Unicorn's Touch (and other problem powers)

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I recently judged a mod with a swordmage who had Unicorn’s Touch. After the first encounter everyone was pretty damaged, many were bloodied or close to bloodied. The swordmage player immediately says, "No one spend any surges. I'll heal everyone up to full for free".

I check the power out and he is legit. The power as written is surge free, non-enemy dependant, and an encounter power. RAW it can easily be used to heal a party up to full.

I quickly shot him down saying that such a thing would not happen at my table. The players would be expected to heal using traditional methods. I assured him that his power could still be used in combat or even once outside of combat but no infinite short rest + Unicorn Touchs were allowed.

What would others have done in this situation? This wasn't a cheesed out Rain of Blows that simply annihilates one monster. Unicorns Touch (and its blatant abuse) completely removes a cornerstone of the game's design.

The mod, as written, had no real time limits. The nerfing of the power was purely an abuse of DME. Would it have been better to create an artificial reason why the party could not take multiple short rests? Or should I have just allowed the swordmage to remove the need for surges outside of combat?
He should be able to use the power once every 5 minutes out of combat. There's no reason that you should have disallowed it. However, if 6 people are all bloodied or close to it, it would probably take at least an hour or more for him to eventually heal everyone up to full using this power.

If there are no rigid time constraints in the module, then it's perfectly legitimate and a somewhat clever way to conserve resources. However, from my experience, most of the challenging modules have time constraints that prevent this. Indeed I, like many others, have noticed this power's potential for resource conservation.

As the DM, if you find that players are doing this type of thing in the middle of a particularly dangerous area, you're more than welcome to teach them a lesson by jumping them with the next encounter while they're sitting around at half HP waiting for their turn to "ride the unicorn."
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I quickly shot him down saying that such a thing would not happen at my table. The players would be expected to heal using traditional methods. I assured him that his power could still be used in combat or even once outside of combat but no infinite short rest + Unicorn Touchs were allowed.

maybe a tad heavy handed (though i'm sure the actual situation differed from your quick description) to bring it down that way.

i would suggest to the player that even though that may be correct as far as the RAW is concerned, it's contrary to the spirit of the game. you might be surprised at how many players this actually works for.

if that doesn't work, just have all of their short rests after the first get interrupted by something that forces them to move along (the city watch comes along telling them there's no loitering), or a completely non-threatening combat (they're in the wilderness and goblin minions inexplicably keep showing up in 4 and a half minute intervals). you could also find a way to have the next encounter find them.

also, even if the mod doesn't specify a time constraint doesn't mean you can't put one in there, even if it's something the player's aren't aware of. if they're getting full healing in between each encounter, then maybe the baddies have had more time to get reinforcements, making the fights tougher.

you could also let it slide, but actually have the player figure out how many short rests they will need to take. depending on the number of party members, how many hps they're down, and the swordmages con modifier, they may burn up a lot more time they realize.

in general, i've found that just telling a player "that doesn't work that way at my table" puts both parties in an adversarial mindset that can lead to unnecessary and sometimes inappropriate conflicts between the two.

the important thing is that everyone has fun.
He should be able to use the power once every 5 minutes out of combat. There's no reason that you should have disallowed it. However, if 6 people are all bloodied or close to it, it would probably take at least an hour or more for him to eventually heal everyone up to full using this power.

If there are no rigid time constraints in the module, then it's perfectly legitimate and a somewhat clever way to conserve resources. However, from my experience, most of the challenging modules have time constraints that prevent this. Indeed I, like many others, have noticed this power's potential for resource conservation.

As the DM, if you find that players are doing this type of thing in the middle of a particularly dangerous area, you're more than welcome to teach them a lesson by jumping them with the next encounter while they're sitting around at half HP waiting for their turn to "ride the unicorn."

Well we're going to have to agree to disagree on a few of these points. There is a very legitimate reason why I disallowed the repeated used of the power outside of combat (see OP). Also, this is hardly clever. It is simply abusing a clearly broken power. You'll note that there is no other surge free, encounter power, non-enemy dependant, non-bloodied healing effects in the game.

