Legends & Lore - RPG Design Philosophy

Legends & Lore 
RPG Design Philosophy

By Mike Mearls

I’m having a funny moment this morning as I sit down to write Legends & Lore. In early 2011, we launched the column because we saw a massive gulf between the audience of D&D players and DMs (everyone reading this column) and the people responsible for making the game (R&D).

Talk about this column here.

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Not a bad article but it is big on the ideals, light on what those ideals mean in practice.
I like to see those Ideals that they're working towards though, myself.  So I think this is a good article.  I like what he's saying he wants to do, and hope that he can deliver.  The proof will be in the playtesting.
I like to see those Ideals that they're working towards though, myself.  So I think this is a good article.  I like what he's saying he wants to do, and hope that he can deliver.  The proof will be in the playtesting.



Agreed on all fronts.
A big +1 on the "The rules shall balance character options, within reason" philosophy. It's the #2 reason I liked 4E as much as I did (#1 was how easy it made my job as DM). Interestingly enough, it seems that 4E did break the first design philosophy for many people; some of the rules got in the way of people's enjoyment of the game (limited use powers for non-casters, encounter powers for casters ...).

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Not a bad article but it is big on the ideals, light on what those ideals mean in practice.


That was the point, you have successfully completed your Reading Comprehension.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
It sounds to me like he's repeating what we've been trying to tell them on the forums for months. Of course then you look at the play test packet and see signs of the God Wizards of old and realize they either don't have a clue how to design a balanced 3.xE style game or they are just talking out of their hat...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
"Most games are concerned with maintaining fairness, providing clarity, and covering every conceivable event in the game, but D&D is different. As a cooperative game, it relies on the DM to cover those areas. There is one exception, however."

Instead of fairness, I will refer to clarity, as that is the most important thing between a player and a DM, and all aspects of the game should strive for that goal. DM fiat when you go outside the rules will never have a satisfactory answer, depending on your take on the subject and whether you trust your DM or players; depending on where you sit at the table.

"The rules shall balance character options, within reason. D&D gives players classes, races, spells, and other options to build characters." 

I believe this extends into other areas of the game as well including monster and magic items design, as it all must be considered.

But the item they will not be able to address, is creating a game that satisfies everyones preferences in regards to the version of D&D they enjoy. That will fall upong the player base to reach some compromises.      
  

It sounds to me like he's repeating what we've been trying to tell them on the forums for months. Of course then you look at the play test packet and see signs of the God Wizards of old and realize they either don't have a clue how to design a balanced 3.xE style game or they are just talking out of their hat...



I have a fairly intelligent group of players - as, I presume, do most folks. So if your statement were categorically true, then I would further conclude that my players (being intelligent, and wanting more effective characters) would be mostly playing Wizards, to have more power.

I just, in the second playtest session for the new packet, got a Wizard in the party. In the first session, we had a Dwarven Fighter, a Human Cleric, a Human Sorcerer, and an Elf Warlock. In the second session, the player of the Warlock was feeling poorly, so she sat out, and we got a Human Rogue and an Elf Wizard, finally.

Even then, he didn't actually have to do much. He cast magic missile once or twice, tried shocking grasp (and failed) and cast a ray of frost once. That was it. Certainly not a god level of power there, and doubly certainly not overpowering the rest of the party. If anyone was the most powerful, it was the sorcerer, with being able to wear armor, wield a bastard sword, and still cast spells (in addition to the Dragon Strength ability).

YMMV, of course, but I haven't yet seen your statement play out in practice.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

It sounds to me like he's repeating what we've been trying to tell them on the forums for months. Of course then you look at the play test packet and see signs of the God Wizards of old and realize they either don't have a clue how to design a balanced 3.xE style game or they are just talking out of their hat...



I have a fairly intelligent group of players - as, I presume, do most folks. So if your statement were categorically true, then I would further conclude that my players (being intelligent, and wanting more effective characters) would be mostly playing Wizards, to have more power.

I just, in the second playtest session for the new packet, got a Wizard in the party. In the first session, we had a Dwarven Fighter, a Human Cleric, a Human Sorcerer, and an Elf Warlock. In the second session, the player of the Warlock was feeling poorly, so she sat out, and we got a Human Rogue and an Elf Wizard, finally.

Even then, he didn't actually have to do much. He cast magic missile once or twice, tried shocking grasp (and failed) and cast a ray of frost once. That was it. Certainly not a god level of power there, and doubly certainly not overpowering the rest of the party. If anyone was the most powerful, it was the sorcerer, with being able to wear armor, wield a bastard sword, and still cast spells (in addition to the Dragon Strength ability).

