Thursday, April 30, 2009

Keep on the Shadowfell updated and free!

Wizards has released a PDF version of the first Heroic 4E adventure, Keep on the Shadowfell, as well as Quick Start Rules of the game, for free on their site. I think this is a great move -it's just the perfect package to get new players started into D&D. Also, it pretty much ensures that every 4E player will go through KoTS at some point, which makes for great shared experiences and game anecdotes, even for people not in your gaming group (ask anyone about their first encounter with Irontooth, for example!).

What really interests me, though, is the upgraded adventure. The core story and encounters are the same, but many details have been polished - format, errata, monster choices and skill challenges. I particularly like how they have added a few new monsters so that every encounter you take features at least a new one - after your nth skirmish with kobolds, Dragonshields get replaced but slightly different kobold soldiers, skirmishers get a new twist, and so on. A few plot details have been upgraded, such as the burial site no longer featuring a random Halfling, but an avatar of the major villain. Finally, skill challenges have got an overhaul - the statue chamber now looks a lot more playable, and just staying at a distance and bashing things at range no longer seems a productive strategy.

I'm looking forward to getting a chance to DM this module again, and this update looks like the perfect excuse.
Read More......

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not at the beginning of their turn: Swarm Attacks

Update: The world has been saved! Needlefang Drake Swarms were toned down to a manageable level in the Great November Errata. Also, swarms from later books such as Monster Manual 2 feature much more reasonable auras, so the problem I talked about only affects a couple of monsters in the first MM now.

Swarms. Deadly, disgusting swarms. These little guys feature some of the most inspired game mechanics in Monster Manual. Their rules include a generous bunch of resistances, vulnerabilities and special abilities, all dripping with flavor. Amazingly, their complexity level has been kept at bay, so using these monsters in an encounter won't result in a noticeable slowdown in gameplay. I think they can even make a great contribution to game strategy and role balance, as they make increase so much the value of area attacks - the perceived utility of controller PCs would improve a lot if swarms were a more common monster choice for encounters.

For all their good features, swarms have one fatal flaw that is probably preventing them to see as much play as they deserve. Even if I'd like every other encounter to include a swarm of two, this is currently not a realistic, nor a recommended option. Unlike most monsters, you just can't expect to replace a couple of guys in an encounter with swarms of the same level without drastically changing the difficulty - swarms are very powerful, their value often closer to an Elite monster than to a standard one. Clearly, this has to be addressed.

Even though they have great defenses (making them the bane of any party lacking good area powers), what really breaks swarms, in my opinion, is their unmatched offensive capability. Consider this:
Swarm Attack - aura 1; the swarm makes a basic attack as a free action against each enemy that begins its turn in the aura.

Assuming its basic attacks deal average damage (and they almost always do), every swarm has a good, built-in area attack. This would actually be an acceptable deal if it was their main attack, but unfortunately, it's not. Swarms can actually use this aura in addition to a Standard Action attack (usually the same basic attack), so they get to attack an enemy of their choice twice per round. Normally, this amounts to double the damage that another monster of the same level would deal against a single target, on top of standard damage against the rest of enemies within the area. Total Party Kill is a frequent outcome.

The solution

Something needs to get changed. Although there are many possible fixes, the one I like the most is the one I applied to warrior stances in this article: change the aura effect to trigger at the end of each enemy's turn. This would be my revision:
Swarm Attack - aura 1; the swarm makes a basic attack as a free action against each enemy that ends its turn in the aura.

Having the damage happen at the end of turn instead of inconditionally makes swarms more interactive, as well as weaker. It even makes sense from a flavor perspective, as it means that PCs will actively run away from swarms, and they will rarely charge against them. However, players will soon learn that these new swarms are anything but tame, when they have to figure out how to escape (without provoking OAs) the damaging aura of a monster that can enter their space and is immune to forced movement. Excuse me for a moment while I cackle maniacally.

Bonus monster: Fixed Needlefang Drake Swarm.

