Why Fighters Can't Have Nice Things!!! And Solutions.


 

Ye olde fighters vs wizards debate to some extent. D&D is a fantasy world but the fighter has always been a somewhat mundane class. He has more or less been restricted to what someone in the real world can do with some level of abstraction such as being able to survive being breathed on by a Dragon. Or in Spelljammer being able to survive reentry (20d6) and then 20d6 falling damage and being able to leap up and keep fighting.


Fantasy fighters and heroic fighters often had magic items/artifacts (Excalibur, Stormbringer), gifts from the gods (Perseus) or were part divine themselves (Hercules). In fantasy literature worlds are often low magic as well (Tolkein, Game of Thrones) where spell casters are very rare or magic is more limited than D&D magic. A simple levitate spell makes the walls of Constantinople somewhat obsolete but Mr Fighter can ride out on a warhorse with his lance-yay. 2nd ed low magic worlds often nerfed wizard in some way usually by increasing casting time or limiting their access to spells (or both). The high point of being a D&D fighter probably came with 2nd ed or 4th ed the low point was 3rd ed relative in power to the other classes. Perfect balance is probably unattainable at a price the D&D fanbase is willing to pay as 4th ed found out regardless of ones opinion of 4th ed they at least tried I suppose and one can respect that.


Feats are apparently coming back and one can sacrifice them to gain higher ability scores. This is somewhat interesting at least and may appeal to fans of older editions of D&D. With capped ability scores on cannot abuse this like 3rd and 4th ed but it is nice and simple and having 20 strength/con/dex does sound appealing mechanically while being somewhat mundane.


Anyway feats are back with an opt out clause for those who do not like them. We do not really know how many the classes will get access to, nor how they are going to be implemented. I suspect we will end up with a large amount of them a'la 3rd and 4th ed. Some ideas to make fighters better although I would not expect to see many in core rules perhaps and some should probably be kept out of the core.


1. Magic items. Maybe detested but this was the way things worked pre 3rd ed and it required DM fiat. Gadgets could also be used- Batman, Bond and Ironman could be fighters or multiclassed fighters.


2. More mundane options that are powerful. Reroll abilities (advantage), extra hit points, defenses, ability to sever limbs/heads and puncture lungs like Jedi in SWSE are all mundane abilities that can be represented by in game mechanics. Higher ability scores have already been mentioned.


3. Give them super natural abilities. 3.5 Dragonmarks and bloodline feats, 4th ed power feats and multiclass feats, SWSE force training etc. These let fighters gain supernatural abilities but not become spell casters. Maybe your dad was Zeus or Grazzt and on a fantasy world why not?


4. Super heroic. Similar to 3 I suppose but with more or a comic book or wuxia focus. Fighters jumping to the moon, balancing on bamboo etc. In D&D terms maybe Superman is a fighter.


Just some thoughts and I would not add some of them to the core rules at all.


 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Boring Awesome is another option.  If the Wizard can murder half an encounter in one shot four times today, the fighter should be making hamburger out of one thing nearly every round.
1. Magic items. Maybe detested but this was the way things worked pre 3rd ed and it required DM fiat. Gadgets could also be used- Batman, Bond and Ironman could be fighters or multiclassed fighters.


Could theoretically work, but I personaly see 3 issues with it.

1.It only works if magic items are part of the class progression and/or the caster classes don't have access to magic items.
2.If it's not, it only works if the DM throws you magic items, and even then what you get is up to luck/the DM.
3.Usually, this means the Fighter gets better by getting stuff that lets him do Wizard stuff.

2. More mundane options that are powerful. Reroll abilities (advantage), extra hit points, defenses, ability to sever limbs/heads and puncture lungs like Jedi in SWSE are all mundane abilities that can be represented by in game mechanics. Higher ability scores have already been mentioned.


Could also work, but really boring.


