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 My 4e Clone: Points of Light

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AbdulAlhazred
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:06 am

Chris24601 wrote:
ToeSama wrote:
Balancing 4e powers to be more open is completely different from balancing 4e powers to fit a classless system.
I will definitely agree with this. It's hard enough balancing factors for the classes I'm working on in my not-so-retroclone where a class can either be a defender or striker, controller or striker, or a leader or striker. The only reason I could even go that far is because the primary striker feature is just 'more damage' and because I specifically created a distinct 'controller' feature that was not just baked into their powers.

Even so, the striker version of the mage has a definite secondary of controller (i.e. more rider effects on the target compared to say a rogue) and the striker version of the fighter has echoes of being defender-ish (at-wills that can be used to hinder a target's movement for example). Which is actually a good thing as it keeps all the strikers (there are twelve variants; one for each class) from feeling alike.

That has potential. Instead of having any explicit striker classes you'd have source powers for each source that are fundamentally strikery high damage powers. Then each class would have a role and some powers that are appropriate to that role. There would still ALSO be a class feature for each class that reinforced its role. So 'fireball' would be a high damage power, but the wizard version would throw all the bad guys to the ground, the bard version would give your allies a burning aura, and the swordmage version would mark them all.

I'm not real clear though on how you would explain that in rules and exactly how it would actually work. I hate the idea of class-specific riders on generic powers, why bother? So the question is how do you write up a class feature for say bard that applies some sort of an ally buff to the effects of every power use? It sounds tricky to do.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:35 am

Thanks for the replies, folks! Since I last posted in July, I've gone ahead with this power scaling idea -- which was apparently part of the original 4e plan, before some high-up told the team "Padding splatbooks out with non-scaling powers'll be a great way to sell product!" -- and I think it's going to turn out better than my original power plan. There are of course potential problems that I'm working carefully to avoid, and when I get the PoL alpha version up I'll be asking the community to find any holes that I may have missed.

I'm not going to reply to many of the insightful replies that have been posted in the last three days, because the bottom line is this: Writing power lists is very time-consuming, so ideas that drastically cut down on the number of powers I need to write get many bonus points in my book. The powers-by-power-source thing has been a part of PoL from the beginning, and I'm now pretty dedicated to scaling powers as well. If either idea turns out to be disastrous, well, different gamers have different ideas of 'disastrous' so I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:15 am

Duskweaver wrote:
You could solve this problem with class/role-specific riders, or even with class features that interact with the powers in various ways.

Chris24601 wrote:
I will definitely agree with this. It's hard enough balancing factors for the classes I'm working on in my not-so-retroclone where a class can either be a defender or striker, controller or striker, or a leader or striker. The only reason I could even go that far is because the primary striker feature is just 'more damage' and because I specifically created a distinct 'controller' feature that was not just baked into their powers.

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
I'm not real clear though on how you would explain that in rules and exactly how it would actually work. I hate the idea of class-specific riders on generic powers, why bother? So the question is how do you write up a class feature for say bard that applies some sort of an ally buff to the effects of every power use? It sounds tricky to do.

Like Chris, I've given each controller a control-y feature so that they don't need straight-up better powers. For example, the invoker's feature is:

Divine Empowerment
Action: No Action
Limits: Personal
Trigger: You use a holy attack
Effect: Alter the attack in one way:
Additional Area: Add 2 to the attack’s area if it’s a cone; add 1 if it’s a ball; add 4 if it’s a wall.
Damage Penalty: Choose one target. If you hit that target, it takes a -5 power penalty to damage (save ends). If the attack would impose a power penalty to damage anyway, increase that amount by 5.
Level 11: -10 power penalty, or increase by 10.
Level 21: -15 power penalty, or increase by 15.
Special: You can use this power once per round.

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

There are currently twenty PoL classes -- four classes per power source, five power sources -- and the lineup is a big departure from D&D's lineup. Whereas D&D's classes occupy a wide spectrum from 'very conceptually generic' to 'very conceptually specific,' PoL's classes are all very generic within their power sources. For example, the arcane power source is much more specific in PoL than it is in D&D -- it's all about tricksy mind-powers, with some force effects and teleportation sprinkled in here and there -- but the arcane classes are conceptually very similar to each other. There is no artificer, bard, or warlock, because I'm of the opinion that such specific concepts work best as feats or paragon paths or even entirely different power sources. Anyhow, this new class lineup is how I've been able to [relatively] easily give each class a distinctly role-based and flavorful feature.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:53 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
That has potential. Instead of having any explicit striker classes you'd have source powers for each source that are fundamentally strikery high damage powers. Then each class would have a role and some powers that are appropriate to that role. There would still ALSO be a class feature for each class that reinforced its role. So 'fireball' would be a high damage power, but the wizard version would throw all the bad guys to the ground, the bard version would give your allies a burning aura, and the swordmage version would mark them all.
No, you misunderstand. There are no common pools at all in my setup.

