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 Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.

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Honorbound
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:11 pm

I agree - it does mostly the same thing. Vulnerable treating hits as crits is a good idea too. It's simple yet more effective than 4e's vulnerability rules. This is an obvious question, but I take it that you're doing immunity the same way as 4e?
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:07 pm

Honorbound wrote:
I agree - it does mostly the same thing. Vulnerable treating hits as crits is a good idea too. It's simple yet more effective than 4e's vulnerability rules. This is an obvious question, but I take it that you're doing immunity the same way as 4e?
Yes. All immunities are only to the specific portion of the power the immunity is to, not to the power as a whole. Also like 4E I intend for immunities, particularly to damage types, to be exceptionally rare (indeed, outside of elementals which utterly embody a particular element... ex. a fire elemental... I expect damage immunities to be nearly non-existent).

Generally, I find resistant targets more interesting than immune ones. Hitting a creature with the wrong power with immunity just wastes an action, particularly if you've built your character to embrace a particular theme (ice sorceress for example) while resistances just make the job harder if you try to ram your way through using your usual tactics. The latter rewards adapting your tactics to the situation, the former outright prevents anything but different tactics from working.

One big advantage I especially see to using half-damage is that there is no minimum threshold for low damage effects such as ongoing damage or similar static damage effects where the damage is entirely negated (I remember many a case where a mere resist 5 X turned a creature's main attack into a joke, since it was balanced on the notion that the attack would do an extra 7.5 damage due to ongoing damage that instead did none). So long as you do at least two points of damage you're going to do at least some damage to the target (and thereby move the encounter closer to completion).

By the same token, it helps make things slightly more survivable to be on the receiving end of a stronger creature's attack. When a low level gadgeteer deploys an elemental shield to grant an ally fire resistance against a high level dragon (with the encounter being more of a skill challenge to escape rather than defeating the great beast) reducing the 30 fire damage to 15 points vs. reducing only to 25 (via heroic tier resist 5 fire) is going to let players survive a bit longer (an important element if the group doesn't immediately get that the purpose of the encounter is to flee and survive it... sometimes it takes a couple rounds).

Overall I suspect it to be a win-win and if the numeric resistance is desperately needed for something I suppose I could always come up with a case specific effect (i.e. reduce the damage from each hit taken by X). As of right now I think there are maybe two or three places where such an element might be useful and some of those might work just as well if reworked to a shorter duration effect (i.e. replace 'Resist 2/3/4 All' with '1/encounter, take half damage from all attacks until the end of your next turn).

And this is why I am trying to question EVERYTHING when doing this project. Some things are working really well as is in 4E, others can stand some improvement.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:33 pm

So, I'm laying out class powers today and I've come to a realization; my addition of minor action role-related effects has pretty much wiped out the design space where class specific utility powers would have sat in 4E. This became expressly obvious with the rogue, wizard and gadgeteer whose minor actions are developing to be every bit as important to fulfilling their class role during a turn than their standard action attack powers.

The result of this observation is that I've decided to pull utility powers from the classes entirely, add minor action features to every class that doesn't currently have them (right now I'm thinking 'feats of strength' for the fighter) and move your selection of utility powers to your race, background and, if necessary to get enough options, to skill selections (I'd rather see more background specific utilities that use certain skills in ways unique to that background than just generic skill powers though).

Along with that shift would be dropping the notion of 'combat-only' utilities from the lists. Things like that should be class/background/role benefits, not utility powers. Some of these utilities might prove useful in combat, summoning a magical ladder to reach archers on a ledge for example, but that's just incidental to its primary purpose of providing the utility of reaching places you normally would have difficulty getting to. Invisibility is another example, while it might provide an edge in combat (until you attack and reveal yourself), its primary purpose is to make it easier for you to sneak around in any number of situations. By contrast, the shield spell is something that's only useful for combat and that's something that would be found as a class feature rather than a utility.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:30 am

Seriously, man, it's like you're pulling stuff out of my mind that I didn't even know I wanted! Your spreading the love on the minor action features promises to be nothing but gold, given how much I liked the gadgeteer and wizard in your Essentials Options article. And utility powers having in-combat and out-of-combat purposes neatly solves an old complaint about 4e, how everything is combat-oriented (even if you could use some of the old 4e utilities out of a fight). And taking them out of the classes' sphere and putting them under the control of the races, skills backgrounds/themes is simply an evolution of what 4e started late in its life cycle, with theme powers, skill powers, and racial utilities.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:55 am

That's pretty much the idea... and, in the spirit of questioning everything, as I've been laying out powers I've had to wrestle with the action economy/conditions.

Specifically the fact that the cost of losing an action starts out as nearly worthless (you choose to lose your minor or your move generally... much like dazed didn't hurt ranged attackers all that much) and stays weak as it goes up to 2 actions (you can still take your standard... which can be a charge and ranged people can still use their ranged attacks unimpeded) and then becomes absolute at lose all your actions.

I want a cleaner scaling where its more like 1/2/3 than 1/3/6 in terms of severity and so far the best solution I've found is a case of convergent evolution with 5e (i.e. arrived at a similar answer to a problem). The solution is to not make movement a specific actions, but rather the distance you can cover before, during and/or after your standard and minor actions.

The auto-damage of reactive strikes should keep it from acting that differently from normal movement in melee, but ranged is going to need a bit of tweaking to avoid the 'classic' ranged attacker who pops out of total cover, attacks and then pops back into it during their turn. I'm leaning towards either loosening up the readied action system (make it a free action to ready any actions or movement you didn't use on your turn) or add an at-will reaction power specifically to deal with it.

Similarly, things like standing up, opening doors, picking up objects and such would need a speed cost to work in the system. It should be noted that, for a time, I considered just having actions cost X speed per use, but the pitfalls were you either had to make standard actions cost more than all your regular movement and a minor action put together or you include the potential to take two standard actions (or a LOT of now non-trivial minor actions) a turn without spending a heroic surge that just destroys the action economy and mobility in a tactical skirmish in the same way that full-round attacks did for fighters in 3e.

So, the ranged cover issue is the downside, but the BENEFIT I'm seeing to making such a change though is that it clarifies the grading of the various conditions into something that is easy to apply when designing powers. Let's start with the core of what had me looking for a solution in the first place, the dazed/stunned divide.

A note on grading... when I reference a 'minor condition' I mean something suitable for an at-will power. A 'moderate condition' is a low-to-mid tier encounter/focus effect and roughly on par with two minor conditions. A 'major condition' are the most severe conditions and need to be reserved for high tier effects (i.e. cost 3 focus) or only achieved by stacking lower tier effects (two dazed = stunned) or expending a daily resource (heroic surges).

So, instead of 4E's dazed effect where you're effectively -2 actions (which is really debilitating if you're a melee type who's best effects aren't basic attack, or nearly meaningless if you're a ranged type or rely on basic attacks for everything and can just get a free move action by charging) I would make dazed into -1 action (standard or minor) and slowed (lose half your speed) with stunned being -2 actions (standard and minor) and immobilized (lose all your speed). I like this because it makes dazed even a hindrance to charge builds (with my changes to charging mechanics they can only get three squares instead of six) and roughly half the effect of stunned.

Now here's what I mean about being easier to grade. Dazed is clearly a moderate condition, no character should be able to do it at will, and Stunned is just as obviously a major condition, it can completely shut down a target and so needs to be rare. But now with each of them as two parts makes it much clearer what level different conditions can be at.

Dazed is -1 action and slowed... so slowed on its own (maybe -1 action on its own) could be a minor effect. Stunned is -2 actions and immobilized... so immobilized on its own (maybe -2 actions on its own) would be a moderate effect (on par with dazed... -1 action and slowed).

Going out from there for the first time I was able to get an absolute solid handle on which conditions were desirable for at-wills and which absolutely needed to be limited to expenditures of a little (or a lot) of focus.

As a result here's the rankings as I see them now;
Minor Conditions (suitable for at-will effects)
-Dazzled (no reactions)
-Slowed (half speed)
-Checked (limits movement direction)
-Tethered (limits movement direction)
-Shaken (penalty to attacks)
-Partially Blinded (penalty to attacks)
-Taunted (penalty to some attacks)
-Deafened (penalty to perception)
-Flat-footed (penalty to defense)
-Confused (allies subject to reactive strikes; must shift or take damage)
-Prone (penalty to attack and to melee defense, but bonus to ranged defense)
-Minor Forced Movement (push/pull/slide/teleport) of 1-2 squares.

Moderate Conditions (suitable for 1-2 focus cost effects... some could be at-will if the power deals no other damage)
-Dazed (-1 action and slowed)
-Immobilized (no movement... superior to slowed, checked and tethered)
-Frightened (shaken and flat-footed)
-Fatigued (penalty to attacks and defenses)
-Unfocused (cannot spend focus)
-Severely Blinded (large penalty to attacks... roughly double partial blindness)
-Weakened (inflict half damage)
-Vulnerable X (hits with X are automatic critical hits)
-Basic Attack (the target makes a basic attack against target of your choice)
-Major Forced Movement (push/pull/slide/teleport of 4+)

Major Conditions (suitable for 3 focus cost/heroic surge effects... some could be 2 focus if base power deals no damage)
-Held (-2 actions, immobilized)
-Restrained (immobilized, no forced movement, -2 to attacks and defenses)
-Terrified (large penalties to attack/defense)
-Exhausted (large penalties to attack/defense)
-Controlled (-1 action, slowed, unfocused and uses at-will of choice against target of choice on its turn)
-Totally Blind (large penalties to attack/defense)

This also makes it easy to grade powers with multiple conditions... an illusion that slows and partially blinds for example would be a moderate condition (equal to two minor conditions) while an illusion that immobilizes and severely blinds a target would be a major condition (two moderate conditions).

---------------

I'm not sure if this is the approach I'll actually take... the only thing I am sure of right now is that as much as I initially liked dazed/stunned/held as -1/2/3 actions... the dazed and even the stunned are just proving to be extremely weak compared other options (I'm finding slowed plus partially blinded to be more hindering in more situations than losing a single action or even two actions is to some classes).

Input, as always, would be appreciated.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sat Sep 27, 2014 6:39 am

So, I've had an idea about an alternative to loosening up readied actions if I change the movement as I described previously to deal with 'poppers' (i.e. targets that use the movement rules to pop out, take a shot and pop back into total cover). I'm not sure its a 'great' idea so I wouldn't mind some input on whether I should look at moving forward with this movement scheme or if I should focus on fixing the condition problems without mucking up the Standard/Move/Minor economy too much.

Reactive Shot (Reaction)
Trigger: A creature becomes visible to you on its turn and is not adjacent to you.
Effect: You make a ranged attack on the target, but lose your standard action on your next turn.
Special: You must have a ranged weapon or an implement drawn or be able to draw one as a free action to use this power.

Basically, if you're popping into view and aren't already right on top of the target, the target gets a chance to react to it (albeit at the cost of their next standard action) before you can get back under cover. The only ways to avoid this are if your enemy can't take reactions (ex. a surprise round), if you don't become visible (a successful Stealth check while popping between cover without attacking would allow you to avoid a reactive shot) or become visible only when you're a square adjacent to a creature (in which case reactive strike punishes you for moving).

The other advantage that I see to this potential element is that it exposes a 'popper' to return fire EVERY round where it pops out to fire, while under the 4E rules (without special powers coming into play) you'd get one shot on such a critter on the round after it pops out and shoots, then on its next turn it can shoot a second time and pop back under total cover with its move and you can't retaliate at all. Once they can take a hit every round when they're using such a tactic, the optimal combat solution is to go with the more straight forward tactic of simply finding the best cover they can find and fire from behind it (moving only to keep cover as their enemies move to try and expose them).

At least that's the theory. If you think this might be needlessly complicating things (only having to track how far you can move during your movement action is less complex than having to keep a running tally as you take other actions... but it might reduce enough complexity in other areas to be worth it) then please tell me so I can refocus my efforts on finding another solution to conditions.

Right now this is one of those 'question everything' elements where I'm trying to figure out if standard/move/minor is actually the best solution for a game that resolves combat with tactical skirmishes. This could be like AC/Reflex where I concluded keeping both like 4E was less complex than switching to some sort of DR system for armor, or it could be like saving throws where I'm doing them in what I feel is a much more intuitive manner. I'm not sure yet, so that's why I'm posting it here... to either work through my own thoughts by writing it out (which hasn't happened yet on this one to be honest) and to hear other people's feedback in the hopes of having something click for me to resolve the matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:26 am

Well, I've been ruminating on my action economy issue all weekend and I think I've come to the tentative conclusion that while its a departure from 3e/4E, splitting movement out from your standard and minor actions will solve more problems than it causes and reduce complexity overall.

I say this because, so far, the ONLY negative that has come up was the initial one of ranged attackers using their movement to pop out, attack, then pop back into total cover with no opportunity for anyone to react. Meanwhile, I've already found two other ways that splitting out movement could help in reducing complexity.

One plus for reducing complexity that I've found over the weekend is that, if movement isn't an 'action' then I can pretty much drop the 'minor action (once per round)' from the types of actions. 1/r minors were actions, that while usually weaker than a standard action power of the same usage, were nonetheless not something you wanted people to be able to use TWICE per round (by using your move action to perform it again) in addition to a standard action attack. No move action you can trade for a minor action makes that easier and I can't think of a single minor action power that would be broken by allowing someone to trade their standard action for it (even something like Healing Word since there are plenty of other similar healing powers that can be used in the same turn as a standard action).

A related plus is that many of the things categorized as minor actions previously, but which weren't really up to the level of a minor action POWER (ex. opening a door or picking up an item) can instead cost you movement to perform and make movement a bit more streamlined (consider that opening a closed, but unlatched door, taking two steps and then opening, but not going through, a second closed, but unlatched door is a full six-second turn in 4E because you need a minor action to open the first, a move action to move the five feet between them which you must then end to use your standard action as a minor action to open the second).

What I'm envisioning is the ability to emulate such heroic scenes from films where a hero breaks down a locked door (one of the fighter's minor action powers), runs forward (costs 2 squares of movement), snatching a sword from the ground as he goes (costs 2 more squares of movement) and then closes the gap (2 more squares of movent) and attacks a villain with said blade (standard action) all in a single turn.

By contrast, in 4E that would be at LEAST two turns or require burning heroic surge to charge after performing a minor/standard on the door, a move and a minor to pick something up.

