Dragon 393 - Editorial: Achieving Equilibrium

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Dragon 393
Editorial: Achieving Equilibrium

by Steve Winters

Russell Crowe had the right idea in the film "A Beautiful Mind" -- it's about equilibrium.

Talk about this Editorial here.

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That last paragraph threw me for a loop.  My initial reaction was 'I've been scammed! Essentials really is 4.5'.

Then I thought about it, and as long as its only organized play that imposes these restrictions, and I still can mix Essentials and non-Essentials anywhere else, then thats fine with me.
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It's been a bit of a concern to me (not to mention that it only magnifies the current CB issues if D&D Encounters is limited to Essentials material, but you can't create Essentials characters in the CB...) While I can understand wanting to highlight the new product of Essentials, it seems a poor approach to, well, basically drive away a lot of existing players from D&D Encounters, or tell them they just can't play.

In the long run, I'm fine with it as long as other programs exist that allow players to keep using existing content without having to buy the newest stuff. And from what was said before, they do plan on such programs existing. For now, I'm willing to wait and see.
This piece was all over the place and why is the title "Achieving Equilibrium" when the article is all about how bad equilibrium is for this game and why it should be avoided?

Anyway... @AsmodeusLore - Yeah, I see what you mean. Although I am firmly in the camp that is calling this D&D 4.25 or D&D 4E Revised, which ever you prefer. Despite frustrations with DDi I still love the game although I haven't been to a single organized play event since the changes started.
There's a few elements missing from the Game Theory perspective which could lead to a more interesting discussion.

D&D's design philosophy (more explictly now in 3 and 4 e than in 1 in 2) is that the game is co-operative (meaning that the players can communicate with one another and the focus is on the game at large) with imperfect information (most players know the moves of the other players, excepting the DM, whose moves are necessarily unknown to the other players).

A few things that make D&D interesting in Game Theory is that the player's are assuming roles of character's and, depending on the group and play style, there is an information gap between what the player knows or presumes and what his or her character is permitted to know or persume (permission being determined by the DM or the other players).

Also, since it is a roleplaying game and not sticrtly a strategy game, the player's may (and in my experience oftend do) have their character's make sub-optimal decisions in strict terms of goal fulfillment. Sub-optimal decisions in the game can assist in creating a sense of drama and tension that may not exist if all players made optimal decisions at every opprotunity to make a decision. A sense of drama is a reward for the player, not the character, so in order to achieve that reward the player may make moves that are sub-optimal inasmuch as acheiving the rewards of the game system are concerned.

I do think it was neat for the author to touch on this subject though.
Starting with last month's compilation, you'll notice little icons in some articles indicating one or more D&D rulebooks. These indicate what D&D product an article is more closely related to. If an Organized Play event is limited to, say, Essentials-only characters, then Dragon magazine content which comes with an Essentials icon (for now, those are Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms) can also be used at that event.



I just don't understand this. Why emphasize that content is limited? Why limit organized play? Beyond the current season of D&D Encounters, there should be no limits on the content. If Essentials and pre-Essentials are fully compatible, as we have been told time and time again, then there is no need or use for symbols telling us for what... version?... an article was written. Of all people, the Editor should have that as a goal. Steve should be the guy telling everyone "hey, this needs to be fully compatible".

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...Huh a soft admission of an edition change(okay maybe half edition). Cool?

I zoned out about three paragraphs in. Most boring editorial, ever.
Starting with last month's compilation, you'll notice little icons in some articles indicating one or more D&D rulebooks. These indicate what D&D product an article is more closely related to. If an Organized Play event is limited to, say, Essentials-only characters, then Dragon magazine content which comes with an Essentials icon (for now, those are Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms) can also be used at that event.



I just don't understand this. Why emphasize that content is limited? Why limit organized play? Beyond the current season of D&D Encounters, there should be no limits on the content. If Essentials and pre-Essentials are fully compatible, as we have been told time and time again, then there is no need or use for symbols telling us for what... version?... an article was written. Of all people, the Editor should have that as a goal. Steve should be the guy telling everyone "hey, this needs to be fully compatible".



Well, I'm not a fan of the limited D&D Encounters approach, but I don't know if compatible content listings are inherently a bad thing. I saw some confusion when the Pyromancer article went up about how to use it with someone's PHB wizard. Note that this isn't limited to Essentials - a PHB Ranger might come across the recent Beastmaster article, and not know how to use it without Martial Power.

Of course, we also have plenty of class articles that support builds and options from multiple books, so I don't know how easy that will be to represent. But I think it can be useful to have some guidance in the article itself on what content it pertains to and what other products might be needed to fully utilize it.
I just don't understand this. Why emphasize that content is limited? Why limit organized play? Beyond the current season of D&D Encounters, there should be no limits on the content. If Essentials and pre-Essentials are fully compatible, as we have been told time and time again, then there is no need or use for symbols telling us for what... version?... an article was written. Of all people, the Editor should have that as a goal. Steve should be the guy telling everyone "hey, this needs to be fully compatible".

Everything is compatible. The point of the icons is to extend usefulness, not limit it. If an Encounters season indicates that it's Essentials-only characters, people might think they can only use material from the two "Heroes of" books but not the earth domain or pyromancy articles from Dragon. The icons indicate that you can use that online material as an extension of the "Heroes of" books. Likewise, they make it clear that the Masters of the Wild article is not strictly Essentials because it's all about beastmasters, which are a Martial Power option.

If you're not playing in Encounters or other OP events, then the default condition is that the doors are wide open and you can ignore the icons. If you are playing in organized events, you should find the icons useful.

Steve

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

I just don't understand this. Why emphasize that content is limited? Why limit organized play? Beyond the current season of D&D Encounters, there should be no limits on the content. If Essentials and pre-Essentials are fully compatible, as we have been told time and time again, then there is no need or use for symbols telling us for what... version?... an article was written. Of all people, the Editor should have that as a goal. Steve should be the guy telling everyone "hey, this needs to be fully compatible".

Everything is compatible. The point of the icons is to extend usefulness, not limit it. If an Encounters season indicates that it's Essentials-only characters, people might think they can only use material from the two "Heroes of" books but not the earth domain or pyromancy articles from Dragon. The icons indicate that you can use that online material as an extension of the "Heroes of" books. Likewise, they make it clear that the Masters of the Wild article is not strictly Essentials because it's all about beastmasters, which are a Martial Power option.

If you're not playing in Encounters or other OP events, then the default condition is that the doors are wide open and you can ignore the icons. If you are playing in organized events, you should find the icons useful.

Steve


Thanks, Steve. So is this just for Organized Play?

I will reiterate that I think future Encounter seasons should really be allowing all content.

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So is this just for Organized Play?

That's correct. They asked for it, to clarify things for their organizers and players.

Steve
 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

Cool. Please don't forget Living Forgotten Realms as part of OP!

Or, you know, any upcoming campaigns... like Ashes of Athas...

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

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