What defines the "controller" exactly?

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I've been looking over the classes and notice that all the roles except for the controller have a certain mechanic. The defender's have their marks, the healers have their healing and the striker's have their extra damage boost but the controller is something that lacks this. Now AoE's do have a place in the controller classes but it's in the other classes as well. The only thing that I can really see that would be a controller mechanic would be zones. But does this really define the controller role enough?
I've been looking over the classes and notice that all the roles except for the controller have a certain mechanic. The defender's have their marks, the healers have their healing and the striker's have their extra damage boost but the controller is something that lacks this. Now AoE's do have a place in the controller classes but it's in the other classes as well. The only thing that I can really see that would be a controller mechanic would be zones. But does this really define the controller role enough?



Controllers are crowd control.  Mass daze, sleep, stun, etc effects, generally are what characterize crowd control.  So AoE plus debilitating effects or mass limiting actions are what should characterize most blast/burst controller attacks.
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Controllers significantly alter the available decisions and math of the situation by positioning and creating limitations. Their minion-clearing duties are basically counter-control; minions are as much a terrain hazard as anything else, which controllers can clear away.

Wall powers are one of the purest forms of control - they can drastically alter the available actions of the allies and enemies, depending on what the wall does.
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It's not much of a mechanical thing because controller is very hard to quantify mechanically. Which is why it's so hard to get right.
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The thing with controllers is that most classes have a little controller in them - they don't have anything strictly unique to them. Of course, they also borrow a lot of stuff from other classes, but that tends to be more build-specific. Controllers tend to apply their tricks to a much larger portion of the map; a defender or a striker controls one or two monsters, a controller controls everything that it didn't just kill.
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I've been looking over the classes and notice that all the roles except for the controller have a certain mechanic. The defender's have their marks, the healers have their healing and the striker's have their extra damage boost but the controller is something that lacks this. Now AoE's do have a place in the controller classes but it's in the other classes as well. The only thing that I can really see that would be a controller mechanic would be zones. But does this really define the controller role enough?

There are secondary roles and, really, every role has classes of other roles that do some of it's schtick.   Paladins aren't Leaders, but they heal.   Warlocks aren't controllers, but they create zones.  Warlords aren't Defenders, but they have a few powers that can mark.  And, every non-striker (even the Pacifist Cleric) can do damage.

The lack of class feature support for the controller role is telling, though.  Every non-controller gets some class feature to support it's primary role.  Marking, extra damage, healing - pretty clearly supports defender, striker, leader.   The controller classes get nothing, all the support for their roles comes from their powers - which are often /very/ powerful, for that reason.  Large AEs, zones, tremendously diverse keywords, a broad range of situational powers (attacks and utilities) - the controller role is almost more an excuse to grandfather in a vestige of the excessive verstitility and power enjoyed by casters in the past.

It would be nice to see controllers get class features to support the role.  Resurecting 'meta magic' might have worked.  For instance, a wizard might get powers more in keeping with other classes (or even draw from a common list of powers used by all Arcane classes), but have meta-magic class features that let it expand areas (at the cost of damage), upgrade conditions (slow -> immobilize -> restrain; daze -> stun -> helpless), extend durrations (1 turn -> save ends -> penalty to save ends -> sustainable -> whole encounter), swap damage types or other keywords, or whatever else... 

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Yeah, I agree.  The controller's "hook" class feature should have been a meta-magic type function, where the powers could be customized on the fly.  The frequent occurances of "Sustain" effects is kinda like this, but these are tied to the powers and not the classes themselves.

Being able to adjust to the needs of the party, being able to make this power slow on one round, and have a larger area the next, would certainly go a long way to creating a controller vibe, and get across the versatility and adaptability that is somewhat implicit in most controllers.
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Controllers are confusing for two reasons:

1) There are so many distinct kinds of control, none of which are common to all controllers. Lots of damage is lots of damage; healing is healing; defenders (the effective ones) all interfere specifically with an enemy trying to go after their allies; but control? There's loss of movement, there's action denial, there's domination, there's damaging zones, there's walls, there's debuffing, there's forced movement...

2) Practically everyone has at least a bit of control.  I have three character sheets handy at the moment: a hybrid fighter/ranger here that has debuffing and forced movement. A bard that has debuffing, forced movement, and action denial. A warlord with forced movement, debuffing, and action denial.

