Saturday, October 13, 2012

Action Denying Conditions on PCs in D&D 4E

Action denying status effects deny player characters the use of their actions.
I examine stunned, unconscious, dazed, dominated, petrified, etc conditions.

Why action denial is problematic

Action Denial robs players of things to do during their turn.
Combat in D&D 4E at higher levels is often slow.
This means players are waiting a long time to do something.
Players generally get bored quickly this way.

Action Denial is tolerable if other PCs can help the afflicted PC.

Save Ends vs. End of next Turn

At higher levels, end of next turn is stronger than save ends because of many saving possibilities and bonuses. At lower levels, action denying effects that have save ends might take some turns to save against.


woman falling
"Free Falling - Explored" by SodanieChea on Flickr

This is the ultimate action denial, because stunned PCs can't take any actions.
I simply don't use this condition at all.

Dragons use this, I substitute it for a weaker condition like dazed and additional damage.


This is harsh action denial, but in some circumstances PCs can get rid of it by healing, heal checks or taking damage.
If there are no such circumstances I won't use the condition.

A Night Hag uses the unconscious and stunned conditions.


Dying PCs can't use any actions but other PCs heal them or use the healing skill on them.
So this condition isn't problematic.


Dazed is great action denial. Melee characters out of melee range can't move and standard attack, but they can still charge or use a weaker ranged attack.


Swallowed isn't an official condition but larger creatures like crocodiles or purple worms use it.
Swallowed PCs are restrained, take damage each turn and make a basic attack each turn.
The PCs are released only when the creature dies.

This can be boring because players have no choices, someone could roll for them and they go for a walk.

I solve this by allowing hard Athletics skill checks and successful attacks to escape the beast's stomach and mouth.


Dominated is less of an issue as a player gets to do something.
I use it with moderation, it is a charm effect so saving against it is easier.

The PCs are out of action, players are not as they can attack their allies.


A character gets Petrified in stages (slowed, immobilized, petrified) and the Remove Afflication ritual is house ruled to be usable in combat.

Cockatrices and Medusa cause this condition.
When these creatures are killed they provide a way to cure recently petrified PCs.
So I see no problem with this condition.

Do you use action denial conditions as written or do you have house rules for them?
If you have house rules, I'd love to hear them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you want your comment to not be deleted: Stay on topic, and remain polite while arguing your opinion.