Weekend in the Realms Pregens--some thoughts

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After playing Weekend in the Realms, I took a look at the pregenerated characters and doing so inspired some thoughts on the pregens.


First, I think there are two primary considerations with pregenerated characters. First, how will they be able to perform in the module at hand and second, how they will perform in future modules if the players decide to continue in the Living Forgotten Realms community.


As to the first question, I am not one of those people who think that every pre-gen should be hyperoptimized. That said, I do think that they should be constructed so that a player who sits down at a table with custom created characters should be just as good as they are likely to be. New players shouldn't have to think, "how do I get me Character Generator; I could make a better character than this!" In short, I would hope for pregenerated characters to be equivalent to a character who takes a standard charop stat array and the standard feats and powers for a well supported race/class combination. Powers should likewise not be selected on the basis of "if I didn't put this in a pregen, it would never see the light of play." (By contrast, I would consider characters who depend upon specific magic items or special combinations of dragon magazine style feats, diletante/versatile master abuse, and out of character equipment/power selections (like the charop forums' twin striking daggermaster critfisher avengers) to be hyperoptimized).


Continuing in this vein, characters that are simple and straightforward make better pregens than complicated ones. In machines, the more moving parts they have, the more things there are that can go wrong. For characters, the more complex they are, the more system mastery they require in order to play effectively. Since the players most likely to use pregens are those least likely to have mastered the system, simpler=better. For this reason, a rageblood barbarian or an archery focused ranger who can simply attack without worrying about conditional censures or combat advantage are better pregens than an avenger or a rogue. And likewise, an avenger with whirlwind charge (you use it, it works) is a better pregen than an avenger with avenging echoes (it works best with setup or as setup for oath/censure; if it's just used by itself, it is no better than a basic attack).


Likewise, characters should have powers that are going to be effective throughout the module. A wizard with a focus on cold magic, for example, would be a poor pregen for a module where all the monsters were cold-resistant. Doing that would be setting the player up for frustration. Likewise, but slightly less obviously, a charisma paladin would be an unfortunate pregen for a module that featured lots of flying enemies. Said paladin would not be able to keep a divine challenge on them and would not be able to attack them effectively (since his likely stat arrays and proficiencies preclude effective ranged basic attacks).


As to the second question, it is important to consider that the people most likely to play a pregen are new players. And if things go as we hope, those new players will want to continue playing LFR. Since they have experience and a magic item for their pregen, it is to be expected that any who do will want to continue to play that pregen. Consequently, it is not enough for a pregen to be adequate for the adventure at hand. The pregen also needs to be constructed as though it had a future. The player of the wizard shouldn't think "all the other wizards are using this fancy enlarge spell feat, but I don't qualify for it; why did you guys give me a sucky character?" (Fortunately, the wizard pregen is qualified to take that feat--score one in the win column for that pregen). In short, pregen characters should be constructed so that they will be able to take advantage of future feats and powers that are widely thought to be good for their class and should have a stat setup that enables them to take advantage of at least one of the more popular paragon paths--preferably one from the PHB.


As a further consideration along this line, it is important that pregenerated characters fit within the broad mechanical expectations of the designers for the class. This will preclude a number of quirky builds that are fun for experienced players. For example, a friend of mine runs an archer paladin that I am assured is quite effective. However, this would be a poor pregen since a player looking to level up their paladin would find that most of the available powers are not suited to the character's build or playstyle. Likewise, another friend runs a 10-strength warlord who is reasonably effective and will be more so as soon as he hits paragon and takes his bard paragon path that allows him to use charisma for all of his attacks. This would be a poor pregen because the build imposes a hidden consideration for power selection: the character looks to take as many powers as possible that do not require attack rolls or which have an effect that does not depend on an attack roll. A character who simply opened up the PHB and took powers that looked interesting or effective would find that the best power available is rarely the best power for his character. Any quirky character that introduces that level of additional power selection criteria is a poor choice for an introductory game day pregen.


Now, some thoughts on the specific pregenerated characters:
Eladrin Wizard: A solid stat array that is effective in the given scenario and allows players to later expand the character with staple wizard feats like enlarge spell or dual implement spellcaster.  The choice of empowered lightning is unfortunate (Acid arrow is even worse, but at least the wizard has another daily option and phantom chasm is a very solid choice) as it is one of the worst wizard powers printed (it is single target with no control aspects, and the wand of accuracy rider (which is uninspiring in general) encourages it to be used in the first round of combat which is usually the ideal time to use an area spell and furthermore complicates the optimal use of wand of accuracy by encouraging its use when it will not necessarily turn a miss into a hit).


IMO, this is the best of the pregenerated characters. The character is effective from the get-go and is set up with a stat array and power array that will serve adequately as a basis for future expansion. Only one retraining session is required to get rid of the abysmal encounter power.


Half-elf Swordmage: This is an unconventional race/class choice but the stat array chosen provides a character that is both effective in the immediate scenario and has room to grow. The selection of a shielding swordmage is also excellent since they are probably the most effective swordmage and are certainly the swordmage that requires the least system mastery. The choice (based on the attack bonuses) of weapon expertise rather than focused expertise, however is a poor one. It doesn't make the character any more interesting--it just makes the character straight up worse than a character that was constructed in a more focused way. I'm not a fan of the encounter or dilletante powers either but the selection of phantom bolt at least goes partway to addressing the swordmage's relative helplessness at range. (I would prefer scorching burst, winged horde, et al). All told, a player who took this character and decided to continue with it would have to retrain at least one item (the expertise feat) but the character is salvageable.


Dragonborn barbarian (thaneborn): Since this is widely thought to be the optimal race/class choice for a barbarian, I had to wonder what the catch was. Well, the first catch is that it's a thaneborn barbarian. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a thaneborn barbarian. However, my observation is that getting the most out of a thaneborn requires more tactical skill and system mastery than a rageblood barbarian requires in order to achieve similar results. In a pregenerated character that is most likely to be given to players who are new to the system I would much prefer to see simple characters chosen. When it comes to the powers, there is a pretty big mistake as the dragonborn's second at-will power is shown as an encounter power. That has a pretty big impact on the playability of the character especially as the first at-will power is the weaksauce version of howling strike--like howling strike but it comes with an AC penalty and can't be used on a charge. Any player who wanted to stick with the character would want to retrain that power pronto.


Dwarf fighter: Again, this is a conventional class/race choice and a solid stat array was chosen. The character looked like an ideal pregen until I came to the weapon selection. I understand that the picture shows a mace, but it's not as though there is a shortage of WotC art showing a dwarf with a hammer or an axe--and both choices are simply and straightforwardly better. While I don't think that pregens need to be optimized (and thus weapon expertise rather than dwarven weapon training is a perfectly acceptable choice), I don't think that pregens should be deliberately gimped either. The encounter power choice--shield bash--is a different issue. It is fine at level 1 but since it lacks the weapon keyword and the attack bonus is stuck at Str+2, it will very quickly run out of steam by level 4. That's two retrainings that any player who wants to stick with the dwarf will require--and more if he is suckered into taking a +1 frost mace as his treasure instead of doing the smart thing and upgrading to a warhammer, battle axe, warhammer, craghammer, or longsword immediately.


