Feedback from a veteran

Rather than ghost these forums for months I feel like just putting it all down and leaving it at that.  I've been playing DnD (practically every version from 1st to Pathfinder) for nearly 30 years and I've seen the good and the bad.  See below:

4th Ed by and large was a step backwards from 3.5/3.75.  It may have worked as a game not related to DnD (like a Magic PnP or something) but it really was too much like a table-top wargame.  There were about 4 things I'd take from it:

- Tanking mechanics.  This give defender style characters a mechanic the stops the squishies from squishing.  If a DM wanted to in previous editions he could just move past the front line and turn the mages into pate.  I really liked it.  I say preserve it.

- Healing surges.  While not great it allowed 4th ed to keep hit dice but reduced the need for dedicated healers.  The biggest weakness of 1 through 3.75 ed was the need for dedicated healers.  Healing surges helped simulate a characters ability to recover stamina after each fight.  It could use some tweaking but ultimately I liked it.

- At will abilities.  Only in as much as it gives mages/clerics a mechanic to cast basic spells outside the 'fire and forget' mechanic.  If it could be implemented well for all classes then that would be great.  I guess at wills for fighters that mimic say 'power-attack' and 'expertise' feats then that would work well also.

- Leaders.  Not a bad idea for a new catagory of classes although the forgoing your own attack to give someone else one was a bit lame.

Scrap everything else.  I was encourageds to read a quote from EN World from one of the developers which was that "Skill chalenges should die in a fire".  I totally agree.  Hence the bold. Wink

3rd Ed - My personal opinion was that this was the pinacle of DnD.  The rules flowed well and made sense.  It was similar enough to 2nd Ed that players could pick it up easily.  Here's what I would not use from 3rd ed though.

- Trip/sunder/grapple/bull-rush/disarm mechanics.  Don't get me wrong I see why people would like to know how these things might work and on their own they work well enough.  The problem as I see it is that no-one uses them anyway or if they do they cheeze up a whip character that trips and disarms titans with ease at 1st level which just annoys the rest of the players.  Either get rid of them or don't let people specialise in them.

- Sorcerers.  Worst idea to date, or at least worst implemented idea ever.  Basically take everything about the wizard that makes it interesting, take it away, give it almost zero versatility but allow someone to cast fireball 15 times a day.  I'm not holding my breath but I'd either like to see the sorcerer gone or see it's combat effectiveness reduced dramatically.

- Crafting - I initially loved it but I see the point that magic items have been devalued from 2nd ed.  Unfortunately the rules for crafting in 2nd Ed basically made it not worth doing.  There needs to be a middle ground.  Maybe potions and scrolls can stay as they are but maybe have craft wonderous kick in at 9th level and the rest staggered after this.  I want magic to feel like a reward again.

- I am probably in the minority but I feel that polymorph and fly spells need to be bought back to the levels they were at in 2nd and 3.0 ed.  It should be left to DMs to curb their combat potency but there was nothing more awesom than being able to fly for hours at a time or turn into a gryphon and carry your mates to the next city.

- Buffs need to be 1hour/level again.  No not all of them, but definately some of them.  Pathfinder mage them all 1min/level which means you cast most of them in combat which also means they are often not worth casting.  I never found bull's strength that OP at 1 hour/level but maybe that's just me.  Maybe tweak their power, make them personal, etc but make them give me a bonus that doesn't need to be cast 5 times a day.

- Power curves.  I don't need my mage and rogue to have the same power footings, infact I NEED them to be different.  Rogues tend to not be educated and spend time stealing as they grow up (broad generalisation).  Mages forgoe childhoods and physical endeavours to study magic.  If magic isn't any better, then why bother?  It also adds strategy.  Mages are your glass cannons, warriors your shields, everything else your utility.  I want high powered high level mages.  Please bring them back.

That's about all I've got. 

Enjoy Cool
One other thing I forgot to mention:

Wizards needs to lose the micro-transaction model for DnD.  Essentially, no matter how good this new edition is, if it has 4 player's handbooks I'm not buying it and I'm sure a lot of people would agree.

Make the players handbook big, make it cost $70+, but I don't want 2-4 of them.  Especially when it's obvious that content was withheld from the 1st one to put in a 2nd one 3 months later.  No thankyou.

Also I want electronic books.  I want a way to coalate all my books into one reference document (like Herolab for instance) so that I don't need 15 of them to make a character.

It's the 21st century.  This shouldn't be too hard.
Rather than ghost these forums for months I feel like just putting it all down and leaving it at that.  I've been playing DnD (practically every version from 1st to Pathfinder) for nearly 30 years and I've seen the good and the bad.  See below:

Why have I come to dread any post that opens with a claim of howevermany years whoever's been playing? Do people actually think that matters at all?

4th
Ed by and large was a step backwards from 3.5/3.75.  It may have worked as a game not related to DnD (like a Magic PnP or something) but it really was too much like a table-top wargame.
Well, then you're going to love the new edition. 

 
There were about 4 things I'd take from it:

- Tanking mechanics.  This give defender style characters a mechanic the stops the squishies from squishing.  If a DM wanted to in previous editions he could just move past the front line and turn the mages into pate.  I really liked it.  I say preserve it.

Roles are gone without a trace, because apparently metamechanics aren't allowed anymore. The concept of the Defender has been reduced to a Theme called Guardian, which roughly mimics 4e's Mark mechanic. 

The Fighter in the playtest does not possess this Theme. One of the Clerics does.

- Healing surges.  While not great it allowed 4th ed to keep hit dice but reduced the need for dedicated healers.  The biggest weakness of 1 through 3.75 ed was the need for dedicated healers.  Healing surges helped simulate a characters ability to recover stamina after each fight.  It could use some tweaking but ultimately I liked it.

Gone without a trace, replaced by a Hit Die mechanic that is a pale and ineffective imitation. These characters are more durable than 3.0 characters, but only just. Also, random rolls for HP and healing are back.

- At will abilities.  Only in as much as it gives mages/clerics a mechanic to cast basic spells outside the 'fire and forget' mechanic.  If it could be implemented well for all classes then that would be great.  I guess at wills for fighters that mimic say 'power-attack' and 'expertise' feats then that would work well also.

The design team was apparently caught totally off-guard by the idea that Wizards and Clerics actually wanted to, y'know, cast spells in combat, instead of whack enemies with maces or shoot them with crossbows. At-will spells are in, but in a much-reduced form from 4e. Additionally, it's possible to pick up at-will spells even if you're not a spell-caster by taking the appropriate Theme. 

The designers keep claiming they're working on some kind of "combat maneuver" system for martial characters Fighters and Rogues, but it's been six months and all we've seen is a Fighter that can only do two things ("move" and "attack"), and a Rogue that is laughably inept in a fight. If this theoretical system materializes at all (I frankly doubt it will), I expect it to look like a hybrid of 4e Essentials Martial characters and the old Book of Nine Swords stuff. 

- Leaders.  Not a bad idea for a new catagory of classes although the forgoing your own attack to give someone else one was a bit lame.

Gone without a trace, as is most in-combat healing. No Second Wind, no 2/encounter Healing Word (Healing Word still exists, but it's a regular 1st level spell). In-combat healing is 3rd Edition to a T, including coming from absolutely no source other than Clerics and potions.

I was encourageds to read a quote from EN World from one of the developers which was that "Skill chalenges should die in a fire".  I totally agree.

Skill Challenges were a good idea poorly executed. I would say I'll miss them, except the version I use has very little to do with what's printed in the books, and I plan to continue using them anyway.

3rd Ed
- My personal opinion was that this was the pinacle of DnD.  The rules flowed well and made sense.  It was similar enough to 2nd Ed that players could pick it up easily.  Here's what I would not use from 3rd ed though.
Here comes the part where I spend an hour re-wording myself so I don't get banned for edition-warring.

- Trip/sunder/grapple/bull-rush/disarm mechanics.  Don't get me wrong I see why people would like to know how these things might work and on their own they work well enough.  The problem as I see it is that no-one uses them anyway or if they do they cheeze up a whip character that trips and disarms titans with ease at 1st level which just annoys the rest of the players.  Either get rid of them or don't let people specialise in them.

Currently absent. Remember that vaporware "combat maneuver" system I mentioned? Expect these to be part of that, if it happens.

- Sorcerers.  Worst idea to date, or at least worst implemented idea ever.  Basically take everything about the wizard that makes it interesting, take it away, give it almost zero versatility but allow someone to cast fireball 15 times a day.  I'm not holding my breath but I'd either like to see the sorcerer gone or see it's combat effectiveness reduced dramatically.

If you don't like a class, don't play one. The Sorcerer was another good idea poorly executed, in 3e. I think 4e made him feel sufficiently different from the Wizard that the two coexisted comfortably, both in terms of flavor and function.

- Crafting - I initially loved it but I see the point that magic items have been devalued from 2nd ed.  Unfortunately the rules for crafting in 2nd Ed basically made it not worth doing.  There needs to be a middle ground.  Maybe potions and scrolls can stay as they are but maybe have craft wonderous kick in at 9th level and the rest staggered after this.  I want magic to feel like a reward again.

We haven't seen any rules at all for this yet, but there's been a lot of talk by the designers about "making magic items magical again". Given the lack of a crafting system (actually untrue, not that anybody cared) was one of the loudest complaints about 4e, I expect it will be possible to build an entire character who is completely about crafting instead of adventuring. 

- I am probably in the minority but I feel that polymorph and fly spells need to be bought back to the levels they were at in 2nd and 3.0 ed.  It should be left to DMs to curb their combat potency but there was nothing more awesom than being able to fly for hours at a time or turn into a gryphon and carry your mates to the next city.

Again, primary and noisy complaint about 4e, so I expect to see them back. We have hints that summoning is going to work like 3e, so I expect to see the other unbalanceable I-Win Button spells back in action as well. 

- Buffs need to be 1hour/level again.  No not all of them, but definately some of them.  Pathfinder mage them all 1min/level which means you cast most of them in combat which also means they are often not worth casting.  I never found bull's strength that OP at 1 hour/level but maybe that's just me.  Maybe tweak their power, make them personal, etc but make them give me a bonus that doesn't need to be cast 5 times a day.

Currently spell durations work like 3e. Actually, the entire magic system is very 3e. That said, the designers are putting a huge emphasis on keeping derived calculations and little numerical modifiers out of the game, so I'll be surprised if we see buff spells apply a static stat bonus. More likely (at least I hope), is bull's strength will be something like "you have advantage on strength checks and contests for the next hour".

- Power curves.  I don't need my mage and rogue to have the same power footings, infact I NEED them to be different.  Rogues tend to not be educated and spend time stealing as they grow up (broad generalisation).  Mages forgoe childhoods and physical endeavours to study magic.  If magic isn't any better, then why bother?  It also adds strategy.  Mages are your glass cannons, warriors your shields, everything else your utility.  I want high powered high level mages.  Please bring them back.

The Fighter is 100% reliable and will win encounters by himself. He literally doesn't even need to roll any dice to kill a Kobold. The Rogue is laughably useless in combat and is better off just waiting in the hallway while the Fighter does all the work. The Wizard is extremely fragile and not all that useful in a Fight. The Pelorite Cleric is a better Wizard than the Wizard, AND can hold his own on the front lines. The Moradin Cleric inflicts disadvantage on one enemy/round who attacks a friendly adjacent to him, and hits things with his hammer, and is much tougher than the Fighter.

The playtest material appears to be exactly what you want. Ironic, then, that the effect is exactly the opposite of what you claim. The combat system isn't strategic at all, and neither is it tactically interesting. The Fighter and the Cleradin walk up and hit people, except the Cleradin heals himself for 1d6 2/day and the Fighter never misses. The other Cleric and the Wizard stand in a corner and zap people, except the Cleric heals someone for 1d8+3 2/day and the Wizard just keels over dead the first time an enemy archer so much as looks in his direction. The Rogue waits outside.

Between the oversimplified combat rules (no OAs, no flanking, no push/pull/slide/shift, no Minor/Swift actions, no Interrupts, no Action Points, no Encounter powers for spellcasters, no powers at all for nonspellcasters, no Roles, no Power Sources, no grid rules) and the heavy focus on DM-permission improvisation in the rules, it reminds me of WoD's system in all the wrong ways.
Wizards needs to lose the micro-transaction model for DnD. Essentially, no matter how good this new edition is, if it has 4 player's handbooks I'm not buying it and I'm sure a lot of people would agree.

That's hardly a microtransaction model. I personally prefer having the player material be kept separate from the DM material, but I do agree that WotC's business model of a book a month for the life of the game is ultimately what ruined both 3rd and 4th editions. They literally wrote themselves out of material, and started putting out crap just to fill pages.

Make the players handbook big, make it cost $70+, but I don't want 2-4 of them.  Especially when it's obvious that content was withheld from the 1st one to put in a 2nd one 3 months later.  No thankyou.

You know, the $80 price tag on the Deathwatch rulebook is the only reason I don't own it. I can't justify that for any RPG book.

Also I want electronic books.

So does everyone else. I think this is the one thing everyone around here agrees on. WotC snubbing DriveThruRPG and similar places four years ago is a mistake they're still (literally) paying for. 

I want a way to coalate all my books into one reference document (like Herolab for instance) so that I don't need 15 of them to make a character.

We've had that for four years now. It'd called D&D Insider. Look it up on the main page.

Whether or not the tools Insider provides are any good, and whether it's worth the money, are a matter of debate.

It's the 21st century.  This shouldn't be too hard.

All evidence in the last six months indicates that statement is false. WotC is acting like it's 1999 again, and they're designing a game like it's 1999 again too.

Tragically, I think that's what people actually want. I am utterly unable to understand why.

I agree with everything you said EXCEPT for healing surges.  I was not a fan of them.  A DM can easily make adjustments for not having a dedicated healer.  Maybe place more potions, or alter the rest mechanics.

I'm not in 100% agreement on 3e being the pinnacle of D&D.  I think the most well-thoughtout, best designed D&D video games came out during that time. (3.x was a damn good computer ruleset)  It's tough to call any particular edition a pinnacle, but we both agree 4e was a step back.  That's probably what makes 3e feel like a pinnacle, is that there was a definite decline. (IMO, of course, others are entitled to their own opinions.) 
If you don't like a class, don't play one. The Sorcerer was another good idea poorly executed, in 3e. I think 4e made him feel sufficiently different from the Wizard that the two coexisted comfortably, both in terms of flavor and function.



The thing is it goes beyond personal preference.  Not only do I not like playing sorcerers, I don't like playing in or Gm'ing campaigns that have them.  The reason?  I really feel that the whole 'Balancebalancebalance' mantra of 4th ed stems from people liking sorcerer mechanics but subconsciously hating how they cast fireball every round all day while they hit for 1d8+3.  So to misquote you a bit:

" If you don't like a class, don't play one but zomg casters are way to overpowered in prevous editions and need to be nerfed"

Get rid of sorcerers and this perception gets diminished.  Wizards tend to have about one damage spell memorised at every level (maybe a couple at 3rd level) so they really need to decide when to unleash them.  Meanwhile the fighter has been unleashing 3 attacks a round (or more) doing 2d6+9.  At that point I fail to see the balance issues are all that big a deal.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />- Power curves.  I don't need my mage and rogue to have the same power footings, infact I NEED them to be different.  Rogues tend to not be educated and spend time stealing as they grow up (broad generalisation).  Mages forgoe childhoods and physical endeavours to study magic.  If magic isn't any better, then why bother?  It also adds strategy.  Mages are your glass cannons, warriors your shields, everything else your utility.  I want high powered high level mages.  Please bring them back.




I've only been playing since 4E, so I don't bring the knowledge you do, but this is the one point you've made I just can't get on board with. In all honesty, I think it comes from the fantasy tropes with which we are accustomed.


Yeah, there have never been suave, sophisticated thieves that come from upper class backgrounds and steal mainly for the excitement. Nor do thieves represent a general type of person, they are all street urchins. They can't be highly skilled secret agent types, because that would make them cool and competent, something reserved entirely for wizards.
/endsarcasm
Yeah, there have never been suave, sophisticated thieves that come from upper class backgrounds and steal mainly for the excitement. Nor do thieves represent a general type of person, they are all street urchins. They can't be highly skilled secret agent types, because that would make them cool and competent, something reserved entirely for wizards.

There have also never been any commoner barmaids with poor educations and no money from tiny middle-of-nowhere towns who have ever gone on to become massively powerful and influential Wizards.

OH WAIT.

Yeah, there have never been suave, sophisticated thieves that come from upper class backgrounds and steal mainly for the excitement. Nor do thieves represent a general type of person, they are all street urchins. They can't be highly skilled secret agent types, because that would make them cool and competent, something reserved entirely for wizards. /endsarcasm



You obviously missed what I said.  Here it is again:

"Rogues tend to not be educated and spend time stealing as they grow up (broad generalisation)"

I bolded the bit you missed.  The point is that in most cannon this is how most rogues come into being.  In 4th Ed this puts this character who's power is derived from skills learned to survive.  Wizards (besides sorcerers which I believe are a scourge on the game) seem to be bought up in scholistic environments spending 8 hours/day trying to decypher the arcane arts.  What's more is that in some settings, such as dragonlance, the majority then fail and never become wizards anyway.

In a sense I believe 4th ed places high school dropouts in the same productivity and earning capacities as people with doctorates.  While there is the odd exception, this is generally not the case in reality.

Then there is this argument that martial characters are somehow equally as dedicated to their art as magicians.  While I would personally state that I don't believe the levels of dedication are the same.  It also places all warriors into the 'Bushido code' type of warriors such as Samurai.  For the most part DnD is based on iron age warriors who more or less came of age, were given a weapon and some armour and then went off on a crusade/raid.  If they came back they had gained experience and learned how to fight, no tea ceremonies needed.

Yeah, there have never been suave, sophisticated thieves that come from upper class backgrounds and steal mainly for the excitement. Nor do thieves represent a general type of person, they are all street urchins. They can't be highly skilled secret agent types, because that would make them cool and competent, something reserved entirely for wizards.

There have also never been any commoner barmaids with poor educations and no money from tiny middle-of-nowhere towns who have ever gone on to become massively powerful and influential Wizards.

OH WAIT.




Well technically Shandril was not a Wizard, she just used Spellfire.

Member of the Axis of Awesome

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Homogenising: Making vanilla in 31 different colours
 
*snip*
The point is that in most cannon this is how most rogues come into being.  In 4th Ed this puts this character who's power is derived from skills learned to survive.  Wizards (besides sorcerers which I believe are a scourge on the game) seem to be bought up in scholistic environments spending 8 hours/day trying to decypher the arcane arts.  What's more is that in some settings, such as dragonlance, the majority then fail and never become wizards anyway.

In a sense I believe 4th ed places high school dropouts in the same productivity and earning capacities as people with doctorates.  While there is the odd exception, this is generally not the case in reality.

Then there is this argument that martial characters are somehow equally as dedicated to their art as magicians.  While I would personally state that I don't believe the levels of dedication are the same.  It also places all warriors into the 'Bushido code' type of warriors such as Samurai.  For the most part DnD is based on iron age warriors who more or less came of age, were given a weapon and some armour and then went off on a crusade/raid.  If they came back they had gained experience and learned how to fight, no tea ceremonies needed.




While I agree that people with higher degrees generally earn more, I don't necessarily agree with anything else you are saying. You paint stuff with some really broad strokes based on how you personally view things. Fighters are  just guys that have swords put in their hands and go bash things? Really?
Also, what is this mystical canon of fantasy literature that you keep referencing, as though it were a definitive collection of fantasy literature? Are you talking about Conan, because his world doesn't fit what you are saying. Neither does anything written by Michael Morrcock.  Or Tolkien. Or Lieber.

You make alot of statements about what you think fantasy means, then pigeon-hole people into your views. If they don't agree with you, apparently, it just isn't D&D or even the fantasy genre altogether.

Way to try to force everyone into your myopic view of how the world should run. 

Then there is this argument that martial characters are somehow equally as dedicated to their art as magicians.  While I would personally state that I don't believe the levels of dedication are the same.  It also places all warriors into the 'Bushido code' type of warriors such as Samurai.  For the most part DnD is based on iron age warriors who more or less came of age, were given a weapon and some armour and then went off on a crusade/raid.  If they came back they had gained experience and learned how to fight, no tea ceremonies needed.



That paradigm change started in 3e when the fighter was no longer the class chosen because your stats didn't qualify you for anything else. It shifted from the dumb brute with a chunk of metal to a skilled combatant. No longer is that town guardsman a Fighter he is a mere Warrior.

Fighters are now the product of years of specialised training.

The Cimmarians were wiped out at the start of the Conan Movies because the iron age warriors were attacked by Fighters.

It bring to mind the scene from 300 where Leonides is asking people from the other armies their profession & they are say Potter or Blacksmith then he asks the Spartians what their profession is & their response is War.

Though I do agree with you on the level of dedication being different.

If a Wizard slacks off in their training a bit they need to review a bit before advancing their knowledge.
If a Fighter slacks off in their training a bit they die.


- Power curves.  I don't need my mage and rogue to have the same power footings, infact I NEED them to be different.  Rogues tend to not be educated and spend time stealing as they grow up (broad generalisation).  Mages forgoe childhoods and physical endeavours to study magic.  If magic isn't any better, then why bother?  It also adds strategy.  Mages are your glass cannons, warriors your shields, everything else your utility.  I want high powered high level mages.  Please bring them back.



While we are at it bring back the leveling at different exp totals.

Thief 1250 to reach lvl 2; Magic User 2500 to reach lvl 2 sound familier