Convincing 4th Edition players to consider 5th Edition

This is not an original post, but sums up incredibly well how I, and I think most of 4E fanbase feel about 5E.
The original post is here - www.enworld.org/forum/new-horizons-upcom... - full credits to Neonchameleon.

Not sure if others have already linked it, but here it is.

And for WotC People viewing this, special emphasis on following line.
The design goal of D&D Next is to ensure that anyone can play their favoured version of D&D in D&D Next. So far for 4e players (WoTC’s only current customer base), this appears to be a miserable failure.

The post in entirety as follows :

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In the wake of Pedantic's interesting question "4th Edition - what is it really?" on RPG.net I decided to collate that thread into a single document with most of the reasons many of us favour 4e and on which 5e appears to simply not be delivering at present. And I'd like some help and advice as to anything I've missed.

(This is a work in progress with a master copy in Gdocs - feel free to comment there)

The design goal of D&D Next is to ensure that anyone can play their favoured version of D&D in D&D Next. So far for 4e players (WoTC’s only current customer base), this appears to be a miserable failure. A failure that is not helped by a regular apparent refusal of the D&D Next development team to acknowledge the way 4th edition worked starting with Monte Cook’s “Passive Perception” and most recently with Tom LaPille claiming that the Reaction action is a new thing when it is exactly the same as the 4e Immediate Reaction action, thus giving the impression that he either doesn’t know the rules of 4e or doesn’t care about them. I’m not sure which would be worse - either indicates that the D&D Next team doesn’t care about their only current customer base joining in with D&D Next. And a significant proportion of us have game loyalty rather than brand loyalty and so will not leave 4th to return to earlier, and in our opinion, worse editions of the game.

So here are a list of things 4e does that are, I believe, integral to the experience of playing 4e, and that D&D next appears to have avoided. I shall tackle each in turn, illustrating how each is a part of 4E, and then how it fails to materialise in the current drafts of D&D Next.


  • Balance - Power

  • Balance - Flexibility

  • Clear design and purpose

  • Clarity and Cohesion

  • Teamwork and tactics baked in to the system

  • Options and Variety in play

  • Ease of Play

  • Ease of DMing

  • Monster Design and Tactics



Balance - Power

Power balance is a huge thing in 4e but there are fundamentally two rules that need to be kept to for a system to be sufficiently balanced.


  • Each class needs to be the best at something

  • What each class is best at should come up regularly and not be made irrelevant



Part 1 means that if we have a class called “fighter” then that class must be the best at fighting. It should not be possible to switch them out for a cleric without anyone noticing much of a difference. 2e and even post-Unearthed Arcana 1e understood this; fighters gained Weapon Specialisation making them extremely lethal. In 4e there are very few classes (Seeker and Binder) that come to mind that are supernumeraries. And I don't have to look over the PCs character sheets before setting the challenges.

Part 2 means that being “best at climbing and jumping” probably isn’t worth bothering with if the wizard can cast fly (that said, “Wire-fu master” effectively means the same thing and the 4e Monk is an extremely nice class). More to the point, being ‘best at mundane hiding’ is somewhat pointless if the wizard can cast invisibility and has a vast array of other spells.

In the D&D Next Playtest we can already see the fighter having problems with power balance. The Warpriest with one casting of Crusader’s Strike and equalising stats, weapons, and themes, hits about as hard as the fighter. And is within one Healing Word of the fighter’s hit points. This means to put things very simply the Fighter is not best there is at what he does. He’s merely a rival for it - and a very clear design goal for the War Domain was to be as good at fighting as the fighter.

Balance - Flexibility

Balancing flexibility essentially means that every PC should be able to contribute something to almost every scene but no PC should be able to dominate all scenes. We don’t get the “Decker Problem” from Cyberpunk 2020 where when the Decker/Netrunner is hacking no one else is doing anything. This is a massive worry with Vancian casting when the Wizard can reset his spells from day to day - and hardly a worry at all with AEDU design.

Fundamentally this is hard to balance with primary spellcasters when you have different resource allocation rates. But it seems to barely have been tried in D&D Next. When the wizard gains spells he gains things like Charm Person, and the clerics things like Command and Silence. The fighter gains … nothing. They just gain the ability to Kill More Stuff. (The Rogue at least gains night vision which is a good start).

Clear Design and Purpose

How is everything meant to fit together? 4e is pretty obvious normally if you have the right kind of mind. Aspects like roles and power sources show you clearly what a class is meant to do - that said, aspects and power sources aren’t the only way to do it. A one or two sentence tag and then building everything around that would suffice. For the 4e Monk it would be “Wire-fu martial arts master.” For the fighter it would be “Warrior fast and skilled enough to exploit even the smallest openings”.

When there’s no central theme but merely a grab bag of abilities, the class normally fails. Good examples here are of both the 1e and 3.X monks, both of which fundamentally did not work as they didn’t know what they wanted to do (the 3.X monks being especially bad as the multiple attacks and the fast movement couldn’t work together). And then there was the failing by being too strong of the 3.5 Druid.

D&D Next does not appear to have this level of clarity. Mike Mearls himself has said they are not sure what to do with the fighter - and they are working on the idea of a second theme. The Guardian theme doesn’t focus on the how at all, to the point that both the Guardian feats use the same form of action and therefore can not be used together.

