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.

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