DDI, anyone actually paying?


4th Edition

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My above posts were in response to another previous poster on this thread who addressed the dreaded subject of 'the core'. Consider making your aversion to this subject known to him/her also, if you're going to grill me for it. If you want to considerately call my attention to the issue, fine, I'll get the point. However, You can leave out the rude and disrespectful diatribe that your initial response to me implied.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

I did leave out the rude and disrespectful diatribe. The original post I drafted was much less forgiving of the reasoning inherent in the "core" argument. Those elements were editted out for fear I would have to enter into a conversation regarding the topic itself.

In any event, I'd like to help you, but I can't. First, I don't particularly care who started the topic or why they brought it up. I don't actually have any authority to investigate, and thus no obligation to do a particularly good job at it. If you want to pass on the notice to whoever you have identified as Case Zero of the "core" argument on this particular thread, have at it. You can copy my text into your own message and tailor it to the offender if you want (my original post, as you may note, wasn't per se directed at you, though I do admit you were the one that inspired it).

Second, if I start posting friendly little notes instead of cutting retorts to you, everyone would start expecting that behavior. And then I'd lose my reputation as an egotistical bastard with a bad attitude. The pony avatar does enough in that regard already. Next, I'd have to start making reasoned and intelligent posts rather than sharp jabs and veiled insults to make my points. From there, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump away from me seeing the light and having some sort of moral revelation, which would pry my soul from the fingers of the demon lord to whom it has been promised. Denied the power of my black and evil soul, said demon lord would have no choice but to declare war on all of humanity, sundering the world and stripping from it all that is pure and clean and good.

So, you see, I'm really the victim here as much as anyone. Or, the hero really, given that I'm all that stands between the world you know and one held under the black clawed fist of absolute evil.


Allen Stewart wrote:
Mr. Betts, my issue with Sebastian is between he and myself. When I have the time, I will put together a response for his remarks. As for yourself, Kindly tell the Psychiatric Nurse on hand to give you your medicine and quit interjecting yourself where your assistance is clearly not needed.

Nice one, now you owe me an apology too. You're really turning out to be an all-star here.

Liberty's Edge

Sebastian wrote:
So, you see, I'm really the victim here as much as anyone. Or, the hero really, given that I'm all that stands between the world you know and one held under the black clawed fist of absolute evil.

Sebastian, you're too modest. You know denizens of the netherworld have nothing on an American attorney ;)


<---Lights black candles and chants dark prayer to Sebastian.


Joins in the chanting

"Oh great Litigious Equine of Doom! Pass by your humble servants and drop not your steaming piles of tort on our heads!"


Sebastian wrote:
...Please let me enjoy my cheerios, urine free.
Allen Stewart wrote:
Why thank you, your exaltedness, for setting me straight...
Scott Betts wrote:
...Furthermore, you need to tone down the sarcastic rhetoric. It's not needed here. You were corrected and refused to acknowledge it, instead turning back on those who corrected you and acting like you're somehow being persecuted. When you're corrected, the polite thing to do is to thank the person who corrected you for setting you straight.

Calling Sebastian's response a 'correction' is being generous. Suggesting that it merits a polite response is passing strange. You're being very selective in your scolding.

No offense, Sebastian -- BTW, get rid of that sissy avatar! :P


How did we not see this thread degenerating like this.


TheNewGuy wrote:
How did we not see this thread degenerating like this.

Didn't we? Perhaps we should just be glad it made it as long as it did :/

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sebastian wrote:
Next, I'd have to start making reasoned and intelligent posts rather than sharp jabs and veiled insults to make my points.

Nah, you're a long way off from that!


Tatterdemalion wrote:


No offense, Sebastian -- BTW, get rid of that sissy avatar! :P

What are you talking about? Decrying the proud stallion, faithful steed of many a mighty warrior as sissy?! How dare you sir! :P


TheNewGuy wrote:
How did we not see this thread degenerating like this.

LOL, another potentially fine thread gone down in flames. Nice.

As I've noted before. I am paying for D&D Insider, a year's worth. Each day I am happier with my decision than the day before. I am finding more nuggets of gold in the Character Builder each time I use it. And the Encounter Builder has creatures from Dungeon in it, which I think is cool. Lilke Thannu, for example, from "The Shadowrift of Umbraforge". I was looking to do a conversion for Expedition to Castle Ravenloft and stumbled upon this fact. I had no idea. Nice little bonus, I thought.

I think D&D Insider is worth the money. I was stridently against it, initially. But, Wizards of the Coast made changed my mind with the Character Builder. Good job.


I am still waiting for the best of Sebastian thread.

