My way is better and here's why...

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Good topic title, eh?

I've been accused of being purposefully contrary, purposefully misleading and even outright obtuse. Fair enough. I've also been called arrogant and incendiary...and that just makes me bristle with excitement.

Let's get down to brass tacks...

THREAD PURPOSE: To create a tide of discussion based on mechanical and stylistic options in Dungeons & Dragons.

Expect to have your ideas challenged. If you can't defend your idea or point don't bother to put it forth. No more empty feel good phrases or sophistry...and most importantly, no crying over hurt feelings. Let's all be mature...and that means reacting maturely to honest criticism.

I'm going to start off by revealing a bit about my own game and a MAJOR change I've instituted in it and why I do it...

My players don't fully level past Level 12. In fact, in the game setting NPCs do not fully level past Level 12.

Now, I run Pathfinder at the moment, but the intent behind it is sound and here is why...

Steady (or even increasing) growth in power is detrimental to campaign settings and lead to the pitfalls several editions have suffered. It also heavily damages a DMs ability to present anything but "balanced" encounters, especially when done with things like Random Encounter Charts and the like.

I think this is a design failing that the designers themselves have dropped the ball on.

To clarify how things work in my game so we can all be on the same page, when a player achieves levels past 12 they do not gain a full Hit Die. Instead they gain half the maximum of the HD of the class they gained a level in with no bonus from statistical modifiers. Skills are treated in the same way. The character does not gain attack bonus or new spell levels (though they may still gain more spells per day) or save bonuses. They still gain their Feats, Stat bonuses and Class Abilities, however.

This has been very advantageous for world building from a DM stand-point because it means the difference between a level 10 NPC and a level 20 NPC is noticeable & pronounced, but not ludicrous. In essence, it closes the gap from "lowest" to "highest" in the setting. This similarly prevents the "level zoo" phenomenon where some parts of the world might have monsters that makes monsters in another part of the world look like hamsters (Final Fantasy syndrome). It lends internal consistency to the world.

An interesting effect is that it also empowers the players when dealing with the world because at whatever level they might be they know that the world is dangerous but not absurdly so. Instead of creating "fear" of the world, it creates respect for it just as the players respect their own ability to interact with and influence it. Players seem far more willing to indulge in their agency when they know that the world doesn't scale like Dragon Ball Z (though I do love Toriyama's work).

I also love that it eliminates the Forgotten Realms syndrome where there are high & epic-level PCs all-about mucking around with things OR not doing anything particular at all. Having already statted some of the highest level warriors and mages in the setting it is refreshing to see how "mortal" they are even if their level pegs them at 17 or 19 or what-have-you. Essentially, mortal beings cap out at a certain level of power or potency and, from there, they gain in versatility, talent and knowledge.

I think that's enough explanation of my approach to higher levels...there's a bit more to it, of course, but there's enough here to discuss, especially since I am looking to see if holes can be poked in it. On the flipside, I'd also love to see how other DMs approach various design or style hobgoblins in their own games and I'm sure it would be helpful for the community to hear why those approaches are best.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I cannot debate you on this point, as much as I'm sure you would like it.  I'm DMing 4e.  I've made several massive changes in an attempt to still challenge my PCs (most notably using these damage expressions dmg42.blogspot.com/2012/02/boot-on-face-...).  This helped make everything challenging when they started Paragon, but as they approach epic tier, they are starting to wipe the floor with my monsters again. 

Most of my options are unpalatable (to me). 
-I could throw tons of riders on enemy attacks in an effort to keep them from slaughtering everything too quickly.  No one outright complains if they are stunned for two turns, but with the already glacial pace of combat in 4e, this only serves to remove them from the excitement of the game.  Having an enemy bloody you with a single attack is exciting, but having to skip 2 turns is not. 
-I could buff up enemy damage/+hit even more, but enemies already come close to bursting down single PCs before anyone can react, and I think buffing them any more would be unfair.
-I could increase enemy defenses and hp, which would make already long combat even longer, and I've put in a ton of effort to do the opposite (make combat shorter).   Also, high defenses = boring (oh gee, I missed again, how fun).
-I could also add more house rules to limit the power of the PCs (limit of one daily attack power instead of 3, for example), but this seems like a particularly bad band-aid fix: "you guys are too strong, so I'm taking away all your magic powers".  That would be pretty lame.

I have only come up with two possible options.  One is exactly your fix: a lower level cap (and a slower pace of leveling to compensate).  This seems ideal to me, since lower levels are well-balanced, and would require a minimum of house rules to keep things exciting.  That boat has already sailed in my current campaign since they are now sitting at level 17, but I may use it in a future campaign. 

The other one, which I'm in the process of implementing, is to start pasting together multiple encounters into one fight (multi-phase fights, to prevent the PCs from being overwhelmed by 20 monsters at once).  Combat will get really long, but I will compensate by making each fight exciting, and having less fights total.  Extending the length of combat is the only way I have found that I can consistently challenge the PCs in a way that remains fun.

After I have implemented my last idea for a while, I may be in a position to argue that this way is better, but it's all theoretical at this point.
Oh ho, you're a bad man Yagamifire.
I've deleted some content here due to CoC violations - http://company.wizards.com/conduct - via baiting.

Let's keep it civil. 
4th post, surprised it took that long.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein

My players don't fully level past Level 12. In fact, in the game setting NPCs do not fully level past Level 12.


If your players are happy with that, fine.  However some games are designed to let the players actually get thier cookies at higher levels.  I imagine many of the players would be very frustrated in games where they didn't get the full benefit of their PP 16 feature or similar.    It also messes with game math, but if you want to manually readjust game math go ahead.


Steady (or even increasing) growth in power is detrimental to campaign settings and lead to the pitfalls several editions have suffered. It also heavily damages a DMs ability to present anything but "balanced" encounters, especially when done with things like Random Encounter Charts and the like.



The answer here would be "don't do random encounters".  I've never had a game that I have run that has benefited from truly random encounters.  If the encounter isn't truly random, you can then adjust it.  You have unlimited ability to deal with your player's limited (if very strong) power.  Now, this is from a 4e standpoint where that might be more true than it was in earlier editions, but the power of the PC is great but not infinite.  The power of the world is only as finite as you make it.


I think this is a design failing that the designers themselves have dropped the ball on.


I cannot speak for PF's design.  If this same discussion was happening in 4e I would say it is a failing of the DM's encounter design.  This doesn't put the burdern exclusively on the DM's shoulders but its also not only on the game's shoulders.  From Heroic to Epic the tools exist to challenge your players.


This has been very advantageous for world building from a DM stand-point because it means the difference between a level 10 NPC and a level 20 NPC is noticeable & pronounced, but not ludicrous. In essence, it closes the gap from "lowest" to "highest" in the setting. This similarly prevents the "level zoo" phenomenon where some parts of the world might have monsters that makes monsters in another part of the world look like hamsters (Final Fantasy syndrome). It lends internal consistency to the world.


At least in 4e the Final Fantasy problem is helped to a certain extent by where the players are.  In heroic they are in a region fighting the good fight.  Things can challenge them, but most of the things are fantasy hazards not centuries old blights on the land.  By the end of heroic they are starting to see those blights and be able to deal with them / plan to deal with them.  In paragon they become the top dogs in the mortal world.  Normal problems (goblins) aren't an issue anymore and they may still encounter them but they are just a line in the travel rather than an actual threat.  Paragon characters fight legendary problems in the world.  By the end of paragon the characters are approaching godhood and may need to venture away from the world in order to be challenged (Or maybe some BBEG will wreck everyone's **** by bringing the pain to the world) but it is understood that epic level characters are playing on a different playing field.  I've never had an issue with internal consistency as long as you don't have "bored high level wizard complains about a problem 4 feet away he can easily deal with".

