4E Bard teases enemies to death


4th Edition

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Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Well, to be fair, I suppose I was using you as a proxy to those other elements of the thread more violently opposed the power, and for that I apologize. I mostly responded to you in particular because I thought Arcmagik had a good point about spell components, and looking back on your posts so far, it would probably have been better directed at someone else.

I'm perfectly fine with this. You made nice points and I feel somewhat privileged to have such good points directed at myself.


Blazej wrote:
It seems clear that your view of the complaints within this thread are much different from what I see here. You don't seem to take into account that "It's psychic damage" doesn't solve the issues people have with it. Your first conclusion seems to be that posters are ignoring that this power does psychic damage as opposed to the conclusion that they saw it and it didn't solve their problem.

I would take into account the complaints if it seemed that people were not ignoring the "psychic damage" part for the "Why does this power exist? How the heck can someone be wounded physical by mockery?" (If we assume that HP is all physical to begin with anyways).

I haven't not seen a single poster complaining about the power say anything about the fact that it is a psychic damage power and only about the "This power is silly because it deals damage with insults, that is stupid and unrealistic, no one is going to take damage from an insult." even though truthfully it may be hurtful if I called someone names and even widdle down their HP until they decide it isn't worth it anymore and give up the fight (for whatever the "fight" is. I would use real-world examples but they probably aren't politically correct and have more to due with mental stability then fantasyland HP).

Or if a poster directly responded to a post about the psychic damage as in "I know it is psychic damage but that doesn't matter because the power is still silly and unrealistic" of course that would completely strange to me considering that fact that psychic damage is fantasy and unrealistic to begin with, but I can partially understand the "Silly" part but that would seem to be on a case-by-case basis per group more then not as not every group/player is going to take this power and use it as an excuse to be silly or deliver jokes.


Arcmagik wrote:

I would take into account the complaints if it seemed that people were not ignoring the "psychic damage" part for the "Why does this power exist? How the heck can someone be wounded physical by mockery?" (If we assume that HP is all physical to begin with anyways).

I haven't not seen a single poster complaining about the power say anything about the fact that it is a psychic damage power and only about the "This power is silly because it deals damage with insults, that is stupid and unrealistic, no one is going to take damage from an insult." even though truthfully it may be hurtful if I called someone names and even widdle down their HP until they decide it isn't worth it anymore and give up the fight (for whatever the "fight" is. I would use real-world examples but they probably aren't politically correct and have more to due with mental stability then fantasyland HP).

Or if a poster directly responded to a post about the psychic damage as in "I know it is psychic damage but that doesn't matter because the power is still silly and unrealistic" of course that would completely strange to me considering that fact that psychic damage is fantasy and unrealistic to begin with, but I can partially understand the "Silly" part but that would seem to be on a case-by-case basis per group more then not as not every group/player is going to take this power and use it as an excuse to be silly or deliver jokes.

From my point of view, you seem to be the one imposing a "The words are cutting people to ribbons literally" on all the complaints. Most don't even bother going that far, rather just saying that they don't like it and will change or remove it. I reiterate my belief the only reason they are ignoring the fact that it is a power that deals psychic damage is that it is irrelavent to their problem, and demanding that they respond to a 4-word post carries a heavy trace of ego.

I suspect that if the power dealt fire damage it would be a similar problem (make them hot under the collar even), if it dealt cold damage it would me a similar problem (your words chilled them to the bone), and so on. The type of damage does not impact the silliness of the power.

Scarab Sages

I think people are wary of the power because of the potential to derail the session into a joke competition between the players.

A 'Death Scream' power could be adjudicated in seconds; roll CHA vs WILL, boom, deal sonic damage. Next!

Players using this power will want to roleplay the insult, leading to tit-for-tat responses, out of initiative order, or reminiscing about their favourite TV shows.
It's a known fact that any Monty Python quote, in a room full of geeks (of any species) will kill at least half an hour.

Or the player isn't that inventive, leading to delays while they try to salvage something witty to say.

DM: "You sir, are beneath my contempt. I should not have to waste my efforts on a lap-dog to a slip of a girl!"

PC Bard: "Huh? Errrr...Better a lap-dog to a slip of a girl, than a...errm...a...A GIT!"


Is it sad that this power has sparked more interest in 4th edition for me than every other little bit and nibble put together since it's inception?

I can only look at it from a 3rd edition standpoint. Which means even as an at will power, its still a power, effectively a spell/bardic music/whatever ability.

If a bard in 3rd edition wanted to use some sort of vicious lampoon against an enemy, and was willing to make a perform (comedy) check and spend a bardic music, I'd let something happen. Heck, don't bards get Phantasmal Killer? Is it more appropros that the singing dude in the tight pants shows them their worst fear with magic, or cracks a joke so mean it works them up to the point of a heart attack and then the magic pushes them over the edge?


Blazej wrote:

From my point of view, you seem to be the one imposing a "The words are cutting people to ribbons literally" on all the complaints. Most don't even bother going that far, rather just saying that they don't like it and will change or remove it. I reiterate my belief the only reason they are ignoring the fact that it is a power that deals psychic damage is that it is irrelavent to their problem, and demanding that they respond to a 4-word post carries a heavy trace of ego.

I suspect that if the power dealt fire damage it would be a similar problem (make them hot under the...

Granted, the vast majority of complaints are of this type and even some of the reasonable responses haven't really talked about the psychic damage. The only big one was the third post "I don't care if it is laced with magic, it is still silly." then someone about insults coming from teenage televisions shows in response to "It isn't just normal insults. Its magical insults." I also was not the one to make the first post about the psychic damage and that post was certainly not 4-words and it seemed to get ignored thoughout the remaining thread which prompted me to make my 4-word post so no, I didn't demand nor expect people respond to the 4-word post as the psychic damage had already been mentioned.


NockerGeek wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll be either revamping or simply cutting this power from my game.
Same here. This power just about killed my enthusiasm for the 4e Bard. Thing is, if it were the description for an encounter or daily power, it wouldn't bother me so much, but it seems ridiculous for an at-will. I can't get out of my mind the image of Triumph the Insult Bard slaughtering a room full of minions by pointing out their shortcomings one at a time.

My take as well - if its a daily it kind of makes sense in a 'magical attack' sort of way. Bard makes nasty magically enhanced ridicule of bad guy and blammo something really nasty befalls bad guy. But having it go off all of the time makes it cheap fodder for really bad jokes.


I quite like the idea behind it, and it fits with the bardic traditions. There are plenty of Celtic legends of bards who could insult someone so viciously it would raise weals on their faces - just imagine doing that a lot of times until the poor sod is wealed to death.

That said, I don't much care for the name. Why not just retitle it Word of Wounding or something?

Vicious Mockery sounds more appropriate for an ability that applies a negative condition to the target (i.e. they're so infuriated they can't fight properly) or compels them in some way (i.e. they move towards the bard to wreak their revenge).

Or how about both? The insulted party must either suffer condition X or be pulled Y squares towards the bard.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
NockerGeek wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll be either revamping or simply cutting this power from my game.
Same here. This power just about killed my enthusiasm for the 4e Bard. Thing is, if it were the description for an encounter or daily power, it wouldn't bother me so much, but it seems ridiculous for an at-will. I can't get out of my mind the image of Triumph the Insult Bard slaughtering a room full of minions by pointing out their shortcomings one at a time.
My take as well - if its a daily it kind of makes sense in a 'magical attack' sort of way. Bard makes nasty magically enhanced ridicule of bad guy and blammo something really nasty befalls bad guy. But having it go off all of the time makes it cheap fodder for really bad jokes.

But its still a magical attack, all the Bard powers are. Think of it this way:

You're insulting a guy to give him a -2 to his attack. (That's what the power does, it doesn't just hurt people). You're using bardic magic to force an emotional response to the insult, and since you're magically mucking about in his brain meats, you cause some incidental damage to him.

If you're worried about players coming up with insults every time they use the power, I would have to ask, are you also worried about them singing 'songs of war and victory' every time they use 'War Song Strike'?


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
But its still a magical attack, all the Bard powers are.

All of the Paladin powers are divine and all the Barbarian powers are primal, however some of their powers seem more martial than others. Similarly, some Bard powers seem less magical than others despite having the Arcane keyword.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I personally believe that if the name or the concept is that hard for someone to "get over" then no amount of discussion will persuade them, and I personally believe they shouldn't even bother opening up the Bard class at all. You've chosen to attach a ridiculous or cartoon image to the power. While it may be a completely acceptable response from you, to be honest the onus is on you to make it work. When I see it, I see someone strumming a lute, spewing forth not humorous comments, but stream after stream of vitriol, with the person on the end facing a vicious mental assault. Perhaps something in the power allows the bard to see some personal character flaw the bard can take advantage of. The hammering rhythm of the lute, the bard's sneering face, the relentless spitting of character flaws ... That truly IS role playing.

Sorry, but that's truth.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

And Pathfinder Bards have Deadly Performance as their capstone ability at class level 20. As written you're making such a spectacular performance that your target dies of extreme sorrow or joy, but the idea isn't very different from the 4e one at all. If the concept of a dangerous or deadly performance is silly, then it's not just WotC doing it. Paizo's just as guilty.

(Personally, I'd give a +2 bonus to the save DC if somebody can quote the entire Monty Python "World's Deadliest Joke" in the (nonsensical) German.)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Blazej wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
But its still a magical attack, all the Bard powers are.
All of the Paladin powers are divine and all the Barbarian powers are primal, however some of their powers seem more martial than others. Similarly, some Bard powers seem less magical than others despite having the Arcane keyword.

True, but the Primal power source is kind of weird, and the Paladin ones that feel martial are generally strength based, or at least involve swinging a sword at a guy.

This power is called a spell, its charisma based, it even mentions magic in its flavor text. I get why some people might not pick up a magicy vibe off Vicious Mockery, after all, Bards do kind of blur the line between whats magic and whats mundane with their whole music=magic schtick, but I thought that it was worth pointing out the magical elements of the attack.

Here's a thought I just had:

What if the power was called So-and-So's Vicious Mockery? Would the power still feel silly or weird, or would it feel like a proper Bardic spell?


TigerDave wrote:
I personally believe that if the name or the concept is that hard for someone to "get over" then no amount of discussion will persuade them, and I personally believe they shouldn't even bother opening up the Bard class at all. You've chosen to attach a ridiculous or cartoon image to the power.

This. While I can sympathize with those who feel players will use this as an excuse to crack poor jokes all session, I think those that honestly feel it is unrealistic or silly are simply looking at it with a very biased few, and I don't think anyone other than themselves can change that.


Kvantum wrote:
And Pathfinder Bards have Deadly Performance as their capstone ability at class level 20. As written you're making such a spectacular performance that your target dies of extreme sorrow or joy, but the idea isn't very different from the 4e one at all. If the concept of a dangerous or deadly performance is silly, then it's not just WotC doing it. Paizo's just as guilty.

