People love to complain about stunned and dominated. I think they can be fine, but that they have to be used sparingly and the encounter design requires special consideration when they’re included. I suppose much the same thing can be said of any game feature that puts the characters at a significant disadvantage.
The challenge is to come up with a series of conditions that live in the middle ground. They have to be debilitating enough to force a change in tactics, but they also have to not become anti-fun. With that in mind, here are my basic thoughts:
- Anything that takes actions away is probably bad. Taking away all their actions is never fun.
- Any conditions that take away actions count as Daze or Stun for the purposes of powers, class features, feats, etc. that interact with Daze or Stun.
- It is possible to obligate the character to certain actions. These actions might not be optimal or even desirous, but doing something is better than doing nothing.
- Players tolerate reduced defenses better than hitting less often. They can always heal (it’s very rare for a character to run completely out of potential healing), but missing a large percentage of the time sucks donkey balls.
- The player should have an option better than Total Defense nearly all the time.
- The player should never feel as though they have completely lost control over their character.
This version of Dominate will be much less painful, so long as there are other things for the victim to attack. I like it because it preserves the nastiness of Dominate, without completely crippling the character.
Alternatives to Dominated
The “problem” with Dominated v2 is that it does not retain the original “I force you to take actions” feel. The intent here is to restore that mechanic without stealing whole turns.
I suppose that I should have put this as a condition, but it’s an unusual mix of condition and power. I should also have put it as “once per turn.” This version is essentially a very powerful form of forced movement with the added benefit that the monster’s allies get to take a swipe at the victim.
This is a far less intrusive version of Dominate and I would feel comfortable using it in most situations, as all it does is increase the DPR of the monsters.
This ultimate version has significant potential for abuse and I would only use it on special occasions. I like the fact that the attack is powered by the monster’s standard action (which means that it isn’t puppeteering anyone else), but I would try to avoid using the same power over and over. You could always have it use a random power or limit it to encounter powers.
All the versions of Puppetry count as Dominate for the purposes of feats, class features, powers, etc.
Like Dominated v2, this condition is much less crippling than the standard version. The character will still have a crappy turn, but at least they won’t be useless or lose a whole turn.
Terrified is a new concept, but one that I think has merit. Essentially, this condition will force “tank swaps.” I suppose I should have included “Until the start of your next turn, you may not re-enter the creature’s melee reach”, but your mileage may vary.
Unbalanced makes a fine replacement for Dazed, though it is possible that your players will try to just muscle their way through the condition. That’s fine, being hit more often is a fairly severe punishment.
I was originally going to add Weakened and Slowed to this condition, but that would have been a bad idea. You can always combine it with those conditions as you see fit. I’m somewhat curious exactly how much of a penalty it is to not be able to spend action points. I don’t think it limits the character very much at all.