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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 Aug 11, 2014 8:14 pm

I'm totally okay with Charisma-oriented divine classes and Intelligence-based sorcerers and warlocks. It provides unity for the power sources, giving each one a theme.

If you're looking to have some classes have Dex+Int or Cha+Wis, then you could have the lower stat apply to a different defense as determined by some build feature, like a Priest would have "Awareness of Surroundings" that lets it use Wisdom for Reflex, for example.

As for Constitution, I had thought that you were doing away with daily powers altogether and were just having Heroic Surges power action points, healing, and other stuff. Personally, I feel that with your setup, Constitution would be a "tax stat." If I were doing it, I would make hit points and heroic surges completely independent of Constitution, since hit points aren't meat points like you would see in Order of the Stick. Constitution could then open itself up as a secondary or even primary stat.

That, combined with my ability score substitution idea above, could lead to the berserker having Str/Con, the Slayer Theurge being a Cha/Con blaster, and the guardian-role spellblade being split into a tough, defensive Int/Con abjuration specialist and a brutally violent Int/Str-based evocation-specialist that functions like the Eladrin Knight or the Assault Swordmage.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:41 pm

To me Divine doesn't mean one stat hell Charisma is perfect for Evangelical priests
Nor would i want Locks to be int based - ick what a flavor drain


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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:16 am

Chris24601 wrote:
Another one that's unfortunately all but required is to not include flavor-text in the power layout.

Here's a few examples of my current layouts;

Melee Basic Attack (MBA)
Use/Keywords:
Standard / Basic Attack, Weapon
Target/Range: One creature / Melee weapon
Attack/Hit: STR vs. AC / 1(W) + STR damage.

Reactive Strike
Use/Keywords:
Reaction / Basic Attack, Weapon
Trigger: An adjacent target makes a ranged attack or leaves a square without shifting.
Target/Range: Triggering creature / Melee weapon
Effect: The target takes 3 + STR + ½ level damage.
Special: If you use an ability other than STR for MBA’s, use it in place of Strength.

Second Wind
Use/Keywords:
Move or Standard (1/encounter) + 1 Surge / Healing, Utility
Effect: You spend a heroic surge to regain hit points. If you spend a standard action, you also gain +2 to your defenses (ENT).

Grant Recovery
Use/Keywords: Minor + 1/2/3 Focus / Healing, Utility
Target/Range: You or one creature / Melee 5
Effect: The target can spend a heroic surge to regain hit points. If it has no surges remaining and is dying, it instead is restored to 1 hp. For each additional focus spent the range increases by 5 and the hit points regained increases by 10.
Can you elaborate why? I am picturing a column to the right or left of the mechanics. I have written some definitely distinct flavor for many of the main fighter moves..

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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:51 am

Honorbound wrote:
If you're looking to have some classes have Dex+Int or Cha+Wis, then you could have the lower stat apply to a different defense as determined by some build feature, like a Priest would have "Awareness of Surroundings" that lets it use Wisdom for Reflex, for example.
You're right, that is a good solution and its one we've already seen in practice to a certain extent with some of the light armor primal classes that do not have Dex as a primary or secondary ability... use X in place of Dex when determining AC. The only thing to watch out for would be making sure the benefit only applies to the builds where the same defense factor is in play.

Honorbound wrote:
As for Constitution, I had thought that you were doing away with daily powers altogether and were just having Heroic Surges power action points, healing, and other stuff. Personally, I feel that with your setup, Constitution would be a "tax stat." If I were doing it, I would make hit points and heroic surges completely independent of Constitution, since hit points aren't meat points like you would see in Order of the Stick. Constitution could then open itself up as a secondary or even primary stat.

Okay, first off... Thank You. While a lot of this sounds like I'm objecting to your comment, the attempt to do so sparked a chain of thoughts that catalyzed into both a better sense of some of 4E's design decisions regarding ability scores (including where it was a design failure) and got me to a very simple solution that I think solves this specific problem. So here's the rambly bits...

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

Daily powers ARE pretty much gone, but there are some bits in the system may as well be dailies. Using them for Action Points for example. Even limited to once per encounter, they're something someone with a larger pool of surges can afford to do more often than someone with fewer surges (every fight instead of every other fight). One of the specific 'other benefits' I had in mind was the ability to burn a surge to regain enough focus to use another single at-tier power. Even if you made it part of the 'action point' limit (1 extra action or regain X focus once per encounter) its something that has to be balanced around.

Its not precisely 'more daily powers', but the fact that you're able to use more daily resources per fight amounts to the same thing.

Side-bar: There are also a few powers that do specifically burn surges but aren't a part of my potential balance issue at all. Burning a heroic surge for a power that grants you encounter-long regeneration while bloodied is an example of something where its really just spacing the healing you'd normally get out over the length of a fight in a manner that may or may not be more efficient than simply burning a surge with a healing word or second wind (during a long fight you might regain well over a surge worth of hit points or if you're down to nearly zero hit points, burning a surge in that way would get up to just above your bloodied value for the cost of just one surge).

Incidentally, your suggestion for a fix is rather amusing since I already had decoupled hit points from Constitution (24/30/36 + 8/10/12 per level thereafter), but I kept surges attached because without something like surges related to it I fear Constitution would easily become a dump stat, just like Strength almost always is for any class where Strength isn't a key ability.

That's because other than applying to one skill (Athletics) the only other thing Strength is good for is carrying capacity, but by mid-heroic bags of holding and similar items start making carrying capacity for anything other than your weapons and armor irrelevant and as you level up things like gloves of climbing, flight and other effects render the Athletics skill largely irrelevant as well. Thus, its an EASY choice to dump it down to an 8 (because an 80 lb. load limit is more than enough for plate armor, a heavy shield and any melee and ranged weapon you can think of)... because after the first few levels it doesn't do anything useful on its own.

Looking at the skill list as a whole I think I see the pattern that the 4E designers were going for. The physical abilities applied to only a handful of skills while the mental abilities applied to a large number of skills. But to make up for the lack of skills they applied to the physical abilities got some other benefit... carry capacity, melee basic attacks, hp/surges, initiative and ranged basic attacks. The problem with Strength was the designers made those benefits too easy to gain by other means.

And I think that's the boat Constitution would be in if you decoupled it completely from your ability to soak up damage. Without that it only applies to the Endurance skill and possibly your Fort defense if its higher than your Strength (and if it doesn't give you anything else, why would you choose Con over a stat that at least lets you carry more stuff occasionally?).

So I can justify decoupling Constitution from Hit Points since those represent skill and luck in varying degrees as much as physical toughness, but I definitely think Constitution should play a role in your surges since those represent your deep reserves and ability to keep going when others would falter. If Constitution doesn't apply to that element of your character, why should Con even be a stat at all? This isn't an idle question... I've seen more than a few systems that combine Strength and Constitution into a single stat with Athletics and Endurance skills keying off the combined ability to reflect the difference between a strong and tough character.

