Weak Rules and Troublesome Players

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I recall two tables where, out of nowhere, a DM tells me the two rods (Corruption and Reaving) do not interact as written at the time, despite CS responses assuring they did. My already weak warlock became ridiculously weaker. The whole table was disappointed. The judge just imposed their will because of their perception - to the detriment of the table.



That may have been your impression, but as a player at one of those tables(and did not really speak up about it), that is the ruling I would have made and the ruling that at least one of the other players would have made.

The issue seemed more along the lines that you couldn't roll well at all that day.

A few of us had a late-night conversation with Mike Mearls about the issue of using more than one of item x in a day/encounter/whathaveyou. He saw the issue, but it is clearly supported by the rules. From what he said, I suspect they are unsure what to do. In some cases it is cool, especially if everyone is reasonable. In some cases it is horrid, especially if people are unreasonable. The dice are horrid just as a single set, let alone as two or more.

 

Why exactly did he say it was clearly supported by the rules? 

 

He just simply believed it to work that way.




Reminds me of half the CustServ conversations on CharOps...

Not saying Mearls doesn't know what he's talking about here, but if you're trying to get useful RAW answers out of a CS person/designer, you need to structure the question in such a way that he understands what the possibilities are and he needs to be ready to look at the rules in depth. Anything else is just asking for misunderstandings to pop up. And late-night discussions are not exactly where you'd want the designer doing such things in any case - much more productive to talk about your experiences and where things worked really well and where things worked badly. I've been at a low paragon tier table where a cleric healed 51+surge as an example. Or Avengers only seem to work well when going outside their class. Etc...

He might think that the rules are clear when he wrote them, but doesn't realize that the editor changed them for all kinds of reasons. In a very pointed example, he wrote a very long post about how he runs stealth, and R&D had completely changed the rules a month prior. 

* I know many people quote Magic, but that is comparing apples and oranges. There are already more options in D&D then there are in magic (somewhere somebody did a simple count), not to mention that D&D is a cooperative game and not a competitive one. The DM is not just a judge and arbitrator, he is also a storyteller.



Yes, but the important thing for Magic is, for every rules question, there is one right answer.  And D&D rules could be written in the same manner.  But they aren't.

In a home game of Magic, there's nothing stopping you from saying, "At my table, you can only repeat a cycle eight times, even if it's infinite.  Oh, and Savannah Lions have savannahwalk."  At an official Magic tournament, you have to abide by the rules.

If D&D rules were written with constant terminology and a FAQ to clear up possibly confusing situations, it would make the process of "official" D&D, organized play, a lot simpler.  Home DMs, of course, could make any changes they want.
I was there for the discussion about magic item powers and their use via multiple copies of the items, we actually had a long discussion about it and how we'd suggest limiting it based on the power mattering and not which copy of the item you used it from, with daily being once per day period unless another power etc changed that and encounter being once per encounter, regardless of number of copies of said item.  The understanding we all had was that by raw currently you could use 5 salves of power in one day, and that originally RAI allowed it as well, but that as items get more powerful (and yes PHB items were deliberately not very powerful) the rules don't work as well and need re-examining.

That was my take on that portion of the discussion. 
Blah blah blah
We are running way off topic again, but the things discussed are useful IMO so I am going with the flow

Interpretation and logic tricks to get where you want to be with the D&D rules are a staple on both sides of the table. The multiple item uses debate makes for a good example. I would consider the interpretation needed to ban that second salve of power a bit of DM cheese. I might still use it though, but not easily. 

As a DM i have never felt I needed to use the roundabout reasoning to disallow a second salve of power, but I have at times reminded people that I could. I have not yet ever limited a PC in their use of free actions, but have indicated that I could.
Do i do this to show my players that I am the big bad wolf? No, I can honestly say I do not (I did soul search on that one) and I also assure them it should never come up. It just makes for a good lead in to try and get as many possible rules issues out of the way before we start the adventure. It usually works out as a quick conversation with maybe a little debate about everyones take on the rules and then we find the middle ground, usually slanted somewhat towards the players as I am not there to hose or annoy people. I will make the call if needed, just rarely need to.

As Alphastream indicated, it sucks for players to get their toys taken away, especially mid game. I find it helps to try and get this stuff out at the start, so I specifically ask about possible rules issues we might run in to and give some examples of how I view some of the more famous ongoing debates. 
I would have told Alphastream I did not feel his rod combo worked like that. Then tried to create space for debate where I get my view out, but also his and the other players's.  I am fairly confident we would have found a way to handle it that did not make him feel like his warlock just had the wind knocked out from a sucker punch. 
I don't go into these little pre-adventure rules debates expecting my views to come out on top every time (and they don't). I do however come out with a better idea of what matters to the players and they get some idea of what matters to me. I could be deluding myself but I like to think it helps.

