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Matthew Koelbl's page

1,386 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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Regarding DeathQuaker's thoughts on Peter's thoughts:


DeathQuaker wrote:
I'm kind of looking forward to even-more-psycho Isabel once she wakes up from the Mirakuru. But I agree, she nor the story sold the "I am a woman scorned!" story very well.... even if it is very true to the comics, from what I understand.

What really bugged me is that she proclaimed, "Do you think that I am just some jilted lover?" And for a moment, I was expecting some more powerful motivation or something genuinely serious... and instead, nope, jilted lover is it.

Slade's motivation is equally absurd, but it works just fine because he is literally insane due to the drug. But having this motivation for her felt pretty weak. If they just played up the greed part of it - the chance to take his company, gain power, no longer feel helpless, etc - I could totally buy it, but they really seemed to emphasize the parts that don't hold up under much scrutiny.

DeathQuaker wrote:
The big wall-banger there is of course that if Ollie really knew about a possible cure and didn't seek it out for Roy's sake, it makes him to look waaaaay more selfish and idiotic than I think the writers intend. Or maybe the writers did intend that.

Yeah, that was the thing that most bothered me about the episode. Especially since, again, it felt like they could have come up with some sort of explanation. ("We knew there was a cure, but knew we didn't have the resources for it, so didn't want to create false hope.") But the entire "I didn't talk about it, because I felt bad about this one moment of the backstory..." just felt kinda weird.

On the other hand, I think it did rule out the speculation I've heard about Ivo being Felicity's father, since Ollie namechecked Ivo and Felicity didn't show any unusual reaction.

You can certainly build a pretty potent Warlord in terms of how much buffing they do for the party - and that can include both healing and condition-removal, to ensure your allies are able to act to full capability.

But honestly, any class can be optimized. A Warlord certainly has more you can do with them than, say, a Shaman or Ardent. But an optimizer will typically find a way, and you can build pretty extreme versions of any of those classes if that is what you set out to do.

Caineach wrote:
So, overall I really liked the movie, but did anyone else have an issue with the fact that all of the intelligence they had came from a bad guy deciding he would tell Captain A his evil plot just before he was killed?

It bothered me for a moment, but once I considered it, I realized it wasn't really a problem.

Yes, Zola gloated and gave away the evil scheme. But think about it - even if he doesn't tell them anything, they've already unraveled quite a bit just by arriving there and finding him.

Once Cap recognizes who they are dealing with, he suddenly knows that:

1) A member of HYDRA survived; and
2) Was in some way connected with an early version of SHIELD.

Sure, it might not reveal the specifics of their plans for INSIGHT, but it would still be enough for them to figure out the general gist of what is going on, and that leads them to go after suspicous members of SHIELD, which leads them to Sitwell, who then confesses everything anyway.

So I think the real key was simply finding the facility itself - once they've uncovered that, and have confirmation that something is very wrong with the House of SHIELD, everything else flows naturally from there, regardless of how much Zola blabs to them.

The interview could be correct or could just be to throw people off the scent. Or they could just change their minds later.

I hope they don't, though. If they truly commit to this and run with it, it both sets up some excellent opportunity for future story and conflict, and also retroactively addresses, like, 90% of the previous complaints I had about the show. I'm really looking forward to the next episodes, which is the first time in quite a while that has been the case.

So here's hoping that last scene is exactly what it appears to be!

I can definitely see a frustration with the format, especially on a show that already is sharing the screen-time among such an ensamble cast. And I can definitely see preferring some heroes to others.

Though, at least for me, that's one thing I've been grateful for. I was never a fan of Green Arrow in the comics. Despite that, the show won me over and gave me a new appreciation for the character. The same thing happened with Iron Man - never liked him in the comics. His movie made me finally 'get' what makes the character awesome, and made him one of my favorite heroes.

That's what I've liked the most about the last decade of comics characters moving to tv and movies - not just seeing my favorite characters in action, but getting the chance to find appreciation for new characters who I never cared about before.

Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
I think I liked Smallville better because Clark has awesome powers. Call me a kid at heart, but seeing Superman in action is much better. His super strength, speed, breath, heat vision allows him to break in and out of places unseen, be anywhere he wants, etc. and thus, the plot does not revolve around violence and killing all the time. A no power "hero" like Green Arrow is basically just a nut job vigilante killing crooks, now that you think of it... and the 'bow' choice of weapon does not really tend to nonlethal subjugation...

I take it you haven't actually watched the current season of the show, where the grapple with whether to kill or not to kill has been a core dilemma in the second season?

I definitely had issues with the show's body count early on. But they've deliberately addressed that and incorporated it into the show. That earns it quite a bit of credit in my mind.

Should a non-super powered character be fighting crime? When, if ever, is it ok for them to kill? It is a tricky question. Ollie came back to the city having learned of a massive criminal conspiracy that was effectively above the law. Who else was going to try and stop it?

One of the things I really like about Arrow is that they don't try and hide the fact that the 'heroes' in the show are fundamentally broken people. Both Ollie and the Black Canary have gone through hell, and that is what has given them the skills and abilities that let them operate on the level they do. Both of them suffer from the trauma of their past, and both of them wrestle with how it impacts their personal lives and relationships.

That brings the heroics down to a very human level, and has been a large part of what makes the show so appealing to me. I think there is a place in comics for figures who are beyond human limitations and are an ideal to strive for (Superman), as well as for those who have pushed themselves to their limits and overcome personal loss and suffering (Batman). This show embraces that second concept, and I think that makes it work on a very real level.

Yes, sure, having superpowers that solve all the problems would let you bypass any real conflict or difficulties. I'm not sure that presents as good a story, though. You can certainly still have character developments and questions arise out of being such a figure, but it makes for a very different type of show.

They might have put most of that stuff in the Ritual category at launch, but that definitely didn't remain the case for long. I know I played an illusionist who had the spells to do pretty much all of those tricks without a problem, completely within the system.

And I've definitely played in and run campaigns that allowed the exact same sort of 'special effects' and 'houseruling' you describe without any major departure from the rules.

Indeed, I'm kinda confused how you see one system as requiring minimal alterations, while the other is too rigid to change. If you declare that a cleric in 3.5 can spend all of their remaining spells/turn undeads/etc, to hit a lich in a single attack, what in the world prevents you from doing the exact same in 4E? I know I've had plenty of times where a character has asked to expend their Channel Divinity power (which normally powers turning) in a non-standard fashion, and it has typically been quite easy to find a way to let them do so (such as providing temporary protection against an area filled with negative energy, or using it to disable an undead monster's protective aura.)

If anything, I've found 4E has an easier time handling such actions, since it at least provides some guidelines for the DM on dealing with them. But either system is quite capable of such adjustments as long as the DM and their group have a shared sense of trust and creativity. Honestly, it just seems strange to me to claim that you have no problem bending the rules in one system, but find it impossible in another.

I can certainly understand claiming that you find it easier in one system than the other, even if it just due to more familiarity with one system over the other! But your description of 4E is so far removed from my experience with it in actual play that I have trouble reconciling the two.

Yeah, it wasn't as epic as the first one, but they kinda acknowledged that. And it was a good, solid, funny episode overall, and had some excellent moments. (Like having a moment of silence for a fallen companion... before taking all their stuff. Classic D&D!)

DeathQuaker wrote:
Matthew, I'm with you on Waller. My headcanon is that that woman isn't really Waller, but a decoy to act as a front person, while the real Waller, massive and ill tempered and AWESOME, is of course running things behind the scenes out of sight.

I like that idea! I think I'm going to co-opt that in my own mind as well. :)

DeathQuaker wrote:
I have a feeling some of the Laurel stuff ended up on the cutting room floor, given the way the actors, writers, and producers talk about it... I think they filmed a bunch more stuff and we've only seen the highlights. I was watching the Season One DVD deleted scenes and there's a bunch of stuff where, while I can see why they deleted something for time or pacing, the deleted scene does add character development or depth that otherwise sometimes feels missing.... the problem with this season is they've been trying to do waaaaay do much so it's like we're seeing the clip show version of a plot that actually should be two or three seasons worth of story crammed into one.

Yeah, that does seem a likely possibility. I do like how fast they have kept things moving, since I thought dragging things out was one of Season 1's weaknesses (and one of my current issues with Marvel's SHIELD). And I like how they have expanded the cast and the role they've found for most of their new additions. But there is definitely a sense that some stuff has gotten left by the wayside in the process (like the partial takeover of Queen Industries, for example), so that makes sense with this as well.

Yeah. I'm still not a fan of the actress playing Waller, but the rest of the squad is really exciting to watch, and I am really glad at how they've developed Deadshot's character.

The Ollie thing doesn't bother me as much, simply because the show really does focus on the fact that is a traumatized, broken person, slowly trying to put the pieces of his life back together, and every time he gets close to doing so, something new (like Slade) gets in the way. And Stephen Amell does a really good job of selling that.

I can't help but compare it to Laurel's character - who, honestly, I didn't really mind early on. But it feels like they've been so desperate to give her some emotional weight that they've gone way overboard in doing so, and just ended up with a really inconsistent character. I don't know how much of that is the actress or the writing, but the character just seems to completely shift from episode to episode, and even scene to scene.

I mean, one of the things I like about Arrow is that (at least this season), it has kept plots moving quickly. Unlike the slow reveal of the Undertaking in Season 1, we've had some ongoing arcs and confrontations with Blood, with Slade, with the Squad, with Sarah. But I feel that same approach works well with plot elements more than character elements, and the slow burn of Ollie's recovery, his connection to his team members, the relationship between the characters - that has much more impact. And trying to rush Laurel through her own 'trial' - which is what it felt like they were trying to do - only muddled up the character more than ever.

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Hama wrote:
Matthew Koelbl wrote:
Hama wrote:
Coulson genuinely regrets having to kill those two guards. I call the subject closed.
Are you suggesting that because he regrets it, that makes it ok?
Yeah. I don't really care about those guards. Much less then I care about Skye anyway. Plus it's Coulson we're talking about here. If he could have found a peaceful solution, he would have.

You mean other than the non-lethal guns they had ready access to? ;)

Now, I tend to credit that more to inconsistent writing than anything else. I suppose if we wanted to come up with a reason for it, we could claim that Coulson was distracted by what had happened to Skye and was off his game.

Nonetheless, the situation remains - the team crossed a line, and decided that murder and theft were acceptable means to save a team member. It will take quite a bit more than simple regret for them to redeem themselves as heroes.

Hama wrote:
Coulson genuinely regrets having to kill those two guards. I call the subject closed.

Are you suggesting that because he regrets it, that makes it ok?

Anyway, I thought the new episode was very strong, and had some great guest stars. (I even got a kick out of 'Rooster', whose actor I've been a fan of from other shows.)

The only thing that really bugged me was how Lorelei's power was treated.

Episode Spoilers:
It was genuinely creepy seeing the folks under her command act 'normal' aside from being devoted to her (and seeing the biker apologetically kill his wife on her command). I thought that was really well handled... and then it got weird, since the rest of the show basically played her ability for laughs. Even while one team member is out there being raped by her. Which doesn't really get addressed at all, other than it being an excuse for him to get dumped.

