Friday, July 23, 2010

4e Rogue

So, I mentioned reading the D&D 4e Player's Handbook last week.  What did I think?

First, a caveat.  I confess I skipped over most of the character class powers, which in one sense is the "meat" of the book.  And I still have never played the game.  So I'm not sure why you are reading this.  I don't read your blog posts about how much you would enjoy parachuting based only on reading half a how-to book.

The game sure seems to have far more potential for a "story heavy" style of play than its critics often portray.  It certainly is more appropriate for this than the old AD&D I played as a kid.

It uses seventeen skills, which is a solid start and improvement over AD&D.  It changes hit points and healing to work better in a party without a healer.  Using four different kinds of to-hit ratings instead of only armor class means a two-PC party can be feasible in combat.  The main drawback is several character classes are nearly useless unless playing with miniatures on a grid, which means combat will probably slow down the pace of the story compared to non-combat situations.

It certainly is not the game I am used to.  (Infinite magic missiles and cantrips?)  But nearly all the changes would help an adventure's narrative potential.

Could I make a first level character suitable for fun solo play in a "story heavy" game in an urban setting?  I tried, just for fun.

To have as many skills as possible trained well, I used a human rogue with the feat Warrior of the Wild.  This could give my character every interpersonal and urban skill except Diplomacy, so I guess my character is a bit of a bully.  His trained skills are Acrobatics, Bluff, Insight, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth, Streetwise, and Thievery.

In 4e you have a lot of control over your character's ability scores.  Picking Str 10, Con 10, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 12, and Cha 16 means the character has defensive ratings of AC 16, Fortitude 11, Reflex 17, and Willpower 14.  The character is about as balanced defensively as can happen.

Well, if the character is a rogue then what interesting back-story can I create?  The book is quite skimpy about the setting, but gives a few pages to alignment and deities.  Without much to go on, I decide the character is the third son of a noble family who spent his teenage years gaining local renown as a rapier duelist.  After becoming disillusioned with city politics and infuriated at how slumlords and guild-masters take advantage of the city's poor, he became a militant Luddite, a follower of Melora working within his city to halt its spread and slow its population growth.

Being a duelist provides some direction for choosing powers.  Most first-level characters have 15 to 30 hit points.  By picking Quick Draw for my second feat, the character can use Hunter's Quarry and also draw a weapon during the first combat round.  He won't be killing Paladins in one blow, but even without surprise he should win most one-on-one fights with other first-level characters.

(He starts combat with +6 to initiative, and if he wins initiative he has combat advantage.  Then he can move up to 6 spaces, use free rapier draw, use Hunter's Quarry, attack with either Easy Target or Torturous Strike, and thus do an attack at +7 to hit against AC for 2d8+3d6+4 damage.  His normal rapier attacks are nothing special: +7 to hit against either AC or Reflex for d8+d6+4 damage and a choice of either movement or riposte if the attack is against AC.)

UPDATE: Heh.  My combination of rogue/ranger has already been nerfed in "errata documents".

1 comment:

Heather said...

The kids have been studying the D & D 4 handbook trying to choose new characters to draw up. I found a pile of ready made dungeons (unopened) at the thrift shop and they are planning on running them with a friend who also loves D &D. The dungeons even came with grid maps so they are looking for miniatures that will suit the characters they want. Shamus usually uses a plain grid on a a wipe off board so he can draw in the elements each time. Initially we completely avoided using a grid and as you said, with some characters it is totally useless to try.