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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15724 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  20:02:57  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
So I've been hanging out over on the Paizo forums the past few days, and I just realized something odd (at least, odd to me). DMs looking for help building certain character types (in other words, trying to convert something they like from elsewhere and have it fit within the PF framework of rules). Now, I understand perfectly when players want to do this, but DMs? Did I miss something?

I grew up with OD&D, then AD&D and then 2e. In those editions a DM could use whatever he wanted - he didn't need to justify anything within the rules. Now, I realize that 3e handed the players an unprecedented (and unnecessary) amount of power and flexibility, but did this work both ways? Did the creation of rules for every little thing also mean that DMs had to fall into that same framework?

I noticed back when Eric Boyb was working on his Daggerford stuff he was looking for some 3e rules to explain-away a power an NPC had, and I recall thinking (at that time) WHY? Why does a DM have to explain anything an NPC can do? Was this some sort of unforeseen (and undesired) side-effect to giving the players more rules structure to work within?

The folks on the Paizo forums seem to think nothing of this - that DMs should/have to explain within game-terms how certain things are possible. Back in 1e/2e that NPC Eric was working on had that power and no-one questioned it. Why did it become a problem in the 3e rules? Did the designers accidentally break something important to the game? Whilst trying to give players more power, did they strip the DM of his?

This is just something I think they need to think about moving forward. This is more of a 'D&D' thing (rules) then a setting thing, but I think if FR is going to be the flagship setting, and gets tied directly to the rules (as Golarion and Pathfinder are), then they need to consider this point. I think part of the problem with the 3e material was the desire to explain everything, which had the side-effect of stealing away some of the setting's mystery. If we try to slap rules onto every little thing, the universe becomes just a little bit smaller, and not so wondrous.

Its like when Jack Sparrow was looking at the dead Kraken - the beast was trying to kill him, but he realized the world was lessened for its loss.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 31 Dec 2012 20:47:44

sleyvas
Skilled Spell Strategist

USA
11759 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  20:30:58  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Actually, that's why I like 3.5. The DM is basically playing by the same rules as the players. While I enjoy as a DM being god-like in power.... I also like knowing that I'm not cheating against my players. I hope they keep that concept, but I don't think they will (because 4e broke away from it with monster design).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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LordofBones
Master of Realmslore

1508 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  20:40:55  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No reason why select NPCs can't have special attributes tied to their station and experiences. Like the below ability:

Zulkir of Evocation (Ex) Aznar Thrul doubles the bonuses he gets from his Evocation-enhancing feats. He can spontaneously cast his Evocation spells.
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Kentinal
Great Reader

4686 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  21:09:32  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In part in could be because 3rd opened up all classes, dual classing was also made easier. In 1st and 2nd, anything an PC could do an NPC could do. The NPC however clearly could do things a PC could never be permitted to do. In 3rd PCs could gain ability of any NPC, oh some cost alot however any effect could be achieved.
There is also these days far much just saying it is magic, this likely follows from PCs able to do magic, no longer class restrictions that prevented some races having PC spell casters. So if the NPC can do it the player now expects to be told how they can do it.

Could be something else as well, however my thoughts of the moment.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36787 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  21:41:48  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Or it could be a simple thing of Eric wanting to make sure that NPCs and PCs played by the same set of rules.

I know if I was DM'ing, I wouldn't want to make someone that had an ability that was impossible for PCs to get. Very difficult and/or morally questionable, sure. Absolutely impossible, shy of using a wish? Nope, not cool.

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Jeremy Grenemyer
Great Reader

USA
2717 Posts

Posted - 31 Dec 2012 :  23:40:53  Show Profile Send Jeremy Grenemyer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

In 1st and 2nd, anything an PC could do an NPC could do. The NPC however clearly could do things a PC could never be permitted to do. In 3rd PCs could gain ability of any NPC, oh some cost a lot however any effect could be achieved.
That pretty much nails it right there.

One of the key design features of 3rd Edition was that NPCs shouldn't have access to game rules that are inaccessible to PCs.

Good examples of this are 2nd Edition Realms sourcebooks filled with rules unique to NPCs.

Another facet of 3E is that if something exists in a game world, there ought to be a mechanic to describe it. This way you translate flavor into mechanics, making that transition seamless, while encouraging players and DMs to look at fluffy lore and crunchy rules as interchangeable and easily manged.

I think it's always been a strength of 3rd Edition that it's built this way There is such a thing as too much, of course (3Es middle years of endlessly uncreative Prestige Classes), but at least WotC got it right with their Realms sourcebooks at the beginning and ending of 3E's run.

To me, what Paizo is doing sounds like a natural extension of the 3E mindset. It's not about "having to" so much as it's just smarter (for a lot of reasons) to do it that way.

Look for me and my content at EN World (user name: sanishiver).
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vorpalanvil
Seeker

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  00:35:54  Show Profile Send vorpalanvil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Markustay really hit on something with his comment about losing some of the wonder since d20 became the norm. Books once written for DM's are now largely written for pc's (for obvious economic reasons). The older editions had a little more of a seat of your pants feel than the current form it has taken on. It was always "implied" that a DM could do within reason whatever it took to keep the story going. Quick thinking players could always find an unforseen option. Now, if it's not in the book, you can't do it. All the great DM's I have known would have made great jazz drummers. Sadly, roleplaying has taken a backseat to mmo style action. I really don't understand how these companies make any money considering the ease with which you can play an online rpg these days.

"I'm a busy man! I got places to go, monsters to kill!" attributed to 1st level bard
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15724 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  00:45:24  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
EDIT: Vorpalanvil posted before my comment went through, so this post is meant in response to ones above his.

But I think it is more then that - I think its not just D&D and gamers, I think it may be 'the new mindset'. Folks aren't happy anymore just knowing something IS, the want to know why it is. Movies, TV programs, and books that were popular back in the 50's and 60's would no longer work because of the lack of plausibility.

Everyone wants to 'peak behind the curtain'. How mysterious is the world when every piece of information is at our fingertips?

Not so much a gripe as an observation. I think of lots of 'cool stuff' to throw at my players, but I don't want to have to sit there and figure out the science behind every little thing. If I say a candle is burning in a vacuum, then I want my players to wonder at it, not tell me its impossible and show me why on their smartphones.

No-one else thinks this beholden-ness to the rules takes quite a bit of the story-telling nature away from the DM? He/she is no longer in-charge - the rulebooks are.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 01 Jan 2013 15:54:11
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
4211 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  00:52:34  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wonder...pure wonder and amazement.

That is what D&D used to be to many...now it is rules.

There is no reason that a rule must define all things...no reason beyond the same ol' drudgery of normalcy and everything fitting.

NPCs should have abilities that players can't have...and players should have things unique to them that no other can have as well. Fantasy isn't about "not breaking the rules" it is about bending the imagination...then blowing it all to hell and sending your mind flying to the farthest reaches it can.

To hell with rules...story and fun is what it is all about to me. Rules are only a rough guideline...not a system of "equality" for all.

The Old Grey Box and AD&D for me!
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Tyrant
Senior Scribe

USA
586 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  01:18:08  Show Profile  Visit Tyrant's Homepage Send Tyrant a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is coming from someone who hasn't played the RPG (but does own a number of RPG books), only the miniature game while it was going and some of the 3.x edition video games, just to be clear.

I don't see why you can't have both. You want an NPC to have an ability your players can't have? Set conditions to get that ability that your players can't ever hope to achieve. It's a divine gift, or it comes from an ancient relic of a lost empire (Nethril, Imaskar, whatever) that by virtue of survivng the changes in magic is now truly and utterly unique and can never hope to be recreated. If you need more, it takes someone of a specific bloodline to use the relic and the NPC is the only survivng member of that bloodline. Do the 3.x rules say you can't do that?

Beyond that though, characters existing in the same universe should follow the same basic rules so I don't see the problem with their being one overall set of rules for everyone. The NPCs got their abilities somehow so it stands to reason someone else could also get those abilities (barring some unique chain of events, and as far as I know 3.x doesn't bar anyone from using that reasoning to give someone a unique ability).

Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.
-The Sith Code

Teenage Sith zombies, Tulkh thought-how in the moons of Bogden had it all started? Every so often, the universe must just get bored and decide to really cut loose. -Star Wars: Red Harvest
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
4432 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  01:42:12  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay


I grew up with OD&D, then AD&D and then 2e. In those editions a DM could use whatever he wanted - he didn't need to justify anything within the rules. Now, I realize that 3e handed the players an unprecedented (and unnecessary) amount of power and flexibility, but did this work both ways? Did the creation of rules for every little thing also mean that DMs had to fall into that same framework?

I noticed back when Eric Boyb was working on his Daggerford stuff he was looking for some 3e rules to explain-away a power an NPC had, and I recall thinking (at that time) WHY? Why does a DM have to explain anything an NPC can do? Was this some sort of unforeseen (and undesired) side-effect to giving the players more rules structure to work within?




Like in 3e/v3.5, monsters follow the same rule/progression as characters and thus, are limited to the same stipulations and restricions or else any meager balance contained is lost. Players know this and when a NPC or Monster uses a special ability that's beyond them, they wonder how they can get this power or want to know how a monster has such an ability (racial, divine, class-based??).

At first I really enjoyed this mentality (fair is fair, right?) but as I got into playing 4E a lot more, I realised that making monsters that are often used once then it makes little sense for them to go through the SAME hoops and loops as players. And when I want NPCs to stay around longer, putting in escape-plans is much harder when those same plans are also employeed by PCs as well.

For 4E, they diverged Monster and PC design and I think it's a godsend now. I don't have to justify anything to my players and players don't really question because 9/10 their abilities are far more reaching and powerful than what monsters can do.
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Jeremy Grenemyer
Great Reader

USA
2717 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  10:46:18  Show Profile Send Jeremy Grenemyer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I guess I don’t understand where this cynical attitude comes from that if you design a game rule for something, you’re subtracting from the wonder of the setting. I’m not sure how this works—I haven’t seen it at the gaming table—but I can say with confidence that this concept wasn’t 3Es goal as far as the Realms was concerned.

If anything, it was the opposite: 3E’s goal (one it succeeded at, hands down) was to open up the Realms by allowing DMs and players (primarily through Prestige Classes, magic items and spells) to engage with the setting such that they could create very flavorful characters, NPCs, monsters and encounters that truly fit the Realms.