So if we have to have Constitution as a stat (and I think we do) then it's gotta affect your deep endurance reserves in some way, but at the same time we can't let it disproportionately affect the outcome of the encounters... and THAT is where it all came together for me... the answer is something that has been staring me in the face because I already used a similar solution for Focus; Burn Limits.

I set a limit on how much Focus could be burned per action so that you couldn't burn it all in a single action or even a single action type during the course of an encounter. So why not apply the same concept to Heroic Surges on a per encounter basis?

Set a limit on how many surges can be burned during an encounter for anything other than healing/death saves and set that limit low enough that characters with average Constitutions can just barely cover that limit and the amount of healing they're expected to need every encounter. Characters with high Constitutions then get an advantage in that they can go for more encounters in a day (as well as take more of beating and keep going) without letting them burn more than the expected amount of surges during any given fight than someone of more average constitution.

Bang! Constitution is important without affecting 'daily' limits on the encounter-level math (which is where my 'can't use them for a secondary' issue came from) and thus is now free to be used as key ability for classes again.

The other thing this chain of thoughts has led me to is the concept that I need to revisit carrying capacity (a more graduated encumbrance system perhaps) and the role of Strength in general to ensure that, apart from Athletics checks it isn't the dump-stat that if often is in 4E.

Honorbound wrote:
That, combined with my ability score substitution idea above, could lead to the berserker having Str/Con, the Slayer Theurge being a Cha/Con blaster, and the guardian-role spellblade being split into a tough, defensive Int/Con abjuration specialist and a brutally violent Int/Str-based evocation-specialist that functions like the Eladrin Knight or the Assault Swordmage.
The Knight and Berserker will definitely be going BACK to Str/Con builds, yes... and Con will definitely be the secondary for the slayer version of the Theurge and guardian version of the Spellblade. The slayer version of the Spellblade though is currently earmarked for the Cha-secondary based Hexblade-like build... though a Str-based one is not out of the question. I'll be going through my sub-classes today to see if there aren't some better fits for certain concepts.

Garthanos wrote:
To me Divine doesn't mean one stat hell Charisma is perfect for Evangelical priests
Nor would i want Locks to be int based - ick what a flavor drain
Well, that's where the secondary abilities come in and its worth noting that secondaries are going to play a larger role than they do in 4E at this stage. For example, even though Dex is a primary for the Rogue and Charisma a secondary, there are a couple of builds (the sidekick most notably) where you're actually better off having a higher Charisma than Dexterity. The archery slayer version of the Fighter can dump Strength entirely since its using Dex-based ranged attacks as its basis. The Paladin is designed such that having a higher Strength than Charisma is going to be totally viable. The warlock has similar options in place such that, while it would limit which at-wills you could select, a Warlock who dumped Intelligence wouldn't be an nonviable choice (one of the options a Warlock can select is an at-will auto-hit eldritch bolt with the damage keyed off of Charisma and that, like all at-wills, can be enhanced with the expenditure of focus).

It's also worth remembering that the 4E Warlock had Intelligence as its secondary ability so the ideal warlock build (leaving aside V-class strangeness) was a 16 in your primary and a 16 in Intelligence before racial modifiers. I didn't just flip things haphazardly and the ideal stat array for my warlock is still a 16 Cha and 16 Int before racial modifiers. The difference is that Int determines your accuracy while Cha determines the potency of your riders (which can include damage since the warlock is effectively a hybrid controller/slayer).

Garthanos wrote:
Can you elaborate why? I am picturing a column to the right or left of the mechanics. I have written some definitely distinct flavor for many of the main fighter moves..
A separate column with fluff for the powers IS totally viable (indeed, that's a pretty good idea... put all the fluff in one column and all the mechanics in the other for the entire project). The issue was that if I included the fluff INSIDE the power block it makes it look more like a 4E power block and that's one of the 'product identity' things that could cause issues even more than borrowing some terms would. Here are some other key things for me to avoid in my design... blue Hirosage font text for headlines, the use of swords, bows, and arrow bursts next to monster powers, using starbursts between action types and keywords, using dice face images for recharge rates and green/red/black bars on player powers to denote their usage. In order to avoid the nastiness of a Hasbro cease and desist order (which I could not possibly afford to fight) I need to make sure my layout steers clear of certain 'product identity' elements and the power layout is a BIG one in regards to 4E's product identity.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:49 pm

In regards to the defense swapping: that's exactly what I was thinking. A Dex/Cha character doesn't need such a benefit, so why change things around.

In regards to Constituton: yeah, that was one thing I noticed but forgot to mention: if Constitution's decoupled from everything, then why have it? And Strength is pretty useless outside of classes that have it as a primary or secondary.

The idea of combining Strength and Constitution is something I've heard of as well, and if I were doing a 4e clone/descendant, I'd do it and only look back at "Death to Ability Scores" solutions, but that's just me.

All that said, though, your solution to that problem is rather elegant and fits in nicely with your design philosophy. Burn limits per encounter for surges makes perfect sense, and it shifts endurance from per-fight to per-day. Nice job, man.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:43 am

Honorbound wrote:
In regards to Constituton: yeah, that was one thing I noticed but forgot to mention: if Constitution's decoupled from everything, then why have it? And Strength is pretty useless outside of classes that have it as a primary or secondary.

Now that it's an issue I'm aware of and what I believe the causes for it were I'm working on improving the viability of strength. My specific plan right now is to create a more gradated encumbrance/armor penalty system. The general idea is that for every full increment of X (i.e. some multiple of your Strength score) you take a -1 penalty to physical checks and for every two full increments of X you lose a point of speed. If a load would drop your speed below zero, its too heavy to even lift.

The goal would be that a moderately strong (Strength 2 to 3) should be able to wear plate with a heavy shield and melee weapon and not suffer any more penalties than he does in 4E for wearing the same (about -2 to checks and -1 to speed from the armor) while a weak character (Strength -1 to 0) would need to stick to much lighter armor to avoid penalties (chain armor would probably be about a -2 to checks and -1 to speed for them) and a really strong character (Strength 4-5) could wear the heaviest armor with few, if any penalties at all (truthfully most armor, when properly fitted, was pretty easy to wear... that properly fitted is the key point though as the difference in price between a generic suit and a fitted one was quite extreme).

This would essentially replace the armor penalties as well (though well-crafted or magical suits might reduce the weight or counteract penalties) and I'd drop the Strength requirements from armor proficiency feats in this case since, without the strength you're going to rack up bigger penalties by wearing armor that's too heavy for you (ex. I could see the wimpy Str -1 wizard decked out in plate with a -6 to checks and a top speed of 3).

I'll have to fiddle with the right multiple of Strength for X and perhaps fudging a few weights on some of the weapons and armor to get the math to work, but that should make Strength something you can't just ignore because you have a bag of holding and a magic item that lets you fly your speed.

