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    biggrin [4e] Fluff Choices!

    I've been thumbing through the 4e books for the past couple of weeks, and suddenly, something hit me.

    They don't tell you how someone uses their powers

    Now, for some powers, it's pretty clearly implied. Reaping Strike for instance, uses a melee weapon to smack someone really hard. But what about the cleric's lazor powers? Or the Warlock's Eldrich Blast? Or the Wizard's spells?

    Well, seems like WotC has left that stuff up to me, and unlike some folks, I like it that way. The question now is - how do I want to do it?

    Now, I've always liked the gestures-and-power-words kind of wizard, but there's a lot to be said about being able to kill with a word, or with a gesture. Unlike a lot of fluff, this sort of things is likely to come up (Disabling Spellcasters 101 - Gags are your friends) and have an in-game consequence.

    For the time being, I'm going with Player's Choice, with the note that this is due to how the individual Masters teach their students - and an Arcana check may reveal who taught a particular wizard, if you watch them cast spells

    So, how about you? How are you dealing with this tasty treat, or other fluff-less areas of 4e? Find any interesting ones?
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    As a DM I would probably make someone choose how to cast all their spells at the beginning and then have slight variations between them. That way, they could choose to have only finger motions, or have it be strictly nose wiggles and nostril flares. Something that any mildly intelligent NPC could put a clothespin on his nose, or break his fingers. That will be immensely useful.

    Thanks for pointing that out.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    I love the freedom of fluff in 4th Edition. I'm playing a frost elf that fires blasts of ice and cold at his enemies with magical powers while using his elven swiftness to move around the battlefield effortlessly. Out of combat, he knows various magical rituals. And he's a ranger. He has the wizard multiclass and ritual caster to get him ray of frost as an encounter power, and rituals. He wears magic bracers that function mechanically as a frost longbow, but they don't have to be held or drawn, and deal only cold damage (no choice to do normal) as a drawback. His Hunter's Bear Trap ability freezes his enemies rather than shooting them in the leg.

    With one tiny alternate rule and a lot of reflavoring, the character feels completely differant while mechanically being just an archer ranger. The frost elf race is one I made up, and it just uses the stats of elves as written.
    Last edited by Goober4473; 2008-06-25 at 11:13 PM.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    As DM, about half of my players enjoy fluffing their powers as they cast them, while the other half prefer me to do it.

    Recently I have fluffed our low level wizard like this:

    Magic missile: throwing a shimmering globe of force, like whipping a baseball.
    Ray of frost: pointing with index finger with their hand in gun shape and a silvery bluish beam.
    Burning hands: Stomping his foot and sending out a rolling wave of fire (Shujena like. sp?)
    Sleep: Snapping his fingers, causing a barely perceptible second where everything seemed to go slowly followed by a difficult to see rain of sparkles in the area.

    Etc etc.

    This has always been one of my favorite things to do, in 3.5 as well, but 4e definitely feels like it was written with 'insert your own fluff here' in mind, rather than simply left blank.


    Anyway, tons of fun, cant wait till its my turn to play (but DMing will be fun too)

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    I've been thumbing through the 4e books for the past couple of weeks, and suddenly, something hit me.

    They don't tell you how someone uses their powers
    That is correct. The upside of this is that every player can decide for themselves exactly how he does that (well, except that wizards are pretty much expected to use Harry Potter wands now and that I'd like to hear people explain how a rogue does a Blinding Barrage while armed with only a single dagger).

    The downside is that, without extensive houseruling, it is not actually possible to interfere with somebody's powers or actions, because instead of working in a cause-and-effect paradigm that can be meddled with, powers "just work" regardless of what else is going on. For instance, you can't break a caster's concentration in any way, or mess up his vocal component with sneezing powder.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    They don't tell you how someone uses their powers
    That is a very good catch, and raises numerous questions:

    1.) Can a wizard cast a spell without making any gestures? Would it be readily apparent who casted a spell if it did not originate from the caster themself?

    2.) Can you ready an action with a trigger of "When soandso starts using a power"? Seems kind of silly if you wouldn't even know if they were using a power or not. Very metagame-y.


    Hmmm, I haven't had a chance to look over any of the books in super detail so I hadn't even noticed.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    ... and that I'd like to hear people explain how a rogue does a Blinding Barrage while armed with only a single dagger).
    That would be an interesting trick, yes, but unfortunately logical contortions aren't required in this case. You need to use at least one unit of ammunition for each target within the burst (I suspect you can use a single dagger if it's magical, but I don't have my books now so I can't quote any rationale for this).

    Also, I suspect sneezing powder would hinder any power in pretty much the same way; it's hard to pull off precise and complex martial maneuvers while sneezing violently, too. Call it "Dex vs. Fort, target is dazed on his next turn (save ends)", maybe.

    @ Goober: Hey, I've got a character pretty much just like that prepared on my list of "characters to play". Cool.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    The downside is that, without extensive houseruling, it is not actually possible to interfere with somebody's powers or actions, because instead of working in a cause-and-effect paradigm that can be meddled with, powers "just work" regardless of what else is going on. For instance, you can't break a caster's concentration in any way, or mess up his vocal component with sneezing powder.
    Meh, how extensive? The DM just says "hey, if you're a wizard, you need to have at least one hand free, or grasping an implement" or "you need to be able to speak, and speak loudly" before you start playing. Hell, I do more houseruling to describe dwarven society
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Meh, how extensive? The DM just says "hey, if you're a wizard, you need to have at least one hand free, or grasping an implement" or "you need to be able to speak, and speak loudly" before you start playing. Hell, I do more houseruling to describe dwarven society
    That's where it starts, yes. Then you can consider how this works for other classes, and how it works if the character is, say, partially bound, or starving, or underwater, or in an oxygen-free environment, or magically silenced.

    Then you can consider how the various powers interact. RAW clearly says that "they do not", but the Rule of Cool implies that players will want to try such things. If the orc BBEG is using a big wooden club, can you incinerate it with a fire spell? Can you detect an invisible character with a bag of flour? How about scattering marbles everywhere to prevent an evil rogue from sneaking? RAW doesn't offer the option, but wanna bet that some player is going to give it a try?

    Other RPGs tend to have numerous boundary conditions, exceptions, and other interactions. 4E does not; the expected approach is to handwave them away because they never apply. Creative DMs will come up with a better approach, and that is where the extensive houserulings come in.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    If the orc BBEG is using a big wooden club, can you incinerate it with a fire spell? Can you detect an invisible character with a bag of flour? How about scattering marbles everywhere to prevent an evil rogue from sneaking? RAW doesn't offer the option, but wanna bet that some player is going to give it a try?
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    1) DMG 65: Damaging Objects
    2) PHB 281: Tells you how to locate an invisible creature. Yes, you're right it doesn't say anything about flour, but 3e didn't give you rules for pouring flour on things either.
    3) I don't see why they would. Now, if you had said brittle bones or something, I'd treat that either as a Warder Trap (DMG 86) or just put a modifier on the Stealth Check (PHB 188)

    Seriously though, answering these particular situations isn't getting at your point. Do you honestly want a system that gives you particularized solutions to every conceivable situation, or one with general rules that guide you to making reasonable on-the-fly rulings?


    That's all a digression, anyhow. Did you really prefer reading applying textual analysis on the rulebooks to how invisibility works, or would you have preferred the DM to have made that decision? If it's the former, then just import the fluff from 3e - nothing says you can't, and there's nothing in 4e to get in the way. But for the rest of us, it seems like this is a real opportunity that some people have been using to their advantage.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Actually, for Wizards, most powers specify that they are using an implement, and as a class feature may receive a minor encounter power with 1 of the 3 implements. There is the Wand(+Dex to attack once per encounter), the Orb(increases duration of effects or gives wis penalty to enemy saving throws once per encounter), and Staff(+1 AC so long as you have it equipped, reduce attack by Con amount of damage after already knowing if the attack hit and the damage it would do).

    How you cast with a given Implement is up to you though.

    As for disabling spellcasters, just take away their Implement and they can't cast.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    strictly no, the implement gives a bonus, absence of implement does not make power unusable. You can have your wizard blazing away with magic coming from his bare hands. Unfortunately, powerwise, he will suck.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by wodan46 View Post
    Actually, for Wizards, most powers specify that they are using an implement, and as a class feature may receive a minor encounter power with 1 of the 3 implements. There is the Wand(+Dex to attack once per encounter), the Orb(increases duration of effects or gives wis penalty to enemy saving throws once per encounter), and Staff(+1 AC so long as you have it equipped, reduce attack by Con amount of damage after already knowing if the attack hit and the damage it would do).

    How you cast with a given Implement is up to you though.

    As for disabling spellcasters, just take away their Implement and they can't cast.
    Y'see, I thought that, but then I read this:
    Quote Originally Posted by PHB 157
    Wizards make use of orbs, staffs, and wands to help channel and direct their arcane powers. Every wizard has mastery of one type of implement (see “Class Features”). Without an implement, a wizard can still use his or her powers. A wizard wielding a magic orb, staff, or wand can add its enhancement bonus to the attack rolls and the damage rolls of wizard powers, as well as wizard paragon path powers, that have the implement keyword.
    Was that a mistake? Did it mean to say "without their specialized implement, a wizard can still use his or her powers if he or she has one of the implements?" Warlocks have a similar description.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    no mistake. Implement grants a bonus, but is not required. Same applies to paladins and clerics with their holy symbols, I believe.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    no mistake. Implement grants a bonus, but is not required. Same applies to paladins and clerics with their holy symbols, I believe.
    And then we're back to the OP

    C'mon folks, anyone going to play with this lack of fluff? Perhaps go with Danceomancy? Make Warlock casting and Wizard casting different?
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Ok, good, I prefer it that way. You can fluff your character to fire magic out of his bare hands, but not implement bonuses for doing so. Or you could make Gauntlets as an Implement. Or Helmets for Eyebeams.
    Last edited by wodan46; 2008-06-26 at 11:33 AM.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    I usually find that if the in-universe mechanic for powers isn't supplied, most players just ignore it.

    The times I've played a 4e character so far, it hasn't occurred to me to put any investment into that particular aspect of fluff - after all, it doesn't actually make any difference one way or the other, it's only cosmetic. If I was going to put more effort into thinking about my character, I'd think about their personality or background.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    You can describe the visuals any way you like. Wizards are famous for wriggling fingers. Warlock powers were all called Invocations, once. Maybe warlock always speaks the Name of the entity he is invoking as part of the power? Fey, Infernal, Star traits could be easily described: smells, light (green, hell-red, black, silver sparkling)

    For wizards, the symbols drawn in the air with his fingers or wand might glow as the spell goes off.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I usually find that if the in-universe mechanic for powers isn't supplied, most players just ignore it.

    The times I've played a 4e character so far, it hasn't occurred to me to put any investment into that particular aspect of fluff - after all, it doesn't actually make any difference one way or the other, it's only cosmetic. If I was going to put more effort into thinking about my character, I'd think about their personality or background.

    - Saph
    Sure, but you can see why it's important. You can stop a fighter by taking away his weapons (well, make him less good) but how do you stop a wizard? Do they make noise when they're attacking? The fluff here does have some mechanical effects in-game, so it's important to think about it, at least a little.

    That said, I think most veteran D&D players will just assume somatic and verbal components
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Sure, but you can see why it's important. You can stop a fighter by taking away his weapons (well, make him less good) but how do you stop a wizard? Do they make noise when they're attacking? The fluff here does have some mechanical effects in-game, so it's important to think about it, at least a little.
    The trouble with this is that it doesn't actually have any mechanical effects in-game, at least going by the books. You could try and talk the DM into making up a rule on the fly, I guess . . .

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    The trouble with this is that it doesn't actually have any mechanical effects in-game, at least going by the books. You could try and talk the DM into making up a rule on the fly, I guess . . .

    - Saph
    That's... my point. The books don't specify at all, but these powers must be activated in some fashion. As such, DMs should think about this question beforehand, or it means that everyone kills with their minds - which is fine, but probably not how people generally want their wizards/warlocks/priests to operate.

    And ask your DM today how he wants to do it. Better than later on when he has you bound and gagged and you say "I cast magic missile," resulting in a huge rules argument which makes nobody happy.

    BTW - I'm liking the "Warlocks use Power Words, Wizards use symbols" method. Clerics pray, I suppose.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    That's... my point. The books don't specify at all, but these powers must be activated in some fashion. As such, DMs should think about this question beforehand, or it means that everyone kills with their minds - which is fine, but probably not how people generally want their wizards/warlocks/priests to operate.

    And ask your DM today how he wants to do it. Better than later on when he has you bound and gagged and you say "I cast magic missile," resulting in a huge rules argument which makes nobody happy.
    Probably a good idea. My point was just that if these things aren't mentioned in the books, people tend to forget about them until it becomes an issue (which could be quite a long time if you're just fighting ordinary combats).

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Probably a good idea. My point was just that if these things aren't mentioned in the books, people tend to forget about them until it becomes an issue (which could be quite a long time if you're just fighting ordinary combats).