Now if I get a table that does not run to the wire I will have to try and get them to evaluate things with me
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
A build may be a complete monster on paper but, If it hinges on gray areas, "cheesey" combos and frequent rules debates to be effective, overly effective or interesting for you to play, is it really that good of a build?

I am fine with people playing what they want but, not when it means they are signing up the rest of the table for a tense, emotionally charged and unfun play experience.
I've found that 'unfun' experiences stemming from other players is usually due less to their character build than their attitude.

I've seen disruptive players with and without uber builds.

I've also seen great cooperative players with and without the uber builds.

Whether deliberate or a product of simply not realizing what they are doing, some folks tend to 'run over' other players or otherwise don't exhibit much in the way of team play skills.

That's not something that can be covered by rules, unfortunately. If the player won't tone it down on their own, it's the responsibility of the DM to try and rein the player in.




-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

He might think that the rules are clear when he wrote them, but doesn't realize that the editor changed them for all kinds of reasons. In a very pointed example, he wrote a very long post about how he runs stealth, and R&D had completely changed the rules a month prior. 



The rules are clear to everyone I know (except you).  You can use the daily item powers of 2 "copies" of the same item.

Again, you might not want to or think it is cheesy and/or exploitive.  But clearly the rules permit it.

Daren

He might think that the rules are clear when he wrote them, but doesn't realize that the editor changed them for all kinds of reasons. In a very pointed example, he wrote a very long post about how he runs stealth, and R&D had completely changed the rules a month prior. 



You can use the daily item powers of 2 "copies" of the same item.



See, an example of a clear statement that would allow the use of multiple magic items of the same kind. Note the use of the word same used in a context that makes it obvious.

If only there was a rule stated in the same way...

Again, you might not want to or think it is cheesy and/or exploitive.  But clearly the rules permit it.

Daren




Again, quote a rule. You keep saying it is clearly permitted. You've yet to quote a rule that says such. If it is, quote a rule that says you can do that. Even if I granted you your definition of different, that's not clear usage of English and that is the only thing that suggests that you can use multiple copies of the same magic item daily powers.

The general rule of 4e is that if the rules don't tell you that you can do something, you can't. 

To be really blunt - until I looked closely at the rules, I had your point of view. I was contemplating something that exploited the use of multiple copies of the same magic item and I wanted to make sure it was legal before I did it. I looked at the rules, noted that the only thing that allowed me to do that would be an unclear use of the word different and that there was no other support for it. So all you're really saying is that you don't know a lot of people who'd use more than one copy of the same magic item, because otherwise, there's not really a lot of reason to look it up closely. Remember, the only magic item that you are contemplating using multiple copies of is one which abides by my reading of the rules and you're one of the players most willing to cheese out a character that I know.

That makes for a very small population of players who might look closely at this rule.
The rules are clear to everyone I know (except you).  You can use the daily item powers of 2 "copies" of the same item.



The things you learn without looking for them.....

1) Drezden doesn't know me. Since I do not want to drink the "it is crystal clear to all" cool aid I guess I will live.

2) While not even Mike Mearls claims the rules are clear (sofar I have just heard he claims to think it works that way)  they must be, because well, there is no way someone would present their interpretation as gospel without it being unadulterated truth, right? Al us silly people debating something that was already decided by the ultimate arbitrator of truth. If only I had known. 

3) Sarcasm is dangerously seductive and I need help.

note: I am not for a moment claiming the interpretation is not reasonable, as I think it is. And also a wrecking ball in some combinations. But clear?  Like thick sticky mud.
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;

 In the end, my mind-flayer monk did, in fact, do some eyebrow-raising damage, but they had no trouble with the adventure. And we all had a great time.



Keep up the good work boys! We miss the days of touch AC. Cry


Ah, the key was the custom item that made his damage radiant, thus ignoring armor in all ways, even when he was doing flurry of blows with his fists for damage. That the tentacles could (according to this adventure, which was way cooler than the official ruling) flurry for the grapple to suck out a PC's mind was all the more awesome.

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Yes, but the important thing for Magic is, for every rules question, there is one right answer.  And D&D rules could be written in the same manner.  But they aren't.



No, actually, they can't. The two games are completely different. Magic is a competative card game where all interactions are limited to being between the cards and the players. D&D is an RPG where the rules don't just interact with the players and other rules, but with the simulated reality of the campaign.

In magic, the cards only have to make sense within the context of the game. In D&D, they must also make sense within the context of the simulated reality. That means at least certain aspects of the rules must be vague because the simulated reality has too many possible variables to even come close to considering. There are reasons why D&D needs a DM and Magic doesn't.

Mind you, I do think that some of the rules could be a little tighter, but to say they can be as tight as Magic is to misunderstand the nature of D&D.
Writing Director - Returned Abeir
It's also noteworthy that Magic produces 1/10th of the card interactions with... let's call it 10* times the resources for working on those interactions.

So D&D has 1/100th the attention that Magic does, comparatively, per rules item. We're lucky it's not a lot worse.

