Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"It's a Statting Issue"

There's been a lot of discussion over the new rules in 9th Edition NERO, and everyone's throwing in their two cents. One of the terms that I've seen come up a number of times is that something is a "statting issue." I also see a lot of people whining about that answer.

Truth is, pretty much anything that can be handled by plot that doesn't require learning by the general population is a statting issue, and that's a good thing.

In a game that's already filled with a lot of stuff, you want to minimize the amount that the Average Joe needs to know. That's why duplicate effects (like Dominate) are bad, and why system standardization (like many spells using "I call forth") is good. But don't let that fool you. There's still a lot more that can be done with the system, and it's all under the purview of the staff running the game.

Instead of adding things that all players need to know, you instead put the onus on the NPCs. Each NPC should know how things affect it that are apart from the norm. Do you take double damage from a specific element? Are you immune to normal or silver swords? Do you have a damage cap? How many times can you renew skills/spells? These are all effects that the PCs don't really need to understand the mechanics for (even if it helps for them to identify these effects).

You can also add some even stranger effects. Maybe a monster is killed by a specific spell or skill. Maybe flame damage acts as a fear effect. Mix it up.

The point is, there's no reason to publish stuff like that in the rules. The variability that staff could add to the game is immense, and for the most part it doesn't require that every player knows every little effect that's internalized on an NPC. The less crap everyone needs to know, the more accessible the game becomes to new players.

So yes, it's a statting issue.

59 comments:

  1. No surprise to anyone, but I wholeheartedly agree and wish I could have come up with such a concise and clear post about it.

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  2. At least for me, "It's a statting issue", is said ironic... (ya know, when we're not just being silly about it).

    It also, as you say in the podcast, a trust issue.

    I know that a staff person CAN, for example, make an Ice Elemental immune to "Normal" damage, but take double from "Normal Flame" damage. I know an NPC can be taught to do it that way.

    The question is... WILL they? Before, the rule was "Immune to part, Immune to all". It's a rule. PCs knew it, so they could trust that that's how it was going to be. (whether you liked it or not wasn't the point, at least it was consistent).

    Now... who knows what will happen? An no one WILL know, until the game is played and PCs trust can be either renewed or broken by said "statting issues".

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  3. Just as a bit of a semantic quibble, the rule is still (except for carrier immunity) "immune to part, immune to all." Well, more properly, the rule is that if you negate any part of an attack, you negate the whole thing. Statting a monster such that it cannot negate a flame attack doesn't break that, any more than statting a monster with resist magics that don't work on I Call Forth does.

    However, generally speaking, yes, trust is going to be at the front of people's minds with the transition. That's one of the inevitable results of a new rules edition, it shakes thigns up and makes everyone more aware of stuff they might have previously not noticed. Like, for example, whether or not the staff of a game they play actually warrants giving money to or are a bunch of incompetent dumbasses.

    In the end, a lot of peoples baseline assumptions for how NERO *must be* are actually just years of statting that haven't been critically looked at in a long time. So you wind up with a lot of people arguing about how a given rule will screw up the game without taking a moment to realize that the environment the rule operates in is subject to a tremendous amount of local variation and control.

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  4. Indeed.

    I for one, have a fair amount of trust issues. With some chapters more than others.

    Thus, I personally would rather laugh about it with a snappy catch phrase, than actually get mad and cause an issue.

    What I'm worried about, is the "You must be this tall to ride" problem that this "statting issue" might cause.

    For Worst Case Example: Soo... before I only needed a 3rd level ritual to make my short hit an Ice Elemental. "Elemental Aura (Flame)". Now... I need a 2nd and a 3rd... "Magic Aura" then "Elemental Aura (flame)"

    Now... two things with that in a perfect world...
    A.With Transforms permenate, there should be more components to make things with again.
    And B. Staff can stat things, as you say, to take certain things.

    So... it shouldn't be an issue. But it could be. Depends on the Staff, as it were. And one's level of confidence in them.