Rather, each class will have build options that will let it either be a defender/controller/leader (depending on class) or a striker. For example, the Rogue class is the archetypical 'Guile Hero' class (a hero who uses his cleverness and/or charm to accomplish their goals) and can be built as either a striker (thief, assassin or brigand) or as a leader (skald, marshal, or sidekick). All those builds share the same at-wills/encounters/utilities (based on leveraging tricks and tactics to achieve an edge of your enemies), but the striker build gets a class feature that lets it deal sneak attack damage while the leader build gets a feature that lets it grant any personal benefit from its powers (bonuses to attack or defense for example) to a nearby ally instead of to it itself.

Likewise, the Ranger is the archetypical 'Fast/Precise Hero' and, depending on their build, can either use that speed/precision to damage their foes (striker build) or to debilitate them (controller role). The Fighter rounds out the martial classes as the archetypical 'Strong Hero' and uses their strength to either defend their allies (defender build) or punish their foes (striker build).

C4 wrote:
There are currently twenty PoL classes -- four classes per power source, five power sources -- and the lineup is a big departure from D&D's lineup. Whereas D&D's classes occupy a wide spectrum from 'very conceptually generic' to 'very conceptually specific,' PoL's classes are all very generic within their power sources. For example, the arcane power source is much more specific in PoL than it is in D&D -- it's all about tricksy mind-powers, with some force effects and teleportation sprinkled in here and there -- but the arcane classes are conceptually very similar to each other. There is no artificer, bard, or warlock, because I'm of the opinion that such specific concepts work best as feats or paragon paths or even entirely different power sources. Anyhow, this new class lineup is how I've been able to [relatively] easily give each class a distinctly role-based and flavorful feature.
Nice to see you posting again. I was a bit worried your project had died on the vine. Its nice to know I'm not the only one still working on a 4E legacy project.

What I appreciate about your work is that it shows how people can take two very different directions coming out of 4E and both be valid approaches to design. You seem to be building towards a 'conceptually generic' set-up (artificer, bard and warlock as maybe just a feat and all the arcane classes are all just slight variations on mental/force/teleport effects) while I'm going the opposite direction towards 'conceptually specific' classes/builds where each class within each power source has its own distinctive subset of things that its focused on (ex. each of the three martial classes is built towards one of three specific heroic archetypes... the strong hero, the fast hero and the guile hero).

Your focus seems to be on a rather generic tool kit for people to use, while mine is specifically plugging my design work into an elaborate campaign world so that everything has a specific context to it and to make it less generic fantasy. Both are valid and I suspect that each approach appeals our own personal design ethos.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:34 am

C4 wrote:
Thanks for the replies, folks! Since I last posted in July, I've gone ahead with this power scaling idea -- which was apparently part of the original 4e plan, before some high-up told the team "Padding splatbooks out with non-scaling powers'll be a great way to sell product!" -- and I think it's going to turn out better than my original power plan. There are of course potential problems that I'm working carefully to avoid, and when I get the PoL alpha version up I'll be asking the community to find any holes that I may have missed.

I'm not going to reply to many of the insightful replies that have been posted in the last three days, because the bottom line is this: Writing power lists is very time-consuming, so ideas that drastically cut down on the number of powers I need to write get many bonus points in my book. The powers-by-power-source thing has been a part of PoL from the beginning, and I'm now pretty dedicated to scaling powers as well. If either idea turns out to be disastrous, well, different gamers have different ideas of 'disastrous' so I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Yeah, no doubt. I once estimated you could cut the total inventory of 4e powers down to about 300 by using source pooled powers, scaling powers, compressed levels, and more extensive theme power lists. Well, that was a few years ago, maybe 500 is a more reailistic target if you cover every class that 4e did. Still, 500 is doable if you don't try to build it all at once and do the higher level stuff as-needed.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:44 am

Chris24601 wrote:
AbdulAlhazred wrote:
That has potential. Instead of having any explicit striker classes you'd have source powers for each source that are fundamentally strikery high damage powers. Then each class would have a role and some powers that are appropriate to that role. There would still ALSO be a class feature for each class that reinforced its role. So 'fireball' would be a high damage power, but the wizard version would throw all the bad guys to the ground, the bard version would give your allies a burning aura, and the swordmage version would mark them all.
No, you misunderstand. There are no common pools at all in my setup.

Rather, each class will have build options that will let it either be a defender/controller/leader (depending on class) or a striker. For example, the Rogue class is the archetypical 'Guile Hero' class (a hero who uses his cleverness and/or charm to accomplish their goals) and can be built as either a striker (thief, assassin or brigand) or as a leader (skald, marshal, or sidekick). All those builds share the same at-wills/encounters/utilities (based on leveraging tricks and tactics to achieve an edge of your enemies), but the striker build gets a class feature that lets it deal sneak attack damage while the leader build gets a feature that lets it grant any personal benefit from its powers (bonuses to attack or defense for example) to a nearby ally instead of to it itself.

