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 I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)

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Chris24601
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:07 pm

Well... you can check it out now, I just updated the link with what I'm thinking will work for the Shaman (which is how I'll be proceeding with the project from here on out). If anything my concern at the moment is rather the opposite of the Warlock, that its ability to leverage vulnerability (which means your attackers deal max damage + their level) will actually make it significantly BETTER than the other strikers and it will likely need to be significantly reigned in.

For those who don't feel like searching for it, HERE is the link to the version I'll be updating from now on.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:18 am

Well, I can definitely see why you wanted to go leader/controller with the shaman. The Hexer's only real damage feature that I see is the vulnerability mechanism. If a player doesn't take one of the vulnerability spirits for some reason, then their damage might fall behind. On the other hand, if they do take it, we have the problem you pointed out, since vulnerability works differently in TNT versus 4e.

Another concern you might want to note is that unlike the brigand, thief, or self-forged's self-buffs, the hexer's spirits can still be used by the rest of the party, just in a more harmful direction. I know that's what you were intending, given the nature of the aura in question, but I'm wondering if it's a bit too much in comparison to those other strikers.

Also, the vulnerability effect will encourage fire, cold, and storm versions of the old 4e radiant mafia, wherein everybody sought a way to deal radiant damage and take advantage of the Morninglord paragon path's feature (whatever it was). Given this, the hexer would then be influenced by optimizing more than the other classes that you've made.

Perhaps the hexer's curse could also inflict extra Dexterity damage to one target via a minor action, like the spellblade and mage do with their sorcerous bolt and minor spell potency features as well as apply the spirit ally's effect. If you implement that, then I have no idea what to do with the hexer versions of flame's wrath, sky's wrath, and winter's wrath.

I don't mean to sound totally negative, because the shaman itself is a neat class. The medicine man is a neat class by itself, and the mental image I get just from the mechanics of the shaman's spirit aura, an explorer of an entirely different world filled with spirits, fits what little I know of what real world shamans thought they could do much better than 4e's pet summoner. Given the shaman's close connection with the spirits, moreso than the shifter, it makes sense that the spirit allies would line up with the spirit specializations.

Onto other topics that I didn't get to discuss in the last post (life's been busy): The shifter is awesome. The concept of form abilities allows the shifter to achieve the same level of customization as the lycanthrope version of the beast-man, the beast form attacks are flavorful yet generic enough that a shifter player could use them for nearly every type of animal. The idea of the roar as a taunting mechanism is damned cool. I look forward to the summoner and the divine classes.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:24 am

Yeah... the Shaman's slayer (controller?) version is weird and prone to being way too weak or way too strong depending on build/party. The enabler side I think works beautifully (the damage buff and regen auras might be a little strong, but that's a comparatively minor issue).

The SAFEST thing would probably be to pull it back from being a slayer and just make it a controller focused on debuffs and AoE damage (vs. the forced movement and severe conditions). Yeah, that 'violates' my previous class set-up a bit (having two controllers and two slayers instead of one controller and three slayers), but then again I was the one who made up the 'rule' in the first place.

Trying to look on the bright side of that, it would at least create a different feel for the two externally derived power sources (primal and divine) from the internally derived power sources (martial and arcane) since the balance of roles would be a bit different (while still covering all the bases).

A mitigating factor too is that barbarian theme offers primal utilities to anyone and combined with something like the elemental-themed Sorcerer would probably be a pretty effective primal blaster, even if it was technically arcane (which, even if you ignored the 'refluffing is allowed' rule, is still considered a natural part of the world by followers of the primal ways in my world setup and so wouldn't be all that out of place in a group of primal practitioners... just as any of the martial classes would fit right in).

That said, I DO want to try and see if there isn't some way to make a striker version of the Shaman work. It just may require going back to the drawing board on that entire half of the class to do so. Cutting the numbers back to a controller build for now will be my stop-gap (so I don't have to obsess over the issue which will keep me from designing other stuff until I get it 'fixed').

Speaking of fixes... what's your take on the revised Ranger?

ETA: The Shaman has been updated in the test document... amongst other changes... instead of vulnerability, the hexer's aura now causes attacks that hit enemies in the aura to deal 2 extra damage of the appropriate type (stackable to +8 damage at level 15 if you apply that aura effect four times) which should both prevent 'radiant mafia' style exploits (the damage is applied regardless of type) while also being reigned in from Max Damage+Level for a hit to more controller level +2 to +8 extra damage per hit. I also added an AoE option to the Hexer so it can adequately pull off the role of controller which seems a better fit (for now).

