## Watermelons in Next

A boy has 45 watermelons on Athas. He needs to get them across the desert to Tyr, 15 miles away. He can only carry 15 watermelons at a time, and he eats one watermelon every mile he walks, including back to where he started from. He can leave watermelons at any mile he has walked, but no fractions of a mile. How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?

I ask because this problem has more than one solution, each generating a different answer. None of the solutions are wrong if they follow the parameters of the problem, and all of them can be considered right regardless of their final total.

Very often I see people on these boards, and others, analyzing and breaking down the math of D&D and arguing vociferously that their answers, their perspectives, are right. They very often refuse to accept or consider additional answers, which is understandable given the black and white nature of numbers and math.

I know of 3 solutions to the above problem - and those are just the solutions that don't include answers like "Zero - don't bother going" or "All, I get a horse and cart".

Similarly, with any of the anticipated and/or perceived problems with D&D (all editions) and the development of D&D Next, it's important to take a moment and accept and understand that problems are quite often what you personally perceive them to be, and very often not problems at all. Even problems that really do exist can have more than one solution, and accepting someone else's answer does not make them empiraclly right, or you empiraclly wrong.

As more material comes out, and people begin interrogating the math...the value of bonuses, how AC should scale, bounded accuracy, skill checks, HP, everything else...take a moment, if you can, to at least try and accept what is given as one of many possible solutions to what may or may not be a real problem particularly since the numbers being crunched are scaled to a system which has yet to be fully designed.

As fun as it may be to crunch the numbers we've been given, keep in mind we don't have the full equation. Try not to offer negative feedback on any one part of the system until we're given a better sense of how it interacts with the rest.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
Caeric
Joined Dec 1969
Being a consumer makes people act strange. I bet I'm one of them, sometimes. People that take ownership and assert their way of seeing. And there's a lot of wisdom to what you're saying. But your thesis at the end is a bit odd. The guys at Wizards want our negative feedback. They want all of our feedback. If we didn't tell them that we didn't like fighters in the first packet, they wouldn't have made Combat Superiority.

Besides, this is a forum. It's a soundboard. People are here to talk about stuff. What would you rather them talk about? We can only praise each other and the designers for so long before we run out of things to say.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
Being a consumer makes people act strange. I bet I'm one of them, sometimes. People that take ownership and assert their way of seeing. And there's a lot of wisdom to what you're saying. But your thesis at the end is a bit odd. The guys at Wizards want our negative feedback. They want all of our feedback. If we didn't tell them that we didn't like fighters in the first packet, they wouldn't have made Combat Superiority.

Besides, this is a forum. It's a soundboard. People are here to talk about stuff. What would you rather them talk about? We can only praise each other and the designers for so long before we run out of things to say.

Yes, the developers definately want our feedback, both positive and negative, but the feedback they've been asking for has been for very specific things.

I'm sure you'll agree that there are a lot of threads around here and other boards which are already arguing whether mathematical changes should be made. I've seen people insisting that ability score bonuses won't work, that the armor values are flawed, and umpteen perspectives on advantage/disadvantage.

I personally think at this point the majority of the discussion should be more in line with what the developers have been asking for feedback on. Otherwise they've got to wade through a lot that they're not yet concerened with to find the elements they're looking for.

Take the armor table for instance - they threw it in the packet, they knew it was only a stopgap and not intended to be the actual armor table, yet people still put a lot of energy into critiquing and analysing it. That was all a wasted effort. They were tilting at windmills when they could have been focusing on the parts of the system that the developers needed feedback on.

Definately offer negative feedback, but hold off on ripping apart the system until all the facts are in, and even then people need to understand that what they see as a problem and solution may only be one of many.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
Qmark
Joined Dec 1969
As more material comes out, and people begin interrogating the math...the value of bonuses, how AC should scale, bounded accuracy, skill checks, HP, everything else...take a moment, if you can, to at least try and accept what is given as one of many possible solutions to what may or may not be a real problem particularly since the numbers being crunched are scaled to a system which has yet to be fully designed.

The math is the system.  If the numbers are screwed up, no amount of clever narrative can ever fix it.

They reverted back to HD+CONmod exactly because the con-floor concept was mathematically useless.
The math is the system.  If the numbers are screwed up, no amount of clever narrative can ever fix it.

Except we can't evaluate the validity of what we've been given so far without seeing the entirety of the system.

And what you might perceive as a flaw may be a feature.

There's more than one way to skin a cat, all roads lead to Rome, etc etc.

What you may see as "the numbers are screwed up" someone else may see as "the numbers are perfect".

It doesn't matter if you can create a string of mathematical proof that the numbers are screwed up, that the math doesn't work, you may only be presenting one of many equally valid interpretations.

