Thursday, November 29, 2007

Smite for the camera

Twice in one week! The latest Design & Development article has yet more sneak-peeking into the 4th edition mechanics.

These info blocks that appear in the article give us an idea of the layout of special abilities that are available in 4th edition. The third line,
Encounter • Weapon
seems to say when the ability can be used (or perhaps the type of "per" power it is, per-day, per-encounter, etc.) and how the ability is used. I'm hoping that the format is still in transition - having just a dot between two words doesn't really lend itself to understanding to the casual player.

Melee weapon
line is reminiscent of the latest stat block (with their lack of colons). So Melee means it's a melee ability (and implies that it's an attack? Or that this is the range? Or some other use of "melee" as a term in 4e?) and that, err, it's still a weapon. An example where the Weapon in the third line and the weapon in the fifth line weren't the same might give some insight to each of their meanings.

Attack: Charisma vs. AC
(Oh look, the colon is back.) This is interesting, and grows from the idea of static saves, as discussed previously. Attack rolls have been merged in with saves and probably difficulty checks, to be all the same style of check. I'm assuming that the "Charisma attack" mentioned in the text block isn't just what 3rd edition would call a Charisma check, unless armor class calculations have changed; somehow the base attack needs to be added in there, unless of course that has gone by the wayside.

I don't know what I think of the Hit: and Miss: labels. I think I prefer the old succeed/fail nomenclature that you would see with skills and such. For abilities that aren't combat-specific, they're going to have other terms anyway, so why not share them? Especially if you've turned to-hit into a difficulty check.

I like the idea of the damage calculation:
Hit: 2x[W] + Cha
But not the notation. It works fine for geeks like me, but I'm hoping it's going to get reworded a little better. One interesting point is that that's the weapon's base damage, no strength, or other bonuses that might arise.

The Hit-or-Miss text says "an ally", which then gets amended to include the paladin itself, which is just a nitpick, but I don't think of myself as an ally.

Wow, all that from the first block.

Encounter • Healing, Weapon 
Okay, so everything after the dot is a ... subtype? And Encounter is the type? That might make sense, but I think I preferred the older bracketed method, and would want
Renewing Smite [Encounter • Healing, Weapon]
Nitpick? Perhaps, but what was broken with the old style?

Seeing Paladin 27 on the third smite made me pause for a second, having briefly forgotten about the 30-level base to 4th edition.

Here we see
Attack: Charisma vs. Will
which is like the old-style saving throws (many people, unless having done monster design, don't realize that the DC of effects is based on an attribute). With the static saves, the rolling is now done by the "attacker" instead of the defender in third edition. I'm starting to warm to this. Again, it's not clear whether there's a base attack that gets thrown in, because now you wouldn't expect it in a "saving throw" versus a "to-hit". Is there some base 10 that gets added into saves? Are the numbers completely different from what we've become accustomed? Are we going to feel disoriented as those coming from THAC0 did when going to d20?

"cannot gain line of effect". Does this mean just for targeted effects such as ranged attacks and rays? Or does this somehow prevent cones and area effects from affecting anyone but the paladin? And interesting ability regardless. Interesting that it's also until the end of your next turn, where in 3rd edition we got used to "the start of your next turn" as the usual mantra.

As usual, this glimmer of 4e has created more questions than answers, but it does show us that June is getting that much closer.

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