D&D 4E Things I really like about 4e (and how they could be better)

delericho

Legend
Okay, so I've been rather harsh on 4e lately. And I've also made no bones about the fact that it is my least favourite version of D&D. (That's not to say I think it's not a good game; I just prefer the other versions.)

But 4e does have some very nice features. So, here are a few of the things that I think 4e got very right, together with ways they could be even better. (All IMO, of course.):

Action Points: I'm really not a fan of these as implemented in Eberron/d20 Modern. They're fiddly; they get forgotten too easily; they mess with probabilities (making the formerly impossible possible); because they refresh with each level, they're easy to lose track of; and because there's a whole mess of feats and powers that key off them, they're not easy to just ignore without losing a lot from the setting.

By contrast, the 4e mechanic is simple, it is easy to remember and apply (spend an action point and get an extra... action), it is nicely discrete from the rest of the rules. It just works. So, yeah, I do like that.

How it Could be Better: Give an action point every encounter, to be used in that encounter only (that is, with every short rest you reset to 1 AP). This has a couple of benefits. Firstly, it gives more opportunities for characters to do cool things, which is always good. Secondly, it improves encounter balancing - an encounter where everyone uses all their dailies and action points is much easier than the same encounter without those resources. And it saves tracking of milestones.

Artifacts and Deities: These are fairly peripheral to the game, but they're handled very well in 4e. That deities are considered extremely high level, but can be killed with ultra-high level PCs with just the right gear, and after appropriate questing is just right. And the transient nature of artifacts is also a good thing - these can now appear in campaigns for a time without totally dominating them... unless the DM wants them to.

How it Could be Better: 4e is rather lacking where it comes to magic items. In 4e Classic they're usually deadly dull; in Essentials they're a bit of a hole in the rules. The game would probably benefit from moving many more magic items over to the "artifact" category, and relying on the appropriate mechanisms more.

Class Roles: I wouldn't have been as explicit with these as 4e has been, but it was definitely true of 3e that some classes were a bit of a fifth wheel - it wasn't quite clear what the Bard or Monk were supposed to be doing. (Was the Bard a poor man's rogue? A wizard-lite? A jack-of-all-trades? Was the Monk an unarmoured fighter? A pseudo-Cleric?)

By assigning clear roles, it's easy to see what a class is about. Of course the Bard is a Cleric-replacement! Of course the Monk is a Striker! If we'd had that clarity years ago, the 3.5e PHB could have had 11 really solid classes, instead of having several that people immediately skipped as being "too weak".

How it Could be Better: However, a problem comes about from having four clear roles - one of my groups has only three players, and 4e characters are too complex for them to run multiple characters. If there's a role 'missing', it can be difficult for the party to adjust.

So, this could have been improved a lot either by enabling each class to take on part of another role without either being really bad at it, or losing a lot in their main role, or building in hybrid roles from the outset. (It is likely the hybrid classes rules would have fixed our problems; unfortunately, it was way too late for us by then.)

Powers: Now, I really don't like the uniformity of classes/powers in 4e classic. It all seems way too... neat, I guess. But the division of the powers themselves into At-Will, Encounter and Daily powers was a good move - it's good to clear up the divisions that had always existed, but were never explicit in the same way.

How it Could be Better: Ditch "Dailies". There are three ways I can see for doing this:

- Simply remove them, and replace with per-adventure powers instead.

- Have characters start their day with no 'daily' powers available. Then, after odd-numbered encounters (or just every encounter), have them pick one 'daily' to become active.

- Provide some other recharge mechanism - perhaps there's an action required to ready a 'daily' for use.

Why do this? As long as characters have daily resources, you'll get the 15-minute adventuring day. 4e is a bit better than 3e in this regard (we're up from 5 minutes to 15), but it doesn't go far enough.

(Note: Healing surges aren't on my list here, since I don't particularly care for them, but you'd need a similar fix for them to get rid of the 15 minute day.)

Rituals: Splitting the quick-casting 'combat' spells from the slow-casting 'ritual' spells was definitely a good move. This was always somewhat implicit in the rules, with the 'ritual' spells having much longer casting times and expensive material components, but they still left the wizard who used them down on his regular allocation for the day.

