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D&D 4E [4e Clone] Scaling Powers! (?)

C4

Explorer
In the 'Will there be a 4.75e?' thread, @Dungeoneer and @Tony Vargas inspired me to revisit the idea of scaling encounter and daily powers so that the game doesn't need so darn many of them. (Some of which are simply scaled-up versions of lower-level powers to begin with.) Though I didn't initially realize it, this is a difficult thing to do well, but I think I've finally found an elegant solution:

Instead of PCs gaining two encounter and two daily powers per tier, and needing to retrain old ones away starting at 13th level, they gain just one of each per tier. No retraining. (Unless a player wants to, of course!) I'll have to rejigger the character advancement table, but there are enough goodies that I can just avoid dead levels.

This means that PCs still end up with 2/4/4/7 by 30th level, but the accumulation of powers will be more gradual. Monster HP have already been trimmed down, so combat length shouldn't be an issue. It also means that there's no real need to categorize attack powers by level, which is a huge deal to me because it means I don't have to write nearly so many of them!

So my questions are:
  • Am I missing some problem that I should be seeing with this idea?
  • Would you want attack powers to be tied directly to PPs and EDs, or would you want them in larger a la carte power lists?

(I should mention two things that are already different about powers: 1) 1st level encounter and daily powers come in tightly thematic build-bundles, and 2) Power pools will be by power source rather than class.)
 

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C4

Explorer
Going to bump this thread, 'cause I don't think I mentioned Dungeoneer and @Tony Vargas correctly the first time.

EDIT: Wow, either my computer or this site hate me trying to mention people. I've no idea how 'Dungeoneer' gets turned into 'Morrus.' :confused:
 
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I think that might lead to heroic level getting 'boring' for lack of powers.

IMX, the 1st level 4e character really needs the additional powers at 2nd and 3rd to stay interesting to the player. One encounter & back to at wills unless you blow your one daily gets you royally sick of your at-wills. Waiting for Paragon to expand your repertoire would be asking for a lot of patience.

Though, I agree that it is an /elegant/ solution. It's simple to remember and uniform.


Maybe, in the alternate progression, start PCs with 2 at-wills and 2 encounters? Or maybe put gaining encounters in Heroic, but gaining dailies in Paragon & Epic?

In any case, I assume you're leaving utilities about the same - gained at all tiers, but not scaled or re-trained?
 

Dungeoneer

First Post
In the 'Will there be a 4.75e?' thread, @Dungeoneer and @Tony Vargas inspired me to revisit the idea of scaling encounter and daily powers so that the game doesn't need so darn many of them. (Some of which are simply scaled-up versions of lower-level powers to begin with.) Though I didn't initially realize it, this is a difficult thing to do well, but I think I've finally found an elegant solution:

Instead of PCs gaining two encounter and two daily powers per tier, and needing to retrain old ones away starting at 13th level, they gain just one of each per tier. No retraining. (Unless a player wants to, of course!) I'll have to rejigger the character advancement table, but there are enough goodies that I can just avoid dead levels.

This means that PCs still end up with 2/4/4/7 by 30th level, but the accumulation of powers will be more gradual. Monster HP have already been trimmed down, so combat length shouldn't be an issue. It also means that there's no real need to categorize attack powers by level, which is a huge deal to me because it means I don't have to write nearly so many of them!

So my questions are:
  • Am I missing some problem that I should be seeing with this idea?
  • Would you want attack powers to be tied directly to PPs and EDs, or would you want them in larger a la carte power lists?

(I should mention two things that are already different about powers: 1) 1st level encounter and daily powers come in tightly thematic build-bundles, and 2) Power pools will be by power source rather than class.)

I think that might lead to heroic level getting 'boring' for lack of powers.

IMX, the 1st level 4e character really needs the additional powers at 2nd and 3rd to stay interesting to the player. One encounter & back to at wills unless you blow your one daily gets you royally sick of your at-wills. Waiting for Paragon to expand your repertoire would be asking for a lot of patience.

I dunno, people have been playing D&D fighters for a long time and acquiring NO powers as they level and it seems like it's been okay. It seems like for certain classes this would be acceptable. And I should say that I'm not recommending this for EVERY class. Casters still need to pull new spells on a regular basis.

Anyway, I think the other key is to make the scaling powers ROBUST. That is to say that they are a) satisfyingly effective and b) maybe have some options baked into them. It might also be necessary in some cases to do more than simply scale up the damage every tier. You might need to add or change rider effects, number of targets, things like that.

As for tying powers to PPs and EDs, I honestly don't know. I think you would have to try both ways and see how it felt. I see the appeal of both being able to freely select powers and having nice, thematic packs of powers.

At the end of the day, the guiding principle should be that any given power should make the player really feel like they are embodying their class when used. A fighter's powers should make them feel like a fighter. A rogue's powers should make them feel like a rogue.

I think if that's working it doesn't really matter too much whether they get to select from fifteen different powers every other level or not. Besides which, there are only actually a handful of good powers at any given decision point, so all that supposed choice was really just for show.
 

C4

Explorer
I think that might lead to heroic level getting 'boring' for lack of powers.
You're right, this is a concern.

There are a few factors that will hopefully render it a non-issue in play -- reduced monster hit points, as I mentioned, as well as 'page 42' guidelines that equate stunting with encounter powers rather than at-wills, and finally a different magic item strategy. PCs will get more consumables, fewer permanent items, but item powers will be more dramatic. Daily item power = daily class power, etc..

Still, you're right, staggering the accumulation of class powers does have the potential to create a less exciting heroic tier. At the very least, I'll place encounter and daily powers early in each tier rather than later.

In any case, I assume you're leaving utilities about the same - gained at all tiers, but not scaled or re-trained?
I may drop one of the heroic tier utilities to make it an even two per tier, but otherwise yes, I'm leaving the accumulation of utilities as-is. I should mention that utilities are all actual utility powers, rather than mostly combat powers.
 

I dunno, people have been playing D&D fighters for a long time and acquiring NO powers as they level and it seems like it's been okay.
Lol!

Seriously, though, 3e fighters got two feats to start and another every-other level. They could be used to expand options pretty dramatically by level 6. And, classic D&D fighters were supposed to be constantly getting new magic items - the treasure tables were pretty heavily weighted in favor of stuff they could use.

So there's always been some attempts at keeping the fighter interesting, even if they didn't often work that well - contributing to the game falling out of it's 'sweet spot' before double-digit levels in most eds.

At the end of the day, the guiding principle should be that any given power should make the player really feel like they are embodying their class when used. A fighter's powers should make them feel like a fighter. A rogue's powers should make them feel like a rogue.
Fine and dandy, as long as we define the class by it's Source, Role, and, most importantly, archetype, not by it's (sometimes abysmal) past performance.
 

C4

Explorer
I dunno, people have been playing D&D fighters for a long time and acquiring NO powers as they level and it seems like it's been okay. It seems like for certain classes this would be acceptable. And I should say that I'm not recommending this for EVERY class. Casters still need to pull new spells on a regular basis.
While I very much want to keep everyone on the same power schedule by default, there will be feats and/or variants for players who like to have many options. They won't have any more 'power slots' than other PCs, of course, but a character could collect powers the way pre-4e wizards collect spells.

At the end of the day, the guiding principle should be that any given power should make the player really feel like they are embodying their class when used. A fighter's powers should make them feel like a fighter. A rogue's powers should make them feel like a rogue.
Well said. :)
 

PCs will get more consumables, fewer permanent items, but item powers will be more dramatic. Daily item power = daily class power, etc..
Not sure item dependency is a great idea. One thing I liked about 4e was the ability to punch the 'inherent bonuses' button and run a low- or even no-magic game. You could even run a campaign w/o casters, at all, and still have things work relatively well.

Still, you're right, staggering the accumulation of class powers does have the potential to create a less exciting heroic tier. At the very least, I'll place encounter and daily powers early in each tier rather than later.
Nod. I think a big part of the problem is that the number of choices a player will enjoy facing doesn't increase radically as they go through the higher levels. But, for new players, it /does/ increase quickly as they learn the game. So, very few powers at low heroic, expanding quickly is more for newer players, and the re-training is so even experienced players don't get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of in-combat choices.


I may drop one of the heroic tier utilities to make it an even two per tier, but otherwise yes, I'm leaving the accumulation of utilities as-is. I should mention that utilities are all actual utility powers, rather than mostly combat powers.
Adjusting utilities to be actual non-combat abilities sounds great. Even splitting some powers and features by 'Pillar' might be a good idea.
 

keterys

First Post
If you're making Utility powers strictly non-combat, you can actually afford to give out more powers - ex: two per tier, instead, but have them eat up some of the options people used to use combat utilities for.
 

If you wanted to, you could go so far as equally weighting the pillars.

So each character might get:

Combat: 2 at-will attack powers and a combat-applicable skill.

Interaction: A background with social benefits and two interaction-applicable skills.

Exploration: 3 exploration skills.

And gain as they level:

combat: 2 encounter attack powers/tier

Interaction: A 'favor,' 'ally' or privilege/tier that can be called upon 1/scene, and an encounter interaction utility/tier

exploration: 2 encounter exploration utilities/tier


Then, dailies, as part of their awesomeness, could be dual- or multi-pillar in use.
 


MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I still think that is too much reinventing the wheel. And yes I also think that just two powers of each kind through heroic is too few.

In my own design I started thinking on removing scaling all together from the powers, all you get at higher levels is the chance to swap for a power with better riders, better targeting or better usage that were just too much for lower levels (or the chance to get what was a daily as an encounter power). In this way there is an actual qualitative improvement.

The actual scaling of damage comes on its own. Basically allowing strikers to add their full level to damage and non-strikers half their level. (well at least mathwise, strikers would add half their level, and the striker mechanic count for the other half)

This may come as weird, but actually a meager dice of scaling is too little compared to the evergrowing static modifiers, striker mechanic growth and extra critical dice from magic weapons/implements. Taking all that out of the powers leaves less more distinctive powers and erases all competence between them. A high damaging power at first level remains high damaging across the board.
 

And, of course, change it too much, and it's not really a 'clone.' Since you can't outright lift any existing class from 4e, for instance, you might present some more generic means by which existing classes could be approximated.
 

C4

Explorer
Not sure item dependency is a great idea. One thing I liked about 4e was the ability to punch the 'inherent bonuses' button and run a low- or even no-magic game. You could even run a campaign w/o casters, at all, and still have things work relatively well.
Same here; in fact I went ahead and wrote enhancement bonuses right out of the game. :D

The magic-item sweet spot I'm aiming for is 'A game without them is like Hard mode; a game that follows my guidelines is like Normal mode; and a Monty Haul game is like Beginner's mode.'
 

Dungeoneer

First Post
Lol!

Seriously, though, 3e fighters got two feats to start and another every-other level. They could be used to expand options pretty dramatically by level 6. And, classic D&D fighters were supposed to be constantly getting new magic items - the treasure tables were pretty heavily weighted in favor of stuff they could use.

So there's always been some attempts at keeping the fighter interesting, even if they didn't often work that well - contributing to the game falling out of it's 'sweet spot' before double-digit levels in most eds.

Fine and dandy, as long as we define the class by it's Source, Role, and, most importantly, archetype, not by it's (sometimes abysmal) past performance.
It's possible you're reading something here I'm not saying - that Fighters should be underpowered or that all they should be able to do is hit things. That's not it at all. But I think that early on in 4e the answer to the question "How do you make non-casters interesting?" was "Give them a zillion powers to pick from!!!" I don't believe that that is the only answer or even the best answer.

I honestly don't have TOO much interest in coming up with a 4e 'Heartbreaker' because I already have one and it's called 13th Age. In that game the classes all work very differently, yet all of them are more interesting than "I hit it with my sword" and they also balance fairly well. But even within 4e we see that there are different ways you can approach the problem. Psionics showed another great approach to building classes. Essentials had some good ideas as well. I would recommend stealing from all three of these sources and coming up with new ideas too, rather than building every class as "modified AEDU".
 

It's possible you're reading something here I'm not saying - that Fighters should be underpowered or that all they should be able to do is hit things. That's not it at all. But I think that early on in 4e the answer to the question "How do you make non-casters interesting?" was "Give them a zillion powers to pick from!!!" I don't believe that that is the only answer or even the best answer.
To be fair, it's more like a few powers at each decision point, totaling hundreds only across all levels and after /two/ Martial Powers books.

It's also the way to make casters more interesting: /reduced/ them to just a few (or 10 or 16) spells, each chosen from a fairly small list, instead of 'zillions' (actually only a thousand or few).

Funny how that works out. I think humans just don't like being choice-less or overwhelmed with too many choices. The range of 3-6 seems pretty good, with another 3-6 once the first set become too familiar.

I honestly don't have TOO much interest in coming up with a 4e 'Heartbreaker' because I already have one and it's called 13th Age. In that game the classes all work very differently, yet all of them are more interesting than "I hit it with my sword" and they also balance fairly well.
I've only played 13A 3 times, but each time, while the system was nice, the class I was playing proved disappointing. The cleric was too Vancian, for instance, and the fighter was just - sad. I've gone into it elsewhere, but the poor fighter pre-gen had 7 things chosen for it, and in the course of 3 exciting battles with an excellent DM, none of those 7 things had /any/ impact on the game whatsoever. Might as well not have had 'em. (The third class was Paladin, and the game was short, but it had an ability that actually did something 1/encounter +several/day - it would have gotten old fast.) I'm optimistic about 13TWs, though. FWIW.

But even within 4e we see that there are different ways you can approach the problem. Psionics showed another great approach to building classes. Essentials had some good ideas as well. I would recommend stealing from all three of these sources and coming up with new ideas too, rather than building every class as "modified AEDU".
Psionics was cute because it did follow AEDU, but re-jiggered in such a way that it looked and felt different. There's a lot could be done with tricks like that.
 

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