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 Monster Manual Races - Bugbear

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ToeSama
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PostSubject: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:05 pm

So, I'm no designer, but I do like to try and come up with things to make underpowered options into good options. What better thing to try and work this on than the five "races" in the monster manuals that haven't gotten their full PC write up yet?

I'll be posting these one at a time for discussion's sakes.

We'll start with one of the more popular options from the MM gang, the Bugbear.

~*~


Bugbear
Size: Medium
Speed: 6
Ability Bonuses: Dexterity +2; Strength or Charisma +2
Skill Bonuses: +2 Intimidate, +2 Stealth
Senses: Low Light Vision
Languages: Common, Goblin


Racial Features
Bugbear Battle Mastery: Choose one of the following.

  • Cruel Accuracy: Prone creatures do not get a bonus to defenses against your ranged attacks.
  • Massive Grip: Choose one large sized one handed weapon. You can use that weapon as though it was a medium two handed weapon.

Predatory Eye: You have the Predatory Eye racial power.
Strafe: As long as you remain adjacent to a creature, you can move up to half your speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

Predatory Eye
Bugbear Racial Utility
Encounter
Minor ActionPersonal
Effect: The next time you hit a target granting you combat advantage with an attack before the end of your next turn, you deal an extra 1d6 damage with that attack.
       Level 11: 2d6 extra damage.
       Level 21: 4d6 extra damage.
~*~

I felt Oversized a bit excessive to just give any Bugbear PC access to all Large two handed weapons, but I'm not sure if the change allows it to remain viable, let alone does it justice. I also wanted to provide an option for those Bugbears that wouldn't be using weapons. Thoughts on these two?

Predatory Eye was always an odd racial power. It's easy to get CA, and to hit a target granting CA, but the extra damage was always a bit bland. Anything we can do to spice it up?

Strafe seemed a good sort of movement aid, and an easy way to get into flanking position. Not sure if it's over/underpowered or not though. I also don't think it will do much for non melee range Bugbears, which could cause the feature to go unused with certain builds. Opinions on what to do to make it better?


Last edited by ToeSama on Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:52 pm

Cruel accuracy is likely to never be used. Even with a ranged attacker as your PC, you're unlikely to ever use it. And it doesn't seem particularly bugbear-ish, IMO.

Massive grip is definitely better balanced than oversized. You could even limit it further to morningstars (many forget - including WotC designers - that morningstars are two-handed weapons in 4E) but compensate them with another racial power.

Kenzer & Co produced Friend & Foe: The Elves & Bugbears of Tellene and it mentioned or implied, IIRC, how bugbears sniffed out or were intoxicated by fear in their prey. I've been thinking about this in the context of my monster stat blocks and came up with something that is presently half-arsed: I Smell Your Fear! This trait gives the bugbear a +4 bonus to Insight and Perception checks against a target subject to a condition granted by an attack with the fear keyword.

Of course, just like I mentioned with cruel accuracy, how often would this come up? Yep, it's half-arsed but it's the start of an idea.

What if a bugbear had a minor fear effect it could use, triggered by bloodying or reducing an enemy to 0 hit points? It could be something as simple as an Intimidate check vs Will against a single target as a free action with the result being a -2 penalty to attack rolls (or something similar) (save ends). The key, though, is having this effect use the fear keyword so as to trigger I Smell Your Fear!

I Smell Your Fear! could then grant the bugbear combat advantage or bonus damage against a target subject to a fear-caused condition.

I realise this is all a lot more complicated than the simplicity of predatory eye, but it's just an attempt to make bugbears a bit more interesting.

Hehe... or maybe it's just another half-arsed idea from me. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:23 am

Cruel Accuracy seemed an easy way to aid team members who ground and pound, but I do agree that it lacks a bit of "oomph" to sell it if a party isn't focused on such a tactic. Perhaps also having prone targets grant combat advantage for the Bugbear's ranged attacks would make it more usable?

I'd rather not have Massive Grip do any large two handed weapons in and of itself. Though it is an idea for feat support... (mental note, come up with feats and add to post)

"Smell Your Fear" sounds like using the Rattling keyword kinda. It's a neat idea, but Dragonborn already have something like it in Dragonfear, so I'd rather not make a rehash of something already being done. I am entertaining the idea of a second racial power option now though, so thanks for that Smile

Any thoughts on Strafe? I'd like to try and make something that's a bit more usable regardless of build goals. Most ranged fighters want to avoid being adjacent to their targets as much as possible... Unless they're Sorcerers...
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:31 am

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention strafe. My problem was with the language beginning with the word strafe which really doesn't suit a non-flyer. You mentioned ranged fighters - and presumably that also fed into cruel accuracy - but that's not a bugbear's style, is it? I suppose the real question to ask first is what is a bugbear to you? I mentioned the Kenzer book - which I need to look at again - because it's the only Ecology of...-like treatment I can recall on bugbears. I suppose Paizo has also done them in their Revisited line.

