Pros and Cons of Our Editions

Since D&D next is supposed to be trying to tie together the best features of each edition, and fix the errors everyone hated about their own edition, I'm interested to know what the successes and failures of what each edition were.

I've dabbled in every ruleset except 4e, with most of my experience in 3/3.5. What I loved about 3/3.5, was that although it was quite an involved ruleset, everything was basically a DC of some kind. You rolled d20 and tried to beat a number. You didn't have to look up a particular table or chart nearly as often as you had in 2e.

What I really didn't like, was trying to devise interesting encounters with the CR rules, or calculate experience. 3e's CR/EL system felt like shackles. Trying to have a balanced, mixed monster encounter was a nightmare, and I felt like it limited my storytelling. It was also quite difficult to tell if an encounter was REALLY going to be balanced, and it was a crapshoot when you actually played it. It also took FOREVER to generate a combat encounter or an NPC statblock.

I'm very interested to hear about other player's experiences with their favourite editions, but can we please do avoid bashing other editions, especially ones with which you have little or no experience. I'm much more interested to read about the success and failures of each edition, independant of the others.
Cool.  It's getting late, so I will have to make a full post later, but I'll be back.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
Keep in mind this is all subjective, but I'm a somewhat new player (started January of this year) and I've only played 4th edition, here are my pros and cons of that.

PROS

- Ease of DMing, coming up with encounters, etc. 

- Very new player friendly. I've read a bit of the 3.5 and 2nd edition handbooks, and they definitely aren't as coherent or as refined as 4th is set up.

- Team work is rewarded and expected. Every one in your party feels useful. 

CONS

- Classes feel rehashed and samey. Every class can equate their abilities with another class, and there not be too much difference.

- The scaling and pro-longed combat at higher levels. At the players current levels (13) in my campaign, they tell me that they actually dread combat because it drags on for so long.

- Take 10. I don't have much of an explaination on this other than personally I just think it's lame. Rolling dice and having the random factor is more fun in my opinion.

- The skill system. I think the skill system is too narrow, Thievery in particular. I like the idea of older editions (and Next as well) where it's split up into different aspects.

It's 5 AM where I am currently, so I'll add more when I think of some.
community.wizards.com/phoenix182/blog/20...



You don't like saving throws?

Many of your likes a flavor based while many of your dislikes are mechanical in nature.

EDIT: Also, what's the deal with the dislike of the 2 Weapon Fighting Ranger? Please explain what you like and dislike about the "4E core mechanic (d20 roll high)" (which was a third edition invention, not 4th).
I also noticed a lot of your likes are also dislikes for the same edition Pheonix. If you wouldn't mind summarising briefly your core likes/dislikes for each edition you've had significant experience with, I'd be interested to read that. That blog is fairly confusing though, particularly since I don't remember the details of half the things you've listed.

4e is my game. I personally like



  • Healing surges. No more walking band aid.

  • Team work is encouraged. Everyone gets involved.

  • Broad skill lists. No skill rank tracking.

  • Alignment is flavor (only). Also, the four-point grid (as opposed to the earlier nine-points).

  • The battle grid. It took some getting used to; once it clicked, I don't wanna go back.

  • AEDU and other 'rules in a box' approaches to game design.


My favorite class is Warlord. Kinda reminds me of the Paladin from earlier games (a longtime fave).

One thing that really drew me to 4e was the lore of the game. I love the idea of a 'points of light' setting, the new cosmology, the new take on races. It feels fresh and new, not the same ol', same ol'.

= = =

One drawback for me is the battle grid. It's especially nice for big fights but sometimes I just wanna turn it off. Longer combat doesn't bother me (I get into it), but sometimes a quick skirmish is in order.  Love/hate? ;)

I also miss Vancian casting. That prolly sounds contradictory, considering how I like AEDU ;). I dunno, it's just one of those things. Vancian isn't perfect by any means but it is D&D magic in my mind.

= = =

One of the things that I enjoy is being able to see things differently in my mind's eye, depending on what's happening in the game.  When my PC is exploring or talking with an NPC for instance, I see them as being face-to-face (first-person view).

When a fight happens, then my mind's eye pulls up and out for a more tactical view of the action (third-person view). This where the battle grid comes in.  My view switches back-n-forth this way, depending on what's going on.  I've noticed this technique used in lots of video games; it works especially well for me in 4e ;).
/\ Art
I actually have a couple of quick points/questions based on feedback so far:

I remember thinking when the ranger first came out with two weapon fighting, WHAT ON EARTH IS THE POINT OF THAT. It did seem very arbitrary. As time has gone on I've gotten used to it, but then now I do wonder, what is the role of a ranger in a system where fighters can be archers, benefit from light armour, and two use two weapon fighting, or whatever other system they feel like specing for. I've always thought of the ranger as a kind of fighter/rogue combo class, but I really don't know how it fits into the new system.

I've also ALWAYS struggled with alignment, for as long as I've been playing. The categories feel very arbitrary, with relatively little grey. The way I've come to understand it is more as how a character thinks of themselves, with regards to law/chaos, and how selfish or selfless they are, with regards to the good/evil axis. I always thought the TN category, for "balance" was a load of rubbish. I know it's a part of D&D that will never really change, but it seems like some kind of allegiance system or philosophy system would be more useful. Afterall, noone who is evil thinks of themselves as evil.

A question for 4e players: Does the current system of short/long rests with HD recovery function in a similar fashion to healing surges, even though you can't heal in battle? How does healing in the current playpacket FEEL to you guys?

2nd edition


PROS



  • Ease of character creation. I really like the pick a race, class and a kit and you’re good to go aspect of character creation.

  • Speed of combat.

  • Magic items. Magic items were rare and something to look forward to in the game.

  • Colorful game worlds.


CONS



  • Unclear rules (especially spells)

  • Overpowered spells at higher level.

  • Too much DM adjudication. I had some DMs tell me I can’t climb up a tree because I didn’t have a climb %, even with a dexterity score of 16…

  • Not enough DM guidelines.


3rd edition


PROS



  • Forgotten Realms.

  • D20 system.


CONS



  • Not enough DM adjudication/too many rules. You don’t need rules for pissing contests.

  • High level is nearly unplayable and was not properly tested. Broken math, broken spells, broken spell combos, too many dice to roll, etc… It just doesn’t work.

  • System mastery. Some options are so much better than the others that you end up not having options.


 4th edition


PROS



  • Semi-scientific approach to class balance. Mathematically models and computers to run them have been out for decades. What took them so long…

  • Streamlined rules.

  • Reasonably well balanced powers


CONS



  • Utility magic is too limited to my taste. I like it when magic is an integral part of the plot solving process.

  • Same rules are either too abstract or have no plausible explanation. I’m talking about stuff like martial dailies, hybrid rogues that can’t use sneak attack unless it’s with a rogue power, square shaped fireballs or diagonal moves.

  • Rules presentation. Because the rules are so neat and the fluff is separated from mechanics, the combat feels too much like a war game and my players ended up playing combats that way.

  • Reinvention of D&D fluff.

  • Game worlds. Not enough information in the books. You have to make up most of it.

  • Mandatory D&D Insider subscription.

Great stuff Gnarl, exactly what I wanted to see. I also think I agree with pretty much everything you said. Except that FR was a 2e thing before it was a 3e thing, and imo the 2e version was better.
Great stuff Gnarl, exactly what I wanted to see. I also think I agree with pretty much everything you said. Except that FR was a 2e thing before it was a 3e thing, and imo the 2e version was better.



I really enjoyed the 3rd edition version of the world. The books were extremely clean and detailed and the art was fantastic. It had just enough detail for me to be lazy and not too much that I couldn't make the world my own. 2nd edition FR were fantastic too though, especially those Volo guides, or FR adventures, and... Yeah well I really liked both .

It's really a shame they stopped publishing loads of high quality FR books with 4th edition. The spellplague could have been cool if only they had filled in the gaps...
Does anyone remember the Undermountain books? I can't remember the exact name, I got them from an uncle who'd been playing for ages at that point. Undermountain Adventures?

That for me was FR in a nutshell. The badguys have motives, the encounters were rich and detailed, and the whole place was full of HISTORY. The book at gravitas :P

I also really liked the 2e pantheon, it really felt like each god was special, but not all powerful. It made it very interesting. I remember reading about all their specialty priests, their traditions and beliefs, and memorising the lot. No god felt more important than any other.
Yeah, Ruins of Undermountain was the one. They did some 3e Undermountain stuff, but it wasn't even close to as good. God I wish I could find my copy. Maybe they'll rehash the original undermountain stuff in the new FR. That'd make me happy, if it was even half as good.
1E/2E: I started with 1E and played/DM'd 2E for the longest period of time, so these editions certainly have a warm place in my heart, and every so often I even pull out my old books and flip through them.  The monster manuals were the best in 2E.  The system was flexible and simple to use, but compared to newer systems the mechanics are clunky.

3E: It's been many years since I've played this, but it was the edition that killed D&D for me.  I stopped playing D&D for a decade, and while there were reasons beyond just this edition, the complexity of this ruleset was a factor.  I learned to hate feats in this edition, until I realized it wasn't feats I hated, it was feat trees.  And prestige classes with requirements.  I don't like pre-planning my character, and this edition punishes you if you don't - or at least it greatly rewards those who do.  It was the best system for min/max'ers, and I'm not one.  Having said all that, coming from 1E/2E, I loved the unified mechanic, ascending AC, and most of the core mechanics.  If I were stuck on an island and could only have 1 edition of D&D, it would be 3E - though I'd probably rip out the pages on feats from the books.  For me, this was the most hackable version.

4E: Just started running a campaign in this edition and so far my overall experience has been good.  I like how the classes are built and the wide variety of types, and I absolutely love how easy this is to run as a DM.  The tight monster math and all the ramifications of this are my favorite part of the system.  I can build an encounter very quickly, and I like how the monster roles give me variety within the encounter.  And the monster stat block is easily the best of any system.  And for my players, it's been easy to pick up a new character without having to reference the books at all.  And I love DDI.  On the negative side, the system seems so tightly put together that I feel more constrained in making changes.  As I get more familiar with the system, that may change, but right now I feel a bit restrained as a DM.  For example, with every other edition I could do a lower fantasy game pretty easily.  With 4E, it doesn't seem easily doable.  Again, this may be just a factor of my being a novice with 4E, but it certainly doesn't seem as friendly to hacking as prior editions.  Finally, with 4E, I miss the "lower" levels.  That is, with all the prior editions, lower levels were dangerous.  You started out above average, but things were still very deadly.  I like those low levels, both as a player and DM...and my players do as well.  You just don't get that with 4E.  In prior editions, hitting 5th level as a wizard was an accomplishment.  In 4E, you basically start out at 5th level.
That's something I'd forgotten to mention about 3e, since I DM so much more often than I play. You're right though, I didn't hate feats, I hated feat trees, how complex they became. If you wanted to do something cool, you had to think 10 levels ahead to make sure you had the pre-reqs. Even worse were Prestige Classes. I did my best to pretend these didn't exist, and my players I think knew better than to try to use them, or maybe they just hated them as well. IMO the Prestige Classes, and all the supplements that added new PrCs and even Base Classes were a symptom of something wrong with the basic class system.

When you try and take a descriptive approach to character creation (my character is good at fighting and wears no armour), as opposed to a prescriptive approach (my character is a fighter so I'm good at fighting, and I wear lots of armour), the very tight class system breaks down, and you have to constantly add base classes and PrCs to try to cover the full possible range. I think you need to either just accept and live with the basic classes, be it 4 or 9 or 12, or allow for customisation with more flexible base classes. I don't really know which way DDN will go, but I'll be interested to find out.
My experience is mostly limited to 3.5 and 4

3.5 Pros:
Multi-classing as a way of achieving character concept
Generally better fluff and fluff/mechanic interaction.  It had more flavor, and the mechanics were believable representations of their flavor text.

Cons:
Multiclassing as a way of breaking the game.  99% of multiclassing was a trap, the other 1% was ridiculous crap like jumplomancers and centaur hurlers.
BAB.  This business of "wizard melee attacks shouldn't go up at the same rate as fighter melee attacks" is a lie, missing the point, and irrelevant.  BAB results in math divergence, which inevitably results in unplayable high-level games (not to mention it was often arbitrary, monk's should totally have gotten full BAB).
Saving throw disparities that made it impossible for a high level character with a bad base save to pass, resulting in perma-stun.
Encounter building.  'nuff said.
Class balance, and in particular spellcasters that were a useless bore at level 1 and gods that obsoleted the entire party after level 10 or so.

4e pros:
Combat options that don't rely on a kind DM rewarding you for shenanigans like swinging on a chandelier (or providing chandeliers in the first place).
Encounter based resources (powers and healing) that make it possible to predict with a fair degree of accuracy how strong a party is going to be when they reach point A.  Add monsters whose difficulty matches their level fairly well (for a change), and it becomes possible to consistently build an encounter that challenges the party without killing it.
Balanced classes.  You've still got trap options and a huge difference between optimized and not-optimized characters, but an optimized build of one class is pretty similar in power level to an optimized build of another class.
Encounter building.  Quicker, better suited to large numbers of monsters that can still hit you and be missed by you, more predictable.
Math that scaled reasonably well, once you paid your feat taxes.  This made epic level playable, if drawn out.
Roles.  They've always existed, but making them explicit gave the designers something to work towards and a way of making sure every class can contribute meaningfully in every combat encounter without stepping on other classes' toes or being rendered obsolete by their strict superiority.

