What do DMs have to do in 5E?

To me it looks like we are going back to a time when DMs had to do many jobs that a lot of people consider to be the developers jobs. What do DMs have to do in 5E so far?

1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.

2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.

3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)

4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)

5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.

6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.

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

1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.

2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.

3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)

4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)

5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.

6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.

Can you think of anything else?




those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?
7) Run boring monsters that have one or no special abilities.

As a DM, I was kind of bored running the encounters I ran. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.
Howdy folks,

Before we start getting into flame war territory, let's dial back the "good DM/bad DM" language and stick to the topic.

Thanks.  

All around helpful simian

To me it looks like we are going back to a time when DMs had to do many jobs that a lot of people consider to be the developers jobs. What do DMs have to do in 5E so far?



Many of those things are NOT the developer's jobs, though.


1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.



Do you stack your books in the middle of the table and stare at them, waiting for SOMETHING to happen? No! YOU must put effort in the game and PLAY it. Nobody from WotC is going to come over to your house and run your game for you. YOU as the DM breathe life into the NPCs.


2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.



Yes, because YOU know your friends better than anyone else. There ARE guidelines, you have to choose to use them and not ignore all the DM advice that's out there.


3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)



Sometimes stuff happens that you can't control. Just as the players have to plan for unknown encounters ("Should I take sleep, light, web or hold person today?"), so must the DM plan for unknown actions by the players. It's the nature of the game.


4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)



You are never required to fudge dice rolls. Nor is it ever suggested you always fudge rolls. Sometimes you want to keep a character or NPC alive for dramatic roleplaying reasons.


5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.



Yes, it's called "Being a Dungeon Master running his game."


6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.



You are free to change those. The books/rules are printed on paper, not stone.

Can you think of anything else?



What you describe is the basic functions of being a DM. If you don't want to, or can't be the DM, don't be the DM. Always be a player. You only get out of the game what you put in. Being DM has ALWAYS involved work. Game designers can't do your DM job for you. YOU have to step up and be the DM.

;)

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Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinon an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. (AD&D) is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek the use of imagination and creativity.... In all cases, however, the reader should understand that AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which an fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously. For fun, excitement and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed.As a realistic simulation of things from the realm of make-believe or even as a reflection of midieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure. Readers who seek the later must search elsewhere. - Gary Gygax. 1e DMG.
those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.

Interesting.

When i first started DMing, I had no prior experience other than playing one session of the game. Nobody held my hand or told me what to do. I just took the DMG and the MM and went to town. Any guesses as to which edition it was?

In my opinion, if the game is not such that a group of friends that have never played an rpg before can go to a bookstore, pick it up, and start running a decent session that weekend.... then the game is a waste of ink and the product line deserves to be mothballed until somebody can design a version of if that CAN make what I described actually happen.
I'll agree with Crazy_Monkey in general there.

As to the topic, the thing the game needs to do is be accessable and usable by both experienced or inspired DMs, as well as Novice, or less imaginable DMs. For one thing, not everyone wants to DM, so someone willing to DM should be encouraged, whether they are a veteran or a novice. For another, your area may not have a DM willing to mentor someone new, or even if they are, the scheduling is hard enough to get a game going, given the world we have today, so the mentoring may never happy. Finally, you may not like the DMing style of your current DM(s) which is why you want to pick up the Screen and do it yourself...you need to have the tools to do the best job you can.

I Teach "How to DM" Seminars at Cons and such, doesn't mean that I get through to every participant in the area who might want to learn DMing. Doesn't even mean that My DMing style and beliefs are the right ones, no matter My or any other DM's pedigree of the Shield. For DMs to pick up their own style of DMing, the tools need to provide as much help as possible...learn from what has come before, so the DM can put more focus into their individual Style, and less into the Balancing of the game initially. That is the beauty of a Balanced system from the DM's side of things. Even long time DMs that I know found they had more time to imagine their world and work on hooks and sideplots and character development with their players because of the fact that 4e gave them more tools and the underlying math to use those tools when it came to Balancing the game.
Want continued support for 4e, check this out, 4e Lives and Breaths

Check out MY eZine, Random Encounters Seuss (lordseussmd on YM)
To me it looks like we are going back to a time when DMs had to do many jobs that a lot of people consider to be the developers jobs. What do DMs have to do in 5E so far?

1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.

2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.

3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)

4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)

5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.

6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.

Can you think of anything else?




those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



That's an easy one. The game shouldn't be designed around awesome DMs that can do 50 things at once. It should be designed so that beginner and mediocre DMs can play too, especially if they want to get the next generation of players. Many people take years to become decent DMs and many more to become good at it. The game shouldn't be designed around that premise. Not to mention many DMs don't have the time or want to put in that kind of effort even if they are awesome DMs...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I'm probably going to get a vacation from responding to a VCL, but here goes anyway...

To me it looks like we are going back to a time when DMs had to do many jobs that a lot of people consider to be the developers jobs. What do DMs have to do in 5E so far?



Many of those things are NOT the developer's jobs, though.



They actually are.


1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.



Do you stack your books in the middle of the table and stare at them, waiting for SOMETHING to happen? No! YOU must put effort in the game and PLAY it. Nobody from WotC is going to come over to your house and run your game for you. YOU as the DM breathe life into the NPCs.



No, and neither do I hand one of my nephews a toy car a race track and an action figure and tell the other to use their imagination and to go play together. I also don't play favorites to the nephew without toys just to compensate because I didn't divy up the toys equally. Seriously find two kids that are playing together and give one a toy and tell the other one to just 'use your imagination' and see what ensues...


