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Feats that scale with level
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Absentminded_Wizard
Duke


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 10:20 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RC wrote:
Quote:
How many situations are there in which one character's immunity keeps the party from having to use a signifigant amount of resources to defeat a monster.




Possibly quite a few actually, but it only happens when the immunity is absolute and thus allows the rest of the party to say "you handle it."

Immunity to energy drain against spectres or immunity to ability drain against shadows is one such case. Immunity to sneak attacks can almost let you do this with a group of rogues, though not nearly to the case you can with undead.


Unless the party gets surprise on the spectre or shadow, there's no way to guarantee that the monster doesn't get to use its special ability on somebody else before the character with immunity can step up and deal with it. Furthermore, you can always circumvent an immunity by throwing more creatures into the mix. It's easy for one character to engage one shadow while his buddies watch and eat popcorn; but if there's a second shadow to go after his buddies, it's a different situation. You may have to save some monsters for multiple-creature encounters at higher levels, but that doesn't "rip the page out of the MM."


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RandomCasualty
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 8:29 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

If the party beats the monster without cost because they have immunities, then the fight required the expenditure of resources - the cost of gaining the immunities that won you the encounter.

This assumes the resources are expendable. In most cases, they aren't. Simply taking a level of a PrC that gives you full immunity isn't an expendable resource, its a choice you made and now you've got it. Handing out XP for it is like handing out XP to a fighter who hacks down a wall, because he expended resources gaining the ability to bring up his damage to that level.

Quote:

It may not seem like it cost you anything now, but it costs every single adventure in every fight you ever have. It costs however much it cost to get the immunities.

You're saying apparently that by taking a level in something you're expending resources? Your logic is screwy on this one.

The battle has to drain your resources in some way... and you can't drain away a permanent ability. Gaining maximum hit points isn't expending resources, nor is gaining another spell slot, only when I actually spend them am I expending resources. If I was only immune to X number of attacks per day, then I'd be spending resources, but total immunity means you spend nothing.

Quote:

If you throw a DM temper tantrum every time the players' special abilities which they paid for actually pay off, you are only discouraging characters from getting interesting or conditional abilties. I mean, you don't give people a small proportional XP reduction in every single encounter when they take a strength buff instead, do you?

I'm saying that superconditional abilities like that shouldn't exist at all.

What fun is it to have an encounter where the mosnters can't touch the PCs? This isnt' a strategy game, the ability to totally rape one thing in exchange for being supposedly weaker against everything else shouldn't even be allowed in an RPG, because you've got to stick to the same character all along, and allowing a PC to make trades like that is bad for the game as a whole.

The thing is that quests aren't made typically on the basis of a generic party. More often than not, you make them for your specific PC party, and you tailor the quest to the group. The DM is not going to throw in a trivial encounter that the PCs get full experience for with no risk, unless he feels like playing santa claus. Nor is he going to throw a group of monsters at the PCs that will deliberately destroy them by preying on their weaknesses.

It's entirely possible to find a counter for any group of characters and totally wreck them, but that's not the point of the game. The point is to make something reasonably challenging and go with it.

An ability that potentially removes all the challenge from an encounter is counterproductive. As a DM you probably aren't going to bother putting the encounter in the game, and as a player you dont' really feel much satisfaction in it either, unless you're one of those cheese gamers who is going to make every attempt to try to rout packs of shadows to gain free XP.

But presumably most gamers play the game to actually encounter some sort of challenge and feel some degree of fulfilment from overcoming it. I mean granted there are people who just love playing 20th level characters in quests designed for 1st level characters, these are the same people who will spend endless hours playing thier favorite first person shooter in god mode too... but this isn't the usual kind of person you get in your game. Usually if you throw a bunch fo trivial crap at someone they're wondering why you're wasting their time rolling for the battle.
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:

This assumes the resources are expendable.


It does nothing of the kind. If you spent permanent resources to become immune to something all the time, then you are expending resources in every fight you ever engage in. Which is just like expending more resources in the single fight in terms of expended resources over the long haul.

Seriously, if someone invests resources that could have made them slightly better all the time into being totally invincible a small amount of the time - sometimes they should actually get to use their invincibility, and when that happens they still get full XP.

That's what opportunity cost is all about, get over it.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 5:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

By your paradigm I'd be expending resources just hacking up a wall, even though I could do that all day. That doesn't make any sense. When the paradigm is 20% resources expended for an even CR encounter, if you have 5 of them, on average you should be tapped out. But if you're invincible you aren't expending anything, so you're never tapped out.

