Baked-In Fluff Disagreements(Pash's Take On It)

There's a lot of dissention about baked in fluff lately.  Some people are just so gung ho about loving it, others, like myself, sort of hate it.  I think this issue is often clouded, though.

We have different definitions of what baked in fluff is.  This was most clear to me when Dave2008 said, "Hell the new 13th age which is getting a lot of love has loads of backed in fluff."

See, 13th Age, as I see it, has incredibly little baked in fluff(indeed, they take a lot of pains to remind you how cool reflavoring is).   When I talk about Baked-in fluff, I'm not talking about fluff that happens to be in the book , I'm specifically talking about fluff that is included as rules.  For the ultimate example of baked in fluff, see the AD&D Paladin.  Must be Lawful Good.  Must follow this code of conduct.  Must only adventure with other Good people.  Must try to make alliances with Lawful Good NPCs where-ever possible.  Must tithe 10% to the church.  Every bit of that is baked in fluff.  None of it serves to allow PC Paladins to act as paladins, it commands them to conform to the devs idea of one.




It's my thought that a lot of people who are against Baked In Fluff are using my definition(or close to it) and that many of those who praise Baked In Fluff really don't care for it being Baked In(by definition) but simply like fluff being present(and they call that "baked in").  I like fluff being present, too, hell, let's have plenty of it present.  It's just the baked in that I don't like.  Things only get worse when people make the logic leap to "YOU MUST HATE ALL FLUFF AND JUST WANT TO PLAY A TACTICAL WARGAME"
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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I wound up being drawn into this altercation on Lesp’s innocently titled thread, “The Best of Built In Fluff”…


 


for space

 There's absolutely no reason a Ranger has to be part of the Boy Scouts of America (or whatever) to be able to shoot a bow, track, and swing a pair of swords...



So if we take this argument further... does the Ranger even need to be a "Ranger"?  ... couldn't he just be a fighter who shoots a bow, tracks and swings a pair of swords?

Isn't the difference between a "Ranger" and a dual-wielding, archery fighter that's a skilled tracker the fluff that's attached to it? 

What is your non-fluff related way to make a "Ranger" that isn't just one of the other classes with a different background & specialty?



… continued…


for space


I'm no game designer, that's their job to determine.  


In some ways, isn't every class just a refinement of "fighter" or "caster"?  You can differentiate between different fighters by what they are capable of and what they generally are trained to do...and at some point it becomes more efficient to just say "this one's a ranger, that one's a fighter" and present two choices.  Or four.  Or eight.  Or however many.




I would say that every class is (at its core) a refinement of “Fighter”, “Caster” and “Expert”.  How each class does its “job” may be different, but there aren’t really that many different jobs to do in a game.


That is why I think that WOTC shouldn’t bother creating a bunch of different classes, because the only real way for them to differentiate between two “fighters” is with mechanical flavor… well, this one is a lawful good, holy knight who only fights with a long sword and wears plate mail; and this one is a lightly armored archer who uses stealth and tracks his special prey.


Does WOTC really need to make all of the varieties of Fighter for us?



In past editions, the Ranger has gotten damage bonuses against chosen enemies, or a preferred type of enemy; bonus ability with dual-wielding weapons; bonuses to tracking and wilderness survival - things a straight fighter doesn't get.  Those are mechanical bonuses.




Yes.  Those are all examples of mechanical bonuses, but they are all tied to the “Ranger” concept… and “concept” is just another way of saying “the fluff that separates him from the other fighters”.


 

You could build the fighter mechanics such that there are options at creation to pick such things, or to specialise in other areas (instead of favoured enemy, they can have sneak attack or rage abilities; instead of tracking and survival, they can have sneaking skills or faster movement and more hit points), but that takes us back to the "martial" and "caster" class roots, and that's not too far from a classless system at that point.




Which I believe is the idea behind the “Modular” concept.  However, I wouldn’t build the choices into the fighter (… or caster… or expert) mechanics, because then you’re locking the “ranger option” (for example) into the fighter-type… and someone else might feel that their “Ranger” is more of an expert-type.


I didn’t bother reading much about the Warlock or Sorcerer, because they seem a little too “fleshed out” to fit with the rest of the Base Class Modules.  I just wonder why we need a “Warlock” class, when a pact background on a “Caster” (and maybe an alternate casting system) should cover it.


