Near Epic but Practically an Epic Game

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So first off I'm new here and would like to say whats up fellow DM's. Following that I am currently running a very complicated long term D&D 3.5 game that's nearing it's end and I have a few complications that my brain just can't wrap around how to fix and would love some experienced advice.

1. So many numbers and so little time- Each character has multiple attacks and even more dice to roll. Is there a way to simplify and/or speed up the process?
2. Godly stats- The game has jumped the shark a bit and all the PC's have one or two more stats above 30. Two characters have a 40 in a stat. (I know if I start doing high level ability drain it will cause tension and possibly ruin the game so I'm open to all other ideas)
3. How to adjust to encounters and HD- There are 6 PC's 3 are level 17 with a celestial template and 3 are 16 with the celestial and one with a half-fiend template. They can easily outdo a CR 21 and barely touch half HP to 2 of the PC's. How would I adjust to them without putting them against an opponent that's too much and then afterwards how do I still keep it in the frame of simplicity?
4. End Game- The end game results in fighting a titan (not the MMI titan) but a titan that created the gods. How would I even begin to stat something like that out and run it in such in epic setting?

I greatly appreciate the advice and apologize if there was a better thread to put this under but I was under a time crunch. Laughing
1. So many numbers and so little time- Each character has multiple attacks and even more dice to roll. Is there a way to simplify and/or speed up the process?

Handwave it. Eyeball the attack rolls. Rough out the totals. Round in favor of the players. Don't spend more than 5 seconds compiling every last bonus.
3. How to adjust to encounters and HD- There are 6 PC's 3 are level 17 with a celestial template and 3 are 16 with the celestial and one with a half-fiend template. They can easily outdo a CR 21 and barely touch half HP to 2 of the PC's. How would I adjust to them without putting them against an opponent that's too much and then afterwards how do I still keep it in the frame of simplicity?

Forget about hit points. Hit points don't matter. What matters are success and failure.

Try creating challenges in which the creatures aren't trying to kill the PCs but to accomplish some other, larger goal. The creatures might fight back, but only to buy time. Then the challenge is no longer about the PCs HP, but how they are going to prevent the enemies from accomplishing their goal. This probably means killing the enemies before they can do it, but maybe it means accomplishing some other goal of their own. This keeps things simple because the monsters won't need to be making a ton of attacks. Best of all, if you do wind up putting them against a challenge that's too much for them, the game doesn't grind to a halt. They can fail, yet the game continues, and probably in a pretty interesting way.
4. End Game- The end game results in fighting a titan (not the MMI titan) but a titan that created the gods. How would I even begin to stat something like that out and run it in such in epic setting?

Don't make it a combat in the normal sense, anymore than destroying the Death Star was combat in the normal sense. In fact, use that as your baseline: give it a weak spot, but make getting to and triggering that weakspot an almost certain one-way trip. Lots of epic showdowns are like this, if you think about it. Speaking of Titans, take the Clash of the Titans for instance: going toe-to-toe with the kraken was never the plan, and actually showing Medusa's face to the kraken wasn't really the hard part of the process. Blowing up the Death Star was only really difficult because of what it took to get the plans to where they could be used. The actual attack run was hard, but not because of the Death Star itself.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Eyeballing it would drive me insane. 


Consider prerolling results, and using them in order. Also consider average damage for most things. Tell your players ACs and defenses early on, so they can just roll a die and say hit or not. 


He is right hit points don't matter, but thats because this is the level of save or suck/die. The enemies should throw out effects that totally debilitate the entire party each turn. The party should be able recover from these abilities just as fast.


I'd use god of war as inspiration for the titan fight. 


"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

Eyeballing it would drive me insane.

Really? Do you find that getting the math exactly right often changes the gut feeling you had about a roll?

He is right hit points don't matter, but thats because this is the level of save or suck/die. The enemies should throw out effects that totally debilitate the entire party each turn. The party should be able recover from these abilities just as fast.

There's that, but he mentioned having trouble bringing hit points down. They, and any kind of debilitating effect, don't really matter, because they're not really the point of this level of play. They're not really the point of any play that strives for an epic feel, regardless of level.

