Jul 30, 2008

4E: An analysis of sorts - "The tyranny of balance"

I've been thinking more about D&D lately than I have in years. As an active player, that is to say A LOT! The more discussion and discourse that I see and involve myself in, the more evident the divide becomes. I have taken positions on both sides of the debate. 4e has merits, yes. But so does 3e. This post will address the WHY of my 3.5/PFRPG preference. If that doesn't appeal to you, no harm done, if it does - read on.

THE TYRANNY OF BALANCE

This is loosely based upon the flawed "tyranny of fun" argument put forth with great gusto from RPGpundit. Highly recommend checking out his thoughts, there's some good stuff there. At first, I was a supporter of his view, but that has changed a bit. More on that later.

Is balance a bad thing? Not necessarily. Too much red meat in your diet = colon cancer. So a balanced diet is good, balanced checkbook are also good. Like so many things, though, it can be taken to unwelcome extremes. Communism is one such extreme - of democracy. Fascism on the other end of the spectrum. No, I am not calling the great poeple working for wizards communists. It is simply an example - an allegory of "too much of a good thing".

I'd love to throw a "it's that simple" quip in there, but there's more to it. I think that wizards tapped a nerve here that they never even knew existed, and appear to be struggling to understand. In changing the dynamic of how the game actually works, they have exposed a rift between the way people play. Imagine for a moment what would happen if it was announced that in 4.5 (it's inevitable) that the role-playing elements have been found to disrupt the tactical balance of the game...and have been removed. Yeah, it's kinda like that.

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

dy·nam·ic
adjective.
1.
a. Of or relating to energy or to objects in motion.
b. Of or relating to the study of dynamics.
2. Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress: a dynamic market.
3. Marked by intensity and vigor; forceful. See Synonyms at
active.
4. Of or relating to variation of intensity, as in musical sound.

noun.
1. An interactive system or process, especially one involving competing or conflicting forces.
2. A force, especially political, social, or psychological: the main dynamic behind the revolution.

I am referring, primarily, to the first noun definition. I will open myself up to critique by taking a firm stance on my "take" of what this single sentence means to my gaming experience.

In all previous editions of the game, the action centers around the individual player. Each character a unique (for better or worse) living, breathing concept, that if done properly, becomes part of a dynamic group of other unique individuals. In a discussion on www.chattydm.net/ I called this a "lone wolf" character. This was the dynamic that the game was built around. The concept of the group of adventurers. With the new edition, this has at it's most fundamental level, it is now less about individual character, as it is the role the character fills in the "Heroic Team". (I can only wonder how this will work out for a party of chaotic evil characters - you know, the every man for himself types?) essentially, the dynamic is between having a unique identity within a group, as opposed to being a required piece in a 5 part mathematical formula.

This is where things start going south for me. IMO the "Tyranny of Balance" is the problem here. It is such an issue in this edition, that the classes are nothing but flavor to sprinkle a little bit on the "role" that needs to be filled.

role
noun.
1. also role A character or part played by a performer.
2. The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual.
3. A function or position.
4. Linguistics The function of a word or construction, as in a sentence.

Here we see the problem with this design philosophy. The word EXPECTED. This is where I lost all desire to play an adult campaign in this edition. I make a character to fill an expected role or position within a homogeneous team. Instantly all thoughts of playing out of the box needs cease to preserve "balance" as a core mechanic. We won't even get into how broken the multiclassing mechanic is...and it IS indeed broken, unless you like your sauce weak and useless, that is.

I can only wonder how non geeks would appreciate being told that their care is in the "role" of commuter vehicle, therefore it will conform to the balanced aspects of said role. That is; low horsepower, small size, static options, etc. BUT HEY! you can still pick the model and color right!? I can see and feel the nastiness trying to creep back in, so I'll tone it back down.

I do not like being TOLD how my character SHOULD be played. It's just like that. The great peoples (no sarcasm) over at Wizards have taken this edition WAY too far down the path of one-size-fits-all. The "tyranny of fun" argument was misplaced with the stupid cave slime example, THIS is where it lives. It is right at the heart of the system, not in some silly little table, buried in the middle of a book. Want to play a ranger? Good, you're the striker. Just. Like. That. Even worse, where's the customization? Everything that has been set aside for you in terms of powers are designed specifically to reinforce that role. Even within it's own framework this has problems. You cannot fill any other role. Sure, THAT particular angle can/will be fixed...after another parade of splatbooks. And thus, the cycle begins again...