Which is why I presented the matter of the boy and his watermelons. It demonstrates that yes, even in hard and fast black and white cold calculating numbers, there can be more than one right answer.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
This is one of the reasons I asked people if anyone had discovered the math behind monster creation in Next. No one has, presumably because it doesn't exist yet. It would seem that they're simply throwing out XP at random. Later on, after we get some more adventures with more monsters, the math might become clearer, or they will reveal the monster creation process. As it is, if I want to make some new monsters for my playtesters to do horrible things to, I simply have to either reskin an existing one or create one using extremely similar stats/XP as existing ones.
This is one of the reasons I asked people if anyone had discovered the math behind monster creation in Next. No one has, presumably because it doesn't exist yet. It would seem that they're simply throwing out XP at random. Later on, after we get some more adventures with more monsters, the math might become clearer, or they will reveal the monster creation process. As it is, if I want to make some new monsters for my playtesters to do horrible things to, I simply have to either reskin an existing one or create one using extremely similar stats/XP as existing ones.

That's another great example because I've seen more than one post ripping on the developers for screwing up monster xp rewards. They haven't screwed it up because they obviously haven't gotten to it yet and what we're seeing is just a placeholder.

"Seriously? These guys think two packets in we've hammered out the xp formula? Don't they realize how far down the priority list that is? Now where can I find the discussion on "feel" that we've been asking about?"

I get why you'd want to know, and why making your own monsters would be appealing, I just don't think it's a worthwhile criticism at this point because it just generates static and I don't get while some people are getting worked up or negative about things which aren't actually problems yet.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.

Take the armor table for instance - they threw it in the packet, they knew it was only a stopgap and not intended to be the actual armor table, yet people still put a lot of energy into critiquing and analysing it. That was all a wasted effort. They were tilting at windmills when they could have been focusing on the parts of the system that the developers needed feedback on.

I disagree with this, perhaps because I'm one of those who wants it fixed.  I don't even care if it is a stopgap, because its included as part of the Playtest.  Therefore I'm going to give my opinion on it as part of DnDNext.  I believe the disparity between the 'To Hit' and 'Armor Class' is an important issue.  I also think the very way armor class is handled needs revised.  And because armor class is at the heart of combat, along with attack bonus', I believe it needs to be addressed early on.  That's not wasted effort, it's pushing for a better system, which is what the playtest is about.

Take the armor table for instance - they threw it in the packet, they knew it was only a stopgap and not intended to be the actual armor table, yet people still put a lot of energy into critiquing and analysing it. That was all a wasted effort. They were tilting at windmills when they could have been focusing on the parts of the system that the developers needed feedback on.

I disagree with this, perhaps because I'm one of those who wants it fixed.  I don't even care if it is a stopgap, because its included as part of the Playtest.  Therefore I'm going to give my opinion on it as part of DnDNext.  I believe the disparity between the 'To Hit' and 'Armor Class' is an important issue.  I also think the very way armor class is handled needs revised.  And because armor class is at the heart of combat, along with attack bonus', I believe it needs to be addressed early on.  That's not wasted effort, it's pushing for a better system, which is what the playtest is about.

Except there's nothing there for them to fix because it was never intended to be the real armor class table.

You also can't gauge the disparity between to hit and armor class until they provide true values for each, which they haven't because that's not what they're working on.

And like I said to begin with, what YOU see as a problem might not be. And what YOU see as a fix may only be one of MANY. How can you evaluate the armor class values when we still don't know what the final attack bonuses will be?

I definately agree, armor class is of vital importance to the system, and yes, addressing it early on is important too. Just not before it's actually developed. And with all the feedback given on the armor class, I'd be willing to bet it all went in the junk pile because the designers a) weren't measuring armor feedback, and b) knew it wasn't the real armor class table and therefore all the feedback on it was irrelevant.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
Qmark
Joined Dec 1969
Alright.  If we can't comment on the numbers, what's there to give feedback on that isn't already feedbacked to death?

Sorc and Lock have several threads arguing about the baked-in fluff and lack of non-vancian options for regular wizard, the very mention of Paladin in a blogpost did little but spark a whole new tempest of alignment bickering, and "Fighter still sucks" gave us CS dice.

What else is there?
wrecan
Joined Dec 1969
Alright.  If we can't comment on the numbers, what's there to give feedback on that isn't already feedbacked to death?

Maybe nothing.  Do we need to be able to comment on stupid crap because we have time on our hands?  If you've given feedback on the stuff they want feedback on, then we're done with feedback. Read a book.  Go kayaking.  Play more D&D.  Learn how to speak a foreign language.  Write a novel. Start a vegetable garden. Save a whale. Whatever.  It would all be more productive than commenting on stuff for which the developers are not seeking feedback.
Going through the multitude of threads can be a hassle, that said it's worth it.  There's so many great ideas, or competing views, or opinions that I hadn't taken into consideration.  Reading through them often helps solidify my own opinions on an aspect, whether for or against or just 'hey, that's nifty'.  The very basis of what defines D&D is so vastly different, more than I would've thought before taking part.  I knew I'd drifted away post-4ed, I hadn't realized it had been a large trend.

