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Oracle_Hunter
2009-01-23, 05:25 AM
While calculating the survival time of a hypothetical Dwarven Paladin at the bottom of a lake, I noticed that the drowning rules actually make you drown faster as you level. This Paladin, for instance, drowns roughly twice as fast at level 10 than at level 1.

This is clearly an unintended result. I also recall discussing the original Skill Challenge set-up with a math-inclined friend and he pointed out that if you used the +2 successes / +1 failures method, the challenges got easier to win the "harder" they were supposed to be. This was largely fixed by the Errata, but I'm starting to wonder: are there other glaring math errors like this still in 4E?

So, if you are mathematically inclined, could you pick out any other such errors and suggest solutions? If not other ones, then how about the Drowning Problem.

The Math
After 30 rounds, you begin taking DC (15 + 5R) Endurance checks, where R is the number of rounds > 30 that have elapsed. Assume that all possible checks are successful.

Upon failing a check, the character loses 1 Healing surge. When a character is at 0 Surges, he begins taking damage = his level. This continues until the character is a Negative Bloodied, at which point he is dead (assume all Death Saves are successful).

Optimal Survival Time = 30 + (rounds until 20+Endurance < 15 + 5R) + (rounds until HP-(LV)R < or = -(0.5HP)

Our Dwarven Paladin has a base Endurance check of +11, 23 HP, and 16 Surges.
- Each level he gets +6 HP
- Every even level he gets +1 to Endurance
- At level 4 he gets an additional +1 HP
- At level 8 he gets an additional +1 HP, +1 Surge, and +1 Endurance

GOAL: Our dwarf's optimal survival time does not decrease as his level increases.

Kurald Galain
2009-01-23, 05:38 AM
One example is how DCs for pickpocketing used to increase twice as fast as skill ranks. This was fixed by errata, though.

There are a few other instances of a character taking damage equal to its level, e.g. Sacrifice to Caiphon, and Tears of Fire and Blood (IIRC AFB). Both seem to get incrementally worse as you level up.

Colmarr
2009-01-23, 05:49 AM
There are a few other instances of a character taking damage equal to its level, e.g. Sacrifice to Caiphon, and Tears of Fire and Blood (IIRC AFB). Both seem to get incrementally worse as you level up.

Isn't this actually better? Even for controllers, at each level their hp rise by 4 and the damage from the ability only rises by 1.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-01-23, 05:50 AM
Yeah, "damage equal to level" does not work at all with the 1st-level HP in 4E. It's an understandable, somewhat rare, and ultimately minor mistake (really, I could name bigger ones in a dozen better games), but it definitely requires a fix.

How would you fix it, though? The damage has to increase in some sort of proportion to level and total HP. D&D is generally averse to mathematics beyond the early grade school level, but maybe 5% or 10% of maximum HP per round would work out better? (I'd think that the advantage on the checks already accounts for the advantage a higher-level character should have in surviving things like drowning and starvation.)

Kurald Galain
2009-01-23, 06:14 AM
An easy fix is to make it "damage equal to your healing surge value", or half that value.

Edge of Dreams
2009-01-23, 06:33 AM
drowning rules have been errata'd, but the math may still be bad, I dunno.

Inyssius Tor
2009-01-23, 06:43 AM
drowning rules have been errata'd, but the math may still be bad, I dunno.

He's talking about the errata. Before the errata, the material didn't even have drowning rules.

(not coherent ones anyway)...

Colmarr
2009-01-23, 07:20 AM
I don't wish to double post the same comments, so let me just refer to my post in Inyssius Tor's "Drowning man wut?" thread...

If there's any truth to that post, it may go some way towards redressing the math problems that Oracle is referring to.

Mando Knight
2009-01-24, 12:33 AM
Well... the damage = level seems to level out to an average later on... but at 1st level, the character does have unprecedented durability...

Try comparing a level 10 fighter to a level 20 fighter. See if there's a significant change in how long the character can survive.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-01-24, 02:18 AM
I don't wish to double post the same comments, so let me just refer to my post in Inyssius Tor's "Drowning man wut?" thread...

If there's any truth to that post, it may go some way towards redressing the math problems that Oracle is referring to.

Yeah, I can't imagine that the rules intended for you to take a cascading Endurance check rolls at Round 31. Otherwise it'd just say "you die at round 31" since an instantaneous infinite amount of rolls at increasing DCs will just result in instant death.

As for LV 10 Paladin (END +17, 79 HP, 17 Surges) vs. LV 20 Paladin (END +24, 137 HP, 18 Surges).
DROWNING
LV 10 = Round 35
LV 20 = Round 36

LV 10 = Round 63
LV 20 = Round 65

So, 10 more levels buys you 2 rounds. But both are only about 3/4 as long as a 1st level character.

I like Kurald Galain's "Healing Surge" idea, though this will penalize Dwarven Durability... so let's call it 1/4 your max HP total. That means you will be dead 6 rounds after you run out of Healing Surges, but it does make for more "realistic" drowning rules.

DMfromTheAbyss
2009-01-24, 11:07 AM
I like Kurald Galain's "Healing Surge" idea, though this will penalize Dwarven Durability... so let's call it 1/4 your max HP total. That means you will be dead 6 rounds after you run out of Healing Surges, but it does make for more "realistic" drowning rules.

