PC throwing, essentially broken, smashed glass dust into the eyes of other characters, mostly NPC

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I'm playing w/ a guy now who, upon reaching a local town, goes and purchases glass cups/mugs/whatever, puts them in a pouch or bag and smashes them to a gritty sand-like texture.  Then he throws it into the eyes of monsters or NPC's that he needs to defeat.

Personally - I think that's hilarious, because it's not an attack, it's more the DM rolls a D6 and 1 through 5 is how long the character is blinded or impared, and the off-chance a 6 is rolled, it's permanent (until a Healer can be paid or something to heal)

I think a funny solution to this scenario that happens quite frequently would be for the DM to allow for the chance of wind to blow the glass back into the PC's face for damage to himself!  LOLing out loud.

Your thoughts?
If he is tageting someone and trying to effect them it is an attack.
This dose not work at all in D&D4E unless he has a power that say he can do anything remotely like this.
This would not work in D&D 3.0 or 3.5 unless he has a feat, class or prestige class abillity or special equipment that say he can do something even remotely like this.

It is the exact same thing as saying "I walk up and cut his head off"
No attack roll, no damage roll just saying you do it and assuming that it works and that you win because you said "I Win" first.
  
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It's not an attack, no damage from it occurs, except it causes irritation in the eyes.  That's what he says at least.
the way attacks are determined in 4E is that all things are seperated as utilities or attack powers.  The way you can tell which is which is that if the power or ability harms or negatively affects it's target, it's an attack.  This throwing glass powder into the eyes of your target to give it the blind condition is an attack.  There's no other way to see it.  It should require an attack roll since you're making an attack against another creature, maybe following the improvised weapon rules for example.

It doesn't matter what the player wants to RP, causing the blind condition on a monster or NPC the way he's doing it is very powerful in it's own right.  This is an attack and it should follow the attack rules. 
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This dose not work at all in D&D4E unless he has a power that say he can do anything remotely like this.
  



Not quite.  See pg.42, "Actions the rules don't cover."

But, yes, it is DEFINITELY an attack.  Attacks do not need to deal damage to be considered attacks, and as such, the person flinging the debris must make an attack roll.
It's fine as an action to be attempted, though I might implement the mechanics differently. It's basically a Page 42 thing in 4e (improvised actions). That might make it a skill check or an attack roll and probably both to make it happen on par with a terrain power. The blindness would have a limited duration and might not be the blinded condition at all, but rather a -2 penalty to the creature's attack rolls or something similar. I'd balance it against the action cost.

But anyway, long story short, it's valid. Mechanics need tweaking depending on edition.

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Personally - I think that's hilarious, because it's not an attack, it's more the DM rolls a D6 and 1 through 5 is how long the character is blinded or impared, and the off-chance a 6 is rolled, it's permanent (until a Healer can be paid or something to heal)

Definitely bonus points for creativity, but no way as a DM would I let this fly.  Way too powerful to be able to blind someone without even rolling an attack.

As LolaBonne and iserith said though, there are several ways you could do this improvisationally and with a result that is not game-breaking.

In 4e, one character I DM for took a feat for Alchemy specifically so he could design weapons like this.  A lot of them are already described in the book, but he invented a few new ones that we fit into the existing power curve.  In all cases though, those items had a monetary cost appropriate for the effect they had.

Also keep in mind, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.  If a PC has some sort of improvised weapon that has a disproportionate effect, the enemies could have stuff like that too.  And personally, I prefer not to get into an arms race like that because as the DM, I will always win.  ;)       

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Great idea, I might have to try this w/one of my characters. 


As far as rules go, I don’t see why you can’t do this ((and if we are having true RP you’re chr could)) It just comes down to if a DM is going to “play ball”


Some will just say no (usually the boring ones) but if the DM has a little bit of creativity and fun they would find a way to work around it. (I liked the -2 suggestion that was put out there)


As said though, 3-4e really isn’t strong for this (Sadly) but still it is doable (And I try to do sh!t like this all the time to my DMs dismay) If you have a DM who will let you all do fun things like this, I say milk it for all it’s worth!