YMMV, of course, but I haven't yet seen your statement play out in practice.




Yeah, notice I said signs. I didn't actually say the Wizard was overpowered yet, but then again in any version the Wizard isn't overpowered from level 1-5. It starts getting overpowered at level 7+ in previous editions. So we'll have to see if WotC learned their lesson...

The signs we see are:

  1. Save or Suck spells like Ghoul's Touch, Hold Person, Grease, etc...etc...

  2. Save or Die spells like Hold Person and Sleep

  3. Spells that when combined are deadly like Stinking Cloud + Web/Hold Person/Grease

Like I said its not broken yet, but its showing some major signs that it could be broken later. #3 can be done now to destroy any encounter especially if you have a few Dwarf melee characters to lure the monsters in. Stinking Cloud does 2d10 damage per round and can be used at 5th level in 2 out of the suggested 4 encounters. Tell your Wizard about that little combo when they get to level 5 and then see how 'broken' the play test becomes...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.


Yeah, notice I said signs. I didn't actually say the Wizard was overpowered yet, but then again in any version the Wizard isn't overpowered from level 1-5. It starts getting overpowered at level 7+ in previous editions. So we'll have to see if WotC learned their lesson...

The signs we see are:

  1. Save or Suck spells like Ghoul's Touch, Hold Person, Grease, etc...etc...

  2. Save or Die spells like Hold Person and Sleep

  3. Spells that when combined are deadly like Stinking Cloud + Web/Hold Person/Grease

Like I said its not broken yet, but its showing some major signs that it could be broken later. #3 can be done now to destroy any encounter especially if you have a few Dwarf melee characters to lure the monsters in. Stinking Cloud does 2d10 damage per round and can be used at 5th level in 2 out of the suggested 4 encounters. Tell your Wizard about that little combo when they get to level 5 and then see how 'broken' the play test becomes...



Yeah, I've seen your complaints about AoE spells + some sort of movement lock-down spell. I'm not really that worried about it, honestly. If someone wants to use intelligent tactics (and reducing your enemy's movement in order to murder them is a perfectly good tactic - read some Sun Tzu for that), then that's fine.

Even without that, though, I've found with the reduction of monster hit points, combats have become too easy anyway. With the exception of the grey ooze in the House Center portion of the "Reclaiming Blingdenstone" adventure, the PC's more or less walked through it. The wight in the throne room was down in a round or two, tops. Intelligent tactics like reducing movement, concentrated fire, etc, are things that I want my players to be using, because you can be damn sure that when they are facing an opponent that would also use intelligent tactics, it's going to happen to them too.

Again, YMMV, but I'm not seeing much - outside of some tweaks I think some spells need (I think Arc Lightning does too much damage, for instance) - that is causing me to freak out. Actually, nothing is causing me to freak out at all; there are some things that I have some slight concern about, but it's nothing game breaking, or that I can't fix at my table.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

Legends & Lore 
RPG Design Philosophy

By Mike Mearls

In early 2011, we launched the column because we saw a massive gulf between the audience of D&D players and DMs (everyone reading this column) and the people responsible for making the game (R&D).

Funny.

I could have sworn they started that article as a lead-in to the announcement that they were making a 5E. Oh, and that 5E was will be the one to link all the previous editions they were going to remind us about together......Frown

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



Yeah, notice I said signs. I didn't actually say the Wizard was overpowered yet, but then again in any version the Wizard isn't overpowered from level 1-5. It starts getting overpowered at level 7+ in previous editions. So we'll have to see if WotC learned their lesson...

The signs we see are:

  1. Save or Suck spells like Ghoul's Touch, Hold Person, Grease, etc...etc...

  2. Save or Die spells like Hold Person and Sleep

  3. Spells that when combined are deadly like Stinking Cloud + Web/Hold Person/Grease

Like I said its not broken yet, but its showing some major signs that it could be broken later. #3 can be done now to destroy any encounter especially if you have a few Dwarf melee characters to lure the monsters in. Stinking Cloud does 2d10 damage per round and can be used at 5th level in 2 out of the suggested 4 encounters. Tell your Wizard about that little combo when they get to level 5 and then see how 'broken' the play test becomes...



Yeah, I've seen your complaints about AoE spells + some sort of movement lock-down spell. I'm not really that worried about it, honestly. If someone wants to use intelligent tactics (and reducing your enemy's movement in order to murder them is a perfectly good tactic - read some Sun Tzu for that), then that's fine.

