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KillianHawkeye
2010-09-02, 03:42 PM
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?

Urpriest
2010-09-02, 03:52 PM
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.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-02, 03:54 PM
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.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-02, 03:54 PM
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.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-09-02, 04:00 PM
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.

Saph
2010-09-02, 04:00 PM
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."

Kurald Galain
2010-09-02, 04:03 PM
"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.

For hazardous magic, I much prefer the Call of Chthulhu system, where magic usually annihilates your enemies before driving you fhtagn insane!

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-02, 04:04 PM
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 :smallbiggrin:



So what do people think about assigning some sort of cost to preserving in order to make defiling more appealing?

Worira
2010-09-02, 04:11 PM
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.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-02, 04:11 PM
Game balance. Monsters have more HP than players, so being able to Defile enemies would help you more than it hurts.

Worira
2010-09-02, 04:16 PM
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.

nightwyrm
2010-09-02, 04:22 PM
The basic defiling ability is not very earth shattering, but there's a number of feats you can take that makes it fairly attractive.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-02, 04:27 PM
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.

awa
2010-09-02, 04:32 PM
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.

nightwyrm
2010-09-02, 04:32 PM
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.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-02, 04:34 PM
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.

Yes, that also happens.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-02, 04:44 PM
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.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-09-02, 05:23 PM
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.

Doug Lampert
2010-09-02, 05:28 PM
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).

0Megabyte
2010-09-02, 05:40 PM
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.

potatocubed
2010-09-02, 05:45 PM
"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. :smallamused:

oxybe
2010-09-02, 05:57 PM
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.

Kaun
2010-09-02, 06:17 PM
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.

LOTRfan
2010-09-02, 06:27 PM
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. :smallamused:

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. :smallamused:

SadisticFishing
2010-09-02, 06:30 PM
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.

Boci
2010-09-02, 06:36 PM
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.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-02, 06:52 PM
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:


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.


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.

Urpriest
2010-09-02, 07:15 PM
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.

Loren
2010-09-02, 07:27 PM
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)

Foryn Gilnith
2010-09-02, 07:30 PM
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.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-02, 08:00 PM
The power is fine as it is. Learning how to use it better is still a case of easier power, and striking more reliably covers quicker accumulation of power, because you improve your chances of ending encounters faster. No one ever said you'd survive easier, and it's good to have a mechanic that enforces the general hostility people feel toward defilers. Your enemies don't need the mechanic's effect to hate you for what you've done.

As for the feats, any one of them is good by itself. That one giving a -2 penalty to all defenses? It lasts until a save ends it, on every target you hit. One lets defiling work on any arcane power used with an action point. As for the critical boosting one, the extra damage dice it grants is sometimes worth the risk. It certainly fits the quicker power qualification, as it's a benefit you couldn't otherwise get until epic level. Or if you're really hard core about it, go the paragon path route.

Urpriest
2010-09-02, 08:12 PM
Is the decision to defile made after you miss, or before? If the former, I could definitely see it as tempting. "Damn, missed with Sleep. If only...nah...but I could..."

0Megabyte
2010-09-02, 08:16 PM
Hey, I say that regardless of the intent, that's a great way to do it. If you allow defilers as PC's in the first place.

After all, that gives you the temptation. And it's a delicious one.

oxybe
2010-09-02, 08:24 PM
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:

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.

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.

we'll have to agree to disagree.

defiling has little to no repercussions on the defiler and mechanically he gets a free reroll on his big, powerful spells. the "drawback" is those around him get hurt, which for the type of person who would chose to defile is probably of little concern. which is kind of the point of defiling.

you generally handle defilers in the party in the same way as you handle evil PCs: it's something the entire party needs to be conscious of and agree.

it's the common perception of the DS people that arcanists are jerks, and how common defiling is not actually important to the setting. IMO most arcanists are preservers, but it's that the common mages seen (and thus representative of the whole) are the templars who are pretty much free to defile as they want under order of the Sorceror Kings.

so the preservers are in hiding since the public perception is that "arcanists destroyed the world, their magic is bad" and getting gang-shanked is generally not a viable option.

as for defiling: you chose the reroll after you confirm your miss.

Worira
2010-09-02, 08:41 PM
That... seems to be pretty contrary to the established setting, which is that arcanists defile unless specifically trained and taught not to, and that the Preservers are a minority among arcanists. The reason preserving is the default for PCs is the same as why PCs are assumed to be neutral or good by default. Also, defilers should really be defiling with pretty much every spell they cast, not just dailies, nor should they have the option to turn it off without ever having actually trained in preserving.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-02, 10:18 PM
The funny thing is that the setting established that preserver magic came first. As it is now, everyone can stick with the basics, but if you want more reliable power, well, there are these tricks, see... tricks everyone now knows 'cos they work

Another thing I like about the system is that it helps explain why the Veiled Alliances can't just go public with the difference between them and defilers. Sure, no one saw that spell kill plant life, but that proves nothing now.

HMS Invincible
2010-09-03, 12:13 AM
Wouldn't it make more sense to have preserving magic feed off your allies and you get to reroll die? Then defiling magic is the default, since that's how magic usually works. Of course, that would make preservers, and by default, PC arcane casters suck hard. But I do like the flavor of it, if you want to save the world, you'll have to pay out of your party's blood for it. Or do what everybody else does and suck the world dry.
Now you have incentives to defile because you don't want your team getting hurt, but you have consequences for protecting your party instead of the world.

oxybe
2010-09-03, 12:41 AM
unless i understand it incorrectly preservers do drain magic out of the land... they just put it back once they're done casting, in other words: they effectively recycle magical energy.

Arcanists in Dark Sun already have it hard enough as is by being pariahs in the world at large, but being a pariah and having to suck for being a caster? that's just an incentive to not play one.

dgnslyr
2010-09-03, 12:42 AM
*Starcraft reference goes here*

Draz74
2010-09-03, 12:51 AM
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.

