Kendal

Best Version of DnD?

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On 4/16/2017 at 0:52 PM, Dr.Bedlam said:

Although now that I think about it, I HATED the 4E mechanic of "healing surges." So maybe I'm a hypocrite about it...

*also known as the MST3K Mantra: "It's just a show, relax. Don't examine the underpinnings too closely; just have fun."

Healing Surges work just fine if you already think of HP as abstract fatigue measurements because then Healing Surges are just adrenaline kicking in to keep fighting.

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I think the scaling in 4e was one of the problems I heard mentioned. 4e did scale easily, but the chances of success for a particular challenge always remained the same unless your character wasn't optimized.

 

- At level 1, you get lvl 1 traps. Roll a 10 to beat it. ~50% chance.

- At level 10, you get a lvl 10 slippery wall to climb. Roll a 20 on your skill check. ~50% chance.

- At level 20, you get a lvl 20 fireball to the face. Roll 30 or better on your saving throw. ~50% chance.

- At level 30, you get a lvl 30 negotiation talks with the evil dragon king. Roll a 40 or better on diplomacy. ~50% chance.

 

You get the idea. Covering a wide base of skills made it that most PCs would statistically nearly always fail specific challenges unless there was that one PC that *did* optimize for that one skill/ability/saving throw. If you were too low a level, it was essentially impossible.

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Posted (edited)

If I remember properly, the idea behind hit points in D&D was based on Gygax's love of the old Errol Flynn movies - where the combatants would exchange a flurry of thrusts and ripostes, and the the hero would get in one good hit, and the Sheriff of Nottingham would drop like a rock - but had no impairment until that one strike.

 

It is simulationist - but of cinematic combat, not realistic combat.

 

***

 

You know, when Megan and Jen talked me into running a kids game, my original plan was that I was going to spend zero time in preparation - I was going to run pregenerated dungeons - mostly from Dungeon Crawl Classics and TSR....

 

Of that plan, I ran one (1) prewritten dungeon, and have been spending about four hours a week prepping for the campaign that I was going to spend zero time on....

 

Testing ideas for the grownups game on the kids, and testing ideas for the kids game on the grown ups.... (SPOILERED for protection from eventual Megans)

 

(The latest is a series of strip maps, that the PCs will be acquiring in small batches - the PCs need to figure out how the strip maps fit together. The only thing that makes it a challenge is the the strip maps are not laid end to end - so if strip map 1 goes from point A to Point D, then strip map 2 may go from Point C to points E through F, with map 3  leading from F to M....)

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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52 minutes ago, TheAuldGrump said:

If I remember properly, the idea behind hit points in D&D was based on Gygax's love of the old Errol Flyn movies 0 where the combatants would exchange a flurry of thrusts and ripostes, and the the hero would get in one good hit, and the Shiff of Nottingham would drop like a rock - but had no impairment until that one strike.

 

Heh.  And Basil Rathbone had to hold back his awesome fencing skills and let Flynn whale around until he looked good enough.

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Posted (edited)

16 hours ago, Pingo said:

 

Heh.  And Basil Rathbone had to hold back his awesome fencing skills and let Flynn whale around until he looked good enough.

And Christopher Lee was in much the same position - there he is, in his ancient days, and he still could have left thin strips of deli style Jedi when you compare the swordsmanship of the actors in the Star Wars prequels....

 

I remember being peeved with Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter, because both actors actually knew fencing... but then the director had the camera swooping around so you couldn't see it! :angry:

 

The Auld Grump

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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12 minutes ago, TheAuldGrump said:

And Christopher Lee was in much the same position - there he is, in his ancient days, and he still could have left thin strips of deli style Jedi when you compare the swordsmanship of the actors in the Star Wars prequels....

 

I remember being peeved with Captain Chronos - Vampire Hunter, because both actors actually knew fencing... but then the director had the camera swooping around so you couldn't seeit! :angry:

 

The Auld Grump

 

Sigh. Captain Kronos was supposed to become a franchise. It did not do well enough.

