Fourthcore Team Deathmatch – Toronto Tournament & 10 FTDM Character Optimization Tips

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 6, 2013


Fourthcore Team Deathmatch (FTDM) is unlike any D&D adventure you’ve every played before. Forget about fighting monsters, in this match-up player characters fight other player characters. That’s right; you get to fight your friends.

The tournament pits two teams of four against each other for exactly 1 hour of real time. Every time you kill a PC on the opposite team you earn a point. If your character is dead at the start of your turn you re-spawn and come back to life to keep fighting. At the end of the hour the team that’s scored the most points (most kills) wins. There’s no role-playing, just roll playing.

Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. Today’s the “F” is for Fourthcore Team Deathmatch, one of the most fresh and exciting D&D tournaments I’ve ever played in.

The characters are level 1. You can be any race and any class. You cannot use backgrounds or themes. Any regular equipment you can afford is allowed, but you cannot buy magic items or consumables. These PCs need to rely on their race and class features only; no wild cards. This still leaves you with a lot of options to make some really amazing builds.

One of the more interesting aspects of FTDM (if fighting other PCs wasn’t interesting enough all on its own) is that every match takes place in a unique arena. The terrain of said arena is often deadlier than the other PCs. It’s never just a huge empty room. Every arena has a theme that ties all the details together. Last year at GenCon we played in the Citadel, the Court of the Storm Lord, the Fey Wild and a Pac Man video game board. One thing about the maps is that they’re never boring.

Toronto Tournament

4thcore-logoNow that we’ve told you a little bit about FTDM and how it works it’s time to get in on the action. On Saturday, May 4, we’re hosting a FTDM tournament at Harry T North in Toronto. If you’re in the area and want to participate contact me by email (ameron at dungeonsmaster dot com) or leave a comment below. We’ve already got a decent number of players confirmed so it’s shaping up to be a pretty wild tournament. Times and teams are still to be confirmed at this time, but we’re most likely going to begin around noon. Final details will be emailed to all participants in the next week or so.

Character Optimization Tips

So you’re probably thinking that FTDM sounds pretty cool but you have no idea what to consider when making a character. After all it can’t be as simple as just making a level 1 PC, can it? Yes and no. It might seem like a simple exercise of making a character but there is a lot of strategy that needs to be taken into consideration if you want a character that will survive.

I’ve played in three FTDM tournaments and I’ve run three unofficial tournaments with my home group. I was part of the 2012 Championship team at GenCon last summer. I’m not an expert but I’ve got a fair amount of experience. With that in mind I’ve made some realizations about character creation that I’m going to share with you today. Some of these may seem pretty obvious, but if you’ve never played FTDM before you may overlook the obvious. Likewise I’m not going to give up all my secrets. After all I’m planning to defend my championship title this summer at GenCon.

  1. Versatility. Very specialized characters are usually good at one thing and only that one thing. If you don’t have the opportunity to do that one thing you’re useless. Make sure you have some kind of back-up plan so you don’t waste any of your turns. For example, melee characters should always have a ranged attack, even if it’s just a hand axe or crossbow.
  2. Second Wind. Unless you’re a Dwarf you’ll probably never use your Second Wind. You can’t kill an enemy if you’re busy wasting your standard action on Second Wind.
  3. Temporary hit points. These babies are your best friends. If anyone in the party can load up the rest of you with temps you’ll be that much harder to drop. The fact that temps can even be applied to a PC already at his maximum makes them more valuable than healing.
  4. Resistances. If you can find a power that lets you resist all damage then take it. Combine this with some temps and you’ll never fall (as we saw at GenCon).
  5. Healing. It’s unlikely you’ll have a chance to heal or be healed. Characters are killed quickly in FTDM. However, I played against a party that had all built hybrid leaders and they were able to work together to heal each other. They kept wounded allies in the fight longer thereby denying the other side an easy kill. They suffered the down sides of building hybrid characters (and lost to our team in the finals) but they did have promise.
  6. Acrobatics. Many of the maps have ledges and raised areas that the PCs can be pushed off of. Assuming you fail your save to catch the ledge than you’ll take falling damage. Only PCs trained in Acrobatics have a chance of reducing this damage. If Acrobatics is on your class list take it. If it’s not consider playing a Human, Eladrin or taking a multiclass feat to get it.
  7. Don’t attack AC. Most melee character attack AC. Therefore the most common strategy is to take the biggest, baddest armor for your PC. Nothing angers players running melee brutes more than attacks that target Will. The classes that usually target Will are often soft and have fewer maximum hit points, but if you can find a good hiding spot or you can partner up with a defender you may just survive.
  8. Human’s rule. Consider playing a Human. The extra feat, extra skill training, extra bonus to Fort, Ref, and Will, and extra at-will power should not be dismissed out of hand.
  9. Encounter powers. Since you’ll get your encounter powers back every time you re-spawn, try to find some that will really hurt the opposition. Powers that deal multiple [W] damage or that have debilitating effects like ongoing damage are great choices. This goes for racial encounter powers too. Hobgoblin Slayers and Barbarians are very popular melee builds.
  10. Daily powers. These powers do not return when you re-spawn. Since the encounter will last an hour consider taking a daily power that will have an effect that lasts until the end of the encounter rather than one that just does a bunch of damage in one shot. This is where controllers can really get a huge edge in FTDM play.

These are just the first 10 tips that came to mind. I’m pretty sure I could come up with another 0 in very short order. You see how even some things that might seem obvious should actually be given serious consideration when making your character.

If you’ve got additional FTDM character creation tips feel free to leave them in the comment. For those planning to join us on Saturday, May 4, at Harry T North or this summer at GenCon I wish you good luck and good hunting!

Looking for instant updates? Subscribe to the Dungeon’s Master feed!


Share this:
1 Sunyaku April 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm

So effects don’t drop when you are killed? Or in #10, are you saying that a stance COULD last the entire hour if you don’t die?

2 C. Steven Ross April 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm

@Sunyaku: Most conditions are removed upon Respawn, but effects that last “until the end of the encounter” or effects that can be sustained (assuming the controlling character has enough actions to do do) can last the entire match.

The wording to Stances, though, specifically mention that they are removed when a character drops to unconscious. So Daily Stances kind of suck, but Rages are pretty awesome, as an example.

3 Alton April 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Having experienced FTDM and being an avid player of the game, it is one of the best D&D experiences. It is a fresh and different perspective of 4th edition D&D.

Versatility is probably the most important point on this whole list, but the hardest to achieve. Have played the FTDM tourney at GenCon, I had no idea that anything could be so nerve-wracking in my life. The competition is fierce and intense.

4 Brendan April 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm

There some great pregens on the site, courtesy of the eminently savvy James Barlow.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: