|Trikk Goblin Squad Member|
Oh, I dunno... it seems like there might be some RP value in the poison made by a master alchemist and applied by a master villain that very gradually reduces the HP potential toward/to/beyond zero while the victim tries to identify the poison and locate an antidote...
This is a video game and not a novel though, so I'd expect people would be getting pretty tired of logging in every day, getting poisoned and then having to spam the chat with "NEED ANTIDOTE #34225 PLZ HALP".
What is worth pointing out, is what is told/not told, is irrelevant in the context of an MMO. You mention the preference of Nethack, because it doesn't tell you everything. Guess what though, if you look up net-hack guides, every object, every item etc.... is fully detailed and accounted for. Now admitted nethack certainly has the advantage of "well you can't chose what items you get". Quite true, but well without permadeath, there's no way that can be accomplished.
Player written guides and forum discussions are far, far from information revealed by the developer. People will always try to study a game and invent new play methods. If the information is black on white, this is a much faster and accurate process, but eventually people will have studied it enough to be fairly confident about how the game works. This is not something I consider bad, but something that is good and doesn't really exist if you can just see a DPS value on each weapon for example.
Nethack is open source last time I checked, which makes it kind of silly to say that the information there is available. This game won't be open source, so comparing it to say, a MUD that doesn't allow damage numbers is better. Those eventually get deconstructed too, of course, but it's a better journey. Also, behind each guide and website there is a human being who derived enjoyment from finding stuff out and sharing it.
Likely, if there are such things as traps and they can kill or finish the job, there will have to be someone that the system can give credit/debit to. Assassins killing with traps! Yah!!!
If traps can kill people (one-shot?) by themselves then they will become mandatory pretty quickly, if other multiplayer games are anything to go by. Even if they are completely obvious, having something lay about that can kill someone is a huge tactical advantage.
Maybe it's just me, but I like when games are a bit mysterious and everything isn't delivered on a platter for you. I prefer an RPG like Nethack over an RPG like Diablo 3, and an FPS like Quake over an FPS like Borderlands 2. Games that don't show you exact, scientific data over every possible equipment choice makes it much more fun to try different things.
Eve Online is called Spreadsheets in Space by many, because that's mostly how you play it. You look at spreadsheets, determine dps and there's very little mystique to playing it. There's an optimal way to play and very many bad ways of playing. If you come to a fleet with a ship that has a unique fitting, people will mostly ridicule you because it's not the mathematically most efficient way of doing what you are doing.
I think this is unavoidable if you add all the stats easily accessible to the player. It's like allowing your players to read the Bestiary and Gamemaster Guide in pen and paper. If someone decides to use sub-optimal weaponry and such, everyone will immediately trash him and there will be no point in making characters that are not optimized. This issue is only exacerbated in a hardcore PvP ruleset MMO like this will be.
Additional Traits is by far my favorite. Traits feel more flavorful than feats and some even give you abilities that feats can't. Especially useful for those campaigns where the GM doesn't allow you traits at level 1. I don't know if it's necessarily the "best", but it's definitely usable for every character that isn't desperate for feat slots to make their build work.
Terms, Trikk. My entire post (of which you quoted only a snippet) was about avoiding value-laden terms.. No one has objected to the use of the terms skimpy or full-coverage; these seem to be neutral terms to use. Use of value-laden terms beyond that (and I'm not going to list any as that will simply open another can of worms) doesn't move the discussion anywhere and fosters a negative environment.
No need to quote your full post when it's right above mine on the same page.
I don't see how the terms I've used have been more value-laden than:
This is all very subjective language. I think my language has been far more objective and nuanced, not painting either option as super bad and mean.
You just nailed every male who plays a female character. Good job and I completely agree. If you play a female character, you are pretending to be a woman and using the female body as a toy for your sexual fetish. Spot on post! Bravo!
So you agree with me that this should not only apply to the armor worn by female characters but in fact every aspect of the game. You know, to be consistent and not singling out a gender for restrictions based on arbitrary limitations in a fantasy game.
Proxima Sin wrote:
But there's no purpose for specific designs of armor in a video game except to please the viewer. Armor doesn't actually protect you: code does. Again, why are we limiting this to armor worn by women? I think that's the interesting point here. Why no outcry against impractical swords, impractical mounts or illogical inventory?
It is very clearly a preference being manifested here, otherwise all points would be equally addressed. There is some agenda against skimpy armors for women here, quite clearly.
