Houseruling classes
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  1. #1
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    Houseruling classes

    To cut it short, I want to play D&D4 and enjoy it like others do. I think I got the style, but there's one thing that repulses me each time I look at it: class powers. The concept is ok, but the powers themselves strike me boring. My eyelids grow heavy, I start yawning and stuff %) I know the sentiment that they look that way, but in actual play are very interesting, but my present experience doesn't match this. For me (IMHO), they aren't cool, creative, concept-derived, and they break my immersion due to strange (in case of non-casters) restrictions per encounter/per day.

    But I like other features of the game, such as tactical-candy monster design and puzzle combat, and thus I want to play. I really do.

    The solution I see is houseruling the powers (or waiting for some third-party publisher to do that). I was told that at this scale it's impossible, but I surely hope it's not. What I want:

    1. Distinct powers, tied to concept and unlike the powers of (most) other classes. So when I use the power, I feel as the character I play, not a dummy that deals X damage.
    2. Harmony of flavor and effect. I never got why "Positioning Strike" is vs. Will power... Therefore I can't think of creative in-game ways to improve or tweak its effect, and it becomes MMORPGish.
    3. Per encounter/per day restrictions based on logic. I don't see a reason why most of mundane combat maneuvers can be used only once per battle. It's just not what happens in real or fantasy fights.
    4. No minutiae to track. If a power has lasting effect, it should either really matter or last whole scene or both.

    I was considering playing monster-like PCs with 2-3 concept-based powers, but I want to have a milder solution too.

    Thanks in advance.

    PS: Sorry, should have post it in 4E Houserules... I'm new to this community. Won't make this mistake again.
    Last edited by Katemare; Tuesday, 3rd March, 2009 at 04:46 AM. Reason: +PS

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katemare View Post
    For me (IMHO), they aren't cool, creative, concept-derived, and they break my immersion due to strange (in case of non-casters) restrictions per encounter/per day.
    Cool is subjective. I don't agree with 90% of what a 15 year old think is cool, for example! Creative... Well, you may have high standard before declaring something creative but you can't argue that these options are more creative than what the fighters had avaiable in 1e through 3e! Seriously. And they are certainly concept-derived. Classes have power that are derived from their role and flavor. Point me out where they aren't.

    But I like other features of the game, such as tactical-candy monster design and puzzle combat, and thus I want to play. I really do.
    Tactical candy comes from the powers. The monsters are a simplified version of PCs, with fewer different powers to keep things manageable but things wouldn't be as interesting if the PCs didn't have all these options to counter the monsters.

    Distinct powers, tied to concept and unlike the powers of (most) other classes. So when I use the power, I feel as the character I play, not a dummy that deals X damage.
    As opposed to what we have now? Each class have their own powers. Tied to concept.

    [*]Harmony of flavor and effect. I never got why "Positioning Strike" is vs. Will power... Therefore I can't think of creative in-game ways to improve or tweak its effect, and it becomes MMORPGish.
    That is one power that is truly debatable but the idea is basically that you are tricking your opponent. I see the damage as a cheap shot sneaked in after outwitting the target and unbalancing.

    If I was to houserule it to put on this I would make it using charisma instead of Dexterity to make it clearly a charismatic rogue trick.

    [*]Per encounter/per day restrictions based on logic. I don't see a reason why most of mundane combat maneuvers can be used only once per battle. It's just not what happens in real or fantasy fights.
    Actually it is exactly what happens in fantasy fight. I have never seen a sword and fantasy warrior do the same elaborate move or feint twice in the same fight in any movie I have seen. And I have seen a lot of these movies.

    Real word... You probably never should a real world argument to a D&D game mechanic discussion. It is just not very serious. That being said, when I was fencing, I did try to vary my attacks!

    [*]No minutiae to track. If a power has lasting effect, it should either really matter or last whole scene or both.
    Well, that was the goal. I'd say they mostly succeeded but it is true that there still is quite a bit of +1 conditional scattered here and there that can be hard to track.

    But I gotta say, if this sort of thing put me off, I'd have sworn off D&D long ago. It's not that bad. These effects mostly come from feat that can be banned if you like.

    I was considering playing monster-like PCs with 2-3 concept-based powers, but I want to have a milder solution too.
    No, the tactical joy that is 4e comes from the depth of options available. Beside, I don't follow; how can you dislike the encounter / daily restrictions if you have ever entertained the possibility of giving the PCs even less option?!

    If some powers rub you the wrong way, just rub them off, that's all.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Malenkirk View Post
    Creative... Well, you may have high standard before declaring something creative but you can't argue that these options are more creative than what the fighters had avaiable in 1e through 3e!
    Comparison to 3E isn't a point here. There was a good explanation somewhere in other thread that "if ability is an action first, effect second, it's a door open for creativity; but when it's effect first, flavor second, you can't do much with the pre-gened effect". Think M:tG cards: you can get creative with combinations of existing cards, but can't say "hmm, and if I mount cannons on griffins, we can siege that flying fortress...".

