Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 3:46 AM
I've heard it bandied about on the forums that a shield is a light weapon, and therefore there is nothing preventing you from Dual-Wielding Shields. I do not believe this was intended and it is an oversight. I also believe it should go uncorrected.
When we write the obituary of 4th Edition, Errata is going to be one of the causes. Continuous changes to the rules have rendered the original 4th Edition PHB basically useless. Monster math, classes, everything changed and made buying splat books, books with less flavor (The Power Books) a poor choice for people looking to buy books when the Character and Monster Builders were available.
Part of the Next Design philosophy has to be getting it right the first time after all this playtesting. I think they're falling into a trap right now where every packet changes and tweaks the classes' combat abilities. That big push for story focused gameplay has been so far a byproduct of a more flexible ruleset rather than a more intentional directed effort.
At the same time, Double Shield Dude isn't breaking the game like misprinting 30d6 instead of 3d6. And I think having a guy show up saying "Ah ha! I am double shield man! Your monsters will tremble!" would be a pretty easy way to screen ****s out of my D&D game. This isn't some broken feat from a magazine that only shows up after you've been gaming with someone for three hours, Double Shield Dude is readily apparent to gods and men. A keeping one stupid overpowered option in the game sounds to me like a great way to identify stupid players looking to beat the system rather than you know, play a game that is fair and challenging.
So go ahead, bring the character with two shields. Just not to our table.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:08 PM
Since I began playing D&D Next, I've only played a rogue. Part of me really wants to play a wizard and I desperately want to ride a Bull Moose Thranduil style with my neutral elf paladin. But beyond that, I've largely rejected the published schemes as too narrow to pursue my own path. If you've read my stuff, you've no doubt heard me drone on about my ideal character, the Littlefinger Rogue. It's not about dealing damage, it's about being awesome. In fact, it is anti-damage, anti-damage. How far can I run away from being viable in combat and still be fun to play?
So building my own scheme in the first packet was a synch. Pick 4 skills. Any 4. Bam! It worked. Last time was the same deal, basically the Trickster's three bonus skill tricks with my own choices of other stuff. Also, Artful Dodger rather than Sneak Attack because I see the character as more about avoiding damage than dealing it.
This new rogue...yeesh. The skill tricks I loved so much are gone. Most are now feats. So not only can I not get them, I have to spend my feats to get them. All the schemes grant 3 bonus feats which tells me the Trickster was far and away everyone's favorite scheme last go around. The Skill Mastery mechanic I loved so much is gone and made much narrower. In general, I lack the optimism that greeted the last packet because things have largely been cut rather than added.
So how would I go about designing my Chessmaster scheme for the Rogues of March? Well let's boil it down to what makes any custom scheme.
Isolated Strike or Backstab?
2 Bonus Skills - We used to get FOUR! Ripoff!
3 Bonus Expert Feats
Skill Mastery - Gain a bonus 1d6 for checks related to your two bonus skills.
With my own background called Courtier giving me the Bluff, Persuade, Sense Motive, and Gather Rumors skills, time to work.
Isolated Strike - A Chessmaster has to go it alone sometimes. He can't be relying on having a friend nearby.
2 Bonus Skills & Skill Mastery - One thing I've really liked about Next is that it's been very easy to work around redundancy. But narrowing Skill Mastery makes that a bit of a pain in the ass. Being that I'm making my own thing using their mechanics, screw 'em. A Chessmaster gains a 1d6 bonus for checks to bluff and persuade. For bonus skills, I'll take spot and listen. A Chessmaster doesn't miss much.
3 Expert Feats - Unflappable, Read Lips, Hide in Shadows
Ta da! He'll be holding a dagger to Ned Stark's throat in no time!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 2:32 PM
I have a narrative/wording/syntax problem with D
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 4:39 AM
After mining Mike Mearls twitter feed, I've figured out that what he specifically meant in Monday's L&L post is adding more feats and crunch books like Martial Power. I think that's certainly an admirable goal, I would be on board with it. But this smacks of "Mr. Mearls has made his judgment, now let us see him enforce it." If he wants to hold back the tide, great. But I lack faith.
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Friday, March 1, 2013, 3:22 PM
For those who may have read my signature you have no doubt noticed I included several slams against a group of people called the Character Optimization community. This is unnecessary and I know that. It's a playstyle that I don't happen to enjoy or understand. There's someone out there who really wants to talk to you about his "killswitch" whatever the hell that is.
But I was thinking about this the other day. To me, a game with people who like Character Optimization is like a game with race cars (also known as a race). Everyone is building something to achieve an end goal in the most efficient way possible. That goal varies depending on the builder. Damage or Accuracy? Armor or HP? Fuel Efficiency, Speed, Handling, there are trade-offs. And a great deal of the control is in the driver's hands. I wouldn't know how to play one of these characters in the most efficient way but there are objective standards with the end goal of winning the race. The mechanics are designed to minimize risks and make the character less prone to losing or being prone as the case may be. The goal of the game is winning.