Opportunity cost has nothing to do with resources. Opportunity cost is something you use comparing one level fo wizard to one level of fighter, but it is not an expendable resource, because you never actually lose it.

Hit points are expendable resources, as are spell slots and magical item charges. Your power attack feat isn't an expendable resource, because you can do it all day and never run out. You can never lose 20% of infinity, ever. If I never get hit, as a fighter I'm not losing any resources.

The CR system doesn't make sense if you consider feats and class abilities to be resources.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 6:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
By your paradigm I'd be expending resources just hacking up a wall, even though I could do that all day.


Right. There are many different ways to go through that wall - whether you are casting Passwall or earlier invested in an Adamantine Hammer. There's no real difference. And you don't adjust XP gains because they used one or the other.

The thing is, even a "permanent" ability isn't really "permanent". The game lasts a finite period (even if it is open-ended). Any particular "permanent" ability is only going to be usable a limited number of times in the game.

When one of your "permanent" abilities to do something obscure actually comes up and makes you win, the "cost" is that that's one less time in the whole game that you get to be the star of the show. It has therefore "cost" you resources in a manner more noticable than a Cleric spending their slots at the end of the day to heal or using charges off their god stick.

A Cleric is going to cast Cure Light hundreds of times in a game, but how many times is your six points of ability damage resistance going to matter? Twice maybe? So when it makes you school the shadows, you've just used up half your mojo on that ability for the whole campaign.

If that isn't using up resources, I don't know what is.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 5:04 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

A Cleric is going to cast Cure Light hundreds of times in a game, but how many times is your six points of ability damage resistance going to matter? Twice maybe? So when it makes you school the shadows, you've just used up half your mojo on that ability for the whole campaign.


Huh? You're assuming that the encounter is going to be something rare. I mean what if you were in a whole complex of shadows. What if the plot was "the invasion of shadows and other creatures with the umbral template"?

Nor is there any sort of drain that occurs when resources are expended. After I've cast my cure light wounds, or taken damage, I'm weaker for the next battle, because I no longer have those available. However, with an immunity, I've got it available no matter what, it's just a matter of if it's useful or not given what I'm fighting. But it could be that the immunity applies universally, to 50% of the battles or to none of them. You really don't know, and you can't balance that very well. It's why big conditional bonuses like immunities just don't work.

It causes you to get into all this crap about what an "average" adventure is and then try to extrapolate from there. WIth the huge deviation in DMing styles, you just can't ever rely on a hypotetical "Average adventure" to get you anywhere. Some adventures are going to be all undead, some of them are going to be lots of constructs, other DMs may run entire campaigns where all you fight is humanoids. You simply cannot afford to assume anything in this regard.

It's why casters are in such a bind, because the spell system assumes you're going to have 4 or more encounters a day and in many campaigns that doesn't happen making spellcasters much more powerful, and making the sorcerer look like shit.
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Oberoni
Knight


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 5:24 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


RC wrote:
Nor is there any sort of drain that occurs when resources are expended. After I've cast my cure light wounds, or taken damage, I'm weaker for the next battle, because I no longer have those available. However, with an immunity, I've got it available no matter what, it's just a matter of if it's useful or not given what I'm fighting.


Um, you're weaker whenever you're fighting something against which your immunity is irrelevant.

You're really ignoring the price you pay when you make a choice. If I choose a level in Immunity Guy, that's one level I'm not taking of Frenzied Berzerker or Incantrix or whatever. Hence, at any time my immunity is not coming into play, I'm straight-out weaker than the guy that chose that level in another class.

At any rate, I find the idea of total immunity to anything from either side (PC or monster) to be stupid; I'm just saying that your reasoning for dissing immunity leaves a bit to be desired.
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 12:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oberoni wrote:


Um, you're weaker whenever you're fighting something against which your immunity is irrelevant.


But that's entirely hyopthetical, and it's mathematical impact is really an unknown. The amount of encounters where the immunity is irrelevant could very well be 90% or it could be 20%... and that changes based on the campaign and the DM.
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Oberoni
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The major problem with your "campaign-dependent" clause is that it applies to everything.

I could prove that wizards are underpowered in a Golemania campaign...but, overall, the wizard could still be very strong.

So the campaign-dependent argument is kind of a dud. For the purposes of this conversation, assume a generic campaign with a fairly even mix of creatures, NPCs, and the like.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 4:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Indeed, the mathematical impact of any ability is going to be different in different games. And thus, it isn't so much "unknown" as "unknowable". Having 6 points of negative energy resistance will make you immune to shadows, but I've been in games where that would have never ever come up at all. And games where it would have been useful a couple of times.

But you don't balance it for each of the games, you balance it for all of the games. If the entire game is "cross the icy slopes tracking the murderer of your village elder", then the Ranger's first level abilities might be game dominating, but we don't worry about the extreme cases when designing a game.

Assuming that people don't tear pages out of the monster manual, and run a fair mix of enemies, then the ability to totally break one or more of those monsters by yourself with little or no risk is not necessarily ungamebalanced - it's expected.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 2:31 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One immunity sure, it's going to pose a problem, the thing is that when you've got tons of them, and that's very much a possibility. When you've got

immunity to energy/ability drain
immunity to mind affecting
immunity to critical hits
immunity to death effects
immunity to fire
immunity to acid
immunity to non-magic weapons (incorporeal)

Then that really starts to add up game wise. There are only so many immunities the game can take, and you can't just be handing them out like candy on Halloween.
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canamrock
1st Level


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For monsters or for characters? For monsters, just make sure that the immunities are their only schtick. If your Jackyahupasaur is immune to all that, just make it otherwise very weak so that once you get around them, it's REALLY weak.

For PC's, however, this is an interesting point. One or two immunities are no big deal, if you've paid something for it. Immune to fire? Besides four other 'staple' energy types, you have normal damage, energy drain, ability drain, etc. to use against him. The more immunities one gets, the increasingly more one must pay, until there's a fundamental limit as to how immune a character can be at all. Too many immunities will make a character very stilted, so that it's all but invulnerable, whereas some foes will slap so hard and fast there won't be a conflict at all.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
When you've got

immunity to energy/ability drain
immunity to mind affecting
immunity to critical hits
immunity to death effects
immunity to fire
immunity to acid
immunity to non-magic weapons (incorporeal)

Then that really starts to add up game wise.


Does it? Let's assume you're level 10, what CR 10 monsters would this render worthless? Incorporeal is a big one, so I'll put a check in the third column for that ability alone, and put a check in the second column if any of the other ones actually turn that creature off, and a check in the first if the monster is just highly hampered.

[X] [ ] [ ] Dragon (If a Fire Dragon)
[ ] [ ] [X] Collossal Animated Object
[ ] [ ] [X] Bebilith
[ ] [ ] [ ] Couatl
[X] [ ] [ ] Formian Mymarch
[ ] [ ] [X] Fire Giant (unless magic weapon in repetoire)
[ ] [ ] [X] Clay Golem
[ ] [ ] [X] Hydra (Unless Cryo-Hydra)
[ ] [ ] [X] Gargantuan Spider
[ ] [ ] [ ] Guardian Naga
[ ] [ ] [ ] Rakshasa
[X] [ ] [ ] Salamander Noble
[ ] [ ] [ ] Gray Slaad
[X] [ ] [ ] Avolakia
[ ] [ ] [X] Brass Golem
[X] [ ] [ ] Bronze Serpent
[ ] [ ] [X] Dire Elephant
[X] [ ] [X] Greenvise
[ ] [ ] [X] Leech Walker
[ ] [ ] [X] Legendary Shark
[ ] [ ] [X] Legendary Tiger
[ ] [ ] [ ] Marraenoloth
[ ] [ ] [ ] Mooncalf
[ ] [ ] [X] Razor Boar
[ ] [ ] [X] Runic Guardian
[ ] [ ] [ ] Spell Weaver
[X] [ ] [ ] Yagnoloth.
[X] [ ] [ ] Abyssal Ghoul
[X] [ ] [ ] Darkweaver
[ ] [ ] [X] Kelpie
[ ] [ ] [ ] Maelephant
[ ] [ ] [ ] Shedu
[ ] [X] [ ] Sporebat
[ ] [ ] [X] Scarab Swarm
[ ] [ ] [X] Rager Varragoin
[ ] [ ] [ ] 10th level Warrior
[ ] [ ] [ ] 10th level Spellcaster
[X] [ ] [ ] 10th level Rogue

So what did we just learn? We learned that Incorporeality is totally bat shit nuts, and probably shouldn't be allowed for longer than a couple of rounds at a time. But basically, a character could have the entire rest of that suite of powers up 24/7 and it wouldn't be a big deal from a game balance standpoint.

The fact that the character would totally school a sporebat just doesn't bother me. An Avolakia would be out one of its best tricks, but the Wisdom Poison is still totally deadly.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:27 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

So what did we just learn? We learned that Incorporeality is totally bat shit nuts, and probably shouldn't be allowed for longer than a couple of rounds at a time. But basically, a character could have the entire rest of that suite of powers up 24/7 and it wouldn't be a big deal from a game balance standpoint.