Now we come to the ones that fail.


Gnome cleric: It's hard to know where to begin here. We start out with an unconventional race/class choice, but unlike the swordmage's stat array that reflected an adaptation to the mechanical realities, the stat array for the gnome seems to be constructed to avoid taking advantage of any racial bonuses. 14 strength is not sufficient to make strength powers effective and even if it were, the cleric does not have any of them. 15 Charisma is not bad but does not really make effective use of the gnome's bonus. The gnome's armor and lack of dex interfere with his racial stealth abilities. You could probably make a playable gnomish devoted cleric but this is not it. Even switching the abilities around a little bit would improve the character. 14 Con rather than 14 strength would give it a bit of survivability. A focus on dex rather than Int would make its stealth abilities more useful. If you are inclined to defend this character, I suppose you'll spout some noise about "quirky characters" being interesting for some players and some players enjoying the challenge of making something playable, but there are two points that go against that. First, this is the only leader class pregen available which means that, in a party of pregens, someone is likely going to be stuck with this guy whether they want to play a quirky character or not. Second, what I assume to be the primary target audience for pregen characters--new or inexperienced players are the least likely to recognize that a character is quirky or that it will require extra careful play to be as effective as those constructed to be more effective.


The verdict: no amount of retraining will make this character as effective as a standard custom built character.


Halfling Avenger: This will probably be my most controversial analysis. The stats are well chosen. The powers are well chosen. And the character still fails. Why is that? Because halflings simply do not make good avengers and while the choices made would be fine for a more traditional avenger race (elf, deva, etc), they do not work for a halfling. I will expand a little bit. Avengers have two primary mechanical schitcks. First, at least ignoring the overpowered hide armor expertise rageblood barbarian, they have a reputation as the most survivable striker. Second, they derive their damage primarily by hitting their targets reliably with big weapons with powers that deal multiple large W dice.  Even with both of those, however, they tend to struggle to compete with rogues, rangers, barbarians, and sorcerers in the damage department. Like warlocks, avengers are the low end of striker damage. Now, as a halfling, the avenger starts out behind in her strength, is handicapped in her weapon choice, and is destined to be even further behind the damage curve than a tradition avenger (if there is such a thing for a class that is new with 4th edition). The halfling's defenses are limited because her lack of a primary stat bonus left Wis 18/Dex 16 as the best stat array possible, which is fine but will always be behind the Wis 18/Dex (or int) 18 compatriots. Not only that, the aggressively focused stat array also leaves no points for Con for healing surges, hit points, or the boosting of non-AC defenses. A traditional avenger will have higher defenses, more hit points, more surges, and higher non-AC defenses. Moreover, the character's offense suffers. The limited secondary stat makes for a slightly less effective censure but that doesn't come up often in actual play so it is less of an issue. The bigger issue is the weapon limitation that comes with being a halfling. Since avengers start out low on the damage curve and rely upon the size of their W for damage, having two-handed weapons prohibited is a big disadvantage. In a best-case scenario, the character could retrain and gain bastard sword proficiency and take the scrappy feat... and with a one-feat tax would be almost as good as a standard avenger who took a fullblade until 2W and 3W powers and high crit property are considered. At that point, the halfling falls behind even with the feat tax. And since the avenger primarily does damage through W powers and crits, both of those issues are a big deal--doubly so because as a bottom of the totem pole damage dealer, the avenger doesn't have much room to give up damage and still play as effectively as other strikers of the same level.


Again, the verdict: though creative and a solid effort, no amount of retraining will really be able to salvage this halfling barbarian for a player who decided to stick with it.


All of this in no way means that I think those who volunteered their time to create these pregens are stupid, suck or are otherwise bad people. I have made pregens myself and, given my current experience, I wouldn't design them all in the same way if I re-did them. It takes a lot of effort and no-one will get them all right all the time. Still, it is important to think about them and consider what we can learn for the future from each effort.

Astute observations, although in general I believe much of this will depend on the player.  Case in point, at my table we had a new player who used the Dragonborn Barbarian pregen.  Issues of how complicated it may be for a new player to play a Thaneborn weren't a factor as he had a blast running around smacking things.  I believe this was his first 4e game too.  I think a lot of your criticisms, while sensible, make more sense and are of more concern to someone more experienced with the system.  And while I agree that once said player becomes more experienced with the system they may chafe at some of the things in the pregen, retraining will help that out. 


I agree with you on the Gnome.  And you are right, the Halfling Avenger will be controversial.  You are correct from a pure CharOp perspective, however the character is still viable and assembled well as is.  Yes, Avengers fall behind the curve a bit in damage because they have no "striker damage" such as SA, Quarry, etc.  However, what they do have is, if they are playing to their mechanic properly, is an increased chance to hit as well as to crit.  And as the argument goes, hitting is often better, as is trotted out in all the arguments about +3 proficiency bonus vs. +2 but bigger weapon.  Then again, I believe a striker is perfectly capable of doing their job well without a Fullblade. 


There are probably some technical issues also.  I can't say what limitations Mr. Merwin had when making the pregens as I don't know what limitations there were, but part of me thinks that he had to work with what is in official published books.  This thought was sparked by your comment on Weapon Expertise vs. Focused Expertise.  FE is technically in a playtest phase, so it is likely he couldn't use that for a pregen.

Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf

To be honest, I think very very few people will attempt to persevere with a pregen if WitR gets them hooked. Creating your own character is part of the fun of the game.


Halfling avengers are a bit weaker than average, but with that stat array, if you take a bastard sword and/or talenta weapon talent, you're not horrendously behind the fullblade. Sure they have the weakest damage if you charop them, but I don't think strikers were charop balanced, they were 'normal play' balanced. There are plenty of rangers out there who don't use a pair of bloodclaw waraxes with a +50 static mod on twinstrike, for example, and plenty of sorcerers who've never even heard of a staff of ruin.


I actually think it's not a bad idea to have one or two aspects of a character a bit sub-par for a pregen, as long as it's a 'slightly sub-par' choice and not a choice that gimps the character. That way if someone decides to keep the character, they can pick up the PHB, take a look and say 'hmmm. That power might be better for me.' Then the DM can tell them about retraining and presto - the pregen is now more 'their' character.


 


EDIT: Thaneborns require a bit of subtlety, but only compared to ragebloods. It's like throwing a brick through a window rather than an anvil. They're still pretty straightforward to use if you just charge, charge, charge and use the thaneborn triumph features as gravy. Besides, it takes a few levels and powers to get to the clever combos where you really set yourself up.

How about you allow the members to propose pregen characters for the next WitR?  You could select, say, twelve characters, well-designed for first level play, suitable for advancement to higher level play, but not necessarily hyperoptimized.

To be honest, I think very very few people will attempt to persevere with a pregen if WitR gets them hooked. Creating your own character is part of the fun of the game.


Most LFR players have several characters. I would expect the character to stick around even if it doesn't turn out to be the player's primary character. Of course, if we deliberately gimp pregen characters, then it's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those players who do stick with LFR may well abandon their pregens because they have weaknesses that cannot be fixed except by creating a new character.