Doesn't mean they couldn't leverage an awful lot more eyes on the game, but ah well.

* This statistic made up, but probably good enough for our purposes.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Yes, but the important thing for Magic is, for every rules question, there is one right answer.  And D&D rules could be written in the same manner.  But they aren't.

Because you couldn't do it without neutering the game.

The reason Magic's rules can be completely defined is because Magic does not attempt to simulate reality at any significant level. It strips reality down to the absolute baseboards and if anyone asks why there's a massive stone wall carrying five swords, wearing armor, and firing a longbow at its enemies flying through the air to assault an enemy position...the game shrugs and says "It's Maaaagic!" in a mysterious voice while wiggling its fingers.

The entire point of D&D, on the other hand, is an attempt to create a story, a believable simulation of reality. (Or pseudo-reality, anyway.) The realism is the entire point, and if you attempt to strip things down enough to make completely defined rules feasible, you end up losing said point in the process.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.



The reason Magic's rules can be completely defined is because Magic does not attempt to simulate reality at any significant level. It strips reality down to the absolute baseboards and if anyone asks why there's a massive stone wall carrying five swords, wearing armor, and firing a longbow at its enemies flying through the air to assault an enemy position...the game shrugs and says "It's Maaaagic!" in a mysterious voice while wiggling its fingers.

The entire point of D&D, on the other hand, is an attempt to create a story, a believable simulation of reality. (Or pseudo-reality, anyway.) The realism is the entire point, and if you attempt to strip things down enough to make completely defined rules feasible, you end up losing said point in the process.



This is perfect, thank you Zammm =)
Blah blah blah
Yes, but the important thing for Magic is, for every rules question, there is one right answer.  And D&D rules could be written in the same manner.  But they aren't.

Because you couldn't do it without neutering the game.

The reason Magic's rules can be completely defined is because Magic does not attempt to simulate reality at any significant level. It strips reality down to the absolute baseboards and if anyone asks why there's a massive stone wall carrying five swords, wearing armor, and firing a longbow at its enemies flying through the air to assault an enemy position...the game shrugs and says "It's Maaaagic!" in a mysterious voice while wiggling its fingers.

The entire point of D&D, on the other hand, is an attempt to create a story, a believable simulation of reality. (Or pseudo-reality, anyway.) The realism is the entire point, and if you attempt to strip things down enough to make completely defined rules feasible, you end up losing said point in the process.



In Magic, a wall can't attack only because the rules say a creature with defender can't attack.  A wall can hold equipment because the rules say any creature can use equipment.  The rules for equipment could say "Equip only to a non-Wall creature."

It does not hurt D&D as a rule system to encourage creating a story if the writers use clear terminology so that there isn't a debate whether a battlefield archer can quarry a number of targets equal to his Wisdom modifier all at once, or only through multiple uses of the hunter's quarry class feature.  In fact, clear rules help the storytelling, because in my opinion, nothing ruins the story more than a rules argument.
The reason Magic's rules can be completely defined is because Magic does not attempt to simulate reality at any significant level. It strips reality down to the absolute baseboards and if anyone asks why there's a massive stone wall carrying five swords, wearing armor, and firing a longbow at its enemies flying through the air to assault an enemy position...the game shrugs and says "It's Maaaagic!" in a mysterious voice while wiggling its fingers.

The entire point of D&D, on the other hand, is an attempt to create a story, a believable simulation of reality. (Or pseudo-reality, anyway.) The realism is the entire point, and if you attempt to strip things down enough to make completely defined rules feasible, you end up losing said point in the process.



4E is far more 'gamist' versus the 'simulationist' of previous D&D editions.

The biggest evidence of this is how PCs work vs how the rest of the world works. Previous editions attempted to model out the game world in the same detail and terms as the PCs were. 4E does away with all that - only the stuff that has a game mechanical effect that might affect PCs is even modeled, the rest becomes fluff. Even the stuff that is modeled is often simplified, differently from PC abilities, and "just works". Which is why you can slap a new skin over existing monsters to make a new monster, like having Human NPCs that somehow gained all the powers of Bugbear Stranglers.

Even PCs have plenty of options, powers, and abilities that make little sense if examined in too much detail. Bards can insult people (and traps!) to death. Retraining means you mysteriously forget how to do old stuff while learning the new stuff. And so on.

And then there's things like blast and burst effects creating square scorch marks.

While D&D has not quite reached the gamist level that Magic has, it's getting there.

There is an advantage to this, though. A more 'unified' gamist approach to rules design means fewer loopholes and the like.

Previous editions suffered from a legacy established in 1st Edition - many unrelated game mechanics being mashed together in one system, with sometimes clumsy linking elements to make them work together. New additions would often feature completely new rules, rather than trying to use previously established rules. This by nature creates tons of loopholes and compatibility issues.



-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

"In fact, clear rules help the storytelling, because in my opinion, nothing ruins the story more than a rules argument."

