Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rules, Rules, Rules

As mentioned in the previous post about changes to Magic Missile (here) Wizards has recently introduced a new set of errata, corrections, and tweaks. Scott pointed out that his Tumble power has been adjusted in a way that definitely provides a benefit to him. I am sure there are others, so if you are printing out an updated version of your character file it might be a good idea to read it over closely. As the DM I don't care which version of the Magic Missile Jenneth chooses to use for the next 2-3 weeks, but once the characters reach 5th level everyone will be issued updated character sheets then regardless.

We had several rules issues come up this past Sunday that I wanted to spend some time addressing.

1) There was a spirited discussion about how to utilize an Action Point as a free action over the course of a players turn. Here is what happened - A Hobgoblin Warcaster managed to use a Force Pulse to knock prone several of the adventurers and then made its exit down a side hallway. Bogar struggled to his feet (one move action), ran around the corner after the Warcaster (taking a second move action instead of a standard action), and then used his AP with the intention of taking a swing at an opponent. The problem was that since he had gone around the corner he couldn't see Krstic anymore and as such could not get the +6 HP benefit of one of Krstic's abilities.

After some discussion, Bogar did the following instead - He stood up (one move action), used his AP to run around the corner and get the +6 HP benefit from Krstic (single AP action), and then still had his initial Standard Action available to him to use to take a swing at the opponent.

The DM initially denied the move, but after some digging through the Players Handbook it was successfully argued that the move was indeed completely legal. Unsavory possibly, maybe some sort of "but-it's-legal" sort of rules gerrymandering at its worst, but technically legal. Regardless, a clever play that worked to Bogar's benefit.

2) Eldred cast a Bless, a Burst 20 spell that gave every ally in the burst zone a +1 bonus to-hit for the remainder of the encounter. The problem was he could really only see two, maybe three, members of the party. One or two of the members were out of his view, but withing hearing distance around a corner ahead of him, and three party members had run off in a completely different direction. However, as it was, all fell within 20 clicks of Eldred's location, and actually all party members fell within a 10 click range.

The DM ruled that even though several members of the party were not in line-of-sight (or even hearing) the Bless would indeed cover everyone for this encounter, although he would ask Mark to investigate further and report back to as if there was any further clarification on this.

3) Oester has the ability to power up his sword to do some specific type of damage and possibly some ongoing damage. The problem is that the item description kind of ends there. The DM and Scott agreed to a ruling for the course of this encounter, and, like the previous discussion point, Scott will look to determine a further clarification.

4) This really didn't come up at the time, but as I lay in bed and thought about it later it kind of bugged me. I allowed Jenneth to re-target her Scorching Burst in such a way that she could possibly hit the final remaining minion hiding behind the column on the far side of the temple. There were a lot of hobgoblins scurrying up and down the stairs in that corner over those past few turns, and I know Jenneth was a late arrival to the room as she had been stuck up the hallway behind Krstic and Bogar up until that point.

I also know I had lost track of when the minion actually went into hiding versus when Jenneth actually entered the room so I let it go at the time. But I also know I had made a joke about the brave minion cowering behind the pillar as its action when it was its turn right before this occurred. And yes, it was getting late in the evening as well.

However, in retrospect I probably should have disallowed the re-targeting, although this certainly was not the situation that was worth making a stand over. As the novice DM I am taking this as my "learning opportunity" to remember to push back sometimes if I am concerned that "player knowledge" and "character knowledge" are starting to overlap somehow.


  1. I did some searching on the DDI website, and couldn't find anything that said one way or the other whether you need line of effect for Bless, so I posted a query in the 4E Rules Q&A forum (under Leo's name). We'll see if we get any help from the masses.

  2. Actually, Jenneth has a fairly consistent record
    of casting the scorching burst exactly as she did in this case. The most recent case was
    the flying zombies, where she cast at the most distant square she could see with no visible enemies. (She wasn't going to double move
    since that would outrun the fighter, so she had a standard action for free, and she used it.)

    Likewise she hit unseen hobgoblins and unseen zombies in KOTS. She hits as many visible targets as she can, but if she can hit hidden squares without reducing the number of visible enemies, she does.

  3. Just so we are clear on this, item #4 was a self-criticism concerning my novice DM'ing abilities.

    My argument here would have been that casting a flaming burst into the darkness ahead when a stream of opponents are attacking from that direction is not the same as targeting the last opponent in play, especially when that last opponent is making a break for the door.

    Dropping the burst right on top of the opponent was the characters first reaction, and given the circumstances was perfectly logical. Maybe not optimal, but that's OK. If nothing else, shooting behind a moving target would at least be considered bad marksmanship.

    As I admitted above, I was the one who lost track of when the "real" last opponent had started hiding, so when the target of the burst was adjusted I let it go. I was also the one who made the joke about the so-called bravery of the hiding opponent, so if nothing else I was the one who jogged everyone's memory as to it's location. It's all part of the learning process and something I need to do a better job with in the future.

  4. Follow-up on the question of whether Eldred's Bless should have affected characters around corners or in other rooms. According to p. 272 of the PHB, "A burst affects a target only if there is line of effect from the burst’s origin square to the target."

    So according to the rules, deities' powers are blocked by things like corners and wooden doors. Good to know.