Also added is my first draft of the summoner. Some of the specific summoned spirit auras/effects are likely subject to change, but I'm overall happy with the concept. The breakthrough for a unique slayer version was making it a Strength secondary (making it a decent melee combatant) and adding the option to Spirit Merge (basically making your summon unhittable with its effects centered on you). Just the image of a summoned wolf or fire spirit jumping into the Summoner and augmenting their strength seems like a fun option (though by no means required).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:26 pm

Verbannon wrote:
I always thought 4e's greatest strength was actually the way it does skill challenges to be honest. So a name like "Masters" or "Trials and Tribulations" or as 4e itself hearkens back to its origins as a war simulator maybe "Fantastic Skirmishes"

Now IMHO what 4e does best is super-heroic characters. I agree, SCs and their ilk are a great strength of the system too, but I call my personal hack "Heroes of Myth and Legend" for lack of a name (when people ask 'what are we playing?' I have to give some sort of answer).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:51 pm

Mythic Heroes... is more concise AbdulAlhazred Wink and unless you are selling it you probably dont have to care what Hero games named theres LOL

_________________
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: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:09 pm

Garthanos wrote:
Mythic Heroes... is more concise AbdulAlhazred Wink and unless you are selling it you probably dont have to care what Hero games named theres LOL

Oh, an armchair critic eh!? Watch out or I'll send you a review copy and make you read it! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:28 pm

The Ranger: adding Improved Mobility to the acrobat and the scout is a nice idea, allowing the two builds to use athletics without having to put too many points in Strength. For the acrobat, it makes sense since they are a movement-oriented class, and the scout appreciates it thanks to its focus on Constitution instead of Strength. The beastmaster definitely needed beast restoration, and I have no idea how I missed that one. The hunter may not have its trapsmith feature, but I don't miss it at all. Finally, refocusing the acrobat's features around flurry of blows is a good idea, as is the serious upgrade that flurry of blows got. All in all, nice work.

Yeah, the Hexer was already a proto-controller, the mass curse ability just sealed the deal. I would keep it at two controllers and two strikers for the primal power source, simply because the work is already done for the most part, and as you pointed out, a barbarian-themed sorcerer would fit the primal blaster archetype just fine. Perhaps this can be a unique quirk of the primal power source: pure blasting magic is just not their thing. By the way, the medicine man's shared bounty feature is the cherry on top of a beautifully executed build.

Now the summoner. The protector is perfectly serviceable, with most of its features baked into the general benefits and only base controller stuff in the actual protector section. But the punisher; oh,man, the punisher. That is an awesome way to turn a ranged controller into a melee striker. The very image of a character doing a spirit merge, walking right up to a monster, and saying, "Come at me, bro" is freaking beautiful.

Other Stuff:

I didn't get a chance to talk about the Warden last time, so I'll do it here: I love how you've made both the beast form and the hybrid form into guardians and slayers. The form abilities are a great way to essentially build your own beast/hybrid form, and the natural armor/weapons features are what the 4e warden and druid should have had, instead of relying on the weapon list or implement dice.

I have a question: can a target be taunted multiple times? For example, a defender fighter and a warden shifter have a monster pinned between them. Could they taunt the enemy simultaneously, and have that enemy trigger reactive strikes from one when he attacks the other? or is it like in 4e, where marks override each other?

The reason I ask is that since the spellblade's ward (thanks for fixing it, by the way), isn't a taunt, he could conceivably pull off that kind of punishment stacking with another defender, or other stuff of that nature. If taunts don't override each other (but the -2 penalties don't stack), then the other defenders won't be as redundant. If taunts do override, I see the spellblade being the most popular fifth man of the party, no matter the build.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sun Mar 01, 2015 4:57 pm

The Ranger: Yeah, trapsmith actually got turned into a Barbarian utility power. I think it fits better there.

Primal source and role division: One of the things in 4E was that each power source tended towards a certain role as its secondary... Martial was striker-ish secondary more often than not (and its strikers, the rogue and ranger, were two of the best in the game). Arcane was generally controller-ish... and need I point out that the wizard/mage was probably the best controller in the game? Divine tended to be leader-ish with best pure healer in the cleric and just overall better healing options (ex. paladin's lay on hands for example). Primal was a bit of an odd duck, but with most of the classes having more surges than normal and the Druid having a defender-ish wildshape and the Shaman a defender-ish spirit companion I could certain see a case for them as the 'defender-secondary' power source.

My point to the above is, yeah... I could probably do something similar via role distribution and might look at doing a slightly different split for the Divine source as well (I don't really wanna try and retrofit that concept onto the Martial or Arcane though as I'm pretty darn happy with those at the moment).

The Taunt question: Let me think on that a bit... changing up the Spellblade to a ward instead of a taunt does open up some potential abuse if the other's can't stack their taunts as well. My suspicion is I'm either going to have to allow multiple taunts or add some clarification to the spellblade's ward so that it doesn't stack with taunts (the trick there being the balance point in which supersedes the other).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:56 pm

If you do decide to make the taunts override each other, you could redesign the ward so that anyone who attacks the warded ally is taunted for the attack, inflicting that -2 instead of the ally gaining +2 in defenses. With that in place, the ward could apply its damage and effects as normal. The taunt and the +2 to defenses from the ward are the same thing, basically: making it harder for enemies to hit the warded ally.

In regards to roles: yeah, I'd leave martial and arcane alone at this point, since you've already got a good thing going.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:59 pm

The trick I'm having with balancing taunt vs ward is that I don't want to universally override the other. For example, if a ward turns into a taunt when an enemy attacks its always going to override any other taunt because its the most recently applied.