I'd use god of war as inspiration for the titan fight.

I thought about suggesting that, but I've never actually played it.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Each character has multiple attacks and even more dice to roll. Is there a way to simplify and/or speed up the process?

Use average damage (example: a 10d6 fireball does 35 damage). Write it down ahead of time.

Godly stats

That's fine (and expected). No fix needed.

They can easily outdo a CR 21

Go with continuously higher CR's until it starts feeling about right. In case you overdo it: save or die effects can easily wipe out a party at this level anyways, so they should have contingencies for such things.

how do I still keep it in the frame of simplicity?

It's probably never going to be simple... but between average damage and save or 'die' effects, it may start to go quick. Also, best to pre-calculate the opponent's stats to include their buffs. Players should do this for their PC's too.

How would I even begin to stat something like that out and run it in such in epic setting?

Use the stats from a suitable Epic monster, or treat it as statless... until the PC's accomplish some goal that makes it vulnerable. Then use the stats from an Epic monster.

1. You can always use an Excel spreadsheet to generate random numbers although I also like the other suggestion of pre-rolling the numbers in advance.

2. Super high stats are to be expected in epic games in 3.5E. It's just one of those things. Don't sweat it; you're still the DM so you hold all the cards.

3. Chances are that their touch ACs are still quite low. I used to find that no matter how powerful a 3.5E group thought it was, an encounter with shadow demons (advanced or not) which have touch attacks that cause vile damage would pretty much scare the living daylights out of them.

4. I would suggest making this titan an incorporeal monster both for the miss chance and for the touch attacks. Start with a shadow demon, advance it to about 50 hit dice (don't worry about the normal advancement limit of 3x hit dice: this is a custom creation) and make sure it has a lot of reach. You might also want to consider giving it a swarm's traits - think of this as a gargantuan or colossal caller-in-darkness comprised of the undead titan and all of the creatures he has slain over the years.

Although it may seem I am trying to screw with your PCs, that's not correct. I just know how difficult it is to build a decent challenge for high-levels 3.5E PCs.

Cheers Imruphel aka Scrivener of Doom

Eyeballing it would drive me insane.

Really? Do you find that getting the math exactly right often changes the gut feeling you had about a roll?
I do. Especially when I roll a 2, but my PC has +48, so the DM looks at it, and says "No way". Even worse is when they give a success to the player with +4 but rolled a 17. 

At that point why even have stats? Lets just flip a coin and on heads everything succeeds. Saves a ton of time on character gen and would speed gameplay up tremendously. 



I thought about suggesting that, but I've never actually played it.

Its not paticulalrly good, but the boss fights are really great for this sort of thing. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

I do. Especially when I roll a 2, but my PC has +48, so the DM looks at it, and says "No way". Even worse is when they give a success to the player with +4 but rolled a 17.

Ah, I wasn't thinking in terms of older editions, where such a disparity could plausibly arise. I suppose that in terms of skills that could still arise in 4th Edition, but not with attack bonuses.

Still, though, I bet it's pretty easy to figure out without adding a bunch of modifiers. The swordmaster rolls a 2 with his sword. He might still hit. The wizard rolls a 17 with his dagger. He probably misses.

At that point why even have stats? Lets just flip a coin and on heads everything succeeds. Saves a ton of time on character gen and would speed gameplay up tremendously.

It wouldn't be quite that bad. You'd handwave 1-7 as a miss and 14 through 20 as a hit. 8-13 would be questionable, but also generally easy to handwave, as above.

So, no not a coin toss, but a Fate die (a six-sider with two "-", two "+", and two "blank") might be plenty. There would still be advantage and disadvantage to be gained from certain builds or spells or feats, but no numbers to bother with.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Use an Ancestor Titan from the 3.0 Epic level handbook if you want some sample ideas.  Will take some work to make a 4.0 version, but at least it would give you something to reference
Lets just flip a coin and on heads everything succeeds... would speed gameplay up tremendously.

