Monday, October 20, 2008

Powerless against all these Powers

The more I play 4E, the more I miss saving throws.

I know, the saving throw system in 3rd edition was far from perfect. In the higher levels the monster's saving throw bonuses made their saves against even the most boosted of spells almost trivial.

But still, saving throws added something to the game. They added a feeling of empowerment (admittedly illusionary since dice are either random or malicious) and some tension (the dreaded natural 1 lurked everywhere).

With 4E's powers, there are no saves. Beating the defense score is enough. After that you simply apply the effect. It's quick. It's simple. It's elegant in it's way. It's also boring and rather anti-climactic.

I get hit and... I fall down. I get hit... and I'm dazed.

It's not all bad however. I like that players can pick and choose their powers to attack a variety of defenses (ie. some vs AC, some vs Reflex etc...). I also like that there's no more frustration caused by a Daily Power (used a crucial moment) getting shrugged off because the DM rolled a high save.

Still, the more I play the more I miss those Saving Throws. Hell, I even miss the natural 1.


Crwth said...

The one thing to remember is that effects in 3.5 that allowed a saving throw didn't require to-hits -- that was the trade off. You either had to roll well to hit, or hope that your target did not, when they tried to save. A roll either way.

In 4e, they've just moved all of the rolling to the player, presumably so they feel like it's something that they control, whether it's attacking a foe physically or against one of the new Defense scores - and the natural 1 is still there, too. BUT, this means that when the player is on the receiving end, they get NO say in the result, since the rolls have all been moved to the attacker.

It'd be an interesting experiment to modify the rules so the players are the ones that roll in both cases: their to-hit is random, when they attack; and their defenses are random (much like an old saving throw), when they're defending against what is now a static to-hit number on the monsters' side. The math is the same, but it would allow more perceived control by the player.

theinternetisbig said...

Your experiment is outlined right in the DMG if I remember correctly. They suggest an alternate method where creatures do all the rolling.

I think this would make a more theatrical, artful, game that would be a huge pain in the DM's rear.

IMO, saves were a needless complication that didn't really even do a good job of adding flavor to monsters.