Three Pillars is a step backwards in Game Design

>Three Pillars
>combat, exploration, and roleplay

Oh gods. They don't understand RPGs at all, do they? They obviously don't and just happen to have more money and a bigger name than much better developers.


"Roleplay" is not a separate thing. That thing where people giving speeches in character, doing dumb things because "That's what my character would do" is not roleplay.

Roleplay is, outside of character creation, how you play the whole game. That's what makes it an RPG. You take the role of a character, you are given the information available to the character, and you make decisions from the character's perspective. The better the RPG, the less you are tempted to use out-of-character knowledge, and the less you're asked to make decisions about the character rather than as the character.

Once you get the idea that things like combat and exploration are not roleplaying like the designer currently have, you stop trying to make a good RPG. You awkwardly tie some boardgames together, and encourage the players to do some awful improv acting in between.

D&D has been going further and further along this path and there's no hope in sight at this point.

Even if by "Roleplay" they mean "Social" the fact of the matter is that kind of division of specialization makes the game boring to play and/or harder to GM well. Either people without skill in a particular area will be bored (and therefore more likely to be disruptive) or the DM will be forced to contrive their relevance (increasing their workload even more than this edition which is already over reliant on Fiat already has). 

Nothing good can come from reverting to a style of game design that was largely abandoned since the early '00s. Even modern designed classless systems do a better job at ensuring everyone's relevance than this. A non-engaged player is a time bomb during a session, some players have longer fuses than other but this is true none the less, this philosophy not only promotes bad game design but increases the likelyhood of player disenfranchisement over the long run, especially with groups with inexpedience or poor DMs.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
Umm... those aren't the three pillars. The three pillars are combat, exploration, and interaction. Presumably referring to social interaction, since the whole game is technically a form of interaction. And I believe the idea of separating the pillars is to make sure that each class has a baseline competency in each pillar. They may introduce some pillar imbalance (an idea I don't like), but they still want to maintain a baseline competency that ensures everyone is at least relevant in every scene.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Where are you getting the impression of "exploration, combat, and roleplay being pillars" from? I've looked through the playtest and don't see anything like this.

Your friendly neighborhood Revenant Minotaur Half-Blooded Dragonborn Fighter Hybrid Barbarian Multiclassing into Warlord

IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1223957875/Scorecards/Landscape.png)

Where are you getting the impression of "exploration, combat, and roleplay being pillars" from? I've looked through the playtest and don't see anything like this.



articles
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
I like the 3 pillar approach, DnD isnt a video game that needs to be balanced around combat only! Its an RPG that plays in a different way, so that sometimes some classes are better at doing "y" than "x"! This way everyone gets to contribute in a way he likes according to the class he has picked. And thats why we always had prestige classes like loremaster, or rangers good at tracking/scouting and rogues good for trapfinding and stealing... All these classes maybe had a bad time in combat compared to others, but exploration and RP time always redressed this!
I agree with the OP 100%. Roleplay should not be exclusive from combat or exploration. I think this encourages dull, tasteless combats and the all of the roleplaying issues the OP adressed.

Your friendly neighborhood Revenant Minotaur Half-Blooded Dragonborn Fighter Hybrid Barbarian Multiclassing into Warlord

IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1223957875/Scorecards/Landscape.png)

>
Nothing good can come from reverting to a style of game design that was largely abandoned since the early '00s. Even modern designed classless systems do a better job at ensuring everyone's relevance than this. A non-engaged player is a time bomb during a session, some players have longer fuses than other but this is true none the less, this philosophy not only promotes bad game design but increases the likelyhood of player disenfranchisement over the long run, especially with groups with inexpedience or poor DMs.



I might agree if the game was healthy, but it's not, and the whole reason to reverting back to an earlier type of play is to enlarge the dwindling player base and save the game from the disastrous past five years of poor design decisions.

I don't believe that the older style of play was abandoned, if anything the evidence is that WotC abandoned that style of play and the player base went elsewhere so they could keep playing it.

Groups with inexperienced or poor DM's are going to be difficult to no matter what edition your using, but the great advantage that the 5E rules have is they will enable the gaming group to play the traditional or correct way (the way that was a commercial success). This will create better players and DM's and we'll see fewer people on these forums talking about powers, surges, min-maxing, sliding, and so forth. Instead they'll be talking about the great adventure that they had tracking down the menacing orc band who as it turned out was willing to pay the party better protection money than the village elders were. They'll talk about having fun, they'll talk about everything but miniature wargaming.
The cover of the 1st edition Player’s Handbook by artist D.A. Trampier. A motley crew of adventurers, the bloodied bodies of lizard men, the hint of arcane malevolence surrounding the idol, the daring thieves prying the jewels from the statue. This is arguably the most iconic piece of art in all of RPGdom.
Roleplay should not be exclusive from combat or exploration.

