log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 4E Throwing ideas, seeing what sticks (and what stinks)

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Hello!

This will be my repository for all the random ideas I get. Criticisms are welcome. Since this may end up being full of really dumb ideas (I get those a lot), feel free to share your own.

The goal is a slow re-work of 4e, but the base hypothesis is that the ideas should be applied to the game w/ minimal fuss (however, some may drastically change various aspects... which is something that you should feel free to point out if you think it pertinent.)

Final note : my native language is French, I think in both English and French (depending on subject) and RPGs tend to percolate more in the English section, but it's likely that some mix may seep through as I probably won't edit/correct/review most of what I'm throwing in the thread (that being kind of the point of this exercise...), FYI.

To get started : DEATH TO ABILITY SCORES (sort of...)
[sblock]Aucun "ability scores" - remplacés par "ability values"
3 niveaux de "ability value" : high, very high, et low. (+2/+5/-2)
Starting abilities : 3 high *ou* 1 very high et 1 low (variations to taste)
Attacks bonus = niveau
Defense bonus = 10 + niveau

Effets des abilités:
HIGH - bonus to checks, 1/enc adv on check
VERY HIGH - bonus to checks, adv on all checks, 1/enc reroll check
LOW - penalty to checks, 1/day DM force reroll

Effets spécifiques: (order: Power, Agility, Resistance) (note: cumulative)
PHYSICAL STATS
Force (HIGH) +to dmg weapon, +to shield DR, +to grab DC
Force (VERY HIGH) 1/enc reroll weapon dmg
Force (LOW) -to dmg weapon

Agility (HIGH) 1/enc force attack reroll
Agility (VERY HIGH)
Agility (LOW)

Fortitude (HIGH) 1/enc ignore one condition for 1 round
Fortitude (VERY HIGH)
Fortitude (LOW)

MENTAL STATS
Charisma (HIGH)
Charisma (VERY HIGH)
Charisma (LOW)

Intellect (HIGH)
Intellect (VERY HIGH)
Intellect (LOW)

Will (HIGH)
Will (VERY HIGH)
Will (LOW)[/sblock]

B - EVERYBODY'S A PSION! or ENCOUNTER POINTS
[SBLOCK]The idea is a simple one :
  • Characters gain a number of "encounter points" (EPs).
  • These "EPs" can be spent to use an encounter power.
  • To encourage variation : once you have used an encounter power, it costs 2 EPs to use.
  • Variant : same goes for daily powers
Goal: allow more freedom in encounter power usage.
Why: sounds like a good idea.
Why not: encounter powers are built on the assumption they will only get to be used once. Otherwise, you spam your best one.
So why do it then? No real answer to this... just seems like it could be cool.

Side goal: in the 4.5e I'm imagining in my head, some "Essentials" concepts are applied to more classes. This sort of option would work well with my hope of having "role-granting" templates for the different base classes (i.e. controller wizard, striker wizard, leader wizard - defender priest, striker priest, etc.)
[/sblock]
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


MoutonRustique

Explorer
TO DR OR NOT TO DR - AS AC*
[sblock]
The quasi-infinitely-looping question of AC as Damage Reduction, my potential take on it :
Precepts:
- use fixed damage on the DM side of things
- keep variable damage on the PC side of things
- use fixed damage reduction values on the DM side of things
- use variable damage reduction on the PC side of things
- default damage reduction (armour, level) is "resist all"
Implementation :
- level = one die of damage reduction
- armour = one die of damage reduction (based on type of armour)
- armouring "effects" = "perhaps" one die of damage reduction (may also be subsumed into the "class" portion)
- resist X values converted to die value (1d8, 2d6, etc.)
- use average + level for monster dmg (8+2xlevel? ... ask "Yak of GitPG" for what that should be - he's impressive at "math cruching"!)
- use "what feels right" for monsters (might have to adjust hp...)

Consequences :
- might take a bit longer to calculate final damage
- brings in "armour as DR" w/o overhauling the whole thing
- we get an additional "lever" to play with (magic items, effects, itemization, etc)
- might "require" a table of reference for die values (if modifications in-game became a thing - note to self : it will.)
- adds in a layer that is fairly superfluous (the proof being: it's not in there and the game works fine)
- multiple attacks are reduced in relative potency a bit (but I'm not seeing this as a bad thing in 4e...)

Justifications/concessions :
- I like it!
- It's not that hard to use
- It can give the illusion of player agency during the enemies' turn
- It does require a bit of fiddling with monster hp (unless...?*)
*increase PC damage by +level?
- I'm not a fan of the "multiple attacks = king of dmg" thing going on right now, something that hits multiple attacks harder than single attacks feels like a good thing to me.
- I really want dragons (and galeb dhurs) with very high resist values that "require" special items or preparations to be able to pierce (I know I can do this now... I know... but this way, it's "baked in" and well... ... ...yup, that's the whole of my argument.)

Options :
- remove AC as a defense**
- replace "target other defense than AC" as "ignore DR for this attack" in pertinent powers
- attacks target Fort or Ref (defender's choice)***

***this would mesh very well with my goal of having more attacks simultaneously target many defenses : hit AC to deal dmg, hit Fort to push, hit Will to daze, hit Ref to ...

**We'd use Ref for most "touching", Fort for "power through", Will for... well, Will is pretty obvious...
[/sblock]


That's my "blargh" for today.
 
Last edited:

MoutonRustique

Explorer
will sort it out later - yeah, right... no I won't.

