A question for old schoolers (multiple edition changes)

Setup: So, I started playing D&D towards the tail end of 3.5.  (My first game used Book of 9 Swords).  3.5 -> 4e has been my only edition change.  But I've heard a lot of people didn't like 4e.  They think "It's not D&D anymore."  Now, I know a lot of 4e fans find that a very inflammatory statement.  It definitely pisses me off.  But I'd like to try to get past that for a moment.  What was the big difference?  I mean, we've had edition changes before.  Hell, as I understand it, 3.0 got rid of thac0 and thus completely inverted how you rolled for combat.  Why were all of those big, sweeping edition changes not rejected as "no longer D&D"?  Near as I can tell, here's the big differences between 3.5 and 4e:
- No more Vancian magic.  Your wizard can't run out of spells and be entirely useless.
- Separation of spells into spells and rituals/removal of "I win" buttons.  Ok, I guess that does change how magic users play a lot.  But that's the biggest complaint I heard about 3.5 while 3.5 was the current edition.
- Martial classes get competitive.  I see this in two parts - a high level fighter no longer sucks compared to a wizard, and the fighter gets a bunch of cool moves.  The former seems like a good thing - everyone is useful at every level, as opposed to the fighter having fun at low levels while the wizard sucks and the wizard having fun at high levels while the fighter sucks.  No longer is there a level where only some classes are fun to play.  The latter builds off of weapon fighting styles from the real world and fantasy works, plus it's just a different skin for the old tactical feats.  Just remove the prerequisites for their use and replace it with an assumption of how tiring it is/how easily you can find the appropriate opening/how able you are to get your foe to fall for your trick.
- Saving throws become defenses, changing who rolls - player or DM.  This doesn't seem to me any bigger a difference than thac0 to BAB.  I assume this is no bigger a difference than the changes between any edition.  (I'm counting 3.0 and 3.5 as one edition, and Essentials officially is part of 4e).

Was 3.5 to 4e really a bigger change than any other edition change?  Please, keep your answers civil and avoid inflammatory remarks.  Don't disparage any edition.
If I post my opinion about why 1e/2e were so great, which had nothing to do with mechanics, it will get dissembled on why I am wrong to of liked that edition. The majority of the wizards forum users are the most current edition (for obvious reasons) and all the "guests" you see during prime time are, most likely, all the 1e/2e/3e.

Sorry, I derailed. Hope this post goes well, though. I am interested myself.

 

I just said something and you just read it. Sorry about that.

If you poke around the right places, you can see some 'reviews' of 3e by 2e holdouts.  It's more or less the same as the stuff you see in the 3e/4e edition wars, with minor cosmetic differences.  It made less of an impact with most people, though, because the internet, while still extant, was not yet as widespread and mainstream as it is now.  The 'net tends to be very echo-chambery with rage.

Also, AD&D holdouts didn't really have anyone printing them new shinies, so a lot of them eventually went over to 3e to get new content.  3e holdouts, on the other hand, have the OGL, and a constant stream of new shinies from companies like Paizo, thus removing that potential reason to convert.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
To answer your question; yes, it felt like the change to 4e was much bigger. I also agree with Pashalik_Mons; people are always going to find something to gripe about. I myself, tend to treat the two most recent editions as separate games entirely but mix in ideas from both when I feel it is appropriate for the games I run.

So, I suppose I am going to need to explain myself as to appear civil right?


From my perspective, most of the changes from 2e to the d20 system were about making much of the earlier game system easier to understand. THAC0 was reversed and we were given BAB instead, Saves and AC also started going up instead of down as we gained levels, but in essence all of the old things people liked were still there (they just went up instead of down now). Proficiencies were turned into feats and the skill system but were still defined by other elements in the game like your class and intelligence score. It was still very familiar and still a number of people scorned it for shaking things up; change will do that to people, you'll never make everyone happy.

Wizards still had vancian magic (I swear, this term is like a new buzz word), fighters still swung their weapons, rogues continued to steal all the things, and of course adventurers needed healing. Every class progressed differently and had unique playstyles and tactics. More importantly; in the newer edition, players were given even more choices in how they played their character and how thier characters grew. Within the scope of each game's restrictions (we always banned Book of Nine unless we played a purely Book of Nine game) there was a large sense of freedom where we could do what we wanted as long as it made sense for that particular character within that particular game.

But moving from the d20 system to 4e felt more like a departure from the old ways rather than a new revision of what was working well for a lot of players. Everyone's attacks and defenses progressed at the same rate, every class treated combat in the same general way, everyone had the same number of tricks laying around at any given moment. Skills were simplified and feats were given out like candy, but if you didn't take the right feats you quickly fell behind, and this was built into the game: You were expected to take certain feats to keep up with the encounters at your level. The individual classes might have had a great deal of diversity within them, but it was unsatisfying to even attempt straying from the various paths (multiclassing for example -.- ).

In the end it just felt like 4e was trying to change too much by taking away rather than adding.

This is not to say that I did not take away anything from the newest edition of the game. I loved the idea of using skill challenges (minus the use of only certain skills) in a narrative to get my players interested in the story and information dumps. But other parts became rather clunky, like combat.


Also, regarding Tactical Feats: I rather enjoyed the tactical feats from 3.5 more than the powers system in 4e. They are so much more satisfying to use and reward playstyles rather than guiding you down a specific path, and I would much rather be rewarded than led.

And now it is 2am.. I should go to sleep.
I myself started with the blue box and back than it was fairly simple but the changes werent drastic if memory serves correctly.  Sure elves, halflings and dwarves played out like wizar/fighters, thieves, and fighters so when they seperated that it wasn't a big deal, and alignments only had three Law, Chaos, and Neutral (Sound Familair Elric fans?) and the save categories werent as big.  Advanced was a bit more complex but only gradually so with each book adding to what existed without drastically changing it.

I agree with the other posters, 3.0/3.5 seemed like a breath of fresh air.  The designers breathed new life into the game when WotC got the D&D liscence and the game retained much of its old familiar feel and play style.  Much of the griping and hollering came becuase there were many who didn't feel that their needed to be a new edition.  It had been about ten years between 1st and 2nd and it was too soon to change and that change was a drastic one.  Anohter thing that made many people angry about was WotC's appearant disregard for its fans.  No one is going to begrudge a company for making money.  Everyone needs to eat right?  No, they put out a product that wasn't ready, didn't tell anyone and then suddenly came out with 3.5. "Oh, hey everyone we got it right now."  Then came the splat book explosion of new material regurgiating book titles that belonged to first edition books.  Then before the game can get even half a decade under its belt they change it again.  People felt betrayed with the advent of the new edition.  I was relieved.

Let me explain.  Making characters in 3.5 were too complex in comparison to other editions and running the game and preping the game required too much math (I'm not a math major and anyhting up to algebra I can handble but beyond that it makes me cross-eyed and gives me a head ache.)  Then with all the splat books the game was getting out of hand there were too many choices out there and too many people with books that the DM couldn't get his hands on to ensure game balance.  Lastly I hated the combat rules such as grabble, AOE etc.  These rules were uncessary, just ask anyone whose played in previous editions, would take to long to look up or for people to argue about. So even though third edition was play tested well by the D&D community the other books only got inhouse play testing and balance was creeping off the charts.

Im not exactly why D&D went to a 4th edition but Im pretty sure it had something to do with sales and Bill Slavisick and whatever grand scheme he had for the game.  Why such the departure?  I think they wanted to make a great game and since many of them were MMO player's thought they could pull it off.  I happened to like it it harkens back to the simplicity in some ways that the other editions did, runs smoother and easier to prep for as a DM. And anyone says you can't roleplay in 4e is full of hogwash.  Roleplaying is independent of rule mechanics.  Its up to the players and the DM to do it.  