And I do recall people complaining back then as well (At least, I think that some of them were directed at this similar issue rather than being against Save-or-Die).

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Blazej wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
But its still a magical attack, all the Bard powers are.
All of the Paladin powers are divine and all the Barbarian powers are primal, however some of their powers seem more martial than others. Similarly, some Bard powers seem less magical than others despite having the Arcane keyword.

True, but the Primal power source is kind of weird, and the Paladin ones that feel martial are generally strength based, or at least involve swinging a sword at a guy.

This power is called a spell, its charisma based, it even mentions magic in its flavor text. I get why some people might not pick up a magicy vibe off Vicious Mockery, after all, Bards do kind of blur the line between whats magic and whats mundane with their whole music=magic schtick, but I thought that it was worth pointing out the magical elements of the attack.

Being Charisma based isn't a strong indicator for me as many powers that involve talking and affecting someone with your words and gestures would likely be Charisma based despite being non-magical. Intimidate and Diplomacy are Charisma based without being magical.

I think that this was also present in 3e as well, I suspect that the bard inspiring party members to greater strength with music and song wouldn't really be considered that magical despite it being listed a supernatural ability and described as magical.

TigerDave wrote:
I personally believe that if the name or the concept is that hard for someone to "get over" then no amount of discussion will persuade them, and I personally believe they shouldn't even bother opening up the Bard class at all.

I find this statement somewhat infurirating. It seems to fall for me in the same category of "You are playing D&D wrong. Your opinion doesn't matter, go away," type statements.

"Because you don't like this power, I don't think you should even look at the class."

Why not, "because you don't like this class, I don't think you should play 4e?"

Bah!

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Blazej wrote:


Being Charisma based isn't a strong indicator for me as many powers that involve talking and affecting someone with your words and gestures would likely be Charisma based despite being non-magical. Intimidate and Diplomacy are Charisma based without being magical.

Yes, alone, being Charisma based alone isn't enough to call it magical. However, in the context of the other elements I mentioned (it being a called a spell, etc.), I feel it makes a pretty solid connection (in my brain at least) with the Bard's spellcasting abilities in 3.5, which were tied the Charisma.


I agree.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Blazej wrote:


Tiger Dave wrote:
I personally believe that if the name or the concept is that hard for someone to "get over" then no amount of discussion will persuade them, and I personally believe they shouldn't even bother opening up the Bard class at all.

I find this statement somewhat infurirating. It seems to fall for me in the same category of "You are playing D&D wrong. Your opinion doesn't matter, go away," type statements.

"Because you don't like this power, I don't think you should even look at the class."

Why not, "because you don't like this class, I don't think you should play 4e?"

Bah!

I'm sorry that you feel this way. It is, however, a matter of interpretation. If someone is unable to grasp how "words can kill", which is a foundation stone of the Bard class, then how can you honestly plan to interpret the Bard? Seriously, and without feeling insulted or infuriated, evaluate this thought. If you cannot justify that a Bard is able to lace his song with damaging spellpower, and if you cannot interpret the power so named as something other than silly, then I don't think this class is for you. Plain and simply. And here's why ...

You (the collective "you" audience, not the specific "Blazej" you audience) have had some rational discourse where the reasoning behind the spell has been laid out, and if you are still arguing against the precept, against the name, etc., then really, to be completely honest, this dialog has run its course. At this time, I see no reason NOT to state something alone the lines of "well, if you continue to refuse to get beyond so simple a hurdle as this, then perhaps you can shift to another class that you feel you can rationalize better."


TigerDave wrote:

I'm sorry that you feel this way. It is, however, a matter of interpretation. If someone is unable to grasp how "words can kill", which is a foundation stone of the Bard class, then how can you honestly plan to interpret the Bard? Seriously, and without feeling insulted or infuriated, evaluate this thought. If you cannot justify that a Bard is able to lace his song with damaging spellpower, and if you cannot interpret the power so named as something other than silly, then I don't think this class is for you. Plain and simply. And here's why ...

You (the collective "you" audience, not the specific "Blazej" you audience) have had some rational discourse where the reasoning behind the spell has been laid out, and if you are still arguing against the precept, against the name, etc., then really, to be completely honest, this dialog has run its course. At this time, I see no reason NOT to state something alone the lines of "well, if you continue to refuse to get beyond so simple a hurdle as this, then perhaps you can shift to another class that you feel you can rationalize better."

I would agree that "words can kill" are certainly a part of the Bard and are most strongly present within Vicious Mockery and Satire of THING, but I feel most of the powers don't go that far.

I would describe the greater theme being "words, song, and music carry power", I believe that one can easily avoid "words can kill", similar to a wizard avoiding powers that inflict lightning.

However, if one finds the idea of a character singing and dancing during battle slaying enemies to be too silly, then I would tend to agree that without large modifications, the Bard isn't going to have much they find appropriate. At least, not without some somewhat significant editing.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Blazej wrote:
TigerDave wrote:

I'm sorry that you feel this way. It is, however, a matter of interpretation. If someone is unable to grasp how "words can kill", which is a foundation stone of the Bard class, then how can you honestly plan to interpret the Bard? Seriously, and without feeling insulted or infuriated, evaluate this thought. If you cannot justify that a Bard is able to lace his song with damaging spellpower, and if you cannot interpret the power so named as something other than silly, then I don't think this class is for you. Plain and simply. And here's why ...