This is probably what I would do.


"Um, so why does anyone fall to the Dark Side again?"
"Better theme music and you get to kill Ewoks and Gungans."

Sold! Where's the Sith Sign-Up Sheet?

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-03, 12:57 AM
*Starcraft reference goes here*

Care to explain for those of us who've never played Starcraft?

Shatteredtower
2010-09-03, 01:01 AM
Wouldn't it make more sense to have preserving magic feed off your allies and you get to reroll die?
I don't see how. A defiler is more likely to view such sacrifices as acceptable.

Then defiling magic is the default, since that's how magic usually works.
It's already the default because it's always an option, at least until you take certain paragon or epic paths. There is always going to be that time when the trifling damage to your allies is worth a second try, and that's when you discover how hard the path of the preserver can be.

dgnslyr
2010-09-03, 01:04 AM
Care to explain for those of us who've never played Starcraft?

The Defiler (http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Defiler) is a unit in Starcraft. Specifically, it was a weaponless caster unit. I don't even play Starcraft, but the idea popped in my head. I blame seeing a reference to Defilers in another thread...

SadisticFishing
2010-09-03, 01:12 AM
Understanding basic 4e game philosophy would help this out a lot.

They don't like overpowered stuff. Most fluff choices are just that, fluff choices.

Everyone defiles - but it has no crunch effect unless you need a big boost of energy. One can also choose to Preserve, but it's, once again, a mostly fluff choice.

Fluff != crunch, that they gave ANYTHING cool for Defilers seems pretty rad.

I like rad things. Don't you?

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-03, 01:16 AM
Understanding basic 4e game philosophy would help this out a lot.

They don't like overpowered stuff. Most fluff choices are just that, fluff choices.

Everyone defiles - but it has no crunch effect unless you need a big boost of energy. One can also choose to Preserve, but it's, once again, a mostly fluff choice.

Fluff != crunch, that they gave ANYTHING cool for Defilers seems pretty rad.

I like rad things. Don't you?

I concur. It always sucks when the rules give you the illusion of choice but steer you towards one particular one by making it too good to pass up.

Though arguably 4e did just that with the Demigod epic destiny. Seriously, it's considered the best one in every guid I've read!

MammonAzrael
2010-09-03, 01:18 AM
The biggest problem, in my mind, is that the entire setting of Dark Sun flies in the face of 4th Edition design. You're expected to die. The enviroment is out to kill you. Your equipment will break. Bad guys are stronger because they use unbalanced, easier and more destructive evil magics. You are not expected to survive or succeed.

This in no way sounds like 4th design principals. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they brought the setting back, but I stand by the opinion that it is still too kind, too easy to survive in.

In this case I think if you really want the flavor aspect there are a couple changed that need to happen.


Make Defiling the default. Everyone can Defile. But learning to Preserve costs a feat.
Increase the bonus from Defiling, including at least bonus that applies to every attack. Such as a +1d6/2d6/3d6 necrotic damage to all creatures hit. Perhaps an attack bonus and it gives a penalty to saving throws. Yeah, it's a lot. Well it's the evil, tempting, and powerful option. Its supposed to be.
For those that can't Preserve, Defiling is mandatory. For every spell they cast. There is a reason most people don't like arcanists.


This puts Preservers at a big disadvantage. Its supposed to. Deal.

I like the idea of Defiler rituals, too.

Kurgan
2010-09-03, 01:43 AM
This is not the best solution, but depending on your play style, it might work.

1) In Second Edition one of the advantages of Defilers was that they leveled up must faster than normal Wizards. You needed 1,000,000 less xp to get to level 20 as a Defiler than Wizard. This emphasizes the "quick and easy" aspect of defiling.

2) I honestly don't know 4e that well, but from the way you are talking about it, defiling physically hurts your allies for a decent chunk of their hp. Looking at my 2e book, what defiling did to living creatures was enact a penalty to their initiative. Basically, the draining of the energy penalizes the initiative of all living creatures in the spells destruction radius by a number of points equal to the level of the spell cast. You might be able to supplant this for hp damage.

3) Defiling destroys all plant life in a radius, and nothing will grow in that radius for at least 1 full year. This will not endear Defilers to people, and their work will also be very obvious. Try hiding the fact that you are a Defiler when suddenly every plant in a 20 yard radius centered on you turns to ash! Simply put, the quick and easy path is punished by the fact that if you miss step, you will get caught. And nobody likes Defilers, from peasants to the Sorcerer Kings themselves.

Just a few ideas, hope they are helpful.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-03, 04:29 AM
Consider a Daily power - many of these, hitting will win you a fight basically singlehandedly.
Other than Sleep, I'm curious which daily powers will singlehandedly win a fight on a hit?



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.
Putting in some kind of addiction rules would be a fun option.




Make Defiling the default. Everyone can Defile. But learning to Preserve costs a feat.
Increase the bonus from Defiling, including at least bonus that applies to every attack. Such as a +1d6/2d6/3d6 necrotic damage to all creatures hit. Perhaps an attack bonus and it gives a penalty to saving throws. Yeah, it's a lot. Well it's the evil, tempting, and powerful option. Its supposed to be.
For those that can't Preserve, Defiling is mandatory. For every spell they cast. There is a reason most people don't like arcanists.


This puts Preservers at a big disadvantage. Its supposed to. Deal.
That'a a pretty good solution.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-03, 05:11 AM
The biggest problem, in my mind, is that the entire setting of Dark Sun flies in the face of 4th Edition design...You are not expected to survive or succeed.

There was never any such design expectation, only allowance. They didn't give you special rules for 21st+ lvl player and options for merchant play just to mock you.

Arcane casting, not just defiling, gets you despised. True, it's because of what defiling did, but few care about the distinction. To most NPCs, you don't need to do damage to be hated. The spell is enough.

