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Vieux 2007-08-24, 09h12   #1
Shadowhal
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4th Edition - Power Source - Martial Power Source

Power Source
Martial Power Source
by Mike Mearls
Art by David Griffith


08/20/2007

The Design & Development article series premiered on the D&D website back in September 2005, and has been a staple ever since. With the approach of 4th Edition, and our designers and developers focused on the new edition, this column will be the primary vehicle for 4th Edition coverage. We’ll not only give you peeks at what’s forthcoming, but also the “how” and “why.”

Keep in mind that the game is still in a state of flux, as refinements are made by our design and development staff. You’re getting a look behind the curtain at game design in progress, so enjoy, and feel free to send your comments to dndinsider@wizards.com.
Power sources are an important part of 4th Edition. They answer the question, “How does your character do what he does?” Wizards tap into arcane magic. Paladins and clerics call on the power of the gods. For classes such as these, the answer is self-evident. Pose the same question to a fighter or rogue and the answer becomes more difficult. What separates the fighter who marches into the dragon’s lair from the local village militia? In a world of mighty gods and boundless magic, what marks the line between an average guy with a sword and a fighter?

In 4th Edition, the martial power source provides the answer. Some people, through intense training, dedication, or just plain old toughness, rise above the rest of the pack. The fighter might walk into the dragon’s lair out of a noble sense of duty or a selfish drive to prove himself mightier than a mere wyrm. He lacks the ability to control arcane magic or the dedication needed to gain power from the gods. Instead, he has his toughness, self-discipline, and supreme mastery of his fighting skills. Other characters seek to master energies from other planes or beings. The martial character seeks to master his potential—to convert it to a fully realized mastery of a fighting form.

A martial character is much like a world class athlete. An Olympic sprinter doesn’t have any special muscles or super abilities. Through a mix of inborn talent and supreme dedication, she pushes herself to achieve speeds that no other human can match. In the same manner, a fighter achieves skill with weapons and armor that soar beyond a typical person’s abilities. Like a skilled athlete, a fighter draws on his intense dedication, relentless training, and supreme focus. Potential isn’t enough, as the sports world is filled with talented people who fail to apply themselves, as well as physically limited individuals who use a combination of dedication and smarts to outplay their opponents. A martial character draws his strength from within.

In terms of flavor and description, the martial character/athlete analogy guided many decisions about the way martial characters push themselves beyond the limit. At low levels, martial characters have abilities that are impressive but don’t stretch the boundaries of what is or is not possible. Only at the highest levels do we see martial characters verging into the truly impossible acts of agility and strength attainable only in fiction.
Weapons and how fighters use them provided a blueprint for their design. A skilled halberdier can hack a foe with his weapon’s blade and spin around to smash a second foe with the haft. A fighter with a longsword disarms her foe with a flick of her wrist, while a battle hungry axeman cleaves through shields, armor, and bone. The design for fighter maneuvers came down to looking at weapons, figuring out how a fighter could use one, and deciding on special effects that felt cool for the weapon and proved useful for the class. Check out the Design & Development column on fighters and their weapons for more on this concept.

Rogues have a similar relationship with skills. A nimble rogue dives through the air to tumble past an ogre, while a charismatic one tricks an enemy into looking away just before she delivers a killing blow with her dagger. Just as fighters do more with weapons than any other character, rogues push skills beyond the limits that constrain other PCs.

The martial power source is about taking resources and abilities that have clear limits for other classes and demolishing those limits through focus, training, and skill.

About the Author
Mike Mearls is found only in subterranean places, as he detests sunlight. He is greatly evil and considers the bulk of humanity (and its kin) as cattle to feed upon. He speaks only his his own arcane language and several other weird tongues -- purportedly those of terrible races of things which dwell in regions of the subterranean world far deeper than mankind has ever ventured.
__________________

Leroy Jethro Gibbs:
They're holding Petty Officer Dobbs' body for you at the Dover morgue.
Donald 'Ducky' Mallard: I don't get it, I thought he died in combat.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs: I need you to take a look, Ducky.
Donald 'Ducky' Mallard: What do you expect me to find?
Leroy Jethro Gibbs: Nothing. I just need to buy more time.
Donald 'Ducky' Mallard: Oh, Jethro, I can spend forever finding nothing.

"Once you go cat, you never go back!" - Iuk Rhoma
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