Halfling avengers are a bit weaker than average, but with that stat array, if you take a bastard sword and/or talenta weapon talent, you're not horrendously behind the fullblade. Sure they have the weakest damage if you charop them, but I don't think strikers were charop balanced, they were 'normal play' balanced. There are plenty of rangers out there who don't use a pair of bloodclaw waraxes with a +50 static mod on twinstrike, for example, and plenty of sorcerers who've never even heard of a staff of ruin.


I take your point but the problem is that the halfling avenger is weaker than average--even with the stat array chosen. Buying the 18 Wis/16 dex made up for a lot of it, but the character is still 1 point of init, 1 point of AC, 1 point of Ref, 1 point of fort, 1 healing surge, and 2 hp behind a more standard elf avenger--and always will be. Now, you are correct that with proper charop, you could make the character be only somewhat behind the standard fullblade or executioner's axe avenger, but there are still problems with that: you end up with a character that requires significant optimization in order to achieve parity with a non-standard build. That's fine as an exercise for experienced players--one of my favorite LG characters was my halfling paladin who I multiclassed heavily in order to make her hold her own in parties with more traditional characters. It let me exercise my optimization skills and was not overpowering like it would have been had I used a more optimal race. However, for new or casual players that is a recipe for frustration.


The other problem is that it's not just the rangers using two bloodclaw waraxes who are ahead of ordinary avengers--it's also the ordinary rangers using a pair of magic bastard swords with weapon focus and the rogues using an ordinary magic dagger with sly flourish. (Barbarians are a bit of a special case--they don't actually start out ahead of avengers in at-will DPR unless they have combat advantage or some other way of increasing their accuracy but their encounter powers (and later dailies) do a lot more damage--also they tend to deal lots of burst damage since a lucky crit will trigger an extra attack and a kill can also trigger a swift charge). Said halfling avenger is about 15% behind the bottom rung for at-will DPR and it will only get worse as the characters level up and start depending more upon their encounter powers. In short, by falling behind the ordinary avengers, the halfling avenger falls off the totem pole entirely.


I actually think it's not a bad idea to have one or two aspects of a character a bit sub-par for a pregen, as long as it's a 'slightly sub-par' choice and not a choice that gimps the character. That way if someone decides to keep the character, they can pick up the PHB, take a look and say 'hmmm. That power might be better for me.' Then the DM can tell them about retraining and presto - the pregen is now more 'their' character.


You see, I think that players will be making the characters their own as soon as they level up. And they may well decide to retrain for reasons of preference or playstyle. We shouldn't be putting in things that they will need to fix with retraining--if they recognize that it is a problem to begin with. Magic the Gathering reportedly operates on the philosophy that they will print bad cards in order to reward players who are skilled enough to tell the difference between effective cards and bad ones. That's fine for a competitive game. D&D is not a competitive game in the same way. We shouldn't be trying to sucker new players into bad choices with our pregens. New players are apt to make suboptimal choices on their own without any encouragement required.

In my opinion, the pregens that don't work are those which have ability bonuses that don't work for feats or other future character options. The half-elf swordmage can't take Greater Swordmage Warding without pumping Strength. Even starting at 11 would mean that he could take it at epic. The gnome cleric also has that same problem, and the other problems that you mentioned.


 


On the other hand, I don't have a problem with the halfling avenger. It's not as effective as another race, but does well for what it is. I've got enough room for sub-optimal combinations in my LFR.


I take your point but the problem is that the halfling avenger is weaker than average--even with the stat array chosen. Buying the 18 Wis/16 dex made up for a lot of it, but the character is still 1 point of init, 1 point of AC, 1 point of Ref, 1 point of fort, 1 healing surge, and 2 hp behind a more standard elf avenger--and always will be.



'Standard' elf avenger. Not everybody picks a +primary +secondary race all the time. In fact I've only done that once for the seven characters I have, and they're all plenty good enough (if I say so myself).



 Said halfling avenger is about 15% behind the bottom rung for at-will DPR and it will only get worse as the characters level up and start depending more upon their encounter powers. In short, by falling behind the ordinary avengers, the halfling avenger falls off the totem pole entirely.



Genuinely interested, and not trying to put down your experience in any way: have you actually played in games with high level strikers and seen these differences in action? I must admit I haven't, so I can't make any claims from experience.


However 'at-will DPR' is a slightly artificial construct, as no-one in a real game is plugging away with at-wills vs an on level monster static bag of HPs (with constant combat advantage to boot). Most players use their encounter powers and dailies as a source of damage, and for my high level characters if I use an at-will it's because I've run out of encounter powers & useful dailies, or I have a specific thing that only my at-will can do (righteous brand comes out pretty often). From level 7 onwards, in my (albeit limited) experience, at-wills may as well be encounter powers considering how often most characters use them.


I suspect that the discrepancy between avenger damage and other strikers is not as large as charop dogma would have us believe in real games with builds that have to be played from levels 1-30, rather than being focussed on being as powerful as possible at 30, and without the ability to cherry-pick every magic item you want. Lower damage? Probably. Made up for by durability, class features and useful riders? Perhaps.I'd have to experience it. Now, you will tell me that avenger dailies are comparatively low damage, and you're right, but I do think that not missing with your encounter powers will still be quite significant, even if you don't have the spike damage of a ranger or barbarian (when that first attack with storm of blades misses...). 3W plus good static mods that won't miss, and double the chance to crit with a vicious bastard sword or what have you is not a bad deal at level 13, IMO, even if it is no optimised Storm of Blades.


On paper character power based on charop criteria and in-play are often two very different things. If they weren't, my feylock character sheet would be gathering dust somewhere, and every party would be a battlerager, taclord, ranger, sorcerer and orbizard.


Maybe I'll roll up an avenger some day and see if I'm right. Although given the number of characters that I have I doubt I'll be able to test the 'avengers suck at epic' claim myself until some time in 2013.

First off, I say, play what's fun.


I also realize that in 4E and in LFR it is much, much easier if you have a striker at the table dishing out 30-40 damage a round. Rogues and ranged rangers are showing that to me a lot lately and while my own elf avenger (which one? I have two) doesn't dish out quite that much damage (more like half that on average), if he crits he's making up for that by usually killing something outright.


But, that's not why I play my two avengers. I play them for the fun tactical schticks that avengers have. One of them can more or less move and appear anywhere on the battlefield, via charges, shifts and teleports that there's really nowhere an enemy can hide and I tell you, damage or no, that's FUN.


So, maybe the halfling avenger isn't doing as much damage as he could if he was an elf (or shifter), or MC'd into something nice like Ranger or Barbarian or ... but someone might have a lot of fun playing him. And that's just fine.

I'm not arguing that no-one should ever play sub-optimal race/class combinations. What I am saying is that we shouldn't foist such characters on beginners as pregens. When an experienced player creates a halfling avenger or similarly suboptimal character, they may well be willing to play second (or third) fiddle to any other striker who shows up in terms of damage in return for whatever other benefits they derive from playing said striker. That's fine. Said players know what they are getting into and it was an informed decision. To give a new player who shows up to an event a character who is not only currently subpar, but will always be subpar no matter what they do to it is unfair to them. They are not choosing to play a subpar damage striker in return for other benefits or to give themselves a challenge. Odds are good that they liked the flavor of the avenger or someone already took the barbarian and they, like most players, wanted to play a character who kicks ass by dealing lots of damage. Giving such a player the halfling avenger is bait and switch.


