Tag: D&D 4e
4th edition’s suggestions for magic item distribution has never been entirely satisfactory to me. Even as a player, I hate digging around to find enough things to fill out a wish list.
A lot of people also don’t care for the idea of the PCs always finding exactly what they want. There are various arguments for it, from matters of verisimilitude to those who enjoy the unexpected.
While reading through the new Essentials Rules Compendium on the train today, I had an epiphany.
First, a brief tangent. Schrödinger’s Gun is not my cat’s firearm, but rather the idea that until you, the DM, describe something to the players, the exact details can be changed without them ever knowing. Joe guesses that the kindly baron is really the BBEG as soon as he’s introduced? Change it!
So now we can apply the idea of Schrödinger’s gun to magic items. 4e assumes that PCs can figure out most magic items after spending a few minutes with them… Scratch that! From now on, the PCs simply get “some armor,” “a weapon,” or “some bracers.”
Then you give them a coupon with a slot, rarity and a level. The bearer of the coupon may turn it into any item for that slot, at that level or lower and that rarity or lower.
In game terms, when the PC finally decides what the item is, they’ve ‘identified’ it.
This adds some randomness back into the process, since the PCs have no control over what slot the item is for. It also adds some more competition for items. No longer does the set of plate armor go straight to the fighter. Rather, everyone has an interest in the generic, unidentified armor that was just found.
For players, it also gives them a lot more direction. Having to find an item of a particular level can be daunting, given all the choices. It’s much easier to pick something out with the slot so constrained.
Here are some tables you can roll on to determine type and rarity.
|20||Other (Wondrous item, mount, companion, etc)|
One of the cool things about the Player’s Handbook 3 for 4th edition is that all of the new races have one static ability score modifier, and a choice between two for their second bonus. Unfortunately, the older races don’t have this luxury, and one would hope Wizards of the Coast might go and retrofit them, but it’s simple enough to do on your own.
Here are my suggestions.
- Dragonborn: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma or +2 Constitution
- Dwarf: +2 Constitution, +2 Strength or +2 Wisdom
- Eladrin: +2 Intelligence, +2 Dexterity or +2 Charisma
- Elf: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence or +2 Wisdom
- Half-Elf: +2 Charisma, +2 Constitution or +2 Dexterity
- Halfling: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma or +2 Wisdom
- Human: +2 to any ability.
- Tiefling: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma or +2 Dexterity
Player’s Handbook 2
- Deva: +2 Wisdom, +2 Intelligence or +2 Charisma
- Gnome: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma or +2 Dexterity
- Goliath: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution or +2 Wisdom
- Half-Orc: +2 Strength , +2 Constitution or +2 Dexterity
- Longtooth Shifter: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution or +2 Wisdom
- Razorclaw Shifter: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution or +2 Wisdom
- Gnoll: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution or +2 Charisma
- Revenant: +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity or +2 Wisdom
- Shadar-Kai: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence or +2 Constitution
- Drow: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma or +2 Intelligence
- Genasi: +2 Intelligence, +2 Dexterity or +2 Strength
- Changeling: +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity or +2 Intelligence
- Kalashtar: +2 Charisma, +2 Wisdom or +2 Intelligence
- Warforged: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution or +2 Dexterity
Manual of the Planes
- Bladeling: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom or +2 Constitution
- Bugbear: +2 Strength, +2 Consitution or +2 Dexterity
- Githyanki: +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence or +2 Wisdom
- Goblin: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution or +2 Charisma
- Hobgoblin: +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma or +2 Dexterity
- Kobold: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution or +2 Wisdom
- Orc: +2 Constitution, +2 Strength or +2 Wisdom
Monster Manual 2
- Bullywug: +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity or +2 Wisdom
- Duegar: +2 Wisdom, +2 Constitution or +2 Intelligence
- Kenku: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence or +2 Charisma
With the new season of D&D Encounters starting up, Wizards put out a call for “twitter buffs–” buffs which would be tweeted during game sessions and affect the game. I found one of the buffs very inspiring, the very first one posted in fact by a user named Atras.
Sand flies harshly to the South, right into your eyes. All attacks made to the North are made with major concealment (-5) #dndenc
The idea of a directional bonus is absolutely awesome, because it strongly encourages movement. You’re constantly fighting to be in the favorable position. It can give an edge to ambushers or be used to balance out a tougher encounter. (continue reading…)
One of the things that always struck me as a bit… inelegant about 4th Edition is that leaders, who usually have powers which grant healing surges with bonuses, can basically use the healing powers as much as they want between encounters. I find this inelegant because there is at least an implicit–arguably perhaps even an explicit–expectation that players should spend their own healing surges between encounters to heal. (continue reading…)
I’ve always felt that skill challenges were one of D&D 4th Edition’s most egregious failings, in large part because I was so excited for them. At Encounter-a-Day, I’ve tried to come up with ways to fix them by completely altering the framework of skill challenges.
The more I think about it, though, the more I become sure that the idea of a skill challenge is fundamentally broken, and needs to be put to pasture. The inspiration is absolutely wonderful, but the idea that you can make a single framework, no matter how flexible, apply to any situation is misguided at best.
Even worse, the mere existence of such a framework encourages you to try and shoehorn things into it.
That’s why I think the idea of a skill challenge should be struck from the gamers’ lexicon. But retain the inspiration, the idea that skills matter. Actively look for places to add skill checks into the game, particularly during combat. Mike Shea’s Circle of Protection encounter is a wonderful example of making skills matter.
My problem here is that if I were designing the same thing, I probably would have tried to make it a skill challenge, when it clearly doesn’t need to be. I’d try to fit the situation into the framework, rather than trying to design a new framework to fit the situation. There absolutely are times when the skill challenge framework is appropriate, but I think having that framework in your mind ahead of time is counterproductive.
So really what my advice boils down to is this: look for opportunities to test the characters’ skills, and design a framework that suits the situation from the ground up.