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 Ideas about using powers outside combat

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PostSubject: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:32 pm

Has anyone ever had this come up? I had a wizard use his daily power Flaming Sphere' to destroy a 60' length of wooden fence outside of combat once. Didn't quite know how to 'rule' it, so I just counted it as an expended daily, no to hit roll needed, and...boom...fence was gone in a few minutes.

A sad thing about 4e (and one that probably contributed greatly to some of the hate it gets), is that nowhere does any rule book say that powers can be used OUTSIDE of combat. And, most people seem to assume that if a power/ability/spell has a damage die or creates/negates a condition, it's only meant to be used in a combat encounter...
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:00 pm

Players in my games have done this regularly. I think it's one of those things that most people don't consider when they look at 4e, especially people who consider it to be an edition that's only about combat.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:03 am

Rules for damaging objects are in both the DMG1 and the Essentials Rules Compendium.  60 feet of wooden fence, can either be medium or large (due to the length), that is the DM's call.  If you go large, it has a fortitude of 12 and 40 hp.  Plus it is wood, so I would say it has vulnerability to fire, so it would take extra damage.  So he burns the fence and he used his spell and cannot use it again until the next day.  Personally, depending on his level, I would have sent an Owlbear after him.  

Just saying......  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:19 pm

It also talks about powers being used outside combat in the RC (and the PHB I think). Mainly about duration though.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:23 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
It also talks about powers being used outside combat in the RC (and the PHB I think). Mainly about duration though.
The only thing I ever noticed is a line like "...until the end of the encounter, or 5 minutes." used in some power entries. So, I figured since no one was defending the fence, and it certainly wasn't defending itself (although, that would have been cool Smile ) it just caught fire, and burned for a few hours, until nothing but embers, ash, and a long scorch mark remained. Just like I've interpreted 'sustain minor' to mean that you can sustain for 5 minutes and/or the whole lengh of an incounter, as long as you spend a minor action every round to do so. Unless the power says specifically that you cannot sustain it more than one round, or whatever.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:21 am

I thought only sustaining it for 5 minutes was a little lame... I might do something a long the lines of 5+1/2 level minutes. That may be better and further emphasize that you can do these things outside of combat. But then the odd number of minutes may be weird for some DMs. Neutral 

Oh well... I may have to fiddle with that.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:08 pm

Actually, that's a really good point. Starting some wooden structure on fire wouldn't take longer than 5 minutes, but, yeah...I'd think a wizard, under no stress (ie: not in combat) should be able to sustain a spell for a good while. Hard to say how long. +1/2 level is a good idea, that'd cap a sustain at 20 minutes at 30th level. Although, I suppose someone could 'sustain', that is, focus on it for hours...Like meditation.
But then there's an issue as to when should it just be a ritual. Instead of a sustained spell...
That might be a cool paragon or epic feat idea. The ability to turn a known lower level spell into a more permanent ritual version.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:24 pm

ToeSama wrote:
Players in my games have done this regularly. I think it's one of those things that most people don't consider when they look at 4e, especially people who consider it to be an edition that's only about combat.
Yeah, the possibility of using powers outside of combat is such a no-brainer that when I see someone claiming otherwise, I assume they're an edition warrior. It helps for rules to be clear, but there's a point at which clarity becomes patronizing hand-holding. If someone needs to be told that powers can be used outside of combat, they probably also have to be told what 'dead' means and how to roll a die.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:27 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
I thought only sustaining it for 5 minutes was a little lame... I might do something a long the lines of 5+1/2 level minutes.
*Faceplant*

I was happy to leave all those 'X whatever per level' durations behind, personally.

But to each their own.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:37 am

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
I thought only sustaining it for 5 minutes was a little lame... I might do something a long the lines of 5+1/2 level minutes.
*Faceplant*

I was happy to leave all those 'X whatever per level' durations behind, personally.