All in all, I like how WOTC is doing it so far with the use of “Backgrounds” (as basic skill-delivery mechanic) and “Specialties” (as a basic feat-delivery mechanic).  Yes, they still need a lot of work… and, yes, there will be fluff tied to the skill and/or feat mechanic… but, overall, I think that it is an idea worth developing further, because I think it will allow for a maximum of variation with a minimum of effort (and, ideally, the bits of “fluffy mechanics” will be in easy to ignore blocks)



He could, yes.  You could build your character like that and call him a Ranger, while someone else uses a pre-baked 'Ranger' class.  There's nothing wrong with having more than one way to craft a character concept.


… but why waste the effort of making both a pre-generated “Ranger” class, who is chock full of flavor-mechanics AND a number of potentially ranger-themed backgrounds & specialties that can be plugged into either the “Fighter” or the “Expert” chassis? 


In the first case, the designers have to pull a bunch of mechanical fluff out of their behinds to justify the “Ranger’s” differences from a “Fighter”… and 50% of the consumers will gripe about the ridiculous requirements making NO sense.

In the second case, YOU use the components provided to “craft a character concept”.  If you don’t agree with the flavor mechanics in an individual block, then you can design your own… and due to the the flavor mechanics being isolated into smaller, optional components, the overall burden on the end-user will be smaller and the effect on overall mechanics should be less significant.

Additionally, WOTC could continue to add their recommendations for combinations… they could say “If you’d like to play a Ranger, try adding a woodsman background and an archer specialty onto your fighter to make it about 20% cooler”, for example. 




... and to sum up my thoughts on "The Great Baked-In Fluff Controversy of 2012"... well my thoughts, in addition to the belief that its healthier having it deep-fried.

for space

I understand the argument that fluff tied to mechanics is BAD… but isn’t the core of all the mechanics in all of gaming, a means to justify fluff?


At some point, someone thought it would be a neat idea if they could portray a character who could fight with a long sword… so they designed a mechanic (to roll 1d20 to hit & 1d8 for damage) in order to implement the “fluff” of using long swords in D&D.


My point is that the entirety of D&D is a mechanical rule set, that is used to justify the fluff of a “Fantasy” play setting. 




(edited to conserve space)
As Pash said, fluff isn't bad.  Fluff that determines how your character behaves is what's bad.  D&D is a class-based game, so clearly choosing a class will have a profound effect on what your character can do.  But beyond that, no class rules should tell you how you behave, or what you value, or whatnot.  Exception: In Campaign Settings, whether they be "official" from WotC or a DM's personal homebrew, all that goes out the window.

So a Paladin shouldn't be forced to be Lawful Good, a Ranger shouldn't be forced to be a member of a secret society, and so on and so forth. 
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I'm not a fan of baked in fluff, but for that matter, I'm not a fan of ANY fluff in my core rule books.  I'd be completely happy if they were strictly rule books and campaign settings were the books that really modified the game as needed to fit the setting. 

GURPS at one point used to be my favorite game to play, however over time I have not enjoyed the mechanics as much for a fantasy game.  

In some other threads, people have stated that the rule books wouldn't be enjoying reads without the fluff.  Perhaps - I don't think so, I think they could use the room instead to show good examples of rules being put into place to make the book better.

However, I can deal with fluff in the book, what I really hate is the baked in fluff as Pash explained it.  I hate that they say that rogues can't be lawful - like no one could decided to learn how to pick locks with the sole intent of stopping unlawful activity. I hated that they wanted to force rogues to know thieves' cant - for a number of reasons biggest of which implied that only rogues were members of thieves guilds.  I hated racial restrictions on paladins - stating that elves couldn't have the passion to become them. 


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My point is that the entirety of D&D is a mechanical rule set, that is used to justify the fluff of a “Fantasy” play setting.


I don't quite agree, I think the ruleset is there to settle conflict resolution.  But, to quote Qmark, 

"Fluff is good when it suggests what a character could be.  
Fluff is bad when it mandates what a character must be."

The way I see it, Baked in Fluff refers solely to the latter. 
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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The issues is when baked in fluff doesn't match your campaign.

