Starting a 4e campaign, where to start/which books.

24 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hey there guys, I have been lurking around the forums here for about 2 months. A few of us play 3.5 in my group still, but 3 of us are interested in starting a 4e campaign. We will be using d20pro as we are sorta scattered throughout the US/Canada. So I guess first and foremost. What books asside from the obvious 3 woul yall recommend starting with.

We want to get into a Dark Sun campaign, but are newbs to the 4e rules for the most part. My buddy and I ran some mock battles to figure some of the stuff out, but we are just wondering what the best course of action would be to start with.


I think with D20pro we would just "pretend" we are sitting at the table and roll a lot of the defenses as if we were sitting there rolling them with real dice. And then I (the dm) would apply the damage if they hit.


At any rate, I am looking to get the Dm guide and MM1 to start so we can kind of get a grip on the core rules. And Dark Sun will be our chosen campaign setting. Is there anything else I should do to prepare. I am currently the only with a DDI account, and can roll their characters up using that or they can roll them up normally and email them to me. So DDI is not (hopefully) going to be an issue.         


Thanks.    
Given that you've got some experience with D&D already, I'd recommend going with the PHB as your player's book.  More options, more variety.  Dark Sun Campaign Setting book is also pretty clearly important.

DDI is a very useful tool, but it doesn't contain everything.  PHB and DMG are important.  As far as monster books, if you've got D&D experience, then DDI will be plenty good enough as far as monsters are concerned.  What it lacks compared to an actual MM is mostly in the fluff, pictures, and tactics, all of which you sound capable of figuring out on your own.

A Rules Compendium is also probably a wise choice.  In the three years since 4e has been out, a number of the rules have seen major revisions, and it's really hard to keep track of them all through DDI alone.  It's not perfect, but it is the go-to resource, especially for those new to 4e.

I really would recommend getting physical copies of the player book for any class you are going to be actually playing, however.  PHB, PHB2, PHB3, Heroes Of X, and possibly the Arcane/Divine/Primal/Psionic/Martial Power books.  You can find the class via the DDI tools, decide what you want, and then snipe it out of a real book.  DDI does not always have complete information about every class feature or unique rules element.  One example that comes straight to mind is the Beastmaster Ranger, which is contained in Martial Power (one, I think...?).  The options are there in the Character Builder, but it doesn't say things like how to control it, how to give it orders, etc.  That stuff is only in the printed text.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
If you're only picking up a few books now skip the MM1 and go with the Monster Vault.  The monsters are better designed.

@feetz_grande on Twitter

What books asside from the obvious 3 woul yall recommend starting with.

We want to get into a Dark Sun campaign, but are newbs to the 4e rules for the most part. My buddy and I ran some mock battles to figure some of the stuff out, but we are just wondering what the best course of action would be to start with.

Dark Sun hasn't been supported in Essentials, as yet, so you'd want the 'obvious 3' - PH1, DMG1, MM* - rather than the 'obvious 10' Essentials products.

For Dark Sun, you will definitely want PH3, which includes all the Psionic classes!  PH2 wouldn't be a bad idea either, at minimum, Sorcerers are a nice inclusion in DS, and there are some important feats in there, too.

*you probably don't want the MM1 for Dark Sun, it's monsters are balanced for less 'deadly' campaigns.  MM3 would be a better bet.  The Monster Vault boxed set would also be good, though you pay for a lot of tokens that'll be of no great use to you, since you're not playing around a table.

At any rate, I am looking to get the Dm guide and MM1 to start so we can kind of get a grip on the core rules. And Dark Sun will be our chosen campaign setting. Is there anything else I should do to prepare.

PH1 will be a bigger help on the rules than the DMG (though, of course, you'll want both).  A MM is probably a good idea, but probably not MM1. 

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

If you're only picking up a few books now skip the MM1 and go with the Monster Vault.  The monsters are better designed.


MM1 has some classic favourite monsters in it, but yes, they are a little boring, don't hit hard enough and the elites and solos are broken. Still, WotC are relasing updates for it.

Monster Vault has some of the MM1 monsters updated in it, but far from all.

Thanks for the book suggestions everyone. To recap I should probably get:

PHB1,2,3
Monster Vault (not MM1)
DMG
Dark Sun Campaign Setting
and Rules Compendium

Is there only one Rules Compendium? Or are there a few?

Hi!


I just reccommend (if you can) to get a MM too...MV is a great product, but I use it as an "alternative" to MM, rather than an update...I really like MMs now (I wasn't their fan in 3.x)!


