Playtest Report (Castle Part 3)

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I was reading this article and I found several interesting sounding points. Some could be just flavor text used in the article, but others might point to new mechanics.

Warlords wrote:
The wizard abilities I gained give Karhun a couple of decent ranged area attacks each encounter, something warlords otherwise wouldn’t get a lot of.

This gives a bit of insight into the Warlord abilities. This seems very similar to how bards and clerics work now. Both are light on the big ranged area spells, a few notable differences such as Sound Burst and Flame Strike aside. This seems to indicate a stronger 'focus' of abilities in the new rules.

Swordmage wrote:
If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just have to get hopping and design the swordmage class we’ve been talking about.

This had me particularly excited. I've always liked the concept of magic/swordfighting combine and the release of classes in Tome of Battle and the Duskblade class really helped keep that concept viable. It sounds as if there will be a class devoted to this magic/melee concept in 4e as a base class. It's unclear if this would be more of a Tome of Battle or a Duskblade, but I hope they continue this development.

Encounter Size wrote:
In the blink of an eye a dozen vampires poured out of their hiding places in the walls, and mummies starting climbing out of those big sarcophagi. It seemed like every square in the room had something dead standing in it.

This section seems to continue along the lines of "Encounters will be bigger, grander affairs" that we've seen in other articles. The characters are 6-8th level and fighting some otherwise 'powerful' undead in larger numbers. Now the battle indicates that these monsters can go down pretty easily, but there is still effort in doing so.

Many might not like this change, but having played games like 7th Sea and Spycraft, the concept of 'minions' and 'bosses' really makes the game more enjoyable for DM's and players. This seems to fit with other articles and descriptions that have talked about more integrated encounters. As a DM it would be nice to have a big boss, a few henchmen, and then a lot of minions. This makes for a more dynamic encounter that the characters still have a chance to defeat. In current edition, lots of normal monsters could really overpower the group before they get to the BBEG!

Spells wrote:
Mire of Minauros

Sounds like an interesting new spell. It also sounds like spells may have more lasting effects that are useful to change the battlefield.

Multiclassing wrote:
I used one of those multiclass abilities I was talking about

This is a bit ambiguous. On one hand, the multiclass ability is just that his warlord can use a wand. On the other hand, it could hint that multiclassing unlocks certain additional abilities or combinations that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

Limited Abilities wrote:
On my next round I saw several bad guys lined up in a row, so Karhun dashed a few squares over and used another wizard ability—my once-per-day scorch, a powerful fire attack.

Ah, a specific mention of a one-per-day ability. Some speculation is that there might be different energy types you could choose. For instance some wizards might have a cold attack or a lightning attack instead of fire. I would wager these types of abilities go a long way to help customize a character without adding unnecessary complications to the rules.

Another speculation is that some of the more powerful arcane/divine spells will now be per-day abilities instead of spells. Things such as polymorph (in whatever form), wish, miracle, and other 'save or lose' effects are good candidates for this. The Per-encounter abilities would be the more staple spells, such as magic missile, bless, etc.

DR wrote:
but the really odd thing is that his damage resistance (any DR, really) ignores psychic damage and poison damage. I’m not sure things ought to work that way; it seems to me that some sorts of damage ought to bypass DR by their very nature.

This part of the article is the most disappointing to me. I thought the DR system in 3e was pretty good. It did make for the 'golf bag of weapons' syndrome in some extreme cases, but it also did away with the "I have a +5 weapon so I can affect anything" mentality in 3.0.

I hope the designers come up with a nice middle ground such that DR can still be specific so you can have creatures like the Rakshasa, Werewolves, and the like that are vulnerable only to certain attacks. I'd also hate to see DR be a flat reduction in damage from all magical and energy attacks as well.

Harliquinn
I think you're trying to interpret too much here. Playtest #3 was very vague, and there wasn't much that we didn't know already (Warlords, Wizards get per encounter / per day abilities etc. weren't really news)

(Warlord / Wizard)

This gives a bit of insight into the Warlord abilities. This seems very similar to how bards and clerics work now. Both are light on the big ranged area spells, a few notable differences such as Sound Burst and Flame Strike aside. This seems to indicate a stronger 'focus' of abilities in the new rules.

No surprise here. The Warlord was announced as a secondary melee / party buffer from the start, without any spellcasting.

(Swordmage)

This had me particularly excited. I've always liked the concept of magic/swordfighting combine and the release of classes in Tome of Battle and the Duskblade class really helped keep that concept viable. It sounds as if there will be a class devoted to this magic/melee concept in 4e as a base class. It's unclear if this would be more of a Tome of Battle or a Duskblade, but I hope they continue this development.

All classes for the PHB are already written. This is the playtests. If they feel a Swordmage (Gish) would complement the system, you won't see him before the first splatbook.

(Warlock Spell)

Sounds like an interesting new spell. It also sounds like spells may have more lasting effects that are useful to change the battlefield.

Entangle, Web, Incendiary Cloud, Evard's Black Tentacles and friends have already been in 3rd ed.

(Multiclass ability)

This is a bit ambiguous. On one hand, the multiclass ability is just that his warlord can use a wand. On the other hand, it could hint that multiclassing unlocks certain additional abilities or combinations that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

For me, "multiclass ability" reads as "something I got for multiclassing as a wizard", i.e. he's a warlord but through the multiclassing rules he got access to the wizard class features. I guess we'll get multiclassing "Saga style", but since I didn't have a closer look at that system yet I can't say what that actually means.

Ah, a specific mention of a one-per-day ability. Some speculation is that there might be different energy types you could choose. For instance some wizards might have a cold attack or a lightning attack instead of fire. I would wager these types of abilities go a long way to help customize a character without adding unnecessary complications to the rules.

