Posted by : David Guyll May 20, 2013

After a two-week absence Legends & Lore returns with a look at two of Next's occasionally-mentioned three-pillar system, which I just now realized that if arranged properly could be referred to as “ICE” (not to be confused with Shadowrun's IC).

I have not used the exploration rules beyond overland travel, and even then I kept forgetting to assign exploration tasks, so removing the 1-day time increment will not affect me much. The addition of weather rules sounds fun, but not nearly as fun as the potential for classes and monsters to interact with them (especially stuff like the bit about the green dragon).

One of the things that I disliked about 3rd Edition was that it was a simple matter to rack up a massive Diplomacy skill modifier early on: half-elves got a +2, three skills could give you +2 synergy bonuses, and you could also lump Negotiator and Skill Focus together for another +5, which meant that at level 3 you could feasibly have a +19 bonus before Charisma became a factor.

Not only did this make it incredibly easy to change most NPC reactions to at least indifferent--going from Hostile to Indifferent "only" required a DC 25 check, which you could make on a 6 if your Charisma "only" was average--but it basically relegated social interactions to the guy with the highest Diplomacy modifier.

4th Edition tried to make it easier for more characters to contribute to these sorts of interactions with mixed results: all to often players--mine included--ended up "spamming" the skills they were best at until they got the requisite number of successes, or just piled on Aid Another bonuses so that someone else could. Or, you know, if they had nothing better to do.

Given that the interaction rules involve "Charisma checks (or other checks, as appropriate)", it sounds like they are to a degree starting with something resembling 4th Edition's skill challenge system. I am of the mind that skill challenges got better over time, so hopefully the designers have learned from this. If nothing else NPC traits, as well as the ability to "invoke" them with varying results (as well as related monster- and character-abilities), sounds both ambitious and interesting.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. meh. Bluff, diplomacy, and intimidate mean nothing if you don't roleplay the roll. This will only encourage the 'roll' playing, and discourage the 'role' playing.
    If you can manage to maintain the 'role' playing, then awesome.

    I'm not trying to troll on the system as a whole, just this one part of it.

  2. The second bullet point under Interaction mentions showing how to use roleplaying to manage a conversation. Of course we will have to wait and see how well it works out.

  3. The groups I played in handled skill challenges in the sub-optimal way that the designers seemed to intend. I don't know how I got so lucky! That's not a defense of 4e's system - I do recognize that the problems you're pointing out were (are) endemic in other groups.

    Repeating a comment I made over in the D&D Next community in G+ yesterday -

    I can't help but notice that the game's apparent expression of skill for the ranger is to reduce the ways in which the ranger interacts with this game system.

    Other than that, it looks reasonably solid. I like that they're gradually working their way around to creating skill challenges again; 4e's skill challenges are highly problematic in implementation, but the principle of intricately systematized noncombat conflict resolution is good and deserves to be continued.

  4. Skill challenges got better over time, though I really did not enjoy them until near the end of 4th Edition's shelf-life; I think the first time I saw a really decent skill challenge was in Dark Legecy of Evard or The Elder Elemental Eye.



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