Did you improvise a lot?

One of the most prevalent things I noticed in my playtest run is that I had to come up with improvised rulings on actions constantly.  I kind of think that is the whole point of these rules, but I'm curious if my experience was similar to yours.

My party, who had no previous knowledge of the adventure, ended up going into the Goblin area first (cave B if memory serves) and ended up getting detected nearly immediately ("Bree-Yark!") giving the goblins in the other areas time to set up.  I had them tip over tables to provide cover to throw spears from, hide around corners in some of the dead end passages, and so on.

Now, there were plenty of existing rules for things like spotting hiding enemies, cover, and so on.  But players can be creative, and I found that when unfettered with rules for sundering objects or climb/jump DC's, they were inventing all sorts of interesting solutions.

To keep in the spirit of the playtest and the current state of the rules, I tried to improvise the DC's fairly and consistently.  I guess while that frees we DM's from having to scour through rules to find the right one for the exact situation, it runs the risk of putting too much on the DM.  At one point I wanted a STR check based on a player kicking down a table standing up, and I wanted it to be a roll (so at least DC10) and in the 5 seconds I thought about it (so as not to derail the combat flow) I figured a 14 STR person should have about a 50/50 chance of knocking it down as part of a movement...DC12.  A failed roll made me further improvise that the player could attempt a more focused attempt to knock it down as part of an action, and I gave them a DC10 chance.  Also failed.

This is just one example, but that story played out a lot for me.  I get the feeling it will be player specific.  Some players will want to do only those kind of things clearly defined in the rules as they are not innovaters.  Other players will construct intensively complex actions out of thin air that leave you stunned as to how to rule on them
One of the most prevalent things I noticed in my playtest run is that I had to come up with improvised rulings on actions constantly.  I kind of think that is the whole point of these rules, but I'm curious if my experience was similar to yours.

My party, who had no previous knowledge of the adventure, ended up going into the Goblin area first (cave B if memory serves) and ended up getting detected nearly immediately ("Bree-Yark!") giving the goblins in the other areas time to set up.  I had them tip over tables to provide cover to throw spears from, hide around corners in some of the dead end passages, and so on.

Now, there were plenty of existing rules for things like spotting hiding enemies, cover, and so on.  But players can be creative, and I found that when unfettered with rules for sundering objects or climb/jump DC's, they were inventing all sorts of interesting solutions.

To keep in the spirit of the playtest and the current state of the rules, I tried to improvise the DC's fairly and consistently.  I guess while that frees we DM's from having to scour through rules to find the right one for the exact situation, it runs the risk of putting too much on the DM.  At one point I wanted a STR check based on a player kicking down a table standing up, and I wanted it to be a roll (so at least DC10) and in the 5 seconds I thought about it (so as not to derail the combat flow) I figured a 14 STR person should have about a 50/50 chance of knocking it down as part of a movement...DC12.  A failed roll made me further improvise that the player could attempt a more focused attempt to knock it down as part of an action, and I gave them a DC10 chance.  Also failed.

This is just one example, but that story played out a lot for me.  I get the feeling it will be player specific.  Some players will want to do only those kind of things clearly defined in the rules as they are not innovaters.  Other players will construct intensively complex actions out of thin air that leave you stunned as to how to rule on them



Last week I had a player that was new to D&D, which is always a good example for those players that have adapted their choices to the rules. The player rushed some goblins that said he wanted to hit them all in one fell swoop. i called for 3 attacks with disadvantage, only to realise afterwards that he would do at least 3 damage to each goblin even when he missed. I might rule next time that the 3 damage on a miss only count when attacking 1 opponent but I might allow the multi-attack with disadvantage in certain situations (the 3 goblin were standing side to side in a 10'corridor shooting their bows.

I do have to coax the experienced players into describing their actions more and improvise more.
I'm curious about the kicking over the table incident.

A few things go through my mind,

a) What advantage does kicking over the table give?
Most of the time it won't give any advantage over just doing an attack, and in fact will just mean you aren't doing any damage that round. If that is the case DC10 seems suitable, in which case neither of the Dwarves even need to roll they can just do it. Or even no check at all if the table is small enough.
If however the player is saying I'm kicking over the table (that has a creature on top) then I'd probably treat it as an attack roll, and set a DC near the creatures AC. 

b) What size have I described the table as?
If I've described it as a small coffee table, and there is no one standing on it I wouldn't even ask for a check.
If I've said it is a sort of mid sized kitchen table that sits 4 or 6 at a squeeze DC10 seems fine.
If I've said it is a grand hall table that sits 12 or more then then you are looking at DC 14 or more.
If I've not described the size of it ask the player to describe it then set the DC.

Most of the time my players couldn't see the point in improvising as the damage they could do with there normal attacks rarely made it worth giving up their single action for. Thats something I think they need to address.
Last week I had a player that was new to D&D, which is always a good example for those players that have adapted their choices to the rules. The player rushed some goblins that said he wanted to hit them all in one fell swoop. i called for 3 attacks with disadvantage...