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Malenkirk View Post
    And they are certainly concept-derived. Classes have power that are derived from their role and flavor. Point me out where they aren't.
    Well, when I think "Rogue", I think neither "pass anywhere across the field" nor "slides target 1 square" (the latter I would think imagining ju-jutsu monk). I think "free-willed fellow who steals things and cons a lot". It's only one possible concept, but still. In my book, rogues avoid a fight unless/until they have an advantage. Or at all, if they can get what they want without risking their necks. Not "Striker", but "Trickster".

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Malenkirk View Post
    Tactical candy comes from the powers. The monsters are a simplified version of PCs, with fewer different powers to keep things manageable but things wouldn't be as interesting if the PCs didn't have all these options to counter the monsters.
    For me, tactical candy comes from a task to solve and conditions to consider. Monsters have powers PC won't ever have - they don't have to be balanced within the party, but have to pose a unique challenge instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Malenkirk View Post
    Actually it is exactly what happens in fantasy fight. I have never seen a sword and fantasy warrior do the same elaborate move or feint twice in the same fight in any movie I have seen. And I have seen a lot of these movies.

    Real word... You probably never should a real world argument to a D&D game mechanic discussion. It is just not very serious. That being said, when I was fencing, I did try to vary my attacks!
    I take ju-jutsu classes, and the tactics factor there is just a blast. Usually you can't pull same move on the same opponent twice. But: you can pull it on the other opponent who didn't see you doing this, or when you feint the opponent into thinking you're making a different move, or in different combat position (which you probably provoked specifically for that purpose). The rule "you get cumulative -4 when attempting the same exploit on the same opponent" I can work with, but "you can do this once per combat, no matter what's the situation" is artificial to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Malenkirk View Post
    No, the tactical joy that is 4e comes from the depth of options available. Beside, I don't follow; how can you dislike the encounter / daily restrictions if you have ever entertained the possibility of giving the PCs even less option?!
    If these few options are distinct, logical and tactics-rich, it's all fine to me. It's the depth. Having lots of similar powers you can't get creative with is shallow.

  4. #4
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    Hello!

    For a lot of discussion on something similar, you might find this thread of interest:
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/general...rchetypes.html

    While the thread is more about at-will powers than Encounter/Daily powers, it's still a pretty good discussion about how powers are related to 4e in general.

    As for everything else ... I wish I could offer some good advice. IMHO, powers are pretty fundamental to 4e classes, and I don't know that I'd want to change it up. So, I don't have too many good suggestions. Good luck, though, in finding a way to make the game more to your liking!

    -O

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    (Sorry, accidental doublepost.)
    Last edited by Katemare; Tuesday, 3rd March, 2009 at 06:40 PM. Reason: oops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obryn View Post
    Hello!
    For a lot of discussion on something similar, you might find this thread of interest:
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/general...rchetypes.html
    Thank you. I've been lurking in that thread, but didn't read all of it. I'll take a closer look %)

  7. #7
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    Not good... Best decision I thought of is to write the character from scratch, custom powers and all, but it's not good idea because:

    1. I can't figure out the game balance, such as which ability is balanced at which level and what bonuses are appropriate.
    2. So, I have to grab a bunch of existing powers and probably tweak them a bit. But I'm limited to powers that fit the concept _and_ don't cause the yawn effect. In other words, very limited.
    3. And if I'm to create new powers, it would be hard to spawn so many original, meaningful powers to fill character progression.

    I can think in terms of "so, my gnoll likes to bite off chunks of his enemies, he should have power to benefit from it", but without balance guidelines I can't write it up.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katemare View Post
    Not good... Best decision I thought of is to write the character from scratch, custom powers and all, but it's not good idea because:

    1. I can't figure out the game balance, such as which ability is balanced at which level and what bonuses are appropriate.
    2. So, I have to grab a bunch of existing powers and probably tweak them a bit. But I'm limited to powers that fit the concept _and_ don't cause the yawn effect. In other words, very limited.
    3. And if I'm to create new powers, it would be hard to spawn so many original, meaningful powers to fill character progression.
    I can think in terms of "so, my gnoll likes to bite off chunks of his enemies, he should have power to benefit from it", but without balance guidelines I can't write it up.
    My best advice is to never attempt something like this alone and preferably don't attempt it on a message board. Instead get together with the people who will actually be playing in the game and work it out with them face-to-face. This has two important advantages:

    1. It gets the input of the only other people who matter.

    2. It ensures you don't put a lot of wasted work in on concepts no one will actually play. There's no sense in spending hours of work on an archer ranger's powers, for example, if no one in the group actually wants to play an archer ranger.

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    I forget which Dragon Mag mentioned this but they had listed some feats that are directly tied to a character's background and personality. I am assuming this is the kind of thing you are looking for?

    I like the idea in the sense that it give a player a bit more flexibility into forging a character that is truly unique. The downside is, as you have probably guessed, is that it takes a bit of work.

    Based on my own experience though, character driven powers really play a backseat to the group dynamic. Most of my players within two or three sessions would go for powers and feats that would benefit the group as a whole. That's another thing to think about. You could create a power that is unique for the group and not just the individual.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katemare View Post

    PS: Sorry, should have post it in 4E Houserules... I'm new to this community. Won't make this mistake again.
    No problem, moved to house rules

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