3. Give them super natural abilities. 3.5 Dragonmarks and bloodline feats, 4th ed power feats and multiclass feats, SWSE force training etc. These let fighters gain supernatural abilities but not become spell casters. Maybe your dad was Zeus or Grazzt and on a fantasy world why not?


a supernatural Fighter could be one build. A "Badass Normal" Fighter like the one in 4e should also be another option.


4. Super heroic. Similar to 3 I suppose but with more or a comic book or wuxia focus. Fighters jumping to the moon, balancing on bamboo etc. In D&D terms maybe Superman is a fighter.


Again, something I wouldn't mind as a Fighter build, as long as I can make a "Badass Normal" Fighter as well.

1. I don't think forcing fighters to rely on magic items is the way to go. After all, casters can usually make their own anyway.

2.  Fighters already get most of the best weapons and armor, I'm not so sure if just giving them even more is the best plan. Plus, wounding rules can be tricky or difficult to explain, and is probably best as a module, and thus shouldn't be factored into balance.

3. This basically requires the fighter to spend all his feats on these extra sort of things (also, most of your examples could be taken by casters) and has the problem of not giving them anything in a game without feats

4. This would be making the fighter into a supernatural force, which many people seem rabidly opposed to. Even the warblade, which is more or less mundane, is seen as too supernatural, for whatever reason.

None of these are bad ideas, but I think the main problem stems from the fact of what a fighter is.

A Fighter is the best at fighting, or at least he's supposed to be. But the thing is that's all the fighter is good at. A Druid can turn into a bear to fight, and cast spells. A Cleric can use his mace to fight, and cast spells. A Rogue can backstab people in a fight, and pick locks. A Fighter can fight people very well in a fight, but not much outside of it.

I think this is the main problem. The idea that Fighters can fight, and only fight.
The difference between choosing an Encounter power that let's you do something cool and choosing a maneuver with your that lets you use expertise dice to do something cool is largely semantics.

The difference is feats could be used to take options other than powers.

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I can only go from my own experience but I felt the Book of 9 swords (and the way in which characters could recover maneuvers) was a great way to influence combat and give non-magical classes more "oomph" without resorting to magic spells or items. I do, however, completely understand that certain disciplines went overboard with the supernatural for their powers: namely the Desert Wind, Devoted Spirit, and Shadow Hand ones.

With 4E having so many powers that stay within the Realm of mundane but fancy, I don't see why these maneuvers couldn't be ported over to a D&D:next game? Do they need to be magical? No, not really. But I'd like the chance to some fantastic things that are better than using the Trip or Bull-Rush feat.
1. I don't think forcing fighters to rely on magic items is the way to go. After all, casters can usually make their own anyway.

2.  Fighters already get most of the best weapons and armor, I'm not so sure if just giving them even more is the best plan. Plus, wounding rules can be tricky or difficult to explain, and is probably best as a module, and thus shouldn't be factored into balance.

3. This basically requires the fighter to spend all his feats on these extra sort of things (also, most of your examples could be taken by casters) and has the problem of not giving them anything in a game without feats

4. This would be making the fighter into a supernatural force, which many people seem rabidly opposed to. Even the warblade, which is more or less mundane, is seen as too supernatural, for whatever reason.

None of these are bad ideas, but I think the main problem stems from the fact of what a fighter is.

A Fighter is the best at fighting, or at least he's supposed to be. But the thing is that's all the fighter is good at. A Druid can turn into a bear to fight, and cast spells. A Cleric can use his mace to fight, and cast spells. A Rogue can backstab people in a fight, and pick locks. A Fighter can fight people very well in a fight, but not much outside of it.

I think this is the main problem. The idea that Fighters can fight, and only fight.