And to be sure, no one wants to lose. No one wants to feel like they suck. But, the race car simile isn't how I want to think of my game. I think of my game like an ice cream sundae. It doesn't really matter what you put on the sundae, you're still eating ice cream. And everyone's sundae is equally valid if you're doing what you want. No one feels inferior because they didn't mod their ride. And while no one wants to lose, winning the race doesn't make sense because the point is to enjoy the sundae. I'm not building a car to win the race, I'm making the sundae I'm going to enjoy the most. Because the enjoyment is entirely personal and inaccessible to another person.
Well, that's one opinion. Race cars are built by teams after all. The creation and enjoyment of an ice cream sundae is a largely selfish pursuit. There is a social element in bandying about the correct way to accomplish the objective of winning the race. This is the part of the Character Optimization and indeed life perspective that I find most subjective. I know it exists, I know someone out there enjoys this, but it is completely inaccessible to me. This belongs to the realm of arguing about Darth Vader's alignment or who is the greatest quarterback of all time. My perspective is that a team is unnecessary. Yes we could all work together to build the most powerful character of all time. But only one person gets to drive the car and everyone can build their own car. Now, I can see that this is like saying, "why play football when you can't be the quarterback?" D&D is, to me, entirely non-competitive. I want to feel challenged but its at the core a collaborative experience.
The social experience is what drives the game. For the Character Optimizer, the building is the source of the experience. The game itself then becomes about the execution of perfect form and technique. The perfect ice cream sundae also has rituals and techniques it falls into as well. However, no matter how set I get in my ways or my rogue, there should never be a wrong way to experience it.
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Friday, December 21, 2012, 2:53 AM
Huzzah we won! They're going to continue releasing the magazines as compilations. Now for the show trials. Whose stupid idea was this in the first place after Dragon 399/Dungeon 189?
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 3:41 AM
Being that until now I played Next very infrequently, I do three things when a packet comes out. I check the skills, I check Goblins, and I check Rogues. So what've we got here? Skill Dice are the change for Skills. They take the place of your static bonuses and level up skill bonuses. The DCs for skills are also multiples of 5. My kneejerk reaction is negative. This is because it adds a layer of complexity. You normally add 1d20 + A Number (Ability + Training + Whatever). Now you add 3 numbers, 1d20 + A Number + A Skill Die. We'll see how it plays though.
The scheme gives an extra 4 skills. Skill Mastery is instead you get to roll two skill dice and take the higher result. You also get either an additional benefit or a bonus feat. This is kind of all over the map, but it really speaks to a character. Assassins get shields and all martial weapons. Acrobats get a bonus feat to gain Skill Focus (Sneak). Duelists get a Maneuver. Tricksters get 3 EXTRA SKILL TRICKS. Think that’ll be the choice for the Littlefinger Rogue. Because they’ve set extra skill tricks or a bonus feat as the baseline, this will be easy to play with and come up with your own schemes.
All rogues also get extra stuff for Dex Saving Throws at higher levels.
I really like this. It’s still allowing me to make my character, not some combat ninja just for the sake of the system. That said, I lament that Expertise is now Combat Expertise. It gives the perception, it gave me the perception that this packet pushes the game to be more about combat until I saw Skill Tricks. Not sure if this is good or bad, but there’s a lot of stuff. You have Martial Damage Dice, Martial Damage Bonuses, your scheme gives you a Talent, a Benefit, 4 Skills, and Skill Tricks. That first packet was like, here’s your light weapon, here’s your skills, go play. The Martial Damage Dice worry me about creating a strong incentive to deal damage every turn, but its balanced out by the return of the Sneak Attack. Personally I’d like to see someone from the design team paraded around on the back of a donkey for thinking they could TRY to take my sneak attack. Now I think I could honestly give it up for Artful Dodger.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 7:56 PM
I started playing 3.5 in high school, it was the twilight of the edition. The reason I became a DM was largely because I was the one guy in my friends group who got those expensive ass books and studied them. For the year prior to the release of 4th edition WotC came down on 3.5 really hard. The podcasts slammed, SLAMMED the 5 minute workday and caster/martial imbalance. In a way they weren't just coming down on 3.5, these two issues were present in prior editions. 4E was a completely new direction and its where I got the meat of my DMing experience.
