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 Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e

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chaosfang
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:39 pm

Garthanos wrote:
chaosfang wrote:
 the presentation alone put off some while the gameplay put off others, because even if they couldn't exactly put into words what "it isn't D&D" really means
I personally think that imbalance was integrated into an "expected" feature (for some) and they stripped the tree I don't think I have any olive branches left for those who don't value fairness (hell I think they put it on the bonfire).
I don't think the lack, or existence, of balance is that much an issue, but how that balance was achieved.


Coming back to the discussion, remember that WotC made a poll on what gaming groups wanted to see in D&D Next. From what I can recall of that poll, one of the questions included the value of balance, and if I remember correctly at least half the player base was a resounding "YES PLEASE!" to balance. This tells me that people want to play their warriors side by side with their casters, but the vitriol against 4E -- specifically to the sameness in presentation -- meant that this has to be done in a way that still makes D&D Next look and feel like D&D before, while pushing for the opportunity balance found in D&D 4E.

[ Not really confident that Mike Mearls is capable of such an undertaking... and I think the reason why Mike shifted from "being a game where every player of every edition can sit together and play the D&D they want" to "a game that introduces players to the tabletop roleplaying genre" was because 13th Age already does the former (though honestly I'd say Dungeon World is a better conduit for the latter, so I'm even less confident of D&D Next's impact). ]
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:01 pm

chaosfang wrote:
I believe every edition of D&D had the same "frontloading" nature of D&D 4E for three classes: Fighting Men, Magic Users, and Clerics. This is because up until the introduction and integration of feats (& metamagic feats as bonus features), the Fighter, Wizard, and Cleric were essentially front-loaded then you were simply given bonus existing stuff.
You are now using an overly narrow definition for front loading first you are limiting it to perks and still pretending spells aren't really perks on top of that. The 1e wizard with his one spell castable and 3 or was it 4 known? was entirely under-frontloaded in terms of basic competancy.  Spell slots may be a skill using those definitions but they really meant placeholder access point for a potentially unlimited variety of perks and you start out very very narrow.. gradually I can eventually do huge numbers of distinct and often unrelated things. At first level he is so under equipped that yeh... not buying your definition.  The fighting man was also very dependent on his hit points cant fight when you run out of those and get disabled for a week minimum mr front line combatant.

Basic competence in comparison to adversaries in 4e is on par for all classes but the advancement rate is significantly slower... more adult.

chaosfang wrote:

Coming back to the discussion, remember that WotC made a poll on what gaming groups wanted to see in D&D Next.
oops does this thread have a topic?

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:17 am

Garthanos wrote:
You are now using an overly narrow definition for front loading first you are limiting it to perks and still pretending spells aren't really perks on top of that. The 1e wizard with his one spell castable and 3 or was it 4 known? was entirely under-frontloaded in terms of basic competancy.  Spell slots may be a skill using those definitions but they really meant placeholder access point for a potentially unlimited variety of perks and you start out very very narrow.. gradually I can eventually do huge numbers of distinct and often unrelated things. At first level he is so under equipped that yeh... not buying your definition.  The fighting man was also very dependent on his hit points cant fight when you run out of those and get disabled for a week minimum mr front line combatant.

Basic competence in comparison to adversaries in 4e is on par for all classes but the advancement rate is significantly slower... more adult.
So the problem wasn't (and isn't) in the existence of frontloading, but in how often you are able to do so. Completely understandable, hence the comparison between pre-4E casters and post-0E Monks in an earlier post. Like I said then:

chaosfang wrote:
I think what really counts in the "feel" of the class
isn't whether or not all of its class features are front-loaded, but whether or not the starting class features are enough to properly represent the archetype that a class is supposed to represent. Compare the unarmed butt-kicking Monk, who can already do his "Eastern wushu" martial arts at level 1, with the Wizard who could only fire a single spell at level 1 before having to resort to crossbow or dart attacks.
It's not enough to say "you're able to do this at level 1 at all", but rather, it should be "you're able to do this at level 1 consistently", because what really kills the whole pre-4E thing is that, like you point out, warriors no longer become warriors when HP (and the means to replenish it) is all gone -- something happening very often at level 1 back then -- and casters no longer become casters the moment they fire their only available spell.

However, what constitutes the feel of a D&D spellcaster, as opposed to the feel of a D&D non-caster, and how do you design the game in such a way that not only are the opportunities balanced, but the feel is the same? This is what I feel Essentials tried to do with its changes (bringing back old school feel while balancing it with 4E ideals in mind), but as the guy heading Essentials (Mike Mearls) apparently didn't "get" 4E even when he was working on the system, it resulted in alienating the existing base, while failing to attract as many new buyers as expected, hence D&D Next. [ The former didn't like how non-dedicated casters (martial classes, Bladesinger) were "dumbed down" even though their combat capabilities averaged out with pre-Essentials (higher at-will & encounter potential but lacked dailies or had inferior dailies in the case of the Bladesinger), and the latter were horribly misled by the 4E hate machine if you ask me. ]

Garthanos wrote:
chaosfang wrote:

Coming back to the discussion, remember that WotC made a poll on what gaming groups wanted to see in D&D Next.
oops does this thread have a topic?
Yes, I believe it was originally "Essentials vs. pre-Essentials", and the topic involved complaints about the imbalances of pre-4E (and D&D Next, and to a tangent Essentials since you could say it was the testing bed for D&D Next) vs. 4E, and you did mention this:

