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(The New York Times)   Since 4th Edition was such a hit, Wizards of the Coast decide to work on a new edtion   (nytimes.com ) divider line
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5086 clicks; posted to Geek » on 10 Jan 2012 at 5:44 AM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-01-10 02:53:35 PM  

Weaver95: ChromaticKid: ChromaticKid: I've now falled in love with Apocalypse World, so I'll leave this here:

Fallen in love... the one time I don't get an auto-correct... *sigh*

/three Apocalypse World campaigns currently on the go...
//Go go Gunlugger!

I'm digging Eclipse Phase these days.


Same here, awesome game from an awesome group of game makers. There's nothing like having a PC turned exsurgent show up on a derelict ship and give the whole gaming group such a scare that they decide (for the first time in any game I've run or played in with them) to run for their lives instead of fighting.

/It's like some weird combination of Call of Cthulhu and Shadowrun, and I love that
 
2012-01-10 02:54:33 PM  
Meh. I play 4e. I played 3e, and I've played pretty much every version back to Basic. I've also played in weird-ass homebrew systems that dated back to the early days of the hobby (one was based off the PRECURSOR to GURPS, for timeline point of reference).

4e does some stuff good, and some stuff badly.

Most of what I like is that it is much better setup for "modern" games than for "old-school" games, and gets rid of a lot of decisions that made sense for old-school games.

Modern:
Heavy storytelling emphasis
Most players have one PC that they play through the "campaign".
Characters are effectively immortal.
When the "campaign" is over, start new campaign with little or no relationship to the original.
Reduced player agency

Old-school:
Less storytelling emphasis in terms of plot - "story" is what happens to your characters
Players may have more than one PC - in some cases, they'll have a whole bunch that they can pull out for various reasons.
Characters are mortal, and death is a real risk.
The campaign is larger than any single story that a set of PCs embarks on.
High levels of player agency, since there's less of a "story" to break, and more of a "world" to explore.

BTW, when I say old-school and "modern", really I consider the first "modern" campaign to be DragonLance.... so, yeah. Old-school may be better called "paleolithic" in terms of games at this date - but it's still what D&D made a ton of assumptions around.

There's some things I think 4e did well, and did poorly. Saying it's "terrible" or "awesome" is too simplistic, really.

Good:
Better balanced classes, which is more important given the lack of PC mortality - wizards being weak at first, but strong later made sense (or at least worked) if PCs were mortal, and players had multiple characters.
All classes had more interesting mechanics than "I hit the monster".
Codification of uses of skills in non-combat, explicit acknowledgement that doing so was an encounter, including granting xp for them.
Interesting tactical combat
Decent balance (IMHO) between keeping the traditional class-based system, and allowing player options. It's not a full classless system, but D&D has always been class/level based, and if I don't want that, I'll play something that doesn't have classes and levels.
Quest xp (explicit rewards that are result-based rather than activity-based? Count me in!)

Poor:
While the *idea* of skill challenges is fine, the way that they were typically *run* sucked all kinds of ass. This includes the instructions on how to run them, as well as how they're dealt with in many official and/or LFR adventures. Hearing "you're in a skill challenge, you need x successes before y failures, here's the skills that you can use" = fail.
While not having roleplay rule-ified is to me neutral or positive, I can definitely see where lack of "stats" for roleplaying on your sheet can lead players to ignore roleplaying.
The at-will/encounter/daily concept is decent, but in far too many cases the basic assumption that encounters do 2X damage of an at-will, and dailies do 3X damage, turn them away from being interesting combat choices and turn them into simple "these are my big damage things that I can do" non-choices.
Similarly, I feel that two at-wills is drastically insufficient - characters should gain more, and they should be more viable as an alternative to encounters/dailies, not just "they're what I do if I don't have an encounter/daily available or if I'm not in a good position to use one".
The heavy focus of the game on alpha strikes - using an AP combined with dailies/encounters to absolutely put out massive damage in a single round. Not very interesting.

4e is a decent system. It's not perfect. It's changed the emphasis in many subtle ways - character building is less important than 3.x, and what you do *in* combat is probably more important. It's a decent game, though, and I think with the right DM can be a lot of fun. With a poor DM, it's ass. I hate the vast majority of published (official/LFR) adventures for it.

If you're looking for a "you can do anything" system, it's pretty bad compared to 3.x, but then again, for that I'd argue that 3.x occupies a kind of awkward middle ground between its D&D forebearers, and other systems that were really designed to allow classless character creation.
 
2012-01-10 02:57:44 PM  

Weaver95: actually, that's one of the things that make the new edition work for me. it's actually where society is heading...in about 30 years from now.


Shadowrun is the fantasy/future of the 1980s. Updating it changed the setting too much, and the game they ended up with wasn't a very Shadowrun-y game. It's not terrible, it's just a departure from gritty fantasy/cyberpunk. They then removed the grit from the system and turned it into a fairly decent modern action movie where the heroes can take a few bullets and keep on rolling. In the old system, taking a few bullets would put you in the hospital or the ground.

Sol Herschberger: Blame your DM. Blame yourself. My weekly games are full of stuff like that, using only the powers on the cards. If one of my players wants to grab a nearby chamber pot and whack someone across the face with it, there's no reason I can't let them use the stats for one of their attack powers to accomplish that. If someone wants to knock a badguy into a brazier full of hot coals, make the damage for the attack that pushes him in there fire damage. Give the enemy a couple of points of ongoing fire damage (save ends) for style. Hey, I just completely houseruled that without breaking the game and it took all of two seconds. My girlfriend plays an illusionist, and the crazy shiat she pulls out of her ass every week is some of the most awesome stuff in the game; none of it is on her power cards.


CSB. It breaks the game because eventually the players are going to find something that is more effective than their power cards, or mimics a power they don't normally get, and they're going to keep doing it until you make them stop. If the rogue, for example, throws sand in an enemy's face and you say "hey, I can just let that be a 1 round blinding attack against Reflex," you've just given the rogue a new at-will blinding power card and he's going to start carrying around bags of sand for that express purpose, and inevitably Sneak Attack the whole world. If you say that it's ineffective because he doesn't have a power for it, you're ditching realism to keep the mechanics fair. Letting stuff like this work sometimes and not others is inconsistent and makes it hard for the players to know what's worth trying and what isn't, which leads them to stop trying to be creative.

Sol Herschberger: Are there specific rules for leaping off the balcony, swinging on the chandelier, landing safely behind an enemy and knocking them into the fire in pathfinder?


No. However, there are reasons to do such things, as there are not explicitly more effective (power card) things to be doing at any given moment. Power cards in 4E mark the maximum of your effective choices. Allowing the characters to go beyond that breaks the game.