Wizard and Sorcerer will mimic the 3rd edition Warlock and gain a per-round attack mode that is magic based. It's mostly a fluff change that prevents the wizard from pulling out the crossbow (as already announced)

Another speculation is that some of the more powerful arcane/divine spells will now be per-day abilities instead of spells. Things such as polymorph (in whatever form), wish, miracle, and other 'save or lose' effects are good candidates for this.

I'm pretty sure the opposite is the case. Your basic use combat spells (attack people, defend yourself) will become per-round abilities. "Special stuff" like the polymorph and wish you mentioned will still be spells.

This part of the article is the most disappointing to me. I thought the DR system in 3e was pretty good. It did make for the 'golf bag of weapons' syndrome in some extreme cases, but it also did away with the "I have a +5 weapon so I can affect anything" mentality in 3.0.

I don't know how you can judge this because the article didn't say anything about how D&D4 DR works mechanicly. It just said the current version of the Warforged has a too strong damage reduction (however it works) so it will probably be nerfed for the next round of playtests.

The only news here is that Warforged get DR (in 3.5 they had armor, remember?)
The impression I get from that last part is that they noticed through play testing that DR as written is not to his satisfaction and they might work on it a bit. Not much info to get from that.

At first when he said a room full of vampires and mummies for a level 6 to 8 party I was like That's just crazy.

Then the PCs proceeded to wipe the floor with them with little trouble and I am like :OMG! You gotta be kidding me.

Then I realized that this is another edition and i have no idea what stats these vampires or mommies have or how powerful these PCs really are. And I cooled down. We just have too little information at this time.
Well they were vampire minions so I assume they were just scrubs to begin with, but yeah it did seem a little extreme that a few AoO's cleared an encounter.

I get that DR has to affect psychic damage or psionics would be dumb, but still automatically affecting everything seems silly. I hope they indeed fix that or just make DR numbers lower to compensate.
Well they were vampire minions so I assume they were just scrubs to begin with, but yeah it did seem a little extreme that a few AoO's cleared an encounter.

I wasn't really that surprised, as I use variants of the same kind of thing in my games already. In Exalted, it's the "Extras" rule. The way it works is, where a normal Exalted character (Mortal or otherwise) has 7 Health Levels, Extras only have 3.

It's always fun for the party to have legions of things to rip through just to look cool.
I wasn't really that surprised, as I use variants of the same kind of thing in my games already. In Exalted, it's the "Extras" rule. The way it works is, where a normal Exalted character (Mortal or otherwise) has 7 Health Levels, Extras only have 3.

It's always fun for the party to have legions of things to rip through just to look cool.

Well the encounter certainly seemed more dynamic and engaging than an encounter with a single life-draining vampire and a mummy (Perhaps the equivalent in "CR"). I think having encounters with lots of 'minions' (mooks if you will) can also be enjoyable as it allows those characters whose purpose is to take out lots of smaller creaters a chance to shine. It also still drains resources (the wizard used one of his per-day abilities) just as other encounters would. Sure the PC's mopped up by the description but it still cost them some resources to do so. Many will return the next encounter, however.

Harli
IThe only news here is that Warforged get DR (in 3.5 they had armor, remember?)

With the Adamantite Body feat Warforged get DR 2/- (If I recall correctly) in 3.5. Then there is a second feat they can take multiple times to increase the DR.

Also, the exact quote was that the "warforged paladin" was the problem. We don't know how much of the problem is from the race, the class, a feat, or a magic item. Only that the particular character build, currently is a bit too invulnerable. Assuming the problem is that the warforged get racial DR is probably reading too much into the post.

Reminds me of a joke:

A group of scientists are in a train passing through New Zealand. Looking out the window they see a black sheep. One exclaims, "Look, all the sheep in New Zealand are black!" A second smiles and says, "The sheep in this part of New Zealand are black". Then a third coughs and says, "In this particular field there is at least one sheep that appears to be black on at least one side."

Wizard and Sorcerer will mimic the 3rd edition Warlock and gain a per-round attack mode that is magic based. It's mostly a fluff change that prevents the wizard from pulling out the crossbow (as already announced)

From one of the other playtest reports:
Sasha used a wizard strike with her staff, not only injuring a wolf, but also pushing it away from the prone Heron. This gave Heron the room he needed to stand, move away from his assailants, and regain a few hit points...Sasha maneuvered to blast both wolves with another strike from her staff, pushing the one attacking Heron away again.

Used twice in once combat. Therefore not daily, not once per encounter. Thus it is likely to be a/the per-round attack. And I've never seen a crossbow push a wolf in 3E. That's more than just a fluff change. Edit:In theory this could be an item effect as the staff is cited each time. But the report mentions they were 1st level, so I'm going to speculate that is not a magic item.
Used twice in once combat. Therefore not daily, not once per encounter. Thus it is likely to be a/the per-round attack. And I've never seen a crossbow push a wolf in 3E. That's more than just a fluff change. Edit:In theory this could be an item effect as the staff is cited each time. But the report mentions they were 1st level, so I'm going to speculate that is not a magic item.

Or perhaps it's a once per encounter or once per day ability and the wizard used two "slots" for the same spell. Difficult to say at this point.
An at will wizard strike that does 1d6+x and pushes targets back 5 feet is not a very powerful ability. If you'll note, it didn't make mentioned that the wizard strike hurt the creatures very much. My guess it deals a single die with +1/power source level or +1/character level. Useful, but nowhere near game-breaking. the unanswered questions:

Does wizard strike require an attack roll?
Is Wizard strike resistible if it dos not allow an attack roll?
How much damage was dealt with it?
What is the size/shape of the area of effect?
How far back did the targets move?

I want these answers, badly.