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  5. "For Worst Case Example: Soo... before I only needed a 3rd level ritual to make my short hit an Ice Elemental. "Elemental Aura (Flame)". Now... I need a 2nd and a 3rd... "Magic Aura" then "Elemental Aura (flame)""

    I don't think I follow. Why would it be different now?

    More generally, is the answer to my above question an issue of rules or an issue of how staff decided to stat ice elementals in the first place? Just as a note, most places I have played, an ice elemental isn't magic to hit. So if that's the reason, then it's a deliberate statting choice the staff made in the first place at the game you play. The rules were changed towards a more consistent and playable model, the stats have to change to fall in line. it can't be the other way around or you could never change anything.

    Btw, not to advocate people quitting games where they don't trust the staff, but... I advocate giving serious consideration to quitting games where you don't trust the staff. ;) Your feet and wallet are the loudest voice you have unless the owner of a game is simply independantly wealthy.

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  6. Ah. That might be the fundamental breakdown in the conversation. Since most elemental I've encountered are Non-Corporal. And thus do not take normal damage.

    As to the advice, I agree. I'd elaborate more, but I'd rather not cause an issue.

    Anyway. I'm done talking now. Carry on.

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  7. I can attest to the fact that Stephen has been on the receiving end of some poor choices by plot teams. I know he uses (and pretty much coined the local use) of "It's a statting issue". However, I think some of the people who are picking up that phrase honestly don't understand what it means and I wanted to nip it in the butt.

    As to immunities and such, I wouldn't make anything "x to hit," and I would only in rare and specific cases make "immune to x". Don't make people less effective - just make using the proper weapon type/element MORE effective and scale the encounter for that. I'm of the belief that good gameplay should be able to get you out of most situations. (Note: Walking into a known killzone is an example of bad gameplay and should be punished)

    Immunity is a remnant of the old "Hardcore" days. I generally ask myself what I would do if it was a video game and I came upon said effect. If the answer is "I'd turn the game off," I won't send that effect out. I just wish more people would subscribe to that thought.

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  8. That an interesting way of thinking about it. I like it. I have a slightly different way to look at an encounter, framed by the question "will everyone in this encounter be able to feel like their participation has been meaningful." So even if something is immune to X, I want to make sure X guy has something meaningful to do.

    However, we're talking edge cases here. 99% of the time I think "magic to Hit" or "Immune to Normal wepaons" or whatever is unnecessary and pointless.

    Bit of trivia for you, we took out some monster stuff in 9th edition that could be replicated by statting but left in Non-corporeal form. Why? Because we idn't want to deal with people yelling at us about making their specters all of a sudden weaker, even though non-corporeal form isn't really an ability at all, it's just a collection of immunities and a running restriction; all of which is accomplishable by statting. It's essentially codified shorthand.

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  9. Mark Henry ~MariusMarch 15, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I don't mind immunities as long as they are logical i.e. Undead immune to Death spell. Throwing a bunch of elementals immune to normal is not straight forward, unless plot has hinted toward that, and there is a good reason for it.

    I have recently joined a staff team, and I'm hoping to be a voice of reason for them. Is X monster going to be fun, is it reasonable, things like that. So, reading these things helps.

    I think a lot of these trust issues comes from inexperience of the staff. This is my 2nd go around as staff, previous was 8 years ago. Looking back I knew very little about balance, and that was part of the problem. I also think people have a misconception of cool and what is fun for the player sometimes.

    Alternatives to increasing creature strength could also be who plays them (OOG skill) and what you pair them with, rather than their defenses. Bill as a sword and board black orc can be scarier than an average NPC playing a death knight. Just as a group of orcs with a healer can be more deadly than that deathknight. In that case, the encounter got harder, and the defenses of the creatures dropped a bunch with proper tactics.

    I think it was Tim that wrote a post about amount of take-downs in a fight and how to balance them, I'd be interested to hear about how you might change that balancing a bit with the 9th edition lesser take-downs.

