4E, Defenders and the MMO mentality

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I specifically chose to put this topic in the optimization forum because I feel, by and large, the Optimization posters are typically smarter than the average forum bear, and because this issue pertains to the assumptions that we have when we look to design our party (specifically, our Defender) for optimal performance.

It occurs to me that we are NOT all on the same page with regard to how much damage the Defender should reasonably be expected to soak. Some among us seem to think that a Defender is very much like an MMO "tank." In other words, some of us feel that the Defender should be virtually the *only* guy taking hits.

This is ridiculous.

Why do people feel this way? There are a few reasons.

1) MMORPGSs. Massively Multiplayer games have created the convention of the "main tank." And because 4E has incorporated *some* of that convention into its concept of "Defender," people behave as if some = all.

2) Stupid DMs. Some DMs, either unimaginative or perhaps buying into the MMO mentality, utilize the "Dogpile DM" approach to handling monsters. They act is if monsters are obligated to stay on the Defender.

3) The Battlerager. I'm just going to say it: This Fighter build is broken down the middle. However, because it CAN take so much damage, it perpetuates the lie that D&D Defender = MMO main tank.

Do you see how this mentality affects the sort of builds you can use? If your DM is running an MMO, you're probably not going to get away with your Greataxe-wielding Great Weapon Fighter. And yet too often we're all arguing about what does/does not work without consideration for the environment in which build is intended to perform.

Myself, I'd like to see the MMO/Main-tank mindset killed once and for all. Intelligent monsters shouldn't dogpile on the tank. Rather, they should select targets based on a common sense threat vs. risk analysis. Easier-to-kill, high-threat targets (such as obvious strikers, like sorcerers) should be targeted long before harder-to-kill, low-threat targets (such as defenders.) Intelligent monsters should ALWAYS try to evade the defender. I will say it again: Intelligent monsters should ALWAYS TRY TO EVADE THE DEFENDER!

Particularly tough defenders (such as Battleragers) should actively discourage monsters from continuing to engage them. Why waste your time against a very tough, low-threat opponent when that squishy Invoker back there could wipe out half your crew? It doesn't make any sense.

Please, intelligent people, go forth and dispel the MMO mindset. Demand that your DMs make Defenders *work* for their stickiness. Open up new builds by removing the Defender's need to soak any and all damage. Lets all get on the same page of the discussion... and not have to base builds on ridiculous assumptions.

-Unmaker
I specifically chose to put this topic in the optimization forum because I feel, by and large, the Optimization posters are typically smarter than the average forum bear, and because this issue pertains to the assumptions that we have when we look to design our party (specifically, our Defender) for optimal performance.

It occurs to me that we are NOT all on the same page with regard to how much damage the Defender should reasonably be expected to soak. Some among us seem to think that a Defender is very much like an MMO "tank." In other words, some of us feel that the Defender should be virtually the *only* guy taking hits.

This is ridiculous.

Why do people feel this way? There are a few reasons.

1) MMORPGSs. Massively Multiplayer games have created the convention of the "main tank." And because 4E has incorporated *some* of that convention into its concept of "Defender," people behave as if some = all.

2) Stupid DMs. Some DMs, either unimaginative or perhaps buying into the MMO mentality, utilize the "Dogpile DM" approach to handling monsters. They act is if monsters are obligated to stay on the Defender.

3) The Battlerager. I'm just going to say it: This Fighter build is broken down the middle. However, because it CAN take so much damage, it perpetuates the lie that D&D Defender = MMO main tank.

Do you see how this mentality affects the sort of builds you can use? If your DM is running an MMO, you're probably not going to get away with your Greataxe-wielding Great Weapon Fighter. And yet too often we're all arguing about what does/does not work without consideration for the environment in which build is intended to perform.

Myself, I'd like to see the MMO/Main-tank mindset killed once and for all. Intelligent monsters shouldn't dogpile on the tank. Rather, they should select targets based on a common sense threat vs. risk analysis. Easier-to-kill, high-threat targets (such as obvious strikers, like sorcerers) should be targeted long before harder-to-kill, low-threat targets (such as defenders.) Intelligent monsters should ALWAYS try to evade the defender. I will say it again: Intelligent monsters should ALWAYS TRY TO EVADE THE DEFENDER!

Particularly tough defenders (such as Battleragers) should actively discourage monsters from continuing to engage them. Why waste your time against a very tough, low-threat opponent when that squishy Invoker back there could wipe out half your crew? It doesn't make any sense.

Please, intelligent people, go forth and dispel the MMO mindset. Demand that your DMs make Defenders *work* for their stickiness. Open up new builds by removing the Defender's need to soak any and all damage. Lets all get on the same page of the discussion... and not have to base builds on ridiculous assumptions.

-Unmaker

Ironically, I think the very reason you posted this here is the reason the CO forums may not be the appropriate place for it.

From what I can see, the CO board already operates under this assumption.

I see suggestions as to how to make your defender 'stickier' more often than how to make him more tough(though certainly, being CO, we see both approaches).
Ironically, I think the very reason you posted this here is the reason the CO forums may not be the appropriate place for it.

