Roleplay vs. rollplay - and DnDNext as its battlefield

I've followed quite a lot of threads, and usually they all boil down to math and statistics. Of course the math should be sound, otherwise the game would be unplayable. But my group and I approach the game not as a math-hammer game, but as a roleplaying game. And we are mostly happy with the look of the classes so far. They are unique in their own way, and suitably streamlined to allow customizing and house ruling (or as the devs call it.. adding modules). But we focus on how the classes fill a role in the narrative. Not how they are all equal in combat. And we are worried that what we feel is a promising take on DnD, and possibly the best itteration of DnD ever (we played them all, but I won't get into edition reviewing), is turning into yet another math-hammer statistics roll-play game. My point is this:

Our wizard is insanely creative in his use of spells. He hardly ever casts a damaging spell in combat, but somehow manages to either aid the party or cripple the baddies anyway. And if his spell slots are being depleted or he hasn't got any spells prepared that suit the situation, he always has a staff or wand to unleash arcane fury. So while he may not be as effective as a fighter by looking at pure stats, once you account for roleplaying influences such as equipment and creativity, the wizard is a force to be reckoned with.

The same applies to the rogue. I get the sense that many people play the rogue as an assassin type stealth killer (at least that is my impression from reading the math arguments), but the rogue in our group works entirely different. Being the kliché halfling rogue, he's the one who crawls, lurks and filches his way into places the others cannot, opening doors, disabeling traps and generally aiding the party outside of combat. And pair him with the wizards creative spell use, and the two of them can wreak havoc on a dungeon or village. But during combat, he rarely bothers to deal direct damage. He jumps, tumbles, hides and sneaks around the battlefield, tripping, grappling and hampering the baddies any way he can, getting in sneak attacks when possible. But usually he does so to aid the party in dealing damage.
One time he climbed onto an owlbear and stabbed its eyes out, vastly improving the odds of the encounter. He even spent a large part of an encounter climbing and scaling the tapestries, bannisters and ropes of an inn, only to drop the chandelier onto a group of rowdy orcs, ending the encounter instantly. (That the encounter started because he tried to steal their gold in the first place is a different story).

But we feel as a group that if you want to talk about balance, you need to account for how the class plays as a role and account for how the class is intended to fill a narrative role, and not solely rely on math and statistics. We feel that the heavy emphasis on math and statistics is what ruined 3e and 4e for us.

But how do you feel about accounting for roleplay? Since the devs state that Next should be about getting back to the story rather than overly complex rules, is it okay that the classes aren't equal in math and combat, as long as the class has its own feel and part to play in the story?
I am playing a rogue currently.  Whislt I love the versatility out of combat I would like the rogue to have more of a distinct role in combat that is made mechanically possible by maneuvers or special abilities.  I could care less about his damage potential or equality.  Maneuvers that would allow him to slow opponents movement, or put them at disadvantage, or poison them, etcetera I would prefer to just straight sneak attack (of any flavor) damage.  I also don't want to have to rely in every situation on DM fiat to allow me to do such things as climb up an owlbear and blind it.  Our group is not adverse to that kind of thing but I would prefer there to be some mechanics that more defined the rogue's role in combat, and not as a damage dealer. 

Our wizard is insanely creative in his use of spells...

The same applies to the rogue...



I agree with you the game do not relly only in a math-hammer. Indeed wizards and rogues are more complex classes that allow a nice roleplaing, but the roleplaying part and statistics are orthogonal and both need to be adresses. Statistics are imperative to balance combate, but equally imperative is adress well roleplaying and exploration for each class.


But we feel as a group that if you want to talk about balance, you need to account for how the class plays as a role and account for how the class is intended to fill a narrative role, and not solely rely on math and statistics. We feel that the heavy emphasis on math and statistics is what ruined 3e and 4e for us.



 Umbalance and a broken system after 10 level in fact rined 3e, while homogeneity and low emphasis in roleplyaing and exploration ruined 4e.

 



I guess one of the reasons the discussions often look at the math, is that the math is pretty objective and equal for all. The judgement calls involved in roleplaying nad improvisational actions are not nearly as easy to discuss across playing styles and expectations.

Personally I like my D&D (and rpgs in general) to have plenty of room for improvasation, so that goes for all classes. So if it seems fair that the rogue can climb on the back of the Owlbear and stab it in the eye, it seems equally fair that the fighter might jam his shield in it's beak and render it unable to bite or something. So whether or not those sorts of things are allowed at a given gaming table (since it relies heavily on DM fiat not all peopel will like it) it doesn't do much to balance classes. Unless of course it is used so much that class abilities go in the background, but in that case it hardly matter which rules you use.
 
I doubt there are almost any players on this forum who want an entirely math-based approach. Role-playing is the name of the game, but how are we supposed to determine how a class "fits into the narrative structure" of a game? The narrative structure is determined by the players and the DM and it is almost impossible to judge how a class fits into a story. For example, a Wizard in an Ebberron setting is completely different from a Wizard in a Dark Sun setting. How do we determine if the wizard we have fits into either of these settings?

