What are the differences between 4E and 3E really?

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I am not asking about the mechanical differences, but I want to have a discussion about what are the differences between 4th Edition and 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I am very much a crunch-oriented DM who thinks the rules can't get in the way of roleplaying because roleplaying doesn't need rules, but I also recognize that I'm not the only kind of DM or player that's out there. A few of my players do not like 4E. They have said it feels like a board game, that it feels like a combat simulator rather than a roleplaying game. Somehow I lack the perspective to see it that way. I want to look at the systems' differences imperically and see if that helps me to see what is changing the feel of the game.

I do not think the HP differentials, the way saving throws scaled, or any of those nitty gritty system mechanic changes have any real effect upon the way the game feels. I do think the skill system could have effected this feeling a bit; the "out of combat skills" are hidden away in other subsystems, or simply lack rules entirely. Not having "craft" on your skill list could be contributing to the feeling that the game is "all about combat".

I also worry that the nature of the ritual system, which I immediately loved, could be contributing a general feeling of "board game". With all of a Wizard's combat spells, for example, listed in their chapter, it may be asking a bit to then look back at the rituals. In the old game, you had to look back at all of your spells, and you could configure your character for all-out combat, non-combat, or a mix of the two.

The one problem I do have with 4E is that the classes aren't interesting to read. When I first picked up 3E, I read through the classes and got nothing but ideas. Now I have to read through a big list of powers ... and I find myself not caring. This could just be a formatting issue; I wonder what I would have thought if the powers were listed in full elsewhere, and only brief descriptions were in the class chapters.

What are your thoughts? I am sure we all play 4E here, but that does not mean we cannot have issues. I, and my group, are more than willing to house-rule the edition to unrecognizability if it makes for a more fun game. Currently, I am planning on adjusting the player side of the system but keeping the monster side, but I have no idea on how to tackle this. I'd like to keep combat and non-combat partitioned so it's harder to build a weak character, but I need perspective. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

3e is a world-simulator

4e is a story-generator

That's basically it. 3e was designed to let you make a living, breathing world, and then send people out to adventure in it. 4e was designed to let you make awesome stories with the players around the table being the main characters. 

Each and every difference between the two can probably be brought back to this very concept. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
living, breathing world

That phrase annoys me to no end. It's so cliche and, it doesn't even mean anything. Sorry, random tangent.

Anyway, 3E is more simulationist with rules that bend towards realism, while 4E is more gamist with rules that bend towards balance. What will be better for you will depend on what sort of game you prefer. I personally have more fun with a balanced, gamist set of rules, but many in my group have more fun with a deep, simulationist set of rules.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Since many people know what the phrase means, I guess it does mean something ;) It's certainly cliché though. (which, on its own requires it to mean something, because you can't have a cliché if nobody knows the word or phrase)
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Since many people know what the phrase means, I guess it does mean something ;) It's certainly cliché though. (which, on its own requires it to mean something, because you can't have a cliché if nobody knows the word or phrase)

What a cliche is is something that's so overused that it's lost its meaning. Could somebody who still remembers tell me what it means? Because I see that phrase used for every damn RPG nowadays, including every edition of D&D.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
A living and breathing world is one that does it's thing, even without the PCs interference, one that's not designed to accomodate the PCs, one that does not cease to exist because the players are gone, and one that's not limited to running a story. It's one that 3e intended to make, by having universal rules so that you could figure out anything within the story, whether PCs were involved or not. It's a concept that 4e scrapped by making different rules for PCs and NPCs and basically leaving everything outside of direct PC intervention up to the DM (which was a good choice) and it's definately not something that MMOs are any good at.

A living and breathing world has no main characters, it has no main story, it simply is. That's what 3e tried to build. A world where you could simulate everything, from the mighty wizards taking on the great Baalor to the lowly peasant planting the grass. And any of them could be the PC. Even the Baalor.

It's obviously why it failed, too. A living breathing world is ultimately not very suitable for telling heroic stories, because in a really living world the heroes tend to die. It's only in stories or with ridiculous luck that the heroes win the day.

Or something like that. It's indeed thrown around as a buzzterm (like so many others) and is often meaningless. But it is ultimately what WotC tried to enable by making 3e. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I am not asking about the mechanical differences, but I want to have a discussion about what are the differences between 4th Edition and 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I am very much a crunch-oriented DM who thinks the rules can't get in the way of roleplaying because roleplaying doesn't need rules, but I also recognize that I'm not the only kind of DM or player that's out there. A few of my players do not like 4E. They have said it feels like a board game, that it feels like a combat simulator rather than a roleplaying game. Somehow I lack the perspective to see it that way. I want to look at the systems' differences imperically and see if that helps me to see what is changing the feel of the game.

I do not think the HP differentials, the way saving throws scaled, or any of those nitty gritty system mechanic changes have any real effect upon the way the game feels. I do think the skill system could have effected this feeling a bit; the "out of combat skills" are hidden away in other subsystems, or simply lack rules entirely. Not having "craft" on your skill list could be contributing to the feeling that the game is "all about combat".

I also worry that the nature of the ritual system, which I immediately loved, could be contributing a general feeling of "board game". With all of a Wizard's combat spells, for example, listed in their chapter, it may be asking a bit to then look back at the rituals. In the old game, you had to look back at all of your spells, and you could configure your character for all-out combat, non-combat, or a mix of the two.

The one problem I do have with 4E is that the classes aren't interesting to read. When I first picked up 3E, I read through the classes and got nothing but ideas. Now I have to read through a big list of powers ... and I find myself not caring. This could just be a formatting issue; I wonder what I would have thought if the powers were listed in full elsewhere, and only brief descriptions were in the class chapters.

What are your thoughts? I am sure we all play 4E here, but that does not mean we cannot have issues. I, and my group, are more than willing to house-rule the edition to unrecognizability if it makes for a more fun game. Currently, I am planning on adjusting the player side of the system but keeping the monster side, but I have no idea on how to tackle this. I'd like to keep combat and non-combat partitioned so it's harder to build a weak character, but I need perspective. 

