Of feat taxes; two solutions and a comparison

300 posts / 0 new
Last post
I am going to preface this post by saying that I would like detractors to limit their name-calling. We will be discussing how to fix a problem that we percieve in our home games; I do not expect WotC to make any thing suggested here official. But, what I would like is to not have those who disagree that there is even a problem coming here and muddying up the discussion; saying there is no problem doesn't help those of us who see it. If you think that "plugging the math hole" in a way other than using "feat taxes" will somehow destroy the game, please say so and be done with it; I do not see how such an arguement can be made since the feats exist and are in play now and the game hasn't imploded.

Monsters scale at a rate of +29. Here is how players scale by level for attack, ac (light armor, no masterwork bonus):

+15 from level, +6 from enhancement, +4 from ability increases (potentially +5 with an epic destiny) = +25 (or +26)

Masterwork Light Armor improves this by +2 (heavy by +6, but it ignores the ability increases). Some characters can also buy Armor Specialization to get another +1; these bonuses impove the total to +29, if they take an apropriate epic destiny.

Expertise and Improved Defenses improve these by +3, which with an apropriate epic destiny also boosts this to a total of +29.

Either the game was fine before with a +25 progression, or it is fine now with a +28 progression; maybe it was or will never be fine. I don't see how both can be balanced.

So, with all that behind us, I am here to discuss alternatives to using the feat taxes (Expertise, Improved Defenses, and others) in my and others' games. My group, like others that I have read of, do not like the notion of "non-choices" within their feats. We're heart set on building those feats into the system. I have two solutions, both of which have their advantages and their disadvantages.

Solution 1: Masterwork Weapons and Amulets/Cloaks/Necks
Method: Add masterwork bonuses to weapons and neck items. At enhancement +4 and +6, weapons gain a +1 bonus to hit and necks gain a +1 bonus to NADs (my group wants to eliminate weapon focus as well and put damage into masterwork, but only because weapon enhancement benefits both and it would be strange for masterwork to not benefit both).
Strengths: It is a modification to items across the board, rather than characters themself, so it is very easy to apply. Expertise can still exist, but the bonus simply won't scale.
Weaknesses: None when compared to the core rules. Progression falls behind by a point more than it currently does, but that is less statistically significant than it falling behind by a full 3.
Personal Thoughts: One could add a masterwork bonus at enhancement +2 as well and eliminate expertise and improved defenses entirely, as well as removing armor specialization for good measure as it would be wholly unneeded.

Solution 2: Improved Ability Score Progression.
Method: Remove masterwork light armor; masterwork heavy armor needs to remain and be improved. Whenever ability scores increase, they increase by +2 rather than +1. This provides a full +4 extra to the ability modifiers of primary stats, and a +1 bonus to the modifier of other stats.
Strengths: In addition to correcting a math problem, non-weapon/implement attacks, like bull rush, grab, and dragon's breath, are allowed to scale more properly. Skills and Ability modifiers scale more closely with monsters' bonuses; monster stats are based on a 1/2 level formula anyway (which provides +15 to primary ability scores). The DC for medium DCs can scale exactly with level as well.
Weakness: Requires more of the game math to be altered. Compared to the Masterwork solution, this solution doesn't benefit the weak defense adiquately.
Personal Thoughts: This is my favorite, but I very much see its faults. It would require me to change my skill DC table. With or without this change, I want to move ability score bonuses from levels 4 and 8 to levels 5 and 9 so they do not coincide with level bonuses to attack and defenses; their current placement creates what I call a stairway progression, with some levels (most odd level where you don't upgrade a magic item) granting no increase to attack or defense, while other levels provide a +2 bonus (like frequently levels 8, 14, 21, and 28).

Lastly, my group has begun to see Epic Fortitude, Epic Reflexes, and Epic Will as, at the very least, "required" (at least to fill in a weak defense) , if not too good to pass up (taking all three). Sure, they're boring, but they do help make up for (and them some) the missing ability score progression. The only ways I can think of to incorperate them is to build a +1/tier bonus to a class build's weak defense into its structure, like the Monk has. This would merely correct scaling, and could be flavored thematically to each class build (a Str/Cha paladin can gain "Divine Grace", a class ability that boosts Reflex as they are protected from harm by divine power, while a Str/Dex fighter can gain a bonus to Will because they are couragous and have more willpower than their wisdom or charisma might suggest).

I'm not 100% certain about these ideas. Let me know what you think. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

#1: I'd rather not make characters even MORE gear-dependent than they already are.

#2: As you noted, this has a domino effect across the entire game.

--

The simple solution, and what I use in my own games, is that everyone automatically gets a +1/tier feat bonus to attacks and F/R/W defense - no feat expenditure necessary. This also allows other feats to continue working normally and without any further revisions being necessary.
The simple solution, and what I use in my own games, is that everyone automatically gets a +1/tier feat bonus to attacks and F/R/W defense - no feat expenditure necessary. This also allows other feats to continue working normally and without any further revisions being necessary.



Then why not do the same for AC and remove masterwork light armor and tweak mw heavy armor to provide its bonuses at enhancements +2, +3, +5, and +6, the level ranges when typical characters have their ability score bonuses increase?

I'm assuming you have changed how the expertise and other feats work then, so as not to allow "double dipping"?

My worry is that granting +1 to these at first level pushes player stats even higher than monster stats, which I'm already worrying are a smidge under par. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Aside from that I think the whole "feat tax" thing is overblow, I will say good luck on whatever "fix" you come up with.

But I will say that this thread really should be in the Homebrew section, you'd probably get more or better suited responses from the people who hang there because that's what this is, homebrewing.  Just a suggestion. 
Out of the two, I prefer solution 1 because it's cleaner and you avoid ripple effects.  To the above poster, the characters are no more gear dependent than they currently are in the game, the masterwork bonuses would just be baked into the current system.  

However, I'm going to toss out my suggestion for what should happen, but never will-

1. Remove Masterwork armor altogether
2. Remove the scaling bonus from expertise and defense feats, but leave them in as static bonuses (+1 and +2 respectively) and make expertise paragon tier so it doesn't step on the toes of the slightly weaker heroic tier specialization feats.

Now, this gets rid of the clunky disconnect (and asymmetry) in the advancement of AC vs. NADs and attacks, leveling the playing field and making the math hole exist equally for all attacks and defenses.

Now, to shore it up:
Either:
1. Add a simple, optional masterwork bonus of +1 or +2, independent of magical enhancment, that can optionally be added to any piece of gear for a moderate price.  This fixes everything equally except AC in heavy armor.  
2. Make heavy armor gain half-again its total enhancment bonus, including masterwork, to AC.  
Plate +8 will grant an AC of 12 + the base 8 = 20.  The same progression as in RAW and as everything else in #1.

OR:
Alter the rules for monster advancement.  This would be the easiest fix to implement, but the hardest to retrofit the game for.  It still might be the ideal solution. 

OR:
Leave it as-is, and simply declare that even-leveled monsters are supposed to be harder as you get higher level because you have fewer and fewer options above you.  The static feats help somewhat here as well.   


OR:
Leave it as-is, and simply declare that even-leveled monsters are supposed to be harder as you get higher level because you have fewer and fewer options above you.  The static feats help somewhat here as well.   




Yeah, the problem here is that you are pretty close to auto-hit (if not ACTUALLY auto-hit) on your weak defense. Builds like wand wizard that have an unfortunate stat layout are particularly borked.

I'm thinking the easiest solution is just to bake in a free epic defenses feat.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Out of the two, I prefer solution 1 because it's cleaner and you avoid ripple effects.



Thank you for beginning with a clear answer.

However, I'm going to toss out my suggestion for what should happen, but never will-



I was looking for solutions.

1. Remove Masterwork armor altogether
2. Remove the scaling bonus from expertise and defense feats, but leave them in as static bonuses (+1 and +2 respectively)

Now, this gets rid of the clunky disconnect (and asymmetry) in the advancement of AC vs. NADs and attacks, leveling the playing field and making the math hole exist equally for all attacks and defenses.

Now, to shore it up: ...



While I don't like the idea of static feats helping, because they still feel "required" (+1 to hit is just a really good feat, though it was always in the system with things like superior weapon proficiencies), your solutions do offer an elegant method of dealing with the issue. By disconnecting MW bonuses from item enhancement bonus, you can avoid staircase progression points. While I am still leaning towards using masterworks, you are giving me thoughts on how to introduce fixes at better points in the progression.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Yeah, the problem here is that you are pretty close to auto-hit (if not ACTUALLY auto-hit) on your weak defense. Builds like wand wizard that have an unfortunate stat layout are particularly borked.

I'm thinking the easiest solution is just to bake in a free epic defenses feat.



Shortly after 4E came out, with the first adventure under our belts, my group was feeling up for putting the system through the ringer. We started playing a game at level 20, intending it to be a Diablo-esque romp into Hell. Sounded fun.

I could hit the party Paladin's Reflex on a roll of 2 with one particular monster. The players had to roll 13s to hit some creatures. Legion Devils were a particular issue. The encounters were less than fun. Months later, the PHB2 came out with Weapon Expertise.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

> I'm assuming you have changed how the expertise and other feats work then, so
> as not to allow "double dipping"?

I don't need to. It's a +1/tier FEAT bonus, so those won't stack, and other feat-bonus-plus feats (like superior will) only stack as much as they normally would.
Yeah, the problem here is that you are pretty close to auto-hit (if not ACTUALLY auto-hit) on your weak defense. Builds like wand wizard that have an unfortunate stat layout are particularly borked.

I'm thinking the easiest solution is just to bake in a free epic defenses feat.



Shortly after 4E came out, with the first adventure under our belts, my group was feeling up for putting the system through the ringer. We started playing a game at level 20, intending it to be a Diablo-esque romp into Hell. Sounded fun.

I could hit the party Paladin's Reflex on a roll of 2 with one particular monster. The players had to roll 13s to hit some creatures. Legion Devils were a particular issue. The encounters were less than fun. Months later, the PHB2 came out with Weapon Expertise.

Right. Well, to-hit and exp feats are a whole other kettle of fish, which has pretty much been beaten to death.

Masterwork is annoying in that it breaks the simple old "armor X has AC Y" but I think since it exists and isn't going away tweaking the bonuses there will fix it up. Anyway, the real fix is deep surgery.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I love the elegance of the 4E monster design system. I am growing tempted to tear the system open and change the player side of it more and more as the years go on. Heck, just having the player attack and defense scores scale with level, with assumptions based on stats, may end up for the best in the end; but that wouldn't feel like D&D, not having +X swords and all.