Teamwork and Tactics baked in to the system

In 4e the team is stronger than the group as individuals. Defenders can do much more damage if they have allies. Leaders, especially Warlords, revolve around teamwork, and controllers are masters of setting people up for someone else to bash - but can rarely win a fight on their own. The combat portion of the game is one of teamwork; the only people who don’t directly both empower and rely on others are strikers. And the skill challenge rules when used narratively encourage teamwork in a way simple skill checks don’t - each member should be working out how to bring what they are best at to assist in the task.

In D&D Next, there seems to be precisely one ability made explicitely to assist your allies - the Guardian’s Shield Block. Also there is one spell in the preview (Battle Psalm) that buffs the whole party. Beyond that, literally every other ability a character has is ‘selfish’. Teamwork, especially focus fire, may happen. But you aren’t encouraged to play a group of people who can bring more out of each other than they would bring to the party themselves. The fighter does his thing (bashing) as the wizard does his. And so far there’s no group skill challenge mechanic to encourage players to work together that way.

Options and Variety in Play

In 4e every character has a minimum of two at will attacks and one encounter power - and these can be fairly distinct. If you don’t want options you can stay in Poised Assault stance, or play an Elemental Sorceror whose combat choices are either “I burn him” or “I burn them”. But if you do, they can be as different as Direct the Strike from Brash Assault, or Storm Pillar from Freezing Burst. (For example see this fight montage using just at will powers).

This is compounded by 4e’s plethora of forced movement powers. A pit trap is not just an obstacle, it’s something to throw people in. A burning building is not just an obnoxious area to fight, but provides many ways to maneuver and make things hot for the enemy. And fighting on a narrow bridge, you are going to be trying to push each other off as you attack them. The environment really matters as something you don’t just walk around.

In D&D Next, the fighter just hits people. The rogue just stabs them (no exploiting Acrobat’s Trick and Acrobatics to show off with ‘Death From Above’ as in my example). One cleric mostly bashes enemies, the other mostly radiant lances them. Same old, same old. This is, quite frankly, tedious after 4th edition - and given the number of enemies in the Caves of Chaos and the escalated hit points, it’s grindy.

Ease of Play

With the single exception of Rituals, literally everything you need to play a 4e PC is on the character sheet other than a set list of conditions. Other than consulting the various Monster Manuals, I don’t think my 4e group has looked up a rule in play in the past year.

D&D Next returns to a long spell list, with the spells not on the character sheet. This can, of course, be fixed for the PCs with appropriate software. But will cause a lot of trouble for the DM with short statblocks.

Ease of DMing

Most of the time when DMing getting a good answer now is worth much more than the right answer later. Out of combat the Skill Challenge DCs provide an excellent rule of thumb for good DCs to use that will not break immersion and allow the game to continue without interruption. In combat I joke that I need three things to run a fight that’s interesting in its own right. 1: Interesting monsters, which the later monsters provide in spades. 2: A narrative hook for the fight (if there wasn’t one I wouldn’t be running a fight). 3: An interactive terrain feature or two - which in the case of 4e can be a simple pit or sheer hill to push monsters and/or PCs over, or a couple of patches of ice on the ground, or anything really.

D&D Next doesn’t give me quite such good generic guidelines (this can easily be fixed). The monsters are just plain dull so far - with the idea of giving all the interesting abilities to the ultra-tough leaders making taking out guards a snooze-fest, and almost every fight revolve round tactics of either “kill the leader” or “ignore the leader and defeat in detail” - neither being half as interesting as 4e. Without regular forced movement I need the interactive terrain to be active in its own right to be memorable and pivotal - a much harder proposition. Which means that the only part of interesting combats from 4e D&D Next hasn’t crippled is the narrative hook for the fight. The one that isn’t dependent on the rules.

Monster Design and Tactics

Monsters in 4e (at least in the later monster books) are distinctive and interesting. Kobolds and goblins, despite being physically quite similar, behave extremely differently just based on the statblocks. Goblins are sneaky ambushers who hide lots. Kobolds are slippery but often brave bastards who slide past all but the most skilled PCs and who have craftsmen (tunnellers) who still fight as opposed to all being brigands. And to win a 4e fight decisively, the thing to do is to prevent the monsters playing their game. It’s to melee the archers, to prevent the kobolds sliding past you, to keep the battle line at range, attack the lurkers when they appear, making sure you don’t get flanked by skirmishers, etc. A combat in 4e is therefore something to be solved as much as something to be powered through - with the enemy doing their combined best to break these solutions and solve the PCs strengths.

Monster statblocks in D&D Next generally appear to be ‘Small sack of hp’ (kobolds, rats), ‘Medium sack of hp’ (goblins), ‘Big sack of hp although smaller than a 1st level PC’ (orcs, hobgoblins), ‘Big beefy grunt’ (ogre), ‘Leader’. There’s almost no sense of solving the monsters strengths and making them play to their weaknesses (other than a ray of frost kite of a big monster). It’s all about powering through the enemy - you can’t neutralise the Kobolds advantage except by killing them, there’s no way to prevent Orcs from charging, or even the Hook Horror doing its thing. So D&D Next combat is a lot less interactive and just boils down to “kill them before they kill you” rather than "outsmart them to kill them more easily".The design goal of D&D Next is to ensure that anyone can play their favoured version of D&D in D&D Next. So far for 4e players (WoTC’s only current customer base), this appears to be a miserable failure.

I am Blue/White

Nice post, i still think the best direction is going for a completly diferent direction,  instead of going backwards or saying the same, but it's good to take in consideration those kind of aspects in a very objective way and not for nostalgia sake as most that defend their edition do.

All the aspects explained here are not specific mechanics, but game design goals after all in a very objective way (instead of: "i want it to be like it was back on the day") 
Great post, which WotC would listen. Still, I feel i'll be holding onto my 4E books as long as I'm holding my breath for D&D:Next to fit the style of game I prefer (meaning forever)
I have stuck with D&D edition 3.5 out of a sense of loyalty to the D&D name, rather then move over to Pathfinder.  As I have mentioned previously, I did not like 4.0, it just did not resonate with me, and ven more so, did not resonate with my gaming group.  When all 6 of us looked at 4th Edition and just did not feel it worked for us, well, that was saying something.  

So another issue is how to get those of us that are 3.5ers or Pathfinders onboard?  Well, including us in this playtest has been a great idea, I feel really good about 5.0.  Yes, I do see some things of concern: It seems to have a very basic feel to it, which I understand if you want new players to get into it.  But for someone whom will be celebrating their 25th year of RPGing very soon, and has played in beginning type games, well, I do want more.  Which 3.5 offered us in spades.

I feel very optimistic that we are going to get a good product.   
I have stuck with D&D edition 3.5 out of a sense of loyalty to the D&D name, rather then move over to Pathfinder.  As I have mentioned previously, I did not like 4.0, it just did not resonate with me, and ven more so, did not resonate with my gaming group.  When all 6 of us looked at 4th Edition and just did not feel it worked for us, well, that was saying something.  

So another issue is how to get those of us that are 3.5ers or Pathfinders onboard?  Well, including us in this playtest has been a great idea, I feel really good about 5.0.  Yes, I do see some things of concern: It seems to have a very basic feel to it, which I understand if you want new players to get into it.  But for someone whom will be celebrating their 25th year of RPGing very soon, and has played in beginning type games, well, I do want more.  Which 3.5 offered us in spades.

I feel very optimistic that we are going to get a good product.   



Awesome. Now, what does that have to do with the original post?

Actually if I read Mearl's twitter messages correctly even the developers know that appealing to the 4e fanbase so far has been, quite frankly, a failure, and they are aware of it.  Thus his statement does in fact seem to be correct.

-Polaris
The bad news is that first impressions are powerful; while I'd consider myself to be someone who's giving Next a chance and taking a wait-and-see attitude, I wouldn't call my first impressions particularly positive. That doesn't mean that I think Next's playtest is some kind of garbage abombination; I thought it was kind of fun to run through. "Kind of fun", however, is not the bar I have for RPG systems; for better or for worse I only have so much time, so for me to want to use an RPG system (especially a non-free one) it has to be one of the ones that I like the very best, and Next's initial playtest doesn't seem to be heading remotely in that direction. I'm definitely much less excited about Next than I was when it was first announced.

The good news is that there's time. We don't know how much time, but realistically a lot of time. There's lots of time to convince me that Next is the system for my D&D-style needs. There's especially an enormous amount of stuff that we haven't seen yet, and in fact most of the launch product (depending on how you measure) probably doesn't even really exist yet. The devs have time to make a product that's cool enough that I'd choose something like it as a primary gaming system I'd use. They have time to figure out how to do that. At the risk of sounding snarky, they have time to rediscover and reimplement 4e's solutions to certain things, as they've already done in a few places.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
No, he's 100% wrong.

Because 4e players are nowhere near WoTCs only customers.

I agree that first impressions count, and a lot. That is what makes people buy the books, and player reviews are what sells the edition to new players. Anything that is not interesting at the start, Players will not sit down to understand the more subtle / refined nuances.

My experience with D&D started with CRPGs. It goes back to 2.5E, playing some early D&D games like EOB3 and then my favourite ever BG2. First was AD&D (effectively 2.0E) and second was 2.5E. I enjoyed the tactical aspect of group management in computer games, and NWN turned me off, since I had less party members to control, and only a few classes I considered viable, ie. Multiclass Caster Classes (eg. Thief/Mage, Mage/Fighter, etc). They were not bad or weak, just in my mind, boring to play. 4E made all the Classes have fairly interesting tactical options.

When D&D Next Playtest was released, I went over the Playtest Packages information eagerly... and found nothing compelling in them, in fact it looked a lot like 3.5E Rules. The first thing I looked at was Combat Mechanics (essentially unchanged) followed by Spells which were in the same PDF. These were basically, been there, done that. Advantage was a Reroll, which while interesting at lower levels, makes me wonder about its scaleability up. I also noticed a degree of recurrence of Save Mechanics, one of the things I detested about D&D, even in CRPGs where a Reload was in order.

Classes weren't really included, more about making sense of the provided Character Sheets. Nothing really stood out, except the HD thing got me excited for a bit. Then I realised what it was - HEALING SURGES! Oh yes, Healing Surges (one of the things quite hated from 4E after you actually play a while and realise how it forces everyone to Extended Rests) were back, only LESS dependable and, even better, only usable Out of Combat (First Aid Kit). Take the worse from 4E and make it even more restrictive and less reliable, oh yes. So much for actually "Defending".. but oh well, that is but a 4E concept. Just one that is Better than Healing Surges, methinks.

I like 4E more than Pathfinder, but having tried Pathfinder Lv 1 once with a Cleric in my party, and without limited HD per day, I feel strongly that this is definitely not going to outshine Pathfinder.

Before the Playtest, I was quite excited and enthused about 5E. Since then, I doubt I will be really thinking about it, I'm more thinking about how to houserule my ongoing 4E game to bring it up to the next level.

I am Blue/White

No, he's 100% wrong.

