Sunday, October 28, 2012, 3:29 PM
I've been less active of late. I do not want the boards to think I've given up. I am busy with the U.S. presidential election at the moment but I will return to a greater degree next month. Keep up the fight for a great 5e!
Saturday, August 4, 2012, 6:44 AM
I decided to just write a blog post that I could link to instead of constantly repeating myself on the forums. A lot of people make the allegation that only via railroading or metagame tricks can a DM keep the five-minute workday at bay. I believe this is a fallacy. While I respect their right to play whatever style of game they like, I will not have my own style impugned by these charges. A DM who limits the five-minute workday is often doing so because he is running a realistic dynamic world.
I am presupposing a dangerous world. But that’s not a lot to ask of a D&D world. A set number of encounters per day is a guideline and not a fast rule. If you average the suggested number or even come near the average the threat of such days will lead the group to make logical resource choices.
Here are my guidelines for running a campaign successfully without five-minute workday problems.
How to simulate a realistic world and by default handle the 5MWD
II. Opportunity (Lost Rewards)
Let me again emphasize that I am not saying you can’t play however you like. I’m not even saying that I could not play a game and enjoy something without dailies. It wouldn’t be D&D to me but it might be a fantasy game I could play. Unlike some, I think there are core things about D&D that makes it D&D.
I am though saying that even if a mechanism existed to mechanically stop the five-minute workday that all of the above solutions would still be used in my campaign. I’m not going to stop playing the monsters to their appropriate intelligence. And by playing the monsters to their appropriate intelligence, I already don’t have a five-minute workday problem. Let me emphasize. The above are not “solutions” to the five-minute workday. They are normal DM adjudication of monsters in a hostile world. The side benefit is no five-minute workday.
I believe we should train and teach new DMs. They should as often as possible start out as players. The DMG should explain all of this (better than I have above) in great detail so that DMs can not only prevent workday problems but also have a more immersive and fun world for their players. I’m not against some helpful starter rules either for inexperienced DMs. But to be honest, for the short time it’s going to take a DM that really bothers to try to get better to learn, I’d suggest just making it a rule – X encounters between rests. I mean a DM is going to learn pretty fast. In fact if you plays with a good DM he may start out doing it without any additional training. The rule would totally annoy me and perhaps not annoy others. That’s ok. And for those of you that never want to deal with it is the rule all that annoying?
One fear I have for the D&D 5e design team is that they will over compensate for things in the game and thus ruin the fun. I think this is my overarching criticism of 4e. I hope they realize many don’t have five-minute workday problems and we want resource management. So touch lightly and use modularly with these rules if possible.
Friday, July 13, 2012, 9:58 AM
For me tracking conditions in 4e was easy to mess up. Remembering it for every character on each of their turns was tough. But I like conditions and I liked the way 4e tracked conditions to a point. So here is a modification of that idea for 5e.
You create a token with an effect and a DC on both sides. One side is clearly the "flipped" side.
At the start of every round (a round being a turn for all PCs and monsters) you do the following...
1. For every token that is flipped roll the DC on an unmodified d20.
2. If roll is successful remove token. That token is gone and has no effect this round.
3. If roll is unsuccessful apply any damage immediately and leave condition in effect.
4. Flip all the tokens that were not flipped. (This causes every effect to last at least one round just like in 4e).
5. Effects are applied by placing an unflipped token next to a mini or in front of the player in theatre of the mind.
Consequences of this approach
Effects don't start until the round after they are cast. This doesn't bother me much because a round really is simultaneous. Most of the time the initial attack will do damage before applying the effect anyway.
It is super easy to remember. All conditions are handled at the top of the batting order as we say. Condition markers on the field represent what is happening so tracking is easy.
You could have chains of tokens that represent gradual progress. I'd make this rare.
Thursday, July 12, 2012, 4:11 PM
I've been toying for some time with a class proposal for 5e. I think it might make a lot of different play styles happy and that is what is intriguing me. I think you could add about any flavor you like to the concept so I won't dwell on flavor. I'm mostly going to concentrate on mechanics.
One problem rampant in the edition wars is the disconnect between the way the classes work and the differences of opinion on play balance and the importance of play balance. One common refrain is that wizards in prior editions had too much flexibility. They were too quick to steal the thunder of the rogue via knock or invisibility. The other side though groans at the loss the game takes when such magic is removed. D&D just isn't D&D without the utility magic.
My solution with the Mage is to use a concept 4e originated (at least in D&D) for tracking the duration of conditions. Instead of keeping absolute durations and forcing the chore of tracking everything you instead rolled a saving throw every round. This created an average duration but with some uncertainty. Practically there was a bell curve that represented duration and that worked well. So my idea for the Mage is to do something similar but with a twist.
The Mage starts out with five spell points. Each time he tries to cast a spell he rolls a check against a spell DC and if successful nothing changes. If though he does not succeed then he loses a spell point. If the spell points ever reach 0 then the Mage can no longer cast spells. The mage is permitted to recover 1 spell point for each hour of sleep or period of total relaxation. Standing guard or walking is not permitted.
Computing the DC. It might seem at first glance that some linear formula based upon level of the spell vs. level of the caster would be the best way to compute DC. It is not. High-level spells are never easy to cast, no matter your level, and they always come with a risk. This will encourage the Mage to not cast spells needlessly especially outside of combat.
Ok so here is the formula for computing the DC.
Spell level * 4 - caster level.
Roll an unmodified d20 against this DC. The advantage to this system is that you can fully pre-compute the DCs for all your spells. Then when the Mage is ready to make a check he simply rolls against this pre-computed DC. Optionally a roll of one always causes a spell point loss but some may dislike it. No spell over 5th would ever be automatic anyway.
That’s the basics of the class. You could add a material components and give a minor bonus like +1 or +2 for an expensive component. You could give a ritual casting bonus for when you are not in combat. I wouldn’t want it to be too much but +4 might work.
For a bookish wizard type variation, I would limit the spells known at any given moment to their prime attribute. Thus an 18 intelligence could in theory prepare up to 18 spells. When a Mage qualified for a new level of spell, he would get learn one more and that's it. All the rest he has to find while adventuring. I would though allow the wizard to have as many spells as he wants in his spell book and swap them once per day with the one's he has prepared.
For a more sorcerous variation, I would allow more spells known at level up but no book.
Advantages of this system
If five spell points is the wrong number and even I think it might be a tiny bit low, I toyed with everything between five and eight, then just adjust. I liked eight because of eight hours of rest gets them all back. People wanting more or less magic though could get it my changing that one number.
A Mage never wants to cast a spell if he doesn’t have to because he could always lose a spell point. He won’t be casting knock if a rogue is in the group. But he might if the rogue fails the DC and the situation is desperate.
The Mage has a lot of the flexibility of older editions but not really the staying power. So practically he has eighteen spell choices but depending on the levels prepared he might find his spell points dropping fast if he goes nova very much or over does the utility. I hope this approach would satisfy the utility loving wizard people from 3e while not going so overboard powerwise that the 4e people hate the concept.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 10:52 AM
We do indeed need good Dungeon Masters. We should absolutely not design a game system to protect players from bad Dungeon Masters. Every rule written should be as desirable for a good Dungeon Master as it is for a bad one. It is ok for rules to be optional and to exist from game to game based on player interests and desires. Rules for variety and flavor are not in question here. Rules that exist because it is believed they can rein in a bad Dungeon Master are bad and harmful to the game.
So what is a good Dungeon Master? A good Dungeon Master is someone who is devoted to the fun of his group. This one trait and the will to learn is all it will take to be a good Dungeon Master. He has his creativity and his energy to offer to provide a campaign that his players will enjoy. A good Dungeon Master will know his own strengths and weaknesses and seek out players whose interests resonate with his own. A good Dungeon Master should want to learn and to get better. He should be flexible when possible and strong when not. He should make sure that all players are having fun including himself. A Dungeon Master has to always realize he can make a mistake and he is allowed to fix it and learn from it.
A good Dungeon Master can be unskilled. You can pick up the game for the first time and be a good Dungeon Master. Your intent will triumph ultimately. You will make mistakes when you first start. You will also make mistakes when you've been at it for thirty years. Hopefully not as many. If your players have faith that you are in fairness striving for the game to be fun and trying hard to be fair, they will be understanding. There should never be enmity or rivalry between the Dungeon Master and the players. If you have players that don't respect your efforts and can't accept your work as an unbiased gift of fun then you should find some new players. Not every Dungeon Master is good for every group of players. When a Dungeon Master finds a group that he can have fun with then he is fulfilling his mission. The mission is fun.
A bad Dungeon Master is someone not devoted to fun for the entire group. His own fun is all that matters and ruining others fun is fine so long as his own is not lessened. If such DM's acquire any skill it is only in griefing their players and causing them to curse the game of D&D. I've met a few lost souls along the way who've been abused by such Dungeon Masters. These kinds of people do not help the game and are better off out of it. They should either be confronted and forced to reform by their players or they should be ousted as Dungeon Master.
The game designers will fail to protect a group of players from their Dungeon Master. Rules designed to prevent abusive Dungeon Masters are wasted space. Dungeon Masters can change anything. They can create any circumstance. They are unstoppable by rules. Rule 0, the best rule in the book by the way if used benevolently, is impossible to resist if used for harm. So protecting players from their Dungeon Masters is a fools errand.
Instead the game designers should focus on helping good Dungeon Masters to become more skilled. Help those Dungeon Masters, who want to make their players happy, be more effective at doing so. The Dungeon Masters guide should absolutely tell Dungeon Masters that they can change anything at any time in the name of fun. There is no wrong way to roleplay using the D&D rules. If you use them to have fun then you are winning. So I call out to the games designers to know the difference. Know that good Dungeon Masters want help and bad one's aren't listening anyway. Give us clear rules that are easy to use and easy to adjudicate because good Dungeon Masters still need help. Help good Dungeon Masters to avoid mistakes and continually improve.
When the game designers spend time lessening the fun for good Dungeon Masters and their groups in a vain attempt to make bad Dungeon Masters behave is a wasted day. 5e has the right goals. There is no right way. There are only many disparate fun ways for many disparate groups. Help those groups and their Dungeon Master to prosper and have fun and they will not forget you.
Page 1 of 2 • 1 2 Next