You (the collective "you" audience, not the specific "Blazej" you audience) have had some rational discourse where the reasoning behind the spell has been laid out, and if you are still arguing against the precept, against the name, etc., then really, to be completely honest, this dialog has run its course. At this time, I see no reason NOT to state something alone the lines of "well, if you continue to refuse to get beyond so simple a hurdle as this, then perhaps you can shift to another class that you feel you can rationalize better."

I would agree that "words can kill" are certainly a part of the Bard and are most strongly present within Vicious Mockery and Satire of THING, but I feel most of the powers don't go that far.

I would describe the greater theme being "words, song, and music carry power", I believe that one can easily avoid "words can kill", similar to a wizard avoiding powers that inflict lightning.

However, if one finds the idea of a character singing and dancing during battle slaying enemies to be too silly, then I would tend to agree that without large modifications, the Bard isn't going to have much they find appropriate. At least, not without some somewhat significant editing.

Right. And while I address "words can kill" as a foundation stone, I don't mean it's the only aspect.

And really, to be honest, everything is technically "all good" until we get to that magical 1HP. Up until that point, quite technically, the entire combat is "abstract." It may not be actual physical damage, but morale, endurance and the like that the target suffers (which has been a staple of D&D combat since the beginning). To be truthful, the only time we have to justify that transition to physical damage is at 1HP. I guess you could imagine going all Pete Townshend on their heads, but you're going to have to have a few more lutes.

"Man, you have one ugly face!"

"No I don't!"

FfffWHAPPP! "Yes, you do!"


TigerDave wrote:

Right. And while I address "words can kill" as a foundation stone, I don't mean it's the only aspect.

And really, to be honest, everything is technically "all good" until we get to that magical 1HP. Up...

Yes, more often than not the final blow to an enemy will not come from the Bard's rapier wit. The only situation I can think of that would cause enemies to dropping in droves from snide comments and remarks, aside from a party of Bards, would be a group of minions. That might cause some interesting reactions from a party if it were to occur.

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a rimshot


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Hi,

Hrm, what about the problem of enemies that just don't understand what the Bard is saying, or don't care? Can the power be used against a construct or mindless undead?

Is there a [Mind-Affecting] keyword?

I though that the idea of the power affecting what the target did was a nice idea.

For minded opponents, there is a nice symmetry between Warlords "encouraging" their allies and Bards "discouraging" them. But, that idea lends itself to there being an overlap between Warlord and Bard powers. Seems that both classes should be able to do both. A matter of Style, I suppose, with the Warlord being hard and direct, and the Bard being soft and indirect.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thomas Bitonti wrote:

Hi,

Hrm, what about the problem of enemies that just don't understand what the Bard is saying, or don't care? Can the power be used against a construct or mindless undead?

Is there a [Mind-Affecting] keyword?

I though that the idea of the power affecting what the target did was a nice idea.

For minded opponents, there is a nice symmetry between Warlords "encouraging" their allies and Bards "discouraging" them. But, that idea lends itself to there being an overlap between Warlord and Bard powers. Seems that both classes should be able to do both. A matter of Style, I suppose, with the Warlord being hard and direct, and the Bard being soft and indirect.

The words, the song, the music, the poetry. This is how the bard weaves the power together. If you wanted to restrict the bard because it was important to your story or your universe this would be fine, but there's nothing requiring the target to understand what the bard is saying. Again - that is how the bard unleashes the magic. If it were important for me to restrict such a thing, I would make it a "half damage" thing at the worst - a bard's music is universal and doesn't require linguistic comprehension, but unless the target understands the language it fails to comprehend the actual meaning of the song (which, amusingly, is what happens in real-life with our international music availability). I don't believe there is a [Mind] restriction currently in the game, but again I'd do the same thing if it were important to me, the story, etc. If a song does psychic damage and is used against a mindless target, it does half damage - the song induces a sonic resonance which is damaging, but the words and the mental attack are worthless.

Please note however, that you are restricting a class. To be fair, you would have to, perhaps, take similar measures with every other class. For example, if NPC Badguy Cleric is fully devoted to the same diety as your own PCs with divine classes, would he take full damage from any divinity-based spells? Or, should we limit the primal class to "only when in the wild" etc? Your call.


And note that there is an easy way to make a monster resistant to mind-affecting powers without needing to invent new keywords - give it resistance to pyschic damage, immunity to charm effects, and so forth.

Now, I believe most undead don't have those protections, but I believe that is because there aren't really any creatures that are truly 'mindless' anymore - even basic undead have a level of intelligence (enough to hunt prey or follow simple commands), and constructs are in a similar state. But there are indeed monsters out there resistant to the bard's attacks - mainly, ones that are legitimately resistant to mental assaults or being charmed.

As TigerDave says, I don't think there is any reason to simply blanket proclaim certain monsters immune to what the bard is doing - again, what he is doing is magic. A wizard blasts enemies, using random gibberish as his verbal components; a bard instead focuses his power through rhythm, melody and meaning. The net result is still raw magical power, in the end.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Arcmagik wrote:
And still EVERYONE seems to be ignoring the fact that it isn't necessarily the insults that are killing a foe, it is the PSYCHIC damage that the bard focuses through the insults.

I always assumed it was a massive psychic assault and the words were just the medium for delivering that assault. Rather like the wizard waving his wand about or the cleric brandishing his holy symbol. Bards attack their minds... with words. It's pretty awesome, when you think about it.

Also, I this discussion underlies a deeper problem: a lot of people are still unclear about what HP represent in a 4e game. Hit Points aren't just your physical injuries - they're your willingness to get back up, to keep fighting. That's why the warlord can restore HP by rallying you and raising your spirits, and why you can recover fully in only 5 minutes after a battle. You take a few deep breaths, steel yourself against the encounters to come, and move on.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You enter the 200 year old crypt of Kargat, the Lich King, one of the most ruthless dark necromancers to ever walk our waking world... Hie is personally responsible for the mutilation ot the entire city of Balzar, Causing each resident to carve out the eyes of his neighbor with a knife. He who cursed the great red dragon Jarzaban, slaying him and using his corpse as a spawning bath for his undead minions. He who summoned the very stone crypt you walk upon from the ground with just his will. He stands before you, his skeletal figure crackling with untold evil necromantic power. He hold the power of death in his very touch.

bard: Hey Moldy
Kargat(Grasping his head in agony): ARRGGG
Bard: How can you be so smart, if you don't even have a brain, hollow skull?
Kargat(kneeling from the vicious retort): ARRGHHH
Bard: Bugger off, you twit!
Karget(falling over, smoke wafting from his unliving body): ARRGGHHH....gurgle..thump.
Bard: Guess he can't take a joke.

This has been a dramatization... But I can see how this can break a moment.. The first this happened it would be hilarious. My group would love it. By the third time, they would kill the bard for ruining the scary moment.

edited to correct spelling.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Maybe they could come out with a new class power: Sticks and Stones. Makes the target immune to taunts, but only if he says some variation of "Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

This would be a prerequisite for the more powerful "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" power, which would also reflect the insult back.

Liberty's Edge

Sebastian wrote:

Maybe they could come out with a new class power: Sticks and Stones. Makes the target immune to taunts, but only if he says some variation of "Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

This would be a prerequisite for the more powerful "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" power, which would also reflect the insult back.

Don't you have some poor uninsured family to sue, Pony Boy?

Hmmm, I think I may have to play a bard in 4e...

;)

Spoiler:
Sebastian, you really shouldn't go spoilering the upcoming Bard power splat WotC is developing, though....


Sebastian wrote:

Maybe they could come out with a new class power: Sticks and Stones. Makes the target immune to taunts, but only if he says some variation of "Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

This would be a prerequisite for the more powerful "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" power, which would also reflect the insult back.

This sort of thing is always a bit of an issue. The line between cool and gag inducing is really rather thin.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Sebastian wrote:

Maybe they could come out with a new class power: Sticks and Stones. Makes the target immune to taunts, but only if he says some variation of "Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

This would be a prerequisite for the more powerful "I'm Rubber, You're Glue" power, which would also reflect the insult back.

This sort of thing is always a bit of an issue. The line between cool and gag inducing is really rather thin.

I was being silly. I hope that such an ability does not actually come into being outside of an April Fool's issue.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

noretoc wrote:

You enter the 200 year old crypt of Kargat, the Lich King, one of the most ruthless dark necromancers to ever walk our waking world... Hie is personally responsible for the mutilation ot the entire city of Balzar, Causing each resident to carve out the eyes of his neighbor with a knife. He who cursed the great red dragon Jarzaban, slaying him and using his corpse as a spawning bath for his undead minions. He who summoned the very stone crypt you walk upon from the ground with just his will. He stands before you, his skeletal figure crackling with untold evil necromantic power. He hold the power of death in his very touch.

bard: Hey Moldy
Kargat(Grasping his head in agony): ARRGGG
Bard: How can you be so smart, if you don't even have a brain, hollow skull?
Kargat(kneeling from the vicious retort): ARRGHHH
Bard: Bugger off, you twit!
Karget(falling over, smoke wafting from his unliving body): ARRGGHHH....gurgle..thump.
Bard: Guess he can't take a joke.

This has been a dramatization... But I can see how this can break a moment.. The first this happened it would be hilarious. My group would love it. By the third time, they would kill the bard for ruining the scary moment.

edited to correct spelling.

Its all in how you sell it, no matter what class you play. Swap the Bard with a Fighter and see how silly it sounds to have a brainless thug beat the nigh omnipotent Uberlich to pieces with a sharpened piece of metal.

Contributor

noretoc wrote:

You enter the 200 year old crypt of Kargat, the Lich King, one of the most ruthless dark necromancers to ever walk our waking world... Hie is personally responsible for the mutilation ot the entire city of Balzar, Causing each resident to carve out the eyes of his neighbor with a knife. He who cursed the great red dragon Jarzaban, slaying him and using his corpse as a spawning bath for his undead minions. He who summoned the very stone crypt you walk upon from the ground with just his will. He stands before you, his skeletal figure crackling with untold evil necromantic power. He hold the power of death in his very touch.

Wizard: Eat bat crap, dead boy! FIREBALL!

Cleric: Behold the power of Isis's holy breasts and begone, fiend!
Barbarian: Thog smash!

There are many ways to violate the mood. And there are more vicious taunts possible.

Bard: Well, either that's Kargat, the Lich King, or else we just walked in on Queen Ehlissa before she put on her make-up. Given the gaudy purple robes, I'm voting for Queen Ehlissa. Anyone else?
Kargat: ARGH!