-A while back when I was a player, the DM had us chasing bandits outside a farm. My lawful character asked, can we appeal to the nearby Lord for assistance? Well, I didn’t really ask, I kind of demanded. I made what I felt was a convincing case that we were in a well settled area, not Athas or some dictatorship and that we were basically doing the feudal lord’s job with no help or reward. This isn’t a card one should play often. If at the start of the night the DM says, you hear a rumor of a cult and you say “I don’t care about this cult” everyone might as well go home. Our DM was really thrown by this. He flat out told us, if you get help, I’m going to make the adventure harder. He shouldn’t have said that, even if he needed to do it anyways to maintain the challenge. God knows I wouldn’t want my adventures to be a cakewalk because a PC spotted an angle I missed. So we got some NPC guards and they kind of blew but I was satisfied and it explained why we couldn’t just get help, the help sucks.
But the reason I started writing this post was about the DM’s fundamental discomfort and inability to respond to something outside the rigid structure. And I’m not putting myself on a pedestal as a DMing or roleplaying guru. I’m saying that this moment was not unique. In my experience as a DM and a player, 4th edition encourages some bad habits. Now, ever since Dungeon magazine began its new Giants series, I’ve been blown away with the quality of the published adventures. They really break outside the delve format, embrace player choice, and reward smart play. And that’s not to say there’s no good advice on roleplaying. It is just as possible to have a problem oriented game that doesn’t focus on combat. But the majority of my play experiences have not reflected this. Again, I don’t think this is too controversial a statement.
But what I don’t know is how Next and its adventures that really move away from delves are going to react with 4E players and DMs who are only used to delves. So far I’ve DMed one game for people familiar with 4E. The idea of a living dungeon mystified them. After some goblins ran off, it never occurred to them that the goblins would come back with more goblins. Getting outside that format is more fun for me, and I think it makes for better players.
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Saturday, December 8, 2012, 6:56 AM
Here are some quotes I've pulled off the discussion on Rogues, tricks, compulsion, and DM Fiat. The argument seems to be that a creative rogue player could do many of the the things 4E listed as "powers." So having things in the game life compelling an enemy to blunder forward on a failed saving throw is unnecessary. The counterargument to that is while the rogue is able to do these creative things, without them being spelled out they are subject to "DM Fiat." This is where the DM makes a decision that alters the mechanical/narrative direction things would naturally take. I have bolded my comments below.
I think that it makes sense for the rogue to have a few tricks up its sleave that go beyond (meaning not subject to?) DM fiat. Spellcasters should not be the only ones with access to such powers. To me, this seemed just an explicit declaration if what had been true all along, to shut up the "classes aren't balanced" whiners. A rogue could try a trick like this ALREADY. In EVERY edition of D&D. (technically, any class could, a rogue just had a better chance of success.) Making the process explicit makes the Balance Brigade shut up, without changing the game one iota. I agree with this poster that one of the rogue's best features is it offers a better chance of success (through skill bonuses) to a creative player.
Reply to the Above
Reply to Above the Above
A rogue could try a trick like this ALREADY. In EVERY edition of D&D.
Lightning Round - Each Line is a reply to the above.
“I'm not certain why a mechanical compulsion MUST necessarily translate into a narrative compulsion. Just because the ability forces a creature to take a certain action doesn't mean that there is any magical force at work which compels that action; it is merely a mechanical representation of something very realistic and possible. To insist that such an ability MUST be non-magical hypnosis is to be willfully obstinate.” Does it fall to the DM, or the player to describe what happens when a power compels an NPC to do something? Charm and Suggestion place the onus on the DM. But more than that, if there's a rule for something, there will be a point when it doesn't make sense.
I'm not convinced it's something that needs to be a codified power. These 'mind tricks' are subject to DM fiat and to the situation at hand. It's clear that against some creatures it will automatically fail. In addition, this "power" does nothing that the Improvised Action doesn't already cover.
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Friday, December 7, 2012, 9:31 PM
Cool article over on Critical Hits.
"It just seems WotC, the designers and developers, and the marketing department all felt like any focus on 4th edition support would take away from their push for D&D Next, a product that doesn’t yet exist and may not for some time.
This change in marketing, a simple decision about how they talk about things has ended up splitting the rift even further between those who love 4e and those who look forward to D&D Next. They wouldn’t have to change a single product to heal this wound. All they need to do is change how they talk about 4e and how they talk about Next."
For me personally, I couldn't get into Next without some WotC sponsored criticism of 4E. When 4E was annouced, the next D&D podcast put 3.5 on the back of a donkey to tear it down. They ripped into the 5 Minute Day and the Linear/Quadratic problem of character growth. This, combined with those two preview books I read at Borders in 2007 tore down the old gods so we could praise the new.
Now it seems WotC is content to make 4e an Unperson. Really until the PVP/Penny Arcade podcasts, you didn't hear good criticism of 4E from a sponsored source.
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