2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.



Yes, because YOU know your friends better than anyone else. There ARE guidelines, you have to choose to use them and not ignore all the DM advice that's out there.



Sure I can do this just as I can change the math of the game to reflect a more balanced system (as many had to do in previous editions), it doesn't mean I should have to do that. The game should take into account the floor and ceiling of optimization and design accordingly so the DM doesn't have to. I mean which is more work 80,000 DMs balancing encounters or WotC with their 5-10 employees balancing the game for those 80,000 DMs?


3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)



Sometimes stuff happens that you can't control. Just as the players have to plan for unknown encounters ("Should I take sleep, light, web or hold person today?"), so must the DM plan for unknown actions by the players. It's the nature of the game.



Its not really the nature of the game. The nature of the game is for players and DM to sit down and have fun telling a story together, from the DM side many DMs are not having fun when every 3rd plot is destroyed because the developers didn't balance a spell or two (by the way Hold Person and spells like it become more useful in the most recent packet as players level than less because spell save DCs scale with level and spell save bonuses don't scale).


4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)



You are never required to fudge dice rolls. Nor is it ever suggested you always fudge rolls. Sometimes you want to keep a character or NPC alive for dramatic roleplaying reasons.



Yes, and if you can't do that within the system you are required to fudge rolls which is the same as house ruling and its not occasionally in the play test packets we've seen so far, its constantly because the combats are either too easy or too hard due to the hit point math. This is something that needs to be taken care of by the developers, not 80,000 DMs at their individual tables.


5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.



Yes, it's called "Being a Dungeon Master running his game."



Its called extra work that DMs shouldn't have to do because the develoers know better. They should know how the math works out and what the chances are for unoptimized and optimized characters to succeed and build around that or lower the difference between floor and ceiling. Again who should fix this 80,000 DMs or 10 developers?


6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.



You are free to change those. The books/rules are printed on paper, not stone.



I'm not going to pay for a game that I have to house rule constantly to make work. There are at least 6 areas that I would have to house rule to make the game work as of the latest packet probably more, because I'm sure I missed some. How much should I have to house rule to make the game work (not change the flavor like banning elves or Warlords or whatever)? It should be none out of the box.

Can you think of anything else?



What you describe is the basic functions of being a DM. If you don't want to, or can't be the DM, don't be the DM. Always be a player. You only get out of the game what you put in. Being DM has ALWAYS involved work. Game designers can't do your DM job for you. YOU have to step up and be the DM.

;)



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



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.

Interesting.

When i first started DMing, I had no prior experience other than playing one session of the game. Nobody held my hand or told me what to do. I just took the DMG and the MM and went to town. Any guesses as to which edition it was?



1e?

 
In my opinion, if the game is not such that a group of friends that have never played an rpg before can go to a bookstore, pick it up, and start running a decent session that weekend.... then the game is a waste of ink and the product line deserves to be mothballed until somebody can design a version of if that CAN make what I described actually happen.




Amen. 
Personally I started playing when I was 11.  I'd seen this interesting looking game (1e) on the shelves of the book stores one summer.  So when Christmas rolled around I put it on the wish list.
Grandma ended up getting me the Basic set.
And I've been gaming ever since.

I had no one to teach me how to DM.  Or even how to play.  Let alone how to plot out a story....  It was just myself, my brother, our cousin, & a friend.  All with exactly ZERO xp.  It'd be 3 more years before we ever met another D&D player!
But if we were going to play this odd game?  Then one of us had to be the DM.  The reason I was the initial DM?  Because it was my set of books....

those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.

Interesting.

When i first started DMing, I had no prior experience other than playing one session of the game. Nobody held my hand or told me what to do. I just took the DMG and the MM and went to town. Any guesses as to which edition it was?



1e?

 
In my opinion, if the game is not such that a group of friends that have never played an rpg before can go to a bookstore, pick it up, and start running a decent session that weekend.... then the game is a waste of ink and the product line deserves to be mothballed until somebody can design a version of if that CAN make what I described actually happen.




Amen. 
Personally I started playing when I was 11.  I'd seen this interesting looking game (1e) on the shelves of the book stores one summer.  So when Christmas rolled around I put it on the wish list.
Grandma ended up getting me the Basic set.
And I've been gaming ever since.

I had no one to teach me how to DM.  Or even how to play.  Let alone how to plot out a story....  It was just myself, my brother, our cousin, & a friend.  All with exactly ZERO xp.  It'd be 3 more years before we ever met another D&D player!
But if we were going to play this odd game?  Then one of us had to be the DM.  The reason I was the initial DM?  Because it was my set of books....




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

1-5 on the OP's list is just DMing. It's D&D's advantage over computer games - a living breathing adaptable DM. When your PC's 1 shot the BBEG you just have to run with it - have back up or just let the PCs win. Sometimes they get lucky.

As for 6, yeah that needs fixing, it appears. Spell DCs shouldnt just scale up and monster defences stay the same.
those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.

Interesting.

When i first started DMing, I had no prior experience other than playing one session of the game. Nobody held my hand or told me what to do. I just took the DMG and the MM and went to town. Any guesses as to which edition it was?



1e?

 
In my opinion, if the game is not such that a group of friends that have never played an rpg before can go to a bookstore, pick it up, and start running a decent session that weekend.... then the game is a waste of ink and the product line deserves to be mothballed until somebody can design a version of if that CAN make what I described actually happen.




