Last week I started in on the core classes, which garnered a lot of discussion. I’ll definitely be going back and revising them soon (they’re already in the works in my design document.)
So here’s what I think of as the next step, or at least a defining portion of the next step: at-wills. At-will powers accomplish a few important things in the game. They serve as the powers you will use the most, and throughout your entire career adventuring. They are the fall backs when you don’t want to use any of your encounter or dailies (expendable resources) and are more all-purpose.
But in 4e, those are also the powers you will be using every round in combat. They’re the go-to. You will probably use one of them at least once per combat. In a Modern game, that’s not necessarily the case. You rarely see the same move done in every scene.
The focus, then, are just moves that a character can always try and perform. Unlike a per scene or per session power, which will be designed to fill a certain dramatic role a certain number of times per game, at-wills can happen when needed. Not only that, but non-combat at-wills (or at least, non-encounter at-wills) are tough since you don’t want them to just be “spammed” over and over again, for whatever skill or situation. You want there to be a choice to use them.
The other big thing when working on how at-wills work is that I want to encourage multiclassing. Thus, there’s just a big pool of at-wills that anyone can take, no matter what class you are. Each at-will has an effect like expected, and then an extra “kicker” for the different classes, two for each at-will. Then a feat would be available to count as a different class for the purposes of at-will and begin the multiclass path.
A lot of introduction, I know, but it’s a tough issue. Here are some samples of what I’ve come up with. Do note that several of them duplicate abilities in 4e: these are ones that make sense for fantasy adventurers to be able to do all the time and ordinary people do only with training.
Str vs. Reflex
Hit: You push the target a step.
Strong Hero: You also deal your Str mod damage to the target.
Tough Hero: You instead push the target a short distance.
Str vs. Reflex
Hit: You grab the target.
Strong Hero: Each turn that you maintain the grab, you deal damage equal to your Str mod.
Tough Hero: The target takes a penalty to all checks equal to your Con mod.
You move a medium distance and take a -5 penalty to all your checks this turn.
Fast Hero: You can instead move a long distance.
Tough Hero: The penalty to your checks is reduced by your Con mod (up to +0).
Cha vs. Will
Hit: The target can only take one action on its next turn.
Smart Hero: The next check against the target receives a bonus equal to your Int mod.
Charismatic Hero: The next check made by the target in the next turn receive a penalty equal to your Cha mod.
Int vs. Fort
Target: One creature in close range
Hit: The target grants combat advantage to your allies until the beginning of you next turn.
Smart Hero: Any allies that hit the target with an attack also deal extra damage equal to your Int mod.
Dedicated Hero: The attack bonus for combat advantage is equal to your 1 + Wis mod instead of the normal +2.
Cha vs Will
Target an enemy engaged with you.
Hit: You have combat advantage against the target until the end of your turn.
Fast Hero: If you hit the target this turn, their initiative count drops to the bottom of the list.
Charismatic Hero: The target takes a penalty to Will equal to our Cha mod.
You gain a +1 bonus to your next attack roll with a ranged weapon this turn.
Smart Hero: You critical on the attack from 19-20.
Fast Hero: The bonus is instead equal to your Dex mod.
Cha vs Will
Hit: You mark the target until the end of your next turn.
Dedicated Hero: You gain a bonus to your Reflex equal to your Wis mod against the target.
Charismatic Hero: The target moves towards you.
Any hit points you gain until the beginning of your next turn are increased by 2.
Dedicated Hero: Instead gain extra HP equal to your 1+Wis mod.
Tough Hero: In addition gain temporary HP equal to your Con mod.
Str vs Reflex
Hit: The target is knocked prone.
Strong Hero: The target also takes damage equal to your Str mod.
Fast Hero: The target must spend a Standard action to stand next turn.
Trigger: You are hit by an attack that targets Reflex and you have cover.
Effect: You gain superior cover and fall prone.
Fast Hero: On your next turn, you can stand up as a minor action.
Smart Hero: You can roll a short distance after the attack resolves.
Still working on them of course, and looking forward to some suggestions. Next week: A sampling of Per Scene and Per Session powers… which are a bit different.