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D&D 4E My 4e problem.


You won't get everything to work just like it did under 3.5, since these are very different games. With that said, I think you could pretty easily do a four-tiered approach.

(1) Backgrounds. Everyone picks a background which goes along with their alignment. This gives a pretty minor bonus, like +2 to a skill or something of that nature. However, it qualifies you for ...

(2) Feats. Characters can take feats which enhance their alignment's specialty, so certain ones could get feats which enhance healing; others might get better damage on weapon attacks; others might improve elemental attacks of various sorts; others might work as element-swap feats, so you could change (for instance) fire damage into acid damage.

(3) Power-swap feats. Each alignment could have multiple powers. You could take a power-swap feat to trade it out - kind of like Spellscarred feats, only without a Multiclass Feat requirement.

(4) Paragon paths. Give each alignment 1 or 2 paragon paths which work with their stuff.

If this is done well, I wouldn't bother making any restrictions on what alignments can be which classes. The feat chains, powers, and paragon paths will make it pretty clear which ones work best. Additionally, reflavoring the existing powers shouldn't be too rough... Take the Cleric E1 power, Healing Strike. A holy character would smite their foes and heal their ally with the grace of their god. An unholy character would attack their foe, and siphon that foe's life energy to their ally. Same game effect, totally different flavor.


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First Post
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.
I know its not a trust issue. What I'm saying is that it COULD be a trust issue if you LET it be a trust issue. And letting it be a trust issue may be the best choice.

In a regular game, the DM might talk to a player and say, "Ok, so your character has a royal background and was trained in the royal knight's academy, which means he's a bit pretentious, very militaristic, and not much of a scrapper. That's great. When you make your character, pick feats, skills, and powers that realize your goal." And then the player does.

This doesn't have to be that different. If your characters understand your vision for each alignment, they'll be able to make something that matches your world.

The advantages are,

1. A lot less work for you,
2. Gets the players directly involved and directly invested in their alignments,
3. Can be used with absolutely any class created at present or any time in the future with no additional effort by the DM except reviewing the player's character,
4. From an player perspective, its exactly as good as if you had gone through every power in the game and matched it with an alignment. Because after all, while powers no one is using won't have an alignment, that doesn't really matter, does it? Trees in the forest when no one is around to hear, and all that.

The disadvantages are,

1. Less control. A player might make a decision you do not like. This is where the trust comes in.
2. Less immersion for the DM. The players won't be able to tell that there's no assigned alignment for Power X from Class Y that no one has taken. But you will, and maybe that will bug you. I'd encourage you not to care about that sort of thing, since, you know, you're the DM and immersion in my opinion should be something you worry about creating instead of having, but if there's anything this forum has taught me, some DMs really, really care about their own sense of immersion.

Here is a good source I would use for just what Cadfan is recommending.

Here is a short summary.

  1. You can change the power source, energy type, and trained skills of a class.
  2. You can swap which ability scores a class uses for its powers.
  3. You can change around class features somewhat, although it's best to keep them as similar to the existing features as possible.
  4. You'll need to rename a lot of your class features and powers.
  5. All this monkeying requires strict DM oversight! It's not an excuse to swap a class skill for no reason, or consolidate all your powers to use the same ability score.

Just tell the players to create their characters and cutomize their classes with these principals in mind. Then ask that you be able to review anything that is changed before play, and then make sure that they know that the game is in a perpetual state of playtesting. Reserve the right to ask for changes or removal of problem mechanics later.

Check out the examples. They illustrate a lot of this. Don't worry about remaking the entire PHB. Just do the things that you are going to be using. A campaign wiki with the altered powers would work great, and highlights that the powers are in an unfinished state.

4e is super easy to homebrew. Start small, only create what you will use, and build upon what you already have. This is all just generic advice for worldbuilding. Most people do this by taking a game system and mapping a world to it. You will be taking a world, and remapping a game system to it. The same principals should apply, as long as you are comfortable homebrewing at all.

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
4e is super easy to homebrew.