Normal actions in D&D3.x and Pathfinder mark the minimum of your effective choices. If the characters rely solely on them, they aren't performing to their potential.

In this way, D&D4 is set up to strip creativity away from the game, while the others are designed to encourage it.
 
2012-01-10 02:57:48 PM  

bhcompy: INeedAName: lotofsnow: INeed

But I don't use the books at all. I work almost entirely from the online tools. I can only assume they will stop what sparse support they have received to date when they move on to a new system.

I think it's hilarious that a community of nerds can't make their own tools. Guess I'm spoiled because ICE went out of business before they could even attempt to make online tools. We made our own for Rolemaster, or found others that did.


Heh, an RPG character creator is my go to project when trying to learn a new programming language. I did when I switched from C to C++, from C++ to Visual Basic, from VB to Java, and from JSP/Servlets to the Spring Framework, Spring MVC, and Web Flow.
 
2012-01-10 02:58:47 PM  
I don't know much about Magic the Gathering or any of these other games, but I used to deliver food to these guys back in the day (late 90's) and they were always very good tippers.
 
2012-01-10 03:01:22 PM  

Weaver95: or, I can just use dice and my character sheet and not need a 'power card' at all...


Meh, power cards are just ways of keeping the applicable rules for your character in one place to minimize book-hunting.

That said, there's a certain validity to what you're saying, but from a social level rather than a rules level. Heck, 4e even has a page devoted (page 42) to general guidelines for what a random action should look like in terms of effect. (And these are guidelines, not set in stone).

I find that the more options you put in front of a player, the more they will start describing what they can do in terms of those options. If a player has one option, "hit", they might very well ask if they can knock someone into a fire. If they have a dozen options in front of them, and none of them are "push guy into fire", they won't ask about it.
 
2012-01-10 03:02:18 PM  
Bring back THAC0!!!!

/ got nuthin
 
2012-01-10 03:03:53 PM  

Sol Herschberger: Epicedion: Combat is dull, as "I leap off the balcony, swing on the chandelier, drop behind the bad guy, and shove him into the fireplace" isn't a power card.

Blame your DM. Blame yourself. My weekly games are full of stuff like that, using only the powers on the cards. If one of my players wants to grab a nearby chamber pot and whack someone across the face with it, there's no reason I can't let them use the stats for one of their attack powers to accomplish that. If someone wants to knock a badguy into a brazier full of hot coals, make the damage for the attack that pushes him in there fire damage. Give the enemy a couple of points of ongoing fire damage (save ends) for style. Hey, I just completely houseruled that without breaking the game and it took all of two seconds. My girlfriend plays an illusionist, and the crazy shiat she pulls out of her ass every week is some of the most awesome stuff in the game; none of it is on her power cards.
Are there specific rules for leaping off the balcony, swinging on the chandelier, landing safely behind an enemy and knocking them into the fire in pathfinder? Sounds like a nightmare to look up something like that. If one of my players wanted to do that in my 4e game, I'd say "Acrobatics check, please". If they succeed, they make a bull rush attack. If not, they fall between the villain and the fireplace and excitement ensues. That's it. It's NOT complicated. The fun part comes in describing what happens, and the player only had to make one or two quick d20 rolls to do something awesome.
If your DM is unwilling to let you do anything that's not written on one of your power cards, you have a boring DM. His/Her job isn't just to decide what monsters you're fighting and how much treasure there'll be; they are supposed to keep things interesting and bridge the gap between what a player wants their character to do and how that will be translated into numbers. The rules are there to move the story along, not get in ...


Just for the sake of saying it(because I want to), it's fairly logical and straightforward in Rolemaster as well. Only "improvisation" is determining how difficult a maneuver should be(routine, easy, light, medium, hard, very hard, etc) which determines what roll is necessary for success

"I leap off the balcony(jumping or acrobatics), swing on the chandelier(acro), drop behind the bad guy(tumbling or acro), and shove him into the fireplace(grappling, athletic games, or straight strength stat maneuver, opponent also makes the same maneuver)."

Of course each of those maneuvers are full round maneuvers(100 initiative) so the enemy has plenty of time to react to your strange maneuvering. You make your rolls you're more than welcome to throw the guy in the fire, but the chances that it will happen are rather low. You could make it take a lot longer by also making stalking maneuvers to be quiet, of course.

Some people don't like that level of detail, but I find it provides a template where you can operate freely within the system with a degree of imagination as long as you have the supporting skills to accomplish it and succeed against the enemies skills to save against it. It also allows you to prepare as a GM, since you have a framework that allows for these things but also governs them. Doing the Legolas down the stairs on a shield shooting arrows accurately is cool in a movie, and technically possible in Rolemaster, but it's damned near impossible to make the rolls(with a high likelihood that you'll hurt yourself, since you're penalized for failure), which helps temper people from doing ridiculous things in the first place.
 
2012-01-10 03:04:22 PM  

Epicedion:
CSB. It breaks the game because eventually the players are going to find something that is more effective than their power cards, or mimics a power they don't normally get, and they're going to keep doing it until you make them stop. If the rogue, for example, throws sand in an enemy's face and you say "hey, I can just let that be a 1 round blinding attack against Reflex," you've just given the rogue a new at-will blinding power card and he's going to start carrying around bags of sand for that express purpose, and inevitably Sneak Attack the whole world


And, this is different from the same scenario in any other RPG, how?

If you give players a cheap way to be more powerful than the "balance point" of the game, they'll rely on that and, inevitably, break the balance of the game. That's been true since the first days of D&D.
 
2012-01-10 03:04:26 PM  

Epicedion: Weaver95: actually, that's one of the things that make the new edition work for me. it's actually where society is heading...in about 30 years from now.

Shadowrun is the fantasy/future of the 1980s. Updating it changed the setting too much, and the game they ended up with wasn't a very Shadowrun-y game. It's not terrible, it's just a departure from gritty fantasy/cyberpunk. They then removed the grit from the system and turned it into a fairly decent modern action movie where the heroes can take a few bullets and keep on rolling. In the old system, taking a few bullets would put you in the hospital or the ground.


I've played a ton of SR 2 and 3. I love it. I'm curious about 4, but it seems the newer Sixth World more like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex than the older version's Bladerunnerish feel. Have I got that about right?

/went to school for an English degree, wanting to work for FASA...
//Now work for Savage Mojo
 
2012-01-10 03:10:02 PM  

kyoryu: I find that the more options you put in front of a player, the more they will start describing what they can do in terms of those options. If a player has one option, "hit", they might very well ask if they can knock someone into a fire. If they have a dozen options in front of them, and none of them are "push guy into fire", they won't ask about it.