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I would totally allow this... and I would require an attack versus reflex and I would require a save or dex check to not get cut yourself by the handful of glass... and I would never make it permanent.  I might only let it be blind for one turn, or maybe save ends and give it a bonus to the save if I felt it messed up the encounter. I'd also enforce action economy - how many actions does it take to get out the bag, get a dose of glass dust/shards - requires two free hands, next round, free to drop minor to put away, minor to draw weapon/implement...


And most certainly, if he used it all the time, he would be fighting against creatures with temorsence or other blindness mitigating abilities.


The players is certainly being clever, and clever is good and should be encouraged. But he is definitely trying to push the "I win" button.  Guess what? You have to work harder than that.


TjD

I agree that this is fine, but that a smaller penalty stemming from an actual attack roll would be more appropriate.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

What a nightmare. The slightest breath of air(from wind or the the thrashing around from people fighting) and suddenly there is glass dust in your hair, in your allies hair and eyes, under your armor, clothes, boots. Your hands now have a thousand tiny glass fragments stuck to them. You and your allies have open wounds from the fight. Now you are trying to clean glass dust out of bleeding wounds. 
2 weeks after you figured out it was a bad idea, you would still be picking glass out of the bottom of your backpack. 
What a nightmare. The slightest breath of air(from wind or the the thrashing around from people fighting) and suddenly there is glass dust in your hair, in your allies hair and eyes, under your armor, clothes, boots. Your hands now have a thousand tiny glass fragments stuck to them. You and your allies have open wounds from the fight. Now you are trying to clean glass dust out of bleeding wounds. 
2 weeks after you figured out it was a bad idea, you would still be picking glass out of the bottom of your backpack. 

That's okay, because you'd be killed in first monster-infested dungeon you thought it would be a fun idea to explore. Because the world you're in makes sense, instead of being fun.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

What a nightmare. The slightest breath of air(from wind or the the thrashing around from people fighting) and suddenly there is glass dust in your hair, in your allies hair and eyes, under your armor, clothes, boots. Your hands now have a thousand tiny glass fragments stuck to them. You and your allies have open wounds from the fight. Now you are trying to clean glass dust out of bleeding wounds. 
2 weeks after you figured out it was a bad idea, you would still be picking glass out of the bottom of your backpack. 

That's okay, because you'd be killed in first monster-infested dungeon you thought it would be a fun idea to explore. Because the world you're in makes sense, instead of being fun.



+1

@FamousErik

This is a fantasy role playing game. Not real life.


Instead of dropping hyper realism on players, why not let them think outside the box? I think when DM shoots down ideas like this time and time again they really just want people to spam at-wills or Nova play.


Now this has its’ place for sure, but not all the time; if it was DnD would get very old very quick imo.

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That's exactly the point. The glass throwing player is also well past the edge of fantasy fun and well into real world guerilla handbook tactics .  So if the glass throwing is being allowed, What is the problem with creating real world consequences?
That's exactly the point. The glass throwing player is also well past the edge of fantasy fun and well into real world guerilla handbook tactics .

There's a Rogue power called Sand in the Eyes, so this tactic is quite appropriate for D&D.

So if the glass throwing is being allowed, What is the problem with creating real world consequences?

Because it's pretty clear that the intention behind creating those consequences is to burden the idea with heavy disincentives, so that the player will decide not to do it, without the DM having to say no. That amounts to blocking.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Well if we're not going to have real world consequences and we're going to go with something in the name of fun, then make it consistent with other game mechanics. It should be an attack and either last one round or at least be a save ends effect. It should not be a permanent condition.
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First - I'd like to say thanks to everyone for really good responses.  This is one of the first threads I've started on this discussion board, and the posts from everyone have been extremely informative and insightful. 

Second - I have a feeling my DM will be taking "real world" things more into effect here, like the wind, and potential temporary blindness for the PC throwing the glass and I REALLY liked the idea of, over time, glass getting into the PC's clothing and gear, etc, etc, etc.. That would be fraggin' hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!
Second - I have a feeling my DM will be taking "real world" things more into effect here, like the wind, and potential temporary blindness for the PC throwing the glass and I REALLY liked the idea of, over time, glass getting into the PC's clothing and gear, etc, etc, etc.. That would be fraggin' hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't see why, but ok. Maybe because it's the kind of thing that wouldn't happen in a video game? Maybe?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Second - I have a feeling my DM will be taking "real world" things more into effect here, like the wind, and potential temporary blindness for the PC throwing the glass and I REALLY liked the idea of, over time, glass getting into the PC's clothing and gear, etc, etc, etc.. That would be fraggin' hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't see why, but ok. Maybe because it's the kind of thing that wouldn't happen in a video game? Maybe?



