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Honestly, he has somewhat of a point with around half of his "Ten Dumb Things".
I count about two valid points that aren't simply personal preference.
Ability scores do indeed have a dwindling list of reasons to exist, to the point that they're primarily just an extra round of math for coming up with the numbers that actually matter. It would be trivial to tweak feat prereqs and stat damage to use only the modifier, at which point the only reason the ability scores would exist at all would be so that you could generate your modifiers using 3d6 instead of some other method. Kind of pointless. From a game design standpoint, ability scores aren't offering enough to be reasonable to include.
He's also correct that some of the classifications of what uses the attack/AC mechanic and what uses the saving throw mechanic are arbitrary and nonsensical. I have myself pointed out before that it's kind of silly that a Pathfinder spellcaster can have two different means of shooting magical lightning from their hand toward an enemy that both care about the target's innate ability to react quickly, yet for no discernible reason only one of them cares about my aim, only one of them cares about the target's skill at avoiding things, only one of them cares about my mental capacity for magic, and they each care about different sets of magical defenses. Completely ridiculous.
However, that's where his list of valid points ends. Everything else is subjective, ranging from personal stylistic preferences (some of which I share) to outright racism.
It's actually pretty easy to design 5th Ed. monsters. Since they don't follow all the rules that PCs do (no feats, skill points, etc.), you can pretty much just choose AC, HP, ability scores, attacks, damage, and what spells or special abilities you want them to have.
I've made up the stats for literally every single enemy my players have ever encountered in any 5E game I've run.
Alex Trebek's Stunt Double wrote:
I don't see a problem here.
That's fine. Just a few posts back I was talking about how the existence of the disparity doesn't have to mean everyone's fun is ruined. Heck, some people want the disparity. That's totally fine.
What's the problem with Endure Elements? Its a REALLY handy spell for GM who wants to introduce interesting extreme environments but endless fortitude saves can be too much of a chore. This is a good thing for the group to have. Wouldn't that be cool? Going into an underground level with Lava flowing everywhere or a completely frozen ice palace.
The issue is not that endure elements exists, the issue is that it's the only way to enable the things it enables; there's no martial option to become a badass who doesn't fear the air temperature. Either you get a caster to supply Spell X, or you face hazards on the same level as a Commoner with better numbers.
Someone said Overland Flight, the 5th level personal only spell? Nah. It's only good for Wizard to scout ahead, and if he goes ahead without fighter cover then he's going to get munched.
You think O.F. is a scouting spell? That explained some of your confusion; let me try to clarify.
The issue with O.F. is that it alters the nature of the adventure. The flying wizard can ignore geographical obstacles like cliffs and chasms, and in any combat against non-flying enemies, he can keep his distance and fight on his terms (this also relates to the non-importance of wizard AC, which I'll discuss more later). Overland flight's strength is not about scouting (though it can be used for that too), it's about the ability to set the terms of the game, in a way that no martial character can come close to (up to and including sometimes just deciding whether or not to even have a given encounter at all). It neutralizes whole swaths of monsters and enemy types, bypasses innumerable obstacles, and invalidates entire story tropes; simply by virtue of letting the caster ignore the state of the terrain and operate in three dimensions while others must operate in two.
Teleport is the same level, I guess the wizard has to fly there, get very familiar with the teleport target area, fly back all while avoiding the quest stuff to teleport the rest of the crew.
Once again, we're envisioning different uses of the spell, so I'll elaborate.
The most basic use is to leave a dungeon. You go adventuring, gradually expending the party's resources... and instead of having to trek back to a safe location to rest (and having to save resources for the return trek itself), you just adventure until you're down to mostly just teleport, then POOF! The party is whisked away to wherever you were already planning to rest that night. Additionally, if things go south and you need to bail out in an emergency, teleport is gonna be way better than just running.
There are other uses as well. I was playing an 11th-level adventure, and it included some kind of airship chase with custom mechanics for trying to catch up to the enemy and so forth. Instead, our party just teleported onto the enemy airship (not very risky when you can see the destination). So much for the pages of airship chase mechanics.
Really, the potential uses for instantaneous, long-distance, group transportation is limited only by your imagination. Try some games with a couple slots prepared and look for ways it could influence the situation, and I guarantee you'll start to see the power.
This just seems amazingly salty, I've never experienced this bitterness in any other game nor media. It's like a soldier hitching a ride in a helicopter and b+%%%ing the whole way about how a helicopter is so much faster and more convenient than walking. Oh give me a break.
All I did in my last post was disagree with your ideas. I'm going to go ahead and try to politely explain my ideas. You can feel free to choose how you're going to react to contrary points of view: to discuss them, to ignore them, or to lash out at them. It's up to you.
Infiltration is a team game as well, come on, haven't you heard of the Wookie Prisoner routine? Someone disguised as a guard, another apparently a prisoner and wizard nearby and invisible. The wizard can't just leave everyone else behind. And if EVERYONE is going to get invisibility cast on them then GOOD, considering how verboten party-splits are, it's no damn good if Rogue can sneak in but others cannot, you just tell the rest of the players to leave the table because they can't do anything and they can't actually see or hear what's going on.
I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. I agree that infiltration is supposed to be a team game. That's part of the issue: unless the entire party builds for Stealth, the only way to make infiltration happen is with magic (such as the invisibility spell). The wizard can make sure Sir Clanksalot gets included. The rogue can only cover himself. That's part of the issue.
Additionally, infiltration usually involves gathering information about the location ahead of time, and once again, magic is the best way to do it. Magic can let you look through the walls, scry, or otherwise investigate at little to no personal risk and with much better odds of success than nonmagical methods. To use a real example, my party (same party as in the airship chase) wanted to scout out a mansion where we expected trouble. The druid turned into an earth elemental so she could glide silently through all the stone walls, another caster made her invisible so she wouldn't be seen doing it (at this point she's both silent and invisible, thus virtually undetectable), and I cast telepathy so that she could soundlessly communicate with us in real time. We were able to discover a deception and also investigate a later encounter area, letting us go into the situation already knowing that which the baddy wanted to conceal, and also already having appropriate buffs in place (resist energy, etc). A nonmagical team couldn't have managed that in a million years.
Charm Person is VERY much appreciated as the unpleasant alternative that appears without it, and that is for the desperate players to start torturing whatever poor sap they caught alive and it all gets way too unpleasant. And Charm Person just simplifies a tedious step. It puts them in a good position but you need the whole crew Role Playing and backing with with good diplomacy rolls to get the desired result.
Charm person isn't really on my list of spells that are an issue, and I haven't seen many complaints about it from others. I'm not sure why you're bringing it up.
I re-read your post and couldn't find your explanation of how wizard AC matters. Perhaps you meant to explain but forgot?
In any case, you're correct that I didn't explain why wizard AC doesn't matter. I was trying to be brief (as you can see, I can get longwinded if I'm not careful). Here's my explanation:
A wizard's AC doesn't matter (past very low levels), because AC only matters when it's the primary thing getting between a target and an attacker, which tends not to be the case with a wizard (again, outside very low levels).
For one thing, there's the aforementioned overland flight. In any battlefield other than a low-ceiling dungeon, the wizard is just straight-up immune to non-flying non-archers' attack rolls. That's a sizable chunk of encounters in which his AC is literally irrelevant.
So that leaves us with those encounters where the wizard is actually reachable: either there's no room for altitude, or the enemies can fly/shoot. (I'm not counting enemy casters, because we're talking about AC, and they won't be targeting AC.) Now the wizard is at least capable of being attacked, but his AC is not his only defense: blur, mirror image, displacement, stoneskin... just in the Core Rulebook, the wizard has a number of buffs (some low enough level to carry on scrolls or in wands if he prefers) that give him comparable—or even superior—odds of being missed by an attack regardless of his AC.
Now, you did point out that some of his AC (maybe you meant his defenses in general?) don't work if he gets ambushed. This very fact is probably the reason the Divination school is so popular: that wizard literally can't be surprised. He can throw up a defensive buff before the ambushers themselves even get to act. But hey, that's just one build, right? Well, the rest of the wizards can still max out Perception (they have lots of skill points, and can spare more wealth for skill-boosting items than martials can) and can pump their initiative higher than most martials thanks to init-boosting familiars.
And even if you do have a situation where (1) the monster is capable of making attack rolls against the wizard and (2) the wizard hasn't been able to put up a defensive buff yet, wizards typically have almost as much HP as a fighter: from hit dice, the wizard averages only 2 less HP/level than the fighter, the relative significance of which decreases as they level up due to steady increases in CON due to stat-boosting items and effects (which, ironically, the wizard can obtain more cheaply than the fighter). Thus, one bad round won't drop the wizard, and then he can use a turn establishing himself to make his AC not matter.
Put it all together, and 99% of the time (outside of very low levels), the wizard's AC does not matter.
There, now I've explained it. :)
Sorry if I miscommunicated; I'm not saying (and I don't think anyone else is either) that the wizard shouldn't be a good, strong class. I love me some good spell-slingin' as much as the next guy. I'm just saying he shouldn't be BETTER than other classes. It's about relative power. Don't necessarily need to power-down the wizard; you could power-up the fighter, or maybe meet in the middle (5E did this to some degree).
I totally agree with you that wizard should be a good class. :)
It does not leave other players left out of the game, what's the point in all these spells to trip, disarm or blind if the there's no one to exploit this?
Oh absolutely, I like the spells that simply create opportunities that the martials can exploit. That's good fun teamwork, and I love it. :) Those aren't the types of spells in question here. Really, that's where I wish more magic was designed to be.