This is a good explanation of why I consider 4E to stifle creativity. The first thing every player has to do before they act is look through their power cards to see what they have available. Giving them 8 solid, set in stone, balanced options of known effectiveness and then allowing them to also come up with an as yet undefined, unproven action isn't really a win for creativity. I've seen plenty of 4E games where someone was trying to be creative ("I use my sound attack to try to cave in the tunnel on the orcs!") only to have the other players object on the grounds that it's a wasted action.
 
2012-01-10 03:10:12 PM  

Slaves2Darkness: bhcompy: INeedAName: lotofsnow: INeed

But I don't use the books at all. I work almost entirely from the online tools. I can only assume they will stop what sparse support they have received to date when they move on to a new system.

I think it's hilarious that a community of nerds can't make their own tools. Guess I'm spoiled because ICE went out of business before they could even attempt to make online tools. We made our own for Rolemaster, or found others that did.

Heh, an RPG character creator is my go to project when trying to learn a new programming language. I did when I switched from C to C++, from C++ to Visual Basic, from VB to Java, and from JSP/Servlets to the Spring Framework, Spring MVC, and Web Flow.


Definitely. And when trying to learn something webbased it's almost invariably some kind of tabletop/hex map simulator, initiative tracker, dice roller, etc type deal.
 
2012-01-10 03:15:32 PM  

Epicedion: kyoryu: I find that the more options you put in front of a player, the more they will start describing what they can do in terms of those options. If a player has one option, "hit", they might very well ask if they can knock someone into a fire. If they have a dozen options in front of them, and none of them are "push guy into fire", they won't ask about it.

This is a good explanation of why I consider 4E to stifle creativity. The first thing every player has to do before they act is look through their power cards to see what they have available. Giving them 8 solid, set in stone, balanced options of known effectiveness and then allowing them to also come up with an as yet undefined, unproven action isn't really a win for creativity. I've seen plenty of 4E games where someone was trying to be creative ("I use my sound attack to try to cave in the tunnel on the orcs!") only to have the other players object on the grounds that it's a wasted action.


I think it really depends on the group. In that specific example, I know for a fact that it might be given the chance to work at my table depending on the tunnel structure. Granted, it would likely take several rounds of successful "sound attacks," it would be applauded and likely come with a reward (we vote at the end of the night on various categories, like tactics, and provide additional xp rewards based on winning those categories).

But, this comes with years of experience. I definitely see how lateral thinking could be frowned upon by a new group.
 
2012-01-10 03:18:37 PM  

kyoryu: And, this is different from the same scenario in any other RPG, how?

If you give players a cheap way to be more powerful than the "balance point" of the game, they'll rely on that and, inevitably, break the balance of the game. That's been true since the first days of D&D.


In the other RPGs, you mostly don't acquire all of these ridiculous status effect attacks as limited-use special abilities and your primary way of dealing with threats.

RatMaster999: I've played a ton of SR 2 and 3. I love it. I'm curious about 4, but it seems the newer Sixth World more like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex than the older version's Bladerunnerish feel. Have I got that about right?


Pretty much. SR4 would make a pretty decent Ghost in the Shell game. I just think it makes a bad Shadowrun game.
 
2012-01-10 03:22:05 PM  

Sol Herschberger: The rules are there to move the story along, not get in the way.


Yeah, about that. This thread.

Sol Herschberger: Full attack. Much more exciting.


I realized, I think a little late, that this is something in the 3E rules that should've been downplayed in significance. The standard attack was supposed to be the focus, as it's the gold standard for combat actions in 3E. The full attack was more an opportunity that presented itself if you forfeited your move action. It really shouldn't be that easy for a 16th level barbarian to rip off a 4-attack combo in a rage. Two problems: The full attack was prominently included in the character tables, leading to the impression it was intended to be used regularly. Second, the move actions were difficult to use effectively, especially with the AoO rules discouraging most of them. This was a mistake, but it's fixable.

Another problem in 3E is that somewhere along the way, the developers fell in love with the monsters and made many of the tougher ones too difficult to beat without raping the rulebook's bonus stacking rule. AD&D was lethal; this was more a situation where you quickly learned you were outmatched and had to give up, which is no fun. Picking up a +5 sword, a drool-inducing moment in AD&D, didn't change the odds that much against a sizeable dragon in 3E (the AC and hit die advancement curves were off the charts compared to AD&D). Players eventually went out of their way to set up full attacks because you wouldn't live long enough to take down the bigger threats with standard attacks. Ideally this made the game more tactical, but I found it only encouraged power gaming. If you didn't like that, you basically needed deus ex machina to even the odds.
 
2012-01-10 03:23:04 PM  

Epicedion: RatMaster999: I've played a ton of SR 2 and 3. I love it. I'm curious about 4, but it seems the newer Sixth World more like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex than the older version's Bladerunnerish feel. Have I got that about right?

Pretty much. SR4 would make a pretty decent Ghost in the Shell game. I just think it makes a bad Shadowrun game


Even SR3 could do it decently to some extent. I certainly had fun doing a short GitS-based campaign.
 
2012-01-10 03:33:34 PM  

SuperChuck: mark.jms: Epicedion: dragonchild: The point isn't that the DM can overrule D&D4 to make the game interesting.

I'm running Mutants & Masterminds next, from Green Ronin. It's classess True20, essentially, and I hope it's fun.

It is. I've been playing online for a couple years now. It's a good system.


Glad to hear it, I've blown a considerable amount of brainspace on it, and haven't quite ran a game yet :)

Back when True20 and True Sorcery first came out, I started a quickly abandoned project to figure out how to shoe-horn True Sorcery power-creation rules into the classic DND spells. (ie. a Fireball analogue is made "this way"). Didn't get very much past the 1st level wizard list, but I gained enough XP doing it that picking up MnM was pretty easy.
 
2012-01-10 03:33:52 PM  

RatMaster999: Even SR3 could do it decently to some extent. I certainly had fun doing a short GitS-based campaign.


SR4 is full of Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality, which already fits right in with GitS -- floating popup windows, going full VR to hack someone else's network wirelessly, etc.
 
2012-01-10 03:36:06 PM  

dragonchild: Sol Herschberger: The rules are there to move the story along, not get in the way.

Yeah, about that. This thread.


Matter of opinion, frankly. There's more than one possible focus of a game.

Sol Herschberger: Full attack. Much more exciting.

dragonchild:
Another problem in 3E is that somewhere along the way, the developers fell in love with the monsters and made many of the tougher ones too difficult to beat without raping the rulebook's bonus stacking rule. AD&D was lethal; this was more a situation where you quickly learned you were outmatched and had to give up, which is no fun. Picking up a +5 sword, a drool-inducing moment in AD&D, didn't change the odds that much against a sizeable dragon in 3E (the AC and hit die advancement curves were off the charts compared to AD&D). Players eventually went out of their way to set up full attacks because you wouldn't live long enough to take down the bigger threats with standard attacks. Ideally this made the game more tactical, but I found it only encouraged power gaming. If you didn't like that, you basically needed deus ex machina to even the odds.


You could also argue that the additional rules/build choices enabled the players to abuse the rule-stacking in ways that AD&D just didn't allow.

Combine this with the reduced player agency in a "typical" game between the two rulesets... in AD&D, if you were facing a dragon, it was probably because you decided to walk into its lair. In 3e (and 4e, and most modern games), if you are facing a dragon, it's because it was dictated by the plot.

Killing players for failing to run is a perfectly valid outcome in the 1st ed scenario... in the 3rd, not so much.

Epicedion: kyoryu: And, this is different from the same scenario in any other RPG, how?

If you give players a cheap way to be more powerful than the "balance point" of the game, they'll rely on that and, inevitably, break the balance of the game. That's been true since the first days of D&D.

In the other RPGs, you mostly don't acquire all of these ridiculous status effect attacks as limited-use special abilities and your primary way of dealing with threats.


Going to the specific example (Bag of Sand), an at-will blind is pretty well unbalanced in 4e - I don't know of any other at-wills that cause blindness (CA might be a different story).

It would also be unbalanced in 2e, 3e, 4e, and pretty much everything else. So how is this a 4e-specific problem?

Keep in mind, I'm not a 4e fanboi, it has plenty of problems on its own. I just don't see this as a problem specific to 4e.
 
2012-01-10 03:36:55 PM  
It sounds like people are trying to blame/praise one rules system over another for their players' creativity. I've never encountered that in my games. My players are very creative no matter what system we're using. Maybe I'm just lucky? I've found that the kind of people who say "I'll use (insert at will power here)" when playing 4e are the same people who'll say "I roll to hit" when playing previous editions. Same goes for the DM.
As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?
 
2012-01-10 03:39:08 PM  

Sol Herschberger: It sounds like people are trying to blame/praise one rules system over another for their players' creativity. I've never encountered that in my games. My players are very creative no matter what system we're using. Maybe I'm just lucky? I've found that the kind of people who say "I'll use (insert at will power here)" when playing 4e are the same people who'll say "I roll to hit" when playing previous editions. Same goes for the DM.
As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?


And this is really the Rule 0 of edition wars - the GM and group matter more than the system (ignoring affronts like FATAL, that is).
 
2012-01-10 03:39:17 PM  

Epicedion: RatMaster999: Even SR3 could do it decently to some extent. I certainly had fun doing a short GitS-based campaign.

SR4 is full of Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality, which already fits right in with GitS -- floating popup windows, going full VR to hack someone else's network wirelessly, etc.


Sounds like it would fit in well with the way my games used to end up going a lot of the time. Wish I had the spare cash laying around. too bad I can't convince my wife that SR4 is a better investment than the new tires that will let the car pass inspection...
 
2012-01-10 03:41:33 PM  

mark.jms: SuperChuck: mark.jms: Epicedion: dragonchild: The point isn't that the DM can overrule D&D4 to make the game interesting.

I'm running Mutants & Masterminds next, from Green Ronin. It's classess True20, essentially, and I hope it's fun.

It is. I've been playing online for a couple years now. It's a good system.

Glad to hear it, I've blown a considerable amount of brainspace on it, and haven't quite ran a game yet :)

Back when True20 and True Sorcery first came out, I started a quickly abandoned project to figure out how to shoe-horn True Sorcery power-creation rules into the classic DND spells. (ie. a Fireball analogue is made "this way"). Didn't get very much past the 1st level wizard list, but I gained enough XP doing it that picking up MnM was pretty easy.


True 20 was actually developed as an offshoot of M&M so yeah, they're pretty similar.
 
2012-01-10 03:42:00 PM  

Sol Herschberger: As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?


Heh. I had a GM that would listen to our conversations and prepare to punch holes in our plans regardless of whether the characters he was controlling would legitimately know the information he overheard as GM. He'd say something like joe bob the random local heard you guys talking or something along those lines to justify it. Now that is an asshole.

/he changed after people started getting frustrated and quit
//group had been together for decades by that point
 
2012-01-10 03:42:25 PM  

Sol Herschberger: It sounds like people are trying to blame/praise one rules system over another for their players' creativity. I've never encountered that in my games. My players are very creative no matter what system we're using. Maybe I'm just lucky? I've found that the kind of people who say "I'll use (insert at will power here)" when playing 4e are the same people who'll say "I roll to hit" when playing previous editions. Same goes for the DM.
As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?


According to WoTC (and most of the player's I've come across whose first exposure to RPGs were "modern" games in general and 3e D&D in particular), it's the GM's job to actualize the power fantasies of the players. The GM isn't there to have fun - he's there to make sure other people get to have fun. And you have fun by *winning*. Losing/dying isn't fun, and is a waste of your time, and is always your GM's fault (since he's the one who put the thing you couldn't beat in front of you in the first place).

Yes, really.
 
2012-01-10 03:47:06 PM  

FightDirector: Sol Herschberger: It sounds like people are trying to blame/praise one rules system over another for their players' creativity. I've never encountered that in my games. My players are very creative no matter what system we're using. Maybe I'm just lucky? I've found that the kind of people who say "I'll use (insert at will power here)" when playing 4e are the same people who'll say "I roll to hit" when playing previous editions. Same goes for the DM.
As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?

According to WoTC (and most of the player's I've come across whose first exposure to RPGs were "modern" games in general and 3e D&D in particular), it's the GM's job to actualize the power fantasies of the players. The GM isn't there to have fun - he's there to make sure other people get to have fun. And you have fun by *winning*. Losing/dying isn't fun, and is a waste of your time, and is always your GM's fault (since he's the one who put the thing you couldn't beat in front of you in the first place).

Yes, really.


That's just sad. As a DM, I liken myself to Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride while fighting the man in black: "I just want you to feel you're doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed." Sometimes, I crush them. Sometimes, they are clever enough to climb on my back and choke me out.
 
2012-01-10 03:53:31 PM  
That's actually why I play a lot less these days, and just write/playtest for CGL and run a BattleTech campaign (more of a wargame than an RPG anyway, so these issues don't really come up). It' incredibly frustrating when players won't trust a GM. I WANT us all to tell a cool co-operative story, and part of that story means the occasional setback to make the ending all the sweeter.

But as soon as any sort of setback or hinderance that can't be solved quickly and easily by combat or general dice-rolling comes up, the players revolt. They can't or won't see the "long game". I'm sure there's a relationship here between the urge of RPG companies to print games that, by printing specific rules for more and more individual circumstances, remove the power of the GM to make rulings (and instead say *check page XXX*, and these tendencies of players.