Garthanos wrote:
I personally think that imbalance was integrated into an "expected" feature (for some) and they stripped the tree I don't think I have any olive branches left for those who don't value fairness (hell I think they put it on the bonfire).
That was what I was reacting to, when it came to the value of balance in every edition of D&D, especially D&D Next but also in Essentials.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:33 am

chaosfang wrote:

Garthanos wrote:
I personally think that imbalance was integrated into an "expected" feature (for some) and they stripped the tree I don't think I have any olive branches left for those who don't value fairness (hell I think they put it on the bonfire).
That was what I was reacting to, when it came to the value of balance in every edition of D&D, especially D&D Next but also in Essentials.
More a reaction to the vociferous fans of previous editions actually not so much the designers there is a distinction.
I think MM was part of that 4e team and not originally a big picture member which is where the not "getting" 4e could have come from.
I think versatility and peak performance is an element of balance not-just median performance (there is still some lack in versatility in 4e non-casters - less perhaps than in the past) but those splashes of peak performance in the arena of their main schtick were there (and lost in essentials). I consider them important because people notice and remember highlights, its an element of perceptual psychology. It may be vaguely possible to create some of those peak capabilities in such a way that they loosely balance but are via a different vehicle, for example NEXT has a crit fisher Warrior a gambit which I almost expected to replace martial dailies in essentials. This will of course only appeal to a subset of players "gamblers" - the lack of tactical control might be compensated for with a bit of increase in frequency, but as one option amongst several?

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:39 pm

Garthanos wrote:
More a reaction to the vociferous fans of previous editions actually not so much the designers there is a distinction.
I think MM was part of that 4e team and not originally a big picture member which is where the not "getting" 4e could have come from.
Fair enough.

Garthanos wrote:
I think versatility and peak performance is an element of balance not-just median performance (there is still some lack in versatility in 4e non-casters - less perhaps than in the past) but those splashes of peak performance in the arena of their main schtick were there (and lost in essentials). I consider them important because people notice and remember highlights, its an element of perceptual psychology.
This is where I start pulling out stuff from Penny Arcade's Extra Credits. You're probably already familiar with these, but for the sake of discussion I might as well place them anyway:


Perfect Imbalance


Balancing for Player Skill

Yes versatility and "peak performance" is part of the elements involving balance, and it is part of a system's ideal "perfect imbalance", and these elements can still be seen in Essentials' martial classes, except instead of "versatility" being delivered through separate powers, it is delivered through a single power [basic attack] that can be modified by feats, class features and other powers [stances, Power Strike & equivalent] (including feats that modify said powers). And while you may consider "versatility" and "peak performance" when balancing the game, you also have to consider player skill when it comes to balancing the game, as well as the metagame within the game system.

The only bit about the Essentials vs. pre-Essentials that seems to be hinted here is the presence or absence of daily powers, and daily powers alone. Might as well be honest on this: yes the existence of certain dailies would make pre-Essentials much more attractive to those who desire the complexity of gameplay found within the AEDU system, but not everybody wants (or needs) such level of complexity. So the question is, how do you design the system in such a way that a player with a low level of skill/system mastery could enjoy the game, while not invalidating the investments of players with high level of skill/system mastery?

This is where I think D&D got it both right *and* wrong, depending on the facet you're looking for. The "right" bit would be where D&D provided a class/set of options that allowed for a simple, straightforward style of play without having to resort to juggling through a variety of options (see: Ranger, Barbarian), while the "wrong" bit is that it over-rewarded the players with high system mastery, allowing spellcasters to run amok at high levels of play.

Where 4E got it "right" is where it pulled down caster firepower, while raising non-caster competency to levels where the caster can't replace the non-caster. Where I think 4E got it "wrong" is where not only did they accomplish the above by placing everyone on the same treadmill and progression, but there were no alternatives for those who were so used to the pre-4E paradigm and who enjoyed their "high damage yet inflexible and potentially replaceable" non-casters; the gap between the level of skill required to play non-casters pre-4E versus 4E was so huge that even though they mechanically different, non-casters were eventually accused of being "melee casters". Thus, resulting in players simply disliking to outright hating the resulting balance.

This was what Essentials tried to fix: even if the "daily" moments were removed, fact of the matter is, not everybody wanted or even needed to be highlighted through mechanics, and some players simply wanted a gameplay that allowed a simple sort of play at the levels that were most meaningful to them. This meant a focus on levels 1-10 (at most 1-20, because really 21-30 plays more like a superheroes game than a D&D game), as well as a set of mechanics that allowed simple play while maintaining a decent level of effectiveness that allowed them to be roughly in the average aspect of play.

It's not for everyone -- and frankly, I don't like it either, though I wouldn't mind playing as any Essential class EXCEPT THE BINDER (because that class was completely unnecessary IMHO) -- but at least I understand why they did it. And frankly, were it not for the poisoning of the 4E well, I would say that Essentials could've been a success... because sometimes, players simply prefer "I attack" and be rewarded with the crunching of bone; because sometimes, those players would prefer something that appeals to their sense of "reality" where warriors are able to pull off their stunts with only fatigue as a possible limitation -- hence Power Strike's encounter design was acceptable, though I may consider a houserule where Essentials classes get one extra use of their Power Strike or equivalent at level 1 PLUS one additional weapon die (or damage die) in damage, to compensate for the lack of dailies -- and stick to a simpler design that works.

