FourthCore Team Deathmatch

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Let me open up by saying I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea, but 4E does a great job of making itself extremely flexible and we put it to the test this afternoon with another installment of FTDM originally run at Gen Con by C. Steven Ross.

Run down from the Gen Con event:

We had smaller numbers than hoped for, but let's be honest, how many times have we all hosted games to have people drop out at the last minute? We played 3v3 on all 3 maps and went absolutely nuts.

Basic set up - Lvl 1 char, no race/class restrictions, basic creation rules apply. Maps are extremely well constructed and very original. Roll initiative, roll a 1d4 to see where your character spawns, move in and kill/don't die.

I think we had 3 barbarians (including my own Genasi Void Soul), an Avenger, a Hexblade and a Hunter (who was the most obnoxious to deal with). Things were fast-paced and frantic as we traded blows, used terrain feautres and tele-fragged one another - rolling a 1d4 and popping up in a teleport square already occupied results in instadeath for whomever was there.

Imagine the most tactical DnD you could play, where a shift could spell life or death, forgetting to roll your saving through could leave you defeated and your team demoralized, and being unable to cooperate with your companions lead to certain doom. I've never left a table so sweaty in my life.

In the end my team took it in sudden death (next kill wins). While my pc looked on, prone and immobilized, refusing to stand up so the Hunter would take the penalty to hit me, our Hexblade ran for the teleporter hoping to frag someone. A 1, just roll an effin 1... and suddenly on the die there it was, a 1. Telefrag for the win!

I know these events aren't for everyone, but if you're at all interested, they will be run again. Most often locally in the Baltimore area, but I know C. Steven Ross isn't opposed to traveling to a convention to lay the smack down!

May the dice be with you.
Actually this sounds like a LOT of fun.

Especially the cool terrain + telefraggin.  Combine with level 1 characters to avoid most of the easy abuse, and I can see how it would work.

3 Questions:  Can you somehow include respawns?  Can you somehow make it remotely feasible at higher levels than 1?  (Since I have self-sworn off heroic tier)    Can you make it a free-for-all, or at least, say, 5 2 man teams? 
So we play with infinite respawns. At the end of your turn if you are dead or dying, you can use a free action to die and respawn.

Higher than lvl 1 is certainly possible, but I think I would remove healing if you got too high, or really scale up map specific damage either with terrain or items. Personally I think I would like to play lvl 2, it gives everyone a utility and maybe a lvl 1 magic item. You could create much more unique characters that way.

As for the free-for-all, I'm really not sure. I could see some ways for it to get very lopsided, but it could still be pretty fun. I do like the idea of small teams though, would be pretty fast paced and character interaction would be crucial.

Glad to see the idea connects with someone!
Yeah I've done quite a bit of PvP (more in 3.5 than in 4, but still quite a bit in 4), and I've always avoided level 1; but even at level 11 the entire combat comes down to 'who wins initiative', even in a 5v5 starting 35 squares away from each other.  But if the map were actually a lot more like an unreal tournament maze (so symmetrical but tiny and chaotic), and the terrain was awesome, I could see it being possible again. 

I specifically ask about free-for-alls due to the telefraggin' - that recalls to me Unreal Tournament + Doom, which were always free for alls - I have a feeling this could probably work if you make a) the maps unknown to the players, and b) make them small enough that if you go around a corner, you find another start location - but depending on which corner you go around, you find a different opponent.

This would lead to online play, where you could have an overall GM running things, who would post maps up to each person seperately, which avoid a lot of the inherent 'gang up' problems that you would find in table top.

Since you have infinite respawns, high damage characters actually would not be a problem whatsoever - only 'perfect' characters who end up being broken would be (perfect stealth, perfect defenses (level +15 on all defenses or something), perfect save penalties (-12 or more), etc)

But broken builds don't exist at low level - so as you were playing with level 1, and you say it was very intense, could I ask - what kind of damage was being put out at-will?  Was it high enough to truly feel intense, or was it somewhat grindy (damage-wise - not at the end when it's just one hunter vs a prone target or other exceptional situations).   I guess I would be hoping for something like, the average hit doing, oh, 15 damage (since it's level 1), and people hitting 60%-75% of the time or so. 
Thanks, Bohrdumb, for the glowing review! Always glad to hear that the dungeoneers had a great time!

And as said, I am indeed looking for conventions and D&D meetups where I can bring the excitement and passion of Fourthcore Team Deathmatch to those who are craving it. If you liked Lair Assault, this is going to blow your mind!


+ Level 1 characters are imperative to the breakneck speed pace of this style of gaming. A general design philosophy with all aspects of the Fourthcore Team Deathmatch has been "more death = more fun". With the 4E ruleset, dungeoneers become more and more resilient as they Level. Hit Points begin to outstrip average damage dealt per round (DPR), Utilities crop up that give saving throws and healing, etc. For deathmatch, I am looking for the kind of utter brutality that only the fragility of a starting level character can deliver.

+ A lot of people ask about free-for-all matches, or assume (incorrcetly) that FTDM is all about it. I have shied away from free-for-all's for three reasons. 1). Free-for-all style diminishes the interaction and teamwork mechanics that 4E handles so well. Almost every class would end up as Striker, as you have no one to lean on. 2). Keeping track of scoring becomes exponentially more difficult. 3). It encourages defensive play. Since the only feasible way to handle scoring is by deaths (and not kills), a free-for-all environment would encourage dungeoneers to act defensively and simply avoid confrontation, rather than the much more fun alternative of seeking bloodshed and glory at every opportunity. 

+ At-Will damage output ranges from about 5 - 15 DPR, unaided. That's actually not a very good measurement of how deadly a character is, however, as the terrain and magic items of each map offer significant ways to rack up kills for the low damage character builds. For example, during this past Saturday's tournament, there was a Hexblade character wielding a Vorpal Quad Damage Souleater Blade of Annihilation for 4d10+2d12+7 damage (rolling an additional die for dice showing the highest value) as an At-Will. To say that it was anything but spectacular would be an understatement. Most maps also have ways of insta-killing, besides just telefrags; so that brings the body count up another notch. Unaided At-Will's are also not a very good measure of the system because of the respawn mechanics. Respawning regenerates all encounter powers, meaning that most times a character has their encounter attack power available. With all that said, in play experience from the ..five?... times I've run this sort of event, I've found that dungeoneers will consistantly live about 2 rounds each before being killed off. With the low low hit points of 1st Level, combined with the inherent low non-AC defenses of 4E characters (almost every build has a soft spot), it is rare for a dungeoneer to miss on an attack.

First attack tends to bloody a dungeoneer. Second attack, dropped. Third attack, coupe de grace.

DMG p. 42: Actions the Rules Don't Cover
Yeah, I don't think free-for-all would work unless it was an online game.  AWESOME to hear about the map items/deaths caused - that's exactly the kind of thing I would want.  In general, this sounds like it would be supremely awesome, and I would love to attend one .. or more.. or many.  However, as I live in Canada that may not happen any time soon.  The 2 rounds till death is approximately the time frame I was hoping for - so the fact that you've added in ways to deal massive damage to account for that makes me teh happzorz.

I was about to say 'what about starting at level 2', and I just realized - utilities often mean immediates.  Immediates slow down play = not frantic.  So I just answered my own question.  I love this idea, and now I just need to see if I can't find some friends who might take part in it.

Next question:  How many characters did you notice that were brought that simply did not fit the theme of gritty arena deathmatch (ie players not built reasonably optimally, such as minotaur non-hexblade-warlocks, or dwarven cunning bards).  Also, obviously strikers would be the dominant role chosen, but were other roles represented at least passably well?  And if they were (especially controllers), did they work out reasonably well in the deathmatch scenario?
Most characters that get brought to these events have a typically optimized build, Elven Rangers and the like, although it stands to be said that the winning team at GenCon had an all-Dwarf party with a Wizard, amongst pther classes. With the kind of varied terrain and out or the ordinary situations, it's sometimes hard to tell what exactly is an optimal build in a Fourthcore Deathmatch. Something that Bohrdumb touched on already, in FTDM you see a lot of corner case D&D rules, total defense for example, being utilized quite often and taking a place in the forefront of tactics.

 Strikers are definitely the most represented role, although all roles have shown up at Deathmatches and have been used well. There are so many neat tricks that one can pull off with a variety of classes, a lot of unique combinations that you see even at the simplicity of 1st Level, that almost any class can be devastating. There have definitely been a few classes that I've seen that have been a little better-suited to the Deathmatch format than others. Listen in on the Deathmatch articles (see below) from my blog and it'll go over a lot of the dominant strategies that have emerged in the last few months. Race and feat selection have also made a huge difference in the matches. 
DMG p. 42: Actions the Rules Don't Cover
In terms of other roles making an appearance, a Human SM/Wiz actually brings quite a bit to the table. Decent defenses, at-will forced movement, and Mage Hand could all serve quite well. Plus the +4 to Enc, and 2 feats would make quite a formidable foe.

Deathmatch, and 4thCore more generally, almost requite optimization and a tactical mind, which isn't f for everyone. But for those of us to whom it appeals, it's a blast and a half!

edit: This of course, lead me to create a Wiz/SM to see what I would get... oh it would be so fun!
Wow, the respawn idea really does take it to the next level.  I mean, yeah, in the traditional "once you're dead, you're dead" D&D, PvP really isn't balanced properly at all.

But this sounds like D&D Unreal Tournament.  Awesome.  Awesome.  Hell, you could even steal FPS gametypes and general rules:  first to 15 kills wins, CTF with infinite respawns (multi-flag and single-flag assaults...oh my, you could even have more than two teams!), hell you might even be able to get some more specific objective-type stuff involving skill checks as well.

Oh, man does this sound like it could be fun...
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Get ready to have your minds blown, dungeoneers! Fourthcore Team Deathmatch is now offering a play-by-post variant.

Please excuse the filler graphics/layout while we get everything spiffed up. 
DMG p. 42: Actions the Rules Don't Cover
All I can say is "WOW!"

My friend is inviting me over to set up and DM a 4E event at his high school; it was suggested that I run Jungle Hunt or whatever other ADAP adventure there is, but this has inspired me to at least try and alpha test something else :D

As much as I'd like to run a local version of Fourth Core here on the other side of the planet, I'm not even sure how to both keep to the GSL (which I really do have to read up on I guess) and I'd like my own spin on the matter ;) Given that Defense of the Ancients (DotA) is quite popular in my part of the world, and in sticking to a slightly more conventional 4E, I already have something in the works, but I'm not sure where exactly I can post the details.

Care to help?  I'd love to gather the input of the Fourth Core team (players and DMs alike) regarding the matter

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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Glad to hear your digging Fourthcore in general, and the Team Deathmatch in specific! Half of the reason why I made the play-by-post site was to give the dungeoneers of the world who can't get to the east coast of America or to GenCon a chance at the insane adrenaline rush that 4E D&D can dish out when played this way.

I'd love to share my PvP experiences to help you out. Email me at cstevenross at yahoo.
DMG p. 42: Actions the Rules Don't Cover
Going into Halftime, guess who the leaders are?

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game

Pffft; you guys were only in the lead because everyone hated CT Feltek and so all the orcs spent the whole time trying to kill him.  The least FOURTHCORE AWESOME name (Clarence Terrence Feltek) for the least Fourthcore Character (wasted 3 rounds dying) leads to everyone (even his own player) hating him!
First of all, C4D6 won round one because we were awesome. Significantly more awesome then everyone else. Trust me, you did not experience HALF of our AWESOMENESS.

Second, you make it sound like I did not hate CTF--I think I missed him on three seperate occasions. Clearly he was the target of a lot of rage--for C4D6 in general & me in particular!

And Finally, this is why CTF was the MOST Fourthcore of us all--we forgot strategy, we forget probability, and we resorted to BLIND RAGE to drive our attacks! This is what fourthcore is all about to me, getting the players off the couch and into the ring with simple tricks--just because I cannot hit someone means that I MUST hit them--I will continue to try and fail to hit them over and over and over again, because--when I finally do hit them I REDEEM MY AWESOME! 

It was a great round. 

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game

rofl, I must say then.. thank you.  I'm glad CTF brought fourthcore to the next level of AWESOME!   FEED MY BEES!

and why in the world did I have bees and dogs so mixed up when I initially used my daily? WHY?
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