Off-topic: I actually like the idea (even though I'm a simulationist player) of everything being:
a) Automatically successful
b) Automatically unsuccessful, or
c) 50/50

It could more-or-less work fine, and would feel more realistic to me than current D&D because combat would be fast. I assure you: having engaged in thousands of training combats (police, military, SCA, martial arts, etc.), and a few real ones: fast feels much more like the real thing, and "yes,no,50/50" would still pass the sniff test for me.

Indeed: the newest D&D miniature game doesn't use dice (or coins) at all, and it works great!

I'm not against the coin flip or giving everyone even odds if a system were designed with that in mind. But when you say "Lets play DND" I am going to assume we use something resembling an edition of DND rules. 


For a rules light beer and pretzles game I'd be all for it. I just don't think it has any place in my dnd games.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

I'm not against the coin flip or giving everyone even odds if a system were designed with that in mind. But when you say "Lets play DND" I am going to assume we use something resembling an edition of DND rules. 

For a rules light beer and pretzles game I'd be all for it. I just don't think it has any place in my dnd games.


Ah, the classic "it doesn't feel like D&D" reaction. The thing is, at least in 4th Edition (which, yes, I know doesn't feel like D&D to lots of people) the game is already this way. We still add up all the numbers (I caught myself doing it just last night), but the results are rarely different than you might guess from the d20 roll and maybe a couple of other factors.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

     Awesome thank you for the expedient responses. I started prepping out average numbers and learned that any epic level wizard would wipe the team but a CR 22-24 anything else would suffice as an adequate challenge. Now as for the rest though I have 3 games left and have them heading into the final Labyrinth before they are in the realm of the Gods where they are fighting to contain the titan known as Bedlam Kane the Titan of Chaos. For that I would ask how would I make out a final dungeon and present it as something much more than any dungeon? What would scream the feeling "Built by a God" but make it still possible to beat?

     They have previously now found and helped slightly restore the Titan of Order who in leu to what they know must fuse to Bedlam Kane to recreate Dei'on the first. So i'll probably make the final battle more of a simple of certain numbers of hits have to occur before he weakens a moment and the titan of order lacthes on for a moment giving a percent roll for complete fusion.

     Everytime they weaken and the order titan connects I was going to drop the % difficulty until it enevitably occurs. Thing is though I dont want the win to be inevitable and neither do they. They still like the possiblity of losing hanging in the air and I dont blame them. So how would I alter that to make it work that way? Also a couple of my friends and I have smart phones and have downloaded a dice roller app that compiles all of the dice and a push of a button does all the work for you.
would I make out a final dungeon and present it as something much more than any dungeon? What would scream the feeling "Built by a God" but make it still possible to beat?

Anecdote (that may or may not be useful):
When my players were low level, they entered a dungeon that was entirely inside a giant, sphinx-like statue (Ghostlord's lair from Red Hand of Doom). Later when they were almost Epic, they returned to discover that it had been turned into a Stone Colossus.

"In Soviet Russia, Dungeon assaults you" - Smirnoffism.
That's a cool idea mvincent mind if i use it?
That's a cool idea mvincent mind if i use it?

Help yourself

And for a much easier fight that seems big, you could use Colossal sized animated objects, Spiders, Skeletons or Zombies (maybe made from Tarrasque, Roc, Kraken or Ancient Dragon bodies). You could use the players as miniatures.

Ah, the classic "it doesn't feel like D&D" reaction.


Basically. DND in every edition of DND has had a fairly involved set of rules that I don't think anyone would call rules light. When you say DND it has to continue this tradition or it isn't DND. Note plenty of things that are fun are not DND. 


Saying "Lets play DND" and then tossing a dude a basketball might result in a good time, but he is probably not going to know what you expect him to do with it and definatley won't assume its related to DND.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

Ah, the classic "it doesn't feellike D&D" reaction.

Basically. DND in every edition of DND has had a fairly involved set of rules that I don't think anyone would call rules light. When you say DND it has to continue this tradition or it isn't DND. Note plenty of things that are fun are not DND. 