Personally, I'd say it is the most difficult to homebrew ever... and I've got over 30 years experience of homebrewing everything under the sun. 4e locks things down pretty tightly, and although you could homebrew by, say, omitting all divine power source classes, anything more dramatic (like MM is attempting) is much harder than it has ever been.



First Post
I'd say that it's just as easy to make a new power as it was to make a new spell... and it's much easier to make a monster. I'd say that making new classes is much more difficult, since _all_ classes have a spell list like clerics/wizards/druids used to.

I will say that I think people could copy powers with cosmetic changes more than they do.

PS, what you call "locking things down pretty tightly", I call making design goals explicit. By reskinning what I can, or slightly altering what can't be adequately reskinned, I have less need to create things from whole cloth. When I do need to design from a blank slate, I have a ton of examples as a guide for what will work well in 4e. The fact that they have tighter tolerances in 4e has actually made it easier for me to feel like I can make a choice.

Since you don't really need all new classes for your campaign, homebrewing will be less difficult than recreating the PHB. Since you only need those classes that the players will play, you only need to homebrew those classes. Since powers that are too high in level for the characters to use are not needed, this also cuts down on your work load. Since you have a whole gaming group to get this done, your individual work load is again limited. Since you have a very prominent role in the worlds premiere D&D website, you can harness the creative juices of a good part of the RPG community. Your needs are limited and your resources are great. You just need to decide on a systematic approach.

I am not saying that this will be plug and play. I am not saying that the only ways to do it are the ways suggested here. I am saying that the task is not as difficult as it at first might appear, and that the satisfaction with the product upon completion will likely be huge.

Good luck, and if you have questions about how to create specific character concepts from your campaign in the 4e ruleset, I would be happy to help you homebrew.

This is overall an interesting concept, and in some ways a lot like some of the things I do in my game world (which I've been using for 30 years now, since before AD&D even existed).

First maybe I should take a shot at interpreting the gist of what you're doing here, because I think while a lot of the previous posters have some very good points they may either not have explicitly articulated the basic assumptions or they may have missed some of the key elements of what the ethoses do.

The way I interpret it characters do not so much HAVE an ethos as that their character building choices and in-game actions organically evolve AS an ethos. That is a PC doesn't 'pick an ethos', they simply are what they are and their ethos arises from that. As you say, it may be that many/most characters don't pigeonhole into one particular ethos, but their choices will tend towards a theme, and some characters may be fairly narrowly defined, to the point where they might be considered to be of a particular ethos.

I don't know exactly how you mechanically factored in the effects on the PCs of ethos. You mentioned there were implications for the characters, such as perhaps greater or lesser vulnerability to magic associated with another ethos, or ethos associated items, etc.

In game mechanics terms I think 4e can handle this without a drastic amount of work. There are a few different tools at your disposal, some of which are already being used with the existing 4e alignment system (which I agree is basically not worth much).

1. Reskinning - As other people have mentioned, a LOT of the powers (especially the non-melee attack powers) are pretty easy to reskin. This can be used in 2 ways. You can go through and reskin powers in order to more clearly differentiate the predilections of certain classes for certain ethoses. Secondly it can be used to provide greater flexibility, so a player can reskin his/her character's powers to make the PC more thematically unified.

2. Specific feats - Existing feats can be reskinned or new variations created which allow you to reinforce the player's choices. The Divinity feats are an existing model of this, to some extent, though I think a lot more could be done with it. Instead of being Divinity feats they can be ethos feats. They won't be tied to a particular class feature necessarily, but they could be.

3. Class features - These can certainly also be reskinned in various ways. "Fey Pact" can become "Initiate of the World Tree", etc. Nothing really needs to change mechanically. The Fey Pact related Warlock powers can themselves be reskinned a bit to provide a flavor that works with the reskinned pact. The reskinning could be more abstract than that as well, where Fey Pact becomes more like "A Warlock that uses life energy". What ethos they advance with that can be a different question.

4. Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies - These are all really very malleable. The existing ones can be pretty easily reskinned or you can pretty easily write new ones. They are designed to be pretty lightweight for just this reason. Epic Destinies are really even simpler. There is very little in the way of game mechanics associated with them to start with.

I also agree with other people that have suggested that this is best approached as a process that happens as the game evolves. There is little need to try to define everything from the start.

I would get together with one or two of the players that are most interested in doing it and work out the most basic stuff with them. Just sit down with the 4e PHB and noodle it around. Consider what a particular character build might look like. What feat development would be needed to translate character X into 4e terms? Then you have an idea what you need. In a few hours you should be able to get to the point where you can construct a few low level test characters and work out what some decent power skinning looks like, etc. I think pretty soon you'll have figured out the general approach and then both you and the players can go on and extend that as far as they need to in order to build the characters they want to play.

They may even have as much or more fun playing around with the rules as they do playing their characters! I know it would be the kind of thing that would interest me as a player, but of course I don't know your group.

One thing is for sure, 4e is a lot easier system to DM than older editions in a general way. It has issues, but they are more issues of fitting a bit narrower style of play at the table than of being inflexible WRT the atmosphere of the world.


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.

Consider ignoring all fluff and names. Look at the powers and classes entirely mechanically and then justify the powers with whatever background you want from there.

For the most part, power names and fluff serves to anchor the mechanics to an idea in your head. The reason this is done is because most people have an easier time relating to the common fantasy tropes. I.E. Clerics heal, Wizards throw fireballs, fighters hit things with axes, etc. But at the end of the day, all a cleric is is a system of choices that a player makes within the tactical framework of the game.

DnD has this funky "if its in DnD its in 'this campaign setting'" thing going on. And while that makes sense for the general DnD(I.E. living realms, most games in common fantasy troped worlds) because it gives everyone an idea of what is happening in most games they might find(increasing the network effect), it might not work for your specific game. In which case you should just abandon all the fluff.

That being said, the "points of light" idea is very handy for a system to abandon that fluff. "Points of Light" basically says that stuff is unknown until the DM makes it known. In this case we can expand that to the players. You don't need to formulate a system for the entire system, you just have to say to the players "you need to create your own fluff for whatever class you choose that fits with your power source". They will go and make characters that do that. E.G. they might be a "black" cleric who uses the warlock or wizard class template. All they have to do is realize that any time the game says "arcane" it means "Black Diving Magic" or whatever.

That will take a lot of the work of creating a system off of you, and just leave the parts that you don't need undefined while making everyone more happy than they would be(since they get to decide what they do and how they justify it, giving them a bit more flexibility with their class and power choices)

Michael Morris

First Post
Well, here goes. This is what I'm going to go with. This will be a long time in drawing up, but I think the new class solution with a smattering of support feats and slight rework of ritual casting should embed the flavor of the setting into the 4e game.

We are the seekers of truth
Keepers of the five paths
The truth others glimpse
We see in whole.

Role: Varies. The role of a mage (plural magi) is determined by the color(s) of magic that his powers draw from. As a standing rule Gold magic supports the leader role, Green magic the defender, Red magic the striker and Silver the controller. Blue magic does not cleanly fit into any role - it being a color of trickery, illusion, time and magical manipulation.

Power Source: Planar. The magic of the mages draws from the outer planes of Carthasana's cosmology. Similar in some respects to divine magic due to origin, the magic of the the magi is not bound to the dictates of any deity and can be used as freely as any arcane magic.

Key Abilities: Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. The various magi powers draw almost exclusively from mental abilities.

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth

Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger, Quarterstaff

Implements: By primary color
Gold - Rod
Blue - Orb
Silver - Dagger
Red - Wand
Green - Staff

Bonus to Defense: +2 Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: By primary color
Gold: 14 + Constitution score
Blue: 10 + Constitution score
Silver: 10 + Constitution score
Red: 8 + Constitution score
Green: 12 + Constitution score

Hit Points per Level Gained: By color chosen for that level
Gold: 7
Blue: 5
Silver: 4
Red: 3
Green: 6

Trained Skills: Arcana, one determined by primary color, and one other from among all skills.
Gold: Heal
Blue: Perception
Silver: Stealth
Red: Intimidate
Green: Insight

Build Options: Quite a few...

Class Features: Ritual Magic

Magi channel power from the outer planes of Carthasana - Valra (Gold), Balcra (Blue), Sodra (Silver), Shunra (Red) and Abora (Green). Your spells are closely tied to your alignment and nature moreso than any other character class - for the you and your powers are one and the same. The path of the magi is the oldest magical tradition of Carthasana passed down from the days of primordial dragons and this form of magic is the weapon of choice of the most famous and infamous magic weilders of the world, names such as Telsindria, Yarenic, Serrin, Melshan and Sirrom.

Your path lies with the color(s) you choose to align yourself as does your role. As such be warned that the magi class is the most difficult to play. While the magi as a group can serve as defender, striker, controller or leader, an individual mage must choose his role with his powers. If you wish you can choose a spectrum of powers that lets you be second best at each of the roles, or you can focus on a role (and usually a color).

Creating a Mage

Your path as a mage begins with your alignment. Unlike all other classes in which alignment is largely subconscious (though it does determine what rituals a caster can learn - see rituals chapter) for you it is an active choice from which you draw your power. Your chosen alignment determines your primary color. All of your first level powers must come from this color.

As you go up in level like all other characters you gain power slots. When you first receive a slot you must choose it's color. Choose wisely - this choice is permanent short of the use of atonement magic (You can retrain the powers in the slot, but the new powers going to the slot must be the same color as the power that preceeded them).

Further note - although all mage powers only occupy 1 power slot, some require that you have more than 1 power slot be of their color. This insures that while the magi as a group have a vast and storied collection of powers among them, no one magi can ever master all of them (though a planeswalker might - see epic destinies).

Note also that if your behavior for a long period of time is consistent with an ethos you do not have your power slot on level up may have the color matching that ethos.

Magi Powers (Drafts - and these are among my first attempts so they could be WAY off the power scale either way).

Balcra Attack 1

"What part of 'no' did you not understand Lord Alskin." - Queen Tiliansia

With a burst of blue energy you break up an opponent's attempt at spellcasting. Do not breathe easy, they can regain the power at any time.

At-Will + Planar, Implement, Counter
Triggered Action
Ranged: 10
Target: One Implement Power
Trigger: Power Used
Attack: Intelligence vs. Willpower
Hit: Target power fails. Recharges on :6:

Sodra Attack 1

Silvery radiance surrounds a foe and wounds that should close do not.

Encounter + Planar, Implement
Standard Action
Ranged: 10
Target: One living creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. Fortitude
Hit: Each successful power use on the target with a slashing or piercing weapon has the following additional effect: "The target takes ongoing 1 bleeding damage (save ends)"

Each color will have 4 spells for each level, meaning that as a class the magi have a staggering 20 spells / level to choose from, far more than any other class (Also far harder to balance than any other class - but hey I'm a sucker for difficult tasks).

Baron Opal

First Post
Wow. Good luck to you.

I find that creating a new class in 4e is a daunting task. There are so many powers that you have to define.

I have pretty much ripped off your take on the color alignment system a few years ago and am finding it much to my liking, by the way. I call them ideals. I have considered tying the power sources to an ideal; divine to Order (White), arcane to Logic (Blue), primal to Instinct (Green)... but I don't have enough sources and I don't like how it comes together.


First Post
I'd recommend that Red's hp be higher - normal for a Striker is 12 + Con and 5 per level, and yours are set lower than a wizard's (10 + Con and 4 per level). You also have Green's (defender) hp at Striker levels instead of defender levels... and defenders really do need the hp.

Gold's hp are very high for a leader, but it's more okay to give extra hp than deprive them I suspect.

Michael Morris

First Post
No, red's hit points should be fine where they are. By design the red magi is the hardest hitting striker/controller class of all, but to balance it the class has a glass jaw. This is in keeping with red's fighting philosophy of he who hits hardest wins. No class hits harder than the red mage, but the red mage doesn't have much else.

Gold's hit points being high is because as a leader, or more often a leader/controller type of class gold doesn't have good armor (no magi do) or weapon attacks. This is fine by gold - protect, reinforce and bolster allies. Gold has the strongest abjurational spells, the strongest "new rule" spells and best healing magic. Gold doesn't directly attack at all (even the cleric and bard have better offensive options than the gold mage) but gold's ability to block attack or make it irrelevant through healing is unequaled.

Green is a defender by proxy. Summoning the best creatures and then bolstering them, it is those creatures which then do the marking of the foe and keep them at bay for the green mage. The green mage also has the strongest bolstering spells in the game to use on himself.

Silver is a controller color to a degree - but it has it's fingers in many pots as long as the mage is willing to pay a price. Silver has striker as a secondary role - it doesn't hit as hard as red but no other class can (or should) make red's unbridled and naked agression. Silver corrupts, divides and attacks things no other class has attacked before, like a characters untapped latent power potential.

And then Blue. Blue is a wild card. Countermagic is still a heavy theme still for blue. From the very annoying remand to stifle, to power sink, dissipate and counterspell itself, the blue mage is the class that can tell monsters and characters alike the word "No." When not interferring with the opponent's ability to generate an offense blue misdirects, manipulates and steals. I'll be outlining the powers of blue first because it doesn't play like any other class currently in 4e.

After the colors are drafted out as individuals their intergration will be worried about. Finally the issue of characters multi-classing to mage. My initial thought is that a character who becomes a multiclass mage can only use one color's powers and even then only the more relaxed requirement spells of that color.

Michael Morris

First Post
And now for new powers. Please remember I haven't been doing this long so some of these powers could be way off the mark.

Shunra (Red) Attack 1

With a cry of hatred you put your soul's very energy behind the blow increasing it's damage.

Encounter + Planar
Immediate Action
Target: One Creature
Trigger: You hit with any attack or power
Effect: Spend a healing surge. Instead of healing, deal that amount of damage.

Balcra (Blue) Utility 10

You rob a creature of a power's ongoing effect.

Encounter + Planar
Standard Action
Target: One Creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. Willpower
Hit: Spend another power of equal type and equal or greater level than a power the target creature is maintaining. You become the controller of that effect and the center point of the range switches to you.

Balcra (Blue) Utility 6

You imbue a creature with a power.

Encounter + Planar
Standard Action
Melee: Touch
Target: One Creature
Effect: Choose one of your daily or encounter powers. The touched creature gains the ability to use the power. For you this power is expended. The touched creature must be of level to use the power you imbue them with or donate fails.


First Post
They're all fairly strange. You're blazing new territory in the design space with these, so it's hard to say what the balance is like. A fully-implemented character might be easier to compare to existing characters.



First Post
You don't want them to have TOO much of a glass jaw. There's probably a reason that the Wizard has the lowest number of hit points.
I really like the idea of using a healing surge to add to damage. That's awesome.


First Post
In contrast, I'm really against the idea of using up healing surges for damage. I think that should happen very, very rarely. It encourages fewer fights per day, by letting PCs burn up their resilience for greater short term damage.

Michael Morris

First Post
Resilience is not a virtue all magi embrace, and frankly such a choice should belong to the players, not the system.

Ok, continuing - concentrating on Blue (Balcra). This is the color of thought and learning. It is not a combative color so making powers for it for combat is a bit challenging.

Level 1 At Will Spells

Balcra Attack 1

"What part of 'no' did you not understand Lord Alskin." - Queen Tiliansia

With a burst of blue energy you break up an opponent's attempt at spellcasting. Do not breathe easy, they can regain the power at any time.

At-Will + Planar, Implement, Counter
Immediate Interrupt
Ranged: 5
Target: One Power
Trigger: Power Used
Attack: Intelligence vs. Willpower
Hit: Counter target non-weapon power. It Recharges on :5: :6:

Balcra Attack 1

You goad your foe into attacking you even if your other allies present a more clear threat.

At-Will + Planar
Standard Action Range 5
Target: One Creature
Attack: Charisma vs. Willpower
Hit: 1d6 + charisma modifier psychic damage and you become marked by the creature (they lose any other marks they may have established)
Level 21: 2d6 + Charisma modifier damage

Balcra Attack 1

You mutter a few incoherent syllables and the world briefly spins about your foe.

At-Will + Planar
Standard Action Range 5
Target: One Creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. Willpower
Hit: The target is dazed until your next action.
Level 21: The target is stunned

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