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I have a problem with variable resistance. It only seems to punish a few classes. Back in the day monsters like demons and devils had resistances and immunities to various wizard/cleric spell effects such as fire, cold & electricity. I understand why that has been parred down for 4e to variable resistance. I do not think that variable resistance has been thought out well. It seems to punish a few classes such as infernal &fey warlocks, wizards, and some sorcerer builds and others that do not have a way to negate immunity or rely on radiant/untyped damage to get around them. I propose a different form of variable resistance. I called it variable defense.
Minor demons gain a resistance of +2 to any defense (including AC) for the encounter. Once chosen it cannot be changed. This would replace variable resistance 5.
Major demons gain of reistance of +4 to any defense (including AC) for an encounter twice per encounter. The second resistance chosne replaces the first choice. The demon does not get two defenses at +4. This would replace variable variable resistance 10 twice per encounter.
I feel that these changes would make demons and other creatures with variable resistance much more effective because the DM can use demons to fit the party he is fighting. All martial characters would draw AC defenses where a mixed party may get a reflex defense response. I think that this does not penalized character choice in the way that the current system does and still give casters a choice of powers instead of channeling their powers through weaplements to get past resistances and just using a single spell form such as fire or lighting for every attack.
I also think that this would make martial attacks that target reflex or more rarely fort or will much more attractive since it would allow those characters to bypass AC resistant demons. I feel that this strikes a fair balance between honoring the resistances of demons and devils from prior D&D works without unfailrly singling out and weakening one type of character which is one of the hallmarks of the 4E approach.
Playtest it and let us know how it goes foryou. I would be interested in the following:
My gut feeling is that it neither adds nor detracts from the fun, but adds more management work for the DM. But I am a comfortably lazy DM.
The Denomicon also offers several alternatives for variable resistance. I often pick those, not because my group is hurt all that much by variable resistance (the wizard, warlock and swordmage have a large variant of elemental attacks and they tend to use minor attacks to trigger the resistances to the wrong element before using major attacks), but I prefer the simpler sollutions It is rather easy to forget variable resistance, and more often than not, it does not have any effect at all. I don't have the Denomicon at hand though to describe some of the alternatives...
I actually like the defence buff idea (oddly enough despite having demononicon, I havent checked out its alternatives). I often have a hard time remembering resistances, and having a resistance that changes is even more annoying.
Tje Idea really has Promise, The only flaw in it seems to be that Certain PP Features Feats and Class features would no longer assist the Player at all, A good Example is the Sorc who Ignores Resist 5 1 type Determined by source at first, at 11 it jumps, and at 21 It increases again, That as well would need to change to prevent losing a class feature Though Some of those features are broken out of the box, Ignoring resist 15 of one type is pretty much negating that ability except for very extreme cases With resist 20+ which are very rare. One I believe Wizards did not really think through.
Also fixed resistances Such as Devils, How would those be reflected, Since many Key word abilities can target one of 2 Defenses depending on which iteration of the power is used. Fire for example depending on class and spell may target fort or reflex alternating between them With each power selected. Very few Martial abilities target will while spell casters of certain classes target it heavily due to either limits on spell selection, or Features that make it the preferred defense. Not a fault on your Ideas, a fault on wizards for their Nerf Engineering of the classes, by limiting what a class does it made resist far too powerful originally, then with the future ooks made it pointless. I do like a penalty to Martial abilities though Demons and other creatures used to Have damage resistance/reduction as well, and that leveled the playing field in pre 3.x D and D Since Spellcasters might be able to damage a balor for half damage, where as a fighter needed a +3 weapon to hurt the thing. The biggest issue I found was that this was also fairly arbitrary, and Could really cause major issues in an encounter as was the case at times with golems which were Immune to the wizard's spells And if the fighter didn't have the right plus of weapon it became invincible.
In 4 Strangely there is little reason to Nerf Fireball (Damage is Unremarkable even if dealt in full 4d6 +int +Implement Daily) And Every reason to Nerf Say twin strike with some resistance (2D12 +Bracers of BS +Weapon +1d8 at heroic? at will? Really there is no room for -5 damage to that?) The rolls are a little one sided there, Even against a Sorc or Warlock Who would need to pop a lvl 1 Daily to catch up to that potential. So the implementation of Resistences was pretty flawed from the get go. SHame the only way that they could resolve it was to Make it worthless though With classes like the Mage and Sorc, and A feat tax on other classes typically at Paragon or Epic to get around it not that it ever really bothered aany wizard, Spell book and variety of Wizard powers as well as not having to drop any of your old ones works well since you can just grab spells with every damage type Cast 2 that you don't care about to force the thing to lock down it's resist, then start using your normal rotation against the offending Demon, or just not use Spells with type X after the first rest against any thing else.
Other than the first concern of losing a feature of a class, however; is the general mechanic of 4 makes hit the premium stat, for all classes. Sure reigning in a striker is good, but higher hit becomes dangerous against tanks and leaders Who often need to hit to use their Mark or to heal the party. Worse for Leaders who tend not to get the built in bumps they need at least not like the strikers and Defenders.
I don't have any Wonderful solutions here As leaving it does weaken a couple of certain classes, Well one, since really all it does on the warlock is negate their d6 roll or modifier from their ability if you really look at it, And Fails to reign in the SOrc who will just activate Spell fury and Kick their accuracy up to compensate. Rangers, It does impact since they have double attack rolls, But it is less of a concern for the other martial heavy hitters, who only need to hit once, It weakens the fighter mark and Makes the Pally mark and aegis of Defense slightly more powerful since they do not hinge on a to hit, And it makes leader hit to heal powers less predictable. Resist as it stands Impacts the warlock slightly, Lose the curse Die effectively, and maybe your weapon or Modifier damage, The Sorc It is laughable unless you are using a random resistance, Martial classes it has no effect either way, Divine, Well maybe if it is an angel resist hurts, But angel encounters aren't exactly common. Maybe a preference would be instead a debuf as an Immediate Interrupt So that it does hit, and stop one person eg -2 to attack rolls Save ends -4 for the big boys and encounter /recharge respectively. This way it works on the classes who actually can hurt it, Since any thing smart is going to save it for the Strikers, or a particularly problematic defender. It is yet another possibility to consider.
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