I don't understand where the idea that the pillars can't bleed into eachother is coming from. If a car company mentions that speed and luxury are important to them, you don't assume that the seats turn to rock when you speed up.

First off, yea, 3rd one is interaction. If they do the pillars right I think it can work. I want to have the ability to move some of my focus off of combat and into another area. Here's a few things I think they can do to make things balance out.

1) Admit the three pillars are not equal in your average D&D game. Combat > Exploration > Interaction because of the amount of dice rolling and number crunching you do in each. I've had a session that was pure Interaction, hardly a single d20 was rolled.

I think combat should be pretty static, you can't add too much to it or take away too much. (Well, you can take away a bunch if you're nuts, but it should be obvious what you're doing if you do that. And it shouldn't make you god in the other areas.) Example, if you switch a combat feat out for a familiar, you're getting more in exploration then you lost in combat because a +1 in combat =/= a +1 in the others. This especially applies the other way around, you shouldn't be able to dump all of exploration and interaction to become a derp fighter who outshines everyone in combat.

2) All classes should have a pretty standard focus on each pillar, kind of like how 4e looks. You can pick any class and expect to contribute a lot in combat and at least a decent amount in exploration and interaction. There might be some variance, but not enough to make a player want to kill off his bard who feels worthless.

3) Changing your focus from one pillar to another gives you abilities for a quantity of situations, not quality in what you already do. Let's take two different rogue ideas, an knife throwing rogue and a rogue with some cleric spell slots. The "rogue" part of each of these characters is the exact same, only difference is whatever resource was spent on knife throwing / spell casting.

The knife throwing rogue used his resources to stay pretty standard with the default pillars. Maybe a hint more combat, but he didn't give up all his exploration or interaction to do that. (If any that is, he probably switched a sneak attack for it which was already combat.)

The cleric rogue shifted his focus onto exploration a bit. That doesn't mean he's outshining other rogues in the exploration things all rogues do. He just has resources for more situations, like cure disease, party skill buff, and summoning horses. This is what I mean in quantity not quality. He's become more of a jack of all trades, not a better rogue.


This is how I think pillar shifting can be done without a huge risk of outshining players or getting bored in other situations because you dumped interaction. The three pillars idea is actually a pretty general concept. It can be implemented in a bad way and it can be implemented in a good way. We really need to see how WotC is using it before we can judge it's game design merit.

PS: I haven't done tons of pondering in this area, and I'm still forming how I think this can be achieved. So opinions and other ideas are welcome. It's definitely a tricky thing, but I would rather they try it then lock character options down to "you will be awesome at combat because everyone else is."

Which article inspired this thread?
The "roleplay" and "interaction" monicker for the third pillar seeped in from several livechats and interviews here and there. Either are incredibly stupid names to contrast from the "exploration" and "combat" pillars; combat and exploration are not inherently any less about "roleplaying" and "interaction" than in-game socializing.

Umm... those aren't the three pillars. The three pillars are combat, exploration, and interaction. Presumably referring to social interaction, since the whole game is technically a form of interaction. And I believe the idea of separating the pillars is to make sure that each class has a baseline competency in each pillar. They may introduce some pillar imbalance (an idea I don't like), but they still want to maintain a baseline competency that ensures everyone is at least relevant in every scene.



Yeah, absolutely. As a means of creating some degree of competency, the pillars are important.

One of the reasons I hated social skills is because they tend to limit NPC interaction to one or two PCs doing all the talking and the others not being able to do much because they have no social ability. Social skills seemed to exist as a mechanic to specifically exclude people from doing the talking.

In fact, I feel like the game needs to go the other way on that and try to include everyone.
Oh gods. They don't understand RPGs at all, do they? They obviously don't and just happen to have more money and a bigger name than much better developers.

D&D has been going further and further along this path and there's no hope in sight at this point.

Even if by "Roleplay" they mean "Social" the fact of the matter is that kind of division of specialization makes the game boring to play and/or harder to GM well. Either people without skill in a particular area will be bored (and therefore more likely to be disruptive) or the DM will be forced to contrive their relevance (increasing their workload even more than this edition which is already over reliant on Fiat already has). 

Nothing good can come from reverting to a style of game design that was largely abandoned since the early '00s. Even modern designed classless systems do a better job at ensuring everyone's relevance than this. A non-engaged player is a time bomb during a session, some players have longer fuses than other but this is true none the less, this philosophy not only promotes bad game design but increases the likelyhood of player disenfranchisement over the long run, especially with groups with inexpedience or poor DMs.



I'm gonna be somewhat pointed here Santaclaws, since it seems you are comfortable in doing so. Please don't take offense as this is not meant personally, but just as a response to your comments.

