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    confused [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Now I'm not familiar with previous versions of Dark Sun, but reading through the book it seems like defiling is supposed to be the route to quick and easy power like going to the Dark Side in Star Wars. Like, crazy massive stuff has been done using the power of defiling. But the mechanics don't match up?

    All the arcane defiling power does is let you reroll a single attack or damage roll (and only with your arcane daily attack powers). And for this power, the cost is that all your allies within 20 squares take 1/8 their hp in necrotic damage that bypasses all resistances? WTF? Why would anybody actually do this? The cost FAR outweighs the benefits. Especially since preserving has NO COST AT ALL and works just like default 4E powers. Are they just trying to force PC arcanists to be preservers or something?

    Now, I know there's a Paragon Path that lets you deal the defiling damage to enemies instead of allies, but since not everyone will take that PP I don't consider it to be a very good solution.

    So, what can we do about this? IMO, either the cost of defiling should decrease OR the cost of preserving should increase. Maybe make preserving deal 1/8 your hp damage to yourself? At least that would make defiling a sensible choice for evil or selfish spellcasters.

    From the fluff, if preserving was really so easy as to be without cost, I really don't understand why there are so many defilers in the first place. Especially since defling seems to be optional at the time of casting, and not "just the way you cast spells."



    Opinions? Solutions? House rules? How can we make this fit better with the themes and story of the Dark Sun setting? Or have I somehow grossly misread this?
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    I have reservations about messing with this. Yes, defiling has been used to do some crazy, world-changing stuff. It's where the Sorceror-Kings come from. However, one of the core design principles of 4e is to keep crazy world-changing stuff out of the hands of the players. Players are only supposed to feel like they have access to world-changing powers through plot devices. As such, I don't think your goal is a good one for the system, even if defiling could use some tweaking purely for the sake of making it an interesting mechanical option without the "change the world" flavor.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    I have reservations about messing with this. Yes, defiling has been used to do some crazy, world-changing stuff. It's where the Sorceror-Kings come from. However, one of the core design principles of 4e is to keep crazy world-changing stuff out of the hands of the players. Players are only supposed to feel like they have access to world-changing powers through plot devices. As such, I don't think your goal is a good one for the system, even if defiling could use some tweaking purely for the sake of making it an interesting mechanical option without the "change the world" flavor.
    I wasn't really suggesting making it into some game-breaking, world-shaking ability. I'd be happy just to properly balance the benefit vs the cost (or defiling vs preserving) so that it actually fits with the supposed flavor.
    Last edited by KillianHawkeye; 2010-09-02 at 03:54 PM.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    It strikes me as fairly weak, yes.

    This is further hindered by the fact that many of the best arcane daily attacks either do not require an attack roll to be effective (e.g. Armor of Agathys), or are big area effects so that missing one attack is less big a deal (e.g. Visions of Avarice).

    It is potent when combined with Sleep, but this is more because Sleep is such a great power. Also, there are some feats that may make defiling worthwhile, but they tend not to show up before paragon tier.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    1/8 HP does seem like a fairly steep cost, but getting a re-roll on Daily Powers is a fine advantage - and one that Evil characters wouldn't mind sacrificing pawns for.

    I think this is intentional. Defiling is not a heroic act, and (IIRC) PCs in TSR Dark Sun were encouraged to be Preservers. By giving PCs the option of being Defilers, 4E is granting greater freedom of choice; but, by making the net benefit only marginal after a Cost-Benefit analysis, it is still encouraging "heroic" PCs.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Sounds like a classic case of mechanics not fitting flavour. It's annoyingly common in RPGs. Happens in some of the Star Wars adaptions, too.

    "Beware the Dark Side. Powerful it is, quicker, easier, more seductive. Well, actually, it only gives you a +1 bonus on an attack roll, so it's not all that powerful. And you can't do anything much with it unless you have the right Talents, so it's not quick or easy either. And even if you do, you aren't going to be any stronger than you would be anyway."
    "Um, so why does anyone fall to the Dark Side again?"
    "Better theme music and you get to kill Ewoks and Gungans."
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    "Beware the Dark Side. Powerful it is, quicker, easier, more seductive. Well, actually, it only gives you a +1 bonus on an attack roll, so it's not all that powerful. And you can't do anything much with it unless you have the right Talents, so it's not quick or easy either. And even if you do, you aren't going to be any stronger than you would be anyway."
    An apt description.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Sounds like a classic case of mechanics not fitting flavour. It's annoyingly common in RPGs. Happens in some of the Star Wars adaptions, too.

    "Beware the Dark Side. Powerful it is, quicker, easier, more seductive. Well, actually, it only gives you a +1 bonus on an attack roll, so it's not all that powerful. And you can't do anything much with it unless you have the right Talents, so it's not quick or easy either. And even if you do, you aren't going to be any stronger than you would be anyway."
    "Um, so why does anyone fall to the Dark Side again?"
    "Better theme music and you get to kill Ewoks and Gungans."
    LOL



    So what do people think about assigning some sort of cost to preserving in order to make defiling more appealing?
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Well, for one thing, there is no reason at all for the defiling damage not to affect your enemies.

    EDIT: As in, it makes negative sense as it is. It breaks the established rules of the setting for a mostly insignificant, unnecessary bit of balance.
    Last edited by Worira; 2010-09-02 at 04:14 PM.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Game balance. Monsters have more HP than players, so being able to Defile enemies would help you more than it hurts.
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    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    No, it wouldn't. You're still dealing 1/8 of the HP of everything on the field, regardless of technically doing more damage to the monsters. And considering that it wouldn't affect minions, you're likely still at a net loss.
    Last edited by Worira; 2010-09-02 at 04:17 PM.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    The basic defiling ability is not very earth shattering, but there's a number of feats you can take that makes it fairly attractive.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwyrm View Post
    The basic defiling ability is not very earth shattering, but there's a number of feats you can take that makes it fairly attractive.
    Such as?

    Note that most arcane casters are fairly feat-starved already, so if effective defiling requires multiple feats then there's some stiff competition there.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    now maby im wrong it was a long time since i played dark sun but i though defilers drained the life out of plants not pepole.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    I'm not too sure about the rules regarding posting detailed mechanics here but there is a feat that give a -2 to defenses to the targets, a feat for using defiling for at-wills and encounters when using action point, a feat for expanding the crit range, a feat for dealing extra damage, a feat for healing yourself, a feat for regaining psionic power points etc.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    now maby im wrong it was a long time since i played dark sun but i though defilers drained the life out of plants not pepole.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by nightwyrm View Post
    I'm not too sure about the rules regarding posting detailed mechanics here but there is a feat that give a -2 to defenses to the targets, a feat for using defiling for at-wills and encounters when using action point, a feat for expanding the crit range, a feat for dealing extra damage, a feat for healing yourself, a feat for regaining psionic power points etc.
    Sure, but all of that is pretty weak.

    At mid-heroic, you use a daily more-or-less every other combat (assuming 2 daily powers and 4 encounters per day). Increasing the crit range makes a difference 5% of the time. So this feat makes a difference once every 40 combats, statistically. Giving -2 to defenses for a round is also a fairly weak effect combined with a fairly uncommon trigger.

    Neither feat rates highly on either flashiness or overall power level. The result is that there isn't a big difference in actual play between defiling with no feats, and defiling with two or three support feats.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    So what do people think about assigning some sort of cost to preserving in order to make defiling more appealing?
    Overcomplicated.

    That is to say, modifying one thing up and another thing down is more complicated than merely modifying one or the other. Since we're looking at a relative comparison, only the difference between the two types of magic matters, not their absolute power.

    If you don't think Defiling is strong enough, make it stronger. You can either do this by lowering the cost (e.g. 1/10 HP rather than 1/8 HP) or increasing the benefit (e.g. you can use it on Encounter Arcane Attacks too). Personally, I think it's fine as is, but YMMV.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Sounds like a classic case of mechanics not fitting flavour. It's annoyingly common in RPGs. Happens in some of the Star Wars adaptions, too.

    "Beware the Dark Side. Powerful it is, quicker, easier, more seductive. Well, actually, it only gives you a +1 bonus on an attack roll, so it's not all that powerful. And you can't do anything much with it unless you have the right Talents, so it's not quick or easy either. And even if you do, you aren't going to be any stronger than you would be anyway."
    "Um, so why does anyone fall to the Dark Side again?"
    "Better theme music and you get to kill Ewoks and Gungans."
    "Hmm, alright, you know, it sounded like a bad deal till you got to the part about Ewoks and Gungans."

    But this is a PROBLEM. if you have fluff that says, "People sell out to X for more power, and it WORKS", then the mechanics have to also work. And that means that the mechanics should be deliberately imballanced.

    I usually dislike imballanced rules, but not when they're deliberate because the fluff calls for them. That can work fine, ask anyone who plays Ars Magica.

    Preserver being the same as a standard arcanist is fine, arcanists are supposed to be powerful in Dark Sun, but Defiler should be the STRONGEST available option, its what the power hungry mad-men went for, and it WORKED even though they were power hungry mad-men.

    If you simply can't tollerate PCs being imballanced then simply declare that anyone who goes to the dark side becomes an NPC (which is how WEG star wars worked it before WotC got the license).

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    The more I read about these Dark Sun discussions here, the more I like the setting. It sounds really, really fun.

    Fun in the "hey, everyone? Bring three or four extra characters each for tomorrow's game" sort of way.

    /off topic.
    Last edited by 0Megabyte; 2010-09-02 at 05:40 PM.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    "Better theme music and you get to kill Ewoks and Gungans."
    If I ever run a Star Wars game (unlikely) it will have a gungan sith lord with at least twice as many levels as the characters. You thought you hated gungans before? Just wait.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    preserving shouldn't have a cost since it's the default assumed by most casters and unless my memory is failing, it's been that way since 2nd ed.

    i don't find that 4th ed defiling is too weak since it should be noted that the biggest defiling was genocidal in nature, which what the sorceror kings used to ascent. most other defiling, the "everyday" defiling if you will, is much lower key in nature.

    it should also be noted that the campaign setting does have rules for areas completely ruined by defiling. if your GM deems your defiling effective enough, he can simply rule it's effects permanent on the land. And in a world where fertile land is a boon in itself, permanently killing the land is a great way to get run out of town via spears & torches.

    The more I read about these Dark Sun discussions here, the more I like the setting. It sounds really, really fun.

    Fun in the "hey, everyone? Bring three or four extra characters each for tomorrow's game" sort of way.

    /off topic.
    fun fact: 2nd ed dark sun literally recommended this.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Here is a though for defiling.

    Arcane daily powers only as it currently stands.

    Reroll to hit as is

    or

    Add 2d6 Necrotic damage.

    4d6 Paragon
    6d6 Epic

    or something along those lines.

    maybe

    2d6
    2d8
    2d10

    but im not sure the scaling is perfect either way.
    Aside from "have fun", i think the key to GMing is putting your players into situations where they need to make a choice that has no perfect outcome available. They will hate you for it, but they will be back at the table session after session.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by potatocubed View Post
    If I ever run a Star Wars game (unlikely) it will have a gungan sith lord with at least twice as many levels as the characters. You thought you hated gungans before? Just wait.
    I love the way you think, potatocubed. His Dark Side Acolytes should be Ewoks/some equally hated race about 3-4 levels above the PCs, just to make it even more fun.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Rerolling Daily powers is absolutely incredible. Defiling is more a story based thing than a mechanic thing, this way works well - you can use it, but it's costly.

    Consider a Daily power - many of these, hitting will win you a fight basically singlehandedly. Much control, normally. I can see many situations where defiling is a fight changer.

    That being said, it is, once again, a story based thing, not a mechanics thing.

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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Given WotC aproach to 4E, I'm suprised they didn't just say "All defilier are NPCs" and have a bunch of defiler mages of various different levels. If you want to damage your allies for extra power there is already the dark pact warlock.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Quote Originally Posted by oxybe View Post
    preserving shouldn't have a cost since it's the default assumed by most casters and unless my memory is failing, it's been that way since 2nd ed.

    i don't find that 4th ed defiling is too weak since it should be noted that the biggest defiling was genocidal in nature, which what the sorceror kings used to ascent. most other defiling, the "everyday" defiling if you will, is much lower key in nature.

    it should also be noted that the campaign setting does have rules for areas completely ruined by defiling. if your GM deems your defiling effective enough, he can simply rule it's effects permanent on the land. And in a world where fertile land is a boon in itself, permanently killing the land is a great way to get run out of town via spears & torches.
    But this is also kind of my point. Defiling ALREADY has massive RP-related drawbacks. So why did they find it necessary to place an hp tax on your entire party? I'd be tempted to just remove the ally damaging effects of arcane defiling, except that I don't want to screw up the Master Defiler PP. Thus, I feel that preserving should be more difficult.



    Here are a couple examples illustrating my main problems with the crunch not matching the fluff:

    Quote Originally Posted by DSCS p.80
    Defiling is easy and intoxicating, but it destroys or damages the life from which a spell draws power.
    Defiling has too many drawbacks for too little benefit, nor is it any easier than normal magic. I'm also not seeing the "intoxicating" aspect, unless they mean that it is addicting and they want me to take their word for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DSCS p.80
    Preserving is difficult and requires care, and it avoids harming the world around the caster.
    The trouble is, preserving according to the rules isn't difficult at all. It doesn't require any skill or take any longer than normal.



    The problem comes down to lack of incentive. Defiling, according to the fluff, is very inviting. There's a substantial reason for a mage to take that path. But that incentive is not backed up by the mechanics at all, which causes a huge disconnect in my mind. Furthermore, the common image of an arcanist in the setting is one who defiles (to the point that anyone caught using arcane magic is assumed to be a defiler), whereas according to the game rules the default and assumed position of PCs is to be preservers (a position which is reinforced by the mechanical superiority of preserving). That makes it a double disconnect.

    There are two ways that I can see to restore that incentive which exists in the fluff: Either lessen the penalty for defiling, or make preserving more difficult to match its fluffy claims of difficulty. Since I am wary of removing the existing mechanics of defiling (even though that may really be the better idea), I'm leaning more in the direction of applying some kind of penalty to preserving to balance them out. I find it easier to add a rule than to take one out.
    Last edited by KillianHawkeye; 2010-09-02 at 06:55 PM.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    Here's an idea: defiling rituals. You still couldn't get awesome setting-changing stuff, but I could see, for example, infecting allies with a disease as a cost for a more powerful/cheaper than average ritual. That would help the feel, and be 4e-compatible.
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    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    I like the way you think Kaun
    I'd propose something like,

    Defiling, Close Burst 20, Free action (or minor)
    no defence, or casting stat vs fort (perferably no attack roll, otherwise it could demolish minions... which I suppose may be a benefit)
    heroic 2d8
    paragon 3d8
    epic 4d8
    Effect: role the attack at +10, may be used on encounter and daily powers

    This would, a) give more opprotunities to bring it into play and b) give it tactical advantages. A plus 10 bonus should statistically be the same as rerolling, but since you don't cast the spell twice I prefer to make one roll. The draw back is, as PC's have less hit points than monsters the damage they take will be more significant (also, everyone else in the world should be out to kill you, be there is no mechanical way to simulate that).

    If I remeber correctly, there used to be a bit where defiling could taint the caster too, as a drawback. To get rid of the taint the caster had to get forgiveness from a druid. I thought that was cool as it mixed in an RP element, but it seems out of place in 4E (hopefully unearthed arcana will open up things like taints)
    Last edited by Loren; 2010-09-02 at 07:42 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Default Re: [Dark Sun 4E] Is defiling too weak?

    The thing a random person I saw somewhere on the internet liked about it is that defiling was accessible to anyone. He said that in 2E if you chose to take the Preserver path, you couldn't defile. This way, the temptation is always there, and even the most hardline purist Preservers have the secret sin of defiling on their souls from one difficult and hopeless scenario.

    Of course, this would be justified more if defiling could be used to save one's life like that, but it has some benefits.

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