Dungeons. Dragons. Graph paper. Funny dice.

Monotony of the best power

I’ve been reviewing my many lingering draft posts. Though never published at the time, this was one of the first posts I wrote for this blog—when my group was just starting to play 4e, and I hadn’t discovered the OSR. Even knowing what I know now, I think the point is still valid and worth posting.

I’ve always liked having mini’s at the table, so that’s not a problem for me. Tactical concerns are natural for a game that has its root in Chainmail. Since D&D is no longer a wargame, however, it might be better if those tactics were left as a matter of player style rather than enshrined in the core rules. Including a catalogue of tactics provides players with ready options, but tends to make them lazy about looking for alternatives not spelled-out in the book. Such detailed rules can easily serve as a constraint rather than an inspiration.

The 4e mage (and most everybody) uses their best power—the same power—in most combat rounds, over and over again, which turns out not to be an improvement in terms of combat variety over previous editions (fighter attacks with his sword again; mage uses his sling again to save his big spell for the end). As in previous editions, this pattern is exacerbated by lazy DM-ing. I need to give the players situations or set pieces that challenge them to do something out of the ordinary.

The only thing I would add in retrospect is that the interminable combats in 4e make the problem worse.


Tyler February 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM

I think that’s where systems with maneuvers or stances pay off. The fighter still uses his sword, but in different ways to achieve varied effects: blinding their opponent by opening a cut over their eyes, hamstringing and so on.

Arkhein February 17, 2011 at 1:00 AM

4e can be a big pain with it’s ‘one good’ move. I have sat there and gotten really excited when, in ten sessions, I finally get to use one particular power I had picked months ago. It’s a bit ridiculous.

I found the Ardent class really fun is being able to switch things up. The opposite, of course, would be the Ranger. :)

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