Setting aside your mistaking the interaction pillar as the roleplaying pillar, your argument shows a certain degree of ignorance (not you, your argument) of the development of D&D over the past 40 years. If by "going further and further along this path" you mean in embracing a supposedly confused idea of roleplaying I'm afraid your conclusion is quite wrong. In fact the exact opposite is true. 4e highlighted the tevchnical aspects of combat and exploration as a part of roleplay. For this reason many old schoolers said your couldn't roleplay in 4e--which is untrue of course.

And by abandoning a style of gaming of the 00's I'm assuming you either mean 2e or 3e. But this too shows ignorance, but now of the current gaming market. Paizo's Pathfinder currently has the largest market share in the tabletop gaming world, and they've made their bread and butter in exactly the style of gaming that arose in the year 2000.

And my last response involves your asssertion that you understand game design better, or that there are game designers doing a better job out there than D&D has ever seen. Could you be so kind as to point some of these out? Quite a few posters on this board are very savvy in terms of a wide variety of game systems, and we would love to be pointed in a direction as good as you say.

So, unless you can be a bit more specific first about these things, I dare say your point is not well taken--at least by me anyway
"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 like the 3 pillar approach, DnD isnt a video game that needs to be balanced around combat only! Its an RPG that plays in a different way, so that sometimes some classes are better at doing "y" than "x"! This way everyone gets to contribute in a way he likes according to the class he has picked. And thats why we always had prestige classes like loremaster, or rangers good at tracking/scouting and rogues good for trapfinding and stealing... All these classes maybe had a bad time in combat compared to others, but exploration and RP time always redressed this!



I'm not talking about balancing it from combat! I never said anything remotely like that! I am talking about this division of specialization leaving some classes useless in situations because I believe the game should try to make everyone relivant as often as possible. This Philosophy encourages the opposite of that by dividing up the areas and making some classes much less useful than others in them.

 
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
Oh gods. They don't understand RPGs at all, do they? They obviously don't and just happen to have more money and a bigger name than much better developers.

D&D has been going further and further along this path and there's no hope in sight at this point.

Even if by "Roleplay" they mean "Social" the fact of the matter is that kind of division of specialization makes the game boring to play and/or harder to GM well. Either people without skill in a particular area will be bored (and therefore more likely to be disruptive) or the DM will be forced to contrive their relevance (increasing their workload even more than this edition which is already over reliant on Fiat already has). 

Nothing good can come from reverting to a style of game design that was largely abandoned since the early '00s. Even modern designed classless systems do a better job at ensuring everyone's relevance than this. A non-engaged player is a time bomb during a session, some players have longer fuses than other but this is true none the less, this philosophy not only promotes bad game design but increases the likelyhood of player disenfranchisement over the long run, especially with groups with inexpedience or poor DMs.



I'm gonna be somewhat pointed here Santaclaws, since it seems you are comfortable in doing so. Please don't take offense as this is not meant personally, but just as a response to your comments.

Setting aside your mistaking the interaction pillar as the roleplaying pillar, your argument shows a certain degree of ignorance (not you, your argument) of the development of D&D over the past 40 years. If by "going further and further along this path" you mean in embracing a supposedly confused idea of roleplaying I'm afraid your conclusion is quite wrong. In fact the exact opposite is true. 4e highlighted the tevchnical aspects of combat and exploration as a part of roleplay. For this reason many old schoolers said your couldn't roleplay in 4e--which is untrue of course.

And by abandoning a style of gaming of the 00's I'm assuming you either mean 2e or 3e. But this too shows ignorance, but now of the current gaming market. Paizo's Pathfinder currently has the largest market share in the tabletop gaming world, and they've made their bread and butter in exactly the style of gaming that arose in the year 2000.

And my last response involves your asssertion that you understand game design better, or that there are game designers doing a better job out there than D&D has ever seen. Could you be so kind as to point some of these out? Quite a few posters on this board are very savvy in terms of a wide variety of game systems, and we would love to be pointed in a direction as good as you say.

So, unless you can be a bit more specific first about these things, I dare say your point is not well taken--at least by me anyway



Paizo made its money by exploiting grognard caster players refusing to give up being the most useful classes by a wide margin and other people afraid of change. Just because something makes money says nothing about its quality, to this day it is a terribly balanced system and every GM I know who runs it has to go out of there way with house rules to make it work. If it does not play effectively out of the box it is not a quality product, just because many GMs like tweaking games doesn't excuse this because its poor consumerism that encourages bad business practices, you wouldn't buy a car if you had to work on it for a month before it drove properly and you wouldn't buy a pool table that would only hold itself together if the correct combination of people were standing around it. There is a difference between what markets well/appeals to players and what preforms well. Players do not always want what preforms well and this is where Paizo make their money. 