So... the show definitely still seems to have a really weird moral code - or lack of it.

That said, this was a good episode. It had some great fight scenes. The sword-fighting didn't come off as particularly convincing, but everything else was really well choreographed.

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Aranna wrote:
First, I am sure SHIELD agents do carry credentials and if given the chance it is clear Coulson would have presented them. But the guards refused to consider anything other than their pass code.

Right. As far as the show indicated, the ability to enter that facility was dependent on knowledge of the entrance protocols. There was no indication that random SHIELD agents, operating outside of mission parameters and without authorization or credentials, should have simply been allowed entry based on their words and nothing else.

Aranna wrote:
Second as agents in the field the are acting as representatives of SHIELD itself.

I don't think that is remotely the case. They aren't there on assignment. They are, in fact, defying orders by going there for personal reasons. A police officer who, while off-duty, uses his badge to intimidate a shop-owner into giving him free stuff is not 'acting as a representative of the law'. He is breaking the law and abusing his power. SHIELD is doing the same thing here - only worse.

Aranna wrote:
I could understand if the guards used a secure line to call up the chain of command and maybe get further orders, but they simply locked and loaded. Which is bad for two reasons 1: They have NO idea if these agents have been sent here on an approved mission or not. 2: If they fail then their superiors have far less intelligence as to what happened at the destroyed facility.

If the guards didn't call up the change of command, the logical assumption is that doing so isn't part of the protocols - that there is a reason they had strict orders not to allow anyone access who wasn't supposed to be there.

Aranna wrote:
I bolded the false part of your statement. From what we have seen so far SHIELD seems to have no limits to it's authority over local or national concerns. So you are false in assuming they had no authority to enter. I could be wrong but so far I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

We've seen that SHIELD is powerful, and that it is willing to work outside the law. I don't think we've been shown that their power is limitless, though - they have worked with local authorities on most missions.

Look, if simply flashing a SHIELD badge got you entrance to anywhere, why wouldn't all bad guys just carry SHIELD badges and claim to be from SHIELD? Presumably if SHIELD agents do need to enter a facility in the course of their mission, they can get the authorization and be given access.

Given that Coulson didn't do that here, there is every indication that the guards were acting appropriately in not simply letting him walk into a secure facility on the basis of his word alone.

And we return to the original point - even if SHIELD agents are supposed to have that authority while on a mission, Coulson's team wasn't on a mission. They were running solo, defying orders, on a personal agenda. Hence why they didn't have the passcodes that would have gotten them access if they were actually supposed to be there. Hence why the guards acted correctly, and hence why Coulson forcing a confrontation with them was on his head, not theirs.

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Arnwyn wrote:
I agree. I have no qualms with mook guard #1 and mook guard #2 shooting at these unknown dudes, if that's how they felt they should best handle the situation they're in. Obviously, of course, they should expect to be popped back.

Sure. That's part of the job - the risk of being killed by intruders. The fact that the guards know that is what the job entails, however, doesn't remove the team's guilt in causing those deaths. Coulson and his team chose to break into a location they weren't authorized to enter, and killed those who tried to keep them out of it. They did so in pursuit of personal reasons, with the planned theft of something that was presumably valuable, experimental, and dangerous.

I can understand why they did it. But that doesn't make it right.

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Aranna wrote:

Just because the guards followed orders doesn't make them right.

If SHIELD had the authority to enter then the guards had the duty to stand down after verifying those credentials. If their orders were otherwise then following those orders turned them into the bad guys.

But all we have to go on is the information the show gives us. In the show, the guards clearly followed the protocals they had to determine who was authorized to enter - Coulson's team showed up unscheduled, claimed to be SHIELD, offered no credentials or authorization, and didn't have the appropriate passcodes to enter. After being refused entry to the secure facility, they broke in.

Even if SHIELD as an agency has the authority to demand entrance to any facility in the world, Coulson and his team weren't operating in support of a mission. So even any claims that they should be given authority, as agents of SHIELD, would have been in the wrong.

What happened is this: In a matter of personal interest, a team of agents attempted to abuse their position and gain access to a facility they weren't authorized to access. When they were still denied entrance, they broke in with force and killed the guards defending the facility, and their carelessness caused the destruction of the facility along with its research and any inhabitants who might be within it.

I can understand the logic in being willing to sacrifice the innocent to save someone you love. It is the sort of reasoning that can lead to some of the most interesting stories about villains. And if they decide to have the team continue down this road, and acknowledge that it is villanous behavior, that could lead to an interesting story. But the show seems to be acting as though their behavior was heroic, when it was anything but. And that is what I really find concerning.

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Which is my problem with the series so far as a whole. There are no stakes for these characters, because there are no consequences either for their actions or for their inactions.

Yeah, this really gets to the core of it. We're supposed to view them as a team of professional SHIELD agents. That they are part of this larger organization whose goal is to save the world (even if through occasionally morally gray means). But the more they go out of their way to emphasize that this team is 'special', the less earned their competence actually seems. The message is that they are willing to go on missions, but only if there is no risk of danger to their team or teammates. The idea seems alien to them that saving innocents might come with cost or sacrifice, and it just feels like they have no business operating in their sort of field with that sort of perspective.

Right. But there is a difference between casualties that occur in the line of duty vs those that occur in pursuit of a personal task.

That's the thing - let's go with the assumption that SHIELD agents sometimes need to do legally and morally gray things in the pursuit of a higher cause, or have the authority to bypass normal legal procedures and requirements in order to get the job done. That the stakes are high enough that it justifies operating outside of the normal domain of the law.

It is a completely different thing to do so while on the job vs doing so for personal reasons. And, ultimately, that is what was happening here.

If a cop's wife is dying, and he breaks into a hospital to steal medicine for her, and there is a security guard who fights back against the armed intruder, and the security guard is killed in the ensuing gunfight... the cop's badge doesn't excuse his actions. Nor the fact that he asked nicely before then forcefully breaking into the hospital with weapons at the ready.

GregH wrote:
Lord Snow wrote:
I do agree that killing the two security guards was an evil act. I mean, one of the guards devoted his dying breath to warn the people who killed him of an imminent explosion, so he was probably a pretty decent guy...

I don't know about evil. The security guards did open fire first. And were not interested in any sort of dialogue. One could argue that breaking in was questionable, but after that, it was pretty much self defense. It didn't even seem like the guards would've allowed a surrender (although that's debatable).

Not "good" for sure, but I wouldn't go so far as to say evil.

If you break into a locked facility - while visibly armed, hacking through security devices and shooting out cameras on the way in - I don't think you get to claim self-defense. Those deaths are on them.

If they had shown any real remorse over it, maybe I could consider it as simply something that got out of hand. But they put the facility's guards down hard, didn't even bother trying non-lethal weaponry (like the night-night guns they've got access to), and didn't show any sign of feeling bad over what they had done.

I do like the theory that Skye's superpower is to make others feel the need to protect her. That... actually fits remarkably well with her backstory. I'd honestly find that a much more acceptable explanation for all this.

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I don't really have anything against Skye. I'm actually rather excited about more Asgardian interaction coming up. But, man, it is awfully hard to root for a team who are suddenly both incompetent and evil.

-You are a team of agents involved in military/covert operations. Injuries and death are part of the job. It is one thing to grieve over the loss of a teammate and want to make it right, but completely falling apart and throwing everything out the window when it happens? Shows these guys aren't remotely qualified for their position, and it is criminally dangerous to empower them to act in the field.

-Speaking of which, if a teammate is injured in the capture of an incredibly important enemy asset, one should probably try and not waste that sacrifice. Ways to do this include delivering the enemy to a properly secured facility for interrogation and trial. Not, say, flying him around the world and threatening to pointlessly kill him. While engaging in some light torture on the side, just for fun. When he reveals that getting you to visit a secret research base was part of the plan all along, at the minimum, you should probably not bring him to that base. The fact that this didn't backfire even more doesn't justify the risk they took.

-Speaking of secret research bases. Murdering the guards and blowing up the facility, whether intentional or not, is straight up villainry. The second you decide that your friend's life is more important than any innocents you have to hurt to save her? That's when you become the bad guys.

Agents of SHIELD was supposed to be about a team who are part of the superhero world despite not having the powers. But the part they really seem to be missing is the 'hero' side of the equation. Being a hero means being willing to go into the line of fire in order to save the innocent. Instead, the show has repeatedly emphasized that the team's most important priority is each other. They are a family, they break rules to help each other, the most important thing on the agenda is keeping each other safe. And while I get that and can appreciate the vibe they are going for, it ultimately undercuts their moral ground. Especially the further we see them willing to go - and not in pursuit of the greater good, but in pursuit of their own self-interest.

It is possible they are going down this road intentionally, and we are supposed to view them as morally ambigious secret agents who are simply protagonists rather than good guys, and whose moral conflicts with the law and society will be a topic for serious questions and thought. But in an episode like this, which featured a remarkable amount of good natured joking and lightheartedness amidst the scenes of torture and murder, I'm rather doubtful this is the case.

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Here's a fun one where something fell from the sky, but it worked out just fine for the PCs.

First, some background:

I was running a 3.5 Campaign with a rotating cast of characters - each player had a variety of PCs who worked for the 'rebel underground', and each session they would choose a mission to go on and decide which PCs would be going on the mission. Some players had 1 or 2 PCs they focused on exclusively. Some had a huge roster of favorites. Others might have 1 core character, but would regularly try out bizarre or strange builds just for fun.

One of those bizarre characters was named Willy. He was an anthropomorphic Baleen Whale, because this was a thing you could do and it happened to give you a silly amount of Strength. And Willy was built to be a grappler - the best grappler he could be.

And on one of his missions, the party was exploring some underground ruins of an ancient, technologically advanced race. And as they crossed an enormous bridge above a vast, apparently endlessly-deep chasm, they awoke one of the ancient guardians of the ruins - a Colossal Animated Statue.

And as it it trampling the PCs into the ground, Willy goes and wraps his arms around one of its legs. He rolls well. He makes the grapple check to grab the statue. He makes the grapple check to drag it with him. And he takes himself and the statue over the side of the bridge, to fall forever into the abyss below...

That's the background for the story.

The Plane of Wild Magic

Much later in the campaign, the PCs have a mission that takes them on a planar journey, and they find themselves in a realm of wild magic. Magic is unstable, erratic and unpredictable, and the party has unfortunately brought a pretty magic-focused crew on this specific mission.

This becomes even worse when they discover that the enemy they are up against in this region is some sort of monstrous lizardman that can surround itself with an anti-magic field. I can't actually remember the name of the creature, but it was not something the party wanted to fight, so they started running back to their transport out, figuring they'd come back later with a better prepared party.

But their enemy was fast, and had a powerful bow with a ranged attack, and getting away was proving quite the challenge. So one of the party's casters decided he'd try and invoke the wild magic of the plane to work with him, and try and send up all his magic in one big blast and see if he could overcome the lizard's anti-magic field in a flux of wild magic.

I told him he could try, and asked him to roll percentile - if he rolled '100', it would work.

"I didn't roll 100", he said, "... but I did roll '42'."

And so it only seemed fitting that a portal opened in the sky, and Willy the Whale - who had been falling through an endless abyss all this time - would come plummeting through the air and squash their enemy flat, saving the party for the second time. As, it seems, the universe had intended.

I enjoyed the movie, and thought it was a much stronger adaptation than I expected, and certainly managed to hit each of the keynote scenes in the books. But that said, it really did have to rush through a great deal of the organic development of the story - you got those keynote moments, but what you didn't get was all the little steps in between that helped connect ever part of the story together. It wasn't as noticeable on my first viewing, simply because being familiar with the books made it easy to fill in the gaps.

So... better than I feared, but not as good as it could have been. Which I guess I consider a win in the long run, and maybe I'll be hopeful that there will be a directors cut that has a bit more room for fleshing out all the 'in between' moments of the story.

Yeah, this episode really impressed me with how much sheer content it was able to fit in. We had something like 6 different plot threads that were developed or dealt with during the episode? Of course, that did remind me of the plot threads that didn't really come up (Roy being on Team Arrow, and the fight for control of Queen Consolidated, which especially seemed weird given they were using company stock as bait for the villain.)

Still, one of the things I like the most about the show is that it rarely holds still. Season 1 had a bit of a rough time drawing out the Enterprise, but Season 2 has kept the action moving at a very brisk pace, and I'm definitely a fan of that, even if it means some plots get swept a bit aside as things keep moving.

Kthulhu wrote:
I think that there is a LOT of people in the show's fandom that are absoutely determined to like this season more simply because Dan Harmon is back. Never mind that every single problem the show had in season 4 was stuff that Dan Harmon had started.

I hadn't even realized Harmon was back until I watched the first two new episodes and wondered why they seemed such an improvement over Season 4. So...

I mean, I didn't hate Season 4, but it definitely didn't have the spark that made the series shine. The new stuff, thus far, has. That doesn't mean it is a perfect show, but I certainly am enjoying the return to form. And regardless of where problems may have arisen, I am glad to see many of them are being addressed.

I liked parts of it, but it seemed a very slow episode. I know they were being cautious and all, but it really took them nearly an hour to climb the stairs?

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Scott Betts wrote:

More or less. It's the first couple of things that I think most clearly distinguish nerd rage from other types of rage. A heightened level of anger that is completely unjustified by the material in question. It's a fundamental lack of perspective - there are things worth being angry about, but this isn't it. Other types of rage are, on occasion, proportionate to the gravity of the source of that rage. Nerd rage never is.

I'm sure that impotence only exacerbates things; if you can't take action, you can always scream louder.


I think there are plenty of folks who can feel disappointed in DC's sexism without getting enraged by it. I also think there are many who offer up their criticism of DC's actions in perfectly civil discourse - plenty of them in this very thread.

Dismissing such opinions as 'nerd rage' is... well, it seems a cheap tactic. Saying that being bothered by sexism comes from a lack of perspective - that such concerns aren't valid when there are more important things to be bothered by - is equally so.

If you feel that DC's actions in this instance (and the many, many other similar situations over the last few years) are not sexist, that's a perfectly fine opinion to have and to offer up for discussion. But come on - we're on a gaming forum, filled with thousands of discussions and debates over all manner of subjects. Saying that this topic - sexism - isn't worth having, or that those who disagree with you are simply doing so out of hysteria or overreaction... that's not fair, and that's not right.

For many of us, comics are important. Maybe just as entertainment, sure. But they still brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, whether growing up with them or discovering them and enjoying them for their art, stories, shared mythology, etc. For many folks, discovering the flaws of those works is, yes, cause for disappointment and criticism.

Why bother with the criticism? With the discussion of sexism, with the 'nerd rage'? Why not just walk away? I'm sure there are many reasons. Hope that maybe enough voices will get through, and will help the worst offenders move away from such behavior - and that maybe, just maybe, that will help the comics industry as a whole avoid its ongoing obsolescence. Or maybe just out of the hope of having better stories that, as a customer, I can freely enjoy.

So, where exactly do you find the problem in that? Are those wrong outcomes to hope for? Or is it sharing such opinions in a forum like this? If this isn't the place for such topics to be discussed, where is?

Dies Irae wrote:

None taken.

Just... an odd choice for the game as a whole I think.

I dunno, it seems to fit the theme they've been building up with the first game. I mean, story doesn't necessarily get the heaviest focus overall, but the theme of sacrifice - both of your soldiers, and of your humanity as you use more and more alien tech and abilities - is there pretty much from the start. Making tough decisions is even part of the core gameplay, in needing to decide where to send squads during alien abductions - and often having to weigh whether you want to go somewhere that will get you the best reward, even if it means another county will collapse into panic and chaos.

So while I can definitely see being creeped out by some of these newest features, I suspect that on some level that is the goal. It isn't necessarily in your face about it, but it doesn't seem likely to be accidental, either.

My biggest complaint about Next, hands-down, is returning to 3rd Edition style hp. I hate how much emphasis it puts on Con and I hate how wide the gaps it allows between one character and the next. I do want there to be a tangible difference between classes, but I felt that 4E did a much better job of keeping those numbers reasonably balanced.

Zardnaar wrote:

Without AEDU I think i would have a basic fighter like 2nd ed that just gets multiple attacks and great saves and maybe abilities like spring attack and cleave for free. Fighters can cleave 1/level each round.

An advanced fighter would probably resemble the 3.5 one but the bonus feats could unlock 4th ed type powers for those that want them.

My biggest hope for Next is that it will manage to allow for different play styles that work alongside each other, and the current form of the fighter makes me somewhat hopeful for that. You have a couple different variants - one of which (the Gladiator) has some encounter-based maneuvers and tricks, while another (the Warrior) is just a straight-forward fighter with good static bonuses to damage.

I'm hoping that if they succeed at the modular design they are hoping for, and take advantage of offering different 'paths' for each class that allow for different styles of play, then Next can manage to bring forward the best from several different editions at once. Not an easy task, but the direction they've gone in thus far has left me hopeful.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
You shouldnt take my comments to extremes. Extremes will always be there but they are hardly helpfull in discussing 99% of cases.

But that is the point - you made an absolute statement, and our point is that it isn't absolute, since we can find examples where it doesn't applies.

Now, you can argue whether those examples are extreme 1% cases or not, sure. But I think you need a lot more evidence if you want to actually claim that your examples are common and typical, while any counter-evidence is extreme and unlikely.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
As for what you describe as what you want from games doesnt require balance. Besides even if you play beside smeone who was allowed to break their character, when asked what you do, it doesnt matter if they have +30 and you have +5, you still have a great chance of success, and someone elses chance doesnt change your ability.

Except in how it impacts the adventure design. Having a character that trivializes social encounters might mean the DM shies away from using social checks as an obstacle - or simply doesn't bother with making them a challenge, if they know you will bypass them automatically. And, yes, for some players it will feel pointless to try and make a check when someone else will always be so much better than them. Or, worse, has a way to bypass obstacles without rolling - if I have a skill I am good at, but it is never relevant because you can always cast Charm/Fly/etc to bypass the situation, that might prove frustrating.

Now, all that said, *YOU* might not find this to be the case. But again, you can only speak for your own preferred approach, not for others. For myself, and for many of those I game with, part of the enjoyment of the game does derive from being able to contribute to the adventure, and feeling like our concept of our character is properly realized by their capabilities. Imbalance can - and often has - detracted from the game.

If that isn't the case for you, I'm not going to insist you need a balanced game in order to enjoy yourself. But, similarly, I will find it unreasonable - and even offensive - when you insist that we are simply playing the game wrong, and should be perfectly happy with an unbalanced game as long as we played the game in your own, superior way.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Besides, a situation with multiple avenues of success means you can do what you ae good at to move on, but yet you support every character being good enough at everything that they have no weakness such that you only encouter situations with one way to succeed which isbad on the writers and GMs part, and allows you to be lazy, taking the obvious route because you dont have to worry about being weak. What you ask for is god characters.

That isn't remotely what we are asking for. I'm having trouble properly picking it apart, since your epic run-on sentence is largely incomprehensible. But from what I can gather, you seem to think we are asking for "every character" to be good at "everything" and have "no weakness".

None of which remotely resembles what we have asked for. Balance is not about making everyone great. Instead - at least for me - it is about keeping a reasonable distance between being good and being the best. It is about avoiding having one character with an ability (spellcasting) that can trump all the capabilities of the rest of the party, and not having properly designed limitations and downsides to that ability.

The only one who has talked about god characters and characters without weaknesses is you. If you feel otherwise, or feel that we have miscommunicated our desires, feel free to provide actual quotes so that we can provide clarification.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Next point, so combat magic should be free of charge, but the more commonly used magic should cost more then most nonadventurers make in several months for each use? Making certain spells usable as rituals is fine, making anything not combat focused a costly ritual is not fine and it breaks the IC continuity, what do you think most spellcasters spend their time doing? Why were thise rituals even made, copied, and sold? Adventurers are a tiny part of population, and the "action" sequences of their lives are miniscule compared to the drudgery of everyday. You think zo much work and expense goes into researching the least often used magic without researching more beneficial magic?

As I mentioned early, I prefer a magic system where magic is potent but has significant limitations. As for the ritual system, I think the cost issue is a problem, but that has to do with the 4E economy as a whole, rather than any problem with rituals themselves. I fail to see any way in which rituals break continuity.

Why would a spellcaster sell rituals? Well, presumably because someone is willing to buy them. If you have a setting in which that isn't the case, feel free to run a low-magic game and make the appropriate tweaks to the rules for doing so. I did just that - my last 4E campaign featured rituals prominently, but they were never simply for sale in town - instead, they were treasure that PCs acquired by plundering the laboratory of evil wizards, or so forth.

Yes, you can invent a setting and reasons why rituals would seem out of place. But, honestly, the same is true with magic items and consumables in many editions of the game. In 3.5, you certainly need to take some steps to handwave away the reasons why NPC item creation and PC item creation are seemingly functioning on different economic scales.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Skill challenges are neat but bland and repetative. They also dont reflect the skill very well in most cases, sometimes it works, like for diplomacy, but not for most cases.

Well, that might have been the case in your game. In mine, that wasn't so. I will definitely admit that running and designing skill challenges well can be a difficult skill. But when the system works, it provides quite a bit of value. I suggest that if you have someone who is running bland and repetitive skill challenges and is forcing skills to work in non-intuitive fashion, that they are probably trying to force the skill challenge system to work in places where simple skill checks might be more appropriate.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
And at least in DnD each DC represented an actual difficulty compared to an objective standard, 4e doesnt.

You are flat-out incorrect. 4E provides direct, static DC values for many skill checks, just like in 3.5. It *also* provides a scaling DC chart for situations that are more free-form. If you want the DC to climb a rough surface like a brick wall, you can consult the static DC listing (DC 20) and use that.

If, instead, you have a more free-form situation where a PC wants to scale the back of an enormous earth elemental that is currently engaged in titanic combat with a dragon... well, that is where you might want to look up the scaling DC chart. Assuming that you feel that is a challenging situation to succeed at, you might use the Hard DC listed, and use the elemental's CR to provide the level.

That is one of the things people often miss, by the way. The scaling DC chart that is based on level? The intent isn't for you to always use the level of the PCs, and thus always have the chalenge scale exactly to them. The goal is to use whatever the appropriate level would be for the challenge / skill / stunt / etc. Now, often, the PCs will be in level-appropriate situations where the level will be close to their own. But nothing says that has to be the case.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
That is becase then they can let you have all kinds of numbers without it saying anything about your skill compared to anyone else, nor can you make any juxgements about the world based on your results, basically the numbers become meaningless so they can keep adding them to give you that sense of improvement more often while ignoring the world your characters live in. Perhaps this rather lazy approach suits you, but that doesnt make it great, awesome, or the best thing since sliced bread. There is no relation between what is acheived and what is normal for the world and its inhabitants, thus any sense of balance only applies to your party, an illusion of balance.

Well, I might again take offense to you making assumptions about our gaming styles and calling them lazy. Fortunately, your claims seem routed in completely misunderstanding the 4E rules and willfully ignoring how they work and what they represent.

Giving that the scaling DC system is *explicitly* about measuring your skill compared to everyone else, and that we *also* have hard numbers available to describe what is normal for the world and its inhabitants, I'm going to find your arguments here to be pretty much completely invalid.

Now, that doesn't mean you need to like scaling DCs or enjoy your use. If you prefer static numbers all the time, that is perfectly fine. But 4E provides both static numbers and scaling DCs, and many of us find the 'page 42' DC chart to be a very useful tool in running games. But, again, you seem unwilling to accept that others might prefer different styles of gameplay to your own, or that there might be any valid reasons for them to have those preferences.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Implying tha people would play like me if they lived up to there potential was not intended, but if they lived up to their potential they would understand what Im saying and realize how system balance is nothing but an illusion that shatters under intelligent play of any sort.

Wow. "I didn't mean to imply that my approach was better than anyone else. But, that said, if people were as smart as me, they would realize that their opinions are wrong and the result of being stupid players."

I... honestly, I don't think I've ever seen such blind arrogance and willful ignorance in discussions like this before. I will give you credit - you are a civil poster, and all the insults you have offered in your discussion appear to be accidental rather than intentional.

But to claim that those who prefer a balanced system are doing so only because they aren't intelligent enough to see things on your level - to be so incapable of even considering the possibility that other opinions and approaches might be valid - is just staggering.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:

Preperation of magic is something I have always disliked about DnD casters, that however is why I play sorcerers, however, when it comes to daily life for a wizard, the same daily life spells are likely to be used repeatedly and thus be easy choices, its the combat and unusual situations that often require guessing about what to prepare. Of course, combat isnt suiable for rituals.

And while I do like rituals, what I dont like is any and all out of combat magic being rituals including the ones that are likely to be used commonly or repeatedly, except for suddenly being ridiculously expensive by IC normal peopl standards.

You know (in entirely a side discussion here), you may want to look into the approach that D&D Next is taking. Spellcasting memorization has relaxed a bit - effectively, at the start of the day, the Wizard (or Druid, or whomever) chooses what spells to 'know' for the day. And throughout the day, can cast whichever of those spells they wish, using the appropriate spell slots.

So instead of a Wizard saying, "I have three 1st level spell slots, so memorize 1 Magic Missile, 1 Shield, and 1 Charm Person spell", they would say, "I have memorized Magic Missile, Shield, and Charm Person, and then can cast 3 magic missiles, or 1 of each spell, or 1 shield and 2 charm person, or whatever combination or those spells that they so choose.

Meanwhile, the way rituals work is that rituals are simply a variant form of spellcasting. Instead of the limitation being cost, the limitation is instead time - but the benefit is that if you cast a spell in a ritual fashion, it doesn't use up a spell slot. So if you have memorized the Alarm spell for the day, you could use a spell slot to cast it normally - or you could cast it as a ritual, which doesn't use up a spell slot, but takes an extra 10 minutes to cast.

Anyway, not particularly relevant to the discussion, but it did seem like the D&D Next approach was rather in line with your thinking, so I figured I would mention it.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
My comment about balance being noticed only by the lazy, is quite simply based on the fact that if you arent being lazy in your thinkingthen you would realize tnat tbe choices of the player have orders of magnitude more effect on outcomes then the system, which merely facilitates implementing random chances of failure. This is why a GM is needed because the system has such limits to what it can handle.

I will continue to find your assumptions about the rest of us to be inaccurate and condescending.

Look, I recognize that even in an imbalanced system, the choices I make as a player can overcome those imbalances and correct for them. I also recognize that a good DM can make adjustments to fix many problems inherent in a gaming system.

But that doesn't mean we should have to make those fixes on our own. Having a system that addresses those problems from the start leaves us with more time to focus on characterization and gameplay. If it is 'lazy' to prefer a system that is superior for our desired style of gaming, and that lets us focusing on enjoying the game rather than fixing the system... then sure, you win, you can call us lazy.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
I blame video games because in a video game you cant allow options except for those explicitly allowed in programming, thus people get used to thinking in terms of what the system allows rather then thinking beyond that to what the GM can allow.

That's actually an interesting point, though I don't think it has anything to do with video games - I've seen this sort of behavior in gamers who have never touched a video game in their life. This is actually one of the reasons I lost interest in 3.5 - too often, it felt like the system discouraged thinking outside the box or being able to do anything other than the options directly presented to them.

4E (at least for me) took a step back and seemed to encourage this style of play (with the emphasis on stunts and free-form challenges), and provided the DM with guidelines to help resolve events that aren't written on the page. Indeed, I found that if your group embraced this, then skill challenges and the like could turn into engaging and elaborate activities that could go on for an entire session. If your group couldn't wrap your head around this, then it was very easy for them to turn into slogs in which everyone just says, "I find a way to roll diplomacy" and never bothers trying to describe their action.

So... I agree that it is a concern. I don't think it is one that has any real origin in video game exposure, though, or one that is only a flaw in certain systems. And, indeed, for some groups it might even be simply how they prefer to play, with all of the rules explicit and clear, and I can't find anything wrong in that.

The key, of course, is ensuring that everyone in a group, and the DM, are on the same page. If a group doesn't want a freeform skill challenge, the DM can just leave those elements out of their game. For myself, where such a thing can be an impetus to unexpected adventures, having a system that embraces such an approach was very welcome, and one of the biggest strengths of 4E for me.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
What most dont know about 3.x is that most DCs and secondary rules are based on reality. Even carry capacity is based on reality, 3.0 jump DCs are based on reality. People often claim otherwise because they try to make elite individuals as lvl 20 when the max of human ability is lvl 5.

You are going to need to show your work here, because I don't think anything involving D&D ability scores or skill checks are remotely realistic. They are a complete abstraction, and I am going to need serious evidence to convince me otherwise. We don't even need to go beyond level 5, by the way. (Although why you would claim that the D&D rules are based on reality, and then claim that they breakdown only a fraction of of the way into the game, kinda shows the problem in your argument in the first place.)

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
4e does away with any pretense of even trying to compare to reality or plausability not even within the game world itself.

Once again, 4E includes static DCs are skill checks. It includes rules for carrying capacity. It includes Jump DCs based entirely on distance.

I recommended earlier that you familiarize yourself with Lord of the Rings and other classic works of fantasy in order to realize why your claims of how magic 'is realistically supposed to work' was so at odds with the portrayal of magic within the fantasy genre.

Now, I'd like to also recommend you familiarize yourself with the 4E rules system, since it sounds like a lot of your arguments against it are rooted in assumption about how it works, rather than actual fact.

Scott Betts wrote:
No one was forced to buy the Kinect to get the bundle they wanted.

I will point back to my own experience, in which almost all of the stores in my area were only stocking bundled packages, at least for a time. Now, I have no idea how much of an impact that would make, but I do imagine at least some of those Kinect sales did not come from 'desire for a Kinect' but out of 'desire for an Xbox, and not realizing they could find it cheaper elsewhere in a non-bundled package'.

Now, don't get me wrong - I don't think the Kinect is a bad piece of technology, nor do I fault Microsoft for continuing to try and make it stick. But I think that claiming it is an "insanely popular technology" is just... not really supported by the evidence or by the industry. I don't think there is a lack of interest in it either, of course. I suspect we're looking at a product that maybe 1/5 of the customer base is interested in and invested in.

Which isn't bad, and certainly makes it a worthwhile product to sell - but also does mean that there is a lack of interest in it from the majority, and that focusing on it too heavily isn't going to be met with an especially warm reception.

I look forward to these technologies continuing to improve and to the industry changing as they continue to be refined. I look forward to the eventual VR kits that will no doubt emerge from them all! :) But we are certainly not there yet, and the Kinect is still trying to break out of the 'gimmick' stage of its existence. I definitely get why Microsoft really wants to get it to evolve into its next stage by force, rather than by natural interest, but suspect it may be a flawed approach in the long term.

Kthulhu wrote:
Both the WiiU and the PS4 have Kinect-equivalent motion control. But they are both OPTIONAL. Which means that people who care about them can get them, and those that don't care don't have a useless $100 paperweight bundled in with their console.

Yeah, this pretty much sums it up for me.

When my original XBox died (approximately a month after the warranty expired), I went shopping for a new one, and went to a local Best Buy. They didn't have a single version of the XBox for sale on its own - they only sold it bundled with the Kinect. I didn't have a need or desire for the Kinect and wasn't willing to pay the extra price, so I ended up getting my new console elsewhere.

As it was, Best Buy's decision to not sell the product I was looking for cost them a sale. When the new consoles launch, the same will be true for me - but for Microsoft as a whole, rather than just a single retailer. By making the Kinect a required component, along with the corresponding price increase, they have chosen to sell a product I'm not interested in (the bundled package) rather than one I might be (a console on its own).

And that's perfectly fine! That is a decision they made, and presumably had reasons for - making the Kinect integral to the product does ensure that games can be programmed with the assumption that the Kinect is available, and if that benefit is worth it to them, fair enough.

But it is their decision and they need to live with the consequences, and I suspect lost sales will only be a part of it. I respect that they feel invested in the Kinect product and want to really make that part of the XBox identity. But as a customer, I prefer having accessories like that optional, and as such, I don't appear to be a consumer that Microsoft is interested in having.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
if you cant use a lever, get a longer lever. A long enough lever will let a one pound weight lift a two ton truck. Strength only applies if the lever is sideways or you have something to brace against. Bracing vastly increases the power output and is a result of intellect. Sure the intellect needs to be usable and preferably practical, a smart individual stays fit, which is more than enough to handle anything that can be handled by people.

So, previously you claimed that intellect always trumps strength. Your claim now appears to be that "intellect + access to infinite resources + some strength" trumps "strength without anything else".

No one has argued that intellect isn't a valuable tool and that there are many scenarios where brains triumph over brawn. The disagreement is the absolutism of your statement, especially since you seem to keep inventing qualifications to bypass specific scenarios that prove it false. And that, ironically, such backpedaling comes across as its own form of intellectual dishonesty.

a question to consider, what is your goal in playing the game? To kill every last enemy? Or to portray a character? What are these results you "need" and why do you need them? Do you somehow feel inadequate if have a 30% chance of failure rather then 5% chance of failure? Do you feel inadequate if you encounter anything at all that your are not suited or preppared to deal with? Do not people learn more and show their true mettle when dealing with obstacles that they dont know how to deal with? Is a game only fun if you never encounter failure, if you never have to backtrack, rethink your strategy, and try again?