Honorbound wrote:
The idea of combining Strength and Constitution is something I've heard of as well, and if I were doing a 4e clone/descendant, I'd do it and only look back at "Death to Ability Scores" solutions, but that's just me.
Combining the two works best in a setting where there is less need to differentiate between how hard you can hit and the ability to soak up punishment. This could either be because the focus isn't on combat (ex. a Call of Cthulhu type game) or because the combat is largely resolved by means other than muscle power (ex. modern and sci-fi settings where firearms/blasters dominate).

For a tactical level combat-focused medieval setting though the differentiation is far more important. That said, I already killed ability scores in my game (i.e. the 8-18 relics of the old 3d6 generation method). Your stats are your modifiers (i.e. -1 to +4) which makes it a lot easier since you don't need to clarify whether you mean ability modifier for ability score (ex. I don't have to list damage as 1d6 + Strength modifier damage... its just 1d6+STR damage).

Honorbound wrote:
All that said, though, your solution to that problem is rather elegant and fits in nicely with your design philosophy. Burn limits per encounter for surges makes perfect sense, and it shifts endurance from per-fight to per-day. Nice job, man.
Thanks, right now I'm setting the limit at 2 self-triggered surges per encounter; just enough for one action point and one second wind. Other powers (like healing word) would allow you to spend more surges, but they're power based rather than self-triggered.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:06 pm

Daily update time.

The first update is that I think I've found the solution to my 'make Strength more relevant' notion and, ironically, its by taking a step back to the general d20SRD and its light/medium/heavy/overloaded were just fractions of what the 4E light load was, but the penalties for carrying more than your light load were much more gradated than going right to 'slowed' as it is in 4E.

Max Dex really isn't a thing for something as 4E-based, but the check penalties and a more gradated -2/-5/-10 to checks and -1/-2/-4 to speed for medium/heavy/overloaded should work nicely without being too complex (dwarves would have the racial ability to treat all loads as if they were one category lighter). I'm also thinking that these penalties shouldn't stack with armor penalties (i.e. you use the worse of the two).

While the geometric increase of load increasing by 4 times for every +10 (or +5 in this case) increase in Strength is nice in that it lets you model creatures that can lift great weights without needing an insanely large range of strength, that was also back when monsters were using the same rules as PC's and isn't needed.

As such, I'm thinking something a bit more linear like a light load of Str -1 (10 lb.), Str 0 (20 lb.), Str 1 (40 lb.), Str 2 (60 lb.), Str 3 (80 lb.), Str 4 (100 lb.) and Str 5 (120 lb.) with the limit of a medium load being 2x that, a heavy load 3x that and overloaded up to 6x that.

That makes heavy armor a bit impractical to someone without at least a +1 or better strength and if you're just slightly over the line into a heavier weight class provides some dramatic tension about whether its worth dropping your packs to fight unhindered (ex. a rogue with a Strength of 0, leather armor, rapier, hand crossbow, bolts and an adventurer's kit could drop from a heavy load of 53 pounds to a light load of 20 pounds by dropping his backpack at the start of a fight) or if its better to avoid the risk of losing your gear if the fight turns bad and you have to flee and makes the benefit of being able to carry an extra 20 pounds without penalty (enough to carrying his armor, weapons and a stripped down adventurer's kit without penalty) by taking an extra point of Strength a serious option when building the character.

------

The second update is in the field of universal powers. Personally, I love the idea of powers that are unique to each class, but at the same time there are often some relatively benign abilities that it makes more sense to access across classes, or at least power sources.

To that end, I'm looking at creating the equivalent of cantrips for all the main roles (wilderness knacks are the start of a list of martial talents... others will probably be based on the martial practices) that will be accessible via a variety of means including racial abilities (the sprites get the choice of one primal spirit gift for example), classes (wizards, as always, get cantrips), backgrounds (the religious order background will grant a few orizons) and feats.

This may also be the place where I slide my version of ritual casting into my system (yet another of those, I have to do it a bit different than WotC did decisions... alternately I remove the feat requirement and make them entirely 'magic item' based... anyone can use a ritual if they have the 'book' and materials needed to perform it) since rituals and cantrip use mostly show up in the interaction/exploration side of the game rather than in direct combat (not that cantrips can't be useful in a fight, but using 'ghost sound' to distract an enemy or convince them to flee because they hear your 'reinforcements' coming is definitely more on the 'interaction' side of the equation where DM input/interpretation is going to be a factor rather than hard and fast combat rules).

Looking at the potential number of options a given character will have, I'm leaning towards at least a dozen (possibly closer to two dozen) options for each of the categories just so that there would be little to no overlap in a 4-5 man party using the same power source.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:07 am

Update of the day (I'm trying to do at least one a weekday as it keeps me focused on the project) is on Implements and Align...er...Allegiances.

One of the things I really liked about 4E was how implements helped define what sort of spellcaster you were. Did you use a wand or a staff? A holy symbol or a holy sword? However, once you drop enhancement bonuses for items from your system a lot of the need for an implement and the diversity it brings dies off.

To solve that issue and keep implements as a relevant part of the character concepts I've decided to design my implements such that they're more in line with weapons. Specifically, giving each type a set damage die (which powers use multiples of) and various other innate properties. Casting without an implement might be a flat 1d6 damage die and no special properties without some other addition (feats, class/background features, etc.) while the wand would make your attacks more accurate (akin to the difference between a battleaxe and a longsword) while the orb strengthens rider effects and the staff allows for defensive casting. Implement feats similar to those of weapons would further improve those properties.

------

I'm not a fan of alignments, or at least the alignments of prior editions (or the latest edition) of D&D. 4E's simplified alignments (mostly in terms of a single good/evil axis with no mechanical effects at all) were a step in the right direction, but a system I like even better is one called Allegiances.

Allegiances represent a strong devotion to something. It could be something as broad as a moral principle (ex. doing what is best for others or doing what is best for yourself) or as specific as preserving your own personal honor. It could be to a nation or god or just to your immediate family and/or friends.

Regardless, when you interact with someone who shares one or more of your allegiances you gain a +2 bonus to those interaction checks. If you're dealing with someone whose allegiances are opposed (ex. the followers of your god's archenemy) you suffer a -2 penalty to the checks. If you have some shared and some opposed the two cancel each other out and you get no benefit.

You can have up to three allegiances (or, if you're not attached to anything particularly strongly, none at all) and, for purposes of character development, considering ranking them for those times when they come into conflict (ex. who do you stand with when your allegiance to your nation conflicts with your allegiance to your family?) Over time your allegiances might shift (you decide you're on the wrong side of a war) or change in priority (your allegiance to your family overtakes your allegiance to your king after you become a father).

Essentially, they're minor roleplaying hooks with a slight mechanical advantage/disadvantage when dealing with NPC's without going into something as in-depth as 13th Age's Icon System. They're also something that can be tailored to the setting. A Samurai themed game would have many characters with an Allegiance to honor while a post-apocalyptic survival game might see allegiance to one's tribe overshadow concerns over things like good and evil.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:09 am

honestly I like your allegiances better than what I have heard of the 13th age mechanic...a lighter touch.

