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April 22nd, 2008, 07:40
The D&D ruleset is pretty complex — all versions of them. Despite the clearly enormous amount of work that's gone into balancing the various character classes, there are some pretty major exploits in the rules. By "exploit," I mean the possibility to do something the rule designers clearly don't want to do and getting a major advantage because of it.

I thought it would be fun to list some you've come across either in PnP gaming or in the various D&D based cRPG's, in a "platform independent" way.

I'll start:

One of the major balancing factors in D&D is that the best buff and defensive spells are "caster only." The idea being that your beefy fighter has to rely on armor and protective items, but your frail little mage can protect herself with Stoneskins and Spell Mantles.

In 3d Edition D&D, there's an easy way around this:
(1) Take one level of any arcane spellcasting class for your fighter.
(2) Give your wizard the Scribe Scroll feat, and have her scribe scrolls of all her best buffs.
(3) Voilà, your tank can use all the self-buff spells your wizard knows. Enter the Unstoppable Lenin Sex Orchestra!
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April 22nd, 2008, 15:00
LOL !

That's actually what some people favoured as a chracter class combination: A character of any non-magic class, plus just one level as a mage or so, which enables this character to use scrolls.

Currently, I'm doing this with my Cleric in NWN1.

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April 22nd, 2008, 15:09
Except, IIRC, scrolls are "spell completion" or whatever the rule is called, meaning that you need to be of the appropriate spellcaster level to cast them. At least in P&P. Which means 1 level of spellcaster nets you 1st level spells, and if you are scribing them yourself thats a 1st level casting power, pretty much meaningless to a 19th level fighter. The only way around this is Use Magic Device I think. And that is an intentional design feature.

You're better off using bought spell trigger items like wands, you just have to have the spell on your list, ie a 1st level mage can use a 3rd level spell from a wand. But again, this is a purposeful feature. I've got official rulebooks where they tell you about this, they knew what they were designing. Official rules are based off a char having X loot at a level Y. If a portion of your loot is a wizards staff you probably won't have that shiny vorpal sword which is actually far more useful in conjuction with a fighters abilities; those staves are friggin expensive.

But cRPGs generally just get the careful balancing done in P&P horribly mangled, becoming monty hauls.

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April 24th, 2008, 15:44
Some other p&p games might be easier to balance for crpg than ad&d. Runequest for example. It has a more realistic (+advanced imho) and simple % based system instead of level-based one.

But ad&d has become the dominating system so every crpg solo or mm must have ad&d style levelling system. Personally I find the newest ad&d system (3.5?) almost too complex and cumbersome for a crpg.
Last edited by zakhal; April 24th, 2008 at 16:29.
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April 24th, 2008, 16:04
The 3.0 and 3.5 systems are way simpler than AD&D 2nd or 1st edition. I understand v4.0 will be even simpler — basically PnP World of Warcraft.
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April 24th, 2008, 16:10
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The 3.0 and 3.5 systems are way simpler than AD&D 2nd or 1st edition. I understand v4.0 will be even simpler — basically PnP World of Warcraft.
I have only seen them through crpg (note I was talking about crpg not p&p) and I have to say goldbox system is simpler than baldur's gate which is simpler than nwn. NWN was just all-over with the feats and all. Way too many choices.

As far as I see they are adding more and more choices to the ad&d system in each edition. And choices are a form of complexity too because you have to evaluate the relative potential of each choice.

As for the latest 3.5 p&p version:
D&D 3.5 is a complex RPG system. It takes three core rulebooks of approx. 300 pages each to describe the game. That is complex. Most other RPGs get by on a fraction of that page count.

Whether it is too complex or not is a matter of taste. You can overcome that complexity by memorizing rules. I find that no fun.
If 3.5 is simpler than earlier version how can its core rules consist of like 900 pages*? Or did the previous versions have even thicker manuals? Or were the rules more hard to understand?

I guess there could be two kinds of complexity. The amount of rules to remember and the complexity of them. The former is more visual in crpgs because the latter is mostly hidden into the gamecode. And thus we see this "complexity" differently.

*Runequest is definetly light compared to that atleast the old version I have
Last edited by zakhal; April 24th, 2008 at 16:49.
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April 24th, 2008, 17:18
Baldur's Gate is simpler than NWN? I disagree - for example, dualclassing and multiclassing in BG is much less intuitive than in NWN (or, at least it was for me).
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April 24th, 2008, 17:26
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The D&D ruleset is pretty complex — all versions of them. Despite the clearly enormous amount of work that's gone into balancing the various character classes, there are some pretty major exploits in the rules. By "exploit," I mean the possibility to do something the rule designers clearly don't want to do and getting a major advantage because of it.
The fun thing is that, in D&D 4e, your fighters will also get magic-like powers, which means that you don't need any workarounds to make something like that feasible. Doesn't sound funny? Well, these powers are officially called "exploits" .
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April 24th, 2008, 17:56
Originally Posted by VPeric View Post
Baldur's Gate is simpler than NWN? I disagree - for example, dualclassing and multiclassing in BG is much less intuitive than in NWN (or, at least it was for me).
What was so complex about them in BG? I never had much problem. You just chose to dualclass or multiclass and that was it. Press a button, choose a class and press button again? Rest was taken care of automatically.

My main nag with nwn was the feat list I think. It added a whole new layer of complexity into it. I had to study the list for long time before I could actually start the game.
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April 24th, 2008, 18:37
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
My main nag with nwn was the feat list I think. It added a whole new layer of complexity into it. I had to study the list for long time before I could actually start the game.
You do realize that's a good thing, right?

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April 24th, 2008, 18:47
KOTOR did a great job of spelling that all out with the interface, I think. The problem with having to refer to a manual is that they're often wrong (that or games tend to have errors, whichever way you want to look at it).

I love a good manual, but after fan fixes like Baldurdash found —what, about ten million corrections? — I've learned to focus more on the game and how it actually works.

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April 24th, 2008, 19:01
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
You do realize that's a good thing, right?
Perhaps if you enjoy endless min-maxing (I dont). The whole feat thing felt like just one more "made-up" layer that is totally detached from reality. Id prefer somthing more realistic. Good crpgs create a good illusion of reality - instead of breaking it imho.

Considering how poor the main campaign was the whole game felt like an artificial rulesystem that features a computer game.
Last edited by zakhal; April 24th, 2008 at 19:09.
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April 24th, 2008, 19:15
I thought one of the rules on having more than one class was that if you are say a level 1 mage and a level 20 ranger, you still don't get any of the benefits of the level 20 ranger until you are a level 20 mage?

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April 24th, 2008, 19:18
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
But ad&d has become the dominating system so every crpg solo or mm must have ad&d style levelling system. Personally I find the newest ad&d system (3.5?) almost too complex and cumbersome for a crpg.
I agree. I know that 3.5 was supposed to be a huge improvement over 2nd edition rules, but when playing NWN2, I just found there to be WAY to make skills, feats, etc. I was never really sure which I should pick, how to use them or if it really made any difference. Given that I finished the game, I'd say it didn't make that much difference.

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April 24th, 2008, 19:18
D&D 3.5 is simpler than the previous versions because the rules are more logical and internally consistent, making absorbing them simpler. The previous generation was a mess, you could see it was a set of sub systems with little overall coherance, THAC0 being the worst offender. Sometimes you were rolling the dice aiming high, sometimes low, and rarely did a sub system resemble another subsystem. 3+ Was a huge, huge improvement. But 4th ed is looking like P&P MMO. I'll give it a chance, but I'm dubious.

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April 24th, 2008, 19:19
I thought one of the rules on having more than one class was that if you are say a level 1 mage and a level 20 ranger, you still don't get any of the benefits of the level 20 ranger until you are a level 20 mage?
2nd Ed AD&D, human dual classing rules, is what you are thinking of

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April 24th, 2008, 19:22
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Perhaps if you enjoy endless min-maxing (I dont). The whole feat thing felt like just one more "made-up" layer that is totally detached from reality. Id prefer somthing more realistic. Good crpgs create a good illusion of reality - instead of breaking it imho.

Considering how poor the main campaign was the whole game felt like an artificial rulesystem that features a computer game.
I completely agree. For instance, there are specific feats for different weapons. If you want to gage proficiency in a weapon, why not just have a system that takes into account how often you've been using it (I realize that for PnP this would be near impossible, but for a cRPG, pretty easy, and there are always differences in PnP and cRPG implementations of AD&D).

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April 24th, 2008, 19:24
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
2nd Ed AD&D, human dual classing rules, is what you are thinking of
That makes sense. IIRC, only humans could dual class, but non-humans could do multi-class from the outset, right?

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April 24th, 2008, 20:01
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
What was so complex about them in BG? I never had much problem. You just chose to dualclass or multiclass and that was it. Press a button, choose a class and press button again? Rest was taken care of automatically.
I was referring to this, actually:

Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I thought one of the rules on having more than one class was that if you are say a level 1 mage and a level 20 ranger, you still don't get any of the benefits of the level 20 ranger until you are a level 20 mage?
But Naked Ninja brings up another good point - "Sometimes you were rolling the dice aiming high, sometimes low, and rarely did a subsystem resemble another subsystem."

NWN might have added more feats, but if the underlying mechanic is clearer, it's also easier to know what to pick. I will agree on the spells, though - once you get into the epic level, there's just too many of 'em.
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April 24th, 2008, 23:49
BG2 probably seems simpler because AD&D while indeed more complex relied more on the rather obsure rules (I never really got the knacks of it - Thac0's, for example and stuff like that) but the game did that without much output by the player. Just a few button clicks. Whereas all of the "behind the click" stuff would - probably - be a nightmare in an actual tabletop session.

Where as the 3rd and 3.5 Ed simplified it a bit. In the actual CRPGs that used them, the most difficult part (of the rules) are probably feat requirements (as unless the player has a good idea of what there is and, not entirely the rules fault, spell management with a metamagic feats.
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