I miss the old Hammer horror movies...

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Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

 

Sigh. Captain Kronos was supposed to become a franchise. It did not do well enough.

I miss the old Hammer horror movies...

And Amicus, and Sword and Sorcery, and so many other low budget film makers that made UHF channels so worth watching, when I was a Young Grump. (And when I was an Adolescent Grump, and a Mature Grump, and an Auld Grump....)

 

 

..

 

"Food comes from boxes. Clothing comes from boxes. Boxes come from ground."

 

***

 

Game all planned out for tonight - the kids are meeting with the dragon - this time politely. We will see which Scots accent comes out.

 

The Auld Grump - this would have been so much easier if I had just run Castle Whiterock like I had originally planned....

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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On 4/17/2017 at 0:37 PM, Gargs said:

 

I get what you are saying regarding the MMO feel of it.  Keep in mind though that Cure Light Wounds is just one example of what the cleric can do.  He also has two healing words per encounter.  That is on top of each character also getting a second wind each encounter (which also improves defenses for some strange reason).

 

As a whole, (and perhaps this is because I DM'd our 4th ed campaign) , I found that there was simply too much healing available.  It can get really ridiculous by the time feats and items are added in and paragon and epic abilities are factored in too later on.  You are absolutely right though that the combats take forever and it only gets worse as you go up in level.  Ultimately this is what burned me out on 4th Ed.  By the time our group hit 29th level (we were desperately trying to finish a full 30 level campaign) a single combat could easily take over two hours.  You'd have sequences like this:

 

[Trimmed]

 

Honestly, all in all, it wasn't a horrible system in my opinion but it really didn't hold up well at high levels.  In some ways it was better than the rocket tag you got in other editions, and as a GM it was really easy to design encounters, but the combats just got really, really tedious.  At low levels I thought it actually held up well and I kind of even liked the "powers" idea as it ensured that everyone always had something to do.  You weren't left with the wizard going "Well, I used up my three spells already, so I guess I'll shoot my sling at him."

 

When we played 4E we decided paragon tier was the sweet spot for the system and spent most of our time there.  There was one night where the whole group couldn't get together so instead of not playing the rest of us decided to just do an epic level one-shot.  At around 25th level we were completing most combat encounters in just under 30 minutes time and none were over an hour.  Accomplishing this does require everyone staying engaged in the game.  Once people start getting distracted and each player starts to take 5 minutes to complete their turn 4E combat really slows down.  Not saying this is what happened with you, but it did for some (and I speak from experience there).  Still didn't really care for epic tier though.

 

The issue with cure light wounds I think is that the designers wanted to keep a familiar name for a low-level spell, but the way they did it trips up anyone who comes into the game from a previous edition.  I still wonder if "healing word" had been named "cure light wounds" instead, so clerics still got the spell at 1st level, if it would have caused less confusion.  Based on my experience, I would have a hard time saying there was too much healing, but that will be group dependent.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 0:43 PM, etherial said:
On 4/16/2017 at 11:52 AM, Dr.Bedlam said:

Although now that I think about it, I HATED the 4E mechanic of "healing surges." So maybe I'm a hypocrite about it...

*also known as the MST3K Mantra: "It's just a show, relax. Don't examine the underpinnings too closely; just have fun."

Healing Surges work just fine if you already think of HP as abstract fatigue measurements because then Healing Surges are just adrenaline kicking in to keep fighting.

 

In some ways HP in 4E remind me of an action movie.  Second wind is like the character backed into a corner that is somehow inspired to greater heights and fights his way back, or the Hulkster going from laying on the mat at a pin count of 2.95 to stomping around the ring and then just waving his finger in the face of the wrassler who just punched him.  Heck, If we were to go back 2000 years to Athens to watch a play I wouldn't be surprised in a character got a second wind because it is dramatic.  So action movie HP, if you like to think of it that way.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 1:46 PM, Cranky Dog said:

I think the scaling in 4e was one of the problems I heard mentioned. 4e did scale easily, but the chances of success for a particular challenge always remained the same unless your character wasn't optimized.