A DREAM... SHALL IT ALWAYS REMAIN BUT A DREAM?
[SBLOCK]Road-map for my 4.5e:
Classes :
- a class is a vehicle for a feel and a mechanical way of doing. As opposed to doing "x" this way
- each would have a variety of "templates/builds" that would allow for role choice

Powers :
- based on power-source
- as a general rule, access to power source = access to relevant power
- some exceptions could exist : their role would be to create highlights (very tight control on what can be restrained)

Random ideas
- power pre-reqs : some powers need a specific X or Y before they can be learned (power chains or something)
- use psionics as a baseline : at-wills are boosted into encounters or dailies (works well for settings or classes where magic or other power is more "organic" as opposed to "secret formula allows to do X")
[/sblock]

JUDGE ME BY MY SIZE DO YOU?... ACTUALLY, YES. YES i DO.
[SBLOCK]
Use the 13th age concept of hp from size
[/sblock]

"ROAD MAP" PART 2
[SBLOCK]
  • very tiered
  • narrow progress within same tier
  • many (all/some/most?) classes can learn as many powers as they get access to
  • training, downtime use and requirements are an important thing
  • characters get access to encounter uses and daily uses
  • it costs more to use the same power again
  • escalation die is central to many class abilities (momentum)
  • ONE instance of damage per turn
  • social "combat"
  • ??? categories of "hp" (a la Skyrim) ???
  • quest/achievement based progression (3(?) significant quests per level)
  • gain "skill" = level
  • base skill = +2
  • active defense : use "reaction" to add skill to defenses
  • full attack : use "reaction" to add skill to attacks this turn (thus preventing a defensive use)
  • auto (and "free") multiclassing based on party members (as default) or based on story or background
  • no opportunity attacks - use the "quick damage" from 13th Age(?) : a known and "static" value
  • use more "auto punish" abilities for defenders (more paladin, less fighter) - perhaps precalculated values...
  • trait requirement for "off-class" powers are [key word] based : Learned-High Int | Strong-High Str | Deft, etc
  • if you do not meet the trait requirement, you cannot add your skill when using it (or some other penalty)
  • warlock-type = NO trait requirements
  • priest-type = invested spark requirement
  • spirit-type = "communement" req.
  • warlock have granted power - the kind of powers learned/granted are tightly tied to the "granter"
  • warlocks are based on the idea that those without access to power by their own merits will get them by bargains and such - this makes it so that there cannot be a trait or other required to make a powerful warlock.
  • once granted, nurtured and "grown" a warlock's power can be used to fuel all kinds of spells and powers - if the character can get access to them and learn them
[/SBLOCK]

SO BORED... DOWNTIME
[SBLOCK]
  • downtime est divisé en "slots" et est en fonction du lifestyle choisit (et payé!)
  • each daily slot corresponds to an activity worked towards
  • most activities do not benefit from multiple daily slots
  • ex : poor = 2 daily slots, wealthy = 6 daily slots
  • ??? weekly, monthly slots as well ??? (leaning towards no for the moment)
  • certain classes will affect these parameters : ex - Monks have 4 daily slots in poor lifestyles
  • la qualité du downtime peut facilement devenir une récompense pour des quêtes
  • certains lieux peuvent offrir des "bonus slots" de certains types tel que la recherche, l'introspection, etc
  • ou encore sous la forme de bonus hebdomadaire (1 slot per day = 10 slots per week : a +3 day bonus)
  • base training = 50(?)
  • traits : Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intellect, Will, Perception, Presence (others?)
  • some traits are : primary, secondary and tertiatry(?)
  • when learning new "not-my-class" at-will, it starts as a encounter power, after 5+ uses and a level up, it becomes at-will
  • large amounts of downtime can also be used for this (much more than base)
[/SBLOCK]
 

Hello!

This will be my repository for all the random ideas I get. Criticisms are welcome. Since this may end up being full of really dumb ideas (I get those a lot), feel free to share your own.
I must have missed this thread previously. I've done a lot of hacking on my own '4e', and it touches on a lot of these points in various ways.

ability scores
Solution here was to obliterate penalties, so the lowest possible adjustment is 0, and the highest is +5. We also felt it necessary to have a special category beyond +5, "Godlike" which in effect allows for infinite unmatchable capability in that ability. We divvy up these adjustments with adventurers having a base +2 in each stat. You can take 5 points worth of increase, and its possible to reduce a stat by 1 or 2 points. This allows for up to 2 maximized stats, 5 +3s and a +2, etc. In effect this gives you +3 as roughly the baseline for an adventurer, with +4 being quite good, and +5 obviously being spectacular. I'd also note that there's something of an assumption of 'scaling' here, you can't get bonuses above +5, but that doesn't mean a giant isn't any stronger than the strongest hero, just that beyond a certain point it doesn't 'help'. You still can't win an arm wrestling contest against said giant, he can just toss you aside.


B - EVERYBODY'S A PSION! or ENCOUNTER POINTS

Here the concept was a little different. Instead of HS, AP, and perhaps other sorts of points, like PP, there is simply one pool of hero points. You can activate a 'daily' power using one, or a bonus action, or heal your surge value (or whatever else things HS work for in 4e). Its just simpler and it allows for more interesting trade offs. Encounter powers remain as-is, though you could certainly allow for their recharge using a hero point since they should be strictly inferior to 'daily' powers. I'd note that in our play we've made daily powers both less common, and a little more potent. If you break one out, the results will be interesting, not a dud.

