It's (not) all about the math

*sigh*
And once again, the same people scream about the same things.  I swear, if Mearls came out and said that they were planning on using a d20 to resolve attacks, certain starry-eyed people would run to the forums to scream about how broken the math was around a 20-sided die, and that they should obviously use a 3d6 with increasing number of dice for levels because it's obvious that the math is just better.
Math math math. Math math.  The Mathy math.

I have bad news. Math is easy.  It's dead easy at this level. It's not that 'basis' of anything, it's a support structure, and hardly the most important one.  I know, you don't believe it. After all, talking about math math math makes you feel like a smarty pants, but in reality, it's just myopic. Most players don't want tight math. Tight math requires tight controls on everything. It needs expected damage per level, expected wealth per level, expected bonuses per encounter, expected monster HPs per level, expected attacks per level.  

The tighter the math, the smaller the design space. The smaller the design space the less room there is for the things that have made D&D a cultural phenomenon for the past 40 years: imagination, insane stories, and having fun with your friends.  All the theorycrafting in the world won't help you if you aren't having any fun, and turning the game into a precision machine drains the fun for most people.

I know what I say won't matter. I know that one person or another will say, "if math is so easy, why isn't it fixed in the playtest documents I haven't even playtested?" And I can say, well, Chuckles the halfwit clown, that's because the designers, after 13 years, have finally cottoned onto the idea that the concepts need to be strong before you can build a support structure around it. You have to answer thousands of questions before you build up the math to support that playstyle. And for a lot of you, you won't like the answers they give. Even the much vaunted 4e was built this way: Heinsoo had a very particular playstyle he wanted to support. If you liked that style, you like 4e. If you didn't, 4e probably chafed you. Apparently, not as many people liked that playstyle as they wanted. Live and learn.

But Genius Super Brain Man, you say, Magic the Gathering is all about the math! And look how well they're doing!  Well, Chuckles, M:TG has a teeny, tiny design space. There aren't that many moving objects in the game. In an RPG, there are effectively an infinite number of interactions. You cannot build math around an infinite set of variables without a PhD. So the designers have to ask themselves, 'what things need to be described, and what things don't? Where are the points where the rules step in, and where are the points where they can be ignored?' This question gives a very different response than the assumptions of 3e and 4e, with their 'rules define the setting' and 'rules are the game'.  Some of the Chuckles and Chuckles disciples will call this 'mother may I' or Magical Tea Party. But they are not interesting people, so we ignore them.

Talking about math might be fun, but you know what's more fun?  Talking about ideas. Criticism is easy. Synthesis is hard.
+2

Math will not sell a game. I want the math to work out well in 5e, but I want the game to be exciting and engageing a hell of a lot more.
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
Preach it, brother!  Or sister.  Amen! 
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important. Your attack on the people who care about it only undermines the value of your own opinions. You come across more as someone who's mocking something that you don't understand. If you think that math doesn't actually matter to you, then why complain that it matters to other players? The people who harp on math here bring up valid issues with the game mechanics, but this thread contributes nothing. So stop beating your strawmen and actually bring some coherent critical analysis for a change.

P.S. As a designer I've found that math actually allows me to keep my "design space" open by allowing me to know what decisions actually limit or complicate my designs. Your argument, at least from this set of life-experience, is nonsense. It's like saying that knowing finance restricts an investor's options, or knowing physics limits what an engineer can build.
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important. Your attack on the people who care about it only undermines the value of your own opinions. You come across more as someone who's mocking something that you don't understand. If you think that math doesn't actually matter to you, then why complain that it matters to other players? The people who harp on math here bring up valid issues with the game mechanics, but this thread contributes nothing. So stop beating your strawmen and actually bring some coherent critical analysis for a change.



QFT

The math needs to be good enough that you don't notice it without trying.
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important. Your attack on the people who care about it only undermines the value of your own opinions. You come across more as someone who's mocking something that you don't understand. If you think that math doesn't actually matter to you, then why complain that it matters to other players? The people who harp on math here bring up valid issues with the game mechanics, but this thread contributes nothing. So stop beating your strawmen and actually bring some coherent critical analysis for a change.