The problem with that, seems to me if you allow it once, why don't you allow it a second time, or a third or every attack. Suddenly the character is three times more powerful than intended.

And if you change how it works because you've realised it is overpowered suddenly you aren't playing in a consistant environment and players have no idea about the abilities of their characters.

Can I attack three at once today? Yes. Next fight? No. Tomorrow? Maybe, but for less damage if I allow it. How about if I bring the pizza?

 
Last week I had a player that was new to D&D, which is always a good example for those players that have adapted their choices to the rules. The player rushed some goblins that said he wanted to hit them all in one fell swoop. i called for 3 attacks with disadvantage, only to realise afterwards that he would do at least 3 damage to each goblin even when he missed. I might rule next time that the 3 damage on a miss only count when attacking 1 opponent but I might allow the multi-attack with disadvantage in certain situations (the 3 goblin were standing side to side in a 10'corridor shooting their bows.

I do have to coax the experienced players into describing their actions more and improvise more.



The problem with that, seems to me if you allow it once, why don't you allow it a second time, or a third or every attack. Suddenly the character is three times more powerful than intended.



I sometimes make mistakes, my players sometimes make mistakes. If that happens and we find out afterwards we roll with what had happened and say things like:"it happened this way this time the next time we'll rule it like that." And we play on.
What advantage does kicking over the table give?



Sorry, I didn't give you much detail.  The goblins, with forewarning of the approach of the adventurers, stood tables up on their sides to create make-shift barricades.  I know the physics involved requires the tables to be designed a certain way for the legs to brace them into effective barricades, and you could just pull instead of push, but this was a quick ruling by me to see how well such things would work.  From behind them I ruled the goblins having 1/2 cover (+2 AC) and they blocked passage, forcing players to go around the meager "kill zone" wasting their action to hustle.

The fighter didn't want to be bothered by such things and wanted to kick it over to open the way.  My ruling was he could kick it at DC12 STR check as part of his movement but if he failed he would have to use up his action to kick it again (i.e., I didn't want to charge him 5' or something per kick...just give him one go at it).  Had he succeeded I would have ruled the table smashing into the goblin behind it give the fighter advantage to his attack on the goblin.

In hindsight, I think the better ruling would have been that using an action to clear the table out of the way would have been *automatic*.

I have to admit to some reservations about this much free and loose play.  I think lots of improvised rulings like this lead to players trying to find ways to exploit things.  I am fine with asserting a ruling when the players try to take things too far, but it usually feels like the player perception is a double standard by the DM.  Games go downhill fast when the players think it's US vs. THE DM.
Yeah that's a problem with the "DM can I?" approach they are taking with the rules, with a many groups it can quickly lead to an US vs The DM, mentality if he doesn't allow what you ask for or the DM feels the players are taking liberties with the freedom to improvise.

  • Player Education:  When using a free-form mechanic like this, the players need some education on exactly what it means to 'attempt' anything you desire.  "I want to kick over the table and crush the goblin underneath" isn't freeform, its exactly the problems you're indicating.  "I want to kick over the table and maybe trip the goblin up somehow" is much better, resulting in the DM arbitrating the exact details of a success and failure.  Players need to be managed in this way in that they aren't expecting results that the DM doesn't find make sense.  The table incident happened to us in a pretty nifty way; jerked onto its side and put 75% in front of the doorway, that the Wizard could stand behind it with good cover and barrage.

  • Learning Curve:  Making rulings one minute and then changing them the next is all part of testing the mechanics.  Good players will even help point out flaws in the machinations of the ruling, even so far as to say 'that felt too powerful' or 'that felt kinda like a waste of an action, even though I succeeded.'  Either way, provided its calm and rational, input is input and useful.


As far as my experience as a DM, absolutely.  Some of the crazier ad hoc situations included the Wizard aiming the Ray of Frost at hands instead of just '0 movement' all the time.  Prevented 'actions' using the hand for the next round.  On a critical hit, it even disarmed a bugbear - kinda fun there.

Had a Dwarf who wanted to Johnny Cage the ogre - charged forward, dropped to his knees, head bent forward, and slid full-kilter into the Ogre's fun parts.  That was Vit Save vs. Prone, and disadvantage on the next round for the ogre (who happened to fall onto the Dwarf after rolling a 1 on its Vit save).

I love this stuff; we've been doing for 20 years since we realized how boring 2e's hack and slash mechanic was and just started making things up, heh.

As to the 'Us vs. the DM' scenario, I wouldn't know =/  Been playing with the same people for the longest time, we've all had cycles as DMs (though I've been the primary DM for 15 years), and the rulings never really come into issue.  I'm afraid I can't help there.     

Yeah, the problem I see with the DM Fiat (DM May I just sounds so caustic) is that new DMs just don't have the situational experience with Role Playing games to negotiate DM Fiat well. (I'm not suggesting that the OP is a new DM, but may be new to this style of play).

It's hard, and bad decisions will be made on all sides of the play table, but that's supposedly half of the fun.  We're all just here, throwing out ideas, getting crazy, flying by the seat of our pants.... 