As for my assertion that I understand game design better well let me put it this way: I worked for an insurance company and am very familiar with both the theory and practice of how language can be used to influence people. Not what you are saying but how its said in terms of diction and pacing. If fact a lot of what I had to do was offer people things that were for their benefit in ways that would make it sound unattractive so that they would turn it down of their own choice. This gives me a lot of experience predicting the way people will act and the assumptions they will make based on written language. When it comes to rulebooks I can generally read the rules of a given system and see how a session plays out based on the mechanics and language of the book and I've never been wrong after actually playing it, ever. 

In D&D Next what I see as a result of this design decision and have seem before in other games that treat combat, exploration and interaction as separate entities is that in practice the dissonance will result in characters with dramatically different areas of expertise not feeling like they are playing the same game. It will create separate lulls in pacing, where events pick up for some players where they tapper off for other players. Its one thing to have pace slow down for everyone at once if appropriate but it is in no way good for a group if is happens asynchronously. This opens up room for disinterest and boredom and that leads to distraction of other players. Some players are more resilient to this than others but it will eventually happen to anyone who is not relevant and feels disconnected from the rest of the group. Keeping everyone simultaneously engaged prevents this and leads to a more productive game environment (IE: more will get done per session and no one will be siting there with nothing to do).

As for other systems doing this better:

Traveller (party skill packages based on the type of campaign being run and character advancement not being tied to level benchmarks allows for more organic feeling adventures where individuals can still play distinctly characters but no one is every left unable to contribute no matter the situation)  

Eclipse Phase (the ability for character to swap bodies and download skills means no one will ever be irrelevant unless they refuse to take advantage of this. Sure someone might focus on social interaction with their skills but downloaded into a synthetic battle shell with integrated reflex booster and an smg with armour piercing rounds  they are not going to look useless next to someone who focused more on combat skills)

Old World of Darkness (The games have interaction, exploration and combat but character archetypes with a few exceptions never lock you out of being useful in any of the common or not so common types of stories each game lends itself to)




In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
I'm not convinced dividing things up into '3 pillars' is a brilliant idea. OTOH I'm not sure that letting different characters be more or less useless in some situations HAS to be a disaster either. It really depends on pacing. If someone's character is pretty useless in combat that's bad, but if combat lasts 5 minutes really how much does it matter? As long as you're on to the next thing and that's not just MORE combat then presumably nobody has time to get bored. Inevitably this won't work perfectly, but there's a greater degree of latitude available in a system that handles each situation quickly and has rapid plot development. I think it would be BETTER to have each individual element of every character have some way that it can be applicable to each type of situation, but that's pretty hard to do. Still, I think the danger with the 3 pillars concept is you'll just bin each thing in one of them and not even try to think in those terms.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
@Santaclaws
Despite these forums, overall I believe gamers are informed buyers and smarter than you are giving them credit.

I had a guy in my group a while back who went straight from 2e to 4e.  He missed 3e entirely.  Mainly because he moved away and was busy.  So he didn't game.  Our group ended up disbanding but he then went on to play in a 3.5e game.  He asked me how anyone could go from 3e to 4e in a conversation we were having.  What's hilarious is that I'm often the defender of 4e in these discussions because I play devils advocate.  He is a smart guy.  He is playing high levels in the 3.5e campaign (they started high).  

I will admit 4e is more balanced than 3e.  I'll admit if I had to play right now I'd choose 3e.  I wouldn't be overjoyed that those were my only two choices.  You can not like something about an edition and still prefer it over another because the other has more things you dislike.   For me some of it was the method used to achieve some otherwise good goals.  I think 4e was a lot more narrativist too and that isn't my preferred style for fantasy rpg.  I am admitting to myself though that I might try it in another genre and be ok with it.  To me D&D is it's own thing.  Kind of like Skyline Chili.  It's not spaghetti to me it's Skyline.  

I dislike the notion that the non-4e camp is all wizard powermongers either.  I'm not a wizard player.  I like martial characters.  Maybe on occasion I'd play a cleric.  





The "roleplay" and "interaction" monicker for the third pillar seeped in from several livechats and interviews here and there. Either are incredibly stupid names to contrast from the "exploration" and "combat" pillars; combat and exploration are not inherently any less about "roleplaying" and "interaction" than in-game socializing.



I like to have all three in at the same time.

interaction with the big bad boss "You killed my father..." "I am your father..."

combat "swinging swords" "telekentic powers" "backflipping just for the fun of it"

exploration "Where did they hide" "This room is trapped, I'll distract him, you go disarm the trap"
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

I'm not talking about balancing it from combat! I never said anything remotely like that! I am talking about this division of specialization leaving some classes useless in situations because I believe the game should try to make everyone relivant as often as possible. This Philosophy encourages the opposite of that by dividing up the areas and making some classes much less useful than others in them.

 



The point of the three pillars was to make sure everyone had something to do in each pillar.  So that each player could have a hook or mechanic to be a part of roleplaying combat, exploration or interaction (social) encounters.  The 3 pillars are a guideline to make sure the designers give players roleplaying options in all areas of the game, not a method to restrict that. 