But to each their own.
Well it doesn't have to be like that perhaps an extra 5 minutes per tier, 5/10/15. I literally came up with that on a whim when I was thinking of how I could emphasize out of combat power use.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:39 am

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
ToeSama wrote:
Players in my games have done this regularly. I think it's one of those things that most people don't consider when they look at 4e, especially people who consider it to be an edition that's only about combat.
Yeah, the possibility of using powers outside of combat is such a no-brainer that when I see someone claiming otherwise, I assume they're an edition warrior. It helps for rules to be clear, but there's a point at which clarity becomes patronizing hand-holding. If someone needs to be told that powers can be used outside of combat, they probably also have to be told what 'dead' means and how to roll a die.
How do roll die? scratch 

I do agree though. It may sound elitist but I think people with that little imagination should just stay out of the hobby for good.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:34 pm

I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game. And then there's people who play often with strangers at clubs, cons, and game stores. RPGA, and all that. I don't get into that anymore because I feel that strangers are more likely to get competitive over what should (in my mind) be a cooperative experience. You know the type. Most of them hate 4e, because you can't make an uber-PC* that dominates all aspects of the game by embracing built in imbalances, and multi-classing rules quirks. It's also hard to rules-lawyer your way through a 4e campaign.

Those are the gamers I can happily do without, lol. I think they have creativity; but they spend it all on trying to 'win' D&D by playing the ruleset like a crooked politician, rather than playing towards a fun experience for all at the table.

*For example, one type 3x uber-PC is mostly a wizard, but takes at least one level in fighter, and/or one level in rogue. Then piles on spell enhancing feats like maximize, quicken, etc. Ironically, they call 4e too much like an MMO or video game. Yet, they are all about these 'perfect' builds; JUST like a video came character.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 3:28 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
How do roll die? scratch 
Sorry, English literati here. 'Die' is singular for 'dice.'

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 3:45 pm

seti wrote:
I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game.
Very true, and this brings to mind conversations I've had with D&D old-timers about ability checks vs. skill checks.

A lot of old-timers are under the impression that having skills in the game inherently disempowers the PCs. (While 3e proved that this can be true, 4e obviously proves the reverse.) Why do they believe this? Because they look at a skill list, and assume that "If I don't have skill X, I can't do X. Period."

Meanwhile, a lot of second-generation D&Ders think that relying on ability checks to adjudicate actions inherently disempowers the PCs. I was in this category myself for a long time, despite coming into the hobby during the 2e era. Why does ability check-reliance disempower PCs? "Because warriors fight, magic-users cast spells, and thieves have skills. If you're not a thief, you can't use skills." But it turns out that Dave, Gary, and the game devs who came after simply did a shitty job of explaining that thief skills are above and beyond the standard ability check 'skills' that anyone can use. (The fact that thief skills used that weird percentile subsystem didn't help either.)

So maybe I was a little hasty in saying that anyone who thinks that powers can only be used in combat are rp nitwits. But saying so is definitely a red flag for edition warfare.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:14 pm

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
How do roll die? scratch 
Sorry, English literati here. 'Die' is singular for 'dice.'
No lol.

I understand what it means... Sorry. It was just me imitating those that you talk about in your post.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:39 pm

Well, that plane took off without me. Right over my head.

Hide 

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:34 pm

seti wrote:
Has anyone ever had this come up? I had a wizard use his daily power Flaming Sphere' to destroy a 60' length of wooden fence outside of combat once. Didn't quite know how to 'rule' it, so I just counted it as an expended daily, no to hit roll needed, and...boom...fence was gone in a few minutes.

A sad thing about 4e (and one that probably contributed greatly to some of the hate it gets), is that nowhere does any rule book say that powers can be used OUTSIDE of combat. And, most people seem to assume that if a power/ability/spell has a damage die or creates/negates a condition, it's only meant to be used in a combat encounter...
That's unusual ime. Most players I have had for 4E *love* thinking up ways to use thier powers outside of combat (most often it is the spellcasters but even a fighter in one group came up with a neat use of Tide of Iron to clear a path through a panicky crowd). I once used my dragonborn's cold breath to try and put out a bonfire - the DM ruled if I did enough 'damage' I could put it out (naturally I rolled a 1). Simple!

