Friday, June 06, 2008

*BAMPF* Eladrin in Your Face!

The guys over at Critical Hits have sat down and with their 4e PHBs and reviewed the races there in, roundtable style:

joshx0rfz: Level 6 utility spell for wizard - dimension door 10 squares - DAILY.

Eladrin racial ability - feystep for 5 squares - ENCOUNTER - if you look at the teleportation rules (286) it becomes even more ridiculous. My verdict is broken.

Bartoneus: I wouldn’t go as far to say broken with Feystep, I’d just say really good. I think it opens up a lot of interesting options in any given combat, but doesn’t make other players feel like they suck in comparison but can do other pretty cool things that the Eladrin can’t.

TheMainEvent: Eladrin rogues may not have the stat synergy of Halfling rogues, but their teleport translates into combat advantage and sneak attacks. I guess the main reason I did not give them higher marks is that the teleport seems a bit redundant for a melee based Warlord that specializes in making people move around.

joshx0rfz: I look at the Eladrin ability and immediately compared it to the dimension door ability. This is a level 1 racial ability that can be used per encounter compared to a daily use with a better range. I see great ways to abuse the feystep ability.

Honestly, the more I read, the more I wonder why anyone will play anything other than Eladrin. That per-encounter teleport ability allows your eladrin character to go all Visa card on the battlemat: he's everywhere he wants to be. Ok, so it might not be a big deal for wizards, who might be able to reach out and touch you even if you're all the way across the room, but for defenders who need to get between the baddies and their friends, and especially for strikers who really shine when they can get past defending screens of skirmishers to wreak havoc in the backfield, a five-square teleport looks hard to beat. Combine it with ranger or warlord movement goodies and it could get really sick.

UPDATE: the Critical Hits folks delve deeper into classes, stats, and other mechanical player-creation issues, and dig up some interesting issues:

Shakespear: I tried to create a sample Paladin last night, and I found something that is a big negative. If you want to do a Cha based Paladin, first off, there is no race that gets Cha and Wis bonuses (for that matter, there is no race that gets Wis and Str either). Secondly, Cha and Wis are from the same defense trait, so if you go Cha and Wis as your two main stats, you’ll only have 1 good defense instead of 2. I consider this to be a major negative for both the Paladin and Cleric classes and I suspect this means that “style” of character will see little to no play time. I don’t see this flaw in any of the other characters, and I have to wonder why it was put in. As this flaw is inherent in either healing path, perhaps they thought they needed to make the healers a little more squishy?

Bartoneus: Am I the only one who doesn’t consider race based on stat bonuses and how they relate to the classes?

Shakespear: It’s one of the first things I consider. It’s not a make or break thing, but I’m not going to play a Dragonborn Wizard because they just aren’t designed for it, and ultimately I’m reducing the effectiveness of my class.


greywulf said...

Yeh. Eldarin's teleport ability jumps out at you as being brokener than a broken thing that's broken.

I tossed a few examples why it's abused in my comments, here, and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it. I know one of my players wants to play and Eldarin, and he plans to make every darned door an encounter, just because.

Max said...

I've just joined a group that's playing 4e, and I'm leaning towards playing one. I'll let you know how it turns out.

*BAMPF* is right on: I always did love Nightcrawler...

trollsmyth said...

Max, let me know how it turns out. I'm thinking that if the Trollwife and I ever find ourselves invited to a 4e game, I'm going to see if she's interested in a brother and sister team of warlord and rogue eladrin. It sounds like a nasty combination, especially against the NPC's backfield.

- Brian

Edsan said...

Not only is it broken and opens up a whole waregouse of mischief in the hands of the wrong player, the whole concept of a teleport-at-will race is insane.

How do you arrest an Eldarin and keep him in jail without keeping the guy unconscious 24/7 or the use of powerful magic?

How do they keep watch on their children?

"Go to you room young man! NOW!"

"Yes pop..."

Eldarin kid goes into his room and *BAMF!* into the backyard. Then proceeds down the street to buy some crack coccaine from the goblin dealer in the shady alley.

I mean, human kids have to at least get out the window and *climb* the tree down into the family's garden...

sirlarkins said...

I'm just not seeing the broken-ness. It's an Encounter ability. So once per encounter you get to do something spiffy and get the drop on your opponents. ::shrug:: I mean, if it was At Will, then yeah, broken as all hell.

trollsmyth said...

But outside of combat, that means you can use it once every five minutes. That means you can teleport across chasms, into locked houses, atop the castle wall, up to high ledges, etc. No home with windows is safe while even a single eladrin is around.

- Brian

sirlarkins said...

Ah, I see--for some reason, I always read "broken" as "broken as it applies to combat". Yeah, outside of a combat context...well, it'll definitely cause many a DM headache, that's for sure.

trollsmyth said...

Yeah, I don't think they're broken in the sense that eladrin will make the other characters feel useless. They're not iron gnomes, for instance.

