Some things from 4e on the DM side that I'd like to see kept

When my friends and I who play 4e have talked about the game we all seem to agree on one thing: 4e did some really positive things on the DM side. A lot of threads here seem to focus mainly on player-side aspects of the game like character creation, the AEDU system versus spell slots, what characters can do in combat, etc.  So I figured I'd post a few things that I'd like to see from the perspective of the other side of the DM screen that I'd like to see kept or translated over from 4e to 5e:


- Easy monster customization. Personally I don't modify monsters as much as my main co-DM friend does, but we both agree that customizing monsters is WAY easier in 4e than other editions. He used to customize things in AD&D and 3e all the time and it took him much longer to do and required a lot more ad hoc tweaking to work. On top of that the DDi monster customization tool for 4e has been invaluable to him.  Hopefully the 5e DMG will continue to have a straightforward method for creating and customizing monsters and will keep a monster custimization tool in its online set.

- We also like the "plug and play" encounter design system of 4e where you can just pick monsters of the appropriate level, plop them in the encounter, and you've got (in theory) a reasonably balanced encounter. That simplicity is definitely an improvement over the more complicated scaling tables and systems in AD&D and 3e.

- Unique monster abilities in 4e are also a plus. It's fun that every monster has its own unique abilities, as opposed to older editions where a lot of monsters were only differentiated by their hit points and damage.

- I like the treasure parcel system in 4e. It's a very easy system to use and helps fashion reasonably paced out loot for a campaign in a streamlined fashion. Whatever 5e does with magic items and money I'm hoping they keep something similar to the treasure parcel in the DMG.

- Lastly the DDi tools for 4e are great. All the people I know who have DM'd 4e have made heavy use of the Compendium and Character Builder, and as I mentioned above my long-time co-DM friend makes heavy use of the monster builder too. I've got to imagine that a lot of the money they get for online subscriptions is primarily because of those particular tools; they'd be crazy not to have similar online tools for 5e.


Lest you believe I think 4e is perfect, there's at least one thing 4e doesn't do on the DM side that I'd like to see: an online tool for random item generation and random monster selection based on filtered criteria. If I was to make one suggestion for the Compendium it would be to add in an "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that you can click and it gives you a random Compendium entry that fits the selected search criteria. That one button would allow you to peruse random items and random monsters while brainstorming for encounters or if you're just looking to add something random into an adventure. I know there's a third party website or two out there with something similar, but having the button in the Compendium would allow you to immeditately see the full Compendium entry and to peruse the Compendium for follow-up information as needed. 


Anyway just giving kudos to a few things on the 4e DM side my friends and I really liked. Hopefully the above items will be translated over in some appropriate form to 5e.  

I agree with most of what you say monster wise.  I do think 4e shines most in the DM area.   I do want back some of the cool effects from earlier editions but I'd be fine if the systematization of it is 4e style.   I think the method used to build a group of monsters for a combat is the best so far.  I doubt they drop it.  All factions seem to like it.  I would like them to include even more plain spoken guidelines for monster building.  I never used the monster builder though so maybe it does a lot.

I'm really anti-treasure parcel but I'm also against wealth at level which is 3e's attempt.  I am very down on the idea that magic items should be extra and not required.   They should be introduced into the game by the DM.  Now as DM if I know a player really wants and item and it's appropriate there is nothing wrong with creating an adventure and putting that item in.   Or allow the player to complete some quest to gather materials to create the item.   I don't mind if item creation is something you do once or twice in your career.   Not ten times every level.

I'm for the DDi tools.  The better they are the more they will get used.  I mostly used the monster lookup and I cut and pasted a picture of the stat block to an excel sheet for each room in the dungeon.  Then I just flipped to the appropriate tab when a group entered a room.

The virtual table is needed for some groups so I hope they support that too.   

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- Easy monster customization. Personally I don't modify monsters as much as my main co-DM friend does, but we both agree that customizing monsters is WAY easier in 4e than other editions. He used to customize things in AD&D and 3e all the time and it took him much longer to do and required a lot more ad hoc tweaking to work. On top of that the DDi monster customization tool for 4e has been invaluable to him.  Hopefully the 5e DMG will continue to have a straightforward method for creating and customizing monsters and will keep a monster custimization tool in its online set.




Agreed.


- We also like the "plug and play" encounter design system of 4e where you can just pick monsters of the appropriate level, plop them in the encounter, and you've got (in theory) a reasonably balanced encounter. That simplicity is definitely an improvement over the more complicated scaling tables and systems in AD&D and 3e.



While I like the XP budget style of encounter design in 4E more than the CR system, I found both of them very easy to use to create encounters quickly and on the fly.


- Unique monster abilities in 4e are also a plus. It's fun that every monster has its own unique abilities, as opposed to older editions where a lot of monsters were only differentiated by their hit points and damage.



Ehh?  I don't get this.  I've always found monsters to be unique and varied.  I don't need special powers on each monster to make them feel different.  I'd actually argue the opposite.  Special powers on every monster that really aren't unique when you look at them all as a whole - they're all very similar.


- I like the treasure parcel system in 4e. It's a very easy system to use and helps fashion reasonably paced out loot for a campaign in a streamlined fashion. Whatever 5e does with magic items and money I'm hoping they keep something similar to the treasure parcel in the DMG.



I liked the concept of the treasure parcel system, since it took the randomness out of loot, and, if I was good about handing out every parcel per level, ensured the party was of the correct treasure level as expected by the power level of the game.  However, in practice, I really, really didn't like treasure parcels.  At all.


- Lastly the DDi tools for 4e are great. All the people I know who have DM'd 4e have made heavy use of the Compendium and Character Builder, and as I mentioned above my long-time co-DM friend makes heavy use of the monster builder too. I've got to imagine that a lot of the money they get for online subscriptions is primarily because of those particular tools; they'd be crazy not to have similar online tools for 5e.



I wouldn't call them great, but definitely the best software offering we've had from WotC.