I think you ruled 100% correct in the example you give.  I have rarely found a power worded to say it can't be used outside combat myself but I'm sure there must be some.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:20 pm

seti wrote:
I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game. And then there's people who play often with strangers at clubs, cons, and game stores. RPGA, and all that. I don't get into that anymore because I feel that strangers are more likely to get competitive over what should (in my mind) be a cooperative experience. You know the type. Most of them hate 4e, because you can't make an uber-PC* that dominates all aspects of the game by embracing built in imbalances, and multi-classing rules quirks.  It's also hard to rules-lawyer your way through a 4e campaign.

Those are the gamers I can happily do without, lol. I think they have creativity; but they spend it all on trying to 'win' D&D by playing the ruleset like a crooked politician, rather than playing towards a fun experience for all at the table.

*For example, one type 3x uber-PC is mostly a wizard, but takes at least one level in fighter, and/or one level in rogue. Then piles on spell enhancing feats like maximize, quicken, etc. Ironically, they call 4e too much like an MMO or video game. Yet, they are all about these 'perfect' builds; JUST like a video came character.
I couldn't have put it better myself seti.  Thank You.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:16 am

seti wrote:
I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game. And then there's people who play often with strangers at clubs, cons, and game stores. RPGA, and all that. I don't get into that anymore because I feel that strangers are more likely to get competitive over what should (in my mind) be a cooperative experience. You know the type. Most of them hate 4e, because you can't make an uber-PC* that dominates all aspects of the game by embracing built in imbalances, and multi-classing rules quirks.  It's also hard to rules-lawyer your way through a 4e campaign.

Those are the gamers I can happily do without, lol. I think they have creativity; but they spend it all on trying to 'win' D&D by playing the ruleset like a crooked politician, rather than playing towards a fun experience for all at the table.

*For example, one type 3x uber-PC is mostly a wizard, but takes at least one level in fighter, and/or one level in rogue. Then piles on spell enhancing feats like maximize, quicken, etc. Ironically, they call 4e too much like an MMO or video game. Yet, they are all about these 'perfect' builds; JUST like a video came character.
Had a player like this for 3E - squeezed every damage point out of the system that he could - stated (often) that he didn't feel like 'wasting time' role playing in D&D since it wasn't a 'real' role playing game (he apparently played 'real' RPGs with some other group and 'saved' all his role playing for that Rolling Eyes  yeah I didn't get it either). This was 3E he was talking about but it only became more vocal when we switched to 4E but his attempts to 'game' the system met with middling results at best and claimed he needed to be some race from the MM (by this point we had the PHB 1 & 2 to choose from and I had said anything from those books or the 'power' books was A-OK) or else his PC was being 'stifled'. Laughing  I wish I could say that I just booted him but frankly after years of this I had just hit a brick wall as far as RPGs were concerned and stopped them cold for about 2 years. I started up again, minus this meatsack, and gaming hasn't been better! (especially once I dumped Pathfinder into its richly deserved "poorly house ruled 3E clone" category and just went back to 4E).
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:18 am

Holy Bovine wrote:
seti wrote:
I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game. And then there's people who play often with strangers at clubs, cons, and game stores. RPGA, and all that. I don't get into that anymore because I feel that strangers are more likely to get competitive over what should (in my mind) be a cooperative experience. You know the type. Most of them hate 4e, because you can't make an uber-PC* that dominates all aspects of the game by embracing built in imbalances, and multi-classing rules quirks.  It's also hard to rules-lawyer your way through a 4e campaign.

Those are the gamers I can happily do without, lol. I think they have creativity; but they spend it all on trying to 'win' D&D by playing the ruleset like a crooked politician, rather than playing towards a fun experience for all at the table.