From what I can see, the CO board already operates under this assumption.

I see suggestions as to how to make your defender 'stickier' more often than how to make him more tough(though certainly, being CO, we see both approaches).

I guess it never occurred to me that I'd be preaching to the choir. I suppose I'm just used to posters frantically disagreeing with whatever I say, no matter how reasonable.

The thing is, I'm not sure which forum this topic is best suited for. It concerns Defenders, but the root of the problem is systemic. I want to address Defenders and DMs alike.

-Unmaker
Even in MMOs it isn't always a good idea to have every single monster hitting the main tank. I can think of several cases where I've healed groups in Warcraft, seen the tank was taking too much burst damage, asked another party member to help off-tanking, and completed the dungeon. In the same circumstances, I'd suspect groups with the mentality described by the OP would end up giving up half-way through, with moans about under-geared tanks (a common result in pick-up-groups). Even classes that wouldn't even be considered for main-tanking can off-tank effectively (e.g. rogues and shaman).

So the problem isn't MMO players themselves. The problem is stupid and uncreative MMO players, who have learnt one formula (tank + healer + 3 DPS) and never progessed to realising that it's a guideline, not a hard and fast rule.

However, having said that, a perfect tank would be very sticky, and would be able to take all the damage from every monster on the table. So of course that's what people on a character optimization board would post about.
So the problem isn't MMO players themselves. The problem is stupid and uncreative MMO players, who have learnt one formula (tank + healer + 3 DPS) and never progessed to realising that it's a guideline, not a hard and fast rule.

Just to be clear, I didn't intend to accuse MMO players as a whole. I myself have been an MMO-player since UO. My gripe has more to do with people apply their understanding of one paradigm... to another paradigm which, while similar, is not the same.

-Unmaker
Ah but I think the MMO-style main tank created mentallity can be killed by an MMO-gimmick that is a lot less gimmicky in D&D.

In WoW (since it's the 800 lbs gorilla in the room) you do have the main tank that takes all the damage...


...but not really, Crowd Control is (...was) an integral part of doing a dungeon/heroic/raid. The main tank was never supposed to actually tank everything. You lock down some ennemies while you tank engages the mob only he can "tank" for a while.

Even WoW saw that the

-one player to tank them all
-and back to the wall pull them

leitmotiv that was the initial raids was boring after a while. Some bosses where created to be "gimmick tanked" by a warlock, a mage or a Moonkin druid.

This can be done less gimmickly in D&D. You have monsters with damaging auras and high Will attacking powers...seems to me this monster can be "tanked by a Mage or Warlock or Laser Cleric way more efficiently.
Throwing artillery/controllers into the mix really makes it so your defender really can't just absorb everything. At that point they have to be able to take the blunt of the melee damage so everyone else can tank, no real way for them to tank that many spread out mobs.

That's where pretty much most of your non-defenders have to 'tank' per say. Many non-defenders are taking damage. The MMO CC could also be assigned to the controller role. Crowd Control ~ Controller sound pretty similiar to me.

It it's an entire melee fight, then your defender should be taking the blunt of the damage.

Majority of the time though marks alone have keep monsters wanting to attack the defender. When AC's can be very similiar in this system, why would a monster want to suffer penalties to attack and any extra side effect to have around the same chance of hitting a non-defender as hitting the defender himself?

I think the bigger problem here is people not wanting 'tanks' per say because D&D has really failed with them in the past. D&D really didn't have good ways for people to tank besides being engaged in melee, having high defenses, and doing lots of damage. Unless you got a creature in a 5 foot wide passage and did come one at a time, you really had no need for a tank because they weren't going to be able to keep people off of you. Then you look at how good hybrid 'tanks' were (3E Druid/Cleric) and how they were better than your normal 'tank', why would you ever really want one? It's like you have gone from an a game full of 'solo' characters in the past to a game full of 'team' characters now. I think that makes the game 100% better now, since there is such a large portion devoted to teamwork. But that's for another discussion.

As well I don't think the MMO mentality is new either in D&D. The best example I can think of is the 'healbot' Cleric of 3E. Tons of single target and aoe heals and buffs, links almost perfectly up with a healbot in MMOs.

Now that 4E finally has got it right with tanks, people are throwing a fit because MMOs have had the ideal of 'tanks' right for along time.
I wouldn't say this comes from MMO players. The job of the fighter has always been to take the damage so the squishy mages don't have to. The problem is, pre-4e, there was absolutely no mechanic that pushed monsters into going along with this(aside from just getting in their way, and that only worked with ground locked melee monsters). So, over the years, DMs have just gotten used to the sub-optimal approach of having the monsters attack the fighters first, whether justified or not(and in the older editions of D&D, it most certianly was -not- justified).
It it's an entire melee fight, then your defender should be taking the blunt of the damage.

Yes, Defenders should TRY to take the brunt of the melee damage, but note that "brunt" does not equate to all, and note that I said TRY. Monsters should attempt to evade the Defender... rather than behaving as if they are obligated to attack him.

-Unmaker
It occurs to me that we are NOT all on the same page with regard to how much damage the Defender should reasonably be expected to soak. Some among us seem to think that a Defender is very much like an MMO "tank." In other words, some of us feel that the Defender should be virtually the *only* guy taking hits.