Actually if you go by old fluff, Dwarves were supposed to be terrible swimmers (in 2nd ed there was a kit "WayFinder" that specifically let a dwarf be ABLE to swim as a bonus) so Dwarves being penalized when it comes to swimming for having better healing surges as a racial actually makes a weird kind of sense.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-01-24, 04:41 PM
Actually if you go by old fluff, Dwarves were supposed to be terrible swimmers (in 2nd ed there was a kit "WayFinder" that specifically let a dwarf be ABLE to swim as a bonus) so Dwarves being penalized when it comes to swimming for having better healing surges as a racial actually makes a weird kind of sense.

Again: not swimming, holding your breath.

There is a difference, I promise. :smalltongue:

Aron Times
2009-01-24, 05:13 PM
Do we really need realistic drowning rules? 4E makes simplicity a priority over realism. The drowning rules right now are simple and easy to remember. That's what matters.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-01-24, 05:28 PM
Do we really need realistic drowning rules? 4E makes simplicity a priority over realism. The drowning rules right now are simple and easy to remember. That's what matters.

Realistic, no. In fact, I think the game needs the opposite: rules where higher-level characters don't drown as fast as lower-level ones. The opposite is true for the rules in the book. That does not compute.

Kurald Galain
2009-01-24, 05:36 PM
Do we really need realistic drowning rules?

No, we don't. But more to the point: we don't need drowning rules (i.e. it would be easier to say "PCs can't drown", which is mostly what the current rules do in practice anyway), but if such rules exist, I would prefer them to be realistic (i.e. not "1st-level characters can survive underwater longer than 20th-levels).

Yakk
2009-01-24, 06:57 PM
(i.e. it would be easier to say "PCs can't drown", which is mostly what the current rules do in practice anyway)That is blatantly false. Building a character who isn't dead after 10 minutes not breathing isn't possible in 4e.

PCs can drown. They are awake longer than your typical real-life human. They take less brain damage than your typical real-life human. They take longer to fall unconscious than your typical human. But they take roughly as long to die.

The "heroic factor" is at most a factor of two.

---

Yes, the rules end up with a level 1 Dwarf lasting much longer. A simple fix is "you take 5+your level every round once you run out of healing surges".

The reason why level 1 characters last longer is that level X characters have roughly 20+L*5 HP. (This varies by class and con, but is close).

[20+L*5] / L = 20/L + 5 rounds until KO once you run out of healing surges.

Change it to [25+L*5] / [5 + L] (assuming above-average con), we get ~5 rounds to KO once you run out of healing surges.

Rockphed
2009-01-24, 07:23 PM
Change it to [25+L*5] / [5 + L] (assuming above-average con), we get ~5 rounds to KO once you run out of healing surges.

My first thought was to simply deal drowning characters a set amount of damage (say 5 HP), but your solution is much more elegant.

Mando Knight
2009-01-24, 07:31 PM
My first thought was to simply deal drowning characters a set amount of damage (say 5 HP), but your solution is much more elegant.

Then you have epic characters lasting for another 3 minutes underwater after losing their healing surges... 4 & 1/2 including unconsciousness.

Prometheus
2009-01-24, 08:17 PM
You'd think math would be at the central point of designing any numbers & probability based game, but apparently Wizards could never find any geeks who were interested in D&D *shrugs*

Jothki
2009-01-24, 08:36 PM
Even as RAI, the cascading difficulty after 30 rounds seems kind of absurd. Why can even the weakest of swimmers last 30 rounds, while pushing even slightly beyond that becomes absurdly difficult?

Would it make more sense to have a cascading check every 10 rounds or so, with passing the check allowing you to last until the next check with no issues? That'd solve the problem with higher-level characters taking damage faster, since lower-level characters wouldn't even be able to last to that point.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-01-25, 09:42 AM
Even as RAI, the cascading difficulty after 30 rounds seems kind of absurd. Why can even the weakest of swimmers last 30 rounds, while pushing even slightly beyond that becomes absurdly difficult?

Would it make more sense to have a cascading check every 10 rounds or so, with passing the check allowing you to last until the next check with no issues? That'd solve the problem with higher-level characters taking damage faster, since lower-level characters wouldn't even be able to last to that point.

Well, the 30 round grace period is there to reduce the number of pointless rolls you need to make for short immersions in water. The Stress Test is there to deal with people being actively drowned or otherwise in danger while under water.

The problem with a cascading check every 10 rounds is that it requires more bookkeeping (making note of every 10 round increment plus the cascade instead of just turning on the system at round 30), but this may be workable. Perhaps like this:
Every 10 rounds, make a Breath Check. A Breath Check is a DC 15 Endurance check, adding +5 to the DC for each previous Breath Check required since the character last breathed.

If a character passes his Breath Check then he may hold his breath for an additional 10 rounds with no ill effects. When the Breath Check is failed, the character begins to suffocate.

A suffocating character loses 1 Healing Surge per round until he can breathe. If a character runs out of Healing Surges before breathing, he begins to take 5+LV damage per round until he can breathe or dies. This damage may not be reduced or redirected in any fashion.

Particularly strenuous situations (like underwater combat) may make holding your breath difficult. If you take strenuous action or non-suffocation damage while holding your breath, take a Endurance DC 20 check at the end of the round. If you fail, you begin to suffocate.

I'm trusting Yakk's numbers on the 5+LV because he's good like that. Any comments on the above proposed rule?