Monday, October 19, 2009

You must know... yourself?

I was supposed to have a shiny new copy of Primal Power to review for you all (before it hits shelves), but my distributor fell through and I cannot begin to describe how upset I am with them right now. I'm sure you don't want to read a rant though, so I'll talk about something else.

This one is for the players! If you're like me, you don't have a lot of time to actually play your favorite RPG. You've got three or four hours, once a week (if you're lucky), and you have to make the most of it! How you rp is up to you, I'm not here to discuss that today. Today I want to talk about player preparedness in combat.

Combat in 4E D&D is supposed to run fast, smooth, and should be enjoyable for the players to partake in. This is true for seasoned veterans of the game, but if you're relatively new combats tend to slow things to a crawl. How can you avoid this?

  1. Make your own PC, and if you can't for whatever reason, at least take some time before sitting down at the table to familiarize yourself with your PC. This is probably the most important thing for a player to do during a game: Be familiar with your PC!

  2. After 1st level, familiarity becomes a slight afterthought because now you're adding more to the equation. New feats, powers, paragon paths and epic destinies make things even more confusing. Know how feats and traits affect your PC as your PC becomes more experienced!

  3. I probably don't have to say this, but making your PC properly helps out a lot too. You may want to have a guy that is equally good with melee as he is with ranged and be pretty even across the board with skills (a jack of all trades if you will), but really you don't. 4E is a team game, unlike other incarnations of D&D that shall remain nameless... The point is that you don't have to be good at everything, just one thing (or maybe... three things). Anyway, if your PC is built properly he will excel in only a handful of things. This allows you to have a general focus, but more importantly (back to 1.) it'll be easier to be familiar with your PC!

  4. Finally, when you are in combat, be ready for your turn! Know what you're going to do ahead of time. Yes, sometimes your plans will change from other person's turn to other person's turn, but if your PC is built properly you'll probably be able to do whatever it is you had planned originally. When you finish a turn, immediately begin to figure out what you want to do next round. Keep that in the back of your mind, because you may have to change that. If circumstances change, change as necessary. At the very least, know what you're going to do on the turn before your turn.

  5. I'm only adding this to be thorough, but some people will tell you to speed up combat make all of your rolls at the same time. I say this is horse poop. Not everyone is a math major. Even if you are skilled at math, you still need to take a moment to add everything correctly (especially when you've got different bonuses on different enemies due to effects that occur throughout the battle). You could be attacking 3 different enemies with an area attack for example, but one of them gives you a +2 bonus to hit because of your friend warlord. Another gives you a +2 to damage, and he's also vulnerable to the fire damage you're dealing. The last one is insubstantial but prone plus he's subject to the two fore-mentioned bonuses. See? No point, just make each roll as you need to. Plus, as DM I prefer to see what my players are rolling (I've been playing without the screen -- they can see all of my rolls, why shouldn't I see all of theirs?) as they roll, rather than roll ahead of time and tell you what they got. Plus, that takes a lot away from the game for me. I always like watching that roll and cheering when a 20 comes up or groaning when I see that 1. The dice rolling can be one of the most exciting parts of the game; imagine making that important roll and everybody stands around you, staring at the die in sheer anticipation of what result it will yield in the end! Gives you a little tingle, doesn't it?

Well, that's it for this "episode" as I've been calling them. I guess I could call them articles but are they really? I mean, they're not really episodes either but... You know what, don't judge. I like it, and that's how I roll.

So next time on 1d4+5... No point in a Primal Power review from me, if I can't give it to you a day early I won't have anything to tell you that you won't get from other, more popular blogs and your favorite podcasts. I do have a few things I've been working on, and I'll be hitting you with that soon. Until then, keep rolling those 20's!

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