It's not *strictly* newer players - there's a few oldbeards who do that too. But the VAST majority of gamer's I've encountered who react this way are folks who learned RPGs on D&D 3.x
 
2012-01-10 03:56:09 PM  

FightDirector:
According to WoTC (and most of the player's I've come across whose first exposure to RPGs were "modern" games in general and 3e D&D in particular), it's the GM's job to actualize the power fantasies of the players. The GM isn't there to have fun - he's there to make sure other people get to have fun. And you have fun by *winning*. Losing/dying isn't fun, and is a waste of your time, and is always your GM's fault (since he's the one who put the thing you couldn't beat in front of you in the first place).

Yes, really.


This has been basically true since DragonLance.

The hobby has shifted its focus to the playstyle that would have gotten people accused of being munchkins in the past.

Notice also the implied loss of player agency ("he's the one who put the thing you couldn't beat in front of you"). I hate to admit it, but "dont' kill the players" has a level of legitimacy if you've stripped the players of all agency in terms of what situations they get into.
 
2012-01-10 03:57:39 PM  

FightDirector: That's actually why I play a lot less these days, and just write/playtest for CGL and run a BattleTech campaign (more of a wargame than an RPG anyway, so these issues don't really come up). It' incredibly frustrating when players won't trust a GM. I WANT us all to tell a cool co-operative story, and part of that story means the occasional setback to make the ending all the sweeter.

But as soon as any sort of setback or hinderance that can't be solved quickly and easily by combat or general dice-rolling comes up, the players revolt. They can't or won't see the "long game". I'm sure there's a relationship here between the urge of RPG companies to print games that, by printing specific rules for more and more individual circumstances, remove the power of the GM to make rulings (and instead say *check page XXX*, and these tendencies of players.

It's not *strictly* newer players - there's a few oldbeards who do that too. But the VAST majority of gamer's I've encountered who react this way are folks who learned RPGs on D&D 3.x


It seems to be common now. Look at the computer gaming industry as an example. Yesteryear's games made you stop, think, try something, and then try something different when that failed. You got stumped sometimes. But when you did finally figure it out, boy did you ever feel good.
Now back to today's games... You're spoon-fed the next step. "Puzzles" are often painfully easy to solve.

It's also true in society in general. We want our rewards before we've put up any effort.
 
2012-01-10 04:06:08 PM  

Sol Herschberger: Wasteland: 4E: No amount of filing the serial numbers off the existing classes will recreate the system. Create four new classes, paragon paths, and epic destinies from scratch, just to get started. Commence construction on an improved short-cast ritual system. "This will take a couple of months to finish. I'll be writing my own Player's Guide, just for the damn magic system. Screw it, let's do something else."

What are you talking about? Re-fluff the powers. Magic Missile is an ice bolt now, doing cold damage. Done. Any player can make the character they want to play with the feel of the elemental thingy whatever you're trying to do. Have you even actually -tried- to do this in your game? Maybe I'm not fully understand what you're trying to accomplish here, but I've found 4e to be the easiest system to customize on the fly with little or no preparation ahead of time!



You're not understanding my original system, no. Try the longer version:

Each of the four color-schools had an associated alignment leaning, two elemental affinities, and (of the old 8-school spell lists) two specialty, two secondary and four restricted spell types; each type of magic-user (all of whom ran off the basic wizard/mage class) also had one or two special abilities to round out the theme.

e.g., White (Good) magi were any non-evil alignment, used fire and lightning in their elemental spell effects, specialized in Abjuration and Divination non-combat spells, and had access to Alteration (from Red/Chaos) and Enchantment (from Blue/Law) spells. Their special ability was healing magic, which is bloody useful in a setting with no distinct spellcasting priests. Black magi were non-good with a focus on Conjuration and Necromancy and the ability to command undead while throwing around cold and acid effects, Red magi used the rogue attack values and could use heavier weapons, Blue had wider spell selection, etc, etc.

Again, in 2E, this was pretty basic stuff. I could completely describe every relevant house rule in about 2 typed pages. 3E ran a bit longer, but that was mostly because having nearly all spellcasters on a 9-level spell system made it simple to combine and redistribute the spell lists as part of the process; from a player's POV, it was still a matter of "take wizards as the start point, now here's x, y and z differences, and here's the spell list."

But go back, and look at the old, basic PHB 2E spell list for wizards. Aside from Invoc/Evoc and Necromancy, the majority of spells in every school are noncombat. And it's even more pronounced as you move away from the wizard spell list.

The primary issue with the old homebrew relative to 4E isn't the elemental damage type of the spells. The issue is that the distinguishing characteristics of each magic type mostly revolve around their varying noncombat utility, and 4E characters have piss-poor noncombat utility. This is a system where a Water Breathing spell sets you back a cool 135g in material components, and your lie detection spell has a 5-minute cast time for a 10-minute duration. Undead minions and Command Undead? If you want practical Necromancy get ready to create it, because they burned those spellbooks. Sustained flight, for anyone short of a world-striding titan? Goes against the explicitly stated balance assumptions of the core rules. Any utility spells that last longer than a few minutes? That's the first system you'll have to revamp. It's a system-wide rewrite for very thematically simple changes. And all these myriad changes have to be clearly explained to the players, in an easy-to-access format.

...anyway, I'm ranting. Short version: the trouble isn't the damage-type fluff. The trouble is everything that isn't damage-type fluff. Translating that magic system from 3.5 to 4E would be more trouble than translating it into GURPS, and only somewhat less trouble than translating it into Sanskrit. The underlying assumptions of the game's mechanics have simply changed too much.
 
2012-01-10 04:09:15 PM  

FightDirector: there's a few oldbeards who do that too


The current nomenclature is "bittervet".
 
2012-01-10 04:11:37 PM  

FightDirector: hat's actually why I play a lot less these days, and just write/playtest for CGL and run a BattleTech campaign (more of a wargame than an RPG anyway, so these issues don't really come up). It' incredibly frustrating when players won't trust a GM. I WANT us all to tell a cool co-operative story, and part of that story means the occasional setback to make the ending all the sweeter.


*cough* *cough*

That's what I get for inviting you near my (admittedly awesome) table of unnecessary geekhood.

I'm still convinced that a table of mature gamers who want to tell a cooperative story can using RAW Pathfinder.

Oh, and Weaver95 SR4 was horrid. SR4A fixed it and actually works. Too bad FanPro left CGL with a shiat-sandwich of an unplayable wireless Matrix. SURGE sucked equally and Technomancers are lame. Get your GiTS out of my Neuromancer.

/playtesting credits in some CGL products
//have former players that still biatch about some of my D&D3/3.5 DM bastardry 8 years later
 
2012-01-10 04:13:57 PM  

SuperChuck: mark.jms: SuperChuck:

True 20 was actually developed as an offshoot of M&M so yeah, they're pretty similar.


