Tweaking 4E – Advantages and Disadvantages

I’ve yet to get a game of DnDNext in. I’m chugging along with my Savage World’s treatment of Traveller. A few folks will be out of town for a while. I might try to run the playtest with a smaller group. However, I’ve been wanting to get back into a 4E game again.

I’ve really been thinking about tweaking with 4E to streamline some parts of it. I’m also thinking on going gridless. So there have been some things rolling around in my head as of late that I might try out for a few sessions.

One thing I definitely like about DnDNext is the concept of advantages and disadvantages. In a nutshell, a player rolls two d20s and either takes the higher or lower roll, depending on their state. 4E has a lot of temporary modifiers floating around during combat. So rather than fiddling with temporary bonuses to hit and defences, I like the idea of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic in DnDNext.

I’ve got a set of beads for baduk (Go) that I’ve used as markers to keep track of successes and failures in skill challenges. My plan is to use these beads as a simple way to keep track of bonuses for having an advantage (or suffering from a disadvantage).

As players use powers that give them a temporary bonus to hit, they place white beads near their targets. If the target has a bonus to their defenses, they use the other color beads. If either side has a higher total of beads, then that would translate to either an advantage (more white) or disadvantage (more black) to the player. In case of a tie, the player rolls to hit as normal.

Additional temporary bonuses to hit, or for defenses, would just be another bead added to the total. This is going to result in huge bonuses and penalties, even for a minor +1 to hit. However I am liking the idea of the big swings to allow more attacks (or possibly really hamper the player).

For marking conditions, monsters would have a disadvantage hitting other targets, but an advantage against the player that marked them. Something that will definitely add a nice bonus to other players, but be a meaningful hindrance to that defender. Granting combat advantage will also become a larger issue, really granting the enemy a tactical advantage doing so.

I’ve already altered how I handle critical hits in my game. Players do max damage on a natural 20. If they crit on any other number, they do at least ½ damage. It does curb the output on extended crits, but at least they are guaranteed not to do a trivial amount of damage. I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe allowing a reroll of damage and taking the highest total for extended crits, but I think that’s something that might slow down the game.

I’ll see how this works. It’s a major shift from straight up bonuses to trying to stack different temporary conditions. I like the idea of players and monsters going back and forth with temporary bonuses using simple markers, and it’s the side that works together as a team which will likely get the greatest benefit. Combat advantage, having an additional cover bonus, all these little +1’s could add up to a big effect. It’s something that will take a few games to play out, but I’m liking the idea.

EDIT: Sly Flourish has also visited the concept of advantages and disadvantages in 4E. He of course adheres to a regular schedule of posts, methodically setting up weeks of content that rolls out every week in a timely fashion, so you are offered a great post every Monday with your morning coffee. While I am a spaz that is all over the place when I post. He had the idea first. Check out his blog. It offers some great thoughts on advantages in 4E I think are really good, and are far more robust than the simple idea I have here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s