Are there really 3 pillars?

I keep hearing this "3 pillars" talk. Now, I haven't really read up on it and would appreciate a link, but even so. When I first heard this concept, I wondered what a mystery-solving adventure was. It isn't social, exploration or combat. I'm worried that if there are only 3 pillars than every peg has to be hammered through one of those holes.

Here's the I see it. Characters interact with:
People
Things
Places
Themselves
Monsters (i.e. violence)

Does all of that fit within 3 pillars? 
I would probably rename the second pillar 'discovery', but your average mystery involves a mix of 'find things' and 'talk to people'.
Quoting Wrecan (because I think he had this right): Combat, Exploration, Exposition, Interlude, Socialization, Travel.

Combat is of course a pillar. Socialization is a pillar. Exploration is a pillar, and it is different from Travel in my opinion because of scope, atmosphere and situations the two entail are different. Exposition is a pillar, although it might look like a mix of socialization and exploration; but I usually have exposition-heavy campaigns while exploration is limited (we don't like dungeons) and socialization is only part of exposition. Interlude is a pillar, but it is also one that is usually ignored (and with a reason). 
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
There are as many pillars as you feel like designing for. 

1 pillar- chess. All combat. Very little rp support. 
2 pillars - 4e. Either combat or skill challenges.
3 pillars- 5e exploration( skills?), combat (fighting?), social (diplomacy minigame?)
4 pillars- exploration, combat, social, estate planning/castle building?
5 pillars-  your idea
6 pillars- wrecans idea 

5e chose three, and hopefully it works. I honestly think dnd should really only have 2 or 3, and one of them has to be combat.

Having a pillar means the game should focus equally on  that aspect. 

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I keep hearing this "3 pillars" talk. Now, I haven't really read up on it and would appreciate a link, but even so. When I first heard this concept, I wondered what a mystery-solving adventure was. It isn't social, exploration or combat. I'm worried that if there are only 3 pillars than every peg has to be hammered through one of those holes.

Here's the I see it. Characters interact with:
People
Things
Places
Themselves
Monsters (i.e. violence)

Does all of that fit within 3 pillars? 



I'd say it does.

People - Socialization 
Things - Exploration 
Places - Exploration 
Themselves - Socialization 
Monsters - Combat 
Solving a mystery requires investigation.  Investigation is a synonym for exploration.
I've given this even more thought and come to a different conclusion. In 5E, are we going to see a set of mechanics for combat, a second set of mechanics of social and a third set of mechanics for exploration? If we see mechanics for combat (even if used out of combat) and mechanics for non-combat (even if used in combat) then there are 2 pillars no matter how you allocate the bits and bobs to one mechanic or the other.
See I don't like the idea of Role-playing as a pillar.  I guess it would depend on what they mean by it as a pillar.  I guess I don't see it being seperate from the other parts of the game, role-playing exists in both combat and exploration.  
Nobody has said roleplaying is a pillar.

Mike Mearls'  three pillars are: combat, socilaization, and exploration.
I agree with those three pillars, but also identified three other components of D&D: exposition, interludes, and travel.  I wouldn't say these three are "pillars".  They are merely supports.  I do think they should be considered when exploring a system, however.

But roleplaying can happen during any of these six areas.     
Nobody has said roleplaying is a pillar.

Mike Mearls'  three pillars are: combat, socilaization, and exploration.
I agree with those three pillars, but also identified three other components of D&D: exposition, interludes, and travel.  I wouldn't say these three are "pillars".  They are merely supports.  I do think they should be considered when exploring a system, however.     


What is a pillar, other than a fancy support?
I'm not convinced pillars are a good way to look at factoring the game design. I think a more useful factoring would involve the approach that a character takes to problem solving:

1) forceful/direct
2) deceitful
3) indirect
4) logical
5) intuitive

Something like that. These cut across all types of scenarios the party will encounter. By constructing a character in a way that focuses on their approach to solving problems you both create a coherent character concept and personality, and you insure that there are relevant things for a character to do in the various types of scenarios.

Thus for example a forceful direct character might leap into battle, intimidate opponents, and overcome obstacles directly. A deceitful character might ambush enemies, lie to opponents or bluff them, and will treat obstacles with suspicion and doubt. An indirect character might defeat opponents by manipulation or strategy, use subtle means to achieve his ends, and overcome obstacles by going around them, etc.

