Tuesday, August 18

Desperation Attacks in 4e: Action Movies and Parting Shots

Quick admin before we get to the meat of the article: Corvys and myself have agreed to do a series of super-short articles, to see how we like the idea. We’re both dedicated to bringing content, but we’re both more than slightly crazy.

So expect more updates – we promise – but expect them to be shorter. We feel that we owe a faster update cycle to the sudden onrush of visitors from ChattyDM, who graciously hosted an article that I wrote as a guest writer during his gencon hiatus.

So: We’re all familiar with the parting shot in action movies. The hero, mortally wounded, with his final breath and his last ounce of strength takes the life of his nemesis. The fourth Hokage in Naruto takes Orichamiru’s hands. The villain, previously thought defeated, manages a final shot against the hero before passing out, changing a movie from feel-good action to tragedy.

Well, I feel that 4e could “break off a piece of this action” (as kids say in the modern vernacular, or so I’m told). And in the abovementioned article, I pointed out that a great way of adding powers to the D&D 4e system without unbalancing it is to encapsulate the power into a feat, like a few of the divine powers (sidebar snark: and it’s not like you don’t get enough feats in this edition, amirite?!). So I propose the following feat:

Feat: Desperation Attack
Prerequisites: None
A character with the Desperation Attack feat can, in their last moments before passing out, manage to get out one last attack – they can make use of the Desperation Attack daily power.

Desperation Attack Feat Power
As you fall, life slipping from you, you manage one last desperate attack against your opponent. Absolutely vulnerable, you can only hope to their mercy.
Daily <> Martial
Immediate Reaction
Trigger: You are reduced to 0 or fewer hit points.
Effect: You may make a single basic or at-will attack against an opponent. Making use of an at-will power other than a basic attack when using this power provokes opportunity attacks against you. The score critical hits on the power or basic attack chosen on a 17 or higher, and have +2 bonus to hit on the attack.

Now, before I can continue with this blog entry, there are two things that must be pointed out:

  1. I suddenly cannot get the following catchphrase out of my head: “The wonderful thing about triggers is that triggers are wonderful things”. I’m seriously considering bashing my head against a wall until sweet unconsciousness embraces me.
  2. Building powers in HTML using tables (even when using Microsoft Live Writer!) is a terrible exercise in frustration and code-preview switching.

Well, now that the unrelated commentary is done, on to the related commentary: yes, using this power is incredibly dangerous. If you’re surrounded by enemies when you fall, you probably don’t want to use a desperation attack. But this wasn’t designed for rushing waves of minions – it was created with the idea that a character, when falling, might take his killer with him. It’s a no-hope attack – a character has resigned himself to defeat.

On the other hand, the bonuses on that one attack are totally sweet! +2 to hit means that you have a much higher likelihood of landing the blow, and 17+ critical hits mean that you have a much higher (typically three times higher) likelihood of landing an “epic blow”. Neat, and I don’t think that munchkins want to be hitting that trigger too often. Just to be careful, though, it’s a daily power :D

Well, that’s all for this blogpost. I hope to have something for the blog again tomorrow!

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