4e cons:
Divorcing flavor from mechanics, sadly leading to completely ignoring flavor.  How exactly is a rogue throwing daggers at up to nine targets in a single round in a way that causes them to be blind for a period less than "until their eyes grow back?"  "Death's fond caress" anyone?
Encounter healing plus daily surges meant out of combat damage was pointless, and encounters that weren't down to the wire victory or death situations were unexciting and a waste of time.  Yes, I realize this is partly contradictory of my pro for encounter healing.  There is a third way with neither problem (nor the oft-complained of verisimilitud problem).
Too many stacking bonuses leading to huge divergences between what the designers expected/what a non-optimizer can achieve and what an optimizer can achieve.  Not that earlier editions didn't have that problem...
Feat taxes.  Boring, flavorless, optimized/not-optimized disparity creating.
Magic item entitlement.  Magic should be cool, not something you need to make the math/your build work.  NOTE: the solution is not to take us off the treadmill.  Giving bonuses and pretending they don't exist is far worse than forcing DMs to give out bonuses.  Rather, stop giving out bonuses.  No more +1 to attack, +1 to AC, +1 to NACDs.  Ever.  Swords that can be set on fire, armor that protects from fire or critical hits, cloaks that let you hide.  Those are cool, have flavor, and can be given out at whatever rate the DM chooses without breaking the math.
Too much control.  Controllers should have control.  When everyone is a minor controller and major controllers can daze the entire battlefield, monsters never get to act at full potential.  That means you need twice as many monsters to make a challenge, but you're not doing twice as much damage as you would be from everyone being a minor striker.  That means encounters take twice as long.
Too much healing.  You tried to make a leaderless party viable by giving encounter or item surge-based healing to non leaders.  Then parties with healers took those options anyway, because you'd be a fool not to from an optimization perspective.  This means encounters grow to 4 hours long, and that players spend the first 3 of those hours bored because they're still at full health.  If you lowballed the fight and you never make it passed the 3rd hour, it was a complete waste of time.  If you high balled it by a hair, TPK.  It's way easier to guage the "challenging" window in 4e, but its an awfully small window.
Encounters take too long, especially at high levels.  See the "too much control," "too much healing," and "encounter healing" cons.
Class sameness: I don't have as much of a problem with this as many, but the fact that many potential players in my games refuse to play in my edition is a problem.  Putting everyone on AEDU made balancing classes a lot easier, and that's good, but maybe we could loosen up just a bit.  More stuff like psionic power points and essentials, right from the get go instead of waiting till after the detractors have already given up on the edition and stopped reading.  You wouldn't disturb balance too much if everyone got the same number of Es and Ds to use, but different classes could know, prepare, and use them in different ways.  A fighter might know two encounter powers and be able to use any combination of them a total of two times, while a cleric might know three and be able to use any two (but not the same one twice) and a wizard might know 4 but have to prepare two slots in advance (including the same one twice, if he so chose).  Relatively balanced regardless of day length, but different in ways that make sense (the fighter has a limited pool of stamina to pull off special maneuvres, the cleric's god says "what, you want another bless?  I just gave you one!" and the wizard needs to rest and memorize vancian-style.


Blargh, wall of text! Hit enter a few more times please ><.

Really good in depth post on 4e though, I'm really starting to get a good picture of the edition now (even though I never played it). I'd like to see some of those features make it into DDN, but I'm glad to see the ones that worry me (class sameyness, LOTS of healing), aren't too popular with the 4e crowd either.

Oh and great suggestions regarding AEDU stuff, although I don't entirely understand the system (At will, Encounter, Daily, whats the U stand for?). I don't really want to see the AEDU system ported directly to 5e, but parts of it would be great. One of the consistent problems with earlier editions was that in combat, noone but the mage and occasionally the cleric ever got to do anything REALLY cool. The supposedly combat centric fighter, who has virtually no non-combat abilities, is boring as hell to play because all he did was roll dice. I think the current playpacket deals with that nicely, giving fighters different per-round actions, it'll be interesting to see how they develop it.

With regards to healing, the current packet has short rests which allow greater healing than before, allowing characters to engage in more encounters before the typical "long rest", but otherwise the in-combat healing is the same as pre-4e games. Does that sound like a good compromise to you?
So, my chosen edition is 4e, which is a surprise to just about nobody by now.  

I recently went into what I like about it at length in another thread, so I'm not going to repeat it all here.  Instead, I'll give you some links, to a big post about what I liked, here's a question/reply combo with some relevance.  Here's a decent Q&A session I had with Brightmantle, and a couple other things I thought of.  If we really get talking about it, it's possible I'll think of something else, but this I what I've got for now.

On the to the Cons.  After the time I've spent here, I'm fairly sure I could make a lengthy post just on my analysis of the problems I've seen other people have, but these are my own personal problems with 4e:

Feats, D&D's Eternal New Guy

I'm not just talking about feat taxes. Those are really a composite problem, and as I'll be addressing each part in turn, I don't think they need their own section. No, this is feats as a whole. One thing I've noticed over the years is that every new idea in D&D seems to go through a sort of hazing period, where it'll be published one way, then refined a little before too long(if it's kept). Generally, this works out. The idea gets tested in the field, as it were, then gets its act together and starts being a good to decent part of the game.

Feats have been around for a dozen years now, and they have not really improved at all. They're stupidly vaguely defined. What is a feat? I have a full, comprehensive practical understanding of what feats do, when I get them and how much to expect out of them and even on pain of death, I wouldn't be able to give a cleaner definition of feats than "Minor Character Customization". I mean, as of this writing, a feat can get you weapon proficiency, new powers, a multiclass, three languages, angel heritage, guild admittance, tribal affiliation, a dragonmark or math fixes that should have been errata. They are the Idea Graveyard.  If the team can't figure out how to introduce something right, they introduce it as a feat instead.

Power Sources and Rituals, Wasted Potential

I really like rituals. Rituals were a nice way to make utility magic ready to go(no resting/re-prepping) and to divorce them from your daily allotment of combat spells. The numbers on component costs and casting times needed some tweaking though, and they never really got it. Support for rituals wasn't exactly lacking, but it always came in the same form: more rituals. More rituals wasn't what was needed, really(after a point, obviously). What would have made rituals so much better would have been to have other elements tie into them, perhaps giving bonuses. Bring on the paragon path that gives free rituals. Show me a magic ritual book that lets you use rituals with key skills you aren't trained in as if you were trained in them. This potential was basically left to wither.

I like power sources, too. At first they were a simple nicety, codifying a concept that most players were already familiar with. But they started to take it further. There were source specific paragon paths and epic destinies. Source specific feats. Then it kinda stopped. They should have taken it further. Source specific utility powers, maybe? Or even just less class specific things and more source specific, to tie the classes within a source together better.


I was also unhappy at first about the "abandoned" power sources, like Shadow, Elemental and Ki. But abandonment isn't the right problem. Arcane continues to be the Beast That Devours All Design Space. Shadow almost got a foot in the door with the Assassin before Arcane mugged it and finished taking its stuff. Shadow was left with two classes to itself, the Assassin and the Vampire, two of the crappiest 4e classes. Elemental didn't even get that far. What were they gonna do for Shadow? A Warlock? Nope, Arcane ate it. For Elemental, maybe some kind of element wielding caster? Nope, Arcane ate it. Ki was devoured by Psionic, and I was irate at Psionics until I realized it needed the sustenance to survive. What are Psionics good for in fiction? Telepathy, Telekinetics and Starting fires with their brains. Arcane ate all that for breakfast. If you could kill Arcane as a power source, we could have Psionics, Ki, Shadow, Elemental and probably two more from raiding its stuff.

