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 Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance

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Garthanos
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:49 am

I am being a friendly dissenter please take my responses in a positive light perhaps interesting solutions are somewhere in there ... I see 5e dropped advancing defenses and a party of low level Ghouls easily disabling a party no matter what there level in a huge deadly swing as a natural consequence of this kind of math (One MM had to paint over or be demoing a trivial TPK) and not the kind of experience I want for the game.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:51 am

I guess I do like my BDHs ... and I worry that aspect can be lost. Not exactly something I want for descendants of 4e.

I am thinking I might find myself writing my own, but it is kind of an epidemic of that going around people not quite agreeing on what to bring in to a next generation of the game.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:31 am

Garthanos wrote:
When you do your martial takedown on a town guardsman it should be significantly easier than tripping up the Kensai.
And it likely would still be easier to trip a guardman than a Kensai even with the flatter math.

Bear in mind, that in my original proposal I never said we'd be removing ALL means of increasing your attack roll past 1st level. I merely said we were going to be removing the half-level, feat and enhancement bonuses to attack rolls and defenses. We didn't remove ALL types of improvement to it.

For example, you'd still get the improvements to your ability scores as you level (which usually translates to +1 to attack rolls at 8, 14, 21 and 28, possibly another +1 at 21 due to an epic destiny). Likewise all the power, untyped and item bonuses to attacks and defenses from class features, powers and magic items would still apply normally.

By the same token, to keep at-level monsters on pace we gave them a +2 bonus to their attacks and defenses at paragon and epic tiers. Those guardsmen would be heroic tier skirmishers or soldiers are going to have an AC of 15 or 17 respectively while the Kensai is either a paragon tier soldier with AC 19 or an epic tier soldier with an AC 21.

The best part of the flatter math though is that you can drop that epic-tier Kensai (a 21st level standard soldier) into a fight with heroic tier PC's and he could even be an acceptable challenge in mid-to-late heroic tier under the right circumstances (he could take about as much punishment as a 5-6th level solo soldier due to being harder to hit and its attack powers would be about as deadly as an 5-6th level solo who was focus firing on a single target).

So far the encounter building guidelines of a balanced fight that consumes 25% of the party's resources seems to be... monsters whose total levels equal the total levels of the party (i.e. a party of five 12th levels characters could reasonably deal with 60 levels of monsters as a balanced fight... ten 6th level standard monsters or three 20th level standard monsters for example).

Given the lower-powered nature of our setting (more 'Game of Thrones' or 'Legend of the Seeker' level), we don't WANT PC's who can cleave through a thousand mooks with nary a scratch. When twenty of ANYTHING that is remotely competent (i.e. at least the equal of a 1st level PC) surrounds you in this setting, it should give you pause and push your strategy more towards a fighting withdrawal than towards thoughts of easy victory over low level mooks (a lone PC might still be able to win if they could split them up and take them on in smaller groups with chances to catch their breath in between, but not in a straight fight).

A +4 variance in accuracy and defenses values is sufficient for our needs in that respect, the rest is covered by hit points and damage bonuses (128 hp against guards who are doing about 14 points a hit means they can survive through about twenty attacks without expending any healing resources while about three at-will attacks on my part will put one of those guardsmen down for the count). Thus, one at a time and with chances to rest when needed, an 18th level PC could probably deal with twenty or more 6th level guardsmen before they were exhausted. Its only when you have to deal with twenty of them at once on your own that things would become problematic... which feels about right for the setting we're telling stories in.

Besides, if you really think the Kensai should be have a bigger resistance to forced movement than a +4 modifier from being epic tier in this setting, then give it a trait that reduces forced movement in its monster stat block.

ETA: There's a difference in my mind between 'Big Damn Heroes' who fight smart to overcome overwhelming odds (i.e work as a team and use the element of surprise, ambushes, choke-points and fighting withdrawals) and those who are just so powerful they can ram down the front door of the stronghold without any plan what-so-ever and then, by themselves, kill every mook inside the stronghold in a single non-stop confrontation and end up with barely a scratch on them afterwards.

The former is how I've seen 'Big Damn Heroes' played out in virtually every instance of fiction I've ever read or watched. The second is how an 18th level PC vs. a stronghold full of normal goblins goes in 4E (unless your DM takes the time to level up every last monster in the stronghold... which yes, you're supposed to do for the sake of the narrative, but can be a lot of work when you have limited free time and are basically in a sandbox setting).
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:28 pm

Double-post due to weird iPhone hiccup.


Last edited by Chris24601 on Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:34 pm

^ disregard the above... My phone decided to repost my earlier post when I hit 'back' on the browser and I can't edit posts from my phone.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:35 pm

As a general rule I always view other posters' posts in a positive light, I think most if not all flame wars could be avoided if everyone did that.

I don't advocate the complete removal of advancement, I just prefer advancement to be a little less drastic than the half-level bonus of 4th edition, in my own version of 4e I use a mastery system, this was pretty much implemented to remove the ability score modifiers from attack rolls, but by now I use it for skills and other things aswell, while the mastery also grants a static advancement it's much slower than half-level and that works much better for me, it creates a large enough gap between low and high levels to be felt without ruining the possibility of making interesting encounters out of monsters much higher or lower level than the PCs.

To me the basic ideas behind the cards you describe is pretty much exactly the same as the combat powers of 4e no?
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:48 pm

On the point of big damn heroes I kinda run my campaigns close to what Chris describes, while PCs certainly can become powerful at my table they never reach the level of omnipotence that is common in epic level D&D scenarios, but again in my campaign setting there is perhaps only one living creature in all the multiverse that can be called 'omnipotent' the real gods are pretty petty and yes, an epic level PC can reach the power where he can challenge the power of a god, however even at that level he can still die to the spear of a simple goblin scavenger, while it's unlikely, it's still possible.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:24 pm

Okay, as promised here are the flat-math rules we've implemented for our games that have, so far, been pretty effective.

Player Characters:
- PC's do not gain half-level, enhancement, feat or masterwork armor bonuses to attacks or defenses. All other bonuses to attacks and defenses and bonuses to other things such as damage and skills are unaffected.
- Characters in heavy armor gain a +1 bonus to AC at levels 8, 14, 21 and 28 (to keep pace with the ability score increases of light armor wearers).
- When a particular skill or power calls for a skill check versus a defense, add the target's level to the defense when determining its effect.

Monsters:
- Hit points, damage and other effects are unchanged and can be used right out of the book.
- Monsters use the following attack bonuses and defense scores instead of their normal values (we have these printed out onto a handy reference sheet and the DM already has them half-way memorized).

Artillery (Level 1-10)
AC 13; Fort 13, Reflex 12, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 1-10)
AC 13; Fort 14, Reflex 13, Will 12
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 13, Will 14
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +5 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 15, Will 12
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 13
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 1-10)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 12, Will 13
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Artillery (Level 11-20)
AC 15; Fort 15, Reflex 14, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 11-20)
AC 15; Fort 16, Reflex 15, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 15, Will 16
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +7 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 17, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 16, Will 15
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 11-20)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 14, Will 15
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Artillery (Level 21+)
AC 17; Fort 17, Reflex 16, Will 18
Attacks: +12 (AC) / +10 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 21+)
AC 17; Fort 18, Reflex 17, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 17, Will 18
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +9 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 19, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 18, Will 17
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 21+)
AC 21; Fort 18, Reflex 16, Will 17
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Encounter Design/Leveling:

Standard Encounters: For levels 1-5, use the system in the DMG as normal (this is because monsters start with hit points and damage codes at least 4 times greater than adding a single level to them provides and it takes time for those effects to be minimized relative to the effect of adding a level).

For levels 6+, a standard encounter would be monsters whose total levels equal the total levels of the PC's (ex. six 18th level characters would be 108 levels, so nine 12th level standard monsters would be a standard encounter for those six characters). Elites count as 2 monsters of its level, Solos count as 4, and minions count as 1/4th a monster of its level.

Harder Encounters: Every 20% increase in the encounter budget is equal to an encounter of the party's level +1 (so a 100% increase would be equal to an encounter of the party's level +5).

