At 16th level, this is the furthest along that we’ve taken any 4th Edition D&D campaign. We’re playing The War of the Burning Sky, with occasional breaks for one-shots, the D&D Playtest, and other distractions.

There are many things that I admire in 4th edition, but the increased complexity as you gain in levels isn’t one of them. Here is an example from our latest session.

The Setup

We’ve been investigating a castle where we have (so far) encountered nothing but undead and tentacled horrors. So it came as a surprise to us that we came upon a locked door with the sounds of a civilized party beyond it. We knew that it couldn’t be what it appeared to be, but our Perception check left us no wiser.

We broke down the door.

Inside was a royal court. A dozen ghouls feasted upon dead flesh, dressed in varying states of ancient and decaying finery. On the throne “stood” and amorphous shaped ooze that seemed intelligent and spoke to us as a man. Beside him was another ghoul but with a lute, who was passionately inspiring the partygoers’ revels.

Inevitably, we fought.

I’m playing a 16th level Tiefling Wild Mage (wild magic sorcerer). By the third round I am nearly bloodied, virtually surrounded, immobilized (save ends), and I have Torrent of Power up and running (roll the highest result on a damage die, keep the result and roll the die again).

The Character Builder’s character sheet.
My homemade character sheet.

The 3rd Round

I’m in a 3-square-wide corridor and surrounded by five creatures, the party warlord (an ally), three ghoul nobles, and the ghoul bard. I decided that I need some space, so I decide to blow a daily and cast Howling Hurricane centered upon myself.

First, I need some extra muscle. I take a minor action to activate Diabolic Transformation:

Diabolic Transformation, Feat Power

You roar with fury as the hellish blood that flows through your veins reveals its true power. In the blink of an eye, you transform into a brutish fiend.
Daily * Polymorph
Minor Action * Personal
Effect: You transform into a diabolic brute until the end of the encounter. While you are in this form, you gain regeneration 2, you increase fire resistance by 5, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls, and the attack bonus to attack rolls granted by your Bloodhunt racial trait increases to +2.
11th level: Regeneration 4.
21st level: Regeneration 6.
Special: Once during this encounter while you are in this form, you can use the black wrath of hell power.

On my standard action, I announce that I am using an area attack. The four adjacent enemies take opportunity attacks against me. I have Battle Caster Defense for situations like this, but one manages to hit my temporary AC of 28—not surprising! I am now bloodied and really looking forward to that regeneration.

Now I get to use my attack:

Howling Hurricane, Sorcerer Attack 9

The cries of the wind compete with the sound of thunder as you bring forth a screaming vortex that spins your foes about.
Daily * Arcane Implement, Thunder, Zone
Standard Action * Area burst 1 within 10 sq
Target: Each creature in burst
Attack: +19 vs Fortitude
Hit: 3d8 + 17 thunder damage and you slide the target 3 squares.
Effect: The burst creates a zone of swirling wind that lasts until the end of the your next turn. You slide each creature that starts its turn within the zone 2 square. As a move action, you can move the zone 6 squares)
Sustain Minor: The zone persists.

I have three modifying feats/feature running right now. Diabolic Transformation says that I get to add +2 to my damage on top of what was already calculated on the power. One of the ghouls is bloodied, so I get to use my enhanced Blood Hunt bonus to hit him.

I also have these two feats to remember:

Lucky Shot: When you use a daily sorcerer attack power, or a daily sorcerer paragon path attack power, for one attack roll choose even numbers or odd numbers. If the result of the d20 roll matches the type of number selected, you gain a feat bonus to the damage roll against the target equal to your Cha mod for this attack.
War Wizardry: Your arcane spells take a −5 penalty on attack rolls against allies, and deal only half of their normal damage to allies.

Got all that?

I center the burst on myself and make 6 attack rolls, hitting all targets except one ghoul noble, for whom I roll a natural 1—a fumble! The first attack roll was even, so my Chaos Burst temporarily grants +1 AC. I chose to invoke Wild Surge over Unfettered Power for the fumble and rolled a d6. My result is 1 so I miss and teleport (my target and I trade places). I’ve mis-called Lucky Shot every time ( no bonus damage there) and War Wizardry isn’t enough to prevent hitting my ally.

Roll damage: 3d8 +19 (33). My ally, the warlord, takes half. I take full damage but so do two ghoul nobles and the ghoul bard. The bard had previously managed to scare off our barbarian, who has been running away from the battle since round 1! It’s time for payback—I trigger Black Wrath of Hell on him:

Black Wrath of Hell, Feat Power

You burn through the very essence of your own soul to lend terrifying power to your attack.
Free Action * Personal
Trigger: You hit an enemy with an attack.
Effect: The attack deals 1d10 extra damage and the target takes a penalty to attack rolls against you equal to your Cha mod (save ends).
The bonus damage increases to 2d10 at 11th level and 3d10 at 21st level.

I deal another 8 damage to the bard and he won’t be bothering me for a little while now. 😀

Now I must slide all 5 hit targets 3 squares each. The DM has house-ruled that forced movement triggers opportunity attacks, so two of the ghouls, the warlord and myself are targeted by basic attacks. More die rolls ensue.

I still have a move action and, given my low hit points, I’ld be within my rights to trigger Chaotic Defense or Dragon’s Resolve. Still, I know that the warlord hasn’t used any of his excellent healing yet and I trust to my team-mate. It’s time to end the turn.

I make a save to end the immobilized condition and fail. These ghouls are about to, literally, eat me for lunch.

Does that sound like a lot to you? I’m half-afraid to tally up all the dice tolled and the modifiers/options that I had to track while planning & executing my turn. The series of triggered actions rivals my most furious Magic: The Gathering days of yore. In a previous round, the Warlord had taken a hit meant for me (and we swapped locations) so you can’t forget that there are now many options that your allies have to pile on to further complicate the resolution of two actions.

It gets worse at higher levels, I’m told. I’m not sure how I’ll manage it all. I know that I miss stuff all the time as it is. Meanwhile, I keep tinkering with my home-made character sheet and a few 3×5 cards that I keep out for tracking options and effects.

How do you keep track of it all?


~ by Hunter Rose on August 18, 2012.

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