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The big thing is that only about half of the class applied to what I wanted to do. It was kind of the same thing that bugged me about having to heal with my Warlord. In both cases I had a pretty typical fantasy archetype in mind, that didn't fit with any character class offered.
I honestly can't remember what exactly bugged me with the rogue, it's been too long. I only tried to play four times, the first and last times I gave up in the character creation phase because nothing i dreamt up fit what was in the book.
But even if that didn't work for you - how would you have done it with AD&D without the swashbuckler? Isn't it ultimately a matter of whether the class exists in a class based system?
Play a fighter with high dex and give them proficiencies in acrobatics and tumbling. Specialize in one blade of choice. Round out non-weapon proficiencies with stuff like gambling or etiquette. After that just role-play it.
Using the swashbuckler fighter kit works better, but it's still mostly just a vanilla fighter.
The old classes were extremely generic, which left a lot of room to play them differently. The 4th edition classes are straight-jackets by comparison. I do okay running pre made characters in that, but I just can't cram character ideas into the classes provided. At least not with the classes in the player's book.
Even when I found a class that seemed close to what I was picturing, the powers went off into things I didn't want at all.
The famous p.42 of the Dungeon's Master Guides has all the tools to allow this stuff. The values for that are even on the DM table. Of course I agree that it's a trap many players fall into, just looking at their powers and thinking that is all that they can do.
I've never run 4th edition, so I really have no idea what's in the DMG. All I know is that when I was trying to play a swashbuckler kind of character the game ground to a halt on every one of my turns, and there were a couple of things I just couldn't do because they were powers for other classes, or things I just didn't have.
The Warmaster wasn't so bad as far as doing wierd things, I just didn't like the how much some of the abilities seemed like magic. I don't mind playing spell casters, but it's not what I wanted for the character.
I love it that I can tell my players before the start of the campaign: Anything goes. Pick any class, any race, it will work (at least for me). The only limits I might need to give are stuff that doesn't fit (maybe Warforged don't fit in my campaign or something like that. Though I prefer to have it all allowed normally, and make the out-of-the-ordinary stuff just work)
That's because the limitation comes when picking a class. On the one hand, all the classes are homogenous enough that if you hand a random player a character sheet and a stack of cards describing the abilities, they can play that character effectively. But on the other hand, it's hard to come up with a concept before playing and adapt it to a class.
I think I've probably spent more time staring at the players book and getting halfway through making characters that don't actually fit into any class than I have playing.
I'll sometimes run a handful of NPCs for people, but I'm not going to try making a character of my own again. Character creation is just way too restrictive. It's like speccing out a character in an MMO, except there's no roleplaying in MMOs.
I'm pretty sure I could build a strong Str and Dex light armor wearing fighter in 4e, that uses a Rapier. And that's without touching the Rogue. (who is still the Light armor fighter)
I think I decided against the fighter because the abilities were really focussed on brute force and tanking. I don't really remember what my thought process was at the time, I gave away my 4th edition stuff about 3 months after it was released.
Though part of it, you can't look at class names and go "that is not him" you make the character first, then pick the class.
That's where I run into my block with 4th edition. I usually have some idea what I want to do before looking at the character classes, and can't find a way to make the classes fit. Or I'll settle on one that seems close to what I was trying for, but it turned out to not work at all.
Each of the classes is like a train, once you jump on board you have to go where it was going.
Martial classes, are basically the old fighter archetypes split up so that each one can be more effective than the at best sub optimal choice, and at worst, completely unworkable concept in tougher campaigns.
I have a hard time imagining an unworkable fighter archetype. Restrictions on weapon choice or armor could make things tough, but there were generally ways around it.
The problem is that the splits don't include every archetype (especially not when the game was released). Instead of the player making up a character, the game company does. MMOs do that a lot, so any character of a certain class with a certain level of gear will be identical to any other of that class and gear, but MMOs aren't for role-playing.
The warlord is like your team captain in pvp. A good one, can rally the team and make everyone try just that much harder, and stay willing to give it their best. :p (course there's also the semi reckless one in martial power that leads the team from the front, and through his sheer brass pair, everyone fights harder...)
All of that should be role-played though. I've played in games where people role-played virtually every button a Warlord gets to great effect. In most games it would be a personality type rather than a character class.
I stuck with the Warlord for a couple of months, but I stopped enjoying it because everything was spells. It's kind of the same reason that I'd rather role-play a character with a personality that makes people want to punch them than to press a taunt button. I could play the Warlord just as a miniature in a tactical game and he'd work just fine. Heck, anybody else could play the character and get the same results.
Also as mustrum says, pg42 helps -alot- there. There weren't actual rules for dropping a guards pants in any D&D. Why think there would be a hard and set one now? Only before it really was pure dm fiat to make it work. Now at least, there are guidelines in the dmg for even an inexperienced dm to figure it out and keep the game going without any significant pause. I blame your dm for not reading the material.
Called shots were generally -8 to hit, same as for hitting in the head. That sort of thing has been in the game since 1st edition AD&D.
I've never looked in the DMG for 4e, but I remember grinding the game to a halt with that. Ultimately I couldn't do it because other classes had mobility impairing powers and the DM didn't want to give me powers I didn't have.
I didn't push the bounds so much with my Warlord, and I had a different DM with him, but player actions still seemed to be on rails. I only played for a couple of months, but I don't remember anyone attempting anything that they didn't have a button for.
You should have tried the hybrid class option then.
There were quite a few, that were outright disastrous in tougher campaigns (like ones Dex Fighters that had only the phb1 in 3e or 3.5 to work with). There were a few other really bad ones, but it's been so long I'd have to look *shudder* at the books to list them all. Grappling fighters, were another heinously bad one, especially against end game critters. *twitch* In mid, to upper late game the fighter really fell on it's face. Unless he started taking magical steroids (multiclassing into some kind of caster, and then a magic and bab related PRC)
A character is more than the summary of his powers though, or should be.
Who says it isn't rped though? Just because dice have hit the table or an ability is used doesn't mean the rping stops there. Look at it this way, the Warlord, is either a tactical genius, or a supremely inspiring leader. Either way you want to follow what he says. He knows the right things to say at the right time, and maybe patches you up along the way. The guy is so good like most martials it's eerie and almost supernatural. The same applies for a character with a Mark Mechanic etc. The rping doesn't magically stop or shouldn't because mechanics have gotten to be used.
Clerics, and other healers are more akin to the throw a spell on you, and you get up again. They are out right supernatural in their origins.
Yeah, that DM did it wrong, that's actually sort of something that is already spelled out on the page. It would have been a Dex check or attack roll (either one really) vs Reflex defense of the target. Result, some damage, and a Slow effect that lasts until the end of it's next turn if successful. (the example they give is swinging from a chandelier, on the way past the ogre, kicking the burning brazier into it's face and landing. But yeah. Easy stuff)
So getting back on topic.....if anything it will make the off hours pvp much more happening when all the chinese and koreans start flooding the queues during what would be the middle of the night US time. Not that that's a bad thing. I hope they like space pvp as much as we all do, and call out the random BS developed by cryptic as much as we do too!