Also all this talk of Dead Horses and Sebastian's avatar has me trying to imagine an undead Bella Serra pony.

I hope that someday I get a Character Builder for the level of character I am playing. It sounds sexy.


Clever post Sebastian, I give you full marks.


Callous Jack wrote:
Sebastian wrote:
Next, I'd have to start making reasoned and intelligent posts rather than sharp jabs and veiled insults to make my points.
Nah, you're a long way off from that!

I agree Jack.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I haven't read all the intermediary to get to here, so this is going all the way back to the OP.

I have a deep love of WotC, at least the WotC of old. Same to be said about D&D.

So, yeah, I *did* buy a subscription. Mind you, I am open-minded enough to give things a try, and so, I did. Here's what I found out:

I'm neither reading the materials nor using the tools. In fact, I completely forgot I had the subscription until an email hit my account stating the subscription had been renewed!

So, for me at least, it's a waste of resources, and I will be cancelling my subscription and NOT looking back at all.


TigerDave wrote:
...So, yeah, I *did* buy a subscription... I'm neither reading the materials nor using the tools.

Are you playing 4e?

My opinion is that the stuff WotC is putting out is pretty high quality -- if only we were playing 4e.

Interestingly, I don't think any of the new material generates useable ideas for previous versions -- no cool plots, setting, or characters to steal, and certainly adapting monsters and mechanics is difficult, at best. This is (IMO) a new and annoying phenomenon.

Is anyone else noticing this to be true... or untrue?


Tatterdemalion wrote:
TigerDave wrote:
...So, yeah, I *did* buy a subscription... I'm neither reading the materials nor using the tools.

Are you playing 4e?

My opinion is that the stuff WotC is putting out is pretty high quality -- if only we were playing 4e.

Interestingly, I don't think any of the new material generates useable ideas for previous versions -- no cool plots, setting, or characters to steal, and certainly adapting monsters and mechanics is difficult, at best. This is (IMO) a new and annoying phenomenon.

Is anyone else noticing this to be true... or untrue?

I think that's 100% true. I'm actually doing the reverse from you. I'm playing 4e and I subscribed to DDI in order to get access to 4e mechanics (basically ... prepped, statted, mapped encounters. This cuts down my DM prep time by about 80%). When I need some awesome NPCs, cool setting ideas, or insidious plots, I stop by the game store and pick up any Pathfinder materials I can grab.

If you're not playing 4e, the 4e materials have little to offer. I like that, though, because I can take interesting ideas that I come up with or that I steal from Paizo's books and drop in 4e encounters. It's really a way to "outsource" a lot of the DM prepwork that I don't like to do. At first, I was disappointed that Scales of War had such a weak storyline but now I get it. They're basically giving you the tools to create whatever storyline you want. I'm planning on using about 50%-60% of the encounters from the SoW adventure path in an entirely different setting (Mystara) and with an entirely different storyline (they don't really have one yet, and I doubt they're going to any time soon).


TheNewGuy wrote:
At first, I was disappointed that Scales of War had such a weak storyline but now I get it. They're basically giving you the tools to create whatever storyline you want. I'm planning on using about 50%-60% of the encounters from the SoW adventure path in an entirely different setting (Mystara) and with an entirely different storyline ...

This is me, too. Initially, I despised Scales of War because it was not Age of Worms or Savage Tide. It took me a while to figure out that Scales of War was mine to do what I want with it. We've taken Scales of War and used it to play a very compelling game in Middle-earth. I've used about 90% of the encounters and about 60% of the story line.

In the end, it has turned out to be a blessing that Scales of War is short on story and long on action. The D&D Insider has helped me develop the campaign in ways not possible before 4th Edition - I'm mostly talking about the D&D Compendium and the magazines.


Greyson wrote:
TheNewGuy wrote:
At first, I was disappointed that Scales of War had such a weak storyline but now I get it. They're basically giving you the tools to create whatever storyline you want. I'm planning on using about 50%-60% of the encounters from the SoW adventure path in an entirely different setting (Mystara) and with an entirely different storyline ...

This is me, too. Initially, I despised Scales of War because it was not Age of Worms or Savage Tide. It took me a while to figure out that Scales of War was mine to do what I want with it. We've taken Scales of War and used it to play a very compelling game in Middle-earth. I've used about 90% of the encounters and about 60% of the story line.

In the end, it has turned out to be a blessing that Scales of War is short on story and long on action. The D&D Insider has helped me develop the campaign in ways not possible before 4th Edition - I'm mostly talking about the D&D Compendium and the magazines.

How did the compendium help?

My PCs are just getting close to 4th level, so I think I might drop them into Scales of War soon and follow that track but use my own story.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Interesting stuff regarding Scales of War. I'll have to take another look at it through that lense.