I'm not saying the math isn't important. I'm saying that when someone poses the question "do you like feats" the answer shouldn't be "no because the examples they gave us aren't completely balanced". As a playtesting group, our job is to say what works and what doesn't and saying the math sucks doesn't actually fix anything.

If you'll look back, you'll see that I created an entire thread that restructured the base math of the game because I wanted it to look different. So I do care about math, but just saying the math is bad without addressing exactly how to fix it is pointless. 
The Oberoni fallacy only applies to broken rules, not rules you don't like. If a rule you don't like can be easily ignored, it should exist in the game for those who will enjoy it.
The most important part of DDN is getting the right assumptions for gamplay. And the assumption is that there are many styles of gameplay which branch off a core. Math doesn't have to be tight until the assumptions are set in. It should be half decent but not too tight and neat yet.

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

I take issue with the way your argument is presented - you are rather rude and demeaning to your fellow gamers who want to play a game that runs as smoothly as possible. But I think think there is an idea at the heart of your rant that I can agree with: The concept has to be there first, before we worry about finding the most effective math to describe that concept within the rules. Additionally, not every in world concept needs to be defined mathematically within the rules, and figuring out what we do and don't need math for is also an important step that needs to be taken before the specific math can be ironed out.

I think the real issue is that for a lot of posters here, the single most important factor in whether or not they will like Next is balance. If it isn't balanced, the will not play it, and that's really not too unreasonable. An RPG can be both imaginative and well balanced. But balance requires solid math, and the designers have shown that they think the math should only come after the concept is figured out.

It must be frustrating for those who want a mathematically balanced game to see what to them is the most important part of the game constantly sidelined, constantly told "oh, we'll get to that later, that's not as important as this other stuff." I mean, if you were constantly being told that the fluff didn't matter, and they'd figure out what the story and world was all going to be AFTER they figured out how to precisely balance all factors of the game, I bet you'd be pretty upset by it too. Try to remember that these "math players" are just frustrated, because they keep being told that what is most important to them is least important to the designers. And those who do want to see that math, try to remember that they will fix it eventually, but they are busy getting the basic idea first. They don't want to spend a ton of effort balancing something, only to find that it's unpopular in the surveys and has to be scrapped. Once they've got a concept that feels right and the community approves of, then they will find a way to balance those concepts.
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important. Your attack on the people who care about it only undermines the value of your own opinions. You come across more as someone who's mocking something that you don't understand. If you think that math doesn't actually matter to you, then why complain that it matters to other players? The people who harp on math here bring up valid issues with the game mechanics, but this thread contributes nothing. So stop beating your strawmen and actually bring some coherent critical analysis for a change.



QFT

The math needs to be good enough that you don't notice it without trying.



Invisible math requires mastery of the concepts. It's like editing and directing in film. Or just like how it can takes years of practice and training to achieve subtlty in writing and visual arts. As long as the game the game has decisions and rules then math will be an important aspect of the design.
Thanks for the post, Jon Wake. I agree, and reading what you wrote made me feel good, too.

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

 

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

 

 

The OP speaks a lot of truth.  Balance has been the fun killer in many design sessions at WOTC.  It doesn't mean balance is worthless.  It does mean slavish devotion to it at the expense of everything else is not.

Now my one exception.  I don't agree that wanting the rules to reflect the universe as a whole has anything to do with how many rules you want or whether you like DM empowerment or not.  I like rules light and I like DM empowerment.   I though want the rules they come up with to be broadly applicable to everyone in the world- PC's and NPC's.

 
It's not that 'basis' of anything, it's a support structure, and hardly the most important one.

Being over a year into playtesting and having anything structural not yet figured out is a horrible sign.  I'll agree that concept comes before math.  You have to have blueprints before you can start laying down concrete and putting up steel.  But to start adding floor material like Feats, Subclasses and the like before you have the concept and math firmly in place first is an idea that just leads to madness and structural design flaws.
It's not all about the math, no.  But it is about the math long before it is about Classes, Feats, or monsters.  That is the problem we are arriving at now.  At present, the cart is being put before the horse.
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important. Your attack on the people who care about it only undermines the value of your own opinions. You come across more as someone who's mocking something that you don't understand. If you think that math doesn't actually matter to you, then why complain that it matters to other players? The people who harp on math here bring up valid issues with the game mechanics, but this thread contributes nothing. So stop beating your strawmen and actually bring some coherent critical analysis for a change.


I'm not saying the math isn't important. I'm saying that when someone poses the question "do you like feats" the answer shouldn't be "no because the examples they gave us aren't completely balanced". As a playtesting group, our job is to say what works and what doesn't and saying the math sucks doesn't actually fix anything.

If you'll look back, you'll see that I created an entire thread that restructured the base math of the game because I wanted it to look different. So I do care about math, but just saying the math is bad without addressing exactly how to fix it is pointless. 



You're definitely not who I consider among the "anti-math" apostles here. The list of things I'm worried or at least hesitant about keeps growing the farther we go. I try to post detailed anlaysis here when there's a meaningful update to the rules, but such feedback can take a lot of time to present here. Basically, I contribute less and less because I'm busy and it seems like a waste of time to bring up the same problems that still exist from over a year ago. These days, if I notice something mechanically messy with the rules then I try to wait a week and hope someone else will notice it and comment first. So give those math guys a break, they're saving me a lot of time and energy.
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important.


Spoken like someone who thinks that the most important part of a rocket ship is what color they paint it.

A Shakespeare play is printed on paper.  The weight of that paper, its brightness, brand, and fiber, are part of the rhetoric through which it will be received...but hardly the most important part of the work.  Just so with the math of D&D.

In a game in which a character can be hit with a poison dart and the DC can be set to 5, 10, 20, or 25...all COMPLETELY within the rules, and even within the more vague guidelines...arguing about the "math" of the game is like making a big deal about the exact angle of the tailfins on a car.  Is it a visible part of the design?  Sure.  An essential make-or-break element of that design?  Not nearly.  And emphasizing it during the design process is silly, and likely to end up with a car which has gigantic, perfect tailfins...which nobody would actually drive.

The math to me is the final stage.  Getting the math right takes a lot of testing and a lot of thought.  It is better to get everything else done first.  Get the feel right.  Then they can adjust the math to fit the acceptable feel of the game.  If everything they run by us has to be fully developed then they will get nothing done and this whole process will fail.   

That some math on monsters is not right or on individual powers doesn't bother me.  I can't imagine it being any other way.  We have to decide on the over arching structure before we adjust individual elements to bring them into balance.  

 
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important.


Spoken like someone who thinks that the most important part of a rocket ship is what color they paint it.

A Shakespeare play is printed on paper.  The weight of that paper, its brightness, brand, and fiber, are part of the rhetoric through which it will be received...but hardly the most important part of the work.  Just so with the math of D&D.

In a game in which a character can be hit with a poison dart and the DC can be set to 5, 10, 20, or 25...all COMPLETELY within the rules, and even within the more vague guidelines...arguing about the "math" of the game is like making a big deal about the exact angle of the tailfins on a car.  Is it a visible part of the design?  Sure.  An essential make-or-break element of that design?  Not nearly.  And emphasizing it during the design process is silly, and likely to end up with a car which has gigantic, perfect tailfins...which nobody would actually drive.




Professordaddy, you never cease to misunderstand me. The thing is, I can't figure out if you even bother to try. I mean, are you actually making an honest attempt at an argument? Do you actually think anything could convince you to the contrary of your believes? I suspect not, but I could be proven wrong. 
Spoken by people who don't know the craft. It's not "all" about math, but math is important.


Spoken like someone who thinks that the most important part of a rocket ship is what color they paint it.

A Shakespeare play is printed on paper.  The weight of that paper, its brightness, brand, and fiber, are part of the rhetoric through which it will be received...but hardly the most important part of the work.  Just so with the math of D&D.

In a game in which a character can be hit with a poison dart and the DC can be set to 5, 10, 20, or 25...all COMPLETELY within the rules, and even within the more vague guidelines...arguing about the "math" of the game is like making a big deal about the exact angle of the tailfins on a car.  Is it a visible part of the design?  Sure.  An essential make-or-break element of that design?  Not nearly.  And emphasizing it during the design process is silly, and likely to end up with a car which has gigantic, perfect tailfins...which nobody would actually drive.