Leveling Up: If you wish to replace XP entirely, you need to overcome monster/challenge levels equal to ten times your current level to advance a level (i.e. a 1st level PC must overcome 10 levels of monsters/challenges to reach 2nd level while a 15th level PC must overcome 150 levels of monsters/challenges to reach level 16).

That's pretty much it.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:11 pm

SgtFreakshow wrote:
On the point of big damn heroes I kinda run my campaigns close to what Chris describes, while PCs certainly can become powerful at my table they never reach the level of omnipotence that is common in epic level D&D scenarios, but again in my campaign setting there is perhaps only one living creature in all the multiverse that can be called 'omnipotent' the real gods are pretty petty and yes, an epic level PC can reach the power where he can challenge the power of a god, however even at that level he can still die to the spear of a simple goblin scavenger, while it's unlikely, it's still possible.
Well unless we are talking about PunPun the omnipotence reference is extreme hyperbole and even 4e doesnt even approach CoDzilla class in the extremity reached ... I am sorry but the demigodling dying by a goblin scavenger - I find similar or worse than dying because one slips and falls in the bathroom drowning by soap bar its a very realistic thiing and many things are possible but they arent what I game for. Shrug.


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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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Garthanos
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:12 pm

SgtFreakshow wrote:
As a general rule I always view other posters' posts in a positive light, I think most if not all flame wars could be avoided if everyone did that.

I don't advocate the complete removal of advancement, I just prefer advancement to be a little less drastic than the half-level bonus of 4th edition
Which is significantly less than any previous edition already dont you think?

In 1e a fighter got +1 per level with magic items (pretty much a definite assumption on top of that) and if you do things like higher ground bonuses.

A fighter in 1e could mow down that editions minions at a rate equal to his level per round.

I think its a question of genre assumptions really.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:36 pm

Garthanos wrote:
SgtFreakshow wrote:
As a general rule I always view other posters' posts in a positive light, I think most if not all flame wars could be avoided if everyone did that.

I don't advocate the complete removal of advancement, I just prefer advancement to be a little less drastic than the half-level bonus of 4th edition
Which is significantly less than any previous edition already dont you think?

In 1e a fighter got +1 per level with magic items (pretty much a definite assumption on top of that) and if you do things like higher ground bonuses.

A fighter in 1e could mow down that editions minions at a rate equal to his level per round.

I think its a question of genre assumptions really.

Don't have any experience with 1st edition, but yes, the advancement was steeper in former editions, however since there was little to no advancement in AC the advancement actually felt more fluid to me than in 4th edition, it made for horribly broken gameplay in many cases, but my problem with 4th edition's advancement is in essence that you will never notice if it's there or not, because of the math scaling equally for PCs and monsters there is no advancement, unless you start to use encounters not designed for the PCs level at which point you face broken combat.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:43 pm

Garthanos wrote:
SgtFreakshow wrote:
On the point of big damn heroes I kinda run my campaigns close to what Chris describes, while PCs certainly can become powerful at my table they never reach the level of omnipotence that is common in epic level D&D scenarios, but again in my campaign setting there is perhaps only one living creature in all the multiverse that can be called 'omnipotent' the real gods are pretty petty and yes, an epic level PC can reach the power where he can challenge the power of a god, however even at that level he can still die to the spear of a simple goblin scavenger, while it's unlikely, it's still possible.
Well unless we are talking about PunPun the omnipotence reference is extreme hyperbole and even 4e doesnt even approach CoDzilla class in the extremity reached ... I am sorry but the demigodling dying by a goblin scavenger - I find similar or worse than dying because one slips and falls in the bathroom drowning by soap bar its a very realistic thiing and many things are possible but they arent what I game for. Shrug.


I agree that it's not as bad in 4th edition as I experienced it being in 3rd (never played 2nd ed at high levels), but the level of superpower in 4th is still waaay above my liking.

