Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alley Oop: Teamwork Maneuvers in 4e D&D

* This post is part of the RPG Bloggers July Carnival on D&D, organized by 6d6 Fireball

Dungeons and Dragons has always been a game about teamwork, but in the 4th edition of the game it has been kicked up to the nth power. No player is left without a job to do in 4E Combat, and while they all can deal substantial damage by themselves, it is when you start using powers in concert and in certain conditions that the system really starts to stand out.

What is a Teamwork Maneuver?
A teamwork maneuver is any series of actions in combat that is enhanced by the actions of the others, or achieves some goal that it couldn't do by itself. Essentially, a teamwork maneuver is a couple of powers that when used in the right situation and order are greater than the sum of their individual parts.

Teamwork Maneuvers and Roleplay
The Fastball Special is an attack involving the X-men Colossus and Wolverine. Wolverine allows his super strong friend Colossus to toss him like a baseball at an enemy that he may otherwise be unable to reach. The move is so iconic that when Joss Whedon wrote it into Astonishing X-men he didn't even need to use dialogue to explain it.

Your team could have its own special moves, born out of a familiarity with each other and an understanding of the party's strengths and weaknesses. The combination of the cleric's Weapon of the Gods and the fighter's Tempest Dance could be called the Holy Hurricane for instance.

Example Teamwork Maneuvers
I've created a few teamwork maneuvers that you can pull out for your next game session. They all follow the same format:

Name of the Maneuver
Purpose of the Maneuver

This section describes what you need to use the maneuver, for instance: 1 lvl 3 ranger, 1 lvl 3 dragonborn paladin with the hurl breath feat.

The Setup
This section will explain what the ideal situation is for the maneuver, and to make it easier I've provided pictures. It will explain what position you and your enemies should be in before using the maneuver, and what effects or conditions have to be active to use it.

The Execution
Here you will find the step by step guide breaking down how to perform the maneuver. Each entry assumes that the last step was successful.

Super Mr Sticky
This move places an annoying enemy near the fighter, severely damaging him in the process.

1 lvl 1 Cleric
1 Fighter
A small room with only two possible exits

The Setup
Move the fighter off by himself in the middle of one exit. Then have the cleric move opposite him blocking or near another exit, keeping an enemy between them.

The Execution
1st: Have the cleric use Guardian of Faith, placing the conjuration on the same square as the fighter.
2nd: Have the cleric spend an action point and use Cause Fear, thus
forcing the opponent to attempt to rush past the fighter.
3rd: Wait for the opponent to provoke an opportunity attack from the fighter, then have the fighter attack, hitting the opponent and thus stopping him in place.
4th: The fighter should, known as Mr Sticky, can keep the enemy from moving away from him.
5th: Make an attack with the guardian of faith.
6th: Repeat steps 4 and 5 as needed.

Its Raining Dailys
When fighting a solo you need your daily attacks to hit. If you can pull this move off, it will make hitting with daily attacks a cakewalk.

1 lvl 7 Rogue with Brutal Scoundrel, wielding a light blade
1 lvl 1 Warlord with an impressive Intelligence modifier
A party with daily attacks to burn

The Setup
Flank the solo with both the rogue and the warlord, and make sure all allies are within 5 squares of the warlord. Preferably the rogue and warlord should go before the rest of the party.

The Execution
1st: Have the rogue attack with Imperiling Strike, dropping the opponent's AC and Reflex defenses by the rogue's Str Mod (should be at least 3)
2nd: Now that the enemy's defense is down, have the warlord use Lead the Attack, raising all allies' (including himself) attack bonus by 1+his Int Mod.
3rd: Start using your daily attacks, enjoy.

Trapped! By a Burning Chill
Crush your enemy with assured damage every turn.

1 lvl 1 Warlock
1 lvl 5 Warlord
1 lvl 1 Wizard
*Either the Warlock, the Warlord, or both have to be tieflings, or otherwise resistant to fire damage.

The Setup
Flank your tough opponent with both a warlord and a warlock, at least one of them should have resistance to fire damage.

The Execution
1st: Have your warlord attack the enemy with Villain's Nightmare.
2nd: Now that your villain is trapped, have your warlock use Armor of Agathys
3rd: Add insult to injury by having your Wizard cast Flaming Sphere, placing it adjacent to both the enemy and the wizard's flame retardant ally.
4th: When the enemy's turn comes up, roll damage for both Flaming Sphere and Armor of Agathys.


Chris Tregenza said...

Your comparison to X-Men / superhero team maneuvers is spot on. Thinking about it, I think 4e might have better mechanics for a superhero game than many superhero games.

In our Thursday night group, we only 3 players & a GM, playing an adventure designed for fours player. This forces us to make the most of every tactical advantage we can and that includes team work.

Our warlock has an attack (I forget which) that leaves an opponent with a -4 will, nicely setting up the foe up for my Rogue's Position Strike attack against their will. As many of the encounters areas seem to have pits, traps, or other hazard, being able to slide an opponent into a hazard is a great way of killing or disabling a major foe.

Francis Bousho said...

I've played with the smaller groups as well, and let me tell ya, combos are necessary. Positioning Strike was one of my player's favorite moves, I can't tell you how many foolish opponents were wasted by a trap or a pit that the rogue slid them into.

As for Superhero moves, I can't wait to see Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 because it uses this concept as the main gimmick mechanic of the game.

shadow said...

yes indeed you need a good strategy to be success.