Combat Isn't Everything

It would be good if 5E actually took into consideration the idea that for many of us combat isn't everything. This isn't exactly a new issue for D&D, but 4E pushed the focus so far into combat that it has been described as a combat simulator rather than a roleplaying game. Now, there's nothing wrong with liking the combat side of things, and combat mechanics are important, but I think it's about time that D&D actually looks seriously at content relating to what's going on when there isn't a fight.

Back in the day it was fine to be mostly combat oriented, but now other systems have arisen that handle non-combat elements much better. If I want to play a political intrigue game in my own fantasy setting I'm more likely to use Exalted's mechanics instead of D&D right now because Exalted actually provides the tools to play a game where blackmail is more relevent than backstab. You can build an entire party focused around non-combat abilities and related powers. There's stuff that deals with every aspect of social interaction, from seduction to fast-talking, penmanship to preaching.

Don't make all of our options relate to how we fight, and don't make non-combat options a mere token effort. Think seriously about how best one could make a Tyrion Lannister or a Steerpike.

Why are you guys abusing of strawmen and logical fallacies? This is not true that 4th edi. is all combat, it is highly rping.

You do not need load of rules for rping, ya know. 
Dungeons and Dragons, in my opinion, has always been a trifecta of Combat, Role-Playing, and Exploration.  The reason people think 4E is "all about Combat" is because that's the only concept they really cover.  But isn't that all it needs to cover?  Do you really want a Player's Handbook that dictates to you how you should and shouldn't Role-Play?  The Alignment system in previous editions were a bit like that ("Here's a list of 9 Alignments that we'll allow you to choose from".), and it did nothing but frustrate gamers.  I don't need a book to tell me how to pretend, you know?  Same sort of thing goes for exploration: do you really want a core handbook that tells you how they intend to allow you to explore the game world that you probably drew up yourselves?  Of course not.

But still, people mistakenly believe that 4E is "all about Combat", when that's really the only thing you need a core handbook to help you with: Yes, we need to know how many squares we can move each turn; Yes, we need to know how to calculate our defenses; Yes, we need a comprehensive list of class powers to select from; Yes, we need to know how much damage each weapon does; etc.

We do NOT need the book to tell us how to act, or what to say, or anything else that relates to Role-Playing or Exploration, really.  What we get are a few suggestions, and really, isn't that all we need in the first place?

I posit that if your 4E game is all Combat, and no Role-Playing or Exploration, then you haven't done an adequate job of implementing it on your own.  Trust me: 4E is an extremely robust system, and you can really easily have as much or as little Role-Playing as you want.     
Dude,
[Edited] D&D without combat is just an improv theater troupe sitting at the table. I am a heavy role-player myself. I ran the largest, most active World of Warcraft RP guild on Sentinels for 5 years; I do voices when I DM, spend hours on social interaction encounters, and don't enjoy the game unless I can see my character developing beyond his or her stats (yep, I play both genders), but everything has to wind up heading towards a brutal, magical, sword-slashing brawl. You're not an adventurer if you don't deal damage once a game session. If I didn't spend half my time planning out epic battles for my game sessions, [Edited] Long live the savage man battles!!!
There are things outside of combat that require rules. Like "can I convince this ogre that he and his buddies should let us pass" or "Can I climb that wall." Now social interaction includes roleplaying, but it does need rules to adjucate. There's not really any reason that combat should require that many more rules than out of combat, or at least not all of combat things. Furthermore, 4e classes have long list of combat powers, but very little abilities they can use out of combat.
And, just because you can roleplay social interactions just fine, doesn't mean that PLayer two seats down from you has the Player intellect and social capacity to RP a Bard, or Politician. But that's why we have rules in place, so that the characters can do things the players may not be able to do themselves.
Alignments are Fluid, meaning that they are based off of your actions, not your actions being based of the alignment.
I think what the original poster is getting at is that 4E's powers and options revolve almost completely around the combat encounter portion of the game. I like that all classes have an important combat role in 4E, but long for the days when elves could suss out hidden doors, dwarves could orient in a dungeon and paladins could detect evil.
When leveling, if you gave me the option to choose between an extra damage die for my paladin's smite power or the ability to detect if someone's lying, I'd opt for the lie detection. Skills and skill challenges are great, but spells and powers should also have utility in social or exploration encounters.
I think Daemon69 really hit the mark in suggesting that 4th edition misses out on this almost completely.
The death of charm spells (one of which briefly returned with the red box) is probably the clearest aspect of this. It was seen as ok to persuase someone of something, but to use magic to do that was "bad".

It was ok to kill them in ten thousand ways, however.

Magic became an alternative problem solver, but it always seemed clumsy and made one wonder why it had been invented in the first place if everyone could easily handly their problems in a mundance way without spending a kings ransom in reagents, or taking a whole day in time.

Killing someone, however, used no reagents and was instant and thus the message was that adventurers were made for war, pure and simple. Other things simply were deemed non heroic or pointless and thus got either clumsy rules or no rules.
I think what the original poster is getting at is that 4E's powers and options revolve almost completely around the combat encounter portion of the game. I like that all classes have an important combat role in 4E, but long for the days when elves could suss out hidden doors, dwarves could orient in a dungeon and paladins could detect evil. When leveling, if you gave me the option to choose between an extra damage die for my paladin's smite power or the ability to detect if someone's lying, I'd opt for the lie detection. Skills and skill challenges are great, but spells and powers should also have utility in social or exploration encounters. I think Daemon69 really hit the mark in suggesting that 4th edition misses out on this almost completely.



The problem with that though is if you thought you were getting into a social, or just RP general situation ahead of time. One would prepare mostly spells and ablilites that one would think would be benefical in the upcoming scenarios. Then if you got into a combat, you were a determent to the team. What 4e does is make them rituals which requires a feat to obtain, or to make them utility powers which everyone gets. Furthermore there is nothing in the rules saying you can't try a hypnotism, or a turn undead on NPCs. The DM might need to think a bit fast on his feet since one typically doesn't wish the typcial combat effect that said powers might imply.

In response to Lord_Zack, the non-combat powers are brought out in skill powers, or just the skills themselves. Do they have there own problems, yes. But powers and rules are all described in the Skill section. Im not sure what the problem is there. Is it just to many rules?

 In regards to the OP. He mentions seduction, fast-talking, penmenship, and preaching. All are covered by the skills Bluff, Diplomacy (or Bluff), Thievery (forged documents etc), and religion. A skill is not needed for every scenario that one comes across. In 4e they are broken down into very broad, general terms. If a group strictly wants an RP adventure, that option is available to them. It just means that combat powers are ignored. If a groups wants combat, it means that combat powers aren't ignored. I have played both ways in 3.x and 4e and I have fun either way.
When leveling, if you gave me the option to choose between an extra damage die for my paladin's smite power or the ability to detect if someone's lying, I'd opt for the lie detection. Skills and skill challenges are great, but spells and powers should also have utility in social or exploration encounters. I think Daemon69 really hit the mark in suggesting that 4th edition misses out on this almost completely.



So you took Skill Focus - Insight instead of Weapon Focus as a Level 1 feat right?  And you boosted Perception and Dungeoneering with your Elf and Dwarf PCs right?

I've said it before, I'll say it again:  People that complain about not being able to roleplay in fourth edition probably aren't good at it anyway.  Or they just can't comprehend the fact that a skill like Arcana can encompass lots of 'magic' type skills.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

I'm talking more about special powers than skills. Perhaps a power to drastically augment Insight?
The point of the game is to create a ruleset that provides a means of statistical odds for succeeding at any given task.

For games like Exalted or other Story Teller games, this is incredibly universal. Your likelihood of success is defined by your Skill + Attribute. So if you want to jump out a window and land on your feet, it would be your Dex attribute + acrobatics skill. In D&D it could be a saving throw, or a feat, or any number of other mechnics. 

The problem though, especially with 4th ed, is that the system for taking a combat action spans the vast majority of the books. Not just book, but books. Where as the system for social actions is barely a foot note.

I can use the rules to determine how many die I get on my backstab, how I can improve my odds, what weapon will work the best, what part of the body I should aim for, etc... There is no similar depth for how I should trick the constable into letting that prisoner go. There is no mechanic for how best to approach that lonely princess that has the key to the treasury. There isn't a progression path for the improv act duo of cut purses.

It isn't that you /can't/ do these things in 4ed, it's that the game mechnics push with out restraint in the direction of combat. Why bother taking social actions when the game mechanics make combat the obvious answer, when characters progress with combat ability. When was the last time someone was awarded a 'Broach of lies' granting them a bonus to manipulating people? Compare that to how many Long Sword +1 have been handed out in the last week of gaming.

-Rick
I'm talking about a wide range of things.

Where are the straight-up non-combat abilities for each class? And keep in mind, i'm not talking about having to replace combat abilities with non-combat ones.

Yes, there are skills, but the rules for them are ill-defined. How big of a success (or how many seperate successes) do you need to get people to change religion, or take up arms against against a threat, or lynch an innocent man, or figure out which mountains will have the ore you need to make the god-killing sword? How do people resist these things? It's mostly DM fiat right now - there's no established metric for success, unlike in combat where the mechanics for killing something are very clearly defined with hit points and armor class and damage reduction and the other stuff that takes up he majority of each book.

I'm currently playing in a game where there's a power that increases my character's strength to inhuman levels - but it immediately ends if I attempt to use it in combat - it's quite handy because honestly, I spend 99% of my time doing not-combat stuff. There are powers that make one more seductive, grant the ability to detect lies with 100% certainty, to form contracts that you quite literally can't break. In various games, i've had the ability to manipulate emotions, find secret compartments, speak to animals, plants or even inanimate objects. There are powers that boost stats and/or skills, bolster your resistance against other's skills, or let you use skills in ways that are normally impossible. I had one character who had dozens of different ways to investigate anything - he could look into the past, literally see the connections between people and things, speak to spirits and ghosts, walk around in an invisible ghost-like form, examine magical signatures in incredible depth, read auras - just to name a few.

I'm not saying you can't RP in 4E, or in 3.5 or anything remotely similar. I'm saying that the game is currently REALLY heavily focused on combat, and that the game could stand to have the non-combat side beefed up a bit. Just because you've got non-combat abilities doesn't mean you have to use them, but if you don't have them, you can't use them...
Saying that the rules are ill-defined is absolutely wrong. That is where the easy/medium/hard DC checks come into play. Those are determined by the DM either by fiat, using the assigned level values, or adjusting vaules to what the situation warrants. Furthermore any of those examples can easily be made into a skill challenge which has a broad complexity level between 1 and 6. More is described in the DMG and PHB about skills in the 4e books. I let you read over them yourself.

Everything you listed can be done in the 17 skills that they have given us in 4e. All of which can be done with out taking a power, just limited by your imagination and what the DM says is acceptable.


I sympathize with your POV, but you're going to have a hard time convincing anyone. I play a bard who spends almost all his money on rituals, so I can always lie, charm people, hold an object and know its history, see into the past, etc etc. not knowing your system, I can't guarantee I have more fun toys than you, but I'm pretty sure I have enough. But, as you say, combat options outweigh non-combat options, so most people just pick the combat options. Why pick "turn into a snake or spider" when you can get shield? And, if everyone picks combat options, they'll be more likely to self reinforce - focusing on combat because they are good at it, and then picking combat options because they are in combat a lot.

Now, I like 4e, so for the 4e folks, I get that for all Rp encounters, you don't *need* rules. You can Wing it (equivalent of page 42) and you can use skill challenges. But non-combat encounters will be more fun if there are powers for non combat. IMHO
I'm talking about a wide range of things.

Where are the straight-up non-combat abilities for each class? And keep in mind, i'm not talking about having to replace combat abilities with non-combat ones.

Yes, there are skills, but the rules for them are ill-defined. How big of a success (or how many seperate successes) do you need to get people to change religion, or take up arms against against a threat, or lynch an innocent man, or figure out which mountains will have the ore you need to make the god-killing sword? How do people resist these things? It's mostly DM fiat right now - there's no established metric for success, unlike in combat where the mechanics for killing something are very clearly defined with hit points and armor class and damage reduction and the other stuff that takes up he majority of each book.



I thought that's how it was done in previous editions.  "We don't need rules to play, man!  We just play!"

If they developed a ruleset as clearly defined for out-of-combat as they have for in-combat, everyone would be crying about how restrictive the new rules are for roleplaying.  Or be screaming about how it's not realistic, "Cause I've got a super-high Charisma score, the King should  totally be intimidated by me!"

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

Actually, that was one of my biggest complaints about 3.5 and 4th ed. That combat was so incredibly well defined that it was excessively restrictive. I want a system to change my player's plans into statistical odds to be rolled out by dice. I don't want players to be pinned into nothing but what their abilities say they can do.


Saving throws, ability checks, skills, feats, etc... I want to see it all boiled down to a streamlined system that can be applied to both combat and non-combat actions.

-Rick   
Well, I agree somehow.

While the 4th ed books try to explain what roleplaying is and that non-combat actually matters (that's why we got skill challenges) it still feels like one huge combat-oriented system.
Yes, combat is pretty detailed, maybe even too much so it still complicates things up and makes combat rounds last forever. But the rest of the "rules" are so basic and non-detailed unless they happen to touch combat in any way that it feels like a nonissue to the system.

Don't get me wrong, I don't need rules to cover up any RP situation I'm in. I don't want D&D to become like rolemaster where you'd roll on any single action, be that firemaking or knitting your shoes. But I do want some fluff in the rules. I remember debating about creating an ardent and her style of power where the flavour text indicated that this class can *feel* emotions from other beings and also *sends* her own towards them. I definitely wanted to play her that way, but I wasn't allowed because "it wasn't covered by the rules". Yeah, the rules which gave my beloved class some combat or skill modifiers and nothing else besides that.

I know that you can houserule all that stuff and that a DM may give each PC some little tricks for his own. But unless you cover that up it is completely up to your DM and if you happen to have a stringent one you'll have your flavour in combat and not much else.

And please let us not have to choose between combat and noncombat feats. We all know that each of us feels forced to take the crunchy ones...
Well, I agree somehow.

While the 4th ed books try to explain what roleplaying is and that non-combat actually matters (that's why we got skill challenges) it still feels like one huge combat-oriented system.



4E is the first edition to have a clear value for non-combat activities. Skill challenges are not the mechanics to solve a skill, but also the reward system for the challenges. On all editions prior, all the way to get XP (in the rules) was combat. Also it includes quests which are another dimension to the character evolution mechanics.

I do agree Skill Challenges are a bit combat oriented and clunky. Having everyone take part is hards, and some times they just don't work.

However in some of the adventures I have seen some nice ideas in how to mix combat and role-playing, and skill challenges anc combat. I think more ideas on this area would be great. Some examples:


  • On a skill challenge to stop a ritual, combatants can attack some of the ritaullist to disrupt the ritual (and get victories to skill challenge)

  • In combat a series of skill checks will improve the situation or diminish the powers.

  • I have used spells (like cantrips) in chase situations.


I think the problem is that when you have an enemy wizard with 200 HP (meaning he is hard to kill during combat). Changing a 2W attack for a skill check does not pay off. It would be nice to have things that could be done that have a large effect on the combat or skill challenges.

As a DM I think limiting powers like charm, hold person, and the scry/teleport combo was a create idea. No luck roll or spell will bypass half of you carefully crafted dungeon. But the catch is the only way to win a combat it grinding hit points. It would be nice to have some more open ended options.
It would be good if 5E actually took into consideration the idea that for many of us combat isn't everything. This isn't exactly a new issue for D&D, but 4E pushed the focus so far into combat that it has been described as a combat simulator rather than a roleplaying game. Now, there's nothing wrong with liking the combat side of things, and combat mechanics are important, but I think it's about time that D&D actually looks seriously at content relating to what's going on when there isn't a fight.

Back in the day it was fine to be mostly combat oriented, but now other systems have arisen that handle non-combat elements much better. If I want to play a political intrigue game in my own fantasy setting I'm more likely to use Exalted's mechanics instead of D&D right now because Exalted actually provides the tools to play a game where blackmail is more relevent than backstab. You can build an entire party focused around non-combat abilities and related powers. There's stuff that deals with every aspect of social interaction, from seduction to fast-talking, penmanship to preaching.

Don't make all of our options relate to how we fight, and don't make non-combat options a mere token effort. Think seriously about how best one could make a Tyrion Lannister or a Steerpike.


I think that combat should be folded into the skill challenge system. That way every encounter can involve multiple problem-solving options.

*ducks and runs from rotten fruit* 
.
There were certain things removed from dnd that to me show that 4e is a better tactical game than roleplaying game. These were all on the gm side of the screen.

The first was lack of region/climate tables for monsters. 4e is designed so a gm can look up a level of monsters, pick something around the level of the pcs and go. Great for making an encounter but it circumvents story building. If the players are in a forest, then there should be an easy to use list of monsters that work great in a forest encounter. DDI would work like a charm for this since the monster manual will continue to increase in size.

Next is lack of Most Common Alignment. I understand that te game is built around the PCs being good and are always fighting never-do-wells. And that any gold dragon that the pcs have to fight is a bad seed. But the GM should know if most gold dragons are good aligned. If every monster is portrayed as something to fight then that's what is going to happen. The monster entries should not only provide a fun challenge in combat but educate the GM in how to add them to the story.

The next thing I want to talk about is world building. There should be more to the world than little dungeons scattered over the map. There needs to be useful information about cities, laws of the lands, structure building. What if the PCs want to buy a tavern? What kind of profit is in in that? What if they want to build a castle? How would local lords feel about that? How can they do that when everyone feels like they need that gold to buy equipment for combat? Putting magic items in the players handbook and telling GMs that whatever they look for they should find at the store is not a good story practice. Essentials started to turn this around and hopefully 5e will continue this. Also in this category is the lack of useful setting material and adventures. When every book has to have both player and GM info the GM loses. How can what took a dozen books of setting material from last edition be reduced to half a book in his one? Ok so they need players to buy books to? Then put out adventures that focus on the setting and not just provide dungeon crawls. Crawls are made easy to make in 4e.

The last thing is the GM should call the shots. I've had players come to me and point out a rule and argue with me because I said otherwise. They should NE guidelines. If I feel a magic item will take a week to create then it does. No matter i the ritual says its an hour or not. The GM should be able to say no at least as much as they should say yes.

All these things in 4e made it easy to turn it into a combat focused game. I hope that this will not be the case in 5e.
Personally, I think that the players who see 4E as "all about combat" are confusing that thought with, "requires visual combat representation".

Meaning that for the full 4E experience, to play the system as it was intended to be played by the designers, all combats require/heavily recommend using a map or grid, with miniatures.

That's just the nature of 4th Edition. But, it would be unfair to say 4E, alone, is the only offender.

The idea that AD&D needed more of a visual combat was presented with the Player Options (2.5) series of books, from the 2nd Edition era. These books were the precurser to 3.x which also took a slighty more involved direction with minis and map combat.

The culmination of this, happened when the R&D designers took that aspect along with aspects from modern day games (ie. video games/MMOs) and tried to design a system that would appeal to modern day games on the table. Take this and add in the various elements such as more tactical options, higher HP values, defenses, healing surges, etc. and before long you have a system where combat becomes very large part of the game visually.

Let's face it, you could play 4E without any visual aids, but would you really enjoy the system more than if you were using them? Status effects, pushing, pulling, sliding, etc., all of these things really take advantage of a map or grid system. Without one, it is kinda pointless as there are better editions/systems for playing without such things.

So, no 4E isn't "all about combat" but many aspects of it bring combat to the forefront in a manner that can be glaring to other players who are used to playing without visual aids. That, I think, is where there are major differences.
Personally, I think that the players who see 4E as "all about combat" are confusing that thought with, "requires visual combat representation".

Meaning that for the full 4E experience, to play the system as it was intended to be played by the designers, all combats require/heavily recommend using a map or grid, with miniatures.

That's just the nature of 4th Edition. But, it would be unfair to say 4E, alone, is the only offender.

The idea that AD&D needed more of a visual combat was presented with the Player Options (2.5) series of books, from the 2nd Edition era. These books were the precurser to 3.x which also took a slighty more involved direction with minis and map combat.

The culmination of this, happened when the R&D designers took that aspect along with aspects from modern day games (ie. video games/MMOs) and tried to design a system that would appeal to modern day games on the table. Take this and add in the various elements such as more tactical options, higher HP values, defenses, healing surges, etc. and before long you have a system where combat becomes very large part of the game visually.

Let's face it, you could play 4E without any visual aids, but would you really enjoy the system more than if you were using them? Status effects, pushing, pulling, sliding, etc., all of these things really take advantage of a map or grid system. Without one, it is kinda pointless as there are better editions/systems for playing without such things.

So, no 4E isn't "all about combat" but many aspects of it bring combat to the forefront in a manner that can be glaring to other players who are used to playing without visual aids. That, I think, is where there are major differences.