My suggested change should be enough to neuter most swarms, but there are a few that would remain troublesome even after this. Needlefang Drake Swarms are probably the most overpowered monsters in the MM, featuring unbearably high damage even without their swarm aura, as well as their sick, spammable Pull Down attack.

The following version has that damage significantly reduced, and further restricts the use of Pull Down. Still, five of these should prove a terrifying vision for even the strongest adventuring parties:

Read More......

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Wilden: A Player's Handbook 3 preview race.

With the dew of their creation still wet upon their brows, the wilden emerge from the Feywild’s unspoiled reaches, from ancient bogs and primeval forests. Awakened to combat the growing corruption plaguing the lands, they shoulder the burden of restoring the natural order and purging the aberrant horror from the world.

The Wilden, previewed from PHB3 in a recent Dragon article, is the most alien core race presented to date. As a tribe of plant-people from the Feywild, they should fit perfectly with the primal classes in PHB2, and please players with a taste for the unorthodox. Although the article describes its origin as an obscure race from 3rd Edition's Races of the Wild book, for most players it will be a completely new concept.

A female Wilden. Current concept art is unclear on whether or not they will have mammary glands.

Their main racial feature are their aspect powers. Each day, a Wilden chooses one of three aspects of nature that will strongly condition their personality and grant him a unique encounter power. This is a very interesting idea, as it provides variety not only from a mechanic point of view, but for role playing as well. The powers are:
  • Wrath of the Ancients: Requires an area attack, and allows you to teleport and gain a bonus against your enemy this turn. Only seems useful for controllers.
  • Wrath of the Destroyer: Requires an enemy to attack you or an adjacent ally, and you can attack or charge that enemy. The attack can even impose a condition on the enemy - A really great power, but its name doesn't quite fit. It's more of a defender thing, so I'd try 'Wrath of the Guardian'.
  • Pursuit of the Hunter: When someone moves close, you shift a lot and get a striker bonus damage against him.
As for personality traits, the race lacks a sense of individuality - they see themselves as parts of a greater whole, and always use the plural, 'we', when speaking of themselves. As a young race without prejudices, they are characterized by their curiosity and openness, and a tendency to adopt the cultures of those they live with. However, They are prone to drastic personality changes, depending on the aspects they have adopted. Finally, the settlements they form tend to be small, and indistinguishable from the nature that surrounds them.

Overall, we have a new, exotic race that will add a bit of color and variety to the game, which was to be expected after the first two player's handbooks covered the basic niches. While I don't think these will be a hit like the Dragonborn, with enough support and a good visual design they would definitely have a chance to catch on, and become a permanent part of the D&D mythology.

House ruling the Wildens

I have some concerns with the implementation of the Nature's Aspect feature. Each power roughly corresponds to a role - controller, defender, striker - but while two of them provide an ability of that role, the third essentially requires you to already have that role. I think these powers would work better if their requisites focused mores on game actions and less on character builds - that is, you would tend to play a different style depending on the power you had chosen. In addition, Wrath of the Destroyer is probably too good, while Voyage of the Ancients and Pursuit of the Hunter are a bit underwhelming. Finally, Pursuit of the Hunter gives a damage bonus that really should scale over the tiers. I'd suggest the following changes:

Voyage of the Ancients - Allow the trigger to also work on ranged attacks (so that almost any character can trigger if they try hard enough), and instead of the current effect on the enemy, teleport it 3 squares. With this change the power changes from something a bit generic to real Feywild awesomeness.

Wrath of the Destroyer - Really, change it to Wrath of the Guardian. And, since the effect is really, really good, but I'd like to keep it that way, you should make the triggering condition more restrictive - have it only work when an adjacent ally is hit, but not when he is missed or when you are attacked. This way, you'd have to maneuver to make good use of it.