Modularity, Everywhere I don't want it and nowhere I do

Modularity is the hot buzzword that is usually invoked to ensure the reader that 5e will be all ponies and sunshine(or rather, ponies and sunshine will be available in an optional module for those want them), but actually 4e has a bit of it. It turns up a lot in character creation. Can we use Background Benefits? Can we use Themes? Which ones? Can we use Essentials? Psionics? These are all things clearly intended to be used with a normal game, but easily separated and left out, in a modular style. And honestly, it kinda irks me. I mean, Psionics, sure, you can exclude those for entirely solid campign reasons, but I've only ever seen Themes, Background Benefits or Essentials exluded for one these two reasons. First is "I don't have access to that material." That one's fair enough, no complaint there. The other is that they think it's going to be power creep,  or wrong somehow, simply not meant for a normal, right thinking man's game(yes, I've even heard this said about using a background benefit for +2 to Insight). I can't muster up the illogic to blame the devs for not having these ideas earlier than they did, but not having them printed in the core really hurt those ideas.

The second bit of this is that the modularity of 4e never seems to be where I want it to be. Because most of the systems in 4e are either independent, or have very simple connections to the rest, it's quite easy to rip things out and plug things in. The Inherent bonus system is a good example. Take magic items out, put Inherent Bonuses in. Modular in action(albeit a small module). They could have had a lot of fun with this, and I really think 4e could have handled and even been better for a good volume of unearthed arcana. Maybe two.


When I start a new 4e campaign, we inevitably discuss whic of these modules are going to be in use. I'd much rather that discussion be about how much we're going to get out of the Seafaring Module, or if we want to use the Kingship Module or the Low-Magic Module rather than whether I can get a +2 to Athletics from my character's military background.


Errata, Too Reckless, but Somehow, Too Tame

I don't hate errata itself. I'm actually really keen on the idea that at least oe person at WotC has time in their schedule set aside to give us free solutions to issues that might come up. But the implementation of errata in 4e was bad. Whenever an element popped its head up as being abuseable or overpowered, they had a marked tendency to go overkill on it, taking the offending element down so far that most people didn't want it anymore. More care should have been taken to get these elements back down to say, 8-9/10, rather than cutting them from 13/10 to 4/10.

At the same time as they were being reckless with little errata, they were being too cautious with big ones. We'd have been saved all manner of feat tax crap just by the devs taking a deep breath and issuing errata directly to the math rather than offering up feats to fix it. Then they flipflopped again by updating monster damage in MM3, but the Feat Tax had already been born.

Uneven Support

This one probably irks me most often. Support in 4e is wildly uneven. You could make an entire class just out of Fighter support that I've forgotten about, while Artificer fans no longer have it in them to even weep softly at night.  Seekers finally got some decent stuff in Dragon...at the end of 4e's life cycle, after two years of Seekers just sort of sucking. Maybe it's a natural consequence of being a big commercial game. You make support for the popular classes. But even then, it cycles, because more people will play the more supported classes.

It's been there since day 1, as some have noted. But at least in the early days they'd throw us a bone once in awhile. Then Mearls took over and there was some consternation when he said there might never be a martial controller because they weren't going to be too careful about "filling the holes". I wasn't too concerned about the martial controller, but I was upset later, when I realized this also meant "To hell with trying to address uneven support issues."

Non-Combat (Im)balance
4e gets a lot of praise about its balance, most of which is deserved, but it really only balances in combat.  Out of combat is pretty slanted toward certain classes over others.  Take on one hand the Fighter, who gets to pick three trained skills from a crappy list, and on the other the Bard, who gets twice as many skills from a much larger list, then gets better utilities, non-combat class features and full ritual casting on top of it, and it's quite clear which of these two classes is more likely to be useful when we aren't acting in initative order.  This isn't a disparity unique to 4e, but it was an area I was disappointed to see didn't get the same improvement some others did.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
So, my chosen edition is 4e, which is a surprise to just about nobody by now.  

I recently went into what I like about it at length in another thread, so I'm not going to repeat it all here.  Instead, I'll give you some links, to a big post about what I liked, here's a question/reply combo with some relevance.  Here's a decent Q&A session I had with Brightmantle, and a couple other things I thought of.  If we really get talking about it, it's possible I'll think of something else, but this I what I've got for now.

On the to the Cons.  After the time I've spent here, I'm fairly sure I could make a lengthy post just on my analysis of the problems I've seen other people have, but these are my own personal problems with 4e:

Feats, D&D's Eternal New Guy

I'm not just talking about feat taxes. Those are really a composite problem, and as I'll be addressing each part in turn, I don't think they need their own section. No, this is feats as a whole. One thing I've noticed over the years is that every new idea in D&D seems to go through a sort of hazing period, where it'll be published one way, then refined a little before too long(if it's kept). Generally, this works out. The idea gets tested in the field, as it were, then gets its act together and starts being a good to decent part of the game.

Feats have been around for a dozen years now, and they have not really improved at all. They're stupidly vaguely defined. What is a feat? I have a full, comprehensive practical understanding of what feats do, when I get them and how much to expect out of them and even on pain of death, I wouldn't be able to give a cleaner definition of feats than "Minor Character Customization". I mean, as of this writing, a feat can get you weapon proficiency, new powers, a multiclass, three languages, angel heritage, guild admittance, tribal affiliation, a dragonmark or math fixes that should have been errata. They are the Idea Graveyard.  If the team can't figure out how to introduce something right, they introduce it as a feat instead.

Power Sources and Rituals, Wasted Potential

I really like rituals. Rituals were a nice way to make utility magic ready to go(no resting/re-prepping) and to divorce them from your daily allotment of combat spells. The numbers on component costs and casting times needed some tweaking though, and they never really got it. Support for rituals wasn't exactly lacking, but it always came in the same form: more rituals. More rituals wasn't what was needed, really(after a point, obviously). What would have made rituals so much better would have been to have other elements tie into them, perhaps giving bonuses. Bring on the paragon path that gives free rituals. Show me a magic ritual book that lets you use rituals with key skills you aren't trained in as if you were trained in them. This potential was basically left to wither.

I like power sources, too. At first they were a simple nicety, codifying a concept that most players were already familiar with. But they started to take it further. There were source specific paragon paths and epic destinies. Source specific feats. Then it kinda stopped. They should have taken it further. Source specific utility powers, maybe? Or even just less class specific things and more source specific, to tie the classes within a source together better.


I was also unhappy at first about the "abandoned" power sources, like Shadow, Elemental and Ki. But abandonment isn't the right problem. Arcane continues to be the Beast That Devours All Design Space. Shadow almost got a foot in the door with the Assassin before Arcane mugged it and finished taking its stuff. Shadow was left with two classes to itself, the Assassin and the Vampire, two of the crappiest 4e classes. Elemental didn't even get that far. What were they gonna do for Shadow? A Warlock? Nope, Arcane ate it. For Elemental, maybe some kind of element wielding caster? Nope, Arcane ate it. Ki was devoured by Psionic, and I was irate at Psionics until I realized it needed the sustenance to survive. What are Psionics good for in fiction? Telepathy, Telekinetics and Starting fires with their brains. Arcane ate all that for breakfast. If you could kill Arcane as a power source, we could have Psionics, Ki, Shadow, Elemental and probably two more from raiding its stuff.

Modularity, Everywhere I don't want it and nowhere I do

Modularity is the hot buzzword that is usually invoked to ensure the reader that 5e will be all ponies and sunshine(or rather, ponies and sunshine will be available in an optional module for those want them), but actually 4e has a bit of it. It turns up a lot in character creation. Can we use Background Benefits? Can we use Themes? Which ones? Can we use Essentials? Psionics? These are all things clearly intended to be used with a normal game, but easily separated and left out, in a modular style. And honestly, it kinda irks me. I mean, Psionics, sure, you can exclude those for entirely solid campign reasons, but I've only ever seen Themes, Background Benefits or Essentials exluded for one these two reasons. First is "I don't have access to that material." That one's fair enough, no complaint there. The other is that they think it's going to be power creep,  or wrong somehow, simply not meant for a normal, right thinking man's game(yes, I've even heard this said about using a background benefit for +2 to Insight). I can't muster up the illogic to blame the devs for not having these ideas earlier than they did, but not having them printed in the core really hurt those ideas.

The second bit of this is that the modularity of 4e never seems to be where I want it to be. Because most of the systems in 4e are either independent, or have very simple connections to the rest, it's quite easy to rip things out and plug things in. The Inherent bonus system is a good example. Take magic items out, put Inherent Bonuses in. Modular in action(albeit a small module). They could have had a lot of fun with this, and I really think 4e could have handled and even been better for a good volume of unearthed arcana. Maybe two.


When I start a new 4e campaign, we inevitably discuss whic of these modules are going to be in use. I'd much rather that discussion be about how much we're going to get out of the Seafaring Module, or if we want to use the Kingship Module or the Low-Magic Module rather than whether I can get a +2 to Athletics from my character's military background.


Errata, Too Reckless, but Somehow, Too Tame

I don't hate errata itself. I'm actually really keen on the idea that at least oe person at WotC has time in their schedule set aside to give us free solutions to issues that might come up. But the implementation of errata in 4e was bad. Whenever an element popped its head up as being abuseable or overpowered, they had a marked tendency to go overkill on it, taking the offending element down so far that most people didn't want it anymore. More care should have been taken to get these elements back down to say, 8-9/10, rather than cutting them from 13/10 to 4/10.

At the same time as they were being reckless with little errata, they were being too cautious with big ones. We'd have been saved all manner of feat tax crap just by the devs taking a deep breath and issuing errata directly to the math rather than offering up feats to fix it. Then they flipflopped again by updating monster damage in MM3, but the Feat Tax had already been born.

Uneven Support

This one probably irks me most often. Support in 4e is wildly uneven. You could make an entire class just out of Fighter support that I've forgotten about, while Artificer fans no longer have it in them to even weep softly at night.  Seekers finally got some decent stuff in Dragon...at the end of 4e's life cycle, after two years of Seekers just sort of sucking. Maybe it's a natural consequence of being a big commercial game. You make support for the popular classes. But even then, it cycles, because more people will play the more supported classes.

It's been there since day 1, as some have noted. But at least in the early days they'd throw us a bone once in awhile. Then Mearls took over and there was some consternation when he said there might never be a martial controller because they weren't going to be too careful about "filling the holes". I wasn't too concerned about the martial controller, but I was upset later, when I realized this also meant "To hell with trying to address uneven support issues."

Non-Combat (Im)balance
4e gets a lot of praise about its balance, most of which is deserved, but it really only balances in combat.  Out of combat is pretty slanted toward certain classes over others.  Take on one hand the Fighter, who gets to pick three trained skills from a crappy list, and on the other the Bard, who gets twice as many skills from a much larger list, then gets better utilities, non-combat class features and full ritual casting on top of it, and it's quite clear which of these two classes is more likely to be useful when we aren't acting in initative order.  This isn't a disparity unique to 4e, but it was an area I was disappointed to see didn't get the same improvement some others did.



This.

With bonus THIS.

While I could talk about 2nd Edition, or 3rd Edition I don't think I could do the latter without sounding bored or the latter without raging (I have sworn, in front of witnesses, to use violence against anyone who ever tries to make me DM for 3.X EVER AGAIN) but I'm firmly in the "4th Edition made everything better" camp.

Not perfect, I 100% agree that 4th ed has issues (though far fewer when you use those "optional modules"), but everything is better.      
1st and 2nd pro - The Fluff, the source books.  This ties in those thin modules (adventure modules, not rules modules) as well as some of the neat source material in 2nd, like the Volo guilds, and Wholerealms catalogues, and the Encylopidea magica series.  Also the kit books.  Granted, the Kit books only usually had 1 or 2 things I wanted in each classwise, but someone else would usually find something else they liked.

Cons - Every eddition- Meaningless weapons and to some extent armor.  I hate poor choice items.  Those weapons that offer no real mechanical advantage but cost more gold than they should.  4th made promises or teases about tackling this issue, but I personally wasn't thrilled with how it was handled.
The reverse is also true.  The one perfect choice item.  The "why on Oearth would I choose anything BUT this?"

 
Great stuff Gnarl, exactly what I wanted to see. I also think I agree with pretty much everything you said. Except that FR was a 2e thing before it was a 3e thing, and imo the 2e version was better.



And FR was a 1e thing before all of that....
With regards to healing, the current packet has short rests which allow greater healing than before, allowing characters to engage in more encounters before the typical "long rest", but otherwise the in-combat healing is the same as pre-4e games. Does that sound like a good compromise to you?



Short answer, no.  The great thing that healing surges did was ensure that the party walked into pretty much every encounter with pretty much full HP.  That made it much easier to pin down challenge rating: whether you walked in with 8 surges in the bag or 2, with all your dailies ready or expended, you could handle a pretty similar encounter without a TPK.  In previous editions, whether you came to a fight at the start of the day or the end made an ENORMOUS difference to the CR you could defeat - you might walk into a fight already half dead and without any spell slots left for healing and end up getting TPK'd by an encounter you could have stomped all over if you were fresh.  This also meant that the big bad at the end of the dungeon crawl had to be a puny weakling that you could have crushed into the dust had you been fresh (or find some plot device that lets you rest right before facing him).  These were my biggest problems with older editions.  Surges went a step too far in removing ALL penalty from damage before your last short rest, at least until you hit the 4th or 5th encounter of the day or some such, at which point you're pretty much forced to stop because you're at a tiny tiny fraction of your full strength.  And by that time you've already forgotten the nasty trap or poorly-played encounter that got you into this mess, so you never really feel the pain of that misstep.

Hit dice don't even begin to ensure you start every encounter at full HP, therefore they don't even begin to to solve the swinginess of older editions.  They also don't have any effect on in-combat healing, over-abundance of which being the other big problem of 4e healing, and one that surges could so easily have been used to remedy.  IMO they're an improvement on older editions: they allow you to have one knock-down drag-out fight per day plus a little one, maybe even two real fights at higher levels when HD are a bigger percentage of your max and you've got a bit more magic healing under your belt.  But you're pretty much still locked into very short work days or a succession of unchallenging fights that just wear you down for the big bad.  Short work days are annoying from a story perspective, and attrition fights are a bore for me.  I'm not looking for a compromise point between healing surges and no healing surges, which is what HD appear to be.  I'm looking for a third point that does what healing surges do well without doing what they do badly.  I want surges with less daily limit and more encounter limit, not more daily limit and no encounter limit.  I want damage to hurt some, but not to make it impossible to press on that day; a penalty that you'll feel and feel immediately but that won't swing power levels so badly that you can't balance an encounter.  Low HP doesn't serve that purpose, and HD leave that responsibility firmly at low HP's feet.  So no, HD are not a compromise solution.  
I've played and run every edition of D&D (and d20 modern, the original d20 Star Wars, Star Wars Saga, and Pathfinder), and I liked all of them well enough--er, no, scratch that: I hated running D&D 4e.  However, playing 4e was fine and, I think I even prefer PCing in 4e to 3rd.

I could list things I didn't like about 3rd and 4e for hours, however, I guess if I had to pick, I'd say 2e was my favorite edition.

Just about the only thing I disliked about 2e that 3rd didn't already fix was the existence of Thief Skills.

I know, I sound like an lunatic, but, hear me out.  While I loved Backstab, I think the existence of the Thief class was the worst thing that happened to D&D since its inception (followed by class limitations on magic items--notably 3rd editions spell trigger/completion rules combined with not just the ability to craft magic items, but the assumption that PCs would do so).  

See, before the thief, everyone could do everything with just their stats.  Want to sneak?  Go for it, Wizard--roll Dex (or maybe Int if you have to know where to hide, Con if you need to hold really still, Cha to blend in a crowd--whatever is most appropriate at the time).  Need to climb something?  Sure, roll Strength or Dex or whatever.  Think there's a trap somewhere?  Ok, tell me where you're looking and I'll tell you if you find it--oh, the Fighter found it?  Ok, roll Intelligence to figure out how it works.

Then came the Thief, and suddenly, those things had codified rules--the Thief had a % chance to do those things--which meant, among other things, that other characters suddenly couldn't do those things at all anymore.  I mean, how can my Fighter roll Dex to sneak around, when the Thief has to roll percentile--especially a % that probably give him a worse chance to do it?  Why can my Cleric try and disable that trap with an Int check--well, you get the idea.

And extending to the spell trigger/completion item rules, back in the old days, if you found a wand, you just pointed it at stuff and hit buttons, wiggled it, yelled command words, etc., until it worked.  There was no restriction in place--you just messed with it until it worked.  My fighter could do it as well as the wizard.  I liked that--it meant magic items were something else.  Nobody had a class feature that made them better with magic items than another class.  In 3rd edition, the restriction on magic item use combined with the new ubiquity of magic items skyrocketed the power of spellcasters, and probably had more to do with the quadratic wizard problem than anything else.

So, yeah--I'd be cool with getting rid of skills entirely, but just making sure anyone can do any skill, even without training, is a good start.  And make sure magic items don't require a specific class to use (with super rare exceptions possible--I don't mind a Holy Avenger being specifically for the Paladin once per campaign, for example) would be much appreciated.

If that happened, and 100% at-will spellcasting was in the game (ala the 3rd edition Warlock/Dragon Adept), I'd be happy enough to overlook almost anything else I didn't like.
I've played and run every edition of D&D (and d20 modern, the original d20 Star Wars, Star Wars Saga, and Pathfinder), and I liked all of them well enough--er, no, scratch that: I hated running D&D 4e.  However, playing 4e was fine and, I think I even prefer PCing in 4e to 3rd.

[Just wanted to reply to this part, so I've snipped the rest for brevity

This is one of the only times I recall anyone not enjoying being DM in 4e.

I don't enjoy the game much at all on the other side of the screen.  That's crazy talk though, according to some people I've talked to.  Nice to know it isn't just me ;).   
/\ Art
@Pashalik_Mons: With regards to Non-combat imbalance, it occurs to me that in previous editions, the classes who were better at non-combat actions, in general kind of sucked at combat, as a sort of balancing thing. So in 4e, since every class is equally valid in combat, would I be right in saying it creates it's own kind of imbalance, since now the combat oriented classes like the fighter are boring to play out of combat?

@powerroleplayer: The problem with what you're suggesting, is that what players of pre-3rd editions like, from what I've been told, is the resource management aspect. The party has to manage it's own healing and powers properly from a resource pool. Any mechanic which arbitrarily restores full HP to the party between encounters is going to undermine the resource management aspect, as is encounter powers and the like. In this sense, Low HP does have a role to play.

I can see that having a full powered party before each encounter makes things easier to balance as a DM, but as a player, it feels cheap to me, and I don't like it. I want to play in a world that has a certain kind of fantastic reality, where actions have consequences. I can't easily rationalise making healing so easy with that in mind, how do you even explain healing surges in a realistic way? I can accept the greater healing from a short rest, because it does extend the adventuring day in a reasonable way.

Also bear in mind that not every combat encounter should be dropping players to very low HP. It doesn't have to do it to be interesting, and it doesn't make much sense in terms of a narrative curve. If every encounter is maximally thrilling and exciting, you've got nowhere to go, and that becomes the new normal.

@thestoryteller: I read the last two paragraphs of your post first, as it popped up when I started to reply to others, and I was like, WHAT IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT. But yeah, I read your post from the top, and it's really interesting. I'd never really considered how the emphasis on the thief/rogue being able to do certain things, implies the other guys can't. My personal concept of the rogue has evolved from the 2e thief, to a general skills expert. I'd be happy to see his specific thieving talents gone, but I can't personally see it happening.

Classless magic items are a pretty cool idea too. THe first time I played seriously was 2e, so I've never had that come up as a concept, and I like it. Fighters with wands would be kind of awesome.

Alright, let's look here:


2nd edition


Advantages:


Flavorful


Very simplistic combat


High fatality rate means that problems with high level characters are less pronounced


Easy to make a character


Disadvantages:


The rules themselves are quite poor and imbalanced, with little mechanical balance between classes.


Linear warriors quadratic wizards happens at high levels, with casters being way better than noncasters.


Poor formatting


Inconsistent notation (high and low numbers are good in different situations)


Imbalanced monsters


Save or die/save or suck makes character and monster mortality feel very arbitrary in many situations


Inconsistent rules; psionics and saving throwas are particularly bad


3rd edition:


Strengths:


Rules for making anything into a PC


Pavlovian item grind


"Single" mechanic (DC)


Downsides:


Extremely complicated


Casters are very broken and become broken at very low levels


Save or suck effects are omnipresent and make the game into rocket tag whenever anyone with a SOD or SOS is involved


Extreme imbalance - the classes are imbalanced, the skills are imbalanced, the magic items are imbalanced...


Extremely imbalanced monsters


Too many skills - many are useless


Lack of focus


Despite ability to play as anything, almost everything with a level adjustment sucks, meaning that the ability to play anything doesn't actually work out well


Lack of understanding and communication of strengths/weaknesses - they thought physical stats were better than mental stats, when the opposite was the case. Strength was viewed as the be-all, end all when it was arguably the worst stat.


Plethora of magical items made them feel much less special. "Its like Diablo!" And in Diablo, a magic sword just isn't anything special.


Numerous traps in character design - very easy to make a terrible character, difficult to make an optimized one


Vast power level gap between strong and weak classes, and optimized and unoptimized characters


4th edition:


Strengths:


Balance


Easy to DM


Internally consistent ruleset


Monsters make sense


All rules on character sheets


Roles make character classes far more different and meaningful than previously possible.


Weaknesses:


Complicated - tactical complexity is enormous in this game


While many traps in character design were eliminated, feat power creep resulted in feats being traps, and some classes (particularly controllers) had lots of trap power choices


I will note that 3rd and especially 4th also have the "battle grid", which is both a strength and a weakness, as it can be great fun but it can also be annoying if you just want to play.

@Pashalik_Mons: With regards to Non-combat imbalance, it occurs to me that in previous editions, the classes who were better at non-combat actions, in general kind of sucked at combat, as a sort of balancing thing. So in 4e, since every class is equally valid in combat, would I be right in saying it creates it's own kind of imbalance, since now the combat oriented classes like the fighter are boring to play out of combat?


Well, if you hold that sucking in combat balances out being good at non-combat, or vice-versa, then that makes some amount of sense.  I don't hold that view, however, I think that sort of balance sucks on several levels.  So, for me, fixing the combat balance and leaving the non-combat imbalance didn't create a new problem, it just fixed half an existing problem and let the other half continue.  I'll also correct you in that which classes were boring to play out of combat hasn't changed.  If you enjoyed your Fighter in non-combat situations previously, you'll enjoy it just the same in 4e.  
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
@Pashalik_Mons: With regards to Non-combat imbalance, it occurs to me that in previous editions, the classes who were better at non-combat actions, in general kind of sucked at combat, as a sort of balancing thing. So in 4e, since every class is equally valid in combat, would I be right in saying it creates it's own kind of imbalance, since now the combat oriented classes like the fighter are boring to play out of combat?


Well, if you hold that sucking in combat balances out being good at non-combat, or vice-versa, then that makes some amount of sense.  I don't hold that view, however, I think that sort of balance sucks on several levels.  So, for me, fixing the combat balance and leaving the non-combat imbalance didn't create a new problem, it just fixed half an existing problem and let the other half continue.  I'll also correct you in that which classes were boring to play out of combat hasn't changed.  If you enjoyed your Fighter in non-combat situations previously, you'll enjoy it just the same in 4e.  



The problem is that alternating being bored is bad; characters need to be useful at all times. Yes, its okay for a scene to focus more on one than another, but that character shouldn't be useless in the scene, just less useful.

In a game like D&D, though, sacrificing combat effectiveness for out of combat effectiveness doesn't work. The reason is that combat is a huge portion of the game - probably 50% of game time is spent on combat-related tasks for many groups. You can't sacrifice 50% of the game for the other 50%, and worse still, it makes both halves less fun for everyone - you're gimped in combat situations and overshadow others in out of combat situations, neither of which feels very good at all.

There are games (like Alternity) where the default assumption is that combat is rare so a character with no direct combat-oriented skills is more viable and being worse at combat (say, just having MRW and carrying a pistol) means you aren't useless but you are certainly less useful and have to keep your head down.

I will also note that this generates balance issues as well.

Generally speaking, D&D is a game about combat (as far as RPGs go) and, ergo, you need balanced combat and can't sacrifice combat effectiveness for out of combat effectiveness or vice-versa without being frustrating. The MMO genre, and basically every computer RPG out there, is based on D&D for a reason.
As someone who has played from AD&D through to 4th Edition I'd like to correct a couple of misunderstandings regarding Healing Surges.

Their key role was to put a hard limit on ALL sources of healing per day, for reasons of system strain (the body can only take so much, no matter what you do for example), preventing the CLW-spam from making HP damage meaningless.

While it could be improved, I think Surge numbers per character were too high, I don't think that they are in any way replaced by Hit Dice.

But they made balancing individual encounters a breeze, which I REALLY appreciated as a DM!     
Just to clarify, I wasn't suggesting that the way to fix non-combat character balance was to re-break combat character balance :P Just pointing out the old thinking, and how fixing combat but not non-combat, just made the existing problem more obvious.

I certainly hope that the new system allows more flexibility in character creation, so players are able to be as combat/non-combat capable as they like, regardless of class. For example, I've been posting in another thread on armours, and I have suggested making armour use dependent on Strength, rather than class (magic-users probably excepted).

My thinking was this: Dex is a  very powerful stat in the current playtest, Con is always useful, but Str is not particularly great, as in combat it can be mostly replaced by Dex. Now, as it stands, it's just as valid to create a no/low armour finess fighter as it is to create a heavily armoured tank or DPS fighter. If that's true, why is it any less valid to have a Thug themed rogue, who has high strength and con and low dex? I would say not. It goes against the traditional concept of a thief, but we haven't called it a thief in 2 editions, and even in 2e, you were sort of allowed to make your thief a thug anyway. Since a lot of the rogue skills now revolve around other stats, it is less of a trap than it would have been in the past. Since rogues are now less about a sneak attack from the shadows, and more about a bit of extra damage when flanking, it doesn't even really break that.

It doesn't have to stop there either. A war cleric with high strength can wear better armour than a primarily spellcasting cleric with a high wis. The only class it perhaps kind of potentially breaks is the Barbarian.

Anyway that's all very offtopic, but it was a thought I had to make classes more flexible and interesting in combat.

PS. I can't think of many people who really think the figher is great fun to play outside of combat. They get what like, 3 skills? They rarely have much in the non-combat stats department either.
Just to clarify, I wasn't suggesting that the way to fix non-combat character balance was to re-break combat character balance :P Just pointing out the old thinking, and how fixing combat but not non-combat, just made the existing problem more obvious.


No, no, I get it.  I hope I didn't sound too combative, I was just trying to do my own clarification.  I'm at least acolyte level on Studies of Balance in D&D, so it's not an idea I haven't encountered before.  For what it's worth, the silver lining on skills in 5e for me is that they're finally class-independent.
PS. I can't think of many people who really think the figher is great fun to play outside of combat. They get what like, 3 skills? They rarely have much in the non-combat stats department either.


I know, right?  Maybe it's just me, but I still keeping thinking next time I check this thread is the time I see one to three people lighting up over how great their fighters are and how if I think they're missing something then I just need to roleplay harder, possibly with some nice edition war barbs added in.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
That's what I mean. I only played 1e very briefly, when I was like 10. From that, and what other people have said about it, if they only bring back one thing from 1e, I hope it's the sense that your character can be or do anything you want, within what the DM feels is reasonable, rather than in 3e, where it was basically what the rules dictated. That's what I was getting at with my stuff about armour. I WANT to play a dashing, swashbuckling fighter, and I'd love to play a gruff, dwarven dungeoneer rogue, or maybe a gaptoothed human thug rogue, with horrific intelligence, but good wisdom and street sense. I get excited about the possibilities like I never did with 3e (and that was my favourite edition).


PS. I can't think of many people who really think the figher is great fun to play outside of combat. They get what like, 3 skills? They rarely have much in the non-combat stats department either.



A fighter is exactly as fun to play as anything else, since the only thing that impacts fun is creativity and roleplyaing. Skills don't make it fun, and netierh do stats - it's what you do at the table makes it fun.


I hope you qualify this as your opinion of what is fun.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition


PS. I can't think of many people who really think the figher is great fun to play outside of combat. They get what like, 3 skills? They rarely have much in the non-combat stats department either.



A fighter is exactly as fun to play as anything else, since the only thing that impacts fun is creativity and roleplyaing. Skills don't make it fun, and neither do stats - it's what you do at the table makes it fun.





Total, I do not remember ability scores or skills making a great character/experience in this game.
I think the easiest solution for fighters is to give them an additional skill that relates to their field the way that wizards and priests have.

Give the duelist acrobatics.

Give the slayer intimidate.

Give the protector perception.

It could alleviate some of that non combat disparity without going to the extreme.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

It's about giving everyone's character a chance to shine, and when gamist/simulationist rules codify a lot of the non-combat stuff, the fighter always seems to miss out. Often it leaves players of fighters feeling less useful, and less powerful, and thus less engaged in the game. Since new players often start out as the fighter, it can be disillusioning. As a DM, I have to work extra hard to keep these players interested, especially since the new ones don't know what they can and can't do, and so play it safe.

My point is, if there are going to be non-combat rules, they need to be fairer on all classes. Equal but different, just like combat.
Cons of 5E:
-Further fragmenting a fragmented base
-Claims to be unifying the fanbase, really just flipping the bird at new and 4E players.
-Boring, everything looks the same.
-A step backwards.
-Balance is way off.
-Mearls.

Pros:
Nothing that I can think of.
Khyber is a dark and dangerous place, full of flame and smoke, where ever stranger things lie dormant.
Sure...why not...

The below opinions are just that...opinions. If you don't share them, that's awesome. Just don't try to tell me that my opinions are wrong, or that your's are somehow better than mine. I'm not interested in arguing about it. It's not like you'll change my mind about it, so save your words.
 
Favorite edition: 2E

Pros:

Campaign Settings: Planescape, Al Qadim, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, Birthright, Dark Sun, not to mention the expansions of both DragonLance and the Forgotten Realms from 1E. Awesome places to explore...and conquer.

Character vs Gear: I loved that the +1 sword I got at level 2 could last my PC until I retired him (or until I had to fight the few things that required a +2 or higher to hit). I didn't have to buy upgrades every level for weapons and armor. My character was not defined by his gear. If he got an item he loved, there was typically no reason at all to ever trade it in for the shiny new +X model that was out just so he could stay on-par with the game's scaling math.

Ability Scores: The 18 STR I rolled at level one was the 18 STR I had at level 10. Ability score perks were rare, and they had an actual impact on the game. It never really felt right to have my ability scores slowly rising throughout the game for no reason other than to keep up with the game's math. 

Options: Once you figured in the 200+ non-weapon proficiencies, class kits, Player's Options information, "Complete" series books, and so on,  the sheer amount of character options was amazing.

The "Hero" status was earned: You didn't start out larger than life. You started out fragile and delicate. You had to use your wits as much as your sword to survive lower levels. You had to earn the title of hero through your deeds and accomplishments, not just by the simple virtue of having created a PC. 

Edition-Neutral Splats: Many (certainly not all) of the splats were chock full of material that was edition-neutral.  Especially the DM Reference books, such as the Celts, Vikings, Complete Book of Villains, Monster Mythology, and so on. Great material that I have used in every edition of this wonderful game.

Fast combat: Combat was handled at a quick pace. No grids. No minis. No dozen different status effects to track. Shared descriptives and a decent imagination were all that was needed.

Cons:   

Imbalance: Not really an issue until higher levels, but by the time it became obvious, it was a HUGE mess. Casters could own the world if they had the desire to. Yes, if you made the magic users use spell components (some of which were very expensive), observe casting times, allow for spell failure and spell interruption and so on, it took longer for the casters to completely outshine their counterparts, but it still happened.

Alignment Restrictions: Never liked them. Always thought that something as subjective as one's views of what was good or evil never should have had game mechanics tied to them.

Racial Level Limits and Class Restrictions Never liked these, either. So...I got rid of them. Easy.    

 
Cons of 5E:
-Further fragmenting a fragmented base
-Claims to be unifying the fanbase, really just flipping the bird at new and 4E players.
-Boring, everything looks the same.
-A step backwards.
-Balance is way off.
-Mearls.

Pros:
Nothing that I can think of.


And you're here....why?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I could spend a few minutes on this, I s'pose.

2e
Pros
Looks neat
Has a ton of content
Cons
Never played it


3e/3.5
(I'm treating them as one, because honestly they just blur together in my head, and they're mostly the same.)
Pros
Character customization
Magic Item creation
Tooooooooooons of options
TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONS
Experimentation (especially in the later years), with positive results
Generally able to make what you want out of it, if you have access to a lot of different materials
Cons
Balance, oh god - not just "power levels", but options - especially interesting options - as well
Mid-level play is beyond typical fantasy; High-level play is beyond galactic superhero levels of crazy
Too many bad options
DMing (by the rules) is a nightmare
An absolute nightmare


4e
Pros
Character balance / shared spotlights
Reduced magic-level (from "super-mega-ultra-over-the-top")
Increased non-magical options (like the ability to run a non-magical party, without significant weaknesses)
"Martial" Golden-Age
Better organized products
Easier to improvise / easier to DM
Feels more like cinematic, heroic fantasy, and less like hyper-magical superhero (and friends) fiction
Cons
Not a lot of variation (until later in its cycle)
Lots of missed opportunities
Tons of super-tiny "bonuses"
TOOOOOOOONS of them, everywhere, but especially in feats
Longer fights (until later in its cycle)
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
Cons of 5E:
-Further fragmenting a fragmented base
-Claims to be unifying the fanbase, really just flipping the bird at new and 4E players.
-Boring, everything looks the same.
-A step backwards.
-Balance is way off.
-Mearls.

Pros:
Nothing that I can think of.





 
Great post Hocus-Smokus. I particularly liked the bit about the Splats. I remember reading some I'd got off an uncle, including the Viking supplement. It made me fall in love with the less flashy magics, like enchantments, illusions, divinations even conjuration. Magic could be very interesting once you ban the really obviously magical stuff, like Evocation, magical protection etc. I always wanted to run a pseudo-historical campaign based on that book, but noone was interested

The race books were great too, I had the dwarf one, and it was great, it made the subraces feel like something that made sense to me. Before and since they've been little more than an excuse for players (and DMs) to flavour characters and stuff in some shallow, refluffed way. And they proliferated horrifically.

It's also something WoTC could actually make money off, as even people who DON'T like 5e, and stick with the previous editions can make use of them. So hopefully they take notice of that. They were such great DMing tools.

Permanent ability scores are also something I liked about pre-3rd. They gave character creation a certain gravitas. It was like, THIS IS WHO YOU ARE. With 3e, every time I generated a character as a player, in PnP or in NWN or whatever, with the points based systems, I would think, oh well I'll have this score just below the threshold for a new bonus, because it gets me more points and when I get my first stat bonus I'll be plugging it in here anyway. Also, leveled stat bonuses tended to create wildly out of skew characters, since you generally just plugged your bonus into your primary attribute or Con.

I'm so glad I made this thread. New posters and new opinions are reminding me of things I'd forgotten I loved about this game. Keep it coming, I appreciate every post.
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