There are many ways to enjoy a game, and at least for myself, they involve both the portrayal of my character as well as their impact in the story - an impact that is often measured by their capabilities in handling challenges.

I don't think anyone is asking for the removal of all obstacles or a guranteed lack of failure. As far as I can tell, you are the only one to propose such things in a relatively transparent straw man argument. What is being asked for, at least for myself, is a system that allows for multiple avenues of approach to success, while providing a bounded framework that does not emphasize or exaggerate any one approach too far beyond the reach of the others.

I should have included the word "reletivily" because yes they are there but they are seriously reduced down to almost nothing. Skill challanges are neat but definately rules light way of handling things, and rituals are a serious backstep which make direct support casting nonexistant, and severly discourages magic outside of combat. Casting alarm around the camp every night goes from being a regular duty of the group wizard to a an expensive thing that doesnt even require a caster at all and is prohibitivly expensive unless you actually have encounters everyday with merchants all over the place to turn loot into ritual componants. Most of the spells I used dont even exist anymore, and some non combat spells could still be used in combat for creative tactics, but not anymore. This is a severe hindrance to creative combat casters.

Well, that may have been your experience. In my games, skill challenges and rituals were a key part of the game and provided a lot of guidance in handling non-combat encounters. Indeed, in my last campaign we had several sessions that didn't feature a single encounter, which was quite a rarity compared to our experience in previous editions.

Now, it may be true that the specific strategies and spells you were used to were no longer available, and if those particular spells were a large part of how you played the game, that's perfectly fair to find it a hindrance without them. But I've seen many creative combat casters who were perfectly viable in 4E.

And for our group, the resource balance of rituals was a good thing. It added some important decision making and strategical choices - the exact sort of 'obstacles' you talked about earlier that can heighten the enjoyment of a game. For me, this is the sort of thing I mean when I talk about 'balance' - having spells that are potent and useful, but have important limitations that prevent them from just automatically overcoming certain dangers or threats.

I am 130 lbs, in the army and was the lightest person (well there one girl who weighed only 124, but was only in my unit for a short time) and in three years, I have never lost. Never. Not to the combat instructers, not to the 245 lbs fitness fanatic, I never lost. If the 7 stone guy has brains, he will win. This particular point comes from experience.

If that has been your experience, fair enough. Nonetheless, I don't think that experience is universal. And, honestly, making absolute statements about the world based solely on one's own experience is pretty much counter to anything I ever learned about rational thought and intelligent thinking.

one, I never said it was bad wrong fun, to have balanced games, and even said that playing lazily (regardless of how you define the term) was a perfectly acceptable and legitimate way of playing, and I just wished that it wasnt always the center of discussion with rules.

You claimed that the only reason someone would prefer balanced games is out of laziness. Whether you consider laziness legitimate or not, many of us feel that is an inaccurate depiction of our views, and thus your continued insistence on it has absolutely come across as insulting.

You later also said that anyone who played different from you was doing so because they had not lived up to their full potential, and implied that if they did so, they would be just like you and play just like you. Are you truly unable to see how that is the height of arrogance, and how portraying the preferences of others as inferior to your own is going to be offensive?

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
What you are talking about aren't discrepencies. And consider the reasons why many GMs like 4e for storytelling, they like the lack of rules for out of combat things. With fewer rules they dont feel constrained to follow them. A lack of rules isnt balance, its freedom for the GM to do something they desire without feeling like they are fixing things. A GM can legitimately make the same call in either 4e or 3.x, but appearently they feel relunctant in 3.x because there are rules already thus it feels like fixing things, but in 4e the rule doesnt exist so its not fixing something, so doing the exact same thing is somehow more acceptable to them. Took me awhile to catch on to this one.

4E isn't completely free-form, though - it presents a variety of guidelines and complementary mechanical subsystems (skill challenges, page 42, etc) that help give the DM guidance in resolving non-combat encounters, and that is an aspect that many prefer.

It is absolutely true that you can take those same elements and convert them for use in 3.5, and also true that you can run a 3.5 game and just ignore large portions of the rules in order to make things work in the fashion you prefer.

But, again, I'd rather have a system that does the work for me, rather than one hat I need to change and fix (especially since I don't want to feel like I am changing the rules on my players solely via DM fiat.)


Dont see how you can possibly have a +20 at second level, not without some ridiculous allowences by the GM, such as having really high point buy for stats plus really crazy synergizing magic items. Of course if its magic items, then its not the character, its the item.

Really starting with a +4 from ability plus 5 max ranks, plus assuming human so two feats and those being persuasive +2 and skillfocus +3 and still get only 14. Thus if you are playing with people having 20+ for bonuses your GM better not be complaining cuase its their choices that are allowing it.

Diplomacy: 5 Ranks

Synergy Bonus (Bluff): +2
Synergy Bonus (Knowledge Nobility: +2
Synergy Bonus (Sense Motive): +2
Racial Bonus: +2
Skill Focus: +3
Cha 18: +4
= +20

Items, spells, class features and other resources can quickly crank the number even higher.

For me, this is problematic - I don't object to characters being able to focus on something and be good at it, but I do object when the difference between being average and being good and being maximum optimized is so extreme. It is problematic for adventure design, for DMing, and for other players.

Now, yes, you can solve some of these issues by limiting access to certain things, by very elaborate encounter design, etc. But for myself at least, I'd rather have a system that provides greater internal balance and avoids the problem in the first place.

And I guess that is where I am somewhat confused what you are arguing on behalf of. I can certainly understand if you don't feel that these are problems for yourself, and that you don't need greater balance to fix this. But I'm not sure why you seem so opposed to the concept of balance at all, and what disadvantage you see in a system that tones down these imbalances and restricts characters to a more tightly measured scale.

just because a system works doesnt make the world plausible. Plausible comes from the world being consistant not the rules of the game. There is no way to have swinging asword be better then slinging lightning bolts. By the very nature of the two, lightning wins.

I'm sorry, but no - that is true only in your head, not in any measurable way, because "the very nature of the two" is something that *you have defined*.

You could have a world where magic requires elaborate set-up and takes time to summon the mystical energy to make it work, and thus swinging a sword triumphs because it takes several minutes to summon lightning but only a few seconds to stab a wizard.

Or you could have a world where magic happens instantly and without restriction, and wizards can cast Meteor Swarm at will, and thus always triumph over swordsman.

You can claim that you personally prefer settings where magic is free and powerful and always wins over martial skill. That's fine. But claiming that preference is grounded in some inherent laws of nature is just absurd. Unless you can actually work magic in real life, of course.


There are limits to what can be done with pointy sticks, this world knows well what those limits are. If you want magic to overshadow pointy sticks, then you must make magic subtle and weak, incapable of manipulating large base energies. You cant have it both ways, you cant have powerful awesome magical effects while being weak enough to be overcome by pointy sticks.

I have never read a fantasy in which magic didnt do more then pointy sticks. Some didnt use magic to its potential, but obviously for reasons of story, things get ignored.

That's unfortunate! I think you've missed out on a wide range of literature that is well worth reading. I recommend starting with a series called the Lord of the Rings - it is a very popular work, and considered by many a defining work of fantasy. It focuses very promininently on the limitations and costs of magic - indeed, it features one of the most iconic wizards of all time, who nonetheless spends most combats stabbing orcs with his sword!

Pointy sticks exist, you cant really change what can be done with them, but magic doesnt, you have to change what can be done with it, but you need to be consistant or frustration builds.

When dealing with heroic characters that are operating on a scale which we *cannot* measure in the real world, why exactly are you unable to change what can be done with martial skill? Shouldn't epic heroes be capable of feats of prowess that are far beyond what we can accomplish in real life? Indeed, if you look back to mythological stories, they are filled with examples of such things, and one would think that would be a better inspiration for a fantasy game than basing some classes on real life, and others on entirely invested magic systems.

Strength is never mighter then intellect. Never. Cant break that rope? Use something sharp. Cant lift that rock? Use ropes and pulleys. Intellect created the gun, now the very idea of warrior is so far dead most soldiers dont even understand it anymore. Intellect made the gun to defeat the sword. Intellect always beats strength.

You are trying to escape a prison cell. There is a portcullis blocking your exit. You are a smart person and realize that using a lever will help you lift it - but even with the lever, you aren't strong enough to lift it. Your friend the barbarian, however, is strong enough to lift it on his own.

Look, I'm not saying strength always wins over intellect - I have quite a bit of respect for intelligence and tactical play! But generalities are very rarely absolute, and trying to insist they are is not consistent with either real life or gameplay.

Note, I wouldnt mark magic knowledge as somehow seperate from knowledge in general, no more then saying that knowledge of carpentry is seperate from knowledge of physics.

In that case, why can't a fighter with a great deal of martial knowledge and tactical intellect be able to overcome a wizard's magical knowledge? Why is it a problem if some of us prefer a system that rewards both forms of learning, rather than focusing on one over the other?

perhaps I gave a bad example. Yes I know there some optimizers who do things other than damage, I have only seen two. I dont consider that a significant number, and doubt that the ratio of those I met are *excessively* far from total population.

No offense, but a lot of your claims seem to be founded on the assumption that your experiences are universal. A wise man knows that anecdotes are not equivalent to data. :)

Trust me, there are plenty of forms of optimization that aren't about damage. Optimizing skills, or save or be disabled shut-downs, or terrain control, or minion spam, or any number of other approaches - they all exist in good measure in plenty of places. That doesn't mean they are universal by any means!

But nonetheless, I will continue to find unreasonable any claims you make that optimization is all about mindlessly doing the most damage possible.


I dont think you understand how people are lazy. If a characters performance is only minorly affected by mechanics, then the imbalance of the reality between players renders any balance of mechanics moot. Seeking balance in mechanics is avoiding the work involved in useing ones intellect to guide the character to success, also in thinking enough to realize how the disjoint between player and character affects decisions, and in the lack of thinking beyond the first answer, and perhaps most importantly, in how people deal with their emotions and how they allow those emotions to guide decisions.

If people werent what I am calling lazy, then they wouldnt be relying so much on the mechanical build of their character, and thus would find the system balance to have far less if not no effect.

I find your use of the term lazy to be inconsistent with its actual meaning, and to be based entirely on insulting assumptions that you are not entitled to make about other people.

A character who wants their mechanics to assist with and reward their approach to roleplaying is not avoiding the use of their intellect, nor are they seeking a shortcut to success. Wanting a character to have capabilities seperate from those of the player is not a weakness - it is part of the fundamental nature of a roleplaying game. You might prefer free-form roleplaying in which your character's abilities are meaningless. Others do not.

I don't object to you preferring one approach over another. I do object to your implication that your approach is superior and your actions are smarter, and that those who use a different method are doing so out of laziness alone.

well of course not everyone is like me, but they certainly have the potential to be, but instead they stick their heads in sands and complain about getting sand in ther eyes.

