Missing D&D feel in 4e

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Some people have claimed that 4th edition doesn't have a D&D feel of the previous editions (I don't personally feel so). I would like to hear from people who do, what is the cause of this feeling, i.e. what in 4e causes it. Could that feeling be restored without sacrificing class balance and lots of customization options in all classes?
At a convention last month, I played a session of 2E where we were playing lv0 villagers without high stats or any abilities. Since mechanically there was nothing we did well, we had to improvise.

In 4E the things your character can do through powers, skills and feats are very interesting, enough that you can enjoy playing solely using them.

I'm not saying either is right or wrong, just different. In 2E you improvised because you had to, in 4E your character is powerful and interesting enough that you don't.
...whatever
4e is just a different game, a more tactical game.  The feeling that I miss from older editions is the sudden immersion into danger, personal danger, experienced through my character.  

This is my opinion - the following tl;dr section is an explanation:

In older versions, combat would almost always begin suddenly and the first round of combat would commence immediately.  The DM would often call on you to make sudden rolls; "Roll suprise!", "Roll initiative!1", or worse - "Roll a saving throw vs. death!"    Now, I think the actual percentage chance of sudden death was bad in older editions - for a first level character this chance could be as high as 75% saving throw failure or so BUT I do like the sudden confrontation of danger - and to be clear, this was the MOST COMMON way a combat or dangerous encounter would begin - suddenly and then go straight into player actions.

Now, it is true that 4e CAN work the same way, but more often than not a combat encounter begins with the DM setting up a battle-mat, drawing a combat  area, placing minis or tokens or whatever and this all gives the players ample time to work out what they are gonna do and how they are gonna use their powers and position themselves etc.  The 4e game is more tactical than "personal adventure" oriented and the birds-eye view of the battlefield and the combat powers all reinforce this.

What I really miss is when the DM would say something like, "As you work you way across the flooded cavern, a bloated hand bursts from the water and grips your wrist!  Roll initiative."   AND then you go straight into the first round of combat.  This just doesn't happen very often in 4e.
I just started a new group of people on 4e last night. They are all people that have played some version of D&D before (a couple of them have played a lot of AD&D). My solution is to simply emphasize the fact that the rules are open-ended. I tell them about "page 42" and explain that their powers are likely to be a reliable solution for the average situation most of the time, but that they might work in slightly different ways etc if they can come up with some narrative that explains why or they can use them with stunts etc.

The other thing you really have to do with 4e is understand that unlike some games it is not a 'recipe' type of system. It doesn't hand you a 'creative solution' to every problem, instead it gives you loads of really solid ways to handle anything you want to make up. So it is a bit different, but you pretty much get the 'feel' you're looking for by throwing lots of creative stuff at the PCs. Go crazy. Have all sorts of weird stuff come up. Curses and strange rituals and whacky effects etc etc etc. Just go crazy. Really. The beauty of it is that the whole system can handle almost any bizarre thing you decide to have happen. If it is good story then it works.

There are going to be some things that WILL probably feel different because 4e PCs are just more capable in general. That is they always have SOME options. You don't get that AD&D kind of "we're hosed no matter what we do" kind of situations so often.
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I think 4e presents it's material in a completely different way.   For that reason, it took me a while to completely ignore the default style of play and revert back to my old ways.   Only once I did that did the game start to feel like D&D again.

It depends for a big part on what you thought was "key" to something being called D&D.

I never really noticed the change; the new version had high fantasy, it had roleplaying, you were a hero and you beat up loads of monsters while raking in treasure. It was just easier on me (the DM) so I loved it. I didn't miss anything. 
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Well, I have noticed a different feel, and it's a feel that I somewhat don't like. So I put alot of thought into it, into what exactly is creating this different "feel" so that I could change it and truely enjoy this new edition. Being an immersion player, I looked at the roleplay/adventrue aspect, which is my priority in a d&d game, and 4e does NOTHING to hinder Roleplay. I looked at the mechanics, sure it's vastly different, but I thought that it was different in a good way. The mechanics definitly give out a feel, but not a negative one that I was feeling.

One evening when playing with my group, it hit me: It's not the game, it's my group, it's the players. I've noticed that my group had become very gamist and that, due to the co-operative nature of the game, it brought out the min/maxer in a bit on my fellow players since they wanted to be their best to not let the team down. The same happened to my DM (who's run 3.5 for 8 years), but to a lesser extent: I sometimes feel that he enjoys making interesting encounters over an interesting story, not to a large extent but enough to be noticable. I'm the only person at my table who roleplay's in combat: instead of saying "I play this power", I say the fluff I've created and then make the rolls and add the extra effects. I only started this a few months ago and was really hoping that it would rub off on other players as well, but it hasn't. 

Long story short: It's the players at my group that are causing the feel that I dislike, not the game itself.

One evening when playing with my group, it hit me: It's not the game, it's my group, it's the players. I've noticed that my group had become very gamist and that, due to the co-operative nature of the game, it brought out the min/maxer in a bit on my fellow players since they wanted to be their best to not let the team down. The same happened to my DM (who's run 3.5 for 8 years), but to a lesser extent: I sometimes feel that he enjoys making interesting encounters over an interesting story, not to a large extent but enough to be noticable. I'm the only person at my table who roleplay's in combat: instead of saying "I play this power", I say the fluff I've created and then make the rolls and add the extra effects. I only started this a few months ago and was really hoping that it would rub off on other players as well, but it hasn't. 



We have a house rule that you get the feat bonus to attack rolls from expertise feat (which you get for free) only if you describe how you use a power or what it looks like. This has resulted in everyone describing their attacks almost all the time. At-Will powers are free from this rule, though, since describing them would get quite repetitive.
One of the things that I really like about 4e is that it doesn't feel like the earlier games.  I call 4e D&D 're-imagined'.  For the first time in a very long time, the game (and the lore of the game) feels fresh to me.  

For instance, I love the World Axis cosmology; it's more fantastic in my mind than the quasi-SF Great Wheel ever was.  I enjoy following game lore from edition to edition, how stories and iconic NPCs evolove from game to game.  I enjoy how devas have been re-imagined this time around for instance.

In short, I like the fact that 4e doesn't feel like the games that came before.