My point is that even if the Devs haven't requested a specific bit of feedback, it is worthwhile to consider them.  It helps solidify, or even change, how one views each topic.  Wrecan, you yourself have posted information that has made me stop and think about a topic in a new way.  This is worthwhile, in my opinion, because it puts information out there for the community, and the Devs, to use.
wrecan
Joined Dec 1969
I'm just responding to qmark's query.  If he's commenting on stuff because he has nothing better to do, then he should find something better to do.  I comment on stuff because I find it interesting.  If the developers care, great.  But I'm mostly having fun... which is why I try to reserve my substantive comments for my blog, not the forums.

And yes. reading through these threads to find the ocassional diamond in the pigcrap is a complete waste of the developers' time.  There aren't enough diamonds to justify all the pigcrap.
Alright.  If we can't comment on the numbers, what's there to give feedback on that isn't already feedbacked to death?

Sorc and Lock have several threads arguing about the baked-in fluff and lack of non-vancian options for regular wizard, the very mention of Paladin in a blogpost did little but spark a whole new tempest of alignment bickering, and "Fighter still sucks" gave us CS dice.

What else is there?

By no means am I suggesting discussion be limited or anything undiscussable. I'm suggesting that everyone should understand that what seems like a massive flaw might not be a flaw at all, and that regardless of how obvious and clear something seems to them, it may not be the only way to see it.

I know it seems rude to suggest, but even though the design team keeps their ears open, they still have things they're listening for and they're going to ignore a whole lot of the chatter that's going on because it's not relevant to the current phase of design. They're asking if we like forks, and a lot off people are yelling SPOON! Sure, now they know people want spoons, but they still have no choice but to nail down a fork before they get to the knives and then the spoons.

Like Hocus-Smokus said up there, he wants monster creation rules and to see how xp values are arrived at. But you don't see him clamoring for them or ripping on the devs for the values so far given because he understands this isn't the time and the values given aren't the real ones. What good purpose would be served by his stating his refusal to buy Next because the xp system is wonky? And really, can anyone actually prove that the xp amounts we've already been given aren't fine just as they are? Nope, because we don't have the full system to integrate them with and even if we did they may work fine...from a certain point of view.

We all know the system is still being designed. The packets we've gotten are a rough draft. Details still need to be created, never mind hammered out. And I guess that's what gets my goat. The energy being wasted arguing about things that have yet to be decided, well before their time and are as much a matter of personal opinion despite the numbers backing up everyone's opinion.

If DNDNext was a house, we'd be looking at a half-dug pit that would eventually be filled with concrete. Arguing with your wife about what colour the drapes should be is a little premature at this point. We don't even know where the windows will be, how big, or if there are any windows at all.

Yet how many threads are there trying to break down the math of Next and illuminate it's failings where moderators have had to remove content because things got out of hand? Doesn't that seem to indicate maybe people are a little too insistent their way is the right way?

"DNDNext MUST be like THIS and I can PROVE it because a+b=c!"

Awesome, except a+b can also equal d, and maybe x+y can also equal c. Assuming the final product even includes a or x in the core rules and b and y are eventually included in modules.

I'm going to go back to my original parable of the boy with the watermelons. One problem. Many solutions.

And isn't that the crux of the edition wars? One game, many solutions? But why are there edition wars? Because people can't accept there's more than one way to arrive at a right answer, that they can disagree with someone and both of them be right.

Baked-in fluff and lack of non-vancian options for wizards are most definately problems that should have more than one way of arriving at a true solution. Why do so many people refuse to accept any solution but their own? Alignment bickering the same deal.

Did the cries of "Fighter still sucks" give us CS dice? I'm actually not too sure about that. CS dice seem a little too elaborate to have been whipped up out of nothing in such a short time. I'm more inclined to think CS dice were always in the works, just held back.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
wrecan
Joined Dec 1969
Did the cries of "Fighter still sucks" give us CS dice?

According to what the developers themselves said at GenCon, the feedback they got from the first playtest led them to develop CS for the fighter.  So, unless they are lying (and this is an odd thing to lie about), yes, the complaints led to the development of CS.
I'm not one to generally subscribe to the "WotC Lies!" philosophy, but I remain unconvinced. I know if I was in their position, I'd hold back a little something to break out if the intial packet didn't go over well. It would also seem like a good way of building up "We're actually listening" credibility.

Of course, I've had to work as a telemarketer, I'm a little more understanding of twisting the truth to achieve the desired effect.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
As fun as it may be to crunch the numbers we've been given, keep in mind we don't have the full equation. Try not to offer negative feedback on any one part of the system until we're given a better sense of how it interacts with the rest.

Why bother giving any feedback at all if we won't include what doesn't work?
What about a playtest indicates we should play it, then patiently wait for them to fix the issues we don't bring up to them?