So, lacking any other input but my own, I am for now going to push forward with this particular design decision. The one good thing about it though is that, as design elements go it'll be pretty easy to pull back out again and restore the previous action economy if something awful I have not yet considered pops up in the design process.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:30 pm

the biggest problem with getting rid of the move action is that powers that it makes powers that let you move more complicated. powers that let you teleport or fly, or move your speed+whatever.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:45 am

That is a valid point against and thank you for making it. Even if I can work out a way that it would be no more complex than it is in 4E, its a line of thought I NEED to run through before committing to it.

This will likely be a bit long and a bit stream of consciousness, but here's how I'm working things through in my head to answer the observation that it might make movement granting powers more complex...

-----------

To keep the complexity down, the first thing I'd need is a rule like 4E has for mixing movement types. Indeed, 4E's rule (pg 204 of the Rules Compendium) would probably do the job perfectly on its own. If you have speed 6 and climb speed of 3 then you could move up to 6 squares in your turn, but only 3 of those 6 squares could be moved by climbing (so if you're in the middle of a wall 10 squares high you'll only be able to move a total of 3 squares since regular movement isn't an option).

The same would go for a dragon with move 6 and fly 8; it could move up to 8 squares, but only 6 of those eight could be on the ground; if it wants to cover the last two squares it would have to fly (which it might not be able to do at all in tight space).

So for a basic move action power like an Eladrin's Fey Step all we really need to do is change the action type to free and then specify the duration the movement type is gained for. Instead of a move action to teleport 5 squares, it would be a free action to gain a teleport speed of 5 this turn. The Eladrin could move 6 squares on its turn like normal, but up to 5 of them could be by teleporting. In terms of presentation it would be something like this;

Fey Step
Use/Keywords: free action + 1 focus / teleport, utility
Effect: You gain a teleport speed of 5 this turn.

So I don't think a basic effect like that would be meaningfully more complex than a fey step using a move action would be and I think a power that's 'move your speed + X' would be much more so. If such a power is dependent on the movement (ex. moving to gain cover and getting a free hide check) then it would need a pretty basic trigger and could be expressed as follows;

Stealthy Movement
Use/Keywords: free action / utility
Trigger: You move into cover or concealment on your turn.
Effect: You can make a Stealth check to become hidden.

If the +whatever of the movement is purely incidental to your normal movement (ex. move your speed and gain +2 to defenses until end of next turn) then it could be expressed as simply a free action without the movement component attached. For example;

Evasive
Use/Keywords: free action +1 focus / utility
Effect: You gain resistance to reactive strikes during your turn.

While the above example wouldn't require it (you can't get 'double resistance' to something), I think adding a universal clarification that you can't use the same free action power more than once per turn would actually help reduce overall complexity (i.e. all free actions only work once per turn each instead of some theoretically working multiple times per turn wile others are limited to once per turn).

One thing that could be more complex would be a power that hinders your movement in exchange for +whatever... for example, a power that lets you move half your speed and deal damage to an adjacent target during the move. I think this might be where a new keyword is needed...

Hindering (keyword): This power restricts your movement during your turn. You can only use this power if your movement this turn has not yet exceeded that restriction.

An example of such a power might be;

Acrobatic Trick
Use/Keywords: free action / hindering, utility
Effect: You are slowed during your turn. Once, during your turn, you can deal STR damage to one adjacent target as a free action.

If a minor or standard action lets you move in some way I don't think it'd need to be changed from how it is in 4E. You'd just need to specify that movement gained from using standard/minor action powers must be used as part of that action (i.e. you can't bank it for later) and that it does not count against your normal movement. That shouldn't be any more complex than what 4E has now.

The only really wooly-booger in the whole works is, admittedly, using your move action to shift. It can't be a normal alternate movement mode since you can't readily combine it others, but certain powers will let you extend the distance you can shift. I think the solution to that would be to express the basic shift action as a power and take advantage of my new keyword;

Basic Shift
Use/Keywords: free action / hindering, utility
Effect: You shift 1 square instead of taking your normal movement.

ETA: It occurs to me that the same wording could also be used for a Fey Step or similar power.

Effect: You can teleport up to 5 squares instead of taking your normal movement.

-------------

The net result of all the above is that I think the complications of such a change could be reduced or even mitigated entirely just by clearly wording certain powers, the addition of the 'Hindering' keyword and a clarification that movement granted by minor and standard actions must be performed during that action and does not count against your normal movement.

So, what are your thoughts on my thoughts?
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:23 am

On further reflection, I think a variation on the last element might be the least complex option. Instead of a hindering keyword, I think the following power keyword would suffice...

Movement (keyword): This power replaces your normal movement. You may not use a movement power if you've already used any of your normal movement this turn.

This keyword would normally be found on free action powers, but I'd also likely use it with a charge as well (post-Essentials, I wasn't fond of the charge rules which were balanced around inferior basic attacks and the martial stances in mine have similar issues) and could cover just about any type of movement power 4E currently has while still keeping movement distinct from the standard and minor (perhaps major or main would be better than standard in this case) for purposes of applying conditions and using one type of action for another (one of the main issues I was having was being able to burn an unneeded move action to use another minor action once I started making minor actions a lot more available).

What I'd like to really know from people though is if such a change would be 'a bridge too far' in terms of a change from 4E for people's tastes. Because I know that road... Where a 4E legacy project runs along and everyone's stoked and then they make just one change too many and the whole thing becomes 'do not want'.

Unlike, say the change to saves (which is just a flat out improvement) this one even feels a bit too much even for me, which is truly why I have yet to finally pull the trigger on it in my designs (my designs still all have move actions designed into them).

This isn't where to silo a class or power, but changing one of the primary mechanics of 4E's action economy and even if I think it might solve some issues, I don't want to cross that bridge if no one else wants to go that direction.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:36 pm

If I remember correctly, 5e keeps the move action but breaks up movement, so that could work. I don't see any problems with your movement idea, especially since you've looked into potential problems.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:58 am

Chris24601 wrote:

Movement (keyword): This power replaces your normal movement. You may not use a movement power if you've already used any of your normal movement this turn.

Does this working make it so you cannot use a movement power in place of you standard action after normal movement?

TjD
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:59 pm

Durriken wrote:
Chris24601 wrote:

Movement (keyword): This power replaces your normal movement. You may not use a movement power if you've already used any of your normal movement this turn.

Does this working make it so you cannot use a movement power in place of you standard action after normal movement?

TjD
My intention under the movement rules would be the following...

Running: You can spend a minor action to gain 3 extra speed this turn.
Sprinting: You can spend a standard action to use your movement a second time this turn. This means you can use a second power with the movement keyword this turn if desired.

That will cover that aspect of things.

Most likely, as with my take on the Shift action, these will probably be re-formatted into basic at-will powers (because that's how I'm building just about every exception to the most basic of mechanics). Powers have been, by far, the most efficient way I've found to cover just about any rule that interacts with the action economy.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:12 pm

So, short update today (due to real life matters I'm stuck typing this on my iphone). The weekend saw the completion (albeit on paper; still need to type it up) of the martial classes (in their first iteration anyway). Once they're typed up I'll put up a link to a pdf so people can start to get a real look at how the classes will be put together.

My personal favorite stance so far is what I'm informally calling the 'Thou Shall Not Pass' stance (for the fighter). On a hit, the target is checked against moving past the fighter.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Oct 07, 2014 3:53 pm

Today's update is another short one as I'm stuck away from my computer again, but I wanted to talk about 'save ends' powers (or rather 'sustain free' powers... I'm going to call them save ends for the time being so that people who haven't read about my changes to saving throws will no what I'm talking about) and my design decision regarding them.

