Proposal: Background Benefits

CaBaNa

Visitor
This proposal is for a future character of mine. She would like to take the New Sarshel Enforcer feat.

Option A: Change the FR Impultur regional benefit to the LEB Sarlona regional benefit. Remove the "special" benefit and replace with associated skills Intimidate, and Bluff.


Option B: Change the New Sarshel Enforcer feat to the Sharn Enforcer feat. Change the prereq from Impultur regional benefit to CHA 13.


Open to other suggestions.
 

Moon_Goddess

Explorer
Option C: Change New Sarshel Enforcer feat to Sharn Enforcer feat, change the prereq from Impultur regional background, to Sharn regional background.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
My take:

I think this feat is overly potent and problematic.

1) Any game option that allows a re-roll gives the equivalent of +3.25 to the roll. The average roll of a single D20 is 10.5, the average of best of two D20 is 13.825. So right off the bat this feat is slightly more powerful than Skill Focus Intimidate.

2) This feat also gives a +2 to initiative, so it is solidly more useful than Skill Focus Intimidate.

3) This feat does not give a feat bonus. So, the average +3.25 here (and often a lot more) stacks with Skill Focus Intimidate. It also stacks with powers that give power bonuses and with items that give item bonuses.

4) Intimidate is an iffy skill to begin with. Any bloodied foe can be Intimidated into surrendering with a die roll, it doesn't matter if the bloodied foe is at 200 hits out of 400 or 1 hit out of 400. It's a backhanded way of doing a lot of damage without actually doing a lot of damage and the only range limit is line of sight and hearing.

A once in a blue moon Intimidate success in combat is ok, but any player rolling the dice twice per skill check will be making an awful lot of those rolls in many encounters. I cannot imagine a player taking this feat and not using Intimidate a lot.

Such a PC could easily intimidate 1 or 2 NPCs (or more) per encounter. Intimidate can also be used against multiple foes with a single standard action. Say it's against 3 bloodied foes. The odds with 6 dice rolls of NOT taking out at least 1 of them is really pretty slim, even with the +10 Will for hostile foe. And the out of combat use of the skill (e.g. for Skill Challenges) with non-hostile NPCs will be very large. Intimidate is the equivalent of old school Area Effect Save or Die except that there is a D20 opposed check roll instead of a save. With all of the potential other bonuses in the game system, this is extremely problematic. We're not talking adding a few more points of damage per attack, we're talking doing the potential equivalent of over a hundred hit points of damage with a single standard action. The only time this will probably not work in a multi-foe encounter is if the PC cannot speak the language of the foes.

Intimidate when used in combat is a skill that can directly take out foes, significantly overcome combat challenges, and result in fewer resources per encounter being used. As such, its use and potential abuse should be carefully controlled. I don't think we should disallow the options for it that we already have here, but adding new and better ones shouldn't happen.


I'm not sure why WotC started adding in feats that allow 2 skill rolls instead of 1, but mathematically it's extremely problematic.

Personally, I dislike the character concept of Intimidate cheese and I don't think we should encourage players to do it.

There are also over 1100 heroic level feats, I don't see the need to have a special Eberron house rule to allow a single feat in for a single PC. An intimidating PC can already be created without making him even more potentially uber with this feat.

And, the benefit of this house rule proposal is not really for everyone like most other house rule proposals (although other future or redesigned PCs could use it if it is approved), it's for just a single PC where there are already hundreds and hundreds of other options.

I also happen to think that we shouldn't be adding Forgotten Realms material to Eberron.

Just my 22 cents.
 

stonegod

Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
Just to clarify to KD: A change like this wouldn't be for one character; if approved, it would become an option for all PCs (even if it was requested for a specific PC).

That being said, the interaction of the Intimidate rules will bloodiness is a bit wonky at times. Of course, I have a very intimidating PC as well but he's only used the Intimidate rule once or twice (generally to end a prolonged fight quickly, not to do "200" hp at once). I have also had a PC use it against me in RL once or twice. So I've seen it from both sides.

My first inclination is not to allow this. But I'll listen to arguments both ways.
 
I've never seen Intimidate used to stop a fight. Ever...

However, if it seems overpowered then why not make it like some of the bluff feats. Say it can't be used in combat. That'll give you a nice buff in skill challenges without worry of unballancing combat.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
I've never seen Intimidate used to stop a fight. Ever...

However, if it seems overpowered then why not make it like some of the bluff feats. Say it can't be used in combat. That'll give you a nice buff in skill challenges without worry of unballancing combat.
I don't think we should change the rules just to allow this one feat entry into LEB.

