Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Flatter Math

Yesterday's Legends and Lore column rocks.

I was concerned about the flattening of the math from the playtest because the ability score modifiers are the same as in 4e and 3e. But now I think I like what they're doing with the math here. Dumping a stat completely (which often happened in 4e, maybe less-so in 3e) becomes more of a risk when each ability score does something useful for your character. So that 18 starting intelligence might make your wizard more potent, but it will probably limit your chracter in other ways.

I really like the idea of a flattened math though. If those numerical bonuses are harder to come by, they'll be more meaningful. Third edition was an exercise in finding all the stackable bonuses you could. So was fourth edition.  That's not to say that I didn't play a suboptimal character or two, but the linked-stat defenses (Str or Con = Fort, etc) meant you generally aimed to have three high stats from each of those pairs, and you first took the feats which gave you flat numerical bonuses to your attacks and defenses. Skills also could go outrageously high, with racial bonuses, background bonuses, training, and a high ability score, even without grabbing feats or items to boost them. This might really let somewhat non-traditional characters shine.

I also like the idea of monsters mattering over the long run as well. So that a first level encounter with goblins might just be four goblins. But goblins can still be a challenge at 10th level, there'll just be more of them plus their leader. The 4e tier system was nice, but not if you want to use some monsters (say, djinn and efreet) before their time.

In some ways, the idea of flatter math brings me back to other RPGs, like the World of Darkness games or Fading Suns. You slowly got better at some tasks, but you weren't required to seek out harder and harder tasks per se. Any character off the street could potentially be a threat, not a walk in the park.

I'm still curious to see how their flattened math works at higher levels. Will we have a +5 Holy Avenger in the game? Will ability scores go up as you increase in level? Will there be a cap at 20 for your ability scores (or perhaps different for each race?). Will rogues really gain 1d6 of sneak attack damage at every level?

All I can say is, I like what I'm seeing here thus far.

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