Category: DnDNext

Jumped off the deep end of miniature Kickstarters with Reaper Bones

ReaperBones3I’ve avoided the siren’s call of Reaper Kickstarter campaigns of past. But the temptation to pick up a slew of minis is just too much. Their current Kickstarter campaign wraps up in less than 3 days. As usual, you get a ton of plastic minis. The bonus for me is that you don’t need to prime them.

I prefer to use tokens for my RPG sessions over using minis. But I am pretty deep into miniature gaming and been taking a gander to some different systems as of late. Pulp Alley looks neat and Frostgrave is certainly on my radar for something to pick up. As a back up, there is always Chain Reaction which is generic enough for a variety of light arms skirmish games. Yet, I’ve heard some cool things about Songs of Blades and Heroes too for fantasy melee. Yeah…. guess I’ll have plenty of games to run with these KS goodies.

Why is the starter set for D&D ignored?

So news has hit like a ton of bricks about the release schedule for DnDnext. EN World got a scoop and have followed up the official announcement over on the WotC main page. Two big things that stand out are a staggered release for the core books with the DMG rounding up the group last. The next bit of news that seems to get a lot of chatter are the prices, which tips in at $50 a book.

That’s pretty hefty. I can totally see how folks could be put off by that. Some also have been pretty vocal about the price of entry for the new edition being too high, so high they aren’t going to bother. What I don’t get is how the starter set is completely ignored by them.

I guess people are imagining the worst with the starter set. Honestly I felt much of the past introduction products for 4E were lackluster. However I have hopes for the new boxed set. I really have a vibe they are going for a more complete product with the introductory box.

One thing that stands out is that the boxed set will allow characters to jump up to 5th level. Hopefully there will be some rules for character generation. Some of which that has been hinted looks positive:

However there are some other comments that make me wonder if WotC will adopt a more open approach to getting those rules out. There might be slimmed down rule PDFs or an online character generator:

This last bit makes sense. The public playtest rules are out in the wild. While torrents are illegal, folks at WotC have to recognize stuff is out there, so why not embrace it somewhat and provide free, legal PDFs of their own? More importantly, if there are tweaks to abilities, spells, and powers, an electronic version can be pulled and a new errata version put up. It could be a nice way to ensure players are bringing up-to-date characters around the table at public play events.

The starter set might be lackluster with just pregens and a simple basic adventure. However it might also be a pretty phenomenal product. It might have the muscle in rules and material to be the only thing needed to play D&D. If you really want options and the full plethora of creatures, treasure, and classes, the core books are the way to go. But if you want to play a game and get a few levels in for some characters, the starter set might be a solid option.

It may very well be the product that everyone points to and says, ‘This is what you need to play D&D.‘ It’s only $20 too. A great price for hopefully a great product to get people playing D&D. Maybe with all the gnashing of teeth and ire over the core books, folks need to remember there is a product that will be out there made especially for those that want to try D&D out, and it’s far less than the $150 price tag of the core books.

DnDNext without Games Workshop-like fans

The completely unsurprising news is that in 2014, the 40th anniversary of D&D, a 5th edition will be rolled out. From what the playtest version has shown us, this isn’t a huge departure from core mechanics like that of 4E. This is a game of ability scores, saving throws, Vancian magic, and fast, brutal combats. It’s an edition that will strive to be backwards compatible with previous modules and material. DnDnext is going to try and pull older players, likely folks running Pathfinder now, back into the fold.

4E pushed the game into new directions. Some was good and some was bad. Yet you could see WotC soldiering on promoting the game in new ways to new players. Face it, you’re likely shooting for a younger demographic with play sessions of writers for Robot Chicken and the podcast antics of Penny Arcade and PvPonline as they formed the adventuring company, Acquisitions Incorporated (so popular it culminated into many live session events at PAX). 4E was peddled to new players and old players alike. However it’s clear there were things that didn’t resonate with older fans.

DnDNext shows that. I got idea of reducing fluff in the core books with 4E. Why codify everything? Instead push the philosophy that it was your game, change what will make the game work for you. However as additional core 4E books were rolled out, fluff became a more prominent feature (take a look at the difference in MM1 and MM3). It was what fans wanted, a key characteristic of what a D&D book should be. Having additional, optional supplemental material (like the Dragonborn racial book) wasn’t ideal. That stuff had to be in the core books.

It became clear that 4E simply wasn’t getting the expected traction needed. I expect the sales for the soft reboot of the game with Essentials was pretty much a disaster. 4E was a departure from the game a lot of folks wanted and the DnDnext playtest rules demonstrated that. A focus on classic mechanics with a houserule treatment was wanted. Powers, these player abilities being broken down into turn elements with different timing characteristics was not D&D in people’s minds. So another set of rules are being rolled out to try and rectify that.

Games Workshop is a company that sells the immensely popular miniature wargame, Warhammer 40K (and it’s sister flagship game, Warhammer Fantasy). GW doesn’t promote their game much. They know their fans are absolutely rabid for their products. Some of it is well founded, as their models and quality of their product line is amazing. However updated rulebooks churn out with new versions ever on the horizon every 3-4 years.

It’s their existing community that make the bulk of future sales and at times it seems they are taken for granted by GW. There is a reason that Tau haven’t gotten a codex in years, while Space Marines have gotten one with every new release of the rules. People love space marines and buy them in droves. A new codex will sell new models. Tau just isn’t as popular, so that fraction of fans is left out in the cold. I never think it’s sustainable, that someday players will stop buying and move onto something else, but I’m continually wrong. GW has hit a rough patch of late but I don’t see the company folding. They have a way of promoting and selling their game and have a legion of GW followers that will continually buy what they sell.

In 14 years, 5 sets of D&D rules will have come out from WotC. Now I am certain WotC didn’t want to be in this situation. I think they would be perfectly happy if we were all excited about the release of a new 4E PHB4 and MM4, and wondering what might be in the pages of the upcoming DMG3. But it didn’t work out that way. Much of the D&D crowd are not like Games Workshop fans. There are key characteristics of the game that resonate with D&D fans. 3/3.5 hit a chord with folks that Pathfinder has managed to tap into, and as 4E tried to branch off into something different, it didn’t have that lasting appeal.

A while back I wondered if fans of Pathfinder and 3/3.5 would even bother getting into DnDnext. I felt trying to get new players around the table was more important. Clearly I was wrong. DnDNext is for the established fan of old. The push for the new alienated older players, and 4E failed. It’s long-time fans which make the game and more importantly seem to not blindly follow a brand. D&D should be a certain way. WotC realizes that and DnDNext is the result. There can be some tweaks, but the core engine of the game can’t be unfamiliar. Big mechanical changes should be saved for other games like FATE, 13th Age, and Dungeon World, where you’ll find many D&D players willing to dabble in them, as long as it’s presented as a different game.

So that allure of a new ruleset will be coming up the next few months, the excited buzz of a new D&D. There’ll be tales of fans pulling out their old, creased copy of White Plume Mountain and running a good old dungeon crawl. There’ll be accounts of a weekend jaunt against the giants as a group plows through G1-3. At the end of the year, you’ll be browsing a local big chain bookstore and stumble into the gaming section, seeing a shelf full of new D&D books. There will be that call. The clatter of dice. The groans, cheers, and table chatter of people having fun playing D&D. And I’ll likely be right there with them. I hate to admit it but I’m more like the rabid followers of Games Workshop when it comes to WotC. I’m a D&D junkie and will grudgingly follow the cult of the new books.

Abilities vs skills

I occasionally get this being thrown around in different gaming conversations with how folks lament that skills are just awful in D&D. That it’s so much better just sticking with ability scores. That skills ‘limit’ roleplaying and finding solutions. I consider it poppycock and have been a champion for skills in D&D.

Skills and life experience just make sense, they help add another realistic layer to resolving tasks. Take a theoretical physicist. I’d garner that would translate to an above average INT score in D&D terms. Then take a normal Joe that graduated from high school (regular INT score) that works construction doing welding. Now give them a task of cutting through a locked metal door. Both could very well get the job done eventually.