I'd add a caveat to (2), (3) and (4): Skimpy armor should be equally skimpy on both genders, and full-coverage armor should be equally full-coverage on both genders. Armor should not be skimpy on females/full-coverage on males or vice versa.
Pointless caveat when that's all that's been suggested. Nobody is suggesting that only women should get skimpy outfits. I am pretty sure I've read every post in this thread and I've not seen anyone suggesting what you imply.
The sohei weap/ arm prof replaces the monks which says you cannot flurry in armor. The AC bonus entry is separate and states you don't get the AC bonus in armor, but you can still flurry with a monk weapon as long as it is simple or martial. That is the RaW fact of the matter. When you hit lvl 6 you can flurry with a non monk weapon as long as it falls in the fighters weapon group that you select.
It doesn't say anywhere that it replaces the proficiency entry unlike with other archetypes. Look at the fighter archetype Cad. Is he not proficient with any weapon or armor? This is where your RAW argument is destroyed.
Neither RAW nor RAI supports that it is "instead of" (like how other archetypes have worded it) rather than simply adding to the proficiency of the base class.
The drawbacks of rogues are not only mechanical but the style of character and play that the class inspires. If we are talking a straight rogue and not just dipping for some other purpose, it's very often in my experience a lone wolf type character that sneaks ahead in advance. Sounds cool with a recon in the group, right?
The problem is that the rogue has no knowledge. Unless metagaming, he doesn't know that the troll has 30' of scent. He doesn't know when enemies can detect him and worse yet, he can't detect anyone that's hiding in some non-mundane way. Going off solo as a non-magic user in Pathfinder usually ends in pain.
Many of the traps seem to be off the charts in terms of DC to find, which is why you'd rather have a full party of players all searching than just a single die roll, even if it has higher bonus. If a trap is triggered and the rogue is alone there might be a problem once again.
Once there's combat, the rogue will often actively put himself in horrific danger "because I get to sneak attack". A rogue also needs the flank to have a fair shot at hitting anything. Rogues don't get particularly high AC unless they want to deal no damage at all, once again a weakness compared to the medium or heavy armor wearing melee combatants.
Rogues simply don't have the defenses, senses or offensive capability to back up the kind of character people who pick the class are inspired to play. To be an effective rogue you need to stay with the party and you are much more reliant on your comrades than other classes. This is clearly in direct conflict with the literary archetype of the rogue/thief/assassin/sneaky boy that people see before themselves when they roll up their character.
I'm sure you can be an effective rogue, winning the DPR olympics is hardly relevant in most campaigns, but I don't think you'll be effective in the role that most people seem to attribute to the class. Don't stop thinking tactically just because you can get a couple of d6s worth of extra damage from a certain position.
Sohei monk 6/ rogue whatever else. Wis should be low so you can wear chain shirt, and still flurry with daggers as a full bab class. Plenty sneaky, and the original character is kind of monastic anyway.
This relies on his GM allowing him to flurry in light armor which Sohei doesn't expressly allow. It's definitely not RAI and there's a very weak RAW argument for it.
Richter Bones wrote:
Which I agree, but if you already know then all I'm saying is that you are allowed to skip the survey. I still agree that it is a good idea, just that you needn't be forced to do it if you already know how to play your alignment.
And now we are back to my original reply: allowing players who by their own definition "already know" to skip this information will just cause headaches.
An example from PnP would be when someone jumps into a campaign mid-way with a character that acts completely opposite to what others with the same alignment has acted throughout the whole game. "But this is how I play all my Chaotic Neutrals!"
Another example is when a game changes how a feature works that is common in the genre but specifically different for this particular games. You'll get endless crying about how people "survive three headshots" when there are no headshot hitboxes in the game.
Whether or not there is a survey will not affect the game itself, of course, but it will definitely reduce how much crap the forum will get filled by, either by people who skipped it "because they don't care" or because "they already knew". I suspect the most common complaint will be that people turn neutral rather than stay in one of the four corners (LGCGLECE).
You simply cannot "know" how something is designed without looking at the design itself or reading about it. The fact that the pen and paper game also has an alignment system means nothing.
No one has objected to "skimpy"
Actually, a lot of people are objecting to skimpy armor, either wanting them completely left out of the game or at least giving a harsh penalty to whoever chooses to wear it.