I am in 100% agreement with that quote.

I've seen a lot of posts saying that writing rules is some sort of "art", and that this "art" necessarily involves interpretation, hence it is unnecessary, futile, and stupid to try to have a definitive set of rules.  Then I see people saying D&D just doesn't have the resources of Magic the Gathering, and so on and so forth.

In short - there's a 100% denial of responsibility and accountability.  I don't know if those posting in support of the idea that "no, there's no problem here" work for Wizards, or are fanboys, or what the deal is.  But frankly, I am a bit offended that those that have the opinion that there is indeed a problem are just being told to "move along".


If I think there's something wrong, I think I have the right to have an opinion, and to speak my mind about it.

Sure, I'm grateful to Wizards for providing a forum for people to discuss matters.  But I think that shoving things under the rug on these forums is a disservice, not only to the players, but to Wizards.

My view on clear and concise rules is that it will help the players, as the players won't be involved in rules arguments.  This in turn will make the game more appealing to a wider base of players, which should increase sales for Wizards.

My opinion on the current state of the rules is - what with all the different people involved in the process, and budgetary concerns &c, there were of course places in which the rules came up short.  I think that's perfectly understandable.

My opinion on where things are going - either Wizards is going to try to shove things under the rug, in which case I for one will lose confidence in the D&D brand.  Or, they will try to do things like - regular rules updates and clarifications (which they are actually doing).  I realize that rules clarifications &c, although free, pose an inconvenience to the players.  But it is, I think, the best Wizards can do.

My opinion on Wizards in general - look, everyone makes mistakes.  Wizards in general, though, has put out a quality product, and has always given me really great customer support for Magic the Gathering and Avalon Hill board games (plus a few other assorted things), and to a decent degree for Dungeons and Dragons.  WotC's online stuff generally comes up a bit short - there have been some situations with MtG Online, especially early on, and I felt D&D Insider came up short (especially autorenewal), but I do think that WotC has addressed these various issues, if not to my perfect satisfaction, at least to what I consider acceptable.  On the whole, I would say that WotC puts out a solid product and backs it up with great service, so I am as a whole pretty happy. 

Hopefully, LFR and D&D will receive (or continue to receive, depending on your view) the sort of support that I've come to expect of WotC. 

In short - there's a 100% denial of responsibility and accountability.  I don't know if those posting in support of the idea that "no, there's no problem here" work for Wizards, or are fanboys, or what the deal is.  But frankly, I am a bit offended that those that have the opinion that there is indeed a problem are just being told to "move along".



... wait, it's insulting to tell you to move along, but it's not insulting to say that anyone who's comfortable with the current state of affairs either works for Wizards or is a fanboy? You don't get it both ways. You don't get to say "I have the right to an opinion," but then get all huffy when another player says "I think you're wrong."

I think this thread has reached equilibrium in any case. Your note about denial of responsibility is right on target; it's just that different people have a different idea of where responsibility lies. I think it lies on the individual DMs; other people think, to varying degrees, that it's WotC's responsibility to provide rules that are so clear that DMs never need to make potentially unpopular decisions.

I don't think anyone expressed not being in favor of clear rules. Where rules are needed they should be as clear as can be. And things can and should obviously improve in that respect.

What was stated repeatedly however is that D&D is not and should not be the kind of game where the rules cover all the bases and all ambiguity is squashed. The role of the DM within D&D is a game feature, not a hindrance. 

A situation where everything has to be resolved within the rules without any DM based interpretation would change D&D and turn it into a version of complicated checkers (or simplified, I am not a checkers expert) . Magic with battlemats, with DM's in the role of scripted dice robot and minis mover. Could be a cool game nonetheless, but D&D it would not be.  

Clear rules, yes please.
Total rules coverage, no thanks.

  
 

To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;

... wait, it's insulting to tell you to move along, but it's not insulting to say that anyone who's comfortable with the current state of affairs either works for Wizards or is a fanboy? You don't get it both ways. You don't get to say "I have the right to an opinion," but then get all huffy when another player says "I think you're wrong."



I think you're far too fixated on "insulting", Thanlis.  Perhaps you felt what I wrote was personally directed at you.  It wasn't.  I'm just saying what I think is out there.  Sometimes it's nicely and eloquently stated, as in zammm's (edit - 2/14 12:33 AM Eastern Time, wups; thx for the correction zamm) post, sometimes less so as in your post, but it's out there.

As far as imaginaryfriend's post - would you be kind enough to give some specific examples of what you think "DM interpretation" should include, and how the current rules should be altered (or correctly interpreted) to allow those examples to be implemented?

For my part - I think DM interpretation *is* important.   People that know me personally know this is one of my favorite examples -

Level 7 solo blue dragon (has darkvision) attacks party in field at night, flying out of range and sight of most of the party, and blasting with its range 20 burst 2 power, so it can fly 21 squares above the party and attack.  TPK against 90% of parties, just given an open field at night.  The 10% exceptions either packed a few grasping javelins, or happened to have a lot of PCs that could reach the dragon.  (Remember, the PCs don't know this is going to happen.  They're on a caravan mission at level 7, and suddenly - SURPRISE!)