They might be broken in the sense that if you're not playing a character who fights at a distance from the enemy (archer ranger, warlock, or wizard) there's no good reason not to be eladrin. The most obvious beneficiary of the teleport is, of course, the melee striker. Being able to get right into an enemy's face quickly is probably so good that playing a non-eladrin rogue or two-weapon ranger may be seen as playing a gimped character. The warlord works best when close to the strikers, so if the strikers are teleporting across the board, then the the warlord really needs to as well.

I'm not certain about the cleric, but I think there's little benefit to being close to the others. (However, I think the cleric has defense score issues that may make it rare for us to see the class in actual play. Ditto for the paladin.) Other than drawing line-of-sight and escape, there's no reason for the wizard to bampf across the table, and I believe the warlock gets powers to do that already. If your defender's primary job is to keep the monsters off the the wizard, then there's no need to be eladrin. However, it might be useful if your strikers and warlord frequently bampf in over their heads and need to be rescued. You might be able to kinda mimic that mobility with a dragonborn who gets wings?

Anyway, my point is, while the fey step power won't be making the other character's feel useless, it's so good it might make all your strikers and warlords feel they must be eladrin, and I would deam that a "broken" result. However, I've not played yet, nor dug deeply into the benefits of playing a halfling, which is the other race clearly optimized for striker characters.

- Brian

Adam Weiner said...

I've just started playing 4E - so forgive me if I've missed something - but isn't there an important limit on teleporting in that you need line of sight to wherever you're teleporting to? So their jail cells don't have windows, people tend to pull their curtains or build their windows high, etc.
Yes, you go through obstacles, but not walls, doors, etc.
Also (as I said, just started) though it seems obvious, I can't find anything in the rules about teleporting next to (or even behind) an enemy giving you combat advantage over them - surely it does, but where does it figure in the rules?

trollsmyth said...


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your comments. :)

So their jail cells don't have windows, people tend to pull their curtains or build their windows high, etc.
Yes, you go through obstacles, but not walls, doors, etc.

Yes, but this causes serious headaches for your DM. It invalidates many of the tropes of standard, northern European medieval fantasy. Every castle wall now must be at least 26' high. Anyone who wants to keep eladrin out of their home must live in a windowless bunker. All jail cells must have no windows, and the doors must be solid, with skirts around the frame to keep eladrin from peeking under the door or through the keyhole. (And that probably means some magic to spy on the occupants of the cells, lest the PCs get up to some mischief where the guards can't see them.)

It also means that chasms are easily spanned, heights less than 25' are easily surmounted, and patches of dangerous terrain are instantly bypassed. Any sort of platform-jumping puzzle, or one that requires the PCs to navigate difficult terrain, must be more than 25' across to work. This power negates a surprising number of puzzles in the classic adventure S2: White Plume Mountain for instance.

And yes, you can build your world with eladrin in mind, but it's a pain in the neck. You have to constantly be thinking, "Ok, how can teleporting 25' mess this up?" It's just not a natural consideration for most people to keep in mind.

Also (as I said, just started) though it seems obvious, I can't find anything in the rules about teleporting next to (or even behind) an enemy giving you combat advantage over them - surely it does, but where does it figure in the rules?

I don't have a PHB handy, but most of the rogue special combat abilities, and many of the double-weapon ranger combat powers, require special positioning to use. It's not so much that these characters get a special bonus for teleporting into combat, but rather that it gives them much more freedom to choose their targets. If the evil wizard, for instance, is counting on his orc minions to form a solid barrier between himself and the heroes, a pair of eladrin suddenly bampfing past them to shove lots of sharp and stabby into his face is going to ruin his plans.

There are ways to counter this, of course, and a single eladrin could easily wind up in hot water, too far from the rest of the party and all on their own, facing impossible odds. But a pair of eladrin, a rogue and warlord team, for instance, could combine vicious one-on-one combat ability with endurance that would make them a serious threat. Against such a team, the only way to keep the eladrin from wreaking havoc through the "backfield", where the powerful but fragile leader and artillery monsters tend to hide, is to draw forces away from the front line. This puts the monsters entirely on the defensive, and surrenders tactical initiative to the PCs.

- Brian

Anonymous said...

Why are you complaining about the Eladrin feystep. If you read the description of the Eladrin the PHB, you'll know that that is what make them Eladrin. They exist in the Feywild and in this realm. Limiting an Eladrin to 1 Feystep per day makes them less of an Eladrin. If you are so needing of "balance," then you need to remove Eladrin completely from play or not allow them to be player-characters. Another way to limit an Eladrin is to blindfold or limit their vision. Eladrin need line of sight to teleport.

Anonymous said...

getting back to the jail thing... yes, a blindfold would work. but if they feystep, wouldn't they take their bindings with them unless the bindings are attached to a wall, floor, etc? if you bind an eladrin's hands and feet together with rope, wouldn't the rope bampf too?

Anonymous said...

Teleport, at least eladrin teleport, doesn't work that way in our world.

I don't want to have to redesign every bit of every door everywhere in the world

Does not get past immobile barriers (doors, windows, cages, etc).

Anonymous said...

Blindfold, cold iron, obscuring fog, or how about just making them think twice??

Throw an illusion of a platform here and there and have them fall 50' into a pit of spikes when they try to land on a nonexistant floor...

they will think twice