Because 4e players are nowhere near WoTCs only customers.



True that, I think not least because Magic the Gathering still accounts for a large portion of WotC's profit.
What do they have to do with this topic, anyway?

And "loyalist" earlier edition players who tolerate 4E or simply stick to 3.5E based on earlier published material, while waiting for Next.
After those who left turned to PF, are these the majority? Minority? Only WotC knows if they did a Straw Poll?

I am Blue/White

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The original post left out Cinematic Action as one of the core concepts of 4E
...whatever
I think it would be good for D&D if there were threads like this one for every Edition the game had, compiling and summarizing the concepts and goals the players find this edition did best than the others.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
I think it would be good for D&D if there were threads like this one for every Edition the game had, compiling and summarizing the concepts and goals the players find this edition did best than the others.



Yes, but I'd just suggest we should try to express what we liked in a given edition, assessing it as a game by itself, not comparing it with other editions, as that inevitably leads to edition warring.

I like 4E balance, not 4E being more balanced than x edition     

I think it would be good for D&D if there were threads like this one for every Edition the game had, compiling and summarizing the concepts and goals the players find this edition did best than the others.



Yes, but I'd just suggest we should try to express what we liked in a given edition, assessing it as a game by itself, not comparing it with other editions, as that inevitably leads to edition warring.

I like 4E balance, not 4E being more balanced than x edition     




What I suggest is that players that liked much a given edition should try to summarize what was good (for them) in this edition, not comparing it to any other. In this way, we would have a list of "concept analysises" we/the designers could then use as a basis to determine what 5E should be, how the core should be thought, what would be the main modules, etc.
Edition warring only leads to the repetition of the "winning" edition, not to the birth of a new one.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.

I think a better course of action would to continue 4e support through additional adventures, the occasional source book and DDI.  If interest in 4e wanes, then slowly let it fade in favor of the new edition.  If 4e survives or gains popularity, then they have a fallback in case 5e tanks, or, if both are successful, a win-win.

What WotC needs to drop is the idea of, "Here is the new edition and you will play this new edition and only this new edition."  This mentality is a good part of what lead to the 3e/4e schism.  There is no reason that fans of the current 4e have to be left in the dust, so to say.
I am a fan of D&D and a WOTC customer.  While I quit playing 4e after a year, I am still here on these boards eager to see 5e and I plan on buying it if it is good.  I'm a customer.  Just because I stopped buying things I didn't like doesn't mean I'm gone forever.  I also bought a lot more 4e than I should have.  So technically I'm in the bought 4e crowd.  In fact I bet I bought more than many "fans" of 4e just because I tend to buy a lot.

Now if WOTC said that 4e design was their approach to gaming and that they weren't going to change then I'd know where I stand.  I could just move on to Pathfinder or some retroclone.  But they haven't said that.

I appreciate the concise points the poster made.  There are pros and cons to some of the things mentioned.  Every monster being special, and every battle requiring special terrain did make combats really long.  I think that if they provide a variety of monsters, some with and some without this should make all sides happy. 
Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.



I just want to point out that the same was said in the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition. Yet many of us 2nd edition fans did switch and did enjoy 3rd as well.

For me, the sad part of some of these conversations is the harsh and negative tone. This OP was a well thought out and clear diacription of what they liked about 4th. I found this post very useful in trying to understand some of the arguments that I have read.
Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.



I just want to point out that the same was said in the switch from 2nd to 3rd edition. Yet many of us 2nd edition fans did switch and did enjoy 3rd as well.

For me, the sad part of some of these conversations is the harsh and negative tone. This OP was a well thought out and clear diacription of what they liked about 4th. I found this post very useful in trying to understand some of the arguments that I have read.


Yeah, I remember the switch from 2e to 3e, for I was one of the 2e holdouts.  The fact was, 3e really stomped 2e in popularity and I had to adopt 3e due to the fact that most of my friends wanted to play 3e.  This was not the case for 4e for me.  In a circle of about 30 or so gamers, myself and 2 others have favorable opinions about 4e.  The rest despise it.  For whatever reasons, the gaming public largely embraced 3e, but split when it came to 4e.

As far as harshness and negativity goes, all I can say is welcome to the WotC forums.  They have been this way since at least 2008 (when I joined) and is showing no sign of stopping.

I personally think continuing to produce 4e product, even if in a limited fashion, is the way to go.  If WotC thinks reprinting AD&D is a good business move, then continuing support for 4e can most certainly be feasible.  And yes, if 5e can appeal to 4e fans, then those fans will adopt the new edition.  So far, from what I have seen, 5e really does seem to be a bit of a blast to the past.  The 2e grognard in me is rejoicing, but I can surely sympathize with how some of the 4e fans are feeling right now.


Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.

I think a better course of action would to continue 4e support through additional adventures, the occasional source book and DDI.  If interest in 4e wanes, then slowly let it fade in favor of the new edition.  If 4e survives or gains popularity, then they have a fallback in case 5e tanks, or, if both are successful, a win-win.

What WotC needs to drop is the idea of, "Here is the new edition and you will play this new edition and only this new edition."  This mentality is a good part of what lead to the 3e/4e schism.  There is no reason that fans of the current 4e have to be left in the dust, so to say.


