One of the biggest attractions for me in terms of 4e D&D is the varied and unique nature of the power system. When nearly every class gets new Encounter and Daily powers at various levels, one would think it would become hard to itemize all of the different bonuses, cookies, and wound dice that get tossed around between powers.
To be honest, for all of the flak that they take (from yours truly, even), the guys at Wizards of the Coast have done a pretty solid job of both keeping things balanced and in maintaining the flavor of each class. A fighter gets powers that mark and punish enemies for moving away. A paladin, while in the same role, gets more healing and buff cookies, and deals a lot more radiant damage--fitting, for a holy warrior.
But, there are other good ideas out there, too...what say we come up with some creative plagiarism, shall we?
A game that I've been slowly, agonizingly anticipating is Blizzard's upcoming Diablo III. Yes, friends, I was a DII junkie--I still have a level 70-something Holy Shock paladin around here somewhere, decked out in uniques and rares. Last night, though, Blizzard debuted some new videos demonstrating a new mechanic to Diablo III: that of skill-based runestones. You can check out the full series of videos here (Diablo III--Runestones) to get an idea of how this works.
|Diablo III's Witch Doctor casts an Acid Cloud|
Imagine, my lovelies, if D&D could manage to work this way! Rather than taking a set Encounter power at each level, you could instead assemble your own from a table. The runestones in Diablo III are separated into seven tiers of quality...much like D&D has Encounter powers at levels 1-3-7-13-17-23-27. Let's say that, for example, you're building a level 1 Wizard. You might start with a base level 1 Encounter power that deals 1d8 damage of a specific type...call it lightning, for the time being.
Then, you'd get to pick a an option or two from a table of choices, based on what you'd like that power to do. Among other things, perhaps you could:
- Push X squares.
- Daze the enemy
- Deal an extra d8 damage.
- Make the attack into an Area Burst 1 or a Close Blast 3.
- Slow the enemy.
- Attack two creatures, rather than one.
At higher levels, you'd get more "sockets" that you could use for customizing your powers, as well as be able to pick from "better" tables. You'd still be able to pick from lower tables, but would be able to name, customize and prioritize your powers based on what you want! Naturally, the table should be customized for each "archetype"--a rogue-type would probably have to make a much more significant investment to be able to teleport than a mage-type would, simply because it's out of their purview.
While I really love this idea for its customizability and its flexibility, I can't imagine ever seeing something like this take effect. It's simply too flexible, too individualized to fit into tournament-style or "sanctioned" play. Unless there were a way to standardize the selection process--which a good solid Character Builder could do, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon--it'd be too difficult to implement.