On the flip side, math is easy. You plug and chug the equations and you get answers. The Rogue doesn't need to deal crazy damage, but his current damage is a little too low. I can accept that. These numbers are important for the game design, and at this early stage in the game they are what we can work with the most. Now as things move ahead the numbers will fade into the background like they do and we will be talking more about how things will work in a story.

Besides, you can ignore the math if you want and still have fun. The OP just made a good case for it above, but unbalanced math will cause problems for the game as a whole if it is released that way.
Our wizard is insanely creative in his use of spells. He hardly ever casts a damaging spell in combat, but somehow manages to either aid the party or cripple the baddies anyway. And if his spell slots are being depleted or he hasn't got any spells prepared that suit the situation, he always has a staff or wand to unleash arcane fury. So while he may not be as effective as a fighter by looking at pure stats, once you account for roleplaying influences such as equipment and creativity, the wizard is a force to be reckoned with.



So, basically, you let the wizard cheat, because he describes things creatively?

That's fine, but you're not playing an RPG.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition

I've followed quite a lot of threads, and usually they all boil down to math and statistics. Of course the math should be sound, otherwise the game would be unplayable.



This is the only part of your post which is valid. 

But my group and I approach the game not as a math-hammer game, but as a roleplaying game. And we are mostly happy with the look of the classes so far. They are unique in their own way, and suitably streamlined to allow customizing and house ruling (or as the devs call it.. adding modules). But we focus on how the classes fill a role in the narrative. Not how they are all equal in combat.



Yea, here is the thing: I don't know how you guys judged the classes. I don't have access to your subjective and holistic thought process. But I, who also primarily care about how classes fill a role in the narrative, am not happy with the game's current balance. For the most part things are working well. However, the fighter is outperforming the monk and the rogue by far too large a margin. I can show why I think that mathematically. Keep in mind, the monk's role in the game is also a combative one. I can also show why I don't feel that the rogue is currently capable of filling the role of a stealthy sneak who comes up behind his foes and takes them out with a dagger when they don't expect it. I can also show why, mathematically, overall, including all the different roles of the game, the fighter is a little too good at the moment. I can do that mathematically. And, like you said, the math of the game must be sound. 


The same applies to the rogue. I get the sense that many people play the rogue as an assassin type stealth killer (at least that is my impression from reading the math arguments), but the rogue in our group works entirely different. Being the kliché halfling rogue, he's the one who crawls, lurks and filches his way into places the others cannot, opening doors, disabeling traps and generally aiding the party outside of combat. And pair him with the wizards creative spell use, and the two of them can wreak havoc on a dungeon or village. But during combat, he rarely bothers to deal direct damage. He jumps, tumbles, hides and sneaks around the battlefield, tripping, grappling and hampering the baddies any way he can, getting in sneak attacks when possible. But usually he does so to aid the party in dealing damage. 
One time he climbed onto an owlbear and stabbed its eyes out, vastly improving the odds of the encounter. He even spent a large part of an encounter climbing and scaling the tapestries, bannisters and ropes of an inn, only to drop the chandelier onto a group of rowdy orcs, ending the encounter instantly. (That the encounter started because he tried to steal their gold in the first place is a different story). 



I would love it if the rogue actually had mechanical edges which allowed him to play the role you describe. Unfortunately, the mechanics of the game currently do not support such a reality. His sneak attacks are so weak that a fighter deals better damage without sneaking. So, "when he can" get sneak attack he still doesn't shine. Mighty Exertion helps a fighter with climb just as much as Skill Mastery helps the rogue at the same task. So, there is no reason why a fighter cannot do the same sort of thing to the owlbear you described. In fact, due to his high health, AC, and likely strength score, he would be better at doing that sort of thing. Same goes for grappling, tripping, and otherwise hampering enemies. The mechanics for that sort of thing rely on strength. Between Mighty Exertion and a fighter's likelihood of having a higher strength score, he is just better at that sort of thing. As for opening doors, the only time a rogue really gets to shine is when the door is too sturdy for the fighter to have any chance to just break it down. Which leaves the rogue more capable at exactly one type of thing: sneaking about*. Now, certainly, the rogue is better at that. But, exactly how does the rogue doing that benefit the party (most of the time)? It is not like the rogue can use that ability to confer any real benefits on the group. 

Sorry, but I am not with you. Currently, the math of the game is not sound. That bothers me.  

*Please note, when I say sneaking about I do not just mean using the sneak skill. I mean the various ways in which Skill Mastery can help a rogue move about in places that other characters cannot get to, be it via overcoming a hazard, or bluffing your way into an area.


 

Thanks for the replies. Honestly we like how Next is turning out so far, but the (sometimes heated) discussion about math and who should have more and who should have less was pretty much the reason I didn't join the discussions till now. I find it rather hard to draw any sort of meaningful interpretation of what people want. Fighters want more unique powers, rogues and clerics want more damage and wizards want better spells. But at the same time people complain that the monsters are too weak?!? I'm really happy I don't work for WotC... Smile
But your replies give me faith that Next isn't being overrun by math-hungry min/max gamers, and that actual roleplaying is still something people care about. So thank you for that.

And no, the wizard doesn't cheat.
Bravo, PedaGak! Your group is an inspiration.

