Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Antimagic and 4e: Brigadier Hazen

Dominic Matte

Brigadier Hazen is another ranking officer of King Duncan's military and antimagic specialist. He would prefer to work alone, but as a sniper he's vulnerable and reluctantly keeps a spotting team and guard. Hazen has several large antennae strapped to his back, designed to collect magical energy and funnel it into his rifle (or crossbow if you don't like guns in your D&D).

Read on for stats.

Statistically, Brigadier Hazen is an elite artillery monster with little in the way of defense or movement ability. As an expert sniper, he can pick out targets even in the dark, hence his darkvision. His training also gives him an expanded crit range and bonus damage on a crit -- he's trained to shoot for the vitals.

Hazen's Collection Array is his main trick. Each time he's hit by an arcane or divine power, he gets a Power token, absorbing some of the attack's energy to boost his ranged damage by +3 per token, to a maximum of +15 (five tokens). This provides an interesting punishment to magical attacks -- instead of making arcane and divine characters useless, it forces them to consider whether they should risk attacking Hazen or go for the rest of his team.

Hazen isn't completely defenseless against melee attackers. He can smack them with the butt of his rifle to apply a daze, which might allow him to slip away and continue making ranged attacks. Also, once per encounter, he can spend a minor action try to kick a melee attacker in the shin, forcing them to take the hit and fall or to step out of the way.

Rifle Shot is the primary source of damage. It's fairly strong for a basic attack in terms of damage, and also allows Hazen to apply a single condition of his choice for a turn. Burst Fire allows him to cripple a single target or pin down two enemies close to each other.

If Hazen is overwhelmed in melee combat, he can overload his collection array to release a huge blast of magical energy, pushing enemies away. On a "miss", the targets dive to the ground to avoid the massive blast. The blast drains the array's stored energy, clearing away Hazen's Power tokens and bonus damage.

The approach to antimagic I took here was to increase Hazen's attack power as arcane or divine players target him. As an elite, Hazen shouldn't be the only creature in the encounter, so the players can decide whether they should avoid boosting his damage by targeting the rest of Hazen's squad, or if it's important to take him out quickly before the sniper can deal too much damage. Adding tokens to Hazen charges up a big burst attack, but fortunately for the party, if he actually uses it his damage bonus drops back down to zero. If a clever party keeps track of how many tokens they've applied, they can attempt to minimize the danger or to pile on the attacks once he's already at his token limit.

Now, if Brigadier Hazen were a solo, you could tell me that the stat block was designed to punish arcane and divine characters, and you'd be right. However, as an elite, he should have allies in the encounter, which leaves arcane/divine characters with a choice rather than a punishment for attacking.

As usual, I'd like to hear what you think of the stat block in the comments, especially if you've tried it out for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. I have been enjoying these stat blocks. I agree with your implementation and like the use of powers, abilities, and effects which don't just cancel magic, but make the players think twice about how to use it. I think you have some very interesting ideas here and I look forward to seeing more in the future.

    One thing I might suggest for both player and DM here, is the careful observation of certain skills, namely, Arcana, Perception, Insight, and Nature. The players should be rolling these and trying to find out more about their enemy, or else how are they going to know how to defeat them? Plus, they should not just be given the idea about the token, but if they're really not getting it, a little description about how that magic missile seemed to be absorbed in his backpack would work well.

    As the DM though, I would suggest having the highest of the passive skill values from the players of the skills mentioned above. While a good player should be actively looking for more info, a good DM will recognize what information they could possibly gleam passively.

    As for commenting more on the focus of balance issues and stuff, I've been on the player side of some of these and think they're quite awesome, but can't really judge balance issues.