Neutronium Dragon, I seemed to have not read "feat bonus" in your first post. Righto. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

If you want to perform deeper surgery on the PC side, you can remove all enhancement, ability, masterwork, tier-based feat, and other miscellaneous scaling and simply have PCs gain +1/level to all attacks and defenses instead of +1/2 level.

Enhancement bonuses for weapons still provide damage (and indirectly, crit dice), but armor and neck item enhancement bonuses lose their value (except to the extent that they incidentally affect properties), and masterwork armor disappears entirely. Ability scores increase as per the standard system - and affect other things such as skills and power riders normally - but the ability modifiers are set by their level 1 values for attack and defense purposes.

This is a much bigger change and takes some extra adjusting here and there, but it has the positive side effect of drastically reducing PC gear-dependency.
We just house rule that expertise (non essentials version) is a free feat and you get it for any weapons or implements your PC wants to use.
Same goes for the tiered defense feats (paragon defenses and robust? defenses). If you want to take some more feats, spend the slots. That already leaves most PC's 2 slots more than the standard RAW system, which should be ok.

Weapon focus is a smaller problem, as a PC can easily do without it during heroic levels, and sometimes even paragon levels. Hitting however is crucial for any PC since any conditions that you want to inflict also require hitting for the most part.

Why bend the equipment system, if you can just reward those feats for free? The effect is the same, but with less "fiddly bits" to deal with.
We just house rule that expertise (non essentials version) is a free feat and you get it for any weapons or implements your PC wants to use.
Same goes for the tiered defense feats (paragon defenses and robust? defenses). If you want to take some more feats, spend the slots. That already leaves most PC's 2 slots more than the standard RAW system, which should be ok.

Weapon focus is a smaller problem, as a PC can easily do without it during heroic levels, and sometimes even paragon levels. Hitting however is crucial for any PC since any conditions that you want to inflict also require hitting for the most part.

Why bend the equipment system, if you can just reward those feats for free? The effect is the same, but with less "fiddly bits" to deal with.



Technically, yes, the effect is the same... however some of us are OCD about having a streamlined system where you can address the issue with a comprehensive errata so that the overall system feels more polished.

I can't speak for others, but that's why the "give it for free" solution is not quite ideal for me. 
The true "comprehensive errata" would be to fix the Monster Manuals, but I don't expect that to happen.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Yeah, the problem here is that you are pretty close to auto-hit (if not ACTUALLY auto-hit) on your weak defense. Builds like wand wizard that have an unfortunate stat layout are particularly borked.

I'm thinking the easiest solution is just to bake in a free epic defenses feat.




Shortly after 4E came out, with the first adventure under our belts, my group was feeling up for putting the system through the ringer. We started playing a game at level 20, intending it to be a Diablo-esque romp into Hell. Sounded fun.

I could hit the party Paladin's Reflex on a roll of 2 with one particular monster. The players had to roll 13s to hit some creatures. Legion Devils were a particular issue. The encounters were less than fun. Months later, the PHB2 came out with Weapon Expertise.


My issue with this example is it really points more to the need to get comfortable with the system.  Both in terms of you did this early on in getting the game and also that a bunch of characters made at 20th level has not yet managed to really get in tune with how the group dynamic will work.

What I mean is if you play 4E from scratch at any but the lowest levels with a new party its really a much, much, harder game because of how heavily the team elements are emphasized.  I suspect that your 20th level group would eventually gel after many sessions - especially if you let players do rebuilds or swap characters in and out.  Even forcing everyone to stick to retraining would allow the group to improve though it may now take so many levels for the group to really develop their synergies that the campaign might be nearly over before things really gel. 

In effect the numbers on the charts are almost beside the point because the real power behind a high level group is the fact that they come with a swathe of powers that let them do things like add 4 to their attacks or retain powers that miss or roll two dice and take the best or, probably the most common, reroll many missed attacks. 

In the same vein it may well be that monster X can hit on a 2 or more.  But the group has seven different interrupts that all basically read 'if you hit us your attack is nullified'  

In effect we need to show in playtests that the better numbers the monsters come with actually work out to more solid hits on players and more actual misses by the players at the table and that's just not the case.  Even big bad ass solo's at high level get maybe 8 powers of which 2 might read - I tricked you and you missed me.  A group at this level can generate many 'your hit was actually a miss' and my miss was actually a hit type effects as each individual player might have as many as 20 or more powers at their disposal and their are  4-6 of them.

This discrepancy did get better when Wizards realized just how badly underpowered the monsters really where and took steps to give them some help from MMIII on but its still mostly the case that DMs start using level +3 and level +4 encounters in Epic in a desperate attempt to actually make their players break a sweat - if the DM is using a monster 4 levels higher then you is he not really just circumventing the chart by putting the bonuses to attacks and defences back in (while padding out the baddies hps and increasing the monsters damage)?

Monsters scale at a rate of +29. Here is how players scale by level for attack, ac (light armor, no masterwork bonus):

+15 from level, +6 from enhancement, +4 from ability increases (potentially +5 with an epic destiny) = +25 (or +26)






Not sure if I follow but at level 30 wouldnt a fighter have


Strength 23:  +6


Magic weapon: +6


Weapon prof: +3


Level : +15


Epic destiny: +1


= +31 with potential racial bonuses.