I'm not talking about balancing it from combat! I never said anything remotely like that! I am talking about this division of specialization leaving some classes useless in situations because I believe the game should try to make everyone relivant as often as possible. This Philosophy encourages the opposite of that by dividing up the areas and making some classes much less useful than others in them.

 



The point of the three pillars was to make sure everyone had something to do in each pillar.  So that each player could have a hook or mechanic to be a part of roleplaying combat, exploration or interaction (social) encounters.  The 3 pillars are a guideline to make sure the designers give players roleplaying options in all areas of the game, not a method to restrict that. 



They talked about giving some classes more power in one pillar and less power in another. To me that is just ignorant design...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

They talked about giving some classes more power in one pillar and less power in another. To me that is just ignorant design...


Yeah, that just speaks of an ignorance of the dynamics between the pillars in actual play.  
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
@Pashalik_Mons, @Lokiare
They did say that ALL classes are good enough in every pillar.  Meaning you will be able to contribute.  

I see the spread more like this 110, 90, 90 than like this 150,50,50 

They talked about giving some classes more power in one pillar and less power in another. To me that is just ignorant design...


 
I may have missed something, but that wasn't the impression I took from the blogs, chats and interviews.  I have tried to read them all, but could have missed some.

My impression was that they admitted some characters may not be as useful in each pillar, but that they wanted to makes sure each character could contribute in each pillar.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  In a game where players choose a background, class, theme, etc. it would be very difficult to make each character (not player) equally good at (mechanically speaking) exploration, combat and social interation. 

Personally I don't really care if my soldier is good at exploring and social interaction, I just want him to kick ass in combat.  Thus, I will make choices to make that happen.  I should be allowed to do that.
Like most things there are positive and negative aspects to the whole pillars concept. It is like with roles in 4e. Roles were very successful at making it easy for the designers of a class to end up with something useful. It inarguably achieved that, and provided a really useful guideline for the players when they were selecting what to play as well. OTOH there's plainly a certain amount of flexibility in how you can think about something that you give up when you create these conceptual tools. I'm leary of something like this pillars concept that can end up dominating too much of the thinking of the developers. OTOH if it is technique for checking design in a "this class looks a bit anemic in this area" kind of thing, then it can be used to improve the game. You just have to always remember to look at the whole thing when you're done and remember that your categorizations of the way things work are just tools, not the reality of the thing. Actually designing the mechanics of the game around pillars is probably a bad idea, just checking your design against them as a ruler is probably fine.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Like most things there are positive and negative aspects to the whole pillars concept. It is like with roles in 4e. Roles were very successful at making it easy for the designers of a class to end up with something useful. It inarguably achieved that, and provided a really useful guideline for the players when they were selecting what to play as well. OTOH there's plainly a certain amount of flexibility in how you can think about something that you give up when you create these conceptual tools. I'm leary of something like this pillars concept that can end up dominating too much of the thinking of the developers. OTOH if it is technique for checking design in a "this class looks a bit anemic in this area" kind of thing, then it can be used to improve the game. You just have to always remember to look at the whole thing when you're done and remember that your categorizations of the way things work are just tools, not the reality of the thing. Actually designing the mechanics of the game around pillars is probably a bad idea, just checking your design against them as a ruler is probably fine.

Well said - I agree with that

They talked about giving some classes more power in one pillar and less power in another. To me that is just ignorant design...



Can you link to what you are refering to?


Also I'm curious.  Is it bad design that the thief is good at disarming traps and picking locks, but the other classes aren't?  

The problem I see with balancing classes across three pillars instead of within them means it only caters to one style of play, a style where all three pillars are in balance.


If your style of play emphasizes one of the pillars then the game is out of balance for your style, by design. If you have a group that favours interaction, exploration or combat and makes the game more about those areas, then classes outside of those with strength in that pillar are excluded or disadvantaged.


I have never played in a role-playing group where all three pillars were emphasized equally. That is just me, but surely players have preferences and they lean the games they play toward them. Balance across all three pillars may be one of those preferences, but only one of many.


The design concept should not be so narrow as to only support a full range of class choices to a very narrow style of play.

well a fighter is never well concted as a bard, and a bard never beat a fighter in combat, this is expected, is not a game flaw.
the ranger is good in combat / exploration but not good in social interation
the rogue is good in social interation / exploration, but not good at fighting
but remember the rogue can fight and the ranger can interact.
i think you are good in 2 of 3 or pretty good in one
you cant be good in anything though
If your style of play emphasizes one of the pillars then the game is out of balance for your style, by design. If you have a group that favours interaction, exploration or combat and makes the game more about those areas, then classes outside of those with strength in that pillar are excluded or disadvantaged.


You know something interesting? If you balance each class to be even in every pillar, then it doesn't matter which pillar you focus on, because everyone will be able to contribute and feel involved with the game. I know, it sounds like witchcraft, but its true! ;)

Anyway, start with it balanced and then give options to lose combat viability to gain greater capability in exploration and so forth. Unbalance the game to your heart's content. Its a lot easier for you to kneecap the Fighter in any pillar outside Combat than it is for me to fashion some leg braces and get him back in the race.
well a fighter is never well concted as a bard, and a bard never beat a fighter in combat, this is expected, is not a game flaw.
the ranger is good in combat / exploration but not good in social interation
the rogue is good in social interation / exploration, but not good at fighting
but remember the rogue can fight and the ranger can interact.
i think you are good in 2 of 3 or pretty good in one
you cant be good in anything though



Why? Because that's the way you play the game? I don't see the need for that. As often as possible I like to see characters having ways to contribute to those pillars in equal but different ways. A Paladin who is tough in combat, charming in interaction, and uses his divine magic to aid in exploration is different from a Fighter who kills quickly, scares the crap out of people, and uses his athleticism to aid in exploration needs. But they're both equally capable in each of those pillars, in a broad sense, and by no means are they 'good at everything'.

I can acknowledge that lots of people want the Fighter to have no exploration or social ability, and that's fine. I just think that should be the variation of the base, because its hard to force balance on a imbalanced system.
You know something interesting? If you balance each class to be even in every pillar, then it doesn't matter which pillar you focus on, because everyone will be able to contribute and feel involved with the game. I know, it sounds like witchcraft, but its true! ;)

Anyway, start with it balanced and then give options to lose combat viability to gain greater capability in exploration and so forth. Unbalance the game to your heart's content. Its a lot easier for you to kneecap the Fighter in any pillar outside Combat than it is for me to fashion some leg braces and get him back in the race.



Good points, I can agree with that - i don't think that is what we will see.  That  can be fine too

You know something interesting? If you balance each class to be even in every pillar, then it doesn't matter which pillar you focus on, because everyone will be able to contribute and feel involved with the game. I know, it sounds like witchcraft, but its true! ;)



I know, it seems so completely obvious to me I have difficulty understanding why this would not be the design goal.

So obvious that it's the complete opposite of your position 80 minutes earlier.



I guess I did a very poor job of explaining my position. By "balancing across three pillars" I meant balancing a strength in one pillar against a weakness in another, and "balancing within the pillars" as giving each class a balance in each of the three pillars. If the game is balanced across the pillars then if a style does not also balance the pillars then it becomes imbalanced. 

My position is identical to Arelths. Just worded poorly as you interpreted it as the opposite, and perhaps Arelth did as well.
Oh gods. They don't understand RPGs at all, do they? They obviously don't and just happen to have more money and a bigger name than much better developers.

D&D has been going further and further along this path and there's no hope in sight at this point.

Even if by "Roleplay" they mean "Social" the fact of the matter is that kind of division of specialization makes the game boring to play and/or harder to GM well. Either people without skill in a particular area will be bored (and therefore more likely to be disruptive) or the DM will be forced to contrive their relevance (increasing their workload even more than this edition which is already over reliant on Fiat already has). 

Nothing good can come from reverting to a style of game design that was largely abandoned since the early '00s. Even modern designed classless systems do a better job at ensuring everyone's relevance than this. A non-engaged player is a time bomb during a session, some players have longer fuses than other but this is true none the less, this philosophy not only promotes bad game design but increases the likelyhood of player disenfranchisement over the long run, especially with groups with inexpedience or poor DMs.



I'm gonna be somewhat pointed here Santaclaws, since it seems you are comfortable in doing so. Please don't take offense as this is not meant personally, but just as a response to your comments.

Setting aside your mistaking the interaction pillar as the roleplaying pillar, your argument shows a certain degree of ignorance (not you, your argument) of the development of D&D over the past 40 years. If by "going further and further along this path" you mean in embracing a supposedly confused idea of roleplaying I'm afraid your conclusion is quite wrong. In fact the exact opposite is true. 4e highlighted the tevchnical aspects of combat and exploration as a part of roleplay. For this reason many old schoolers said your couldn't roleplay in 4e--which is untrue of course.

And by abandoning a style of gaming of the 00's I'm assuming you either mean 2e or 3e. But this too shows ignorance, but now of the current gaming market. Paizo's Pathfinder currently has the largest market share in the tabletop gaming world, and they've made their bread and butter in exactly the style of gaming that arose in the year 2000.

And my last response involves your asssertion that you understand game design better, or that there are game designers doing a better job out there than D&D has ever seen. Could you be so kind as to point some of these out? Quite a few posters on this board are very savvy in terms of a wide variety of game systems, and we would love to be pointed in a direction as good as you say.