Actually, I will take a look at both of those sources and then come back and see if I can make an intelligent contribution.

I also forgot about the dragonborn power and the rattling keyword. Thanks for the reminders! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:47 am

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
You mentioned ranged fighters - and presumably that also fed into cruel accuracy - but that's not a bugbear's style, is it?
This would presume that I would never expect someone to play a Bugbear as a caster class of some kind. Considering Gnome Fighters are a popular choice for some inane reason, I'm not going to bet against it. I'd sooner give options to have it work on a mechanical level than to saddle the player with two or more racial options that do absolutely nothing for them.

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
I suppose the real question to ask first is what is a bugbear to you?
A character race. Anything beyond this steps into the realm of setting specifics. Adding setting mechanics is as easy as coming up with additional options for said settings, but I'd prefer the base Bugbear be usable across all settings. and several type of weapon and implement using builds.

I don't like tying a race to a specific type of character build. The Bugbear presented here is slightly revised from my table's version to remove the houserules from it and keep it in line more with 4e's base design. In that, I guess I'm kind of shooting myself in the foot in trying to avoid racial preference towards certain builds, but at least I'm trying XD
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:54 am

I think you may have missed my point.

I'm not necessarily asking you about your setting's view of bugbears, or asking what class a bugbear will always be (it's a PC race, yes, so it's the player's choice), but I am asking you what is a bugbear because isn't that the best way to then inform the racial mechanics you choose for it?

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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:21 am

I'm having a hard time seeing the difference, so an example might help me to get the point you're trying to make...
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:32 am

Why doesn't the bugbear teleport or have wild step or the dwarven "don't move" ability?

At some point, irrespective of setting or campaign world, the bugbear has to mean something. It's not an elf or a human or a dwarf etc... so what is it? Is it a stealthy hunter who prefers bashing its prey over the head with the biggest weapon it can find or is it something else?

I hope that's clear.

BTW, I read the Kenzer stuff before and will read Paizo next.
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:16 am

Ah. OK. That makes more sense.

What the Bugbear IS, is the stealthy hunter who prefers bashing its prey over the head with the biggest weapon it can find. What I would LIKE the Bugbear to be, is the clever hunter who can force its opponent into a moment of weakness and hurt them all the worse for it, be it with a big stick, or a bolt of magic. This is the reason I created Cruel Accuracy as an option, so that Bugbear players who don't want to play a class that relies on their weapon dice can have some sort of benefit with their selected playstyle. That the option is lacking currently is non issue. That's what the thread is suppose to help fix after all XD
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:08 am

OK, now that we're on the same page with respect to what a bugbear is here are some comments:

Cruel Accuracy: Maybe this could be a feat - Paizo made something similar and it took them a couple of attempts to actually get the wording right - but I wouldn't call it out as a racial power as it's not part of the "core bugbear experience" (OK, so I threw in some wanky-sounding marketing-like term there...) for two reasons: (1) bugbears aren't known as ranged fighters and the racial power should reflect something that is consistent with the race and (2) it's so unlikely to come up in a game that entire tiers will pass without it being used.

Massive Grip: Why introduce Large weapons as a treasure item for a single race? Why not just pare it back to: choose one two-handed simple or military melee weapon - it is now a one-handed weapon for you.

Strafe: OK, so the term doesn't make sense in English as the bugbear doesn't have wings. Let's leave that to one side. Essentially, what you have is the ability to shift 3 squares. Why not make it that? Alternatively, something like: The bugbear chooses an adjacent enemy. As a move action the bugbear may shift to any other square adjacent to that enemy. Or something similar. I'm not sure if that was your intention but perhaps you could clarify.

Predatory Eye: We're basically left with this as the core bugbear ability. I suppose it makes sense, even if it does lack some flavour. Personally I would slap the fear and rattling keywords on it just to make it a little bit more bugbear-ish.
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:55 am

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
Cruel Accuracy: Maybe this could be a feat - Paizo made something similar and it took them a couple of attempts to actually get the wording right - but I wouldn't call it out as a racial power as it's not part of the "core bugbear experience" (OK, so I threw in some wanky-sounding marketing-like term there...) for two reasons: (1) bugbears aren't known as ranged fighters and the racial power should reflect something that is consistent with the race and (2) it's so unlikely to come up in a game that entire tiers will pass without it being used.
Bugbears not being ranged fighters is something I want to change, and I don't want it to have to come in the form of a feat tax when it could work as a racial feature just as well. ALL races should have as much potential to wade in melee with weapons as they do to stand back and cast magic with implements. While a lot of official races do not possess this ability, it is no reason to not shoot for such a goal with homebrew like this.

As the weapon size feature promotes those that use weapons, I want to make something to promote ranged fighting Bugbears. An alteration or addition to make ranged bugbears work is what we're after with this one. Removing it just because it doesn't jive with the current Bugbear image of "get up in their face and hit them with a sharp stick" isn't. Since the racial feature allows you to choose from either, the player can pick the one which works best for them, so those that like hitting with sharp sticks don't need to worry about it.

I pitched an idea a few posts back to have the Bugbear's ranged attacks made against a prone target have combat advantage in addition to ignoring the prone defense bonus, but I don't think I got any thought on it. Adding in combat advantage against prone targets for area attacks as well might open it up more.

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
Massive Grip: Why introduce Large weapons as a treasure item for a single race? Why not just pare it back to: choose one two-handed simple or military melee weapon - it is now a one-handed weapon for you.
This is more broken than even the original incarnation. Can you imagine Dual Glaive wielding Bugbear Ranger builds? *shudder*

The idea for using Large weapons was mostly due to the original Oversized feature, but also to increase the size of weapon dice in exchange for a different wielding requirement. I suppose saying "You can choose to wield any one handed melee weapons as two handed. If you do, increase that weapon's damage dice by 1 size" would work just as well I suppose though. Large weapons just seemed a bit more neat imo.

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
Strafe: OK, so the term doesn't make sense in English as the bugbear doesn't have wings.
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Less German fighter pilot XD

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
Essentially, what you have is the ability to shift 3 squares. Why not make it that? Alternatively, something like: The bugbear chooses an adjacent enemy. As a move action the bugbear may shift to any other square adjacent to that enemy. Or something similar. I'm not sure if that was your intention but perhaps you could clarify.
It wasn't suppose to be a shift. I designed it to aid with achieving flanking positioning without provoking opportunity attacks. It's lacking it use for non melee Bugbears though, which is something I'd like to fix. Maybe a shift of some kind would work better...

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
Predatory Eye: We're basically left with this as the core bugbear ability. I suppose it makes sense, even if it does lack some flavour. Personally I would slap the fear and rattling keywords on it just to make it a little bit more bugbear-ish.
The rattling keyword requires training with intimidate, so that's something that might not always aid depending on class skill lists. I like the Fear idea. It would help builds that take advantage of fear powers, but at the same time it would make the racial power useless against enemies that are immune to fear, since the damage would be considered a fear effect as a result. Not so sure if that's the way we should go with it. Part of me is thinking another racial power option might be better than changing Predatory Eye...
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:44 pm

If you want to make bugbears into ranged fighters, why not give them something interesting and useful rather than the current form of cruel accuracy which is probably going to be used about once every 10-15 levels?

Yeah, my massive grip reply was half-arsed because of things like dual-wielding glaives. I forget that anime is a source of inspiration for many players.

Wow, that's not the meaning of strafe in English, even in Merkin English! And, yes, I realised it's not a shift, per se, but it is a shift, in fact, because it is moving without attracting opportunity attacks (ie, a shift). Keep it simple, right?

Oops, I meant to suggest keeping the rattling effect rather than the keyword because of the requirement for being trained in Intimidate.

Even though we haven't had a meeting on the minds on this stuff this has helped me work out what I want my monster bugbears to look like. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:42 pm

Scrivener of Doom wrote:
If you want to make bugbears into ranged fighters, why not give them something interesting and useful rather than the current form of cruel accuracy which is probably going to be used about once every 10-15 levels?
Well I'm trying to, but I've been given no feedback on the only change I was able to come up with to do anything with it beyond what I've got, or any suggestions otherwise... -_-

Really, I'm honestly confused as to how ignoring the defensive boost against ranged attacks that a prone enemy has isn't useful and would only come up once ever X levels. Prone is one of the most common and easily obtainable conditions in the game, and accuracy has never not been king in the game, so removing a -2 penalty to ranged rolls seems a great way to give ranged Bugbears a hand to me... Especially on top of the idea I had of having the feature also make prone targets grant combat advantage in addition... I am quite literally not seeing where you're coming from in calling this feature useless O_o
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PostSubject: Re: Monster Manual Races - Bugbear   Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:08 pm

Fair enough. Your experience in games is different to mine. If it works for you that's great.
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