But I guess that's mostly a matter of preference.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:59 pm

FUZION/GURPS are examples of games which have builtin dials within there mechanics so one can tailor the games target for a preferred genre I dont actually see that happening in NEXT due to designers being bound by tradition being a bigger goal than they seem to claim... but the discussion of modules has a bit of hope still left in some arenas.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:12 pm

SgtFreakshow wrote:

Don't have any experience with 1st edition, but yes, the advancement was steeper in former editions, however since there was little to no advancement in AC the advancement actually felt more fluid to me than in 4th edition
Adding extra attacks periodically doesnt necessarily feel that smooth to me. (though yes that is the offensive side)

What if you had a multi-attack power where you roll damage and divvy it between any number of enemies which your one attack roll is better than there defenses. This could be for martial attacks against all adjacent enemies or spells against multiple ones.

What if you have lower level enemies using team tactics to improve there defenses so that even if they werent up to your level they gained flanking defenses similar to offensive bonuses.

So this big group of enemies are hard to deal with as long as they are fighting as a team.. take out leadership and they lose the benefits of numbers

Sort of a compromise where you arent making new monsters or changing there levels  just letting there teamwork have more realistic impact on the fight. (too complicated?)

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:19 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Okay, as promised here are the flat-math rules we've implemented for our games that have, so far, been pretty effective.

Player Characters:
- PC's do not gain half-level, enhancement, feat or masterwork armor bonuses to attacks or defenses. All other bonuses to attacks and defenses and bonuses to other things such as damage and skills are unaffected.
- Characters in heavy armor gain a +1 bonus to AC at levels 8, 14, 21 and 28 (to keep pace with the ability score increases of light armor wearers).
- When a particular skill or power calls for a skill check versus a defense, add the target's level to the defense when determining its effect.

Monsters:
- Hit points, damage and other effects are unchanged and can be used right out of the book.
- Monsters use the following attack bonuses and defense scores instead of their normal values (we have these printed out onto a handy reference sheet and the DM already has them half-way memorized).

Artillery (Level 1-10)
AC 13; Fort 13, Reflex 12, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 1-10)
AC 13; Fort 14, Reflex 13, Will 12
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 13, Will 14
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +5 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 15, Will 12
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 1-10)
AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 13
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 1-10)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 12, Will 13
Attacks: +6 (AC) / +4 (F/R/W)

Artillery (Level 11-20)
AC 15; Fort 15, Reflex 14, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 11-20)
AC 15; Fort 16, Reflex 15, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 15, Will 16
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +7 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 17, Will 14
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 11-20)
AC 17; Fort 14, Reflex 16, Will 15
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 11-20)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 14, Will 15
Attacks: +8 (AC) / +6 (F/R/W)

Artillery (Level 21+)
AC 17; Fort 17, Reflex 16, Will 18
Attacks: +12 (AC) / +10 (F/R/W)

Brute (Level 21+)
AC 17; Fort 18, Reflex 17, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Controller (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 17, Will 18
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +9 (F/R/W)

Lurker (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 19, Will 16
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Skirmisher (Level 21+)
AC 19; Fort 16, Reflex 18, Will 17
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Soldier (Level 21+)
AC 21; Fort 18, Reflex 16, Will 17
Attacks: +10 (AC) / +8 (F/R/W)

Encounter Design/Leveling:

Standard Encounters:  For levels 1-5, use the system in the DMG as normal (this is because monsters start with hit points and damage codes at least 4 times greater than adding a single level to them provides and it takes time for those effects to be minimized relative to the effect of adding a level).

For levels 6+, a standard encounter would be monsters whose total levels equal the total levels of the PC's (ex. six 18th level characters would be 108 levels, so nine 12th level standard monsters would be a standard encounter for those six characters). Elites count as 2 monsters of its level, Solos count as 4, and minions count as 1/4th a monster of its level.

Harder Encounters: Every 20% increase in the encounter budget is equal to an encounter of the party's level +1 (so a 100% increase would be equal to an encounter of the party's level +5).

Leveling Up: If you wish to replace XP entirely, you need to overcome monster/challenge levels equal to ten times your current level to advance a level (i.e. a 1st level PC must overcome 10 levels of monsters/challenges to reach 2nd level while a 15th level PC must overcome 150 levels of monsters/challenges to reach level 16).