Flying by the seat of your pants was (and some argue 'is') one style of D&D that was very popular back in the 70's and 80's, but so were bell-bottom jeans, Afros, Disco music, and punk hairdo's.  Everything was "cool, man, just chill out and enjoy the ride..."


Honestly, I think that as we've become a lot more sophisticated in the way we do just about everything, to include playing role-playing games, so a lot of the arguments that we need to regress D&D back to it's basic form of just do what you want and hope the DM will say "cool" or "no way, man" is not a really good place to start from.  

Yes, it does invoke a sense of nostalgia when I read about it, and even when I do it, but then just like every other time I get nostalgic, I realize that "That was then, and this is now" and I'm ready to go back to my sophisticated game that allows me to do sophisticated things that I don't have to get permission to do.  They're just a part of who/what my character is.  A concept that I drempt up and made real without having to "ask permission" to do.

5E D&D says that they will allow me to do this, but I'll have to buy the modules or expansions to do it.  So I'll be stuck with nostalgic game play and 30 year old mechanics until they can re-integrate all of the up to date rules, options, and features that I've become accustomed to using in the most modern version of the game.  I'm forced to go through a time warp and relive the last 27 years of playing this game until they get all the way back to where we are now and start giving me new material and more advanced/sophisticated ways to play the game.
 


5E D&D says that they will allow me to do this, but I'll have to buy the modules or expansions to do it.  So I'll be stuck with nostalgic game play and 30 year old mechanics until they can re-integrate all of the up to date rules, options, and features that I've become accustomed to using in the most modern version of the game.  I'm forced to go through a time warp and relive the last 27 years of playing this game until they get all the way back to where we are now and start giving me new material and more advanced/sophisticated ways to play the game.




I see what you are saying, but I think that the use of the word "modular" or "module" by WoTC has led to some misconceptions.   They are building the game in a modular fashion so that the core is as simple as it can be and "options" can be added as the DM/Players see fit.  Many of the "options" (or "modules") will be included at launch!!!   It will just be up to you and your group to decide which ones you will use.   Some of the examples that WoTC designers spoke about said that in one game, you may have some Theater of the Mind combats, roleplaying, exploring and then one or more combats using a grid with minis.  It will all be there for us to use, we just need to decide when and where (and if) we want to use it.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

To the OP: Yes I improvised as a DM.  I did most of it ahead of time (see the Troll, for example, in my playtest thread here: community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/...(not_a_win_for_us) ).  

A few occasions, however (see the trap as baracade in same thread) were done on the fly because a player said they wanted to do it.  Another player earlier said they wanted to "charge" (e.g. 4e Charge) so I decided to give them a modified version of the Orc power.

I found this interesting, but my comments would be as follows:

Charge I would have liked defined by the rules.  It is a basic combat action in a prior edition and should be a basic action in 5e as well.  this should not need to be improvised.

The trap door was well in the realm of DM discresion.  The map is unclear and so are the rules, so I decided the pit trap in the kobold entrance covered the entire 10' square.  I saw that it could "spring closed," requiring a DC check defined by the module to open.  So I just used that DC check when a player wanted to open it to create a place where the rats could not just jump over and engage.

What I did with the Troll was really nothing more than taking a monster and changing it some.  This is common practice for my group in 4e, where the DM will commonly use a monster as a base and alter it some.  I gave it some additonal fire based disadvantages and gave it a "flee" rule that was consistant with its flavor text.

My overall comments are that I don't like having to fill-in rules that seem very basic (e.g. the Charge).  that should be part of the game mechanics.  It seems to me no different than leaving out the attack roll and just telling the DM - here is AC, here are skill checks, you decide how you want to make combat work.  This is something from which 5e, frankly, is not far off.

The other two cited instances are really nothign special to 5e.  Even in 4e, there are situations that are not completely accoutned for and the GM has to work within the framework of the rules.  Had the same situation appeared in any other edition of D&D, I would have acted exactly the same.  Same thing vis-a-vis the troll.  The only difference being the that 4e DDI Adventure Tools make doing this very, very easy.

So, so far, both in my experience and in reading the examples above, 5e is causing no more true improvisation, but instead it is just forcing improvisation from both players and DMs to cover holes that really should be in the basic ruleset. 
Charge I would have liked defined by the rules.  It is a basic combat action in a prior edition and should be a basic action in 5e as well.  this should not need to be improvised.



My overall comments are that I don't like having to fill-in rules that seem very basic (e.g. the Charge).  that should be part of the game mechanics.  It seems to me no different than leaving out the attack roll and just telling the DM - here is AC, here are skill checks, you decide how you want to make combat work.  This is something from which 5e, frankly, is not far off.



So, so far, both in my experience and in reading the examples above, 5e is causing no more true improvisation, but instead it is just forcing improvisation from both players and DMs to cover holes that really should be in the basic ruleset. 



Bravo!
For the best example of how Modular -can- be done, take a gander at the 2e Player's Handbook.  You didn't have to purchase optional material just for the tactical version of the game.  After every simple mechanic, there was a section in red print for optional rules on the same subject matter.