This is ridiculous.

I've never heard this and it sounds like you're referring to a very specific couple of posts. It may even be a misunderstanding.

A defender is performing his role when he takes a hit in the place of his team mates. This does not mean it is the only possible way to fulfill his role. This does not mean he must always do this, and insisting otherwise just seems artificial. No one's the authority of what qualifies as necessary or definitive. This is another case of trying to insert laws into what is essentially a guideline.

I'm gonna have to agree with AlphatheGreat - this is a lot more about game design and personal preferences, rather than specific optimization.
I've never heard this and it sounds like you're referring to a very specific couple of posts. It may even be a misunderstanding.

No, I'm not referring to a specific set of posts. No, this is not based on a misunderstanding. This is a systemic observation of 4E as it is played, discussed and understood by actual players, as informed by my 32 years of experience playing D&D. You obviously suppose this is a narrow issue. It isn't.

A defender is performing his role when he takes a hit in the place of his team mates. This does not mean it is the only possible way to fulfill his role. This does not mean he must always do this, and insisting otherwise just seems artificial.

I don't see your point. I don't talk about Defender methodology at all. My point has more to do with how DMs control monsters... and how that, in turn, compels different styles of play.

No one's the authority of what qualifies as necessary or definitive. This is another case of trying to insert laws into what is essentially a guideline.

I made no laws. I proposed no rules. I referred to no guideline. The only thing I proposed is an application of common sense.

I'm gonna have to agree with AlphatheGreat - this is a lot more about game design and personal preferences, rather than specific optimization.

I don't think you understood what AlphatheGreat actually said.

-Unmaker
I agree somewhat with Unmaker. How the DM controls and use monsters though is always going to be based around the DM's ability to play (good example is when people believe Dragons in 4E are weak). As a monster, it really depends on how smart they are really and how they think. In general I believe monsters think:

If a monster is not mark, then of course I'm going to want to attack the person who is either closest and looks the squishiest because i'm a monster rawr I want food. If i'm smarter than i'm going to use tactics with others to get the job done.

If a monster is marked, then the monsters ability to roam freely has been hampered. Some monsters may be dumb, but why would anyone want a free sword to the face if they could prevent it? So my best course of action is to kill that person who is marking me quicker than I can freely go about my business once again and kill things even quicker.

If a monster is marked and at a stalemate with someone or ignored for the most part, then adventually he's going to go away even if he has to suffer that one time hit if he knows he will get to someone that is hampering his ability to kill that defender.

Monsters should operate the same way to a certain degree that PCs work. A player usually wants the least amount of free attacks and damage on him because "hey, that hurts"! The same theory should work for monsters.
I run 2 different games once a week. And I play in LFR. I see exactly what your talking about.

In LFR its VERY VERY rare that an attack goes for anyone but the tank (even for a monster that isn't marked!). And when it does its usually along the lines of "Oh i guess this guy will run over to the dude back there and take a swing." in that bs effort of making the other player feel involved.

In my home games I drove the point home about how the defender can't take it all. One of the first fights they did (started at 4?) was in a "maze" styled arena. When they ran into the first group of monsters (2 displacer beast and a controller eladrin out of the MM can't remember his name) the warrior did his thing and charged up right away passing attack on the displacers to mark them. The team decided to focus fire on one dispalcer beast (only got it to about bloodied (i was rolling really well for him). Then the eladrin went and teleported the fighter to another part of the maze where it would take him roughly 2 turns of running to get back into the action. Immediatly one player through a hissy fit about how they were going to die without a "tank" and i swear was ready to walk out but another player convinced him to chill.

Next round the wizard (staff) double moved to the front lines popped an AP layed out a color spray. One of the displacer beast was missed and it ran through the party (all casters) and went to intercept the fighter. The fight took another few rounds and ran the cleric out of heals and the bow ranger actually dropped. Eventually they managed to drop everything.

At the end of the session the player who had initially thrown a hissy fit (hardcore min maxer) told me that he really enjoyed it and wanted to re roll so that his charater could do more then roll damage. He ended up making an artful dodger rogue MC Warlock. Allowing him to eyebit people blocking his path to the guys in the back he needs to get at (drow so he can give himself CA). And has picked up the staple as the parties "second defender".

Honestly i beleive that characterOP boards/Wotc/MMO/DMs are equal to blame for these harsh stereotypes.

WotC made a choice to designate roles in thier books people REALLY harp on this a "A defender shoudln't do more damage then a striker!" "A striker shouldn't have more AC then a defender!" "What defines a controller?" "Are all leaders just heal bots?"

MMOs really started the trend and lets face it MMOs as a whole are EVERYWHERE everyone is familiar with the formula. I've also seen MMO mentality leak over into some game/monster designs without regaurds for how the mechanics are different.