That's pretty much it.
I like the simplicity of that leveling up...

Thanks for sharing by the way.

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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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:54 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Well unless we are talking about PunPun the omnipotence reference is extreme hyperbole and even 4e doesnt even approach CoDzilla class in the extremity reached ... I am sorry but the demigodling dying by a goblin scavenger - I find similar or worse than dying because one slips and falls in the bathroom drowning by soap bar its a very realistic thiing and many things are possible but they arent what I game for. Shrug.
The odds of a level 30 PC dying to a level 1 minion, even with flattened math are so low as to be nonexistent. Even a Wizard with Con as a dump stat is going to have at least 136 hit points at level 30 while a level 1 minion only does 4 points of damage per hit. Even if he only wore cloth armor and started with only a 16 Intelligence he'd have at least a 17 AC at level 30 with flat-math so the minion will only hit the wizard 50% of the time.

Using my flat-math adjustments it would take 68 attacks for a level 1 minion to wear down the lowest possible amount of hit points a character could ever have while they have about the weakest possible defenses possible short of outright gimping themselves.

That's also presuming the PC is just sitting there without taking any sort of action involving defensive/healing powers or trying to kill the minion attacking him. A level one minion soldier would have an AC of 17, so even if the wizard started with an 8 Strength, never bothered with melee training AND used a non-proficient weapon he'd still statistically hit the minion at least 13 times before those 68 rounds were up.

Using 4E's regular math (i.e half-level, enhancement and feat bonuses) it would take that level 1 minion 680 rounds to take down the same poorly optimized level 30 target (i.e. only natural 20's hit) and the same wizard would only miss taking out the minion on a 1 or 2 (or only on 1 if they decided to use a non-magical weapon they were actually proficient with... or just used a +1 magic weapon).

Again, this is about the most pathetically defended level 30 hero possible using a gimped attack.

A reasonably optimized knight at level 30 using flat-math would be AC 24 and have more like 200 hit points... and so could survive 334 attacks from that level one minion without even spending any surges. Taking a second wind would add 84 attacks to how long they could survive. They'd similarly have about a +13 to their attack rolls at that level and so would hit that level one minion 85% of the time (and would hit ANY heroic tier non-soldier on anything but a 1).

Even if a horde of such minion soldiers got off eight attacks per round on the knight, they could STILL last 42 rounds before dropping without using any sort of defensive/healing ability (53 rounds with just second wind) AND would have sent about three dozen of the enemy to their graves in the process (almost four dozen if they used second wind and nearly a hundred if they were also using cleave or a similar multi-attack power).

To re-iterate, those numbers (lasting 53 rounds and taking out 90 enemy soldiers in the process) are using my flat-math bonuses and a not-particularly optimized knight. If being able to stand ALONE against nearly one hundred normal men AT ONCE (and potentially even survive) isn't EPIC enough in your book, then we're just playing two completely different games.

'The Strength of One Hundred Normal Men' is MORE than epic enough for the purposes of my campaign.

-----

That said, the odds are that none of the encounters we'll be facing down the line using this system are going to be nearly so lop-sided as 30th vs. 1st level. This is mostly about giving the DM more options to throw at us without having to waste her limited free-time rewriting them to fit our level. We're far more likely to be facing slightly larger numbers of high heroic/low paragon tier threats like ogres, trolls and drow (along with elves/eladrin, dwarves, humans, orcs and goblins) than 1st level minions like human rabble.

What flat-math means though is that our DM could, if the story demanded it, grab eight Orc Bloodragers (level 7 elite brutes; 8x7x2=112 levels) right out of the book (using the cheat-sheet for attack bonuses and defenses) and the encounter would actually be a threat to our six 18th level PC's instead of us curb-stomping them because under the normal rules they could only hit us on a natural 20 and we could only miss them on a natural 1.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:57 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Adding extra attacks periodically doesnt necessarily feel that smooth to me. (though yes that is the offensive side)

What if you had a multi-attack power where you roll damage and divvy it between any number of enemies which your one attack roll is better than there defenses. This could be for martial attacks against all adjacent enemies or spells against multiple ones.