Also, I'd be curious how the compendium helped. I'm a subscriber, but so far I haven't used it all that much.

Liberty's Edge

Greyson wrote:
In the end, it has turned out to be a blessing that Scales of War is short on story and long on action. The D&D Insider has helped me develop the campaign in ways not possible before 4th Edition - I'm mostly talking about the D&D Compendium and the magazines.

I'm curious, being a long time (20+ years) dungeon master, in what ways has it helped you "in ways not possible before 4th edition"? This is a legit question (I'm seriously curious, sell me on DDI).


Greyson wrote:


In the end, it has turned out to be a blessing that Scales of War is short on story and long on action. The D&D Insider has helped me develop the campaign in ways not possible before 4th Edition - I'm mostly talking about the D&D Compendium and the magazines.

Just think, they could have not released it at all and you could have used it to develop your campaign in all sorts of new ways!

I don't understand the view that a lack of detail is a virtue when applied to published adventures.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
TigerDave wrote:
...So, yeah, I *did* buy a subscription... I'm neither reading the materials nor using the tools.

Are you playing 4e?

My opinion is that the stuff WotC is putting out is pretty high quality -- if only we were playing 4e.

Interestingly, I don't think any of the new material generates useable ideas for previous versions -- no cool plots, setting, or characters to steal, and certainly adapting monsters and mechanics is difficult, at best. This is (IMO) a new and annoying phenomenon.

Is anyone else noticing this to be true... or untrue?

I don't think it is 100% absent of useful info for other editions - for example, the Gladiator Arena article had a lot of stats and traps, but also had some good general ideas on running a gladiatorial campaign and such. The article on Sunderheart, the Domain of Dread, could be lifted pretty easily to another edition by converting the stats as needed.

I think the vast majority, definitely, is useful for 4E. I can't imagine it being worthwhile to actually subscribe without playing in at least one 4E game. To be fair, I subscribed to the print magazine for years, with only ever using the smallest handful of articles from it, and one could do the same here - simply enjoy the flavor of the articles, the backgrounds and stories behind the adventures, and so forth. (Sadly, no comics, which were probably the biggest draw of the print magazines for me. ~grin~)

But I suspect those who will get anything out of it, without being able to take advantage of the 4E content, will be few and far between.


doppelganger wrote:

Just think, they could have not released it at all and you could have used it to develop your campaign in all sorts of new ways!

I don't understand the view that a lack of detail is a virtue when applied to published adventures.

Here is the logic, as I understand it:

- Say there is an elaborate Adventure Path written, set in the Dragonlance setting, on the planet Krynn. Every last detail of the adventure path is carefully written, the plot is intricately tied into the background of the setting, and the adventure itself is a smoothly polished device that works perfectly entirely on its own.

- Unfortunately, someone running a campaign in the Forgotten Realms is out of luck. Porting it over is extremely difficult, and even if he did, he would have a difficult time interweaving the adventure path with the other plot in his personal campaign.

- Instead, he would prefer a campaign that prevents an overall story arc with a variety of adventures tying it all together, but ones that he can more easily add into his ongoing game and fill in the specific connections to make them fit.

Now, there are pros and cons to both types of paths, obviously. For myself, I can't really judge one way or the other, since I tend to run primarily off my own content, and can't say what would be more useful if I was looking for something long-term and pre-written to run.

But I think there is an argument that having a useful framework is a benefit, and that it isn't an inherently flawed goal to focus on greater portability and customizability without having to worry about details so intricate as to be almost immutable. It might not be for everyone, but it certainly isn't the same as just telling someone to go out and write their own campaign.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tatterdemalion wrote:

Are you playing 4e?

My opinion is that the stuff WotC is putting out is pretty high quality -- if only we were playing 4e.

I am! I also tend to do my own materials. I think it is a byproduct of not being in print.

Online, DDI is there, 24/7/365. I can access it anywhere.

In print, it's on my desk. I see it. I have to THINK about it, at least on the perceptual level (oh - look - magazine.) If I want to read it, I have to make a conscious decision to take the magazine with me to read it.

Online, DDI is there, 24/7/365. I can access it anywhere I have internet and permissions to route to a games site. However, it is not visual. It is not brought to my attention perceptually at all, and when I think about reading it, it is often relegated to a "I need to read the magazine when I get home tonight," and then every time I've forgotten about it in the process.

I guess if D&D were my ONLY gaming resource then this would be different.

Tatterdemalion wrote:

Interestingly, I don't think any of the new material generates useable ideas for previous versions -- no cool plots, setting, or characters to steal, and certainly adapting monsters and mechanics is difficult, at best. This is (IMO) a new and annoying phenomenon.

