I haven’t really thought much about the Endurance skill until this past weekend. I guess I’m typical, as taken by Wimwick’s point about Endurance’s usefulness in his writeup on Dwarves. Generally in my games endurance doesn’t come up; maybe it’s because we’re only at the heroic tier, playing in pretty temperate environment. Or maybe most monsters and traps just make use of a PC’s fortitude defense instead of tapping endurance. In addition, many of skill challenges I’ve seen are written as social combats instead of physical challenges (or obstacle courses) where endurance might be useful. This observation is just my experience, and I couldn’t say what the typical 4e experience is like.
If we accept that Endurance is a lackluster skill, my first question is when is it useful? Has anyone used in a game-saving or creative way? Has training in Endurance saved a character’s ass? When I think of a character with a high Endurance, I picture Colonel Quaritch from Avatar…there’s a dude who can take a lot of punishment. I just don’t know if it’s worth spending a “trained” slot to capture that aspect of a character.
I thought of a few things where I might house rule to let a player use Endurance check to do a super-human stunt. I don’t have my PHB handy, so if any these are actually in the rules, they’re a good idea.
- Regain a spent healing surge, or a bonus to a roll where a consequence of failure is a lost healing surge.
- Make an action when at 0 hit points.
- Get a bonus to Fortitude defense or saving throw.
- Resist elemental or force damage.
- Reduce falling damage.
- Allow the character to take feats that let him stay standing longer.
The other way to make Endurance more useful is to make it more relevant. In my games we often handwave a lot of activities where the characters aren’t active in a role-playing or combat situation. But it’s reasonable to expect Endurance checks if the characters are carrying bodies or heavy treasure back out of a dungeon (failure means they have to stop and rest). Characters may be required to make Endurance checks to travel more than 6, 8, 10, etc hours a day (if on foot). I know that after a few hours of solid hiking, I’m ready to lay down and call it a day. I don’t like these uses of the skill, because it penalizes the whole party for having someone who is bad at endurance, rather than reward a player that took the effort to spend a training slot.
What are the parallels of Endurance to Stealth? If a party is mixedly stealthy, there are ways for the whole party to overcome the obstacles, but I feel like if a party is super hearty or wimpy it would affect which adventures they chose to go on (stay in town vs scale an impenetrable cliff in the Ice Mountains to get to a dragon’s nest) rather than affect an individual challenge in an adventure. I suppose some people could scale the wall while others charge the front gates…