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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:47 am

Garthanos wrote:
honestly I like your allegiances better than what I have heard of the 13th age mechanic...a lighter touch.
That was the idea, plus, its something that, if you don't want to deal with it, you can simply have no allegiances and never have to worry about either bonuses or penalties to any social interaction (thus, its also something a GM can easily ignore if they don't want it involved in their game).

I HAD considered certain classes requiring certain allegiances (ex. a divine class having an allegiance to their god), but I ultimately ruled that out because that narrows down concepts a bit... you can't have a fallen priest secretly undermining the church if they HAVE to hold allegiance to that church... they're merely pretending to hold allegiance). That said, even if it ISN'T your highest allegiance, its something that should be fairly common... just not something that's required.

Perhaps a list of recommended allegiances with each race/class/background would be in order... just to get the gears spinning.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:16 am

A conversational throwback - I noticed you didn't have Faeries on your race list (ala pixies)
I would also like to see Centaurs be a relatively normal race.

I actually thought the 4e handling of pixie fight wasn't too bad

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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:24 am

Chris24601 wrote:

The second update is in the field of universal powers. Personally, I love the idea of powers that are unique to each class, but at the same time there are often some relatively benign abilities that it makes more sense to access across classes, or at least power sources.

To that end, I'm looking at creating the equivalent of cantrips for all the main roles (wilderness knacks are the start of a list of martial talents... others will probably be based on the martial practices) that will be accessible via a variety of means including racial abilities (the sprites get the choice of one primal spirit gift for example), classes (wizards, as always, get cantrips), backgrounds (the religious order background will grant a few orizons) and feats.
A concept I have liked for some time as little things have huge flavor benefits (people complain about certain of the sword mages abilities being not particularly functional but I find them quite flavorful.
Chris24601 wrote:

This may also be the place where I slide my version of ritual casting into my system (yet another of those, I have to do it a bit different than WotC did decisions... alternately I remove the feat requirement and make them entirely 'magic item' based... anyone can use a ritual if they have the 'book' and materials needed to perform it) since rituals and cantrip use mostly show up in the interaction/exploration side of the game rather than in direct combat (not that cantrips can't be useful in a fight, but using 'ghost sound' to distract an enemy or convince them to flee because they hear your 'reinforcements' coming is definitely more on the 'interaction' side of the equation where DM input/interpretation is going to be a factor rather than hard and fast combat rules).
Some things are more a method one uses to apply ones skills... I have an intimidation skill do I adjunct it by crushing a stone with my grip or do I use cantripic effects making darkness swirl about my face and fill my eye sockets.


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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 17, 2014 3:01 pm

Garthanos wrote:
A conversational throwback - I noticed you didn't have Faeries on your race list (ala pixies)
Somewhere up above I believe I mentioned swapping out gnomes for 'sprites' (elemental themed pixies essentially) and then putting the common elves into the average height of 4.5 to 5.5 foot range so the shortest of them fall roughly into where the 'halfling/gnome' would fall (a REALLY short elf might be down about 4 foot which looks ridiculously tiny compared to a normal human) and will have some racial feats to grant them various halfling/gnome traits if they want them.

Here's the current build of the Sprite;
Sprite
Origin: Primordial
Ability Scores: +1 Cha, +1 Dex or Int
Size: Tiny (4” – 8” / 1-3 lb.)
Speed: 4 squares
Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common, Primordial
Skill Bonuses: Stealth, Thievery
Elemental Affinity: Pick one of the following; Air, Earth, Fire or Water; you gain the benefits associated with that element.
    -Air: gain resist 3/6/9 (by tier) to storm damage and the Air Spirit gift.
    -Earth: gain resist 3/6/9 (by tier) to acid damage and the Earth Spirit gift.
    -Fire: gain resist 3/6/9 (by tier) to fire damage and the Fire Spirit gift.
    -Water: gain resist 3/6/9 (by tier) to cold damage and the Water Spirit gift.
Flight: You can fly 6 squares as a move action, but if you end your turn more than 1 square from the terrain beneath you, you fall. You cannot fly if carrying more than a light load.
Inordinate Strength: Your reach is 1 and you can use wield weapons as if you were a small creature.

Garthanos wrote:
I would also like to see Centaurs be a relatively normal race.

Centaurs are totally build-able via the Beast-Man race (which was designed to be extra flexible for just this reason) with the best fit for a centaur being something akin to +1 Str and +1 Con, skill bonuses to Athletics and Endurance and taking the racial traits of improved speed (base speed of 7 squares) and charger (+2 to speed when running or charging).

Here's the current concept for the Beast-Men;
Beast-Men
Origin:
Natural
Ability Scores: +1 Str or Dex, +1 to Con or Wis
Size: Medium (4’6” – 8’0” / 80-500 lb.)
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Low-light
Languages: Common and one of choice.
Skill Bonuses: Two of choice.
Beast Traits: You gain two of the following traits;
    -Aquatic: You gain a swim speed equal to your speed.
    -Blindsight: You gain blindsight with a range of 2 squares.
    -Charger: You gain a +2 bonus to speed when you charge or run.
    -Climber: You gain a climb speed equal to half your speed.
    -Darkvision: You gain darkvision.
    -Flight: If you are carrying no more than a light load and not wielding a weapon, implement or shield, you can use either or both of your standard and move actions each to fly up to your speed, but if you don’t use your standard action to fly you must land at the end of your turn or fall.
    -Improved Speed: Your speed improves to 7 squares.
    -Jumper: You gain a +5 racial bonus to jump checks and make all jump checks as if you had a running start.
    -Body Weaponry: Choose bludgeons or light blades. Your unarmed attacks are considered to be of that group for feat purposes and gain one of the following capabilities; +2 proficiency and 1d10 damage, +3 proficiency and 1d8 damage or +3 proficiency, 1d6 damage and can be used as both your primary and off-hand weapon in the same attack.
    -Water-breathing: You can breathe underwater.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:51 am

So, for today's update, let's talk leveling.

I've been slowly hammering out a more-or-less universal advancement system for the classes. The biggest issue in terms of design was that if I simply cut and pasted the level advancement for classes and themes things started to clump up on certain levels far too much, especially once providing an extra use of some power was already built into the mechanics via focus. As such, some things had to be switched around a bit to keep the dead or virtually dead levels to a minimum.

Here's how its currently being laid out...

At level 1 you're going to two at-will attack options, two focus attacks (i.e. encounter powers), one utility power, your role benefits (i.e. mark punishment, healing, control, extra damage) and your background benefit. You gain 2 focus per level and can spend 1 focus per action and spend 1 surge per encounter on non-healing effects. ETA: You also get one feat per level (just making that clear since one of the discussions on another board about 4E retro-clones included comments about things running in odd directions like dropping/merging feats and powers... my design totally includes feats).