Ideally, only the most recent of the taunts or wards should apply to any given attacker, but in addition to the hassle of tracking ward placement vs taunt there's also the spellblade's reactive ward that could likewise completely override a taunt and the fighter's defender aura that applies to anyone adjacent without an actual timing mechanism like the spellblade and shifter (or the fighter's ranged taunt).

That's just a little much to try and track so I'm thinking that even though it might be a bit strong that each taunt should resolve seperately (i.e. they 'stack'). This does mean you can create true catch-22 situations using multiple guardians, but at the same time doing so ties both of them up which may keep other foes from being locked down.

It also puts them more on par with the staging of effects that multiple controllers can pull off (i.e. two at-will dazzles on the same target makes them dazed... two 1 focus dazes makes a target stunned... two 2 focus stuns causes the target to be held) and is the mostly damage from improved reactive strikes really any worse than that?

In design news, I've worked out the domains for the divine specializations and finally nailed down the four open background slots... the traveler (a combination of wandering merchant, explorer and sailor), the artisan (lots of crafting/jury-rigging utilities), the entertainer (a mix of entertainment related utilities and some roguish elements for those who 'work the crowd') and the commoner (a bit of a catch-all for farmers, smiths, maids and other common laborers with a bit of a folk hero flavor to their utilities). I was originally thinking I needed a primordial background akin to the religious and arcanist backgrounds (mostly to cover things like dragons and sprites with very strong elemental themes to them), but about half the barbarian powers already had a primal keyword associated with them so I decided to just let it ride since barbarian did have enough options to create a character with only primal utilities if you really wanted to (the primal spirit specializations also ate quite a few of the other potential primal utilities).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:00 pm

The bit about the ward overriding a taunt is something I hadn't considered. As you pointed out, pinballing reactive strikes is nothing compared to what a controller team could do.

I was wondering what you were going to do for the backgrounds. The four you listed pretty much fill what archetypes might be missing, as far as basic character origins go. I like how you're merging the sailor into a common traveler archetype, and the artisan and entertainer were definitely noticeable in their absence.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:13 am

Yeah, it wasn't so much that I didn't HAVE the backgrounds... it was how best to assemble them into something you could apply two-dozen different utilities powers to. Because once you get past certain very distinctive types... those who fall outside of everyday life... soldiers, religious, students of the arcane, outlaws, people in the circles of powers... and have to start categorizing the more 'mundane' occupations things get less distinct.

Do you do a geographic split? Villagers vs. City Folk? Do merchants or sailors or (insert profession here) have enough going for them to be an entire background unto themselves?

It just took awhile to actually sort them into coherent categories with enough options to qualify as a background mechanically. Theoretically a background could have as few as nine utilities, but then everyone with that background would end up the same (barring universal utilities) in the end, which is why my goal has been 24 utilities per background. Enough that three people could each take the same background and have, at most, one power overlap).

Which is the same reason just about everything has a dozen or more options to it... because the class lets you pick four attacks... so for three people playing the same class to have a full set of powers with no overlaps requires at least twelve choices. If three players at the same table want to play elven barbarian rogues, I want that to be able to happen without stepping on each other's toes...

-One might be a common elf skald with ancestor spirit and restoration.
-One might be a low elf thief with skilled stalker and expert tracker.
-One might be a high elf brigand with uncanny strength and primal endurance.

All three are elven rogues with the barbarian background, but each one has a different focus within even something that specific. Even if someone only wanted to ever play Elven Barbarian Rogues, it would likely take dozens of characters before they'd actually exhausted all the combinations available. That's what I'm shooting for with this.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:11 pm

A new update has been uploaded. To avoid paging back, the link is HERE.

This update includes some cleanup work/adding options to the Beast-Man (normalized with the Shifter), the Dragon (optional utility abilities to invoke dragonfear, assume a humanoid form and grow in size), Giants (added primal affinity and growth options as optional utility powers) and Mutants (more options). Flight mechanics were also normalized and streamlined (allowing you to substitute focus expenditure for standard actions) and, due to monster design work, the Cambions were renamed Tieflings (which are in the d20SRD so that name can be used with no issue whatsoever).

The Cleric and Paladin have been added as class options (leaving only the Theurge to go on that front) and I added a Human Brigand, Highwayman and Thug to the playtest monster section (I needed them for a playtest session so thought I'd throw them in).

In the pen & paper note stage I've got the utility power choices for the remaining five backgrounds worked out and have begun assembling a checklist of monsters to be designed (150 specific types so probably 250-ish once humanoid variants like archers, shamans, mages, warriors, etc. are worked up).

In the rough-concepts stage I'm beginning to lay out magic items (particularly important as the artisan backgrounds can use background utility selections to start with a few that they've crafted for themselves).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:01 am

Had some minor updates to the PDF today. I added Bestial Form to the dragon, making it clear that unless it assumes some other form it is unable to perform fine manipulation with its limbs.