I'm not saying my DM will totally put a stop to the glass throwing activity, but you don't think it'd be funny if over time the character throwing the glass gets glass in his drinking mug and eventually cuts his mouth on the glass?.... 

I guess I think that's better in the long run than saying:  no, you can't throw glass in the eyes of another creature/character.
I'm not saying my DM will totally put a stop to the glass throwing activity, but you don't think it'd be funny if over time the character throwing the glass gets glass in his drinking mug and eventually cuts his mouth on the glass?....

No, that doesn't strike me as funny. Nor would most of the other real-world effects of this tactic.

Spitting lighter fluid at someone and causing a fiery blast is cool. Getting cancer from the chemicals in the lighter fluid is lame.

I guess I think that's better in the long run than saying:  no, you can't throw glass in the eyes of another creature/character.

Oh, it is better. It's just that that's not the only way to balance this.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

And that is the difference as well: throwing sand is a simple and legit tactic. The player with the glass is trying to get results that are out of balance. Sand or dust also isn't going to be a lingering problem. 
I just figure that if a player is going to deliberately create a situation with real consequences that they should be able understand, then they should have to deal with what they are doing. Otherwise we are just playing a video game.
It is always a concern to get bogged with too much realism. I don't want to play a game where drinking from a stream requires a roll against catching cryptosporidium. But if the characters drink the water 100' downstream from the coal mine waste water pond , then they should have to deal with 'realistic' consequences.
And that is the difference as well: throwing sand is a simple and legit tactic. The player with the glass is trying to get results that are out of balance.



No.  The DM adjucates the effects of the attack.
And that is the difference as well: throwing sand is a simple and legit tactic.

There's no actual sand involved, you realize. The power could involve anything, including ground glass. My rogue threw a glass of poisoned wine, a handful of small gears, and even a glob of leftover magical energy.

The player with the glass is trying to get results that are out of balance.

Then balance it, rather than making it an utterly unpleasant tactic to use.

I just figure that if a player is going to deliberately create a situation with real consequences that they should be able understand, then they should have to deal with what they are doing. Otherwise we are just playing a video game.

So, if the player comes up with counter-objections to all of the consequences, the tactic is then balanced?

It is always a concern to get bogged with too much realism. I don't want to play a game where drinking from a stream requires a roll against catching cryptosporidium. But if the characters drink the water 100' downstream from the coal mine waste water pond , then they should have to deal with 'realistic' consequences.

Fine. But realism that's actually intended to block a creative idea is a passive-aggressive and trust-breaking approach.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

It's an attack that causes the target to grant combat advantage until the end of your next turn. Maybe it causes Blinded (save ends) on a critical hit.

Simple and reasonably thematic.
It's an attack that causes the target to grant combat advantage until the end of your next turn. Maybe it causes Blinded (save ends) on a critical hit. Simple and reasonably thematic.

See, I like something like that.  Combat advantage on a hit, perhaps blinded temporarily on a crit.  This could be situationally very useful.  The main thing keeping the PC from spamming this attack all the time?  Other attacks are usually much better, so if you get a guy who wants to go around flinging powdered glass at every monster he meets, he's passing up the opportunity to do more effective things and the tactic will get old real quick.

Plus, if a PC can come up with new improvised attacks, so can monsters ... so watch out.  If your new improvised power becomes a win button then monsters could potentially have a win button too, so let's not go there.

I'd still try to reflavor another existing power to do this though, instead of coming up with a new power.

A 1st level Rogue I knew who wanted to use his Acrobatics to shift around enemies in combat.  That was overpowered so I told him you can do that ... but not yet.  Wait till you get  to level 2 and take Tumble.  At level 1 you're just not hot enough to do that.  I even offered to advance him the power so he could start using it right away at level 1 but then he wouldn't get another power at level 2.  But what he really wanted was something for free ... So I wanted to let him do what he wanted to do but on the other hand I tried to find a way to fit it into a level 1-2 Rogue's capabilities. 