I could say some other stuff about how this is being proposed being a giant beacon for "please lock this thread" but its a little too obvious.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

If your players are happy with that, fine.  However some games are designed to let the players actually get thier cookies at higher levels.  I imagine many of the players would be very frustrated in games where they didn't get the full benefit of their PP 16 feature or similar.    It also messes with game math, but if you want to manually readjust game math go ahead.



I haven't found it to negatively impact the game math at all. How do you think it would? On the contrary, I've found it keeps the math far more manageable for the players and far more reasonable in general.

Also, keep in mind that the players do still get to get what they would get at high levels. They still get their class abilities. HP and Attack & Skill Bonuses don't just continually grow.

The answer here would be "don't do random encounters".  I've never had a game that I have run that has benefited from truly random encounters.  If the encounter isn't truly random, you can then adjust it.  You have unlimited ability to deal with your player's limited (if very strong) power.  Now, this is from a 4e standpoint where that might be more true than it was in earlier editions, but the power of the PC is great but not infinite.  The power of the world is only as finite as you make it.



I have no problem adjusting to player power. I am a better power gamer than anyone at my table, but that is not the point of the decision (to curb power). The decision was made to keep the immersion of the world as healthy as possible. It is almost akin to an eco-system decision.

As far as random encounters, I could do a whole thread about the importance of random encounters and how to work them into an excellent game (and indeed how to use them to improve an already excellent game).

I cannot speak for PF's design.  If this same discussion was happening in 4e I would say it is a failing of the DM's encounter design.  This doesn't put the burdern exclusively on the DM's shoulders but its also not only on the game's shoulders.  From Heroic to Epic the tools exist to challenge your players.



Again, this assumes I am speaking of challenging players...and I'm not. It is not the purpose of the change. The purpose is to close the gap between the lower levels and the higher levels so the gulf is not so wide both to improve the player experience (player impact can be strong at all levels) and to create a healthier world to run.

At least in 4e the Final Fantasy problem is helped to a certain extent by where the players are.  In heroic they are in a region fighting the good fight.  Things can challenge them, but most of the things are fantasy hazards not centuries old blights on the land.  By the end of heroic they are starting to see those blights and be able to deal with them / plan to deal with them.  In paragon they become the top dogs in the mortal world.  Normal problems (goblins) aren't an issue anymore and they may still encounter them but they are just a line in the travel rather than an actual threat.  Paragon characters fight legendary problems in the world.  By the end of paragon the characters are approaching godhood and may need to venture away from the world in order to be challenged (Or maybe some BBEG will wreck everyone's **** by bringing the pain to the world) but it is understood that epic level characters are playing on a different playing field.  I've never had an issue with internal consistency as long as you don't have "bored high level wizard complains about a problem 4 feet away he can easily deal with".

I could say some other stuff about how this is being proposed being a giant beacon for "please lock this thread" but its a little too obvious.



I think the "tiering" methodology is a band-aid to something warped (if not broken). By decreasing the power-gulf, the players are able to tackle the problems they want to tackle instead of worrying about being Heroic/Paragon/Epic or whatever. It seems an artificial measure, if you understand my meaning, and I often don't like that in design. It is inelegant.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I cannot debate you on this point, as much as I'm sure you would like it.  I'm DMing 4e.  I've made several massive changes in an attempt to still challenge my PCs (most notably using these damage expressions dmg42.blogspot.com/2012/02/boot-on-face-...).  This helped make everything challenging when they started Paragon, but as they approach epic tier, they are starting to wipe the floor with my monsters again. 



That is unfortunate that the math is not working for you. I have found that allowing combat to remain a primary source of challenge for players can wear thin and mechanically break down as written in both 3E and 4E. Have you considered transitioning the challenge portion of the game to something less combat oriented like maintaining kingdoms or navigating interplanar political situations where sometimes force is required? By the times characters reach very high level they usually have a HUGE backlog of allies, enemies & such...so having to deal with that can become a very fun challenge.

Most of my options are unpalatable (to me). 
-I could throw tons of riders on enemy attacks in an effort to keep them from slaughtering everything too quickly.  No one outright complains if they are stunned for two turns, but with the already glacial pace of combat in 4e, this only serves to remove them from the excitement of the game.  Having an enemy bloody you with a single attack is exciting, but having to skip 2 turns is not. 



Slowing the game down does seem a less than desirable option. Agreed, not good.

-I could buff up enemy damage/+hit even more, but enemies already come close to bursting down single PCs before anyone can react, and I think buffing them any more would be unfair.



This makes it into "rocket tag" yes? Which you want to avoid? If so, I'd agree...rocket tag is not much fun. Funny maybe...not fun.

-I could increase enemy defenses and hp, which would make already long combat even longer, and I've put in a ton of effort to do the opposite (make combat shorter).   Also, high defenses = boring (oh gee, I missed again, how fun).



I concur.

-I could also add more house rules to limit the power of the PCs (limit of one daily attack power instead of 3, for example), but this seems like a particularly bad band-aid fix: "you guys are too strong, so I'm taking away all your magic powers".  That would be pretty lame.



Aaaand agree again.

I have only come up with two possible options.  One is exactly your fix: a lower level cap (and a slower pace of leveling to compensate).  This seems ideal to me, since lower levels are well-balanced, and would require a minimum of house rules to keep things exciting.  That boat has already sailed in my current campaign since they are now sitting at level 17, but I may use it in a future campaign. 



One suggestion I always give DMs is to make sure your players get henchmen as minions. My players get a henchman at level 5 and then every 2 levels after that. Henchman are fanatically loyal and follow the players wishes. In combat with their leader, henchman only receive 1/5th the experience their leader gets...so its REALLY not a great idea for them to keep pal-ing around with their leader. This lets the players send off their henchman to do various tasks and is particularly important as they grow in power and influence as it gives them people they can rely on. It also means the players can effortlessly shift to playing a different character. In fact, from time to time, the entire group can shift over to playing as their henchman as basically secondary characters. Naturally, these characters are lower level so they get to enjoy those "sweet spots" as much as and whenever they want WITHOUT throwing away their other characters and what they've accomplished.

The other one, which I'm in the process of implementing, is to start pasting together multiple encounters into one fight (multi-phase fights, to prevent the PCs from being overwhelmed by 20 monsters at once).  Combat will get really long, but I will compensate by making each fight exciting, and having less fights total.  Extending the length of combat is the only way I have found that I can consistently challenge the PCs in a way that remains fun.

After I have implemented my last idea for a while, I may be in a position to argue that this way is better, but it's all theoretical at this point.



From what you've been saying it seems like combat is becoming increasingly your enemy. Even an ever-changing combat CAN become tedious as time drags on...also, at some point, it could seem artificial. That is not to say it isn't worth a try though because, as you stated, this is all theorycraft at work so it could work out well.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

How it would impact the game math:

Say in 4e the party was level 21 and came across an encounter.  In your system the "power gap" is now smaller between players of 12th and 21st level.  This means that the "power gap" of the monsters had better adjust as well or they are going to get crabhammered.  So you need to change it, and thats fine if you want to do it, but does mean you will have to change it.

About Random Encounters:

Assuming it didn't come with your normal side of derision, haughtiness and arrogance that might be a thread I would be interested in reading.  I don't agree with the position in general, but that doesn't mean it is bad for all or that it doesn't have something I can gain from it.

Challenging Players:

Part of it is challenging players, but when you talk about changing things in the world I sort of see where you are coming from.  Except for one major thing that I have found players who make it from low level to high level enjoy universally.  That is the increased impact on the world at large as they increase in potency.  At low levels the players effect a small area, as they grow the area gets bigger and bigger including other towns, cities, nations, continents and planes of existance.   I have found that this gives the players a better grasp of scale and lets them really feel like the world is healthier and fuller for knowing the scale of things.

Tier:
Its a rough explanation yes.  I wouldn't actually use those terms in game unless talking about meta-issues like "Paragon Paths".

I guess what it comes down to as you seeing the power gulf as a problem and I don't see it as an issue.  I saw it as a problem when certain things were useless at low level and gods at high level (wizards) but as a group you can tailor the adventure to be useful and relevant at all levels.  What part of it makes it broken and in need of changing? 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
My way is better...

for my players and me.

I know what I like, and I know what they like.

They eagerly come back week after week to continue the journey.

I must be doing something right.

'Nuff said.
My way is better...

for my players and me.

I know what I like, and I know what they like.

They eagerly come back week after week to continue the journey.

I must be doing something right.

'Nuff said.



'cept for the last two lines I kinda wish everyone enjoyed this.  It would be nice if we changed the last two lines to:

"This is how my player's heroes fight,
I'll say what I can so you can steal any ideas you like for your own games."

Cause, you know, this forum should be about improving the hobby for everyone instead of standing on a soapbox and screaming "My way is the only way". 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
But, but, but the soap-box sellers have to make a living too!!
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
But, but, but the soap-box sellers have to make a living too!!



YL wouldn't be buying his anyway.  All his boxes are randomly generated.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
My way is better...

for my players and me.

I know what I like, and I know what they like.

They eagerly come back week after week to continue the journey.

I must be doing something right.

'Nuff said.



'cept for the last two lines I kinda wish everyone enjoyed this.  It would be nice if we changed the last two lines to:

"This is how my player's heroes fight,
I'll say what I can so you can steal any ideas you like for your own games."

Cause, you know, this forum should be about improving the hobby for everyone instead of standing on a soapbox and screaming "My way is the only way". 



Regarding the last two lines, I think your way is the right way.  (see what I did there?).   Seriously, your point is well-taken.

For many years, when I DM'd, I would ask myself after a game session, "How did I do?"   But it's difficult to judge yourself objectively.    I finally stopped wringing my hands over that question when I realized that if they kept coming back, I had to be doing something right.

I should've taken your approach and written it that way, as I think that's good advice for all DM's out there.   So, to any DM's out there; feel free to ask your players what they like, but if they keep coming back, your way is the right way.


Nothing wrong with what YagamiFire is doing. It's just personal preference. What makes a certain play-style "better"? "Better" should equate to "the most fun a group has when playing that style". That's it.

I skimp my players on XP so they progress slower, but I don't find the level progression itself to be a problem.

YagamiFire commented on some areas of the world having monsters that look at lower-level monsters are hamsters. I'd say: So what? It's only a problem if you want a world where all the monsters are along a similar power-base. It's not a flaw in the system. Even in real-life there's a vast difference in skill regarding almost anything; olympic swimmers are almost super-human compared to your local high-school swim team. And D&D is a world where extra-planar creatures and gods exist, so it makes even more sense in that regard.
Also I feel much safer in a small town in Ohio (Heroic level) as compared to downtown LA (Paragon Level).  And I feel much safer in LA than I would in the middle of the australian outback (Epic Level).
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Good topic title, eh?

I've been accused of being purposefully contrary, purposefully misleading and even outright obtuse. Fair enough. I've also been called arrogant and incendiary...and that just makes me bristle with excitement.

Let's get down to brass tacks...

THREAD PURPOSE: To create a tide of discussion based on mechanical and stylistic options in Dungeons & Dragons.

Expect to have your ideas challenged. If you can't defend your idea or point don't bother to put it forth. No more empty feel good phrases or sophistry...and most importantly, no crying over hurt feelings. Let's all be mature...and that means reacting maturely to honest criticism.

I'm going to start off by revealing a bit about my own game and a MAJOR change I've instituted in it and why I do it...

My players don't fully level past Level 12. In fact, in the game setting NPCs do not fully level past Level 12.

Now, I run Pathfinder at the moment, but the intent behind it is sound and here is why...

Steady (or even increasing) growth in power is detrimental to campaign settings and lead to the pitfalls several editions have suffered. It also heavily damages a DMs ability to present anything but "balanced" encounters, especially when done with things like Random Encounter Charts and the like.

I think this is a design failing that the designers themselves have dropped the ball on.

To clarify how things work in my game so we can all be on the same page, when a player achieves levels past 12 they do not gain a full Hit Die. Instead they gain half the maximum of the HD of the class they gained a level in with no bonus from statistical modifiers. Skills are treated in the same way. The character does not gain attack bonus or new spell levels (though they may still gain more spells per day) or save bonuses. They still gain their Feats, Stat bonuses and Class Abilities, however.

This has been very advantageous for world building from a DM stand-point because it means the difference between a level 10 NPC and a level 20 NPC is noticeable & pronounced, but not ludicrous. In essence, it closes the gap from "lowest" to "highest" in the setting. This similarly prevents the "level zoo" phenomenon where some parts of the world might have monsters that makes monsters in another part of the world look like hamsters (Final Fantasy syndrome). It lends internal consistency to the world.

An interesting effect is that it also empowers the players when dealing with the world because at whatever level they might be they know that the world is dangerous but not absurdly so. Instead of creating "fear" of the world, it creates respect for it just as the players respect their own ability to interact with and influence it. Players seem far more willing to indulge in their agency when they know that the world doesn't scale like Dragon Ball Z (though I do love Toriyama's work).

I also love that it eliminates the Forgotten Realms syndrome where there are high & epic-level PCs all-about mucking around with things OR not doing anything particular at all. Having already statted some of the highest level warriors and mages in the setting it is refreshing to see how "mortal" they are even if their level pegs them at 17 or 19 or what-have-you. Essentially, mortal beings cap out at a certain level of power or potency and, from there, they gain in versatility, talent and knowledge.

I think that's enough explanation of my approach to higher levels...there's a bit more to it, of course, but there's enough here to discuss, especially since I am looking to see if holes can be poked in it. On the flipside, I'd also love to see how other DMs approach various design or style hobgoblins in their own games and I'm sure it would be helpful for the community to hear why those approaches are best.



Very interesting way to tackle a situation that could be problematic.  My solution is a bit simpler, and that's just keep the status quo and assuming no one raises issue with it.  Probably not what you wanted to read, but the way I see it it's not really that much a problem to just have enemies that scale with them. 

Themeatically it can make sense that skeletons can still hit heroes with swords just like they can still heroes can still hit them back.  Just the skeletons can't reshape the world with their powers.


I made what I thought would be a simple change when I first started playing in 3.5 and it seriously altered my game, but not in ways I expected. I ruled that criticals were auto-confirmed. It had some negative implications, as you might expect. New to the version, I was merely trying to streamline the number of dice being rolled in combat, not seeing how drastic a change it actually was.

As it happens, though... there were good things that came out of it as well...

For one, a low-level guy could still be dangerous to a higher level guy. One wild hay-maker with an axe and the tables are turned. A higher level guy learns not to underestimate his opponent. Another good thing... it tends to make fights quicker and dirtier knowing that one good swing might end it. It's not a guarantee, but quickens the pulse a bit. It also keeps the higher level characters from simply running rough-shod over their lower level counterparts and NPCs. A couple of stout 1st level warriors with crossbows or spears might actually have a chance to defend themselves. It also meant that I could throw slightly more challenging monsters at the characters and they actually have a shot at defeating them. Of course it made some weapons more deadly than they might have been otherwise.

There is a power-gap, though... although I thought it really gets significant around 15th level. I had been previously winding up campaigns and asking for player retirement up to that point (and being stingy with XP). Recently, I decided to go the opposite route and give away XP like candy and not capping at 15th, but going on to 20. The result has been that all of my players have been able to create a world full of interesting higher-level peeps and are not so afraid to start over, knowing they will be powerful soon enough. And all those retired characters? I drop their names every chance I get...
even letting the players bring them out for brief interludes mid-session to let them know they're not forgotten.

My way seems to be working, but I'm not sure what my way is...

Let the players be significant. They seem to like that. And... err on the side of awesome.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.

I realized my first post wasn't very helpful to the discussion and examination of the topic you were presenting. So after some re-thinking I have just a few questions, and observations I'd like to make.  I will admit when quoting you I moved a few of the paragraphs around to group ideas together.




My players don't fully level past Level 12. In fact, in the game setting NPCs do not fully level past Level 12.

To clarify how things work in my game so we can all be on the same page, when a player achieves levels past 12 they do not gain a full Hit Die. Instead they gain half the maximum of the HD of the class they gained a level in with no bonus from statistical modifiers. Skills are treated in the same way. The character does not gain attack bonus or new spell levels (though they may still gain more spells per day) or save bonuses. They still gain their Feats, Stat bonuses and Class Abilities, however.




Out of curiosity why did you choose level 12 to institute these changes?  Is there something about that particular level of Character that makes it ideal to change the progression of HD, skills, and attack bonuses?  I’m sure you put a lot of thought into the decision, and I was wondering what sorts of testing you might have done to come to that conclusion.






Steady (or even increasing) growth in power is detrimental to campaign settings and lead to the pitfalls several editions have suffered. It also heavily damages a DMs ability to present anything but "balanced" encounters, especially when done with things like Random Encounter Charts and the like.

I think this is a design failing that the designers themselves have dropped the ball on.



I’m just curious why it is detrimental to the campaign setting to have steady/increasing growth in power.  Yes, I know you’ve addressed some of your thoughts on why it can create problems in your later statements; however I’m looking more for the why these things could be problems in the first place.  Why are running “balanced” encounters inferior to the method you’ve outlined?  How is the Random encounter chart impacted by increasing power? 



This has been very advantageous for world building from a DM stand-point because it means the difference between a level 10 NPC and a level 20 NPC is noticeable & pronounced, but not ludicrous. In essence, it closes the gap from "lowest" to "highest" in the setting. This similarly prevents the "level zoo" phenomenon where some parts of the world might have monsters that makes monsters in another part of the world look like hamsters (Final Fantasy syndrome). It lends internal consistency to the world.


I’m curious why having some parts of the world that contain stronger enemies is necessarily a negative element to have within a game world.  Is it because it damages some sense of immersion felt by the players and the DM?  I’m just trying to figure out why mechanically this creates an issue, as if it’s an issue of perception with relation to a world, then it is possible to create justifiable reasons for such disparities.



An interesting effect is that it also empowers the players when dealing with the world because at whatever level they might be they know that the world is dangerous but not absurdly so. Instead of creating "fear" of the world, it creates respect for it just as the players respect their own ability to interact with and influence it. Players seem far more willing to indulge in their agency when they know that the world doesn't scale like Dragon Ball Z (though I do love Toriyama's work).

I also love that it eliminates the Forgotten Realms syndrome where there are high & epic-level PCs all-about mucking around with things OR not doing anything particular at all. Having already statted some of the highest level warriors and mages in the setting it is refreshing to see how "mortal" they are even if their level pegs them at 17 or 19 or what-have-you. Essentially, mortal beings cap out at a certain level of power or potency and, from there, they gain in versatility, talent and knowledge.[/




When it comes to scaling and placing of monsters, I wonder if this is more a relation with how the DM creates the world, and how the players perceive the world then with an actual mechanical issue with the progression system.




I think that's enough explanation of my approach to higher levels...there's a bit more to it, of course, but there's enough here to discuss, especially since I am looking to see if holes can be poked in it. On the flipside, I'd also love to see how other DMs approach various design or style hobgoblins in their own games and I'm sure it would be helpful for the community to hear why those approaches are best.



Not poking holes per say, just trying to understand the problem, and why the particular solution was put into place in more detail.

I'm not YagamiFire, but I do have my own thoughts to add to the discussion:
Out of curiosity why did you choose level 12 to institute these changes?  Is there something about that particular level of Character that makes it ideal to change the progression of HD, skills, and attack bonuses?  I’m sure you put a lot of thought into the decision, and I was wondering what sorts of testing you might have done to come to that conclusion.

 The DM has every right to institute a leveling peak within a given system so long as 1) he makes it clear to players well beforehand, and 2) he makes a compromise with the players so that they wouldn't feel gimped by this change.

This, I believe, is why the term "E6" is mentioned with regards to "balanced pre-4E", since it's roughly the level where casters and non-casters are at equivalent parity.  Nothing is stopping the DM from initiating an "E10", and in the case of YagamiFire he chose to go for "E12" instead.
I’m just curious why it is detrimental to the campaign setting to have steady/increasing growth in power.  Yes, I know you’ve addressed some of your thoughts on why it can create problems in your later statements; however I’m looking more for the why these things could be problems in the first place.  Why are running “balanced” encounters inferior to the method you’ve outlined?  How is the Random encounter chart impacted by increasing power?

The system he is running (Pathfinder) uses the same methodology used for "balanced" encounters as 3.x (Challenge Rating). While it might work at certain points, CR itself is whacked because the power growth between non-casters and casters is so different that, unless strict measures are taken, it's easy for a campaign to collapse from the sheer weight of options that players have, that DMs have to consider in order to keep the game challenging to the casters while keeping the game relevant to the non-casters.
I’m curious why having some parts of the world that contain stronger enemies is necessarily a negative element to have within a game world.  Is it because it damages some sense of immersion felt by the players and the DM?  I’m just trying to figure out why mechanically this creates an issue, as if it’s an issue of perception with relation to a world, then it is possible to create justifiable reasons for such disparities.

It depends primarily on how you approach the issue.  While I don't find it really jarring -- after all, it's been the natural course of evolution in real life to weed out the weaker creatures in favor of the stronger creatures -- the idea that the world is made up of zones rather than complex ecosystems can be problematic indeed.
When it comes to scaling and placing of monsters, I wonder if this is more a relation with how the DM creates the world, and how the players perceive the world then with an actual mechanical issue with the progression system.

Here I'd agree with you: the significance of levels and associated mechanics does, in fact, affect the game's dynamics as what YagamiFire has noted.  To compare:


  • In 13th Age, the lowest level is 1, the highest monster level is 14, and the highest PC level is 10.  PCs and monsters progress stat-wise in roughly the same way [save for HP perhaps]; in fact PCs can actually progress faster than monsters of the same level if magic items have anything to say about that.

  • In D&D 4E, the lowest level is 1, the highest monster level is 40, and the highest PC level is 30.  PCs and monsters progress stat-wise in such a way that the 4E PC has to invest in equipment and other things just to make sure that he's able to keep up with the monster progression of same-level opponents.


    • In some ways, this made defeating those harder opponents possible.  At the same time, it created the treadmill effect.

    • Could've been solved by encouraging DMs to use lower level monsters in item-less scenarios, but it's a bit sad that the DM has to fit to the system and not the other way around



A level 10 PC in 13th Age has the same accuracy as a level 20 PC in 4E with the same stats, yet unlike 4E PCs, the 13th Age PCs can easily handle enemies up to 4 levels higher when magic items are taken into consideration... and even without them, the Escalation Die ensures that they eventually close the to-hit gap.