I am mainly looking for what others would do in this situation. I have every intention of warning all swordmages that sit at my tables in the future of my view of the power's use outside combat and if I ever sit at a table with a swordmage as a player I will heal via my surges through healing powers or even on my own, regardless of if the judge believes it to be kosher.
The only time that I've seen people run out of healing surges is when someone was getting too big for their britches and was playing overly aggresive (wizard always on the front lines, melee strikers not attacking the defender's targets, etc).

In other words, the number of healing surges per day is not really a big deal for most people. This only helps those who tend to run out of surges quickly, which I've seen probably once during a core special (and I've played a lot of LFR).

The real limitation on healing is the number of times you can activate them during combat.

What difference does it make if someone ends the mod with 3 surges or 6?

It's a neat power, no doubt. But personally, I find the ability to grant saves a lot more useful.
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Well we're going to have to agree to disagree on a few of these points. There is a very legitimate reason why I disallowed the repeated used of the power outside of combat (see OP). Also, this is hardly clever. It is simply abusing a clearly broken power. You'll note that there is no other surge free, encounter power, non-enemy dependant, non-bloodied healing effects in the game.

Are you planning on banning rain of blows, power jewels and salves of power in your game as well? Not saying that it's not too powerful, but if you limit this, then why not others as well? Those other powers have a greater effect in PC ability than having an extra two healing surges at the end of the mod.

The ability to use it multiple times out of combat IS allowed by the rules.

If you really hate seeing it used out of combat, then you are on better ground changing the mod so that it doesn't allow the party more than a 5 minute rest before they have to rush off to the next encounter than changing the core rules of the game.

The only limiting factor of encounter powers is that it takes 5 minutes for them to recharge. Nothing limits them from being used once every 5 minutes.

This is similar to the argument that a lot of folks had with using Healing Word every five minutes to conserve on healing surges. It's allowed.
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What difference does it make if someone ends the mod with 3 surges or 6?

I have to agree. Just let them heal. As a swordmage I prefer Armathor's Step anyway.
Well we're going to have to agree to disagree on a few of these points. There is a very legitimate reason why I disallowed the repeated used of the power outside of combat (see OP). Also, this is hardly clever. It is simply abusing a clearly broken power. You'll note that there is no other surge free, encounter power, non-enemy dependant, non-bloodied healing effects in the game.

I am mainly looking for what others would do in this situation. I have every intention of warning all swordmages that sit at my tables in the future of my view of the power's use outside combat and if I ever sit at a table with a swordmage as a player I will heal via my surges through healing powers or even on my own, regardless of if the judge believes it to be kosher.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, the use of Unicorn's Touch as you have described is perfectly legal following the RAW. I can, however, understand why it bothers you. Based on your interpretation of "broken," I will agree that the power is indeed broken.

As Mat has suggested in a previous post, the best approach is to request that the players respect your preferences and avoid abusing Unicorn's Touch for limitless surgeless healing. As an LFR DM, you shouldn't really declare that the power doesn't work in a way that it clearly does... it's not fair to the players or to the integrity of the game and if I were told that as a player, it would spoil the remainder of my gaming experience. However, if you asked that I avoid abusing that power, I would be happy to oblige (I play a swordmage and do not use this power).

What you do as a player at tables with others who abuse Unicorn's Touch is entirely your prerogative. Just remember that as a DM, your job is to facilitate the fun of the players. If the players are following the rules and are having fun, why stop them? You have other options to keep the game challenging, many of them have already been stated in this thread.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Rumor is the errata team is looking at this since it is the only true healing encounter power. I would just let people use it as written in RPGA until the errata team does something with it, but I wouldn't blame a DM who didn't allow it. I certainly wouldn't allow it in home games where I can tell people ahead of time that it is a daily not an encounter power.
Mike Donais. Cryptozoic R&D
Rumor is the errata team is looking at this since it is the only true healing encounter power. I would just let people use it as written in RPGA until the errata team does something with it, but I wouldn't blame a DM who didn't allow it. I certainly wouldn't allow it in home games where I can tell people ahead of time that it is a daily not an encounter power.

Unfortunately, the RPGA isn't a home game, so DMs really can't just "disallow" it. I would expect a reasonable errata to be something along the lines of:

"The target either rolls a saving throw or, if it is bloodied, regains hit points equal to 5 + your Constitution modifier."
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
[snip]
What you do as a player at tables with others who abuse Unicorn's Touch is entirely your prerogative. Just remember that as a DM, your job is to facilitate the fun of the players. If the players are following the rules and are having fun, why stop them? You have other options to keep the game challenging, many of them have already been stated in this thread.

As usual, I have to agree with Dave. Yes, Unicorn's Touch is a little broken -- but there are several other feats/powers that are more broken/unbalancing -- Righteous Rage of Tempus and Guileful Switch to name 2. But these "broken" powers work the way they are written -- it really is not within DME to nerf them -- at least not for a LFR game. Besides an overeach of DME, it is also unfair to the player. They picked the power over other choices because of the way it works. It is unfair to change the rules on them.

More importantly, as Dave notes, LFR and 4.0 is explicitly about the players having fun. Who cares if the power is a little broken? Does it inhibit your fun as a DM that players can heal in that way? 4.0 is quite clearly not set up as DM v. players. I also think the whole "at my table" DMing should be avoided. Let the players have their fun.

Daren
I have a level 10 eladrin swordmage and took Unicorn's touch in place of a level 10 utility. I also took armathor's step at 6 (I just love teleports).

I took unicorn's touch for the ability to give myself or someone else a saving throw, or the off chance to get a leader back up to single digits so they can heal themselves. Mostly I think the ability to give saving throws is one of the most important and overlooked abilities in the game, and swordmages don't have the crazy ability of Font of Life.

I agree that its surgeless healing can be a problem. dkay's suggestion of switching it for only on bloodied targets would be a solid fix I think.

Personally though, if my table was having an extremely rough time I might do the multiple short rest thing. (Example: if we all fought a bunch of wights and after a couple encounters some people have no surges left or something.) I wouldn't do it if the GM objected, but sometimes I think other players at the table will have more fun if they're not screwed (again this would be a very rare occasion).

To wotc: as someone who has actually taken the power, I'm totally cool with fixing this power. As long as it still gives the save I'd pretty much be content.
As usual, I have to agree with Dave. Yes, Unicorn's Touch is a little broken -- but there are several other feats/powers that are more broken/unbalancing -- Righteous Rage of Tempus and Guileful Switch to name 2.
Daren

I agree with this statement wholehartedly though. I don't think for the most part that unicorn's touch will break modules, but RRoT and Guileful switch and bloodclaw weapons and the like do. It would be kind of weird to me if they errata this before RRoT or Guileful, but I guess people base entire characters around RRoT. (Honestly though with Guileful: warlords are so awsome they really don't have any place to complain if it say gets changed to a daily.)
Perhaps I am applying the golden rule where I probably shouldn't and approaching this as I would want a judge to approach it if the roles were reversed. If I was a table with a judge who had a problem with one of my character's abilities I would prefer the judge just be up front with me and explain the restrictions. I find nerfing via story related DMEing much more annoying than an honest, "please don't do that". In the scenario I described the player of the swordmage just said, "Okay, I'll just take Dimentional Warp instead". This is exactly what I would have done.

The mod in question only has 2 encounters so throwing the next/last one at them early doesn't really work. As a player would you prefer the fairly contrived, "someone comes and interrupts your rest" over a straight forward denial?

Also, thanks Mike for coming forward with that admission/rumor. Some people don't understand broken even when it's slapping them in the face.

The reason why Unicorn's Touch is more of problem than RRoT or Rain of Blows is simple. Doing lots of damage, moreso than expected, kills things fast but ultimately that's all it does. Neither of these "broken" abilities completely undermines a cornerstone of the game's design.
You misunderstand. Nobody is saying it isn't 'broken'.

It very well may be.

But this isn't your home game. This is the RPGA.

You are expected to run LFR games according to the published rules.

The players have a reasonable right to know what to expect at any given LFR game, and random DMs changing or throwing out rules as they see fit does not accomplish this.

If there's a problem, report it as a bug. Hoefully with enough reports it will get errata'd.

In the meanwhile it's the rules.



