Dissociated mechanics

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  • Rereading The Alexandrian's posts to refresh my memory of the original examples and arguments, I find it fascinating that his illustrations of the issue:
    Huh? Why is Robin Hood losing his skill with the bow after using his skill with the bow? Since when did a swashbuckler have a limited number of feints that they can perform in a day?
    Me: So what is this thing you’re doing?
    Rogue: I’m performing a series of feints and lures, allowing me to maneuver my foe right where I want him.
    Me: Nifty. So why can you only do that once per day?
    Rogue: … I have no idea.
    are exactly, literally the thoughts I remember having when I first started playing D&D (2E), about the functioning of D&D's magic:
    Huh? Why is Gandalf losing his skill with magic after using his skill with magic? Since when did a wizard have a limited number of spells that they can perform in a day?
    Me: So what is this thing you’re doing?
    Wizard: I’m performing a series of mystical gestures and occult invocations, allowing me to summon fire right where I want it.
    Me: Nifty. So why can you only do that once per day?
    Wizard: … I have no idea.
  • edited March 2019
    OK but picture these two mecha pilots : one does everything by the manual and the other one is a natural that "feels" their machine humming. It's the same machine, only two different experiences. They would say the exact same thing as you do about picking from a list vs being the robot. The Healing strike fantasizing example is a counter argument you didn't address. You don't have to, but while it stays untouched, it mitigates the persuasive impact of your experience.
  • edited March 2019
    Also, the kind of fiction or genre one is accustomed to plays a big role in what you consider or not "dissociated". I don't think it's such a strange idea to have daily powers, for gamers that watch anime or superheroes movies. Even in videogames, we've come to accept that certain important feats can be accomplished limited times, for any reason (they're exhausting, for example). And those are as good genre rules as "you pull incredible feats out of luck". Remember we're dealing with fiction, and thus there are many genres, many explanations for how power, health, luck, advancement, might work.
    In many OSR text, I feel they refer to one and only sense of verisimilitude as valid, which would be a notion of realism + D&D rules. I think it's harmful to work with only one notion of verisimilitude.
  • edited March 2019
    I'd argue it's also harmful to demand verisimilitude from all genres across the board as well, because there's a lot of great stuff out there that eschews the concept entirely.

    I should also note - when I played 4e, I felt exactly the opposite about AEDU than a lot of the stances being expressed in this thread. Abilities in older editions had the feel for me of "Character please do the thing" and 4e was the first edition for me that felt like you were actively playing instead of just fucking around while you waited for the overpowered character to do their overpowered thing and end the encounter for you.
    AEDU also clicked really really well for me because of how it emulates genre. You don't use your big fancy powers all the time because that isn't how the genre works. That isn't how dramatic pacing works. If you want it to be a cool moment when it happens, then you space it out and mix things up in between. That's like... the absolute basics of writing character with special powers (with the exception of course of genres where the big flashy stuff is explicitly meant to be mundane, but that's not a genre 4e is trying to do).
  • 100% agree with @shimrod , @Khimus , and @EmmatheExcrucian here.

    Trent
  • HP and AC are associated mechanics that does concern the character intrinsically. Not dying is pretty relevant to their best interest. No stance conflict.
    That seems like a very odd criterion. Having or not having your martial daily power is also very relevant to the character's best interest, and those seem to be the most prominent example of dissociated mechanics.
    Yeah, I can't argue with that; having some control over where you exert the effort does seem pretty intrinsic to me from a stance perspective. Which is what Alexandrian in his 2012 follow up post used as the criteron for associated contra dissociated.
    I'd argue it's also harmful to demand verisimilitude from all genres across the board as well, because there's a lot of great stuff out there that eschews the concept entirely.
    Fable of the Swan♥
    Abilities in older editions had the feel for me of "Character please do the thing"
    Do you have any examples?
    AEDU also clicked really really well for me because of how it emulates genre. You don't use your big fancy powers all the time because that isn't how the genre works. That isn't how dramatic pacing works. If you want it to be a cool moment when it happens, then you space it out and mix things up in between. That's like... the absolute basics of writing character with special powers (with the exception of course of genres where the big flashy stuff is explicitly meant to be mundane, but that's not a genre 4e is trying to do).
    The Hamlet's Hit Points of power♥
    I guess drama points from Hillfolk are the AEDU of emotions♥

    Y'all are doing a pretty good job on selling me on the AEDU pacing (which, to be fair, wasn't really the sticking point for me iirc, it was the way the powers often happened to invoke pawn stance for me in my experience).
  • Other than 4e, the DnD edition I've played the most of was 3.5. Everyone stacked weird complicated stuff to such a degree that turns took so long that I had long checked out by the time my turn came around (especially with how generally meaningless positioning was in that edition). It left me so checked out theoy everything went into pawn stance whenever combat started. All of my abilities felt like they were just variations on the same thing that I was commanding my character to do and then it didn't really matter in the long run because I didn't have the complex, over-powered build that was going to end the encounter.
    Without any kind of built-in dramatic pacing, encounters also felt so full of dead space so most turns felt wasted until the one that wasted all the enemies.
    5e felt much the same when I tried it, except in 5e I felt like I had no abilities and no real way to get more. It was all just basic attacks because I could cast like twice ever before having to go to basic attacks.
    4e mitigated this by making me actually have useful abilities, making the characters balanced, giving everyone concrete party roles to fill, and building in dramatic pacing.
  • Thank you for giving details, much appreciated! I want to get data on how people feel about this stuff.

