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sunshadow21's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 3,468 posts (8,347 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 29 aliases.


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Diffan wrote:
See, here's where we totally disagree. As a DM for my group I've always felt constrained by the v3.5 system for creating monsters. Making them bend to the requirements of PCs is just too limiting. Want that Orc to wield two battle-axes, well he's gotta have Dexterity value of X and Two-Weapon Fighting feat AND Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting feat and that means he'll need to be Y level and blah-blah-blah. No thanks. I'll just write down "2-battle axe attack" on his character sheet and not bother with the minutia of rules-jargon for a monster that will most likely die in the 2-3 rounds of combat he's featured in.

Personally, that's never been a problem for me. I would still write down "2 battle axe attack" and worry about the details later if they were required. Knowing that a PC legal path was technically possible, and something that the player could emulate if they chose to, would be more than enough support to carry a 2-3 round beast. That's what I like about the 3.x system of monster creation; I don't feel like I have to treat every single detail of a monster as if they are a PC, but they are similar enough that when a PC wants to copy what they see a monster doing, there is a way for it to happen. With what I saw from 4E, that was not really possible, and it's good that with 5E, they seem to have found a decent compromise.

Kthulhu wrote:

That's something that David Bowles doesn't seem to be getting. The default is that you don't have to use the PC creation rules for monsters. That doesn't mean you can't use a portion of those rules if you want to. If you think a monster should have Power Attack.....give it Power Attack!

Monster creation isn't shackled to the PC rules, but it also isn't shackled away from them either.

Not requiring every PC option is fine; it's essentially what I ended up doing in PF anyway. Decoupling monsters from PCs completely was a bit much, though, and I'm glad to see that 5E avoided that mistake again.

Ganryu wrote:
The big problem with previous edition monsters is how they used feats, and you had to know all the feats involved. Getting rid of monster feats is a very good things.

I get around that very easily with PF monsters. I simply didn't worry about the feats, skill points, or anything else that didn't seem relevant to that monster or NPC, assuming that they have those things, but they aren't relevant to the encounter I am planning. If they ended up needing those things later, I can slap them on quickly enough. I personally much prefer that they have the same chassis as the PCs rather than having to learn an entirely different list of abilities and rules than the what I already have to learn to understand the PCs. Just because they have the same basic framework doesn't mean you have to fill in every single detail to the same degree and the number stats are easy enough to manipulate while using the framework as a guideline. I haven't seen 5E's monsters but I will take PF's approach over 4E's any day.

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Alan_Beven wrote:
@sunshadow21 agree with your points that most games share responsibility between players and GM. I like that a lot. My point was that those systems do not remove the GM from the equation entirely, and most encourage and allow the GM to engage in world and campaign building by limiting player options to those that make sense to the campaign. Which to my mind is the only approach that makes any real sense.

Most systems, though, require that the DM does most of that work before the players are even invited to play in the campaign. D&D is one of the few that allows a DM to start from scratch after the players have already sat down with their dice, and that is both it's biggest strength and biggest weakness. Once others are involved, DMs have to be willing to give up some (not all, but some) of their creative freedom and power in order for the others to feel at least somewhat engaged, and D&D not only does not encourage this, it does not even particularly facilitate it.

Some of the best games I've been in have been D&D, because of the freedom and lack of limits, but all of the worst ones I've been in have been non-3.x D&D, for exactly the same reason. That's a big reason why 4E struggled, and I can see it being a problem for 5E as well. With the right group, 5E could be a lot of fun, but it will be very easy for a lot of people to have one bad experience that makes them refuse to even think about trying it again. It's going to be far too easy for a DM to make 5E a DM's game with the players just along for the ride; 4E had that exact same problem, and not only did they repeat it, but they amplified it. That amplification, along with a very limited release schedule for support, is going to be a major challenge. This isn't 1980 anymore; players have enough other options for entertainment, not only in the tabletop game market, but overall, that a game that flat out glorifies the role of the DM while actively limiting what anyone else can do without the DM's attention is going to struggle in the wider market once the shine wears off.

5E doesn't do anything wrong, it just doesn't stop when it starts going in a single direction. To limit magic, they not only made concentration the rule rather than the exception, but they limited spell slots. They didn't just take away magic marts, they didn't even bother list prices to serve as starting point and comparison tool. When they finally stopped, they hadn't just limited the ability of the player to interact with the world while the DM was working with another player, they completely removed it. To me, every fix went one step farther than necessary, making it that much harder for the player to functionally share in the story being told. I'd rather have a system where I can look something up and ask the DM a reasonably detailed and straight forward question once he has a free moment rather than having for each person take five minutes at a time with the DM trying to figure out basic stuff that a rules book could answer, or at least help define the question, just as easily and far more quickly. The pre-3rd edition approach that 5E is taking does not allow that, and that will limit it's long term appeal to a lot of players, especially new ones that are used to video games.

Joana wrote:
FWIW, the Paizo staff has flatly denied that Unchained is a step toward 2.0, but you're free to surmise what you want about it.

I would be surprised if Unchained didn't take them a step closer to 2.0, but I would be surprised if it did so anymore than any other book they've put out. It seems to me to be similar to Unearthed Arcana, with a bunch of alternate rules, many of which I'm sure will show up again if they prove to be popular enough, which is a step towards a new edition, but I don't get the vibe that they are actively testing anything in particular for a new edition.

Alan_Beven wrote:

I would disagree from my observation that "most" non D&D systems offer progression, development and access to equipment solely in players hands. Vampire? Nope, special equipment is earned via roleplay (aka no unilateral crafting), disciplines out of the standard clan 3 are Storyteller permission. Shadowrun, equipment availability is GM realm, I do not recall a crafting system. Tunnels and Trolls? Same as 1st ed DND for loot and advancement. Pendragon is a strange beast where some "advancement" was even out of the players hands via random winter events. No crafting that I can recall. Numenera, GM literally hands out the cyphers and artifacts as a core part of the game. 13th age has no crafting that I can recall, multiclassing is GM permission. I could go on.

I totally get that a bad GM makes a bad game. Some people should not GM. Vote with your feet. I just personally feel that a system that trys to "even the paying field" ends up hurting the game in ways that I...

Of the ones listed I've played, I found with both Shadowrun and Pendragon that large portions of character development are things that DMs have no say in.

Shadowrun, you start with contact points, and if you choose to use them to give your character a supplier of equipment, the DM cannot legitimately cut you off of equipment upgrades directly; also you can take talents that give you access to restricted gear at character creation, giving the player a bit more control if they need it.

Pendragon, even with random winter phase events, still guarantees some kind of growth and development every year; it's also set up so that the player chooses where precisely that development is. Gear is less of a concern and generally assumed to be more or less present, at least as far as the common stuff is concerned, meaning that the DM has to actively avoid giving it out if they don't want players to have stuff.

In both cases, both sides share responsibility for areas that continually cause problems in D&D because they aren't clearly player driven or clearly DM driven. From what I've seen of Vampire's system, it's very similar. Nothing is completely player driven, but very, very few systems rely solely on the DM for key aspects of PC development.

The D&D setups of either having the DM control all access to equipment, even mundane basic equipment, or allowing magic marts that bypass the DM entirely both fall flat on their face given the other options out there in that regard. Some games, like Pendragon, avoid the problem entirely by simply not making equipment that much of a major detail. Others, like Shadowrun, provide players limited access that while it does still require DM interaction, is not regulated entirely by the DM.