-karma

(really, how different is it from back in 3rd edition where everyone would yank out their super-cheap wands of CLW between every fight?)
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
The reason why Unicorn's Touch is more of problem than RRoT or Rain of Blows is simple. Doing lots of damage, moreso than expected, kills things fast but ultimately that's all it does. Neither of these "broken" abilities completely undermines a cornerstone of the game's design.

I see what you're saying, but I disagree, especially in the context of LFR. LFR modules are generally 2-4 combats, rarely 5, so surges are less important than in a home game. In a home game the surgeless healing thing will be a much bigger deal.

The concept of surges is one of the better ideas of 4th ed in my opinion, and the endurance trial aspect of D&D is far better now than in previous editions. In previous editions, it was mostly just obnoxious, now it's more like use better tactics and so forth.

Overall though, throwing insane amounts of damage out quickly is far more imbalancing. When combats last 2 rounds, people really don't need to spend many surges in the first place. There is an expectation of the amount of damage PCs can do in 4th ed; a built in power-curve expectation that when shattered kind of messes up the balance of the game. Abilities such as guileful switch and righteous rage of tempus do this.

So in concept I see where you're coming from but in reality I really disagree.
The mod in question only has 2 encounters so throwing the next/last one at them early doesn't really work.

Though, if the module only has 2 combat encounters anyway...wouldn't it be highly unlikely that PCs would be in danger of running low on healing surges in the first place?
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(really, how different is it from back in 3rd edition where everyone would yank out their super-cheap wands of CLW between every fight?)

Because one of the things that 4e was supposed to fix was the scenario you just described. Unicorn's Touch starts it all over again (hence the breaking cornerstone of game's design comment).

You're correct that straight up denying someone from repeatidly using encounter powers outside of combat is outside the scope of DME but doing so within the story is not. So I ask, assuming the power had to be dealt with, would you prefer to be constantly assaulted by small groups of thug-minions during your short rests or my original approach.
Because one of the things that 4e was supposed to fix was the scenario you just described. Unicorn's Touch starts it all over again (hence the breaking cornerstone of game's design comment).

You're correct that straight up denying someone from repeatidly using encounter powers outside of combat is outside the scope of DME but doing so within the story is not. So I ask, assuming the power had to be dealt with, would you prefer to be constantly assaulted by small groups of thug-minions during your short rests or my original approach.

I would prefer that the DM accepts the fact that the power is broken and just swallows it when players use it for whatever reason. He can even go so far as to let them know that he doesn't appreciate the way in which it can be abused and ask them not to do so, but at the risk of getting his request denied.

You're not a designer. Like it or hate it, the power exists and will be used until it is changed.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Neither.

You should let players do what is perfectly legal by the rules.

It may be broken. It may scream THIS IS COMPLETELY UNBALANCED to you. You may be entirely correct in saying that it needs to be fixed.

You can indeed do so in your home games. Heck, I'd probably limit the power in mine.

But I repeat, this isn't your home game. Wait for it to be errata'd.

At best, you might state to the players that it is broken, and you would PREFER that they not do it.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
The only time that I've seen people run out of healing surges is when someone was getting too big for their britches and was playing overly aggresive (wizard always on the front lines, melee strikers not attacking the defender's targets, etc).

In other words, the number of healing surges per day is not really a big deal for most people. This only helps those who tend to run out of surges quickly, which I've seen probably once during a core special (and I've played a lot of LFR).

The real limitation on healing is the number of times you can activate them during combat.

What difference does it make if someone ends the mod with 3 surges or 6?

It's a neat power, no doubt. But personally, I find the ability to grant saves a lot more useful.

I've seen people run out of healing surges more than a few times. Usually, it's in parties that were running without much in the way of tactical skill or coordination (In a recent running of East 1-1, the swordmage ran out of healing surges before the final encounter (fortunately for him, there wasn't time to run the final encounter in the slot) and everyone else was pretty close), but every now and then, it's just party mix and a bit of bad luck (our gnome bard ran out of healing surges after the final combat in Agl 1-2 last night, but it was a four person table without a defender to prevent focused aggression--cleric, bard, warlord, wizard--and he failed about six ongoing damage saves in a row). There was also a certain eladrin tempest fighter who went down with no healing surges remaining in the final combat of Imp 1-1 and a drow rogue who was down to one healing surge after the first combat of Akan 1-2.
You're not a designer. Like it or hate it, the power exists and will be used until it is changed.

Or perhaps I am?

Regardless, which approach would you prefer taken?
Or perhaps I am?

Regardless, which approach would you prefer taken?

In case it wasn't clear... neither. Both approaches will rub players the wrong way. I'm sure you can come up with an approach that doesn't ruffle any feathers and still gets you the results you want.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Alternatively I could swap out some monsters in the encounters with wights in order to make up for the surges saved by repeatidly using the power. This is also well within the power of DME. This approach is no worse than the judge who throws another elite into an encounter when the fighter one-rounds the first one with Rain of Blows. This seems to be a fairly accepted practice by the people that frequent these boards. Does this bother you as much?

Ultimately though any approach will be recognized by an experienced player (i.e. the one that would be attempting to abuse the power in the first place) as what it is. I suppose the hard part is finding out which one offends any given player the least in a particular situation.
This approach is no worse than the judge who throws another elite into an encounter when the fighter one-rounds the first one with Rain of Blows. This seems to be a fairly accepted practice by the people that frequent these boards. Does this bother you as much?

Personally I just don't get why some try to compensate for certain character builds by making the monsters more tough.

If I see someone who build (a RAW-legal) character that is twice as powerfull as a standard character and thus defeats all monsters as written with half as much effort, I would assume that he was aware of that result while building his character and that this result is what he wanted. I wouldn't get the idea to just make the monsters facing this character twice as powerfull so that he effectively has the same effort as anyone else.

Because then why should he have bothered with building his character to begin with?

Maybe ask him "Wow, you're character looks really powerfull, I fear the adventure will be too easy for him. Do you wan't me to increase the challenge for him?" and if he says "No, I enjoy being badass, that's why I've chosen this build" then let him do what RAW allows him to do.

Maybe he'll get bored after some time and eventually ask the DMs to play it a little tougher against him, maybe he's just the type that doesn't need to be challenged to enjoy a game or enjoys the knowledge of how much this would have challenged weaker characters while his doesn't even break into sweat. As long as he doesn't rub the noses of the other players in his superiority I wouldn't see any problem.

Personally my characters somehow always end up on the lower end of the power spectrum (while not as bad as my 3.x LG character even my 4e character suffers a little from this) and thus I quite enjoy if I happen to have a powergamer at the table who'll effortlessly wade through the enemies so that my character can take a backseat during combat.
Strangely, this thread is going the route of the warlocks killing all minions in the world with a single minor action, a rod of reaving and a rod of corruption. There appears to be a vocal subset of players who think that it's perfectly ok to DM empower minions to interrupt rest every four minutes and thirty seconds (or to DM empower all minions out of every encounter in the case of the warlock rod gambit) simply in order to nerf the ability or to pretend you are convinced by a tendentious rules interpretation but not to simply say, "it doesn't work because it is clearly an abuse and I believe that it is bad for the game."

As a player, I would much prefer the "It doesn't work" DMing approach to the passive-aggressive and fundamentally dishonest approaches advocated by posters here who apparently think they are honoring the rules of LFR by destroying the integrity of its judges. The only important difference between the DM who says "it doesn't work" and the DM who DMEs hordes of minions every four minutes and thirty seconds is that the one who uses DME is not being honest and simply saying up front that he won't allow it.

Whether or not this level of house ruling harms the game will depend upon whether or not the house rules are good and fair, not upon how slavishly they conform to the RAW. (And remember that having RAW that work without any DM intervention is not even a design goal of fourth edition--the books even expect DMs to prohibit things like capping a familiar with rousing assault in order to gain bonus healing).
This power is far from broken. Depending on the d6 roll and the character build, you will be seeing a max of 10hp healed and as little as 2 or 3. Every 5 minutes. For a group of level six characters, it could take way more than one hour to heal up from half HP. It could take several hours.

Now, if the DM can't find appropriate ways to respond to the characters sitting around for several hours in the middle of the adventure then that's their problem. The final encounter might be harder. The players might start the next skill challenge with a couple failures counting against them.

Off the top of my head, there is at least one 7-10 module where using this could easily risk auto-failing the entire module.

So let them use the power. There is no balance issue involved.
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I suppose the hard part is finding out which one offends any given player the least in a particular situation.

