A new article: The Core Mechanic

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You can see it here!

What we mean when we talk about streamlining the system is this: making design decisions that make learning and using the game less difficult, while keeping the system just as robust. And making it more fun as the result.

I see. Nothing earth-shattering or even in the least bit surprising.

Nice to see it affirmed, however.
I see. Nothing earth-shattering or even in the least bit surprising.

Nice to see it affirmed, however.

I am not surprised one bit either, but I am very pleased to know that my favorite aspect of the SWSE rules made it over to 4th-edition.
It looks like they have gone with the four defense model with AC being seperate from Reflex or Fortitude.

Touch attacks are Reflex defense now instead of part of AC. This was expected.

It was nice that they have the part on how traps interact with the AC and Reflex defense.

I wonder if they should change the term AC for Armour Class to AD for Armour Defense. This would line up the term so that all four are now Defense. This would help group them in people's minds instead of thinking of the three defenses and the other 'lost sheep' AC.
I wonder if they should change the term AC for Armour Class to AD for Armour Defense. This would line up the term so that all four are now Defense. This would help group them in people's minds instead of thinking of the three defenses and the other 'lost sheep' AC.

AC looks to be one of those Sacred Cow names that they still are afraid to take on.
AC being split from Reflex Defense is a relief. In SW Saga it's a tricky knot to unravel. I'm happy to see this article just for the confirmation that these sorts of topics will finally get discussed. I'm getting more hopeful that the streamlined rules will be worth the project of stripping out the unwanted fluff.
Meh, I love the tension that comes from rolling a saving throw... then again, I also loved active defenses in GURPS, even though they make combat take twice as long. I just love rolling dice, ya know?

There's a thrill when your fate is in your hand, and you cast the dice and pray to Lady Luck, when you need a twenty and you need it NOW, like an addict needs his fix, and if you don't get it you die, so sorry, try again, roll a new character and this time don't suck, but if you get it, you live to see the next round, and maybe the next room, and maybe even the next adventure.

Back on topic, attack rolls are nice, but there's more excitement when you're on the receiving end. I'd like to see opposed checks, even though the rolls would tend to overwhelm the modifiers... just blame the chaos of battle and be done with it. Both sides get to roll, which is what's cool. I may just houserule that, since essentially everyone is "taking ten" on their defense roll at the moment. Just have everyone roll d20 and take that as their base AC, instead of 10. I'm too lazy to run numbers, but my intuition tells me it would mostly average out in the end, since a d20 roll averages 10.5 anyway.
AC being split from Reflex Defense is a relief. In SW Saga it's a tricky knot to unravel. I'm happy to see this article just for the confirmation that these sorts of topics will finally get discussed. I'm getting more hopeful that the streamlined rules will be worth the project of stripping out the unwanted fluff.

I don't see how its a tricky knot to handle.

SWSE's Reflex Defense is 4th-editions AC, just with a different name.

If SWSE had a need for a Touch AC/Reflex Defense, it would have had one. This Touch AC/Reflex Defense is 4th-edition's Reflex Defense.

Back on topic, attack rolls are nice, but there's more excitement when you're on the receiving end. I'd like to see opposed checks, even though the rolls would tend to overwhelm the modifiers... just blame the chaos of battle and be done with it. Both sides get to roll, which is what's cool. I may just houserule that, since essentially everyone is "taking ten" on their defense roll at the moment. Just have everyone roll d20 and take that as their base AC, instead of 10. I'm too lazy to run numbers, but my intuition tells me it would mostly average out in the end, since a d20 roll averages 10.5 anyway.

I've experimented with that a few times with SWSE, it works. Yeah, it slows down a little bit, but not overwhelmingly so.
Yeah this article was pretty useless.

Stop with all the secrecy and just embrace your audience already.

We buy the books as much for their look and feel as their use as reference.

Tell us what's happening already.
The Article is only disapointing from a ya we kind of figured that already angle.

On the up side it's a change that kind of makes sense.

But they are giving us mechanical information and not just fluff. and that's something right there.

They don't want to promise us an animal companion we won't get or something like that.
Meh, I love the tension that comes from rolling a saving throw... then again, I also loved active defenses in GURPS, even though they make combat take twice as long. I just love rolling dice, ya know?

This is always the tension in game design. Mathematically you only need one roll to randomize the results of an event, and of course it doesn't matter who's rolling, etc., and yet there is something fun about rolling the dice for everything you do.

I can't say either way is better. It's really something you can't get around: choosing one decent option chooses against the other, and you can either have the speed and simplicity of attacker-rolls-only or the PC's always rolling dice in both-attacker-and-defender-roll or a somewhat unsatisfying hodgepodge where the PC's always roll, but roll for their attacks when attacking and defenses while defending (the NPC attackers are assumed to take 10 on their "attack rolls"). Any are workable solutions, none are perfect. But a game has to choose.

I'm just saying that yeah, you're right, there's something fun about rolling to save, but then, it also is sort of annoying to make a successful attack or spell roll and have the NPC enemy himself save, etc., etc., etc. I don't think the new system is necessarily superior but undoubtedly it will be a bit faster.

Actual saves as we know them -- where you roll as defender -- may be backdoored in via action points/fate points, where (say) you get to decide when you're spend your fate, and you get to roll 1d6 and add it to your Defense to try to avoid a hit or spell effect after the blow/effect has already landed. That seems a good way to handle things (the way I'm doing it in the game I'm working on), as it eliminates routine/mundane saves in favor of speed but keeps the player-roll for truly dire circumstances.
I like it. The article wasn't much of an info, but it confirmed things I hoped to see in 4E. I am going to implement them right now in the mini campaign I'm going to run for my kid and his friend...
I use children as test subjects!!! That must be Gleemax controlling my brain. Must... resist...
.....................................................................
So the playtest is due... today.
Here's a guess...

AC is equal to a base value + DEX + armour bonus while Reflex is equal to a base value + DEX - armor bonus.
There's a throwaway reference that caught my eye - a new piece of terminology:

When you’re surprised, you grant combat advantage, but you don’t need to look at a special AC on your sheet -- the normal number works fine.

"Combat advantage". Hmm.

Presumably, this is shorthand for what in 3.5 was "denied your DEX bonus to AC" - not the loss itself, but the condition.

This opens some nice cans of worms. We may well be seeing something like this:

"Sneak Attack: When a rogue has combat advantage, he may deal extra damage..."

"Bluff skill: Roll an opposed skill check. If you win, you gain combat advantage."

By using it like this, there are lots of possibilities. Maybe barbarians (or their successors) can deal extra damage, but grant combat advantage until the end of the turn. Maybe fighters can take a feat that grants them +2 to hit if they have combat advantage, or regain combat advantage somehow if they have a shield. Thinking about it this way makes for some interesting choices.
Well our touch ACs with be real low. The base value for Reflex (from +0-12 in 3.5) will probably a lot lower that the base value for AC (10). Then factor in the Armor and shield bonus loss (anywhere up to around +11). A fighter's or cleric's could lose 12 to 15 defense when you go from AC to reflex. Wow Harm! Oh clerics will harming left and right if our "touch AC" drops so low. Most likely the base value will go up since it's a defense (no rolls) vs an offense (d20 roll).

Won't harm Rogues, rangers, and monks much. But Fighters, clerics, and other armor dependent classes are going to eat it.

As for combat advantage. Same thing as before with different name.

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 must say that I'm disappointed at the inclusion of an AC. I've always thought armor is better modeled with a damage reducing system rather than a hit reducing one. I hope that ACs will be such that they don't act as a "barrier to entry" into physical combat as they do in 3e. Too often creatures (or players) have nigh-unhittable ACs.

Simplifying flat-footed and touch AC is a definite improvement. "Flat-footed" is one of the most inconsistently used game terms in 3e, it's great to see that go. It was also always somewhat illogical that low-Dex creatures didn't become any easier to hit when caught unaware.
For those who prefer rolling saves to static defenses, the easiest way to accomplish this is to have the DM "take 10" on the attack roll, and have the player roll the d20 in place of the "take 10" in their static defense.

Opposed d20 rolls completely change the probabilities from a 20-point rectangular probability distribution to a 39-point triangular probability distribution. While the average results of both are almost identical, the "outlier" results are not. The highest result becomes a +19 (20 vs. 1) as opposed to a +9 (20 vs. 10), for example.

In general, only a single d20 should be rolled for any check, even in the case of opposed checks. Let a single d20 roll represent the outcome of both antagonist's efforts. It may seem intuitively like both antagonists should roll a die (in our heads, we equate the die roll with swinging the sword or whatever the action is), but that rather dramatically changes the probabilities and "violates the core mechanic."

If you really want opposed rolls, it would be closer to the core mechanic to have each antagonist roll 1d10, but then it's not d20, is it? ;)
This has nothing in it we hadn't already figured out or seen from SWSE. In short, not terribly interesting.

We need more interesting articles, dagnabbit!
[rant]I found it incredibly interesting because I am a DnD fan who had/has/will have no intention of buying SWSE. The unfortunate assumption that everybody knows every system is frustrating to me sometimes, but I make inferences.

Basically, I'm saying that it's great you all have seen this before, but to say it's "nothing new" because you've used your disposable income on other games as opposed to buying something else, like food or windshield repairs (stupid hail storm), doesn't mean that some of us fans out here are seeing this information for the first time.

In fact, for me it was just over a week ago that I bothered to come to the DnD site and discovered that the 4th edition I didn't expect them to put out until 2010 was less than a year away.

Once again, I'd like to reiterate that it's great that you have seen this before and that you'd like something new-to-you, but bear in mind that the R&D blogs are for DnD fans, not D20 everything fans, and that the information is new and enlightening to those of us who haven't read all the books you have/played all the games you have/had all the conversations about RPGs in general you have.[/rant]

As far as the new rules go, I am totally in favor of not having to have my players make their reflex/other saves or figure out what their touch/flat-foot/regular AC is because I tend to play with less experienced/slightly intoxicated people who are really in it to have fun with their friends and not because they really enjoy role-playing and I don't want them to feel like they have to do a lot of work just to humor me.
There was actually one thing that was a bit unclear to me.

I get that "reflex defense" will be taking the place of Touch AC, which makes a lot of sense. But:

When you’re surprised, you grant combat advantage, but you don’t need to look at a special AC on your sheet -- the normal number works fine.

So flat-footed AC is gone, fine. But what "combat advantage" do you grant if your AC remains the same? Is there some other mechanic in place for being caught surprised (other than the surprise round)?
Oh yeah, another point I was unclear on.

When a pit suddenly opens up beneath your feet, you make a check to jump out of danger, but if a crossbow trap fires an arrow at you, it the bolt attacks your AC.

Exactly what "check" are you making to avoid the pit? It seems like it should be based on your Reflex defense, but that's a static number now...
Oh yeah, another point I was unclear on.



Exactly what "check" are you making to avoid the pit? It seems like it should be based on your Reflex defense, but that's a static number now...

I think SWSE uses an Acrobatics check.
So flat-footed AC is gone, fine. But what "combat advantage" do you grant if your AC remains the same? Is there some other mechanic in place for being caught surprised (other than the surprise round)?

I think it's just a +2 modifier that also lets you be sneak attacked.

Exactly what "check" are you making to avoid the pit? It seems like it should be based on your Reflex defense, but that's a static number now...

If he said jump, I think he meant Jump.
Well our touch ACs with be real low. The base value for Reflex (from +0-12 in 3.5) will probably a lot lower that the base value for AC (10). Then factor in the Armor and shield bonus loss (anywhere up to around +11).

Reflex Defence = 10 + Dex mod + class bonus + lvl (at least in Saga), so don't worry.
And I guess Armor Defence (I prefer that term until it is confirmed othewisem, besides I'll need to translate it anyway) = 10 + Dex mod + class bonus + level + armor bonus. So armor plays a much larger role in D&D than in SWSE. Which is right. But on the other hand there is an easy way to some virtual AD bonus (as an optional rule perhaps) to make an unarmored fighter a viable option.
Reflex Defence = 10 + Dex mod + class bonus + lvl (at least in Saga), so don't worry.

Reflex defense was also AC in Saga. This is D&D and we have Sepperrat AC and Reflex numbers.

In honesty the Reflex bonuses will probably look a lot like they do now.
I think SWSE uses an Acrobatics check.

SWSE use Jump or Acrobatics, yes they are different skills.

Also, SWSE still have a Flat-footed defense, just no touch defense. But it looks like this is gone in 4E



4E AC = SWSE Reflex Defense
4E AC = AC - Armor bonus
Reflex defense was also AC in Saga. This is D&D and we have Sepperrat AC and Reflex numbers.

Hmm... What makes you think I do not know that?
In honesty the Reflex bonuses will probably look a lot like they do now.

I don't think so.

Reason:

The standard defenses remain (AC, Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) but now they all work more like AC. When a dragon breathes fire on you, it attacks your Reflex and deals half damage if it misses. The DM rolls a d20, adds the dragon’s modifiers, and asks you what your Reflex score is.

So I guess they will not be like current D&D, but rather like SWSE. More than that - I am completely sure of it.
Hmm... What makes you think I do not know that?

Orzel was whinning about how low reflex was going to be and how this would increase the utility of "touch" spells (Mellee reflex spells?)

Snarls at Fleas pointed out how that Reflex defense had bonus equal to class level, that would off set this.

I pointed out that Reflex Defense wasn't Reflex and had to scale up rather quickly because it was like AC. And how this would probably not be the case for Reflex in 4th.

I'm not arguing the "Static vs Non-Static Defence", I'm arguing the "yes reflex will be sucky on your fighter" stand point.
I pointed out that Reflex Defense wasn't Reflex and had to scale up rather quickly because it was like AC. And how this would probably not be the case for Reflex in 4th.

May I repeat?

The standard defenses remain (AC, Fortitude, Reflex, and Will) but now they all work more like AC.

So they will be like AC. It's clear. That means they will be like in SWSE with maybe slight differences.
I don't think so.

Reason:



So I guess they will not be like current D&D, but rather like SWSE. More than that - I am completely sure of it.

Um, yeah, add 10 to your current Reflex save and you have your new Reflex Defense. I see no reason to assume you'll be adding character level to all your defenses and doing all that other weird SWSE stuff. And from everything that article said, AC could be calculated exactly the same way it is now.
Um, yeah, add 10 to your current Reflex save and you have your new Reflex Defense. I see no reason to assume you'll be adding character level to all your defenses and doing all that other weird SWSE stuff. And from everything that article said, AC could be calculated exactly the same way it is now.

The fact that entire d20 Modern/Future/Past line and Star Wars both use level based defense bonuses, and D&D uses a level based bonus to the non AC defenses, I don't see how it cannot use a level based bonus to AC. I do, however, believe that the level based bonus to AC and defenses will only be 1/2 class level.

Guess Example: Level 1 Fighter with generic starting ability scores
(This does not integrate "starting defense bonuses" that are seen in SWSE)

Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10

He has medium armor of some sort (guess, +5 ac, +2 fort, +3 max dex)

AC: 10 + dex + Armor* = 16
Reflex: 10 + dex + level bonus = 12
Fortitude: 10 + con + level bonus + Armor = 15
Will: 10 + wis + level bonus = 12

* Probably Armor or Level bonus. In SWSE the level bonus to Reflex (AC) cannot stack with armor (without special training), however, the armor's Equipment bonus to Fortitude does.
That won't work, LoN. AC needs to have every modifier that Reflex gets plus. Otherwise, you can end up with characters that are harder to touch than they are to strike with a weapon, and that makes no sense.

Although the expressions will probably look similar to what you have (each divided out individually), I have a feeling that AC will basically be Reflex + Armor Bonus + Misc Bonus, with the latter being class and magic bonuses.
I'd just like to say that I kind of feel that the 3.5 numbers make more intuitive sense to me.

When a dragon breathes fire on you, I don't see him "aiming" except in the most general sense. He's just filling up the space where you are with fire, you're the one scrambling to get out of the way, you should be rolling. When someone tries to strike you with a weapon, they are aiming. You are trying to get out of the way as well, but we only let the attacker roll in order to speed gameplay. Basically, I think whoever is trying to succeed at something difficult should roll, and in the case of saving throws, while I recognize someone is attacking, the attacker is usually invoking a supernatural power or spell that should just work, leaving it up to the victim to deal, particularly in the case of reflex saves.

Also, I kind of liked save or dies, they made spellcasters highly threatening. Oh well. Hopefully if they get this right, combat will be easier and more exciting.
That won't work, LoN. AC needs to have every modifier that Reflex gets plus. Otherwise, you can end up with characters that are harder to touch than they are to strike with a weapon, and that makes no sense.

Although the expressions will probably look similar to what you have (each divided out individually), I have a feeling that AC will basically be Reflex + Armor Bonus + Misc Bonus, with the latter being class and magic bonuses.

Well, in SWSE there is an ability called Improved Armor Defense that allows half an armor bonus to stack with your Level Bonus.

Maybe all characters proficient in an armor type will have that except they stack the full bonus from the armor.

With lower Level bonuses (half character level instead of full character bonus) thing gets high, but not overwhelmingly high, especially as they are trying to reduce the Christmas Tree of magic items effect.

I would love to see a rule that prohibits any magic items from stacking for the same stat, even if they are different named bonuses.
I like that they finally released an article that dealt with mechanics directly.

I'm assuming Armor Class stayed because they couldn't figure out what to do with armor. Star Wars armor would be designed to soak up damage from flamethrowers and grenades on top of blasters, but D&D armor would be designed mostly to be effective against physical weapons.
Well, in SWSE there is an ability called Improved Armor Defense that allows half an armor bonus to stack with your Level Bonus.

Maybe all characters proficient in an armor type will have that except they stack the full bonus from the armor.

Unfortunately, that still doesn't quite work out. Imagine that you're wearing armor that gives a bonus of 3, and the level bonus is 1/2 your level. If Reflex gets the level bonus, but AC does not, then once you hit level 6, your Reflex and AC are equal. Then, once you hit level 8, your Reflex climbs above your AC, which, in 3rd edition terms, means that you have a higher Touch AC than base AC! Of course, this is even worse for characters who aren't wearing armor at all -- they could have a lower AC than Reflex (Touch AC) right off the bat.

The only way to guarantee that AC stays above Reflex, as it should, is either for AC to be Reflex + X, or for AC to have every modifier that Reflex gets plus some more (and yes, both of those are essentially the same thing, just expressed differently).
I'm really concerned with (is this in the wrong place?) the idea of taking the saving throw away from the player. There is something fundamental in the idea that a player is taking fate into their own hands and making the roll to determine whether or not something happens to their character.

With the advent of the 3.x system, they did a wonderful thing and incorporated BAB with class and reversed the AC direction to rid us of annoying lookups for "hits" and "misses." THAC0 was a miserable game design. The fix was streamlined but left the fate of the attack in the player's/creature's hands. The fun was "I'm rolling to see if luck will help determine my fate."

When they streamlined saving throws in 3.x (from 5 nebulous saves to 3 universal ones), I think they did a good thing too. The thing that did not change however is that the player still rolled a die to make a save. The fate of the save was in the player's/creature's hands. The fun was "I'm rolling to see if luck will help determine my fate."

I see that this new system (4 defenses) is going to streamline things further... BUT, it does fundamentally change a fun part of the game. Rolling a die to see if you survived the save.

Changing this aspect of "rolling the die to determine your own fate" is a big difference and it disturbs some of the "feel" of the game. The affect happens to a character. The saving throw roll puts the fate of the character in the owner's hands.

To reverse this, whether the mechanic is adding up the same way or not, takes the aspect of luck of what is about to happen to your character out of the character's/creature's hands. This change, regardless of how much easier, or faster (or more universal) is taking away the self-determined feeling of putting the luck/fate into the die-roller's hands.

Now to be clear, I'm not saying it won't work. I'm not saying it is horrible. It's just not the way it has been for 30+ years. Again, there is something elementally fun about rolling your own die to determine your own results for success or failure. The luck, the fate of your character is in the die roll that you make. This is the fun aspect of the game. This should not change.

Aluvial
SWSE use Jump or Acrobatics, yes they are different skills.

Of course they are different skills. I was referring to which skill you use in SWSE when a trap door opens underneath your feet. I seem to recall that an example was given where Acrobatics was the skill used. I wasn't saying there is no Jump skill in SWSE - merely that it might not be applicable for the situation.
I think they will probably handle it like so:

Armor Class: 10 + Armor + Shield + Defense Bonus (1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 level?)
Fortitude: 10 + Con mod + Fort Bonus (1/2 or 1/3 level)
Reflexes: 10 + Dex mod + Reflex Bonus (1/2 or 1/3 level)
Willpower: 10 + Wis mod + Will Bonus (1/2 or 1/3 level)

Removing Dex from AC might be the only way to balance out AC compared to Reflexes. Note, Instead of using "defense", I changed the words slightly. Jusdt makes sense and it would save on space on the character sheets.
The luck, the fate of your character is in the die roll that you make. This is the fun aspect of the game.

You must have said this like six times in a single post. And I still must disagree.

The fun of the game does not hinge on being allowed to roll a die when defending against certain types of attacks. I really think the fun of the game lies elsewhere.

And why should you only be allowed to roll your defence against poisons, area attacks, and mindaffecting spells (to take one example from each category)? You don't get to roll your defence against swords and arrows. Why not make this a more unified mechanic? The attacker rolls the die. Always. Sounds good and simple to me.
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