16
Sep
09

Stances

I have previously discussed stances, but I want to go into more detail today.

Stances are a particular type of daily power. They are used by the Barbarian (rage powers), Warden and Monk, and start with a powerful attack and provide ongoing benefits for the rest of the encounter. This is a perfect mechanic for Dragon In Ninth Heaven, fitting into the style of a class or kung fu system. Here’s an example from the Monk class:

Way of the Winter, Wind Monk Attack 15
You spring into the air and perform a roundhouse kick, creating a bitter draft. You dance on the wind as it washes over your foes, draining their strength.
Daily ✦ Cold, Implement, Psionic, Stance
Standard Action Close burst 2
Target: Each creature in burst
Attack: Dexterity vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d6 + Dexterity modifier cold damage, and the target is weakened (save ends).
Miss: Half damage, and the target is weakened until the end of your next turn.
Effect: You assume the autumn wind stance. Until the stance ends, whenever you are hit by an attack, you can shift 2 squares as an immediate reaction.

Monks in D&D 4E also use ‘Full discipline’ powers. These are at will or encounter powers which incorporate both a standard action (usually an attack) and a move action. Here’s an example from the Monk class:

Five Storms Monk Attack 1
You move like a whirlwind, spinning as you unleash an
array of kicks and punches, which slam into your foes like
a storm crashing ashore.
At-Will ✦ Full Discipline, Implement, Psionic
Attack Technique
S tandard Action Close burst 1
T arget: Each creature in burst
A ttack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
H it: 1d6 + Dexterity modifier damage.
Movement Technique
M ove Action P ersonal
E ffect: You shift 2 squares.

Five Storms, Monk Attack 1
You move like a whirlwind, spinning as you unleash an array of kicks and punches, which slam into your foes like a storm crashing ashore.
At-Will ✦ Full Discipline, Implement, Psionic

Attack Technique
Standard Action Close burst 1
Target: Each creature in burst
Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d6 + Dexterity modifier damage.

Movement Technique
Move Action Personal
Effect: You shift 2 squares.

An interesting note on both these powers is that they do not use the 1[W]+bonus notation for damage, instead specifying a damage die for the attack. The powers also lack the scaling of damage at the paragon and epic tiers. Maybe the damage scaling is not there because this is a playtest class and not complete, or it could be because of the inherent scaling built into the Centered Flurry of Blows class feature possessed by monks. Centered Flurry of Blows does Wisdom modifier damage to targets adjacent to the Monk, with the number of targets increasing with the level of the Monk.

Reading through the design notes for the full discipline powers of the Monk, the designers allowed the movement component of an attack to do one of the following: shift 2 squares, move at speed+2, swap positions with an ally or jump a long way.

How to apply these options?

Now the question becomes, “How will I use these ideas?”.

I really like the idea of a stance. The recognizable attack that moves the character into a stance that grants ongoing benefits. This allows for flavour and well-known techniques and will ensure that each class and kung fu style remains distinct.

I will incorporate stances into every class because each class deserves to have a particular flavour to its powers. In addition, kung fu styles can allow a character access to a stance. The kung fu stances may be chosen instead of a class stance, allowing character customization and wide variation between characters of the same class. Each kung fu style may only offer a couple of stances, there is no need to create many for each style because there will be enough character options without doing that.

Full discipline powers are a nice idea, but are very specific to the Monk class. They capture the concept of a mobile melee combatant well, allowing characters to strike and move at will. This does not apply to all classes, so I will not include them in a generic fashion. However, all classes will have access to Lightfoot – the ability to perform kung fu powered movement techniques. This will be used instead of full discipline powers, so that characters will have access to different types of movement powers and the ability to ignore them altogether if they want a different development path. Lightfoot will be explained in a future post, where I will also discuss other skills and their effect on the game.

A few examples of how stances could work within styles already created in earlier versions of Dragon In Ninth Heaven follow:

  • Transformation kung fu – heavily stance based, with a stance to each type of transformation. This style will provide more stances than most.
  • Energy Body kung fu – uses stances to create the effect of a glowing buddha surrounding the character, and the stance adds reach as an ongoing power.
  • Death touch kung fu – one or two deadly stances which cause attacks to add weakening conditions to enemies.
  • Lightning fist kung fu – has one or two stances which grant movement bonuses or additional minor attacks (like Dexterity modifier damage to an opponent who you successfully strike).
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