. Everything I've seen so far seems to just be a spiritual return to 3e rules, with a decade of experience in better mechanics under their belt.

My favorite part is the use of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. For one, it subsumes a whole bunch of fiddly bonuses/penalties into a single additional roll, making a lot of common things run faster. For two, I'm an absolute sucker for multi-dice min/max as a mechanic; I think it has a really good table feel. It doesn't boost your actual max, so you can't do *more* than you could before, you just do it *much more reliably*, as it's so much harder to roll badly and so much easier to roll well. (Or vice-versa - you can't do less, you just do the same stuff much worse.) Its "average bonus" of ~3.5 is also right about perfect for a standard "small but reasonable" bonus/penalty.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:40 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There was simplification in some ways - every character class had the same mechanics, so if you wanted to understand how to play the game, all you needed to do was learn one class and you understood all of them. On the other hand, that meant that the simplest introduction to the game - handing someone a pregenerated character and throwing them into a room with some allies and some monsters - started out throwing more choices at them than the equivalent in earlier editions. When you're faced with 2 At-Wills, 2 Encounter Powers and 1 Daily and told to choose which to use against a Lesser Bugblatter, it's more confusing that being told "You have an axe. There's an enemy. What do you do?". If you're a non-4E Fighter, you simply "attack", and that's the right choice in most circumstances. With 4E, if you're a fighter, you don't "attack" - in fact, with pretty much any class, you never just "attack" - pre-Essentials, you "Cleave" or "Reaping Strike" or "Sure Strike" or "Tide of Iron"; Essentials, you adopt a stance and then "attack".


Hmm. I guess I'm not seeing how 2 At-Wills, an Encounter and a Daily are overwhelming for newcomers. "You can use these any time, this once per battle, and this once per 'day,' which usually amounts to about four battles." Honestly, what I usually see trip people up is the concept of a 'day.'
"What, you mean like, as long as we're playing today, I can only use it once?"
"No, like an in-game day."
Which of course was a huge part of the mechanics back in 2/3e.

Also, importantly: "just attack" is super boring.

rmsgrey wrote:I taught 2nd Ed to quite a few people back in the day, and followed a pattern of one not-really-a-session to generate characters, followed by throwing them into the first session with no real rules explanation or in depth tutorials. More recently, I introduced some people to 4th ed using the Red Box. Character generation was much easier and less painful, but the transition to actual play was worse. Instead of "I attack" "Roll 1d20 and tell me the result and your THAC0" "15 and ... 20" "20 less 15 is 5. That's a hit. Roll... you're using your longsword, right? Roll 1d8" "5" "Okay, you killed your first kobold", it was "I attack" "Okay, are you using a stance?" "Uh...." "Would you rather hit harder or be more likely to hit?" "Uh... Hit harder, I guess" "Okay, so you use your Berserker's Fury stance to give you +2 to damage until you change stance or the fight ends. Roll 1d20 and add your strength bonus." ... etc... "Okay, you hit the kobold, but it doesn't seem to badly injured as it attacks you back."


Well, could that perhaps be due to you and not the system? You're so familiar with 2e, it's naturally easier for you to convey it to others. There's a lot of podcasts and videos available online of newcomers playing their first ever D&D game a 4e one, and they almost universally immediately get it. Specifically, I think, because 4e is so videogame-ish, and people are so familiar with videogames today.

rmsgrey wrote:That shows up two problems of 4th Ed - firstly that it doesn't have the intuitive nature of earlier editions where someone could pick up a pre-generated character and apply their common sense knowledge of combat and/or suitable fantasy tropes to take sensible actions from the moment they sit down - in video-game terms, instead of "click on monster to attack" you get "click on monster to open drop-down menu and select attack type" and then need to learn what the various attack types mean or have them explained by the tutorial - you never have a nice, simple, boring "attack" - it's always "attack with side-effect" and you have to choose which side-effect you want that round.


There actually are simple, boring, traditional basic attacks in 4e. Basic Melee Attack and Basic Ranged Attack, I believe. And they work just like in previous editions. The reason nobody ever used them was because they're boring. Okay, use them once to introduce a complete newcomer to the Attack Roll, Damage Roll dichotomy if you didn't explain anything to them at all before throwing them into a game. But if that's all they ever do, it becomes utter monotony.

Which is a massive problem with D&D editions other than 4. Sure, you might be able to use a Fighter to easily introduce a newcomer to the game, but once they realize, "wait, that's all I can do?" they'll never want to play a Fighter again. Indeed, gishes became so popular in 3e specifically because nobody ever wanted to be a Fighter because they were so mind-numbingly boring. And I don't think it's worth sacrificing an entire class just to be a newbie-friendly introductory class.

rmsgrey wrote:The other problem is that combat just takes too long to get anywhere. Sure, rolling more dice per combat reduces the variance of the results relative to the expected outcomes, letting you design things more tightly, but it also means that even the simplest combat encounter takes ages - and you miss out on the immediate reward from the one-hit one-kill combat - rather than a new player defeating their first enemy within 30 seconds of sitting down, they've succeeded in wounding them not enough to make their metaphorical health bar change colour. To make matters worse, that initial decision of which power to use? You make the choice to hit harder, you hit, and, well, it has actually made a difference, but not one you'd notice - it means you defeat the monster in 3 hits rather than 4, but it still takes 2 hits to bloody it either way... Even worse yet, once you get into the details of the system and analyse the statistical benefit which is all either power gives you, you find that the two bonuses are pretty much equal for an average middle-of-the-road monster, so your initial decision wasn't even a real choice...


Yeah, that's the biggie, as I see it -- combat in 4e is ridiculously slow. However, I think that's due as much to players trying to metagame-edly strategize as anything else. Those podcasts and stuff I mentioned? Far too often, a given player's turn sounds like this.

"Okay, let's see, what can I do. I guess I could move here, and probably take out that rat monster thingy. Oh, but then I'd provoke an Attack of Opportunity from that skeleton, nevermind. I could move over here to get into flanking with Rick, but then I wouldn't be able to attack anyone. Or I guess I could go see if I can disable that trap so we can get to those archers. No, wait -- (two, three, four, five) -- nevermind. I can't move far enough."
"You could do a double move action."
"Oh, right."
"No he couldn't, 'cause then he wouldn't have an action left to try to disarm the trap."
"Oh, yeah. Crap. Well, okay, I guess I'll just move right there and attack that skeleton."

Players sit there for minutes upon minutes considering aloud every single possible thing they could do, and discussing strategy with the other players. Which in itself is metagaming, of course.

The few 4e games I played, my DM nearly cried in joy when he saw me perform in combat. I roleplay in combat -- whatever I think my character would do, I just do it, no sitting there strategizing forever. When my turn comes up, it usually takes me about ten seconds to do something, then twenty to roll and add the dice. If more people played like that, speed wouldn't be as much of an issue. Especially considering Minions (1 HP -- they die as soon as you land a hit, and numerous classes have mutli-hit and some even area-of-effect At-Wills, so theoretically you could mow through an encounter super fast).

rmsgrey wrote:Yes, the mechanics are all pretty standard, but that doesn't mean that the newcomer to the hobby doesn't need to learn them - and 4E has a higher amount of required specialist knowledge before you can roll your first die than 2E or 3E.


I've...never heard anybody make that claim before. 3e is widely regarded as the most over-the-top crunchy, number-filled, ultra-complex incarnation of D&D that newcomers can't so much as approach without taking 6d6 Psychic damage.

I think it's more about how knowledgeable the DM is with that particular edition, and how they present the game to the players, than the system itself. 3e's ridiculous crunch being an exception.

Xanthir wrote:I'm a big fan of what I've seen of 5e rules. You're right that it's basically 3.75, but in a better way than Pathfinder tried to do. Everything I've seen so far seems to just be a spiritual return to 3e rules, with a decade of experience in better mechanics under their belt.

My favorite part is the use of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. For one, it subsumes a whole bunch of fiddly bonuses/penalties into a single additional roll, making a lot of common things run faster. For two, I'm an absolute sucker for multi-dice min/max as a mechanic; I think it has a really good table feel. It doesn't boost your actual max, so you can't do *more* than you could before, you just do it *much more reliably*, as it's so much harder to roll badly and so much easier to roll well. (Or vice-versa - you can't do less, you just do the same stuff much worse.) Its "average bonus" of ~3.5 is also right about perfect for a standard "small but reasonable" bonus/penalty.