3e focuses more on the character, and how they interact with the world.  To that degree it also defines the world and how the world reacts to certain player choices.  It also provides more inset rules on how to handle different player actions, and has multiple options that are there only to give an option you should technically have..even if one wouldn't normally take that option.

4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.


Otherwise, because 4e is all about combat....it worries more on balance and attempting to make something of an attempt at making the different classes balanced (they havn't done so..trust me I've seen the broken).  3e, because its more about the world and interacting with the world has more of a worry about equality of actions...that is make sure everybody has at least some small thing to do period.  So while the character might not be as good in combat..they will have some other skill somewhere in the world.

Finally even the idea behind how characters work is different.  In 4e you have a set class, you must stick with that class through leveling up..with an extreemly minor ability to take powers/etc from other classes.  In 3e you choose what class to gain each individual level in, so that you make the exact character you want by piecemeal.  And can mix and max abilities to come up with a unique char concept....although yes you are rewarded with better class based abilities if you stick to a base class, or a base class and its related Prestige Class (what paragon paths were born out of).

Finally 3e has a tendancy to apply both positive and negative modifiers..for instance in 3e...a gnome gets 2 constitution, but -2 to their strength score.
   Unless you are talking of the mechanical differences, I question whether you are talking about anything at all.  Most of the rest is fluff that can be removed or added at whim.
A living and breathing world is one that does it's thing, even without the PCs interference, one that's not designed to accomodate the PCs, one that does not cease to exist because the players are gone, and one that's not limited to running a story.

In that case, every context in which I've ever heard it is a lie, especially when it comes to D&D.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
[Incredibly biased answer]

Way to give one of those.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
GASP
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my problems with 3rd ed

non-casters:

-not enough viable options built-in. with so few non-combat abilities gained through class features, non-casters are forced to rely on feats, items and skills to get viability out of combat.

-most of a non-caster's feats will be used to make it a better combatant. with 10 feats on average (6 from levels, 1 from level 1, and a few from class/crossclassing), very few characters take their first few feats to get extra non-combat options, especially if they're going for a particular style of combat. this leaves us with skills an items

-there are 45 skills listed in 3.5 phb. only 3 out of 11 classes get 6+int or more skill points per level. only one of the 8 classes that get 4 or less actually use Int to power class abilities (wizard). this means the average int (10-11) character knows less then a 10th of the skill list, and of what little he can learn a large part is cross-classed, which makes it far harder to be properly trained in it

-so items. a non-caster eventually becomes VERY reliant on their items to be successful. the main problem is that items may or may not be accessible. while the game assumes they generally are, these items REQUIRE a caster to create them. effectively telling a non-caster: "to gain options you must emulate the caster, which has options". which kinda sucks. 

-the last problem is since the non-casters have so little built-in support for anything that isn't "i hit it with my [weapon of choice]" or "i hit it REALLY hard", non-casters rely almost entirely on the GM's adjudication of player skill and metagame information when it comes to options. that might be ok for some people, but it really grinds my gears that Edward the Headsman's ability to bypass a traps is reliant on Oxybe the Player's ability to creatively use a crowbar, a pully, several dozen yards of rope, a handful of pitons and a log. 
------------------------------------------------------
problems with casters:
-too many options. most of the early casters were built to be catch-all archetypes. the wizard is meant to be Gandalf, Elminister, Tim the Enchanter, Dumbledore, etc... while many of the non-casters were built around very specific archetypes, like the savage Barbarian or the wuxia-influenced Monk.

the problem with this is the your wizard, cleric, druid or whatnot could change each day if he wanted to if he was Gandalf, Elminister, Tim the Enchanter, Dumbledore, John the Horrible Necromancer from down the lane, etc... or worse, in one day simply amalgam the stronger aspects of these and wreck havoc as flying, invisible, huge-sized, man-eating millipede that has a furnace for a stomach.

-too many "i win" or Win/Lose binary spells. a lot of spells simply did stuff... and a lot of this stuff was quicker or more reliable then what the non-casters could do. 

want to go over the chasm? polymorph into a bird/fly/teleport/etc...
want information from the NPC? change his attitude via magic/force him to give you information via dominate or kill+speak with dead.
want to know what is in store for you/what could help? divination. divination. divination.

a lot of these types of spells could be gained quickly enough and scribing a scroll or two of situational spells is a drop in the bucket money-wise. a bit later on, you can easily craft wands / staves for these spells and with splats runestaves that let you convert prepared spells into those on the staff.

-many spells were simply better then the non-spellcaster options. a slightly less then 500 GP collection per PC (assuming a 5 person group) would allow a 5th level wizard to create a wand of Open Lock that has a 100% success rate per lock (50 in total) and can be used at a safe distance to open the locks on most doors without fear of getting hit by the trap. note that is effectively paying 10GP per lock picked, per group member, magical lock or otherwise.

an unseen servant can be used to open the doors. and a wand thereof is quite cheap to make 75GP a PC if you don't feel like risking a PC opening it.

and this is if you're worried about the locks+doors. there are several dungeon bypass spells at later levels that simply allow you to obliterate the door from a safe distance, or just go through the wall adjacent to the door. 

a flight spells is in almost all situations better then the jumping or climbing option, and alter self (10 minutes per level) into a creature with a swim speed (lilke a locatah) is far safer then swimming.

i think you can see my point.

and this is simply based on non-combat options alone. in combat a decent spellcaster can usually debuff or cause enough issues to the enemy side in one or two turns that the non-casters are effectively the mop-up crew.

---------------------------------------

outside of the spellcaster/non-caster thing there are several issues i do have:
-low level HP is FAR too low for a heroic character. at level 1, a 16 con fighter has 13 HP. a 14 str enemy one-handing a longsword deals 1d8+2 damage, so 6.5 damage on an average hit. in 2 hits he can down the fighter. in one he can down a wizard with 14 con, or any d6 class with the human average con, 10.

it's only at around level 3-5 your lower HD PCs start being able to take a few hits without dying, and even then as one of my last PF sessions has proven, taking 34 damage as a level 5 wizard can kill quite easily. especially when you seem to be unable to hit the broad side of a barn with a ranged touch attack and misjudge a creature's range. 