The system works just fine as is. It doesn't require breaking. Arcane casters don't need a superior striker option on top of everything else.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-03, 05:20 AM
Arcane casting, not just defiling, gets you despised.
...which is why arcane casters get a penalty to social rolls.

Oh wait, they don't. That's basically what we said earlier: the crunch doesn't match the fluff. According to fluff, defiling is powerful, faster, addictive, and gets you despised by NPCs; according to crunch, it is none of the above.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-03, 05:40 AM
...which is why arcane casters get a penalty to social rolls.

The same one any class gets for attacking people, yes. The mechanical effect is that people who were neutral, even friendly, turn mighty hostile.

Seriously, you prefer nonsense like forcing players to take a feat to weaken their characters if they want to try the responsible path (with temptation on the road), even though it doesn't improve their 'social modifier'. All that does is increase the number of people playing primal casters and psions, with no one playing preservers.

Boci
2010-09-03, 06:55 AM
The same one any class gets for attacking people, yes. The mechanical effect is that people who were neutral, even friendly, turn mighty hostile.

Seriously, you prefer nonsense like forcing players to take a feat to weaken their characters if they want to try the responsible path (with temptation on the road), even though it doesn't improve their 'social modifier'. All that does is increase the number of people playing primal casters and psions, with no one playing preservers.

Many fans of Dark Sun consider that to be the point. Want fairness and balance? Play another setting. Don't get your goody two shoed everyone is equal on my Dark Sun.

Sure, it goes against 4E, but it would be nice to have at least had some guidlines for optional rules on how to stay a bit more true to the origional fluff.

TricksyAndFalse
2010-09-03, 07:24 AM
I have no trouble with the fluff/mechanics dichotomy. The mechanics for defiling are only the mechanics the PCs have access to. Like anything else in 4E, NPCs and monsters are assumed to be playing by other rules.

In my mind, defiling is easier and more powerful for the NPCs, and preserving is harder and weaker for them. PCs are balanced to PCs, like in all other things.

Defiling is not so weak that I would never want to use it playing an arcane caster, and not so strong that I would only ever consider playing a defiler. I think it's sitting in a good spot as-is.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-03, 08:31 AM
And nobody likes Defilers, from peasants to the Sorcerer Kings themselves.
Unless you're working for them as a templar, in which case you'll get along juuuuuust fine.

Reverent-One
2010-09-03, 08:48 AM
The biggest problem, in my mind, is that the entire setting of Dark Sun flies in the face of 4th Edition design. You're expected to die. The enviroment is out to kill you. Your equipment will break. Bad guys are stronger because they use unbalanced, easier and more destructive evil magics. You are not expected to survive or succeed.

This in no way sounds like 4th design principals. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they brought the setting back, but I stand by the opinion that it is still too kind, too easy to survive in.


Huh, as far as I know they actually did all the things you mentioned. Environment? It's deadly. Weapon breakage? It's there. Stronger monsters? Yep. And it combines to make the setting more deadly than any other 4e setting yet.

SadisticFishing
2010-09-03, 08:56 AM
Yeah, it just leaves the fun in. I'm okay with fun, personally.

Like most things in 4e, the fluff and crunch are seperate enough that wanting specific fluff won't ruin your crunch for you. That is a good thing.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-03, 09:27 AM
Defiling is not so weak that I would never want to use it playing an arcane caster, and not so strong that I would only ever consider playing a defiler. I think it's sitting in a good spot as-is.

So you think that getting a reroll on an attack or on damage is worth sapping 1/8 of your party's hp?? :smallconfused::smallsigh:

Oracle_Hunter
2010-09-03, 09:57 AM
So you think that getting a reroll on an attack or on damage is worth sapping 1/8 of your party's hp?? :smallconfused::smallsigh:
...yes, for certain Arcane dailies. Remember that 1/8 HP is 1/2 of a Surge; in a party with decent healing, that loss of HP is going to be felt a lot less than you might think.

Still, it is a cost - and an anti-social one - so it's not like folks are going to be abusing it.

Mark Hall
2010-09-03, 11:40 AM
I think the best representation of defiling was actually in the 2e book "Player's Option: Spells and Magic." In that system, you had to gather the power for a spell from your environment while casting. Defiling let you do this much quicker so, while your spells were the same power, you got an initiative boost over other wizards. The actual 2e Dark Sun rules had defiler be a separate class, which got the benefit of a faster leveling chart, but had some charisma penalties. I believe defiling would also cause an initiative penalty from the pain.

Personally, I would probably improve defiling by allowing it to add half your level to damages with arcane attack powers (including ones that normally don't do damage), but to also do half your level in necrotic damage to everything within power level squares of you (including yourself). The necrotic damage would be reducible by normal means, making being undead, having undead minions, or crafting resistances to necrotic damage attractive to Defilers.

It's very powerful... but the fact that you do damage to yourself balances it somewhat, and means that defiling isn't always the best option.

MammonAzrael
2010-09-03, 11:43 AM
Huh, as far as I know they actually did all the things you mentioned. Environment? It's deadly. Weapon breakage? It's there. Stronger monsters? Yep. And it combines to make the setting more deadly than any other 4e setting yet.

Yes. But compared to the original setting, it's a slap on the wrist, nothing more. Its a good start, but it still isn't as deadly as it used to be. It simply can't be, because of how 4th was designed (player balance, fun, and survivability...not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just totally different from Dark Sun, imo).


Many fans of Dark Sun consider that to be the point. Want fairness and balance? Play another setting. Don't get your goody two shoed everyone is equal on my Dark Sun.

Sure, it goes against 4E, but it would be nice to have at least had some guidlines for optional rules on how to stay a bit more true to the origional fluff.

Exactly.


Arcane casting, not just defiling, gets you despised. True, it's because of what defiling did, but few care about the distinction. To most NPCs, you don't need to do damage to be hated. The spell is enough.