 

- At level 1, you get lvl 1 traps. Roll a 10 to beat it. ~50% chance.

- At level 10, you get a lvl 10 slippery wall to climb. Roll a 20 on your skill check. ~50% chance.

- At level 20, you get a lvl 20 fireball to the face. Roll 30 or better on your saving throw. ~50% chance.

- At level 30, you get a lvl 30 negotiation talks with the evil dragon king. Roll a 40 or better on diplomacy. ~50% chance.

 

You get the idea. Covering a wide base of skills made it that most PCs would statistically nearly always fail specific challenges unless there was that one PC that *did* optimize for that one skill/ability/saving throw. If you were too low a level, it was essentially impossible.

 

The "skill challenge" system that they tried with 4E was a bit of a mess.  RAW, especially the initial version, could lead to something like what you described.  However the skill system itself was fine.  For example, the DC to climb a cave wall was a flat 15 athletics check.   At 1st level it was a hard check for anyone that wasn't trained, but by 20th level pretty much everyone was going to make that check.  On their own (i.e. not in a challenge) this is pretty much how all the skills worked - a generic base DC that was easier for characters to hit as they advanced in level.

 

Secondly the system as a whole assumed that you were going to keep pumping up the prime and secondary stats for your class.  If you did so the growth rate of the associated skills was slightly faster than the default DC scale so you did get better at skill challenges.  It basically turned the "easy" column into automatic success.  Training in a skill also shifted your chances by one column, so a trained character could do really well in the challenge.  All that said, I'm still not a fan of RAW.  Or now that I'm thinking about again, maybe it was the way it was presented.  If you were to design a skill challenge so that it allowed PCs to show off using the skills they were good at the system might be more friendly.  Hmmmmmmmmm

 

Not sure about your last line though.  Isn't doing anything at too low of a level in an RPG essentially impossible?

 

22 hours ago, TheAuldGrump said:

If I remember properly, the idea behind hit points in D&D was based on Gygax's love of the old Errol Flynn movies - where the combatants would exchange a flurry of thrusts and ripostes, and the the hero would get in one good hit, and the Sheriff of Nottingham would drop like a rock - but had no impairment until that one strike.

 

It is simulationist - but of cinematic combat, not realistic combat.

  Reveal hidden contents

(The latest is a series of strip maps, that the PCs will be acquiring in small batches - the PCs need to figure out how the strip maps fit together. The only thing that makes it a challenge is the the strip maps are not laid end to end - so if strip map 1 goes from point A to Point D, then strip map 2 may go from Point C to points E through F, with map 3  leading from F to M....)

 

In the 2E PHB that was how they described combat - a lot of parries, thrusts, and blocks with only one truly consequential attack every minute.

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To be fair, you are not entirely wrong.  The players were often not always ready to go right when their turn was called, or paying attention, etc.  Some of it I think became a case of chicken or egg where they got used to having 15 minutes between turns, or one player would debate over two possible options, etc.  I still think the sheer number of immediate actions available contributed to the problem though.

 

I would also note that a lot has to do with the plethora of splat books.  The more books that were available, the bigger the problem.   That said, I don't think it's a terrible system.  I had a lot of fun with it, but I do think it could have been improved.  

 

As for skill challenges, I think that was one of their better ideas but the implementation was difficult.   The DM really had to structure it right and had to have a group that enjoyed the role play aspect.  My group unfortunately went into power gamer mode whenever they sniffed a skill challenge.  If a player thought they wouldn't be good at the challenge, they would try to sit it out so as not to "hurt the group ", etc.  That isn't a fault of the system though, but rather the player/DM.

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Posted (edited)

To be honest - 4e did not feel like an MMO to me - it f

*EDIT* And once again, the worst internet in the world has eaten most of the post - and I have no time to retype it.