Is anyone else noticing this to be true... or untrue?

Until you put it down I don't think I ever thought about it. Now it is as clear as day - good observation!


Matthew Koelbl wrote:
But I think there is an argument that having a useful framework is a benefit, and that it isn't an inherently flawed goal to focus on greater portability and customizability without having to worry about details so intricate as to be almost immutable.

I agree that such an argument exists.

But rich, detailed backdrop and character development has been a defining hallmark of the game's best campaigns for over 30 years. Agreement on this point has been nearly universal. While the current model may have defensible points, history suggests it's the inferior choice. I don't see value in defending such a choice.

The claim that previous campaigns include "details so intricate as to be almost immutable" is a distortion. Few hold such an opinion, and the language discredits past campaigns better than it describes them.

Regards :)

Dark Archive

I guess we finally found the reason why some of love SoW and some hate it.
It has to do with what individual DMs want from an AP.

I think I am good at creating encounters. I was DMing 4th it would be easy to whip up a monster, set the scene and voila!
But I do not have the time to create a long backstory.
So I want an AP like those PF ones.

But some might have their intricate homebrew campaign setting. Those are looking for a skeleton storyline and complling encouters to fill out the gaps. That is SoW.

Creating an AP that is generic and intricate enough to be adapted by both groups is difficult.

However I think that WoC has done those who look for a PF like AP a disservice in not giving enough details to work with.


Tharen the Damned wrote:
But some might have their intricate homebrew campaign setting. Those are looking for a skeleton storyline and complling encouters to fill out the gaps. That is SoW.

I agree with everything you say.

For what it's worth (perhaps not much), my experience is that most DMs that put in the time and effort to create a campaign world also put in the time and effort to make dungeons, campaign plots, and encounters. That's my experience -- I don't know how many DMs are actually like that, nor do I think everyone should be.

WotC's position seems a bit self-contradictory -- it assumes people want to do a lot of the work themselves, but producing a campaign presupposes that they need and/or want someone else to do the work. And I find it passing strange that WotC's new products deliberately omit the elements that best define and distinguish the campaigns gamers have most admired and loved -- for 30 years.


Tharen the Damned wrote:
I think I am good at creating encounters. I was DMing 4th it would be easy to whip up a monster, set the scene and voila!

The thing is, it's not that easy. First of all, one monster does not a 4e encounter make. That's 3rd edition thinking and we only did it in 3rd edition because it was too much math homework to create interesting, balanced encounters.

Secondly, setting the scene is a HUGE part of planning good 4e encounters. I probably spend 5 minutes on monster selection and an hour on "set design" for a good encounter. You need to come up with the effects of interacting with the environment that you create.

I suspect that you've got some talent for creating interesting encounters. In a way, 4e handicaps you because it's easy for everyone to create a basic encounter that's interesting. On the other hand, if you're willing to put in the time I'm sure you could come up with a couple of knockout encounters per week. I envy you.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
WotC's position seems a bit self-contradictory -- it assumes people want to do a lot of the work themselves, but producing a campaign presupposes that they need and/or want someone else to do the work.

I think you might be creating contradictions because you want there to be some.

WotC has been pretty consistent. They came out and said several times before 4e was released that their plan was to produce as much material as possible that could be usable in any standard campaign. They're doing exactly that. The SoW adventure path can, with little modification, be dropped into most campaigns. It's basically a matter of changing some names. Maybe you'll have to change something else, like move a desert adventure to a frostfell adventure because of the geography of your setting, but you're still looking at changing "fire damage" to "cold damage" and being done in 5 minutes. The same goes for the bulk of the printed material released so far.

Also, I'll take a few contradictions if they lead to a better, more fun game. At the end of the day, that's all I'm looking for ... a fun way to spend Thursday afternoons with 7 other really cool guys. Strict, nerdular adherence to internal consistency comes WAAAAY down the priority list in things I'm looking for in my once-a-week hobby.

Tatterdemalion wrote:
And I find it passing strange that WotC's new products deliberately omit the elements that best define and distinguish the campaigns gamers have most admired and loved -- for 30 years.

I expect that verse 9,234,543 of this song will be the same as verse 1.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
And I find it passing strange that WotC's new products deliberately omit the elements that best define and distinguish the campaigns gamers have most admired and loved -- for 30 years.
TheNewGuy wrote:
I expect that verse 9,234,543 of this song will be the same as verse 1.

Until someone can explain this deliberate omission -- yes, it will be.