Pursuit of the Hunter - I'm not clear about how the trigger works, as written, but I think it would count enemies moving close to you. A better restriction would be that an enemy already close moved, changing it to something like 'an enemy that started its turn within 2 squares of you moves or shifts". Also, have the extra damage increase to 2d6 at 11th level and 3d6 at 21st.

Edit: The extra damage should definitely be limited to once per round, as it can get out of hand in combination with multiple attack powers and action points.

Wilden racial feats
No racial description is complete without a couple of race-specific feats to highlight that race's strengths and customize their features. Since the original article didn't take this into account, I suggest the following feats:

Read More......

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not at the beginning of turn: Fighter Stances

I have this thing with effects that work at the beginning of an enemy's turn. It's not just that I think they are overpowered -they usually are- but rather, that were several options to express the same game function, and they chose the worst possible one. Consider, for example, the difference with something that triggers at the end of your own turn. Outside of some corner cases of you or your target being slid or pushed by third parties between your initiative turns, both wordings are equivalent. Why, then, do I think one of them is wrong?

Let's use Rain of Steel, arguably the best Fighter daily attack power in its level, as an example. Its wording may lead to false assumptions. By having the damage take place during the enemy's turns, a reader can, as a first impression, think that that enemy is somehow responsible of that damage. That he is taking it as a consecuence of previous actions, or that he could have done something to prevent it. In short, the power is punishing opponents for being next to the fighter. But that is not true.

Imagine that the same power was written in the following way:

There are a few very minor functional changes here, but essentially this works just like the previous version. However, now it should be more clear to the reader that the power's only purpose is to deal extra damage to whoever you move next to. And, by the way, it's very good at what it does.

However, I'm not writing today's article merely to complain about unfortunate templating, or to suggest cosmetic changes. See, even if my perception of Rain of Steel (as a power that punished enemies for their choice of movement) was a lie, it was a lie that I liked. Maybe the game designers just wanted a power that dished inconditional damage all along, but I'm convinced that it would play better if the enemy was given a chance to avoid the damage. Not only would it be more balanced, but it would have far more strategic depth, and be more fun to play, both for players and DMs.

So, how would I (supposedly) improve this Fighter Stance? Just a simple fix - change the effect to trigger at the end of enemies' turns. It may not seem like much, but it makes the power much more interactive. Although your opponents now have a choice to avoid the automatic damage,
the alternatives aren't pretty - since taking opportunity attacks from a fighter is usually a losing rproposition, shifting and getting hit with Combat Challenge becomes the lesser evil. Even if the stance is weakened overall, this new version is now without its advantages, as enemies who charge you or otherwise engage you in melee will be punished. The limited playtesting I have made so far (you don't use daily powers that often, after all) has been very promising, as almost every turn I had a chance to make opportunity attacks or combat challenge attacks.

This is what it would look like:

There are several, higher level Fighter powers using the same mechanic. The revised versions are shown below:

About the power of Rain of Steel

(Warning: this paragraph contains some math. Feel free to skip it if you're not interested in the numbers) To justify the my balancing issues with RoS, let me explain just how much damage this kind of power amounts to. A non-optimized level 5 fighter with Strenth 18, a +1 Bastard sword and weapon focus should deal 1d10+6 damage on a basic attack hit, for an average of 11.5. If he can hit an enemy 60% of the time, this amounts to 6,6 average damage per attack. A single trigger of Rain of Steel, which needs no roll to hit, would deal 7,5 average damage - that is slightly higher than a basic attack, but a bit lower than some at-will powers. As contrast, a simple, pure damage daily power, like Brute Strike would make 3d10+6 (average 22) damage on a hit, or 13.2 per attack. That is less than what you'd make in the first turn you used Rain of Steel (with a minor action) and, say, a basic attack (with the standard action) against the same opponent (about 14 on average). And we're not even counting that RoS lasts for the whole encounter, and can hit several enemies at once.