The numbers presented are a set only of things that scale from 1 to 30.  The proficiency bonus is the same at 1 as it is at 30, so it isn't counted.  The base AC values already incorporate proficiency bonus.  They're defined as 14+level, and that 14 includes the extra to-hit from proficiency.

Epic destiny's +1 isn't something you can reliably count on.  Most of them don't have it (either directly, or from a +2 to an attack stat), and given that it's such a character/story-driven choice it shouldn't be assumed in the math unless all epic destinies are made to have it baseline.  That's not the case.

So that's -4 off of your estimate.  Also, the final ability modifier isn't relevant for the same reason proficiency isn't relevant.  Only the change in your ability modifier from 1 to 30 matters.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Monsters scale at a rate of +29. Here is how players scale by level for attack, ac (light armor, no masterwork bonus):

+15 from level, +6 from enhancement, +4 from ability increases (potentially +5 with an epic destiny) = +25 (or +26)






Not sure if I follow but at level 30 wouldnt a fighter have


Strength 23:  +6


Magic weapon: +6


Weapon prof: +3


Level : +15


Epic destiny: +1


= +31 with potential racial bonuses.




he's talking specifically about the growth, not the total bonus.
So, while a starting fighter will have greater than +0 due to his strength score and proficiency bonus, he will only gain roughly +25 on the path to level 30 (4 from increasing his strength, 15 from gaining levels, 6 from enhancment bonuses).  

Monsters start with the same bonuses due to stats and proficiencies, but gain +29 during the path to level 30, outpacing PCs by about 4 points.     
To the OP and to the others who advocate yet more player power:  I find your position to be slightly intellectual dishonest. You argue from the premise that the monster has something i.e. an attack/defense progression that is beneficial to it compared to the player's progression. Well, how about instead of selecting a tiny subset of player power we look at the complete package of what a PC has access to.

Level 15 seems to be a nice arbitrary value to highlight the difference.

A PHB 1 level 15 and 25 character have in a 5 encounter day access to the following per encounter:

15--

minimum of 4 encounter powers
3/5th of a daily, 
4/5th of a utility if each is a daily
4 utility if each is an encounter. 
9 feats
up to 11 magic items equipped (weapon, shield, armor, neck, head, waist, feet, 2 rings, arms, hands )
wondrous magic items
consumables and rituals prior to and during combat
1/2 of an AP per encounter minimum

Each of the above magic item may have an interrupt or daily associated with it. Most have static bonuses and benefits.

 Now for resilience--each player can take a second wind, they don't die at 0 they have to go -bloodied, they can spend quite a few HS especially if they have items or potions that provide healing.

So what is fair to a party of 5 characters, i.e. seeing a moderate-hard+ combat and opening with 5 AP's you would NEVER see monsters do. Yet noone advocates a monster feat tax to make the monsters better. Monsters can rarely heal and they sure as hell don't pop potions are take second winds. 0 is dead for a monster, very rare a leader can heal a monster down at -34 and have it come back to 16hps for another round, etc etc etc.

So it appears to me that monsters and characters are fundamentally build differently, yet the only complaint is when monsters get something the players don't. Even though players can now get backgrounds, themes, and even more powerful feats that players cry about paying for!!!  Then, funnily enough when the players get to epic and meet Orcus or whatever they are underwhelmed that the monsters die so fast.  Oh your striker cannot kill that epic normal in 1 round?  fail striker... Whereas at epic, perhaps monsters should be a bit more of a challenge relative to the characters then Irontooth was back at level 1 or 2. But that doesn't take into account player entitlement issues that seem to grow year to year.

Cliff notes for the reading impaired:

I believe if "Team Monster" had a choice they would trade that +4 for the magic items, feats, resilience, action points, and epic destiny of a typical high level character. 
Leave it as-is, and simply declare that even-leveled monsters are supposed to be harder as you get higher level because you have fewer and fewer options above you.  The static feats help somewhat here as well.   





I will try not to be too big of a pain here...


there are a few groups of players we broke down to...


group A- feel the math hole is a problem

group B- doesn't even know the math hole is there

group C- sees the math hole as part of the game and doesn't see it as a problem.

there are those of us (mostly group C but some of group B) that feel the game is already a bit too easy... and as such will make a huge stink to any baked in bonus or defualt free bonus is given.



your solution needs to make all 3 as happy as can be.


group a wants +1/+2/+3 most of group B wont care one way or the other, the sub group between b and c will not ecpecpt a no cost increase...


I do feel feats that give the bonus is the best option we get.          
               

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.
Stepping away from math arguments for a moment...


Would it be possible simply to raise the levels of monsters?  Instead of reworking all the math, just say... "this level 20 monster should really be leve 23/24"?  Sure, you might need to individually look at each monster to see how many levels its level should be raised, but I imagine this would accomodate for the math curve.

Worse comes to worse, the monsters die quicker cause of less health?  (And I don't hear anyone complaining about battles ending too soon)
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.



That may be the case but until monsters start getting 1/2 of what PC's get I don't get the crying over a minor difference in accuracy. Honestly, player's only whine for what they lack and THEN they complain monsters are too easy at epic...
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.

I think we'd have to just agree to disagree on this.