So, unless you can be a bit more specific first about these things, I dare say your point is not well taken--at least by me anyway



Paizo made its money by exploiting grognard caster players refusing to give up being the most useful classes by a wide margin and other people afraid of change. Just because something makes money says nothing about its quality, to this day it is a terribly balanced system and every GM I know who runs it has to go out of there way with house rules to make it work. If it does not play effectively out of the box it is not a quality product, just because many GMs like tweaking games doesn't excuse this because its poor consumerism that encourages bad business practices, you wouldn't buy a car if you had to work on it for a month before it drove properly and you wouldn't buy a pool table that would only hold itself together if the correct combination of people were standing around it. There is a difference between what markets well/appeals to players and what preforms well. Players do not always want what preforms well and this is where Paizo make their money. 

As for my assertion that I understand game design better well let me put it this way: I worked for an insurance company and am very familiar with both the theory and practice of how language can be used to influence people. Not what you are saying but how its said in terms of diction and pacing. If fact a lot of what I had to do was offer people things that were for their benefit in ways that would make it sound unattractive so that they would turn it down of their own choice. This gives me a lot of experience predicting the way people will act and the assumptions they will make based on written language. When it comes to rulebooks I can generally read the rules of a given system and see how a session plays out based on the mechanics and language of the book and I've never been wrong after actually playing it, ever. 

In D&D Next what I see as a result of this design decision and have seem before in other games that treat combat, exploration and interaction as separate entities is that in practice the dissonance will result in characters with dramatically different areas of expertise not feeling like they are playing the same game. It will create separate lulls in pacing, where events pick up for some players where they tapper off for other players. Its one thing to have pace slow down for everyone at once if appropriate but it is in no way good for a group if is happens asynchronously. This opens up room for disinterest and boredom and that leads to distraction of other players. Some players are more resilient to this than others but it will eventually happen to anyone who is not relevant and feels disconnected from the rest of the group. Keeping everyone simultaneously engaged prevents this and leads to a more productive game environment (IE: more will get done per session and no one will be siting there with nothing to do).

As for other systems doing this better:

Traveller (party skill packages based on the type of campaign being run and character advancement not being tied to level benchmarks allows for more organic feeling adventures where individuals can still play distinctly characters but no one is every left unable to contribute no matter the situation)  

Eclipse Phase (the ability for character to swap bodies and download skills means no one will ever be irrelevant unless they refuse to take advantage of this. Sure someone might focus on social interaction with their skills but downloaded into a synthetic battle shell with integrated reflex booster and an smg with armour piercing rounds  they are not going to look useless next to someone who focused more on combat skills)

Old World of Darkness (The games have interaction, exploration and combat but character archetypes with a few exceptions never lock you out of being useful in any of the common or not so common types of stories each game lends itself to)




I can eyeball game systems as well, and I have not been wrong with my initial evaluation.  I am also a trained scientist so I know how to isolate variables.  3 pillars is not backwards, and it is not worse.  You are not speaking as an experienced game designer.  Your opinion I am sure is noted, but it has been repeated mistakenly as fact many times since D&D next playtest released.

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Paizo made its money by exploiting grognard caster players refusing to give up being the most useful classes by a wide margin and other people afraid of change. Just because something makes money says nothing about its quality, to this day it is a terribly balanced system and every GM I know who runs it has to go out of there way with house rules to make it work. If it does not play effectively out of the box it is not a quality product, just because many GMs like tweaking games doesn't excuse this because its poor consumerism that encourages bad business practices, you wouldn't buy a car if you had to work on it for a month before it drove properly and you wouldn't buy a pool table that would only hold itself together if the correct combination of people were standing around it. There is a difference between what markets well/appeals to players and what preforms well. Players do not always want what preforms well and this is where Paizo make their money.




Incorrect.  Pathfinder is a very quality product and as per my evaluation it plays perfectly out of the box.  In fact it plays so well that I have brought players from my encounters group and they *gasp* like it better because of its quality.  It seems your boast about eyeballing gamesystems is faulty here if you cannot see how well Pathfinder plays.

Anecdotal evidence from other GM's is ofcourse the perfect information stream.  I make it work without tweaking the system.  The only thing I have to tweak is making it work for the Forgotten Realms, and since the Realms is written without Pathfinder in mind that is no fault of the game system.

Again lots of opinion which boils down, to lots of opinion.


CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
I'd like to add a couple notes on balance and keeping everyone involved in the game.

I feel that balance is not a desirable objective to pursue for the D&D game on account that it is a socially cooperative roleplaying game based on the idea of a group of people going on an adventure.

Just about every kind of story that I can think of from Arthurian tales to modern sitcoms almost always involved one or two main characters and an assortment of lesser subcharacters, with the spotlight focused on the main characters, with occasional special tales or episodes that shine the light briefly on one of the secondary characters. It's the way things are done because it works. Maybe it works because we all recognize that someone is going to be the leader, and a leader oftentimes has a right hand man or woman at their side who make most of the decisions and sometimes take most the actions for the party. With the secondary characters filling in when specialized skills are required.