 They have kind of gone back to the 2nd ed more skills for fighters compared to 3rd eds 2/level so they have moved a little bit. 

sultry I would not put that much supernatural feats in the core rules a handful at best. A feat that lets fighters gain dark vision maybe (outsider heritage?). 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Don't get me wrong. I love heritage and bloodline feats. I'm just saying that fighters aren't the only one's who can have strange parents. It's a good way to justify giving fighters supernatural abilities, but it shouldn't be relied upon as a balancing factor, is what I'm trying to get at, if that makes sense.
 I get what you are saying. It seems this time around though the mundanes will have more feats which at the minimum mean higher ability scores. If the bonus feats are similar to what a fighter got in 3.5 a fighter could have 20 str/dex and 20 con by level 8 or so. IDK if they will have a fighter/general feat list this time around. A SWSE soldeir taking force training also piskceked up 2 encounter powers with a 12 wisdom, 3 with 14 wis etc. If feats this time around are doing better things than +1 to hit they may be a decent substitute for spells or at least narrow the gap at higher elvels depending on how they end up doing spells. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

The Expertise Fighter from Packet 2 and Packet 3 was my ideal direction - Ironblue has been working on proceeding with that version of the class.

You can get a more "organic" and "realistic" feeling class with "build-your-own-power" maneuvers than with straight powers, while - if done well - still allowing the same options (and with less space!).

You don't need a power that (a) hits everyone nearby and (b) knocks them back; (c) knocks one target way back, and prone; (d) lets you immediately charge that opponent and attack him [an example "daily" from the Neverwinter MMO - because I have it open, and no actual books handy, and why not], if you have "built-your-own-power" maneuvers that let you do (a)(b)(c) and (d).


That said, I could probably start a thread about how much D&D's attempts to have "mundane" characters remain "mundane" and/or "realistic" at higher levels strains my suspension of disbelief, but I probably won't (because lazy, and don't you start all of the threads around here now, Zardnaar?).
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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.)
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You do raise a fair point, since all of the feats this edition are supposed be equivelent of +1 to a stat, a fighter's bonus feats will hopefully be spent more on useful things.

They will need to make sure to put a note somewhere for groups that don't use feats that a fighter should be getting bonuses to his stats for each bonus feat relative to everyone else though.
I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mixand match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.
"Fighters don't get nice things"

From what I've observed,  this issue seems to largely be a playgroup issue.  It appears to me that this problem is derivative of people disregarding the rules,  and then finding their game is broken.  Mages don't get access to every spell as soon as they gain a new spell level,  they have to find their spells,  or purchase them.  If "Mages get nice things" continuously,  then it appears to me that the playgroup has pretty much disregarded the fact that the Mage is just as depedent on the loot system for nice things as the Fighter,  and the DM is handing spell scrolls out left and right. 

It looks to me like what we have are playgroups handing out spells like candy,  instead of handing them out at the same rate as the Fighter is receiving magic items.  Nevermind the fact that some spells are and should be gated by material components,  which limit their use,  another rule playgroups commonly ignore and then wonder why their games is broken.

Compound this with the pretty routine event of playgroups playing magic incorrectly,  and letting parties rest every few minutes without consequence,  and you end up with the super-mages (Not counting CoDzilla who is a special case).

So honestly,  my opinion on the issue is that there is no problem with the fighter,  his progression,  or a need to make major changes to him,  the issue is educational.  I strongly suspect that if we were able to investigate,  we would find that most instances of "Fighters can't have nice things" track back to people ignoring a variety of rules around Mages.  In fact,  I strongly suspect that we'd find in our first ten minutes a good portion of these games are starting with a Mage Shop selling spells for 5gp apiece,  and offering every spell in the book.
I still think a way to go about it with the subclass system would be to introduce two pronged approach. First have a basic fighter that just has straight ability increases, damage increases, and some more generic athletic skills call him the warrior he/she can be the generic fighter.  Second create a collection of subclasses that are based off thematic fighter archetypes that use a collection of maneuvers and  a toolbox of generic combat abilities that use dice, in addition to some more specific skills/abilities for that type of fighter (Example, a Privateer might have some sailing know how and not take any movement penalty while fighting on a boat).

Ideally I think the maneuvers should consist of fighting style specific abilities that can each be used several times per combat. Think ToB minus the magical maneuvers.