As stated a few times already.

Ask the player not to do it.

It's that simple.

If he persists, oh well.

You registered your opinion, and anything the player does from then is not a reflection on you.

Back in 3E, a lot of adventures at higher level had a problem with one particular spell. Holy Word. A lot of judges I know would ask players not to use it, even if it was available, unless things were really going badly for the players.

By far and large, players abided with the request.

You'd be surprised how effective ASKING is, at being less offending than simply imposing your views.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
This power is far from broken. Depending on the d6 roll and the character build, you will be seeing a max of 10hp healed and as little as 2 or 3. Every 5 minutes. For a group of level six characters, it could take way more than one hour to heal up from half HP. It could take several hours.

Now, if the DM can't find appropriate ways to respond to the characters sitting around for several hours in the middle of the adventure then that's their problem. The final encounter might be harder. The players might start the next skill challenge with a couple failures counting against them.

Off the top of my head, there is at least one 7-10 module where using this could easily risk auto-failing the entire module.

So let them use the power. There is no balance issue involved.

There is no d6 roll. It is simple 5+con mod. Also, as a healing power any sort of item bonus to heals works on it.
Back in 3E, a lot of adventures at higher level had a problem with one particular spell. Holy Word. A lot of judges I know would ask players not to use it, even if it was available, unless things were really going badly for the players.

By far and large, players abided with the request.

You'd be surprised how effective ASKING is, at being less offending than simply imposing your views.

That the holy word truce held had a lot to do with the fact that NPCs had blasphemy which was even more broken and that writers had an even easier time scaling caster level than PCs did--and often did so without even trying. Players' compliance with the no holy word request had a lot to do with the fact that they never knew whether the module had three half-fiends in it who could cast blasphemy at a caster level that was, "you all die, no save." Based on that, it made a lot of sense for them to abide by the truce.

In this context and in LFR (where monsters are generally unable to use the same powers that PCs use), there is no such incentive, and I would expect such appeals to be largely ineffective.
The players have a reasonable right to know what to expect at any given LFR game, and random DMs changing or throwing out rules as they see fit does not accomplish this.

I think that's missing the point.
CORE1-2 spoilers
If a PC spent an hour healing up the party to full at any point, they should arguably fail the mod. A DM would be well within their rights to say when they come to the final room, they see a dead girl, dead newborn and no one else there.


I doubt any DM would do that without warning, but most mods come with the assumption that spending an extended rest is a bad idea and short rests are fine. Enough short rests look a lot like an extended rest though and a not-so-subtle hint that time-based events in the mod will proceed without them at a certain point should put a stop to blatant abuse.

Especially if you use that mod as an ilustration...
No, it's not missing the point.

The point is that the players should not have the rules changing on them from DM to DM, from game to game. Having your character's powers and abilities being altered back and forth based on each DM's personal views and foibles can be frustrating.

If the players are spending time dilly dallying when there's a time limit, they deserve to fail in the task. No matter what they happen to have been doing in that time, whether using Unicorn's Touch or playing Parcheesi.

This is a completely separate issue than a DM altering rules he doesn't like.

Now, it is advisable to let the players know that spending an hour healing up may have adverse effects on their mission, but if they want to go ahead and spend that time and risk failure, that's their prerogative.

I have plenty of things I'd change about the rules. Likes and dislikes, distinct views about what's working and what's broken.

I set those aside when judging RPGA games. My personal hangups about 4E are irrelevant when I'm running LFR. My players will get a game based on 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, no more, no less. I'll make the game as enjoyable as I can - and I can do that without changing the rules.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
f he persists, oh well.

You should let players do what is perfectly legal by the rules.

No, it's not missing the point.

The point is that the players should not have the rules changing on them from DM to DM, from game to game. Having your character's powers and abilities being altered back and forth based on each DM's personal views and foibles can be frustrating.