TigerDave wrote:

I personally believe that if the name or the concept is that hard for someone to "get over" then no amount of discussion will persuade them, and I personally believe they shouldn't even bother opening up the Bard class at all. You've chosen to attach a ridiculous or cartoon image to the power. While it may be a completely acceptable response from you, to be honest the onus is on you to make it work. When I see it, I see someone strumming a lute, spewing forth not humorous comments, but stream after stream of vitriol, with the person on the end facing a vicious mental assault. Perhaps something in the power allows the bard to see some personal character flaw the bard can take advantage of. The hammering rhythm of the lute, the bard's sneering face, the relentless spitting of character flaws ... That truly IS role playing.

Sorry, but that's truth.

You win the thread dave :)


The lich unleashed a ray of raw black power, hurling Mikal the Avenging Paladin to the side. Another ray lashed out at Jacob, and the bard quickly sung a rhythm of speed to give himself the chance to dive away from the blast.

Shaping sound into magic and magic into sound, he hurled his own spell as he staggered back to his feet - a rolling wave of thunder that shook the room around them. The lich simply raised his staff, and the power washed over it without effect, but that wasn't Jacob's real target - instead, he gave a sigh of relief as his magic dissipated the fiendish spirit that the lich had summoned at the start of combat.

Amarytha was dead by that spirit's touch - the lich had known her for a cleric, sensed her divine power, and focused all its might against her to bring her down first. The Darkspeaker had fallen next - for all his dealings with fell powers, the warlock hadn't been prepared for whatever spell the lich hurled against his mind, and now cowered upon the floor, screaming into the stone.

And now Jacob was all that was left standing - and he had no last minute saves left when the undead wizard spoke words of black magic, and the bard felt the air around him crackle with entropic magic, covering his armor with rust and turning his flesh white and withered. He fought off the worst of it, but still barely remained standing after the attack - and with the greater part of his power expended, he had nothing left to do... save to laugh.

The lich paused. It spoke, its voice a jagged whisper, like the sound of bones shattering into dust. "You find your death amusing, hero?" It gestured at him with a skeletal hand, and a ray of pure shadow struck his arm, and he felt his side grow numb.

But his laughter continued. "I laugh at the irony of it all. At the joke at the heart of our battle - even if we die here today, it is you who has already lost!"

Another blast of shadow made him wobble on his feet, and the lich stepped closer. "Your broken corpses will tell a different tale, bard."

He stumbled to the side, leaning heavily upon the wall behind him as he staggered away from his foe. "What will they say - that we lost to Kargat the Damned - the Lich King, the Blight of Ages, the Dragon Slayer? Such a tale could not be told - or if it was, it would be a lie, for Kargat is not here!"

The lich pinned him in a corner, jabbing its staff against his chest and unleashing another wave of entropic power - drawing forth bitter groans amidst the laughter, but not causing it to stop. "Kargat stands before you, mortal! Kargat claims your life!"

"Kargat died two hundred years ago!" Jacob screamed, staring deep into the lifeless eyes of the lich. "You are a withered skeleton with a handful of magic, and nothing more! Hiding in the dark of the world, clutching at the memories of a life no longer yours!"

The lich gave its own cry of rage, dropping its staff and seizing Jacob in both hands, hurling the bard up against the rough stone of the tomb's walls. "I have been blessed with undeath, fool! My power is eternal now! My magic greater than it ever was! And if death is what it takes to end your laughter, death you shall have!"

Even as the icy touch drained his life, Jacob kept the lich's gaze even with his own, kept a mocking grin upon him. Even as the lich's bony hands clutched tight about his throat, he continued his tirade, "You... you forgot..."

"I have forgotten nothing! Every scrap of magic I've learned, in undeath or in life, is mine to command! Every pact, every tale of lore, every dread secret - mine, all mine!"

Jacob, grinning, croaked out the rest of his words. "You... forgot... about... the paladin."

Mikal's warhammer came down in a single crushing blow upon the lich's skull, filled with pure divine power that sent radiant light blasting through its skeletal frame, vaporizing its bones and chasing away its screams to whatever dark place the lich's spirit chose to flee. Jacob dropped to the ground, no longer held aloft by an undead grip - but his companion's powerful arms quickly helped the bard back to his feet.

Staring down at the ash that was left of their foe, Jacob couldn't resist one last quip. "You were right after all - it was an amusing death I was laughing at, Kargat. It just wasn't mine..."

--------------

In the end, this power - and the use of it - comes down to the player and the group. If a player wants to use it to create powerful drama as they draw forth the most hidden fears of the greatest of foes - they can do so. Or they can use it to insult an enemy's mother.

Just like fighters could view an attack against a troll as a powerful blow that sends even such a mighty foe staggering backwards and crashing to the ground - or they could laugh like children as they continually knock an enemy onto its butt.

One of the characters in my group has a staff that, on a crit, results in the enemy's being "dazed by magical stinging insects." Is this power the raw might of nature unleashed in an awesome - even terrifying - display, enough to bring even an orc warchief to his knees... or is it an orc warchief running around being chased by bees, screaming like a little girl?

Characters have the ability to blind, daze, deafen, stun or dominate even the most powerful of foes. Grab them, push them, pull them, slide them around the field or knock them to the ground. Any and all of these could be cinematically awesome or childishly humorous. What will determine that? The players at hand - and even simply the mood of the moment. The same scene could not only play out differently between two different groups, it could play out differently with the same group itself at different times!

This power, honestly? No different at all. Are you jeering and taunting the foe, or are you speaking an uncomfortable truth that gives even the mightiest enemy pause?

The game doesn't decide either way.

You do.


There is at least one precedent for this effect in older versions of D&D-Powerword Kill.
No one had a problem with the wizard using Powerword Kill to slay living creatures. That spell is very similar to Vicious Mockery in that both lace a word or series of words with magical killing energy. Why would it be okay for a wizard cast a spell, say 'Die!' and slay her opponent but not for a Bard to cast a spell, say 'You are ugly and unable to win!' and kill her opponent?


Interestingly, there's a scene in Tolkien's epic poem "The Lays of Beleriand" where the elven lord Finrod Felagund and our old friend Sauron contend against each other in magical song, and Sauron wins the magical/bardic duel by invoking a crime committed by the elves when fleeing Valinor, causing Finrod to collapse unconscious:

The duel of magical songs

Sounds fairly close to what happens with this power. Methinks the silliness is in how you apply it, rather than the power itself.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Matthew Koelbl wrote:
"You... forgot... about... the paladin."

Awesome. Best reply ever.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zombieneighbours wrote:
TigerDave wrote:
Sorry, but that's truth.
You win the thread dave :)

I think MK came in and proved that I truly am just the understudy.

Brilliant, Matthew!

<bow>


TigerDave wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
TigerDave wrote:
Sorry, but that's truth.
You win the thread dave :)

I think MK came in and proved that I truly am just the understudy.

Brilliant, Matthew!

<bow>

I have to agree with that one. Very well done Matthew.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

"I just talked to them."


Glad folks liked it, and my thanks to the earlier posts that inspired me to show exactly what a bard might be capable of. ^_^

Which, actually, is another good bit of advice on the topic - when confronted with an ability or power that seems out of place or completely absurd with your idea of the game... maybe that should be taken as a challenge. An opoprtunity to see if you can find a way to use it that not only works, but even enhances the roleplaying spirit of your game. I'm sure some things will still never fit with certain playstyles... but people should be out there looking at these as opportunities, rather than obstacles.

Dark Archive

Arcmagik wrote:
And still EVERYONE seems to be ignoring the fact that it isn't necessarily the insults that are killing a foe, it is the PSYCHIC damage that the bard focuses through the insults.

Actually, I do have a bit of a problem with the insult causing psychic damage. How does one deal psychic damage to something that doesn't have a psyche? Stone golems and gelatinous cubes don't have minds, really, but they're not immune to charm effects or psychic damage, so you can still slowly insult them to death. What about something that doesn't speak your language? If your opponent can't understand the insult, why should it damage them? There's any number of narrative arguments that could be made against the power, but in the end the mechanics have to win the day.

In the end, it really comes down to two facts about 4e that bug me somewhat:

- Hit Points have become extremely abstract now to the point of not just being physical damage, but also covering "the will to fight." In some senses, this is good - it makes healing surges and Second Wind make sense - but in others, it gets a bit weird. The aforementioned gelatinous cube is either going to fight you to the death or run away; it won't just sigh, give up, and slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard. In such cases, psychic damage must mean physical damage is being done, but then you get weirdness like casual insults causing people to stroke out (Vicious Mockery v. a human minion, for example).

- Everything, especially at-wills, has to be a damaging attack. There are some exceptions, true, but most attack powers that cause buffs or debuffs have a damaging component besides (mostly due to the above issue). While this is fine for some classes, even most classes, it gets to be a bit much for me with leader classes like the bard. I know that it's a function of balancing the game between classes and making sure everyone has an equally-useful role in combat, but it's still a bit irksome to me. I'd love to see more options for non-damaging attacks.

I've come to accept it, and yes, I'll still allow Vicious Mockery in my games, but it's one of those things in 4e that's just an annoyance to me.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I believe that most of your comments have been well-addressed above.

NockerGeek wrote:
- Hit Points have become extremely abstract now to the point of not just being physical damage, but also covering "the will to fight."

I'm sorry, sir, but this has ALWAYS been the case.

"Each character has a varying number of hit points, just as monsters do. These hit points represent how much damage (actual or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors." - PHB, 1st Edition, Page 34


NockerGeek wrote:
Actually, I do have a bit of a problem with the insult causing psychic damage. How does one deal psychic damage to something that doesn't have a psyche? Stone golems and gelatinous cubes don't have minds, really, but they're not immune to charm effects or psychic damage, so you can still slowly insult them to death.

Well, I don't know if there is anything out there that is truly mindless. A golem has something in their processing its commands, allowing it to recognize enemies and carry out attacks. A gelatinous cube operates largely on instinct, but it still has a primitive mind in there guiding it through the dungeon, triggering hunger or response to threats. So there is some rational that there is a mind there to be attacked - whether it is the golem's programming or the ooze's instinct, it is vulnerable to being interfered with by raw magic.

NockerGeek wrote:
What about something that doesn't speak your language? If your opponent can't understand the insult, why should it damage them?

If an enemy doesn't recognize what sulfur or guano is, does that make them immune to fireball? The insult itself isn't physically damaging - it is the component for the spell, the focus the bard himself is using to direct his magic.

NockerGeek wrote:
Hit Points have become extremely abstract now to the point of not just being physical damage, but also covering "the will to fight." In some senses, this is good - it makes healing surges and Second Wind make sense - but in others, it gets a bit weird. The aforementioned gelatinous cube is either going to fight you to the death or run away; it won't just sigh, give up, and slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard. In such cases, psychic damage must mean physical damage is being done, but then you get weirdness like casual insults causing people to stroke out (Vicious Mockery v. a human minion, for example).

