Damage is too important in 4e. Save or die is the cure.

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OK, so musing on why 4e combat gets boring, it struck me that the only way to end a combat is by reducing your enemy to zero HP (excluding DM surrender or the occasional use of intimidate). You can push or daze your foe all day but if you don't damage him down to zero it's all for nought. It didn't use to be like that, of course: charm person, sleep, slay living, etc spells, and for martial characters (to a lesser degree) could incapacitate foes with disarms, overbearing, or if you go way back I believe rogues could do "knock outs" - things of that nature.

What we need is to bring back the save or die button. And before folks get up in arms about spellcasters - there's no reason why all characters shouldn't have these powers. Martial: Decapitating strike, Sever artery, Super Stare Down, etc.  For spellcasters there are plenty of old spells that could be brought back: Petrify, Slay living, etc.

Daily or possibly even encounter powers at higher levels. As you get higher the chance of getting the death effect increase, it might start off as hit then save, then hit and save with a penalty, or just save, or save with a penalty, and then in highest epic: just dead. Or maybe opposed checks or something. But you get the idea. Save or die would (i) add other options on how to end combat, making it less boring, and (2) make combat faster/less grind.

What do folks think?

 
I understand the rules perfectly well E. Save or die would make fights quicker, would they not? And they would create other options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero, yes? And this would be bad, because...?

I understand the rules perfectly well E. Save or die would make fights quicker, would they not? And they would create other options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero, yes? And this would be bad, because...?



Which class would get a save-or-die ability? And why would they ever choose any other power? And how is the rest of the party supposed to contribute when one member can auto-kill anything? And how is the DM supposed to feel when he's set up an epic final showdown with the BBEG of the campaign and the baddie is dead before he even gets a turn?
Formerly known as Novacat. I was banned for requesting my own post be deleted. I had almost 7,000 posts, and had been a member for over 6 years. Rest in peace.
How would you balance a power that deals 3[w] + Daze with a power that instakills (aka potentially 1500 damage in one hit) ?
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Well, against powers that only do damage, I guess you can't balance them...  But that is kind of the point of them. They are foe = dead powers, not just more damage, or a daze, or whatever. Hmm yeah I dunno maybe they would just be far too good. Something for wotc to consider for 5e perhaps.

Bring them back I say!
Well, against powers that only do damage, I guess you can't balance them...  But that is kind of the point of them. They are foe = dead powers, not just more damage, or a daze, or whatever. Hmm yeah I dunno maybe they would just be far too good. Something for wotc to consider for 5e perhaps.

Bring them back I say!


I say keep them burried. In fact, build some structure on top of their grave so that they're never dug up again on accident. For all the reasons I mentioned in my last post, insta-kills are poison to good drama and gameplay alike.
Formerly known as Novacat. I was banned for requesting my own post be deleted. I had almost 7,000 posts, and had been a member for over 6 years. Rest in peace.
I expect they removed save or die because (i) they felt they were too powerful and (2) wanted to better balance spellcasters with others classes. Easy fix for problem 2 - give them to all classes. As for problem 1 - is it really a problem? Not in my view. Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!

Save or die would make fights quicker, would they not? And they would create other options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero, yes?

In your reply, you imply that your objective is making combat go faster, an objective that is different from (but does not preclude) options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero. The latter is merely a subset of the former. Indeed, you hint at this with mention of DM surrender and intimidation.

Before implementing Save or Die spells, consider the dozens of suggestions in the Compilation of Combat Accelerators thread. Pick and choose what tickles your fancy and see if it meets your objective of speeding up combat.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
OK, so musing on why 4e combat gets boring, it struck me that the only way to end a combat is by reducing your enemy to zero HP (excluding DM surrender or the occasional use of intimidate). You can push or daze your foe all day but if you don't damage him down to zero it's all for nought. It didn't use to be like that, of course: charm person, sleep, slay living, etc spells, and for martial characters (to a lesser degree) could incapacitate foes with disarms, overbearing, or if you go way back I believe rogues could do "knock outs" - things of that nature.

What we need is to bring back the save or die button. And before folks get up in arms about spellcasters - there's no reason why all characters shouldn't have these powers. Martial: Decapitating strike, Sever artery, Super Stare Down, etc.  For spellcasters there are plenty of old spells that could be brought back: Petrify, Slay living, etc.