I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself, my mileage has certainly varied, so I can only expect that yours has as well. I can't help but wonder where all of the 3E haters were hiding all these years. You know, the same years that brought a "renaissance" to the industry? I've also never had anyone exploit a rules loophole. I hear there are oodles of them, does this make me blind? Maybe soft headed for not realizing my game was little more than a series of "broke-suck" held together by hopes and prayers? Most of them seem to me, to be a bit over-reaching. Pun-pun? How many hours do you think it took one dude to figure that out? I'm digressing, but if you make a hobby of looking for rules exploits, I doubt you will ever be disappointed.

IMO, 4th edition came about, because they got into the same trap that TSR did, namely - bloat. No matter how cool your product is, and no matter how hardcore your audience, they aren't going to shell out 30 bucks for a product more than say 1.2 times. (the .2 covers replacement copies, just an estimate) Simply put, they were running out of products that they could reasonably sell. This, IMO is why we got a bunch of tiny hardcovers that could EASILY (some say should've) been merged into one - Elder evils and Exemplars of evil, half the Complete series, most of the FR splatbooks...you get the idea.

This is why the new edition came out. Anyone who can prove me wrong is welcome to, I'll eat crow if it's the right thing to do. It wasn't a cash grab, it was a desperate leap out of a painted in corner. Now we start anew, but the pattern can already be seen repeating themselves. Heck! The "Core" books are even being release in splat style! Don't believe me? Try playing a Barbarian today...ooohh! Too easy!

28 comments:

jonathan said...

We won't even get into how broken the multiclassing mechanic is...and it IS indeed broken, unless you like your sauce weak and useless, that is.
I was once a fan of multiclassing in 4E - oh, for about three days - but that was because I completely misunderstood how multiclassing works. After two of my readers /bonked me on the head with the Staff of Correction I had my eyes opened - and now, I agree with you : Multiclassing, as it stands, blows and is broken. But.. hey, who needs it right? Maybe you could throw your 2¢ in on "Why Have Classes At All?"

I was ROFLMAO, btw - added you to my blog roll. nice post!

Ravyn said...

I'd say the problem with the defined roles isn't so much the fact that a given class is stuck in a given role as the interaction between said role-stickiness and the requirement of a balanced team as 4E stands. My first (and only, so far) battle in 4E happened right after the guy who'd been going to play the fighter stomped out, and... well, let's put it this way, the warlord being as close as the group comes to having a tank is just asking for trouble. And I've never liked the four-flavors thing, since I'm always the last one to come up with a concept and as a result tend to get stuck in the Role That Hasn't Been Filled Yet when such things are necessary.

TheLemming said...

Your posting reflects pretty good the current situation of the fourth edition. Sad as it is, I am glad that Chatty has wound up that great posting about community involvement, though I have to admit, I doubt anything will change in the near future. In my eyes wizards has lost a lot in the last years and not just with the release of the fourth edition, but starting with the last releases of the Complete series.

And you hit the spot, balance is great, a lot of balance is a hindrance and utter balance just kills every last bit of flair an rpg has/had.

I remember a cool campaign of mercenaries in 3.5, with all players setting up their characters around the fighter class :). I doubt that would work out in the fourth edition.

And given all the core mechanics that would have to be adapted, I doubt 4th edition will catch up with PFrpg any time soon when it comes to flavour. Can't wait the beta release at the moment :).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts mate.

jonathan said...

I was going to leave another comment - but it gone a bit long an rambly, so I posted something over on thecoremechanic with a trackback. In the meantime enjoy this piece from Wired magazine. I fell out of my chair laughing. No, really... i did.

Donny_the_Dm said...

WOW! I must've punched a sore kidney or something. More comments than ever w00t!

Seriously though, I've argued on both sides of the fence, mostly against for months. After finally biting the bullet, I borrowed the core books and spent some "quality time" with them.

This post was the result. The system is tight, coherent, easy to learn, and boring.