I also made a change to the Cleric's Mantle power to help distinguish it from the Shaman. I recently made the argument about why I didn't have psionics in my system being because I didn't want classes that were basically arcane with the serial numbers filed off and replaced with 'psionics'. Except that's basically what the Shaman and Cleric were to each other... slightly different powers but very much the same underlying mechanics (the Rogue and Gadgeteer are somewhat close, but the distinction between weapons and implements helps make them more distinct from each other).

Anyway, I decided to change the Cleric's mantle from an Aura 5 centered on itself (which will be the shaman's schtick) to creating a Burst 2 zone anywhere with 10 squares of the Cleric (EoE or until used again) and added the ability to increase the burst size by paying focus. While it covers less ground than the Aura 5 I think that the ability to cast it up to 10 squares away from you (so you don't need to be in the middle of melee combat to aid your allies and can reposition it without having to move yourself... such as if you're immobilized or on the other side of a chasm) will more than make up for it.

I also, while in discussion with a friend, finally found the design niche I've been looking for to keep my Theurge (which might need a different name due to the concept) from being a Mage with the serial numbers filed off. It will have a feature similar to the mage's minor magic for laying down control/damage, but instead of the condition automatically triggering as with the mage it will include a 'sanction' or 'geas' element. It gives the target a condition... do not attack target X, do not move closer to or further from square Y, if you do not deactive any auras/ongoing effects... and if that condition is violated they get a more severe effect than a mage's minor magic inflicts (ex. dazed instead of just dazzled... darkened instead of just shadowed... immobilized instead of just slowed).

The trick is going to be to make the trigger condition something that, while not the ideal action for the target to take, is something it can reasonably do (i.e. 'don't attack a specific target' and not 'don't attack any target') to avoid the harsher condition.

Basically its control through threat of force (and punishment if defied) instead of the mage's control through force approach and that feels like something distinct enough from the mage to be its own class.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Fri Mar 13, 2015 3:03 pm

Race Updates:

Good job on the Beast-man/shifter solution.

Adding bestial form to the dragon will definitely encourage people to take the Dragon-Man option - either that or you'll see a lot of morphic form dragons.

The empowered growth option on the dragon and giant could be interesting - I'm worried about the balance ramifications of a large-huge sized PC, but putting it in utility form seems like a good way to ask the player "do you really want this?"

You did a good job making the flight mechanics consistent. Even the sprite got an improved version, allowing it to keep its flight speed and bypass the altitude restriction of the player is willing to pay for it.

I'll get back to you on the classes when I have more time.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:27 pm

I dunno about people necessarily going for the Dragon-Man option... you get natural weapons as good as any you'd be proficient with (and which you can apply weapon specializations to), a built-in ranged attack that's as good as any ranged weapon you'd be proficient with, natural armor/shields that are as good as any you're proficient with automatically and you can still carry items and use implements (which I specifically wrote in as part of the design). You only really have trouble with fine fiddly things (you can't really pick locks or fasten buckles), but get flight in exchange (which the Dragon-Man option does not).

My main reason for implementing it was that it made my flight mechanics less fiddly. To fly you already needed to not be carrying anything in your hands (I envisioned my dragons as more like Smaug or Game of Thrones where their wings are also their forelimbs with fingers at the tips) so in a general sense the Bestial Form is a bit LESS restrictive since you could now be holding an implement or other items while flying.

That, and my desire for more variety in dragons (since each is an elemental spirit taking corporeal form they're significantly more mutable in shape than most species) is one of the reasons why I reworked their natural weapons feature so that their natural weapon could take the form of ANY melee weapon. Since most 4E style characters really only use one melee (or paired melee) and one ranged weapon (which the dragon has covered with its breath) it seemed like a solid solution (and yes, you could choose a reach weapon if desired... though you won't get to use your wings as shields since those are generally two-handed).

As for the empowered growth, there's a reason I required level 6 and 11 and why it takes two power selections to get huge. The main benefit of each size boost is being able to threaten 4 additional squares (a medium creature threatens 8, a large threatens 12 and a huge threatens 16) and carry 50% or 100% more than normal. The fact that it isn't permanent growth (dragons and giants are spirits in corporeal form... size is matter of convenience for them... something worth remembering when you try to get away from a huge elder dragon by hiding someplace only a medium creature could fit) also helps keep there from being situations where a dragon or giant absolutely cannot participate due to their stature.

Never the less... I've started playtesting in earnest (I'm only one class and a couple of background features from having that portion complete... barring performance reviews) and one of my players has made a Dragon Shifter Barbarian for their first test run (we're basically running a fight, leveling up, running another fight, leveling up, etc. to get through as many permutations as possible). I'll probably insist they take the growth options just to be sure they're not too overpowered (though I think the real test will be with a fighter since its the only guardian whose taunting is primarily based around an aura effect that would grow with size).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:05 am

When you put it that way, the empowered growth feature isn't that bad - trading a utility choice (and the resultant opportunity cost) and a minor action for being able to threaten additional squares.

