Floating Powers (Was: WoTC March 2009 Editorial Calendar)

RodneyThompson

First Post
Forked from: WoTC March 2009 Editorial Calendar

Fallen Seraph said:
I would like to see a section of Martial Power (and other books) that are "floating powers". They are open to all classes (or all of a specific Power Source). Perhaps they could have a choice of certain attributes to pick for it or such.

So, what do you envision these powers doing for the game? What do you envision them doing for your character?

There's been some internal discussion about such powers, which we've avoided so far for a variety of reasons. General powers don't support what the class is supposed to be doing (you can't build a general power to a role), and if you start taking general powers then you lose out on powers that speak to your role. Plus, generic powers are more likely to be less than exciting (by definition, the power needs to be generally applicable to multiple methods of use), and as such they might be just "more of the same" compared to existing powers. Generic powers also have the greater potential to produce more broken combinations, as you have to balance them against every class, every build, etc. instead of just the builds for a single class. Certain classes are built to function a certain way, and generic powers might not jive with that, or might produce what we call the nonbo (the negative version of the combo).

So, convince me why we should do generic powers, what you see them doing, what function they serve, etc. Despite all of the stuff I posted above, I'm not convinced there isn't room for them; I just am not sure what place they're supposed to have in the game. For the sake of discussion, let's say you're a designer/developer. What do you do with them?
 

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GnomeWorks

Adventurer
I've actually been thinking about this, as of late; specifically powers that are power source-specific, but not class-specific.

The benefit of general power source powers is that you can have powers that evoke the feel of the power source in question. Is there a generic martial ability that would make sense for anyone in a martial class? Then it could be a general martial power.

The other thing that's occurred to me is that these general powers should most likely only be utility powers. The attack powers tend to be much more tightly focused on a class's role; it's really only in the utility powers do you get design space for powers that aren't necessarily as tightly focused.
 

Fallen Seraph

First Post
First got to say. Cool! I spurred a WoTC developer to make a thread thanks to my post.

As for what I would like to see from General/Floating Powers. Well first off I think there should be some restrictions to focus it a little bit. So perhaps based off Role or Power Source.

Power Source makes sense in that well the Powers fit with their fluff. So with Martial the Power would deal with weapons and be non-magical.

Role would be interesting in that the Power fits with some of the mechanical aspect of the class. It be also interesting in that it would sorta make a another way to "multiclass" in that you could take a Floating Power that is specifically magical but your Martial.

As for just in general. Hmm... I could see lots of Utility Powers be usable as Floating Powers since they have less specific mechanics/mix of different numbers to work well. As said in my first post, perhaps they could have the ability to choose different attributes for the Power, that may make it more usable for different classes.

Perhaps you could have Powers that don't fit into one particular Power Source or Role as Floating Powers. Right now what pops into my mind would be stuff like technology-oriented Powers, since it is based off technology any Role or Power Source could use them. So makes sense to be open.
 

Scribble

First Post
Could you build them as sort of lesser versions of the "real" class powers?

The idea would be since it's a generic power, you can get a "kind of" multiclass power without having to use a feat to get there... that way your multiclass feat stays open and you could be say: Fighter, multiclass to cleric, with a few wizard"ish" powers?

Just a thought.
 

Hmm... the best example of these I can think of would be either the Weapon-Specific multiclass powers (Whip, Bola, etc). Don't really fit any class in particular, but fit well within a particular power source and certainly have good reason to exist. Granted, these are multiclass feats, but I never did like them as being multiclass feats :p

Other things could be a way to bring back Trip, Disarm, etc maneuvers into the game. *shrugs*

The name could use some work, when I think of "Floating Powers", I think of ones people can assign on the fly, as needed, not powers that can be taken by multiple classes. :)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
It's taken me kind of a long time to write this stuff, so I hope I'll be forgiven for not taking into account the undoubtedly genius ideas above mine, but from where I'm sitting, I'm the first reply here. :)

So, convince me why we should do generic powers, what you see them doing, what function they serve, etc. Despite all of the stuff I posted above, I'm not convinced there isn't room for them; I just am not sure what place they're supposed to have in the game. For the sake of discussion, let's say you're a designer/developer. What do you do with them?

All the reasons you gave were basically reasons I would avoid this (especially the roles and balancing issues).

Still, if my director came to me and said "We want to have 'floating powers,' so do it," here's a few ideas I might throw at the wall.

I've spoiler-blocked the background theories on this, even though that's probably the interesting part for the game design curious folks in the house. The part that's not spoiler-blocked should be able to be used by any group right now, though.
[sblock=Show Your Work]
First, figuring out the goals

Goals of "Generic Powers"
We want the power to be open to everyone, or at least everyone of a given power source. This means that the power should be useful to all builds of all classes and all roles, without stepping on the toes of any roles, builds, or classes. Still, make sure they're special and unique enough that people get stoked about taking them (but not so much so that they ignore their bread-n-butter).

Solution: "Moments of Glory"
-- The "theme" for these powers is basically the theme of "awesome dramatic moment." Like the second wind, or the action point, these are things that any character can do just because they are heroic badasses. The idea of a flying leap, a stirring speech, a last hurrah, etc., aren't linked to specific archetypes, classes, or builds. Everyone wants them.

-- The powers should not take the place of the existing powers (at-wills, encounters, dailies) at all. The class powers are made for archetype/build/role support, and undermining that for "generic heroic awesome" isn't something we want to do. No first level Fighter will be taking a moment of glory instead of Tide of Iron.

-- Still, they need to consume SOME resource, yes? Fortunately, all characters already have a few universal resources that they can expend that are related to heroic action. For Moments of Glory, I'd go with action points.

-- Why Action Points? Action points are already there for awesome heroic action. The Moments of Glory concept just adds ways to use Action Points that are more strongly thematic and tactically interesting than "take another action." Moments of Glory compliment, but do not replace Action Points: PC's can still just take another action. We also have abilities that key off of action points already, for many Paragon Paths. This broadens the usefulness of Action Points for all characters. Because AP are rare, this means that a character's Moment of Glory contribution will never be ongoing or defining -- it will be a moment. It won't over-write roles, even if it, say, does more damage than a striker for one round -- it's not frequent or reliable enough to make a central pillar of character building, but it's a nice extra.

-- Because this is a modification on using a character ability, the easiest way to offer the option for Moments of Glory to characters is via feats: spend a feat, get a Moment of Glory, and have a new way to use AP.

-- Because we're using AP to power these...er...powers...they can be a bit more over-the-top than equivalent powers. They're taking the place of another standard action, meaning they should be about as powerful as their activation time + a standard action, perhaps + a small "kicker" for focus (so that there is a benefit for spending the feat vs. not spending the feat and just using AP). This kind of "raw numbers" power should be appealing to anyone, and is much easier to understand the mechanical ramifications of than something as flexible as another standard action. A lot of these Moments of Glory should allow multiple attack rolls or offer healing.

-- Alternately, you could leave AP out of it entirely, but the fact that AP already represent a heroic "something extra" and the fact that there's a LOT of design space left unexplored by AP that is plenty explored by the economy of actions, makes AP more attractive to me. Ultimately, a Moment of Glory without AP would mean taking a feat for a power, and would be balanced a little more along the lines of the Channel Divinity feat. This would make it a bit less attractive without the "raw number" spike, but the concept of a Moment of Glory may be attractive enough without that. Still, this could be a good idea if there's other spoons in the broth for AP that I don't know about that makes this idea too similar.

-- Full Disclosure A lot of these ideas come from my work on Final Fantasy Zero's Limit Break/Summon system, so if you like the idea, you'll find more like it there. :)

-- I'm not up to snuff on 4e's mechanical fiddly bits (I think my application to WotC proved THAT admirably! ;)), but here's the kind of powers I envision:
[/sblock]
Feats: One feat gives you a new Moment of Glory. You can spend more feats to get more diverse Moments of Glory. Moments of Glory have a tier, but not a level. You could perhaps silo them by power source, for a more thematic bond, but it's probably not necessary.

Moments of Glory:
Each one of these consumes an AP. The AP so consumed does not grant any extra action
  • Glorious Leap: As a move action, you jump a distance up to double your speed. Your jump is so fast and unexpected that you gain concealment until the start of your next turn.
  • Barrage of Blades: As a standard action, you can execute four basic attacks, each of which deals half damage. If these all target the same creature, that creature takes 5 points of ongoing damage on their next turn.
  • Caltrop Backtrack: As a minor action, you can shift up to half your speed. The squares that you shift out of become difficult terrain.
  • Consume Your Foe: As a standard action, execute a basic attack that deals double damage. If the creature is reduced to 0 hp by this attack, you can spend a healing surge.
  • True Strike: As a standard action, execute a basic attack (ranged or melee) with a +10 bonus on the attack roll.
  • Stunner: As a standard action, make a basic attack. If you hit, the target is stunned until the end of your next turn, and, on its first turn after being stunned, it cannot take any move actions.
  • Embody Bahamut: As a standard action, make a Charisma attack vs. Reflex for every enemy in a close blast 3. Any creature hit is dealt radiant damage equal to your Charisma score.

The short version of the logic is this: AP is rarer, so you can't build a character around AP-based abilities; the powers don't come into play often enough to gum up the role/class/build works. By using AP as a source, we also avoid having players spending their power slots on powers that don't accentuate their role. Still, these powers are generic enough (any creature that worships Bahamut, from fighter to cleric to warlock, might use the Embody Bahamut power) that they appeal to most heroic characters. These powers are balanced on the idea that you're giving up a feat and a standard action to use them, so they're quite potent -- that should be enough to grab anyone's attention. Certain abilities may appeal more than others to certain sects (characters with good weapon skills might key into the "basic attack" powers, but magic missile and eldritch blast work fine, too; Embody Bahamut is more useful for those with a high CHA, but several different characters benefit from that anyway).

The secret, in my mind, to avoiding the problem of gumming up the role/class/build balance is to dodge that little bullet altogether and use something other than the power you get when you level up as a cost for gaining the ability. They might need a bit of adjustment in power here or there for balance (number-crunching isn't something I can do easily for 4e yet).

You could even drop the feats, lower the power a little bit, and award these INSTEAD of AP, like a form of treasure, but that takes them out of the players' hands, which I think is key for something like this.

Another interesting idea would be to use your second wind to power these abilities instead of AP. Use a feat, then when you get your second wind, you can also have a Moment of Glory (they would need to be slightly differently balanced for that, though).
 
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WalterKovacs

First Post
They've done some generic powers so far, namely:

(a) Channel Divinity, specifically the feats. Basically generic powers for the divine power source, albeit based on your choice of diety.

(b) Paragon paths. Some aren't directly connected to classes, they'll be limited by role or power source or race.

(c) Epic Destinies. More so than paragon paths, many are open ended, some with no requirements as all, although they have less "powers", per se, since only a utility is listed as a power, although some of what they provide are similar to powers.

(d) Spellscared as a multi-class only class consists entirely of role-less powers. Similarly the weapon mastery powerswaps and racial powerswaps.

So, there is definitely room for generic powers, however making them available in such a way that a character could go without choosing any of their own classes powers should probably be avoided. While paladins would like to have more STR based powers to choose from (see also CON with warlock), it's important to avoid characters going too far towards classlessness.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
How about powers you gain access to from being trained in a skill. Frex no reason someone trained in Acrobatics couldn't use the tumble power.

DS
 

WalterKovacs

First Post
How about powers you gain access to from being trained in a skill. Frex no reason someone trained in Acrobatics couldn't use the tumble power.

DS

It would be another way to encourage training skills that you aren't naturally good at. So, some generic utilities that anyone could take, with various skills as requirements, could be interesting.
 

Before I noticed this thread, I suggested that there also could be advanced racial powers. Special powers beyond first level that characters of a certain race can take.

The problem is, it'll make some races seem more special than others, as a couple of them will likely be lacking, while others will have more than enough.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
WalterKovacs pointed out how a lot of "generic" powers already exist.

I also groove on the "advanced racial powers" and Sabathius's suggestion for skill-specific utilities, though both would presumably require taking those instead of your normal class powers, which could end up leading to some accidental suck unless those advanced racial powers or skill-specific utilities broke down along role lines (so that dwarf strikers look different than dwarf defenders, and so that controllers who know History are different than leaders that know History)....that can eat up a lot of pagecount if you don't want to look like you're favoring one or the other.
 

ppaladin123

Adventurer
Before I noticed this thread, I suggested that there also could be advanced racial powers. Special powers beyond first level that characters of a certain race can take.

The problem is, it'll make some races seem more special than others, as a couple of them will likely be lacking, while others will have more than enough.


There are a couple instances of this in Dragon magazine. The Dragonborn and Warforged both have the option of taking special racial powers via feat if they meet the prerequisites (other feats). The powers are all utility powers and you have to swap out one of your regular class or paragon path utilities to take them.
 

RodneyThompson

First Post
So, there is definitely room for generic powers, however making them available in such a way that a character could go without choosing any of their own classes powers should probably be avoided. While paladins would like to have more STR based powers to choose from (see also CON with warlock), it's important to avoid characters going too far towards classlessness.

Right. That's the key with all the non-class associated powers so far--they're intertwined with other systems in such a way that you continue to be able to serve your function even after the power's been taken.

Also, Utility powers are where the most flexibility lies. There's certainly an argument to be made that utility powers can be changed out almost entirely without affecting your ability to contribute to your role. The question is: what does a generic "floating" power (by which I mean just a power that you take in place of one of your class powers, with no associated cost or subsystem) contribute, and how do you implement it?

I'm just interested to see what the armchair designers think on this one, since it's one of those areas where we've experimented.
 

Mr. Wilson

Explorer
Sudden Inspiration:

Utility, Daily, level 2, Floating power, minor action.

Generic flavor text here along the line of years of training granting insight into a situation.

You gain a +5 bonus to any one skill check or a +2 bonus to any defense until end of next turn.



/my idea, though may be too good.
 
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Fallen Seraph

First Post
*Grumbles about moving from comfy bed to armchair*

Hmm... I would say for myself personally especially if going with Utility Powers would be to serve as a additional flavour/path for a character/class. So you could have instead of "Class Powers", you could have "Theme Powers".

The Paladin would choose Floating Powers to generate a additional theme to his normal Paladin fluff. Say the Theme is Technology, so he is a Paladin who serves Erathis, to bring this across even more he chooses Floating Powers under the Technology Theme. Same could go with a Rogue who uses clockwork devices to sneak around, etc.

Implementation, I would say these would be a good thing for say Setting books or books related to a specific subject matter. So to run with Technology, say a setting has a abundance of technology instead of giving every class technology oriented Powers. You give these Floating Powers. Or just a book on Technology and has these Powers.

I am sure too there is plenty of Themes that can be thought up (just picked Technology since well I like tech :p) they don't I think need to be as concrete as Technology, "Espionage" or "Social", etc. could all be themes. I could even see Themes be expanded to other things, like PPs, Feats, etc. Just like you have Feats that give a bonus to say Powers with Fire you could give a bonus to Technology Theme Powers.

I enjoy how refluffable/how easy it is to refluff core Powers/Classes in 4e. So by having these more Theme/Flavour tied option as well a option and not tied down to certain classes or something you HAVE to have. It gives one a chance to pick and choose what flavour they want by melding their own flavour in the core experience with these specifically tailored components.
 
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blargney the second

blargney the minute's son
I've been talking with some local players about putting together a fantasy CSI game, and I could see floating powers as a way to help us do that with 4e.

Say I wanted to make a charismatic face for our investigative party, and our group has established that this is to be a relatively low-combat campaign. I'd grab some floating power-swap feats, and my guy could get a couple of Cha vs Will attack powers that would give me a chance to gain certain kinds of information. A prolonged interrogation could be Cha vs Fort.
-blarg
 

questing gm

First Post
Floating powers can only be taken by a character that has a multiclass from a different power source. These floating powers are what defines the most generic abilities that power source has to offer and it would provide more variety to the character without taking a power that would benefit specifically to a certain class that they have multiclassed into.

Just a thought. ;)
 

jensun

First Post
Personally I think one of the benefits of such floating powers would be to allow characters to move more outside of their core role. You may not be keen on that but the extent to which classes are limited by role has been a fairly common complaint about 4e and one of those which has a degree of merit for someone looking for something a bit more flexible.

We already have classes which have a fairly clear secondary role built into them. Paladins make decent leaders, Clerics, Rogues and Warlocks can control, Fighters and Wizards can manage striker levels of damage. The Warlord and the Ranger are the only two classes which struggle to manage a secondary role (and Warlords may well have one as I am not that familiar wit them).

Given that we aready have classes managing secondary roles is there any harm in expanding on that a bit?
 

I like the idea of more action point triggered powers, and I think utilities are also have good potential for being "generic".

To be honest, I think 4E should have had a specific "non-combat" power system, too. Utilities are this _sometimes_, but often they are combat related (shifting, healing, defense bonus, saves). This means often for Utility Powers, combat and non-combat compete for attention, and this is often weakening the non-combat ability.

Maybe feats that allow you to do something like the Channel Divinity powers.
You select two powers for a slot - one of your class and one general. You can in any given day (daily powers) or any given encounter (encounter powers) only use one of these powers.

You could consciously try to theme these extra powers along the idea of "non-combat" roles.
The Face (helps for social skills and skill challenges), the Guide (tracking, traps, navigation, survival skils and challenges), the Loremaster (Knowledge research, maybe even healing related skills and challenges, and ritual orientated).
Maybe have a base feat for each of these non-combat roles, that gives an action point power (that can be used in a non-combat context - skill challenges count as encounters, too!), and additional feats (maybe one per tier) to get general powers that fit the role.

A think that one has to keep in mind with Action Point Powers - they give diminishing returns. You get only 1 action point per milestone, so all you get is a little more flexibility. These powers and the feats will have to be balanced accordingly.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Thanks for bringing this topic up Fallen Seraph and Moridin, it's been in the back of my mind.

Right. That's the key with all the non-class associated powers so far--they're intertwined with other systems in such a way that you continue to be able to serve your function even after the power's been taken.

Also, Utility powers are where the most flexibility lies. There's certainly an argument to be made that utility powers can be changed out almost entirely without affecting your ability to contribute to your role. The question is: what does a generic "floating" power (by which I mean just a power that you take in place of one of your class powers, with no associated cost or subsystem) contribute, and how do you implement it?

I'm just interested to see what the armchair designers think on this one, since it's one of those areas where we've experimented.
Without adding a new subsystem (non-combat roles, gadget creation, etc.), I agree that race and skills are the best places to implement alternate utility powers, though you could extend the idea to alignment, environment, or any other area you wanted.

I'd imagine it like a set of utility powers organized into the "Elf" suite, the "Athletics" suite, the "Lawful Good" suite, etc.

If you wanted to include action points in the process, you could allow a player to switch these "floating" utility powers with an AP.

For example, take an Elven Ranger whose party is surprised by a white dragon cloaked in magical darkness. The ranger along with several party members get pushed into a freezing river. Using his Athletics utility power, the ranger makes a Jump check from the water onto the land, as if the river spat him out! He then spends an AP to change his "floating utility power" to an elven one that changes his low-light vision into the infrared spectrum allowing him to pinpoint the cold signature of the white dragon and take aim with his bow.

Maybe my example isn't the best, but that's the basic idea.
 

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