Yeah, arcane casting gets you despised. Not just because of what defiling did, but because nearly all casters are defilers, and common folk don't care/know enough to tell a preserver apart. Remember, it isn't just what defiling did, but what it does. Its still going on, and people still hate it. No, you don't need to defile to be hated, but that isn't the point. You have to spend resources and work harder to not defile, because your character doesn't want to defile.

TricksyAndFalse
2010-09-03, 12:27 PM
So you think that getting a reroll on an attack or on damage is worth sapping 1/8 of your party's hp?? :smallconfused::smallsigh:

As OracleHunter above me said, sometimes yes.

Your question and smilies imply that it should be self-evident that I shouldn't think so. Why not?

Kurald Galain
2010-09-03, 12:40 PM
Yes. But compared to the original setting, it's a slap on the wrist, nothing more.

The funny thing is that having a breakable weapon is actually better than having an unbreakable one...

Reverent-One
2010-09-03, 01:01 PM
Yes. But compared to the original setting, it's a slap on the wrist, nothing more. Its a good start, but it still isn't as deadly as it used to be. It simply can't be, because of how 4th was designed (player balance, fun, and survivability...not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just totally different from Dark Sun, imo).


The thing is, what is Dark Sun? It's a world covered in desert that generally despises arcane magic, is filled with dangerous monsters, has lots of psionics, and generally is hard to survive in (to the point where day-to-day survival becomes your main objective). The 4e version accomplishes this. Does it do so in exactly the same way as 2e version did? No, but then 4e doesn't do a lot of things exactly as 2e did. But to say it's totally different from Dark Sun, period, seems to be focusing too much on minor details.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-09-03, 01:22 PM
The funny thing is that having a breakable weapon is actually better than having an unbreakable one...
IIRC, "unbreakable" weapons actually can be risked like "breakable" ones - they just have a much lower chance of breaking if you fail to hit.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-03, 02:13 PM
The funny thing is that having a breakable weapon is actually better than having an unbreakable one...
Really? How so? :smallconfused:

Kurgan
2010-09-03, 04:28 PM
Unless you're working for them as a templar, in which case you'll get along juuuuuust fine.

Unless things have changed between editions, I'm pretty sure that Templars do not use defiling magic.

"The use of priestly magic never adversely affects the ecosystem in and of itself." -- Dark Sun Rules Book, page 29

Not to say that the Sorcerer Kings don't have a few Defilers in their employ (which, yeah, was an oversight in my previous post), just that the Templars themselves are not.

Boci
2010-09-03, 04:29 PM
Unless things have changed between editions, I'm pretty sure that Templars do not use defiling magic.

"The use of priestly magic never adversely affects the ecosystem in and of itself." -- Dark Sun Rules Book, page 29

Not to say that the Sorcerer Kings don't have a few Defilers in their employ (which, yeah, was an oversight in my previous post), just that the Templars themselves are not.

In "Outcast", the head templar was a defiler.

Mark Hall
2010-09-03, 04:33 PM
Unless things have changed between editions, I'm pretty sure that Templars do not use defiling magic.

"The use of priestly magic never adversely affects the ecosystem in and of itself." -- Dark Sun Rules Book, page 29

Not to say that the Sorcerer Kings don't have a few Defilers in their employ (which, yeah, was an oversight in my previous post), just that the Templars themselves are not.

They have changed between editions. Templars are no longer cleric-types, but use the Warlock class, which means they are Arcane.

nightwyrm
2010-09-03, 04:40 PM
Unless things have changed between editions, I'm pretty sure that Templars do not use defiling magic.

"The use of priestly magic never adversely affects the ecosystem in and of itself." -- Dark Sun Rules Book, page 29

Not to say that the Sorcerer Kings don't have a few Defilers in their employ (which, yeah, was an oversight in my previous post), just that the Templars themselves are not.

Templars are no longer a class by themselves. They're a theme that you attach onto your class. So you could be a warlock, or a shaman, a psion, or a fighter and you could be a templar.

The closest class to the previous edition templar would be the sorcerer-king pact warlocks, but you don't have to be one to be a templar.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-03, 04:40 PM
Unless things have changed between editions, I'm pretty sure that Templars do not use defiling magic.

"The use of priestly magic never adversely affects the ecosystem in and of itself." -- Dark Sun Rules Book, page 29

Not to say that the Sorcerer Kings don't have a few Defilers in their employ (which, yeah, was an oversight in my previous post), just that the Templars themselves are not.

The Templar character theme is an Arcane Leader, and at least one of its paragon paths relates directly to defiling, the Master Defiler.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-03, 05:31 PM
Also, Clerics no longer exist.

EDIT:

Your question and smilies imply that it should be self-evident that I shouldn't think so. Why not?

The whole point of this thread is that the cost seemed too high to me, to the point that it doesn't seem worth it to EVER deal that much damage to your own party for the minor bonus that is granted by defiling.

Kurgan
2010-09-03, 05:53 PM
Well then, I was very, very wrong about Templars, or at least how they have changed over the years. Sorry bout that. :smallbiggrin:

Still, probably easiest solution to the op would be to change Defilers from actively harming their allies to actively harming the environment like in the days of old. True, it means that there is technically no downside to defiling from a mechanics standpoint, but from a social one, destroying all plant life and sapping life from the soil makes you very unpopular, which was what I was trying to say earlier.

"Templars are no longer a class by themselves. They're a theme that you attach onto your class. So you could be a warlock, or a shaman, a psion, or a fighter and you could be a templar."

Not going to lie, this sounds really cool. I guess I'm going to have to look into some of the new stuff.