Daily or possibly even encounter powers at higher levels. As you get higher the chance of getting the death effect increase, it might start off as hit then save, then hit and save with a penalty, or just save, or save with a penalty, and then in highest epic: just dead. Or maybe opposed checks or something. But you get the idea. Save or die would (i) add other options on how to end combat, making it less boring, and (2) make combat faster/less grind.

What do folks think?

 



have you read any 4thcore? you might like it.
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!

Frequent dead PC in one hit = Not Good.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Save or Die: Bad.
Three Saves or Die: Maybe not.
Save or die would make fights quicker, would they not? And they would create other options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero, yes?

In your reply, you imply that your objective is making combat go faster, an objective that is different from (but does not preclude) options to defeating an enemy other than reducing their HP to zero. The latter is merely a subset of the former. Indeed, you hint at this with mention of DM surrender and intimidation.

Before implementing Save or Die spells, consider the dozens of suggestions in the Compilation of Combat Accelerators thread. Pick and choose what tickles your fancy and see if it meets your objective of speeding up combat.



Not just quicker, but other options to ending fights simply by damage. Dm surrender doesn't really count as an option for PCs. The intimidate is a true option - yes this sort of thing I think there needs to be more of.

As for combat accelerators, we've tried them. Fights still take 2 hours.

I am still working through fully understanding 4e - hence why I was working on my battle tester to fully understand the new combat mechanics.


Compared to 2e though the first thing I notice


a) Monsters have more hitpoints, so battles will last longer.  (Characters have more HP too which I do like).


b) A lot of powers do not scale to higher levels.


Its b) that I'm astounded at.  In 2e a wizard of level 10 could have at least 3 fireballs a day, each of which did 10d6 damage.


Now in 4e a fireball does 3d6 + int modifier damage.


WTF


As to the saving throws, they worked just fine in 2e.  Nobody cares if a monster fails, and there were only so many save or die spells so it was not overpowered.  As to the characters it is up to the DM if he equips the monsters with save or incapacitated spells.


 

Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!




These are called minions.
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!

Frequent dead PC in one hit = Not Good.



Ah I dunno. In 3 yrs my group has had one death. It's very hard to die in 4e. A few monsters with one off daily = dead would be fine, I think. Raise dead is cheap. (but that's another discussion)
Save or Die: Bad.
Three Saves or Die: Maybe not.



3 saves or die = never die.

I would prefer a one save = die model.
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!

Frequent dead PC in one hit = Not Good.



Ah I dunno. In 3 yrs my group has had one death. It's very hard to die in 4e. A few monsters with one off daily = dead would be fine, I think. Raise dead is cheap. (but that's another discussion)


Maybe your campaign is just easy.

My Sunday group has had 6 deaths so far (at 10th level), with only one of the original party members left.
My Friday group has gone through 2 TPKs and has had three individual deaths by 9th level.

There were no instant deaths. 
Formerly known as Novacat. I was banned for requesting my own post be deleted. I had almost 7,000 posts, and had been a member for over 6 years. Rest in peace.
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!




These are called minions.



Minions don't count. They really don't. Area effect guys wipe them in one round.

Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!




These are called minions.



Minions don't count. They really don't.




You must be playing a different game then.
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!




These are called minions.



Minions don't count. They really don't. Area effect guys wipe them in one round.



Why not? Minions are a mechanic SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to be one-hit kills. Why don't they count?
Formerly known as Novacat. I was banned for requesting my own post be deleted. I had almost 7,000 posts, and had been a member for over 6 years. Rest in peace.
I have seen the occasional good use of minions but it's been with 10 instead of 4 (per monster substitute), or just as straight up "bonus" foes, sprinkling in an extra 4 or 5 minions. As soon as the area effect guy IDs them they get wiped the next round. Or at least that's what happens in our games.
OK, so musing on why 4e combat gets boring, it struck me that the only way to end a combat is by reducing your enemy to zero HP (excluding DM surrender or the occasional use of intimidate). You can push or daze your foe all day but if you don't damage him down to zero it's all for nought. It didn't use to be like that, of course: charm person, sleep, slay living, etc spells, and for martial characters (to a lesser degree) could incapacitate foes with disarms, overbearing, or if you go way back I believe rogues could do "knock outs" - things of that nature.

What we need is to bring back the save or die button. And before folks get up in arms about spellcasters - there's no reason why all characters shouldn't have these powers. Martial: Decapitating strike, Sever artery, Super Stare Down, etc.  For spellcasters there are plenty of old spells that could be brought back: Petrify, Slay living, etc.

Daily or possibly even encounter powers at higher levels. As you get higher the chance of getting the death effect increase, it might start off as hit then save, then hit and save with a penalty, or just save, or save with a penalty, and then in highest epic: just dead. Or maybe opposed checks or something. But you get the idea. Save or die would (i) add other options on how to end combat, making it less boring, and (2) make combat faster/less grind.

What do folks think?

 



Uh...yeah...so that's not really how all combat has to work.  Not every battle has to be won by beating an enemy to 0 HP.  You can Intimidate an enemy into submission, or you might have a skill challenge and have to end the combat by disabling a trap, or more like an infinite number of events that could happen to end combat.  You can even daze or stun and enemy and use the opportunity to subdue him by grabbing him.  And if you casted sleep on the last enemy and they fell asleep, combat's done if you can get to them and subdue them in time.

I get your championing insta-kill moves, okay sure champion them if you want.  But seriously, if you find 4e combat boring because you can't be super powerful and instantly kill an elite boss in one lucky strike, then well...I don't know what to tell you exactly.  As others have said those insta-kills just don't work with the design of 4e, and even if there were some they would become a staple of basically any class that had one because of course people would want the insta-kill move.

But maybe the real issue is that you need to talk with your DM, or if you're the DM, you need to think outside the box.  4e combat is only as boring as YOU make it.  So try and talk to the DM and suggest maybe they look at spicing up the combat with various things going on, or different styles of combat so that way the party isn't always just having to beat the enemy to 0 if that bores you so much. 
Occasional dead NPC in one hit = good!




These are called minions.



Minions don't count. They really don't. Area effect guys wipe them in one round.



Why not? Minions are a mechanic SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to be one-hit kills. Why don't they count?



Minions are spice to the actual meat of the combat. They aren't a problem. They die fine. It's everything else!
I have an easy solution for every one of your problems.  Stop doing whatever it is your doing.  You want faster combat and one hit kills throw lower rated monsters at them.  You want fewer than 3 saves to die, house rule 1 or 2.  You want minions to NOT be burned with one AoE, don't put them all in one place.  You want sleep to become and effective ender, go ahead.  The rules aren't rules they're guideline mechanics regularly thrown out the window situationally by the same people who made them so I say you just need to do that to!
Have you considered playing a system like Deadlands? In that, EVERYTHING can die in one shot with a lucky die roll. PC, NPC, boss monster... everything is potentially one damage roll away from sweet release (or, given the setting, zombiedom).
Formerly known as Novacat. I was banned for requesting my own post be deleted. I had almost 7,000 posts, and had been a member for over 6 years. Rest in peace.
Actually no but I have heard good reports. I think yeah time I checked it out
I have seen the occasional good use of minions but it's been with 10 instead of 4 (per monster substitute), or just as straight up "bonus" foes, sprinkling in an extra 4 or 5 minions. As soon as the area effect guy IDs them they get wiped the next round. Or at least that's what happens in our games.



That's the point of controllers and minions, that's why controllers do what they do.  They're meant to be minion poppers.  Technically any class that can do area attacks are meant to pop minions whether they're bursts or blasts.  Nothing wrong with that, the DM just needs to scatter the minions around the battlefield so they're not as easy to pin them all down with one area attack.  If you have say 4 minions on the field never group them together so even if you have a controller on the team they can't just area attack them all, it's strategy.
Psikerlord, it is clear you want to do this. Why are you seeking our approval? Just do it and let us know how it went.

(Also, closing your first post in the thread with "What do you guys think?" and then refuting each and every post that doesn't agree with you doesn't give the impression that you care what anybody thinks.)
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I think though rather than change the 4e mechanics, I would just equip the adventurers with items that have some incapacitating powers that are effective on lower level non-elite foes.
Make 4e less boring by giving them powers which ones kill and remove all strategy? Damn, that sounds boring.