WotC has evidently decided that encounter design philosophy is the preeminent focus of the game -- in the rules, and in the campaigns released. This is not the lesson that the game's history has taught, important though it may be.

I won't accuse you of disregarding the question if you don't accuse me of caring about the question :)


TigerDave wrote:
Tatterdemalion wrote:

Are you playing 4e?

My opinion is that the stuff WotC is putting out is pretty high quality -- if only we were playing 4e.

I am! I also tend to do my own materials. I think it is a byproduct of not being in print.

Online, DDI is there, 24/7/365. I can access it anywhere.

In print, it's on my desk. I see it. I have to THINK about it, at least on the perceptual level (oh - look - magazine.) If I want to read it, I have to make a conscious decision to take the magazine with me to read it.

Online, DDI is there, 24/7/365. I can access it anywhere I have internet and permissions to route to a games site. However, it is not visual. It is not brought to my attention perceptually at all, and when I think about reading it, it is often relegated to a "I need to read the magazine when I get home tonight," and then every time I've forgotten about it in the process.

I guess if D&D were my ONLY gaming resource then this would be different.

I'm getting this effect as well. Its not that I have anything against 4E - in fact I love it. I got no trouble with the articles I have read, most were very good. I have every intention of reading the material but I only think about it once every 6 weeks. I've looked at maybe a 1/4 of the free content never mind the paid stuff.

Two culprits in this scene I think. One is Paizo, I'm behind in reading Pathfinders too but I always keep chugging away at those - their beside my bed and I do most of my reading before I go to sleep so they eventually get read.

The other big one is I'm a player in 4E. I'm not sure how much I want to pay attention to anything. One of the nice things about being a player (especially after DMing for many years) is that you don't have to work your ass off, you can just sit back and enjoy. The DM has all the power but he also has to do most of the work.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
WotC's position seems a bit self-contradictory -- it assumes people want to do a lot of the work themselves, but producing a campaign presupposes that they need and/or want someone else to do the work.
TheNewGuy wrote:
I think you might be creating contradictions because you want there to be some.

Then you'd be wrong.

I've bought the core rules, and I like a great deal that I see. I want the game to succeed. That doesn't compel me to ignore its shortcomings and omissions. Perhaps you just don't want to see those contradictions.

Regards.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
The other big one is I'm a player in 4E. I'm not sure how much I want to pay attention to anything. One of the nice things about being a player (especially after DMing for many years) is that you don't have to work your ass off, you can just sit back and enjoy. The DM has all the power but he also has to do most of the work.

I envy you so -- I'm our only serious candidate for DMing :/

In fact, if I was a player (and didn't have to do campaign development stuff) I'd be pushing our group to give 4e more of a chance.


Tatterdemalion wrote:

But rich, detailed backdrop and character development has been a defining hallmark of the game's best campaigns for over 30 years. Agreement on this point has been nearly universal. While the current model may have defensible points, history suggests it's the inferior choice. I don't see value in defending such a choice.

The claim that previous campaigns include "details so intricate as to be almost immutable" is a distortion. Few hold such an opinion, and the language discredits past campaigns better than it describes them.

I mentioned before that I'm not 100% familiar with all this stuff, as I rarely use full pre-written adventures, but I'm wondering if there is a disconnect between what is actually being discussed?

You mention previous "campaigns", but I thought the discussion was concerning an "adventure path" - which I think are very different creations. There have been campaign settings, and yes, those are generally detailed and complex things, and to the benefit of everyone. Not sure whether 4E is quite as successful (I wasn't especially interested in the FRCG), but I do think that - either way - it is a seperate discussion from this one entirely.

But with an adventure path, I don't see how you view it as somehow impossible that they want it to be a campaign supplement, rather than a campaign in and of itself.

You say it is a contradiction - that anyone who might need an adventure path would also need a full campaign, and anyone who is putting in the effort to create a full campaign will also put in the effort to create their own adventures, and thus have no need for their adventure path.

But that is simply wrong - we've seen in this very thread people that are doing that. Read Greyson's post, up above.

I mean, look at how circular this argument has been:

1) Greyson explains how he found Scales of War useful for adding an adventure arc that he can customize to his own campaign.

2) Doppelganger is confounded how he could have found this useful, and that anyone could see the format - designed for customizability over detail - as a boon.

3) We explain that some people have their own campaign but want a full-fledged adventure path that they can import and place in their game without needing to completely rewrite it.

4) You say that you find this argument weak, since you can't possibly imagine someone being in this situation. Even though someone's specific example of that was what started the discussion.

I mean, I can get not preferring that style yourself. I can get placing more importance on details and a fully realized setting in which the adventure path is placed.