What's funny is your analogy is aimed at exactly the opposite of who you try to aim it at.

Shakespere's plays have a linguistic foundation, without they're just so many rambling words that don't actually have a chance to evoke anything.

A rocket is built on solid mathematical data. It isn't good enough to want to 'fly it in to space' and pretend it does. You need to calculate structural integrity, lift-mass ratio, etc. before you can ever actually launch the thing. 

Math is the foundation of the game.  Once you have a concept of what you want to do, you need to start with the basic structure, which math provides.
Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.
Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.



Because my specific experience is that is the exact opposite of the truth. You figure out your concept first and then you build a sound system of mechanics specifically for it. You know what you have to keep doing over and over and over if you don't figure out what your system constraints are? Everything including the feeling of the system. Basically, your system doesn't require constant and dramatic revision if you built it with forethought and understanding of your goals.

 
Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.




Exactly, the final step can be to add or subtract numbers from Attacks, AC values, etc, etc.
 
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Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.



Because my specific experience is that is the exact opposite of the truth. You figure out your concept first and then you build a sound system of mechanics specifically for it. You know what you have to keep doing over and over and over if you don't figure out what your system constraints are? Everything including the feeling of the system. Basically, your system doesn't require constant and dramatic revision if you built it with forethought and understanding of your goals.

 



Not when you are doing playtests and plan on using the feedback.   The playtest could take you in any direction.  The costs of constantly correcting the path to perfection would be a total waste.   Even with a private playtest this would be true.   If they do as you say they should then basically they are ignoring the playtest feedback entirely.  

 
Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.

Math is a framework.  Once you have the framework, adding things like Expertise Dice is not only easy, it allows you to balance Expertise Dice across your entire system.  You don't do the math over and over.  You check the additions to the math for balance (over and over, if necessary).  It is when your math is a sliding scale that you have to redo the math multiple times.  Once you have all of the elements you desire, you will have to combine them, then check and recheck and re-recheck them until their math finally works out.  Doing the math first frontloads the difficulty but the end result is a much easier system of known checks and balances.
The OP speaks a lot of truth.  Balance has been the fun killer in many design sessions at WOTC.  




Wait, do you work at WotC?

I'm tired, I dont even want to contibute to this thread right now. The divide in this community is growing wider with every single day. I have a million strawmen I can throw up here, and a few less analogies, but I'm worried that nothing I can say will move anything. I recognize that the odds of there being something the anti-math side could say to me to change my thoughts are small as well, so what's the point?

We can all recognize that if one class got +5 to hit and another didn't, all other things being equal the class with a +5 to hit bonus over the other would be unbalanced? Right? There, that's the only strawman I'll stand up here. My point is that an unbalanced game leads to a collection of choices. Poor choices are identified (toughness), and they aren't taken. Sure, people get to feel better about themselves because they recognize the trap choices (MtG has trap choices too, but it's a collectors game, so they want filler), but it's a cooperative game and that's an awful sense of elitism to foster.

What about an unbalanced game would you like? Have you ever been in a game where someone couldn't contribute meaningfully and didn't have fun? I did. The first 3E game I ran had an Elven Ranger in the group; he saw the Weapon Finesse feat and thought it would be cool to wield two shortswords since he needed to have high Dex for things anyway. Because of TWFing, his attack bonus ended up being lower than the Half-Orc Barbarians. His damage bonus was 1d6 on each attack; no strength bonus; the barbarian had 1d12+6. The Ranger got crits more often, but there were a number of occasions where those crits hit for 2 damage.

In the context of his character, his choices were weak. They lessened his fun. At what point is this good for the game?

People keep clamoring that the game doesn't need to be balanced, but they never say why the game should be unbalanced. If the game shouldn't be unbalanced, doesn't that mean the game should be balanced? How would a balanced game ruin your fun, assuming the entire game didn't devolve into paper-rock-scissors?