Run less boring encounters, there you go, problem solved.
Psikerlord, it is clear you want to do this. Why are you seeking our approval? Just do it and let us know how it went.

(Also, closing your first post in the thread with "What do you guys think?" and then refuting each and every post that doesn't agree with you doesn't give the impression that you care what anybody thinks.)



haha, well just entertaining y'all with a bit of discussion, nothing more Big S.

Hmmm but enough for one night.
To the OP: next time you might want to consider thinking a bit more about how you phrase your post. I think what you really wanted to say, was "How can I create a grittier more lethal feel to 4E combat?" (or something along those lines). It might have helped to keep other posters a bit more focused on useful discussion instead of just blowing you off.

Without a major mechanical overall 4E is going to always be a game where you widdle away at your enemies (and they widdle you back) until they eventually die, surrender or run away, so if widdling isn't your thing (maybe you're more into hewing or hacking) then you might want to look for different game. We could spend a bunch of time discussing what you would have to do to the system to accomplish this, but my advice would be to check out other games that do that feel better.

Other games that I think do the kind of combat the OP is looking for well are the Warhammer fantasy rpg (I'd recommend 2e or 3e), Hackmaster, Savage Worlds and potentially any FATE based game. You might also want to check out Barbarians of Lemuria (it's free and awesome). The problem some people have with these games is that they are considered "rules lite" and lack some of the tactical type options 4E has (as well as the opportunity to munchkin), though the 3E version of warhammer has plenty of tactical choices and features a more lethal/gritty combat system (I'm playing in a 3E warhammer game right now, and I'm starting to like it a lot better than D&D). The main problem with 3E warhammer is that you have to get used to rolling custom dice pools, there are a lot of components, which makes set up a bit of pain (though it's not really as bad as some people make it out to be). It's also a very setting specific game, but fortunately the warhammer setting is pretty cool.

The game I'm most excited about right now is Barbarians of Lemuria. It is a simple rules lite game with fast and bloody combat, but still really interesting. It does sword and sorcery flavor really well, which I perfer to high fantasy. I've created a houserule stunt system for it that is based on the one from the Dragon Age rpg, and basically it lets you spend your hero points to get stunt points, and the stunt points can be spent to perform pretty much any tactical type maneuver you might want to do without needing specific powers like you do in 4E (so one chart essentially replaces dozens of 4E martial powers). Named villains get their own Villain Points, and this prevents them from easily being one-shoted by a PC. However, it is quite possible to take a standard villain down in one or two shots. PCs can potentially be taken out in a couple of hits as well, but they have hero points that they can use to save themselves in a pinch.

So yeah there are plenty of alternatives to D&D.

The solution to this lies with your DM. If combat is too long because enemies have too much HP then all s/he needs to do is lower enemy HP.



When I DM I frequently use "Standard Minions". These are Standard enemies that go down in 2-4 hits no matter how much damage was done. They don't have limited attacks like regular minions but rather the full suite of options available like normal standard enemies. If combat needs to be tougher on the PC's raise enemy damage by a few points or add more minions/standards.



I also use a system of morale and fatigue for enemies. Once combat has gone past 5 rounds and the PC's are in clean up mode enemies are more susceptible to surrender, fleeing, or the one shot kill.



Point is, if your encounters are taking too long just talk to your DM and tell him to get his nose out of the rules book and loosen up a bit.




my advice would be to check out other games that do that feel better.






Terrible advice.


 


Why is it so many posters respond to someones issue with a particular aspect of 4e with 'well go find another game'.


 

my advice would be to check out other games that do that feel better.






Terrible advice.


 


Why is it so many posters respond to someones issue with a particular aspect of 4e with 'well go find another game'.


 


Because every game has their strengths and weaknesses, and certain games are designed to capture a certain mood.

For instance, 4E is intended to create a pretty cinematic feel. If you don't want that feel then there are other games out there with mechanics that are designed to create a grittier feel. I think it is important to figure out what your personal taste is, and then find the game that best fits that taste. Plus there are tons of great rpgs out there, so why be monogomous with your rpgs (I'm married, I've already got plenty of monogomy to deal with)?