It's a real shame that these too seem to have been lost in the Essentials shuffle.

How it Could be Better: Three things:

- Drop the Ritual Caster feat. Anyone who can meet the prerequisites for a ritual can learn and use it.

- Add rituals for every power source (and 'mundane' rituals as well). There should be a ritual for non-magical healing (expend a "medic's kit", make a Heal check, recipient spends a Healing Surge and gains an extra 1d8 hp (or whatever)). Crafting magic items should be a ritual... but so too should crafting non-magic items. And so on.

- Add rituals with a duration listed as "downtime". These can only be performed between adventures. (Since these are typically not performed 'in game', they shouldn't require a roll - the prerequisites should be such that a character qualifies if he could "make the roll" (equivalent) by taking 10.)

Oh, yes, and add lots more rituals generally!
 

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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I agree with you on rituals and magic items and I think hybrids or a combination of hybrids and themes address the secondary role issue pretty well.

I think per adventure resources are an interesting idea but I think that recharge mechanics can be too fiddly.

I really like the healing surges though.
 

delericho

Legend
I really like the healing surges though.

I certainly agree with what they're trying to do, and I agree that it was a problem that should be addressed. (Or at least, was better being addressed than not.)

But the solution they've hit on just seems so... gamey. I don't know how to explain it better than that.

I don't hate healing surges. They certainly work well enough. But I can't help but look at them and think, "That's it? That's the best solution you could come up with?"
 

FreeXenon

Geeky Ecohumanistic Futurist
You have a lot of great ideas there, delericho.

My only real comment would be regarding your thoughts on the Class Roles. Being down a character has always been an issue throughout all versions of the game, since the "roles" have existed implicitly or explicitly in form or another.

Magic items are meh to me too. They have lost their magic from previous gaming era's, ut that was, in some way, one of the main design goals for 4E. In previous editions magic items were a little too definitive of your character and made a much larger difference in game play. Now they aren't required. It is hard to strike and appropriate balance. In my opinion if an item does not have a property it is not really magical - an encounter power is OK, but a daily only... not so magical...

I really like healing surges and how they are implemented, but I do understand that if feels less organic and quite meta-gamey for you.

Good stuff, thanks for posting.
 

ppaladin123

Adventurer
Have you checked out the "martial practices," found in Martial Power 2? They cover mundane item creation, forgery, embalming and some other non-magical activities as "rituals."
 

Riastlin

First Post
I understand the concern about the 15 minute work day but frankly, as long as PCs have any sort of limited resources, including hit points, this will continue to be an issue. Players are just too protective of their characters (and I don't mean that in a bad way, just that its natural). Heck, the game I was in this past weekend the paladin, after the first encounter, said "Guys, our next encounter is going to have to be our last one. I'm down to 6 surges left." I just shook my head. She hadn't used either of her dailies (or her Inspiring Fortitude). Hadn't used any of her Lay on Hands, either. But, she thought she was getting low on resources because she was down to JUST 6 surges.

Obviously this is a bit of an extreme example, but the sentiment is always going to be there as long as there is any sort of limitation on resources. Unless hit points and powers can be regenerated indefinitely, players will always seek to get their rests in. If resources can be refreshed indefinitely, I think you then eliminate some of the excitement and strategy that comes into play. All in my opinion of course.

I do agree though that magic items don't feel as special any more. Partly this is due to their generally reduced power. Part is due to the sheer volume of items characters are expected to get. I think that using the inherent bonus system can go a long way toward making magic items more interesting again.
 

delericho

Legend
I understand the concern about the 15 minute work day but frankly, as long as PCs have any sort of limited resources, including hit points, this will continue to be an issue.

Not necessarily; here are two possible fixes:

1) Split the character's maximum hit points into two pools, a Quick Pool and a Dead Pool. The former represent luck, divine favour, fatigue, and minor nicks and cuts; the latter represents more serious wounds.

When characters take a Short Rest (or uses Second Wind), their Quick Pool refreshes to maximum. Their Dead Pool, however, is a per-adventure resource that cannot be refreshed except in Downtime - no Extended Rests, no magical healing...