At levels 2, 4, 7, 9, 12, and 14 you're going to get an 'attack option'. The exact options will vary a bit with the classes because right now different concepts are governing different classes (the fighter's 'encounter' effects are linked to their at-will stances so they don't need separate 'encounter' choices and so they alternate between gaining new stances and gaining weapon-specific abilities... while the mage currently alternates between at-wills and specific focus-fueled boosts that are chosen separately from each other). Some of the later benefits (particularly the level 12 and 14 ones) will likely lean more towards modifying the abilities you do have rather than adding brand new ones.

At levels 2, 4 and 6 you'll gain an additional background benefit.

At levels 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 and 15 you're going to get a 'role option'. Again, these will vary a bit based on the class/role; slayers will get improved damage, guardians will get ways to improve their mark punishment, etc.; but these are the points where the benefit gained will let you perform your role more effectively.

At levels 3, 5, 8 and 11 you'll get an additional utility power. Pretty straight forward.

At levels 4, 7, 11 and 14 your ability proficiency to damage/effects/riders improves by 1.

At levels 6 and 11 you gain an additional heroic surge (Ability proficiency no longer applies to your number of heroic surges, just your raw Constitution score). You can also spend an additional focus per action on effects and an additional surge per encounter on non healing effects.

At levels 12 and 14 you gain a choice of Immortal Resilience benefit.

At levels 13 and 15 you gain a choice of Immortal Surge benefit.

ETA: The net result of all these is that you should get one power choice (attack or utility), one benefit (role or background) and one feat choice at just about every level. Optional rules will be included for splitting the default 15 levels of my system up into a 4E equivalent 30 level game or even a 45 level game if desired (enough to grant a level every session for more than a year of weekly play).

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

The other thing I've worked out over the weekend are ranges/areas. I've removed the terms close and area from the lexicon. Instead the ranges will be simply melee and ranged with targeted (one or more distinct targets), burst (LoE determined from the center of the burst), blast (LoE determined from the edge of the blast) or wall (LoE is everything within the wall's area) applied to it.

Thus you'd have the following sorts of range areas (and their 4E equivalents);
-Melee 1 <=> Melee 1
-Melee 5 <=> One target within a Close Burst 5.
-Melee burst 1 <=> Close Burst 1.
-Melee blast 3 <=> Close Blast 3.
-Melee wall 6 <=> no direct equivalent.
-Ranged 10 <=> Ranged 10.
-Ranged Burst 1 within 10 <=> Area Burst 1 within 10.
-Ranged Wall 6 within 10 <=> Area Wall 6 within 10.
-Ranged Blast 3 withing 10 <=> No direct equivalent.

The last one (ranged blasts) is the most fun to me because it allows a simply way to express certain types of attacks that really only started to be explored with the Hunter's rapid shot (make RBA against each creature in or adjacent to a square within range) and would have prior to that been modeled simply as an area burst 1 (which it should not be since an area burst determines cover from the center of the burst and so could literally shoot around corners). Expanding such things into volleys of fire and similar directional ranged attacks opens up new types of powers while simplifying the verbiage (i.e. 'in or adjacent to a square' becomes 'ranged blast 3').

Similarly a 'melee wall' is new territory to explore for attacks like a great cleave type of attack. I could see something to the effect of 'make a MBA against each target in a melee wall 6, then shift to a square adjacent to the wall square furthest from you' for a sweeping attack where you sweep through an enemy formation attacking every opponent in your path.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Tue Aug 19, 2014 4:13 pm

I call today's update, making more of minors. Actions that is. One of the things I noticed in a lot of play sessions of 4E the desire to not let any action go to waste, thereby slowing down the game as the player looked to see if they had any minor action they could throw down that turn.

My solution to this is to make minor actions more core to playing your role such that a player will always have a default minor action to use if nothing else is immediately obvious. Based on play experience with a couple of my Essentials Options classes where this option was in place, it actually makes player's turns run faster than if they only have a couple of conditional encounter (or worse, daily) powers for minor actions since that caused them to spend a lot of time analyzing whether this is the right time to use them or whether they should wait. With a default at-will minor though, they might spend a moment to see if any other minor action was more obvious, but if nothing was immediately obvious they used their at-will minor action and moved on without feeling they'd wasted an action.

My specific plan for this is to work minor actions more succinctly into how the classes execute their roles. Controllers will have a portion of their control shifted over into at-will minor action control powers. Enablers already have some of this aspect in the form of their minor action healing words, but I also plan on giving them other minor action buffs (ex. gadgeteers have 'deploy gadgets' which lets them do things like, among other things, grant an ally cover for a round) and the dual weapon ranger will have their off-hand attack reworked as a minor action attack (the beast companion ranger will use a similar mechanic for their beast companion attacks... essentially the damage from the companion attack should be equivalent to the extra damage provided by other slayer features). Rogues (both slayers and enablers) will have 'tactics' they can use to get an edge (for slayers they provide a personal benefit, such as a bonus to their damage or causing a foe to be flat-footed to them... for enablers the tactics will give an edge to their allies).

The only problematic ones at this stage when it comes to using minor actions in this way are the guardians, since the bulk of their role is based on reactive punishment instead of doing something extra on their turn. While I could rework their marking tactics to use the minor action, right now my solution is simply to accept this nature and make the bulk of its utilities into minor actions while the classes with at-will minor actions to fulfill their roles will tend towards more reactive or move-action related utilities.

This, in turn means that the slayer builds for those classes will likely have their extra damage be more an automatic function rather than through a minor action since they'd have to draw from the same pool of utility powers as the guardian build of the class would. Right now that's a price I'm willing to pay in terms of design.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:19 pm

Update time again and a strong request for input.

I've been working out the guts of what each class and build is going to be getting and its going extremely well for the arcane, martial and primal classes which are all becoming quite distinctive (I think the slayer-build for primal 'shifter' is currently my favorite concept of the bunch that's getting a bit of the 'magic of incarnum' totemist feel to it as the design is shaping up (the at-wills allow you to take on primal aspects that modify your basic attacks with focus being spent to gain temporary boosts and/or acquire new primal features during the battle).

You'll note though that 'divine' isn't in that list. I'll be honest, divine is a MESS right now due to two separate reasons. Domains and mushy concepts.

The first one is going to work itself out in time because its largely a mechanical issue of working out how many distinct domains/deities to include into the system. The biggest issue here is what I'm calling the 'small gods' problem. If every aspect of reality is reflected in the stars/divine realms then you've got a whole lot of stars and a whole lot of potential gods and domains to sift through and prioritize and decide how to combine.

Right now my plan is that while there might be some type of divine being associated with each stars, the major deities will be more akin to 'constellations' representing multiple related concepts and that divine classes will be built around the notion that each distinct deity available in a given setting will have at least three such 'stars/domains' in its constellation. Compared to the eight or so different schools of magic for the wizard, my thinking is there will be two to three dozen domains, but each individual domain will only have a very few options in it though, when combined with the other domains of the deity, will add up to about the same number of options as the wizard will have for their powers.