As has been mentioned, HP has always represented morale as well as physical endurance. Psychic damage to an ooze might not cause it to run away - but it might leave it more and more confused as its mental process because hopeless tangled, making it easier for magic or swords to tear apart. And a casual insult won't cause a human minion to give up or run away - but one used as the conduit for a magical spell that literally tears into their mind? Sure, that can take them down, just like Power Words could knock out normal adventurers previously.

NockerGeek wrote:
Everything, especially at-wills, has to be a damaging attack. There are some exceptions, true, but most attack powers that cause buffs or debuffs have a damaging component besides (mostly due to the above issue). While this is fine for some classes, even most classes, it gets to be a bit much for me with leader classes like the bard. I know that it's a function of balancing the game between classes and making sure everyone has an equally-useful role in combat, but it's still a bit irksome to me. I'd love to see more options for non-damaging attacks.

I'm a big fan of them tying damage in, as it means I no longer feel certain builds end up with a bunch of interesting but largely useless powers - but that said, I can understand at least wanting the option there. Which now there actually seems to be - you may want to check out Arcane Power, which has a decent number of bard and wizard powers (typically illusions and charms) that don't directly deal damage. There is even a bard paragon path focused around giving people bonus actions, as long as they don't use them for damaging attacks!

Dark Archive

TigerDave wrote:

I'm sorry, sir, but this has ALWAYS been the case.

"Each character has a varying number of hit points, just as monsters do. These hit points represent how much damage (actual or potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors." - PHB, 1st Edition, Page 34

That may be how it's been stated, but it's not really been until 4th Edition that the mechanics actually support that. How many damaging "non-damaging" effects are there in previous editons, i.e. how many spells and such cause damage because they attack a character's "will to fight" rather than damaging their body? I know of very few, if any. In previous editions, could a character will him- or herself to keep fighting by catching their breath and trudging on? No, they couldn't; the options were to find magical healing or rest for hours and hours. The above statement from the 1st PHB is all well and good, but in reality it's just handwaving away the justification for high level characters having mountains of HP.

In 4e, on the other hand, that description of hit points is actually reflected in the game's mechanics. Attacks that miss can still do some damage as they wear the opponent down, and "attacks" that would normally just cause status effects often cause damage as well. Characters can dig into their personal reserves of energy and spend a healing surge to keep fighting. The system supports the classic definition of HP in a way that it's never really done before - but it also highlights a few of the oddities that come with that definition.


NockerGeek wrote:

That may be how it's been stated, but it's not really been until 4th Edition that the mechanics actually support that. How many damaging "non-damaging" effects are there in previous editons, i.e. how many spells and such cause damage because they attack a character's "will to fight" rather than damaging their body? I know of very few, if any. In previous editions, could a character will him- or herself to keep fighting by catching their breath and trudging on? No, they couldn't; the options were to find magical healing or rest for hours and hours. The above statement from the 1st PHB is all well and good, but in reality it's just handwaving away the justification for high level characters having mountains of HP.

In 4e, on the other hand, that description of hit points is actually reflected in the game's mechanics. Attacks that miss can still do some damage as they wear the opponent down, and "attacks" that would normally just cause status effects often cause damage as well. Characters can dig into their personal reserves of energy and spend a healing surge to keep fighting. The system supports the classic definition of HP in a way that it's never really done before - but it also highlights a few of the oddities that come with that definition.

I think that it is even odder in the case as people offering reasons for Vicious Mockery not being silly seemingly taking opposite sides on what this power does. With some advocating that the power damages the opponents will to fight, some suggesting the effect is the outright destruction of your opponents mind (as well as others coming in between). From my perspective these two sides taking the two sides on what damage means, with the former having damage include damage to your luck and skill, and the latter having damage be, for this power, damage to the mind that resembles physical punishment.


P.H. Dungeon wrote:
I just noticed in the PHB II that with the vicious mockery at will power you can literally tease your enemy to death... Sorry, but that just seems kind of stupid. No more "sticks and stone can break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

I envision it as a secret arcane cant that tears at your soul.

Dark Archive

Matthew Koelbl wrote:
If an enemy doesn't recognize what sulfur or guano is, does that make them immune to fireball? The insult itself isn't physically damaging - it is the component for the spell, the focus the bard himself is using to direct his magic.

Apples and oranges. It's not the sulfur and guano that does the damage, but the fire created by the spell. If the target is immune to fire, though, they would be immune. So, what causes the damage from Vicious Mockery? It is just generic "magic"? Is it sheer force of will?

If the insult itself isn't the vehicle for the damage, are the words even important? If a target doesn't need to understand the words, do they even need to hear the words? Being deaf doesn't render you immune, and with a 50-foot range, there's a good chance that the target won't hear you over the din of battle. Could the insult be whispered?


Vicious Mockery Bard Attack 1
You unleash a string of insults at your foe, weaving them with
bardic magic to send the creature into a blind rage.

At-Will &#10022; Arcane, Charm, Implement, Psychic


NockerGeek wrote:
If the insult itself isn't the vehicle for the damage, are the words even important? If a target doesn't need to understand the words, do they even need to hear the words? Being deaf doesn't render you immune, and with a 50-foot range, there's a good chance that the target won't hear you over the din of battle. Could the insult be whispered?

I would suggest that might be a viable option allowed to different characters going for a different flavor.

I would suggest treating the descriptions given with powers as suggestions and that you modify them to match the situation. Using the exact descriptions given with the powers, in my opinion, will more often than not will produce odd results.

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