= = =

That being said, one of the things that I like about Essentials is this: Heroes of the Fallen Lands presents 'classic' races and classes (dwarves, eladrin/elves, and halflings, clerics, fighters, rogues and wizards).  That book, taken by itself, feels very 'back to basics' to me.  I can then take Heroes of the Forgoten Kingdoms (the next book) and add drow, half-elves, and half-orcs; druids, paladins and rangers.  That book feels very 2nd edition to me.

Martial characters use basic attacks in DDE rather than martial exploits (spells my any other name IMO), and that appeals to me.

= = =

So, right now, 4e is solid I think.  There is stuff that appeals to different kinds of players.  If you like the origiinal 4e approach, use the PH series; or if you like an old-school approach use the DDE stuff; OR mix 'n' match.  It's all good.
/\ Art


Long story short: It's the players at my group that are causing the feel that I dislike, not the game itself.



and that is due to the default gamist style that 4e encourages.     The game gives off that impression and players tend to play that way.  

What I miss is a nearly complete lack of rules support for skills/feats/abilities/powers/etc to function in a non-"encounter" situation.  Quite literally, I hate it as the DM.  I cannot overstate that fact.  I can get over the part where almost nothing powers-wise has usable rules support for non-combat situations (although I also seriously dislike that aspect), but railroading all events into encounters in order for the players to have rules support to use the various aspects of their character is terrible.  I find myself relying on rituals, the afterthought of the PHB, and completely homegrown rules in order to make the world function.

For example, this past Saturday, I had my players involved in open warfare of the 1500 vs. 1500 sized armies type.  This is not something that fits well in the "encounter" paradigm (making it work provided serious balancing challenges).  Neither do treaty negotions, an audience with a King, airship/galleon combat, environmental disasters, and loads of other "Not-Five-Orcs" events.

The loss of spell schools was also an unfortunate flavor hit, imho, that made it feel a bit less like the D&D I became accustomed to (I felt spell schools were an excellent addition to flavor development; pulling them was a bad idea).

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You don't get that AD&D kind of "we're hosed no matter what we do" kind of situations so often.



I'm not clear on how hopelessness makes a game more fun . . .

I wonder if the 0 level options for 4th ed would sate people's need for less powered heroes, starting out?

Also, some players may not improvise.  My players improvise skill uses all the damn time, and or use their skills for things that are in line with moving and being active on the battlefield (climbing, jumping, balancing, etc) and dealing with out of combat situations (searching for food, diplomacizing, etc).  The "roleplay a solution" hasn't really come up but for once; then again, they and I are brand new to this.  Though the current group is much more the kind that lets their stats do the talking.  I see nothing wrong with that.

At one point, I remember saying to someone, "I think it might take a person new to D&D and starting with 4th edition to explain how someone can have the old school feel with this new system", and I said this because the system looks different from the older systems; it is presented in such a different fashion that older players more used to the old formats may have actual difficulties grasping where the old fun stuff actually is, because it's not formatted in a way it normally is so the stuff they are looking for might not be in the places they look for them. Or the pieces someone is looking for were changed around, omitted because of assumption, or what have you. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes is all.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Llike all rpgs 4e plays as good or as bad as the players make it, but I agree with kev - I do think 4e encourages min-maxing your character and during the tactical combat you are encouraged to minimize your risk and maximize your effectiveness...  and because of this the mentality of the game is different.


I'm not clear on how hopelessness makes a game more fun . . .



Perservering through seemingly hopeless situations is the definition of heroism and can create very satisfying adventures.

I have the feeling in 4e that my hero with a sword in hand can be the focus of the story not just a sidekick to the spell caster.. does that count?
  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."

 



I'm not clear on how hopelessness makes a game more fun . . .



Perservering through seemingly hopeless situations is the definition of heroism and can create very satisfying adventures.




Yes and being heroic isn't something you're born with. It's based on your actions and the risks you take.  

On the other hand, 4e characters play more like superheros.   
Some people have claimed that 4th edition doesn't have a D&D feel of the previous editions (I don't personally feel so). I would like to hear from people who do, what is the cause of this feeling, i.e. what in 4e causes it. Could that feeling be restored without sacrificing class balance and lots of customization options in all classes?



Terrible thread idea by the way, better than half your responders at minimum will be on my block list... or ought to be.
  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."

 

There are a lot of things about older editions of D&D that have been done away with, and I think it's for the good.



  • Wizards aren't frail cowars at level 1

  • Wizards don't make non-spell casters obsolete by level 10

  • Paladins can be any alignment

  • PC's are harder to kill, which gives the DM more wiggle room in tuning encounters

  • It's a lot easier to DM


The only thing I'd bring back from older editions is the 9 point alignment system, which I thought was much better at describing characters. I don't want to see a return to mechanical effects, like Detect Evil, but if I want a lawful neutral personality, I don't want to refer to that as "good" or "unaligned", neither of which is accurate.
This has resulted in everyone describing their attacks almost all the time. At-Will powers are free from this rule, though, since describing them would get quite repetitive.


Not necessarily.. see the Fighter/The Wizard links from my Sig in particular.
heck after you hit Paragon tier how often do you use your at-wills?
  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."

 

Some people have claimed that 4th edition doesn't have a D&D feel of the previous editions (I don't personally feel so). I would like to hear from people who do, what is the cause of this feeling, i.e. what in 4e causes it. Could that feeling be restored without sacrificing class balance and lots of customization options in all classes?



Terrible thread idea by the way, better than half your responders at minimum will be on my block list... or ought to be.


Sounds like an excellent thread idea in that case.  What does sound like a terrible idea to me is ignoring those with divergent opinions.

I actually agree with your concerns from previous editions regarding caster classes often stealing the show, which is a balance and numbers problem.  The way I dealt with that in 3rd Ed as a DM was requiring 3 times as much experience to level for everyone.  It dramatically slowed level progression down, allowing more opportunity for balanced character development.  The longest campaign I've ever DM'd in 20+ years of doing so lasted over 400 play hours spread across more than 50 sessions.  The axe-wielding Dwarf Barbarian was the main character of the story and ended at level 11; no one martial played second fiddle to magic (and vice-versa).

4th Ed does have its problems to overcome, too.  I find it to be extremely DM-unfriendly, making it annoying or frustrating to provide unique and balanced situations for my players.

In addition to what I said earlier, the biggest thing I miss from the DMG is the charts of prebuilt (stats-wise) characters for every class at every level (and the 5 non-PC classes).  The players aren't just interacting with monsters all day, and I don't want to have to hand-develop stats for townfulls of people.

A couple final points.  The organization of information in each book, I thought, was just not good.  And the DMG seriously lacked pre-developed charts/tables (and I don't mean "random roll tables" I mean things like the value of land plots and residences of different sizes, climate combat/skill modifiers, siege weapons, etc, etc).  It lacked actual usable resources, and felt like a book of advice articles.

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What I miss is a nearly complete lack of rules support for skills/feats/abilities/powers/etc to function in a non-"encounter" situation.  Quite literally, I hate it as the DM.  I cannot overstate that fact.  I can get over the part where almost nothing powers-wise has usable rules support for non-combat situations (although I also seriously dislike that aspect), but railroading all events into encounters in order for the players to have rules support to use the various aspects of their character is terrible.  I find myself relying on rituals, the afterthought of the PHB, and completely homegrown rules in order to make the world function.

For example, this past Saturday, I had my players involved in open warfare of the 1500 vs. 1500 sized armies type.  This is not something that fits well in the "encounter" paradigm (making it work provided serious balancing challenges).  Neither do treaty negotions, an audience with a King, airship/galleon combat, environmental disasters, and loads of other "Not-Five-Orcs" events.

The loss of spell schools was also an unfortunate flavor hit, imho, that made it feel a bit less like the D&D I became accustomed to (I felt spell schools were an excellent addition to flavor development; pulling them was a bad idea).



I can easily do any of the bolded in 4th edition.  The first two would probably be skill challenges, the third would be several encounters mushed together combined with skill challenges (now fight the guys swinging over on ropes! Now fire the cannons!), the fourth would be a large scale change of terrain, unless the disaster in question had no bearing on battle, in which case it could again be skill challenge based (can you collect enough supplies/dodge the ____/otherwise survive, or do you loose healing surges and days worth of traveling time?).  Now that's mechanically.  I'm not talking about doing things by roleplay.

Spell schools came back with Essentials Wizard subclass, the Mage.

I suggest for you the Essentials book with the Mage (can't remember which one it is), the DMG2 (gives many advanced ways to sculpt encounters for story and length/epicness, and a better range of skill challenge examples), and possibly the Rules Compendium (with many improv skill examples). 

Technically, any time that a PC enters a situation where a scene is being played out, it's an encounter.  It's just not always combat encounter.  Think of encounters less like combat, and more like story scenes, with all that entails.



I'm not clear on how hopelessness makes a game more fun . . .



Perservering through seemingly hopeless situations is the definition of heroism and can create very satisfying adventures.



I can see this being in a book and being engaging.  However, if I am playing a game and only have a slim chance of success, no matter what the format, I'd quit playing that one and play another game.  So yeah, still confused.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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58419928 wrote:
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If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
The only thing I'd bring back from older editions is the 9 point alignment system, which I thought was much better at describing characters.



This I forgot about, because I refuse to use anything but the 9-point alignment system, which I've used in every game I've played (even non-D&D).

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This is not something that fits well in the "encounter" paradigm (making it work provided serious balancing challenges).  Neither do treaty negotions, an audience with a King, airship/galleon combat, environmental disasters, and loads of other "Not-Five-Orcs" events.



We had an airship fight last session. It was a lot of fun. Not sure what you had difficulty with.

Some people have claimed that 4th edition doesn't have a D&D feel of the previous editions (I don't personally feel so). I would like to hear from people who do, what is the cause of this feeling, i.e. what in 4e causes it.

Class balance, playability, consistent easily-interpreted rules - these are all things D&D has lacked time out of mind, and their presence visciously robs 4e of that precious D&D feel. 
Could that feeling be restored without sacrificing class balance and lots of customization options in all classes?

It's that feel you got from playing Basic D&D with other junior-high nerds in 1979.  That feeling that is simply not coming back, because you grew up.  Trying to re-capture it by making the current ed of D&D as primitive and incoherent and imbalanced as the earlier eds will only result in a bad version of D&D.


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

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Technically, any time that a PC enters a situation where a scene is being played out, it's an encounter.  It's just not always combat encounter.  Think of encounters less like combat, and more like story scenes, with all that entails.



IIRC the last time we had a discussion to this effect we learned that the two DMGs seem to be suffering a bit of schizophrenia about what exactly is an encounter, with DMG2 saying that in some cases you could consider any scene in the adventure, much like a scene in a story, to be an encounter, while the former DMG claims that it has to be a scene with a risk of failure.

I mean I guess that putting your clothes on in the morning has a risk of failure but I doubt I'd consider it an encounter despite being a (very brief) scene! Tongue Out
I can easily do any of the bolded in 4th edition.  The first two would probably be skill challenges, the third would be several encounters mushed together combined with skill challenges (now fight the guys swinging over on ropes! Now fire the cannons!), the fourth would be a large scale change of terrain, unless the disaster in question had no bearing on battle, in which case it could again be skill challenge based (can you collect enough supplies/dodge the ____/otherwise survive, or do you loose healing surges and days worth of traveling time?).  Now that's mechanically.  I'm not talking about doing things by roleplay.


You miss my point.  I can *also* do all of the above in 4th Ed.  I can do anything I please in any edition of D&D (and any edition of any RPG, for that matter); I'm the DM, that's what I do.  However, in 4th Ed it is literally more awkward, more challenging, and less balanced to do so via the encounter-based paradigm used.  Skill challenges are great, but available in any previous system with support for Skills, however, where is my rules support for alter self, suggestion, dominate, and various presenses that characters and creatures can use to their advantage.  It's one thing to Slight of Hand a mind-altering powder into a drink, it's another thing for that mind-altering powder to have a *rules-derived* effect under the encounter-based system.  There are literally more resources, and more built-in support, in other systems for accomplishing these kinds of things.

I'm not saying I *can't* -- I'm saying there is a lack of support natively built into the class powers/feats/abilities by default for handling non-encounter situations.  And because of that, there is an almost total lack of incentive for a player to *choose* a power that does have a non-encounter based effect.

Spell schools came back with Essentials Wizard subclass, the Mage.


Good to hear!

Technically, any time that a PC enters a situation where a scene is being played out, it's an encounter.  It's just not always combat encounter.  Think of encounters less like combat, and more like story scenes, with all that entails.


Yes, I already do (when playing 4th Ed).  I dislike it.  It's exactly that which I am saying is not how previous D&D systems felt.  I'm saying that it's better to have designed a system that supports combat not being encounters than non-combat being encounters.

I'm not clear on how hopelessness makes a game more fun . . .



Perservering through seemingly hopeless situations is the definition of heroism and can create very satisfying adventures.



I can see this being in a book and being engaging.  However, if I am playing a game and only have a slim chance of success, no matter what the format, I'd quit playing that one and play another game.  So yeah, still confused.


I agree with both of you here.  How prevalent this feeling is should be based on the dynamics of the group.  I have been in both situations -- however, I do agree that it is more difficult in 4th Ed to provide a situation where the players feel that sense of hopelessness.  But that was honestly the case with 3rd Ed, too (compared to Hero Point based games, like Shadowrun or Mutant Chronicles).  It's just even worse in 4th Ed.

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4th Ed does have its problems to overcome, too.  I find it to be extremely DM-unfriendly, making it annoying or frustrating to provide unique and balanced situations for my players.


I cant make sense of that statement.... in what sense do you mean balanced.


In addition to what I said earlier, the biggest thing I miss from the DMG is the charts of prebuilt (stats-wise) characters for every class at every level (and the 5 non-PC classes).  The players aren't just interacting with monsters all day, and I don't want to have to hand-develop stats for townfulls of people.


 
There was a request on here where somebody wanted to know what stats were needed for a lock smith.. My response was why do I need stats for a locksmith?I thought about it a while and then I came up with things I might want to know about him...like what his attitudes were about magic making locksmiths second class citizens and  including that his child that interupts the meeting with the players is adopted and has blue eyes to his brown and that he is quick to anger over any intimations about the quality of his work and that his cousin across town a rival and if you mention him you might finagle a discount price... I gave a description of the smell of clean oils and metal from the shop... the whole point of it was that there was many elements I could think of that I would like to include this character in the story.. .and oops oh he happened to be an ex military man... flip to the monster manual and pick the stats for a minion unless ofcourse his daughter was threatened.

So  your desire for "combat" numbers on a page ... shrug neither impresses me as useful nor does it imply that your game is more story oriented.

  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."

 

Some people have claimed that 4th edition doesn't have a D&D feel of the previous editions (I don't personally feel so). I would like to hear from people who do, what is the cause of this feeling, i.e. what in 4e causes it. Could that feeling be restored without sacrificing class balance and lots of customization options in all classes?



Terrible thread idea by the way, better than half your responders at minimum will be on my block list... or ought to be.


Sounds like an excellent thread idea in that case.  What does sound like a terrible idea to me is ignoring those with divergent opinions.

I actually agree with your concerns from previous editions regarding caster classes often stealing the show, which is a balance and numbers problem.  The way I dealt with that in 3rd Ed as a DM was requiring 3 times as much experience to level for everyone.  It dramatically slowed level progression down, allowing more opportunity for balanced character development.  The longest campaign I've ever DM'd in 20+ years of doing so lasted over 400 play hours spread across more than 50 sessions.  The axe-wielding Dwarf Barbarian was the main character of the story and ended at level 11; no one martial played second fiddle to magic (and vice-versa).

4th Ed does have its problems to overcome, too.  I find it to be extremely DM-unfriendly, making it annoying or frustrating to provide unique and balanced situations for my players.

In addition to what I said earlier, the biggest thing I miss from the DMG is the charts of prebuilt (stats-wise) characters for every class at every level (and the 5 non-PC classes).  The players aren't just interacting with monsters all day, and I don't want to have to hand-develop stats for townfulls of people.

A couple final points.  The organization of information in each book, I thought, was just not good.  And the DMG seriously lacked pre-developed charts/tables (and I don't mean "random roll tables" I mean things like the value of land plots and residences of different sizes, climate combat/skill modifiers, siege weapons, etc, etc).  It lacked actual usable resources, and felt like a book of advice articles.



Unless the PCs are going to fight every last townsperson, or be allied with them in a fight, the townspeople don't need stats.  Instead, you can just use the DCs by level (which are much improved in the Rules Compendium) in lieu of trying to give every NPC stats that will almost never be used.  For more fleshed out companion NPCs, the DMG2 has rules for generating those.  For simple NPCs, you can get away with the DC table or a simple stat spread plus 2-3 trained skills.

I'm not sure why one would need the game to tell the DM what the value of land is (though from what I remember hearing, Mordenkienen's Magical Emporium does some of this for you; the first Draconomicon also has a bountiful listing of how to make interesting hoards that includes tables for unique art items, more gemstones than listed in the DMG, and strange treasures) .  Climate/weather combat/skill modifiers are on page 158 of the DMG.  Rain, snow and the like is obscured terrain, and might be difficult terrain on the ground; wind can be an obstacle hazard, the stats for creating hazards and traps are in the DMG2, and mainly use the DCs and damage per level table in the DMG, which has been updated as well to some very respectable levels.  There are also Endurance checks to survive severe weather conditions, with a failure costing a healing surge.

Siege weapons are most like traps or terrain powers (also in the DMG2, and wrecan wrote an article here with even more terrain powers, and how to modify existing ones or create new ones), and should be constructed as such.

If you are looking for something that was in a previous edition that you can't find, try the "What You May Have Missed" thread, stickied above, it's usually a great resource for those things you just haven't found or have read a book but don't see something.  And if you are looking for something in this edition that you can't find, feel free to post in that thread, politely asking if anyone has seen X.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Neither do treaty negotions, an audience with a King, airship/galleon combat, environmental disasters, and loads of other "Not-Five-Orcs" events.

The loss of spell schools was also an unfortunate flavor hit, imho, that made it feel a bit less like the D&D I became accustomed to (I felt spell schools were an excellent addition to flavor development; pulling them was a bad idea).



I can easily do any of the bolded in 4th edition.



Easily is putting it lightly .. they are prime 4e adventure and gaming fodder. You basically have to have not read the DMGs to think otherwise.
  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."

 

On the other hand, 4e characters play more like superheros.   



I guess that is part of the feel, that I miss playing an adventurer - Player skill instead of PC skill.

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I'm surprised how little AEDU gets brought up in these topics. There have been D&Ds where out of combat rules were near non-existent, where rolling up NPCs was simplified or a mirror of the players, where skills and character building were more or less involved. But giving warriors multiple daily powers and removing the vancian system is a radical change from the player perspective of every D&D. Fighters and Wizards used to not only do different things (roles) but do them extremely differently, with fighters basically stuck with at-wills (even as 3E expanded combat options), and Wizards focused on huge daily spell lists. 4E annhilated that huge mechanical gap and turned near every class into a variant on tome of battle, and furthermore architectually the *same* variant with the same number and types of powers at every level. This did bridge the ever-complained-about Caster-Martial Disparity but at a cost that made the in-combat decisions for the core classes completely differently from any other edition, and the classes in one aspect remarkably similar to each other. That might have gone poorly for the different types of players that enjoyed the variety of different extremes in earlier D&Ds, or really not for any reason of like/dislike but just that it felt so completely unlike their expectation of D&D.

AEDU also had a huge impact on many other aspects of the system; the concept of the encounter as a resource limiter, and therefore clear differentiation between discrete encounter and non-encounter; the introduction of rituals to deal with non-encounter magic; turning power lists into mostly class-exclusives; move towards precise jargon and stat blocks away from english descriptions; seperation of fluff from mechanics (starting with martials vs arcane needing unique explanations for why they work the same way.) AEDU doesn't necessarily force all these changes itself, but they stem from the way Wizards interpreted AEDU.

If nothing else I expect that 5E will not lock every core class into the same AEDU mode. If they really take the modular thing far enough, we might even see AEDU, vancian, and basic attack versions of the same class. But supporting something that looks like the latter two options is IMO essential for grabbing lapsed players of every edition.
Technically, any time that a PC enters a situation where a scene is being played out, it's an encounter.  It's just not always combat encounter.  Think of encounters less like combat, and more like story scenes, with all that entails.



IIRC the last time we had a discussion to this effect we learned that the two DMGs seem to be suffering a bit of schizophrenia about what exactly is an encounter, with DMG2 saying that in some cases you could consider any scene in the adventure, much like a scene in a story, to be an encounter, while the former DMG claims that it has to be a scene with a risk of failure.

I mean I guess that putting your clothes on in the morning has a risk of failure but I doubt I'd consider it an encounter despite being a (very brief) scene! Tongue Out



When in doubt, I take the word of the DMG2 over the DMG. ;)  I know this is a personal methodology, but it is one I do hope will spread.

I can easily do any of the bolded in 4th edition.  The first two would probably be skill challenges, the third would be several encounters mushed together combined with skill challenges (now fight the guys swinging over on ropes! Now fire the cannons!), the fourth would be a large scale change of terrain, unless the disaster in question had no bearing on battle, in which case it could again be skill challenge based (can you collect enough supplies/dodge the ____/otherwise survive, or do you loose healing surges and days worth of traveling time?).  Now that's mechanically.  I'm not talking about doing things by roleplay.



You miss my point.  I can *also* do all of the above in 4th Ed.  I can do anything I please in any edition of D&D (and any edition of any RPG, for that matter); I'm the DM, that's what I do.  However, in 4th Ed it is literally more awkward, more challenging, and less balanced to do so via the encounter-based paradigm used.  Skill challenges are great, but available in any previous system with support for Skills, however, where is my rules support for alter self, suggestion, dominate, and various presenses that characters and creatures can use to their advantage.  It's one thing to Slight of Hand a mind-altering powder into a drink, it's another thing for that mind-altering powder to have a *rules-derived* effect under the encounter-based system.  There are literally more resources, and more built-in support, in other systems for accomplishing these kinds of things.

I'm not saying I *can't* -- I'm saying there is a lack of support natively built into the class powers/feats/abilities by default for handling non-encounter situations.  And because of that, there is an almost total lack of incentive for a player to *choose* a power that does have a non-encounter based effect.



I think I see what you mean, here, and let me retort:  Using Disguise Self before a skill check begins (in which being another person would be useful) would, by the reading of the utility power, give the PC in question a +5 to their Bluff checks to convince the NPC they are who they look like they are; the mechanical implications of how this effects a skill challenge or a simple interaction is totally and completly up to the DM (as it should be). Does it give a bonus to diplomacy when acting as that person?  Bluff?  Intimidation?  Is it an automatic success for one skill roll in the challenge?  That needs to be left up to each individual DM as per the needs of their story.  Most other utilities, be they class specific or skill specific, or whatever, seem to slant that way; mechanical effect, but usage out of combat is left up to the DM.  Do you see this as a problem?  Note, any questions I ask are asked in an attempt to understand what your position is on things, and is asked honestly and without malice.

What about the poison example?  Adventurer's Vault, page 28, Goodnight Tincture.  You put it in "adjacent" food or drink (adjacent in the case of out of combat being up to DM discretion), and a creature that eats it is subject to an attack "after 1 minute", an attack that attacks fortitude, and if it succeeds the target is knocked out for an hour unless attacked or subject to violent motion.  there's a whole page of poisons in the DMG to use or model your own poison after, and mentions how to apply it to food or drink.  Carrion Crawler Juice slowly can paralyze a victim, Ground Thassil Root knocks a person unconscious.  It'd be simple to derive your own poison from these that had an effect on the will defense of a victim, or gave them a penalty to Insight checks, or whatever you wanted.  The system is very very open.  Do you want it to be more constrained, or would you just like to see more poisons, more examples  of out-of-combat effects for illusory powers, etc?  I personally find the system totally bendable to my will as DM, and yet easy to use, and not needing a cudgel to make work.  Like I said, I find it easy to do.  Not just doable, but easy.

Also, rituals were made for the reason that they were meant to be strictly utility options.  I think the only real problem to this is the cost inherent in rituals; largely, one can excise or award the costs in terms of extra treasure.  Hopefully, rituals in the future will be more of a default for classes, and that certain classes will get even more of them (I could see doubling the amount of rituals the wizard gets, and giving clerics, druids, psions, etc. rituals at certain levels instead of making them buy them all).

Technically, any time that a PC enters a situation where a scene is being played out, it's an encounter.  It's just not always combat encounter.  Think of encounters less like combat, and more like story scenes, with all that entails.


Yes, I already do (when playing 4th Ed).  I dislike it.  It's exactly that which I am saying is not how previous D&D systems felt.  I'm saying that it's better to have designed a system that supports combat not being encounters than non-combat being encounters.



I'm not so sure what you mean here.  Are you looking for a system that treats combat as the abberation, as something normally not done?  Or are you looking for in-combat and out-of-combat to coexist peacefully?  I assume the latter would require an "everything encounter" type of system, so one can balance the game based on encounters.  But that is just my personal thoughts on that.

If you have not really poked at the system since first blush, I really suggest taking a look at it again.  What with the panoply of new books, the Essentials philosophy, DMG2 mechanics for DMs and more, I think you might be surprised at how good 4th edition can be at emulating what came before.

Not that I would have any clue, seeing as how this is my first edition.  But I hear that it's gaining more. ;)
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
This has been something that I have been working on as well. One of my players absolutely hates 4E; he only playes it because he really wants to play. Most of my players have no issue with it. I think something feels off, so I ask this question from time to time.

The chief thing one of my players complains about is how HP is the only way to end a fight. He says "all attacks are x stat vs. y defense for z hp damage". I agree that this is true, but I don't agree that this is a problem; it creates better balance. He also doesn't like that they changed the different rates at which wizards and fighters grow, but I don't even dignify that part.

My own chief complaint about 4E is that I don't enjoy reading the class entries. I don't need to see the powers when I'm reading over a class and getting an idea of how they work. I would have rather seen a simple list of powers and what they do with each class, and then have the power cards listed separately. Essentials took a step to make the Cleric and Wizard more interesting, and I am looking at applying that change to all of the casters. 
Poe's Law is alive and well. Emerikol is right*
The chief thing one of my players complains about is how HP is the only way to end a fight. He says "all attacks are x stat vs. y defense for z hp damage". I agree that this is true, but I don't agree that this is a problem; it creates better balance.



Well, Dragon 396 had an Unearthed Arcana Article on ending fights in ways other than reducing all enemies to 0 HP.  Not sure if it was any good, but there is an option for it out there.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

4th Ed does have its problems to overcome, too.  I find it to be extremely DM-unfriendly, making it annoying or frustrating to provide unique and balanced situations for my players.


I cant make sense of that statement.... in what sense do you mean balanced.


I mean balanced in the sense of numerically balanced.  I once proved to one of my players that a monster he chose to fight on his own provided a mechanically even chance of success by integrating the assumed guassian even distribution of die rolls within the damage equations (Edit: removed my gaussian slip ).  He had accused me of presenting him with a lopsided situation (after he won), when really I purposefully developed that situation as a high risk decision, but not arbitrarily improbably.  My education and professional training are in physics, psychology, and critical thinking.  I mean *balanced,* which, while no edition has been balanced, previous editions were easier to adjust and generally more flexible.


In addition to what I said earlier, the biggest thing I miss from the DMG is the charts of prebuilt (stats-wise) characters for every class at every level (and the 5 non-PC classes).  The players aren't just interacting with monsters all day, and I don't want to have to hand-develop stats for townfulls of people.


 
There was a request on here where somebody wanted to know what stats were needed for a lock smith.. My response was why do I need stats for a locksmith?I thought about it a while and then I came up with things I might want to know about him...like what his attitudes were about magic making locksmiths second class citizens and  including that his child that interupts the meeting with the players is adopted and has blue eyes to his brown and that he is quick to anger over any intimations about the quality of his work and that his cousin across town a rival and if you mention him you might finagle a discount price... I gave a description of the smell of clean oils and metal from the shop... the whole point of it was that there was many elements I could think of that I would like to include this character in the story.. .and oops oh he happened to be an ex military man... flip to the monster manual and pick the stats for a minion unless ofcourse his daughter was threatened.

So  your desire for "combat" numbers on a page ... shrug neither impresses me as useful nor does it imply that your game is more story oriented.


Not only do I not desire only the "combat" numbers, but also the feat, skill, and generally ability choices provided for default characters, so they can interact in a mass-NPC environment quickly and easily.  My games aren't more story oriented than they combat oriented, but neither are they the reverse.  The oriented-ness of the game relies on the decisions of the players.  Having a series of well-developed numbers for sections of story allows me to finely tune grand settings and environments, without relying on subjectiveness or randomization.  I can avoid making significant numbers of dice rolls of my own when I know how things will develop based on player choice.  It's my goal to provide settings of hundreds or thousands of individually balanced and rules-supported interactable objects and NPCs within individual scenes in order to better provide a more flexible world.  This is how I develop the sessions that get played; when I actually play the session, the game plays itself flexibly from player choice, allowing me to focus on the changing emotional and social dynamics within the group.  I built towns in 3e with specific binomial distributions of NPC classes and levels based on population, region, and culture.  Why?  Because I could.  I can still do so in 4e, it just doesn't have the same resources to do so easily.

Also, I'm sorry my desire for a few pages of those tables isn't impressive to you.  The topic of the thread is about ways that 4e no longer feels like prior D&D editions to people.  Had I known it was just a trap to have my feedback treated dismissively, I wouldn't have posted.

Lastly, I'll bring up airship combat again.  Did you know that if you use 11 rounds per minute in high-velocity environments instead of 10 rounds per minute, then you can seemlessly transition in and out of the round structure?  This is because Miles Per Hour translates into Squares Per Round with no approximation if the rounds are 1/11 of a minute long.  Let's say a powerful Invisibility spell utilized as a type of cloaking device lasts for 1 minute per caster level -- I can make (or have an Excel sheet with built in functions make) on the fly decisions based on that without having to deal with making the call as to whether something like "Encounter Powers" are going to reset or not.  Why?  Because abilities in previous editions of D&D *also* seemlessly transition between varying structures of the turn-based game.  That is, it provides balanced and harmonious rules support, something 4e does not.  I can provide an airship encounter in 4e; other people can provide airship encounters in 4e that I'm not here to dismiss.  What I am saying is that 4e doesn't provide the same harmony and flexibility to develop things that retain integrity with the rest of the rules base.

As the DM, I find it my responsibility to provide worlds that retain seemless and balanced transitions based on player decisions.  I have a very high standard for doing that, which I find 4e to be lacking the resources to make that happen in several cases.  Perhaps I need to "buy more 4e books" where I'll find everything I need.  I would find that an unacceptable solution.  I already don't see the DMG 1 as providing a high amount of quality information, especially when compared to prior editions.  I don't plan on purchasing additional product that has a low signal-to-noise ratio.

Somnia, the Evanescent Plane -- A 3-set Block
Set 1 — Somnia
Set 2 — TBD
Set 3 — TBD
Planeswalker's Guide to Somnia

Build Around This
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Build Around This #1 - Sage's Starfish Wish
BAT #1 was built using the Legacy format with Spiny Starfish, Sage's Knowledge, and Make a Wish. Winner: Dilleux_Lepaire with Fishy Starfishies. Runner-Up: JBTM
When in doubt, I take the word of the DMG2 over the DMG. ;)  I know this is a personal methodology, but it is one I do hope will spread.

*snip*

What with the panoply of new books, the Essentials philosophy, DMG2 mechanics for DMs and more, I think you might be surprised at how good 4th edition can be at emulating what came before.

Not that I would have any clue, seeing as how this is my first edition.  But I hear that it's gaining more. ;)


Although -- not intending to disavow anything I said at the end of my last post -- given your prodding, I may just look through the DMG2 the next time I am at the game store.

I'm not so sure what you mean here.  Are you looking for a system that treats combat as the abberation, as something normally not done?  Or are you looking for in-combat and out-of-combat to coexist peacefully?  I assume the latter would require an "everything encounter" type of system, so one can balance the game based on encounters.


It can be a bit difficult to describe through forums, but I am looking for the latter.  If all powers and abilities are designed based around a system of elementary measurements (time, distance, etc), then both combat and non-combat situations can flex around that design.  The abilities the characters have should be designed independent of the structure of play (structure being "encounter," "rounds," "turn-based," etc).  The mechanics of those abilities should be described as independently as possible to the structure of play -- when the structure of play is designed first, then other rules are designed to fit that structure (and only described within the terminology of that structure) it makes it much more difficult to escape to a different structure of play and still transition rules support to do so.

4e very clearly designed the play structure (Encounters) prior to designing the supporting rules.  Even if not consciously done so, 3e (and earlier editions in *some* aspects) did not have the same issue.  Nor do several other game systems.  It feels extremely limiting.  Not that certain situations are impossible within those limits, just that it becomes more difficult.

Somnia, the Evanescent Plane -- A 3-set Block
Set 1 — Somnia
Set 2 — TBD
Set 3 — TBD
Planeswalker's Guide to Somnia

Build Around This
A weekly MTG Cards and Combos forum game.
Build Around This #1 - Sage's Starfish Wish
BAT #1 was built using the Legacy format with Spiny Starfish, Sage's Knowledge, and Make a Wish. Winner: Dilleux_Lepaire with Fishy Starfishies. Runner-Up: JBTM
I see that you, FirstTurnKill, used the education argument...

Please do not start this elitist trend.

D&D is a game, not an educational tool. 
I see that you, FirstTurnKill, used the education argument...

Please do not start this elitist trend.

D&D is a game, not an educational tool. 


I wasn't using my education as an argument, nor did I say it with the intent to throw the thread into an unrelated topic.  I used it to provide context to my response to the question I was asked.  No more, no less.  I recognize my answer to that question isn't the only valid answer, my background was provided to explain my answer.

D&D is a game and an educational tool.  It can also be a weapon, hardback books can do some damage, and d4's are bloody caltrops at 2 AM.  But that, also, is discussion for a different thread.  I meant no more by my comments.

Somnia, the Evanescent Plane -- A 3-set Block
Set 1 — Somnia
Set 2 — TBD
Set 3 — TBD
Planeswalker's Guide to Somnia

Build Around This
A weekly MTG Cards and Combos forum game.
Build Around This #1 - Sage's Starfish Wish
BAT #1 was built using the Legacy format with Spiny Starfish, Sage's Knowledge, and Make a Wish. Winner: Dilleux_Lepaire with Fishy Starfishies. Runner-Up: JBTM
When in doubt, I take the word of the DMG2 over the DMG. ;)  I know this is a personal methodology, but it is one I do hope will spread.

*snip*

What with the panoply of new books, the Essentials philosophy, DMG2 mechanics for DMs and more, I think you might be surprised at how good 4th edition can be at emulating what came before.

Not that I would have any clue, seeing as how this is my first edition.  But I hear that it's gaining more. ;)


Although -- not intending to disavow anything I said at the end of my last post -- given your prodding, I may just look through the DMG2 the next time I am at the game store.

I'm not so sure what you mean here.  Are you looking for a system that treats combat as the abberation, as something normally not done?  Or are you looking for in-combat and out-of-combat to coexist peacefully?  I assume the latter would require an "everything encounter" type of system, so one can balance the game based on encounters.


It can be a bit difficult to describe through forums, but I am looking for the latter.  If all powers and abilities are designed based around a system of elementary measurements (time, distance, etc), then both combat and non-combat situations can flex around that design.  The abilities the characters have should be designed independent of the structure of play (structure being "encounter," "rounds," "turn-based," etc).  The mechanics of those abilities should be described as independently as possible to the structure of play -- when the structure of play is designed first, then other rules are designed to fit that structure (and only described within the terminology of that structure) it makes it much more difficult to escape to a different structure of play and still transition rules support to do so.

4e very clearly designed the play structure (Encounters) prior to designing the supporting rules.  Even if not consciously done so, 3e (and earlier editions in *some* aspects) did not have the same issue.  Nor do several other game systems.  It feels extremely limiting.  Not that certain situations are impossible within those limits, just that it becomes more difficult.



First, a few notes: I am glad to get even one more person to look at the DMG 2.  Yes, what was in it should have been smooshed into the original 4th ed DMG.  Still, the book is awesome.  Also, My point of view is coming from a major in fine art, and a minor in english (mainly from literature classes) and nearly a life time of making art and playing games.  I do not pretend to understand physics, and am at best an armchair psychologist.  Also, I have no idea what critical thinking means.  That said, on I go. . .

How does a system balanced around encounters not allow character abilities to be balanced for any situation?  Are we speaking instead of balancing them around time?  They have to have some structure to build upon; mechanics shouldn't exist without thought to the structure of play.  Are you saying that the structure of play is combat encounters, and that is what hinders the design?  If that is the case, though I cannot agree, I can at least understand where you are coming from.

I will say that as a creative type, artist, storyteller and all-around artisan of craft and artistic works, 4th edition feels like so much paint and brushes, with me making the decisions on almost everything but the initial hues of red, blue, yellow, black and white.  I feel like it has everything I need, and am dismayed when others do not find what they are looking for.

That said, I have difficulty understanding how tables of basic NPCs helps to build a town any better than using "Easy, Medium, Hard" DCs of, for example, 8, 12 and 19 (if I remember the revised numbers right) for a first level character when they try to socially interact with an NPC.  If they try and fight them, I'd most likely use the stats for the Human Rabble or the Human Lackey "monster" in the original Monster Manual.  Most NPCs will be minion type monsters, not trained, not able to even fight back, and dying in a single hit.  Permutations of the Human Guards, or other racial equivalents work just as well if the player decides to take a swing, and throwing an encounter of X level [race] guards against something is as simple as using a humanoid stat block with the appropriate racial power subbed in or tacked on to another monster block.  All in all, five minutes max to whip up an encounter.  And I do have a few random encounters saved on my computer just in case. ;)  So, why the "binomial (not even sure what that means)" cities?  Is this a math versus art thing?  An improvisation versus prepared mathematical computation?  Or is it something else?  Again, asking to understand, not to insult.  Some people will say you are horrible, I just don't understand and am trying to.  I'm glad you like what you like.  ;)

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
What I miss is a nearly complete lack of rules support for skills/feats/abilities/powers/etc to function in a non-"encounter" situation.

Non-adventuring, sure.  Skill Challenges are equivalent to encounters, though, and can cover just about anything.

For example, this past Saturday, I had my players involved in open warfare of the 1500 vs. 1500 sized armies type.  This is not something that fits well in the "encounter" paradigm (making it work provided serious balancing challenges).  Neither do treaty negotions, an audience with a King, airship/galleon combat, environmental disasters, and loads of other "Not-Five-Orcs" events.

Several of those things have been done as Skill Challenges, one is a sample in the DMG (audience with a Duke, rather than a King, IIRC). 

The main difference is that there actually /is/ structured support for such things.  It's a new aproach, though, and though it's improved with each update, it's still far from ideal.

The loss of spell schools was also an unfortunate flavor hit, imho, that made it feel a bit less like the D&D I became accustomed to (I felt spell schools were an excellent addition to flavor development; pulling them was a bad idea).

I liked schools, too.  This is going to sound silly, but they made magic seem more arcane, if less mystical - more like book-learn'n magic.  ;)  Of course, there back, so you can rejoice in that.



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

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

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

 

 

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The things I do not like in 4E:

1.) A first level PC in 4E is similar in power level, survivability, etc... to a 5th level 3.5 (and earlier PC).  A 30th level 4E PC is similar to a 13th level PC in prior editions.  In other words, 30 levels of advancement feels like about 8 levels of advancement to experienced players.  We don't really feel like we're struggling through the early era we remember where a single goblin arrow could spell disaster - and we don't experience those high level days where we shape the world around us.  Those were part of the D&D game - and I miss them when I play 4E.

2.) The classes are too similar.  In 3.5 and earlier, a wizard felt, looked and operated differently than a fighter.  In 4E, there are a plethora of powers out there - spread across all of the classes - that feel too similar.  This took the magic out of magic.  The 4E system is great for martial classes, but I feel like it robbed the other classes of their core.

3.) The game is too safe.  The game is designed to keep the PCs up and fighting if you play it according to the recommendations in the books.  I often feel like I'm playing a video game on 'easy' as opposed to 'normal' or 'hard'.  I need there to be a risk of failure for combats to mean something.  The most common failure risk should be death.  If PCs use horrible tactics, have horrible luck, or have a combination of poor luck and poor tactics, they should DIE.  The most memorable moments in my 30+ year D&D experience has been the death of my favorite PCs.  

4.) The game is too balanced.  The designers of 4E were very good at identifying things that broke the game by giving something too much of an advantage.  Being able to fly up in the air and attack with a bow against an army of ogres with no ranged weapons was devastatingly powerful.  However, the efforts to prevent these types of antics by removing flight (or the most part) from the hands of PCs stole the feeling of a magical world.  Invisibility, flight, teleportation, etc... mayhave been broken in old editions, but they were part of the core of the game and the absence of the old ways these things worked is felt. 

5.) The plethora of spells that wizards, clerics, druids, etc... had at their disposal was a big part of prior editions.  The transition of some of these things to rituals was a nice idea in theory, but failed in practice.  

How would I address these faults?

1.) Change the 'power structure'  of the classes so that they feel different.  If I were designing wizards, all wizards would get magic missile as their only at will.  Then, they'd get utility powers at every level.  They'd also start with 3 daily powers, and get a new daily power every other level.  No encounter powers - and they'd never lose access to powers.  Fighters would get very few utility powers or daily powers, but a wider selection of encounter and at-will powers. 

2.) I'd bring back the days of high risk at low levels.  Low level PCs would have 12 to 20 hps, not 25 to 35.  PCs would need to cut their teeth before getting to that level of survivability where they feel fairly safe if everything goes right.

3.) I'd bring back the days of high power at high levels.  In 3.5 and earlier, levels 17 and above were world altering levels of power.  PCs that played from levels 17 to 30 were reshaping the world.  I'd bring that back for the last 10 to 15% of a character's existence before forced retirement / power capping.

4.) I'd reintroduce the iconic broken abilities of the past, but hedge them with ways to keep themfrom being totally broken.  Invisibility might not return at 3rd level, but it'd be the invisibility of old and it'd be very effective - although maybe not quite as devastatingly powerful as in the old days (perhaps invisibility would not be as foolproof as it was inthe past).  PCs would be able to gain the ability to fly, although I might introduce rules for grounding flying enemies by throwing things at them.   

Those types of chages would bring back a lot of the feeling that was lost in 4E. 
D&D & Boardgames If I have everything I need to run great games for many years without repeating stuff, why do I need to buy anything right now?