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

AA has a great post immediately above which answers most things, so I’ll just throw a few supplementary words out.



Absolutely. Bigger and broader guns (hirelings and companions or squads of them) in order to offset Wizards ridiculous inherent scaling.

I think the REAL problem with 'classic D&D' style casting is the vastly greater PLOT POWER of the casters. It isn't that they're incredibly more effective in combat. Heck, my 14th level AD&D wizard was NOT actually THAT much more potent at just plain killing targets than the swingy types (well except the thief, but that's a whole other story...). Yes, he might, now and then SOD off a whole fight or something, but truthfully that kind of thing is problematic at best. There's a good chance Mr Monster has MR, makes his save, your clever off-label spell use gets nixed, a kobold knicks you in the shin with a stray dart while aiming at the thief, etc.

No, what made the wizard so dominant was the whole question of how MANY different approaches to a given operational challenge he could employ. Frankly "Questioner of all Things" wasn't blasting stuff to bits that much. His entire spell loadout was oriented towards having 'that one spell' which was going to make the difference somewhere down the line. I had a good solid 100 scrolls too (and a portable hole to carry them in). If I had to get down and dirty and FIGHT, that's what Staves of Power are for...

A lot of those spells might be used to gank or incapacitate foes of various sorts, its D&D after all, but often it was the teleport, the improved invisibility, the polymorph other, fly, or wall of stone, that did the trick. Often whole adventures would be BUILT around "When we get to the stairs Questioner will cast..." You wouldn't really get the same plot traction as a fighter. If the action didn't basically involved "and then we kill it" there really was no call to plan around the fighter beyond "if we run into some bad guys they'll chew on my shield instead of your leg and then I'll dice them into small bits." VERY HANDY, but you can hire cannon fodder who can pull that off. Try hiring a wizard to cast spells for you!
 

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MoutonRustique

Explorer
Making Combats BAD(tm)

Making combat BAD
During the [Mearls again says he dislikes how 4e turned out](tm) thread, a poster asked a question that's been asked a good many time for which there are plenty of answers, and it made me want to give another one. :)

What do you mean "make combat BAD" ?
Well, in 4e, the resource management game is centered around [Healing Surges]. From a game perspective, this is great. From a story-pacing perspective, it is also great. Where it can fall a bit flat is in terms of instinctual* perception of attrition / consequence.

*This is actually, anything but instinctual, as it's actually been ingrained by decades of "trad" D&D hit point ablation being taught as the measure of consequence. This is made obvious when discussing these issues with not-mainly-D&D players.

[sblock="Ramblings and musings"]
To make combat "BAD" (something to be avoided when possible), there needs to be 2 big things :
1 - it doesn't offer a desirable reward
2 - it incurs a non-recoverable loss

Now, I know that these settings are on a scale, and there are variable tipping points, and etc, and etc, but let's keep things simple here.

Fixing (1) is super-easy, all it takes is changing XP to be [progress based]. Killing something doesn't grant XP, accomplishing something grants XP.

But this has been discussed before, it's super easy, makes more sense in the game world, makes more sense at the table, easier to do, just all around better - so yeah, let's leave that aside.

What is often harder is (2).
Because 4e is usually played by those looking for intense action and unrelenting story progression, the "inventory game" isn't usually something that appeals to most of us. However, it is something that appeals (usually only in theory) to a large subset of D&D players.
[/sblock]

So here's my idea :
  • magical items are (mechanically) as they are now, but they don't do anything without the power of the "dragon/mana/eldritch/power/awesome-shard"
  • shards are "socketable" items (something that takes a few minutes to do)
  • a shard is good for 5 activations (combats)
  • magical items that are not empowered give a -1 penalty to (main purpose)
  • activation is based on intent (doesn't require an action) - but, as a variant, you could say that surprised characters haven't activated them yet
  • there are thirty(30) levels of shards with regards to power and cost - with obvious implications
  • once applied, a shard can't be removed without destroying it
  • the item costs 1/2 it's minimum value
  • shards cost 1/10 of a level-item*

So there you have it, a resource management element that is very simple to track (with small numbers), but that will still make combat "cost" something without actually having anything to change in the rules (or, not much of it in any case.)

[sblock="justification and more ramblings"]
*The base assumption is that an item will serve for ~25 combat encounters before being replaced (5/level, replaced after 5 levels).
I think that this system could easily offer an effective increase of ~10-20% to character effective wealth from the more granular approach which offers possibilities of savings here and there, but on the whole, it maps well, it's easy numbers, and I'm not seeing too much abuse being easily done.

But I might be missing something...