Ah, gotcha. I only started looking at M&M when the MnM3E came out, so I've never been cognizant of who birthed who.

Grr. I just wanna play now. Stupid getting old and everybody having jobs and kids and etc.

:)

Kids are almost old enough to play fo' realz - the MnM game I'm setting up is actually for my eldest daughter, wife, friend and her daughter.
 
2012-01-10 04:14:24 PM  

Wasteland:
This is a system where a Water Breathing spell sets you back a cool 135g in material components, and your lie detection spell has a 5-minute cast time for a 10-minute duration. Undead minions and Command Undead? If you want practical Necromancy get ready to create it, because they burned those spellbooks. Sustained flight, for anyone short of a world-striding titan? Goes against the explicitly stated balance assumptions of the core rules. Any utility spells that last longer than a few minutes? That's the first system you'll have to revamp. It's a system-wide rewrite for very thematically simple changes. And all these myriad changes have to be clearly explained to the players, in an easy-to-access format.


Of course. Thecore fluff assumption of D&D was that people who could rewrite reality for zero significant cost and with 100% reliability (read: full casters) were just as useful to the party as guys who wore a lot of metal and simply swung a sharp stick and who are generally bound by the laws of reality.

Those two things CANNOT be balanced. Someone who can rewrite reality at his whim CANNOT be balanced with someone who is limited by it.

Therefore, since (at the request of the player base) balance was the primary and overiding goal of 4e, they had to change one of those things. They either had to increase the abilities of the mundane characters or nerf the abilities of the guys who could rewrite reality. Thus, casters got the nerfbat.

The alternative (where EVERYBODY can rewrite reality as that wish) was alrady published anyway; it's called Exalted.
 
2012-01-10 04:17:38 PM  

knightofargh: FightDirector: hat's actually why I play a lot less these days, and just write/playtest for CGL and run a BattleTech campaign (more of a wargame than an RPG anyway, so these issues don't really come up). It' incredibly frustrating when players won't trust a GM. I WANT us all to tell a cool co-operative story, and part of that story means the occasional setback to make the ending all the sweeter.

*cough* *cough*

That's what I get for inviting you near my (admittedly awesome) table of unnecessary geekhood.

I'm still convinced that a table of mature gamers who want to tell a cooperative story can using RAW Pathfinder.

Oh, and Weaver95 SR4 was horrid. SR4A fixed it and actually works. Too bad FanPro left CGL with a shiat-sandwich of an unplayable wireless Matrix. SURGE sucked equally and Technomancers are lame. Get your GiTS out of my Neuromancer.

/playtesting credits in some CGL products
//have former players that still biatch about some of my D&D3/3.5 DM bastardry 8 years later



Sorry - meant that as in "running" games, not playing RPGs whatsoever. Mea cupla.
 
2012-01-10 04:17:42 PM  

BurnShrike: Exactly! Table-top gaming is alive and well. I agree that they've been mismanaged. Among other things, I think it was a mistake to model 4th Ed off video games. If I wanted to play WoW, I would play WoW (FYI: I don't want to play WoW). You can't out-compete a computer game with dice and pencils. Table-top gaming is a separate area and should be drawing followers because it's different, not despite it.


QFT! Different media have different needs. A video game is not a table top game.

This should be so basic that it shouldn't even need to be stated but, clearly, WOTC didn't get the memo.
 
2012-01-10 04:20:52 PM  

FightDirector: Sorry - meant that as in "running" games, not playing RPGs whatsoever. Mea cupla.


Meh. Bored while running stored procedures for a vendor to fix their godawful product, thus chose to rattle your chains. It's not like you only run games these days.

For those playing Eclipse Phase, check out Alpha Omega. It's a very solid system in the same theme. Of course it has practically no vendor support since it's a small shop.
 
2012-01-10 04:34:54 PM  

mark.jms: SuperChuck: mark.jms: SuperChuck:

True 20 was actually developed as an offshoot of M&M so yeah, they're pretty similar.

Ah, gotcha. I only started looking at M&M when the MnM3E came out, so I've never been cognizant of who birthed who.

Grr. I just wanna play now. Stupid getting old and everybody having jobs and kids and etc.
:)

Kids are almost old enough to play fo' realz - the MnM game I'm setting up is actually for my eldest daughter, wife, friend and her daughter.


THIS. I got a few more years before mine are ready. Have fun!
 
2012-01-10 04:39:45 PM  

Epicedion: Power cards in 4E mark the maximum of your effective choices. Allowing the characters to go beyond that breaks the game. Normal actions in D&D3.x and Pathfinder mark the minimum of your effective choices. If the characters rely solely on them, they aren't performing to their potential. In this way, D&D4 is set up to strip creativity away from the game, while the others are designed to encourage it.


This is an argument I have to disagree with. No system explicitly forbids any particular maneuver -- it can't, there's always Rule 0 -- and whether or not it's done routinely depends entirely on how easy or difficult the DM makes it. This has more to do with comfort with the rules and the level of difficulty the DM introduces in the tone of the campaign. For a high-flying, swashbuckling campaign, swinging from a chandelier might get a -2 modifier, if that. If it's Ravenloft, you get a -20 thrown in your face with some possibly debilitating consequences to get you to stop being Will Turner in a horror story. A DM properly setting tone has ways of letting you know whether or not you're allowed to be creative, and the more comfortable a DM is, the more freely this is done.

The problem with D&D4 isn't that it prevents you from trying something. It really doesn't do that at all. The problem is that the micromanaged game balance is too vulnerable to metagaming. In D&D4, depending on how the DM rules, a player will quickly get an idea of whether or not it's advantageous to think outside the box or not. This is, to be fair, applicable to ANY game -- again, an AD&D2 DM can shut down acrobatics in Ravenloft to preserve the mood. The problem is that D&D4 only offers balance as a baseline, a perspective. So you're always either conforming to the rules (the way you play it) or always breaking them (the way

Sol Herschberger plays it). With the line so clearly drawn it's invariably one or the other; this isn't a choice unless you have anterograde amnesia. Players will remember when the DM allowed a certain maneuver or not, and this can quickly break the game's balance, which is all D&D4's mechanics has going for it.

kyoryu: And, this is different from the same scenario in any other RPG, how?