Unfortunately, Wizards knows that books sell because they have content, which means creating much more rules and statistics than are strictly necessary to play the game. And then players are subconcously compelled to try to use all the rules appropriately - whether the rule is needed or not, or whether it really works or not. If it doesn't work, it's more likely to be hosueruled than simplified or dropped entirely. It's human nature.

The economic realities D&D must face directly contribute to over-emphasis of roll-play. Which is quite sad to me.

Long live the white box!
If you're letting him unleash "arcane fury" when he doesn't have any spells prepared to suit the situation, how is that not cheating?

What is he using, mechanically?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
If you're letting him unleash "arcane fury" when he doesn't have any spells prepared to suit the situation, how is that not cheating?

What is he using, mechanically?



"he always has a staff or a wand to unleash arcane fury." So he has a magic item. Or so I read the original post.


So, basically, you let the wizard cheat, because he describes things creatively?

That's fine, but you're not playing an RPG.



How is that "not playing an RPG"? It might not be the kind of RPG you'd like, but I could be perfectly happy in a game were the only rules was basically "say yes". Indeed lots of modern RPGs work more or less on that principle. I don't think it is a good fit for D&D (at least not as the default assumption), but RPG covers a lot more ground that D&D.

nice report OP!

I'm glad to see your players being creative and having fun....even IF they are at a mathematic disadvantage. Just goes to show that you don't always need to min/max to have an awesome time!

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So, basically, you let the wizard cheat, because he describes things creatively?

That's fine, but you're not playing an RPG.



How is that "not playing an RPG"? It might not be the kind of RPG you'd like, but I could be perfectly happy in a game were the only rules was basically "say yes". Indeed lots of modern RPGs work more or less on that principle. I don't think it is a good fit for D&D (at least not as the default assumption), but RPG covers a lot more ground that D&D.


What you're describing is freeform roleplaying.  Which is awesome.  But freeform roleplaying is not an RPG.

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition


So, basically, you let the wizard cheat, because he describes things creatively?

That's fine, but you're not playing an RPG.



How is that "not playing an RPG"? It might not be the kind of RPG you'd like, but I could be perfectly happy in a game were the only rules was basically "say yes". Indeed lots of modern RPGs work more or less on that principle. I don't think it is a good fit for D&D (at least not as the default assumption), but RPG covers a lot more ground that D&D.


What you're describing is freeform roleplaying.  Which is awesome.  But freeform roleplaying is not an RPG.


Do you not realize what the RP in RPG stands for? You just called it 'roleplaying' and then said it's not an 'RPG'. That doesn't make any sense. You make so many posts on this forum about how people are 'playing wrong', just because you don't agree with them.

If you prefer to play D&D 100% by the rulebook, that's fine. But many of us don't play that way. I, for one, never let the rules get in the way of a good game. If bending a rule or two makes the players happy and tells a good story, then that's what I'll do.

As I DM, I fudge rolls ALL of the time. Why? Because I consider myself the "Referee of Fun" in my games. Sometimes it's more cinematic to make a success into a failure, and vice versa. In doing so I am able to moderate the pace, lethality, and intensity of my games. Call it cheating if you want....but how can I cheat if the rules are mine own? It works for me and my players love it.

Sure, maybe you play differently. That's cool, if you prefer another method. But don't make some silly arguments like 'that's not how the game is supposed to be played'.

D&D is supposed to be played however you want to play it, for maximum awesome.


edit: typo

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

+1000 Ramzour

Yea, this is the thing: he never said there was something wrong with freeform roleplaying while playing an RPG. What he said is that freeform roleplaying is not an RPG. And he is right. An RPG is a set of game mechanics designed to be used to roleplay. Freeform roleplaying steps outside of those game mechanics. Now, freeform roleplaying can add a lot to the RPG experience. Some groups like to use more of it, some groups like to use less of it. But, the game needs to work, mathematically speaking, whether you use freeform roleplaying or not. Because, the thing is, everyone can freeform roleplay. Freeform roleplaying in no way, shape, or form, adds balance to a game. It in no way, shape, or form, fixes broken rules. It is a +X factor. If one class is worth Y, another class is worth Y-1, and you add +X to both, the Y-1 class is still inferior... while that might not influence how much fun some of you have, for the rest of us it is a death sentence to our ability to enjoy this game. No amount of saying “add +X” is going to make us enjoy the game more so long as that -1 exists. 

It is okay to play D&D extreme freeform, but it was not designed to do so. The game only allows for so much tolerance before the social contract and table guidelines need to be spelled out more and diverging the game away from its intention.

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!

Any time you fudge a die roll, make a house rule, make a quick judgement call on a ruling instead of using the book, allow a creative use of a spell, or deviate from any rule in the game.....you are not playing D&D by the book. I don't see a problem. And if doing so breaks your games, then by all means don't do that (or better yet, learn how to avoid the breakage).

I contend that this isn't freeform roleplaying. Freeform means without form, or rules in this case. So that only exists if you don't play by any of the rules. Breaking or bending a few rules is not completely freeform. The D&D rules provide a structure (i.e. rules) for which you can build your own game upon. If I wanted to play a Star Wars adventure using D&D rules, I could (and i have). It would require you to change a few things around, but you're still playing the D&D RPG at its core. Also, in my games I usually ignore the memorization part of vancian casting and let my players pick their spells on the fly (still resticted by # of spell slots, of course). My players are more creative with their spells as a result and everyone has fun. But I'm still playing the D&D RPG.