Similarly, from what I've read about 5E's classes, there isn't a whole lot of choices to make once you choose you subclass; feats help, but still comprise no more than half of your overall abilities, again not much when you look at what other systems do. Even 3.x/PF is fairly limited in the options that players have once they pick a race and a class; it has skill points, and freedom to multiclass (which especially in PF is not that great of an option), but that's about all it has beyond what I've seen with 5E. It's still not much compared to other systems out there. Other systems allow DMs to control when the PCs get to grow by determining how much karma they get and when, or similar setups, but even then, players have a lot more control is shaping that development.

In the end, D&D is the only one I've seen that truly makes the DM god and requires the player to go through the DM for absolutely everything (or in the case of 3.x/PF, virtually nothing). Virtually every other game (at least that I've seen) works in some kind of way to share control of a lot of the grey areas that develop between the character and their interaction with the world.

I agree that 3.5 is the only one that went so far as to be DM neutral, but most non D&D systems acknowledge that while the DM is the final arbitrator, there are significant things, especially when it comes to character progression and development and access to new equipment, that are firmly largely, if not entirely, within the control of the player. D&D has never achieved that kind of balance. Officially, it's always either "DM controls everything" or "DM is just another player that happens to run the monsters and NPCs." And the gaming community surrounding the brand does little to soften that all or nothing approach. To me, it's one of the biggest reasons that I'm starting to get weary of new D&D editions, and even to a certain extent, getting weary of PF.

I like the idea of a system where the DM has final say, but I just don't think that the overall community or company support is there to keep it from going off the deep end into DM controls everything, including a great many things they shouldn't.

Kthulhu wrote:
I personally find items that merely make an existing number bigger to be absolutely the most boring items in the entire catalog of Magic items. Even (and especially) the vaunted "Big Six".

So do I personally, but the "Big Six" became that way for a reason. A lot of people like them, and like them a lot, in large part because the results aren't reliant on the DM; the players know exactly what they are getting and what they can do with it. Just like with the limited spell slots above 6th, it's going to be hard to convince people that more utility or plot driven magic items are going to be a fun replacement. The only way that will truly happen will be when DMs loosen up the process of acquiring and using magic and magic items without wondering when the DM is going to pull the rug out from under them.

This is one area that DMs need to retain a certain amount of control, but sharing it with the players is essential at the same time. As a player, I don't want my character's development to be limited to items and powers that the DM may or may not decide to allow or make accessible. The DM already controls the world and the response in the world to anything that the character does; limiting character development directly by limiting magic and magic items that much is not going to appeal to a great many players.

Steve Geddes wrote:

One of the side effects of the concentration mechanic that I really like is the increased value of utility items. I'm hopeful the +1s will seem far less attractive than the ability to fly/move silently/heal/etcetera. My first 5E campaign is still a little way off, but the plan is for it to be very low magic.

I'm optimistic that 5E will tell those kinds of stories well - at this stage it feels like it. The abundance of magic items is probably the key feature of PF I don't like - particularly the need to "upgrade". (Well, maybe not the key feature, but second on the list - but after the complexity of PF, it's the Christmas tree effect that really bothers me).

Maybe shifting the magic to utility items instead of + items will be enough, but that won't really be known until high levels. 5E does seem to be trying a bit more than some of the others in finding that sweet spot, I will grant them that; I'm just not convinced that at higher levels, they did any better any other edition. Utility items lack the excitement that making numbers larger has, and only 1 spell slot per day, no exceptions, for any spell over 6th is going to wear on players sooner rather than later.

Zardnaar wrote:

1. Wealth by level.

2. Ability to buy magical items
3. Metamagic
4. Easy PC magic item creation.
5.Wand of CLW that PCs can buy (the wand would be fine in AD&D).

The best part of OSR games is DM empowerment in regards to magic items. No one hour rituals to create them, no go to a store in a town the right size and buy what you like RAW.

For better or for worse, 3.x was by far the most realistic in how most magic and magic items were eventually handled in most campaigns. Magic items are a reality in basically every published D&D ever in any edition, and the idea that magic is this really hard to find thing falls apart pretty fast when the classic party has not one magic user, but two, one using divine magic and one using the supposedly rare arcane magic. I didn't like every aspect of how they implemented it, and think that PF made a number of improvements in that area, but their acknowledgement that it was actually far present in reality that past theory had allowed for was a big step forward in my opinion.

3.x did not create the christmas tree effect, it just exposed what had been present in the core system the entire time while amplifying it to an "impossible to ignore" status. 4E, for all that it tried to formally tone it down, faced the same reality, and in the long run, 5E will as well. The idea that magic in all of it's forms is somehow this rare specimen in any D&D edition has never been one I understood. It's a great theory, but always falls apart sooner rather than later, especially if you play with the published adventures.

It's a tangible part of how the players interact with the game, and thus will usually one of their major focuses in seeing character improvement, regardless of edition. To me, that focus is not worth fighting; I'd much rather find a way to allow the low level stuff to be common enough while retaining the mystery and awe of the truly epic stuff. No edition yet has been able to pull that off officially, nor has the overall community been particularly helpful in that arena, with most people either demanding virtually no player access whatsoever or nothing but easy player access, neither of which is realistic or helpful to the game. Even 5E is going to run into the exact same problems at higher levels. Very few DMs can really pull off the much vaunted idea of making a +1 sword seem like an major upgrade after the first time of doing it, nor will limiting higher level spells to one slot per day last very long because players will find a way get more (no one playing a level 20 wizard is going to want to rely almost entirely on cantrips and spells 3 levels lower than what they are capable of casting; they are going to want to get actual routine use out of their 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells) and both official adventures and DMs tired of constantly fighting it will eventually facilitate it to at least some degree.

JoeJ wrote:
With regard to balance, however, I haven't seen any problems or heard about anyone having problems in play with casters being unable to survive or not being fun to play.

You didn't hear about most of the balance issues for 3E or 4E until well after release either. I'm not prepared to say that casters are completely bad, but I'm not ready to say that casters are where they need to be for the system be proclaimed a great success on the magic front either.

Matthew Koelbl wrote:

What specific issues are you seeing that are concerning you?

Even at low levels, they have at-will cantrips to keep them effective once they've used up their spells. That alone means your all-caster party can remain perfectly viable without bringing along a fighter.

Add in more hp for wizards, plus plenty of unique (and often defensive) class features - and the fact that if you *do* want to build for it, making an armored mage is a lot more viable than in the past... and I'm just not quite which issues you are looking at that are leaving you at the mercy of the DM or the rest of the party.

I guess when all is said and done, simply reading the rules, which is the only exposure a lot of would be new players will have, I'm left feeling "meh" about 5E as a whole and the magic system and magic items in particular.

Cantrips from what I've read in the rules and people's reaction to them don't excite me in and of themselves. Maybe in conjunction with the added flexibility of what spells you can cast and when, they make for the lost spell slots, but they aren't anything that make me want to rush to try the game. The whole concentration thing for that wide of a swath of spells irritates me even if it doesn't quite turn me off; the idea is fine, but I think it goes a bit too far in limiting nonblasting spells. Continuing to pretend that magic and magic items are somehow rare things in the world while also continuing to prominently display multiple types of casters as common party members is going to continue to set up clashing expectations between DMs and players.

I'm sure that I could very easily make a very effective caster without difficulty, but from what I've read, and from what people are saying on the forums, the range of options both functional and interesting across a wide variety of groups or encounters does not particularly set my imagination on fire. In the end, while I am certain I could a fun and useful caster if I wanted to, I am not at all convinced that given all the other systems I already have, both D&D and otherwise, that I would have any particular reason to seek out 5E specifically. It's not like 4E where certain elements actively turned me off, but I don't see anything that really solves the problems I have with PF either. All it does is exchange them for other limitations and problems, some brand new and some dating back to AD&D.

People are trying to say this is something new and different, but really, its the same basic classes and races put into a different skin, and nothing more. Take away the brand name, and most people wouldn't give it a second glance. In the end what bugs me is more what I don't see than what I do see; simply replacing and shifting the problems around is not a solution and is not going to get me excited or convince me that WotC has somehow learned anything.

That's good to know, because there's a lot of the rules and character options on paper that are less than entirely clear on how they play out in an actual game.

EntrerisShadow wrote:
Well, our level 1 sorcerer did single-handedly end an encounter with 5 goblins last session.... so I can say with certainty it's not unheard of for a caster to hold up by themselves. (Like I said - Sleep is still a great equalizer. Probably moreso now that that there's no save.)

I'm less focused on a single encounter than a long campaign. Finding examples of single encounters isn't hard. The jury is still out on long campaigns and will be for a while.

thejeff wrote:

I dunno. It's been a long time since I played AD&D and I haven't had the chance to play 5E yet, but I don't recall having any trouble making wizards effective back in the day. Maybe not quite so dominant as they were in 3.x, but plenty of fun nonetheless.

Maybe that was entirely GM fiat. Maybe I just had good teammates. It is supposed to be a cooperative game, not a solo one after all.

One, effective does not automatically mean fun, for either myself or anyone else at the table. I have never questioned the ability to make an effective 5E wizard; whether it would be what I consider fun while not hurting the fun of others at the same time over the course of a campaign is less clear, however.

Two, I am not looking for a solo character, but I do need a character that when I make it and sit down at the table, I am not completely at the mercy of the DM and the rest of the party for it to do what I expect it to be able to do. At the very least, the wizard should be able to take a hit or two and be able to get of immediate danger. For all that some are trying to say that all of this can be done in 5E, I'm not yet convinced that it could be done routinely in less than ideal groups; maybe it can, maybe it can't, but to me, the jury is still deliberating. The few times I played AD&D, it was way to campaign, group, and DM specific; sometimes I had no problems, while others times a caster was virtually unplayable. Martials are not perfect in PF, but at no time are they unplayable, and on paper, 5E seems to be in danger of doing precisely that with the casters.

Laurefindel wrote:
The fact that casters can't go in and out of combat with impunity is not a bad thing IMO even if it changes the paradigm a bit.

It hurts the robustness of the overall system if you limit it too much. 3.x/PF probably went a bit far, but casters still need some ability to do so, as combat is going to be where the party spends a lot of time, and returning to AD&D levels is to me too far of a step back. Maybe 5E pulls it off in play without having to have the perfect group, but on paper, it seems like it has most, if not quite all, of the difficulties that AD&D had, which makes me less likely to actually try the game because I like to play casters and I need them to be not entirely reliant on teammates or DM fiat to be both fun and useful. 5E just doesn't seem to have that from what I've seen so far.

EntrerisShadow wrote:
You can still disengage (certain tank builds notwithstanding). And that again is where I say it encourages party support. And it makes Sentinel feats and the Defense fighting style viable.

Great theory, but in reality, arcane casters relied too much on party support before 3rd edition having very few options on their own. Having not played 5E, I have no idea how the idea works out in actual play in this system, but it would definitely be a concern of mine if I were to try to play a caster. Too often the few times I played AD&D, you needed a perfectly balanced party, not just character wise, but making sure that all the players were on the same page as well, for a caster to truly be enjoyable to play, and achieving that kind of balance amongst the players is very hard. At least on paper, it seems like 5E still has most of the problems that AD&D had in that department, which to me is definitely a bit of a turnoff. I don't have the luxury of being able to play in the same group with the same players all the time. I need a system that is capable of handling at least some group variation, and 5E does not seem to be very robust in that area on paper.

Kthulhu wrote:
A spellcaster shouldn't be able to ignore the enemy that's standing right next to him when he's trying to cast. Whether that enemy be a martial or a spellcaster.

Ignore, no. But not being able to get away from them so that the caster could do something the next round seems a bit much.

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memorax wrote:
I just think that Wotc is between a rock and a hard place. No matter what they do it never seems enough imo.

I agree with this to a point, but they are the ones that determined they have to completely reinvent the wheel every edition, and frequently during the entire lifetime of each edition as well, unlike pretty much every other rpg out there, so it's hard to feel too much pity for them.

I think that 5E is a decent enough blend of the older editions, which is great for those burnt out on PF and looking for a supported system that plays more like the older systems. However, it doesn't offer anything notably unique that can't be accomplished by a skilled DM in PF or any of the older D&D systems, nor does make it notably easier for a newer DM to put together a long term campaign, even if the individual encounters are easier to manage. I hope it gathers enough support to last a while, unlike 4E, as I do think that the different worlds are a major strength that no other system can offer, but the core system itself is pretty generic at this point. While I can see this being a major selling point for some, unless they really ratchet up support for the different worlds, it's not going to be enough to sustain itself in today's crowded market, just like 4E had a good solid core system once they settled into it, but was unable to get the level of support it needed to truly sustain itself. They need to make far better use of the worlds than they have since taking over the brand; relying solely on the core rules, which are at their core the same material in each edition with a few tweaks, is not going to be enough.

P.H. Dungeon wrote:
FYI a dragon can still do a ton of damage in Pathfinder with a single attack if it has certain feats- power attack, improved natural attack (bite), vital strike chain. I've recently run some gargantuan and huge sized dragons with this combo, and their damage output with a single bite attack isn't that far behind their full attack damage output. Plus if they hit they are almost guaranteed to force the PC to make a massive damage save.

I don't usually worry too much about outliers like dragons because they are going to be nasty in any system if done right. It's when that becomes the norm to the point where the party can't go anywhere or do anything without spending two hours of the game session doing recon unless the DM also reworks large parts of other rules in the system that I start getting annoyed, and importing some of the things in 5E directly into PF would just that. Full move and full attack probably works just fine in 5E, where the rest of the system was designed to work with it, but it would cause considerable problems in PF, where the rest of the system is designed with a completely different expectation in mind.

The only thing I've really seen that bugs me about the actual 5E system is the magic system that everyone claims fixes everything when as far as I can tell it replaced the problems that 3rd and PF have in that system with the problems that the earlier editions had instead. I don't know if it's WotC or something inherent to the magic system in general, but I have yet to see any version of D&D magic (including magic items) that could be considered even remotely balanced while still being interesting. Every version I've seen ends up either weak, unreliable, uninspiring to my imagination (I'm sorry, but 4E's power structure was boring as heck to me), or overly strong and all too often, very confusing in the presentation of the rules and corner cases that develop out of those rules. 5E's version does not appear to me have broken that trend.