Expected X by level helps to balance challenges. As a DM/GM 90% of the time, I appreciate games that have a strongly balanced Challenge estimator. 3E's CR system was a good start. 4E's Level system was even better. Next's has proven to be tough to work with (one "normal" challenge is no where near the effect of another "normal" challenge). Expeced X by level helps designers to eyeball things before putting them in, lessening the need for errata (the 4E designers didn't even follow their own guidelines, or take their own guidelines to their complete conclusion).

Yes, there are different playstyles butting heads here. I want a well balanced tactical wargame for combat and a character system for exploration and interraction. Others want all three to be contained within the same system (which, I believe, leads to the possibility of a spellcaster dominating whichever pillar they choose to focus upon for the day, while a warrior is stuck only being able to do well in combat); I won't try to put words in others mouths beyond that.

Would Monopoly be fun if the player of the car got to choose any space within the range they rolled to land on, but no one else got a "special feature" to balance them out? OH, sorry, I'll stop with the strawmen. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

If the math is set, it completely restricts brainstorming and design. As soon as math is set, the design space becomes tighter. It is much more difficult to come up with interesting ideas that way because then the designers are designing into a system so there can be no room for interesting outlying ideas.

Also, for those who think that not having the math down 1 year into the playtest is a bad sign, that would be a problem if WotC didn't plan it the way they did. As it is, they planned to work on design concepts for 1 or 1.5 years. They planned to do the math after they feel confident that they've constructed a conceptual framework that is creative, streamlined and most importantly something that feels like D&D.

It is their game.  They are just asking us for feedback to help them make decisions.  They decided from day 1 to work this way.   To argue about it now is pointless.

The game may be great when it is finished..it may be a dud.   I hope it is great and I'll continue to give feedback about concepts and ideas and leave the math for WotC to figure out when they feel ready.     

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

 

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

 

 

Spoken like someone who thinks that the most important part of a rocket ship is what color they paint it.

Hilariously enough, the most important thing about a rocket ship is its weight-to-thrust ratio (aka: math).

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.



Because my specific experience is that is the exact opposite of the truth. You figure out your concept first and then you build a sound system of mechanics specifically for it. You know what you have to keep doing over and over and over if you don't figure out what your system constraints are? Everything including the feeling of the system. Basically, your system doesn't require constant and dramatic revision if you built it with forethought and understanding of your goals.

 



I think you are mistaken ... what you suggest is the method one would use to create a 4th style game. It leads to a verry specific game design type.

It is not a bad or wrong game design it is just so narowly defined  that many players did not and do not like it. The game was narowly designed with exceptionally tight math that took into consideration movement, exploration, time, and health with no variation to the system. You had to house rule or break the game to make any changes to how it work. It was a game of mathamatic supremacy in that the math of the system came first. That is one reason why so many of the non-4th fans dont like its approach to DnD. It was all divorced mechanics and math with no serious flavor to any part of the game. Every flavor part of the game was divorced and mostly irrelivent to game play. Hence the rise of "reflufing" any and everything.

This style of game works well for the statician and math loving gamer but not so much for the roll player looking for the experiance of the game world. Both are valid game play styles, but the design approach for them is drasticly different. They appear to be going for the fluf over crunch style. Because of this the math is less important right now than the feel of the game. The math will be fixed but not before the sytle is set.
Also, for those who think that not having the math down 1 year into the playtest is a bad sign, that would be a problem if WotC didn't plan it the way they did. As it is, they planned to work on design concepts for 1 or 1.5 years. They planned to do the math after they feel confident that they've constructed a conceptual framework that is creative, streamlined and most importantly something that feels like D&D.

The problem with that is that balance playtesting will take at least as long as pre-math playtesting.  Those fine points are going to take forever to iron ut as min/maxers and computer geeks run every possible iteration.  Until that math is finalized, we aren't even halfway through the playtest, unless the end result is going be an unworkable mess.
There is no One part of the math. Game math is in two paths.

1) Discovering the games fomulas and variables.

2) Realigning the formulas to the game's goals.

Discovering the games formulas is done early. It is very important to get the base idea of the game math. Realigning them to the game's goals is near last and finalizing goals is at the end of the game process.

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

If the math is set, it completely restricts brainstorming and design. As soon as math is set, the design space becomes tighter. It is much more difficult to come up with interesting ideas that way because then the designers are designing into a system so there can be no room for interesting outlying ideas.



Give me an example? I'll give you one of mine:

The D&D4E design framework is that everything grows at a rate of +1/level. Attack, Damage, AC, Saves NADs ... all grow at +1/level. Now, players are expected to reach this by spending some feats, while monsters and NPCs lack feats. Combat is expected to last X rounds (and this length grows as the game progresses, a decision that seems to be made because it helps make high level fights feel more challenging because they take longer; the fact that they become slogs is an error in other parts of the system).

Now, how much design space do I have within this? First, I do have an expectation for items: a weapon, armor, neck item, and skill boosting item are needed to keep up with that progression; these requirements existed in 3E as well, they just weren't spelled out (which may be a fundamental flaw in presentation between 3E and 4E; this seems odd to me, but I suppose a math-person like me would like to see the math, hu?). But does this really constrain my options?

Lets say I want a character to deal heavy damage. Dealing the same baseline damage as everyone else doesn't feel right, but I could trade off from another area. The attack could have an attack penalty, which can be mechanically balanced against the increased damage (if the hit-rate is around 50%, then a -2 to hit can pay for a 25% increase to damage). I could also balance their increased damage by reducing attack frequency; a character could deal double damage in a balanced way if they were only attacking once every other round (lets say like a Lurker monster). I could shift the character offensively, leaving them with lower defenses (HP and AC) to pay for their increased damage (something that could be done with a wizard).

At no point does this skeleton get in the way of my design decisions. The skeleton informs my design decisions. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

There is no One part of the math. Game math is in two paths. 1) Discovering the games fomulas and variables. 2) Realigning the formulas to the game's goals. Discovering the games formulas is done early. It is very important to get the base idea of the game math. Realigning them to the game's goals is near last and finalizing goals is at the end of the game process.

Those are actually both the first part of the math.  The first part of RPG creation is the isolation of your concept, which gives you your game's goals and guides the creation of your formulas and variables.  The second part of the math involves ensuring the items/variables you have added to the formulas adhere to your goals as viewed through the lens of the game's math.  If it doesn't, you simply tweak the variables/items until they do.  The math and the goals are always aligned.  It is the additions that may not be aligned.  The math isn't wrong.  It is the Feat, Background, or whatever have you that may be wrong.
There is no One part of the math. Game math is in two paths. 1) Discovering the games fomulas and variables. 2) Realigning the formulas to the game's goals. Discovering the games formulas is done early. It is very important to get the base idea of the game math. Realigning them to the game's goals is near last and finalizing goals is at the end of the game process.

Those are actually both the first part of the math.  The first part of RPG creation is the isolation of your concept, which gives you your game's goals and guides the creation of your formulas and variables.  The second part of the math involves ensuring the items/variables you have added to the formulas adhere to your goals as viewed through the lens of the game's math.  If it doesn't, you simply tweak the variables/items until they do.  The math and the goals are always aligned.  It is the additions that may not be aligned.  The math isn't wrong.  It is the Feat, Background, or whatever have you that may be wrong.



That's umm.. what I said.... in less rushed words... and more of them.

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

There is no One part of the math. Game math is in two paths. 1) Discovering the games fomulas and variables. 2) Realigning the formulas to the game's goals. Discovering the games formulas is done early. It is very important to get the base idea of the game math. Realigning them to the game's goals is near last and finalizing goals is at the end of the game process.

Those are actually both the first part of the math.  The first part of RPG creation is the isolation of your concept, which gives you your game's goals and guides the creation of your formulas and variables.  The second part of the math involves ensuring the items/variables you have added to the formulas adhere to your goals as viewed through the lens of the game's math.  If it doesn't, you simply tweak the variables/items until they do.  The math and the goals are always aligned.  It is the additions that may not be aligned.  The math isn't wrong.  It is the Feat, Background, or whatever have you that may be wrong.



That's umm.. what I said.... in less rushed words... and more of them.

In my words you never realign the formulas though.  You realign that which does not match the formulas.

In D&D Next at present, we still don't have the formulas.  We can't even begin to say whether or not Feats or +x to attribute powers are balanced because we have no mathematically objective criteria to judge them by.
In D&D Next at present, we still don't have the formulas.  We can't even begin to say whether or not Feats or +x to attribute powers are balanced because we have no mathematically objective criteria to judge them by.



Eh, we kind of do. A feat is now worth +2 to an ability score. +2 to an ability score is +1 to a saving throw, and +1 to some skills. It could also be +1 to hit and damage, and/or +1 AC, or +1 hp/level. This reveals the fact that the ability scores aren't balanced, but we don't need to balance the skeleton first, remember?

Poe's Law is alive and well.

That's just realigning the variables within the formulas. The variables are derived from the aspects outside the core formulas like weapon damage and class bonuses.

Either way, you do that near the end of the process.

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




Jul 15, 2013 -- 4:44PM, Rhenny wrote:

If the math is set, it completely restricts brainstorming and design. As soon as math is set, the design space becomes tighter. It is much more difficult to come up with interesting ideas that way because then the designers are designing into a system so there can be no room for interesting outlying ideas.






Give me an example? I'll give you one of mine:

The D&D4E design framework is that everything grows at a rate of +1/level. Attack, Damage, AC, Saves NADs ... all grow at +1/level. Now, players are expected to reach this by spending some feats, while monsters and NPCs lack feats. Combat is expected to last X rounds (and this length grows as the game progresses, a decision that seems to be made because it helps make high level fights feel more challenging because they take longer; the fact that they become slogs is an error in other parts of the system).

Now, how much design space do I have within this? First, I do have an expectation for items: a weapon, armor, neck item, and skill boosting item are needed to keep up with that progression; these requirements existed in 3E as well, they just weren't spelled out (which may be a fundamental flaw in presentation between 3E and 4E; this seems odd to me, but I suppose a math-person like me would like to see the math, hu?). But does this really constrain my options?

Lets say I want a character to deal heavy damage. Dealing the same baseline damage as everyone else doesn't feel right, but I could trade off from another area. The attack could have an attack penalty, which can be mechanically balanced against the increased damage (if the hit-rate is around 50%, then a -2 to hit can pay for a 25% increase to damage). I could also balance their increased damage by reducing attack frequency; a character could deal double damage in a balanced way if they were only attacking once every other round (lets say like a Lurker monster). I could shift the character offensively, leaving them with lower defenses (HP and AC) to pay for their increased damage (something that could be done with a wizard).

At no point does this skeleton get in the way of my design decisions. The skeleton informs my design decisions. 


Maybe what I said was true from my own perspective. Some people think creatively first and then fit to a model (throwing out bits and pieces that don't fit if they can't work the system - I guess I see D&DNext development that way...and so do the WotC designers). Some people think mathematically and systematically first and then design into that. I'm sure both can be done. I don't mean to say that nobody can design creatively into a tighter space. There may be people who can design within a tighter mathematical framework and create a fun D&D game that appeals to a wider audience. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that beginning with a tighter mathematical framework will create a fun D&D game that appeals to a wider audience.

With bounded accuracy, the game will play differently and it can be designed differently because the bounded accuracy sets the design space. Ultimately, there is no need for the Tyranny of expectations that you present in the 4e model because it is not essential that a party of 15th level adventurers go to an island of 15th level monsters to meet an appropriate challenge.

Crazy, I think I'm now arguing that the decision to begin with bounded accuracy has actually done exactly what you're arguing.  It has given the design team a skeleton to design into.

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

 

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

 

 

There is no One part of the math. Game math is in two paths. 1) Discovering the games fomulas and variables. 2) Realigning the formulas to the game's goals. Discovering the games formulas is done early. It is very important to get the base idea of the game math. Realigning them to the game's goals is near last and finalizing goals is at the end of the game process.

Those are actually both the first part of the math.  The first part of RPG creation is the isolation of your concept, which gives you your game's goals and guides the creation of your formulas and variables.  The second part of the math involves ensuring the items/variables you have added to the formulas adhere to your goals as viewed through the lens of the game's math.  If it doesn't, you simply tweak the variables/items until they do.  The math and the goals are always aligned.  It is the additions that may not be aligned.  The math isn't wrong.  It is the Feat, Background, or whatever have you that may be wrong.



That's umm.. what I said.... in less rushed words... and more of them.

In my words you never realign the formulas though.  You realign that which does not match the formulas.

In D&D Next at present, we still don't have the formulas.




"Formulas" (people are watching too much of that TV show), in what way, and for what? 
Spoken like someone who thinks that the most important part of a rocket ship is what color they paint it.

No, that's actually the very argument of the "math is not that important, imagination is" camp.

And they don't want to be bothered by all these people talking aerodynamic and physics, as it only distracts them from having their rocket look cool and being painted in an imaginative color
In a game in which a character can be hit with a poison dart and the DC can be set to 5, 10, 20, or 25...all COMPLETELY within the rules,

And if the math is not good each possible DC will be wrong for it's intended use
arguing about the "math" of the game is like making a big deal about the exact angle of the tailfins on a car.

I don't know how it's in the US. But with all this greenwash here and statutory CO2-exhaust there and yadada car companies are paying careful attention to the exact angle of the tailfins and how it's going to change the air resistance and fuel consumption.

Same needs to be done with the math in DDN

You figure out your concept first and then you build a sound system of mechanics specifically for it.

Then you shouldn't waste everybodies time with a pretended playtest.

Just tell your concept and ask if they like it or not, but don't let them waste their time trying to see how this concept works "in play" because "in play" doesn't exist at all yet.
In D&D Next at present, we still don't have the formulas.  We can't even begin to say whether or not Feats or +x to attribute powers are balanced because we have no mathematically objective criteria to judge them by.



Eh, we kind of do. A feat is now worth +2 to an ability score. +2 to an ability score is +1 to a saving throw, and +1 to some skills. It could also be +1 to hit and damage, and/or +1 AC, or +1 hp/level. This reveals the fact that the ability scores aren't balanced, but we don't need to balance the skeleton first, remember?



The issue is this can all change.

Skills is being pulled out the formula in the next package. Would it make sense to now waste time balancing DCs to a formula with skills?

The core formulas are not all finished yet. 

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

Why is it so hard for you guys to understand that if you do the math first you are going to be doing it over and over and over.   The first 100 times is going to be a total waste of developer time.  Developer time is money.   

Who knows the mechanics they will use in the game.  Expertise dice wasn't in the first packet.  It might not be in the last packet.   Same for every other mechanic.  Much better for them to just provide an off the cuff example and have it accepted or rejected.  Only after the game is firmed up designwise should they start focusing on the math.  Once you start on the math, you should assume the basic mechanics for the entire game are locked down.



You can only give a awnser to a question like how many spells should a wizard have is you assume the underlying math will not change.
With every change in the base math like how saving trows work any information gatherd on this subject before that becomes irrelivant.

Yes sombody could have awnserd he liked expertise dice in a certain package, but if math like monster math changes it might no longer give the same feal.

Doing the math last is like building a house without fundations.
and then start drilling under the finished house to put in the foundation, in the hope the house won't take damage or totaly collapse
 
In D&D Next at present, we still don't have the formulas.  We can't even begin to say whether or not Feats or +x to attribute powers are balanced because we have no mathematically objective criteria to judge them by.



Eh, we kind of do. A feat is now worth +2 to an ability score. +2 to an ability score is +1 to a saving throw, and +1 to some skills. It could also be +1 to hit and damage, and/or +1 AC, or +1 hp/level. This reveals the fact that the ability scores aren't balanced, but we don't need to balance the skeleton first, remember?

We know that the goal is to make Feats equal to +2 ability points.  We don't know if the game actually plays out that way.  With Classes and monsters in flux with no underlying mathematical foundation, we can't say for certain if the current iteration lives up to that goal or misses the mark.  We can't even judge how much it misses the mark.  If we had a more firm mathematical foundation, Classes and monsters could still be in a process of minor revision (as opposed to the current major overhaul) and we could still get a baseline balance reading.  As it stands, we have no idea how the interrelated parts of the game interact, much less how they do so in an objective manner designed to determine balance.