Design Concept: You've Already Lost

It has been mentioned in previous discussions, but I have not yet seen the issue addressed directly:

Should it be possible to fail the game during character creation?  If a player is inexperienced and just playing it by ear during the character-generation process, should that penalize the player with a weak or incompetent character later on?  Or should char-gen be restricted to only deciding amongst several options, each of which is no better than another, so that the real game can be played on equal footing after you all meet in the tavern?

Some people say that if you're playing 3E and you're not a spellcaster then you've already lost; it's also been suggested that 3E was designed with "trap" options to penalize players who hadn't mastered the system.  Some people insist that it should be possible to make a weak character in the rules, but only if you try (like playing a low-Dex rogue in 4E).  Some people insist that it's okay for spellcasters to be "just better" if they're also harder to play, requiring more micro-management and effort by the player, or even that they should dominate gameplay over the non-casters because it makes sense from a verisimilitude standpoint.

Having heard the basic arguments on both sides before, my Ravenclaw aspect has to admit a certain fondness for the ivory tower "game" of optimizing within the system rules to create a "best" character, but my inner Hufflepuff insists that it will be more fun for everyone if all of the players get to contribute equally without anyone just showing off, and Gryffindor insists that I'm cheating and wants to punch me in the face for being a jerk.  Slytherin just thinks everyone else is an idiot for not looking up the answers online.

What do you all think?

The metagame is not the game.

I'm for players making the character they want, with choices being roughly equal even when different like caster vs. martial or explorer vs. "face." No trap options.

This would include enabling players to make incompetent characters, if they wish.
I think they should strive to make all options equal.  But any complex game will still have system masters.  It's hard to avoid.  Even 4e had them.  

The issue is effective synergies.  Each power can be ok standalone but what about combinations.  What about groups that pick powers to complement each other?  That surely is ok I'd think.

As long as each player in my group feels useful, I don't have an issue.  I didn't have an issue with any of my campaigns down through the years.  Did I have some characters that were better but better like Batman is better than Robin.  They weren't better like Professor X is better than me.  Everyone could always contribute.  So as long as that is maintained I'm happy.
It has been mentioned in previous discussions, but I have not yet seen the issue addressed directly:

Should it be possible to fail the game during character creation?  If a player is inexperienced and just playing it by ear during the character-generation process, should that penalize the player with a weak or incompetent character later on?  Or should char-gen be restricted to only deciding amongst several options, each of which is no better than another, so that the real game can be played on equal footing after you all meet in the tavern?

Some people say that if you're playing 3E and you're not a spellcaster then you've already lost; it's also been suggested that 3E was designed with "trap" options to penalize players who hadn't mastered the system.  Some people insist that it should be possible to make a weak character in the rules, but only if you try (like playing a low-Dex rogue in 4E).  Some people insist that it's okay for spellcasters to be "just better" if they're also harder to play, requiring more micro-management and effort by the player, or even that they should dominate gameplay over the non-casters because it makes sense from a verisimilitude standpoint.

Having heard the basic arguments on both sides before, my Ravenclaw aspect has to admit a certain fondness for the ivory tower "game" of optimizing within the system rules to create a "best" character, but my inner Hufflepuff insists that it will be more fun for everyone if all of the players get to contribute equally without anyone just showing off, and Gryffindor insists that I'm cheating and wants to punch me in the face for being a jerk.  Slytherin just thinks everyone else is an idiot for not looking up the answers online.

What do you all think?


Slytherin=CharOp?
I think that no choices should be designed as better or worse, but some undoubtedly will be, which rewards system mastery. A fine thing as long as it's not a design goal.
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Stuff I Heard Mike Say (subject to change): Multiclassing will be different than in 3.5! That's important. There is no level cap; classes advance ala 3.5 epic levels after a set level. Mundane (AKA fighter and co) encounter and daily powers will probably not be in the PHB (for the lack of space), but nor will they be in some obscure book released halfway through the edition.
You can't please everyone, but you can please me. I DO NOT WANT A FREAKING 4E REPEAT. I DO NOT WANT A MODULE THAT MIMICS MY FAVORITE EDITION. I WANT MODULES THAT MIMIC A PLAYSTYLE AND CAN BE INTERCHANGED TO COMPLETELY CHANGE THE FEEL, BUT NOT THE THEME, OF D&D. A perfect example would be an espionage module, or desert survival. A BAD EXAMPLE IS HEALING SURGES. WE HAVE 4E FOR THOSE! A good example is a way to combine a mundane and self healing module, a high-survival-rate module, and a separate pool of healing resource module.
In an RPG there is no 'winner' or 'loser'. That's the beauty of this kind of game. I think it's far more fun to play a character with a serious flaw or two, than with the 'best build' (god, I hate that term). I couldn't care less about min/maxing my character and 'system mastery'. I come up with a cool concept for a character first and try to design it as close as I can get to it within the rules of the game. I don't look at the rules of the game first and then attempt to build the optimum character. That just seems like you're looking for a way to 'beat the system', which I find kind of cheesy.
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
Well that's kind of my problem with 3e. Unless my character concept is some flavor of mage, I end up a sidekick/ineffective meatshield to the mages. Why should the wizard use telekinetic thrust to get my face eating, skull breaking, ear ripping pyrokinetic grappler close enough to engage the enemy when just dropping a bigby's will have much the same effect and greater chance of success?
In an RPG there is no 'winner' or 'loser'. That's the beauty of this kind of game. I think it's far more fun to play a character with a serious flaw or two, than with the 'best build' (god, I hate that term). I couldn't care less about min/maxing my character and 'system mastery'. I come up with a cool concept for a character first and try to design it as close as I can get to it within the rules of the game. I don't look at the rules of the game first and then attempt to build the optimum character. That just seems like you're looking for a way to 'beat the system', which I find kind of cheesy.