    - Saph
    Very true, particularly if they are D&D veterans! Heck, I've already started a 4e campaign and it didn't occur to me until today-ish that the rules are silent on the matter.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Hmm, the painter wizard in Sword of Truth was always one of my favorite... maybe I'll make a Wizard that "paints" spells using his paintbrush (wand implement).

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    More fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by PHB 56
    Weapon: Many martial powers, as well as several divine powers, can be used only if you’re wielding a weapon. (You can use an unarmed attack as your weapon.) A weapon’s reach or range determines the reach or range of a power it’s used with.
    Emphasis mine.

    This means you can totally Cleave with a Roundhouse Kick
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    My Paladin of the Raven Queen has a black cloak split down the middle with feathers lining the trim. When using divine powers that aren't hitting, an updraft lifts the cloak so it resembles wings; then a sudden backdraft makes them "flap" towards my target and the holy energy mainfests as loose feathers flying off said cloak- settling on the target and sinking into it's skin.

    He's not one for subtlety.

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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Seriously though, answering these particular situations isn't getting at your point. Do you honestly want a system that gives you particularized solutions to every conceivable situation, or one with general rules that guide you to making reasonable on-the-fly rulings?
    The latter, of course, but 4E instead has specific rules that essentially state that you can't do anything else. For instance, you're not allowed to attempt to disarm an opponent unless you have a power that explicitly lets you. More to the point, for rules to "guide you to make reasonable on-the-fly rulings", the rules need not point out every boundary case, but should definitely explain how their effects work - and 4E is too detached for that. How exactly does the fighter's martial mark dispel his friend paladin's divine mark? I know why that rule exists, but from an in-world perspective it's never explained (nor does it make much sense).
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    More fun!



    Emphasis mine.

    This means you can totally Cleave with a Roundhouse Kick
    Chuck Norris could do that anyway.
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    Default Re: [4e] Fluff Choices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    The latter, of course, but 4E instead has specific rules that essentially state that you can't do anything else. For instance, you're not allowed to attempt to disarm an opponent unless you have a power that explicitly lets you. More to the point, for rules to "guide you to make reasonable on-the-fly rulings", the rules need not point out every boundary case, but should definitely explain how their effects work - and 4E is too detached for that. How exactly does the fighter's martial mark dispel his friend paladin's divine mark? I know why that rule exists, but from an in-world perspective it's never explained (nor does it make much sense).
    You are reading 4e unfairly. DMG 42 clearly gives you rules for systematizing any particular occurrence, and gives you guidelines for arbitrating "boundary cases." It seems here that you dislike the fact that WotC does not give fluffy explanations for the rules, no matter how absurd (Arcane Spell Failure indeed!). That does not mean you cannot provide a fluffy explanation - that is why I started the thread!

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    Being "marked" represents the focus of a particular combatant on a given target. If two fighters have marked the same target, then the two fighters will get in each other's way, causing one to spoil the other's actions. The most recent marker is going to be the one most "in the face" of the enemy, having just attacked the target, while the older marker will be confounded by the newer attacks.

    A Paladin, of course, works differently. He has called down his God's Eye upon a given target, so that if the target attacks someone else, he'll get smote by the divinity. This mark is more binding than the fighter's mere skill - it's divine! - but if another fighter has claimed the target, the God is more than willing to allow another to smite the evil.


    Now, you can disagree with my fluff, but that's the point of fluff - you can make your own! However, if your own fluff contradicts the fluff of the game, you'll be fighting an uphill battle, since it messes with the players' expectations and will subtly contradict multiple references within the rulebook. If that fluff does not exist, it is easier for the DM to make his own rules, if he so desires.

    (Disarming)
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    Losing the disarm action is a bit of a disappointment, but it fits within the guidelines of 4e. Normal combat actions (like pushing people, or grabbing them) are included for completeness, but the more sophisticated ones (like being able to knock people over or knock weapons out of their hands) have been rolled into the Powers. This helps to distinguish the fighting styles of the different classes, and reduces the risk of any one of those generic actions overwhelming other class powers. There are rules for stealing items in combat (PHB 188) but it's very difficult. Still, it allows your halfling thief to snag the Amulet of Power off the Big Bad, or the Crown of Undead Rulership off the brow of the Lich King.
    Lead Designer for Oracle Hunter Games
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    ~ Awesome Avatar by the phantastic Phase ~
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    Elflad

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