    A 4E level one wizard starts off with one daily power & one encounter power. A 5e level one wizard starts off with two daily powers, and the one-time-per-day ability “Arcane Recovery” to regain one of those daily powers. So in a day with one short rest, a 4E wizard can cast 1 daily spell and 2 encounter spells and a 5e wizard can cast 3 daily spells. So in days with more short rests the 4E wizard can cast more spells♥ And their encounter spells are serious business like “Burning Hands” which we 5e wizards have to use a daily on.

    For any nerds in the audience, here is how many castings a wizard in 5e gets and a wizard in 4E gets depending on how many rests there are.

    Rests →0123456
    5e level one wizard2333333
    4E level one wizard2345678
    5e level two wizard3444444
    4E level two wizard3456789
    5e level three wizard6888888
    4E level three wizard46810121416
    5e level four wizard7999999
    4E level four wizard46810121416
    5e level five wizard9121212121212
    4E level five wizard57911131517
    5e level six wizard10131313131313
    4E level six wizard681012141618
    5e level seven wizard11151515151515
    4E level seven wizard7101316192225
    5e level eight wizard12161616161616
    4E level eight wizard7101316192225
    5e level nine wizard14191919191919
    4E level nine wizard8111417202326
    5e level ten wizard15202020202020
    4E level ten wizard9121518212427
    5e level eleven wizard16222222222222
    4E level eleven wizard9121518212427
    5e level twelve wizard16222222222222
    4E level twelve wizard10131619222528
    5e level thirteen wizard17242424242424
    4E level thirteen wizard10131619222528
    5e level fourteen wizard17242424242424
    4E level fourteen wizard10131619222528
    5e level fifteen wizard18262626262626
    4E level fifteen wizard10131619222528
    5e level sixteen wizard18262626262626
    4E level sixteen wizard11141720232629
    5e level seventeen wizard19282828282828
    4E level seventeen wizard11141720232629
    5e level eighteen wizard20292929292929
    4E level eighteen wizard11141720232629
    5e level nineteen wizard21313131313131
    4E level nineteen wizard11141720232629
    5e level twenty wizard22323232323232
    4E level twenty wizard12151821242730
  • edited March 2019
    Weird, my browser made a double post
  • It's also important to note there how much stronger 4e's At-Wills are than Cantrips or whatever they're called in 5e, and how much utility in terms of positioning and status effects and stuff At-Wills have. In a lot of ways, they're combo tools, used to set up to make your next Encounter or Daily that much more meaningful (or to fulfill some sort of utility that your other powers aren't fulfilling).
    Whereas like, at least from what I saw, Cantrips and stuff in 5e are their own thing (and are limited to caster classes, whereas in 4e, everyone gets them).
  • edited March 2019

    Oh, yeah, you’re right, that is interesting to compare and there are some pros & cons.

    Ghost Sound
    Covered by 5e’s Minor Illusion cantrip
    Light
    Last for 5 mins in 4E, 1 hour in 5e. Same range of bright light but 5e also extends dim light even further.
    Mage Hand
    This one is stronger in 4E, lasting indefinitely and at any range. In 5e it’s up to one minute and only within 30 feet of you
    Prestidigitation
    The conjuration & invisibility entries have been moved to other spells in 5e
    Cloud of Daggers
    One square becomes dangerous. 5e doesn’t really have an equivalent as a cantrip. Instead there is the caltrops item in the equipment list.
    Magic Missile
    Damage spell, 5e has several damage cantrips
    Ray of Frost
    Damage + slowed; 5e has similar (same name)
    Scorching Burst
    Damage spell that can hit multiple targets. 5e’s has Acid Splash that can do this
    Thunderwave
    OK, this one is pretty strong! Is not a cantrip in 5e.

    5e also has:

    Chill Touch
    Can prevent opponents from healing
    Dancing Lights
    Can illuminate far places or trick monsters
    Fire Bolt
    Can burn things, hurt them or set them on fire
    Mending
    Can fix things. But is super crappy since there are explicits prohibitions vs everything you’d actually want to use it for (mending corroded weapons after a black pudding fight, mending your skeletons if you’re a necromancer etc)
    Message
    Oh this one is pretty cool! You can send messages. But need to be in range and at a known location.
    Minor Illusion
    This is a super version of “Ghost Sound” that can also produce visuals
    Shocking Grasp
    A mêlée damage cantrip (which 4E doesn’t have) that also removes opportunity attacks. Great if you want to get away
    True Strike
    Oh I almost didn’t want to mention this one. It’s a real Mel spell :/ awful

    The 4E cantrips are a li’l bit more controlly with Cloud of Daggers and Thunderwave. Cloud of Daggers seems difficult to adjudicate w/o maps&minis.

    Ugh, reading the spell lists makes me want to build characters but I don’t trust anyone else to DM in my style T_T I’m horrible

  • What am I doing with my life…
    4E is an amazing game,
    it is the mathematical foundation that my favorite game (5e) built on,
    I really really don't like 3e,
    but even so a lot of people have a lot of fun with a lot of editions

