4E 4e With No Casters?
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  1. #1

    4e With No Casters?

    In my desperate struggle to find something to get excited about in 4e, I've been pondering if maybe I've been looking at the "Everyone gets k3w1 p0w3rz!" thing all wrong. Such a "feature" might just make it easier, not harder, to run city-based/sword&sorcery/low fantasy style games. In such tales, fighter-types and rogue-types have an endless array of tricks, stunts, and nifty features which classic D&D emulates fairly poorly, requiring things like Shadowdancers or spell-casting Assassins to pull off. Simply eliminating casters from D&D 3x and below leaves the party seriously underpowered and underhealed. (I know; I've been in campaigns where the only Arcane caster was a Warlock and we had NO HEALER AT ALL.) However, the 4e philosophy of "Everyone gets magic -- even if we don't CALL it that!" seems to solve this. Healing is the province of any "Leader", divine or not, and all of the stabbity/whackity classes get, it seems, a variety of chambara/anime-style manuevers to help define themselves in action. The reduced dependence on magic items helps keep the "feel" of a low-magic campaign without reducing the in-play options of the players. (One can probably give the requisite expected bonuses without calling them 'magic'..."Ah, you are wearing Andallian Chainmail, armor from the finest smiths of that ancient kingdom...we call it +2 chain 'round these parts, buddy.")

    The main weakness here is the blandness of the SWSE skill system (seemingly imported whole-hog into 4e) and the lack of any non-adventuring skills, but that can probably be houseruled once the actual game is in print.

    Thoughts?

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    I think you may be on to something, Lizard. Come over to the Dark Side! 4e will be all things to all people!

    Well, I'm only half kidding about that. I do believe that the increase in coolness given to the non-casting types is one of the best selling points of D&D 4e. I have maintained for a long time that the new ruleset appears to be offering a better way to create low magic, S&S type campaigns, as well as high magic style games. IMO, the modular and transparent nature of the design (what little we've seen of it), lends itself to customization better than any previous edition. That is my hope, anyway.

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    Also think you are on to something. But...

    Lets take the "roles": don't like paladin? still got the fighter. Don't like cleric, still have the warlord. And for strikers, you have both rogues and rangers to replace the warlock.

    But...the wizard remains the only "controler". If the wizard is dropped, the ability to deal with large number of opponents is reduced. That is probably not insurmountable, but has to be considered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lizard
    In my desperate struggle to find something to get excited about in 4e, I've been pondering if maybe I've been looking at the "Everyone gets k3w1 p0w3rz!" thing all wrong. Such a "feature" might just make it easier, not harder, to run city-based/sword&sorcery/low fantasy style games. In such tales, fighter-types and rogue-types have an endless array of tricks, stunts, and nifty features which classic D&D emulates fairly poorly, requiring things like Shadowdancers or spell-casting Assassins to pull off. Simply eliminating casters from D&D 3x and below leaves the party seriously underpowered and underhealed. (I know; I've been in campaigns where the only Arcane caster was a Warlock and we had NO HEALER AT ALL.) However, the 4e philosophy of "Everyone gets magic -- even if we don't CALL it that!" seems to solve this. Healing is the province of any "Leader", divine or not, and all of the stabbity/whackity classes get, it seems, a variety of chambara/anime-style manuevers to help define themselves in action. The reduced dependence on magic items helps keep the "feel" of a low-magic campaign without reducing the in-play options of the players. (One can probably give the requisite expected bonuses without calling them 'magic'..."Ah, you are wearing Andallian Chainmail, armor from the finest smiths of that ancient kingdom...we call it +2 chain 'round these parts, buddy.")

    The main weakness here is the blandness of the SWSE skill system (seemingly imported whole-hog into 4e) and the lack of any non-adventuring skills, but that can probably be houseruled once the actual game is in print.

    Thoughts?
    I think that's one of the strongest, um, strengths of the new edition -- and more or less what all the unreasoning fanboys have been saying all along

    It doesn't just help with S&S, low-magic -- but I suspect that as long as you vet powers (probably not _too_ much, but hey, this is always true) and avoid playing above, say, 15th level like the plague, it'll serve you well.

    Godspeed and welcome.

  5. #5
    martial controller is just not needed. Not beeing able to do area damage easily is IMHO one main point of doing low magic campaigns... but actually i could imagine a martial character using alchemy to do some area damage/enviromental changes... (mix some explosives and you are ok)

    Actually I hope good alchemy rules are in^^ even if you need class training alchemist etc...

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    One of the nice things about the roles is that they let you play around with power sources without messing up the basic structure of the game. You can totally do a no magic game with the PH by sticking to the fighter, rogue, warlord, and ranger. You wouldn't have a controller, but it is possible to create a martial one.

    You can also roll things back another step and do some crazy stuff with the structure of the classes. Since many of the elements of character progression are unified, you could run classless D&D by allowing players to select maneuvers and spells from any class they want, mingling the two together, or start everyone with access to all heroic abilities and grant access to divine and arcane via feats.

    The really nice thing is that this structure allows you to better depict many classic D&D settings and fantasy worlds. You can run pre-War of the Lance adventures in Dragonlance without clerics. You could run Conan with just the heroic classes for PCs and NPC spellcasters as villains and allies.

    The one stumbling block is that the game expects fighters to wear heavy armor, but you could get around that by building a simple house rule (a fighter in light armor gets a flat bonus to AC to make up the gap).

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Lizard
    In my desperate struggle to find something to get excited about in 4e, I've been pondering if maybe I've been looking at the "Everyone gets k3w1 p0w3rz!" thing all wrong. Such a "feature" might just make it easier, not harder, to run city-based/sword&sorcery/low fantasy style games....

    Thoughts?
    Not only is it possible, this is exactly what I have been doing in my 3.75/Iron Heroes/Bo9S/SWSE rules mongrel of a home campaign. Basically, it's Bo9S classes only with rules borrowed liberally from IH, SWSE and what 4E tidbits we've gotten so far. Priests and Wizards exist IMC, but they're basically limited to what I think 4E will call "Rituals"; no Fireballs or Magic Missile. They're for NPC's only.

    I'm really looking forward to a no-spellcaster campaign in 4E (Fighters, Rogues, Rangers and Warlords only ... possibly Paladins (we'll see)).

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mearls
    One of the nice things about the roles is that they let you play around with power sources without messing up the basic structure of the game. You can totally do a no magic game with the PH by sticking to the fighter, rogue, warlord, and ranger. You wouldn't have a controller, but it is possible to create a martial one.

    You can also roll things back another step and do some crazy stuff with the structure of the classes. Since many of the elements of character progression are unified, you could run classless D&D by allowing players to select maneuvers and spells from any class they want, mingling the two together, or start everyone with access to all heroic abilities and grant access to divine and arcane via feats.

    The really nice thing is that this structure allows you to better depict many classic D&D settings and fantasy worlds. You can run pre-War of the Lance adventures in Dragonlance without clerics. You could run Conan with just the heroic classes for PCs and NPC spellcasters as villains and allies.

    The one stumbling block is that the game expects fighters to wear heavy armor, but you could get around that by building a simple house rule (a fighter in light armor gets a flat bonus to AC to make up the gap).
    This is the best thing I have read in weeks. It makes me happy. I have underlined what to me are a few key points:
    1. Martial Rangers.
    2. Mix & Match Classes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lizard
    The main weakness here is the blandness of the SWSE skill system (seemingly imported whole-hog into 4e) and the lack of any non-adventuring skills, but that can probably be houseruled once the actual game is in print.

    Thoughts?
    I think this won't hurt too much. If everyone has a level based bonus to skills, you can do rooftop fights without worrying that no one has ranks of balance, and a trip to the sewers without worrying about swim, and everyone can sneak if they have too, and if someone gets caught they can try to BS their way out.

    IMX city adventures need every PC to have some of every skill. From what I see, 4e should cover that.

    PS

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Irda Ranger
    This is the best thing I have read in weeks. It makes me happy.
    QFT

    I really love when the designers come and say "there, there, it's gonna be allright".

    Thanks Mearls!

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