Steamlining + Complexity = Modularity

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I wholeheartedly support the streamlining and simplification of combat rules for 4th edition. At the same time, I understand that players love having a ton of abilities and cool powers, just as Wizards relies on selling those abilities and powers in splatbooks to make their money.

So, I hope that 4th edition keeps the concept of "modularity" in mind. What I mean is this: the basic rules should be simple and fast, but you can add on various abilities to your specific character as you grow that lead to interesting strategic decisions. A good example of this is Magic: The Gathering. The basic rules are pretty simple. They fill a tiny rulebook; you need to know about tapping cards for mana, the phases of combat, and basic attack and defense. All of the strategy and additional "fun" comes from each card by itself, which introduces new rules. You don't need to read every card to know how to play Magic. You only need to read some very simple rules and then your own cards. The unique abilities on each card are designed to be interesting and yet entirely self-contained on the card, so that you don't need to cross-reference some other card.

A few D&D examples. WotC likes to complain about Grapple. I'd suggest getting rid of "Grapple" as a base rule entirely. Instead, have it be an optional ability that a fighter can choose to take (as a feat, or Maneuver, if they go more Book of Nine Swords style), that lets you use an existing simple rule (make an attack) to do an extra effect. Everyone else who you use Grapple on should have no need to read any extra rules on Grapple at all; they should use their own simple stats to try to avoid it and to react to it. A wizard should not have a "Grapple" modifier at all; it's not something he's ever going to want to do to someone else, and he shouldn't need an extra stat just to deal with a different type of character's special ability.

Turn Undead is the same way. The cleric could instead just have an array of undead-hurting spells, rather than a specific ability that needs a separate section in the PHB apart from the class description. It doesn't need a whole different mechanic to run off of from spells when spells work just fine. Undead, in turn, shouldn't need a speciall anti-turn undead feat (Turning Resistance); they should just get higher will saves if you want them to be resistant to the new Just Like Turn Undead spell.

I know some people might object to some of this, and say, "But what about the off chance that my really weak wizard DOES want to try a backwards flipping piledriver on an orc, and he doesn't have the Maneuver?" Well, personally, I think we have to let that go. There is already no "rule" in 3.5 for someone with a sword to stab out an eye, or cut off a hand. If there's no specific rule for a wizard to wrestle someone, then the DM can wing it and have him make a strength check to emulate having the same maneuver. In general, I think that part of streamlining must mean that rules and stats that a specific type of character will never use need to be removed from that character's stat sheet and not need to be referenced by that player during play.

Anyway, that's my 2 cp.
I agree wholeheartedly with the S + C = M concept. Seems to me that this is what they tried to do with the Grab, Grapple, Pin, Crush etc rules in SWSE.

I'd disagree with a little of your "how" discussion. IMO while the core rules must be streamlined they should not limit options. For me a any character should be able to try anything a basic RL person could try, even if they have a very small chance. I'd ensure the wizard had a chance to grapple, just a very poor one.

The classic for me of limited options is multiple attacks. Why does lower than +6 BAB character get the option of only one attack? Can't they try to do two? You get the situation where a +5 BAB character often moves every turn, because they can, and a +6/+1 character never moves because they would miss an attack. The situation is most noticable in modern games where a character with a SA pistol can only shoot once in the same time a slightly better character shoots twice.

SWSE fixes this a little by making it +6 not +6/+1, but then you need a Double Attack feat to get two attacks at -5 (+1/+1).

Otherwise I think your post is excellent.

The other way I'd like to see complexity included is more optional complexity via optional expanded rules. For example using simple skill rules like SWSE is great but for some players this is too artificial. The PHB could have a set of compatable optional rules to let players fine tune their skill rankings if this is important to their game or character. It would be like preparing the obvious house rule options to save those DMs who need them the time.
I agree with both of you. Even if you don't exactly agree 100%, I think you are both mostly right.
Let your voice be heard! Tell WotC to Publish D&D 4e under the OGL!
I agree that streamlining is vital.

Please try and separate Rules from Helpful Examples in the DMG. When you are designing a dungeon knowing what eqipment a 4th level rogue might have is useful BUT you have plenty of time to look it up. In play you need the rules compact, consise and easily referenced. Nothing spoils a game more than breaks where the DM withdraws for a long period to attempt to find a ruling (and normally gives up and wings it anyway!).

I also agree that rules needed for classes must be in the PHB not DMG

Cheers

Greyhawk 2
The major requirement are robust rules that can take a hit and maintian game balance (or at least playability).

That is something 3X was missing. If you removed the ability for wizards to craft scrolls and the like they were hindered and you then had to find an ability to give to them or admit that you've gimped a part of the wizard.

2nd Ed. had fairly robust rules that could be altered rather severly but for the most part they maintianed balance (until Skills and Powers cam out). Classes could be altered significantly and features from older editions could be added without breaking the balance.

That kind of modularity is what I am hoping for in 4th Ed. A game that can be very complex if the table likes it that way or very simple. A game where the DM can easily say you cannot create magic items only find them and not worry about the fact that he has stepped on a classes inate ability.
I would welcome streamlining. Nothing is more of a buzzkill than a new DM starting a new 3.5 campaign who isn't as rules-savvy than some of the players. The rules bog-downs and arguments completely take me out of the game "moment" and make me hastily reach for my adult beverage.

I suppose one of the unintended benefits of a new system is that we'll all be starting from the same place, though I'm sure the rules gurus will have it mastered sooner than others.