Saying "Lets play DND" and then tossing a dude a basketball might result in a good time, but he is probably not going to know what you expect him to do with it and definatley won't assume its related to DND.


That's the slipperly-slope fallacy.

What does it matter if the D&D-like game is related to D&D? And what does make someone assume it's "related to D&D"? Expecting to take up weapons and magic to go into dark places to deal with horrific challenges for fortune, glory and honor has nothing to do with how those actions are simulated.

The D&D boardgames are rules light and "feel" very much like D&D, not that that matters. Of course, there's no expectation of roleplaying, but it could be added very easily and work just as well.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a certain experience, but believing that something can't change and improve without negating itself is preposterous and stultifying.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

@ Krusk: I hear what you're saying; however, if I ran you a game of Dungeon World which has much lighter rules than D&D, you'd probably think it feels more like D&D than D&D does because of how well it conveys that style of game. So I don't know if rules complexity is really what makes D&D what it is though I can easily see why that perception exists.

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That's the slipperly-slope fallacy.



No. Its a similar example. Please don't just declare things fallacys and assume that ends the debate. Respond to the actual points.


Basically. DND in every edition of DND has had a fairly involved set of rules that I don't think anyone would call rules light. When you say DND it has to continue this tradition or it isn't DND. Note plenty of things that are fun are not DND.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

That's the slipperly-slope fallacy.

No. Its a similar example. Please don't just declare things fallacys and assume that ends the debate.

I'm sorry, but I can't be held to that. I'll concede that I may have mis-identified the fallacy or that it might just be a poor analogy, but either way responding to it is not constructive.

Respond to the actual points.

Basically. DND in every edition of DND has had a fairly involved set of rules that I don't think anyone would call rules light. When you say DND it has to continue this tradition or it isn't DND. Note plenty of things that are fun are not DND.


What does it matter if the D&D-like game is related to D&D? And what does make someone assume it's "related to D&D"? Expecting to take up weapons and magic to go into dark places to deal with horrific challenges for fortune, glory and honor has nothing to do with how those actions are simulated.



To add to my original words, what it sounds like you're really saying is that you enjoy adding up the numbers and bonuses, pulling out a hit when the d20 makes everyone think it’s a miss. Is this what you’re saying? I want to avoid committing my own fallacy by setting up a straw-horse, so if I’m wrong about this I’ll retract it.

If this is the case, it’s an example of something I’ve seen repeatedly regarding changing rules. People play a set of rules that can fairly be regarded as clunky and slow and complicated, but they adapt to it, make it work for them, develop a facility with it, come to enjoy the particular twists of emotion it generations. Then someone comes along and streamlines the rule so that the outcome is almost exactly the same (or perhaps even more in line with the intended outcome), but the clunky rules have gone away. This makes the adaptation of the players who enjoy it obsolete, which is frustrating, and rearranges the way the emotional experience – the experience they have come to associate only with the clunky rules – is delivered. So, regardless of whether the new rules make the game better, the old players miss the applicability of their old ways of thinking about it, and miss the reactions they’d come to expect, and claim that the new game isn’t the old game simply because of that.

That’s just my theory. It could be wrong, but it explains something I see time and again, and not just with roleplaying games, and not just with games. And I’m not immune to it myself. But the bottom line is that, while it’s understandable to be upset about changes to longstanding rules, stating that the lack of “feel” means the game isn’t the game (or the sport is not the sport, or the religion isn’t the religion, or the country isn’t the country) anymore masks other, more unfortunate reasons why the old reject the new.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

4. I would suggest making this titan an incorporeal monster both for the miss chance and for the touch attacks. Start with a shadow demon, advance it to about 50 hit dice (don't worry about the normal advancement limit of 3x hit dice: this is a custom creation) and make sure it has a lot of reach. You might also want to consider giving it a swarm's traits - think of this as a gargantuan or colossal caller-in-darkness comprised of the undead titan and all of the creatures he has slain over the years.



How would I go about doing this? Normally I make from scratch monsters and have never advanced a current ones HD. Also how would I prep to have it combat my PC's if its so high of an HD? Unless Im understanding this wrong. I do however like the shadow demon idea.
To add to my original words, what it sounds like you're really saying is that you enjoy adding up the numbers and bonuses, pulling out a hit when the d20 makes everyone think it’s a miss. Is this what you’re saying? I want to avoid committing my own fallacy by setting up a straw-horse, so if I’m wrong about this I’ll retract it.



That could be relatively accurate enough that I won't dispute it. I enjoy the complexity and depth of options offered, not neccessicarily adding numbers. 

My point is that every edition of DND up to and including 4e essentials has not been anything close to rules light. So when you say "lets play dnd" people assume you do not mean a rules light game. To do otherwise would be a bait and switch on your part. (Hypothetical you)

fallacies
Show
Also, FWIW the fallacy closest to what I did was a strawman. Where I build up a false arguement for you, and then tear it down. I'd argue that every example is not always a strawman, and I don't think mine was, but it would be the closest fallacy I could pin on it. Slippery slope is the idea that I said "If we turn DND into coin flipping that opens the door to [something obviously bad]. That thing is obviously bad, so we can't turn it into coin flipping. "

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

To add to my original words, what it sounds like you're really saying is that you enjoy adding up the numbers and bonuses, pulling out a hit when the d20 makes everyone think it’s a miss. Is this what you’re saying? I want to avoid committing my own fallacy by setting up a straw-horse, so if I’m wrong about this I’ll retract it.

That could be relatively accurate enough that I won't dispute it. I enjoy the complexity and depth of options offered, not neccessicarily adding numbers.

My point is that every edition of DND up to and including 4e essentials has not been anything close to rules light.

No, but 4th Edition lightened some of the overly complex rules. Grapple became grab, with the more punishing aspects of grapple put inside powers. Defenses were greatly simplified, as were the triggers for opportunity attacks, and the ways for rogues and others to gain advantage. This all worked pretty well, I thought, and yet the game still contained a great deal of complexity and depth.

From what I've read, the next edition is going to make things even simpler. I won't talk too much about it, but you can join the playtest, if you want.

And, as I mentioned, the boardgames, though rather complex, do simplify some things immensely, while keeping the "feel" of D&D.

So when you say "lets play dnd" people assume you do not mean a rules light game. To do otherwise would be a bait and switch on your part. (Hypothetical you)

It would if the complexity (or not) of the rules was an intentional draw for the game. I could see it in the case of so-called "story games." If I claim something is a "story game," (which are known for simple rules, and very light simulation) but it's full of detailed tables, and complicated procedures, I'm likely to be told I'm confused, at best. But "D&D" isn't really a "type" of game, in the sense that the complexity of the rules is the draw, because there's such a wide range of complexity across the editions (all quite complex, but some extremely complex and others only moderately so).

I guess I just don't consider "rules-heavy" to be a valid type of game. "Adventure game," "mystery game," "horror game," these seem like types of things that are fairly easily defined and would put off someone if they were substituted for each other.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

No, but 4th Edition lightened some of the overly complex rules. [...]This all worked pretty well, I thought, and yet the game still contained a great deal of complexity and depth.

You see the obvious answer there right? It lightened some of the overly complex rules, but is still a deep rules system. It didn't become rules light. It cut a lot of the fat. (and then added tons of its own but thats another conversation)

From what I've read, the next edition is going to make things even simpler. I won't talk too much about it, but you can join the playtest, if you want.

I'm cautiously optimistic about 5e. I'm also a huge optimist, so thats generally a bad sign from me. I should be full bore pumping something like this. See windows 8, and 4e for things I was all behind before release. 

I guess I just don't consider "rules-heavy" to be a valid type of game. "Adventure game," "mystery game," "horror game,"

You can totally have rules light adventure, mystery, and horror games. In fact I wouldn't play a heavy rules horror game. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

No, but 4th Edition lightened some of the overly complex rules. [...]This all worked pretty well, I thought, and yet the game still contained a great deal of complexity and depth.