You're not just stating that the DM shouldn't change the rules, but you're also stating that they should just let them do it. When there are perfectly valid, legal ways to stop them from abusing the rules like that.
I've seen people run out of healing surges more than a few times. Usually, it's in parties that were running without much in the way of tactical skill or coordination (In a recent running of East 1-1, the swordmage ran out of healing surges before the final encounter (fortunately for him, there wasn't time to run the final encounter in the slot) and everyone else was pretty close), but every now and then, it's just party mix and a bit of bad luck (our gnome bard ran out of healing surges after the final combat in Agl 1-2 last night, but it was a four person table without a defender to prevent focused aggression--cleric, bard, warlord, wizard--and he failed about six ongoing damage saves in a row). There was also a certain eladrin tempest fighter who went down with no healing surges remaining in the final combat of Imp 1-1 and a drow rogue who was down to one healing surge after the first combat of Akan 1-2.

So you're saying that people run out of healing surges in an extremely unbalanced party or one with poor tactical skill?

Wouldn't the power actually be of more benefit to that type of group rather than the purely optimized and tactically minded party that end combats in 2-3 rounds and never runs out of surges?

So in the former, it shores up a weakness and in the latter, the ability to grant saves is more useful since they'll end up with extra healing surges anyway.

I agree that they should tone it down a bit (the heal only when bloodied was a good idea), but I don't think it warrants outright banning or modification in LFR games, especially in light of the fact that we still have:
* Guilefull Switch
* Rain of Blows to do 4 attacks
* Bloodclaw Weapons
* Righteous Rage of Tempus
etc.

All of which are of greater concern to game balance than surgeless healing (especially since surgeless healing gets tons easier as you go up in levels).
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So you're saying that people run out of healing surges in an extremely unbalanced party or one with poor tactical skill?

Wouldn't the power actually be of more benefit to that type of group rather than the purely optimized and tactically minded party that end combats in 2-3 rounds and never runs out of surges?

So in the former, it shores up a weakness and in the latter, the ability to grant saves is more useful since they'll end up with extra healing surges anyway.

I agree that they should tone it down a bit (the heal only when bloodied was a good idea), but I don't think it warrants outright banning or modification in LFR games, especially in light of the fact that we still have:
* Guilefull Switch
* Rain of Blows to do 4 attacks
* Bloodclaw Weapons
* Righteous Rage of Tempus
etc.

All of which are of greater concern to game balance than surgeless healing (especially since surgeless healing gets tons easier as you go up in levels).

Surgeless healing isn't a problem. Unlimited surgeless healing is, as the identified professional game designer came in and pointed out.

The above things you mentioned are definitely overpowered and also in need of nerfs, but they don't break the mechanics of the game.
The mod, as written, had no real time limits. The nerfing of the power was purely an abuse of DME. Would it have been better to create an artificial reason why the party could not take multiple short rests? Or should I have just allowed the swordmage to remove the need for surges outside of combat?

Yes. This was, as you say, purely an abuse of DME.

The only times this power will be problematic are situations where both (a) the PCs can rest for an hour to several hours between encounters without any impact, and (b) the adventure is sufficiently tough (or the group is sufficiently leader-less) that a meaningful number of PCs would be running out of healing surges by the end otherwise.

Considering that the first is entirely within the control of the DM and the second is unlikely to be true for most adventures, I'd be hard-pressed to consider this a problem. Indeed, I'm not sure I'd even call this a "must have" power, let alone a problem power, given the existence of other goods powers of this level.
Personally I just don't get why some try to compensate for certain character builds by making the monsters more tough.

If I see someone who build (a RAW-legal) character that is twice as powerfull as a standard character and thus defeats all monsters as written with half as much effort, I would assume that he was aware of that result while building his character and that this result is what he wanted. I wouldn't get the idea to just make the monsters facing this character twice as powerfull so that he effectively has the same effort as anyone else.

Because then why should he have bothered with building his character to begin with?

Maybe ask him "Wow, you're character looks really powerfull, I fear the adventure will be too easy for him. Do you wan't me to increase the challenge for him?" and if he says "No, I enjoy being badass, that's why I've chosen this build" then let him do what RAW allows him to do.

Maybe he'll get bored after some time and eventually ask the DMs to play it a little tougher against him, maybe he's just the type that doesn't need to be challenged to enjoy a game or enjoys the knowledge of how much this would have challenged weaker characters while his doesn't even break into sweat. As long as he doesn't rub the noses of the other players in his superiority I wouldn't see any problem.

Personally my characters somehow always end up on the lower end of the power spectrum (while not as bad as my 3.x LG character even my 4e character suffers a little from this) and thus I quite enjoy if I happen to have a powergamer at the table who'll effortlessly wade through the enemies so that my character can take a backseat during combat.

This, very much this. More this than you can shake a stick at. This all day and then some more.
You're not just stating that the DM shouldn't change the rules, but you're also stating that they should just let them do it.

Yes, I am stating that.

I reiterate. This isn't your home game. There are standards.

When there are perfectly valid, legal ways to stop them from abusing the rules like that.

"Abuse" is a relative term. Some folks find certain things horribly abusive. Others don't find the same things to be much concern at all.

Whether you try and justify it by altering the adventure to achieve the result of stopping the 'abuse', or just outright alter the rules, trying to "stop" what you find to be abusive isn't running the games as it is written - you're interjecting your personal views on how this or that rule isn't "right".

There is an official process for getting the rules changed and errata'd. You bring it to the attention of WotC, via CustServ or other contact points, they review the issue, and if they agree they change it. If they do not, that's the way the rules lay.

DMs altering the rules at the table, either overtly or trying to disguise it with DME twisting, is NOT the official process.

There's nothing wrong with ASKING a player not to use a particular power in a way you as a DM are uncomfortable with.

I personally would find it hard to believe that you'd run into more than a handful of stubborn players that, given a DM telling them to their face, "Please don't use this power like that, I find it abusive.", still go ahead and do it.

This is coming from an DM that has hundreds upon hundreds of convention games run over the past decade, RPGA and non-RPGA, and has seen a staggering variety of player types.

The few that do, oh well. I'll know who to avoid next time.



-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
a not-so-subtle hint that time-based events in the mod will proceed without them at a certain point should put a stop to blatant abuse.

The DM can also remind the party that sitting around for an hour or more without being fully healed can be dangerous, should any enemies happen by.

In my experience, a reminder such as one of these will impel most parties to use their other healing powers in order to heal up with no more than 2-3 short rests.
Yes, I am stating that.

I reiterate. This isn't your home game. There are standards.



"Abuse" is a relative term. Some folks find certain things horribly abusive. Others don't find the same things to be much concern at all.

Whether you try and justify it by altering the adventure to achieve the result of stopping the 'abuse', or just outright alter the rules, trying to "stop" what you find to be abusive isn't running the games as it is written - you're interjecting your personal views on how this or that rule isn't "right".

There is an official process for getting the rules changed and errata'd. You bring it to the attention of WotC, via CustServ or other contact points, they review the issue, and if they agree they change it. If they do not, that's the way the rules lay.

DMs altering the rules at the table, either overtly or trying to disguise it with DME twisting, is NOT the official process.

There's nothing wrong with ASKING a player not to use a particular power in a way you as a DM are uncomfortable with.

I personally would find it hard to believe that you'd run into more than a handful of stubborn players that, given a DM telling them to their face, "Please don't use this power like that, I find it abusive.", still go ahead and do it.

This is coming from an DM that has hundreds upon hundreds of convention games run over the past decade, RPGA and non-RPGA, and has seen a staggering variety of player types.

The few that do, oh well. I'll know who to avoid next time.



-karma

The standard of play is dead and gone. It died with LG. 18 months ago I would have completely agreed with you.

LFR is all about "fun". Sometimes to facilitate that fun certain things have to be moderated to give others a chance to shine. For every player who makes characters that appreciate being carried through the combats there is one that resents never being able to use his schtick because other PCs have invalidated him/her.
Players haven't changed. DMs haven't changed. Conventions and gamedays haven't changed.

My assertions are game-agnostic. They apply for any campaign where you have players that can move from DM to DM, from game to game, mixing and matching the party makeup. They call it "massively multiplayer" these days, I think, and it's not a bad moniker.

In such systems, it is unfair to the players to have the rug yanked out from under them if they are using what is completely legal and aboveboard, just because you, one single DM, have an opinion that it's "abusive".

Rules changes in such systems MUST be clearly outlined and documented, and happen on a regular schedule, posted in an easily accessible location.

Not 20 minutes into a game, and only for that one table, cos that DM didn't like something.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
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