I don’t think for a second the idea that players wanting a peek behind the curtain is some sort of new attitude—far from it! Players through every iteration of D&D have been rules-savvy and insistent that if the rules say things work a certain way then by gosh that’s how the DM should be doing it.

I think the problem, such that it exists, is that with more rules (the three core rulebooks weighing in at 300 pages each, never mind the FRCS—from which 100 pages were cut before it saw print) came more player insistence that things can only work one way.

Combine that with the unspoken—but very much there in every generation of D&D players—attitude that the rules should ultimately benefit a player, and you have a situation where players are vastly more empowered then a DM.

3Es big mistake, IMO, was not doing the same for DMs. Sure DMs got a lot of tools, but this leveled the playing field more than it should have.

3E over corrected and the unfortunate result was the art of storytelling got lost in all those rules.

4E tried to correct this and was somewhat successful.

Look for me and my content at EN World (user name: sanishiver).
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Marc
Senior Scribe

657 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  11:33:11  Show Profile Send Marc a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It is only a problem with players who limit themselves with rules, I think that after AD&D there's even more options. I run a 3rd edition-Pathfinder Planescape campaign where there are a lot of unique NPC's with weird powers, for example Hashkar, Fell, Esmus ... - nothing in the rules is stopping you from adding extra wild powers or whatever.

.
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
4432 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  12:45:25  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
IME with v3.5 a lot of players knew the rules extreamly well, and that went from both the Player's perspective to the DM's perspective (such as designing monsters). What that did was put everyone into the same mix. PCs, NPCs, and Monsters ALL played by the same exact rules for leveling, Ability Scores, Power-aquisition, Feats, HP, HD, Skill ranks, etc...

Now, the adverse effect this had was that it put DMs into straight-jackets when it came to creating unique and varied Monsters and NPCs. For example, an Elf NPC wielding two Bastardswords is going to raise some eye-brows, espically if the group is low level. Instanlty they're going to assume that the elf took the prerequisite feats (Two-Weapon Fighting, Exotic Weap. Prof. [Bastardsword], Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting) and that would HAVE to put him at the very least a 2nd level Fighter (1st level Feat, Fighter 1 bonus feat, Fighter 2 bonus feat) plus he'd have to have some considerable skill if he's doing something like 1d10 + 4 damage with each attack. Then, the PCs know that he's at least a CR 2.

Now, it could be he's much much higher in level and the DM is showing the group that this isn't WoW and high level people/monsters ranger outside of their "target" zone OR he didn't even bother with the make-up of NPC design and just said "Hmm, this could be cool. Lets go with it". IF the players find out that he's not "Legal" (as in, build within the confines of the rules) then it'll cause a huge trust problem between DM and Group and if he's just a super-high level NPC, then they might just throw their hands up because any attempt to defeat such as foe might be nigh useless. This is espically ture if the dynamic of such an NPC is designed for attacking the PCs.

Further, when DMs start going outside the scope of monster design (adding spells, extra feats, more skill ranks) it instantly changes this character's challenge rating and thus, could become far stronger (or weaker) than the DM had originally intended. A few feat combos and 1 spell might sound really awesome but, in practice, might lead to an unintentional TPK or an easy encounter for PCs when it should've been threatening. Couple this with an already wishy-washy system of CR and, IMO, leads to situations that neither sides of the screen want to be in. I had a 5th level "battle" sorcerer NPC fight some PCs. I have him a 2-handed weapon, the spell Wraithstrike and the Power Attack + Cleave feats. Yea, he was NOT a CR 5 encounter, by any stretch of the means.


Now, 4E design is that Monsters don't follow the same rules as PCs. You want a 1st level Elf (soldier) that uses two bastardswords and fights with scale armor and has decent stats, go ahead because more than likely it'll be balanced. But NOT because it followed some path of Skill/Feat path but because it's Defenses/HP and "powers" are adjusted by level, which determine how hard it is. And because of this separation of NPC and PC, I've never heard a player complain about a monster/NPC build that wasn't "legit" because it doesn't follow the same formula as they do. The balance is in the numbers, not the abilities.

Edited by - Diffan on 01 Jan 2013 13:13:58
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BlackAce
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
358 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  14:19:55  Show Profile Send BlackAce a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Actually, that's why I like 3.5. The DM is basically playing by the same rules as the players. While I enjoy as a DM being god-like in power.... I also like knowing that I'm not cheating against my players.



Ditto. I wouldn't want to adopt the Catalyst approach and have a rule for everything, but one of the major reasons I started DMing more than playing was because I'd gotten tired of GMs who 'electric fenced' their campaigns in order to force their players down a desired path. I HATED that. The players should be driving the campaign, not the GM.
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Neil
Learned Scribe

Canada
107 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  14:54:53  Show Profile  Visit Neil's Homepage Send Neil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You know, GMs not playing by the rules never really bothered me, so long as they spun a good tale for us. Then again, I can see how it would be a problem for some people, depending on play styles. A player trying to extrapolate metagame info from a character who doesn't follow the rules would get frustrated pretty quick, for example. I remember once upon a time we had a Pierce Hawthorne 'I won Dungeons and Dragons!' player with us for a bit back in the 2nd edition days, and if he couldn't find rules for something, he would get indignant about 'cheating'. Eventually he found another group that was more his style, which made everyone happy.
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15724 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  15:52:05  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
4th edition's approach - and their stated goals- I applaud. However, I think they over-compensated for 3e's weaknesses, just as 3e did for the editions before them. The DM does indeed have more power, and I love the way monsters and most NPCs don't have full stats (my biggest peeve with 3e, which is STILL my favorite edition). Where I think they failed miserably is in over-balancing the classes. 3e may be indirectly responsible for this as well - there were so many broken classes/PrCs in 3e that they went overboard trying to keep EVERYTHING on the same playing field.

