View Full Version : [4e] D&D on plot-arc speed

2009-03-03, 09:49 PM
The goal of these mechanics is to generate a very short campaign with a steep power arc, yet allow the 4e encounter building mechanics to be used to balance it.

The core of the idea is to change the rate of gaining levels from 1/10 encounters, to a 1/4 encounters pace. Then, substitute many of the "when you take a long rest" mechanics for "when you gain a level".

A number of changes to the pacing mechanics have to be made for this to work. Among other things, 'extended rests' need to have a new mechanic associated with them.

Extended Rest Effect: When you take an extended rest, action points and daily powers etc do not refresh. Instead, you get a single endurance check against DC 10 to regain a healing surge, with a bonus to the roll equal to your max. healing surges. Every 10 points you beat the DC by you regain an additional healing surge. Extended Rests also count as Short Rests. You do not lose action points from taking an Extended Rest.

Short Rest Effect: During a short rest, your per-encounter powers reset, and you may spend as many healing surges as you wish.

Milestone Effect: When you reach a milestone, you gain an action point, and all of your per-encounter powers reset (including second wind, etc). In addition, you may spend a single healing surge without taking a short rest.

Gaining a Level: When you gain a level, you regain all of your healing surges and gain HP equal to your bloodied HP value. In addition, all "Daily" and per-Encounter powers reset. Note that this is the only way to regain "Daily" powers under this pacing mechanic. Your action points are reset to 1, regardless of what they where before you gained a level.

General Rule: Whenever a power, feat or ability says "the first time in a day" or "once per day", change it to "the first time in a level" and "once per level".

Experience: The new XP chart is as follows:

1 0
2 400
3 900
4 1500
5 2200
6 3000
7 4000
8 5200
9 6600
10 8200
11 10200
12 12600
13 15400
14 18600
15 22600
16 27400
17 33000
18 39400
19 47400
20 57000
21 68200
22 81000
23 97000
24 116200
25 138600
26 164200
27 196200
28 234600
29 279400
30 330600
However, it is probably a better idea to eyeball leveling rates.

Magic Item Distribution: Each level, you want to give out the same allotment of magic items as standard. You just have to do it over 4 encounters instead of over 10. :)

Dangers: In standard 4e, the party can "back off" in order to recover a huge percentage of their power in the form of dailies. In this system, if the party is harried and worn out, the only real recovery takes days or weeks (to get healing surges back), or they progress and gain a level.


The result is a campaign that can go from level 1 to level 30 in 100-120 encounters instead of 250-300. If you have a full arc planned, and not that much time to play it in, this might work.

It also generates a power pacing that is based on the advancement of the plot: going back to heal recovers some resources, but most of the player's power recovery comes from gaining levels, not narcolepsy.

2009-03-04, 12:57 AM
well sounds promising but i have some problems with that.

the extended rest is confusing as it gives only a minor amount of healing surges (not everyone has endurance in their trained skills section, 1 surge per every 10 on the check is kinda harsh anyway), and (imho) it should take place after every fourth encounter anyway so the level up should override it (with the extension that a level heals to the maximum health).

daily powers become practically useless. if you can use them only once per level... that is kinda a power drain. the players wouldn't dare to use the dailies without knowing that they are kicking at a boss monster. i suggest that each action point also restores at least one daily power.

BUT this (the overall pacing speed) sounds like a neat idea. camping is pretty annoying in many adventures as it is hard to keep the tension of battle without making yourself the *beep* DM who ambushes the party at each rest.

2009-03-04, 12:53 PM
You get a daily refresh every 4 encounters, just like the standard assumptions of the standard rules.

Except that happens to be when you gain a level, instead of every extended rest.

And as we have a /4 encounters pacing mechanic (in that is how fast you gain levels), we don't need to use the extended rest mechanic for power/healing surge refresh.

The "you get your endurance check/10 in healing surges back" is just so players _can_ heal up by taking multiple days of bed rest when heavily beat up -- you could have an action-packed power spiral adventure in which the party goes from level 1 to level 30 in 3 game-days under this variant. The primary means of "healing up" under this pacing mechanic is intended to be "every 4 encounters, you get back all of your healing surges, and half of your max HP".

The "half of your max HP" was tacked on because an extended rest usually gives you back all of your HP and all of your healing surges. I could simply give you back all of your HP when you level up, but I figured half of max was enough, together with the bonus healing from actually taking extended rests.

Your power comes back as determined by the plot arc speed. So a fast plot arc is possible (where lots of stuff happens in a single day), or a slow plot arc (where you defend a caravan against raiders that attack every few days), without having to change the 'what resources the characters bring to the table' assumptions.