I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
wrecan
Joined Dec 1969
I agree with Verdigris. You seem to be suggesting a sham playtest. Why have two years of essentially no substantive releases just to prete.d to listen to fans?
DemoMonkey
Joined Feb 2009
2488 Posts
I'm puzzled. How do WE know what parts of the playetest the developers want us to give feedback on, and which they don't?

Is there a checklist somewhere? There isn't one anywhere in the playetest packet.

(And because this is the internet, I'll clarify) That's a legitimate query of mine, not trolling the OP. IS there such a checklist somewhere, and if so, please link me to it.

stoloc
Joined Dec 1969
I'm puzzled. How do WE know what parts of the playetest the developers want us to give feedback on, and which they don't?

Is there a checklist somewhere? There isn't one anywhere in the playetest packet.

(And because this is the internet, I'll clarify) That's a legitimate query of mine, not trolling the OP. IS there such a checklist somewhere, and if so, please link me to it.

The surveys they send out are the checklist.

jaelis
Joined Dec 1969

A boy has 45 watermelons on Athas. He needs to get them across the desert to Tyr, 15 miles away. He can only carry 15 watermelons at a time, and he eats one watermelon every mile he walks, including back to where he started from. He can leave watermelons at any mile he has walked, but no fractions of a mile. How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?

I ask because this problem has more than one solution, each generating a different answer.

OK, I know that you're just using this example to make a point, but what do you mean there's more than one solution? Unless you severely twist the interpretation of what it is asking, there should be only one answer. As far as I can tell, he can get 10 watermelons to Tyr. If you have a way to carry more, then your solution is right and mine isn't.

There's plenty of poorly posed math problems in the world, but this doesn't obviously seem to be one of them.
DemoMonkey
Joined Feb 2009
2488 Posts
"As far as I can tell, he can get 10 watermelons to Tyr."

How do you get 10 to market? I only get 8.

If there are multiple solutions that give the same final result, then the OPs point is valid. But if there are multiple solutions in which one is quantifiably better, then the anaolgy (and thereby the argument) sort of falls apart.
Ok, so let's say you bring 15 watermelons to Mile 1.  When you get there, you'll have 14 because you ate one.  You walk back empty handed and obviously don't eat one because you've got none with you.  Then you bring 15 more to mile 1, same thing happens.  Repeat for the final 15.  That means you have 42 watermelons now at Mile 1.  At mile 2, you'll have 39, at mile 3, 36, mile 4 33, mile 5 30.  From then on, you only have to make two trips, not three.  So at mile 6 you have 28.  Mile 7, 26; mile 8, 24; mile 9, 22; mile 10, 20; mile 11, 18; mile 12, 16.  You might as well abandon the 1 left at that point, so now you're only making one trip.  At mile 13, you'll have 14, mile 14 will be 13, and finally, at Tyr, you'll have 12 Watermelons.

How did you guys get 10 and 8?
DemoMonkey
Joined Feb 2009
2488 Posts
Thestoryteller

You are making the assumption that the 1 watermelon you eat is optional - you eat one during the mile because you have them and you are hungry - and nor mandatory - you eat one during the mile because you will die of dehydration otherwise.

Perhaps that was the original point? That everyone who tries to solve the problem has built in assumtions about what the problem actually is?

(My solution, using my assumption that you must consume 1 watermelon per mile travelled.

Carry 15.
Walk 3, drop 9, walk back 3.
Carry 15.
Walk 3, drop 9, walk back 3.
Carry 15.
Walk 3, drop 12.

Miles covered: 3
Watermelons left: 30

Carry 15.
Walk 5, drop 5. walk back 5.
Carry 15.
Walk 5, drop 10

Miles covered: 8
Watermelons left: 15

Carry 15.
Walk 7 and arrive at market with 8.)
So the designers are incompetent?  The first thing they should have done was nail down numbers.  Everything else needs to wait until they get that done because it is the whole foundation on which the game is built.  The "feel" of the game (as a ruleset not at the table of course) is in large part designated by the math and how the numbers fit together.  If the numbers don't work the whole playtest thing becomes an exercise in futility.
So the designers are incompetent?  The first thing they should have done was nail down numbers.  Everything else needs to wait until they get that done because it is the whole foundation on which the game is built.  The "feel" of the game (as a ruleset not at the table of course) is in large part designated by the math and how the numbers fit together.  If the numbers don't work the whole playtest thing becomes an exercise in futility.

This is one of the big mistakes I see a lot of people making lately: assuming the devs have not "nailed down the numbers". You can rest assured that the devs have a very specific math set they are working with, whether it is known to us or not. That math set is, frankly, none of our business at this point in the playtest process. Now don't get me wrong...those numbers might change (and change dramatically, potentially) as we go along, but don't simply assume that they're just pulling numbers out of their collective butts at this point. They're not.
Gnarl
Joined Dec 2002
2377 Posts
This is one of the big mistakes I see a lot of people making lately: assuming the devs have not "nailed down the numbers". You can rest assured that the devs have a very specific math set they are working with, whether it is known to us or not. That math set is, frankly, none of our business at this point in the playtest process. Now don't get me wrong...those numbers might change (and change dramatically, potentially) as we go along, but don't simply assume that they're just pulling numbers out of their collective butts at this point. They're not.

