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So we have a Longtooth Shifter in our game, and some people (GM included) think its encouter power is too strong for an encounter power and should be changed to a daily power.

For information, the encounter power is Longtooth Shifting, as a minor action with a requirement to be bloodied, here's the effect : Until the end of the encounter, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls, In addition, while you are bloodied, you gain regeneration 2.

Personaly, I think it's a bit weird that this is an encounter power, since it triggers on being bloodied, which generaly happens once per encounter, there would be no reason to just use it the moment you get bloodied to get a permenant +2 to damage until the end of the encounter, and regen 2 every round you begin bloodied.

Maybe there's something we're not understanding right about this power, otherwise, would it be a good idea to houserule it as a daily power.

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How long do your encounters tend to be? These answers are assuming encounters of around 5 rounds. In my current campaign, where we just hit level 7, that would be probably be the shortest battle our characters have ever fought. –  DCShannon Jul 18 at 1:38
    
We never actually counted how many rounds it takes for an encounter, but i'm also pretty sure that 5 rounds is very short, or at least, clearly not the average lenght of an encounter. –  Shadowxvii Jul 18 at 13:35
    
@DCShannon just for kicks, I updated my answer to include math for a 10 round combat. It doesn't really change much, Basically, as combats get longer, the DPR difference will approach 3 as Heroic Effort gets weaker as a single use power and Longtooth Shifting gets more powerful as a continuous power. –  wax eagle Jul 20 at 1:45
    
@Shadowxvii also just for kicks, what's the composition of this party? –  wax eagle Jul 20 at 2:05
    
We are all lvl 1 characters. Deva Wizard, Dwarf Shaman, Dwarf Warden, Shifter Ranger and Dragonborn Sorcerer. –  Shadowxvii Jul 21 at 19:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Ok, so let's compare this to a comparable power.

The Human Heroic Effort power.

For this we'll take two Rangers, at L1 since that's the best time to compare racial powers and build them basically exactly the same. To make this completely fair, we'll burn the Human's extra feat on something worthless so that it doesn't color our findings (in reality, it likely means the human has better weapons at L1).

So we'll take the Heavy Blade Ranger, weilding dual long swords with a 20 str, taking the Heavy Blade Expertise feat and a 20 str to start.

At L1 our to hit and damage are as follows:

 To Hit: 3 + 5 + 1 = 9
 Damage on single TS is: 1d8
 Quarry Damage: 1d6

This means both characters, without using their racial powers have the following average damage:

 .7 * 8 + .05 * 14 + .7 * 4.5 + .7 * (.7 * 3.5 + .05 * 6) + .05 * 8 = 11.78

Now, let's introduce the racial powers into this. The shifter gets the following average damage for probably half the combat:

 .7 * 10 + .05 * 16 + .7 * 6.5 + .7 * (.7 * 3.5 + .05 * 6) + .05 * 10 = 14.78

With this information we can determine who gets the better end of the damage stick. Let's assume that a combat goes 5 rounds. On average our rangers get 10 attacks in those 5 rounds (5 uses of twin strike, we'll ignore action points for now).

We know from our accuracy numbers that our Rangers hit 75% of the time (average L1 monster AC is 15). So we can expect to hit 7.5 times. Since our fighter is going to get an extra boost from heroic effort, he's going to hit an extra time so 8.5 times. Let's run our average damage calc using 85% instead of 75%:

 .8 * 8 + .05 * 14 + .8 * 4.5 + .8 * (.8 * 3.5 + .05 * 6) + .05 * 8 = 13.58

We'll also assume our Shifter gets bloodied after his turn in the second round. So He will get 6 attacks after his minor action has been used. So he'll get 3 rounds of his top level average damage and 2 of his normal for an actual average damage comp of:

 .6 * 14.78 + .4 * 11.78 = 13.58

So there's that. The average damage lines up *perfectly. There is literally no difference between getting +2 to hit and a free hit turned into a miss over the course of a 5 round fight with a .75 hit chance. (This is mostly a statistical anomaly based on the length of combat I chose, obviously with more attacks, the +2 becomes more significant and a single attack changed to a hit becomes much less significant. The fact that I chose 5 rounds is not an accident though, that's about how long combats tack in my experience)

Now, what about the regen? Again, that's literally 6 hit points, and when you compare it to Heroic Effort's flexibility (it's true purpose is to keep you from failing death saves), it seems like a pretty legit compromise.