Finally I'd note that we don't have ability score increases either. What you start with is what you get, though it isn't impossible to achieve an increase of a point. This both cuts scaling problems that 4e has greatly, and makes ability scores closer to their intent, RP metrics that help you understand the things that your character can do well, not just added bennies you pick up as you level.
 

TO DR OR NOT TO DR - AS AC

This is similar to our approach, replace AC with DR, but we did away with all damage dice from weapons. Individual weapons either do 1, 2, or 3 points of damage, depending on whether or not they're particularly heavy or light weapons, so there's not a HUGE advantage to using a 2-handed sword vs using a dagger, about the difference between a d4 and a d8 on average, but without the potentially high damage outcomes for the larger weapon. Characters then have an ability score bonus for all attacks, plus a 'damage die' which is determined by things like class, fighters just simply do more damage with melee weapons than wizards do, doesn't really matter WHICH weapon it is, the effect is the same. The DR values for armor are fairly small, not greater than 4 points. Enough to be quite useful, but not overwhelming.

Attacks target one of the 3 defenses, FORT, REF, or WILL, and a shield will provide a bonus on the first 2. This allows for a nice set of variations of attack routines as well, they can be 'beat downs' going against FORT, or based on quickness and going against REF, or generally magical or etc vs WILL (though maybe a really terrifying weapon display might count here, lack of an AC defense makes all this more clean).

Clearly high level figures will have somewhat higher DRs, but there's no need for them to drastically increase, and in general continuing to wear the same old leather armor you bought at level 1 when you're 10th level isn't going to be a real big problem, it will be proportionately less effective, but so will everyone else's plate armor. Specific monsters could also have higher DRs, which allows for a bit more variety of tactical challenges, though anything above single digits will make things start to get rather wonky (you could maybe do this for minions though to make 'tough' minions).
 

will sort it out later - yeah, right... no I won't.

A DREAM... SHALL IT ALWAYS REMAIN BUT A DREAM?
Classes

In our system there are effectively 3 classes, the warrior, the mystic, and the trickster. Powers come from various sources, there are some which obtain from class, some from power source, and some from theme, which conceptually sits about halfway between class and theme in 4e. In addition many powers are simply granted by 'boons'. Each theme has a role and power source, like 4e classes, and they largely have the same roster, though they can afford to be more specific than their 4e counterparts.

Powers
Based more on power source than class or theme. Warriors have weapon-based exploits, etc. Each theme has a role feature that attaches some sort of role-relevant effect to their power uses. Some themes also have a few 'signature' powers, like Knights can pull some shield tricks, or mounted combat exploits. Powers SCALE, so there are MANY fewer of them! Power pre-reqs are in the form of boons that have powers attached to them. A 'sword mastery' boon for instance has some fancy sword trick powers associated with it. PPs and EDs are effectively just particularly significant boons, so there are no longer powers specifically associated with those, but the same effect is achieved.

As a general point, this system GROSSLY reduces the total numbers of powers. Where 4e has some 10,000 powers, our hack requires no more than 200 at most to achieve the same level of coverage. There are a number of design features which collectively get you there

1) There are 20 levels, level 20 is the top of epic tier, this gets rid of 1/3 of all powers, most of which were really just 'level filler' anyway.
2) Previously mentioned scaling. While there may be SOME "stronger version of a power with extra sauce", in general each power simply stays relevant. This is a factor of 4 savings.
3) Near-duplicate powers moved from class to source, plus broader use of many fewer classes. This is huge, almost every power is now truly special and occupies an exclusive space in the system. I'd say this is at least a factor of 5 improvement.

This means a roughly 30x decrease in power count, which puts you down to around 300 powers, roughly, but given more focused power design, 200 is perfectly adequate.

JUDGE ME BY MY SIZE DO YOU?... ACTUALLY, YES. YES i DO.

Well, we assigned hit points based on race, which definitely allows for this sort of concept, but isn't locked into it.

"ROAD MAP" PART 2
[SBLOCK]
  • very tiered
  • narrow progress within same tier
  • many (all/some/most?) classes can learn as many powers as they get access to
  • training, downtime use and requirements are an important thing
  • characters get access to encounter uses and daily uses
  • it costs more to use the same power again
  • escalation die is central to many class abilities (momentum)
  • ONE instance of damage per turn
  • social "combat"
  • ??? categories of "hp" (a la Skyrim) ???
  • quest/achievement based progression (3(?) significant quests per level)
  • gain "skill" = level
  • base skill = +2
  • active defense : use "reaction" to add skill to defenses
  • full attack : use "reaction" to add skill to attacks this turn (thus preventing a defensive use)
  • auto (and "free") multiclassing based on party members (as default) or based on story or background
  • no opportunity attacks - use the "quick damage" from 13th Age(?) : a known and "static" value
  • use more "auto punish" abilities for defenders (more paladin, less fighter) - perhaps precalculated values...
  • trait requirement for "off-class" powers are [key word] based : Learned-High Int | Strong-High Str | Deft, etc
  • if you do not meet the trait requirement, you cannot add your skill when using it (or some other penalty)
  • warlock-type = NO trait requirements
  • priest-type = invested spark requirement
  • spirit-type = "communement" req.
  • warlock have granted power - the kind of powers learned/granted are tightly tied to the "granter"
  • warlocks are based on the idea that those without access to power by their own merits will get them by bargains and such - this makes it so that there cannot be a trait or other required to make a powerful warlock.
  • once granted, nurtured and "grown" a warlock's power can be used to fuel all kinds of spells and powers - if the character can get access to them and learn them
[/SBLOCK]

