Playing with the Core books only

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My group and I decided that we'd only use the Core books for our campaigns this year (PH1, PH2, DMG, MM1, MM2, so no power book and no ddi dungeon/dragon mag).

Obviously, this trend is kinda rare on these forums as I see most of you with the DDi logo under their username.

My question goes like this, and also a bit of a comment/rant:

Would you feel gimped if you had access only to these books? What are your opinion on using only core books (I know we have less options, but our campaigns take one year real time to complete and we're at our second campiagn and we've not even tried all of the classes yet).

I played a one-timer with another group that had DDi access and I could see all the extra options, but are they really needed? Are they needed right away or do you think it's something that should be added to the game after you've pretty much tried everything else in the books?

My initial opinion on the DDI content was also that it seemed always more powerful than was is presented in the core books, not just more options but almost always more powerful options. Is it something that can be confirmed or is it just my impression as I did not get an in-depth look at the DDi content. I look at the weapon feat for Githzerai and the weapon feat for Eladrin and there is a big difference there.

Would you recommend that we try a campaign with DDi? I know I like the Character Builder a lot.
Will adding DDi options to our characters make the DM's job harder? Meaning that with our team as it is, the monsters from both MM are quite balanced. If we up tha ante on our character powers and feats, will it create an imbalance?

Thanks for staying with me the whole time. We are considering DDI for our next campaign in Feb or March.

-MawOfAcamar

-Realize You are your own source of all Creation, of your own master plan.
I played in or ran eight different campaigns with this "core only" rule in 3e, and see no reason it would not work in 4e. I had fun in all of my 3e-core-only campaigns, and the other players did too. The only caveat I would offer is that errata needs to be included in that.

(4e has made it so much "safer" [in my opinion] to allow-by-default supplemental material in 4e that I am not inclined to run such a campaign in 4e.)
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.

I don't think limiting what books you use gimps your characters at all.  I only own the original three books in physical form (got some of the others in PDF before WotC put an end to that), and I often create characters using just the PHB1 to start, then add in things from other sources when I sit down at the CB.  I also perceive a discrepancy between the book material and DDI material, but I don't think a lot of it is game-breaking.


Ultimately, its up to you and your group to decide.  Just remember, the game was still fun when all you had was the original books, so limiting what books you use will still end up in a fun experience.

For the most part, you will do fine with the core rule books only, but there are some char builds that are "lagging behind" without using splat-sources...  I'm of the opinion Paladin make lousy defenders (though still strong well-rounders) without Divine Sanction (included in Divine Power).  Wizards also are just... well... lousy.  At least in terms of at-wills, without their various splats.

If your players are crunch-savvy though, this shouldn't really be a problem.  Should be fairly obvious which classes/builds are lagging behind (Back when we only had PHB1, we figured out pretty quickly that Chaladins couldn't defend worth a damn, since their MBAs were bascially garaunteed to stink)
Yes.

I rather enjoy my options, and the paging through books and PDFs required. I mean, I could play a PHB only game and enjoy it, but I'd vastly prefer more things thrown into the mix.
I've been running SCAP for about 2 years now.   We had got to Chapter 4 when 4E came out and I decided to convert to 4E.  Back then we obviously only had the PHB, DMG and MM.   The players all converted their characters into PHB characters of 5th or 6th level (can't quite recall) and off we went.

We are still using only PHB rules for the players, although I have started to give them equipment out of DDi (I have a subscription as you can see).   I keep abreast of all the latest DDi bits and I throw monsters and traps at them from any DDi publication I fancy.   But they stick to the PHB.   They all own a hardback copy of the book and are happy to explore this book before moving on to other supplements.  No one has died in an unrecoverable manner yet so there has been no need to make new characters at all.  I think if that happened I might open up PHB2 (which I own) but would probably prefer them to just pick a new class from the PHB which has not been tried yet.

Actually, I have just recently bought all three of the first Powers books and have said they can start using stuff from those now when they level up (and with retraining).  But so far there has been no interest particularly.