-high level combats are too swingy. even with a low level of optimization it's VERY easy to have PCs that deal hundreds of damage per round. a Lion Totem Barbarian (complete champion) with shock trooper (complete warrior) can full attack on a charge for a pretty decent amount of damage without taking a hit to his attack. add in some actual power attack optimization or simply taking a level into frenzied berserker and you turn the dial to "ludicrous damage". casters can easily enough drop powerfull debuffs to transform enemies into a state of near vegetation, turning a potential brute into a blind, helpless 20-ft tall kitten with cleaver-like claws it can't even lift.

on the flipside, a single bad roll of the dice can kill a PC with ease unless he stocked up on the right protective wards that morning. Woe to the PC who didn't prep anti-death effects that one morning and gets jumped with a finger of death (and happens to have a low Fort save to boot). 

many combats seem to rely on who can get initiative first and launch the first big attack. 

the downside is if each side is prepared against a series of potential effects, things can really drag on as each side flails ineffectively at one another. see this comic for an idea of what can happen, except replace a few "made my saving throw" for "i've got a buff that makes me immune to X"

-several subsystems are bit too more unwieldy then they need to be. grappling, tripping, turning undead, disarming, ect... are made a bit too complicated for my liking. they're usable but rely on a non-standard method of conflict resolution that will easily require some pageflipping if it's not one that you use often. 

-speaking of some subsystems, many like grappling/tripping usually have penalties (sometimes very hefty ones) attached to them unless you're trained and even then quickly become useless against non-humanoids unless you're focused in that combat style above all else (which can easily be 2+ sizes larger then you with several legs and a strength score that doubles yours, or simply don't use anything but natural weapons).

-multiclassing. among casters, multi-classing simply isn't done unless you have a VERY specific build you're going for the loss of extra spells and caster level hurts too much that not increasing your caster potential is something you just won't do. for non-casters, multi-classing is a VERY easy way to gain extra abilities and with the right tinkering and mix and matching (due to many classes being front-loaded with their good stuff early on) you can be much stronger then the individual parts. 

honestly i much prefer the way all editions barring 3rd handled classes & multiclassing. you picked your archetype/class that fits best and you stuck to it (or reworked / reflavored the class who's mechanics fit best). the ease of multi-classing in 3.5 diluted the point of classes to a point where it sometimes seemed like it was trying to be a very awkward point-based game. now this could be good or bad depending on your point of view, but i much rather like how 2nd ed's handled multiclassing and when 4th ed introduced hybrid classes (though i still use multiclassing as means of dabbling rather then a core part of the PC). 

-generally speaking the use of skills in all editions of D&D. i generally don't like how skill have been handled in all editions. 4th ed is close to how i like it, but still not quite there. to build on my previous point, it sometimes feels like an awkward point-based game, and when it comes to skill it's in my opinion (and from what i hear, a common one) that overall, you don't get enough points to fully flesh out your character with a wide array of skills, especially if you hope to succeed at several level equivalent challenges (usually opposed ones, like bluff VS sense motive, but several static ones can require a high point value that isn't possible for low level PCs or even high level ones due to how cross-class skills work).

my issues with 4th ed:
-still a rather large dependance on magic items. the array of items required is less, but they are still as important for the math as they were in previous editions. i would rather magic items lose the math boosting aspect and simply have additional effects rather then be assumed in the projected numbers to be reached... Down with the +1 Sword, up with "Flametongue"!

-how money is handled (and this is something i'm getting irritated in all editions in the past few months). i would much rather see money be handled in an abstract fashion (see: D20 modern or Word of Darkness) rather then have PCs walk around with large, extraplanar money bins in the shape of a bag. i'm not a fan of micromangement.

-as previously said, the skills are almost how i would want them, but there is still a bit too wide a gap so the math could be tightened. i would prefer that the skills be opened to all characters rather then tied to a class. honestly i would love to see something like 3rd ed's skill tricks or 4th ed's skill powers be given freely as you level in the skills you're trained in as to open up more uses of the skill. 

-weapons and armor could be simplified a bit more. call me a fan of the current Gamma World, but i really love how they handled armor & weapons:  unarmed/one-handed/two-handed/replaceable ranged/hard to find ranged divided as either "heavy" or "light". everthing else is fluff. your 1-handed light weapon could be a sword, a baseball bat, a rock, a tire iron, a pick... whatever.

-current feats seem to be in a weird position. i would much rather see feats exist to modify existing class or racial features rather then simply add more numbers to existing numbers.

-a bigger emphasis and push on the use of & creation of backgrounds to describe a character's not-necessarilty-reated-to-adventuring skillsets & abilities. let rolling+numbers help adjudicate the result of narrative conflicts while backgrounds can simply add to a character's description & flavor. a blacksmith can make weapons and armor, a gadgeteer can have on hand mundane doodads for various occasions, etc...




maybe more when i can start sorting out my ideas. 
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A living and breathing world is one that does it's thing, even without the PCs interference, one that's not designed to accomodate the PCs, one that does not cease to exist because the players are gone, and one that's not limited to running a story.

In that case, every context in which I've ever heard it is a lie, especially when it comes to D&D.

That is because you are taking a general concept far too literally.

A "living, breathing world" simply means that while the game is running, there are events going on outside of the immediate realm of the player(s).  These events could be include something as simple as an NPC farmer going through is daily routine to something as complex as political strife in a land far away.
  

Celebrate our differences.

4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 

Celebrate our differences.

4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 



I hope you aren't trying to take that hook out of your mouth in 4e. Because since there are no rules for the proper removal of fishhooks in it and you didn't get the hook in your mouth in a combat then you are Sol as there is literally no way to remove the fishhook in non-combat unless there are rules dictating how to remove said fishhook. Also you have to be Good alignment to have someone remove it for you.
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 

I am so sorry you don't like hearing the actual problems with 4e.

The fact that the rules in 4e is nothing but a combat simulator is the truth.  It purposefully tries to get rid of anything not to do with combat, and anything left it tries to somehow make it into something similar to combat.  That is the rules for 4e.