You see the obvious answer there right? It lightened some of the overly complex rules, but is still a deep rules system. It didn't become rules light. It cut a lot of the fat. (and then added tons of its own but thats another conversation)

Right, and greatly simplifying the way attack rolls work wouldn't cause it to become rules light either, not that that matters to whether or not it's a fun, working, balanced game.

I guess I just don't consider "rules-heavy" to be a valid type of game. "Adventure game," "mystery game," "horror game,"

You can totally have rules light adventure, mystery, and horror games. In fact I wouldn't play a heavy rules horror game.

No, I mean that "rules-heavy" isn't a game type. It's a descriptor of how certain games are, but games aren't designed "rules-heavy" for the sake of being "rules heavy." They're designed to simulate a type of fiction, such as "warfare," "swords-and-sorcery," "Old West," or whatever. Misguided attempts at realism can cause any of these types to become "rules-heavy" but none of them are inherently that way.

But rules-heavy or rules-light is beside the point: if a game mechanics gives approximately the same result whether or not the players spend a lot of time getting the details right, then it makes sense not to spend a lot of time getting the details right.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

games aren't designed "rules-heavy" for the sake of being "rules heavy."

One would think. But after 4e, I don't know what to think anymore.

games aren't designed "rules-heavy" for the sake of being "rules heavy."

One would think. But after 4e, I don't know what to think anymore.

Seriously? Compared to 3.5? Sure, there are lots of powers and items, but the actual rules governing those are, while not light, certainly straightforward and streamlined compared to past editions.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Seriously?

Yup. They defintely started by making the rules tighter... more straightforward and streamlined. And then bam!, the game became all about the rules... lots and lots of straightforward and streamlined rules. In the world of game rules, 4e definitely became a heavy despite the streamlining. And I don't know if this was accidental. Hence the "I don't know what to think anymore".

Seriously?

Yup. They defintely started by making the rules tighter... more straightforward and streamlined. And then bam!, the game became all about the rules... lots and lots of straightforward and streamlined rules. In the world of game rules, 4e definitely became a heavy despite the streamlining. And I don't know if this was accidental. Hence the "I don't know what to think anymore".

I don't feel like I'm playing the same game you are. Do you consider the powers themselves to be rules?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Do you consider the powers themselves to be rules?

Yes.

Do you consider the powers themselves to be rules?

Yes.

There's our disconnect. I don't consider powers to be rules, any more than I consider monsters or items to be rules. This is because the DM doen't need to know how every power or monster or item works in order to run the game, the DM just needs rules to allow him or her to figure out how they work if they come up. The players might have access to a lot of powers (fewer, if the DM limits the number of sourcebooks in use, or focuses on Essentials), but with simple rules it's easy to trust the players to adjudicate their own powers. The complexity of the items and monsters in the game is entirely up to the DM.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

There's our disconnect. I don't consider powers to be rules, any more than I consider monsters or items to be rules. This is because the DM doen't need to know how every power or monster or item works in order to run the game, the DM just needs rules to allow him or her to figure out how they work if they come up. The players might have access to a lot of powers (fewer, if the DM limits the number of sourcebooks in use, or focuses on Essentials), but with simple rules it's easy to trust the players to adjudicate their own powers. The complexity of the items and monsters in the game is entirely up to the DM.



Yeah, that's what I assumed everyone thought. Live and learn. mvincent, was your "yes" some sort of unfortunate typo?

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The players might have access to a lot of powers

That's part of what makes 4e rules heavy. I mean, Powers are rules, but even if you view them to akin to say monsters stats... they are still rules that everyone has access to (as opposed to just the DM).

And when players have dozens of these things available to them at all times (powers, paragon class abilities, skill powers, feats, magic items, boons, themes, Fortune cards, rituals, Martial Practices, Grandmaster Training, etc.), it adds to the rules cruft in my view.

I'm not saying how others should view it, but I absolutely view 4e as 'rules heavy', despite the streamlining. And I allow for the possibility that this 'heaviness' was intentional.

