Damage without hitting: A dangerous idea

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In the recend D&D podcast, "Share your character!", we learn of a Fighter who can inflict his Strength bonus damage without hitting. I am concerned that this ability is breaking the rules much like Magic Missile did (I'm assuming it's fixed in 4E).

Some people point out that AC represents blocking as well as dodging. If that is the justification, then this ability should only work if the attack exceeds Reflex Defense (AKA Touch AC) but does not exceed AC. Then we'll all be happy!
Yeah, I'm thinking it will have something to do with Ref.
I imagine that soon after 4E release a minmaxer will build a fighter who, thanks to special equipment and talents, will be able to kill most monsters without hitting them.
I imagine that soon after 4E release a minmaxer will build a fighter who, thanks to special equipment and talents, will be able to kill most monsters without hitting them.

As 4th Ed is getting away from system mastery, I seriously doubt it.
Please link to the newest podcast! I can't find it.
Please link to the newest podcast! I can't find it.

http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=211024

There is a link in post #9.
As 4th Ed is getting away from system mastery, I seriously doubt it.

They can try. But if the system is as flexible as they say, there will space for mix/max types to abuse it. I don't think it will be as bad as 3e, simply because they are more aware of this problem going in.

They even be able to prevent any serious abuse just using the PHB, simply because there are fewer options. But once a few expansion books get added, there are sure to be things they miss.

Jay
They can try. But if the system is as flexible as they say, there will space for mix/max types to abuse it.

Of course no system is perfect, but I don’t think we'll be seeing anything like the sarrukh this edition…
In the recend D&D podcast, "Share your character!", we learn that the Fighter can cause bonus Strength damage without hitting.

I think the wording was a bit unclear and he meant that he does damage equal to his Strength bonus, not actual ability damage.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

I am concerned that this ability is breaking the rules much like Magic Missile did

I don't understand this reference.
I don't understand this reference.

He's probably upset at the idea that a character can have a 'failsafe', the ability to consistantly deal damage no matter what x times per day or hour or encounter.

Personally, I've never had a problem with the idea. The Fighter having a "magic missile" seems like a good idea to me. It even makes sense as an "overpower" maneuver; you couldn't break their defenses but you still roughed 'em up pretty bad.
Are you kidding? This is going to be the power edition. It's based on more combat per day and monsters are just walking stats block.

With combat so important, how can it not become broken rapidly?

First Edition was based on a war game. It had no rules for social resolution.

Fourth Edition is going to have better, more concise rules for social resolution.

How can it not be less broken, as it's developing a more fun/less filling kind of design philosophy?

Hyperbole is Fail in debate.
I think the wording was a bit unclear and he meant that he does damage equal to his Strength bonus, not actual ability damage.

Ya, apologies if that wasn't clear.

I don't understand this reference.

Not that I want to debate the pros and cons of this iconic spell, but Magic Missile is one of the few auto-hit spells in 3.X. WotC purportedly considered removing this aspect of the spell, but it was brought back from 2E by popular demand. When a power breaks a rule (the "rule" here being that a character gets a chance to dodge, deflect, or otherwise avoid bad stuff), there are often far-ranging consequences. One of the many goals of good game design that must constantly be weighed against other considerations is the goal to not provide loop-holes.

This post is aimed at the folks at WotC and others who are familiar with the tanglefoot bag that is Magic Missile's "exception to the rules". I'm concerned that this seemingly insignificant and brand-new power might not have been given the the strutiny it needs to avoid a needless loop-hole. I'm justing doing my part in bringing up a potential problem... for the good of mankind...
I agree that this will be the power edition where everyone is a superhero.