*For example, one type 3x uber-PC is mostly a wizard, but takes at least one level in fighter, and/or one level in rogue. Then piles on spell enhancing feats like maximize, quicken, etc. Ironically, they call 4e too much like an MMO or video game. Yet, they are all about these 'perfect' builds; JUST like a video came character.
Had a player like this for 3E - squeezed every damage point out of the system that he could - stated (often) that he didn't feel like 'wasting time' role playing in D&D since it wasn't a 'real' role playing game (he apparently played 'real' RPGs with some other group and 'saved' all his role playing for that Rolling Eyes  yeah I didn't get it either).  This was 3E he was talking about but it only became more vocal when we switched to 4E but his attempts to 'game' the system met with middling results at best and claimed he needed to be some race from the MM (by this point we had the PHB 1 & 2 to choose from and I had said anything from those books or the 'power' books was A-OK) or else his PC was being 'stifled'.  Laughing   I wish I could say that I just booted him but frankly after years of this I had just hit a brick wall as far as RPGs were concerned and stopped them cold for about 2 years.  I started up again, minus this meatsack, and gaming hasn't been better! (especially once I dumped Pathfinder into its richly deserved "poorly house ruled 3E clone" category and just went back to 4E).

Honestly I can't imagine leaving 4e anymore. I used to think that if I left 4e I might would have more fun (because more people play Pathfinder around here). But I was very, very wrong. After going back to 3e and Pathfinder I immediately felt burnt out on the systems. Not to mention they just demand so much from a DM's point of view.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:56 pm

I love doing this with powers!

One of my best memories of a came was using....some power with the cold keyword to "freeze" parts of a river for the party to cross. DM allowed it, we crossed, water unfroze, the enemies pursuing us could not follow and were unable to track us!
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:30 pm

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
seti wrote:
I think a lot of people think that if it's not spelled out in rule books explicitly, it's not the law, and therefore cannot or should not be done in a game.
Very true, and this brings to mind conversations I've had with D&D old-timers about ability checks vs. skill checks.

A lot of old-timers are under the impression that having skills in the game inherently disempowers the PCs. (While 3e proved that this can be true, 4e obviously proves the reverse.) Why do they believe this? Because they look at a skill list, and assume that "If I don't have skill X, I can't do X. Period."

Meanwhile, a lot of second-generation D&Ders think that relying on ability checks to adjudicate actions inherently disempowers the PCs. I was in this category myself for a long time, despite coming into the hobby during the 2e era. Why does ability check-reliance disempower PCs? "Because warriors fight, magic-users cast spells, and thieves have skills. If you're not a thief, you can't use skills." But it turns out that Dave, Gary, and the game devs who came after simply did a shitty job of explaining that thief skills are above and beyond the standard ability check 'skills' that anyone can use. (The fact that thief skills used that weird percentile subsystem didn't help either.)

So maybe I was a little hasty in saying that anyone who thinks that powers can only be used in combat are rp nitwits. But saying so is definitely a red flag for edition warfare.

Agreed! EGG was the one BTW who introduced the whole 'thief' concept (in Greyhawk). It is pretty clear he did mean it as a sort of bonus thing, so that a thief could for instance climb a SHEER WALL (impossible for any normal human) with a % chance, but any character could climb your average rocky cliff face with a DEX check.

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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:36 pm

The most awesome example of this I had was a player that wanted to use Stinking Cloud to clear out jermlaine in a ventillation shaft. I just had her do a small SC to figure out how to ritualize it, pick out the right components, and successfully control the casting of the spell so it became possible for the cloud of gas to pour into the shaft instead of just filling a static region. I've generally handled most similar situations in the same way, though if it was as simple ad "use fire spell X to burn something down" I just have them make a single check to do it as the OP suggested. I'm pretty good about casting most meaningful action sequences into some sort of SC though, so it would most likely be an auto-success gained by expenditure of a daily resource as long as the narrative presented by the player was plausible.
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:21 pm

I had a discussion (almost an argument) with a long time friend about this very topic.

He is a fan and player of Pathfinder. And he prefers the 3.x system over 4E. In fact, he has gone so far as to tell me that 4E is "not a real RPG". His reasoning is that there isn't any way to do things "out of combat".

Now, I tried the approach with him that any game where you assume a role and then are given situations and use some sort of conflict resolution to determine the outcome is, de facto, a role playing game. But, he kept on his point...

His point was that in 3.x there were class abilities that you could use X/day. And you didn't have to be in combat to use them. He also claimed that in 4E, all of the powers that were usable on a "per day" basis (i.e. Encounter and Daily powers) were solely "in combat" powers. His reasoning was that once you used one of these powers you initiated an "encounter" (presumably since there were "encounter powers") and since an "encounter" was "essentially a combat" everything in 4E was based around combat. And he followed that with the conclusion that 4E was therefore "only about combat" and hence, not a "real" role playing game.

It was difficult not to slap him at that point.

In my game, the party has rarely used their powers outside of combat or skill challenges. And actually, that's okay by me. But only because when we are outside of combat, they are looking at me and each other and talking about where they are and what they are doing and not combing through their character sheet trying to find the answer to whatever problem is in front of them.

As a side note, this is something I'm working on. I can't stand the fact that when we DO have a combat encounter every single one of them drops their eyes to their summary sheet to see what power they want to use.

But definitely, to get back to the original topic, allowing and even encouraging players to use their attack powers outside of combat in unconventional ways is an awesome thing and I wholeheartedly encourage and support this!

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thanson02
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PostSubject: Re: Ideas about using powers outside combat   Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:17 pm

skwyd42 wrote:
I had a discussion (almost an argument) with a long time friend about this very topic.

He is a fan and player of Pathfinder. And he prefers the 3.x system over 4E. In fact, he has gone so far as to tell me that 4E is "not a real RPG". His reasoning is that there isn't any way to do things "out of combat".

Now, I tried the approach with him that any game where you assume a role and then are given situations and use some sort of conflict resolution to determine the outcome is, de facto, a role playing game. But, he kept on his point...

His point was that in 3.x there were class abilities that you could use X/day. And you didn't have to be in combat to use them. He also claimed that in 4E, all of the powers that were usable on a "per day" basis (i.e. Encounter and Daily powers) were solely "in combat" powers. His reasoning was that once you used one of these powers you initiated an "encounter" (presumably since there were "encounter powers") and since an "encounter" was "essentially a combat" everything in 4E was based around combat. And he followed that with the conclusion that 4E was therefore "only about combat" and hence, not a "real" role playing game.

It was difficult not to slap him at that point.

In my game, the party has rarely used their powers outside of combat or skill challenges. And actually, that's okay by me. But only because when we are outside of combat, they are looking at me and each other and talking about where they are and what they are doing and not combing through their character sheet trying to find the answer to whatever problem is in front of them.

Unfortunately, there are too many people who play Pathfinder and earlier versions of D&D that spread false rumors like this.  It expresses their ignorance in the system and it is easier to just rip something down then it is to see what is going on.  4E is not perfect, no system is.  If it is not his preferred system, that is fine.  I get upset when they try to misrepresent the system to bate you into arguments.  They do not have to play 4E anymore then you have to play Pathfinder or any other RPG.  And if you want to play them, that is fine.  It is a game.  Why does he have to justify that his system is better then yours and what is that saying about the RPG community that he is playing with if he does?

skwyd42 wrote:
As a side note, this is something I'm working on. I can't stand the fact that when we DO have a combat encounter every single one of them drops their eyes to their summary sheet to see what power they want to use.

But definitely, to get back to the original topic, allowing and even encouraging players to use their attack powers outside of combat in unconventional ways is an awesome thing and I wholeheartedly encourage and support this!

I think that might be one of two things.  Either they do not know what their character options are or they are using strategy and exploring their options in combat much like a wizard who pours through their spells to see what they want to cast, which has been around since at lest 2nd Edition.  The first one is a issue, the second is not, IMO.

Although that brings up the topic of how real feeling and instinctive is a system's combat structure.  I don't think there has been any combat system in any version of D&D that is realistic feeling (coming from martial art experience).
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