Because other games have a greater tolerance for it. AD&D doesn't explicitly encourage creativity the way people think. They just found it naturally easier to do so because the game was deliberately broken in places -- a sort of wink by Gygax to remind gamers that the rules aren't everything. For example, if the fighter had managed to find a girdle of giant strength -- an overwhelmingly powerful item that's in the effin' core rulebook -- then pretty much anything the thief tries in combat isn't likely to break the game (although, as mentioned before, it may spoil mood). Players complained that thieves needed more to do, but few realized what was at stake when they expected the rules to fix this "problem". The fighter dominated melee combat in AD&D. If you wanted to enjoy melee, you were a fighter. End of story. Anything the rogue tries in D&D4, however, has some ability to compare to. There's such an airtight level of parity that the DM's walking a fine line -- you either preserve the balance at all costs, or shatter it. When everyone expects to be equally useful in combat regardless of class, now it's less about weaving a story and more about expectations the DM has to meet. You can't arbitrarily go back and forth between winging it and enforcing the rules without fomenting a player rebellion.
 
2012-01-10 04:45:43 PM  

skwerlmaster: I'm amazed so many of you are complaining about 4e rules being primarily about combat. DND was created by TSR, think about the name of the freaking company, the rules have always been about combat. Role-playing doesn't come from rules it comes from the players. You can play DND with as little as imagination and anything that will produce a random result (flipping a coin, a single die, which way the cat will flinch when you throw something at it, etc.)

Granted i'd probably be playing pathfinder if my players hadn't jumped the gun and bought the 4e core books as soon as they came out, but it is just as flexible as any other version of the game. You just need to know how the rules are supposed to work and why before you start breaking them or creating new house rules, just as with 3.x

If you need a rules system to tell you how to handle social interactions with your character, you probably don't need to be role-playing to begin with. 20+ years of D&D has proved me that the system not as important as people like to think. ADD2 was a munchkin's paradise, 3.0 was created to nerf that, but still needed refinement and that was the only reason for 4e - to cut down on player/DM arguments with those that would try to game the system to become combat juggernauts with the rest of the party under their heel.


Why don't you need dice for social interactions?

If your player wants to convince the baron to stop the conflict against the duchy of slobbobia, why can't there be dice to govern the debate?

You can always say "yes" as a gm, but the game should also let you roll dice.

And the use of dice shouldn't just be about an intended result, but also the consequences of choosing to speak or act. Not just the result of going from A to B, but the journey and the process.

/that's why I like burning wheel. It's about player character beliefs, intentions, and the consequences that spin out from that drama. The game is all about consequences
/also, why not let players be uber killy elven sword masters or whatever? as long as players have fun, then it is all good
 
2012-01-10 04:46:53 PM  

SuperChuck: Car Wars would be great as a turn based strategy type PC game. I had a whole bunch of books but never really played because it was just way too complicated. Having the computer calculate all the manuever difficulties and what not would be great.



There was one or two a long time ago, but I really miss the whole setting in general. Their take on the post-apocalyptic world was pretty awesome, IMHO. My friends and I played a hybrid Car Wars/Shadowrun campaign in high school, and it was a lot of fun.

Shadowrun rules for the characters, Car Wars for the vehicles, and we drew up conversions for to-hit and damage for when a person wanted to fire at a vehicle or vice versa. shiat blew up all the damn time.

Epicedion: This led to the following conversation a hundred times a game:

"I try to do X."
"Okay, you start working on X. Modifiers.. and roll."
"Okay I got 2 hits."
"You're not done yet. Roll again."
"Okay I got 1 more hit."
"You're not done yet. Roll again."
"Okay I got 3 more hits."
"You're not done yet. Roll again."
"Okay I got 5 more hits."
"You're not done yet. Roll again."
"Okay I got 1 more hit."
"Okay you get it.


i163.photobucket.com
 
2012-01-10 04:46:56 PM  
I wonder when WTC will start up their new Buck Rodgers line...

Hate that woman...seems like history repeats itself.
 
2012-01-10 04:55:57 PM  

mongbiohazard: SuperChuck: Car Wars would be great as a turn based strategy type PC game. I had a whole bunch of books but never really played because it was just way too complicated. Having the computer calculate all the manuever difficulties and what not would be great.


There was one or two a long time ago, but I really miss the whole setting in general. Their take on the post-apocalyptic world was pretty awesome, IMHO. My friends and I played a hybrid Car Wars/Shadowrun campaign in high school, and it was a lot of fun.


Yeah, I played that. Never got very far. Interstate 76 was kinda sorta like it a little too. I was too young when I gave up on the game to get an appreciation for the fluff. I should go back and see if I still have any of the stuff. Ever see the article in Dragon that let you build tanks?
 
2012-01-10 05:04:33 PM  

Wasteland: ...anyway, I'm ranting. Short version: the trouble isn't the damage-type fluff. The trouble is everything that isn't damage-type fluff. Translating that magic system from 3.5 to 4E would be more trouble than translating it into GURPS, and only somewhat less trouble than translating it into Sanskrit. The underlying assumptions of the game's mechanics have simply changed too much.


Well, yeah, magic is different. I am glad they changed it, because the whole spells per day per level thing never did feel right to me. "Sorry guys, I can't cast magic missile again. I just don't have the strength. I can cast Meteor shower though!" If you want to play it exactly like it was before, why would you change systems? I guess I should say, If you aren't interested in doing something different than what you're doing now, why should you care?

The rituals in 4e is a crap system. For low levels they're too cost prohibitive, and at high levels they're so cheap that cost doesn't matter. We just sliced the cost of rituals at low levels, and at higher levels we just didn't worry about it. I don't know of any RPG revolving around accounting, but if it exists I don't want to play it!

For your homebrew color system thingie, have you considered different classes than arcane magic users?
 
2012-01-10 05:07:18 PM  

dragonchild: a sort of wink by Gygax to remind gamers that the rules aren't everything


I see your point to an extent. I also think that a lot of the unbalance in earlier editions was based around different assumptions in newer games vs. older ones - single characters, lack of death, etc.

Getting the girdle of Giant Strength in 1st ed isn't a huge deal because a) you still might die, b) you very well could lose it, and c) you'll probably be playing a different character at some other point anyway. In a meta-game like that, character imbalance is less of an issue because it ain't permanent.

That's not what games are these days. And because of that, the balance requirements have changed. When you play the same character, and only one character, for the duration of a campaign, balance is far more of an issue.

If I understand it, your argument is that 4e is balanced, so unbalancing things is bad, while unbalancing things in other versions is okay because they were unbalanced to begin with?

And you're not even looking at ways to reduce the effectiveness of the dust bag - require the players to explain exactly *how* they're carrying these bags around, and how they're getting them... require them to track the number of bags that they have, reduce the effectiveness of the attack from blindness to simply granting combat advantage... And there's at least one at-will (a druid one, admittedly) that does cause the target to grant combat advantage already. Newer rogue builds also have the option to use a move ability that makes their basic attacks knock an enemy prone... so I'm not sure that this couldn't be turned into a relatively reasonable power in 4e.
 
