Sunday, March 22, 2009

Three wrongs make a right?

I am one of those guys who can spend hours debating the minutia of RPG systems.  One frequent debating partner of mine is my friend Todd.  He is not one to embrace new game systems lightly, and 4E is no exception.  Some of his recent issues with 4E include:

  • It is too difficult to hit opponents.  In 3E it was often too easy, but 4E has swung too far the other way.  This can frustrate players, especially when they are using a one shot ability like a daily power.
  • There is really no reason to use implements unless you have a magical one.  Well, maybe for Wizards, but the rest of the spell-casting classes get nothing.
  • The feats Implement Expertise and Weapon Expertise, from the new Player's Handbook II, are really too good to pass up.  When you pick those feats you either choose a implement for the former type or a weapon group for the latter.  You get a +1 when using the item of your choice.  The bonus increases to +2 at level 15 and +3 at level 25.

I am not sure if I agree with him on all points, but I realized that a simple house rule that would help address all of the points.  Simply grant all characters a bonus feat at first level that must be spent on either Implement Expertise or Weapon Expertise.

Having this feat would help with the issue hitting opponents.  It also gives spell-casters other than wizards a reason to use implements from the start.  Finally, getting one of the feats for free alleviates the "must have" nature of the feat, since you will have it. 

It is true, some of the classes that use both implements and weapons will have to make a choice, but many characters in those classes tend to lean one way or the other already.  If they really want both feats, well at least it just costs them one instead of two.

Is this change really necessary?  Of course not!  Nevertheless, it alleviates some potential issues without changing game balance too much.  So if your players agree with Todd on the issues described above, why not give it a try!


Wyatt said...

A lot of people are offerring this as a fix as well. Personally, I think WotC should just tell us what the discrepancy is between player attacks and monster defenses, so we can make up the difference. Something like a -2 blanket penalty to monster defenses seems to me like it'd be easier and cause less drama than having to give players free attack bonuses.

Nevertheless, I try to offer players interesting ways of getting attack bonuses in-play, but it is much simpler just to give them the feat.

KingSpoom said...

I, too, have found that it is normally a little harder to hit. However, I've also noted that it becomes easy to hit when characters start tossing around powers that aid others, especially warlords. Depending upon how you balance your enemies, the warlord might be the new must have.

Tim said...

Warlords are definitely something f a must have, as the ability to move players around to greater benefit is where they shine. It's also the big selling point on 4e, the increased tactical movement of players, not just finding your square & sitting there (with the exceptions of the defenders, they usually just linchpin themselves & make the fight come to them)

but in a party that has a hard time generating those positions, or fails to take advantage of them, it can get kind of painful in a hurry.

On the other hand, I do agree with the "well, duh" nature of these feats, they're just too good not to have. it helps on so many regards it's not even polite to make arguments about it.

the real thing to wonder about it if Wizards made the monsters hard to hit because they wanted to force players to work together, to instill the 'us against him' mentality you sometimes need to take down a baddie, or if it was sloppy monster statting on their part.

Thasmodious said...

I think they felt the hit rate the math gave as is, was a good one that would be fun and make bonuses matter, but as the game has been played by the masses, it's become apparent that the hit rate needs a bit of adjusting. Hence the new "must have" feats. I generally hate must have feats so I, too, am likely just going to give the feat to all PCs.

Daniel Anand said...

I don't see this kind of problems in my game, except for the third one. My players knows the importance of hit chance, always choosing this over damage, for example. That's why I think the Weapon Expertise is too good.

The second point is true, but it's only true for the first or second level.

Off-topic: I also use this theme in my blog (, and I love it! Nice choice!