Games where there is an official only world like Dragon Age, Exalted, 13th Age, etc, baked in fluff mixed with rules is okay. That is how the world works.

But Universal World games like D&D, GURPS, etc suffer for it because changing the fluff is so common it is encouraged. Then issues with Baked in Fluff with entangled mechanics becomes a mess if there is no guides to remove fluff mechanics.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

My point is that the entirety of D&D is a mechanical rule set, that is used to justify the fluff of a “Fantasy” play setting.


I don't quite agree, I think the ruleset is there to settle conflict resolution.  But, to quote Qmark, 

"Fluff is good when it suggests what a character could be.  
Fluff is bad when it mandates what a character must be."

The way I see it, Baked in Fluff refers solely to the latter. 


… but the conflict resolution is required, because a someone wanted to adjudicate between two peoples’ conflicting “Fluff”. 


For example, two kids (Adam and Beth) are out playing a makeshift game:


 Adam picks up a stick and says “I’m a knight. I have a sword, and you’re monster I need to slay”. 


Beth picks up her own stick and replies “No.  I’m a gun-slinger, and I’ll shoot you before you get near me.”


“Well I’m wearing armor, and your bullet bounces off”, Adam retorts. 


“No” Beth says, “I shot YOU!”

Eventually, Adam and Beth may sit down and try to determine the best way to express her gun’s accuracy and his armor’s effectiveness in a “play” setting.  



Also if “Fluff is bad when it mandates what a character must be”… then can someone please explain how to justify the existence of additional fighting classes, without using fluff? 


Is there some way to express the concept of a Paladin, that can’t be done through backgrounds and specialties?

… but the conflict resolution is required, because a someone wanted to adjudicate between two peoples’ conflicting “Fluff”.

Of course the conflict resolution is required. I don't even understand how that's a question.

Also if “Fluff is bad when it mandates what a character must be”… then can someone please explain how to justify the existence of additional fighting classes, without using fluff? 

Is there some way to express the concept of a Paladin, that can’t be done through backgrounds and specialties?



Simply put, some archetypes have enough variation that they are better served by a whole class, with multiple builds, than by one random build of another class.

"Let's have more ways to do things" does not conflict with "This is a way to do this thing".
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
Thanks, Pash. I agree wholeheartedly!
Thanks, Pash. I agree wholeheartedly!


Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I had to think it through several times before I agreed with Pash.  Instinctually I want to disagree on principle Wink.

For classes I prefer more generic abstract archetypes without a lot of fluff baked in.  I'd be overjoyed if they announced fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric with specialities for casting type etc...

But as DM I have no problem with a "campaign" having lots of baked in fluff.   So if I sat down at a table to play and a DM said "In the world of XYZ, paladins are all LG, tithe 10%, bla bla bla.",  I wouldn't think twice about it.  Whether I played a Paladin in that situation would depend on whether I liked the fluff and was generally wanting a Paladin.   I also wouldn't have a problem with a DM that had two or three or more distinct variations on the Paladin as well.  I think worlds need to be full of flavor.  But the game at the class level does not.

Now when it comes to powers and spells I prefer the fluff baked in or at least available to be baked in.  I as DM will use the fluff to adjudicate a rule at times.  I might say the fireball won't go off underwater or you can't knock an ooze prone, etc...  But on the flip side, I don't mind if others just play the rule and don't do what I do.  But I'd like for the powers to include the fluff so I can do what I do as well.  I don't mind if the fluff and the techical details are separated out (as they have been in most cases all along).  

I also think that for new players the lack of fluff can be a big turnoff.  So I wouldn't mind if the DMG had some fluff ideas for all the classes so that when just starting groups could use the default.  


 
More options is always more fun.  However, I fully support baked in fluff and demand it from the games I play.
Restrictions breed creativity.
I've played completely open games, and the more open the game, the less I enjoy it.

I knew exactly what was meant by "baked in fluff" by those who hate it, and I still love it.

I miss the old paladins.  I wish there were more classes like the old paladin.   I wish paladins without the baked in fluff would just be called Mounted Clerics, and would stop being called paladins.
You are a being of great wisdom, Pash.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
You are a being of great wisdom, Pash.