Hear Hear! Well said  

In my Table Top game, I'm trying to figure out what I / we disliked about 4E and to fix it with House Rules.
For example, we've now moved to Encounter Surges, approx (Daily Surges + 1)/ 3 or so, and dumped Endurance rules, to make the workday longer and more tactical gameplay in the group. Due to a civilised setting they were theoretically able to Extended Rest between most Encounters by taking their own sweet time to do something.
I've also done some things to remove Feat Tax and increase Ease-of-Optimisation with a few Custom feats that generally provide easy-to-find Role Optimisation Feat references.

Now trying to look at the Damage scalling etc to see how to make things smoother and make combat run faster. Its still a work in progress, but I'd like to think that if we put our heads together, Players & DMs (and Community as well) we can improve most of the "problems" with an edition.

And since WotC wants to woo back the rest of the playerbase, they should carry on with 5E but not impose it on us who enjoy playing 4E.

I am Blue/White

Kishri, I agree with you 100%. As a pretty big fan of 4E, it's hard for me to see the beneifts D&D:Next claims to be promoting. I read most of the articles up til about a month ago. Some of the design changes sounds really interesting and I was sort of looking to DDN as a E6-style 4E game, where things don't grow to ridiculous levels of abuse and where magic is mysterious and fantastic (not that it can't be done in 4E) and not baked into level progression.

But then I read some articles where the Designers don't even seem to care (like the 5-min work day). Additionally, the push for "DM Empowerment" is somewhat misguided IMO. I never, as a DM, felt powerless over characters or the game or the system rules. Maybe this was more of a problem with organized play? Regardless, the verbage of the character sheets that say "Upon DM permission, you may level up to 2nd level" really pissed me off, as if I had to have some sort of permission. Sorry, but no thanks.
@Zyraen, I hope you find your balance with 4e.  It is a good system and if you and your players like it, why dump it?  Now, if you find you like 5e, you can play that too.  I never understood the idea that we have to play just one system.  After All, I play Pathfinder as well as SLA Industries and Deadlands, so why is the idea of playing 2 editions of D&D so radical?

@Diffan, I think part of the DM empowerment issue is a backlash against a surge of rules lawyering.  While 4e's "Say yes" mantra often gets the blame for this, it really began with 3e thanks to its vague and often arbitrary rules.  I know I experienced that exact problem during a portion of my 3e career as a DM long before 4e was released.

Sadly, I never was able to get a 4e game off the ground.  From what I can tell, it really didn't have any empowerment issues at all.  In fact, since it is well designed, it is probably more empowering for DMs since everybody knows exactly where they stand.
It's unfortunate that this whole mess got started due to WoTC's business practices. In order for them to keep selling books, they need to release new editions. That's their system.

Everything was well and good until they released 4th edition. 4th edition is really well designed, it was just unfortunately a large departure from previous editions.

A large amount of people like their D&D to be a certain style and so left. So now WoTC is trying to make a new version that captures that old style again.

I do feel bad for all the 4E people since I doubt there will be much carry-over between 4th and 5th. At least you still have all your books and can still play.

As someone who plays lots of dead RPG's, it's annoying, but not that bad.
It's unfortunate that this whole mess got started due to WoTC's business practices. In order for them to keep selling books, they need to release new editions. That's their system.

Everything was well and good until they released 4th edition. 4th edition is really well designed, it was just unfortunately a large departure from previous editions.

A large amount of people like their D&D to be a certain style and so left. So now WoTC is trying to make a new version that captures that old style again.

I do feel bad for all the 4E people since I doubt there will be much carry-over between 4th and 5th. At least you still have all your books and can still play.

As someone who plays lots of dead RPG's, it's annoying, but not that bad.


You have made a pretty fair assessment in my opinion.

Frankly, I am very curious to see how the end product of 5e is going to be.  Will it be total retro?  A hybrid?  Something new?  I am personally hoping it is a blend of good ideas from all editions, plus a couple new ones wrapped in a concise, clear, working and fun package.



@Diffan, I think part of the DM empowerment issue is a backlash against a surge of rules lawyering.  While 4e's "Say yes" mantra often gets the blame for this, it really began with 3e thanks to its vague and often arbitrary rules.  I know I experienced that exact problem during a portion of my 3e career as a DM long before 4e was released.

Sadly, I never was able to get a 4e game off the ground.  From what I can tell, it really didn't have any empowerment issues at all.  In fact, since it is well designed, it is probably more empowering for DMs since everybody knows exactly where they stand.



I hear you on the rule-laywering thing and saw it myself in my 3E days (hells, I've been that guy) but with some understanding of social graces (like not arguing with the DM during play), a lot of problems can be resolved outside the actual game. Still, I don't think it was enough of a problem to take away all the specific tools PCs used to interact with the game-world and build characters without saying "hey DM, may I please do this??!"

And if your ever in the Pittsburgh, PA area (if your from the U.S.) look me up and we'll have a good 4E game! Laughing


Everything was well and good until they released 4th edition. 4th edition is really well designed, it was just unfortunately a large departure from previous editions.



Really, it wasn't. I could make about a dozen strong comparisons between 4th Edition and 3rd Edition but I doubt that'd change anyone's opinion on 4E. Suffice to say that 4E's early departure was based on a LOAD of factors to which the game changes were only a minor part of, IMO.


A large amount of people like their D&D to be a certain style and so left. So now WoTC is trying to make a new version that captures that old style again.



At the possible cost of their current fan-base. The saying goes: "If you don't learn from history, your doomed to repeat it." Isn't losing thier current fan-base exactly what happend when they went to 4th Edition? The only difference is (and this might save them) that 4E fans don't have access to a fully publicated company to keep producing 4E material. So instead I'll just make my own and keep to the books produced.


I do feel bad for all the 4E people since I doubt there will be much carry-over between 4th and 5th. At least you still have all your books and can still play.



Apparently you didn't play that much 4E or you would recognize some strong 4E elements within D&D:next. The problem is, they're elements that most 4E fans might be able to live without. They're specific mechanics that are interesting but not the core fundamental aspects 4E fans really enjoy, fundamental elements found at the beginning of this thread. At-Will magic, Hit Die as healing, auto-damage melee attacks, themes, backgrounds, simplified Skill set, and Advantage are all aspects that primarily started with 4E and now lend into D&D:Next. But I would trade any one of them for more options, more character tactical depth, more flavor, more complexity, etc.
@Diffan, If I weren't out here in Nevada I would gladly take you up on that offer! Smile
It depends on if 4th ed players can be convinced that the issues they have with the game can be fixed with a rehashing of basic - 3rd ed rules, because thats whats on offer.
Really, it wasn't. I could make about a dozen strong comparisons between 4th Edition and 3rd Edition but I doubt that'd change anyone's opinion on 4E. Suffice to say that 4E's early departure was based on a LOAD of factors to which the game changes were only a minor part of, IMO.



I wasn't referring to the rules per sae, more of the direction of the rules. You could say that the move from 1st edition to 3.5 follows a certain pattern that 4e deviates from dramatically. Not that it's a bad thing, it just went against the expectations of a whole slew of people.

At the possible cost of their current fan-base. The saying goes: "If you don't learn from history, your doomed to repeat it." Isn't losing thier current fan-base exactly what happend when they went to 4th Edition? The only difference is (and this might save them) that 4E fans don't have access to a fully publicated company to keep producing 4E material. So instead I'll just make my own and keep to the books produced.



Very true, but the styles are so entirely different that I don't think they could make either group happy. If they tried to please everyone it would end up being a terrible, terrible game. It seems that WoTC feels they will get more support by going after the people who didn't like 4E. Why? I don't know. But that seems to be the direction they're moving in.

Apparently you didn't play that much 4E or you would recognize some strong 4E elements within D&D:next. The problem is, they're elements that most 4E fans might be able to live without. They're specific mechanics that are interesting but not the core fundamental aspects 4E fans really enjoy, fundamental elements found at the beginning of this thread. At-Will magic, Hit Die as healing, auto-damage melee attacks, themes, backgrounds, simplified Skill set, and Advantage are all aspects that primarily started with 4E and now lend into D&D:Next. But I would trade any one of them for more options, more character tactical depth, more flavor, more complexity, etc.



Yep. Not a fan of 4E. To be fair, I'm not a fan of 3/3.5 either. I still play 2E and I play a lot of 3.5. ('cause that's what my current group likes - ARGH) I mostly play non-D&D games, 'cause I've always thought that D&D had one of the worst rulesets around in any edition. What made D&D great though, is that pretty much everyone has played it. It was a good bridge game. It was one game where you could grab any roleplayer from anywhere and they pretty much knew what's going on. It had a similar feel and style that was taken away with 4E. They've just come to expect a certain style with D&D, and will stamp their feet if it's anything but that.

I think that currently WoTC and D&D is going through an identity crisis. 4E wasn't as popular as they hoped and Pathfinder ate up a ton of their previous customers. Whether 4E had great rules or not, it doesn't make a difference. The majority of people who've played D&D, (which aren't 4E people) like things such as Vancian, magic being stupid powerful, etc. WoTC has it in their minds that if they make a game that all those people (ex-D&D players) want to play, all of their problems will magically be over. I am of the opinion that pandering to an old audience is a bad idea, but here we are.

I feel that if you're going to make a new edition of an RPG, you should really make A NEW EDITION, otherwise, what's the point? Some people will argue that it is new. I don't think so. It's basically taking elements from every other version of D&D and trying to smash them together into a coherent game. I wish they set out to make something wholly different from any other previous version. Like what they did with WFRP 3rd edition. If you're not going to completely change how it's played, why release a new edition at all? Why not just make supplements for your old edition?

I'm curious how it's all going to turn out, but even if it turns out awesome I probably won't buy a copy. If I ever need a D&D "fix", I've still got my dumptruck full of 2E books.

It depends on if 4th ed players can be convinced that the issues they have with the game can be fixed with a rehashing of basic - 3rd ed rules, because thats whats on offer.



If it is a strict rehash, than that simply isn't possible. However, if it basic - 3.x mechanics are meshed with core 4e philosophies, then we might be in business.

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Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.

I think a better course of action would to continue 4e support through additional adventures, the occasional source book and DDI.  If interest in 4e wanes, then slowly let it fade in favor of the new edition.  If 4e survives or gains popularity, then they have a fallback in case 5e tanks, or, if both are successful, a win-win.

What WotC needs to drop is the idea of, "Here is the new edition and you will play this new edition and only this new edition."  This mentality is a good part of what lead to the 3e/4e schism.  There is no reason that fans of the current 4e have to be left in the dust, so to say.


This is true. Had WotC taken this approach with 4e/3e then Pathfinder might not have gained so much momentum. For 4e support, in addition to the occasional adventure (and in fact someone in another thread pointed out that many adventures could be edition-neutral, the fluff certainly is and an appendix at the end could give you the mechanics for your edition of choice) and splat, they should to a set of reprints like they did for 1e. This would be a great time to consolidate the mess they created with all the errata and publish clean core books that are up to date and aren't likely to change now that it's not the flagship line.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.


This is true. Had WotC taken this approach with 4e/3e then Pathfinder might not have gained so much momentum. For 4e support, in addition to the occasional adventure (and in fact someone in another thread pointed out that many adventures could be edition-neutral, the fluff certainly is and an appendix at the end could give you the mechanics for your edition of choice) and splat, they should to a set of reprints like they did for 1e. This would be a great time to consolidate the mess they created with all the errata and publish clean core books that are up to date and aren't likely to change now that it's not the flagship line.


I agree and I could get behind that.  The beauty of your proposal is that surely there are enough 4e fans that would buy it and it might gain a few more fans in the process.  Since most of the material is already designed, I can't see such a publication being a huge expense to produce.  I would probably buy that book.

Very good thoughts about 4E in the OP. WoTC please read it.

About keeping support for 4E, If they have the goal to make 5E the one edition to unite all, it won´t be necessary.

But if they go in the direction it seems they are going, making 5E a retro D&D. Keeping suport for 4E would be the smart move. Keep the digital Tools; keep publishing less but great stuff. I see no reason for WotC not wanting to keep their current fan base.

Another think I cannot understand is why WoTC would simply ditch 4E audience making a game with zero appeal to this group. I know people keep repeating that Pathfinder outsells D&D, but are they betting their money that all that people are coming back? I think it´s a risky decision to give up current customers to catch old ones, and it shows WoTC lack of commitment with the current customers. It was shown in the (poor) transition from 3E to 4E. I cannot believe they are going over the same pattern again. 


I don´t see with a lot of enthusiasm the fact that many aspect of the playtest up until now ignore feedback from 4E players. However, it's still early; I still think it’s time for making 5E great. It just doesn´t seem likely to happen due to what we are seeing right now. But I heard from people who played the 1st playtest that it improved a lot in the 2nd one. Let’s see the next rounds.

Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  



The real question is why would somebody who simply prefers 4E over earlier editions switch to 4E? 5E isn't even rising to that level. 
...whatever
No, he's 100% wrong.

Because 4e players are nowhere near WoTCs only customers.



True that, I think not least because Magic the Gathering still accounts for a large portion of WotC's profit.
What do they have to do with this topic, anyway?

And "loyalist" earlier edition players who tolerate 4E or simply stick to 3.5E based on earlier published material, while waiting for Next.
After those who left turned to PF, are these the majority? Minority? Only WotC knows if they did a Straw Poll?

What about all of us that weren't even interested enough in 3.x once we got a look at it to buy anything and are back for 4e? Me and my friends go all the way back to the earliest days of D&D. We LIKE 4e. We play it, we buy it. LONG ago we were done with the limitations and foibles and just plain design issues that the original D&D game brought forward with it all the way up through 3.5. It was a FINE game, but here we are, wanting to stay paying customers after a long hiatus (honestly the 4e PHB1 was the first WotC D&D product I ever bought).

I know it is fashionable to discount all the people that like 4e like we can go out with the trash, sorry guys. Here in my little neck of the woods there are what, 8 of us actively playing, using DDI, etc? I know for a fact that we'll buy 5e product if it meets our needs. If not, well, we had been playing other games for 10 years. There are plenty of them, but I note that WotC doesn't make them...
That is not dead which may eternal lie
The original post left out Cinematic Action as one of the core concepts of 4E

That is a very good point. WotC seems to have really had a hard time even realizing just how AMAZING 4e can be for that.

Back in the AD&D days the fighter, toughest guy around pretty much, started out with maybe 10 hit points. Was my fighter going to go leap over the 10' deep chasm to get to the orcs? Heck no! There wasn't even an exact rule for how far he could jump (3e managed to fix that, only took 25 years). He sure wasn't going to risk taking fatal amounts of damage even if it MIGHT give out some nice payoff. No, you'd stand back and plink with your bow or chuck javelins.

Solid core rules that easily cover almost any action you want to take plus characters that have reserves and some reasonable durability, plus the ease with which the basic power concept can be adapted to things like terrain, traps, obstacles, etc. Fights in AD&D mostly looked like entering some cave of one shape or another and flanking the enemy or holding a choke point. My 4e fights are things like zooming through a mine in a minecart while fighting another minecart full of goblins, riding down a log flume into a sawmill to assault a bad guy while trying not to get thrown off by his minions, or trying to kill off a golem while it was going berzerk and collapsing stuff around/on you. Those are pretty TYPICAL sorts of 4e fights. Once in a blue moon you got something that cool back in the old days.

I think DDN COULD deliver that as well, but it is going to have to step it up to do so. There's going to have to be standardized power blocks for ease of use with terrain, standardized effects so terrain features will just work, shift of healing reserves back to the PC and away from a pool held by a mandatory healer, etc. It doesn't take a HUGE amount, but after having run through the DDN Playtest some clearly not all that stuff exists there now.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  



The real question is why would somebody who simply prefers 4E over earlier editions switch to 4E? 5E isn't even rising to that level. 



I don't know about that. I prefer 4e over earlier editions. 5e still needs some work. It needs to give martial characters a maneuver system, for example. All in all though, I like its chassis more than the chassis 4e provided. It feels more narrative. I think I will probably end up making the switch once a finished product is released. 
@Zyraen, I hope you find your balance with 4e.  It is a good system and if you and your players like it, why dump it?  Now, if you find you like 5e, you can play that too.  I never understood the idea that we have to play just one system.  After All, I play Pathfinder as well as SLA Industries and Deadlands, so why is the idea of playing 2 editions of D&D so radical?

@Diffan, I think part of the DM empowerment issue is a backlash against a surge of rules lawyering.  While 4e's "Say yes" mantra often gets the blame for this, it really began with 3e thanks to its vague and often arbitrary rules.  I know I experienced that exact problem during a portion of my 3e career as a DM long before 4e was released.

Sadly, I never was able to get a 4e game off the ground.  From what I can tell, it really didn't have any empowerment issues at all.  In fact, since it is well designed, it is probably more empowering for DMs since everybody knows exactly where they stand.

The goal of DnD Next is to unite the fanbase of all editions under one banner.  There's a few good reasons to do this from WoTC's point of view.  One, it encourages a large market base to purchase their content as they release it.  Second, a larger player base gives them more inertia to keep this edition kicking for a long lifespan.  Third, it provides DnD to be the big fish in a large ocean of RPG's.  Fourth, it enables Oranized Play to be available to more players and to be larger in scope.

These aren't necessarily ideas that I agree with.  The first two make definite business sense.  The third point is kinda iffy for me - I don't think there needs to be a winner in the RPG world.  More variety provides opportunities for neat mechanics and worlds to arrive on the scene.  Fourth, I kinda get because Organized Play can be a really fun thing.  It also provides DnD with a bigger presence at conventions, thus furthering WoTC's business goals.

From a player perspective though, there isn't all that much reason to switch editions.  Maybe you wanna just try something new, maybe you want to be part of Organized Play, maybe you are just a diehard DnD fan and want a quality product.  There are a wide variety of possible reasons to switch editions, but there are just as many reasons to stay.
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I do feel bad for all the 4E people since I doubt there will be much carry-over between 4th and 5th. At least you still have all your books and can still play.

As someone who plays lots of dead RPG's, it's annoying, but not that bad.



Actually it is, and the cynic in me wonders if this is part of the plan and WHY they are throwing the 4e players under the bus.  For the first time in RPG history, 4e is nearly completely digitalized.  It is nearly impossible to play a book legal game of 4e anymore without the online tools and even if you have all the books, trying to make characters with them (especially post essentials) is a monumental pain without the digital tools.

What's going to happen when 5e is published?  The 4e DDI will dissapear and the Wotc "game police" for the first time in history really will (in effect) be able to "take away our books" to make us play the "right" edition.

-Polaris
This is a very well written post.  It really does help capture WHY it feels so flat and boring playing 5e after 4e.

The forced movement and environmental hazards is a big part of it.  My group LOVES doing thier best to pile every enemy into a well/hole/whatever.  Usually followed by dumping a couple of gallons into the hole and setting it on fire.  Throwing people off bridges, awesome.  Trying to hold the line as sneaky types try to get past, awesome.

Goblins not being just weak things that have a little flavor text about being sneaky dirty green humanoids that perform basicly the same as a kobold, orc or any other sort of low level humanoid but sneaky little buggers that move around when you swing and miss at them.  Awesome.  Kobolds being dangerous because again they're sneaky little buggers and will shift all over the place and team up with sneak attacks and thrown pots of glue and fire.  Awesome.

Every character having awesome things to do... awesome!

I get that the biggest problem with 4e is not the game itself, if it was called something else it would have been more successful.  That said 5e looks to be a huge leap backwards to the patchwork, unbalanced and boring classes and mechanics.

5e may look like 2e, but 8e will look a lot like 4e. 
Why would a diehard fan of 4e switch to 5e?  After all, they currently have a game they love and enjoy.  There is simply no need for them to switch.  Therefore, trying to make 5e please them is likely to be a futile endeavor.  It might be able to be done, but I think the odds of actually pleasing staunch 4e fans is slim.

I think a better course of action would to continue 4e support through additional adventures, the occasional source book and DDI.  If interest in 4e wanes, then slowly let it fade in favor of the new edition.  If 4e survives or gains popularity, then they have a fallback in case 5e tanks, or, if both are successful, a win-win.

What WotC needs to drop is the idea of, "Here is the new edition and you will play this new edition and only this new edition."  This mentality is a good part of what lead to the 3e/4e schism.  There is no reason that fans of the current 4e have to be left in the dust, so to say.

Well, of course we could say the same about 3.5 or PF. Why would fans of those editions switch from a game they currently have and enjoy either? Making a 5e that caters to them or pleases them is no more or less likely to succeed. I'd point out again, I'm dropping money on 4e. Even though the flow of products has grown more slim there are still a number of items that are on my agenda to pick up. I'll subscribe to DDI until doomsday because it is awesome too. Previous edition fans that don't like 4e are already out the door. AT BEST not all of them will come back. Work started on 4e in 2005, so clearly there's been a perceived need at WotC to increase the customer base going back 7 YEARS. A 5e that is basically 3.5 over again just puts you back to where you were in 2005 when you started on 4e design. That seems unappealing to my business sense.

I don't know all the ins and outs of what would make a multi-edition strategy better or worse than a single-edition strategy. WotC is apparently going to offer some sort of 3.5 reprints. IMHO rather than develop a 5e that is a radical departure why not just reprint and continue to support 3.5 and make 5e an improved follow-on to 4e? 4e can be improved in numerous ways and I think about 99% of 4e fans would buy that game. At least some older edition fans would probably buy it too. The rest can buy reprinted and maybe updated 3.5 product. It makes just as much, if not more, sense IMHO than what you suggest.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I like 4e, but it had enough problems for me to be excited about a new edition of D&D.
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