2012-01-10 05:07:49 PM  

Sol Herschberger: My players are very creative no matter what system we're using. Maybe I'm just lucky?


I'm getting the impression that the rulebooks are really just superfluous for your group. I daresay you could just toss out the rulebooks and switch the "game" to freeform improv. That's the sign of a bunch of creative minds, which is a good thing to have, but there's more to gaming than pure creativity, and it's only one way to game. My games tend to be more causal, and micromanaged game balance ironically makes things more difficult because skilled players will second-guess my decisions.

Sol Herschberger: As for the DM allowing things some times and not others/fairness: Since when is it the DM's job to be fair? It's their job to torture; physical torture for PCs, mental for their players. Or am I just an asshole?


FightDirector: According to WoTC (and most of the player's I've come across whose first exposure to RPGs were "modern" games in general and 3e D&D in particular), it's the GM's job to actualize the power fantasies of the players.


Matter of opinion; some gamers are gluttons for punishment and view the DM/PC relationship as antagonistic. If that's their thrill, more power to them. Others want no challenge; I call this "light" gaming and can be fun, but it's not so much about mechanics as feel -- you simply never challenge the players. Again, some gamers prefer this, so I'm not one to judge.

The best DMs I've gamed with -- and the style I've tried to emulate -- are neither extreme. I (they) basically role-play "everything and everyone else", present challenges, and let the dice fall where they may. If they find a clever solution, great. If they're overwhelmed, the decision to die or flee is theirs. Death is preferably avoided, but it's something that can happen -- and on occasion, it can be quite dramatic. Ideally they're challenged, but I don't worry about that too much because players have a strange way of playing to their opposition. I opened up one campaign pitting the 1st-level adventurers against a lycanthrope. It took them a while realize I was serious (you think they had money to buy silvered weapons even if the village smith knew how to make them?), but after one of the most intense struggles I've ever DMed -- and I didn't pull any punches -- they won. Everyone was visibly exhilarated; they couldn't believe they pulled it off. The next adventure, one of them damn near got killed messing with a giant sea urchin they could've easily just golfed overboard. Go figure.
 
2012-01-10 05:12:04 PM  

FightDirector: That's actually why I play a lot less these days, and just write/playtest for CGL and run a BattleTech campaign (more of a wargame than an RPG anyway, so these issues don't really come up). It' incredibly frustrating when players won't trust a GM. I WANT us all to tell a cool co-operative story, and part of that story means the occasional setback to make the ending all the sweeter.


Luckily, most of my players know that I'm a writer (well, trying to be one...only a few things getting published so far), so they're more willing than most to trust me when they start getting their asses handed to the them by something they should've have attacked, or when they're getting backstabbed at court, etc.
 
2012-01-10 05:21:11 PM  
I don't see why this gets the stupid tag. No one complained when Microsoft made Windows 7 after their supreme farkup that was Vista. WoTC knows they dunn goofed.

Speaking of:

Also, a "virtual tabletop" product to allow Dungeons & Dragons acolytes to play online is being Beta-tested.

Seriously? Part of the reason I took the leap to 4th Ed was for the virtual tabletop which was supposed to be ready by the game's release date in June, 2008. I was already angry about this back in July of 2008, and now it's two and a half years later and it's still just a beta test? Shame on you, WoTC.
 
2012-01-10 05:32:41 PM  

kyoryu: Getting the girdle of Giant Strength in 1st ed isn't a huge deal because a) you still might die, b) you very well could lose it, and c) you'll probably be playing a different character at some other point anyway.


I disagree. Bear in mind that ACs and hit points leveled off in AD&D rather early. Demogorgon himself had, what, 200 hit points and AC -8 (28 translated to D&D3)? And this item gave you +3, +4 or even +5 to hit and a minimum +7 damage bonus?? High-level fighters often had negative THAC0s; they could fight a red dragon and never miss. Half the battle was just staying alive.

And there's the rub. As for playing a different character, that was really a matter of taste even in the early days of D&D. In every game I've ever played PC death was never an expectation; it was a risk. It wasn't really prevented; some adventures explicitly had "perma-death". But don't confuse AD&D with Paranoia; nobody I met wanted their PC to die or shrugged off a premature end. Some of them took it quite personally.

kyoryu: If I understand it, your argument is that 4e is balanced, so unbalancing things is bad, while unbalancing things in other versions is okay because they were unbalanced to begin with?


Not quite in so many words. It's like 4E is a white carpet while AD&D is a mottled brown one. Nothing bad with either, and arguably the white carpet is prettier. But the brown one is much better at hiding spills. 4E is so balanced that unbalancing is "bad" in that it's conspicuous and sets an early, permanent campaign precedent. Unbalancing in AD&D2 wasn't an issue because the inherent imbalances in the core rulebooks gave the DM a baseline to work against when invoking Rule 0. There's an item in the game that gives a single player character an entire KEEP for crissakes; letting a rogue swing from a chandelier is ruled on largely as a matter of taste.

kyoryu: And there's at least one at-will (a druid one, admittedly) that does cause the target to grant combat advantage already. Newer rogue builds also have the option to use a move ability that makes their basic attacks knock an enemy prone... so I'm not sure that this couldn't be turned into a relatively reasonable power in 4e.


ARGH!! I'm NOT saying it can't be turned into a reasonable power! The problem is that D&D4 decides for you HOW it should be done EXACTLY this way. The rogue throws some sand in someone's face, and I as a DM rule X happens. Then someone immediately screams, "b-b-but there's that at-will druid power". So now I have to either base my decision on X by comparing it to this other power -- causality and creativity be damned -- or permanently shatter the integrity of ALL at-will powers, because I just arbitrarily ruled the rogue can use this at-will power that's allocated to another class. One or the other, and any player with a functioning memory WILL remember this call as a precedent.

That starts the ball rolling. But throwing sand in someone's face is a pretty old trick; after a while people wise up to it. Then what? Do I just nerf the rogue's "power"? What if some PC tries the same countermeasure on the druid power? And this isn't really being obnoxious; the players would be quite fair to ask these questions. And as a DM, the rules aren't helping at this point. The game THINKS it's being deterministic, but in reality it's only being political. I don't have this problem in a game that's inherently unbalanced. I have other problems, but they're handled more easily.
 
2012-01-10 05:55:33 PM  

SuperChuck: Yeah, I played that. Never got very far. Interstate 76 was kinda sorta like it a little too. I was too young when I gave up on the game to get an appreciation for the fluff. I should go back and see if I still have any of the stuff. Ever see the article in Dragon that let you build tanks?



That was a long time ago, but I think I do remember that!

They also had Autoduel Quarterly magazine, just for Car Wars for a while. There were also rules for boats, trucks, aircraft...

I miss Car Wars. Never did get into GURPS.
 
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