    These last couple of posts from me have turned into edition comparisons rather than design patterns, (such as dissociating a mechanic) which was what I originally thought was interesting
  • edited March 2019
    It's really important to note that 4e's Magic Missile can be used as a ranged basic attack, which allows wizards to use it for Opportunity Attacks, which with how much they self-synergize with control stuff that provokes, Magic Missile is a huge deal. All of 4e's Wizard At-Wills for instance are built around its identity as a Control class. They control movement on a big level, and with how focused class design is in 4e, all the abilities work together towards one end.
    Whereas like, in 5e or 3.5 for instance, there's a bunch of spells that work towards one goal, then a bunch that work towards a different one, and more that work towards a third one, etc. A wizard isn't just Control, it can also be like DPS and probably something else. I don't know 5e wizards very well. I just know that 5e's classes aren't hyper-focused the way that 4e's were. So like, in 5e or 3.5, I could theoretically end up with spell picks that don't synergize and kind of end up with my character as a useless blob who can't do anything right. (I'm kind of bad at builds, so this happened to me constantly when I played 3.5 and also happened to me with the characters I built in 5e). Whereas like, in 4e, no matter which spells I pick, I'm going to be good at Control, because it's the class's total thing. If I pick really optimally, I might be centering around being really good at a specific effect or something, but you can't build a 4e Wizard who's bad at control. You can't build a 4e Wizard who's that useless blob who can't do anything right, which makes each character feel more complete to me. They have a core thing and no matter what they're good at doing it. I have something useful to do, because in a properly balanced party, I'm the only Controller if I'm playing a Wizard (and if someone else decides to play a Controller for some reason, it's probably going to do something really different as far as how it implements, and we're going to synergize with each other really well). My actions actually matter in combat, because I'm mechanically a valuable member of the party instead of being the useless blob who might as well just stay at home.

    Another problem I had with 3.5 and 5e that contributed to the useless blob feeling is how important all the stats are, or rather how important a few core ones are, which 4e didn't really do. 4e makes HP be derived from Con Score + Class-Based Number instead of Number + Con Modifier, and then after Level 1, you never do anything with Con modifying your HP, other than your HP going up by a couple of points if you increase your Con. It's the difference between say an 8 Con character having 50 HP at level 5 and 12 HP at level 5 (My numbers there are probably off. It's been a couple of years since I looked at either game). In 5e (and 3.5) having low Con is a ludicrous handicap. It means I have to play really well or die, whereas in 4e, it just means I have less HP but still as many as I plausibly need. So then in 5e/3.5, Con becomes kind of a tax unless you remove death mechanics. The same goes with how 3.5 took saves and AC from one stat each, whereas 4e does it from two. AC comes from either Int or Dex. Fort comes from either Con or Wis. So then it's not such a big tax to have good saves or defenses or whatever, because say you're playing a Wizard and have shitty Con, you can draw your Fort defense from Wis, which is probably high for you, since Wizards use Wis as an important secondary stat. I'm not a useless blob because I dumped Con, because I still have decent HP and decent Fort (just not as good as I could theoretically have)! I'm not going to die from a single hit because I dumped Con because I conceptually wanted to roleplay a sickly character!
    Basically, the way that 4e handles Stat to Defense/Save/Whatever allows you to make the character you want as far as ability scores (as long as you've focused the ones your class actively uses) without being handicapped horribly for it. I had a lot of trouble in 3.5 with picking stats a certain way for roleplay and then being screwed over for it. I'm not sure whether 5e does the thing with two stats to pick between for AC/Saves, but I don't remember it doing it when I tried it. I do distinctly remember the Con issue though, so it would follow that they made it one stat.

    I'm rambling at this point though. I'm sorry for the absolutely gargantuan wall of text.
    Basically, a big part of what makes 4e not feel like useless blob character to me is that my class has a core identity that it's always good at, and that I'm going to be functional regardless of my stat picks (as long as I have good stats in the scores my class uses for its powers, of course). I suck at building, but I also hate dying, and in 4e I didn't die despite my shitty builds, even during the period before we dropped death mechanics from our play.
  • edited March 2019
    It’s really important to note that 4e’s Magic Missile can be used as a ranged basic attack, which allows wizards to use it for Opportunity Attacks

    Ranged basic attacks can’t be used for Opportunity attacks, only mêlée abilities can. (Edited b/c at first I also said that Magic Missile couldn't be used as a ranged basic attack, which, according to 4EPHB1 p287 it can, as Emma correctly stated and I incorrectly and rudely refuted before re-reading the page. I apologize. But it still can't be used for opportunity attacks.)

    In 5e, on the other hand, there is an optional feat (if the DM/group uses the optional chapter 6 in the 5e PHB – this particular feat is on p170) called War Caster that allows you to use Magic Missile, or any one target spell, to make opportunity attacks. I’m not really putting that in as a big plus in 5e’s column since it’s from an optional chapter. Our group went 2 years before I allowed that chapter. I just love the simple life, that’s all…

    All of 4e’s Wizard At-Wills for instance are built around its identity as a Control class.

    Setting aside the four non-attack cantrips you always get in 4E (none of which do movement), out of the five attack cantrips you can choose two. One of the five push, one of the five add ‘slowed’, and one of the five create a dangerous square.

    So it’s possible to for a 4E wizard to choose two pure damage cantrips (Magic Missile and Scorching Burst) and thus undermine her identity as a controller.

    A wizard isn’t just Control, it can also be like DPS and probably something else. I don’t know 5e wizards very well. I just know that 5e’s classes aren’t hyper-focused the way that 4e’s were.

    A 4E wizard might also accidentally choose only or primarily DPS style spells.

    Let’s say it’s a level 4 wizard and she has selected Magic Missile, Scorching Burst, Burning Hands, Force Orb, and Acid Arrow to prepare for the day. All of those are damage spells.

    I’m not going to die from a single hit because I dumped Con because I conceptually wanted to roleplay a sickly character!

    But wasn’t that the point of having low con? To become more fragile and vulnerable?

    You’re right that constitution is more important in 5e than 4E, and that 5e is more multiple-attribute-dependent. For casters especially since you use constitution to concentrate on spells.

    4E’s way of being dependent on fewer attributes homogenizes the characters which does make builds easier. But then the character isn’t really that sickly, as was the intent of the concept…?