In regards to dragon-man versus bestial form, I was thinking about the fine fiddly stuff, but I neglected to actually say it. Whoops.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:31 am

Onto the classes:

The pantheon you developed for this world is filled with archetypes that resonate with mythology: the sky lord, the master of the forge, the lord of the sea, a literal lady luck, etc. I'm getting a very Greco-Roman vibe from these guys, like you recast the Greek gods as good people ('cause let's face it, Hades was the only sane one in that group, discounting the bit with Persephone).

I can see why you altered the cleric's mantle - aside from the separation of armor and weapon/implement features, it's identical to the shaman. I can even see where you copied and pasted from the shaman: "numerical benefits from multiple spirits of the same type stack" and the Divine Benevolence feature. That's not a bad thing at all, though.

I find it interesting that both the cleric and the paladin embrace a true polytheism that the D&D versions eschew entirely. In D&D, a cleric would be one of Moradin and that's it. A TNT cleric could go that route through a narrow selection of domains and powers, but a truly polytheistic cleric, one who accepts all gods of that pantheon, has a much wider variety of choices.

Speaking of the paladin, the knight's challenge is really interesting. I see bits of both the blade warder's guardian aura (the auto damage and range) and the shifter's threatening roar (the stickiness part, wherein the target can avoid a reactive strike by shifting closer). This isn't a criticism, either, since there are only so many ways to make a character a good defender.

I'm a little worried about the knight's oath and its ability to let the blackguard and inquisitor deal the required amount of damage, but your version of the reroll can occur much more often, since it's not just a melee attack, and you can switch targets on the fly. I wonder if something like Painful Oath (extra main stat damage the first time you hit the target of your oath each turn) would be needed. This is definitely something that could use playtesting just to see the in-field results.

I noticed that you gave both the cleric and the paladin the religious training feature - it looks like the entire divine power origin will have it, just like how the entire primal power origin has the perceive spirits ability. I wonder why the spellblade doesn't have the arcane student feature that the mage and gadgeteer do. I presume that it's because you gave every spellblade the conjure weapon feature and opened the possibility of the spellblade only knowing combat-focused magic and certain spellblade characters being clueless about rituals, utility magic, etc.

Finally, the theurge. If I can try and predict what you are going to do, then it looks like you're avoiding the seeker's soft-control trap that neutered its effectiveness, instead going for a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" approach, applying hard control and harder control. I look forward to seeing what you do with the theurge (or whatever you decide to call it).
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:38 am

Yeah, I wanted a real dichotomy between the Divine and Primal classes where the primal religion is a pre-institutionalized monotheism (the only background with primal utilities is the barbarian) and the divine is an organized real polytheism (where the worship of multiple gods is the norm) instead of the multiple choice monotheism you see elsewhere.

Of course, one could just as easily re-fluff it the other way for your own world with a divine monotheistic god whose portfolio would legitimately be 'all things' and a primal animistic religion that worships the spirits in all things... but I wanted something a bit more unique for own setting.

Also, don't make a mistake that the 'Pantheon of Light' are necessarily 'good people'. They are the embodiments of their aspects... The Sky Father is Rulership and Law, not Justice and Mercy. The Earth Mother is not just nature tamed, but in its rawest and most savage form as well. The Sun God isn't just light, but the burning heat of the sun that can bake a man to death. The Lady of Dreams covets secrets and the Grey Huntress... well, who doesn't fear death personified when she comes for you?

Some who do not worship the divine powers also claim there's a reason the Pantheon of Light is so perfectly mirrored by the Pantheon of Darkness... that each is just the flip side of the same coin... that the Tyrant is just the Sky Father's darker aspect where powerlust overtakes just rulership and the Mother of Monsters is simply the Earth Mother experimenting with all the possible variations of nature in search of the perfect life form. Is it true or are they so mirrored because nature by its nature creates opposite numbers? I leave that to the individual GM to decide.

Its also important to note that, unlike the Greco-Roman view of the gods as creators of their chosen portfolios, the divine pantheons here are reflections of what already exists. The Sky Father is the reflection of the concept of rulership and law in the mortal world... as the nature of rulership in the world turns so to does the Sky Father change with the times (and now I have a vision of one of the past ages where the world looked rather like the Legend of Korra where the god of rulership and law was embodied as 'President Sky').

As to the Knight's Oath. I meant to mention this previously but I actually ran the math out on it and while it lacks the high burst damage of the other slayers, the effect of roll twice and use the better ends up boosting the hit rate against an even level target from 60% to about 85% which greatly increases the average damage they can deal over time.

For example, a 1st level Striker fighter with an 4 Dex gets to add four damage to their hits, but because they hit only 60% of the time that's actually only an increase of 2.4 damage per round overall.

By comparison, at 1st level a Knight's Oath will raise the damage per round from 6.3 to 8.92 or +2.62 damage per round, slightly better than the striker's damage bump.

This holds throughout the levels. At 15th level the Striker should be doing +15 damage when they hit or +9 damage per round when you take the 60% hit rate into account. At 15th level the Knight's Oath will boost the average damage per round from about 27 without the Oath to 38 with it... or +11 damage damage per round.