I am hoping beyond hope that the 5e rules will be somewhere in between over-designed and under-whelming; that proverbial 'sweet spot' for gaming. I want to tell stories, and I want the rules to help with that, not get in the way.

Just as a quick side-question, which I only just thought of and is related to the thread subject: Do we need another set of rules? Since WotC has made it clear they will be reprinting the rules to all previous editions, and we all already have our favorites, are they just further fracturing the fanbase? And then there is Pathfinder... the most popular fantasy RPG in the world (according to their own claims, and after going to Gencon believe it). Would it be so awful if WotC just stuck to fluff and giving us great setting material and adventures? Tha's precisely what they wanted everyone else to do when 3e was released, but now the shoe is on the other foot. With 4 - 5 if you count OD&D - editions behind us, and Pathfinder going strong (not to mention dozens of other good but lesser-known systems), what is the point of them creating yet another set of rules? (unless they are truly Golden, in which case I will applaud them).

I think that might be the ultimate solution for them. They haven't been a 'rules company' since TSR (which stood for Tactical Studies Rules). Its all the great settings they have that keep us coming back now (and what this forum is all about). I realize they are DEEP into development of 5e D&D, and thats fine. They should release those rules (for free... yeah... right LOL), but not continue to create a trillion splats for them (which ultimately breaks the rules). What they should do IMHO is release a good, basic set of rules, with maybe 3-5 books (like "the good old days"), and then just focus on hammering out great setting stuff.

You know what I think? I think a LOT of those Golarion players are ex-FR players, and a lot miss and want to come home. Its just easier for them to run Pathfinder in Golarion because the rules are designed with that world in mind. If FR began supporting the PF rules, my guess is you'd see a rather large turn-around. Do to them what they did to WotC - its a two-way street. Use their own rules against them.

Sorry if this post was over-long. Its just that a lot of this has been weighing heavily upon my mind for the past few weeks. I just started a PF game set in Faerûn for my boys, and we are having lots of fun with it. No edition war, or 'them vs 'us'. Just good, clean fun (except for the goblin blood... but we have wet-wipes for that).

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 01 Jan 2013 15:53:57
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crazedventurers
Master of Realmslore

United Kingdom
1073 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  16:28:40  Show Profile  Visit crazedventurers's Homepage Send crazedventurers a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jeremy Grenemyer

If anything, it was the opposite: 3E’s goal (one it succeeded at, hands down) was to open up the Realms by allowing DMs and players (primarily through Prestige Classes, magic items and spells) to engage with the setting such that they could create very flavorful characters, NPCs, monsters and encounters that truly fit the Realms.



(Disclaimer: Jeremy not a dig at you in the slightest {and I unreservedly apologize now if you feel it is}, but at the 3.x mindset as discussed in your post and re-iterated in many similar forms on many different forums over the last 10 years or so)


Of course you could do what we oldies still do and make it up (I think for D&D next it is called 'Theatre of the Mind'......). You should never ever ever need feats and PrC to make your character a Realms Character (or Eberron or Greyhawk or any other setting etc). It is the player and DM interaction that makes it a Realms campaign and the PC's, Realms PC's

I do not see how you need any of the 3.x mechanics to 'engage with the setting', the setting was originally inspired by Ed to tell stories and developed into an AD&D world post 1978 or so, so little if any mechanics were required then or indeed now.

Obviously this is my personal opinion on things and as ever fits with what I like to see, read and play with in the Realms.


Oh and to answer Mark's original post it has something to do with 'balance' apparently. So everyone (PC/NPC) is all the same and the world is a 'happy-clappy' place where everyone is equal and everyone has the same chance and we only run 'balanced' encounters to make sure PC level up at the same time and publish structured adventure paths that give a clear indication of progression to everyone and its all in 'balance' [blah-di-blah). Of course some might say that this obsession with 'balance' sucks the soul of out the (A)D&D game as it used to be played.....

Cheers

Damian

So saith Ed. I've never said he was sane, have I?
Gods, all this writing and he's running a constant fantasy version of Coronation Street in his head, too. .
shudder,
love to all,
THO
Candlekeep Forum 7 May 2005
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
36787 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  16:54:48  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by crazedventurers

Oh and to answer Mark's original post it has something to do with 'balance' apparently. So everyone (PC/NPC) is all the same and the world is a 'happy-clappy' place where everyone is equal and everyone has the same chance and we only run 'balanced' encounters to make sure PC level up at the same time and publish structured adventure paths that give a clear indication of progression to everyone and its all in 'balance' [blah-di-blah). Of course some might say that this obsession with 'balance' sucks the soul of out the (A)D&D game as it used to be played.....

