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Thread: 4th Edition Scalability

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    ronpyatt's Avatar
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    4th Edition Scalability

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    4e has been designed to be fun and playable from 1st level to 30th level. I've played 1st and 2nd level characters, and so far, it's holding to its ideal.

    Have you experienced any issues at any particular level of play in your 4e games?

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    I'm not aware of any issues. I suppose one could build out a level 25 party, and run a combat with a level 25 encounter, but I'm too busy coming up with level 3 encounters for my current group

    My impression with the way things scale is that the monsters' defenses go up one point per level. You're given a point every other level (BaB), and the onus is on the player to make sure the character makes up the other half level by some other means- periodic attribute increases, magic weaponry (+1/5 levels), powers, etc. As your tactics increase, you'll be using combat advantage more (flanking, attacks from stealth), and other tactics more effectively as your party learns to work as a team. The scaling is front-loaded with high starting attributes, and powers, gear and tactics take over later on as the bonus from attributes starts to become a smaller part of the overall bonus. There also seems to be a bit of a "shotgun" effect as characters advance, with characters getting more opportunities to make attack rolls, with a lower chance of each attack hitting.

    The following is off the top of my head, with no reference to rulebooks:

    By level 30, you're facing monsters with defenses 30 points higher than level 1 monsters. At level 30, you'll have a +15 from BaB, presumably packing a +6 weapon, will have an additional +2 or so from attributes (guessing here- could be more), which leaves you only a +7 to scrounge up. Given that a tricked-out level 1 character can be looking at about an 85 percent hit rate without CA, that means your equivalent level 30 character is still connecting about half the time, before considering tactics and situational powers. Seems to scale OK to me...

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Scaling seems okay from all appearances. I wish i could say more but my two gaming groups characters have yet to attain such levels of experience to really say for sure.

    Thoth-Amon

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    I have not analyzed it all, but 4e has tons of adds for attack rolls. My 1st level fighter has +6 to all attacks and that is not ridiculous at all. +2 or +3 for proficiency and then adds for ability mods then BAB and voila +6 or +7 out of the box.
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    4e does seem more "front-loaded" than 3e. You generally start from a higher "baseline" but advance more slowly after that initial "jump".

    I haven't played it so I couldn't say how that directly affects scaling, but assuming that the challenges increase at the same rate as the PCs, it should maintain a very even level of balance.

    One of the (seemingly) nice things about 4e is that Armor Class increases at the same rate as Base Attack Bonus, which means that (in theory) characters will not get significantly easier and easier to hit as you go up in level (which is one of the minor quibbles I had with previous D&D versions). This seems to help avoid the "I only miss on a 3 or less" scenario and keeps things a little more unpredictable (and thus, dangerous).

    Again, that's just theory talking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post

    One of the (seemingly) nice things about 4e is that Armor Class increases at the same rate as Base Attack Bonus, which means that (in theory) characters will not get significantly easier and easier to hit as you go up in level (which is one of the minor quibbles I had with previous D&D versions). This seems to help avoid the "I only miss on a 3 or less" scenario and keeps things a little more unpredictable (and thus, dangerous).
    I believe that this was part of getting rid of iterative attacks- rather than having a guaranteed hit and a series of attacks that are less and less likely to hit, there's one attack that may hit, so less dice need to be rolled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valdar View Post
    I believe that this was part of getting rid of iterative attacks- rather than having a guaranteed hit and a series of attacks that are less and less likely to hit, there's one attack that may hit, so less dice need to be rolled.
    Agreed. I like this a lot. I first witnessed this development in Mutants & Masterminds 2e and then Star Wars Saga shortly after that. They got rid of multiple attack progression...thank goodness. I was very happy to see combat cleaned up that way.
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    Yep. When they decided to not include multi-attack progression they were able to focus on balancing out the attack powers per level for each class; possibly making scaling up easier in the process. My group is going to level after this next session. So, I'll get to compare out to 3rd level. (Taking the leveling up slowly has been nice, and it's helped us absorb the mechanics of our character's abilities.)

    I think Skill Challenge Encounters are where some of the scaling really shines, but I can't be sure until I get to practice at higher levels.

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    It seems pretty well balanced throughout.

    I have noticed that at the epic tier, there are only 17 feats, and 7 of them are for increasing the critical hit range on various melee weapons. Of course there are plenty of other feats available at earlier levels that you could continue to pick up.

    There are only 4 epic destinies. That means in a standard party of 5 pcs at least two will have the same one, unless you come up with your own.

    I'm sure we'll see more feats and epic destinies to fill out this roster in later publications, if your starting at lvl 1 you probably haven't gotten up that high yet. But I would have liked more in the core book. I want to play more so I can see for myself, how the higher levels play out.

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    As stated above, Defenses go up by 30. Your attack will go up by 15, +6 for a weapon, and +4 for attribute bonuses. If you started with an 18 for your primary attack attribute, your also +1 ahead of the curve. This still leaves you 4 points in the whole to be recovered elsewhere. Overall, the scaling finally starts to fail near level 26, but remains playable to 30, thanks to the various powers of leaders to grant attack bonuses and teamwork to get combat advantage for the extra +2.
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    At high levels, you also have several dailies. Some improve your chance to hit, but the ones that don't still do tremendous damage when they do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    At high levels, you also have several dailies. Some improve your chance to hit, but the ones that don't still do tremendous damage when they do.
    And I've also witnessed that many daily powers still have some (albeit lesser) effect even if the roll is not successful, which at least helps to avoid feeling like you've completely wasted the power because of a bad roll and is a good "last resort" to bring against enemies who seem otherwise too tough to reliably hit with lesser powers.
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