    I’m not sure whether 5e does the thing with two stats to pick between for AC/Saves, but I don’t remember it doing it when I tried it. I do distinctly remember the Con issue though, so it would follow that they made it one stat.

    5E has six saves instead of three. So if you have high int low con, you might be really good at making saving throws vs intellect devourers or phantasmal force and really bad at making saving throws vs poison.

    In our 5e game characters die all the time :bawling::bawling::bawling:

  • Expanding on my comment about daily wizard spells feeling just as dissociated as rogue daily tricks when I first encountered D&D: I accepted it as a part of the game, and familiarity fairly quickly blunted a lot of the disconnect, but it kept feeling like a downside of the game, a clumsy design decision. Until I read Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories. After that, I loved it.

    This suggests to me that the dissociation isn't really a property of a game mechanic. The mechanics didn't change, and they went in a fairly discrete step from quite dissociated to not dissociated at all, for me, after I got a satisfying explanation.

    It also suggests an explanation or rationalisation or description isn't enough. The explanation in the PHB didn't satisfy, even though it's pretty much the same information as in Vance. It's the quality of execution of the explanation: Vance's writing is engaging and inspiring, and now playing a wizard brings up associations (heh) of all the other things that happen in the stories as well, instead of a feeling that this works how it works because this is just a game.

    I don't think the point of dissociation can be found looking at the mechanics for fireball vs. rogue feint. I think it's in the presentation, including historical and external to the game (presentation of fireball in the 4E books themselves is just as sparse as for the martial dailies).
  • +1, it supports Paul_T's argument about being inspired by previous exposure to, for instance, MMORPG, or Marvel or comix, or specific genres and tropes. D&D rules lack a Barnum to cover all of its genre offsprings.
    That said, clever rules redaction (eg : not insisting on exact distances) and ad hoc setting facts (eg : Vancian magic) can mitigate this. I think Thanuir wanted to stress this latter aspect.
    Some RPGs are like board games for that matter : they've got a nice core mechanic, and select world facts to match it. I think of AW and MH this way : to make Hx and NPC interaction shine, you need a community with a limited number of actors. Post-apo and High-school provide that. Factions thrown into a walled city like crabs in a basket, goes nicely with faction (semi-closed) system in Blades. A story mechanic that enables some very abstract implementations of Theme : Dogs in the Vineyard has god and demons. I don't know if the setting came after the mechanics, but they certainly match. My take away is that it's always a good move to try and match mechanics with setting/colour. Which could be called "associating".
  • That's also an interesting idea:

    Can "dissociated" refer to mechanics which don't match the fictional content of the game well?

    For instance, if we take D&D's mechanics and use them in our "modern-day office worker romance", do they pretty much all now become "dissociated mechanics"?
  • The examples are so far apart I'm not sure I understand the suggestion? How do you take D&D's mechanics for fireball and use it in the office worker romance game? Or are you thinking about more abstract level of mechanics like "you have a number, and every time someone successfully acts against you, it's reduced, and when it's 0, you're out of the picture" (hit points)?
  • edited March 2019
    Yes, not the fireball one : using only alignement, stats, saves, proficiencies and skill rolls (the tools I find for bureaucratic romance in D&D), does it work ? Chances are play is going to feel much more lego-world than intended; and your character will appear to you like a clumsy robot when it comes to dealing with social interaction and, furthermore, simulating emotions and emotion lead behaviours. That's my point anyway.
    Whereas with some other mechanics, play is going to flow naturally and the players' hearts will start bleeding.
  • Well, actually, now that I think about it a little further, XP, treasure, and leveling could fit quite well into the "office" genre! Ha, that's funny.
  • Right, I misremembered about the Opportunity Attacks. It's extra attacks granted by Leader classes that Ranged Basic Powers are for. You normally can't use powers when a Leader gives you an extra attack, but if it counts as a Ranged or Melee basic, you can, which is kind of a huge deal.
    I got mixed up with the Opportunity Attack thing because that was a houserule we used because we often had all-ranged parties.
  • edited March 2019
    Gotcha Emma!
    Edit: I meant "OK, got it!" not "Got you [in a mistake or prank]"
  • I understand! I figured that was what you meant, but thanks for the clarification! :)
  • Yes, not the fireball one : using only alignement, stats, saves, proficiencies and skill rolls (the tools I find for bureaucratic romance in D&D), does it work ? Chances are play is going to feel much more lego-world than intended; and your character will appear to you like a clumsy robot when it comes to dealing with social interaction and, furthermore, simulating emotions and emotion lead behaviours.
    This sounds a lot like my experience of Call of Cthulhu d20.
  • 4. D&D4 versus other editions.

    I don't have a good argument here, because I've actually never played D&D4. (Which maybe means I should shut up as far as this part of the discussion is concerned! That wouldn't be unfair. Take everything I say here with a grain of salt, please.)

    However, here's my general experience: everyone I know who has played it has made a comment somewhat along the lines of, "It was great! But we just stopped roleplaying and enjoyed it like a boardgame."

    Many of these people were not in any way prejudiced against the game (some were playtesters when it was coming out, and very excited about it!).

    Why does that happen? (An honest question; I have no idea!)
    Hi Paul, I honestly can't say. I've never seen it happen at any 4E table I've been a part of so the answers I could give you would be pure speculation here. Also, from what I understand the playtest version of 4E varied significantly from the published version so there's that as well.

    That being said, just as with any RPG and particularly complex RPGs, there is an art to doing 4E well and oftentimes people brought in assumptions from 3E or earlier iterations of D&D that were not borne out in 4E's design ethos. This included writers at WotC who wrote most early 4E adventures like they were 3E adventures (the infamous Keep on the Shadowfell being the most well-known example).

