Monday, September 13, 2010

Putting more Pulp into D&D 4e (Part 1)

As I've mentioned before, I was a big fan of Torg shortly after it came out, and ran a campaign that lasted 18 months or so.

One of the aspects of Torg that I really liked was how cinematic it was, in the vein of Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

When Eberron first came out I really liked how it emphasized the pulpy aspect of adventure, and even introduced Action Points which allowed the PCs to add a 1d6 to their d20 rolls.

Unfortunately, one of the problems with 4e is that combat tends to be on the slow side, even for combats that really aren't as important as others. During our last session, which was a major combat in the new 4e version of Tomb or Horrors, we had one combat that took on the order of 2 hours in order to complete. Actually, technically it wasn't complete as one major combattant hadn't really been touched when the session had to end.

This is getting to be a potential deal breaker for us (and I've started looking at Savage Worlds), but I really want to give a try at making 4e more pulpy.

One of the first house rules I'll be adding will be to increase the number and utility of action points. First, instead of only getting 1 AP after an extended rest, and an additional one per milestone, the PCs will get a set amount per session, which do not roll over if they don't spend them. As well, as described on the aptly named Action Point blog, I will be rewarding APs for good roleplaying.

The PCs will be able to use their APs on the following:

1. Get another action on their turn (as usual).

2. Spend an additional AP to trigger their paragon path AP ability. The reason I've separated this out is that some paragon path abilities can be rather time consuming.

3. Add 1d6 to any skill check or attack roll. This will allow daily powers and encounter powers to hit a bit more often, which will speed combats up. I'm not sure how I'll take into account blasts and bursts though.

4. Make a natural roll of 19 a critical hit.

Monsters will also get the benefit of these changes, and I will probably add a bonus AP to Elites, and two bonus APs to Solos.

The goal of these changes is to make combat more "Fun, Fast and Furious", or as much as I can get it in D&D 4e, which admittedly takes on more of a tactical bent than Savage Worlds.

In Part 2 next week, I will discuss more changes I'm planning on making to combat encounters to make them more pulpy.


  1. Action Points are the most efficient single way to speed up your encounters, so if you're going to start throwing them around more often, expect to shave about a round off of combat for every 2 AP spent by the PCs - in my experience anyway. It's a bit more difficult to ascertain the effect of monsters spending AP.

  2. Hey there-- thanks for the reference. I enjoy reading your blog too. Ryven has the right of it; as soon as your PCs begin pumping more AP into an encounter, the faster it goes. They're great fun.

  3. Scott "Warforged Paladin" WalkerSeptember 19, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    That is an excellent idea to award extra AP for good role playing. I will look forward to an extra action point everytime my warforged character wields one of its "special attachments". ;-P