D&D 4E messy's 4e newbie questions thread

52. can intimidate be used to demoralize an opponent (like in 3e)?

53. with armor class and reflex defense being so similar, do we really need both?

54. can a two-weapon ranger use two-weapon fighting while wielding a two-handed weapon (by say, kicking for the secondary attack)?

55. what notable sacred cows from 3e were slain (i realize this could be a rather long list)?

shukran.

52. Yes - the enemy needs to be bloodied first, then they are probably hostile, but it IS possible to jack your Intimidate skill bonus up very high and pretty reliably 'take out' one opponent at a time (its more ambiguous if you can force more than one target to surrender with a single action). There are some magic items that bypass the bloodied requirement as well. Of course this sort of optimization generally has some poor favor with DMs... Remember, the DM has ultimate say in what skill is effective in what situation, so you will probably run into situations where the DM will make this harder or even impossible (for example against mindless undead or very motivated/desperate opponents).

53. So far I haven't really seen a convincing writeup of doing without AC. Would armor ADD to your Reflex? That seems odd... I could imagine a game that was less gear-centered and more focused on character ability where armor didn't really do much and was for show, or had other non-defense benefits, but as 4e stands it seems like Ref and AC are both useful concepts. Think of Ref as 3e's 'touch AC'.

54. This is ambiguous. You cannot use a 2-handed weapon with Twin Strike, but EVERY power has its own limits, so there is no definitive blanket rule, all attacks utilize some power and the power always says what weapons etc can be used. Twin Strike specifically requires '2 weapons' and refers to a main and a secondary weapon. You can ALWAYS use Unarmed as a 'weapon', but it is not an off-hand weapon and with a 2-hander you basically have to wield the weapon in both 'hands'. This would generally forbid using a 2-hander and a foot as your two weapons with TS. I think you will find this is the generally understood rule. You COULD use a ONE HANDED weapon and your fist/boot/whatever as the 2nd attack, but the weapon probably should be 'off-hand' since Unarmed is NOT. Some DMs however may let you get away with it (and since Rangers can wield a Bastard Sword in one hand there's not a HUGE amount to be gained with this kind of trick anyway).
 

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MarkB

Legend
53. with armor class and reflex defense being so similar, do we really need both?

Star Wars Saga Edition went that route, but also used a somewhat genre-specific system for defenses, whereby characters with PC classes gained a level-dependent bonus to Reflex Defense which didn't stack with bonuses from armour - so armour was useful at low levels or for NPC mooks, but all but useless at higher levels, unless you invested in certain Soldier-class talents.

It was a neat system for a space-opera setting in which the heroes tend to run around in shirts and trousers, but not quite so appropriate in a quasi-medieval setting where fighting-oriented characters prefer a more metallic theme in their outerwear.
 

sabrinathecat

Explorer
Armor Class reflects attacks that are stopped by the fact that you are wearing protective clothing.
Reflex reflects the fact that you duck, dodge, or dive for cover.

Two Weapon Fighting... is TWO weapon fighting. So unless you can somehow convince your DM that your character can effectively wield two two-handed swords, or two halberds, no.

Sacred Cows from previous editions... Really, the mechanics were totally different from what came before, or nearly so, to the point where I really don't think it was a good idea to compare games. Sadly, everyone bitching that they couldn't exactly rebuild some combination that was in a previous version of the game distracted them, and WotC, from the fact that 4e was a really good, well designed, and well balanced game. Thus more rules were added to expand in new directions, rather than finishing to flesh out what was already there. So instead of a good, even, well thought and balanced, consistent, and logical set of multi-classing rules, we got hybrids)
 

messy

Explorer
56. what would be the effect of making npcs by the same method as pcs (other than increasing prep time)?

57. can a character gain the benefits of a magical shield and magical bracers at the same time (since they're grouped together)?

58. other than the occasional power that negates a critical hit, is there any way to gain immunity to critical hits, sneak attacks, etc.?


tusind tak
 

56. what would be the effect of making npcs by the same method as pcs (other than increasing prep time)?

57. can a character gain the benefits of a magical shield and magical bracers at the same time (since they're grouped together)?