Granted, Brute Strike is a pretty bad daily, and this is a particular scenario. Switching to a 2-handed weapon, like a Mordenkrad(and assuming, for simplicity, that hit rate doesn't change) would increase it's damage to an average of 30*0.6=18, whereas the basic attack+RoS trigger would be 14*0.6+10=18.4. Increasing the hit rate would benefit Brute Strike, but higher damage bonuses (which are more frequent) would favor RoS. Anyway, the point is: RoS deals a LOT of damage, turn after turn, to many targets.
Read More......

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Balancing multiclass feats

Today I'm going to take a look at multiclass feats. These feats tend to be a bargain, as they usually offer useful class abilities on top on skill training. Because of this, most characters will take one such feat at some point in their careers, even if they are not interested in further multiclassing. Unfortunately, their power level isn't completely uniform, and there are several underperforming feats, as well as a couple overpowered ones. While this is a natural situation in a system with hundreds of feats, the usual solution of just ignoring the bad ones is not feasible here, as they are a requirement for players who want to multiclass. Below, I present my suggestions to improve the ones I have found problematic, including a couple from PHB 2.

The changes were made with the following ideas in mind:
  • Power level - every multiclass feat must be worth taking by itself
  • Worse than class features - The abilities from multiclass feats should't be as good as the features from the original class. Most of the time, this means limited uses per encounter or per day, but sometimes it will be necessary to reduce their effect.
  • Reference feats - I consider that feats granting at-will powers once per encounter, or granting Healing Word style powers once per day are fine. When an ability can be used each encounter, it should last one round if it is about as good as Sneak Attack (see Sneak of Shadows) or two if is comparable to Hunter's Quarry (see Warrior of the Wild).

Changes: Limited to 1 attack/encounter. Can no longer regain the power.
Comment: Oath of Enmity may well be the single strongest class feature in the game, and being able to use it for two rounds (plus an action point) was just too good. Also, there is some ambiguity as to whether you can regain OoE when your target drops, which I've tried to fix.

Changes: Increased extra damage.
Comment: Although the effect is not as bad as it seems when used in combination with area spells, the damage bonus was just too low. This brings it closer to Hunter's Quarry, but you'll still have to hit multiple enemies to make it worthwhile.

Changes: Lasts 2 turns instead of one.
Comment: The idea was interesting, but the effect wasn't strong enough.

Changes: No longer affects enemies marked by an ally.
Comment: Oddly, the requirement of an immediate interrupt makes this a difficult feat to use by defenders. However, it is a very strong choice for melee strikers that can afford it. The change prevents the effect from triggering when the enemy attacks the defender marking him, which was a bit abusive.

Changes: Can only deal damage once.
Comment: In the original version, the effect would usually last for several turns, or even the whole encounter when the chosen monster was elite or solo. That is, in the right circumstances, this would be just as good as the full class feature. To make things worse, Divine Challenge is far better in the hands of a ranged class like a Warlock or Sorcerer than in those of a Paladin. Even with such a severe fix, the feat should still be good enough to see plenty of play.

Changes: Amount of THP granted - now fixed per tier.
Comment: This was a decent feat at higher levels, but just terrible earlier on. The new progression should provide a decent power level for all tiers of play.

Changes: Bonus increased to +2, changed to feat bonus.
Comment: I'm breaking my own rules a little, since there are tactical warlord builds whose tactical presence grants a worse bonus than this, at lower levels. Still, the feat isn't worthwhile at a mere +1, and it does get a reduced use frequency. At paragon tier and beyond, the Warlord feature becomes clearly better, but the feat remains playable.

EDITED: fixed errors in requirements of some feats
Read More......

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A slight tweak for Tieflings

Tieflings are a deceivingly powerful race, with one of the best racial bonuses (bloodhunt) and the very nice Fire Resistance. However, the usefulness of their racial encounter power (Infernal Wrath) depends too strongly on their Charisma score, which is otherwise irrelevant for many class builds. This means that Infernal Wrath becomes almost worthless, not only for relatively unusual characters like tiefling fighters or rogues, but also for builds as iconic as tiefling wizards or infernal warlocks. Since I think that the power works fine for characters with Charisma as a primary or secondary ability, I have come up with a small house rule: rather than Charisma, use one mental ability score (Int, Wis or Cha) chosen at first level. It would look as follows:

Read More......