If one looks at Intimidate in combat, best case at level one is generally +9 (18 Cha PC) Intimidate vs. 21 to 24 for same level or vs. 25 to 28 for n+4 foe.

That's a 10% to 45% chance of success. So that is probably why you don't see it in your games. Most PCs cannot get a decent chance of success if high Cha PCs have a slim chance like this.

But once someone adds two feats, for example this one and Skill Focus Intimidate, then it becomes a +15 equivalent or 40% to 75% per foe. Then suddenly, it's more than viable. It's basically game breaking at that point.

And a skill challenge then becomes 100% for non-hostile NPCs when the NPC has a Will of 14 and the PC has +15 to the skill.

This feat should just flat out not exist and with that in mind, we shouldn't change the Intimidate combat rules, just to allow this feat out of combat.
 

CaBaNa

Visitor
My take:

I think this feat is overly potent and problematic.

1) Any game option that allows a re-roll gives the equivalent of +3.25 to the roll. The average roll of a single D20 is 10.5, the average of best of two D20 is 13.825. So right off the bat this feat is slightly more powerful than Skill Focus Intimidate.

2) This feat also gives a +2 to initiative, so it is solidly more useful than Skill Focus Intimidate.

3) This feat does not give a feat bonus. So, the average +3.25 here (and often a lot more) stacks with Skill Focus Intimidate. It also stacks with powers that give power bonuses and with items that give item bonuses.

4) Intimidate is an iffy skill to begin with. Any bloodied foe can be Intimidated into surrendering with a die roll, it doesn't matter if the bloodied foe is at 200 hits out of 400 or 1 hit out of 400. It's a backhanded way of doing a lot of damage without actually doing a lot of damage and the only range limit is line of sight and hearing.

A once in a blue moon Intimidate success in combat is ok, but any player rolling the dice twice per skill check will be making an awful lot of those rolls in many encounters. I cannot imagine a player taking this feat and not using Intimidate a lot.

Such a PC could easily intimidate 1 or 2 NPCs (or more) per encounter. Intimidate can also be used against multiple foes with a single standard action. Say it's against 3 bloodied foes. The odds with 6 dice rolls of NOT taking out at least 1 of them is really pretty slim, even with the +10 Will for hostile foe. And the out of combat use of the skill (e.g. for Skill Challenges) with non-hostile NPCs will be very large. Intimidate is the equivalent of old school Area Effect Save or Die except that there is a D20 opposed check roll instead of a save. With all of the potential other bonuses in the game system, this is extremely problematic. We're not talking adding a few more points of damage per attack, we're talking doing the potential equivalent of over a hundred hit points of damage with a single standard action. The only time this will probably not work in a multi-foe encounter is if the PC cannot speak the language of the foes.

Intimidate when used in combat is a skill that can directly take out foes, significantly overcome combat challenges, and result in fewer resources per encounter being used. As such, its use and potential abuse should be carefully controlled. I don't think we should disallow the options for it that we already have here, but adding new and better ones shouldn't happen.


I'm not sure why WotC started adding in feats that allow 2 skill rolls instead of 1, but mathematically it's extremely problematic.

Personally, I dislike the character concept of Intimidate cheese and I don't think we should encourage players to do it.

There are also over 1100 heroic level feats, I don't see the need to have a special Eberron house rule to allow a single feat in for a single PC. An intimidating PC can already be created without making him even more potentially uber with this feat.

And, the benefit of this house rule proposal is not really for everyone like most other house rule proposals (although other future or redesigned PCs could use it if it is approved), it's for just a single PC where there are already hundreds and hundreds of other options.

I also happen to think that we shouldn't be adding Forgotten Realms material to Eberron.

Just my 22 cents.
1) Right off the bat, in combat, the PC is at -10, and if they don't speak a language they are at -15... I don't think the feat combo, with Option C (which I like best, just hadn't seen the background already.) is going to break the game.

2) And it is much more exclusive, requiring a specific background, unlike skill focus intimidate, which anyone trained in intimidate can take.

3) Not only does the PC start at -10/-15 for the roll, they get one shot per encounter at the attempt, and the target must be bloodied already. Once again, I think it an exaggeration to call this game breaking.

For the rest...

Intimidate can be used against an enemy once per combat, success or failure, and always with a ridiculous penalty. NPC's can be un-intimidatable, or worse, intimidating them can cause auto-fail skill checks. I doubt having this one skill optimized, and sacrificing others for it, will break skill encounters as well.