The toolbox abilities should be at will abilities that give rider abilities to what could other wise be a basic attack. This would include more than just damage. Think bull rush, knock down, grapple,  pin.
I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mixand match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.


But they removed that design for a reason.
From reading the playtest feedback they discovered people weren't using the Expertise Dice for stunts. The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste. People were reluctant to use them. 

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I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mixand match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.


But they removed that design for a reason.
From reading the playtest feedback they discovered people weren't using the Expertise Dice for stunts. The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste. People were reluctant to use them. 



They could have easily left the stunt dice in and separated the damage dice out.
I made an account to post in this thread although i read a discussion similar to this in another recent thread here.

It would be a terrible shame to reduce the martial classes back to 2ed levels of complexity.  I'm fine with the complexity being modular and all that.  I think that's, in fact, a great idea, but the tactical aspect of 4th is quite compelling for many people and does not inherently detract from the core concept of the game.  To have some iconic classes/roles satisfy this desire and others fall short would be bad for the game.

Fighters need nice things.  They don't have to be as grand and epic as meteor swarms and time stops, but they should at least reach the level of cleaves, calculated thrusts, combined and paced feints with strikes, and status effects based on particular locations.
I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mixand match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.


But they removed that design for a reason.
From reading the playtest feedback they discovered people weren't using the Expertise Dice for stunts. The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste. People were reluctant to use them. 


Possibly because most of those people just like to DO MORE DAMAGE. I have usually witnessed players that like using fighters being hungry for anything to get to roll more damage dice. That is part of the allure, and a feature of the fighter. I suspect that is why the feedback would come back the way it did with people reserving expertise dice for DAMAGE.
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The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste.

Plus, you know, there's less likely to be an argument over whether or not a slime can get "dead".

Yeah.....I didnt play the Fighter that way at all. Doing MOAR damage was simply stupid when most successful attacks often came close to dropping the target anyways. Knocking back or prone helped set up combos with my companions. It also freed up my feats for fun stuff. Now im forced to take a specific feat to Bull Rush someone or Charge
I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mixand match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.


But they removed that design for a reason.
From reading the playtest feedback they discovered people weren't using the Expertise Dice for stunts. The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste. People were reluctant to use them. 


Possibly because most of those people just like to DO MORE DAMAGE. I have usually witnessed players that like using fighters being hungry for anything to get to roll more damage dice. That is part of the allure, and a feature of the fighter. I suspect that is why the feedback would come back the way it did with people reserving expertise dice for DAMAGE.


"Those people"?

Anyhoo, it's been remarked as far back as 3e that the best condition or status effect to impose on a creature is "dying". Damage speeds that up.

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The problem with the die in the older packets was that they were too efficient at damage, and highly inefficient for stunts. Furthermore they put the damage curve into the stratosphere.
The problem with the die in the older packets was that they were too efficient at damage, and highly inefficient for stunts. Furthermore they put the damage curve into the stratosphere.

Bingo. It's not that there's not a reasonable balance point between damage and Doing Something Interesting, it's that the packets with expertise dice didn't come even close to finding that balance point. On top of that, the incredibly high player damage to monster HP ratio meant that Doing Something Interesting to a monster was nearly always a waste of time, since the monster would often be dead before it would matter. If you can one-shot a creature, it's hard to justify not doing that and instead knocking it down.

I think that in general, D&D is a bit shy about how good you can make an "I really jack him up" move, if you're giving up damage for it. Any time you give up damage, you're accepting a certain percent chance that whoever you're hitting is going to live for an extra round because the extra damage would have killed them. The extra effect you're getting in exchange for giving up some damage needs to be comparably high-impact to an N% chance of the target getting an entire extra turn.

I think it's fine to err a bit on the side of "taking the extra damage is usually at least a fairly good option"; damage is fast to adjudicate, doesn't get forgotten, and makes combats end faster. (Giving up some of your damage in order to stifle an opponant's offensive capabilities almost definitionally makes the combat end slower - you gave up some of your offense to sap some of theirs.)
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I agree with Greatfrito, the older packet Fighter who could mix and match Expertise Die to do stunts and they could essentially build their own maneuvers was awesome.