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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13 hours ago, Gargs said:

 

As for skill challenges, I think that was one of their better ideas but the implementation was difficult.   The DM really had to structure it right and had to have a group that enjoyed the role play aspect.  My group unfortunately went into power gamer mode whenever they sniffed a skill challenge.  If a player thought they wouldn't be good at the challenge, they would try to sit it out so as not to "hurt the group ", etc.  That isn't a fault of the system though, but rather the player/DM.

 

See, I'd attribute fault to the system in that case.  If the system encourages a rational player to disengage because their participation is actively detrimental, then the fault is with the system and not with the player that doesn't want to metaphorically slam their hand in the car door.

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6 minutes ago, VitM said:

 

See, I'd attribute fault to the system in that case.  If the system encourages a rational player to disengage because their participation is actively detrimental, then the fault is with the system and not with the player that doesn't want to metaphorically slam their hand in the car door.

 

Oh I get that, and you are not entirely wrong (which is why I said that it was a good idea but poorly executed).  What I found was that there was often a way to structure a challenge such that everyone could realistically help the cause with skills that they were at least competent at.  The problems though were that a) a player who was more of a "power gamer" (and note, that is not necessarily a bad thing) often views any skill that they are not heavily invested in as a skill in which they are not competent (which isn't necessarily the case), and b) WotC often provided really poor examples of skill challenges such as negotiations where they suggest letting the fighter make a show of strength (Athletics).  To me, something like a negotiation was rarely truly a skill challenge because realistically, you were not going to go much past Diplomacy in resolving that particular challenge.  Sure, you might use History or Arcana to recall some obscure fact to help your case, but it basically came down to Diplomacy.  

 

To me, a good skill challenge was something that enabled the use of a wide variety of skills in order to accomplish, and frankly, I think it was something that a lot of GMs intrinsically used prior to 4ed, but it was just seen as a roleplay encounter.  With 4ed though, a lot of parties once they grokked that it was a skill challenge, they treated it more like a combat (i.e. there are bad results if we fail) whereas prior to 4ed, they would just say "Hey, can I use XXX skill to try to do Y?"  But with the skill challenge they wanted to know which skills could be used.  Me, as a GM, would say, "Well, what do you want to use?  Tell me how you are using it and if it makes sense I'll let you try."  Instead a lot of GM's (in my experience) would start the challenge by saying "Ok, this is a skill challenge, you can use Diplomacy, Religion and Bluff."  This was entirely the wrong way to go about it, but it often happened because of the way they were described in the books (i.e. that was the failure moreso than the actual system if you catch my drift).

 

So an example just off the top of my head (i.e. not the best): 

Spoiler

Party is trying to figure out how to get through the dense forest after being led off the one trail that wound through it.  As a GM, my initial thoughts are that they can use Nature, Perception, and Geography (can't recall what skills 4ed had off the top of my head).  As the party is working through it though, Ted pipes up and says "Hey, can I use Athletics to climb a tree to see if I can see what direction the closest edge lies?"  

DM:  Sure, if you make it up there I'll let you give a bonus to the next check.

Steve:  Hey, what about making a History check to see if I can recall any details of this forest from the various texts I've read?  One of those might give a clue as to where we need to go."

DM:  Yeah that makes sense, go ahead and roll.

John:  Hey, I know you said we were losing a healing surge after that last failure, can I perhaps make a Heal check to try keep the party healthy during the trek despite the confusion and long hike (i.e. erase the last failure).

DM:  Hmmm, yeah it won't count as a success but it can offset a failure.

 

Personally, I think these were the types of things (obviously not healing surges but you get the idea) that groups did often times before 4ed, it was just not formalized in an encounter setup.  With 4ed though it was intrinsically tied to XP and had explicitly stated rewards and penalties for success/failures and a lot of groups never really got past that.  Some of that is the fault of the books and how they were presented, but I think some of it was also the fault of the players (including the DMs).  Its sort of like I never understood the argument that there was no roleplay in 4ed.  There was plenty of opportunity for role play in 4ed, you just had to take it.  The closest I ever got to an explanation was that "Well, the system doesn't do anything to encourage it."  That may or may not be accurate depending on how you look at it (see my skill challenge example above) but regardless, the same was true for all prior editions of D&D so it wasn't like 4ed was suddenly worse in this aspect.  I think it was merely because the concept of skill challenges became formalized that people thought it took away the ability to role play.