Funny enough, Advantage/Disadvantage is one of the things I dislike about 5e. Aesthetically, I dislike the concept of rolling two d20s. It just feels so foreign and...wrong, somehow. I'm also no fan of dice-as-bonuses (so as you might guess I also don't like the new way Skills work).

True, 3e had a ridiculous number of potential modifiers, but cutting it down to simple advantage/disadvantage is going too far in the other direction, I think. Having the ability to have multiple bonuses is fun, if it's not overdone.

I mean, consider the following scenario -- I'm up against my Favored Enemy, who is Prone, and has a spell cast on him to weaken his defenses. I, meanwhile, have a height advantage, Flanking and the target doesn't see me. All of that amounts to a simple Advantage. Which is the exact same thing I'd get if my foe were merely Flatfooted.

There's no way to "stack" Advantage/Disadvantage in extreme scenarios, and even if we houseruled to allow 3d20 or 4d20 in extreme situations, that still doesn't increase the maximum I can roll, so it doesn't well reflect the supreme advantage I truly have. I should annihilate that favored enemy, no question, but if I roll a 4 and a 7 I may very well miss him.

Advantage/Disadvantage is definitely something I'm gonna wanna modify heavily through house rules in 5e.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:55 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Hmm. I guess I'm not seeing how 2 At-Wills, an Encounter and a Daily are overwhelming for newcomers. "You can use these any time, this once per battle, and this once per 'day,' which usually amounts to about four battles." Honestly, what I usually see trip people up is the concept of a 'day.'
"What, you mean like, as long as we're playing today, I can only use it once?"
"No, like an in-game day."
Which of course was a huge part of the mechanics back in 2/3e.

Also, importantly: "just attack" is super boring.


There are two things going on that make it unfriendly to new people - one is that you have a coin-flip choice right from the start - At-Will A or At-Will B - with no context to guide your choice. The other is that the names are obscure - do you want to bludge the quaffle or snitch the chaser?

"Just attack" is boring to you, but to a new player it's a lifeline - a familiar, comprehensible option in a sea of jargon. And some of my best times playing previous editions have been playing as a simple "Hit enemy. Repeat." character.

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I taught 2nd Ed to quite a few people back in the day, and followed a pattern of one not-really-a-session to generate characters, followed by throwing them into the first session with no real rules explanation or in depth tutorials. More recently, I introduced some people to 4th ed using the Red Box. Character generation was much easier and less painful, but the transition to actual play was worse.[...]


Well, could that perhaps be due to you and not the system? You're so familiar with 2e, it's naturally easier for you to convey it to others. There's a lot of podcasts and videos available online of newcomers playing their first ever D&D game a 4e one, and they almost universally immediately get it. Specifically, I think, because 4e is so videogame-ish, and people are so familiar with videogames today.


That might be true if I were teaching 2E or 3E today, but 15-20 years ago, when I was teaching 2E, I was a crappy teacher - there are so many things I've learned about introducing games to people since then - and my homebrew adventure literally consisted of "you've been hired to track and eliminate the group of monsters who've been preying on this village. After a couple of hours, you run into a group of them. Fight. After looting the corpses, you go round the corner and find a similar group of monsters. Fight. After gaining a level, and following the trail a bit further, you come across another group of higher-level monsters. Fight." Okay, I got a lot better pretty quickly after that, but I started out with a dungeon crawl without the dungeon, and that was enough to hook people in. 4E, I was using Wizards' own introductory module with a proper map and balanced encounters and an actual plot, and everything, was on top of the rules, and was a much better teacher in general.

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:That shows up two problems of 4th Ed - firstly that it doesn't have the intuitive nature of earlier editions where someone could pick up a pre-generated character and apply their common sense knowledge of combat and/or suitable fantasy tropes to take sensible actions from the moment they sit down - in video-game terms, instead of "click on monster to attack" you get "click on monster to open drop-down menu and select attack type" and then need to learn what the various attack types mean or have them explained by the tutorial - you never have a nice, simple, boring "attack" - it's always "attack with side-effect" and you have to choose which side-effect you want that round.


There actually are simple, boring, traditional basic attacks in 4e. Basic Melee Attack and Basic Ranged Attack, I believe. And they work just like in previous editions. The reason nobody ever used them was because they're boring. Okay, use them once to introduce a complete newcomer to the Attack Roll, Damage Roll dichotomy if you didn't explain anything to them at all before throwing them into a game. But if that's all they ever do, it becomes utter monotony.


Actually, I think the big reason Basic Attacks rarely get used is that they are strictly inferior to any class At-Will - pick pretty much any 1st level At-Will power and it might as well read "Basic Attack plus bonus X" - okay, some classes use a different stat for their attacks, so a high strength, low intelligence mage might be better off using a longsword basic melee rather than magic missile, but for characters whose stats line up with their class, class powers win.

King Author wrote:Which is a massive problem with D&D editions other than 4. Sure, you might be able to use a Fighter to easily introduce a newcomer to the game, but once they realize, "wait, that's all I can do?" they'll never want to play a Fighter again. Indeed, gishes became so popular in 3e specifically because nobody ever wanted to be a Fighter because they were so mind-numbingly boring. And I don't think it's worth sacrificing an entire class just to be a newbie-friendly introductory class.


Yes there is a design issue with characters being locked into a very narrow range of options during play, but your experience doesn't line up with mine here - like I said above, I've had good times with "Hit enemy. Repeat."

King Author wrote:Yeah, that's the biggie, as I see it -- combat in 4e is ridiculously slow. However, I think that's due as much to players trying to metagame-edly strategize as anything else. Those podcasts and stuff I mentioned? Far too often, a given player's turn sounds like this.

[...]

Players sit there for minutes upon minutes considering aloud every single possible thing they could do, and discussing strategy with the other players. Which in itself is metagaming, of course.

The few 4e games I played, my DM nearly cried in joy when he saw me perform in combat. I roleplay in combat -- whatever I think my character would do, I just do it, no sitting there strategizing forever. When my turn comes up, it usually takes me about ten seconds to do something, then twenty to roll and add the dice. If more people played like that, speed wouldn't be as much of an issue. Especially considering Minions (1 HP -- they die as soon as you land a hit, and numerous classes have mutli-hit and some even area-of-effect At-Wills, so theoretically you could mow through an encounter super fast).


Yeah, micromanaging players slow things down. Minions are a bad answer - they make a good way of giving Controllers some cannon-fodder to mop up as part of a mixed encounter, but if you're routinely doing pure-Minion encounters, that just means that the combat system is badly designed.

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:Yes, the mechanics are all pretty standard, but that doesn't mean that the newcomer to the hobby doesn't need to learn them - and 4E has a higher amount of required specialist knowledge before you can roll your first die than 2E or 3E.


I've...never heard anybody make that claim before. 3e is widely regarded as the most over-the-top crunchy, number-filled, ultra-complex incarnation of D&D that newcomers can't so much as approach without taking 6d6 Psychic damage.

I think it's more about how knowledgeable the DM is with that particular edition, and how they present the game to the players, than the system itself. 3e's ridiculous crunch being an exception.


Even in 3E, you can just start in to attack, roll a d20, add a pre-calculated bonus and tell the DM the result without having to choose which of two or more almost identical powers to use.

King Author wrote:Advantage/Disadvantage is definitely something I'm gonna wanna modify heavily through house rules in 5e.


Fair enough - it does address one of the biggest flaws in 3E - that you can keep adding numbers to anything indefinitely and reach the point where the difference between a high performer and a low performer is more than a d20 roll can cover.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:07 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:..." - in fact, with pretty much any class, you never just "attack" - pre-Essentials, you "Cleave" or "Reaping Strike" or "Sure Strike" or "Tide of Iron"; Essentials, you adopt a stance and then "attack".
Hmm. I guess I'm not seeing how 2 At-Wills, an Encounter and a Daily are overwhelming for newcomers. "You can use these any time, this once per battle, and this once per 'day,' which usually amounts to about four battles." Honestly, what I usually see trip people up is the concept of a 'day.'
....
Also, importantly: "just attack" is super boring.
Boring, perhaps. But useful as a "Yes, you can do this stuff.. you can also just attack. Or pee yourself. Or run away. Whatever you want to do, you can do...these powers are the 'useful' things you can do, but do whatever you want" guide.