As far as "DM interpretation", I think it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY as far as not allowing these sorts of ridiculous encounters to get set up.  But I think that sort of "DM interpretation" is not what imaginaryfriend was talking about - more, I think imaginaryfriend's understanding of "DM interpretation" was, say, when the DM resolves what happens when multiple war rings are equipped (and similar) - am I right?

The multiple war ring thing I would honestly prefer clear rules on. An extra 3d10 or 30 damage..its not such a big deal, plenty of rings that would probably have more benefit over the course of an adventure. Multiple salves of power..now there is a different story

The flying thing, well yes, its up to the DM to make sure that stays entertaining rather than become a senseless boring slaughter and it is actually a good example. We do not need rules spelling out what a DM is to do with encounters like that. 

DM's interpretation as countermeasures versus relentless cheese quickly turns into social warfare, players nor DM's need that. Those situations need clarification. Its better to know for sure if blood pulse does 1d6 + 50 per square of forced movement than having to debate it. I may have my own thoughts on HOW that clarification should turn out, but either way if it is clarified I will deal with how it ends up, thats the game. Until it is clarified, it falls to D&D's catch-all mechanic. The DM. Its not perfect, but its what we have. 

There is a LOT of stuff that can do with better wording or clearing up, I don't deny it and would like to see it happen sooner rather than later. I just simply do not share the belief of some vocal posters, that we need to write rules for every situation. Most stuff gets handled just fine with what we have in the rules + DM combination. Just because some people think that the lack of an explicit NO means rust monsters can be ATM's and that asking if you can damage a PC means you can ignore the answer, does not mean we need rules spelling out what is intended.

Well not to me anyway. To me it just means we need less, willful or not, idiots.

edit; oh one of my favorite examples, free actions. I think the way the rules are, is perfect. The DM decides if and/or how many free actions you get. In some situations, half a dozen free actions may be fine. In other situations it can be ridiculous ( I use the "circling the globe in 6 seconds" example). Leaving that call up to the DM saves us all from having to read a 10 page decision tree on whether a free action would be allowed in situation X. 
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
I don't actually think most folks are asking for rules that cover every damn thing.

Just:

a) Existing rules should say what they mean.

and

b) Problems that pop up should be fixed when it becomes apparant there's a problem.

Every time I've suggested it, though, I get hit with "we can't make rules for every situation".

Never asked for that. Just for the situations that crop up. Which isn't actually all THAT often.



My other contention about when punishments should be applied I'm realizing is really only addressed to a couple of people that seem to be intent on placing blame somewhere.





-np
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
This is probably as good a time as any to mention that there's a thread in the RPGA General forum asking for input on the next version of the CCG. 
Level 7 solo blue dragon (has darkvision) attacks party in field at night, flying out of range and sight of most of the party, and blasting with its range 20 burst 2 power, so it can fly 21 squares above the party and attack.  TPK against 90% of parties, just given an open field at night.  The 10% exceptions either packed a few grasping javelins, or happened to have a lot of PCs that could reach the dragon.  (Remember, the PCs don't know this is going to happen.  They're on a caravan mission at level 7, and suddenly - SURPRISE!)


As far as "DM interpretation", I think it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY as far as not allowing these sorts of ridiculous encounters to get set up.  But I think that sort of "DM interpretation" is not what imaginaryfriend was talking about - more, I think imaginaryfriend's understanding of "DM interpretation" was, say, when the DM resolves what happens when multiple war rings are equipped (and similar) - am I right?



There is a big difference between DMs saying "here's what I will do to monster tactics to make this more fun for the table" and "I'm sorry, at my table, this item/feat/power/etc. works in the following way." The first is absolutely allowed by the rules. There is text to that effect in each adventure. When talking to authors I am often surprised to hear they just assume all DMs will do what is needed to keep things fun (after all, this is clearly stated in the adventure boiler plate). The reality, however, is that this is not what many DMs do. We've had this discussion on these boards before. Some DMs don't believe in scaling down a fight for a table unless the encounter specifically calls for it. It is for that reason that I devote space in encounters I author or playtest to try to speak to those DMs and give them pointers on how to keep things fun.


The later, making rules decisions beyond what is a true gray area in the rules, is not supported by DME. RPGA DMs must use the printed rules / FAQ / errata / CS. Nothing prevents a DM from explaining to a player why they feel something is broken and asking the table if it would be better to apply a houserule, but the table really needs to accept (especially the impacted player). That is just how the RPGA game works. And, really, this method is very good for our game. It allows players to know what to bring to the table. Is it clear in the text or fixed in FAQ/errata/CS? If so, you know it will work at the table, whether it is reasonable or absolutely stinky cheese. You get to play the game the way you want it. At the same time, if what is being brought to the table is not working, then the table can talk about it. Either the table is fine with it (in which case no houserule is needed) or the table is not fine with it (in which case a fix can be applied). Regardless, it sends feedback to the player that this may be too strong a choice.