Cheers

Damian



I fail to see what's so bad about wanting to make sure PCs and NPCs have the same options... Or how that has anything to do with balancing classes against each other. I think that making sure that PCs and NPCs have the same options is a good thing. I'm entirely against the idea that all PCs have to be able to do the same amount of damage at all levels, but that is not at all related to making sure that PCs can, if they choose to do so and take the proper feats/PrCs/whatever, do the same thing as NPCs. I'd certainly make PCs work very hard for some things, but I wouldn't want to say "oh, no, there's no way you'll ever be able to do that, no matter what you do."

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
15724 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  17:06:51  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Balance is good to have, but it can be over done.

In the Elric novels, he traveled to a world that was ruled by 'the grey lords' - those gods that were neither lawful or chaotic; they were about balance. This world was the dullest (everything was grey) Elric had ever seen. All the life had been sucked right out of it.

Years and Years ago there was a JLA comic featuring a villain named 'The Equalizer', who would make everyone... EQUAL. Everyone would have the same amount of talents, abilities, size, shape, etc, etc. There is a reason this guy was villain, and why the JLA wanted to stop him. The lesson here is that too much balance is a bad thing, and I think (just my opinion) that they may have put too much emphasis on it, both in 3e and in 4e.

At no point in time was Frodo EVER the equal of Sauron, yet he defeated him. How 'epic' would his victory have been if he exactly the same abilities as Sauron? If everyone was superman, would we bother to read about him? Would he be interesting?

"All things being equal" detracts from the accomplishments of the PCs. It goes from fantasy questing 'against all odds' to just doing a job (or worse, just grinding to level-up). Do I want rules? Of course. Do I want them to control every aspect of the game? That seems more like shackles then imagination.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 01 Jan 2013 17:08:04
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BlackAce
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
358 Posts

Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  19:22:31  Show Profile Send BlackAce a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

You know what I think? I think a LOT of those Golarion players are ex-FR players, and a lot miss and want to come home. Its just easier for them to run Pathfinder in Golarion because the rules are designed with that world in mind. If FR began supporting the PF rules, my guess is you'd see a rather large turn-around. Do to them what they did to WotC - its a two-way street. Use their own rules against them.




Not just FR, Paizo cherry picked some of the best elements of FR, Dragonlance and Greyhawk. It picked up a lot of disgruntled players from those settings too and 3rd didn't exactly treat them kindly let alone 4th.

If WotC really want to regain so many of the customers they've lost, just going back to 'the good old days' isn't going to be enough. Next and The Sundering are going to have to be balls out indulgences to win people back.
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Markustay
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Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  20:20:10  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, not a day goes by where I read something in the Golarion material and think, "that sounds just like..."

A lot of 4e stuff as well - I'm not sure who copied who (I'd have to study all the release dates). To tell you the truth, I think that a lot of those ideas pre-dated either... I think that they were part of Ed's 'deeper secrets'. All those Paizo designers were privy to that stuff we never got to see, so it was fairly easy for them to cherry-pick from that secret material without us being any the wiser. Then when WotC releases something similar (I am really thinking about the Aboleths here), we think they copied Golarion, when it was really some buried FR material all along. Just a hunch, is all. Almost everything about Golarion screams 'based in Ed design' to me. Its like they tore some pages out of some secret 'setting bible'.

Last night I was reading about The Whispering Way, and thought, "Damn... if that doesn't sound just like the Eminence of Araunt". Then I thought, Ed had a big hand in designing the Returned Abeir stuff.... hmmmmmmm. I think that was an old setting idea that got dusted off and brought to light. I have to wonder about how many of Ed's ideas never saw the light of day, and have been recently re-purposed.

Anyhow, not knocking Paizo, or WotC - just noting certain trends. I think the reason why so many FR fans (and GH and DL) like Golarion so much is because it does feel like home. This thread is more about "what has gone before, what we liked, what we didn't like, and what we would like down the road". Discussion is good, especially if certain folk are watching.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 01 Jan 2013 20:22:49
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Gary Dallison
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Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  20:24:09  Show Profile Send Gary Dallison a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I dont see what the fuss is all about. I have played in and DM'd every edition of DnD and 3rd ed is my favourite because its various rules mesh together the best which means it is the easiest to modify.

No matter the ruleset used however i always modified the rules to my own personal taste so that the game was best for me.

I am guilty of never saying no to a player, i am of the view that if I can have it then why shouldnt a player. However just because i didnt say no, doesnt mean the yes didnt come with significant and difficult requirements.

I love the fact that 3rd edition can be made to balance almost perfectly, it means not only can i use anything as a prop or a tool in my storytelling (something that i need since my skills in that department are somewhat lacking), but also it means the players can become whatever they envisage (given time, effort and considerable amounts of luck), and after all isnt that what playing an rpg is all about.

I personally try and make everything as realistic as possible (so no candles in a vacuum unless a spell allows it), having rules behind your events help make things seem realistic as they provide justification for its existence and behaviour and if someone can believe in the world i have created then i consider it a job well done.

Thankfully with 3rd edition came epic magic, and if its mixed a bit with the idea of 4th edition rituals i came up with a way to make everyone able to do anything, so for instance i dont need a high level npc to cast a spell to summon a devil, instead i can use anyone with a bit of magical knowledge and enough sacrifices or moronic followers willing to give their lives to summon it.