Stuff like the boss to every dungeon being a super strong solo and having a aura 5 does 20 necrotic damage at the start of anyones turn who is in the aura.... and they put in him in a 10x10 room. Of course he has a retarded +hit and damage mod. When you ask the guy who made the monster how the party is suppose to live through it and he responds "well the healer just has to heal through it its a dps race." I just want to smack em. (think this was designed to fight a party of level 10s)

And so now people go online and they go OH i want to be awesome what do i do? They run to charater OP cause lets face everyone wants to be awesome. And they are immediatly faced with builds of charaters novaing for absurd damage and it drives the point home even harder.

If i want to be the best dpr i need to play a stormwarden
If i want to be the best tank i need to be a battlerager
If i want to be a tank that does damage i need to be a tempest fighter
If i have channel divinity i must take RRoT

For each of these builds i need to play this race to qualify for these feats because they are the best.

On and on till you've got a crowd of dnd players with so many cookie cutter charater you'd think your playing EQ (pre luclin). And with as much imagination for charater design and concepts for dungeon... just plain old creativity as a pat in scarlet monestary.

Its really noticable when you see the difference between people who are about ... 30+ years old and kids of 20 and younger. And how differently there approach to the game is.

FYI i'm not bashing anyone playing how they want to play. Have fun number crunch away or do nothing but talk in charater for 6 hours straight. But i dig where the OP is coming from.


I blame it on the extreme mentalty more than anything. The point i was getting at with charaters making the best DPR charaters ect is that it leads players away from building charaters capable of filling holes (taking a hit when your party needs you too or being able to cast that spare heal). And thus leads on the MMO mentality ... well if no one else is capable fo taking a hit ... i have to take them all.
I guess it never occurred to me that I'd be preaching to the choir. I suppose I'm just used to posters frantically disagreeing with whatever I say, no matter how reasonable.

The thing is, I'm not sure which forum this topic is best suited for. It concerns Defenders, but the root of the problem is systemic. I want to address Defenders and DMs alike.

-Unmaker

I think perhaps the DM forum is the best place, it seems like the problem you're describing has many of its roots in "bad" combat DMing.

A few other reflections/questions:
  • I've never before heard of or run into this problem. Could it be age related (as in older players/group members usually play less MMOs)?
  • Neither MMOs in general or WoW created the "tank" concept, I'd say wargames (and D&D) did long before MMOs existed. Strange that MMOs seem to have so vigourosly adapted this concept that they now make D&D groups have false notions of how party roles "should" be defined/attacked.
  • Isn't this more a question of some DMs lacking tactical insight to provide the challenge an encounter with intelligent monsters should be, ie it's not so much a question of MMO "bias" and strange preconceptions?
  • I really do hate preconceptions like this. Some people needs to be reminded that WoW is a VERY limited and simplified version of a PnP RPG and the only thing it shares with D&D is that it also has a (different) fantasy setting. Its a bit like people thinking things like: "In fantasy, there's orcs and elfs. And magicians that have staffs and pointy hats. That's fantasy."
Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
The job of a defender isn't to take damage at all -- the job of a defender is to prevent other people from taking damage. A defender is effective in his role if he (a) actually prevents monsters from attacking his teammates, and (b) can survive doing so.
I think the problem here is the optimization of the classes, so if i am an striker i have to do tons of damage, if i am a defender i have to resist 100 mobs ... If you not optimize your character is not good for the party. I think is a problem mainly of WOTC, they create the classes most of then so they can only go one way to feel useful, i think with new books and new feats powers .. this can be changed, but for now only few classes have customization to create your character.

I like my class the swordmage, but i can be a defender an only a defender, my powers dont do damage, my aoe arent very good compared to stances of the fighter...


I hope this will change with new books.

Regards Dara
Another important thing to keep in mind is that since a person (the dungeon master) is playing the enemies, and they're often intelligent, at least to a degree, there's no program to which you must respond and exploit. So you can just as often have the enemies try to tank YOU and take out the threats in your group systematically.

This means that everybody has to be able to handle hits, do some damage, have some control/survival abilities. Or the party has to be balanced in such a way that one-trick ponies effectively become cogs in a powerful machine. At that point, it's the DM's job to run interference and throw encounters at you that will challenge your party make-up.

That's why I like polearm fighters, sword'n'board fighters, and swordmages, all of whom have distinct control abilities that impact tactics. They end up being the best at stepping in and screwing with the enemy's plan. It's not just a threat of some damage, it's the ability to physically move, incapacitate, or otherwise lock down a target at the right time.

I think the round-to-round power of a character is sometimes overvalued in respect to the the impact of timely abilities. Who cares if people other than the defender get wailed on? They have hit points and defenses, too. What matters is that the defender can step in and prevent serious threats and keep the enemies from interfering with the squishies' jobs. And I think the character optimization boards around here bounce around amongst one-trick ponies and characters that simply get the job done without question. And that's the way it should be. Both have their place, depending on your party and game.
I played a maintank prot pally in endgame WoW, albeit months behind most guilds' progression, as I was a casual player. I think it's easy for people to assume that mobs just run at the tank in a game like wow. However, the threat mechanics make enemies attack the person with the most aggro - which will usually be either the person doing the most damage to that target or the healer, unless the tank actively generates threat or taunts the target. Stickiness is definitely an issue in WoW.

