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D&D 4E My 4e problem.

Michael Morris

First Post
I've read over the 4e players handbook, and ran the system for 6 weeks, and the group mutinied and switched games entirely to Scion for about a 6 month run. We started back in D&D but the players want to go to 3e. That's what we're playing, but I still haven't quite given up on 4e. However, my setting poses significant translation issues.

In short, alignments matter. There are five - Abora, Balcra, Shunra, Sodra, Valra; and they roughly correspond to the MtG colors Green, Blue, Red, Black, White in that order, though these days it's very rare for me to refer to an alignment by it's color (further two of the colors are switched: White to Gold, Black to Silver).

My original plan before 4e came out was that each power would be linked to the alignment it best reflected. The problem is this - whole classes sometimes stay within the boundaries or one or two colors. For instance both the Paladin and Cleric classes are more or less Valran, which an occasional dive into the other four but not enough of a dive to make a non-Valran aligned cleric or paladin possible.

If I create new powers to round out the classes I would need to make at least 2 per level per color to round things out. This comes out to - ahem - a LOT of powers that need to be created to fill the wholes - more than even I fill comfortable with making up without testing.

The other alternative is just to surrender the point and tell players that they cannot play certain classes without having the touch of certain alignments (or to reduce confusion and stay in line with the GSL - "ethoses" since you can't redefine the crappy alignment system of 4e). This isn't a *huge* problem since this system is non-exclusive. A character can (usually does) have multiple ethoses, even pairings that on the face of it are contradictory.

The other tact would be to create powers tied to no class that could be taken up if the character's ethos matched a prerequisite. However, if I set previous powers as a prerequisite I again hit the roadblock that some classes can't pick up some powers.

If I abandon the schema entirely then I lose part of the setting's identity, which frankly 4e isn't worth. I'm going to pick up the PHB II and see if it gives me some ideas on how to deal with this.

Even if I do go the first route that would mean creating 3x as much material as I had to create to make 2e Player's Option usable for me. Course, once done it would definitely be something to see. Hmm...

Thoughts or ideas anyone?
 

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Bayuer

First Post
Well, maybe you wouldn't like this idea, but why you complicating things so much? color - aligment is nice, but leave powers as they are. Anyway if you have time do your own powers but is just too much work I think. Let the players play as they want.
 

Michael Morris

First Post
Well, maybe you wouldn't like this idea, but why you complicating things so much? color - aligment is nice, but leave powers as they are. Anyway if you have time do your own powers but is just too much work I think. Let the players play as they want.
Which means 3.5e, because the only way we as a group are going to move into 4e is if the world which I've worked on for 15 years and they've been playing in for 5 "feels" right. Ethos being consequentially tied to spell choices in 3e is a major part of that feel.

I'm perfectly happy with that choice, but I would like to transition to 4e at some point because it is a more interesting system. I can't do that unless I can mold it to fit the world. I will not cop out like WotC did with Forgotten Realms and destroy my world to make it fit 4e.
 

Roger

First Post
I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to pull off here, but based on what I've heard, I might be tempted to ditch the base classes entirely and replace them with the ethos. Re-assign class features and powers to ethos as desired. Use existing multiclassing subsystem to handle mixed viewpoints.



Cheers,
Roger
 

Tequila Sunrise

Adventurer
In short, alignments matter. There are five - Abora, Balcra, Shunra, Sodra, Valra; and they roughly correspond to the MtG colors Green, Blue, Red, Black, White in that order, though these days it's very rare for me to refer to an alignment by it's color (further two of the colors are switched: White to Gold, Black to Silver).
That sounds interesting. Which classes are aligned with which of your...colignments?

To be honest, I'm not sure there's a good 4e solution for your problem. I made alignment matter in my 4e campaign via three Smite Evil feats that are available to all PCs, but I think that's a little simplistic for your campaign.
 

keterys

First Post
Just so I'm clear... what's wrong with saying that Clerics and Paladins get their power from the Valra power source, and Druids and Barbarians from the Abora power source, Wizards from the Balcra power source, Sorcerers from the Shunra power source, etc. (Or however it actually works for your world)

As far as just making more powers... couldn't you also just go through assigning colors, then liberally copy from class to class?

Like, let's say that a Warlock's at-wills were

Eldritch Blast (neutral)

Listing two with each, since I'd think you could arrive from either angle, but the first would be primary if the power _has_ to be a single source for some reason.

Feybite - Abora or Balcra
Hellish Rebuke - Sodra or Shunra
Dire Radiance - Balcra or Valra

and if you needed more, add on
Ray of Frost - Balcra or Shunra
Burning Spray (PH2) - Shunra or Sodra
Storm Spike (PH2) - Abora or Shunra
Radiant Vengeance (PH2) - Valra or Balcra

And beyond that you could even go a step further and say that a power just does different energies and subtle other differences depending on which it's associated with. At which point you might have something like

Dire Radiance: Base = Valra, vs. Will and Psychic = Balcra, untyped (vines and thorns) = Abora, Necrotic and Fire = Sodra, vs. Reflex and Lightning = Shunra
 

Michael Morris

First Post
That's a thought - but currently any class can be any ethos though admittedly some are a stretch (Sodran Druids). I don't particularly want to break that up if I can avoid it.
 

keterys

First Post
Eh, Blighter I suppose - those seem to keep cropping up in D&D. What about my later comments? Like, is it okay for a single power to be multiple alignments? How about multiple alignments, but with game changes?

I mean, the Dire Radiance example you do get a very different feel, despite mechanically it being so similar.

Green creates thorny vines that slash it and impede it moving closer.
Red hurls a lightning claw at it that shocks it if it moves closer.
White calls on pure divine radiant power to smite the enemy back.
Black hurls death and flames that choke and consume the target if it disobeys the caster.
Blue smashes through the mind causing pain and redoubling the pain if the target thinks otherwise.
 

Michael Morris

First Post
Not a bad idea, but it brings up another problem. The ethoses aren't equal in all respects. For example - Valra is best at healing and Shunra is the worst. Shunra has the strongest offensive magic, Balcra has the worst. Balcra's whole theme of countermagic is going to be hard if not impossible under 4e, but Balcra's other strength is illusion and transport - it's just not THAT an offensive ethos.

Part of what distinguishes the ethoses is that they do some actions well and others not so well and still others not at all. It's a puzzling problem.

Also, I changed Sodra and Valra significantly enough that MtG can be misleading when it comes to what they do now.
 

Michael Morris

First Post
Here is the first page of the chapter on Ethoses which lists the powers linked to each ethos. It explains in brief what they are and might help those unfamiliar with my setting or MtG to see what is being driven at here.

------------------------------------------------
Chapter 4: Ethos

The alignment system put forth in the Player’s Handbook is, at best, primitive, with the vast majority of characters and philosophies labeled as “unaligned.” Undescriptive to the point of being utterly useless, the 4E alignment system is not used in Dusk. Instead characters have an ethos. This system serves the same purpose but accomplishes it in a more dynamic, fluid and interesting way. You can use this system alongside the 4E game’s alignment system if you wish, but there isn’t much point in doing so.

A character’s ethos describes what philosophies and values that character holds pre-eminent. It answers such questions of what the character is willing to kill for, or die in the name of. It is not a system for judging good and evil though. There are five ethoses. All five are capacle of good or evil in the name of the values and principles they espouse and engender. The five are:

  • Abora, which represents the natural world and its eternal cycles. It’s adherents see themselves as stewards of those cycles and act according to what their instinct tells them is best. At its best Abora is a calming and introspective ethos that sees how the world is interconnected, at its worst it is unthinking and instinctual in its responses to those things it sees as a threat to nature.
  • Balcra is the ethos of thinkers, philosophers and dreamers. It is the ethos of those driven to learn everything they can no matter the consequence imposed by acquiring that knowledge. At its best Balcra is curious, creative and clever. At its worst Balcra is stoic, cold and dispassionate, not caring in the least about how its actions hurt people and their feelings.
  • Shunra is the ethos of passion and emotion. Its adherents do not think – they feel. The do not ponder, they act. Theirs is a world where emotion holds more sway than logic. At their best Shunra’s adherents are loving, passionate and free spirited. At their worst they are thoughtlessly destructive in their unchecked rage.
  • Sodra is the ethos of the individual and self. Its adherents believe that everyone should be free to find their own path without restriction. At its best Sodra is driven, independent and resourceful. At its worst Sodra is selfish and paranoid.
  • Valra is the final ethos and it espouses community and the complicated laws, moral and ethical systems which keep them bound together with the goal of creating a world where everyone lives together in peace. At its best Valra is fair, just and kind. At its worst Valra is tyrannical and oppressive destroying the lives of the individuals of its community in the greater interest of the community.

Each ethos has two ethoses that are sympathetic to it, and each ethos has two ethoses that are antithetic to it. Each ethos also tends to label the values and principles of the antithetic ethoses as “evil” and it’s own values and principles as “good.” In truth good and evil is a evaluation of the methods used uphold the ethos, not the ethos itself. To further muddy the waters the evaluation of those actions are going to be affected by the character’s own ethos. Each ethos has the capacity for good or evil in the name of the values it champions (which is why it is possible, though not advised, to use this system alongside the alignment system).

In short, there are no absolutes. In the Dusk setting powers that normally work on alignment instead affect a character based on their ethos. This, combined with the nature of ethoses means that spells and powers cannot in and of themselves determine friend from foe – though they might determine likely friend from likely foe. They can also mislead.

Almost all powers and rituals in the game are associated with an ethos. This is because each ethos approaches problems in a different manner from the others. A character’s choice of methods directly reflects their ethos. An extension of this is some classes are more compatible with certain ethoses than others.

However, the ethoses are not exclusive. Nothing prevents a character from having more than one ethos, or even all five. A character can also follow two antithetic ethoses though such characters are almost always internally conflicted (which can make them interesting to play).

A character counts as all the ethoses he has. A character with all five ethoses is therefore vulnerable to all powers and rituals that affect creatures based on their ethos.

In this chapter we will present the ethoses and powers that any class can take so long as the character meets the ethos requirements (the character’s first ethos powers will come from his class).

Purity Boons
Each ethos has a ‘purity’ boon. This is an ability that the character can use if he has no powers drawn from other ethoses.

------------------------------------------------

The Purity Boons I have in mind are as follows:
Valra -- When you use second wind the +2 bonus to defense persists for the remainder of the encounter. This is a morale bonus.

Shunra -- When you use second wind you do not gain a defense bonus. Instead you gain a +2 bonus to attacks for the remainder of the encounter. This is a morale bonus.

Sodra -- When you use second wind you gain an extra hit point for each foe you have defeated since the start of the encounter up to the maximum value of your healing surge (effectively doubling it).

Abora -- When you use second wind you regain an extra amount of hit points equal to your constitution score.

Balcra -- You may use a Balcra encounter power an additional time per encounter instead of using your second wind.
 

You already know this, but your plan of coming up with a plausible, unique build for each ethos for each class is impractical beyond all hope of possibly accomplishing it. Even a publisher like Wizards wouldn't try it. It's far too much to do in your spare time. Think about it: between the two Player's Handbooks, there are now 18 classes (I think...). It is orders of magnitude beyond what you could possibly be asked to come up with in your spare time just to provide several times more options than your players will possibly be able to make use of.

And think about what the effect will be. Will it even make the game more fun? If your players care about the campaign being like the last campaign and nothing else, then maybe. But think about this: If someone wants to play a Valra Wizard, for example, and you make 2 powers per Ethos per class level, that player gets to choose from only 2 power every time. For all the extra work you're doing, you're almost eliminating player choice and railroading the character building process. Tsk tsk.


How about this? Emphasize the Ethos flavor with feats that encourage thematic power selection. That's what 4e is all about, actually. Look in Martial Power or a bunch of the Dragon articles (or just the DDI Compendium) for Multiclass Feats and Technique Feats.

One series of "multiclass" feats per Ethos per power source would be cool. Even that will be a pretty hefty chunk of work, but nowhere near what you'd be signing up for otherwise, and wouldn't slash character options. Here's what it would look like:

Holy Warrior [Multiclass Holy Warrior]
Prerequisites: Valra ethos, any martial class
Benefit: You gain training in the Diplomacy skill.
Once per encounter, you may choose one ally to be under your protection. That ally gains a +1 bonus to all defenses whenever you are in an adjacent square until the end of the encounter.

Holy Warrior Novice
Prerequisites: Valra ethos, any martial class, 4th level, Holy Warrior
Benefit:
You can swap one 3rd level or higher encounter attack power for this other cool and flavorful power...

Holy Warrior Expert
Prerequisites: Valra ethos, any martial class, 8th level, Holy Warrior
Benefit:
You can swap one 6rd level or higher utility power for this other cool and flavorful power...

Holy Warrior Specialist
Prerequisites: Valra ethos, any martial class, 10th level, Holy Warrior
Benefit:
You can swap one 9rd level or higher daily attack power for this other cool and flavorful power...



Or, do it as a Technique Feat. With this, you pick a theme, in this case one ethos and one power source. A character who matches those two qualities can choose the feat and gains a specific rider bonus on one of his at-will powers, depending on his class.

Holy Warrior
Prerequisites: Cha 13, any martial class, Valra ethos.
Benefit: You gain a benefit with any of the following powers you possess.
Commander's Strike (warlord): if the target of this power is of the Sodra ethos, your ally may add half your Charisma bonus (round up) to the attack roll.
Crushing Surge (fighter): if the target of this power is of the Sodra ethos, you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier.
Riposte Strike (rogue): if the target of this power is of the Sodra ethos, you may add your Charisma bonus to the attack and damage roll of your riposte.
Twin Strike (ranger): if the target of this power is of the Sodra ethos, you deal extra damage equal to your Charisma bonus.
 

Cadfan

First Post
BendBars/LiftGates covers most of it.

But given that your project is essentially impossible, what about trusting your players?

Tell them to pick an ethos and a class, and then tell them to make their character fit the ethos as best they can. If they care about your setting, they will do just fine. They will pick classes and ethoses that can be matched up, and create characters that work well within your system. It might still be true that its hard to create a particular class/ethos combination, but that doesn't really matter since the viability of unselected choices isn't going to affect your game. And any NPCs you need that use unviable options can be custom built as per regular 4e principles with only the powers they actually need to function.

Under this system, you wouldn't have to create even a single power, unless you wanted to use an NPC from an unviable option, and then you'd only have to create the powers known by that NPC.

If you can't trust your players to do this, well, I guess what you should do depends on why you can't trust them. That's up to you.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Two different possibilities jump to mind for me.

One (the one that's a lot of work) would be to go through all the existing powers and assign ethos(es?) to each one. Then either have a set of rules dictating how many aligned powers you need before you could take a sympathetic or antithetic power (2:1 and 3:1 I'd guess?). Or have a set of rules dictating what your ethos is based off of what powers you've taken.

The second would be to have a set of abilities for each ethos that got tacked on regardless of what class the person took. Kinda like a suite of channel divinity feats that you got each tier.
 

Michael Morris

First Post
BendBars/LiftGates covers most of it.

But given that your project is essentially impossible, what about trusting your players?

Tell them to pick an ethos and a class, and then tell them to make their character fit the ethos as best they can. If they care about your setting, they will do just fine. They will pick classes and ethoses that can be matched up, and create characters that work well within your system. It might still be true that its hard to create a particular class/ethos combination, but that doesn't really matter since the viability of unselected choices isn't going to affect your game. And any NPCs you need that use unviable options can be custom built as per regular 4e principles with only the powers they actually need to function.

Under this system, you wouldn't have to create even a single power, unless you wanted to use an NPC from an unviable option, and then you'd only have to create the powers known by that NPC.

If you can't trust your players to do this, well, I guess what you should do depends on why you can't trust them. That's up to you.
This isn't a trust issue - I don't know where you're getting that at. The point of the setting as it is currently written is that spells and the like are attached to color. Learning a spell of a color puts the player under the influence of that color. Because of the way the system currently works any spellcasting class can learn any spell, but no one character can short of acquiring on the order of 30th level spell slots or the like (in which case they're already broken beyond repair, and the ability to use any spell is the least of the DM's concerns in that theoretical situation).

As to supporting all 18 classes? Meh - I used to try poupouri world a long time ago but it's been a long time since I'd allow anything. Honestly I can't allow dragonborn or tiefling into the setting as is so why should I worry about whether or not all 18 classes are supported.

PHB II and the discussions I'll be bringing up over the next few weeks in this forum are basically it. If I can't figure out how to get 4e to work with my setting then I guess I'll live with being a grognard. One thing I have learned, 4e is more deeply flawed as a D&D base ruleset than 3e is despite being a major improvement over it in several areas. It has promise so I'm going to try to come up with something just like I did with Player's Option.
 

fissionessence

First Post
Part of what distinguishes the ethoses is that they do some actions well and others not so well and still others not at all. It's a puzzling problem.
Then why do you want all classes to fit under all ethoses? Or am I misunderstanding? I agree with keterys that some classes should exist within certain ethoses, and not within others. Hopefully each ethos would get a good mix of class roles, though; let's take a look:

Defender
Fighter - Seems to fit easily into Abora, Shunra, Sodra or Valra.
Paladin - Pretty squarely into Valra. You could find 3PPs to fit Sodra as well.
Swordmage* - Balcra, Shunra or Sodra.
Warden - Abora or Shunra.

Leader
Cleric - Valra.
Bard* - Any but Sodra.
Warlord - Any.
Shaman - Abora, Shunra or Valra.
Artificer* - Balcra or Valra.

Controller
Wizard* - Balcra, Shunra or Sodra.
Druid - Abora or Shunra.
Invoker - Shunra, Sodra or Valra.

Striker
Rogue - Balcra, Shunra or Sodra.
Ranger - Abora, Shunra, Sodra or Valra.
Warlock* - Balcra, Shunra or Sodra.
Sorcerer* - Balcra, Shunra, Sodra.
Barbarian - Abora, Shunra or Sodra.
Avenger - Sodra or Valra.

* The powers from this list will fit into varying different ethoses; choose only ones that fit your ethos(es), or modify the flavor of the ones you choose so that they fit.

On some of those above I kind of stretched the flavor of the class, but I don't think I went too far on any of them (that's without being totally familiar with your world). Take the character class and just describe it in a way that fits into the ethos the character has chosen. If you're worried about certain mechanics fitting into certain ethoses, consider that in order to uphold the law and community, the good king must sometimes use underhanded maneuvers to root out uprising evil in the society. And who better to perform these assassinations than a rogue who agrees with the mantra of the kingdom, and who knows that what he does must be done in, the name of all? The actions this rogue is performing seem obviously black-mana aligned, but he is doing them for his beliefs, which are white-mana aligned (and that is how is ethos is defined, right?).

If you're worried about actual elemental effects, such as fire coming from the Abora, just reskin powers so that they fit the magic of the ethos in question. One of my players wanted to play a shadowy psychic version of the witch doctor (from One Bad Egg), so I told him to pick either fire or lightning to change to necrotic (a lot of the witch doctor's powers use those damage types). He chose lightning, so now any power he picks that uses lightning uses necrotic instead. He picks those powers along with the ones that do psychic effects, and he has the character he had envisioned. Something like a Shunra wizard should work fine; just have the player pick all fire and lightning powers, maybe replace the cantrips with some alternate feature (or maybe not) and you're good to go.

Honestly, if you want every mechanic to fit into every ethos it's in perfectly, and you want every class to be available in every ethos, I have no idea how you made a 3.5 version of this concept work in the first place. Then again, I have a feeling I don't totally understand what you're trying to do here (and what's standing in your way of doing it).

~ fissionessence
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Another possibility that might be worth considering is to have feats for alignment to various ethoses, and the feats give a big bonus to one area and a small penalty to another

e.g. Scion of Valra gets +2 to all powers with the healing keyword but -1 to powers with (appropriate keyword). Scion of Shunra gets +2 on powers with fire keyword but -1 to powers with healing keyword

Set these up in a form that makes sense for you and go with that?

Alternatively, create a set of powers which are related to ethos rather than class, and create 'multiclass' feats which allow PCs to multiclass into one (or more) ethos, and then use power swap feats to get powers from the ethos.

Cheers
 

Engilbrand

First Post
Things will need to change. That much is clear. I find the idea to be absolutely staggering. Why, if you're willing to change some things, aren't you willing to change others?
If Clerics seem too much of one type, I'll assume that it's because of the fact that they tend to deal Radiant damage. Switch it to Necrotic as appropriate. Do that as necessary.
4e isn't more "deeply flawed". You're trying to do something that neither it nor any other system I'm familiar with is designed to do. I'm sure that you've made it work with other systems or editions, but I have no doubt that a lot of changing had to happen.
How much do your players play into the idea? Is it really that important to your setting?
 

Roger

First Post
The point of the setting as it is currently written is that spells and the like are attached to color. Learning a spell of a color puts the player under the influence of that color. Because of the way the system currently works any spellcasting class can learn any spell
I think this is your answer right here.

Attach all powers to colours.

Characters can learn any power.

That could potentially get a little weird, but it's where I'd start.



Cheers,
Roger
 

keterys

First Post
It should mostly work fine - there's a couple of powers that should not cross streams (like, defenders getting "don't fight me" powers from strikers) but those situations are pretty rare.
 

wannabesuperman

First Post
Based on what I've read, you've got at least a passing understanding of M:tg design structure, so that's how I'd approach your problem, if I were you.

Go to page 55 of the 4e PHB. You'll find lists of Power Sources, Damage Types and Effect Types. There are over 25 different "Types" listed there. Assign each Power Source to one (or two) of your alignments; assign each Effect Type to two (or three) allied (or opposed) alignments; and then do the same with each Damage Type.

You'll probably want each type of damage to be available to 4/5 of the alignments (in other words, excluded only by one alignment).

The effects should be based on the interactions between alignments, and so should deal with two or three at a time, some because of how they work together, and some because of the tension among them.

It'll be a system that sometimes undermines a build for players that want to roleplay well, but it'll be a rich character-building exercise when more options are available.

If you want help figuring this out, just say so. I love projects like this.
 

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