 

/shrug

 

As I said, the system had good stuff and bad stuff.  Pretty much like every system I've played (and enjoyed).

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I had bad internet about 15 years ago that would eat posts. I took to typing all of my replies in notepad and never lost another post.

 

As to skill challenges, the issue with "not wanting to hurt the party" came from the three strikes you're out design.  If you knew that you had <50% to succeed you were likely to give the party one strike.  I had a free hour at work today with nothing to do, so I did some back of the napkin calculations on it.  Easy difficulties were always easy, even if you weren't trained or had any bonuses in the relevant ability.  Moderate difficulty hovered around the danger zone, though it was still easy for a trained character to succeed.  Hard was near impossible for untrained characters, but doable for trained characters that were raising the associated ability score.  The problem then with a lot of the examples given in the DMG and early published adventures is that they often put characters in challenges where they couldn't succeed because it used skills that basically nobody was trained it.

 

To be fair, DMGII did have some better examples than the DMG, at least as far as the cost of failure.  Still, it maintained the three strikes rule so if the challenge wasn't customized for your party the emotional downside is the same.

 

In the end we roleplayed in 4E just like we did in 3E & 2E and didn't really use the challenge system much.

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To be honest - 4e did not feel like an MMO to me - it felt like a board game - and, to be fair, when those mechanics were actually used for board games, they were really quite good.

 

Marketed as a separate property from D&D might have allowed the game to shine - instead it was overshadowed by the systems that it claimed to be a successor of.

 

***

 

Well, the talk with the dragon went well - they were polite with him, and he allowed that while he does not appreciate visitors, if they need to talk with him again, then meeting in that same place, and putting out a white flag, would be something that he could deal with.

 

They struck a bargain - he would tell them what he believes the thieves guild is looking for in his swamp, after they get him more of those rude gnome statues wee men that he likes. (The one that they have seen is picking its nose.)

 

The wizard immediately asked if the statue was super realistic - i.e., a petrified gnome.... He was relieved to be told otherwise - that the figure is not all that well sculpted, but has a lot of character.

 

If they can get him his wee men, then the party will receive not only the information, but two pieces of the map.

 

The discussion with the medusa, on the other hand... did not go that well - one of the two rogues in the party is currently a statue.

 

In spite of the sign, in spite of the tray of smoked lenses, he decided that he did not want the -2 penalty for wearing smoked lenses indoors - and then took off on his own. After all, he is quick enough that if there was a medusa, then he could look away before being petrified.... (He guessed wrong there.) This was the elf rogue, not the halfling rogue. The halfing has more sense.

 

And he did not bother reading the second sign - which read 'All Sculptures And Statuary Must Be Paid For' - if the party wants to take the petrified elf back with them, they will have to buy him from the medusa. (They are seriously thinking about letting her keep him.)

 

On the other hand, the medusa is offering a two for one deal - if they buy him back, they also get another petrified rogue that she is pretty sure no one is going to claim.

 

That rogue belongs to the same thieves guild that kidnapped the halfling - and is not one of the good guys - if they return him to flesh then he will volunteer to follow them, to pay them back for their help... and then will betray them at the most opportune moment.

 

He also has two pieces of the map - and what the thieves guild knows about what sequence the map bits go together  in. (If he learns that the PCs might be able to get the two pieces from the dragon then he will wait until after they complete their bargain with the dragon - then steal the maps from them.)

 

The Auld Grump

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8 hours ago, Gargs said:

Me, as a GM, would say, "Well, what do you want to use?  Tell me how you are using it and if it makes sense I'll let you try."

 

I watch Critical Role on Geek n Sundry (if you have never heard of it, it's basically a group of voice actors playing D&D), and this is how Matt Mercer, the GM, runs skill challenges.  I always felt that the skill challenges on Critical Role were very well done and very exciting.

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