But claiming it is a contradiction to want to have your own campaign setting, but not create hundreds of encounters on your own, not have to shoulder the full burder of the work for creating an overarching plot and adventures to tie it together? Claiming that those who are interested in such a thing either don't exist, or are going against the 'true' nature of D&D in some fashion?

I really have to disagree.

You seem to have a feeling that my remark about "details so intricate as to be almost immutable" is an attack against older campaign settings or the Paizo adventure path or something similar. It isn't - I'm not saying there is anything bad about that!

What I'm saying is that if I'm running a Ravenloft Campaign, and you just did a good job creating a super-awesome adventure path set in Dragonlance, it is really, really hard for me to make use of it without leaving Ravenloft behind. Oh, it probably isn't impossible - I'm sure a DM could go through the AP, alter it until is was barely recognizable, and emerge with something usable for their own game. But it would take about as much work as creating their own set of adventures from scratch.

The reason for less details, the reason for the "deliberate omission" of a fully realized setting behind the adventure path, is that it isn't designed to be a setting, it is designed to be a [i]series of adventures. Ones that are complete, but portable to any game the GM is running.

Now, you can certainly feel that this is less useful than a fully-realized setting. You can think this is a bad idea, and that the decision to go in this direction is a mistake.

But you are instead claiming that there isn't even any rational at all, and that no one could possible exist who finds this useful (despite direct evidence otherwise in this very thread). And that is both dismissive of other gamers, and, yes, willfully inventing contradictions that aren't actually there.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
Tatterdemalion wrote:
And I find it passing strange that WotC's new products deliberately omit the elements that best define and distinguish the campaigns gamers have most admired and loved -- for 30 years.
TheNewGuy wrote:
I expect that verse 9,234,543 of this song will be the same as verse 1.

Until someone can explain this deliberate omission -- yes, it will be.

WotC has evidently decided that encounter design philosophy is the preeminent focus of the game -- in the rules, and in the campaigns released. This is not the lesson that the game's history has taught, important though it may be.

I won't accuse you of disregarding the question if you don't accuse me of caring about the question :)

Let me explain the deliberate omission. Here's the explanation:

"WotC has evidently decided that encounter design philosophy is the preeminent focus of the game -- in the rules, and in the campaigns released." I don't remember exactly who said that, but they were wise beyond their own knowledge.

It's a deliberate omission because WotC said they would be omitting that going forward. They're basically taking D&D back to basics and making the decision to write something once and make it useful to everyone rather than write something and have it only be useful to Dragonlance fans, for example. It's very much like the "good old days" of D&D except with a more streamlined rule system.

Maybe this makes DDI material useless to you and your group. That's fine. It sounds like you decided a while ago that it was going to be, which is also fine.


This is definitely very indicative of a shift in philosophy for WotC. It's a good one, too, since the tight coupling of products to campaign settings was one of the main reasons TSR sank. This campaign setting/game material integration killed D&D once.

There's a reason why Paizo can get away with it. Two, actually. One is that they're really, really, really good at it. Better than probably anyone before them. The second is that they're an order of magnitude smaller than WotC and have no incentive to grow any faster than they want. They're a private company and accountable only to themselves, and this is what they want to do.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Tatterdemalion wrote:


WotC has evidently decided that encounter design philosophy is the preeminent focus of the game -- in the rules, and in the campaigns released. This is not the lesson that the game's history has taught, important though it may be.

I'm not sure I agree with that statement. The general trend since 3e has been towards rules-heavy books over campaign settings and adventures, at least as far as WotC was concerned. To a certain extent, Paizo is something of an anomoly in 3e - they managed to build a successful business by tapping deeply into the flavor and creating amazingly vivid settings. It's a good product, it's a successful product, but I'd be hard pressed to say it's the only product that can work.

The biggest casualty of the 4e style is that they just aren't that much fun to read (at least for me). As a result, I tend to scan through them for the encounters, see if I like anything, and then steal it. I do the same thing with Paizo products, but it's a little easier with the 4e products because of the delve format and the way it boils all essential information into one-two page encounters. The fact that it's only the essential information does make it bland, but also highly adaptable.

I'm not ready to say that I like the 4e style over Paizo's style. I'm not sure I ever will be able to say that because they're just so different. Paizo provides inspiration, WotC saves me time. I still think WotC could do a better job of what they are doing, but my general preference is for the less elaborate adventure paths (e.g., I prefer RotRL and AoW over ST and CotCT because the former leave a lot more room for me to create and adapt whereas the later are heavily dependent on NPCs and their own story).

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So how many parts to scale of war are out? Is there a clear story arc or does it still seem to be a muddle?


