Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Thing I Like About Type 4 D&D...

I like how they formalize they idea that you can make a "to hit" roll against not just armor class but any ability score (since it's ascending AC, the scale's pretty close).

Combined with "to hit" numbers being expressed as bonuses (as in type III D&D) it means you can skip a lot of special mechanics for nonphysical attacks & it all goes smooth without having to invent a new rule for every kind of attack. (Not that I'm opposed to different rules for exotic attacks, but doing it this way as a general rule makes hacking and guessing a lot easier.)

Like ok, you want a mind blast? Your wisdom bonus is your plus to hit and the opponent's wisdom is the target number. Yay. Throwing a boulder? To hit vs. dex-as-target number.

If you can think of a reason this isn't a good idea (other than minor pixel-bitching about how the numbers line up) let me know.

I should shut up now, I gotta run a game tonight...


  1. Well, one argument against this is that it doesn't scale with levels. Saving throws and To Hit rolls do, and these are already adjusted by STR, WIS, DEX.

    Keep in mind that I am a strict Type-1 AD&D player though.

  2. I'm thinking "Will" would be the official defense against a mind blast, and "Reflexes" would be the target number for a boulder attack. These defenses seem to be derived in some way from the very ability scores you mentioned though. I'd be happier to drop them and use the ability scores directly. Heck, I'd be happy to drop the ability modifiers and use the raw ability scores for "to-hit" number, but that's why I like Tunnels & Trolls.

  3. @sir allen

    1-that's definitely true, but AC doesn't scale with level either.

    2-Maybe just stack different classes (type-3-style) save mods on TOP of the relevant ability score?

    yeah, i know about will and reflex. Does T&T improve those scores as you level up?

  4. @sir allen
    (and it's easy to derive what the "save modifiers" in AD&D terms would be, just by subtracting 10 from the target number on page 79)

  5. Advancement in T&T is based on improving your ability scores— so yes, players can improve abilities of their choice as they gain experience.

  6. Another option would be to split the difference and work the math such that the players always make the roll.

    So when the monsters attack, PCs make a AC roll or saving throw, but when the PCs strike back they make an attack roll against AC or Fort/Ref/Will/etc.

    The Type 3 edition of Unearthed Arcana had just these very rules (and due to the OGL, they are now online):

  7. @Jonathan
    I think the "PCs -usually- roll" idea was implied in the early D&D rules, but i think in the end it makes mechanics confusing.

    I'd prefer "opposed rolls for eveything" it's more fun at the table and easier to write rules.

  8. Yeah, this is one of the reasons I like DMing and playing 4th edition. Pick a stat, slap on the usual half-level bonus and enhancement bonus, pick one of the four defenses, and roll!

    @Jonathan: I'd give that idea a shot, though it makes math-head DMs cringe. (Anyone who rolls a d20 has a slight advantage over a set target number.) Regardless, the idea does emphasize the game being about the PCs.

    @Zak: I'd try opposed rolls too, but I imagine it would get a bit annoying as the novelty wore off. Too many die rolls, and what happens when a tie happens?

  9. Many games already do this by requiring some type of to hit roll in the first place. D&D, perhaps due to its age, has long gotten away with, "Well, this automatically hits, this needs a to hit roll, this needs a to hit roll but ignores armor, etc..." The monstrous list of saving throws in the older edition and the evolution of hit rolls versus saving throws are good things to me.

  10. @joegkushner

    ok, why do you like the long list of saving throw rolls?

  11. FWIW:

    The Type 4 mechanic for Defenses (AC, Fort, Ref, Will) showed up in the WotC Star Wars Saga Ed. RPG. The major difference was the absence of an AC stat—it was combined with Reflex.

    Armor gave you a bonus to Reflex, but at the cost of gaining a level-based bonus to Reflex. It was supposed to account for the heroic characters in the films being able to get by without regularly wearing armor. (There were a few class options/Talents that allowed a character to gain the level bonus plus some of the armor bonus.) A few armors provided a bonus to Fort defense (because of environmental protections built into the armor).

    The second wind concept also showed up in Saga Ed. Star Wars, but the healing surges did not. Also, while Type 4 allows the use of the better of 2 certain stats for Defenses (Str or Con for Fort; Dex or Int for Ref; Wis or Cha for Will), Saga Ed. had them "fixed" (like in 3.X ed.); in later supplements feats appeared that allowed the Type 4-style choice (1 feat per Defense).

    Also had the +1 to 2 stats mechanic instead of +1 to 1 stat (thouugh the Heroic/Paragon/Epic tiers weren't there; Star Wars Saga Ed. went up to lvl. 20 only).

    And, all playable character Species had the same Level Adjustment, if you will: +0. Still had stat + and - as in 3.X ed.

    The encounter power mechanic was the "default" for Force powers, though a nat. 20 die roll would allow the use of a Force power again that encounter (and there were class-based Force abilities that expanded these for certain powers).

    There were lots of other little Type 4-isms as well: adding half your level to dmg. rolls, for example. Then again, there were mechanics from d20 Modern thrown in as well (Action Points, the Talent trees for classes, etc.).

  12. Earthdawn worked similarly-- or at least, had a Physical & a Social & a Magical defense. Which meant that your plate armor might be really high physical, but low in the rest; the robe of the magi might be high magical & low on the rest; & your Alexander McQueen fashion might be high on the social & low on the rest. Mix n' Match as you like for better-than-average armors.

  13. I remember that prior to 4e's release there was a lot of excitement for it based on the thought that it was closely resemble Star Wars Saga. For whatever reason they decided to keep in Armor adding to AC. 4e's Weapon Proficiency Bonus is intended to counteract the Armor to AC bonus. Otherwise everything really would be on the same level, scaling up at 1/2 level.

    Personally, I prefer Armor with a Soak mechanic generally with a penalty to dodge but I don't get to make those decisions.

  14. I agree - I'm a dyed-in-the-wool 4e hater but I do like the new d20 + half level + stat core mechanic and three standard defenses. It's quite streamlined. The only problem I have with it is that it makes classes more 'the same' since they all have the same general half level component, and it makes stat dependency more important in turn. Since a high stat is so important to get an advantage there, you see even more wild split min/maxing.

  15. mxyzplk has said almost everything I would have. The game's focus on this bewildering array of largely identical powers tends to detract from the (relative) elegance of the "d20 + half level + stat core mechanic and three standard defenses" system.

    Best of all, it's a more or less discrete subsystem, so you could quite easily import it into another version of the game without too much hassle. You also bring in the dependency on high statistics, but that may not be an issue.

  16. I like the defenses as a general concept, but there are a couple weird bits I wise they could divorce:

    * Now we have a bland save mechanism.
    * I understand the math, but the "add 1/2 level" everywhere seems clunky.
    * I would make more sense if they're strictly defined AC and excluded the dex bonus from it.
    * It's been a while since I touched Type IV, but doesn't it mean an area effect can do full damage to some people in the target zone, but absolutely no damage to others?

  17. @widderslainte

    2. Clunky in what way? The +1/2 level bonus is simple to apply, but yeah, many have criticized it. Or rather, many have criticized how it exists to make room for the traditional +X items, and how it creates the infamous math holes. Myself, I'd be happier with an even simpler +level bonus.

    4. Yes, in the same way that one fireball target in a previous edition might get fried while another might get off with half [or no] damage.

  18. @Tequila Sunrise

    2. Clunky in the same way that some people find THAC0 or Descending AC. Awkward, not bad or mathematically illogical.

    4. Given the nature of AD&D saving throws, "save vs half" makes sense for fireballs. "All or nothing" would make sense for a an area effect charm, but not a 30 cubic foot firestorm. That's AD&D simulationist preference speaking.

  19. It's funny, the simulationist in me always thought that any spell should have a partial effect even if the target makes its save or whatever. I mean, it's magic! In the case of a charm like sleep, I'd expect even strong-willed targets to be sluggish as they fight off the urge to lay down for a nap. I mean, I can keep myself awake when I'm really sleepy, but I know I'm not operating at full capacity.

  20. I'm young enough that NOT doing that would BLOW MY MIND.

  21. widderslainte, I can't believe I'm going to defend D&D4, but here goes. As someone who has never been able to get my head around THAC0, despite fully understanding the principle behind it, I can say that I had no problem at all with D&D4's "+½ level" mechanic; since it's rounded down, all you're doing is adding a +1 bonus to everything every even-numbered level. It might be smoother to simply add +1 every level, but it's still not exactly "clunky" to my eye.

    Of all of the mechanics one could complain about in D&D4, I wouldn't have thought the half level bonus would be one of them, but then I haven't played it in over a year now, so I don't know what kind of loopholes and glitches people have discovered.