Now throw them into a sinking ship and give them that same task of cutting through a locked metal door (much like what would model a typical RPG scenario). I think that regular Joe would get through the door in record time, while the physicist would be sleeping with the fishes. It’s not just raw abilities, we also make the use of skills and life experience all the time and even more so in pressure situations.

What also blows my mind is that 4E (and 3E before it) already does this! Skills are based on ability scores. So right off the bat that high charisma PC would likely have a silver tongue, and their diplomacy is above some regular person. It’s not a complete dissociation of ability scores and skills, but rather skill training that compliments natural ability.

I love this idea. It allows for greater flexibility with characters. You are not just a pile of raw ability stats, you can branch out and be good at other things. You can reach beyond just relying on how strong or smart your PC is. If you want to be a learned barbarian with knowledge in the arcana, you can do that and not be saddled if your intelligence score is somewhat average.

Not all skills fit the situation, however I liked the trend that 4E took with making skills be applicable in a broad number of situations. As a DM I think it’s better to remember the importance of pairing up a skill depending on the ability type it’s based on.

As an example in a Gamma World game I had a player trying to focus one of his ranged mutant powers in gravity to pop open an exploding barrel of goop. It was a tricky shot, something as a gut check I would say be based on dexterity, so I called out for an acrobatics check. I got this blank look for a moment. It didn’t register that acrobatics was a skill based on DEX. A dexterity check alone could have worked, but if a player had additional acrobatics skill they could get a bonus. If anything, it was a potential boon to the character depending on where their skill training lay.

I never saw this as a problem in the game. If anything it would encourage players to try different things and round out their character more than dumping everything into a skill or two. The broader the applications a skill could have, the more adept they would be at handling different situations. If anything, they were more confident of trying things rather than sitting back and letting the high charisma player do all the talking.

I’ll admit skills are not perfect for all systems. Savage Worlds has a big divergence between skills and traits. While it’s easier to pick up skills if you have a high strength, you actually need training in fighting to be good at it. However this isn’t seen in D&D.

In 4E particularly, the constant level bonus is sort of silly. Especially as the DCs are continually shifted up. I never quite liked that and felt it better to have just stuck with the idea of paragon and epic penalties that were in the DMG. If I run 4E games in the future, likely I’ll just have a bonus every 4 levels and keep all DC’s at level 1 (with appropriate tier penalties).

DnDnext has some nifty ideas. Most task resolutions revolve around ability scores, but there’s a bonus if trying to do certain tasks based on a skill mastery. It’s pretty close to what is in 4E right now. Still I wish skills were more prominent in DnDnext, but I guess that label of skills chafes at people.

So I encourage folks to not get mired down with terminology. Instead look at the mechanics underlying checks. It’s all based on ability scores you just have the added bonus of being able to train in specific skill sets. Allow that in your game. It’ll give the players freedom to work out a PC that is more unique than a set of six stats.Half-OrcWillingham

A summer of D&D fun

I expect some news will be trickling out about DnDnext come Gencon. Modularity with the rules seems to be the big theme. You have a core set of rules, with optional cogs of details and working gears to slip into the game. It also seems many of the core books will be pushed out sooner, rather than a long rollout of material. I expect other later releases will be more campaign setting-type material (like the Planes, Underdark, and such) rather than another PHB 2.

Still I fret a bit about the new player experience. Dumping 3 tomes of information onto a new person can be daunting. Having a boxed set of basic rules would be a great starting point.

I think that’s something which sort of killed 4E. Much of it seemed for existing D&D players and not much emphasis put towards the newly drafted group of brand new adventurers. You had a basic set, that was redone into an Essentials format, and then an entirely new line of new products (Essentials) that differed in presentation from the core books. It just exploded into this line of products that made things more confusing and diluted the new player experience even more.