Creativity is good but you're not going to get a win button from me.  If you can't win without a new shiny win button, you're not as creative as you thought, I guess.  ;)

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

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"Keep On The Shadowfell" would be hailed as a brilliant, revolutionary triumph in game design if it were followed by the words "A Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

I think there's a reasonable middle ground between the DM's current auto-hit, roll a D6 to determine duration of blind, and using a standard action to make an inaccurate attack vs reflex to deal no damage and cause the target to grant CA.

I've often "caught" DMs offering awful, awful choices like this to players trying to be creative.

"The map shows a pile of logs at the top of a hill? Can I unbundle them and push them down on top of the goblin camp?"

Yes, make a hard DC athletics check as a standard action. If you succeed, make a blast 5 attack at 5 vs reflex. Goblins hit will be knocked prone and take 5 damage.

"But I'm an Avenger. I have no strength mod, but my sword should have no problem cutting the ropes involved. And +5? We're level 10, my attack modifier is better than twice that. And 5 damage? I can do 6 times that much..."

Worse yet is on maptools games where the DM has anticipated the creative action, or placed something like a ballista on the map to tempt us, and has already built macros for it...and they're terrible.

I absolutely understand why improvised actions shouldn't be overwhelmingly better than your character's actual powers, or else they will be all you use. But neither should they be always terrible, terrible choices.

They should be balanced somewhere between at-will and encounter power level, to encourage creativity without giving players either an advantage or disadvantage.

 Technically, the real-world Ninja used to do this all the time - however, they used a hollowed-out egg to hold it, thereby making it a single-use comnsumable item...

 If the guy's going to be narratively pulling ninja eggs out of his pockets on cue, it's either a consumable item or an at-will attack that only has a minor-yet-reasonable effect. D4 damage and either Blind til eont or target grants CA and -2 to hit (save ends) seem appropriate.
Alternately, make it a non-damaging encounter utility that applies a decent effect in a small area.

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Our DM did decide that the glass powder was limited, 1 toss per 1 glass mug broken into millions of tiny little baby pieces.

So that's good, it's not an unlimited supply.


It's not an attack, no damage from it occurs, except it causes irritation in the eyes.  That's what he says at least.



In 3.5 it would be treated as a splash weapon, and of course the target would get a reflex save to avoid damage. If you treated it like other weapons of this mundane nature (acid flask ext) and given that he is just grinding upi glass (no real tools to fine grind it) I would choose a lower DC. 10 to 15 to avoid being blinded for 1d4 rounds. The range of course would be in the advacent square so 5 feet.

to sum it up:

5 foot ranged touch attack, reflex 10 to avoid, blinded 1d4 rounds


Would be a balanced, and realistic way to handle it.


Why DC 10? and not autohit? Because the target can blink, and used in combat, is not going to be caught so offguard as to not react.


Placing it in  eggshell as a ranged attack would work, but he should be using tools to grind it into a fine powder, realistically you aren't going to pound glass that fine without really working it. But in somethign like an egg shell it could be made into a ranged attack.


4th edition rules I would not be sure of, but I m sure a balanced rule could be mde for it there too

Why no negative consequences? because there is nothing inherently risky in what he is trying to do. Now if the DM had described there ws a really hrd wind blowing directly back at him beforehand, and he was downwind, well maybe that would be a bad time, but I think that would be obvious and the PC would never do it.
A gust of wind.
A slight turn.
Closed eyes.
A hand to block.
Moving(and remember, people are constantly moving in that square).
Damage Reduction.
Tear ducts.
All these defeat glass dust, and I only took 2 seconds to think.  It's a very inexperienced fighter indeed to fall for that kind of thing.  Not to mention the guy has to open the pouch and take out the stuff(which is completely obvious). 

Plus, making glass dust?  That's going to be more threat to the person grinding it up.  Crushing it means it will get into the air.  That person is going to breath the dust in.  And since I see nothing about buying a paper breathing mask in any of the books, he's screwed.  Can't even hold his breath, since it hangs in the air for awhile.  Don't try to compare it to the sand, either.  You know what happens when a pouch of sand stuck in your sleeve leaks?  Things get dirty, and your lungs and stomach lining don't get shred to ribbons.
A gust of wind.
A slight turn.
Closed eyes.
A hand to block.
Moving(and remember, people are constantly moving in that square).
Damage Reduction.
Tear ducts.
All these defeat glass dust, and I only took 2 seconds to think.  It's a very inexperienced fighter indeed to fall for that kind of thing.  Not to mention the guy has to open the pouch and take out the stuff(which is completely obvious). 