By far the bigger issue though is mushy concept issue. The non-striker bits are mostly fine, though the cleric is a bit stretched having to cover both ranged implement and melee weapon style healers, but the paladin and theurge/invoker builds are on beam. The issue is that none of the striker builds are particularly distinct to any one of these. The radiant blaster should have the light armor/implements of certain cleric builds, but then what do you use for the striker version of the theurge? By the same token the Avenger shares its reliance on weapons with the paladin, but completely lacks the armor. Then there's the holy warrior type who matches up pretty well either the warpriest-style cleric or the paladin better than the Avenger meshes up with either of them. Right now the Avenger and Radiant Blaster are almost closer in terms of how they attack/defend to a 'Divine Pact' Hexblade or Warlock respectively than to any of the divine classes.

I'll also be the first to admit that the divine classes have always been my least favorite overall so its harder for me to navigate the intricacies of these classes. I really think the whole power source flounders because its trying to represent far too broad a category (all human religious traditions) under its umbrella. By contrast, the primal power source (one of my favorites) need only concern itself with shamanistic/druidic religious traditions that have very distinctive cultural roots and so allow for the designs to follow far more explicit and evocative themes (ex. the berserker, the summoner of spirits, the controller of the elements, the skinchanger and so forth).

I don't know how you actually solve that issue.

So basically, some input... even just to help me start asking the right questions like with my Con-conundrum... would be extremely helpful in terms of untangling this divine knot.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:42 am

Mechanically, I'd reshuffle the subclasses so that both holy warrior archetypes fall under the paladin and both cloth-wearing priests fall under the cleric. It's a bit of a change-up for the cleric, but I find that it helps separate it from the armor-wearing paladin. The cleric's two builds could be the white mage (enabler) and the theurge (slayer), while the paladin would be the champion (defender) and the crusader (a Batman version of the paladin that uses the slayer role).

As for the third class, you could adapt the Avenger as a divine rogue or assassin, much like the Hashashin of Islamic fame. The slayer version would be the classic avenger, while a controller-style avenger would draw on the 4e seeker (but obviously not weak, and functional in melee and ranged combat).

In regards to the mushy concept, if it were me, I'd go look at Judeo-Christianity or expand it into all three Abrahamic faiths if . The cleric specifically was a cross between Abraham Van Helsing and the Knights Templar, while the paladin was rooted in the knight in shining armor. I'd use that as a starting point.

Personally, in regards to your fluff set-up and to reinforce the trappings of the Abrahamic divine power source and the shamanistic/druidic primal power source, I'd change up where the gods and primal spirits come from. The sole god would be the source, the stars would be his/her angels and other low-level divine beings, and the constellations would be represented by archangels, ascended saints, and other high-level divine beings. The primal power source, meanwhile, would make contact with the elemental beings that reside close to the Source but not quite there. By elemental, I would expand past the traditional earth-wind-fire-water scheme and include beings of metal and plant-life, drawing on Asian views of the elements. On top of that, the primal classes could tap into the ascended spirits of legendary animals, such as the great beast, storm hawk, or what have you. Both primal and divine classes would draw on power that's more related to the source than the arcanists and martial classes, but they would do so in different ways. At least, that's how I'd do it, going off of my heavy Christian background. I don't want to override your idea, and quite frankly, it's your cosmology. I hope I don't seem like I'm stomping all over your idea.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:33 pm

Honorbound wrote:
At least, that's how I'd do it, going off of my heavy Christian background. I don't want to override your idea, and quite frankly, it's your cosmology. I hope I don't seem like I'm stomping all over your idea.
The only difficulty there would be I already gave all of that to the primal power source; The Source (God and Heaven), Elemental Hierarchies (the orders of angels and archangels), Honored Ancestors (the saints), Spirit Guides (guardian angels), even the Fallen Primordials cast into the Outer Darkness who seek to corrupt and destroy the world (the Devil, his fallen angels and Hell where the souls who do not wish to return to God hide from His presence).

The fact of the matter is that I am VERY Catholic*. When my fellow gamers describe me to others I take pride in the fact that I am known, simply because of how I live my life since I view that as the best form of 'preaching' and winning hearts (four of my gamer friends and counting), as "The Catholic One." But I'm also someone who likes to play with expectations (ex. humans are NOT the dominant power of the world in my campaign setting) and so flipping the usual primal = pagan notion on its head was interesting to me (its also one of the reasons I've been heavily thinking about dropping the term druid for the primal controller role).

Side-Bar: My parish has the coolest priests EVER... having once strongly corrected one of my friend's mothers when she came to him claiming that my friend's D&D collection was his 'Devil Worship Kit' and explaining to her that D&D is a game about heroes who FIGHT demons and other evil powers and was inspired by 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' written by the noted Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien.

Speaking of Tolkien, like his Middle Earth, I'm looking at the setting being a more of fallen Pre-Christian world because there's more need for heroes in a world where THE Hero hasn't arrived yet to vanquish all evil for all time (evil may linger in the world, but the real hard part's already been done). Given that, you might think of the followers of the primal powers as somewhat akin to the Israelites (particularly during their many wandering/exiled phases) while the divine powers represent more pantheistic faiths (egyptian, greco-roman, celtic, etc.) in terms of where I'm going with the gods.

One of the other ways this is playing into the setting in terms of world-building is based off the Old Testament theme of Man's cyclic success when aligned with God, but then in their excess turning away from God leading to their downfall and eventually return to God (and the start of the cycle).
- The first civilization is built up, but is then corrupted by the Fallen Primordials (who mingle with humans and give birth to the first Hellborn) and crumbles and the survivors return to their alliance with the Primordial spirits who preserve and protect The Source's creation.
- The people build a new civilization but once again turn to excess in their success and create the Beast-Men as slaves to serve them just as they once served the fallen primordials. The Beast-Men and good men who kept faith with the Primal Spirits tear down this civilization.
- After a period of darkness Men build a Third Civilization once again in accord with the Primal Spirits; this civilization uses wonders of SCIENCE!!! (which is not opposed to the Primal Spirits in and of itself) but once again in their hubris believe they can play God, corrupt and eventually destroy themselves in a great Apocalypse of fire and death that led to a new dark age.
- In the vacuum Elves and Orcs entered world and began contending for domination of the world as mankind rebuilt and as the Fourth Civilization begins to rise it must now share the world with these new beings. Small city-states are the norm as men seek to reestablish their old empires. Some of these city-states hold to the primal ways (noting that past civilizations only fell when they turned away from the primal spirits, not when they built past wonders), others have embraced the divine pantheons of the other races, and still others choose to live outside a civilization they know will ultimately become corrupt and fall and instead rely entirely upon their alliance and friendship with the primal spirits to protect and nurture their peoples.

-----------

All that said though, I also need to design the mechanics to take into account that probably 90% of the people who use this system are going to just chuck the setting and make their own and so I need to make sure it can be used for far more typical fantasy settings as well.