Haven't posted in a LONG while. And, earlier in this thread I said that I wanted to subscribe, but found the content lacking - especially in the "online tool" department.

Well, all that has changed. I got my hands on a copy of the Character Builder Beta (I won't say how) and took it for a test run. What can I say? This tool is AMAZING, and WELL worth the $5 admission when you throw in the Compendium, Magazines, and Bonus Tools.

I subscribed a couple nights ago and locked in the $5 a month price point for a year as this subscription rate won't change for me for a year even if they release more tools and increase the price.

I'm waiting eagerly for the full version of the Character Builder to come out, and if they can do the Visualizer, Dungeon Designer, and Game Table as well as this tool, I think WotC has a goldmine on their hands.

Thanks.

Dark Archive

TheNewGuy wrote:
The thing is, it's not that easy. First of all, one monster does not a 4e encounter make. That's 3rd edition thinking and we only did it in 3rd edition because it was too much math homework to create interesting, balanced encounters.

"Monster" stood for 1+X Monsters with X a number between 0 and many :-)

TheNewGuy wrote:
Secondly, setting the scene is a HUGE part of planning good 4e encounters. I probably spend 5 minutes on monster selection and an hour on "set design" for a good encounter. You need to come up with the effects of interacting with the environment that you create.

I find that esy enough. I always try to envison how Charlie Chan would interact with the environment. If he can come up with a few cool stunts and usages for props (basically all things not nailed down) I am on the right track.

TheNewGuy wrote:
I suspect that you've got some talent for creating interesting encounters. In a way, 4e handicaps you because it's easy for everyone to create a basic encounter that's interesting.

Even though I am still a huge 3.5 fan, I concede that you are right. Basic, plain Vanilla encounters (ala Orc and Pie) are more interesting in 4th edition. More Movement and more interaction between PCs during Combat make it more fun. But this is also due to the novelty of the system. Give it 2-3 years and plain vanilla encounters under new system grow stale because of the "been there done that" syndrome.

TheNewGuy wrote:
On the other hand, if you're willing to put in the time I'm sure you could come up with a couple of knockout encounters per week. I envy you.

For my last campaign I tried to avoid "filler encounters". Instead I designed fewer encounters that were on the upper CR scale for their Level. I tried to make most fights memorable. I used unknown creatures from my Tomes of Horror. I used Class Levels and Templates on known Creatures. And I tried to come up with cool a environment for the encounter -from Ice Caves to Undead Temples.

And of course I used better designer's ideas for my own ends (Monte Cooks "Beyond the Veil" has one of the most memorable evironment+BBEG combinations ever).
All in all I think I succeeded with this strategy.
Of course creating these encounters took a lot of time. And even though I found it time well spent, my wife called me obsessive when I sat until 2am t the computer to finish the setpiece...


TheNewGuy wrote:
It's a deliberate omission because WotC said they would be omitting that going forward. They're basically taking D&D back to basics and making the decision to write something once and make it useful to everyone rather than write something and have it only be useful to Dragonlance fans, for example. It's very much like the "good old days" of D&D except with a more streamlined rule system.

Actually, they didn't say that until an increasingly-vocal element criticized KotS and SoW for it's omissions. At that point WotC explained, for the first time, that such a move was deliberate.

And I'm not suggesting they return to a format tied to specific campaigns. I simply want more detail for NPCs and settings to better facilitate flexibility and roleplaying -- rather than providing a bare framework of skill challenges and tactical encounters.

TheNewGuy wrote:
Maybe this makes DDI material useless to you and your group. That's fine. It sounds like you decided a while ago that it was going to be, which is also fine.

Yes, it does severely limit DDI's value to us.

It does NOT sound like we decided that a while ago, because NO ONE outside of WotC was aware that DDI would exhibit this focus until about a month after SoW was released.

Please stop implying any sort of enthusiasm or rush on my part to reject 4e or DDI. I'm happy to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the game. I'm not happy to accuse one another of unfair bias.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
WotC has evidently decided that encounter design philosophy is the preeminent focus of the game...
Sebastian wrote:
I'm not sure I agree with that statement. The general trend since 3e has been towards rules-heavy books over campaign settings and adventures...

In hindsight, I think you might be right. My claim is probably a bit exaggerated and unfair...

Sebastian wrote:
Paizo provides inspiration, WotC saves me time...

This is a great way of expressing what I miss. 4e is notably (and universally, IMO) lacking in that inspiration, and their campaign/AP products continue the pattern. My problem is that, as a DM, I need the inspiration more than I need the rules.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
TheNewGuy wrote:
It's a deliberate omission because WotC said they would be omitting that going forward. They're basically taking D&D back to basics and making the decision to write something once and make it useful to everyone rather than write something and have it only be useful to Dragonlance fans, for example. It's very much like the "good old days" of D&D except with a more streamlined rule system.
Actually, they didn't say that until an increasingly-vocal element criticized KotS and SoW for it's omissions. At that point WotC explained, for the first time, that such a move was deliberate.