But they removed that design for a reason.
From reading the playtest feedback they discovered people weren't using the Expertise Dice for stunts. The dice were to valuable for straight damage so using one to knock someone down seemed like a waste. People were reluctant to use them. 



Not picking on you personally, just using your post as a springboard.

It was amazing how some people suddenly discovered the importance of Balance when the fighter was doing things that overshadowed the wizard. And how quickly they've decided Balance doesn't matter any more, now that the fighter has been put back in it's place. 

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The easiest fix to the previous fighter packet was to remove the ability to increase damage via Expertise Die. That way they can still do unique and cool things and build their own combos
I was kind of thinking of something like panache points similar to the old expertise dice that let them do various things. Just haven't figured out at what rate they get them or how many.

 The basic idea is kind of like a spell point system for 4th ed encounter powers.  Beats me as to how to make it work or what to call it. Lopping someones head off requires more points than a bonus to hit. 

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I'll keep my 4th edition Fighters and Warlords. A crowning achievement for a simplified caster was the Elementalist from Heroes of Elemental Chaos.

The simple fighter and complex wizard should probably best stay in the past along with THAC0 and negative ACs.  The cat is out of the bag- we now know that some sacred cows can be slaughtered and have the game be the better for it.
I was kind of thinking of something like panache points similar to the old expertise dice that let them do various things. Just haven't figured out at what rate they get them or how many.

 The basic idea is kind of like a spell point system for 4th ed encounter powers.  Beats me as to how to make it work or what to call it. Lopping someones head off requires more points than a bonus to hit. 




Exalted takes a "Stunts" approach, where you can spend motes to get extra effects and regain them by describing the fancy trick you're using in an entertaining way. This of course leaves a lot to the GM. Also, some abilities take longer to recover from, thereby pushing you down the initiative order (though there's no real turn sequence in the D&D sense).

Pathfinder's Gunslinger class uses Grit, spending points to get special effects and regaining them on crits and kills. Though the effects are pretty crappy.

There are several games with attack sequences, where a series of moves lead up to a big "finisher". Rather than expend stamina, you have to run through the sequence to perform your big move rather than repeat it.

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Fighters could have nice things. All martial archetypes can actually. Perception seems to be paramount among the issues if I understand correctly.

Where does it come from? Why can't he perform suchandsuch attacks all the time?

Just call the source Martial, and have Martial be flavored as your campaign sees fit. Martial could be pushing the limits of mortal potential, it could be favor from some as-yet-unknown gods, or even the spirits of reincarnated mythic figures. To each campaign, its own.
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I agree with Gatt. If magic items are the nice things for the figthers, spells should (once again) become the magic items (or a big part of the magic item quotum if you will) of the wizard class. Maybe boring for some but I would also think that fighters should be able to profit more from weapons and ability score bonuses on combat compared to other classes; they've learned how to use everything they have in a combat. Capping ability bonuses for AC, to hit, damage hitpoint etc. to +2 far all but the fighter-classes might work. Also maybe allow the fighter to extra effects from equipment, extra AC or even DR from armor, a higher damage die for weapons (a longsword does 1d10 in the hand s of a fighter, 1d8 in the hands of a rogue).
Somewhere along the way, people started confusing non-magical with mundane. Fighters were never supposed to be mundane.
Somewhere along the way, people started confusing non-magical with mundane. Fighters were never supposed to be mundane.



+1

Punching a dragon in the face with a warhammer and walk out alive is not mundane
In fact,  I strongly suspect that we'd find in our first ten minutes a good portion of these games are starting with a Mage Shop selling spells for 5gp apiece,  and offering every spell in the book.

It's hilarious to me that you don't even understand the problem; furthermore, you're making assumptions about other people's campaign settings - why is it bad again that somebody wants to run a high-magic setting like Eberron? If a game requires a certain campaign setting to balance it out, that's poor game design.