See previous comment. You preferring one style of play does not make you a better person than others. The fact that I prefer a different approach does not mean that I am failing to live up to my potential as a roleplayer - it simply means that we find different facets of the game engaging and rewarding.

I am honestly amazed that you are so unwilling or incapable of looking beyond your own perspective. I have no objections to you preferring a different style of gaming than I do. I do not look down on you for doing so. It seems the same is not true of you, at least based on these last few comments, and I think that is unfortunate... Because I don't think any sort of honest dialogue is possible if you truly believe that the only way someone could disagree with you is due to a failing on their part.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:

Greater knowledge is greater power.

Guys love strength of muscles because its easy to see, easy to display, yet it is the weakest of all potential strengths possessed of any person. Knowledge and the ability to quickly utilize it, will defeat muscles anytime, anywhere.

In some scenarios, strength can be mightier than intellect. In some scenarios, wisdom proves more valuable than others. In some scenarios, agility proves most useful.

This is what I, at least, mean by balance - not that all of these should be equally capable at all things, or that there should be no distinction between them.

If you prefer a system in which intellect is dominant, that is perfectly fine. If you find that is the closest mirror to reality, well... fair enough. I don't agree, and think it is silly to give any such absolute statements about knowledge always triumphing, much less to insist that magical knowledge is the only form in existence. But if that is the system you prefer, that is your choice to make.

All we are suggesting is that we prefer differently, and having a system that provides what we are looking for is not a bad thing.

I have very rarely seen people try to win in anyway other then stereotypes. Fair or not, that is the most common way people try to win. Why do you think most optimizers maximize damage output? Why not gain the ability to immobilze or disable an opponant quickly and damage them at their leisure? Or work as a team to hold an opponant unable to act, while others deal the damage? Yet somehow people always boil it down to "I punch you, you punch me"

I suggest you simply have not had enough exposure to optimizers. :)

Trust me, there are many optimized builds designed exactly around disabling enemies! Whether it involves 'Save or Die' (or 'Save or Be Disabled' more often) at absurdly high DCs, or involves maximized and empowered ability damage, or grapple checks that are through the roof, all of these are approaches taking in optimization.

And, again, many of these are also elements that I see as unbalanced. Not necessarily the existence of such things, but the potential to optimize them to a different level than most people play the game at. I'd be fine with a system in which such effects exist, but don't involve getting into a DC / Saving Throw arms race. That is at least one form of what I mean by balance.

When I say that most players I have seen are lazy, its because that is what I see.

In which case, that is unfortunate. (Or it might not be - as you pointed out, this is a game, and playing it in a lazy fashion can be perfectly fine!) But I think our objection was not that you claimed most players are lazy. It was that you said that our desire for balance was solely motivated by laziness. Those are very different claims - one referring to your own experiences, which is fine; the other making assumptions about everyone else, and I think that was why so many folks objected to it.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
GMs are part of the system because the rules are incapable of accounting for the player. The performance of a character is only about 30% the mechanics, the rest is the player and the GM.

But that doesn't mean you can't have a system that reduces these discrepancies and leaves more room for the DM to focus on enhancing the game, rather than fixing it.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Additionally, you need to calibrate your expectations of DnD. Level 5 is the limit for normal humans so once you get a bonus above 10, you have basically become a demigod, so why wouldnt a demigod of persuasion have any difficulty in persuading the halfling chief?

The problem is that, in an unbalanced system, you don't need to be level 5 or level 10 to have a +30 bonus. A character could have a Diplomacy score in the +20s by level 2.

Indeed, I am all in favor of a system that does a good job of portraying the growth from heroic to epic hero, such that a heroic character is merely charming, while an epic hero can truly offer godlike persuasion!

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
I prefer plausable rather then realistic, however, think of it this way, swing a stick or command the the very elements of nature, which is more versatile, which has greater potential, greater scope and depth?

You can invent a thousand different worlds and make each one plausible. Your scenario is only 'plausible' because you have a system where magic is designed to be stronger than strength of arms. Nothing says it has to be that way, and indeed, in many ways it flies against many traditions of heroic fantasy and mythology!

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
The only time balance is noticed is when people are being lazy.

You are simply wrong here. I recommend, in the future, that you focus on speaking for yourself, rather than putting words in other players mouths. I've noticed balance issues plenty of times without any laziness involved - I've seen plenty of scenarios where tactical but non-optimized PCs are outperformed by optimized PCs running on auto-pilot.

Feel free to talk about what balance means to you, but please stop making claims about what it means for others, because all you are doing is coming off as insulting and rude.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
If I can take a mechanically weaker character and out perform others with stronger characters, then obviously the performance has as much to do with the player as the mechanics.

You know, what I find funny about this, is that I view one of 4E strengths (at least at the start) as keep things close enough that this exact paradign is well-supported.

At least early in 4E, an optimized character would be a couple of points better to hit than a non-optimized character. The non-optimized character could easily make that up via tactical play - flanking, ambush, synergized abilities, etc.

Thus, you had both options available - design some optimized characters, and then operate on auto-pilot, or design some more well-rounded characters and rely on strategy to carry you through combat. Or design some optimized characters and play them strategically well, and end up with a bit of an advantage in most encounters.

For myself, at least, this wasn't the case in 3.5, and is exactly an area where I found imbalance in the game. The game really emphasized optimizing your characters from the start. If you brought a non-optimized character and non-optimized party, it was very hard for tactics and strategy to make enough of a difference, not when the optimized party was +20 better than you to hit. The exception, of course, was playing spellcasters, who *could* focus on elaborate spell-prep/tactics/etc to shut down encounters via spells alone.

But if you were a non-optimized, non-spellcasting character, and didn't have access to tons of magic items and equipment, you were going to have a rough time of it. At least, in my experience.

You might have had a different experience, and that's fine. But for me, I found 4E to be better balanced, which meant reducing the gap between optimized and non-optimized characters (in both dealing with combat, skills, obstacles, etc). And, for me, that meant it *opened up* a wide range of character options and RP.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
I was trying to point out that it wasnt the only way. I did not claim that my way was better. Therefore you ironically said the same thing to me as I was trying to say to others.

No, look. The problem wasn't that you said your way was better than others. The problem is that you claimed everyone else's way was something that it wasn't!

DarkLightHitomi wrote:

The "hulk smash" character can interact with the story without being good at everything.

A couple of options for a nonsocial fighter in your example of getting on the good side of a merchant house.

-be the comic relief. You can provide to the game/story without being the one who progresses the story.

-be the gruff not so talkative guy who has others speak on his behalf. Or just be gruff, when it comes to specialized skill sets, people in power occasionally need to deal with those who are "unrefined" and while mr hulk might not be overly persuasive in speech he can still get good graces by being usefull or even simply being polite despite a social ineptness.

But what if I don't want to play any of those characters? What if I want to play a soldier who is a capable combatant, but is also respectful and friendly and a decent talker?

The imbalance problem (at least for me, in 3.5) wasn't that my rude half-orc barbarian was useless in social situations. It was that my Cha 14 soldier with a few ranks of Diplomacy was meaningless alongside someone with a +30 bonus, or a wizard with the right spells.

Balance in 4E was not about making every *good* at specific tasks. It is making the difference smaller between being bad, being ok, and being the best. And, at least for me, that was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

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DarkLightHitomi wrote:

An outright fail doesnt have to stop or block play, it can be turned into an additional obstacle, an additional scene to play through, and yet you speak of outright failure like its the worst possible thing to happen.

Weak builds are often played by me, and if that keeps you from a game then that is an issue with the GM, not the game itself. Same goes for dealing with optimizers, if they keeping stealing the spotlight, then the GM isnt doing her job.

I think this is the breakdown in disagreement between your point of view and some of ours. Yes, a good DM can try and fix problems in the system (like unbalanced caused via optimization) - but many of us would prefer that the system does the work for us.

We aren't arguing that all characters should excel at every task. But a system with tighter boundaries and basic competence for most characters - unless those characters choose to be incompetent at a task for RP reasons - is preferable to one where some characters are so far ahead of others that they are operating on a completely different level of play.

For example: Say I am a halfling, in 3.5, with 14 Charisma and a few ranks in Diplomacy. We need to convince a halfling chieftain that helping us resist an invading army is better than simply surrending. This feels like an area where my character should really be able to contribute, and I am getting ready to give a good speech to persuade him.

But if we have a wizard there, he might just solve the entire issue with charm/dominate/suggestion. Or instead, say we happen to have a half-elf who has optimized for Diplomacy. My +5 or so diplomacy pales in comparison to his +30, even if the DM gives me some circumstance bonuses for cultural reasons or a good speech, etc.

Indeed, the very presence of him in the party means that no other characters are really needed in social situations. And it means that the DM either doesn't bother with such social challenges - or has to artificially inflate the DC so the diplomat can't automatically pass. And, by doing so, makes the DC strictly impossible for everyone else.

Now, sure, there are ways around this if the DM gets inventive, or alters his adventure design in certain ways. And you can also make the point that why does my halfling need to be the one succeeding as long as the party succeeds and I get a chance to RP. But that misses the point of why many people are playing the game - the chance to have their characters matter, and to be able to interact and contribute to the success of the party, especially in times when it would be character-appropriate to do so. Balancing those aspects doesn't impede RP and character - it enhances it.

That's why many people prefer balance - whether it be a mitigation in the potency of magic, or it be more tightly banded numbers so that the super-diplomat might be better than his allies, but not so much better than it isn't even worth them rolling.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Besides most of your balance is completely nonsensical, why in the world would any fighter living in a world with mages and magic not learn it?

Because magic is dangerous and takes its toll on the mortal body and mind? Or because magic involves making pacts with dark powers? Or any number of other reasons one can decide since magic is not a real thing and the designers get to decide how powerful and/or dangerous it is.

Seriously, the second you try and say that it is 'realistic' for magic to be more powerful than martial prowess, you are going into a very silly place. Magic is more powerful in D&D because that is how it what designed. That doesn't make it good design, nor does it make it a good representation of fantasy, especially if one looks back at the heritage of fantasy, whether it is LotR or heroic myths or many other scenarios where magic is treated very differently than the abundant, cost-free commodity it is in D&D.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:

you had better use tactics and good planning to gain success, oh waitplayers hate that, they want to play like Halo, rush in and slaughter with no plan and no strategy.

Too bad really, strategy and planning can make the weak builds come out on top, which is another issue with game balance. How you play is extremely important. An optimum build played with suboptimum choices will fall to a suboptimum build with optimum choices.

So really, balance is important when people are lazy, and while I can respect that some people like being lazy in their leisure, there is no reason to assume that pandering to their playstyle is somehow better or the most important thing.

That is... kinda a mean suggestion to make, and one I don't really feel deserves me taking the time to pick apart. I suggest you very carefully examine what you said, because it is both incredibly wrong and largely insulting, and really doesn't belong in what had been a pretty rational discussion up to this point.

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bugleyman wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Skills will be back though. I wouldn't take their presence or absence in any one playtest packet to be meaningful. They're playing around with different ideas, not nailing anything down yet.
Not to be a naysayer ( I want D&D to succeed), but doesn't it seem like they should be further along?