I'm with you in that, if they just try to over-market every little optional tactical mechanic they can think of, I won't be impressed either (and I'm not even a fan of 4e).  I like the core mechanic as it is, but that doesn't mean I'll support Marketing Abuse to take advantage of a fanbase.

However, neither is the mechanic 'old.'  In fact, the only system to date that has supported a mechanical-freeform hybrid is 3.x, which is only circa 12 years old.  4e followed this same design; while they may have had rigid rules for combat and tactics, the DMG gave specific details on how to ad hoc any action the players wanted to attempt.

That being said, so many of the rules were mandatory and very 'brick wall' oriented, that it was hard for some of the older players to really get behind.

I've played every single edition of DnD (and even chainmail, though not in the 70s when it debuted lol) and only since the invention of modifiers from ability scores has true mechanically-supported, free-form playing existed.  In OD&D or AD&D/2e, you just rolled under an ability score with a penalty compared to a different roll that was under an ability score with a penalty or bonus and... it was horribly messy.

Speaking that 3.5 and 4e were the exact same damn system, swapping vancian for partial vancian with at-wills and Encounters, 5e doesn't feel old to me at all.  The only nostalgia it brings back to me is this inexplicable feel.  It doesn't use even remotely the same mechanics, aside from an altered Vancian magic (so did 3.x and 4e), so I have no clue why it gives me nostalgia.  But it's sure as heck not mechanically.
Last week I had a player that was new to D&D, which is always a good example for those players that have adapted their choices to the rules. The player rushed some goblins that said he wanted to hit them all in one fell swoop. i called for 3 attacks with disadvantage...



The problem with that, seems to me if you allow it once, why don't you allow it a second time, or a third or every attack. Suddenly the character is three times more powerful than intended.

And if you change how it works because you've realised it is overpowered suddenly you aren't playing in a consistant environment and players have no idea about the abilities of their characters.



Ah yes, far better to have made an error once & then kept on making it for the rest of the campaign rather than simply correcting it to be a cool one-off.

But if you were at my table, this happened, & you gave me your consistant enviroment argument?  I'd simply ask the cleric for a check (what type depends upon the edition).
Whatever they rolled?  They'd see a sign/omen/portent and realize that the gods were at work behind the shift.
So now that the uncertainty is known part of the story, what're you going to do?  

One of the most prevalent things I noticed in my playtest run is that I had to come up with improvised rulings on actions constantly.  

I noticed that too.  On top of trying to run a module I'd barely had time to look over while tired, burned out from two cons in two weekends and recovering from the flu, I had to make some sort of rules decisions for ever blessed thing my players did.  Skills were the biggest offender.  

It did not endear D&DNext to me.   I hope it'll be a little more put-together for the next playtest.


Hey everyone,

I have an improvise question.

With most maneuvers, it is easy to decide if the maneuver is part of a  move, an action or both part of a move and an action.  For example:

Bull rush/push  (move & action) 
trip attempt (action)
overrun (move)
grapple/overbear (action)
disarm attempt (action)
vault over something (move)
dive under (move)
swing from or slide from something (move)

Here are the ones that are tricky.  What do you think they should be?  Should they be part of a move, an action, or just an incidental free action?

Push over a barrel or heavy object   (                         )
distract or feint opponent  (                          )

 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I think that it depends on the consequence you see to that action.

Did pushing over the barrel clear or create difficult terrain?   Did it create or clear cover/partial cover?  Did the distration/feint give Advantage to something (hide or attacks)?  etc.  e.g. Did it do something that, you, as a player would say - "yes, it was worth not attacking that turn to do [_____]."?  If so, then it should cost the action.  If not, e.g., if it did something minor or just dramatic, then it should be part of the incidental free actions.
Push over a barrel or heavy object   (                         )
distract or feint opponent  (                          )

Aaeamdar (you must have been at the front of the line when the vowels were handed out) has it right.

As to my own examples of improvised actions, my two favorite were:
1) The dwarf fighter kicking a very full chamber pot in the face of a dark cultist
2) The human cleric trying to toss his vestments over the head of the medusa

To those disliking the "DM May I?" approach and "DM Fiat", how is it any different than D&D has always been?  There have always been actions not covered by the rules.



To those disliking the "DM May I?" approach and "DM Fiat", how is it any different than D&D has always been?  There have always been actions not covered by the rules.




It is no different in kind; it is greatly different in bredth.

As I meantioned above, I can see no reason why "Charge" or "Bullrush", etc. should now require again, improvisation.  Some basics about combat are good to have predefined.

