Friday, April 4, 2008

Good points. Bad points.

Today I have points on my mind. Hit Points. Action Points. Experience Points.

For starters I love having lots of Hit Points. For pretty obvious reasons. So I`ve certainly got nothing against getting some extra HP at 1st level. A little cushion might come in handy against that dreaded critical hit.

That aside, 4e seems to be going a little overboard.

Now I don`t know how much damage a ``1st level`` monster is going to be capable of, or how easy it will be to hit my character in his starting studded leather, but come on. Based on the sample character sheets 1st level characters start with HP in the 20 to 35 range. Nice.

But then they also get Healing Surges. At least 6 per day and most have in the area of 10 or so. That's 6 to 12 surges of 5 or more HP. Add that onto the starting 20 HP and your 1st level character basically starts with 50 HP (at the low end). The sample fighter gets 137 HP.

137. I had an epic character who didn't have that many HP to burn.

"But Griff, this is a good thing. More HP is awesome."

Sure. But 137? At first level? My god. How much damage can a goblin striker or orc controller do?

"But Griff. It's not about that. The idea is for Healing Surges to replace all those Cure Light Wounds spells cast by the party cleric."

Fair enough. They want to give clerics (and the players who like the cleric class) more to do during combat than just casting cure spells. The thing is, if you don't like "wasting" rounds casting cures and heals, then DON'T PLAY A CLERIC. Duh!

Pushing that obvious logical solution aside, let's give every character Healing Surges to replace the Cure Light Wounds spell/potion/wand. That way, instead of the cleric doing his job, or ROLE if you prefer, every character now has to "waste" a round per encounter on a "Second Wind" for healing. Yeah. That makes sense.

The good thing here is that the player only gets one Second Wind per encounter. What I don't get is why the rest are used during the Short Rest that happens between each encounter. I suppose this will encourage DMs to design encounters in waves, and pack more into each adventuring "day". This in turn should mean faster level ups. I just wonder if a bit of the tactical planning will disappear as players with their nearly limitless HP plow through dungeons like a chainsaw through cheddar.

The jury is out on the change in Action Points too. I was never a huge fan of the Eberron setting, but the concept of Action Points was pretty cool. Every gaming session includes a roll or two that falls into the "I think I made it but I'm not sure it was quite high enough" category. Or a critical save throw or skill check that you just want to be sure of. Perfect times to spend an AP and get an extra d6 added on.

Nice mechanic and simple to keep track of since they replenish every level. For some reason they're changing that in 4e. Instead of a pool of APs you get 1 per day, plus 1 for every other encounter (or "milestone"). Keeping track of the number of encounters in a "day" strikes me as a little awkward and a needless headache. But whatever. An extra action sounds pretty sweet (I'll use 'em mostly for the Second Wind) but I think I'd prefer the old 3.5 mechanic.

Finally Experience Points. My personal favorite. And from what I've seen, there's not a whole lot to be written. Sounds like it'll take a few extra encounters before getting that delicious level up. However, all those phat HP will make that easy enough. The best thing about XP in 4e is in terms of encounter design. Even as a player I'm excited about everything I've seen in regards to encounters. The mix of monsters with varied roles in each encounter, along with social and trap encounters promises nothing but positives.


Anonymous said...

Hey. I just wanted to comment about the whole, "don't pick a cleric" thing. I believe they made 4e like it is with the high HP because clerics will get boring after a while if they're just healing.. Just every round you see who's hurt and heal them. That's not my kind of fun, and with 3.5 you needed someone there to heal whenever something bad occured.

Griff said...

I'm with you on the whole I-don't-wanna-play-a-heal-bot issue. Casting cures isn't my idea of fun either.

However, that doesn't necessitate taking that aspect from the class and dispersing it over every class (in the form of huge HP and healing surges). Some people out there enjoy being in a support role while rocking out the occasional Blade Barrier (among other spells that Clerics had that could kick some ass).

If you don't enjoy doing the healing, then don't play one. Simple right?