- Unique monster abilities in 4e are also a plus. It's fun that every monster has its own unique abilities, as opposed to older editions where a lot of monsters were only differentiated by their hit points and damage.


- I like the treasure parcel system in 4e. It's a very easy system to use and helps fashion reasonably paced out loot for a campaign in a streamlined fashion. Whatever 5e does with magic items and money I'm hoping they keep something similar to the treasure parcel in the DMG.


For the most part I agree with what you say, but those two I disagree. On the first, 4e monsters don't actually have as many unique powers as it might seem at first glance. A lot of them are the same power with different names or trivial variations of the same thing. Look through the book some time and see how many powers are shift some small distance, make multiple basic attacks or do some extra damage.

More significantly though, I find the 4e parcel system very awkward. My party size wanders all over the place, and it varies from session to session. It takes a lot of work on my part to figure out the correct rate of gold and item drops to keep characters at the correct place. I would much rather see treasure per character per XP budget of the fight and just multiply it out. Expected gold and magic items by level should be spelled out somewhere in the DMG, so I can see if the party is ahead or behind.


- Easy monster customization. Personally I don't modify monsters as much as my main co-DM friend does, but we both agree that customizing monsters is WAY easier in 4e than other editions. He used to customize things in AD&D and 3e all the time and it took him much longer to do and required a lot more ad hoc tweaking to work. On top of that the DDi monster customization tool for 4e has been invaluable to him.  Hopefully the 5e DMG will continue to have a straightforward method for creating and customizing monsters and will keep a monster custimization tool in its online set.

DMG DM Toolkit was really cool.  Would have liked to see that extended to traps and everything else.  Errata and updates changed some of it, though. 

Monster Builder was okay at modifying, but you never knew how off chart the monster was to start with.  A few extra HPs became a lot of extra HPs as you leveled it up.  And I thought the Monster Builder fell short when creating new monsters.  Simple things like when I choose race as Goblin, that should propogate.

I think WotC needs to show their math, like the DM Toolkit while also supporting some random tables or just randomness because I don't want cookie cutter and I don't want to necessarily fine tune every detail.
- We also like the "plug and play" encounter design system of 4e where you can just pick monsters of the appropriate level, plop them in the encounter, and you've got (in theory) a reasonably balanced encounter. That simplicity is definitely an improvement over the more complicated scaling tables and systems in AD&D and 3e.

Didn't like the monster party mechanics.  Plug and Play is fine, but not at the expense of any templating.
- Unique monster abilities in 4e are also a plus. It's fun that every monster has its own unique abilities, as opposed to older editions where a lot of monsters were only differentiated by their hit points and damage.

I think there needs to be a balance between common monster abilities, like a Kobold's shiftiness or whatever it's called while supporting unique attacks and stuff.
- I like the treasure parcel system in 4e. It's a very easy system to use and helps fashion reasonably paced out loot for a campaign in a streamlined fashion. Whatever 5e does with magic items and money I'm hoping they keep something similar to the treasure parcel in the DMG.

Not a fan.  It wasn't much more than a random table without a key.  Give me real random tables, because that's more fun.  I don't understand people's difficulties understanding the Parcel System but their was enough complaints that I guess it wasn't clear.
- Lastly the DDi tools for 4e are great. All the people I know who have DM'd 4e have made heavy use of the Compendium and Character Builder, and as I mentioned above my long-time co-DM friend makes heavy use of the monster builder too. I've got to imagine that a lot of the money they get for online subscriptions is primarily because of those particular tools; they'd be crazy not to have similar online tools for 5e.

LoL, I liked the original CB better.  And of the... what 5 slots for Adventure Tools we only got Monster Builder?  Classic failures on WotC. 
Good replies, couple of quick follow-ups:


- The old character builder and the new builder are pretty much a toss-up to me. I find them both pretty useful, albeit both have some irritating minor bugs too. Even having to double check for bugs, though, it's still way better than making characters by hand and I like that the official builders are automatically updated regularly with the new official content.


-  (from leidus87) "Ehh?  I don't get this.  I've always found monsters to be unique and varied.  I don't need special powers on each monster to make them feel different.  I'd actually argue the opposite.  Special powers on every monster that really aren't unique when you look at them all as a whole - they're all very similar. "  Yeah, I get what you're saying all monsters have unique monstrous backgrounds; that's true in every edition. On the other hand I appreciate that the 4e monsters are also distinguishable by unique mechanical powers. Goblins aren't mechanically almost identical to hobgoblins or kobolds. I see that as enhancing the differences between them, something else to play off of when running the monsters. 

- As far as treasure parcels go I have no idea if they'll even be compatible with 5e because it sounds like 5e is taking a much different approach to treasure and magic items. When I say I want 5e to have something similar I'm just saying I want treasure guidelines that are about as simple and straightforward to use as parcels are. It doesn't necessarilly have to work exactly like parcels but whatever system they go with I'd like to see it be as user friendly.



P.S. Monte's poll tonight kind of tangentially touched on some of this. The only thing that bothered me was his use of the phrase "challenge rating". He was probably just talking generally about guaging the challenge of an encounter, but hopefully they don't bring back the challenge rating system from 3rd edition. Just my opinion but that CR system was a relative mess compared to 4e. A lot harder to use and it didn't produce any better results than 4e's system. No thanks to that!
I don't customize monsters, use encounter budgets, treasure parcels, or DDI.  But, they are so incredibly easy to ignore that I don't care if they are carried forward or not.

The unique monster abilities, however, I cannot ignore. 

How I wish monsters used the same abilities as characters.  I have the rogue's sneak attack memorized.  If only lurkers with a sneak attack equivalent would use the exact same ability as rogues, it would make my combats significantly simpler to play.  I could just see sneak attack and know exactly what to do as DM.  As it is, I have to stop the action for half a minute as I read the parameters of the monster's ability. 