..and quite frankly, if you are playing the class of smashing things and there aren't situations that "just attack" isn't tied for or is the optimal choice for the situation - your shit is too complicated. Dumb it down.

The major problem I had with the couple of games of 4th I played were that it ran exactly like World of Warcraft. Fire the Per Combat ability at the beginning, save the Daily for the Boss, spam the At-Wills. I could basically see the 30 second cooldown timer.

King Author wrote:I've...never heard anybody make that claim before. 3e is widely regarded as the most over-the-top crunchy, number-filled, ultra-complex incarnation of D&D that newcomers can't so much as approach without taking 6d6 Psychic damage.

I think it's more about how knowledgeable the DM is with that particular edition, and how they present the game to the players, than the system itself. 3e's ridiculous crunch being an exception.


...what?

It doesn't even compare to 2E's kit madness. I mean, I'll agree that especially at the end there was way too much going on with PrCs and new feats and you basically "had" to have sixteen books to build the ultimate combat machine, but it's nowhere near as complex as 2E was.

I never played the basic sets, but I have read some of the books - 1st Ed AD&D only seems to not be a competitor in the Most Complicated race not because it wasn't more complicated than the rest of them, but simply because it was replaced by 2E before it really got going.

3.X was streamlined, just had too much power creep that made it's base classes useless after the first few years had passed. 4th ... like I said, I didn't play a lot of it, but it seemed less streamlined (which is good) and more ...dumbed down and restricted (which is bad). Can't say I blame them - trying to streamline and accidentally dumbing down happens all the time.

At any rate, I haven't even been following it. 4th left that bad of a taste and Pathfinder replaced D&D so nicely that... I'm just not interested.


...and if I wanted to fight Minions, I'd play Fung Shui.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:07 pm UTC

@rmsgrey: Hmm. I get the feeling your experiences are the atypical ones, and you're letting your love of 2E cloud your ability to judge it fairly. Heh, as someone without strong ties to any one version of D&D, my opinions irk people of all three major editions.
2E: Lack of character customization, boring combat, THAC0 is godawful.
3E: Preposterously complex modifiers to keep track of, several completely broken mechanics.
4E: Soul-deadening standardization, progress is meaningless, combat is glacially slow.

I didn't even realize that second one about 4E until I read a blog post that demonstrated it mathematically; since 4E is essentially perfectly mechanically balanced, relative to the obstacles you face, you never actually get any better; a 1st Level character and 30th Level character are effectively identical, save the magnitude of the numbers they're dealing with.

And I actually personally never had a problem with 3E's utterly broken aspects, because I always only ever played with cool dudes who either didn't know the system well enough to break it, or simply chose not to. Though there is still the problem that you only need one character with high Charisma and Skill Points dumped into Diplomacy to breeze through any social interaction, allowing every other character to focus purely on their ideal combat build.

My first exposure to D&D was 2E in the form of Baldur's Gate II. Even though I'd never had any previous experience with D&D, the rules somehow already felt archaic and dust-covered. The flavor, though...so good. The AD&D 2E Players Handbook is the best gaming book I've ever picked up. It's a joy to read through it, even if you're not going to play the game. It's like firing up the NES; primitive, yes, but there's a special joy you get from its quaintness that's simply not present in modern systems.

Uh, but back to 5E, which is what this topic's supposed to be about -- I definitely see the Advantage/Disadvantage rule (as well as the new Skills system) as mechanically superior, as steps forward for the system. I dunno, I guess I just dislike the idea of rolling any extra dice alongside the monolithic 1d20 that's formed the backbone of the system for, what, decades now?

SecondTaIon wrote:..and quite frankly, if you are playing the class of smashing things and there aren't situations that "just attack" isn't tied for or is the optimal choice for the situation - your shit is too complicated. Dumb it down.


SecondTaIon wrote:3.X was streamlined, just had too much power creep that made it's base classes useless after the first few years had passed. 4th ... like I said, I didn't play a lot of it, but it seemed less streamlined (which is good) and more ...dumbed down and restricted (which is bad). Can't say I blame them - trying to streamline and accidentally dumbing down happens all the time.


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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:46 pm UTC

There's two more words that change the context. But yes, let's focus on that and ignore everything else I said.

Still, I'll stand by that - if just hitting something isn't a valid option as the "Hitting things" class, you fucked up somewhere and added way too many options and abilities and maneuvers. Dumb that shit down.

And yes, 4th felt dumbed down and restricted. The last two words are the bigger factor than the fifth and sixth in that sentence.

Take Dual Strike. First level fighter power, lets you hit two different enemies with two different weapons, one in each hand. Why can't you just *do* that, with some sort of penalty or whatever, and then have the Dual Strike power remove the penalty? Why do I need Knockdown Assault to even try to knock someone over?

Shit's too restricting.

Dumbing Down is not streamlining. Neither one is inherently bad, though Dumbing Down can go wrong faster, and as it's easy to think you're streamlining when you're dumbing down, it's easy to make mistakes as you think you're doing one thing but are actually doing another.

Here - Streamlining is not unlike BAB - it's taking a bunch of numbers that are routinely added together and going ahead and giving that result an official name. Dumbing Down is making it so that all the attributes and experience levels for classes all use the same formula, so you don't have to look up the same sort of stuff all the time, like whether or not the Rogue is going to level to 7 while everyone else is still a good 1000 XP from level 6. Streamlining is making skills use the same basic formula. Dumbing Down is only having three or four numbers matter for that skill check.

Dumbing shit down isn't inherently bad. Dumbing down and restricting is. Note the difference in those two statements. Also note that Dumbing Down can be replaced by Streamlining and the statements remain true.

Here, just naked Restricting would be "Non-martial classes can no longer attempt combat manuvers because fuck you that's why they should be casting spells or sneak attacking". And it's also moronic as there's no reasoning. Dumbing down and restricting is "Only people with the Knockdown Attack power can ever attempt to knock someone down. Says so right in the power name"
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:10 pm UTC

King Author wrote:@rmsgrey: Hmm. I get the feeling your experiences are the atypical ones, and you're letting your love of 2E cloud your ability to judge it fairly. Heh, as someone without strong ties to any one version of D&D, my opinions irk people of all three major editions.
2E: Lack of character customization, boring combat, THAC0 is godawful.
3E: Preposterously complex modifiers to keep track of, several completely broken mechanics.
4E: Soul-deadening standardization, progress is meaningless, combat is glacially slow.


Nah, every time I feel nostalgia creeping in, I go back and re-read the 2E PHB.

Personally, I don't have a problem with THAC0, but then, I'm actually numerate - I recognise that most of the population is innumerate to some degree or other (and often proud of it for some reason) so THAC0 is a bad design once you deal with the general population rather than math geeks.

Mechanical imbalances are "corrected" by flavour - Paladins are one-man armies, which totally outclass the other Warrior classes, and are overall better than any other class except Wizards at high enough levels, in addition to automatically having insanely good stats just to be allowed to choose the class in the first place, meaning that the worst Paladin, converted into a Fighter, would be way above average. Okay, it's hard to roll well enough to become a Paladin in the first place, but, once you have, you then dominate combat. What keeps the Paladin in check? His alignment and requirement to tithe. If you're playing a rich, intrigue-driven game, then, sure, a code of honour and penalty to income combine with the general irrelevance of combat ability to keep the Paladin under control. If you're playing a dungeon crawl, with black-and-white "they're monsters, so slay them" morality, then the Paladin is seriously broken.

And don't get me started on the Druid hierarchy...

Having characters level at different rates, with race-dependent level caps, and all the mess of dual- and multi- classing was a total mess - the 3E "characters all gain levels at the same rate. Each time you gain a character level, you may assign it to any class you qualify for" was a giant leap forward - it streamlined the level-gaining mechanics and made possible a lot of the customisation (and brokenness) of 3E characters.