The campaign is currently sat at 16th level and I can honestly say it has had zero downside to restricting the PCs to using PHB only material.   Equally I don't think things have ever got unbalanced with the use of monsters and traps from all over 4E.   I am pleased to say that so far I am not seeing the power creep I did when the 3E splatbooks came out.

But from our perspective, sticking to the PHB for characters for this campaign means that when we start up our next campaign we have a whole raft of new stuff to play with which will make that campaign a completely fresh game - that has to be a good thing.

I really think you could run an entire campaign with PCs sticking to PHB1 for a year.  Then start a new campaign with PCs using PHB2 the next year.  And so on.   I reckon it would work fine.

Cheers
Blakey

I think you're certain to still have fun.  I personally find these games frustrating, because I want to use the material that I've paid for and perused looking for interesting builds, but if no one in your group is particularly bothered about it then it shouldn't interfere with anything.


I will say that I don't see too much distinction in the power level between what you've labelled core and everything else, particularly if you consider all the errata.  The more supplemental material probably goes through less playtesting overall, so a few more overpowered options may get through initially, and increasing the number of options just about always allows for more powerful builds, but the general power level isn't inherently that different IMO.

'Core only' was a great idea in 3.x, which was overloaded with the possible combinations of multi- and prestige classes, feats, and so forth.  4e is, if anything, pumping out supplements even faster, but with the more restrictive multi-classing, and with many feats specific to race/class/build, the dis-synergy is more subdued.  Also, in 4e, 'core' is broader than it was, so you'll still have almost all classes available, for instance.

In general, I'd say that 4e works fine if you want to restrict it to certain books (or certain power sources, say) for a single campaign with one set of characters.  Over the long haul, though, each class is not really good for that many different PCs within the same group (it'd be pretty tough to make a 3rd greatweapon fighter who doesn't seem a lot like the previous two, but it's easy enough to make a Warden that's unique compared to previous non-warden defenders played in the same group).

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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My group and I decided that we'd only use the Core books for our campaigns this year (PH1, PH2, DMG, MM1, MM2, so no power book and no ddi dungeon/dragon mag).
-MawOfAcamar



See, the thing is, everything is Core.  All of those books plus Dragon/Dungeon that you are excluding are Core.  There's nothing wrong with excluding them, but saying you're only using the Core books is not correct.
As a DM, I value the AV and AV2 for treasure generation, so you should keep that in mind. The treasure in the PHB is very limiting in regards what kinds of items are available at each level.
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One other point of difference: 3E's splatbooks often involved adding new systems or subsystems to the game; in some cases the entire book was about that. This was my biggest hang-up with things like psionics and incarnum - regardless of power issues, I didn't really want to take the time to learn all of the new mechanics.

This is rarely an issue in 4E though, so taking one or two things from a book usually won't add to your workload. As for the power level, it's all developed to the same standard; there may be occasional too strong or too weak things that slip through, but also that's true of the PHB1 and all of the other books you listed - the errata is pretty good at catching and correcting the too-strong stuff; things that are too weak are usually superceded by a new version, so if you see a power or feat that's flat-out better than an old one (especially one from the PHB1) it's probably intentional, meant to replace the old one that wasn't performing up to expectations.
Bravo, Neutronium. Bravo. Couldn't have said it better myself. 4E is trying its best not to mess with the systems out there (yes, psionics will be introduced in PHB3, but so far it's not looking too bad), so occasionally sampling from something else won't break the game.
As for me, I accept races from the other campaign books, but not classes, because I don't own the books, I'm not gonna buy the books, and the DDI Compendium is really tedious to navigate when you're trying to look through a class's entire power and feat list.
At the moment, I'm using an assassin from DDI (fun, and some interesting new takes on stealth and shadow magic), and a warforged battlerager (fun, and I get to feel like a Tiger tank). My other players are using classes and feats from only the core-est of core (PHB 1&2), and we're all having fun. You can have oodles of fun with just the core books, as I have been. I just got the subscription for management purposes, and have found it's helpful. It's a tad expensive, but the money you'll save from not having to go out and buy supplements like Adventurer's Vault should make the subscription pay for itself just from the Compendium. 

The original core books said that this was our game too. It doesn't feel like that anymore.