The rant wasn't needed, and didn't have anything constructive for the argument, so I don't feel a need to address any points made therein.

I don't think we should change the rules just to allow this one feat entry into LEB.

If one looks at Intimidate in combat, best case at level one is generally +9 (18 Cha PC) Intimidate vs. 21 to 24 for same level or vs. 25 to 28 for n+4 foe.

That's a 10% to 45% chance of success. So that is probably why you don't see it in your games. Most PCs cannot get a decent chance of success if high Cha PCs have a slim chance like this.

But once someone adds two feats, for example this one and Skill Focus Intimidate, then it becomes a +15 equivalent or 40% to 75% per foe. Then suddenly, it's more than viable. It's basically game breaking at that point.

And a skill challenge then becomes 100% for non-hostile NPCs when the NPC has a Will of 14 and the PC has +15 to the skill.

This feat should just flat out not exist and with that in mind, we shouldn't change the Intimidate combat rules, just to allow this feat out of combat.

To reiterate, +10/+15 just covers the penalty of -10/-15, and then the PC still must overcome the Will defense of the enemy.

Yes once adding two feats, it becomes almost usable... Not game-breaking, that's sensational.

No Skill challenge is ever 100%, as it's DM controlled. What DM would let that fly? Sure the intimidate heavy PC may shine occasionally, or come through on a difficult roll, but the Perception optimized Lanharath could do the same. It wasn't 100% on anything walking with him... He could roll twice... It wasn't game breaking. We had surprise rounds.

Nothing about allowing this option is game-breaking, it just allows core rules mechanics with Eberron fluff instead of FR fluff.
 
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renau1g

Visitor
I don't really find intimidate to be overly powerful, but then I wouldn't allow Orcus to be intimidated by a lowly mortal. The raging ogre barbarian, also not likely to fall victim to it. Now the weasly kobold sneak-thief? Sure, but that's in character for it. I might even give a bonus to the roll.

As for skilll challenges, a lot of them can't use intimidate for their rolls as it triggers an auto-failure. My Crimelord game had this when dealing with the dwarven king, if they tried intimidate, not only was it an auto-fail, but that also triggered a penalty to all future checks towards him.

There are a lot of things better than skill focus', including all the dragonmark feats, MC feats (that grant +5 on the check), etc. Also, if a PC drops at least 1/2 their feats (if human) or 2/3's if not, on being really good at being scary, they're paying a huge combat efficiency price.

I have DM'd many games here and have yet to see 1 PC attempt to use intimidate rules to stop an enemy. Tamarand's got a fairly good Intimidate check (+13), but I've never used it myself.

Also, best case at level 1 would actually be +15 (5 Cha, 5 trained, 2 racial, 3 skill focus) so vs. Will of 21-24 he'll succeed on 6-9, already well over 50% of the time without this feat. Heck even the n+4 one he'll succeed on a 10-13 roll.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Also, best case at level 1 would actually be +15 (5 Cha, 5 trained, 2 racial, 3 skill focus) so vs. Will of 21-24 he'll succeed on 6-9, already well over 50% of the time without this feat. Heck even the n+4 one he'll succeed on a 10-13 roll.
Best case is actually +17 with background +2.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Nothing about allowing this option is game-breaking, it just allows core rules mechanics with Eberron fluff instead of FR fluff.
Intimidate to begin with is game breaking.

To make it even better is a mistake.

You can call what I wrote a rant all you like.

Just because WotC writes something down on paper doesn't make it balanced.
 

Kalidrev

Visitor
KD,

I would be interested in what makes you feel that intimidate is game breaking to begin with. Given what R1 said above, there are so many situations that intimidate just doesn't fly with that I don't understand your reasoning for calling a once-per-encounter ability to make a foe surrender game breaking. The biggest (and most abusive) case you called out on was against a solo creature with 400 HP. As a DM, I would NOT allow my solo creature to be intimidated by a lone character. Why SHOULD it be intimidated by him alone when he can hold his own against the whole party? Against a group of standard creatures, sure, but then you're looking at a huge penalty to begin with if its used in combat. Even given the uber focused build you described with a +17 to intimidate, the likelyhood of it being abusive is well, not likely. Compare this with the striker who has focused purely on damage. If a standard creature is at 1/2 HP, even given the case that it is an N+4 creature, you're looking at an average of 25-30 additional hit points. I've seen SEVERAL strikers dish out over 25-30 damage in a single encounter power.
 