I can't think of a single instance of a balanced group of characters in all of media. Only some of the superhero groups from the pages of the comics comes close, but even they don't strive for balance. In fact, at least in the screen movie adaptations they often portray them as highly specialized individuals . Each contributing to the problem in their own unique way.

As for keeping everyone involved. Most of us have seen this problem come up frequently enough. There are many situations where it can occur and at several different levels of intensity. For example if you are holding an all nighter it's not uncommon for the DM to focus on one or two character's sub plots for half an hour while everyone else is off doing something different. Or for example in a combat situation where say the fighter is still actively engaged in combat and most of the rest of the party is holed up in a tree waiting for the fighter to finish the mob of monsters off.

For me that is all ok, it's even a desirable situation.
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They did say that ALL classes are good enough in every pillar.  Meaning you will be able to contribute.  

I see the spread more like this 110, 90, 90 than like this 150,50,50 


It isn't a question of whether each class can contribute in each pillar, to me anyway.  It's the idea that a player can trade effectiveness in one pillar for effectiveness in another and still be overall balanced that is shot.  It sounds simple and balanced when you take the bird's eye view like this, and most people are fine with it because they're familiar with this kind of balance, but balancing it like this shows at the worst an ignorance of the dynamics of actual play, or at least an apathy towards changing the status quo.  the problem is that the status quo, in this instance is something I honestly believe to be bad for the D&D community, because it breeds division amongst gamers.
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I'd like to add a couple notes on balance and keeping everyone involved in the game.

I feel that balance is not a desirable objective to pursue for the D&D game on account that it is a socially cooperative roleplaying game based on the idea of a group of people going on an adventure.

Just about every kind of story that I can think of from Arthurian tales to modern sitcoms almost always involved one or two main characters and an assortment of lesser subcharacters, with the spotlight focused on the main characters, with occasional special tales or episodes that shine the light briefly on one of the secondary characters. It's the way things are done because it works. Maybe it works because we all recognize that someone is going to be the leader, and a leader oftentimes has a right hand man or woman at their side who make most of the decisions and sometimes take most the actions for the party. With the secondary characters filling in when specialized skills are required.

I can't think of a single instance of a balanced group of characters in all of media. Only some of the superhero groups from the pages of the comics comes close, but even they don't strive for balance. In fact, at least in the screen movie adaptations they often portray them as highly specialized individuals . Each contributing to the problem in their own unique way.

As for keeping everyone involved. Most of us have seen this problem come up frequently enough. There are many situations where it can occur and at several different levels of intensity. For example if you are holding an all nighter it's not uncommon for the DM to focus on one or two character's sub plots for half an hour while everyone else is off doing something different. Or for example in a combat situation where say the fighter is still actively engaged in combat and most of the rest of the party is holed up in a tree waiting for the fighter to finish the mob of monsters off.

For me that is all ok, it's even a desirable situation.

Meh, this IMHO is the mistake of trying to draw from lessons in literary characters and apply it to an RPG. There's no guy playing the sidekick in a novel. Nor are novels game systems where there is some consistent set of rules that the characters are following.

The goal in an RPG is to entertain everyone and let them all participate.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

They talked about giving some classes more power in one pillar and less power in another. To me that is just ignorant design...


 
I may have missed something, but that wasn't the impression I took from the blogs, chats and interviews.  I have tried to read them all, but could have missed some.

My impression was that they admitted some characters may not be as useful in each pillar, but that they wanted to makes sure each character could contribute in each pillar.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  In a game where players choose a background, class, theme, etc. it would be very difficult to make each character (not player) equally good at (mechanically speaking) exploration, combat and social interation. 

Personally I don't really care if my soldier is good at exploring and social interaction, I just want him to kick ass in combat.  Thus, I will make choices to make that happen.  I should be allowed to do that.



So you like to sit out 2/3 of the time and let everyone else have fun... I'm the opposite, I like to be helpful in all pillars...
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>Three Pillars
Oh gods. They don't understand RPGs at all, do they? They obviously don't and just happen to have more money and a bigger name than much better developers.


I think they understand RPGs just fine, have settled upon their target audience (pre WotC TSR customers) and are designing backwards for what they think will pull in the lapsed retro crowd.
The "Three Pillars" are a fine concept, as long as none of them are labeled "Roleplay" (social or interaction works better), and you recognize that RP is possible in all three pillars.  They are even a handy design tool, if you balance classes or other character options within each pillar.

Balancing across pillars is also a legitimate design mechanism, if your intent is to force gameplay into a certain ratio of Combat:Interaction:Exploration. 

 

 

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