An Ode To 4e Character Generation

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8 Responses

  1. Ron says:

    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your array sounds like a terrible idea. Having an 18 in something isn’t cartoonishly herculean in this edition.

    I think you are stuck on the legacy of early editions where scores were on a bell curve 10 was average and the standard deviation was 1.5. Ability Scores are more abstract now and only the bonus really matters. (which is why they should have been removed IMHO.)

    • greywulf says:

      I suspect that in Fifth Edition D&D (whenever it comes out), attributes will indeed be replaced with just the bonus value. That’s how it is in Mutants & Masterminds 3e right now, and it works well.

      Back in 4e D&D though, and it’s easy to forget just what stats like STR 20 really mean. As per PHB p222, this is a character who can lift 400lds and carry it (all be it while Slowed), and push or drag 1,000lds.

      That’s on a par which the challenges set for an entrant in the World’s Strongest Man competition, and (checking my copy of AD&D 2nd Edition, black cover edition, p19) is roughly in line with a stat of 18/91-99. The meaning of the stat values haven’t changed that much over the years.

      Combine a STR of 20 with a WIS of 8 and you get exactly what I said – a cartoonish heculean stat array that wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney rpg.

      When it comes to my grim’n’gritty array, it certainly wouldn’t appeal to many modern D&D gamers who think that at least one stat of 18 (or more) is essential for survival, but if you want to run a game set in a harsh Warhammer-like plague-ridden environment, using an array like that sets the whole tone of the game.

  3. OnlineDM says:

    Fun post! I agree that 4e character generation is a lot of fun and works very well.

    I only have one nit-picky comment, and that is that Sir Borys’s choice of both Heavy Blade Expertise and Master at Arms doesn’t help him too much; once he has Master at Arms, Heavy Blade Expertise just gives him +2 to defenses against opportunity attacks while he’s wielding his sword (the +1 to attack doesn’t stack, as they’re both feat bonuses). Of course, maybe that was your point – you CAN make choices for role-playing and background reasons rather than min-maxing.

    • greywulf says:

      Good catch – I thought Master At Arms was an untyped bonus, even though the darned text was staring me in the face while I put him together. Ah well.

      As you suggest, that could mean that he is equally trained with all weapons, but better at defense when using heavy blades. A slight waste of a feat, but flavourful.

  4. Dixon Trimline says:

    Having experienced enough Gamma World to actually miss astounding low ability scores, I have fooled with the idea of either:

    1. Adopting the GW approach (high scores for what matters, 3d6 for everything else) or

    2. For crying out loud, allowing me to buy back points in certain abilities by going below 8. Even if it’s a 1-for-1 trade, I can win back 5 whole points by dumping my Charisma to 3.

    I am intrigued by the idea of the Slayer with Ritual Caster, though I feel like that would only work in a campaign versus a one-shot, which I’ve been playing a lot of lately.

  5. uhf says:

    I’ve found that limiting my players to 18’s as a maximum stat results in more more dynamic characters (especially for the optimizers) without limiting the players too much.

    If done well… you still get all that old fun you want.

    On the other hand, taking Trimline’s comment. I do miss low stats and I like the Gamma World method. 18, 16, or just one 20… and 3D6 for the rest. (NO REROLLS)

  6. dbv says:

    Good article. Personally, I feel that people focus too much on the mechanical aspects of 4e, and say that everything is the same and punishes roleplaying. Bah!

    Though I am a power-gamer to a certain extent, I’ve never let the fact that the Wizard and Fighter both roll 2d8 for encounter powers get to me.

    That aside – minor nitpick as well – Arcane Initiate isn’t as broken (imo) because it locks you in to the wizard multiclass (as you can only have a single ‘class’ for multiclass feats). It certainly fits the scenario you are talking about perfectly,but I wouldn’t say it is overpowered, simply that it’s one of the best feats you can take for that character concept, especially if you want to continue using wizard as your multiclass.

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