If a similar algorithm to the wow aggro mechanics was made for 4e (possibly using some kind of cost/benefit analysis involving expected damage dealt, and damage prevented/provoked), the monsters probably would attack the strikers, controllers or leaders, rather than the defender - unless the defender disincentivised this with marks and other class features/powers. So, if it worked like wow, I don't think it would be too different. Tanks would have to work for aggro, but if they did their job right, they should be able to keep enemies attacking them.

I think that the reason that monsters so often go straight for the tank is that the DM in question doesn't consider the costs and benefits from the enemy's point of view at all, not that they try to apply wow-like assumptions to D&D.
I think that the reason that monsters so often go straight for the tank is that the DM in question doesn't consider the costs and benefits from the enemy's point of view at all, not that they try to apply wow-like assumptions to D&D.

Yeah, it's simply bad DMing. I've seen players surprised, yes surprised, when mobs took damage from defenders to go after the strikers killing them. Why this would surprise anyone is beyond me. It obviously was in the devs plan as combat challenge and a chaladin's DC actually can hurt at some levels.
I made no laws. I proposed no rules. I referred to no guideline. The only thing I proposed is an application of common sense.

Sure you did. Right in the original post: "Intelligent monsters should ALWAYS TRY TO EVADE THE DEFENDER!"

Which is nonsense, by the way...

I'd agree that I see some DMs that are a bit too intent on beating up the Defender. That's probably due to the fact that the Defender actually has the tools to do their job now. A DM that fully ignores the Defender on a regular basis is usually doubling the Defender's damage output or worse, which tends to turn them into a freakish super-Striker. (At least in the common case of the Fighter)

Add to this the fact that many monster teams have elements of their 'party' that are worth protecting as well, and what you proposed (in all caps no less) is equivalent to suicide.

In more general terms I agree with you. I see some DMs that are focused too much on beating up Defenders. When you make foolishly overgeneralized statements like the one above, though, you've lost me.

Know what does work the best on most Defenders I've seen? Give them something that's both durable and scary-looking to trade blows with that's out of the way. THEN go for the rest of the party. Even that isn't a hard and fast rule anymore, though.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
This has nothing to do with mentality or perception and has to do with mathematical fact so here goes....

Ever since Gygax invented the hit point game combat has revolved around 2 things.

a) Making hit points go up and (healing)
b) making hit points go down. (damage)

That is it. The various games you've played whether computer or role playing that rely on some sort of health pool/ life point system follow this paradigm. Everything from Counterstrike to that number on your character sheet all represent the same thing.

Of course if this were the only case the game would be boring. All you'd do is make sure your stats are superior so that in any given situation your health pool remains while the enemy is reduced to zero. Imagine the cardgame War except you get to just choose a card from the deck and make that your permanent card you throw. The result when you flip your card over and show your opponent BOTH of you would have Aces. Very boring. It wouldn't even qualify as a game.

The final property is as follows

C) Change the size, resilience, and efficacy of the health pool.

This adds the final elements required for meaningful gameplay. This property results in the defender and controller role and is the most complex and least understood property but ultimately makes it a true game.

Most people however only understand primary roles of A) and B) since they are the most tangible and rewarding from a gameplay perspective. Mitigating/causeing damage via buffs, movement, and taking hits for teamates is much harder to quantify.

So to answer the question; As long as a hit point/ life pool/ health pool system is being used then tanks and defenders are all the same regardless of the game. This is not a problem. It is required for good, complex gameplay.
Just to get that out of the way, the only MMORPG I ever played is Runescape and it doesn't have the D&D 4th ed style roles at all. I really don't get what this "OMG WoW is the only MMORPG out there" talk is about. Get your head out of the sand. And I'm pretty sure we've established now that the roles in D&D and WoW are a cooccurrence, and not necessarily causally linked. Now if all the smart people here on the board would get that.
If not, the dumb but easy solution is just to shut up about WoW and concentrate on D&D.

- - -

Back to topic: If all the monsters stockpile on the defender it's the DMs fault. Or maybe not his fault. If the defender is dualwielding and brashstriking and his AC is in the dumps it's actually smart to pile up on him and take him out first. Of course, it's even smarter to take him out with a controller.

There are several layers here:

* The natural intelligence of the monster. A Gelatinous Cube moves to the next fleshthing it notices and tries to devour it. Kobolds notice the PCs, stay in hiding, prepare an ambush, flee if losing. A bunch of hungry Orc savages just attack whoever looks toughest. Orc mercenaries, lead by a veteran, will have a much better grasp of tactical situations, and will try to isolate defenders and artillery, protect their leader etc.

* The tactical skill of the DM. Not every DM spends weekends on the D&D boards, thinking about battle tactics. Some just enjoy a good, casual game. You can't ask of every DM to play like he's a Sun Tzu incarnation. Cut DMs some slack.

* DMs need to get used to shizophrenia:
- For a campaign, they are supposed to be on the heroes side, and plan events that make them saviours or the world.
- As rules arbitor, they are supposed to be neutral, and neither tip the game towards himself or to the players
- When they play monsters on the battlefield, they are supposed to be against the players, and use every bit of tactical skill to defeat them
These contradictions are hard to grasp if you're not a seasoned DM with 10+ gaming years. You'll understand at some point, but it's not obvious and nowhere clearly stated. That is why I think new GMs might feel they always have to be neutral, and they don't play the monsters at full tactical intelligence because they would feel that this is unfair.