As for at-will DPR being an innaccurate measure of avenger effectiveness, I think adding in the other considerations actually makes it more difficult for the avengers--and even more so for the halfling avenger. First, unless your DM allows teleporting enemies into the air, avengers do not have straightforwardly damaging riders on their powers except for fury's advance. This can be contrasted with (for instance) the barbarian's shatterbone strike which will result in more damage to the target from your barbarian or his allies. Now, for a retribution avenger, avenging echoes can be an incredibly damaging power but getting large amounts of damage out of it requires a good deal of finesse. On the whole, avenger encounter powers do not deal as much damage as powers like avalanche strike, bloodstrike, curtain of steel, claws of the griffon, off-hand strike, disruptive strike, torturous strike, etc. (Fury's advance, again is the notable exception as it is competitive for damage with most of the other strikers' minor action/immediate attack powers). For daily powers, avengers are again behind the other strikers (other than rogues whose dailies, for the most part, are not heavily damaging). If you cherry pick your powers carefully, you can manage 3W on all your daily powers from 1-9 but there's nothing that competes with the likes of jaws of the wolf, two wolf pounce, attacks on the run, rage strike, etc for damage. Moreover, all of these powers put the halfing at a further disadvantage relative to a standard avenger becuase the all obtain their damage through having lots of Ws--which will always be smaller for the halfling than for other avengers.


Now, to address the other contention--that the elf avenger should not be considered the standard point of comparison for a pursuit avenger because everyone will not go for a race that gives bonuses to both primary and secondary stats: 1. Everyone may not go for a race that gives bonuses to primary and secondary stats, but many people--perhaps even most--will. It is not a coincidence that the more races with ideal stat distributions are released the fewer human characters show up at RPGA events. 2. Even races with only the primary stat or with primary/tertiary stat bonuses have significant stat advantages over the halfling. For instance, a longtooth shifter pursuit avenger might go Str 13, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8. That gives him +2 hp, +1 surge, +1 Fort over the halfling and qualifies him for hide armor proficiency and fighter multiclass (enabling him to take pitfighter as a paragon path if he so chooses). Even a human is likely to end up with 13 Con in addition to his 18 wis/16 dex and thus ends up with +2 Fort, +1 Ref, +1 Will, +2 hp, +1 surge, a bonus feat (rather than a feat tax), and an extra at-will. 3. The stats are not the only significant disadvantage. Perhaps even more important, the prohibition on 2h weapons and the lack of +1 dmg for versatile weapons hurts the halfling avenger. Critting with a +2 vicious bastard sword is nice, but it's not nearly as nice as critting with the +2 vicious fullblade/executioner's axe or maybe Mordenkrad that most other avengers will be wielding. If we decide to stick with military weapons, critting with a warhammer or longsword is not nearly as nice as critting with the falchion, greatsword, greataxe or maul that most other avengers will be wielding. Losing one weapon die size and high crit is a significant disadvantage. Losing that while being stuck with a less than optimal stat array is enough of a disadvantage that the character will not fill the expectations of the striker role character of her level.


Sure, someone might still have fun playing the halfling avenger. But given that they probably didn't deliberately set out to be suboptimal, odds are good that they will have less fun than if they would have if they were playing a character equal to everyone else rather than a character who is constantly struggling to overcome the handicaps she was created with. If you think playing a halfling avenger would be fun, play one yourself--don't foist it on an unsuspecting newbie.

elder_basilisk, if I follow your complaint to its logical conclusion, I would never make a striker character for a pre-gen that wasn't a rogue or an archery ranger. I think that for the most part, none of the pre-gen characters fails in their assigned duties. But even "failure" can be and will be determined differently by everyone. At some point, you have to decide if you're going to showcase the game, or showcase the optimized version of the game. And I think WotC chose the former.


 

I disagree on your analysis of the Halfling Avenger, because I don't think you see what it is suppose to do later as it gets higher in level.


Forget damage output for a second. Think about what build it's going for. It's going for a persuit build. That means a lot of running around. That means that OA, more then likely. And against OA, the Halfling beats out the Elf, hands down. Your -1 AC becomes +1 AC without even adding feats, and when the halfling start stacking on their racials, they'll out AC a elf any day of the week.


Also, the racial for the Halfling gives them a slightly more defensive package, which is obviously the direction that you should take the halfling anyway.


For someone that wants to get around big people and to chase after a person, you could do much worse then a Halfling.  Not saying the elf is not a go-to race for an avenger, but I understand the trick and reasoning behind the halfling avenger, and I'd be more then willing one at that table. (Maybe not that exact build, mind you, but I'd run one)

IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000)

I find it funny that people think the pregens should be optimized beasts that someone will want to stick with.  I find them to be the opposite in purpose, effective enough to fill their role, get someones first round in quickly and leave them wanting to play more, AND wanting to design their own better character.  If you give a brand new character a very tightly optimized pregen what incentive to they have to read the powers of other classes and even their own and form their own ideas of how to play the character.  I view pregens as nothing more than a tool to get a game going quickly, they should be mostly discarded after the first game or two they are used in.

Blah blah blah


elder_basilisk, if I follow your complaint to its logical conclusion, I would never make a striker character for a pre-gen that wasn't a rogue or an archery ranger. I think that for the most part, none of the pre-gen characters fails in their assigned duties. But even "failure" can be and will be determined differently by everyone. At some point, you have to decide if you're going to showcase the game, or showcase the optimized version of the game. And I think WotC chose the former.



That's not the complaint's logical conclusion. The logical conclusion of the complaint is that we will never make pregen characters who are destined to always be three steps behind the most obvious builds for their classes no matter how much retraining the player does.


The other logical conclusion is that pregens not be designed as throwaway characters that will leave new players thinking, "this guy sucks, even I could do better." Rather, pregens should be designed as characters that could be effectively played long-term if the player wants to.


Show players what to do if they want to build an effective character--not what not to do. They can figure that out on their own. And they can figure out how to do quirky concept characters on their own too. Such things have a lot more attraction to jaded, experienced players than to players who have not yet tried any of the archetypes.

This is an old argument, and one I have rehearsed many times even within groups I play with.
I am constitutionally firmly on elder_basilisks side, but have over the years begun to hear the other viewpoint.

I see character generation as partly a puzzle to be solved (the stats), and partly a freeform creation(the background/personality). Part of my frustration with 3rd ed was that the puzzle aspect became so complex that unless you were highly motivated (and I was) your marvellous personality would become less and less combat effective. Many of the people I played with DIDN'T CARE. They would never, ever take weapon focus because it was "boring". They would come up with fascinating characters that they loved playing (to forestall the false dichotomy, I would argue that my characters had equally complex backstories and personalities - some people spend more time on BOTH aspects, it's not always one or the other)

Fortunately/unfortunately D&D isn't just improvised theatre, it is also a game. There are dice to be rolled. As the levels increased, the gap between my characters and other characters got larger. As a DM I had real trouble coming up with combats that would challenge the party when the "optimized" players were there without killing everyone when they weren't.

