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April 9th, 2008, 04:43
Huh, two mentions of Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord in two newsbits - the world must be about to end or something. Rampant Coyote has raised an excellent topic in a new blog post titled RPG Design: The Fifteen Minute Adventuring Day?. Here's the issue:
One of the complaints which I've heard leveled at Dungeons & Dragons third edition (and 3.5) is the "fifteen minute adventuring day" (among other names I've heard). I hadn't heard of that before third edition, though I suppose it could have been an issue in previous versions. Part of me suspects it came about after MMORPGs became popular. The third edition's emphasis on encounter balance and challenge rating probably exacerbated things, however.

In a nutshell, the problem is this: Many of the players' resources (like magic spells and special powers) are limited to a certain number of uses per day. So they get into a combat or two, blow all their resources, and retreat to rest up, replenish the resources, and fight the next battle or two tomorrow.

This was present in computer RPGs as well. Old-school gamers may recall 1st edition D&D magic-users as one-shot cannons in both pen & paper and computer RPG incarnations, or recall how forays into the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord or into the wine cellar allowed you to only get to the first door before running back to the nearest inn for rest. More recently, Neverwinter Nights addressed this issue by making it trivially easy to rest up at any time - which in practice meant, "after every combat."

Players and designers bring up this problem as something to be addressed by the upcoming 4th edition D&D game, and Paizo's own upgrade to the system, Pathfinder RPG. Except there are some crazies out there who maintain that this isn't a problem at all. And - with some caveats, I'm among the crazies.
What do you think? Do you prefer to manage your firepower or find a more creative approach? For my money, the system in The Broken Hourglass seems a neat approach.
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April 9th, 2008, 04:44
I agree with Rampant Coyote about the "speed bump" thing. Every battle you fight need to have an impact of some sort on your party (or character if the game isn't party-based), otherwise it's just frustrating and pointless.

Back in the old days, like the first Final Fantasy for example, random encounters were not difficult by themselves, but they tend to wear down your party. This way, dungeons were really intimidating, as you always had to make sure you were still capable of handling the monsters you may fight. You often had to explore only a bit of it, then return to town to rest and resupply, then go back, until you finally get what you were looking for (or everything in the dungeon). Going on was always a risk, as you never knew when you could stumble on something nasty like a boss fight. Sure, boss fights were not overly long like today, but just getting there in a reasonable shape could be a challenge in itself.

Now, and this is especially true of console games, random battles can often be won without using any ressources, said ressources are often so plentiful and cheap you had to really work hard to use them all, and there's usually a save point conveniently placed before anything remotely risky, where you can often be healed freely as well. This all contribute to make standard encounters pointless, and thus frustrating just by being there.

I'm not sure I would like a game where every battle were of epic scale, unless they were infrequent (like Shadow of the Colossus, for example). Although, it would encourage players to find ways to avoid them (bribing, diplomacy, sneaking around, etc.), in this case it would be nice.

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April 9th, 2008, 07:50
I agree about "speed bumps" but don't find the current mechanics very satisfying. In NWN and the like, I find myself resting after every hard battle, which is pretty pointless other than restricting the current battle. On the other hand if you can't rest, it makes things strategically more interesting but can lead to mages being dull or just onlookers during many fights.

Low level spells are often useless in mid-higher battles where you probably need the better spells anyway, so it's either fire off Greater Meteor Strike or ping away with a pathetic slingshot and no BAB worth speaking of.

Meanwhile, a fighter has no downtime and no resource use.

I'd rather a different approach, altogether.

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April 9th, 2008, 10:26
I think the system with items limited by uses each day, is horrible, and should be removed from this world. It is one of the reasons I dislike BG and NWN game.

Wizardy have done a much better approach, with having spell points for the different realms of magic, and a power level for each spell, this way even low level spells can be quite useful with the highest power level, and the high level spells can be used with a lower power level…..

The person who made the system in NWN2 must have been drunk, since it is so easy to rest, not only is the game ridiculesly easy, the mages are also insanely powerful, since they can always cast all their high level spells in every battle…. I hope they'll trash this day system forever!
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April 9th, 2008, 11:25
This is one of the reasons why I always thought D&D is a subpar (P&P) RPG system. I am not up to speed on how the system has changed over the years, but the whole idea of a spellcaster having to decide in the morning what spells he may need that day always seemed utterly rediculous to me. With all their own faults I like mana driven systems much better. Throwing in some ingredient needs a la Ultima can be a good thing too. And I like what the witcher did with the potion poisoning - something like that could work for magic too, negative repercussions from drawing too much from the source of power.
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April 9th, 2008, 12:32
Magic is extremely hard to balance properly. Magic tends to either be overpowered or not nearly powerful enough, too restricted or not restricted enough, etc.

To be honest, I can't think of a single system where magic doesn't have serious flaws, either in logic or gameplay. In books it often works out great (mages often have incredible powers and very few limitations), but having horribly overpowered characters in books doesn't have the same effect it does in games.
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April 9th, 2008, 12:55
I played MUDS when I was younger, one of them were based on Robert Jordan, in his books all the "mages" has a big problem, if they hold on to the "source" for too long they can get burned out. It also makes them exhausted to "channel" magic. This worked out great in the MUD, since they had to be careful about casting or they may run out of endurance. It also created a risque factor in battles if you kept channeling for too long, you could risk getting burned out, and be less powerful in the future, or even lose your ability completely.
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April 9th, 2008, 15:07
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Meanwhile, a fighter has no downtime and no resource use.
The fighter's resource is hit points.
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April 9th, 2008, 16:09
It always seems to be a struggle between too easy and too hard. I am pretty much in agreement with Ghan Buri Ghan about the nonsensical 'memorizing' of spells each night—it's always seemed artifical and counter-intuitive to only have part of your magic accessible at any given time. If there have to be constraints I also prefer them to be mana- or endurance driven, requiring intelligent management.

In the end resting is basically a tactic like any other in combat. I think the old style ways are pretty satisfactory; running the risk of being attacked if resting in dangerous areas, acquiring means as you advance to teleport back and forth, etc. As long as these means don't funnel you through the game in a painless progression of 'winning' without thought or challenge I think they work.

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April 9th, 2008, 16:48
These are all very sound arguments except for one little detail: Why is it necessary to FORCE players to abide by strict rules when you can easily CHOOSE to do so instead? Nobody is forcing anyone to rest all the time in games like NWN2. Sure, you CAN but you don't have to if you don't want to.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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April 9th, 2008, 19:34
I found it annoying that I could (and often needed to) so easily in NWN2. I think one of the fundamental problems with the D&D rules is that once you cast a spell, it is gone (of course they somewhat fixed this with the fact that you can somehow memorize multiple copies of the same spell).

I much preferred a system like Ultima where you could cast anything you wanted, so long as you had the regents and the mana.

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April 9th, 2008, 19:57
I think the *real* problem lies somewhere else: It might be too much combat.

If you don't battle, you just don't need to use all of these resources. Which means you don't have to rest either.

And that just fuels my own clichι of (A)D&D as an combat-heavy system which allows no "real" role-playing.


But I must admit that a system is only as good as the game master, so if a game master just wants a dungeon crawl with lots of dangerours encounters it might be so.

The players, however, are the ones responding o this. Can i actually talk to this monster ? Or should I rather kill it for loot ?

Is it greed that makes players rather kill monsters than talk to them ί Or are GMs plain-headed and ignorant that they just don't invent monsters you can talk with ?

All in all, the "problem" is just simple to me: No combat -> no resting necessary. That's all.

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April 9th, 2008, 20:39
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I found it annoying that I could (and often needed to) so easily in NWN2. I think one of the fundamental problems with the D&D rules is that once you cast a spell, it is gone (of course they somewhat fixed this with the fact that you can somehow memorize multiple copies of the same spell).

I much preferred a system like Ultima where you could cast anything you wanted, so long as you had the regents and the mana.
Every system that incorporates "reagents" (a part of alchemy) in magic system is totally absurd. I very much like D&D system, but they crushed it with Sorcerers and the other new magic classes. Remove those suckers and give me my old 2.0 system back.

Resting should be made a risk to take and must be time restricted - The way NWN2 handled it was simply too streamlined - they should have optional "hardcore" rules for that.

BTW: Mana / Astralpunkte systems are no alternative, as you only concentrate on your most powerfull spells and never use the low level ones again.

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April 9th, 2008, 21:20
What was absurd about them? The only one I am familiar with was Ultima, and it seemed very reasonable.

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April 10th, 2008, 01:34
You know, the more this gets discussed here and at Rampant Games, the more it occurs to me that the culprit is the focus on combat and mechanics over storyline.

It can be cool and dramatic to have a party retreat from a raid to regroup and recover a bit. And (ideally) face stiffer resistance in the future by a more prepared enemy. Or face counter-attacks. It's all good.

Performed in the abstract, there's no limit to this. It's simply game mechanics. What matters, really, is the context. I mean, the Viking raiders did this all the time back in the day, right? "Woops, it's February, time to hit Northern England again for some phat lootz and XP!" Okay, maybe they didn't say that EXACTLY, but I'm sure that was what was going through their minds.

But from a computer RPG perspective, we're so used to the game waiting for us that we get irritated if there is any story-based limitations to gaming the rules system to the utmost. What… you didn't rescue the princess on the first try, so the bad guys killed her and fled? I think man (most?) players would be furious about that. Hmm… maybe that's why Depths of Peril hasn't been as much a blockbuster as I feel it deserved.

So maybe that's as much a solution as mechanics changes? Story-based pressure? That, and maybe letting the poor wizards hit a little more often with a crossbow…
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April 10th, 2008, 02:45
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
These are all very sound arguments except for one little detail: Why is it necessary to FORCE players to abide by strict rules when you can easily CHOOSE to do so instead? Nobody is forcing anyone to rest all the time in games like NWN2. Sure, you CAN but you don't have to if you don't want to.
That argument never works. It's a bit like saying "Dungeon Siege is boring because it plays itself" - "But you don't have to let it do that, you can choose to play more interactively". But would anyone seriously do that?

Games are all about rules. No rules - no fun. If there's a way in a game to make life easier, it's usually a no-brainer to make use of it, but by doing so (cheating in extreme cases), fun is ultimately reduced. Hence the restrictions.

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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April 10th, 2008, 15:52
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
You know, the more this gets discussed here and at Rampant Games, the more it occurs to me that the culprit is the focus on combat and mechanics over storyline.
That's exactly what I already said.

I - personally - regard (A)D&D as especially played "combat-centric" and/or the players do so.

Maybe they aren't used to *different* gameplay than that. It has always been so, it will always be so.

I have often the impression as if the European playing-style is relatively different from the american one in that it isn't so much focused on combat.

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April 10th, 2008, 16:59
Originally Posted by Arhu View Post
That argument never works. It's a bit like saying "Dungeon Siege is boring because it plays itself" - "But you don't have to let it do that, you can choose to play more interactively". But would anyone seriously do that?

Games are all about rules. No rules - no fun. If there's a way in a game to make life easier, it's usually a no-brainer to make use of it, but by doing so (cheating in extreme cases), fun is ultimately reduced. Hence the restrictions.
"No rules - no fun" Says who? You? So then we're back to the "I don't like how the works so YOU shouldn't either" line of reasoning. If there is one thing I loathe more than anything in games, it is when some, in my book, needless restriction is forcing me to redo a section over and over again. I HATE timed missions in RTS games because I can no longer play the level anyway I see fit. I HATE escort missions in just about any genre because the sap usually dies by a stray shot while I'm busy fighting wave after wave of opponents. And I HATE starting a boss battle with no buffs, no spells, no health, no whatnot because I wasn't able to prepare/rest up before the fight, resulting in having to not just redo the boss battle but possibly the entire dungeon, map, level, instance or whatever you call it.

I'm all for using the difficulty settings to impose whatever restrictions you may deem necessary to pose a challenge (and yes, I'm aware you could still rest all will in NWN even on hardcore, so that could definitely be subject to change). Just don't force everyone else to share your ideas of what is fun or not by making these restrictions in the core elements of the game.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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April 10th, 2008, 17:13
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
Just don't force everyone else to share your ideas of what is fun or not by making these restrictions in the core elements of the game.
You misunderstood me, or rather, that's not what I meant. What you describe is simply bad game design, no question about it. What I was referring to is the argument "you have the choice or you have the option to not abuse the system, even if you could". If there's an in-game option to make the game easier, you use it. I'm not talking about difficulty sliders, but the very core of game mechanics.

From your NWN example in your earlier post, sure you can choose not to rest if you prefer a challenge, but that's not how it works. The option is there, so you rest. If it's assumed you are rested before every battle, I'd even go as far as saying you have no choice but to rest every time: effectively you are forced to.

"No rules - no fun" Says who? You? So then we're back to the "I don't like how the works so YOU shouldn't either" line of reasoning. If there is one thing I loathe more than anything in games, it is when some, in my book, needless restriction is forcing me to redo a section over and over again.
I agree: Stuff like that sucks. But I don't care what I want or what any other gamer wants from a game. It's the developer's / designer's games and we play by their rules. If we could cheat our way out of every little obstruction they put into our way, games would be boring as hell.

But again: if it's so aggravating and irritating that is just sucks - it's bad game design.

edit: see picture
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"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; April 10th, 2008 at 17:26.
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April 10th, 2008, 17:52
You're right, I did misunderstand. Sorry about that

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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