Velmont

Visitor
I have DM'd many games here and have yet to see 1 PC attempt to use intimidate rules to stop an enemy. Tamarand's got a fairly good Intimidate check (+13), but I've never used it myself.
I used Diplomacy... and reroll it with an action point. To no use... :( I was thinking to take as a next feat Soldier of Virtue (and take Intimidate as Trained skill and maybe use that option more).

But I agree with KD. This feat looks like broken if the DM doesn't use some judgement. I agree that some onster would never surrender (exemple: Fanatics, mindless creature), but I fear some DM would likely apply RAW.
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
KD,

I would be interested in what makes you feel that intimidate is game breaking to begin with. Given what R1 said above, there are so many situations that intimidate just doesn't fly with that I don't understand your reasoning for calling a once-per-encounter ability to make a foe surrender game breaking.
First off, Intimidate is not once per encounter. It's a max of once per encounter per bloodied foe. The PC can do this several times in a single encounter against different sets of bloodied foes.


You'll note that several people here stated that they have never seen Intimidate used in their game. There is a reason for that, but it isn't the +10. The reason is that many players understand the uberness of Intimidate and do not create such PCs.

There are players who want to play "save or die" type PCs (such as Orbizards or Intimidate builds), but very few players do so.

As was shown by renau1g, it is fairly easy to get a high Initimidate skill. Still, few players do it. The main reason is because it feels a bit like cheating to lock down a foe or make it surrender without doing enough damage to it.


In the case of normal Intimidate, say a player took the skill and had a Cha of 18. That's a total of +9. The chance of success at first level against same level foes is 30% to 45%. A 50% to 60% chance to damage a foe, or a 30% to 45% chance to taking the foe out completely.

That still seems a bit cheesy, but not so bad.

Now, up the 30% to 45% to 45% to 60% with a feat like Skill Focus Intimidate and the choice becomes a no brainer. 45% to 60% chance to force a foe to surrender, or a 50% to 60% chance to damage a foe (and of course, multiple foes can simultaneously be attacked with Intimidate without any real range limit).


Skill Focus Intimidate is bad enough. Replace it with New Sarshel Enforcer and it becomes amazingly good.

Sure, the player could roll a 3 and a 6 and get zip for it. But there will be so many times that at least one of the two dice will be 15 or higher (51% of the time or half of the foes it is used against) that it becomes extremely problematic.

The PCs wipe out the encounter in 3/4ths the time. And that's with a single feat, let alone taking both of the feats.


One really has to understand Action Economy to understand how uber Intimidate really is straight from the book. Taking out one bloodied foe changes it from 5 on 5 to 5 on 4 and decreases the encounter by a half of a round (and uses slightly less resources, especially healing surges). Changing it from 5 on 5 to 5 on 3 decreases the encounter by a round. This could be fairly common. And this is with no expenditure of resources, in fact, it saves resources.

Now, throw in a Kalashtar PC (like CaBaNa's new one) and although the range is now limited to 5, there is never a +5 penalty to the roll for not understanding the language (course, literally by RAW this does not work since Intimidate states speak and not communicate, but I suspect most DMs would allow it).

Even given the uber focused build you described with a +17 to intimidate, the likelyhood of it being abusive is well, not likely. Compare this with the striker who has focused purely on damage. If a standard creature is at 1/2 HP, even given the case that it is an N+4 creature, you're looking at an average of 25-30 additional hit points. I've seen SEVERAL strikers dish out over 25-30 damage in a single encounter power.
Sure they can (typically not at level 1 though, it usually takes several feats and some magic items to get this). Does that mean that it is balanced for any non-Striker to do Striker level equivalent damage against multiple foes with basically unlimited range and not using up a resource?


To me, it's not just Intimidate by itself. It's Intimidate combined with 2 D20 rolls. That's when it becomes extremely problematic. That's when it will work in many more encounters.

When there are 3 bloodied foes and the PC with Intimidate has a good chance of taking out 2 or all 3 out of 3 of them with a single Standard action.


This isn't like your uber Perception PC that noticed a lot of stuff. This is the equivalent of a multi-target Daily power that does a ton of usable multiple times every single encounter.


Intimidate is badly designed, but most players do not use it because it is so cheesy. New Sarshel Enforcer is worse. Instead of 11 or higher 50% of the time, it's 15 or higher 50% of the time. And it stacks with Skill Focus Intimidate.

And Will defense isn't exactly the highest defense for the vast majority of creatures.