Honestly I like what you have to say.  I'm definitely one who does not like 4E.  Yet in this one description you've said more than most who have tried to make me see other wise.  In thi single post I see some other merit in the game.  My problem over with the game is just that I think. As along time player I've gotten set in my ways and certain things I don't like as a requirement for game enjoyment... I want them much more as options.  There were days that i would pull out my minis and terrain and set up an epic encounter of the adventure... it was great as well as time conusming  and my players loved it.  It was like the crescendo in your favorite piece of music.  I think that's one of the most irritaing aspects of 4E (for me) is that If there was no battle map or terrains something is lost in the game.  Moving forward I'd like to see 5E make this one of those options that doesn't detract from the game but only adds.  One of the best parts of D&D was that you could get a group of guys in a little one room aparatment  with a fold out card table.  Eveyone sat around the room and the card table was the place you rolled dice and that was it.  Long live D&D  
I agree Straduss1. And the whole shifting thing everytime you try to attack was irritating, and having to worry about spells/powers that pushed, pulled, and slid stuff around. 
Alignments are Fluid, meaning that they are based off of your actions, not your actions being based of the alignment.
I like a lot of the tactical options 4E provides and love the fact that each class can do something useful in combat starting at level 1, but I miss the days of accumulating cool, exclusive powers that were useful outside of combat. A buddy of mine who "hates" 4E admitted to me, after a long discussion, that this is what turned him away from the edition. It doesn't turn me away (I'm starting up a 4E game this week), but I do see it as a missed opportunity.
Probably what has happened here is the combat rules are so detailed - there taking up too much time. If you consider a brawl how long does it take ? Professional boxing match's last 6 rounds on average (18 min's ) so your trying to fit say one day into a 4 hour gaming sesh, currently not knowing the rules terribly well, all my 4th edition fights have lasted well over an hour, sometimes the whole session has been fighting. so how do you fit in the non role play stuff (23:42 mins) ?

To me a session (4 hours of play) ideally has to take into accounts all aspects of D&D that my co - players and I enjoy, granted 3 of us like combat best, 2 love role play best, 1 loves being a rule layer best. not a bad mix, but sadly in practice 4th edition only caters for 4 of them.

Its true you don't need rules to do everything. In 1st edition our players did own a pub, we didn't take any notice of the business side of it, we were too rich by killing dragons ect that we didn't care Laughing, but you sure don't want rules that prohibit other activities of gameplay by taking up too much of the available time.

Obvious culprits are - attacks of opportunity, calculating bonus's from powers, calculating position changers from powers (invoking more attacks of opportunity) calculating initiative, delaying / readying actions, interruptions, Extra actions though action points, extending combat via self healing (surges).

We could simplify these, we can have basic combat roles . ie, Healer, Tank, damager, buffer, distracter Tank stands in the way Damager either back stabs or slings spells - arrows Healer heals Buffer buffs Distracters - de buffs - interrupts Then only those basic roles have access to skills, ie only a tank can force movement, only a buffer forces a re - calculation to attack roles, only healers can give HP's, Only a damager can have attacks of opportunity. I don't think it would improve the game at all. The speed would still be slow n over complex, and players would feel there character only does one thing.

So I'm totally for a step backwards on combat, lets get it down to as few rolls on the dice as possible, I say move or attack, not move AND attack, get the in-combat calculations to a minimum, either Bonus are gained before combat, i.e. 1st Ed Strength (1 turn to cast). or very limited and not stacking. One of 3rd editions pit falls was making ranged combat ineffective against targets already in combat with over stacking rules on cover / concealment, so make sure indoor ranged attacks can occur.

Grappling has to be addressed, its being treated as a separate rule set within combat, this has an awful effect every time someone starts grappling, everyone reach's for the rule book. in RP situations when you don't want a character to flee, or Must stop him from burning a thatched roof with his torch, It shouldn't suddenly disrupt the gameplay for 10 minutes.

With this in mind, Id like to state Armor class should not take into account Armor. Yeah Nutz right ^^

No seriously, AC and THAC0 should not take into effect how much damage a player takes. HP's and Damage reduction should do this. SO wearing full plate Add's to your HP's (maybe parry / shield too).

This is one badly inherited trait 4th picked up from a legacy of 1st edition. So removing that, AC can be based on dex, movement rate, size, skill, misc magic things. Hence grapple - touch based magic skills no longer need separate rules to cover them, no messy "but how much of your AC is armor" or "% rolls".


Probably what has happened here is the combat rules are so detailed - there taking up too much time. If you consider a brawl how long does it take ? Professional boxing match's last 6 rounds on average (18 min's ) so your trying to fit say one day into a 4 hour gaming sesh, currently not knowing the rules terribly well, all my 4th edition fights have lasted well over an hour, sometimes the whole session has been fighting. so how do you fit in the non role play stuff (23:42 mins) ?

To me a session (4 hours of play) ideally has to take into accounts all aspects of D&D that my co - players and I enjoy, granted 3 of us like combat best, 2 love role play best, 1 loves being a rule layer best. not a bad mix, but sadly in practice 4th edition only caters for 4 of them.

Its true you don't need rules to do everything. In 1st edition our players did own a pub, we didn't take any notice of the business side of it, we were too rich by killing dragons ect that we didn't care Laughing, but you sure don't want rules that prohibit other activities of gameplay by taking up too much of the available time.

Obvious culprits are - attacks of opportunity, calculating bonus's from powers, calculating position changers from powers (invoking more attacks of opportunity) calculating initiative, delaying / readying actions, interruptions, Extra actions though action points, extending combat via self healing (surges).

We could simplify these, we can have basic combat roles . ie, Healer, Tank, damager, buffer, distracter Tank stands in the way Damager either back stabs or slings spells - arrows Healer heals Buffer buffs Distracters - de buffs - interrupts Then only those basic roles have access to skills, ie only a tank can force movement, only a buffer forces a re - calculation to attack roles, only healers can give HP's, Only a damager can have attacks of opportunity. I don't think it would improve the game at all. The speed would still be slow n over complex, and players would feel there character only does one thing.

So I'm totally for a step backwards on combat, lets get it down to as few rolls on the dice as possible, I say move or attack, not move AND attack, get the in-combat calculations to a minimum, either Bonus are gained before combat, i.e. 1st Ed Strength (1 turn to cast). or very limited and not stacking. One of 3rd editions pit falls was making ranged combat ineffective against targets already in combat with over stacking rules on cover / concealment, so make sure indoor ranged attacks can occur.

Grappling has to be addressed, its being treated as a separate rule set within combat, this has an awful effect every time someone starts grappling, everyone reach's for the rule book. in RP situations when you don't want a character to flee, or Must stop him from burning a thatched roof with his torch, It shouldn't suddenly disrupt the gameplay for 10 minutes.

With this in mind, Id like to state Armor class should not take into account Armor. Yeah Nutz right ^^

No seriously, AC and THAC0 should not take into effect how much damage a player takes. HP's and Damage reduction should do this. SO wearing full plate Add's to your HP's (maybe parry / shield too).

This is one badly inherited trait 4th picked up from a legacy of 1st edition. So removing that, AC can be based on dex, movement rate, size, skill, misc magic things. Hence grapple - touch based magic skills no longer need separate rules to cover them, no messy "but how much of your AC is armor" or "% rolls".



Re your example on how long a boxing match takes - well that is only one-on-one, and I suspect a battle between two creatures could usually be resolved pretty quickly in any edition.

I'm all for simplification, but move or attack won't work.  Imagine a fighter moving to contact with a monster, then watching in anguish as the critter moves away from him before he can get a swing in.  Again and again.

Attacks of opportunity - well I used to like the idea, but I would be perfectly happy to see the back of them in the name of speeding fights up.

I agree grappling has always been a weak point mechanically in the game.

Not sure how to take your suggestion on AC - that may just be a bridge too far for my liking.

Good post flyinghitcher, plenty to think about.

I'm all for simplification, but move or attack won't work.  Imagine a fighter moving to contact with a monster, then watching in anguish as the critter moves away from him before he can get a swing in.  Again and again.



I don't really see that much of an issue, in realty if one decides to flee, it is extremely hard to get hit  in melee. Normally you either run out of space, get tired, or get grappled, or get away :D

Glad you liked the post, n my boxing example does suck ^^


Edit, In 1st edition we played a free attack if a NPC / PC moved away from combat (may have been a house rule not sure), so that would ensure your grapple attempt could be made. 


Edit, In 1st edition we played a free attack if a NPC / PC moved away from combat (may have been a house rule not sure), so that would ensure your grapple attempt could be made. 

Yeah that might work, although it still leaves you with some sort of AoO mechanic - at least it's very simple to manage.


Edit, In 1st edition we played a free attack if a NPC / PC moved away from combat (may have been a house rule not sure), so that would ensure your grapple attempt could be made. 

Yeah that might work, although it still leaves you with some sort of AoO mechanic - at least it's very simple to manage.


Personally, I never had any issues with AoO, The AoO rules in 3.5 are simple in my mind, and they don't really take any extra time in my groups games. Maybe they overcomplicated it in 4E, I don't know. My experience is from 3.5. 
Alignments are Fluid, meaning that they are based off of your actions, not your actions being based of the alignment.


Edit, In 1st edition we played a free attack if a NPC / PC moved away from combat (may have been a house rule not sure), so that would ensure your grapple attempt could be made. 

Yeah that might work, although it still leaves you with some sort of AoO mechanic - at least it's very simple to manage.


Personally, I never had any issues with AoO, The AoO rules in 3.5 are simple in my mind, and they don't really take any extra time in my groups games. Maybe they overcomplicated it in 4E, I don't know. My experience is from 3.5. 



Only minor differences between 3.x and 4....  and I have no difficulty understanding either - it's just that the decision-making seems to slow down as players plot their move with an eye towards avoiding the odd punishing swipe.  Also - I dislike the meta-gaming around drawing out AoOs intentionally, so that others may move through the critter's area unmolested.  Good tactics, but takes away from the verisimiltude a little.
The idea that 4th ed is all about combat is due to the powers structure, and the nature of these powers.
Almost all powers directly affect combat. A lot of powers look alike. There are very few powers that do not deal with combat.
The only mechanics that aims almost exclusively outside combat are rituals, and the way these are structured it is discouraged to use them.
Combat therefore becomes important not only because it's where the xp comes from, but also since t is where players use their character powers - not 'using' those powers is then seen as a waste of time. 4th ed somehow makes combat feel 'more important' (even though it isn't).

Now, it is true that you do not need rules for roleplay. However, I see less people roleplaying their characters in 4th ed than in previous editions. It may be the new generation of players, but I do think the nature of the game (including the effect mentioned above) affects it as well.
I.e., in 3rd ed you could have a craft skill. Silly, perhaps, but for some reason having that skill meant a player was encouraged to involve that craft in play. In 4th ed, you can simply say 'I am a blacksmith'. But few do, and fewer still then use it in play.
Also, in 4th ed wizards and clerics could get creative with non-combat spells. It is a niche element, but the ability to turn oneself invisible, to dig a pit, to charm someone or to knock a door with a quick spell worked in the older editions to open up alternate routes over combat. Having to use a ritual or skill challenge in 4thed makes that a bit of a hurdle.
In addition, I notice that DMs tend to ignore rituals (likely due to the power-to-combat effect above). I.e. I once used Animal Messenger to deliver a message of parlay to an enemy from afar. It was ignored. Combat still ensued. I have the feeling that in 2nd or 3rd edition the DM migth have been encouraged to use more options, because combat was not seen as mandatory.

I don;t know whether a 5th ed should have more non-combat options.
I think optional skills (such as Craft), and a Vancian spellcatsing system for rituals would help to expand the posibilities for players deal with situations or to involve themself with non-combat encounters.
Wat would work best though is, imo, a way to give powers less a 'have to spend today' feel.

Gomez


I.e., in 3rd ed you could have a craft skill. Silly, perhaps, but for some reason having that skill meant a player was encouraged to involve that craft in play.



That is true, and so is the creative use's of spells, those are very sadly missing in my 4th Ed sesh's Frown
There are things outside of combat that require rules. Like "can I convince this ogre that he and his buddies should let us pass" or "Can I climb that wall." Now social interaction includes roleplaying, but it does need rules to adjucate. There's not really any reason that combat should require that many more rules than out of combat, or at least not all of combat things. Furthermore, 4e classes have long list of combat powers, but very little abilities they can use out of combat.



4E has everything you need for adjudication outside of combat. In your example you can use diplomacy or intimidation. That's two separate ways to go about it that can also handle a myriad of other social interactions. Combat is where more rules are needed because in order for the game to work combat needs those rules and strictures to be tighter.

There are things outside of combat that require rules. Like "can I convince this ogre that he and his buddies should let us pass" or "Can I climb that wall." Now social interaction includes roleplaying, but it does need rules to adjucate. There's not really any reason that combat should require that many more rules than out of combat, or at least not all of combat things. Furthermore, 4e classes have long list of combat powers, but very little abilities they can use out of combat.



4E has everything you need for adjudication outside of combat. In your example you can use diplomacy or intimidation. That's two separate ways to go about it that can also handle a myriad of other social interactions.



Bluff you forgot lying your teeth off, the classic messing with the monster from greek myth was a bluff
 explain how you are a toy for the princess of Ogres or the goddess who created Ogres (monster knowledge checks come in handy) and that if he breaks her toy she and the entire family will be annoyed..
 
  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."

 

Great point! Bluff would also work.

I remember debating about creating an ardent and her style of power where the flavour text indicated that this class can *feel* emotions from other beings and also *sends* her own towards them. I definitely wanted to play her that way, but I wasn't allowed because "it wasn't covered by the rules". Yeah, the rules which gave my beloved class some combat or skill modifiers and nothing else besides that.

I know that you can houserule all that stuff and that a DM may give each PC some little tricks for his own. But unless you cover that up it is completely up to your DM and if you happen to have a stringent one you'll have your flavour in combat and not much else.

And please let us not have to choose between combat and noncombat feats. We all know that each of us feels forced to take the crunchy ones...



I felt the EXACT same thing the first time I red the Ardent class section. After being inspired by this aspect of the ardent, I went ahead and tried to find mechanics that would emulate that, and all I got was a bunch of powers that had absolutely no non-combat effects and some healing features..

Yeah 4e was definitively not heavily combat-focused.

Of course, I should have used Arcana to represent this flavor aspect, why did I not think of it! After all the skill system can cover absolutely everything, even when this thing is magic or psionic in nature!!

 Insight is how you figure out the immediate motivations of beings ... (The psionics classes were never the less design failures - I can build a better psion using the Wizard)
  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."

 

I think there's some important distinctions to make here. 4e has rules for non-combat events. What it doesn't have is the "I wave my hands and win the non-combat scene" spells and abilities. Having things like Detect Lie or Know Alignment weren't support for non-combat encounters, they were ways to handwave your way through them.

I also find it funny (this isn't directed at the OP, just a general observation about some of the 4e bashers) that people will say "I had plenty of fun making basic attacks with the fighter, you're just not being imaginative enough" but then turn around and say "4e is all combat because I can't write underwater basketweaving +8 on my character sheet".
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
I think that the crux of the problem here is this sentiment:

"I should have character options for interacting with the world outside of combat"

Combined with a feeling that 4e's powers have not provided the same.  Though I admit to seeing very little of 4e personally, I have not seen a great opposition to this feeling.  Instead, sides choose to talk cross purposes.  one will say "I don't have powers that do out of combat things" and the other replies "Look at these skills!"

It's a matter of perception, in part, and scale in others.  Perception comes in that I have yet to hear a 4e supporter name noncombat powers, and 4e defiers look upon powers as the core of a character.  So if the core is nothing byt combat effects, who cares about these little skill things on the side?  there's a perception that they aren't important, or at least aren't as important as powers.

And then there's scale.  People have made the unwise choice of making blaknet statments like "4e is all nothing but combat".  Others latch on to this false absolutism and refuse to see that the speaker might possess a legitimate grief that ought not be blanket invalidated by hyperbole.

Myself, I agree with the poster who said that D&D is a game with three parts: Combat, Role Playing, and Exploration.  I furthermore agree that two of these three items seem to have been neglected by the core RAW of 4e.  In my few experiences with the edition, it is what I have seen, and ancedotal evidence given to the contrary has not been set in direct opposition, but in a direction as to deflect the criticism and attack the absolute terms that are all too often used in error

So, if I want tools for exploration and role playing, what do those entail?

For roleplaying, the answer is simple: I need a framework that allows my character, who stands head and shoulders above me when it comes to matters of persuasion, to not be dragged down by my personal ineptness.  I do not have 18 Charisma.  I do not have a silver tongue.  When my character with 18 strength attempts to strike a foe, I am not expected to smash a brick in order to defeat this foe in effigy to determine success, neither should it be expected that the success or failure of the 18 charisma, silver tongued character be solely dependant on how persuasive I, the player, can be.  Perhaps I can dictate the tenor of my bard's speech, the line of reasoning by which he would seek to convince his foe.  I can even do my best bard voice and say a few words, a proxy for what the elloquent and sly character might say.  But, at the end of the day, I roll a die or two to see if he pulled it off.

And, skills work for that.  But, as is the matter of perception, skills are rather understated.  They are not the first things that players (or gamers doing an evaluation) look towards in order to determine if something is there, supported.  in 3e, they looked at feats and spells, and there were feats and spells that supported the skill system, or provided new ways to enhance or use their skills.  In 4e, we'd be looking for something like this

Fast Talk - All Social 1
Your rapid and energetic speech baffles the dim-witted, placing them in a suggestable state
Encounter - No Source, Social, Non-combat
Standard Action, Range: Hearing.
Cha vs. Will
Target: One creature capable of understanding your language.
Effect: Immediatley make an attempt to bluff the target at a +4 bonus.
Miss: Your target shakes off your attempt to bamboozle them, realizing somethign is up -- make all further bluff checks against the target this encounter at a -2 penalty.

Is it balanced or good design?  Probably not, but I made this up with limited knowledge of 4e over the span of about five minutes -- it could no doubt be refined by going through the same development process as any other power would.  If there were five or ten such options, it would certainly start to feel like support.


Now what about exploration?  How should exploration be supported?
Exploration was at first a trickier subject than Role Playing.  There seems to be a gemeral concensus that when mechanics and role playing meet, it's when a character is attempting more or less hostile negotiations; ie, not simply chatting with a friendly npc, but trying to get or convince.
Then, I looked at what I considered to be support for exploration in previous editions.  There are skills here too, of course, but there were also a plethora of spells -- Move Earth, (overland) Fly, Passwall, Water Breathing, Mount, and even Disintegrate can support exploration (though the last is also HIGHLY useful in combat).  by this, I reached the conclusion
Support for exploration comes in the form of powers or abilities that allow players to alter the rate and method in which they move, or that alter the terrain potentially opening new passages.
Again, I don't think that you need MANY powers in this direction, and unlike "Roleplaying" or "Social" abilities, exploration is not nearly as often discussed.  So perhaps they are there -- I haven't heard of them, but at the moment I'll just leave this little footnote.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

There were certain things removed from dnd that to me show that 4e is a better tactical game than roleplaying game. These were all on the gm side of the screen.



Groovy, I'm a GM.

The first was lack of region/climate tables for monsters. 4e is designed so a gm can look up a level of monsters, pick something around the level of the pcs and go. Great for making an encounter but it circumvents story building. If the players are in a forest, then there should be an easy to use list of monsters that work great in a forest encounter. DDI would work like a charm for this since the monster manual will continue to increase in size.



Um. Why do you want to be restricted as to what monsters you can put in a forest? Hell, its your world and your game, and who's to say that polar bears (or polar bears reskinned to be black bears) aren't in forests? I see having these lists as something that inhibits storybuilding, 'cause I don't need the book to tell me what should be in the forest, I can pick and choose what I want to be there.

Next is lack of Most Common Alignment.



Why do you even need to worry about alignment as a DM? If a Good Gold Dragon is manipulated into fighting (or opposing) the PCs for story reasons....why does the DM care if its good? Again, not being straightjacketed by "Most Common..." means I can pick and choose what I want to be there.

The monster entries should not only provide a fun challenge in combat but educate the GM in how to add them to the story.



This I can agree with.

The next thing I want to talk about is world building...There needs to be useful information about cities, laws of the lands, structure building. What if the PCs want to buy a tavern? What kind of profit is in in that? What if they want to build a castle? How would local lords feel about that?



There was a DDI article about stronghold building. But, as to the PCs buying a tavern and the profit they get....they can probably make a lot more money from adventuring. So much that the income from the tavern may be inconsequential. But, if you want....then every level, one of their treasure parcels comes from the tavern. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather not be an accountant.

Putting magic items in the players handbook and telling GMs that whatever they look for they should find at the store is not a good story practice.



That's a serious quibble, man. Having magic items in the PHB, and later in the AVs and Emporium, means I can tell the players to select things that they want for their characters so that the players get what they want (and not some useless items, or items they don't care about), and I can put the items in the story when I want to. Quite literally, everybody wins. Also, I don't have to take time or effort rummaging through the books to figure out what treasure to award them. Instead, I can spend that time and effort plotting.

Also in this category is the lack of useful setting material and adventures. When every book has to have both player and GM info the GM loses.



Umm. What books have both player and GM info for the setting? Because the 4e Eberron Campaign Guide has all the DM stuff (and it rules), whereas the 4e Eberron Player's Guide has all the stuff for the players. The Realms got a similar treatment.

Now, if you're complaining about the limited setting release, then I'm right there with you. I wasn't a fan of "Player's Guide, Setting Guide, Adventure, DONE!" for settings. Also, the adventures that WotC has released are kinda meh.

The last thing is the GM should call the shots. I've had players come to me and point out a rule and argue with me because I said otherwise.



That sounds like a problem with your players, and not with the system. My players accept that my ruling is law.

All these things in 4e made it easy to turn it into a combat focused game.



Sadly, I'm not seeing how 4e is a combat-focused game. Of course, next Monday will mark the third consecutive non-combat session of my campaign, so my reality may be different from yours.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.