You favorite tabletop RPGs and why

Ajidica

High Quality Person
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
21,822
See, none of what you're describing is Dexterity to me, it's technique. Some of that is covered by proficiencies - a Wizard with a 16 Dexterity still can't use a longsword or wear armor in combat, because he doesn't know how; even with a 16 Dex, he'd be a clutz. Some of that could also be attributable to Feats or Maneuvers.
Then what does dex cover, if not body mechanics?
 

EgonSpengler

Deity
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
9,638
Then what does dex cover, if not body mechanics?
It does cover body mechanics, but it covers natural, innate body mechanics. Your DEX score is your body mechanics in anything you're untrained and inexperienced in. If you want to find out a pro boxer's DEX score, have her try playing soccer/football, or line dancing, or throwing darts. Anything she's learning for the first time. That's her DEX score. It'll probably be higher than most people's, but it doesn't have to be.

In D&D 5th ed. the "Proficiency Score" covers technique, but it's far too weak to be considered realistic, imho. Well, either it's really weak, or a "pro" level of skill in a discipline that requires a lot of speed, precision, agility, etc is a Class Level of 13-17. irl, once you get to a "pro" level in a sport, a martial art, dance, gymnastics, shooting billiards, throwing darts in a pub, doing magic tricks, or anything else like that, you're well beyond the native capability of the most "naturally dextrous" person in the world, sans training or experience. If an 18 Dexterity confers a +4 bonus to anything you've never trained that requires agility, then a college-level gymnast or a blackbelt in jiujitsu has to have a Proficiency Bonus of at least +5, which you get at 13th level (and, obviously, a Proficiency in gymnastics or jiu-jitsu). At 17th level, you're 50% better at a Dex-based skill in which you have a Proficiency, even if you're otherwise average (+6 Proficiency Bonus).

EDIT: 50% better than someone who has an 18 DEX but is untrained, I meant to say. Forgot to finish the sentence.

I'm not even sure a Class Character Level of 20 (+6 Proficiency Bonus) is high enough to reflect the real elite players in real-world sports, or the world's top dancers or stage magicians. In pro combat sports, for example, a "black belt" equivalent is the floor for participation at the highest level. The most mediocre pro boxer has a "black belt" in boxing. The 2nd-string players for Premiere League football clubs have a "black belt" in football/soccer. A UFC fighter who goes 0-4 has a black belt in some martial art discipline. At that level, technique honed by 15 years of dedicated practice and training is the minimum requirement for entry, and those people will absolutely demolish the most naturally-agile person in the world, who lacks training in their sport or art. The superstars in those sports and arts are, obviously, much better than that. In 5th ed. you can get Feats and Maneuvers to further separate trained people from untrained people. In previous editions, you could get things like Weapon Specializations.

To reflect dominance in a pro sport, someone like... *Googles top midfielders*... Kevin de Bruyne must be 30th level or something (+8 Proficiency Bonus).

D&D of course isn't realistic and it doesn't want to be.
 
Last edited:

EgonSpengler

Deity
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
9,638
Getting real deep into the weeds here, but I was thinking that declaring that a "professional level" performer with a score of 10-11 in the relevant ability is "50% better" than a novice performer with an 18 in the relevant ability might even be underestimating the pro.

Let's say a task has a target number of 16 on a d20 roll. That's a 25% chance of success... for a novice with a score of 10 in the relevant ability (no Proficiency Bonus; no ability bonus). If the novice has an 18 in the relevant ability, her chances for success become 40%. And she's still a novice, she's just gifted. For the pro with average talent to have a 60% chance of success on the same roll as the gifted novice, she'd need a Proficiency Bonus of +8, not +6 (if your total bonus is +6, your chances of hitting a 16 on a d20 is 50-50; you need to roll a 10).

