Legends and Lore - Modular Madness

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Legends and Lore
Modular Madness

by Mike Mearls

The idea of an old school rules module paints a pretty good picture of how the module concept could work. I think the concept works best if the rules alterations that significantly affect character abilities come in bundles that point to a thematic style of play.

Talk about this column here.

This is the first article in which Mike sounds in any way practical. More specifically, in past articles of this line, Mike has been giving me the vibe of the misguided idealism that led to the worst excesses of 3E. He doesn't sound like that here.

Not sure how I feel about it.
...whatever
I still don't like his ideas about creating an "old-school" game. Older editions were abandoned for a reason: RPG's evolve!

What's with people and their nostalgia? I just watched the 1992 Dracula last night. It seemed awesome back in the 90's, but now that I watch it again, the special effects and cheesy acting make me cringe.
If we make feats and skills part of the core, we can then create a fairly simple rules module for old school D&D play. These rules not only would remove feats and skills, but they would also explicitly push the game toward DM rulings rather than hard and fast rules. This sort of rules module would use the same DM guidelines for adventure design. The idea would be that player skill—knowing where to look for traps, learning a monster’s weaknesses, making smart strategic decisions—takes the place of the mechanical advantages offered by skills and feats. In some ways, it’s like playing D&D in hard mode.



As long as the "old school" rules are not the basis for the game, there is no problem. Your basic rules need to be an easy to learn, easy to use in widely different situations, medium ground. "Less rules" is better as an option, for those who like to (or simply, can ) play that way, than as the main course of the product.

Also : insisting on guidelines, for the DM on how to modify the difficulty of a task, and how to provide bonuses for "rp" or "player thinking" can have the same results. If the DM is liberal with giving bonuses for good ideas or "out of the box thinking", he can also make rolls harder, encouraging players to "improvise" new ways sa they can gain a much needed "rp" bonus...

In some ways, you can think of this process as akin to character creation for the DM. The DM decides what kind of campaign he wants to run, in terms of tone, world elements and so forth, and then picks out options or rules modules that match that tone. The campaign setting becomes as much of a character in the rules as any NPC, location, or event.



Danger ! D&D is often used as a "changing teams" game. Players go from one table to aother, keeping their character, DM often have players come and go, etc. Not all teams/tables work this way, but it is not a rare thing. Having each DM or campaign work differently reduces the possibility of "cross playing" - each campaigns becomes more "closed", each character more "specialized" for one kind of campaig only.
It can be frustrating for many players/DMs, and lead to big problems of balance, especially for the less experienced players and DMs. And in fact, can be commercially counterproductive.
Take care of not making each campaign/table/whatever so "houseruled" by modules that exchanges between players/Dms/etc become too problematic.

A word of caution about randomness - I don't think random tables should be back in any way, especially if they try to correct power by rarity. It never worked as a way to balance, it just encourages players and DMs to cheat their rolls ( remember Stormbringer random class and races selection ? 1% chance to be an overpowered Melnibonean = 5 Melniboneans at the table. Even if it means rolling 200 characters and chosing the best one. Or, In AD&D : psionics were so rare that too many characters had them. Or let's roll characters untill we have one with good abilities).

Another remark about modularity : the thinner the granularity (the more specialized modules there are) the less customers will be interested in a given module, leading to many products with few sale prospects. It seems to encourage the monthly fee digital approach, rather than the publication of books. It can be a problem with some potential customers.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
I'm not even sure what he means by 'old school rules module.'

To this old-schooler, 'module' means a pre-packaged adventure.  In the past, when L&L referenced 'old school' it's been talking about the era of AD&D.  AD&D was produced in big (for it's time) hard-bound books that weren't exactly united by the tightest themes nor were the rules at all modular. 

I can't recall anything other than adventures bearing the label 'module' back in the day.  Psionics, for instance, came in an 'Apendix' in the PH, and optional rules add-ons/changes were generally called 'variants' and apeared in the pages of The Dragon (or were dreamed up house rules that circulated as best they could through the pre-internet community).  


Now, I have seen games do what he's talking about.  Hero System, for instance, in it's '4e' (in 1989) included a few rules and guidelines that made it possible for the GM to go ahead and adjust the game to fit his vision.   The GM would set Active Point limits, base points and disadvantages, how much certain disad and limitations were worth, what powers were available, and come up with package deals to represent races and even something akin to classes (more like PrCs, really).  It was a cool innovation, at the time, giving the DM a broad toolkit to re-make the game to fit his campaign.  But, it wasn't simple or easy, and it didn't exactly open the floodgates - some GMs went to the the trouble, most went with established defaults, and Hero System remained a niche system isolated by its steep learning curve.

The current push with D&D seems to be to make it simpler and more accessible.  Modular isn't simple, even if you have a simple core to build upon.  Because, deciding not to use a module, advisedly, requires understanding it almost as well as you'd need to /to/ use it. 

Don't get me wrong, I /like/ games like that.  I can handle a lot of complexity.  But, D&D has never been a post-graduate kind of game, it's always enjoyed a broader, entry-level niche with a heaping helping of tradition and nostalgia.  It's the kind of game people start with and come back to, not the kind they try out when they're feeling experimental.




Edit:  Y'know, a context in which all this L&L stuff would make sense has finally occurred to me:  If one were given the task:  "re-design D&D to apeal to the maximum possible range of potential customers, given that there were no other RPGs to compete with it," the result might be something like what is being mulled around in L&L.



 

 

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If we make feats and skills part of the core, we can then create a fairly simple rules module for old school D&D play. These rules not only would remove feats and skills, but they would also explicitly push the game toward DM rulings rather than hard and fast rules. This sort of rules module would use the same DM guidelines for adventure design. The idea would be that player skill—knowing where to look for traps, learning a monster’s weaknesses, making smart strategic decisions—takes the place of the mechanical advantages offered by skills and feats. In some ways, it’s like playing D&D in hard mode.



I love how easily he puts out everything I want to see in a single paragraph. And the taunting... oh, the taunting. Perfect Mr. Mearls. Thank you. You want skills and feats? Pansy. We're playing hard mode. You want to solve the mystery, you figure it out. No namby pampy "skill challenges" here. Step up... if you dare.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

Wow - The awesome player skills of con-man and dms best girl (best at predicting and cajoling and getting special favors from the all powerful dm) ...elevated and enshrined
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

If we make feats and skills part of the core, we can then create a fairly simple rules module for old school D&D play. These rules not only would remove feats and skills, but they would also explicitly push the game toward DM rulings rather than hard and fast rules. This sort of rules module would use the same DM guidelines for adventure design. The idea would be that player skill—knowing where to look for traps, learning a monster’s weaknesses, making smart strategic decisions—takes the place of the mechanical advantages offered by skills and feats. In some ways, it’s like playing D&D in hard mode.



I love how easily he puts out everything I want to see in a single paragraph. And the taunting... oh, the taunting. Perfect Mr. Mearls. Thank you. You want skills and feats? Pansy. We're playing hard mode. You want to solve the mystery, you figure it out. No namby pampy "skill challenges" here. Step up... if you dare.



Player meta-gaming skill is not hard mode. It's player meta-gaming skill.

Hard mode is something like 4th with no expertise or improved defense feats and not whining that combat takes more then 2 rounds... 
I am 100% opposed to leaving fast and hard rules in the hands of the DM. I like the hard and fast rules of 4th edition. I like the fact we can dungeon delve without using a DM. And when using a DM I like having some of the core combat mechanics out of his hands. Mike- DON'T RETURN 2nd EDITION CRAP INTO D&D. Leave it in the past. 2nd edition was the WORSE edition. If you are going to throw 4th under the bus to get back the grognards- at least bring 1st edition elements back- not the sloppy, watered down 2nd edition. I don't know how I feel about Mike calling the shots about 5th edition. So far, these Legend and Lore articles have left me afraid that elements that were removed when 4th was released are going to be brought back just to appease Paizo fans. A miniature-less basic rule system; DM calling the shots instead of concrete rules; hell, you might want vancian casting lists back- after all- they were in the 2nd/1st edition (and 3rd, but the horror of 3.5 nailing down rules on combat with miniatures) you love so much.

All this talk in L&L sidesteps the idea of making a strong core mechanic that is both simple and versatile. 

What disturbs me a bit (besides what I made comment on in the main page) is the idea that for entry level you need a "simple" method of X, and then for added complexity you need X+Y.  That is a fallacy of design.

What the core needs is the capability of supporting X+Y+Z+ greek letters.  The core mechanics need to be able to stand alone in versatility, and what I'm not seeing is how that will benefit in this hypothetical new edition.

Example:  Fighter sub builds.  (this is not a commetn on good or bad or whatever)
The weapon master, brawling fighter, et al revolved around a core fighter mechanic.  Mark Plus class feature.  Had no problems.  But then the slayer comes along.  Not a bad thing, but it goes to show that the idea of a fighter that is not a defender is not supported in the core mechanic.

And imporvement in a new edition would be a fighter, and your 2 basic choices in the core could be "striker" or "defender." And for basic "powers" you could choose between "power strike" and "distracting strike"  Then as complexity increases you can add feats onto this.  more power options etc.

this is a small issue, but one that can greatly simplify design while increasing versatility and I'm not seeing an improvement over what we have yet.

Also, Archetypes/pregens included in the core material.  say 8 Pregenerated characters at level 1, each occupying a page with a decent illustration for them.  This way, for players that want to jump right into action they have a premade character.  The classes can be designed with more choice off the get go w/o sacrificing the jump in and play atmosphere.  Tons and tons of RPG's use this idea and I think for the player that just wants to play it works out just fine.

Maybe I'm alone here but that's where I'm coming from.

My Blog, mostly about D&D.
57304548 wrote:
I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
Actually I much prefer The Losers.
Show
When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want
This has got "trying to please everybody & ending up pleasing no one" written all over it.

Danger ! D&D is often used as a "changing teams" game. Players go from one table to aother, keeping their character, DM often have players come and go, etc. Not all teams/tables work this way, but it is not a rare thing. Having each DM or campaign work differently reduces the possibility of "cross playing" - each campaigns becomes more "closed", each character more "specialized" for one kind of campaig only.
It can be frustrating for many players/DMs, and lead to big problems of balance, especially for the less experienced players and DMs. And in fact, can be commercially counterproductive.
Take care of not making each campaign/table/whatever so "houseruled" by modules that exchanges between players/Dms/etc become too problematic.



This is an important point, what is being discussed are different systems.  Characters won't be able to jump from campaign to campaign, and you can't create a character until you know what the GM is doing with the campaign.  As 4e stands, you can more or less create a character for any campaign with only knowing the level, I like the stance of "everything is core," because it removes the plethora of houserules that have plagues every other edition.  Rule 0 will always exist of course, but 4e has a very unified feeling to it.  Essentials play fine with the old stuff in a balance sense.  But saying you can't play that character because he's built using XYZ rules, and we're using rules 123, and they are incompatible is a bad route to take.

Always a GM, never a player (not really but sometimes feels like it).

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You all sound terrified at the concept of a DM actually having to make a ruling / make something up?

When did D&D become a game with a set of immutable rules?

Or more specifically, please tell me WHY having a D&D game with a set of hard-and-fast rules that even the DM must abide by...makes for a better game?

As for me, my comment to this L&L is

"yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes" and not just for the "old-school rules module" I also do like rules systems and sub-systems, his paragraph on realm management also excites me.

I also fully and whole-heartedly agree that feats should be SPECIAL and AWESOME. (you should also get less of them). No one should NEED Weapon Focus, but if you do choose to spend one of your precious feats on it, then you will have defined yourself as being an elite master with that weapon (or group of weapons)...making you clearly (if not overwhelming) superior in combat to anyone who does not have that same feat.

This sounds like a feat-tax? But it shouldn't be if your game is one in which combat/exploration/challenges are all given equal weight.
I'm not even sure what he means by 'old school rules module.'



Think of the modules like the things that they used in 'The Matrix'.

In other words, you start with your base set of core rules that are common to all of the possibole variants. Then, depending on what you want to play, you add on varying modules/expansions/splatbooks/whatever they call them.

For example - You could have an "abstract" version where distances are expressed in melee/close/medium/far; spells and abilities are very vague and *require* player/DM fluff added to it. (Eg - burst level 1; line level 1; ray level 1; cone level 1).

You could have another version that closely resembles 4E, another for 3.X, etc...

Add in things for high fantasy, dark and gritty, low magic, modern, etc...

Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Wow - The awesome player skills of con-man and dms best girl (best at predicting and cajoling and getting special favors from the all powerful dm) ...elevated and enshrined



Agreed. Blech. 

I'm primarily a DM, and I cant stand the "Guess what I'm thinking" game. Its all well and good to have things like "Mentioning the guard's gambling debts grants a +4 to any intimidate rolls" but the whole players having to look for traps thing sucks rocks. I dont show up to a game to describe how I poke each dungeon tile with an 11 foot pole (to avoid those traps centered 10 feet from the pressure plate, natch). Leave that boring crap to the perception check. Since, you know, I'm not actually a thief in a magical world.
You all sound terrified at the concept of a DM actually having to make a ruling / make something up?

When did D&D become a game with a set of immutable rules?

Or more specifically, please tell me WHY having a D&D game with a set of hard-and-fast rules that even the DM must abide by...makes for a better game?



Because I dont end up second guessing myself trying to figure out if I'm giving my wife's character preferential treatment over someone else's? Because I can easily look something up if I need a quick answer? Because a rule book consisting of "Eh, just wing it" is worth about 2 cents?

I am 100% opposed to leaving fast and hard rules in the hands of the DM. I like the hard and fast rules of 4th edition. I like the fact we can dungeon delve without using a DM. And when using a DM I like having some of the core combat mechanics out of his hands. Mike- DON'T RETURN 2nd EDITION CRAP INTO D&D. Leave it in the past. 2nd edition was the WORSE edition. If you are going to throw 4th under the bus to get back the grognards- at least bring 1st edition elements back- not the sloppy, watered down 2nd edition. I don't know how I feel about Mike calling the shots about 5th edition. So far, these Legend and Lore articles have left me afraid that elements that were removed when 4th was released are going to be brought back just to appease Paizo fans. A miniature-less basic rule system; DM calling the shots instead of concrete rules; hell, you might want vancian casting lists back- after all- they were in the 2nd/1st edition (and 3rd, but the horror of 3.5 nailing down rules on combat with miniatures) you love so much.





+1

I have no idea why Mearls is trying to bring back the grognards by resurrecting outdated concepts and design.
Some thoughts, most of which have been said before:

1. Trying to please everybody usually ends up pleasing nobody.
2. New players need clear more than they need simple.
3. Different tables using different rules and playing different D&D is bad
4. History has taught us that DMs in general shouldn't be trusted with absolute power.
5. Grognards aren't the most reasonable people in the world. They are, by definition, angry after all. They may not back even if you craft a game from them, simply because they're mad because of what happened in the past.
...whatever
You all sound terrified at the concept of a DM actually having to make a ruling / make something up?

When did D&D become a game with a set of immutable rules?

Or more specifically, please tell me WHY having a D&D game with a set of hard-and-fast rules that even the DM must abide by...makes for a better game?




Well that all goes into what better means, eh?  Broad definition makes for a useless discussion.

Why it bothers me, why clear rules for a DM means a better game IMO?

Example is monster challenge from 3e to 4e.  in 3e monster creation had a formula.  not a good one.  after 6 articles on monster creation the general concensus was that no monster had a single CL.  because a golem rends mages and jelly cubes destroy martial characters nothing could be given a solid general CL.  this meant DM had to adjudicate value.  and while most DM's did so reasonably well most of the time, all it took was one mistake for TPK.  Further, a jack 4ss of a DM (and again, many more than we'd like to admit think that they do deserve special treatment for their position) could use a monster level=party level monster knowing that it was unbeatable, or didn't play fair, or could frankly just change it with no shift in value.  Adn that DM was in the right.

4e made it so that most monsters are killable by most any class within a reasonable threshold.  Not only did this help to reign in jack 4ssery, but it REALLY reduced the need for DM adjudication.  While it's still possible to make a monter party by accident that results in TPK your odds of doing it in 4e drop DRAMATICALLY.  it makes life EASIER for the DM, MORE CONSISTENT for the player, which increases the overall fun of the experience.

Now 4e doesn't necisarily do this flawlessly, or even 70% reliably, but it's way better than any previous edition of D&D (I will admit Pathfinder fixed many aweful issues, but they still require more adjudication than 4e).  Better than Any palladium game I've tried.  Exalted was median on the scale (their hazards, creatures, etc. had a scale of 1-5 and then crazy) but failed to make it relatable to your PC's due to wildly divergent PC strength.  WoD is wide open and must be examined by every Storyteller in detail to guage it's challange.

IMO a better game is one that produces reliably similar results of play regardless of what group you play with.  That means that if I'm playing in a group and I go across the country to play with another group, I can expect that batles will have a kind of logical structure to them, that is interesting and well thought out. Individual group dynamics and skill will always seperate the wheat from the chaff, but you can shore up the weak end and positively skew the data so that the experience has a more predictable result.  This means that the game experience is more likely to be good to new players, and will keep them around.

Nothing hurts an RPG's rep like some jack 4ss on a power trip making people feel bad for playing the game.  Trust me, I've been there.

My Blog, mostly about D&D.
57304548 wrote:
I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
Actually I much prefer The Losers.
Show
When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want
Some thoughts, most of which have been said before:

1. Trying to please everybody usually ends up pleasing nobody.
2. New players need clear more than they need simple.
3. Different tables using different rules and playing different D&D is bad
4. History has taught us that DMs in general shouldn't be trusted with absolute power.
5. Grognards aren't the most reasonable people in the world. They are, by definition, angry after all. They may not back even if you craft a game from them, simply because they're mad because of what happened in the past.



1. GURPS has a lot of fans. So some gamers like modularity.
2. Clarity and simplicity are not mutually exclusive.
3. That's no different than it is right now. Different tables use different bits and emphasize different bits. House rules and all that.
4. I think you've skipped the most important premise in your argument. As in: "People cannot be trusted with absolute power. DMs are people. Therefore, DMs cannot be trusted with absolute power."
5. Grognards simply prefer an older edition of the game. No reason to assume anger unless you're trying to prove a point. I can't help but note some of the anger you've expressed in various L&L threads about possible changes. By your definition that makes you a grognard.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

2) But they're also not as highly correlated as some people would like to think.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
2) But they're also not as highly correlated as some people would like to think.



Correct. Simple rules can be just as badly explained as complex rules. But the more complex a system, the more likely it is to break down. It's true in the real world and game design.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

1. GURPS may have fans, but nothing like the fanbase of D&D. Particularly in 2011.
2. But clarity is more important than simplicity, clarity need not be simple, and simple does not automatically mean clear.
3. 4E is more consistent across different tables than almost any other RPG, and particularly any edition of D&D.
4. DMs can be jerks, moving on...
5. I've been pretty consistent in speaking against the L&L articles moving D&D towards GURPS and speaking against D&D backsliding into 3E-land. Don't see the grognard in any of that. As for anger, do you think the Dragonsfoot or Pathfinder crowds would ever give WotC a fair chance at this point?
...whatever
As for anger, do you think the Dragonsfoot or Pathfinder crowds would ever give WotC a fair chance at this point?



I would. I come back here quite often to see what is up with D&D. I freely admit I'll never buy Essentials. I'm mystified by polls on rpg.net that show most people don't use the PHB. But I'm curious as to what is coming next.

D&D has become this interesting and different from all other RPGs with entrenched 4E fans who see me (a guy who'll play both 4E and PF) as the enemy, backwards, and likely stupid for playing "old, out-dated games". Even the old days split between D&D players and White Wolf players didn't get like this.

If D&D is really going to go all digital all the time (with some boardgames and cards thrown in) then no I won't be back. It would be the only rpg in the entire world going in that direction and I'm not interested. If D&D was going to keep the books and have the digital as an option? I might look at it again at some point.

I will agree with the hard-core 4Eers that Mr. Mearls articles don't seem to have focus. So I'm not sure what direction D&D is going in. I know that something like six boardgames are coming out for it this year alone and that seems odd. But I'm willing to at least listen to what will happen in the future.

I think Mr. Mearls has an interesting dilemma in that a vocal part of his current fan base doesn't want me at the table with them but he does want me back with D&D again. I don't know how he'll solve that problem or if that problem is solely limited to internet message board discussions and really doesn't exist at the majority of tables.
I have no problem with you at my table. I have a large problem with 3.5e at my table.
...whatever

D&D has become this interesting and different from all other RPGs with entrenched 4E fans who see me (a guy who'll play both 4E and PF) as the enemy, backwards, and likely stupid for playing "old, out-dated games". Even the old days split between D&D players and White Wolf players didn't get like this.


If it makes you feel any better I play encounters every week, am going to run lair assault at my local con, and still really want to get my gnome oracle up to 5th level so I can add on some levels of gun slinger.

So I don't think you're the enemy, but then again I think I may be pretty backward.
My Blog, mostly about D&D.
57304548 wrote:
I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
Actually I much prefer The Losers.
Show
When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want

I think Mr. Mearls has an interesting dilemma in that a vocal part of his current fan base doesn't want me at the table with them but he does want me back with D&D again. I don't know how he'll solve that problem or if that problem is solely limited to internet message board discussions and really doesn't exist at the majority of tables.


I have no problem with people who play 3.5 or PF at my table, as long as they aren't complaining about 4e during the game and/or being disruptive.  Sadly, a lot of the PF players around these parts haven't gotten down the "don't be disruptive" part when it comes to being around 4e players.  I sincerely hope it's a regional thing (after all, no offense to my fellow Oklahomans, but a lot of them are idiots.   )
Yes, the latest book/release that you don't like is a blatant attempt by Wizards of the Coast to make money off the fanbase. They all are. That's kinda the point of the Free Enterprise system, companies are in it to make money...
Show
69889855 wrote:
You can't! I tried... and the next night masked men came into my house and beat me until I burned up my ranger character sheet and rolled a scout. They told me... if I ever thought of making a non-essential character that they would kill mitsy..... OH GOD THEY ARE COMING BACK AND ARE FORCING ME TO BUY HEROES OF SHADOWS! SOMEONE STOP THEM PLEASE!
58321818 wrote:
Your DM is your friend. He's not trying to screw with you, or dick you around. Play your character how your character would act. Accept that your character won't always be able to do what he's best at, but also know that as a goddamn HERO, he's gonna try to do his best at what he can do. Roleplay your goddamn character, make the decisions he would make, and roll appropriately. Everything will be fine.
57025236 wrote:
But filling a post with vitriol, hate-filled comments, like "these people should be fired", swearing at us or other ambiguous members of the company - there really is no reason for that. Please share your feedback respectfully, and consider how you would share your ideas if this were a face to face conversation between real people, not faceless names on a screen.
If you see me posting in a thread about editions or Essentials (that isn't simply a rules thread or similar) remind me that I'm trying to stay away from them. (My blood pressure will thank us both.)
People playing 3E/PF aren't the enemy. People campaigning for the end of 4E and a 5E more like 3E/PF are the enemy.
...whatever
People playing 3E/PF aren't the enemy. People campaigning for the end of 4E and a 5E more like 3E/PF are the enemy.



Here would be a point I might disagree with (depends on what changes are being recommended). D&D players who like pre-4E are just as riled at the changes made in 4E as you might be if 5E went back to previous versions of D&D. I find your stance ironic as you're championing what you like but anyone who wants something different is the enemy. I just don't see the issue so black and white. A middle ground should be possible in my opinion. And even if no middle ground exists, why do 4E players and other D&D players have to be enemies just because both sides want their D&D to match their playstyle? I just don't understand that idea.

I'd say that if I felt someone was my enemy because of a different preferred style of rules that I was going overboard. We aren't at war here, we should be able to discuss things as mutual fans of roleplaying games even if our preferred styles differ.

I've played D&D for over twenty-five years. Until three years ago, a fly spell was 3rd level and wizards were most likely to cast them. Now, with one edition change, those long standing norms are gone. A lot of history and proven playstyle was tossed for 4E. I think looking back at what worked and what didn't work is a good idea. Some things may have been changed in haste or without proper understanding of the ripple effect it would cause.
Liking something different doesn't make people enemies. Calling for the destruction of 4E so somebody can get their way does.

Nothing about my opinion involves the destruction of 3E as it currently exists. If that's what you want, go ahead and play it. It already exists, and you don't need to destroy 4E to have it. The disgruntled 3E crowd as a whole over the past few years has proven itself incapable of leaving 4e fans in peace.
...whatever
Liking something different doesn't make people enemies. Calling for the destruction of 4E so somebody can get their way does.

Nothing about my opinion involves the destruction of 3E as it currently exists. If that's what you want, go ahead and play it. It already exists, and you don't need to destroy 4E to have it. The disgruntled 3E crowd as a whole over the past few years has proven itself incapable of leaving 4e fans in peace.





To get the 4e you love the 3e they loved had to end. No one's sending in the ninjas to take their books, just like how when 4e ends no one will send in the ninjas to take your books. I'm not calling for the end of 4e, there's a lot of good framework there. I'm calling for the expansion of 4e to be more inclusive of ideas like those Mearls is talking about. I think it's possible to pull off, if not, then 4e should end. Not to please my preferences but because it's run it's course. Expand or die, that is the way of things.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

There were so many comments that need and deserve responding to, my quote list would have been a mile long. So I decided to just post my opinons here about what Mr. Mearls is doing and my opinions on some of the responses his discussion is generating.

First of all D&D didn't "evolve" it changed. Using a term like evolve is a bit misleading. But whatever you choose to call it it changed into something that no longer satisfies a large portion of the fantasy gaming community. To me it seems that the desire to keep 4e as it is now is born of a blindness to the real situation in the gaming community. Mr. Mearls is talking about revising the game to appeal to a broader gaming base. Not just a select few who hold the same creative agenda. And in my opinion he's doing so in a novel manner.

Second the logic of a system that goes back to the basics or foundations of the game as the core system makes infinite sense. That was the purpose, as I see it, for him reviewing D&D's history and considering what constitutes the base or core of the game. It is true that D&D has changed and added on greater layers of complexity over time. Those are add-ons to the game, not the core or heart of the game. Mr. Mearls is not going 3e on us either. He is talking about making the game expandable. 3e changed the basis of the game. Skills and feats and detailed combat were a part of that edition's core, not optionals. Skills, Feats, Powers and tactical mini-based combat are part of the the core of 4e. They are not optional. What Mr. Mearls seems to be talking about doing is getting back to distinguishing the core from the expansions.

Third, the term old school is a loaded one. What we are really talking about is rules light roleplaying. Where rulings take precedence over rules, player skill takes precedence over character abilties and powers, and a game can be set at a much lower power level from the start. This was very similar to older games like 0e and B/X play. AD&D began the long road away from those concepts, but was still very much rules lite compared to say 3e.

Fourth, just because you like a game doesn't mean that it applies to everyone. D&D has become very confined and narrowed from what it used to be. If you're familiar with game design theory, take a look at Ron Edwards' "The Big Model" and see how the game fits. It has a very narrow creative agenda. In fact it doesn't allow for other creative agendas very easily at all. This requires a differing social contract between players. In fact, not to get too detailed, it changes almost every level of the game. Mr. Mearls is talking about making D&D more inclusive, more expansive and filled with more possibilities than it now is. It's not just _your_ game it belongs to lots of people who like to play in lots of different ways.

To wax slightly figurative, simply crying foul or shouting "Don't change my game!" does no one any good at all; and will cause this next change to devolve into yet another edition war. If people can truly understand the depth of what Mr. Mearls is trying to do then they can perhaps make more intelligent and helpful comments to the discussion.
"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own." --Gary Gygax


Second the logic of a system that goes back to the basics or foundations of the game as the core system makes infinite sense.



There would be a lot of things to discuss here... Mainly the fact that the "foundations" of the game may not be what is apparent, but more underlying concepts, ideals, or "feelings".
Look at some of the discussions in the last L&L threads, or this one : for some, the "foundation" of D&D is "players use their own skills and intelligence to discover how to outsmart the obstacles the DM puts in their way".
And concerning foundation seen as "mechanics" - it may be better to change the mechanics for something similar, but informed by years of testing, than trying to perpetuate faulty systems. 4E did it, partially, by changing the way some mechanics were used, or by introducing new ones - it is one of the reason some players left, and some others, like me, were at least interested in playing. The "foundation that was" may not be a better move than "a new foundation".
For instance, the way Mr Mearls considers "classes" in its articles, seem a very bad idea to me... "Classes" are always archetypes, limiting the diversity of possible characters, for the advantage of fully fleshed out game abilities. Games using the concept of "classes" (except in MMORPGs) have changed through time by allowing more and more diversity "inside" a class, and more "cross-classing". 4E was a big progress by "re thinking" the concept of class as wider, more diverse, less restrictive concept.
I don't think that "going back to the foundation" of classes by defining few, extremely pre-designed classes, like in AD&D, is apropriate for today's audience, and its desires. It certainly would be simpler, but at the cost of the possibility for the players, and DMs, to have a wide range of possible characters - limiting the interest of paying the game on the long run.

What are "foundations", and how important they are, are open to discussion.
Or, to use myself as an example : I couldn't care less if D&D stopped using d20, hit points, and armor class for something else, what I care for is a generic, solid and flexible heroic fantasy RPG I can use for whatever world, story or concept I want. Triple emphasis on "heroic" and "fantasy".

Of course, if this (the "what I want part") is not the goal of D&D at this time, then don't try to please me


To wax slightly figurative, simply crying foul or shouting "Don't change my game!" does no one any good at all; and will cause this next change to devolve into yet another edition war. If people can truly understand the depth of what Mr. Mearls is trying to do then they can perhaps make more intelligent and helpful comments to the discussion.



It is not "Don't change my game". It is "in what direction should the game change". HOW is the important question.

For me, because I am not sure - at all - that what fascinated players with D&D in past years would have the same succes with the present and future players. And yes, it means that years of experience with the game can be an obstacle. "Role playing" as changed - I have lots of 20 years old players, and I am just learning what they what, and how they role play, and to adapt my ways for their pleasure. "Young" players don't have the same tastes and distates for rules than in "my times". The character "archetypes" are not the same, either.
The world is changing, the audience is changing - looking at the past may be useful, but certainly is not the best way to make things work now.

But then, again - for me D&D should be a wide and flexible rule system with an easy learning curve, braod enough to allow a DM/players team to play in whatever universe thay can imagine without having to "break" the rules too much. So the above paragraph, and the majority of my posts, probably only have meaning in this perspective.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Interesting. As always those articles are good food for thought, I need to ponder on that for a bit.

But when I'm done, this thread shall become GLORIOUS!!

Edit: And because as always JonQuixote speaks the truth but had the silly idea to post it in the comment section of the article where it might get buried over thousand of "Nice article", I shall quote his comment.

@Originally said by JonQuixote (but supported by ME)
html_removed Well, jeez, I don't want skills or feats in the core game.  Mike, you're killing me here!  It sounded before like you were talking about a reasonably simple RPG, something like basic D&D, something that kids and newbies could just pick up and play.  THAT makes sense.

Think about it: why were 1e and Classic so popular in the 80s?  That's the bottled lightning that you have to recapture, mate.  And my contention is this: Classic D&D (and let's be honest here: most people who played AD&D 1e ignored most of the rules, so it really turned out in gameplay to be Classic D&D with more races and classes) are *really easy to pick up and play.*  They're really easy to learn, and really easy to DM.  And it's all because there aren't a pile of rules to get in the way of the players' imaginations and the DM's rulings.

That's the essence of D&D, right there.  That's what makes D&D (and RPGs) fun: the lack of hard and fast rules.  When you give it hard and fast rules, it loses something vital and, well, it frankly just starts to suck potatoes.

So, Mr. Mearls, if you want to hook the newbies and get them playing D&D again, you have to make something that looks like Basic D&D.  Sure, streamline things; unify everything under the d20 mechanic if you must; get fighters and casters balanced however you can; but keep it simple and keep it light on rules.  Leave room for the imagination, and leave room for the DM to do his/her job.

Remember: it's easier for the experienced to add complexity than it would be for the inexperienced to strip it out.  The CORE game needs to be as dirt-simple and option-free as possible.  Then, so that the 3e and 4e fans don't feel like they're getting "thrown under a bus," put all the crunchy char-op rules and minis-based combat systems in their own shiny core rulebooks.  You could have a game with three books: "basic rules," "tactical combat," and "skills & powers."  It would work.  If it were designed to fit together from day one, it would be AWESOME.

==========================================================================================

I have to admit the very first thing I thought when reading of the "core" becoming a module was that Mike Mearls dropped the balls out of fear of the 4th future Grognards. It make no sense to have the "core" becoming a module Mike.

Seriously Mr. Mearls, if you are reading this, take note => Go search for the posts JonQuixote has made through your different L&L, not playing the fanboi but among us he is the one who has been able several times to pinpoint the  issues that your hypothetic system is trying to resolve!!
Hey thanks for the considered replay Kaliban. I'm not exactly sure where you stand on the changes Mr. Mearls is proposing as your post seems to defend both sides to a point. Perhaps the point is not to take sides--I can appreciate that. Let me try and give some feedback on some of your comments.


There would be a lot of things to discuss here... Mainly the fact that the "foundations" of the game may not be what is apparent, but more underlying concepts, ideals, or "feelings".



Long ago Gary Gygax (whatever you may think of him) made what I consider a very salient point. That if you change some of the rules of the game to much you will lose or at the least change the spirit of a game.


Look at some of the discussions in the last L&L threads, or this one : for some, the "foundation" of D&D is "players use their own skills and intelligence to discover how to outsmart the obstacles the DM puts in their way".



Which I find interesting since the focus is not on player skill but on tactically using lists of skills/powers/feats and abilities to solve problems. Tactical decisions such as this are based in mechanics, rules, and metgame decisionmaking--not player skill at roleplaying.


And concerning foundation seen as "mechanics" - it may be better to change the mechanics for something similar, but informed by years of testing, than trying to perpetuate faulty systems. 4E did it, partially, by changing the way some mechanics were used, or by introducing new ones - it is one of the reason some players left, and some others, like me, were at least interested in playing. The "foundation that was" may not be a better move than "a new foundation".



We are not talking about a new foundation we are talking about a return to the game's foundations. Years of testing seems to me to refer to the 25 years of the original game not the 7 years of 3e or 4 years of 4e. I also assume that by "faulty systems" you mean older systems. I'm not sure how Mr. Mearls changes are perpetuating faulty systems. He's taking what worked from the past. Core classes, Races, streamlined d20combat are not faulty systems. What 4e did was narrow the game not create a wide felxible system as you desire.


For instance, the way Mr Mearls considers "classes" in its articles, seem a very bad idea to me... "Classes" are always archetypes, limiting the diversity of possible characters, for the advantage of fully fleshed out game abilities. Games using the concept of "classes" (except in MMORPGs) have changed through time by allowing more and more diversity "inside" a class, and more "cross-classing". 4E was a big progress by "re thinking" the concept of class as wider, more diverse, less restrictive concept.



How did 4e accomplish this? I don't see it. This would be more true of 3.5 than 4e.
 

I don't think that "going back to the foundation" of classes by defining few, extremely pre-designed classes, like in AD&D, is apropriate for today's audience, and its desires. It certainly would be simpler, but at the cost of the possibility for the players, and DMs, to have a wide range of possible characters - limiting the interest of paying the game on the long run.



Actually it's more like 0e and B/X D&D. And as for it not being appropriate to today's audience. Well the numbers don't agree. Fewer and fewer peoplea re turning to WoTCand 4e to get their gaming. The most dynamic and productive market for gaming right now is fan-based "old school" clones and variants. These, by and large, are exactly what Mr. Mearls is talking about for a base/core game. It's fine to like a game. It's another thing altogether to claim it is meeting the desires of "today's crowd." And again, Mr. Mearls is not talking about taking these things away. He's talking about establishing a base and building on it from there. You can still have your options and add ons and new classes and developmental paths in the more advanced rules. This does not limit the interest of gamers. About half the gamers prefer not to expand the game by adding onto the classes with more classes. Rather most choose to expand the game with new stories and adventures.


What are "foundations", and how important they are, are open to discussion.
Or, to use myself as an example : I couldn't care less if D&D stopped using d20, hit points, and armor class for something else, what I care for is a generic, solid and flexible heroic fantasy RPG I can use for whatever world, story or concept I want. Triple emphasis on "heroic" and "fantasy".

Of course, if this (the "what I want part") is not the goal of D&D at this time, then don't try to please me



I think this is exactly what Mr. Mearls wants. He wants us both to play the games we want with the same system. I do _not_ like a triple emphasis on heroic, which would be something like ultr-superheroic. I prefer my PCs to start just barely above normal and earn the right to be called heroes by fighting through a gritty low magic fantasy world. Mr. Mearls is talking about a game that can cater to both of us. Is that a bad thing?


It is not "Don't change my game". It is "in what direction should the game change". HOW is the important question.

For me, because I am not sure - at all - that what fascinated players with D&D in past years would have the same succes with the present and future players. And yes, it means that years of experience with the game can be an obstacle.



Well, just look to the OSR to see that you might have to reconsider. Lots of players old and young are flocking to an older style of play.


"Role playing" as changed - I have lots of 20 years old players, and I am just learning what they what, and how they role play, and to adapt my ways for their pleasure. "Young" players don't have the same tastes and distates for rules than in "my times". The character "archetypes" are not the same, either.
The world is changing, the audience is changing - looking at the past may be useful, but certainly is not the best way to make things work now.



Hey that's cool your playing with young players! Me too. I run the RPG club at the school where  teach. Each year we have about 20 active gamers gaming. With 10 new gamers added about every year. Approximately 80% have never gamed before. What I have learned is that preference varies from person to person. We have played 4e, Pathfinder, 3.5, OSRIC, C&C and Hackmaster Basic. Preference has waxed and waned. Some have loved 4e, some have wanted to play only OSRIC, others preferred C&C. Right now there is a split of about 50/50 between OSRIC and Pathfinder. My students are between the ages of 13 and 18. I think we do a disservice to automatically assume that new kids like new games. It is a gross oversimplification that most adults wouldn't put up with.


But then, again - for me D&D should be a wide and flexible rule system with an easy learning curve, braod enough to allow a DM/players team to play in whatever universe thay can imagine without having to "break" the rules too much. So the above paragraph, and the majority of my posts, probably only have meaning in this perspective.



Yeah that's kind of where I got confused. It seemed that you spent alot of time explaining why a change to a rules lite core would be bad and then seemed to say that it would be best to have a system that catered to all styles. So I'm still not quite sure where you stand. But I can certainly agree with everything you said in that last quote.  I think you make good points above, I just think that some people underestimate the the old school movement and the power of a small simple system to do incredible things for many many people. It's not for everybody however, and that's why there should be lots of add on options for those who like to take the game in that direction.


"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own." --Gary Gygax
Edit: And because as always JonQuixote speaks the truth but had the silly idea to post it in the comment section of the article where it might get buried over thousand of "Nice article", I shall quote his comment.

I have to admit the very first thing I thought when reading of the "core" becoming a module was that Mike Mearls dropped the balls out of fear of the 4th future Grognards. It make no sense to have the "core" becoming a module Mike.

Seriously Mr. Mearls, if you are reading this, take note => Go search for the posts JonQuixote has made through your different L&L, not playing the fanboi but among us he is the one who has been able several times to pinpoint the  issues that your hypothetic system is trying to resolve!!



Absolutely BSE. I just wanted to add a +1 to Jon Quixote's statements as well. I too did so after the article and not on hereyet . But the elegance Jon proposes of a base book, a tactical combat book and a skills, feats and powers book is beautiful.

Thanks for pointing that out here.
"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own." --Gary Gygax
He sorta described the 4e Dark Sun release here. "It uses the core rules, plus has other little rules like non-metal weapons." The only thing really different here is that psionics would be released as part of the setting, not in a generic player book. Nothing worth furious keyboard mashing on my end, here.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
you know i cant decide which is worse, announcing these pieces of crap at gencon or asking us to let them destroy dungeon magazine


dark days
I think if they really are interested in understanding what people think of D&D, and where they would like to see it taken, it would serve the development team better to send out questionnaires and/or run polls on specific features, or at least something that will catch a more diverse range of opinions. I'd also like to see more direct questions posed, as it all seems a bit too vague for any feedback to really be of any use.

I'm not sure how useful the comments sections and forum discussions really are for gathering comprehensive feedback, and I certainly wouldn't want to trawl through all the back and forth. I expect they have their uses, but I wouldn't rely on them entirely.

Yeah that's kind of where I got confused. It seemed that you spent alot of time explaining why a change to a rules lite core would be bad and then seemed to say that it would be best to have a system that catered to all styles. So I'm still not quite sure where you stand. But I can certainly agree with everything you said in that last quote.  I think you make good points above, I just think that some people underestimate the the old school movement and the power of a small simple system to do incredible things for many many people. It's not for everybody however, and that's why there should be lots of add on options for those who like to take the game in that direction.



Simplicity is not panacea. Neither is complexity. When you design a game, you have goals. Some are commercial goals. Some are goals about how you can give to your audience the tools and guideline they need to experience easily the kind of feeling, or genre, or universe you want to convey. Sometimes the goal is to seduce specific kind of players, ar give a specific kind of players something that can interest him, wether he is an Actor, a Power player, etc.

I am not trying to defend 4E : I liked this incarnation of D&D (in fact the only one I liked), but the debate is about the future, not an edition that is no more the center of the attention. For me 4E is "dead" : I am still playing it, but expect nothing new for it.

When I read Mr Mearls, I see an orientation of the game in the direction of some kind of players. Understand me : I am not saying that these targeted audiences are bad players, or anything negative. I am just saying that I doubt they represent the majority of potential players of D&D.
Of course these players are very happy with Mr Mearls propositions. I don't know if it is a good thing, or not - I just want to voice my own concerns, as another kind of players, knowing other kinds of players. I know it's "anecdotical", but among all the players I know, only two in twenty ever played any incarnation of D&D before I "forced" them to play 4E, but played other games (CoC being the most known, followed by Vampire). Half of them didn't even know the name. Of course I may be in an exceptional situation - but I think it is worth asking why these players didn't know the game, or if they knew it, never considered to play it. (By the way, none of them knows Pathfinder, and the only one who tested it wasn't interested enough to continue playing.)

Should "changes" in D&D be only the concern of those who already play D&D (all editions and copycat included) ?
Those who play have already been seduced - so, is their opinion on what is good or isn't a reflection of what can seduce other people, or just the reflection of what seduced them, and maybe is not seducing for others ?
These are my questions, the reasons I post, trying to remind D&D players that, maybe, the game, and its current or future design, is too much closed for the kind of wide reaching game D&D "should" be.

Chances are I won't play D&D's future incarnations - I was quite happy with 4E, even if it is not a perfect game, far from it, nor a game very compatible with my own style of play. What I read of the "future" doesn't excite me at all - it seems more and more that the potential "follow-up", be it another edition or another "trend" for 4E, will take the game even farther from my playing style and what I expect from games. It is not a big loss for D&D players - and losing D&D is not a big loss for me either.
But maybe, just maybe, the fact that "it won't be a grat loss" is the problem D&D is facing right now, as a brand, or a product.

There are far more players out there than many think... And players who couldn't care less about "old school" or the integrity of D&D, or searching for traps with a ten foot pole. Or about spending their game killing monsters to earn magic items. Does the game want these players to adapt to it ? Or is it ready to adapt itself to them ? and how ? Or maybe it doesn't care at all, and just wants to keep the players he already has ?

Sorry for the long rant. I know it is not very useful (especially because I keep editing it so I don't hurt sensibilities).
Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
you know i cant decide which is worse, announcing these pieces of crap at gencon or the community rolling over like dogs as they destroy dungeon magazine


dark days


Destroy, huh? Laughing As a non-DDI guy who never read Dungeon content in the first place, do these freebie articles cut into the regular content?

And do you know what 'pieces of crap' they are announcing at this year's Gen-Con?
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
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