Not really, but I do like to pretend ;)
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
More options is always more fun.  However, I fully support baked in fluff and demand it from the games I play.
Restrictions breed creativity.
I've played completely open games, and the more open the game, the less I enjoy it.

I knew exactly what was meant by "baked in fluff" by those who hate it, and I still love it.

I miss the old paladins.  I wish there were more classes like the old paladin.   I wish paladins without the baked in fluff would just be called Mounted Clerics, and would stop being called paladins.



That's fine.  You can do that in your game.  If you want to say Paladins have to be this, that and the other, you can do that at your table.  You can make Rangers have to be members of the Boy Scouts, whatever you bleedin' want.

The rest of us shouldn't be limited by your personal preferences.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I think this is at its heart the difference between a playtest and a beta test.  We are in a playtest.  Generally, that's not going to have advice on reflavoring powers or how to turn the warlock pact into a witch's curse.

Baked in vs. Default

What we see as "baked in" flavor is just default flavor.  And that flavor is getting reviewed and tested.  I'd be surprised if the next versions of the sorcerer and warlock has the same default flavor.  And I have no illusions that any of this is baked in.

But as long as people keep looking at the playtest as a beta test, people are going to get more upset than they need to. 

It's perfectly fine to dislike the default flavor, but comparisons to fully fleshed out games like 13th Age are just inaccurate.  13th Age is not really in a playtest.  It's a beta test.  It's a fully fleshed out game and the designers are only going to tweak it here and there.  That's why it has all of the advice on reflavoring -- they're not planning on changing any of the flavor that you need to "re-". 

I hoped that after the release of this playtest, in which the fighter was entirely rewritten from the ground up, coupled with the announcement that there is two more years of the playtest left, with new packets getting released every two to three months, that people would begin to understand that nothing is "baked in".  But, alas, people don't seem inclined to accept the premises of the playtest and will insist on judging it against inappropriate standards.

Forumites vs. Casual Gamers
Another divide is the fact that we on the forums are dedicated gamers.  We're the people who obsess over every details and make multi-page threads over whether there is a missing comma in the description of the grease spell.  We are not the people for whom default flavor is designed.

But there is a veritable ocean of gamers beyond the confines of our little puddle.  These are people who like to play, but don't give any thought to the game when they aren't at the table.  These are the people who look to the role-playing games to not only provide rules, but to provide stories for them.  To inspire characters and to give them context.

Too often people here decry any of the narration or story that is designed to ease casual gamers into the game.  We may not need narration mixed with mechanics, but the casual gamer does (generally, speaking -- obviously, individual people may buck trends).  We may have no problem with racial benefits being divided into biological and cultural components to be chosen like a Chinese menu, but casual gamers do. 

Conclusion
Of course, we are each individuals looking to our own personal enjoyment.  And that's all well and good.  But too often people don't even acknowledge that other gamers may have different preferences, even ones we find "stupid" or "irrational".  Sometimes we have to accept that we share a world with people whose tastes are incomprehensible. 

… but the conflict resolution is required, because a someone wanted to adjudicate between two peoples’ conflicting “Fluff”.

Of course the conflict resolution is required. I don't even understand how that's a question.


It wasn’t a question.  It was a statement. 

Also if “Fluff is bad when it mandates what a character must be”… then can someone please explain how to justify the existence of additional fighting classes, without using fluff? 

Is there some way to express the concept of a Paladin, that can’t be done through backgrounds and specialties?




Simply put, some archetypes have enough variation that they are better served by a whole class, with multiple builds, than by one random build of another class.

"Let's have more ways to do things" does not conflict with "This is a way to do this thing".

… but an “Archetype” is Fluff.  If an entire class is necessitated by fluff, then that classes’ unique mechanics will be determined by the same fluff. 

I don’t like this statement any more than anyone else.  As I’ve said elsewhere, I personally like the “Druid”… and I want to play a “Druid”, but MY OWN argument invalidates the need to have a class that I want.  So what I instead hope for is the tools to make MY “Druid” a reality in DDN.


If you don’t want mechanical fluff in your classes, then quit demanding MORE classes.

Wrecan is also wise, it seems.
I have really hard time seeing anything we have seen so far as being well any more baked than 4e had.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 


Another divide is the fact that we on the forums are dedicated gamers.  We're the people who obsess over every details and make multi-page threads over whether there is a missing comma in the description of the grease spell.  We are not the people for whom default flavor is designed.

But there is a veritable ocean of gamers beyond the confines of our little puddle.  These are people who like to play, but don't give any thought to the game when they aren't at the table.  These are the people who look to the role-playing games to not only provide rules, but to provide stories for them.  To inspire characters and to give them context.




Emphasis mine, of course.
I've said this very thing many times. Of all the people I play D&D with on a weekly basis, only 1 of them is a fellow forum-member. That's 1 out of 12 (2 out of 13, counting myself). Those 11 other people love playing D&D, but they don't obsess over it to the degree that we do here on the boards. Those people thoroughly enjoy flavor text and fluff in the books. They like reading it, reimagining it, tailoring it to fit their PCs, and so on. To remove it would be doing them a gross disservice.
While I really don't care for "fluff as features", where they actually include "fluff" alongside mechanics, as if they were the same thing, it's really more of an OCD consistency/presentation thing.

I also don't really care for very specific fluff on classes.  It might help inspire some folks, but I've seen it turn more people off to an otherwise appealing concept than I've seen it actually "inspire".  I'm thinking something like the alignment- and code-of-conduct-restricted Paladin of yore - I'm sure it inspired quite a few people, but my experience was that the very specific flavor of the class turned most players off to it.  I saw the Warlock suffer the same effect in 3.5 - a few players who liked the gameplay aspects of it were completely turned off by the background, flavor, and general "fluff" of its powers.

Honestly though, I'm not really too concerned about either of these with Next (yet) - it's early.

I will say that, out of Sorcerer and Warlock, it's the Sorcerer that really strikes me as unnecessarily blending "fluff" and mechanics - but as I've said elsewhere, I think that's largely because I don't like it's "fluff".  The primacy of the bloodline as a concept, and the "fluffchanics" of your character's actual capabilities changing as you use your magic, put me off of a class that I used to like quite a bit.

In contrast, the Warlock has a lot of fluff in there, but it's a lot of stuff that I'm less antagonistic toward, and more indifferent about - and it's all extremely ignorable.  I don't like Wartlocks, so I won't have Wartlocks.  There's not much more to it, though I'll add that I am a bit off-put by the (mostly minor - the more "academic" bent to its flavor) changes to the class compared to its two prior incarnations.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)

Another divide is the fact that we on the forums are dedicated gamers.  We're the people who obsess over every details and make multi-page threads over whether there is a missing comma in the description of the grease spell.  We are not the people for whom default flavor is designed.

But there is a veritable ocean of gamers beyond the confines of our little puddle.  These are people who like to play, but don't give any thought to the game when they aren't at the table.  These are the people who look to the role-playing games to not only provide rules, but to provide stories for them.  To inspire characters and to give them context.




Emphasis mine, of course.
I've said this very thing many times. Of all the people I play D&D with on a weekly basis, only 1 of them is a fellow forum-member. That's 1 out of 12 (2 out of 13, counting myself). Those 11 other people love playing D&D, but they don't obsess over it to the degree that we do here on the boards. Those people thoroughly enjoy flavor text and fluff in the books. They like reading it, reimagining it, tailoring it to fit their PCs, and so on. To remove it would be doing them a gross disservice.



But would it really harm these players if the book was writen in such a way that it still included the "fluff" but the mechanics of classes, races, themes, whatever - weren't impacted by said fluff?

Would these players still be happy to have the Paladin class listed out, with all the details on the paladin class, but just keep out the "Must be lawful good" piece. 

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I know it kind of goes without saying, but I would like to add, anyways, that "non-forumgoers like the built-in-fluff" isn't universal.

I'm the only D&D player I know who comes here, at all, but we may have only one player out of 7 active players (and maybe 2, total, out of my total "semi-regular" 11 or so players), who gets excited about - and "inspired by" - built-in fluff.

Most of my gaming group is looking for a means to put together a character they already have in their head - and this is especially true for the most "casual" among them, who are more likely to look to pop culture and their own favorite adventures and heroes for inspiration, than to look at the fluff built into specific classes.