From the OP:
"IF YOU WANT YOUR MALE OR FEMALE CHARACTER TO LOOK SEXY THERE ARE WAYS TO DO THAT -IT'S A SANDBOX- JUST NOT WITH THE COMBAT PROTECTION."
So no combat protection if you wish to be less than fully covered. Skimpy armor should be in a "corner", with the OP's taste as the "norm".
"Sexier armor and other types of wardrobe can be electives in the realm of specialized crafting or cash shop."
All women (and of course men playing female characters) can enjoy spending real money to dress up their character in the style they like because we need to incentives for people to wear the gear that the OP prefers.
Then of course there are other posters flat out saying that there should be no skimpy armors at all. How this counts as "no one has objected" is a mystery to me.
Richter Bones wrote:
As I envision this survey (or tutorial or video or interpretative dance - whatever medium it is in), it will communicate to you how different actions will cause your alignment to shift depending on circumstances. I.e. it will be a briefing or intro to how the game determines your alignment. If you skip it and think "I'm NG", the game doesn't care. The game doesn't care if you know which results your actions will have or not. It only hurts you to not know how the game defines alignment.
Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
I like when visuals corresponds to stats. It gives more meaning to graphics.
Character models based on physical stats. Elaborate weapon designs giving penalties to attack rolls. Only species bred for riding can be turned into mounts. First person view only. Helmets limit vision. No grid inventory or perfectly arranged bags.
Let's be consequential about this, if we're not just saying "no bikinis for women". If we're not just arguing taste and arbitrary lines of what is acceptable graphics in a fantasy MMORPG, these are features we should all demand. Don't stop at restricting women's bodies and clothing options or punishing them for their choices.
Do we want everything to be logical, practical and reflect reality or do we want to cherry-pick who has to abide by those rules and who can ignore them for fun? I see no difference between a chainmail bikini and a sword from the manga Berserk. Neither would exist on a real battlefield and both are popular in character portraits.
Richter Bones wrote:
I think you need to check yourself. No one is saying that your actions post character creation won't affect your alignment. This topic is about adding a questionnaire during character creation to help determine your character's alignment.
How does that invalidate anything of what I've said? That's the assumption of every post I've made in this thread. If players skip the survey, then they will get upset when their alignment changes based on their actions. We see it in PnP all the time and I don't think a video game will be better able to judge actions than a human GM.
If your character's alignment is affected by actions post-character creation then the best help you can give a player is advice during character creation.
Just like in PnP when the GM will tell you what he considers lawful, chaotic, good and evil. The game has to do the same or there will be endless controversy and rage on the forums. It's inevitable. Especially by people who assume that they already know how the game will determine alignment.
Very simple logic.
I think actually a mix of combat between (original) Fallout (specifically the action points pool) and Neverwinter Nights (where you only actually perform an action every 6 seconds and can queue up and change the actions occurring next) would be great. This would take out most of the twitch aspect and really focus more on tactics and strategy.
It would also cement the status quo, just like in those games. Opponent does more dps than you? Well, try running then. Oh, he moves faster? Then there's no way of beating him.
In other words, a system like that would guarantee that those who play the most and have built the strongest characters will dominate and bully everyone else.
If you plan on sitting at the top with the best character possible, I can definitely understand why you'd prefer a system like that. For the casual player it would be a complete nightmare as you could never go out in the countryside alone because of the super-strong PK bandits with superior characters and gear.
Much like in EVE, where your only hope is that the veterans you meet are too busy to bother killing you.
And there are still going to be players who (a) don't want to have to fill out a survey before they play the game and (b) if forced to, will simply force the system to give them the answer they want. Stupid or not, that's human nature. Forcing a one-size-fits-all approach, be it survey, tutorial, or sidebar, is going to anger people unnecessarily. (As is "instruct(ing) you how to act", so you may want to reword that.)
If you are angered by the alignment system or your actions being rated independently of your opinion then you should not play the game. You have to act a certain way to stay a certain alignment if the alignment system is based on your actions. Otherwise the alignment system is pure fluff. This is simple logic and shouldn't be hard to understand.
So, again, if you force the survey to give you the answer you want then it's the same as forcing a tailor to give you a suit in a specific size, even after he measured you and told you what size you are. Nobody is going to be negatively affected by it except you, the stubborn player who refuses to cooperate with the alignment system.