Honestly, I'm quite happy to see them just keep working at it until they get it right. We do continue to see big changes, but at least from my perspective, the product is getting more and more refined with every release.

lokiare wrote:
Ok, well good then. Its not quite so bad, but still pretty powerful with the permanent duration and the ability to use suggestion.

Keep in mind, the permanent duration is only for a *single* creature at a time, at level 20, which is when they seem to be planning for epic powers to come into play. Combined with Charm making them helpful, but not subordinate to your will, and I don't think it is too much.

Suggestion being reliable on charmed creatures is useful, I think, but I don't imagine it will be too overwhelming. Keep in mind that in the past, you could usually compel charmed creatures to do what you want. I think Suggestion is simply taking the place of that here, with the benefit that if you have Charmed someone, you will *eventually* land the Suggestion successfully even if it takes a few tries.

lokiare wrote:
You are correct an optimized Barbarian is going to make the save 2-4 times at most. The Fighter on the other hand can pretty much get up to a 90.89% chance up to 3 times per day with Lucky feat and auto-advantage on saves and a decent Con score. Then after that it drops to something like 60%+ so yeah, pretty much unkillable, throw a Cleric in the mix and you end up with the rare time the Fighter goes down it pops back up.

Yeah, the Fighter definitely needs to have that ability fixed. The DC needs to scale or something. Personally, I'd prefer if both abilities required expending a reaction or something, as that would limit it to only being usable once per round.

lokiare wrote:
I would have been excited if there was any chance the Cleric feature would come into play, but you have such a small chance you might as well not use it unless you are weaponless, out of spells, near death, and captured or something. Really with those odds you are better off just attacking with your weapon...

Keep in mind, though, that running out of spells can happen pretty quickly - at level 10, when you get access to Divine Intervention, the cleric has 11 spells per day. If you use some spell slots to cast buffs (Death Ward, Aid, etc), and also make use of some of the swift cast spells, I imagine you could be out of spells within 1 or 2 encounters.

Now, at that point, you have either a 10% chance for the intervention, vs simply making some regular attacks. If you goal is just to kill the enemy, yeah, I imagine that just attacking will be the better choice. But what if an ally needs healing, or the group is trying to run away, etc? I imagine those situations will be where it will be worth at least making the divine intervention attempt - when you really need to do something that you simply can't otherwise do, and even a 1/10 chance of success is better than none at all.

lokiare wrote:

Barbarians don't die when they hit 0 hit points. They instead make a DC 10 con save. They can do this every time they get hit, but the DC goes up by 5 each time. So if you have a bunch of Con save feats you basically can't die or have the equivalent of 30x the hit points of everyone else

Oh at 12th you make all saves with advantage, so you just doubled your hp from the not dying part and tt 20th, you don't die at 0 with no save, but make death saves as normal and die after 6 of them.

I think the 'save vs death' elements do need a close look, but I'm not sure they are quite as overwhelming as you might fear. The first save (DC10) should be trivial to make. Assuming a decent Con, you are likely to make the second save (DC 15). By DC 20, the odds aren't that great, even with Advantage - unless you have a Paladin around, I suppose. Assuming you do, you can probably even have an average chance at hitting DC 25. DC 30+ is going to be next to impossible, though you could use your Guardian Spirit feature at level 17 to auto-pass (but doing so turns off several class abilities for the rest of the day, and thus is only usable once.)

So, in effect, it means you can take an extra 1 or 2 hits a fight, or potentially 3 or 4 if really optimized for it. Of course, once you've survived the first hit, you do drop to 1 - so those extra hits you are surviving could be coming from very basic enemies and still using up your few bonus chances to stay standing. And once those run out, you are potentially in real trouble.

Now the Fighter, who has to make a DC 15 save and it never goes up? That is a real problem.

lokiare wrote:


When you are out of Cleric spells you can call upon divine intervention and get a free spell effect but you only have a % chance based on your level, so don't bother unless you are totally out of options. You can only try it once every day. In other words it will almost never be used.

It might not happen often, but I was really excited to see this in there. For years, I've wanted something along these lines - but I also wanted it to be something that only really crops up in extreme moments of desperation. So I think it is a very cool idea, even if it won't often be relevant.

lokiare wrote:

A lot of the features for the Mage seem overpowered like 24 hour duration on charm, recovering your suggestion spell slot if they make the save. Very overpowered. At 8th they get auto charm and force attacks on others when attacked. Way overpowered. At 12th creatures don't remember being charmed, which was the only drawback to the charm spells. Another overpowered ability.

Keep in mind that Charm is not nearly as absolute as it used to be. Charmed means the creature thinks of you as a friend and won't attack you. There is no guarantee it won't kill your friends if it still sees them as enemies, and no guarantee that it will simply do what you tell it to.

Some of that, as always, does come down to how the DM runs things and how they handle social interaction, and how much they let you convince charmed enemies to help you. But it doesn't seem nearly as direct a compulsion as it was in the past.

Similarly, the Mage's 'renewed Suggestion' only works if they try and cast Suggestion *on someone they have already charmed*, which definitely implies that they expect the Charm simply to calm someone down and leave them open to a well-placed Suggestion. Making Suggestion reliable for an Enchanter doesn't seem too potent for me, especially if it is only when used on someone who has already been charmed (and thus the Mage has already invested resources and actions into.)

Really, none of the Mage abilities strike me as overpowered. Same goes for most spells in general, Overchannel, etc. I suspect that a lot of these are the sort of thing that looks good on paper, especially when based on experiences in other editions, but won't be unreasonable in the actual course of play.

Overall, I like most of what I am seeing, though I still think there is plenty of room to continue making adjustments. (And, I admit, I am quite impressed that the Playtest has been running for a year and is still going strong, with significant revisions and adjustments based on feedback!)

I like making feats *significant*, and making them legitimately worth a trade-off of ability points is a good way to go about that. Being able to spend a single feat to be a skilled archer, instead of half-a-dozen feats? That's fantastic. My only concern is having the multiclassing element tied to that - or, rather, that it currently looks like you will still need a bunch of feats to feel appropriately multiclassed, and that doing so means giving up stat bumps that are especially important to multiclassed characters.

I am a big fan of what we're seeing with the Fighter, and having several different builds each with their own approach. I do think the save to not fall below 0 mechanic needs work, though, for both the Fighter and the Barbarian. I feel like just about all the classes are starting to come into their own, and I like the way they are handling the different paths within each class.

I continue to like the advantage/disadvantage concept as a whole, but I think the rules need to be a bit more sparing with handing it out.

I think spells look effective, but I'm definitely not seeing some vast superiority of them trivializing the capabilities of non-spellcasting characters. Spells definitely feel potent, but they are also quite limited in how many you get, so it is important for them to be relevant when they get cast.

I do remain sad that they've returned to the older hp system where Con is so important and hp varies so widely from one character to the next.

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DarkLightHitomi wrote:
As for point two, I am very objective with such things, in dealing with rpgs I run the idea with what I know of reality then see how each game compares. For example sneak attack, it is rather easy to find weak spots when you know what to look for, however a less practiced individual is more likely to strike a quarter inch to left dealing greivous but not quite as bad damage as the master. However when you can see such weak points, you will strike for them at every available opportunity regardless of your actual accuracy. Thus 3.x is more realistic because you can use snk atk at every opportunity and damage depends on your skill.

But again - that comes across as a plausible justification, but I think there is a very big difference between being plausible, and actually being realistic. As soon as you examine statements like that in detail, plenty of questions arise that make it sound less reasonable - or that cause the rest of the system to start breaking down in comparison to it.

I mean, do we actually have real world combat experience that indicates a dabbler in knife-fighting can always see the best place to strike the enemy, but often misses compared to the more experienced knife-fighter?

What if the dabbler was already a skilled warrior who was even more accurate than your standard rogue - wouldn't they be likely to perfectly strike that weak spot even more often? If it is 'very easy to find weak spots', does that mean someone good at bluffing can make themselves immune to sneak attack by tricking the enemy? Should a rogue with a better spot check be better at finding weak spots than a rogue without a good spot check? Should the damage dealt by an attack fluctuate based on if you barely hit someone's AC or if you hit them by a lot? Etc, etc, etc.

This is the problem with trying to claim that one element is more or less realistic than another - it pretty much breaks down immediately, because so much of the core of the system is inherently unrealistic. The entire concept of attacks, initiative, hitpoints, etc - all of it is heavily abstracted in the interest of game play, regardless of what edition one is playing. That isn't a bad thing, by any means, but it does mean that claims of realism are usually actually rooted in favoring what is familiar or simply feels more suited to one's style of play.

Which isn't to say that those aren't, themselves, valid reasons to prefer one style over another! But claims of one approach truly being more realistic usually don't hold up to proper examination, at least in my experience.

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DarkLightHitomi wrote:

4e can do some of it but only if you twist the concepts into the system, you have to do that with any system, the concerning part is just how much twisting needs done.

For example my rog/sorc/mnk concept, is really just a scout character who sneaks everywhere and deals with traps, except learned martial arts mostly for defense but some atk too, so no need for armor, and learned a few spells to augment such as invisibility, plus a few atk spells.

Even bringing this into 3.x requires some twisting, but bringing it into 4e requires more twisting, and in both cases will inevitably result in gaining more ability that are not part of the original concept.

Honestly, I'm not sure if it would take as much twisting as you think. That is actually one of the areas where I find 4E will often shine, because the shared customizability of several areas (feats / skills / backgrounds) can really let you hone in on a concept without being wedded to a specific build. If I want a Monk who happens to be a capable scout who can deal with traps, I can cover that via Background and Skills without needing to multiclass into Rogue. If I want a Sorcerer who is skilled at defending himself without wearing armor, I can take the Unarmored Agility feat. If I want a Rogue who can turn himself invisible, I can take the Master Infiltrator Paragon Path and have several ways to do so.

I'm not saying that 4E will always provide the perfect solution, but provided one is working from an overall concept rather than from a desire for specific mechanics, it can often achieve what you are looking for.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
This is one reason I dislike classes of any form, but 3.x has a touch more flexibilty and feels more real, after all, if I just learned how to snk atk, why would it do as much dmg as the guy who has practicing his entire life? Good for balance yes, but it doesn't make much sense.

Again, I think this is another matter of perception, where one version seems more fitting not because it is actually more realistic, but simply because it is more familiar. Couldn't you argue just as easily that, if sneak attack represents finding a weak spot to stab, that it should do just as much damage regardless of who is stabbing the vital spot - but that it takes the more devoted rogue to be able to consistently find that weak spot and capitalize upon it?

I think trying to break down D&D into 'what makes sense' is honesty a bit of a waste - so much of the system is, at its core, far from realistic, regardless of what edition one is playing. But with the right justification, you can usually explain most rules, and that is why I think folks usually find the version they are most familiar with to be the most realistic - simply because they have had the most experience with it, and have already had a chance to internally justify its mechanics in the past. When something different comes along, however, it feels like a change, and without having yet had the chance to internally attune to it, many of those differences will feel 'wrong' on a purely emotional level, rather than a legitimately rational one.