So... it's really hard to say what it is controllers do, and even harder to say what they do that others don't. The big thing, really, is that they do "control" as their primary job rather than a sideline or side-effect.

Strikers are somewhat bit similar... it's much easier to say what strikers do, but it's something that everyone does. Strikers just do more of it - except, that isn't universally true, sorcerers are so-so and vampires are bad and some fighter (defender) and wizard (controller) builds are quite high-damage.

But if "controller" just means "someone who does control, and more of it than other people"...

Then what is "control"?

Control is:
* Making it impossible for the enemy to do what the enemy probably wants to do
* Making the enemy ineffective at doing what the enemy probably wants to do
* Making the enemy suffer for doing what the enemy probably wants to do
* Making the enemy do something the enemy probably does not want to do

I think that about covers it. (Although I could be forgetting something.)

There are several ways to do each of those things. Some of them are situational.

For example: an enemy probably wants to move within range and charge the controller. How to make that impossible for at least one round?

* Immobilize/Restrain
* Slow, if the enemy is far enough away
* Forced movement, or forced teleport, increasng the distance or taking advantage of obstacles so that the enemy can't reach the controller on a move-charge
* Daze/Stun, so the enemy can't take two actions
* Create a wall that the enemy has to go around, increasing the distance and voiding the charge 
* Immediate damage that will kill the enemy
* Damaging effects that will be inflicted, and will kill, if the enemy move-charges as expected

In this case, I probably am forgetting something. 
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I'd call a machinegun a control option, and that pretty much does exactly that: makes the enemy suffer for doing what they want to do (close in on a certain position)

Suffering for doing what you want to do is definately a form of control, just a very hard one to balance and one that has very close ties to Defenders (who make people suffer for ignoring them, not just for doing what they want to do)

A zone of fire can make enemies suffer for closing in on the party. A Fighter can't prevent someone from closing in on the party, he can only prevent someone from getting away from him.

Thing is that "suffering" is generally fairly weak on a controller because it's so easy to abuse by constantly forcing people into the zone. As evident by forced movement through damage zones abuse, which if I'm not mistaken features in CharOp DPS builds a lot.
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I was under the impression that death was just an extreme form of punishment. Anyone who is not a minion can still walk through gunfire/walls of fire, they just take damage for doing so.

When you put the wall between them and you, they have a choice between punishment (wading through it) and action denial (spending a lot of time going around it, or being stuck)

Also, machineguns don't kill much (unless the enemy is a moron). They control. You install a machinegun because you don't want an army to march through the chokepoint, not because you're going to mow them down by the hundreds when they do it. Because they're not going to. Because of the punishment you'll inflict when they do what they want.
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Making the enemy suffer for doing what the enemy probably wants to do



No, it is not, as evidenced by the incredible ineffectiveness of the "controllers" built on that model. That is defending, and it requires a completely different character skill set and focus in order to make it effective.

Defenders are frequently recognized as highly specialized controllers. They only make the enemy suffer for doing a very short list of very specific things, and they are exceptionally good at it.

As Pluisjen noted, more general apply-the-suffering is very abusable and therefore very weak. But it's still control. A weak damage zone may not cause an elite to hesitate, but it stops minions.

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I would define a Controller as a character class designed to debilitate multiple enemies simultaneously. They do so via an array of abilities, often covering a wide range of debuffs, and to act as the main source of area effects and zones. 

A controller that only locks down a single enemy is really just a greedy striker. Control needs to balance between multi-target soft control and single target hard control for balance's sake.  Controllers should also be mid level DPR, better than an average leader, but still below a striker by a lot.  

Successful Controller Example: The Mage.  Wide spread effects offering a variety of debuffs, strong single target effects, some builds offer better DPR while others create superior control via increased debuffs.

Fail Controller Example: Bladesinger. Single Target only, and only soft control. Their AOE spells are under powered by comparison to most any other controller, and have features designed to increase DPR, thus resulting in a Striker with the wrong name.

If I were to give controllers their own unique mechanic (ala healing or Marking), I would make it a universal ability to sustain the effect of a previous spell for an additional round while still casting an additional effect this round. Certain orb Wizards have this idea, and I think extension of that idea into a universal effect would be the best way to help "Explain" or exemplify the controller role. 
A Controller is the class that has the primary goal of pissing off the DM and ruining the carefully-designed encounters.