This only applies to skill checks that aren't contested: A gymnast doing a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam. What are the chances of an untrained, not particularly talented, gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? Almost zero. What are the chances of an Oympic-level gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? It's probably a lot higher than just 60%. Giving an untrained, untalented novice a 5% chance might be too high, and giving the Olympian a 95% chance might be selling her short, but we're only rolling a d20 here. We have to set the difficulty at 20, and say that the Olympian has a +18 total bonus (so if her DEX is 18, she must be getting +14 from somewhere else). If we wanted to say that the untrained, untalented novice simply cannot do it all, we have to set the difficulty at 21 (or more) and then increase the Olympian's total bonus accordingly. Maybe she's got a +19 (to roll a 21). In this scenario, the immensely-talented person (18 DEX) who's never taken a gymnastics class in her life has a 15% 20% chance to hit a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam on her first try. That might be too high in real life, but okay, we're talking about fantasy heroes here.
 
Last edited:

AmazonQueen

Virago
Moderator
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
8,478
Location
Sailing the Homeward Ocean
Getting real deep into the weeds here, but I was thinking that declaring that a "professional level" performer with a score of 10-11 in the relevant ability is "50% better" than a novice performer with an 18 in the relevant ability might even be underestimating the pro.

Let's say a task has a target number of 16 on a d20 roll. That's a 25% chance of success... for a novice with a score of 10 in the relevant ability (no Proficiency Bonus; no ability bonus). If the novice has an 18 in the relevant ability, her chances for success become 40%. And she's still a novice, she's just gifted. For the pro with average talent to have a 60% chance of success on the same roll as the gifted novice, she'd need a Proficiency Bonus of +8, not +6 (if your total bonus is +6, your chances of hitting a 16 on a d20 is 50-50; you need to roll a 10).

This only applies to skill checks that aren't contested: A gymnast doing a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam. What are the chances of an untrained, not particularly talented, gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? Almost zero. What are the chances of an Oympic-level gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? It's probably a lot higher than just 60%. Giving an untrained, untalented novice a 5% chance might be too high, and giving the Olympian a 95% chance might be selling her short, but we're only rolling a d20 here. We have to set the difficulty at 20, and say that the Olympian has a +18 total bonus (so if her DEX is 18, she must be getting +14 from somewhere else). If we wanted to say that the untrained, untalented novice simply cannot do it all, we have to set the difficulty at 21 (or more) and then increase the Olympian's total bonus accordingly. Maybe she's got a +19 (to roll a 21). In this scenario, the immensely-talented person (18 DEX) who's never taken a gymnastics class in her life has a 15% 20% chance to hit a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam on her first try. That might be too high in real life, but okay, we're talking about fantasy heroes here.

1 solution to this is to assume that a person with a certain level of competency doesn't have to roll for everything.
An example of this in Runequest is riding skill. A novice has to roll to get a horse to do anything, an apprentice can handle basic riding but has to roll to get a horse to remain calm in battle or attempt a jump etc.

edit: Another option is to require proficiency to even attempt some tasks. Just because you have +4 Dance due to your Dex doesn't mean you could substitute for a prima ballerina.
 
Last edited:

EgonSpengler

Deity
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
9,638
1 solution to this is to assume that a person with a certain level of competency doesn't have to roll for everything.
An example of this in Runequest is riding skill. A novice has to roll to get a horse to do anything, an apprentice can handle basic riding but has to roll to get a horse to remain calm in battle or attempt a jump etc.

edit: Another option is to require proficiency to even attempt some tasks. Just because you have +4 Dance due to your Dex doesn't mean you could substitute for a prima ballerina.
Yes to both. There was a system in a version of D&D where, if a roll of 10 was sufficient to succeed, you could just "take" a roll of 10, without rolling. If you weren't being threatened, and you weren't under time pressure, and if the consequence of failing simply meant a lack of success, then you could take your time, starting over if necessary, until you succeeded. A thief could "Take 10" on opening a simple safe, if it wasn't trapped (or if she'd already disabled the trap), and if she had all the time in the world. If the safe was trapped, she couldn't "Take 10" to disable the trap because failing to disable the trap would spring the trap. Likewise, if a guard was patrolling and she had to get the safe open before he came back, she couldn't "Take 10" then, either.

A previous system - I think it was D&D, but it might have been another game - indicated whether a skill could be used "untrained" or not. Anybody could pick up a weapon and try to take a swing with it. But if you weren't a Wizard you couldn't try to read a spellbook no matter how smart you were. Actually, I think Rogues could gain the ability to attempt to use a spell-scroll or a magic item without really knowing what they were doing...
Spoiler :

edit: Another option is to require proficiency to even attempt some tasks. Just because you have +4 Dance due to your Dex doesn't mean you could substitute for a prima ballerina.
p.s. I feel compelled to note that you've chosen a bad example: Dancing is precisely the sort of thing you can attempt without "proficiency." Maybe picking a lock would be a better example? A Ranger doesn't get a +2 to picking locks from her 15 Dexterity; she can't pick locks at all. But that said, yes, my whole point above was just what you wrote, that just because you have a +4 from your natural Dexterity shouldn't mean you're as good at dancing as a professional dancer, even one who is otherwise athletically unremarkable. In D&D, having an 18 Dexterity actually does mean you're a half-decent dancer, the very first time you attempt it...
Spoiler :
That scene illustrates the difference I'm describing: The character watches some dancers for 5 seconds and then joins them, just because she's so naturally gifted. However, the actress playing the character has years of dance training irl.
 
Last edited:

Hygro

soundcloud.com/hygro/
Joined
Dec 1, 2002
Messages
25,250
Location
California
Both was 3e
 

AmazonQueen

Virago
Moderator
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
8,478
Location
Sailing the Homeward Ocean
Yes to both. There was a system in a version of D&D where, if a roll of 10 was sufficient to succeed, you could just "take" a roll of 10, without rolling. If you weren't being threatened, and you weren't under time pressure, and if the consequence of failing simply meant a lack of success, then you could take your time, starting over if necessary, until you succeeded. A thief could "Take 10" on opening a simple safe, if it wasn't trapped (or if she'd already disabled the trap), and if she had all the time in the world. If the safe was trapped, she couldn't "Take 10" to disable the trap because failing to disable the trap would spring the trap. Likewise, if a guard was patrolling and she had to get the safe open before he came back, she couldn't "Take 10" then, either.

A previous system - I think it was D&D, but it might have been another game - indicated whether a skill could be used "untrained" or not. Anybody could pick up a weapon and try to take a swing with it. But if you weren't a Wizard you couldn't try to read a spellbook no matter how smart you were. Actually, I think Rogues could gain the ability to attempt to use a spell-scroll or a magic item without really knowing what they were doing...
Spoiler :


p.s. I feel compelled to note that you've chosen a bad example: Dancing is precisely the sort of thing you can attempt without "proficiency." Maybe picking a lock would be a better example? A Ranger doesn't get a +2 to picking locks from her 15 Dexterity; she can't pick locks at all. But that said, yes, my whole point above was just what you wrote, that just because you have a +4 from your natural Dexterity shouldn't mean you're as good at dancing as a professional dancer, even one who is otherwise athletically unremarkable. In D&D, having an 18 Dexterity actually does mean you're a half-decent dancer, the very first time you attempt it...
Spoiler :
That scene illustrates the difference I'm describing: The character watches some dancers for 5 seconds and then joins them, just because she's so naturally gifted. However, the actress playing the character has years of dance training irl.

You can "dance" without training but in a specific style? I think not. Can you tango, fox trot or waltz? Even more so something like ballet that involves years of training.
 

EgonSpengler

Deity
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
9,638
You can "dance" without training but in a specific style? I think not. Can you tango, fox trot or waltz? Even more so something like ballet that involves years of training.
Is someone who has studied ballet for a month not actually doing ballet? I'd say they are. They may not be good at it yet, but they're doing it.

I guess this leads me to the question of when a person earns "proficiency" in something. A single lesson, to learn the basics? I mean, you can learn the basics of football/soccer and be playing it in one day. But is that a Proficiency, according to D&D? I'd say it's not; I'd say football/soccer is something you can play without the skill, just using your applicable attribute (probably Dex - but if I was DM I'd say you could choose to be a donkey about it, play rough and apply your Strength bonus instead - maybe you're trying to start trouble or make someone mad).

In D&D 5e, Proficiency is binary. Either you're proficient and can apply your full proficiency bonus or you're not and you can't. That's if you go by the book. It's an easy fix, though, if we're willing to monkey around with the rules: Pin Proficiency Bonuses to Class Level rather than Character Level. Boom. Done. So a character who's a 4th-level Fighter and a 1st-Level Rogue can only use a +2 Proficiency Bonus in those skills that are specific to one class but not the other - Survival is a Fighter skill but not a Rogue skill; Stealth is a Rogue skill but not a Fighter skill. Skills that the classes share - Acrobatics, Athletics, a few others - would use the character's full Proficiency Bonus of +3. If they gained another level as a Fighter, all of their Fighter skills would be +3, but the Rogue skills that aren't shared by the Fighter class would remain at +2. This way, you could have a character who's just okay at some things and good at others.
 

Valka D'Ur

Hosting Iron Pen in A&E
Retired Moderator
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Messages
28,304
Location
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
This only applies to skill checks that aren't contested: A gymnast doing a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam. What are the chances of an untrained, not particularly talented, gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? Almost zero. What are the chances of an Oympic-level gymnast hitting a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam? It's probably a lot higher than just 60%. Giving an untrained, untalented novice a 5% chance might be too high, and giving the Olympian a 95% chance might be selling her short, but we're only rolling a d20 here. We have to set the difficulty at 20, and say that the Olympian has a +18 total bonus (so if her DEX is 18, she must be getting +14 from somewhere else). If we wanted to say that the untrained, untalented novice simply cannot do it all, we have to set the difficulty at 21 (or more) and then increase the Olympian's total bonus accordingly. Maybe she's got a +19 (to roll a 21). In this scenario, the immensely-talented person (18 DEX) who's never taken a gymnastics class in her life has a 15% 20% chance to hit a no-hands backflip on a balance-beam on her first try. That might be too high in real life, but okay, we're talking about fantasy heroes here.
A novice gymnast attempting a no-hands backflip on a balance beam would be lucky not to break her neck or cause herself at least some form of extreme injury. There is NO way such a gymnast could pull it off successfully.

You can "dance" without training but in a specific style? I think not. Can you tango, fox trot or waltz? Even more so something like ballet that involves years of training.
Agreed. I can handle medieval dancing. Waltzes baffle me. Where dancing is concerned, I was born several centuries too late.

Or take musical instruments. I'm in awe of people who can play a variety of different types, that require emphasizing different parts of the body and different sets of muscle memory. I know what this training is like for the organ, but I never managed anything close to that proficiency for the accordion or recorder. I can pick out a tune on the piano, but I wouldn't dignify it by claiming that I can actually play it properly.

Even instruments that seem alike really aren't. A piano is a percussion instrument. An organ is a woodwind. Yet both use similar keyboards and many people can play both of them with no problem. I'm one of the people who has dexterity (had, strictly speaking, as my dexterity is crap these days) on an organ and am hopeless on the piano. They require different movements, and different muscle memory even though the scales and chords are the same. It takes more strength in the arms, hands, and fingers to play the piano, as the force exerted on the keys affects its loudness or softness. On the flip side, however, you get a pretty good workout with your legs and feet when playing the organ, especially with a full pedalboard.

Back when I was doing my Western Board of Music exams, one of my teachers recommended practicing the technical part of my exam syllabus (scales, etc.) on the piano, to strengthen my hands and fingers. After that, she said, playing the same things on the organ would be a breeze - like my hands would just dance over the keys.
 

AdamCrock

Polish Pudding
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
5,957
Location
Edgar Allan Poe-Landia
even beyond str/dex, it's baffling that intelligence is a dump stat for combatants. smarts is crucial knowing where to move your weapon. reading your opponents. learning what to do, and when.
That is actually a good point ! But if we go with intelligence influence chance to hit it might go too far , right now ... well I am ashamed to say but IMHO STR stat is not how that chance to be calculated - Imagine a Troll charging You with a heavy club , which stat is Your natural reflex telling You to use..... is it strength ?

INT is important a plenty in any setup as well - for example where are You gonna find shelter, firewood, what are You gonna eat ? - it all is important and it's all intelligence that wins the day , but what about that fight with the troll , let' say Your STR 9 and DEX 18 and he is STR 18 and DEX 9 , than what ? He clrearly gonna bash You like there's no tommorow - that is how I think those stats are uneven.
 

Angst

Rambling and inconsistent
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
14,581
Location
A Silver Mt. Zion
Interestingly, IRL, large beasts were not taken down by just bringing a weapon and mauling at it. Neanderthals could take a big hit, but we couldn't. It was coordination or precision. Again, strength is not as important after you had enough of a force multiplier.

In a world where you duel said troll 1v1 me bro... And that would be feasible without company... Well, yes, then strength would matter. Thick skin and such. Requires effort to cut or pierce if you don't have a team with you.

But again, there's two threads of discussion here. One is realism (where the troll is the equivalent of an elephant, maybe, which we take on with Int; and then btw, there's a problem of balance. Superstrength for a small frame means you throw yourself all over the place unless we throw some weird density physics into it), and one is the thing I've been talking about, being able to fit fantasy tropes, where smart fighter is an example of what is lacking. Btw @Hygro I have started reading Iron Heroes. Interesitng stuff. Still not done with it, but I'm kind of wanting to do a non-magic setting with the system (similar to stuff seen in Bannerlord, for example).
 
Last edited:

AmazonQueen

Virago
Moderator
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
8,478
Location
Sailing the Homeward Ocean
Interestingly, IRL, large beasts were not taken down by just bringing a weapon and mauling at it. Neanderthals could take a big hit, but we couldn't. It was coordination or precision. Again, strength is not as important after you had enough of a force multiplier.

In a world where you duel said troll 1v1 me bro... And that would be feasible without company... Well, yes, then strength would matter. Thick skin and such. Requires effort to cut or pierce if you don't have a team with you.

But again, there's two threads of discussion here. One is realism (where the troll is the equivalent of an elephant, maybe, which we take on with Int; and then btw, there's a problem of balance. Superstrength for a small frame means you throw yourself all over the place unless we throw some weird density physics into it), and one is the thing I've been talking about, being able to fit fantasy tropes, where smart fighter is an example of what is lacking. Btw @Hygro I have started reading Iron Heroes. Interesitng stuff. Still not done with it, but I'm kind of wanting to do a non-magic setting with the system (similar to stuff seen in Bannerlord, for example).

In a sense what I want isn't realism, its immersion.
I wouldn't know realistic combat if it hit me over the head with a club, but D&D combat is too abstract for me. Too much number crunching, not enough action.
 

Angst

Rambling and inconsistent
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
14,581
Location
A Silver Mt. Zion
In a sense what I want isn't realism, its immersion.
I wouldn't know realistic combat if it hit me over the head with a club, but D&D combat is too abstract for me. Too much number crunching, not enough action.
This makes sense. But the weird thing is... Most people don't know what combat entails and immerse in the wrong things. People still popularly believe the Celts fought nude and the Vikings "went berserk"; if people can't *do that*, play a nude raging axeman, they feel less immersed in the game.

That said, besides that... Yea some things just boil down to bags of HP smacking each other. It can feel quite abstract It's why I fiat a lot of rule of cool rolls in my game (and why the RAW suggest it), and why I'm very visceral with descriptions as a DM. When a player smashes a monster and I describe colorful ways the body is destroyed, especially if the player did something creative, they can get out of the abstraction and into the world. It is part of the core game, creative descriptions, but I understand there isn't a 1:1 relation between description qnd mechanical expression.
 