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  10. Yeah, just to be clear, when I talk about immunities, I'm referring to type immunity, not effect immunity. Effect immunities and resistances are extremely important for balance. I just don't believe that type immunity is.

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  11. And I'll be honest, I find most trust issues I find are with "experienced" staff. As soon as people don't think they have anything to learn or improve on, they tend to jump the shark.

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  12. yeah, I was talking about weapon type immunities too in response to Bill. Sorry to anyone I may have confused if I was unclear.

    It's interesting; I tend to trust new staff more in terms of intentions than old burned out staff, but less in terms of competence. They are more likely to screw up in execution of their planned vision, but their vision is more likely to be intended for my fun. Whereas a lot of experienced staffers can execute their vision well, but their vision is angry and bitter.

    What you want in a staff is a) a mix of old and new working together and b) veterans who still like the game and players.

    To agree via paraphrase, when you stop being willing to learn you start sucking.

    Related to this, btw, is my belief that all staff members *must* PC a game somewhere while staffing or they lose perspective on what PCs enjoy.

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  13. "Bud" Bill. You nip things in the bud, unless you have some sort of ass-biting fetish that I wasn't aware of (which, as I say it, I realize is probably the case).

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  14. Fuck you English majors and your words. Can't edit posts (only delete them), so guess my stupid will reign on forever.

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  15. See, I figured you'd have just copped to the ass-biting fetish.

    Excellent post, by the way. "Flame" acting as "fear"? Brilliant!

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  16. And as a nice tie in to Craftsmans, you can clue in PCs on strange effects like this through characters with appropriate COs.

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  17. Again, and I've said this numerous times in numerous places, this is not a new restriction, it's a new OPTION. Now the writing staff has the option to:

    A) Have their Ice Elementals be immune to Normal AND Normal Flame, or;
    B) Make them immune to Normal BUT take effect from Normal Flame.

    There's no reason to expect any kind of slippery slope, worst case scenario would occur. The writer can chose either option, at their discretion. For the life of me, I can not see the problem.

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  18. I'd like to bring the statting issue to a different rule change and Mickey referenced the problem with it.

    Apparently- "will everyone in this encounter be able to feel like their participation has been meaningful." has now become a rule that means that if someone has played long enough they should never encounter something they cannot defeat thus the ability to instantly turn off magic swords was born.
    The argument is I recall is that sometimes those players cursed with a magic sword would either have to carry another sword or do something else to be useful and that caused them some grief.
    If anything is, THIS is a statting issue. I am willing to bet that most games the player WITH the magic sword is able to participate more than the player without one, but if that proves to not be the case, that is a statting issue.

    I am confused that if the concern is "will everyone in this encounter be able to feel like their participation has been meaningful."
    why we do not simply make all weapons capable of swinging anything? At the least all normal swords should be able to swing magic or normal shouldn't they?
    Or is it only those people that have magic swords that should be able to contribute in a meaningful way? Or is it a statting issue that should have been left out of the rules and if anything changed so that you could NEVER swing normal with a magic weapon instead of waiting a whole one minute.

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  19. Perfect example of someone who doesn't get it.
    Causing anyone to have to carry a second sword to be effective is straight up stupid. In general, magic is not significantly better than normal. It is just able to affect a few more things. Do a lot of plot teams overuse magic to hit? You bet. Do they overuse normal to hit? Yessir.

    What you can do to even the playing field is to institute damage caps and lesser parries to help balance the playing field for others. You don't do it by frustrating existing players into not dealing with a monster.

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  20. Hm, I dunno I would say I get it just fine if I was just looking at the success of a chapter, but what do I know?
    As I said, then make everyone be able to hit everything, or else you are frustrating the larger portion of players WITHOUT magic swords. No one MAKES someone carry an extra sword, they choose to if they feel the need to win every encounter. Just depends on if you want to keep the one older player that cries because they couldn't kill the beast every time or the 20 new players that like to feel like they can participate too.
    Again, in your description, it is in fact a statting issue. No need for a rule change to benefit a small portion of the players.

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  21. Now that we have properly traded insults, lets try this again.
    The choice is not between carrying 2 or 3 swords or not, the choice is between being able to affect every creature every time vs not being able to affect a small number of them and also having the CHOICE to carry another weapon if you do indeed feel the need to affect every creature.

    That is the difference, you are coming from the position that a certain group of players should never not be able to affect a creature and that group just happens to b the people that have probably been playing longer. Something that might go to that trust issue you are discussing.

    Setting up the game through rules so that the elder players are always effective and the younger players are not is not good business nor does it make for a good game.

    A younger player without a magic sword cannot effect certain things that require magic.That gives them motivation to seek a magic sword and/or find other ways to become effective.
    A veteran player has already done that and now knows most things are affected by magic weapons and a small percentage are not. They can either live with that or carry an extra sword.

    There is no reason to make a rule that insures they can always affect everything without inconvenience.

    If they go to a chapter and find that they always have to carry multiple swords to be a part of the game then it is the definition of a stattng issue. A player does not need to feel like they were effective in very fight, it is ok if someone else does too.

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  22. See, this is my biggest problem with your arguments. "I run a chapter therefore I am right all the time." You always get defensive when other people say they know better than you just because they've been playing longer, but then turn right around and claim inherently superior knowledge because you spent money on a chapter. You use words like "whine" and "cry" to describe any complaints they may have. This shows your bias very clearly. If nobody has told you this before then let me be the first: Even chapter owners can be wrong.

    However, I do fully agree with the part of your post that isn't a petty insult. The rules team would like to take out most cases weapon immunity, if not remove it completely. "Magic to hit" in particular is a lame mechanic that's a vestige from 2nd and 3rd edition D&D. Even our roleplaying alma mater, D&D, completely removed this mechanic from 4th edition. It creates a "You Must Be This Tall To Ride" mechanic that forces people to sit out of fights that were otherwise scaled appropriately for them. It excludes players, whether that's by Magic-to-Hit excluding the low levels or Normal-to-Hit excluding the highs. Neither one is good, so we should just remove both altogether.

    That's why high-level players complain about Three Swords Events. It's not because they're game-hogging jerks that sit up all night thinking of ways to ruin events for everyone else. It's because these encounters are scaled and targeted directly at them, and they can't fight back unless they spent more real-world dollars on extra sword props and the extra accessories in order to carry them around. NOBODY is suggesting that any single player should be able to defeat every single NPC that comes out. What we're talking about are the encounters that are aimed directly at us. Needing the legendary Spear of Truth to defeat the Dark Lord of Lies is fine, but requiring players to carry three different sword props just so they can survive a walk to the corner store is unreasonable.

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  23. ^ This exactly, I am not a fan of anything to hit, the auras can be made cool in other ways. Everyone should be able to participate in everything.

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  24. @Mike

    While I agree with your sentiment (see quote below for what I said about immunities), I don't believe that this change is as huge as you make it out to be. Very few things should be magic to hit, and any module that only throws magic to hit at players is poorly written - as it's a statting issue.

    Allowing players to swing normal instead of magic simply let's them bypass the need to carry a second sword. There is a common misconception that low level players become more effective by gimping high level players. You simply shouldn't have to stat that way.

    "As to immunities and such, I wouldn't make anything "x to hit," and I would only in rare and specific cases make "immune to x". Don't make people less effective - just make using the proper weapon type/element MORE effective and scale the encounter for that. I'm of the belief that good gameplay should be able to get you out of most situations. (Note: Walking into a known killzone is an example of bad gameplay and should be punished)"

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  25. And for the record, a properly run encounter targeted to a wide audience should end with everyone feeling effective. Some archtypes might be more effective at particular encounters, but in the end, someone leaving the module not feeling effective (because of skill set, assuming they have reasonable skill setup and player effort) is straight up bad plot.

