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There's a D&D 4e variant rule where all powers are Reliable, meaning you don't lose your Encounter/Daily powers if they miss. If a power has an effect on a miss, you may either accept the miss effect, or forgo the effect and retain the power. There's an alternative which charges one healing surge to recover the power.

The intent of the rule is to make it less frustrating to waste a limited-use power due to chance or poor character optimization for attack bonus. I suspect it also shortens long boring combats by keeping encounter powers longer so they don't turn into at-will grinds, but it may also lengthen them by keeping more options in play.

Is "All Powers are Reliable" too powerful? Is it necessary to charge a healing surge?

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Another alternative I've heard is to allow players to spend an action point after using a power to make it reliable. – okeefe Oct 2 '11 at 5:01
up vote 22 down vote accepted


There's been discussion here to the effect that reliable fireballs simply don't make sense and that it reduces the fighter's uniqueness. Given that dailies are reliable or have miss effects, it's not fair to be able to decide if half-damage is acceptable at this time.

Encounters should not be made reliable: they are usable every combat and while it's disappointing to miss with one, you can quite literally try again the next combat. Encounter powers are intended to be signature items. By flailing around (again dliuting the already reliable powers) until you hit with your chain lightning... characters lose the iconic significance of their powers.

However, if your players really don't like missing and aren't willing to increase their accuracy, allowing them to spend a healing surge for +5 before the roll is a way to make sure that "I really need the power to hit" moments are valid. I wouldn't use this house rule in my games, but it is a fix that doesn't dilute the nature of reliable.

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Agreement with this post. +1 for the cool healing surge idea. – Iain Anderson Oct 2 '11 at 5:41
when i go to use a daily, i do everything that i can to get as much of an edge as possible to ensure that it'll hit. – DForck42 Oct 6 '11 at 17:15

IMHO I think your players need a little bit of a view as to WHY they can only use it a limited number of times.

Let's look at a fighter. A fighter can use Cleave as an at-will, because it's an everyday attack that doesn't take much out of you. Shielded Sides is an encounter power. It temporarily wears you down because you’re throwing your shield around, but you can bounce back from it, much like a sprint. Crack the shell is a daily, and for good reason. It’s such a powerful attack that it literally takes a decent amount of your strength to do, and requires a while to recover from. So even if the attack misses, you still exerted that force for the attack.

People have a tendency to forget that fighting of any sort takes a toll on your body, and depending on the level of action it can have lasting effects.

So instead of gaming the system, educate them as to why the system is the way it is.

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I also had a similar discussion with a friend with the same reasoning as you stated. Another one that works for "why do encounters only work once per fight?" is that people tend to think their enemy is stupid. Quite the contrary, I'd say your enemies are smart enough to know when you're pulling a fancy move and won't open up for such a devastating attack again that fight. Hence, one per fight but works for other fights cause the new foe hasn't seen your technique yet. The reasoning doesn't quite work for dailies but you can use the reasoning you mentioned at that point too. – The Jug Oct 6 '11 at 16:49
Applying real world logic to 4e is not a good hole to wander down. – the dark wanderer Aug 27 '15 at 17:29

I think you could make this work. A limiting factor on it could be that each power is reliable the first time, so after two misses its gone. The healing surge idea could work, but that would skew power towards Con based classes.

In order to not dilute fighters, their reliable powers could allow for two rolls for the first use, in addition to permanent reliability.

Keep in mind that these changes will mainly increase the total damage the party deals, so there should probably be more enemies, or the enemies' health should be boosted by 20% or so.

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Hey... Cool idea on how to not dilute the fighter. – Simon Withers Oct 5 '11 at 13:56

With respect to your specific "Is making all powers reliable" too powerful, I think there are two parts to the question - "Are you creating an imbalance between your players, where one benefits greatly, while others lose out?" and "How as a DM do I adjust threats to accommodate the stronger characters?"

For the imbalance between players component, you are probably giving classes like the Barbarian (with their "hit one, guy once, but bad" attacks) a bigger boost than classes like the Sorcerer or Wizard (with their attack many so miss all less often) and classes like the Fighter who have toned down dailies that actually are reliable.

To solve the fighter problem, I would give them either a bonus +Strength or a +W damage on powers that are currently reliable.

For powers that have multiple targets, I would allow a player to designate one target as the primary, and if the primary is missed, and the player wants to retain the power, then all targets (or maybe just all enemies) are also missed.

For Rangers doing the daily versions of Twin Strike, I probably wouldn't make much adjustment, as they are on the high side of damage output, so benefiting less from such a house rule isn't as big an issue.

Additionally classes that have effects on their daily attack powers "fly 10 squares and attack" will get the effect parts more often than they should. (Again, the Barbarian thanks you while the Warden looks on enviously, as the Barbarian could conceivably uses a Rage power with a non-proficient weapon so he can miss and get to use the Rage again in another encounter) - though this scenario can be dealt with by applying your suggested miss rules to effects as well.

Finally, if you have psionic classes you need to figure out how power points fit in...

As to the second part about adjusting threats, I would suggest that making this same change to monsters for recharge and encounter powers would probably do the trick, or at least come close. However, I find bookeeping of monsters annoying, so I'd be tempted, for most recharge and encounter powers to just make them at-will unless that really, really felt wrong for the monster.

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I think this answer effectively communicates "why break something that isn't broken" – wax eagle Oct 5 '11 at 14:37
@waxeagle indeed :) – Simon Withers Oct 5 '11 at 17:23

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