But something 2E had that 4E didn't was the option for a new player to take a "hit things" character and use them to hit things without needing to make choices about how to hit them. Letting players do the obvious thing and have it be a reasonable choice is good design; having the obvious thing be a bad choice is bad design unless there's an overriding reason for things to be otherwise.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:19 am UTC

@SecondTaIon: Ah yeah, that pretty much makes sense. Although you're still sending mixed messages. You say, "4E's various maneuvers are stupid, the focus should be regular attacks" but then turn around and say "everyone should be able to do the 4E Fighter's maneuvers."

Which is it? Do you think Fighters should be doing nothing but endless "roll d20 to hit; roll damage" and have no other options because those other options are stupid, or do you think there should be lots of different interesting basic combat maneuvers to do in combat, but everyone should have access to them?

(Also, for clarification, you've got no argument from me that D&D's basic combat mechanic is crap. 5E doesn't seem to be fixing that, although it also doesn't get in the way, so homebrewing to fix it should be pretty easy. And my own homebrew fix will basically be what you say -- let everyone try any reasonable action in combat, the Fighter is just better at it.)

rmsgrey wrote:Personally, I don't have a problem with THAC0, but then, I'm actually numerate - I recognise that most of the population is innumerate to some degree or other (and often proud of it for some reason) so THAC0 is a bad design once you deal with the general population rather than math geeks.


I want you to take solace in the fact that that doesn't sound self-aggrandizing or elitist in the least.

rmsgrey wrote:But something 2E had that 4E didn't was the option for a new player to take a "hit things" character and use them to hit things without needing to make choices about how to hit them. Letting players do the obvious thing and have it be a reasonable choice is good design; having the obvious thing be a bad choice is bad design unless there's an overriding reason for things to be otherwise.


For someone who claims to be a numerate, the fact that you think that two At-Wills presents an overwhelming, overly complex labyrinth of choices for new players seems incongruous. Especially since you maintain that the choice between At-Wills is meaningless. Neither position strikes me as true. Certainly, you say it's true in your experiences, but I think you're giving your experiences too much weight.

My opinions are borne far more from watching/listening to other peoples games than to my own games. Unless by some grand coincidence, everyone who ever made a D&D 4E podcast or vidcast of a session was a super genius, your claims don't hold water. For most people, 4E presents the lowest learning curve of any incarnation of D&D.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:29 am UTC

I'm saying that things a layperson could attempt against another layperson and have a reasonable chance of success should be options for everyone. If you want to specialize in it, take feats, take powers, take skills, take schticks, kits, packs, embers, foci, channels, bloodlines - whatever you want to call it - and be awesome at it. A layperson with a sword should be able to disarm (crudely knock it out of the hands) another layperson with a sword maybe 25% of the time. It's not a go-to, but it's something to attempt And have a reasonable chance at success. A layperson can try (and utterly fail) to disarm a trained user, and a trained disarmed should be able to disarm a layperson with pretty much 100% chance of success. A disarm master would disarm the layperson AND the person next to them.

Charging in to someone to knock them over? Anyone can do that. Strike to people in one blow? Aka cleave? I actually think that should be an option, just really hard. Strike three people? That's outside the realm of the layperson. But not the trained.

So yes - everyone should be able to do a large chunk of the fighter's options with limited to low success. The fighter should do them with excellent to certain success. That's why the fighter is the fighter - because they're good at it.

I will agree that 4E is the easiest incarnation so far. It's also the most limiting. Yes, D&D has always been a dungeon crawler with non-combat bits tacked on to varying levels of success, but there's always been the ability for a clever player to subvert the combat bits and make pacifist characters that succeed, or cowards who are nevertheless useful to the party and so on. Spells, for example.

Looked to me that everything that wasn't directly combat related was removed. That seems a shame, as half the role playing opportunities come from abuse of spells.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby maybeagnostic » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:24 pm UTC

The only specific information I can find about the 5e release dates was here- seems the player's handbook is scheduled for release August 15th. I can barely believe we're this close to release and I only hear about it now. All my other tabletop playing friends must've also given up on it.

As for previous editions, 4e really put me off the game. I tried it several times with different groups and all the games ended up being boring and short lived. Every single one was abandoned mid-fight too (usually the first fight that we couldn't complete in a full gaming session) so there's that. I've been trying out different systems since and I might have a hard time getting back to DnD but I expect I'll give 5e a shot.

3e/3.5/Pathfinder have some very serious issues but I've learned to work around them as a storyteller. Last time I tried GMing a Pathfinder game, the party had a level 6 dwarven fighter that would routinely one-shot CR 10 enemies. That character was about on par with the others though so Pathfinder seems to have "fixed" the warrior classes by making them equally interesting to optimizers which was my main problem with them in vanilla 3e so... success?

The closest I've ever come to 2e is playing Baldur's Gate II (and some of I but that was a long time ago). So after playing through that game once and directly asking several experienced 2e players, I could never figure out how THAC0 works. After reading this topic, it looks like it's as simple as "Roll >= THAC0 means hit." Is it really so trivial?

True, 3e had a ridiculous number of potential modifiers, but cutting it down to simple advantage/disadvantage is going too far in the other direction, I think.

Diminishing returns on advantages is definitely the way to go but it's difficult to pull that off without increasing complexity (and requiring a pile of d20s under the current system).

I'm also no fan of dice-as-bonuses (so as you might guess I also don't like the new way Skills work).

I actually haven't read any of the play test materials. What are they doing with the skill system?
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby karhell » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:28 pm UTC

maybeagnostic wrote:The closest I've ever come to 2e is playing Baldur's Gate II (and some of I but that was a long time ago). So after playing through that game once and directly asking several experienced 2e players, I could never figure out how THAC0 works. After reading this topic, it looks like it's as simple as "Roll >= THAC0 means hit." Is it really so trivial?

As far as I remember (same experience with 2e), it's roll >= (THAC0 - Target AC) = Hit
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Chen » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:28 pm UTC

Yes it is that trivial. THAC0 is the acronym for "To hit armor class 0". It's the number you need to roll on a D20 to hit armor class 0. Since high AC was bad, it made sense that you subtracted AC from that target number to determine what you had to beat to hit someone.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:28 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:Personally, I don't have a problem with THAC0, but then, I'm actually numerate - I recognise that most of the population is innumerate to some degree or other (and often proud of it for some reason) so THAC0 is a bad design once you deal with the general population rather than math geeks.


I want you to take solace in the fact that that doesn't sound self-aggrandizing or elitist in the least.


I teach maths for a living. The general "innumerate and proud" attitude is a problem I have to recognise and deal with in order to do my job.

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:But something 2E had that 4E didn't was the option for a new player to take a "hit things" character and use them to hit things without needing to make choices about how to hit them. Letting players do the obvious thing and have it be a reasonable choice is good design; having the obvious thing be a bad choice is bad design unless there's an overriding reason for things to be otherwise.


For someone who claims to be a numerate, the fact that you think that two At-Wills presents an overwhelming, overly complex labyrinth of choices for new players seems incongruous. Especially since you maintain that the choice between At-Wills is meaningless. Neither position strikes me as true. Certainly, you say it's true in your experiences, but I think you're giving your experiences too much weight.


I just got done saying that I'm unusual in that I don't have a problem with THAC0, so I don't see what my being numerate has to do with whether new players find a choice between two subtly different flavours
of attack more confusing than having one option labelled "attack". My goal in teaching new players is to get them playing with a minimum of rules explanation, and let them learn by doing. With 4E, either I have to explain enough about how combat works to let them make an informed choice between At-Wills, or I have to tell them to just pick one at random. Either way, it's an additional step, and additional knowledge required, before they can claim their first success.

It's all about leveraging intuition and empowering the player from the beginning, letting them get hooked and then start learning the additional complexities - maybe sometimes a Bull Rush is better than a basic attack but your basic attack will should be a sensible option under most circumstances.