I remember the gypsy lady in Ultima IV (yeah... I'm old...) that basically did what the OP is asking for. I think that would be a great option for players that chose it. However, I am very much opposed to forcing players to go through any particular method of creating their character. If this kind of thing is forced on players, they will simply repeat the process with different answers until they get the alignment they wanted - but they'll be getting frustrated with the game the whole time.
I don't think you understand the proposition. Gaming the answers to get your preferred alignment as a result would be incredibly stupid, as you would then turn to whichever alignment your actions take you eventually anyway. All you would be doing then would be cheating your self. The whole point of this is to instruct you how to act while revealing who you will become by your actions.
The single feature cited by people as being the worst part of EVE is what you'd like this game to adapt? Interesting. Even by many long-time players of EVE, that game is called "Spreadsheets in Space" for a reason. You press a couple of keys and then watch the combat happen. Before combat starts, either you or your opponent will have tried fleeing because you usually know the outcome beforehand. Once you are actually fighting, the winner is determined long before the fight is over.
I think the single biggest mistake in design for this game would to make the combat boring, slow and not engaging. As for people who think this would be great because it doesn't require reaction time or player skill, see EVE if you think this is a casual-friendly combat system.
Richter Bones wrote:
I always wished I could skip the questions when playing Fallout: NV because I already knew what I wanted my character to be. I think it is a good idea, it will help new players get their bearings and help role-players to help define their characters. However, leave the option to skip it for those of us who know exactly what we want.
And then we'll have endless of "bawwww my character's alignment is bugged" threads because everyone knows exactly how alignment works and obviously if their actions make their character stray from their alignment, there's something wrong with the game (or GM if we are talking PnP).
Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
Why is it so scary to allow women to choose how to dress? This seems like what it all boils down to. We're not discussing whether men should be afforded the choice, because that's obviously a given. However, women should cover themselves up because gosh darn it we can't have gear designed with unrealistic attributes! *puts away 2' wide greatsword and rides away on giant bat*
The conditions are given in the description: "When dealing with creatures native to that terrain" so if you encounter them outside their native habitat, yes even then but not against creatures you encounter in that terrain but are not native to it.
1) Does "dealing with" mean fighting or can it be a party member or ally?
2) Some abilities seem pretty pointless then, like:
Ethereal Plane: The walker gains ethereal jaunt as a spell-like ability once per day (caster level equal to the character’s level). He must be at least 7th level before selecting this power.
Also it becomes very dangerous in certain situations, like if you use the Plane of Water ability and the creature native to that plane die... you're stuck at the bottom of the ocean!
Simple question here.
Terrain Mastery wrote:
Mastery of each terrain has additional benefits, outlined below; these benefits apply to the horizon walker at all times whether or not he is in the relevant terrain.
There's no text like the above for Terrain Dominance, so should the additional benefits you get from TD work even while outside the relevant terrain or not?
Immunity to fatigue for a 3 level dip is pretty nice for Barbarians.
There is absolutely nothing in the rules that states how much of your body has to be covered for a particular AC. Dodge is a type of bonus with associated rules, but DEX doesn't give you a dodge bonus to AC so you can clearly dodge with AC without having a dodge type bonus. Armors can look any way you like; the system isn't that specific. It is never specified if your armor fully absorbed a blow, deflected it or if you moved out of the way.
The main issue with trying to stop humans with a system is that the humans you want to stop will be the ones hardest trying to circumvent the system. A player not interested in PKing won't be motivated to study the ins and outs of the system, while someone interested in that activity will have the information advantage.
1) Either through manipulation or just by gathering a large amount of players in a similar situation, they could get their reputation to the positives. Hell, maybe more positive than most average players.
2) Full protection for gankers. Been tried in a ton of different games and that is always the outcome. Also makes it useless to craft or do any non-combat activity outside these places.
3) This works decently in EVE but can still be used to scam newer or just less aware players. Not a deterrent to ganking at all as people just put on their "suicide suits" and kill you or find some way for you to become the aggressor.
4) Gankers have alts that aren't criminals standing next to them so any AoE or unintentional hit will cause you to be flagged. Congratulations now you can be looted by the "innocent" alts.
5) This is a more player-driven system which is why it is one of the better ideas they've come up with. Of course, it doesn't protect anyone either.
6) This is detailed, which makes it more likely to hit the "right" players, but at the same time the details cause it to be less newbie-friendly and usable against players who haven't taken the time to study ganking deterrents.
7) Not really an anti-ganking measure (and I would not call it anti-griefing either since they've stated that actions considered griefing are bannable).