It's my understanding that WotC has been saying this since before they announced 4e. A quick look back over the history of TSR shows that partitioning your market in this industry leads to financial disaster. A look back over the editorials on Wizards.com over the past two years shows instances when they said this. It's been the plan all along and, as people catch up, they get upset because it IS a redirection from past strategies that defines a new strategy that avoids the business pitfalls that both WotC and TSR ran into.

Yeah, the gaming community loses a little something, but at its heart WotC is letting the gaming community do what they do best ... take material and customize it to their game. It's what we've all been doing for 30 years and what we'll hopefully all be doing for the next 30!

I see it as WotC providing the sandbox (the 4e rules system), and the shovels and buckets (monsters, encounters, new rules). They can't come to our houses and play our game for us.

I'm with you in that the inspiration is what drives the game for me. I use Paizo material for that. Paizo is head-and-shoulders above WotC in that respect and always will be. WotC's ability to develop an innovative and fun rule system far outstrips Paizo's. I take the best from both of them.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
Actually, they didn't say that until an increasingly-vocal element criticized KotS and SoW for it's omissions. At that point WotC explained, for the first time, that such a move was deliberate.
TheNewGuy wrote:
It's my understanding that WotC has been saying this since before they announced 4e. A quick look back over the history of TSR shows that partitioning your market in this industry leads to financial disaster. A look back over the editorials on Wizards.com over the past two years shows instances when they said this...

I think you're misunderstanding some of my criticism.

I understand the argument against well-developed campaign worlds and linking the game to them. WotC was very specific in its statements in that regard. It's a decision that I regret them having to make, but I neither resent nor criticize it -- that's just one of those unpleasant business decisions.

They did not say that their products would stop including detailed NPC backstories, or detail about locations not necessarily tied to pre-planned skill challenges or tactical encounter -- not until they were forced to defend the content (or lack thereof) of Scales of War. This was a surprise to many, and criticized by 4e supporters and detractors alike.

I agree 200% about the value of Paizo's material, and it's value as inspiration. What deeply concerns me is that WotC doesn't see any value in providing similar material themselves -- in fact, I've yet to see compelling evidence that they think it's important at all.

The whole thing is very frustrating to me. I love certain parts of the rules (most especially the new magic system). But they've lost interest in elements that are important to me as a DM, and other elements that are important to my group as players (which has greater impact on which version we play).

It's just a lose-lose situation for me, so far. I hope that changes :(


TheNewGuy wrote:
WotC's ability to develop an innovative and fun rule system far outstrips Paizo's.

With respect to Paizo (a gang of creative geniuses, IMO) I agree. 4e is a fantastic ruleset.


Tatterdemalion wrote:
TheNewGuy wrote:
WotC's ability to develop an innovative and fun rule system far outstrips Paizo's.
With respect to Paizo (a gang of creative geniuses, IMO) I agree. 4e is a fantastic ruleset.

That's why playing 4e is, in my opinion, getting the best of both worlds. It's the sleek, streamlined rules of 4e with the inspired creativity of Paizo's stories.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Tatterdemalion wrote:


Please stop implying any sort of enthusiasm or rush on my part to reject 4e or DDI. I'm happy to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the game. I'm not happy to accuse one another of unfair bias.

I just wanted to pop in and say that I agree with this request. Tatterdemalion has consistently shown himself to be interested in and critical of 4e based on its merits and not based on blind unreasoned hatred or bias. I may not always agree with what he says or his reasoning, but I don't for a minute think that his comments are driven by blind emotion or dismissiveness. I wish more people approached 4e like he does - he's one of the few people I've encountered who has not absolutely rejected the game despite harboring the concerns that cause most other people to make such an absolute rejection.

Anyway, been meaning to say that for some time and this seemed like as good of an opportunity as any. Thanks Tatterdemalion for your posts and attitude - they are a significant part of why 4e threads are less flamey and more productive.

One significant exception from the above. Tatterdemalion's rejection of ponies and their inherent awesomeness is the product of some sort of mental defect and should be disregarded entirely.

Liberty's Edge

BBC article on DDI. Interesting read. Awesome Dwarven Forge setup in the video.

I guess DDI would have been perfect for me when I was 13 and had to hide my books like porn between the mattresses. Now that I think of it, the internet would have been pretty cool to have when I was 13...

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