Why do we love or hate certain mechanics?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Just curious about everyone's thoughts on what makes a mechanic work or not.

What makes me crazy are disassociated mechanics, those being the ones that don't make any sense from a character's perspective as opposed to the player's. Things like per day limits often fall into this category. Does a cleric have any explanation why his ability to channel the divine power has seemingly arbitrary limits to how many times he can do it per day? Or how does a barbarian describe his capacity to tap into the power of his inner rage, and how that limit at might seems like an absurdly brief time when looked at from outside the frame of reference of combat rounds? We know why these are the way they are for purposes of things like "balance", but how do our characters make sense of them?

"Thog can only be angry for 36 seconds?"

If anyone is curious, here's an excellent article on the subject I came across a while ago.

The Alexandrian: Dissociated Mechanics – A Brief Primer

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The same reason we love or hate certain people. :)


"Thog can only be angry for 36 seconds?"

Thog heart only so strong
Thog get angry and whores moan
Thog heart hear whores moan, can only stand so much before Thog heart stop

That what man with funny hat tell Thog


Yemeth wrote:

Just curious about everyone's thoughts on what makes a mechanic work or not.

What makes me crazy are disassociated mechanics, those being the ones that don't make any sense from a character's perspective as opposed to the player's. Things like per day limits often fall into this category. Does a cleric have any explanation why his ability to channel the divine power has seemingly arbitrary limits to how many times he can do it per day? Or how does a barbarian describe his capacity to tap into the power of his inner rage, and how that limit at might seems like an absurdly brief time when looked at from outside the frame of reference of combat rounds? We know why these are the way they are for purposes of things like "balance", but how do our characters make sense of them?

"Thog can only be angry for 36 seconds?"

If anyone is curious, here's an excellent article on the subject I came across a while ago.

The Alexandrian: Dissociated Mechanics – A Brief Primer

You can always look at rage as focused energy or effort into hurting the enemy, sort of like an adrenaline rush instead of anger. Fluff can always be changed so something makes sense.

The core flavor text is :(Ex): A barbarian can call upon inner reserves of strength and ferocity, granting her additional combat prowess. "

It does not mention being angry.


Spellstrike. Convoluted wording that hops and feels like trying to keep up with David copperfields sleight of hand.


Things with too many fiddly bits, 3.5 grapple (bad) vs. pathfinder grapple (good)

The current problems with spell-strike and synthesist archetype being another issue.

I have no problem giving a limit for why a supernatural or spell-like ability works because its Magic, and the rules of magic are arbitrary and mysterious (and they should be, otherwise its science!). The problem is when its one that is extraordinary, but there is always the idea that you exhaust your own personal resources, an Olympic level weightlifter cannot perform all day long.


Hiya.

Only two, really, for me. (1) pretty much anything dealing with "5' step" and (2) pretty much anything dealing with "AoO". And, seeing as those two are joined at the hip for pretty much *everything*, well, lets just say combat is painful to deal with. I suppose that's why we pretty much had to just outright ignore both of those when they refer to "absolutes" (re: "if X leaves 5' of Y, then AoO"). In our game, every situation is looked at as a unique one and the rules used as guidelines for the likely outcome.

^_^

Paul L. Ming

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Rite Publishing wrote:
Things with too many fiddly bits, 3.5 grapple (bad) vs. pathfinder grapple (good)

Funny, but I would actually have that the other way around - PF seems more fiddly to me what with having to keep track of who is the Grappler and Grapplee for example. The CMB / CMD idea is good in principal but flawed (IMHO) in practise. See the following example...

Adam is Medium sized, has BAB of +1, Dex of 16 (+3), Strength of 12 (+1) and is wearing Studded Leather armour (+3 AC).
Blaze is Medium sized, has a BAB of +1, Dex of 12 (+1), Strength of 14 (+2), 1 rank in Escape Artist and a feat that gives +2 to Escape Artist (Stealthy in PF, Agile in 3.5).

If Adam with an AC of 16 (+3 Dex, wearing Studded Leather +3 AC) has managed to Pin Blaze what is Adam's effective AC?

Spoiler:
AC would be 11; the grappled condition imposes a -2 to AC due to the -4 Dexterity penalty, and when pinning an opponent the pinner also loses his Dexterity bonus to AC, so a further effective -3 to AC. And yes these do stack due to the way that an ability penalty works in Pathfinder; it does not actually reduce your Ability score, but rather imposes a negative modifier to all related stats, e.g. AC. So you lose your Dex Bonus to Ac and take a -2 AC, the same penalties for being blinded!
3.5 answer: AC would be 13 (i.e. loses dex bonus) against people other than the Blaze. Against Blaze AC remains at 16. This doesn't change from if Adam was just grappling with Blaze.