Now I am looking forward to 5th becuase it would seem that they are making it closer to the game I started.        
Main issues with 4th for me:

*  Battles post-paragon are way too long. You spend a whole evening on one battle, which in turn makes you avoid battles, which in turn leads to players being able to more or less empty their artillery in each fight, which in turn means that the 1-2 fights per game day needs to be even harder to make it a challenge, which in turn leads to those fights being even longer and more dull, which leads to combat being horrible.

 * Randomness is dead. Due to the prolonged fights mentioned above you have too many rolls in each battle which in turn means that dice are unnecessary as the fight will balance out. Compare to putting a quarter in a slot machine. If you put just one quarter in a slot machine you might walk away with a little more money than you started. If you play a slot machine for extensive periods of time you will always end up losing money because that is where it balances out. The players in our group are old enough to do the math in their head and know where the fight will end before it even started.

* Flavor had to pay in the strive for balance. Magic has been converted to pure battle tools. Rituals took its place for utility which means every character is a wizard (and potentially everyone you meet). Why would anyone choose to not pick the ritual feat? Also the rituals are horrible compared to the old spells... they can never be used in the spur of the moment since everything takes too long to cast. Also, magic items had to pay in the same sweep... turning them into a pure bonus source, with a pointless daily/encounter tag-along. The best part? The game is still no more balanced than before, a munchkin character can still take out an entire party of casuals with ease.

 * The table lost focus. Post 4th we have players with their heads down in the cards trying to keep track of the powers to use in his next turn instead of partaking in the group environment of now. Characters got so many weird options that they no longer come natural to use (shift X steps then make a roll. If you flank add Y, then if Z you can also do Q. Remember to add all circumstancial feat and power bonuses.)

* I'm not by any means a simulationist, but when the rogue can throw a dagger on 9 people at once it's too much for me. It makes Xena's chakram look like a flaw of bad design for bouncing.


For my tables, the shift from 2nd to 3rd was much easier than 3rd to 4th. The big difference being that in the switch 2nd to 3rd we mostly saw changes in the rules. With the shift from 3rd to 4th the entire game world needed to change... but most importantly it altered things at the gaming table as well.


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




Main issues with 4th for me:

*  Battles post-paragon are way too long. You spend a whole evening on one battle, which in turn makes you avoid battles, which in turn leads to players being able to more or less empty their artillery in each fight, which in turn means that the 1-2 fights per game day needs to be even harder to make it a challenge, which in turn leads to those fights being even longer and more dull, which leads to combat being horrible.

 * Randomness is dead. Due to the prolonged fights mentioned above you have too many rolls in each battle which in turn means that dice are unnecessary as the fight will balance out. Compare to putting a quarter in a slot machine. If you put just one quarter in a slot machine you might walk away with a little more money than you started. If you play a slot machine for extensive periods of time you will always end up losing money because that is where it balances out. The players in our group are old enough to do the math in their head and know where the fight will end before it even started.

* Flavor had to pay in the strive for balance. Magic has been converted to pure battle tools. Rituals took its place for utility which means every character is a wizard (and potentially everyone you meet). Why would anyone choose to not pick the ritual feat? Also the rituals are horrible compared to the old spells... they can never be used in the spur of the moment since everything takes too long to cast. Also, magic items had to pay in the same sweep... turning them into a pure bonus source, with a pointless daily/encounter tag-along. The best part? The game is still no more balanced than before, a munchkin character can still take out an entire party of casuals with ease.

 * The table lost focus. Post 4th we have players with their heads down in the cards trying to keep track of the powers to use in his next turn instead of partaking in the group environment of now. Characters got so many weird options that they no longer come natural to use (shift X steps then make a roll. If you flank add Y, then if Z you can also do Q. Remember to add all circumstancial feat and power bonuses.)

* I'm not by any means a simulationist, but when the rogue can throw a dagger on 9 people at once it's too much for me. It makes Xena's chakram look like a flaw of bad design for bouncing.


For my tables, the shift from 2nd to 3rd was much easier than 3rd to 4th. The big difference being that in the switch 2nd to 3rd we mostly saw changes in the rules. With the shift from 3rd to 4th the entire game world needed to change... but most importantly it altered things at the gaming table as well.




I agree with some of your points. I also believe the other parts of 4E greatly outvalue these, but I agree that

  1. Combat needs to be faster paced and overall shorter when needed. Of course, I'd hate 5 minutes boss battles, but it's ok to have the possibility to run a 5 minute skirmish.

  2. Conditional stacking bonuses need not exist. Give us consistent and easy to remember math, and make buffs standardized (it's a lot better to have things like Aid: target is Empowered or Heroism: target is Empowered, Exalted, Shielded or such stuff; once you get the jist of it it's easy as hell to apply, just think about how easy it is to use Combat Advantage). 

  3. Movement needs to be streamlined a bit. I think AoOs need to stay as well as consistent valuable movement options to make tactics relevant, but I'd like to see something Zone-based, like the Movement System in my sig, than something you need to focus on for three minutes every turn. Again, solid standardized options are golden.


The rogue throwing a dagger at 9 people is not going to happen when I play (it's rather going to be: he has nine daggers - he's a rogue after all). I hate excessive randomization of results since I plan extensively on knowing the results beforehand. And of course, I have lots more flavor in 4E than I ever did in 3.X. But I agree with the above.
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
I personally enjoyed 2nd, 3rd, 3.5 and now 4th ed most of all. I must add that I did swallow the negative vibe on 4E first off and wrote the system off as a bad idea without even reading the books or trying the game. Thankfully I eventually picked the PHB back up and read it, saw potential and kept reading. It is now my favourite system despite a few negatives.
The strength of D&D for me has always been the ability to deliver character creation that fits with the films\ books but without getting lost in massive complexity (the old Lord of the Rings RPG was very complex). The style of play was more cinematic than realistic, low level characters would fall due to a couple of longsword blows whilst it took a Balrog Demon striking the character several times to fall a high level character. The PC's were something special and above the ordinary even if they started out as a simple farmer turned soldier.

2E had a very basic set of core characters, magic and priest spells were through the vancian system, attacks were using a thing called a Thac0 that depended on the character class (like a reversed version of Basic Attack Bonus now). Proficiencies and Professions were instead of skills. Professions were like the Skills now, they were a broad set of knowledge (a hunter could track, hunt, set traps and recognise natural creatures and plants- like the Nature Skill).
Multiclass was only available to non-humans and were restricted depending on race (half elves got the best deal if I remember right) but a multiclass character had two classes that were lower level than the single class characters.
Dual class was available to humans but was the daftest idea possible. For example a character gets to 10th level in the party as a fighter with a very good attack bonus (+10) and could use heavy armour, if the character became a rogue he instantly forgets how to wear armour (except leather) and now has a pitiful attack bonus (+0). Long and short of it, very few people dual classed.

3E straightened out the Thac0 complexity and made the maths easier to handle, added a huge list of individual skills that generally lost it's usefulness due to a lot of characters having so few skill points(fighters, clerics, paladins) and usually took the same set of skills again and again. An Epic level character who never learned to climb( as per the skill) would struggle to climb a simple tree or low wall making them less than impressive.
Multiclassing could add some very obvious imbalances.
Fighters could perform very few actions (attack, defensive, full attack- possibly power attack or use expertise) but mostly they could perform.... a basic attack.

3.5 was the same as 3E but a few tweaks to fix a few issues.

4E was totally different and for me a very brave move as they could have easily pandered to the D&D community and re-vised 3.5 with a few more adjustments and kept the vancian system and skill points and sold a whole new set of books.
However 4E saw the classes returning to the 2E basis of being very defined for their party role(even more defined by the powers each had). Every class had a variety of techniques, spells, prayers that gave the character very individual abilities though using the same basic mechanic depending on the power.
Skills are more like a school of knowledge rather than a specific skill (Athletics is like decathelete who learns to weight lift, pull, push, swim, jump or Streetwise is the ability to know where certain places\people are found in a town and how to talk to common folk and how common folk think).
The ritual is a brilliant element of the game but could have been better. However this method has given fixed the issue of the question that used to come up, time and time again in 2E and 3E(+3.5)..."Can you cast spell XXXX to get past this problem?" and the response "not today, I've not memorised that spell".
I'm not sure if I really qualify as "old school" since I came in to the hobby right on the tail end of 2nd edition, but I'll throw in my 2 coppers.

As a new player, 2E confused the hell out of me with THAC0 and such. I just had fun telling the DM what I wanted to do and let him worry about what number my roll needed to be and what modifiers it should have.  I had fun, but the games had a very "ignore the man behind the curtain" feel. Only the DM ever really seemed to know what was going on rules-wise and house rules were probably rampant. When 3.0 hit, I finally got a peek behind the DM screen and could understand why things happened why they did. It wasn't a perfect system (as 3.5 quickly demonstrated), but for me it made the game both more complex and yet more easily understood. It wasn't so much that the world had changed, it just had a more powerful, versatile interface. The 3rd Edition (3.5 included) made nearly anything possible and offered so many distinctly different race/class/feat/spell/ect combinations that I was inspire to take up the mantle of DM just to have more opportunities to try them all. Even after all these years of playing, I'm still exploring the unique potential of sub-systems like psionics, incarnum, and ToB. Pathfinder made some further improvements, but the core of the game is still that sense of unlimited possibility. Any character you can think of can be built if you have enough of the books and are willing to take a few liberties with the fluff.

The various class imbalances in 3.5 never really bothered me, but my group usually stayed in the lv 3-11 range as a matter of preference. I can't really say how much of that was a result of the respective class balance at those levels. It might have simply been our fondness for the type of challenges and stories most often told at that point. We were never after epic, world-altering power, we just wanted to keep wandering on to the next threatened town or interesting dungeon. We had our mix of optimizers and casual players and the DM adjusted as needed to occasionally offer each character the spotlight. Some of our most memorable moments were the times when a flavorful but sub-optimal character stepped up and did something decisive. The longer odds against success made these moments all the more dramatic and immersive. 

Then came 4E. I was excited. The pre-release material had a great new art style, I loved the inclusion of dragonborn as a base race, and the powers system sounded like the ToB material that I was just trying at the time. I bought every book that came out, played through Keep on the Shadowfell (both as player and DM), and tried games at a variety of levels. The roleplay was still fun, but some things just felt... off. The "highest of 2 attributes" approach to defenses and "1/2lv +primary stat to attack and damage" approach to offense made my attributes feel interchangible and somewhat irrelevant. Before, being a Str 18 human made the character feel superhuman, a true paragon physical power and the very definition of a melee monster. Yet that same Str 18 character, could still eventually be overcome by a more skilled character, a defining difference between my Str 18 cleric of Kord and my Str 18 Mercenary Fighter. Under 4E it suddenly didn't matter if you were insanely strong or outrageously tough, so long as you were one of the two. Even more strangely, this system actively encouraged you to max one and ignore the other, so that whereas strength and toughness were formerly often porportional to one another, the relationship was now often inversely porportional.  Even more strangely, Str itself became nearly irrelevant to melee combat (depending on class). This kind of thing strains greatly at my suspension of disbelief. Magic is always expected to abide by its own rules, but any new player has a reasonable expectation that a strong man is also tough and hits harder than a weak man. 4E doesn't really offer any explanation as to why this shouldn't be so. It gets worse as you gain levels. A character who fights with a sword constantly should reasonably be expected to hit a moving target more often than a wizard who rarely ever swings his staff, yet again 4E makes this so in direct rejection of all reasonable expectation. 

Then we come to the powers themselves. I am aware that the ToB gets a very mixed reception in the 3.5 crowd. I like it, but I am a fan of wuxia movies and a martial artist myself. Our parties often include a monk and mix in anime inspired material or other eastern influence. The key point to it though is that each class can regain a given manuever with little more than a quick pause for breath. This makes a certain degree of sense. Whether it's fixing your grip and footing or just the notional momentary pause to haul back for a wild haymaker, we instinctively accept this. 4E on the other hand, says that my rogue or fighter absolutely cannot use the same trick twice in the same fight, even if the current opponent wasn't even in the same room when we used it last. I can accept a 1/day effect straining muscles or pulling tendons in such a way that a good night's sleep is necessary to recover, but when the "power" is described as a way of deceiving or tricking the enemy, then it seems like it should be usable again against an enemy who spent that entire turn banished to another plane and couldn't possibly have seen me use it the first time. Then I look at the odd limits on abilities. A sneak attack can be made with a crossbow or thrown dagger, but not with a longbow or thrown axe. Why? There doesn't seem to be any general rule on which [fire] effects can set things actually on fire and which can't. A duskblade can teleport next to an enemy to deliver an attack, but he can't teleport that same distance out of combat to cross a pit.

As for the system itself, yes character creation is less complex and time-intensive. That comes at a cost. 

4E races are stronger and more flavorful than most of their 3.5 versions. Yet the system hamstrings them by its extreme devotion to balance. With so few ways to improve how good a character is at anything, the racial bonuses are vital. The inevitable result is that players just don't ever pick a race that doesn't grant a bonus to their primary stat.

In the classes, system logic again rears its ugly head in contravention to expectation. A cleric can only heal his ally if he first hits his enemy, even if his chosen deity is theoretically peaceful or forgiving of failure. A fighter, the class theoretically devoted to mastery of weapons, cannot be an effective archer. Even more, a man that wields the arcane mysteries of magic, a master of stealth and subtlety, or a die hard brawler all have rather indistinguishable accuracy, damage, and endurance in combat. Despite a plethora of powers unique to each class, the classes themselves are locked inseperably into their defined role and sacrifice much in the way of verisimilitude for the sake of balance and simplicity. There is also little room for character development in the mechanics. Only at level 10 can a character even partially change his path. A fighter overcome with regret cannot sheath his sword and take up the healing arts of a cleric, a ranger cannot pick up the arts of the rogue after several levels of urban adventure, a paladin cannot fall (nor can he turn to the path of the blackguard immediately upon doing so). Great narrative potential and roleplay is shackled by an inflexible and severely limited form of multiclassing.

3.5 players rarely take feats like weapon focus or stealthy. Unless the entire character concept is focused on being the "best at x", small numerical bonuses are simply less interesting than having new capabilities like power attack, rapid shot, or spring attack. 4E feats are comparatively boring. My entire group took multi-class training feats every time because an extra power gave them another option and a little more difference from other members of their class or role.

Skills have always been primarily a function of level, but the emphasis in 4E of "every character should be able to contribute" seems to have taken this to the ultimate extreme. Since every character usually has a relevant skill and they all have essentially the same bonus, any and every skill challenge seems to degenerate into little more than a modified level check. Skill-monkey isn't really a viable party role any more and it puts the emphasis of every character squarely back onto combat.... where everyone is again mostly equal. As one quote puts it, "When everyone is special, nobody really is." 4E offers little scope for a non-combat focused character.

Monsters are different in 4E. This was intended to make things much easier on the DM. In may ways, it succeeded. But again, immersion suffers. It feels like monsters are cheating when an encounter drags on and their abilities keep recharging and mine do not. It strains credulity when some minion with enough AC and accuracy to trade blows with my epic character drops dead instantly from the negligible damage dealt by my spark slippers or a similar effect. Slaughtering hordes of minions gets frustrating. I question how something so pathetically fragile have survived long enough to reach the level of skill necessary to dodge my attacks. Overall, fighting pretty much anything besides standard enemies leaves me with the feeling that either I'm cheating or they are. The triumphant feeling of victory in fair combat on a level playing field is sadly elusive at best.

Even the way players talk at the table is less immersive in 4E. Extreme challenges no longer inspire calls of "Let's go all out", "We need to flank him", or "Watch this, this is really going to hurt him!". Now it's more along the lines of "Hey, move over a square", "Time to pop some dailies", and "@#$%, you missed again and I really needed that healing surge!"

There's more to it, but that pretty much illustrates where I feel 4E stops feeling like D&D and starts feeling like WoW on a tabletop. D&D started as a simulation given narrative and expanded from there. When a player says "I want to try x" the DM may have to creatively apply a similar rule (like considering a swashbuckling swing into the opponent a charging bull rush) or use the +2/-2 circumstance modifier, but the answer was almost always "Ok, roll for it." You thought in terms of the logic of the world and only the DM really had to worry about converting that into system logic. Anything was possible and few things required more than a few levels to work towards if you changed your concept. 4E turns that on its head. Too often do I have to break immersion by telling a player "I know that sounds reasonable, but the rules say that you can't do it." The player now tracks all the modifiers and numbers and it's the DM who struggles to describe the action in a way that makes sense. The character can't really grow organically in response to the narrative anymore.

I can't say 4E "isn't D&D". It still offers you the opportunity to play a hero doing amazing things in a fantasy world. It even makes it easier to enter that world and offers some guarantee that your character is truly set apart from the rest of the masses and capable of changing that world. It sets the characters apart from the NPCs, at the cost of making them feel much more like each other. It allows the characters to arbitrarily ignore the logic of the world, but never lets them forget that they are doing so. From 2nd to 3rd I felt that I had been handed to the tools to create anything and a corresponding responsibility for the worth of my creation. From 3rd to 4th my tools were taken away and I was given little more than a set of drop-down choices in return. Fun can still be had, but it's like having your lego blocks replaced with mega blocks. Not to start a flame war, but my final impression is that 3.5 requires mere "suspension of disbelief", whereas 4E requires that disbelief be "hung by the neck until dead." Maybe 3rd was more unique in that way than I realize, but to me the rules supported the world and that in turn supported the narrative. Because players could apply some semblance of real world expectations and logic to their actions, they showed greater thought and creativity in their solutions and goals. They applied that same logic to try to figure our their enemies and their plots. 4E stripped that away and left the  game feeling more like a puzzle than a simulation, more like one of those "press x now, press b now" cinema scenes than the chance to direct your own movie.

Incidentally, if someone will tell me how to use spoiler blocks I'll gladly condense this rather oversize post of mine. 
Yes it was that big of a change. With each previous edition change you could switch a character over in very little time. It was completely impossible going from 3.x to 4th. This was a biggie.

It completely changed how healing was done.

It changed the set point of drama to wargame at the expense of drama and towards a more wargamey type. As part of this combat became much longer and honestly less fun. Part of this was hp bloat and the removal of quicker options.

Low level characters in 4e were MUCH stronger then low levels in 3.x. High level characters were much weaker in 4th then in 3e. Basically 4th feels like playing levels 5-12 in 3rd. House cats were DANGEROUS to early mages and rogues.

Magic and magic items were fubared beyond any recognition.

A great deal of flavor and fluff was lost.

Now here is the part that really irritates the 4e crowd. 4th was not just an underachiever, it was a complete colossal failure. It did not just not sell well, it LOST them money.

All that being said, it did do some things worthy of note and keeping.
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@Journeyman

Well written and I agree with pretty much everything you say.

 


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




Apart from Vancian magic, the other thing that's obviously been abandoned is hit dice.  The thing that most threw me when I started with 4e was that you no longer have 1dx hp at first level and I had to work out what you did have. 
The use of the same power structure for martial classes and magic-wielding classes is surprising. 
The spell level mechanics are much different - 3rd level spells now fill the third level slot, rather than being between 2nd level spells and 4th level spells.  A lot of spells have been thrown out, or reallocated to different levels, and a lot of those that were kept have turned out to be weaker options for their levels. 
On the subject of throwing out spells, there was a concerted effort to throw out all the spells that had non-combat effects with possible combat utility that required the DM to work out whether the proposed application was fair use or abuse.  Many of them have been folded into rituals, but it's a clear point of difference between 4e and earlier editions.
(There are other things that would shock someone coming from AD&D, but which were introduced in 3e, such as opportunity attacks, action economy in a round, a version of encounter budgets for balancing encounters, stats increasing with level and a points-buy system for statistics.  Although the points buy system has a larger effect in 4e since 4e made an effort to get rid of multiple-attribute dependency at the same time.)

'Vancian magic' as a term has been around for as long as I remember as a way of distinguishing the D&D magic system from other roleplaying games that use power points or other systems.

Hoard: may earn you gp; Horde: may earn you xp.
The emergence of independent or small publisher titles from multi-generational gamers have also helped to push game design theory to heights never before considered. Games like Burning Wheel aren’t just alternative games, they represent games based on critical game theory elements that had been dormant since D&D was first envisioned. This is leading to most games undergoing consideration for not just mechanical revision, but basic theory, purpose, and feeling revision. 4th edition was a product of these to a large degree.



Indeed.  I'd say that 4e is without question the best designed edition of D&D and possibly among the best-designed RPGs ever.

OD&D, AD&D, and BECMI are the results of bricolage - the people designing them really were making things up as they went along.  It's the Golden Age - you don't know what you're doing because there's no such thing as what you're doing until you've done it.  You have no fan expectations.  Every time there's a new problem or somebody has a new idea for a character type or monster they bodged up a new subsystem to cover it.  As a result, it's a mess, but a glorious mess.

2e and 3e seem to me to be the market-driven and fandom-driven editions.  I'm not terribly familiar with 2e, but 3e seems to have no clear vision behind it except update D&D for the 21st century and make it cool again.  With hindsight, it's an awkward halfway house: lots of things have been changed but lots of things have been kept, and the reason for keeping things seems to be more that they're iconic than that there's any sense to them.  With hindsight, 3e is an awkward halfway house between old school editions and 4e.

4e is a game-designer driven edition, rather than market-driven.  Or, it's a fan-edition rather than a fandom-edition.  The designers knew what they enjoyed in roleplaying games (and, yes, that included the tactical miniatures game) and they set about designing a system that did what they enjoyed from earlier editions really well.  Anything that got in the way of that, iconic or not, they jettisoned.  They felt that poking about with 10' poles slowed things down, so they made no attempt to support any game-style in which poking about with 10' poles is important.
Instead of trying to please fandom, which is a confused multi-headed beast whose dominant cry is 'they changed it now it sucks', they set about pleasing themselves.  So it's divisive: if you like what it's trying to do, you'll like it a lot, if you want to do something completely different it doesn't speak to you, and if you're in the 'they changed it now it sucks' camp you'll hate it with a passion.

5e is quite clearly going back to the fandom-driven market-driven model.  Its reason for existence is quite explicitly to try and bring back the people who are now playing Pathfinder and some of the Old School people as well.  But the people who like Old School are playing Old School because it does what they want, and I have no idea what the people who play Pathfinder like except something glossy that isn't 4e, and the people who like 4e like it because it does what they want better than any previous edition.  I'll be happy if I'm proved wrong, but I suspect 5e is going to turn out a cynical trainwreck that pleases nobody except the people who want to dance on 4e's grave.



Hoard: may earn you gp; Horde: may earn you xp.
I honestly think that if 4e had been released under a different name no one would have said "Hey they ripped off D&D."  Maybe some of the names would have given them away but not much else.  Even the power names were different.  I believe part of the reason this happened was the OGL.  They wanted 4e to be unique enough that they could protect it from OGL knockoffs.   3e on the other hand while much more complex character build wise was still clearly D&D.

Here are some things for the 1e/2e era that were big changes.
1.  Rule 0 being strongly emphasized.  This started fading in 2e.  In first edition, in the DMG, you have the rule at the end.  Basically all this stuff we just told you is advice DM.  You make the final decisions.  I liked this when the DM's goal was campaign fun.  In fact it can't be beat in my opinion.  I'm not saying 3e/4e didn't discuss this at all but they were far more diplomatic about it to the point a lot of DMs didn't get the message.

2.  Gritty.  It was ok for "bad" things to happen to PCs in game and there be no way to recover.  A character could get drained two levels and the PC just had to regain them.  In 3e they softened this to the point that it practically disappeared.  I'd bring gritty back but make it a module full of options.

3.  Magic items were special.  Only the DM introduced them.  If you wanted to make one, plan on spending half your career questing for the components.

4.  Slow advancement.  After a 5 year campaign, Gygax himself said the highest level player in his group was twelve I think.  Varied advancement by class.  Some classes (the better ones often except Cleric) advanced slower.  Thieves who were not so good advanced very fast.

5.  A lot of spells and magic items were way over powered.  A DM had to plan what went into his campaign very carefully.  Some combinations could be fatal.

6.  Equipment and planning mattered more.  Traps mattered. 

7.  Most roleplaying was done by the players and not their characters.  Meaning social skills didn't really exist much.  Charisma helped.   This is still a style preferred even to this day by some groups.  I'm on the fence with this as I see good arguments from both sides.

8.  Dragons were wimps.  I loved 3e's Dragon power.   Dragon's should be some of the greatest creatures in the game.

9.  Some monsters were fearsome for reasons beyond their lethality.  Undead, rust monsters, etc..

10.  Healing was still a bit rare.  A cleric had some spells but nobody carried 20 potions of healing on them unless their DM was monty haul.

11.  Wizards were fragile and very easily disrupted.  Toe to toe the wizard was dead.
 
I don't love everything on the list above.  What I do desire though is some return along those paths.  I am a simulationist at heart so you understand my thinking.  






 

My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I honestly think that if 4e had been released under a different name no one would have said "Hey they ripped off D&D." 



Indeed. 4e is a nice RPG, but has really little in common with older editions of D&D.

I agree with the rest of the post, and I'd add that Vancian magic is a critical issue -- it makes playing a spellcaster different than playing a non-spellcaster, and it makes resource management important: in 4e, regardless of your class, you have very few resource that you need to keep track of (surges, dailies). Essentially, you're always near top effectiveness. In AD&D and Classic D&D, your character effectiveness depends on how many spells you've already consumed, as well as which spells you selected.
The selection aspect makes reconnaissance important: you can't just dive into the dungeon (or whatever) without understanding first what spells you'll need. In 4e, you don't care, because your resources are always the same (or have very limited variations -- 4e Wizard Spellbooks allow you to choose between spells that cover the same function, being a controller in combat).
At the opposite, the 4e Fighter (pre-essentials) needs to deal with resource management, which is not the case in AD&D or Classic. So, older editions actually provide more choice in the way you create and manage your character, even though they don't have feats or power choices.

Moreover, 4e brought on changes to the nature of the races and classes which are not in line with the stereotypes common in (pre-3e) D&D: Dwarves should be great Fighters and Elves Fighter/Mages, yet both feature the Cleric class as one of the most effective in 4e (Essentials corrected this, but it was late); Gnomes should be technology-minded types, not PC Brownies; Half-Elves should have traits of both parent races (why Con/Cha?!?).
All those changes, and those to the standard cosmology, also hinder any attempt at porting campaigns -- why should one move to 4e if Fiends are messed up w.r.t. the Planescape cosmology, if that is what I'm playing in?
Moreover, all these little changes contribute to changing the look of the game (and its meta-setting), and making it less recognizable as "D&D".

As to the "Save or Die" and "Fighter competitiveness" issues from the OP, I suppose complaints on the first were by people who then moved to 4e. Complaining people are always more vocal than those who have no specific problem with a given aspect of the game. When the choice is reversed, said people will cease their complaints, but those who liked the original solution will start complaining as well.
For the second, it is a moot point, because AD&D is not really supposed to be played beyond level 12 or so.
It is a bit different with Classic, but then reaching level 36 means playing through almost a hundred adventures, at the progression rates of Classic D&D (3 adventures = 1 level up after level 9 or so), so you'd have to play quite a bit to actually reach a threshold where Wizards become clearly unbalanced.

Finally, even though one might complain about balance, players who still play older editions (I'm a BECMI/RC and AD&D 2e player) do not want to sacrifice the elements mentioned in the quoted post and hereabove just to obtain balance.

GP

I think the fundamental change between 3rd edition and 4th edition is the flavor.


As I already mentioned more than once in multiple threads, 1/3 of the PHB is “missing” in 4th edition. D&D’s 150 pages of spells are no longer there! That alone is enough makes the game feel very different. We’re not stupid; we did notice it was missing.


And you also have the details. I don’t even know where to start. Unbelievable mechanics (and I didn’t use realistic), magic item malls, the importance of the combat grid and minis, multiple “colors” of monsters (reuse the same miniatures?), starting as hero and not a wimp, a whole new cosmology, a new default game setting, the utter destruction of the Forgotten Realms…


The mechanics, the removal of Thac0, spell DC, reworking saving throws and attack rolls… All of that is really not that important. It’s pretty much always d20 to determine success or not.


I’m really sorry if this upsets you, but to me, D&D 4th feels more like a new version of D&D minis with an extra short chapter on skills to handle out-of-combat situations.

I've played D&D since the '70s and have played pretty much every edition out there. What I see with newer editions is that player options have exploded over the years. More options is grat in a computer game, but in a face-to-face game I think it diminishes the game.

1. It's harder for the DM to run monsters and NPCs.

2. Characters tend to blend together; classes are less special with the addition of skills and feats and cool actions.

Not being the "same D&D" doesn't make it not D&D. If the designers got rid of classes altogether, shifted 3d6 stats to percentile dice rolls, or similar changes than maybe it would be RuneQuest instead of D&D, but the edition changes themselves aren't enough to make the new game "not D&D."

It's just not the same style of play that I like. As a GM I hate the added details in the new game. As a player I love them.

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

I have never posted here, but have been looking at the D&D next stuff, and looking at posts.  I have played D&D since the late 70's all version including the boxed sets.  I did not pick up 4th edition, I have read the books on and off, and I have seen it play, I have no interest in the game.  I currently play 3.5/Pathfinder and GURPS mostly.

I am one of the silent majority on the D&D subject and specifically some of the issues us "old timers" have with 4th edition.  If 4th Edition was not D&D, that might change some things about it.  It is not a bad system for what it is a system.  It is overall clean, simple, and balanced.  It has some interesting features to it.  But it is not D&D.  D&D was never clean, simple, and balances and that was the beauty of it for geeks like me.

I play with a several groups all in my age 37+.  None of us  play 4th edition.  None of us play 1st or 2nd edition either.  This whole "Edition Wars" thing is a bit of a misnomer.  The war is not between the 4 editions it is between 3rd and 4th.  4th took the soul of D&D.  Yes that is a bit of a cop out but that is exactly what happened.  Comparing 4th edition to 3rd is like comparing the Pixies to the Ok Go (I am assuming most of you would know what I refering too here and not have to explain this metaphor).

When I see 4th edition I see the Fanatasy Flight Descent Game.  I see a rules system developed to work in board games, MMO's, video games, etc.  I don't see D&D.  And that is not bad, Descent is a lot of fun.  But Descent is not D&D.  WoW is not D&D, The Elder Scrolls are not D&D.  The game has become "How many orcs can I kill today" and not "Crap how am I going to live through this one"  The game has become "I wonder how many of x I can wipe out with this power" and not "I wonder if I can influence this local lord to tell me where the MacGuffin is".  I don't want to sit around a table with 5 friends and figure out if our fellowship is built right to win the raid.  I like the threat of death and losing a character that is part you in the game.  And D&D has lost that.

Yes the older rules system has issues, so does Pathfinder, GURPs, Call of Cthluhu, MERP, Palladium, but that is part of the charm of these games.  Myself and my peers, that is what keeps us from playing 4th edition.
 
The game has become "How many orcs can I kill today" and not "Crap how am I going to live through this one"
 



^
||

This!

Just returned from a PF game... my wizard was surrounded by ogres that could each kill me in one round with a bad roll, and our whole party got stuck in black tentacles. I haven't felt so alive in ages.

The group only survived because of a great group effort. Every round required a wise decision to survive one more round.

This is what I play for... These battles are what I need in 5th. I would much rather have lost my character today, than have missed this experience.

As the wise Kurgan once said...

- "It is better to burn out than to fade away.!"

(Yes, as a roleplayer I will always attribute that quote to the Kurgan :D ) 


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




A few people mentioned the other games/systems, but no one has talked about all of the "home-brewing" of D&D.  The Homebrewing was to fix perceived flaws that different people saw in each version game. 

The two things I saw most often rebrewed were spellcasting and armor class, but I've seen almost everything changed in one way or another over the years.

I admit to being a story-teller rather than a simulationist.  So the game system only matters to me as long as it doesn't get in the way of telling an interesting story for players with interesting characters.

After 35+ years of playing, until 4e, i've never played a "pure" D&D game.  Ever.  Even the first one in the three-book set wasn't pure.

Some of those homebrews turned into RPGs on their own right, some were very successful.

My observation has been that, largely, if you liked martial classes in previous editions, you liked 4e, and if you liked spellcasters in previous editions, you hated 4e.  Spellcasters went from being the king of the hill to actually having to play the same game as the rest of the party.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
My observation has been that, largely, if you liked martial classes in previous editions, you liked 4e, and if you liked spellcasters in previous editions, you hated 4e.  Spellcasters went from being the king of the hill to actually having to play the same game as the rest of the party.



I couldn't say... For my tables I don't think it has had any impact. We are mixed in terms of what we play, and 3.5/PF is more popular all over.

My main character is my dwarven fighter who has tagged along since I started playing AD&D. I prefer playing a fighter in older editions though. I have more fun using the fewer attacks options, but letting my imagination be more free, than using the rigid power system. Also monsters fall much faster in the older systems which I also find more enjoyable. Finally I enjoy the utility granted by magical items better in the earlier editions.

Most importantly though I think is that I enjoy the dangers of the former editions that gets my pulse going.

I don't think I have lost a single character in 4th yet, whereas my binder for earlier editions are crowded with R.I.P.s.... I still remember each of those deaths though, even though I lost the characters up to decades ago. Without the constant fear of dying, battles are no more interesting than a Steven Seagal movie, and then no form of awesome powers will ever be able to save it, no matter which class I play.



The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




My observation has been that, largely, if you liked martial classes in previous editions, you liked 4e, and if you liked spellcasters in previous editions, you hated 4e.  Spellcasters went from being the king of the hill to actually having to play the same game as the rest of the party.



I couldn't say... For my tables I don't think it has had any impact. We are mixed in terms of what we play, and 3.5/PF is more popular all over.

My main character is my dwarven fighter who has tagged along since I started playing AD&D. I prefer playing a fighter in older editions though. I have more fun using the fewer attacks options, but letting my imagination be more free, than using the rigid power system. Also monsters fall much faster in the older systems which I also find more enjoyable. Finally I enjoy the utility granted by magical items better in the earlier editions.

Most importantly though I think is that I enjoy the dangers of the former editions that gets my pulse going.

I don't think I have lost a single character in 4th yet, whereas my binder for earlier editions are crowded with R.I.P.s.... I still remember each of those deaths though, even though I lost the characters up to decades ago. Without the constant fear of dying, battles are no more interesting than a Steven Seagal movie, and then no form of awesome powers will ever be able to save it, no matter which class I play.




On the other hand, i would rather have a character I can expect to last a while, so I can explore his personality and roleplaying aspects.  If the character can drop at a moment's notice, I'm not going to bother writing up a background or giving him an interesting personality or motivations ... he'll never live long enough to do anything with them.

Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I really enjoy that work though... So I don't mind doing it often. 

Also I find it refreshing to see what characters work for me or not. There's always a new character to create.



The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




I have to second this. Enough new books come out with new classes, races, and other options that my "To Play" list grows far faster than my characters can possibly die (even given my legendary bad luck at the gaming table). I still give each of them in-depth characterization and a solid backstory. After all, game night usually only comes around once a week and I have all the rest of that time to read and reread my books and dream of the adventures that might be. A good character is remembered well after his death, so bringing in a new character can actually increase my narrative options as the "new guy" must not only relate to the rest of the party, but also the memory and expections of the character he replaces. Like Butcha says, It's something I really enjoy.
My observation has been that, largely, if you liked martial classes in previous editions, you liked 4e, and if you liked spellcasters in previous editions, you hated 4e.  Spellcasters went from being the king of the hill to actually having to play the same game as the rest of the party.


Although I personally play some 4th edition on the VT, my home group shows the opposite trend entirely.  They tend to play martial characters exclusively and didn't care for 4th edition at all.  That's why I had to switch my home game to a pathfinder setting.
My observation has been that, largely, if you liked martial classes in previous editions, you liked 4e, and if you liked spellcasters in previous editions, you hated 4e.  Spellcasters went from being the king of the hill to actually having to play the same game as the rest of the party.



I couldn't say... For my tables I don't think it has had any impact. We are mixed in terms of what we play, and 3.5/PF is more popular all over.

My main character is my dwarven fighter who has tagged along since I started playing AD&D. I prefer playing a fighter in older editions though. I have more fun using the fewer attacks options, but letting my imagination be more free, than using the rigid power system. Also monsters fall much faster in the older systems which I also find more enjoyable. Finally I enjoy the utility granted by magical items better in the earlier editions.

Most importantly though I think is that I enjoy the dangers of the former editions that gets my pulse going.

I don't think I have lost a single character in 4th yet, whereas my binder for earlier editions are crowded with R.I.P.s.... I still remember each of those deaths though, even though I lost the characters up to decades ago. Without the constant fear of dying, battles are no more interesting than a Steven Seagal movie, and then no form of awesome powers will ever be able to save it, no matter which class I play.




On the other hand, i would rather have a character I can expect to last a while, so I can explore his personality and roleplaying aspects.  If the character can drop at a moment's notice, I'm not going to bother writing up a background or giving him an interesting personality or motivations ... he'll never live long enough to do anything with them.




Maybe that's the real difference between 4e fans and 3.5/earlier fans.  Me, I went with 4e.  But I also take time to "warm up."  I need to grow into a character.  It's the ones I've been playing for a while that start developing a real personality.  Before then, I feel like I'm struggling to roleplay.  So 4e, with its difficulty of character death, is better suited for me.  And I just wanted to point out two other things:
1)  Death in 4e is far from impossible.  Sure, my DM was a bit deadlier than most, but just about every game we had someone making saving throws against death.  Actual death, no.  But we always felt in danger of getting it.
2)  Regarding an earlier comment about "4e failing."  I feel that overlooks a big factor: the Compendium.  I'm a 4e player, but I didn't buy many 4e books.  With just a yearly fee for DDI subscription, I got all the crunch.  In the short term, that was awesome.  But it was a major disincentive to buy.
I've done D&D on and off for 27 years now, playing all but 3.0. I found the transition from 2nd to 3.5 the most striking. To me, 4E is mechanically the best, but it came at a cost.

First, such emphasis was put on balance that it resulted in a system where the differences between the individual classes have blurred. A fellow gamer in my group about the invoker: "They could have done the same thing with a wizard." I love the invoker, but he was right.

Second, the fluff:crunch ratio was wrong. If 'crunch' is the (back)bone of a system, 'fluff' is its flesh. And what little fluff there was, it was not the one I wanted to see. Nerath? Bael Turath? No thanks. Now, what do you have to say about all these monsters in the MM?

What are the real D&D problems? Internet forums where we all get to express our displeasure at x, y & z. The 3.0-to-3.5 fiasco still in memory. And too much competition from other hobbies undermining the player base and TSR/WofC/Hasbro's profits (cf. Rich Burlew's Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales). And then life catching up with us older gamers.
I agree that the fear of dying is part of the tension that draws players to the game (at least the players ive gamed with) My group and I finally roundfiled our 4e campaign after nearly two years due to combat encounters taking the ENTIRE gaming session to resolve....and the PCs still couldnt die. Traps were pretty much "walk through them, take the damage and use 1 of your 11 healing surges" I always thought D&D was neat in that the "backstory" was what your character was doing back at level one assuming he survived. D&D used to be hardcore. Videogames with endless savepoints and reloads have conditioned folks to feel entitled to not die. Part of the exhiliration of D&D is surviving. Part of the fun is having a PC die now and again.

I hope 5e has a decade-long lifespan.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
I agree that the fear of dying is part of the tension that draws players to the game (at least the players ive gamed with) My group and I finally roundfiled our 4e campaign after nearly two years due to combat encounters taking the ENTIRE gaming session to resolve....and the PCs still couldnt die. Traps were pretty much "walk through them, take the damage and use 1 of your 11 healing surges" I always thought D&D was neat in that the "backstory" was what your character was doing back at level one assuming he survived. D&D used to be hardcore. Videogames with endless savepoints and reloads have conditioned folks to feel entitled to not die. Part of the exhiliration of D&D is surviving. Part of the fun is having a PC die now and again. I hope 5e has a decade-long lifespan.



I hope 5e has a long lifespan too. 

But I also hope it is not, by default, "hardcore".  For me, dying is the one really not fun thing in any game.  Some people like Demon's Souls (it's a hardcore, Nintendo-hard videogame), while I will always prefer more modern Final Fantasy level difficulty. 

If 5th edition plans on giving everyone what they want, you'll get hardcore, and I'll have my easier and more fun (for me).  If it can't even do that basic thing though, I hope it dies quietly.
"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]
Maybe it's just me, but in every heroic action/adventure story I've ever looked at, main character (aka PC death) is a very rare event, if it happens at ALL.  And when it does happen, it's not a 'whoops', it's a big event with drama, emotion and most of all, meaning.

If the PCs die too often, you lose that.  Death becomes just another thing that happens, bring in a new character (probably not too different from the last one), move on.  Or perhaps worse, an easy resurrection spell and you're back, no fuss no muss no waxy yellow buildup.

The fun, for me, is in exploring a character and the world.  Hard to do that when he's dead.  I'd be happy if the rules for death in D&D were 'only if the DM and the player both decide it happens'.  It seems lots of people forget that there are ways to fail other than dying and those ways are better because you can go at them again and overcome them with the lessons you've learned and information gained rather than coming to a total standstill because everybody got wiped out.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
i liked AD&D because after enough books and blending of editions, you really could do almost anything, including a lot of the things that 3.0/3.5 took credit for. Basically, it didn't seem broken so it didn't need fixing. Since our players found a way to break virtually every character class, we concluded all classes were relatively equal. When switching into 4th edition, I felt a great gap in "utility" and diversity and specialization. After playtesting it years ago at I-Con in Stonybrook, NY, I later investigated 4e from the perspective of "assuming I want to do X, and can be any class and any level, what class/level do I have to be to do it?". Sadly, there were many things that were completely impossible - the spell structures read more like magic cards and in some cases, lacked depth where non combat utility could have led to interesting story arcs. The spells with the most diversity had been reduced drastically or completely eliminated.

Most Breath weapons were much milder in effect and that changed people's strategies and fear of dragons. The hit point divergence changed the way first and 20+ level characters worked, particularly with 1000+ hp monsters now taking many more rounds to whittle down, yet the climactic aspect of battle is greatly reduced and almost logistical with super hp monsters. I felt like it was like fighting one of those super bosses in MMOs that people set their controllers to auto and then go to Taco bell while the controller repeats the same actions over and over. Compressing multiple attacks into single attacks reminded me of the way White Wolf handled automatic weapons and none of my players liked that multi attack system, or this one.
Options are Liberating
Maybe it's just me, but in every heroic action/adventure story I've ever looked at, main character (aka PC death) is a very rare event, if it happens at ALL.  And when it does happen, it's not a 'whoops', it's a big event with drama, emotion and most of all, meaning.

If the PCs die too often, you lose that.  Death becomes just another thing that happens, bring in a new character (probably not too different from the last one), move on.  Or perhaps worse, an easy resurrection spell and you're back, no fuss no muss no waxy yellow buildup.

The fun, for me, is in exploring a character and the world.  Hard to do that when he's dead.  I'd be happy if the rules for death in D&D were 'only if the DM and the player both decide it happens'.  It seems lots of people forget that there are ways to fail other than dying and those ways are better because you can go at them again and overcome them with the lessons you've learned and information gained rather than coming to a total standstill because everybody got wiped out.



Heh, you should go read george r.r. martin. He kills the pcs all the time. Also they are VERY good literature, much better then lotr for instance. Dresden just got done in as well :p

Now I tend to be a little merciful but if you are going to jump of a cliff I am going to let you and make it as entertaining as possible. I do not try and kill pcs but I make a world were acting criminaly stupid can indeed get you dead. 15 years later people still refrence the polish diving team with grins and chuckles. Don't try and cast polymorph into a bird after jumping over the clliff. Especially do not roll a critical fumble after saying you are going to do it. Then when you see the first character go splat do not say watch this, this is how you really do it and do the same thing then roll another critical fumble. 2 characters in one day, the rest of the group laughed for weeks.
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The game has become "How many orcs can I kill today" and not "Crap how am I going to live through this one"
 



^
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This!

Just returned from a PF game... my wizard was surrounded by ogres that could each kill me in one round with a bad roll, and our whole party got stuck in black tentacles. I haven't felt so alive in ages.

The group only survived because of a great group effort. Every round required a wise decision to survive one more round.

This is what I play for... These battles are what I need in 5th. I would much rather have lost my character today, than have missed this experience.

As the wise Kurgan once said...

- "It is better to burn out than to fade away.!"

(Yes, as a roleplayer I will always attribute that quote to the Kurgan :D ) 



I too can take one battle and describe bad rolls to use for example what I am saying is that 4th is more like a video game, death is much more uncommon, fear of death is much more uncommon because of certain video game style power which can quickly prevent death (I am not completely against class powers). 

...Now here is the part that really irritates the 4e crowd. 4th was not just an underachiever, it was a complete colossal failure. It did not just not sell well, it LOST them money.
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I don't believe there's public evidence 4e lost WotC money. Even assuming WotC lost money over the last few years it would be very difficult to show that they would have lost less money had they not released 4e and continued releasing 3e products. It's very easily possible that any loss of money stemmed not from 4e but from other factors such as a hugely overall declining interest in tabletop RPGs and/or behind the scenes business decisions that went badly. It could also easily be that WotC would have lost even MORE money had they not released 4e.

Personally I don't have numbers either way. I'm simply saying that it's somewhat presumptive to say that 4e was a failure because WotC lost money. It's definitely possible 4e was a success but the general climate and other business decisions and costs caused the loss.

I too can take one battle and describe bad rolls to use for example what I am saying is that 4th is more like a video game, death is much more uncommon, fear of death is much more uncommon because of certain video game style power which can quickly prevent death (I am not completely against class powers). 





I always shake my head and laugh when I see comments about how characters don't die in 4e. The groups I'm in have had more 4e character deaths overall than we ever did in 3e. Same DMs, mostly the same players, same campaign setting, but we've had two or three times as many characters die. Myself I died I think once in all the time we played 3e but I've lost about six characters in 4e (once from a coup de gras, some other times from three strikes, and a couple of times from taking damage while unconcious.)

I know that this claim about 4e being less lethal floats around, but honestly in the 4e groups I've been in since it came out that claim is totally untrue. If anything 4e has been more lethal, not less.
Without passing judgement:

For me, the big shift in 4e was the adoption of MMORPG design elements. 1e, 2e, 3e clerics could be anything from a raging incarnation of battle to a mild scholarly pacifist. In 4e, the classes got MMO-style labels:  "striker (DPS)," "leader (healer)," and so forth.

The reason MMOs resorted to this classification is because they DON'T have DMs and therefore needed a way to ensure that a set number of intelligent, reactive PCs would have a challenging battle against a programmed, drone-like NPC.  Also, they have audiences of thousands or millions, and not one of those people wants to feel that his or her choice is less capable in any situation than the other's.  To lock that down requires tight control over class roles and powers.

A live DM can adapt to a variety of characters and give the player whose character isn't a fighting powerhouse a chance to shine, or really challenge a party consisting of min/maxers, even if both are playing the same pre-written module.

Obviously the 'power' schema either reminded/reminds many of icon power buttons in MMOs or MtG cards, especially if your players bought the power card sets and turn them sideways upon use

The other big shift IMO was the idea of "healing surges" which, again, felt MMO-inspired. PCs are remarkably hard to kill; this is very friendly to people used to the CRPG world of die, reload or just appear at a home location.  Once accustomed to the game, or for vets, it's a bit soft and forgiving.  

For instance, compare the original Tomb of Horrors to the 4e rewrite.  1e:  "You touch the black globe?  OK.  Fred vanishes (reaches over and takes Fred's character sheet, crumples it and tosses it over his shoulder, then turns to the next player) ... and what do you do?"  4e: "The globe makes a +17 roll against your fortitude and does 3d6+6 damage and stuns you; everyone else can now work to pull you out."  

Typical 1e poison:  save, or die.  4e poison: 5 ongoing (save ends).  OK, maybe "save or die" is a harsh world, but "whoops, I've been poisoned, someone heal me unless I roll 10 or higher next turn" is definitely too fluffy.

Let's just say that although when I run LFR those things are as written, I would never run a home game where a Sphere of Annihilation merely beats its target up a bit.

There's a few other bits of stuff that broke the flavor of D&D:  magic missiles (albeit revised back to a more traditional form), lycanthropy, skill challenges (for a while people seemed to think of them as ROLLplaying; I don't let my players get away with it).  

Now lots of the innovations in 4e are good (does anyone want to return to 1e psionics rules?), and I continue to run LFR monthly, but the question was about how 4e got people calling it not-D&D, so that's my 2cp.

 

I don't believe there's public evidence 4e lost WotC money.



Last time I checked, they never made any sales figure public.

 
Even assuming WotC lost money over the last few years it would be very difficult to show that they would have lost less money had they not released 4e and continued releasing 3e products. It's very easily possible that any loss of money stemmed not from 4e but from other factors such as a hugely overall declining interest in tabletop RPGs and/or behind the scenes business decisions that went badly. It could also easily be that WotC would have lost even MORE money had they not released 4e.



Try a google search. The keyword you're looking for is Pathfinder. It's the best selling RPG in 2011 if I'm not mistaken. It's basically D&D 3.5 with a little cosmetic upgrade.
I for one like the pc's to be in fear for their lives, IMO it prompts the players to have more realistic reactions to the situations they face.  That was one of the little enhancements I liked most (eventually :P) about 3e, the fact that most of the time a character brought back is going to be behind a level.  It's not always a deal breaker, but it gives the players that little extra incentive to plan more carfully, know their limitations, and run away every once in a while.

Aside from the obvious insult of being expected to be willing and able to up and relearn and reaquire game rules that I didn't have much of a problem with to begin with..What hasn't thrilled me about 4e that I absolutedly though was going in the right direction with 3e combared to 2nd, was the veresatility and flexibility of the creation rules.  Players and DMs are empowered to create items, feats, traps, classes, monsters, and on and on and on.  Character creation is extremely versitle.  I like the alignment axis and skill progression, it's been my experience that they both guide players in personifying their characters, and giving them confidnece to interact with the game world outside of combat.  

For me as a player and DM character creation is very important, but I don't care if my character is a rockstar.  I just want him to be fun and interesting.  Here is an example of something that I can do easily with 3e rules, that has proved frustrating (though I'm not experienced enough to say impossible) with 4e:  I read somewhere on the forums, players interested in creating a Harry Dresden (it's faster if you look him up) type magic user.   In 3e that's pretty easy.  I would probably go sorcerer/wizard with heavy emphasis on item creation.  Harry has limited spontanious casting ability and apparent spells known for him to have that many levels of sorcerer and I havn't quite nailed down his ECL but maybe...Sor2/Wiz5 for the early books. But then I might even go so far as to make him full wiz, but alter the class slightly to parallel the cleric, alowing prepared spells to be chucked in favor of a force blast and/or will save boost, to give you that hollywood, use all of my magic energy to resist/fight the big bad sort of effect.  Because if you read the books (and the tv show alludes to it) he really does wizard type spell preparation most of the time, and then essentially uses focus in a manner similar to how a D&D wizard would use components and once the spell is burnt it's burnt.  If you want to go to expanded rules, you could run him as a warlock and treat his apparent prepared spells as created consumable items.  

And don't get me started on tempaltes and my monsters combine that with rules for advancement and awakening and I can, with a few modifications, create unique creatures/villains for my players that range from frightening to absurd, in such a way that I still have a very clear of it's comparative power level.  I can't stress how important this is when dealing with experienced players who have, most of them, run games themselves for several years. 

Uh... yeah, my point isn't that none of this is possible in 4e, but that 3e made it all so easy, even things like substituting class abilities is pretty straight forward.  Did I make my point? I forget...

For instance, compare the original Tomb of Horrors to the 4e rewrite.  1e:  "You touch the black globe?  OK.  Fred vanishes...
 




Made me laugh... This is one of the party wipes I've ever had. We investigated the globe and realized that things that what went into it didn't come out the other side. Thinking it was a teleporter we did not want to end up in different places, so we all held hands and said:

"Everybody touch it at the same time.... 1.... 2.... Threeeee!!!!"

Then everyone was face to face with death. Due to an earlier skirmish with him we had a favour to cash in with him and he let us go... One of our party members had already called in his favour so he was kept... :D 


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




haha brilliant!
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