Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Limit Breakers" in 4E

I had mentioned previously that I had introduced a Power Meter/"Limit Breaker" mechanic into Paper Legends. It really was a double edged sword. The plus side is it keeps players paying attention when things are turning into a grind as they're anticipating when they can unleash a Daily Power with all of the perks going off. The down side, it creates one more thing to track in an already mechanic heavy game (especially if you have a bunch of effects floating like saving throws, buffs, penalties, on-going damage, etc.)

The nine circles on the upper right corner represent 1's. Each circle on the colored strips on the left represent 10's.

30+ points allows you to use Daily Encounter Powers

60+ points gives you a +1 to hit bonus when using the Daily Power

120+ points allows you to spend a healing surge and gain 1/2 surge value in hit points.

200 points automatically grants you max dice rolls for damage or healing bonuses, etc. Acquiring points caps at 200.

*The bonuses stack as you clear different levels. The Power Meter resets to Zero the instant a Daily Power is used in an encounter. The damage or healing from the Daily Power do not contribute points to the Power Meter.

Players gain points for dealing damage, taking damage, and by healing. So basically when their action actively effects HP, they accumulate points.
*Thor does a Twin Strike with his bow and does 7 and 9 points of damage to his two targets. Thor gains 16 points.
*Bellows receives 20 points of damage from an enemy attack. He gains 20 points.
*An area of effect attack via blast or burst do accumulate. If your blast hits 4 targets and you roll, 12, 20, 14, 9 for damage, you gain 55 points on the Power Meter.
*Damage is still rolled for minions. It's not your fault that they're too weak to feel the full effects of the face beating.
*A healer will gain the value of hit points recovered by his/her healing power. Even if done to multiple allies. The recipient of the healing do not gain points.
*Popping a Second Wind does gain points for the Power Meter.
*Taking ongoing damage does gain points to the victim.
*Making an attack that does ongoing damage does not give points as the player is not actively causing the damage anymore.

Why did I introduce this mechanic into my game? It felt like something fun to do. I wanted to play D&D like a video game in a sense and a Power Meter seemed fitting. It also takes away some power gaming elements and brings a new element of strategy to the party. No first rounds where everyone unloads their Daily Powers and it also makes it harder to use Daily Powers on back to back turns by the same player.

My biggest joy from this mechanic was the anticipation of the players to wrack up all of those points in order to get all of the bonuses along with getting all emotional when they agonize over whether they should use the Daily Power that turn vs holding back as they're not far from gaining another bonus. The players had fun and it helps deter the grind feeling in the late game as they're still actively ticking away on their cards and waiting for that glorious turn when all the bonuses go off with an already more powerful than normal attack. They really make Daily Powers seem even more special and it's really something when they get to 200 points and then fudge on the roll.

Is this mechanic for everyone? Nope. Is it perfect? Nope. But my friends around the table had fun with it and that's what counts. It would also have to be scaled in Paragon and Epic Tiers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RIP Memphis Green

So yesterday marked the end of my level 10 Elf Seeker. I had expressed to the DM that I would not be hanging around in this campaign once Heroic Tier was done. Monday night gaming till midnight was just taking a toll on me on Tuesday mornings and at the moment, 4E doesn't have my attention like it did before. Just a case of my mind needing to take a break from it and go do other things.

Kris our DM was itching to kill a PC, so I'm sure that he enjoyed this. Memphis has a thing about riding large monsters and blasting them in the back of the head at point blank with his blunderbuss (we just used the rules for a long bow) with magical insects as ammunition. In the beginning, I found the Seeker to be such a "crappy" controller especially when you compare him to say...a Wizard. I found his powers too situational before all the bells and whistles could go off. Don't get me wrong, when they work, they're terrifying. But they require more finesse.

I've always had a beef with 4E locking up with players not moving around enough when I DM (it's amazing how stupid characters all of a sudden became tactical geniuses). So even though Memphis' attacks are ranged, I played him as a compulsive in your face type warrior who would run all over the place as long as space permitted. If I double move and shift as a minor, it's possible for Memphis to clear 17 squares in one turn when moving closer to an enemy. As I mentioned earlier, I originally found him difficult to use properly as a controller. So instead of being the one to clear minions, I ended up trying to do my "controlling" by engaging the big guy on the battle field and trying to take him out of the equation for a few turns while the rest of the party mopped up the other baddies. Once that was taken care of, the rest of the group would rally around whatever it was that Memphis was riding on (and in most cases he was also half dead by this point) and beat face.

So how did Memphis go? Well, on our dungeon crawl searching for Babagya, we ended up in a tomb where some Zombies rose up along with an Undead Firebat. In the back stood a T-rex made of vines. Seeing as the Zombies and the Firebat had found their fun with the other PC's, Memphis sprints across the hall, and climbs up onto it's back and begins blasting away at this thing. Completely separated from the party, he eventually go down from the poison in the Vine-a-saurus' vine attacks. Having been so attached to Memphis' character, Holly's/Skull's dragon familiar was played up to be freaking out when Memphis finally fell limp.

For fun, I grabbed some Treant minis and dropped them on the table to represent the Primal spirits reacting to his death. The party was in very bad shape between auras, ongoing damage and status effects. Heals had run dry along with a Paladin who had no surges left. To keep me amused (and to give the rest of the group a better chance), towards the end, Kris had me rolling damage on Memphis' turn in the initiative. This representing the primal energies still being hostile towards the creature as magical insects from Lola the blunderbuss were crawling out of it to gnaw on the thing, along with Jiminy Cricket stabbing at it with his umbrella. Fittingly, it was the damaged rolled for the biting swarm that finally took down the Vine-a-Saur.

Memphis will rest in peace and for my last session in this campaign that will take place next week, I'm going to either make a Dragonborn or Thri-Keen. The Dragonborn will represent Huggles the familiar basically Digi-volving and using Memphis' old gear or the Thri-Keen will be Jiminy Cricket being fully fleshed out to avenge Memphis' death. I just want to finally see Babagya go down. Boss battle time!