Additionally, as a DM, I try to keep an eye out for the fake cheese. War Rings are certainly strong, but they aren't that strong. Adding d12 (worst case) per crit or even 24 once? That isn't that insane. Usually, this is just icing on top of a cake worth of damage and crit craziness (such as the stronger offender, Bloodiron). There is no need for a houserule of War Rings at any table, IMHO. You might as well houserule Twin Strike, Daggermaster, all Paladin multi-W powers... and I sure don't recommend doing any of that! You will drive yourself crazy as a DM trying to implement fixes. I recall once an LG judge that had a page of their houserules for players when they came to their table. It was cold water to the face to receive that. I instantly lose confidence in a judge when I come to the table and instead of camaraderie or RP or some other cool emphasis what I get is their rules issues/vendettas.

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The later, making rules decisions beyond what is a true gray area in the rules, is not supported by DME. RPGA DMs must use the printed rules / FAQ / errata / CS. Nothing prevents a DM from explaining to a player why they feel something is broken and asking the table if it would be better to apply a houserule, but the table really needs to accept (especially the impacted player). That is just how the RPGA game works. And, really, this method is very good for our game. It allows players to know what to bring to the table. Is it clear in the text or fixed in FAQ/errata/CS? If so, you know it will work at the table, whether it is reasonable or absolutely stinky cheese. You get to play the game the way you want it. At the same time, if what is being brought to the table is not working, then the table can talk about it. Either the table is fine with it (in which case no houserule is needed) or the table is not fine with it (in which case a fix can be applied). Regardless, it sends feedback to the player that this may be too strong a choice.

Additionally, as a DM, I try to keep an eye out for the fake cheese. War Rings are certainly strong, but they aren't that strong. Adding d12 (worst case) per crit or even 24 once? That isn't that insane. Usually, this is just icing on top of a cake worth of damage and crit craziness (such as the stronger offender, Bloodiron). There is no need for a houserule of War Rings at any table, IMHO. You might as well houserule Twin Strike, Daggermaster, all Paladin multi-W powers... and I sure don't recommend doing any of that! You will drive yourself crazy as a DM trying to implement fixes. I recall once an LG judge that had a page of their houserules for players when they came to their table. It was cold water to the face to receive that. I instantly lose confidence in a judge when I come to the table and instead of camaraderie or RP or some other cool emphasis what I get is their rules issues/vendettas.



I think I agree, but I am not entirely sure.

I have never house ruled anything in LFR (well full disclosure, I have asked people if they were ok with zero-threat skill challenges not counting towards milestones, but also made sure they knew if was fine if they did not see it that way. I am sure I have failed at making it clear once or twice.. to the people effected.. sorry? ). 
If something is clear in the rules then it is played as written, As I said, I may hold my own views on something and would explain why I think something is overpowered, but if there is no interpretation in the rules then it gets run how the rules say without argument

Where we may not agree however is on what is and, more importantly, is not clear. Which is the eternal argument. No need for examples, we have hundreds. As I said, I have never houseruled, but I have interpreted and made the call where needed.

Interpretation is interpretation on either end of the table, what for a player is "optimized" does not suddenly become a "houserule" if the DM applies the same kind of logic to arrive at the opposite conclusion. It just pinpoints a spot where the rules need some bondo.

I will say though that some of the logic used on either side is highly suspect IMO and while I work hard to stay aware of all the interpretation scenario's I have not yet had to use any wonky ones and have a table devolve into RAI vs RAW smackdown.

9 times out of 10 players and me will work it out. The 10th time, if its a player blocking the resolution, well I ask myself if its worth bothering the other 5 people with it, shrug, move on with the table, and steer clear of the person in future. If its me, well I must be having a bad day so I mentally smack myself on the back of the head NCIS style and move on as well


To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
A dragon attacking from the air at night when players are on the ground hmm what's the big deal.

Seems like a good tatic for the dragon. 

The ease that people kill dragons in 4e is a little disturbing and is mostly because the way its written they don't use good tatics.

If each player bought a longbow, one had a sunrod and they all spread out the dragon could only hit 1 person at a time, and if they have even 1 decent long ranged striker That dragon is taking more damage per round than the 1 player the dragons ae is hitting.

Even if the dragon focus fires the same person every time a reasonably balanced party can keep him healed.

Or you can reward creative thinking and let  the wizard stand on the fighter's shoulders and use phantom chasm.

Teamwork in action.








A dragon attacking from the air at night when players are on the ground hmm what's the big deal.

Seems like a good tatic for the dragon. 

The ease that people kill dragons in 4e is a little disturbing and is mostly because the way its written they don't use good tatics.