The lack of power books will be a bigger problem than the lack of DDI.  Divine Power gave paladins mechanical fixes that needed to be there, especially for strength paladins.   Several classes got more interesting builds: pacifist cleric, illusionist wizard, eagle shaman, etc. that play a lot differently than the other builds the classes have without being overpowered.  Our first campaign only had the core books and adventurers vault and we had fun through heroic, but for later campaigns the power books and PHB2 added a lot of fun and varierty without being overpowered.

DDI is useful, but not as essential.  Dragon adds enough useful feats, pwoers and paths that really round out characters with the class essential articles.  The character builder is nice as well, as long as you make sure to double check its math.
If you're used to using all of the power books and DDI material, you will feel gimped.  However, compared to most other PC's, it should all even out.  There will always be certain builds that will feel weaker or stronger than average whether you use the full set of options or any subset.

I would ensure that you get the updated errata as there are some things that are clearly overpowered or underpowered that are fixed in the errata.
<\ \>tuntman
My current DM prophecized that Wizards would amp up the power considerably in the "new" books after the core, upsetting the balance. So far he's been proven wrong, with the exception of a few oddities (Windrise Ports or whatever that Background was called, ...).

So, to answer the OPs question: No, these days I probably wouldn't play in a game where I wasn't allowed to use all or at least most of the books. I like to have options and, as others have pointed out, some classes are just plain better or worse than others without the support of "[Source] Power" books and similar ones.
I really don't see it as to much of a problem, and I would gladly join your game with "Core Books Only".   Are there some things that I would miss from the power books, yeah there are, but I had a great time with the limited options given to me when the Barbarian was playtested, and now I could easily just play the PBH2 Barbarian without all the other fun stuff in Primal Power. 

Anyway, if you and your group are cool with it run with it man.

best of luck.  
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Hi guys, regarding the same topic, I recently got the 3 core books and will start to run a campaign. Do you think these original 3 cores are obsolete now? I am saving up for the other supplements and have no problems if my players wants to use splats. 
Hi guys, regarding the same topic, I recently got the 3 core books and will start to run a campaign. Do you think these original 3 cores are obsolete now? I am saving up for the other supplements and have no problems if my players wants to use splats. 


The 3 core books are not obsolete.  Despite what some poeple believe, you can play complete campaigns with nothing more.  If you want more variety you can always create your own material.  Plenty of material is available on these forums althought you will need to determine how balanced it is.  The game rules in the PHB1 haven't been reproduced in another book so you undoubtably need that book.  While some material has been expanded upon, the DMG1 is still a good starting point.  The MM1 could potentially be unused if you created all new monster but it is still a good source to compare the power of your new creations.  (My first 3 or 4 games used only new monsters I created.)

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Hi guys, regarding the same topic, I recently got the 3 core books and will start to run a campaign. Do you think these original 3 cores are obsolete now? I am saving up for the other supplements and have no problems if my players wants to use splats. 


You still need the core books.  They are not obsolete.  What you should do is also get the latest rules updates and errata.  They are available on the D&D site.  There are a number of errors and typos that are caught after they were published.
<\ \>tuntman
Would you feel gimped if you had access only to these books? What are your opinion on using only core books (I know we have less options, but our campaigns take one year real time to complete and we're at our second campiagn and we've not even tried all of the classes yet).

Gimped? No, not really. Depends on the role I was playing. Still not gimped, but I've grown a preference for the Shielding Cleric and Artificer. I'd use the time to play a Warden or Shaman, or one of the other classes that I haven't had a chance to really see in action yet.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

Currently I've restricted my game to the PHB1,2 DMG and MM1,2 through until level 5.  I've done this for a couple reasons.  One to limit the "splat" that I have to keep track of in order to keep the game in line.  I also don't like the idea of playing classes out of a book that isn't even released yet.
Also, I feel it will give the players, and myself, a better grasp of the system and an understanding of how things work. 
If the campaign survived through level 5, I'm opening up the Powers books and PHB3 if it's released.  They'll be able to reform their characters or create total new one.  I figure if the interest still holds by then, it may be worth investing the money on more books.
I still won't use Dragon/Dungeon though.. again because I like to keep a reign on all the extras I'd have to keep track of.
Restricting books doesn't have to be bad at all. In fact I think it's great if a group is willing to take this approach and later revisit the game with newer books at a later date! Gives different campaigns a completely different flavour. Is it needed? No. Is it something most people should do? I'd wager no. But it's still an amazing idea if your group likes it.