Everything else it says 'make it up on your own'.  You do realize that was, yaknow, touted as the big thing about 4e?  Just because I say it in a not as nice way, and use the same sort of wording that people use when talking about 3e or pathfinder, dosn't make it any less true.
looks at the section named "skills".

sees that they have a myriad of options outside of combat. 

gets the trailer ready 'cause there's an old mare that needs a trip to the glue factory.
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"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 

I am so sorry you don't like hearing the actual problems with 4e.

The fact that the rules in 4e is nothing but a combat simulator is the truth.  It purposefully tries to get rid of anything not to do with combat, and anything left it tries to somehow make it into something similar to combat.  That is the rules for 4e.

Everything else it says 'make it up on your own'.  You do realize that was, yaknow, touted as the big thing about 4e?  Just because I say it in a not as nice way, and use the same sort of wording that people use when talking about 3e or pathfinder, dosn't make it any less true.



If there are no rules or dice rolling for roleplay, how does one roleplay? Obvious answer: You can't. Everyone needs rules for roleplay and does who don't need guidelines for how to play their wizard are unimaginative.
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 

I am so sorry you don't like hearing the actual problems with 4e.

The fact that the rules in 4e is nothing but a combat simulator is the truth.  It purposefully tries to get rid of anything not to do with combat, and anything left it tries to somehow make it into something similar to combat.  That is the rules for 4e.

Everything else it says 'make it up on your own'.  You do realize that was, yaknow, touted as the big thing about 4e?  Just because I say it in a not as nice way, and use the same sort of wording that people use when talking about 3e or pathfinder, dosn't make it any less true.



If there are no rules or dice rolling for roleplay, how does one roleplay? Obvious answer: You can't. Everyone needs rules for roleplay and does who don't need guidelines for how to play their wizard are unimaginative.



There is a solution to this:






I am not asking about the mechanical differences

There aren't a lot of non-mechanical differences.  I mean, they're both part of the broader D&D franchise, they're Heroic High-Fantasy RPGs... all the settings that were done for 2e weren't done in 3e, and all the settings done in 3e haven't been done in 4e, as yet (some likely never will be).  There have been some changes to the imaginary cosmology, but they don't have much impact until quite high-level...

They have said it feels like a board game, that it feels like a combat simulator rather than a roleplaying game.

Yeah.  I hear that a lot, and a lot of the time, it seems like nothing more than code for 'my spell caster isn't broken enough in this edition' or 'I can't build a sufficiently ineffectually basket-weaving character to suit my desired level of role-not-roll pretension.'  Don't know about your players, of course...

Somehow I lack the perspective to see it that way. I want to look at the systems' differences imperically and see if that helps me to see what is changing the feel of the game.

Well, then, we're going to be looking at mechanical differences, afterall...

I do think the skill system could have effected this feeling a bit; the "out of combat skills" are hidden away in other subsystems, or simply lack rules entirely. Not having "craft" on your skill list could be contributing to the feeling that the game is "all about combat".

Nod.  The game is all about adventuring.  Blacksmithing is not an adventure, it's a job.  Ergo, no blacksmithing skill.  Surviving in a hostile environment /is/ an adventure (man vs nature, a classic litterary theme), Nature /is/ a skill.  Nature is not a combat skill.  The issue here is not about combat vs non-combat, it's about the ability to sacrifice viability for character concept - an exercise you see undertaken by pretentious artsy types who'd probably be happier playing Storyteller (or doing community theatre), not D&D.

I also worry that the nature of the ritual system, which I immediately loved, could be contributing a general feeling of "board game". With all of a Wizard's combat spells, for example, listed in their chapter, it may be asking a bit to then look back at the rituals. In the old game, you had to look back at all of your spells, and you could configure your character for all-out combat, non-combat, or a mix of the two.

This was one of the improvements 4e made.  Combat and out-of-combat use reasonably different resources, so you can't over-specialize too badly in one or the other.  Thus, it's easier to participate in all phases of the adventure, and harder to build a boring character that just does one thing.

The one problem I do have with 4E is that the classes aren't interesting to read. When I first picked up 3E, I read through the classes and got nothing but ideas. Now I have to read through a big list of powers

4e was originally written very much for seasoned gamers.  There was some introductory fluff and such at the front of the book and in the odd sidebar, but he classes were writen almost like a reference book.  Which, is great for referencing them.  I really liked listing of powers with the class, it makes it very easy to find and consider your choices when you level up.  I found the 3e alphabetical list of all classes spells munged together extremely distracting - it made it extremely tedious to tease out what a given caster was capable of (though, really, past the lower levels, the answer was generally 'anything').

Currently, I am planning on adjusting the player side of the system but keeping the monster side, but I have no idea on how to tackle this. I'd like to keep combat and non-combat partitioned so it's harder to build a weak character, but I need perspective. 

4e classes are extremely detailed, choice-rich, and fairly well-balanced.  Messing with them is a tall order.  I'd suggest narrowing your focus before trying to substantially re-do the player side.  Essentials classes are /much/ simpler to design or modify, and balance is not the priority for them it was with 4e, so you don't have to worry about 'breaking' them as much.  That also means that they're imbalanced in more familiar ways, and that familiarity can go a long way towards evoking the 'feel' of prior eds. 
Once you get down to subjective, intagible aspects of why someone likes a game, it's hard to make any definitive statement, but I think it very often comes down to players who liked a past edition growing to like even it's worst flaws - so when they're 'fixed,' they miss 'em.



 

 

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4e is all about combat, combat, combat, and more combat.  It has almost nothing but rules related to combat.  You're character choices are all about combat.  Anything reguarding skills is an attempt to make them more like a form of combat.  And the extreemly rare non-combat options usually cost too much in resources (time, ability, or item), that all but the silliest of people would choose to take them.

I am now convinced.  You are playing the game wrong or really have no idea what role playing is or how to do it.  You are certainly not describing 4E Dungeons and Dragons, unless your home brew version took everything else away other than combat.

Sorry, but your description is completely disingenuous and completely off the mark. 

Excuse me while I take that hook out of my mouth... 

I am so sorry you don't like hearing the actual problems with 4e.

The fact that the rules in 4e is nothing but a combat simulator is the truth.  It purposefully tries to get rid of anything not to do with combat, and anything left it tries to somehow make it into something similar to combat.  That is the rules for 4e.