[ Compared to how level 20 PCs in 4E needs so many things just to handle same-level foes, and stretching their limits to be able to tackle enemies that are only so many levels above them.  While that may sound epic, the min/maxing required for that to be mechanically accurate in representation is anything but. ]

- - - - -
Regarding the original post, my best solution is to simply use a system that's already mechanically sound (13th Age, D&D 4E), and only add tweaks when deemed necessary for the enhancement of the game.  That way, most of the heavy lifting that's needed to make an effective campaign on mechanics is already done by the game developers, which leaves me free to effectively design the story as needed.
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Chaos, you really got to get some of that 13th age out of your system.
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I'm not YagamiFire, but I do have my own thoughts to add to the discussion:



Out of curiosity why did you choose level 12 to institute these changes? Is there something about that particular level of Character that makes it ideal to change the progression of HD, skills, and attack bonuses? I’m sure you put a lot of thought into the decision, and I was wondering what sorts of testing you might have done to come to that conclusion.


 


 The DM has every right to institute a leveling peak within a given system so long as 1) he makes it clear to players well beforehand, and 2) he makes a compromise with the players so that they wouldn't feel gimped by this change.

This, I believe, is why the term "E6" is mentioned with regards to "balanced pre-4E", since it's roughly the level where casters and non-casters are at equivalent parity. Nothing is stopping the DM from initiating an "E10", and in the case of YagamiFire he chose to go for "E12" instead.




 


I never mentioned anywhere that DMs are not allowed instituting t changes, I merely questioned why he chose a particular point to implement them.  You answered my question in that it seems the systems math seems to function a certain desirable way at that level.  However, why is the math functioning that way a more desirable outcome then the other methods?


 


 



I’m just curious why it is detrimental to the campaign setting to have steady/increasing growth in power. Yes, I know you’ve addressed some of your thoughts on why it can create problems in your later statements; however I’m looking more for the why these things could be problems in the first place. Why are running “balanced” encounters inferior to the method you’ve outlined? How is the Random encounter chart impacted by increasing power?


 


The system he is running (Pathfinder) uses the same methodology used for "balanced" encounters as 3.x (Challenge Rating). While it might work at certain points, CR itself is whacked because the power growth between non-casters and casters is so different that, unless strict measures are taken, it's easy for a campaign to collapse from the sheer weight of options that players have, that DMs have to consider in order to keep the game challenging to the casters while keeping the game relevant to the non-casters.



 


What exactly are strict measures and why might things collapse if they are not taken? What methods currently exist and are they enough to be considered strict?  If not what additional methods must be taken?


 



I’m curious why having some parts of the world that contain stronger enemies is necessarily a negative element to have within a game world. Is it because it damages some sense of immersion felt by the players and the DM? I’m just trying to figure out why mechanically this creates an issue, as if it’s an issue of perception with relation to a world, then it is possible to create justifiable reasons for such disparities.


 


It depends primarily on how you approach the issue. While I don't find it really jarring -- after all, it's been the natural course of evolution in real life to weed out the weaker creatures in favor of the stronger creatures -- the idea that the world is made up of zones rather than complex ecosystems can be problematic indeed.



 


How are zones exclusive to complex ecosystems?  Where are the rules I can find for these so that I may implement them in a game to help avoid potential problems?  What is the difference between zones and ecosystems?




 


When it comes to scaling and placing of monsters, I wonder if this is more a relation with how the DM creates the world, and how the players perceive the world then with an actual mechanical issue with the progression system.


 


Here I'd agree with the idea you presented: the significance of levels and associated mechanics does, in fact, affect the game's dynamics as what YagamiFire has noted. To compare:



 


I’m not sure I follow you, but let me see if I understand correctly and you can tell me if my summary is incorrect.  You agree with the idea that the issue of scaling and progression is a problem with player perceptions instead of being an actual mechanical issue (I edited your statement with the bold words to reflect the fact I posed a question not an actual opinion).  Then in the next sentence you mention that game mechanics do actually affect the world mechanics?  Perhaps it was a miscommunication or misunderstanding on my part, but I’m just confused by this statement.


 




  • In 13th Age, the lowest level is 1, the highest monster level is 14, and the highest PC level is 10. PCs and monsters progress stat-wise in roughly the same way [save for HP perhaps]; in fact PCs can actually progress faster than monsters of the same level if magic items have anything to say about that.

  • In D&D 4E, the lowest level is 1, the highest monster level is 40, and the highest PC level is 30. PCs and monsters progress stat-wise in such a way that the 4E PC has to invest in equipment and other things just to make sure that he's able to keep up with the monster progression of same-level opponents.

    • In some ways, this made defeating those harder opponents possible. At the same time, it created the treadmill effect.

    • Could've been solved by encouraging DMs to use lower level monsters in item-less scenarios, but it's a bit sad that the DM has to fit to the system and not the other way around




A level 10 PC in 13th Age has the same accuracy as a level 20 PC in 4E with the same stats, yet unlike 4E PCs, the 13th Age PCs can easily handle enemies up to 4 levels higher when magic items are taken into consideration... and even without them, the Escalation Die ensures that they eventually close the to-hit gap.


[ Compared to how level 20 PCs in 4E needs so many things just to handle same-level foes, and stretching their limits to be able to tackle enemies that are only so many levels above them. While that may sound epic, the min/maxing required for that to be mechanically accurate in representation is anything but. ]



You pose a comparison to the 13th Age and 4E progression systems.  Since you’ve had experience with both systems I’m sure the comparison is fair, but I’m wondering how the comparison aids in the discussion of why someone would change the base system of D&D 3.5/pathfinder.  Additionally this doesn’t seem to really answer my own question of: “Is the progress system really a problem, or is it the way that a given player’s expectations are not met within the system, or at the very least how they have used the tools within the system?”


I realized my first post wasn't very helpful to the discussion and examination of the topic you were presenting. So after some re-thinking I have just a few questions, and observations I'd like to make.  I will admit when quoting you I moved a few of the paragraphs around to group ideas together.



Not a problem.


Out of curiosity why did you choose level 12 to institute these changes?  Is there something about that particular level of Character that makes it ideal to change the progression of HD, skills, and attack bonuses?  I’m sure you put a lot of thought into the decision, and I was wondering what sorts of testing you might have done to come to that conclusion.



A few reasons. I was deciding between 10 and 12 actually. That range gives enough time for differences in HD to express themselves in a noticeable way. For instance, a fighter gaining an average of 10 HP per level will top out around 100-120 while the wizard will have 60 or so. Keep in mind, if a player in my game rolls less than half their hit die they get an HP result of half the hit die...so if a wizard (d6) rolls a 1 they receive 4 HP, similarly a fighter gains no less than 6 HP per level. Going at least 10 levels allows these differences to be well-expressed while still letting all characters have a good reservoir of HP to draw from.


A big decision between 10 and 12, however, was attack progression. At level 10 a Good BAB provides a +10/+5 and a Medium BAB provides a +7/+2. However, at level 12 that is broken down as +12/+7/+2 and +9/+4. I am sure you can spot the big difference...those that have a full BAB enjoy a third attack. A poor BAB character has just barely gotten a +6/+1 to earn their second attack. Theoretically, a Good BAB class-character could take a level dip into another class and still get their third attack but anything beyond that and things get iffy depending on the dip.


The other consideration is that magic users whether they gain their 6th level spells at 11 or 12, they both at least GET 6th level spells. 6th level has some nice, iconic powerful spells like Contingency and Antimagic Field and True Seeing. Level 7, on the other hand, has some spells that start getting into amazing power like Plane Shift or Greater Teleport or Force Cage or even Limited Wish. These are GAME CHANGERS in a fun, great way. By making these JUST beyond the grasp of mortals it adds mystique to them. Understand, these ARE castable by the players...they CAN get them but these reach into the realm of ritual magic requiring sacrifice, cost and the like. Those spells beyond (the 8th and 9th levels) are even more incredible and afforded even more majesty especially considering that these levels are with-held in that manner from ALL mortal beings so NPCs in the world are restricted in the same ways.

I’m just curious why it is detrimental to the campaign setting to have steady/increasing growth in power.  Yes, I know you’ve addressed some of your thoughts on why it can create problems in your later statements; however I’m looking more for the why these things could be problems in the first place.  Why are running “balanced” encounters inferior to the method you’ve outlined?  How is the Random encounter chart impacted by increasing power? 


I believe that, at some point, gaining power for powers sake needs to be left behind in the game. As the characters mature, their role and responsibilities mature with them. PCs gain a web of intrigue, allies, enemies and such around them and managing that in all its glory becomes a greater means to power. Additionally, the math DOES warp at higher levels. Gaps become larger, highs become higher, lowers become lower, etc. The sweet spot sours.


As far as random encounters, it is impacted because if the world scales from standard 1-20 then things have to be "zoned" or there is too much chance for things FAR outside a player (or even a civilizations) power range to show up. Similarly, it can be an issue where players have to go out of their way to find appropriate challenges or whatever they're doing has to coincidentally and conveniently scale with them. One thing that this does is damages a sense of real, tangible growth. After all, if battles are generally as hard from one level to the next, really it's just a treadmill. Having more ebb & flow can be nice because players experience their power...they can feel it in action.


Naturally some of this depends on the usage of random charts and having a range of encounters and encounter types (not all encounters on my charts are necessarily hostile or necessarily benevolent) but I consider random charts important.



I’m curious why having some parts of the world that contain stronger enemies is necessarily a negative element to have within a game world.  Is it because it damages some sense of immersion felt by the players and the DM?  I’m just trying to figure out why mechanically this creates an issue, as if it’s an issue of perception with relation to a world, then it is possible to create justifiable reasons for such disparities.


Immersion is hurt but, if you think about it, it can become a barrier to play. Imagine having an "area" of the world designed to appropriately challenge a level 17 group. Now imagine a level 7 group wandering over there because they WANT to. Now, what a group wants to do is well within their rights...but, if, as DM, you don't then artificially change the area...what is going to happen? SPLAT! It may as well have an invisible barrier on it with a sign that says "You must be this tall to enter". That to me is very artificial and, even if it isn't, it is at least frustrating to players. Now, of course, there's the argument that it could be adjusted to allow entrance...but then the players are being pandered to...and, again, treadmill.


When it comes to scaling and placing of monsters, I wonder if this is more a relation with how the DM creates the world, and how the players perceive the world then with an actual mechanical issue with the progression system.



You are not entirely incorrect. In many ways you're right actually. I create a world for the players to interact with and they are free to do in it as they please. They know I don't fudge...I play fair...I referee...I arbitrate. They have complete freedom to do as they please with the understanding that I am not invested in "helping" them or harming them. I am not playing favorites...nor am I crafting a narrative for them to follow...or a trail for them to go along. That sort of freedom requires a logical world for logical responses. It requires a more even hand.


Not poking holes per say, just trying to understand the problem, and why the particular solution was put into place in more detail.



And I really thank you for that.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

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100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I never mentioned anywhere that DMs are not allowed instituting t changes, I merely questioned why he chose a particular point to implement them.  You answered my question in that it seems the systems math seems to function a certain desirable way at that level.  However, why is the math functioning that way a more desirable outcome then the other methods?

Math is only the second reason; the first is primarily just DM preference.  If the DM can handle running level 20+ campaigns, why else should he enforce running games with a much lower level cap than the default?

The sound part of the advice is this: know your limits as a DM (but try to expand them whenever possible).  If you're aware that by level 7 you find PCs being really difficult to handle -- or if you've read beforehand about the difficulties of running games past level 6 or 7 -- rather than try to run the game all the way to 20+ each and every time, have your campaign world limited to level 7 or maybe 8 at most.

What exactly are strict measures and why might things collapse if they are not taken? What methods currently exist and are they enough to be considered strict?  If not what additional methods must be taken?

Strict measures involve overall keeping the system math within reason, even if it means lowering everyone's available resources.  Other DMs already do this by limiting PC access to spells by keeping those spells from their reach [either by limiting it to monsters, or removing said spells outright].  It's already been done with the E6 phenomenon, wherein DMs restrict campaigns to level 6 territory, allowing both casters and non-casters to play with roughly equivalent parity.

The risk of a campaign to collapse and become discontinued indefinitely increases when the DM's job starts to go well beyond his capability to DM; when PCs become so powerful that the game ceases to pose a challenge to the players, the number of aesthetics that keep players engaged thins out, resulting in games that never really finish at high level.  That's exactly why most of the advice given to keep everything in check involves strict adherence to the policies established early on, be it limited items, limited spells, limited levels, or some other restrictions implemented.

How are zones exclusive to complex ecosystems?  Where are the rules I can find for these so that I may implement them in a game to help avoid potential problems?  What is the difference between zones and ecosystems?



The term "zones" I use involves the more MMORPG use of the term, wherein creatures are divided by what players are capable of, rather than how the world actually functions in that area.

There are no rules on zones vs. ecosystems because both are valid ways of playing, as you could easily explain zones by stating that monsters too weak are irrelevant, and monsters too strong are rare to non-existent for whatever reason you might establish.  Railroading?  Maybe, although it's also more time-saving if irrelevant threats are kept irrelevant.
I’m not sure I follow you, but let me see if I understand correctly and you can tell me if my summary is incorrect.  You agree with the idea that the issue of scaling and progression is a problem with player perceptions instead of being an actual mechanical issue (I edited your statement with the bold words to reflect the fact I posed a question not an actual opinion).  Then in the next sentence you mention that game mechanics do actually affect the world mechanics?  Perhaps it was a miscommunication or misunderstanding on my part, but I’m just confused by this statement.

The scaling of monsters is an outright mechanical issue, by definition.  The placing of monsters irrelevant of scaling can be jarring for some, and welcome for others (this is where your player perception comes into play).  And it's one thing for both of them to exist side by side (for whatever reasons they'd have), but when you have to take into consider game mechanics -- like actually running combat -- if the scaling difference is too great, you end up with entire rounds where the DM effectively wastes everyone's time by rolling.

( This has been my actual experience while playing a one-shot session of Star Wars Saga Edition, wherein the DM threw at us more than a dozen storm troopers and save for a few lucky shots, none of them hit.  With the two Jedi of the party utilizing deflecting and damage-absorbing techniques, not even the miss damage of blasts were effective, it was effectively two hours of needless minion-sweeping.  Yes it's appropriate to the setting, but mechanically it takes way too long and thus becomes problematic to gameplay. ]

You pose a comparison to the 13th Age and 4E progression systems.  Since you’ve had experience with both systems I’m sure the comparison is fair, but I’m wondering how the comparison aids in the discussion of why someone would change the base system of D&D 3.5/pathfinder.

Simple: because the assumption that the relevant game mechanics doesn't affect how the story works is false, by virtue of the game being of the roleplaying sort.

Additionally this doesn’t seem to really answer my own question of: “Is the progress system really a problem, or is it the way that a given player’s expectations are not met within the system, or at the very least how they have used the tools within the system?”

Admittedly I did not even know that that was your question, otherwise I would've answered that directly.

