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D&D 4E Stunting in 4E

hong

WotC's bitch
Just brainstorming....

For all those wacky things PCs want to pull in or out of combat, but aren't specifically covered in the rules.

1. Player describes what he wants to do. Any given stunt description can only be used once per encounter. Tactical handwave: the bad guys catch on; cinematic handwave: doing the same thing repeatedly is boring. The DM is final arbiter on whether a stunt description has been used before.

2. DM assigns a stat or skill to roll, and a defense or skill to roll against. If the target is a skill, then it's an opposed roll. (Remember that skills default to base stat mod + 1/2 level, for monsters/NPCs and PCs alike.)

3. Type of action is determined by the specifics of the stunt. A stunt can take up either a move, minor or free action (but you can only do a stunt on your turn).

3a. Cinematic philosophy: the cooler awesomer more entertaining the stunt is, the less demanding the action required. A super- cool awesome entertaining stunt is a free action. A not-very cool awesome entertaining stunt is a move action.

3b. Tactical philosophy: the complexity and actual game time involved determines the type of action required. A very simple stunt is a free action. A very complicated/long-winded stunt is a move action.

3c. In all cases, a stunt must be a nontrivial effort on the character's part, and the player should also make an effort to distinguish the stunt from the regular flow of events in an encounter.​

4. If the stunt succeeds, the player inflicts one of the following on the target. The type of penalty is decided by the DM based on the stunt description given by the player.

4a. -5 penalty to attacks OR defenses OR skill checks/ability checks for 1 round

4b. -2 penalty to attacks OR defenses OR skill checks/ability checks, ongoing until the target makes a saving throw​
 

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Aust Diamondew

First Post
Could you give some examples of what a 'stunt' is?
For instance,
would pulling a tapestry from a wall to try and entangle an opponent be a stunt?
throwing sand in their eyes?
moving so the sun is behind you a briefly glares in their eyes?
swinging on a chandalier?

Just looking at it mechanically, spending a move or free action to impose those penalties seems a little too powerful.
I'd proably change free action to minor action in any case, should take some effort.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Aust Diamondew said:
Could you give some examples of what a 'stunt' is?
For instance,
would pulling a tapestry from a wall to try and entangle an opponent be a stunt?
throwing sand in their eyes?
moving so the sun is behind you a briefly glares in their eyes?
swinging on a chandalier?

Just looking at it mechanically, spending a move or free action to impose those penalties seems a little too powerful.
I'd proably change free action to minor action in any case, should take some effort.
Yes; yes; yes; yes.
 

keterys

First Post
That's a pretty big penalty for a free action... or just in general, really. Cool idea, but I'd probably not add it to a game without nerfing it some.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
keterys said:
That's a pretty big penalty for a free action... or just in general, really. Cool idea, but I'd probably not add it to a game without nerfing it some.
Hm. How about standard/move/minor action instead?
 

Sir Brennen

Adventurer
I know you're really asking if we can have more Iron Heroes in 4E. ;)

Once the rules come out, I plan on seeing how IH stunts (or the system from Book of Iron Might) would mesh with 4E. Conceptually, it seems like it would be a good fit. In fact, I think your steps 1 & 2 will be easily covered and part of the "norm". We've seen some examples from players at the D&DXP. Also, since Mearls wrote both of the above mentioned books, I'd guess his influence for this type of cinematic action will not be left out of the core rules.

My only concern would be, for more "spectacular" stunts, involving giving a penalty to the target, is how they would work with "the math". Do the penalty values your give work with the new BAB curve? How do you handle the effects of multiple stunts from different PCs on a single foe, especially if he already has penalties from some other source? Also remember, the gap between wizard and fighter BAB isn't as wide as other editions. It'll be common for just about anyone to try these stunts in a combat. And they probably will. I'd hate to see the standard opening tactic for the entire party to become "I throw sand in his eyes."

Lastly, and probably most importantly, stunts shouldn't be able to outshine powers. This is where I think rules for such things would have to be really watched. Many martial powers are basically stunts. I'd be pretty annoyed if anyone could do what I had to use a class feature to get. We know Bull Rush has been made a power, but that's an action which would seem pretty reasonable for anyone to try.

As with many of these house rules and add on systems for a game that hasn't even come out yet, this seems like an interesting idea, but we just don't know how it will work in play until we see the full ruleset.
 
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hong

WotC's bitch
Sir Brennen said:
I know you're really asking if we can have more Iron Heroes in 4E. ;)

Once the rules come out, I plan on seeing how IH stunts (or the system from Book of Iron Might) would mesh with 4E. Conceptually, it seems like it would be a good fit. In fact, I think your steps 1 & 2 will be easily covered and part of the "norm".