I will also say that I do not "dislike" "DM May I?"; I have this in every game in some way or another.  I just find it unecessary to take a giant step backwards in a new itteration of the game.  As I mentioned above, if very basic things are going to be missing, why provide anything at all.  I can run a whole game of Caves of Caos (and, of course, for that matter, an entire campaign) with no rules at all.  5e is pretty close to that.
Because no matter how strict the rules become, there are always group who see oversimplification as a problem.  In example, if you just define that Bull Rush is opposed Strength checks, you create the following problems:

1.) A Dexterity-based creature feels jipped because they didn't have the chance to simply avoid being touched in the first place.
2.) A more stout creature, as determine my Constitution, feels his pure bulk and density had absolute no impact on being shoved around by a 90 lbs Elven Fighter with a good strength.

So, defining the rules as 'The target can oppose with any realistic check' then makes having a predefined ruleset silly in the first place.  Not to mention, Dextrous characters are just as likely to push people away using the basic thematic of Karate - use your opponent's size and weight against them, needing very little strength.

I'm guessing (and its purely an educated guess of having witness how WoTC has done things recently) that all these mechanics (bull rush, trip, etc) will be labeled as 'suggested mechanics' for handling these situations.  Those wanting more 'set-in-stone' predescribed mechanics will have them, and everyone else can ignore them.  Its kind of silly how much the phrasing of something matters to one fanbase or another.
To keep in the spirit of the playtest and the current state of the rules, I tried to improvise the DC's fairly and consistently.  I guess while that frees we DM's from having to scour through rules to find the right one for the exact situation, it runs the risk of putting too much on the DM.  At one point I wanted a STR check based on a player kicking down a table standing up, and I wanted it to be a roll (so at least DC10) and in the 5 seconds I thought about it (so as not to derail the combat flow) I figured a 14 STR person should have about a 50/50 chance of knocking it down as part of a movement...DC12.  A failed roll made me further improvise that the player could attempt a more focused attempt to knock it down as part of an action, and I gave them a DC10 chance.  Also failed.




note that this isen't alouwed in the playtest rules as a improvised action costs a action,.


So, defining the rules as 'The target can oppose with any realistic check' then makes having a predefined ruleset silly in the first place.  Not to mention, Dextrous characters are just as likely to push people away using the basic thematic of Karate - use your opponent's size and weight against them, needing very little strength.



i actually believe that it's Aikido but that's just me being pedantic! you make a very valid point and i like the way DnD Next gives the DM the freedom to make those decisions.

Hey everyone,

I have an improvise question.

With most maneuvers, it is easy to decide if the maneuver is part of a  move, an action or both part of a move and an action.  For example:

Bull rush/push  (move & action) 
trip attempt (action)
overrun (move)



Trip and overrun can both end up with the enemy prone if successful, so why is trip an action and overrun only a move? 

vault over something (move)
dive under (move)
swing from or slide from something (move)



For these the real questions are, is it a check or automatic, does it cost any movement?

Here are the ones that are tricky.  What do you think they should be?  Should they be part of a move, an action, or just an incidental free action?

Push over a barrel or heavy object
distract or feint opponent 



Both are actions, and hence like Bull Rush or Trip a lot of the time not worth doing, as giving up your attack for the turn isn't worth the effort.



To those disliking the "DM May I?" approach and "DM Fiat", how is it any different than D&D has always been?  There have always been actions not covered by the rules.




It is no different in kind; it is greatly different in bredth.

As I meantioned above, I can see no reason why "Charge" or "Bullrush", etc. should now require again, improvisation.  Some basics about combat are good to have predefined.

I will also say that I do not "dislike" "DM May I?"; I have this in every game in some way or another.  I just find it unecessary to take a giant step backwards in a new itteration of the game.  As I mentioned above, if very basic things are going to be missing, why provide anything at all.  I can run a whole game of Caves of Caos (and, of course, for that matter, an entire campaign) with no rules at all.  5e is pretty close to that.

This is about where I am. I'd like to see some combat actions predefined and perhaps some general guidelines as to what an improvised action can accomplish. Not only will this give some assistance to new DM's who have yet to develop an instintive understanding of what a single turn's action is worth, but it will give assistance to players who look at the "improvise" entry and see a giant question mark.

The way I see it, if I'm playing a competent combatant, they likely have a list of tricks and maneuvers such as trips, feints, etc. that they have been taught or developed and have an idea of how and when to use. Having only the barest improvisation entry to cover those means I have to guess at what my character knows, which leads to situations where I, as a player, makes decisions that my character would know to be foolish, doomed to failure, or simply superfluous.

This is less of a problem in the current rules set if you are playing a spellcaster, because the tricks your character knows how to do are, well, spelled out in the rules.
This is less of a problem in the current rules set if you are playing a spellcaster, because the tricks your character knows how to do are, well, spelled out in the rules.



Except some playtest groups have reported things like the wizard using Ray of Frost to freeze an opponents hands together.

I also wonder if one we introduce flying creatures and rules for them it isn't a little overpowered. Since under previous rules system any flying creature without hover that has it's speed reduced to 0 would fall out of the sky.

Others have reported using Shocking Grasp through puddles, or metal poles, and I think one setting fire to the the oily Grease produced by the spell of the same name.
Except some playtest groups have reported things like the wizard using Ray of Frost to freeze an opponents hands together.

I also wonder if one we introduce flying creatures and rules for them it isn't a little overpowered. Since under previous rules system any flying creature without hover that has it's speed reduced to 0 would fall out of the sky.

Others have reported using Shocking Grasp through puddles, or metal poles, and I think one setting fire to the the oily Grease produced by the spell of the same name.

Very true. My point wasn't so much that spellcasters can't improvise with spells, but that they have a robust set of defined, effective actions as a starting point that they can improvise from, which works well. Non-spellcasters lack that variety of defined actions, which leads to more flailing in the dark trying to figure out what they can accomplish if they want to do something besides damage.

(As a side note, my group also has misgivings about how powerful Ray of Frost is for an at-will spell, but that's another topic entirely.)
 
Except some playtest groups have reported things like the wizard using Ray of Frost to freeze an opponents hands together.

I also wonder if one we introduce flying creatures and rules for them it isn't a little overpowered. Since under previous rules system any flying creature without hover that has it's speed reduced to 0 would fall out of the sky.

This ones pretty straight forward IMHO. You can reduce some movement to 0 because you freeze their feet to the floor. You cannot freeze someones hands together unless their hands are together (they are clapping etc). You could try to feeze someones weapon to a wall or other object if their weapon were to be frozen as the blade etc comes close enough to a wall or similar and this would also be a tricky maneauvre to pull off so this might be with Disadvantage.
Freezing a flying creature would be difficult as it has nothing to anchor it against but I'd say the creature becomes clumbsy or is forced to land (I would say it doesn't fall out of the sky).

Long and short of it, the limitations of the spells are the domain of the DM, any improvised use of spells should be encouraged the same as the improvised PC actions but there should be limitations using Advantage\Disadvantage or opposed saves\checks to avoid the effect.
I did improvise quite a bit, and to be honest, I very much preferred having the freedom to make the story entertaining for everyone, as well as maintaining sensibilities.  Being able to improvise also kept things moving at a fast pace, rather than slowing down the action to calculate or rules lawyer.  

All in all, I think the system as presented encourages improvisation while providing good guidelines for how to improvise.  In my opinion, this is one of the strengths of the new rules. 
I improvised a bit.
I like that I can.
I like page 42 and the equivilent in 5e.
I also think there should be some rules for a few more "basic" actions, such as Charge and Bullrush.

In the game I played in, I threw a able out of the way, using an action and dealing no damage.
But that gave the wizard a place to stand to burning hands 4 hobgoblins instead of 2. Well worth giving up my action.

And in another, as part of my move, I jumped 2 barrels being used as a blockade. This got me behind the lines so instead of swinging at one Hobgoblin, I was able to Cleave through 2! Yay for the "boring, underpowered" fighter!!
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"


i actually believe that it's Aikido but that's just me being pedantic! you make a very valid point and i like the way DnD Next gives the DM the freedom to make those decisions.




As far as the specific martial art, yes, Aikido.  However, my absolute bias against Japanese martial arts in favor of Chinese martial arts disallows me to care which specific Japanese martial art it is lol.

Thanks for that though ;)
 
Except some playtest groups have reported things like the wizard using Ray of Frost to freeze an opponents hands together.

I also wonder if one we introduce flying creatures and rules for them it isn't a little overpowered. Since under previous rules system any flying creature without hover that has it's speed reduced to 0 would fall out of the sky.

This ones pretty straight forward IMHO. You can reduce some movement to 0 because you freeze their feet to the floor. You cannot freeze someones hands together unless their hands are together (they are clapping etc). You could try to feeze someones weapon to a wall or other object if their weapon were to be frozen as the blade etc comes close enough to a wall or similar and this would also be a tricky maneauvre to pull off so this might be with Disadvantage.
Freezing a flying creature would be difficult as it has nothing to anchor it against but I'd say the creature becomes clumbsy or is forced to land (I would say it doesn't fall out of the sky).

Long and short of it, the limitations of the spells are the domain of the DM, any improvised use of spells should be encouraged the same as the improvised PC actions but there should be limitations using Advantage\Disadvantage or opposed saves\checks to avoid the effect.



See, but the issue of 'common sense' rulings; here it works both ways, unfortunately.  You say that Ray of Frost works because it freezes the feet to the floor.  What would happen if only one foot was frozen to the floor?  That wouldn't really reduce your speed to zero, but sure it'd be hampering.

Assuming both feet are affixed to the floor means it can affect two targets not immediately touching (unless your combat stance is the worst stance of all times and your feet are touching).

In that same assumption, both hands could be affected at a similar distance.

For every nit-picking argument against something working, there's always a nit-picking argument for it.  So I just measure intent to intent.

The intent is, you can't use either leg to leave your square.  So that same intent would be you can't use either hand in motion.  (I find this greatly overpowered, which is why I apply disadvantage on called shots.)  25% less likely to work makes up for the 25% increase in power from mobility to function, at least for me as a DM.

For the most part I agree with Zhandra in this thread:  sometimes rules like bullrush and charge are better left not spelled out because the moment you spell them out you've limited them.  It's much more flexible for a DM to have the option to adjucate on the spot rather than have it defined in the rules, which will invariably either have exceptions or warrant exceptions (and thus complexity and thus time requirement).  Plus, I found that for our groups, when you give someone a list of things that have been ruled - like bullrush, trip, charge - they tend to treat that list as the entire list of options that they can choose from, instead of a few examples of things that can be done.  This was absolutely true for our adventures where all common actions were defined:  almost no improvisation happened because we already had a menu of actions and we just had to pick what we thought tasted best (not realizing that the entire list was quite bland and needed some imaginative spice). This also led to some boring combat because the most effective option 99% of the time was to use a power that did damage.  Lather, rinse, repeat (for an hour or three).



Unrelated:  the most interesting thing to me so far reading these forums is still the constant struggle between people who believe that the most efficient option is typically best and people who believe the most creative option is typically best.  These two perspectives have a hard time reconciling the other's view because they both believe the other option is a waste of time.


Unrelated:  the most interesting thing to me so far reading these forums is still the constant struggle between people who believe that the most efficient option is typically best and people who believe the most creative option is typically best.  These two perspectives have a hard time reconciling the other's view because they both believe the other option is a waste of time.




I agree.  The big question is, can these two types of people play at the same D&D table in the same game session?  To that I think the answer is yes.  For 5e, WoTC just has to give both of these players what they need.

Cheers.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 


For the most part I agree with Zhandra in this thread:  sometimes rules like bullrush and charge are better left not spelled out because the moment you spell them out you've limited them.


Limited, which means you can also balance them, and the DM doesn't have to worry about them so much.  OTOH, if there are no such rules, eventually, a PC is going to want to charge or bullrush, and then you're engaging in rules design right there at the table - and if you make it too good, they're going to want to start charging or bullrushing all the time, if you don't make it good enough, they won't bother, and if you make it different every time, they'll lose all respect for you because you'll look like you have no clue what you're doing.

It's much more flexible for a DM to have the option to adjucate on the spot rather than have it defined in the rules, which will invariably either have exceptions or warrant exceptions (and thus complexity and thus time requirement).

It's actually a lot more flexible to have a decent rule, and make the rare exception.  You can still tweak things at need, but most of the time you're free to deal with other things than just making the basic game work round after round.

Plus, I found that for our groups, when you give someone a list of things that have been ruled - like bullrush, trip, charge - they tend to treat that list as the entire list of options that they can choose from, instead of a few examples of things that can be done.

If players aren't reaching beyond their available options and powers, it might just be because those options are adequate.  If players are improvising every round, it might just be because the existing options are inadequate - or because you're letting them get away with murder.  

This was absolutely true for our 4.0 adventures:  almost no improvisation happened because we already had a menu of actions and we just had to pick what we thought tasted best (not realizing that the entire list was quite bland and needed some imaginative spice). This also led to some boring combat because the most effective option 99% of the time was to use a power that did damage.  Lather, rinse, repeat (for an hour, or three on solos).

Simply must bash 4e, huh?  4e has served me very well as a DM.  I tried DMing 3e and it was a nightmare, the sheer amount of work I had to put into it for so little payoff (hours to create an NPC or monster that the PCs would kill in one round), and the agonizing process of running through the trainwrecks that each action could turn into.  (I can understand not wanting rules for grappling or charging if the 3e rules are  the ones you've seen!)  4e is so much easier, I can't imagine why anyone would want to go back.  I'd much rather worry about my story and NPCs and setting the scene and roleplaying than constantly make rulings and bargain with players over what their characters can do, not to mention having to try to adjust encounters on the fly to achieve some modicum of balance.


Unrelated:  the most interesting thing to me so far reading these forums is still the constant struggle between people who believe that the most efficient option is typically best and people who believe the most creative option is typically best.  These two perspectives have a hard time reconciling the other's view because they both believe the other option is a waste of time.

There's no reason the most efficient option can't be made or described creatively, or that the most creative option can't also be the most efficient.  

OTOH, you might have an issue if the most efficient option is always the /same/ (vs the Kobolds, for instance, making a plain attack for the fighter or casting Magic Missle for the Wiz was generally the most efficient option, because it was an auto-kill).   The wizard led with Sleep, then Light to give the Kobolds disadvantage, but after that, it was Magic Missle every round.
I felt like I would improvise in every edition. Even in 3.5 there were many sitiuations that the rules did not clearly call for or was a well thought up action by the player. Either way though in the DM rules it did say that if the PC's ability score is 5 higher than the DC of the check it is an automatic success.

... constant struggle between people who believe that the most efficient option is typically best and people who believe the most creative option is typically best.  These two perspectives have a hard time reconciling the other's view because they both believe the other option is a waste of time.




I agree.  The big question is, can these two types of people play at the same D&D table in the same game session?  To that I think the answer is yes.  For 5e, WoTC just has to give both of these players what they need.

Cheers.