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hybrid classes: A Player's Handbook 3 preview

While I'm still waiting for Amazon to deliver my copy of Player's Handbook 2, the very first preview of PHB3 has just come out on D&D Insider (for subscribers only). The article (labeled as 'playtest', since it's an early version of the rules) shows a very interesting concept to be presented in that book: a new multiclass system to make hybrid characters. Unlike current multiclass rules, this allows a nearly even split of features and powers between both classes from the first level. When this preview was announced, before I knew how it would be implemented, I was convinced that such a system was doomed to be utterly broken. I was wrong.
If they fix a few issues, 'real' multiclassing will be clean and fair.

I should start by stating that I really like how multiclass works in 4E. The system, admittedly conservative, allows access to some powers and most feats. Class features, on the other hand, are mostly unreachable except in a very limited form. It takes a significant feat investment to multiclass, and the most important benefits, like at-will powers and actual class features require sacrificing your paragon path, which is prohibitive. Overall, the system is costly and limited, but also flexible and almost safe. It's usually worth it for every character to multiclass a bit, and sometimes it opens very powerful options.

Enter Hybrid Multiclassing. The current system falls short when it comes to allowing characters to be as good in one class as in the other, but hybrid classes do just that. For each class, you get half the at-wills, more or less half the other powers, and roughly half the features. This could have turned out disastrous, had the designers chosen the easy route of just handing out a selection of class features. Instead, they have come up with some very clever solutions that handle most problems, at the cost of a slightly increased complexity.

It works as follows: each class has a hybrid class entry, much like a regular class description, but with reduced statistics and features. To make a hybrid character, you pick two classes and add the benefits from each hybrid entry. A character made this way should be close in power to a single class one. In addition, you can pick your powers from either of your classes, but you must have an at-will, encounter or daily power from both classes before you take a second power of the same type for a single class.

The key here is that, rather than having regular class features, hybrid characters get hybrid features, which have reduced power or restrictions in their use. Although feature selection varies, you'll always have, at least, the signature abilities for your role: defenders have marks, strikers deal extra damage, leaders heal, and controllers cry. It seems they are still experimenting with feature restrictions, though: some have decreased frequency (like healing word, limited to 1/encounter), others see their effect reduced (Divine Challenge just deals Cha modifier damage), and the rest only work when using powers of the appropiate class (like Combat Challenge or Sneak Attack). This last group is my favourite, and I hope it sees more use.

I also like how proficiencies are managed. A hybrid character is proficient with all weapons and implements available to any of its classes, but only gets armor proficiencies possessed by both. That is, a Fighter/Wizard hybrid gets martial weapons and arcane implements, but can't wear armor heavier than cloth. This ensures that characters will have the tools for each class' attacks and prevents hybrid combinations with excessive defenses, although it may make too many builds have below average armor class.

Although the whole premise is, in my opinion, very solid, we have been shown an early iteration, and it's not without issues. There is, in particular, one point where the system could fall apart - the method for acquiring additional class features. Right now, there is a feat called Hybrid Talent that you can take (just once) to gain any single class feature from one of your classes, as long as you don't already have a hybrid version of that feature.

This is wrong at many levels, and I expect it will get changed before the final version. Features vary too much from one class to other for such a feat to work properly: among other potential problems, for some classes with few relevant features it would allow hybrid characters that had virtually all the benefits from their first class, plus the hybrid feature from the second. This would be true for Wizards (who would only miss the lackluster Spellbook) or Rangers (who would get everything but the often-unused Prime Shot). In addition, there is a lot of potential abuse with strong features like Battlerager Vigor.