I think the best choice is to leave the "law" up to the players as much as possible. The safest I've ever been in any of these kinds of games has been in the base of my clan or guild. Yes, solo players are more at risk than others. That's simply something you have to consider when you choose to play solo.
Yep, you definitely read my post.
I fear that the OP has a legitimate point in that players should not be forced to dress their characters in gear that they hate the looks of or is afraid to get aroused by, but isn't willing to let other players get the same treatment and thus risks everything by trying to get it 100% their way.
Do you want people to have a choice or are you happy with the designers making all choices for you as long as they choose what you would have chosen? Or in other words: are you looking for everyone to be happy or just yourself?
Also, I hope the people suggesting that the looks of armor defines its AC are not PnPers - it's quite clear that AC is completely abstract just like hit points are. You can say that a chainmail bikini or fullplate thong allows less mass to aim at or simply allows the wearer easier dodges. That's fine in the tabletop so I don't see how it would be a huge deal in a video game.
Just look at character art for the pen and paper game. Not just official art but fan art people have made of their own characters. It's not all "practical and logical armors", but very varied and more dependent on who the character is in their story than which particular AC their armor allows. No GM will say "I can clearly see part of your belly in this picture you drew, so I'm lowering your AC by 5".
I hope nobody here was under the impression that skimpy clothing is put into MMORPGs for the sake of the male population alone. Some of the games I've played allow you to dress however you like, even design your own clothes, with no impact on stats at all. It's definitely true that women do not exclusively prefer to dress in practical and logical outfits when they're firing bazookas at minivans or whirlwinding through a swarm of kobolds. I would dare say that it's not even the norm to dress as a heavily armored character if there's no mechanical bias for it.
Just add a few options for how you see other players:
Puritanical - covers all bare skin
There are many games that have had grand promises, delivered, but still had a disappointed fanbase. It comes down to how you set your expectations and what you imagine when you hear someone talk about a game.
I think a lot of people here need to realize that in an MMORPG, you cannot become the god that you can be in a pen and paper campaign. You are one player in a game with at least thousands of others.
One thing I'm definitely sure about is that this game will be a social game more than anything. Friends and connections will let you experience everything, while a secluded player will not be able to wage war on kingdoms or kill the grandest dragons.
You must gather your party before venturing forth.
It was an unclear issue until Jiggy took the time to actually quote some relevant rules. You simply stated the rules without any explanation. That's not helpful at all in making people understand.
The measuring stick that I mentioned earlier. In Pathfinder we always count each full square instead of border to border (as I learned from this thread) but in real life we always count distances from edge to edge:
IRL: I'm 5' away from a wall if there's room for a 5' stick between me and the wall. I'm not 5' away from a wall if I'm leaning on it.
Pathfinder: I'm 5' away from a wall if I bump into it. I'm more than 5' away from a wall if I can't lean on it.
To say that this isn't problematic is just ignorant. Any rules that are written for those that know the rules will always be unclear. This could easily be reworded to be much clearer:
"If your target is at least 10 feet away from the nearest friendly character"
"If your target is not adjacent to any friendly character"
"If your target is not within 5 feet of any friendly character"
I'm actually fairly skeptical of the PvP need to be able to identify a character's role based on the armor they're wearing. Hopefully, it will be possible to identify what someone is capable of doing by seeing what they're doing, rather than what they're wearing.
Information and deception are two of the most important factors in tactical combat. If I can make myself appear as weak and fragile that will affect my opponent's decisions. Maybe he doesn't attack because I look too poor to be worth it, letting me pass by unharmed with all my hidden riches, or maybe he attacks because he thinks I'm easy prey, not knowing that my sackcloth breeches and worn tunic is actually +15 Dragon Armor of The Demon Lords and Kings of the Underworld that I just put a beggar's outfit skin on.
Once it's possible to identify my armor class by my actions in combat it might be too late to escape, and that will in turn just make combat too random and predetermined with even more trump cards than the typical factors (i.e. player skill, character build, etc). It's of course also highly unrealistic and possibly immersion breaking if our lad in rags dishes out huge damage with a wooden ladle (reskinned Holy Avenger +95).
The only argument I find valid about preferring a certain style of armor in a fantasy setting is for PvP. As a PvPer, I want to be able to identify who is wearing huge physical-damage-mitigating pieces of steel on their chest and who is walking around in steel grey wool pajamas.
