Critical Hits Podcast #28: Mike Shea and Matt James on Power Creep

What is power creep? How does it manifest in 4e? What are some of the consistently problematic examples? How can a DM deal with all those many classes, races, powers, and items out there? These questions and more are discussed by Mike Shea of Sly Flourish and Matt James of Loremaster.

Further Reading:

Power Creep in 4e (67 minutes, 65 MB)

[Download MP3 versionPodcast FeediTunes Link]



  1. Great podcast. I especially liked the exploration and discussion of ideas for helping the DM both expand and limit campaign character options, encounter challenge levels, monster abilities, etc. Great series, looking forward to the next!

  2. Good stuff!

    One thing I don’t see mentioned often is magic items. A big part of having reasonable control is for DMs to limit how much the game revolves around magic. Many of the obscene builds are only really obscene when the gear is tailored to the PC. A more random magic item distribution results in far less cheese and can be much more interesting for everyone.

    While I limit PC options to some extent in my Dark Sun campaign, I don’t do that for cheese. I do it for the setting. I don’t feel the need to curtail the use of powers or feats, to be honest. In a home campaign I am able to control the combination of terrain, monsters, and set-up such that they are challenged. I do use XP budgets, primarily to keep myself in check and prevent encounters being too hard. Even a level +1 encounter is usually pretty brutal with MM3/MV/DSCC monsters and advantageous terrain.

    In LFR I can’t change the encounter too much, of course, but even there I find that encounters are fine for what players bring to the table. I find a lot of this is DM tactics. The more you pay attention to monster spacing, to how as a DM you might tip your hat and indicate the important creatures, and the more you can get players out of their PCs’ comfort zones… the more you will create really strong challenges. As an author I really enjoy writing situations that can potentially challenge the PCs. Damaging auras, dangerous terrain, big battle maps, hidden monsters… these give the DM great latitude in setting the challenge.

    In Ashes of Athas we try to build in these variables so DMs and the table can together find the right/fun challenge level.

  3. its the players’ fault…aha!

  4. It is just as we say in the IT world. The system is perfect until we let the users touch it. 😉

  5. Erik Nowak says:

    My campaign is the one where Matt is guest-DMing and trying out the “2 healing surges for a reroll” house rule. I play a paladin with a bunch of healing surges, so I used this option twice. Both times, my original rolls were 3 or less. Both times, my REROLLS were 3 or less!!

    It’s a neat rule, though. I recommend giving it a shot.


  1. […] The Real Reason your 4e Fights are So Damn Slow.   Also, this week’s Critical Hits podcast on with Mike Shea of Sly Flourish and Loremaster’s Matt James includes an excellent […]