Monday, July 12, 2010

House Rule: Stunned

It seems like the Stunned condition is a topic of note lately on the 4e blogosphere, Twitter and on Enworld.

The gist is that the Stunned condition, just isn't much fun. It removes the player from the game effectively for one or more rounds.

This situation was hammered home on me at our last session. I've been playing rather than DMing the last couple of months, as I needed a breather and wanted to see what 4e was like from the other side of the screen.

During this combat, which was against the Big Bad Evil Guy at the end of the adventure, I had managed to have horrible dice luck when attacking (hit twice out of something like 8 rounds, rolling less than a 5 on most of those misses).

But the worst part was when my Sorcerer got slammed unconscious. I made my first death save, and then the Artificer in the party healed me. Unfortunately, the BBEG went next and since she was right next to me, slammed me again unconscious (nearly killing me again). I then failed my death save. The Artificer then succeeded on a Heal check to allow me to use my Second Wind, which I did. However, again the BBEG slammed me unconscious. I then failed my second death save.

As it turned out, we won in the end (though we had a lengthy conversation afterwards regarding difficulties with Level + 3 Solos, which get healing... 90 hp through the combat). Admittedly a large part of our problem was also that we were under-manned with only 4 PCs and no Defender.

However, the fact was that after having a lengthy combat where my luck was crap, I then had to endure three rounds of doing nothing (I do wish our DM had spread the pain around a bit).

Doing nothing is not fun, especially when rounds can take 10-20 minutes to complete. Theoretically I could have been out of the game for an hour. In earlier editions rounds were (usually) much quicker, so if you didn't get your turn (if you were say, Held), it wasn't so much of a big deal.

Now, this problem was demonstrated to me with the Unconscious condition rather than Stunned, but it was similar enough.

This problem with Stunned has actually resulted in me changing up what monsters I want to run. Which is unfortunate, since a lot of cool monsters have powers that inflict the Stunned condition. One shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So I have been thinking about how to change the Stunned condition. Here's what I'm thinking at the moment:

Stunned: You are Dazed.
You have a -4 to all defenses.
You have a -2 to all attack and skill rolls.
You cannot sustain powers.

This makes the Stunned condition an uber-Dazed condition. In addition, it should make combats a bit faster since both monsters and PCs would be easier to hit, and while the offensive abilities of whoever is stunned are reduced, they are not eliminated.

Best of all, the player is not taken out of the game.

DM Samuel on RPG Musings also mentioned dealing with the Dominated condition.

I'm not as prepared to change that up at the moment. First, it hasn't come up very much in my game. Second, as DM Samuel mentioned, the player isn't taken out of the game as he gets to still inflict some pain on his own teammates and gets a roleplaying opportunity to boot.

So what do you think? What have you done to alleviate the problems caused by Stunning?


  1. I haven't done anything as of yet but I'm thinking your suggestion sounds pretty good.

  2. WotC recently tidied up some of their Conditions to be self-contained and not refer to other conditions. I'd suggest doing the same with this house-rule - incorporate the text from Dazed, and add on the extra riders you want for Stunned. Aside from anything else, this removes contention over whether you can use effects that affect Dazed characters upon Stunned characters.