The counter question I would ask is: Given the problematic nature of Intimidate (assuming it is problematic, but not broken), why would you want to vote in a rule that makes it even easier to use?


As a DM here, just like I would not allow an Orbizard into my game, I wouldn't allow an Intimidate build either. But that's just me. I like the PCs to be challenged without them having a go to the well ability to take out foes that turns a normal non-Striker into an uber Striker without using up any resources.


PS. Go look at CaBaNa's PC. It has an Intimidate of +21 at level 4 (with same level foes with Will +10 in the 25 to 28 range, in the 29 to 33 range for N+4 foes) and it is a Kalashtar. What a monster!!! :eek:

LEB:pC:Veruza Jeleka (CaBana) - ENWiki

I have no issue with CaBaNa playing such a PC. That's between him and his DM. But to make that PC or any PC even more capable with Intimidate seems illogical and a bit unfair to the other PCs and the DM.
 

Kalidrev

Visitor
KD,

Thank you for your completely rational and logical counter arguments. I appreciate that despite the history we've had, we can still hold a discussion without it spiraling into a flame war. Brownie points to you ;)

Your arguments are also valid and sound in my eyes, so you've won me over :) I had thought that the intimidate was a 1 per encounter (since it can't be used against the same enemies more than once), but I hadn't thought about using it against separate "pockets" of enemies, or even 1 on 1 multiple times over the encounter. Your reference to "Economy of actions" helped me to understand this better, and you're right, I can now see this being abused by a player with a DM who feels that he must run everything RAW (or has a judge who feels this way and overrules the DM).

In light of this, however, I do not think that the feat or the background are the problem (although they could be a significant contributor). I think the problem is the possible build abuse. For just the same reasons that we have not banned the frost cheese items/feats, I do not think we should necessarily ban this feat/background, but rather, we should look to reclarify the Intimidate rule. I, personally, think it should be a once-per-encounter ability, cause I honestly can't see someone failing an intimidate check against one group, and then intimidate another group in the same battle. If you meant to roar but mewed instead, then you should be stuck with those results. I also think that it should have a much smaller range than "enemy must be able to hear and see you" OR it should be given the same penalties to range that perception has (-1 per 10 feet/2 squares).

What do you think about that idea?
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
Thank you for your completely rational and logical counter arguments. I appreciate that despite the history we've had, we can still hold a discussion without it spiraling into a flame war.
We have a bad history? Bummer.

In light of this, however, I do not think that the feat or the background are the problem (although they could be a significant contributor). I think the problem is the possible build abuse. For just the same reasons that we have not banned the frost cheese items/feats, I do not think we should necessarily ban this feat/background,
Well, we do not need to ban the feat. It is already not allowed. It needs a special house rule to be allowed.

but rather, we should look to reclarify the Intimidate rule. I, personally, think it should be a once-per-encounter ability, cause I honestly can't see someone failing an intimidate check against one group, and then intimidate another group in the same battle. If you meant to roar but mewed instead, then you should be stuck with those results. I also think that it should have a much smaller range than "enemy must be able to hear and see you" OR it should be given the same penalties to range that perception has (-1 per 10 feet/2 squares).

What do you think about that idea?
I think for the most part that it doesn't matter too much. Very few people use Intimidate and for those like CaBaNa who want to, I don't think we should say "Sorry, we are going to nerf your build". I personally dislike the Intimidate concept, but I don't think we should change the rules unless it does become a problem. And that problem proposal should be initiated by the DM or a fellow player in the group of a problem PC, not the LEB group here as a whole. I have no idea how CaBaNa will play that PC. He might use Intimidate once in a blue moon for all I know and reserve it as a "Opps, we're screwed" ability. So I don't think we should create a new proposal to nerf Intimidate, I think we should just not allow this particular New Sarshel Enforcer proposal. The 2 D20 rolls is what makes this go overboard.
 

Kalidrev

Visitor
Perhaps I have misinterpreted how things were. I'm all good with the way things have been between us, but I thought perhaps there was a bit of animosity due to the whole Lan thing. If not, then all good!

About the Intimidate thing, you're right again. Perhaps I was hasty in suggesting that we nerf a base skill. I was thinking that the feat was already allowed for whatever reason, but yeah, I don't think it should be allowed either, so I'll have to vote no on this proposal.
 
In my eyes, KD has shown wisdom and balance of the rules in this case. I think the background should be allowed, but not abused. If it becomes a problem for the DM/PCs this should be brought up again. I'll hold off to vote officially.
 

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