Per Encounter?

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Why in the name of all that is holy are they introducign a per encounter mechanic. It amakes no sesnse at all froma flavor perspective. You can use an ability against an orc, and then 5 minutes later against another orc, but only once in the hour long battle with a pair of red dragons?

Please, write per encounter out of 4e before its too late.
As I understand it, per encounter abilities represent abilities that can be renewed with a short amount of preparation time. However, a battle is too hectic to renew the ability, and these abilities are too complex to use at will. Therefore, it can be readied during downtime, expended during combat, but cannot be renewed again until you have some more downtime.

Makes sense to me.
It is to cater to different playing styles. Some DMs like to run grinder adventures where you face tons of encounters even after your party is well past their breaking point, some have only 1-2 encounters/day.

In such scenarios, some classes will benefit more, some will suffer. The goal is to ensure that they all fare equally well regardless of how your DM structures those encounters.
I didn't understand it at first either, but when I learned more and really thought about it, I figured it out.

In the games in which I play, we almost never do an actual dungeon crawl and rarely have multiple combats in one session, let alone one in-game day. This has led our DM to be really frustrated with the CR system. We just nova out and kill the monster in two rounds. To make a significant challenge, the DM has to use a CR of 3, 4, or 5 levels over us. Even still, combats tend to play out the same way.

We can only alter our playstyle so much, and it should be the other way around anyway; the system should accommodate a variety of playstyles.

Even when you go by the book and run 4 encounters per day, that tends to make for 3 dull encounters and 1 challenging one. Then, the Wizard and Cleric run out of spells. This would be the Fighter's turn to shine, but he's pretty hurt too, so the party leaves the dungeon. This is what the designers called the "5 minute workday". Kick in the door, fight 4 encounters, go back to camp.

So what to do? Well, theoretically the casters' spells are per day abilites that are supposed to be rationed to fit 4 encounters in any given day. So why not cut to the chase? Split them up. Instead of 12 spells in a day, make 3 per encounter. Now, "supposed to" and "is" are the same thing.

From there, work on the "5 minute workday" problem. Give each class abilities that are usable at will, as well as the ability to keep pressing on through "second wind" type stuff and the diffusion of healing throughout the classes.

It makes sense when you think about it. You have to look at the game mechanics first, and then come up with fluff that makes sense. Hey, the new fluff can't possibly be any worse than "metal armor interferes with arcane energies" which is what they said in 2E IIRC. :D
Why in the name of all that is holy are they introducign a per encounter mechanic. It amakes no sesnse at all froma flavor perspective. You can use an ability against an orc, and then 5 minutes later against another orc, but only once in the hour long battle with a pair of red dragons?

Please, write per encounter out of 4e before its too late.

Granted, per encounter abilities seem rather wonkish when reading the rules in the abstract. However, they work very, very well in actual game play. In addition, there is almost always some form of recharge mechanic where the same ability can be used multiple times in one fight.
You can use an ability against an orc, and then 5 minutes later against another orc, but only once in the hour long battle with a pair of red dragons?

An hour long battle against two red dragons!? Gah! The longest battle I have ever seen in D&D lasted a couple of minutes tops in-game time. An hour long battle would take 600 rounds! That boggles my mind.

Anyways, as far as I know, the basic idea behind a per encounter ability is that it takes a minute or so for a character to catch his breath and regain his focus after a battle to refresh the ability. It makes plenty of sense to me. Honestly, I always had more trouble understanding the flavor behind 1/day abilities. In a point based system like Psionics, it makes sense that the character is getting worn down over time. However, that doesn't seem to be happening with something like spell-like abilities, where someone can use a spell up with no bearing on other spells.
You can use an ability against an orc, and then 5 minutes later against another orc, but only once in the hour long battle with a pair of red dragons?

How the hell do you spend an hour in game against two red dragons and still only call it 1 encounter?!!?

If it is too hard of an encounter, you run your ass off or you are dossed with ketchup and crunched. Otherwise it'll be over, probably before the barbarian's rage is worn off. Now I can see two red dragons providing aerial support to an evil army, and you periodically get to attack him but tides of battle draw you apart, in which case those *are* separate encounters if using the victory point mass combat system from Heroes of Battle.

But seriously, an hour against two red dragons? More like two minutes. Either you're dead or they are.
Non-magical per-day and per-encounter abilities may seem a little odd at first, but it's just a game mechanic, and supposedly one that works well. If for some reason you need an in-game rationale, rather than thinking of it as a resource that gets used up, consider that maybe the in-game conditions need to be "just right" to pull off the manuever. So, while in theory you could pull off a "Dragon Punch" or whatever at will (in the fiction), the opportunity (enemy position, flow of battle, terrain, etc) only occurs about once per-encounter or per-day.

Yes, it's a patch, but if you just can't live without some kind of explanation, that might do the trick.

(Why doesn't Voltron just whip out the Blazing Sword at the start of the fight and get it over with? Hmm. )
This mechanic to me is Wizards attempts to make D&D more like computerized RPG's.

A lot of computer-based or console RPG's do not have X spells or X special abilities per day, instead they have them set up on a point buy, regenerating pool or some other mechanic that allows the player to get what they want if they are willing to wait a bit for it. Diablo 2 is a good example.

In Diablo 2, they have a Sorcerer class that has a mana pool that is used to fuel their spells. You can go hog wild in one fight and deplete your mana pool to finish the fight quickly. Then, instead of having to go back to town or finding an inn to sleep at, you just stand over you fallen enemies and watch your mana slowly fill back up. In fact, the same can be said about the health pool which is their version of HP. You really only need healing potions during a fight because your health replenishes on its own when you're out and walking around.

I don't like this mechanic. It takes away the sense that your party isn't all powerful, and it can only do so much in any given day. I also think that this further widens the gap between casters and non-casters as far as power is concerned. This allows casters to cast more spells, more often and dominate the battle field even more over non-casters. I can see this make Fighters and the like all but obsolete in 4E. The only way that I think this will not happen is if they completely re-write spells as far as how they work and how much damage they can do. So far there has been nothing saying that spells will get a complete overhaul.
In the games in which I play, we almost never do an actual dungeon crawl and rarely have multiple combats in one session, let alone one in-game day. This has led our DM to be really frustrated with the CR system. We just nova out and kill the monster in two rounds. To make a significant challenge, the DM has to use a CR of 3, 4, or 5 levels over us. Even still, combats tend to play out the same way.

We can only alter our playstyle so much, and it should be the other way around anyway; the system should accommodate a variety of playstyles.

The risk is that in making the game better for the one fight a day types, they may make others worse. If they load up on at will and per encounter powers then characters will never tire out. They will be just as effective fighting one fight or ten, or even one hundred. If they really load up on at will and per encounter powers it could make it much less fun for those of use that tend to consider the dungeon crawl one of the defining features of D&D.

Another problem that I foresee is that I have as much problem with players pressing on as long as they can as with one fight over kill. If the party is loaded up with per encounter and at will powers they will never have a reason to stop.

Jay
I don't like this mechanic. It takes away the sense that your party isn't all powerful, and it can only do so much in any given day. I also think that this further widens the gap between casters and non-casters as far as power is concerned. This allows casters to cast more spells, more often and dominate the battle field even more over non-casters. I can see this make Fighters and the like all but obsolete in 4E. The only way that I think this will not happen is if they completely re-write spells as far as how they work and how much damage they can do. So far there has been nothing saying that spells will get a complete overhaul.

There's a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

1) This sort of mechanic will not affect in any way the power level of an adventuring party. The power level is determined by what you're capable of doing; not how often you're capable of doing it.

2) Fighters and the like will not be adversely affected by this kind of mechanic, since they will also have access to per-encounter abilities, similarly to martial adept classes. It's arguable that a fighter's per-encounter abilities will be on the same power range as a wizard's per-encounter abilities, keeping the entire group balanced. At this point, your class becomes a way to access a certain kind of abilities.
Quoted from the Enworld 4e compiled current knowledge:

From the Blog of James Wyatt:
"See, in 3e there's a basic assumption that an encounter between four 5th-level PCs and one CR 5 monster should drain away about 25% of the party's resources, which primarily translates into spells (and primarily the cleric's spells, which determine everyone else's total hit points). What that actually means is that you get up the morning, then have three encounters in a row that don't reallly challenge you. It's the fourth one that tests your skill—that's where you figure out whether you've spent too much, or if you still have enough resources left to finish off that last encounter. Then you're done. So basically, three boring encounters before you get to one that's really life or death....It kind of makes sense, mathematically. The problem is, it's not fun. So what lots of people actually do, in my experience, is get up in the morning and have a fun encounter: there are multiple monsters that are close to the PCs' level, so the total encounter level is higher than their level. There's interesting terrain and dynamic movement. Sometimes there are waves of monsters, one after another. Whew! It's a knock-down, drag-out fight that could really go either way. And it's fun!

So you get up at 8:00 AM, you have that fun encounter, and you rest "for the night" at 8:15 AM. Repeat as needed."

So according to the way they see the game you can either have X-1 boring encounters where X is the number of encounters balanced for one "day" of adventuring, or one great fight that uses up everything you have for the day and means that people essentially "adventure" once per 8-9 hours. Neither of these sounds like any fun to me. Whereas with per encounter you can have as many or as few encounters as the DM wants with each one requiring about the same resource management but not having to stop after every fight.
The risk is that in making the game better for the one fight a day types, they may make others worse. If they load up on at will and per encounter powers then characters will never tire out. They will be just as effective fighting one fight or ten, or even one hundred. If they really load up on at will and per encounter powers it could make it much less fun for those of use that tend to consider the dungeon crawl one of the defining features of D&D.

Another problem that I foresee is that I have as much problem with players pressing on as long as they can as with one fight over kill. If the party is loaded up with per encounter and at will powers they will never have a reason to stop.

Jay

Why do you want the party to "stop"? What exactly is gained by going home or taking a nap or whatever? When did that start being fun? For what it's worth, though, if you blow out all of your "per day" abilities you're running at about 80% efficiency. So after a few rough encounters, or in preparation for the boss at the end, your party might decide to "rest up" and get back to 100% for the final showdown.
Why do you want the party to "stop"? What exactly is gained by going home or taking a nap or whatever? When did that start being fun? For what it's worth, though, if you blow out all of your "per day" abilities you're running at about 80% efficiency. So after a few rough encounters, or in preparation for the boss at the end, your party might decide to "rest up" and get back to 100% for the final showdown.

There are a couple of reasons to want the party to stop. There is advancement of time and plot, monsters moving around the dungeon and other dungeon evolution, the strategic planning of individual raids and element of risk in going for one more encounter.

I'm not 100% opposed to the idea, the current system where the spell casters have nothing but per day powers and fighters have nothing but at will powers with just a few things in between is a game balance problem. But nor do I think the current system is so broken that it must be discarded entirely. And WotC seems to be aiming for the second more then the first.

Jay
Maybe they really have no idea what they're doing, but they know they have to do something so they're just jumping on the first idea they think will work?

That's not to say that they don't want to make a great game, they just don't know exactly how, and being human they are going to make mistakes.
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