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Mike Mearls on how D&D 4E could have looked

OK on this "I would’ve much preferred the ability to adopt any role within the core 4 by giving players a big choice at level 1, an option that placed an overlay on every power you used or that gave you a new way to use them."
Basically have Source Specific Powers and less class powers. But I think combining that with having BIG differing stances to dynamically switch role might be a better idea so that your hero can adjust role to circumstance. I have to defend this NPC right now vs I have to take down the big bad right now vs I have to do minion cleaning right now, I am inspiring allies in my interesting way, who need it right now.

and the obligatory
Argghhhh on this. " I wanted classes to have different power acquisition schedules"

And thematic differences seemed to have been carried fine.
 
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Comments

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Admittedly this didn't come online until late heroic, and then really took off in paragon - maybe that's the point I'm missing.
It was definitely @Tony Vargas point of view with Martial Controllers or atleast the polearm build one.

I am looking at medium range Warlord style enemy manipulating martial controller.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I fall into the camp which says "A martial controller IS a defender!" At least there's so little light between these that it makes more sense to call them defenders. "Battlefield Control" has always traditionally (in terms of the understanding of tactics which, say, the US Army would understand) been a function of longer ranged and more individually powerful weapons, for the most part. A machine gun is just not the same as a rifle, it does different things and fills a different role in combat. If you give a rifleman an automatic weapon, he's still not the same as that machine gun. He might sometimes be able to achieve the same effects, but its still 2 roles.
For fighter-type martial controllers, I agree. For rogue-type martial controllers, you’ve got more of a blaster controller, and I think there is room for a scientist/engineer controller, and a leader-ish controller.

It was definitely @Tony Vargas point of view with Martial Controllers or atleast the polearm build one.

I am looking at medium range Warlord style enemy manipulating martial controller.
Dagger thrower rogues could get pretty close to damage based controller, which isn’t as strong as effect based control, but is still control in the 4e paradigm.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Dagger thrower rogues could get pretty close to damage based controller, which isn’t as strong as effect based control, but is still control in the 4e paradigm.
My Rogue runs past a group of bad guys all enemies adjacent to the rogue during this move take (small amount of damage) and are slowed as he hamstrings them in passing. His armor class vs opp attacks as he does this is at a major bonus unless he ends the move next to the enemy or perhaps they do not get an opportunity attack unless he ends his move next to them.

I think that mechanically if you start thinking in terms like that we can get definitely pull off a controller rogue doing some effect based control.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
My Rogue runs past a group of bad guys all enemies adjacent to the rogue during this move take (small amount of damage) and are slowed as he hamstrings them in passing. His armor class vs opp attacks as he does this is at a major bonus unless he ends the move next to the enemy or perhaps they do not get an opportunity attack unless he ends his move next to them.

I think that mechanically if you start thinking in terms like that we can get definitely pull off a controller rogue doing some effect based control.
Absolutely!

Blind with pocket sand, throw ball bearings or caltrops to make difficult terrain with either a knocked prone effect, or some minor damage, etc
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Absolutely!

Blind with pocket sand, throw ball bearings or caltrops to make difficult terrain with either a knocked prone effect, or some minor damage, etc
Caltrops -

1) the initial placement or throwing of caltrops can be also involve a hide check (the enemy then doesn't know the caltrops are there to avoid they will take damage if move normally on their turn). A missed caltrop throw might mean it was too dispersed or the pouch or container didnt open enough or it only hits one square (ie might still have minor effect on a miss). Skill with Caltrops can increase the area of effect they impact.

2) if you are in the zone you only take damage if you cannot freely shift to avoid it and know its there.

3) even uncareful movement is minor damage if no enemy is next to you.

4) if there is an enemy next to you shifting can only avoid triggering opportunity attacks or avoid caltrop damage not both - you don't get to look down at your feet and avoid the enemies opportunity attacks too sheesh ;)

5) Caltrop damage is significant rather than minor if there is an ally next to you while you move as they can interfere or manipulate you.

Yes technically the zone can affect allies but you can start it with enemies not knowing its there and you can put it around enemies feet to begin with

Hmmm now the above can be translated to Ball Bearings for that excessive proning stuff.
 
For fighter-type martial controllers, I agree. For rogue-type martial controllers, you’ve got more of a blaster controller, and I think there is room for a scientist/engineer controller, and a leader-ish controller.
There's a weirdness which bothers me about this sort of thing though, which is this: If you have such awesome accuracy and ability to toss a knife or shoot an arrow, etc. such that you can pin people to walls, hamstring them, etc. then you CERTAINLY have the accuracy to put one through their left eyeball every time!

I mean, OK, you can come up with some other explanations for some control effects, smoke arrows, a fusillade of daggers so thick the enemy is temporarily unable to get past it, etc. These rarely really provide the kind of paradigm that will support a whole class worth of 'stuff'. I see this as the main explanation for why there are 'off-role controllers' in Martial, like some rogues, some rangers, etc. It might actually be EASIER to imagine in terms of a melee character, but then you sink back into the swamp of "why is this not just a defender?"

TBH I think these are the considerations which lead WotC to never find any attempts at Martial Controller to be really convincing enough to adopt. MANY people pitched the concept to them! Yet they never bit.

Obviously I can't credibly contradict anything Mearls has to say about 4e and who, what, why things were the way they were, but IMHO WotC never cared that much about 'grid filling'. Maybe some people there were in favor of it, but I really don't see strong evidence that they were determined to do it, or that it was a big effort. In fact I think most of the 4e devs must have thought it wasn't a particularly strong idea and weren't that interested in it per se. They were certainly WILLING to fill in a 'gridpoint' if it resulted in a good class, but they were equally willing to simply allocate that concept to a more appropriate role/source if there was one, even if there were already a class in that 'slot'.

The few times they seem to have actually gone for it were NOT memorable! Who is excited by the Seeker? Ranged Primal Controller, weak concept that proved hard to translate into a good implementation!
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
There's a weirdness which bothers me about this sort of thing though, which is this: If you have such awesome accuracy and ability to toss a knife or shoot an arrow, etc. such that you can pin people to walls, hamstring them, etc. then you CERTAINLY have the accuracy to put one through their left eyeball every time!

I mean, OK, you can come up with some other explanations for some control effects, smoke arrows, a fusillade of daggers so thick the enemy is temporarily unable to get past it, etc. These rarely really provide the kind of paradigm that will support a whole class worth of 'stuff'. I see this as the main explanation for why there are 'off-role controllers' in Martial, like some rogues, some rangers, etc. It might actually be EASIER to imagine in terms of a melee character, but then you sink back into the swamp of "why is this not just a defender?"

TBH I think these are the considerations which lead WotC to never find any attempts at Martial Controller to be really convincing enough to adopt. MANY people pitched the concept to them! Yet they never bit.

Obviously I can't credibly contradict anything Mearls has to say about 4e and who, what, why things were the way they were, but IMHO WotC never cared that much about 'grid filling'. Maybe some people there were in favor of it, but I really don't see strong evidence that they were determined to do it, or that it was a big effort. In fact I think most of the 4e devs must have thought it wasn't a particularly strong idea and weren't that interested in it per se. They were certainly WILLING to fill in a 'gridpoint' if it resulted in a good class, but they were equally willing to simply allocate that concept to a more appropriate role/source if there was one, even if there were already a class in that 'slot'.

The few times they seem to have actually gone for it were NOT memorable! Who is excited by the Seeker? Ranged Primal Controller, weak concept that proved hard to translate into a good implementation!
This is straight up bizzarro world, for me.

The Seeker lacked some mathematically efficacy in an optimized game, but was otherwise one of the coolest post-PHB classes. It’s a strong concept, executed mostly well, with some light number problems, and some powers that weren’t ambitious enough on the effect-based control due to fear of overpowering with weapon attacks with heavy riders.


Anyway, I don’t think the weirdness you mention actually necessarily follows. People are better at defending their face than their legs, for one thing.

Much More importantly, it’s thematically prevalent to have a hyper-skilled combatant cripple rather than kill. Zoro, Batman, various fictional archers.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
P
Anyway, I don’t think the weirdness you mention actually necessarily follows. People are better at defending their face than their legs, for one thing.

Much More importantly, it’s thematically prevalent to have a hyper-skilled combatant cripple rather than kill. Zoro, Batman, various fictional archers.
And those first 2 are moral rogues so good example.

Heros with so much humanity, that they reflexively shoot to disable rather than killing - to add specificity lets add William Tell and some takes on Robinhood. I actually did a Robinhood build using the seeker (I think it was hybrid) where I made sure everything was amenable to being reflavored to not magic.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
And those first 2 are moral rogues so good example.

Heros with so much humanity, that they reflexively shoot to disable rather than killing - to add specificity lets add William Tell and some takes on Robinhood. I actually did a Robinhood build using the seeker (I think it was hybrid) where I made sure everything was amenable to being reflavored to not magic.
Absolutely! Two of my three hyper-lethal (in terms of weapon skill) 5e characters almost always avoid killing other sapient creatures when they can. The third isn't as worried about it, as long as the other party is trying to kill him.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Absolutely! Two of my three hyper-lethal (in terms of weapon skill) 5e characters almost always avoid killing other sapient creatures when they can. The third isn't as worried about it, as long as the other party is trying to kill him.
D&D already allows that final stroke to be as non-deadly as you like it, so its not like using controller effects is actually changing the resolution in a big way it is just expressing how you get to that state with a different flavor in a less boring way. Hit point ablation if its the only offering is rather boring. Hence why I like even the momentary effects. (though I think 4e could have simplified durations down to maybe 2)
 
This is straight up bizzarro world, for me.

The Seeker lacked some mathematically efficacy in an optimized game, but was otherwise one of the coolest post-PHB classes. It’s a strong concept, executed mostly well, with some light number problems, and some powers that weren’t ambitious enough on the effect-based control due to fear of overpowering with weapon attacks with heavy riders.


Anyway, I don’t think the weirdness you mention actually necessarily follows. People are better at defending their face than their legs, for one thing.

Much More importantly, it’s thematically prevalent to have a hyper-skilled combatant cripple rather than kill. Zoro, Batman, various fictional archers.
I think its dubious to try to depict 'moral rogues' in that kind of mechanical way. It should be a thematic thing, poking people with a stick is hard to depict as much besides damage...

I think it was the very thematic difficulty with the Seeker which LEAD to the inability of the authors to produce something mechanically sound. BECAUSE they struggled with thematic issues the quality of the things mechanics suffered. I don't disagree that it was POSSIBLE to make Seekers work, mechanically, they just never even got that far. They spent all their time wrestling with the narrative issues.

It isn't an accident that the thematically difficult class turned out to be poorly implemented!
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I think its dubious to try to depict 'moral rogues' in that kind of mechanical way. It should be a thematic thing, poking people with a stick is hard to depict as much besides damage...

I think it was the very thematic difficulty with the Seeker which LEAD to the inability of the authors to produce something mechanically sound. BECAUSE they struggled with thematic issues the quality of the things mechanics suffered. I don't disagree that it was POSSIBLE to make Seekers work, mechanically, they just never even got that far. They spent all their time wrestling with the narrative issues.

It isn't an accident that the thematically difficult class turned out to be poorly implemented!
Why is it dubious? It’s a skill set that is different from simply killing people. It’s also not hard at all to depict weapon as doing things other than damage. 4e already does that is spades.

As for the seeker, I disagree with your premises. I don’t think he class if thematically difficult st all, and I’m not convinced that it is poorly implemented.
 

Marshall

Villager
Noted
Page 42 still says exactly what it says. Page 42 is clear.

Hussar has said that it is poorly written. Others have told me to imply the answer. Now you are referencing a completely separate book that came out a year later.

I'll totally accept the idea that they screwed up at first and then started trying to fix it. So, maybe for someone who played it for a long time and over the past nine years since DMG2 came out has grown to take these implications and guidelines as errata. But there is no remotely reasonable way to read page 42 and interpret it as anything other than saying what I'm saying.

Again, go back and read my posts. I've stated a few times now that the method being suggested is a dramatic improvement over the RAW presented on P42 of the DMG.

I don't understand why 4E fans can't bring themselves to just say "yeah, that sucked, but they fixed it" because that seems to be the case.
It is no secret that WotC tried all kinds of things to fix 4E.

There are plenty of newbie DMs who just followed the rules, didn't like the result and never bought DMG2. There are plenty of experienced players who read this kind of thing and moved on to other games well before the DMG2 came out. Remember what this thread is about "the 4E that could have been".
Refusing to concede that there were serious flaws was a problem that the 4E fanbase held to throughout and they added to the alienation. There seems to be nothing left to gain by seeming to be dead set on ignoring the reality at this point.

4E was an AWESOME game for a very specific type of player. I've always said that and I still believe it. But that doesn't mean it was without flaws.
This was a flaw. And the fact that nobody is will to address page 42 by actually talking about the words which actually appear on page 42 is telling.
Why hasn't anyone pointed out that the whole point of page 42 wasn't to set DCs but to ensure that a PCs actions were worthwhile according to his level? The other half of the DC/LEVEL chart was a damage calculation. The DC was based on the character level so that the effect was appropriate for the character level.
You don't swing on the chandelier to move over to Orcus for a basic attack at level 25. You swing on the chandelier to hit Orcus with a 3d8+dazed and prone attack.
 
Why hasn't anyone pointed out that the whole point of page 42 wasn't to set DCs but to ensure that a PCs actions were worthwhile according to his level? The other half of the DC/LEVEL chart was a damage calculation. The DC was based on the character level so that the effect was appropriate for the character level.
You don't swing on the chandelier to move over to Orcus for a basic attack at level 25. You swing on the chandelier to hit Orcus with a 3d8+dazed and prone attack.
Well, I'm not sure exactly what it is that [MENTION=957]BryonD[/MENTION] is trying to say that Page 42 doesn't say exactly...

Page 42 basically says:

Use these rules to resolve 'unusual actions', by which I would assume the meaning is "not covered by another rule and not a normal power use." If it was covered by another rule, or if it was simply using a power in the normal way it was intended, then no special rule would be needed, so this covers "other things." Note that the rest of Page 42 is cloaked in the language of Actions, which at least implies it is primarily, at least often, something that happens in combat (although the original SC rules do also have initiative and turns, but don't use the term 'Action' in a technical sense).

Next it says "Cast the Action as a Check:" This is pretty much absolute, so anything a PC tries to do that isn't covered by another rule is a check. This can be an attack or an 'other check', and each of these types uses the appropriate rules. Other can either be a skill check, or an ability check if no obvious skill applies.

Note that DCs are set either by the defense of the opponent (attack) or by the DC and Damage by Level table. The GM is NOT given an option to scale the DC, but it can be cast as easy, medium, or hard.

The rest of the page discusses damage, basically saying the Damage by Level chart can be used to assess damage based on the 'severity of an effect', and can be used to assess damage when a PC improvises an attack, with the repeatability and risk/reward dictating which type of damage expression to use (DMG1 has 6 choices here, later charts reduced that range IIRC).

I'm not sure what anyone has claimed this page includes that isn't here. I would only say that it should be taken in the greater context of 4e. PCs are to be challenged by things of a 'level appropriate' nature, so situations where level N PCs deal with much lower/higher level situations/effects shouldn't EVER come up. If they did, then page 42 is effectively indicating that the DCs are always centered on the PC's level (though damage is not, see the top of the 2nd column about that). I would consider that level 10 PCs going back to the village to do something and running into situations that were level 1 when they started are either operating under much more severe constraints if they attempt similar tasks (IE available time is much less, conditions are worse, etc.) or else these simple tasks are not the focus of the action and won't require checks (IE you can simply break the wooden door down now, it isn't going to require a level 10 easy check to do it).

I'd note that the sections of the DMG covering things like doors and objects also account for differences in level, with a 'wooden door' for example always being a low DC, which further indicates how things should work. Terrain has a similar mechanism, though it is cast more in terms of "if the PCs are higher level then the terrain will have some higher level effects/characteristics which raise the DC, make something up."

Admittedly, the writers of the DMG (and the RC as well) never completely 100% divorced themselves from either the presentation of DCs as 'sliding' or as 'fixed', and never well-articulated in an explicit way the idea that the action should scale in both narrative and mechanical terms, but this is certainly implicit in the entire nature of the way D&D (and 4e in particular) work!
 

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