Originally, I had intended them to only run off of daily resources (i.e. heroic surges), but as I moved the design forward I've come to realize that most save ends effects are so weak relative to taking an entire extra standard action that they have to paid for with focus. They basically last an extra half-round on average, but don't cost any action to keep in effect (as opposed to keeping the effect on a target by repeating an attack).

Taking those two factors into account I decided that any condition can be made 'save ends' by spending twice the normal focus cost. Given the focus burn limits in place that means 'save ends' won't become a regular phenomina until paragon tier (and even then you have to balance the effectiveness with the more potent effects that cost 2 focus to use).

However, one of the ways around those limits is going to be by spending a surge. If you spend a surge to boost a power (instead of taking an extra action) any focus you spent on the power is doubled (so if you spent two and burned a surge you'd get the effect of four). As stunning/dominating/petrifying a single target will be a three point effect, that means the ONLY way to get a stun before epic tier is to spend a surge and only in epic tier can you spend a surge to make it save ends.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:56 am

Another quick update. I've been stuck down at the hospital for most of the past week due due to a family medical situation so online access has been pretty limited. I've got a load of hand-written notes down and, when I've been around a computer with an actual keyboard, been working on getting them transferred into something presentable here.

Here's a little taste from the fighter (albeit in a more outline form)... Note that all stances modify 'basic' attacks and that you can always, regardless of stance (or even with no stance active at all) spend focus to deal 1W extra damage per focus spent.

COMBAT STANCES (AT-WILL EFFECT / FOCUS EFFECTS)
You start with two combat stances and gain an extra stance at levels 4 and 9. You can spend 1 focus per action at levels 1-5, 2 per action at levels 6-10, and 3 per action at levels 11-15. Spending double the normal cost for a focus effect makes its effect 'save ends'.
Accurate Offense: +1 to attack rolls / +2 to attack roll/focus spent after roll made.
Aggressive Offense: +2/3/4 to damage rolls / +5 damage/focus on hit (Ongoing if doubled).
Arcing Cleave: Deal STR damage to an adjacent target / Deal STR damage to additional target/focus spent.
Hindering Harrier: Slowed on hit / Immobilized (1 focus) or Restrained (3 focus).
Impassible Fortress: Checked from opposite square (ENT) / Slide ½ STR per focus spent.
Iron Tide: Push 1 then shift adjacent / Push STR (1), Prone (1) or Both (2).
Mobile Harrier: Shift 1 or Move STR after hit / One adjacent creature flat-footed (ENT)/focus spent.
Raging Fury: -2 to attack rolls; +4/6/8 to damage rolls / +5 damage/focus on hit or miss (Ongoing if doubled).
Reaping Assault: Deal STR damage on miss / Re-roll missed attack on different (1) or same (2) target.
Shifting Skirmisher: Shift 1 then Pull 1 / Shift STR (1), Pull additional target/focus spent.
Staggering Assault: Targets Fortitude / Dazed (1) or Stunned (3).
Tireless Assault: Gain STR THP on hit / Regain STR hp/focus spent instead.

WEAPON SPECIALIZATION (BASIC / INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED grants CRITICAL 19-20)
Note that you must have the basic tier benefit to select an intermediate benefit and the intermediate tier must be taken to unlock the advanced tier). Selections are made at levels 2, 7, 12 and 14. I suspect the most common option will be to take two intermediate specializations.
Axe: +5 damage vs. prone / targets Fort
Bludgeon: +1 square to push or slide / shaken on hit
Bow: +1/2/3 damage vs. isolated / Ignore partial cover/concealment
Flail: knock prone instead of forced movement / Slide 1 on hit.
Heavy Blade: flat-footed on miss / use stance effects with Reactive Strike
Light Blade: +1/2/3 damage vs. flat-footed / targets Reflex
Polearm: enemies who charge you take Reactive Strike when they enter an adjacent square / knock prone on hit.
Sling: Ranged attacks do not provoke Reactive Strikes / no penalties for long range
Spear: +1/2/3 damage with charge attack / targets Reflex
Staff: +1 reach with weapon attacks / knock prone on hit.

And here's how the fighter's guardian role benefits are looking at the moment.

Defensive Style (pick one):
  -Weapon and Shield: You do not suffer check penalties for shields and, while wielding a shield, can push the target an extra square when in the Iron Tide stance.
  -Two-Weapon Style: While wielding a weapon in your off-hand you gain a +1 shield bonus to AC and Reflex and deal 1/2/3 extra damage to additional targets while in the Arcing Cleave stance.
  -Polearm Defense: While you are wielding a polearm, staff or spear you gain a +1 shield bonus to AC and Reflex and deal 1/2/3 extra damage when you miss with an attack or hit with a re-rolled attack while in the Reaping Assault stance.

Guardian Aura: Enemies that are adjacent to you are taunted. Enemies taunted by you are subject to a Reactive Strike if they shift or use an attack power that does not include you as a target (including making Reactive Strikes of their own).

Guardian Taunt: Minor Action / Melee 3 / one target (1 focus for melee burst 3) / target is taunted (ENT) or pulled 2. If you are wielding a ranged weapon and the target is within the weapon's range, you can use your Reactive Strike on the target as if it were within your guardian aura.

Damage Bonus (Level 3, 8, 13): You gain a +1 bonus to the damage rolls of weapon attacks and a +2 bonus to the damage dealt by Reactive Strike. These increases to +2/+4 at level 8 and to +3/+6 at level 13.

Deft Defense (Level 5): Reaction (you or adjacent ally takes damage) / 1 focus / target gains Resistance to the attack.

Improved Taunt (Level 10): Enemies taunted by you now suffer a –4 penalty to attacks that do not include you as a target (instead of -2).

Swift Recovery (Level 15): At the start of each of your turns you can make a recovery check against any one condition you are subject to. If successful, the condition’s effects ends immediately (if you were stunned you could take a full turn for example).

-------------

So that's a little taste on how the development is going.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:19 pm

I'm sorry about your family's medical situation - I know what that's like, and I hope the person suffering it makes a swift recovery.

On the subject of the fighter preview, again, I like what I'm seeing. The stances themselves are neat, and if I'm reading it right, you get the focus effect in addition to the at-will effect. One question, though: on Shifting Skirmisher's focus effect, when you shift STR squares, do you pull the target adjacent to you the same way you shift to the target in Iron Tide's stance, or is it just one square of pulling?

Your weapon specialization benefits are shaping up nicely as well. I assume they apply to all weapon-wielding classes?
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Honorbound wrote:
The stances themselves are neat, and if I'm reading it right, you get the focus effect in addition to the at-will effect.
That is correct. Each stance gives you certain focus effects you can use (in addition to the basic +1W damage/focus boost that is universal). One of the reasons I came up with Weapon Specialization was precisely because, unlike the arcane classes, which got their focus selections separately from their at-will attacks, the focus effects were built into the stances.

Quote :
One question, though: on Shifting Skirmisher's focus effect, when you shift STR squares, do you pull the target adjacent to you the same way you shift to the target in Iron Tide's stance, or is it just one square of pulling?
D'oh... one of the issues of cutting at pasting from my notes instead of a finished form is that a lot of notations are left out because all I needed was the cue (shift and pull) and not the precise wording (which comes later). The intention is that you pull the target so that it remains adjacent to you, but its also worth noting that the stance is actually two-fold in that the shift and the pull (including pulling additional targets) are separately optional. By which I mean, you could shift but not pull, you could pull but not shift (useful with a reach weapon), or you could shift and then pull. Thus, if you burned focus just to shift, you could easily use it as an escape power (especially in paragon/epic tier where 2-3 focus would let you shift 2-3 times your STR).

Essentially, every stance offers a variety of effects based on the amount of focus you spend on it. It could be as simple as adding 3W damage to the attack, or it could be deal 1W extra damage, shift your STR and pull two adjacent targets along with you.

Quote :
Your weapon specialization benefits are shaping up nicely as well. I assume they apply to all weapon-wielding classes?
Currently they're going to be applying to all the martial classes, but are mostly going to be exclusive to them. The arcane and divine weapon wielders (spellblade and paladin) will be getting other benefits based off school/deity that will shape their fighting styles.

If you want a weapon specialist paladin, that would actually be closer to a Fighter with the Religious background. They'll get divine utility choices and benefits while remaining primarily martial in character. By contrast, my version of the Paladin is going to be wreathing his weapon in the wrath of his god and smiting them with holy power with the nuances to his powers coming less from weapon and more from the nature of the being they worship.

You'll also note that I left out the primal classes... that's because currently there is no primal weapon wielding class per se. The shifter is the primal melee (guardian and slayer) class and its currently built around manifesting natural and elemental weapons (and other aspects) as part of its whole schtick.

That said, Weapon Specialization is definitely something that would be a part of any hybrid martial class (though they'd likely only get two selections instead of four) and I'm debating how much of it to make accessible through feats. Right now I'm thinking only weapon weapon specialization up to intermediate level (basically two choices instead of four) if you're not a martial class since you've already got arcane spells/divine power/primal spirits as part of your arsenal... with four selections if you're a hybrid martial class that takes the feats as well).

Of course this would also allow a martial class to take up to six choices if they took the feats (which means I need to be sure the specialization tiers are level-gated so we don't get intermediate tier benefits while still in the heroic/adventurer tier).
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:42 pm

So, I've got a full build of the Fighter and an all-but complete one for the Rogue and am starting in on the Ranger. I should be posting the Rogue tomorrow, but I thought I'd share a couple of design decisions today since they impact the design.

The first is that I've decided to shift the entire concept of class skills out of the classes and into the backgrounds. As I started defining specific builds and desiring to make them as broad as reasonably possible, it seemed that some of the concepts were running headlong the various class skill lists which, even with 'any one of choice' as part of their design, still had various holes I felt needed to be filled.

But it felt awkward to, for example, add Diplomacy to the 'Knight' build of the Fighter since I could see re-fluffing it into some type of heavy armor guardian that isn't a knight and where Diplomacy really wouldn't fit.

The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that the better place for the skill lists would actually be the backgrounds. A fighter with the Military or Nobility background likely WOULD have Diplomacy and Insight as skill options, while it would make more sense for a Barbarian Fighter (whether a Guardian or Slayer) to instead have Nature and Perception as skill choices.

I LIKE skill lists. They help keep every character from having the same 'must have' skills that a 'anyone can take any skill' tends to result in. But I do think switching the lists to the backgrounds helps the skills fit into concepts a bit more organically and allows greater variety to the classes (since non-combat mechanics are largely moved out of them and into the backgrounds).

By moving the skill proficiencies and skill lists to the backgrounds (and will be keeping the 'one of choice' option regardless) you can have a Fighter with the Religious background who is trained in Athletics (his 'one of choice' skill), Diplomacy, Insight and Religion while a Fighter with the Military background would be able to have Athletics, Heal, History and Intimidate.

-----

The second change is Focus... my first build gave a character Focus equal to their level, while utilities were still tracked as At-Will, Utility, Daily. Then I switched Utilities over to Focus as well and doubled the Focus per level. The more I've been going through the designs though that's feeling like too much focus as there's way too much desire to burn it on attacks over utilities... especially on the early ends of the tiers (You'd have 12 focus by the time you can spend two per action... so there's no reason not to use 10 of it on maxing out your attacks during the average five rounds of combat you'll have per encounter... while the intention at level six is you'd have just enough focus to improve one attack and one utility over what you'd be doing at level five).

So I'm splitting the difference a bit and going back to one focus per level, but with a bonus to that number based on your build's secondary stat (ex. a wizard would have focus equal to their wisdom plus their level while a sorcerer would have focus equal their charisma plus their level). This gives you a small extra reserve of focus to start, while restricting the degree to which a build can 'double up' on its focus each time it enters the next tier.

This also means that I don't have to worry so much about scaling the focus costs of utility powers because there's only a 2-4 point pool over and the base 1/level you'd be using on your attacks that people would even consider spending on utilities outside of an emergency. So the guardian fighter's 'Deft Defense' doesn't need to cost more focus as you level up even though it will be stopping more damage as you level up and face more potent monsters because you're still only going to be able to use it a few times per encounter without compromising your offensive abilities (that said, being able to block half the damage from 2-4+your level attacks at first level could easily be worth giving up boosting your attacks depending on the composition of your party).

But I'm also looking at redesigning a number of utilities, particularly those that do not play a large role in combat, as existing outside the focus system entirely and simply cost time in much the same manner as rituals and martial practices do. Each class is getting at least one at-will minor action combat-focused utility power so, while other combat focused utilities won't be going away, they won't be needed just to maximize your action economy. That means a lot of the utilities can instead be designed for exploration and interaction where focus isn't going to be a decent limiter anyway.

Essentially, I'm looking at the cost for most non-combat utilities being either just time if its the sort of thing that will facilitate but not short-circuit the story (ex. using a linked portal ritual to travel to a town near where the adventure is taking place or to leave a dungeon and return to civilization) with a time based on how effective it is. While a utility that can short-circuit a plot (ex. divinations, gaining flight to bypass a treacherous mountain climb or invisibility to sneak past armed guards) would burn a heroic surge (likely per person in the case of flight or invisibility).
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:04 pm

So, here's a little something for people to chew on... The current builds for the Barbarian and Courtier Backgrounds and for the Fighter and Rogue classes (since you need both, plus a race, to make a character).

Note that this NOT the final presentation for these. It's missing all the fluff-text and isn't actually using any sort of organized structure for the powers and such. Its more a very detailed chunk of notes that will be expanded out as I finalize various developments (I'm more concerned about laying out the core of the rest of the classes before I come back and clean-up the presentation on these).

Think of it as a partial snap-shot of the design in progress.

Here's the Link.

There's still a few things in flux, particularly some 'epic' tier benefits for levels 12-15 that are class independent (which may not even be needed as I've been rounding out the classes) and, obviously, Feats. But the gist how the two interact to create a character concept are there.

For consideration, compare a barbarian guardian fighter, a barbarian slayer fighter, a barbarian striker rogue, a barbarian enabler rogue and then the courtier versions of the same. I feel that's a pretty broad range of options out of just two backgrounds and two classes and I think the number of combinations once there's twelve of each (plus twelve races) all interacting will be quite sufficient to cover just about any base someone might reasonably come up with (I draw the line at 'zombie midget stripper' which was what a friend hit me with when I asked him to come up with edge case character concepts... there's a reason I'm posting here for feedback).

Comments are most certainly welcome (indeed, the whole point of this is to get some feedback).
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sat Oct 25, 2014 2:25 am

I'm sorry that I haven't responded sooner. Life has been busy, and I've been a lazy bum.

Both preview backgrounds look interesting so far – most of the benefits revolve around skills, with a few thematic out-of-combat powers or features thrown in (the courtier more so than the barbarian). I assume that each background will have Skill Expert as its level 2 feature?

Conceptually, it looks like the Barbarian combines the Tuathan theme with some of the Protector Druid's cantrips and some of the Essentials Hunter, Scout, and Sentinel's Wilderness Knacks, at least on a conceptual level. The idea of the shapeshifting power giving you a natural weapon is something that the 4e druid's wildshape should have done. I'm glad you said that you were going with that route with the Shifter. I don't see anything broken with this background.

The Courtier looks fine as well. I particularly like the skill reroll powers. Again, this looks like a solid background.

The Fighter looks solid for the most part. I noticed that you renamed leather and hide armor padded and partial armor, respectively – it works for me, allowing me to picture the armor better. Also, I like how you shifted the Fighter's class defense bonus to Will, since it will always have a high Fortitude.

I have a couple of criticisms, though: first, the Berserker's AC is going to be horrible, since it doesn't have a secondary stat going towards AC when in light armor. I don't know if the temporary hit points are supposed to make up for it, but the imposed conditions resulting from the increased hits are going to ruin the Berserker's day.

Second, both the Defender and the Berserker have both their primary and secondary stats going towards Fortitude, leaving them with two iffy defenses as opposed to just one. It's not as bad as a 4e Fighter thanks to the previously mentioned Will bonus, but it's still going to hurt. I recommend allowing Defenders and Berserkers to use their Constitution for either their Reflex or their Will defense. Perhaps you could change the class bonus to +1 Reflex/+1 Will to account for that flexibility, so that the Fighter's Will doesn't outpace its Fortitude.

Finally, I'm noticing an absence of a great weapon feature listed in the Guardian benefits section. I also notice that the Polearm Defense feature specifically lists polearms, staffs, and spears, while the Shield Expert, Sniper's Watch, and Two-Weapon Style features are less specific, just needing a shield, ranged weapon, and off-hand weapon respectively. I think these two problems could be solved at once by turning Polearm Defense into Two-Handed Defense and having it apply to any two-handed weapon. This allows both hafted weapons and big weapons like greatswords to have a place at the Fighter's table.

Onto the Rogue. First, I want to say that I really like how you used different features to dramatically change how the rogue's enabler and strikers look. Changing which of Strength and Dexterity applied to the attack (and changing the requisite armor proficiency to match) is a stroke of genius. The skald makes a lot of sense as a Dexterity-based character, since a lot of fictional bards are rather graceful. They also get to keep the classical bard's high Charisma, which is always nice. My only slight critique is that the Brigand, Marshal, and Sidekick all have one more focus than the Thief and Skald (and all Fighter builds) thanks to them relying on their primary stat for their focus pool. You could make the Marshal and Brigand's focus pools Charisma-based to correct for this. I'd let the Sidekick could keep that extra focus since it's a lazy build.

Just one question: I know that team player can be used to apply rogue tricks to allies, but can the same be done with the combat stances?

In summary, I really like what I see, but it could use a few tweaks to smooth things over. I look forward to the rest of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:10 pm

Honorbound wrote:
I'm sorry that I haven't responded sooner. Life has been busy, and I've been a lazy bum.
I've been super-busy this week myself. My dad is out of hospital and into physical therapy rehab (yay!) and I had a huge work-related order that I had to hammer through.

Quote :
Both preview backgrounds look interesting so far – most of the benefits revolve around skills, with a few thematic out-of-combat powers or features thrown in (the courtier more so than the barbarian). I assume that each background will have Skill Expert as its level 2 feature?
When I started looking at non-combat utility powers, the lion's share of them were skill related so that did carry forward into designing the background utilities. I haven't definitively decided that Skill Expert is the only level 2 feature, but its a good default. The plan right now is that each background will have a skill list of half the available skills and a choice of three trained from that list and then one trained from any of the skills.

Regarding skills, with Aberrations being merged into demons as Outsiders there wasn't a need for a specific need for an Aberration knowledge skill... so I replaced Dungeoneering with Engineering and then split the benefits of Thievery between Stealth (pick pockets and general sleight of hand) and Engineering (pick locks and disable devices) for a skill list of STR (Athletics), CON (Endurance), DEX (Acrobatics, Stealth), INT (Arcana, Engineering, History, Religion), WIS (Heal, Insight, Nature, Perception) and CHA (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Streetwise). Strength also determines your encumbrance, while Constitution determines your number of Heroic Surges and Dexterity determines your initiative bonus, which is why they have fewer skills attached to each.

Quote :
Conceptually, it looks like the Barbarian combines the Tuathan theme with some of the Protector Druid's cantrips and some of the Essentials Hunter, Scout, and Sentinel's Wilderness Knacks, at least on a conceptual level. The idea of the shapeshifting power giving you a natural weapon is something that the 4e druid's wildshape should have done. I'm glad you said that you were going with that route with the Shifter. I don't see anything broken with this background.
The conceptual idea for the Barbarian was that it needed to provide a number of traditional martial archetype elements that your traditional barbarian hero like Conan (who would probably be a Brigand or Marshal build of the Rogue depending on how much of a leader you consider him to be) would have and to provide be the main portal for Primal-themed utility powers (in the same way the Religious background will provide access to Divine-themed utility powers).

Quote :
The Courtier looks fine as well. I particularly like the skill reroll powers. Again, this looks like a solid background.
The Courtier was an interesting build, largely because social interaction was so based on skills that improvements to skills was one of the only ways to buff the key aspects of the background (and this is probably one of the reasons the background utilities currently feel so skill focused).

Quote :
The Fighter looks solid for the most part. I noticed that you renamed leather and hide armor padded and partial armor, respectively – it works for me, allowing me to picture the armor better. Also, I like how you shifted the Fighter's class defense bonus to Will, since it will always have a high Fortitude.
Yeah... in looking at armor I felt a need to veer a bit in the direction of the real world. Whether made of quilted layers or soft leather, padded was the proper generic term for what amounts to thick jackets and similar items. Partial armor is essentially any type of armor where metal chain or plates covers about 50% of the body. This might be a chain shirt, brigandine or steel breastplate (i.e. armor which covers the torso and possibly the head while leaving the limbs exposed) on the conventional side or a gladiator's harness (where they often had helmets and plates on their arms/shoulders while leaving their chests exposed) on the more exotic side.

I retained the names of the heavy armors because once you strip away the fancy names, most heavy armors boil down to some variation on chain (mail is just Old French for 'mesh'... just like Brigandine if translated to modern English just means 'soldier's armor'), scale (which was indeed, generally superior to chain armor) or plate (whether in strips like lorica segmenta or whole like classic late-medieval plate armor).

As to Will, fighters are supposed to be the epitome of the 'strong hero', renowned for their fearlessness, so giving the Will defense to actually back that up makes sense. Your observation that because Strength is a primary they will always have a good Fortitude is spot on. Likewise, Dex being a decent secondary or tertiary ability and/or proficiency with shields (the Defender gets a de facto +2 bonus to Reflex from their shield in addition to the +2 class bonus to Will defense) means the Reflex save will at least be fair (a Skirmisher's higher DEX is why I'm okay with them only getting a +1 shield bonus to AC and Reflex from wielding two weapons compared to the +2 from a large shield for the defender).

The gap in a fighter's defenses has always been Will when in fiction, their strong will is one of their defining traits and so something I wanted to fix. By contrast, arcane casters in legends and in fiction are often seen to be fairly resilient to things like poison and disease (one of the common claims for witchcraft was that certain individuals did NOT get sick when the plague came through), but then losing themselves to their magics or other outside forces (Dragon Age for example made a point that mages were more easily possessed by spirits because they were already letting power from the spirit realms flow through themselves). As such I'm leaning towards Mages getting a +2 bonus to their Fortitude (INT will take care of their AC/Reflex and their secondary is either WIS or CHA so they'll have decent Will defenses).

Quote :
I have a couple of criticisms, though: first, the Berserker's AC is going to be horrible, since it doesn't have a secondary stat going towards AC when in light armor. I don't know if the temporary hit points are supposed to make up for it, but the imposed conditions resulting from the increased hits are going to ruin the Berserker's day.
Criticisms are welcome and encouraged (indeed, extra sets of eyes are why I'm posting this stuff). The temp hit points were indeed supposed to make up for the lower AC, but I can see why the hit rate would be a problem due to secondary effects.

One of the things I had considered was to swap the DEX and CON riders so that the Striker would add Con to damage (and have heavy armor) while the Berserker would add DEX to damage (with partial armor). I had rejected that mainly because I wanted to have an option for a heavily armored striker-style archer which the Dex-based Striker would allow and because, in terms of raw hit point damage mitigation, temp hit points would have covered the difference as long as they scaled properly.

You are correct though that getting hit more often will lead to more conditions affecting the Berserker. I'd like to find a way to mitigate that without just swapping out Dex for Con though since the entire point of the Berserker is to just force your way through the pain so to speak and improving the AC (and poorer Reflex) outright would mean I'd have to drop the temp hit point mechanic which make the build pretty boring (to the point of not being worth distinguishing from the Striker in the first place).

What I need to look at first is just how far behind the Striker it is in terms of being hit (the THP, properly tuned will mitigate the damage portion of the issue). First, with a CON secondary, the Berserker will have, on average, 2 more heroic surges per day than the Striker. That's two extra heals or extra actions or regain focus effects per day. Significant, but probably not quite at the 'get hit about a 15% more often' level even with the temp hit points.

What I'm thinking though is that perhaps we could offset this by giving a Berserker early access to 'Swift Recovery' (make recovery check against any one condition at the start of your turn) with the level 15 benefit for them being you can use it against two conditions at the start of your turn. The starting version might need to come at a penalty (maybe they need to beat a 15+ instead of a 10+) to balance it out though (i.e. you get hit 15% more often, but have a 30% chance to throw off a condition before it actually affects you).

A mechanic like that would keep the thematic elements of the Berserker intact, while still keeping conditions from affecting it so readily. It's slightly more complex, but not ALL complexity is bad. Just complexity that doesn't serve any purpose. In this case, soaking hits with temp hit points and making a check at the start of your turn to let your rage overcome an effect on you I think is worth that increase.

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Second, both the Defender and the Berserker have both their primary and secondary stats going towards Fortitude, leaving them with two iffy defenses as opposed to just one. It's not as bad as a 4e Fighter thanks to the previously mentioned Will bonus, but it's still going to hurt. I recommend allowing Defenders and Berserkers to use their Constitution for either their Reflex or their Will defense. Perhaps you could change the class bonus to +1 Reflex/+1 Will to account for that flexibility, so that the Fighter's Will doesn't outpace its Fortitude.

I'm shooting for the average of a given character's NAD's to be about 13 before adding your level. Barring something really unusual a Fighter's Fortitude should be about 14 (and occasionally a 15 if human or putting a +4 into STR before racial adjustments). Then there's a trade-off between Reflex and Will. Will starts with a +2 bonus before ability scores are added, while the Defender gets either a +2 bonus to Reflex from a heavy shield or a +1 bonus from off-hand or polearm style before adding in ability scores.

The two most common stat arrays are likely be +3, +2, +2, +1, +0, -1 (for stronger defenses at the expense of riders) and +3, +3, +1, +0, +0, -1 (for better riders). The worst case scenario of those for a Defender build would be going for riders and only having +1 to add to Reflex or Will and +0 to add to the other and then going with two-weapon or polearm style so they only get a +1 to Reflex. That would put your average defenses at 12.66 or just a third of point worse than what I'm shooting for. If you took that same worst-case but used a heavy shield you'd be totally average on defenses (14/13/12 or 14/12/13 depending on where you put your +1 ability).

The opposite extreme though is a human who took the stronger defenses ability score array. Best case for them would be a Fort of 15 (+4 Str, +1 race), a Reflex of 15 (+2 Dex, +2 shield, +1 race) and a Will of 14 (+1 Wis, +2 class, +1 race). That's only about a 10% improvement against any single attack over the focused STR/CON build, but it cost them at least one heroic surge and focus to get it (maximum Con or Dex would be +2 with that build).

The only modification I could see doing here would be improving the defense buff for off-hand and polearm styles, but they get improved damage over the shield style so trading some defense for extra offense is part of the choice in the first place.

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Finally, I'm noticing an absence of a great weapon feature listed in the Guardian benefits section. I also notice that the Polearm Defense feature specifically lists polearms, staffs, and spears, while the Shield Expert, Sniper's Watch, and Two-Weapon Style features are less specific, just needing a shield, ranged weapon, and off-hand weapon respectively. I think these two problems could be solved at once by turning Polearm Defense into Two-Handed Defense and having it apply to any two-handed weapon. This allows both hafted weapons and big weapons like greatswords to have a place at the Fighter's table.
I didn't put in a general great weapon option for the Guardian role because the few that aren't polearms aren't all that good as defensive weapons. A spear or polearm can hold people at a distance and parry attacks with the haft. Two-weapons are generally light and easy to maneuver, allowing one to strike and parry at the same time. Ranged weapons are covering fire, pinning an enemy down.

All of the above also do less damage than the types of martial great weapons that aren't polearms do (d12 for a greataxe and 2d6 for a greatsword). The improved damage is a bit of its own reward, especially when the difference in dice size can be multiplied with each focus spent (my math is based around each point of focus adding about 5 points of damage on average... 4.5 for a d8 or 5.5 for d10 are within half a point of this range... 6.5 to 7 are well above... which is okay for Slayers, who are expected to deal more damage, but I'm trying to avoid it for the non-slayer roles).

The general intent was that the great-weapons would fall most naturally under the Striker or Berserker builds, but if I were to make a guardian style for such weapons, I'd want it to be independent of the polearm style. The fighting styles aren't similiar and I'd want to focus on the total sacrifice of defense for offense as part of the style (let it have the stance bonus for reaping assault and give polearms a bonus when in impassible fortress stance).

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Onto the Rogue. First, I want to say that I really like how you used different features to dramatically change how the rogue's enabler and strikers look. Changing which of Strength and Dexterity applied to the attack (and changing the requisite armor proficiency to match) is a stroke of genius. The skald makes a lot of sense as a Dexterity-based character, since a lot of fictional bards are rather graceful. They also get to keep the classical bard's high Charisma, which is always nice. My only slight critique is that the Brigand, Marshal, and Sidekick all have one more focus than the Thief and Skald (and all Fighter builds) thanks to them relying on their primary stat for their focus pool. You could make the Marshal and Brigand's focus pools Charisma-based to correct for this. I'd let the Sidekick could keep that extra focus since it's a lazy build.

That is certainly a possibility, though by going STR/CHA instead of STR/DEX they will lose a bit of AC and Reflex, which is why I gave the STR builds only chain proficiency (+6 to AC) while a +4 Dex and partial armor (or the scale armor of the Striker fighter) will net you +7 to AC. They will also find certain movement powers less effective (ones that let you shift/move your DEX).

That said, it is a valid point (the loss of defenses/movement might not be worth the extra focus) and definitely something I'll explore. If I do so, I'll want to switch most of the tricks that are based on Dex over to Charisma so that it will work equally well regardless of build and make it the most painless V-class every (STR or DEX primary/CHA secondary). Honestly, a V-class in this particular case doesn't bother me overmuch since Dex was over-represented compared to Strength with the martial classes and that would put them at basically 50/50 (each power source has its own key-stat, but Martial was split between Strength and Dexterity).

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Just one question: I know that team player can be used to apply rogue tricks to allies, but can the same be done with the combat stances?
Rogue powers do include the stances yes... so if you hit while in the Emboldened Assault stance you grant CHA temporary hit points to one or more of your allies in range (or to yourself... though as you level up, granting a benefit to yourself becomes less efficient than granting it to two, three or even four allies) or allow them to regain HP equal to your CHA per focus spent when you hit.

I'll probably have to clarify it, but the intention is that the bonuses apply either to you OR to one or more allies, but not both at the same time. For the more static stances (ex. +1 to attack rolls) I'll need to apply a duration (likely SNT... start of your next turn) so that, when you make an attack while in that stance you can choose to use the +1 to attack rolls for yourself, or grant the effect to one or more of your allies until the start of your next turn.

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In summary, I really like what I see, but it could use a few tweaks to smooth things over. I look forward to the rest of it.
If what I presented was totally smooth production quality out of the gate, I'd be utterly stunned. Peer review and analysis is why I'm posting here. I'm currently finishing out the Ranger and I'd like to do the Mage and a couple more backgrounds for my next round. As I've been establishing my requirements for backgrounds (about 24 utility choices) I'm realizing that some of my initial choices may not be all that tenable on their own.

For example, Commoner and Craftsman may have to be merged to get enough utilities between them (there's only so many utilities you can relate directly to being a craftsman), but I think I can make Merchant and probably Sailor work on their own (the former has a LOT of social/travel options I can exploit and there is a lot of sailor mysticism a la Pirates of the Caribbean that I can put into the latter), but might need to be combined if there's not enough there as I think there is.

The rest... Military (so many tactics to choose from), Monastic (think D&D monk), Outlaw, Nobility (including a lot of traditional Knight options), Religious (which would have divine utilities in the same way the Barbarian had primal utilities) and Scholar (which will include a lot of the arcane utility options) should have more than enough options to work all on their own though.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:10 pm

I'm glad your dad is doing better - physical therapy might be a pain, but it's better than the alternative.

In regards to the Str/Con fighters' defenses, I goofed: I was just looking at the modifier instead of accounting for the fighter's will bonus and class features. Your solution to the berserker's condition vulnerability works for me, especially if you apply an increased DC for the lower-level version.

The bit about the great weapon and polearm styles being totally different is something that I hadn't considered. Looking back at the document, I like your idea of giving the great weapon style the Reaping Assault stance benefit and giving Polearm Defense something related to Impassable Fortress. I'd still let the polearm style keep its +1 to AC/Reflex, simply to reflect its defensive capabilities.

Finally, thanks for the clarification on team player and the backgrounds. I look forward to the ranger and mage.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:19 am

The mage is going to be, more or less, a variation on the Hedge Mage concept from my Essentials Options... minor magic is going to be their minor action control feature. As I've been developing my notions for making arcane magic its own distinct thing from divine and primal magic I've been leaning more and more towards the notion of 'any sufficiently studied magic is indistinguishable from technology' and its more famous inverse.

I'm currently envisioning arcane magic as the equivalent of computer/machine code for accessing magical power that suffuses the world/universe. Magic items are devices that have certain 'programs' hardwired into them while spellcasters are rather like reality hackers who tap into the underlying 'code' and then apply their abilities towards changing it to match their desires (to the limit of their skill).

I'm also leaning towards the idea of arcane magic NEEDING some type of connection point to be able to access arcane power and that one of the biggest secrets of arcane magic passed from a wizard to their apprentice is how to create that connection (sorcerers, by contrast, already have that connection innately through their blood). Its that particular secret (indeed, Arcane means 'understood by few' or 'secret') that sets the Arcane classes apart from those who derive power from pacts with supernatural forces (divine magic where the pact allows access to certain powers and abilities based upon the pact made), friendship with primal spirits (primal power which is mostly about calling for aid and your spirit friends answering that call) or raw martial prowess.

As to the ranger, I think you'll find it interesting. One of the things I'm using to differentiate the controllers a bit is how they 'pay for' AoE's. Because the base damage dice for implement attacks is going to built into the implements themselves I need some other means to adjust the damage done with AoE's (I find increasing/decreasing die sizes to be a bit clunky for my tastes). For the Ranger they're going to pay for it by spending a minor action to ready a 'fistful of arrows' allowing them to pepper multiple targets with their stances' control effects. Another minor action control will be setting 'traps' which will then trigger control effects when an enemy leaves the targeted square (making it a 'stay still or suffer' control effect). As an at-will effect these traps are only good for about a turn, but by spending focus you can have them last until the end of the encounter so you can set them up as part of an ambush or to quickly booby trap an exit your party is fleeing through to discourage pursuit. The traps are a big part of why I feel pretty safe calling the controller build 'the hunter' even though Essentials did as well. Someone who uses ranged weapons and traps to bring down prey is self-evidently a hunter.

For the mage, their AoE is going to be based on the 'enlarge spell' feat with damage penalties based on the size/effectiveness of the burst. I'm currently using a -2/-4/-6 damage penalty per die for a Ranged Burst 1/2/3 and then a -4/-8/-12 penalty per die for an Enemies Only Ranged Burst 1/2/3 (which wipes out the Int bonus to damage for a friendly burst 1 and gets worse from there). In this case, the damage result CAN be zero (although the control effects would still occur).

In addition, I'm thinking that if the damage result is too low (I'm thinking a damage result of -5 or less) then the entire spell could fail (meaning no damage and no control, just a wasted action) so that it discourages using the larger bursts until you've reached a level where you can be certain of offsetting the damage penalty.

The penalties above are subject to change based on performance results. The Burst 1 numbers are likely to remain unchanged, but the cost of the larger bursts is likely to be tweaked... possibly differently based on controller vs. striker since controllers don't need as much raw damage to do their job... so a -12 penalty for an effect that severely blinds every enemy in a burst 3 probably isn't enough, while a -12/die penalty to a high level sorcerer just trying to deal damage to multiple targets is probably too severe.
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