Esser-Z
2010-09-03, 05:58 PM
Also, Clerics no longer exist.
The whole point of this thread is that the cost seemed too high to me, to the point that it doesn't seem worth it to EVER deal that much damage to your own party for the minor bonus that is granted by defiling.
I dunno. If the party's in, say, Consecrated Ground, or has one of those gratuitous amounts of (surgeless) healing builds...

Shatteredtower
2010-09-03, 06:40 PM
Many fans of Dark Sun consider that to be the point. Want fairness and balance? Play another setting. Don't get your goody two shoed everyone is equal on my Dark Sun.

You can have my Dark Sun when you pry it out of my sunbaked, dead hands. :smalltongue:

Seriously, the only thing broken about the spell-casting system for 2nd Edition Dark Sun was in how weak it was and how much trouble it was to determine the environmental impact of a defiler's efforts. (What's being asked for here has nothing to do with the original defiler design.) It was a long time before the wizards, even the ones with a faster rate of level advancement, could hope to equal the powers of a psionicist...or a half-giant dart thrower.

Well, that is, right up until the revised rules that rendered most telepathic (and some metapsionic) powers completely useless, especially for use against other psionicists. But that was right about the point the whole path dexter/path sinister nonsense came in, with half the schools of magic unavailable to each.

4e only sets a guideline, giving you a good feel for what a party can reasonably handle. That's what the rules set should do. If you want to take it from standard to eviscerating settings, there's no more stopping you than there was then, but the original setting showed just how poorly play-tested huge swaths of it were. A quick look through the setting's psionic monsters demonstrated that pretty quickly.

Returning to the discussion of arcane defiling itself, descriptive text says that the power is addictive. People complain that there's no mechanical effect for that. I see two problems with that argument.

The first is alcohol, an addictive substance that is consumed by PCs in many games (and one that can be safely mentioned on these boards). Who ultimately decides whether or not the PC becomes addicted to the drink? Is it the DM, the dice, or the player?

For best results, it should be the player. So should it be with the decision to use arcane defiling. The defiling feats indicate how much of an impact it's had.

As for no mechanical effect, one extra roll (meaning you don't get to--or have to--reroll every single attack roll for one attack) means you've got a chance of improving your odds. It also means that all those arcane defiling feats that affect targets of the attack affect them even if they were not the specific target of the rerolled attack roll. The feat that gives you a bonus on critical range? It applies even to 19s rolled for targets other than the one that netted the reroll.

It was mentioned that Armor of Agathys doesn't call for an attack roll. Is there any way a party could capitalize on having a warlock able to reroll the damage on it once? With the right feat and readied actions, it shouldn't be that hard for creative players.

How is defiling mechanically quicker? An extra chance to do damage (or increase it), with additional boosts available for making the attempt, means some encounters will end more quickly. There is a chance for them to take longer if the party conducts itself poorly, but it's a slim chance. Faster completion means less injury, which can also allow a group to push further every so often... or avoid having to run. In short, it's a small edge that can help a party gain experience slightly faster than the norm. "Faster" doesn't need to be measured in full-integer multiples to be useful, let alone an accurate descriptor. It's unlikely that you'll lap a level over a devoted preserver, but advancing a day or two earlier means something when the plot is measured on a clock.

How is it easier? By itself, it's slightly less useful than elven accuracy, but certain choices and circumstances start shifting that balance when it becomes possible to use two or more defiled spells in an encounter. By then, the party should look into sources of temporary hit points.

As for the mechanical drawback, a perfectly average 1st level wizard (10 Con and 20 hp) loses 2 hp, increasing to 3 at 2nd level and 4 at 4th. A 1st level battlemind with 20 Con and the Toughness feat takes 5 hp of damage, and 7 at 4th--assuming he boosted Con at 4th level. By 30th level, that battlemind is taking a whopping 26 hp of damage from the process, but we're talking about a character who actually heals better on an unassisted healing surge than with a potion fruit of recovery.

Should defiling make better characters? No. That would only steer any player with even the least regard for optimization to either pick a druid or other primal character, a psion or other psionic character, or a defiler. There'd be no mechanical reason to play a preserver, which makes arguments for pumping up the defiler powers come across as a bit odd. A useful option is condemned as useless fluff, and proposed solutions are about boosting the defiler up in ways that cripple the preserver in comparison--so that the
only reason ever to play that class is for "the fluff".

If you absolutely have to have some extra freebie with your arcane defiling option, making it this: let the player choose between the original roll and the reroll for final result. I don't think it's necessary, but it does give you more options for using this power, ones not offered by elven accuracy.

Also, be very careful about tying rituals to arcane defiling. Other PCs will find some excuse to be just far enough away to avoid harm to allies, negating the price demanded of the power. Maybe tie it to a feat that adds a +1 feat bonus to the ritual skill check for each ally that sacrifices a healing surge, to a maximum of +5.

Here's another idea: let the player regain one arcane daily spell per tier each day after a short rest, at the cost of one healing surge from every other member of his party. I think that's also excessive, but your group will decide what's best for them. If none of your players opt for preserver after that, that probably indicates that the option is too generous.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-03, 06:57 PM
It was mentioned that Armor of Agathys doesn't call for an attack roll. Is there any way a party could capitalize on having a warlock able to reroll the damage on it once?
No, I think there isn't. Rerolling damage is really pointless because you'll pretty much always end up doing more damage to your party than you boost your damage to the enemies (even aside from the fact that monsters have much more HP than PCs do). AoA deals 1d6+mods, so you can defile to turn a 1 into a 6... not exactly a good deal.

What this thread needs is more concrete examples. If someone claims that "many" arcane spells will win the encounter if you turn one miss into a hit, I'd like to know which spells these are. If someone mentions that "somehow" the party can capitalize on rerolling AoA damage, then I'd like to hear how they're planning on doing that.

Urpriest
2010-09-03, 07:00 PM
Wait a minute, an idea just sprang to me. I haven't read the 4e Dark Sun rules, so someone should clarify this, but the following seem relevant:

1. There are (apparently, as mentioned on this thread) rules that make day-to-day acquisition of food and water a legitimate and life-threatening challenge.

