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OOC General D20 and Tabletop RPG Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by LightWarden, Mar 5, 2005.

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  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    One query, I guess, Light: I'm assuming you've done some playing of 4e, so, for you, how does it feel? Does it feel faster than 3.5? Slower? Is there a temptation to skip roleplaying, or less roleplaying than with 3rd ed? What's your emotional/gut reaction to 4th ed?
  2. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Honestly, I vastly prefer it to 3rd edition, since it's actually gone and made non-caster classes valuable contributions as more than just speed bumps and janitors in service of their casting masters. 3rd edition's magic system is nightmarishly in favor of casters in just about all situations where the DM isn't deliberately gunning for them (and even then, they have safeguards). Being a weapons-using class is actually fun and interesting in this edition, even if there is some push towards specific weapons. Combat is generally faster given the streamlining, although the increased use of reaction abilities mean Play by Post can be a little trickier since you have to indicate conditionals like when a Wizard is going to use Shield. The disparity between classes is gone, so you don't have the wizard's actions making up 90% of the turn while the fighter full attacks (hitting with his first attack and then missing with the next three, dealing 20 points of damage). Save-or-die spells are almost completely gone, so the metagame is gone and you don't have to worry about the fact that if you were a caster who stocked up on damage dealing spells, you were pretty dumb. Ridiculous builds aren't completely gone, but it's a lot harder to force an extreme specialization down your enemies' throats. WotC is actually being more proactive about fixing flaws and broken things instead of the magical nightmare that was the polymorph chain of spells. As far as roleplaying goes, I think it's probably better in this edition, though there's nothing stopping you from playing it as a tabletop dungeon-crawling tactics wargame if you're so inclined. But the flavor infused in various classes and abilities plus the fact that the game encourages you to reskin powers and classes to better fit your concept means you can make a lot of different things. Personally, I have plenty of character concepts I'd love to use, even several different concepts for the same class, which is something pretty new. DMing is much better in this edition, since there's a logic to the numbers, so you can take a look at the capabilities of your players and plan accordingly without having to wonder why there's a character with +50 to Bluff at 6th level. Encounter design is a lot better, since they got rid of the pointless CR and EL system, which basically amounted to "just eyeball it". There still are some surprises that punch above their weight classes and it's still somewhat possible to set up difficult fights, but the DMGs give you good advice on what to do and how to make things interesting instead of "five orcs in a 20 x 20 room". Not that it was impossible to make interesting encounters in earlier editions, but the math was pretty floaty, as you and I both know. Whereas in this edition, if you want to have a room start flooding before releasing the gators, you can figure it out fairly easily. Some people might lament the loss of phenomenal casting powers and the delegation of utility spells such as teleport or phantom steed to rituals, but it means you can use them when you need them instead of deciding to be useless in or out of combat, though I advise that the DM provide the group with some sort of renewable ritual source. Also, while others may complain about the less lethal nature of the game, I prefer it to the earlier editions habit of turning long-time gamers into paranoid, cowardly and sociopathic kleptomaniacs instead of heroes.

    Overall, I find that 4e has jettisoned a great deal of the excess baggage that made 3.5e such a chore and made the rest of it interesting and fun, especially for newcomers. Your mileage may vary.

    Also, I still need to do a breakdown of the classes by power source. Might as well get on with that this week since I have the time.
  3. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    So, classes. Each class has what is called a power source, which is basically the thematic fuel for the characters, often with its own unique mechanics. This existed in prior editions, where you had divine magic, arcane magic and non-magic users, but it's been changed around a bit.

    The first power source I'll be discussing is the Martial power source. One of the problems with the previous editions was that non-casters didn't really bring as much to the table as magic users, and often were regulated to less satisfying roles. Some people may have accepted this, but they wanted to make it so that being a fighter was a valuable choice with its own offerings rather than something you did just because they needed someone to fill in the blanks.

    Martial heroes are basically Batman.

    They derive their abilities not from pacts with outsiders or channeling mystic energies, but rather from experience and dedicated training to hone their physical and mental abilities well beyond the means of ordinary people to become heroes. A wizard's spells may come from manipulation of magical energy of the cosmos while a cleric's prayers come from the gods, but a martial hero's exploits are his and his alone. They rely almost exclusively on weaponry and their physical capabilities, though there's room for sense, reason and grit in a martial character's arsenal.

    The Fighter is a Martial Defender, standing at the front between the enemies and her friends, heavily armored and heavily armed, ready to put the boot into some faces. A fighter defines the front lines, with a presence that's hard to ignore. If the fighter is swinging away at you, you're liable to catch an axe in the gut if you look away to go after her friends, and you're foolish enough to go run by one, you might just get stopped cold in your tracks by her superior skill in combat. Strength is a fighter's greatest ally, but a fighter's weapon choices can define her- finesse and dexterity are appreciated with blades, but swinging an axe or hammer might see better results with a solid body to throw into every blow. Some are less focused on the weapons themselves and more on styles, such as darting about the battlefield with two weapons to harass foes left and right, or clinging to life with sheer grit and drive no matter what punishment gets thrown their way, or even mix it up hand to hand chokeslam orcs through tables or something.

    In layman's terms: The fighter's marking system is basic, but effective. If the fighter attacks you, she can mark you, and if you attack someone else or attempt to shift away while mark, the fighter can make a free attack against you. Fighters also benefit from something called Combat Superiority, which boosts their Opportunity Attacks by their Wisdom and makes it so they stop moving enemies in their tracks, making them quite "sticky" when compared to other defenders. Fighters have some different options depending on weapon types, as light and heavy blades, flails and spears use Dexterity while axes and hammers use Constitution and polearms use Wisdom to open up new avenues. Fighters can specialize in one or two-handed weapons (for defense or damage, respectively), but they can also choose specializations such as the Tempest Technique fighter, who uses two weapons to increase damage and still provide for a bit of defense, as well as the Battlerager Vigor fighter, whose continued assaults grant her temporary HP that can serve as a buffer that makes it remarkably difficult to kill the fighter. Not dying is an excellent trait for a defender. Martial Power 2 introduced the Brawler fighter, focused around grappling foes into submission.

    The Ranger is a Martial Striker, at home in the wilds, an expert scout, tracker, and hunter. The ranger stalks the battlefield, selects a target and then rains destruction on him until he stops being a problem. Then the whole process is repeated. Some rangers favor wielding two weapons at once to unleash an avalanche of destruction on their opponents, while others prefer to use long-ranged
  4. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Totally agreed here. I was recently making a fighter character for 3.5, and I was almost completely underwhelmed by the experience, whereas creating a Martial character in 4e is actually pretty entertaining. Essentially with the 3.5 build, I felt like no matter how creative I got everything would boil down to "You have more hitpoints, go out there and soak," and it really was a downer. Can't speak much on how they play, seeing as I've only DMed 4e and haven't tackled it as a PC, but from a strict character-creation point of view, yeah.
  5. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    The Arcane power source has existed since the Magic User of the earliest edition of D&D, in contrast to the other abilities offered by the Cleric. An iconic fixture of fantasy, it's often the first thing you think of when you hear the word "magic". It's an energy that permeates the cosmos and can be manipulated through spells to achieve an enormous variety of effects as far as the mind can imagine. You can master the elements, the mind, the body, even space and time. There's an art to the arcane as well as a science.

    The Wizard is the arcane controller and an icon of arcane spellcasting. They study it, master it, mold and shape it through a measured practice to create something intricately beautiful. A wizard's spells cover a grand range, with waves of acid, walls of flame, mind-ensanring illusions and snarling creatures from other planes. A wizard's strength comes from the mind, intelligently forming magic into spells and unleashing them onto the world. Keen scholars, they're known for assembling quiet a collection of magical knowledge in their spellbooks, providing them with tools for any situation, including a variety of cantrips which always come in handy. Wizards are known to specialize in their various magical implements, coaxing extra power and effects out of their wands, staves, orbs and tomes in order to better serve their chosen abilities.