Sure there are lots of ways to alter 4e to make it suite your taste, and that's cool if you want to do that, but IMO you are missing out if you don't at least sample other games.
my advice would be to check out other games that do that feel better.






Terrible advice.


 


Why is it so many posters respond to someones issue with a particular aspect of 4e with 'well go find another game'.


 




Because at least to me I hear:

I dont like Chess, it doesnt have enough buying and selling properties!  And It needs a space called free parking!

Why not play Monopoly?

NO STOP TELLING ME I NEED TO PLAY A DIFFERENT GAME!  TELL ME HOW TO MAKE THIS WORK! 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

my advice would be to check out other games that do that feel better.






Terrible advice.


 


Why is it so many posters respond to someones issue with a particular aspect of 4e with 'well go find another game'.


 


Well I think it can depend on what the problem the poster has.  If the issue is that the poster feels the combat in 4E sucks then finding another game starts to make a lot of sense.  4E us almost always a pretty combat heavy game, you can do some things to effect the length or style but if this element is not fun for the poster its maybe time to move on as its likely to be a pretty large chunk of game time in any 4E campaign.

I am still working through fully understanding 4e - hence why I was working on my battle tester to fully understand the new combat mechanics.


Compared to 2e though the first thing I notice


a) Monsters have more hitpoints, so battles will last longer.  (Characters have more HP too which I do like).


b) A lot of powers do not scale to higher levels.


Its b) that I'm astounded at.  In 2e a wizard of level 10 could have at least 3 fireballs a day, each of which did 10d6 damage.


Now in 4e a fireball does 3d6 + int modifier damage.


WTF


As to the saving throws, they worked just fine in 2e.  Nobody cares if a monster fails, and there were only so many save or die spells so it was not overpowered.  As to the characters it is up to the DM if he equips the monsters with save or incapacitated spells.



I'm wondering if your not getting the correct synergies being simulated or some such because this has not been my experience at the table nor is it what I'm hearing from DMs that have run epic.  The reverse would seem to often be true with the monsters getting wiped in record time far too often and DMs really having to get creative just to keep the players in check. 

This despite the fact that I believe that the lack of scaling was intentional from the begining with the idea that fighting Demon Lords and such should take longer then fighting kobolds and low level monsters.  Pretty much the goal looked like it was to 'bake in' Epic fights at Epic level.



What do folks think?

 


Are you playing with the more modern monster manuals (MMIII and on)?  Is your DM running something from earlier in the edition?  I've found that older monsters and some of the encounters in some of the earlier monsters can have some grind but I really don't get grind very often at all with well designed encounters using the newest monsters.  Maybe a few rounds right at the end where the last standard lackey has no chance but still needs to be drained of hps but that is about it.  With this last issue our group gets really fast at rolling their at wills - you can go through a whole round in like a minute and a half if pretty much everyone just rolls to hit and damage at the same time - then monster goes and every one hoes again...

 

Save or Die: Bad.
Three Saves or Die: Maybe not.


This would be a good solution; but I'd combine the save or die with another effect/aftereffect/progressing condition, that way it isn't a waste if they do save.

Note: I haven't seen the reason why save or die would be bad mentioned here clearly, so I'll put in the reasons behind it.

#1: It would require elites and solos to have another bonus to saves against these powers or be immune to the "save or die" condition. I would also imagine that player characters would have to be immune too.
#2: It isn't that classes would have unequal access to these powers, it's that classes have unequal access to abilities that give out saving throw penalties. Warlord, Invoker, and Wizard (and maybe a few others) would have a huge advantage. Given that I would assume strikers would mostly get save or die powers, then Invoker would be the best out of the list due to granting more general save penalties and also has a "reroll that success" power.
 
Which class would get a save-or-die ability?  



You want any hopes of class balance.. every class.... perhaps you can flavor it some  Save or Dies for Strikers and Save or Really Sucks for Controllers and Defenders..  and actually because Controllers known for affecting multiple targets you would have to balance that somehow... well sucks is usually less nasty than dies... hmmm how much? 

SoD/SoS seems more about making things swingy or even non tactical  hey choices dont mean anything much just fluke die rolls - and basically making critical hits more common and more potent could have similar effect.



  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
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At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
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