(Obviously, this would necessitate some significant changes to the existing healing powers, would affect encounter balance, and so on.)

2) Characters start the adventure with half of their Healing Surges available. Each time they take a Short Rest, they regain 2 Surges, up to their maximum.

Note: You can't take two Short Rests concurrently; you only gain the benefit of a rest if you were in some way fatigued! Also, an Extended Rest gives no benefit beyond that of a Short Rest.

Obviously, both of these would represent a significant change to the game, and the 'cure' might be worse than the 'disease' it's fighting! But, coupled with removing dailies, they would eliminate the 15-minute adventuring day - there wouldn't be any point! :)

I do agree though that magic items don't feel as special any more. Partly this is due to their generally reduced power. Part is due to the sheer volume of items characters are expected to get. I think that using the inherent bonus system can go a long way toward making magic items more interesting again.

Indeed. I was musing on this the other day, and came up with the following:

1) Artifice should be a power source in its own right. Even if the only class using that source is the Artificer!

2) Having done that, I would be inclined to divide items up into four categories: artifice (as above), trinkets, "signature items" and artifacts.

Trinkets are generally low-power, single use items, such as potions (and, in 3e, scrolls and wands). Items that aren't going to change the balance of the game significantly, so can be given out (fairly) freely.

Artifacts are pretty much as in 4e, except that I'd vastly expand the category to include things like the Vorpal Sword.

Artifice should be obvious, being its own power source. Of course, being in some sense "experimental magic", it makes sense that only the Artificer have the knowledge to work it out.

Signature Items are similar in concept to the old Weapons of Legacy - items that are associated with a particular character and grow as he does. (Of course, this could be handled by simply multiclassing into Artificer...) It's perhaps worth noting that this could cover both a specific named item (Aragorn's Anduril), but also "whatever sword I happen to have claimed for this adventure" (as with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser).

These categories obviously leave a lot out - what I would term the "standard items". To a very large extent this is intended. I'm now convinced that the time of +X items has passed, and would also argue that magic items should, by and large, "mean something", a goal which is better served by making them artifacts or signature items.

Of course, the major problem with that: people really like finding magic items in treasure! :)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Healing in any edition of D&D has always been a little wonky, because it's trying to reconcile two opposed design concepts. (Well, more so in 3e and 4e. I don't know if earlier editions cared). There's the simulation aspect of resting to recover strength versus the gamist (and genre emulation) concept of pressing on when the chips are down.

It's hard to argue against resting as an unrealistic simulation. In the real world, we don't do a voluntary activity that's physically demanding without resting first. Rest puts us back at full strength. It's so inherent to the human condition that you can't simply design it out of the game. Rest is mandatory.

If rest is inherently a solid simulation, where is the problem? The problem, of course, is the game aspect. Every edition of D&D (most especially the early versions) is a game of resource management. The goal of the game is gain treasure and experience. To do so, you must expend resources, most commonly your vitality (Hit Points) and magic spells. (Other physical resources like food, water, and supplies were also a consideration in early editions, less so in 3e and 4e). You regain resources by resting. The other consideration is that probability of success increases with the amount of resources available, and the probability of catastrophic failure (i.e. death or other loss of progress, as opposed to not making progress) increases markedly as the amount of resources nears zero.

So, the most rational approach to standard D&D conditions is to rest up completely before any encounter where the probability of success is less than 100%, and the possibility of death is not zero. Hence, 5-min adventuring day.

This is where the genre emulation and gamism come in. The 5-min adventuring day is perfectly rational, but it's boring. Genre heroes don't retreat when bruised. Games where the probabilities are near certain aren't as engaging. So, what incentives can be put into the game to reward fun play over rational, efficient play? (Note that this issue is also a key driver of many MMO mechanics).

Older edtions did this by linking greater progress to pressing on. The better treasure was at the lower levels of the dungeon, so you couldn't progress by simply doing one fight at a time. Resources beyond your personal vitality and spells (such as healing potions and scrolls) were also available to be gained via progression, allowing for gain in resources outside of rest and retreat.