Much agreed.  This thread seems to approach the game from some sort of Min-Max strategy aspect.  So what if I play a fighter!  In my game, he's a champion of the local people that has punched out more than a few raiders.  His skills are known throughout the town!  He's even successfully pumbled strong spellcasters into magical pulp.  In that regard, he's a "winner" in my book.  As far as I'm concerned, story and character development are more important than a certain build or class.

Crazed undead horror posing as a noble and heroic forum poster!

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
I didn't really like 3e (and especially 4e). The only bits I saw of it were from the Neverwinter Nights computer games and while the games were great, I didn't think the mechanics would carry over well to tabletop. Too many feats and more importantly, too many bad feats. Each class always took the same feats, because they were geared specifically to them, which I find boring.


My group still plays 2e (I call it 2.75 since we use the Players Option books and got rid of thac0) because overall, we find it the most flexible edition, by far, especially with the PO books. There isn't any kind of character I can't create with that system. Every class has it's upside and downside. Can some classes do certain things better than another? Sure, but so what? Every class can't do everything well and that's ok. I only care about the character I create for the game. I don't compare it to everyone elses character trying to get the best results. I play what I want to play and I have a lot of fun doing it.
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."


Having heard the basic arguments on both sides before, my Ravenclaw aspect has to admit a certain fondness for the ivory tower "game" of optimizing within the system rules to create a "best" character, but my inner Hufflepuff insists that it will be more fun for everyone if all of the players get to contribute equally without anyone just showing off, and Gryffindor insists that I'm cheating and wants to punch me in the face for being a jerk.  Slytherin just thinks everyone else is an idiot for not looking up the answers online.

What do you all think?


Slytherin=CharOp?
I think that no choices should be designed as better or worse, but some undoubtedly will be, which rewards system mastery. A fine thing as long as it's not a design goal.



Slytherin's defining trait was ambition at any cost (or "we be evilzz!!" for those more critical of Rowling's universe, but today isn't the day for that).  A "Slytherin D&D player" (did I really just type that?) would realistically be expected to optimize their characters.  Malfoy wouldn't have any time for that "Run" or "Nimble Fingers" B.S.
What I think;


Some people say that if you're playing 3E and you're not a spellcaster then you've already lost;



Well, I guess they're free to believe any foolish thing they like.
Starting with it being possible to win/lose at an RPG.
I just wish they'd be quiet about it.
 

it's also been suggested that 3E was designed with "trap" options to penalize players who hadn't mastered the system.



They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone. 
  

Some people insist that it should be possible to make a weak character in the rules, but only if you try (like playing a low-Dex rogue in 4E).  



You say this like it's a bad thing....

100% agree with them.  I support your choice to make & play the character you want.
So if you want to play with a handicap?  More power to you.

But I also fully support the possibility of making an average-weak character through random stat generation.  Afterall, those are possible outcomes if you choose to roll stats....
I don't want players to accidentally1 or inadvertently2 get pushed off the stage (where "the spotlight" just isn't ever going to be on them).

A new player who says "I want to be a mighty warrior" needs to not be at an inherent "spotlight disadvantage" compared to the new player who says "I want to be a mighty wizard."

On a semi-related topic, the "Wizard" should be just as viable a choice for the new player as the "Warrior."  Popular, standard fantasy archetypes shouldn't be intended to be "out of reach" for new players.


1 Players who choose to "roll the dice" for their character need to accept the risks it entails - but it should be a choice, not a mandate.

2 Neither by their own "poor" choices, nor by another player's "good" choices.
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Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
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What I think;

 



Some people say that if you're playing 3E and you're not a spellcaster then you've already lost;



 


Well, I guess they're free to believe any foolish thing they like.


Starting with it being possible to win/lose at an RPG.


I just wish they'd be quiet about it.


 


 


it's also been suggested that 3E was designed with "trap" options to penalize players who hadn't mastered the system.


 


They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.


Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.


 


 


Some people insist that it should be possible to make a weak character in the rules, but only if you try (like playing a low-Dex rogue in 4E). 



 


You say this like it's a bad thing....


 


100% agree with them.  I support your choice to make & play the character you want.


So if you want to play with a handicap?  More power to you.


 


But I also fully support the possibility of making an average-weak character through random stat generation.  Afterall, those are possible outcomes if you choose to roll stats....


+1 to all of the above!

Personally, I like having a bit of complexity to play with. I (and the rest of my group) were true munchkins in the early days of 3.0, and we loved it. In the later days of 3.5, we had turned our munchkin powers towards making odd-ball (and occasionally terrible) character concepts viable in an "average" game. We loved that too.  


I've said before that the problem with "imbalance" between characters comes more from differing expectations among players. Yes, a straight fighter may suck compared to a straight wizard at high levels in some editions. We had plenty of melee monstrosities in our games that were highly valuable party members though (even if they were multiclassed to do it). The way we played as a group affected our experiences and made them quite different to a lot of what we see on these forums. I'd like to see a 5E were we could return to the style of play that we enjoyed the most, without some of the excesses that came with the older system.


I think more guidance should be given in the DMG about managing expectations of play style among a group. That’s a real-world issue more than a game mechanics issue, but I think it's been largely ignored in favour of making a system so water-tight that it plays more like a computer game in recent years.     

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/12.jpg)


Should it be possible to fail the game during character creation?  If a player is inexperienced and just playing it by ear during the character-generation process, should that penalize the player with a weak or incompetent character later on?  Or should char-gen be restricted to only deciding amongst several options, each of which is no better than another, so that the real game can be played on equal footing after you all meet in the tavern?


 
Big question. In the days of 3e, the options available in character generation were legion relative to other editions because of the liberal multi-classing rules. I personally think that's a fail on the part of the system. Allow me to elaborate.

I can't recall how many classes there were by the end of 3e. 25? I'm guessing. Let's say 25. That means that even if you only multiclass between 2 classes, you have 600 possible class combinations. That's a lot, but if you go to 3 classes, we have 13,800 combinations. So you have 25 single-class choices plus 600 dual-class choices plus 13,800 three-class choices gives you 14,425 combinations possible.

Some might say that's a good thing. The problem is that right away optimization comes into play. We don't have to go to Pun Pun extremes either, the simple fact is that 14,425 class choices are not going to be anything even close to balanced. It just isn't possible. I get that some players like to optimize and some don't, and that's fine in a system where choices are reasonably finite, but with this you have a broken system. (I recall playing 3e games where one of the PCs was doing 50-80 damage per round, as a non-spellcaster, by the 6th or 7th level. We also had a bard who was lucky to do 8 points of damage per round. That kind of dichotomy simply breaks the game).

What's the point of having 14,425 class combinations when 97% of them are brokenly under-powered and 2.75% are brokenly over-powered? That's not a great char gen system that gives players the freedom to make whatever they want, it's just a broken mess. I'd rather be given just the 0.25% of those options that actually work and jetison the rest of the nonsense.





Should it be possible to fail the game during character creation?  If a player is inexperienced and just playing it by ear during the character-generation process, should that penalize the player with a weak or incompetent character later on?  Or should char-gen be restricted to only deciding amongst several options, each of which is no better than another, so that the real game can be played on equal footing after you all meet in the tavern?


 
Big question. In the days of 3e, the options available in character generation were legion relative to other editions because of the liberal multi-classing rules. I personally think that's a fail on the part of the system. Allow me to elaborate.

I can't recall how many classes there were by the end of 3e. 25? I'm guessing. Let's say 25. That means that even if you only multiclass between 2 classes, you have 600 possible class combinations. That's a lot, but if you go to 3 classes, we have 13,800 combinations. So you have 25 single-class choices plus 600 dual-class choices plus 13,800 three-class choices gives you 14,425 combinations possible.

Some might say that's a good thing. The problem is that right away optimization comes into play. We don't have to go to Pun Pun extremes either, the simple fact is that 14,425 class choices are not going to be anything even close to balanced. It just isn't possible. I get that some players like to optimize and some don't, and that's fine in a system where choices are reasonably finite, but with this you have a broken system. (I recall playing 3e games where one of the PCs was doing 50-80 damage per round, as a non-spellcaster, by the 6th or 7th level. We also had a bard who was lucky to do 8 points of damage per round. That kind of dichotomy simply breaks the game).

What's the point of having 14,425 class combinations when 97% of them are brokenly under-powered and 2.75% are brokenly over-powered? That's not a great char gen system that gives players the freedom to make whatever they want, it's just a broken mess. I'd rather be given just the 0.25% of those options that actually work and jetison the rest of the nonsense.







Right on. That's exactly how I see it. Also, what you quoted. Not everyone who plays D&D are going to spend hours looking through books to make a character. They'll make something off the cuff, flavorful and fun. If the system penalizes them for that, and rewards the metagamers, it's caeased to be fun for those people, IMO.

I mostly wanted to stay out of this thread, since the idea was to gather ideas from others and I did not want the mirror to reflect itself (to borrow a phrase).  Thanks for all of the responses so far.  Keep them coming.

Just as a point of reference, though, Wikipedia lists 3.x as having 66 base classes, of which 8 are intended for NPCs and 9 are setting-specific (5 in Dragonlance, 4 in Eberron).  That's not getting into any of the variants in Unearthed Arcana.

For comparison, 4E has 26 base classes and one special multi-class-only class.

The metagame is not the game.

They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.
I much prefer to have a play-based learning curve rather than a build-based learning curve. If you pick up a few tricks and implement them in your future game sessions, you can do that. If you've discovered the feats you chose (or even the class you chose) doesn't do what you thought it did or work as well as you wanted, you're usually stuck with that crap for the long run.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

 Big question. In the days of 3e, the options available in character generation were legion relative to other editions because of the liberal multi-classing rules. I personally think that's a fail on the part of the system. Allow me to elaborate.

I can't recall how many classes there were by the end of 3e. 25? I'm guessing. Let's say 25. That means that even if you only multiclass between 2 classes, you have 600 possible class combinations. That's a lot, but if you go to 3 classes, we have 13,800 combinations. So you have 25 single-class choices plus 600 dual-class choices plus 13,800 three-class choices gives you 14,425 combinations possible.

Some might say that's a good thing. The problem is that right away optimization comes into play. We don't have to go to Pun Pun extremes either, the simple fact is that 14,425 class choices are not going to be anything even close to balanced. It just isn't possible. I get that some players like to optimize and some don't, and that's fine in a system where choices are reasonably finite, but with this you have a broken system. (I recall playing 3e games where one of the PCs was doing 50-80 damage per round, as a non-spellcaster, by the 6th or 7th level. We also had a bard who was lucky to do 8 points of damage per round. That kind of dichotomy simply breaks the game).

What's the point of having 14,425 class combinations when 97% of them are brokenly under-powered and 2.75% are brokenly over-powered? That's not a great char gen system that gives players the freedom to make whatever they want, it's just a broken mess. I'd rather be given just the 0.25% of those options that actually work and jetison the rest of the nonsense.

Some of my favorite games function as such. 2.75% sounds like a similar percentage of options that are competitive in Magic: The Gathering and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and they've had a large and relevant scene despite their obvious flaws.

Of course, it helps that system mastery is expected in competitive games, and only one was intentionally built to handle that level of brokeness.

EDIT: Not to mention that there doesn't have to be long-term player choices in either games.

They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).
They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


The point is , why try for trap options in the first place? Why not atrempt to have all options be equal and cool? Why penalize someone for taking something thematic unless they're trying to be suboptimal.
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Stuff I Heard Mike Say (subject to change): Multiclassing will be different than in 3.5! That's important. There is no level cap; classes advance ala 3.5 epic levels after a set level. Mundane (AKA fighter and co) encounter and daily powers will probably not be in the PHB (for the lack of space), but nor will they be in some obscure book released halfway through the edition.
You can't please everyone, but you can please me. I DO NOT WANT A FREAKING 4E REPEAT. I DO NOT WANT A MODULE THAT MIMICS MY FAVORITE EDITION. I WANT MODULES THAT MIMIC A PLAYSTYLE AND CAN BE INTERCHANGED TO COMPLETELY CHANGE THE FEEL, BUT NOT THE THEME, OF D&D. A perfect example would be an espionage module, or desert survival. A BAD EXAMPLE IS HEALING SURGES. WE HAVE 4E FOR THOSE! A good example is a way to combine a mundane and self healing module, a high-survival-rate module, and a separate pool of healing resource module.
Classes should be designed to have strengths and weakness relative to other classes.

The problem is not when option is slightly better than another. It is however a massive problem for game design when one option completely surpasses another is usefulness.

If you want to play a fighter that is a side kick to a caster or just incompetent at combat, that's cool. However it will be really bad for the game when someone rolls up a fighter intending to play a fantasy hero and ends up with joxer the mighty.


Not liking the new forums.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/18.jpg)

 

 

Classes should be designed to have strengths and weakness relative to other classes.

The problem is not when option is slightly better than another. It is however a massive problem for game design when one option completely surpasses another is usefulness.

If you want to play a fighter that is a side kick to a caster or just incompetent at combat, that's cool. However it will be really bad for the game when someone rolls up a fighter intending to play a fantasy hero and ends up with joxer the mighty.





Nice reference! Cool
"Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back."
They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).


So in other words, your fun takes a back seat to extremely anal DM-ing and ruthless optimization by your opponents... sorry, your teammates. They are the "winners", and you are the "loser", and they just sit there not giving a flying you-know-what? Are these people your actual friends, or just heartless jerks you met on the street?

I guess it's easier to blame the game itself than to make some simple adjustments that would allow everyone to have fun, right?
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
The point is , why try for trap options in the first place? Why not atrempt to have all options be equal and cool? Why penalize someone for taking something thematic unless they're trying to be suboptimal.


Because you can never have all options be equally useful for all builds. The very notion is a preposterous pipe dream in a role-playing game designed with lots of options for thematic character creation, such as D&D. I honestly can't believe that people are even suggesting such a thing.

My post on Reyemile's "Understanding Balance" thread:

While I can understand your not wanting optimizers to be able to run amok, I find the notion that the game designers should regulate player choice to such a degree as to somehow prevent players from ever making "bad" choices to be a terrible idea.

With any game that truly offers lots of feat/power choices, there are always going to be choices that could be "weak" for a given character build. That's not to say that any particular power/feat should be included in the game that is necessarily weak for everyone, but that it is simply impractical to try to regulate player choice to such an extent as to make none of the choices potentially "weak". Aside from the powers/feats themselves, there are always going to be other ways in which a player can make "bad" choices, no matter how much you try to regulate it. What if your Wizard neglects his INT and throws a bunch of points on STR? What if your Fighter ignores his physical stats and cranks his CHA, or what if he just keeps training/specializing in different weapons, even though he can only ever use one at a time? Granted, these aren't typical examples, but my point is that any system that regulates player choice to such an extent as to prevent any possible "bad" choices is a system that has gone completely overboard in the name of "balance".

So how do you prevent noob/inexperienced/role-not-roll players from making "too many bad choices" without having rules that excessively regulate choice in the game? How about instead of overwhelming these types pf players with the normal a la carte feat/power selection, you provide templates or collections of feats/powers that go reasonably well together, a table d'hote of sorts for each of the various build types? These players can still take "weak" or seemingly "random" feats here and there, but overall this may help them to not get so far behind everyone else as to seem "useless".

Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).


So in other words, your fun takes a back seat to extremely anal DM-ing and ruthless optimization by your opponents... sorry, your teammates. They are the "winners", and you are the "loser", and they just sit there not giving a flying you-know-what? Are these people your actual friends, or just heartless jerks you met on the street?

I guess it's easier to blame the game itself than to make some simple adjustments that would allow everyone to have fun, right?



Please respond to what I said, not what you think I said.
Some of my favorite games function as such. 2.75% sounds like a similar percentage of options that are competitive in Magic: The Gathering and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and they've had a large and relevant scene despite their obvious flaws.

Of course, it helps that system mastery is expected in competitive games, and only one was intentionally built handle that level of brokeness.



I think that's a great point. If D&D was a competitive rather than cooperative game, it would make sense for players to try to "beat" the game and hence the other players at char gen. I wonder if that's where the disagreements come from - some players look at D&D as something to be mastered and beaten, others look at it as something to be participated in and enjoyed.

They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).


So in other words, your fun takes a back seat to extremely anal DM-ing and ruthless optimization by your opponents... sorry, your teammates. They are the "winners", and you are the "loser", and they just sit there not giving a flying you-know-what? Are these people your actual friends, or just heartless jerks you met on the street?

I guess it's easier to blame the game itself than to make some simple adjustments that would allow everyone to have fun, right?



Please respond to what I said, not what you think I said.


I take that to mean that you didn't like my previous answer. How about you answer the questions I posed?

And here are some more questions:

So you have one guy taking "so many terrible feats", while the rest of the players are expert veteran optimizers leaving their "friend" in the dust? Do they even say anything when you make your repeatedly "bad" choices? They know the game inside-and-out, and yet they don't give you tips on how to keep up? They just don't care... or what?

It literally makes no sense unless they really do see it as a competition, and they actually like leaving you in the dust.
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).


So in other words, your fun takes a back seat to extremely anal DM-ing and ruthless optimization by your opponents... sorry, your teammates. They are the "winners", and you are the "loser", and they just sit there not giving a flying you-know-what? Are these people your actual friends, or just heartless jerks you met on the street?

I guess it's easier to blame the game itself than to make some simple adjustments that would allow everyone to have fun, right?



Please respond to what I said, not what you think I said.


I take that to mean that you didn't like my previous answer. How about you answer the questions I posed?

And here are some more questions:

So you have one guy taking "so many terrible feats", while the rest of the players are expert veteran optimizers leaving their "friend" in the dust? Do they even say anything when you make your repeatedly "bad" choices? They know the game inside-and-out, and yet they don't give you tips on how to keep up? They just don't care... or what?

It literally makes no sense unless they really do see it as a competition, and they actually like leaving you in the dust.


What would be better if those feats that keep him being left in the dust didn't exist at all.
My thoughts on it (and I apologize if I'm repeating anybody else since I haven't read all 3 pages of responses)...

Should it be possible to fail the game during character creation?  If a player is inexperienced and just playing it by ear during the character-generation process, should that penalize the player with a weak or incompetent character later on?  Or should char-gen be restricted to only deciding amongst several options, each of which is no better than another, so that the real game can be played on equal footing after you all meet in the tavern?



I think there are actually room for both of these design models, particularly with the design standpoint that they seem to be coming from in Next.

The baseline characters that do not include the optional module for advanced character creation would be numerically optimized so that all characters at the onset will be roughly equal in effectiveness with few options for difference.

The advanced creation module on the other hand would give you a much more bare-bones starting package for each class with your character, but with a lot more options from level 1 to customize.

With the advanced rules you could build a character identical to the simple starting package, so they're both balanced, yet you'd have the option to build the character to focus on something different, of your choosing. Yes, you risk limiting your effectiveness in certain parts of the game, or later on by way of worse scaling, but that's why it's for advanced players who are familiar enough to choose abilities wisely, or simply don't care about being great at combat (a weird idea in D&D, I know).
If players go out of thier way to abuse the rules and the system breaks down, it is a player issue not a system issue.

If the players have to go out of thier way to avoid the bad options to keep the system from breaking down, then it is entirely a system issue.


Not liking the new forums.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/18.jpg)

 

 

They see "traps".  I just see options.  And people who can't handle the fact that options exist.
Just because YOU don't see any value in option X, doesn't mean it's not usefull to someone.



The problem is when a cool sounding "choice" is so much worse than everythign else that taking it is essentially gimping your character just ebcause you took something that sounds reasonable.


Can you explain to me how taking one sub-par feat dooms your character?

And if it really is such a huge problem in your campaign, then why can't the DM just allow you to re-spec and pick something better? The object of the game is fun, right? So if keeping up with the Joneses is so critically important, then why would the DM be so strict if it is obvious that you are getting screwed?


Becuas by the rules, you usually CAN'T respec after your choice is made.

And it's not about one feat, it's when there are so many terrible feats that sound really good that would doom your character.

But using your feat for this level on one bad feat is going to suck, sicne you essentially wasted the last choice you have for a long while(depending on how frequently you level).


So in other words, your fun takes a back seat to extremely anal DM-ing and ruthless optimization by your opponents... sorry, your teammates. They are the "winners", and you are the "loser", and they just sit there not giving a flying you-know-what? Are these people your actual friends, or just heartless jerks you met on the street?

I guess it's easier to blame the game itself than to make some simple adjustments that would allow everyone to have fun, right?



Please respond to what I said, not what you think I said.


I take that to mean that you didn't like my previous answer. How about you answer the questions I posed?

And here are some more questions:

So you have one guy taking "so many terrible feats", while the rest of the players are expert veteran optimizers leaving their "friend" in the dust? Do they even say anything when you make your repeatedly "bad" choices? They know the game inside-and-out, and yet they don't give you tips on how to keep up? They just don't care... or what?

It literally makes no sense unless they really do see it as a competition, and they actually like leaving you in the dust.


What would be better if those feats that keep him being left in the dust didn't exist at all.


So prevent the entire D&D gaming community from being able to take thematic feats that many of us may like (for giving our characters flavor) simply because they don't work well in a heavily-optimized campaign? Only roll-playing feats allowed? If it doesn't do something that is clearly mathematically advantageous, then it should be banned from the game altogether? Seriously?

Woudn't it be easier for these optimized parties to sit down and decide to just outlaw those feats/powers within their campaign? Why ruin everyone else's fun?

Furthermore, if you read my post from that other thread that I quoted, I pointed out that certain feats may simply be bad choices for some builds, and not for others. How do you possibly expect the designers to be able to regulate that kind of thing? They simply can't do it in a game with as many options as D&D, especially when a lot of those options are thematic.
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">Furthermore, if you read my post from that other thread that I quoted, I pointed out that certain feats may simply be bad choices for some builds, and not for others. How do you possibly expect the designers to be able to regulate that kind of thing? They simply can't do it in a game with as many options as D&D, especially when a lot of those options are thematic.


The bolded is something I have no issue with.
What I DO have issue with is some feats SOUNDING cool, but then they just suck. And I mean suck no matter what situation it is or what class is taking it.(to the point where the only reason you would take it is to make your character worse). Like 4e's problem with feats like Paragon Defenses beign completely obsoleted by other feats like Improved Defenses(which did the same thing, but better).

And IMO, thematic options should NEVER come at the cost of mechanical options. They should be seperated and selected seperately.
Like for example, one thing that bugged me about 4e is the number of thematicly nice utilities, but in order to take those, you have to give up a combat utility, which sucked. I would have preferred the combat utilities and theme/roleplay utilities moved to another level(like those levels where all you get is a feat), so you can take the roleplay utilities without feeling like your gimping your combat utility.
Anecdote time!

My group accidentially broke 3E over it's knee and shattered it's spine. We had no in-depth knowledge of the system, no optimizers and expected the system to not suddenly buckle once and die on us, when we were playing an Eberron group consisting of:
 - A Halfling Cleric
 - A Half-Elf Sorcerer
 - An Elven Druid
 - A Human Scout (Ranger-like variant based on mobility, essentially a bad joke of a class as we later found out)

The critical mass was reached around sixth level. The scout was by nearly all means useless to the group except in extensively specific situations. The cleric could heal all day long, having made a Wand of CLW. The druid regularly called up monsters that would easily surpass, by a wide margin, the scout's abilities. The Sorcerer dealt so much damage that everyone else was beginning to give up on doing much damage themselves.

The group was to fight a Frost Giant that had killed their collective best friend. The characte rin question had been roleplayed for over half a year by me and the group actually liked him very much. It was an intense scene when he was slain and the characters charged the frost giant. One single wand of metamagic ended the whole fight by ways of a maximied (?) fireball that fully destroyed the whole giant in one go.

Anticlimatic if I ever have seen it. Nothing else ever came close.

How did we discover this incredibly broken combo? By accident. Nothing else. Past this point the campaign declined fast, we lost much interest in the system and found it more and more obtuse, biased and ridiculously broken. The Scout could regularly be left out in combat, since he had chosen a few levels of psion and his whole capability-level dropped so low that he could just as well have sat back and done nothing.

The sorcerer obliterated whole encounters (as shown above) by accident or a single spell. The druid could summon creatures that were above and beyond everything the Scout could do.

The Scout did choose all of his feats, levels and skills to suit his flavor, roleplaying.

What did it bring him? He became utterly ineffective and the system punished him extensively for his choices.

None of the players in the group were jerks, scumbags, strangers not caring about you or anything else. We didn't know better and broke the whole system by accident entirely. We did not see it as a competition, either. But still, the Scout became very bored and didn't like the role the game had relegated him to. Can anyone really fault him for it? He made choices befitting his character, and the system curbstomped his face with them, making him ineffectual to a large degree.

You don't need to view this as a competition to become frustrated, bored or annoyed by a system that works that way. It's simply bad design.



I hate to hear that kind of story. =(

Design can influence very important parts - I don't think -anyone- would contest -that-.  What constitutes good design is still up in the air (whether some people like it or not), and what promotes good design in the history of the D&D brand and the future of the brand are still up in the air.

I do have a question though -- when y'all figured out how obtusely broken it was...what did you do then?  Keep playing?  Make him reroll?  Find a way to fix it?  Choose a new game system?  I'm curious.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

So prevent the entire D&D gaming community from being able to take thematic feats that many of us may like (for giving our characters flavor) simply because they don't work well in a heavily-optimized campaign? Only roll-playing feats allowed? If it doesn't do something that is clearly mathematically advantageous, then it should be banned from the game altogether? Seriously?

Woudn't it be easier for these optimized parties to sit down and decide to just outlaw those feats/powers within their campaign? Why ruin everyone else's fun?


It`s the other way around. Balance is what allows you to take thematic feats without being outshined and the like. See, it`s not that hard to give truly useful math benefits to thematic options.

Furthermore, if you read my post from that other thread that I quoted, I pointed out that certain feats may simply be bad choices for some builds, and not for others. How do you possibly expect the designers to be able to regulate that kind of thing? They simply can't do it in a game with as many options as D&D, especially when a lot of those options are thematic.


Perfect balance is impossible, but "good enough for most" has been achieved already. It`s called 4E. Now it`s all a matter of achieving said balance without the huge constraints of 4E, and I strongly believe that`s possible.


My character is called Ryotto Tyrannicide, wich comes from "tyrannicidal riot". He wields two magic swords: King Beheader (as in "Beheader of Kings", not "King the Beheader") and Chain Splitter. He's also a bit of a skirt-chaser. So yeah, I REALLY hope you have some Lawful Evil bad guys prepared for me. Government/trade/church conspiracies are optional, but highly recommended.
It's not so much that any single feat is a trap, it's that whole chains and classes are traps.

The warrior is presented as a master of combat but pales in comparison to buffer classes like druid or cleric.
 
And IMO, thematic options should NEVER come at the cost of mechanical options. They should be seperated and selected seperately.



This is what I argued, since I switched over to 4e. And I think this would have solved a lot of peoples' complaints that 4e is just a combat tactic game. While I do agree with the sentiment that the combat is the only thing with complex rules, because it's the only part that really needs rules, as opposed to exploration and roleplay, which can be much more free-form, I do think 4e would have been better with some flavor options too.

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">Furthermore, if you read my post from that other thread that I quoted, I pointed out that certain feats may simply be bad choices for some builds, and not for others. How do you possibly expect the designers to be able to regulate that kind of thing? They simply can't do it in a game with as many options as D&D, especially when a lot of those options are thematic.


The bolded is something I have no issue with.
What I DO have issue with is some feats SOUNDING cool, but then they just suck. And I mean suck no matter what situation it is or what class is taking it.(to the point where the only reason you would take it is to make your character worse).


So just ban those feats in your campaign, then. If they are really causing that much of a problem in your group, then how hard can it be to just get together and work something out?

And IMO, thematic options should NEVER come at the cost of mechanical options. They should be seperated and selected seperately.
Like for example, one thing that bugged me about 4e is the number of thematicly nice utilities, but in order to take those, you have to give up a combat utility, which sucked. I would have preferred the combat utilities and theme/roleplay utilities moved to another level(like those levels where all you get is a feat), so you can take the roleplay utilities without feeling like your gimping your combat utility.


It still sounds too restrictive to me. If I want to build a skilled character who doesn't have or want "combat utilities", then I should be able to. If you think that a lot of what I give my character would ruin your character, then don't take that kind of stuff. But don't take away the options at other people's game tables just because you've had a hard time with feat selection.

You don't need to view this as a competition to become frustrated, bored or annoyed by a system that works that way.


Ok, so how does that (and your anecdote) justify fool-proofing the game so that every feat is automatically useful somehow in every campaign?
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
I'll never understand the general feeling of hating balance in a games system. Not a specific complaint ("Feat X is too balanced, it could use Y"), but a blanket condemnation of balancing any two similar things. 

 
If players go out of thier way to abuse the rules and the system breaks down, it is a player issue not a system issue.

If the players have to go out of thier way to avoid the bad options to keep the system from breaking down, then it is entirely a system issue.



Thank you.

These are two separate issues: uneven feat strengths, and people who seek uneven feat strengths. Generally speaking, you can solve problems with the latter by fixing the former.   

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick


It`s the other way around. Balance is what allows you to take thematic feats without being outshined and the like. See, it`s not that hard to give truly useful math benefits to thematic options.



Thank you. 
 

Perfect balance is impossible, but "good enough for most" has been achieved already. It`s called 4E.



And thank you once again. 

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

My experience is limited to 3.5e and 4e, so pardon me if I get a few things wrong.


It seems to me that the main concern about "trap options" is that they "gimp" your character's effectiveness. At what? Well, combat of course. IME, D&D is a game mostly centered around combat challenges, as that's what the meat of the rules and options are for. After all, one can roleplay without any set of rules and still have a great time. And sure, D&D is about more than just fighting, but the way the game has been designed better showcases one's abilities during such scenarios.


As such, when the time comes to make a feat choice, for example, one might select a few interesting choices and then weigh them against one another. Skill Focus gives you a bonus to a skill you master, and might be perfectly in sync with your knowledgeable character archetype, but which skill do you select? Is it likely to become of any use in the forseeable future? Maybe you should instead choose Maximize Spell; that sure would make your fireballs that much dealier.


When all is said and done, most players will opt for the second option, because it is guaranteed to be of use right away and for as long as you play, whereas the first one is too situational, no matter how cool you think it might be. And I think that's what people mean by "decreasing character effectiveness". Sure, your increased knowledge could help you defeat the riddle master in a battle of wits, but that isn't going to happen every level; Maximized Spell, however, will give you tangible results now and forever in an activity you know is bound to happen relatively often.


This phenomenon was even worse in 4e, IMO, as the neverending rise in numbers and bonuses pretty much required you to be near top-level -- mechanically speaking -- and thus reduced the allure of thematical/flavourful feats. If you took a few, you were sure to take a slight hit in combat effectiveness.


Hopefully, a few design choices in DDN (such as a flatter math progression) would eliminate the need of "feat taxes" and make thematical choices more interesting, because you don't need to keep up with whatever numbers or monsters.