[4e] Halving and Doubling

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I’ve seen in many places online that to speed up 4e combat folks have been halving the monster’s HPs and doubling the amount of damage they dish out. So I gave this a shot last night. Long story short: didn’t like it.

The encounter was the 3 lvl 8 PCs (Gnome Bard, Shifter Warden, Tiefling Sorcerer) vs 4 Foulspawn (one lvl 9 Seer, one lvl 8 Grue, two lvl 8 Manglers) and 4 Aboleth Hatchlings that I’d scaled down to  lvl 6. The XP budget set it as a hard fight.

Right out the gate the Sorcerer used Chaos Bolt, rolling 2 crits and a bunch more even numbers so it just kept on bouncing.  The Manglers were bloodied immediately. Okay, lucky rolling (he also scored another crit the next round so luck was definitely against me). But the Manglers have an Encounter power that recharges when first bloodied. Oh well.

The pattern followed through most of the rest of the fight – one or two hits bloodied something and then usually one or two more to put it down.  I was having terrible luck with my dice (and in theory only had half the opportunities I would normally have had to dish out damage)so I didn’t hit them much, but when I did doubling the damage was brutal. One of the Grue’s attacks does 4d6+3 – a hit from that would have taken the Sorcerer out clean.  Lesser attacks like the Seer’s 1d8+5 Warp Orb blast still generated about 20 points and the minions were doing 10 points on a hit (20 when he was dazed) and really messed the Warden up very badly. He was much worse off than he’d been the entire previous encounter where they’d fought a Purple Worm (he was the focus of most of the attacks from that bad boy, and spent 3 or 4 rounds inside it’s guts fighting his way out).

The combat was shorter, running I think about 45 minutes, and I think at the end they were probably about as damaged as they would have been were normal hit point amounts in effect. But the swings from “fine” to “OMGdire!” were precipitous and fast. I guess it emphasized the lethality of combat but for me it was too extreme.

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4 Responses to “[4e] Halving and Doubling”

  1. foxtown Says:

    Thanks for the review. I’d heard about this option, but haven’t seen it in action yet.

    It might work better at lower levels. I think HP don’t really scale as well up as damage does, so higher levels are more dangerous anyways, not even considering the increased scaling of monsters vs. characters (every level increase verses every other level), and the devaluing of defenses as you go up. Then double the difference and you will end up with huge swings as you go up in levels.

    Yeah, definately needs some more work.

  2. Bryant Says:

    Yeah. You’re reducing the number of rolls in a fight, which means the damage curve won’t be as smooth. I’ve never thought this was a great idea.

    • Christopher Tatro Says:

      I’ll admit there was some phenomenal luck on the player rolls (Kevin *never* rolls well, but he got 3 crits in 2 rounds? I suspect witchcraft) and lousy on my end which probably made the pendulum swing wilder than it normally would have.

      • Bryant Says:

        Yeah, but the chances of the swings are higher when you half/double. So you’ll see ’em more often overall.

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