The players might have access to a lot of powers

That's part of what makes 4e rules heavy. I mean, Powers are rules, but even if you view them to akin to say monsters stats... they are still rules that everyone has access to (as opposed to just the DM).

And when players have dozens of these things available to them at all times (powers, paragon class abilities, skill powers, feats, magic items, boons, themes, Fortune cards, rituals, Martial Practices, Grandmaster Training, etc.), it adds to the rules cruft in my view.

I'm not saying how others should view it, but I absolutely view 4e as 'rules heavy', despite the streamlining. And I allow for the possibility that this 'heaviness' was intentional.


I don’t want to get into a semantic war, but I would argue that powers are not rules but the implementation of rules. Powers do damage & cause conditions/effects. Damage is straight forward, and there’s a limited number of conditions: Dazed, stunned, restrained, immobilized, prone, weakened, vulnerable, slide, push, pull, ongoing damage, blinded. I’m sure I’m leaving out a few, but it’s a finite and relatively short list. The powers simply list the combination of effects and amount of damage that particular power imposes. We then use the rules to resolve those effects. Yes, there’s  the occasional funky power that causes us to scratch our heads and decide how the rules work with this particular power, but those are the exception.


With 4e, I can explain the basics in about 10 minutes to a brand new player, hand them a character sheet and we’re off to the races. To me, that’s the antithesis of a rules heavy game.

games aren't designed "rules-heavy" for the sake of being "rules heavy."



Thats just totally false. There are plenty of games where "Rules light" is a very high priority. There are plenty where rules light is a very low priority. 


Some say "its not worth having rules for carrying capacity, we want our game to be more abstract than that, and don't think the added rules are worth it." In other games, the designers say "We should include some rules for carrying capacity, so that we can get that extra layer of depth." Both are totally valid and both can be fun. 


People totally rewrite fantasy games to be rules light versions. They say "Current DND editions have too many rules, lets thin it out and make a rules light fantasy heartbreaker". There are also people who want even more rules than current DND has. They come up with all sorts of add on rules to the core systems.

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games aren't designed "rules-heavy" for the sake of being "rules heavy."

Thats just totally false. There are plenty of games where "Rules light" is a very high priority. There are plenty where rules light is a very low priority.

"Rules light is a very low priority" isn't the same as "rules heavy."

Some say "its not worth having rules for carrying capacity, we want our game to be more abstract than that, and don't think the added rules are worth it." In other games, the designers say "We should include some rules for carrying capacity, so that we can get that extra layer of depth." Both are totally valid and both can be fun.

And neither is an example of someone saying "We should make this game very rules-heavy." They add rules in a (usually vain) attempt to add "depth." They don't add rules just to add rules. But I'd say (as you seem to be saying) that people DO strip out rules for the sake of stripping out rules. Rules-heavy games have created that sort of reaction in people.

The point is that keeping D&D "rules heavy" for the sake of "feel" doesn't seem like anything anyone would consciously do. They might add in various systems and subsystems and modifiers for the sake of "realism" or "depth" but not with the intention of making it "heavy."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I get what your point is now. Very few people want rules for the sake of rules. I'd agree with that statement. I would also say that plenty of people have a fairly low filter for rules. If it does anything, regardless of how well, its probably a worthwhile rule. 


I'd also say the people who say "I want to add random charts" for stuff totally random. I think thats probably an example of adding rules for rules sake. 

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I get what your point is now. Very few people want rules for the sake of rules. I'd agree with that statement. I would also say that plenty of people have a fairly low filter for rules. If it does anything, regardless of how well, its probably a worthwhile rule.

In isolation, I can agree with that. Oh, a rule for wounds, cool. Oh, a rule for encumberance, that makes sense. Rules for light, neat. But if one's looking at a large mass of rules, there should be a high threshhold for deciding if adding a new one is worth it. Unfortunately, there too often isn't.

I'd also say the people who say "I want to add random charts" for stuff totally random. I think thats probably an example of adding rules for rules sake.

They want something out of it, so it's not just for the sake of the rule.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Very few people want rules for the sake of rules.

Not consciously. I suspect though that some players like rules solely for the sake of rules.

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