While there is not a strong unifying mechanic to these approaches in different situations there are certainly typical clusters of capabilities that each type of character is likely to find more useful and which reinforces their problem solving approach. A forceful character is likely going to have a penchant for physical solutions. He's likely to want to be strong, durable, capable of dealing good damage in a fight, able to climb a cliff, stare down an orc chief, etc. His abilities will cluster around being a tough guy at a basic level and his stats, class features, and other options can easily be built around this theme.

You can also play counter to the natural tendencies of your archetype as well. A fighter could be a deceitful back alley thug, a guy who's deadly but prefers to lull his enemy into complacence or attack from ambush. He might use less conspicuous weapons and wear lighter armor, but have some tricks up his sleeve. He's still better in a straight-up fight than a rogue and he's not a guy that knows how to disarm a trap, but he might well be a guy who questions NPC motives and cleverly sets up tests to find out what they're really up to.

Likewise you could be a forceful direct sort of rogue that is highly physical, climbs like a monkey, pushes people hard in a social situation and doesn't play around, and when he fights he's focusing more on quick beatdown than cunning, but being a rogue is something of a 'glass cannon'.

This seems like a better way to think about the whole concept of differences between PCs and between classes. It avoids ugly questions about what sort of balance you have in different situations for one thing. Instead of "rogue is crap in a fight" as a built-in invariant of that class instead you can have rogues that can run in and hit hard but don't last long, rogues that sneak in and backstab, rogues that get the enemy to move next to the cliff and push them off, rogues that use logical thinking to construct a complex strategy and plan ahead a lot, and rogues that operate on instinct and seem to just do the 'right thing' at the right moment.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
My break down of it from a Roll Player perspective:

Combat - I use my BAB or Abilities to attack something. ie Magic Missle/Sly Flourish/Smite Evil versus Enemy
Social - I use my Social Skills to talk to an NPC. ie Diplomacy/Intimidate/Bluff/Roleplaying versus NPC
Exploration - I use my skills to navigate an obstacle. ie Perception verus Hidden Wall, Acrobatics versus falling.

Outside of that, you have the exposition, interlude, and travel that Wrecan and other mentioned.

But I feel there is also a puzzle pillar if you DM likes that type of stuff, because usually a puzzle doesn't involve stats, but player ingenuity. It might fall under exploration but I feel there is something different when your DM gives you a room with two statues that can answer questions and two doors.
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Nobody has said roleplaying is a pillar.

Mike Mearls'  three pillars are: combat, socilaization, and exploration.
I agree with those three pillars, but also identified three other components of D&D: exposition, interludes, and travel.  I wouldn't say these three are "pillars".  They are merely supports.  I do think they should be considered when exploring a system, however.     


What is a pillar, other than a fancy support?

In this context, it is a way to justify to themselves and, by proxy, to the customer base the decision to make some characters less effective in some areas of the game by design intent. By saying that social, exploration and combat are equal facets of a character they get the justification for making things lopsided.
What is a pillar, other than a fancy support?


There are two basic means of doing spotlight balance: make sure that every character is effective in every scene, or make sure that every character is effective in some sort of scene, and that the sort of scene they're effective in is sufficiently common. Both methods have their problems, as the first can produce artificial, unnatural characters (if you want to play the dumb ugly brute, or the shy scholar who can't fight his way out of a paper bag, the game system refuses), and the second can produce somewhat artificial, unnatural adventures (why exactly are you having social situations in the Tomb of Acerak, or fights while visiting the Temple of Peace), but it's generally better than no balance at all. The three pillars are a method of doing the second sort of balancing, and are mostly an assertion that the average adventure is expected to be split roughly evenly between the three, and thus Good in one type should be offset by Poor in another type, Excellent in one type should be offset by Poor in the other two types.
What is a pillar, other than a fancy support?