This wouldn't be bad if only one monster had special abilities.  But if I have 7 monsters out there, each with 2-3 special abilities that have to be perused, it slows my DM turns down.  Combat drags out.  High octane pace cannot be maintained.  Even worse when the monsters' abilities are triggered on someone else's turn.
I don't customize monsters, use encounter budgets, treasure parcels, or DDI.  But, they are so incredibly easy to ignore that I don't care if they are carried forward or not.

The unique monster abilities, however, I cannot ignore. 

How I wish monsters used the same abilities as characters.  I have the rogue's sneak attack memorized.  If only lurkers with a sneak attack equivalent would use the exact same ability as rogues, it would make my combats significantly simpler to play.  I could just see sneak attack and know exactly what to do as DM.  As it is, I have to stop the action for half a minute as I read the parameters of the monster's ability. 

This wouldn't be bad if only one monster had special abilities.  But if I have 7 monsters out there, each with 2-3 special abilities that have to be perused, it slows my DM turns down.  Combat drags out.  High octane pace cannot be maintained.  Even worse when the monsters' abilities are triggered on someone else's turn.



I have experienced this problem a lot more in the previous edition. Starting at level oh, say, 6-ish, every enemy needs to be a caster or magical creature, or the encounter ends in one turn (charge-deep impact-full attack for 300 damage). This means every monster has a spell list of sorts, plus all his traits, plus all his special abilities, plus his feats, plus way more numbers to check (AC, touch, flat-footed, saves, hps, attack bonus, full attack routine, DCs... it's a lot of stuff to double check). All in all, I think 4E cut down a lot on monster abilities by making each monster unique but clean. Sure, if you remember all the spells by heart you can run a 3.5 monster easily; but how many people do? In 4E I have a good monster stat block which is in a very good format, and I can read what I need every time the monster's turn comes up. I generally know how the monster works beforehand, and I doublecheck only numbers and details. I guess we have different experiences.
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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 have experienced this problem a lot more in the previous edition. Starting at level oh, say, 6-ish, every enemy needs to be a caster or magical creature, or the encounter ends in one turn (charge-deep impact-full attack for 300 damage). This means every monster has a spell list of sorts, plus all his traits, plus all his special abilities, plus his feats, plus way more numbers to check (AC, touch, flat-footed, saves, hps, attack bonus, full attack routine, DCs... it's a lot of stuff to double check). All in all, I think 4E cut down a lot on monster abilities by making each monster unique but clean. Sure, if you remember all the spells by heart you can run a 3.5 monster easily; but how many people do? In 4E I have a good monster stat block which is in a very good format, and I can read what I need every time the monster's turn comes up. I generally know how the monster works beforehand, and I doublecheck only numbers and details. I guess we have different experiences.



I agree that 3.5 monsters have issues as well, but that's a different subject.

It sounds like the main difference between our use of 4e monsters is that I haven't reviewed the monsters prior to the time of use.  I ad lib as a DM.  If you are going into a session knowing you will run 3 combats and know exactly what monsters will constitute said combats, it would be relatively easy to use 4e monsters.  Going into a session with potentially half the Monster Manual that could show up has different needs.

It sounds like the main difference between our use of 4e monsters is that I haven't reviewed the monsters prior to the time of use.  I ad lib as a DM.  If you are going into a session knowing you will run 3 combats and know exactly what monsters will constitute said combats, it would be relatively easy to use 4e monsters.  Going into a session with potentially half the Monster Manual that could show up has different needs.




Yeah, it sounds like we DM a little differently. I generate a bunch of encounters beforehand based on the possible things the party might do when I'm prepping summarized on index cards and read those monsters in detail before the session. Then during the session I use the encounters as applicable based on what the party does. I also try and get a general sense at the end of each session what the party is planning so I can plan accordingly. Even when I've run a random delve on occasion I carefully read the monster descriptions before we started while the players prepped their characters.


I can see how more complicated monster abilities would mess you up a little, though, if you literally were pulling monsters out of a hat at random at the table right before combat.  Overall though I think the unique monster abilities are a benefit in most cases.
I think of all the things that 4e did, ease of using monsters was the best (particularly the format of the stat blocks).

My only complaint (and it's quite minor) in this area is I wish that the "Elite" balance (not necessarily implementation) was the standard setting of monsters presented.

I'm not fond of having nearly as many characters to manage in combat as there are PC's.  And I think the idea of the typical monster being individually more powerful than the typical PC is more exciting.

And none of my groups find it interesting to deal with "trash mobs" in any combat that takes longer than 5 minutes maybe.

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I have experienced this problem a lot more in the previous edition. Starting at level oh, say, 6-ish, every enemy needs to be a caster or magical creature, or the encounter ends in one turn (charge-deep impact-full attack for 300 damage). This means every monster has a spell list of sorts, plus all his traits, plus all his special abilities, plus his feats, plus way more numbers to check (AC, touch, flat-footed, saves, hps, attack bonus, full attack routine, DCs... it's a lot of stuff to double check). All in all, I think 4E cut down a lot on monster abilities by making each monster unique but clean. Sure, if you remember all the spells by heart you can run a 3.5 monster easily; but how many people do? In 4E I have a good monster stat block which is in a very good format, and I can read what I need every time the monster's turn comes up. I generally know how the monster works beforehand, and I doublecheck only numbers and details. I guess we have different experiences.



I agree that 3.5 monsters have issues as well, but that's a different subject.

It sounds like the main difference between our use of 4e monsters is that I haven't reviewed the monsters prior to the time of use.  I ad lib as a DM.  If you are going into a session knowing you will run 3 combats and know exactly what monsters will constitute said combats, it would be relatively easy to use 4e monsters.  Going into a session with potentially half the Monster Manual that could show up has different needs.



I agree; however, I have found some solutions for when an improvised fight pops up. This is primarily DMing around the problem, but maybe it can help you. Disregard it if you wish.

1) Prepare some fights beforehand. I always have an assassin / thug / bandit type of encounter that is supposed to be easy to run and easy to reflavor when needed, as well as a random trash encounter with magical beasts / animals / wild creatures and an encounter against guards or other humanoid organized forces. 'Cause you never know.
2) Give a five minute break to your players. I have two people that smoke and another couple people who like to take little breaks and talk about medieval fencing or stuff: I tell them it's time for a little break, review the monsters and lay out the map, then we're ready to start. This does break the pacing and tension, but for encounters I didn't plan forward it's often the best solution.
 
I will also drop this blog link here, because I think the ideas I've listed inside it can easily solve your problems (particularly the Generic Monsters) as well as many of mine.
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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
It's definately cool when the players recognize what the monsters are doing, like the Sneak Attack example.  But to say the Fighter player knows all the spells a necromancer NPC will be using is hard to imagine.  The core game needs to be extensive and really well done.  Then PC and Monsters alike can utilize it. 

In my most recent 4e stint as DM, I used MM3 and MV monsters who should have already been updated to new damage and HP and what not.  There was a different from the MM1 monsters.  Where Aura was a pretty easy mechanic and if I saw an Aura I knew how it would be working, but the newer creatures use lots of Triggered Actions which are cool but more complicated and harder to run at the table on the fly.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to generate a monster in 1 minute on MB.  Blank screen to stat block and treasure.  Race, Level, Role, and then fine tune whatever I want.  Throw in some randomization, so I don't have every goblin carrying a morningstar with the option to go in and give them all clubs if I choose.

I think elite would be a better standard but I'd go way back to solo being the standard.  Get solo right, party fights the monster terrifying the townsfolk.  Then have ways to break down the solo into a pair or group or gaggle of minions.  Filler archers to balance an XP budget isn't making the game any better.
4edition did some great things for DMs.  I agree with much of the OP.

I can see OleOneEye's concern about monster abilities.  I had the same challenge at first but then I started doing what Mormegil suggested.  I would prep a couple of potential monster encounters before and throw them at the players if and when appropriate (according to their choices).  When they went completely go off the potential paths I have outlined (attack an NPC I never intended them to fight), then they get a food/drink/bio break while I slap together the encounter.  I rarely ever had truly random encounters though I had plenty of encounters that seemed random to the players.

Though I switched away from 4th edition I still think fondly of it's DM planning tools and would want to see them again in DnD Next along with even more robust electronic tools. 
I think there's no topic on this because I think pretty much everybody agrees that 4th edition did it better than in any of the other editions.

And as OleOneEye said, the encounter guidelines are so easy to ignore that they should be included.

I also think that monster abilities should be somewhat consistent with player abilities to avoid players being "jealous" of monsters. But that's really a minor issue in my opinion.

Also, I don't want monsters to always have strange abilities for the sake of it. If special ability is not going to be used, it's a waste of book space and it makess the critter harder to decipher with no added value (this was even more true in 3rd edition by the way).
Agree with the OP.
I think there's no topic on this because I think pretty much everybody agrees that 4th edition did it better than in any of the other editions.

And as OleOneEye said, the encounter guidelines are so easy to ignore that they should be included.

I also think that monster abilities should be somewhat consistent with player abilities to avoid players being "jealous" of monsters. But that's really a minor issue in my opinion.

Also, I don't want monsters to always have strange abilities for the sake of it. If special ability is not going to be used, it's a waste of book space and it makess the critter harder to decipher with no added value (this was even more true in 3rd edition by the way).





Pretty much this right here for me too.  

If there is one part of 4e that I can say was a spot on success in design it was the monsters and the ease of their creation.  It's unfortunate that they had to do math fixes later and change the rules for them, but that's not a systemic problem, and the changes didn't change how you built monsters.  That was just a math issue that was corrected.  Just like the check difficulty and damage by level charts were.

The only thing that will be difficult in 5e arises because they will be decoupling magic items from progression.  Keeping a system like 4e's that works will require magic items to become a part of the equation and not an expected portion of characters of a certain level.  It may be an extra step of the equation where you need to figure out what the item scores are (or something to this effect)  so you can properly attain an exp budget and difficulty rating for you encounters.  Hopefully this isn't to messy.

However, and I know TheMormegil will back me up on this, they need to make it so that designing challenging single fights is less of a fine line to walk.  Currently in 4e it's really easy to design multiple encounter days, but designing single encounter days that can't be trivialized will almost always come close to wiping the party.  You can do it with wave fights but that does pigeon hole the writing a little bit.

If there is one part of 4e that I can say was a spot on success in design it was the monsters and the ease of their creation.  It's unfortunate that they had to do math fixes later and change the rules for them, but that's not a systemic problem, and the changes didn't change how you built monsters.  That was just a math issue that was corrected.  Just like the check difficulty and damage by level charts were.



I think they learned their lesson. Having designers that actually play the game probably helped because they got to experience how frustrating 55% chance to hit is compared to 65% and how annoying 10-round combats are.


The only thing that will be difficult in 5e arises because they will be decoupling magic items from progression.  Keeping a system like 4e's that works will require magic items to become a part of the equation and not an expected portion of characters of a certain level.  It may be an extra step of the equation where you need to figure out what the item scores are (or something to this effect)  so you can properly attain an exp budget and difficulty rating for you encounters.  Hopefully this isn't to messy.



Just get rid of the "plus items" that increase your attack rolls and defenses. Anything else really is no big deal. Maybe a party full of magic items will require encounters of level +1 instead of at level.

With the "plus" items, that's almost 30% at epic levels. You can't remove items when they are that important. If we're talking about a +1 to hit here and a +3.5 damage there, it really shouldn't be a problem.


However, and I know TheMormegil will back me up on this, they need to make it so that designing challenging single fights is less of a fine line to walk.  Currently in 4e it's really easy to design multiple encounter days, but designing single encounter days that can't be trivialized will almost always come close to wiping the party.  You can do it with wave fights but that does pigeon hole the writing a little bit.



Euho... I tried pointing out that dailies for everybody combined with action points were not a good idea, but everybody laughed at my face and told me I didn't know what I was talking about because of my limited 4th edition experience.
I think there's no topic on this because I think pretty much everybody agrees that 4th edition did it better than in any of the other editions.

I agree.  But I would like to see some monster templating in 5th.  I really want both, examples and templates for monsters.  But make the templates quick and clean like in the DMG DM Toolkit section.

Try dailies for anybody, Gnarl.  It's an obvious problem of daily resources meant to be utilized over the course of a day that in a game where fewer encounters per day take place than the designer benchmark, the daily resources will be used more frequently than intended and make the encounters easier.  The single-encounter day is just the most extreme end of this.  In fact, dailies for only some would make it even worse, as those without dailies would be left completely unable to respond to the greater threat (as Slayers are, for instance) and making the fight an appropriate challenge for everyone would be even harder.

The only really effective way to solve this problem is to limit how much of a daily resource can be burned per encounter.  Healing surges are the obvious example, as are action points.  Healing surges create a system by which your daily stock of hit points can be worn down over time without reducing how many hit points you'll actually enter a fight with.  This means waves of grunts can still wear you down over time, and also gives you a limit on how much punishment you can talke within the span of a single fight before you drop.

Action points, meanwhile, are in my view the superior dailies.  Action points give you an incredibly valuable ability, the ability to take an extra action on your turn.  This allows you to pull off combos, spike your damage output, administer a potion, or otherwise do something great at a critical moment.  You can stock them, getting them back at a slower rate than if you used one a fight, but you can only burn one per encounter.  This means you have to manage your supply carefully and save one for when you really need it, but it doesn't give you an ability that changes what you're doing outright the way nearly any daily power does.

A system well-designed to allow for single encounter days would focus almost all of its attention on encounter-based resources for all classes, with a slowly-replenishing daily resource that spikes rather than novas.  A system well-designed to allow for varying encounter lengths would then also allow for those encounter resources to be replenished during a fight at some cost.  Tome of Battle and the homebrew supplement Codex of Spellshaping are as close to perfection in this regard as any D&D products have ever gotten, but I believe you've heard me talk about that before.

If you were insistent on some classes getting daily resources, you would need to put in a hard cap on how many of those resources could be used in a single encounter.  "A wizard knows X spells per day and can cast Y per encounter."  The fact that this is really clunky and breaks a lot of everyone's everything means it's an inferior option, but you could do it. 
Try dailies for anybody, Gnarl.  It's an obvious problem of daily resources meant to be utilized over the course of a day that in a game where fewer encounters per day take place than the designer benchmark, the daily resources will be used more frequently than intended and make the encounters easier.  The single-encounter day is just the most extreme end of this.  In fact, dailies for only some would make it even worse, as those without dailies would be left completely unable to respond to the greater threat (as Slayers are, for instance) and making the fight an appropriate challenge for everyone would be even harder.

The only really effective way to solve this problem is to limit how much of a daily resource can be burned per encounter.  Healing surges are the obvious example, as are action points.  Healing surges create a system by which your daily stock of hit points can be worn down over time without reducing how many hit points you'll actually enter a fight with.  This means waves of grunts can still wear you down over time, and also gives you a limit on how much punishment you can talke within the span of a single fight before you drop.

Action points, meanwhile, are in my view the superior dailies.  Action points give you an incredibly valuable ability, the ability to take an extra action on your turn.  This allows you to pull off combos, spike your damage output, administer a potion, or otherwise do something great at a critical moment.  You can stock them, getting them back at a slower rate than if you used one a fight, but you can only burn one per encounter.  This means you have to manage your supply carefully and save one for when you really need it, but it doesn't give you an ability that changes what you're doing outright the way nearly any daily power does.

A system well-designed to allow for single encounter days would focus almost all of its attention on encounter-based resources for all classes, with a slowly-replenishing daily resource that spikes rather than novas.  A system well-designed to allow for varying encounter lengths would then also allow for those encounter resources to be replenished during a fight at some cost.  Tome of Battle and the homebrew supplement Codex of Spellshaping are as close to perfection in this regard as any D&D products have ever gotten, but I believe you've heard me talk about that before.

If you were insistent on some classes getting daily resources, you would need to put in a hard cap on how many of those resources could be used in a single encounter.  "A wizard knows X spells per day and can cast Y per encounter."  The fact that this is really clunky and breaks a lot of everyone's everything means it's an inferior option, but you could do it. 




Less than putting a hard cap on the number of daily resources people are allowed to use in a fight make it entirely unatractive to use more than a certain ammount of daily resources in a single fight.

TheMormegil actually had a design for this that made dailies even more awesome but you would never use more than one per encounter because you couldn't get the full benefit of the daily if you cast another one instead of just maintaining the first daily you cast.  Or more apropriately by using the attacks starting up the daily allowed you to make for the rest of the encounter.  I'll see if I can get him to give you guys the examples he gave me.
The only thing that will be difficult in 5e arises because they will be decoupling magic items from progression.  Keeping a system like 4e's that works will require magic items to become a part of the equation and not an expected portion of characters of a certain level.  It may be an extra step of the equation where you need to figure out what the item scores are (or something to this effect)  so you can properly attain an exp budget and difficulty rating for you encounters.  Hopefully this isn't to messy.



I sincerely hope they can decouple magic items from the math.  I have wanted to have a no-magic-item-required DnD system that doesnt require me to rewrite the entire system with inherent bonuses to compensate.

However, and I know TheMormegil will back me up on this, they need to make it so that designing challenging single fights is less of a fine line to walk.  Currently in 4e it's really easy to design multiple encounter days, but designing single encounter days that can't be trivialized will almost always come close to wiping the party.  You can do it with wave fights but that does pigeon hole the writing a little bit.



I am glad to hear that I wasn't the only DM with this concern.  I have never brought it up in other posts/debates because I thought that my year and half playing/DMing 4th was insuficient to say that the phenomenon existed.  I had problems balancing encounters to get the required level of threat (my groups like the threat level at the maximum barely survived by the skin of your teeth kind of feel) without resulting in TPK.  When we first started 4th edition we thought it was too easily.  Characters easily bounced back and there wasn't any feeling of danger for the players.  We immediately bumped up the encounter difficultly with more mobs and stronger mobs.  Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that there was a dangerous cascading effect.  If we set the encounter difficulty level so that the party felt threatened then there there was the risk that when the leader or defender fell that the entire party fell apart and died en masse.  What I had to do was constantly fudge the monster's rolls.  We would create the encounters at high difficulty and when I rolled for the mobs behind the DM screen if the mobs was going to drop a player too early (and TPK) I would adjust that roll for a miss.

I know that not everyone is intersted in that level of danger in their game but I am curious on how groups made it work with their 4th edition game (if they operated on the high danger mode.
TheMormegil actually had a design for this that made dailies even more awesome but you would never use more than one per encounter because you couldn't get the full benefit of the daily if you cast another one instead of just maintaining the first daily you cast.  Or more apropriately by using the attacks starting up the daily allowed you to make for the rest of the encounter.  I'll see if I can get him to give you guys the examples he gave me.



The idea was to have daily powers that were cool, strong, and actually gave you something to do. If you need multiple actions to gain all the benefits from your daily power, then you most likely won't be using more than one per encounter. And if you do, you won't gain as many benefits, reducing the nova effect. I took the idea from someone else and expanded upon it IIRC. However, here are some examples to clarify this stuff a bit.

Wall of Fire
Create a wall of fire. It deals some damage to people inside it and slows down people as usual. But then you have:
Move Action: move one end of the wall by 10'.
Minor Action: a creature inside the wall takes the damage again.
Standard Action: a fire sprout comes out of the wall and a creature within 20' of the wall is attacked for larger than normal damage.


Or maybe:
Meteor Swarm
Int vs Ref, 8d6 + Int damage on a target. Then until the end of the encounter you can rain meteors on your foes:
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack for 8d6+Int damage on a target, plus spread damage.
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack against three targets (three meteors). You can use this attack three times before the end of the encounter.
Standard Action: after you have finished the uses of the spell above you can end the spell attacking every enemy within 60' of you with meteors. 
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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 am glad to hear that I wasn't the only DM with this concern.  I have never brought it up in other posts/debates because I thought that my year and half playing/DMing 4th was insuficient to say that the phenomenon existed.  I had problems balancing encounters to get the required level of threat (my groups like the threat level at the maximum barely survived by the skin of your teeth kind of feel) without resulting in TPK.  When we first started 4th edition we thought it was too easily.  Characters easily bounced back and there wasn't any feeling of danger for the players.  We immediately bumped up the encounter difficultly with more mobs and stronger mobs.  Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that there was a dangerous cascading effect.  If we set the encounter difficulty level so that the party felt threatened then there there was the risk that when the leader or defender fell that the entire party fell apart and died en masse.  What I had to do was constantly fudge the monster's rolls.  We would create the encounters at high difficulty and when I rolled for the mobs behind the DM screen if the mobs was going to drop a player too early (and TPK) I would adjust that roll for a miss.

I know that not everyone is intersted in that level of danger in their game but I am curious on how groups made it work with their 4th edition game (if they operated on the high danger mode.



This exists, and is one of the reasons I'm looking forward to D&D Next. In order to properly challenge a high level party, you need to have multiple encounters per day. If you have only one, chances are it's going to be either easy or TPK.
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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 sincerely hope they can decouple magic items from the math.  I have wanted to have a no-magic-item-required DnD system that doesnt require me to rewrite the entire system with inherent bonuses to compensate.

If the magic items do anything then the power level increase for the default set of magic items has to be built into the math. The real solution is to decouple party level and combat effectiveness, so that the no-magic party is facing less powerful foes but still getting the same XP becuase it is the same relative threat.

I am glad to hear that I wasn't the only DM with this concern.  I have never brought it up in other posts/debates because I thought that my year and half playing/DMing 4th was insuficient to say that the phenomenon existed.  I had problems balancing encounters to get the required level of threat (my groups like the threat level at the maximum barely survived by the skin of your teeth kind of feel) without resulting in TPK.

It is a persistant problem in 4e, it is pretty tighly bound to the 3-5 encounters per day model. The number of daily powers in a party as a whole means you actually get more of a nova then you often would in 3e when the party knows they can blow all of their daily powers in one shot. I avoid that problem by keeping the guessing constantly about the number of fights they face in a day and when the main boss will show up. Fights per day could be anything from 1 to 20+, and the main boss might be hidden at the start, or arrive with the reinforcments half way through the fight. This forces the party to be careful with their daily powers, which lets me ramp down the enemies a bit while still keeping the actual danger level up.

The idea was to have daily powers that were cool, strong, and actually gave you something to do. If you need multiple actions to gain all the benefits from your daily power, then you most likely won't be using more than one per encounter. And if you do, you won't gain as many benefits, reducing the nova effect. I took the idea from someone else and expanded upon it IIRC. However, here are some examples to clarify this stuff a bit.

Neat idea, but how would you balance it for defensive or party buffing powers? Using up standard actions for these powers makes them worthless or annoying, but if you don't then somebody can easily stack a minor with an offensive daily power.

The idea was to have daily powers that were cool, strong, and actually gave you something to do. If you need multiple actions to gain all the benefits from your daily power, then you most likely won't be using more than one per encounter. And if you do, you won't gain as many benefits, reducing the nova effect. I took the idea from someone else and expanded upon it IIRC. However, here are some examples to clarify this stuff a bit.

Neat idea, but how would you balance it for defensive or party buffing powers? Using up standard actions for these powers makes them worthless or annoying, but if you don't then somebody can easily stack a minor with an offensive daily power.



Hmmm, well the system does suppose there's non-daily resources. For instance, Fireball under this system would most likely be an encounter power.

Defensive powers would still have an active attack action that's superior to your at-will, but inferior to strictly offensive spells. For instance, if you have a Daily spell that's supposed to be Mage Armor, you instead get Dancing Blades Armor, which grants defensive bonuses and can be used to attack too.

Buffing powers would be rare as daily, but I guess they'd work like this: you get the overall benefit for spending the daily, then you can "direct" the spell in some way. For instance, take Righteous Wrath of the Faithful: static bonus for everybody, plus you can grant a target a bonus to his next damage roll within the next turn roughly equal to 1.2*your damage output. That way you can choose between non gaining the +0.2 to your damage output (plus added benefit of making someone else attack, buffed) if you want to attack normally. You can, you can even spend another offensive daily to attack yourself for, say, 1.4x damage, but you're losing out on part of the efficiency of the power that way.
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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
TheMormegil actually had a design for this that made dailies even more awesome but you would never use more than one per encounter because you couldn't get the full benefit of the daily if you cast another one instead of just maintaining the first daily you cast.  Or more apropriately by using the attacks starting up the daily allowed you to make for the rest of the encounter.  I'll see if I can get him to give you guys the examples he gave me.



The idea was to have daily powers that were cool, strong, and actually gave you something to do. If you need multiple actions to gain all the benefits from your daily power, then you most likely won't be using more than one per encounter. And if you do, you won't gain as many benefits, reducing the nova effect. I took the idea from someone else and expanded upon it IIRC. However, here are some examples to clarify this stuff a bit.

Wall of Fire
Create a wall of fire. It deals some damage to people inside it and slows down people as usual. But then you have:
Move Action: move one end of the wall by 10'.
Minor Action: a creature inside the wall takes the damage again.
Standard Action: a fire sprout comes out of the wall and a creature within 20' of the wall is attacked for larger than normal damage.


Or maybe:
Meteor Swarm
Int vs Ref, 8d6 + Int damage on a target. Then until the end of the encounter you can rain meteors on your foes:
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack for 8d6+Int damage on a target, plus spread damage.
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack against three targets (three meteors). You can use this attack three times before the end of the encounter.
Standard Action: after you have finished the uses of the spell above you can end the spell attacking every enemy within 60' of you with meteors. 



Nice stuff!!

Brilliant fix for the problems with dailies.  I personally love daily resources for the decision making the people have to make in terms of using them (and to give them flexibility and variabilty so each encounter isn't the same exact series of encounter and at will powers).  Your system preserves the choices, strategy and "Wow that's a cool power!" factor that makes daily powers desirable while reducing the likelihood of a nova (one of the biggest problems with daily power).  Very nice!
TheMormegil actually had a design for this that made dailies even more awesome but you would never use more than one per encounter because you couldn't get the full benefit of the daily if you cast another one instead of just maintaining the first daily you cast.  Or more apropriately by using the attacks starting up the daily allowed you to make for the rest of the encounter.  I'll see if I can get him to give you guys the examples he gave me.



The idea was to have daily powers that were cool, strong, and actually gave you something to do. If you need multiple actions to gain all the benefits from your daily power, then you most likely won't be using more than one per encounter. And if you do, you won't gain as many benefits, reducing the nova effect. I took the idea from someone else and expanded upon it IIRC. However, here are some examples to clarify this stuff a bit.

Wall of Fire
Create a wall of fire. It deals some damage to people inside it and slows down people as usual. But then you have:
Move Action: move one end of the wall by 10'.
Minor Action: a creature inside the wall takes the damage again.
Standard Action: a fire sprout comes out of the wall and a creature within 20' of the wall is attacked for larger than normal damage.


Or maybe:
Meteor Swarm
Int vs Ref, 8d6 + Int damage on a target. Then until the end of the encounter you can rain meteors on your foes:
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack for 8d6+Int damage on a target, plus spread damage.
Standard Action: you make an Int vs Ref attack against three targets (three meteors). You can use this attack three times before the end of the encounter.
Standard Action: after you have finished the uses of the spell above you can end the spell attacking every enemy within 60' of you with meteors. 



Nice stuff!!

Brilliant fix for the problems with dailies.  I personally love daily resources for the decision making the people have to make in terms of using them (and to give them flexibility and variabilty so each encounter isn't the same exact series of encounter and at will powers).  Your system preserves the choices, strategy and "Wow that's a cool power!" factor that makes daily powers desirable while reducing the likelihood of a nova (one of the biggest problems with daily power).  Very nice!




Like I told him it is one of the best suggestions I have seen on the boards.  I just wish I could ensure that the devs see it.
I think of all the things that 4e did, ease of using monsters was the best (particularly the format of the stat blocks).

My only complaint (and it's quite minor) in this area is I wish that the "Elite" balance (not necessarily implementation) was the standard setting of monsters presented.

I'm not fond of having nearly as many characters to manage in combat as there are PC's.  And I think the idea of the typical monster being individually more powerful than the typical PC is more exciting.

And none of my groups find it interesting to deal with "trash mobs" in any combat that takes longer than 5 minutes maybe.



See, I have easily mentioned that shifting to X elite monsters instead of Y standard monsters is rather easy.  To make the aproximate of XP budget aloted for a certain level, you create or pick 2 elites of a level above the party.  Meaning that 2 level 2 elities is about equal to a level 1 encounter (for 5 people), 2 level 3s is about a level 2 encounter, etc.  Knowing this makes it quite easy to shift the balance, while still allowing the "average" game player to be able to handle the simpleness of minions and standards with the occasional elite and solo.
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See, I have easily mentioned that shifting to X elite monsters instead of Y standard monsters is rather easy.  To make the aproximate of XP budget aloted for a certain level, you create or pick 2 elites of a level above the party.  Meaning that 2 level 2 elities is about equal to a level 1 encounter (for 5 people), 2 level 3s is about a level 2 encounter, etc.  Knowing this makes it quite easy to shift the balance, while still allowing the "average" game player to be able to handle the simpleness of minions and standards with the occasional elite and solo.


It's not that I can't do it, Kalnuar.  It's that I want the vast majority of monsters in the MM's to be constructed as Elites.  Because I want a larger set of pre-built monsters to select from.  That's my primary criticism of monsters in 4e.

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See, I have easily mentioned that shifting to X elite monsters instead of Y standard monsters is rather easy.  To make the aproximate of XP budget aloted for a certain level, you create or pick 2 elites of a level above the party.  Meaning that 2 level 2 elities is about equal to a level 1 encounter (for 5 people), 2 level 3s is about a level 2 encounter, etc.  Knowing this makes it quite easy to shift the balance, while still allowing the "average" game player to be able to handle the simpleness of minions and standards with the occasional elite and solo.


It's not that I can't do it, Kalnuar.  It's that I want the vast majority of monsters in the MM's to be constructed as Elites.  Because I want a larger set of pre-built monsters to select from.  That's my primary criticism of monsters in 4e.



I would be ok with that as long as the rules for monster creation are as simple as they are now. It's a breeze. I basically create all the monsters I use because it's terribly easy: you have set defenses you then scramble about a bit to give variety and a weak spot; you have set hps you then round to the nearest easy number by adjusting Con score; you have a set attack bonus and a set of premade damages you can use to create virtually any power; and for elites, just increase HPs and damage, add +2 saves, one AP and some cooler powers. It's just too easy, really. <3 Love it. 
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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
See, I have easily mentioned that shifting to X elite monsters instead of Y standard monsters is rather easy.  To make the aproximate of XP budget aloted for a certain level, you create or pick 2 elites of a level above the party.  Meaning that 2 level 2 elities is about equal to a level 1 encounter (for 5 people), 2 level 3s is about a level 2 encounter, etc.  Knowing this makes it quite easy to shift the balance, while still allowing the "average" game player to be able to handle the simpleness of minions and standards with the occasional elite and solo.


It's not that I can't do it, Kalnuar.  It's that I want the vast majority of monsters in the MM's to be constructed as Elites.  Because I want a larger set of pre-built monsters to select from.  That's my primary criticism of monsters in 4e.



I would be ok with that as long as the rules for monster creation are as simple as they are now. It's a breeze. I basically create all the monsters I use because it's terribly easy: you have set defenses you then scramble about a bit to give variety and a weak spot; you have set hps you then round to the nearest easy number by adjusting Con score; you have a set attack bonus and a set of premade damages you can use to create virtually any power; and for elites, just increase HPs and damage, add +2 saves, one AP and some cooler powers. It's just too easy, really. <3 love="" it="" quote="" br="" class="mbQuoteSpacer">



gotta agree with you on this one here.  best part is that in 4e you can do this and leave the monster completely flavorless or with a few flavors in mind then throw on the flavor you want when the encounter comes along.  Monsters were the best spot for reflavoring in the entire edition.  I don't care that this is a goblin stat block im going to change one or two things and now it's an elf. boom easy.
I'm hoping that standard, elite,solo goes away as a monster description.   I want a monster to fulfill all three roles depending on the level of the party that is encountered.   So I'd prefer the monster build rules explain what is a solo challenge at what level and the good archetypes to use.

So you keep the Brute, Lurker, Artillery, etc.. classifications and the rules just say -- A brute 2 levels higher makes a good solo.

 

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I'm hoping that standard, elite,solo goes away as a monster description.   I want a monster to fulfill all three roles depending on the level of the party that is encountered.   So I'd prefer the monster build rules explain what is a solo challenge at what level and the good archetypes to use.

So you keep the Brute, Lurker, Artillery, etc.. classifications and the rules just say -- A brute 2 levels higher makes a good solo.

 



Whatever system is used, whether it's elite/solos or just the ability to easily "level" ordinary monsters, the main thing is the games needs to provide a way to have beefier versions of regular monsters fighting alongside normal versions of regular monsters. You want to be able to have a troop of ogres led by a tougher ogre boss, for instance, or have a bunch of giant insects protecting a really nasty queen insect of the same type, that kind of thing. Making elite or solo versions of the monsters is one way to do it, or you can instead adjust the level up of the monsters, either way.


Also I should point out that eliter and solo versions of monsters aren't actually just higher level versions of the normal monsters. 4e Elites and solos both get action points, both can shrug off effects that saves end more easily, and solo monsters normally have an extra ability or two that the normal monsters don't have that helps them more effectively fight multiple opponents at once.  Leveling up would increase the hit points and damage but not give the other benefits.  In particular for solo monsters the gameplay dynamics of party-vs-solo monster combat are different than group-on-group fights, so offering a system to make sure solo monsters can handle multiple opponents simultaneously is probably beneficial.

Probably the best approach is to offer both ways to raise or lower the level of monsters and to also offer ways to create solo version of the monsters. Having both systems available would be a good way to ensure a DM could customize monsters whatever their preference. (Elite is good too but elites are close enough to just being higher level monsters that leveling up would probably work just as well.)
I hope they just make a daily XP budget with solid encounter creation guidelines, and that's it.
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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 think of all the things that 4e did, ease of using monsters was the best (particularly the format of the stat blocks).

My only complaint (and it's quite minor) in this area is I wish that the "Elite" balance (not necessarily implementation) was the standard setting of monsters presented.

I'm not fond of having nearly as many characters to manage in combat as there are PC's.  And I think the idea of the typical monster being individually more powerful than the typical PC is more exciting.

And none of my groups find it interesting to deal with "trash mobs" in any combat that takes longer than 5 minutes maybe.





I'm gonna say the exact opposite.  Big encounters with lots of monsters lets me have save or die (which is awesome) without it being stupid.  (No-houserule 3.5 works fine when you're fighting small armies instead of a single ogre, and "I shoot the one who is most hurt" keeps it from getting too messy on the DM).  It lets you do lots of things differently, I think.

Also as a player I hate having to outnumber man sized opponents 5 to 1.
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