That was one of the reasons I love 4th ed. It is pretty darn easy to come up with a solid character. The "effectiveness curve" now shows significantly less standard deviation. The twinked characters are just as much fun to design, but don't dominate as they did before (obviously there are megatwinked characters, but we're not discussing that). Even the personality dominant characters still get to do cool things in combat EVERY session.

Wow, getting a bit off track there. Anyway, long story short, I agree w/the OP. Pregens should be working with the system, not against it. If you want a halfling avenger (and I would welcome you to my table if you did) you design it. Effectively you are asking people who know nothing about D&D to pick characters of varying ability (not huge at 1st, but if they love the character and want to continue it becomes significant) with no background knowledge.

It's actually more of a problem at low levels in 4th ed, I think, though 3rd ed by 5th or 6th starts to escalate differences. I suspect it comes down to options and choices, either they matter or they don't, and if they matter and we are making those choices for other people I reckon we should make sure they're basically solid.

OTOH - elder_basilisk - many players have genuinely no idea what we are talking about. They are genuinely "effectiveness-blind". They don't get maths, or don't want to spoil their roleplaying by looking at it. They aren't "wrong". Sometimes they will complain that they aren't having as much fun in combat as more effective characters, and then you can make suggestions (that they will STILL ignore). This becomes the DM's problem, and a good DM can ensure everyone has a good time. We may see it as an annoying roadbump that can be fixed, other people just don't mind.


a longtooth shifter pursuit avenger ... gives him +2 hp, +1 surge, +1 Fort over the halfling and qualifies him for hide armor proficiency and fighter multiclass (enabling him to take pitfighter as a paragon path if he so chooses) ... The stats are not the only significant disadvantage.



I think this is a perfect summary of your argument. You believe a -2 hp, and -1 to a couple defenses and -1 to your [W] is a significant disadvantage. Those that argue against you don't.

In addition, I think you discount the fun of being able to run right through large enemies squares (without provoking in Paragon). Not qualifying for one feat allows him to take others (e.g. Lost in the Crowd instead of Hide Proficiency, Shadow Initiate instead of fighter multiclass). The only real shame about halflings is that the Talenta Weapon Training feat requires the Talenta background benefit, which is unavailable in LFR. Talenta Weapons were a great addition for Halflings because they allow them to be respectable two-handed weapon users. That it's unavailable for Halflings but Xen'drik Weapon Training is available for drow is a real slap in the face.

Just because the snoozer, everyone-whose-read-the-charops-board-has-it options aren't available to a Halfling Avenger does not make them a bad choice.
a longtooth shifter pursuit avenger ... gives him +2 hp, +1 surge, +1 Fort over the halfling and qualifies him for hide armor proficiency and fighter multiclass (enabling him to take pitfighter as a paragon path if he so chooses) ... The stats are not the only significant disadvantage.



I think this is a perfect summary of your argument. You believe a -2 hp, and -1 to a couple defenses and -1 to your [W] is a significant disadvantage. Those that argue against you don't.

In addition, I think you discount the fun of being able to run right through large enemies squares (without provoking in Paragon). Not qualifying for one feat allows him to take others (e.g. Lost in the Crowd instead of Hide Proficiency, Shadow Initiate instead of fighter multiclass). The only real shame about halflings is that the Talenta Weapon Training feat requires the Talenta background benefit, which is unavailable in LFR. Talenta Weapons were a great addition for Halflings because they allow them to be respectable two-handed weapon users. That it's unavailable for Halflings but Xen'drik Weapon Training is available for drow is a real slap in the face.

Just because the snoozer, everyone-whose-read-the-charops-board-has-it options aren't available to a Halfling Avenger does not make them a bad choice.



No, what makes them a bad choice is that they are consistently behind the standard character that you would create if you were working with the system rather than against it in the most noticeable areas of the character (damage, AC, NADs, hit points, surges, riders) and always will be regardless of how much the player retrains. Furthermore, the character class--with the snoozer options--is generally considered to be a marginal performer in its core role which means that a subpar version will be even more noticeably reduced effectiveness. Now, that is fine for experienced players who have already tried or are not interested in the so-called snoozer options but is not something we should be trying to foist on new players who are familiar with neither LFR nor 4e D&D--you know, the players who are the primary markets for pregens. To the kind of player who is going to pick up a pregen to actually play, there is nothing boring or familiar about the so-called snoozer options. In fact, there is a decided advantage to the conventional options in that more of their observations of what other people are playing will be directly applicable to their character. If they see a power or feat in use and think, "that's cool,"  it will probably be cool for them too. Finally, the very conventionality of the character is an argument for its being a model for pregens. By definition, conventional characters are the ones that the most people play. Arguing for pregens to be unconventional in a deliberately suboptimal way is arguing that we should be trying to sucker new players into playing characters that most players are not interested in playing. After all, if most players were interested in playing them, they wouldn't be unconventional. The target market for pregens is not the jaded gamer or the indie gamer who looks down on D&D as too boring, too corporate, or lacking room for role-playing. Why, then, are we writing our pregens as though they were our target audience?

Now, we've addressed some general perceptions and "you think/they think" items. Let's look at some numbers to get some objective facts.

A quick note about my sample characters on this totem pole: None of them are especially optimized. There are no 20/16 or even 18/18 builds in evidence. Instead, their stats are what you get if you take the default stat array and apply it to any race with bonuses to both primary and secondary stats.

And for reference, a striker damage totem pole vs AC 15/ 13 NAD:
18 dex ranger with twin strike with a greatbow: 2 (.55*6.5+.05*12) + .7*3.5+.0975*6= 15.56 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with piercing strike, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .75*18.5+.05*27=15.225
18 Str barbarian with howling strike and a Mordenkrad: .55*16.5+.05*22+.05*.55*12+.05*.05*16=10.545 DPR
18 Wis avenger with overwhelming strike and a fullblade: .78*10.5+ .0975*22.5=10.38375 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with bond of pursuit and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*10.5+.0975*15= 9.25875 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with eldritch blast (Ref 13): .55*(5.5+3.5+4) + .05 *20= 8.15 DPR

Now, that itself doesn't look so bad (except for the warlock--and conventional warlocks are pretty much failures as strikers unless they figure out a way to reliably trigger the secondary damage on hellish rebuke or dire radiance--there are more than a few other warlock builds that players in general regard as successful strikers but they generally rely upon eldritch strike, basic attacks, or other manuevers that are working around the apparent intention of the warlock mechanics rather than working with them to create a dark magician who blasts things with magic).

This snapshot of the totem pole clearly shows why warlocks are often considered failures as damage-dealing strikers. The halfling avenger comes in next to the bottom, however at a disadvantage of about 11% vis a vis a normal avenger and almost 10% vis a vis the next loser on the list.


18 Str/16 Wis barbarian with Avalanche Strike and a Mordenkrad: .55*31+.05*43+.05*.55*12+.05*.05*16=19.57 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with torturous strike, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .65*25+.05*34=17.95
18 dex/16 Wis ranger with two fanged strike with a greatbow: 2 (.55*10.5+.05*16) + .7*3.5+.0975*6 +.36*3= 17.265 DPR
18 Wis avenger with Angelic Alacrity and a fullblade: .78*17+ .0975*32.5=16.42875 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with Angelic Alacrity and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25=14.3175
18 Charisma warlock with Dreadful Word (Ref 13): .55*(16.5) + .05 *26= 10.375 DPR

Again, the conventional warlock stands out as a complete failure as a damage dealer but you will note that the halfling avenger is falling further behind the regular avenger as well. Also, the barbarian who was below the cookie cutter avenger has now moved to the top of the list. (Barbarians have access to more damaging encounter powers than most classes do).