1) You can't call something 'freeform roleplaying' and then deny that it's a roleplaying game. If you're roleplaying and playing a game, then you're playing a roleplaying game.

2) Numbers and math are great. I'm a physicist IRL and, thus, I have an immense respect for mathematics. However, D&D is defined by more than just numbers. Sure, the numbers are the most obvious rules in the book, but there are PLENTY of rules that don't contain numbers at all. There is
nothing wrong with playing a game that doesn't adhere to strict formulas.

3) I agree that the rules as published should be as coherent and balanced as reasonably possible. They are made to be 100% playable without any deviation. If you do choose to deviate from the rules, you do so at your own risk. Nothing wrong with a calculated risk, though.

4) If you disagree with what I said, then we obviously perceive the D&D RPG differently....but don't, then, presume to tell ME how to play MY game.

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

But how do you feel about accounting for roleplay? Since the devs state that Next should be about getting back to the story rather than overly complex rules, is it okay that the classes aren't equal in math and combat, as long as the class has its own feel and part to play in the story?



I'll go further than that: I'll say that the classes SHOULDN'T be equal in combat. Combat is what the fighter does - it's his speciality, and he should be the best at it in a straight up fight. Period. If you make everyone the equal of the fighter in combat, where does that leave the fighter? A thief who can't stealth, that's what. D&D is about more than combat, and yes there is a lot of combat (hence why classes shouldn't all suck at it), but the fighter NEEDS to be the best class at combat, otherwise there's no point having it as an available class.

Your performance in combat depends on how you play to your strengths (and dice of course). The rogue should NOT be able to square up to the fighter, because he's "so agile that he can ninja-flip out of the way and doesn't need armour!!11!". He should be forced to run and hide somewhere, and try to get the drop on the fighter and end the fight quickly - and if he squares up to the fighter then that should result in a very dead rogue, just like if the fighter follows him into the dark labyrinth full of traps then that should result in a dead fighter.

But people complain that the rogue isn't as good as the fighter in combat. They complain that the fighter is "boring" because he doesn't have a list of special moves, or must do nothing during the roleplaying encounters (or so people tell me). They complain that crossbows take a turn to reload, or that paladins have to be lawful, or that rogues can't tank, or that wizards have to learn spells, or that monks can't have a better AC than armoured knights...I could go on, but I won't.

Someone (I can't remember who/where) had a signature that said something like "old enough to remember when D&D challenged the players, not the characters". I would like to see that style of play come back. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tiny minority - the last of a dying breed that wants a roleplaying game and not a mini-wargame.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
But how do you feel about accounting for roleplay? Since the devs state that Next should be about getting back to the story rather than overly complex rules, is it okay that the classes aren't equal in math and combat, as long as the class has its own feel and part to play in the story?



I'll go further than that: I'll say that the classes SHOULDN'T be equal in combat. Combat is what the fighter does - it's his speciality, and he should be the best at it in a straight up fight. Period. If you make everyone the equal of the fighter in combat, where does that leave the fighter? A thief who can't stealth, that's what. D&D is about more than combat, and yes there is a lot of combat (hence why classes shouldn't all suck at it), but the fighter NEEDS to be the best class at combat, otherwise there's no point having it as an available class.

Your performance in combat depends on how you play to your strengths (and dice of course). The rogue should NOT be able to square up to the fighter, because he's "so agile that he can ninja-flip out of the way and doesn't need armour!!11!". He should be forced to run and hide somewhere, and try to get the drop on the fighter and end the fight quickly - and if he squares up to the fighter then that should result in a very dead rogue, just like if the fighter follows him into the dark labyrinth full of traps then that should result in a dead fighter.

But people complain that the rogue isn't as good as the fighter in combat. They complain that the fighter is "boring" because he doesn't have a list of special moves, or must do nothing during the roleplaying encounters (or so people tell me). They complain that crossbows take a turn to reload, or that paladins have to be lawful, or that rogues can't tank, or that wizards have to learn spells, or that monks can't have a better AC than armoured knights...I could go on, but I won't.

Someone (I can't remember who/where) had a signature that said something like "old enough to remember when D&D challenged the players, not the characters". I would like to see that style of play come back. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tiny minority - the last of a dying breed that wants a roleplaying game and not a mini-wargame.

+1 !!!

Please introduce yourself to the new D&D 5e forums in this very friendly thread started by Pukunui!

 

Make 5e Saving Throws better using Ramzour's Six Ability Save System!

 

Giving classes iconic abilities that don't break the game: Ramzour's Class Defining Ability system.

Rules for a simple non-XP based leveling up system, using the Proficiency Bonus

 

+10 !!!
+10 !!!

+100

really. RPG is not doing DPS...

I like creative wizards, who use their cantrips or rogues who use stones to distract an enemy just for some seconds so the fighter has an edge.

That is not freeform, but using common sense.

It is not common sense, that you should not be able to contribute in different ways than DPS in combat. Not every character should be a damage king.