    I've actually noticed this pattern myself in my own games. If I run a published module or adventure path, it tends to feel a bit lifeless and "boardgamey" I suppose, but if I'm running my own stuff it feels more like we're doing 4E the way it was "supposed to be". Its a little hard to explain. I don't feel 4E as a system lends itself very well to the canned adventure path or module format and is really meant to be more of a player-driven, no-myth style of game. This is especially true if you look at the refinements and developments found in the DMG2 (which were largely abandoned with the Essentials re-formatting of the brand).

    Trent
  • But it doesn’t feel like me doing it. Selecting actions from a list vs selecting tools (such as a sword, or a spell) from a list. Yes, the clerics “actions” are specific prayers (spells) and that is a mitigating factor, don’t get me wrong. But where other editions are “this is what I have, not let me see what I do with it”… like Zelda where you get your sword, your flute, your raft, your blue ring… whereas in 4E it feels like selecting a move from a menu.

    In 4E’s defense, knowing how to “do” things was something I could absolutely not grok for the longest time and 4e puts it front and center. You can do these things. [Also makes it harder to understand that you can do other, “off-menu” things but that’s the flipside.]4E helped me play something vaguely resembling RPGs, it was an amazing bootstrap. 5e (or, rather, 4E Essentials’s “slayer” fighter) helped me put the weapon into my own hand rather than me instructing the character to do things.Yes! Just felt like I stumbled upon what’s hopefully a perfect description – selecting from 4E’s AEDU menu makes me feel like I am instructing the character to do things. “Cleric, please do a healing strike.” Like in the video game Radiant Historia, which I love, but where I never am the characters, I… “oversee” the characters.
    Hi Sandra, for me its the opposite. I grew up watching anime and studying martial arts. Things You Can Do are just as real, associated, and first-person for me as Things You Have. In fact, I don't even experience any meaningful difference between the two. Whereas reducing all hand-to-hand combat maneuvers and positioning down to "I attack" is incredibly off-putting and will immediately strain my suspension of disbelief because it is so contrary to my first-hand experience of those realities.

    Trent
  • Oh, you mean like a 型 such as a 波動拳, I've never thought of it that way. That's interesting! Yeah I know there's a lot of anime fandom in the 4E community.
    I guess when I play video games like Street Fighter (or my current fave in the genre, Pocket Rumble) I also feel like more like I'm selecting from a menu for my character, than actually doing as my character the way I do with D&D.
    Whereas reducing all hand-to-hand combat maneuvers and positioning down to "I attack" is incredibly off-putting
    Yeah, I don't mind the battle master fighter in 5e, the monk in 5e, and I've even spoken in favor of the stance-heavy "Slayer" 4E essentials fighter. Or other ways to introduce some sort of maneuvers or positioning. A couple of years ago I would've said that this is what advantage and disadvantage in 5e is for. That's why you flip over book cases or do other interesting moves. But in practice I have to admit that after a few sessions that sort of usage tends to fall of. My experience is that new players are AWESOME in that regard but once you've gotten used to the game you start to play more boringly and that's something I'm going to try to address.

    But you know I also put in my own combat system with provoking the enemy, front ranks / back rank distinction, aerial maneuvers for flying fighters, reach weapons, moving around between different targets, opportunities, dodging vs going on the offense etc. However, I'm deliberately building it around predicates/qualities/locations rather than "canned actions". It could be the case that I'm the only person on the planet Earth that has this hangup
  • Hi @2097 , yes but for me its more informed from my experience and training in martial arts (I studied Olympic wrestling and Chinese kung-fu and tai chi in high school and then Japanese ninpou as a young adult) than from anime fandom. Any trained fighter would tell you that you most certainly *are* choosing from a "menu of options" in combat, sometimes that choice is split-second or so unconscious it boils down to muscle memory, but your footwork, movements, and attacks undeniably resemble "canned maneuvers" that you have practiced hundreds if not thousands of times before (with the disclaimer that there are countless small variations for any given "canned maneuver").

    The reaction I saw from the community in regards to 4E martial exploits was similar to the reaction I saw in regards to martial maneuvers in 3.5's Tome of Battle supplement. Your typical D&D geek would rant about how it break verisimilitude while literally anyone I talked to with any kind of martial arts or combat training would nod and point out "yes, this actually feels like real combat".

    As far as flipping over book cases and the like, that isn't quite what I'm talking about here but 4E does have a robust set of options for adjudicating those types of situations: 1) the DM gives a +2 or -2 (basically their equivalent of advantage/disadvantage), 2) we use the rules for improvised actions from the DMG1's page 42, or 3) we use terrain powers from the DMG2. The latter option was my personal favorite and I usually build my encounters with terrain powers in mind for both PCs and NPCs to use.

    Trent
  • However, here's my general experience: everyone I know who has played it has made a comment somewhat along the lines of, "It was great! But we just stopped roleplaying and enjoyed it like a boardgame."

    Many of these people were not in any way prejudiced against the game (some were playtesters when it was coming out, and very excited about it!).

    Why does that happen? (An honest question; I have no idea!)
    I have a mirror experience that perhaps sheds some light: I can trace some (thankfully not all) of the most memorable roleplaying moments in D&D directly to a particular sense of helplessness that emerges from the combination of low levels, shitty DM, and remote plot. Sometimes when you can't do anything interesting or relevant in the game, you manage to make up your own fun.