Well incorporeality is a big immunity, and it shows what too many immunities or what a big immunity can do to game balance. Something like an elemental immunity is a minor one.

Basically if you're playing an objective based game, immunities like that can be ok, but if you're handing out XP for beating individual monsters, you simply can't have any battle of approximately your CR be trivial, and the game has to be set up that way, because it's not ok if you're getting XP for killing something that can't fight back.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 3:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
because it's not ok if you're getting XP for killing something that can't fight back.


So you keep saying, but there's a problem: that's total bullshit.

People use "planning" and "strategy" to attempt to put their opponents at a disadvantage. If their planning is sufficiently good, their enemy is at such a disadvantage that it can't fight back at all.

And you are trying to encourage that shit, because otherwise everything debases into kickinthedoor bullshit over and over again. If you trick the Basilisk into a box canyon with 80 foot walls and archers on the top - it can't fight back. And you still get full XP, because your superior planning took a relatively frightening monster and reduced it to a gelatin dessert.

If you happen to have previously invested in immunity to petrification, the basilisk is kind of a joke to you, and you still get full XP because investing in that immunity represented superior planning on your part.

If your planning, whether by dint of daily strategy or long-term ability acquisition, kicks a monster's ass before you roll an attack roll - you don't get any less XP. If anything, you should get more.

Damn right you get full XP for killing monsters that can't fight back. That's what encourages people to be "smart" instead of "stupid". If you give people more XP for fighting monsters when they are strong than when they are weak they won't even bother trying to turn ambushes around - they'll just run headlong into danger because it's worth more XP that way. And that makes the lamest campaigns I've ever seen (and yes, I have seen games where XP was handled this way, and yes the PCs did make things more difficult for themselves on purpose in order to get more XP).

-Frank
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RandomCasualty
Prince


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 5:06 am    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:

And you are trying to encourage that shit, because otherwise everything debases into kickinthedoor bullshit over and over again. If you trick the Basilisk into a box canyon with 80 foot walls and archers on the top - it can't fight back. And you still get full XP, because your superior planning took a relatively frightening monster and reduced it to a gelatin dessert.

Yeah, you're right. It is bullshit, but it's really bullshit either way for the most part, it's a problem I have with the D&D XP system, and believe it should be objective based as opposed to encounter based.

Because look at it this way. You've got a quest to do X in a cavern. If you move directly to X in the most efficient way possible, avoiding unneccessary encounters, you actually get less XP than someone who kicked the door down and fought everyone, wiping the place systematically. And that totally sucks, but taht's what happens when you play an encounter based XP system. It's one reason I think a success/failure objective based XP award system is a lot better. Because anything else really hoses characters who don't kick the door down.

Basically becasue you get XP for overcoming obstacles, you also get XP for putting obstacles in your path deliberately.

It's really cruel, but that's the way things go.

Quote:

Damn right you get full XP for killing monsters that can't fight back. That's what encourages people to be "smart" instead of "stupid". If you give people more XP for fighting monsters when they are strong than when they are weak they won't even bother trying to turn ambushes around - they'll just run headlong into danger because it's worth more XP that way. And that makes the lamest campaigns I've ever seen (and yes, I have seen games where XP was handled this way, and yes the PCs did make things more difficult for themselves on purpose in order to get more XP).


Yeah, again it's the problem with an encounter based XP system.

Encounter based stuff is based off of risk. That's where you get your XP from. It's the very reason a dragon gives more XP than an orc. When you take away the risk, basically the encounter probably shouldnt' be worth what you're giving out for it.

It's why objective is generally better. You rate the difficulty of a quest overall, and let the PCs try to accomplish it, and each objective gives a fixed amount of XP regardless of how the PCs accomplish it. So that way people who want to go in without ever firing a shot can get the same amount as people who do a room to room total annihilation sweep.

Otherwise, it's always going to be favorable for adventurers to take the riskier course of action to gain more XP, whether that means not using the best tactics or going on a room to room sweep instead of a direct path, they're still going to do it under the current XP system.

Basically either the XP system needs to go, or a lot of the immunities need to go.
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Desdan_Mervolam
Knight-Baron


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 987

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 5:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Feats that scale with level Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RC: If the DM neuters an encounter for you (by, say, having the party encounter a deaf, sleeping Red Dragon rather than a dragon who's awake, and has known you were in his lair for an hour now) then you should get less XP.

However, if the party reduces their own risks by use of tactics and the careful application of talents, they MUST get full XP, otherwise you're punishing the intelligent handleing of situations and rewarding stupidity.

-Desdan
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