What if you have lower level enemies using team tactics to improve there defenses so that even if they werent up to your level they gained flanking defenses similar to offensive bonuses.

So this big group of enemies are hard to deal with as long as they are fighting as a team.. take out leadership and they lose the benefits of numbers

Sort of a compromise where you arent making new monsters or changing there levels  just letting there teamwork have more realistic impact on the fight. (too complicated?)

Didn't say I felt it was smooth, just smoother than the mathematical non-advancement of standard 4e.

The idea of dividing out damage like that is a pretty good one, but it's not really needed as long as you run the AEDU system as that's kinda what powers are supposed to do no?

As for monsters gaining 'strength in numbers' that's great, I've been running goblins like this, they gain bonuses to their attack rolls and sneak attack damage depending on their number advantage against their enemies, so 5 goblins against 5 level 1 PCs have no advantage, but 50 goblins against 5 level 10 PCs have a massive advantage until the group mage/barbarian/swordmage decides to expend one of their big AoE dailies to clear out the clutter.

I've had great success running overpowered leader monsters in low-powered encounters aswell, put in one seemingly harmless leader monster with an at-will power that allows all his allies within a close burst 10 to make a basic attack into a dense pack of low level monsters and see the players scramble to take out the leader, despite the rabble around them seemed to be a minor threat at first glance.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:40 pm

One point to bear in mind regarding the 1 attack per round per level against 0-level monsters in 1st Edition. While this may sound impressive in terms of 'Big Damn Heroes' one must also remenber that one round back then was ONE MINUTE long so really, in that regard a 1st level 4E Fighter using just basic attacks has the competency of a 10th level 1E Fighter when it comes to minion clearing (more really... they get 10+ attacks per minute against ANY opponent, not just 0-level ones).
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:39 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
One point to bear in mind regarding the 1 attack per round per level against 0-level monsters in 1st Edition. While this may sound impressive in terms of 'Big Damn Heroes' one must also remember that one round back then was ONE MINUTE long  

Yes but it was in comparison to others including your earlier veteran level 1 self doing 1 attack in that exact same time period.... Everything is relative.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:48 pm

SgtFreakshow wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
Adding extra attacks periodically doesnt necessarily feel that smooth to me. (though yes that is the offensive side)

What if you had a multi-attack power where you roll damage and divvy it between any number of enemies which your one attack roll is better than there defenses. This could be for martial attacks against all adjacent enemies or spells against multiple ones.

What if you have lower level enemies using team tactics to improve there defenses so that even if they werent up to your level they gained flanking defenses similar to offensive bonuses.

So this big group of enemies are hard to deal with as long as they are fighting as a team.. take out leadership and they lose the benefits of numbers

Sort of a compromise where you arent making new monsters or changing there levels  just letting there teamwork have more realistic impact on the fight. (too complicated?)

Didn't say I felt it was smooth, just smoother than the mathematical non-advancement of standard 4e.

The idea of dividing out damage like that is a pretty good one, but it's not really needed as long as you run the AEDU system as that's kinda what powers are supposed to do no?

Sure Im not stepping outside of the powers paradigm I just think fewer cleaner rolls would be good for the multi-hit powers.   I am thinking I want martial powers that are better at multiple opponents than they currently are with fewer die rolls wrapped up in it.

I also want some berserk abilities that damage allies as well as enemies and they literally have to avoid you because you are basically dangerous terrain. for those you dont get to allocate the damage you just deliver if they are adjacent during the time period of the stance.

SgtFreakshow wrote:

As for monsters gaining 'strength in numbers' that's great, I've been running goblins like this, they gain bonuses to their attack rolls and sneak attack damage depending on their number advantage against their enemies, so 5 goblins against 5 level 1 PCs have no advantage, but 50 goblins against 5 level 10 PCs have a massive advantage until the group mage/barbarian/swordmage decides to expend one of their big AoE dailies to clear out the clutter.

