ZEITGEIST Please offer balance and overall feedback for this ZEITGEIST paragon paths

roadtoad

Explorer
First impression stream-of-reading notes:

Applied Astronomist's Straddling Realities: The Avilona effects need some 4e rules hung on them. Perhaps fog (obscuring terrain), wind (difficult terrain) or calm air (dispels zones in those spaces).

Logos's Make It So: this power seems like it will be used for one thing only: crit-spamming. Giving out natural 20s will encourage crit-focused character builds that could get pretty ugly. Especially considering the relatively light number of hit points on most Zeitgeist enemies so far, this is a recipe for really one-sided fights. The first round of *every* fight includes a crit by some striker's encounter or daily, plus whatever striker damage-booster, plus whatever crit-focused weapon they've acquired? This could get ugly fast. I would either make it a daily or change the text to "you choose whether its first attack roll hits or misses."

Mad Shootists's Beam Shot: Freeze Ray says "vulnerable 10 untyped," which is not standard. Is this intended to be vulnerable 10 all, or vulnerable only to damage that does not have a keyword? That might need to be clarified.

Ibid, Shrink Ray: 4e creature sizes go Tiny-Small-Medium-Large-Huge-Gargantuan. There is nothing smaller in the rules than Tiny, so the reference to Diminutive makes no sense. Could be reworded to "if this would make the creature smaller than Tiny, then..."

Ibid, Rocket Launcher: Rockets sound awesome. Do they have rules?

Notorious Celebrity, One-Upmanship: Should be an Immediate Reaction, else it might kill the attacker between his hitting and his damage, which would be weird. Interrupts are usually saved for powers that change the outcome of the hit. Though, I guess "Interrupt" is thematically appropriate. "I'mma let you finish..."

Steamsuit Pilot: The negative effects of the 11th and 12th level powers can be streamlined to "you are weakened (save ends)" and "you are immobilized (save ends)" It has almost the same effect, since the powers whould almost always be used during the character's turn, thus giving them a save at the end of the turn, while adding some chaos to the procedure if things go pear-shaped, and all with less text (which also avoids the 4e-awkward "make a saving throw" text).

Urban Empath, Every Eye a Window: blindsense does not exist. Tremorsense and blindsight both do, however. It sounds like the ability is mostly re-explaining tremorsense, with and added restriction (man-made structures) and benefit (can target with Urban Empath powers).

I'll add comments if they occur...
 

the Jester

Legend
I've just started skimming, but the applied astronomer has an 11th level attack that is an area burst 1 and can do damage plus dominate each target for a round. That seems too good to me; most dominate powers are one target only.
 

Raak

Visitor
Logos's Make It So: this power seems like it will be used for one thing only: crit-spamming. Giving out natural 20s will encourage crit-focused character builds that could get pretty ugly. Especially considering the relatively light number of hit points on most Zeitgeist enemies so far, this is a recipe for really one-sided fights. The first round of *every* fight includes a crit by some striker's encounter or daily, plus whatever striker damage-booster, plus whatever crit-focused weapon they've acquired? This could get ugly fast. I would either make it a daily or change the text to "you choose whether its first attack roll hits or misses."
FWIW, Prophecy of Doom from the Divine Oracle PP does something similar (allows for an auto-crit), so I don't think this is too far fetched of a power.

Now my own notes...

-I would consider having all the powers from these paragon paths simply use "Your highest ability" instead of calling out Int, Dex, Cha, etc. That way any class can make use of these. That is the language most of the 4e powers use too, "Your highest ability". See powers like Wolfstone Frenzy and Sunspray Dance.

-Heavenly Flare: I would add your stat to damage there, seems kind of weak with just the d10.

-Applied Astronomist's Straddling Realities: I agree with Roadtoad here. Feels like a few of them need some mechanics to hang on.

-Cataclysmic Conjunction: Like Heavenly Flare, think you should add stat to damage here.

-Pathos of the Inanimate: How does this interact with items held by people? Can you pull people weapons away from them? Does this automatically let you bypass traps that you're aware of?

-Ethos of the Unwilling: I would change the text to read "to its next attack roll." instead of what is there. Just takes up less space and it is more in line with 4e language.

-Mad Shootist: The explosive gun aspect of this PP seems harsh and can leave PCs weaponless.

-Beam Shot: Roadtoad already mentioned the problems here with this power. I would also simply add that it "ignores cover" for wave beam rather than slap the restriction o nthere.

-Rocket Launcher: Want rules on rockets. Seems cool.

-Instant Boot Camp: This AP feature just seems like... it won't really see a lot of use. I'd consider scrapping it for something else. Your party wizard won't start suddenly melee attacking with a sword just because he has proficiency for a round.

-Shell Shock: Note that the entry reads Friendly Fire which is different from the power name. This and Cannon Overture seem weird to me with the flat +10, meaning it doesn't scale--maybe use ability mod? Cannon Overture needs the bit about the weapon/implement, otherwise it will be a horribly inaccurate attack.

-Crowd Effect: How long does the +5 death saving throws last? Is it always on? End of encounter? Etc, etc. Needs a duration.

-Shock and Awe: The bit about "bloodied" reads awkwardly. I would take it out, and just let it be a -2 attack penalty for each of the posse members that hit.

-Combat Focus: I don't think anything stops a PC from spamming Total Defense while out of combat and saving those extra dice for their next combat. Also, almost no one would use Total Defense in actual combat, except for a very niche build.

-Stances: Do these actually count as 'stances' since thats a term used in 4e. IE: Can a Knight use this PP and still be in their Fighter Stances?

-Polyhistor: Seems very strong overall, basic attacks have a lot going for them already.

-Close Stance: "Disarmed" is not a condition in 4e. 4e frowns upon being disarmed a lot.

-Steam and Steel: You'll probably want to make that +10 AC scale. Plate Armor for example scales by the enhancement bonus associated with it. You may want to make sure the suit scales based on the enhancement bonus of your own armor. Take a look to see how Plate scales in Heroes of the Fallen Lands (or one of the other essential books that list it).

-Steam and Steel: A larger suit is worse at climbing? Why? Seems weird to me.

-Steam Blast: Harsh penalty (standard action to get your suit going again?)

-Every Building a Welcoming Home: I would just say this gives you phasing and streamline the language.

-Every Window an Eye: Roadtoad mentioned the problems with this ability.

-Vision of the Fall: This insta-kills all minions on the board pretty much. Seems powerful.

...

Overall, these are very cool, and I'm very glad I kickstarted Zeitgeist. Looking forward to the future adventures!
 

roadtoad

Explorer
FWIW, Prophecy of Doom from the Divine Oracle PP does something similar (allows for an auto-crit), so I don't think this is too far fetched of a power.!
The difference being that Prophecy of Doom converts a hit into a crit, making it slightly less abusive. You might really want your Assassin with a Vicious Weapon to be the one delivering the crit, but if he drops a 4 on the attack roll, it's not going to happen, and then when the Paladin hits he has to decide whether to use up the crit or leave it there for the much-higher damage potential of the rogue, but the rogue might miss and then the whole thing's wasted. Make it So just says "take the highest potential damage my party can deliver."
 
I agree with a lot. I'll only point out where I disagree.

-I would consider having all the powers from these paragon paths simply use "Your highest ability" instead of calling out Int, Dex, Cha, etc. That way any class can make use of these. That is the language most of the 4e powers use too, "Your highest ability". See powers like Wolfstone Frenzy and Sunspray Dance.
Agreed. A little odd to use your Dexterity to argue philosophy but hey, that's 4e for you.

-Heavenly Flare: I would add your stat to damage there, seems kind of weak with just the d10.
I felt that the ongoing 10 damage possible from the plane of fire was sufficient, especially since there's a lot of control options here. Most area burst powers I saw for PPs were 2d10+primary ability, which is about the same as 1d10+10. I could be convinced, though.

-Pathos of the Inanimate: How does this interact with items held by people? Can you pull people weapons away from them? Does this automatically let you bypass traps that you're aware of?
Clarified 'unattended object.' And yes, mechanical traps you're aware of are no longer a threat. But since I'm writing the campaign I know that we don't really have any mechanical traps in paragon tier.

-Mad Shootist: The explosive gun aspect of this PP seems harsh and can leave PCs weaponless.
The idea is to keep the PC from handing his super-gun to an ally. And to give a nifty option if the party really needs to blow something up.

-Instant Boot Camp: This AP feature just seems like... it won't really see a lot of use. I'd consider scrapping it for something else. Your party wizard won't start suddenly melee attacking with a sword just because he has proficiency for a round.
Mostly it's useful for "everyone move 2 squares," and just has a few other possible perks.

-Crowd Effect: How long does the +5 death saving throws last? Is it always on? End of encounter? Etc, etc. Needs a duration.
"While you have an audience, you gain a +5 bonus on death saving throws, and whenever you bloody or drop an enemy you gain 5 temporary hit points." Clearer.

-Shock and Awe: The bit about "bloodied" reads awkwardly. I would take it out, and just let it be a -2 attack penalty for each of the posse members that hit.
I originally let you make an Intimidate check against bloodied enemies, but the whole "Intimidate them into surrendering" mechanic is kinda B.S.

-Combat Focus: I don't think anything stops a PC from spamming Total Defense while out of combat and saving those extra dice for their next combat. Also, almost no one would use Total Defense in actual combat, except for a very niche build.
Tweak: "If you spend a standard action to take a Total Defense, you also gain three additional martial dice as long as there is an enemy actively engaged in combat within 10 squares. You can have a maximum of ten dice in your martial pool at any time, and whenever you start a new encounter your total resets to three."

Mostly it's a nod to realism, since folks have complained about per-encounter fighter abilities. And to let you mimic assassination attacks by observing for a few rounds.

-Stances: Do these actually count as 'stances' since thats a term used in 4e. IE: Can a Knight use this PP and still be in their Fighter Stances?
I've called them Elementary Stances, and said you can have one elementary and one other stance active at a time.

-Polyhistor: Seems very strong overall, basic attacks have a lot going for them already.
I tried to make it weaker but slightly more flexible than the Essentials martial character Paragon Paths.

-Close Stance: "Disarmed" is not a condition in 4e. 4e frowns upon being disarmed a lot.
Too bad. It's dumb that the game doesn't have it.

--Steam and Steel: A larger suit is worse at climbing? Why? Seems weird to me.
Because you're too heavy and stuff breaks when you try to pull yourself up? The center of balance isn't good so you dangle too far out from the wall? Basically I wanted a trade off between Iron Man and Iron Monger.

-Steam Blast: Harsh penalty (standard action to get your suit going again?)
Look at how much damage it does. It's a "fire everything and hope it kills the bad guy" power.

-Every Building a Welcoming Home: I would just say this gives you phasing and streamline the language.
I think I'll keep the more convoluted requirement for the sake of flavor.

-Vision of the Fall: This insta-kills all minions on the board pretty much. Seems powerful.
I am considering tweaking minions in the compilation so they're the "two-hit" kind. Anything that does X damage (10 + level?) kills them. Otherwise the damage bloodies them, and any extra damage kills them.


Overall, these are very cool, and I'm very glad I kickstarted Zeitgeist. Looking forward to the future adventures!
Glad you like them! I'll be uploading the whole Expanded Player Guide text to the Gold Supporter's Forum soon, for folks to pick over and offer more suggestions. I really appreciate the feedback.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Totally off-the cuff thoughts:

General note: These are complicated, but flavourful. I have a strong preference for clean, since 4E characters have a lot of fiddly bits as it is, but for campaign-specific paragon paths that are very flavourful, I guess I'm OK with it.