It's only a bad thing when he can destroy as well as Fighter can, well he can't. Most GM's can easily stop such blasting.
You're correct that "blasting" can't destroy things as well as a fighter can. However, two things:
First, as I've said before, C/MD is primarily a non-combat issue. Yes, the fighter is good at depleting enemy HP. However, that's basically all he gets to do. Whenever you encounter an obstacle that isn't a creature whose HP needs to be depleted (and that's a lot of situations, unless your games are mostly hack-and-slash dungeon crawls, which is fine, just not something that can be universally assumed), then martials generally can't contribute. Some of them have skills, but usually there's a cheap-and-easy spell that the caster can whip out at trivial cost (especially with scrolls and wands) which handles the situation better. That's the bulk of the C/MD: out-of-combat narrative options.
Second, even in combat, "blasting" is often considered the weakest thing a caster can do. If a caster needs to end an enemy, he can summon an extraplanar minion that fights just as well as (sometimes better than) a fighter. Or in some cases, he gets such a creature by default (druid with companion). Some casters can actually do the fighting themselves: I've played a cleric who, starting at a very early level, was just as effective on the front lines as a fighter, while still getting to dispel the darkness and walk on air and raise the dead in addition to his melee combat capability. So, yes, the casters can destroy things just as well as the fighter in some cases; they just won't be doing it with fireball.
Golems are totally immune to all spells with any sort of spell resistance which is... almost all of them. One relevant exception is Disable Construct specifically spells out relevant penalties. They present a huge problem for.
Once again, summoned creatures are a good answer. The wizard can take a nap on a cloud while his summoned monster fights the golem. Or he can blind it with glitterdust, drop it in a create pit, or even just decide not to fight it and just fly away. Non-SR spells may be a minority, but they still include a lot of very strong spells, many of which the wizard would have prepared anyway.
And that's just a traditional wizard; there's also the shapeshifting druids (and their animal companions), the battle oracles, clerics like mine that I already mentioned, and others who can just stab the golem and use their magic on the next fight instead. No fighter required.
Serious talk now: why do Tabletop RPGs have this prejudice when other games do not?
Couple of things:
First, "prejudice" means making a judgment before looking at the evidence. If you ask the folks who complain about the C/MD, you'll find that they encountered it in actual play. This is not some phantom idea that got into people's heads but doesn't match reality. This is how the game actually goes in practice. This is not prejudice.
Second, this isn't something that appears in tabletop RPGs in general (as you suggest), but rather something that's mostly present in 3.X and PF systems. D&D 5E has much less of a C/MD issue, I've gotten the impression that it was very differently balanced in AD&D and 2E, and many non-D&D-style tabletop RPGs don't have the issue at all.
So this is not a "prejudice" that exists with "tabletop RPGs", this is an experience-based critique of a couple of specific games' design flaws.
So why doesn't this issue come up in other games? Because other games are other games. Why would this games design flaws show up in other games? They wouldn't, just like those other games' design flaws wouldn't show up in Pathfinder.
This is classic dynamic class roles, different classes with radically different capabilities and strengths and weaknesses. Wizard is great for enabling magic in other non-magic characters.
That's the ideal, and some games (both tabletop and otherwise) achieve it beautifully. Other games, such as Pathfinder, have design issues. Would you really expect every fantasy game to achieve the same balance ideal? Should it really surprise you that one or two of them missed the mark?
Hopefully this post helps elaborate on the subject. I'd be happy to continue discussing it with you. Sorry for any previous miscommunications. :)
Like so many before you, you're still just thinking in terms of combat, which is not the lion's share of the issue. The countermeasures you list are completely irrelevant to traveling, infiltrating, investigating, predicting the future, raising the dead, spying, mind control, and so forth.
And even just in the context of combat, most of your assessments are horrifically flawed: thinking that a wizard's AC matters, or that not being able to use "direct attack spells" is somehow a power-down, or that golems actually present a problem for casters, etc.
The key difference, though, is that the game doesn't present high and low levels as being equivalent PC choices, and it doesn't tell GMs to award the same amount of experience for defeating high or low level NPCs. The game does those things for casters and martials.
As I see it, at its heart, CM/D is about one group of players getting to have more fun than the others.
Eh, not exactly. There's an important distinction you're failing to make.
The existence of the disparity is entirely independent of who is (or isn't) having fun.
The disparity exists objectively. The fact that casters can fly, turn invisible, travel the planes, cure HP damage, foretell the future and summon fantastical minions is not subjective; it's objective fact, written right there on the page in black and white. The fact that martials can't do those things is similarly objective, not subjective. The disparity exists.
How the disparity affects (or doesn't affect) people's fun at the table? That is the part that's subjective. Some people are bothered by it, some don't care, some actually like it and would be upset if it were gone. The fun varies; the fun is subjective.
The disparity exists. It just doesn't negatively impact the fun for everybody.
Now, I realize this isn't quite pertinent to your post, but I felt it was worth bringing up in general, and in fact I wish I could go back and edit the OP to include it. Very often, when someone tries to discuss the C/MD, others will use an argument that's along the lines of "My games have been fun, therefore there isn't a disparity." From there it escalates to the accusations of non-teamwork or only-in-theory or whatever else, because some folks just can't accept that a game they're having fun with could simultaneously have a major design flaw. :/
The Sword wrote:
I find it interesting that sometimes all casters are lumped in together. Casters are talked about as if they have the abilities of all casters when in fact they each have their specialities. If clerics want to be casting knock or invisibility then they need to be built specifically to do that, which means they are giving up other powers.
I'm struggling to figure out how the distinction you're pointing out is significant enough to really make a difference.
Sure, the wizard can't make CLW wands or ask God a question and expect a useful answer, but he can still teleport, fly all day, have breakfast in heaven, and summon extraplanar beings to do his bidding. Sure, the cleric can't fly all day or teleport, but he's the only reason fighters can claim to go all day, he can walk on air, he can have breakfast in heaven, he can ask God a question and get an answer, and he can raise the dead.
But yeah, when comparing to a martial who can do none of those things, let's make sure not to accidentally blend those two lists, amirite?
This kind of thing could be done via e-mail or text, but would take dozens, if not more, such communications over (probably) multiple days to achieve what an hour or two sitting together at a table would do.
Yes, it will take dozens of emails over the course of multiple days to get everything settled. And in my experience, a few days of everybody checking their email whenever THEY have the time, without having to wait until everybody else can synch up with them, is waaaay easier to make actually happen than to schedule and coordinate six busy people into a single place all at the same time.
If it's seriously no harder for you and your friends to all get to the table for a couple of hours all at the same time than it is for each of you to hit "Reply All" at your leisure, then count your blessings because you're living a truly charmed life.
Why is "communicate about expectations/boundaries" tied to having an actual "Session 0"? The last two times I've joined a face-to-face D&D campaign, all the parameters were established via email so that people could make their characters on their own time and show up to the first session ready to play.
Maybe it's different for others, but I find that actual time together at the gaming table is scarce and difficult to schedule; therefore, getting character creation taken care of beforehand saves precious session time. Why spend a valuable game night doing things that could've been done BEFORE game night?
It seems that your REAL message (and one I agree with) is to communicate the parameters of the campaign prior to getting started. Great idea. But unless you all live in caves with no means of communicating except in person, why in the world would you spend a session on it?
So, when a term consistently has large amounts of disagreement about what falls within it's definition and what doesn't, would you consider that term well defined? Or poorly defined?
I submit that a term's definition can be entirely clear while the term still generates large amounts of disagreement about what it means.
To phrase it more sourly, lots of people being wrong doesn't mean a term is unclear.
For example, consider the use of "literally" and other qualifiers as intensifiers. The fact that lots of people think "literally" means something similar to "very" does not mean that it's poorly defined.
Doesn't help the current situation much, but still.
And here I thought I was just defining it based on what the word actually says: playing a role. Made sense to me, from a linguistic standpoint, that the meaning of a compound word would be strongly linked to the meanings of its component parts. How did you arrive at the conclusion that it instead meant "the talky part"? I'm curious to follow the thought-path that makes "talking" the true definition and "playing a role" the forced re-definition of the word "roleplay".
Then what do you actually mean by "roleplay"?
Sounds to me like you're so busy being offended at the suggestion that your preferred outfit might be of a lower quality level that you've forgotten that pretending to be a French Maid was never really the point of the evening.
If you really want to be the French Maid, ascertain the level of the quality gap. If it's minor, ask your partner to overlook it because that's what you want to be tonight. Or if the outfit really is a piece of crap, then it might not be fair to ask your partner to try and get hot while looking at that, so maybe you should do a little quick needlework or hit up a different store and find a new French Maid outfit that isn't so ugly (and if there's no time tonight, consider being a team player yourself and being a dom for one night, then bringing a better French Maid experience tomorrow). Or if your partner won't consider your preferences in this experiences, show them the door.
Seriously, it's really not that complicated of a situation to resolve for a pair of mature adults.
I'm there to roleplay, and supposedly the rest of the group as well. Yet certain systems seem to pressure one into rollplay rather than roleplay. (Of course, it also depends on the group. Some are better at hand-waiving mechanics because they're more interested in the roleplay aspect. At least, that's been my experience.)
Perfect example of the "roleplay means the talky, non-mechanical part" error.
Since all I own is the PHB, I've been making stuff up for my monsters.
If I may toot my own horn a bit, I like what I came up with for zombies. They never just straight-up attack. They always start with grappling (or, if a couple other zombies already have grapples established, maybe pulling you down prone). A zombie that already has a hold on you will then use bite attacks.