Everything else it says 'make it up on your own'.  You do realize that was, yaknow, touted as the big thing about 4e?  Just because I say it in a not as nice way, and use the same sort of wording that people use when talking about 3e or pathfinder, dosn't make it any less true.



If there are no rules or dice rolling for roleplay, how does one roleplay? Obvious answer: You can't. Everyone needs rules for roleplay and does who don't need guidelines for how to play their wizard are unimaginative.



There is a solution to this:









I think if they made that Stafir would finally be happy that 4e is finally supporting roleplay by telling you how exactly to do it. I how else would you roleplay talking to people? I mean I tried to talk to girls without a how-to book and I'm just los... I mean...... ummm......ahhhhh.....

Rules for everything are good m'kay?

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
That is because you are taking a general concept far too literally.

Because it's stupid. Maybe it was a cute exaggeration before it got so overused, but now it's just an annoying lie that's lost any relevant meaning.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Can we get some hard facts on the table with references?

I've got a copy of the 3.5 players handbook here I'm looking at now. Looking at the contents page, most of it is about combat. There are more skills in 3.5e - 4e has those but condensed to base skills which can used for more purposes. A lot of the feats are combat oriented in 3.5e the same as 4e. 4e has plenty of feats for increasing things like perception and so on. I guess there are feats like Silent Spell that don't have a 4e equivilent.

To be honest apart from the move from Vancian casting to powers, I don't think the differences are that big.

If someone can give me a page reference in the 3.5 books to where there is more out-of-combat detail I'd be interested. 
The difference between 4E and 3E that I've found is that 4E is great for the mechanically inclined player.  More balanced, faster at combat (for gear heads) and tends to lend itself to great fights on the board.

3E tends to lend itself better to the non-mechanically inclined, those who favor character development over mechanics and provides a richer experience overall.  Partly, this is due to the fact that it's got a looser set of rules and how things work.  Literally, a spell has the power to do anything.  This is both what breaks it for the mechanically inclined, and what opens it up for the roleplayer. 

By providing rules that can break the system, and by forcing the DM to adjudicate actions, even ones well defined by the rules, it forces a flexibility into the game that 4E lacks.  4E is so well done that it carves out a variety of creativity because mechanically, it's all labled, collated, and fixed. 

For example, one design conceit of 4E is simplified monster definition.  Less powers, abilities, skills, etc.  The combat block is perfect for running numerous monsters quickly, focuses on their main schticks in combat to define how they are different from other creatures.  However, by dropping the larger, clunkier 3E description, it turns creatures into a stat block for killing.  3E's larger, clunkier, harder to run creatures are better suited for story based encounters since more of the monster is detailed for things useful outside combat.  Also, recall most monsters in D&D are based on folk tales, novels, etc.  More than likely, these stories had a single monster, or handful in it.  Under that small number, the 3E design makes much more sense.  More well rounded monsters fill a story niche easier, are harder to run in combat, but the assumption is, less combat, IMO. 

So, for the gearheads, combat masters, etc, I think 4E is the superior system.  For the combat light, DM required interaction, creative game (creative outside the pure context of the rules), then 3E is superior.

This is based on how I've seen groups play with the rules.  This does not mean the rules enforce this behavior and that each system can't do what the other does in terms of type of game.  However, I feel the rules tend towards what I've described above.

I would like to note that I like both systems, however, for me, they fill two different roles.  4E is more action adventure.  3E seems to serve a variety of story telling types better.  For example, doing a 4E murder mystery would bring very little of the system into play.  I can see much more of 3E's system being used.

Cheers

Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with years of experience.

The difference between 4E and 3E that I've found is that 4E is great for the mechanically inclined player.  More balanced, faster at combat (for gear heads) and tends to lend itself to great fights on the board.

3E tends to lend itself better to the non-mechanically inclined, those who favor character development over mechanics and provides a richer experience overall.  Partly, this is due to the fact that it's got a looser set of rules and how things work.  Literally, a spell has the power to do anything.  This is both what breaks it for the mechanically inclined, and what opens it up for the roleplayer. 

You said it in a very nice way, but really, that boils down to 'bad rules make good games.' 

3e actually a very attractive system for the 'gear head' type of powergamer who likes to take a system, and use it to absolutely destroy a campaign.  One of the designers of 3.0, Monte Cook (who's returning the WotC, yay!), called it providing 'rewards' for 'mastering' the system.   I call it failing to deliver game balance.  :shrug:

Anyway, I don't care for the '3e is good because it's system is bad' argument, but each to his own.  I have a few old games with truely abysmal systems of which I am still quite fond and occassionally have fun running - and lampshading all thier amusing little mechanical failings.



 

 

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I would like to note that I like both systems, however, for me, they fill two different roles.  4E is more action adventure.  3E seems to serve a variety of story telling types better.  For example, doing a 4E murder mystery would bring very little of the system into play.  I can see much more of 3E's system being used.



You mean "There's a spell in 3e that solves murder mysteries", right? :P

Likewise, what you describes opens up the game... if you're a Wizard. If you're a Fighter, you get nothing. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I am so sorry you don't like hearing the actual problems with 4e.

You didn't present any problems, just opinions of what you think are problems.

The fact that the rules in 4e is nothing but a combat simulator is the truth.  It purposefully tries to get rid of anything not to do with combat, and anything left it tries to somehow make it into something similar to combat.  That is the rules for 4e.

I would agree that this was a fact...  if it was a fact.  Sorry to break it to you, but it's not a fact.

As for your "similar to combat" assessment...  The fact is, they attuned combat to the core mechanic.  They attuned skill checks to the core mechanic.  That similarity is a byproduct of that logical design choice, and that is where the similarities end.

Celebrate our differences.



Anyway, I don't care for the '3e is good because it's system is bad' argument, but each to his own.  I have a few old games with truely abysmal systems of which I am still quite fond and occassionally have fun running - and lampshading all thier amusing little mechanical failings.




I think it's more an issue of open system versus closed system.  The more open the system is, the more it support roleplaying, or creativity.  However, it also leads to abuse and brokenness.  That's why the human factor needs to be accounted for, called the DM.  When a system is so well designed to not need the DM, slap it on the computer and go.  However, it's less flexible and therefore, less creative.