General note: the word “her” only appears in the document as either “his or her” (once) or in reference to Srasama. Every time a sentence refers to a character or an enemy, that creature or person is described as male. I noticed this about halfway through reading the document, which pompted me to do a few finds. How about mixing it up, or using the neutral they/their?

Astronomist
Touching the Wheel of Heaven: the description says to roll twice a day, but the table says to roll three times. I’d stick to two – choosing between two riders each time the power is used is already fiddly to remember.

Straddling Realities: I agree that adding obscuring to the Avilona rider and other 4E rules would be helpful here. Also, on the Nem decay effect, it might be helpful to specify a number of years – maybe something simple, like 10 years per round, just as a point of reference.

Logos
Intro: “It is said that the … learned to yield such power…” I assume this should be wield.

Pathos of the Inanimate: I’d make the manipulation of objects require a standard action (e.g. forcing a gun to fire).

Make it So: I like the theme, but as a player in a party with a vicious weapon archer ranger, one free crit per encounter might be broken – I think the player using this power will choose the natural 20 probably 90% of the time, since it’s almost always going to be better than having an enemy automatically miss.

Revoke Agency: Super domination on a hit, and domination on a miss? Hmmmm. This one might be OK.

Mad Shootist
What do the rockets do? Is that covered in the Player’s Guide or something?

Monument of War
Friendly Fire: Don’t bursts and blasts ignore cover?

Notorious Celebrity
Crowd Effect: Do the +5 bonuses to death saves stack? How long do they last?

Polyhistor
Five stances is a lot, considering that most characters who take this paragon path will be martial characters who may already have one or more stances. Still, it's interesting enough that I don't think it needs changing.

Urban Empath
My Spirit Medium player is going to adore this.
 

roadtoad

Explorer
Monument of War
Friendly Fire: Don’t bursts and blasts ignore cover?
bursts and blasts ignore concealment, not cover. When a grenade comes into the room, hiding in shadows will not help you, but being behind that desk will.
 

Ajar

Explorer
Oh yeah, that's right. I often forget about cover because one of my main 4E characters can auto-stealth (combining Cunning Sneak with Shadow Walk), and the DM sometimes has intelligent enemies use burst or blast powers to get around the fact that I'm usually hidden. I was lumping cover in with concealment.
 

roadtoad

Explorer
Showed the Steamsuit Pilot to my Technologist player, who is also a bit of a power gamer.

Response: "Activate and deactivate the suit as a free action? So, if we're up against something that dominates, I can deactivate at the end of my turn, and then activate again at the start of my turn. That way, if I get dominated, all it can force me to do on my first turn is re-activate the suit instead of attacking."
 

Elfshire

Visitor
Thoughts that occur to me as I read this:

I'm wondering if the Skyseer prerequisites should be Nature and Religion, since Religion was used to identify the celestial icons in Chapter 3's ziggurat.

Also isn't the existence of Reida as the plane of time a secret? It seems purposefully not mentioned in the original Player's Guide. Seems odd to just give it away in the PP description.

Area-of-effect domination is too powerful, at least for an encounter power. Maybe just one creature is subject to Av's rider?

What happens if the bigass firegem from Straddling Realities (Jiese) is ignited?

For Straddling Realities (Apet), it might be easier to simply delete the text that says the distance is effectively infinite... otherwise I could see players using Walking the Cosmos as an argument that they can still attack across the threshold.

Make it So is absolutely too powerful. Should probably reword to "the attack automatically hits or misses, your choice."

What the heck do Rockets do? Or are they supposed to be grenades for the RPG weapon from Chapter 4?

I'm not sure most players who originally chose to play Yerasol Veterans were expecting to suddenly manifest psionic powers, but on the other hand turning PTSD into a fighting style is too damned cool for words.

Polyhistor is interesting... it's a bit complex, but otherwise seems really cool.

The City Whispers needs a duration listed, which I assume is until end of encounter / 5 minutes.

--------

And may I just say you guys are doing a fantastic job with the campaign and its supplements thus far! I feel like most of the posts I make on this forum are criticisms and corrections (to be fair, you asked for it), so I just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying everything you've put out so far, and I eagerly await more installments - even behind schedule, it's worth the wait. Keep it up!
 
Showed the Steamsuit Pilot to my Technologist player, who is also a bit of a power gamer.

Response: "Activate and deactivate the suit as a free action? So, if we're up against something that dominates, I can deactivate at the end of my turn, and then activate again at the start of my turn. That way, if I get dominated, all it can force me to do on my first turn is re-activate the suit instead of attacking."
Okay, duly noted.

Reida's existence was sort of meant to be a secret, but it's not very key. While in a perfect world I could make it so the player only discovers its existence when they gain this paragon path and realize, "Wow, there's a whole extra planet I never learned about. I wonder what that means...," I want to keep all the player information in one place. So a small mystery has to be sacrificed.

I'm switching Av's power to dazing and granting insubstantial, because you're in a dreamworld. So your enemy can't take as many actions, and thus is a big threat, but he's harder to hurt.

A big-ass firegem would burn slowly, like a pile of coal. A big-ass pile of firedust would burst like gunpowder, but that's neither here nor there.

I've switched Make it So to 'hit or miss.'

Rockets are basically ranged 20/40 grenades, and since you fire them from your blaster they can benefit from enhancement bonuses.
 

Shimrath

Explorer
-Vision of the Fall: This insta-kills all minions on the board pretty much. Seems powerful.
Last session, the followers of Chesimox attacked. The Constables put the camp on alert and ventured forth to battle the oncoming hoard. . .including 40 minions.

My Vekeshi player asked me to clarify how Vision of the Fall worked, realizing that it had the potential to remove all 40 minions in a single strike. I decided, on the fly, that the power would effect any allies of the target within 10 squares of the target, rather than "any that you can see". A good 20 or so minions were still obliterated.

While i think the power is brilliant in a narrative sense, i feel like it's too powerful mechanically. It's only really a problem when minions are involved, but i've not seen any other powers that damage every enemy in sight.

As a fix, i might keep my "10 square" limitation and making it a daily power instead of an encounter.

Another fix might involve a special rule for minions, perhaps requiring a secondary attack roll?

Any thoughts? Does anybody else feel like the power is too much?

Vision of the Fall - Vekeshi Excoriant Attack 11 (Extended Player's Guide page 31)

Thanks,
-Shimrath.
 
By adventure 8 or 9, I'd worked out a statblock for large units, which I think worked better than treating foes as a bunch of minions.

See Satyr Phalanx in adventure 9. It's a minion (since by the time the party is 20th level, a bunch of foot soldiers are no threat), but has this mechanic:

Each phalanx consists of forty satyrs working in tandem, filling the space of a Huge creature. The unit needs only fill 9 contiguous spaces, and it can move through any opening an individual satyr could move through.

Any effect that deals at least 18 damage ‘kills’ the phalanx—wounding enough of the satyrs that the rest panic and disperse. Any lesser amount of damage bloodies the phalanx, or ‘kills’ it if it is already bloodied.
Its attack mode is to make a really low-damage attack against each enemy within 2 squares.

In the same adventure, a Centaur Cavalry Unit works in a similar fashion. It's a dozen centaurs working in tandem, and counts as a gargantuan creature with one pool of 82 HP. Their attack mode lets them move and make an attack against each enemy that it passes within 2 squares of while moving.

If I were redoing the 4e version, I'd remake those sorts of encounters with different design sensibilities.
 

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