What you're doing right... that could go horribly wrong after the 5 lvl playtest

My goal as a GM has always to make the game balanced and fun for all players involved, and in that regard 5th has almost done well SO FAR.  And it looks like you removed MOST of the balance issues and the inpedements to a fun play-session.  Unfortunately some of these things look like they could potentially fall back into that old not REALY fun but just fun enough to not try anything else at levels beyond 5.

1.  Save or Die/Charmed/Paralized or Otherwise Helpless [to be refered to as save-or-(done)]
-- This, to me was the death of every 3.x campaign I ever ran.  When the power to end an encounter with a single roll became accesible to the players, it made everyone without that ability completely impotent.  If you were doing damage that had an actual number attached to it, and not making something (or multiple things) take saves to avoid being flat-out out of the encounter, then your actions became meaningless.   When the power became available to monsters, the same was true (and it seemed like the developers knew that, because you would be hard pressed to find a 3.x monster of CR 11+ that attacked in any way other than forcing players to make a save or be out of the fight.) Partially because saves auto-fail on a 1, and partially because ANY single d20 roll making a fully fleshed out character go from awake and at full health to making that player re-roll next session.  I saw player after player become disheartened and stop playing at that the exact point where save-or-(done) powers became a reality time and time again, it is probably the second most common reason for a game not making it past 11th level (the leading being ADD.)

When you re-introduced saving throws in the playtest, I got worried.  Fortunately, I did notice that there were absolutely NO powers resembling save-or-(done) mechanics.  The closest was the sleep spell, which is just mathematical a high damage all-or-nothing finishing move.  This is acceptable, because it means if someone is taken out of the fight by this, they are either SIGNIFIGANTLY below the level of the caster of the finishing move. The problem is that other than sleep and color spray (and some splat book powers not worth mentioning) most save-or-(done) abilities/spells/powers/etc... weren't introduced until level 7+ (the same time most people stopped playing games that start at lv1... think about it.)  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you insist on keeping saves as a mechanic (and I'll admit most of the players you lost with 4th wouldn't be happy without them,) keeping them all as high damage finishing moves instead of single die save-or-(done) abilities.

Bear in mind that it is imperative that ALL and not just SOME potential save-or-(done) abilities, because if one class has access to them, and another doesn't this just increases the imbalance issue. 

2  Full-Attack actions
--This one takes less explaining.  Yet another frustration to MANY players through the course o 3.x was the fact that, beyond a certain point, unless you were a caster, if you wanted to do big boy damage in a turn, you had to be standing still.  The absence of this (in my opinion) the biggest positive difference between 4th and 3.x: tactical combat.  Because damage still mattered [thanks to the absence of save-or-(done)] and because said damage was not significantly reduced by not moving, you had a MOBILE combat experience.  In the current version of 5th/next/the playtest, also has a mobile combat experience thanks to the absence of Full-Attack actions, save-or-(done) and one more feature (to be discussed below) .  The only problem is that for most people, full-attack-actions didn't start mattering until after 6th level (the notable exception being two-weapon-fighting, which works fundamentally different now.   Please don't include full-attacks after 5th level

3 The ability to negate attacks of opportunity
--As I mentioned above, tactically mobile battlefields are fun, and they make the combat experience fun in and of themselves.  One of the things that made tactical mobility matter in 4th as opposed to 3.5 (which was fun, but the combat wasn't fun in and of itself.)  However, full mobility can be just as boring and static as no mobility, and the ability (everyone always being able to attack everyone is just as boring as only being able to attack the person you charged or who charged you first turn.)  There seems to be no abbility to move without preventing attacks of opportunity without doing something equivalent to a 5 foot step or a shift.  This is good.  This is important.  Of course, without the above two qualities attacks of opportunity cease to be relevant because they don't do full-attack-level damage, or make the opponent make a save to avoid dying. 

4 Immunity to types of damage, particularly percision damage
--Save-or-(done) is the worst kind of "you don't get to play" anymore situation, but there is another kind of "you don't get to play" situation.  Have you built a fantastic  rogue/scout only to find out that the campaign is going to be one in-which you primarily fight undead, constructs, plants, and oozes?  Of course you have, and I've watched that player quit... or at least I would have if I hadn't have the house-rule that nothing is ever immune to percision damage, ever.  In a world where damage actually matters, completely negating someone's ability to do damage is the same as saying, "you rolled a one on your first die roll today, and it was a save, so you don't get to play."  The bigest difference,  is that while you don't have to roll an entirely new character, you didn't even get a single die roll to save you.  What's more, if you just flavor sneak attack a bit differently, then it makes perfect sense working against undead (aim for the brain against zombies,) constructs (clogging up the gears with your arrow,) and even oozes (leaking the bulk on the floor with a well timed and placed puncture.)



TLDR: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.



Edit: Edited for potentially flame war inducing edition banter

On the issue of the rogue/scout, why wouldn't someone make weaponry designed to take those out? For example, maybe there are smiths capable of forging masterwork arms that do elemental damage without providing any other magical benefit. And naturally those weapons are expensive compared to mundane arms, so a newbie rogue would only be able to afford one but could obtain a set over the course of a low-level campaign.

Another option is to use something like Ragnarok Online's card compounding system, where a rogue can (at fairly great expense) have a weapon upgraded to do better damage against a category of monsters? For example, a dagger that does increased damage against the undead, or a bow that crits oozes on a 18-20 when used with normal arrows ?

Either way, I don't see how these would require a change to the game mechanics. Sneak Attack RAW can work on any kind of monster or character, so these are module-level changes.
In 3.x, RAW sneak attack and scout damage specifically did not work on undead, constructs, plants, or oozes, and there seems to be no such caviat in the playtest.  I think that is a good thing, and I want them to not change that.  That's what this thread was: things that are right with the playtest that I don't want them to change, particularly things that I suspect they might change back to a more 3.x-ey state.
Some good points.  On the rogue, I have a feeling the Sneak Attack damage will work vs Undead & Constructs as it stands now... though probably not against oozes, Shambling Mounds, etc.  What honestly worries me just as much is the fact that the Sneak Attack Damage only adds 2d6.  this is fine for the first few levels but will cease to be of a major benefit.  I know we might (hopefully) see this benefit increase beyond LV 5. 

