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I think that Francis's player shares my own skepticism about the fun-to-effort ratio of the miniatures combat scenes [...]
I share that skepticism, as well. I feel miniatures combat gets way overused in typical 4E campaigns (which is understandable to a certain extent since its so good at it) and the system really shines when combat is relatively infrequent but extremely spectacular, cinematic, and over-the-top.
If it was good at minis-usage, the fun-to-effort ratio wouldn't be so badly off.
What's your own enjoyment of the process so far, curiosity aside? Would you do it again for pure pleasure? Would you want to be a player in such a game?
I really like those insights into the GM's own attachment to her material and the themes therein. (Although it makes me scratch my head a little; it's been a VERY long time since I've seen someone GM a game where they weren't interested in their own material - that sounds like a very strange thing to be doing! Can't you just come up with more stuff that excites you? You're the author of the thing, after all.)
Finally, I hope you don't mind if I ask you two (Eero and Trent, that is) a question about your discussion of D&D4 combat.You see, you are describing the qualities of the rules and their interactions, and, it seems, in very glowing terms. It's exciting, it's full of strategic depth, and it's presumably at least somewhat rewarding.But then you turn around and say that it's "overused" and "best when it's infrequent". How do you reconcile these two things? What does that actually mean - that something is so good and yet shouldn't be "overused"?
1) Daily power economy needs to be rethought if adventures do not routinely involve at least two fights in between long rests. The whole concept is obnoxious if there's actually only one fight per adventure.
2) Player familiarity with the combat rules and their commitment to character building correlates directly with the regularity of combat. Every degree of reduction in combat implies a loss of player motivation in learning and using the combat rules. I find it entirely realistic for the sharper and more story-oriented players to start seeing through the facade - the pretense that we even should care about the combat stuff.
Yes. I am convinced that this miniatures part of the game could be done so much better. Who knows, maybe I'll develop something leaner and meaner myself at some point. It's very non-trivial, though, compared to many difficulties plaguing roleplaying.
Finally, I hope you don't mind if I ask you two (Eero and Trent, that is) a question about your discussion of D&D4 combat.You see, you are describing the qualities of the rules and their interactions, and, it seems, in very glowing terms. It's exciting, it's full of strategic depth, and it's presumably at least somewhat rewarding.
But then you turn around and say that it's "overused" and "best when it's infrequent". How do you reconcile these two things? What does that actually mean - that something is so good and yet shouldn't be "overused"?
One question:How does "not really suited to challenge the players" interact with "combat should have fictional stakes"? You seem to be implying that combat is exciting tactically but generally always a win for the players (if I'm reading you right). Doesn't that devalue the fictional stakes somewhat - if you almost always or always win?
Thanks, Trent!Regarding the combat as skill challenge, you've basically designed a small combat mini-system for the encounter. But I see your point: once you're familiar with the game, it's not too hard to do.However, that's the easy part, isn't it?What do you do with all the combat abilities and powers - I mean even your AC doesn't affect the Challenge in any way, which could be frustrating for some players.Is there a way to account for these in these combat Skill Challenges? That sounds tricky, but you've hinted that there are optional rules for this somewhere.
On the subject of combat with interesting failure stakes, you're making perfect sense to me!Let me see if I got that right:The PCs tend to be able to win just about any fight, so you should make sure to include stakes in any fight which can be lost without losing the entire fight. (That is, before the PCs are taken down and by killed.)For instance:* Can you protect this object, position, or NPC from being targeted or damaged by the enemy?* Can you keep so and so from escaping?* Can you disrupt the ritual before it is completed (in 4 rounds)?If that's the model for good D&D4 combats, I can imagine that setting up the setpiece battles would take a lot of work, but the payoff is that it sounds like it would make for an exciting and dynamic game.Is that what you're talking about?
How do you plan to handle the "split party" in this instance? Will there be a rescue effort, combining the action, or two separate storylines?Is this kind of thing negotiated explicitly, or do the players simply play their characters and we see what happens?