 
It's less about having everyone be combat beast and more about messing with the ruleset or ignoring large swathes of rules and everyone not having enough resources to roleplay successfully.

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!

Minus an infinite quantity. Not only that, but that post really irritates me. I find it to be dishonest. For the most part, it seems to hide the actual position of those who want something called “balance” behind a strawman position that completely mischaracterises what I feel like most of us are asking for…


But how do you feel about accounting for roleplay? Since the devs state that Next should be about getting back to the story rather than overly complex rules, is it okay that the classes aren't equal in math and combat, as long as the class has its own feel and part to play in the story?

 

I'll go further than that: I'll say that the classes SHOULDN'T be equal in combat. Combat is what the fighter does - it's his speciality, and he should be the best at it in a straight up fight. Period. If you make everyone the equal of the fighter in combat, where does that leave the fighter? A thief who can't stealth, that's what. D&D is about more than combat, and yes there is a lot of combat (hence why classes shouldn't all suck at it), but the fighter NEEDS to be the best class at combat, otherwise there's no point having it as an available class.


I completely disagree with the post you quoted. You see, like I said, freeform roleplay exists outside the rules and affects everyone equally. But, your response doesn’t really have anything to do with what you quoted. Who, exactly, said that all the classes should be equal in combat? I mean, there are some posters that want that. But the majority of us, as in the majority of us who want a balanced game, are not asking for that. You see, if everyone is equal in combat than everyone must be equal at everything else. Otherwise the game won’t be balanced. And many of us, who do want a balanced game, don’t want everyone to be equal at every area of the game. As you said, D&D is about more than combat. That, however, doesn’t mean that the game is currently well balanced. It isn’t. The rogue class, specifically, is awful.


Your performance in combat depends on how you play to your strengths (and dice of course). The rogue should NOT be able to square up to the fighter, because he's "so agile that he can ninja-flip out of the way and doesn't need armour!!11!". He should be forced to run and hide somewhere, and try to get the drop on the fighter and end the fight quickly - and if he squares up to the fighter then that should result in a very dead rogue, just like if the fighter follows him into the dark labyrinth full of traps then that should result in a dead fighter.


Agreed. Your performance in combat should depend on how you play to your strengths. And no, a rogue should not just be a fighter (statistically speaking) but with different justifications. That would be boring. I agree with everything you just wrote. Until, of course, I read on and see what you are using this paragraph to justify with your next few paragraphs.

But people complain that the rogue isn't as good as the fighter in combat.


No they don’t. People complain that the rogue is nothing but an inferior fighter. As in, every ability in combat is mechanically the same but worse. That is not quite the same thing. The very same people who are complaining about the rogue are also saying that they want the fighter to have the best DPR.


They complain that the fighter is "boring" because he doesn't have a list of special moves, or must do nothing during the roleplaying encounters (or so people tell me).


No, they complained. Most people have been appeased via maneuvers. And, nothing about a fighter being the best in up front combat means that a fighter should have no mechanical way to represent their abilities except for a basic attack roll. What is more, if you give the fighter zero mechanics that allow him to interact with out of combat encounters, then he doesn’t have any way of contributing to those encounters—though, mighty exertion has given the fighter an extremely potent out of combat utility power; of course, everyone can contribute when it comes to roleplaying, because roleplaying isn’t something that directly involves mechanics at all…


They complain that crossbows take a turn to reload, or that paladins have to be lawful, or that rogues can't tank, or that wizards have to learn spells, or that monks can't have a better AC than armoured knights...I could go on, but I won't.


Who honestly complained about these things? I have not seen any posts on the forums complaining about such things. I think you are seriously mischaracterizing what people have complained about…

Someone (I can't remember who/where) had a signature that said something like "old enough to remember when D&D challenged the players, not the characters". I would like to see that style of play come back. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tiny minority - the last of a dying breed that wants a roleplaying game and not a mini-wargame.


I have no idea what this sentence even means. Maybe, if you explain a little, I will. I have this sneaking suspicion, however, that it amounts to little more than a complaint that gamers these days are smart enough to understand what the mechanics of a game statistically mean, approach games with more than a holistic judgement of the rules based on baseless subjective impression, and who want the game to work, mechanically speaking, out of the box, before the freeform roleplaying gets added in. 

+10 !!!

+100

really. RPG is not doing DPS...


x10
Cyber Dave why can't you just accept the fact that some people see the game differently ? You do have a point of view but it doesn't mean that you are right. People not sharing your point of biew are not idiots, they just see it differently, it doesn't mean they are right either, they have different expectations maybe. Hammering math formula after math formula will never mean you are right. Please do let people give they point of view without jumping at their throats.

I do accept that people want different things from the game. For example, some people like vancien magic and some people don't. Aesthetic preferences do not always match up. But, that was not the problem with his post. The problem with his post is that he makes claims about what other people want that does not mesh with what those people have actually expressed; he claims he wants certain things from the game (like rogues who can sneak up on a fighter, get the jump on him, and quickly end the fight) when the game provides no mechanical method of doing those things, and then denigrates other people for complaining that the game provides no mechanical method of doing those things; and, his conclusion is wishy-washy and does more to hide the actual concrete mechanics that he wants from the game than express them.