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  26. See Noah, THIS- "Perfect example of someone who doesn't get it." is insulting. Any replay I made based on THIS- "Perfect example of someone who doesn't get it" is well warranted I think. And if the argument was I do not get it, it seems perfectly logical to state my reasons why I feel like I do get it. I feel I do get it not because I own a chapter, but because I own a successful chapter. In other words players have 7 other places they can choose to go, enough choose me to at least make my argument the equal to others, I do not claim it is superior, that came with the doesn't get it statement. One could say that many of those that have played for a long time think that they are always right and I am simply reacting to that. I did not diminish his, yours or anyone right to make their point, I made my point which was met with- Perfect example of someone who doesn't get it.

    Either way what you, Bill and Tim are pointing out is that classic statement, its a statting issue. I do not even disagree that it should be altered through stating of monsters and there are much better ways to deal with the magic vs non magical swords. But making a rule that clearly benefits only those with the magic swords while not doing anything to change the situation for those without them does not address that and calls into question your statement that it is not about game hogging jerks. I mean really, do you want me to believe that chapters are creating plot lines directed at veteran players and they stat it as normal to hit regularly? Why would you keep gong there? That doesn't even make sense.
    I stat immune to magic sometimes when the mod is directed at newer players, but I can't imagine we have ever hooked high level players and then stated immune to magic.
    If it was just about fixing the problem of over use of immunities there were much better ways to fix that, like telling your chapters to stop doing it.
    Immunities are helpful in town attacks and mods to insure everyone has an opponent. If the 30 swingers can hit everything the 4 swingers got nothing, the 30's will mow through the little stuff and then if the big monster is magic to hit the new player stand with their thumb in their ass. I am betting THAT happens way more than all the monsters are immune to magic and the high level characters are forced to sit out after being hooked.

    You make the Rush Limbaugh argument. Your point would be right if your facts were right.

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  27. "But making a rule that clearly benefits only those with the magic swords while not doing anything to change the situation for those without them does not address that and calls into question your statement that it is not about game hogging jerks."

    I find it kind of sad that, for whatever reason, you equate having a magic sword with being a game hogging jerk and don't allow for a middle ground wher epeople both have magic swords and are responsible players.

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  28. I agree with that Bill, so again, why make the change?
    There will still be immune to normal monsters will there not?
    So the rule change did not solve the problem you keep saying exists. It made it worse.

    I agree, immune to is probably over used. So make sure your plot teams and monster cards are done right and there is no need for that rule. This is half a fix that usually ends up in being twice as bad as the original problem.

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  29. You keep putting the downside of this change into a specific context based on bad statting.

    When taken out of that context, what you're saying is that improving an effect on a item that one has to find, buy, or spend components on is inherently unfair to newer players. Improving gameplay for more experienced players directly detracts from new player experiences?

    If it's so hard to give those people swinging 4s a good time, give your town attack squishies 6 lesser parries and 4 body. Now it takes everyone the same amount of hits to get through.

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  30. Micky no I don't. Again, that statement was copied from another's post in an effort to demonstrate the ridiculousness of that all or nothing argument.
    I said no such thing, I said if your stated concern is the abuse of immune to this rule does not do it and when you then scream to the heavens it isn't about it not being game hogging jerks we start to think thou doest protest too much.

    I do not equate people with magic swords as anything, I HAVE THEM! But making rules that only benefit people with magic swords when you are (and I am assuming) in the crowd that has them and then making the statement it is not about that, well it is what it is.

    You guys are great at picking out one sentence to deflect the argument to perceived insults and try and diminish the other persons views while you are avoiding the basic point.

    If the problem was immune to making magic swords able to swing down at will fixes the LEAST used part of that abuse. Immune to Normal is used MUCH more frequently and that was not addressed, why?

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  31. At no point did I say it was hard to give people swinging 4's something and I was just stumped as to what to do, what I said was that rule change did not fix the issue you continue to tell me was the problem, so why do it?

    If the problem was 100%, the amount of times something that is immune is immune to normal is probably 75%. This rule only fixed the 25% of the time things are immune to magic.

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  32. Things are immune to magic and or normal when you make them immune to magic and or normal....

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  33. Yes. Magic swords are made better in this version. That does not equate with people using normal swords being less effective.

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  34. Not to mention, if only part of a problem is addressed, that's still an improvement.

    But really, at core, magic swords got a bit better. This will only negatively impact a chapter if they can't design, stat, and scale an encounter properly. From a baseline, fresh to the system perspective, it doesn't even make it harder.

    Obviously not everyone agrees. Such is life I suppose.

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  35. On that we agree Mickey. What gets forgotten in these rules debates is from the beginning of this I have been a cheerleader for the rules as a whole, I just have a few areas I like to discuss and or dont like. I the 9th edition.
    As to the statting it seems much of the change I have an issue with creates more work for staff and doesn't solve the problem.

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  36. Actually, this rules edition DID implement a fix to low-level players being able to affect magic-to-hit monsters. We incorporated the newer version of Enchanted Blade from the playtest, so that it works like a Critical Attack instead of applying for only one hit. It's not a perfect fix- that would be to get rid of weapon immunity altogether, which is something we discussed but decided was too big of a

    Shifting the workload from the PCs to the staff was a conscious effort on the part of the writers. A whole day's worth of backstage work for the staff is well worth it if it saves a few minutes of confusion or complication for the players. The less time they need to spend shuffling between swords, the better.

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  37. Sorry, my first paragraph got cut off. It was too big of a change for our original project scope to get rid of weapon immunity altogether. Ultimately, I think we should both get rid of the immunities and also the concept of weapon types, like 4th edition D&D did.

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  38. No you did it. You went to that which shall not be named. I see where things went wrong now. You were looking at a faulty model. There is no 4th edition of D&D there is some abomination that shares little with Dungeons and Dragons and dumbed down the game to that of a video game on paper.
    I would not see NERO follow that path.

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  39. 4th edition D&D is awesome. You just don't get it. :D

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  40. I run 2 different 4th edition D&D games and play in 2 others. We have fun at every session. I guess we're just having fun wrong! ;)

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  41. Well if you owned a NERO chapter you'd know better

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  42. I ran a two year campaign for a variable group of about 8 people, we had a blast.

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  43. hate to say it (only because we've been doing it a lot lately...:), but I agree with Mike on the 4th Edition D&D...it's bad. It lost a lot of ambiance and reads more like a miniatures rule set than an RPG. Maybe I'll give it another read now, but my first read-through (admittedly a while ago) was pretty disappointing. I'm sure many people can and do have fun with it - it is more fast-paced and less RPG, but that's not what I personally like. Conversely, I love the new Cosmology - much improved.

    As for "it's a stating issue," I feel that it IS over-used but not in the way that many other people do. Too often I see the statement used as a crutch for bad rules design when the authors of the book run out of real rationale for their logic. "Why is the disparity of damage effectiveness so problematic in the NERO system? It's a monster stating issue..." is something I have heard repeatedly and makes me want to puke every time I do.

    I agree with most of the comments here that stating is probably the most significant issue in effective encounter resolution, but think that we should approach the design of the rules on their own merit without mixing in monster stating at the core level. The rule set should grow like a tree with a simple, unified foundation of logic and meta-rules, free of exceptions, contradictions, patches, and clutter (i.e. lengthy listings of cures and preventatives accompanying each effect, different core rules [roleplay, duration, hinderances, benefits] for effects based on delivery type, etc.). From this strong trunk foundation we can build branches that flower and grow almost exponentially, thereby providing great variety for experienced players while keeping the learning curve simple for newbies. I see some of that in 9th Edition, but also feel that we can do better - again, no offense to the folks on this list that worked on it.