At least, that is how it often is for me, and I've certainly noticed myself coming across mechanics in new games that I dismiss as absurd, before taking the time to really think it over and notice that they are no more or less absurd than similar approaches in systems I am more familiar with.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
It is superior only in some ways, like balance, but by the very nature of it, it is also inferior in others, such as flexibility (in some ways, like character design. I can't make a true rog/sorc/monk, I am forced to pick one and dip using feats.) That's why "you can't play the same type of game". Or rather, 4e does what it does better than 3.x but 3.x does more different and flexible things then 4e.

I think they are both flexible in different ways, but it is true that 4E is generally more flexible for DM prep and during play, while 3.5 is often more flexible for character creation. Still, I've actually found it easier, in many ways, to create many character concepts in 4E, especially since they have split off many character elements into feats and skills. Being able to have a character who is good at certain skills without needing elaborate multiclassing is quite nice.

And, while I feel 4E ended up going a bit over-board with power-bloat (as did 3.5), many of those additions were actually perfectly excellent additions that definitely expanded the character building process. You couldn't build a Rogue/Sorcerer/Monk at launch, perhaps, but you can absolutely do so today.

But the exact form of what that will take will depend on how you build it - and what you are actually looking for from the character concept. You can certainly build someone who has Sneak Attack, Flurry of Blows, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Slow Fall, arcane spellcasting, a familiar, who runs around in robes and hits enemies with fists/staves/knives/magic, or whatever combination of those you are looking for.

Now, how you build and play that character mechanically will depend on what elements you want to focus on, and will definitely play out differently than in did in 3.5. There are positives and negatives of both styles.

The 3.5 version gain a very expansive selection of abilities - lots of low level spells, the ability to flurry and add a low-level amount of sneak attack on every hit, etc. On the other hand, it came with a cost - your BAB took a significant hit from spreading out over those classes, and you didn't get much depth in any specific class - you were unlikely to see many of the cool later monk abilities or high level spells.

The 4E version has a lot of depth, but also shies away from being able to stack things together. So your hybrid Monk/Rogue is usually going to be able to flurry into a group of enemies or go assassinate a single target with sneak attack, but isn't likely to do both at the same time. (Though there are some min/max builds that admittedly can do so.) But you do get both abilities at their full potential as you level up! And with many of the iconic class features having turned into feats or utility powers, you can pick and choose your ideal ones as you level up, rather than needing to focus on one class to gain their most unique abilities.

Similarly, if you then multiclass into sorcerer, you don't end up with a large number of spells - however, the spells you pick up from multiclassing will be at the same level and power as a full sorcerer. Or, alternatively, you could build a Monk/Sorcerer hybrid with a full selection of spells, and then pick up Sneak Attack by multiclassing rogue. But with the downside that you can only use your Sneak Attack once a combat. But when you do use them, your Sneak Attack is potentially just as effective as the full rogue standing next to you!

So both approaches have limitations, usually designed with the sensibilities of the system in mind. Splashing a level of rogue in 3.5 will give you 1d6 Sneak Attack on all your attacks. Multiclassing rogue in 4E will give you several dice of Sneak Attack on one attack each combat.

I think many of the folks that find the 4E approach limiting do so not because it is limited in the concepts they can build, but because they have those concepts too wedded to specific mechanical implementations. If your idea of a "Rogue/Sorcerer/Monk" is someone who casts Wraith-strike and the flurries an enemy with a bunch of attacks with Sneak Attack... then no, 4E isn't going to be able to build that exact character. But it can provide you with a character who runs up the side of a castle wall, stabs an enemy in the throat and tosses them off the edge, and then launches fireballs down into the soldiers clustered below.

So the question really becomes - do you want to be a Rogue/Sorcerer/Monk because you have a character concept that blends those archetypes? Or because you are used to a specific mechanical combo that you enjoyed playing in 3.5? Because adapting the character to 4E will almost always succeed at the first question, but almost always fail at the second.

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DarkLightHitomi wrote:
First, my comment had nothing to do with 4e. As I stated earlier in the thread, 4e has a different focus and I think it does it's focus quite well. For some incomprehensible reason, people keep comparing the two like apples to apples, but really it's a case of apples and oranges. Yes you can play the game outside it's focus, but it won't play as smoothly.

In your experience, perhaps. (Though from the sounds of it, that experience is more theoretical than actual.) I've had plenty of success running 4E games with a focus on character rather than mechanics - and, indeed, I find the 4E goal of balanced characters actually makes it easier to have such a game.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Ironically,you are complaining about my statement because it would require the GM to make a custom call, yet many folks like 4e because it's more open for them to make custom calls.

I don't think there is any contradiction. If someone feels that 3.5 is a system that requires significant DM fiat in order to make workable, but does not make that DM fiat easy to do without disrupting core elements of the system, those same people are quite likely to enjoy a system that makes DM fiat easy to do in a way that doesn't break the system.

DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Besides, did it ever occur to you that there is a difference between being built into a system and simply being an option? A spell is neither rule nor law, and no player can learn said spell unless the GM says "Yes you learn the spell." 3.x was not made as a complete kit, it was made as a collection of options.

Do you know how many spells there are in 3.5? The answer is a lot. As the DM, needing to know in advance what spells will break the game, and which will not do so, is not a burden that I desire.

If you have found a way to successfully run the game, then more power to you! But for many other folks out there, they have not found it as easy to do so. The level of micromanagement required to make 3.5 workable at higher levels was something I found unpleasant as a DM. I love a great many elements of the system, and I agree that there are a variety of solutions to address those problems, including carefully examining and banning/allowing feats/classes/spells on a case-by-case basis. Yet, for me, that was a level of work I wasn't really a fan of, and not an ideal solution to the problem.

For me, one of the benefits of 4E was not that it was perfect in a way that 3.5 was not - but instead, that it was much easier to customize and adjust elements that I felt needed fixing. (Or that simply didn't suit a specific campaign.)

Now, that might not be true for everyone, and might not even be a concern for many people. That's fair.

All I'm saying is that for some people, it proved an easier system to run and to manage, and that having a system designed for that was seen as a feature.

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Scott Betts wrote:
I've seen multiple outlets (including one or two that have been linked to in this thread) reporting that Microsoft is working on a solution for allowing service members to use their Xbox Ones without the once-a-day requirement. The fact that their reps aren't giving details out yet is probably more of an indication that they haven't finalized those plans than anything else.

"Probably" is a very important word there. The important thing is that, based on the links you have provided, there is absolutely no concrete evidence that those reports are anything more than rumor - especially given that the official statements from Microsoft since then have not even hinted at such plans existing.

Listen to yourself, Scott - you are saying that a journalist reporting the facts, asking Microsoft directly, and providing exact quotations of their response, is "amateur" because they didn't give equal service to unsourced rumors on the internet??

Scott Betts wrote:
Taking the lack of concrete details and turning it into "Xbox One is a sin against all service members" is sensationalist, and is amateur (honestly, even if it were true, that's a pretty awful headline).

It is a sensationalist headline, yes - but that doesn't make it a sensationalist article. You seem to have missed an important part of that headline - the quotation marks. "A sin against all service members" isn't something the journalist made up - they are quoting a naval aviator and his response to the current information Microsoft has revealed about the XBox One.

Scott Betts wrote:
It's reporting an inflammatory conclusion based on incomplete information on a product that won't be out for half a year.

Scott, have you actually read the article? The tone is about as even-handed as it gets. Blaming the article as inflammatory because it provides quotes of angered service members - alongside quotes of Microsoft response to these concerns - seems incredibly unjust of you.

Yes, you are correct that we do not have complete information on this product, and that it will not be out for half a year. Are you suggesting no articles should be written about it until it is released?

At this point, the information we have to go on is what Microsoft has provided. This article reports on that information and raising concerns over what those limitations will mean for service members. I'd say that now, half a year away, is an EXCELLENT time to raise those concerns - so that if Microsoft actually can respond to such issues and respond accordingly.

I have no objection to you feeling that Microsoft's decisions are reasonable from a business standpoint, or believing that the restrictions of the hardware will not prove to be an inconvenience for you (or even for the majority of gamers using the system.)

But I don't think it is fair to say that journalists should leave Microsoft alone until more information is revealed. I don't think it is fair to say that the information Microsoft has revealed thus far is somehow 'off limits' for criticism because the launch date is still half a year away.

It might be easy to dismiss the article as sensationalist, and amateur, and inflammatory. Just like it has been easy for many to dismiss the XBox One as evil, greedy spyware. I think your claims about that article are just as much an exaggeration and just as much a knee-jerk reaction as the similar hyperbole about the XBox One's flaws.

Perhaps even more so, since the mob hysteria over the XBox One at least is grounded in genuine concerns for the consumer, while the only valid complaint that might be lobbied against the article is that of using an attention-getting headline.

Scott Betts wrote:
So those reports that Microsoft will be providing a way for deployed service members to avoid the once-a-day connection requirement are just going to be ignored for the sake of amateur-hour, sensationalist reporting?

OFFduty asked Microsoft officials if that empathy might translate into practical workarounds for the military.

“I don’t have additional details to share and can’t speculate on workarounds at this time,” wrote Xbox rep Danica Stickel in an emailed response to questions, repeating the suggestion that troops could just use the 360 instead.

Amateur-hour and sensationalist, Scott? They reported based on the news we currently have of the product, and they gave Microsoft the opportunity to respond to those concerns - and devoted a good portion of the article to sharing that response. If there is any truth to the reports you are referencing, the burden is on Microsoft to share that information - and until they do, all we can go on is the information they have provided.

And, as pointed out, the comments they have offered up of late have not been exactly promising in that regard.

I get that you feel many have overreacted to the entire situation. And, honestly, I think there are plenty of cases where that is true. I don't see any of that in this article, and don't think it merits the insults or condemnation you've offered above.

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Some of the main reasons I liked 4E:

-It made it far easier to run a story-driven, RP-heavy, open-world campaign.

-Players could build any characters they wanted, rather than worry about who had to play the healer.

-Everyone in the party felt able to contribute both in and out of combat.

Scott Betts wrote:

You can give your game to any friend who has been on your Friends list for more than 30 days.

If you want to give your friends access to your games without losing access to them yourself, you can make them part of your Xbox Live "family", which gives them access to any of your digital content you choose to share (including games).

So can you freely lend games? No.

Can you give your friends access to your games? Absolutely.

My understanding was that we have not yet heard the full details of that Xbox Live "family" sharing - specifically, Microsoft spoke about it in terms of sharing games with actual family members, not just giving access to anyone you wanted to. Do you have specifics about this feature that you can provide?

I'm not saying you are wrong, necessarily, in this case - it may well be that the service will work exactly as you state. But it doesn't seem like we have any definitive proof of that, or anything close to it. In light of that, isn't it a bit unreasonable to give a statement of 'absolutely' about a product whose specifics have not yet been fully revealed?

The strongest point of your position has been that people shouldn't be rushing to conclusions or making definitive statements about a product that isn't even out yet. But that goes both ways, and this post, at least, seems to be presenting some things as truth that may not yet qualify for such an absolute statement.

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