At-Will Versions of Novice Powers

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OK, we all know getting stuck with 2 encounter powers sucks, doubly so when they're Wis/Cha based.

So here's my at-will take on the novice encounters.

EMPATH: Vitality Transfer
Leave it as is, make it an At-Will. Weakened is a grat condition, but the power does no damage otherwise. Temp HP is nice, but they don't stack. It's weaker than an Ardent energizing strike, for instance.

GIANT: Brickbat
Change: "One creature" instead of close burst.
Change: Hit - 1[W] + Strength modifier + your level physical damage. All other adjacent enemies suffer damage equal to your Strength modifier.
Based on Cleave, replaces the burst with small but consistent damage to emulate the effect.
Removed knock prone, and added level to damage to balance.

HAWKOID: Terrifying Shriek
Change: Close burst 2 INTO Close Blast 5
Compare this to Telekinetic. It's now pretty much the same.

HYPERCOGNITIVE: Uncanny Strike
Change: grants combat advantage TO YOU.
Potent, but not encounter potent

PLANT: Lashing Creepers
Change: Close Blast 5, all creatures
Compared to the push and slide of Hawkoid and Telekinetic, slowed is weak.

RAT SWARM: Swarm!
Change: Immobilized until the beginning of your next turn.

SEISMIC: Seismic Stomp
Change: Strength modifier damage (fixed - no dice, no level)

SPEEDSTER: Quick Attack
Change: Both occurances of Shift 2 INTO "Move 2, or Shift 1"

YETI: Yeti Claws
Change: Standard action, 2d6 damage.

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Feedback?
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
For Giant, instead of knock prone, I'd set it to push a number of squares equal to your strength mod.

Hypercognitive is tricky. I look at the Rogue Tricks from Essentials and though they're move-based, they have some sort of string attached such as within 5 squares or adjacent to an ally. If the power required you to be first in initiative order then I'd call it an At-Will. I might even make it a triggered ability (I knew you were going to be there) available once per turn.

Seismic Stomp is already an At-Will, it does not need to be addressed.

Speedster's Quick Attack should be fine if you reduce the shift after the attack to 1 space instead of 2. So you shift 2 before, attack, shift 1 afterwards. Fits better that way as an At-Will. Most likely the player will move the speedster do this attack, then move away. 1 Square is nice, but not overkill.

Yeti could also be changed to a reaction instead of a minor. That would jive better with the "getting too close to the claws" deal. So if someone attacks (whether they hit or miss) the Yeti gets an immediate AO on the enemy. All effects should remain the same.
If Seismic Stomp is an at-will, why the hell would the nearly identical Brickbat be an encounter? Especially since it doesn't add level to damage...

Reactions are a bad idea. The idea is to ensure that everyone has two at will attacks to choose from (We had an Empath Hawkoid who rolled 9 or less for everything, leaving him rolling at +0 for basic attacks. Random, but not fun)
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
This has been an area of concern for me, too.  So far, I've run a playtest and Game Day.  In the playtest I ruled that all the novice powers were at-will.  The game included a Giant, Seismic, Plant, Hypercognitive and Hawkoid.  No problems with any of them being overpowered.   Game Day, I didn't make a house rule, but I also didn't correct players who assumed that their green powers were at-will.  That included another Hawkoid and an Empath - again, no problems.  The Yeti player, OTOH, noticed the minor-action/encounter power and liked it.   

GIANT: Brickbat
Change: "One creature" instead of close burst.
Change: Hit - 1[W] + Strength modifier + your level physical damage. All other adjacent enemies suffer damage equal to your Strength modifier.
Based on Cleave, replaces the burst with small but consistent damage to emulate the effect.
Removed knock prone, and added level to damage to balance.

I think once you've dropped the /selective/ close burst 1, you're pretty safe.  Keeping the knocked prone is fine.  Changing it into a push would be fine.  Making it melee 2 might also be a possibility.  I hadn't thought of the cleave-like effect, though, I like it.