Likewise, the Ranger is the archetypical 'Fast/Precise Hero' and, depending on their build, can either use that speed/precision to damage their foes (striker build) or to debilitate them (controller role). The Fighter rounds out the martial classes as the archetypical 'Strong Hero' and uses their strength to either defend their allies (defender build) or punish their foes (striker build).

C4 wrote:
There are currently twenty PoL classes -- four classes per power source, five power sources -- and the lineup is a big departure from D&D's lineup. Whereas D&D's classes occupy a wide spectrum from 'very conceptually generic' to 'very conceptually specific,' PoL's classes are all very generic within their power sources. For example, the arcane power source is much more specific in PoL than it is in D&D -- it's all about tricksy mind-powers, with some force effects and teleportation sprinkled in here and there -- but the arcane classes are conceptually very similar to each other. There is no artificer, bard, or warlock, because I'm of the opinion that such specific concepts work best as feats or paragon paths or even entirely different power sources. Anyhow, this new class lineup is how I've been able to [relatively] easily give each class a distinctly role-based and flavorful feature.
Nice to see you posting again. I was a bit worried your project had died on the vine. Its nice to know I'm not the only one still working on a 4E legacy project.

What I appreciate about your work is that it shows how people can take two very different directions coming out of 4E and both be valid approaches to design. You seem to be building towards a 'conceptually generic' set-up (artificer, bard and warlock as maybe just a feat and all the arcane classes are all just slight variations on mental/force/teleport effects) while I'm going the opposite direction towards 'conceptually specific' classes/builds where each class within each power source has its own distinctive subset of things that its focused on (ex. each of the three martial classes is built towards one of three specific heroic archetypes... the strong hero, the fast hero and the guile hero).

Your focus seems to be on a rather generic tool kit for people to use, while mine is specifically plugging my design work into an elaborate campaign world so that everything has a specific context to it and to make it less generic fantasy. Both are valid and I suspect that each approach appeals our own personal design ethos.

Having played with building a class hierarchy in a few different ways myself I think its all basically semantics. You end up with roughly 3 'layers', which 4e called Source, Class, and Theme/Subclass (they weren't too coherent at the lowest level). You can shift a whole lot of stuff into source, but then you simply turn it into what is now in 4e class. You can shift more things down into Theme or Subclass, but in effect those become classes and your classes end up more like sources (with basically everything under 'wizard', and if you have other arcane classes they're barely different). What really matters is what can be combined with what, that's the expressiveness part of the system. You want to maximize that, AND at the same time guide people so they can make their thematically desirable choices.

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to do this may well be to simply provide an ala-carte system where you choose a character concept from a list of whatever you want to call them, lets say 'themes' and then build out from there, using a recipe if the concept is fairly generic or ubiquitous but having the choice to simply go your own way if not.

Min/maxers will be a thorn in your side with this kind of setup, but I'm working on that.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:05 am

Chris24601 wrote:
Nice to see you posting again. I was a bit worried your project had died on the vine. Its nice to know I'm not the only one still working on a 4E legacy project.

Nope, you're not alone! I'm still plugging away at PoL, but my real life responsibilities are making it a much slower process than I had hoped. Sad

Chris24601 wrote:
What I appreciate about your work is that it shows how people can take two very different directions coming out of 4E and both be valid approaches to design. You seem to be building towards a 'conceptually generic' set-up (artificer, bard and warlock as maybe just a feat and all the arcane classes are all just slight variations on mental/force/teleport effects) while I'm going the opposite direction towards 'conceptually specific' classes/builds where each class within each power source has its own distinctive subset of things that its focused on (ex. each of the three martial classes is built towards one of three specific heroic archetypes... the strong hero, the fast hero and the guile hero).

Going in the more specific direction sounds like a lot of fun! I went in the generic direction for a few reasons, one of which being that I think specificity is fun to play toward. That is, you're somewhat of a generic nobody for the first ten levels -- not as much of a generic nobody as an OD&D fighter, but nothing super-special either. I like the idea of specificity being special, and building ambition to attain that special-ness by putting it on a higher-level pedestal. Or maybe I just have difficulty conceptualizing what PPs and EDs should be, if PCs are already very specific by the time they reach higher levels. confused

On a side note, one of the things that has bugged me about D&D for a while is its vast spectrum of class specificity, as I mentioned. 4e is better than other editions in this regard due to the elimination of alignment restrictions and the ease of refluffing things. Prior editions go from super-generic (fighter) to 'one step away from being a pregen PC' (paladin). But even in 4e, the range is a bit too wide for my taste. Or maybe it's just an organizational thing; if say, the artificer had its own magitech power source rather than being shoehorned in with the arcane classes, and there were magitech classes to cover the other three combat roles, I think I'd be perfectly happy with it.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:26 am

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Having played with building a class hierarchy in a few different ways myself I think its all basically semantics. You end up with roughly 3 'layers', which 4e called Source, Class, and Theme/Subclass (they weren't too coherent at the lowest level). You can shift a whole lot of stuff into source, but then you simply turn it into what is now in 4e class. You can shift more things down into Theme or Subclass, but in effect those become classes and your classes end up more like sources (with basically everything under 'wizard', and if you have other arcane classes they're barely different). What really matters is what can be combined with what, that's the expressiveness part of the system. You want to maximize that, AND at the same time guide people so they can make their thematically desirable choices.