There are two basic means of doing spotlight balance: make sure that every character is effective in every scene, or make sure that every character is effective in some sort of scene, and that the sort of scene they're effective in is sufficiently common. Both methods have their problems, as the first can produce artificial, unnatural characters (if you want to play the dumb ugly brute, or the shy scholar who can't fight his way out of a paper bag, the game system refuses), and the second can produce somewhat artificial, unnatural adventures (why exactly are you having social situations in the Tomb of Acerak, or fights while visiting the Temple of Peace), but it's generally better than no balance at all. The three pillars are a method of doing the second sort of balancing, and are mostly an assertion that the average adventure is expected to be split roughly evenly between the three, and thus Good in one type should be offset by Poor in another type, Excellent in one type should be offset by Poor in the other two types.

There is another problem with the 'spotlight' balance concept, which is that you are pigeonholing types of character. If rogues are weak in combat then ALL rogues are weak in combat, period. Maybe you can toss every possible bonus into that, assuming you even use any customization options, but at best you end up mediocre and thus won't really end up very likely to be able to pull the big move in the next fight.

It is just plain better to allow for any type of PC to have some way of being able to find a way to contribute in a key way and play the central part in any of the 'pillars' under reasonably likely circumstances. This doesn't require the system to forbid the 'dumb ugly brute' or the 'shy scholar' at all. It simply requires that the system easily allows for the dumb ugly brute to have the tools that let him use his dumb ugliness or his other talents in a social situation one out of every 4 or 5 times it comes up. That way the dumb brute's player has an incentive to instead of zoning out of anything social to instead work out a plan by which his character's strengths come into play in that situation.

On top of that of course are the other advantages you've already outlined, adventures are much more straightforward to design and are much more organic and less contrived. If the DM wants to have fights in the Temple of Peace he still CAN. The system should provide a fairly rich set of ways that the players can acquire information that lets them plan ahead and set up a way to hit that challenge. A clever DM will be able to make a set of interested combat encounters such that the players have the tools to potentially let any character play the big hero. In the long run you end up with greater variety because either every sort of character is useful in most games and they can come up with a wider variety of creative solutions to problems.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I think a more useful factoring would involve the approach that a character takes to problem solving:

1) forceful/direct
2) deceitful
3) indirect
4) logical
5) intuitive


You mean 1) Strength/Constitution, 2) Charisma, 3) Dexterity, 4) Intelligence, and  5) Wisdom?

What is a pillar, other than a fancy support?



Ignoring the sarcasm and snark of people who simply didn't like something mearls said at D&D XP, a pillar is just a way to describe the categories of activities in which adventurers engage.  Adventurers fight.  Adventurers interact with NPCs.  Adventurers explore mysterious locales.  In my opinion, adventurers also train and shop.  Adventurers also research and investigate.  Adventurers also travel from town to adventure and vice versa.


It doesn't mean that that players are going to be forced to choose to specialize in one pillar at the expense of another.  It only means that the designers are going to consider more than just combat effectiveness, like I advocated more than a year and a half ago.   We'll have to see how this gets implemented, but right now I am cautiously optimistic.

And as a disclaimer, I love 4e, and think it's the best edition to date.  
It doesn't mean that that players are going to be forced to choose to specialize in one pillar at the expense of another.


But that's exactly what it sounds like when they say things like one class might be 80/20 at combat and exploration while another class is 33/33/33 at combat/exploration/social and one might even be 100% combat.
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I think a more useful factoring would involve the approach that a character takes to problem solving:

1) forceful/direct
2) deceitful
3) indirect
4) logical
5) intuitive


You mean 1) Strength/Constitution, 2) Charisma, 3) Dexterity, 4) Intelligence, and  5) Wisdom?



The point is that considering how different types of characters approach all the various situations they encounter and how they can use their strengths in all of them is a more holistic approach than dividing the game down into activities and then thinking about how each CLASS will work in each one. While the later can be an easy way to make fairly cut out archetypes like the strong barbarian that kills stuff it isn't so good a way to think about how you can make really nice individual characters that approach their archetypes in different ways. In the former case the barbarian is going to be built around a fairly stock set of ability scores, etc. This is a trap 4e fell into in a bit different way, but with the same ultimate result. The cunning fighter that lives as much by his wits as by his sword is more possible when you parse things in terms of, as you have pointed out, ability scores vs activities.


That is not dead which may eternal lie
It doesn't mean that that players are going to be forced to choose to specialize in one pillar at the expense of another.


But that's exactly what it sounds like when they say things like one class might be 80/20 at combat and exploration while another class is 33/33/33 at combat/exploration/social and one might even be 100% combat.



And that's where people go all haywire.  They say a player can choose to focus on combat and the boards go into a frenzy about how a class will be forced to be 100% combat.  It's almost as if people are looking for confirmation of what they fear, rather than being open-minded.  Weird... it's almost as if this were the internet or something.
The point is that considering how different types of characters approach all the various situations they encounter and how they can use their strengths in all of them is a more holistic approach than dividing the game down into activities and then thinking about how each CLASS will work in each one.


Except the designers didn't say that.  They specifically reference skills, and themes, and other mechanics being used to customize your character.  In fact, they seem to say the exact opposit of what you fear.  They talk about abilities being of primary importance (just as your approaches map to abilities) and you can use classes, feats, skills,and themes to concentrate on areas that interest you.

Weird.  It's almost as if they are agreeing with you, and yet your responses seem to indicate they aren't.
I don't see where designing classes to fit the niches of pillars fits the goal of "modular" design. To me, modular class design means this: The game has three pillars. When you create your character, choose one module from the Combat pillar, one module from the Social pillar, and one module from the Exploration pillar. Now, perhaps each class has its own subset of modules. For example, suppose a wizard can choose a "scholarly" package vs "adventurous" for the Exploration module, or whatever.    

I want to be given packages from which I can create whatever custom content I need, whether it's my character (as a player) or some magical weapon (as a DM). The goal of D&D Next is to meet the needs of all D&D gamers with this modular design; but if the designers make irrevocable choices for the gamers, then why all the hoopla over playtesting and gamer choice?
I don't see where designing classes to fit the niches of pillars fits the goal of "modular" design.


It's trditional design with modular customization.

The base classes are supposed to represent traditional D&D, with the modules being available for people to break from that mold and design the character they want.  In other words, a traditional default with tools available to modulate the character you want.

At least, that's what I get when I review the DDXP transcripts.  I have no idea what the rest of you are reading.
The more I think about it, the more I think the so-called "balanced player" gets screwed. Four people at a game. Three people make characters that are 60/20/20, each focused on a different pillar. The fourth guy makes the 33/33/33 character. So in EVERY situation another character is almost twice as good as he is. That is NOT balance.

Given some more information on the design, I am still convinced a 2-class system would work great. Combat and non-combat. You can see that, without any specific skills at all, there is no functional distinction between social and exploration. Given everyone a 100% combat character, or at least the option, that goes along with their roleplaying/skill choice. There might be some hope in their stated race + class + theme setup, so maybe.

Thought experiment. Consider this decision making tree: Would you want to make a character where what you do outside of combat is more important in your character concept than what you do inside combat, yes or no? If no, would you see D&D as the game to represent that? If the answer to the first question is yes, would you want your character places more importance out of combat to be suboptimal in combat? If yes, would you see D&D as the game to represent that? If no, would you see D&D as the game to represent that.

For the array of answers, I don't see D&D as the game to play if you want characters that are great out of combat and poor in combat. That's another game. Remember what the two D's stand for, Dungeons and Dragons. I love a complex, story-driven game with lots of character development and less than the standard number of combats. But when it's time to put on your big-boy pants I want to see equivalency in the entire group. 
The point is that considering how different types of characters approach all the various situations they encounter and how they can use their strengths in all of them is a more holistic approach than dividing the game down into activities and then thinking about how each CLASS will work in each one.


Except the designers didn't say that.  They specifically reference skills, and themes, and other mechanics being used to customize your character.  In fact, they seem to say the exact opposit of what you fear.  They talk about abilities being of primary importance (just as your approaches map to abilities) and you can use classes, feats, skills,and themes to concentrate on areas that interest you.

Weird.  It's almost as if they are agreeing with you, and yet your responses seem to indicate they aren't.

Obviously we'll get somewhat different things out of what we read. I'm not hurling poo at any developers though. Just analyzing their own analysis of the game. Its also hard to say exactly how well people's thinking gets articulated. There are simply downsides to thinking about things in only one way. So far they've talked about things mostly in terms of those 3 pillars and IMHO it would be a good idea for them to parse the game in a different way and look at that. Not to the exclusion of anything else, just as another method of analysis that may produce a really valuable result.

As for what they're actually doing with the existing design, well, gosh, NDAs and all. Why all the fear of criticism? I read the commentary, but I could really care less about that, its printed rules on the page that show what that commentary actually translates into.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Why all the fear of criticism?


I don't fear criticism.  (It's not my system getting criticized and I know no more about that it than you do.)  I'm not crazy about reading incomprehension and conclusion-leaping, though.
The more I think about it, the more I think the so-called "balanced player" gets screwed. Four people at a game. Three people make characters that are 60/20/20, each focused on a different pillar. The fourth guy makes the 33/33/33 character. So in EVERY situation another character is almost twice as good as he is. That is NOT balance.


The person whose character is 60% built for socialization is not necessarily twice as good as the character 30% built for socialization.  The percentages when originally used were representing character options.  Just because you have twice the options does not mean you're twice as good.  If all the options are equally effective, you can have a character who is more versatile without being better at it. 

In other words, there is a breadth of options that doesn't necessarily translate to a depth of options.  Someone who is more interested in combat is going to want to have more choices -- even if all the choices are equally effective -- than someone who is content to cast Acid Orb all day every day because he's more interested in exploration.

It seems to me the idea behind specialization is not to make the specialist a solo in that area, but to give him the options he wants in that area without forcing him to also become a specialist and waste character building time, choosing options for areas he doesn't care about.

The person who cares about everything will have to make a choice.  He's not going to have as many options in one pillar as the guy who cares about only that pillar.  But he'll have more options in each pillar than the people who don't care about that pillar.

As long as each of the options are equal in effectiveness -- and as long as there are enough ways to differentiate characters within a pillar so no character can dominate all possibilities of one pillar, it shouldn't be a problem.  For instance, it's fine for a fighter to have twelve different maneuvers if they all relate to him being a defender.  He's not going to step on the toes of the leader, even if that leader is spamming bolstering strike every round.

Similarly, it's okay for someone to have twelve different social manuevers, if they all relate to him being, say, a "dapper dan" (a role I just invented for socialization) as long as it doesn't step on the guy who is the "poker faced pete" and can read other people's tells with uncanny accuracy (but is basically his only social ability).

Combat and non-combat. You can see that, without any specific skills at all, there is no functional distinction between social and exploration.


No way.  Socialization and exploration are miles apart.  And the problem in D&D has always been that socialization always comes down to the dude with the best Charisma check (and the ocassional Wisdom check to see through a bluff). 

Socialization needs its own system.  Desperately.  Otherwise you'll end up with a party face who gets to roleplay exclusively with the DM while everyone gets to play "audience".
If a player doesn't care about being able to talk and just wants to fight, that's fine, they can not care, but the system needs to care.


The problem comes from forcing people to need to care.  If I don't care about combat and the game is making me choose combat options that I don't want to have to select but feel I need in order to meet party expectations, it conveys a feeling that I'm wasting my time.  And that is a bad quality for a game system to have.

Again, the assumption in the argument is that more options means more mechanically effective, which isn't necessarily true.  The key is to maintain individual differentiation.  As long as my controller is effective in his role, I don't care that the leader has twelve options to be an effective leader even if I only have one, because I used my other 11 options to be an effective spelunker and a social shmoozer and he did not.

The problem only develops if the leader is so effective that he is effectively a controller as well as a leader or renders my control superfluous.  Similarly, my spelunking options are only problematic if they impinge on or render superfluous the exploration roles that the other players choose for their characters.

A character cannot be expected to trade combat effectiveness for, say, wilderness tracking capability


All that means is that tracking is an overly narrow exploration role.  In the same way that "undead killer" is an overly narrow combat role.  If I'm trading social effectiveness to kill more undead then it only works if the DM sends undead at us.

This means every character needs to be comparably (though differently) effective in the combat and various non-combat scenarios, with non-competing resources for choosing niches within them.


That does not follow from what you wrote.  What follows from what you wrote is that each role within a pillar needs to be broad enough that it doesn't require the DM to specially craft encounters for that role.  Striker is a good combat role.  Killer-of-undead is not.

"Accomplished liar" is probably a good social role.  "Knows how to speak ettin" is probably not.

The person whose character is 60% built for socialization is not necessarily twice as good as the character 30% built for socialization.  The percentages when originally used were representing character options.  Just because you have twice the options does not mean you're twice as good.  If all the options are equally effective, you can have a character who is more versatile without being better at it. 


For all my bitching and moaning, if that is the actual plan then I have no problem. I've been attacking the problem as a situation of accomplishing more. But if all we're talking about is number of options with more or less the same chance to be effective, great. I suddenly have no problems and get back to making my Dwarven Rogue Diplomat. He's like 003.5.

EDIT: To say that if we really are simply talking about number of options, this actually dissuades 1-dimensional characters. I mean, just how many ways do you really need for murder? 
To say that if we really are simply talking about number of options, this actually dissuades 1-dimensional characters. I mean, just how many ways do you really need for murder? 


Well, if you really enjoy combat, there can be lots of ways.  Maybe you want to gorrotte a guy, or stab him, or rip out his throat.  As long as they are all viable ways to accomplish it, they can have slightly different means of getting there.  Someone who wants different things to do in combat will want a lot of different attacks.  but some people don't want it.  They're perfectly happy casting Eldritch Blast every round, as long as it's effective.

In the same token, just how many ways do you need to convince someone to do something?  Someone who doesn't care about social options may only need "Diplomacy Check".  But someone who wants more options may want options for flattering someone, intimidating someone, bribing someone, instilling guilt, inspiring them, and many other options.

In the end, it seems like the options exist to help you actualize what you envision for your character.  If you didn't give much though to what your character does in combat, but you know exactly how he seduces barwenches and flatters nobles, you probaby only need a few combat options and many social ones.  If you think of your character as a wallflower who cuts through swaths of orcs with your axe, you probably need few social options and lots of combat ones.

If you think of your PC as someone who can do everything awesomely all the time, you probably have to tone down your expectations.
RETYPE. Forum ate my post.

Right, right. But if a combat only lasts 5 rounds then you'll only get to use a maximum of 5 options in that encounter. BTW, when I say murder all I mean is that PCs are generally, shall we say, not very squeamish when it comes to stabbing goblins in the eppiglottis. I don't think I would invite them to dinner. So, anyway, this leads to a strange new beast for D&D. For the min-maxers, they need to make sure they DON'T put everything into combat. If most choices don't lead to more damage but more options, then you need to maximize the amount of options per situation.

This all assumes quite a bit about what the game might be. This is just working on the theory that the optimization they are talking about in 5E design is not optimization of damage per second. 

EDIT: How do my posts always wind up starting a new page? Not doing it on purpose!
when I say murder all I mean is that PCs are generally, shall we say, not very squeamish when it comes to stabbing goblins in the eppiglottis. I don't think I would invite them to dinner.


If your game is all combat, then nobody should put any effort into any options but combat, obviously.  I think knowing your DM is going to be a bit more important in this edition, mainly because your DM will be choosign his own DM modules to determine what his campaign is.

So if your DM says he's using the tactical combat, hardcore resurrection rules, and 3-D Combat modules, you probably understand it's a lot of combat, while the DM who says he's using the Kingmaker, Cloak-and-Dagger, and Social Status modules probably needs players hwo want to concentrate on socialization.

As a DM, I will probably tailor the campaign to the players.  If my group wants to kill, kill, kill, I'll probably stick to combat.  But a lot of my players enjoy social encounters and other enjoy traps and puzzles.  So I'll probably mix it up.
For the min-maxers, they need to make sure they DON'T put everything into combat. If most choices don't lead to more damage but more options, then you need to maximize the amount of options per situation.


I think min-maxers may have it tough.  I think, like most min-maxers, they will concentrate on combat efficacy and ignore the other pillars.
As a DM, I will probably tailor the campaign to the players.  If my group wants to kill, kill, kill, I'll probably stick to combat.  But a lot of my players enjoy social encounters and other enjoy traps and puzzles.  So I'll probably mix it up.


Hah! I wish I had it so easy! My players, all 6 of them, pretty much show up and wait for me to entertain them. It takes real effort to get some of them to participate, even though they all at least claim to really enjoy the game. Maybe, just maybe, an open skill system will lure them in. I personally want to run with highest level of comlexity, all switches thrown. But if my players want quick and simple, I'll give them that.

A character cannot be expected to trade combat effectiveness for, say, wilderness tracking capability


All that means is that tracking is an overly narrow exploration role.  In the same way that "undead killer" is an overly narrow combat role.  If I'm trading social effectiveness to kill more undead then it only works if the DM sends undead at us.

This means every character needs to be comparably (though differently) effective in the combat and various non-combat scenarios, with non-competing resources for choosing niches within them.


That does not follow from what you wrote.  What follows from what you wrote is that each role within a pillar needs to be broad enough that it doesn't require the DM to specially craft encounters for that role.  Striker is a good combat role.  Killer-of-undead is not.

"Accomplished liar" is probably a good social role.  "Knows how to speak ettin" is probably not.



This is interesting. I think both type of abilities (broad and narrow) have their role, but they need to be separate: you could be able to trade combat effectiveness (e.g., striker-type precision or damage) for social effectiveness (e.g., the "accomplished liar"); but you could also trade "Turn Undead" for "Speak X Language" or "Wilderness Tracking".

So maybe Cleric A could be developed to be generally less effective than Fighter B in combat, but more effective in a social encounter. However, through "narrow" abilities, A could be as effective as B when fighting the undead, and B could be as effective as A when dealing with mercenaries (or some other specialized social encounter).

GP

A character cannot be expected to trade combat effectiveness for, say, wilderness tracking capability


All that means is that tracking is an overly narrow exploration role.  In the same way that "undead killer" is an overly narrow combat role.  If I'm trading social effectiveness to kill more undead then it only works if the DM sends undead at us.

This means every character needs to be comparably (though differently) effective in the combat and various non-combat scenarios, with non-competing resources for choosing niches within them.


That does not follow from what you wrote.  What follows from what you wrote is that each role within a pillar needs to be broad enough that it doesn't require the DM to specially craft encounters for that role.  Striker is a good combat role.  Killer-of-undead is not.

"Accomplished liar" is probably a good social role.  "Knows how to speak ettin" is probably not.



This is interesting. I think both type of abilities (broad and narrow) have their role, but they need to be separate: you could be able to trade combat effectiveness (e.g., striker-type precision or damage) for social effectiveness (e.g., the "accomplished liar"); but you could also trade "Turn Undead" for "Speak X Language" or "Wilderness Tracking".

So maybe Cleric A could be developed to be generally less effective than Fighter B in combat, but more effective in a social encounter. However, through "narrow" abilities, A could be as effective as B when fighting the undead, and B could be as effective as A when dealing with mercenaries (or some other specialized social encounter).

GP

Yeah, that's sort of what I'm getting out of this discussion (hard to say if it relates to the current alpha rules or not).

This would actually work out pretty well. You have some 'broad' options that are maybe mostly established by say themes. So the 'Diplomat' theme says basically "I really want to do this social stuff and I'm going to go fairly broad here" and then you'd have say feats that would let you laser in on a specific narrow thing, like getting a bonus to attacks against undead. The Diplomat character could spend 60% of his options on Diplomacy. He'd still have a couple effective combat options, and he could have a grudge against undead and really put the hurt on when he hits them. Out of combat he's an all around smooth guy, probably competent at most social functions and with several that he's ace at.

I could see that working fairly well. Setting up a PC would be reasonably easy, and for the 'simple' characters module you basically get the equivalent of a theme in your class pick. So a bard IS a diplomat by default, but with the complex options module he can instead go ahead and be a priest instead. He's probably still a fairly loquacious priest, but he's now more of a divinely inspired storyteller maybe. Or he can swap for the Knight theme and be a competent combat guy/leader like a Knight Troubadour. Feats will let you fill in the cracks to add a few narrow things you need to touch up the basic concept or add some unique fluff.

Overall seems like it could work pretty well. It will really rely on decoupling skills from specific ability scores, which is going to be messy on the character sheet, but maybe someone will come up with a clever way to make that easy to track. I really do like the way 4e never makes you add up numbers at the table much. Still, negotiating skill + attribute out of combat isn't too bad. It may make people think more about exactly what it is they're trying to do.

Nice to see that Monte is up on 'roll first, describe after', always my preferred style.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Nobody has said roleplaying is a pillar.

Mike Mearls'  three pillars are: combat, socilaization, and exploration.
I agree with those three pillars, but also identified three other components of D&D: exposition, interludes, and travel.  I wouldn't say these three are "pillars".  They are merely supports.  I do think they should be considered when exploring a system, however.

But roleplaying can happen during any of these six areas.     



Well somebody on the boards had at one point but your right they were probably misqouting Mearls or taking something out of context.
A character cannot be expected to trade combat effectiveness for, say, wilderness tracking capability, because this results in their character having a niche in the party only if the DM humors them by putting in tracking challenges.


Sure you can expect them to trade combat effectiveness. You just can't expect them to trade very much combat effectiveness. My experience is that tracking actually comes up fairly often in games if someone has the skill -- not as actually following someone's tracks, but as looking at tracks to see what came through the area.
It doesn't mean that that players are going to be forced to choose to specialize in one pillar at the expense of another.


But that's exactly what it sounds like when they say things like one class might be 80/20 at combat and exploration while another class is 33/33/33 at combat/exploration/social and one might even be 100% combat.



I agree Bone_naga, it appears more that they are probably stating these concepts so that people realize they have adressed the issues of each class by first identifying what it is the focus of that class (or profession) should be towards in regards to the game. Thats not to say they won't have opportunity to delve into the other "pillars" but that the player has been forwarned the class he/she might choose mostly revolves around those percentages.
It just also might be an easy indicator for new players to decided on the type of character they want to play at a glance....without having to read every class or have them explained in detail.

@Wrecan

While I like your idea of the 80/20 meaning more options for 80 instead of more effectiveness we are talking about the same lead designer that put out such classes as the 3.5 bard. I'm not sure Monte's idea of the split effectivness is the same as yours. I will reserve judgement either way till I see some sort of playtest or sample classes but currently it's hard to remain optimistic in the face of past evidence to the contrary.
(And my experience is that it ends up in frustrated players because the game's set in a city but their class is railed into wilderness lore, because the developers failed to give non-combat customization a different slot from your class.)



Uhm, this doesn't sound convincing: why would a player choose a wilderness-oriented class when the game is set in a city? It seems more of a problem of DM-players communication than of rules system -- some classes are more niche than others, sure, so the DM should tell the players in advance that the campaign is city-based, or discuss the campaign style with them before they create characters.

G.
I keep hearing this "3 pillars" talk. Now, I haven't really read up on it and would appreciate a link, but even so. When I first heard this concept, I wondered what a mystery-solving adventure was. It isn't social, exploration or combat. I'm worried that if there are only 3 pillars than every peg has to be hammered through one of those holes.

Here's the I see it. Characters interact with:
People
Things
Places
Themselves
Monsters (i.e. violence)

Does all of that fit within 3 pillars? 


I think of them as 1st Arenas of Conflict then whether I need mechanics for that arena

Man vs the World (the environment)
Man vs the Machine this is traps and puzzles and similar
Man vs Monster. (of which humans are the worst)
Man vs Self is not normally something I need mechanics for though I sometimes like to see it implied in other elements
  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."

 

@Wrecan

While I like your idea of the 80/20 meaning more options for 80 instead of more effectiveness we are talking about the same lead designer that put out such classes as the 3.5 bard. I'm not sure Monte's idea of the split effectivness is the same as yours. I will reserve judgement either way till I see some sort of playtest or sample classes but currently it's hard to remain optimistic in the face of past evidence to the contrary.


I don't see the point in partcipating in speculation if you've decided to let your preconception of the designer trump anything else that's been said.  I've been involved in the game as long as you, I'm sure.  I played in 3.5.  I also know that Cook had specific design goals in Third Edition: namely to reward system mastery.  I know this because he blogged about his design goals.  That's specifically not a goal in Next.  In fact, quite the opposite.  One of the goals is simplicity in play.

So what's the point of jumping to the conclusion you did.  If you think Cook's abilities and capacities as a designer were set in stone 12 years ago, with no regard to what the context was at the time, then why bother trying to learn more?

In short, try to keep an open mind.  Twelve years was a long time ago.  Keep in mind that the other designers are Mike Mearls, one of the lead designers on 4th, and the man who invented Skill Challenges, and Rob Schwalb, the undisputed master of designing 4e player options, which are defined by options and balance.  But if you think the Monte Cook was just thawed from 12 years of cryostasis and Mearls and Schwalb are just window dressing, I guess that's your perogative.