And the choice between an At-Will that's a basic attack at +2 to hit and one that's a basic attack plus 3 damage to another nearby monster is not an obvious one most of the time - the latter lets you take out two minions for one attack, but, against monsters with hit points, the +2 to hit gives a flat +0.75 to expected damage (assuming longsword and 16-strength) compared to a basic attack unless you already only need a 2+ or 3+ to hit, while the 3 damage to a neighbouring monster gives you +3 * your chance of hitting to expected damage, breaking even at a 1/4 chance of a hit (or needing 16+ - AC 19). For pure damage over time, Cleave beats Sure Strike so long as you have a supply of secondary targets (since AC 19 is unlikely to come up in initial combats), but Sure Strike has the advantage that the additional damage applies to the same target, so you'll take as much damage from your first target using Cleave as using Basic Attack, but less when using Sure Strike.

In Essentials, the choice of Battle Wrath or Poised Assault is +2 to damage or +1 to attack, the latter giving +0.375 to expected damage per attack; the former +2*hit chance - +0.4 when you need 17+; +0.3 for 18+. If you use a Greataxe (1d12 damage) instead of a Longsword (1d8), the numbers flip, and the break-even is needing a roll of 10.5 or an AC of 13.5.

To get a more definitive answer, you need to also take into account monster HP and look at the expected number of attacks to kill a given monster rather than expected damage over time since that will give you the number of attacks they'll get to make against you.

Even so, for a level-appropriate encounter, the difference between the two At-Wills is, on average, less than half a point of damage per attack, or shortening combat by rather less than one round. It's been too long since I had the numbers to hand, but, if an average combat takes 10 rounds and about half the party's total HP, then consistently choosing the wrong At-Will will cost you, on average, something like 1 Healing Surge every 5-10 encounters - if memory serves, about the same rate as you gain levels, so consistently choosing the wrong At-Will at every opportunity will mean you spend an extra healing surge about as often as you gain a character level - choose randomly between them, or alternate, and it'll cost you half that... And that's assuming you never use Encounter or Daily powers... Like I said, the choice between At-Wills is pretty meaningless most of the time.

King Author wrote:My opinions are borne far more from watching/listening to other peoples games than to my own games. Unless by some grand coincidence, everyone who ever made a D&D 4E podcast or vidcast of a session was a super genius, your claims don't hold water. For most people, 4E presents the lowest learning curve of any incarnation of D&D.


I'm not talking about the overall learning curve - a lot of the lowering comes from every class using the exact same mechanics, so you only need to learn the details of their specific powers rather than having classes with entire new mechanics, which only becomes relevant if you're playing more than one character class. Wizards and Priests are both simpler in 4E than they were in earlier editions. The DM's side of things is much simpler in 4E - which is another massive lowering of the overall learning curve which has nothing to do with what I've been talking about.

I've been talking about a specific aspect of the game - the barriers to entry for an RPG virgin with an experienced DM - the point at which you recruit a new person to the hobby. If the first step on the learning curve is too steep - if there's no easy entry point - then it's harder to get new players involved. And that's what I've been complaining about about 4th Edition - that the simplest introduction to the game is more complex than in previous versions - that there isn't a "boring" class to let people get the hang of things more gradually.


maybeagnostic wrote:The closest I've ever come to 2e is playing Baldur's Gate II (and some of I but that was a long time ago). So after playing through that game once and directly asking several experienced 2e players, I could never figure out how THAC0 works. After reading this topic, it looks like it's as simple as "Roll >= THAC0 means hit." Is it really so trivial?


Not quite. If you roll >= your THAC0, you hit something with AC 0 or higher. To hit AC 2, you'd need to roll >= THAC0 - 2 and so on. Your THAC0 is the number you have to roll To Hit Armour Class 0. To work out what AC you hit with a given roll, you work out {THAC0 - roll} and you hit that AC or higher (AC 10 is a naked human; AC -10 is about the best armour you can get; AC 0 is full plate plus shield - the best non-magical armour available).

The main quirk of the system is that high THAC0 and high AC are both bad.

If you want a way of working out whether you hit that doesn't involve subtraction, then it's "Roll + target's AC >= your THAC0 means hit" - THAC0 is a difficulty number, and AC is a bonus or penalty to attempts to hit you - the opposite of later versions where AC is a target number and you have an attack bonus.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby mosc » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:11 pm UTC

Man, I wish I knew people who still played D&D to have this type of meta-discussion with. I envy you guys.

D&D is the ultimate social game from my perspective. Collectively telling a story. Dice elements are random chance, important but abstract. I find D&D's more recent forms insanely over the top. Strategic combat in a role playing session to be in bad taste entirely. A lot of times, I've preferred sessions where ALL dice rolling actions are performed by the DM. Players should say things like "I attack the skeleton" and the dm should say "You hit him and he looks hurt but still deadly". Noting how far you are, what different types of attacks you have, all that isn't role playing. Combat taking a considerable time in your game means role playing is NOT taking considerable time in your game. I favor dialog between characters, portrayed by the DM or other players, as the primary action in a tabletop game. If I wanted strategic combat, I'd play a board game. They're much better suited to that concept and nobody needs to talk in character.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:30 pm UTC

I disagree with the combat v roleplaying time. A single six hour session that's 2-4 back to back combats doesn't mean the next session isn't 6 hour of roleplaying.

But I suppose that's an argument over just what "considerable time" means.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:21 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Man, I wish I knew people who still played D&D to have this type of meta-discussion with. I envy you guys.

D&D is the ultimate social game from my perspective. Collectively telling a story. Dice elements are random chance, important but abstract. I find D&D's more recent forms insanely over the top. Strategic combat in a role playing session to be in bad taste entirely. A lot of times, I've preferred sessions where ALL dice rolling actions are performed by the DM. Players should say things like "I attack the skeleton" and the dm should say "You hit him and he looks hurt but still deadly". Noting how far you are, what different types of attacks you have, all that isn't role playing. Combat taking a considerable time in your game means role playing is NOT taking considerable time in your game. I favor dialog between characters, portrayed by the DM or other players, as the primary action in a tabletop game. If I wanted strategic combat, I'd play a board game. They're much better suited to that concept and nobody needs to talk in character.


If you want that sort of experience, I'd suggest looking into some of the other p/p RPG systems out there - D&D, for all its strengths, is heavily combat-centric, and has only drifted more into tabletop minature wargaming over the editions I've played. Call of Cthulhu, or the White Wolf Storytelling system are big-name, fairly heavy systems with less emphasis on combat.

For a much lighter ruleset, you might want to look at Fate: http://www.faterpg.com/ (core rules are available for whatever (non-negative integer) multiple of $5 you choose to pay).

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:36 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Man, I wish I knew people who still played D&D to have this type of meta-discussion with. I envy you guys.

D&D is the ultimate social game from my perspective. Collectively telling a story. Dice elements are random chance, important but abstract. I find D&D's more recent forms insanely over the top. Strategic combat in a role playing session to be in bad taste entirely. A lot of times, I've preferred sessions where ALL dice rolling actions are performed by the DM. Players should say things like "I attack the skeleton" and the dm should say "You hit him and he looks hurt but still deadly". Noting how far you are, what different types of attacks you have, all that isn't role playing. Combat taking a considerable time in your game means role playing is NOT taking considerable time in your game. I favor dialog between characters, portrayed by the DM or other players, as the primary action in a tabletop game. If I wanted strategic combat, I'd play a board game. They're much better suited to that concept and nobody needs to talk in character.


5e should be somewhat better for you then. Die rolling is still distributed between players and DM, but it's...trimmed down quite a bit. Even compared to 3.x*, it's much faster and cleaner. 4e was basically not D&D. It was a tabletop squad fantasy combat simulator....which is cool if that's what you're into, but it had a very different feel than previous editions. And it was *very* combat centric. 5e's much more elegant.

However, I would actually suggest you play DCC. It's pared down enough that, at least initially, you can get four char sheets to a page of paper. Mechanics still exist, so it's not freeform, but decisions matter a great deal more than stats. Plus, very solid production quality. Modules tend to come with excellent maps, great art, a nice theme, and sometimes handouts/props.