That's the meat of the idea: using the common framework for attacks, defenses and skills. The details can be hashed out later.

My only concern would be, for more "spectacular" stunts, involving giving a penalty to the target, is how they would work with "the math". Do the penalties work with the new BAB curve?

My understanding is that all bonuses/penalties are going to be in the range +/-1 to 5, and generally 2 or 5. That's how it is in SAGA, for example.

How do you handle the effects of multiple stunts from different PCs on a single foe, especially if he already has penalties from some other source?

I'll say they don't stack.

Also remember, the gap between wizard and fighter BAB isn't as wide as other editions. It'll be common for just about anyone to try these stunts in a combat. And they probably will.

Yep!

Lastly, and probably most importantly, stunts shouldn't be able to outshine powers.

I don't think what I've got will outshine powers, but we'll have to see the actual rules to be sure, I guess.
 

RigaMortus2

First Post
Other than pluses and minuses, stunts can provide other bonuses (boni?). For example, the swinging on a chandeleer stunt would reposition you. This is a bonus because w/o doing such a stunt, you normally wouldn't be able to move to the position you want to be in. At least, that's the idea.

So, other than a numerical bonus or penalty, what else can/should stunts provide?

1) Movement/Positioning
2) ?

Just looking for ideas. I don't want to pigeonhole stunts into just a way to get a purely numerical advantage.
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
I would frame it a bit differently.

I think move actions should be limited exclusively to stunts that serve your movement. Swinging a Chandelier to ignore difficult terrain, for example, could be a move action.
Swinging a Chandelier to charge an opponent would be a standard action (but give all the benefits of a charge, plus the "ignore difficult terrain" part for purposes of the charge)

Generally, if there is already a similar working power, pick any of the following (~1 for at will powers, ~2 for encounter powers)
- Increase the action time. (Minor or Move to Standard)
- If power deals damage, the stunt doesn't.
- Failure causes a penalty (typical example: stunter falls prone)
- Provokes an opportunity attack.
- Circumstances can't be replicated in the same encounter (Chandelier drops, table breaks, opponent's don't fall for it again)

Stunts can give the following "perks":
- Deal damage (typically with an improvised weapon)
- Target multiple creatures
- inflict a condition (like immobilized, dazed, blinded, prone)
- Push/Pull/Slide target
- Ignore Difficult Terrain/Obstacles/Enemies

Compare with powers to determine the type of action, and further drawbacks imposed, as described above.

You might want to assign point values to each of the above entries.
A standard action might be worth 2 points.
A minor or a move action is worth 1 point.
A Immediate action is worth 0 points.
Damage (2 pts)
Minor Condition (1 pt): Immobilized, -2 penalty to attack, Prone
Major Condition (2 pts): Dazed, Stunned, -5 penalty, Target caught fire (save ends)
Ignore Obstacle or Terrain (1 pt)
Negates Opportunity Attack (1 pt)
Grants Bonus to next Attack (1 pt)
Affects two Targets (1 pt)
Push, Pull, Slide Target 1 square (1 pt)
Push/Pull/Slide Target [Ability Modifier] squares (2 pts)
Minor Effect on a miss (two times the normal cost)

Provokes Opportunity Attack (-1 pt)
Causes Penalty to stunter on Failure (-1 pt)
Always causes penalty to stunter (-2 pts)
Can't be replicated (-1 pt)
 

Tuft

First Post
Sir Brennen said:
Lastly, and probably most importantly, stunts shouldn't be able to outshine powers. This is where I think rules for such things would have to be really watched. Many martial powers are basically stunts. I'd be pretty annoyed if anyone could do what I had to use a class feature to get. We know Bull Rush has been made a power, but that's an action which would seem pretty reasonable for anyone to try.


How stunts compare to published powers, well, that's going to be the rub.

Just look at the examples:
  • Swinging from a chandelier - very close to the Tumble repositioning power, or a variety of Warlord repositioning powers.
  • Tearing down a tapestry to entangle someone in - very close to the Grapple power.
  • Pulling the rug from under someone's feet - very close to Trip.
  • Throwing sand into someone's eyes - warlock's Eyebite (well, that one stretches it quite a bit... ;) )

Doing it as a stunt isn't going to be quite as good as doing it as a power, but on the other hand you save a power pick - a very precious commodity.

If I've understood what I've read here correctly, Mearls is a big fan of the Feng Shui RPG, where this kind of stunts came from. I've got a good friend and good GM who (as as many others) is working on his own homebrew system, in this case based on Feng Shui. I know one of the problems he is having with his system is that he doesn't want to define too many Powers (known as "Schticks" in Feng Shui), just because he doesn't want to limit his players' range of improvised tricks. Something tells me that Wizards, with their splatbook "publish and perish", cannot place such limits on the number of powers available. ;)
 
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Harshax

First Post
hong said:
Hm. How about standard/move/minor action instead?

Savage Worlds has mechanics for stunts (they call them tricks). There are tricks based on Dex, Int, and Will. They are however, all standard actions. (Savage Worlds doesn't divide actions into levels of importances, an action is an action)

All tricks, if successful, gave you the equivalent of Combat Advantage on your foe. Really successful tricks made your foe Shaken (which mean they were more easily damaged).

Tricks could be psychological - An intimidating stare.
... or mental - looking over someone's shoulder and saying, 'It's about time you showed up'
... or physical - sand in the eye, a feint, or slashing at someone's belt buckle.

Very elegant mechanic, really. I like where you're going with this. . .
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
Tuft said:
How stunts compare to published powers, well, that's going to be the rub.

Just look at the examples:
  • Swinging from a chandelier - very close to the Tumble repositioning power, or a variety of Warlord repositioning powers.
  • Tearing down a tapestry to entangle someone in - very close to the Grapple power.
  • Pulling the rug from under someone's feet - very close to Trip.
  • Throwing sand into someone's eyes - warlock's Eyebite (well, that one stretches it quite a bit... ;) )

Doing it as a stunt isn't going to be quite as good as doing it as a power, but on the other hand you save a power pick - a very precious commodity.

If I've understood what I've read here correctly, Mearls is a big fan of the Feng Shui RPG, where this kind of stunts came from. I've got a good friend and good GM who (as as many others) is working on his own homebrew system, in this case based on Feng Shui. I know one of the problems he is having with his system is that he doesn't want to define too many Powers (known as "Schticks" in Feng Shui), just because he doesn't want to limit his players' range of improvised tricks. Something tells me that Wizards, with their splatbook "publish and perish", cannot place such limits on the number of powers available. ;)
I think one 4E trick is that it offers more "granularity". You have more dials to tune a power or a stunt. If a stunt resembles a power, just add a minor drawback to the stunt - longer execution time (standard instead of minor), only special effect without damage, opportunity attack, can be done less often (item to perfom stunt breaks/enemies adapt)
 

keterys

First Post
Standard/move/minor seems fine to me... and it looks like there's a bit of decent discussion going. Or even standard/minor and move is just used for, well, move stunts.

I think I'd even be willing to do something like give someone bonus (in effect or action required) for the first stunt they do... that way everyone is encouraged to do one each combat, at least.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
I'm not sure about stunting to gain Combat Advantage. That could be too powerful for some characters (rogues). It's also likely there'll be feats/powers that let you gain CA.
 

Jack99

Adventurer
By incorporating such stunts, aren't you afraid that fights will become more static (as in pre-4e), as people most likely will be using their move and minor actions to do stunts, and then their standard action to attack?

Just a thought,

Cheers
 


hong

WotC's bitch
Jack99 said:
By incorporating such stunts, aren't you afraid that fights will become more static (as in pre-4e), as people most likely will be using their move and minor actions to do stunts, and then their standard action to attack?

Moving is a means to an end, the end being a more fun, entertaining experience. If stunting ends up being more fun than moving, then I win!
 

Jack99

Adventurer
hong said:
Moving is a means to an end, the end being a more fun, entertaining experience. If stunting ends up being more fun than moving, then I win!

I guess you are (for once ;) ) right! Although you haven't quite sold me yet on this stunting, I am a bit intrigued.
 

bjorn2bwild

First Post
Sir Brennen said:
We know Bull Rush has been made a power, but that's an action which would seem pretty reasonable for anyone to try.

Hmm, where did you hear this? I thought that bull rush was still an action usable by everyone (at least it was at the time of DnDXP). The power, Tide of Iron, thematically works like a bull rush, but is governed by mechanics that are almost entirely different than a bull rush.

now, trip, on the other hand, yeah that's no longer do-able by everybody.

Checking the latest version of the PHB lite:

BULL RUSH: To initiate a bull rush, you need to make a
Strength Check vs. the target's Fortitude Defense. This
does not provoke an Opportunity Attack. If you succeed,
you may push the target 1 space. The margin of success
doesn't matter, and 1 space is the maximum that a
target can be moved with Bull Rush (without taking
special abilities).
 

hong

WotC's bitch
So, just wondering how this stacks up, now that we have the actual books.

One thing that comes to mind: the auto-scaling of DCs by party level (DMG p.42) seems really silly.
 

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