I think my point is that you should make your rules whatever you want, dont be afraid of having a rule for everything, add rules as you go along, and discard them when they get in the way, but its always better to have rules that work and ignore them when needed than not have a rule in the first place.

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Dark Wizard
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Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  21:34:33  Show Profile Send Dark Wizard a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I feel this was one of the things that drives certain segments of the gaming population nuts, especially when it comes to a multi-edition spanning setting like FR. In my opinion, Ed seems to belong more to the older design philosophy where there are as many individual touches, unique twists, and often times weird exceptions to the rules as there are rules themselves. For example, he speaks of this in his interview with the Gentleman Gamer. Magic is mysterious and not easily codified in rules. Once you do codify it, the mystery fades. It's a fine line between designing rules and mechanics for the game that are fair and useable but also fun, mysterious, wondrous. He also noted that sometimes forcing rules translations between editions sometimes takes out the balancing penalties or costs of the original design (ie Spellfire and Wild Magic). A lot of the troubles with 3E's presentation of the Realms lies in poor translation of old edition versions of NPCs and magic. There were other missteps of course, but these were blatant and easily avoidable or corrected if given the proper attention when they first emerged.

As for Pathfinder Forgotten Realms, if FR were coupled with that rules set and the production values and support that Paizo lavishes on Golarion, I think a lot of people, old and new, would flock to the setting. Those colorful, shiny books are great advertising.
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Shemmy
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Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  23:04:44  Show Profile  Visit Shemmy's Homepage Send Shemmy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

Like in 3e/v3.5, monsters follow the same rule/progression as characters and thus, are limited to the same stipulations and restricions or else any meager balance contained is lost.



Why though do you feel limited to adhere strictly to that rule? Clearly you didn't feel constrained to color outside the lines in 2e it would appear, or 4e by your own admission.

I didn't feel limited in that same way then, nor now in the weird admixture of 3e/3.5/PF in my own games. If I want something to have a unique power or ability, it does. No muss no fuss. If it's an important NPC, they'll probably have a reason for coloring outside the lines, but it's not a huge deal for me.

Is it a desire to adhere to "balance"? If so, why did we ever decide to let some arbitrary notion of balance dictate what we could or could not do? I'd happily let the whole cult of balance thing die in a fire if I could, and let world design run unhindered from that lead ball and chain.

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Shemmy
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Posted - 01 Jan 2013 :  23:15:54  Show Profile  Visit Shemmy's Homepage Send Shemmy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Markustay

Yeah, not a day goes by where I read something in the Golarion material and think, "that sounds just like..."

A lot of 4e stuff as well - I'm not sure who copied who (I'd have to study all the release dates). To tell you the truth, I think that a lot of those ideas pre-dated either... I think that they were part of Ed's 'deeper secrets'. All those Paizo designers were privy to that stuff we never got to see, so it was fairly easy for them to cherry-pick from that secret material without us being any the wiser. Then when WotC releases something similar (I am really thinking about the Aboleths here), we think they copied Golarion, when it was really some buried FR material all along. Just a hunch, is all. Almost everything about Golarion screams 'based in Ed design' to me. Its like they tore some pages out of some secret 'setting bible'.



Well, a lot of different people worked on the original campaign setting book. Each of us had various assignments for sections of the book, different nations, etc. Exactly how much detail there was already from the gazetteer, early AP entries and modules, and unreleased notes from Eric or James varied wildly. In some cases I had a decent amount of material and additional notes to build upon, and in other cases a half page of notes and the creative freedom to go wild with a particular section, just going by a few guidelines.

As such, I think it really combines the old-school Greyhawk background that the Paizo guys came from, plus then the particular backgrounds of every other author in the campaign setting. Thus it wouldn't be surprising to see some classic FR sensibilities enter in. While a lot of my stuff was Planescape inspired, the more down to earth sections had inspiration from my own background in a decent amount of FR and much lesser so some Earthdawn experience as a player and DM over the years.

At least that was my experience, so it applies for maybe possibly 5% of the stuff by page count?

What stuff in particular did you find thematic parallels between PF/4e/FR stuff?

Shemeska the Marauder, King of the Crosstrade; voted #1 best Arcanaloth in Sigil two hundred years running by the people who know what's best for them; chant broker; prospective Sigil council member next election; and official travel agent for Chamada Holiday specials LLC.

Edited by - Shemmy on 01 Jan 2013 23:18:18
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Markustay
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Posted - 02 Jan 2013 :  01:14:17  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It was more along the lines off lots of little stuff - an 'overall feel', if you will. On just about every page I was reminded of similar things elsewhere.

When I think about FR compared to Greyhawk, I think FR is GH 'all grown up'. Then when I think about Golarion compared to FR, I think of Golarion as 'FR done right' (not that Ed didn't do it right - I'm talking about un-making all the mistakes that have been made since it became a published setting). FR is no less mature then Golarion (although some of the material is VERY mature compared to FR) as a setting, but it doesn't have all that weirdness that creeped in over the years (mostly through some bad 2e adventures, and the few 1e adventures that were shoe-horned in retroactively). I guess the best way to put it is that they have much better editing - they filter out all the crap (no lichlings, zoot-suit wearing beholders, 'islands of the crazies' {Whamites), or Khans running amok in the Vilhon Reach, for example). A lot of the old-school 'Greyhawk feel' (silliness) kept spilling over early on, and we don't see any of that in Golarion.