I admit, I was hoping to start a more argumentative discussion - I was hoping to be shown something I missed, alas, it wasn't meant to be...yet.

@Jonathan - thanks for the links, I'll be headed over there shortly.

@Ravyn - Thanks for coming! The over-emphasis on teameork has, IMO really detracted from the game as a whole. Much as a raid group in WoW falls apart in true domino style if one necessary character goes down...much more so that in 3.5.

@Lemming - Stay away from cliffs bro! lol, PFRPG is looking mighty good right now. I like how they are actually firewalling the core crunch from their Golarion fluff. This will allow folks to play what they want, while still having a sweet looking "default" setting to fall back on.

Thank you for you're time gentlemen, Your input is what will make this a great place to go!

Graham|ve4grm said...

I do not like being TOLD how my character SHOULD be played. It's just like that. ... Want to play a ranger? Good, you're the striker. Just. Like. That.

I think the problem is that you're looking at it backwards (which is how the older editions looked at it).

In 3.X, you decided your class, and then customised it to fit your character concept.
"I'm going to play a Fighter."
"Good. Would you like to be a Striker or Defender type?"

This let to some issues, where certain classes (cough, Druid, cough) had far more customization options, and were thus able to fill the main roles of other classes (Fighter) better than those classes. Everything being able to be everything causes problems.

In 4e, however, you need to reverse that. Decide what you want to do as a character first, and then pick a fitting class.
"I want to be a hard-hitting melee fighter!"
"Good! What class would you like to use for that? The best are Rogue and Ranger, but you can do decently as a Fighter as well."

This is a shift in perceptions that is difficult for many 3.X players. For those of us who played d20 Modern, however, this is how we've been playing since 2002.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Graham! Good to see you. Shouldn't you be "cough" working on something? lol.

You are right to an extent. But there are some caveats:

-there is NO (meaningful) support for an "out of the box" character type. i.e. one that wants to move fluidly between roles. My example would be a fighter that has spent feats to be reasonably good at melee & ranged combat, switching between the two as needed. While it is still technically possible, the power structure doesn't support it, and you would be a fool to do so.

-Even in your example, that still only leaves 2 options for a character. I was once challenged by a poster about what character conceot "couldn't be made in 4e" Barb & monk would be too easy. How about nearly any PrC out there? Just as an example though, a warmage. An expanded core 3e class that was a heck of a lot of fun to play. Where is it? I can't even multiclass a scabber to fill it's boots.

-The powers are too specialized to do anything outside of your "role". THIS is what it's all about. In d20 modern (excellent game BTW) you could freely multiclass anytime you wanted to, in order to get that flexibility. 4e simply doesn't have it. It's not even close.

IMO, going from "what kind of fighter" to "what kind of defender" is a step backwards. As I said before though YMMV.

Thanks for coming by dude! It's good to see the folks that inspired me to do "this" coming by to discuss these geeky things ;)

Donny_the_Dm said...

oops...one more little thing. What about generalization? I liked playing a mystic theurge, but hybidizing a controller/defender-leader seems inpossible. I am VERY curious as to how they are going to do the bard.

Problem is, ther is no making a character "yours" you are simply filling a role. It's hard to explain, but I can feel the beginnings of the complete thought forming at the back of my head...

C'mon back! There's more to this!

Graham|ve4grm said...

My example would be a fighter that has spent feats to be reasonably good at melee & ranged combat, switching between the two as needed.

Ranger, pick and choose powers from both sides.

Alternately, Fighter, and grab some Ranger multiclass. Go two-handed Fighter, and you even get a +1 to bow attacks.

Essentially, give me a character sheet, and I could write up something that would likely be satisfactory to you.

Just as an example though, a warmage. An expanded core 3e class that was a heck of a lot of fun to play. Where is it? I can't even multiclass a scabber to fill it's boots.

Warmage tended to focus a lot on area effects, so you should be able to build a competent Warmage from a straight Wizard build. What's missing?

Alternately, if you'd rather focus on high-damage blastey spells, go Infernal Warlock, with some Wizard multiclass for some area spells to pad it out.

IMO, going from "what kind of fighter" to "what kind of defender" is a step backwards.