    The wizard was the sole controller in the first release of 4e, and it kind of showed that the role hadn't quite found its legs, with its spells being a mix of kind of rubbish and utterly amazing. With the release of more stuff they've really turned it around and given it among the widest array of options for a controller. Unlike most classes, the differences between wizards mostly come down to spell selection, as they don't have much in the way of "hard" difference the same way different rogues have different Rogue Tactics. Their Implement Mastery ability grants the wizard a bolstering encounter power based on the implement used: wands for accuracy, staves for defense, orbs for either imposing status effects or ensnaring with illusions and tomes for either boosting summons or providing alternate spells. At one point wizards were capable of stun-locking enemies by providing such ludicrous penalties to saving throws that even a solo couldn't save on a natural 20, though that was fixed in the errata. Wizards also have cantrips (which aren't exactly powerful, but fun from an RP perspective) and a spellbook which allows them to choose between daily spells, as well as granting them bonus rituals (but sadly, no free rituals like some of the later classes).

    The Warlock is an arcane striker. In retrospect, it was perhaps neither the safest nor brightest of ideas to swear oneself to a being of incredible power, but did you even have a choice in the matter? Or was there something you wanted, power perhaps? Whatever the reason, you're borrowing the abilities of something very powerful and turning them on your foes. But there's a price for your power, for the attention of your patron, and it remains to be seen who will ultimately pay it. Because when you invoke the power of your patron, you can curse your enemies, channeling extra power and drawing something else in return. It takes either a strong will to harness this power or a strong body to endure it. But when the stars themselves reward you for the defeat of your foes, should you not wonder why?

    Like the wizard, the warlock is a victim of them not entirely having a clear idea as to what they were doing. Unlike the wizard, it's not entirely clear if they've improved that much. The warlock sacrifices damage for control in order to lock down enemies, but has a bunch of powers that don't seem to do either. The center of the warlock is the pact, made with one of five general sources. The pact determines one of your at-will powers (the other being eldritch blast/strike) as well as a pact boon, which triggers when a target under your warlock's curse has been dropped to 0 HP or less.
  6. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    In the beginning, the gods stepped forth from the Astral Sea, and looked down at the world the primordials had raised from the churning Elemental Chaos. They were intrigued, and reached out to give it order, form, and life. The primordials were not amused. After the great devastation wrought by the Dawn War, the gods were cast away from the world, barred from directly interfering in the affairs of mortals. But they could speak to mortals, who in turn would act as their agents in the world, imbued with the power of the Divine. To wield divine power through prayers is to harness the forces of creation, life, order, and light to whatever ends you seek.

    The Cleric is the divine leader, the iconic follower of the gods. Among the most diverse of the divine agents, their prayers channeled through the strength of their arms as often as through their holy symbols. Ritually invested with power by their orders, they roam the land, healing the injured and channeling the energy of the Astral Sea to blast their foes and aid their allies. Truly, they are the hearts of the divine, and few possess either the strength of body or keen insight and will to wield that power.

    As far as leaders go, the cleric is probably the most flexible, since there are clerics of all stripes that can lead from the front with sword and shield, from the rear with spells or anywhere in between. The battle cleric uses weapons to strike down its foes, and suffers from being the most poorly supported and feat-intensive build if you want to get rolling in heavy armor, though they have taken steps to correct that (mostly in the form of releasing other classes, but I digress). At one point they had the greatest at-will power in the entire game, before WotC realized that allowing a character to grant his or her primary ability modifier as a bonus to hit to others kind of broke encounters. Hard to play, but excellent buffers. The Devoted Cleric is the ranged cleric, somewhat squishier and prone to hanging behind the defender line, slinging spells that deal damage and grant boosts to your allies' abilities. Well-rounded, the sheer amount of radiant damage such a cleric can throw down has earned them the nickname of "laser clerics", who can turn just about any vulnerable target to ash in no time at all (and can pick up the ability to make any target vulnerable). The shielding cleric is also known as the pacifist, whose strongest spells forgo damage in exchange for utterly debilitating the enemy. They are bar-none the greatest healers in the entire game.
  7. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Primal power source goes here.
  8. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Psionic power source goes here.
  9. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Shadow power source (and its sole occupant) goes here.
  10. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Elemental power source (of speculation) goes here.
  11. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Ki power source would have gone here, but they realized that they had basically created Power Source: Asia, and it was kind of awkward. All the ki classes were either relocated (monk moved to psionic) or had their elements stripped out and moved elsewhere (ninjas divided between rogues and assassins, samurai went into fighter, ranger and warlord, there was speculation about a hypothetical shinto archer that could probably have been better represented by one of the casting classes, etc).

    So this space is for something else.
  12. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
  13. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    *abuses mod powers to resurrect old thread* :D

    So in ToF, I'm thinking of having Corrath multiclass into Swordsage (from the Tome of Battle) next level.

    Based on my very cursory read-through of the book, the Swordsage does something special with martial stances and manoeuvres which I'll figure out later, but the pertinent thing is that the Swordsage can learn Assassin's Stance* which gives Sneak Attack +2d6. Which is awesome. Yes?

    *Technically this appears to be a 3rd-level ... thing ... but it looks like martial levels are calculated as Swordsage levels + 1/2 other class levels so it should be fine ... right?
  14. Dinkus_Mayhem Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2006
    star 3
    What level are you all at in ToF now days?
  15. Sith-I-5 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2002
    star 5
    There is a game with levelling?
  16. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Level 8, Dinkus. Probably going to hit 9 soon by most estimates. Definitely going to grab Bard 9 for Evelios because Inspire Greatness stacks with Inspire Courage.:D

    Well, that and viable PrCs for Buffer Bards are... lacking.

    Okay, RE: Swordsage... if I'm reading page 39 of ToB right, your effective level would be Swordsage 5 (1 Swordsage + 8 Rogue/2 = 5), which gives you access to 3rd level maneuvers, so you're all set.
  17. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    There is indeed a game with levelling, Sithy, and has been for some time. ;)

    Ramz - yeah that was my understanding as well. :D
  18. Dinkus_Mayhem Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2006
    star 3
    Yeah, Bards are a lot like Monks in that regard. You are just better off sticking with the core class cause they kick ass, in my opinion at least.
  19. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Thanks for the revival Xany.

    Anyways, regarding Swordsage, you would have an initiator level of 5, which means you could learn up to 3rd level maneuvers. Thing is, Corrath's strongest point is her full attack when the target is flanked/flat-footed, so picking maneuvers that require a standard action to activate aren't that interesting for your offense. As a 1st level swordsage, you'd have six maneuvers, four of which are readied. If there are four to six maneuvers open to the swordsage from levels 1 to 3, and one stance (which I'm guessing is Assassin's Stance) that seem interesting to you, then maybe a level is interesting. But if there are only one or two maneuvers you really want, you can swap one of your feats (like Weapon Focus (light blades), which is kind of unnecessary at this point) for Martial Study (insert maneuver here), and then take Assassin's Stance at level 10 with the Martial Stance feat (since you'll have an initiator level of 5 then as well). You do have up to 2 feats if you take your 10th level in Rogue (since you can take a feat instead of a rogue ability, though rogue abilities are pretty nice).

    It's your call.
  20. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    The thing is I'd like to take one level in something other than rogue, because - well - okay, a bit of Googling tells me we might cap out at level 12, and Rogue 12 is completely pointless. :p I mean, seriously, Trap Sense.

    There are quite a few manoeuvres that are swift actions, and they're the ones I'm mostly looking at as interesting. Such as ...

    Burning Blade - +1d6+5 (initiator level) damage for the rest of the turn
    Cloak of Deception - Turn invisible until end of turn.
    Shadow Garrotte - Okay, this is a standard action, but I am intrigued because it's basically Force Choke for 5d6 damage :p
    Flashing Sun - Full-round attack with an extra attack at the end, why not?

    ... that's only 4, but I'm sure I can find more with a bit more sleuthing.

    And yeah, the stance would be Assassin's Stance - Ramz, I checked, and stances are basically Always On Until You Turn Them Off, it seems.


    Re: Weapon Focus (light blades) - hm, this is true. Can I swap it out anyway? I've forgotten what the rules on feat-swapping are.
  21. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Basically, on level up you can, if you want to, swap out one feat, skill, etc, for another. So switching Weapon Focus for a Martial Stance is a viable option at level 9. I don't think you've got any feats that depend on Weapon Focus for qualification, so you should be safe there.

    Question comes down to which maneuver you choose, since like Skadi you don't get access to a stance without knowing a Martial Study maneuver first.

    Level in Swordsage would net you several extra maneuvers, but as Light says, it's putting off advancement in rogue and it has its drawbacks. At level 9 rogue IIRC you get another 1d6 to your sneak attack, so if you're going Swordsage, make sure you pick stuff that's going to make up for that loss in level.

    Cloak of Deception is obviously pretty handy since by definition you catch a target flatfooted when you attack from invisiblity, thus bringing on sneak attack damage. The trick, of course, being to close to 10 feet in range before turning invisible and then pulling out a full attack. And also bear in mind whilst swift actions consume less time, they're not free actions. You generally only get one swift action per round.
  22. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Some straight "Core class 20" builds are powerful, others are not. Fighter 20 is roughly 16 levels too many (the Dungeoncrasher ACF might justify you taking six levels.)

    There are decent PrCs for bards, but the problem is that they require more investment than one or two level dips, and to make matters worse (at least for us) they generally aren't available until you're in the teens so far as levels are concerned. They tend to try and make you an arcane caster with bard stuff tacked on at their upper levels -- things like improving Illusion or Enchantment schools -- rather than turning you into an ultrabard as such.

    The ones I've heard good things about are Sublime Chord and Virtuoso, but as I said they're not really worth one or two level dips. Even combat oriented bards start to get good around the levels we're at (as seen, chiefly because of Snowflake Wardance and the Harmonising, Sudden Stunning Crystal Echoblades) but the biggest key to keep up are a magic item called Slippers of Battledancing: 30,000 gp or so and they allow you to (IIRC) add CHA to attack and damage. Odds are against us getting there in this campaign.

    One possibility for combat bards is Swiftblade, which is a Web Enhancement for Complete Mage and is a "meh" to middling investment for a couple of levels if you've more or less maxed out your potential already. But as noted, it's not likely you'd get to the higher levels of the PrC.
  23. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    I disagree. We need merely hit level 11 and then William can create a spell chain that generates 3 million gold.[face_whistling]
  24. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    You mean your ridiculous Diplomacy/Bluff/Perform modifier doesn't already give you that capability? :D

    Xan, on Swordsage: I take the view that taking a level or so in it isn't that much different from ramza's choice back at level 8 to either take Snowflake Wardance or Words of Creation. It's perhaps not the most optimal thing in the world to do, but it's still reasonable, and if you're feeling like doing something a bit different with your character, you're not flushing Corrath's effectiveness down the toilet.

    What I'm interested in, characterwise, is how we write up your sudden conversion from a rogue to Miyamoto Musashi. :D I have personal fanon that the Ninefold Path, which you've seen me refer to, derives its power from ki and that there's a sort of 'Force whisper' when someone uses it. Possibly Corrath could hit up Skadi to try and teach her the basics, which she then branches out from to manipulate ki in her own way -- i.e. as a Swordsage, using the Shadow Hand schools rather than the Divine Spirit.

    I can tell you there is someone who's planning to go a level in Warblade next level, so there's that possibility as well. Any ideas?
  25. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Now that would be an entertaining exchange:

    Corrath: Hey, Skadi, teach me some ki meditation stuff?
    Skadi: ... Really?
    Corrath: Yes, I'm thinking of being, you know, less chaotic. More steady. Like you.
    Skadi: I find this hard to believe, but alright. *teaches*
    Corrath: Awesome! *goes off and uses the skills to be all shadowy instead of divine*
    Skadi: *facepalm*

    :p

    Corrath has had a few changes of heart recently (or maybe just accelerated growing-up) so it's perhaps not all that much of a stretch for her to decide she wants to actually study something more intellectual/spiritual instead of leaping into the fray with blades flashing. Or maybe she starts hearing this 'Force whisper' when she does stuff and decides to investigate it (perhaps with Skadi's help), and in the process discovers she has some talent for it? I'm not sure. I'll have to do a bit more reading. [face_thinking]


    Warblade is (IIRC, anyway; don't have the books with me) not such a good choice for Corrath because they don't have access to the Shadow Hand school. But maybe we could do some joint character development there?
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