I've had great success running overpowered leader monsters in low-powered encounters aswell, put in one seemingly harmless leader monster with an at-will power that allows all his allies within a close burst 10 to make a basic attack into a dense pack of low level monsters and see the players scramble to take out the leader, despite the rabble around them seemed to be a minor threat at first glance.
Enemy Warlords are as fun as ally ones...

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:56 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
Well unless we are talking about PunPun the omnipotence reference is extreme hyperbole and even 4e doesnt even approach CoDzilla class in the extremity reached ... I am sorry but the demigodling dying by a goblin scavenger - I find similar or worse than dying because one slips and falls in the bathroom drowning by soap bar its a very realistic thiing and many things are possible but they arent what I game for. Shrug.
The odds of a level 30 PC dying to a level 1 minion, even with flattened math are so low as to be nonexistent.
Ummm it wasn't actually my example I just reacted to it...  Smile Smile Smile 

Yes the system even with flattened math doesnt result in that... or for that matter anything fun because the only way to get that kills is just huge amounts of die rolling... if that is the goal you need to do something more like RQ with its every attack is a form of save or die.
(modern versions of which added luck points to help prevent the die condition even)



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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:05 pm

SgtFreakshow wrote:

To me the basic ideas behind the cards you describe is pretty much exactly the same as the combat powers of 4e no?

Sort of its core combat system is already like a form of fairly complex rock paper scissors the results of which include impairments during the following round these might be seen as at will powers but they are situationally available from round to round so the number you have available ranges from the worst case condition where you only have 3 moves possible to the best where you have 26 to pick from. You are much more predictable knocked back to 3.

The cards extend that list a bit and frequently remove conditions and often apply benefits to selecting some of the moves. The Condition removal a limited number of times per battle IS very like some solo designs I have seen.

I think If one doesnt have advancing defenses ... having condition removal moves would be good.


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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:09 pm

I think you guys may have convinced me the flattened math can work better than I thought at first but I think if I were reduce things down I might be tempted to go with skill by level still actually providing a standard 1 per 5 levels and reduce magic item enhancements both defensive and offensive nominally to 1 per 10 levels in items that provide it or simply make it very rare.  I prefer awesome be a function of character ability rather than ones bling anyway.

To my thinking the only thing that makes a bunch of lower level opponents broken is that its way too much die rolling... and based on that I would want team fighting bonuses or swarm rules anyway.

But in general I think defenses enhancing is necessary to avoid being over vulnerable to lower level disabling attacks

Not sure if it is related but after looking them up -whether I changed anything else I would like more powers like the Corsairs stealie nerves which provides a power bonus on defenses/saves against fear effects in the following round. More powers to provide similar to other saves or defenses as well so they are active abilities might be nice.

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“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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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:01 am

SgtFreakshow wrote:
however since there was little to no advancement in AC the advancement actually felt more fluid to me than in 4th edition
Untrue. Pre-3rd edition Fighters  would buy more expensive armour and get magic items to boost their AC. 3rd ed and 3.5e enshrined this in their wealth by level guidelines and gave tools for DMs to hand out magic items at a rate that would keep them balanced against the assumptions of the system math which did assume your AC increases. I have a look at my Pathfinder "fighter type" at level 11 I have AC 29 (unbuffed). I can guarantee he didn't have AC 29 at level 1 (or even level 5). Unlike BAB I don't have a codified AC boost in my character class. It instead comes from a wide variety of sources.

4th ed simply moved to the next logical step which was codifying all of these disparate bonuses into three bonuses (enhancement bonus from magic armour, feat bonuses and 1/2 level bonus).

SgtFreakshow wrote:
it made for horribly broken gameplay in many cases, but my problem with 4th edition's advancement is in essence that you will never notice if it's there or not, because of the math scaling equally for PCs and monsters there is no advancement, unless you start to use encounters not designed for the PCs level at which point you face broken combat.
I respectively disagree with this. Is 4th ed's combat broken? Yes. But IMO only in the sense of how long it takes, rather than scaling bonuses. The fundamental math mandated combats take a certain period of time which it turned out people didn't really like (hence the math fixes of MM3-onwards along with numerous houserules).

