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Thread: More reflections on 4e and 5e.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 04:57 PM #21
Novice (Lvl 1)
Last edited by Fazza; Sunday, 30th September, 2012 at 05:01 PM.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 06:03 PM #22
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
The druid was just a mess. He got the basic idea of at-wills (and used his flame seed power to some effect), but he was really lost when it came to wild shaping and using his at-will attacks, especially when he could use them on AOOs as a basic attack.
In summary: there need to not be at-will special attack powers. As it says in the Bible: "Let your basic attack be a basic attack."
As a fan of Essentials, this is mostly a solved issue with the post-Essentials martial classes. Variously:
The Fighter has a melee basic attack with At Will Stances that modify it until you enter another one. The same applies to the Scout (Two Weapon Ranger).
The Thief has a melee basic attack and At Will tricks that allow them to move and that impact their attack until the end of the turn. You use your move action to set up your attack.
The Hexblade has one Melee Basic Attack At Will and one Ranged Basic Attack At Will. No confusion here at all.
(b)The striker role should not exist.
In the combat, the strikers did the majority of the work. My warpriest hit a few times, doing a paltry 1d6 + 3 damage. The gloomblade, on the other hand, was doing 1d10 + 7 damage, and the rogue (when he finally managed a sneak attack) was doing 1d4 + 2d6 + 6 damage. There wasn't much in the way of healing needed in the battle, so I felt somewhat useless. Also, the druid's flame seed did pitiful damage.
As for the flame seed, it's meant for clearing out chaff. Not the one I'd choose (that would be Magic Stone or Grasping Tides). But the way you use flame seed is that minions have one hit point. You hit a target in the centre of the minion mob and all minions around him are torched automatically. In a fight against ordinary enemies it's pretty weak. In one that's minion heavy it's worthwhile (and would, I believe, have been the only at will power the party had capable of killing two enemies at once). This is one use for controller at will powers - options, options, and more options. Playing a controller IMO is like using a swiss army knife - you have an interesting collection of tools, and hope that one of these oddly shaped things is right for the job.
You have IMO a classic problem with healing in that party - you have too much of it. Two leaders out of five is just too many in any game I've been in. One leader as a panic button is great. Two? Not so much. Between you you're going to take the tension out of the fight.
(c) Round-by-round tracking sucks.
(d) Forced movement is awesome.
Berserker: Aggressive Lunge (ersatz Tide of Iron), Stalk and Strike. Forced movement is awesome. As is an extra shift mixed with a defender aura to get right into where the enemy doesn't want me.
Bard (multiple): Guiding Strike, Vicious Mockery, and Jinx Shot. Vicious Mockery is one of the most fun powers in the game, OK, so mechanically it isn't great. But it's Vicious Mockery. Guiding Strike gives everyone a 2 point bonus to hit. Worthwhile. Jinx Shot is fun. Knocks people over if they mess up.
Invoker: Hand of Radiance boosted by Power of the Moon. How can you not like a triple target attack-and-debuff. Often preferable to my encounter powers.
Paladin: You have a point. One of my two at wills was an MBA and the other was Enfeebling Strike.
Warlord: Brash Assault, Commander's Strike, Direct the Strike. Commander's Strike/Direct the Strike: Give the striker a basic attack instead of taking one myself. Fun - and powerful. Brash Assault: Attack my enemy and offer him a chance to hit back. If he does then the striker gets a swing. As possibly does the defender. Backed by me in character bombarding the enemy with insults. Great fun.
Wizard: Freezing Burst and Storm Pillar. There were times I used both these powers in preference to my encounter powers. Storm pillar is very situational (and very nice when it works). But freezing burst was an at will AoE that did decent damage, slid people, and that I could fairly happily ground-zero with two cold-resistant party members.
But what links almost all the at will powers I pick is that they aren't simple stabs.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 06:15 PM #23
Lama (Lvl 13)
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 07:54 PM #24
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
I should clarify: it's not that at-will powers are junk (which I wrote in haste); it's that at-will powers that replace your basic attacks are junk. In my experience, players want to say "I attack." They don't want to look through a list of special attacks they can do. They just want to attack with a very normal attack.
If you want to create an at-will power that does something differently from stabbing, that's fine, but don't create an at-will stab that is a stab with a piddly bit difference.
Last edited by B.T.; Sunday, 30th September, 2012 at 07:59 PM.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 08:10 PM #25
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
(a) This one baffles me and I've heard this one before. The position must boil down to (i) "leisure pursuits should be lacking in any complexity" or (ii) "RPG mechanics should be lacking in any complexity" rather than (iii) "At-will powers are too complex for the innumerable deltas the world over." We live in societies where algebra should be mastered by 6th graders. In light of that, how in the world are At-will powers complex? Its objectively not true. 1[W] + [relevant modifier] and some effect specific to the role of the class. Bursts and blasts follow the same rule except against multiple targets. What could be more intuitive? We understand the number "1". "W" is weapon dice (or its explicated as an implement attack) and the relevant effect is fully fleshed out. It takes minimal comprehension. Now if you want to say (i) or (ii) rather than (iii) than that is a matter of preference...and I agree with neither. My PCs are your standard business professionals (an accountant turned air traffic controller, an IT professional, a Chemist). They are slightly above average intelligence but there are no geniuses here. If we're setting the bar so low as to say that At-will powers are objectively complex then, wow, we are in a very sad state of being. If we can expect 6th graders to master Algebra then I don't think expecting mastery of At-wills to be asking too much.
(b) I think this comes from a long-standing mis-allocation of the value of intangibles versus the easily discernible value of intangibles. This is a long refrain in human history as the service industry (lending or moving goods to out of the way areas specifically) has long had its value misunderstood and those who have performed these services have been castigated for advantaging them and expecting a return. The effect of damage has 1st order sensory input. It requires no 2nd or 3rd order evaluation in order to understand the effect of HP attrition. The implications of "control and buff effects" on the total, relative action economy output of two sides is more complex...therefore more easily misunderstood (for better or worse). The value of damage is great because, yes, "the greatest status effect is dead." However, a well-played, potent controller/leader/defender will change the scope/script of a battle, through 2nd and 3rd order implications on total action economy output that a striker cannot touch. Is "damage more fun?" I don't know. Maybe. Again, that is preference. I know plenty of folks who love playing controllers/leaders/defenders because they find them not only more fun but that their intangible output on encounter dynamics vastly outweighs that of a striker.
(c) This is a tough one. There are only so many ways you get tactical depth into a game. If abilities are just permanent or all end of encounter then suddenly they lose their tactical depth. You just throw them out there at the beginning of the encounter because you want to leverage their effects for as many rounds as possible. There is no "right time" that must be adjudicated by a tactical minded player. There is only a "wrong time" in that case; any time after "as soon as possible." If the choice is (i) lose this round by round tactical depth and lose the book-keeping versus (ii) keep the book-keeping but keep the round by round tactical depth...I'll easily take (ii). This, like most things in DMing is just developing the acumen and improving on your efficiency/multi-tasking capability. I personally found long-term buffs and the adjudication of their length relative to the pace of the game that you have set forth to be 3 times as maddening (as I had to keep them in mind as we're moving along for several hours worth of play...and many of those buffs were enormously impactful and must be sitting in the forefront of your mind as a GM as they interacted intensely with all scenes and the limits of PC's perceptive, and other, capibilities) and considerably more open to "PC-negotiation/bartering" (and there is little more that I hate as a DM than keeping all of these game-altering effects in the forefront of my mind for an entire session while trying to focus on optimizing my creative reservoir and creating good fiction for the PCs to interact with...and the inevitable pace and immersion defiling effects of negotiating with PCs, when negotiation of open-ended effects is warranted.).
(d) I absolutely agree on this one. There is little I want more in my combats than a mobile dynamic combat that works out of standard action economy rules. "Rock-em, sock-em robots", zero-movement, "stop-action combat" is gut-wrenchingly boring and un-immersive (my opinion, not a fact). Immediate actions broke the "stop-action" aspect and simulated combatants' ability to dynamically respond to threats/combat scenarios (specifically in ways that play to archetype). Forced movement broke the "rock-em, sock-em robots", "zero-movement" aspect of things and simulated combatants ability to either (i) subtly wrong-foot opponents through great footwork, manipulate opponents through fakes, feints, dekes and aggressive sword-play, etc or to (ii) physically impose one's self onto another person (shouldering them, pushing them, shield-bashing them, etc) or (iii) grab someone by their jerkin or their arm and throw them or pull them etc. Further, it allowed for all manner of spell-casting ability to dynamically do the same (iv) (either through physical impact, causing enemies to panic from fire, etc, telekinesis or fear/illusory effects). I absolutely love the advent of i - iv.
If "right time" battlefield control options, immediate actions, forced movement, tactical mobility (shifts, etc) are unavailable for a wide breadth of classes (module I'm sure) in 5e, there is absolutely no way I'll have any interest in the product. I won't play a combat-centered RPG where the tactical depth or dynamism of play that I'm now accustomed to is unrealized.
Last edited by Manbearcat; Sunday, 30th September, 2012 at 08:37 PM.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 08:33 PM #26
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
If we can expect 6th graders to master Algebra than I don't think expecting mastery of At-wills to be asking too much.
There was one very clearly dumb player in the 4e game I played. The other two I'm unsure of, but they didn't really "grok" things like Sly Flourish. When the rogue had his dagger attack written on his sheet, he didn't "get" rolling Dexterity vs. AC and adding 1[W] + Dexterity + Charisma. He kept rolling his basic melee attack.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 08:46 PM #27
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
Do you think it would have worked better if you'd renamed "Sly Flourish" something like "Sneaky Stab" - and/or made it an MBA? Because Sly Flourish basically is the rogue's standard attack power if they have it.
Oh, and my suggestion to vastly improve that game would be to try to convince the warlord player to play a Knight. It sounds as if it's roughtly what he wants to play and should prevent him getting confused - knights only have basic attacks and stances. On the other hand whenever (1/turn) anyone next to the knight does something other than attack the knight the knight gets a free swing.
Try to move away? Free swing. Try to shift away? Free swing. Try to attack someone else? Free swing. Try to take an opportunity attack on the rogue because the rogue just mooned them knowing that this will provide distraction for the knight? Free swing. One free swing/round and you're ahead of the strikers in the damage stakes.
1: Sly Flourish being the rogue's main attack. The rogue should always have come with a viable MBA and this is IMO a design defect in the class.
2: The Druid with a situational At Will that wasn't right for that situation. (Did he have all three at will powers he was entitled to)
3: A confused Warlord by the sounds of things.
(b) I think this comes from a long-standing mis-allocation of the value of intangibles versus the easily discernible value of intangibles.
This means that one of the four roles wasn't in play, and two were playing to their weaknesses. Of course strikers appeared the strongest. It has nothing to do with intangibles, just the case study.
(c) This is a tough one. There are only so many ways you get tactical depth into a game. If abilities are just permanent or all end of encounter then suddenly they lose their tactical depth.
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 08:50 PM #28
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 08:59 PM #29
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
Accepting what you say as true then I don't care to accommodate the "least-common-denominator" in the least bit. If this is true then I absolutely (and implacably) hold that this is a matter of industry and will rather than genetic deficiency. We do not have a gigantic horde of genetically inferior fools walking amongst us. We very likely have a large swath of lazy (intellectually and otherwise) people amongst us as laziness, lack of industry and willingness to get away with whatever the greater cultural body lets you get away with is as fundamental to human primal programming as breathing. I'm not interesting in incentivizing or catering to poor behavior. If you cannot put forth the absurdly minimal, requisite mental exertion to learn a transparent and intuitive rule-set (that you are pro-actively, willfully, investing in as a leisure pursuit and therefore acknowledging that it is in some way important to you and further acknowledging that you are accepting the social accord of courtesy toward the others who are investing their own time), then I have no interest in being "inclusive" of your interests (and thus enabling that sort of behavior and contributing to the feedback). To be honest, I find the entitled expectations of the lazy and the parasitic to be repugnant (Full disclosure: I have a lot of close personal experience with this, and the emotional baggage that comes with it, as a former sibling, now dead from suicide after birthing 3 children and contributing nothing but misery to their lives, held me and my family hostage for 30 + years with this exact modus operandi. Beyond that, I see it at my work and other areas of my life regularly. Its absolutely destructive to the host body and punishes the "good" and "responsible" and "duty-bound".).
There is no such thing as being "unable" to learn the concept of At-wills given the ridiculously low-bar of intellectual requirement for the mechanic. "Unwilling?" Ok. I'll accept that as the explanation. However, I won't accept that willful, poor behavior as the demographic that should be primarily catered to in the design of anything (game design or other).
Sunday, 30th September, 2012, 09:20 PM #30
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
I just said that "losing it entirely" solves "book-keeping" issues while provoking a new problem; the loss of "right-now, pro-active, tactical decision-making with regards to buff/control/status effects."
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