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November 17th, 2008, 23:05
Jay Barnson writes an interesting article about "mudflation" in D&D (described below), based on some work by one Mike Hensley. Here's the intro to the issue:
It makes sense when you think about it. After all, lets say you have a world where the most powerful magic item in existence is a +3 sword. You introduce a new expansion or some brand new content to make your long-standing players happy (the newer players are still fresh enough to enjoy the old stuff). A lot of these players already have +3 swords. Are they going to be happy with the introduction of a new +2.5 sword? Of course not. They are going to want some new, cooler, more awesome items and powers for their characters!

So the new content includes an uber +4 sword! Very awesome! The players cheer! They upgrade! But now there's a whole bunch of now-useless +3 swords that USED to be the awesome sword of the game. But now they are junk. So the high-level players sell / give these swords to all the lower-level players who are struggling to kill vorpal bunnies with rusty knives. So now the vorpal bunnies are no longer a challenge, which means players are able to level up through all these challenges that were never designed for "twinked" characters very quickly.

Repeat this a few times for a mature world, and you get an economy and a power-level that speed of progress that was unimaginable to the original players.

A few months ago, Mike Hensley discovered that this was not limited to online computer games. Performing a simulation across multiple editions of Dungeons & Dragons, he compared the performance of a first level fighter against a series of goblins in one-on-one fights to see how they'd fare.
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November 17th, 2008, 23:05
I'm not sure, but I think the link might not be right ?

I think it should be this one ?
http://www.rampantgames.com/blog/

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November 18th, 2008, 00:02
Wow. D&D can be like Apple, and refuse to adopt ANYTHING they didn't personally think up *right frigging mouse button*, then they have a problem there.

OR they could just implement level or stat requirements in items like all the other games, and problem solved. I mean, this is an old problem that was pretty much solved a long time ago. Get on board, D&D.
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November 18th, 2008, 00:37
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
OR they could just implement level or stat requirements in items like all the other games, and problem solved. I mean, this is an old problem that was pretty much solved a long time ago. Get on board, D&D.
The article is actually about inflation of class abilities over iterations of the game system (ie a level 1 fighter could be expected to kill x goblins in the 1e, 2x goblins in 2e, 2.5x goblins in 3e etc…) items were only mentioned in the introduction as a comparision.
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November 18th, 2008, 01:32
Right - the causes aren't the same, but it seems as though similar forces have been at work throughout each edition of the dice & paper rules.

Of course, I take the opinion that for the type of game *I* want to play, the first edition actually was a bit underpowered. It was the one I grew up on, but over time it ceased to be my favorite.

The 4E comparison is perhaps the most fuzzy because it is really a different game that doesn't try to maintain any significant level of compatibility of scale, style, or system with previous editions. They hit the reset button to get a clean break, and so even answering, "What's a goblin?" is difficult.

Anybody hear yet if / when the first 4E-compatible CRPGs are supposed to hit the market?
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November 18th, 2008, 02:14
The article is actually about inflation of class abilities over iterations of the game system (ie a level 1 fighter could be expected to kill x goblins in the 1e, 2x goblins in 2e, 2.5x goblins in 3e etc…) items were only mentioned in the introduction as a comparision.
Hey you're right. But I don't see for the life of me what that intro has to do with the subject of the article.

The intro is talking about a progression over time that naturally takes place in any one game world (of this sort), while the goblin experiments measure an increase in initial character power under different editions of D&D's rules. The problem discussed in the intro is common (and logical) to any game that lacks item requirements and item binding; the issue discussed in the rest of the article is simply a function of the evolution of a particular game system, with no applicablility to anything outside D&D, and certainly no parallel in online computer games.

Was a first level character in Meridian 59 less powerful than a first level character nowadays in WAR? There's a question no bothers asking. Because no one cares.

I do think it's an interesting insight into D&D; I just don't think it's a good intro.
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November 18th, 2008, 02:16
Anybody hear yet if / when the first 4E-compatible CRPGs are supposed to hit the market?
I don't know if it's just the way the materials were presented (lots of cool maps with squares and area of effect charts), but reading about 4E definitely set me to jonesing for a CRPG based on it. But who'll do it? Whooooo?
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November 18th, 2008, 16:45
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
I don't know if it's just the way the materials were presented (lots of cool maps with squares and area of effect charts), but reading about 4E definitely set me to jonesing for a CRPG based on it. But who'll do it? Whooooo?
I'm on the other side on this. I started reading the 4th ed. rules and, didn't like it at all. D&D up to 3.5 could be considered a 'simulation'. 4th ed is not, it's just a game with rules like playing Monopoly or Risc. Things don't make any sense and don't even try to make you believe you're in a different world like the previous releases.

Mudflation in D&D doesn't come as new releases of the game, as they're different things. Had the author focused more on each release's expansion books that would be more accurate. A lvl 10 character using the core books is nothing compared to a lvl 10 character that (ab)uses all the different possibilities introduced with he expansion books, obviously, that's what makes people buy the expansion books, to make their characters as powerful as they can officially be. A core book lvl 8 fighter can't kill a fire giant, but a lvl 5 fighter/2 dragon disciple (from expansion book A)/1 bladedancer (expansion book B) with a keen katana (expansion book C) with the ultra-keen feat (from expansion book D) can eat a fire giant for breakfast (made up example but explains what I mean)
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November 18th, 2008, 17:45
D&D a simulation? I don't know the later editions, but with the original D&D the simulation aspect was very weak compared to other systems available. If you liked somewhat realistic simulation in you RPG system, rolemaster or GURPS were far ahead of D&D.
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November 18th, 2008, 19:22
From the very beginning players disagreed about the importance of simulation in D&D. If it was what he had in mind, then Gygax didn't do a very good job, that's for sure. Everyone was coming up with their own "system" for playing the game.

Some members of Caltech's computer club came up with the most "realistic" one around, and some of us used to go play there on Friday nights. But after a while it got old. There was something definitely missing.

There was a guy we all respected, a hobby shop owner who ran the first games any of us ever played, and I asked him what he thought about it. He summed it up in one word: Heroism. He said there needed to be heroism in D&D, that the game wasn't worth playing without it, and that realism was at odds with it. To me that made sense.

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November 21st, 2008, 17:11
I don't think you are wrong. Though I'd probably rename it "drama." I personally prefer "dramatic realism." Basically what happens to true stories after they've gone through a Hollywood rewrite, I guess. Realistic enough to be believable, but with the boring parts excised, the events reordered to flow better, and the tension increased. The decisions made more agonizing, the actions more heroic.

But even so, I don't always make the time bomb count down to 1 second before the players disarm it… Too much realism spoils it. Not enough blows the verisimilitude that makes it fun.

BTW, as a counterpart to some of the criticism that the original Hensley simulation results, I have started running numbers on a kobold encounter over different editions - the original "swarm" monster.
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