Since there's always at least a one-round delay before any damage actually happens, you can get away with throwing in more zombies for the threat level than you could with other monsters of similar AC/HP, which lets you get the "hordes of shambling undead" trope going. Then they start grabbing you and dragging you down, for some more zombie apocalypse goodness. Then they start eating you alive while you're covered in crawly, grabby zombies.
Those of us who don't do the latter have no need to square it with the former.
Or has the International Tribune of the One Right and True Way to Game...
Says the guy who presents the slaughter of goblins as something so universal to the gaming experience that surely he's now caught all these anti-racists red-handed in their hypocrisy?
I'd say the parallel isn't quite that strong, since the RPG character sheet usually says far more about the capabilities of the character and much less about the motivations and personality.
You speak as though capabilities were less important to the narrative than motivations/personality. That's not true. You can have two different stories about people of similar temperament with the same goal of becoming the greatest X in the world, but having one of them be a prodigy and the other be inept will create a VASTLY different narrative. Both can be great stories, but they will be different stories, even if the only material difference in the characters is their capabilities. You can't have an "underdog" or "zero to hero" story without putting narrative importance on capabilities.
Favoring personality over capability is no less a handicapped attempt at roleplaying than the reverse is.
Especially in games with simpler mechanics, but even in PF, it's possible to have characters with the same build, but roleplay them vastly differently.
No, it's possible to portray them differently. Portraying and roleplaying are two different things. If two characters have equal chances of picking the lock, and one of them is portrayed as a master thief while the other is portrayed as an "all thumbs" brute, then one (or both!) of the portrayals is wrong, and therefore a failure to roleplay. Roleplay is when your portrayal is accurate.
I read many threads here that get caught up in the Role Playing versus Roll Playing discussion, but what I am particularly curious about, is what do you think Role Playing is?
Roleplaying is, pretty literally, playing a role. That is, once you know the "role" of a given character, you "play" accordingly.
A character's "role" could be described as perhaps their definition: what makes them tick, what they're capable of (and what they're not capable of), how they view the world, etc.
To "play" (in this context) means to declare what it is your character is doing: making choices, taking action, and so forth.
Thus, playing the role means that the choices you make and the actions you declare and the ways you talk to other characters are in synch with your character's personality, worldview, and capabilities.
In short, to roleplay is to accurately portray your character.
With that in mind:
Is it killing monsters with die rolls?
If killing monsters is something your character would do in that situation, then to do so is to roleplay while to not do so is to fail to roleplay. The converse holds true as well.
The use of dice is optional, though; tends to depend on the system being used.
Is it building a pyramid of character abilities that produces something unique?
No, but once you've built that unique set of abilities, you've made progress on creating the "role" that's necessary in order to roleplay. If you and your buddy create characters with the same capabilities but portray them as having different capabilities, then at least one of you is failing to roleplay.
The differentiation of character abilities is a necessary component to roleplaying.
Is it interacting with other people, socially, though dialog?
Depends entirely on whether the manner in which you portray your character's social activity is congruent with the character. For a character defined as antisocial and/or a poor speaker/socializer, off-putting grunts and lack of dialogue would be roleplaying while long conversations with NPCs would be a failure to roleplay.
Talking is no different than combat or skills: it's only roleplay if it's congruent with the character.
How do you do it so that you feel like you are having a good time, having fun?
What do you mean "how"? If you like roleplaying, then you'll have fun roleplaying. If you don't, you probably won't. I don't understand this question.
whereas it does provide a great deal of information about precise movement distances and ranges and AoE
You ninja'd me, but see my above post: there's no difference between "about 20ft away" and "in the 'nearby' abstract range band". Saying that one is a tool for TotM while the other is designed for maps is completely absurd.
and detailed maps.
You keep talking about 5E's detailed maps, but there aren't any in the PHB that I bought. Where are you seeing all this mapwork that you think I'm trying to tell you it doesn't want you to use?
Matthew Downie wrote:
On the other hand, the "party gets more time to end the fight" thing applies just as much to the enemy party as to the PC party, so isn't that basically a wash?
And then on top of that, the extra turn you give the fighter comes two rounds AFTER the turn that the cleric was trading in for it. That means that if the turn in question had even remotely comparable levels of contribution between the fighter and the cleric, it becomes vastly better for the cleric to do it now instead of the fighter doing it later, because you'll end the fight a round earlier and save the whole party some additional damage/resources.
Haven't read the rest of this long thread, so forgive me if some of this is redundant.
The idea that in-combat healing is a poor strategy is based on a few key assumptions:
First, it assumes that "in-combat healing" is referring specifically to the replenishment of Hit Points, not things like removing harmful conditions.
Second, it's only a generality: for instance, sometimes you get into situations where only one or two PCs can contribute offensively and so keeping them up is a priority; however, these are (typically) the exceptions, not the rule.
Third, it assumes that the game is being played pretty close to "default" Pathfinder. That is, the more houserules/homebrew you have in your game (and/or the more severe the houserules you do have are), the more chance there is that this advice won't apply to your game. For instance, if the GM dislikes Pathfinder's reliance on "magic marts" and/or item crafting and so your only HP recovery is spells and bedrest, then the value of healing spells skyrockets. You have to look at the reasoning behind the advice and ask yourself "Does my campaign have any differences that change the context of this assessment?".
So with the above in mind, here's the idea about the "don't heal in combat" advice:
Basically, in most cases, the caster who is spending both a turn and a spell slot recovering someone's HP could usually have spent both of those resources doing something far more effective. For example, I played a melee-oriented cleric from 2nd to the end of 11th level. Whenever an ally was hurting, I almost always had something better I could do than casting a healing spell. That might be to attack (with just as much accuracy and similar damage to the fighter), which might very well prevent more damage than the cure spell would heal. Or it might be to cast plane shift and just outright remove the threat/end the encounter.
You mention regularly taking 50+ damage from an attack at 11th level. A cure critical wounds spell at that level heals 4d8+11 damage, or about 30 damage on average. Best case scenario, the fighter has, say, 90 HP, so the 50 damage per round will drop him in 2 rounds. Add in your healing, and he now takes 3 rounds to kill instead of 2 round.
You spent your turn so that the fighter could have one more turn. You traded your turn for the fighter's at a 1:1 exchange. The number of turns/actions available to try and defeat the enemy hasn't changed, you just donated one of yours to the fighter, at the cost of one of your higher level spell slots.
So to determine whether it was worth it to make that trade, you have a simple question to answer: does another turn from the fighter contribute more to your goals than the turn the cleric gave up? That's the key question. Very few are the cases where spending your turn healing will give the fighter more than 1 extra turn (and sometimes, it won't even give that). So assuming a baseline of using spell slots to trade the cleric's turn for an extra fighter turn, is it worth it?
Well, what else could the cleric have done with his turn? If he was a melee build like mine, he could have attacked just as well as the fighter, which means the trade was meaningless, yet still came at the cost of a 4th-level spell. Why would I spend a spell to let the fighter do what I could have just done myself for the same action cost? Alternatively, he could have cast an offensive spell that would have potentially ended (or severely altered) the encounter on the spot: hold person, invisibility purge, daylight, blindness/deafness, all kinds of neat options. For the same action cost, and the same or lower spell cost, the cleric can very often do something that will have a much higher impact on the outcome of the battle than giving the fighter another attack.
Now, at this point I would refer you again to the third assumption I listed. I noticed that in your post you mentioned that it seems like the monsters always save; that changes things a LOT. I've played with GMs who think that fights are SUPPOSED to be HP races, and so anything that does something other than dealing or healing HP damage gets mysteriously blocked. In such a case (and assuming your cleric is not built for damage-dealing), then yeah, healing becomes worthwhile by virtue of being the only thing the GM will allow you to succeed at. "That which the GM allows" is always the strongest tactic, after all.
Hopefully that sheds some light on the advice you've been seeing, and helps you determine whether it applies to your games or not. :)
Having seen people who had't played D&D before going through a module and the rules, I very much suspect that the default assumption is that the 5' grid and the movement speeds and ranges and defined areas of effect mean something and are meant to be used. Certainly their response was, "I can't keep track of all this in my head." And if WotC really wanted people to not bother with a grid, there are much better ways to make TotM easy than to provide a lot of rules that work best with a grid and then expect you to ignore them while providing no alternatives to letting the GM handle it.
I'm confused. You say there's an assumption that "the 5' grid" means something and is meant to be used, but there is no 5ft grid in the PHB. So what is it you're saying means something and is meant to be used?
Similarly, you say the same about movement speeds and ranges and AoEs, but none of those things require a grid at all. Speeds and ranges are entirely linear, requiring nothing but knowing how far away the destination/target is, which is easy as pie in TotM. AoE templates are presented with the plain-English meanings of "cone" and "cylinder" and so forth, with visual examples being basic 3-D drawings rather than square-based templates. How do the AoE rules in any way suggest the need for a grid?
You mention "provid[ing] a lot of rules that work best with a grid and then expect you to ignore them while providing no alternatives". Which rules are you talking about? I don't remember any rules in the PHB that work best with a grid. I don't remember anything that I would need to "ignore" in order to go gridless. In the PHB sitting on my desk, using a grid is explicitly a variant alternative, not the baseline assumption. So what rules are you talking about? Can you be specific?
Dave Justus wrote:
When something makes a blanket statement of "Doing X takes Y action," and a later statement says "Doing X in this specific circumstance takes Z action," then that specific circumstance is a specific exception to the general rule stated earlier. That exception does cause the original rule to also not apply in other, unspecified circumstances. It's just a single, self-contained exception.
