Reskins made easy Part 1 #dnd

Recently I spoke with someone who had a very interesting situation come up in a game; a shield fighter that needed a ranged weapon.  Their DM was kind enough to allow them a throwing shield, and even allowed them to change one of their powers to focus on said throwing shield.  This brought up an interesting question.  Why doesn’t 4th Edition really go too much into the creation of new powers and general game modification?

Perhaps it was assumed that most people picking up the game for the first time either A: would be happy with the product that they had already or B: were old gamers who already knew the ins and outs of making up your own rules.  Now that just doesn’t seem to fit with the general tradition.  Every incarnation of D&D to date has had some form of walkthrough, however basic, that shows you how to make up new stuff.  Traps, spells, monsters, feats, hell even classes and races are laid out fairly simply in the books.  Change a skin tone, add some talons, a few modifier changes and a racial power?  Bam, new PC race.

Now I’ll relent and say that yes, a lot of gamers are new to D&D with 4th Edition, so it’s not exactly their fault that they don’t know how to make up new stuff.  Rules are rules and some people don’t like to break them.  The problem is, you don’t have to break the rules, only bend them till they fit the shape you want them to.  Remember, the core books are only  a guideline.  They aren’t the end-all-be-all, just a jumping point for your world.

So, for your consideration, I’ve worked up a few templates to help you get started:

At Will: These are your every-day, all the time spam button powers.  Make them quick, dirty and devious.  These can be used for simple attack, defense, tactical positioning, you name it.  Much like prestidigitation, the at will power is your ‘anything-you-can-think-of’ power.

Encounter: Your strong powers, something you can do regularly but need a bit of a breather in between.  These are more significant than your at-will abilities and can be some of your more iconic things like fireballs, thrown hammers and tangling vines.  Think of it this way, if it will take your character more than a few seconds to do it, it’s probably an Encounter power.

Daily: These are your big bad mean motherfucker powers.  Calling down fire from the heavens, summoning a legion of skeletons to fight for you, sending out a wave of energy that heals your allies and hurts your enemies: Dailies.  Remember that when you make a daily power it won’t get used very often, since your players always want to save it till they need it, so make it worth using.

Basic creation runs as such:

Power type[Ranged/Melee/Touch/Self]
Action type[Standard/Move/Minor/Free/Opportunity*]
Power Range[Close/Burst/Line/Cone]
Attack[Base attack/Primary Statistic VS Defense**]
Hit[Damage+bonuses (if applicable)/Secondary Effect]
Effect[Whatever you really want to happen]

*Opportunity attacks are great for interrupts and counter attacks
** Defense depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.  AC and Fortitude are more for physical strikes while Will and Reflex are more focused on spells and area affects

Okay, that’s a little rough, but more or less that’s what you start out with when you’re building a power from scratch.  As for damage and effect, of course you’re the one who finally decides how to run those numbers, but to keep it more or less on the level, stick to this chart for damage vs level and class category:

Striker powers:
At Will: 1-5; 1-2W, 5-10; 2-3W, 10-15; 3-4W, 15-20; 4-5W
Encounter: 1-5; 2-4W, 5-10; 3-5W, 10-15; 5-7W, 15-20; 7-9W
Daily: 1-5; 3-4W+effect, 5-10; 5-6W+effect/healing, 10-15; 7-8W+effect(s)/area, 15-20; 9-11W+effect(s)/negative status

Controller powers:
At Will: 1-5; 1W+effect, 5-10; 2W+effect, 10-15; 3W+effect(s), 15-20; 4W+effect(s)
Encounter: 1-5; 2-3W+effect, 5-10; 3-4W+effect(s), 10-15; 5-6W+effect(s), 15-20; 7-8W+effect(s)
Daily: 1-5; 4W+effect/Area, 5-10; 6-8W+effect(s)/area status, 10-15; 8W+effect(s)/area status/negatives, 15-20; 9-12W+effect(s)/negative status

Leader powers:
At Will: 1-5; 1-2W+effect, 5-10; 2-3W+healing, 10-15; 3-4W+effect(s), 15-20; 4W+effect(s)/healing
Encounter: 1-5; 2-4W+effect/tactics, 5-10; 3-4W+effect(s), 10-15; 5-6W+effect(s)/healing, 15-20; 7-9W+effect(s)/healing
Daily: 1-5; 3-4W+boon/effect, 5-10; 5-6W+effect/healing, 10-15; 7-8W+effect(s)/area/healing, 15-20; 8-10W+effect(s)/negative status

Defender powers:
At Will: 1-5; 1-2W+healing, 5-10; 1-3W+healing, 10-15; 2-4W+effect(s)/healing, 15-20; 3-5W+effect(s)/healing
Encounter: 1-5; 2-3W+effect/healing, 5-10; 2-4W+effect(s)/boon, 10-15; 4-5W+effect(s)/healing, 15-20; 6-9W+effect(s)/healing
Daily: 1-5; 2-4W+healing/boon, 5-10; 3-5W+effect/healing, 10-15; 4-7W+effect(s)/area/healing/boon, 15-20; 6-10W+healing/status/effect(s)

Again, kind of rough but it gives a good idea of progression through the levels.  After level 20 things get pretty nuts, so I’ll leave that open for you to decide what fits your campaign and your party.  Play around with making new things up!  You can’t break the game, and you’ll find what you’re good at and what you aren’t good at.  Stretch yourself a bit and see what happens, you might be surprised.

ALSO if you are a player, bring this kind of thing up with your DM, they’re there to make the game fun for everyone.  Sit down and talk about what you want to do and be creative about it.  As a DM myself I love this kind of player driven change to the game and I don’t think any DM I know doesn’t.  Give it a try, you never know when a little change to the game could make it awesome for everyone.

Next time, we skin monsters.


~ by darkpatu on October 18, 2011.

5 Responses to “Reskins made easy Part 1 #dnd”

  1. I know this makes me the grumpy old asshole, but lack of encouragement to homebrew is another reason I really dislike 4e.

    • It bothers me too, but that’s when your previous edition training comes into play.

    • I really like 4e, but only because I play it like 3.5e. I’ve even had a devout 4e-hating-grognard type player sit down at my table and walk away having had an awesome time. Honestly, if you strip D&D down to its core you still have the old Chainmail miniatures game sitting there in front of you, everything else is just errata and modular rules. It’s all about the game so play it however you want, right?

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