Glass cannons…

My character in the campaign I’ve taken to calling the “Kirinth” campaign is a ranger named “Kataar Tarrson”. This campaign is in the fourth edition rules of Dungeons and Dragons. Fourth edition essentially breaks down the party duties into specific “roles” and different classes can perform different roles. The roles are:
– Striker: goal is to do damage to the enemy.
– Controller: goal is to manipulate the action on the battlefield to gain an advantage.
– Leader: goal is to provide support, enhancement or healing to the party
– Defender: goal is to absorb damage and pull attention away from other party members.

In fourth edition the ranger is a striker. That means Kataar’s main purpose is to deal out as much damage as possible, for as long as possible, while hoping that the leaders can keep him alive and enhanced while the defenders and controllers keep the bad guys off him.

4e rangers have an ability called “Twin Strike”. It’s an “at will” power, meaning they can do it all day long. It is essentially the 4e version of two handed fighting. The thing is, the whole point of being a striker is to rack up as many bonuses to your damage as possible, through feats, powers and magic items. And since all of those things are essentially per hit damage bonuses, rangers using twin strike get double the amount of bonuses as any other striker.

To put that in perspective, in our session yesterday Kataar was able to do 121 damage in one attack while most other strikers would need a critical hit to get that much damage. The reason Kataar’s potential damage is so high is because there are many powers that one player has which boost another player’s damage output on a per hit basis. On that single attack Kataar had two boosts to his damage from other players which gave him an additional 2d8 per attack and an additional 16 damage per attack. But because he gets two attacks, that’s doubled, so it becomes an additional 4d8 + 32 damage if he hits both times. Which he usually does. So just those two bonuses alone gave Kataar an average of 50 additional damage where another non-ranger striker would only have gotten an average of 25 additional damage. And of course Kataar has several other bonuses going at the same time.

The idea behind twin strike was that it gives two attacks, but because you can’t add in your attribute bonus, it is weaker than another at-will power which does add in attribute bonuses. But at the level we are playing now (level 18) Kataar’s attribute bonus is +5 and his typical other bonuses are +16, so his attribute bonus is a mere 1/4 of his overall bonuses, and that’s before stacking all those situational bonuses on top of that.

The down side of Kataar’s damage is that in order to get all his bonuses to damage, he typically has to be one-on-one vs a monster with nobody else in the party engaged. This leaves him exposed to being smacked down if he rolls badly and doesn’t take down his target quickly. Since most of his feats, powers and magic items are concentrated on doing damage, he doesn’t have many hit points, so he can’t take many hits before going down, and since he’s usually away from the party, he is sometimes out of healing range when he is smacked down.

I’ve never been a fan of “glass cannons”, a euphemism for a character or device that dishes out tons of hurt, but can’t take a punch. But I’m playing one now, and I have to admit, it’s fun.

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One thought on “Glass cannons…

  1. Last session Kataar managed 295 damage in one turn. That was with a major daily power (cascade of blades) an action point and some extra bonuses from our warden.

    I’m gonna haveta work hard to top that.

    But I will. 🙂

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