And IMO, building a character to match your play style is the best way to go. Otherwise, you're trying to match your assumed solution (class) to the problem. This most often results in a solution that isn't suited to the problem being forced into place.

Part of this is the engineer in me talking.

If the client says "I want you to design an apple-picking robot", you don't design an apple-picking robot. At least not yet. That's an expensive, difficult, and overcomplicated project. Instead, you figure out why they want that robot (they want to be able to get apples down from the trees with less effort), and then present them with a better solution (in this case, it was a truck-mounted machine that shook the tree and caught the falling apples).

So if "I want to be a Fighter!" is actually "I want to hit things hard and fast!", you should be looking for things that hit things hard and fast in the first place, regardless of whether or not those are Fighters.

--

As for generalization, you are correct in that you are generally in a single role. But the problem with that statement is that cross-role characters in 3.X were either:

- Uber, filling both roles while making the other players feel useless.
- or crappy, filling neither role well, and making that player feel useless.

But 4e multiclassing still does let you dabble into a second role decently well.

Bard, by the way, will be fairly well set into the Leader role, I think. It should have some control abilities, like Illusions or Charms, but it should primarily be a Leader.

continued in next post.

Graham|ve4grm said...

As for there being no way to make a character "yours", let me tell you about my next character.

Back when I started 3e, I played a Gully Dwarf (from Dragonlance) Paladin. Chaotic Neutral. My website is named after him.

He lasted a couple sessions, and then (while I was away) was thrown to some nymphs by the rest of the party, so that they could escape.

My first 4e character is also going to be a Gully Dwarf (custom race) Paladin.

He is a descendant of the first one, and as such he has a fey bloodline. (heh, dirty)

He's a tough bugger, none too bright, but always pulls through in a pinch.

He's going to be an Unaligned Paladin, multiclassed into Fey Warlock. This both represents his fey bloodline, and lets him run away when he's frightened (often).

Seriously, if I can make this character in 4e, I can make you a build for pretty much anything.

Oh, and yes, that includes Barbarian, Monk, non-shapeshifting Druid etc. In fact, one of the players in this game will be playing a Druid. Elemental Witch-style, made from a reflavouring of the Wizard.

--

Also, I fucking hate the Blogger comments interface. Why the hell isn't this box at the bottom?

jonathan said...

@ The Lemming : you said: "I am glad that Chatty has wound up that great posting about community involvement" -- Can you provide the link? =D

jonathan said...

@graham: ah geez... just when I said "for the record... multiclassing blows in 4E" you are making me rethink (yet again) my position on this. Argh!

"Also, I fucking hate the Blogger comments interface. Why the hell isn't this box at the bottom?" /applause and the crowd goes wild. TYVM! Some bloggers put the comment box a popout... other on their own page. Niether is a great solution. I think there's a bit of javacode somewhere on the net you can inject into your blogger template for same page comments. BRB.. I'll go dig it up...

... ... .. . OK, here it is... they've made it part of blogger DRAFT.

Login to your blogger account using this address: http://draft.blogger.com. From the Dashboard, click SETTINGS for your blog, then chick COMMENTS, then for "Comment Form Placement" choose the radio button for "Embedded Below Post". Scroll to the bottom, click SAVE.

that should about do it.

Graham|ve4grm said...

@jonathan -

Yeah, that's kinda my job. Just ask Phil (ChattyDM).

I'm a professional skeptic, and I transfer that to others. I get people to question what they believe, especially if they don't have solid support for it.

This doesn't mean I get people to change their minds. Sometimes questioning the belief results in a change of opinion. Sometimes it results in the opinion actually becoming stronger, due to facts discovered during the questioning.

The important part is asking the questions in the first place.

How can you truly have a solid opinion about something unless you at least explore at the alternatives?

ChattyDM said...

Damn Donny, that's probably the fastest conversion from unread to commented on blogs I've ever seen.

Congrats (The bill is in the mail)

Keep it up... just don't hit the same nail too many times :)

TheLemming said...

@ The Lemming : you said: "I am glad that Chatty has wound up that great posting about community involvement" -- Can you provide the link? =D
Shouldn't you know that one already?
http://chattydm.net/2008/07/29/chatty-on-4e-understanding-the-dd-geek/

TheLemming said...

@Graham: No doubt with 4e you can create pretty much everything, but all fey-warlock-paladins will share very much the same skills, options and abilities.
it is hard to argue the point further - but the possibilities are narrowed down and you just lost a lot of options in comparison to other systems.
What I don't understand is, why should you accept adapting 4e, while it is pretty playable, it defines its players via combat and combat related skills (a lot more than other systems did it so far) - and offers less options in other fields.
I remember the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition and I know the arguments were not too different from the current situation - but in back then there was an open licensing system that was offering very quickly adaption and improvement by so many authors and publishers... For the fourth edition it's not even legal (the way I understand it) to release a free fan-adventure now...

Donny_the_Dm said...

@ Chatty - I agree, and am a bit amazed to boot. Thanks for swinging by!

@Jonathan - Fixed, as you can see, thanks for the assistance!

@Graham - Well now, called out? lol. Good, I was hoping for some good discussion on this. My big question for you would be:

How exactly can you pull off anything even remotely resembling a multiclass with the current rules?

The way it reads to me, you have to give up (an admittedly weak) feat, to trade for a single power from the appropriate list. How does 1 power, even from the short lists provided give anything meaningful to a character?

How does a wizard who can now "mark" bad guys equate into a multiclass wiz/Pal or Wiz/Rang?
How does a warlock who can now stab people with "ringing blades" or somesuch suddenly become like a rogue?

With 3e, you got not only the title (that meant something) but the skills, and the full monte. The way I read it, you get one power at the cost of one feat. This usually translates into a carbon copy attack option that now two or three people at the table are going to get to repetitively use, or a minor passive bonus to something your character isn't supposed to be able to do anyway.

If I am incorrect in my assumptions, please feel free to correct. My .PDF's are at home, so my ability to read and cite specifics obviously will suffer until I can get home.

As to your gully dwarf paladin...lol! Never heard a more novel concept. Of course, it may not be a GREAT example due to it's creative and arguably unsupported stepping outside the RAW.

I admit, a lot of it was the "feel" of the game as it was played. I won't go into nauseating detail, as this is the most subjective part of a game there is. It just doesn't feel right. Oh...in answer to your challenge, here's a curveball - Warrior of darkness. It's aPrC from the book of vile darkness, basically a nasty fighterish piece of work, and a favorite for my evil PC's and NPC's

I can't help but feel this is apples to oranges. Most of the classes I want to throw out there are either PrC's like the ragemage, or based on classes yet unreleased (same one).

We may end up agreeing to disagree and shaking hands until more supplements are released. Who knows, I may have changed my mind in the meantime. BTW, I am still playing 4e with my small group (my wife and daughter, and another couple and their son.) I may just be feeling a bit angsty since we havent played ANYTHING for 3 weeks.

In any event, thanks for chiming in Graham, your opinion has definite value here, even if you're wrong ;)

TheLemming said...

@Donny & Graham
How does a wizard who can now "mark" bad guys equate into a multiclass wiz/Pal or Wiz/Rang?
How does a warlock who can now stab people with "ringing blades" or somesuch suddenly become like a rogue?


While I agree on the "it's not the same" as it was with 3e multiclassing, it does have a huge merit. In 3e multiclassing, unless you were specialised in tweaking characters it was very hard to take "just a level of wizard/fighter/rogue" - since you had to face a lot of loss.
Remember? Who would pick a fighter level once you were wizard10 - for balance's sake when you got a group of 10 level 11 characters and one had multiclassed (other than hard obligatory rogue level 1) his power level was seriously below his companions. I think the 4e approach to multiclassing does have merit (though I still don't like the game behind it). But try it and think about it once you've gained a few levels - with the totally streamlined system of 4e you can multiclass into pretty much every second class and will gain a slight edge - which is more than the typical difference of two fighters in this system - so it is ultimatively (imho) necessary to create interesting characters in that system.

jonathan said...

@thelemming : Really? I'm no lawyer, but it seems that nominal use clause allows us all to create material that is compatible with the system -- but I digress.