All of this can be pretty frustrating if you're a veteran player who enjoys tactical challenges. But you're not alone at the table, and your way of playing the game is not the only one.
The defender should not take all damage. At the end of the day all surges in the party should be exhausted. To let the sorceror, wizard and warlock soak damage greatly adds to the endurance of the whole party. That the defender takes less damage from attacks is no reason not to use all the party's resources.

If the mobs only hit the defender it is the softies job just to tempt them away, and not get killed in the process.
Just a quick note, if you'll indulge me.

In Everquest I tanked for two years, in World of Warcraft I tanked for two as well.

I learned D&D in December of 2008.

There is no way in hell this fighter is a main-tank, he's not nearly as tough as the tanks from either of those two games. If anybody's got the mentality that the defenders in D&D are anything similar but in name to the tanks of big MMOs, they've clearly never had to be those tanks!

In WoW I pressed a button and an enemy moved half speed, never missed, rarely resisted outside of the raids. That doesn't exist in D&D, you have to try harder as a defender to not only make yourself a proper target for tactically intelligent monsters, but you have to bring your powers to bear in such a way that those intelligent monsters can't ignore you.

Keep your leader buddy at your side and keep moving! It's a whole different game!

I've been playing a Paladin since January. I like it. This new tankery amuses me. I took 110+ damage in a single encounter at Level 3 and stayed up with the expense of every single healing ability in our group, it was singularly amazing.

The big challenge for me as an ex-online RPG player is dragging all those 3rd edition jerks out of the mindset that when they hear a guy like me use the word "tank" or "more dots!" during combat it doesn't render me some kind of slobbering mmo-tard with the mental agility of a legless elephant.

Sunder, sunder, sunder, shield block, riposte, sunder, sunder...
If all the monsters are focussing on the defender, you're doing a lot of things wrong as a DM. also, your combat setup likely sucks, as many monsters are specifically designed to bypass the defender! (lurkers, skirmishers, artillery)

not only is it the most inefficient way to deal with a group, it's also boring.


so: if a DM does this on purpose, he's doing it wrong. However, if the group forces the DM to act so by intelligent tactics (block the passages with defenders and hide behind), it's what they wanted. we have 2 defenders in our current group, but the wizard and warlord stand in front about as much as the 2 big guys in plate. only the ranger has to be somewhere back... but even he goes up to shoot point blank in the fray, mostly to trigger divine challenges on OA. We have around 40 surges in our group. It would be a very bad sign if some characters are entirely depleted and others are still full.
Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.
CUT...
targeted long before harder-to-kill, low-threat targets (such as defenders.)

Hi Unmaker.
A Defender IS NOT a low-threat target.
Imo the fighter IS a very good defender: He can mark the target and punish those who ignore him.
A guardian fighter can focus on pushing away the enemy from squishies warlocks.

A paladin is an hard to ignore defender because of their 3+CHA radiant damage (at low level) for their mark

The warden is a perfect defender,try read his at-will powers.
The defender's power are meant to make defender a high-priority target.

The reason of your feeling is because it is ALMOST impossible to ignore a defender on the battlefield.
Any foe who is dealing with a good defender can attack a warlock or a wizard at his own risk.
A couple of interesting facets of Dming worth pointing out are:

- Sometimes when you have inexperienced players or when you have uneven leveled party compositions measuring the capability of the monsters in the encounter can be a little tricky. Many times playing the monsters to the full capacity of their intelligence can lead to the death or major crippling of the party, which can lead to overall less "fun" for the entire session (especially if you don't play very often, going back to town and resurrecting a character can be very time consuming).

The reason I am mentioning this is that sort of -fixing ^^- a few rolls behind the dm screen the only way to balance the encounter is playing the monsters in a more narrow minded way.

That can mean staying on the marking tank all of the time (I wouldn't go as far as attacking the tank right of the bat) or the more gray area of never performing coup de grace cause "the monster would prefer to finish moving targets first"

Ofc you can argue that "its more fun to be realistic than winning even if the party dies", or "make sure you balance your encounters more" - both valid points, but nothing is set in stone, it all depends on a lot of things including mood or other things you wanna get done on that day etc.
I think the symptom is not so much "the defender (tank) draws attacks to themselves" but "every attack is aimed at the one in front". You don't have PC 1 fighting monster 1, PC 2 fighting monster 2, etc.- you have all the PCs fighting monster 1, or at least trying to. And I think three things contribute to this:

First, the "allies don't grant cover to enemies" exception- its easier to hit the one on the front line unless there is a major gap in defense numbers.

Second, rangers and warlocks (the premier ranged strikers) are limited to quarrying/cursing the closest enemy.

And third, monsters simply have too many hit points- the only way they go down before they have a chance to kill you is to pound on them with two or three attackers.
That's Someone, with a capital S. "Cat's out of the bag on that one, isn't it? Who puts cats in bags, anyway? Cats hate bags." -Sheogorath, Oblivion
Just a quick note, if you'll indulge me.

In Everquest I tanked for two years, in World of Warcraft I tanked for two as well.

I learned D&D in December of 2008.

There is no way in hell this fighter is a main-tank, he's not nearly as tough as the tanks from either of those two games. If anybody's got the mentality that the defenders in D&D are anything similar but in name to the tanks of big MMOs, they've clearly never had to be those tanks!

In WoW I pressed a button and an enemy moved half speed, never missed, rarely resisted outside of the raids. That doesn't exist in D&D, you have to try harder as a defender to not only make yourself a proper target for tactically intelligent monsters, but you have to bring your powers to bear in such a way that those intelligent monsters can't ignore you.

Keep your leader buddy at your side and keep moving! It's a whole different game!

I've been playing a Paladin since January. I like it. This new tankery amuses me. I took 110+ damage in a single encounter at Level 3 and stayed up with the expense of every single healing ability in our group, it was singularly amazing.

The big challenge for me as an ex-online RPG player is dragging all those 3rd edition jerks out of the mindset that when they hear a guy like me use the word "tank" or "more dots!" during combat it doesn't render me some kind of slobbering mmo-tard with the mental agility of a legless elephant.

Sunder, sunder, sunder, shield block, riposte, sunder, sunder...

Having played many MMOs, and, I'll admit it, having been MT, MH and high end dps in almost every instance except pre-TBC in WoW I have to say, there is something amusing about how players somehow think that a kobold with a bow is going to want to shoot at a fighter in the suprise round, when the dude behind him is wearing a dress.

I completely agree. It's pretty ridiculous.

Monsters should attempt to evade the Defender... rather than behaving as if they are obligated to attack him. -Unmaker


And why is that so?

Do you honestly think even the least low-intelligence critter is able to distinguish between a Defender Type Character and a Striker? I think there is a huge variety on how creatures can (re-)act in a fight against the hero-party.

Some may attack the char, who is the nearest to them. Others may attack the hero, who they see as the biggest threat to them. And others may go after the "smallest in size" char. Some creatures may switch their target during the fight all of a sudden, because maybe one striker did more damage to them than another.

There are tons of possibilities. The verification/validation for being a good DM is not for letting creatures avoid the "tank", but to let creatures (re-)act properly, while still keeping the fights interesting, of course.

Also letting creatures (re-)act in their certain ways helps players to create specific tactics.
One of my minor crusades is to promote the idea that incoming enemy damage should be distributed among the party members when possible.  If it's not, then that's a lot of healing surges going to waste per day.

This requires a behavioral change on behalf of the typical party; specifically, the non-Defenders.  Probably not so much on the melee Strikers and melee Leaders, but perhaps a bit.

Just because the Defender usually has the biggest bucket of HPs, the best surge count, and some of the best defenses doesn't mean that wizard lurking in the hallway shouldn't still get his rear into the room and take a few hits.   Be a man!  You're not as glassy of a cannon as you used to be.  Spend some of your surges too so the party's workday isn't bottlenecked exclusively by how fast the Defender's surges are depleted.

Previously it'd be a matter of the cleric deciding when the adventuring day is done.  "I'm out of heals, guys, time to go rest."  The wizard might get antsy when he's down to only a few niche spells and his sling, but ultimately it was your healer's spell supply that told you when to go clock out.

Now it's different.  Now everyone is their own walking healing battery.  Now everyone is 100% healed when they wake up from an extended rest, and you don' t have to worry about burning healing spells first thing in the morning.  Now you wake up and you don't need to stop pressing onward until someone gets awfully close to zero surges.

Therefore, the trick is to try to distribute the battle damage to where ideally everyone gets down to running on fumes at the about the same time.

So why hoard your surges, squishies?  Get up in there!  Earn more milestones per day!  Besides, chicks dig scars.

Player Hat: There's more than one way to defend a party. A 4E defender can push the envelope of his role, with high punishment and high survivability, and approach near-WoW level tanking. Or you can back off of one or the other aspect for things like mobility, enemy positioning or even near-striker DPS on your attacks.

I resent the OP's implication that defenders shouldn't try to be MMO tanks, because that is EXACTLY what my paladin does and she's damn good at it. My motto is "every time the monsters swing at me I win." It works because unlike most PC's, I layer every type of damage mitigation (damage reduction, temporary hit points, high hit points, high defenses and self healing) and pair it with pushing the envelope on my punishment mechanics as well. I do almost trivial damage on my standard actions, but I keep the rest of the team safe to do whatever they need to do to drop the monsters.

I've seen a lot of other defenders and they take different approaches. They work just fine too. The defender "role" is broad enough to accommodate different playstyles, which is part of what makes 4E fun.

DM Hat: As a DM I make defenders earn their paycheck. If a monster isn't marked, it's going to need a damn compelling reason to attack the defender. Now that's not a blind approach...the afformentioned damn compelling reason does come up often enough, but unless a monster is literally mindless (some undead, jellies, etc...) they avoid defenders. I refuse to listen to arguments about low INT monsters, because prowess should be measured by Wisdom, not Intelligence. One of the silliest arguments I've ever heard was that wolves weren't intelligent enough to move into a flank.
To me, if I don't do that as a DM, I'm invalidating all the work defenders do to make themselves sticky.
One of the silliest arguments I've ever heard was that wolves weren't intelligent enough to move into a flank.