*And I love the crap out of 3.x

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Chen » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:45 am UTC

Do casters still "rule the roost" so to speak in this new incarnation? Not even talking about combat, but just in general versatility? There were tons of and tons of spell back in 3.5 that let Wizards deal with all sorts of out of combat problems themselves. The fact that they were also pretty much the best IN combat made this much worse. Is there more balance now? I assume combat is somewhat more balanced, but is out of combat still a place where magic just completely overshadows the mundanes?

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:36 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Do casters still "rule the roost" so to speak in this new incarnation? Not even talking about combat, but just in general versatility? There were tons of and tons of spell back in 3.5 that let Wizards deal with all sorts of out of combat problems themselves. The fact that they were also pretty much the best IN combat made this much worse. Is there more balance now? I assume combat is somewhat more balanced, but is out of combat still a place where magic just completely overshadows the mundanes?


3.5 PF had a scaling issue, really. At level 1, barbarian, etc just wins*. In time, casters come to dominate all. It was a holdover from games with high mortality, where that sort of "balance" made sense, because really high odds of death was actually a legitimate concern. This didn't work out because if you spend three hours building a char, your DM isn't gonna want to kill you in the first fight.

I anticipate that, if this problem still exists, it will be mitigated by the quicker char creation time and somewhat higher lethality. It seems to be *more* equal, but it's hard to tell right now going just off the starter box, which only covers level 1-5, given that even in 3.5, the problem didn't really manifest until above then.

*Mostly. I used to be heavily into char optimization, and still have most of 3.5 loaded into memory.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Xanthir » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:37 am UTC

5e spells do seem a little scaled down at high levels; at least what was revealed in the first kit was *mostly* combat and a little utility. They're much better at the "quirky" spells now, too (a decade of experience with Polymorph is valuable when trying to make a non-broken one).

Non-MUs also seem to be a good bit more powerful. The fighter, for instance, just straight up gets extra attacks, no penalty or full-attack or anything, so it's a straight damage multiplier on their attack basically. From the Champion or whatever class kit it looks like they've got a good chunk of healing and defense built-in, too, so they're less dependent on the MUs doing everything.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:19 am UTC

SecondTaIon wrote:I'm saying that things a layperson could attempt against another layperson and have a reasonable chance of success should be options for everyone. If you want to specialize in it, take feats, take powers, take skills, take schticks, kits, packs, embers, foci, channels, bloodlines - whatever you want to call it - and be awesome at it. A layperson with a sword should be able to disarm (crudely knock it out of the hands) another layperson with a sword maybe 25% of the time. It's not a go-to, but it's something to attempt And have a reasonable chance at success. A layperson can try (and utterly fail) to disarm a trained user, and a trained disarmed should be able to disarm a layperson with pretty much 100% chance of success. A disarm master would disarm the layperson AND the person next to them.

Charging in to someone to knock them over? Anyone can do that. Strike to people in one blow? Aka cleave? I actually think that should be an option, just really hard. Strike three people? That's outside the realm of the layperson. But not the trained.

So yes - everyone should be able to do a large chunk of the fighter's options with limited to low success. The fighter should do them with excellent to certain success. That's why the fighter is the fighter - because they're good at it.

I will agree that 4E is the easiest incarnation so far. It's also the most limiting. Yes, D&D has always been a dungeon crawler with non-combat bits tacked on to varying levels of success, but there's always been the ability for a clever player to subvert the combat bits and make pacifist characters that succeed, or cowards who are nevertheless useful to the party and so on. Spells, for example.

Looked to me that everything that wasn't directly combat related was removed. That seems a shame, as half the role playing opportunities come from abuse of spells.


Agree 100%. Also lolled hard for some reason at "he should be able to disarm him AND the guy standing next to him." Made me think of American Dad. "I was SO invited, it invited everyone around me."

maybeagnostic wrote:The only specific information I can find about the 5e release dates was here- seems the player's handbook is scheduled for release August 15th. I can barely believe we're this close to release and I only hear about it now. All my other tabletop playing friends must've also given up on it.


Haha, whoa. People've been talking about 5e since late 2011!

maybeagnostic wrote:As for previous editions, 4e really put me off the game. I tried it several times with different groups and all the games ended up being boring and short lived. Every single one was abandoned mid-fight too (usually the first fight that we couldn't complete in a full gaming session) so there's that. I've been trying out different systems since and I might have a hard time getting back to DnD but I expect I'll give 5e a shot.


It takes a really good DM, familiar players and some house ruling, but 4e CAN be done really, really well, despite all its many flaws...
http://podbay.fm/show/327725953
(Start with #5: In the Streets of Moonhold, and fastforward to around 20 minutes. Best D&D podcast ever, best 4e podcast ever, best RPG podcast ever. It's crazy how good it is, and the way the DM handles Skill Contests is soooooo good.)

maybeagnostic wrote:The closest I've ever come to 2e is playing Baldur's Gate II (and some of I but that was a long time ago). So after playing through that game once and directly asking several experienced 2e players, I could never figure out how THAC0 works. After reading this topic, it looks like it's as simple as "Roll >= THAC0 means hit." Is it really so trivial?


Yes, kinda.
Take your THAC0.
Apply the opponent's Armor Class.
Roll a d20 and meet or beat that modified number to score a hit.

It's not that it's complex, it's that it's preposterously unintuitive (having high AC is bad for you; decent low-level characters should have 0, -1 or -2 AC), it requires addition or subtraction depending (which trips people up), it's slow, it requires looking up crap on a chart, etc. It's a freaking mess, and the only people who defend it are 2e fogeys who, because they love the game overall (which I do, too), can't admit how horrible THAC0 is.

I mean, I can't even imagine how someone would come up with THAC0 in the first place. Subtracting negatives? Seriously?

maybeagnostic wrote:I actually haven't read any of the play test materials. What are they doing with the skill system?


You don't have Skill Points, but instead, Skill Dice. When you use a Skill, you roll a d20 plus you roll your Skill Dice for the related Skill. It just feels so wrong to roll a d20 alongside a dX.

Your Skill Die starts off at d6 and increases to d8, d10 then d12 as you level up. Which I also dislike, because that means highly skilled characters never become more consistant; their maximum increases but not their minimum.

Chen wrote:Yes it is that trivial. THAC0 is the acronym for "To hit armor class 0". It's the number you need to roll on a D20 to hit armor class 0. Since high AC was bad, it made sense that you subtracted AC from that target number to determine what you had to beat to hit someone.


"Made sense" and "THAC0" are illegal to use in the same sentence. The cops will be arriving shortly.

rmsgrey wrote:I teach maths for a living. The general "innumerate and proud" attitude is a problem I have to recognise and deal with in order to do my job.


Students are generally contrary and think school-related stuff is "gay," it's not specific to math. Go ask the history teacher if his students respect history.

rmsgrey wrote:Not quite. If you roll >= your THAC0, you hit something with AC 0 or higher. To hit AC 2, you'd need to roll >= THAC0 - 2 and so on. Your THAC0 is the number you have to roll To Hit Armour Class 0. To work out what AC you hit with a given roll, you work out {THAC0 - roll} and you hit that AC or higher (AC 10 is a naked human; AC -10 is about the best armour you can get; AC 0 is full plate plus shield - the best non-magical armour available).

The main quirk of the system is that high THAC0 and high AC are both bad.

If you want a way of working out whether you hit that doesn't involve subtraction, then it's "Roll + target's AC >= your THAC0 means hit" - THAC0 is a difficulty number, and AC is a bonus or penalty to attempts to hit you - the opposite of later versions where AC is a target number and you have an attack bonus.


And you seriously think that's more newbie-friendly than 4e?

mosc wrote:Man, I wish I knew people who still played D&D to have this type of meta-discussion with. I envy you guys.

D&D is the ultimate social game from my perspective. Collectively telling a story. Dice elements are random chance, important but abstract. I find D&D's more recent forms insanely over the top. Strategic combat in a role playing session to be in bad taste entirely. A lot of times, I've preferred sessions where ALL dice rolling actions are performed by the DM. Players should say things like "I attack the skeleton" and the dm should say "You hit him and he looks hurt but still deadly". Noting how far you are, what different types of attacks you have, all that isn't role playing. Combat taking a considerable time in your game means role playing is NOT taking considerable time in your game. I favor dialog between characters, portrayed by the DM or other players, as the primary action in a tabletop game. If I wanted strategic combat, I'd play a board game. They're much better suited to that concept and nobody needs to talk in character.


