A list of ideas for 4E

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Here is a list of thoughts that I have for directions to go with 4e. I posted it in the '4e rules' thread, but they got lost among a bunch of other topics. I was really hoping to see what people thought of them and get you all to discuss your own thoughts as they relate to them. Now that we can make our own smaller threads, I'm starting this one just to get feedback without competing with a million other topics.

I'd really like to hear feedback.

So here are my thoughts in no particular order:

1) Electronic tools to help make stats for wildshape (and polymorph) would be great, as well as tools to advance and template monsters like animal companions. If you could offer electronic support (and strong rules support in general) for intelligent ( i.e.awakened) animals to take classes, that would be fantastic. If it's not in the core books, then maybe as part of a Savage Species or Complete Nature supplement. Intelligent animals are such a rich area for storytelling.

2) What exactly is the rules benefit of divine vs. arcane magic? As more arcane classes are able to cast with different types of armor, perhaps "divine" casters can simply be brought into that system. That way, nobody argues "but a bard is arcane, and he casts Cure spells, so why can't there be more arcane casters that can heal?" Also, it would make more sense when dragons start mixing spells from the cleric list into the sorcerer spells. The flavor of the different casters can all be extremely different, and the wizard, sorcerer, cleric, druid (psion, etc.) can all feel completely different as far as storytelling.

3) Arcane spell failure would be better as a skill check rather than a percentage. That way some characters could seriously practice casting in heavier armor, while others eschew armor and develop in other ways. I'm sure you'd want to allow casters to take 10 on easier checks, since nobody wants to roll every time they cast a spell. Also, if a caster is unable to cast the spell, allow the spell not to be wasted. Instead, the action is wasted, and that's bad enough.

4) My feeling is that clerics should have a less martial feel to them. I give my clerics 3 skill points per level and only medium armor. I like that approach to clerics better, since it makes them focus more on their jobs as clerics rather than highly trained soldiers who *also* have divine capabilities. Clearly they are still fairly physically capable individuals.

5) I'll echo the sentiments that Vancian casting is not worth the trouble. I think that change is already in progress, so take my thanks.

6) I feel that half-races don't need to be core. There can be rules for making any half-race, and half-elf and half-orc can be given as common examples with stats provided.

7) Orcs should be core. Eventually, goblinoids and fey should be covered as character options as well--but perhaps not in the core.

8) I feel that goblinoids should look more like the ones in Labyrinth and Legend. Really creative and disturbing yet adorable little evil tykes, instead of hairy humanoid warriors. I always think of goblins (and bogarts and redcaps...) as the dark side of the fey races, and artistically that would be a very effective approach. I'd love to see more possibility for there to be a deeply magical component to goblinoids.

9) I agree with some others that ability scores are unnecessary--only ability modifiers. The ability scores are a slaughter-able sacred cow. As it stands in 3E, being helpless causes any creature to have 0 dex (-5 modifier) but being flat-footed only causes one to lose any bonus. So my slow and clumsy ogre is not even affected by being flat-footed. I'd love to see a system in which there are not penalties for low scores, just low bonuses for low scores. For example, AC starts at 5, and a character with average human dexterity ends up with the starting AC of 10. Much more intuitive, IMHO. Not to suggest that being flat-footed should be equally bad as being helpless--that would have to be worked out in the rules, of course.

10) In 3ED, hit points are the only randomly determined growth area of a character. That should be done away with, so that character building is done all by choices, and dice rolling is only for actual play.

11) I don't think bracers of armor are a good idea. Specifically, I don't think that there should be force-based armor bonuses to AC vs. non-force-based armor bonuses to AC. Way too much confusion when an incorporeal creature attacks. Non-armor-wearing characters can wear robes/clothing that have no AC when mundane but are capable of being magical just like chainmail and plate armor. If a fighter in half plate, a rogue in leather armor, and a sorcerer in a robe all have +3 equipment, their ACs would be +10, +5, and +3. And these numbers would keep scaling up together (under the assumption that their armor improves at the same rate).

12) I'd like allow for a "white mage" type character who is unarmored and non-martial, with really powerful divine/healing/protection magic. My house-rules allow for a "witch" class, that is similar to a shugenja, but isn't so elemental based and can be good, wicked, or inbetween. And for flavor purposes, such a character needs a familiar, IMHO.

13) Weapon/shield and two-weapon fighting styles are not as powerful as two-handed weapon styles. This should be balanced better.

My idea: Hitting with 2 weapons should be a standard action. If there are iterative attacks, then a feat like "improved two-weapon fighting" should provide all iterations. That way, two-weapon fighting can do slightly more damage (based on weapon choices), and would be more useful in dealing with multiple weaker enemies. Two-handed weapons benefit more from a high strength modifier and are more useful against enemies with DR. Is that balanced enough? I don't know.

Shields at least should benefit against touch attacks, if such a concept still exists. Also, if armor gives DR instead of AC, then shields would be the only real "armor" that gives AC, and so giving one up would be a real sacrifice.

14) Perhaps tougher characters can be tougher by means of armor instead of such a big difference in HP. If an armored barbarian and an unarmored sorcerer are both in melee, the barbarian is far more likely to survive. If blasted with dragonfire, it shouldn't matter nearly as much, since armor doesn't help you there, and the barbarian wouldn't survive fire that much better than the sorcerer. The barbarian might be *somewhat* tougher, but not that much more likely to survive fire. If both characters are unarmored, both should be in similarly great danger in melee.

15) The way full-plate and half-plate are currently designed, it makes half-plate almost never be a desirable option. I think they should go back to making the heaviest armor be the one that limits your dex the most. That way there are actual reasons to choose heavy armor types other than full-plate, other than waiting until you can afford full-plate. I can't see any character seeing +4 splint, banded, or half-plate mail and not thinking that it should've just been full-plate, since by then the base armor price means very little.

16) I hope that it's still possible to put class levels onto any monster. I realize that they may not all be suitable for balanced gameplay, but I happen to really need a gold dragon with bards levels for my campaign as an NPC. I could simply play a gold dragon and have him start singing as if he's a bard, but I'd really like to do it a little more precisely.
1) Electronic tools to help make stats for wildshape (and polymorph) would be great, as well as tools to advance and template monsters like animal companions.

We need those tools for 3rd ed, we don't even know whether there will be Wild Shape in 4th. I really hope that if it comes, rules will be simple enough you can do it on paper.

2) What exactly is the rules benefit of divine vs. arcane magic?

As Sorcerer/Wizards and Clerics have different roles and archetypes, divine and arcane magic have different strength and weaknesses. Arcane Magic is better on the offense and has a broader effect range, while divine magic is mainly supportive. Arcane spell failure etc. are not so much a question of magic, but of the wizard archetype.
But yes, I could imagine some kind of "White Mage" arcane class that can work as a healer, an opposite to the Dread Necromancer. Might be an idea for a later splat book.

12) I'd like allow for a "white mage" type character who is unarmored and non-martial, with really powerful divine/healing/protection magic.

Oh... looks like we agree here.

3) Arcane spell failure would be better as a skill check rather than a percentage.

Meh. I don't see a substantial rules simplification here, rather the opposite.

4) My feeling is that clerics should have a less martial feel to them.

Unearthed Arcana, Cloistered Cleric variant.

6) I feel that half-races don't need to be core. There can be rules for making any half-race, and half-elf and half-orc can be given as common examples with stats provided.

7) Orcs should be core.

I absolutely agree. Remove the half-classes, give us a full-blooded orc as a base class, and leave the half-races for a later races book.

9) I agree with some others that ability scores are unnecessary--only ability modifiers.

I don't really care.

10) In 3ED, hit points are the only randomly determined growth area of a character. That should be done away with, so that character building is done all by choices, and dice rolling is only for actual play.

Yes. All random factors need to be removed from character generation (ability scores, hit points, starting gold)

Living Greyhawk worked like this from the start, and I never saw anyone complaining about it. It also removes one of the main focuses for player cheating.

11) I don't think bracers of armor are a good idea.

That's a minor detail. Just houserule them out.

I left out the other stuff because it makes assumptions about the combat rules that are probably wrong (iterative attacks etc.)
As Sorcerer/Wizards and Clerics have different roles and archetypes, divine and arcane magic have different strength and weaknesses. Arcane Magic is better on the offense and has a broader effect range, while divine magic is mainly supportive. Arcane spell failure etc. are not so much a question of magic, but of the wizard archetype.
But yes, I could imagine some kind of "White Mage" arcane class that can work as a healer, an opposite to the Dread Necromancer. Might be an idea for a later splat book.

Yes, I don't think we disagree, but I don't see where it helps (at all really) for the rules to divide magic between arcane and divine. The way they work is basically identical already, and spell lists can do the work of separating what magical characters are better at what.

Unearthed Arcana, Cloistered Cleric variant.

Actually, I do know about that variant. Should've mentioned that. I don't particularly care for how that did that one, basically. So I want them to do it better. It's that simple.
9) I agree with some others that ability scores are unnecessary--only ability modifiers. The ability scores are a slaughter-able sacred cow. As it stands in 3E, being helpless causes any creature to have 0 dex (-5 modifier) but being flat-footed only causes one to lose any bonus. So my slow and clumsy ogre is not even affected by being flat-footed. I'd love to see a system in which there are not penalties for low scores, just low bonuses for low scores. For example, AC starts at 5, and a character with average human dexterity ends up with the starting AC of 10. Much more intuitive, IMHO. Not to suggest that being flat-footed should be equally bad as being helpless--that would have to be worked out in the rules, of course.

I agree that we don't need both, but I'd prefer to keep the ability scores instead. You already touched on that in your example - if the modifier was half ability score instead of half ability score minus five, it would be so easy to calculate that you don't need to treat it as a separate entity.

3-18 ability scores just feels right in D&D. :D