SO BORED... DOWNTIME
[SBLOCK]
  • downtime est divisé en "slots" et est en fonction du lifestyle choisit (et payé!)
  • each daily slot corresponds to an activity worked towards
  • most activities do not benefit from multiple daily slots
  • ex : poor = 2 daily slots, wealthy = 6 daily slots
  • ??? weekly, monthly slots as well ??? (leaning towards no for the moment)
  • certain classes will affect these parameters : ex - Monks have 4 daily slots in poor lifestyles
  • la qualité du downtime peut facilement devenir une récompense pour des quêtes
  • certains lieux peuvent offrir des "bonus slots" de certains types tel que la recherche, l'introspection, etc
  • ou encore sous la forme de bonus hebdomadaire (1 slot per day = 10 slots per week : a +3 day bonus)
  • base training = 50(?)
  • traits : Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intellect, Will, Perception, Presence (others?)
  • some traits are : primary, secondary and tertiatry(?)
  • when learning new "not-my-class" at-will, it starts as a encounter power, after 5+ uses and a level up, it becomes at-will
  • large amounts of downtime can also be used for this (much more than base)
[/SBLOCK]

Other than the above we've stuck pretty close to the core 4e design. There have been a few tweaks.

Use of 5e style advantage/disadvantage - this replaces pretty much ALL situational modifiers, either you do or you don't have a situation worth calling a significant problem or significant help, everything else is noise.
4 bonus types - Ability, Permanent, Level, and Proficiency (always +5). There is NO stacking whatsoever. You get your ability, level and proficiency bonus, which are static, and a 'permanent' modifier, of which the best available applies. The permanent modifiers are highly keyword driven, so they can represent a lot of different things, but the non-stacking 'use best' insures that your character's key traits are emphasized. If you're a dwarf you're always going to be REALLY hard to poison, just because, though its POSSIBLE that some tremendous magical effect could improve on that (though its pretty unlikely).

Boons - These are central. There are no XP, no items, nothing. Just boons. Every time you get a 'major boon' you go up a level. These can be training, items, permanent magical effects, even plot-related things like "appointed captain of the guard". Any other reward is a 'lesser boon', which may be quite handy, but doesn't increase your character's ties to destiny or justify added 'plot armor'. The beauty of it is, it motivates players to do stuff, and you can make different things major boons for different PCs, or at least make their benefits more desirable to those whom they are appropriate for. It makes 'treasure' a narrative focus, you want training in how to turn undead? OK, you can go seek out the Altar of Lir and get that boon, if you're worthy... etc. It works great!

Done some work also on focusing more on 4e's encounter mechanics and promoting the idea that everything significant IS a challenge of some kind, there aren't any checks that happen outside of challenges, and every challenge is a scene of some sort, or groups scenes together perhaps (like a long travel scenario). Challenges are categorized as either 'action sequences' or 'abstract' (maybe there's a better term). An action sequence has rounds, movement, etc, and probably initiative as well, so basically combat but with the implication it needn't be strictly fighting, something 4e seemed to forget to emphasize.

Skills work as normal, but DCs are strictly given a level, making it clearer what is and is not appropriate for a given PC to face. The progress of levels vs DC numbers (DVs) is potentially mutable, and the scaling between check values and outcomes also, so that you can tune the tone of the game, less crazy super heroic just gets smaller results for a given result. Note that without ability score increases and with only 20 levels characters typically don't get worse at off skills and the entire modifier range is greatly cut back. A 20th level PC could have +5 for training, +5 for ability, +10 for level, and generally not more than +3 permanent, for +23, and that's the extreme. A completely unskilled character would be at +10 and realistic spreads are in the 10 point range at all levels. High skill characters however can count on getting better check results and exceeding a DV by 5 or more can produce 'extra benefits', while failing by 5 or more can produce 'plot complications'.

I'm sure where I'm at is rather further out from what many would call '4.5e' though. This game is really no longer compatible with 4e, though it plays pretty much the same in most respects, just a little faster and looser.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
[...]
I'm sure where I'm at is rather further out from what many would call '4.5e' though. This game is really no longer compatible with 4e, though it plays pretty much the same in most respects, just a little faster and looser.
"Mechanical" compatibility with 4e is certainly a plus (especially for the amazing mass of monsters and foes), but "conceptual" is more important in my book.

This sounds very much like a 4.5 to me! (If you evolve from 4e as 4e did from 3e, a 4.5e would have some pretty important modifications indeed.)

Anyway, do you happen to have a written down version of all this (other than these posts... even if they would serve pretty well, actually) in a sharable format anywhere?
 
Last edited:

I'm sure where I'm at is rather further out from what many would call '4.5e' though. This game is really no longer compatible with 4e, though it plays pretty much the same in most respects, just a little faster and looser.

"Mechanical" compatibility with 4e is certainly a plus (especially for the amazing mass of monsters and foes), but "conceptual" is more important in my book.

Honestly, the more I think about it, I would just hack Dungeon World with the following:

1) Add Healing Surges, Second Winds, and class moves that trigger the use of surges in combat.

2) Give all monsters stuff that front-loads their payload (eg first damage is either best of 2 dice or +1d6 or something).

* Those two should engender the "Rally Narrative" that is quintessential 4e combat.

3) Deepen and broaden the tags and their usage (the Forceful tag becoming even more rampant than it already is - it is effectively "forced movement") and have synergy with the usage of tags (eg they trigger player moves).

4) Have each player start combat with 1 Prep (basically the encounter power facet of play).

Dungeon World (GMed correctly and deftly) hews so much to 4e's high-octane, push play toward conflict aesthetic and its action/adventure, big-damn-hero genre tropes (PCs start out extremely robust and merely broaden their resource-base as play progresses) that the only thing it is really missing is the "Rally Narrative" and some more depth in "team synergy" (it is already there, but to 4e-ify it, it needs to be amped up).
 

"Mechanical" compatibility with 4e is certainly a plus (especially for the amazing mass of monsters and foes), but "conceptual" is more important in my book.

This sounds very much like a 4.5 to me! (If you evolve from 4e as 4e did from 3e, a 4.5e would have some pretty important modifications indeed.)

Anyway, do you happen to have a written down version of all this (other than these posts... even if they would serve pretty well, actually) in a sharable format anywhere?

I've written down a lot of messy kinda this and that. We have had little chance to really PLAY of late, a foray into 5e intervened, and then there was a general "lets play something else besides D&D for a while" sentiment. Really what I'm missing is a lot of the nuts and bolts. I mean I have devised a set of core rules, not hard given they're basically 4e with a few minor tweaks, and some different progressions and whatnot. Its certainly a pretty big mess, and some parts have been revised based on different experiments and discussions, while other parts are no longer consistent with those parts, etc. Not that I can't share it, but it may not make a huge amount of sense in total.
 

Honestly, the more I think about it, I would just hack Dungeon World with the following:

1) Add Healing Surges, Second Winds, and class moves that trigger the use of surges in combat.

2) Give all monsters stuff that front-loads their payload (eg first damage is either best of 2 dice or +1d6 or something).

* Those two should engender the "Rally Narrative" that is quintessential 4e combat.

3) Deepen and broaden the tags and their usage (the Forceful tag becoming even more rampant than it already is - it is effectively "forced movement") and have synergy with the usage of tags (eg they trigger player moves).

4) Have each player start combat with 1 Prep (basically the encounter power facet of play).

Dungeon World (GMed correctly and deftly) hews so much to 4e's high-octane, push play toward conflict aesthetic and its action/adventure, big-damn-hero genre tropes (PCs start out extremely robust and merely broaden their resource-base as play progresses) that the only thing it is really missing is the "Rally Narrative" and some more depth in "team synergy" (it is already there, but to 4e-ify it, it needs to be amped up).

Yeah, DW is certainly an interesting game. I found more inspiration in the overall framework of narrative design. I mean I LIKE the DW approach to things at the detailed level as well, but at that level it scratches a bit of a different itch. My desire is for a bit more mechanical and tactical approach, so I have powers, turns, actions, and a grid, all basically extracted from 4e with a tweak or two.

I'm still working out some issues too. For instance 4e gives you TOO MANY options, each of which does a small something in combat. I'm trying to tweak the game so that its still equally tactical, but you deploy a smaller range of powers with greater effect, and the choices are more significant. This would also provide a bit more importance to situation, so for instance in my game surprise is more deadly than in 4e. You can employ larger numbers of slightly weaker enemies in more interesting and effective way too, as for instance a bunch of goblins surprising your level 5 party could be real trouble, whereas in 4e they'd pretty much do some trivial damage on a surprise round and then be blenderized and done. It does have a few consequences, making a mistake can be a bit more deadly, but I've been carefully maintaining the lack of arbitrariness in outcomes that I think was a real good thing about 4e. You won't lose due to the luck of the dice, but you may well make a dumb mistake and suffer harshly for it. Its just really a slightly lower level of granularity, but not much.

I'm also really making the rally narrative stay quite at the front and center. It could get fairly obscured in 4e. There are however other possibilities, like a prep narrative where you make a great move against a powerful foe initially due to preparation (surprise, or other means) and then enter a 'beat down race' which requires that edge to win. 4e wasn't great at that one, though it could be pulled off at times.
 

Balesir

Adventurer
Yeah, DW is certainly an interesting game. I found more inspiration in the overall framework of narrative design. I mean I LIKE the DW approach to things at the detailed level as well, but at that level it scratches a bit of a different itch.
I know just what you mean about a "different itch", and that's my take, so far, too (I'm reading DW now). There are a few games I would LOVE to see with DW's approach (I sat watching The Force Awakens thinking "lordy, lordy but this would work awesomely in a variant of DW!"), but it really does cover a very specific type of game.

You can employ larger numbers of slightly weaker enemies in more interesting and effective way too, as for instance a bunch of goblins surprising your level 5 party could be real trouble, whereas in 4e they'd pretty much do some trivial damage on a surprise round and then be blenderized and done.
I see this criticism of 4E a fair bit, and I just don't really see the issue. At 5th level a goblin encounter is a goblin platoon or two (huge 5th level swarms, some possibly elite and some with area bursts from volleys of arrows) led by a goblin chieftain and/or 5th level witch doctor/shaman/priest. Easily statted and challenging for a 5th level party. Maybe throw in a few (5th level) minions, or make the swarms convert to multiple minions when bloodied or "killed", for some added chaos and amusement...
 

I see this criticism of 4E a fair bit, and I just don't really see the issue. At 5th level a goblin encounter is a goblin platoon or two (huge 5th level swarms, some possibly elite and some with area bursts from volleys of arrows) led by a goblin chieftain and/or 5th level witch doctor/shaman/priest. Easily statted and challenging for a 5th level party. Maybe throw in a few (5th level) minions, or make the swarms convert to multiple minions when bloodied or "killed", for some added chaos and amusement...

Yeah, I'm not saying you can't generate an encounter that has the flavor of 'some wimpy goblins ambush you!" and mechanics that make it dangerous. I think its just something that 4e doesn't HELP you do, in the sense that using stock monsters won't cut it.

The other thing is, scenarios like this can come up a lot on the fly, due to character actions, and its not as easy to just retool the goblins so this works now on the spot. Whereas in say AD&D if a bunch of goblins drop surprise on the level 5 party, it could be dicey and you don't need to tweak anything. I THINK 5e was kinda aiming at the same thing, except they successfully make tactical considerations pretty lobotomized. I mean basic tactics like "kill one guy first, then go on to the next" still apply, but NONE of the real synergistic 4e stuff is there to any degree. I think there's a middle ground where its not quite so fiddly and time-consuming as 4e can be, and a bit more adaptable without writing up new stat blocks, but not torn down to 5e's level of simplicity (nor neglecting the grid either).
 

I see this criticism of 4E a fair bit, and I just don't really see the issue. At 5th level a goblin encounter is a goblin platoon or two (huge 5th level swarms, some possibly elite and some with area bursts from volleys of arrows) led by a goblin chieftain and/or 5th level witch doctor/shaman/priest.
A 5th level party can still be hit by 1st-level monsters. A little early to be aggregating things, IMHO. Now, 15th level party, sure, stat out some Goblin swarms...
Yeah, I'm not saying you can't generate an encounter that has the flavor of 'some wimpy goblins ambush you!" and mechanics that make it dangerous. I think its just something that 4e doesn't HELP you do, in the sense that using stock monsters won't cut it.
There are third-level standard-issue Goblins. An ambush on favorable terrain with a Goblin Hexer leading with (the aptly named) Vexing Cloud, enough melee types to engage the whole party, and a comparable number of minions at range - well w/in exp budget and pretty darn annoying for a 5th level party. No re-statting or other special prep required.

The other thing is, scenarios like this can come up a lot on the fly, due to character actions, and its not as easy to just retool the goblins so this works now on the spot. Whereas in say AD&D if a bunch of goblins drop surprise on the level 5 party, it could be dicey and you don't need to tweak anything.
A 5th level AD&D fighter can attack goblins 5/round, and a stray Sleep spell can mop up 4-16 of 'em (anything beefier will insta-kill every goblin in it's area), so it'd need to be a lot of goblins to get dicey. Contrast that with minions the fighter cleaves 2 at a time (and can still miss), and which can survive fireballs when the wizard craps out on some of his attack rolls.

Maybe goblins and a 5th level party were a bad example.

Maybe throw in a few (5th level) minions, or make the swarms convert to multiple minions when bloodied or "killed", for some added chaos and amusement...
I've done the 0 hp swarms spawning minions thing (or even minion spawning from and re-entering swarms on other triggers), it's very appropriate ('realistic' even) and a little added fun.

I've done a lot of re-statting to bring higher and lower level monsters into line with PC level, and it's both easy and works very well. But, lately, I've tossed out the odd much-lower or higher level monster and run through it, and it's not as unplayable as you might think. The latter I'd provide some alternate way of ending the combat (one side or the other fleeing or 'losing interest' or whatever, or converting it to a skill challenge), but it didn't always prove necessary. The former were excessively easy, but not as excessively slow to play out as I feared, and gave the PCs the traditional sense of having really advanced in the intervening levels.
 
Last edited:

I know just what you mean about a "different itch", and that's my take, so far, too (I'm reading DW now). There are a few games I would LOVE to see with DW's approach (I sat watching The Force Awakens thinking "lordy, lordy but this would work awesomely in a variant of DW!"), but it really does cover a very specific type of game.

Its funny you mention this. I approached my players (all well-versed in Dungeon World) very recently about this exact thing. The PBtA engine is so elegant, so intuitive, so extremely versatile, that it could trivially produce a fantastic pulp Star Wars engine. They agreed so our next game is going to be Star Wars via PBtA.

I'm still working out some issues too. For instance 4e gives you TOO MANY options, each of which does a small something in combat. I'm trying to tweak the game so that its still equally tactical, but you deploy a smaller range of powers with greater effect, and the choices are more significant. This would also provide a bit more importance to situation, so for instance in my game surprise is more deadly than in 4e. You can employ larger numbers of slightly weaker enemies in more interesting and effective way too, as for instance a bunch of goblins surprising your level 5 party could be real trouble, whereas in 4e they'd pretty much do some trivial damage on a surprise round and then be blenderized and done. It does have a few consequences, making a mistake can be a bit more deadly, but I've been carefully maintaining the lack of arbitrariness in outcomes that I think was a real good thing about 4e. You won't lose due to the luck of the dice, but you may well make a dumb mistake and suffer harshly for it. Its just really a slightly lower level of granularity, but not much.

I'm also really making the rally narrative stay quite at the front and center. It could get fairly obscured in 4e. There are however other possibilities, like a prep narrative where you make a great move against a powerful foe initially due to preparation (surprise, or other means) and then enter a 'beat down race' which requires that edge to win. 4e wasn't great at that one, though it could be pulled off at times.

Some thoughts on ways to accomplish what you're looking for:

1) Contract the tiers to levels 1-10 a la Neverwinter or 13th Age after it.

2) Reorganize Powers/Features:

Level 1: Background, Race Features, Theme Encounter, all level 1 Class Features, Heroic Feat.
Level 2: Class/Race/Skill/Theme (any of 1-10) Utility
Level 3: Remove Class Encounter and replace with level 11 Encounter and a PP-themed Second Wind Augment.
Level 4: ASI * 2, Heroic Feat.
Level 5: Remove level 5 Daily and put level 11 Paragon Path Utility there.
Level 6: Remove level 6 Utility and put Level 16 Paragon Path Feature
Level 7: Remove level 7 Encounter and put level 21 Epic Destiny Feature there.
Level 8: ASI * 2, Heroic Feat.
Level 9: Remove level 9 Daily and put Epic Destiny level 24/26 come back to life/miracle Daily there.
Level 10: Level 30 Epic Destiny Feature.

3) Make Surprise Round damage automatic critical hit and lower the number of Healing Surges available per day.

4) Increase damage expressions at levels 3 (Paragon Tier) and 7 (Epic Tier).

5) Add +2 hit and 1d8 damage buff for Bloodied PCs.

Sum total =

* 3 less feats to create wonky build synergy that can wreak havoc (also serves to lessen build decision-points).
* Less intra-race/class/theme build choices and powers.
* Nova nerfed.
* "Rally Narrative" augmented.
* Damage expressions buffed for more tactical stunting.
* Monsters deadlier putting PCs in Bloodied condition creating feedback loop of more dangerous PCs with Bloodied damage buff (Rally Narrative again). This also mitigates the "dump encounter powers straight away" propensity that some tables endure.
 

Its funny you mention this. I approached my players (all well-versed in Dungeon World) very recently about this exact thing. The PBtA engine is so elegant, so intuitive, so extremely versatile, that it could trivially produce a fantastic pulp Star Wars engine. They agreed so our next game is going to be Star Wars via PBtA.
I have a couple of very literal thinkers in my current table that don't take as well to DW-style. They had fun, but they just kept trying to force it into being a basic skill based game. It was too awkward, so for THAT group, we use d6 Space for our Space Opera (though we passed on playing Star Wars per se).

Some thoughts on ways to accomplish what you're looking for:

1) Contract the tiers to levels 1-10 a la Neverwinter or 13th Age after it.
10 levels is too few, I don't think it worked for 13a either. 20 levels is where we've landed. I think that will play out quite well. Score one for Gygax.

2) Reorganize Powers/Features:

Level 1: Background, Race Features, Theme Encounter, all level 1 Class Features, Heroic Feat.
Level 2: Class/Race/Skill/Theme (any of 1-10) Utility
Level 3: Remove Class Encounter and replace with level 11 Encounter and a PP-themed Second Wind Augment.
Level 4: ASI * 2, Heroic Feat.
Level 5: Remove level 5 Daily and put level 11 Paragon Path Utility there.
Level 6: Remove level 6 Utility and put Level 16 Paragon Path Feature
Level 7: Remove level 7 Encounter and put level 21 Epic Destiny Feature there.
Level 8: ASI * 2, Heroic Feat.
Level 9: Remove level 9 Daily and put Epic Destiny level 24/26 come back to life/miracle Daily there.
Level 10: Level 30 Epic Destiny Feature.
Yeah, just expand this up to 20 levels. 1-8 is heroic, 9-16 is paragon, and 17-20 is Epic (which then becomes a bit more compressed into a dramatically tighter story arc sized thing).

We did away with ASIs entirely, they simply contribute to skewing bonuses excessively and to making non-core attribute related ANYTHING become worthless without really adding that much to the game.

The result is you get +10 total level bonus across 20 levels, you get 13 feats total, and roughly 5 cycles of power picks, depending on exactly where you drop specific ones (it doesn't translate exactly from 30 levels to 20). However, I think 4 rounds of power picks is even better, but I still have to work out some of the details. I've also cut back on the total number of powers you have, so that means a bit more of them are replacements vs adding a power. 4e just gets overboard with the sheer numbers of powers on your sheet after a while. Even at low levels it gets pretty bad if you play with themes, and some combinations really get crazy, like say a Deva Cleric where you have significant racials and several extra class powers beyond the standard ones. I am to not have that happen.

3) Make Surprise Round damage automatic critical hit and lower the number of Healing Surges available per day.
I don't think THAT's necessary, but making the surprise round an actual round instead of a single standard action, and giving everyone who's acting in the surprise round advantage (which is about roughly +4 to hit) seems to be enough. We've debated an initiative penalty for being surprised as well, which would tend to make the second round actions of the surprisers come up first as well.

5) Add +2 hit and 1d8 damage buff for Bloodied PCs.
Sounds more like a good class feature to me, but maybe. I never was very enamoured of all these 'increase the pace' mechanics. Let the players decide to step it up if they want, or not.

Sum total =

* 3 less feats to create wonky build synergy that can wreak havoc (also serves to lessen build decision-points).
* Less intra-race/class/theme build choices and powers.
* Nova nerfed.
* "Rally Narrative" augmented.
* Damage expressions buffed for more tactical stunting.
* Monsters deadlier putting PCs in Bloodied condition creating feedback loop of more dangerous PCs with Bloodied damage buff (Rally Narrative again). This also mitigates the "dump encounter powers straight away" propensity that some tables endure.