Even without that, though, I've found with the reduction of monster hit points, combats have become too easy anyway. With the exception of the grey ooze in the House Center portion of the "Reclaiming Blingdenstone" adventure, the PC's more or less walked through it. The wight in the throne room was down in a round or two, tops. Intelligent tactics like reducing movement, concentrated fire, etc, are things that I want my players to be using, because you can be damn sure that when they are facing an opponent that would also use intelligent tactics, it's going to happen to them too.

Again, YMMV, but I'm not seeing much - outside of some tweaks I think some spells need (I think Arc Lightning does too much damage, for instance) - that is causing me to freak out. Actually, nothing is causing me to freak out at all; there are some things that I have some slight concern about, but it's nothing game breaking, or that I can't fix at my table.



I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



Yeah. Intelligent tactics have to be situational, otherwise it just turns into an "I win" button. The problem with a lot of wizard tacitcs in editions prior to 4E was that the spells were just too good in all cases. It wasn't intelligent tactics so much as just a series of spells that destroyed almost anything they came across, especially since casters got so many spells at later levels.


There's definitely a tension between "rewarding player cleverness/tactics/other nice-sounding things" and "now that you or somebody else that you were playing with or the internet has come up with this trick, your character is significantly more powerful forever." Extremely powerful combinations of character abilities that are too universally applicable do the opposite of rewarding good tactics; they reduce the need for them in any encounter not built to make the trick less applicable.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



To be fair, it's not that two spells work so well together, it's that Hold Person is broken as it currently stands.  Flaming Sphere, for instance, would do similar damage (4d6 for 10 rounds, save for half), and just being able to lock down a creature for 1 minute with no save would be devestating against any creature with no at-will ranged attacks.  Fix Hold Person (for instance, just add a save each round to break the hold) and the problem is solved.
I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



To be fair, it's not that two spells work so well together, it's that Hold Person is broken as it currently stands.  Flaming Sphere, for instance, would do similar damage (4d6 for 10 rounds, save for half), and just being able to lock down a creature for 1 minute with no save would be devestating against any creature with no at-will ranged attacks.  Fix Hold Person (for instance, just add a save each round to break the hold) and the problem is solved.



Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



To be fair, it's not that two spells work so well together, it's that Hold Person is broken as it currently stands.  Flaming Sphere, for instance, would do similar damage (4d6 for 10 rounds, save for half), and just being able to lock down a creature for 1 minute with no save would be devestating against any creature with no at-will ranged attacks.  Fix Hold Person (for instance, just add a save each round to break the hold) and the problem is solved.



Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...



Or else it spends one round crawling out of both the grease area AND the cloud.  Actually, since your combo takes 2 rounds to complete, the creature is already out of the grease area when the cloud goes off anyway, so it just walks out of the cloud area with no difficulty.
Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...



Yes, this is bad...if you ignore the fact that the 33 points is over 4 to 5 rounds.  The first round is to cast grease, the second is to cast stinking cloud, and then the next three rounds that the creatures are in the cloud, based on your assumption of a 75% chance to miss the save (which obviously you don't know because it will vary from creature to creature).  So we're talking a damage output of between 6.6 to 8.25 per round, which doesn't seem overwhelming for level 3 or higher creatures (though with this playtest its a bit hard to tell - the monster stats really are wonky).

Now compare that to a fighter at the same level, with a 1d8 weapon, 18 Str, and 1d8 Expertice Dice, and he's doing 4.5 + 4.5 + 4 for 13 points of damage.  If we assume he hits 60% of the time (depends on monster, obviously, but he'll have a +7 to attack just from class and Str bonus, which with 10 average roll is better than most level 3 monsters), then that corresponds to 7.8 damage per round.  Now AoE attacks should do a bit less than a single-target attack, so it does seem a little out of whack - but not so as to "obliterate" every encounter.  Just based on the numbers, a little tweeking seems necessary, but nothing major.  But then I haven't played this iteration yet, so maybe things will work differently in actual play.

Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...

 

Yes, this is bad...if you ignore the fact that the 33 points is over 4 to 5 rounds.  The first round is to cast grease, the second is to cast stinking cloud, and then the next three rounds that the creatures are in the cloud, based on your assumption of a 75% chance to miss the save (which obviously you don't know because it will vary from creature to creature).  So we're talking a damage output of between 6.6 to 8.25 per round, which doesn't seem overwhelming for level 3 or higher creatures (though with this playtest its a bit hard to tell - the monster stats really are wonky).

