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Author Topic: What is your opinion of Cantrips?  (Read 3176 times)

Jaeger

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #45 on: January 14, 2021, 02:30:04 PM »
You can make a Fighter who has an AC, hit points, and damage equal to a dragon, but most people don't REALLY think that's the right level of balance.

That is how D&D tends to balance things with the HP inflation by level.

I think it is a bad option, and has always caused a scaling issue in every edition of D&D.

But the D&D base is too wedded to the Zero to Hero play paradigm for it to change.



...
Take a fighter (any edition) and a troll (any edition) and you'll see that adding more damage is probably not going to give the fighter anything resembling a fighting chance.  Unfortunately, D&D (and clones) don't typically give fighters tactical options like impaling a troll on a boar spear and holding them at bay.  Ultimately, there's a disconnect between the fiction and the game mechanics - fighters fight with intelligent using terrain, tools and tactics against monsters who are stronger, tougher and have bigger weapons.

IMHO that has always been a knock against most D&D systems. The lack of viable basic tactical moves in the combat system that anyone can do. 5e always seemed to boil down to people doing the most optimal attack from their character sheet that they could.

It wouldn't be that hard at all to implement, but I think hit point inflation is the main reason most options would be useless in actual play.
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Steven Mitchell

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #46 on: January 14, 2021, 02:42:27 PM »
That is how D&D tends to balance things with the HP inflation by level.

I think it is a bad option, and has always caused a scaling issue in every edition of D&D.

But the D&D base is too wedded to the Zero to Hero play paradigm for it to change.

...

IMHO that has always been a knock against most D&D systems. The lack of viable basic tactical moves in the combat system that anyone can do. 5e always seemed to boil down to people doing the most optimal attack from their character sheet that they could.

It wouldn't be that hard at all to implement, but I think hit point inflation is the main reason most options would be useless in actual play.

I do not have a firm grasp on the details of the distinction I'm about to make, but here goes a stab:  I think the inflated hit points is a key part of what makes D&D.  To a certain extent it is thus necessary.  That also cuts out some tactical and other options.  However, I also think there are degrees of hit point inflation such scaling it back would help considerably.

It's really a kind of diminishing returns.  N amount of hit point inflation gives you the bulk of the D&D feel along with a list of some positive and negative aspects to that.  When you go to N+10, you may pick up a few additional positive things with the new negatives, but mostly what you get is more negatives.  Also, the positives that gets picked up as N increases are not nearly as critical as the ones you got earlier.

BronzeDragon

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #47 on: January 14, 2021, 03:33:03 PM »
But the D&D base is too wedded to the Zero to Hero play paradigm for it to change.

The current D&D base is wedded to the Superhero to Godlike Being paradigm.
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Two Crows

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2021, 05:00:47 PM »
HP inflation wasn't really any problem in the earlier editions of D&D.

Your average 10th level Magic-User had a whopping 23 HP. 

The 10th level Cleric had 42 HP, and the Fighter 61 HP (presuming a +1/lvl from a CON of 15+).

Most campaigns took a LONG time to reach 10th level.


Also, classes advanced at different rates.  At equal XP, the Fighter would generally be a level or so higher.

In general, counting these things when one-on-one, Magic-User's crap AC, Fighters multiple attacks/round, and casting times impact on initiative, spell disruption if hit ... it was basically this:  If the Fighter makes his Saving Throw/gets into melee, the Magic User is dead.  If the Fighter fails his Saving Throw, Magic-User wins.

More or less.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 05:23:05 PM by Two Crows »
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deadDMwalking

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2021, 05:20:11 PM »
For myself personally, I don't have a problem with high level characters being able to survive a direct blast of fire from a dragon's mouth.  In cinema, the hero would leap aside or take cover in a barrel of water, but D&D doesn't offer 'cinematic escapes'.  If you have to make a dodge roll and the moment you fail, you're dead (game over), that's not good design either.  So in my mind, D&D characters generally use Action Hero logic - getting shot once or twice or a bunch doesn't matter, as long as you're not shot in a VULNERABLE place.  In real life, even a shot to the arm or shoulder can be deadly, but we're used to suspending disbelief in Die Hard, so I'm fine with doing it in the game, too. 

So in movies, the hero parries and dodges every thrust against him and every thrust of his sword fells an opponent.  In D&D, every attack against the hero does a small amount of damage, and if he's outnumbered eventually he'll fall.  Death by a thousand cuts.  Hit points are a useful abstraction to support the fiction - for our game we do track two types of damage - one that is plentiful, easy to heal, and represents all those 'near misses', and one that is small, you take penalties if you lose ANY, and if you run out, you die. So if you shoot someone for 1d10+5 points of damage, it comes off the first category and doesn't REALLY count as a hit; if you roll a critical or they're out of the first category of hit points, they take a wound and might die.
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Two Crows

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #50 on: January 14, 2021, 05:34:45 PM »
You know, that is another reason why some people love the OSR.

It wasn't action-movie in genre, rather closer to horror film or war biopic.


Also, discussing this has reminded me how powerful magic was pre-3e.

Take the stock Fireball:  a 5th level MU was going to average a damage roll of 17 HP BUT it was going to hit everything in a 40'(?) diameter.  Even if the target made their Save (and Saves Vs. Magic were really hard), they were going to take 8 HP ... which meant instant death for a large room of 20 orcs, no other action needed.

So on an average damage roll, with the targets making that ~20% chance to Save, they just inflicted 160 HP with a single spell.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 05:36:50 PM by Two Crows »
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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #51 on: January 14, 2021, 05:49:33 PM »
That is how D&D tends to balance things with the HP inflation by level.

I think it is a bad option, and has always caused a scaling issue in every edition of D&D.

But the D&D base is too wedded to the Zero to Hero play paradigm for it to change.

I always like how it was done in Arduin Grimoire, you got HP based on your CON and then a bonus based on your class and a smaller bonus as you leveled up.  It made starting characters much more survivable.
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Two Crows

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #52 on: January 14, 2021, 05:56:06 PM »
GURPS went with basing it off your Health.
You could take advantages and whatnot, but it really did not inflate.


HackMaster just gave a 20(?) HP bonus at 1st level, regardless of Class.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 05:59:14 PM by Two Crows »
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Ghostmaker

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #53 on: January 15, 2021, 08:32:41 AM »

IMHO that has always been a knock against most D&D systems. The lack of viable basic tactical moves in the combat system that anyone can do. 5e always seemed to boil down to people doing the most optimal attack from their character sheet that they could.

It wouldn't be that hard at all to implement, but I think hit point inflation is the main reason most options would be useless in actual play.
Heck, that's been one of the fighter's biggest problems since 3E. The feat system was a good idea, but they buried combat maneuvers in them when those should have been innate to the fighter class.

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #54 on: January 15, 2021, 06:41:08 PM »
Quote
You know, that is another reason why some people love the OSR.

It wasn't action-movie in genre, rather closer to horror film or war biopic.

That is compelling notion overall, but I think many elements in D&D was always bit too abstract like HP to get proper feeling.
I'd prefer for OSR like game something like Warhammer, with large tables of possible wounds and their results, some stress and peril counters and so on - like from Darkest Dungeon, and magic that is quite dark and risky - and you can fuck yourself if you use too much of it.

Quote
Heck, that's been one of the fighter's biggest problems since 3E. The feat system was a good idea, but they buried combat maneuvers in them when those should have been innate to the fighter class.

TBH I'd make basic maneuvres avaliable for anyone with fighter getting bonus. But then my barbarian at 7 level is very good grappler without any feats, and turned into afflicted weretiger nowadays he can snatch invisible levitating spellcasters from the air by massive jumps. So it can be done.
Talented Fighter for Pathfinder I think by 3pp Rogue Games was neat as it just take all archetypes, all fighter feats, all special options and make a level table when you could cherry pick them

deadDMwalking

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #55 on: January 15, 2021, 07:21:21 PM »
, and magic that is quite dark and risky - and you can fuck yourself if you use too much of it.

I don't believe you.  I mean, I believe that you want to believe that using magic is dangerous, but in reality, you want it to only be a mild inconvenience.  If your character fails to cast magic missile and instead summons Orcus leading an army of undead-demons, that would be 'dark and risky' but it would also end the campaign.  A lot of the fun of D&D comes from thinking that bad things could happen, but it usually isn't actually fun when it does happen. 

In a novel or a movie, the heroes win in the end.  In D&D there is no author to ensure the right outcome is achieved, but the GM is trying to set up a scenario that is difficult but winnable - get the balance right and it's fun - you need to believe that failure was always possible, but if that's what usually happens, I doubt you'd be pulling up to the table week after week. 

Players and their characters have to make the story happen, and for that to have meaning failure has to be possible but it doesn't have to be probable.  The fact is, low probability events happen all the time - if you do double Nat 20 = instant kill, we'll, odds are good that a PC will bit it over the course of 10 encounters with 5 or more enemies lasting 3-4 rounds - approaching 50%.  Knowing it could happen does make combat feel dangerous, but having your 20th level character taken out by a 1st level scullery maid throwing a frying pan is the antithesis of heroic escapist fantasy.
When I say objectively, I mean 'subjectively'.  When I say literally, I mean 'figuratively'.  
And when I say that you are a horse's ass, I mean that the objective truth is that you are a literal horse's ass.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

HappyDaze

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #56 on: January 15, 2021, 08:41:05 PM »
, and magic that is quite dark and risky - and you can fuck yourself if you use too much of it.

I don't believe you.  I mean, I believe that you want to believe that using magic is dangerous, but in reality, you want it to only be a mild inconvenience.  If your character fails to cast magic missile and instead summons Orcus leading an army of undead-demons, that would be 'dark and risky' but it would also end the campaign.  A lot of the fun of D&D comes from thinking that bad things could happen, but it usually isn't actually fun when it does happen. 

In a novel or a movie, the heroes win in the end.  In D&D there is no author to ensure the right outcome is achieved, but the GM is trying to set up a scenario that is difficult but winnable - get the balance right and it's fun - you need to believe that failure was always possible, but if that's what usually happens, I doubt you'd be pulling up to the table week after week. 

Players and their characters have to make the story happen, and for that to have meaning failure has to be possible but it doesn't have to be probable.  The fact is, low probability events happen all the time - if you do double Nat 20 = instant kill, we'll, odds are good that a PC will bit it over the course of 10 encounters with 5 or more enemies lasting 3-4 rounds - approaching 50%.  Knowing it could happen does make combat feel dangerous, but having your 20th level character taken out by a 1st level scullery maid throwing a frying pan is the antithesis of heroic escapist fantasy.
Are you familiar with WFRP? It's fairly popular, and it features both high chances of character failure (including death and permanent maiming) along with a magic system that can have some horrendous miscast results. It's not really for those that only want "mild inconvenience" from their failures.

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #57 on: January 15, 2021, 08:50:26 PM »
Quote
I don't believe you.  I mean, I believe that you want to believe that using magic is dangerous, but in reality, you want it to only be a mild inconvenience.  If your character fails to cast magic missile and instead summons Orcus leading an army of undead-demons, that would be 'dark and risky' but it would also end the campaign.  A lot of the fun of D&D comes from thinking that bad things could happen, but it usually isn't actually fun when it does happen.

But in D&D it's not mildly incovinient - it's totally relatable unless you purposefuly point spell in a wrong place :P
How I see things - it's like you have d100(0) table of Minor Mispells, with various effects from purely cosmetic, to somehow annoying - and then if you roll over dunno 93 you get to another table, and so on - and in table 4 you have catastrophic events and so on, and of course there are some Corrupting effects so it's chance one per million to summon Orcus as W1, but more mishaps happen, the risk of big failures is bigger. As in Warhammer it's balancing on the edge - chance to kill yourself right away are slim, but slowly and slowly getting in more problems, that's how it goes.

Quote
In a novel or a movie, the heroes win in the end.  In D&D there is no author to ensure the right outcome is achieved, but the GM is trying to set up a scenario that is difficult but winnable - get the balance right and it's fun - you need to believe that failure was always possible, but if that's what usually happens, I doubt you'd be pulling up to the table week after week.

Quote
Knowing it could happen does make combat feel dangerous, but having your 20th level character taken out by a 1st level scullery maid throwing a frying pan is the antithesis of heroic escapist fantasy.

Dude, I was answering to guy talking about why OSR is popular - and how OSR is not heroic escapist fantasy like later D&D's but more horror/war movie escapism and you loose a lot of PC characters, it's dangerous. Look I also play more heroic usually (because due to my group I play Pathfinder/D&D 3,5 - but I totally get why high letality game is fun where you make five PC's up front to not waste time later, because they will be WASTED, and I really as we go up and up start to dislike this abstract HP bags aspect of mechanics.


Quote
So in movies, the hero parries and dodges every thrust against him and every thrust of his sword fells an opponent.  In D&D, every attack against the hero does a small amount of damage, and if he's outnumbered eventually he'll fall.  Death by a thousand cuts.  Hit points are a useful abstraction to support the fiction - for our game we do track two types of damage - one that is plentiful, easy to heal, and represents all those 'near misses', and one that is small, you take penalties if you lose ANY, and if you run out, you die. So if you shoot someone for 1d10+5 points of damage, it comes off the first category and doesn't REALLY count as a hit; if you roll a critical or they're out of the first category of hit points, they take a wound and might die.

The problem is to extent how HP is trying to be both abstract and real indicator of characters help - depending on various aspect of mechanics.
So I'd rather see how with each level you are harder to hit - lot of active defences, and AC reduced to DR (still very important with right balance) and no HP inflation.
High level character should be hard to hit, but each hit happening should be painful, in optimal design.

But we've got what we've got.

Quote
Are you familiar with WFRP? It's fairly popular, and it features both high chances of character failure (including death and permanent maiming) along with a magic system that can have some horrendous miscast results. It's not really for those that only want "mild inconvenience" from their failures.

Yes. Though it also varies between editions - for instance in 1 edition you can up your Endurance and Hit Points in a way that makes plate armour knight softer than you - so it's not always as letal as it seems. But yeah that what I was pointing to.

I ended long campaign in WHF 1e - as a wizard - it was 1 e so unfortunately no miscasts yet, just mana points management - still it was quite deadly for some time, until wonkiness of system made us into superheroes ;)
But in first few adventures my wizard apprentice was twice almost butchered and beared very nasty scars, and once a piece of shrapnel in back put him in recovery for weeks. So this letality was very tangible - one bad shot and our leading knight very tough guys almost bled out of leg artery - with only save or die chance won by our surgeon.

jhkim

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #58 on: January 15, 2021, 11:16:40 PM »
, and magic that is quite dark and risky - and you can fuck yourself if you use too much of it.

I don't believe you.  I mean, I believe that you want to believe that using magic is dangerous, but in reality, you want it to only be a mild inconvenience.  If your character fails to cast magic missile and instead summons Orcus leading an army of undead-demons, that would be 'dark and risky' but it would also end the campaign.  A lot of the fun of D&D comes from thinking that bad things could happen, but it usually isn't actually fun when it does happen.

Some people genuinely do want magic to be dark and risky - but yeah, it would look very different from traditional D&D. For example, I've been playing in a weekly Call of Cthulhu campaign for most of a year, and just yesterday was the first time that a PC cast a spell. Overwhelmingly, spells seemed like things that we didn't want - like creating a zombie by torturing someone to death.


Players and their characters have to make the story happen, and for that to have meaning failure has to be possible but it doesn't have to be probable.  The fact is, low probability events happen all the time - if you do double Nat 20 = instant kill, we'll, odds are good that a PC will bit it over the course of 10 encounters with 5 or more enemies lasting 3-4 rounds - approaching 50%.  Knowing it could happen does make combat feel dangerous, but having your 20th level character taken out by a 1st level scullery maid throwing a frying pan is the antithesis of heroic escapist fantasy.

Agreed, but not everyone plays for heroic escapist fantasy. Notably, last session I also got my PC killed after over 30 sessions of play. He died as we tried to assault a cave with a bunch of cultists. I tried to throw some dynamite, and rolled a 00. The dynamite landed in the middle of our group, and I jumped on it and died to save the group. Everyone agreed that it was a great death, but... I mean, I blew myself up.

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Re: What is your opinion of Cantrips?
« Reply #59 on: January 16, 2021, 12:02:55 AM »
The Cantriips in D&D 5E would function well enough to be leveled spells in a lower magic setting.

Eldritch Blast could be extremely powerful in some settings.
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