So basically its slightly better than the Striker fighter at damage over time (great if you're trying to burn down a tougher monster) and against higher level monsters (it can still hit a level +6 monster more than 50% of the time where the slayer would only be hitting 30% of the time), but slightly worse at alpha-striking and against weaker monsters.

As to the Spellbade... that's basically the idea. You'll also note that the Primal classes' universal Perceive Spirits ability is just a language and being able to use Nature (i.e. Wisdom which is Primal's strong score) for detecting magic... not full access to a background. Basically it came down to a 'feel' thing. The Mage needed to be able to access the Arcanist utilities because otherwise it would basically be locked into one background if it wanted anything as simple as cantrips. The Cleric and Paladin by extension got access to the Religious for basically the same reason.

That said, now that it's virtually complete the Gadgeteer will actually no longer be getting free access to the Arcanist background utilities. Instead they'll have access to utilities from the Artisan background (utilities like Rapid Jury Rig, Monkeywrencher and Trapsmith are a much better fit).

I also have the results of my first playtest, which I'll get into when I get back from snagging breakfast.

*********

Edited to Add:

The playtest actually went pretty quickly. Once the group had figured out how to read my hyper-condensed notation formats and what the differences from 4E were even the 10 year old was able to make a character pretty quickly and a longtime veteran compared ease of characterization as being easier than early editions of Shadowrun which he considered to the easiest character generation he's ever done previously (assign priorities, make a few choices and go is how he described it).

We ended up with a Pixie Traveler Rogue (Thief), a Golem Courtesan Spellblade (Sorcerous) and a Dragon Barbarian Shifter (Beast Form Warden) and the first test was the ubiquitous Bandit Ambush en route to the dungeon; a balanced encounter with one human highwayman, one human brigand and four human thugs of equal level to the party. The lack of a healer made things a bit tense and bad Perception rolls meant only the Brigand who was standing out for all to see was noticed, letting the Highwayman delay until the Spellblade had moved up and pulled the Brigand to him with a spellbolt.

The Highwayman then jumped out of the bushes, flanking the Spellblade and taking off half his hit points due to him being isolated. The rest of the party moved in and got the Brigand down to about 4 hit points when the thugs jumps out of four different bushes and took their shots, hitting the dragon twice for a total of 10 points (of 30) and the thief for 5 (of 24). Then the Brigand went again and smacked the dragon for more 10 points (so just 10 left). At this point everyone decided burning some surges for extra actions to try and take down the enemies as quickly as possible was warranted.

They were able to survive the fight and between the three of them using extra actions and healing back up after the fight consumed about 3 surges each (the dragon 4, the spellblade 3 and the thief 2) which was basically the surge limit per encounter so at least my math is about on point (if they hadn't of spent the surges for extra attacks they probably would have taken enough damage to eat three surges worth of healing).

The only thing I did notice and which I'll probably need to revise is that, once you get your bonus surge for surviving a fight, each of the PC's was really only down about 2 surges on average and that this was without an enabler to make surges more efficient with easily 6+ more fights in them before they'd need to take an extended rest. That's a BIT more than I was thinking they'd have in terms of long term survivability, especially without an enabler on hand... but I don't know that its necessarily BAD since the surge limit per encounter keeps them from being used to nova everything. The big thing I'll need to watch is once we've leveled up a bit more whether or not the fights per day they can handle starts to drop as the surge limit per battle increases.

So far nothing has broken, but I'm going to be adding an enabler to the party for the next round of tests to see how that affects surge expenditures. I suspect that I may need to cut some of the initial heroic surges out of the classes (7 instead of 9 for example) and then increase the number you get as you level up (say +2 at 6 and 11 instead of +1 at 6 and 11). It'd be the same number overall, but keep the earlier levels from being too much of a cakewalk.

I'm potentially getting a second group of testers going this evening and might even have an entire another game group (whose rapidly grown disillusioned with 5e) run tests for me as well. I'll keep everyone apprised.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:37 pm

Yeah, the multiple choice monotheism is really only a thing in D&D and derived works - real monotheism tends to have an all-encompassing deity like the Judeo-Christian faiths.

As far as the Pantheon of Light, I hadn't considered that. Perhaps they are more like the Olympians than I previously thought. Having them change with the times is rather worrying, given the state of a typical fantasy world.

You mention the refluffing back to divine monotheism and primal animism. If I ever got a chance to play or DM thisI would probably do that, but have the pantheon be religious orders or sects that emphasize certain aspects of God. But as a default setting, your reversal of the usual order is a good way to make the default setting stand out.

In regards to the knight's oath, I knew that there would be extra damage on an average thanks to the rerolling, I just didn't figure on how much. I also didn't account for the oath being much less restrictive than the avenger's oath. As a side note, I noticed this with the avenger, inquisitor, spellblade, summoner, and shaman: any weapon could be used as an implement, including ranged weapons. Bow-based casters are built into the system rather than being a feat-intensive option (or a half-baked class, like the seeker).

Re: Backgrounds: Giving a way for the mage, cleric, and paladin to do non-combat power origin stuff automatically is perfectly reasonable. A mage would have to go out of his or her way to just choose combat magic, whereas a spellblade is a combat magic specialist, no matter where they come from. Moving the gadgeteer's default background to artisan is perfect - after all, how many gadgeteers are already going to select it anyway? Some classes have default backgrounds that you have to go out of your way to subvert (divine classes, the mage, the gadgeteer), while the rest are more mutable in terms of origin and fluff.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:45 pm

The heros of greek myth always seemed to have two divine relationships.. which were significant to their lives. One was an ally often a parent... and the other was an adversary who made life interesting.

While they might worship / give lip service to the others they tended to only receive significant active blessings from one. Shrug.

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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: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Thu Mar 19, 2015 4:45 pm

So, I've gotten in three more rounds of play-testing. First, a repeat of the first scenario with a different group (this time with a more balanced guardian, slayer and enabler mix). Then a goblin fight (an archer, ambusher and four minions in a ruin providing cover and dim light to maximize their stealth abilities) with the second group which went about as expected and then an over-leveled (a level 4.5 encounter against third level PC's) consisting of one of each Orc and the Ogre champion which was tense and scary and the players feeling like they narrowly survived (which is true).

The goblin encounter was nothing to write home about, but it did confirm my observations from the repeat of the first encounter... that with an enabler on scene the party could basically take on a number of equal level encounters equal to each character's heroic surges before they'd need to rest... which is a little more durable than I was hoping.

On the other hand the ogre and two orcs vs. three PC's encounter was a major challenge. The party burned through about four surges each both during and recovering from the battle. Despite being down to about twenty hit points (enough for the Ogre or Orc warrior to one-shot him), the slayer asked if he could burn his two remaining heroic surges on extra attacks in the same round the skald had rendered the Ogre vulnerable simply because the ogre was doing SO much damage that the skald had no HOPE of keeping up with the damage output... I allowed it, it was quite awesome because he did just barely enough damage to drop the ogre before it could take another action (and with two PC's at under 21 hit points and the Orc Warrior still alive at the time it could have easily been a TPK if he had not done so).

The nice thing about all these battles is that they've been very fast paced. We got through all three battles, plus leveling up in between each fight, in just about two hours and yet each one felt pretty substantial.

My first real glitch got exposed though in that once you got past the first round, the rogue and gadgeteer enablers are going to be at a significant disadvantage to the cleric and the cleric at a slight disadvantage to the shaman due to the minor action cost of deploying their various buffs and the fact that, once the damage starts rolling in from the monsters, that minor action is going to need to be used pretty much every round of the fight just to keep the party's hit points up (the orc warrior and the ogre were doing 21 points per hit and the soldier was doing 14 per hit... the skald could heal 17-19 (depending on the surge healing value of the ally) to one target as a minor action if they burnt focus on the action.

Although they can still attack (though there were two rounds during the ogre/orc fight where the skald had to use both actions for Inspiring Words just due to the orc warrior hitting and the ogre hitting twice in the same round basically bloodying the entire party in one turn) the Enablers feel a LOT like healbots at the moment because all their other cool toys are stuck in a box they can't use as healing takes a priority.

The shaman and cleric at least get their auras and can use their minor actions to heal, even if the cleric's is limited to one spot you'll have to stand your ground in and you won't be able to change the effects once battle begins in earnest, but the gadgeteer and rogue enablers may as well not have their minor action buffs.

The other thing we ran into was that the archer guardian fighter needs to be able to taunt more than one target with guardian's taunt because it can't rely on its guardian's aura to keep them locked in. Likewise they're having a bit of difficulty with foes who get into melee range with them (though if they get a PC to screen them they can create some devastating catch-22's).

I'm looking into a couple of options for addressing these issues for my next update and which I'll elaborate on later tonight. For now, the weekly family dinner out awaits.

ETA: So, in terms of addressing the above issues, the first thing I'm looking at is to change the surge-based healing powers for enablers from a minor action into either a free action that triggers in conjunction with their other minor action enabler powers (i.e. use a rogue trick or deploy gadgets and such and you can also allow one target to spend a surge to heal and gain additional healing if you spend focus on the action) or to keep it as a minor action but allow the rogue/gadgeteer version to apply one of their tricks/gadgets to the target in addition to the healing (the cleric and shaman automatically apply effects to their aura/zone so they wouldn't need that buff). I don't want to do something like make it a free action and then simply limit it to 1/turn simply because there were definitely points in the combat where sacrificing your attack to heal two allies was the better choice for an enabler to make to keep the party up and running... or even spending a surge for an extra action to heal a third ally might be necessary.

The other half of that is that healing will likely need to be buffed to keep up with the increase in damage output of the monsters and/or that the damage of the 'striker,' 'ambusher' and elite/champion monsters needs to be toned down a bit so that they're not wiping out a third to half a PC's hit points with a single attack (something that remains true even at max level currently). The trick is going to be figuring out what balance of those two is going to be the most fun for combats, because having players worried whether their characters will live or die in a given fight keeps it suspenseful... but making it impossible for an enabler to do more than slow the rate of attrition isn't going to be much fun for the enabler either... especially when you end up with a single enabler having to worry not just about two other PC's these tests had (and the correspondingly fewer monsters), but when they've got to keep three or even four other PC's up and running with just one or two (if they forgo attacking) heals per round.