+1

Which also means that if your numbers don't match theirs, you don't necessarly know better than they do, you're just using a different mathematical model. Don't assume that you're smarter than a team of professional designers and mathematicians. Chances are, you're not.
So the designers are incompetent?  The first thing they should have done was nail down numbers.  Everything else needs to wait until they get that done because it is the whole foundation on which the game is built.  The "feel" of the game (as a ruleset not at the table of course) is in large part designated by the math and how the numbers fit together.  If the numbers don't work the whole playtest thing becomes an exercise in futility.

This is one of the big mistakes I see a lot of people making lately: assuming the devs have not "nailed down the numbers". You can rest assured that the devs have a very specific math set they are working with, whether it is known to us or not. That math set is, frankly, none of our business at this point in the playtest process. Now don't get me wrong...those numbers might change (and change dramatically, potentially) as we go along, but don't simply assume that they're just pulling numbers out of their collective butts at this point. They're not.

BS either the numbers are not set and the Devs have been doing things in the wrong damn order or the numbers are solid and they should be open to every nitpick and corner case that we can throw at them.  In fact that is all we should be doing until the math works.  I understand the whole different strokes for different folks thing in the case of "feel" but the basic math and basic math changing modules should be the first thing we fine tune.   If you don't get the basics right then nothing else should even be being considered.

@ Gnarl
I disagree with this vehemently.  Players are supposed to point out mathmatical inconsistancies in playtests.  It is why there are playtests, so that when the Devs make a mistake (its inevitable, I mean games are huge projects) people can point it out to them.  If we aren't supposed to nitpick in this playtest then I posit that the whole damn thing is a sham designed to fool the idjits into believing that they have power in the process. (note that I don't really believe this at all but damn people.)
jaelis
Joined Dec 1969

Perhaps that was the original point? That everyone who tries to solve the problem has built in assumtions about what the problem actually is?

The problem statement says that he eats one for every mile he travels. Maybe it's because he wants to, maybe it's because he needs to, it doesn't matter. If you don't have him eating one for every mile he travels, then you're not solving the problem as stated. That doesn't seem like an assumption to me.

Anyway, my point is this seems like a pretty bad analogy for what the OP is trying to say. RPG design is not a well-defined problem, so it certainly does have many different solutions.
Gnarl
Joined Dec 2002
2377 Posts

I disagree with this vehemently.  Players are supposed to point out mathmatical inconsistancies in playtests.  It is why there are playtests, so that when the Devs make a mistake (its inevitable, I mean games are huge projects) people can point it out to them.  If we aren't supposed to nitpick in this playtest then I posit that the whole damn thing is a sham designed to fool the idjits into believing that they have power in the process. (note that I don't really believe this at all but damn people.)

We're not here to check the figures, they have their Excel spreadsheets with the numbers and I'm sure the numbers are right. We're here to validate the models.

The models are based on assumptions: the number of rounds in a day, the average number of rounds in an encounter, how to compare AOE attacks vs. single target attacks, how to compare a +1 bonus to AC with a +2 bonus to damage, how to compare a +2 bonus to AC with the rogue's skill mastery class feature, etc... It's comparing pees and carrots. There is no logic to these assumptions, they're all purely empirical. It all boils down to "how many rounds of combat per day feels heroic enough?", "how long should an encounter last to be the most satisfying?", etc... There is no metric to validate these things, you can only do it through experimentation.

And this is where we come in, the playtesters. You give your opinion on what feels right and what feels wrong. If too many people feel that fighters are overpowered compared to wizards, they probably got the AOE vs. single target attack comparison wrong, or the wizard needs more single target damaging spells for instance. The game designers then collect the feedback, adjust the models and give us a new playtest package.

But most of these models already have been discovered in 4th edition. The underlying mathematical models probably don't need a lot of work.

The last thing that cannot be measured mathematically is fun. The game designers are (hopefully) trying to make the game as fun as possible for all of us. That means tinkering with mechanics (the latest fighter, sorcerer or warlock for instance or starting hit points) and asking us what we think about them. There are no figures to check here, all we need to do is say on a scale of 1 to 5 how much we like it (the surveys).

There's more to game design than just running numbers in an Excel spreadsheet. Any average mathematician can do that. It takes a community to point out what's working and what isn't based on actual gameplay experience.
As fun as it may be to crunch the numbers we've been given, keep in mind we don't have the full equation. Try not to offer negative feedback on any one part of the system until we're given a better sense of how it interacts with the rest.