Ok with everything else that's benn said. ;)


 


Oh...and have fun!


 


Thanks for the book suggestions everyone. To recap I should probably get:

PHB1,2,3
Monster Vault (not MM1)
DMG
Dark Sun Campaign Setting
and Rules Compendium

Is there only one Rules Compendium? Or are there a few?



Since Dark Sun is my campaign of choice as well. I would recommend

Dark Sun Campaign Guide and Creature Catalog
DMG1
PHB 1, 2, 3.  (2 has your primal Leader, and Goliath, aka, Half Giant.  3 has your Psionic Classes, which are very important for a true Dark Sun feel)

Monster Vault - the DS creature catalog has a nice selection of monsters, and MV fills in nicely, since the monsters are updated with new numbers.

Since you have a DDI subscription, I would recommend MM3 if you do get a Monster Manual.  This book, along with Monster Vault and the DS Creature Catalog will give you a feel for the damages that should be used, so that if you grab MM1 monsters from the online compendium, you can adjust values as needed.

And a Rules Compendium, simply because it is the current and up-to-date source of rules and errata.

"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
Oh right, the DS Creature Catalog...very important.  Lots of good DS-flavored monsters in that.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Cool, thanks guys. I think I will get started collecting these. One of my players asked me if monsters in the core monster manual books will be an issue to put into a Dark Sun setting. I guess he is concerned that if the monster wouldn't be in that world then why do I need those books? I still have yet to read the Dark Sun Campaign setting book and the DS creature catalogue to gleen some insight on this question, so I ask you.


While I am thinking about this I am curious how you all deal with trouble players. I guess trouble may be a harsh word. But lets say someone goes to purchase an item from a vendor, I randomly generate a list of items and they don't like the list so they try to "roleplay" in other words metagame (hence the quotes) a way to get better items on the shop.


At any rate, I appreciate the help guys and have been learning dming and making a lot of mistakes so I am trying to reduce my mistakes now since I have learned a lot more. These guys tend to frustrate me while I am dming, "What that DC is only 13 I rolled a 14!" or "HOW can he FLY and cast ANOTHER spell!" I don't give them specific information for reasons of discovery. Monster might have a ring of flying for example that he prefers to have active always, said ring is a reward if the encounter is defeated successfully.

At any rate, I am just seeking more advice that will apply to my 4.0 campaign. And with that I think I just derailed my own topic. 

Thanks again, I do appreciate it.             
  or "HOW can he FLY and cast ANOTHER spell!" I don't give them specific information for reasons of discovery. Monster might have a ring of flying for example that he prefers to have active always, said ring is a reward if the encounter is defeated successfully.


There isnt really a reason that will come up (as once you have full on personal flying perhaps around level 16 or so I am pretty sure there isnt any issue of using any power while in flight.) and how would the characters know anyway? well in 4e you might make arcana or history checks to get clues.
Monster/NPC ability to fly independent of any method heros use  - but to follow through on my point...
An NPC who is flying magically might have lived on an extradimensional plane of air for 60 years where he or his ancestors created relationships with air elementals which now serve him transporting him lifting objects for him (magehand and more) or perhaps his cult has sold off there first borns a few generation back and he has that ring you mentioned....but it just wont work for anyone not of his blood or without the rituals tying them to the cult...

When NPCs do things no reason to limit your imagination about how to be based on something that is at all in the Players handbook.

For that matter pcs can picture there abilities as happening whatever way they like ... see Dynamic Flavoring in my sig.. .Levelling up is done off camera they can imagine that however they like too.

What are threads for if not derailing.

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

These guys tend to frustrate me while I am dming, "What that DC is only 13 I rolled a 14!" or "HOW can he FLY and cast ANOTHER spell!" I don't give them specific information for reasons of discovery. Monster might have a ring of flying for example that he prefers to have active always, said ring is a reward if the encounter is defeated successfully.
 



