Monday, March 3, 2008

13 tips - feeling unlucky

Wow, only one post in February... short month or not, that's pretty bad.

But it looks like this past weekend has supplied a few tidbits to comment on. One is a two-page PDF for the D&D Experience 2008 event. It has a bunch of numbered points, so let's take a look.

1. Character roles are more clearly defined.

Yeah, we knew about the roles already, and I don't think there has been any more love fostered here on this blog about them. But, they're here to stay, so why waste any more breath, right? Okay, one more time: *grumble* stupid roles...

2. Powers give you more combat options.

We knew about the per-day/per-encounter/at-will powers, too, but the tip they give at the end -- that your at-will powers will frequently do more than a basic attack -- is interesting. It sounds like every action in combat has to be heroic now, and that you get shunned if you just swing a sword like some peasant child.

3. Attacker rolls against a static defense.

We've talked about this one, too, and I still think that saving throws represent something that a character is resisting, and thus it should be something that the player rolls when defending against the effect.

4. Standard, move, and minor actions.

I like the free actions being done out-of-turn; it makes sense that you can drop an item at any time, and that conversation can happen out-of-turn. We tried the strict interpretation of the 3.5 rules where you can only talk (bluster, threaten, surrender) on your turn, which led to some halted conversations.

5. Healing gets an overhaul.

I'm still against this. If I can only use "second wind" once per encounter, then just give me extra hitpoints or better AC out of the box, or something. I'm sure the NPCs never get second wind - is this supposed to represent the heroic nature of the PCs? Because they don't have enough advantages? Healing surges? I just don't get it. But I'm not going to go down the tough-shit-you're-the-cleric-now-do-your-job road again. Nope, not gonna do it.

6. Short and extended rests.

Finally, something I can accept! Well, except for the healing surges. Here's your definition of when an encounter has ended in terms of getting back the per-encounter powers. It's not clear what happens if you don't take the short rest -- does five minutes of walking not count as long enough between encounters to get them back? Is an hour long enough? Or if you're always on the move, is your whole day considered one long encounter?

7. Attack!

Nothing new here, except that they re-iterate that you'll likely use "basic attacks" only when you aren't allowed anything else, such as charging, attacks of opportunity, etc. Every other time you're likely to use at-will or per-encounter powers. Still sounds a bit overly heroic, but I'll give it a chance.

8. Action points give you an extra action.

I'm a bit back and forth about action points. We never used them as a variant in any of our games, but games that had them (d20 Modern, Eberron) we'd leave them (and forget to use them. These new ones are a little more powerful (an extra action instead of +1d6). II'm not sure I like the distribution of them, with these "milestones". It seems too plentiful. However, the fact that an extended rest resets them to 1 is good, so they don't accumulate, and this does give them a sense of a bonus if you soldier on in your quest -- perhaps "perseverance point" would be a better name. But these are still more plentiful than in other settings, and again are likely restricted to PCs -- more hero bonuses that I'm not sure are needed.

9. Movement is quick and easy.

Yeah, if you like squares. Since I'm pretty sure I've previously said I was going to stop bitching about the squares-not-feet thing, I'll just address the fact that it looks like a 5-foot adjustment (oops, 1-square adjustment) is now a move action. While you could never move and do a 5-foot (unless you're a dirty cheater), this doesn't seem like a change, but in 3.5, a move was a move-equivalent, and you could do your 5-foot and still do one of these equivalent actions. Perhaps the equivalents have all been moved to minor actions?

10. Saving throws are straightforward.

This goes back to #3 above, where I liked the old saving throw system. I see why they did it -- to simplify the math, and the system in general, but it still doesn't feel quite right.

11. Durations are easy to manage.

I like this. It makes me wonder about Acid Arrow, though ... has it become more or less powerful because of this?

12. Reach (usually) isn't as threatening.

My first thought was "boo", but then I saw that creatures can have "threatening reach". "Yay". You can't take away the idea that traipsing up to a giant or dragon should be folly! I guess we'll have to see who gets the threatening reach and who doesn't.

13. A trio of "c" rules you might want to know.

It's nice to see they pooled everything into "combat advantage". It makes a lot of the conditions in 3.5 (which always required flipping through the rulebooks) a lot easier.

It sounds like they simplified cover. It makes the game faster, I suppose, but I'm not sure about the loss of that touch of realism.

I've never liked the charging rule about having to go to the nearest square (even ignoring the "square" terminology - it's just too Miniatures-like). And now a charge is only +1? And only a basic attack? I'll have to see why you'd want to do it at all. Sure, it's a move and attack in one action, but... why only +1??

Overall, not too much to get excited about, except that they're finally spelling out some of the changes in nice, succinct lists.

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