When the claims you are making about what other people want doesn't mesh with what they have actually expressed that they want, when what you are claiming you want is not what the game mathematically provides, you are wrong. End of story. No amount of “different perspective,” or different aesthetic preference, changes that. 




I was not talking specifically about this thread, more about all the threads where I've seen you jumping at people that are Oh so so wrong for not thinking the way you do. Once again you are right, there is no point in discussing with you, you won't listen to people arguments. Have it your way. Yet I and others will play the game differently from you and that won't make us wrong, just different. I won't try to discuss anything with you anymore, it's pointless. Enjoy your maths and your cleverness.

I don't disagree with people when they say things like "I prefer vancien magic." I don't discuss aesthetic preferences. There is no point. I only post when concrete objective topics are being discussed. In those cases I make concrete objective observations, and post conclusions based on those observations. If someone is wrong I tell them so; for someone to be "wrong" they must make a claim that is objectively untrue (for example, they must do something like claim that the monk’s flurry of blows deals less damage, and is less effective, than Sneak Attack or Deadly Strike). 

Meanwhile, you are free to play the game in any way that you enjoy! I hope that you do! I am not looking to change the way you play the game. I am here only to provide feedback on the game and objective data as to why my feedback is what it is. I want to ensure that the final product is a game that I can also play the way I play the game, that is all.


If my ability to distinguish between objective and subjective data, to provide math to back up my claims, and to examine the close details offends you I am quite sorry. But I don’t plan to stop doing what I am doing. To do that would be to give up my stake in this game’s future. I am happy to listen to other people’s arguments. But, when they are illogical, I see no reason to do anything other than call them out for what they are: illogical. That is what just happened in this thread. 

Wow, two different debates to get in.

Free-Form vs RPG

I think the most important thing to look at here is where the debate started. It started with a very vague statement about what the wizard in this group was doing. It is possible to read the post and wonder if the wizard is being allowed to cast spells when he has no spell slots left, as Mand12 wondered. It is also possible to read that and wonder what is meant by "creative use". Is "creative" just a way of saying spells are being used in ways that they shouldn't or just in very clever ways. If Mage hand is being used to attack, that isn't creative that's breaking the rules.

If you are allowing a wizard to ignore spell slot limits, or use spells in ways that only barely sort of possibly work, then you have moved to ignoring the rules. If you are completely disregarding the rules you have moved to a free-form style and out of the rules-based RPG. This does not mean one is better than the other, but you aren't going to say you are still playing the game, which means by the rules, if you allow the rogue to break a steel chain with a well-thrown pebble, which drops a chandilier on the balcony, which collapses the balcony on top of the enemies killing them all instantly and somehow avoiding the fighter. That is free-form role-playing, not a role-playing game.

Classes, Combat, and opinions:

I agree with CyberDave that some of what Ranger-of-Corymyr stated is a mischaracterization of what people have said. Most people agree the fighter should be king of damage, but a lot of us also see rogue is too far down the list to be able to contribute in a unique way. This does not, and I have said this so many times to so many people, mean that we want the rogue exactly equal or better than the fighter overall. That is a false statement. We want the rogue better than he is. As it stands Skill Mastery is breaks bounded accuracy and needs changed, the rogue has no unique combat abilities and deals too little damage overall, and the fact that they are the only ones capable of picking locks and disabling devices is bad game design, i'd defend these points in this post, but it is getting kind of long so I'll keep moving.

I have noticed CyberDave to get a little hot under the collar. This is only when someone is factually wrong though and refuses to admit to it. Like saying sneak attack is better than deadly strike, then insisting this is true in spite of obvious and mounting evidence to the contrary. Stating 5e is going back to 3.X and abadoning everything from 4e because 4e was a financial failure. Despite the fact the developers have specificlally stated this will be an edition for all people. It is easy to get frustrated with people when you end up arguing past them instead of with them and you are arguing facts that can be backed up and they are arguing what they perceive to be true despite having no evidence.

Also, Ranger of Corymyr, this:

""old enough to remember when D&D challenged the players, not the characters". I would like to see that style of play come back. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tiny minority - the last of a dying breed that wants a roleplaying game and not a mini-wargame. "

 Is a bit insulting. Just because people can recognize that the combat aspect of the game is inbalanced, and that by it's very nature is the most rules heavy, does not mean we want a war game with no role-playing. Us younger players are not like how I have seen a lot of older players characterizing us. We do not want a simple easy game with no complexity. We do not want a grind-fest with no storytelling or depth. We do not want "MOAR LOOTZ AND KILLINGZ STUFFS" instead of deep engaging play. I know you didn't say all this, I'm frustrated with a large swath of various older gamers who seem to think anyone who liked 4e or was born after 1990 doesn't have the capacity for appreciating a deep and well-thought out campaign story, and suggesting that the game is no longer a challenging expeirence for "true" DnD players...
While I agree, that some basic balance should be there, in combat and out of combat, I specifically referred to the post, that said about:

"If the Wizard uses spells that don´t deel damage to win a fight, and instead the player uses clever application of his non damage spells, that means he is cheating"

which could be extended to:

"If the rogue uses other abilities than straight dps from sneak attack, like setting up traps, or lure people away, that is cheating."