Once again, the halfling is second to last, and has now fallen about 13% behind the regular avenger who occupies the second slot on the list.

If we move on to daily powers:
18 Wis avenger with Aspect of Might and a fullblade: .78*23.5+ .0975*46.5 +.1225*.5*23.5=24.303125 DPR
18 Str/16 Wis barbarian with Swift Panther Rage and a Mordenkrad: .55*28+.05*40+.4*.5*28+.05*.55*12+.05*.05*16=23.37 DPR
18 dex/16 Wis ranger with Hunt's End with a greatbow: .5*26+.1*46+.4*.5*23.5= 22.3 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with Aspect of Might and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*21.5+.0975*35+.16*.5*20.5=21.09625 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with Pommel Smash, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .65*23.5+.05*32+.3*.5*11.5=18.6 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with her printed 2W daily and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25+.16*.5*16=15.5975 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with Curse of the Dark Dream (Ref 13): .55*(21) + .05 *34= 13.25 DPR

On this one, I cheated to give the halfling avenger as much oomph as she could be retrained to have. There's nothing wrong with the daily she was given but it provides a somewhat misleading placement in the daily version of the DPR totem pole. So I ran the numbers for both a 2W power and aspect of might (the obvious choice for avengers who want to do damage). Once again, the halfling avenger is behind the standard avenger--this time by nearly 17%. She does pull noticeably ahead of the brutal scoundrel (if she switches to aspect of might), but that is to be expected: dagger rogues don't get a lot of damage from daily powers and thus generally choose dailies for something other than damage. Also, once again, the warlock is shown to be a complete failure when it comes to dealing damage (though the daily offers significant control).

To me, the interesting thing about the DPR totem pole is how the various strikers other than the warlock move around and trade places. (Though I suppose my leaving out the TWF ranger may be partly responsible for that since minor action attacks give the TWF ranger a much higher encounter damage threshold if you assume he doesn't need to move and Jaws of the Wolf is a higher damage daily than any of the others I statted up). The default ranger has the most at-will DPR, the default barbarian, the most encounter damage, and the daily damage king is actually the default avenger. In short, even if damage were all one cared about when creating pregen characters, there would be good reasons to have characters other than just greatbow rangers (as was previously suggested on this thread). The halfling avenger, however, is consistently in the bottom half and only manages to beat out the loser-warlock and a rogue who is completely unsuited for a damage focused daily (give said rogue a rapier, doublesword, or, with the new "sneak attack with heavy blades" feat, a longsword or bastard sword and things will look different because he actually has a reason to take a 3W daily other than to give the striker's DPR totem pole a fair comparison point).

Another interesting thing is how it defies the received wisdom of the charop board, and at least my small corner of the LFR community which would have us believe that avengers are low damage "strikers" like warlocks. Instead,  these numbers (which are derived from the DMG monster defense guidelines and conventional damage focused powers) put conventional avengers in the middle of the pack for at-will damage, on the low end for encounter damage (but, percentagewise, closer to the top than they were for at-will damage), and close to (see previous note about TWF rangers) the top of the pile for daily damage. Now I do think there are a few explanations for the perception. A. non-avengers get more advantage from attack buffs (including combat advantage) than avengers do. B. The various at-will re-roll cards skew the RPGA experience by making non-avenger at-wills significantly more accurate in actual play than these numbers would indicate. C. Barbarians who seem to be (slightly) below avengers in at-will DPR have an extra encounter power (usually swift charge) that gives them clear ownership of their damage while avengers' class based encounter power (divine guidance) leaves an ally with ownership of the damage generated D. High damage numbers are psychologically advantageous even if a relatively lower accuracy yields similar DPR. E. There are actual tactical advantages to high damage numbers too. A barbarian, for instance, is more likely to kill an enemy in one or two attacks than an avenger is. Good luck can enable a high variance striker like said barbarian to wreck an entire encounter almost singlehandedly. Similar luck for an avenger generates results that are a lot closer to the average. So, that's my theory on why conventional avengers have a reputation for low damage despite their better than expected placement on the striker damage totem poles.

The upshot is that while the halfling avenger is not unplayable, there is a significant difference between its offensive potential and that of either a conventional avenger or any other conventional striker (other than a conventional warlock) and we shouldn't be setting new players up with characters that will always be behind their more conventional peers in most easily perceptible fields. That's just setting them up for dissapointment.

To clarify once again, it is not my goal to convince the powers that be to go to the charop boards every time they want pregens. Rather, it is to ensure that we create pregens that throw down comparable numbers to the conventional characters used by most LFR players and which are able to be developed in the standard directions. In short, I would like to see more pregens like the wizard and the swordmage and fewer like the gnome cleric or halfling avenger.

EDIT: Revised the numbers to fix the errors noted by Sithobi and to include Rampage in the Barbarian's stats. This has the following effect on the analysis:
The barbarian's at-will DPR edges out the avenger's at-will DPR once Rampage is included. This takes the barbarian from the second to last conventional striker to the middle in terms of rank, but the conventional avenger is still within a hair's breadth of his numbers.
The warlock is still a loser but is no longer putting out half the damage of any other conventional striker on the at-will and encounter powers now that his stat modifier is added in. That said, last place in all categories behind a halfling avenger is still bad. Very bad.
General agreement with your post, just a few nitpicks:
And for reference, a striker damage totem pole vs AC 15/ 13 NAD:
18 dex ranger with twin strike with a greatbow: 2 (.55*6.5+.05*12) + .7*3.5+.0975*6= 15.56 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with piercing strike, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .75*18.5+.05*27=15.225
18 Wis avenger with overwhelming strike and a fullblade: .78*10.5+ .0975*22.5=10.38375 DPR
18 Str barbarian with howling strike and a Mordenkrad: .55*16.5+.05*22=10.175 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with bond of pursuit and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*10.5+.0975*15= 9.25875 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with eldritch blast (Ref 13): .55*(5.5+3.5) + .05 *16= 5.75 DPR

All of the attack numbers are off by 5%. Hitting on a 9(most of these) means you hit 60% of the time. One reason the Warlock showed terribly is because you forgot the stat mods. It should be more like(assuming an AC/NAD 1 higher for purposes of an even comparison, perhaps taking into account the higher level monsters generally prevalent in LFR) .55*(5.5+3.5+4) +.05*20=8.15, still the lowest...but not quite so bad.
18 Str/16 Wis barbarian with Avalanche Strike and a Mordenkrad: .55*31+.05*43=19.2 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with torturous strike, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .65*25+.05*34=17.95
18 dex/16 Wis ranger with two fanged strike with a greatbow: 2 (.55*10.5+.05*16) + .7*3.5+.0975*6 +.36*3= 17.265 DPR
18 Wis avenger with Angelic Alacrity and a fullblade: .78*17+ .0975*32.5=16.42875 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with Angelic Alacrity and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25=14.3175
18 Charisma warlock with Dreadful Word (Ref 13): .55*(12.5) + .05 *22= 7.975 DPR

Once again, numbers off by 1, and no stat mod added in...but a terrible 10.375 damage, barely higher than its at-will.

If we move on to daily powers:
18 Wis avenger with Aspect of Might and a fullblade: .78*23.5+ .0975*46.5 +.1225*.5*23.5=24.303125 DPR
18 Str/16 Wis barbarian with Swift Panther Rage and a Mordenkrad: .55*28+.05*40+.4*.5*28=23 DPR
18 dex/16 Wis ranger with Hunt's End with a greatbow: .5*26+.1*46+.4*.5*23.5= 22.3 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with Aspect of Might and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*21.5+.0975*35+.16*.5*20.5=21.09625 DPR
18 dex/16 str brutal scoundrel with Pommel Smash, backstabber, and a dagger (combat advantage is not figured into attack figures but sneak attack is in damage): .65*23.5+.05*32+.3*.5*11.5=18.6 DPR
The 18 Wis halfling avenger with her printed 2W daily and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25+.16*.5*16=15.5975 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with Curse of the Dark Dream (Ref 13): .55*(21) + .05 *34= 13.25 DPR

The damage on the Warlock is correct here...and horrid.

With regard to the view of the Avenger: I have found that many tables I have played at do view Avengers as capable strikers, though there are relatively few of them compared to the huge number of rangers and barbarians.
Urg. Stupid board ate my post.

I note, EB, that as well as forgetting warlock's stat mod to damage, you also haven't given him a damage boosting feat. There aren't many, but a few do exist (empowering shadows, reckless curse, hellfire blood for the conlock, as well as the fairly weak off-stat elemental damage feats).

I am yet to be convinced about the 'avenger damage sucks at high levels' theory. I haven't seen an avenger at high levels, but then nor have I seen the maths. A quick flick through the compendium suggests that barbarians get slightly better Ws than avengers through paragon, but the avenger can take a 3W power at every paragon level, and the barb 4W powers are very blah when it comes to secondary effects. The avenger also gets more accuracy and more crit opportunities.

The main reason for this perception is I think the charop fixation with multiattacks, and two notorious barbarian encounter powers. Take those out of the equation, and my hunch is that the avenger, rogue and barbarian are all pretty similar in terms of damage output, with the ranger ahead and the poor old warlock bringing up the rear (although making up for it, depending on your PoV, with the best status effects - but that's another debate). The sorc is a slightly special case, since they do good multitarget damage, but their single target is probably a bit behind the other guys.

For comparison: Wild sorcerer with 18Cha/16Dex & weapon focus: Chaos bolt at will 0.55*(5.5+8) + (0.05 * 18) = 8.325
Cha warlock with 18 Cha and reckless curse vs cursed target: Eldritch blast at will 0.60*(5.5+3.5+4) + (0.05 * 20) = 8.80

The same wild sorcerer: Encounter Thunder Slam: 0.55*(11+8) + (0.05 * 28) = 11.85
Daily: Blinding bolt: 0.55*(21+8) + 0.05(36+8) = 18.15

So the sorc comes out pretty weak in single target damage (and those are the most damaging powers I could find at level 1).

I will also note that it takes some degree of system mastery to really make twin strike pull a long way ahead of other strikers. Everyone on charop seems to assume a +50 static mod or something silly on twin strike. Now I'm sure it can be done (unsure how), but I think +15-20 is going to be more common amongst players without SM.


To clarify once again, it is not my goal to convince the powers that be to go to the charop boards every time they want pregens. Rather, it is to ensure that we create pregens that throw down comparable numbers to the conventional characters used by most LFR players and which are able to be developed in the standard directions. In short, I would like to see more pregens like the wizard and the swordmage and fewer like the gnome cleric or halfling avenger.



Fair enough. I will concede this point. I have enjoyed the journey, though.
No, what makes them a bad choice is that they are consistently behind the standard character that you would create if you were working with the system rather than against it in the most noticeable areas of the character (damage, AC, NADs, hit points, surges, riders) and always will be regardless of how much the player retrains.



A. No B. No A. No B. ...

That is more or less what this argument boils down to. You believe that being behind the curve (by however many points in something) is bad. Others don't. I don't think there's any convincing to be done here.

No, what makes them a bad choice is that they are consistently behind the standard character that you would create if you were working with the system rather than against it in the most noticeable areas of the character (damage, AC, NADs, hit points, surges, riders) and always will be regardless of how much the player retrains.



A. No B. No A. No B. ...

That is more or less what this argument boils down to. You believe that being behind the curve (by however many points in something) is bad. Others don't. I don't think there's any convincing to be done here.




I will add that those who think the halfling avenger or gnome cleric are appropriate pregens not only think that being behind the curve is fine for them. They are also willing to make that decision for any new player who happens to pick up the pregen and play him for a few games. The new player will most likely lack the system mastery needed to recognize why, for instance, the wizard is a mainstream character and the avenger is always going to be behind the curve and thus will not be making an informed decision on the matter. If you want to play characters that are behind the curve, that's fine--maybe you can make up for it other ways, maybe you enjoy the challenge. But if someone is coming to us to create their character--which is essentially what happens when they take a pregen--we are betraying their trust if we give them something that will always be subpar.

This is much more problematic for Weekend in the Realms than for a delve or the D&D Open. In a delve, the point is to win and identifying which pregen characters are more effective can be considered part of the challenge. In the D&D Open, everyone is working with the same characters, so being stuck with a subpar character (such as the unforgivably bad tiefling warlord from two years ago) may be frustrating but can equally be considered a part of the challenge. In either event, the damage is limited because the player will most likely not use that character again after the delve or open is finished. For Weekend in the Realms, on the other hand, a significant portion (perhaps most) of the players will not be using pregens and we are giving the characters rewards that can only be used if the player sticks with the character for future LFR games.
Some useful corrections.



Thanks. I will revise the totem pole to reflect the warlock stat boost. I guess that's a peril of late night posting. WRT the hit percentage, they are off by 5% because crit damage is figured separately. To get accurate numbers for most of the characters, a 60% chance to hit needs to be expressed as a 55% chance to get a normal hit and a 5% chance to crit. And crits need to be included in the figures in order to properly weigh an avengers damage which includes a dramatically increased crit chance. It also looks like I did not include rampage in the barbarian's figures.

Revisions to follow shortly in an edit.

One other note here: I still will not revise the warlock to get a damage enhancing feat for the totem pole because it is a conventional striker totem pole. As you noted, most of the damage increasing feats are bad and reckless curse is a human only feat from arcane power that I (arbitrarily) don't think is obvious enough to be conventional on a warlock. Still, if I run the numbers with reckless curse:

The 18 Wis halfling avenger with bond of pursuit and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*10.5+.0975*15= 9.25875 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with reckless curse using eldritch blast (Ref 13): .6*(5.5+3.5+4) + .05 *20= 8.8 DPR


The 18 Wis halfling avenger with Angelic Alacrity and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25=14.3175
18 Charisma warlock with reckless curse using Dreadful Word (Ref 13): .6*(16.5) + .05 *26= 11.2 DPR


The 18 Wis halfling avenger with her printed 2W daily and a warhammer & weapon focus: .7425*16+.0975*25+.16*.5*16=15.5975 DPR
18 Charisma warlock with reckless curse using Curse of the Dark Dream (Ref 13): .6*(21) + .05 *34= 14.3 DPR

As you can see, the warlock's damage does improve with reckless curse but is still markedly behind even the halfling avenger.

I will add that those who think the halfling avenger or gnome cleric are appropriate pregens not only think that being behind the curve is fine for them.



Those that are deciding pregens are always, if used to continue in the campaign, going to be making -some- decision for that player, that might be good or bad, that might not agree with the player's own thoughts on how to play the campaign or their characters. That's the nature of the pre-gen.

At the end of the day,  pre-gens may have a myriad problems, of which being "optimal" or "more optimal" or "less optimal" is merely (and I do really mean merely) one of them. Charop is not the be all and end all of play, no matter how many times you repeat yourself.

I'll be signing off on this topic, I really do not have anything more to say on this. I salute those making any pre-gens for their desire to show off the game in -all- its various glories.
OK new rule, the only pregens allowed are arcane feychargers, half elf avengers with twin strike at will, and anything else charop comes up with that breaks the game, sure they suck at level 1 but we have to consider what may happen if someone wants to play those characters again and again.  Think of the children and all that nonsense.

OR, we just accept pregens for what they are, something quickly thrown together that may be fun to play or god forbid, roleplay for one session or two and then you make your own real character. 
Blah blah blah
OK new rule, the only pregens allowed are arcane feychargers, half elf avengers with twin strike at will, and anything else charop comes up with that breaks the game, sure they suck at level 1 but we have to consider what may happen if someone wants to play those characters again and again.  Think of the children and all that nonsense.

OR, we just accept pregens for what they are, something quickly thrown together that may be fun to play or god forbid, roleplay for one session or two and then you make your own real character. 



Does it occur to you that there is a potential middle ground between having a gamebreaking character and having a gimped character? By pretending that those are the only two options, you do yourself and whoever picks up the pregens a disservice.

Neither the wizard nor the swordmage presented are broken monstrousities from the charop board (nor do they suck at level 1). However, they are both within the mainstream of character power for their role. Whether you want to "throw them together quickly" or put 5 minutes of thought into them, it is not difficult to create pregenerated characters that are consistently within that mainstream.

And to address the last insinuation, I like to think that I'm a good enough roleplayer that I can still role-play well, even if my character doesn't suck. Your milage may vary, of course, but I'm pretty confident that new players will share my ability to do that. Your role-playing is safe and no-one is coming to pry it out of your cold dead hands.
OK new rule, the only pregens allowed are arcane feychargers, half elf avengers with twin strike at will, and anything else charop comes up with that breaks the game, sure they suck at level 1 but we have to consider what may happen if someone wants to play those characters again and again.  Think of the children and all that nonsense.

OR, we just accept pregens for what they are, something quickly thrown together that may be fun to play or god forbid, roleplay for one session or two and then you make your own real character. 



Does it occur to you that there is a potential middle ground between having a gamebreaking character and having a gimped character? By pretending that those are the only two options, you do yourself and whoever picks up the pregens a disservice.

Neither the wizard nor the swordmage presented are broken monstrousities from the charop board (nor do they suck at level 1). However, they are both within the mainstream of character power for their role. Whether you want to "throw them together quickly" or put 5 minutes of thought into them, it is not difficult to create pregenerated characters that are consistently within that mainstream.

And to address the last insinuation, I like to think that I'm a good enough roleplayer that I can still role-play well, even if my character doesn't suck. Your milage may vary, of course, but I'm pretty confident that new players will share my ability to do that. Your role-playing is safe and no-one is coming to pry it out of your cold dead hands.



I had a long post but screw it, the pregens were fine, perceived power levels compared to mainstream is a charop nonsense attitude, if you didn't like them, make up 20-30 level 1's and email them to every wotc email you can find offering them as characters they can use for pregens from the "community", at least then you can say you tried to help instead of just b****ed about it on the forums.
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[VCL HAT On]

Ok, reign it in there.  Let's not get nasty.  Let's discuss the issues at hand and not make things personal.

[/VCL Hat Off]
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
I apologize for going too far there.

From my experience the pregens were fine, and better than a lot of first efforts made by players brand new to the system.  I see nothing wrong with letting them play with characters that were designed to be useable but not super powerful then having them take a stab at making their own character, wanting everything to be optimized is not the only way to go about playing D&D. The character builder demo is free and covers levels 1-3 just fine.

My suggestion still stands though, make 20-30 first level characters of what you consider median power level and send them off to wotc or the global admins as an offering of pregens to save them time when they are writing, that way they can use it if they want.  You may even get your name in the credits for an event if they are used!

EB I really do value your opinion in most matters, I just think you are misguided in expecting pregens to live up to a standard when they are really there to just help get play started without an hour of making characters, that part should be something the player looks forward to doing themselves later.

At least that's my opinion.
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Tirianmal - what Elder_Basilisk is advocating is NOT min/maxed CharOp monstrosities, but the true "middle of the road" type characters, the kind that a casual gamer, who is not going heavy for RP of a fringe character, would have built if they had had the time:

One whose race and class are compatible.

Ixibat - Having a freak character does not enhance RP, in MY mind, all it does is LIMIT you to RP. Non-effective PCs are going to suck, in general, and will wind up getting into negative feedback loops.

All EB wants, and I tend to agree with, is providing a pre-gen that is nominal, not sub-par or uber-optomized.

Gnome/Halfling Barbarian, not good, and requires a lot more systems knowledge to keep out of the badlands than a Minotaur Barbarian would.

And, again, that brings us back to the basic, underlying philosophy of the pre-gen character: Providing something usable for someone who didn't have time to roll their own. For a one-shot, anything halfway decent will do. But, for a pregen given for a Living campaign, you need to provide something in the decent and easy to use area. Remember that the petrson most likely to use a pre-gen at an event like Weekend in the Realms is someone who you want to come back again. Therefore, you want to provide them a character that they will want to play again, for more than just 420 XP, 90 GP, and a non-token-using 3rd level item.

If'n I had had the option, and the equipment, I would have broken out the laptop and portable printer, even with the free version of the Character Builder, and had each player without a PC already build themselves one, with or without an experienced player's advice...
I should probably add that I think the glossy heavy paper pregen format is quite attractive and I liked using it when we had the D&D game day, but it would also be helpful to add a footnote with a list of the character's feats and other hidden features for LFR pregens. If a player is going to level up his pregen in two more games, he shouldn't have to guess what feats he was given.

As for the challenge to make pregens of my own, I have contributed pregens in the past (the pregens on the East Rift yahoo group are my contribution from back near the start of LFR). I'd be happy to do a dozen or so more. But I'm not going to make them up and email them into a black hole. I have enough of that with my resume.
But I'm not going to make them up and email them into a black hole. I have enough of that with my resume.



Oi... I heard that...
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf

I just ask people to put effort in making the pregens not suck really thats it don't give me a Barbarian with Powerful Charge and then not give him Howling Strike also don't try to make classes and races mesh that clearly don't like a Warforged Bard or anything else that logic dictates won't work.