Amen. 
Personally I started playing when I was 11.  I'd seen this interesting looking game (1e) on the shelves of the book stores one summer.  So when Christmas rolled around I put it on the wish list.
Grandma ended up getting me the Basic set.
And I've been gaming ever since.

I had no one to teach me how to DM.  Or even how to play.  Let alone how to plot out a story....  It was just myself, my brother, our cousin, & a friend.  All with exactly ZERO xp.  It'd be 3 more years before we ever met another D&D player!
But if we were going to play this odd game?  Then one of us had to be the DM.  The reason I was the initial DM?  Because it was my set of books....




The real question is how long did it take you to master the DM side of the game to the point where you didn't accidentally kill your players or the players weren't able to accidentally destroy your adventure?

It was 4E, actually, I ain't that old. ;)

That was my point, though. 4E made it extremely easy and intuitive to DM. I mean, I had friggin 7 players in my first game and even had to modify some monster stats (take a level off the BBEG) on the fly at one point..... And my game went FINE.

May I also point out that I spent a whopping 30 minutes of prep for each session, usually an hour or two before the game? Yeah. It really was that easy to DM, even for a complete newbie like me.

If Next cannot replicate this experience, then I think the product line should be mothballed. 
those things are easy for a good dm to do whats the point of this thread?



So this is D&D: Grognard Edition, where new players need not be DM? I was a DM my first time playing an actual PnP RPG; my only experience with D&D had been the Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale computer games.




the best way to learn to dm is to become a player first, master the player rules, then mentor with a dm. to water down and destroy a system to make anyone a dm should not be the goal of any rpg.

Interesting.

When i first started DMing, I had no prior experience other than playing one session of the game. Nobody held my hand or told me what to do. I just took the DMG and the MM and went to town. Any guesses as to which edition it was?



1e?

 
In my opinion, if the game is not such that a group of friends that have never played an rpg before can go to a bookstore, pick it up, and start running a decent session that weekend.... then the game is a waste of ink and the product line deserves to be mothballed until somebody can design a version of if that CAN make what I described actually happen.




Amen. 
Personally I started playing when I was 11.  I'd seen this interesting looking game (1e) on the shelves of the book stores one summer.  So when Christmas rolled around I put it on the wish list.
Grandma ended up getting me the Basic set.
And I've been gaming ever since.

I had no one to teach me how to DM.  Or even how to play.  Let alone how to plot out a story....  It was just myself, my brother, our cousin, & a friend.  All with exactly ZERO xp.  It'd be 3 more years before we ever met another D&D player!
But if we were going to play this odd game?  Then one of us had to be the DM.  The reason I was the initial DM?  Because it was my set of books....




The real question is how long did it take you to master the DM side of the game to the point where you didn't accidentally kill your players or the players weren't able to accidentally destroy your adventure?

*shrug*

I've never had that issue in 4E or 13th Age, although I did have a TPK once because of bad tactics on the part of the players (they stayed bunched up when a bunch of kobold slingers were lobbing AOEs at them).

Now, I DID kill our paladin in my first campaign but that's because he charged an elite goblin berserker while at 5 hp. The berserker crit and took him to negative bloodied in 1 hit. But, hey, stuff happens. Lol 

Note that said paladin could have cast lay on hands on himself before charging, so it was really his own damn fault. Lol
I have a couple grognard friends that would never consider DMing, and they ended up running a campaign in 4E. I am not stating 4E it the ultimate solution, but please developers take it as a desgin cue.

From my perspective I learned to DM by jumping into a pit full of spikes. But overall, making a game easier to DM or introduce to new players will contribute to the long term health of the game.

At the moment the biggest flaw is monster design and BA, and it will force the DM to make alot of changes so the party does not walk over encounters.  
The play test is designed for those who are familiar with the game. I am certain when a final product is released they will give better guidelines for the DM. The DMG2 4e is the best DM tool I've ever read and WotC won't throw that advice away.
I do agree that monsters could use a hand and looking to 4e would be an asset. Creating a format to easily add Fighter or Rogue or Wizard levels on to monsters would help scale them against higher level groups.
As to BA, that is the best thing they could have done to the math of the game! Getting damage output right has been the challenge since BA (and I think they are close now) Climbing a ladder is always the same difficulty no matter your current level. Same goes for a goblin, just because you are 20th level doesn't make him more of a goblin, nor does it make that knife in his hands unable to hurt you. Your skill is what makes that ladder easy to climb. Your skill is what make the goblin unable to knife you in one blow.
I find the latest play test has been the easiest to DM. I never once had to refer to the rules (the players did have to clarify spells) and BA made determining DC easy.
The one thing D&D could use is more NPC Interaction guidelines and Morale guidelines. Some conditions for friendly or hostile would help many DMs and players better understand what can be done with Charisma. 
  

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of any failed saving throw, including but not limited to petrification, poison, death magic, dragon breath, spells, or vorpal sword-related decapitations.

I'm confused. Why is it not obvious that 5e is the easiest to DM version of DND ever. Some of that (I hope) is because it's not done yet and more complexity is coming. In response to Lokaire's questions, tho:


1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.


True of all versions, but simpler system makes it way easier.



2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.


Again, aside from bestiary still being too weak. Characters are simple, monsters are simple, no need for deep thought. They have guidelines and admittedly they are weak, but unlike previous versions the math behind group power is remarkably basic.


3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)


I agree this is a problem, but it's really a problem with a playtest, not the game (yet). Either way these kinds of weird imbalances have little effect on my games, I know they are there and I adjust the encounter as I go to account for them.


4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)


If a game isn't swingy, it isn't dangerous. There is no pressure on the group, and no sensation their actions matter.


5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.


Not even sure what his means... Why? Is it your goal that all groups and varying charachters have the same chance to accomplish something? Why?


6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.


Saves are a big problem with the game, right now. Lets hope that's on the list of things to be corrected. At minimum spellcasting should have some logic behind it, ie. identify the creatures weakness and hit them with the right type of spell, right now it's just alll pretty much works great.


Can you think of anything else?


Not really, at least not much about the direction the system is heading. I can think of lots of reasons why 5e is a lot easier then other systems I have tried to run, including other dnd:

1. Incredibly simple combat structure
2. Simple monster abilities
3. Characters are very easy to evaluate both in terms of capability and power level
4. Loose mechanics makes for easy improvizational effects
5. Very low book keeping, most encounters I don't even have to write anything


My mind is a deal-breaker.

I'm probably going to get a vacation from responding to a VCL, but here goes anyway...



Why? It's a discussion...



1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.



Do you stack your books in the middle of the table and stare at them, waiting for SOMETHING to happen? No! YOU must put effort in the game and PLAY it. Nobody from WotC is going to come over to your house and run your game for you. YOU as the DM breathe life into the NPCs.



No, and neither do I hand one of my nephews a toy car a race track and an action figure and tell the other to use their imagination and to go play together. I also don't play favorites to the nephew without toys just to compensate because I didn't divy up the toys equally. Seriously find two kids that are playing together and give one a toy and tell the other one to just 'use your imagination' and see what ensues...


Some form of imagination is required to play. It's not a computer game where everything is presented to the players. As I alluded to, it's not a passive, watch TV activity. There must be participation.


2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.



Yes, because YOU know your friends better than anyone else. There ARE guidelines, you have to choose to use them and not ignore all the DM advice that's out there.



Sure I can do this just as I can change the math of the game to reflect a more balanced system (as many had to do in previous editions), it doesn't mean I should have to do that. The game should take into account the floor and ceiling of optimization and design accordingly so the DM doesn't have to. I mean which is more work 80,000 DMs balancing encounters or WotC with their 5-10 employees balancing the game for those 80,000 DMs?


Not everyone is an optimizer. Besides, the end goal/result of "optimizing" is to have the One True Way. That is, there will be ONLY one viable fighter, for example. Want to build a fighter your way? Too bad. The Optimized Fighter is better. So, why have choices at all?

Optimizing is there for those who want it, and those that do optimized actually enjoy finding the combintations rather than having it all handed to them.


3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)



Sometimes stuff happens that you can't control. Just as the players have to plan for unknown encounters ("Should I take sleep, light, web or hold person today?"), so must the DM plan for unknown actions by the players. It's the nature of the game.



Its not really the nature of the game. The nature of the game is for players and DM to sit down and have fun telling a story together, from the DM side many DMs are not having fun when every 3rd plot is destroyed because the developers didn't balance a spell or two (by the way Hold Person and spells like it become more useful in the most recent packet as players level than less because spell save DCs scale with level and spell save bonuses don't scale).


Sure, but you can't account for nights when the players roll lots of 20's. Or a bad night where nobody rolls over a 4.

Plus, the developers HAVE said do not abuse the rules as the game is not fun when such exploits are used. 4e used the old 3e Bag of Rats as an example. If the players are doing things the rules allow, the DM is permitted to change the rule or remove it. Paladin always using detect alignment on everyone so the DM can't plant an NPC to betray the party later? The NPC has a ring or some such doodad that hides his alignment.


4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)



You are never required to fudge dice rolls. Nor is it ever suggested you always fudge rolls. Sometimes you want to keep a character or NPC alive for dramatic roleplaying reasons.



Yes, and if you can't do that within the system you are required to fudge rolls which is the same as house ruling and its not occasionally in the play test packets we've seen so far, its constantly because the combats are either too easy or too hard due to the hit point math. This is something that needs to be taken care of by the developers, not 80,000 DMs at their individual tables.


We old school gamers are just used to making adjustments, I suppose.


5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.



Yes, it's called "Being a Dungeon Master running his game."



Its called extra work that DMs shouldn't have to do because the develoers know better. They should know how the math works out and what the chances are for unoptimized and optimized characters to succeed and build around that or lower the difference between floor and ceiling. Again who should fix this 80,000 DMs or 10 developers?


I think it's the old red boxed set that said there is not game board for D&D because there would be no way to make a board big enough to contain everything in the world. The developers can't possibly anticipate every single possibility that individual games contain. DCs on the fly give enormous flexability. Otherwise, we'd be stuck looking up multiple conditions and cross refrencing all the variables. Walking across a rope bridge, DC 14. +2 to the DC for each board that's missing. I think that list is on page 72 of volume 3. Then there's wind, which is in Volume 1... page 34. Ah, +3. And we'll have to look up the Weight Carried On Rope Bridge table. What's the quality of the rope? Is it old and frayed? Is it in fact a trap, and soaked in oil? Do the boards have rot grubs in them? Oh, and if they are being chased by monsters. And so on and so on. Without looking all that stuff up, the DM considers the situation as a whole. "Hm. DC 17 to cross the bridge." It makes for a smoother game.


6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.



You are free to change those. The books/rules are printed on paper, not stone.



I'm not going to pay for a game that I have to house rule constantly to make work. There are at least 6 areas that I would have to house rule to make the game work as of the latest packet probably more, because I'm sure I missed some. How much should I have to house rule to make the game work (not change the flavor like banning elves or Warlords or whatever)? It should be none out of the box.


And yet, people do that with 1e, 2e, 3e, AND 4e. And if they take what they learn from one roleplaying game, they'll apply it to other RPGs they play.

Can you think of anything else?



What you describe is the basic functions of being a DM. If you don't want to, or can't be the DM, don't be the DM. Always be a player. You only get out of the game what you put in. Being DM has ALWAYS involved work. Game designers can't do your DM job for you. YOU have to step up and be the DM.

;)



What I describe are things I don't want nor should have to deal with in order to get the game to work. I can do all of the above things, but I'm certainly not going to pay for a game where I have to do them. Its just not worth the money if I have to put that much time into it. If I can pick up the system learn it in a day or two and build adventures in a couple hours then that's the game I would pick up. If I have to house rule it and throw out entire adventures because of bad game math or broken spells and features I'm not going to buy it, its pretty much that simple...


As I suggested, you don't have to be DM then. Half the fun, and the reason people take D&D so personally is the involvment in creating new rules. Even house rules have advantages. You show your house rules to other players who use them, and they spread it around and someday you'll see a printed game played exactly the way you played it years ago.
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Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinon an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. (AD&D) is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek the use of imagination and creativity.... In all cases, however, the reader should understand that AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which an fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously. For fun, excitement and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed.As a realistic simulation of things from the realm of make-believe or even as a reflection of midieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure. Readers who seek the later must search elsewhere. - Gary Gygax. 1e DMG.
1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.


I had to do this as DM in every edition.

2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.


I design encounters as suggested and then report the results because this is a playtest, not a game.

3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)


I don't design around anything.  I run the encounter and then report the results because this is a playtest, not a game.

4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)


I don't fudge.  I run the encounter and then report the results because this is a playtest, not a game.

5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.


I use the DCs as written and then report the results because this is a playtest, not a game.

6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.


I use the DCs as written and then report the results because this is a playtest, not a game.

Can you think of anything else?


7) Have fun playtesting the game.
It was 4E, actually, I ain't that old. ;)

That was my point, though. 4E made it extremely easy and intuitive to DM. I mean, I had friggin 7 players in my first game and even had to modify some monster stats (take a level off the BBEG) on the fly at one point..... And my game went FINE.

May I also point out that I spent a whopping 30 minutes of prep for each session, usually an hour or two before the game? Yeah. It really was that easy to DM, even for a complete newbie like me.

If Next cannot replicate this experience, then I think the product line should be mothballed. 

True.   4e actually /was/ D&D's attempt to create a modern, accessible, new-player-friendly D&D.  5e is not.  It's an attempt to consolidate a fragmented, and mostly older and very experienced (and very set in their ways) base.  

I wouldn't be surprised, for that matter, if WotC is underestimating the number of fans who, like you, started with 4e.

 

 

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It was 4E, actually, I ain't that old. ;)

That was my point, though. 4E made it extremely easy and intuitive to DM. I mean, I had friggin 7 players in my first game and even had to modify some monster stats (take a level off the BBEG) on the fly at one point..... And my game went FINE.

May I also point out that I spent a whopping 30 minutes of prep for each session, usually an hour or two before the game? Yeah. It really was that easy to DM, even for a complete newbie like me.

If Next cannot replicate this experience, then I think the product line should be mothballed. 

True.   4e actually /was/ D&D's attempt to create a modern, accessible, new-player-friendly D&D.  5e is not.  It's an attempt to consolidate a fragmented, and mostly older and very experienced (and very set in their ways) base.  

I wouldn't be surprised, for that matter, if WotC is underestimating the number of fans who, like you, started with 4e.


Oh, I didn't start gaming because of 4E. I started DMing because of 4E. And I am sure I'm not the only one.
What you describe is the basic functions of being a DM.

I agree.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

So sounds like basic DM 101 to me. 

 Last game I ran I had my 3 pages of typed notes and barely touched a rule book except the PHB for spell descriptions. That was Myth and Magic though and it is d20 AD&D so it has the best of both worlds for the most part.

 Odds are I will not be DMing D&DN though as it is shaping up to be bland and boring. Burned out on Pathfinder so I will take a break form that for a bit, did not love 4th so d20 AD&D seems a better option than D&DN as it has most of D&DNs advantages and not as many of the disadvantages. Also feels like D&D which D&DN does not.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I think most of you are missing the point. The question we should ask is not "Can the DM do this?" or "Did you have to do it back then?". Its "what does the game lose if the DM doesn't have to do this?" and if the asnwer is little to nothing then it should be taken care of in the rules. For instance:

1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.

What do you lose if every class in the game has out of combat features? I can't think of a thing. I can think of a few benefits though.

2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.

What do you lose if you didn't have to design encounters with specific parties in mind. What if you could use any encounter from any at level supplement and just throw it out there for your party? I can't think of a single thing you would lose.

3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)

What do you lose if you don't have to design encounters around spells and features that don't work numerically? I mean if there was a way to make hold person not an encounter ender what would you lose out of that except that the players don't destroy your boss fight in a single round? Nothing. You lose nothing.

4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)

What do you lose if the game is so well made that you never have to fudge rolls to keep your players or NPCs alive? Absolutely nothing.

