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 Things that don't make sense

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Tequila Sunrise
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:16 pm

Galstaff wrote:
I dunno.  I know a lot of people dislike alignment, but it actually really helps me when designing characters, even the bizarre way 4E does (I guess I should say "did" now that 4E is yesterday's jam) it.  I guess 4E's alignment system isn't that bad considering that it really does not matter mechanically what your alignment is, so you can write anything you want there.  In fact, when I first got my books and started helping some (now uninterested, unfortunately) friends design their PCs, they pretty much ALL wanted to be Chaotic.  Usually Chaotic Evil, but sometimes Chaotic Neutral, and as a (horribly inexperienced, unfamiliar with the rules) DM I didn't care at all.
Oh, new DMs do the darndest things! I ran an epic campaign, before I knew any better. In 3.x.

Galstaff wrote:
I thought I had a good grasp on the law-chaos axis, until I saw this guy's video, who gives quite an interpretation to the 9 alignments. (Warning: some of his videos contain strong language, don't remember if this one does or not)
I'm going to agree with Durriken here: This dude's public speaking skills could use some work. Not that I'm Bill Clinton, myself, but well...anyway, I couldn't watch much of it. I skipped around a bit, and did love how Cartman appeared on the screen while he was describing NE. Smile

I also loved how he said "Oh and 4e has six alignments...I think...and some other games use five alignments..." Oh, and the image on the screen when he discusses 4e's alignment is priceless. /sarc Rolling Eyes

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:33 pm

Durriken wrote:
The truth is that even "evil" people would never recognize them self as "evil", unless they want to portray an image or have a mental disorder.  Law and chaos is subjective to the individual.
I need a big shovel and waders just to get through it.
Much easier to just drop it and give your PCs/NPC/monsters real motivations/personality trait and fit their actions within those.  I'm so glad 4E drop all mechanics around alignment to make it easier.
TjD
You know, I never had much problem fitting real motivations and personalities into my characters, and then assigning an alignment. And for a long time, I got confused when I saw comments like yours.

But then I went and read the 3e alignment descriptions, where they get defined as a mess of both morals and personality traits, and I had an epiphany. Oh! People are actually taking this garbage at face value, and trying to apply it to realistic characters! No wonder they hate alignment. Honestly, I don't know why it took me so long to have this realization. I must have read the 2e alignment descriptions -- which are, if anything, even worse (2e TN lol) -- decided to use my own intuition to redefine the alignments, and then assumed that everyone else would do the same.

Crazy, right?

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:37 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Michael Moorcock did a pretty interesting sell on the Law Chaos axis in the Elric/Eternal Champion Novels.
Ah yes, I read one of the Elric books, but didn't get a strong sense of the Law vs. Chaos conflict. Mostly I just remember "Blood and souls for Arioch!" Maybe a second read-thru, or a read of other Elric novels would make it more clear.

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:09 pm

Galstaff wrote:
The five alignment system.
Why are there only five alignments?
Without Chaotic Good/Chaotic Neutral (depending on your interpretation) we would have no Han Solo!
What do they have against Han Solo?

Funny that there are already threads dissing 4E and this forum is relatively new...

Meh. I'm no fan of alignment. It's easier on a group imo if there are fewer alignments in potential conflict.

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:51 am

Interesting how the thread quickly became the "how I feel about alignment in D&D" thread Smile personally I feel that 4E's alignment system makes more sense, given the similarities in description of

Lawful Good vs. Lawful Neutral
Lawful Evil vs. Neutral Evil
several other alignments (getting this purely from memory)

So for me it makes sense to compress it all into:

Lawful Good - herald of order and civilization
Good - kindness & benevolence (may or may not adhere to the rule of law)
Evil - self-serving b@sterd
Chaotic Evil - destructive even to self
Unaligned - everyone else (including Batman and Han Solo)

and has the added bonus of being easily adaptable to the 3-alignment system, which helps when you take the Dawn War into consideration.