I'm still mulling over the class/sub-class arrangement you mentioned above and baking my noodle on it. I'm not 100% sold, but its definitely something to bounce my ideas against for comparison. Thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:55 pm

I have a love hate relationship with the Divine classes. I tend to reflavor them mercilessly.

The Cleric lacks sufficient myth/legend backing it (but if you dig under the hood both it and the invoker make fairly good witches ... ironically even the closest case for historic analogs the Templars were accused of witchcraft)

Where as the robed healer is basically an unimplemented concept (healers as unarmored types with Avenger like armor of faith really could be a basic)

Speaking of Avengers - The assassin originated as a religious archetype in real life ie this works pretty well.

Further I have a decidedly 1e model of the Paladin in my head which translates better as a Fighter with charity and oath bound boons and blessings (see 4e alternate rewards with a bit of steroids and mixed with Martial practices for creating the Oaths)

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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: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:44 pm

Garthanos wrote:
I have a love hate relationship with the Divine classes. I tend to reflavor them mercilessly.

The Cleric lacks sufficient myth/legend backing it
Actually, there's a LOT of myth and legend backing the notion of the cleric...specifically the chaplain, a priest whose job it was to carry sacred relics into battle (the term originates from 'cloak bearer' as the first such relic to be born in this manner was the cloak of a Roman Legionnaire saint who split his cloak to give it to a beggar and yet later found it completely intact).

A case can be made too for basing off say, the judges and prophets of the Old Testament (such as the challenge between Elijah and the priest of Baal and the likely Ur-example of the divine FLAME STRIKE). One could even make the case for the priests of Greeks or the Romans, Egyptians or even the Assyrians... all of those would at least have a reasonably rich body of myths and legends with which to align your divine archetypes with.

The problem with the Cleric, and by extension most of the divine power source, in my view is that, for whatever reason (one could ascribe motives if ones wishes, but its irrelevant to the result) they decided to invent their own polytheistic pseudo-religion which can't hope to match the degree of myths, legends and nuances that any real religion would have.

The druid is so much better conceptualized in nearly every edition, even when its given every fantastic powers that any druidic priest was ever reputed to have had, precisely because they're modeling the priest of a single religion.

Realistically, what the Cleric needs to regain its flavor is to let it be established to some real-world religion and then create a series of additional classes to cover the legendary abilities of many other religions as well. Unfortunately, I don't think that the time constraints (I'm not too concerned about space restraints with what will surely be a PDF-only project) are going to let me pull off something like that and I'm going to have to design the divine classes to cover a pretty broad conceptual swath.

I'm working it out... right now I find that things are working better if I focus on an 'effects based' angle (i.e. it doesn't matter so much what the deity supports as HOW it supports it). So a protective deity would have more defensive riders while a wrathful deity would have more effects that harm your enemies. Throw in a few alternate damage types where appropriate (a storm deity relying more on lightning damage or a deity of winter letting your effects deal cold damage for example) and I think I might actually have something that works on the 'deity-selection' level (though I'm still hammering out the specifics of which sub-build goes where, I think I've got a path that'll work. I'll probably be updating on that in a day or two).

Quote :
Further I have a decidedly 1e model of the Paladin in my head which translates better as a Fighter with charity and oath bound boons and blessings (see 4e alternate rewards with a bit of steroids and mixed with Martial practices for creating the Oaths)
There's a 'Religious Order' background that's somewhat based on the 4E Knights Hospitaler theme that gains several more subtle divine features and utility powers for those who want to be more like Sir Galahad than a guy who smites his enemies with flares of holy lights.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:44 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Garthanos wrote:
I have a love hate relationship with the Divine classes. I tend to reflavor them mercilessly.

The Cleric lacks sufficient myth/legend backing it
Actually, there's a LOT of myth and legend backing the notion of the cleric...specifically the chaplain, a priest whose job it was to carry sacred relics into battle

The chainmail and mace bearing healer and miracle worker?? ... nyeh its fairly obvious where the miracles of the cleric were inspired from but those who performed them were not heavily armored ... it seems a misfire, however -
I suppose if one assumes the premise of magic and miracle being common on top of historic prevalence of priests joining crusades and following along side military activity as such. Then the concept naturally arises. This just does not correspond directly to the tales. (miracles associated with a relic is not a person invoking the divine and does not correspond to D&D clerics much at all)

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One could even make the case for the priests of Greeks or the Romans, Egyptians or even the Assyrians... all of those would at least have a reasonably rich body of myths and legends with which to align your divine archetypes with.
And their miraculous abilities would look nothing like the clerics.

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


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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:09 am

Hmmm... 4e was (to some degree) about slaughtering sacred cows.

You could always drop the cleric. Especially if you're making the game have a default setting (which could have a lack of clerics).

I just find the typical cleric to strictly defined to appropriately showcase all the different strains of holy men, priests, etc, that religion offers, which if I read correctly is partially your delima.

Going back to the idea of the game having a default setting, which is one thing I think I've picked up through multiple massive walls of text. You could always design the core cleric class to be built around 1 or 2 of the most commonly worshipped gods in the setting, and then work from there. Most player's typically only play clerics of a handful of deities anyway, in my experience. Plus designing specific clerics for a few deities would be easier than trying to just make the catch-all D&D cleric.

I think I may've just reiterated a lot of what as been said... Not sure. There was a lot of info in the past 2 pages of this topic to try and fully comprehend when I haven't even had any sleep tonight.

But anyways I do think you're on the right track. If you need help with any type of specific class design or brainstorming just shout.

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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:29 am

Chris24601 wrote:

The druid is so much better conceptualized in nearly every edition, even when its given every fantastic powers that any druidic priest was ever reputed to have had, precisely because they're modeling the priest of a single religion.
Shape shifting was actually one of the two most common magical abilities across multiple cultures... and with healing being the other (inspite of the attempt by religions to claim they were the only true healers) the DnD druid seems a bit more multi-cultural where as the cleric was specifically picking its miracles to mirror a particular religion.

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:22 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Shape shifting was actually one of the two most common magical abilities across multiple cultures... and with healing being the other
Just a nitpick, but I'd say any grouping of "the most common magical abilities across multiple cultures" ought to include divination. I'd be inclined to rank it as more common than shapeshifting.

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PostSubject: Re: Throwing my hat into the 4E retro-clone ring.   Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:43 pm

Quote :
The chainmail and mace bearing healer and miracle worker?? ... nyeh its fairly obvious where the miracles of the cleric were inspired from but those who performed them were not heavily armored ... it seems a misfire, however -
Those chaplains who bore the holy relics into the middle of battles so as to sway their outcome were most certainly as armored as their contemporaries. The notion of them going unarmored would be as silly to the people of the day as us expecting a modern military chaplain to go into a war zone without a flack jacket and helmet.

