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I agree that expecting the RAW rules to provide "balance" is a bad idea, it is up to the GM to provide balance, either through GM fiat or allowing the RAW rules to be bent/broken in certain cases.

 

If a player wants to play a Peasant who is brought along on an adventure with Warriors and Mages. There are two ways the GM can allow that to happen, either have the Peasant character start with a realistic point total to the concept (Normal Human, so like 50 pts or less) while all the other Players are built on 200+ points, but because of GM control of the game, the character is almost never attacked in combat as he/she is not seen as an "immediate threat" by the bag guys; or allow the player to build the character with the same 200+ points, but to break the caps and other "rules" that the rest of the party follow, so in this case maybe at first the Peasant character is allowed to have 10 levels of Combat Luck giving them basically 30 rPD/rED, but also restricting them to doing 1/2d6KA at most with any weapon. Then as the campaign progresses the more they raises their ability to do damage, the more their Combat Luck has to drop, until eventually they are "on par" with the rest of the party in defenses and damage dealing. 

 

And as for trying to imitate the LotR, I think that is also a bad idea as it is almost impossible to capture that kind of feeling/storytelling in any RPG, except maybe Amber Diceless. In any other system with fixed rules for attack, damage, phases, turns, skill rolls, etc... you can't really "capture" the magic or feeling of LotR without once again, ignoring a lot of the Caps, RAW rules, etc... I'm mean just look at those books/movies. How often is anyone injured in combat, even these massive wars? Almost never. They either get thorough fine, or they die. Almost never any in between unless it is for plot reasons. Frodo gets stabbed and almost dies, that regents son is badly injured and almost dies so his father wants to burn the body, but then he recovers in time, Frodo again gets poisoned, but rescued, and again Frodo also loses a finger, but I think that's it. Every other "injury" in combat also means the death of the character, Broimier dies, Gandalf dies. Even the Night King, once injured dies, and the Rohdan leader also dies once injured. But in all those other battles, and freaking wars when they are fighting and killing hundreds of enemies each, Aagorn, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, Mary and Pipin never get a scratch of damage. (actually I think Mary gets knocked unconscious once, but only for a few seconds and recovers without injury). So it would be almost impossible to play a game that captures the feeling or scope of LotR without massive GM fiat or by breaking the RAW rules to allow for such play. 

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I can't comment on the "Kane" series because I've never read it, but Opal reminds me of a discussion a friend of mine read on RPGNet: on the inverse relationship between literary merit and gameability

Here's another one.     Burned out wizard:  This is someone who knows a lot of spells, but has lost all of their magical ability in some way.  They probably have a lot of knowledge of magic-

I mean, you can do anything with a class-based system, but it require building an entirely new class to cover that specific build.

I concede the LotR argument. I meant simply to illustrate that such a construct could be viable, and you confirmed one potential means of doing it. Even Hero taken straight up doesn't really lay down a hard and fast attempt at balance and doesn't do the best indicating that it is something the players need to work out (GM being a player as well).

 

LotR is like playing with all the lethality options running. Good, till you mess up, then the character gets their name in the dead book. It does make sense given the nature of combat/war, particularly in the age of swords. In the middle of a battlefield taking a hit to an arm could likely mean your death. Plus the whole story as allegory makes that perspective take on a little more meaning.

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On 4/11/2021 at 4:23 AM, mallet said:

And as for trying to imitate the LotR, I think that is also a bad idea as it is almost impossible to capture that kind of feeling/storytelling in any RPG, except maybe Amber Diceless. In any other system with fixed rules for attack, damage, phases, turns, skill rolls, etc... you can't really "capture" the magic or feeling of LotR without once again, ignoring a lot of the Caps, RAW rules, etc... I'm mean just look at those books/movies. How often is anyone injured in combat, even these massive wars? Almost never. They either get thorough fine, or they die. Almost never any in between unless it is for plot reasons. Frodo gets stabbed and almost dies, that regents son is badly injured and almost dies so his father wants to burn the body, but then he recovers in time, Frodo again gets poisoned, but rescued, and again Frodo also loses a finger, but I think that's it. Every other "injury" in combat also means the death of the character, Broimier dies, Gandalf dies. Even the Night King, once injured dies, and the Rohdan leader also dies once injured. But in all those other battles, and freaking wars when they are fighting and killing hundreds of enemies each, Aagorn, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, Mary and Pipin never get a scratch of damage. (actually I think Mary gets knocked unconscious once, but only for a few seconds and recovers without injury). So it would be almost impossible to play a game that captures the feeling or scope of LotR without massive GM fiat or by breaking the RAW rules to allow for such play. 

 

LOTR is only a viable campaign if Frodo is a DNPC.  His main function is to serve as a mule carrying the Macguffin.  The rest of the Fellowship must then defend the Macguffin-mule while he gets stabbed on Weathertop, grabbed by a kraken outside Moria, stabbed again in Moria, almost captured by the Uruk-Hai, almost hypnotized by the Dead Marshes, poisoned by Shelob, captured in Cirith Ungol, partially eaten by Gollum, and stabbed again by Sharkey.

 

I've played in games where the players just gave up trying to protect DNPCs that were this helpless or unlucky.

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7 hours ago, Old Man said:

I've played in games where the players just gave up trying to protect DNPCs that were this helpless or unlucky.

 

Years ago there was a Webcomic called "DM or the Rings" that was made entirely of screen grabs from the LotR movies and told the story as if it were an RPG game.

Boromir & the Hobbit's players abandoned the whole thing to play Star Wars after Boromir got killed.  The rest of the game was the remaining players being murder hobos and putting up with Gandalf the GM PC while ignoring the occasional updates on Frodo (whose player convinced everyone to play Starwars instead of the Battletech game another Hobbit player was pitching.  The remaining players enjoyed all the fighting at HelmsDeep & The White City but were a bit peeved when none of it mattered because the entire game came down to Frodo's will save at Mt. Doom.

Here we are

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6 hours ago, drunkonduty said:

 

Are you trolling reddit? Hilarious.


I’m actually not—someone posted a question asking for mechanics the game didn’t have, so I answered. 
 

I also mentioned that there were no mechanics for any non-pseudo-Vancian magic, but no one’s arguing that. 

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On 4/6/2021 at 10:30 AM, Opal said:

There are really very few character concepts that /can/ be done in any game system, in a way that's playable, let alone grasps that elusive holy grail of balance.

Well, I did it, I used the 'b' word, mea culpa...

...but, what I was trying to say was that character concepts could be, downright unplayable in and of themselves, irrespective of system.  "Unplayable" being worse than merely imbalanced.  For a simplistic example, your character concept could be "can do everything every other PC can do, but 10 times as good" it doesn't matter the system, the DM, the long-suffering nobility of the other players, it's an imbalanced concept, in itself.  But even worse, you can have a concept that simply can't be played in the context of a multi-player game - any game.

 

Unfortunately I opened up the old Pandora's Jar of worms:  Perfect balance is impossible, so we should revel in utterly imbalanced games.  Yeah, no, not what I was getting at, at all.

 

On 4/11/2021 at 6:13 AM, theinfn8 said:

since balance is a myth, we must accept that there will be unbalance and allow choices by players that serve the fiction

 

On 4/11/2021 at 7:23 AM, mallet said:

expecting the RAW rules to provide "balance" is a bad idea, it is up to the GM to provide balance, either through GM fiat or allowing the RAW rules to be bent/broken in certain cases.

 

On 4/11/2021 at 6:58 PM, theinfn8 said:

Even Hero taken straight up doesn't really lay down a hard and fast attempt at balance

 

Balance is a quality that games have to varying degrees.  It may not be readily quantifiable, but qualitatively, it's objectively real.  And, ceteris paribus (though, like 'perfect balance is impossible' ceteris never is quite paribus), a better-balanced game is a better game than a more-poorly balanced one.  That some character concepts, by there very nature, are unplayable or at least imbalanced in and of themselves, doesn't change the relative qualities of the various systems that you'd better not try to play those concepts in, because the concepts are that way even before system comes into the picture.

 

I also brought up the Fellowship, sorry, my fault again, which gets brought up a lot because D&D is conventionally considered derivative of Tolkien, yet can't begin to model the Fellowship in a way that, in play, has any chance of resulting in anything even faintly resembling LotR.  I think that really implies something else:  that D&D isn't nearly as Tolkien-derivative as it's given demerits for, but owes a lot more to Lieber, Moorcock, Howard, even Lovecraft - and, especially, though you may never have heard of him, to Karl Edward Wagner.  It just lifted a few prominent bits - Ents, wights, wargs, orcs, balrogs, Mithril shirts, glowing blades, invisibility rings, elfin cloaks, Hold Portal, pyrotechnics, fire seeds.  But as far as the sorts of adventures you actually did, D&D PCs were a lot more like Karl Edward Wagner's Kane (a completely amoral, immortal, mercenary, fighter/magic-user - the original murder hobo) than Gandalf, Aragorn, Leggo Lass,* Gimlet, and those other short dudes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Leggo Lass so needs to show up as some Joker-clone's sidekick someday.

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I can't comment on the "Kane" series because I've never read it, but Opal reminds me of a discussion a friend of mine read on RPGNet: on the inverse relationship between literary merit and gameability. Like, Anna Karenina: the RPG? No. It would never work. But Knight Rider: the RPG? The game practically writes itself. The PCs all work for the mysterious Foundation, which equips them with an artificially-intelligent super-car. They fight crime!

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 4/2/2021 at 7:07 PM, Old Man said:

 

Storm Druid

Plant Druid

Fey Sorcerer

Dragon-pact Warlock

Shaman Warlock

Ice Cleric

STR-based Monk (see Unarmed Brawler)

Jester Bard

Barbarian Shaman

 

 

 

Kinda proud to say I have no idea what the D&D-specific conceptions of "sorcerer", "warlock" and even "druid" may be...warlocks have pacts with an entity? Druids shapeshift into beasts? (there's a recent concept, nothing to do with druidism in my mind) Anyway, Hero can obviously do them all, and better 🙂

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6 hours ago, Nemblamenchisus said:

 

Kinda proud to say I have no idea what the D&D-specific conceptions of "sorcerer", "warlock" and even "druid" may be...warlocks have pacts with an entity? Druids shapeshift into beasts? (there's a recent concept, nothing to do with druidism in my mind) Anyway, Hero can obviously do them all, and better 🙂

 

I'm in a 5e campaign now.  Got my paladin up to 6th level before I picked up a PHB (Amazon had a 50% off sale).  I then realized I have no flippin' idea how to play D&D. 

 

But yeah, not only is it class based, the classes are wack.  Although bards and monks are still OP so that's the same.

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On 4/15/2021 at 10:05 PM, Opal said:

Well, I did it, I used the 'b' word, mea culpa...

...but, what I was trying to say was that character concepts could be, downright unplayable in and of themselves, irrespective of system.  "Unplayable" being worse than merely imbalanced.  For a simplistic example, your character concept could be "can do everything every other PC can do, but 10 times as good" it doesn't matter the system, the DM, the long-suffering nobility of the other players, it's an imbalanced concept, in itself.  But even worse, you can have a concept that simply can't be played in the context of a multi-player game - any game.

 

Unfortunately I opened up the old Pandora's Jar of worms:  Perfect balance is impossible, so we should revel in utterly imbalanced games.  Yeah, no, not what I was getting at, at all.

 

 

 

 

Balance is a quality that games have to varying degrees.  It may not be readily quantifiable, but qualitatively, it's objectively real.  And, ceteris paribus (though, like 'perfect balance is impossible' ceteris never is quite paribus), a better-balanced game is a better game than a more-poorly balanced one.  That some character concepts, by there very nature, are unplayable or at least imbalanced in and of themselves, doesn't change the relative qualities of the various systems that you'd better not try to play those concepts in, because the concepts are that way even before system comes into the picture.

 

I also brought up the Fellowship, sorry, my fault again, which gets brought up a lot because D&D is conventionally considered derivative of Tolkien, yet can't begin to model the Fellowship in a way that, in play, has any chance of resulting in anything even faintly resembling LotR.  I think that really implies something else:  that D&D isn't nearly as Tolkien-derivative as it's given demerits for, but owes a lot more to Lieber, Moorcock, Howard, even Lovecraft - and, especially, though you may never have heard of him, to Karl Edward Wagner.  It just lifted a few prominent bits - Ents, wights, wargs, orcs, balrogs, Mithril shirts, glowing blades, invisibility rings, elfin cloaks, Hold Portal, pyrotechnics, fire seeds.  But as far as the sorts of adventures you actually did, D&D PCs were a lot more like Karl Edward Wagner's Kane (a completely amoral, immortal, mercenary, fighter/magic-user - the original murder hobo) than Gandalf, Aragorn, Leggo Lass,* Gimlet, and those other short dudes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Leggo Lass so needs to show up as some Joker-clone's sidekick someday.

 

Perhaps brevity worked against me. It would be more accurate to say "objective balance is a myth". Each play group (or GM) will pick the system that matches best with the play goal they are looking for. There are obviously a ton of people that find the setup and genre assumptions inherent in D&D to be to their liking. I pick the system I run my games in based on the goal of the game (and the comfort level of my players, who are incredibly patient with me and phenomenal roleplayers). Each system is balanced differently and does things with different assumptions.

 

To get back towards the character concept issue, I typically pitch my game to the players, usually with a system or two in mind, and we figure out how they want to play it. Basic character conception. Then we use the system that best emulates our desired ends. Usually one of the systems I had in mind, but I've been surprised on occasion. It has never been D&D 5e, but it has been 4e, oddly enough.

 

Agreed on the concepts 5e (any "e") fails on is more complex magic users. Never been a huge fan of "vancian" magic.

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At this point, D^D is no longer trying to emulate anything in particular. It is its own thing. Character classes are developed according to notions of resource management and other matters internal to the game, as from any underlying inspration from myth or fiction. Which is fine, so long as you don't care about emulating anything in particular from outside the game system.

 

Like "vancian" magic, whose only connection to Jack Vance's The Dying Earth is the notion of spellcasters needing to prepare a limited number of spells, which disappear from memory as they are cast. This is nothing like any system of magic anyone ever believed in, but it's a very gameable concept of magic as a resource to manage.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Addendum: But I agree with Old Man that many of the subclass options are wackadoodle even within the inner logic of D&D. Mere grab-bags of features with little connection to the supposed concept of the subclass, which sometimes is only tenuously connected to the base class or just leaves me baffled why anyone thought this was interesting.

 

But then, the writers who design these subclasses have the disadvantage of not being me. <shrug>

 

Dean Shomshak

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9 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Like "vancian" magic, whose only connection to Jack Vance's The Dying Earth is the notion of spellcasters needing to prepare a limited number of spells, which disappear from memory as they are cast. This is nothing like any system of magic anyone ever believed in, but it's a very gameable concept of magic as a resource to manage.

 

Thank you for this.  The second biggest thing that bothers me about all flavors of D&D is the "Vancian" magic system, which 1) doesn't really resemble the magic in the Vance stories I've read and 2) has to be the most esoteric fictional magic system to try to emulate. 

 

It's especially bonkers that the same magic system is used for priestly magic.

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2 hours ago, theinfn8 said:

I dare say, D&D at this stage is trying to emulate itself!

 

Not a bad strategy.  A recent unofficial online poll showed that the two things D&D players love the most about D&D are classes and levels.  "Vancian" magic is top five.  Whereas they can't stand the way D&D 5e "dumbed down" the game.  To me that's incredible--I find D&D 5e to be the least unplayable version of the game since Basic and Expert.

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39 minutes ago, Old Man said:

 

Not a bad strategy.  A recent unofficial online poll showed that the two things D&D players love the most about D&D are classes and levels.  "Vancian" magic is top five.  Whereas they can't stand the way D&D 5e "dumbed down" the game.  To me that's incredible--I find D&D 5e to be the least unplayable version of the game since Basic and Expert.

Well you know how polls work. I’ve seen one and the majority of players that are into  the OSR scene use the ones that emulate Basic D&D NOT AD&D.  People are fickle.

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On 4/16/2021 at 4:18 PM, DShomshak said:

I can't comment on the "Kane" series because I've never read it, but Opal reminds me of a discussion a friend of mine read on RPGNet: on the inverse relationship between literary merit and gameability. Like, Anna Karenina: the RPG? No. It would never work. But Knight Rider: the RPG? The game practically writes itself. The PCs all work for the mysterious Foundation, which equips them with an artificially-intelligent super-car. They fight crime!

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

Two words:

 

Team  Knightrider.

 

It's a real thing; it happened.

 

And it was _so much worse_ than I could possibly ever hope to describe......

 

 

Available on Google Play, while that lasts.    

 

(Don't do it:  that is an amount of life that will never be refunded, and never spent on worthwhile things like bathing cats or onion-eating competitions)

 

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Two words:

 

Team  Knightrider.

 

It's a real thing; it happened.

 

And it was _so much worse_ than I could possibly ever hope to describe......

 

I actually watched it when it was on, because I was too poor to have Cable & streaming didn't exist yet.  I would never want to see it again, but a whole team of heroes each with their own sentient vehicle is the most gameable version of the franchise.  Way easier to fit into a group dynamic than Michael Knight, KITT, & his DNPCs back on the truck.
 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

I think I saw this on RPG.net, but there seems to be a principle that the less literary merit a work has, the more gameable it is.


Literary merit tends to be built out of different things than a really good gaming session.


I would never want to game out an Anton Chekhov novel, but most Chuck Norris movies are at least a decent framework for a game.

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