58. other than the occasional power that negates a critical hit, is there any way to gain immunity to critical hits, sneak attacks, etc.?


tusind tak

56 - PCs are 'glass cannons' compared with monsters. It doesn't work well at all. First of all the PCs are COMPLEX and this just burdens the DM with a lot of nonsense that they'll never gain anything from. Secondly PCs are front-loaded with damage dealing and back-loaded with hit points. The balance is designed so that monsters come out blasting with their encounter powers, knock the PCs on their low hitpoint butts, the PCs rally, kick in their resources and gain the upper hand, then finish off the monsters. If you face PCs against PCs basically the guy who gets the initiative wins. PC-type NPCs have no reason to hold back, if they go first there will be a blaze of Daily fire and the party will be TPK, if it goes the other way the PCs will be forced to do likewise and the balance of daily resource use is broken. You will find that monsters are FAR better adapted to be opponents than PCs are. PC rules are designed to produce good PCs with reasonable power levels, but the 4e NPC rules are really just "here are the guidelines for what an Nth level combat opponent can do, roughly". You're very free with 4e monsters to create whatever you like really, and not bound by the narrow strictures of class etc. Its a much more open system IMHO. You can of course still build a monster that is an "Elf Paladin" if you wish, but you're free to build it in a way that makes it a worthy opponent and an interesting challenge in the specific context vs trying to force the PC governing rules that have a different agenda into the round hole of an NPC challenge.

57 - They are both arm slot items, so the answer is generally no. I'd note that this means in practice that shields are pretty useless. This is not due to any inherent need for shields to be so, but in practice the enchantments on things like bracers are just much better. You can of course always create better shields if you want... The Spiked Shield is a bit of an exception since you can gain the benefits of weapon enchantments, plus a shield benefit, which makes it an attractive option for some builds.

58 - Well, there are various builds that at Epic are pretty unconcerned with being damaged AT ALL, but in general no. "Sneak Attack" isn't really a specific rules category in 4e anyway. Rogues for instance can get bonus damage if they attack with combat advantage, there's no specific 'sneaking' involved, though attacking from a hidden position is a common way to get CA that most rogues are well-equipped to undertake. I don't know how you would even write an "immune to sneak attack" power, 4e simply lacks the language to express this concept in rules terms. Critical Hit negation is of course theoretically possible, but the honest truth is it is of marginal utility, especially at higher levels. Most higher level monsters have modest raw damage output and their damage expressions are written such that a crit doesn't make a huge difference. For example a standard Fire Giant is level 18 and does 2d12+13 damage. The average is going to be 25, the max 37, and the min 15. The difference between 25 and 37, 12 damage, at level 18 is trivial. A level 18 fighter has almost 200 hit points. He'd be wasting his time with an 'anti-CR' power or item. There are of course a very few monsters with nasty crits, but they tend to be in the context of low-level play where you are unlikely to see an anti-CR power/item.
 

56. what would be the effect of making npcs by the same method as pcs (other than increasing prep time)?

Don't do it! The DMG1 has stats for making NPCs using similar rules for PCs, but not only is it a bit more work, it doesn't balance the math. Note that even there the NPCs have fewer powers than PCs (one encounter, one daily and one utility per tier.) I used to encourage using the DMG1 rules, but found that at about level 7 the math fell apart and NPCs became too wimpy to challenge the PCs.

Also these NPCs can have daily abilities, which causes problems (in 3rd Edition, an NPC wizard was more powerful than a PC wizard because they could unload all their top spells in the one encounter for the day) plus daily abilities are usually more complicated. Usually, but not always. For some reason WotC thinks ongoing damage is only acceptable with daily powers, and these could make good encounter or even recharge powers for NPCs. A daily power that gives a benefit that lasts for the entire encounter could be "nerfed" to only last until the end of the NPC's next turn. There's no hard and fast rule for this, but the DMG1 would have you plop down daily abilities "as is".

If you need an NPC you should build a monster using PC-flavored abilities. I'm including an attachment to show you what I mean. Making a monster takes very little time once you understand the monster math.

Note that you can easily make such an NPC into an elite, if they're a conspicuous target. (For instance, my players will go out of their way to kill any NPC who is a caster or warlord. The warlord I've attached would need to be made into an elite to not get focus-fired to death on round one in my campaign.)

57. can a character gain the benefits of a magical shield and magical bracers at the same time (since they're grouped together)?

No.

58. other than the occasional power that negates a critical hit, is there any way to gain immunity to critical hits, sneak attacks, etc.?

No.

By the way, I wanted to post the .doc of the warlord instead (the text formatting is a bit better, especially when it comes to the aura) but even in advanced mode, I can only find a way of uploading an image.
 

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That's a pretty nice warlord example. I agree, the DMG1 NPC system wasn't that great. I think it was sort of a holdover from older edition thinking. Its interesting because even WotC never used it. There isn't even one NPC built with those rules in any module or publication. In fact I've never seen a statblock of an NPC made that way, period. Even in DMG1 they provided 'class templates' that allow you to just build a monster straight up as a 'classed NPC' in effect, and that tool was extended to support PHB2 classes in DMG2 (though it has never been subsequently extended to PHB3 or later classes the truth is most of those classes are pretty specialized and in any case its not exactly rocket-science to do it yourself, the templates are really not a huge help). Likewise DMG2 introduced 'Companion Characters' to provide an official implementation of friendly NPCs. My conclusion is that none of the developers at WotC ever really considered the classed NPC rules to be useful and they were included more as a nod to tradition than as a really useful tool. Maybe they didn't quite trust the whole "everything is a monster with a statblock" design of 4e entirely at that point. Obviously they learned quickly!
 

I have seen a very few NPCs like that, actually, in the Compendium. They're often listed as having "no type" (eg not artillery, skirmisher, etc) but of course most such monsters are companions, familiars, etc.

Only the NPCs have "dailies" though, and none of those NPCs are new. There was also a (failure, IMO) creation of Valthrun the Prescient in an early Dungeon Magazine. It used the class template rather than the NPC rule, but ... it sucked. The class template (like most other early templates) makes a monster an elite but doesn't give any extra attacks, so Valthrun is just a bag of hit points :(
 

I have seen a very few NPCs like that, actually, in the Compendium. They're often listed as having "no type" (eg not artillery, skirmisher, etc) but of course most such monsters are companions, familiars, etc.

Only the NPCs have "dailies" though, and none of those NPCs are new. There was also a (failure, IMO) creation of Valthrun the Prescient in an early Dungeon Magazine. It used the class template rather than the NPC rule, but ... it sucked. The class template (like most other early templates) makes a monster an elite but doesn't give any extra attacks, so Valthrun is just a bag of hit points :(

Well, the rules on what Elite and Solo monster's attacks should be like was quite vague. The only positive thing was that most MM1 monsters were well BELOW the standard damage expressions, which meant if you actually followed the guidelines exactly then you might actually get a bit more average monster damage. Given that they never really explained that an Elite should get the equivalent of TWO normal monsters attacks, and a Solo FIVE overall the guidelines were kinda poor at that stage. There were corrections later, but effectively as far as attacks go they pretty much said "use monsters as a guideline" but then spent another year before they brought out MM3 and really HAD good examples (there were a scattered few before that, and the Demonomicon has some pretty nice examples too). Ah well, IMHO WotC just never figured out what 4e was. They got it kinda by accident. After a while they learned to fix some things but the game seems to have been a bit different beast to WotC than to us...
 

sabrinathecat

Explorer
56. what would be the effect of making npcs by the same method as pcs (other than increasing prep time)?
Why would you want to? Really? A lot of extra time, for characters who are mainly sideline types.

57. can a character gain the benefits of a magical shield and magical bracers at the same time (since they're grouped together)?
Yes, and no. I believe this has been answered before. You have to choose one or the other. In almost every case, the arm-slot bracers are a better return on investment than the magical shield. You can still use the magical shield as a shield, however. (I spent 18 levels with my fighter doing way less damage because he was getting the benefit of the shield--doing the math, the benefit was no where near as good).

58. other than the occasional power that negates a critical hit, is there any way to gain immunity to critical hits, sneak attacks, etc.?
No. Some creatures have traits like "Does not grant Combat Advantage from Flanking" or "--from Prone", but that is it. A crit is a crit is a crit. Sometimes you can make an enemy reroll (halfling luck!), but that's it.
Sneak Attack damage can be avoided by not granting combat advantage.
Now, if you are talking about ambushes, having a very high perception character is a good thing. For monsters, True Sight and Tremor Sense are very handy.
 
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There's a ranger utility (I think it's a daily) that cancels the ranger's surprise, and that of a few allies equal to the ranger's Wisdom score.

The Uncanny Dodge feat takes away the +2 to hit from combat advantage (perhaps only from being flanked?). Note that you're still granting combat advantage and can still be sneak attacked.

There's a fighter utility that can cancel combat advantage from a single attack.
 
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Sound of Azure

Contemplative Soul
There is also the heroic tier Stoneroot's Endurance feat, which allows you to roll a d20 when critically hit. On a 10 or higher, it becomes a normal hit. Changelings also have available the Epic feat Fluid Anatomy, which allows a saving throw against critical hits. It's stronger, since saving throws can be boosted.
 

messy

Explorer
59. in addition to 2 at will powers, 1 encounter power, 1 daily power, action points, and second wind, at first level a character also has class features, racial abilities, powers granted by magic items, and skill-related abilities (like bluff's create diversion to hide and gain combat advantage). so at first level a character can have around 10 options on each turn.

at 30th level, a character has the same, but with 4 encounter powers, 4 daily powers, and 7 utility powers. so at 30th level a character can have over 20 options on each turn.

is this too many options?

kamsahamnida.
 
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in addition to 2 at will powers, 1 encounter power, 1 daily power, action points, and second wind, at first level a character also has class features, racial abilities, powers granted by magic items, and skill-related abilities (like bluff's create diversion to hide and gain combat advantage). so at first level a character can have around 10 options on each turn.

at 30th level, a character has the same, but with 4 encounter powers, 4 daily powers, and 7 utility powers. so at 30th level a character can have over 20 options on each turn.

is this too many options?

kamsahamnida.

That's not too many options. At higher levels, the real "option tax" are off-turn abilities. Some have exacting triggers, and a player can easily forget about them. Worse, the Character Builder sheets do not organize powers properly, so it's easier to make these mistakes. (That's one reason I always use a paper character sheet.)
 

in addition to 2 at will powers, 1 encounter power, 1 daily power, action points, and second wind, at first level a character also has class features, racial abilities, powers granted by magic items, and skill-related abilities (like bluff's create diversion to hide and gain combat advantage). so at first level a character can have around 10 options on each turn.

at 30th level, a character has the same, but with 4 encounter powers, 4 daily powers, and 7 utility powers. so at 30th level a character can have over 20 options on each turn.

is this too many options?

kamsahamnida.

In a word, yeah, it is rather. If you look at 4e on the day it came out you'd have say a typical fighter with a daily, an encounter power, 2 at-wills, and lets say he's a dwarf he's got several passive benefits (save vs push, +5 saves vs poison, I forget exactly what else). You'd also possibly have a feat that might add something, but 95% of the time it will just be a static bonus (IE dwarves would generally take something like Dwarven Weapon Training). So, the model was a fairly restricted set of options, the character would also have had a combat superiority move to remember, but that would be it. That's a fair amount but not TOO much. Even in that day a paragon dwarf fighter would have something like 3 daily powers, 3 encounter powers, probably something from at least one feat, and some sort of PP thing.

Nowadays your level 1 guy has at least an extra power for his theme. Many of the newer classes have a bit more complex options than just "2 at-will and some sort of class feature". It does get a bit cluttered when you factor in all the APs and other possible actions. I think early 4e was a bit on the complex side, and modern 4e is a bit TOO far on the complex side. That's probably the worst aspect of 4e. Even so, 4e's rules are so simple and well-structured that you CAN deal with it. The issue is more when you have the type of players that don't want to deal at all with mechanical issues. They may feel a bit out of their depth. I've had players that never really MASTERED the rules for their character. There are some relatively simple classes though, like Ranger, Slayer, etc.
 

sabrinathecat

Explorer
It is getting there. I finished Scales of War with a lvl30 Warlock, and my Dwarf Fighter is now lvl25. Both started at 1st level. I frequently have/had daily powers left at the end of the "day", because they weren't useful, or they didn't come up (Twilight Teleport, which I picked up at lvl11 from my paragon path only got used 3 times, but once did save another PC from falling into lava). But because I started them at 1st level, I was very familiar with the way they worked. I alsu usually have about 1/2 of my fighter's encounter powers left at the end of the battles, because they didn't happen, or the fight was over. Given that most fights are over in 3-4 rounds (I think 5 is the average length of any fight), if you have 8-10 encounter powers, well, that's a lot of left overs.

So, if you start at low levels, the number of powers can be managed without too much difficulty. If you throw someone in the deepend with a lvl 26-30 character, chances are they won't play efficiently or well, and may not have a very good time.
 

MarkB

Legend
in addition to 2 at will powers, 1 encounter power, 1 daily power, action points, and second wind, at first level a character also has class features, racial abilities, powers granted by magic items, and skill-related abilities (like bluff's create diversion to hide and gain combat advantage). so at first level a character can have around 10 options on each turn.

at 30th level, a character has the same, but with 4 encounter powers, 4 daily powers, and 7 utility powers. so at 30th level a character can have over 20 options on each turn.

is this too many options?

kamsahamnida.

It can be overwhelming when first starting out, but as you play a character, you'll become very familiar with its encounter and at-will powers, and reasonably familiar with its daily and utility powers. Once you get comfortable with a character you'll get a feel for when to use which option.

There's no denying, though, that some things can fall through the cracks - especially seldom-used utility or item powers. It's worth sitting down with a character sheet every once in awhile between sessions, and just checking out all its nooks and crannies to remind yourself of items you've forgotten, either to use them more often or to trade them out for something less easily-overlooked.
 


Many of the newer classes and powers are also really situational, and newer players often don't realize this at first. More experienced DMs need to look at the character sheets every once in a while and make suggestions. "I notice you have X but haven't used it in four levels..."
 

messy

Explorer
60. following up on #20, how does two-weapon fighting work for a non-ranger only using the phb1?

61. is there a melee basic attack option that uses dexterity for attacks and damage?

62. does the movement associated with deft strike provoke opportunity attacks?

63. is the shift associated with nimble strike any different than a typical shift?

64. concealment only applies to targets of melee or ranged attacks. what attacks does it not apply to?

much gratitude for all responses.
 

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