as far as auto damage dealing goes, I certainly hope there is a save or the like involved. Even MM was affected by SR.
The horrible truth - "Their new marketing strategy (Evergreen Essentials) pretty much requires that anything new that sees print refer back almost exclusively to Essentials." Tony Vargas
As long as all characters and consequently there opponents had similar functionality I see this as an acceptable rules system. They have said frequently that they are trying to shorten the lentgh of a round of combat and in turn combat itself (thus allowing more combat or roleplaying depending on playstyle). If the system is designed so that there are unavoidable strikes to hit points (or if they pull from SWG:Saga something like Endurance) then that would expediate fights. I would prefer this not to go over board though. This would also allow them to keep magic missile in the game with little adjustment to keep arcane casters balanced.
I imagine that soon after 4E release a minmaxer will build a fighter who, thanks to special equipment and talents, will be able to kill most monsters without hitting them.

after about 10 minutes of missing...
I honestly don't quite see what the problem is.

How much can your str damage be? Compare this with the amount of hp foes will likely have. The effect should hardly be felt, like a mosquito bite.

Ultimately, I don't see this replacing your normal attack...
Mechanically it doesn't sound much different from an AoE attack "missing" and doing half damage.
At least I have my proper avatar now, I guess. But man is this cloud dark.
after about 10 minutes of missing...

And when you add in things like Damage Reduction, Regeneration, and Fast Healing you might not even do that after 10 hours. And lets not forget that it seems like creatures might have more hit points then they did in 3.5 so it could make it even weaker.

It’s an insignificant ability that basically pats the player on the head when they miss. But I’ll admit I can sort of understand why some people can be a little nervous about it since if the designers aren’t careful it can become a bit of a problem later on. Like a weapon with an injury poison on it that would automatically activated if the ability isn’t worded right.
Wow.. That ability can be very scary in the wrong hands. I don't know how much fun it will be being the fighter heading into a "Against the Giants" type of module if giants can miss & still womp you for 10 points of damage or 15 if using a two-handed weapon.
The only exploit I can see developing here is not with the fact that they are taking damage so much as abilities that may trigger when an enemy does take damage... it ensures that, in certain tactical situations where you need that trigger (as I'm sure it will be needed for something, given the nature of 4E combat as seen so far by us) the fighter will be able to ensure it... 100%... no uncertainty.

depending on what this can lead into, a free 4 HPs (or w/e) damage isn't much (but nice... especially against Unworthy Mooks that Escape your Wrath through Luck)
Mechanically it doesn't sound much different from an AoE attack "missing" and doing half damage.

Best point I've read in this thread. Thank you, Tenzhi.

Regarding the possible problem of triggering other effects from damage, that can be really easily addressed in the rules that govern this power, simply by saying that the power doesn't trigger such effects.
Wow.. That ability can be very scary in the wrong hands. I don't know how much fun it will be being the fighter heading into a "Against the Giants" type of module if giants can miss & still womp you for 10 points of damage or 15 if using a two-handed weapon.

Meh, giants may not have a 30 Strength in 4e. And IIRC the guy is a 7th level fighter and he just got the ability, so a giant fighter 7 may not be something to sneeze at. In 3e giants seldom miss unless they are trying to one-shot you with Power Attack; 10 points of damage isn't that serious comparatively. It also seems likely that PCs will have more hit points in 4e.
Err, how do they explain it? I can't get the podcast.

Is it like in some anime where the opponent still gets cut by the displaced air from the blade moving so fast?
Err, how do they explain it? I can't get the podcast.

Is it like in some anime where the opponent still gets cut by the displaced air from the blade moving so fast?

They don't explain it... they're gamers. They're more concerned with dice and numbers than with role playing. Presumably there is SOME explanation. My fervent hope is that the explanation is that the blow is landing on the armor and the force of the strength is bruising the opponent. If that's the case, then the attack clearly needs to exceed Reflex Defense (AKA Touch AC).
I am concerned that this ability is breaking the rules much like Magic Missile did

Could be worse, I remember I had a 1st edition lvl 25 magic user who could do 145 points of damage from magic missile:P 1d4 +1 per lvl per missile x 5 missiles
Given that in 3e, a 'miss' can be 'glanced off/absorbed by the armor' or 'he deflected the blow with his shield' as much or moreso than 'you swing wildly, missing the broad side of that barn', it seems okay to me.

I have no problem with 'the ogre blocks your hammer, but the power of your strike resounds through his armor'.
I'm with Stogoe on this one, I like describing the dirty, nasty, gritty bits of combat like how the spearhead tears a gouge through their chainmail, narrowly missing their tender flesh beneath as they turn with the blow [To describe, perhaps, a miss by only 1 point or somesuch].

I too, have no problem with this ability. With regards to the giant fighter? Regardless of how difficult or easy it may be to advance monsters by class level in 4e, by the time that a giant has enough levels in fighter to have this ability, I can't say that I imagine that:

a) It will miss very often - making this power something that helps to mitigate the loss of damage.
b) At the level that one is fighting said giant fighter that its strength modifier alone will concern a PC who was flinching waiting for the huge greatclub to slam into their body.
3) I will fail to derive some juvenile humor out of deliberately including this note next to a number instead of a letter.
I am concerned that this ability is breaking the rules much like Magic Missile did

Could be worse, I remember I had a 1st edition lvl 25 magic user who could do 145 points of damage from magic missile:P 1d4 +1 per lvl per missile x 5 missiles

That isn't how the spell worked in 1st Edition. At 25th level, you would have been able to cast 13 missiles, but they only would have done D4+1 each.
That isn't how the spell worked in 1st Edition. At 25th level, you would have been able to cast 13 missiles, but they only would have done D4+1 each.

That's not how it works in 3e, either. Each missile still only does 1d4+1 damage, no matter what the caster's level is.

The Greendale Campaign

 

I was there at the dawn of the Third-and-a-Halfth Age of Dungeons & Dragons. I saw action during the Crisis of Infinite Foundations, stood on the ramparts of the Citadel of Mirth, delved deep into the debauchery of the Forum of the Adult, and fought alongside the Infernal Bovine on the fields of the Eberron War. I weathered the Ponystorm. I witnessed as the orcs came for the wizos, and I wept mightily. I saw the realm crack as the Fourth Age came upon us, and I witnessed the eldritch tendrils of the dread Gleemax. Now I watch as the Meta Wars ravage the land as the Fifth Age is dawning. I have walked these Boarderlands for many a long year, and bear many scars in my soul. Yet I remain the White Sorcerer, ever in your service. TWS out.

Just a comment: small-scale automatic damage is not a serious issue, rules-wise. Magic missile, in its current incarnation, is a weak spell. In the end, the spells that really matter are those used to control the battlefield.
Just a comment: small-scale automatic damage is not a serious issue, rules-wise. Magic missile, in its current incarnation, is a weak spell. In the end, the spells that really matter are those used to control the battlefield.

It's weak at low levels. At higher levels, it's one of the better combat spells that you can put into a first level slot. Perfect for killing people who are blurred or smoke-covered, as well as for killing 2 or 3 guardfolk quickly and quietly as you infiltrate a castle by night, or something. Assuming you point 2 bolts at a guy twice, and 1 bolt at the third.
First Edition was based on a war game. It had no rules for social resolution.

Not true. The Charisma based Reaction Adjustment quickly and efficiently handled any social encounter which the DM felt couldn't be resolved with role-playing alone:D . Quickly, except when it came to henchman/hireling loyalty. For some reason Gary Gygax felt it necessary to write almost two pages of tables governing that particular social interaction . Don't get me wrong, I think Some social resolution rules are o.k. But seriously, I loathe the idea of players rolling a bunch of dice instead of role-playing social situations.

Fourth Edition is going to have better, more concise rules for social resolution.

That remains to be seen. For that matter, why do we need better, more concise rules for social resolution? Is this going to degenerate to NPC character and motivation being determined by dice? That would be unfortunate.

How can it not be less broken, as it's developing a more fun/less filling kind of design philosophy?