Since we switched to 4e, with the monsters using completely different mechanics from PCs, the few players in my group whom did that lost the habit. Monsters in 4e have unique and special abilities distinct from players characters spells or exploits.
Also if it's a new system for everyone of you, they will be less likely to know every DC in advance, a little surprise here and there. Fun times ahead garanteed, we hit a few bumps at first but now things are running so much smoother than before, I would not want to look back. Happy gaming.
-Realize You are your own source of all Creation, of your own master plan.
@Garthanos, man you sure are imaginative. I would never have thought to look so much outside the box. I have been so much conforming to the rules to "beat their habits" rather than saying "well, make a knowlege(whatever) check and I will decide if you know." Granted, everytime I get imaginative they throw it back down to "thats not in the rules" or "that doesn't make sense." Or, my latest favorite is "how did you come up with that DC?" This was in reference to the "Axe of the Dwarvish Lords" campaign where they finally encountered the axe. During the fight one of them got turned to stone. I basically made the Dc a 32 I had to be creative because I don't know the AD&D rules for saves versus petrify. So I just made up a DC based on the spell, the level of the weilder and the fact that it is an effect on an artifact created by a God for the Dwarves.

@Modern_Iconoclast, what you say is very encouraging to me. My dad and one of my best friends play with us and they are constantly talking to me about the two "trouble" players who know the 3.5 rules back and forth (so they think). I have learned a few things to throw some curve balls their way, though, which kind of proves they don't know as much as they think they do. They constantly say "we are just making sure you are applying the rules correctly" implying that I am not all of the time. Yes I make mistakes, but who doesn't. Additionaly, I see the rules more of a guideline rather than an absolute so if something MUST happen a specific way (I try to limit these) then I kind of tweak the applicable rules. Again, I try to limit absolutes.

At any rate, this is some awesome advice and I look forward to diving into 4e. Thank you all!
once you get all that, consider the DMG 2.  it has a lot of good stuff about just running games in general.  lots of advice on running games, and just making the game fun for everyone.  and some revamped skill challenge stuff (see also critical-hits.com). 

and from what i've heard, Essentials products may help ease the transition for 3.x players.  let them check out stuff and see what they might like as well.

or something.

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

@Garthanos, man you sure are imaginative. I would never have thought to look so much outside the box. I have been so much conforming to the rules to "beat their habits" rather than saying "well, make a knowlege(whatever) check and I will decide if you know." Granted, everytime I get imaginative they throw it back down to "thats not in the rules" or "that doesn't make sense."  



In 4e you are actually free to make up the "game world"  methods for things they are quite literally not naled down you have basically default flavor 

If 3e you had a standard trip maneuver right? with rather specific limits that are only useable under specific circumstancces you cant trip something without legs right? well In 4e you might have a power see the knock down assault under Fighter in my sig and the methods of it are something you decide based on the circumstances its a little more like saying the fighter with that ability knows judo.

OR even more likely you have what we call a page 42 ruling ie you have guidelines improvise it ... the example given in I think the DMs kit actually uses Trip --- mentions using an Athletics check to enable launching an attack that while not doing damage knocks your enemy prone pretty normal - but what if your player is saying I want to use my magehand to trip em as they go by... The DM asks for an Arcana check and an attack roll based on intelligence (same roll as most of the wizards powers)  
 
Players can go outside the box too.
 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

once you get all that, consider the DMG 2.  



I second that... The DMG 2 has great stuff that is my favorite of the books actually does that make this post my first on topic one for the thread?
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Cool, thanks guys. I think I will get started collecting these. One of my players asked me if monsters in the core monster manual books will be an issue to put into a Dark Sun setting. I guess he is concerned that if the monster wouldn't be in that world then why do I need those books? I still have yet to read the Dark Sun Campaign setting book and the DS creature catalogue to gleen some insight on this question, so I ask you.       



The Dark Sun Creature Catalog has 4 Monster themes in it.  You could slap a theme on a MV monster to give it an Athasian vibe.  Also, reskinning is your friend.  No Orcs in Athas?  Use the stats provided in the MV but reskin it as a Tarek.

@feetz_grande on Twitter

Cool, thanks guys. I think I will get started collecting these. One of my players asked me if monsters in the core monster manual books will be an issue to put into a Dark Sun setting. I guess he is concerned that if the monster wouldn't be in that world then why do I need those books? I still have yet to read the Dark Sun Campaign setting book and the DS creature catalogue to gleen some insight on this question, so I ask you.       



The Dark Sun Creature Catalog has 4 Monster themes in it.  You could slap a theme on a MV monster to give it an Athasian vibe.  Also, reskinning is your friend.  No Orcs in Athas?  Use the stats provided in the MV but reskin it as a Tarek.



^ this.

Depending on how deep into the lore you go (4e doesn't go much into DS history like the previous editions do) certain races are extinct.  Certain monsters don't exist, etc.  But nothing stops you from taking a goblin out of the MV, and calling it something else.. something reptillian, with a desert-y feel to it.
"Five million Cybermen, easy. One Doctor? NOW you're scared!" - Rose Tyler
But lets say someone goes to purchase an item from a vendor, I randomly generate a list of items and they don't like the list so they try to "roleplay" in other words metagame (hence the quotes) a way to get better items on the shop.