Overall, we have a very promising system that could add a lot of variety to the game, and induce many players to rebuild their characters from scratch. This could definitely become a major selling point for Player's Handbook 3, if they get it right. Unfortunately, PHB3 is almost a year away, and the version presented isn't fully functional: only the eight PHB classes, plus the Swordmage, are supported, and the vital Character Builder won't be compatible for now. Still, it shouldn't be difficult to adapt the rules for new classes, and there are already fan-made suggestions of hybrid versions for the PHB2 classes.

Read More......

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fighting for balance

It's not too difficult to come up with really powerful Fighter builds. On top of excellent defending capabilities, you can get absurdly high damage potential, often rivalling even the mighty Ranger. I already addressed the Battlerager Vigor class feature, but there are still a few powers that I consider broken enough to push Fighters over the top. I will take a look at them today, among other things, such as the pitiful at-will Sure Strike.

At-will powers

Comment:This change was directly taken from the WoTC errata forums, and I love it. Dual strike is typically the most serious offender in fighter damaging builds, and this removes that option, while adding a unique, fun dimension to Tempest Fighters. Comparison with Cleave is inevitable, but being both able to mark twice and restricted to dual wielding whould differentiate it enough.

Comment: This has nothing to do with overpowered builds, but Sure Strike was abysmally bad, and could lead inexperienced players to play poor characters. If my numbers are right, now it should be on par with basic attacks without the conditional bonus, and be a serious rival for other at-wills with it. I like that it encourages using different single-target at-wills, depending on the situation, as you generally have one that is just better all the time.

The following fixed at-wills just have minor modifications on them, so I list the changes rather than showing the full power blocks:

Brash Strike - In the Attack line, change 'Strength+2 vs AC' to 'Strength+1 vs AC'.

Comment: This might not be needed, but Brash Strike was undeniably strong and pushing the limits allowed to a fair at-will. I also think that the drawback turned out not to be that harsh, since it will be quite easy for enemies in melee to gain combat advantage anyways. Although this tones down the power, I think it should still be more than good enough to remain competitive.

Footwork Lure- In the Hit line, change 'slide the target into the space you left' to 'slide the target 1 square into the space you left'.

Comment: This was needed to prevent polearm users to attack targets from reach and slide them 2 squares, and makes this power the same as the Avenger's Overwhelming Strike, which was published directly with this limitation. In combination with the Polearm Momentum feat (that knocks prone after moving an enemy 2 squares), this power allowed to knock enemies prone every turn, which is quite abusive.

Encounter powers

Comment- Rain of Blows is a good candidate for power with the worst format in the game, and it leads to (oficially confirmed) interpretations suggesting that it makes between 2 and 4 attacks. This is unacceptably good, as it deals more damage than many daily powers of higher level. My suggested fix differs a bit from the original idea, but it has the advantage of being playable without the right weapons, yet not broken with them.
Read More......

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fixing Beast Mastery (III):The beasts

Here are the pet statistics to use with my new Beast Master Ranger rules. Special properties are explained below.

Animal companion special properties
Each companion has at least one special property, depending on its type. These properties use the following rules:

- Brutal Opportunist - Your companion gains +3 to damage rolls on opportunity attacks. Increase to +6 damage at 11th level, and to +9 damage at 21st level.
- Charge - Your companion gains +2 to damage rolls and +2 to speed while charging. Increase to +4 damage 11th level, and to +6 damage at 21st level.
- Distracting Flanker - Enemies flanked by your companion gain a -1 penalty to all defenses.
- Nimble Opportunist - Your companion gains +2 to hit on opportunity attacks.
- Nimble Reaction - Your companion gains a +3 bonus to AC against Opportunity Attacks
- Resilient - Your companion gains 'Resist 2 all'. Increase to 'Resist 4 all' at 11th level, and to 'Resist 6 all' at 21st level.
- Sneaky - Your companion gains +2 to damage rolls when attacking with Combat Advantage. Increase to +4 damage at 11th level, and to +6 damage at 21st level.