As I said in my above post, I've seen more players turned off from classes because of very specific fluff, than I've seen inspired by it.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)

But would it really harm these players if the book was writen in such a way that it still included the "fluff" but the mechanics of classes, races, themes, whatever - weren't impacted by said fluff?

Would these players still be happy to have the Paladin class listed out, with all the details on the paladin class, but just keep out the "Must be lawful good" piece. 



Since they played paladins in 4E, I would have to assume that yes, they are just as happy without them being tied to LG.

Maybe it's a definition thing, as well. I see fluff as something that does not impact crunch, no matter how much of it is included. I see it as once the fluff impacts the crunch, it is no longer fluff. The "paladin must be LG" was not fluff. It was a rule. It was crunch. There were too many mechanics behind it (loss of paladinhood / reverted to a fighter / lost magical abilities / etc.) for it to be fluff.  The reasons behind the tie to alignment might be fluff, but the actual rule that they be LG was not. That's just my take on it.
Would these players still be happy to have the Paladin class listed out, with all the details on the paladin class, but just keep out the "Must be lawful good" piece.


I agree with Hocus.  That's not fluff.
Would these players still be happy to have the Paladin class listed out, with all the details on the paladin class, but just keep out the "Must be lawful good" piece.


I agree with Hocus.  That's not fluff.

It's crunch mandated by fluff, which is bad.


But would it really harm these players if the book was writen in such a way that it still included the "fluff" but the mechanics of classes, races, themes, whatever - weren't impacted by said fluff?

Would these players still be happy to have the Paladin class listed out, with all the details on the paladin class, but just keep out the "Must be lawful good" piece. 



Since they played paladins in 4E, I would have to assume that yes, they are just as happy without them being tied to LG.

Maybe it's a definition thing, as well. I see fluff as something that does not impact crunch, no matter how much of it is included. I see it as once the fluff impacts the crunch, it is no longer fluff. The "paladin must be LG" was not fluff. It was a rule. It was crunch. There were too many mechanics behind it (loss of paladinhood / reverted to a fighter / lost magical abilities / etc.) for it to be fluff.  The reasons behind the tie to alignment might be fluff, but the actual rule that they be LG was not. That's just my take on it.



It's mechanically enforced fluff.  It was too specific of a mechanic and it was so specific because it was trying to meet a specific element of fluff created.  

If I can't call that Fluff, that's fine, I'll just say I don't want any crunch that has been so strictly dictated by fluff.   


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I think this is at its heart the difference between a playtest and a beta test.  We are in a playtest.  Generally, that's not going to have advice on reflavoring powers or how to turn the warlock pact into a witch's curse.

Baked in vs. Default

What we see as "baked in" flavor is just default flavor.  And that flavor is getting reviewed and tested.  I'd be surprised if the next versions of the sorcerer and warlock has the same default flavor.  And I have no illusions that any of this is baked in.

But as long as people keep looking at the playtest as a beta test, people are going to get more upset than they need to. 

It's perfectly fine to dislike the default flavor, but comparisons to fully fleshed out games like 13th Age are just inaccurate.  13th Age is not really in a playtest.  It's a beta test.  It's a fully fleshed out game and the designers are only going to tweak it here and there.  That's why it has all of the advice on reflavoring -- they're not planning on changing any of the flavor that you need to "re-". 

I hoped that after the release of this playtest, in which the fighter was entirely rewritten from the ground up, coupled with the announcement that there is two more years of the playtest left, with new packets getting released every two to three months, that people would begin to understand that nothing is "baked in".  But, alas, people don't seem inclined to accept the premises of the playtest and will insist on judging it against inappropriate standards.

Forumites vs. Casual Gamers
Another divide is the fact that we on the forums are dedicated gamers.  We're the people who obsess over every details and make multi-page threads over whether there is a missing comma in the description of the grease spell.  We are not the people for whom default flavor is designed.

But there is a veritable ocean of gamers beyond the confines of our little puddle.  These are people who like to play, but don't give any thought to the game when they aren't at the table.  These are the people who look to the role-playing games to not only provide rules, but to provide stories for them.  To inspire characters and to give them context.

Too often people here decry any of the narration or story that is designed to ease casual gamers into the game.  We may not need narration mixed with mechanics, but the casual gamer does (generally, speaking -- obviously, individual people may buck trends).  We may have no problem with racial benefits being divided into biological and cultural components to be chosen like a Chinese menu, but casual gamers do. 