Now if only this was accompanied by feats and class features that provided daily abilities that groups could opt out from, because I think one of the problems with 4E was that there was no official way to get rid of dailies, and because the primary market at the time included 3E players who to this day seem to object to houseruling, that resulted in negative feedback...
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:30 pm

chaosfang wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
More a reaction to the vociferous fans of previous editions actually not so much the designers there is a distinction.
I think MM was part of that 4e team and not originally a big picture member which is where the not "getting" 4e could have come from.
Fair enough.
He's stuck juggling a helluva torrential group of fans who are tossing rhetorical/philosophical/taste derived napalm back and forth all the time, I am not going to call him out like Lokiare does (over criticizes MMs design chops for instance). He does seem to pour on the fuel for the ewars sometimes; is this the no publicity is bad publicity angle? I will let you know when my Warlord gets done shouting somebodies arm back on... if you wonder what I am referring to.
chaosfang wrote:

Garthanos wrote:
I think versatility and peak performance is an element of balance not-just median performance (there is still some lack in versatility in 4e non-casters - less perhaps than in the past) but those splashes of peak performance in the arena of their main schtick were there (and lost in essentials). I consider them important because people notice and remember highlights, its an element of perceptual psychology.
This is where I start pulling out stuff from Penny Arcade's Extra Credits. You're probably already familiar with these, but for the sake of discussion I might as well place them anyway:

Perfect Imbalance
I visualize it as shifting non-transitivity (rock/paper/scissors) at a broad level -> magic the gathering deck design is for me the most familiar arena of this (i am way too casual in my use of WoW for this numbers game to be too obvious)... its wonderfully adjustable if people engage in upgrading and patches all the time something which is not as applicable to most folk playing rpgs as might be desired for developers to make use of.
IE you kind of need it to work in a game that isn't heavily shifting (the strategies need to there already and some need to be subtle enough to be discoverable, instead of obvious - oh look complexity). This reminds me 4e allowed a form of shift at a character level in that players could train out certain abilities that quit being as useful when you level up Arcane Reserves is a great example its even something kind of noticeable when it quits being so useful, thats player applying some development skill and if you can arrange to have fewer arcane encounter powers while having a fair number of very useful arcane at-wills you have applied player skill in character design too.  

chaosfang wrote:

Yes versatility and "peak performance" is part of the elements involving balance, and it is part of a system's ideal "perfect imbalance", and these elements can still be seen in Essentials' martial classes, except instead of "versatility" being delivered through separate powers, it is delivered through a single power [basic attack] that can be modified by feats, class features and other powers [stances, Power Strike & equivalent] (including feats that modify said powers). And while you may consider "versatility" and "peak performance" when balancing the game, you also have to consider player skill when it comes to balancing the game, as well as the metagame within the game system.
Nods, in magic the gathering a newbie can sometimes beat a great deck and player by application of simple methods  but its really under the hood because it has this huge randomizer which affects play broadly with mana flood and locks(been a while cant remember the actual words used). Which was why I mentioned the gambler/critfisher option, they brought in to next its certainly possible they have also accidently built the scissors to the other guys rock.

chaosfang wrote:

The only bit about the Essentials vs. pre-Essentials that seems to be hinted here is the presence or absence of daily powers, and daily powers alone. Might as well be honest on this: yes the existence of certain dailies would make pre-Essentials much more attractive to those who desire the complexity of gameplay found within the AEDU system, but not everybody wants (or needs) such level of complexity. So the question is, how do you design the system in such a way that a player with a low level of skill/system mastery could enjoy the game, while not invalidating the investments of players with high level of skill/system mastery?
All trade offs can be tricky players of 4e felt the sense that because just martial is simpler in essentials it was repudiating the allowance gained for martial types in the original game context that is just a perceptual thing though I think it was predictable and impacted their acceptance.   I think there were also indications that the developers weren't being sensitive to elements of the original design... for instance what I call the redefinition of basic attacks made the interaction of the new designs with the old designs problematic - Warlords and anything which boosted or provided or versatilized basic attacks becoming overpowered in the process of it for instance.
Not specifically resenting versatility coming via combinatorial/combinational? effects - but rather I am not so sure the versatility was actually there at least when I tried and looked at the slayer  it was seemingly impossible to make it do anything at all but hit and hit harder.
chaosfang wrote:

This is where I think D&D got it both right *and* wrong, depending on the facet you're looking for. The "right" bit would be where D&D provided a class/set of options that allowed for a simple, straightforward style of play without having to resort to juggling through a variety of options (see: Ranger, Barbarian), while the "wrong" bit is that it over-rewarded the players with high system mastery, allowing spellcasters to run amok at high levels of play.
If they won the spell lotto or had a generous/inexperienced dm in 1e (the obvious example might be leveraging 5mwd phenomena,sleep and charm and the like - I know some posters WOTC boards which can make convincing arguments that they could ummm win 1e as a mu by level 4 ) - they could do quite a bit of man-handling at any level of play and in 3.x era from what I have heard even a passing fair level 6 Druid swamps out the fighter (hell I think I would/could likely accidentally build some of these nasty things)