Well, I hope you're right!  It would be a shame to lose half the gaming audience.  What's interesting to me is that these two audiences exist within D&D.  It seems a good thing, and I guess WotC must worry about losing one group or the other.
My group, which plays 3.5, had a lot of rules arguments last week. I'd make a ruling, they'd want to argue the rules.  I subsequently spent a lot of time on the rules hotline they had this weekend.  They gave some very specific answers to my questions, but also emphasized that this version of the game is trying to put power back in the hands of the DM to make decisions.  My personal take is that I'll make a ruling, and if I make a mistake that is really harmful to the party I'll make it up somehow with extra healing potions, healing kits, etc.
My group, which plays 3.5, had a lot of rules arguments last week. I'd make a ruling, they'd want to argue the rules.  I subsequently spent a lot of time on the rules hotline they had this weekend.  They gave some very specific answers to my questions, but also emphasized that this version of the game is trying to put power back in the hands of the DM to make decisions.  My personal take is that I'll make a ruling, and if I make a mistake that is really harmful to the party I'll make it up somehow with extra healing potions, healing kits, etc.



I have one rules lawyer in my group and I was really afraid that in the playtests he would make a stink.  For some reason, I got lucky.  He didn't argue any rulings.  He let the game play out without interruption.  I'm not sure why.  The game really moves along when the players don't get in the way.   

Cheers. 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Limited, which means you can also balance them, and the DM doesn't have to worry about them so much.  OTOH, if there are no such rules, eventually, a PC is going to want to charge or bullrush, and then you're engaging in rules design right there at the table - and if you make it too good, they're going to want to start charging or bullrushing all the time, if you don't make it good enough, they won't bother, and if you make it different every time, they'll lose all respect for you because you'll look like you have no clue what you're doing.


This is exactly the difference in philosophy I was speaking about.  You're talking about what's useful to someone who is coming from - I believe - a perspective where the most effective/efficient option is always the best.  In this case, you're worried that unless a rule is balanced by the game designers, the possibility exists that the DM will come up with a ruling on the fly that is either too punishing to be effiencient enough to use or too useful and therefore extremely efficient and so players will abuse it.  In my opinion, DMs adjucating on the fly is impossible to avoid:  so embrace it as part of the core of the game.


It's impossible to come up with a rule for every situation, or else you'd have a basic handbook that is like a dictionary.  And once you start ruling "only common situations" you're back to the menu of options thing that I mentioned.  So instead:  give the DM the training and the leeway to make intelligent decisions that fit that group.  Also, empower the players to be creative but also advise them that sometimes rule calls are a bit fluid and something that is abusable ultimately doesn't make the game fun for anyone.  We're not talking about programming a computer game where logic is set in stone:  we're talking about human beings, where give-and-take is core concept.


Ultimately, all rules are limiting:  that's the nature of rules.  Discovering where the line best lays between having constructive boundries and having creative freedom is the entire point of any storytelling game, and certainly not something that can be solved by one company for every group, ever.  My understanding of the 5.0 philosophy is that they are trying to build up a core, basic set of rules that only barely contain the players and give them guidelines with which to start.  Further modules and supplements will be released that can be added to taste in order to satisfy those who crave a more defined, limited, and "officially-balanced" approach.  The important thing to remember is that neither of these positions are wrong.  In the same way that not everyone enjoys the same flavors of ice cream, not everyone enjoys the same flavors of D&D.  But if you make enough options, you'll be able to please nearly everyone.  My advice is to avoid getting mad when other players are enjoying flavors that you don't like.




Simply must bash 4e, huh?


...Huh?


I tried DMing 3e and it was a nightmare...   4e is so much easier, I can't imagine why anyone would want to go back.

 

I didn't think I was bashing 4.0, but these statements indicate that someone clearly got their hackles up.  I'll go back and edit my post to remove the word "4.0" so that no one feels like they are being personally attacked.

To keep in the spirit of the playtest and the current state of the rules, I tried to improvise the DC's fairly and consistently.  I guess while that frees we DM's from having to scour through rules to find the right one for the exact situation, it runs the risk of putting too much on the DM.  At one point I wanted a STR check based on a player kicking down a table standing up, and I wanted it to be a roll (so at least DC10) and in the 5 seconds I thought about it (so as not to derail the combat flow) I figured a 14 STR person should have about a 50/50 chance of knocking it down as part of a movement...DC12.  A failed roll made me further improvise that the player could attempt a more focused attempt to knock it down as part of an action, and I gave them a DC10 chance.  Also failed.




note that this isen't alouwed in the playtest rules as a improvised action costs a action,.



Well, as far as I can tell it isn't explicitly allowed or disallowed.  I used existing rules as guidance.

Jumping and Climbing and Standing Up from Prone are all parts of movement.  So kicking something over seemed similar.


I have one rules lawyer in my group and I was really afraid that in the playtests he would make a stink.  For some reason, I got lucky.  He didn't argue any rulings.  He let the game play out without interruption.  I'm not sure why.  The game really moves along when the players don't get in the way.   

Cheers. 



Not trying to say anything with this, but the bolded part struck me as awesome, funny, and sad, in equal parts.