In any case, we are all well aware of the endless debate on the side of attack bonus. It seems to me that the OP was primarily, if not exclusively, wanting to discuss DEFENSES. The situation with defenses is much less ambiguous since there can be a very large variation between characters here and some builds are far more impacted by the relative decay in NADs than others. While it is true that PCs do gain many "get out of jail free" type capabilities that let them avoid or shed off the effects of hits the fact that a character may be auto-hit can have pathological effects and it seems like it would be better to bring NADs down to a narrower variance and then perhaps look at whether or not the other methods of 'defending' oneself might need to be addressed.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.



First off, by not having Expertise, you are giving up a 15% accuracy rate. That is a noticeable difference and I don't dispute it. It is absolutely true that Expertise is valuable, and is three times as valuable at Epic than at Heroic. There is no denying the math that +3 is three times that of +1.

However, my 19th level LFR taclord gives +3 to hit every time he grants a melee attack. When you action point around him, he gives +6 to hit on the action point. He has an encounter power which dazes (+2 CA) and gives an additional +6 to hit that target until the end of my next turn. He carries Dice of Auspicious Fortune and a Stone of Earth, and at the last table I played at, my fiancee and I (who both carry Stones) were paired with a married couple who play gnoll barbarians (who both carry Stones) meaning that my Stone rerolls at +4. That's a high paragon character, who isn't even carrying Tactician's Word, which would give the recipient of Inspiring Word an additional +3 to accuracy on the next attack.

He's hardly unique. I see lots of leaders and controllers imposing bonuses to hit or penalties to monster AC.

None of these are as easy or as consistent as Expertise. But come on!!! By the time you hit 30th level, you have access to 19 different feats! Paying 1 to be 15% more accurate isn't a tax....it's like buying a car in LA. Yeah, it's an expense, but it makes your life so much easier.



Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.



First off, by not having Expertise, you are giving up a 15% accuracy rate. That is a noticeable difference and I don't dispute it. It is absolutely true that Expertise is valuable, and is three times as valuable at Epic than at Heroic. There is no denying the math that +3 is three times that of +1.

However, my 19th level LFR taclord gives +3 to hit every time he grants a melee attack. When you action point around him, he gives +6 to hit on the action point. He has an encounter power which dazes (+2 CA) and gives an additional +6 to hit that target until the end of my next turn. He carries Dice of Auspicious Fortune and a Stone of Earth, and at the last table I played at, my fiancee and I (who both carry Stones) were paired with a married couple who play gnoll barbarians (who both carry Stones) meaning that my Stone rerolls at +4. That's a high paragon character, who isn't even carrying Tactician's Word, which would give the recipient of Inspiring Word an additional +3 to accuracy on the next attack.

He's hardly unique. I see lots of leaders and controllers imposing bonuses to hit or penalties to monster AC.

None of these are as easy or as consistent as Expertise. But come on!!! By the time you hit 30th level, you have access to 19 different feats! Paying 1 to be 15% more accurate isn't a tax....it's like buying a car in LA. Yeah, it's an expense, but it makes your life so much easier.






I know you mean well, so I'm not trying to troll, but this is a perfect illustration of the type of logical fallacies that the "math is fine" camp routinely commits.  Saying that it's a "15% difference" is a gross oversimplication and is actually mathematically false from a probabilistic point of view, which is what's most important. 

While each +1 represents 5% accuracy, the actual effect modification of those numbers will have on your rate of hitting will be dependent on what the baseline for those values is.

As an example, let's say that you have an attack bonus of +30, and a monster's AC is 46. Somewhat unlikely scenario, sure, but humor me.  That would mean that you need a 17 to hit it.  That means that you hit on a 17, 18, 19, or 20.  That's 4 out of 20, or a 20% chance of hitting.

Now, apply the +3 expertise bonus.  You now will hit on a 14 or higher.  That is 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20.  Your chances are now 7 out of 20, rather than 4 out of 20, which means your accuracy increases from 20% to 35%.  That is an improvement of 75%, granted by a single feat.  

So, it just so happens that the easier it is to hit something, the less important that +3 is; the lower your base chance of hitting something, the more a difference that +3 makes.  4e's hit chart assumptions are actually lower than previous versions' already, so if you assume that on average you need an 11 to hit something with expertise, that's a 14 without.  Doing the math, you will see that it's a jump of 50% - 65%, which is an improvement of about 30% - which is very noticeable.  

That is why arguing that it's only a 15% difference represents a misunderstanding of the way probability and statistics work.
But it still increases you chance to hit by 15%  35%-20% = 15%. Yes 15/20 = .75 but only in that case.
Prejudice and Discrimination CardUtility 1
[Insert flavor text here ...]
@will Psychic, Fire(Special)
No Action - Forum
Target:Trolls
Effect: You summon every internet troll within 2 clicks.
Size : Gigantic Immune Psychic (It doesn't care what you think) Immune Fire (Special): Flaming powers are what internet troll's feed on. Every flaming point regenerates them by the same amount. Special: If their target has a vulnerability their attacks inflict damage of that type.

But it still increases you chance to hit by 15%  35%-20% = 15%. Yes 15/20 = .75 but only in that case.



It increases your accuracy by 15%, but because your accuracy is virtually never 100%, the actual percentage of improvement is usually substantially higher.  That's the point - saying it "improves your accuracy by 15%" is glossing over the way that hit probabilities actually work.

You're looking at it from an additive point of view when it's the multiplicative aspect that's important for determining probability.  So, when your accuracy goes from 5% to 20%, yes, your accuracy goes up by 15%, but what's more important is that you are now 4 times as likely to hit your target.
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.



First off, by not having Expertise, you are giving up a 15% accuracy rate. That is a noticeable difference and I don't dispute it. It is absolutely true that Expertise is valuable, and is three times as valuable at Epic than at Heroic. There is no denying the math that +3 is three times that of +1.

However, my 19th level LFR taclord gives +3 to hit every time he grants a melee attack. When you action point around him, he gives +6 to hit on the action point. He has an encounter power which dazes (+2 CA) and gives an additional +6 to hit that target until the end of my next turn. He carries Dice of Auspicious Fortune and a Stone of Earth, and at the last table I played at, my fiancee and I (who both carry Stones) were paired with a married couple who play gnoll barbarians (who both carry Stones) meaning that my Stone rerolls at +4. That's a high paragon character, who isn't even carrying Tactician's Word, which would give the recipient of Inspiring Word an additional +3 to accuracy on the next attack.

He's hardly unique. I see lots of leaders and controllers imposing bonuses to hit or penalties to monster AC.

None of these are as easy or as consistent as Expertise. But come on!!! By the time you hit 30th level, you have access to 19 different feats! Paying 1 to be 15% more accurate isn't a tax....it's like buying a car in LA. Yeah, it's an expense, but it makes your life so much easier.






I know you mean well, so I'm not trying to troll, but this is a perfect illustration of the type of logical fallacies that the "math is fine" camp routinely commits.  Saying that it's a "15% difference" is a gross oversimplication and is actually mathematically false if you look at it from a relativistic standpoint rather than absolute one.

While each +1 represents 5% accuracy, the actual effect modification of those numbers will have on your rate of hitting will be dependent on what the baseline for those values is.

As an example, let's say that you have an attack bonus of +30, and a monster's AC is 46. Somewhat unlikely scenario, sure, but humor me.  That would mean that you need a 17 to hit it.  That means that you hit on a 17, 18, 19, or 20.  That's 4 out of 20, or a 20% chance of hitting.

Now, apply the +3 expertise bonus.  You now will hit on a 14 or higher.  That is 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20.  Your chances are now 7 out of 20, rather than 4 out of 20, which means your accuracy improves from 20% to 35%.  That is an improvement of 75%, granted by a single feat.  

So, it just so happens that the easier it is to hit something, the less important that +3 is; the lower your base chance of hitting something, the more a difference that +3 makes.  4e's hit chart assumptions are actually lower than previous versions' already, so if you assume that on average you need an 11 to hit something with expertise, that's a 14 without.  Doing the math, you will see that it's a jump of 50% - 65%, which is an improvement of about 30% - which is very noticeable.  

That is why arguing that it's only a 15% difference represents a misunderstanding of the way probability and statistics work.

While this is a tempting way to look at it the actuality is that you will generally shift your hit probability at these levels from say hitting on a 5 to hitting on a 2. The actual improvement in damage output is thus considerably lower. I'd also note that EACH PLUS you get increases your DPR by a fixed amount, regardless of %'s. Since it is the absolute damage that is important, not the relative increase in damage, there is no more or less value in a +3 if your to-hit is one number or another already. The argument is then simply one of player satisfaction, which is not easily quantified.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Yes, that's the point.  Yes, chance to hit increases by 15%.  And yes, 15/20 = .75, and yes, it's only in that case.  That's the entire point behind Einlanzer's post, and why calling it 15% isn't accurate.

Let's say you do 10 damage on a successful hit.  Cool.  And without some feat that would increase your chance to hit by 15%, your hit chance would be 50% (hits on an 11, in our terms).  What is your average damage per round?  Well, 10 damage * 50% = 5 damage per round.  Simple.

Ok, let's say you now have Feat of Unstoppable Accuracy, which gives you a +3 bonus to attack rolls.  Cool!  Your hit chance is now 65%.  What is your average damage per round?  10 damage * 65% = 6.5 damage per round.

How much did this feat increase your damage per round?  1.5 damage per round.  What percentage is this of your original damage?  1.5 / 5 = 30%.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Count me in group C. The analysis of the math by the original poster is missing the fact that by level 30, it is trivially easy to suprpass the +4 deficit between monster defenses and character accuracy. The expertise feat is certainly one option, but there are a number of ways of applying combat advantage, accuracy bonuses from leaders, self applied accuracy bonuses and defensive penalties to monsters that can rapidly turn the d20 roll into a mere formality, so long as one does not roll a 1. Follow that up with a bevy of opportunities for rerolls or even (dice of auspicious fortune) automatic hits, and there just isn't a realistic chance that the players will miss.

Expertise is a very strong option and should be taken, but even if one does not take it, the PC will likely always be at a 50% hit rate or better. I like what they are doing with the expertise feats - an accuracy bonus and small additional bonus that is nice to have, but probably not worth a feat slot by itself.



This is just factually untrue.  While your options for improving your accuracy do improve as you rise in level, it's never by enough to consistently compensate for the -4 you accumulate without expertise.  Whether or not this is "game breaking" is a separate argument, but without expertise you most certainly will notice a difference in your overall accuracy at high level.



First off, by not having Expertise, you are giving up a 15% accuracy rate. That is a noticeable difference and I don't dispute it. It is absolutely true that Expertise is valuable, and is three times as valuable at Epic than at Heroic. There is no denying the math that +3 is three times that of +1.

However, my 19th level LFR taclord gives +3 to hit every time he grants a melee attack. When you action point around him, he gives +6 to hit on the action point. He has an encounter power which dazes (+2 CA) and gives an additional +6 to hit that target until the end of my next turn. He carries Dice of Auspicious Fortune and a Stone of Earth, and at the last table I played at, my fiancee and I (who both carry Stones) were paired with a married couple who play gnoll barbarians (who both carry Stones) meaning that my Stone rerolls at +4. That's a high paragon character, who isn't even carrying Tactician's Word, which would give the recipient of Inspiring Word an additional +3 to accuracy on the next attack.

He's hardly unique. I see lots of leaders and controllers imposing bonuses to hit or penalties to monster AC.

None of these are as easy or as consistent as Expertise. But come on!!! By the time you hit 30th level, you have access to 19 different feats! Paying 1 to be 15% more accurate isn't a tax....it's like buying a car in LA. Yeah, it's an expense, but it makes your life so much easier.






I know you mean well, so I'm not trying to troll, but this is a perfect illustration of the type of logical fallacies that the "math is fine" camp routinely commits.  Saying that it's a "15% difference" is a gross oversimplication and is actually mathematically false if you look at it from a relativistic standpoint rather than absolute one.

While each +1 represents 5% accuracy, the actual effect modification of those numbers will have on your rate of hitting will be dependent on what the baseline for those values is.

As an example, let's say that you have an attack bonus of +30, and a monster's AC is 46. Somewhat unlikely scenario, sure, but humor me.  That would mean that you need a 17 to hit it.  That means that you hit on a 17, 18, 19, or 20.  That's 4 out of 20, or a 20% chance of hitting.

Now, apply the +3 expertise bonus.  You now will hit on a 14 or higher.  That is 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20.  Your chances are now 7 out of 20, rather than 4 out of 20, which means your accuracy improves from 20% to 35%.  That is an improvement of 75%, granted by a single feat.  

So, it just so happens that the easier it is to hit something, the less important that +3 is; the lower your base chance of hitting something, the more a difference that +3 makes.  4e's hit chart assumptions are actually lower than previous versions' already, so if you assume that on average you need an 11 to hit something with expertise, that's a 14 without.  Doing the math, you will see that it's a jump of 50% - 65%, which is an improvement of about 30% - which is very noticeable.  

That is why arguing that it's only a 15% difference represents a misunderstanding of the way probability and statistics work.

While this is a tempting way to look at it the actuality is that you will generally shift your hit probability at these levels from say hitting on a 5 to hitting on a 2. The actual improvement in damage output is thus considerably lower. I'd also note that EACH PLUS you get increases your DPR by a fixed amount, regardless of %'s. Since it is the absolute damage that is important, not the relative increase in damage, there is no more or less value in a +3 if your to-hit is one number or another already. The argument is then simply one of player satisfaction, which is not easily quantified.



This does not compute.  DPR is directly tied to your hit rate.  If you hit twice as often, you will do twice the damage, and vice versa.  What I said above holds true.  

But, I will concede the same point I did above - the +3 matters less the higher your base hit rate is, though I think you are overestimating the average hit rate of moderately optimized high level characters.  I believe on average it is a difference of about hitting on a 12 vs. hitting on a 9, which is pretty substantial.  What is even far more substantial is the difference between having and not having NAD boosting feats.    
This whole "science behind the math to make my character unkillable" is just silly.

This is Dungeons & Dragons. Reaching the highest level should never be the standard, or expectation. It's the goal.

But, I will concede the same point I did above - the +3 matters less the higher your base hit rate is, though I think you are overestimating the average hit rate of moderately optimized high level characters.  I believe on average it is a difference of about hitting on a 12 vs. hitting on a 9, which is pretty substantial.  What is even far more substantial is the difference between having and not having NAD boosting feats.    



Again look at the numbers. A reasonable level 1 PC without expertise has a +6 to-hit (+4 stat and +2 proficiency), and even level one characters will often have +7 or more without expertise. This compares to a 14 AC for around an 8 to-hit. At 30th level this slides by 4 points, to around a baseline 12. Thus 12 is the WORST CASE UNOPTIMIZED to-hit bonus for 30th level. Given the vast number of buffs, debuffs, rerolls, ease of achieving basic situational bonuses, etc it is pretty typical for this number to shift by another 4 to 6 points, and can easily exceed +8. It is difficult to estimate the exact average number, but it is surely far beyond the zero you're estimating.

Now, you can suppose worst case situations where the PC is worse off, a level 35 solo monster (baseline is now 14) and various disadvantages the DM might devise like say fighting underwater, some kind of pervasive debuff, etc. The upshot is there are worst case scenarios where the extra +3 is more significant, but in no case is it even near clearly making the difference between a fight which is drastically tedious or almost impossible vs one that is interesting. Again, you can't really substantiate this kind of thing quantitatively, but I would make some observations.

Epic capstone type encounters are typically far more story than just hack-n-slash unless you're just playing one-shots. The PCs being motivated to achieve story-based advantages (IE some special weapon or item that grants specific potency against the BBEG, using strategy to force a fight to happen in a situation advantageous to the PCs, specific weaknesses possessed by the BBEG etc) seems like a DESIRABLE characteristic to me. These kinds of things possess little meaning when the characters already hit on a low number. Admittedly there are other ways to implement such things than to-hit bonus, but if you already hit with high reliability and considering the built-in massive damage output potential of 30th level PCs in a capstone fight where all the gloves come off you don't really have a lot of scope for that kind of thing when the PCs are regularly hitting on a 3 with expertise.

I really don't know if the original design deliberately slipped attack bonuses with this kind of thing in mind or not, but the upshot is still that in my actual experience in play expertise feats aren't really needed and can be left out of the game without any real issues. Why they were ever included is a whole other discussion and may well relate more to fanservice than anything else.

Again though, defenses are a different story, and a much more fertile ground for improvements. It is relatively trivial to find situations where epic monsters can hit PCs on a 2. If those monsters are issuing debilitating effects this can rapidly become not so fun.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
It's interesting seeing the debate between improvement in damage when the baseline is an arbitrary to hit, where each + is a variable, and a never miss number where each + is a flat 5%.

The value of that +1 does change even though it's still only a 5% diffence on the 1-20 scale.


 

Philosophically speaking, epic should be harder then heroic and it appears that the forum chatter implies the opposite. Again why the fuss that the monsters, in two areas, have something the players do not?  I.e. a bit more built in bonus and a bit more hp?  It's not like the players don't have APs, feats, epic destinies, 10+ magic items, paragon paths, tons of healing, etc. that the monsters don't. 

Wouldn't it be more intellectually honest to compare the total package? 
Just looking at monsters that were designed at level 30 - almost all of them have defenses that are in the low to mid 40s.  Let's take 43 as an average for AC.  

PC attack at level 30 = +2 +8 +15 +6 = 31.

So, the baseline needed is 12.  That is also assuming a maximum attack statistic, which really shouldn't be mandatory.  Let's assume you're getting a +6 instead, for players that start with a 16: 

That's a +5 (2 prof + 3 stat) at first level, vs. an average AC of 15 = 10, which is appropriate for a somewhat but not excessively optmized character, i.e. one with an attack stat of 16.  

At level 30, though, it will be a +29, giving you a base of 14 needed to hit the average level 30 monster. CA and leader bonuses don't actually change all that much over the course of the game, so it's fairly negligible.  
This whole "science behind the math to make my character unkillable" is just silly.

This is Dungeons & Dragons. Reaching the highest level should never be the standard, or expectation. It's the goal.



If a Level 1 player hits on an 11 and a level 30 player hits on an 8 there is a problem and it's not "the player expects to be invincible!". The problem is actually on the DM side of the screen. As DM, I want to be able to quickly and easily determine the challenge an encounter will pose to the party. If an even level fight means something different to a Level 1 party than it does to a level 30 party then that becomes much more difficult to do.

There are many ways for me to increase the challenge if that's what I desire as DM. I can, for instance, throw higher level encounters at the party.
Philosophically speaking, epic should be harder then heroic


What does "harder" mean?  If it's just hit rates, damage, and hitpoints, then making it harder doesn't add to the story.  "Harder" in epic means that you're engaging in bigger picture conflicts with broader ramifications, more complicated and nuanced threats, and more expansive options for dealing with them.

It doesn't mean that hit rates must change.  Your assumption that "harder" means "a level 30 monster should be hit less by a level 30 character than a level 1 monster is hit by a level 1 character" is not a valid one to make, certainly not as simply "well, epic is harder" as you describe.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
If an even level fight means something different to a Level 1 party than it does to a level 30 party then that becomes much more difficult to do.


Precisely.  The presence of the math gap throws of experience budgets, and that's actually probably the biggest problem it causes.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
It's interesting seeing the debate between improvement in damage when the baseline is an arbitrary to hit, where each + is a variable, and a never miss number where each + is a flat 5%.

The value of that +1 does change even though it's still only a 5% diffence on the 1-20 scale.


 

Philosophically speaking, epic should be harder then heroic and it appears that the forum chatter implies the opposite. Again why the fuss that the monsters, in two areas, have something the players do not?  I.e. a bit more built in bonus and a bit more hp?  It's not like the players don't have APs, feats, epic destinies, 10+ magic items, paragon paths, tons of healing, etc. that the monsters don't. 

Wouldn't it be more intellectually honest to compare the total package? 





There are several problems here:

1. This is assuming all players should and will optimize their character in a very narrow way, which is a fault with 4e very broadly speaking in my opinion.

2. What the above posters say is correct - "harder" does not mean having a more difficult time hitting monsters and avoiding being hit, it is simply an indication of the complexity of the game.  Epic level play should be more complex, and therefore "harder", but not harder in the sense that it's harder to hit enemies with your powers and having limited tactics to avoid control and damage - that's just silly.

3. The problem with the math hole, at least for me, is actually secondary to the problem with the way its been addressed.  The expertise feats should not exist in their current forms, whether or not the math hole is addressed by something else, simply because they are so overpowered that they not only feel mandatory, but create a jarring disconnect in the cohesion of what feats are meant to accomplish.