If Adam with a CMD of 15 (+1 BAB, +3 Dex, +1 Strength) is just grappling Blaze who has CMB of +3 (+1 BAB, +2 Str) and an Escape Artist modifier of +4 (1 rank +2 from Feat and +1 Dex) what would Blaze roll to escape being grappled by Adam and what would be the DC?

Spoiler:
Blaze would be best rolling +3 (her CMB) against a DC of 13 (Adam's CMD of 15 less 2 for the -4 Dexterity penalty due to grappling). Blaze could use Escape Artist but that would be at only +2 (+4 from skill rank, feat and Dex, less 2 for the -4 Dexterity penalty due to grappling).
3.5 answer: Blaze would be better off using Escape Artist of +4 (taking a Standard Action) versus Adam's Grapple check using a Grapple bonus of +2 (+1 BAB, +1 Str)

What would Blaze roll to escape if she was instead pinned?

Spoiler:
If pinned Blaze would be best rolling +4 (her Escape Artist modifier) against a DC of 10 (Adam's CMD of 15, less 2 for the -4 Dexterity penalty due to grappling, and also -3 due to losing dex bonus to AC, which in turn is applied to CMD). Blaze no longer has the Grappled condition (instead having the Pinned condition) and so does not suffer the -4 Dexterity penalty (I assume the errata text of the Pinned condition means Dex bonus is lost for AC purposes, not for everything like Skills, but again - vagueness!), and as such her Escape Artist skill check is unaffected.
3.5 answer: Blaze would be better off using Escape Artist of +4 (taking a Standard Action) versus Adam's Grapple check using a Grapple bonus of +2 (+1 BAB, +1 Str). So no change from the situation above, however in 3.5 if Blaze breaks the Pin she is still left grappling, and must succeed again to break free completely.

Are Blaze's chances to escape better or worse if she has been pinned?

Spoiler:
As Pathfinder changed things so that escaping whilst Pinned means you escape completely (whereas in 3.5 you escape the Pin but are then still grappling) the chance to escape from the grapple is 55% (+3 vs DC of 13, needing a 10 or more to succeed). The chance to escape whilst pinned is 75% (+4 vs DC of 10, needing a 6 or more to succeed).

So yes, its often as easy or easier to escape whilst Pinned than when just Grappled!

3.5 answer: The chances to escape from a Grapple, and to escape from a Pin to just being grappled are the same, combined with the fact that to escape completely a pinned character has to succeed twice, it is never easier to escape whilst Pinned than when just Grappled - which makes sense

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Well I guess I killed that thread dead! :( Sorry Yemeth

Shadow Lodge

Rant warning...

The article seems based on a flawed altruism:

Quote:


No (athletic) player, after making an amazing one-handed catch, thinks to themselves, “Wow! I won’t be able to do that again until the next game!” Nor do they think to themselves, “I better not try to catch this ball one-handed, because if I do I won’t be able to make any more one-handed catches today.”

In truth athletes have a strong tendency to believe in luck and many believe that this luck has a budget (Google it). It is in no way unreasonable for an athlete to avoid using one-handed catches except where he has no choice.

Justin tends to speak in absolutes, like "When you are using dissociated mechanics you are not roleplaying."

Of course this means that every D&D player is not roleplaying, because what could possibly be more disassociated than hit points? And which version of D&D has hit points? All of them...

This puts the following statement in a strange light: "Once we’ve accepted that you need to immediately house rule the One-Handed Catch ability, we’ve accepted that the game designers gave us a busted rule that needs to be fixed before it can be used."

one could argue that because hit points are disassociated, they need to be house ruled and fixed.

In truth the abstract and completely unrealistic nature of hit points is an intrinsic design choice. It allows for a resource meta-mechanic that is one of the very underpinnings of the game. I'd have to argue that without hitpoints that it simply isn't D&D.

And I reject out of hand that D&D cannot be classified as roleplaying.

Dark Archive

I actually prefer the new barbarian rage 'rounds per day' instead of 'rages per day' mechanic.

Channel energy, on the other hand, still uses the old paradigm, of being able to blow your level's worth of healing, X times per day, instead of being able to blow 15 dice of healing, in whatever the hell amounts you want to, making it more like the old barbarians rage, in which you turned on your rage, and even if the combat was over by round 2, you'd just used up all 5 rounds of your single use of rage that day.

But the whole mechanic is tied into how D&D has worked from the beginning, thanks to Vancian magic. A wizard can't decide to throw only as much fireball as he needs, and save the rest of the damage dice for later. He throws the fireball, and the fireball is gone. He might have more than one, but they also are indivisible and 'all-or-nothing,' like 3.X bardic music or barbarian rage.

GURPS magic tends to be more 'I can use X dice of damage' (limited by fatigue costs and / or magery levels), than 'I can cast this spell X number of times per day, and I can't cast it for less power to get more uses, or alpha strike it to deliver my entire day's wad in one shot.'