That said, I'm not saying 4E is a computer game, far from it, and the DM does add to the experience.  However, 4E is a much tighter design and therefore, tends to constrict player choice and action.  I also find that the nature of the cards having all the details of your ability tends to get players not thinking of options outside those cards.  Player flaw?  Maybe, but the game tends to encourage the behavior.  Faster game play, tends to stifle outside the cards thinking.

Cheers

Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with years of experience.

That is because you are taking a general concept far too literally.

Because it's stupid. Maybe it was a cute exaggeration before it got so overused, but now it's just an annoying lie that's lost any relevant meaning.

And I am sure that you have assessed every game and campaign that claims a "living, breathing world" to make that assessment...

And you talk of exaggeration...

/end

Celebrate our differences.


You mean "There's a spell in 3e that solves murder mysteries", right? :P

Likewise, what you describes opens up the game... if you're a Wizard. If you're a Fighter, you get nothing. 



I agree wizards get a lot of the cool toys.  However, I'm pretty sure with cool magic items that Fighters can get, he gets a fair amount of things that could help.  But, that's not core to his class, to be sure.  On the flip side, Fighters are quite impressive in their domain.  But 3E does break down at the high levels, no doubt about it.  If that is a problem, wrapping the campaign prior to 20 is always an option.

I agree that the Fighter does have less choices and wizards get a ton.  

Cheers

Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with years of experience.

And I am sure that you have assessed every game and campaign that claims a "living, breathing world" to make that assessment.

Sure have.
/endstart

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
And low and behold this thread has become the latest edition wars thread.

"Who would have thought it would turn out like that" he said sarcastically. 
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
The main difference I can see in 4e vs 3.x is focus. 4th has a definite focus in it's rules, combat, whether you want to admit it or not. Now that isn't a bad thing! Roleplaying is left intentionally vague because we all do these sorts of things on a daily basis. We all talk to other people, we all pretend to like people we hate, try to play power games, bargain for favors (sometimes goods, though that's less common these days) shop, etc etc. There is no need to create rules for the mundane, that isn't why you play a fantasy game.

The reason you play a fantasy game, presumably, is to do something fantastic. Like fight dragons, rescue princesses, slay vampires, put down hoards of zombies, kick kobolds for fun. Now these are all things we don't (read CAN'T) do on a daily basis so rules are necessary!

Realism is also thrown out the window, and to that I say HUZZAH! "This is a game; games are supposed to be fun," to quote Yhatzee. When I have to roll dice to juggle, or collect meaningless horse points or the like it's not fun. When I get to fight with fantasic creatures and save kingdoms, worlds, cosmosies, THAT is fun. Shopping for a +1 foe bane (giant) axe isn't fun.

Finally 4e does away with unecessary player punishment. Gone are the days of save or die traps and spells. Goodbye we say to lucky crits killing level 4 PCs. Adios to locations that kill players for simply being in them.

Also the "living breathing world" is a falacy. No SYSTEM creates that, a story teller does. Do you think JRR Tolkien had to consult appendix 4a to write The Hobbit and make sure everything else in the world was going on it's normal routine? No. Becuase that isn't interesting, no one cares what peasants are doing 3 villages over, unless they're being eaten by ogres. When you stop thinking about the world, and start thinking about the players, you get a much better gaming experience. One where the players are in the spotlight, and not just some random chumps doing fetch quests for NPC 457 in Hamlettown.

3.x is a different animal entirely. It really isn't sure what it's trying to do. Rules for combat, non-combat? uhmmm.... When you have to use the same progession pool for combat as non-combat you very quickly can get huge discrepancies in character usefullness and that is one of 3.x's main flaws. However it's a perfectly playable game and if your group prefers it go for it. I will be the first to admit character creation in 3.x is much more open ended than 4e. For some people (alot of people) this is really the clinch.

I prefer 4e though because I have more fun with it.
For some people (alot of people) this is really the clinch.

I prefer 4e though because I have more fun with it.



I think you've hit a key point here.  Maybe that's what it all boils down to as the main difference for a lot of players. 

I know my wife said she feels like 3E supports a more open character creation process while feeling 4E limits her choices at any given level.

Cheers

Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with years of experience.

- 3E was not designed aroung balance, 4E is.
- 3E could not easily be played by kids (unless oversimplified), 4E can.
- 3E was much harder for the new DM. 4E is a bless.
- 3E could be played easily without a grid. 4E cannot.
- 3E felt more realistic. 4E feels like Final Fantasy.
- 3E gameplay was centered around the world (i.e. That monster will have the same AC regardless of who hits it). 4E is centered around the characters (That same monster now suddenly scales with character level).
- 3E combat was quite simple. 4E is based on team tactics.
- 3E character creation was rich. 4E character creation is fast.
- 3E had 1 major revision. 4E get major revisions every now and then.
- 3E was a nice version yet was bashed by 2E fanboys. 4E is a nice version yet is bashed by 3E fanboys.
- 3E could be modified for campaign needs very eisily. 4E is just 4E and if you want to modify lots of it, better play something else.

At least that how I see things ^^
(btw list is obviously incomplete)


A big thanks to the majority of the posters here. This thread expanded fast, and has been fairly limited in the personal attacks; there will always be some with the anonimity of the internet.

First, to offer my opinion towards a few of the poster conflicts, I am perfectly fine with subjective opinions; half of this topic is about subjective opinions.

Second, what I meant by "not talking about the rules differences" is I didn't want to get into the small stuff and talk about how the save progressions differed from the defense progressions, for instance.

What I am gathering is that, for some players, having your choices as focused and codified as 4E does makes people feel like their choices are limited. Very interesting. The lack of simulationist rules, such as rules for crafting, makes some people feel that it is a combat board game and not an rpg because they like having rules for those things; I like having rules for those things do, as I think "forge a flametongue to slay the white dragon" is a fun challenge for a character to undertake (this could be done as a skill challenge in 4E of course).

Here are a list of things I think I'm going to try to incorperate into 4E to bring my 3E players back (they still play 4E, but they're not fully engaged):
1) Reintroduce more basic combat maneuvers, like trip, as not being able to do these things without a power seems odd.
2) Encourage the usage of Essentials Martial classes, possibly make Essentials styled versions of the remaining 3E core classes (Barbarian, Bard, Sorcerer), as well as the Warlord.
3) Quantify skill DCs in such a manner as to make them feel like they are based on the world and not the players. This is really in the 4E rules already, but the focus is on the Skill DC table. For instance, when using Acrobatics to balance on a narrow surface, that surface should get narrower as the player rises in levels (a level 30 rogue is balancing on a piece of string).
4) Refer to distances in feet and not squares.
5) Explore ways of opening up multiclassing, and adjust the feats so FANBNR reigns supreme (again?)

And here's a question brought about by some of the posts: What does "more realistic" mean to you, in comparison between 3E and 4E?


Poe's Law is alive and well.

1) Reintroduce more basic combat maneuvers, like trip, as not being able to do these things without a power seems odd.



These actually do exist as powers.... just that they tend to only exist for martial characters. I know for fact that there is a Fighter power named Trip though. One could also flavor melee powers that knock prone as including the trip maneuver. 

3) Quantify skill DCs in such a manner as to make them feel like they are based on the world and not the players. This is really in the 4E rules already, but the focus is on the Skill DC table. For instance, when using Acrobatics to balance on a narrow surface, that surface should get narrower as the player rises in levels (a level 30 rogue is balancing on a piece of string).



Think in 4e its more so the world leveling up. IE in heroic the Rogue is unlocking wooden/steel doors and taking care of traps set by Kobolds. In Epic he is breaking into Elemental Fortresses and undoing traps that may have literally been set by the gods themselves.

But all in all if works for you, then super.

And I don't really think one could use the word realistic to describe 3e and 4e.... especially with how insane somethings got/get in the higher levels. :p
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams

I missed the years of 3e so I can only compare 2e and 4e.   I like 4e, perhaps even prefer it because as a DM I am never afraid to customize things to for the good of the campaign.  If you can get over the fact that rules were made to be broken I think your players will have a better time.  Its the rules lawyers that bog down games whereas I prefer the age of 'what the DM says, goes'.


 

1) Reintroduce more basic combat maneuvers, like trip, as not being able to do these things without a power seems odd.



These actually do exist as powers.... just that they tend to only exist for martial characters. I know for fact that there is a Fighter power named Trip though. One could also flavor melee powers that knock prone as including the trip maneuver.



Yes, there is a fighter at-will that knocks people prone (str vs. fort, str mod damage + prone). My point is that it is such a ludicrously simple maneuver to perform (though not simple to make succeed) that I think anyone should be able to do it. Because I feel that at-wills are equivalent to feats (there are a few examples where the system agrees with me), I think a feat should allow someone to do this very thing. I also think that someone should be allowed to do str or dex vs. fort or ref to knock someone prone with no damage; the feat is then "improved trip" and it adds the damage to it.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Hi folks! ;)

I don't post that much, but I read these boards and find 'em pretty interesting. ;)

I wanna write down a bunch of lines for this topic...that ended up (as usual) as the usual "edition war".

Here are my two cents.
I've started playin' d&d with a mixed version of OD&D and AD&D. It was lot of fun, even if everything we could do was "Dwarf with an axe", "Elf with a bow and magic" and so on...Our DM was an "old school" cruel one, as that editions were...High mortality, high risk, but still a lot of fun slashing monsters, lookin' for traps, pick locks...It had a kind of "dark feeling" in it...

Then, I started playin' mostly storytelling game and that's my "basic" habitat (White wolf stuff, Kult, CoC, etc.)...
I started hatin' d&d when 3.x came out...Lots of rules, too much stuff and bad-written (IMHO)...It was like they were tryin' to sound "modern" while retaining an actual "unbalancing" game-set...
Useless levels, useless pages where you could learn the "speed of the wind", the structure of each single kind of door and so on...
And then...multiclass/prestige class..Great idea, well implemented, badly developed. Everyone playin' unbelieavable stuff, but unable to describe the reasons of its existance. 

Ok, I'm exagerating...But I'm sure you got the point. I know that "that was not" 3.x itself, but was the most part for the majority of guys I used to play with.

I started again playin' D&D 3 years ago when I discovered Eberron: loved it since the first time and I felt a bit nostalgic about "epic adventures", even based on dungeon crawling, if needed...They are fascinating to me and a WELL BUILT dungeon crawl/epic story is still a good RP experience.

I played a 3.me edition...But it didn't work...Discovered Pathfinder and I kinda liked it since the beginning: doesn't fix what's wrong with 3.x OGL to me, but gives it new options, removes useless levels, gives each class the possibility to make something "useful" to the party and to the world itself...

Then I discovered 4th edition....Well. I fell in love with it since the first time.
It seems a Paradox: a "storyteller" like me, lovin' a game of "combat rules"?
Yes, and do you know why? Becaus that's what I've always need to enjoy a dnd game.

1- Simplier rules than ever before (still deep and full of tactic).
Now you lose a lot less time then before in searchin for answers to a particular situation. The rules are straight, there are a lot of charts and everything's pretty clear after a bunch of combat. Each player becomes a DM from this point of view. 
Ok, to do this, there are some compromise: all areas of effects are "squares", diagonal movement is not "special" anymore in normal circumstances,  no cover from allies, no brain-training sums to do...
This is "complexity" not "difficulty". It's a different thing, if you get what I mean: now the RULE is the EXCEPTION.
The complexity doesn't come from the rulebook, but from the OPTIONS. Lots and lots of options, for everyone. 

2- Balance
Every single character has its own moves and utilities: everyone can make the difference between victory and loss and can do it. Every single class, even those who are clearly underpowered (Seeker anyone?).
The "ROLES" and "POWER SOURCES" system is a big help, not a limit. Roles have ALWAYS been there. But before, you didn't have the LEADER. You had the CLERIC. That was it.

Know, with the three core PHBs, you have 22 classes to choose from. And each class has at least 2 different builds, with many growin' options. 
And each option has its own scheme and logic.