Personally I'd like a game with a similar idea, only completely opposite in execution. Since I'm weak for classic D&D content (perhaps I haven't gamed enough throughout my years, I don't know; or perhaps I'm afraid of change), I don't relate very well to Devas, Genasi, Changelings etc and also several of the non-core classes. What I'd like to see is a game that allowed all of PHB1 (perhaps even banning the Dragonborn? somehow that one sits okay with me for being a "breath of fresh air in 4E" though - I am aware of my hypocrisy), with the classic additions in PHB2 such as Gnomes, Bards, Barbarians etc being welcomed in, along with all the [Source] Power books for more customization options.

This would make the game feel much more classic and down to earth in some way, without losing the greatness of 4E or the vast customization options the Power books have made me come to love.

Am I wrong? Certainly not, but my group might not like a game like that. Are you wrong? Certainly not, and if your group seems to like it then just freaking go for it already!

Just make sure to print out the latest errata. No matter what style of game you're aiming for, you don't want rangers to attack an unlimited amount of times in a round.

Bard.jpg

I haven't - for the first time since I started playing DnD - felt the need to ban a single book or DDI article or anything from this game. I've banned the odd thing or changed it, like Hero of Faith (which was pure broken) but never whole supplements or articles.

Amazingly, nothing has "broken" the game yet and everything has been really in line with certain power expectations. Given that I avoid the Windrise ports background in my non-FR game and disallow it anyway even when I do run FR - I have not really encountered any major problems in any of my games. It's such an odd thing that I don't really bother keeping track of most new books and supplements except for an initial read. It's just not required anymore.
In 3.5, I bought every single book and a lot of 3rd party splat books and resources, like Ptolus and Worlds Largest Dungeon. I love the books but now I have decided to use the PHB 1, 2 3 (when it comes out), the DMG 1 and 2, and the Monster Manuals as they come out as my core. I love the dragons so I always grab the draconomicons but the books today are a little smaller and more expensive than 3.5 counterparts, so I have drawn away from purchasing as much.

In all honesty, we pretty much just use the PHB 1 and 2 and Adventurer's Vault for players and I use the DMG and one Monster Manual. I design everything else myself. I have designed and published a splay book for 3.5 and I understand creature design and keeping balance pretty well... so, I think the biggest thing is time.

You only need the PHB, DMG and MM to play and it is more than enough to keep games lasting for years because inevitably you will be creating custom material for your group at some point, whether it be an encounter power that the fighter wants to make or a custom artifact, you will be making custom stuff... so, if you just use the core basic books, be prepared to make lots of custom stuff and have less variety but no matter how many books you get, you will be making custom material, as a DM, for your group.
as a player i like having tons of options to better customize my character but only using the core books doesnt limit you. it is more like the other books expand on whats already good. i also agree about adenturers vault 1 and 2(even tho i dont own 2 yet) it greatly helps with different kinds of treasure. i would also like to point out that anything can break a game if your creative enough and do enough hard work to try to break it. thats just my 2 cents do with it what you will
Well I love the power books, and even FR.  When the FR book came out i converted my warlock from fey to dark because it fit her much better.  I love having options for characters, heck currently I'm using primal power for my barbarian, I'm playing a whirling slayer because it looked more interesting to me than the others.
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.
If the players bought and own the books, or they have DDI subscriptions, and you won't let them use any of the stuff they paid for, then they might be angry.  I own a bunch of 4e books so I know I'd be annoyed if I was playing in a game and the DM banned half of the books I own because he heard a rumor somewhere that everything is overpowered.

4e is balanced much better than 3e ever was, and unlike 3e, I think the newer books actually help balance rather than destroying it.  As others have said, Divine Power makes the Paladin much more playable and Arcane Power helps the Wizard quite a bit.
In 3.X, the source books was a pain and I hated them with a passion every time I ran a game. I always house-ruled core books only. However in 4th edition, I'm actually excited to see what's new and upcoming. A DDi subscription makes a world of difference in making it easy and fun to make a character without going through tons of books and mags.

I would highly suggest having your group pitch in for 1-2 accounts and share it among each other. The account can support up to 5 different computers (5x per update) and it's pure awesomeness. No longer do I dread a cheezy stupid build some player brings me. Because not only is this system much more balanced but cheezy builds are few and far between.

However, this system thrives on erratas and suplements and while you can do just fiind with core books - the class balance is better with more sources (IE Paladin Avenger etc) and not to mention more exciting to play.
"DMs are not always right, but whatever the DM says, goes. And if he says enough stupid stuff, his players go too." - Salla
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



I find opinions like this very humorous.

Because I felt like I needed to voice an unneeded opinion on an unneeded voiced thought about someones opinion. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.



               Because you have the attitude that you think just because you invest a lot of money into the books you are supposed to be allowed to use them. You buy books at your own discretion. What if you spend hours working on a character and the DM doesn't allow you to use that character because of "X" reason? Do you feel that because you invested hours in making that character you should be allowed to use it?
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.



               Because you have the attitude that you think just because you invest a lot of money into the books you are supposed to be allowed to use them. You buy books at your own discretion. What if you spend hours working on a character and the DM doesn't allow you to use that character because of "X" reason? Do you feel that because you invested hours in making that character you should be allowed to use it?



I remember you from that other thread.  I'm so glad I'm not one of your players.  Do you double as a professional dominatrix?
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.



               Because you have the attitude that you think just because you invest a lot of money into the books you are supposed to be allowed to use them. You buy books at your own discretion. What if you spend hours working on a character and the DM doesn't allow you to use that character because of "X" reason? Do you feel that because you invested hours in making that character you should be allowed to use it?



I remember you from that other thread.  I'm so glad I'm not one of your players.  Do you double as a professional dominatrix?




                            Thats my evening job. During the day I work at the Lego factory. Tongue out
I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.



               Because you have the attitude that you think just because you invest a lot of money into the books you are supposed to be allowed to use them. You buy books at your own discretion. What if you spend hours working on a character and the DM doesn't allow you to use that character because of "X" reason? Do you feel that because you invested hours in making that character you should be allowed to use it?




Yes, because thankfully I have a reasonable DM who isn't on some dominating power trip. 

I personally wouldn't play in a phb1 campaign, mainly because I've invested money into ddi and books for the purpose of having character options. If that's what your group wants, though, then there's nothing wrong with that. I just don't really see a reason for it.




                   I find opinions like this very humorous.



Why is this humorous? Because I prefer to get my money's worth? Because I prefer to have more options to flesh my character out with? Luckily, I don't have this problem with my DM. If we're having fun, he's having fun.



               Because you have the attitude that you think just because you invest a lot of money into the books you are supposed to be allowed to use them. You buy books at your own discretion. What if you spend hours working on a character and the DM doesn't allow you to use that character because of "X" reason? Do you feel that because you invested hours in making that character you should be allowed to use it?




Yes, because thankfully I have a reasonable DM who isn't on some dominating power trip. 





                   If you think because a DM disallows something he or she is on a power trip then you are very very delusional.

Disallowing one or two things no. I just direct that statement at you specifically.
Disallowing one or two things no. I just direct that statement at you specifically.




                   So you limit the DM to what he can and cannot allow?
I prefer the DM have the ability to sit down and talk to his players about how they feel and what kind of game everyone wants to have. You know... reasonable. You seem to have the "RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!" attitude. As I said earlier, I wouldn't play in a game with huge restrictions like this, as I would not be having fun. The end.
I prefer the DM have the ability to sit down and talk to his players about how they feel and what kind of game everyone wants to have. You know... reasonable.




                         Oh thats not a problem at all but, from what I got out of your posts if the DM disallows things then he is on a powertrip and if you invest a lot of time and money in something then it should be allowed.