A small part of me thinks that it might be good to have various use mechanics (rounds / day, uses / day) all on the same page.

And then I realize that I already own that game. It's called 4th edition, and I didn't really like it.

Maybe different classes having different ways of doing things, and not all 'being on the same page' or being 'balanced' with each other so that they are all different explanations for the exact same mechanical effects, is a good thing, and means that there will always be classes that I don't like (or 'get,' or want to play), but there will also always be classes that I *do* love. Something for everyone.

If the various classes get too consistent in their mechanics, it might be awesome for the player who loves the mechanic chosen as a baseline, but kind of suck for anyone who *liked* Vancian spell-casting, or a situation DPS (like sneak attack) or whatever.


This allows people to who have different tastes in what they want to play the game and have a group. If someone doesn't really like playing vancian casters they can play another a fighter. If somoene likes options that can be repeated a lot but still want to play a caster can be a witch. Which allows mroe groups to form and stay together instead of getting bored with bad mechanics and having the group fall apart.


mcbobbo wrote:

Rant warning...

In truth athletes have a strong tendency to believe in luck and many believe that this luck has a budget (Google it). It is in no way unreasonable for an athlete to avoid using one-handed catches except where he has no choice.

You've missed the actual complaint here. The problem isn't that the athlete would avoid one handed catches unless he has no choice, it's that the athlete can't make that choice a second time. If it indeed is supposed to represent luck, how well it works should be built into the die rolls. Otherwise the character is make a choice to affect when their luck kicks in. (If I could do that I'd save it for playing the lottery :P) There's no need for a daily limit on them, because then the character is supposed to make a choice based on information there's no way he could have, ie: "I can't make that kind of catch again today because I used that ability once, but I can tomorrow"

mcbobbo wrote:


Justin tends to speak in absolutes, like "When you are using dissociated mechanics you are not roleplaying."

Which is meant to be read as "In the MOMENT you are using a dissociated mechanic you are not roleplaying"

mcbobbo wrote:


Of course this means that every D&D player is not roleplaying, because what could possibly be more disassociated than hit points? And which version of D&D has hit points? All of them...

Hit points aren't dissociated at all. They're abstracted, sure, and one might say badly at that, but they are associated. Character gets hurt, the amount is recorded as hit point damage. The character know he's injured. The numbers are so we, the players, can make decisions for our character based on how injured they are the same way the character would. How hurt a character is IS information they should have.

Shadow Lodge

PathosZero wrote:


Hit points aren't dissociated at all. They're abstracted, sure, and one might say badly at that, but they are associated. Character gets hurt, the amount is recorded as hit point damage. The character know he's injured. The numbers are so we, the players, can make decisions for our character based on how injured they are the same way the character would. How hurt a character is IS information they should have.

I simply can't parse your argument here. Let's take temporary hit points (e.g. while raging) as an example. What flesh and blood wounds does the character associate those damage points to? And how to they dissappear?

Why, also are 3 hps of damage a lot more serious at 1st level than at 20th? If they are clearly associated with damage the character has first hand knowledge of, then the system is clearly broken.

If, on the other hand the character suffers no measurable damage whatsoever except for the last point (as is the way the core rules treat hps) then it makes sense again. But as a disassociated mechanic. "Damage that might have been done." If it represents real damage, where's the in game effect?


mcbobbo wrote:


I simply can't parse your argument here. Let's take temporary hit points (e.g. while raging) as an example. What flesh and blood wounds does the character associate those damage points to? And how to they dissappear?

In the particular case of Rage added HP, the don't represent actual health, but rather the ability to ignore damage due to fury. Which also explains why they disappear when the rage ends.

mcbobbo wrote:


Why, also are 3 hps of damage a lot more serious at 1st level than at 20th? If they are clearly associated with damage the character has first hand knowledge of, then the system is clearly broken.

This is an abstraction. 1 HP =/= 1 pint of blood lost, but rather 10% of your HP = 1 pint of blood loss (Or nervous system damage or percentage of body burnt, etc, etc) You can make the argument that the abstraction is poor (and I'd likely agree with you) but there still is a direct association with what percent of hit points are lost to how damaged my character is supposed to be. The gain is supposed to represent how much my character has learned to roll with blows, fend off spells, etc.

mcbobbo wrote:


If, on the other hand the character suffers no measurable damage whatsoever except for the last point (as is the way the core rules treat hps) then it makes sense again. But as a disassociated mechanic. "Damage that might have been done." If it represents real damage, where's the in game effect?

That's not a problem with HP being dissociated, but rather a rule that likely should be present not being so. I'll buy that the trinary nature of Able To Fight - Unconscious/Dying - Dead is dissociated, and certainly agree there should be incremental penalties to actions as one becomes more injured, but it does not then follow that the HP themselves are dissociated as a result.

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