If each player bought a longbow, one had a sunrod and they all spread out the dragon could only hit 1 person at a time, and if they have even 1 decent long ranged striker That dragon is taking more damage per round than the 1 player the dragons ae is hitting.

Even if the dragon focus fires the same person every time a reasonably balanced party can keep him healed.

Or you can reward creative thinking and let  the wizard stand on the fighter's shoulders and use phantom chasm.

Teamwork in action.



Though true, it is also aggrevating, annoying, and usually boring to the players to spend an encounter using basic attacks.  If the Dragon is the culmination of the module it can be very anti-climatic and if it is not the culmination it doesn't propel the player's emotionally into the culmination.
If each player bought a longbow, one had a sunrod and they all spread out the dragon could only hit 1 person at a time, and if they have even 1 decent long ranged striker That dragon is taking more damage per round than the 1 player the dragons ae is hitting.

Even if the dragon focus fires the same person every time a reasonably balanced party can keep him healed.

Hmm. Interesting hypothetical question that. Let's see - the dragon is always 22+ squares away doing its burst 2. So the sunrod doesn't help, as it only illuminates 20 squares.

The only long ranged striker option is an archer ranger (so, 1 build out of all the class options). A couple other classes can function at that range... like the seeker, prescient bards, crossbow artificers, ranged warlords... pretty scarce pickings, but certainly possible. More likely than happening to have a wizard who has phantom chasm as his prepared daily, I'm guessing, though perhaps not by much.

Many characters don't bother to carry longbows. Wizards, for instance, rarely bother - even though they have no option over 20 squares and often have few options over 10 squares. Ditto warlocks, sorcerers, etc.

But, sure, some will. I see a 6th level blue dragon so I'll compare that to a 5th level party as an average encounter. Let's say it has one archer ranger, two other longbows, and the ability to heal the ranger enough that they dragon needs to burn through 250% of its hp. A 5th ranger should have about 45, so we'll call that 113hp. The ranger's reflex is about 19. Its attack is +12/1d12+3 x2, 1d6 quarry, +2d12 crit. With the -5 for darkness and the dragon's AC 23, the ranger is looking for 16+. For an average of about 8.35 damage per round. The other people with longbow's in the group are doing, say, 1d10+2 damage and need non-critting 20s to hit, for an average of .75 per round added for both of them. Or 9.1 per round against a 296 hp critter, or 32.5 rounds of combat. If nothing goes wrong.

The dragon is dealing very little damage per round itself. 7.5 hit, 10 crit, 3.75 miss, with a 5% crit, 35% miss, 60% normal hit, so about 6.3 damage per round. Or 17.5 rounds to drop the ranger, even with 6 surges worth of healing.

Once the ranger is down, it has about 136 hp left on average - which is more than enough to win against anyone else.

And it never even descends into range that a grasping javeling can bring it down, if they're lucky enough to have one at 5th level.

And yeah, I'm sure it'd be reaaallly interesting to roll out that combat. And you'd probably want to, since a lucky string of crits from the ranger will drive the dragon off.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
I think the short of it is:

Difficulty and challenge is only one part of the equation.

The players need to feel engaged and useful as well.

There really shouldn't situations where the majority of the players feel helpless. "Frustrating" is a description you really don't want to hear about a fight.

It's really not fun to die and not be able to do anything about it.

The opposite is true as well. There have been a few combats that as scripted resulted in fights that were just damn tedious and time consuming. Not challenging, just annoying.

In either case, DMs need to adjust, even if that mean making that dragon do the foolish thing and drop into short range after a couple of rounds. Or maybe NOT having those extra packs of harmless but annoying time-wasting minions show up.



-np
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
Its attack is +9/1d12+3 x2, 1d6 quarry, +2d12 crit. With the -5 for darkness and the dragon's AC 23, the ranger is looking for 19s and 20s. For an average of about 4.5 damage per round (mostly varying between 34 damage hits and 13 damage ones, with an awful lot of misses). The other people with longbow's in the group are doing, say, 1d10+2 damage and need non-critting 20s to hit, for an average of .75 per round added for both of them. Or 5.25 per round against a 296 hp critter, or 56 rounds of combat. If nothing goes wrong.



Those numbers aren't quite accurate:
Merely it being night doesn't make things dark. It makes it low-light, which is likely not a problem for the Ranger. The Ranger also should likely have a +12, not a +9(starting Dex of +4, +2 for bow, +2 for level, +2 for +2 vicious greatbow, +1 for prime shot, +1 for weapon expertise = +12). That turns that 19 into an 11.

High-Str characters have likely invested in a +1 Distance Javelin(360 gp). If the Dragon is in bright light, they no longer need a 20 to hit it, likely more around a 16 or so. And if a Fighter is marking that Dragon, then it has a penalty to hit.

Even though the Dragon is at 22 away, there are multiple ways to get that sunrod up 2 squares so as to illuminate it. Mage Hand, standing on shoulders, having the guys without low-light ready for someone tossing it 3 squares into the air and shooting when the Dragon is illuminated, etc...

If you run the numbers, the Dragon likely dies in that situation before he can really drop that Ranger.
Darn it. Teach me to do math while sick. Hmm. Only off by +3 though (forgot prime shot entirely, as well as one of the +2s), so if the darkness matters then it's still a 16. That still makes the ranger lose, but it's a _lot_ closer.

I'm a bit dubious on the numbers on 5th level characters who have +1 distance javelins, myself. A lot of those guys are saving up for iron armbands or just transfer over a different +1 (lightning, etc) or +2 weapon when they get a +3. I don't think I've seen one yet at that level.

Anyhow, broke out a spreadsheet instead of using my head, and fixed the stats. It's a lot closer now.

And, obviously, if you take the darkness (or, I suppose, cloud cover) variable out of the equation (which I didn't, since it was stipulated by the poster) then it gets a lot easier for the party.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Darn it. Teach me to do math while sick. Hmm. Only off by +3 though (forgot prime shot entirely, as well as one of the +2s), so if the darkness matters then it's still a 16. That still makes the ranger lose, but it's a _lot_ closer.

I'm a bit dubious on the numbers on 5th level characters who have +1 distance javelins, myself. A lot of those guys are saving up for iron armbands. I don't think I've seen one yet at that level.



A distance javelin is 360 gp, returns to your hand, and if you don't buy a regular javelin or longbow at 1st level, it is partially paid for Wink

But the darkness part is what's really key about the scenario. You need the writer saying that the night is moonless, the party can't get a light source into the air two squares up and the DM saying that the Dragon decides to hover at 22 squares away. That's a lot things that need to go together.
Oh, distance javelins are a very very good thing. I've just never seen one by 5th level. I'm sure some people have them. I'm just a little dubious how common they are.

And yeah, the entire thing requires the darkness thing. At least if there's a ranger. Without the ranger they're in worse shape. And no matter what it's pretty boring.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
And yeah, the entire thing requires the darkness thing. At least if there's a ranger. Without the ranger they're in worse shape. And no matter what it's pretty boring.



There should be no real problem getting a light up in the air. At the absolute worst, one character can throw it up and the rest ready to shoot when they see it up there. Any character with a flying familiar has an obvious strategy. If there's any sort of tree around, someone is almost certain to be able to TP or climb it and get the light visible.

Basic attacks will be a grind, yes. But the combat will actual be pretty fast. Roll all attacks simultaneously, subtract damage, repeat. Maybe 30 seconds for a round. Once you get it bloodied, it'll probable work out that this strategy is not working and quit or do something else.

But the bottom line is that this is a boring combat, and so the reason not to include it is not that it's a TPK -- it shouldn't be -- but that it's boring.  
There should be no real problem getting a light up in the air. At the absolute worst, one character can throw it up and the rest ready to shoot when they see it up there. Any character with a flying familiar has an obvious strategy. If there's any sort of tree around, someone is almost certain to be able to TP or climb it and get the light visible.

Well, I think there being darkness at all is a bit of a gimmick. A flying familiar can be very quickly killed. A tree just means the dragon is at least 21 squares away horizontally from the tree as well. The throwing the light up and readying option is more interesting at least
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
There should be no real problem getting a light up in the air. At the absolute worst, one character can throw it up and the rest ready to shoot when they see it up there.  



So you know, I'm now picturing Daen (my warlord, with whom Graham plays often) juggling three lit sunrods, throwing them as high up as he can, so the rest of you can shoot the stupid dragon. Laughing
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
Yeah, I think juggling sunrods is totally the cool answer to that riddle. Still a stupid combat, but definitely the proper response

Aside: young blue dragons are a little silly. Built as an artillery with long range options, but their 'claw/claw/bite' equivalent is still where it's at. At least until high level when they get to stun everyone for half the combat by thunderclapping over and over and over and over.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Answer: Fire arrows with sunrods attached.

What, you don't carry arrows with sunrods already attached?




-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
Answer: Fire arrows with sunrods attached.


"You're aiming the arrow?"
"Yes"
"You're looking down the shaft at the target?"
"Yes"
"You're looking down the shaft that has a sunrod attached?"
"Yes"
"You're looking straight into the bright spot of a sunrod and making sure it's centered on your target?"
"Yes".
"A sunrod..."
"Yes".
(Sound of DM head beating against the table...)

Answer: Fire arrows with sunrods attached.


"You're aiming the arrow?"
"Yes"
"You're looking down the shaft at the target?"
"Yes"
"You're looking down the shaft that has a sunrod attached?"
"Yes"
"You're looking straight into the bright spot of a sunrod and making sure it's centered on your target?"
"Yes".
"A sunrod..."
"Yes".
(Sound of DM head beating against the table...)




Remember to always keep the Rule of Cool in mind.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere