No OAs, No Marks -- Let's All Gank the Wizard

Please tell me I got any of this wrong or missed something. 

I am not wedded to marks and don't care if they go, but removing OAs really changes/complicates things.  Namely, there is no battlefield control (outside of spell effects, i.e. Ray of Frost) and battlefield positioning is greatly devalued.

So, there is basically nothing to stop Team Monster from all moving to and attacking the easiest target (i.e. the Wizard).  If the Wizard stays at range, since he has a lot of ranged attacks, the Monsters can simply chase him down.  They might lost an attack to do this, but the rest of Team PC will also be forced to lose attacks to try and stop this.

I don't like the removal of OAs.  At all.

Daren
I don't like it either, but I think it has to do with offering the players the possibility to play without a battlemap or grid.

From a game theory point of view it is bad, because for the role of "defender" / "tank" to work, the heavily armored character needs some way to force the enemy to attack him. 
I am pretty sure OAs will make it in the more advanced combat modules. It's a good rule, just makes combat a wee bit more technical. I would also be surprised if marks weren't included in later documents as well. The playtest doc that we have now is just the baseline core combat. Simple and easy, no muss no fuss. Later on combat will got lots more technical, I'm sure. So be sure you continue to make your point that these need to be added when we get to that point.
"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own." --Gary Gygax
I don't think they have been "removed", I just think that they have not been put in yet.  The design philosphy this time around is to make a very simple core ruleset and then have lots of optional plugins.  We have the basic mechanics, but not the options yet.  They wanted a combat systme that could be played without a map.  For those who want things like a grid, marking, OA's, I am sure some version of that will be coming when optional rules start to come out.  For now we have a very "classic" approach so that you don't really need a grid.  Very tactical rules like OAs and marking probably shouldn't be core, because they really need a battlemap to work well.
I agree, people have to calm down. Everything is going to be put in the game eventualy, as optional modules. Laughing
You don't need a map to have OAs.  Just have a simple rule that if you move away from an adjacent enemy, you provoke an OA (i.e. a melee attack).  Then we can debate how often someone can make an OA.  Probably call it a reaction and limit it to once a round, but whatever.  But the concept is simple and doesn't require a map at all.

I played some 3.5/LG without a map and OAs were a part of those games.  No problem.

OAs seem even easier to have without a map then flanking, which could also be implemented without a map, but gets a little more complicated with large creatures, etc.

Daren
You don't need a map to have OAs.  Just have a simple rule that if you move away from an adjacent enemy, you provoke an OA (i.e. a melee attack).  Then we can debate how often someone can make an OA.  Probably call it a reaction and limit it to once a round, but whatever.  But the concept is simple and doesn't require a map at all.

I played some 3.5/LG without a map and OAs were a part of those games.  No problem.

OAs seem even easier to have without a map then flanking, which could also be implemented without a map, but gets a little more complicated with large creatures, etc.

Daren



Again, MODULAR.  The goal here is to let you build the version of DnD that you want to play.  Not everyone likes OAs.  When they first came out I found the confusing, slowing to the game, and a pain in the rear.  By the time I got to 4th ed my position has softened and I used them, but not everyone likes them.  The core rules are the most basic, you will be able to add the elements you want later.  If you put them in core then you are telling everyone to use them.

I'm actually curious, how did you keep everyone from bumrushing the wizard before OAs?
The letter from Mike Mearls that came with the download materials did mention the excising of rules or elements to see if those rules/elements are key components.  The group I DMed last night played on a grid and I missed OAs greatly, though it was fun to just be able to mob players in smaller spaces without worrying about my kobolds getting cut down before making it to position.  I get the feeling it will be included in future rule rollouts, but I may "houserule" it in for this current rule set.
The core game has to be balanced before the mods thoguh, and without OA the weapon types are short on battlefield control. PArt of that is probably the incomplete nature of the packet, but it's something that needs to be fixed in the core rules.
I'm actually curious, how did you keep everyone from bumrushing the wizard before OAs?

 

It was basically a social contract with the DM.  If he wanted to he could bumrush the squishies and focus fire one them.  And they were so damn fragile that they would die every time if he did.  So, he didn't.  Because it made the game more fun.  There was alot of handwaving and claims that "orcs rush the nearest target, they aren't great tacticians".

I'm actually curious, how did you keep everyone from bumrushing the wizard before OAs?

The wizard in our group was actually stepping up to foes more often than not in order to use shocking grasp.  He went toe-to-toe with a troll to shock it several times - the only things saving his hide being his fellow adventurers surrounding the troll and my own horrible dice rolls.
I'm actually curious, how did you keep everyone from bumrushing the wizard before OAs?



Smart play on the part of PCs--controlling space rather than just occupying it, using range thoughtfully, taking out targets that are most likely to be threatening to squishy party members first, etc.

Tactical combat without the need for 100 forms of pre-scripted combat maneuver, basically.

Battlefield control is a gamist centric concept that should be part of a collection of the gamist optional rules.     Other styles of play don't want or require such concepts. 

Wizards of pre-4e editions would cast stoneskin, blink, mirror image, and/or invisibility to avoid being taken out like that.   


It appears as though a lot of the "role" slack is taken up by themes.  The Cleric's Guardian theme allows him to disadvantage an enemy that attacks a nearby ally, and better yet, lets him completely stop them in their tracks if they try and bypass him.  Since it's a theme, you can just slap that bad boy on the Fighter instead.  

I'm actually curious, how did you keep everyone from bumrushing the wizard before OAs?

 

It was basically a social contract with the DM.  If he wanted to he could bumrush the squishies and focus fire one them.  And they were so damn fragile that they would die every time if he did.  So, he didn't.  Because it made the game more fun.  There was alot of handwaving and claims that "orcs rush the nearest target, they aren't great tacticians".


This is basically it.

I think class feature and that cleric theme will do it.  The ability to stop foes in their track and grant disadvantage accomplish battlefield control, but it is more tactical than before.  I kinda like it so far.
The tough guy actually protecting the other guys in rules-light no-map systems tends to work through a combination of sort of handwaved "I'm standing in the way" and/or "come and get me, you dogs!" routines and a tacit or not-so-tacit agreement that enemies just kind of attack the fighter more than the other guys because that's how stuff works.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Battlefield control is a gamist centric concept that should be part of a collection of the gamist optional rules.     Other styles of play don't want or require such concepts. 

Wizards of pre-4e editions would cast stoneskin, blink, mirror image, and/or invisibility to avoid being taken out like that.   




I've got a guy in my play group who is upset that the 3.5 sorcerer in the party always has mage armor up in a fight--but it's just smart play.  A stray uncontrolled guy can theoretically slip in and off him with a hit or two, so he's protecting himself the way he needs to.  Just because he has a high AC doesn't make him a melee fighter, despite the dude's protests, it just makes him less likely to go down before contributing something meaningful to the party in combat.
The tough guy actually protecting the other guys in rules-light no-map systems tends to work through a combination of sort of handwaved "I'm standing in the way" and/or "come and get me, you dogs!" routines and a tacit or not-so-tacit agreement that enemies just kind of attack the fighter more than the other guys because that's how stuff works.



I never had someone refer to the fighter as a "tank" or "protector" in my D&D groups before WoW.  There was the unspoken assumption on the part of the players that, since they had more HP and tougher armor, they should be the first ones to take the serious hits from the monsters--and the natural cowardice of wizards would encourage that to also be the case.

In my games, no amount of taunting by a warrior is going to keep an intelligent archer from targeting a wizard first if he can help it--and no fighter in parties I ran would think that it would.  Instead, they'd use control-type spells to stay safe until they could take care of the archer, or the wizard would die.

I think there's a weird assumption that wizards and fighters are not balanced with each other overall because the fragility of wizards at low levels is a non-issue because most groups just hand-wave all of those perils away.  To the extent that that is true, the system isn't broken, the players are ignoring one of the checks and balances of the system as written and breaking it in the process.
Battlefield control is a gamist centric concept that should be part of a collection of the gamist optional rules.     Other styles of play don't want or require such concepts. 

Wizards of pre-4e editions would cast stoneskin, blink, mirror image, and/or invisibility to avoid being taken out like that.   




Aside from the fact that the way you wrote that it sounds like you consider "gamist" a dirty word, how is battlefield control a gamist concept? It's sound battle tactics in the real world to guard your artillery. Is it "gamist" to defend a castle by putting archers on top its walls?

Battlefield control is neither simulationist concept or gamist concept . It's just a concept. How you choose to implement option to control the battlefield - now that could prove to be simulationist or gamist.
The core game has to be balanced before the mods thoguh, and without OA the weapon types are short on battlefield control. PArt of that is probably the incomplete nature of the packet, but it's something that needs to be fixed in the core rules.



I very much agree.

I love you guys.
The core game has to be balanced before the mods thoguh, and without OA the weapon types are short on battlefield control. PArt of that is probably the incomplete nature of the packet, but it's something that needs to be fixed in the core rules.



I very much agree.


me too

If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.


Aside from the fact that the way you wrote that it sounds like you consider "gamist" a dirty word, how is battlefield control a gamist concept? It's sound battle tactics in the real world to guard your artillery. Is it "gamist" to defend a castle by putting archers on top its walls?

Battlefield control is neither simulationist concept or gamist concept . It's just a concept. How you choose to implement option to control the battlefield - now that could prove to be simulationist or gamist.



Based on his use (and your interpretation) of the word "gamist" in this context, I think it's pretty clear that he meant Battlefield Control as a mechanic (Marks and to a lesser extent attacks of opportunity) rather than as a philosophy or an element of the game.  Marks are definitely a gamist concept that needlessly abstracts from the combat as it's happening (in my opinion).  If you want to make sure a monster is attacking you, there are plenty of actual ways to do that rather than just relying on a pre-scripted power that says "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it". 

It works well in the imagined world of warcraft where everything including visuals is provided, but that kind of mechanic totally breaks my belief in the imaginary world I'm creating and exploring with my friends.


It works well in the imagined world of warcraft where everything including visuals is provided, but that kind of mechanic totally breaks my belief in the imaginary world I'm creating and exploring with my friends.




Fortunately my imagination can encompass flying 40ft long reptiles AND warriors who are so well trained that they can punish an enemy for taking his/her attention away from the warrior long enough to attack his comrades.  My imagination can also allow for holy warriors who can call on their god to heal themselves and their allies as well as punishing their chosen enemy for attacking anyone other than themselves.
 
That's not what a mark does. At all.

It's a penalty to make attacks that don't include you. It's getting in their face, being intimidating or having enough presence or threat to make ignoring you a bad idea. A mark, by itself, is just a small penalty to hit, and almost always ends in a round.

Mark punishments are specific defender class features that let you make that enemy regret ignoring you. I smash a hammer into you, mark you as my foe both literally and figuratively. If you then run or attack my ally, I'm going to hit you for it, get in your way, distract you, grab your attention, or any number of other fluff explanations for mark mechanics.

I'd say that's quite a bit different than "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it", to the point where your statement is meaningless and shows low system mastery.

Now, I'm not defending marks to the death. I rather liked the Knight features, which rejected marks in favor of a defender's aura. But saying marks "needlessly abstracts from the combat as it's happeneing" isn't really a fair call.
I never had someone refer to the fighter as a "tank" or "protector" in my D&D groups before WoW.  There was the unspoken assumption on the part of the players that, since they had more HP and tougher armor, they should be the first ones to take the serious hits from the monsters--and the natural cowardice of wizards would encourage that to also be the case.


Right.  A lot of complaints about the codifying of class roles were based solely on the objection to written words being used to describe something we already did.

If you want to make sure a monster is attacking you, there are plenty of actual ways to do that rather than just relying on a pre-scripted power that says "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it".  


That exists in most video games because there's no DM behind the screen, but I'm pretty sure there's no mechanic in any edition of D&D that causes this, barring actual magical control.  (The threat/taunt mechanic is an abstraction of the sort of decisions an enemy would make if they had a tactically-oriented human mind driving them.)

Battlefield control (in the "defender" sense) in 4E meant "I'm making it hard for you to get at my ally without getting hurt in the process," and the mechanics (marking, opportunity actions) were largely representative of what was actually happening in the fiction, which is why we want them.

Fiction can drive mechanics, or mechanics can drive fiction.  They're both valuable.  I'm just interested in knowing that the mechanics accommodate the fiction naturally.

That's not what a mark does. At all.

It's a penalty to make attacks that don't include you. It's getting in their face, being intimidating or having enough presence or threat to make ignoring you a bad idea. A mark, by itself, is just a small penalty to hit, and almost always ends in a round.

Mark punishments are specific defender class features that let you make that enemy regret ignoring you. I smash a hammer into you, mark you as my foe both literally and figuratively. If you then run or attack my ally, I'm going to hit you for it, get in your way, distract you, grab your attention, or any number of other fluff explanations for mark mechanics.

I'd say that's quite a bit different than "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it", to the point where your statement is meaningless and shows low system mastery.

Now, I'm not defending marks to the death. I rather liked the Knight features, which rejected marks in favor of a defender's aura. But saying marks "needlessly abstracts from the combat as it's happeneing" isn't really a fair call.



Yes but rather than having some kind of POWER that does that, why not just let the player describe what they are doing (in the same way you just did), and if it makes sense that they can obstruct or distract their opponent from doing something else (like attacking the wizard) then the DM can say, "fair enough, if that hobgoblin you're menacing wants to try to ignore you to attack the wizard, he's going to have a hard time of it" and apply disadvantage to the hobgoblin's attack or something. That seems more simple and intuitive than giving a fighter some kind of special power to do that.

It's the difference between leaving everything not basic to improvisation, and giving you written, explicit and balanced powers that give you a variety of actions to work from, with improvisation to do anything else.

A mark mechanic gives you something concrete, consistent, balanced and optimizable to work with, besides "I try to distract it, and if the DM agrees I may give him disadvantage". There's no optimization potential there, and that makes players who like to tweak and work and do magic with numbers very sad, and makes 5E the Macs of the computer world. Sure, they're easy to use, incredibly so... but that's all they have going for them. If you like to customize, tweak, specialize, optimize, you're not going to use a Mac.

Again, I can see why marks aren't in this chassis of a game, at least not in the source module. I expect to see them later on, as an optional expansion. But just because you can do something through roleplay, improvisation and DM fiat doesn't mean giving it a power card would restrict your options or creativity.
Just wanted to say this is a very interesting conversation. A good civil discussion about how complex mechanics could affect a core game. To tell you the truth I don't know hww we handled this in my old school games. You always protected the magic user this had to be done. When you didn't he died, alot. And life without a magic user sucked. Almost as bad as life without the cleric. But generally the fighters would try and make it clear via dialogue that they were spreading out to protect the guys in the back, engage the monsters that were charging. When there were too many, and recall we didn't have minions back then, they simply had to do something to stop the guys trying to get to the mage, and occasionally the thief with his shortbow or crossbow in the back. Magic Users often relied on spells like trip and slip to stop guys from reaching them too. Let's face it life as a magic user was dangerous, and there were no mechanics to help you back then. 
"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own." --Gary Gygax
It's the difference between leaving everything not basic to improvisation, and giving you written, explicit and balanced powers that give you a variety of actions to work from, with improvisation to do anything else.

A mark mechanic gives you something concrete, consistent, balanced and optimizable to work with, besides "I try to distract it, and if the DM agrees I may give him disadvantage". There's no optimization potential there, and that makes players who like to tweak and work and do magic with numbers very sad, and makes 5E the Macs of the computer world. Sure, they're easy to use, incredibly so... but that's all they have going for them. If you like to customize, tweak, specialize, optimize, you're not going to use a Mac.

Again, I can see why marks aren't in this chassis of a game, at least not in the source module. I expect to see them later on, as an optional expansion. But just because you can do something through roleplay, improvisation and DM fiat doesn't mean giving it a power card would restrict your options or creativity.



Sure I agree that as an optional add-on rule that's fine for people who want it. But in order to make the game range from very basic to very complex, your core rules have to start with being very basic. So like you said, some kind of rigidly defined power for something like that should NOT be in the basic rules, it should be added on as an option for those who want the added complexity.
Sure I agree that as an optional add-on rule that's fine for people who want it. But in order to make the game range from very basic to very complex, your core rules have to start with being very basic. So like you said, some kind of rigidly defined power for something like that should NOT be in the basic rules, it should be added on as an option for those who want the added complexity.

Alright, we're in agreement then.

That's not what a mark does. At all.

It's a penalty to make attacks that don't include you. It's getting in their face, being intimidating or having enough presence or threat to make ignoring you a bad idea. A mark, by itself, is just a small penalty to hit, and almost always ends in a round.

Mark punishments are specific defender class features that let you make that enemy regret ignoring you. I smash a hammer into you, mark you as my foe both literally and figuratively. If you then run or attack my ally, I'm going to hit you for it, get in your way, distract you, grab your attention, or any number of other fluff explanations for mark mechanics.

I'd say that's quite a bit different than "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it", to the point where your statement is meaningless and shows low system mastery.

Now, I'm not defending marks to the death. I rather liked the Knight features, which rejected marks in favor of a defender's aura. But saying marks "needlessly abstracts from the combat as it's happeneing" isn't really a fair call.



Yes but rather than having some kind of POWER that does that, why not just let the player describe what they are doing (in the same way you just did), and if it makes sense that they can obstruct or distract their opponent from doing something else (like attacking the wizard) then the DM can say, "fair enough, if that hobgoblin you're menacing wants to try to ignore you to attack the wizard, he's going to have a hard time of it" and apply disadvantage to the hobgoblin's attack or something. That seems more simple and intuitive than giving a fighter some kind of special power to do that.


relying on DM fiat is a fallacy. If it is that broken that you need rule 0 to fix it, why not have it in the rules to begin with?
I could be wrong, but I suspect that most new players would have an easier and perhaps more enjoyable time with "These five things represent most of the standard actions your character will take in combat. Using them will largely allow you to fufill your role in the party and be a badass hero, but if you want to do something not represented here, let me know" than with "You can move and hit stuff with an axe. If that's all you do, you will be bored and less effective, so you're going to need to be asking me for permission to do stuff all the time. I might say yes and I might say no, and since you're new to the game you probably have very little idea of what sort of effects are appropriate for the cost of a standard action. Also, Brian's DMing next week, and he might have different ideas about what's kosher. Good luck."
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
That's not what a mark does. At all.

It's a penalty to make attacks that don't include you. It's getting in their face, being intimidating or having enough presence or threat to make ignoring you a bad idea. A mark, by itself, is just a small penalty to hit, and almost always ends in a round.

Mark punishments are specific defender class features that let you make that enemy regret ignoring you. I smash a hammer into you, mark you as my foe both literally and figuratively. If you then run or attack my ally, I'm going to hit you for it, get in your way, distract you, grab your attention, or any number of other fluff explanations for mark mechanics.

I'd say that's quite a bit different than "from now on this monster will attack you, no matter what anyone else does to it", to the point where your statement is meaningless and shows low system mastery.

Now, I'm not defending marks to the death. I rather liked the Knight features, which rejected marks in favor of a defender's aura. But saying marks "needlessly abstracts from the combat as it's happeneing" isn't really a fair call.



Yes but rather than having some kind of POWER that does that, why not just let the player describe what they are doing (in the same way you just did), and if it makes sense that they can obstruct or distract their opponent from doing something else (like attacking the wizard) then the DM can say, "fair enough, if that hobgoblin you're menacing wants to try to ignore you to attack the wizard, he's going to have a hard time of it" and apply disadvantage to the hobgoblin's attack or something. That seems more simple and intuitive than giving a fighter some kind of special power to do that.


relying on DM fiat is a fallacy. If it is that broken that you need rule 0 to fix it, why not have it in the rules to begin with?

I don't think the word fallacy means what you think it means.

And rule 0 is rule 0 and not rule 1 or rule 11 for a reason (i.e., it is the most important, comes-before-all-other-rules rule).
I don't think marks are essential and don't care if they have defined "roles" or not.

But I think OAs should be part of the simplest core rules.  I get the modular concept, but just think OAs are simple enough to implement and important enough to the game that they should be part of even the most basic version of the game.

I mean its not hard to imagine/justify/explain that disengaging from someone you are in melee with can leave you vulnerable to an attack.

We can debate how to implement OAs (frequency, exactly what triggers it, ways to avoid it, etc.), but for me they belong in the base game.

Daren

relying on DM fiat is a fallacy. If it is that broken that you need rule 0 to fix it, why not have it in the rules to begin with?



See my comment above about starting with the very basic and adding on optional complexity. It's a lot harder to START with complexity and strip away to get to very basic than it is to start basic and build on it.

I don't think that a rigidly defined rule for this kind of thing is needed. Maybe you do. That's fine. We can both have it our way, and the best way to make sure that we do is to start with a simple ruleset that does NOT have such a rigidly defined rule and then give an option to add such a rule if you want it.
I could be wrong, but I suspect that most new players would have an easier and perhaps more enjoyable time with "These five things represent most of the standard actions your character will take in combat. Using them will largely allow you to fufill your role in the party and be a badass hero, but if you want to do something not represented here, let me know" than with "You can move and hit stuff with an axe. If that's all you do, you will be bored and less effective, so you're going to need to be asking me for permission to do stuff all the time. I might say yes and I might say no, and since you're new to the game you probably have very little idea of what sort of effects are appropriate for the cost of a standard action. Also, Brian's DMing next week, and he might have different ideas about what's kosher. Good luck."


This is more or less what I think should be the case.  I don't think discouraging improvisation and creativity in combat/checks is a good idea, especially if you have players/DMs who are able to leverage it fine, but having a basis upon which to give players an idea of what they could do can help encourage that sort of creativity.

For example, from 4e, when they talked about improvising with skills, they indicating examples for Thievery that made me realize that ANYTHING that involved small/nuanced/nimble fingers as part of the process could be religated to a thievery check, even though that was something that should've been obvious to me from the get go.

Having that same sort of 'cue' given towards players could definitely bolster this sort of lateral thinking, both for Players and DMs. 
It's a lot harder to START with complexity and strip away to get to very basic than it is to start basic and build on it.


Agreed.  I was initially skeptical of how skills/checks were resolved, for example, but as a baseline it's something that can lead to more nuance/complexity, and as it stands, the checks are likely a 'balanced' enough system as is with proper framing.

On the topic of OAs, though, I would say that this might be something that might require some sort of basic rule established in it, since there is already a rule in place for reactions as an action that can be done off turn.  It wouldn't be too hard to implement, I assume.
I missed OA too (as well as Flanking) during the early Playtest and i hope its introduced in DDN soon. Its an easy and traditional rule easily implementable both for Grid/No Grid since the word ''adjacent'' can cover both.


Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter



I never had someone refer to the fighter as a "tank" or "protector" in my D&D groups before WoW.



I had the exact same experience.    

Roles are basicaly the result of MMORPG players min/maxing their party effectiveness.    Not only do they min/max their characters, they min/max the way the party is constructed.   They focus on the mechanics of the game and play the game for every single advantage they can get.

When I played pre-3e editions min/maxing was discouraged in the rules. Some DM's would kick you right out of the game for playing that way, or at the very least they would not award you any role playing XP.





"You can move and hit stuff with an axe. If that's all you do, you will be bored and less effective, so you're going to need to be asking me for permission to do stuff all the time. I might say yes and I might say no, and since you're new to the game you probably have very little idea of what sort of effects are appropriate for the cost of a standard action. Also, Brian's DMing next week, and he might have different ideas about what's kosher. Good luck."

Argh, and this is my problem with this "mother may I do something besides melee basic" approach. Sure, it leaves room for imagination, but I'd like to have SOMETHING nailed down that I can point to and say "I know this works because of the rules, I know the attack bonus, I know the damage" and still have the option to improvise, instead of being forced to to do anything.