Just tell that player the NPC doesn't have that item and no haggling is going to make it appear! Part of the fun is wanting something and having to work or have the patience to get it. Then it's so much sweeter then they do.  

While I am thinking about this I am curious how you all deal with trouble players. I guess trouble may be a harsh word. But lets say someone goes to purchase an item from a vendor, I randomly generate a list of items and they don't like the list so they try to "roleplay" in other words metagame (hence the quotes) a way to get better items on the shop.

There's not much point in randomly generating what an NPC has.  He should have things you'd be OK with the  PCs buying from him, nothing else.  It's your campaign, you're creating the world the PCs interact with, it's your perogative to use that to move the story in the direction you want.  If that includes making an item that 'should' be readily available suddenly, coincidentally, hard-to-find, you can totally do that. 

These guys tend to frustrate me while I am dming, "What that DC is only 13 I rolled a 14!" or "HOW can he FLY and cast ANOTHER spell!" I don't give them specific information for reasons of discovery. Monster might have a ring of flying for example that he prefers to have active always, said ring is a reward if the encounter is defeated successfully.

This is JMHO, but I feel that 4e plays best (especially in combat) with everything 'above board.'  Magic items are easily detected with an Arcana Check, now, and identified durring a short rest, so there's not a lot to be gained by being cagey about where an ability is coming from.  If a monster has a ring that lets it fly, make it obvious - glowy magic light coming from the ring forming into ghosly wings, the NPC rubbing the ring and saying a command word, etc - that he's using it.  In the past, letting PCs puzzle out what items might be magical and how they might work would save them limitted low-level-spell resources, so keeping things mysterious (and frustrating, at times) made sense as part of the challenge.  In 4e, it's more about the cool factor.

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!


These guys tend to frustrate me while I am dming, "What that DC is only 13 I rolled a 14!" or "HOW can he FLY and cast ANOTHER spell!" I don't give them specific information for reasons of discovery. Monster might have a ring of flying for example that he prefers to have active always, said ring is a reward if the encounter is defeated successfully.

This is JMHO, but I feel that 4e plays best (especially in combat) with everything 'above board.'  Magic items are easily detected with an Arcana Check, now, and identified durring a short rest, so there's not a lot to be gained by being cagey about where an ability is coming from.  If a monster has a ring that lets it fly, make it obvious - glowy magic light coming from the ring forming into ghosly wings, the NPC rubbing the ring and saying a command word, etc - that he's using it.  In the past, letting PCs puzzle out what items might be magical and how they might work would save them limitted low-level-spell resources, so keeping things mysterious (and frustrating, at times) made sense as part of the challenge.  In 4e, it's more about the cool factor.



And simultaneously anything you want can be considered a non standard or unique item and take a minor custom ritual or side quest to figure out what it does it says so in the players handbook  ... so if that is what you want the arcana check may only give the starting clues... it can be just as much a plot pusher as it sometimes was.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

All great advice and all is very much appreciated. I don't have a major issue with adding some armor into "shops" if the players can purchase it and have gold enough to purchase something they are interested in that is fine. As long as it is not overpowered is the issue. I guess I have a hard time knowing what is overpowered or what is not.

I guess that is dm discression and comes with experience in dming, at least that is what I have considered the last few days.

So to keep myself sane, if they suggest something they want. I will take a moment to read it, conside its potential impact on the game and my ability to DM with that item in the game and decide from there.

I have also learned some magic items that have the "command word" activation only last for a certain amount of time. Like a ring of blinking might bge 7 rounds based on the items description.  I would just as quickly say "it is always on" since I imagine you can reset the timer any time you want.


At any rate, thank you for all f the advice on books and dming. I do appreciate it.       
Monsters are weird in 4e. Seriously, +1 with a 10 ability score? I haven't read all of the PHB yet, but is this correct? (Looking at Pung on the compendium as a test until I can get my books ordered and sorted out.)
Monsters are weird in 4e. Seriously, +1 with a 10 ability score? I haven't read all of the PHB yet, but is this correct? (Looking at Pung on the compendium as a test until I can get my books ordered and sorted out.)



Hi!

It's ok. It has the 1/2 level in it.
They give you pre-calculated modifiers so that you can fully understand and calculate every single "to hit" value.  
Sign In to post comments