As to the Archer Guardian... that one's pretty simple, increase the range of their taunt, give them the ability to use their ranged weapon to make reactive strikes against adjacent targets without provoking a reactive strike themselves and give them proficiency with their ranged weapons as bludgeons (probably doing one die type less than their ranged damage... so a longbow would be equal to a staff at +2/1d8 damage, a crossbow or shortbow would be equal to a club at +2/1d6 damage and a hand crossbow or sling would be equal to an improvised weapon at +2/1d4 damage.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:25 pm

In regards to the rogue/gadgeteer, both sound like great options: the first one encourages the player to use buff effects, while the second one hands out a free buff that would go along with the healing in terms of class buff. I find the first one more elegant, but I wouldn't object to either one.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:12 pm

So I've uploaded a rather sizable update today. In addition to fixing the Enabler healing issue, tweaking heroic surges and monster damage to get things more in line with what I'm shooting for that I've mentioned previously there are some significant additions.

The latest update (if you don't want to scroll up to a previous link) can be found Here.

First, the Theurge class and Artisan, Commoner and Entertainer backgrounds finish out the outline stage for races/classes/backgrounds for the project. Not to say there won't be improvements and tweaks, because there certainly will be, but the core of the player portion of the design is now in the can.

Next up, the Changeling option was added to the Elven race. Basically these are elves who've held onto some of the morphic nature of the realm of dreams from which they hail.

As part of designing the Theurge, the Wizard build of the Mage has gained Area Focus, allowing them to spend focus to offset the penalties they take for using an attack spell as an area power.

Also updated was Sniper's Watch for the Guardian Fighter builds. It now allows Strength to be used in place of DEX for ranged attacks, opening it up to Knights as well as Harriers and has been tweaked to improve performance. Guardian Taunt was also tweaked to clarify that ranged reactive strikes only apply if the target makes an attack that does not include you as a target, not shifting (which was WAY too strong at range as it set up situations where enemies were essentially Held unless they took damage just by not having a ranged attack).

I also took the time to hammer out a complete Weapon List and a full write-up of all the Implement properties (including their range).

Finally, I've designed a prototype character sheet (it will be fillable eventually, but not yet) that can be found Here.

Next up is going to more monsters. A LOT more. My goal is 200+ for the project (which if the majority are level agnostic makes them far more flexible). I also need to put some official encounter building guidelines into the document before too long (the gist is that a balanced encounter is an XP budget of 40+20/level per PC in the party will be a balanced fight. A level+1 fight will be easily doable, a level+2 fight will probably be rough going and a level+3 fight has a good chance of a TPK).

Based on solicitations from my local playtest groups I'm currently working on an Egyptian themed set of critters based around the Gnoll followers of the Mother of Monsters complete with an evil priestess, gnoll inquisitors, war jackels, mummies and mutant man-eating scarabs.

I think that designing the monsters as part of themes/encounters is probably the best way to go about designing these things (then fill in the gaps at the tail end). So if you've got anything you specifically want to see, let me know and I'll add it to the list.
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PostSubject: Re: I'm not actually dead (4E legacy project update)   Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:36 am

I like what I see of the theurge: the sanctions may be fewer in number, but that's because they are really two effects in one. I thought that each dictate only matched up with the sanction on the same line, but upon rereading the text, I'm now wondering if you can customize your sanctions, mixing and matching the dictates and sanctions. As a side note, the theurge's secondary stats are both expected, given that it's invoker lite. My only concern here is yet another naming question: divine sanction is a paladin ability in 4e, while I couldn't find anything about it in 3.5 after an admittedly cursory search. Other than that, I really like the sanctions and how they separate the class from the other three controllers.

Something I noticed more recently: the skill domain combined with the paladin would allow for a cha primary paladin. A cavalier or blackguard wouldn't be able to make much use of this, given their need for heavy armor, but a melee-oriented avenger or inquisitor could pick the skill domain and pump up Intelligence instead of Dexterity as their second stat, all while using their focus stat as their primary attack stat. I'm not sure if you're still leery of the single extra focus in this situation (4 vs 3), but it's just something that I wanted to mention.

The five new backgrounds are nice to see as well: the artisan is basically the legal skill monkey in contrast to the outlaw's illegal skill monkey shenanigans. One problem I noticed is that the artisan, commoner, and entertainer have all sixteen skills listed. This is obviously a copy-paste glitch. Going off of the utilities listed, I think the intended skills are as follows:

Artisan: Arcana, Diplomacy, Endurance, Engineering, Heal, History, Insight, Perception
Commoner: Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, Heal, Intimidate, Stealth, Streetwise
Entertainer: Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Streetwise, Thievery

Your idea of Egyptian-themed gnolls is quite frankly awesome: it does something with them that even 4e didn't pull off: give them a hook besides being hyena-themed Reavers. I look forward to seeing what else you come up with.
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