Yeah, I'll have to think about that last part. I want to see how things go and how various powers work out first. In other words, provide some of that built into powers and class features. It makes it more engaging for the players when they're the ones producing the effect. At least its a theory ;)
 

10 levels is too few, I don't think it worked for 13a either.
10 levels is very neat and intuitive ("on a scale of 1 to 10j..."), but I agree it squeezes 13A too much, because they /also/ had 'tiers' w/in it.

20 levels is where we've landed. I think that will play out quite well. Score one for Gygax.
Was there a 20-level cap before 3.0? I'm sure I recall 1e tables going above 20...
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
I've written down a lot of messy kinda this and that. We have had little chance to really PLAY of late, a foray into 5e intervened, and then there was a general "lets play something else besides D&D for a while" sentiment. Really what I'm missing is a lot of the nuts and bolts. I mean I have devised a set of core rules, not hard given they're basically 4e with a few minor tweaks, and some different progressions and whatnot. Its certainly a pretty big mess, and some parts have been revised based on different experiments and discussions, while other parts are no longer consistent with those parts, etc. Not that I can't share it, but it may not make a huge amount of sense in total.
No worries - I understand perfectly : I've had games where about half (I'm exaggerating for effect) the rules are just in my head.

Head-space has a way of being organized in many dimensions - putting that on paper usually requires a 2 or even 1 D approach and the translation can be... difficult.

I've tried using mind-mapping, but the learning curve to get to "effortless ease" is always too long for my (lack of) patience... Maybe in a few years when I update my computer and get a touch screen that'll ease the process...
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
On the level number and range and such my recent revelation has been this : accept to restrain the campaign.

I've come to the realization that what I want is usually for the campaign to have a certain feel - in standard 4e, the feel changes a great deal (as it should!) during those 30 levels. It's way to much work crunching or spreading the crunch - it's better to just be up front and say "this game is going to be level 13-18 : they're way above average, can mow down squads, but they can't take on the entire castle by themselves yet." Or something to that effect and just play with progression rates and methods.

All this being said, respecting these kinds of ideas is harder than keeping your new year resolutions - so, you know, I'm going to keep hacking in about... aaannndd I've gotten an idea (I kid you not - it happened as I typed!)

But the initial point stands!

I see ~5 kinds of games (or actually, "feel" would be a better term) in 4e - it's just a matter of choosing the one you want and then not shooting yourself in the foot! But then again, hacking the game is just so much fun! :)

As to 13th Age - I agree, it does feel pretty "squeezed". On the other hand, it's the kind of game where they might even had gone with 9 levels with every 3rd having massive jumps in power. IMO it's the kind of game where "I gain a level" is supposed to be a game changer.

It's like 10 is too narrow for a granular progression, but then, it's to big for what should really be a "3 levels" game with a small number of "sub-levels".

... now I'm liking this "3 levels" thing... It would have beautiful parallel with creature construction : solo to elite to standard to minion. Ok, maybe a 5 level game so the initial solos could be faced as minions. And... if you add in 6 sub-level of granularity to each level, you get... (suspenseful drum roll) 30 levels! ... and we're right back at the start...

Sorry for the ramble - but then again, this is my ramble thread! (Also, feel free to ramble as well, I don't have a monopoly on ramblings - I won't judge you for it here.)

How interesting this would be : a thread where once you type, you can't take it back. The spelling would likely be horrendous (;)), but it would be very interesting to see all the starts and stops in all the ideas and propositions...
 

10 levels is very neat and intuitive ("on a scale of 1 to 10j..."), but I agree it squeezes 13A too much, because they /also/ had 'tiers' w/in it.

Was there a 20-level cap before 3.0? I'm sure I recall 1e tables going above 20...

TECHNICALLY AD&D and OD&D have no absolute limit. However you don't really gain anything except a trivial amount of hit points beyond 20th level. Magic Users/Wizards, and Cleric/Druid/Priest will get some additional spells, but in any practical sense you're topped out, and there's nothing out there that's going to present a challenge that you'd need to go higher up to overcome. I mean, some people played these 'super high level' games, but it usually turned into either a homebrew version of Immortals, or just off-the-wall Monty Haul like play. In any practical sense the game was over at 20, and Gygax himself gave out a free pizza to any player achieving level 20, and then retired the character (I understand only a couple of people ever got there). So, yes, in effect Gygax was calling the game 'over' at level 20, without saying "you can't continue, it absolutely ends here."

So, yes, 3.0 is the first edition where 20 is a hard limit, but even there I believe they then produced some sort of Epic Level Handbook, correct? 4e is the first time that the game effectively stated outright "there is no level beyond 30, just godlike beings and they don't really have level progression, we just rate them for challenge purposes."

I think putting that at level 20 and simply rescaling things such that level 21+ are 'godlike' is simply a minor redesign intended to reduce the need for added levels of 'filler'. While there are certainly interesting things available in 4e at all levels, for any one character, there are always a goodly number of those levels that aren't all that interesting. Often you find that 2-3 different levels provide encounter or daily powers that are largely just slight variations and scaling that exist mainly to fill out the choices at that level. Pruning back doesn't reduce options in any practical sense, but it insures they're less redundant and each level has some real solid payoff. Cutting out an extra 5 points of bonus growth is just icing on the cake.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top