Now compare that to a fighter at the same level, with a 1d8 weapon, 18 Str, and 1d8 Expertice Dice, and he's doing 4.5 + 4.5 + 4 for 13 points of damage.  If we assume he hits 60% of the time (depends on monster, obviously, but he'll have a +7 to attack just from class and Str bonus, which with 10 average roll is better than most level 3 monsters), then that corresponds to 7.8 damage per round.  Now AoE attacks should do a bit less than a single-target attack, so it does seem a little out of whack - but not so as to "obliterate" every encounter.  Just based on the numbers, a little tweeking seems necessary, but nothing major.  But then I haven't played this iteration yet, so maybe things will work differently in actual play.



The fighter is better off than you are giving him credit for. Having done the math, the average save rate (counting every creature in the bestiary) against a level 5 wizard with an 18 Int is 27.85714285%. The average hit rate for a level 5 fighter with an 18 Str (against the average AC of every creature in the bestiary) is 78.714286%. So, if we are going to assume that creatures are saving 25% of the time we should also assume that the fighter is hitting 80% of the time. And, since stinking cloud is a level 3 spell, by the time the wizard can cast stinking cloud the fighter has 2 dice of expertise, not one. 

The major strength of the grease/stinking cloud combination is that while it is being used the wizard can still cast other spells. However, as you noted, as it can only deal up to 33 points of damage over the course of 4-5 rounds (rounds during which the monster will probably not take damage every round, as it can crawl out of the area/make its save 25% of the time with any single try), it is hardly as overpowered as Lokiare is claiming. He tends to exaggerate when it comes to any sentence that combines the words wizard and power, though...

I think the point that has to be underlined is this: even now there are questionable spells that can, with no chance to save, trivialize encounters; with the promise of spell slot-based spell progression, the looming trend is that wizard spells are going to be broken past level 7.  Can they prevent this?  Sure! If the article is to be believed, they have in-designer stuff that ensures that either all that wizard power is going to be reigned in, or the non-casters are going to be naturally buffed to keep in line with caster capabilities, if not both.

Perfect balance however, is not a myth, as Mike Mearls claims: it is found in games like chess, and to some degree Starcraft.  To not exist in TRPGs though, there *is* one kind of perfect balance being sought by players: perfect imbalance.  We can acknowledge that wizards could do stuff that fighters can't do, but as long as the wizard can't do what the fighter can do (namely: kill things quick and survive attacks effectively), and as long as the things both can do would make either one situationally better than the other to the point where neither is 100% better than the other in any situation (even if it's just 1/day), then we're good.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



To be fair, it's not that two spells work so well together, it's that Hold Person is broken as it currently stands.  Flaming Sphere, for instance, would do similar damage (4d6 for 10 rounds, save for half), and just being able to lock down a creature for 1 minute with no save would be devestating against any creature with no at-will ranged attacks.  Fix Hold Person (for instance, just add a save each round to break the hold) and the problem is solved.



Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...



Or else it spends one round crawling out of both the grease area AND the cloud.  Actually, since your combo takes 2 rounds to complete, the creature is already out of the grease area when the cloud goes off anyway, so it just walks out of the cloud area with no difficulty.



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

Carl

Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...

 

Yes, this is bad...if you ignore the fact that the 33 points is over 4 to 5 rounds.  The first round is to cast grease, the second is to cast stinking cloud, and then the next three rounds that the creatures are in the cloud, based on your assumption of a 75% chance to miss the save (which obviously you don't know because it will vary from creature to creature).  So we're talking a damage output of between 6.6 to 8.25 per round, which doesn't seem overwhelming for level 3 or higher creatures (though with this playtest its a bit hard to tell - the monster stats really are wonky).

Now compare that to a fighter at the same level, with a 1d8 weapon, 18 Str, and 1d8 Expertice Dice, and he's doing 4.5 + 4.5 + 4 for 13 points of damage.  If we assume he hits 60% of the time (depends on monster, obviously, but he'll have a +7 to attack just from class and Str bonus, which with 10 average roll is better than most level 3 monsters), then that corresponds to 7.8 damage per round.  Now AoE attacks should do a bit less than a single-target attack, so it does seem a little out of whack - but not so as to "obliterate" every encounter.  Just based on the numbers, a little tweeking seems necessary, but nothing major.  But then I haven't played this iteration yet, so maybe things will work differently in actual play.