I don´t think that is free form RPG even. I guess, the rogue´s skill mastery or wizard cantrips are really useful to overcome encounters without dealing a single point of damage.

Which does not change the fact, that the current iteration of the rogue really feels awful, while the version before was quite awesome.

So my hopes for the next rules iteration are:

- fighters stay on track. Gaining parry and opportunity attacks* as special abilities.
- rogue is reverted to packet 2 and improved from there: skill mastery changed to ability mastery... some skill/acrobatics/deceit/sneak attack maneuvers added depending on scheme.
- cleric and wizards will be ok if stat bonus removed from damage, as their 0-level spells will do meaningful damage compared to the monster hp and damage of fighters.

Which does not change the fact, that the current iteration of the rogue really feels awful, while the version before was quite awesome.

I've got to say, I had the exact reverse reaction. The rogue version before felt really awful and and the current one is a lot more awesome. The old attack every other round really blew. I can't tell you how happy I was that the rogue could now actually do something EVERY round. They DO need something extra, as they don't seem to be quite up to the level of the other classes but it's a VAST improvement over the old rogue IMO.


Which does not change the fact, that the current iteration of the rogue really feels awful, while the version before was quite awesome.

I've got to say, I had the exact reverse reaction. The rogue version before felt really awful and and the current one is a lot more awesome. The old attack every other round really blew. I can't tell you how happy I was that the rogue could now actually do something EVERY round. They DO need something extra, as they don't seem to be quite up to the level of the other classes but it's a VAST improvement over the old rogue IMO.




The complaint with the current rogue is they that are so good at skill that no-one else should ever attempt them (And the fighter is soo good at fighting that eeryone else should sit back, kill the trash enemies, and ty not to die). Many don't like one class to be so glaringly obliviously better than another that exteme spotlighting occurs. Then it gets to the point where it is harder to see you contibution as mattering.

There is a large division between Spotlight play and what I call Band play. And there are light and extreme versions of each.

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!

Good gravy.  I've been a lurker for some time, but I feel I have to chime in on this subject, because I think some people are missing the points that many are trying to get at, and I'm hoping to clarify as best I can.

Now, I read somewhere that, for the most part, the devs seem to marginalize the forums posts, seeing them as a vocal minority.  They take them into account, but to a lesser extent than they take the feedback forms.  I would argue that the forums are a good sampling of the player population, and because of the interaction that we as players and groups get to have, it makes it more important to pay attention to the forums.  I have seen all kinds of differing views and discussions that are far more insightful and useful than a lousy form with character limits =P.
 
So, now that I've said my peace there, allow me to get to the meat of my post.  I have been playing since 2e.  I've played every edition since then, and even playtested this edition, so I feel like I come from some amount of expertise in this.

One thing I have seen here is the discussion between freeform and mechanical play.  Let me just say, I am completely for freeform play.  I would love to do all that creative and cool stuff, and I hope they keep most of what they currently have intact.  It's a boon to give players freedom to do what they want with what limited resources they have, rather than dictating every tiny aspect of a game.

In the groups I play, combat is an enormous part, sometimes spending 2/3 or an entire session in one or two combats.  That's just how we play, and those are the kinds of campaigns we run.  And so, it is important that combat be well-defined in terms of the mechanics to not only make things go a bit smoother (less rules-lawyering and arguments), but to also provide guidelines so that everyone can have equal amounts of fun.
 
If the mechanics are not there, especially for combat, then you will have immense disparity between how groups play.  That isn't a bad thing necessarily, but consider the scenario the OP mentioned where the rogue climbs an owlbear and stabs out its eyes.  That's awesome, and as a rogue enthusiast myself, that is something I would do.  However, while the OP as a DM says, "there's nothing in the rules that says you CAN'T do that, so go ahead," other DMs will say, "there's nothing in the rules that says you CAN do that, so, no."  So, if you use the OP as a DM, the rogue can do so many cool things.  If you use the other DM, the rogue is pretty awful in combat, because there is nothing mechanical that they can do that make them unique or interesting in combat.

It all comes down to how freeform the DM is, as an individual.  Do they adhere to the rules like it's a video game?  Or are they more freeform and imaginative?  That is the problem I have with some of the things I've seen so far - the mechanics are missing, and it is too dependent on DMs allowing that level of freeform roleplaying (or rule fudging or what have you).

So, when it comes to the rogue (and I use it as an example because I'm following it closely and I play them all the time), there is nothing in the rules, mechanically, that makes the rogue interesting in combat.  Even ignoring the damage argument (which I agree with Cyber Dave on), the rogue has junk for in-combat maneuvers and capabilities.  Nothing that, mechanically, give the rogue the ability to cause blindness, disadvantage, give advantage, or anything.  Even most of the tricky combat maneuvers like trip, disarm, and the like are strength-based, which usually (not always) discounts the rogue.

Most people are just saying that they want the mechanics to be there.  Nobody is disputing the rogue isn't the god of out-of-combat.  In fact, many rogue-enthusiasts are advocating lessening that role a bit, as long as we get to have something, mechanically, interesting in combat.  

In all of this, I'm merely suggesting that Wizards, in order to capture the largest consumer-base, should consider adding the mechanics to the system for the sake of those who play with a group that is dependent on mechanics and rules.  They can even attempt to seperate the mechanics from the flavor, to allow for both freeform and mechanic-based playstyles.  This is what I want to see.  It still allows for the freeform, but it also has underlying mechanics for those that want (or need) it.
But how do you feel about accounting for roleplay? Since the devs state that Next should be about getting back to the story rather than overly complex rules, is it okay that the classes aren't equal in math and combat, as long as the class has its own feel and part to play in the story?



I'll go further than that: I'll say that the classes SHOULDN'T be equal in combat. Combat is what the fighter does - it's his speciality, and he should be the best at it in a straight up fight. Period. If you make everyone the equal of the fighter in combat, where does that leave the fighter? A thief who can't stealth, that's what. D&D is about more than combat, and yes there is a lot of combat (hence why classes shouldn't all suck at it), but the fighter NEEDS to be the best class at combat, otherwise there's no point having it as an available class.

Your performance in combat depends on how you play to your strengths (and dice of course). The rogue should NOT be able to square up to the fighter, because he's "so agile that he can ninja-flip out of the way and doesn't need armour!!11!". He should be forced to run and hide somewhere, and try to get the drop on the fighter and end the fight quickly - and if he squares up to the fighter then that should result in a very dead rogue, just like if the fighter follows him into the dark labyrinth full of traps then that should result in a dead fighter.

But people complain that the rogue isn't as good as the fighter in combat. They complain that the fighter is "boring" because he doesn't have a list of special moves, or must do nothing during the roleplaying encounters (or so people tell me). They complain that crossbows take a turn to reload, or that paladins have to be lawful, or that rogues can't tank, or that wizards have to learn spells, or that monks can't have a better AC than armoured knights...I could go on, but I won't.

Someone (I can't remember who/where) had a signature that said something like "old enough to remember when D&D challenged the players, not the characters". I would like to see that style of play come back. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a tiny minority - the last of a dying breed that wants a roleplaying game and not a mini-wargame.



+1.  Or more if that's an option.  One of the best posts imo I've seen in this forum.

1) You can't call something 'freeform roleplaying' and then deny that it's a roleplaying game. If you're roleplaying and playing a game, then you're playing a roleplaying game.


I'm not denying that you're roleplaying, I'm denying that you're playing a game.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
There is a difference between a Structured RPG and a Freeform RPG.

D&D is traditional a Structured RPG with many FreeForm elements depending on the group.

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!

As CyberDave has tried to explain, the issue comes down to this: freeform improvisation can NOT act as a balance between classes since every class can improvise. If anything, it would exacerabate the imbalance because the more powerful classes would be better at improvising. The only way it could work is if you only let the weaker classes improvise.

So, no, each class having its own distinct feel and role in the narrative is not enough.
As CyberDave has tried to explain, the issue comes down to this: freeform improvisation can NOT act as a balance between classes since every class can improvise. If anything, it would exacerabate the imbalance because the more powerful classes would be better at improvising. The only way it could work is if you only let the weaker classes improvise.

So, no, each class having its own distinct feel and role in the narrative is not enough.



Yup...it drops out of the equation. In 4e I very much allow improvisation in every class only rituals are mostly locked in and the descriptions of those are sometimes a bit open anyway.  
  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."

 



So, basically, you let the wizard cheat, because he describes things creatively?

That's fine, but you're not playing an RPG.



How is that "not playing an RPG"? It might not be the kind of RPG you'd like, but I could be perfectly happy in a game were the only rules was basically "say yes". Indeed lots of modern RPGs work more or less on that principle. I don't think it is a good fit for D&D (at least not as the default assumption), but RPG covers a lot more ground that D&D.


What you're describing is freeform roleplaying.  Which is awesome.  But freeform roleplaying is not an RPG.




So if somebody says "I want to shoot a flame arrow at the chandelier fitting and try to drop the chandelier on the troll!" you'll say "uh...no, that isn't in the rules, so you can't do it."?

The rulebook can't possible envisage every single scenario that a player might want to try, so saying that they're limited to doing things that are explicitly stated in the rules is a bit unfair. One clever player will always think of something that the rulebook hasn't, and a GM will have to find a way in which that task can be performed.

Remember that the GM and the players aren't in direct competition. The GM is helping the players have fun, so if a GM won't let them do anything that isn't in the rulebook, he may find himself without players before long.

Us younger players are not like how I have seen a lot of older players characterizing us. We do not want a simple easy game with no complexity. We do not want a grind-fest with no storytelling or depth. We do not want "MOAR LOOTZ AND KILLINGZ STUFFS" instead of deep engaging play.



Well I'm sorry but from what I read here, it seems like there are people who want exactly that. I never said that was true of all 4th edition fans, but it certainly seems to be true of a lot of people on this forum. Again, I'm sorry if that offends people, but that's how it sounds to me.

I very strongly believe that heroism and awesomeness need to be earned, and shouldn't just be handed to you because you make the decision to play the game. That's like saying "I decided to become a Doctor, so I should be able to earn a Doctor's salary before I've even gone to University! What do you mean I have to study first? I'm supposed to be a Doctor, darn it!!" Well, no. You're not. Not yet anyway.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!