I’ll go a bit more on this. I never quite got the focus group for the Red Box. It seemed packaged in a way to draw in the nostalgia of the older crowd that used to play D&D. Like it was to rekindle all those fond memories of gaming in the past. What about the 12 year old kid wandering through the store? Take a moment to track down a few pics and videos of the Pathfinder beginner box. Go ahead, I’ll wait…..

…THAT’S how you design and present an rpg. That is something to spark a kid’s interest to pick up a box and carry it out the store. WotC decided to go the whole retro 80’s deal. A poor decision there.

What would entail this new introductory boxed set? Aside from an introductory document (start here, what is an RPG, a step-by-step way to navigate a character sheet, introduce core game mechanics, etc.) a slimmed down rule set would be peachy. Give us your human, dwarf, elf, halfling races. Give us the fighter, wizard, cleric, and thief classes. Give us a trimmed list of specialties of two options. Give us rules for character generation, not just pre-gen characters to use. More importantly give us rules and material for the DM to get up to level 5.

That’s right, stop it at level 5. Figure a group playing every week, leveling every other week, and you’ve got 2+ months of D&D goodness. A summer of D&D fun. Wet the appetites of new players and get them playing D&D. If they want to take the plunge, there are 3 core books they can buy which open up the game fully.

Hands down, this should be the entry into the world of D&D. You’ve got a ‘basic’ set. A set that has everything you need to play, that allows for new adventures and characters to be created. A boxed set that has everything you ever need to play D&D.

But if that’s not enough, if you really want more options and the means to create a long term campaign with prolonged character progression, buy the ‘advanced’ rules. It’s the same core game just lots more options. And as a marketing strategy something very recognizable to older players. People that you might want to stroke up the fires of nostalgia, a group of folks that might get the desire to pick up the rules and share with their kids, having a ‘basic’ set and the option to pick up ‘advanced’ rules with 3 core books harkens back to AD&D of old.

So if you are a core book person, why buy the beginner boxed set? What would be in it for you? Aside from a decent adventure and a set of dice, how about some other nifty things that could be used? How about a fold out map of a campaign world (along with a simple gazette)? Even better, throw in a ton of monster tokens and character figure flats. While entirely optional, having stand up figure flats might encourage folks to pick up figures from the miniature line.

Notice I didn’t say a battlemat. It’s not needed. However tokens and figure flats go a long way in helping new players visualize the action. Without needing to be played out on a gridded map, it still can keep a firm foot in the ‘theater of the mind’ while still allowing players a way to better imagine what’s happening.

So give us that WotC. Have that beginner’s box ready to go at the launch of DnDnext. Don’t cheap out on the contents. Give it enough meat and goodies to provide a summer of D&D fun. Have it a product that anyone which regularly plays the game can unerringly say to new folks, ‘If you want to play D&D, start with this box.’

Give DnDnext dials that go up to 11… and ways to turn it down to 8

One aspect that seems to be common in the buzz surrounding DnDnext is modularity. It seems that lots of alternate rules are in the plans. I think that’s a good thing.

Other rule sets dabble in this and it’s something I’ve always appreciated. Granted, I think just about everyone home rules their game a little. Yet I think for new DMs having some guidance is especially beneficial. It’s great to have these core rules, with a few sidebars of suggestions and alternate rules to make the game more complicated (or make things easier).

One thing that stuck out for me with 4E was the lack of official nods towards tweaking the game. While I always got the DM philosophy with 4E being, ‘It’s your game, make it the way you want’, having some options in the books would have been helpful. And the rules that were there could have been emphasized a tad more (pg. 42 DMG). You had this whole debacle of skill check DCs being high, then being cut in half, then shifting up to being close to the original values. Having additional ways to fiddle with the game would have done wonders in addressing errata for these codified rules.

I’ve always liked having the developers provide some suggestions on ways to tinker with the game. It saves me time having to think up and test out my own ideas when I could be spending that playing games. Plus I think having rules that are more fluid to different play styles gives the game room to appeal to more people. For organized play this can be an issue, however it’s something that can be worked around (there is always that option of using a ‘vanilla’ set of rules if needed).

One thing I am hoping for however, are not just ideas and tweaks to add complexity and make the game more challenging to players. There should also be options to streamline the game more and beef up PC power. While the core base of the rules should provide a challenge to PCs by default, having some options to put on the kid’s gloves would be nice. Some groups may not be full of super-optimized character builds and having the game locked into that default setting for mechanics can be problematic.

4E had encounter building pretty solid, however as the game progressed with different player options I think it began to slide towards altering core monsters to provide a challenge. It seemed the game sort of straddled trying to cater to the needs of power gamers and other groups with less optimized characters. The math of the game grew into being built around PCs having defenses of X and attack bonuses of Y at level Z. If you opted to work on other stats, you sort of shot yourself in the leg with player advancement. So having options of turning down the game difficulty should not be overlooked.

Either way, it looks like the intention of DnDnext will be to cover a lot of different play styles over a core framework of rules. A sound decision over just creating one base set of rules that tries to cover everything.

Likely the most succinct argument to keep playing 4E

WotC has recently put up a podcast of Acquisitions Inc. attempting to convert their 4E characters into a version compatible with DnDNext. A fairly decent way to promote the upcoming version and get players of 4E behind the latest edition being worked on. However, there is a short minute and a half (16:00 to 17:35) where Mike Krahulik brings up a question about needing to plunge into DnDnext.

“Like, I already felt like I could do with whatever I wanted with these rules. So I don’t understand why I need a new set of rules that I do with whatever I want with.”

It’s a straightforward question. The response is something I think the WotC staff feels wholeheartedly. They don’t want people to be marginalized for playing older editions, especially 4E. They want to make a very inclusive edition that can get everyone around the table. Yet, I still feel that trying to crank out another edition will mean pushing that product, and also mean trying to get as many players on board with it.

Support for 4E will likely evaporate. Players are going to have to decide to take the plunge with the new books or be lumped in the folks that are lovers of past editions. I am rather boggled why WotC is even bothering to release an new print version of 3.5 with DnDnext on the horizon. Especially as DnDnext is to be the great unifier of all editions.

So with one foot in developing a new game, and another shuffling around with releasing older rules and material, I wonder what role DnDnext will have on gamers tables. Will it be heralded as a new edition like 3.0 and 4E, or will it peter out like D&D Essentials?

In defense of skills and training

I am a fan of skills in RPGs. More importantly, I’m a fan of being able to increase skill abilities as a part of character progression.

DnDnext is having skills take the backseat somewhat to primarily focus on ability scores. Skills are there, but associated with specific backgrounds, or tagged bonuses using certain equipment. I appreciate the simplicity of that concept. How high you can jump, how quickly you can diffuse a tense situation, or how well you can follow a trail in the woods, all of it primarily depends on the PC ability scores. It’s a very convenient way to express what situations a player can expect they will excel, or do poorly, in.

Yet, I like that added layer of training for particular skills to that concept. Yes, how quickly you can climb might well be determined on your strength, but having training and experience in athletics will give you an edge. I particularly like how 4E added a huge bonus from skill training that would nearly equal a max ability score bonus of the same skill (or exceed it). However having training and a high key ability bonus for particular skills would just about trivialize all but the most difficult skill checks.

One thing I didn’t like was the continual level bonus players got with skills in 4E. For my next game, I’m planning on throwing that out and just keep DC values at first level for everything. To me it was sort of silly to keep adding bonuses to skills when the DC values also went up proportionally. However I admit there was a concept there that never quite got much traction.

Given skill challenges and DC values were based on the level of players, I always felt relative level could have been a factor for determining DC values. Epic and paragon tiers had this somewhat for certain skills, where each respective tier would bump up DC values for stuff like knowledge checks. Yet the level bonus was ever really tweaked much. It all fell upon whether it was an easy, moderate, or hard check. However sometimes I think relative level might have added another gradient in resolving skill checks.

I could easily see a 1st level PC having a more difficult time interacting with lower-tier nobility compared to a mid-heroic PC. With both DC values based on the same difficult check, I could pick a single DC value for a level 4 NPC. That mid-heroic PC might likely have as much renown and recognition as the trivial lord, so their level bonus would come into play. Instead it seems that idea just never cemented and 4E fell back on using just the 3 types of DC values that continually shifted as the player leveled up.

Still with some of these shortfalls, I like the idea of skills. I think it gives players a way to further customize their character. I particularly liked how 4E allowed players to learn new skills through feats. Want to gain more training in religion? Just pick up a skill training feat. In the end if I wanted to play a fighter that was very educated and a learned scholar, I could do so getting training in select skills (or picking up feats to do so). While my PC might not be on par with that wizard’s trained knowledge of history, I could certainly pull my mental weight if needed. Having skills instead primarily based on ability scores, without a bonus due to skill training, sort of takes away that flexibility.

So I am a fan of skills. I’m a fan of being able to increase proficiency with them (or at least be able to pick up new skills). 4E wasn’t too bad handling skills. Yet, I sort of liked how 3.5 allowed for continual skill progression (not a fan of the expanded skill lists though and found it almost too specific for skill checks). I’ve been thinking of adding a flat bonus to trained skills every 4 levels as a house rule for my next game (ditching the continual level bonus in the rules). While I appreciate the trimmed down resolution of tasks based on ability scores in DnDnext, I sort miss having that skill list.

Who is DnDNext for?

There is a nice post up on A Walk in the Dark that has some thoughts on prioritizing concepts and rules for DnDnext. They look at the challenges of deciding what would go in (and stay out) of a RPG, and how that list of features might be drafted up. However I look at it through a different perspective. Who is the target audience for DnDnext and could you list those groups of players in priority?

Off the top of my head I’d list them as:

1. Pathfinder players
2. New players
3. Players of older D&D editions

You could lump 4E players in with the third bunch, personally I don’t think they are a target group. 4E is too recent and the play test rules seem a pretty far departure from those books. Someone has quipped that the edition wars are dead, and the old-school D&D guys have won. I tend to agree. 4E could use some refinement, but the play test rules pretty much indicate that DnDnext won’t be 4.5E (actually that already came out as D&D Essentials). Some 4E lovers will stick with their books, while others will gladly play the new edition. I’m not expecting DnDnext to be saddled down with mechanics to keep 4E players happy though.

So if folks from older editions and Pathfinder are a big chunk of potential players, what is going to draw them into playing DnDnext? What types of rules and degree of complexity will get them interested in playing this newest version? What are the key characteristics of this new game that are going to make them stop playing an older version of D&D (Pathfinder included)? Folks at WotC have put a lot of time into this. The concept of modular rules have been floated around, likely upping the complexity and realism if a group wanted that. All fine and good.

However I wonder how compatible those ideas, that are near and dear to fans of older D&D, will fly with new players. How many concepts of past editions, like saving throws, fire and forget spells, and negative hit points (hell, even hit points in general) are game mechanics that make for a fun game to the new player. Are we locked into ideas because that is the way it’s always been done? Or are they being used to make a fun game? More importantly, could these rules be used by a brand new DM to run a fair, and fun, game.

With so many folks that have a ton of experience both playing and running D&D, I think we tend to forget about the group of school kids that are playing it for their first time. Hell, maybe I’m totally off the mark and new players are not even part of the target audience for DnDnext. It’d be a shame if they aren’t.

This is a point where I likely diverge from others regarding DnDnext. I think it’s great to have all sorts of players of different editions and RPGs all under the banner of Dungeons and Dragons. However if it comes to keeping an older audience happy, and something that would really draw new players into the game, I’d go with the fresh blood every time.

It’s the new players that will keep the hobby alive. While some may have stopped, or moved onto other games, a player saying they cut their teeth on RPGs first by playing Dungeons and Dragons should be a major goal for DnDnext. That it becomes THE RPG that new players to the hobby are exposed to. It’s the fantasy adventure game that older folks will look fondly back on. Hopefully as rules and systems are tinkered with, and the game is further developed, new players creep up on that list of people that DnDnext is being made for. Having older fans of past editions will be great, but a priority should be towards making rules new players will love.

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.