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I'm in a game of D&D 4th Edition. While I am not the GM, an interesting situation came up. A player tried to use Telekinetic Grasp (Dark Sun Campaign power, pretty similar to Mage Hand) to attack by throwing/loosening a rock. This is the power in question:

With your mental strength, you can manipulate nearby objects.

At-Will Psionic Minor Action Ranged 5

Target: One object that weighs 20 pounds or less and isn't carried by another creature Effect: You manipulate the target or move it 5 squares to a square within range.

20 pound is ~ 9 kg if google did not lie to me. When falling, a 20 pound rock does 1D6 damage per 40 ft (12 meters) of falling, up to 4D6.

Now the GM blocked this for the time being, claiming it was an abuse of the spell.

But the GM was interested in trying to allow it, after figuring out how to balance it. I have experience with multiple systems, so I thought I might give it a shot. I am looking for feedback on the balance of my solution.

I would start from "throwing a rock". And if I would write it down as a power/combat ability, this is what I came up with:

Name: Improvised Telekinetic Throw

Repeatable: At-Will

Action: Standard Action. I think this is the way to balance this attack. Using your arms is a free action, yet using them to attack is still a Standard Action.

Tags: Weapon, Ranged Weapon Including this tag means Proficiency modifiers would apply.

Requirements: You must be able to use a power capable of picking up and throwing the weapon and usable in the same turn.

Opportunity Attacks: Telekinetic Grasp itself triggers a Opportunity Attack, being considered a Ranged Power. If not, I would have it trigger one because you are making a Ranged Attack. Again, using your arms or legs in general does not incur a Opportunity Attack, but what you do with them might.

Defense and Effect: As the item used. For a Rock (improvised throwing weapon), it would be "vs AC" and 1D4 damage. A lit torch would be 1D6 fire according to some sources. But basically every single weapon in the book - including alchemical weapons and those designed for throwing - could be propelled by this power, so I'm trying to keep it abstract.

Attack roll: The highest of Charisma, Wisdom or Intelligence. Normally ranged attacks are Dexterity, but it does not seem fitting here. The mental Attributes seem usually used for Psionic/Magic, excluding tanky builds.

Special:

  • the Origin point is the place from which you pick up the item. The range is 5/10 or what is normal for the item, whichever is less.
  • The first time you use it in any Encounter, you have Combat Advantage with this attack. (In particular useful as the Character is a Rogue. Stuff like using Bluff to Feint and Grant Combat Advantage or Distraction to hide works similarly once/Encounter)
  • It is difficult to aim with this attack, given that you are not aiming from your stand point, not using a hand and not a properly trained Class Power. You attack as if the target has Total Concealment but you know its position (-5 to attack Roll). No sense can negate that penalty.

Targeting issue:

Now that last part - the part where you act as if the target has total concealment - is what I think the solution is to "Abuse Magehand/Telekinesis to attack". I lifted it from the HERO System: Since they are classified as "Targeting" or "Non-Targeting". Non-Targeting sense can be used to find the Square to aim at. Targeting is used to actually make attacks unhindered. Normally only Sight is targeting, but you can sell back your sight to play Daredevil. At which point you buy another targeting sense. Or you might buy an additional targeting Sense, that is not covered by the Invisibility/Darkness. Also there are cases when sight's targeting ability fails (Sight through Clairvoyance is not targeting, unless you bought this extra and the GM allows something as problematic as that).

Not standing at the origin point (and not a power designed for it). Not having a "targeting sense" to lock onto the enemy (and no power that takes care of such minor details). Aiming behind you through a mirror. Sounds similar enough for me in terms of difficulty as far as RPG rules would be concerned.

Porting that would be frustrating in D&D 3.X, as their Total concealment gives a infuriating 50% miss chance. I ran a combat with that once. But 4th Edition it is a direct -5 penalty. And in 5th Edition, it is Disadvantage. So it is a easy enough port.

So what do you guys think: Is this a halfway decent solution I came up with? What did others came up with for this issues, other then a stern "no" or something imbalanced?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello! Welcome to RPG.SE! Please take the Tour if you haven't already. I made some rough edits to your question to help with a little cleanup and to clarify some language, as well as your title to better reflect what seems to be your actual question. Am I correct in my evaluation that you are asking whether your homebrewed spell/ability is balanced? \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Jan 20 at 21:42
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I don't think this is a great solution

It seems like the player is trying to turn a non-attack power into an attack power. But attacks are blatantly different from hazards on a meta level, and embracing that kind of meta distinction is one of 4e's core design conceits.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that that, regardless of the quality of your solution, I don't think this is a good idea to do in the first place. If the player wants a telekinetic attack power, they should just take a real one.

If the player wants to use it to drop a rock on somebody, they can. However, there are some important points that mitigate this as an effective attack.:

  1. Being able to move a thing is fundamentally different to being able to attack with it. The original power does not allow you to move the object with enough force to attack; this is self-evident in that it's not an attack power. (If you want non-meta reasoning, note you're moving the item 5 squares in a round, the same approximate speed as a dwarf walking.)
  2. A 20lb rock does Xd6 damage when falling, not when thrown. 4e isn't a very simulationist game; falling hazard damage really has no bearing on how much damage any given rock should do when used as a thrown weapon by any given player.
  3. There's no reason you can't already use Telekinetic Grasp to drop a rock on someone as written. But, you're not really making an attack—you're just moving the rock to a square, then letting it fall.
  4. ...And that's not really an attack. In 4e, that would be more likely to grant the target a saving throw, than to let the character make an attack roll (compare it to pushing an enemy off a ledge, which you can also do with a non-attack power, and offers similar damage potential).

In short, I think the player who started all this can already use the power in the way they wanted to—it just won't have the effect that they're hoping for.

But if you do want to...

However, if you really do want to homebrew a power like this, I think you could simplify it a lot, and also that you're giving it too many fiddly properties/drawbacks/benefits.

  • Being proficient with a weapon means knowing how to use it as designed/intended. That really doesn't include throwing it around with your brain. Nor do I think this manner of using a weapon should benefit from weapon properties, proficiency or normal weapon ranges. In short, wouldn't give this power the weapon keyword.
  • Adding special benefits for specific items is way more complex and janky than a 4e power ought to be. Plus which, if (for example) hitting somebody with a torch does 1d6 fire damage, it should do that any time it's used as an improvised weapon, not specifically for this power.
  • The faux-concealment is also pretty janky. I see what you're going for, but I think we could do it in a simpler way.

How about this?

With that in mind, here's what I would offer my player if they wanted something like this. I think we can simplify it by hooking directly into the improvised weapon rules, since it seems to me that they should all apply here as well.

I'm folding damage into that concept, because I think that's part of how you allow improvised weapons to work in the first place, not a part of this power. Telekinetics shouldn't let you use a torch to deal fire damage, if just throwing or bludgeoning with that same torch wouldn't do the same.

Improvised Telekinetic Throw

With your mental strength, you can pelt your enemies with whatever is at hand.

At-Will | Psionic

Standard Action | Ranged 10

Target: One object that weighs 20 pounds or less and isn't carried by another creature.

Effect: Make a ranged basic attack with combat advantage against the secondary target, using the target item as an improvised ranged weapon. You may choose to use your Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma modifier for this attack.

Secondary Target: One creature within 5 squares of the target, to which the target has line of effect.

It's still a bit fiddly, but I think it's about as clean as something like this can get. I let combat advantage apply always, because it's cute thematically and because improvised weapons pretty well suck in 4e.

I believe this should cover the faux-concealment issue, since you are still the origin square for the attack even though the actual item needs LoE to the creature.

I did fluff the range a bit, but in practice it turns out mostly the same; I don't think it's abusive that you could potentially grab something within 10 and hurl it at a creature within 5, since the attack itself is still range-limited.

I'd probably attach this to a feat or a theme; an extra at-will attack is an extra at-will attack, after all. But I don't know if I'd take it unless I really liked the idea of some wacky shenanigans.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Telekinetics shouldn't let you use a torch to deal fire damage, if just throwing or bludgeoning with that same torch wouldn't do the same." I was specifically mentioning the damge a (lit) Torch did when usedas improvised weapon. I jsut rule the thrown rock to be a "generic improvised weapon". Your version always grants combat advantage. As profficiency bonus is only +2 (rarely +3) I think your version is way more powerfull. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Feb 5 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ With regards to the torch damage, I apologise if I misunderstood you. It seemed like you were making the possible effects part of the power, but if that's not the case then sure, we had the same goal there. \$\endgroup\$ – Fox Lee Feb 6 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the rest—I never said yours was too powerful, I said it was too fiddly. However, as written, I think yours IS way more powerful, because proficiency bonus implies you can wield a weapon properly with it (as in not treating it as an improvised weapon). That allows weapon properties, enchantments/enhancement bonus, weapon spec, weapon style feats etc. Maybe that wasn't your intent (obviously the wording you used isn't final), but that's how I read it. My goal was to use the improvised weapon rules to explicitly prevent "proper" weapon use. \$\endgroup\$ – Fox Lee Feb 6 at 9:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ All those bonuses should be offset by the -5 to attack. It does not mater how much damage or effect a power could do. Only how much it does because it misses or hits. My angle was mostly to allow the Rogue one attempt to sneak-attack and use any weapons (daggers, swords, alchemical reagents) that might be lying around, without having to buy an extra power - just at the -5, so it is not overly feasible. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Feb 6 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree that the benefits would be offset by a -5, given how many builds rely heavily on specific weapon enchants or types. But I guess we have a fundamental disagreement there, so no point arguing. Also, don't forget that with mine you would still suffer a -2/-5 penalty if you're attacking something with actual cover against you, since mine doesn't change the origin square of the attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Fox Lee Feb 6 at 22:09

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