That depends on how well they design the bloody thing. While 3.5 is definitely too rules heavy, I'm a bit wary of more fun/less filling. Because my little boy is only 4, we have a more fun/less filling way of playing D&D miniatures combat. We each line up our respective armies and throw d20's in an attempt to knock the figures over. My son thinks it's a blast. While I find it amusing, and do indeed derive much enjoyment from playing with my son, as a game I find it to be a bit too much more fun/less filling for my more adult tastes. From what I've seen so far, I have concerns that I'll feel the same about 4e.
I think its a dumb idea really. If you don't hit you shouldn't do anything.
I think its a dumb idea really. If you don't hit you shouldn't do anything.

Given the abstract nature of AC, a "miss" in melee doesn't necessarily mean you didn't strike the target.
At least I have my proper avatar now, I guess. But man is this cloud dark.
It's weak at low levels. At higher levels, it's one of the better combat spells that you can put into a first level slot. Perfect for killing people who are blurred or smoke-covered, as well as for killing 2 or 3 guardfolk quickly and quietly as you infiltrate a castle by night, or something. Assuming you point 2 bolts at a guy twice, and 1 bolt at the third.

If your high lv wizard need to rely on magic missiles to bypass guards (when he has a myriad of other spells, then I suggest you tear up his character sheet and play another class.:P

Anyways, archmage's arcane fire kicks butt over magic missile any day.:D
Given the abstract nature of AC, a "miss" in melee doesn't necessarily mean you didn't strike the target.

Why should that cost hp? That's the purpose of armor to keep you from being hurt. (Heck I do all the die rolling and I take into account in my description best I can whether your dex saved you, the shield or armor).
Abilities who can do damage while missing or abilities who bypass all defenses are needed to handle DM's who give certain monsters insane high AC, magic resistance or saves. They are also usefull against players who try to do the same with their characters. The damage of those abilities must be lower then the damage of the regular abilities, but still high enough to prevend extreme long fights.
Given the abstract nature of AC, a "miss" in melee doesn't necessarily mean you didn't strike the target.

That's not true. That's the point of "Touch AC" - so that if all you need to do is TOUCH an opponent, it's easier than penetrating their armor. This gets even easier in 4E, because Touch AC is the same as Reflex Defense.
Now, from a game perspective the base idea does not seem to be a problem.

It is actually a bit better at lower levels likely then at higher levels.

At low levels where a goblin has maybe 8 hit points then a fighter with an 18 strength gets to guarantee putting down the goblin in two rounds regardless if they hit. Then again, the fighter would likely have taken out the goblin in one round if they had hit (min damage of 5 with most weapons and 2H Greatswords are 2d6+1.5x4 = 8 min damage).

Against something like the ancient dragon with over 1,000 hit points in the D&D Dragon article, I don't see that 4 points a round of extra damage is going to be making much of a differance. Even with some of the crazy buffing that would increase the Strength to a bonus of +10 that would still take 100 rounds to kill the dragon. I hope the dragon is a bit better then the fighter.

Ways that this gets a little broken is when you get a 'whirlwind' effect which means that the fighter is kicking out the strength damage every round to anything nearby. I used a similar thing to this in City of Heroes with my ice tank. It really was not a 'killer' skill but it did often reduce opponents by 10% or so over a fight. It helped as a finisher style or to soften things up a bit. It was actually better in CoH to just generate aggro. Even at 10 points to all opponents within 15' this would not be 'broken' if this was paragon or higher play.

Ways that this gets really broken if it could be combined with something that gets carried along with the damage. For example, if the fighter has a 'poison' weapon that kicks in the poison effect every time an opponent is damaged. Another example would be a paralysis or stun effect that kicks in when an opponent is damaged. If you mix these two ideas together than auto can lead to auto extras which leads to developers not realizing the combo effect of the two.
I imagine that soon after 4E release a minmaxer will build a fighter who, thanks to special equipment and talents, will be able to kill most monsters without hitting them.

Sigh. :surrender

I'd rather not, but I must agree!
"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." "The important thing is not to stop questioning." A. Einstein