Why no professions?

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Why are there no professions or craft skills in 4e?

This hasn't bothered me much, but I remember when I started as a DM I actually gave my group some free Martial Practices just so they had some abilities outside of combat (the fighter and the warlord, mainly). 

Too many times have I had one skill left to train and go "screw it, I'll just take nature" without having a clue why my character knows one herb from the other. It's not that I can't make up a skill of my own, simply use thievery for crafting or just roleplay a hobby. It's that feeling when you have one skill left to train and see "crafting" in your skill list. It makes you go "Heeeyyyyy, what If I'm a pasttime jewelcrafter?!". It makes you think more about your character and what he does when he's not saving the world than you would otherwise (at least for new players). It makes you think a bit "what did I do before all this?". I know the benefits are minescule (but might set up some awesome moment), but I seriously don't see any drawbacks to having a craft and profession skill. Something > nothing, so why where they taken out of the game?

From now on all my characters gain 1 extra trained skill and the ability to choose 1 crafting and 2 profession skills... But it still makes me wonder why they were taken out of the game...

 

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Because it's a game about heroic monster-slayers, not a game about jewellers, basically.  Also, because the skill system is much more abstracted, and virtually anything can be made an application of one of the skills.  Making jewellery, for instance, would be an application of Thievery.
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Professions can be easily added through a character's backstory. Fluff and all that.
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PHB2 has backgrounds, one option of which is 'profession'. The idea being that forcing players to decide between a highly useful adventuring skill and something that might come up once or twice in the whole campaign isn't really a good deal. Most players feel like their skill slots are valuable and they want to use them for important things. Thus if you made profession (and craft and perform) into skills that cost a slot or even part of a slot most players will simply not ever choose them. As a background element OTOH the player has no reason NOT to give his character a profession.

The other reason they aren't skills is simply that having a limitless open skill list makes skills into a measure of incompetence. If there is a 'pottery' skill then lack of that skill (which will be neigh universal) means the DM is going to have to say you're not competent in pottery (otherwise why have the skill at all). Thus the 3.x style open skill list basically dictated that each character knew only a narrow range of things and had little or no competency in other areas. By contrast the small fixed skill list used in 4e only implies that you're PARTICULARLY competent in some areas. There's no pottery skill that has to be justified by the incompetence of everyone that doesn't have it. Instead any character can plausibly have some knowlege of the subject and may have something written into their background that indicates particular competence. Since they didn't have to give up an adventuring skill to put that on their sheet it is OK if some of the other characters aren't completely useless at pottery either. It isn't like the character with that background feels ripped off as they would in 3.x.

Of course nothing stops players and DMs from using skill slots or feats however they want in their home games. It isn't going to have a really major impact on the game if you decide that a character can spend a skill slot to write "really good at throwing pots" on their character sheet. Likewise you could maybe convince the DM that you want to say be a desert nomad who's Athletics skill works well for climbing cliffs but who can't swim for anything. There's no RULE for that kind of thing, but again the game isn't going to break if the DM lets players tweak their characters a bit to fit with some specific concept.
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Many crafting skills are background and have no effect on the game, and so it makes sense not to force players to spend game resources, like training slots, on being something like an underwater basket weaver.  Creating rules for underwater basket weaving adds needless complexity to the game and diverts resources from being trained in things players will actually find useful in the course of fighting monsters and being heroes. 

In the case of crafting mundane armor, weaponry, and items, there's little reason to do so after the early heroic tier, since characters need and are assumed to have magical weaponry, so there's little need to make rules to do so.  Crafting magical items is well-covered by existing rules.


This is one of those issues that comes up over and over again. The developers have actually been pretty clear about the issue, starting with (IIRC) the "Worlds and Monsters" preview book for 4e.

But fortunately we have a recent, official answer. Quoting from Rich Baker's "Rule of Three" column on 9/12/11:
Why were craft skills removed from D&D in 4th edition?

This was a fiercely debated issue in the 4th Edition design and development team. One school of thought held that the Craft skill is a fun tool for customizing characters; even if no one ever really uses the skill, folks appreciate having the option to write it on their character sheet and might actually make the small sacrifice of taking a skill just for flavor. The other school of thought (which ultimately prevailed) argued that the shorter, tighter, and more focused the skill list was, the better it would be. A Craft skill with no real game impact would only confuse new players trying to navigate the skill rules. Designers who held this view pointed out that nothing prevented players from writing "blacksmith," "leatherworker," "glassblower," or anything else on their character sheets. In hindsight, perhaps we should have included a small sidebar to emphasize that point.


There is a simple patch for this, of course: just add the Craft skill to your game. The rules and DCs from the 3rd Edition Craft skill are close enough to what would be appropriate for 4th Edition games. And how often does it really matter whether your character hits a DC 20 Blacksmithing check, anyway? Most of what players want out of a Craft skill is just permission to write "blacksmith" on their character sheet and to say that their character knows something about being a blacksmith.


Too many times have I had one skill left to train and go "screw it, I'll just take nature" without having a clue why my character knows one herb from the other. It's not that I can't make up a skill of my own, simply use thievery for crafting or just roleplay a hobby. It's that feeling when you have one skill left to train and see "crafting" in your skill list. It makes you go "Heeeyyyyy, what If I'm a pasttime jewelcrafter?!". It makes you think more about your character and what he does when he's not saving the world than you would otherwise (at least for new players). It makes you think a bit "what did I do before all this?".


Actually, it prevents you from thinking, because if you didn't put any skill points in "Profession: Farming," then shut up, you weren't a farmer.

Looking at my 3.5 characters versus my 4e characters, my 4e characters have more extensive backstories than my 3.5. Hands down.
You may make hammers or cookies or bookcases as a profession. I kill stuff and take their money, because they have green skin and fangs and I don't. Wink
Why are there no professions or craft skills in 4e?

Martial Practice - Master Artisan (level 1)
Allows you to make pretty much any mundane item of your desire.

Really, that's all you need to be a "crafter."  There's later practices that let you even forge magic weapons and armor.

Looking at my 3.5 characters versus my 4e characters, my 4e characters have more extensive backstories than my 3.5. Hands down.


      My case would entirely be the reverse.  I wrote up full pages for my 3.5 PCs, but not even a line for most of my 4e.  Of course, I'd say most of the reason is personal whim, not anything to do with the game, but I am busier with 4e mechanics than I was with 3.5.
There is absolutely nothing stopping you from writing a craft or hobby skill down on your character sheet and just talking it over with your DM and saying

"I want my character to do X, because that's part of his background"

It should never really come up in game.

Or, use other skills as substitutes. You're a blacksmith? Use endurance (hard work that!) Dancer? Acrobatics. Jeweler? Thievery (fine manipulation of small parts / gems). And so on.

But, I like the "My character loves to dance, so there." approach.
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We can have skills that detailed - as a standard part of the rules - when we have both of


a) a set of skills that by-definition absolutely cannot be used in combat for any purpose whatsoever, and
b) a set of character-building resources that cannot be spent on anything combat-usable


The problem is to come up with a decent list of skills that cannot be made combat-usable. Knitting, maybe. But gemcutting? The next combat involves a minion-generating machine powered by a small diamond; to stop the machine you could identify the diamond and break it, which of course requires knowledge of what tools will do so and how to use them - a gemcutter.

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I defeated a dragon using "craft play".
Because your current profession is "adventurer"
And any former professions you had is "backstory" 
There is absolutely nothing stopping you from writing a craft or hobby skill down on your character sheet and just talking it over with your DM and saying

"I want my character to do X, because that's part of his background"

It should never really come up in game.

Or, use other skills as substitutes. You're a blacksmith? Use endurance (hard work that!) Dancer? Acrobatics. Jeweler? Thievery (fine manipulation of small parts / gems). And so on.

But, I like the "My character loves to dance, so there." approach.



Pretty much this.

Another way to look at it: Skills, and die rolls in general, should only be used if there is some form of conflict involved.  Just saying 'I'm making a sword' or 'I'm singing a song' involves no conflict or challenge, so there's no reason to roll, so no reason to have a skill for it.
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Why are there no professions or craft skills in 4e?

This hasn't bothered me much, but I remember when I started as a DM I actually gave my group some free Martial Practices just so they had some abilities outside of combat (the fighter and the warlord, mainly). 

Too many times have I had one skill left to train and go "screw it, I'll just take nature" without having a clue why my character knows one herb from the other. It's not that I can't make up a skill of my own, simply use thievery for crafting or just roleplay a hobby. It's that feeling when you have one skill left to train and see "crafting" in your skill list. It makes you go "Heeeyyyyy, what If I'm a pasttime jewelcrafter?!". It makes you think more about your character and what he does when he's not saving the world than you would otherwise (at least for new players). It makes you think a bit "what did I do before all this?". I know the benefits are minescule (but might set up some awesome moment), but I seriously don't see any drawbacks to having a craft and profession skill. Something > nothing, so why where they taken out of the game?

From now on all my characters gain 1 extra trained skill and the ability to choose 1 crafting and 2 profession skills... But it still makes me wonder why they were taken out of the game...

 



Professions are really just pure fluff.  There really is no reason to have them as a mechanical skill choice.  Though also there was an article on the D&D site about Professions...someone may know the article or have the link if you have read it.  I think it was actually a Rule of Three...anyway!  Like I said they are pure fluff.  Being say a jewel crafter isn't really something that'll have much impact on the game.  Not enough to make it worth actually spending time and resources as a mechanical skill.  Not to mention how do you come out with an empty skill slot without anything to use it in?  I mean Insight & Perception are great, Stealth can be handy, thievery sometimes.  And Athletics and Acrobatics are always nice to have, there are plenty of skill choices to take that you really shouldn't be coming up with an empty slot and no options.  Sure to get access to some of those you'd need to take a background probably depending on your class, but still...that stumps me.

But really again they are pure fluff.  It really shouldn't be hard to talk to the DM and maybe if the group has some down time at a city say you are going to sell some jewelry that you've been crafting while camping on your recent quest.  Don't know why a DM would say no, they just need to come up with some amount of money and there ya go.  There's also no reason to give away free Martial Practices to compensate.  Those are meant to be the equivalent of rituals and not just typical professions like a farmer, jewel crafter, or blacksmith even.  But that's your deal.

Like Salla's example, there's no reason that you should have to roll a dice to see if you can forge a sword.  If it's part of your character's background that he worked as a blacksmith then he'd know how to make a sword without any real thought.  Same with singing a song.  I mean say the bard just wants to sing at the inn your group is staying at for maybe your room and meals?  They shouldn't have to roll for it, the bard knows how to sing.

Now if it was the case of say your character has no background in blacksmithing but wants to make just a mundane sword, that'd be different but still bluff.  That'd involve talking to the DM about doing something where you have some down time at a city and he pays a blacksmith to teach him and give him some lessons or whatnot.  Or maybe a fellow player has that kinda background and could do it, something like that.  But it's still pure fluff.  I'm glad they didn't include professions in 4th, one of the best things they did when shrinking the skill list honestly.     

Looking at my 3.5 characters versus my 4e characters, my 4e characters have more extensive backstories than my 3.5. Hands down.



DAS NOT POSSIBLE! Everybody KNOWS dat 4e doesnt all0w roleplay, only 3e does!

/troll. 

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Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

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There was a Rule-of-Three article about this, wasn't there? The answer was something like "we noticed that people rarely used the rules and just wanted to feel like they had a backstory, so we figured that those that wanted to represent having professions could write it on their sheet and forget about it, without the burden of rules."

I think that the professions would be best represented in a mix of martial practices and backgrounds and themes. It's not particularly well-executed in 4th edition, though.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.

Looking at my 3.5 characters versus my 4e characters, my 4e characters have more extensive backstories than my 3.5. Hands down.


      My case would entirely be the reverse.  I wrote up full pages for my 3.5 PCs, but not even a line for most of my 4e.  Of course, I'd say most of the reason is personal whim, not anything to do with the game, but I am busier with 4e mechanics than I was with 3.5.



Many of my 4e characters have a much more extensive background than any I had in 3.5, in part due to LFR's structure as compared with LG. In LG I generally stuck to one character at a time to the greatest degree possible, as that was what the campaign encouraged, and most of my character development was at the table.
In LFR, the campaign early on made it practically mandatory to have a fair number of characters if you played a lot, and as a side effect I ended up playing a family of characters (10 members altogether, though some are NPCs or haven't hit the table yet). When MyRealms came along, some of them were able to play major parts as NPCs as well. As I go I keep expanding the story out in different directions behind the scenes, and then share what makes sense to share through roleplaying both as a DM and player. No one else sees the whole picture, but it's there.
(OTOH I also have additional characters which have very little background. *shrug*)
It's not hard to use the craft & profession 'skills' in 4e without actual mechanics, aside from alchemy (there's a feat for that).

Player: "I wanna make some arrows!"
DM: "Well, you've specifically said the character has been spending his downtime learning the basics of fletching, and there's plenty of basic material around... We'll say you purchased some arrowheads and other materials back in town for 1 gp, and can slap together 30 arrows in a day (or however long it takes to make arrows)."

Player: "While we're relaxing after that last adventure, I try to get a job as a bartender at the tavern."
DM: "Your backstory says you know how to mix drinks due to growing up in a bar, and since you guys cleared out the bandits and the nearby nest of monsters, traffic is bound to pick up...sure. You've got a month before the next event occurs, so you make money to cover living expenses, plus....8 gp."
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
Short Answer: Because they can't be used in combat. 


Long Answer: Profession skills and the like were viewed as a trap or boring activity. A novice player might accidently take a profession opposed to training in something useful for both combats or skill challenges. Professions also didn't mesh well with the new math of the game, which would make the PCs the best blacksmith/ shopkeeper/ dancer in the world after spending a few months in a dungeon.
Spending time on crafting skills and profession skills was also time the PC wouldn't spend adventuring or doing activities viewed as "fun" or core to the game.  

As for the "you can just add it as fluff" answer.... yeah, that's pretty much crap.
You can decided to substitute a Cha or Diplomacy check in place of a Perform check and flavour your bard as a master flautist, but mechanically the Cha-warlock or pally who's never shown any interest in music can pick-up a flute and perform just as well. And there's no reason not to have your character be a blacksmith tanner stonemason who can play a dozen instruments, dance and sing in a tear-inspiring baritone. 
I mean, it works perfectly fine as flavour as long as it has no rules interactions as all. But you will try and find a use for anything and everything written on your character sheet. If the DM lets you write down "once per year you can make fish dance" you will eventually find a constructive way of using it.

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Short Answer: Because they can't be used in combat. 


Long Answer: Profession skills and the like were viewed as a trap or boring activity. A novice player might accidently take a profession opposed to training in something useful for both combats or skill challenges. Professions also didn't mesh well with the new math of the game, which would make the PCs the best blacksmith/ shopkeeper/ dancer in the world after spending a few months in a dungeon.
Spending time on crafting skills and profession skills was also time the PC wouldn't spend adventuring or doing activities viewed as "fun" or core to the game.  

As for the "you can just add it as fluff" answer.... yeah, that's pretty much crap.
You can decided to substitute a Cha or Diplomacy check in place of a Perform check and flavour your bard as a master flautist, but mechanically the Cha-warlock or pally who's never shown any interest in music can pick-up a flute and perform just as well. And there's no reason not to have your character be a blacksmith tanner stonemason who can play a dozen instruments, dance and sing in a tear-inspiring baritone. 
I mean, it works perfectly fine as flavour as long as it has no rules interactions as all. But you will try and find a use for anything and everything written on your character sheet. If the DM lets you write down "once per year you can make fish dance" you will eventually find a constructive way of using it.

Yeah, nonsense.

Any significant activity is at least an encounter, which means a whole series of actions and checks. Nor is it mandatory that all activities can be accomplished by anyone with simply an attribute check or a skill check. You'll have to find the rule that says so if you want to argue otherwise, but don't bother, it doesn't exist...

There is also a perfectly useful mechanism for stating that a character has to have some specific capability to do something, Trained Only. You want to play a flute, Trained Only, too bad.

How do you get training? You have 5 background elements, one of which is 'profession'. That's the only mechanically supported way to know random specific knowledge. Good luck having more than one of those because the background rules forbid that. At best one or two other background elements could imply knowledge of other things, and some classes like bard will clearly acquire some class related knowledge, but even then the player will have to define it. The only aspect that really isn't covered in 4e is how you might learn something new, and even that can be handled with Martial Practices in most interesting cases (and you could simply extend that to all other cases if you really wanted).

So your 'issues' appear to not exist mechanically and are well covered.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Short Answer: Because they can't be used in combat. 


Long Answer: Profession skills and the like were viewed as a trap or boring activity. A novice player might accidently take a profession opposed to training in something useful for both combats or skill challenges. Professions also didn't mesh well with the new math of the game, which would make the PCs the best blacksmith/ shopkeeper/ dancer in the world after spending a few months in a dungeon.
Spending time on crafting skills and profession skills was also time the PC wouldn't spend adventuring or doing activities viewed as "fun" or core to the game.  

As for the "you can just add it as fluff" answer.... yeah, that's pretty much crap.
You can decided to substitute a Cha or Diplomacy check in place of a Perform check and flavour your bard as a master flautist, but mechanically the Cha-warlock or pally who's never shown any interest in music can pick-up a flute and perform just as well. And there's no reason not to have your character be a blacksmith tanner stonemason who can play a dozen instruments, dance and sing in a tear-inspiring baritone. 
I mean, it works perfectly fine as flavour as long as it has no rules interactions as all. But you will try and find a use for anything and everything written on your character sheet. If the DM lets you write down "once per year you can make fish dance" you will eventually find a constructive way of using it.

Yeah, nonsense.

Any significant activity is at least an encounter, which means a whole series of actions and checks. Nor is it mandatory that all activities can be accomplished by anyone with simply an attribute check or a skill check. You'll have to find the rule that says so if you want to argue otherwise, but don't bother, it doesn't exist...

There is also a perfectly useful mechanism for stating that a character has to have some specific capability to do something, Trained Only. You want to play a flute, Trained Only, too bad.

How do you get training? You have 5 background elements, one of which is 'profession'. That's the only mechanically supported way to know random specific knowledge. Good luck having more than one of those because the background rules forbid that. At best one or two other background elements could imply knowledge of other things, and some classes like bard will clearly acquire some class related knowledge, but even then the player will have to define it. The only aspect that really isn't covered in 4e is how you might learn something new, and even that can be handled with Martial Practices in most interesting cases (and you could simply extend that to all other cases if you really wanted).

So your 'issues' appear to not exist mechanically and are well covered.


But adding "training" for crafting or music is adding a mechanic, which means it's more than fluff. There are LOTS of ways to add crafting and professions and secondary skills to 4e.
But just fluff is unsatisfying. That's like saying "you can have this ability, but if you ever try to use it, it won't do anything or will stop working."

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May just be me, but "just fluff" doesn't mean "no game impact whatsoever" - it just means I'm not going to have you roll for it (usually), and that there isn't any game mechanic tied to it.

I mean, familial relationships with NPCs are "just fluff", but that doesn't mean they "don't do anything, or stop working if you ever try to use it."
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...There are LOTS of ways to add crafting and professions and secondary skills to 4e. But just fluff is unsatisfying. That's like saying "you can have this ability, but if you ever try to use it, it won't do anything or will stop working."


I'm not sure what you want to accomplish with Crafts, Perform, or Professions, other than the obvious (very specific knowledge, "You spend time making / fixing something you could have bought," "You spend time playing and earning some cash," or "You work to make a little money in your downtime").
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
...There are LOTS of ways to add crafting and professions and secondary skills to 4e. But just fluff is unsatisfying. That's like saying "you can have this ability, but if you ever try to use it, it won't do anything or will stop working."


I'm not sure what you want to accomplish with Crafts, Perform, or Professions, other than the obvious (very specific knowledge, "You spend time making / fixing something you could have bought," "You spend time playing and earning some cash," or "You work to make a little money in your downtime").


Playing a character that didn't spend their whole life learning exclusively how to kill people and whose only marketable job skill isn't "can kill monsters for money?"
;)

4e PCs are a little like Harry Potter. They spend the last few years of their childhoods in a school for wizards learning how to use magic yet never learning anything beyond elementary school math, language arts, or social. Yes they can make feathers fly and brew potions, but good luck balancing your chequebook. 

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most professions like farmer woodworker and such could be just written as fluf

some could be expanded on to have in game effects.

Smith is one of those, i would love to see a theme where your raised in a famaly that has a long history of crafting arms and armor.
Becouse well face it noble also only just means you where raised in a certain way, and so would one coming from a grat liniage of forge masters.


possible power
when using an expendable item that gives a bonus to a weapon or armor ( for example a whetstone) roll a D20
on a roll of 15 or higer the item is not expanded,



 
...There are LOTS of ways to add crafting and professions and secondary skills to 4e. But just fluff is unsatisfying. That's like saying "you can have this ability, but if you ever try to use it, it won't do anything or will stop working."


I'm not sure what you want to accomplish with Crafts, Perform, or Professions, other than the obvious (very specific knowledge, "You spend time making / fixing something you could have bought," "You spend time playing and earning some cash," or "You work to make a little money in your downtime").


Playing a character that didn't spend their whole life learning exclusively how to kill people and whose only marketable job skill isn't "can kill monsters for money?"
;)

4e PCs are a little like Harry Potter. They spend the last few years of their childhoods in a school for wizards learning how to use magic yet never learning anything beyond elementary school math, language arts, or social. Yes they can make feathers fly and brew potions, but good luck balancing your chequebook. 

So, what you're saying is that all the mechanics in PHB2 (and extended in many other places) simply doesn't exist? OK. Whatever. I'm going to GUESS that pretty much anyone vaguely familiar with 4e is going to have to disagree with that since it is wholly inaccurate. lol.

As far as 'making a living' with your professional knowledge, there's no one specific rule that states hard and fast a check to make to do that. However there is a standard DC chart that covers ANYTHING not specifically covered by another rule. So again it is not really accurate to say that it is not covered. In fact it is covered every bit as well as it was covered in the previous edition of the game, where (wait for it...) you rolled a DC to see if you could make some money! lol.

Seriously, you are going to want to give up on this one man. It just isn't going to fly. There are mechanics as solid as those in most other RPGs for this stuff. You can ignore it if you want, but saying it doesn't exist isn't giving you any real credibility.

@edwin_su Again, there are good solid mechanics, they are just not generally intended to have major effects during combat (there are certainly corner cases possible). For more impact you'd probably want to look at practices and various types of utility power swaps. Nothing does exactly what you're suggesting, but there are in game effects. Personally I'd rather not see the sort of effects you're talking about because they quickly become subject to min/maxing, and then the whole background system changes from being "here's a good way to describe your character in more depth" to "how can game this to get the best results" and you end up with silliness like every single character having "Windrise Ports" and/or "Born Under a Bad Sign" in their background. IMHO I'd rather leave these fairly peripheral sorts of character elements to "RP considerations" that can impact the story in interesting ways, but aren't optimizable.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

Looking at my 3.5 characters versus my 4e characters, my 4e characters have more extensive backstories than my 3.5. Hands down.

DAS NOT POSSIBLE! Everybody KNOWS dat 4e doesnt all0w roleplay, only 3e does!

/troll. 

Breaking  my rule against replying to obvious trolls... Wink

The first D&D character I tried to write a backstory for was in 3.5, and I quickly discovered that I cannot write a one-page backstory for a character.

That remains true in 4E.

At three pages I'm just getting started...

(I have done a short backstory once. ONCE. And it was a take-off on a movie character, basically giving clues to the source and showing the detour out of the movie script. If you don't recognize the source, you may have a hard time understanding the concept.)

(Heck, here it is:
Zelle was quite happy that the rogue - oh dear, what was his name - had helped her escape the tower and inadvertently brought her the crown she was entitled to as well as the knowledge of who her parents were.

However, he really wasn't that great a guy. Or maybe a guy wasn't really what she wanted. She was in love with what they were doing.

And she could see the pieces lining up. Beautiful gnome girl. Nice-looking gnome rogue with his swash firmly buckled. Crown. Magic. Singing. Evil witch foster-mother. King's daughter missing. Various minor villains. She was on track to become a Disney Princess, and have one grand adventure while exchanging confinement in one tower for confinement in another. Granted, the new one would be more spacious and particularly more populated, but still, a tower.

And just one grand adventure - that simply would not do. It was time to take Fate firmly in her hands, bend it over her knee, and give it a sound thrashing.

It took a bit of finagling to get the old witch and the two thugs to discuss their deal and their history just around a corner from a group of guardsmen... but she did it, and those three would be spending the rest of their lives in the King's dungeons.

The rogue, she helped elude pursuit by hiding him aboard a ship. She'd spent some time near the docks earlier and knew just which ship would be leaving that morning on a long voyage.

As she headed off into the woods, crown securely stowed and frying pan in easy reach, she passed under an apple tree. One ripe apple hung near the end of a long branch, far above the ground. A very deliberate flip of her head, and her long hair swung up and wrapped around the apple. A precise jerk and the apple flew into her hand.

Life was so sweet she began to sing, and the wild birds flew to accompany her.

By the by, the King in this backstory later got demoted to Duke in order to fit better with the DM's story and the setting.
)

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
I haven't had any problems with professions in either the game I play in or the game I run.

In the game I play in, my deva invoker is literally 7 years old when he started adventuring (since they're "born" fully-grown and mature), so aside from his natural gifts and character sheet, he didn't have any real skills. However, he eventually obtains a goal to transfer the souls in a story item into new bodies. So, he starts studying golem-crafting for several levels. When he hits paragon, the party splits up for a few years to do their own things (one, already the party foodie, starts a school, two others become politicians, etc). My character perfected his golem-crafting skills enough to build new bodies and frees the souls. In the mean time, he also took up music as a hobby, and now when the adventurers meet again, he now carries a few instruments on him at all times, to make party downtime more pleasant.

In the game I run, the party hails from several worlds, but are all dragged aboard a pirate ship and forced to become crew. Now at level 5, the party is quite skilled at a wide variety of pirating tasks, from how to tie the ropes to how to stack the latest haul of booty.

In neither case did anyone need to write anything on a character sheet.
Fire Blog Control, Change, and Chaos: The Elemental Power Source Elemental Heroes Example Classes Xaosmith Exulter Chaos Bringer Director Elemental Heroes: Looking Back - Class and Story Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Xaosmith (January 16, 2012) Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Harbinger (May 16, 2012) Check out my Elemental Heroes blog series and help me develop four unique elemental classes.
4e PCs are a little like Harry Potter. They spend the last few years of their childhoods in a school for wizards learning how to use magic yet never learning anything beyond elementary school math, language arts, or social. Yes they can make feathers fly and brew potions, but good luck balancing your chequebook. 


Hmm. That old saying "Absence of proof is not proof of absence" might apply here.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
> Playing a character that didn't spend their whole life learning exclusively how
> to kill people and whose only marketable job skill isn't "can kill monsters for
> money?"

And you need codified profession skills for that?

Funny thing is, one of my two active PBPost characters is a Slayer fighter, class-wise - but she's also a noble whose family holdings include extensive winemaking and mining interests. She knows a good deal about the former and while she doesn't spend time in the mines, she does spend a fair amount of time making small puzzles or toys (wood and/or metal, as appropriate). She also regards herself as a merchant-noble first and a warrior when necessary, not the other way around.

This game has no 'codified craft skill' thing going on. It hasn't hindered the characterization or the character's activities in the slightest, and it's not like fashioning and assembling a bead puzzle is something I find myself pining to make skill checks about; these are things just does. (Story-wise it explains the Nature and Thievery training, since those professional skills have broader application... not that she advertises the latter. ;) )

Yep. I also just don't see the point of attaching numbers to this stuff. If PCs want to have a "real" profession (in my setting, there is no class of people called "adventurers," they're all real people who are oddities that left regular life for one reason or another... current campaign, the town they were living in was razed and they are united in revenge and shepherding their fellow refugees), they write it on their background. If they want to be silly and try to gain some kind of obscure advantage from writing how they learned to do everything, well... the kind of person who would do that and not make it awesome is the kind of person who would not fit in at my table very well. They would not stay long.


My own character that I use when I take a break from DMing is an immortal bard who has reincarnated as a woman (for the first time) after being gone for a thousand years. She loves hearing songs about her previous incarnation, because she wrote a lot of them. Yes, she's that self-absorbed. She's a world-famous dancer and musician, but is stuck in a body that most don't recognize as belonging to this famous hero, and she's still in process of regaining her former might. She's still a world-class musician and dancer, but she is unrecognized as such.


As I studied music history at university, I love applying that knowledge to D&D, so there are lots of balls for the PCs to attend, and her dancing skill is just part of Diplomacy checks. No need for a separate dance skill when the plan is to influence somebody... that it's through dance is relatively unimportant.


The player who does the occasional stint as DM to give me a break also has a character who had a real profession; he was a smith. Still is. We don't need dice to resolve how much money he makes as a smith - right now he's too busy adventuring, and when he's not he just gets treasure parcels and it's assumed that the other PCs are helping out in various ways, so they get a share too. Very simple, elegant, and everybody likes it.

Resident jark. Resident Minister of Education and Misinformation.
...and her dancing skill is just part of Diplomacy checks. No need for a separate dance skill when the plan is to influence somebody... that it's through dance is relatively unimportant.



This is precisely how I use these sorts of abilities. A character's skills and attributes colors the way they perform, rather than the performance being its own entirely-seperate ability. Technical skill might fall under a dexterity check, but art is an expression of more than just nimbleness and practice. A passionate, expressive singer whose voice sometimes cracks is going to be pulling off better influence checks than a perfect singer who has no personality whatsoever.
Fire Blog Control, Change, and Chaos: The Elemental Power Source Elemental Heroes Example Classes Xaosmith Exulter Chaos Bringer Director Elemental Heroes: Looking Back - Class and Story Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Xaosmith (January 16, 2012) Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Harbinger (May 16, 2012) Check out my Elemental Heroes blog series and help me develop four unique elemental classes.
there are lots of balls for the PCs to attend, and her dancing skill is just part of Diplomacy checks. No need for a separate dance skill when the plan is to influence somebody... that it's through dance is relatively unimportant.

In D&D dancing would be various combinations of athletics, acrobatics, diplomacy, and bluff, depending on exact context - but usually diplomacy alone is quite sufficient. The others would come into play in such situations as trying to impress high-end professional dancers, pretending to be a specific other person particularly if that other person is a dancer...

It's possible to have a character who is a technically excellent dancer but somehow just cannot attract or hold an audience. I have a character like that. But he has studied how people move, both as a dancer and as a melee fighter. Once things were being arranged for him to pretend to be a specific other person (with that person's consent) and after a few minutes watching that person was able to emulate his manner of moving extremely well (good Acrobatics roll). Which the DM decided would give a situational bonus to subsequent Bluff attempts.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
there are lots of balls for the PCs to attend, and her dancing skill is just part of Diplomacy checks. No need for a separate dance skill when the plan is to influence somebody... that it's through dance is relatively unimportant.

In D&D dancing would be various combinations of athletics, acrobatics, diplomacy, and bluff, depending on exact context - but usually diplomacy alone is quite sufficient. The others would come into play in such situations as trying to impress high-end professional dancers, pretending to be a specific other person particularly if that other person is a dancer...

It's possible to have a character who is a technically excellent dancer but somehow just cannot attract or hold an audience. I have a character like that. But he has studied how people move, both as a dancer and as a melee fighter. Once things were being arranged for him to pretend to be a specific other person (with that person's consent) and after a few minutes watching that person was able to emulate his manner of moving extremely well (good Acrobatics roll). Which the DM decided would give a situational bonus to subsequent Bluff attempts.



Yeah, the last ball that I ran, only the Monk had Diplomacy as a trained skill. His Acrobatics was better, so he opted to try to impress with technical skill rather than artistry. Since I was DMing, the Bard was not present. In fact, thanks to a well-timed 20 coming up, he particularly impressed the host who was an avid dancer and turned the tide on their relations with him.


Historically, a ball featured first the host/hostess dancing for the guests, then the guests dancing in pairs according to rank. In the Renaissance, anyway. Professional dancers-as-performers didn't enter the scene until the Baroque, but before that there were dance masters who taught dance, swordplay and ettiquette. So your example character is close to fitting in to that historical position, with the skill in swordplay and dance. One of these days I'm going to make a theme for a dance master.


I'm not sure about using Athletics, as it's strength based... certain kinds of dance, maybe, if they included lots of leaps and holding aloft a dance partner. But court dance I would say Acrobatics is the better choice (though it could include some athletics stuff, dominant skill would likely be Acrobatics. Feel free to disagree, and if a player really wanted it, I'd probably give in). Since the audience is already watching to see the skill of the newcomer, it stands to reason that a highly technical performance would hold their attention by default, just as a highly artistic (Diplomacy based) performance would. With the peasants, Endurance to keep dancing all night would be a fun option, and you might make a better case for Athletics there as well.

Resident jark. Resident Minister of Education and Misinformation.
May just be me, but "just fluff" doesn't mean "no game impact whatsoever" - it just means I'm not going to have you roll for it (usually), and that there isn't any game mechanic tied to it.

I mean, familial relationships with NPCs are "just fluff", but that doesn't mean they "don't do anything, or stop working if you ever try to use it."



Yeah, my non-charisma-based PC is better at playing the flute than your Chalock because your Chalock has never played the flute before, whareas my PC used to play for the local Baron 'cause I said so...

That's good enough for me. 
In 4e, my Half Orc cook can prepare food and jump. It's amazing. The fact that his cooking did nothing except make everyone around the table laugh and roleplay was... wait... that's not nothing. That's the single most important thing in the game!

I guess the lack of a profession skill is the main reason the character was so enjoyable. I could just say "I cook well" and be done with it, rather then waste already very limited resources on skills and feats just to be able to be a "meh"  cook.
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 find it easy to understand why people who come to 4e are looking for some type of crafting profession - nevermind just what was done in 3rd or previous editions, many modern video games have crafting professions in them - From Final Fantasy with collecting parts to upgrade weapons, most MMORPGs will fully fleshed out crafting professions, to more recent additions like Skyrim with it's Alchemy/Smithing/Enchanting.

Some people are looking for it for quantification of their character backgrounds, others want the mechanic for a way to improve their character.  There's a sense of accomplishment when you slay the dragon with the sword you went out and collected the materials to make the weapon and enchant it with some boon against dragons.

The current 4e system for some people is just too "light" though for that - disenchanting some items and then saying "I make it" doesn't seem to have that *umph* to it - you didn't need to work on skill, you didn't need to research how to make the item, and there was no chance of failure (and failure doesn't have to be 100%)

Granted, I as DM can easily add those missing elements in, but they aren't in the book - so that means it's up to the DM to throw that together..which does leave a bad taste in some player's mouths.

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While professions don't and have never made sense as a component of someone's adventuring portfolio, there's no reason at all why it shouldn't exist as a separate and self-contained mechanic, which would make it optional and modular.  That is the best way to please everyone.  
While professions don't and have never made sense as a component of someone's adventuring portfolio, there's no reason at all why it shouldn't exist as a separate and self-contained mechanic, which would make it optional and modular.  That is the best way to please everyone.  


While I agree that most professions don't make sense as an adventurer, there is a small subset that make sense to only be attempted by professional adventurers -- the "exotic materials gatherer/preparer" professions, such as alchemy, rare skins collector, exotic ore hound, etc.

In these cases, I'd love to see some bolted-on mechanic (read: Dragon article) to address them.  Wouldn't have to be fancy...  Something like:

Trained Only [Skill varies, depenent on exotic material in question]


  • Predict presence of exotic materials within a certain locale (a few mile radius, based on terrain/ecology)

  • Identify exotic materials

  • Extract/synthesize exotic materials worth 1 gp or less with no check

  • Extract/synthesize exotic materials worth more than 1 gp with a skill check (DC dependent on the rarity/value of the item in question)



And then a laundry list of exotic materials and their associated skills, values and rarities.

Returned from hiatus; getting up to speed on 5e rules lawyering.