2. Defilers' fluff says they kill off nearby plants, dry up water, etc.

3. ???

4. Profit.

In a slightly less memetic phrasing, why not penalize defilers by making it harder for their party to gather food to survive? Nobody will care about it in combat, making defiling a powerful combat option. It will be a **** move in campaign play, so people will still prefer to preserve. It will actually do what it's fluffed to do.

Would this work?

Shatteredtower
2010-09-03, 10:23 PM
No, I think there isn't.

If the ability existed in isolation, you might be correct. However, when you combine it with the Theft of Courage feat to penalize all defenses on something that's been a little hard to hit, that little boost is worth that tiny cost.

Don't fixate on the damage. Focus on what you can do to make the target more vulnerable to other attacks...and the fact that your die roll was irrelevant to this result.


What this thread needs is more concrete examples.

I gave you one when I referred to the feat that increases the critical threat range. You say the odds of scoring a critical hit are too low, but when you already know you rolled the 19 (or 18) and you're getting 3d6 or more extra hit points out of the damage, fire away, even if it means you have to reroll against one other target you hit that turn.


If someone claims that "many" arcane spells will win the encounter if you turn one miss into a hit, I'd like to know which spells these are.

My argument has been that the opportunity to do more damage (or create longer lasting status effects) increases the odds of ending a fight faster. Do you dispute this?


If someone mentions that "somehow" the party can capitalize on rerolling AoA damage, then I'd like to hear how they're planning on doing that.

Well, let's take a 1st level wizard spell as an example: freezing cloud.

Yes, you only get to reroll one die of damage (plus modifier) even though it can hit the target several times. Is it worth rerolling a 1, possibly a 2, at the cost of a few hit points to your allies? Not usually, no. When you've got the Theft of Courage feat, however, it's well worth it, because the penalty that causes will also apply to any target that moves (voluntarily or not) into the area of the spell. Most of the time, of course, you're better off to try to hit one more target, but when you know you'll get a second attack roll against creatures in the area anyway, you may as well see where the damage roll will get you first. Follow it up with an action point and a force orb, if you'd like. Maybe you can back that up with arcane defiling as well if you've got a benefit that lets you combine this with encounter powers. Potion fruits are going to be a must for this sort of combination.

I just realized that one of the paragon feats lets a monk use arcane defiling with daily powers. Lacking a list right now, I can't tell you what could benefit from that, but there have to be a few decent tricks. Combine it with the templar theme and praetor legate if you use the fixed enhancement bonus rules for a few more arcane powers, and consider one of the two dailies the templar offers.

The templar theme works quite well with arcane defiling, especially the glare of oppression.

...Wait a second. Is your problem with the arcane defiling power the fact that it's an option that won't always be used, or that it's one that can't always be used? If it's the former, then your complaining that there's no drawback to getting a satisfactory attack or damage roll the first time. If it's the latter, then it has to be pointed out that unlimited use of the power would let a defiler bloody the entire party within four rounds, two with the assistance of an action point and a warlord. Limiting it to dailies (with a couple of ways to get in one or two additional powers) keeps the party's injuries manageable.

And I'm still in favour of it being harmful to the party. Increasing your chances to place a condition on a particularly dangerous opponent can be worth a few scratches. Dazing a foe with one of the cosmic sorcerer's 1st level spell (cosmos call, I think) lets your teammates flank it easily as well as granting combat advantage, which also stacks nicely with the penalty caused by Theft of Courage.


In a slightly less memetic phrasing, why not penalize defilers by making it harder for their party to gather food to survive?

Probably not. Foraging for food is likely to take place in a much larger amount of space than that covered by a defiling effect. It might work if the party can't move about easily, though.

Tiki Snakes
2010-09-04, 01:24 AM
Probably not. Foraging for food is likely to take place in a much larger amount of space than that covered by a defiling effect. It might work if the party can't move about easily, though.

What about the food that the defiler and his friends are already carrying? :smallcool:

oxybe
2010-09-04, 03:28 AM
Wait a minute, an idea just sprang to me. I haven't read the 4e Dark Sun rules, so someone should clarify this, but the following seem relevant:

1. There are (apparently, as mentioned on this thread) rules that make day-to-day acquisition of food and water a legitimate and life-threatening challenge.

2. Defilers' fluff says they kill off nearby plants, dry up water, etc.

3. ???

4. Profit.

In a slightly less memetic phrasing, why not penalize defilers by making it harder for their party to gather food to survive? Nobody will care about it in combat, making defiling a powerful combat option. It will be a **** move in campaign play, so people will still prefer to preserve. It will actually do what it's fluffed to do.

Would this work?

there are "survival days", shorthand for all the miscellaneous stuff you'd need to protect yourself for a day's worth of travel (food, water, sunblock, etc...). while you can technically survive with a high nature check many terrains of athas boots the difficulty.

characters who end up unsupplied for travel can find themselves subject to Sun Sickness, a 3 step disease track that initially: removes a surge until cured > penalty to attack rolls + defenses > dead. every day the disease makes a roll VS you to see if you lose a surge. resting during the day grants you a bonus to your fort defense to resist the sunstroke.

traveling in the cold of night forces an endurance check or lose one surge.

there is also a skill challenge (8 successes before 3 failures) for generic "surviving the desert". failure entails the loss of healing surges that you can't get back until you either find supplies or a safe resting place.

after every 2-4 checks, there is a small list of possible "events" that could happen, like extreme heat, silt storms, mirages & treacherous terrain that ALL pcs must roll against. if half or more fail, they fail the event and though it doesn't count towards the 3 failures, but it imposes a penalty on the party (loss of a surge, penalty to checks until the next "event", etc...)

it should be noted that multiple failures stack, so a week's worth of trying to survive can potentially affect the PCs in a pretty bad way. even if you succeed every challenge, you can still find yourselves lacking several surges or weakened due to sun sickness.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-04, 04:04 AM
Well, let's take a 1st level wizard spell as an example: freezing cloud.
...
When you've got the Theft of Courage feat, however, it's well worth it, because the penalty that causes will also apply to any target that moves
That doesn't work. TOC explicitly only works on creatures hit by the spell. Walking into a zone (or starting in an Armor of Agathys aura) is not considered a "hit".

The trick with Defiling Adept works, but that is a paragon feat. Most campaigns take place at, or at least spend a lot of time in, heroic tier.



...Wait a second. Is your problem with the arcane defiling power the fact that it's an option that won't always be used, or that it's one that can't always be used?
The problem is that tactically speaking, the drawback is much greater than the benefit, so the choice on whether or not to use it is nearly always going to be an obvious "no". Most of the feats that boost this don't compare well to other feats, either.

Talakeal
2010-09-04, 04:07 AM
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. :smallamused:

Meesa find yousa lack of faith distoibing!

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-04, 08:23 AM
Honestly, I'm more concerned with the fact that defiling doesn't seem like the dangerously attractive alternative (compared to preserving) that it's supposed to be. It actually comes across as being dangerously stupid. Let's not forget that the more people you have in your party, the greater the cost for using arcane defiling for the same un-exciting benefits.



If you'll allow me to change the direction of the thread slightly, let me ask this: if we were going to design our own version of what defiling should be in 4th Edition Dark Sun, what would we want it to look like?

IMO, the most important thing would be to make the choice to defile feel like how it is presented in the fluff. I.e., there should be a clear advantage power-wise. Of course, then there has to be some drawbacks which balances it, but it shouldn't grossly outweigh the advantages like it does in the current system.

If, at the end of the day, defiling is tempting enough to attract most of the more unscrupulous spellcasters, then we can leave preserving unmodified and it will still be the long and difficult road for those who wish to take the "right way" that it is supposed to be.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-04, 09:22 AM
That doesn't work. TOC explicitly only works on creatures hit by the spell.
You're right. Considering how that's at odds with the ability, that should have been given more flexibility. Ah, well... shoulda isn't and all that. Still, the heroic feat does increase target softening for all allies against all defenses on those it does hit.


The problem is that tactically speaking, the drawback is much greater than the benefit

Not even remotely true. The heroic tier damage is trivial for an extra chance of success. The feats hold their own just fine. As Fischer said,"You gotta give squares to get squares."

Leolo
2010-09-04, 09:42 AM
I would also think about the range of defiling. 20sq sounds like this would always affect your allies but as wizards can have a movement rate of 20 and many long range spells this is at least an obstacle that could be overcome.

And dark sun might have more outdoor encounters than other settings.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-04, 09:56 AM
I would also think about the range of defiling. 20sq sounds like this would always affect your allies but as wizards can have a movement rate of 20 and many long range spells this is at least an obstacle that could be overcome.
I would like to hear how you expect a wizard (or indeed, anyone) to gain a movement rate of 20.

Furthermore, I would like to hear what these "many long range spells" are; I don't recall any wizard spells going further than 20 squares, and the majority of them are limited to 10 squares; whereas a simple archer can easily shoot 40.

Leolo
2010-09-04, 10:20 AM
20 is not that easy, but possible with phantom steed. I think you could reach enough speed with normal steeds, too. But i never seen anything faster than a phantom steed. You could also use arcane gate or simple wait a few rounds until you have reached your position.

Regarding long range powers. Even range 10 is sufficient because your allies could be on the other side of the opponent. But there are ways to increase the reach of your spells like far spell. I do not know how often these things would protect your allies but a reroll without cost sounds tempting enough to try it.

At least blaster wizards might already use this tactic and stay away from melee combat as often as possible. But it is a good tactic anyway.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-04, 10:25 AM
20 is not that easy, but possible with phantom steed.
Assuming you can reliably make a DC 40 arcana check.

At any rate, staying 20 squares away from your allies with the enemies in between strikes me as a great way for getting your character killed. If you want rerolls that badly, I'd suggest playing an elf.

Urpriest
2010-09-04, 10:32 AM
Designwise, I think the best direction for something like defiling (seductive evil power with a cost) is to make it a good TO choice, but a bad PO one. There's evil, tempting stuff you could do to become quite powerful, but there are solid reasons why you wouldn't do so if you've got a network of real-life social consequences to worry about.

Leolo
2010-09-04, 10:54 AM
@kurald: it is something for higher levels, obviously. (Although you might have some defense against ranged attacks like blur earlier.) Some characters will have their flying mounts earlier than others, but most reach this at paragon level. And this is true for other options that increase your mobility more, too. I would say that there will be situations when defiling is useful and you do not risk much from your allies. But you will have to specialize on this to make this situations more frequent. But this was not my point. The point was that a calculation of the power of this option should include tactical use of this. Even if you do not increase your range or mobility there will be situations where only some or none of your allies are within 20sq.

Mark Hall
2010-09-04, 11:08 AM
Meesa find yousa lack of faith distoibing!

That is simply horrible. :smallsmile:

That said, defiling, as written, seems like the option that Arcane Solos toss out when their minions are dead. Heck, I think Defiling would make a lot more sense if you removed the "which cannot be reduced by any means" bit. What's the point in making it necrotic damage if necrotic resistances and immunities don't play into it? If you make it reducible by necrotic resistances, you've got several things:

1) Defilers will use a lot of necrotic-resistant minions. Yay, evil necromancers!
2) Parties will invest in necrotic resistances if their buddy is defiling. Yay, useful quests for useful items!
3) People looking for necrotic resistances become suspect. Yay, paranoia!

darkpuppy
2010-09-04, 01:53 PM
Interestingly, nobody so far has mentioned how 3.XE handled things, which is odd, because it made a heckuva lot more sense than either 2E or what I'm hearing about 4E. Defiler Wizards had the spell-track of Wizards, Preserver Wizards had the spell track of Sorcerors... The preserver got penalised for being a nice guy, while the defiler got penalised in an entirely different way (every time he casts a spell, he destroys the land around him, and adversely affects the survivability of his team mates, himself, and anyone living in the area if he incessantly casts spells.)