Conclusion
Of course, we are each individuals looking to our own personal enjoyment.  And that's all well and good.  But too often people don't even acknowledge that other gamers may have different preferences, even ones we find "stupid" or "irrational".  Sometimes we have to accept that we share a world with people whose tastes are incomprehensible. 



Agree unreservedly 100%.  What have you done with the wrecan with whom I almost always disagreed?

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Agree unreservedly 100%.  What have you done with the wrecan with whom I almost always disagreed?


I used him for the residuum needed to make the helm of opposite attitude I snuck onto your head! 
If I can't call that Fluff, that's fine, I'll just say I don't want any crunch that has been so strictly dictated by fluff.  


Okay.  It's still nto fluff.
I actually like fluff, in a campaign setting.  The problem with making something to fluffy (and this isn't a binary choice of all fluff or no fluff) in core is two fold, it can turn off players and can also ripple through and affect said campaign settings (or you have to rewrite whole classes fluff for each and every setting).  Although none of us really have an idea about what is to much or to little for the majority of gamers though, so I guess in the end we can only argue what we feel.

Currently I feel both the sorceror and warlock are to fluffy, (I also don't like the gish side of the sorceror and would prefer a more spellcaster side but that is really a different story).

Finally fluff should not affect the character to much mechanically, the paladin lawful good is an example of this.  I guess I would put the 4th ed barbarian as an example of fluff making a character more interesting, where the rages are typically tied into channeling primal spirits but it doesn't really change the mechanics of the class any.
If I can't call that Fluff, that's fine, I'll just say I don't want any crunch that has been so strictly dictated by fluff.  


Okay.  It's still nto fluff.



6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

You do realize, Wrecan, that the reason you call these "rules" is the exact same reason we call it "baked-in" fluff, right?

It's not fluff to you because it has mechanical consequences.  We don't like this fluff because it has mechanical consequences.  We're arguing over semantics here.

What is the spirit of the problem?  There shouldn't be mechanics that exist because of setting-specific concerns.  Whether you call those "baked-in fluff", or "setting-specific rules" really ultimately doesn't matter,

They belong in campaign setting sourcebooks and not in the core rulebooks. 
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Not every group buys a campaign setting, or makes their own.  A lot of gamers buy the three core books and that's it.  Without default fluff, and a default setting, those casual gamers are left out in the cold.  Both are important to be contained in the core books as long as they are just fluff, or easily ignored mechanics.

Oh, and someone please explain "gish." 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

If I can't call that Fluff, that's fine, I'll just say I don't want any crunch that has been so strictly dictated by fluff.  


Okay.  It's still nto fluff.




Fluff, crunch, baked-in fluff, mechano-fluff, mac & cheese, does it really matter what it's called?  The real issue is this: Should fluff be so important that it becomes a mechanic. 

That, as I understood it, was the point of Pash's thread - not to discuss what we want to call these resulting mechanics.

 When I talk about Baked-in fluff, I'm not talking about fluff that happens to be in the book , I'm specifically talking about fluff that is included as rules.  For the ultimate example of baked in fluff, see the AD&D Paladin.  Must be Lawful Good.  Must follow this code of conduct.  Must only adventure with other Good people.  Must try to make alliances with Lawful Good NPCs where-ever possible.  Must tithe 10% to the church.  Every bit of that is baked in fluff.  None of it serves to allow PC Paladins to act as paladins, it commands them to conform to the devs idea of one.

 
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More options is always more fun.  However, I fully support baked in fluff and demand it from the games I play.
Restrictions breed creativity.
I've played completely open games, and the more open the game, the less I enjoy it.

I knew exactly what was meant by "baked in fluff" by those who hate it, and I still love it.

I miss the old paladins.  I wish there were more classes like the old paladin.   I wish paladins without the baked in fluff would just be called Mounted Clerics, and would stop being called paladins.



That's fine.  You can do that in your game.  If you want to say Paladins have to be this, that and the other, you can do that at your table.  You can make Rangers have to be members of the Boy Scouts, whatever you bleedin' want.

The rest of us shouldn't be limited by your personal preferences.

I can't, because I don't have the time or energy to do so.  I'm buying a game for me to play, not a second job.