Why bother giving any feedback at all if we won't include what doesn't work?
What about a playtest indicates we should play it, then patiently wait for them to fix the issues we don't bring up to them?

The problem with that is: we don't know if what we're looking at is a genuine flaw or an apparent flaw because additional elements haven't been implemented, or if what we're looking at is what they intend to be the final design or a placeholder until they fine tune their numbers.

By all means, bring issues to their attention, but if they're not actual issues it's not helping.

I also happen to be the opinion that a lot of 4e's errata wasn't because it was ALL legitimate problems, just a perception of problems.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.

A boy has 45 watermelons on Athas. He needs to get them across the desert to Tyr, 15 miles away. He can only carry 15 watermelons at a time, and he eats one watermelon every mile he walks, including back to where he started from. He can leave watermelons at any mile he has walked, but no fractions of a mile. How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?

I ask because this problem has more than one solution, each generating a different answer.

OK, I know that you're just using this example to make a point, but what do you mean there's more than one solution? Unless you severely twist the interpretation of what it is asking, there should be only one answer. As far as I can tell, he can get 10 watermelons to Tyr. If you have a way to carry more, then your solution is right and mine isn't.

There's plenty of poorly posed math problems in the world, but this doesn't obviously seem to be one of them.

2, 5, 8 are the amounts we came up with in the math class where I was presented with this problem originally. The math prof was unaware of any possible solution that would allow for a number higher than 8. His point in offering this problem to the class was to demonstrate that there can often be multiple approaches to solving a math problem, and therefore multiple legitimately right answers.

So your answer of 10 is, as far as I know, wrong, but not because there's only one right answer, but because you misinterpreted the conditions of the problem in some way.

Which is more my point, not about how or what feedback we should give, rather that we should be aware that what we perceive as a real problem or flaw in the system may only be because we've misapprehended the system, the designer's intent, or it's final implementation.

And even then when all variables are accounted for we can all still come up with different answers, each equally valid.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
"As far as I can tell, he can get 10 watermelons to Tyr."

How do you get 10 to market? I only get 8.

If there are multiple solutions that give the same final result, then the OPs point is valid. But if there are multiple solutions in which one is quantifiably better, then the anaolgy (and thereby the argument) sort of falls apart.

Precisely!

Consider how nebulous, how soft and artistic D&D is. It's so much more than a system of numbers.

But even a system of numbers can still be open to interpretation, and on top of that, the intent of the designers in conjunction with the intent and approach of the players adds to the interpretations exponentially.

I think that's really important to keep in mind when looking at the whole of D&D in any incarnation.

So you get 8, I can also get 5 or just 2. The question doesn't demand the most, just how many. You're not wrong in saying 8. I'm not wrong if I say 2. 2 is a much more direct and simpler approach to solving the problem than 8 takes, and D&DNext is all about varying levels of complexity - that's one of the stated design goals.

And when we look at what we're given, and convince ourselves that bounded accuracy will fail, or that wizard damage output still outclasses the fighter, then start generating reams of figures on probability PROVING that we're right and someone else is wrong...are we?

Look at CS dice already. A lot of people are claiming that starting with the d4s aren't effective enough, they should be d6's and they can even provide mathematical evidence to support their position. I'm not saying they're wrong. What I will say, however, is that there are also alternate ways of factoring the effectiveness of starting the CS die progression with the d4s that are ALSO right.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
jaelis
Joined Dec 1969

A boy has 45 watermelons on Athas. He needs to get them across the desert to Tyr, 15 miles away. He can only carry 15 watermelons at a time, and he eats one watermelon every mile he walks, including back to where he started from. He can leave watermelons at any mile he has walked, but no fractions of a mile. How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?

I ask because this problem has more than one solution, each generating a different answer.

OK, I know that you're just using this example to make a point, but what do you mean there's more than one solution? Unless you severely twist the interpretation of what it is asking, there should be only one answer. As far as I can tell, he can get 10 watermelons to Tyr. If you have a way to carry more, then your solution is right and mine isn't.

There's plenty of poorly posed math problems in the world, but this doesn't obviously seem to be one of them.

2, 5, 8 are the amounts we came up with in the math class where I was presented with this problem originally. The math prof was unaware of any possible solution that would allow for a number higher than 8. His point in offering this problem to the class was to demonstrate that there can often be multiple approaches to solving a math problem, and therefore multiple legitimately right answers.

So your answer of 10 is, as far as I know, wrong, but not because there's only one right answer, but because you misinterpreted the conditions of the problem in some way.

Which is more my point, not about how or what feedback we should give, rather that we should be aware that what we perceive as a real problem or flaw in the system may only be because we've misapprehended the system, the designer's intent, or it's final implementation.

And even then when all variables are accounted for we can all still come up with different answers, each equally valid.

Actually, you made my point entirely. My answer is indeed not valid. As far as I know, 8 is the best. I didn't make any different assumptions, I just made up a number (well, I stole it off the internet, but that's not much difference). Some questions really do have answers, at least if we're willing to assume that we can communicate at all. I completely agree that RPG design is not such a simple question, but I don't really understand why you used this problem to try to say that.

That said, if your math class came up with 2 or 5 as legitimate answers, then presumably there is a defensible interpretation that gives that, and I'm just not seeing it. So what were they?
Actually, you made my point entirely. My answer is indeed not valid. As far as I know, 8 is the best. I didn't make any different assumptions, I just made up a number (well, I stole it off the internet, but that's not much difference). Some questions really do have answers, at least if we're willing to assume that we can communicate at all. I completely agree that RPG design is not such a simple question, but I don't really understand why you used this problem to try to say that.

That said, if your math class came up with 2 or 5 as legitimate answers, then presumably there is a defensible interpretation that gives that, and I'm just not seeing it. So what were they?

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He travels by the mile and he will make three trips - the first and second trips he eats two watermelons each, but for the third trip (since he doesn't have a return trip to the starting point) he only eats 1 watermelon. So by mile number 1, he has eaten 5 watermelons. The same thing happens for the trips between miles 2 and 3. So by mile number 3 he has eaten a total of 15 watermelons. Now, he only has to make two trips for each mile (since he only has 30 watermelons left). Following the same logic as for the first three miles, at miles 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, he will eat another 15 watermelons (2 for the first trip to the mile and 1 for the last for a total of 3 for each mile). So for those 5 miles, he has eaten another 15 watermelons. Now he only has 15 watermelons left, 7 miles to go, which leaves him with 8 watermelons at Tyr.
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He takes his first 15 watermelons and walks 1 mile. When he gets to his first mile, he has 14. He drops 13 and takes one back with him to eat on his return trip. He does this for two more trips for his other 30 watermelons. Now at his first mile, he has 39 watermelons. He takes 13 watermelons and walks another mile (so now he is at mile 2). He drops 11 and takes one for the walk back. He does this two more times. At his second mile, he has 33 watermelons. He takes 11 watermelons and walks another mile (so now he is at mile 3). He drops 9 and takes one for the return trip. He does this two more times. At his third mile, he has 27 watermelons. He takes 9 watermelons and walks another mile (he is now at mile 4), drops 7 an takes one for the return trip. After two more trips like this, he has 21 watermelons at mile 4. He takes 7 watermelons and walks one more mile. He drops 5 and takes one for the return trip. After two more trips, he now has 15 watermelons at mile number 5. Since he has 15 watermelons now, he can walk the last 10 miles, eat one every mile and arrive at Tyr with 5.
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Carries 15, walks 7 miles eating 7, drops 1, eats last 7 back. Picks up 15, walks 7 miles eating another 7, drops 1, eats last 7 back. Picks up the last 15, walks 7 eating 7, picks up the 2 he already dropped, using the last 8 to get to Tyr. Arrives with 2.

Not one of those solutions are wrong. They all follow the conditions given. They are all equally valid ways of solving the question, yet they each come up with a different final number.

Yes, you can say one solution is better than the other, but nowhere does the problem require a value judgement to be made.

Now, in relation to D&DNext and why I presented this particular problem, it's because there is a lot of effort being made by some people to distill one right way to do D&D. One right way to interpret what we've been given. One right way to evaluate each element in relation to the others.

So my point is, that's not always the case and that's something people need to keep in mind when they're looking at D&D and offering "fixes".
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
DemoMonkey
Joined Feb 2009
2488 Posts
From the original post of the problem.

"How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?"

That sentence implies the largest number is the desireable answer; you might want to rephrase it.

The math problem accurately reflects the point you are trying to make (and yes, I do understand your actual point, and it's a good one) only if all of the different possible answers give you equally optimal results. If one process gives you 2, one gives you 5, and one gives you 8 then all are valid but only one is desireable.

...
I believe that the seedless watermelon class is clearly overpowered, and I hate Vanciian walking. Also "melon" should be a specialty. And "Water" should be a module.

From the original post of the problem.

"How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?"

That sentence implies the largest number is the desireable answer; you might want to rephrase it.

The math problem accurately reflects the point you are trying to make (and yes, I do understand your actual point, and it's a good one) only if all of the different possible answers give you equally optimal results. If one process gives you 2, one gives you 5, and one gives you 8 then all are valid but only one is desireable.

...
I believe that the seedless watermelon class is clearly overpowered, and I hate Vanciian walking. Also "melon" should be a specialty. And "Water" should be a module.

I can see how you might imply that the largest number is most desirable, and in fact if the kid was trying to see those watermelons at a maximized profit you'd be right. But as given "how many" doesn't equate "what is the most". And I'm not criticizing your interpretation.

I think that's also an important element of the way we each perceive the playtest.