Regarding the topic itself, most of the things in 4E that don't make sense for me mostly come as vestiges from previous editions: levels and feats. The main 4E that doesn't make sense for me involves not the mechanics themselves, but rather the game dynamics involving powers, improvisation and rituals. I mean, I totally get the whole "magic that takes longer to cast and takes specific steps to accomplish" - Hermetic magic and all - but why the wizard had to master two ways to cast magic with no option to specialize in one or the other, that never really made sense (I simply tell myself, "that's what makes PC wizards different")... nevermind the part where the improvisation table was alienated from the player-accessible material, and seemingly tacked on and an outright inferior option to even at-wills (I'm aware of the meta implications of amping the improv damage tables, but providing guidance on when it applies (instead of improvised weapons) could limit it to awesome cool moments where powers don't apply, which seems better than "try to make powers, martial practices & rituals cover as much ground as possible").
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:29 am

Improv vs At-will is definitely a thing in 4e. As a player in 4e, its easy to get your head stuck in your character sheet and not look at the environment your character is in. Personally I had to build a mindset to look at the environment first, how can I use it or manipulate it.
As a DM I love to have that can be used. I love logs, rocks, braziers and the like that might be rolled down an slope or knocked over to create a blast attack and terrain effects. I love furniture, boxes and barrels that can be knocked over or moved to provide cover or pin combatants in. Pits, pools, acid, ice, fires, magical mist/motes/fields can all be wonderful.
I want there to be options from both sides. Sometimes all you need is some rope...

But yeah, its really easy to get stuck in at-will because they are just inherently better much of the time.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:46 am

Improvised actions should always be at least as good as an at-will and can be as good as encounter or daily if it's of limited use. It's a DM fail otherwise.

I think it would make things easier if damage dice were tied to class rather than weapon. Dungeon World does this. If you're a fighter, you do d10 damage no matter if you hit someone with your sword or a folding chair or your mitts. Spending all this design space on weapon damage, feats, and whatnot that simulate weapon damage doesn't make much sense to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:28 am

I don't know... I kinda like having a trade off between damage and accuracy and shield or no. d8 with +3 vs d10 with +2 when using a shield. d10 with +3 vs d12 or 2d6 with +2 when wielding a 2 hander. Or taking a feat to get a superior weapon. Or dual wielding I like the choice. I like that there are powers with synergies to those choice - ones that require a shield or 2 weapons or a reach weapon.
Ranged goes even further - type of weapon give stat on RBA and difference in ranges. The choice can make a difference. It can effect tactics greatly - a seeker with a bow is much different than with heavy thrown weapons because of a great difference in range.

If the damage is strictly based on class, and counts unarmed as well then weapons are not even binary. It become nothing but a description or something to spend money on. That's a little flat to me.

Having said, I also have to say I don't want complexity to go too far. I like that all weapon damage is just untyped damage unless effected by a power or property. I don't like breaking weapon damage into slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning. Partly because weapons are capable of more than one type (with a spear alone - one of the most basic weapons - you can easily do all three). Partly because HP and damage is abstract. It just is.

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:23 pm

Theoretically, improvised actions should be comparable to at-wills, encounter powers, rechargable powers and dailies. However, in practice that mostly isn't the case, althought the WotC article on Terrain Powers does help mitigate the discrepancies (at the cost of forcing the DM to either prep more materials ahead of time, or keep the terrain powers article close at hand, or better yet internalized). The main issues involve three things: player/group psychology, scaling, and encounter design.

Players often look at their character sheets first - it's only logical - and so far the only solution here really is to train players to think of the environment first and powers second. Of course, if you already have a boatload of powers that do so much, then why look at the environment for solutions?

Then there's the poor scaling. Even if we assume that the page 42 improvisation table is for at-will improvisation, given the scaling of powers (especially with hyperoptimization, where strikers are expected to put out an average at-will dpr of 100+), the damage output for the table is abysmally low. With no guidance on environmental use and/or improv-encouraging encounter design written into the books, at least I don't see the merit of even trying to improvise, since my powers (especialy utility powers) are simply better in every aspect.