5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.

What do you lose if the DCs work for any party rather than having to take the extra time to be customized for individual characters and groups? Absolutely nothing. You actually gain back lost time.

6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.

What do you lose if you can use any combination of monsters (within relevant guidelines) instead of having to pick magic resistant monsters to challenge your players? Nothing. You lose nothing at all from the game.

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


I think a big hurdle you are running into is because certain DMs that had to work through issues like these in older systems and then found a way through. A part of them wants to feel that working through those problems was special and important (and right to do and even part of the game) and not just the result of poor game design in that specific area. A lot of them wouldn't have known that the game should have been better in these areas and don't want to accept that they should have demanded a better product.

It is like the early computer adopters that had to build their own computers by manually assembling motherboards and circuits. Some of them probably resisted the change to pre-assembled computers that you could buy off the shelf for the same reasons that some people oppose changes that make it easier to DM, they had to do it a certain way and learned valuable skills doing so (or had a good time when such skills were learned) and they don't see why a change is necessary. Not only that, but such changes may even ruin what the activity in the first place.

And of course, to add a wrinkle to this there are people who genuinely prefer a way that is unnecessarily cumbersome and difficult because they simply enjoy that sort of activity. For example, someone that really enjoys playing with circuits would likely always enjoy assembling a computer by putting together the parts, not because they thought this was the most effecient way to get a computer, but because they enjoyed it. I like very slow running strategy games that involve a tedious amount of paperwork because it scratches a certain strategic itch of mine, but I understand how to separate that itch from what most people expect out of a strategy game.
I think most of you are missing the point. The question we should ask is not "Can the DM do this?" or "Did you have to do it back then?". Its "what does the game lose if the DM doesn't have to do this?" and if the asnwer is little to nothing then it should be taken care of in the rules.

There's also the question, what do we gain if the DM doesn't have to do all this extra "design" work?  And the answer is:  we get more DMs.   More DMs mean more players can more easily find more games, means the hobby can grow more readily.  It also means players can afford to be a little picky about who's game they play in....

 

 

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After reading the OP's comments, all I could think about is how it sounds like a board game with someone who runs it :P Like House on the Haunted Hill. Someone is the bad guy and gets to kind of narrarate, but in the end the game really does everything for you. Point and click, really.

I, for one, am enjoying the freedom. But really this thread is about the differences in perspective. On one side, people see it as freedom, on the other side people see it as work. It's an unanswerable question, and should not be engaged in. IMO. 
My two copper.
I have a friend who didn't like 4E because it "held his hand" as a DM. But he's a gaming vet. I don't 100% agree with his DMing style either. Make of that what you will.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Why is it not obvious that 5e is the easiest to DM version of DND ever.


1. Because it's still a playtest, things can change.

2. Because 4e still exists.
In agreement with a lot of people on this thread, what the OP describes is essentially what a DM does. If you take away the freedom to do all of the things you're complaining about, many DMs like myself will not enjoy it. But apparently some don't enjoy it this way either. Is it possible to please both sides on this issue? I'm not sure it is without meeting halfway somehow and pleasing nobody.
The common base is to make it easy to DM. This allows new DMs to have an easy entry into the game, and for experienced DMs they can concentrate on other aspects like story and roleplay. Everyone benefits. For the holdouts that want to mess around with the rules, then they get their wish to. A game the is easy to DM leads to a solid foundation for monster design, etc. and when a change is made the results are easy to discern.
@Lokaire: while I do agree all these things are important, I'm more forgiving than you are at this stage of the development. I do however have some nuances on your positions.


1) Play to any characters that have to 'imagination' themselves out of combat.

What do you lose if every class in the game has out of combat features? I can't think of a thing. I can think of a few benefits though.



You don't lose anything. It actually makes each class more fun if everybody has a mix of combat and non-combat abilities.

But this leads to a question. Should all classes be able to contribute to each pillar equally? I think the game should support as many archetypes and types of adventurers as possible. It just happens that some adventurers serve a different purpose in the game than combat. Take Bilbo and Thorin for example. They're both travelling together but they're clearly not playing in the same ball park. One of them is a bad ass fighter and the other is a coward that's only here to chear the others up and cook for them.

If you design all classes to have equal contribution, you lose this level of flexibility on archetypes.

Which leads to your second point.


2) Design encounters without any real guidelines to fit the party and/or the group level of optimization.

What do you lose if you didn't have to design encounters with specific parties in mind. What if you could use any encounter from any at level supplement and just throw it out there for your party? I can't think of a single thing you would lose.



To have workable guidelines, you need to assume that each party member contributes equally to combat. As I mentioned in point 1), that means losing a lot of potential archetypes.

This is also a pure fantasy. You can't mathematically model player skill so your guidelines will never take this into account. Synergies are also a big problem. They're very difficult to model for obvious combinatory reasons, and even if you did somehow manage to include them in your model, you have no gargantee that your players are going to use them, so your guidelines are going to be flawed. And lastly, there's tactics. We want the game to be tactical right? If good tactics has an impact on the outcome of the combat, then so does bad tactics. Players that don't use tactics because they don't care or they're stupid will have a harder time than those that use tactics. So your guidelines are messed up.

The only encounter guidelines you will ever get are based on a mathematical model. You assume 4 combat-oriented characters with the same contribution to combat and design monsters/encounter guidelines accordingly. 

There's another thing. You don't want each combat to be the same. You want variety. You want to be able to adjust the number of monsters, use different weakness or strengths, etc... It's impossible to have all characters contribute equally if you want to have different types of encounter. A wizard will be better than a fighter against big groups of monsters, an assassin will be better if you manage to sneak up on your opponents, etc...

I think you're too much of a statistician. You seem to want perfect statistical series that work in every situation. That's a pretty boring game in my opinion.

Encounter guidelines that always works means losing tactics, smart play, archetypes, and encounter variety. That's a heavy price to pay for guidelines in my opinion. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to have encounter guidelines. Something like in 4th edition would work but they would first need to get the math right.


3) Design encounters (combat and non-combat) around spells and features that don't work numerically (BBEG just got one shotted by hold person for example)

What do you lose if you don't have to design encounters around spells and features that don't work numerically? I mean if there was a way to make hold person not an encounter ender what would you lose out of that except that the players don't destroy your boss fight in a single round? Nothing. You lose nothing.



You lose drama, gore and gritty.

That doesn't mean there's no solution to the problem. You're good at math, you understand the difference between 10d6 "effect damage" vs. a threshold of 45 and 4d6+21 vs. a threshold of 45. I would prefer if all of these save or suck spells used random die rolls and compare it to a threshold. In a gritty and gore module, you roll lots of dice with a higher statistical probability of bad things happening, in a heroic fantasy module you roll less dice. And everybody can adjust the number of dice rolled to fit their playstyle.


4) Fudge rolls because the combat is either too hard or too easy (swingy)

What do you lose if the game is so well made that you never have to fudge rolls to keep your players or NPCs alive? Absolutely nothing.



Well, as you said, if the statistical series are designed so that your PCs never die, you lose just that. Your PCs never die . That's a big loss for gory and gritty games.


5) Make up check DCs on the fly because the number don't work for any party, they have to be customized to the group you are playing with.

What do you lose if the DCs work for any party rather than having to take the extra time to be customized for individual characters and groups? Absolutely nothing. You actually gain back lost time.



You shouldn't adjust the DCs. Period. That's called DM fiat. If your player invested lots of "skill points" to be good at climbing, he should be good at climbing. I really hated in 3rd edition/4th edition how the DCs magically seemed to scale with level.

Level 1: I pick the poor quality lock. DC 5 check.
Level 20: I pick the poor quality lock. DC 25 check.

Not fun. Just as goblins are no longer a threat at higher levels, so are poor quality locks, climbing up a tree, etc...


6) Mix and match monsters to take into account how spell save DCs scale but monster ability scores don't.

What do you lose if you can use any combination of monsters (within relevant guidelines) instead of having to pick magic resistant monsters to challenge your players? Nothing. You lose nothing at all from the game.



You're being a drama queen here and you're forgetting that this is still a playtest. What you're describing is the bound accuracy model. Why don't you have a problem with the fighter's attack bonus getting higher but the monster's AC are not?

The bound accuracy model uses hit points to mesure the difference in skill. It's still work in progress and it's far from perfect. It's something new so you can't expect the game designers to get it right the first time. Spell save DC scales but hit point thresholds and damage don't unless you use higher spell slots. That's where the balancing factor is and that's how it's supposed to be in the bound accuracy model.

But you're right, there is a problem with spellcasters in the current package. Some spells don't use the bound accuracy model (no hit point thresholds like Web) and some spells don't get obsolete (like buffs). Part of their idea right now is to have some planned obsolescence with spells. Your lower level spell slots are supposed to become useless because of damage and hit point thresholds. But that doesn't work well with utility magic and buffs. They hopefully will realize this and use power swaps like in 4th edition and spells that scale with level like in 4th edition. And since you also want your spellcasters to get more utility magic as you gain levels, then they might come to the conclusion that they need to seperate battle magic and non-battle magic (a modified version of 4th edition rituals for example).

The game designers are on to something with the bound accuracy model and it's our job to give them feedback on it. Give them time to make it right and don't whine like this because they didn't get it right the first time. Working with new concepts is usually an interative process. It takes time.

I think this whole bound accuracy thing is really interesting but it's kind of redundant with the d20. The bound accuracy model is more roll lots of die and roll high instead of roll 1d20 and roll high. I'm fine with it, statistically it's a lot more interesting than the very swingy d20 but it might be too far from traditional D&D.


Now they did a number of these things in 4E and some didn't like it, but that doesn't mean they can't fix the problems in a different way. I would understand peoples anger if they went back to the 4E way of doing things to fix these problems, but they don't have to. They can find better solutions to these problems...Smile



They'll eventually get there. It's a shame they didn't start by looking at what went wrong in 4th edition though, it probably would have saved a lot of time. Instead, they started with AD&D and now they're exploring ways to improve the model. I really understand why so many 4th edition players are so annoyed at this stage of the development. I wouldn't be surprised if at a very early stage of the development, 4th edition looked like the current playtest package.

If they had started with 4th edition, the probably would have kept most of the concepts and solved these problems:
1) Magic sucks.
2) Non-casters suck.
3) The pace at which you gain new abilities is too low.
4) Rituals offer no interesting resource management challenge. A 25 gp ritual is an at-will ritual at once you make it past a certain level. And using a monetary resource means rituals are competing with your combat abilities.
5) Some spells need to use both the combat model and the non-combat model. Invisibility and Fly are good examples of such spells. A wizard that can't use invisibility to solve a problem is not a D&D wizard.
6) Some players want combat and non-combat options oriented characters.
7) Multiclassing sucks.
8) Reinventing the fluff is a bad idea.
9) Fix other minor issues (feat bloats, hit point bloat, etc...).
lokiare, I mostly agree with you - the 'this is what a DM does' is just compensating for a lack of effort on the designers part. I mean, if a DM likes doing that stuff, he can still do it even if the designers fill in those missing parts.

The board game comments from some always get me - as if a badly put together board game is somehow transcendentally greater than a board game.

You're just playing a board game, folks. Letting it be a badly put together board game doesn't make it something else.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

lokiare, I mostly agree with you - the 'this is what a DM does' is just compensating for a lack of effort on the designers part. I mean, if a DM likes doing that stuff, he can still do it even if the designers fill in those missing parts.

The board game comments from some always get me - as if a badly put together board game is somehow transcendentally greater than a board game.

You're just playing a board game, folks. Letting it be a badly put together board game doesn't make it something else.




and a thousand crutches does not a good system or good dm make.
I DMd a 10th level playtest last night and I felt absolutely liberated.   The game flowed really well.  Players had a great time, and in about 4 1/2 hours we accomplished a lot, completing an entire adventure.  We finished 6 combat encounters, some roleplaying between PCs, some exploration dealing with a number of traps and a puzzle.  To add to it, the players didn't even see the characters they were playing until we started playing and we were all not so familiar with the spell effects.   I created the adventure in about 2 hours (including making and populating the dungeon map in RPGTO -- I already had monster tokens for most of the monsters).   It was not difficult to adjudicate player actions, and even though some spells are still overpowered (Polymorph), we had a blast.   

The game is progressing in the right direction.    

Ok, I have a ton of years of experience DMing and playing, but if the game becomes too mechanical and DM proof, I fear it will feel more like a board game and less like a roleplaying game.   

When I switched to DMing 4e after 3.5, I said "I'll never DM another version of D&D."  4e made DMing that much easier.    Now, playtesting D&DNext, I'm saying the same thing "I'll never DM another version of D&D."   It is making it easier for the DM.    Just my opinion.

Also, since I wasn't so familiar with all of the spells in the new packet, I asked one of my "rules lawyer" players to look up everything as we were playing.  He was happy as Eddie Money owning a travel agency, and it really made my life much easier.    When the final version of the game is published, it would be really helpful if spell effects could be added to character sheets or cards, etc. so that players can avoid having to look up effects.


     

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

lokiare, I mostly agree with you - the 'this is what a DM does' is just compensating for a lack of effort on the designers part. I mean, if a DM likes doing that stuff, he can still do it even if the designers fill in those missing parts.

The board game comments from some always get me - as if a badly put together board game is somehow transcendentally greater than a board game.

You're just playing a board game, folks. Letting it be a badly put together board game doesn't make it something else.




and a thousand crutches does not a good system or good dm make.



And a good RPG should not require an expert or experienced DM to run well.  I think this is what a lot of you are (IMHO rather condescendingly) missing.  Sure those of us with years (or decades for some of us) in DMing experience can make NEXT sing, but a lot of us could make any system sing.

What 4e did well, and IMO what NEXT does not is enable to new/inexperienced/mediocre DM to actually DM reasonable well with little prep.  If the game isn't easy and a joy to DM for the novice DM then few people will want to DM ultimately and the game will die.

-Polaris
For me it is more of a question of "what do I want to spend my time figuring out?".  

Do I want to spend my time making sure the math of the system works?  No

Do I want to spend my time making sure I've accounted for this game breaking set of abilities that 1 or 2 characters have access too while also keeping the "normal" characters still feel like they are a contributing part of the group?  No

Do I want to spenf my time fleshing out npc's and interesting locations, plot hooks, or other "world building"?  YES

The more time you have to spend doing the first 2 things the less time you have for the third.

The designers are getting paid to make a fun playable game and making me do THEIR job (making sure the system math works and making sure diffierent characters aren't wildly out of balance) isn't fun.  I don't mind doing some tweaking around the edges but the core should be solid.

There is also  the not so minor fact that the more you dump on dm's to fix your screwups the fewer dm's you will have.  The fewer dm's the worse the health of the game.
 
When you DM for the first time you are going to make mistakes.  I have never DMed a module without altering it based on the players.  I had a very good DM as a player and I remember DMing for the first time and when weird stuff started happening he would grin at me and say harder than it looks.
When you DM for the first time you are going to make mistakes.  I have never DMed a module without altering it based on the players.  I had a very good DM as a player and I remember DMing for the first time and when weird stuff started happening he would grin at me and say harder than it looks.



No one has said differently, but the attitude I am getting on this thread is not good.  It seems to amount to, "Because I had to walk two miles to school everyday in a driving blizard, then every should or they aren't real men" is off-putting to say the least.  Frankly a lot of us learned to DM long before the principles of good game design were really understood for RPGs and we suffered for it, and frankly I think our hobby suffered for it.

That can't be changed.

However, the game needs to be accessible and as easy as possible for novice people to DM as possible, or people these days simply won't bother to take the time, and effort to DM (which can be an awfully thankless task at times even at best).  I thought that 4e did an exceptional job at this.  Sure you could mess up as a novice DM in 4E (like in any RPG), but the game was DM friendly, prep was a snap, and you really had to work to really foul things up without knowing you were fouling things up.  That doesn't mean that DMs were equally good, but at least it put the grunt/scut work on the system and not the DM.

Sadly in this regard I see Next as a great step backwards and I think the game will suffer for it.

-Polaris