    So maybe for the people you're talking about, it was the opposite of that: the 4E combat minigame was just so good that there was no desire to get distracted by anything else?
  • For me personally, 4e is the only DnD edition that didn't ever go into no-roleplay boardgame territory. It was the only one for me where combat was engaging enough for it to not totally shut things down. A big part of it was due to the pacing mechanics making combat as much structured storywise as anything else. A big part of it also was due to how clear and easy to use the encounter-building mechanics were as far as balance. Encounters were fine-tuned to be the exact level of difficulty that they needed to be in that moment dramaturgically-speaking, so we never had the issue that came up a lot in other editions of some fights that were meant to be easy being unnecessarily hard due to balance issues or CR issues or whatever, and we also never had the inverse issue of fights that were meant to be hard being easy. With how straightforward and clear the stat blocks were, it was really easy to properly gauge how enemies would interact with things before getting into the fight, and that helped so much with not losing sight of the roleplay because with things properly balanced, we ran into much less ludonarrative dissonance than we had in other editions.
  • Hi @2097 , yes but for me its more informed from my experience and training in martial arts
    Oh, I'm not disputing that. I don't know a lot about real fights!
    I don't really want to hurt anyone or show up at Eero's dojo or shit like that :bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling::bawling:
    Any trained fighter would tell you that you most certainly *are* choosing from a "menu of options" in combat, sometimes that choice is split-second or so unconscious it boils down to muscle memory, but your footwork, movements, and attacks undeniably resemble "canned maneuvers" that you have practiced hundreds if not thousands of times before (with the disclaimer that there are countless small variations for any given "canned maneuver").
    So to create a fighting system that has a lot of options and variety but doesn't give me the complete out-of-the-body experience that some of these "menu selection" video games do would be the best of both worlds♥
  • However, I'm deliberately building it around predicates/qualities/locations rather than "canned actions". It could be the case that I'm the only person on the planet Earth that has this hangup
    Not at all! That's a very common attitude/complaint. I feel the same way (though I'll give Trent's counterpoint some thought - it's not entirely untrue!).

    In any case, lots of gamers would share your attitude here (maybe even the majority).
  • So to create a fighting system that has a lot of options and variety but doesn't give me the complete out-of-the-body experience that some of these "menu selection" video games do would be the best of both worlds♥
    See, for me (and @EmmatheExcrucian apparently), that's more or less PHB1 and PHB2 4E powers as written. I know you've expressed your regard for both the Essentials martial subclasses as well as 5E's Battlemaster subclass but in my experience those both move a nudge closer to the "out-of-body experience" than what's in the PHB1/2. Retroactively choosing to use a special attack or maneuver *after* I've already made my attack and/or managing an abstract metacurrency that's represented with dice is way less "associated" for me as a player than "hey, I'm going to go for this cool trick I can only pull off once in a fight". I can envision where it flows along the IIEE process in regards to character intentions, declarative statements, and action resolution --- whereas the alternative just feels like I'm fiddling with FATE bennies or something.

    But, again, maybe that's just me.

    Its like @Paul_T pointed out that I think this has less to do with game design per se and more about our individual idiosyncrasies, prior experiences, and comfort levels.

    Trent
  • Not at all! That's a very common attitude/complaint. I feel the same way (though I'll give Trent's counterpoint some thought - it's not entirely untrue!).

    In any case, lots of gamers would share your attitude here (maybe even the majority).
    I'm feeling a little cheekish at the moment, so unpopular opinion warning:

    Some say Play The Character, Not The Character Sheet.

    I look at that and say, you mean Play The GM, Not The System.

    >_<

    Trent

  • Disclaimer: I am of course kidding. Mostly. ;)
  • Retroactively choosing to use a special attack or maneuver *after* I've already made my attack
    I agree, I was thinking more about the stances the slayer has than any post-hoc special moves
    and/or managing an abstract metacurrency that's represented with dice
    Hmm, yeah, similar to AEDU in some ways. You might be right here…

    4E was good one thing that 5e also does really well: conditions! As a fighter, trying to impose a particular condition on the enemy is something that feels like something I might want to do. Or place them or myself in a particular position or other quality or predicate.
  • edited April 2019
    A lot of the problem I'm having w/ my game is b/c I don't do a good enough job of putting in zones & aspects. I mean I do when I write my own dungeons but I don't know how to, or whether to, fix dungeons that are part of a canned module. Some of the fights in Holy Sword last Saturday were amazing because they had an inherent spatiality to them whereas one of them was a super dud because it came out of a wandering monster.

    Zones & aspects are even more powerful in 5e (and 4e/13a obv) than in Fate because there is no fate point econ to grind things down. You can just use 'em for adv/disadv or just as an obstacle. I'm gonna try to become way better at this and then if I do manage to get better at it, try to codify whatever I did that made it better.
  • Essentials really went into some weird stuff I never found useful. There's some nice stuff post-Essentials in like, Heroes of Shadow for instance, but I generally feel like quality dropped off with Essentials because it felt like they were pandering to the DnD fans who didn't like 4e.
    PHB3 was just weird and most of it felt very half-baked, like they had a couple of important classes to work in (for instance, monk) but then didn't know how to fill out the rest of the book, so they phoned it in and slapped some shit together, you know?
  • Yeah, I don't really count PHB3 among the rest of the essentials stuff personally. For me, I kinda got into D&D during Essentials (I thought the books and boxes looked super appealing) and I never got attached to like 3e, 2e and stuff. I never bought any of the Essentials line myself back then because I found OSR and a Labyrinth Lord group shortly after, which is what I was playing. And I switched over my home group from Fate to D&D 5e when 5e came out.
  • edited April 2019
    I agree, I was thinking more about the stances the slayer has than any post-hoc special moves
    Yeah, I feel you there. I actually really like the stances and tricks in Heroes of the Fallen Lands. There's some neat design going on there and because they modify basic attacks they mesh very well with things like opportunity attacks, charging, and leader-triggered free attacks.

    Backstab and Power Strike, though? And, no daily powers for martial heroes? Thanks but no thanks. It completely misses the point of why 4E was designed the way it was. It would be like the next 5E supplement being nothing but a book of wall-to-wall feats and situational modifiers.
    Hmm, yeah, similar to AEDU in some ways. You might be right here…
    I think the key difference here is that with AEDU you have a bunch of cool moves but you can only do each move one time. I can "associate" being able to pull off this showy, cinematic exploit once because its tricky or hard to pull off or really taxing or once the bad guys see it it won't work again.... but, being able to do the same exploit over and over with zero decrease in efficacy? Now, we're moving from "I can only do this once because its a tricky move" to "I can only do this because these game tokens say so"... at least for me, anyway.
    4E was good one thing that 5e also does really well: conditions! As a fighter, trying to impose a particular condition on the enemy is something that feels like something I might want to do. Or place them or myself in a particular position or other quality or predicate.
    Yep. @Paul_T asked me for a Reasons To Play 4E thing a while back, if memory serves, and that was definitely one of the big ones: inflicting and removing conditions (as well as forced movement) give you ways to resolve encounters other than hit point attrition. In the past this has been the exclusive purview of classes like the Wizard, but in 4E everybody gets in on the fun. :wink:

    Trent
  • A lot of the problem I'm having w/ my game is b/c I don't do a good enough job of putting in zones & aspects. I mean I do when I write my own dungeons but I don't know how to, or whether to, fix dungeons that are part of a canned module. Some of the fights in Holy Sword last Saturday were amazing because they had an inherent spatiality to them whereas one of them was a super dud because it came out of a wandering monster.

    Zones & aspects are even more powerful in 5e (and 4e/13a obv) than in Fate because there is no fate point econ to grind things down. You can just use 'em for adv/disadv or just as an obstacle. I'm gonna try to become way better at this and then if I do manage to get better at it, try to codify whatever I did that made it better.
    Your experience definitely mirrors my own here. I've run mapless or TotM-style combats in a number of different systems and making the environment and terrain truly matter in those encounters is no easy task, especially for players that are visual learners. My experience has been that you have to get really really creative and pretty much write custom moves (to use PbtA parlance) for every fight --- which can get pretty draining after awhile.

    Even with zone-based combat the terrain doesn't seem to matter *quite* as much as it would in a fully-mapped combat. Which sucks, because I really don't like counting squares*. :neutral:

    Trent

    (*We call them "paces" in my 4E game, though.)
  • Essentials really went into some weird stuff I never found useful. There's some nice stuff post-Essentials in like, Heroes of Shadow for instance, but I generally feel like quality dropped off with Essentials because it felt like they were pandering to the DnD fans who didn't like 4e.
    PHB3 was just weird and most of it felt very half-baked, like they had a couple of important classes to work in (for instance, monk) but then didn't know how to fill out the rest of the book, so they phoned it in and slapped some shit together, you know?
    Yeah, when it comes to the player-facing stuff I think moving away from AEDU (which both PHB3 psionics as well as several Essentials classes did) was just a huge mistake. It divided the community, created some pretty major balance issues, and seemed to totally miss the point of 4E's design philosophy. There were some neat revisions, though, like the at-will stances/tricks and defender auras.

    That being said, the DM-facing stuff from the Essentials era was downright *delightful*. The Monster Vaults have the best designed monsters in 4E, the Rules Compendium is a gem, they finally worked out the skill challenge math, and some of 4E's best adventures (such as Madness at Guardmore Abbey) comes from that time. Although for anyone serious about running 4E the way it was supposed to be run, the DMG2 (which is pre-Essentials through and through) is pretty much required reading in my opinion.

    Trent
  • I think the key difference here is that with AEDU you have a bunch of cool moves but you can only do each move one time. I can "associate" being able to pull off this showy, cinematic exploit once because its tricky or hard to pull off or really taxing or once the bad guys see it it won't work again.... but, being able to do the same exploit over and over with zero decrease in efficacy? Now, we're moving from "I can only do this once because its a tricky move" to "I can only do this because these game tokens say so"... at least for me, anyway.
    Well, it's more... pretty much all of those maneuvers are things that anyone could do, except the normal way sometimes takes more actions, sometimes doesn't deal as much (or any) damage etc. So it's like... you're not doing this once-per-E "move", it's just that X times per E they happen to be extra efficient. For, of course, a gamey reason. :bawling:
    In the past this has been the exclusive purview of classes like the Wizard, but in 4E everybody gets in on the fun. :wink:
    Yeah, that was a great innovation♥

    5e owes so much to 4E.
  • Well, it's more... pretty much all of those maneuvers are things that anyone could do, except the normal way sometimes takes more actions, sometimes doesn't deal as much (or any) damage etc. So it's like... you're not doing this once-per-E "move", it's just that X times per E they happen to be extra efficient. For, of course, a gamey reason. :bawling:
    Oh, certainly, and those types of maneuvers honestly have more in common with 3E's combat feats like Improved Trip or Improved Disarm than they do with 4E's martial encounter powers per se (other than the restriction on usage frequency, obviously). I wasn't so much referring to the 5E Battlemaster here as I was contrasting, say, the 4E Weaponmaster to the 4E Slayer.

    Personally, my favorite martial powers in 4E aren't of the "Basic Attack Plus" variety but the "You Just Did What?!" variety. Like, there's a Rogue daily power where you can hide under a Large or larger monster and just deal automatic damage to them every round until they make their saving throw. Or, the Warlord daily power that lets every ally within 5 paces of you make a free basic attack. Or, the Fighter power that is Come and Get Some. :wink:

    Stuff like that makes me roll my eyes and laugh whenever I hear somebody say "every 4E class plays the same".
    5e owes so much to 4E.
    Don't say that out loud at your local gaming store or you might get mugged. >_<

    Trent
  • Or, the Fighter power that is Come and Get Some. :wink:
    Luckily in 5e the fighter can also get spells! Eldritch Knight♥
    All classes can get spells now♥
    Don't say that out loud at your local gaming store or you might get mugged. >_<</blockquote>

    Don't worry, they don't even know what 4E is. 5e quintupled the player base here, most of who have never played any other edition.
  • I like the eldritch knight, but one of my 5E pet peeves is the ranger spell that lets you shoot more arrows. Given the trail blazed by 4E, I feel 5E took a huge step back towards the mentality that, if it makes you go "you just did what!?", it must be a magic spell.
  • That's something I personally absolutely loved. Hunter's Mark and Swift Quiver as spells. It imbues every character with a sense of magic and wonder.
    I love when mundane and earthly beings can tap into the wondrous world of miracles but via an explicitly supernatural, or holy/divine, interface.

    In 4E I didn't like how those kinds of things were... "uh this is just what you can do here, you can kill an army with a jawbone and you can reroute the Rio Grande!" as if you were beings of myth. I'm more into the style of fantasy where normal people and the fantastic meet. Spells & magic items to me are tools that feel tangible, like Luke first seeing a light sabre in Ben's room. Our wizard yday spent hours in a lich's office copying spells into their spellbook. And our ranger has gotten his hand on a ghost lantern which, after months and months of carefully measuring out lamp oil and where finding unlit torches in sconces have been a more valuable treasure than gold, is an amazing item.

    There are two ways to make wizards and fighters more equal.
    One is to make the spells super weak. A fireball becomes a fire-fjutt that deals as little damage as a sword chop.
    The other is to make the fighter being able to perform wondrous acts.

    The latter, in turn, can done in two ways.
    One is to give them spells. The fantastic world of D&D has permuated even them so they can go beyond the limits of reality.
    The other is to give them spells but call the spells exploits instead.
  • edited April 2019
    I can totally understand not liking that level of power!
    That level of power is a big part of what I enjoyed with 4e, tbh, but then again like, of course I did, my favorite games ever both have you playing as basically divine beings who can change the world wholesale with the snap of a finger.
    Myth has always clicked for me much better than fantasy, a big part of which is that I honestly just don't like fantasy as a genre at all. In fact, I kind of hate it, realistically. Whereas like, fairy tale and myth is exactly my kind of thing, you know? :)
  • Yeah like in Fable of the swan♥

    Whereas I can like things like that (but in which case, doing it via spells is even awesomer than "hi i just shot 1000 arrows for no reason") but I also really like the trope of earth human coming to fantastic new world through magic mirror or some such
  • edited April 2019
    So, this is what 4E actually says about martial powers:

    The martial power source might seem as though it isn't a power source at all. A martial practitioner can't produce overtly supernatural effects, such as rays of blinding radiance or shields of invisible magic force. However, martial power does have a source, even if it is an inconspicuous one. Martial power is the combination of three qualities acting in concert: natural ability such as great strength or uncanny agility, the determination to act, and learned skill acquired through endless hours of practice. For a brief moment, the martial hero combines these three components in the performance of a move, maneuver, or feat of arms, exceeding the normal physical limitations of his or her body and training.

    To put it another way, most people go through their lives using only a fraction of their true capability. Martial heroes have learned how to routinely exceed their normal limits and unlock more of their physical potential than anyone else. They can't perform magical deeds, such as teleporting through alternate dimensions or becoming transparent, but they can make leaps of astonishing speed and distance or take advantage of the smallest distraction to slip out of sight. With timing and skill, a wiry halfling hero can throw a harder punch than a human laborer twice his or her size, because the halfling knows how to dig down and use more of his or her potential than the bigger, more muscular human. The human laborer might have more raw strength, but that human doesn't know how to use it the way the halfling does.

    The components of the martial power source are present in all creatures. However, few creatures learn to exceed their ordinary limits on a regular basis. A big, strong blacksmith driven into an absolute fury can hit with great force, but that doesn't mean than an angry blacksmith's punch is a martial exploit. It doesn't have the precise power and split-second timing that a martial hero's attack routinely achieves. Consequently, martial heroes soon exceed the skills of common people, especially in their chosen fields of expertise.

    Some folks believe that the gods wanted mortal races to be capable of greater achievements than the gods could envision during the days of creation, and so they bestowed the capacity for incredible deeds upon each race. Others believe that the gods unknowingly created children greater than themselves, not understanding the true limits of the mortal races they shaped so long ago. Regardless of the veracity of this story, it's true that the gods have long been fascinated with mortal heroes, especially those who accomplish great deeds without the aid of magical energy.
    A few things stand out for me here:

    1) As @EmmatheExcrucian correctly pointed out, 4E is drawing from myth and legend as inspiration for martial heroes here. This is something other iterations of D&D fall pretty flat on, in my opinion.

    2) There absolutely is a fictional basis for martial exploits in 4E and it ties into the larger Dawn War setting underlying the game.

    3) There seems to be a common notion than anybody and everybody is using martial powers in 4E, whereas it truly is reserved for larger-than-life heroes. In other words, "martial" is *not* a synonym for "mundane".

    Trent
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