Yes, to some degree how a game arranges sources, classes, and builds/themes is a case of 'six of one, half a dozen of the other.' What matters is how players perceive the arrangement, and to that end I may end up rearranging PoL chargen from 'Pick one of twenty classes, each one of which happens to be a combination of a source and role' to 'Pick one of five classes/sources, and then pick one of four roles.' Because honestly, 'source + role' is often how I present 4e classes to brand new players, and how I'm thinking of my PoL classes. This setup creates another chargen decision-point, but both decision-points become smaller.

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
I've come to the conclusion that the best way to do this may well be to simply provide an ala-carte system where you choose a character concept from a list of whatever you want to call them, lets say 'themes' and then build out from there, using a recipe if the concept is fairly generic or ubiquitous but having the choice to simply go your own way if not.

Min/maxers will be a thorn in your side with this kind of setup, but I'm working on that.

Haha, well they are every ambitious game designer's natural enemy. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:35 am

spock42 wrote:
when you get your first encounter power you pick the best, then you pick the second best, then the third best. so instead of getting a cool and good power when you level you get that power that was not good enough 5 levels ago. when you get to epic you might stop caring what powers you get altogether, after all how good could a power be if you decided three times not to pick it?

I've been thinking about this concern, and realized that tying higher-level powers to PPs and EDs -- as I queried about in my July post -- might be a neat and clean way to avoid the potential problem. You'd still be picking one encounter power and one daily power independently of other level-up decisions, but afterward you'd be choosing the best PP and then the best ED. Ideally, there'll be no 'best' anything of course, but for the sake of discussion...

Thoughts, anyone?
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:54 am

I think you might just make ALL higher level powers PP or ED powers, and the player always still has the choice to pick class or source powers if they wish. So there are a lot of options there. You could pick another source power, even though you may already have taken the best one the second best may synergize with your new PP. You could take the PP's power, and choose either a PP that amplifies your basic class (IE WotST for a Wizard) so its basically pretty much like another better class power, OR you could pick a very different PP and take its power, branching out into a new direction (IE take a PP that gives you bow powers and become an arcane archer). Lots of possibilities exist.

As for your observations about the diversity of 'levels of specificity' that classic D&D classes exist at, that's always been an issue. It is just a historical one with D&D. The original game was pretty coherent with Fighting Man, Cleric, and Magic User (and Thief fit reasonably well in there as well). Then they started in on more specific concepts, ranger, druid, assassin, etc. and its been awkward ever since. Things like Monk and Paladin are as you say almost pregens.

Personally though I think WotC went a bit askew on power source as well. Arcane is not a power source IMHO. 'Arcana' are just mysterious knowledge that very few people possess. Thus the 'arcane power source' just runs rampant and grew like a fungus in 4e.

I'd rather see power sources like Natural (primal), Elemental, Shadow, Divine, and Spirit (ki/martial). You can certainly have different sorts of casters operating from each source. Some are knowledge based "wizards" using many sources. Some are pact-bound "Warlocks" drawing power from one or possible a couple of sources that their patrons are associated with. Then you have your divine "priest" type casters and your various nature type "druidic" casters. You might also have casters drawing on their own internal power, manifesting something like psionics. Obviously you then have your warriors and whatnot that draw from the various sources as well, giving you barbarians, monks, knights, assassins, avengers, etc etc etc. There is MUCH less tendency for an 'arcane' catchall to swallow the whole system and the various sources remain much more distinct.

Note that I don't mention classes like "fighter" because really fighter is just too broad. There are potentially many sorts of characters that primarily fight with weapons and you can create several classes that fit into that mould, including something like a 'knight' which does your traditional 4e defender role (and you can of course reflavor these heavily so the 'medieval noble warrior' aspect can be downplayed if you wish). The other option of course would be to basically construct one or maybe 2 very broad archetypes from each source and then do it all with subclassing. In that case you'd have say fighter and rogue, and then subclass to paladin, ranger, thief, assassin, etc. (with obvious cross-source on some of them).
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:34 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
The other option of course would be to basically construct one or maybe 2 very broad archetypes from each source and then do it all with subclassing. In that case you'd have say fighter and rogue, and then subclass to paladin, ranger, thief, assassin, etc. (with obvious cross-source on some of them).

the problem with this is that it would be a concept tax in practice. if I am just playing a fighter I get to pick any subclass or feature I want. if I want to play a paladin I have no choice of subclass or feature I have to pick the "paladin" subclass.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:14 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Having played with building a class hierarchy in a few different ways myself I think its all basically semantics. You end up with roughly 3 'layers', which 4e called Source, Class, and Theme/Subclass (they weren't too coherent at the lowest level). You can shift a whole lot of stuff into source, but then you simply turn it into what is now in 4e class. You can shift more things down into Theme or Subclass, but in effect those become classes and your classes end up more like sources (with basically everything under 'wizard', and if you have other arcane classes they're barely different). What really matters is what can be combined with what, that's the expressiveness part of the system. You want to maximize that, AND at the same time guide people so they can make their thematically desirable choices.
That said, I do there are some mixes that are better than others for accomplishing a given play-style goal.

In my case I view the class selection system as a series of nested options to help define the type of hero you want your character to be. First you pick your broad heroic type (source); are you a hero who relies on their strength or skill? Do you wield arcane power? Do you receiver power from a divine being? Do you have power through your alliances with primal spirits? From there you start narrowing it down (class). Are you a strong hero? a fast hero? a guile hero? Then you narrow it down still further (build). Do you use your strength to protect your allies or do you use it to hammer your foes?

Mechanically speaking, a source is just a rough framework for certain common layouts. As an example, all my martial classes use at-will stances with encounter-level resources that are available based on the stance you're currently in. But each class (Fighter, Ranger and Rogue) has completely different stances/encounter-level power choices available to them (so each fights in a different way) and within each class are one or more role options (the fighter has two defender and two striker options) that run independent of which stances you pick for the character but which you choose does affect how you fight to an extent (a striker rogue will use its 'tricks and tactics' to benefit itself while a leader rogue will use its 'tricks and tactics' to benefit its allies).

C4 wrote:
Going in the more specific direction sounds like a lot of fun! I went in the generic direction for a few reasons, one of which being that I think specificity is fun to play toward. That is, you're somewhat of a generic nobody for the first ten levels -- not as much of a generic nobody as an OD&D fighter, but nothing super-special either. I like the idea of specificity being special, and building ambition to attain that special-ness by putting it on a higher-level pedestal. Or maybe I just have difficulty conceptualizing what PPs and EDs should be, if PCs are already very specific by the time they reach higher levels.
Like I said, two different approaches... each valid. My preference for specific direction is largely due to the fact that I want PC's in the set-up I'm devising to start out as heroes. Maybe not the biggest heroes around, but certainly the heroes of their local area (village, tribe or what have you) and a cut above a typical member of their profession (I'm including rules for 0-level characters if you want to start out without any sort of heroic edge).

Frankly, I've always preferred games where the PC's might actually be the ONLY heroic examples of their class in the entire world (or at least the only one in your present tier). There may be other practitioners of the arcane arts out there, but you're THE WIZARD who will unlock the deepest arcane secrets of the age and be remembered in legends for every age to come. In essence, depending on how you establish things in your world, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies might not even need to be a thing at all because being a paragon-tier Knight already makes you the paragon that all heroic-tier knights strive to become all on its own.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:06 am

Chris24601 wrote:

Frankly, I've always preferred games where the PC's might actually be the ONLY heroic examples of their class in the entire world (or at least the only one in your present tier). There may be other practitioners of the arcane arts out there, but you're THE WIZARD who will unlock the deepest arcane secrets of the age and be remembered in legends for every age to come. In essence, depending on how you establish things in your world, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies might not even need to be a thing at all because being a paragon-tier Knight already makes you the paragon that all heroic-tier knights strive to become all on its own.

Love that thinking. To me the players handbook being how to build a hero - not a description of the world.

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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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AbdulAlhazred
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:00 pm

spock42 wrote:
AbdulAlhazred wrote:
The other option of course would be to basically construct one or maybe 2 very broad archetypes from each source and then do it all with subclassing. In that case you'd have say fighter and rogue, and then subclass to paladin, ranger, thief, assassin, etc. (with obvious cross-source on some of them).

the problem with this is that it would be a concept tax in practice. if I am just playing a fighter I get to pick any subclass or feature I want. if I want to play a paladin I have no choice of subclass or feature I have to pick the "paladin" subclass.

I don't understand this. If you are a 'fighter' you pick things that work for the fighter. If you want to do something that a subclass does, you have to be in that subclass, which STILL gives you access to all the fighter stuff.

So, paladin gets fighter AND paladin, ranger gets fighter AND ranger. Honestly I would assume that EVERY PC would join some subclass or at least have a theme.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:19 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Having played with building a class hierarchy in a few different ways myself I think its all basically semantics. You end up with roughly 3 'layers', which 4e called Source, Class, and Theme/Subclass (they weren't too coherent at the lowest level). You can shift a whole lot of stuff into source, but then you simply turn it into what is now in 4e class. You can shift more things down into Theme or Subclass, but in effect those become classes and your classes end up more like sources (with basically everything under 'wizard', and if you have other arcane classes they're barely different). What really matters is what can be combined with what, that's the expressiveness part of the system. You want to maximize that, AND at the same time guide people so they can make their thematically desirable choices.
That said, I do there are some mixes that are better than others for accomplishing a given play-style goal.

In my case I view the class selection system as a series of nested options to help define the type of hero you want your character to be. First you pick your broad heroic type (source); are you a hero who relies on their strength or skill? Do you wield arcane power? Do you receiver power from a divine being? Do you have power through your alliances with primal spirits? From there you start narrowing it down (class). Are you a strong hero? a fast hero? a guile hero? Then you narrow it down still further (build). Do you use your strength to protect your allies or do you use it to hammer your foes?

Mechanically speaking, a source is just a rough framework for certain common layouts. As an example, all my martial classes use at-will stances with encounter-level resources that are available based on the stance you're currently in. But each class (Fighter, Ranger and Rogue) has completely different stances/encounter-level power choices available to them (so each fights in a different way) and within each class are one or more role options (the fighter has two defender and two striker options) that run independent of which stances you pick for the character but which you choose does affect how you fight to an extent (a striker rogue will use its 'tricks and tactics' to benefit itself while a leader rogue will use its 'tricks and tactics' to benefit its allies).
I'm leaning more towards a looser system. I think each class should have a power source, but I would then give you a bunch of 'package' choices. You want to be an archer? OK, you can have the archer package. If you want to be a ranger then you can also have the 'Wilderlands Traveler' package. Given that archery is fundamentally strikery, you'd BE a striker. It might be possible to combine various other elements to do something similar to the 4e Seeker where you wield a bow but use it for control magic. That might be a 'mystical archer' package or something else. In any case I want to lump most things into the general category of 'boons'. Any given PC would warrant a number of boons at a given level, but the DM is free to tweak that number. They would then be used almost like a point system to grant powers, feats, items, whatever (these categories need not even exist technically).

C4 wrote:
Going in the more specific direction sounds like a lot of fun! I went in the generic direction for a few reasons, one of which being that I think specificity is fun to play toward. That is, you're somewhat of a generic nobody for the first ten levels -- not as much of a generic nobody as an OD&D fighter, but nothing super-special either. I like the idea of specificity being special, and building ambition to attain that special-ness by putting it on a higher-level pedestal. Or maybe I just have difficulty conceptualizing what PPs and EDs should be, if PCs are already very specific by the time they reach higher levels.
Like I said, two different approaches... each valid. My preference for specific direction is largely due to the fact that I want PC's in the set-up I'm devising to start out as heroes. Maybe not the biggest heroes around, but certainly the heroes of their local area (village, tribe or what have you) and a cut above a typical member of their profession (I'm including rules for 0-level characters if you want to start out without any sort of heroic edge).

Frankly, I've always preferred games where the PC's might actually be the ONLY heroic examples of their class in the entire world (or at least the only one in your present tier). There may be other practitioners of the arcane arts out there, but you're THE WIZARD who will unlock the deepest arcane secrets of the age and be remembered in legends for every age to come. In essence, depending on how you establish things in your world, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies might not even need to be a thing at all because being a paragon-tier Knight already makes you the paragon that all heroic-tier knights strive to become all on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree. I never liked the classic D&D "there is a hierarchy of levels of NPCs" so that every King and High Priest was some 12th level superhero that for whatever reason couldn't be bothered to play the part, and the village priest was a 3rd level Cleric that could do anything 10x better than the PCs most of the time.

Honestly I thought that would be the PoL concept, a dark world where there are only a few heroes left and just traveling to another town is unheard of for ordinary people, let alone entering the woods at night or daring to visit the old graveyard.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:24 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
spock42 wrote:
AbdulAlhazred wrote:
The other option of course would be to basically construct one or maybe 2 very broad archetypes from each source and then do it all with subclassing. In that case you'd have say fighter and rogue, and then subclass to paladin, ranger, thief, assassin, etc. (with obvious cross-source on some of them).

the problem with this is that it would be a concept tax in practice. if I am just playing a fighter I get to pick any subclass or feature I want. if I want to play a paladin I have no choice of subclass or feature I have to pick the "paladin" subclass.

I don't understand this. If you are a 'fighter' you pick things that work for the fighter. If you want to do something that a subclass does, you have to be in that subclass, which STILL gives you access to all the fighter stuff.

