This post was inspired by a discussion at Sarah DarkMagic’s blog about how to justify daily powers for fighters. I’ve read a few spots where people say they find daily powers for fighters hard to comprehend – how come you can only do your power strike once per day?

I put an explanation on the referenced post which I think gives a mechanism for handling this. The specific situation described in a comment is one of Indiana Jones as PC, with firing his gun as a daily power that does a lot of damage (maybe it’s a save-or-die effect). Here’s my suggestion:

How about… his gun jammed?

There’s a challenge you can set the player – if he or she needs to use a daily power a second time in a day and can’t, try and find an explanation.

Why doesn’t the fighter use his whirlwind attack of blah a second time? Maybe it makes him dizzy and he doesn’t want to risk it; maybe he missed the chance this time in the flurry of battle; maybe the day’s efforts had worn him down and he didn’t have the strength; maybe he thought the opponents were moving too fast and didn’t want to risk turning his back on them.

Just because the mechanic says it’s once a day, doesn’t mean that the role-play aspect of the battle requires that to be the explicit, stated reason.

e.g. Jack is pinned down under the beast, and yells to his gnome companion “shoot it!!!” His gnome companion doesn’t reply “sorry, can’t use my gun ’till tomorrow” and leave him to die. Rather, his companion does what you see in movies all the time and flies into a rage, charging forward to beat the beast; or the gun jams; or he realizes he left his ammunition back on the horses; or the gun is empty, and in a moment of snap judgment the gnome decides to rush forward rather than risk the reload time; or the gnome saw a vulnerable spot he thought he could get a knife through more effectively than trying to shoot through the beast’s carapace.

In essence I don’t think the powers daily-ness needs to be made explicit – treat it as a mechanical game balance rule and find an in-world, role-playing reason for the effect. This will make battles take different tones as you try to explain your fighter’s fighting style.

The same approach probably applies to cool-downs, and even I suppose to Vancian magic, though in the case of magic I think there are obvious excuses for any mechanic you choose to think of (“it’s magic!”)