4th edition Combat and Non-Combat: Getting the right mixture.

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I've been thinking about something for a while now and it's cropped up in another thread so I would like to talk about it further.  As most of you know already, I want a version of D&D that caters to non-combat just as much as combat.  Now 4th edition does not do this well at all.  As much as people want to argue, the game is more about combat than anything else.  You can look at most class and racial abilities and see they are geared more for combat.  Now I understand that not all of them do this but a majority do. 

Since there is so much emphasis on combat I see that role playing and non-combat suffer.  Most of the decisions that you make with regards to race, class, feats and magic items are combat related and since you invest so much time with the combat aspect you begin to feel a bit cheated if you don't get to use it often.  If I was going for a pure non-combat RPG then I would not go with 4th edition because it would be a waste of the mechanics. 

Now I said earlier that in my opinion 3.5 is a better system with regards to combat and I am going to share why I think this.  Years ago I ran a pure role playing non-combat game using the D&D 3.5 rules.  The class that everyone could choose from was the Aristocrat, Expert and Noble (Dragonlance Campaign Setting Book).  Now, while these classes do have minor combat abilities they wouldn't be missed if they were never used.  Also, I do understand that two of those classes are NPC classes but in all honesty they are no different than PC classes.  Now in the game I ran the PC's all had professions and were in the same city.  The whole game was nothing but role playing and using their skills.  There was tons of intrigue, suspense, comedy and a whole lot of other things going on.  The PC's used their skills and Professions to make money because there was no adventuring going on.  In the end it was a very very enjoyable and different game.

Now what this did was it allowed us to not only role play but to actually feel like we were still using the system because we actually were even though there was no fighting going on.  My player's didn't feel at all cheated when there was no combat because they didn't have tons of combat abilities going to waste in the background. 

This is why I do enjoy 4th edition for combat games but they grow a bit stale very quickly.  I really hope that Wizards decides to create the next edition with a balance of both.
3e non-combat mechanics were terrible. I would rather use the warhammer RPG for the type of game you are describing. Still, I do hope that the next itteration of D&D does have a stronger focus on non-combat skill based resolution mechanics. 
I find the amount of work required to set up a whole game of RP is a heck of a lot. Basically it's a whole story, and all it's side treks, and branches, and interesting NPCs that needs creating and planning out.

Personally I find 50% RP and 50% tactical on a time-basis works best for the group I DM.
I think the bottom line is 3.5 isn't very good for it either.  If you are going to play a game that focuses almost entirely on non-combat, and want mechanics that cover a larger range of "things" than any edition of D&D ever has.

4e works just fine for "adventures" that do not have combat (though, I use the term adventure loosely at this point, more like a chapter) - but is probably not the best game engine to build an entire non-combat campaign on.  For that matter - NONE of the previous editions were very good for it, 3.5 was closest, but still was designed with more combat in mind than non-combat.

You are wanting D&D to be something other than what it is.  D&D is an adventure game, and a campaign of nothing but social interactions is probably best left to a system that was designed for such a thing.

The WoD settings & GURPS - those are 2 systems that work well with non-combat/social interaction - In particular GURPS is a great game that has practically rules for everything, more so than WoD.  Try that for a non-combat campaign. 

WotC should NOT do to much to change the formula for non-combat because that's not what the game engine was designed for.  Focus on being the best at "adventure" games, with enough rules to cover the social/non-combat situations and let the other games handle the game types.

That said, it is completely possible in 4e with the current rules to do so.  Yes, you get powers you won't use - but you can still do it - but the game can handle it, unless you (as a DM) NEED rules in order to adjudicate the non-combat stuff rather than be able to wing it as people did back when 1e came out.
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Now I said earlier that in my opinion 3.5 is a better system with regards to combat and I am going to share why I think this.  Years ago I ran a pure role playing non-combat game using the D&D 3.5 rules.  The class that everyone could choose from was the Aristocrat, Expert and Noble (Dragonlance Campaign Setting Book).  Now, while these classes do have minor combat abilities they wouldn't be missed if they were never used.  Also, I do understand that two of those classes are NPC classes but in all honesty they are no different than PC classes.  Now in the game I ran the PC's all had professions and were in the same city.  The whole game was nothing but role playing and using their skills.  There was tons of intrigue, suspense, comedy and a whole lot of other things going on.  The PC's used their skills and Professions to make money because there was no adventuring going on.  In the end it was a very very enjoyable and different game.

Now what this did was it allowed us to not only role play but to actually feel like we were still using the system because we actually were even though there was no fighting going on.  My player's didn't feel at all cheated when there was no combat because they didn't have tons of combat abilities going to waste in the background.



other then the Profession skill and ability-less classes, what in that paragraph shows 3.5's greater ability to RP? all i see here is "3.5 is great for roleplaying because we can play characters with no abilities (i have no clue what the noble class is) and we can roll profession checks."

i would like to see what you're looking at, but i'm seeing nothing.

you're way too hung up on assigning numbers to everything Xun, especially when the numbers it does generate usually only matters on a micromanging scale. i simply don't see how "i roll an 11 on profession + my 9 bonus, i make 10GP this week" makes for better RP when coupled with "i can't fight worth a darn".

the only line that mattered "There was tons of intrigue, suspense, comedy and a whole lot of other things going on" relies far more on the group's mindset then the edition. bravo if you have a group that's into that sort of thing...

now the important thing you have to remember Xun is this:

combat doesn't kill roleplay. combat is a constant state of tension and flux where "bad stuff" can happen on a moment's notice.

one of the big reasons people like using combat (other then, and let's all admit it, it's fun to bash in a few goblin skulls every now and then) is because combat is a quick source of instant conflict. there is little better way to grab someone's attention then adding conflict.

note that i am talking about conflict in the narrative sense.

this is when the best, IMO, RP happens.

the same way that i'm sure you didn't go "alright guys, week 1, roll profession. week 2, roll profession. week 3, roll profession, week 4 roll profession. remove a month's worth of food and taxes from your total.

HOORAY ROLEPLAY"

no, i'm sure you framed various situations for the characters to react to, either because of their own willing actions or in response to something an NPC did.

you created conflict, ie: tension.

combat is the very same way. 5 orcs in a 40x30 room in itself does about as much as "roll profession" to create any sort of conflict or narrative, it relies entirely on:

A) the GM to place something there that conflicts or works towards with the PCs' goals
B) the Players to be willing to invest into the character as a character, rather then a pile of numbers.

if of those 5 orcs, one of them is "Hewn-Tusk the Foul" the man who killed the father of Jhonas, expect some sort back-and-forth between the PCs and the NPC before, during and after combat... if that's what they're interested in.

neither ability-less classes nor profession checks do anything to foster more RP if the players didn't want to RP to begin with.

i just don't see it.
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I think they are already doing this to a certain extent in 4th. It started with utilities. Some of these were combat oriented and some were non-combat oriented. I think this system failed because it wasn't entirely non-combat oriented thus causing the majority of people to pick combat useful utilities at the expense of something that may have been interesting from a  role-play perspective.

They tried again in PHB2 with the background mechanic. I know in my game at least it often devolved into how can I somehow shoehorn this background bonus I really want onto this completely unrelated character idea because I want a +2 to a certain skill.

Martial practices hit a little closer to home, I don't have DDI or martial power 2 though so I can't comment in detail.

Finally they released themes. Themes in my opinion work really well as they give you some nice background material to role-play off of and it helps the DM plan things out too. It also gives you some nice mechanical benefits to accentuate the background material. Some of it still can be abused of course they haven't fixed that problem yet. But it is the best system so far in my opinion.

For a pure role-game though I agree with one of the above posters I'd go with another game system entirely over any version of D&D.
I find this discussion hilarious, because in my current game, my players have to rip themselves away from roleplaying when they remember that "oh yeah, we're supposed to be stopping the bad guy."

I even get roleplaying in combat.

My view?  Making a character good in combat is easy when you have a very robust system for combat rules, which 4e has.

However, no edition of D&D is suited for completely non-combat or extremely combat-lite campaigns.  As soon as someone takes Wizard and Fireball, right there goes a difficult social problem in flames.

You want a social game, you should have a game system that has real-life ramifications for combat, such as being in the hospital for weeks to deal with a wound, like World of Darkness or GURPS.

Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
I think the bottom line is 3.5 isn't very good for it either.  If you are going to play a game that focuses almost entirely on non-combat, and want mechanics that cover a larger range of "things" than any edition of D&D ever has.

4e works just fine for "adventures" that do not have combat (though, I use the term adventure loosely at this point, more like a chapter) - but is probably not the best game engine to build an entire non-combat campaign on.  For that matter - NONE of the previous editions were very good for it, 3.5 was closest, but still was designed with more combat in mind than non-combat.

You are wanting D&D to be something other than what it is.  D&D is an adventure game, and a campaign of nothing but social interactions is probably best left to a system that was designed for such a thing.

The WoD settings & GURPS - those are 2 systems that work well with social interaction - In particular GURPS is a great game that has practically rules for everything, more so than WoD.  Try that for a social campaign. 

WotC should NOT do to much to change the formula for non-combat because that's not what the game engine was designed for.  Focus on being the best at "adventure" games, with enough rules to cover the social/non-combat situations and let the other games handle the game types.



D&D should be designed for those who want heavy combat and those who want heavy non-combat.  At the end of the day D&D is still an RPG (Role Playing Game). Now if D&D wants to go back to being a tactical combat simulator then it really needs to drop the role playing part and focus entirely on combat mechanics. 

I've been playing for over 25 years now and I have played GURPS and I have played more WoD games than you can imagine. Those are great systems and I do play them at times but I'm not talking about those systems. The discussion is not about playing other systems but bringing D&D back to what it was. 

I'm not sure where you get that 3.5 was mainly focused on combat because it wasn't unless the DM wanted it that way. The problem here is you talking about that I want D&D to be something that it's not.  Well the thing is, D&D has already been there and I would like for it to back to where it was, actually I would like for the balance of non-combat and combat to be even better. 

I think something is getting lost here when we talk about non-combat in games.  You say that 4th edition is a great for non-combat games and I ask why?  I mean sure you can do pure role play with the system but why would you?  I mean I could set up the Monopoly board and start to role play with the board sitting close by without ever rolling a single set of dice and I could say that I am role playing in Monopoly?
what was D&D?  Certantly not a non combat game.

I dont know why you think D&D should cater to everyone like some kind of GURPS game.  there is nothing wrong with hitting a target market... nothing at all. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

what was D&D?  Certantly not a non combat game.

I dont know why you think D&D should cater to everyone like some kind of GURPS game.  there is nothing wrong with hitting a target market... nothing at all. 



Because you sell more product to everyone than a select few.
@xun

Except for utility powers, non-combat skills, themes, etc. There is more to 4th ed non combat abilities than 3.5 which was primarily limited to npc classes and profression/perform skills.
But I will admit the majority of D&D 4th is geared towards combat, you need to work at non combat because its mostly handwaved.

Though I think its just a matter of perspective With a little tweeking you can make a completely "non combat" game 

My favorite thought is just taking a new look at things.  In a Governmental intrigue game that will have very little combat.  The encounters would probably be negotiations and other covert operations.  All you have to do is relable everything.

The fighter isnt a fighter, hes an Aggressive negotiator.  He doesnt swing a sword he swings his Arguements in an aggressive fashion.

Combat isnt beating the other side down but rather an abstraction of conversation, the "wizard" using his vast intellect squshes the insignificant trivilties of conversation (minions), while the "Fighter" (AKA the ass coverer) keeps his side from getting too mired in the retorts (Attacks) of the opposition.

I know its a bit corny, but rather then look at 4e combat as combat try to look at it as a resolution mechanic rather. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

what was D&D?  Certantly not a non combat game.

I dont know why you think D&D should cater to everyone like some kind of GURPS game.  there is nothing wrong with hitting a target market... nothing at all. 



Because you sell more product to everyone than a select few.



I would say you can sell product to everyone if the market included everyone, but RPGs are definately not a large market and at least in my experiances universal systems dont seem ot sell better then ther more niche counterparts.

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

But I will admit the majority of D&D 4th is geared towards combat, you need to work at non combat because its mostly handwaved.

Though I think its just a matter of perspective With a little tweeking you can make a completely "non combat" game 

My favorite thought is just taking a new look at things.  In a Governmental intrigue game that will have very little combat.  The encounters would probably be negotiations and other covert operations.  All you have to do is relable everything.

The fighter isnt a fighter, hes an Aggressive negotiator.  He doesnt swing a sword he swings his Arguements in an aggressive fashion.

Combat isnt beating the other side down but rather an abstraction of conversation, the "wizard" using his vast intellect squshes the insignificant trivilties of conversation (minions), while the "Fighter" (AKA the ass coverer) keeps his side from getting too mired in the retorts (Attacks) of the opposition.

I know its a bit corny, but rather then look at 4e combat as combat try to look at it as a resolution mechanic rather. 



Pure non-combat system isn't really the issue here.  I am looking for a more balance of the two.  Let's say you are running a long campaign and for a few game sessions you have combat.  Now, for the next few game sessions you do not. I want to be able to equally invest my time and game mechanics into non-combat as well as combat and actually feel like I get a return in what I have invested.
@xun

Except for utility powers, non-combat skills, themes, etc. There is more to 4th ed non combat abilities than 3.5 which was primarily limited to npc classes and profression/perform skills.



It's not the amount of tools you have but how you can use them.  At the end of the day you are still investing more time in making your character combat ready than non-combat. 


Pure non-combat system isn't really the issue here.  I am looking for a more balance of the two.  Let's say you are running a long campaign and for a few game sessions you have combat.  Now, for the next few game sessions you do not. I want to be able to equally invest my time and game mechanics into non-combat as well as combat and actually feel like I get a return in what I have invested.



I guess I dont see the issue, I have run my game for about a month without any kind of combat happening and I dont recall anyone having any issues.  Free form RP FTW!

Though I understand this doenst help you with your dice fetish, but i dont understand the mentality behind wanting a number for every single aspect of the game. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.



Pure non-combat system isn't really the issue here.  I am looking for a more balance of the two.  Let's say you are running a long campaign and for a few game sessions you have combat.  Now, for the next few game sessions you do not. I want to be able to equally invest my time and game mechanics into non-combat as well as combat and actually feel like I get a return in what I have invested.



I guess I dont see the issue, I have run my game for about a month without any kind of combat happening and I dont recall anyone having any issues.  Free form RP FTW!

Though I understand this doenst help you with your dice fetish, but i dont understand the mentality behind wanting a number for every single aspect of the game. 



It all depends on the player's but why would you even play 4th edition without much combat except to say that you are playing 4th edition? Without combat most racial abilities, class abilities and powers are pretty much useless.  Sure there are some uses for some things but if you are playing say a half-orc and you have no combat then his racial ability is useless.


Pure non-combat system isn't really the issue here.  I am looking for a more balance of the two.  Let's say you are running a long campaign and for a few game sessions you have combat.  Now, for the next few game sessions you do not. I want to be able to equally invest my time and game mechanics into non-combat as well as combat and actually feel like I get a return in what I have invested.



I guess I dont see the issue, I have run my game for about a month without any kind of combat happening and I dont recall anyone having any issues.  Free form RP FTW!

Though I understand this doenst help you with your dice fetish, but i dont understand the mentality behind wanting a number for every single aspect of the game. 



It all depends on the player's but why would you even play 4th edition without much combat except to say that you are playing 4th edition? Without combat most racial abilities, class abilities and powers are pretty much useless.  Sure there are some uses for some things but if you are playing say a half-orc and you have no combat then his racial ability is useless.



Only useless in a totally non-combat game.  

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

I'm wondering about the strawman scenario put up:

1. Why is the player using a race that's obviously geared towards war in a campaign that clearly lacks the tendency to cater to his needs?
2. If the answer to #1 is "to play it up for laughs", then why is the racial power so important here?

Frankly, DMG p.42 as well as skill checks galore are effectively what you need for the most part, add in Martial Practices and Rituals for best effect.  The way I see it, the game already has the mechanics for non-combat campaigns, it's simply a matter of, as Xun himself put it, "how you can use them".

A campaign that's heavily geared towards investigatory work would likely include social skills, insight, and perception, as well as heal and knowledge skills, with only rare uses of Athletics, Acrobatics and Endurance.  If a Fighter came in without even Intimidate or Streetwise as trained, and he still doesn't retrain or even take feats to improve any of his skills, then complains that he isn't doing anything to contribute to the campaign, then either the DM isn't catering to his desires, or the player is probably attempting to wreck the campaign (intentionally or otherwise).  As DM I'd probably do at least something to put him at ease and slip a fight or two into the campaign, and maybe have society deal with whatever nuisances he might do just to pick a fight or something.  In any case, 4E is flexible enough even for the dice-o-philic person, it's just a matter of creative application on the matter.

It's basically just like 3.5, except with less emphasis on points, and more emphasis on creative use of ability/skill checks. 
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Pure non-combat system isn't really the issue here.  I am looking for a more balance of the two.  Let's say you are running a long campaign and for a few game sessions you have combat.  Now, for the next few game sessions you do not. I want to be able to equally invest my time and game mechanics into non-combat as well as combat and actually feel like I get a return in what I have invested.



I guess I dont see the issue, I have run my game for about a month without any kind of combat happening and I dont recall anyone having any issues.  Free form RP FTW!

Though I understand this doenst help you with your dice fetish, but i dont understand the mentality behind wanting a number for every single aspect of the game. 



It all depends on the player's but why would you even play 4th edition without much combat except to say that you are playing 4th edition? Without combat most racial abilities, class abilities and powers are pretty much useless.  Sure there are some uses for some things but if you are playing say a half-orc and you have no combat then his racial ability is useless.


Wrong.  Half orcs, with their ability to do extra damage on an attack, would make WONDERFUL farmers.  Stick a scythe in their hands and watch them bring in the harvest faster than anybody else, or chop down a tree faster than any other lumberjack.

I have to agree that there is a big strawman argument here, which seems to basically fall into "there isn't as much customization of skills as what is needed".  People point out that any skill can be re-flavored uses of the skill list in 4e, and suddenly it's back to how you'd be gimping your character for combat, and you're not playing 4e if you're not doing combat.

Roleplaying has NOTHING to do with combat mechanics.  In my mind, Roleplaying and Combat are not diametrically opposed as they are for some people.
Here's an example:
The Aberrant Player's Guide is literally 300 pages of combat rules, listing the exact things that can be done with superpowers in depth, ON TOP OF the GENERAL combat rules for when you're NOT using your lazer eyes to kill people.  

I played in a campaign where we literally fought only three times, and two of those times were in simulators.  15 three hour sessions, only 2 hours of those 45 hours spent in combat.

Just because there are more combat options doesn't negate the option of playing non-violently.  Just because every single one of us put our XP into buying upgrades to our combat powers didn't prevent us from dealing with RP situations.

Additionally, I don't think I need rules to roleplay.  Personally, I feel that if you need rules to roleplay, you're doing it wrong. 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
Xun has presented several false premises.

The dichotomy is not "combat" vs. "noncombat" but adventuring vs. non-adventuring.  4e has plenty of noncombat mechanics, including Skills, Backgrounds, Martial Practices, Rituals, and more.  But all of these mechanics are geared towards adventuring, which does include (but is not exclusively) combat.

Once we look at it from that perspective, it becomes pretty clear why the game makes this distinction.  D&D is about being an adventurer.  Anything else is secondary, and that's why, to the extent that any edition included any mechanics at all about nonadventuring, they were nominal and not even close to being simulative.

All the editions had and have a nod to the nonadventuring life.  1e had secondary skills.  2e had optional rules for nonweapon proficiencies (although the vast majority of them were geared towards adventuring).  3e had CraPPer skills (although the only mechanical effect was to give you more cash with which to buy adventuring supplies).  4e has Martial Practices that let you build things.

Which brings us to the second false premise in Xun's initial post: that 4e does this any better or worse than prior editions.  There is no functional difference between 4e's treatment of the issue and 1e or 2e's treatment.  (Did Basic or OD&D have any rules that related to nonadventuring?  I don't remember any.)  The only functional difference between 1e, 2e, and 4e on one hand and 3e on the other, was that 3e actually required you to roll dice to accomplish anything, which results in 3e's system being the last simulative of all the systems.

Now, there are games that try to allow for robust rules for stuff that isn't related to adventuring.  GURPS and FUDGE to name a few.  They are called "universal" game systems and they tend to sell abysmally because the market for them is small, they invariably end up being either ponderous, clunky, and/or abstruse, and no system can actually accommodate all possible nonadventuring activities.  (Even GURPS hasn't accomplished it yet and they've had hundreds of supplements.)

In short, I don't think Xun is actually or clearly articulating what it is he wants.  I don't think he recognizes the drawbacks of the system he is claiming to desire.  And I think he's got a bit of a nostalgia for 3e (based on his prior posts on the subject).

And if you're curious about the "another thread" in which this subject "cropped up", you can see the thread from the moment where Xun himself injected that topic here

I leave you with AD&D's opinion on the matter, from the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide:

I think Wrecan has pretty much last-worded this one...

What 4e offers is a very nicely integrated package of adventuring options for PCs. They cover pretty much the whole range of things you might do in adventures. Physical stuff, mental/knowledge stuff, and social stuff. The design is really solid if you ask me.

The problem Xun, is I don't see anything that I want to add to the rules for things outside of combat. I can see the possibility of guidelines for DMs for more things. How to set up specific types of scenarios, or things like the UA article where they made a few rules for building buildings and bases for PCs. I just have no use for rules that simulate my PC being a cook or a bottlewasher. If the character IS one of those things, for some story reason, then it is the adventuring part, not the washing bottles or cooking meals that is the focus of the game. If I REALLY want to RP my character making a dinner, well, nothing stops me from doing that, but the game has little enough use for dice rolls involved with that that having 1/4 of a page spent on it is a waste of 1/4 of a page of crunch.

Honestly, Xun, Not only do I run games where there may be little focus on fighting and plenty of non-combat adventuring, I PREFER to do it in 4e. Your whole premise that 4e is 'not good for this' and 'why would you use 4e for this' are simply not valid issues for most of us. I can understand why people feel that 4e is GOOD for combat, and thus they like to have fights when they play 4e, but that's the choice of the players. It isn't because of some mythical poorness of 4e for doing other things. Sure, there ARE better games for purely non-combat adventuring, but I don't think the reasons for that have much to do with specific mechanics of 4e, but more to do with the fact that it is tuned to make combat and related stuff fun.

That is not dead which may eternal lie
Did Basic or OD&D have any rules that related to nonadventuring?  I don't remember any.



In BECMI, the Expert rules introduced the ability for Clerics to create magic items usable only by clerics once they reach name-level, and for magic-users and elves to make any magic items NOT cleric-specific. All of these items were adventure-related, however. It also introduced castles, strongholds, and hideouts that could be built by PCs, given the right amount of GP and time. They also have to pay taxes on their castle or stronghold once built.

The Companion books added more to the stronghold rules, and introduced servants and other hirelings the PCs could acquire. Page 9 of the Companion rules gives the DM advice on how to handle things the PCs do as they level. The examples given include using STR for a character trying to move a boulder, giving a thief an insta-pass to open simple locks, and so on. Very minor details, most of which are tied to Ability score checks.

Not present in the original BECMI rules but included in the Rules Cyclopedia are Skills. These skills are broken down by ability (Wisdom skills, Intelligence skills, etc.), and include several for each ability. PCs get 4 Skill Slots at level one, and then 1 more Skill Slot every 4th level (5th, 9th, 13th, etc.). Much of the skill rules in the Rules Cyclopedia rely heavily on DM fiat.

OD&D did not include rules for OOC situations.
As most of you know already, I want a version of D&D that caters to non-combat just as much as combat.  .... Since there is so much emphasis on combat I see that role playing and non-combat suffer. 

There's several distinct things going on here.

There's combat, which has an extensive, elaborate, inclusive, highly varried and engaging set of resoution mechanics (basic combat rules, conditions, saves, monster stat blocks, attack powers, features, class roles, etc, etc, etc...

There's non-combat, which has a less exetensive, somewhat inclusive, highly varied, but not terribly engaging set of resolution mechanics (skills, utilities, skill challenges, rituals/practices).

There's RP - which is resolutionless and mechanicless, it's just a matter of expressing your character.

There's non-mechanical resolution.  Stuff the game doesn't cover that the DM handles arbitrarily using the players' stated actions and common sense.


Each version of D&D has offered more non-combat resolution.  In 1e, non-combat resolution systems were initially limitted to spells, a handfull of class-specific abilities, and undefined 'secondary skills.  By 2e, non-weapon profficiencies had been added.  3e added a full-fledged skill system, with open-ended coverage of non-combat, and, indeed, non-adventuring skills, but skills still focused on task resolution with a single skill check.  4e added Skill Challenges - which were innovative, but were less than polished, and which many DMs still don't really have a handle on. 


So, is the concern you have more a matter of combat 'crowding out' non-combat activities, be they mechanically resolved or simply RP, or is it that more mechanical resolution systems are required for non-combat aspects of the game?  Skills, Skill Challenges, Utilities and Rituals can already cover quite a lot of ground, and leaving some non-combat 'open' to be simply RP'd without worrying about mechanics also has it's merits... 



 

 

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what was D&D?  Certantly not a non combat game.

I dont know why you think D&D should cater to everyone like some kind of GURPS game.  there is nothing wrong with hitting a target market... nothing at all. 



Because you sell more product to everyone than a select few.



That's not how game design works.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
something for everyone, IME, usually means "rather then focusing on bringing an awesome experience in a few select aspects, we decided to half-ass a lot of elements to see what gets past the radar"

GURPS, for example, does "Something for Everyone" but requires a LOT of GM prep time before it can do that thing... usually by trimming the things put there for everyone but your group. which is why i don't see a lot of people play or recommend the system. i would love to play it more, but it requires a GM with a good head on his shoulders and an eye for cutting out the unnecessary.

i would honestly pay 80$ for 2 seperate systems that each do one or two things that interest me in a game right, then pay 80$ for 4 systems that each half-ass those one or two things PLUS a bunch of extraneous stuff i don't care for... and i'm not alone.

more and more gamers i know tend to deviate towards systems that have specific tones or genres that they focus on, thus focusing on making that experience the best it can, rather then general "all-purpose" systems that don't have any focus.

like i told my monday group when we're deciding the next rotation: i would gladly GM GURPS, but i would need to figure out the setting & genres you're interested in playing in, otherwise, pass me the Changeling book.
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something for everyone, IME, usually means "rather then focusing on bringing an awesome experience in a few select aspects, we decided to half-ass a lot of elements to see what gets past the radar"

GURPS, for example, does "Something for Everyone" but requires a LOT of GM prep time before it can do that thing... usually by trimming the things put there for everyone but your group. which is why i don't see a lot of people play or recommend the system. i would love to play it more, but it requires a GM with a good head on his shoulders and an eye for cutting out the unnecessary.

i would honestly pay 80$ for 2 seperate systems that each do one or two things that interest me in a game right, then pay 80$ for 4 systems that each half-ass those one or two things PLUS a bunch of extraneous stuff i don't care for... and i'm not alone.

more and more gamers i know tend to deviate towards systems that have specific tones or genres that they focus on, thus focusing on making that experience the best it can, rather then general "all-purpose" systems that don't have any focus.

like i told my monday group when we're deciding the next rotation: i would gladly GM GURPS, but i would need to figure out the setting & genres you're interested in playing in, otherwise, pass me the Changeling book.

Having played GURPS a lot in the past, I find this to be quite accurate. The rules allow for anything you could need for most genres but to get a specific game into the proper track and atmosphere, it requires a ton of work from the DM.

I used to have more time for playing and GURPS was pretty neat since I was not too limited in what I could do with it, as long as I took my prep far enough. Now, I could not see myself going back to that.

Also, GURPS still does certain genres (typically) in a fashion that does not really support too much heroics - you have to add those rules from a separate supplement basically. If you run a fantasy game for instance, the heroes are quite mortal. You could not do out-of-the-box 4e style adventuring that would feel like a "paragon" level game for instance, unless you take a lot of time to define what is and what is not allowed.


Additionally, I don't think I need rules to roleplay.  Personally, I feel that if you need rules to roleplay, you're doing it wrong



Nobody said anything about "needing" rules to role play.  I'm not sure where you got this from but I'm afraid it's not accurate. 

I'm not looking for a game that "needs" rules to role play. With all my experience I can do that just fine. What I am looking for is a better mixture of combat and non-combat in the rules.

I've played GURPS myself and I can tell you that they haven't solved the all mystery of making a game for everyone.  Yes they have done this but hey haven't taken this sort of system to it's maximum level.
what was D&D?  Certantly not a non combat game.

I dont know why you think D&D should cater to everyone like some kind of GURPS game.  there is nothing wrong with hitting a target market... nothing at all. 



Because you sell more product to everyone than a select few.



That's not how game design works.



LOL!!! Are you seriously trying to go this route again?  Here's the problem with your statement.  You claim that you know all about game design but I'm afraid you don't. If you did then we would be playing the all mighty RPG that you came you came up with. 

The problem here is you claim about knowledge of game design and you try and use this as your argument but the truth is Wizards has already catered to "your" needs so to hell with everyone else except those who agree with you. 

I'm afraid you still have a bit to learn about game design if that is your attitude.
You've been linked the book before, I'm not going to do so again. If you want to be taken seriously, really, you should read it.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
You've been linked the book before, I'm not going to do so again. If you want to be taken seriously, really, you should read it.



I don't need to read the book. Whether you take me seriously or not is of no concern to me.  I've already seen what you think game design consists of so I don't intend on taking you seriously at all.
Arright, have fun then I guess... I'll leave the thread to you and other people who have not yet figured out that it's pointless to post in it.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.


Additionally, I don't think I need rules to roleplay.  Personally, I feel that if you need rules to roleplay, you're doing it wrong



Nobody said anything about "needing" rules to role play.  I'm not sure where you got this from but I'm afraid it's not accurate. 

I'm not looking for a game that "needs" rules to role play. With all my experience I can do that just fine. What I am looking for is a better mixture of combat and non-combat in the rules.

I've played GURPS myself and I can tell you that they haven't solved the all mystery of making a game for everyone.  Yes they have done this but hey haven't taken this sort of system to it's maximum level.



So, is your big problem that the rules for combat are longer than the rules for the rest of the game?  Because, honestly, that's how you're coming across. 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
imo being an avid dm as well as player, the dm can do a lot to make roleplay happen. think about how you are setting up your games, how players come to find out information, their interactions with npcs, etc.

if i want to run a roleplay heavy game i just set it up that way. its quite easy, and when people contend 4e is all about combat it makes me think no, your dm is all about combat

i dont think we really need roleplaing rules, i think that would just discourage players from going with the natural flow of it and make them think about mechanics of what they are doing instead of the story
Xun, do you want roleplay, or rollplay? I ask because I cannot think of a way to codeify roleplay without making it intrinsically reliable on a dice roll (rollplay).

Of course, I think today's Rule of Three has an excellent idea that they call Rule .5: "Basically, Rule 0.5 is the idea that if a player takes the time and trouble to engage in the world and the situation by describing exactly what his character does, and that action is exactly appropriate, then that action should just succeed—period." Emphasis mine.

So hooray! Twue wolepway in 4e! 

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Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

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Xun, do you want roleplay, or rollplay? I ask because I cannot think of a way to codeify roleplay without making it intrinsically reliable on a dice roll (rollplay).

Of course, I think today's Rule of Three has an excellent idea that they call Rule .5: "Basically, Rule 0.5 is the idea that if a player takes the time and trouble to engage in the world and the situation by describing exactly what his character does, and that action is exactly appropriate, then that action should just succeed—period." Emphasis mine.

So hooray! Twue wolepway in 4e! 



I'm afraid that's not true role play because there really is no such thing as "true role play".  If that's the way you want to play then that's fine but you really don't need a game system to play with period. You could just sit in a circle and just play a talking game because if you explain everything correctly then it automatically will happen. 

You keep trying to make me come off as someone that doesn't know how to role play and that I need rules for it.  I have made myself perfectly clear that isn't what I want and yet you still harp back to that.  I'm not sure if you are just having trouble understanding or you are just doing it on purpose. I would say it's the latter in my opinion.

I don't want the type of game where most non-combat is hand waved.  I don't pay for combat mechanics with everything else hand waved. If that's how you want to play then go for it but it's not what I want.
Xun, do you want roleplay, or rollplay? I ask because I cannot think of a way to codeify roleplay without making it intrinsically reliable on a dice roll (rollplay).

Skill challenges (and related concepts) actually handles the support of non-combat role playing quite fantastically.  But it is not necessary to have half a book dedicated to skill challenges because they are quite simple in premise.  A skill challenge book would be nice, however, describing different ways to run them as well as provide an abundance of examples.

Other than that, I don't see any real need for much "non-combat support."  That's pretty much the DM's job, and no amount of documentation will enforce non-combat.  It all depends on exactly what the DM and players want.  If you want more non-combat, do it yourself.

FYI, I have seen examples of people participating in campaigns that do not have ANY of the combat mechanics.  All encounters are through skill challenges and RP.  I repeat, NO COMBAT MECHANICS.  Those people stated that they thoroughly enjoyed playing 4E in this manner.

Celebrate our differences.

I'm afraid that's not true role play because there really is no such thing as "true role play".  If that's the way you want to play then that's fine but you really don't need a game system to play with period. You could just sit in a circle and just play a talking game because if you explain everything correctly then it automatically will happen. 

You keep trying to make me come off as someone that doesn't know how to role play and that I need rules for it.  I have made myself perfectly clear that isn't what I want and yet you still harp back to that.  I'm not sure if you are just having trouble understanding or you are just doing it on purpose. I would say it's the latter in my opinion.

I don't want the type of game where most non-combat is hand waved.  I don't pay for combat mechanics with everything else hand waved. If that's how you want to play then go for it but it's not what I want.

Sounds like you want a DM-less game, then.  Because, you know, everything you describe as things you do not want are exactly what a DM is supposed to handle.

Computer games and board games will handle all of those pesky DM tasks.  Maybe try those.



Celebrate our differences.

I'm afraid that's not true role play because there really is no such thing as "true role play".  If that's the way you want to play then that's fine but you really don't need a game system to play with period. You could just sit in a circle and just play a talking game because if you explain everything correctly then it automatically will happen. 

You keep trying to make me come off as someone that doesn't know how to role play and that I need rules for it.  I have made myself perfectly clear that isn't what I want and yet you still harp back to that.  I'm not sure if you are just having trouble understanding or you are just doing it on purpose. I would say it's the latter in my opinion.

I don't want the type of game where most non-combat is hand waved.  I don't pay for combat mechanics with everything else hand waved. If that's how you want to play then go for it but it's not what I want.



So instead you want classes like the noble - which boil down to only two non-combat abilities of aiding others at a higher bonus and the ability to call in favors?  These are the kinds of things you're looking for in the game? 

So what do these "numbers" really accomplish?  Are you going to tell other players they can't try to call in favors?  So a character who has done a lot of work for the church of Gond can't call in a favor because they aren't the right class? 

I don't hand wave things for my players - if talking with the king would further the plot and the characters fail the diplomacy check then they need to come up with an alternate option, a good roleplay reason may give them a bonus to that check, or remove the need for it all together if I can't find flaws in their logic of their argument. I don't need more mechanics for any of this.

Since you were willing to ignore all the combat stuff in 3.5 and house rule that the characters could play NPC classes, why are you not willing to homebrew some classes yourself to meet your need? 
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There's actually plenty of systems that handle things like favors, allies, political standing and loads of other non-combat conflict resolution really well.

It's just that none of them are designed to be about billionaire psychopaths roaving the lands and slaying creatures left and right for being of the wrong race and 'liberating' them of their possesions.

Xun apparently, with all his game design experience and knowledge, still hasn't realised that D&D is primarily designed to be about killing things and taking their stuff (and always was, and probably always will be) and that everything else is secondary.

(Of course he'll disagree, because facts don't exist unless they're his, and he'll never realise that he should just look for a non-D&D system that will instantly solve all his problems and give him exactly what he wants)
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Xun, do you want roleplay, or rollplay? I ask because I cannot think of a way to codeify roleplay without making it intrinsically reliable on a dice roll (rollplay).

Of course, I think today's Rule of Three has an excellent idea that they call Rule .5: "Basically, Rule 0.5 is the idea that if a player takes the time and trouble to engage in the world and the situation by describing exactly what his character does, and that action is exactly appropriate, then that action should just succeed—period." Emphasis mine.

So hooray! Twue wolepway in 4e! 



I'm afraid that's not true role play because there really is no such thing as "true role play".  If that's the way you want to play then that's fine but you really don't need a game system to play with period. You could just sit in a circle and just play a talking game because if you explain everything correctly then it automatically will happen. 

You keep trying to make me come off as someone that doesn't know how to role play and that I need rules for it.  I have made myself perfectly clear that isn't what I want and yet you still harp back to that.  I'm not sure if you are just having trouble understanding or you are just doing it on purpose. I would say it's the latter in my opinion.

I don't want the type of game where most non-combat is hand waved.  I don't pay for combat mechanics with everything else hand waved. If that's how you want to play then go for it but it's not what I want.



But you know what is going to happen in this thread Xun. If I ask you "describe a scenario and how you want it to be handled" we're going to analyze that scenario and we're going to say "OK, in 4e you can handle this using procedure X", and you're going to reply that you aren't satisfied with that and want more rules. We don't want more rules. We don't feel that more rules makes things better in all cases. Yes, you are correct, a game with no rules would be rather pointless, but we've never proposed that. We've just proposed that there are a lot of resources existing in 4e to allow you to deal with things that aren't combat. We HAD games that had less combat rules than 4e does. They worked OK, but they were also a lot less cinematic in terms of what the results were, and they left a lot of points of contention in a situation where clear decisive rules seem to make for a better result. Now, if the same results can be obtained with less combat rules, by all means suggest how that's going to be done. If your answer is we need more non-combat rules, I'm afraid most of us are playing 4e instead 3.x or PF at least partly because all those extra rules that we didn't need don't exist anymore.

I'd also just like to say that as a DM I find that 4e is a more liberated game in terms of integrating different elements that I dream up into the game. For instance I found all the myriad of rules associated with NPCs in previous editions to be hamstringing my creativity. I don't picture the world that makes up my setting as being populated by rigid classes of NPCs. Not everyone fits into the rigid categories of classes and class abilities. Classes exist to give the PLAYERS a way to know how they can develop their PCs (after all, there have to be SOME rules defining how their progression works). I don't want tons of added rules that basically try to tell me how the world works. Likewise I don't really like rules that try to overly structure things like strategic magic use. I found it very hamstringing that there was this fixed list of spells that fell into a rigidly defined structure of spell casting that was designed to deal with PC characters casting spells in combat. Yeah, you could sort of wedge other stuff in there, but in all the decades of playing D&D I never saw it work really well, whereas the ritual system of 4e captures that entire thing quite well, mostly by having less overall rules governing it, looser rules, and not trying to define how those rules relate to NPCs. I think what I'm trying to say is that over the years D&D got more and more in the way of just doing stuff, and 4e kind of backed off there and opened things up where they needed to be, in the larger scale aspects of the game, and at the same time nailed things down better at the conflict resolution level where it matters. I realize the result of this is less rules in some places and more in others. That's OK with me. The DM should take advantage of that in a 4e game and just sketch out the big picture how he wants. There's no more feeling compelled to justify it in terms of some mechanics that you really never needed to start with.

Obviously the upshot of all this is that many of us approach the game from a very different perspective than you do. Your dichotomy on which you rest the premise of discussion here simply doesn't matter to me and probably to a bunch of other posters here from what I can see. It isn't that we want to just disagree with you. It is just that we aren't even reading from the same book. What you desire would simply not make sense to me. I never once ran a game using 3.x rules. It never made the slightest sense to me to do that. I don't really dislike the game, but it isn't a tool I would want to use. I have no desire to go back to that kind of system and 4e as it is now suites me pretty well. I think if I were rewriting it today I'd streamline a number of things, which probably WOULD please you, but there's no chance I'd be bringing back codifications of NPCs in terms of PC classes or open-ended CPP skill lists. They just decrease the flexibility of the game for almost no gain IMHO.

That is not dead which may eternal lie
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