A Controller is an anti-DM character.  The monsters have goals, and the Controller is the one who makes it so that the DM-controlled side as a whole can't even function properly, let alone actually achieve those goals.  Contrast this with the Leader, who doesn't really prevent the monsters from doing what they want, just fixing the damage when they do, or the Striker, which doesn't really prevent the monsters from doing what they want, just making it so they don't have very many turns in which to do it.

A good Controller means that tactics, planning, and strategy are no longer reliable, and combat for Team Monster breaks down into a series of individual turns rather than a cohesive force.

If you're playing a Controller, and your DM isn't going "you bastard" after every one of your turns, you're not doing your job.  It's why the job is so fun :D
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I agree with Mand12 for a good part of that.  However, I think the Controller does have a distinctive role.

There are two ways to take an enemy out of the fight: hp depletion and condition infliction.  The game is designed around hp depletion.  The striker specializes in hp depletion and the controller specializes in condition infliction.  The main problem with designing controllers is there doesn't seem to be a clear way to measure how potent a condition can be which leads to a lot of swinginess.  Also, conditions tend to be temporary, so in the end, you still need to take the hp out.  Which means that even though the controller is designed to take down enemies, they often end up prolonging battles.

The leader and defender, in contrast are damage mitigators.  The defender (which I think could really be called the "martyr") mitigates damage by taking the damage himself (and having higher defenses, more hp, and better surges to make that strategically wise) and through abilities that allow quick recovery from conditions.  The leader mitigates damage through healing.

In truth, condition infliction is simply another form on damage mitigation.  Where the defender soaks damage on behalf of the team, and the leader heals damage after the fact, the controller prevents the foe from inflicting the damage in the first place.  This means that three of the four roles are mostly designed to prolong the battle, rather than end it.

In the end, I'm not sure that the controller's focus on conditions was wise.  If I could design a controller ability, it would probably be one that inflicted additional damage on a foe that failed to shrug off a condition imposed by the controller, or failed to escape a zone created by a controller.  That way the conditions didn't merely prolong the battle by hampering foes, but helped to end it by depeting hp.
I guess I always saw controllers as the "chessmasters" of the party.
They have the ability to position enemies for the other party members to be able to more easily deal with them. They have the power to force movement, freeze positions, and distract the enemy, further giving the more damage-dealing party members easier access to do what they do.
I always saw this as their defining feature. They're the manipulators of the battle-field. They don't do tons of damage, but they make it so that other party members can.
A few things that I would like to point out:


  1. I think Wizards took a bit of the "controller" away from classes such as the Wizard when they made their sustain effects until the end of your next turn. I liked it when you could sustain it until the end of the encounter if you had the actions. I remember my old Staff Wizard would be using two minor actions to keep two spells going while using his standard to either Thunderwave people or to use an effect from one of the spells that he was sustaining. I could control and actually defend like a boss.

  2. Martial Controllers: I think the reason we don't see a martial controller is because we already have classes like that such as the Battlemind, Fighter and Warden. Now I would venture a guess and say that the Bladesinger was an attempt at a "martial controller" but somewhat failed. Sure it can do a little control and it is a martial type character but it does better as a striker.

  3. When exactly does "controlling" blur the lines when compared to defending? Defenders stop people, slide people, punish people and prevent them from doing what they want to do. Sure the goblin wants to go and hack at the Wizard, while there is nothing impeding his movement, there is the fact that the big guy over there is waiting to take his head off if he decided to go for the wizard. That's control and defending in my opinion.

  The leader mitigates damage through healing.


Leaders are not just healers...
Leaders in there role as team buffers and enablers also foreshorten the battle ... Further I suspect team monster was meant to take most defenders retaliation effect more often than they do at some tables so that the defender also does strikerish damage.

 
 
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I think controllers are more effective for the absence of one unifying feature.  Their job is to target the enemy's plan, to limit the DM's ability to use teamwork and complimentary monster abilities to win fights.  Give them one feature that enables them to do that, and the DM can plan around it.

Controllers go after a different target than the rest of the group, manage the flow of a different, less quantifiable resource than hit points, so they've got to work differently than the other classes (and from one another).  You can give every striker a uniform ability to make more hit points go away and that works for their role.  You can give every leader a button to mash that makes hit points come back, and the defender one that makes bad guys fail at hurting people.  That works.  You can't give every controller a button to press that makes the DM have to play stupid - those have to be made to order.
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In my opinion, I think all controllers should have an ability that allows "all" of their offensive spells to effect the enemy only.
In my opinion, I think all controllers should have an ability that allows "all" of their offensive spells to effect the enemy only.