Of course this doesn't block any restyling you may prefer, it could simply be an option to only display friends and allies in their vanity gear while all enemies are in their true gear. No need to tell people what they can and can't wear because it's not "practical" (which almost sounds like it's supposed to mean a different word that starts and ends in the same letters...)
Harad Navar wrote:
I don't see why your taste is superior and should automatically be the norm, forcing people who want to look different to spend time specializing in some craft they might be completely uninterested in - or worse - forcing them to pay real money.
How would you feel if "practical/logical" armor was only attainable through the cash shop and the default look only encompassed Conan style loincloths and bikinis?
And let's take it further: not only should armor be logical but also appearances. You want to run a max strength Fighter? Congratulations, you're now a pile of muscle.
Looking at the art style of Pathfinder, I'd say there's going to be a healthy mix of all the fantasy tropes we are used to and I hope they don't cater to one group and make their taste the norm while making anyone who dislikes your idea of good looks pay extra fees.
Proxima Sin wrote:
IF YOU WANT YOUR MALE OR FEMALE CHARACTER TO LOOK SEXY THERE ARE WAYS TO DO THAT -IT'S A SANDBOX- JUST NOT WITH THE COMBAT PROTECTION.
Why can't a girl wear her high heels into combat and get +9 AC from her fullplate thong? Oppression!
I've seen a lot of games promise "formations" or similar features, but I've never seen in pulled off.
People often try to set up formations for RP purposes in various games, but it's incredibly difficult to hold a formation while moving. This leads me to believe that formations would either have to be very loosely formed or controlled by a single player.
His full person is never in melee combat and he will only gain bonus for cover but the archers will never take a penalty to hit him because he's not fighting in melee.
Spell Slingin' Steve wrote:
This is the situation I had in mind:
Blue F being fighters with reach weapons, green F just having any old non-reach weapon and yellow R being rangers with bows or other ranged weaponry.
He can't move anywhere to get into melee combat, which to me is strange but is RAW.
I will concede that Jiggy is correct, due to the rules using the same definition of "10 feet away" there.
However, I still think the language used is wrong.
10 feet away can be broken down into "x units distance from you".
What's the most basic way of measuring a distance? A measuring stick.
Take a 5' measuring stick and measure the distance of 5' from a wall to you. Are you standing in the closest 5' square to the wall?
Take a 10' measuring stick and repeat the process. Is there only one 5' square to the wall now?
Because the reach rules are so well understood and use the same language, I will however admit that the rules mean what the consensus has been in this thread all along, but I maintain that it is worded incorrectly.
If I say that I'm sitting 2' from my monitor, I don't mean the top of my head to the center of the monitor, I mean that the distance from the closest point of the monitor to the closest point of me is 2'.
Again, by the rules, this is wrong, so maybe I just English bad speak wrong.
Spell Slingin' Steve wrote:
This effectively means that a large creature that is standing somewhere in a 3x3 grid, completely surrounded by enemies fighting him, can never be in melee combat to avoid getting shot without penalty. In fact, anyone being attacked with or attacking with reach is never in melee combat.
That, to me, is completely absurd and only works if you count people standing adjacent to you (i.e. at minimal distance from you) as standing 5' away, which is the consequence of interpreting 10' away as standing with one square between you.
I will keep counting distances from the borders rather than the middle, as you do in every other case, until someone can find a quote that says you should count from the middle of squares.
If 5' away means adjacent, why not use that language? We already have a term for it so why would they use different language to describe "not adjacent" by saying 10' away?
Someone who is in the square next to you is as close as possible to you, not 5' away. Similarly, you only need a stick that's 5' long to poke someone "10' away" according to this inconsistent definition.
This would be an incredible buff to ranged as it would make Precise Shot practically useless in itself and only taken for pre-requisites. Just equip your whole party with reach weapons and they are never considered in melee as long as they can 5' step after their attacks.
Reach weapon only puts you 5 feet away from enemies, not 10 feet as required by the rule. You get the -4 even if there's an empty square between your friend and the foe if either one is being threatened by the other one.
this for example is incorrect:
Adjacent squares are 5 feet away. If they are one space further (i.e. using a Reach weapon), they are 10 feet away.
If you are adjacent you are adjacent, i.e. there's no distance from you to your target when your square is bordering the enemy's square. Note that "away" and "within" mean different things. Someone can be 5 feet away from you without being within 5 feet.