You should look into other systems. White Wolf's various games (Vampire: The Masquerade, Hunter: The Awakened, etc.) are much more "focus on the roleplaying, gloss over the combat" than D&D. Maybe give the Dresden Files RPG a look. I listened to a pretty awesome podcast about it once...
http://kotnpodcast.blogspot.com/p/dresden-rpg.html
Can't remember which of those it was, I just remember the first or second session, they found a dead body whose insides were replaced by honeycomb, like some crazy mutant bees had turned the corpse into a hive.

Chen wrote:Do casters still "rule the roost" so to speak in this new incarnation? Not even talking about combat, but just in general versatility? There were tons of and tons of spell back in 3.5 that let Wizards deal with all sorts of out of combat problems themselves. The fact that they were also pretty much the best IN combat made this much worse. Is there more balance now? I assume combat is somewhat more balanced, but is out of combat still a place where magic just completely overshadows the mundanes?


IMO, spellcasters will be much, much more balanced in 5e. They redid the spellcasting system entirely. Basically, Wizards get Spell Slots for spells of various levels (1st through 9th) as they level up. A 1st Level Wizard has 2 1st Level Spell Slots, a 7th Level Wizard has 4 1st, 3 2nd and 3rd and 1 4th Level Slot, up to a 20th Level Wizard which has 4/3/3/3/2/1/1/1/1.

When you cast a Spell, you have to use up a place in a Spell Slot of at least as high a level as the spell, although you can use up a higher-level slot to enhance some spells. For instace, Magic Missile is a 1st Level spell, but you could use a 3rd Level slot and it'd do more damage.

The point is, by default, a 20th Level Wizard can only cast one each 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Spell per day. So that alone is a major scaleback from 3.X. In the playtest, there was no way to get more Spell Slots.

And a lot of the actual spells have been toned down, too.

This is Wizards of the Coast we're talking about, so I'm sure they'll release supplements down the line that make the Wizard broken again, but the Wizard was broken in vanilla 3.5. At least it looks like it'll be balanced in vanilla 5e.

Though honestly, most of the balancing of the Wizard comes in the form of making melee fighting classes not suck, which they appear to be doing. I'm most looking forward to the Monk, who gets spell-like Ki Attacks that he can power with a supply of Ki Points. Definitely gonna do some houseruling there (to allow Ki Points to be spent on, say, rerolls, or adding damage to regular attacks).

Coincidentally, I made a homebrew Monk class in 3.5 that basically worked exactly like in 5e; got a pool of points to spend on monkish quasimagical abilities. And I once created my own homebrew RPG system that had an Advantage/Disadvantage system, heh. Seeing a lot of "oh, I thought of that" stuff in 5e, which is always a good sign.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Chen » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:37 am UTC

King Author wrote:IMO, spellcasters will be much, much more balanced in 5e. They redid the spellcasting system entirely. Basically, Wizards get Spell Slots for spells of various levels (1st through 9th) as they level up. A 1st Level Wizard has 2 1st Level Spell Slots, a 7th Level Wizard has 4 1st, 3 2nd and 3rd and 1 4th Level Slot, up to a 20th Level Wizard which has 4/3/3/3/2/1/1/1/1.

When you cast a Spell, you have to use up a place in a Spell Slot of at least as high a level as the spell, although you can use up a higher-level slot to enhance some spells. For instace, Magic Missile is a 1st Level spell, but you could use a 3rd Level slot and it'd do more damage.

The point is, by default, a 20th Level Wizard can only cast one each 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Spell per day. So that alone is a major scaleback from 3.X. In the playtest, there was no way to get more Spell Slots.


So do Wizards get other combat abilities they can at least use once they're out of spells? Currently it's cast 1-2 spells to end the combat. With the new stuff it seems like it'd be cast 1-2 spells and do nothing for the rest of combat. I suppose that's better than the Wizard just dominating the combat and ending it, it still seems kinda boring. I suppose if they made the lower level spells scale with caster level more it could work too. Once you're at 12th/15th level in PF/3.5, those first and second level spells (barring the broken ones) were good for buffing but little else in any high level combat.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:19 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I teach maths for a living. The general "innumerate and proud" attitude is a problem I have to recognise and deal with in order to do my job.


Students are generally contrary and think school-related stuff is "gay," it's not specific to math. Go ask the history teacher if his students respect history.


It's not just the students - it's the general population. And the government. And the legal system.

Here in the UK, Maths is one of two core subjects (the other is English) that are regarded as essential to function as a citizen - basic IT literacy is becoming recognised as a third essential. The threshold for employability is GCSE C-grade in Maths and English. You sometimes come across someone who is illiterate - it's either treated as a disability, or as an embarrassing secret. You often come across people who couldn't add three two-digit numbers together and get the same answer twice who appear to regard it as an accomplishment that they can't. Yes, it's also a problem if people don't have some idea of history (for example, to recognise when McCarthyism is creeping in) but less so on a daily level than not knowing whether they've got enough money to pay for something...

King Author wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:Not quite. If you roll >= your THAC0, you hit something with AC 0 or higher. To hit AC 2, you'd need to roll >= THAC0 - 2 and so on. Your THAC0 is the number you have to roll To Hit Armour Class 0. To work out what AC you hit with a given roll, you work out {THAC0 - roll} and you hit that AC or higher (AC 10 is a naked human; AC -10 is about the best armour you can get; AC 0 is full plate plus shield - the best non-magical armour available).

The main quirk of the system is that high THAC0 and high AC are both bad.

If you want a way of working out whether you hit that doesn't involve subtraction, then it's "Roll + target's AC >= your THAC0 means hit" - THAC0 is a difficulty number, and AC is a bonus or penalty to attempts to hit you - the opposite of later versions where AC is a target number and you have an attack bonus.


And you seriously think that's more newbie-friendly than 4e?


I think "roll this and tell me your THAC0" is easier than "pick a card then roll this and tell me your strength bonus".

I had a handy home-made character sheet I used for a while that had spaces for a full To Hit table on the sheet - AC from -10 to 10 with spaces for the rolls to hit that AC - roll the die and look along the table; update the table if your THAC0 changes when you level up...

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:41 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:5e spells do seem a little scaled down at high levels; at least what was revealed in the first kit was *mostly* combat and a little utility. They're much better at the "quirky" spells now, too (a decade of experience with Polymorph is valuable when trying to make a non-broken one).

Non-MUs also seem to be a good bit more powerful. The fighter, for instance, just straight up gets extra attacks, no penalty or full-attack or anything, so it's a straight damage multiplier on their attack basically. From the Champion or whatever class kit it looks like they've got a good chunk of healing and defense built-in, too, so they're less dependent on the MUs doing everything.


If memory serves, they removed the 5ft step as well, which is huge for caster/melee balance. It negates the easiest way for a caster to just dodge a melee guy and keep casting. Now, withdraw still exists, but that prevents additional casting, so...no worries there.

Chen wrote:So do Wizards get other combat abilities they can at least use once they're out of spells? Currently it's cast 1-2 spells to end the combat. With the new stuff it seems like it'd be cast 1-2 spells and do nothing for the rest of combat. I suppose that's better than the Wizard just dominating the combat and ending it, it still seems kinda boring. I suppose if they made the lower level spells scale with caster level more it could work too. Once you're at 12th/15th level in PF/3.5, those first and second level spells (barring the broken ones) were good for buffing but little else in any high level combat.


They carried over the infinite cantrips from PF/4e, so no worries there. Also, cantrips are somewhat better than they were in 3.5. If memory serves, ray of frost did a d6 in 5e, while only a d3 in 3.5. This will keep you doing something at least vaguely useful when you don't want to burn an actual spell, but it ain't greatsword damage or anything.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Xanthir » Sat Jul 26, 2014 3:31 am UTC

Ray of Frost is a d8, actually, but it has a ranged attack roll. Most of the attack cantrips are d8 plus some effect; there's one d10 attack without an effect as well. The cantrips honestly aren't bad.

Given the rogue Sneak Attack applies any time they have advantage, I thought it would be cool to multiclass wizard and get the Shocking Grasp cantrip, which gives advantage against anyone with metal armor automatically.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Jul 26, 2014 3:52 am UTC

There are few spells that aren't ranged touch attacks. That is usually easier than an actual ranged attack. Usually. When it's not, you're kinda boned as it's a fast bouncy thing and may just grapple. AoE's though.....
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:36 am UTC

Chen wrote:
King Author wrote:IMO, spellcasters will be much, much more balanced in 5e. They redid the spellcasting system entirely. Basically, Wizards get Spell Slots for spells of various levels (1st through 9th) as they level up. A 1st Level Wizard has 2 1st Level Spell Slots, a 7th Level Wizard has 4 1st, 3 2nd and 3rd and 1 4th Level Slot, up to a 20th Level Wizard which has 4/3/3/3/2/1/1/1/1.

When you cast a Spell, you have to use up a place in a Spell Slot of at least as high a level as the spell, although you can use up a higher-level slot to enhance some spells. For instace, Magic Missile is a 1st Level spell, but you could use a 3rd Level slot and it'd do more damage.

The point is, by default, a 20th Level Wizard can only cast one each 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Spell per day. So that alone is a major scaleback from 3.X. In the playtest, there was no way to get more Spell Slots.


So do Wizards get other combat abilities they can at least use once they're out of spells? Currently it's cast 1-2 spells to end the combat. With the new stuff it seems like it'd be cast 1-2 spells and do nothing for the rest of combat. I suppose that's better than the Wizard just dominating the combat and ending it, it still seems kinda boring. I suppose if they made the lower level spells scale with caster level more it could work too. Once you're at 12th/15th level in PF/3.5, those first and second level spells (barring the broken ones) were good for buffing but little else in any high level combat.


No other combat abilities, not really (Wizards cast spells, they don't do fancy battle maneuvers or backstab or something), but there are plenty of ways to restore Spell Slots throughout the day. Basically, you can always expect a Wizard to have a few low-level spells in any given combat scene.

Also as Tyndmyr said, 5e Wizards essentially have access to all the 4e At-Wills.

Tyndmyr wrote:If memory serves, they removed the 5ft step as well, which is huge for caster/melee balance. It negates the easiest way for a caster to just dodge a melee guy and keep casting. Now, withdraw still exists, but that prevents additional casting, so...no worries there.


I actually thought they buffed shifting. You can now move 10 feet and not provoke Attacks of Opportunity as your Move action. Unless I heard wrong.

Xanthir wrote:Ray of Frost is a d8, actually, but it has a ranged attack roll. Most of the attack cantrips are d8 plus some effect; there's one d10 attack without an effect as well. The cantrips honestly aren't bad.

Given the rogue Sneak Attack applies any time they have advantage, I thought it would be cool to multiclass wizard and get the Shocking Grasp cantrip, which gives advantage against anyone with metal armor automatically.


Twinking already, lol. I'm not sure if the playtest had rules for multiclassing, though. I don't think so. We'll have to see how it's handled. It's definitely gonna need to be radically different from 3.X multiclassing, to avoid the more hardcore min-maxing of that edition.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:48 pm UTC

Yeah, the Basic Edition doesn't have multiclass rules yet, but it mentions them, and implies that they'll look *roughly* like 3e's multiclass rules, where you can take a bit of multiple classes if you want.

We actually know how to do multiclassing reasonably now, without wreaking your power curve (I see you, casters), so they'll probably be all right.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:58 pm UTC

There's also mention of Feats in one of Wizards' recent articles that describes them as like concentrated multiclassing - the idea being that having a feat should have a major impact on your character.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby firesoul31 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:45 am UTC

King Author wrote:I actually thought they buffed shifting. You can now move 10 feet and not provoke Attacks of Opportunity as your Move action. Unless I heard wrong.


There is a disengage (main) action that one can take that allows one to not provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of that turn. No other method exists for preventing AoO, other than teleportation and forced out-of-turn movement.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:48 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There's also mention of Feats in one of Wizards' recent articles that describes them as like concentrated multiclassing - the idea being that having a feat should have a major impact on your character.


That and...I understand feats are optional, which is definitely unusual.

Organized play stuff arrived at my shop a bit ago, got that all kicking off soon, the binders for that appear to be fairly classy, it looks like they're commiting to supporting this well. Definitely riffing off of Pathfinder Society, and attempting to improve on it in a few areas. I'm fairly optimistic about the result.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:02 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:There's also mention of Feats in one of Wizards' recent articles that describes them as like concentrated multiclassing - the idea being that having a feat should have a major impact on your character.


That and...I understand feats are optional, which is definitely unusual.


I hear they're an alternative to attribute point gains when you gain suitable levels.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby BlackSails » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:50 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Fair enough - it does address one of the biggest flaws in 3E - that you can keep adding numbers to anything indefinitely and reach the point where the difference between a high performer and a low performer is more than a d20 roll can cover.


That seems pretty realistic to me.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:31 pm UTC

It's not story-realistic, though, and most storytelling games lean in the fantastic realism direction than in the actual realism direction.

And, more importantly, it makes it hard to balance things then, since you can either throw things at the party that have a chance of failure for the high-performer (and are thus impossible for the low performer) or that have a chance of failure for the low performer (and thus auto-succeed for the high performer). Both are boring, and result in you just avoiding those situations as much as possible, perhaps unconsciously. That then sucks for the person who invested in high performance, as they never really get to use it. :/

Forcing everything to stay within reachable ranges means that you can always throw things are possible to both succeed and fail for the entire party. Multi-dice mechanics like advantage help a lot with that kind of thing.
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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby BlackSails » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:46 pm UTC

It is story realistic. The rogue is the only one with the ability to pickpocket the guard's key. Only the barbarian has the strength to bust down the jail's door. Only the wizard has the knowledge to identify the monster as a particular extra-planar being vulnerable to some particular thing.

If the difference between being completely optimized around something and not knowing it at all is only a single d20, then you end up with the int 6 orc fighter being the one to ID the extraplanar monster. If two players are doing the same thing and one is good at it and one is bad at it, then the problem is that your players are optimizing at different levels. Its the same problem you get if your party is fighter, monk, paladin and then an optimized wizard with good prestige classing and a 1 level warblade dip.

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Re: D&D Next (or 5e, or just D&D now actually)

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:28 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:It is story realistic. The rogue is the only one with the ability to pickpocket the guard's key. Only the barbarian has the strength to bust down the jail's door. Only the wizard has the knowledge to identify the monster as a particular extra-planar being vulnerable to some particular thing.

If the difference between being completely optimized around something and not knowing it at all is only a single d20, then you end up with the int 6 orc fighter being the one to ID the extraplanar monster. If two players are doing the same thing and one is good at it and one is bad at it, then the problem is that your players are optimizing at different levels. Its the same problem you get if your party is fighter, monk, paladin and then an optimized wizard with good prestige classing and a 1 level warblade dip.


Why shouldn't the 6-Int Orc Fighter have a chance of being the one to identify the extraplanar monster? Orcs have strange encounters too.

More seriously, there's a design issue when crafting generic modules where you need a gatekeeper to be possible to pass but, depending on whether any character has the relevant proficiency, and whether people have been optimising their proficiencies rather than trying to cover the field, the same DC can require a roll of 1+, 11+, or 21+ to pass. If you have a live DM creating content, they can adjust their plans to match the characters, but when you want to use pre-generated modules, it helps if they don't end up as "DC highest Acrobatics skill +12" - and trying to design around every possible combination of skills (the other option) is going to cause serious headaches for the people designing the modules - and for the people trying to run them.

There's a case to be made for meaningful specialisation - for being the one man in the world who can string a certain bow and then use it to launch an arrow through twelve axe-heads - but there's also a case to be made for not requiring a die roll for that sort of feat - in fact, that sort of story moment really doesn't play to D&D's strengths.


There's a whole range of possibilities between "everyone is identical and has the same chance of achieving any given task" and "every task has one character who auto-succeeds while the rest auto-fail" - both extremes are flawed, with the former being better suited for gaming, while the latter is better suited for mythic story-telling.


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