That's how language works.
Granted, it's theoretically possible that the author meant something other than what they plainly wrote, but even in Pathfinder products that doesn't happen frequently enough to warrant assuming it to be the case. If there were some other rule elsewhere suggesting that a standard action is not the default to apply an oil, then we could debate whether the author here really meant what they said. But without something of that caliber, there's no reasonable cause to infer that "using an oil is a standard action" is anything less than the universal, always-unless-otherwise-specified, umbrella rule that it's very plainly and obviously written as.
Dave Justus wrote:
CRB rules for potions/oils wrote:
using an oil is a standard action.
My players recently finished a fight in the middle of a dungeon maze, 2 rounds into the 10min duration of spirit guardians, so they started hustling through the maze, exploding swarms of rats and such as they approached. Fun times.
...I think you guys have different definitions of "relax". Seems like Dave Justus figures if you're not sweating and going "oh jeez oh jeez what if I mess up" then you're relaxing (and thus "relax" is good advice for everyone), while Kirth Gersen seems to mean "relax" as something more like exclusively playing "beer-and-pretzels" types of games (which would be pretty egotistical to presume is universally desirable).
General: Learn the difference between running an RPG and directing a play. When you direct a play, you already know how the characters will overcome any given challenge, what the result will be, what comes after that, and how it eventually ends. When you run an RPG, you present a situation to the characters without knowing what will happen next, you wait for them to decide on a course of action, and you honestly and faithfully describe the results of their actions. In a play, the plot is pre-determined and the story doesn't move forward until the characters have done what the writer decided they should do. In an RPG, the plot is determined by the natural interaction of the characters and the setting. And just like you'd be a s%*~ty director if you let the actors decide how to approach their characters' obstacles and adjusted the plot accordingly, so too you'll be a s$*#ty GM if you block PC actions until they do what you planned.
Beginner: The game must go on. If a rule dispute comes up, make a ruling that the players can appreciate and move on. However, always treat these rulings as temporary momentum-savers. Write down the topics that come up (or have someone else write them down), then research the real answer before the next session. To reach "Intermediate", you must work toward a goal of reducing at-the-table rulings, striving to replace them with known-beforehand understandings (after all, just as an on-the-fly ruling is better than a long debate, so too is a lack of a dispute in the first place far superior to an on-the-fly ruling). If you neglect this work (whether because you just don't want to put the time in, or because you have authority issues and chafe at seeing your own rulings as the temporary fill-ins they are, or whatever other reason), then you are forever a Beginner GM, no matter what other skills you develop or how long you've been doing it.
GM 1990 wrote:
For the most part, the only examples people have actually shared from their tables so far were pretty niche/optimized builds and being used by a disruptive player to monopolize playing time away from the rest of the players, not caster disparity per se. I'll admit they were using PF system to be disruptive, but that's the kind of person who would also find a way ruin your Risk or Uno game. I'd rather hear about common scenarios that a GM will see when certain magic starts entering the game, and share ideas how to keep making the plots and challenges fun for the whole table.
Back when I still played Pathfinder and PFS Organized Play, one of my characters was a fighter. I tried to be different and interesting by making him use a flail and have good INT for skills and tripping and disarming, instead of just being another greatsword guy. However, it wasn't too long before all my tripping and disarming shenanigans—which were the most "different" ways of doing combat I could find at the time—were basically just a longer, more complicated way to eventually just bonk enemies on the head. The only difference between my fighter and the greatsword clone army was that I took more table time to resolve my eventual bonking on the head. As for my extra skill ranks, the higher in level I got the more I realized that anything I hadn't maxed was closer and closer to being a lost cause. Or if I did have a good chance, there'd be a caster in the party with a scroll or spell slot of trivial resource cost, which could overcome/bypass the same obstacle much more effectively, and without the failure risks that my skills would incur. Not for every skill, but for enough that my higher INT felt like a waste. It got less and less fun, and I eventually abandoned the character.
Meanwhile, I had an Eldritch Knight who (despite his many shortcomings) could still sometimes change the course of an adventure. For instance, I played a scenario that had this whole big scene of an airship chase, with pages of mechanics for pushing the engines and steering and so forth. Instead, I just said "I have teleport prepped" and everybody nodded along, saying "Yeah, we should do that." The GM then chuckled and said, "Yeah, every time I've seen this scenario, that's what the players do; I guess they wrote the chase mechanics in case of a party who can't teleport, but I haven't seen it happen yet."
And then there's my favorite character ever: "Thomas the Tiefling Hero", my LG cleric of Iomedae, played from level 2 through to the end of level 11 in organized play. He was straight cleric, with no multiclassing or archetypes. He almost always had the highest AC at the table, the best or second-best attack bonus, and enough damage output that the enemies can't just ignore him. I played him on the front lines, right there with the fighters. He was even mistaken for a paladin on more than one occasion. But since he wasn't actually a fighter, he got to do other things too. I could rock Diplomacy checks with a bonus over double my level. I had a couple of very solid Knowledge skills. If an enemy was too big and bad to fight with my sword (like the colossal titan centipede that won initiative and trampled the entire party to less than half health in round 1, or the ooze that splashed CON drain whenever it got damaged), I could (and did) just plane shift it away and end the encounter. Or if I didn't need my plane shift for that, I always had the option of bringing the party to Heaven or something to rest up safely before returning to Golarion. Fighters can't just go chill with the gods like that. If an enemy was in the air, I could just walk up to it on the air and stab it. If we needed to cross a desert or explore a glacier or go underwater or even travel into f@@$ing SPACE, I had spells to keep myself and others safe while we did so. I saved a fellow PC with stone shape (he was trapped alone with a harpy), I got people out of jams with liberating command, I rocked social scenes... There was basically nothing I couldn't do. I stabbed monsters, explored ancient ruins, bargained with social elites, negotiated peace with warring tribes, and slew a demon lord. And I went to bed each night with half or more of my spells still un-cast. And on your topic of rude playing, people actually cheered when I brought that character to the table, so that's definitely not the issue. Heck, I even donated half my Diplomacy bonus to other PCs when they wanted to be the "face", and once even offered to die in someone else's place.
I could tell even more stories, but this post is long enough. :)
GM 1990 wrote:
I too read Jiggy's 7 Myths. Personally I thought it sounded more like a defense that magic itself the problem, not which class has or doesn't have it. Its well written, but I see a lot of circular logic and still little actual game examples except saying there are real examples such as implying that a caster ending combat on surprise round is a proof-case.
Couple of quick points:
First, are you sure you understand what "circular logic" is? It's when a series of claims are proofs for each other, such that there's no starting point; they form a "circle". For instance: X is proven by Y, Y is proven by Z, and Z is proven by X. The smallest possible "circle" would be "X proves Y and Y proves X". In order for an accusation of circular logic to be valid (regardless of whether it's true, merely valid) there would therefore need to be at least two degrees of proof given: first I'd have to offer something as proof for a claim, then I'd have to offer proof for the proof. Since I never went more than one layer deep in my offering of proof, it is literally impossible for me to have used circular logic. Now, if what you meant to accuse me of is just generally failing to prove my claims, you've totally got me there. I made lots of claims without offering proofs. But circular? Nope. :)
Second, I'm curious which specific part of my Myths post implied "that a caster ending combat on surprise round is a proof-case". For starters, proof of what? Your post makes it sound like you mean proof for the existence of the disparity, but that wasn't even a goal of my post (as I laid out in the introduction, it was a meta-commentary on the discussion of the disparity). Additionally, one of my main points was that combat isn't even that big of an aspect of the broader topic, so why would I use a combat example as any kind of proof? If you could copy-paste a quotation of the part that was so misleading, that would be much appreciated. :)
Well, I won't defend that one guy who said "unplayable", but he's an outlier, not typical of folks talking about Pathfinder's balance issues.
As for the rest of your post... are you under the impression that the usual complaint is "Pathfinder's so broken I'm not having fun and can't seem to do anything to fix it"? Because my experience has been that it's usually "Pathfinder's broken enough that I don't have fun with the default assumptions so I have to do XYZ to fix it, but I wish that I didn't have to make all these adjustments and could just have fun by opening the Pathfinder CRB and saying 'let's play'."
I suspect most of the people playing fine without complaints don't actually ban things, but just don't try to optimize and break the system. A gentleman's agreement to play for concept and fun rather then stress the system, if you will.
In actual gameplay, plenty of people who are playing for concept and fun rather than to stress the system still encounter the C/MD. In my experience, players who are pushing the limits are a tiny minority of the people who notice the disparity. The idea that the difference between those who notice the C/MD and those who don't is whether they're optimizing and/or failing to "play for concept" is an easy assumption to make, but it's false.
The idea that the disparity is based on Schrodinger's Wizard is itself a myth. Sure, there are some folks out there who will call in Schrodinger's Wizard as proof, but they're the outliers. Most people are talking about standard adventuring conditions and actual gameplay experience. If you believe that what you described above is at the root of C/MD complaints, you haven't been truly listening to the complaints.
Real actual games, with casters who need to handle varieties of situations and multiple encounters per day and so on and so forth, are still encountering the C/MD. Maybe the first person you encountered talking about the C/MD was doing the Schrodinger's Wizard thing and you made an assumption, or maybe you're simply misinformed, or whatever else. But no, C/MD is not even remotely close to being dependent on Schrodinger's Wizard.
The idea that T20 is sequential is your own idea, not something that's actually anywhere in the T20 rules.