@DonnyTheDM : Warrior of Darkness? Your the DM, eh? This will be a creep/monster/NPC or whatever you want to call it? NOT a PC played by a human being? Then, you could - make an evil paladin using the DMG system for NPC classed monsters (p.183,DMG), then throw on the Death Knight (p.177), Death Master (p.178) or Shadowborn Stalker (p.181) templates on top. You could even further add pain to misery and apply a racial template as well - say the Shadar-Kai (p.279,MM) would do nicely. The nice thing about 4E, IMHO, is that as the DM you can still customize creeps out the wazzoo, only it takes about 15m, not 2 hours to do it.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Interesting POV, that multiclassing becomes necessary to be "unique" among other members of the same class.

That addresses a pretty important issue with me. Once again, we come down to a subjective experience. The only time I have ever taken rogue @ level 1 (unless playing an actual rogue) was in neverwinter nights.

I agree that 3e encourages build optimization, but is TEAM optimization really going to be any different?

I DO like the cherry picker nature of 4e multiclass, but I don't feel that you can get any real flavor from ganking a couple of powers during your career. Especially if they are all from different sources. That sounds more like a way to encourage even moreso the dreaded pirate-ninja-rogue-wizard-half dragon-half celestial-sorceror crap I used to drop the hammer on in my own group.

I mean what possible RP justification can be had for a wizard-ranger-rogue-monk-paladin? It's ridiculous. In a game where everything is possible, a single unique individual could pull it off (think a certain scimitar wielding drow) but what if some terrible combo like this becomes an "optimal build"?

Pass the beef, hold the cheese!

Donny_the_Dm said...

@jonathan, good point.

It's actually a PC Iam playing in our age of worms game. A ranger fighter build (NE Vashar from BoVD) fun character to play, if your into murder, torture, and generally killing the paladins that seem to keep trying to join the group!

Score so far: 6 PC & NPC scalps. Go my players hate it when I play the game!

Donny_the_Dm said...

As far as this conversation is going, you guys are making excellent points. I will examine it further tonight. Just bear in mind, I could make the character in GURPS too, I choose not to do so, because I just don't like GURPS. There's nothing wrong with the game, it is simply personal preference.

Graham|ve4grm said...

it is hard to argue the point further - but the possibilities are narrowed down

Well, of course they are. It's a core book compared to a 10-year-old system. In pure core 3e and 3.5e, a Rogue looks like 90% of other Rogues, too.

But I'd be I could do every concept that was possible in the core book of 3e or 3.5e with 4e, with the exception of shapeshifting.

How exactly can you pull off anything even remotely resembling a multiclass with the current rules?

What thelemming said.

Also, the initial multiclassing feat gives you a skill and a class ability (sneak attack, for instance).

4e's multiclassing rules are actually better, IMO, at portraying a multiclass character than was usually possible in 3e.

But, again, you need to get away from thinking in terms of class titles. You're not a Fighter/Wizard, you're a warrior who dabbles in magic. No, you can't make a Fighter 10/Wizard 10, but you can make the equivalent.

Aside from straight half/half classes, how does a Wizard 10/Fighter 1 represent a Fighter/Wizard somehow better than a Wizard with Fighter powers, marking, +1 to attack, and armour and weapon feats?

As to your gully dwarf paladin...lol! Never heard a more novel concept. Of course, it may not be a GREAT example due to it's creative and arguably unsupported stepping outside the RAW.

Aside from the race, everything will be RAW, and races weren't the issue here so far. Replace Gully Dwarf with Gnome (naturally fey, then) and do the same thing.

I DO like the cherry picker nature of 4e multiclass, but I don't feel that you can get any real flavor from ganking a couple of powers during your career. Especially if they are all from different sources.

Then how does getting +1 BAB, fewer skill points, and armour proficiency give you Fighter flavour, while "Fighty" melee powers, a bonus to attack, and a Fighter skill don't?

Or, take Rogue. In 3.X, you could get sneak attack at a level far below yours, evasion if you too a couple levels, and a bunch of skill points. In 4e, you can get sneak attack at an appropriate level (though limited uses), a bonus trained skill (arguably more useful than a one-time infusion of skill points), and a variety of Rogue-like powers to use, including ones that make you more maneuverable.

As for the different sources, you can't do that. You can multiclass into a single other class, unless you're a Half-Elf, which can have a bonus power from a third. Perhaps it should be called Dual Classing, but that brings back bad memories.

So you're right, a Wizard/Rogue/Ranger/Monk/Paladin is rediculous. That's why it isn't possible in 4e.

I could make the character in GURPS too, I choose not to do so, because I just don't like GURPS. There's nothing wrong with the game, it is simply personal preference.

Agreed. But the argument I'm refuting is that it's not possible to create different or unique characters. I don't care if you like it. I just care that you're wrong. :-P

I'll tackle the build in the next comment.

Graham|ve4grm said...

Warrior of Darkness:

Well, first off, I'd probably go with the "build it as a monster" statement from jonathan. But if a player wanted to play this:

Lessee... Black Magic Oil and Elixer grant bonuses to himself, including feats.

Darkling Weapon makes a weapon temporarily +1.

Scarred Flesh grants DR. This is now Resistance in 4e.

Repellant Flesh gives SR. This is either resistance or nonexistent.

--

Okay, can I first say that this class is mechanically incredibly boring?

Now, what kinds of bonuses do Black Magic Oil and Elixer give...

- Bonuses to stats. These are out, as you get plenty of stat-ups in 4e.
- Bonuses to AC. Also out, in the consolidation of bonuses that add to AC, or temporary, as powers.
- Bonus to speed. Fleet-footed feat.
- Bonus feats. Nope. You get a feat every two levels now, regardless of class. This was only to make up for the feats lost by switching away from Fighter anyways.
- Malign Fury. Action Points. Part of every character now.
- Smite Good. No longer tied to alignment.
- Tremorsense. Odd ability for this class, but alright.
- Demonic Wings. Flight. Gotcha.

Honestly?

Evil Paladin. Wizard multiclass, eventually.

Paladins in 4e gain and grant temporary bonuses (to AC, attack, etc) with their powers. Bonuses to stats and feats are unneeded for the character concept, and are out for the reasons above. Speed bonus is a feat. Malign Fury is an Action Point, which you have by default. Smites affect whoever you smite, regardless of alignment, but Paladins get those.

The Wizard Multiclass in Paragon levels will allow you to grab the Fly spell in place of Demonic Wings (and you can flavour it as such without lifting a finger).

Alternately, use Fighter as the base instead of Paladin. This gives you more bonuses that affect you personally, rather than allies. You no longer get Smite abilities by name, but you get some good high-damage attacks.

Tremorsense? Fuck tremorsense. If that's integral to the character concept, you should be looking for an earth-themed class.

Seriously, I was expecting something hard. :-D

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That said, I'm not saying that the mechanics of every class can be created. Once again, you're thinking in terms of classes being the character concept. They are not. Classes are merely how the concept is expressed.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Ouch! Graham yer killin me here! I yield. Let me take another look at the multiclassing crunch. If what you are saying is right, then you can have tomorrows post!

Now I see why there are no updates at anklebites! ;P back atcha!

Seriously though, thank you for kicking me out of my little box, sometimes you lose the forest for the trees, and it's easier than one would think, meanwhile I'm gonna find a stumper for you...I wanna hear an UNCLE!

Graham|ve4grm said...

You got it, man.

As for why there are no recent updates at my site, well, let's just say that I haven't even had a chance to read through my 4e books yet.

Y'know, believe it or not.

GuiGuiBob said...

Myself what I was thinking in terms of character concept you cannot do in 4E wasn't in the powerful stuff but in the mundane. Like if I want to play a farmer who has had his wife killed and goes looking for revenge (yes I can make him a fighter but where the hell did he learn to do advanced maneuvers?)
or the locksmith who decides to go looking for people who ruined his shop, where would he have learned combat maneuvers? It's the low power characters that have suffered more from 4e not the high powered ones.

Graham|ve4grm said...

That is true.

But, heck, it was hard to make those characters in 3e without NPC classes, too.

Take the farmer. Where did he learn combat techniques in 4e? Where did he learn how to use heavy armour in 3e?

For the locksmith. Where did he learn advanced maneuvers in 4e? Where did he learn Sneak Attack, tumble, disable device, evasion, and sleight of hand in 3e?

This is "solved" only by using the NPC classes. In 4e terms, this is solved by using the monster rules to build the character.

Honestly, 4e is no worse for this than 3e was.