I don't really know the solution to all this, but as the thread is about things in 4E that don't make sense, I'd say that the poor support for improvisation is the biggest thing that baffles me the most, as 4E is the only edition that not only breaks down Rule Zero into sensible, meaningful facets, but also provides outlines for designing non-combat encounters.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:00 pm

I would agree that more guidance on improvisation in 4e would have been good to include in the DMG. It doesn't make sense, given how great the game is for exactly that purpose.

Thread-worthy on its own perhaps is how to train players as you say to improvise more. It really comes from just saying "Yes" to their ideas and working it out where it's as good as their other powers. A lot of players get a "No" or a shitty deal on the damage/effect or chances so they say "forget it" and reach for Twin Strike. So they stop improvising and I don't blame them.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:27 am

I agree that saying "yes" is a key factor in training players to improv, but the question is: how do you make them stop looking at the character sheet first?

So far I can think of only 3 ways:
Talk to the players. Set their expectations, let them be aware of possible alternatives beyond the character sheet.
Deny their powers. The most Gygaxian of methods, I've met "old school" players who learned to improv because they had no fallback powers to rely on (at all). 4E does have monsters in LFR who limit you to at-wills only, but so far I've only seen players just spam their at-wills, instead of resorting to improv. So if I end up denying PCs their powers, I'd pair it up with the third possible way to teach improvisation.
Provide suggestions that are outside their character sheet. Preferably do this before they have a chance to finalize their decisions during their turn. That way, you make them aware of the existence of out of sheet options. This is also part of the GM's responsibilities/functions according to Dungeon World: be the players' biggest fan.

Of the three, the third seems to be the hardest, because it's the DM who has to learn how to improv first....

... but that's a discussion worthy of a separate thread, much like the alignment discussioon, yes?
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:49 am

chaosfang wrote:
I agree that saying "yes" is a key factor in training players to improv, but the question is: how do you make them stop looking at the character sheet first?

So far I can think of only 3 ways:
Talk to the players. Set their expectations, let them be aware of possible alternatives beyond the character sheet.

Of the three, the third seems to be the hardest, because it's the DM who has to learn how to improv first....

The third seems a rehash of the first (which is the answer I advocate) and, yes, the DM should be learning to improv fast anyway since it's a core GM skill for any RPG.

chaosfang wrote:
... but that's a discussion worthy of a separate thread,

Yes, as is improv. Start 'em up and I'll be there!

chaosfang wrote:
much like the alignment discussioon, yes?

Please gods no. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:50 am

Headhunter Jones wrote:


chaosfang wrote:
... but that's a discussion worthy of a separate thread,

Yes, as is improv. Start 'em up and I'll be there!

Heh, pokey pokey.. already done

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:44 am

chaosfang wrote:
Regarding the topic itself, most of the things in 4E that don't make sense for me mostly come as vestiges from previous editions: levels and feats. The main 4E that doesn't make sense for me involves not the mechanics themselves, but rather the game dynamics involving powers, improvisation and rituals. I mean, I totally get the whole "magic that takes longer to cast and takes specific steps to accomplish" - Hermetic magic and all - but why the wizard had to master two ways to cast magic with no option to specialize in one or the other, that never really made sense (I simply tell myself, "that's what makes PC wizards different")... nevermind the part where the improvisation table was alienated from the player-accessible material, and seemingly tacked on and an outright inferior option to even at-wills (I'm aware of the meta implications of amping the improv damage tables, but providing guidance on when it applies (instead of improvised weapons) could limit it to awesome cool moments where powers don't apply, which seems better than "try to make powers, martial practices & rituals cover as much ground as possible").

I never had a issue with levels and feats, assuming the DM knows how to integrated them into the story so the players feel like they actually gained something.  Otherwise it ends up being treated like a new toy that magically appeared out of nowhere.  The one part I have problems with is Martial Practices.  I just have problems seeing how it works with the skill system.  Spell powers vs. rituals, no issue, powers in relation to combat, fine.  Even interworking improvised maneuvers and actions while performing other actions in combat, ready to go!

But Martial Practices? scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:55 pm

Spending money and time with a teacher is somehow confusing?

(most likely I am confused)

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:58 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Spending money and time with a teacher is somehow confusing?

(most likely I am confused)

Was that in response to me or someone else? (more confusion??)
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:19 pm

I thought alignment in 4E was troublesome. But not because there were only 5 alignments. It was because I didn't see any point in it being included at all. In retrospect, it seems that the alignment system's inclusion in 4E was just to allow the game designers to say "See, we still have some of the same things as before!"

For my 4E campaigns, I tell all of the players that there is no alignment system. This means that there will be no mechanical game effect from a creature being good, evil, or whatever. It also means that the characters will behave however they behave. They take the actions they think are appropriate for their character. The NPCs and such around the character will develop an opinion of the character based upon their actions. One may be perceived as "good" or "chaotic" or "whatever" but there will not be any game mechanics that result from this.


As for wizards, I agree that their spellbooks were troublesome as well. But again, that's only because they were there at all. One of my pet peeves in editions prior to 4E was that the person playing the wizard would have to spend time deciding which spells they would memorize for each adventuring day. And some players would take ridiculously long amounts of time doing this. I recall comments like "Do you think I should memorize Magic Missile twice today? Or just once and then something else?" I. Hated. That. I hated it as a fellow player and I especially hated it as a DM.

In 4E, it seemed just as troublesome for the player with the wizard to spend that time deciding which of the two choices to take. I really wish that 4E had put the "combat spells" for wizards into the same format as everyone else (AEDU) and relegated ALL spellbook activity to rituals.

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:46 pm

thanson02 wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
Spending money and time with a teacher is somehow confusing?

(most likely I am confused)

Was that in response to me or someone else? (more confusion??)

Heh yes, I think that is a fair description of Martial Practices learning method. Basically most of the martial practices could be characterized as a specialization on top of a skill you are already trained in by spending time and money.



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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:33 pm

skwyd42 wrote:
I thought alignment in 4E was troublesome. But not because there were only 5 alignments. It was because I didn't see any point in it being included at all. In retrospect, it seems that the alignment system's inclusion in 4E was just to allow the game designers to say "See, we still have some of the same things as before!"

For my 4E campaigns, I tell all of the players that there is no alignment system. This means that there will be no mechanical game effect from a creature being good, evil, or whatever. It also means that the characters will behave however they behave. They take the actions they think are appropriate for their character. The NPCs and such around the character will develop an opinion of the character based upon their actions. One may be perceived as "good" or "chaotic" or "whatever" but there will not be any game mechanics that result from this.


As for wizards, I agree that their spellbooks were troublesome as well. But again, that's only because they were there at all. One of my pet peeves in editions prior to 4E was that the person playing the wizard would have to spend time deciding which spells they would memorize for each adventuring day. And some players would take ridiculously long amounts of time doing this. I recall comments like "Do you think I should memorize Magic Missile twice today? Or just once and then something else?" I. Hated. That. I hated it as a fellow player and I especially hated it as a DM.

In 4E, it seemed just as troublesome for the player with the wizard to spend that time deciding which of the two choices to take. I really wish that 4E had put the "combat spells" for wizards into the same format as everyone else (AEDU) and relegated ALL spellbook activity to rituals.
What? To the best of my knowledge, you only memorize dailies and utilities. Then Magic Missile wouldn't be an "At-Will". Plus, you can't memorize a spell twice in 4e, because that would also break dailies/encounters.

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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:01 am

Gallstaff, he was referring to pre-4E spell memorization, where Magic Missile was a level 1 daily and we didn't have the AEDU power format formalized.

Martial practices on paper made sense, but I feel that there wasn't enough material that was worthy of being called a martial practice; they were mechanically replaceable by Skill Challenges, and they were conceptually replaceable by Grandmaster Training. I tried taking it myself, but the use of Martial Practices were even more niche than Rituals, and the results weren't even close to impressive.

I suppose that, just like rituals, it's use will depend on the DM in charge, but to be honest it feels like a concept that's even less half-baked than Heroes of Shadow, something shoved out the door just to say, "lookie here! See? Martial characters have their rituals too!"
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:15 am

chaosfang wrote:
Gallstaff, he was referring to pre-4E spell memorization, where Magic Missile was a level 1 daily and we didn't have the AEDU power format formalized.

Martial practices on paper made sense, but I feel that there wasn't enough material that was worthy of being called a martial practice; they were mechanically replaceable by Skill Challenges, and they were conceptually replaceable by Grandmaster Training. I tried taking it myself, but the use of Martial Practices were even more niche than Rituals, and the results weren't even close to impressive.

I suppose that, just like rituals, it's use will depend on the DM in charge, but to be honest it feels like a concept that's even less half-baked than Heroes of Shadow, something shoved out the door just to say, "lookie here! See? Martial characters have their rituals too!"

Oh they certainly were under developed and yes the connection to Grandmaster Training I noticed as well a part of me thinks AbdulAharazads idea where gmt and items and enchantments and even potentially feats and powers might be collapsed down into a single pool of abilities. In some ways it could be seen as really old school but with balance because not only spell casters could wander around learning all there cool stuff so could martial types.

The GMT which were inferior to rituals are pretty fixable and it seems like they did fail to really try and balance them.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:14 pm

skwyd42 wrote:
In 4E, it seemed just as troublesome for the player with the wizard to spend that time deciding which of the two choices to take. I really wish that 4E had put the "combat spells" for wizards into the same format as everyone else (AEDU) and relegated ALL spellbook activity to rituals.
Just my anecdotal experience here, but our 4E wizards never had that problem. Due to the interaction of items, feats and class features, 9 times out of 10 there was going to be a single "best fit" spell for the build at any given level and that spell would cover 99% of the encounters you were likely to run into and, unless you have very specific information about what you'd be facing ahead of time, there was never a need to even consider swapping out your spells.

Indeed, the only wizard I even remember who even bothered to swap out their spells was one who very specifically took a defensive and a social utility spell for each of those choices and then swapped the utilities en mass depending on if we were in town (thus likely to run social skill challenges) or heading into the dungeon (thus likely to need defensive spells). But even they never bothered to swap out their attack spells. This became especially true once they introduced the mage subclass and specialist schools since they wanted to get the buff from using spells associated with their school features and there often wasn't more than one really good spell per school at each level anyway.

If not for the fact that wizards/mages get so many other good features, we'd probably try to houserule something to replace the spellbook feature with since its so often useless to the wizards in our party. As it is, the spellbook is just fluff and a free ritual book for the real non-combat spells (helped a LOT by the ritual expertise feats that give you free uses of certain rituals each day).
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:35 pm

I think a lot of situations in the game, including skill challenges and magical traps, set up the wizard to bust off improvised actions using Arcana checks which serves to increase their utility on par with wizards of previous editions.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:03 pm

Headhunter Jones wrote:
I think a lot of situations in the game, including skill challenges and magical traps, set up the wizard to bust off improvised actions using Arcana checks which serves to increase their utility on par with wizards of previous editions.
Here's a fun one that I've been using since near the beginning. My first wizard back when LFR was getting started and a group was burning through the mods came from Luskan so had training in both Stealth and Thievery. I fluffed both as the function of spells (camouflage magic, knock spells, and so forth) and my "thieves' tools" were fluffed as a spell focus that made my 'knock spell' work more effectively.

Since then I've made a point of getting trained Thievery on my wizards to specifically refluff as magic. My current wizard also has trained Athletics (and the Kord's Force skill power) which I fluff as a variety of physical magics such as the 'jump' spell and 'Bigby's Battering Ram' (thanks to Kord's Force my strength check to break down doors was on par with our strongest fighter until mid-paragon and is now only slightly behind).

Between re-fluffing things like that, trained Arcana's often overlooked "Detect Magic" function, the cantrips and the at-will attack spells I feel so much MORE magical as a 4E wizard than I ever did during 3E. Rituals (and the ritual mastery feats that each let you ignore the component cost and/or get faster casting times on a category of rituals once per day) are just icing on the cake.
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PostSubject: Re: Things that don't make sense   Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:45 pm

Yup reflavoring skills as magic... works very very sweet.

Even give a paladin of Bahamut invocations which mostly mimic theivery but better thematically?

http://community.wizards.com/content/blog/749541


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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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