On 12-29-04, Neel wrote:
It's pretty straightforward. The board is divided into a grid, and characters can move so many squares each turn. Hand to hand weapons have a reach (usually 1 or 2 squares), and a character can attack other characters within that radius of him. So if your enemy isn't in reach, and you can't move to him, then you can't attack him. Likewise, spells and archery have bigger ranges, and that constrains whether you can try hitting someone with a spell or not.
Also, there are "attacks of opportunity". If you try to move within someone's reach, or try to do something like cast a spell or shoot an arrow within someone's reach, they get a bonus attack called an attack of opportunity. This is the mechanic that D&D uses to let characters block other characters from passing them.
So most of by-the-book D&D play is figuring out how to use terrain and the positioning of your fighters so that enemies can't slip past them and attack your (physically weak but offensively deadly) wizards and archers, while at the same time ensuring that the enemy can't use maneuver to return the favor.
If you do a good job, then your side gets a lot of attack actions against the enemy, and the enemy only gets a few attacks against the characters best-equipped to survive them. The clever thing, from a game design perspective, is that good tactics requires all the players to work together collaboratively.
Also, most of the time when I played D&D, we dropped maneuver, mainly because we weren't interested in thinking that hard. This had the social side-effect that combat became rarer, because it was really not all that interesting to play out -- it was just an exercise in accounting.
On 12-29-04, ben lehman wrote:
Neel -- your point about tactical depth is well taken, but I think that there is another point here...
Tactical interest requires a reasonable expectation of consistency.
Imagine, for a second, a version of D&D where the DM decides how much damage each hit does. No dice. Nothing. Just the GM saying "huh, yeah, that was a 5 damage shot" or whatever.
Is this tactically interesting? It fulfills your two quantities (I think) but not mine (I think).
P.S. Alternatively, it is a good metaphor for non-structure Task Resolution style systems.
On 12-31-04, inky wrote:
I think that consistency is subsumed in the "there are heuristic strategies that perform better than random." Assuming the GM is being arbitrary in assigning damage or (indistinguishably) the GM's method for assigning damage is completely opaque, there's no way to do better than a random strategy would do. If the GM is only partly opaque -- like, bad hits do 1 hp and any other hit does some seemingly-arbitrary amount from 5-20hp, you've got a mildly tactically-interesting deal where it's better to give up a few bad hits in favor of one good hit.
On 12-31-04, Neel wrote:
Dan got it.
Also, there are other ways to use non-structure task resolution. Since it doesn't say how to decide what happens, one convenient thing to do is to simply let the player decide. Here's a fairly typical script:
Player: "Okay, so the gun is some weir d custom job? I want to see if I can figure out who's killing
On 12-31-04, Neel wrote:
Dan got it.
Also, there are other ways to use non-structure task resolution. Since it doesn't say how to decide what happens, one convenient thing to do is to simply put it in the player's hands, so that he or she can cut to what's important. Here's a fairly typical script:
Player: "Okay, so the gun is some weird custom job? I want to trawl my contacts and see if anyone can identify the style of the handiwork."
Me: "Okay, what skills do you have?"
Player: "Um, I've got Guns, and Info/Underworld."
Me: "They both sound good. Pick whichever, and tell me what happpens."
Player: "All right, I'll use Guns, because it's the higher score, and because I don't want to hang out with criminals right now.
Me: "Okay, let me write that down for future reference. It really is a very busy convention, and you find Jorge is in the main dealer's hall. He's doing good business, and even has a few photos of you with his rifle from your Olympic tryouts for advertising. He's overjoyed to see you, and leaves the dealer's stand with his assistant so that the two of you can head out to some nearby coffee shop.
"He says, 'Is very good to see you! Police work agrees with you, yes! Proud to help such a nice young woman! This gun, the style is unmistakeable -- look at how beautiful it is! Only Karl Munchen could make such a thing! You have seen him? He has not talked for two months, and he is incurable gossip, not like me. Very strange!'"
Player: "What a terrible accent, Neel! I ask Jorge, 'Do you know who he was working for? It's for a case.'"
and so on.
On 1-6-05, anon. wrote:
Sorry, been gone for a bit.
Jonathan: More streamlined and more elegant are better design. A game is better designed than D20 if it's just as much fun, but more streamlined and more elegant. I can't imagine a definition of good design otherwise.
This makes sense to me. Most of the systems out there (Chaosium, anyone) seem to be more complex than d20. In fact, both complaints and complimentary reviews of D&D 3.0 focused on the fact that it was streamlined--again, referring to a lot of games you consider "bad design," I'd guess.
It can also create a 'inner circle' that doesn't let new gamers into the game with grace and ease. (And by 'the game' I do NOT mean the particular gaming *group*, I mean the text as written, and potential new gamers. The fact that you had to 'i.e.' what a word meant in context of the game illustrates my point perfectly.)
(And I am slicing up your meaning horribly, but I don't want to overquote. Everybody, go look at Meg's post!)
I'm actually not so sure about that, on an anecdotal level. I'm involved in two games now, both of which have new (or "I tried role playing, I never liked it, bleah") players, both D&D--where, of course, some people know the rules better than others. In each case, the new person is having a great time--in one case, the player called it the most fun she's had in a long time. Admittedly, this is anecdotal. But I think experiences vary. I know not everyone has the time to learn all the rules, but that'd be true of any game. It only causes a power imbalance if a. only one person (presumably for this argument the GM) knows the rules or b. if you have a bunch of assholes who make it hard for a person to become a functional player. Note that b. does not say "for a new player to know all the rules." I don't feel you have to know how everything works to enjoy the experience. What you do need are people around you who'll help you learn what you need to know and advise you on other things. (Kinda like "gaming mentoring.")
I understand the "not having time to learn all the arcana." But honestly, I don't see that this necessarily implies a more streamlined game in actual play.
Or am I missing the point as usual? ;-)
On 2-7-05, Callan wrote:
[quote]But here's where D&D-style combat sucks, whichever way:
- "I hit him!" "Why?" "To give him a scar to remember me by!"
A ruleset like D&D's has to have a special exceptional rule to cover this case. Also this case: "to knock him down!" also this case: "to disarm him!" also this case: "to keep him busy so my friends can get away!" also this case: "to show him who's boss!" also this case: "to get past him in time to catch the ship!" also this case: "to keep him from catching the ship!" also every other case that doesn't care about hit points.
A well-designed game will have Conflict Resolution rules that can handle everything possible, unexceptionally.[/quote]
Uh, no. This is about splitting resources into sub resources, not about enabling you to have any conflict you wish, to your hearts desire.
Your missing the design goal. They aren't chasing what conflicts you might like to do with dozens of exceptional rules. They are splitting resources, so as to make the resource management even more challenging (step on up, dude!). This isn't about 'Oh, I'd like to give him a scar, because that'd be neat to explore', it's about winning. In that light it should be clear why there are multiple conflict methods to choose from...because when you have to choose, it's more likely you need to apply skill in choosing.
Unified conflict resolution, should you desire this despite trying to split resources up, can easily conflict with this for the very reasons you like a unified system.
On 2-7-05, Vincent wrote:
Callan, excellent analysis. You're clearly right.