I've started giving most of my foes relevant magical items - but I've built up a system of ritual requirements to access their magic and, also, to maintain their magic. It's really cool, but it requires a huge amount of work as each and every item needs these elements to be defined in the fiction - cool, but so much work...

This approach will probably do wonders to enable my initial idea without requiring all that work... Yippi for me! :)

As a side bonus, this allows for a very easy removal of "magic item shops" if one wanted : the knowledge to make "magical" items is lost and there's no real use for "dragonshards" aside from that. Or an awesome Eberron variant that actually works pretty much as it's already presented (and offers even more incentive for the constant hunt for shards).

You could also break these rules to make an item extra-super-awesome-special by not requiring a shard
[/sblock]

[sblock="I started out with a much more involved system"]
Idea - add the (object) ressource management game back into 4e
Goal - make combat a negative prospect as it results in necessary expenditure of ressources

Weapons and armour are temporarily enchanted with one-use items to give them the mechanical stats of what would otherwise be permanent magical items.
- this damages the item and requires repair during a short rest
- failure to repair weapons or implements imposes a cumulative -1 to attacks and -1 to damage per die penatly
- failure to repair armour imposes a cumulative -1 penalty to AC and Reflex, a -1 penalty to attacks, as well as a -2 penalty to applicable checks
- an armour whose penalty is equal to it's AC bonus is damaged beyond what can be repaired in the field
- a weapon whose damage penalty is equal to half its maximum damage value is damaged beyond what can be repaired in the field
- OPTION :
○ enchantments are carried in the form of X
○ weapons need to be built to be able to handle X, doing this is more expensive and generally produces a lesser product
○ weapons without the capacity are what most people use
○ some items can grant the effects to any weapon - but these are much more expensive than they would otherwise be, and often of lesser effect

Suggested damage bonus :
- Low Heroic +1d6, Upper Heroic +2d6
- Lower Paragon +2d8, Upper Paragon +3d8
- Lower Epic +3d12, Upper Epic +4d12

OR : +1d6/+1d10/+2d6/+2d8/+2d12/+3d12

Damage enchancements can depend on both the item's power and the character's level to allow for much more shallow wealth progression - otherwise, if we wish to use same wealth-by-level guidelines, we can use the base game.

Determining the cost for the existing wealth levels :
- An item is assumed to be replaced after 5 levels
- There is an assumption of 10 encounters per level
- There is an assumption of ~5 combat encounters per level
- The cost is then to be 1/25th of a permanent item

My prefered approach :
- The "en-runing" is usually good for 5 battles
- The "en-runing" is a simple process that is non-reversable
- permanent magical weapons, implements and armour also exist
○ most offer improvements or modifications when "en-runed"
○ some offer "utility" powers
they are much valued

Obviously, this is at "spaghetti on the wall" level of refinement...
[/sblock]
 
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MoutonRustique

Explorer
And now I have so many random ideas based on this :

Artificiers get to have 6 activations per shard.

You can use shards as residuum.

You can use shards that are currently embedded as residuum for (fraction) their value, and it breaks the item it's currently bound to.

When you use a shard as residuum (or "disenchant it" to residuum), the amount it provides is, of course, proportional to it's remaining "charges".

Not sure if I want shards to be able to be transformed into residuum, or only be able to be used as residuum.

Perhaps it can be transformed into residuum, but only for (fraction) the amount that it would be able to used as. (Ouch... that sentence hurts...)

Poorly made (cheaper) items have fewer activations per shard (While this can pose some problems with the above ideas, I feel it's a more interesting approach than the multiple "charges" required approach - which only allows for 2 uses or 3 uses...)

Plot-device items can also offer fewer activations, and / or require multiple shards for a single one.

While the temptation is fierce, I feel it important to avoid the idea of minor items having more activations... but the temptation is sooo STRONG! Arrrghhggg! ... I probably won't make it...

... ok, so the ideas were pretty narrow in scope in the end ;)
 

Joshua Randall

Adventurer
You start off by saying the "inventory game" isn't something that actually appeals to people, and then you invent an inventory game. :p

I also wonder if clever players would find a way to engage in combat while selectively rotating out their magic items. Like, this time I'll use my mundane armor, but magic sword an expend 1 shard; next time I'll use my magic armor but my mundane sword; etc.
 


And now I have so many random ideas based on this :

Artificiers get to have 6 activations per shard.

You can use shards as residuum.

You can use shards that are currently embedded as residuum for (fraction) their value, and it breaks the item it's currently bound to.

When you use a shard as residuum (or "disenchant it" to residuum), the amount it provides is, of course, proportional to it's remaining "charges".

Not sure if I want shards to be able to be transformed into residuum, or only be able to be used as residuum.

Perhaps it can be transformed into residuum, but only for (fraction) the amount that it would be able to used as. (Ouch... that sentence hurts...)

Poorly made (cheaper) items have fewer activations per shard (While this can pose some problems with the above ideas, I feel it's a more interesting approach than the multiple "charges" required approach - which only allows for 2 uses or 3 uses...)

Plot-device items can also offer fewer activations, and / or require multiple shards for a single one.

While the temptation is fierce, I feel it important to avoid the idea of minor items having more activations... but the temptation is sooo STRONG! Arrrghhggg! ... I probably won't make it...

... ok, so the ideas were pretty narrow in scope in the end ;)

Dude, you have to have it so that minor powers require one charge, and major powers require 2 charges.... DUH!

HoML has a kind of thing like this, where there are at-wills (no VPs), Intermittent (free use once per encounter), and Vitality (always costs a VP). Admittedly, the 'shard' thing is a bit different, but HoML could reproduce it by simply having some form of 'recharge crystal'. (In HoML there is no distinction as to HOW you get your powers, so a power that is part of a sword is just another power in another slot, like any other).
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
Converting Hit Points into Hit Bullet Points

Basic idea : every creature status has the same number of "hit boxes" but they have a scale that says how many "hit boxes" a given attack deals - basically it translates damage dealt into a ~kind of % value.

Code:
[B][U]Status	     No of "hb"[/U][/B]
Minion	        One
Super-Minion	Two
Standard        Four
Elite           Height
Solo            Sixteen

Damage translation : (base)
(level+3) x1 = one box
(level+3) x3 = two boxes
(level+3) x5 = three boxes
(level+3) x7 = four boxes
...

Modifiers
Tough = level+5 (instead of +3)
Weak = level+1 (instead of +3)

Goal (hope) : increase the value of "single attack" attacks, accelerate bookkeeping, make minions more of a drain on action economy (not auto-removed from very-low damage big area effects).

Problems : many "add-on" little bits of damage don't work with this system... A solution could be to allow 1/2 a box (i.e. a / mark) to be marked for damage from effects dealing less than (level+3). However, I'm leery of this making "multi-damage instances" be the best method again...

Meh. If I ever try this out, we'll see. :heh:

Addon : to curtail the potential increased tracking of "minion half boxes", let's take a page from "Mooks" and say that the "half box" of damage applies to "the next minion that gets hit for a half box". This way, only the fact that there's a half box of damage applying to minions needs to be tracked.

Or it could be tracked strictly, and then we gain the [bloodied] on minions as well! B-)
 
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I'm a little unclear on what your damage translation notation means....

I'm assuming what you are really wanting to do is set up a system where damage is based on LEVEL DIFFERENCE. So what you should really have is a difference formula:

attacker is N levels different from defender, so damage per die is such-and-such. Really with this kind of system you should simply toss all the minor variations in damage that powers have, just go with a 'basic multiplier' that each power has, such as nDD, so a 3DD power at a +3 level difference will do, say, 6 boxes of damage (this is basically a daily wielded against a creature that 4e would consider an easy target, so it gets hit pretty hard, but this is just a rough guess as to how damage should be scaled).

Something like this might work fairly well. I played around with kind of the reverse setup, where you got a progressive damage multiplier based on level, essentially. It produces a roughly similar sort of progression, but the problem is, the number of dice gets unwieldy, and you need to use lots of hit points (though not much different from 4e or 5e on that front).
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
The goal is to translate "hp damage" into "hit box damage". The notations reference how much damage corresponds to one/two/etc "hit box".

It's not my best idea (I think), but I had it, and it stuck around long enough that I felt I should preserve it. That's all B-)

A level-differentiation based system would be, IMO, the best! If only I could do the calculations fast enough... Perhaps a reference table...
If you could normalize damage to be from 1 to 30, you could have a acceptably sized reference table.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I thought an idea Tony had was interesting

One didnt make minions / standards / elites perse...

The situation of outlevelling enemies allowed you to take unusually risky moves with minions you could easily generate 4x damage with extreme variants of your moves
 

I thought an idea Tony had was interesting

One didnt make minions / standards / elites perse...

The situation of outlevelling enemies allowed you to take unusually risky moves with minions you could easily generate 4x damage with extreme variants of your moves
Re-post (it's like thread necromancy, but different):

In 4e, I pulled a trick like we're talking about doing with monsters, but with NPCs, once. In a adventure-within-an-adventure scenario, the regular PCs were trying to obtain the aid of guest-PC wizard, who was semi-retired, running a school, the city's rulers really liked having her around, so they kept adventurers away as much as possible. So there was a whole skill challenge of political maneuvering involved, and, in the middle of it, the guest PC takes some of her students on a dungeon expedition to clear out some Dire Corbies (not even in 4e, AFAIK - they were 2hd monsters back in the day), but it turns out the scouts got it very wrong, and they were Hook Horrors (paragon monsters in 4e).
So I wanted this combat where the PCs rescue the guest star and her proteges from this case of deadly mistaken identity. A 10-level gap is prettymuch untenable in any - well, any game that uses levels, really, unless it uses hundreds of 'em. But statted as minions (with a trait that allowed they were Dying at 0 hps, so could be saved with timely healing), though, they participated, and the PCs had to make an effort to protect them, but it wasn't a futile effort, because the monsters /could/ actually miss them, and because of all the marking, forced movement, and other forms of control in 4e.

From that (see I get to my points eventually, you just have to bear with me), I got the idea that it'd be cool to have options for actual to PCs do that sort of thing, stretch to contribute when wildly outclassed, since it's an heroic sorta thing to do. I never more than mused on it, though, but (starting with the premise that PCs are ~equiv to elites), it might look something like:

Over Your Head: In desperate straights against superior foes, you guard yourself with extra care and don't dare riskier attacks

  • Your attack bonus and all defenses & other level-based checks increase by 5.
  • The first time you are hit, regardless of damage inflicted, you are reduced to your bloodied value, you cannot heal up above bloodied for the rest of the encounter.
  • You cannot use Daily powers.

Out of Your League: A battle rages beyond your ken, you desperately try to avoid destruction, and put the utmost effort into your most dependable attacks... you have no chance, but you might be able to tilt the balance, just a little, if you're lucky...

  • Your attack bonus and all defenses & other level-based checks increase by 10.
  • When you are hit, regardless of damage inflicted, you are reduced to 0 hps. (Effects that do not take attack rolls damage you normally, and you can be healed.)
  • You cannot use Encounter, Daily or Utility powers, you cannot spend Action Points.


And, hey, why not go the other way:

Toying With Them: "I am going to duel him left-handed, otherwise … is over too quick." Faced with contemptable foes, you decide to make it interesting, striding unconcerned about the field, and trying showy tricks you wouldn't risk against a real threat.

  • You take a -5 penalty to attacks and all defenses & other level-based checks, but gain a +5 bonus to Saving Throws.
  • You gain temporary hps equal to your maximum hps. The first time you spend a healing surge, you gain temporary hps equal to your surge value, as well.
  • You can use any of your standard-action Encounter Power attacks as a Minor Action, if you choose to use one as a standard action, instead, it is not expended until you use it as a Minor action; your encounter powers that are not standard actions are not expended when used, but can only be used 1/round. When you spend an Action Point, you gain the use of a second, bonus Action Point that you must expend before the end of the Encounter. At the End of the Encounter, you can regain one Daily that you used in it.
  • … I can't think of anything right now, but some enhancement to p42 improvised actions might be fun …
 

I thought an idea Tony had was interesting

One didnt make minions / standards / elites perse...

The situation of outlevelling enemies allowed you to take unusually risky moves with minions you could easily generate 4x damage with extreme variants of your moves

Yeah, that was another interesting variation.
 

So, what I'm thinking, based on these ideas would be something like this (roughly, I haven't done any math):

Create a 'damage table' which looks something like this

-5-20+2+5
defensive43211
normal64322
reckless86433







So, level difference reads 'this much or more' and is calculated as target - attacker. Now, in this system you COULD just do away with defensive (and offensive) level bonus entirely if you want. Or you could have the bonus/penalty types [MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] has outlined based on your 'tactics'.

As with [MENTION=22362]MoutonRustique[/MENTION]'s idea you would have a fixed 'boxed' hit point total based on your role (or for PCs it might be based on class/race/con, whatever).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
So, what I'm thinking, based on these ideas would be something like this (roughly, I haven't done any math):

Create a 'damage table' which looks something like this

-5-20+2+5
defensive43211
normal64322
reckless86433







So, level difference reads 'this much or more' and is calculated as target - attacker. Now, in this system you COULD just do away with defensive (and offensive) level bonus entirely if you want. Or you could have the bonus/penalty types @Tony Vargas has outlined based on your 'tactics'.

As with @MoutonRustique's idea you would have a fixed 'boxed' hit point total based on your role (or for PCs it might be based on class/race/con, whatever).

The significantly static hitpoints and potentially bursty damage reminds me of RuneQuest but with the bursts somewhat more under player choice rather fixes the problems it had with not feeling heroic.
 



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