On the other hand, I think Golarion may have gone overboard as well, with its 'one size fits all' setting. Tech in a setting is a big turn-off for me, and takes me back to the early (bad) days of GH gaming. Theres also a few other flavors in there that seem just thrown in to appeal to the lowest common denominator (Cthulhuesque, Gothic horror, and yes, even some World of Darkness and Earthdawn). One of the biggest complaints about FR (and also, strangely, one of its strongest assets) was the inability for anyone to pin down its 'flavor'. I guess 'all flavors at once' is the Realms flavor, and Golarion took that to an extreme.

The one major plus Gol has over FR in the flavor dept is a theme - the recent fall of Aroden. Most settings do have a major event "about a century ago" - thats part of the RPG genre. The Realms never had that - it just sort of started out right in the middle of nothing. In a way that set it apart, because it didn't try to be a setting about something (I think I just made out that FR is the RPG equivalent of Seinfeld). Now we do have 'bad stuff' happening "about a century ago", so FR just became one in a pack of many. In fact, we have a whole bunch of crap happening 100 years past because of the never-ending RSEs of 3e. Now its going to move forward again, and the Sundering is going to our 'big event' that the setting is still recovering from.

I'm not saying any of that is good or bad - I accept it as part of D&D. I'm just saying the more things change, the more they seem the same. I don't need an RPG setting to tell me stories, I need an empty stage (with maybe some props a few fake buildings). I'll tell the stories, and my PCs are the actors. Thats what The Realms was in the beginning - a theater you could run wild in. When the setting starts telling ME what to do, then its not an RPG setting anymore.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 02 Jan 2013 01:16:48
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Diffan
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Posted - 02 Jan 2013 :  05:22:46  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Shemmy

quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

Like in 3e/v3.5, monsters follow the same rule/progression as characters and thus, are limited to the same stipulations and restricions or else any meager balance contained is lost.



Why though do you feel limited to adhere strictly to that rule? Clearly you didn't feel constrained to color outside the lines in 2e it would appear, or 4e by your own admission.


To quote what I already said:
quote:
Further, when DMs start going outside the scope of monster design (adding spells, extra feats, more skill ranks) it instantly changes this character's challenge rating and thus, could become far stronger (or weaker) than the DM had originally intended. A few feat combos and 1 spell might sound really awesome but, in practice, might lead to an unintentional TPK or an easy encounter for PCs when it should've been threatening. Couple this with an already wishy-washy system of CR and, IMO, leads to situations that neither sides of the screen want to be in. I had a 5th level "battle" sorcerer NPC fight some PCs. I have him a 2-handed weapon, the spell Wraithstrike and the Power Attack + Cleave feats. Yea, he was NOT a CR 5 encounter, by any stretch of the means.


So by not going by the book, it instantly changes the strength of the monster/NPC to unpredictable levels when used against a group. It requires on-the-spot adjudication in these instances and, while it's not impossible to do this, it's something that I don't particuarly enjoy doing to "fix" something. While in 4E, adding a specific ability or power or such-and-such doesn't have as strong an impact on the challenge of such a creature, espically when I can easily "click and drop" powers directly from other monsters and the math fixes it to the current power-level of the monster.

So, for example, I want a 2nd level evil NPC to have a demonic power, I could type in Demons and get a "Soul Sucking" ability from a 14th level demon. I drag the Soul Sucking power onto my NPC and instead of the power dealing 3d6 + 12 necrotic damage and dazes the target (save ends) and drains the target 1 healing surge, it might only deal 1d8 + 3 necrotic damage dazes the target (save ends) and drains the target 1 healing surge. I might still consider this a bit to powerful for such a low level so I give it a high-recharge value (say, have to roll a 6 on a 1d6 to regain it's use). So in this instance, the strength of such a power is in the numbers and possibly the use of it. Said demon might be able to recharge this on a roll of 4, 5, or 6 every turn while our 2nd level NPC can only do it on a roll of 6.

quote:
Originally posted by Shemmy


I didn't feel limited in that same way then, nor now in the weird admixture of 3e/3.5/PF in my own games. If I want something to have a unique power or ability, it does. No muss no fuss. If it's an important NPC, they'll probably have a reason for coloring outside the lines, but it's not a huge deal for me.


That's cool, your players expect difference in what your monsters/NPCs can do that's outside the realm of the rules (giving a Barbarian an ability to say, shadow jaunt 15 ft. away with no magic words or spells for example). Some of my players and ones I've played along side with would probably question the reasons behind this (was it a magic item, a trait possessed by a template or kit, or did he have levels in sorcerer/Wizard?) because they know the rules too and some of them aren't cool about breaking them or, as you say, coloring outside the lines. To me, when the rules are super transparent it sorta forces the DM to justify the reasons why Monsters and NPCs have the abilities they do, espically when those abilities are far outside the capabilities of such players. This, I will admit, is a problem I had exclusively with v3.5 and Pathfinder and not one in 4E.

quote:
Originally posted by Shemmy

Is it a desire to adhere to "balance"? If so, why did we ever decide to let some arbitrary notion of balance dictate what we could or could not do? I'd happily let the whole cult of balance thing die in a fire if I could, and let world design run unhindered from that lead ball and chain.