You can remove anything you don't like from the game just as easily as I can add things.

However, as a consumer, all I have is what the game provides me to play with. I have no other story or world or charachter to interact with other than the ones I see before me. 
First off the term fluff does not correctly apply to TTRPGs.  What you mean is flavor.

Second:


Forumites vs. Casual Gamers
Another divide is the fact that we on the forums are dedicated gamers.  We're the people who obsess over every details and make multi-page threads over whether there is a missing comma in the description of the grease spell.  We are not the people for whom default flavor is designed.

But there is a veritable ocean of gamers beyond the confines of our little puddle.  These are people who like to play, but don't give any thought to the game when they aren't at the table.  These are the people who look to the role-playing games to not only provide rules, but to provide stories for them.  To inspire characters and to give them context.

Too often people here decry any of the narration or story that is designed to ease casual gamers into the game.  We may not need narration mixed with mechanics, but the casual gamer does (generally, speaking -- obviously, individual people may buck trends).  We may have no problem with racial benefits being divided into biological and cultural components to be chosen like a Chinese menu, but casual gamers do.



This right here is basically the reason that I enjoy "baked in flavor".  I say so long as that baked in flavor is easily changed for those that don't like it then it is fine.
Not every group buys a campaign setting, or makes their own.  A lot of gamers buy the three core books and that's it.  Without default fluff, and a default setting, those casual gamers are left out in the cold.  Both are important to be contained in the core books as long as they are just fluff, or easily ignored mechanics.



There is a profound difference between fluffy text used to describe a default world and inspire readers, and fluffy text with mechanical implications (that are in effect "rules") that restrict creativity or get in the way of someone's potential homebrew setting.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Not every group buys a campaign setting, or makes their own.  A lot of gamers buy the three core books and that's it.  Without default fluff, and a default setting, those casual gamers are left out in the cold.  Both are important to be contained in the core books as long as they are just fluff, or easily ignored mechanics.



There is a profound difference between fluffy text used to describe a default world and inspire readers, and fluffy text with mechanical implications (that are in effect "rules") that restrict creativity or get in the way of someone's potential homebrew setting.




fluff as a term does not properly apply to TTRPGs
Oh, and someone please explain "gish." 


I have no idea where the term came from, but it means someone who is half-caster, half-not; or something that uses magic to do something that is traditionally the realm of non-magic classes, typically melee combat.

The draconic sorcerer is very "gish" because it has a strong emphasis on melee combat abilities.  The swordmage would be another example.

Depending on how fine a comb you want to use, a fighter/wizard multiclass is a gish, as would be the "elf" class from early D&D.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Not every group buys a campaign setting, or makes their own.  A lot of gamers buy the three core books and that's it.  Without default fluff, and a default setting, those casual gamers are left out in the cold.  Both are important to be contained in the core books as long as they are just fluff, or easily ignored mechanics.

Oh, and someone please explain "gish." 



There can be a default setting for the rules, but the core rules shouldn't be modified by the default setting.  Save variations to the rules for the other settings.  

If a class is designed with mechanics to represent fluff, is it really that easy to ignore it?  Are there going to be balance issues later on?  Did the designers create a weapon or a spell that normally this class wouldn't be able to use but now by "ignoring the mechanics" is this going to mean that this class may outpower the game.

A casual player may not catch that in time.   
Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
Not every group buys a campaign setting, or makes their own.  A lot of gamers buy the three core books and that's it.  Without default fluff, and a default setting, those casual gamers are left out in the cold.  Both are important to be contained in the core books as long as they are just fluff, or easily ignored mechanics.



There is a profound difference between fluffy text used to describe a default world and inspire readers, and fluffy text with mechanical implications (that are in effect "rules") that restrict creativity or get in the way of someone's potential homebrew setting.




fluff as a term does not properly apply to TTRPGs


Fluff, flavor, whatever.  Your pedantic semantic argument is a distraction from the main point.  The terms, as created by Sean Reynolds, were "fluff" and "crunch".  Crunch doesn't mean "rules" in common parlance, either.  It refers to a sound or texture of certain types of food.  The majority of this forum uses fluff and flavor interchangeably, and "fluff" is more than adequate a term to get the point across. 
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.