It hasn't done any worse, but it hasn't done any better either, which I guess is my biggest hangup with 5E as a whole. It's interesting, but there's nothing there that's particularly unique or capable of generating fresh excitement for me. It's better than 4E in that it doesn't actively turn me off, but it doesn't have anything that makes me really have reason to choose it over any of the other version already on my bookshelf. It's still basically the same classes and races with some tweaks to the combat rules and character creation. Every new strength comes with a new weakness, leaving the overall balance pretty much the same D&D always has had, which is to say barely any at all without heavy DM judgment calls and house rules.

Logan1138 wrote:
David Bowles wrote:
Diffan wrote:
David Bowles wrote:

Letting combatants take a full move and take all their attacks has a lot of unforeseen consequences. Something like a dragon just got nearly impossible to deal with. Fly 80 feet, take seven attacks with power attack, good night.

Clearly people should play what they enjoy, but if my only option for tabletop gaming were 5th ed, I'd just go play more Starcraft. That game holds zero interest for me. They tried to be everything to everyone and came up with something I feel inferior to even 4th ed. But as I said, I've been there, done that with 2nd ed, and by extension, 2nd ed redux. I have no interest in playing 2nd ed again.

I think you just made Dragons more interesting, especially when their whole turn consists of Fly, 1 attack, done and then 4 or 5 turns of concentrated attacks and then one attack from the dragon and rinse-repeat.
Interesting or not, a lot of classes/monsters would have to be rebalanced. The CR system isn't perfect, but playing with that house rule destroys it.

Oooo....rant/diatribe bullet point #2: Encounters don't have to be "balanced" to ensure that the PC's can overcome all challenges. Sometimes the best option is to *gasp* avoid a fight or, if you are already involved in one, **double gasp** run away.

Back in the old days, fighting monsters was usually a suboptimal choice as the XP gained was minimal compared to the risk of dying. Now, killing things is the primary way to gain levels. I think this was a poor design choice...

EDIT: My complaint about player optimization and the one in this thread about fighting everything are linked, of course. When the primary method for player advancement is killing stuff, gamers are going to shift their focus heavily to optimizing the damage their PC's can dish out.

Encounters don't have to be perfectly balanced, but they do need to have some kind of reasonable workable boundaries for the average encounter. Having to run away or avoid a fight occasionally won't irritate most people, but having to do it routinely would definitely get on most people's nerves, even those that have been playing long enough to play the older systems. Trying to shoehorn full attacks with a full move into PF would break it beyond the point that balance of any kind, which is necessary at some level, would be near impossible without rewriting large sections of the rest of the ruleset. I would do no more than half movement with a full attack; that would still have a reasonable chance of preserving some semblance of balance.

I like that they made martials more useful, but they did the same thing they did with 4E in making the solution the new problem. From what I've seen, I would probably not bother playing a caster in 5E; the argument that PF is too reliable and powerful is valid, but it seems to me that 5E made it not reliable or powerful enough over the course of a multilevel campaign. I don't like that WotC can't seem to find a solution without creating new problems. It's not a bad system, and I could get used to it if I knew people who really wanted to play it, but the magic system has most of the same problems that pre 3rd edition did, so it just swapped out which set of problems it chose to live with; it didn't actually solve much of anything.

Matthew Koelbl wrote:
It is much easier to say, "Hey, great RP with your action, you regain Inspiration" rather than saying, "Hey, great RP, let me spend a few minutes thinking up a good way to reward that or a way to make your stunt work or etc".

This is perfectly doable in any system. 5E may make it a bit easier in that particular area because it provides a single mechanic to do so, but I've played with many DMs in many different systems, including 3.x/PF, who have done similar things with virtually no difficulty or extra time required. It's an interesting mechanic, but far from groundbreaking and unique.

As an example, microfilm. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and it saved a lot of space, but nowadays, not even most researchers deal with it that much. Most digital offerings are the same way. A new OS comes out on a new device on a new network, and all the old information either needs to be copied over or left behind; maintaining the old device and software is simply not an option in most cases given the sheer number of devices and software iterations that would have to saved and that's before you get into the issue that most devices today rely more and more on the cloud for basic functionality. That's very different from a book that short of physical damage or loss of possession can always be accessed, even if it isn't always understood. As a book owner, I have full control over that book and the material within. Yes, things can happen to that book, but they all require direct access to the book itself. As a digital owner, I'm at the whim of the hardware manufacturer, OS developer, application and protocol maker, the creator of the actual product, the power company, and in many cases, my ISP. Much harder to claim to have control over that product when a decision by someone else on something not directly related to that product can effect access to the product both short term and long term.

thejeff wrote:

Digital stuff can be sold without any DRM or other server side control involved. My Paizo pdfs for example are mine. I can do as I please with them and will be able to continue to do so, even if Paizo shuts down.

No one can limit that, short of hacking my computer - and my backup storage. Which is the rough equivalent of breaking in and taking my hardcopies.

Some e-book formats work similarly. I know I've bought a few that way - mostly small press, online only stuff, I prefer real books for casual reading.

You can still lose access to power, and thus access to the devices required to read the pdfs. As an archiving medium, digital will always be second to physical, which is why most companies still use lots of paper, and still require hardcopies when archiving is required. Aside from the power issue, you have the issue of differing protocols, operating systems, and corrupted data. We already face challenges accessing data stored on microfilm only 40 years ago; that problem is just going to get worse. Digital is very good for accessing information for immediate use, but books are still the kings of long term access and storage, and always will be, especially for the rare and obscure that people don't want to have to pay constant server and connection fees to maintain access to. Digital access is improving and will get closer to what books offer, but it will never replace books. It will simply offer an alternative to how information is accessed at any given time.

Economically, digital is cheaper than books in the short run, yes, but books still have advantages. Long term, their maintenance cost to the producer is zero; you make it, you sell it, and you move on to the next thing. Digital products tend to require servers and/or updating material to work with new protocols; if they don't offer either of these things, than the functional life of a digital product is much shorter, and the consumer will demand a lower price accordingly, so either way, it costs the creator money. They are also more predictable to both the creator and consumer; their initial costs may be higher, but they are generally well known and better understood, and consumers know what they can and cannot expect from them. Physical products are also generally more appealing to consumers because once you have the product, you control it entirely, and it's very difficult for anybody to take that control away short of taking the physical product away. With digital products, the consumer never really fully controls the product; there's too many people that can limit access or use of that product with little to no warning.

In the end, both mediums have strengths and weaknesses, and the marketplace will have to adapt to the presence of both. Digital products are not going away, but neither is the physical book. As the drawbacks of digital offerings become better known, you'll see a resurgence of the physical books as a viable alternative when digital simply can't offer what people are looking for, and this industry is going to be one of the places where physical books continue to do well. Digital tools are good and helpful, but they will never replace the feeling of flipping through a book and looking at artwork to get inspiration.

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bugleyman wrote:
Physical books are living on borrowed time. I wouldn't be surprised if my grandchildren see them become a museum curiosity. The economics of printing and distribution simply don't make sense in a digital world.

I would be surprised to see physical books disappear completely. They can offer many advantages that digital products cannot. Their use will continue to decrease until digital products equal or surpass them in day to day life, but they will always be around. Simply writing off physical books entirely is just as stupid as ignoring the need for developing digital products.

Wrath wrote:

I understand where Bugleyman is coming from. I wouldn't stop playing the system because of it though. However, his point about most other companies having electronic presence is quite valid.

I like electronic copies of products because it means I don't need an epic bookshelf to hold all my roleplay material. More importantly, it means I don't have to lug tons of physical copies of my rule books to game night. I just carry my iPad, minis and dice now.

For me, it is very convenient.

At the moment, 5e only has two books out, plus adventures. I run a table for the organised play at my local shop. So now I'm having to take the adventure, monster manual and PHB. However, much of what I need is in electronic format for free from WotC.

The most interesting discussion I've had about this recently was with the owner of my local shop. He has to carry physical books, and they need to move from his shelves in order to make profit. His 5 th ed stuff is moving well at the moment.

His Pathfinder isn't moving at all.

Both games seem to be equally represented in the area, based on games at his shop and recruitment notices for our area. However, the pathfinder players purchase their stuff electronically. It saves them a ton of cash ( I'm in Aus and our books are damn expensive due to shipping and taxes)

So, electronic is good for the consumer, but is killing the physical shop front. The shops are still the places where many people discover these games exist in the first place.


This ultimately is the problem that we have to find in today's market. To me, both books and digital have strengths and weaknesses, and finding a way to let multiple formats and distribution methods flourish is going to be a challenge the industry is going to have to address sooner rather than later.

lorenlord wrote:
I thought it had been done before, but I don't understand why a system hasnt come out with a way to either a) buy a digital copy that cannot be shared, or b) if you buy the book you get a code for a PDF that cannot be shared. Since i am not that tech savvy, is it even possible? I thought a system had done it already, but not positive.

It may be technically doable, but practically, it's not really implementable right now, if ever. Both options usually end up requiring more work than they are worth to get them to work.

These days, for anything to really thrive, yes it needs digital support. For better or for worse, the presence or lack of digital aids will be one of the determining factors in how well this system does, and the longer WotC takes to get official digital tools or pdfs out there, the more the void will be filled by others, probably less than legally, and/or the more that the younger crowd will simply ignore the system entirely. Not even putting out pdfs, something that's more or less an industry standard these days, will hurt WotC, just as it did when they ignored them in 4E. I can understand that some people don't agree with this, but that's the age we live in. The digital stuff cannot and should not ever fully replace the physical books, but it does have to be there.

2097 wrote:

I'm not saying go full sourcebook; their idea, to show the worlds through products that are designed to be used at the table, is great.

It's just that I would rather have hexcrawls, encounter tables, villages and dungeons (like LMoP but bigger) rather than a "go here, then go here, then go here" path like HotDQ.

Something like an AP or what you seem to be asking for as main source of details is great, but they still need some kind of basic gazetteer as well to fill in the overall layout and basic history and current status of the world and major regions, at least for the larger worlds like FR, Greyhawk, and Eberron. There are simply some things that need to be presented in a encyclopedia/atlas style book that isn't going to be constantly used at the table.

Something like the Inner Sea Primer that Paizo did would be sufficient, but there's a reason that Paizo did that book separate from the APs themselves. If WotC did something like that for the larger and/or more popular worlds, they could get a single source of information out there for new players while not rehashing old material any more than absolutely necessary.

EntrerisShadow wrote:
I actually love the AP style. I mean, has enough really changed that we need new Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dragonlance, and/or Greyhawk source books? It probably wouldn't be too difficult to translate the previous edition's sourcebooks to make it fit, either way.

I don't know that they necessarily need a full fledged campaign book for any of the setting, but at least a gazetteer or something along the lines of the inner sea primer is needed for the larger worlds. A few basic maps, a basic history, and an overview of the major regions, especially in FR, where things have changed a fair bit, is needed to give new players something to work with. Include references to older material for details on the history and regions and they can avoid repeating themselves while getting people to give the older material a fresh look.

The key to me would be to get a good solid reference book for the world as a whole out there and, for FR especially, the sooner the better. It doesn't need full details, but it needs to be able to serve as a common starting point for those more interested in finding out more than adventures and directly related material can provide.

I suspect it's more that figuring out exactly what to include in the OGL and what not to include is tricky, and since the table top game development team seems to be rather small, they really don't have the ability to focus on more than one major project at a time. They don't seem to have anything beyond a few story arcs even roughly scheduled beyond the DMG, so I suspect that the OGL is on the same to do list as pretty much everything else that people are asking for.

As far as the 3PP quality goes, I think those that really want support for the system will find a way to find the quality stuff amongst the 3PP the same way they did with 3rd edition and have with PF. The range will probably be similar to the content that WotC themselves put out in the previous editions, with some really good and some really bad, and most somewhere in between, with less direct cost to WotC. Those that don't like 3PP probably don't care about a ton of support material anyway, so they will simply ignore the existence of the OGL and material published under it, be content with the limited official content released by WotC, and WotC will win because that group won't be getting annoyed at having to deal with "official" support material unduly cluttering their game up.

Given that the company behind the recently pulled digital tool is still working on their product in some form, and seem to feel fully comfortable doing so, I think it's likely that the development and release of an OGL is simply going as quickly as everything else we've seen so far, which is to say very slowly. I'd be more worried about WotC figuring out how to establish a functional digital presence than whether or not an OGL like license is coming.

thejeff wrote:

I'm sure they'll definitely get some kind of digital release out. Probably (hopefully?) scaled back from the first attempt.

I'd be surprised by OGL and the longer it waits, the less I expect it.

The OGL I actually see happening sooner rather than later, and definitely well before they get the digital release hammered out; it's very clear that WotC is not going to use any more of their own resources than they absolutely have to as far as the tabletop game is concerned, and an OGL of some kind is a functional way to provide support for the system while limiting their own costs. Given from what I've seen from the development team thus far, I think it's not if, but when and how much, on the OGL. I doubt it will be as open as the 3rd edition OGL, but I would be very surprised if we didn't see something that copied the basic concept of that, and probably before summer in order to keep support for the system from waning before everyone else can start producing material.

The digital release I'll believe it when I see it; I'm sure they will eventually piece something together, but whether it will work or be of any use is another matter entirely. They seem to think that they need to have a single tool that does everything when very few people are actually looking for something that complex. Players, especially, don't need anything that complicated. I'm sure they will try to do something along those lines again anyway, so I have my doubts of seeing anything particularly useful in the digital department any time soon.

houstonderek wrote:

The whole "you can house rule it" is a cop out. If you have to house rule something to make the game work, the game is messed up to begin with. We didn't have to house rule anything to limit a magic user's impact in 1e, since the rules themselves, if followed, made casting in combat difficult.

3x, and, after they had a chance to fix it but didn't (and basically banned everyone who was mechanically correct but rude to the "we can just house rule it" cheerleading squad), Pathfinder, has the imbalance built in. 3x took away every mechanical limitation to spell casting AD&D contained, and took away a lot of what made non-magical characters competitive.

I hope they decide they don't need to be restrained by "backward compatibility" when Pathfinder 2e becomes necessary. Maybe they can actually fix everything (or at least a lot of) what was wrong with 3x.