You are working against tradition with that idea... the not being party friendly was at least a significant part of "the challenge" of playing the class.
  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
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

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
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Don't you think that would limit the scope of what control spells are allowed to do?  Right now they use target susceptibility as a knob they can turn to crank up the severity of the spell's effects - party friendly spells tend to do less awesome things at a given level than the ones that'll hit anyone in the blast radius, because they figure you'll have to either apply those effects to fewer enemies overall, or balance their effect on the enemy against their effect on your friends.  Take that component away, and they stop being able to let the player weigh the vulgarity of the effect against the ability to direct it.  You'll always default to the attack that has the greatest effect over the largets number of targets.
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Then I would give them that ability maybe twice per encounter.
One-word role descriptions?  One-word role descriptions!

These are how I like to conceptualize them:

Controllers Disrupt
Defenders Distract (or Defend)
Leaders Facilitate
Strikers Destroy

...
I should really try to find a "D" word for leaders
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Perfect example of misframing the discussion there, wrecan


I apologize.  I wrote quickly and imcompletely.

You're too focused on specific power effects and not paying attention to the strategic level in the slightest.


But with this I disagree.  Controllers all employ similar strategic effects.  They do some damage, but primarily, their goal is to hamper the party with a variety of conditions and zones.  Included in those zones may be conjured creatures.

Especially worth noting that the leader isn't a "damage mitigator", they're a massive damage source.


They are not solely a damage mitigator, true.  That part I really got wrong.  They can both mitigate damage through healing, and deplete hit poitns through offensive buffing, such as granting additional actions and bonuses to attacks.  I actually look at leaders as the best designed role of the four as it as a clear and unique offensive and defensive component.
Healing isn't even damage mitigation to start with. Recovering lost action economy through healing is a sideline that was assigned to the classes for thematic reasons but has no essential connection to it, and healing is best distributed throughout the team in an optimal party rather than given to any specific character.


Interesting take on healing.  I think healing and de-conditioning is the leader's primary defensive party role.  I think other roles can take that on secondarily.

That said, I think each role should have a defensive capacity thataids the entire team, and an offensive capacity.
For leaders, defense is healing and deconditioning.  Offense is through action and bonus buffs. 
For defenders, defense is absorption.  Offense is through retaliation and close bursts.
For controllers, defense is terrain effects and conditioning.  Offense is through zones and area attacks.

Most classes get an ability that triggers with a minor or immediate action to enforce their role.  I really would like to see every role get a minor/immediate at-will action of its own.  Defenders mark at-will.  Leaders should get an at-will buff.  In my opinion, controllers should simply get to sustain one zone, convert a condition that ends automatically into a save ends, or force an opponent to reroll a save.  And I'd like Strikers to be folded into these other roles, or be given a way to defend the team that is more than "I kill the enemy faster".

Coincidentally, I think it would be interesting if a class could have different offensive and defensive roles.  A paladin might be a defensive leader (lay on hands) and an offensive defender (retaliatory smites).
"Leader" I don't think is an actual role.  A pacifist cleric and a bravura warlord are miles apart in their playstyle, the parties they go best with, and the contribution they make to the fight.  The only reason we call them "Leader" is that they both have the 2/enc minor action heal, when in reality they fulfill very, very different roles.

Pacifist clerics are defenders.  They make party healing surge usage more efficient and decrease the likelihood of someone dying during the fight.

Bravura warlords are strikers.  They make things die now.  That they swing Barbarians instead of Greatswords isn't relevant.
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Your analogy disproves your point, I'm afraid.

A machinegun is indeed an example of a control effect, but that's because it's action denial. Installing a machine gun nest to cover a chokepoint is the equivalent of throwing a damage wall across the room when there's an army of minions on the other side. It's not "punishing them for doing what they want", it's "killing them before they do it". That's straight-up action denial.

Aren't damaging walls notable controller powers, though?  So if the area denial of a machinegun nest is comparable to a Wall of Fire, haven't you just made his point?  Or am I not following who made what point?

IMHO, area denial is one of the things controllers get to have fun with - or, at least, /should/.  Walls, zones, and creature-targetting AEs all impact the enemy's tactics.   


There's been some re-trenching lately about how damaging zones should work.  They've been written in a variety of ways, making some better at inflicting damage and others better at denying areas. I think a good rule of thumb would have been to have two general sorts of damaging zones for controllers.

- Ally-friendly zones that may inflict penalties on enemies or give minor advantages to allies, and inflict modest damage to enemies ending their turn in them.

- Creature-affecting zones that inflict meaningful damage at the start of the victim's turn, or when the victim moves into the zone on it's turn, or when the victim moves /through/ (into and out of) the zone between it's turns (1/round, max). 

In no case should damaging zones inflict damage for entering each square of the zone, or for entering the zone repeatedly. 


The phrasing of damaging zones has been a real pain.  The point of a damaging zone is either to make the enemy want to leave it (the first sort) and thus leave your allies alone, or to make the area plain dangerous thus changing the tactical landscape (the second sort).  The first kind is easy to phrase.  The second is treacherous, because it has to avoid stupidly high damage while still making it's area denial meaningful.

For the second sort, maybe:   When a creature enters the zone on it's turn, it takes damage.  If the creature has not taken damage from the zone since the end of it's last turn, and starts in the zone, it takes damage.   If a creature enters and leaves the zone one or more times between the end of it's last turn and the start of it's next, it takes damage once.  ??  Maybe something like that...


Hmm...

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...and with going into "offensive" and "defensive" you're yet again misframing the issue, wrecan. The important categories are proactive (used at the impetus of the player) and reactive (used by the demand of the game state).


I disagree.  I think the important categories are how these roles contribute to the team, not the triggers that allow the player to invoke them.

I don't care whether a role tends to be proactive or reactive anymore than I care if a role has three syllables or two syllables.  While both of those can be criteria we use to differentiate roles, the whole point of class roles is differentiate a character's place in the adventuring team.  So we should examine how the roles do that.

The roles do that by defining how a class helps his teammates survive (defensive role) and how he elliminates opponents (offensive role).  Everything else is window dressing, and only important when determining if a given class is balanced or performing its role appropriately.
I agree with Mand12 for a good part of that.  However, I think the Controller does have a distinctive role.

There are two ways to take an enemy out of the fight: hp depletion and condition infliction.  The game is designed around hp depletion.  The striker specializes in hp depletion and the controller specializes in condition infliction.  The main problem with designing controllers is there doesn't seem to be a clear way to measure how potent a condition can be which leads to a lot of swinginess.  Also, conditions tend to be temporary, so in the end, you still need to take the hp out.  Which means that even though the controller is designed to take down enemies, they often end up prolonging battles.




This is actually one of the things I like most about Star Wars Saga: the general condition track that everyone had. Control effects, rather than "-2 to attack", could just be "-2 on condition track", which moves the enemy closer to unconscious the same way damage would without actually damaging their hitpoints at all. It gives the equivalent of hitpoint depletion to control effects without having to do actual hitpoint depletion and makes control a very viable way that you can outright win a fight if applied properly.
I [heart] the condition track.
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Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
 hate condition tracks.  It's a death spiral that grants the advantage to he who strikes first.
 hate condition tracks.  It's a death spiral that grants the advantage to he who strikes first.



Seconded.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
 hate condition tracks.  It's a death spiral that grants the advantage to he who strikes first.



Seconded.



I hate all forms of Death Spiral!!!!!

In some ways Hit points the ever increasing were basically defined to represent heros not becoming doomed immediately by injury... heck medical types will tell you your body naturally buffers you even if the hit points did represent real wounds and that until the "out of danger" light goes off we are damn resistant to impairment.  The military studies I recall showed a very sudden jump from 95 percent efficiency to zero (and no I cant find the damn study anymore to back it up) ... with nothing much in between.

DS are not even realistic

  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
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

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
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

1 - I don't mind "death spiral" mechanics.

2 - I think the "death spiral" with the condition track is often (massively) over-stated.  "Oh no, I got hit and went down 1 condition step!" is almost never worse than "Oh no, I got hit and dazed [or -2 attack, or any other condition, really]!"
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
If your genre is some cyber punk we are all doooomeedd... and you make the impairment kick in next fight... then hey sounds ok.
  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
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

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
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 hate condition tracks.  It's a death spiral that grants the advantage to he who strikes first.



And nuking somebody with a daily nova and removing a standard entirely from the board is not an advantage to he who strikes first?

Attacking first is always going to be hugely advantageous. If you get hit to -2 to attack on condition track or you get hit to -2 to attack in general, you're still at -2 to attack and there's effectively no difference except that one -2 to attack will wear off by itself and be eventually inconsequential (statuses as they exist in 4e) as a result, whereas the other (a condition track like SW Saga) is going to cause some serious potentially fight-ending harm.

Re:

In the end, I'm not sure that the controller's focus on conditions was wise.  If I could design a controller ability, it would probably be one that inflicted additional damage on a foe that failed to shrug off a condition imposed by the controller, or failed to escape a zone created by a controller.  That way the conditions didn't merely prolong the battle by hampering foes, but helped to end it by depeting hp.



the condition track in Saga does precisely this, except rather than ending the battle due to HP it ends the battle explicitly because you are too hampered by conditions to continue. In either event it ends the battle. So, why do you want the effect of the condition track yet hate the condition track? This seems like it is a paradox.
 hate condition tracks.  It's a death spiral that grants the advantage to he who strikes first.



And nuking somebody with a daily nova and removing a standard entirely from the board is not an advantage to he who strikes first?

Attacking first is always going to be hugely advantageous.



That's a serious resource expenditure, not a default. When whomever throws the first punch wins, that's bad. When he who blows away 90% of his firepower in the first round wins, that's more or less to be expected and you'll feel the sting of it in the next battle.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Every controller should have a minor action feature like strikers, leaders and defenders. I agree. There should be zones or something like these.

A druid should walk and make entangling vines, difficult and slowing terrain. A seeker should make insect/glue/poison slowing bags, a invoker should threat all squares adjacent to his conjurations and target enemy difficult brighty squares, a Wizard should have magical debris as a feature!


That's a serious resource expenditure, not a default. When whomever throws the first punch wins, that's bad. When he who blows away 90% of his firepower in the first round wins, that's more or less to be expected and you'll feel the sting of it in the next battle.



Fair play, let's do something a bit less drastic.

How about you hit them for half their HP with an encounter power (something you almost always will end up using due to its refresh ability), then they take their turn and hit you for half your HP, then you do it to them again and now they're dead and you've won.

It even applies in the chess world, among the simplest to learn but hardest to master turn based "combat" games: if I take your bishop on my turn (attacking first), you can at best take something back. But assuming that trade continues indefinitely, I will eventually come out ahead if we trade point for point (bishop for bishop, knight for knight, rook for rook). Eventually my last piece will take your last piece, and you will have no more pieces to counterattack with. This is the effect of going first no matter what: an automatic edge in snowballing victory.

Now maybe you won't trade back point for point, that's a distinct possibility, but it is made harder by the fact that my damage has already occured. Missing a bishop is like taking a -2 to hit from a controller power - your return blow is by default going to have less options and therefore be less powerful.

In this way the snowballing of a condition track is exactly the same process of the snowballing of any controller power, except with the distinct advantage that once you lay your opponent too full of conditions to any longer effectively function, the battle is officially over.

I mean, heck, you can adapt the condition track if you want. Maybe the stages do nothing, and at stage 5 you're unconscious, and a stun moves you two stages and a daze moves you one stage and whatever else if you don't want to make the snowballing "even worse" - that way you can effectively "stun somebody to 'death'", thereby ending the encounter using effects rather than hitpoint depletion.

Or, I guess, you could just deal damage alongside your stun effect and use the hitpoints as a "ghetto condition track" of this exact same type and it'd be a lot simpler. Except that's what we already do and Wrecan seems to have a problem with it, so I'm suggesting alternatives.
There's a difference between "the first punch gives a minor edge" and "the first punch probably decides the battle".

It's kinda like saying "the first person to act in combat deals x10 damage on his first attack"

You are making "hitting first" disproportionally important. That's fine for certain games, but not the heroic adventuring genre, where people are generally supposed to be able to roll with punches, not get locked into a death spiral from the start. 

Now if you're going for more a gritty world, then I don't really see the issue with attacks being able to cripple or outright kill someone. But not in D&D as presented. It doesn't match with the flavor the game shoots for.

Right now, hitting first is an advantage, not a requirement. That's how it should be in D&D. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.