The fighter is better off than you are giving him credit for. Having done the math, the average save rate (counting every creature in the bestiary) against a level 5 wizard with an 18 Int is 27.85714285%. The average hit rate for a level 5 fighter with an 18 Str (against the average AC of every creature in the bestiary) is 78.714286%. So, if we are going to assume that creatures are saving 25% of the time we should also assume that the fighter is hitting 80% of the time. And, since stinking cloud is a level 3 spell, by the time the wizard can cast stinking cloud the fighter has 2 dice of expertise, not one. 

The major strength of the grease/stinking cloud combination is that while it is being used the wizard can still cast other spells. However, as you noted, as it can only deal up to 33 points of damage over the course of 4-5 rounds (rounds during which the monster will probably not take damage every round, as it can crawl out of the area/make its save 25% of the time with any single try), it is hardly as overpowered as Lokiare is claiming. He tends to exaggerate when it comes to any sentence that combines the words wizard and power, though...




Or you can do the math and realize that the Wizard can use the Stinking Cloud + Grease combination to invalidate entire encounters where the fighter has to move from target to target and loses a large chunk of their damage on non-solo/non-leader targets. Which means the Wizard with that combo pretty much ends combats with non-leader/non-solo targets in 2-3 rounds, where it would take the fighter 3+ rounds to accomplish the same thing (assuming the Wizard is smart enough not to waste that combo on less than 3 targets, a reasonable assumption)...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Chess is not 'perfectly balanced'.  It has a very slight bias towards the white pieces.

Carl

It's close enough to perfect balance in that, with the sole exception of white getting the first move (hence its bias towards white), both players get equal opportunities (and even with the "white first" advantage, it's not like you couldn't have a 2+ round match wherein both players get to play white 50% of the time).  If we wanted absolute 100% balanced, we'd probably have a sort of simultaneous play (instead of turn-based play) for chess...

I prefer Game of the Generals myself, though

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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
I too would like to see the players use intelligent tactics and be rewarded for it. I however don't want to see them obliterate an encounter because they found 2 spells that work well together in almost any situation... That's what we are currently seeing. Hold Person + Stinking Cloud how it stands now deals 20d10 save for half or an average of 2.75 * 20 to 5.5 * 20 = 55 to 110 damage to any solo in the game...



To be fair, it's not that two spells work so well together, it's that Hold Person is broken as it currently stands.  Flaming Sphere, for instance, would do similar damage (4d6 for 10 rounds, save for half), and just being able to lock down a creature for 1 minute with no save would be devestating against any creature with no at-will ranged attacks.  Fix Hold Person (for instance, just add a save each round to break the hold) and the problem is solved.



Actually its not.

Even using a spell that does allow a save each round like Grease means that the target is going to be in the cloud for at least 3 rounds (75% chance of a failed save) which means 6d10 or 2.75 * 6 to 5.5 * 6 = 16.5 to 33 damage which will knock out many solos and leaders in the play test packet, as well as easily killing anything that isn't a solo or leader all the way up to level 6...



Or else it spends one round crawling out of both the grease area AND the cloud.  Actually, since your combo takes 2 rounds to complete, the creature is already out of the grease area when the cloud goes off anyway, so it just walks out of the cloud area with no difficulty.



Only if you are house ruling. RAW you try to move you make a save or lose your move...



You can't fall prone and lose your move if you are already prone.  Losing your move is part of falling prone.  A crawl will get you out.
Sure you can, there is nothing that says having a condition prevents a reapplication of that condition. Your assumption is a house rule.
Sure you can, there is nothing that says having a condition prevents a reapplication of that condition. Your assumption is a house rule.



There is also nothing which says that the two conditions "falling prone" and "losing move" are dissociated.  Your assumption is also a house rule.

Carl


Sure you can, there is nothing that says having a condition prevents a reapplication of that condition. Your assumption is a house rule.



Before it can be a house rule, there must be a rule.  Quote me the rule that says you can fall prone when already prone.

Before it can be a house rule, there must be a rule.  Quote me the rule that says you can fall prone when already prone.



Common sense is not a rule.  All you're arguing is that the rule is unclear or undefined; you have no more evidence that you can't than he does that you can.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Actually I would argue that the fact that powers can 'stack' a condition gives my position slightly greater weight but this probably falls into the whole 'DM discretion' area.

Before it can be a house rule, there must be a rule.  Quote me the rule that says you can fall prone when already prone.



Common sense is not a rule.  All you're arguing is that the rule is unclear or undefined; you have no more evidence that you can't than he does that you can.



I'm arguing for the inclusive AND, and against the required AND. Its all semantics, but its pretty clear that when you try to move you fall prone (inclusive) AND lose the rest of your move. It would be equivalent to say "When you try to move you fall prone in addition to this whether you are prone or not you lose the rest of your move."

What they are trying to say is "When you try to move you fall prone, if you are already prone ignore the part where you lose the rest of your move."

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

The article is quaint, that they consider Spells as big a development point as classes is a mixed bag. At least they are thinking about how the next batch of incantations will break the game and trying to hold it off... but it also implies a certain focus of attention that is unwholesome to me.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
"The game is about the adventures of fighters, rogues, wizards, and clerics, not a wizard and his or her lackeys."
I believe this intent. I'll believe it's execution when I see some high level play.

The article is quaint, that they consider Spells as big a development point as classes is a mixed bag. At least they are thinking about how the next batch of incantations will break the game and trying to hold it off... but it also implies a certain focus of attention that is unwholesome to me.


I wouldn't hold out for high level play. I'd shoot for more mid levelish. Nothing to DnD personally, but I've got like 12 different RPGs on my shelf and almost all of them break down in high level play :P
My two copper.
So um, here's a crazy idea: Don't make the game fall apart at high levels.

Before it can be a house rule, there must be a rule.  Quote me the rule that says you can fall prone when already prone.



Common sense is not a rule.  All you're arguing is that the rule is unclear or undefined; you have no more evidence that you can't than he does that you can.



Common sense says that if you are prone, you cannot fall prone.  The rules are as you say, unclear.  Therefore, a ruling that you can crawl out of grease in the playtest is no less official than Lokiare's interpretation. 

Before it can be a house rule, there must be a rule.  Quote me the rule that says you can fall prone when already prone.



Common sense is not a rule.  All you're arguing is that the rule is unclear or undefined; you have no more evidence that you can't than he does that you can.



I'm arguing for the inclusive AND, and against the required AND. Its all semantics, but its pretty clear that when you try to move you fall prone (inclusive) AND lose the rest of your move.



Your interpretation of an unclear rule is no less a house rule than my interpretation.

It would be equivalent to say "When you try to move you fall prone in addition to this whether you are prone or not you lose the rest of your move."



No it's not equivelent at all.  The rules simply do not say that you can fall prone if you are already prone.  Your house rule is not official, and hopefully never will be.

What they are trying to say is "When you try to move you fall prone, if you are already prone ignore the part where you lose the rest of your move."



No.  What we are saying is that if you are prone, you cannot fall prone a second time.  Therefore, anything attached to falling prone is not applicable.

It just doesn't read that way. the inclusive AND is the way to read it.



Are you seriously trying to pass your subjective interpretation as fact?
How to Play
Page 14
Under the Conditions heading second paragraph:

"Adittionally, a conditions effect cannot be compounded by imposing the same condition on a creature more than once.  A condition is either present or not "

Prone, being a condition, cannot be reapplied to a creature already suffering from it.  Meaning the effect cannot be compounded as it is contingent upon the phrase, "falls prone and loses the rest of its move",  can't do the first part can't do the second part.  Literally even in the rules you cannot fall prone and anything because you are already prone.  The rules prevent it from being compounded like that.  You literally cannot be made to fall prone if you are already prone.  If you can't fall prone you can't suffer the effects of the failed save as it reaplies the condition which is already on the creature.  Crawling works just fine.
I'm not even sure how this is a debate.  The only benefit of crawling is it lets you move while prone.  That's exactly what crawling is for -- to get out of things like grease spells and difficult terrain that otherwise knocks you prone
I'm not even sure how this is a debate.  The only benefit of crawling is it lets you move while prone.  That's exactly what crawling is for -- to get out of things like grease spells and difficult terrain that otherwise knocks you prone



Don't tell me this surprises you!  We've both been around long enough to know people on these forums will almost literally debate anything, no matter how ludicrous.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

I'm not even sure how this is a debate.  The only benefit of crawling is it lets you move while prone.  That's exactly what crawling is for -- to get out of things like grease spells and difficult terrain that otherwise knocks you prone



Don't tell me this surprises you!  We've both been around long enough to know people on these forums will almost literally debate anything, no matter how ludicrous.


My capacity to be surprised is boundless!  It keeps life interesting (albeit ocassionally depressing).  ;)
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