Where you are correct though was about the bearing of arms. The prohibition against the shedding of blood was not some abstract code against wielding edged weapons, but rather the same sort of pacifism we see amongst combat medics and chaplains today that allows them to enjoy the status of being a non-combatant (The likely origin of the mace myth was a misunderstanding of the 'shed no blood' vow and the appearance of certain holy water sprinklers used to ritually cleanse men before they went into battle... and whose hollow heads would have crumpled against even the lightest armor if someone tried to use one as a weapon).

Quote :
I suppose if one assumes the premise of magic and miracle being common on top of historic prevalence of priests joining crusades and following along side military activity as such. Then the concept naturally arises. This just does not correspond directly to the tales. (miracles associated with a relic is not a person invoking the divine and does not correspond to D&D clerics much at all)
Its likely a muddying of the Christian chaplain (D&D did derive from a medieval miniatures game and many of the Chaplains were often medics as well as morale officers for the troops) with the more fantastic feats of the Old Testament priests, prophets and judges who with the assistance of God parted seas, called down fire and plagues from the heavens, brought down the walls of Jericho and so forth.

I will say I always find a wonderful bit of irony to the fact that the likely origin of Cleric's healing 'powers' was due to their real-life 'medic' and 'morale-officer' role in medieval warfare rather than due to divine miracles... i.e. the original Cleric would actually have been a Warlord in 4E.

Quote :
Just a nitpick, but I'd say any grouping of "the most common magical abilities across multiple cultures" ought to include divination. I'd be inclined to rank it as more common than shapeshifting.
Agreed. I'd say visions, prophesy, healing and banishing evil spirits were probably THE most common abilities attributed to various holy men and women regardless of religion while shapeshifting was more specifically associated with more shamanistic religions.

Quote :
Hmmm... 4e was (to some degree) about slaughtering sacred cows.

You could always drop the cleric. Especially if you're making the game have a default setting (which could have a lack of clerics).
The purpose of the default setting is to be a framework to help explain why certain D&D elements exist in the world in a way that is distinctly different from Hasbro's IP. I have no illusions that most of my potential audience will not actually set their own games within the world I've devised (in my experience most DM's prefer to craft their own worlds), but its a necessary wrapper to allow for the mechanics to at least have an starting context before people kit-bash it into their own worlds.

As such, I need divine classes to allow those who want a more traditional fantasy world to lay it out in a traditional way, plus it makes a nice counterpoint with the the much more elemental primal power source and gives you the chance to smash evil gods in the face when you start getting towards the end of the last tier.

Quote :
I just find the typical cleric too strictly defined to appropriately showcase all the different strains of holy men, priests, etc, that religion offers, which if I read correctly is partially your dilemma.
It is indeed the dilemma, though by looking to the underlying effects rather than the fluff I THINK I finally do have something resembling a solution for my divine classes.

Specifically, the type of armor used is largely incidental... I've got four separate builds for the fighter based on both role and whether they use light or heavy armor and all it takes is a class feature to grant the character either armor proficiency or a feature that puts their AC into line with its role. There's no reason to NOT do the same for the divine classes.

There's still a bit of muddiness in terms of the Cleric vs. Invoker striker roles but I think I've come up with something resembling a solution there that goes like this;

First, make a distinction between the classes that use weapons and those that use implements as the most fundamental part of the design.

For example: the Paladin is clearly a weapon wielder and so are the Avenger and Blackguard type striker builds. So let's put them together into the same base class and then provide options for the class to either rely on 'Faith' or 'Steel' to reach the AC needed for their role. The traditional Paladin and the Blackguard rely on 'Steel' while the Avenger and a theoretical unarmored divine guardian build (perhaps for elves or deities where agility or freedom of movement is part of their wheelhouse) would have 'Faith' and a Dexterity secondary for determining their AC.

Likewise, the Invoker is clearly an implement wielder; whether built for control or blasting their schtick should be calling down ranged AoE's upon the enemies of their god. 'Faith' or 'Steel' is likely a much less important element of the design overall and might even be able to be left out entirely (in which case I'd set the controller's secondary as Constitution and the striker's secondary as Intelligence to allow the striker to have slightly higher AC than the controller as intended by their respective roles).

The muddy-one remains the Cleric which has echoes of both, but if I had to pick one over the other I'd say 'implement' is more their wheelhouse than weapons. At the same time, they need to be closer to the action than an Invoker would so 'Faith' or 'Steel' will be a thing for them and its through that I think I can resolve the weapons vs. implements and how to distinguish their slayer-role from that of the Invoker. With my revisions to carrying capacities, heavy armor is going to require a decent Strength to wear effectively and with Strength comes the ability to pull off basic melee attacks.

Side-bar: one of the results of my changes to implements is that it is now much easier to present most powers as modifiers to a basic attack. For example, Tide-of-Iron could be expressed as 'Effect: make a MBA and, if you hit, push the target 1 square and then shift into the space it left.'

This is the opening I intend to use to make both versions of the cleric viable and distinguish it from the Invoker. The distinction is going to be that the cleric is a MELEE caster while an Invoker is a RANGED caster. The cleric uses melee attacks, melee bursts and melee blasts to deliver its effects and so can make their MBA's using either their implement via Charisma or using a weapon and a good Strength score.

This also sets the slayer version of the cleric as an 'in your face' combatant who's hitting foes with divine power up close and personal while the slayer version of the invoker pummels them with ranged attacks from a distance. That's starting to clear-up the muddle into precise categories.

So, for now anyway, the Paladin is the divine weapon-user who may or may not use heavy armor and may lean towards offense or defense. The Cleric is the close-combat implement wielder who channels divine power to heal or harm those nearby, while the Theurge (i.e. Invoker) is the ranged implement wielder who calls down divine power to hinder and harm their enemies.

Now it just needs domain options allow these classes to be varied based on the deity they follow.

Quote :
But anyways I do think you're on the right track. If you need help with any type of specific class design or brainstorming just shout.
Thanks, feedback and brainstorming is definitely something I can always use and one of the reasons why I keep posting updates here so that people can say 'That's cool' or 'that sucks' and, to be perfectly honest; I probably need the legitimate 'this sucks' and 'this could be better' more than I need 'that's cool' (though encouragement is always appreciated) simply because I am essentially a team of one and I know I have perceptual blind spots that could easily lead to bad design decisions.

One thing I would certainly appreciate from any who want to put an idea are various character concepts you'd like to see so that I can make sure that I'm not missing anything when it comes to the races, classes and backgrounds that will be the core of character building (feats are more about modifying existing elements than adding new ones) in the system. I feel my options at the moment are pretty robust, but if there's something I'm missing (see blind spots above) that could be thrown into the mix without completely rebuilding what I've already got designed, I am certainly all about doing that.

An important point here; My plan is to eventually release this project as a standalone PDF-product. The amount of free time I have means that any supplemental release schedule beyond 'annual' is unlikely to happen unless it does well enough to let me quit my day job or I get a bunch of people to jump aboard with supplemental material. In other words, if its not in the main book, I'm unlikely to be publishing it down the line in any sort of organized fashion.
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