Those videos reminded me of something in 1e it suffered from what I think of as the overly wired down play list -- ever seen the yellow notepad of delineated step by step enumeration of how to go through a door? from that  era? transformed creative experience in to drudgery.(Though i never seen the scry and die play gambits in action they seem to be system holes). This high amount of player facing skill element interacts with the nature of roleplaying too...  is it really playing the role of some character who isn't you if its really mostly player facing system mastery that determines what they succeed at? Having some of that is good  though as people will indeed want skill to have some impact, but how do you juggle these things in your games design?

chaosfang wrote:

Where 4E got it "right" is where it pulled down caster firepower, while raising non-caster competency to levels where the caster can't replace the non-caster. Where I think 4E got it "wrong" is where not only did they accomplish the above by placing everyone on the same treadmill and progression
Didnt like mages being usually suckatude at low levels and easily overpowered at high levels... not interested in that differing progression being brought back...
chaosfang wrote:

but there were no alternatives for those who were so used to the pre-4E paradigm and who enjoyed their "high damage yet inflexible and potentially replaceable" non-casters; the gap between the level of skill required to play non-casters pre-4E versus 4E was so huge that even though they mechanically different, non-casters were eventually accused of being "melee casters". Thus, resulting in players simply disliking to outright hating the resulting balance.
Similar complexity even though different in what it can achieve and its approaches and the real decisions made at the table is still similar complexity... they got it in their head the non-caster must be simple - While some of us see that insistence and its apparent support by essentials as something philosophically objectionable the chronic issue of simple being equal to inferior certainly doesnt help.
chaosfang wrote:

This was what Essentials tried to fix: even if the "daily" moments were removed, fact of the matter is, not everybody wanted or even needed to be highlighted through mechanics, and some players simply wanted a gameplay that allowed a simple sort of play at the levels that were most meaningful to them. This meant a focus on levels 1-10 (at most 1-20, because really 21-30 plays more like a superheroes game than a D&D game), as well as a set of mechanics that allowed simple play while maintaining a decent level of effectiveness that allowed them to be roughly in the average aspect of play.
Having simple options can certainly be a very good thing ... but it was seen as taking away something freshly earned. And concentrating on low levels? Well 4e fans consider those high levels unfinished even in the base game... so in some sense it was easily seen to be abandonment of those levels and sure enough no Epic DMG3. Gygax referred to high level characters as exactly "superheros" so as far as I am concerned its just as D&D as the lower levels just as the inspirational archetypes mentioned in the 2e phb included many many demi-gods.  I actually do think the idea of putting higher levels in a subsequent book would actually have been a very good idea though, especially if that meant say having a druid in the phb and similar things.

chaosfang wrote:

It's not for everyone -- and frankly, I don't like it either, though I wouldn't mind playing as any Essential class EXCEPT THE BINDER (because that class was completely unnecessary IMHO) -- but at least I understand why they did it. And frankly, were it not for the poisoning of the 4E well, I would say that Essentials could've been a success... because sometimes, players simply prefer "I attack" and be rewarded with the crunching of bone; because sometimes, those players would prefer something that appeals to their sense of "reality" where warriors are able to pull off their stunts with only fatigue as a possible limitation -- hence Power Strike's encounter design was acceptable, though I may consider a houserule where Essentials classes get one extra use of their Power Strike or equivalent at level 1 PLUS one additional weapon die (or damage die) in damage, to compensate for the lack of dailies -- and stick to a simpler design that works.
Visible Compensation I think is necessary specifically because I want things to be swappable... this is the can I swap my extra crit chances for having a daily? or vice versi? thought -is a yes thank you.
chaosfang wrote:

Now if only this was accompanied by feats and class features that provided daily abilities that groups could opt out from, because I think one of the problems with 4E was that there was no official way to get rid of dailies, and because the primary market at the time included 3E players who to this day seem to object to houseruling, that resulted in negative feedback...
Nods... does sound like a great idea.
I found I finally didn't have to house rule with 4e that was quite a relaxing thing. I can understand why somebody might want the predictability of NOT houseruling.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:28 am

Garthanos wrote:
He does seem to pour on the fuel for it sometimes; is this the no publicity is bad publicity angle?
I think so. Perhaps D&D Next wasn't getting the anticipated reception so they decided, "hey, let's stir up the hornet's nest!" and released conflicting information even within the playtest.

Garthanos wrote:
I visualize it as shifting non-transitivity (rock/paper/scissors) at a broad level -> magic the gathering deck design is for me the most familiar arena of this (i am way too casual in my use of WoW for this numbers game to be too obvious)... its wonderfully adjustable if people engage in upgrading and patches all the time something which is not as applicable to most folk playing rpgs as might be desired for developers to make use of.
IE you kind of need it to work in a game that isn't heavily shifting (the strategies need to there already and some need to be subtle enough to be discoverable, instead of obvious - oh look complexity).
Except aside from the fact that Magic: the Gathering does have the Jedi curve as discussed within the video (that makes comparing it to Rock - Paper - Scissors (- Lizard - Spock) a little difficult) M:tG uses hit points and complicates play through the existence of both individual cards as well as card combinations that could possibly change the outcome of the game at any point in time (some allowing you to win on the first turn if you're lucky, some requiring 2-3 turns, while some requiring the session to DRAG along [and gives you the ability to do so]). So I can't exactly compare M:tG with rock paper scissors.

Regarding "strategies need to [be] there already and some need to be subtle enough to be discoverable, instead of obvious", that's where terrain in D&D (and in D&D 4E, terrain powers) come into play, which is something I often heard as lacking in D&D 4E: because of the (supposedly excessive) reliance on powers, the complexities involving the use of the environment against the enemies is thrown out, and it's this ingenuity involving terrain (as opposed to improvisation using powers) that is said to be completely lacking in D&D 4E... in spite of the fact that I stated just awhile ago that 4E did have these in the form of terrain powers (now if only it was printed as part of the DMG, instead of having to find it in a WotC web article).

I'd have to say though that trying to compare D&D to M:tG is rather unfair, because M:tG doesn't pit 5 players against 1 player, where the latter has access to every card in the game (and even cards that aren't in the game), while the former would be able to pull off stunts based on not only their cards, but the latter's cards as well.

Garthanos wrote:
This reminds me 4e allowed a form of shift at a character level in that players could train out certain abilities that quit being as useful when you level up Arcane Reserves is a great example its even something kind of noticeable when it quits being so useful, thats player applying some development skill and if you can arrange to have fewer arcane encounter powers while having a fair number of very useful arcane at-wills you have applied player skill in character design too.
Thankfully 4E was far more forgiving than pre-4E in assisting the players in acquiring a greater amount of system mastery, thus making the lack of such a little less painful. 

Garthanos wrote:
I think there were also indications that the developers weren't being sensitive to elements of the original design.
They weren't, at least past a certain point. Consider how originally Magic Missile was designed to be a "to-hit" spell explicitly because Magic Missile was thoroughly spammed during early playtesting, even if it wasn't the most damage-dealing of the lot, especially when minions were being thrown at the PCs (what the designers failed to take into account then was the fact that MM was meant to be spammed even in pre-4E, especially during times when the opponent was weak). Now when they revised the current MM to reflect the classical MM, they apparently designed it with the understanding that it'd never actually roll to hit, and thus denying it a whole lot of bonuses, so they compensated it by redesigning game elements that interacted with MM, resulting in a setup where even though the new MM was weaker in the eyes of CharOp, for casual play it was just fine and could even be amped up to somewhat respectable levels thanks to magic items. So at least in some regard, they were aware of the mechanical balances in D&D 4E.

However, there's only so much you can do when dealing with both your scope & limitations, and the mechanical glut that had bloated 4E. The game's dynamics beyond a certain point required a level of understanding of the system that we all know Mike Mearls & co. simply didn't have, hence it didn't -- couldn't -- work past level 20 (and while it did work past level 10, it was already very strained at that point, reminiscent of previous editions of D&D).

Garthanos wrote:
Not specifically resenting versatility coming via combinatorial/combinational? effects - but rather I am not so sure the versatility was actually there at least when I tried and looked at the slayer  it was seemingly impossible to make it do anything at all but hit and hit harder.
Three things:
1. The archetypical striker already devolved into a pissing contest on who dealt the most damage, so the more niche builds like mobile rangers, animal companions, non-DPR rogues, etc. were kinda left in the dark at this point anyway,
2. Magic items, and
3. This is where skill checks and improvisation ought to kick in. Yes, everyone can improvise, but the availability of options does not equate to the likelihood of using said options (after all, why should a Fighter improvise when 70% to 90% of the time his 4-17+ powers are clearly sufficient for the purposes at hand?)

Yes 2 & 3 require GM input, but aside from the fact that it really should be proper GM etiquette to play with players rather than against them, some players really do prefer the "hit", "hit differently", and "hit harder" design of pre-4E for basic classes, and relying on improvisation and gear to make them very powerful.

Garthanos wrote:
Those videos reminded me of something in 1e it suffered from what I think of as the overly wired down play list -- ever seen the yellow notepad of delineated step by step enumeration of how to go through a door? from that  era? transformed creative experience in to drudgery.(Though i never seen the scry and die play gambits in action they seem to be system holes). This high amount of player facing skill element interacts with the nature of roleplaying too...  is it really playing the role of some character who isn't you if its really mostly player facing system mastery that determines what they succeed at? Having some of that is good  though as people will indeed want skill to have some impact, but how do you juggle these things in your games design?
Rather than type another wall of text on the discussion, here's another set of related Extra Credits videos:


Aesthetics of play. This is very important for game designers that I feel Rob Heinsoo was spot on for, and Mike Mearls dropped the ball on especially when it came to Essentials.


Narrative mechanics. The way I see it, D&D pre-4E relayed a specific set of narrative, that 4E simply can't deliver because of the AEDU design, which is why it doesn't "feel like D&D" for some.


Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic rewards for gameplay. I think this is where the engagement factor of powers could be weighed in, as well as help DMs could be able to design their campaigns and sessions in such a way that combat -- which has often been an extrinsically rewarding facet of D&D (because what people are really after would be the loot & the story progression) -- becomes an intrinsically rewarding facet of the game, and thus the point of making combat last for hours becomes a feature rather than a flaw in D&D 4E.