On Save or Done mechanic, I hear you & understand your concerns (OP).  However, I respectfully disagree; I think that the threat of the Save or Done mechanic can also work in favor of the PCs.  Also, it adds the threat of dire consequences for those who choose to live the life of an Adventurer.  "Go home, Willow.  It's a dangerous world" said Madmartigan to Willow.  Another thing of note about Saave or Done effects: many of them can be either prevented or can be dispelled.  Your character is turned to stone by a Basilisk??  Have your loyal companions get a Stone to Flesh cast on you to resore your beloved character.  Good preparation on the part of the PCs can greatly lessen the extent to which the Save or Done effects have on them....

Monday evening, my Pathfinder Rogue was turned to Stone by a Medusa (I rolled a 2 on my Saving Throw). So for now, my character is unplayable.  I can take over an NPC or play a temporary character until my main PC is restored... and I'm sure it won't take very long.

I'm not saying that save or done isn't balanced, it's perfectly balanced if everyone has access to it.  The problem is that it reduces what could be a chess match to a game of rock-paper-scisors.  When you lose, it wasn't because of how you played, but because you lost a single die roll, and if you win it wasn't because you defeated a challenging opponent with your superior tactics and preperation, but because you won a single die roll. I will never concede that rolling once for initiative and once for a save is more fun than a fully fleshed out tactical combat full of flaverfull maneuvers, witty banter, the ebb and flow of combat, and the constant uncertainty of outcome.  I played 3.x for years, and after level 7 or 8, with a well built party, and monsters of appropriate level, no fight lasted longer than one or two rounds, because that's what save or done does to combat: it makes it not fun.

Also, I sometimes hear the pro save or done mechanic argument that it adds to the realism, and I never understood the draw towards realism and away from heroic drama in a game about fantastic magical heroes fighting fantastic magic creatures in a world where magic, and good and evil as absolute measurable concepts objectively exist.  I thought we were escaping to a fantasy world.  I suppose I can respect your desire for realism in a fantasy game, I do play CoC afterall, but I would be verry sad (and I'm quite tight walleted when sad) if 5th turned into CoC medieval edition.  Because to be honest, if you replaced cthulan horror who auto kills you with a lord of the abyss, and replaced your flesh-to-stone spell with a rocket launcher, there is little difference between the endgame of a CoC game and a high level D&D game where save-or-done exists... and to be entirely frank, CoC just does that game better.  We should endeavor to do something that we do better than any other game: Dramatic Heroism in Fantasy.
@Aehrlon68: Sneak attack starts at 2d6, but goes up by 1d6 each level.  So at level 5, the 6d6 it adds is quite significant.

As odd at is sounds, I hope they leave Sneak Attack as usable against everything.  

For starters, it keep the game more consistant and doesn't gimp one of the key features of a core class. More than that, though, once you start adding in "logic", it opens Pandora's Box.  If you can't hit a vital point in an ooze, then you have to examine everything.  How could Crit Hits work on creatures without vulnerable points?  What about other type of creatures like Ghosts or Elementals?  How can you Parry against creature that don't have physical, hard, and/or material weapons?  Same with Protect.  What about Knock Down? Etc Etc.

Eventually, you just end up with a rules heavy system that's trying to make the fantastic realistic.

Just grab some dice and have fun in D&D playing a heroic character that does unbelievable things in a world that's hard to imagine in real life against enemies that only appear in fiction.
@Aehrlon68: Sneak attack starts at 2d6, but goes up by 1d6 each level.  So at level 5, the 6d6 it adds is quite significant.

As odd at is sounds, I hope they leave Sneak Attack as usable against everything....

Eventually, you just end up with a rules heavy system that's trying to make the fantastic realistic.

Just grab some dice and have fun in D&D playing a heroic character that does unbelievable things in a world that's hard to imagine in real life against enemies that only appear in fiction.


D'oh! I don't know how I missed that; I think I was looking in the far right column detailing Class Features & somehow overlooked it despite the Sneak Attack column being RIGHT NEXT TO the Features.  My bad & thanks for pointing it out, Shaderaven.  I too hope that Sneak Attack remains viable vs a variety of targets.  And I do like the advancement of it, though I can forsee them putting a cap on just how many extra d6s that a Rogue's player gets to roll. 

@Mjorkk: I can totally see where you're coming from and I do agree with you that the over-use of "Save or Done" effects is a bad thing.  I never over-used it when I ran my 3.x game and the one I still play in to this day, that DM does likewise.  The times you roll for your life are not overly abundant, but they are there from time to time.  AND the group has a powerful cleric on-board.  That really helps.  I think judicious use of them is the best way to handle Save or Done effects. 

And of course, your gaming group should always sit down with their DM before hand to discuss what kind of game they want to play.  Take ShadeRaven's comparison of a Save or Done heavy game such as CoC: I would never want a D&D game to be quite that lethal.  That being said, I confess I enjoy the sense of danger & knowing that at times, my character might not survive, despite my best efforts.  Sometimes you just have bad luck.  It happens.  So, yes, I do like having Save or Done in the game despite how I as a player might get hosed from time time.  You can't win them all...

It's true that SoD isn't disruptive if not overused... but that's the same as saying that rocket launchers aren't disruptive to a world of knights in shining armor if not overused.  If you live in a world where your two options of fighting are rocket launchers, or knights on horseback, there is literally no reason to ever use the knights other than for flavor.  Similarly, there is never any reason for a player to attemot to do damage to a monster when SoD is available.  Then you run into the problem of having a class who's whole schtick is having a giant bag of rocket launchers (Wizards.) 

I could likey it to the Shadowrun sniper-rifle cold war.  Mechanically, there is no reason to ever use any weapon other than a sniper rifle... ever, but having sniping all the guards then stealing the data is only marginally less boring than your whole team's heads simultaneously exploding from that sniper 100 yards away.  SO before every Shadowrun game, the GM and the Players will usually agree "if you don't open the shiper rifle's pandora's box, we won't."  Of course this makes sense in a setting where sniper rifles have to exist in order for the world to make sense (they exist now, so the must exist in the super-future.)  In, D&D it's just a mechanic, and if you remove the "sniper rifles" then you don't have to rely on cold wars to keep your game fun, they are just fun.
Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.  Your comparison is funny & to the point but I think it's missing some of the finer details.  I have played (& DMed all but 4E) all versions of our beloved D&D and I have not encountered one person who quit the game because of a SoD effect happening to them in game.  And even when/if it does happen, there's always Raise Dead.

SoD is not always so cut & dried (in effect, it is of course, just not in implementation).  Meaning, not just how often it is used but HOW & by whom.  Also keeping in mind that players who have their characters do their homework can either choose NOT to face a SoD threat that they know is there OR choose to face it while taking every available precaution.   Indeed, some earlier versions of the game up to and including Pathfinder still have an abundance of SoD.  From what I've read of D&D Next thus far, not so much.  Sure, there was a Medusa in the Caves of Chaos... Haven't fully read this new module.  I suspect that while SoD effects are still present, they will be relatively rare and only sporadically appear rather then become the default, do to effect.  I think the days of Power Word: Kill and Disintegrate are over...
Wouldn´t it be better if "Save or Done" effects were contested? This way you add the variable of the enemy also rolling poorly ans so your low-rolled Save could still, well, save you as long as it is higher than his. It is not a perfect soulution but it is a start and not too big a change from how it used to work.
I agree with many of your points OP, but i must say that right now they are managing SoD quite well. All SoD effects in the first 5 levels like hold person had this part added:

As an action, a creature affected by this spell can make a Wisdom check against your spell save DC to end the paralysis.

You basically get a new saving throw each turn. Makes for some powerful spell, but nothing like SoD.

There is no reason not to think that the spells on the following levels will follow this mechanic.
SoD has always been a tricky process in D&D (at least in versions that included it), especially for DMs, because it can certainly feel unfair and far too sudden.

I think it would behoove  them to include a section specifically about SoD effects in the DMs guide to help DMs understand how SoD can be used effectively and not mercilessly.

Take the Medusa, for example.  It's pretty easy to give details and warnings such that players will have plenty of indicators as to what they are getting into.  This allows them to come up with clever tactics that might allow them to overcome so deadly a power or to simply avoid the SoD.  Beyond that,  including Stone to Flesh potions in the adventure, having a local priest who is willing to freely remove the affliction from a character out of respect for all the good the group has done in the area, etc., can be used to overcome what seems like a game-over power.

In the original CoC, the Medusa encounter included both a roleplay opportunity and a curative.

It's important for DMs to understand the caution in which to use creatures or traps with SoD mechanics and the care in which they should be placed in an adventure or campaign.

All that said, as much as I don't want to add a lot of complexity to Next/5E, I honestly like the progression phases for afflictions introduced in 4E, and even ongoing if used for limited circumstances. But let's face it, some classic creatures, like the medusa, have pretty much singularly lethal features that won't feel the same unless they come with their full effect.
 

More than that, though, once you start adding in "logic", it opens Pandora's Box.  If you can't hit a vital point in an ooze, then you have to examine everything.


This is where D&D loses a lot of players. And this is where their current approach is risky and problematic. We speak about the key problem with D&D, the weakest point in it, and what makes it a game much worse than others. 


While the save or be charmed question can result in a compromise, because there are people who want to play characters who focus on charm, and we speak about iconic D&D spells, I could imagine a system where charming isn't done with a single action, but is a longer process. Heck, as you already know from another thread I play such systems. 


Sadly beholder is an iconic monster, and a beholder can kill someone instantly. I would consider to give options to protect party members from such spells fully and perfectly. That is, actual immunites the PCs can get, and if they do their legwork and know they should prepare against some attacks, they should be protected. This way the said iconic powers can stay in hands of the player characters.


The question about immunities and the logic or no logic question is a question where there is no middle ground. The OP spoke about chess and rock, paper, scissors for the "save or...". I would keep one half of his comparision: Chess. Currently D&D combat feels like playing chess. While in actual combat things happen at same time, and they happen quickly, D&D combat is a drawn out process where things happen slowly one after another. He actually likes the system and compare it to chess. And repeat one of the most negative oppinions about D&D combat system by pure coincidence. It feels like if adventurers would stop to play chess instead of going through a fast paced and chaotic combat.


We speak about immersion. 


A rogue sees an ooze, what would he think?


"I would go behind it, and stab it in a vulnerable spot" 


Behind? You don't know what is the front of an Ooze! Vulnerable spot? In an Ooze?


If you say a rogue gets sneak attack damage if the player doesn't roleplay his character, breaks immersion for tactical advantage, but gets no bonus if he tries to roleplay, we get in a scenario where we feel people aren't expected to roleplay, in fact they are expected to go out of charater to get higher bonuses. 


If core rules assume this then adventures, and everything will assume this, and people who want something else won't have fun. 


In a roleplaying game roleplaying and immersion should be more important than giving your rogue a predesigned option in combat. A rogue who can and should improvise, and a lot of improvise actions can cause damage to enemies can kill many enemies unseen. And this option should offer him a more fair chance than a sneak attack.


If a character depends too much on a single ability and cannot replace it if it is lost by other abilities or improvisation then the class is broken, and we shouldn't throw away immersion because we want to keep the class broken, when we have a chance to fix the class.


When I ask for more freedom in action would solve the rogue vs sneak attack immune monsters problem easily. 

I think the OP and Aehrlon68 are ultimately talking about a balance of usage of SoD.  The OP believes that ANY usage causes imbalance, because once someone learns how effective SoD can be, they migrate toward the most efficient combat option each time.   Aehrlon68 is arguing that there is a time and a place for SoD, proper usage can be rewarding, and it doesn't have to overwhelm the campaign.  Clearly, they are both right.  


It's a fine line to balance, I agree.  Perhaps one way would be to limit the monsters who can use SoD tactics to specialized "boss" monsters, or other rarely-encountered foes, and make sure DMs know that this is a rare situation.  Perhaps these monsters also always have a "work around," like the medusa in playtest 1, where smart player tactics or role playing can overcome even certain death.  I think this would keep the idea that this world can be deadly for those who want it, but keep the deadliness to a managable level for those who don't like it as much.  And by making it specific to certain monsters (or better yet, certain sub-types of certain monsters) DMs can feel free to avoid the situation altogether if they so choose.


That is only half the issue, though:  what about players?  In this case, you'd either have to take SoD out of players' hands altogether (which many won't like), or make SoD more like the "boss" monster situation:  i.e. very rare.  This could be accomplished with a very high resource cost (using the awful "per day" scenario, maybe all SoDs are 1/day, and you can't have more than a few of them).  It could also be handled with limited effectiveness:  i.e. SoDs only work on certain types of monsters, and those types are nothing as broad as "humanoids."  You could do both of these.  There are probably other options as well.


There has to be a good balance to allow us to have our SoDs and eat them, too.  



Re: sneak attack, I prefer to abstract sneak attacks much further.  Why talk about "puncturing a kidney" or something - especially when HP is more about wounds/fatigue - when you can just say you found an opening that lead you to a more damaging attack?  Maybe you caught the skeleton off-guard or the ooze over-extended part of itself and you cut off a pseudopod.  There's no reason to deny sneak attack as a mechanic just because of a narrow lore-based definition.

This is where D&D loses a lot of players. And this is where their current approach is risky and problematic. We speak about the key problem with D&D, the weakest point in it, and what makes it a game much worse than others.

Okay.  I am really trying to follow your thinking and come to some mutually beneficial interaction.

But you have to start off with broad, sweeping damnations that are clearly just your opinion but presented as fact.

D&D isn't, in fact, a game much worse than others.  D&D is a game much worse than others in your opinion.

There are thousands of people all over the world who enjoy D&D with great abandon.  Not only would they not consider it much worse than every other game, they (surprise, surprise) enjoy it more than other games.

It's hard to read beyond that because you've already set me up for what can only be more disgrunted dialect about how awful D&D is because it's not this or that.

There's a good argument for realism in D&D.  I've offered my own counterargument for why realism doesn't have to be included in an unreasonable game.  Both have merit, in my opinion.  And both can be argued satisfactorily.  Heck, there might even be some middle ground out there that will appease both sides!  That would be great.

But when you couch your arguments with so dismissive a statement to start, it's hard to believe that you are intending to do anything but attack the game that most of the rest of us are working to improve.
It's a fine line to balance, I agree.  Perhaps one way would be to limit the monsters who can use SoD tactics to specialized "boss" monsters, or other rarely-encountered foes, and make sure DMs know that this is a rare situation.  Perhaps these monsters also always have a "work around," like the medusa in playtest 1, where smart player tactics or role playing can overcome even certain death.

There has to be a good balance to allow us to have our SoDs and eat them, too.  


Re: sneak attack, I prefer to abstract sneak attacks much further.  Why talk about "puncturing a kidney" or something - especially when HP is more about wounds/fatigue - when you can just say you found an opening that lead you to a more damaging attack?  Maybe you caught the skeleton off-guard or the ooze over-extended part of itself and you cut off a pseudopod.  There's no reason to deny sneak attack as a mechanic just because of a narrow lore-based definition.


Excellent post, nuk.  I trimmed, unabashedly, to a few highlights.

I agree with you on limited/rare use.  For starters, they are game breaking to some degree and often  require special handling to allow escape clauses.  You don't want that very often because it feels gimmicky, takes feeling of self-determined fate out of the players hands (never a good thing to do very often), or (at worst) can bring a whole campaign to a screeching halt.

However, overcoming such dreadful foes can often be one of the greatest highlights of an adventurer's career.  Overcoming something you know has defeated many others, causes great fear, and is a rare accomplishment brings with it supreme pride and joy.

It's why I like my dragons in D&D to be DRAGONS.  Players might kill thousands of goblinoids over time, and that's not without bragging rights... but when they take down some horrific beast of legend that all others fear, well, now they are standing at the pinnacle of heroism.  It's well worth it to mix in these rare chances now and then.

And if they do happen to fall to these horrible creatures, it will only make it that much sweeter and more poignant when they get there revenge at some later date.

[Edit:] Oops.  Forgot to mention that I simply love your take on Sneak Attack.  Well said!

D&D isn't, in fact, a game much worse than others.  D&D is a game much worse than others in your opinion.




The problem is how we compare things. You try to compare things based on how much fun you have. I compare them in a different way. What goals they have for the system? What values should a system have to fulfill these goals? And what values the actual system has? Ask these questions and compare them.


If they want to support immersion focused players, they should keep immersion. Each and every minute where the rules would stand against the immersion is marked as a problem. In 100 minutes of play time how many such problems would you have? 


If they want to support tactical gameplay, they should keep players in a tactical game. Each and every minute where one or more player is out of a game based on a bad dice roll (SoD) is a problem. In 100 minutes of play time how many such problems would you have?


When these number of such problems are high, other systems can keep the consistently lower and can give better support to more playing styles then those systems are better and D&D is worse. Not because I don't like it, or don't want to like it. But because it has more issues apparent more often. 


The goal of playtest is to expose and fix all those problems.


To make the playtest better, it would be wise if we would compare different rule variants, and see which of them cause less problems and helps us to have fun.


As you see for SoD mechanic I said, if there are defenses agains SoD it is less of an issue. 


If people want charming characters, I would prefer charm powers that take more effort and time to execute but last longer. Move away from SoD and switch in balance a bit. 

I compare them in a different way. What goals they have for the system? What values should a system have to fulfill these goals? And what values the actual system has? Ask these questions and compare them.

Gosh darn it, I am going to hit the reply button to you again, aren't I?  -sigh-

Are you saying that "having fun" isn't one of your goals with D&D?  That all you are concerned with is 100% immersion?

I believe this is why D&D can't be, at it's core, everything for everyone.  The best they can hope for is finding the most common denominator and offering that. 

I bet more people want to have a fun game over a realistic, historically accurate, completely immersive, entirely story-driven, diceless, tactically sound, or impeccably balanced game (and so on).  Sure, it’ll be nice if they can find a way to support all of the various playstyles through accessories and options to come.

Let’s just start with “D&D Next is offering the most fun for the most people” and go from there.

Probably not acceptable for you though, is it?

 
Are you saying that "having fun" isn't one of your goals with D&D? 




So far, I explained how freedom can be combined with tactical elements. Yes, by turning some actions examples, and offering an optional rule to limit players to them. So instead of pursuing my fun, I proposed a way for middle ground. I list it because OP is interested in tactical gameplay.


So far, I explained how iconic things like charm person (I love charming characters) can be based on long term effort to keep both Charm and avoid SoD problems.


I suggested an option where SoD problem is mitigated by efficient protection, so iconic monsters and powers can stay, yet noone gets out of a tactical game from SoD. As I run mostly social games, beholders aren't important for me. I don't run tactical gaming. Yet I came out with a proposal to help both groups.


I told why immersion is the key for any fun in the game for us. But with freedom I want, I quickly helped the rogue 2 ways against sneak attack immune monsters.



  1. By letting him use more improvised things, so he depends far less on Sneak Attack powers

  2. By saying everyone can try to backstab, etc. rogues are just much better at it. With this when we balance classes we will see rogues need more powers, so they won't depend on one.


If we go by this logic, rogues will be experts at exploiting a situation, to their best knowledge, so I would give them a bonus and adventage to most situational trained or improvised attacks, not only the current Sneak Attack.


It would serve them well. So instead of saying "my way or the highway" my proposal of how class abilities, etc. should work for freedom fully avoid the problem of characters who depend too much on 1 class ability, and fixes the sneak attack immune monster problem without breaking immersion.


What is your middle ground? Hard coding the stuff we don't like, and trying to demand that we should enjoy the same stuff as you or you insult us more, with 0 proposals to find a compromise. 

If they want to support immersion focused players, they should keep immersion....

If they want to support tactical gameplay, they should keep players in a tactical game....


The goal of playtest is to expose and fix all those problems.


To make the playtest better, it would be wise if we would compare different rule variants, and see which of them cause less problems and helps us to have fun.


If people want charming characters, I would prefer charm powers that take more effort and time to execute but last longer. Move away from SoD and switch in balance a bit. 

Nukunuku, great post summing-up the 2 view points.  I think you have the crux of it and I also love your idea concerning Sneak Attack.
@ EnerlaNet, I believe, and one of the Devs will have to correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that at it's core, this new version of D&D is striving to be all of these things in the end. 

One question I have for you; can't much if not all of what you're describing be done by a really good DM?  And yes, in some cases, Optional or House rules.  In any game I ran, I always had a great level of immersion for my players.  Good descriptions of places, memorable events, recurring enemies, cliff-hanger endings, parts of the storyline & side adventures focused on each one of the PCs, etc.  ALL of which helped the immersion.  Tactically, I used a grid and miniatures whenever there was a combat that involved more than a handfull of foes... I didn't always strictly adhere to some of the 3.x rules (such as charging in my game need not necessarily be in a straight line, it can curve & you didn't have to target the nearest foe).

So in a nutshell, EnerlaNet, is there some reason a game can't be immersive, tactical, role-playing intensive, & sometimes 'dungeon-crawly' all at once?  Anytime I ran a game, I tried to do the "all of the above" approach... mainly to keep the game from getting stale, too much of the same, add in some variety, etc.  But also to give those aspects of the game time at the table for those who prefer that type of thing.  And I always had a least one battle; IMHO you have to have times where there is a struggle that involves the characters who are primarily focused on Combat.  The Fighters want to roll their dice too. 

One of the reasons I liked the Intimidate Skill so much in 3.x; it gave Fighters some skills to use outside of combat other than Swim & Ride... Don't care to see them on the list henceforth...  ALL adventurers should be able to do those and build fires, set up camp, etc. etc.  Rogues in the last few editions had skills that were of the most value outside of combat.  Sure, Clerics had their healing (which is also good IN battle), Wizards had their knowledge.  Maybe it's time to throw the Fighters a bone, give them a "Battle Lore" class ability that might give them a chance of knowing a monster's strength and/or weaknesses... just throwing that out there for the Developers.  Since all the other classes have some good out of combat skills, so too should a straight fighter.  Caveat: Rangers & Paladins probably already will.  I just hate to see Joe Fighter be a "one trick pony" as the saying goes...

Maybe it's time to throw the Fighters a bone, give them a "Battle Lore" class ability that might give them a chance of knowing a monster's strength and/or weaknesses... just throwing that out there for the Developers.  Since all the other classes have some good out of combat skills, so too should a straight fighter.  Caveat: Rangers & Paladins probably already will.  I just hate to see Joe Fighter be a "one trick pony" as the saying goes...

Actually, that's an excellent suggestion.  Consider me onboard with your proposal.

 

So in a nutshell, EnerlaNet, is there some reason a game can't be immersive, tactical, role-playing intensive, & sometimes 'dungeon-crawly' all at once?  




It can be in exactly one case. It is what D&D Next should achieve.


But for this it needs 3 things



  • Everything makes sense from IC sense should be possible in the system as well.

  • When you build tactical situations, you keep personality of character in mind, so staying IC would still let you achieve victory

  • Everything in your game should be explainable from terms of setting, and should be natural in the setting


A game that meets all 3 requiremets is a solid middle ground for everyones D&D. 

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Actually, I'm hoping that the developers have kept that in mind all along.  Sure, there are still going to be a fair amount of more casual players who want the "kill the monsters & take their stuff/hack n slash" game where there is little role-playing and IC (In Character) stuff.  I only very rarely ever participated in a game like that.  The story & over-riding narrative were what mattered... or more to the point, how the characters fit into it, changed it, affected it, etc.  Many times over the years I have been surprised and impresses with industrious players and the unique ideas they came up with to face and overcome some of my challenges. 

One of my favorite ones was back in the day of AD&D (I was a player, not DM for this one): we were fleeing from some Fire Giants, having entered their tower and were getting our butts kicked.  We were headed past an unrailed balcony & down a long flight of stairs; our dwarf cleric was in the rear and smashed an Oil of Slipperyness potion on the balcony right before the stairs where the giant would have to pass through.  As we retreated, not one but TWO fire giants slipped off the top ledge and fell down the 100 foot drop to their deaths below.  And the rest were slowed down enough that we got away.  Sadly, one beloved NPC of ours lost his life as a giant's axe that had come loose during its fall landed on him, finishing him off.  But we got away and brought him back.
One of my favorite ones was back in the day of AD&D (I was a player, not DM for this one): we were fleeing from some Fire Giants, having entered their tower and were getting our butts kicked.  We were headed past an unrailed balcony & down a long flight of stairs; our dwarf cleric was in the rear and smashed an Oil of Slipperyness potion on the balcony right before the stairs where the giant would have to pass through.  As we retreated, not one but TWO fire giants slipped off the top ledge and fell down the 100 foot drop to their deaths below.  And the rest were slowed down enough that we got away.  Sadly, one beloved NPC of ours lost his life as a giant's axe that had come loose during its fall landed on him, finishing him off.  But we got away and brought him back.

Heh.  Awesome stuff, Aehrlon.

I really hope they do a good job (and I expect they will based on previous versions) of making it clear that DMs should always strive for ways to say "yes" and encourage creativity and roleplaying solutions.

One of the most valuable skills a DM can acquire is the realization that the game isn't just about hardfast rules, but the ability to be able to adapt to the players and make-it-up on the fly.

Before I upset the "but the book says!" types, I will conceed that I haven't always been a "perfect DM" when it comes to adhering to the letter of the law.

And, honestly, looking back at my formative years (started DMing at 13), man, I made a lot of mistakes in how I even applied the rules I intended to use as written. lol. No regrets, though, because us bunch of 10-13 year olds at that time were have a blast playing D&D in some of our free time.  I am not going to apologize for having fun with the game.  It's one of the reasons I still play it so many years later. They give us a great basis to live out fantastic lives or narrate wonder-filled worlds.  How we apply the rest of it to suit our needs doesn't really matter as long as we are enjoying the product.


Sadly beholder is an iconic monster, and a beholder can kill someone instantly. I would consider to give options to protect party members from such spells fully and perfectly. That is, actual immunites the PCs can get, and if they do their legwork and know they should prepare against some attacks, they should be protected. This way the said iconic powers can stay in hands of the player characters.


A rogue sees an ooze, what would he think?


"I would go behind it, and stab it in a vulnerable spot" 


Behind? You don't know what is the front of an Ooze! Vulnerable spot? In an Ooze?


If you say a rogue gets sneak attack damage if the player doesn't roleplay his character, breaks immersion for tactical advantage, but gets no bonus if he tries to roleplay, we get in a scenario where we feel people aren't expected to roleplay, in fact they are expected to go out of charater to get higher bonuses. 




Your assumption that players wouldn't be able to role play an appropriate sneak attack against an ooze, or role play a sneak attack as anything other than sneaking around the back and hitting a vulnerable point is insulting to players, but unfortunately not uncommon of DM's

Also, yes the beholder is iconic, but in 4e, he couldn't one shot somebody instantly, and it still worked just fine.  In-fact it took the beholder from something I had to never include in my campaigns, and find an excuse to write out of lore, to something that could exist. Improved the fun of the game, perhaps at the cost of a bit of "realism."  Well worth it in my oppinion.



One question I have for you; can't much if not all of what you're describing be done by a really good DM?  And yes, in some cases, Optional or House rules.  In any game I ran, I always had a great level of immersion for my players.  Good descriptions of places, memorable events, recurring enemies, cliff-hanger endings, parts of the storyline & side adventures focused on each one of the PCs, etc.  ALL of which helped the immersion.  Tactically, I used a grid and miniatures whenever there was a combat that involved more than a handfull of foes... I didn't always strictly adhere to some of the 3.x rules (such as charging in my game need not necessarily be in a straight line, it can curve & you didn't have to target the nearest foe).





While this argument is true, I must contest its validity.  Any game, I repeat ANY GAME can be made fun by a good DM/GM, no matter how broken, unbalanced, unimmersive, unrealistic, unfantastic, untactical, and confusing its mechanics are.  This is a function of a good GM, not the game.  The goal should be to make a good game, that nurtures new and novice DM/GM's into fruition so tha every group doesn't have that groaning match about who has to be stuck with the GM role, adn so players don't quit because they've only experienced unexperienced or just piss-poor gm's
"A perfect summation of the argument at hand that I totally agree with up until the point"

That is only half the issue, though:  what about players?  In this case, you'd either have to take SoD out of players' hands altogether (which many won't like), or make SoD more like the "boss" monster situation:  i.e. very rare.  This could be accomplished with a very high resource cost (using the awful "per day" scenario, maybe all SoDs are 1/day, and you can't have more than a few of them).  It could also be handled with limited effectiveness:  i.e. SoDs only work on certain types of monsters, and those types are nothing as broad as "humanoids."  You could do both of these.  There are probably other options as well.


Re: sneak attack, I prefer to abstract sneak attacks much further.  Why talk about "puncturing a kidney" or something - especially when HP is more about wounds/fatigue - when you can just say you found an opening that lead you to a more damaging attack?  Maybe you caught the skeleton off-guard or the ooze over-extended part of itself and you cut off a pseudopod.  There's no reason to deny sneak attack as a mechanic just because of a narrow lore-based definition.




1: I still contest that giving SoD to any player, and not giving it to every other class, at comprable levels is inherintly unballanced to unacceptable levels of lack of ballance (and yes there ara acceptable levels.) This is because SoD is so much better than any other option, that if you give it to one character, and not to another, the seccon character becomes completely irrelevant in combat, no matter what else you give him outside of SoD.  Sure he can be useful out of combat, and that might arguably make for a "ballancing mechanic" but one of the strengths of 4th (and I'm not saying it didn't have weaknesses) that sould be endeavored to be carried into next is the fact that the combat, in-and-of-itself was ballanced, and fun without any additions from a good GM.  This doesn't mean I don't support good GM's, I'm just saying not every player has access to a truly good GM, but that doesn't mean they don't have the right to a good time.

Theone way I could see SoD being balanced in a world where it is relegated to the rare and occasional boss monster were if every character at a certain level (let's say 11th, or maybey 8th idk) got a "finnishing move" that could be performed on a verry limited basis (personally once a day is too much for me, and I'd say once a game session, but many players and GM's don't like dramatically defined cooldowns rather than time defined cooldowns, so maybey 1/2days,) and had a scaling SoD dc, based on their character or class level.  The rogue headshots, the wizard charms, or uses phantasmal killer, the fighter chops his enemies head off, the cleric converts the enemy to the light of their deity, or whatever the player wants to define their personal "finishing move" as.  But SoD is so much better than evey other option immaginible, that you have to give it to everyone or no one.

Finally, what you said about sneak attacks, is EXACTLY what I've been since a few months after 3rd was released.  It works wonders, and makes the game more fun every time.  And it actually requires more role-playing and immersion from the players.  If they want to sneak attack something, you say "allright, go ahead, but how do you do it: describe it"  This forces the players to be creative, and makes not only their character's mechanics feel relevant, but the player's creativity and ingenuity feel relevant.

Also, yes the beholder is iconic, but in 4e, he couldn't one shot somebody instantly, and it still worked just fine. 





I'd just like to know if your players or you, as a player were afraid to go near one? If not I'd like to point out that the monster didn't work just fine. It became a woosie monster with little ability to harm your party and merely became yet another meaningless(?) source of experience points.

Taking out a creatures teath before using them in game cheapens them. Being afraid to use them because they might disintegrate a party member or two seems to me to mean that before they were neutered they were dangerous and scary to the point that the mere name would cause players to shudder. (And that's with the knowledge that by the time a party was high enough level to have a reasonable chance of beating one, their saving throws would be so low as to make the death attack moot anyway.)

Arguing against death attacks without admitting that for the most part those death attacks are rendered nearly harmless by dint of martial prowess or magical fortitude and pure luck seems to me to be an indication of lack of intestinal fortitude. 

D&D was, and should have always been, about survival and daring. There's nothing heroic about a campaign fulled with a constant stream of easy or slightly difficult victories for 20 odd levels. Where's the fun in that?

I'd really love for the devs to give the teeth back to all of the monsters that lost them over the years. Even the lowly giant spider should be able to kill you with it's bite the very first time it hits you and every time after as well. The same goes for medusa's and poison traps on locks and that ten ton block of granite hanging over your head in that dark cavern. All of these attacks come with a perfectly good method of avoiding the effects, it's called a saving throw. 

Lately it seems that D&D has become a role playing game for pampered so and so's. In my games we play for keeps. 

Also, yes the beholder is iconic, but in 4e, he couldn't one shot somebody instantly, and it still worked just fine. 





I'd just like to know if your players or you, as a player were afraid to go near one? If not I'd like to point out that the monster didn't work just fine. It became a woosie monster with little ability to harm your party and merely became yet another meaningless(?) source of experience points.

Taking out a creatures teath before using them in game cheapens them. Being afraid to use them because they might disintegrate a party member or two seems to me to mean that before they were neutered they were dangerous and scary to the point that the mere name would cause players to shudder. (And that's with the knowledge that by the time a party was high enough level to have a reasonable chance of beating one, their saving throws would be so low as to make the death attack moot anyway.)

Arguing against death attacks without admitting that for the most part those death attacks are rendered nearly harmless by dint of martial prowess or magical fortitude and pure luck seems to me to be an indication of lack of intestinal fortitude. 

D&D was, and should have always been, about survival and daring. There's nothing heroic about a campaign fulled with a constant stream of easy or slightly difficult victories for 20 odd levels. Where's the fun in that?



1: Please , explain to me how "martial prowess" can in any way make a death attack "meaningless."  Seaiously, after 5th level, "martial prowess" is the most meaningless thing ever in any edition 3rd and before.  Anyone who played a non-caster on 3rd, who wanted to feel relevant beyond the 5th-7th level plateau of ballance killed themselves so they could create new characters, because swinging a sword doesn't mean anything when everyone else is playing rocket tag. 

2: Removing the possibility of death after a single roll of a single d20 does NOT mean removing the possibility of death.  Just because something can't kill you instantly doesn't mean it can't kill you.  Death should be an ever present threat, but MEANINGLESS INSTANT death shouldn't.  If a fantasy action movie had a revolving cast of functionally nameless supposed "main characters," a half of whom died every eppisode, only to be replaced by another "main character" who is almost certainly going to die before you learn their character motivation, you see any character growth, or you even bother to remember their name, would that be engaging and immersive, or boring and patronizing to the audience? 

The threat of death leads to a more exciting gaming experience, the statistical certainty of meaningless instant death within the next three sessions makes it feel like you're just exploring a nihilistic wasteland devoid of meaning... and if players wanted to do that they wouldn't need a fantasy game, they'd only need legs... or a wheelchair... even a telescope would do... I'm saying we live in a nihilistic wasteland devoid of meaning and that's why we need fantasy games to escape.  It'd be like an NFL team playing fantasy football... why even bother?

believe me, I know what you are waxing nostalgic about, I started with 2nd as well, and felt disenfranchized by the "Newbification" of 3rd, and the making everything "like Magic Cards," but in the long run, I realized that having an immersive heroic game was actually more fun for both the GM and the players.  If you wanted to play the game you are describing, honestly you don't even need rules, you just need a stack of character sheets with descriptions, and a die with the same numbe of sides as their are players.  Every few minutes roll a die, and that person dies and is handed a new character off of the stack.  GM power trip: yes, fun for all involved: no.

To illustrate my point, have you ever played the original tomb of elemental evil?  Think back, did your character have any impact on... well... anything.  I'll give you a hint: one of my friends started replacing the PC's in TOEE with girl scouts who are trying to sell the dread lich cookies and started running "Girl Scouts in the Tomb of Elemental Evil" at cons... and nothing changed... the statistical survival rating was identical.  Heroic adventurers having the same survivability as girl scouts=not heroic... arguably less heroic than a tothless world where death isn't possible (Which is not what a higher survivability game with a good GM is.)
Good points, Mjorkk (if somewhat exaggerated at times). SoD was always handled with a careful touch by me, with almost always some sort of "out" for roleplayed or intelligent handling of the situation.

I must, though, admit to still employing some of the horrors of old editions of D&D that did include some of these one-shot mechanisms (not all cause death, but they all essentially removed that character from play for some period of time).

Flashing forward, I guess I DMed them similar to Boss Fights in modern MMOs.  Don't Stand in the Fire!  Don't Move during Wreath.  Swap Tanks when x happens.  Etc. 

Give some sort of descriptive point of reference as to how to defeat a creature with awful powers.  Lore from that old hermit.  A special elixir you have to trick/roleplay from the blind hag in the swamp.  The Oath of Fealty given to the Magus Lord to earn a protective boon.

But, as I said before, it was nice to have 4E's condition tracker for progressing ailments... but not sure if that's too... mechanical... for Next, where less tracking and smoother play is the theme. 
Leave SoD mechanics in for those who want to use them. Those who don't want to use them don't have to use them.

/that part of the thread
My two copper.
Fair point Jenks.  And if next included a special box on SoD, with viable balancing options for including it in a setting, or expunging it entirely from a setting, or perhaps included an optional alternate mechanic like sleep's "effects X HP worth of enemies" for every SoD effect, that'd be great... but I find it unlikely that they are going to do that, and it saddens me.

I would verry much like a pre-balanced SoD-less option that doesn't require months and months of playtesting and re-balancing on my part, because it took damn near years to rebalance the classes in 3.5 with my "no SoD ever" house rule.  Is it lazy to want them to do it for me: yeah, but hey they are devs, it's their job to do that sort of balancing work for us when the option is available, and I think there are enough other GM's out there who would REALLY like to be able to run a game without the mechanic without having to spend months and months balancing a house-rule, but still be able to draw from the large player pool that 3.5 created through a decade of powerful marketing.  Hell, even a UA style caviat... okay well a caviat that's more balanced than most of the stuff in UA... would be acceptable, heck they even demonstrated an available mechanic alternative in the sleep spell. 


I think i'm lost.

Why are you discussing the problems caused by SoD effects where there are none in the playtest except for the medusa?

Hold person, charm person, sleep, ghoul touch, web and suggestion were all modified so that they are no longer SoD.

Even the Medusa's effect can be avoided, except in particular situations.
Because my good man, this is a "things you are doing right, please don't change them back before release" thread.  I thought what you mentioned was something they were doing right, and I want them to not change it.  Also, I have a question about the medusa having a genuine mechanical SoD effect: is it A medusa, or THE medusa (if it is the latter, it is much more acceptable... I haven't donloaded the adventure module yet)
Oh sorry, the discussion went on for so long that i thought we were discussing an actual problem. Sometimes you just forget the thread title.

As for the Medusa, it was a mechanic of the Medusa as monster, not for that particular one.

Yet we no longer know, in the last version of the bestiary she is not present.
That is most unfortunate. If we continue with the SoD=Rocket launchers analogy, then that means that hypothetically, if this isnot changed, then an entire numerous race that exists all over the cosmology, and not just a single badass named individual, all have rocket launchers by virtue of existing.  I hope they fix this, either by removing the SoD from medusae, or giving them an alternative non-SoD mechanic for turn to stone (turns... idk 10d6HP worth of creatures into stone for example could work, depending on the level of players it is expecting to go up against.)
I will agree with some points here. Make sods optional or very rare and special sounds very nice to me.

The only thing I dont want to be a keeper is the sneak attack ability as is.

I know it is balancing, and for people who have no problem with it I'd say keep it as is. But I dont understand why my rogue player has to struggle everytime to roleplay his ability because it doesnt make sense in his head? No other base class has this problem so far.

I'd propose either change its description to something new, or add some more rogue abilities that can be achieved by trading your sneak attack damage. I think rogues do need some love anyway.

It may not be a problem to all, but it is a problem to some and I think next should adress this issue instead of ignoring it.

I believe it is possible to balance these things (SoD, Sneak Attack) without either a) pushing a generic power game that leaves the powers devoid of uniqueness or b) limits them to the point of uselessness.

I would make the base Sneak Attack ability only useable against creatures of 'discernable anatomy' (a la 3.x edition), but allow Rogue players the option to become familiar with other creature types by taking a Feat/Skill/Specialty.  Thus, the base ability doesn't become a generic 'boomstick' ability (Tumble - Stab - Creature Explodes - Repeat). 

Strange that the main complaint of players in 3.x was that the Rogue had become either a TrapMonkey or Sneak Attack Commando, and now I see several posters wanting to make the class a 3d6 sniper.  Step back and ask yourself if you would play the Rogue class if DNDNEXT had a packet version that took sneak Attack away and replaced it with an evasion ability.  I suspect many players would call foul - and that exposes the issue.  If the Rogue boils down to a Sneak Attack opportunist with the ability to find traps, then it needs to be reworked.

As for SoD, it would be better if each 'SoD' attack had unique limitations or conditions.  Forinstance, a Charmed opponent gets a save every time the Charmer uses an offensive ability or allows the charmed creature to be harmed.  Hold Person could allow a save each round as a free action with Disadvantage.  DND5E will need to be more creative than linking everything to HP with spells.

Fundamentally, what sets D&D apart is that it is a simulation with no limits on player actions.  In each instance, we need to evaluate what is being described on it's own merits, separate for the numbers.  That is what changes, "I tumble to the flank for advantage and roll a 15 to hit and sneak attack for 12 points of damage." into, "While the cleric has the ogre distracted, you slip behind the brute and jam your shortsword into it's ribs.  It bellows with rage and twists away, dragging the sword from the wound."  Take the Medusa suggestion:  At the end of 10d6, what has happened?  Have her eyes run out of mana?  How long does it take to refill her power? From a mythical standpoint, it makes no sense - and to me, that overrules abitrary changes for the sake of game balance.
Linking everything to HP is not uncreative, it's simplistically elegant, balanced, and maintains the relevance of HP throughout all class levels.  As any engineer or computer scientist can tell you, simple elegance in theory and execution takes more creativity, not less.