Plus, making glass dust?  That's going to be more threat to the person grinding it up.  Crushing it means it will get into the air.  That person is going to breath the dust in.  And since I see nothing about buying a paper breathing mask in any of the books, he's screwed.  Can't even hold his breath, since it hangs in the air for awhile.  Don't try to compare it to the sand, either.  You know what happens when a pouch of sand stuck in your sleeve leaks?  Things get dirty, and your lungs and stomach lining don't get shred to ribbons.



I think this has gotten beat to death; but once again I think that’s too much realism in a setting which is obviously fantasy based. Centauri put it best, if the DM makes it so hard for a player to try an idea, they are effectively not allowing the action. It seems a good deal of people only want the players to be able to do their recorded at-wills/encounters/daily ect. & want nothing in terms of “thinking” outside the box.


Sad.

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Sad perhaps CliveDauthi, but hard to do if the player is only interested in finding an exploit, rather then simply a creative idea. A handful of broken up glass? That isn't going to do much, so the player shouldn't be expecting such an unbalanced result from a crudely improvised weapon.

I think there should be some expectation that the player makes some effort to make his idea work and look for a balanced effect. How about a pepper bomb, it would be more effective then glass since it has a chemical effect, and a balanced cost. Sure glass ground up is cheap, but not as effective and a limit of one shot/mug is an artificial limit considering glassware being cheap to free. Here i think the player is expecting too much.

Toss in the eyes with a small but reasonable chance of a blinding effect for 1 or 2 rounds should be what he is execting, if he wants better then the player shoudl work for it, like the pepper bomb I suggested, just a little more colaberation on the player's part is needed here.
A gust of wind.
A slight turn.
Closed eyes.
A hand to block.
Moving(and remember, people are constantly moving in that square).
Damage Reduction.
Tear ducts.
All these defeat glass dust, and I only took 2 seconds to think.  It's a very inexperienced fighter indeed to fall for that kind of thing.  Not to mention the guy has to open the pouch and take out the stuff(which is completely obvious). 

Plus, making glass dust?  That's going to be more threat to the person grinding it up.  Crushing it means it will get into the air.  That person is going to breath the dust in.  And since I see nothing about buying a paper breathing mask in any of the books, he's screwed.  Can't even hold his breath, since it hangs in the air for awhile.  Don't try to compare it to the sand, either.  You know what happens when a pouch of sand stuck in your sleeve leaks?  Things get dirty, and your lungs and stomach lining don't get shred to ribbons.

I think this has gotten beat to death; but once again I think that’s too much realism in a setting which is obviously fantasy based. Centauri put it best, if the DM makes it so hard for a player to try an idea, they are effectively not allowing the action. It seems a good deal of people only want the players to be able to do their recorded at-wills/encounters/daily ect. & want nothing in terms of “thinking” outside the box.

Sad.


Definitely. If a DM thinks that what a player is doing is too much benefit for too little risk, they should talk to the player, rather than trying to passively give the player disincentives.

The "Sand in the Eyes" power shows one possible way to balance this, as do other powers, and items. If you're resorting to realism, check to make sure you're not just trying to block the idea completely.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

My guess is that the pursuit of "realism" in a fantasy game is what originally led to the player demanding (or at least DM agreeing to) such a powerful effect for the action and that the pursuit of "realism" in a fantasy game leads the OP and others to suggest disincentives to offset that effect.

It's a vicious cycle, that whole realism-in-a-fantasy-game thing. It's just blocking by any other name. Better to say, "Yes, and here's the mechanic to govern that, balanced against other mechanics of similar power."

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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As long as it doesn't present a problem to give the character what is essentially a free at-will ability, though I would be generally reluctant to have it pay off better then someone who has actualy invested an effort in it (ie those with the actual ability) what the DM should avoid is giving something that is causing the rest of the group to be saying "hold up"
What does it mean to "invest" in smashing up some mugs in a bag and throwing it in someone's face? That's a valid choice any character could make at any time.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Well it can mean anything iserith. It could mean as compared to someone who took a power like "Sand in the Eyes" It could also mean the difference between just pounding a bag with a mug in it against the wall and buying a proper pestle and mortar to grind it nice and fine. or howabout a handful of ground up cayenne pepper, or as has been suggested, filling it in an eggshell for a ranged attack. 

As for the question of validity, I don't suggest that it shouldn't be valid, what I am saying is should it be as effective, or better then, as something that others may have invested to get, such as an encounter power? which is an important consideration. Also the power sugests this is less about the material and more about the timing and method used to fling it in their eyes.

I would guage this with how the other players responded to the idea, and as we see here, its another player is the one posting on the board about it, so comparible investment and payoff is important to the players here. The DM should take all the factors in consideration to keep balance within the group.
Well it can mean anything iserith. It could mean as compared to someone who took a power like "Sand in the Eyes" It could also mean the difference between just pounding a bag with a mug in it against the wall and buying a proper pestle and mortar to grind it nice and fine. or howabout a handful of ground up cayenne pepper, or as has been suggested, filling it in an eggshell for a ranged attack.



Just trying to understand here: If I say I smash up some mugs and throw them in a bag, that's one level of investment. If I say I use a mortar and pestle, that's more investment? A dash of cayenne makes it even more investment that that? How does that translate into mechanics? Does the bag o' glass dust and chunks get less of an attack bonus than the mortar and pestle method?

As for the question of validity, I don't suggest that it shouldn't be valid, what I am saying is should it be as effective, or better then, as something that others may have invested to get, such as an encounter power? which is an important consideration. Also the power sugests this is less about the material and more about the timing and method used to fling it in their eyes.



Here I agree because this is less about simulation and more about game balance. To do this, the DM might do well to understand the difference between an action, a skill, and a power, and how they relate to each other, too. (Most players could do with understanding this better, too, so that they don't feel so locked into using only powers when they act. But that's another thread, heh.)

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Just trying to understand here: If I say I smash up some mugs and throw them in a bag, that's one level of investment. If I say I use a mortar and pestle, that's more investment? A dash of cayenne makes it even more investment that that? How does that translate into mechanics? Does the bag o' glass dust and chunks get less of an attack bonus than the mortar and pestle method?



I would think that the fine dust, or pepper or other materials would be more effective, yes, that will translate in the mechanics of what they are doing, depending on the system used. No different then how a magical sword is better then a non magical sword, which is better then a pointy stick. it also encourages their creativity because it says that they can go further on that line of thinking, there is a tendency to be soured to new ideas because of expereinces with unbalanced exploits.

It goes with my general philosophy letting the players make it happen, they just have to come up with how to do it and then rewarding the effort they put into it. 

Here I agree because this is less about simulation and more about game balance. To do this, the DM might do well to understand the difference between an action, a skill, and a power, and how they relate to each other, too. (Most players could do with understanding this better, too, so that they don't feel so locked into using only powers when they act. But that's another thread, heh.)


Part of the benifit and I think the logical conclusion of this, is asking what if someone with the power used the glass-dust? And that would be a good way for the DM to think about how to balance it.
Wonder which is the most accurate statement.
1. Throwing glass shards on combatant's face actively engaged, always blinds him.
2. Sometimes blinds him.
3. Never blinds him.
Always or never probably isn't the answer. Sometimes Probably fits.  Then just need to fit mechanics for the sometimes.  Standard action touch atK vs Ref.  Hit: blinded 1-4 rounds.  Save ends. 

4e term, basic range 1 atk vs ref. Hit: blind 1-4 rounds. Save ends. Opportunity atk plays. 
Wonder which is the most accurate statement.
1. Throwing glass shards on combatant's face actively engaged, always blinds him.
2. Sometimes blinds him.
3. Never blinds him.
Always or never probably isn't the answer. Sometimes Probably fits.  Then just need to fit mechanics for the sometimes.  Standard action touch atK vs Ref.  Hit: blinded 1-4 rounds.  Save ends.

I also wonder whether it's accurate to model the effect of glass shards in the eye as "blind," rather than some other condition, such as a penalty to attack, damage, or defenses.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy