Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Grumpy Dwarf Asks: Why Drain the Life Out of Undead Energy Draining?

Foolish dwarf! Why are you reading D&D Next articles when you have serious doubts you'll ever play a session? Because, I tell myself, it might become big, or even Big (but not as BIG as D&D was in the past) and it certainly isn't 4e, which can only be a blessing.

So, why is James Wyatt taking the rusty scissors to the already shrinking private parts of the energy drain ability of certain undead? I don't mind limiting the ability to a handful of the critters, or even to just 2 (wrights and wraiths as James writes in his article), but why make the effect inconsequential?

Here's how James sees it:
A wight's most dreaded quality is its energy drain, and here's a place where we're still hammering out some details. In the current playtest bestiary, energy drain is an attack the wight can use in place of two weapon attacks, so it does less damage, but it also reduces the target's maximum hit points (limiting the effects of healing until after the target's next long rest).
Not for nothing James, but really, what's the point at this point? I like the idea of a drain to maximum HP (works even better for Vampires in my opinion, but whatever, we'll work with what we got) but a long rest does away with the effect? Whoop de frickin' do! That's not a threat.

Maximum HP are reduced until the casting of a high level spell, or a restoration potion, or a minor quest - something that actually has an effect on the party's resources. Heck, something, anything that has more of an effect than necessitating a good night's sleep. Maybe add some chicken soup to the requirements, it heals everything I've heard.

Again, it's not the effect that I have a problem with - I like this method much more than level drain. This method has no real risk for the PCs. It's not a threat. It's not something they need to overcome. It's a booboo with a slightly longer heal time.

There's no need to carebear the game to this extent. Trust me, the players will enjoy playing with a bit of actual risk. it makes success all that much better.


  1. I'm running a Pathfinder game but used an old dungeon from the Forgotten Realms accessory "Four From Cormyr." One of the encounters is a room with 18 skeletons, but also 12 wights. Wanna imagine the fright the players felt seeing all of those energy-draining undead. They freaked out. Don't think it would be the same with this crap...

  2. Sad. I thought at first that the over night healing would be ripe for houserulling out. But if more and more stuff gets hung off it, what'll be the point. I had so much hope for 5e.

  3. Dumbing Down of D&D = D&D Next ;)

  4. Although I actually like a lot of 4e, I have to agree that recovering from level drain by a night's sleep is too easy. That said, the something like the 4e disease mechanic could work nicely - after each long rest, you make a Fort check, if you fail, you worsen (on the disease track). equal the DC and you stay the same, succeed and you get better (one step along the track).


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