Addendum:

For kicks and giggles, let's assume that a combat takes 10 rounds. We'll still allow our Ranger friend to get his encounter power off during the third round of combat. So now he gets 16 attacks at the higher damage margin with four at the lower. The Human ranger gets one attack in 20 changed to a hit, so a 5% increase in accuracy. The two equations become:

 .75 * 8 + .05 * 14 + .8 * 4.5 + .75 * (.75 * 3.5 + .05 * 6) + .05 * 8 = 12.89

For the Human and

 .8 * 14.78 + .2 * 11.78 = 14.18

for the Shifter. In other words, a DPR difference of about 1. That's 10 damage difference (and at most 16 HP) between Heroic effort and Longtooth Shifting over a 10 round combat. That's not even a quarter of a monster's HP at this level and certainly not enough to convince me that the power needs rebalancing (For even longer combats, the DPR difference will approach 3 asymptotically).

Addendum 2:

What does 16 HP matter in a combat. The average hit from a L7 standard monster using MM3 math is as follows (Assuming PC AC of 21, which is right for a Ranger with starting Dex of 18):

 .45 * 15 + .05 * 20 = 7.75

That means if you get the entire full effect of the regen you're going to stand up to 2 hits from a standard monster. Put another way, this is about your surge value at L7, so you'll save yourself 1 healing surge. That's a solid savings, but going back to our comparison to Heroic Effort, I certainly wouldn't say it's imbalanced (you also have to take the entire race's feat support and other features into account, you can balance a stronger race against a weaker one with a strong racial encounter (for instance, we assumed our Human ranger spent his feat on something that didn't help, but he could have spent it on an expertise feat and gotten an accuracy boost that would even the odds even more, he also could have taken a third at-will instead of Heroic effort which would make this entire exercise pointless, this is offset to some degree by slightly lower stats, but in other ways not so), but that analysis would be quite long and is out of scope here).

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+1, very good answer. –  Thales Sarczuk Jul 16 at 20:41
    
Is it worth discussing regen v. healing word and MM3 expected monster damage? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jul 20 at 1:47
    
@BrianBallsun-Stanton I took a first pass at that, showing that if you get the full effect of the regen over 10 full rounds of combat, you basically stand up to 2 extra hits from a monster... –  wax eagle Jul 20 at 2:01
    
Yeah, it's more the argument that "if you reach bloodied in 2 rounds, will regen do you any good?" It also feels like a part of this is "not asking the right question" as my intuition suggests that the party is mis-built... –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jul 20 at 2:02
    
@BrianBallsun-Stanton agreed on that. If this power feels OP that's indicative of wider issues. –  wax eagle Jul 20 at 2:03

+2 damage and +2 regen is not OP

+2 damage is not a huge bonus, nor is Regen 2. Both might help you in cases where a hit almost knocked you out (but you regened 6 hp over the last 3 rounds so you still have 1 hp yet) or that enemy would've had 1 hp left and been still stand but now its dead. Even at level one its not that much Hp considering hp values are around 30 for PCs and can be higher for level appropriate monsters.

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While I agree with the numbers not being OP, I have trouble with the fact that you can do it every encounter, without any incentive to NOT do it. The only downside to using the power is that it cost you a minor action, which is mostly nothing. –  Shadowxvii Jul 16 at 17:09
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@Shadowxvii most races have pretty nice racial abilities that they can use every encounter, this one isn't out of bounds with the rest of them. The duration is more sustained, but the bonus is small. this probably gets most combats about 6HP and 3-4 damage...that's not a lot –  wax eagle Jul 16 at 17:11
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@Shadowxvii And a human's +4 bonus one time from Heroic Effort (turning a miss into a hit or a non-save into a save) isn't that powerful? A half-elf's dilettante (with one feat, say hello to a new at-will at level 11, like, say, Twin Strike)? An Eladrin's Fey Step (teleport out of grabbed/immobilized/restrained if you want, and plenty of feats to boost it significantly)? It's not actually that powerful, especially once you get over, say, 5th level. –  JLan Jul 16 at 17:53
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Not to mention that if it was a daily, it would be a really underpowered daily. –  SevenSidedDie Jul 16 at 20:24
    
There is a minor incentive not to use it... You may not want to get bloodied in the first place. Of course, a character quirk on either side could make this interesting, but this is more of a role playing response than a mechanics and balance response. Mechanically, I never found it to be overpowered. –  Aviose Jul 17 at 21:04

Others have already done a great job of answering this question, especially as to the real (lack of) numerical advantage, but here are a few things to consider...

Personaly, I think it's a bit weird that this is an encounter power, since it triggers on being bloodied

For clartiy (and general nitpicking), as you stated in its description, it triggers only if a minor action is used while the Longtooth Shifter is bloodied.

This is an important strategic point for the Longtooth Shifter and the GM to consider. If an NPC, creature, effect or situation can prevent the character from taking minor actions, the power is worthless for that time before it can be initially used.

[Since being bloodied] generally happens once per encounter, there would be no reason [not?] to just use it the moment you get bloodied to get a permanent +2 to damage until the end of the encounter, and regen 2 every round you begin bloodied.

Well, giving characters an advantage is kind of the point, yes? Otherwise, everyone would leave their weapons and armor at home. ;-)

Regarding pure stats, math matters.

If that +2 bonus doesn't help overcome an opponents high AC, it's practically worthless. Likewise, +2 damage sounds great until you fight a 300+ HP dragon. And regen 2 when bloodied? Awesome... until A) your not bloodied or B) Your opponent successfully does a whopping 3 points of damage (3 dmg - 2 regen = still dying). To clarify, per @Robert's comments, "2 damage isn't a lot to regen" since "a LOT of things do far more than 3 damage ." If your taking damage you can't negate, your dying, even if its a prolonged death.

Also, while there may not be many reasons to hold off in small encounters, long, pitched battles often require resource management to survive. So when other sources of healing or combat bonuses are available, this may not be the first thing the Longtooth Shifter utilizes (assuming any type of tactics are being used).

Furthermore, remember that At-Will, Encounter, and Daily keywords are simply designations for rule clarity. During a battle, the Longtooth Shifter can be bloodied 5 times or 0 times, but the power can only be activated at most once per encounter regardless. These are entirely separate situations rule-wise.

Finally, if the rule lacked the Encounter designation, the Longtooth Shifter theoretically could enter battle with the powers' bonuses active assuming the characters HP counted as bloodied. Or the character could regen hit points from, say, a simple mechanical trap or bad fall.

[...] some people (GM included) think its encounter power is too strong for an encounter power and should be changed to a daily power.

If there is a general consensus that combat is too easy, or the Longtooth Shifter really is overpowered, I would argue less for such a drastic rule change and more for examining other ways to balance things out.

  • If this ability stacks with other character items or powers, you should probably try to look at ways to nullify or alter them as a set. Otherwise, this problem will just crop up later as new item/power combinations are discovered.

  • Have the GM add elements to counter the Longtooth Shifters' ability in battle such as

    • minor action suppression
    • better opponent ACs/To-Hit bonuses
    • regeneration suppression.

    This doesn't directly deprive the player who is playing the Longtooth Shifter, makes the least amount of changes to the game system, and makes for more tactically interesting combat (e.g. we have to destroy the plant with the poison that prevents regeneration first).

  • If the minor action thing is what bugs you, consider a small change to a full action instead. This is much less of a jump than from Encounter to Daily and will still hamper the power in the long run.

  • Don't forget that the rules are potentially ambiguous. "In addition, while you are bloodied, you gain regeneration 2" could certainly be ruled that rather than applying from the point the encounter power is used forward, that it only applies to the initial bloodied state (e.g. regen 2 get you past bloodied only once -- the first time the power is used).

But really, why does there need to be a "downside" to using any basic power? Should a Ranger using Twin Strike suddenly be cursed with an overwhelming lust for blood? Unless your shooting for a system where everyone has to role play penalties of some sort, most characters don't need to be "kept in check". Remember, Longtooth Shifters are designed to be dangerous in melee combat and have powers that fit that accordingly.

Lastly, remember that you are playing as a group. While good RPG games ideally allow weak characters interesting opportunities for play, generally weakening characters "just because" seems counter intuitive.

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I don't understand this bit: "And regen 2 when bloodied? [Awesome until] Your opponent successfully does a whopping 3 points of damage (3 dmg - 2 regen = still dead)." Bloodied is half max HP, not 1 hp away from death... right? Either one of us is confused about bloodied, or something in how that's written is confusing me. I'm guessing the latter. :) –  SevenSidedDie Jul 17 at 6:04
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The point he was trying to make from what I see is simply that 2 damage isn't a lot to regen. With 3 damage you've already negated the regeneration, and a LOT of things do far more than 3 damage. It's great to slip out of combat and recoup for a minute if it's going that bad, but it won't really keep you alive most of the time. –  Aviose Jul 17 at 21:09
    
@SevenSidedDie Robert is quite right. Terribly sorry to confuse, venerable sir. :-) Bloodied is indeed half max HP, as you say, no confusion there. Updated to clarify. –  Anaksunaman Jul 20 at 0:58

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