While the gain of resources outside of personal power was tightly controlled by the DM in earlier editions, much of that power was shifted to the players in 3e, by means of a more robust and structured magic item creation system. This allowed for the efficient transfer of treaure into more endurance. Wands of cure light wounds meant that rationally, a loss of hit points had a fixed gold cost. Also, the amount of personal endurance was vastly increased by the greater amount of spells that could be used by the spellcasting classes. Since the increased spell load could also be manipulated to increase effectiveness, with the trade-off of increased endurance (i.e. going nova), the rational approach was still to face as few encounters as possible, but face more challenging ones (since amount of progress had become more explicitly coupled to the amount of challenge provided by an encounter) when possible to allow for the most efficient use of the increased amounts of abilities.

4e provided several solutions, with the aim of pushing towards a low-rest baseline. While earlier editions had incentivized progression (both for its own sake and to provide endurance), 4e sought to minimize resource cost. At-will and encounter powers provided combat novelty while zeroing resource cost. Healing surges provided a secondary vitality resource that minimized probability of catastrophic failure (low HP = high chance of dying, full HP = low chance of dying) while still adding a simulationist pressure of dwindling resources. (After all, there's no point of having resources if they can't be expended).

However, some have argued that 4e didn't go far enough in its design. Low incentive to rest is still some incentive to rest. Daily powers are both flashy and powerful, and their expenditure still represents a diminished probabilty of success and a higher probability of catastrophe. This is perversely encouraged by 4e's encounter design. Since every encounter should occur with the characters at or near full strength, and encounters deplete resources so slowly (due to their decreased cost), every encounter must provide a non-zero chance of catastrophe to provide any meaningful challenge. The best way to prevent catastrophe is the use of your most powerful abilities, which are your daily powers. Since the difficulty of any encounter can be hard to assess in the first few rounds, and the most efficient deployment of any stronger resource is at the beginning on the battle (something explicitly encouraged by dailies with encounter durations), it creates a situations where efficient play is to start off with dailies, and then assess the remaining threat to see if more dailies are necessary.

So, what other options are there? I'd start with decoupling resources from combat effectiveness. I'd say the probability of catastrophe is low enough in the current paradigm that it isn't the major driver of rest. I think healing surges provide a nice simulation of increasing fatigue. (Especially if you the fiction that healing surges are an internal reserve, and hit points represent overall combat readiness. The concept that healing magic makes you tired but fixes wounds is a popular one in fantasy novels. The verisimilitude of second wind and martial healing isn't an issue I want to address, since I'm rather conflicted on it.)

The other way to lower rest is, of course, to increase motivation to not rest. The tried-and-true method is, of course, narrative urgency. (Rescue the princess! Save the kidnapped townsfolk!). This can work in small-to-moderate doses, depending on the character's motivations and the player's willingness to bend to narrative pressure. I would argue, though, for a mechanical rationale for progress. There is already a mechanical incentive to not rest in the game: action points. While action points are strong now, I would argue for them to become an even more integral part of the gameplay process. Tie action point expenditure to cool stuff. Eliminate dailies, and have a class of powers that can only be used via action points. Have methods of action point generation in addition to per encounter, or every other encounter. Using encounter powers should give action points. Burning a healing surge should give action points. Basically, a method where effectiveness increases with resource burn, not decreases. It's the single best way to drive players to act like fantasy heroes should.
 

Oldtimer

Great Old One
Publisher
Heck, the game I was in this past weekend the paladin, after the first encounter, said "Guys, our next encounter is going to have to be our last one. I'm down to 6 surges left." I just shook my head. She hadn't used either of her dailies (or her Inspiring Fortitude). Hadn't used any of her Lay on Hands, either. But, she thought she was getting low on resources because she was down to JUST 6 surges.
Pfff, Paladins, schmaladins!

In our last gaming session my Half-Orc Brawler Fighter went down into negative hp with no surges left. During the short rest he got some healing from the cleric and woke up at 1 hp. Just as we were ready to explore the old tomb further, a sealed-up wall cracked open and three elite scarab swarms poured into the room. And my fighter was the only character rolling a higher initiative than the monsters.

So he rushed up to the swarms, used an encounter power to mark all three and dared them to try to take him down. Of course he died under a horde of scarabs right after that, but he gave the rest of the party the time they needed.

Paladins and Healing Surges, who needs them anyway?

P.S. I like a lot of your ideas, delricho.
 

bganon

Explorer
I think Rituals suffered neglect because they were never really directly integrated into any character class. I think maybe every PC needs a "ritual/skill power" slot that fills up like the utility power slot does (Wizards can get extra flexibility just like they do with dailies). Maybe then players will automatically pay attention to them and use them. As rituals are now they seem to be easily forgotten. I think WOTC was trying something a little like this with the Warpriest, but it could probably be generalized.


As for what I like, one thing I like about 4E is the fairly unified attack/defense/skill/passive skill progression. I think it could've gone further: turn proficiencies into "weapon/implement skills" and have training give the same (+3 or so?) bonus across the board. Then you could really have "powers" that involve things like Bluff vs Will or Implement vs passive Insight without the math getting all wonky.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Nice topic, and OP. Too bad I can't give you XP right now. Also some good replies thus far.

From an "editorial" slant, really think there should have been a rule that fully half of all space devoted to magic items should have been artifacts, or at least some lesser version of them as you listed. Same way with powers and rituals. Since rituals and artifacts take up a bit more space to explain well, this would not have been quite a 50/50 split in distinct entries, but it would have forced the game to take full advantage of two under-used options. If they found it hard to fill that space, then something needed to change in the characters to make it easier to do so.

I also think, in the name of balance, that not enough was done with artifacts and rituals, to explore the play space of "things you find make you more powerful, and there is not anything in the system to balance this." That is, their solution to this issue was to go rather weak with the artifacts and rituals. A better solution would have been to say, "Hey, this main part of the game is balanced like you've never seen. This artifact and ritual part over there isn't balanced at all, though we tried not to just run completely wild. So proceed with caution, as much as makes sense to you, and to the extent that you care about balance."
 

Hasegawa Rayven

First Post
I'd put in that on the subject of regenerating dailies, Either giving us a daily regen mechanic, OR taking it away from the monsters!

I was playing an adventure just a few weeks ago, our party was nearly wiped out by a group of arcane archers using some kind of explosion arrows. We found out later, it was an ability that had a recharge roll (d6) and regen'd on a 4 or higher.

We were getting hit with an encounter level power (At least that, maybe a low daily) that was laughing at our party's highest FORT defenses, and that was at least one, usually 2, every turn!

I know for me personally, I shy away from even taking Daily powers if I don't have to, Because I don't like the concept of a one-off attack that I don't get to use more than once. Mainly because I usually fall into a train of thought along the lines of "Well, I could use it here, but what if something nastier shows up?"
 

Riastlin

First Post
[MENTION=22424]delericho[/MENTION] The problem I guess I would have with "Per adventure" recharge mechanics is that it may well tend to restrict the adventure design parameters for DMs. I agree that your solutions would certainly help alleviate the problem of the party trying to find a place to sleep after three fights in the big bad dungeon, but these solutions will also likely encourage DMs to run shorter adventures.

Naturally of course, even longer adventures can have their moments of "downtime" so that can be worked out, but the big large dungeon crawl (as perhaps a poor example since the dungeon crawl seems to be becoming more disfavored) would be hard to write. In other words, characters would be much more powerful in a delve or LFR format than in say a "super adventure" that spans several levels. Heck, even stringing ten encounters together in a single large dungeon would be hard to balance against the wizard's tower that has three encounters.

It can be done of course, and certainly the more experienced DMs out there will find ways to make it work, but I do think its risky. That being said though, I do like the idea in principle. If a short rest is functionally the same as an extended rest, then why bother with an extended rest? The only reason to do so would be to track sleep patterns and the like and frankly, I think you'll find that groups simply do away with the concept of an extended rest (which is not a bad thing). It does have the added disadvantage though of taking away the element of urgency. Adventures will no longer be about saving the day before Y hour. Pressing on while low on hit points/surges won't mean anything anymore, etc.

All in all though I think it provides a pretty decent starting point, so kudos for coming up with a potential solution I had not considered.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
How about changing dailies to "milestone" powers? Then rework milestones to only occur at major events in the adventure. A short adventure might only have one, and it occurs at the end of the adventure. Thus in that case, they powers are 1/adventure. But a larger adventure has more milestones.

Milestones are weak now, anyway. And I like the idea of making action points strictly encounter driven. I'd go a different route than the OP, but I find "mainly every other encounter" not a very useful measurement--kind of like electrum pieces. :lol:
 

heretic888

Explorer
How about changing dailies to "milestone" powers? Then rework milestones to only occur at major events in the adventure. A short adventure might only have one, and it occurs at the end of the adventure. Thus in that case, they powers are 1/adventure. But a larger adventure has more milestones.

Milestones are weak now, anyway. And I like the idea of making action points strictly encounter driven. I'd go a different route than the OP, but I find "mainly every other encounter" not a very useful measurement--kind of like electrum pieces. :lol:

I do something similar to this in my games.

When characters take an extended rest, they regain 1d4 healing surges and can make a saving throw to recover any daily powers they have expended. Whenever they reach a milestone, they gain all the benefits of an extended rest but it doesn't count against the number of extended rests they can take during a 12 hour period.

Its worked out pretty well and the 15 minute workday has basically vanished.

I also just make "action point" an encounter power and don't bother with tracking them.
 

Oldtimer

Great Old One
Publisher
Give an action point every encounter,
I do this already. I also let them start with 0 AP after an extended rest.

This has an interesting psychological effect - since they just were avarded something very useful after the encounter, something they will lose if they take an extended rest, they really, really want to go on to another encounter so that they can use the new shiny.

That got me thinking...

- Have characters start their day with no 'daily' powers available. Then, after odd-numbered encounters (or just every encounter), have them pick one 'daily' to become active.

- Provide some other recharge mechanism - perhaps there's an action required to ready a 'daily' for use.

Why do this? As long as characters have daily resources, you'll get the 15-minute adventuring day. 4e is a bit better than 3e in this regard (we're up from 5 minutes to 15), but it doesn't go far enough.
What if we had another set of points, call them Hero Points or something, handed out the same way I hand out Action Points in my campaign (zero after an extended rest, gain one after each encounter) and which were needed for your daily powers to work? Say, you are only allowed to use a daily power you have available if you spend a Hero Point.

This would likely have the same psychological effect I mentioned above (oh, new shiny!) and be another blow at the 15-minute workday. I could see Hero Points being needed for the use of any Daily Power (character or item).

Is this a bad idea?
 
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delericho

Legend
The problem I guess I would have with "Per adventure" recharge mechanics is that it may well tend to restrict the adventure design parameters for DMs. I agree that your solutions would certainly help alleviate the problem of the party trying to find a place to sleep after three fights in the big bad dungeon, but these solutions will also likely encourage DMs to run shorter adventures.

This is true. Although the trend at the moment seems to be towards shorter adventures generally (or adventures in multiple short parts, which could easily incorporate downtime into them). Still, I see your point.

Naturally of course, even longer adventures can have their moments of "downtime" so that can be worked out, but the big large dungeon crawl (as perhaps a poor example since the dungeon crawl seems to be becoming more disfavored) would be hard to write. In other words, characters would be much more powerful in a delve or LFR format than in say a "super adventure" that spans several levels. Heck, even stringing ten encounters together in a single large dungeon would be hard to balance against the wizard's tower that has three encounters.

One of the features of the old dungeons that seems to be overlooked in newer designs is that the assumption was that the party wouldn't try to tackle these in one delve - they'd progress some way through the dungeon, then return to town to heal up and re-equip. So, in fact, they'd tend not to be a single adventure, but actually multiple adventures in the same location.

(And, of course, this makes sense - if you're tracking ammunition, rations, and healing potions, you actually already have a bunch of per-adventure resources anyway. Eventually, you're going to have to retreat to restock.)

It can be done of course, and certainly the more experienced DMs out there will find ways to make it work, but I do think its risky. That being said though, I do like the idea in principle. If a short rest is functionally the same as an extended rest, then why bother with an extended rest?

If it bothered me enough, I'd rule that "you must take an Extended Rest every 24 hours or become fatigued", or something like that.

It does have the added disadvantage though of taking away the element of urgency. Adventures will no longer be about saving the day before Y hour.

I think this is the killer point. While the adventure concept still works, the balancing of encounters needs to be very careful to work.

In the current model, if you structure an adventure with a time limit, and then the PCs have a really bad first encounter (whether because you misjudged the difficulty, they rolled really poorly, or whatever), then suddenly the whole adventure is in real trouble. However, you can at least build in time for, say, 2 ERests, and all is well.

In the per-adventure resource model, ERests can't help - they either struggle on at a huge disadvantage or admit defeat. Which is hardly heroic. (Though... how much do we mind the heroes failing adventures?)

To solve that (and 15m/AD) you'd need either pure per-encounter balancing or a recharge mechanic, or something. And at this point, we're probably nearing the point where the cure is worse than the disease.

How about changing dailies to "milestone" powers?

Yeah, I like this. Start the day with 1 AP and no dailies. After every odd-numbered encounter gain a daily; after every even-numbered encounter gain an AP. Or something like that - basically, give a reward after each adventure.

Then rework milestones to only occur at major events in the adventure.

I did think that published adventures intended to cover multiple (PC) levels should have written in "levelling points" - if and when the PCs reach that point (and not until), they gain the appropriate level (and possibly treasure to match).

This eliminates the need for any 'filler' encounters to make up XP awards, it means that if the PCs miss encounters or treasure, they're still able to proceed, and it means that the DM can abridge (or expand) the adventure without issue.

But it's also really gamist. Not sure if that's a problem.

I do this already. I also let them start with 0 AP after an extended rest.

This has an interesting psychological effect - since they just were avarded something very useful after the encounter, something they will lose if they take an extended rest, they really, really want to go on to another encounter so that they can use the new shiny.

That go me thinking...

What if we had another set of points, call them Hero Points or something, handed out the same way I hand out Action Points in my campaign (zero after an extended rest, gain one after each encounter) and which were needed for your daily powers to work? Say, you are only allowed to use a daily power you have available if you spend a Hero Point.

I really like this idea.
 

NewJeffCT

First Post
I'd put in that on the subject of regenerating dailies, Either giving us a daily regen mechanic, OR taking it away from the monsters!

I was playing an adventure just a few weeks ago, our party was nearly wiped out by a group of arcane archers using some kind of explosion arrows. We found out later, it was an ability that had a recharge roll (d6) and regen'd on a 4 or higher.

We were getting hit with an encounter level power (At least that, maybe a low daily) that was laughing at our party's highest FORT defenses, and that was at least one, usually 2, every turn!

I know for me personally, I shy away from even taking Daily powers if I don't have to, Because I don't like the concept of a one-off attack that I don't get to use more than once. Mainly because I usually fall into a train of thought along the lines of "Well, I could use it here, but what if something nastier shows up?"

What I have been doing is if I have a series of 4-5 encounters planned, with the last encounter being the "boss" bad guy, I will put a lieutenant in encounter 2 or 3 along the way. Then, after the party hopefully defeats the encounter with the boss' #2, I will allow the players to recharge a daily power, be it a personal daily or an item daily. That way, they still have that daily power in reserve for the final BBEG.

I think they have a similar type option in DMG 2, but I'm not sure.
 

jimmifett

Banned
Banned
I understand the concern about the 15 minute work day but frankly, as long as PCs have any sort of limited resources, including hit points, this will continue to be an issue. Players are just too protective of their characters (and I don't mean that in a bad way, just that its natural). Heck, the game I was in this past weekend the paladin, after the first encounter, said "Guys, our next encounter is going to have to be our last one. I'm down to 6 surges left." I just shook my head. She hadn't used either of her dailies (or her Inspiring Fortitude). Hadn't used any of her Lay on Hands, either. But, she thought she was getting low on resources because she was down to JUST 6 surges.

Obviously this is a bit of an extreme example, but the sentiment is always going to be there as long as there is any sort of limitation on resources. Unless hit points and powers can be regenerated indefinitely, players will always seek to get their rests in. If resources can be refreshed indefinitely, I think you then eliminate some of the excitement and strategy that comes into play. All in my opinion of course.