Because balance is important in game design, or at least I strongly think so. But balance doesn't have to be what it is in v3.5, where to have it both Monsters/NPCs and Players all play by the same building blocks. 4E is far more balanced than v3.5 in terms of "breaking" the game or coming up with instant-win buttons spellcasters can just do because....magic.

As for Balance in general, lets get one thing understood:

Balance =/= Equal. It never has and those who enjoy balance do not want equality. I don't want same damage expressions from each class. I don't want the same AC, defenses, HP for all classes across the board. That's not what Balance means. What balance does mean is that each party member can contribute equally, in their own fashion, to overcoming obstacles. This also means that the "spotlight" of any given battle isn't Shared individually, but that it's shone on everyone at once. The rogue is doing the most damage, the Fighter is keeping the biggest and most dangerous monster busy, the cleric is casting spells that make the Fighter stronger or removing an adverse effect by another monster, and the Wizard is keeping other monsters busy with a zone effect, a summoned monster, or putting them to sleep or confusing them and slowing them down from rushing into battle.

Here, each one has a specific role and they excell in that role. Each one helps another overcome the encounter. The Cleric isn't fighting as good OR better than the fighter, the wizard isn't casting one spell and ending the threat before anyone can enter the battle. The Rogue isn't hiding in the shadow, waiting for the battle to be over because they're not that good (generally speaking) in combat. And the Fighter isn't cursing because his feats just aren't being useful and he's being overshadowed by the might of the cleric.

For a non-combative example, lets take a Locked Door inside the dungeon. A Wizard is useful because he might have Knock as a ritual. It can be cast from a distance and it's mostly silent BUT it requires time (10 Min) and resources (GP or materials). The Rogue could pick the lock. It's quick, often silent, and it's possible to be done over and over but it might trigger a trap. A Fighter is useful because he can just kick the thing down. It's fast and usually adequate with a few attempts. But it's loud and can trigger traps. SO each one of these character can contribute equally but they all have downsides. Also, it means that one class isn't specifically required to be in the group and thus, shoring up more options for players instead of "ah man, I HATE playing the cleric. Someone else be one this time" type of stuff.
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WalkerNinja
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Posted - 02 Jan 2013 :  05:29:59  Show Profile Send WalkerNinja a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I hated that 3E turned me and my players into mechanics instead of story-tellers and players.

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Diffan
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Posted - 02 Jan 2013 :  05:46:57  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WalkerNinja

I hated that 3E turned me and my players into mechanics instead of story-tellers and players.



That's a bit of a non sequitur. Mechanics of a game-system has really no bearing on telling a story or being a player. What it does is give a framework to that story so it doesn't degrade into

"I shot you first!"
"Nuh-uh, I blocked it with my spell shield"
"You didn't say you had a spell shield"
"You didn't bother to ask"

If people want to tell stories, then It's better to just write a novel or play a freeform game where the is no mechanics. But that's not really D&D, which has alwasy been a class-based, mechanics-driven Role-Playing Game. Such games need rules. If those rules aren't balanced or fail to provide a meaningful way to contribute or interact with the game or if people just outright ignore them then it has the possibility to alienate players and drive people away from playing it again.

It's the main reason I left AD&D for two years and had, at that time, just sworn off RPGs due to the disparity of the system and the players along with a bad rapport with the DM. But then I got into 3E (at the time) and actually learned the rules and became somewhat knowledgable when the DM would go off-the-rails and screw the players every once in a while. It wouldn't deter the DM even when I pointed it out but at least the players at the table KNEW he was breaking the rules that we, as the players, were following pretty strongly.

When the DM breaks rules that go against players, it gives players less incentive to adhere to them on a consistant basis. People start rolling and "fudging" the numbers or adding a few points to their Attack or Damage or saying that have such-and-such ability. Why? Because if the DM isn't playing fair there's little reason for a player to do so blindly.
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Jeremy Grenemyer
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Posted - 02 Jan 2013 :  08:13:50  Show Profile Send Jeremy Grenemyer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I get the impression that players (and a few DMs) think, so far as 3E is concerned, that you can only add to or modify a monster based on already existing rules, classes, PrCs and splatbook minutia...that is, it's somehow against the rules to think up a cool new monster or NPCs ability, spell, whatever, decide no adequate (and existing) rule applies, then use the tried and true +2/-2 or some other reasonably balanced approach (maybe a unique extraordinary or spell like ability) to add to the monster what it is you're looking for.

The notion you can't do this...it's not in the rulebooks, so far as I know. Why play the game that way?

Literally, a DM being creative isn't the same thing as "breaking the rules," provided the DM has good intentions and is interested in providing an awesome, fun game.

I can appreciate one DMs experience that some players are well-nigh rules lawyers when it comes to deconstructing creature abilities, but frankly it's not a player's business to constantly be second guessing his or her DM by reverse engineering the math. If a player is that anal about how his/her DM runs a game--especially during a play session--boot the player or let that player be the DM.

It's always been the DMs responsibility in 3E to keep a careful eye over treasure, character abilities, what PrCs are allowed and what aren't, challenge ratings for monsters and otherwise mind the balance of the game. 3E was never a plug-and-play game (which, now that I think about it, is why the Oberoni Fallacy is wrong).

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Edited by - Jeremy Grenemyer on 02 Jan 2013 08:30:24
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