Maybe you think the AC bonuses are too low, and I see them as too high. But is that because you intend to play a heroic fantasy superhero and I want to play a blue collar adventurer? Same thing applies to all the design elements we look at. But how can either of us evaluate AC values when we've yet to see the final numbers on monsters hit bonuses?

How can we argue the "right way" to do D&D when we all desire different things from it?

There are even calculators that will give different answers to 1.4+1.3. Some will round down the .4 and .3 before doing the addition and give an answer of 2, some will round up the total of 2.7 to 3. Most won't round at all and just show 2.7, but that hardly disqualifies the other 2  possibilities.

What I think would be the worst case scenario, is premature rejection of a potential design element because it hasn't been seen as part of the big picture, particularly since I've enjoyed what I've seen of most of the new elements.

If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
CarlT
Joined Dec 1969

A boy has 45 watermelons on Athas. He needs to get them across the desert to Tyr, 15 miles away. He can only carry 15 watermelons at a time, and he eats one watermelon every mile he walks, including back to where he started from. He can leave watermelons at any mile he has walked, but no fractions of a mile. How many watermelons can he get to Tyr?

I ask because this problem has more than one solution, each generating a different answer. None of the solutions are wrong if they follow the parameters of the problem, and all of them can be considered right regardless of their final total.

Just to be pedantic - there may be multiple solutions, but there is only one right answer.

The question asks how many he can get there - this asks for a maximum value.

If you have 'more than one solution, each generating a different answer.' - the largest of those answers is, by definition, the right answer, and every other answer is - by definition- the wrong answer.

It is not true that "all of them can be considered right regardless of their final total."

Whether this bit of reality applies to the OPs attempt to discuss game design by analogy I'll leave as an open question.  But the reality is that many questions have mulitple solutions but not all solutions are equally correct.

(Likewise - there is only one right answer to 1.3 + 1.4.  The fact that some methods give different values for the approximation of that value in no way makes them the correct answer.  And mistaking 'the right answer' for 'a valid approximation' is a serious error in mathematical literacy.)

Carl
Emerikol
Joined Dec 1969
So the designers are incompetent?  The first thing they should have done was nail down numbers.  Everything else needs to wait until they get that done because it is the whole foundation on which the game is built.  The "feel" of the game (as a ruleset not at the table of course) is in large part designated by the math and how the numbers fit together.  If the numbers don't work the whole playtest thing becomes an exercise in futility.

I think working out the numbers is a crazy first step.  What if the mechanics that make those numbers are rejected?  The the whole house comes downs.  Rather put out ideas on how different mechanics could play and get acceptance on those things first.  Then fit them to the numbers.
Again, I don't see "how many can he get there" as "what is the greatest number he can get there". "How many can he get there?" is pretty open.

How many candies do you want? Well, I know the maximum I can eat is 27...am I not allowed to say I want 12? Or 1?

Since the process to arrive at 2, 5, or 8 is consistent with the parameters of the problem, yes, they are right. Each of the given solutions is equally right, therefore each of their products are correct.

As for "one right answer to 1.3+1.4", the fact is there ARE conflicting procedures for when and what to round down. They may not be reflective of what YOU'VE been trained for, but they remain valid. Referring to something as the right answer means you're making a value judgement beyond the impartiality of the numbers themselves.

You can say 1.3+1.4 is 2.7, but if my significant digits don't include any decimals your answer is no longer acceptable. Doesn't make it wrong.

And my intention isn't to discuss game design, more like our perceptions of what is and is not a problem with the design, and the fact that we can each draw equally valid conclusions from the same body of material.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
Again, I don't see "how many can he get there" as "what is the greatest number he can get there". "How many can he get there?" is pretty open.

How many candies do you want? Well, I know the maximum I can eat is 27...am I not allowed to say I want 12? Or 1?

Since the process to arrive at 2, 5, or 8 is consistent with the parameters of the problem, yes, they are right. Each of the given solutions is equally right, therefore each of their products are correct.

As for "one right answer to 1.3+1.4", the fact is there ARE conflicting procedures for when and what to round down. They may not be reflective of what YOU'VE been trained for, but they remain valid. Referring to something as the right answer means you're making a value judgement beyond the impartiality of the numbers themselves.

You can say 1.3+1.4 is 2.7, but if my significant digits don't include any decimals your answer is no longer acceptable. Doesn't make it wrong.

And my intention isn't to discuss game design, more like our perceptions of what is and is not a problem with the design, and the fact that we can each draw equally valid conclusions from the same body of material.

Fine, fine, fine, but this is something that you have to clearly indicate with the question.  It doesn't matter "how you see it", it matters what the question is asking.  Seeing as how you asked the question, you are free to define it as simply looking for all the possible numbers of watermelons that can be brought to the final destination (I assumed that because you talked about "all the different solutions").

The point is that not all questions will be open ended like that; some will have a single, best answer.  Take your inclusion of sig figs for the simple math problem: that is something that would be known from the start, and so there is still a best answer.