So, in essence, 3E Preservers could cast whenever they wanted without adverse effect, whereas Defilers, while having more options, raped themselves and others (primarily others, it must be said) by casting spells. Especially since defiling radii stacked if you cast from the same defiled area.

EDIT: Of course, this doesn't handle the "anyone can defile" idea behind DS... but it did a better job, imho.

Oracle_Hunter
2010-09-04, 01:54 PM
Concrete examples, eh?

Well, I can't think of any which are "OMG Win!" but there are a couple of Dailies that you'd really like to hit.
- Sleep (Wiz 1) : hitting with Sleep sets up one of the few SoD situations in D&D4.

- Glitterdust (Wiz 5) : Blind is a very powerful effect and, at LV 5, one you don't see very often.

- Face of Death (Wiz 9) : a fine lock-down spell, with potentiality for SoD

- Taunting Phantasms (Wiz 9) : some baddies have nasty BMA's; it might be worth some HP to have it connect.

- Blinding Bolt (Sorc 1) : A first-level Blind that also nerfs its ability to attack long-ranged targets? Nice.
Just a few I pulled off the top of my head. Rerolls (to hit) are just nice to have; getting a second shot with a 1/day power can be very attractive sometimes.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-04, 10:08 PM
What's the point in making it necrotic damage if necrotic resistances and immunities don't play into it?

I'm guessing so anybody who is vulnerable to necrotic damage will still take the extra damage.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-04, 10:55 PM
That said, defiling, as written, seems like the option that Arcane Solos toss out when their minions are dead.
It won't affect minions, thanks to the rules for rounding down.


What's the point in making it necrotic damage if necrotic resistances and immunities don't play into it?

Necrotic vulnerability.

I also see new feats and powers triggered by necrotic damage becoming popular.

Reluctance
2010-09-04, 11:37 PM
If, at the end of the day, defiling is tempting enough to attract most of the more unscrupulous spellcasters, then we can leave preserving unmodified and it will still be the long and difficult road for those who wish to take the "right way" that it is supposed to be.

The way 2e handled it, defiling didn't really hurt people until you got to the highest levels, it just wasted the environment. So the simplest way to make it look like a left-hand path would be to check the CharOp handbooks, make note of the gold and sky blue powers, and say that they all lay waste to the environment within power level squares of you. Depending on how mean you want to be, you can have this apply to all powers or just dailies, as this does tread a bit into punishing the good guys territory.

Rituals would be much easier. Wasting the environment within ritual level squares would reduce the casting time to 10%. All creatures within that radius lose a surge, and every sentient creature hit with this counts as a successful Aid Another roll. (Keeping in mind that this does count against the limit of 4 assistants tops.) It's pleasantly nasty enough for the unscrupulous, it doesn't practically hit the scrupulous too hard, and it actually does reflect the original feel.

Lhurgyof
2010-09-05, 12:08 AM
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?

It's basically giving up fluff for balance. Defiling isn't even supposed to hurt people at all, only DRAGONS can draw arcane energy from living beings.

Now, it's supposed to be MUCH more powerful (depending on how lush the terrain is your spells become more potent- before 4e you defile from plant life) and have little drawbacks, except that it's a slippery slope to more and more corruption. Like Star Wars. You COULD go Dark Side and get all the best powers, but it also means never going back to good, more of a roleplaying decision of what your character wants.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-05, 01:46 PM
Wasting the environment within ritual level squares would reduce the casting time to 10%. All creatures within that radius lose a surge, and every sentient creature hit with this counts as a successful Aid Another roll. (Keeping in mind that this does count against the limit of 4 assistants tops.)

The latter option would be fine by itself.

Arcane defiling isn't weak. The rule as written is good for putting an option in player hands where there are times it can be a poor choice. The result is better than always making it a good choice, which would then make preserving always a bad choice. If you want to get the most out of it, focus on spells that include better condition effects when they hit.

A Veiled Alliance rogue with Sequestering Veil can have a lot of fun with the master defiler paragon path. The path features are right up the rogue's alley, even though two of the spells are worthless to the character.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-05, 05:00 PM
Isn't defiling basically the antithesis of what the Veiled Alliance stands for? Besides, defiling CAN'T be concealed. Even if you claim it's psionic or primal, the death of the surrounding plant life always gives it away.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-05, 07:50 PM
Isn't defiling basically the antithesis of what the Veiled Alliance stands for?

That's correct. Nevertheless, the Prism Pentad gave us Sadira, who wasn't above defiling when it gave her an edge. The 2nd Ed. Veiled Alliance source book gave us myrmeleons, individuals (often defilers) that managed to infiltrate VA cells.


Besides, defiling CAN'T be concealed.

That's why a defilers needs to learn restraint and other forms of deception. You could even pull it of in 2e, when all spellcasting gave you away without the right tools to hide it.

KillianHawkeye
2010-09-06, 03:43 PM
Okay, thanks to everyone's input I think I've come to a descision. I'm going to leave preserving alone. I'm also going to remove the friendly fire aspect of the arcane defiling power so that the downsides of defiling are purely RP-based. I may also have to change the Master Defiler's offensive defiling feature to something else, but the rest of the PP can stay the same as far as I can see.

I think this solution will work for my games. Thanks again for your input!

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-09-06, 07:53 PM
You're welcome! Hope it goes well, and make sure your PCs have lots of sunscreen! :smallcool: