D&D Next Q&A 9 August

nogray

Adventurer
There's also potential for the 3rd Edition problem where a high level fighter had a higher chance of critical failure than a low level fighter.

What is this "critical failure" of which you speak?

I mean sure, you can add a house rule for critical failures, and I think it might have been an optional rule discussed in one of the sidebars (p. 28 of one of the DMGs, apparently; it comes with a lot of cautions, even then), but core 3.x editions didn't have any fumble mechanics. A natural 1 was an automatic miss on attacks, but it didn't carry any additional negative effects.

If you did add such a house rule, it might behoove you to also add in some sort of confirmation roll similar to that required for a critical hit. (So natural 1 --> roll again --I'd recommend at full normal attack bonus-- if a miss, then you have a critical fail; I don't care for the DC10 dexterity check in the sidebar I mentioned.) You might also rule that only the first or last in an iterative sequence could be a critical failure, meaning that there is only one chance to fumble per round regardless of your iterative attacks.

If you have fumbles (that do something meaningfully bad to the fumbling attacker), then the critical hits should be more meaningful, too, and not just extra damage. They should also occur much less often, in my opinion, than 1-in-20 times (modified by whatever confirmation rolls you have in place). More like 1-in-100 or 1-in-1000, or even less. If otherwise, then combats between (semi-)trained (quasi-)professionals becomes (once again, in my opinion) a bit too slapstick.

In general, this points to why I am not in favor of such house rules. I think fumbles should be left out. (Except possibly for weapon breakage in Athas, and I liked the 4e version there, making it a player choice with some benefit added on to tempt the player to make that decision, upon occasion.)

Just my thoughts. :)

Edit to add:
And to address the OP, I like what I've read about the Combat Superiority dice; it's the one of the most interesting things I've seen about Next, so far. IMO, of course. I'd like fighters to have this sort of interesting choice to make each round.
 
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Vael

Hero
It could be at low levels if combat got too long. Once the encounter powers were gone, and it was an at-will slugfest. But at least there were the initial encounter powers, and often PCs kept something back.
 

Cadfan

First Post
To any 4e players: was that a problem with at-will powers?
Not really. A mid level 4e character has 4 encounter attack powers. Some might be a little niche, but encounter powers are usually fairly broad in application. Further, you'll probably end up picking one at will power for damage, and one for special circumstances you expect to see frequently. So in a given fight, 4 to 6 rounds will be taken up by something other than a need to deal maximal damage with an at will power.

And that's assuming you don't spend any standard actions on utility effects, daily powers, or item powers.

So no, you don't end up with too much at will spam after the early levels. And even then it only shows up in fights that have gone wrong from a design perspective, where the combat lasts more rounds than it should.
 

Lokiare

Banned
Banned
I agree. 4E moved in the right direction with 'encounter' powers, but it needed some mechanic to recharge them in the middle of battle so during long battles they could be re-used.

In Aetherianica (the game I'm in the process of making). You get 2-3 encounter powers per encounter, but you can sacrifice Endurance to gain the re-use of your powers.

It allows a balance between long and short encounters and the way its set up in Aetherianica it even allows any number of encounters in a given day with no reliance on end of day restoration for anything but hit points.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Not really. A mid level 4e character has 4 encounter attack powers. Some might be a little niche, but encounter powers are usually fairly broad in application. Further, you'll probably end up picking one at will power for damage, and one for special circumstances you expect to see frequently. So in a given fight, 4 to 6 rounds will be taken up by something other than a need to deal maximal damage with an at will power.

And that's assuming you don't spend any standard actions on utility effects, daily powers, or item powers.

So no, you don't end up with too much at will spam after the early levels. And even then it only shows up in fights that have gone wrong from a design perspective, where the combat lasts more rounds than it should.
That's not really what I meant. In 5e, the fighter will probably not get daily or encounter powers.

What I meant was, is there often a situation where one of a character's at-will powers is so good that he never uses the other one? I always played casters in 4e, and there was a big difference between Magic Missile and Scorching Burst, but what about for the fighty types?

The reason I ask is that the design team is likely to balance the game using 4e technology, so if it worked in 4e, it'll probably be fine in 5e.
 

To any 4e players: was that a problem with at-will powers?
Not generally (Twin-Strike may be a good problem example), because you had two different options, and the effects of at-wills were minor. In 3E, these abilities became too strong - being able to trip an enemy every round in a game system where you take AoOs for standing up and grant +4 to attacks when you are prone, and lose a full attack when you stand up, it was just too strong.
 

That's not really what I meant. In 5e, the fighter will probably not get daily or encounter powers.

What I meant was, is there often a situation where one of a character's at-will powers is so good that he never uses the other one? I always played casters in 4e, and there was a big difference between Magic Missile and Scorching Burst, but what about for the fighty types?

The reason I ask is that the design team is likely to balance the game using 4e technology, so if it worked in 4e, it'll probably be fine in 5e.
The bad apple would probably be Twin Strike here, and Psionics became also problematic. For other classes, I usually found there was always a reason to branch out and use different at-wills.

But it is important to realize that 4E did give the player more than 2 at-wills - the encounters and dailies matter a lot as well to make the game "non-spammy". The fact that you could use them only once each per encounter ensured that you could not spam your favorite move. Psionics reintroduced that problem into 4E, basically.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Not generally (Twin-Strike may be a good problem example), because you had two different options, and the effects of at-wills were minor. In 3E, these abilities became too strong - being able to trip an enemy every round in a game system where you take AoOs for standing up and grant +4 to attacks when you are prone, and lose a full attack when you stand up, it was just too strong.
Oh, I see -- 4e took all the problem mechanics like knockdown, stun, etc. and made sure at-will powers couldn't do any of those. It's okay if encounter or daily powers do those, because they're a limited resource. But in a 3e-like system with tactical maneuvers, you pretty much need to have an at-will knockdown attack, and that's difficult to balance.
 

braro

Explorer
There was actually an at will knockdown for the fighter; the trade off in damage, though, has made it very seldom worth it IME.
 

Cadfan

First Post
Oh, I see -- 4e took all the problem mechanics like knockdown, stun, etc. and made sure at-will powers couldn't do any of those. It's okay if encounter or daily powers do those, because they're a limited resource. But in a 3e-like system with tactical maneuvers, you pretty much need to have an at-will knockdown attack, and that's difficult to balance.

Actually, there are 4e at will powers with knockdown, but the damage is incredibly low relative to other at will powers. For example, our level 2 fighter in the current game I'm running has the following at will attack options:

+8 v ac, 1d12+5, reroll 1s and 2s on damage
+10 v ac, 1d12+8, reroll 1s and 2s, but grant combat advantage
+8 v fortitude, 4 damage, knock the target prone

If you're really sharp, you can use the knock prone attack to deny your enemy an attack about every other round. Knock him prone, shift back a space. He stands, but cannot charge a target only one space away... so he loses an attack. On your next turn you'll have to fight him fairly, because if you shift in and hit him he'll just stand up and hit you back, and if you don't attack he'll just walk over and hit you. But then you can repeat the process.

That's not really what I meant. In 5e, the fighter will probably not get daily or encounter powers.

What I meant was, is there often a situation where one of a character's at-will powers is so good that he never uses the other one? I always played casters in 4e, and there was a big difference between Magic Missile and Scorching Burst, but what about for the fighty types?

The reason I ask is that the design team is likely to balance the game using 4e technology, so if it worked in 4e, it'll probably be fine in 5e.

The answer is... sort of? You don't notice it much because of all the aforementioned encounter and daily powers. Lets say that one of your at will powers is really situational, and the other is usually better. If a fight lasts 8 rounds, you'll still probably only go for the better at will power maybe... three times?

The other key is that most at will powers are balanced by being situational. So if you have one go-to power that you use when you just want to hurt something, you don't feel like its overpowered compared to your situational one so long as the situation comes up every so often. My own fighter, from back in the day, had three at will attacks (human, old rules):

Hit the enemy, deal regular damage, shift one, draw the enemy into your previous space
Hit the enemy, deal regular damage, deal light damage to another adjacent enemy
Hit the enemy, deal regular damage, gain temporary hit points.

The third might slightly overshadow the other, but the others are valuable in their own way. If a fight was poorly set up, I might end up spamming the last one until the bad guy's hit points went away. I'm un-fondly remembering a regenerating werewolf here that took twenty minutes of just battering away at it until it collapsed. I'm sure I spammed the last one above like mad. But that was an unusual situation.

There are certainly classes that do spam the same at will. But here's my experience of classes in play:

Ranger- spams twin strike because its AMAZING, but has chosen a very situational secondary at will. This makes sense, if your favorite does incredible damage, you pick a weird, situational back up that won't overlap with the first.

Cleric- spams an attack that gives temp hp, because its disproportionately good compared to her other at will options.

Wizard- does not spam. Both choices have too much utility for that.

Paladin- does not spam.

Fighter- does not spam.

Rogue- a little but not a lot. One at will is better for damage, but the other is for repositioning. He needs combat advantage, so he uses the latter a lot against enemies who his team can't pin into one place.

Avenger- does spam, because at wills are the weak point in the Avenger design.

Druid- does not spam. The druid rewards shifting forms frequently, so she literally doesn't have the same at wills round by round.

Shaman- does spam, but has so much else going on that you'd never notice. INCREDIBLY complex class to play.

Invoker- a little spam. Has a multi-target spell, and a single target spell. Spams whichever is appropriate. Technically uses a good mix, but the at wills are a little flavorless so it feels more spammy than it really is.

Psion- feels more spammy than it really is because the psionics core mechanic involves "augmenting" your at will powers. So your encounter powers don't feel quite as different as you might like.

The others I don't have enough experience with to really comment. And mind you, this is using a 4e conception of spam- by 3e standards where your fightery types have one core attack they've carefully cultivated and now use every round, none of these classes spams.
 

Argyle King

Legend
What is this "critical failure" of which you speak?

I mean sure, you can add a house rule for critical failures, and I think it might have been an optional rule discussed in one of the sidebars (p. 28 of one of the DMGs, apparently; it comes with a lot of cautions, even then), but core 3.x editions didn't have any fumble mechanics. A natural 1 was an automatic miss on attacks, but it didn't carry any additional negative effects.

If you did add such a house rule, it might behoove you to also add in some sort of confirmation roll similar to that required for a critical hit. (So natural 1 --> roll again --I'd recommend at full normal attack bonus-- if a miss, then you have a critical fail; I don't care for the DC10 dexterity check in the sidebar I mentioned.) You might also rule that only the first or last in an iterative sequence could be a critical failure, meaning that there is only one chance to fumble per round regardless of your iterative attacks.

If you have fumbles (that do something meaningfully bad to the fumbling attacker), then the critical hits should be more meaningful, too, and not just extra damage. They should also occur much less often, in my opinion, than 1-in-20 times (modified by whatever confirmation rolls you have in place). More like 1-in-100 or 1-in-1000, or even less. If otherwise, then combats between (semi-)trained (quasi-)professionals becomes (once again, in my opinion) a bit too slapstick.

In general, this points to why I am not in favor of such house rules. I think fumbles should be left out. (Except possibly for weapon breakage in Athas, and I liked the 4e version there, making it a player choice with some benefit added on to tempt the player to make that decision, upon occasion.)

Just my thoughts. :)


Personally -and as I've mentioned in other threads- I think the problem is the lack of a bell curve with a 1d20 roll and how that interacts with multiple rolls; not rules for fumbles and criticals.

I am someone who is in favor of such rules; though, I am in favor of them because I have played other rpgs in which they work and work well.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Which also highlights the likely problem with it - spamming the optimum move over and over again.

In 3E, a good move was often to use your lower attack bonuses for a trip - if you had Improved Trip and a Tripping weapon at least, otherwise you should only use it if you're superior to your enemy in the first place and your only goal is making it difficult for him to run away.

CS might very well have this problem, but I think it is a more stable structure from which to avoid it than feats. That is, the challenge for CS is to make it so that several of the specializations at the top are fairly close to the same power, and then not stack them with other specializations. Whereas with feats, they almost had to stack. So the more feats you have, the harder it gets to manage them.

When a player chooses fighter, they choose also combat superiority. This means that they necessarily (at least as discussed thus far) become somewhat better at hitting, defense, and whatever other special options exist. Whereas with feats, the fighter can go full bore on something like trip specialization and make it too good to not use all the time.

Of course, I realize that in 3E it was more than just feats. The various weapon properties, magic items, etc. also adds to the puzzle. CS does nothing to solve that part. And presumably, the inevitable bloat of CS specialties will eventually break it, too. However, one would hope that any CS picks that stack will be put off until a much higher level, vastly expanding the range at which the basic structure will perform well.

Edit: You could presumably get something roughly equivalent to CS in 3E by house ruling certain feats to have more power and/or utility, but then putting them in packages so that no character could readily stack the problem ones. Or you could redo the feat trees so that every feat gave minor bonuses to a wider range of things. Instead of "Improved Trip" being super, and same with a bunch of other feats, you might have a "Tier 1 Weapon Tricks" feat that gave a modest bonus to tripping, bull rush, disarm, etc. It's another way of forcing several things to improve gradually together.
 
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To any 4e players: was that a problem with at-will powers?

Only a few - some were badly designed. Twin Strike was worth spamming over and over (most powerful at will in the game). And some classes (Charisma-Paladin) took one at will that gave them a melee basic attack and used the other most of the time. Others (Hexblade) had one melee and one ranged when they couldn't use the melee. Finally my invoker took one treble target power and one single target ranged basic attack.

But with encounter powers even this was minimised - most classes (other than the ranger) aren't even going to start spamming the at wills before they use up their encounter powers (one at first level, two at third, three at seventh, four at eleventh). And by the end of round 4 the fight is normally over for practical purposes anyway.

What I meant was, is there often a situation where one of a character's at-will powers is so good that he never uses the other one?

Ranger with Twin Strike, Invoker with Hand of Radiance and the Power of the Moon feat. Possibly Wild Sorcerors with Chaos Bolt. I'm trying to think of a fourth. (Edit: Vicious mockery doesn't count, however fun it is. That's just a case of not wanting to use another At Will).

There were also some reasons to take a comparatively bad second at will. Notably Warlocks being forced to take Eldritch Blast, and Charisma Paladins taking a power to give themselves a melee basic attack which meant they had a decent opportunity attack or charge attack.

Oh, I see -- 4e took all the problem mechanics like knockdown, stun, etc. and made sure at-will powers couldn't do any of those.

Several classes have at will knockdowns IIRC. I'm sure about Fighters and Monks, and think that Warlords also do. (And thieves but those are an Essentials class). The fighter does very low damage (stat modifier only, meaning no bonus damage for either weapon type, enhancement bonus, or iron armbands of power), and the monk has both the lowest damage the worst maneuverability of any of his powers with this (although does at least get to roll damage).

Knockdown isn't quite as powerful in 4e as 3.X - no opportunity attack for standing.
 

ZombieRoboNinja

First Post
Oh, I see -- 4e took all the problem mechanics like knockdown, stun, etc. and made sure at-will powers couldn't do any of those. It's okay if encounter or daily powers do those, because they're a limited resource. But in a 3e-like system with tactical maneuvers, you pretty much need to have an at-will knockdown attack, and that's difficult to balance.

I think they're paying a lot more attention to the action economy of special attacks now than they were in 3e.

That is, they've already said that "it should cost an action to gain/grant advantage on an attack," so the rogue can't just stand in a flanking position and get Sneak Attack damage every round.

By extension, I think they'd be very careful about any power that granted extra attacks against an enemy or took away their turn. And the restriction of one reaction per round (which I'm betting includes CS powers like Riposte) helps this as well.

And for what it's worth, under the current playtest rules a knockdown strike would be pretty weak, just costing the enemy 5 feet of movement to stand up with no AoOs. Same with push/pull attacks like Tide of Iron in a system that's not nearly as finicky about AoOs and five-foot steps: great for shoving enemies off a cliff or pushing your way through the enemy lines, but probably not as exploitable as in 4e.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Only a few - some were badly designed. Twin Strike was worth spamming over and over (most powerful at will in the game). And some classes (Charisma-Paladin) took one at will that gave them a melee basic attack and used the other most of the time. Others (Hexblade) had one melee and one ranged when they couldn't use the melee. Finally my invoker took one treble target power and one single target ranged basic attack.

But with encounter powers even this was minimised - most classes (other than the ranger) aren't even going to start spamming the at wills before they use up their encounter powers (one at first level, two at third, three at seventh, four at eleventh). And by the end of round 4 the fight is normally over for practical purposes anyway.



Ranger with Twin Strike, Invoker with Hand of Radiance and the Power of the Moon feat. Possibly Wild Sorcerors with Chaos Bolt. I'm trying to think of a fourth. (Edit: Vicious mockery doesn't count, however fun it is. That's just a case of not wanting to use another At Will).

There were also some reasons to take a comparatively bad second at will. Notably Warlocks being forced to take Eldritch Blast, and Charisma Paladins taking a power to give themselves a melee basic attack which meant they had a decent opportunity attack or charge attack.



Several classes have at will knockdowns IIRC. I'm sure about Fighters and Monks, and think that Warlords also do. (And thieves but those are an Essentials class). The fighter does very low damage (stat modifier only, meaning no bonus damage for either weapon type, enhancement bonus, or iron armbands of power), and the monk has both the lowest damage the worst maneuverability of any of his powers with this (although does at least get to roll damage).

Knockdown isn't quite as powerful in 4e as 3.X - no opportunity attack for standing.


Barbarians (especially those built around charging) had a few at-wills which were worth spamming. I'd have to go back and look at the old character sheet, but I remember playing a barbarian with whom my at-wills were often more effective than my encounter powers because of the way that charge bonuses and other things would stack up.
 

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