Lots of PP options are disappeared. You can optimize, yes. But "optimization" is still a matter of "fellowship optimization". A "self-optimized" character, is under-powered. You can't rely on your self all of the time, 'cause in a fantasy world full of monsters, powerful villains and secret organisations, you're NOTHING with out good friends. ;)

3- Rules to Roleplay? Ahahahahah, you're kidding.
I've never ned 'em. Never. Everything written in hundreds of 3.x manuals has always been completely useless and we still got interesting RP sessions and campaigns. 
Well...I know that "core rules" are important and I'm not a big fan of HOUSE RULES...But I'm not speaking about "combat rules"...I'm speaking about the big part of manuals tellin' me what to do with wind, weather, illness, short healing, long healing, etc.

I don't need that stuff. Noone really does.
What you really need in D&D is a CORE SYSTEM for COMBAT, EXPLORATION and DUNGEONS (not only underground stuff, take it as a "big" concept) related abilities. That's what we need.
And 4th edition gave me an understandable set of rules to do it quickly, even with a small preparation.

If you ran out of storytelling ideas and what to fill a session with a bit of nice action, you can do it from scratch...
Keep a bunch of tokens handy, a monster manual (sometimes I don't even need it) and the DM GUIDE (4th edition's one is probably one of the best RPG book I've ever purchased). 
That's it. You don't need to over-calculate CRs, LEPs, BABs, brain-smashing combos of feats, creatures subtypes bonuses/maluses...And so on.

Here it is: a comfortable encounter building/Xp buy system, a quick way to create NPCs and Monsters and, again, a straight and understandable, well-written set of basic rules to give life to your world.

If you want to "storytell" and nothing more, D&D's not your game, IMHO. There are better games to do it (Ars Magica, if you like the "fantasy" concept...Or other stuff).
And this is said by a heavy storyteller player/dm like me. ;)

So, if you want a "combat-pp" centered game, you have simple rules to do it. If you want to tell other kind of campaign...Well: do it! The system is not an obstacle.
Simply, it's never been meant to help you for something different.

Then, you can purchase "settings" or other stuff like Underdark, The Plane Below, MAnual of The planes and other products to go in depth of the basic environement and there's nothing about combat in most of 'em.

And, by the way, 3.x stuff was still combat centered: what's a BAB? A personal skill? An ability? A "storytelling" vehicle? 
And Saves? And feats? Does anyone build a fighter and gets "Skill focus" at 1st level as a feat? 
I did, actually. But don't tell me that 3.x was "freedom" and 4th is a "cage", 'cause it's false.

4- So, you hate 3.x?
No, I don't. I just don't like the way it delt with some stuff, but I still play it. It's a different game.
But as a DM, and as a passional player, tied to an old school feeling of adventures, I like 4th edition in every single aspect: it has its flaws, yes, but it's my favourite DnD edition ever. 
Is balanced, it offers me a compelt and simple set of basic rule, it's easy to customize and, last but not least, it's full of options. 

So:
- if you want a game more "simulation-oriented" and complex in terms of "rules and cases", ok, go 3.x. You'll get the whole feeling of being "useless" and the beginning and "god-like" in the end. That's more "character focused" than 4th edition, in terms of "tactics": a 11th level character can smash stuff by his own, especially if it's a caster. 
- if you want a modern but still "old school" game with a simple (and sometimes, oversimplified) rule set heroic/adventurers centered, where you're a brave hero since your first game and that's based more on his fellowship than on his straight combat/surviving skills, well...4th edition IS your game. ;)
 
1) Reintroduce more basic combat maneuvers, like trip, as not being able to do these things without a power seems odd.



These actually do exist as powers.... just that they tend to only exist for martial characters. I know for fact that there is a Fighter power named Trip though. One could also flavor melee powers that knock prone as including the trip maneuver.



Yes, there is a fighter at-will that knocks people prone (str vs. fort, str mod damage + prone). My point is that it is such a ludicrously simple maneuver to perform (though not simple to make succeed) that I think anyone should be able to do it. Because I feel that at-wills are equivalent to feats (there are a few examples where the system agrees with me), I think a feat should allow someone to do this very thing. I also think that someone should be allowed to do str or dex vs. fort or ref to knock someone prone with no damage; the feat is then "improved trip" and it adds the damage to it.



The problem is with balance though. Why should a character need to take 2 feats to drop someone prone and deal damage when with those two same feats they can enchance their at-wills to allow for knocking prone (ie polearm momentum, flail expertise) or merely take encounter powers or themes (trip up and mercenary theme respetively) that allow people to be knocked prone.

Heck a Polearm Momentum+ some way of increasing pushes (not hard to come by)= Bull Rush knocking prone. 
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1) Reintroduce more basic combat maneuvers, like trip, as not being able to do these things without a power seems odd.



These actually do exist as powers.... just that they tend to only exist for martial characters. I know for fact that there is a Fighter power named Trip though. One could also flavor melee powers that knock prone as including the trip maneuver.



Yes, there is a fighter at-will that knocks people prone (str vs. fort, str mod damage + prone). My point is that it is such a ludicrously simple maneuver to perform (though not simple to make succeed) that I think anyone should be able to do it. Because I feel that at-wills are equivalent to feats (there are a few examples where the system agrees with me), I think a feat should allow someone to do this very thing. I also think that someone should be allowed to do str or dex vs. fort or ref to knock someone prone with no damage; the feat is then "improved trip" and it adds the damage to it.



The problem is with balance though. Why should a character need to take 2 feats to drop someone prone and deal damage when with those two same feats they can enchance their at-wills to allow for knocking prone (ie polearm momentum, flail expertise) or merely take encounter powers or themes (trip up and mercenary theme respetively) that allow people to be knocked prone.

Heck a Polearm Momentum+ some way of increasing pushes (not hard to come by)= Bull Rush knocking prone. 



I think you misunderstood me. I was saying Trip, in my games, will be a basic maneuver akin to Bull Rush; Str vs. Fort or Dex vs. Ref to make someone prone. A single feat, "Improved Trip" can be purchased to allow someone to deal Str/Dex damage and gain "proficiency" (to make up for it not being a weapon attack). This single feat is akin to spending a feat on buying a new at-will attack, as it is identical to the fighter's at-will prone attack.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

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