I’ve gotten quite a few asks recently wanting to know what my issue with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is. You’ve probably seen my grumbling about edition-warring a time or three, so I want to clarify that that isn’t where this post is going. I think 5E has a lot of fantastic ideas, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to new players. The problem I have with it isn’t that I don’t like what it’s doing; it’s that I see a lot of great game design ideas lumbered by a conscious refusal to take them to their logical conclusion - or, in other words, it’s not that I think 5E goes too far, it’s that I think it doesn’t go far enough.
(Fair warning: a lot of this is going to be really jargon-heavy game design stuff that normal people probably don’t care about. That’s your cue to check out if tabletop RPG meta isn’t your cup of tea!)
To start off, there’s a concept in game design - applicable to both video games and tabletop games - called “mechanical engagement”. Basically, it’s what it sounds like: how and when the player is called upon to make rules-based decisions. Some games have high mechanical engagement, in the sense that players are given lots of rules-based “toys” to play with and expected to interact with them frequently; other games have low mechanical engagement, meaning that there are fewer rules-based “toys”, and fewer player-facing decisions about how to deploy them.
Moreover, in games that have roles or classes, different roles within the same game can offer different levels of mechanical engagement. It’s tempting to think of this in terms of low mechanical engagement = basic and low-powered, high mechanical engagement = advanced and high-powered, but this ain’t necessarily the case; you can see this phenomenon in action in the sphere of video games in, say, 2D fighters, or multiplayer online shooters. You have characters/roles with complicated and demanding execution, and characters/roles with simple and straightforward execution, and the former aren’t necessarily more powerful in practice, in spite of being more demanding to play.
The reason this happens is because a player’s preferred level of mechanical engagement is totally independent of any other axis of play (e.g., preferred role, preferred aesthetics, etc.) Some players like having lots of rules-based knobs and levers to play with, and they’ll gravitate to roles that will give them that even if there’s no actual benefit - i.e., even if it obliges them to work harder just to get to the same level as players in roles with lower mechanical engagement. Similarly, some players just want to press buttons and watch stuff explode - they prefer low mechanical engagement.
There’s nothing wrong with either preference, and one of the major perks of playing a tabletop RPG with class/role-based character creation is that it allows you to accommodate different preferences in terms of mechanical engagement within the same party. You can have players who want to juggle lists of special abilities as long as their arm, and players who just want to hit things with swords, and they can play at the same table - everybody wins. Again, remember that this is totally separate from wanting to play a “low powered” or “high powered” character; the level of mechanical engagement that a role demands is a different axis from how big its numbers are.
Now, one of the perennial issues of fantasy tabletop RPGs in general and D&D in particular is tying particular levels of mechanical engagement to particular role aesthetics. In many iterations of the game, if you want to play a role with high mechanical engagement, you have to chuck fireballs, and if you want to play a role with low mechanical engagement, you have to be a sword-slinging meat shield. A player who wants high mechanical engagement but also likes swords is liable to be told, both by the game’s text and by other players, that she’s Doing It Wrong - and so, for that matter, is a player who wants low mechanical engagement, but also wants to set stuff on fire with her brain.
(Incidentally, this is one of several areas where core-book 4E solves a real and recognised problem in the most hilariously unsubtle manner imaginable, by bashing every role into exactly the same level of mechanical engagement. Which is fantastic if that just happens to be your preferred keel, because now you can play and enjoy every role - and terrible if your ideal toybox is too much larger or smaller, because now every role is an equally bad fit for you.)
5E brings a couple of great ideas for solving this problem to the table:
1. It introduces a series of “tutorial levels”, where each class‘s abilities are introduced gradually over the levels 1-3, reducing entry barriers, leveling out the learning curve, and allowing folks to “try on” different levels of mechanical engagement more easily; and
2. It introduces system of templated archetypes whereby particular classes/roles can be “tuned” to different levels of mechanical engagement, making the same basic set of roles accessible to players with a broader range of preferences in terms of mechanical engagement - and, critically, the choice of template doesn’t have to be made until after the previously mentioned “tutorial levels” are complete.
Sounds great, right?
The problem is, it only applies to fighters and rogues and related classes. Clerics and wizards - i.e., the full-featured spellcasters - don’t get any “tutorial levels”, are obliged to choose their archetypes at first level, and all of their archetypes are about equally complicated - to the point that, for example, the lowest mechanical engagement cleric you can build has more rules-based toys you’re obliged to wrangle at any given level than the highest mechanical engagement fighter.
In other words, the game turns around and goes some distance out of its way to reinforce the very problem that this design pattern is meant to solve!
This pattern is repeated in several other places. For example, one of the long-standing disagreements among the fandom is whether D&D should primarily support epic, globe-trotting “high fantasy” or gritty, street-level “low fantasy” as its default tone. It’s as much a question of rules as it is of flavour text, so it’s hard to do both - but 5E gives it the old college try, which is a frankly fascinating decision. How does that play out?
Unconventionally, 5E does it based on character classes: you literally have some classes that are built out of high fantasy tropes, and some classes that are built out of low fantasy tropes, with the result that you can have characters who basically hail from totally different genres of fantasy fiction running around in the same party. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea; there are lots of inspirational sources that setup could describe - I mean, just look at The Lord of the Rings. If that’s not a prototypical case of high fantasy characters and low fantasy characters partying up, I’ll eat my hat.
This’d be another great opportunity for the archetype system to shine - but again, we see this obnoxious wall slamming down between “martial” and “magic” classes. This time it goes the other way: fighters and rogues default to low fantasy genre assumptions, and have access to archetype templates that can dial them up to high fantasy - but clerics and wizards default to high fantasy and don’t get anything to adjust that.
Tellingly, the high fantasy archetypes for fighters and rogues basically operate by bolting half a wizard to the side of their respective classes. You end up with a strange dynamic where some characters from a given piece of genre source material are valid inspirations, but not others - e.g., you can be Merlin, but not Lancelot; Gandalf, but not Legolas; Medea, but not Achilles. Again, we see this reactionary notion that only spellcasters are allowed to play in the big-kid sandbox; the game’s text openly acknowledges as much by flat-out stating that only full-progression spellcasters are relevant when determining which tiers of play a party can engage with. And again, the tools to fix that are right there; the game just doesn’t deign to pick them up and use them.
I could keep going, but I suspect I’ve harped on long enough that y’all get exactly where I’m coming from here. It’s like… these are not new problems. Maybe not all players care about them, but it’s nearly universally acknowledged that they exist, and it would have taken so little effort to address them - the game literally developed the perfect tools to do so, then didn’t use them. It drives me crazy to see a game come so close to what could have been a legitimately revolutionary take on the genre, then deliberately stop juuuuust short of the goal line.
A sketch of Joe Higashi from King of Fighters doing the “Tiger Kick!” - Colored it a little bit too much for messy sketch. I still enjoy the classic SNK Fighters, they were pretty much the bee’s knees.
Out of the five inner senshi, Sailor Jupiter should be the one on the front line. As her strength and attack power comes from her own ability and not any specific weapon this would mean her HP or at least defense should be decently high as well, therefore making her a good mix between tank and power house.But this is just what I reckon :)
I kinda skipped Mars’ explanation but hers was mainly based off her awesome bow and arrow attack.
Holy butts guys. I FINISHED IT. This has been a project I’ve been working on for the past few weeks - an animation study of sorts. I wanted to take my D&D fighter, plop her into an environment, and make it feel like it could be a screenshot!
I used this gif as reference. Most of the poses are straight from it. I’ve fiddled a bit with the timing but (full disclosure) pulled pretty heavily from it. Thus calling this a ‘study’ rather than a completely original piece. I LEARNED A TON. Having animated very little of this kind of action it was really cool taking a closer look at that 40 frame snippet and really break it down to the basics.
learned a lot from Darkstalkers. They had gotten used to the CPS-II
hardware and how to make a solid, snazzy game on it. So, taking what
they learned from the first Darkstalkers game, and inspired by the
Street Fighter II anime, Capcom made a brand new SF game.
This one would be an interquel, between Street Fighter I and II.
Side funny story about that but before discovering Skullgirls, i was thinking about a stupid way to animate the characters. Something done on flash bc in mah point of view, that was the only way i could animate mah 2D fighters (eh i was dumb) Σ(*ﾉ´>O<｡`)ﾉ
it’s only after some researchs that i remembered Scott pilgrim the game (and their increeedible animations ) and on the same day, forums suggested skullgirls with a video of their animator explaining the art process :