So, paladin gets fighter AND paladin, ranger gets fighter AND ranger. Honestly I would assume that EVERY PC would join some subclass or at least have a theme.

if the game was such that you have a "fighter" class and a sub-class of that was Paladin then if my concept was "awesome fighting man" then I am a fighter and pick whatever sub-class and features I think are the most cool. if I want to be a paladin then I do not have that choice, I MUST pick the paladin sub-class, I do not have the choice the fighter does.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:01 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Personally though I think WotC went a bit askew on power source as well. Arcane is not a power source IMHO. 'Arcana' are just mysterious knowledge that very few people possess. Thus the 'arcane power source' just runs rampant and grew like a fungus in 4e.

Haha, I've never thought of a power source as fungal, but it does suffer from the evolution of D&D's wizard class. I.e., want to play a subtle enchanter? Play a wizard! Want to play Tim the Sorcerer? The wizard's the class for you! Need a creepy undead-master to be your BBEG? Make him a wizard! Etc..

While the 4e wizard is more balanced than those of previous editions, its aforementioned legacy of being the game's ur-caster did establish the arcane source as a grab-bag of nearly every conceivable magical effect right from the get-go.

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
I'd rather see power sources like Natural (primal), Elemental, Shadow, Divine, and Spirit (ki/martial). You can certainly have different sorts of casters operating from each source. Some are knowledge based "wizards" using many sources. Some are pact-bound "Warlocks" drawing power from one or possible a couple of sources that their patrons are associated with. Then you have your divine "priest" type casters and your various nature type "druidic" casters. You might also have casters drawing on their own internal power, manifesting something like psionics. Obviously you then have your warriors and whatnot that draw from the various sources as well, giving you barbarians, monks, knights, assassins, avengers, etc etc etc. There is MUCH less tendency for an 'arcane' catchall to swallow the whole system and the various sources remain much more distinct.

Yeah, I'm keeping the lines between PoL power sources pretty hard and clear. Gamers at home can blur or even break the lines with homebrew material -- heck, I may do just that myself, at my own table! -- but I think the default options should respect thematic borders.
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Chris24601 wrote:
Like I said, two different approaches... each valid. My preference for specific direction is largely due to the fact that I want PC's in the set-up I'm devising to start out as heroes. Maybe not the biggest heroes around, but certainly the heroes of their local area (village, tribe or what have you) and a cut above a typical member of their profession (I'm including rules for 0-level characters if you want to start out without any sort of heroic edge).

I regret that I don't have the time to read your project thread, as you've done me the favor of reading mine, but I'm looking forward to your finished product. I've read some of your thoughts on your game mythology, and it looks promising. Smile

Chris24601 wrote:
Frankly, I've always preferred games where the PC's might actually be the ONLY heroic examples of their class in the entire world (or at least the only one in your present tier). There may be other practitioners of the arcane arts out there, but you're THE WIZARD who will unlock the deepest arcane secrets of the age and be remembered in legends for every age to come. In essence, depending on how you establish things in your world, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies might not even need to be a thing at all because being a paragon-tier Knight already makes you the paragon that all heroic-tier knights strive to become all on its own.

From the thoughts you posted here, I'm not sure that we're coming at levels and conceptualization from entirely different angles. I can be clumsy about explaining my thoughts, so for now I'm just going to keep working on PoL when responsibilities allow, and worry about the rest later. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:32 pm

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Yeah, I agree. I never liked the classic D&D "there is a hierarchy of levels of NPCs" so that every King and High Priest was some 12th level superhero that for whatever reason couldn't be bothered to play the part, and the village priest was a 3rd level Cleric that could do anything 10x better than the PCs most of the time.

Oh gee, I thought that classic D&D often had the reverse problem -- that PCs quickly outgrow even kings and high priests because NPCs are always low level, except for the BBEG. (And the infamous Elminster, who suffers from the problem you mention.) But then I never played many published settings or modules, so I wouldn't know.

AbdulAlhazred wrote:
Honestly I thought that would be the PoL concept, a dark world where there are only a few heroes left and just traveling to another town is unheard of for ordinary people, let alone entering the woods at night or daring to visit the old graveyard.

Like I told Chris, I can be bad at expressing myself, so it's probably best not to read too far into my comments. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:43 am

C4 wrote:
From the thoughts you posted here, I'm not sure that we're coming at levels and conceptualization from entirely different angles. I can be clumsy about explaining my thoughts, so for now I'm just going to keep working on PoL when responsibilities allow, and worry about the rest later. Wink
Not entirely different. Based on what I've read the main difference would be at what point the characters shift from 'nobody special' to 'hero'.

For my game that's the difference between a 0-level character (the stats for which exist in my game as the basis for monsters, NPCs and those who want to start as 'nobody special' and a 1st level character (where all the PC's in my rules-set start by default). My plan is for the PCs to start as heroes (albeit savior of the village level) and go up from there.

From what I've ready your plan is for the first few levels to be about taking a metaphorical 'zero-to-hero' as you start as a more of a generic 'fighting man' and over the course of 3-5 levels grow into a specific concept (the barbarian or paladin).