"Clever girl. . ."
DMs need to get used to shizophrenia:
- For a campaign, they are supposed to be on the heroes side, and plan events that make them saviours or the world.
- As rules arbitor, they are supposed to be neutral, and neither tip the game towards himself or to the players
- When they play monsters on the battlefield, they are supposed to be against the players, and use every bit of tactical skill to defeat them.

These contradictions are hard to grasp if you're not a seasoned DM with 10+ gaming years. You'll understand at some point, but it's not obvious and nowhere clearly stated.



Well said.

The more it was earned, the sweeter the victory.




DM Hat:  I refuse to listen to arguments about low INT monsters, because prowess should be measured by Wisdom, not Intelligence. One of the silliest arguments I've ever heard was that wolves weren't intelligent enough to move into a flank.
To me, if I don't do that as a DM, I'm invalidating all the work defenders do to make themselves sticky.



Actually tactical approach and strategy is a matter of Intelligence. Wisdom - as in this game - is an Assessment for perception and life experiences (Insight), but still can influence the topic.

However Intelligence is neccessary. Wolves' hunting tactics are instinctive and therefore predictable.

And now take a good look at the mentioned MMORPG Players.

Have you ever participated in PvP Battlegrounds in WoW?
There are a lot of humans out there - yes, humans, and  a LOT - in this case players, who
have no idea about tactics. They keep hacking and shooting upon the warrior in front,
while the priest/druid/paladin/shaman resides unharmed at a backward position and healing up the warrior while being unattended and often even unnoticed. And that's only one of the many occuring mistakes they make, especially Alliance players.

If even human players lack the logic to flank the healer first in an MMORPG,
why shouldn't some NPCs in a PnP RPG lack that knowledge from time to time either?

Take a good look at those MMORPG players in PVP, who play with no tactical behavior
- and there are many of those - and ask yourself if everyone, who is armed really has a clue about fighting and tactics.

To cut a long story short, Imho NPCs also can act as dumb as PCs can do, may it be in a PnPRPG
or MMORPG. Why should NPCs especially critters be more intelligent than PCs?
Why should NPCs be more intelligent than PCs anyway?
Maybe more of a philosophical question...
Personally I don't see what all the complaining is about. The god mage character was killed off in 4E. There is no reason to think that the monsters will instinctively bypass defendrs to get at other characters in a fight unless said monsters have had experience in fights before. Because you as a player or DM understand what certain classes are capable of that knowledge does not translate to most monsters unless said monsters have a familarity with pc powers. Liches and vampires would certainly qualify. Orcs would not.  In most fights you fight the people running at you. You don't try to run around them and fight others unless there is a compelling reason to do so. I would be much more worried about some brute with a huge axe storming after me than some old man in his bathrobe. Events during the battle may change  priorities but that happens as the combat unfolds. So man (or dwarf, elf, grimlock, etc.) up and do your job by protecting others. It is what you are there for. If you want to do mad dps and not get hit then play a bow ranger or a crossbow rogue.
Personally I don't see what all the complaining is about. The god mage character was killed off in 4E. There is no reason to think that the monsters will instinctively bypass defendrs to get at other characters in a fight unless said monsters have had experience in fights before. Because you as a player or DM understand what certain classes are capable of that knowledge does not translate to most monsters unless said monsters have a familarity with pc powers. Liches and vampires would certainly qualify. Orcs would not.  In most fights you fight the people running at you. You don't try to run around them and fight others unless there is a compelling reason to do so. I would be much more worried about some brute with a huge axe storming after me than some old man in his bathrobe. Events during the battle may change  priorities but that happens as the combat unfolds. So man (or dwarf, elf, grimlock, etc.) up and do your job by protecting others. It is what you are there for. If you want to do mad dps and not get hit then play a bow ranger or a crossbow rogue.



Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
If this thread is dead why bother to post a reply to me?

Yes I do play MMO's but I have played tabletop RPG's long before MMO's were even a dream. The role of the fighter and all fighter subclasses has always been to protect other party members. The only exception was when magic-users became powerful at the high levels did DM's try to get around fighters to go after robe wearers. If you don't like taking hits then don't play a defender and go hide in the back. Defender powers are set up for them to attract the attention. So MAN UP and quit complaining about it. Seriously, before 4E all fighters complained about was that they were not a threat and how monsters tried not to engage them. Now that they do in 4E and the OP is complaining about it? Whatever....
The orginal player was complaining about it three years ago. Strangely enough things have changed since then and the fighter can now be anything from a super-sticky tank (e.g. SuperDuperKnight) to a grab-and-never-let go (e.g. Beowolf, Master of Grabs) to a very good dpr charger (there is no famous build for it but it is easy to do with all their multitarget charge powers).
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Besides, even in the original post there wasn't the complaint the defender should not take any damage, the complaint was he should not take ALL damage.