I like to put my players through 'pulp action movie' style adventures. After the first third of the current plot arc, they just don't have much time for an extended rest without jeopordizing the mission somehow. By the end, the party is at 0-2 surges left, out of dailies, and have a great ride behind them when they finally get to rest.

Yes yes, I know the "it turns into an at-will slug fest grind" mantra of the uninspired. The party has encounters, they have at wills, and you don't fight on flat terrain. The map keeps it interesting, having terrain you can manipulate: cause rockslides with a dungeoneering check next to some support beam, crack open a beaver dam and wash your foes down the valley. Push enemies into the vines of a man eating plant.
 

Riastlin

First Post
One of the features of the old dungeons that seems to be overlooked in newer designs is that the assumption was that the party wouldn't try to tackle these in one delve - they'd progress some way through the dungeon, then return to town to heal up and re-equip. So, in fact, they'd tend not to be a single adventure, but actually multiple adventures in the same location.

Good point. I will say, for all its problems KotS did assume that the party would retreat at least once or twice out of the keep. I'm not sure where the assumptions started but it does seem to be a general assumption now that once the party enters the dungeon, they don't leave until its cleared. I think players are sometimes as responsible as DMs in this regard. What I don't know (since I didn't start gaming really until about 1999) is whether the player assumptions were driven by DM behavior -- i.e. if the party leaves the dungeon then the dungeon repopulates and the BBEG is even harder to kill since he knows they're coming now. Its definitely a fine balance that DMs have to maintain between realism and carrot/stick tactics.

(And, of course, this makes sense - if you're tracking ammunition, rations, and healing potions, you actually already have a bunch of per-adventure resources anyway. Eventually, you're going to have to retreat to restock.)

Also true, though the treasure parcel system has at least made things like potions easier to obtain mid-adventure.

If it bothered me enough, I'd rule that "you must take an Extended Rest every 24 hours or become fatigued", or something like that.

I actually meant this as a positive, not a negative. The point being that in general, the party would choose to take a short rest and then press on rather than looking to game as many extended rests as possible out of the DM. I think you'll still always have the "We camp for the night." when traveling between towns, etc.


I think this is the killer point. While the adventure concept still works, the balancing of encounters needs to be very careful to work.

In the current model, if you structure an adventure with a time limit, and then the PCs have a really bad first encounter (whether because you misjudged the difficulty, they rolled really poorly, or whatever), then suddenly the whole adventure is in real trouble. However, you can at least build in time for, say, 2 ERests, and all is well.

In the per-adventure resource model, ERests can't help - they either struggle on at a huge disadvantage or admit defeat. Which is hardly heroic. (Though... how much do we mind the heroes failing adventures?)

Yeah, as I said, it becomes a delicate balancing act in my opinion. It can be done to be sure, but I do think you need to be careful. For the record, as a mostly DM, I personally feel that in general, the party should succeed, but that setbacks are good for the game as well. They teach the party tactics. They build tension and/or drama. Plus, they make the successes that much sweeter. I have always felt that retreat is a valid tactic, but that encounters that are designed to force the party to retreat should be relatively rare. As for what the actual success percentage should be? I don't know. I think this is something that will always vary from table to table.


I like to put my players through 'pulp action movie' style adventures. After the first third of the current plot arc, they just don't have much time for an extended rest without jeopordizing the mission somehow. By the end, the party is at 0-2 surges left, out of dailies, and have a great ride behind them when they finally get to rest.

I actually agree with you here. Those encounters where we are strapped for resources are often the most fun and tension-filled. I don't think they should be done too often (otherwise death becomes inevitable), but they do make for a good time. In the one game I'm a player in, we just finished Reavers of Harkenwold. We finally go to the point where we knew we had one more fight with the BBEG and my runepriest was sitting on 6 HP and no surges and the fighter was at 12 HP and no surges. We pressed on anyway though because from a story perspective, we knew we had to. I ended the encounter unconscious but alive and was eventually healed so it was all good. To have tried to game an extra extended rest out of it though would have cheapened the whole experience to me. It would have felt like playing a video game instead.
 

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