My answer to your question is: all of the above.  To elaborate, player expectations vary very wildly, which is why we have DMs handling the actual campaign development as opposed to placing rules for every possible scenario.  The progress system can indeed be a problem if the tools provided to the DMs by the system are difficult to impossible to wield -- and I wouldn't be surprised if poor system development is to blame for this, since some TRPG developers apparently go for so much "feel" that the actual mechanics that support the feel would not interact well with the rest of the system being used.

A well-developed game system, whose progress sub-mechanics (which may or may not involve character levels) allow for proper evocation of the tone desired by both the system itself and the DMs that run the system, is a great boon, because DMs can then focus on developing their campaign rather than fixing system-level problems.  I'll be utilizing 4E because I'm more familiar with it than 3E/PF, and it would be unfair if I make presumptions based on ignorance.


  • As you may have noted with 4E and its development, the game devs opted to fix the mechanical flaws of 4E not by changing the game math, but by adding Expertise feats and even requiring DMs to hand out magic items on top of that, which means that low magic campaigns required far more work from DMs, since they now have to adjust their campaigns accordingly.  And while they did add a patch to fix the problem of having to add bonuses for low magic campaigns (Inherent Bonuses/Fixed Ehancement Bonuses), they shouldn't have needed such a patch in the first place, if the math was fixed from the start.

  • While 4E did utilize "threat level" to explain why you're usually handling only kobolds and orcs at heroic tier and why you're usually fighting demons and demigod-level enemies at epic tier, because the monster progression in 4E is pretty fast, it's easy to end up with scenarios where even heroic tier threats that are more than 4 levels above the PCs force the less accurate PCs away from the fighting part of the game, as well as scenarios where no one bothers making level 10 adventures involving level 1 monsters because it takes so much effort on the level 1 monster's part to actually hit the level 10 PC (which, while "realistic", is tedious, time-consuming and overall boring because they're not *really* threats even if you send in twenty or thirty of them).


4E handled the level relevance and monster progression issue by assuming that NPCs don't have stats (not even levels) until you give them stats.  While some find this perfectly acceptable, others would find this jarring perception-wise.

Chaos, you really got to get some of that 13th age out of your system.

Can't help it, 13th Age has the mechanical elegance of 4E, the customizability of 3E, the flexibility of 1E & 2E, and it's got a lot of story-focused mechanics from indie RPGs, which allows smoother gameplay on all of its aspects -- providing a level of tactical and strategic gameplay without the minutae of detail needed in 4E, and allowing non-combat to just go, go, go -- as well as giving me the means to design an entire campaign entirely impromptu (which, by the way, is nearing its halfway point since the PCs now have acquired the McGuffin of the campaign).  As a DM, all I need to do is decide what sort of campaign I'll be utilizing -- wargame, investigative, political -- and whatever the mechanics themselves don't provide, the story delivers.

The book details 13 iconic NPCs who represent not only various organizations, but the types of influences that these icons and organizations represent (even monstrous organizations and influences!), and their base relationships with each other, forming an uncertain level of peace in the world.  All I have to do for a political campaign is introduce an unbalancing element -- mostly the PCs, but a McGuffin or an incident -- and everything will just fall into place.  If I need an investigative campaign, I can ignore most of the international organizations and focus on just one city, then have the influences of the icons affect the investigation more than the icons themselves**.

In short, I really, really like the system.

** if let's say I have four players, each of them rolls a relationship die, then the results come out as Emperor, Orc Lord, and Lich King (then I roll to determine who caused the fourth relationship die to fail and comes out with Prince of Shadow), using those clues alone I can construct a scenario where the group is part of the police force (emperor) have come to investigate a murder (orc lord) of a thief (prince of shadow).  Then as the story unfolds (with a couple more relationship dice, maybe introducing aspects of deception (Elf Queen) and madness (Diabolist) as a result), I may have the players uncover that the thief was killed to silence him and make sure that no one finds out of the truth of the matter (deception), that a local demonic cult has had the thief dig up and steal a few bones of various races (lich king influence) and wish to summon an entity similar to C'thulu.  If they switch from investigative to combat-centric, the system can handle it just fine.  All this without having to prepare any script, mind you.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

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

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Just as a caveat to what chaosfang is saying...I have ZERO issues running games at high levels and, in fact, can use the system at those levels FAR beyond the abilities of my players to do so. That issue has nothing to do with my decisions.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I meant no offense Chaosfang.  I just noticed all the posts about "how we play DnD in XYZ respect"  have had a lot of elements 13th age in your responses recently.


Also, something I just noticed a minute ago.  What PCs have problems taking encounters 4 levels higher than them?  I know at Gencon I through a Lv+9 encounter at a group of PCs and they won pretty handily.  It really isn't that hard to fight above level creatures if you just play well. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I meant no offense Chaosfang.  I just noticed all the posts about "how we play DnD in XYZ respect"  have had a lot of elements 13th age in your responses recently.

Like I said, I really, really like the system. Mechanically sound, excellent fluff, lots of wiggle room and good advice for DMs.  Can't help it if I like it so much that I keep on referencing it, just like how I also like 4E so much that it's another system I tend to reference.

Also, something I just noticed a minute ago.  What PCs have problems taking encounters 4 levels higher than them?  I know at Gencon I through a Lv+9 encounter at a group of PCs and they won pretty handily.  It really isn't that hard to fight above level creatures if you just play well. 

Good for you.  Not every body "plays well" though, and assuming that the average (casual) game has PCs optimized well enough to hit same-level opponents 90% of the time is a bit much to expect.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

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

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

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
YagamiFire's method of twicking the mechanics of the DnD game to fit his game table and his players and making  it more fun and exciting is awesome.  Isn't it this kind of player innovation, making the changes and molding the game to fit one's group style, resulting in awesome funness, what the DnD producers truly want from their players?  

I'm sure they prefer that over constant whining, and asking for clarification like a rule lawyer.  Probably why they mention "its a guideline" in their rule books often.

Kudos YagamiFire!  It must really worked out for you, since you are proudly sharing it with the community.   

And you are right... it is a design flaw and producers did drop the ball.  It's great players can fix it to fit their play.

Without twicking the mechanic, DnD 4e is feels impossible to play and  have fun AND progress to 30th level.

My buddy who is a 25+ year avid Dnd player, never played past 20th level, let alone 30th because of that flaw...and I thought it's so stupid why he don't just twick the game to make it work and experience everything, instead of rewinding to 1st level every time we're over 10th level...  

Kudo's to you YagamiFire.  I wish my buddy who DM's our games 80% of the time would have that courage to make changes and not be so afraid to twick the written rules.  He treats it like its the 10 commandments.  

Ever since we started to twick the game to fit our play and crowd, it has been ALOT more fun each session.

Thank you Chaosfang and Yagami for your responses, I think I understand the "why" a little bit better now.

First I'll start by reiterating the base assumptions that at a mechanical level the game is about amassing power and presenting challenges to overcome to amass this power. From, what was written I gather that if the mechanical aspects for amassing power starts to outstrip the presenting of challenges then player interest within a game starts to decrease, and can ultimately lead to the end of the present game if no one wants to play.

While presenting challenges is mechanical in nature, the act of actually presenting them is more something of an estimate from a given DM for a give group, even with the use of systems such as Challenge Rating or Encounter XP budgets. Additionally the DM's world building method will impact how the DM structures or creates encounters. The nature of the definition of challenging/meaningful encounter is largely dependent at the skills of all players involved, is impacted by experience with the game system as well, and the expectations of the game world. Given these variables then it is desirable for a given DM to adjust the system to help align mechanical aspects with not only their own expectations of the game, but also allow them to more easily provide challenging/meaningful encounters to the other players.

So I do have a new question:  In a given system if it’s possible to provide meaningful and challenging encounters without changing the systems mechanics: Then is it more desirable to change the system  to cater to a player’s current ability, or for that player to learn and adjust to the system as it is and grow in their ability?  There is no wrong answer since it’s an opinion based question, but I’m just interested in reading your opinions (and anyone else’s) on the matter.

In a given system if it’s possible to provide meaningful and challenging encounters without changing the systems mechanics: Then is it more desirable to change the system  to cater to a player’s current ability, or for that player to learn and adjust to the system as it is and grow in their ability?

Both.  Most of the time a system that is able to provide meaningful and challenging encounters should be able to do so with little to no changes based on given criteria on the mechanical level (accuracy, damage, challenge resolution speed, level-appropriate-ness [in level-based systems], etc.), so all the players have to do is learn the system and eventually master it.  The system however should still be flexible enough so that the DM can tweak it in the event that if the player is truly unable to learn the system, he can still run the game with minimal to no disruption.

Personally though, I feel that players who would actively refuse to invest the time and effort to learn the game is doing the group a disservice.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

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

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

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging

First I'll start by reiterating the base assumptions that at a mechanical level the game is about amassing power and presenting challenges to overcome to amass this power. From, what was written I gather that if the mechanical aspects for amassing power starts to outstrip the presenting of challenges then player interest within a game starts to decrease, and can ultimately lead to the end of the present game if no one wants to play.



Not only that really but that as the game develops, new challenges need to be presented and new sorts of power need to be amassed. This is where the slowing of "Character Sheet" power gives way to the expansion of "Character" power. Now, the former never goes away, of course, but the latter can come a bit more forward.


The other thing to consider is that the decline of Character Class power increases does not mean other options don't present themselves. My players can earn things like templates and such to apply to their characters that will further boost their powers depending on what they want to do. 3.5 and Pathfinder have a WEALTH of various templates and other character options that are wasted if they're only available to opponents. After all, when one reaches the outer limits of mortality it's time to become more than a mortal, no?



While presenting challenges is mechanical in nature, the act of actually presenting them is more something of an estimate from a given DM for a give group, even with the use of systems such as Challenge Rating or Encounter XP budgets. Additionally the DM's world building method will impact how the DM structures or creates encounters. The nature of the definition of challenging/meaningful encounter is largely dependent at the skills of all players involved, is impacted by experience with the game system as well, and the expectations of the game world. Given these variables then it is desirable for a given DM to adjust the system to help align mechanical aspects with not only their own expectations of the game, but also allow them to more easily provide challenging/meaningful encounters to the other players.


The big issue I have with things like CR and such is that there is SO MUCH variability in the game that it is almost absurd to think challenge systems can maintain any sort of integrity over the life of the game. What is difficult for one group is easy for another is TPK for another and so on and so on.



So I do have a new question:  In a given system if it’s possible to provide meaningful and challenging encounters without changing the systems mechanics: Then is it more desirable to change the system  to cater to a player’s current ability, or for that player to learn and adjust to the system as it is and grow in their ability?  There is no wrong answer since it’s an opinion based question, but I’m just interested in reading your opinions (and anyone else’s) on the matter.


I think worrying about the challenge of encounters is a problematic mind-set. Constantly worrying about what is "challenging" is what puts the game on a razors edge of balance. I like when players are able to challenge themselves with goals, aspirations and the like...that is where the challenge should lay in the game.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


 


First I'll start by reiterating the base assumptions that at a mechanical level the game is about amassing power and presenting challenges to overcome to amass this power. From, what was written I gather that if the mechanical aspects for amassing power starts to outstrip the presenting of challenges then player interest within a game starts to decrease, and can ultimately lead to the end of the present game if no one wants to play.


Not only that really but that as the game develops, new challenges need to be presented and new sorts of power need to be amassed. This is where the slowing of "Character Sheet" power gives way to the expansion of "Character" power. Now, the former never goes away, of course, but the latter can come a bit more forward.



So in other words you agree with the statement you just would like to add additional details to under the general definition provided.  Yes, I agree with you that there can be different kinds of power, and definitions for how it exists in game, but that’s stepping away from the general and moving toward the specific.  I was trying to move away from specifics, but I think I could have worded my statements better to reflect that.



The other thing to consider is that the decline of Character Class power increases does not mean other options don't present themselves. My players can earn things like templates and such to apply to their characters that will further boost their powers depending on what they want to do. 3.5 and Pathfinder have a WEALTH of various templates and other character options that are wasted if they're only available to opponents. After all, when one reaches the outer limits of mortality it's time to become more than a mortal, no?



Sounds like a very interesting approach to fulfill the providing power cycle.  It reminds me a bit of 4E paragon paths/epic destinies in a way, but I’m wondering about how they differ.  What are these templates like?



While presenting challenges is mechanical in nature, the act of actually presenting them is more something of an estimate from a given DM for a give group, even with the use of systems such as Challenge Rating or Encounter XP budgets. Additionally the DM's world building method will impact how the DM structures or creates encounters. The nature of the definition of challenging/meaningful encounter is largely dependent at the skills of all players involved, is impacted by experience with the game system as well, and the expectations of the game world. Given these variables then it is desirable for a given DM to adjust the system to help align mechanical aspects with not only their own expectations of the game, but also allow them to more easily provide challenging/meaningful encounters to the other players.


The big issue I have with things like CR and such is that there is SO MUCH variability in the game that it is almost absurd to think challenge systems can maintain any sort of integrity over the life of the game. What is difficult for one group is easy for another is TPK for another and so on and so on.



That’s why I was making the distinction that the systems for estimating encounter difficulty are only rough estimates.  It seems we agree with each other again on this.




So I do have a new question: In a given system if it’s possible to provide meaningful and challenging encounters without changing the systems mechanics: Then is it more desirable to change the system to cater to a player’s current ability, or for that player to learn and adjust to the system as it is and

 


grow in their ability? There is no wrong answer since it’s an opinion based question, but I’m just interested in reading your opinions (and anyone else’s) on the matter.



I think worrying about the challenge of encounters is a problematic mind-set. Constantly worrying about what is "challenging" is what puts the game on a razors edge of balance. I like when players are able to challenge themselves with goals, aspirations and the like...that is where the challenge should lay in the game.



 


Again you just agree with my statement just maybe not my wording, my fault as the author of the content.  It's probably because while I did address the fact that challenges are more than just the make up of mechanical coponents, it wasn't as clear within the pargraph I refered to it in.  You are just stating that challenges are something you still include just the formation of them is different.  Unfortunately you still didn’t answer my question, but I do look forward to reading your thoughts still.

I meant no offense Chaosfang.  I just noticed all the posts about "how we play DnD in XYZ respect"  have had a lot of elements 13th age in your responses recently.

Like I said, I really, really like the system. Mechanically sound, excellent fluff, lots of wiggle room and good advice for DMs.  Can't help it if I like it so much that I keep on referencing it, just like how I also like 4E so much that it's another system I tend to reference.

Also, something I just noticed a minute ago.  What PCs have problems taking encounters 4 levels higher than them?  I know at Gencon I through a Lv+9 encounter at a group of PCs and they won pretty handily.  It really isn't that hard to fight above level creatures if you just play well. 

Good for you.  Not every body "plays well" though, and assuming that the average (casual) game has PCs optimized well enough to hit same-level opponents 90% of the time is a bit much to expect.



Shouldn't be hard to expect your players to use their powers semi-well at all.  I run a game for a group that is quite un-optimized (read casual) and they handle creatures 4 levels above them without much of an issue.  In general I just don't see it as a problem (with the one exception being Level+4 Soldiers against people who primarily or only attack AC).  I guess I was just meaning to chime in on "Level+4 isn't hard enough to warrant changing the rules of the game".
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
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