    Just my late-day, groggy opinion... :-)

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  44. Oh, and by the way, when I paid for my two license agreements I'm pretty sure it said in there something to the effect that I am always right about stuff...I don't have them in front of me, but I'll dig them out when I get home to double check.

    :)

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  45. Heck, most of us who worked on it would agree with that, Mike, we just weren't able to do it for 9th. Too drastic a change for our mandate.

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  46. Mickey,

    Can you explain to me why the designers of 9th found it necessary to remove normal, silver, and magic as damage types and make them "weapon types"? The table on page 89 is ridiculously confusing and absolutely crushes the learning curve for new players...what a mess.

    Thanks in advance!

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  47. Um, first of all, is it really necessary to add in extraneous insulting language when asking a question? You *can* just ask without having to take a potshot at the same time.

    Anyway, we changed the lexicon a little bit to clean up how it all worked and allow a uniform method of constructing a damage call, with two proximate limitations on our process. First, a desire to not require players (as distinct from staff) to have to dramatically change the way they called damage. Second, mandate limitations on how much we could change in the first place.

    So, for an actual player, it's pretty simple. Number + type = damage call. It starts getting a little complex when auras enter the picture, but by that point the player is likely more familiar with the game and it is not terribly complex for them to add an optional third word if they had, say, an ice sword.

    Now, we did remove the explicit hierarchy of normal -> silver -> magic, but we knew staff would probably still have it ingrained in them to stat that way and there are potentially some legitimate story or genre reasons for it at times, so weapon types are distinct so that staff can have their hierarchy if they want. But again, to the regular player, all they really worry about is number + weapon type. If they get an elemental aura, well, they know how to add a third word if they want to. PCs don't have access to effects unless transformed, and at that point you're already restatting them as NPCs and presumably are taking the time to explain how things work.

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  48. I see no inherent problem with the change in language. The tables definitely make having a cheat sheet easier.

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  49. Mickey - I want to apologize...I had spent the last several hours poring over stuff in preparation of our first event using the 9th Edition (yay!) when I came across it. The comment was definitely un-called for and I actually came out here hoping I could squeeze in an apology before you responded. Thanks for the succinct explanation despite my buffoonery (is that a word? ...LOL).

    I do however disagree. The part that I have trouble with isn't when a player reaches the level to use these auras but the heightened learning curve for the player when being struck by them, which can happen at any level. It's hard enough getting people used to the various special exception weapon damage calls we have in the game like Massive and Earth. In general, the more words we cram into calls, the slower processing time will be for players. Experienced players will eventually catch on, but why increase the learning curve?

    Tim - I agree wholeheartedly that the table is awesome! In fact, this type of thing is one of the best features of the new rules. I think the charts and tables are incredible visual aids, and the designers need to be commended for that! Here is how I would make the top portion of the table:


    Examples: 10 Silver, 10 Normal Sleep, 10 Magic, 10 Flame, 10 Ice Disease, etc.
    (Note: I would get rid of Carriers entirely and replace them with Physical Strikes, but think that would likely not fly...)

    I don't understand why we are "fixing" things that are not broken. It is an unnecessary over-complication to me, even after hearing Mickey's explanation. I would say it's duplicitous, but we would have to go to definition 3 or 4 for that to make sense...LOL.

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  50. Ahahahahah...it took out a line because it confused it for markup...let's try again.

    (Damage Amount)(Damage Type)(Effect)
    Examples: 10 Silver, 10 Normal Sleep, 10 Magic, 10 Flame, 10 Ice Disease, etc.
    (Note: I would get rid of Carriers entirely and replace them with Physical Strikes, but think that would likely not fly...)

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  51. First off, thanks for the apology. Happily accepted.

    Anyway, I'm gonna start off my reply with a quoet from some of the advice I wrote to staff for the changeover "There is a temptation to load up damage calls with as many parts as possible and my advice is to fight that temptation most of the time. Most damage calls should just be the number and weapon type. Let the more complex calls be both more rare and in more controlled circumstances..."

    Because, yes, being hit with a four part damage call could confuse a newer player. However, under 8th edition the same thing could happen and it was up to staff to know when, and when not, to use their options sensibly. Furthermore, the only words that matter to a PC are the number and the effect (and yes, carriers are a problem but we couldn't take them out this time around) and "massive" if used. All the rest of the effects are, to a newer player, irrelevant. normal, silver, magic, essence, stone, etc are just noise to a regular PC because they suffer zero altered effect from it. There is, as well, no particular *need* for a life elemental to swing normal essence instead of just normal if player confusion is a concern.

    But there is now one unified set of rules for construction the damage call and the parts that go into it that is, at least in my opinion, clearer than what 8th edition had. It shifted a little bit more burden onto staff in implementation because you now *must* use a weapon type, even if it's just an order elemental, but I really don't see that as being a difficult thing for a staff to handle (in terms of knowing when it is and isn't worth appending a damage type).

    And I really don't think it's *more* confusing to newer players under 9th than it was under 8th.

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  52. The 8th Edition Errata spells it out clearly as I have stated above under the heading Carrier Attacks. I wrote this section and maybe I understand it differently because of that, and I apologize if that is the case, but this clarification first went into play in 2003. I think this has been a non-issue since that time, and at WAR we have played it that way.

    I do find it more confusing to add extra words that are not needed to the calls. I think it's confusing to players when they hear "10 Magic Sleep Poison", but like you, removal of Carrier Attacks was not something I could get passed in 2003. Now to say that there's the possibility of "10 Magic Lightning Sleep Poison" seems silly to me. I do not think it is something we as rules designers should leave to plot teams and NPCs to sort out - they have enough to do.

    I appreciate your defense of it as written Mickey, but there really is no reason for it. It is a step backward, and it's discouraging to me that it has reared its ugly head in the newest edition. I think it's particularly discouraging because I fought so hard for it back in 2003 and won a small victory without having that extra call in there that so many people seemed to want. I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now.

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  53. Sorry if that post came off as cross - I am not angry, just disappointed.

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  54. Not cross at all.

    At the end of the day we simply disagree about the complexity involved. I think it has been made easier to understand and implement with a very precise and clear method of construction and you don't. Next edition I suspect a lot of this will be rendered moot anyway.

    One other place we seem to disagree is on the role staff needs to play in this. The same staff who loads up a damage call with 10 magic lightning sleep poison is a staff doing an *number* of ridiculous and confusing things to torment and confuse their players and the damage call is just the tip of that particular iceberg.

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  55. I don't diagree with you last comment, but why put it out there then? The rules need to set boundaries for acceptable behavior while still facilitating a wide variety of play. The problem here is that, while it's easy to post on this blog that we know how silly that is, the truth of the matter that if it's not intuitive and simple for players, it's not a good design. What it will cause me to do is say "disregard everything written on page 89, and follow this modified chart." I don't want to spend my time cleaning up rules. I would prefer to get it right at the design table and avoid putting it out with a caveat of, "yeah you could do that, but why would you?"

    And as for the next edition of the rules solving these issues - no offense, but we've been waiting for this one for 12+ years. Maybe the next one will come more quickly, maybe not.

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  56. It doesn't offend me, I'm not part of the rules team anymore.

    Though 9th took about a year to write (6 months plus 6 months tweaking) plus a year of random delays when the book left the rules team's hands. Though from the point of view of players, yeah, it's been 12 years or whatever, but I do like to defend at least the timeline of my team while we worked on it.

    Anywhoo, we're basically at the "we disagree" stage. :)

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  57. The turnaround by the writing team was solid, and a lot of what I consider to be wrong is likely explainable by limitations placed on the designers by NERO. I agree that we are at that stage, and also want to thank you for the open and honest discussion.

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