Superior animal companions

Superior animal companions are available to rangers through the following feat:

Superior animal companion (Heroic).
: Ranger class, Beast Mastery fighting style.
: You can choose a superior animal companion as your pet.

Superior companions are more powerful versions of conventional pet types. They feature better attack stats or new special properties. I will provide a list of superior companions in a future post, but you can look at the table below for an example of what I have in mind:

The Protector special property from the Black Bear has the following rules:

- Protector - Your companion grants you a +1 bonus to AC while adjacent to you.
Read More......

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fixing Beast Mastery (II): Beast as Weapons

The Ranger Beast Master is an awesome concept that suffers from a slightly clunky execution. This is my attempt at a cleaner implementation. The idea is to skip pet stat blocks (which I find cumbersome) and have them use their master's stats for everything but attack and movement. There is a sacrifice in realism, accuracy or whatever, but it becomes a lot easier to use. The simplified pet stats are similar to weapon stats, and fit in just one line, so you can tell one pet from other at first glance. Pet special abilities have been keyworded

These rules change the way that pet stats are generated, and (intentionally) increase the efectiveness of pet attacks. As I explained before, pet attacks were too weak, particularly in higher levels, and this directly affected Ranger Beast Powers. My revision should bring them on par with weapon basic attacks, which should allow those powers to work properly.

Beast statistics

The statistics for each category of beast companion have been simplified, and have the following presentation:

Beast: The name of this beast category.
Key ability: One of your ability scores (usually Strength or Dexterity) will be used to calculate the beast's attack bonus and damage bonus. (See Calculating Beast attack and damage bonus, below).
Prof.: A proficiency bonus that applies to all attack rolls made by the beast.
Damage.: The beast's damage die (represented by [B]).
Speed.: The beast's speed, including any special movement types.
Size: The beast's size.
Group: Beast groups are families of beasts that share certain characteristics. In game terms, some powers and feats work only when your pet belongs to a specific group.
Skills: Each beast is trained in certain skills. For these skills, you gain a +2 bonus, and your beast can make checks using your skill check bonus. For any other skill check of your beast companion, use your appropiate ability check values.
Properties: Beast properties define additional characteristics shared by beasts that might be in different categories. (Specific beast properties will be described in the * following post)

In addition, all beast companions share a few characteristics.
Level: Your beast companion's level is always equal to yours.
Healing surges: Your beast companion has two healing surges.
Vision: Your beast companion has low-light vision.

Finally, your beast shares the following game statistics with you.
- Hit Points, Bloodied Value and Healing Surge Value
- Defenses: Armor Class, Reflex, Fortitude, Will
- Ability Scores
- Initiative (a beast can only act in its master's initiative turn)

Calculating Beast attack and damage bonus

You will need a dedicated section in your character sheet for your beast companion's attack bonus and damage bonus.

- Beast attack bonus.
1/2 level + Beast proficiency bonus + Beast enhancenment bonus + key ability bonus + other modifiers
- Beast damage bonus. Apply this bonus whenever a power adds a beast's ability modifier to damage.
Beast enhancenment bonus + key ability bonus + other modifiers

Example: Predator Strike (level 1 at-will power) deals, on a hit,
"1[b] + beast's Strength modifier + your Wisdom modifier damage".
This would translate to
"1[b] + Beast damage bonus + your Wisdom modifier damage".

Enhancenment bonus: A beast can gain an enhancenment bonus from the Train beast ritual.

Weapon feats and beast attacks: In addition to the features listed in Martial Power, beast master Rangers gain the following feature:

- Martial Beast. While you are wielding a weapon, your beast's attacks can benefit from feats as if they were made with one of the weapons you are wielding.
(For example, if you have Weapon Focus with hammers and Hammer Rythm, your beast attacks will deal extra damage and damage on a miss as long as you wield a hammer).

Next: Beast categories and special properties

Read More......