The system actually has a lot more balance than most people realize. The biggest thing they need to do with PF 2.0 is rework the feats (not the feats concept, just the feats themselves), rework the spell lists for what each class gets (again, just the lists; most of the spells themselves and the core system is actually not that problematic), and completely reorganize the books from scratch. 3x has most of mechanical strengths and limitations that late AD&D as it was actually usually played had, they just completely botched most of the presentation, hiding the previously clear stuff unnecessarily and burying the previously hidden stuff even deeper. Reworking the spell lists to fit the assumptions made in the rest of 3rd edition rather than holding them to the assumptions of the original classic party would get rid of a lot of the lingering problems that PF inherited. Streamlining and reorganizing the book would take care of the vast majority of the rest, leaving a pretty solid system that could be fairly easy to pick up the basics up right away and learn the rest as the campaign progressed.

thejeff wrote:

I don't know. Thor's always been pretty angsty, along with the kicking butt. At least the classic Thor, I don't know so much about the recent years.

Always fighting with his father. Always being torn between Earth and Asgard. All the usual woman trouble, whether it's a mortal not being good enough for dad or Sif not wanting to stay on Midgard.

Has his personality really changed? Other than the whole thing about being unworthy, there's no mysterious persona change right? He's just troubled and upset.

This goes beyond his usual temperment swings and women troubles that I'm aware of in either the myths or the earlier comic stories. Norse gods even in the traditional stories aren't known for their mental stability, but the usual response is usually to go hit something, not go all introspective or whiny the way Marvel tends to have their superheroes do far too often for my tastes. And the traditional stories definitely don't have the gods standing idly by while others are taking their powers and names out from under their noses.

I've always scratched my head why Marvel would think that some of what has been done in the past was a good idea, but they have up to this point remained more or less in the realm of the believable, even if only just slightly. This just blows all of that out of the water in terms of extreme changes being made; they aren't even trying to use anything but the names of the characters and locations at this point. It's not a bad story in and of itself, but it definitely does not fit with this character. Add in the fact that it doesn't really do the new character any justice in the long run either, and it really just falls flat for me. They end up telling one decent, but not particularly great, story instead of telling two really good stories that actually fit the characters involved.

If I were a suit at Marvel, I wouldn't be concerned about it being bad; at least if it's bad, it would still generate buzz. At best, all of this is a wash where different people buy the comic for a while until they finish this story arc and then go back to selling the comics to those that liked the old Thor better; at worst, they lose the old readers and fail to get any new ones. I just don't see how it's worth it to Marvel long term. The fact that the writer obviously cares about the story line is right now the only reason I haven't written it off completely, as it's still possible that it could be saved, but for right now, it's very much underwhelming and it's going to take some absolutely amazing writing and story twists to hold people's interest for very long.

Aranna wrote:
In the author's defense he said Thor is a story about transformation, that has been his story from the start so his fans seem a fair bit fickle when they turn on him just because he dared let a woman wield the hammer, especially since other characters than Thor himself have done so and without the fan backlash.

The problem is that his story of Thor has been about transformation, but the story of Thor overall, in both the original myths and the comic book history, hasn't been. Even fans that liked his story up to this point and suddenly turned have good reason to be a bit peeved. At least before, Thor was still Thor. A transformation story is fine, but you can't completely gut the original character concept and not expect a major backlash. I know he claims he hasn't, but really, he has. What was once a story about a tough Norse god of thunder that kicked butt is now a mystery novel and teenage coming of age story mashed together. Now, not only is there a second "Thor" running around complicating things, but the original Thor is essentially the same teenage angst ridden mental case that a great many, if not a majority, of Marvel superheroes already are. All the things that made Thor Thor are largely gone; his original personality is gone; his hammer is gone; his place in Asgard is gone; heck, even his name has been taken over by someone else.

It would have been a perfectly fine story for the alternate universe, but for the main universe, it's going to be a wash at best. All the new interesting bits are going to be matched by the old interesting stuff lost. People who like the angsty, mystery driven story line already have most of the rest of the Marvel universe to read, and people who liked the former kickass god of thunder have completely lost the original reason they had for reading it. The idea isn't bad, but in this case, it's going to take a lot of really, really, really good storytelling to make the effort worth it in the long run. Thor will eventually have to get his hammer and self worth back to make this whole story line something other than a gimmick, at which point, he or the next writer is going to have to figure out what to do with this new "Thor." I don't see it turning out bad, but I do see it turning out to be not nearly as interesting or as well liked as either the writer or Marvel hope it to be.

From what I've seen, I have to agree with the underwhelmed sentiment. It's not bad, but so far at least they haven't shown any reason why they couldn't have done this with a brand new character without messing with the old Thor. From what I've read about what the writer has to say about it, it comes across as "I want to tell my story and don't really care a dang about what the readers want to read." It's not a bad concept, but it could have been written a lot better in a different context in my opinion. Messing with an existing character was completely not necessary and negates most of the interesting aspects the storyline could have provided.

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
However, all the quirks and dare I say it, outright problems which PF has makes it much more interesting to discuss and debate than my current favorite game. Which is great fun to play, but is too well-made to generate many hot-button topics -- within its own fandom, at least.

5E is still new, and the DMG isn't out yet. I suspect that book will end up generating more than it's fair share of hot button issues, most of which are simply on hold right now until it comes out. Also, for many people, it's less that the system is well made and more that it tends to be play or ignore, which is a double edged sword. The fact that PF and 3.5 is easy to debate about actually helps it's survival by keeping it in the conversation; even those that don't play it still frequently talk about it, making it more likely to get heard of by those that might be interested in playing it. 5E could very easily end up like 4E and not be talked about at all outside of fairly limited circles, which is good in limiting problem discussions, but not so good in generating excitement and buzz for the system long term.

5E, for all of it's strengths, is going to be much, much harder for WotC to sustain than PF will be for Paizo, especially with a limited release schedule; without the name brand to help them, WotC wouldn't really have much of a chance. It's a good system, but it's not a system that is going to generate it's own publicity and buzz, and it's not one that on paper is going to readily appeal to players, making it entirely dependent on DMs to sustain support for it. The organized play network, a key factor for both 3rd edition and PF is going to be of limited success with a system that relies so much on DM on the fly judgments.

As much as I really would like to see the system succeed, I just don't see it generating the amount of long term support it will need in a large enough base for it to be a major player going forward, especially if they are going to limit their book production to the least amount possible that won't completely kill it off, which seems to be their strategy right now. It'll hold it's own in the niche market of tabletop games for a while, but even there it will likely fade away sooner rather than later, just like 4E, and it's not going to have any long term impact at all on the wider entertainment market. Unless WotC and Hasbro can pull off a miracle and actually create a movie or a game that will lift the brand out of this niche, I see the brand continuing to be underdeveloped because they keep choosing to largely ignore the one market it has a strong following in.

Nicos wrote:
Well, IMHO, that is like the 20% of the problem. THe other 80% is that magic have little restrictions. "yes golem are inmune to magic, except, they are not".

Magic has plenty of restrictions remaining in the system, both in the system and in the spells themselves. 3rd edition just removed the obvious ones, not just in the magic system, but in the related system of managing wealth. It is a complex, poorly presented system that requires both the DM and the player that wishes to use it to read quite a bit and parse together sentences that really should be by each other and not in separate chapters on opposite ends of the books, but the restrictions are there. Simply cleaning up the presentation of the entire book would make both the restrictions on the magic system and the actually fairly simple rules guiding everything else much easier to find, making it easier to balance the system at the table where time is limited.

Zalman wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
magic being rare and mysterious is fine as a literary concept, but loses its luster quickly when a person is devoting an entire play session to being a wizard and nothing else

See, for me, that's exactly as it should be. It took a rare player that wanted to struggle through to become a powerful wizard ... just like a typical fantasy narrative suggests. It meant that in game, just like in fantasy literature, wizards were rare compared to fighters and thieves. Only the players who were seethingly patient and clever were ultimately rewarded with the terrible power of high-level magic.

Later, players came along and wanted to be wizards without any of the work, and they were gratified, so of course nowadays there's no reason to be anything else. Power with no effort -- that's what lacks all fun for me. Where's the challenge? Frankly, I'm glad to see folks realizing the folly of easy wizardry ... again.

While it can be fun for some people, and fits into novels well enough, it fails miserably in a classic assumed D&D party. Had the assumed party configuration been different, it might have been alright, but making magic both that hard and yet seemingly common at the same time (most parties were assumed to have a mage) didn't work. When you are consistently asking some player to be a magic user and than make it near impossible for that character to be effective for a long time, whether it be at magic or anything else, something is going to break down very quickly. Raistlin in an actual tabletop game would probably never reach the level he did in the novels because both the party and the player would lose interest in that character well before that point; some groups and players might get him that far, but not most. Heck, even in the novels, early on, his only real role was to be a foil for his twin brother.

The problem isn't that players don't want to do any work to use magic; the problem is that the work required must be equal to what they get out of it. This is where pretty much every D&D system has failed. Things are either way too harsh or way to lenient. There is little point in running a character for 10-12 levels only to have him be more than slightly useful at the last two or three and the campaign ends because that's typically where most campaigns end for a wide variety of reasons. It's just as bad as a system where there are no constraints at all. Authors don't have to worry about how boring a particular character would be to actually play exclusively; game designers do. Paizo and PF has actually done quite a bit to make magic users less of a problem, an impressive feat given the chassis they started from. Interestingly enough, the biggest help I've seen has been changing the assumptions on a default party, making the original 4 classes generic roles rather than having to be specific classes in their own right. No other changes to the core system had nearly as much impact; just giving more options beyond no magic or all magic has done more than all of the early restrictions combined.

Zalman wrote:

The second issue is "what is the origin of the market pressures"? As both you and sunshadow21 suggest, it wasn't from complaints about the current system from players that had used it, but rather from new players who approached gaming with a different initial attitude. Of course game designers cater to the prevalent attitude, since attracting new players is key to a successful game publishing business.

New players, raised on different literature, and a different gaming culture, thought "less restrictions would be more fun", and Zeb, et. al. responded with a product that gave the public what it wanted. Reading this thread, it seems that same public is now complaining about the consequences of what they wrought.

Those new players probably aren't always as new as you might think. Many groups would have had to deal with "new" players pretty early on and if those "new" players noticed that clerics tended to be healbots and wizards needed system mastery to be playable at all, as would have been the case in many, many groups, then the groups affected would have had to start adjusting those restrictions pretty early in order to retain players. It's more than reading different literature, it's also the matter of adjusting literary expectations to a table top environment; magic being rare and mysterious is fine as a literary concept, but loses its luster quickly when a person is devoting an entire play session to being a wizard and nothing else. As interesting as Raistlin and Gandalf are to read about, very few players would eagerly embrace playing them in tabletop game; they make far better NPCs than PCs. That would have been just as true early on as it is now. I don't think anyone at first was asking for 3rd edition power levels, but I bet a lot of folks were saying they needed something more than what the initial wizard offered.

I do find it funny that people chose to completely remove the restrictions and are now complaining about the same problem from a different angle, but the removal of the restrictions didn't cause the base problem; it simply highlighted the difficulties in taking expectations from literary works and translating them into an interactive environment.

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Zalman wrote:
Charender wrote:
So what would you say about a level 6 spell like say Scrying can be defeated by a something that isn't even a spell.
Even better! And another good example of how magic acts in a believable fantasy narrative -- that is, it has limitations. And what self-respecting BBEG would spend years creating a lair, and not put a sheet of lead lining in the walls? Of course, if your players read every detail of a spell, and use it to their advantage, that's "good play". If a BBEG does the same thing it's called "DM Fiat". Makes no sense to me.

I do agree with you on this. Way too many players think it's cool when they manipulate the details of the magic system and the individual spells, but get huffy when the DM tries doing exactly the same thing. I also think that far too few DMs actually run spell users as a player would, feeding the viscous cycle.

Zalman wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Most of these limitations were lifted in various house rules because they slowed the game down unfunly (no one used speed factors, for example) or because people thought it would be more fun (item crafting is fun, because you can actually play with all the cool trinkets listed).
That wasn't the way I saw it happen at all. I never once heard a single complaint about the limitations to wizards being unfun, or slowing the game down. I believe that was a social phenomenon that came later, and was perhaps retrofitted into history. Not the way it actually happened, from my observation.

That wasn't what happened with your group perhaps, but other groups clearly had it happen. Even if it didn't happen with the original players, it probably started as soon as the challenge of recruiting new players came up, which would have been fairly early because a lot of those who originally tried didn't bother complaining, they just quit playing what was at the time nothing more than a strange new fad, leaving gaps to fill. When it came time to fill those gaps, you can bet the new blood started asking why the old players stopped playing. At that point, the restrictions would have become a major problem for a lot of groups trying to build a complete party.

Zalman wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Not to mention extremely unsatisfactory to a great many players that wanted to enjoy using magic without being flimsier than a piece of paper.
Yes, that is exactly the phenomenon I'm talking about, and it is a social issue, not a narrative one. The narrative value of magic being difficult and dangerous to use is repeated in almost every fantasy story ever written, from Lord Dunsany to J.K. Rowling.

The problem is that most writers acknowledge that it's usually the implementation of magic that can be difficult or dangerous, not the concept. And even Tolkien included effects that would amount to PF cantrips that both Gandalf and the elves used routinely. Rowling also had Harry and his friends routinely using small spells from the very get go as well. So it's not narratively sound to say that a level 1 wizard can barely get a magic missile off, but that is precisely what usually happened in most games. Also, the social issue very quickly becomes a narrative issue when the player of the wizard is forced to manipulate the rest of the game just to have a chance of getting even a 1st level spell off successfully. At least with PF, a fighter at higher levels can still be effective in the right circumstances. Before that, a low level wizard that didn't seize narrative control was simply dead or doing so little that the character was functionally not there. Personally, I find the view that magic must always be this terrifying and mysterious thing a large part of why D&D will never find any balance on the issue. I much prefer a more scaled approach where common magic is common and understood, but higher level magic is rarer and harder to study and control. Eberron, to this day, is still the best world I've seen created, because it embodies this perfectly; magic as a concept is able to be used in the game, but players don't feel entitled to every high level effect the system provides for.

Zalman wrote:
Of note is that in early editions it was very, very difficult to keep a magic-user alive long enough to gain any real power. This was both good for game-balance and narratively sound.

Not to mention extremely unsatisfactory to a great many players that wanted to enjoy using magic without being flimsier than a piece of paper. So not very narratively sound if you're still losing the interest of a large number of the players at the table, and balance is still iffy at best, with the most likely result in both cases being that magic users finding ways to manipulate the system even further to get anything out of the game. It's unfortunate that the response was to completely swing the pendulum the other way and just accept the all the manipulations required before as a necessary part of the game. In neither case was the system particularly balanced and casters always had the upper hand in controlling narrative power because they always had firm spells and clear powers to feed off of, and known limitations they could learn to work around. To me, all 3rd edition did and what PF does is lay bare the underlying problems in the root system. Nothing more and nothing less. I personally like this because it means I can actually see the problem and fix it before it becomes an issue at the table. Others don't and that's fine, but I will never buy the argument that 3rd edition or PF created the problems; they were always there, even if they weren't always as visible.

Mordo the Spaz - Forum Troll wrote:

Actual problem -- teamwork not required.

First Edition:

Fighter usually kill
Wizard nova when needed
Cleric heal and turn undead

Fighter usually protect Wizard
Wizard protect Fighter and Cleric with nova
Cleric keep others going

Mandatory teamwork! Good teach pimply youth.


past tenth level even sorcerer do all while flying invisibly

No teamwork needed.

Problem not spell list. Problem mages not like Raistlin coughing frail lungs out.

Mandatory teamwork was as much a problem as it was a solution though, the same way that not needing teamwork at all is as much a problem as it is a solution. If I had to pick a happy medium, I would go with late AD&D and design an updated system from that. The concept of the restrictions are still there but there was an awareness in the community that the traditional implementation of most of the rules was starting to show severe weaknesses. I would love to see what Paizo would have done with PF if they had used that as a jumping off point instead of 3.5.

Zalman wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
D&D at its core has always to some degree been about system mastery and revolving around the magic system.

Can't really agree with you there. Yes, it's true to some extent in all versions of AD&D, but not nearly as much as in earlier editions as in later ones, and not true at all in OD&D, where there was hardly any "system" to master at all. D&D, by the way, was clearly created with S&S style stories in mind -- one only needs to look at Appendix N to see as much.

And then, all the things that curbed magic in the early versions of D&D have been eliminated in Pathfinder, 'cause, you know, it's not fair (or fun??) to players if they can't operate without restriction. I'm the opposite -- a game without restrictions on uber-powers is pointless, IM0, in fact, not a "game" at all.

D&D may have been designed as a S&S game, but it didn't stay that way for very long; it had the seeds for what it came to be later firmly, if inadvertently, from the beginning. From what I've seen of the earlier editions, they were so unstable, it was pretty much inevitable that more hard coded rules would be developed, making it harder to use anything by magic to drive story twists and overall plots. 3rd edition did with most of the limits earlier systems had on magic because most people were ignoring them by that time anyway for a wide variety of reasons. I'm not saying that the removal of the restrictions was all good, but it clearly wasn't all bad either; it was closer to being a formal recognition of which rules that players were choosing to use and choosing to ignore than anything else. Trying to act as though you can just plug simply those restrictions back into the game and everything will be solved is dreaming. All you'd be doing is reintroducing the problems that led to them being removed in the first place, and you would still have people complaining about the magic system and it's unfair weight on the system. The only real difference is that different people prefer different solutions; the base problem was there from the very start.

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Zalman wrote:
And here I believe you have more correctly identified the real source of discontent with Pathfinder: it is a game based almost entirely on system mastery, to the point that the story must revolve around it. I don't disagree that this is a major problem (and why I prefer other games); I just don't think it's about magic per se.

The first part isn't quite true. The problem is more than just the magic system, but it's not unique to PF or the 3.x chassis. D&D at its core has always to some degree been about system mastery and revolving around the magic system. They all break down in the same way at some point for the same reasons, most of them involving magic, with only some minor variation in the level it breaks down. Magic has always been at the center of the core setup and always will be; at some point, to keep going, the system requires some kind of magic or technology or similar system, and that aspect can easily take over the rest of the system if not controlled from the start. It's never been something a party could get away with ignoring until level 10 and suddenly find a good solution for it. Most of the stories that people want to tell with PF but can't weren't actually all that good with in earlier D&D editions either if people were running them largely as written in the book. When you're ignoring at least 1/3 of the book, you aren't really telling a story within the system laid out in that book. The only real change is that 3rd edition and PF made it significantly harder to ignore the book, forcing people to actually accept what the system actually was rather than what they wanted it to be.

wraithstrike wrote:
If you could just run the story as it folds in a neutral setting with no special rules, and without GM fiating things then you could say magic did not have an advantage, but you are wanting to say "Well I can ___ to keep magic in its place, so they are equal."

This does have to happen, you are quite correct, but there is a difference of the effect it has based on when this happens. Magic will always have an overbearing presence in the game system as a whole, but it does not have to have an overbearing presence in an actual campaign. If it comes down to magic destroying multiple encounters, than it's too late to contain it, and the DM may as well run with it. If, on the other hand, care is taken to incorporate many perfectly legitimate limitations (WBL, not guaranteeing access to every scroll and magic item in the book, etc.), than it is entirely possible to have magic users in a campaign that don't make the martials look completely useless without a lot of extra work overall by the DM. Trying to fight the reality that the magic system is a core system to PF and D&D is not going to get you anywhere. Nerfing the magic system in an attempt to create balance isn't going to help anyone and will probably piss off a fair number of people. Embracing it for what it is from the very beginning of campaign designing is necessary, but far from the multiheaded beast that some people make it out to be. Dealt with right, it's just one of many concerns that goes into designing a campaign, nothing more and nothing less.

Orfamay Quest wrote:
This would require a lot of reworking, because the classes that get an effective number of skill points (wizard, magus, bard) are also among the more powerful casters. So you'd need to completely re-jigger the skill system. But something like this is roughly how non-weapon proficiencies worked in first edition -- wizards could cast spells but couldn't do much else, while fighters could learn all sorts of other non-combat tricks. Basically, if Hedge Magic were a useful skill somehow restricted to tier 4 or below, that would help quite a bit.

This is actually the one area of the game I would completely change. Change skill point allocation to be based somehow on the attribute that drives each skill and put in skill tricks from 3.5. The thing I tried in one campaign that the players seemed to like was granting a number of skill points per attribute to skills for that attribute. For Con and excess points from Dex or Str, they became action points that could be spent in a number of ways to enhance the character's performance. It worked well in that it increased overall skill points for everyone while enforcing specialization of skills based on attributes. Wizards that dumped everything for Int could have a ton of knowledge skills, but would be severely limited in everything else. Even if a fighter didn't end up with a lot more skills than the default system, they still got action points, allowing them a bit more influence over the outcome of their actions, evening out their larger reliance on the dice for success. For those that wanted a simpler mechanic, but the same effect, averaging physical stats for points for physical skills, and mental stats for mental skills would work as well. Skill tricks, while I haven't had an opportunity to implement them personally yet, would have a similar effect; I really liked them in 3.5 and am working on converting and expanding on them for PF. The result of both of these is reducing the dependence on magic to begin with, making most of the problems there far less likely to develop in the first place.

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