HAWKOID: Terrifying Shriek
Change: Close burst 2 INTO Close Blast 5
Compare this to Telekinetic. It's now pretty much the same.

burst 2 and blast 5 are the same size, the only difference is that, in a burst, you take up one of the 25 squares.  If anything, blasts are easier to avoid hitting your party with.  If the TK power is OK, this one's OK. 

But, it really makes a lot of sense for a Terrifying Shriek to be a 1/encounter thing.  It's just not as terrifying the second time around.  It also doesn't make the world's greatest amount of sense as a /novice/ power.   


RAT SWARM: Swarm!
Change: Immobilized until the beginning of your next turn.

What about making it more swarmy by allowing the character to occupy the target's square, and requiring him to do so to maintain the immobilized condition?

SEISMIC: Seismic Stomp
Change: Strength modifier damage (fixed - no dice, no level)

This one didn't seem terribly out of line when I saw it in action. 

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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GIANT: Brickbat
Change: "One creature" instead of close burst.
Change: Hit - 1[W] + Strength modifier + your level physical damage. All other adjacent enemies suffer damage equal to your Strength modifier.
Based on Cleave, replaces the burst with small but consistent damage to emulate the effect.
Removed knock prone, and added level to damage to balance.

I think once you've dropped the /selective/ close burst 1, you're pretty safe.  Keeping the knocked prone is fine.  Changing it into a push would be fine.  Making it melee 2 might also be a possibility.  I hadn't thought of the cleave-like effect, though, I like it.


Originally I was going to go "1 or 2 creatures" with full damage and prone, which is still potent. Then the cleave idea hit me. It emulates the burst, but without the overwhelming power.
Leery on the prone part. Seismic can prone at-will, but it's non-selective, and only does 1d6. Brickbat is weapon, which is 2d8 for a heavy 2 hand. Seismic gets level to damage, Brickbat (default) does not. Averages 17.5 for seismic at 10, 13 for brickbat (since Str never increases).
Except with salvaged Omega, you can get 2d12+4 (17, Disruptor Pike, Lv 4) or 3d8+4 (17.5, Force Axe, Lv 6).
So if it is going to be a burst, it has to be level damage OR prone. Not both. Or fixed damage.
I would be OK with it proning the target, with level damage, and still cleaving.

HAWKOID: Terrifying Shriek
Change: Close burst 2 INTO Close Blast 5
Compare this to Telekinetic. It's now pretty much the same.

burst 2 and blast 5 are the same size, the only difference is that, in a burst, you take up one of the 25 squares.  If anything, blasts are easier to avoid hitting your party with.  If the TK power is OK, this one's OK. 

But, it really makes a lot of sense for a Terrifying Shriek to be a 1/encounter thing.  It's just not as terrifying the second time around.  It also doesn't make the world's greatest amount of sense as a /novice/ power.


This is a game where a portable stereo is a 3d8 sonic attack.
I see the shriek as being more of a sonic blast/ear-bleeder attack than a scare tactic.
After all, you can slide the victims as is. Including CLOSER. Which is illogical for a fear effect.
Curiously enough, it's a psychic attack, and psychic damage. This can easily justify multiple uses if it's an actual psychic effect.

For a bird power, I would have much preferred a flyby attack for a novice at will. However, I'm trying to keep the same powers, rather than replace them wholesale.


RAT SWARM: Swarm!
Change: Immobilized until the beginning of your next turn.

What about making it more swarmy by allowing the character to occupy the target's square, and requiring him to do so to maintain the immobilized condition?


Good call, but tricky to justify with equipment. If the swarm is humanoid shape and wearing armor, they somehow have to fill the space with the armor?
I'll think on it.
Beginning of next turn brings it in line with Android... then again, I don't want an exact copy of Android either.

Perhaps knock prone, and require a break grab roll (spelled out in full, since grab isn't in GW) to stand up?

Also pondering a change to Mind Coercer.
Remove the damage, and add "OR you slide the target 3 squares"
This would make it identical to the at-will Hypnotism spell in Essentials, and more generally versatile.
When I ran Freesboro, the monsters never clumped, and so it would have been useless if the target only had an MBA. There were lots of times the group wanted some forced movement though.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
These powers, as far as I can see, aren't encounter powers due to the power level of the power itself.  They are encounter powers due to the origin traits.

+8 init?
At-will flying?
+5 death saves?
+2 speed?

I'm pretty sure these are the balancing factors not being accounted for.
These powers, as far as I can see, aren't encounter powers due to the power level of the power itself.  They are encounter powers due to the origin traits.

+8 init?
At-will flying?
+5 death saves?
+2 speed?

I'm pretty sure these are the balancing factors not being accounted for.


Those aren't powers, they are more like racial feats. It's like the dwarven speed reduction or encumbrance rule or the elve's wild step.
Balancing traits by making the Novice power an at-will?

While I suppose it could have been done, I don't much care for it.  Well, unless the trait makes the mutant's basic attacks a little better or more interesting in some way.

The Hawkoid's fly speed does make a difference - the Hawkoid on game day prettymuch flew whenever it didn't have a roof over it's head, sucking up the -2 in return for being harder to attack.

OTOH, the Hypercognitive's +8 init in the playtest just got him into trouble - dropped on the 2nd round of the first fight, for instance. 

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

Then the cleave idea hit me. It emulates the burst, but without the overwhelming power.....I would be OK with it proning the target, with level damage, and still cleaving.

I think that'd be the way to go.  Just damage to the cleave victims, but prone to the target.

But, it really makes a lot of sense for a Terrifying Shriek to be a 1/encounter thing.  It's just not as terrifying the second time around.  It also doesn't make the world's greatest amount of sense as a /novice/ power.


This is a game where a portable stereo is a 3d8 sonic attack.
I see the shriek as being more of a sonic blast/ear-bleeder attack than a scare tactic.
After all, you can slide the victims as is. Including CLOSER. Which is illogical for a fear effect.
Curiously enough, it's a psychic attack, and psychic damage. This can easily justify multiple uses if it's an actual psychic effect.

'Psychic' would seem to me to argue back towards the fear aspect.  (Is there a Fear keyword in GW like there is in D&D?)  A terrifying shried that inflicts physchological damage, rather than an ear-splitting one that inflicts sonic damage. 

It really is a very muddled power, isn't it?

For a bird power, I would have much preferred a flyby attack for a novice at will. However, I'm trying to keep the same powers, rather than replace them wholesale.

Agreed.  The Speedster gets a shift-attack-shift, giving the hawkoid a move-attack-move (no OA from the target) might have been OK.  Especially if it were a claw attack instead of a weapon attack.


RAT SWARM: Swarm!

What about making it more swarmy by allowing the character to occupy the target's square, and requiring him to do so to maintain the immobilized condition?


Good call, but tricky to justify with equipment. If the swarm is humanoid shape and wearing armor, they somehow have to fill the space with the armor?
I'll think on it.

Hadn't thought of that....  The whole humanoid shape thing does give the swarm a bit of a split personality.  It can be swarmy, according to it's powers and such, but it also 'needs' to be humanoid to use gear.  I suppose it could just swarm out of the armor, but not lose the bonus because it's in close with an enemy and spread out?  Or it could just drag the armor along - two non-swarm creatures can occupy the same square under some circumstances, and a half-empty suit of armor certainly could...   

Beginning of next turn brings it in line with Android... then again, I don't want an exact copy of Android either.

The Android has to remain adjacent.  Maybe the theory of the swarm not needing to remain adjacent is that it can 'shed' some members to keep the target occupied?  (And, thus, it's encounter becuase you can't sacrifice too many of your swarm-buddies too often?)

Perhaps knock prone, and require a break grab roll (spelled out in full, since grab isn't in GW) to stand up?

The Android's grip really seems like a re-introduced grab mechanic, too.  Prone is pretty potent, by itself. 

To take it an entirely different direction, Swarm! could keep it's target from making OAs (because it's batting at the individual critters swarming on it), and slide (or slow) it, as it staggers about in reaction to being swarmed, instead of immobilize.

Also pondering a change to Mind Coercer.
Remove the damage, and add "OR you slide the target 3 squares"
This would make it identical to the at-will Hypnotism spell in Essentials, and more generally versatile.
When I ran Freesboro, the monsters never clumped, and so it would have been useless if the target only had an MBA. There were lots of times the group wanted some forced movement though.

The Coercer only ran into that issue on one round (and she was an EH so just did a Bold Attack with a ranged weapon, instead).  But, the increased versatility is cool and fits the Coercer concept just fine.

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

These powers, as far as I can see, aren't encounter powers due to the power level of the power itself.  They are encounter powers due to the origin traits.

+8 init?
At-will flying?
+5 death saves?
+2 speed?

I'm pretty sure these are the balancing factors not being accounted for.



You forgot the incredibly powerful racal trait that justifies the Plant having an encounter power.
"Vulnerable 5 fire"

Oh, wait.

+2 speed is actually really good.
The rest?
Improved Init is a feat. This is it twice, but I don't see it being as valuable as 2 feats. 1.5 maybe.
+5 death saves? That's a feat in Essentials. Nice, but not a big deal. You still die at negative bloody.
The flight is pretty good, the -2 on attacks is not.  It's an advantage for sure, but not that powerful.
Indoors (where a lot of action happens), the flight is useless.

Compare these to Telekinetic.
At-Will Close Blast 5 with push AND +2 AC and Reflex AND telekinesis... allowing them to attack at range with a -2 (same as the flying hawk).
I find the racial traits for telekinetic to be more potent than hawkoid overall, and the at-will power to be more powerful than the hawkoid encounter power.

AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
These powers, as far as I can see, aren't encounter powers due to the power level of the power itself.  They are encounter powers due to the origin traits.

+8 init?
At-will flying?
+5 death saves?
+2 speed?

I'm pretty sure these are the balancing factors not being accounted for.


Those aren't powers, they are more like racial feats. It's like the dwarven speed reduction or encumbrance rule or the elve's wild step.



*blink*

Umm, yeah, I know.  You can't just look at the powers alone.  You have to look at the entire origin.  If an origin has a more powerful trait (flying at-will is certainly very potent indeed, even with the -2 attack penalty), then something has to be taken away elsewhere.  If you are going to increase the power level of a novice by by increasing it from an encounter power to an at-will, you must look at the rest of the origin to see WHY it is an encounter power, and if there is indeed a potent trait, then that trait must be reduced in power, or the raw damage/buff/debuff/area of effect/etc of the soon-to-be at-will power must be reduced accordingly.

I never said those things were powers, either.  I specifically labelled them "origin traits".

ETA: This extends beyond even that.  Really, you have to look at the traits, and all three tiers of powers. 
These powers, as far as I can see, aren't encounter powers due to the power level of the power itself.  They are encounter powers due to the origin traits.

+8 init?
At-will flying?
+5 death saves?
+2 speed?

I'm pretty sure these are the balancing factors not being accounted for.



You forgot the incredibly powerful racal trait that justifies the Plant having an encounter power.
"Vulnerable 5 fire"

Oh, wait.



I actually agree that some of the origins are sub-par for no apparent reason.  Plant is the single most prominent example, IMO.  I'm not sure what they were doing with Plant.

+2 speed is actually really good.



Yes, yes it is.  Very good.

The rest?
Improved Init is a feat. This is it twice, but I don't see it being as valuable as 2 feats. 1.5 maybe.



Maybe, maybe not.  But I'm guessing that IS where the balance according to WotC is.  +8 init on top of any potential Dex bonus does make you go very swiftly.  With the right power(s), that become a bigger deal (i.e. a controlling power slowing the biggest threat while it's far away first turn very often indeed, allowing for concentrated ranged attacks to tear it apart).  

+5 death saves? That's a feat in Essentials. Nice, but not a big deal. You still die at negative bloody.



Actually, that's for allies, and silly me I could have sworn that a death save of 20+ allows you to heal just like in D&D (not the case, so that does change it).  Still, your adjacent allies are highly unlikely to die.  Plus, your adjacent allies also never grant combat advantage, which can be pretty solid.  

Empath, however, is another one I actually agree is a little weak.  Weakened with no damage just isn't all that as an at-will.  Good?  Yes.  Close to broken?  No.


The flight is pretty good, the -2 on attacks is not.  It's an advantage for sure, but not that powerful.
Indoors (where a lot of action happens), the flight is useless.



Flight is extremely good.  It can cause major headaches in numerous ways, including the most simple way: a flying character above a certain height is immune to melee attacks.  Even indoors, it is completely dependent upon how tall the interior is.  Are you in a warehouse?  Those are often 20'+ high, so a flyer can indeed stay out of much trouble easily.  I also disagree with the assertion that most of the action happens indoors.  That is completely campaign and GM dependent.  I've played MANY campaigns in many settings where most of the action actually happens outdoors, NOT indoors.  Hawkoid is, IMO, one of the most overall potentially nasty origins as-is.

Encumbered speed is pretty darn good, since no other means of moving at 6 while wearing heavy appears to be present inherently to a character (Felinoid and Speedster both require light or no armor).

Rat Swarm's damage resist combined with inability to be knocked prone is also QUITE potent.  Standard ranged and melee attacks are far more common than area and close attacks.

+1 AC (the most commonly attacked defense), resist cold 10 (meh), and a MINOR ACTION encounter Novice power is also pretty darn good.

Compare these to Telekinetic.
At-Will Close Blast 5 with push AND +2 AC and Reflex AND telekinesis... allowing them to attack at range with a -2 (same as the flying hawk).
I find the racial traits for telekinetic to be more potent than hawkoid overall, and the at-will power to be more powerful than the hawkoid encounter power.



Telekinetic is an outlier, so constantly going back to it as some sort of benchmark is fallacious.  Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that +2 AC/Reflex (while conscious), and Mage Hand (essentially), combined with, EASILY the most potent at-will in the game, pushes TK too far.  

Finally, you are attributing my initial statement as being one of approval of the aforementioned power levels.  It is not.  I was simply pointing out that (most of) the origins have some sort of additional balancing factor, and just altering stuff to at-will can't be done without accounting for those factors.  I didn't design the origins, but I can certainly see (mostly) where WotC was going with their designs.  Doesn't mean I agree with all of them.
I understand looking for how the origins may have been balanced, but, ultimately, my feel is that they weren't, particularly.  The ed of Gamma World may be a lot more balanced than prior ones, but I don't think balance was ever meant to be a cornerstone of GW.  Especially with how random it still is.

I don't think it helps to dismiss Plant or Empath and TK as 'outliers.'  If there's some balance here Palmer shouldn't be messing with by making Novice powers consistently at-will, then that balance would have to be at least a little robust and more or less universal to be worth preserving.  Otherwise, why not let things shift around inside the bounds of those 'outliers?' 

Not that tweaking 1st level abilities might not be called for, also. 

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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Having played several sessions of the game now, each time genning new characters, I'm gonna have to agree with Tony here - I think balance was considered, but not prioritized over flavor. There are some really sub-par combos, and there are some amazingly awe-inspiring ones as well.

Personally, though, I will just be making all novice powers Standard Action At-Wills until something becomes really problematic.

The main motivation for that is
A) Its a very simple fix, and
B) Most 'encounter' novices can point to something else thats very similiar, AND at-will.