Fighters need nice things.  They don't have to be as grand and epic as meteor swarms and time stops, but they should at least reach the level of cleaves, calculated thrusts, combined and paced feints with strikes, and status effects based on particular locations.

This is a logical point - however, it requires a maneuver system of some sort and some people really don't like that (as anything other than roll-a-d20-and-then-do-damage is too 'complex'). Sometimes, I really just wish they would balance the fighter around the game style that assumes modern game design, and let 2e/3e style games remain amazingly unbalanced (or put in the 'it sucks to use your class feature' limit on spells that 2e had - stuff like aging when casting haste, etc).

On top of that, the incredibly high player damage to monster HP ratio meant that Doing Something Interesting to a monster was nearly always a waste of time, since the monster would often be dead before it would matter. If you can one-shot a creature, it's hard to justify not doing that and instead knocking it down.

That's a big, big problem with the expertise dice and moreso "fast furious battles" in general. You always trade speed-of-battle with combat options; you have to find a balancing point in the middle where there is plenty of both to go around (and that is difficult).
Somewhere along the way, people started confusing non-magical with mundane. Fighters were never supposed to be mundane.

It puzzles me to no end when the moment the fighter can do something spectacular, immediate cries of "anime!" start going up - nevermind hercules, beowulf, perseus, and all the nuts things they did in stories.

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Somewhere along the way, people started confusing non-magical with mundane. Fighters were never supposed to be mundane.



+1

Punching a dragon in the face with a warhammer and walk out alive is not mundane




I don't think that is a confusion.  It most fantasy games mundane means nonmagical.  And it is great to play a class that can use mundane skills and abilities and beat the big bad magic using guy.

Oh and wizard is the big damage guy not the figher.  The wizard is the cannon.  He just can't keep it up for long.  The fighter will outpace the wizard over time.  That is just my humble opinion.

I also like a fighter with maneuvers like trip, disarm, stun, feint, etc.

I really think certain maneuvers should help setup for more powerful attacks.  That may be a solution to the "why do a maneuver" when my regular attack kills it faster.
When discussing mundane, game physics, or realism it must be consistently applied to martial and caster ability to set a baseline for the world. If both are created in the vacuum, or independently of each other, then the game starts to shows its warts, or incosistencies. Until you decide the baseline, the conversations on this or related topics will be all over the place.
When discussing mundane, game physics, or realism it must be consistently applied to martial and caster ability to set a baseline for the world. If both are created in the vacuum, or independently of each other, then the game starts to shows its warts, or incosistencies. Until you decide the baseline, the conversations on this or related topics will be all over the place.



What do you mean by consistant.  Classes can run off of different mechanics, different distribution systems, different resource and allocation systems.  You could even have one class that used hit points and another that does not.  So I don't get what you mean.

The same way that magic items are divided as common all the way to artifact could imo be applied to spells. Trying to keep spells balanced to each other across levels and keep the wizard balanced to the fighter will just end up making the wizard feel meh. Just make the truly powerful spells be a reward of their own and limit casters to being able to auto-learn common spells only (uncommon of their own school for specialist wizards). Same thing can be done for clerics imo; some prayers are only contained in specific prayer books or taught to a select few who have achieved something specific for their gods.
Another thing. Speed of battle can be balanced with combat options that shut down enemy actions. Caster spells must be interruptible in some manner; it was the major balancing point for wizards in 2E.
Boring Awesome is another option.  If the Wizard can murder half an encounter in one shot four times today, the fighter should be making hamburger out of one thing nearly every round.



This is 3e.  How many monsters have 350 hit points?

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Another thing. Speed of battle can be balanced with combat options that shut down enemy actions. Caster spells must be interruptible in some manner; it was the major balancing point for wizards in 2E.




While I agree, a negative mechanic like that will never fly in post-World of Warcraft big game companies. Like Hasbro.
Model something similar to the DCC fighter... get damage and manuevers.
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