Both are valid approaches, mine just packs the pre-hero stuff into your starting level while yours sets it up so that the players are making the choices over time after the adventure has begun. It should also be noted too that mine also cut back to just 15 levels, so in a sense you could view it as being a game that, in 3e terms, runs from levels 6-20 (albeit without disparity between magic and martial classes).
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Jul 04, 2015 5:24 pm

Hi folks, long time no post!

Despite all of reality's efforts to distract me from PoL, I've been slowly adding and improving. Looking back upon my OP, PoL has changed as a result of actually writing it. It's still an evolution and a spiritual successor to 4e, but I no longer think of it as a true-to-4e clone. Changed details include:

1. Attack bonuses remain at +8ish and defenses at 16ish throughout the game. These [truly] flat values can be scaled up per level, at the GM's discretion. I decided to reverse my original scaling-math-that-can-be-scaled-down plan, because addition is easier than subtraction. (See: every thac0 argument ever.)

2. Due to switching to auto-scaling attack powers, I rejiggered PoL character advancement to four tiers of five levels. The tiers are called: Lay, Adventurous, Dauntless, and Epic. The Lay tier is basically for apprentice-characters, so the game will suggest starting at the end of the Lay tier. I'm trying to give every tier a distinctive feel and mechanic, but this part of the game is still very much a work in progress.

3. Everyone has something to do with their minor action. Every role-based class feature requires a minor action, and only lasts a single round; and every monster has a minor-action power. This change brings a few advantages to the game: It ought to eliminate the what-do-I-do-with-my-minor-action paralysis that afflicts some players. (Virtually nothing but role-based features require minor actions on the PC side, so the question of what to do with minor actions ought to be a no-brainer.) This change also makes the Dazed condition consistently useful even without combo-ing with other conditions. And lastly, it makes multiclass feats and hybriding much easier to balance.

4. Oh, and every leader now has two basic class features: A per-encounter feature that allows an ally to spend a surge, and an at-will feature that grants an ally a minor boost. Leaders can be leaders every round!

5. Instead of the traditional D&D world milieu, where humanoid history stretches back into the mists of time, literal man-made dungeons of generations past litter the landscape, and mythical magical items are most easily 'acquired,' I'm currently thinking that a more civilization-is-fresh theme will fit PoL better. New rules [especially for those unfamiliar with 4e], new game world! At least for the PC races -- tyrannical giants, manipulative outsiders, and old-as-the-earth-dragons, beware!

I uploaded most of my current pdfs into google docs, so check them out! (Linked in the OP.)


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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Jul 04, 2015 5:39 pm

Awesome to see you're still in the game (of design). I'll check out your updated elements as soon as I get the chance.

As you can probably see by my own set of posts, I've been hard at work on my own project in the time since you last posted. I had similar conclusions to yours about using minor actions to manage role abilities, but probably for different reasons (I haven't checked your documents yet to know one way or the other).
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Jul 04, 2015 5:42 pm

...And to my request for input:

To match this fresh theme, PCs will be the setters of tradition and the crafters of early world legend. Magical items will more often be crafted by the PCs than pried from the cold dead hands of their last owner. Consumables will be easy to create, and common. Know the right ritual and have some residuum? Bam, you can make yourself a potion!

Permanent items require special components, though, like giant-skulls and dragon-hearts. Things that have to be quested for, and cut from the cold dead bodies of fallen villains. But here's the difference from traditional D&D: any given component can be used to craft one of several items. If you manage to cut the heart out of a wicked dragon, for example, you can use it to craft a flaming weapon, flame-fury armor, or something else! [Component options are far from finished...] Items can be enchanted multiple times with multiple components, allowing players to mix n match powers and properties, and making the characters the legendary creators of marvelous magic that future generations will tell stories about!

...As an alternative to using components to directly enchant items, I could write components so that they're used to craft magical gems, which could then be switched between socketed items. [Think Diablo.] This neatly sidesteps the 'What do we do with this awesomely-enchanted weapon that nobody in the party uses?' issue, without even having to resort to the Transfer Enchantment ritual. What do you think?

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Points of Light: Tactical combat, grand adventure, fine game balance, distinctive options, streamlined rules, zero-to-hero advancement, and a young and fresh fantasy world!

PoL is a work-in-progress, so feel free to let me know what you think. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Sat Jul 04, 2015 6:00 pm

...And oh yeah! Also this:

6. Instead of a character's role and power source being decided at once, in the form of choosing one of 20 classes, I separated role and power source into two separate decisions. So PoL now has only five classes (power sources), with each class containing four archetype options (roles). Thus, there are four basic layers to chargen: race, class, archetype, and theme (weapon style, elemental specialty, divine patron, etc.).
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PostSubject: Re: My 4e Clone: Points of Light   Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:07 pm

Very happy to see this project keeping on keeping on.

Also, for the love of all the powers and lessers, add the links in you sig!

That is all, thank you.
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