The idea of removing scaling bonuses hasn't existed in any edition of D&D. It is a new idea introduced in D&D Next. I think there's a lot of potential in the idea and I'll be interested to see the next editions take on it. But that doesn't mean the previous editions "were broken."

Chris24601 wrote:
Using my flat-math adjustments it would take 68 attacks for a level 1 minion to wear down the lowest possible amount of hit points a character could ever have while they have about the weakest possible defenses possible short of outright gimping themselves.
The problem with flatter math is that status effects (such as dazed and stunned) are just as powerful at level 10 as they are at level 30. This is what the D&D Next team discovered. Furthermore you'll need to look at the XP budgets and make sure that the level 1 minion is worth 1/17th the XP of a monster that can take down the wizard in 4 rounds.

I've also explored flat math (using 2nd edition as my base) and discovered that the amount of DPR a level 1 fighter produces compared with a level 2 fighter (with flatter math) is neglible so there's no real difference between a level 1 monster and a level 2 monster. Without running the numbers the same seems to be true for 4th ed. So you'll have to watch that when assigning XP values for monsters as otherwise you'll get funky results and not be able to provide accurate encounter building advice.

Chris24601 wrote:
This is mostly about giving the DM more options to throw at us without having to waste her limited free-time rewriting them to fit our level.
This is really the golden dream that's offered by flatter math. On the other hand, I'm sure one could easily devise rules that allowed for adhoc advancement of monsters using scaling bonuses. I tried it and wasn't able to do it. I'd be interested in seeing how you go with it Smile

SgtFreakshow wrote:
Didn't say I felt it was smooth, just smoother than the mathematical non-advancement of standard 4e.
The fighter's advancement in attack rolls and defenses is fundamentally the same in every single edition of D&D. Even the numbers don't really change.
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PostSubject: Re: Effects of Flatter Math on Encounter Balance   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:01 am

JohnLynch wrote:
SgtFreakshow wrote:
however since there was little to no advancement in AC the advancement actually felt more fluid to me than in 4th edition
Untrue. Pre-3rd edition Fighters  would buy more expensive armour and get magic items to boost their AC. 3rd ed and 3.5e enshrined this in their wealth by level guidelines and gave tools for DMs to hand out magic items at a rate that would keep them balanced against the assumptions of the system math which did assume your AC increases. I have a look at my Pathfinder "fighter type" at level 11 I have AC 29 (unbuffed). I can guarantee he didn't have AC 29 at level 1 (or even level 5). Unlike BAB I don't have a codified AC boost in my character class. It instead comes from a wide variety of sources.

4th ed simply moved to the next logical step which was codifying all of these disparate bonuses into three bonuses (enhancement bonus from magic armour, feat bonuses and 1/2 level bonus).

SgtFreakshow wrote:
it made for horribly broken gameplay in many cases, but my problem with 4th edition's advancement is in essence that you will never notice if it's there or not, because of the math scaling equally for PCs and monsters there is no advancement, unless you start to use encounters not designed for the PCs level at which point you face broken combat.
I respectively disagree with this. Is 4th ed's combat broken? Yes. But IMO only in the sense of how long it takes, rather than scaling bonuses. The fundamental math mandated combats take a certain period of time which it turned out people didn't really like (hence the math fixes of MM3-onwards along with numerous houserules).

The idea of removing scaling bonuses hasn't existed in any edition of D&D. It is a new idea introduced in D&D Next. I think there's a lot of potential in the idea and I'll be interested to see the next editions take on it. But that doesn't mean the previous editions "were broken."

While there was advancement in defenses in 3rd edition I found that unless you specifically min-maxed for high defenses the advancement for attacks would just be doubly as fast, while a 11th level fighter could get an unbuffed 29 AC he would just as easily have a +25 bonus to his main attack roll at the same level, this was the whole idea of the Full Attack thingy 3rd edition ran with, when you reached a level where you would gain an extra attack in your full attack the primary attack would pretty much be a guaranteed hit.

I don't think 4th edition's combat is broken as is, but if you start introducing monsters at +10/-10 level compared to the PCs it becomes broken and I want to be able to do that, thus my preference for a flatter math.
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