AmazonQueen

Virago
Moderator
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
8,478
Location
Sailing the Homeward Ocean
This makes sense. But the weird thing is... Most people don't know what combat entails and immerse in the wrong things. People still popularly believe the Celts fought nude and the Vikings "went berserk"; if people can't *do that*, play a nude raging axeman, they feel less immersed in the game.

That said, besides that... Yea some things just boil down to bags of HP smacking each other. It can feel quite abstract It's why I fiat a lot of rule of cool rolls in my game (and why the RAW suggest it), and why I'm very visceral with descriptions as a DM. When a player smashes a monster and I describe colorful ways the body is destroyed, especially if the player did something creative, they can get out of the abstraction and into the world. It is part of the core game, creative descriptions, but I understand there isn't a 1:1 relation between description qnd mechanical expression.

Well D&D includes classes like Barbarian and Monk, and people use large weapons for damage, not reach. Gamers like their tropes.
 

Valka D'Ur

Hosting Iron Pen in A&E
Retired Moderator
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Messages
28,304
Location
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Some DMs reward resolving a situation with creative thinking that might not include combat.

Oh, and fighting a troll? Stick your wand up its nose, levitate its club over its head, and then drop it. It worked for Harry Potter and Ron Weasley...
 

Angst

Rambling and inconsistent
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
14,581
Location
A Silver Mt. Zion
Some DMs reward resolving a situation with creative thinking that might not include combat.

Oh, and fighting a troll? Stick your wand up its nose, levitate its club over its head, and then drop it. It worked for Harry Potter and Ron Weasley...
Stuff like this is why the game can shine so well.

Again. I love d&d 5e. ^^
 

El_Machinae

Colour vision since 2018
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 24, 2005
Messages
48,108
Location
Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
I think it's greatest immersion-breaking aspect is Hit Points, specifically its version thereof. At some point, a well-struck battleaxe should be fatal to a person, but the narration involved in getting a commoner to the point where they kill an adventurer with a battle axe is just not at all reflected in the concept of hit points.

The DM is forced to wing it when it comes to the narration, describing how the opponent is being whittled down. The axe's damage means everything and nothing at the same time.
 

Hygro

soundcloud.com/hygro/
Joined
Dec 1, 2002
Messages
25,250
Location
California
In a sense what I want isn't realism, its immersion.
I wouldn't know realistic combat if it hit me over the head with a club, but D&D combat is too abstract for me. Too much number crunching, not enough action.
Yes. The verisimilitude. Everything hinges on it. But wouldn't more rules mean more number crunching? Hit points keep it simpler for sure. In any event, all games require a good DM. Any system will be good or bad depending on the one running the game and describing what happens and why.

You should also read Iron Heroes. There's a lot of bonuses to so that's more numbers. And dice for your armor's damage reduction so that's more numbers. No targeted body parts so no extra number crunching there. But some of bonuses are coming from described heroic feats the players attempt for advantage in combat. Others are benefits and abilities of your experience path.
 

AmazonQueen

Virago
Moderator
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
8,478
Location
Sailing the Homeward Ocean
Yes. The verisimilitude. Everything hinges on it. But wouldn't more rules mean more number crunching? Hit points keep it simpler for sure. In any event, all games require a good DM. Any system will be good or bad depending on the one running the game and describing what happens and why.

You should also read Iron Heroes. There's a lot of bonuses to so that's more numbers. And dice for your armor's damage reduction so that's more numbers. No targeted body parts so no extra number crunching there. But some of bonuses are coming from described heroic feats the players attempt for advantage in combat. Others are benefits and abilities of your experience path.

I think @El_Machinae is right when he says the problem is how D&D handles hit points.
They are what makes so many combats in D&D take a long time, makes many combats in D&D just about draining the player's resources (using up their magic and potions etc), and makes so many combats trivial.

I'm going to refer back to Runequest because its my favourite system and the one I know best but there are others that also do a better job than D&D. In Runequest the combats are more involved and quicker than D&D, and every blow from the weakest foe has some chance (albeit a very small one) of being deadly so combat is never trivial.
 
Top Bottom