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4e Terminology and Abbreviations

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4e Terminology Database [1]Edit

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Ability Replace Power with Ability and you get the same thing.
Artillery (monster role) Artillery monsters have better ranged attacks and lower hit points. They are thus dangerous when attacking from a distance, but tend to get taken down quickly in melee.
Brute (monster role) Brute monsters tend to have higher hit points, deal higher amounts of damage, and have lower defenses. Fights involving brutes tend to be shorter and swingier, as the party would either take the monsters down quickly or get taken down quickly.
Controller (class role)

The controller role is probably the least well-defined, but broadly speaking, they "control" the battlefield with area attacks (encouraging their enemies to spread out), imposing conditions on their enemies, or actually changing the battleground by creating effects that damage or hinder enemies in a particular area.

As a side point, class roles are supposed to inform what a specific class is designed to be good at. However, nothing prevents any character from trying to act in any of the roles. A striker might try to get an enemy to attack him, e.g. by getting between it and a weaker party member, even though he might not have any ability that would encourage the enemy to do so. Similarly, even though a defender might not have a striker's accuracy or damage bonus, he can still attack and deal damage.

Controller (monster role) The controller monster role is quite similar to the controller class role. Controller monsters tend to make area attacks and inflict conditions on the PCs.
Defender (class role) Classes with a defender role tend to have two related characteristics: they have some ability that encourages their opponents to attack them instead of their (presumably squishier) allies, and they tend to have higher than average hit points and defenses in order to survive those extra attacks. I should add that 4e defenders hardly ever draw "threat" or "aggro" in the CRPG/MMORPG sense. Instead, the "defender" mechanics typically involve interfering with their enemies' attacks or gaining extra attacks against enemies who choose to attack their allies.

The term "encounter" suffers from the problem of having different meanings in different contexts. In can be used in the most comonly-understood sense of a challenge to be overcome, which can comprise both combat and non-combat elements.

When used in the context of an "encounter power" it means a power that can be regained after a short rest (usually five minutes long), in much the same way as a daily power can be regained after an extended rest (usually six hours long) or (in previous editions) a daily spell or ability can be regained after a night's rest. PCs who do not rest do not regain their encounter powers.

When used in the context of a duration that "lasts till the end of the encounter", the maximum duration is still capped at five minutes even if the encounter takes longer than five minutes. However, although there will of course be exceptions, encounters do not normally last longer than five minutes and the PCs would normally take a short rest at the end of each encounter. Hence, such effects typically would last for a single encounter and would not carry on to the next since they would terminate during the short rest. PCs who wish to continue enjoying the effect could simply choose not to take a short rest.

Leader (class role) The leader role in 4e does not imply that the character leads the party (say, in the sense that Gandalf led the Fellowship of the Rings). It means a character whose abilities are mostly centred around helping his fellow party members to recover from injuries and conditions, and to perform better in combat and non-combat challenges. To take a Dragonlance example, Goldmoon the cleric of Mishakal, had a leader role (healing), even though Tanis Half-Elven was considered the party leader.
Leader (monster role) Unlike the class role, leader is actually a sub-role for monsters. Like class role leaders, monster role leaders typically have some ability to restore their allies' hit points or make them fight better, but they would also also have some other role (controller, skirmisher, brute, soldier, artillery or lurker).
Lurker (monster role) Lurker monsters are slightly more complex. While lurkers can be ambushers, the defining characteristic is actually the ability to enter and leave a "lurk" mode, and the most interesting lurkers are able to switch between modes in the same fight. Fighting a lurker is thus ideally like fighting two different monsters from round to round, and the tactics for dealing with one in "lurk" mode should be different from the tactics used in the other mode.
Power A power is simply any sort of resource or ability that a class gains which is not a class feature. To use some 3e examples of a power, a barbarian's rage, bard's song, a cleric's turn undead, druid's shapechange, or paladin's lay on hands/remove disease (all of which were x per day). Compare to class feature like sneak attack, animal companion/familiar, favorite enemy, or flat +1 to x or y. Class features typically have less parameters that they work around and less rules when they can be used, etc - they're just simpler.
Power Origin It refers to the 'origins' of the ability of a class. For example, a class using shadow ability like vampire or assasin is said to have power origin. (Classes for example). Similarly, there are classes based on Divine origin(e.g. cleric), Arcane origin(e.g. wizard), Martial origin(e.g. Fighter), Psionic origin(e.g. Monk) and Primal origin(e.g. Barbarian).
Skill A Skill is a trained or untrained talent linked to one of your six ability scores your character knows, from Arcana to Theivery. (Based on a character's class, the PC can learn several trained skills which grants a +5 bonus in the Tabletop game.) Such a skill, for example, is used in the Neverwinter Online game when a rogue sees the unsprung traps in a dungeon delve before other party members trigger them.
Skirmisher (monster role) Skirmisher monster tend to be mobile and often have some ability that encourages them to move around, e.g. dealing extra damage when flanking.
Soldier (monster role) Conversely, soldiers tend to have higher defenses and deal lower amounts of damage. Soldier monster tend to cause longer fights because of their higher defenses and lower damage.
Striker (class role) Classes with a striker role focus on dealing damage. They usually have either some benefit that increases the amount of damage that they deal with their attacks or increases the accuracy of their attacks so that they hit more often.


Class RolesEdit

Also (Roles).

  • Leader
  • Striker
  • Defender
  • Controller

Monster RolesEdit

  • Leader
  • Controller
  • Skirmisher
  • Lurker
  • Brute
  • Soldier
  • Artillery

As with class roles, monster roles are supposed to give an idea of what the monster is designed to be good at. A DM should try to keep artillery monsters out of melee, for example, and should look out for how a leader sub-role monster can use its abilities to help its allies. No doubt, a DM should be able to infer this from reading the monster's abilities, but the roles would also provide a bit of extra clarity.

Other technical termsEdit

  • Power
  • Power origin
  • Encounter
  • Ability
  • Skill


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