Difference in Scale vs. Difference in Kind. Helps not only in adventure design, but also in the power design as well Smile

Seriously, Extra Credits is a great venue for lay people like us to get a glimpse on how game design works Very Happy highly recommended when you have the free time Wink

Garthanos wrote:
Didnt like mages being usually suckatude at low levels and easily overpowered at high levels... not interested in that differing progression being brought back...
But A) wasn't D&D Next being criticized for just about everybody being suckatude at all levels? And B) in spite of the fact that martial classes in Essentials lacked dailies and casters in Essentials had dailies, aren't dailies in 4E generally considered underpowered, especially when compared to pre-4E systems, and thus the "performance peak" of casters not as impressive as it might've been?

Then again, due to the changes to Wizard spells in Essentials (namely the adding of half damage on a miss to stuff like Burning Hands) and the auto-success spells in Hold Person and Mass Charm), I suppose you could say that there was a deliberate attempt at cranking up spellcaster power in Essentials.
Garthanos wrote:
Similar complexity even though different in what it can achieve and its approaches and the real decisions made at the table is still similar complexity... they got it in their head the non-caster must be simple - While some of us see that insistence and its apparent support by essentials as something philosophically objectionable the chronic issue of simple being equal to inferior certainly doesnt help.
The way I see it, simple does not have to mean inferior. That's where balancing for player skill comes in, and why I feel that the modern designs seen in both Dungeon World and 13th Age are leagues better than Essentials design.

Garthanos wrote:
Having simple options can certainly be a very good thing ... but it was seen as taking away something freshly earned.
How? Weaponmasters were never dumbed down, and you could certainly play a Weaponmaster alongside, a Knight, a Slayer, a Mage and a Wizard, and as long as the Slayer and the Knight don't become jealous of the Weaponmaster, Mage and Wizard -- and I do personally know of several players who would be happy to play as Slayers or Knights without a second thought, even without attack dailies (partly because they still have utility dailies), so this is far less theoretical than it sounds -- then there wouldn't really be an issue.

Garthanos wrote:
And concentrating on low levels? Well 4e fans consider those high levels unfinished even in the base game... so in some sense it was easily seen to be abandonment of those levels and sure enough no Epic DMG3. Gygax referred to high level characters as exactly "superheros" so as far as I am concerned its just as D&D as the lower levels just as the inspirational archetypes mentioned in the 2e phb included many many demi-gods.  I actually do think the idea of putting higher levels in a subsequent book would actually have been a very good idea though, especially if that meant say having a druid in the phb and similar things.
Given the relatively low percentage of players who actually even get close to level 20, I'm not surprised that the closest to a DMG3 would have to be made by the few who have actually been there. Hence, this little gem.

Garthanos wrote:
Visible Compensation I think is necessary specifically because I want things to be swappable... this is the can I swap my extra crit chances for having a daily? or vice versi? thought -is a yes thank you.
Not sure about that, given the incomparable nature of dailies vs. crits.

Garthanos wrote:
I found I finally didn't have to house rule with 4e that was quite a relaxing thing. I can understand why somebody might want the predictability of NOT houseruling.
I think errata is seriously worth incorporating though, since without them you'd have a whole slew of broken stuff in the PHB alone...
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PostSubject: Re: Main differences between Original 4e, and Essentials 4e   Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:01 am

chaosfang wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
He does seem to pour on the fuel for it sometimes; is this the no publicity is bad publicity angle?
I think so. Perhaps D&D Next wasn't getting the anticipated reception so they decided, "hey, let's stir up the hornet's nest!" and released conflicting information even within the playtest.

Garthanos wrote:
I visualize it as shifting non-transitivity (rock/paper/scissors) at a broad level -> magic the gathering deck design is for me the most familiar arena of this (i am way too casual in my use of WoW for this numbers game to be too obvious)... its wonderfully adjustable if people engage in upgrading and patches all the time something which is not as applicable to most folk playing rpgs as might be desired for developers to make use of.
IE you kind of need it to work in a game that isn't heavily shifting (the strategies need to there already and some need to be subtle enough to be discoverable, instead of obvious - oh look complexity).
Except aside from the fact that Magic: the Gathering does have the Jedi curve as discussed within the video (that makes comparing it to Rock - Paper - Scissors (- Lizard - Spock) a little difficult) M:tG uses hit points and complicates play through the existence of both individual cards as well as card combinations that could possibly change the outcome of the game at any point in time (some allowing you to win on the first turn if you're lucky, some requiring 2-3 turns, while some requiring the session to DRAG along [and gives you the ability to do so]). So I can't exactly compare M:tG with rock paper scissors.
I certainly grant its difficult you have to adjust your lense level. Magic is obviously much more complex = I think the comparison is fair at deck style level  (like I said broad) and only sporadically at individual action levels, but even then involves.. multiple factors, in general its play involves usage methods (some are simple for that newbie and some come down to very detailed application of card combos - one with expertise beat others using without using their own deck if the deck includes those of any complexity) not just the big this is your tool effect you see in roshambo. And while hit points draw out play their is alternate winning methods like decking or poisoning (both are a bit like alternate hit points).  The element of Game theory I was identifying as being the same as non-transitivity was the videos A>B>C>A and so on or more complex stars with inner stars.

A roshambo can be made to be incredibly elaborate by the way... imbalanced 30 odd pt roshambo is kind of the description of a certain combat flipp book game called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Worlds_(gamebook)


chaosfang wrote:

Regarding "strategies need to [be] there already and some need to be subtle enough to be discoverable, instead of obvious", that's where terrain in D&D (and in D&D 4E, terrain powers) come into play, which is something I often heard as lacking in D&D 4E: because of the (supposedly excessive) reliance on powers, the complexities involving the use of the environment against the enemies is thrown out, and it's this ingenuity involving terrain (as opposed to improvisation using powers) that is said to be completely lacking in D&D 4E... in spite of the fact that I stated just awhile ago that 4E did have these in the form of terrain powers (now if only it was printed as part of the DMG, instead of having to find it in a WotC web article).
Sure having things like that and themes out of the gate couldnt hurt.
Quote :

I'd have to say though that trying to compare D&D to M:tG is rather unfair, because M:tG doesn't pit 5 players against 1 player, where the latter has access to every card in the game (and even cards that aren't in the game), while the former would be able to pull off stunts based on not only their cards, but the latter's cards as well.
That aspect I refer to as DM's play to lose with style and inspire/induce style in the players winning ;p, life's a grand illusion.
Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
This reminds me 4e allowed a form of shift at a character level in that players could train out certain abilities that quit being as useful when you level up Arcane Reserves is a great example its even something kind of noticeable when it quits being so useful, thats player applying some development skill and if you can arrange to have fewer arcane encounter powers while having a fair number of very useful arcane at-wills you have applied player skill in character design too.
Thankfully 4E was far more forgiving than pre-4E in assisting the players in acquiring a greater amount of system mastery, thus making the lack of such a little less painful. 
Sure just as that +2 damage on at-will powers was pretty subtle not overwhelming benefit.
Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
I think there were also indications that the developers weren't being sensitive to elements of the original design.
They weren't, at least past a certain point. Consider how originally Magic Missile was designed to be a "to-hit" spell explicitly because Magic Missile was thoroughly spammed during early playtesting, even if it wasn't the most damage-dealing of the lot, especially when minions were being thrown at the PCs (what the designers failed to take into account then was the fact that MM was meant to be spammed even in pre-4E, especially during times when the opponent was weak). Now when they revised the current MM to reflect the classical MM, they apparently designed it with the understanding that it'd never actually roll to hit, and thus denying it a whole lot of bonuses, so they compensated it by redesigning game elements that interacted with MM, resulting in a setup where even though the new MM was weaker in the eyes of CharOp, for casual play it was just fine and could even be amped up to somewhat respectable levels thanks to magic items. So at least in some regard, they were aware of the mechanical balances in D&D 4E.

However, there's only so much you can do when dealing with both your scope & limitations, and the mechanical glut that had bloated 4E. The game's dynamics beyond a certain point required a level of understanding of the system that we all know Mike Mearls & co. simply didn't have, hence it didn't -- couldn't -- work past level 20 (and while it did work past level 10, it was already very strained at that point, reminiscent of previous editions of D&D).

Garthanos wrote:
Not specifically resenting versatility coming via combinatorial/combinational? effects - but rather I am not so sure the versatility was actually there at least when I tried and looked at the slayer  it was seemingly impossible to make it do anything at all but hit and hit harder.
Three things:
1. The archetypical striker already devolved into a pissing contest on who dealt the most damage, so the more niche builds like mobile rangers, animal companions, non-DPR rogues, etc. were kinda left in the dark at this point anyway,
Meh I could atleast make my proper 4e ranger have some control via feats and such - Im not enough of an optimization hound that dpr is the be all for me. (maybe I dont actually like strikers so much and cant review it well because of that)
Quote :

2. Magic items, and
3. This is where skill checks and improvisation ought to kick in.  Yes, everyone can improvise, but the availability of options does not equate to the likelihood of using said options (after all, why should a Fighter improvise when 70% to 90% of the time his 4-17+ powers are clearly sufficient for the purposes at hand?)
Improvisation only really actually makes sense when you are for some reason forced out of your areas of real competency ie irl it mostly makes sense for representing when you are in "boat out of water" circumstances a lot of the time ie more than that 10  to 30 percent of the time... why on earth would you be improvising more than that?

I think skills need more combat uses. For instance could intimidate (or bluff) induce conditions other than give up?  sure could - could other skills be used to push and pull enemies around ? - that I feel could be enumerated more) as that could give directly available options of course i end up wanting to cannibalize the powers in to battlefield use of skills.

Magic items didnt work well in 1e for that purpose except in a very unreliable and dm dependent way but is a much more workable route in 4e (the recommended item rate and wishlists - I actively asked players what they thought might be cool for their characters a long time before wish lists), though personally I think more use of boons and blessings (something like my efforts to make these player creatable via martial practices / bound by oaths and geasa and regimen/) opens this route further to versatility.

Quote :

Yes 2 & 3 require GM input, but aside from the fact that it really should be proper GM etiquette to play with players rather than against them, some players really do prefer the "hit", "hit differently", and "hit harder" design of pre-4E for basic classes, and relying on improvisation and gear to make them very powerful.
not really or barely differently seems very spammy like a dpr ranger with no out doors on that lock down..

Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
Those videos reminded me of something in 1e it suffered from what I think of as the overly wired down play list -- ever seen the yellow notepad of delineated step by step enumeration of how to go through a door? from that  era? transformed creative experience in to drudgery.(Though i never seen the scry and die play gambits in action they seem to be system holes). This high amount of player facing skill element interacts with the nature of roleplaying too...  is it really playing the role of some character who isn't you if its really mostly player facing system mastery that determines what they succeed at? Having some of that is good  though as people will indeed want skill to have some impact, but how do you juggle these things in your games design?
Rather than type another wall of text on the discussion, here's another set of related Extra Credits videos:

Aesthetics of play. This is very important for game designers that I feel Rob Heinsoo was spot on for, and Mike Mearls dropped the ball on especially when it came to Essentials.

Narrative mechanics. The way I see it, D&D pre-4E relayed a specific set of narrative, that 4E simply can't deliver because of the AEDU design, which is why it doesn't "feel like D&D" for some.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic rewards for gameplay. I think this is where the engagement factor of powers could be weighed in, as well as help DMs could be able to design their campaigns and sessions in such a way that combat -- which has often been an extrinsically rewarding facet of D&D (because what people are really after would be the loot & the story progression) -- becomes an intrinsically rewarding facet of the game, and thus the point of making combat last for hours becomes a feature rather than a flaw in D&D 4E.

Difference in Scale vs. Difference in Kind. Helps not only in adventure design, but also in the power design as well Smile

Seriously, Extra Credits is a great venue for lay people like us to get a glimpse on how game design works :Dhighly recommended when you have the free time Wink
noticing its awesomeness...

Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
Didnt like mages being usually suckatude at low levels and easily overpowered at high levels... not interested in that differing progression being brought back...
But A) wasn't D&D Next being criticized for just about everybody being suckatude at all levels? And B) in spite of the fact that martial classes in Essentials lacked dailies and casters in Essentials had dailies, aren't dailies in 4E generally considered underpowered, especially when compared to pre-4E systems, and thus the "performance peak" of casters not as impressive as it might've been?
Dailies at low levels are a smaller component for everyone and therefore less missed at low levels yes.
Quote :

Then again, due to the changes to Wizard spells in Essentials (namely the adding of half damage on a miss to stuff like Burning Hands) and the auto-success spells in Hold Person and Mass Charm), I suppose you could say that there was a deliberate attempt at cranking up spellcaster power in Essentials.
Garthanos wrote:
Similar complexity even though different in what it can achieve and its approaches and the real decisions made at the table is still similar complexity... they got it in their head the non-caster must be simple - While some of us see that insistence and its apparent support by essentials as something philosophically objectionable the chronic issue of simple being equal to inferior certainly doesnt help.
The way I see it, simple does not have to mean inferior. That's where balancing for player skill comes in, and why I feel that the modern designs seen in both Dungeon World and 13th Age are leagues better than Essentials design.
Doesnt HAVE to mean inferior.. granted however it usually does meant that - its that old separate but equal rarely is actually equal - not familiar with dungeon world and only building some 13Age interest currently.
Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
Having simple options can certainly be a very good thing ... but it was seen as taking away something freshly earned.
How?
It was made the entry point for the game and re-covered most of the same archetypes except the ones most distinctly 4e (like the Warlord who ironically is one whose game impact was changed perhaps the most by the new designs).

Including a simple mage and a complex fighter of some form would have been good... instead of just simple rehashes for martial types and adding complications to the mage.
Quote :

Weaponmasters were never dumbed down, and you could certainly play a Weaponmaster alongside, a Knight, a Slayer, a Mage and a Wizard, and as long as the Slayer and the Knight don't become jealous of the Weaponmaster, Mage and Wizard -- and I do personally know of several players who would be happy to play as Slayers or Knights without a second thought, even without attack dailies (partly because they still have utility dailies), so this is far less theoretical than it sounds -- then there wouldn't really be an issue.

Garthanos wrote:
And concentrating on low levels? Well 4e fans consider those high levels unfinished even in the base game... so in some sense it was easily seen to be abandonment of those levels and sure enough no Epic DMG3. Gygax referred to high level characters as exactly "superheros" so as far as I am concerned its just as D&D as the lower levels just as the inspirational archetypes mentioned in the 2e phb included many many demi-gods.  I actually do think the idea of putting higher levels in a subsequent book would actually have been a very good idea though, especially if that meant say having a druid in the phb and similar things.
Given the relatively low percentage of players who actually even get close to level 20, I'm not surprised that the closest to a DMG3 would have to be made by the few who have actually been there. Hence, this little gem.
That's pretty cool and interesting and fairly impressive - seen it recently in the useful links thread, there were other elements I would have liked perhaps in a DMG3 including world building guidelines and perhaps guide-lines on adjusting for genres or similar.

Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
Visible Compensation I think is necessary specifically because I want things to be swappable... this is the can I swap my extra crit chances for having a daily? or vice versi? thought -is a yes thank you.
Not sure about that, given the incomparable nature of dailies vs. crits.
If you can compute a rough number of opportunities for crits available on your typical day you can compute a translation (presume only 1 crit allowed in a round or similar limits) use that 20 to 30 rounds of battle per diem you end up acknowledging the correlation is probabilistic and not totally reliable - but it suits the "gambler" personality - even if not my cuppa java.

Quote :

Garthanos wrote:
I found I finally didn't have to house rule with 4e that was quite a relaxing thing. I can understand why somebody might want the predictability of NOT houseruling.
I think errata is seriously worth incorporating though, since without them you'd have a whole slew of broken stuff in the PHB alone...
Not always impressed with the methods used (heavy handed on occasion) always seemed way less necessary for casual play, not saying that I don't appreciate the diligence that was applied.

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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