Character Chassis: Back to Basics
I revised this post from yesterday about removing ability scores, to clear up some wording, before I continued the vein of thought. We’re starting with a stripped-down chassis for a character, before class or ability scores are added, before race or role are determined. How does the character engine perform before given a body and a paint job? …And I’m officially done with the car comparison.
In Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons, there are too many actions a character can take in combat. How do I know this? Some twenty pages of combat rules in the Player’s Handbook. The game shouldn’t need a textbook, so let’s see what we can do to trim it down. Have you ever used a bull rush? Aid another? Crawl? A coup de grace?
We’re going to go ahead and keep hit points, so I’m thinking that Second Wind should stick around — not to mention the idea that one of your allies can enable you to use it when you’ve been “downed.” Basic attacks are pretty much the norm, which can be weapon- or non-weapon in nature. It doesn’t really matter. These resemble melee and ranged attacks from Third Edition, they just have a technical name now, no frills.
Per the topic earlier about movement and flanking, I’m thinking that rather than making movement based on specific positions, a single move action can be used to either engage or disengage in melee with an enemy or group of enemies. When you approach one one enemy in melee, you join a group that includes everyone else engage in melee with them. There can be multiple melees at once.
Maybe, similar to Channel Divinity, there might be a pool of basic “Martial Maneuvers” that the various martial classes could draw from and add to through feat selection? That seems to me to be the most appropriate place to put some of the more obscure combat actions of questionable usefulness. Readied attacks could go there, rather than cluttering up the actions of other, non-martial characters.
Forget shifting to avoid opportunity attacks, players don’t need to always take them as they do now in Fourth Edition. Wonderful and innovative as they are, they bog the game down whenever someone needs to do something. Simplified as they are now, they still cause grief at the table. Let’s make opportunity attacks a function of the warlord — the basic martial Leader among Leader classes.
Seize the Opportunity [Martial] Leader At-Will
Immediate interrupt, Ranged visual
Trigger: When an enemy disengages while in melee
Target: One ally engaged in the same melee
Effect: The target can take a melee basic attack against the triggering enemy as an opportunity action.
With a power like that, you can take opportunity attacks out of the combat section of your Player’s Handbook and put them on your Leader’s character sheet instead. That’s a lot more useful for everyone in the group, I think. It’s simple and useable. You could call leaving a zone a type of disengaging — refer to my “Zergling Round-Up” power from before. A zone would be a kind of sub-melee grouping.
Standard player powers:
1.) Basic Attack (Standard; at-will)
2.) Engage/Disengage (Move; at-will)
3.) Second Wind (Standard; encounter)
4.) First Aid (Minor; at-will)
5.) Racial Power? (Varies; encounter)
6.) Role Power? (Minor; at-will)
7.) Class Attack 1 (Standard; at-will)
8.) Class Attack 2 (Standard; encounter)
9.) Class Attack 3 (Standard; daily)
10.) Class Utility (Action and usage vary)
Since combat and teamwork are major elements of the game, I think this is a great place to start. Ultimately, I don’t know how important some of these powers will be, or if it would make more sense to merge or eliminate a few. It seems like more than one attack would be excessive, but I guess we’ll figure out as this moves forward.