4e Fans: What would you change about 4e?

There's a lot of bitching back and forth about how this incarnation should have just left 3e alone instead of beating a dead horse. I agree insofar as I haven't seen many concepts from 4e (as I understand it) in the playtest matarial, so I was curious:


If DDN was going to be using ONLY 4e matarial to produce a revised verison of the rules, what would you scrap? What would you change and why?

4e certainly had its share of problems.  I could get into the details, but to me, trying to smash together a new edition from the pieces of one existing edition isn't going to be very illustrative.  Fixing 4e's problems should be done regardless, and they should call it 4e, not Next.

Next has an opportunity for innovation.  New ideas, new concepts, new interactions.  That's its biggest draw, not "how well does it work as a doppleganger for my edition of choice?"
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
If DDN would have to be based on 4E I would suggest doing it like my current admittedly quite mutilated version of houseruled 4E.

I have divided up the mechanics of the combat roles to all be about various types of advantage.

Your class gives you Power Attacks as you level up, these are on par with Encounter powers in strenght, however, you can use them any number of times per encounter.

Instead of limiting them on the encounter/daliy uses way, they are limited by certain types of advantages.

Some striker abilities, like the rogue's attacks, can only be used on combat advantage.
Some striker abilities can only be used when you dont move at all, or when you charge more than a certain distance.
The defender power attacks can be used whenever someone violates a mark or provokes an attack of opportunity.

This makes combat more tactical as everyone is trying to maneuver into position to do their Power Attacks while trying to not let the enemies get theirs off.

This especially works great with defender enemies as player really think twice before violating a mark or provoking opportunity attacks from something that deals a lot more damage and applies conditions when you do. It is also ewarding to be able to do stuff again when you manage to get the same tactical advantage.

I also allow multiple overlapping marks on the same creature.

Here is an NPC that illustrates the idea a bit.


Tarvollen High Guard - Swordsman







































































Tarvollen High Guard - Swordsman   Level 4 Soldier








Medium Natural Humanoid  XP 175









Initiative +6Senses Perception +7

HP 55; Bloodied 27
AC 22; Fortitude 18, Reflex 16, Will 16
Speed 5
M Longsword (Standard; at-will) ♦ Weapon
+ 12 vs AC; 1d10+4 damage
Effect: The target is marked until the end of next turn.
M Shield Bash (Standard; at-will) ♦ Weapon
+10 vs Fortitude; 4 damage and the target is pushed 1 square.
Effekt: Target is marked until end of next turn.
m Longsword Advance (Immediate Interrupt; at-will) ♦ Weapon
Trigger: A marked enemy violates the mark.
May shift 1 before the attack.
+12 vs AC; 3d8 + 4 damage
Effect: Target is marked
m Shield Advance (Immediate Interrupt; at-will) ♦ Weapon
Trigger: A marked enemy violates the mark.
May shift 1 before the attack.
+10 vs Fort; 1d6 + 4 damage and the target is pushed 2 squares and knocked prone.
Effect: Target is marked
Phalanx Soldier
The Guard gains a +2 bonus to AC while adjacent to at least one guard ally.








Alignment UnalignedLanguages Taran

Skills Insight +7, Intimidate +9, Streetwise +9














Str 16 (+5)Dex 13 (+3)Wis 11 (+2)
Con 16 (+5)Int 10 (+2)Cha 14 (+4)

Equipment Banded mail, longsword, large shield
I don't know if many share my sentiments but its something simple I would change. The simple look and feel of the game.

To me each class felt like a cookie cutter mashup with a few sprinkles that make it unique, I want to lose that generic feel to the game. This doesn't even need to be in the characters mechanics or maths. The red, green and grey boxes (at will, encounter, daily) were one of the biggest culprits for me, jazz up the borders a bit, make them unique to classes, make more about each class look different in the books. It may sound small but little changes like that help give more of a feel to the characters.

Other than that, the mechanics for skill challenges just didnt feel smooth or natural.

However on the whole, I loved my 4e. 
I would reduce the 1/2 level bonus to 1/5 level.
Remove the +'s from magic items.
Reduce the number of powers everyone has.  Say... 2 at-wills, 2 enounters, 2 dailies (replacing as you level).
More variety of power structure, and sub-classes for power sharing (Which happened, but late in 4e).
Utility powers should actually be utility(non-combat) powers, not defensive powers.
Reduce prerequisits (and redundancy) of feats, by allowing them to work in more situations.
*Rebalance monsters with the new expectations.


The other main issue people had with 4e was presentation.  Doesn't bother me much, but alot of people where turned off before they actually played the game simply because it "looked like WoW" or something.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

It needs a unified physics model to go with its unified progression model.
If I can't do it, that monster should be able to do it either.

4e is a great example of object-oriented-RPG, which just makes the deviations from the model that much more obvious.
I'm a huge fan of 4e.  I like it at a structural level, and by that I mean I like the fundamental design choices of the edition.  The priority towards balance, the unified progression (in itself an extension of the balance goal), the keyword-based design, etc.

I also like it at a stylistic, tonal level.  I like that the mechanics emphasize high heroics, and cinematic action.  I like that the "world" as presented is ideal for adventuring, and not overly concerned with metaphysical explanations for things.  For example, the cosmology is focused on having planes that evoke the tropes of fantasy, rather than planes that codify structure and exist only to explain game elements ("Good" exists because there is a Plane of Good, and "Fire" exists because there is a Plane of Fire, etc).

In short, I like that the rules are codified and clear (for ease of play) and the world is loose and free (for ease of storytelling).  These are my preferences, and I make no claim to the superiority or objectivity of them.

That being said, there is much I would change.

1) Get rid of what I call "number porn", or numbers increasing arbitrarily.  PC's attacks and defenses increase in order to keep pace with monsters defenses and attack, which increase in order to keep pace with the ever-increasing attacks and defenses of PC's.  It gets a bit silly, when you think about it.

2) The Christmas Tree Effect.  While less obscene than it was in 3e, the Christmas Tree Effect was still present, and still annoying.  Partly (or entirely) due to the persistent need to keep up with a steadily rising monster stats, PCs had to have a A) a weapon, B) an armor, and C) a neck-slot item, and had to regularly upgrade them, if they wanted to be able to reasonably interact with the challenges of adventuring.  This was solved partway with Inherent Bonuses, but that was only a band-aid.  Inherent Bonuses still fed into the Number Porn from issue #1.

Thankfully, DDN is embracing Bounded Accuracy, which goes a looooooong way to solving both of these "problems".  Bounded Accuracy keeps both monsters and PCs from needlessly increasing their numbers to keep pace with each other, and allows magic items to truly be a bonus, one that can remain relevant for the entire career of the PC.  My fighter can now truly keep his Grandfather's Sword, that symbol of his family's honor, and not be crippled against the [insert crazy-ass monster] several levels later.

3) Too many conditions.  This is a two-way street.  I actually like that 4e had a much more constrained conditions list.  3e, from what I remember (I no longer have my 3e books) had a much longer list of possible conditions.  That said, there are far too many ways in 4e to add what conditions were present.  Between wizards and other controllers stacking condition after condition on a single target, locking it down to the point of uselessness, to reams of conditions, all with their own timing and tracking needs...it just became too much.

Rather than having powers/abilities/spells apply conditions, I think I'd prefer not having any conditions at all as we know them (prone, paralyzed, stunned, dazed, asleep, etc).  Instead, I'd like to see something much simpler, like "lose a turn" or "lose an action", and let the players and DM narrate in what form these penalties come, in accordance to their needs and narrative.  "Oh, this ability knocks someone over?  Then that someone loses an action as they get back up" or even the reverse like "This ability causes my target to lose an action.  I'll describe it as knocking the guy on his butt."  Fewer rules with broader applications.

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.

5) Feat bloat.  There are couple of reasons for feat bloat, and all of them need to be addressed in separate fashions.  One of the first reasons is simply bad design.  When you have lots of feats that offer small bonuses in narrow circumstances, you have lots of feats that simply won't be picked because they won't come into play often enough to warrant selection.  All they accomplish is add to the bloat.  Far better to have fewer feats that offer significant changes to the PC.

Second reason is feat patches.  If some game element isn't working as intended (due to design oversight or whatnot), far better to errata and update rather than release yet another feat.  Not only does that create an otherwise unneeded feat that adds to bloat, but it "costs" the player a valuable character design resource that could be better spent elsewhere. 

Third reason is several feats that are similar in form and function, but different in only a small way.  There are a series of feats in 4e, for example, that provide bonuses to energy-type attacks.  Astral Fire, Burning Blizzard, Dark Fury, etc, are all feats that do the same basic thing (bonus to attacks with specific energy-type), and have very similar requirements (13 in certain stats).  Probably better to have just one feat that says something like "Gain X bonus in energy type(s) of your choice.  Requires a 13 in 2 of the following: Int, Wis, Cha."  Yeah, it is less specific, but it cuts down on lots of needless distinction.

6) Power bloat.  One of the downsides to the established design of 4e is that every class had its own powers, from levels 1-30.  When two classes are similar and need similar tools (like two battlefield controlling defender classes both needing a way to knock enemies down, or away), the designers had to make separate powers for each of them.  I think having powers from a common pool that anyone can pick up, or at least anyone of a particular power source (like Martial, or Divine) or particular role (like Defender, or Striker) would cut down on a lot of bloat.

No need to have 3 separate powers do more or less the same thing in slightly different ways.  Better to have one power that is modified in execution based on class features.

7) Daily Powers as "Dailies".  There are three sorts of time-keeping in an RPG.  There's real-world time, as in the hours the group spends at the table; game-time, as in the time that the characters experience; and there are sequence-timers, like turns and rounds, that are not inherently connected to any time construct at all, and exist only as a game mechanic, though many do get an associated "game-time" like a "round" lasting approximately 6 seconds.

In 4e, at-wills and encounter powers are tied to game constructs.  The at-will power is tied to a turn.  If it is your turn, you can perform this action.  There is not a specific time frame for this action.  Maybe it takes 1 second.  Maybe it takes 10.  6 seconds is a common association.   The rules don't care.  As far as the rules are concerned, it takes a turn, however long a turn happens to be.  The encounter power is tied to the similarly nebulous encounter.  Maybe an encounter takes 1 round, or 5, or even 10.  Maybe those rounds equal 5 minutes, or maybe half an hour.  Generally, the advice is that an encounter is about 5 minutes long (just as a turn/round is about 6 seconds).  But ultimately, an encounter power can be re-used at the next encounter, however long that is.  Furthermore, I would rename "encounter" as "scene", to established narrative connection.

Yet daily powers aren't tied to a nebulous game mechanic.  They are tied to an in-world game-time, a "day" that exists as 24 hours in the world of the campaign.  If I were to change things, I'd tie the "daily" powers to something more of a game construct, like "the adventure", or (to reference something already existent in 4e) "the milestone".

The alternative is to tie everything into actual game-time.  Every 6 seconds, every 5 minutes, every day, but I think that would be overly tedious to track fiddly numbers.  The abstract measurements of rounds, scenes, and adventures is far suitable.

*******

So those are my primary changes.  I can think up more, but most anything more is tied to one of those 5 issues at their core.  Change those 7 things, and I imagine 99% of my other issues with 4e vanish.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
"number porn"


That, is awesome.

I don't know if many share my sentiments but its something simple I would change. The simple look and feel of the game.

To me each class felt like a cookie cutter mashup with a few sprinkles that make it unique, I want to lose that generic feel to the game. This doesn't even need to be in the characters mechanics or maths. The red, green and grey boxes (at will, encounter, daily) were one of the biggest culprits for me, jazz up the borders a bit, make them unique to classes, make more about each class look different in the books. It may sound small but little changes like that help give more of a feel to the characters.

Other than that, the mechanics for skill challenges just didnt feel smooth or natural.

However on the whole, I loved my 4e. 

Well, yeah, I think the power, item, etc blocks could have more interesting graphic design. They're nice in a utilitarian sense now, but it would be cool if they had some more distinctive graphic feel to them. I think a lot of elements in 4e could have benefited from that. I don't think overall the graphic design of 4e products was bad, but there were some negatives that I'd correct.

The artwork was pretty meh as well. It wasn't BAD, and some was quite good, but I always liked the wider vistas and more varied themes of the 1e artwork myself. It was more about telling a story and less about showing off something. I'm tired of endless pictures of characters flexing and taking up the whole picture. I want to see the WORLD, not someone else's PC.

Another area that could be worked on was the sheer space inefficiency in the books. I mean even though 4e has a lot of books the wordcount in each one is pretty low frankly. I do appreciate the larger font they use in 4e for body text, but the whole page layouts are very wasteful. Compare the 1e PHB to the 4e PHB and frankly it feels a bit like you're getting ripped off, the 1e one actually has a higher wordcount in its 125 pages than the 4e one has in almost 300 pages. Surely my bookshelf need not be crammed with that much wasted paper.

That is not dead which may eternal lie
Feats for static bonuses to attack roll (I didn't play 3e so don't really know or care if it was there too).

Completely unbalanced allotment of race feats among the different races (I'm looking at you dwarf).

Classes that weren't even interesting enough to be a bit character in any of the 4e novels. If its too hard for a writer that gets payed to fit them into a compelling story somethings wrong. This is a small issue though

Class feats tax. No feat should be so powerful that it surpasses their class features.

The large quantity of untyped attack/damage bonuses and their ability to stack.

Dragon articles being used to "attempt" to fix an entire classes with a single powers. (Yeah I finally got 1-2 powers that are only "somewhat worst" then a wizards spread across 30 levels! Woot).

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke
1) I think I like the idea of bounded accuracy - gets rid of several of my irks as well as allowing you to substitute new ideas for old (no need for christmas tree effect due to needing +x by y level to keep up with the numbers, allows the use of "old monsters" instead of minions).

2) As touched on above get rid of christmas tree effect- I think bounded accuracy helps here but really what I want is for magic items to be special unless they are small fairly innocuos things like short term charms etc.

3)  The economic assumptions- I hate them.  Throw them out.  If the mobs are ac 15 because they use scale and shield I SHOULD be able to sell that stuff even if it's for a pittance.  Plus the christmas tree effect.  When an adventuring party is wearing the equivalent of the combined gdp of every nation in the world something is wrong.

4) Increase the options for each level for "legacy" sake for wizards spells.  One of the major gripes I've seen is that wizards couldn't have the flexibility of previous versions.  To be honest I didn't have much of a problem with it personally but I can see where it would have been a downer for spellslingers from other editions.  Let wizards spellbook be a "special" they get that gives them a LOT of flexibility but no more sheer power than other classes.  Yes flexibility does translate into power itself but if none of the spells themselves are too overpowered then the class won['t get too out of hand.


5) Rituals- love the concept hate the execution.  Reduce the costs, maybe handle rituals a bit more like they seem to be in next for some things (thus giving back some of the flexibility wizard players from previous editions were missing.

6) Tone down hp, tone down off turn actions, reduce conditions - whatever it takes to speed up combat turns and encounters.

7) I like the idea of combining powers for different classes.  Maybe have a Martial list, Divine list etc of common powers that are modified by your specific class abilities or role (great idea foxface)


 
I think it goes without saying that we have pretty similar tastes overall.

I'm a huge fan of 4e.  I like it at a structural level, and by that I mean I like the fundamental design choices of the edition.  The priority towards balance, the unified progression (in itself an extension of the balance goal), the keyword-based design, etc.

I also like it at a stylistic, tonal level.  I like that the mechanics emphasize high heroics, and cinematic action.  I like that the "world" as presented is ideal for adventuring, and not overly concerned with metaphysical explanations for things.  For example, the cosmology is focused on having planes that evoke the tropes of fantasy, rather than planes that codify structure and exist only to explain game elements ("Good" exists because there is a Plane of Good, and "Fire" exists because there is a Plane of Fire, etc).

In short, I like that the rules are codified and clear (for ease of play) and the world is loose and free (for ease of storytelling).  These are my preferences, and I make no claim to the superiority or objectivity of them.


Hah! But I do! My way is better! Say it 3 times THE MAD ARAB'S WAY IS BEST! (Oh and say my name 3 times and you can summon me from Carcosa too!).


That being said, there is much I would change.


TRAITOR!


1) Get rid of what I call "number porn", or numbers increasing arbitrarily.  PC's attacks and defenses increase in order to keep pace with monsters defenses and attack, which increase in order to keep pace with the ever-increasing attacks and defenses of PC's.  It gets a bit silly, when you think about it.


Meh, after looking at the implications of 'flat math' I'm not convinced that I care about this. So what if you add 42 to your to-hit at level 30 instead of say 12? Its not like this is somehow some new thing either. 1e/2e fighters got +1/level and on top of that at least another +12 was easily expected from magic by the time you hit 20th level, so you're talking about at least a +32 to-hit (even if a bunch of it was hidden inside changing THAC0 it was still a to-hit bonus).


2) The Christmas Tree Effect.  While less obscene than it was in 3e, the Christmas Tree Effect was still present, and still annoying.  Partly (or entirely) due to the persistent need to keep up with a steadily rising monster stats, PCs had to have a A) a weapon, B) an armor, and C) a neck-slot item, and had to regularly upgrade them, if they wanted to be able to reasonably interact with the challenges of adventuring.  This was solved partway with Inherent Bonuses, but that was only a band-aid.  Inherent Bonuses still fed into the Number Porn from issue #1.


Meh, I could go for enhancment bonus being eliminated from the game, but short of that it is hard to see how you're going to avoid an expected +6 enhancement bonus to both defense and offense. It is just a traditional part of the game.


Thankfully, DDN is embracing Bounded Accuracy, which goes a looooooong way to solving both of these "problems".  Bounded Accuracy keeps both monsters and PCs from needlessly increasing their numbers to keep pace with each other, and allows magic items to truly be a bonus, one that can remain relevant for the entire career of the PC.  My fighter can now truly keep his Grandfather's Sword, that symbol of his family's honor, and not be crippled against the [insert crazy-ass monster] several levels later.


Bounded accuracy also creates a large amount of hit point bloat, or else a game where there is effectively 20 levels of not really progressing much. I'd much rather the devs worked on making all levels of play actually work instead of just back door eliminating everything outside of the sweet spot by making the old level 20 into the new level 6. I think it is basically a copout, or at least a grave misunderstanding of what has made D&D popular (which IMHO is MAINLY the large range of character power growth).


3) Too many conditions.  This is a two-way street.  I actually like that 4e had a much more constrained conditions list.  3e, from what I remember (I no longer have my 3e books) had a much longer list of possible conditions.  That said, there are far too many ways in 4e to add what conditions were present.  Between wizards and other controllers stacking condition after condition on a single target, locking it down to the point of uselessness, to reams of conditions, all with their own timing and tracking needs...it just became too much.

Rather than having powers/abilities/spells apply conditions, I think I'd prefer not having any conditions at all as we know them (prone, paralyzed, stunned, dazed, asleep, etc).  Instead, I'd like to see something much simpler, like "lose a turn" or "lose an action", and let the players and DM narrate in what form these penalties come, in accordance to their needs and narrative.  "Oh, this ability knocks someone over?  Then that someone loses an action as they get back up" or even the reverse like "This ability causes my target to lose an action.  I'll describe it as knocking the guy on his butt."  Fewer rules with broader applications.


Hmmmm, that's an interesting thought, but then you run into the danger of every guy that writes up a power having a different idea of what making someone dizzy does to them. Still, it is an idea to consider seriously. I suspect you'd still end up with many, maybe most, of the existing conditions, but maybe not.

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.


Totally agree. I think 5e has done a fine job in this department, and in fact it mirrors things I recommended in past "what would you do to 4e" threads and other places. Well, at least there is ONE thing in 5e that they got right...

5) Feat bloat.  There are couple of reasons for feat bloat, and all of them need to be addressed in separate fashions.  One of the first reasons is simply bad design.  When you have lots of feats that offer small bonuses in narrow circumstances, you have lots of feats that simply won't be picked because they won't come into play often enough to warrant selection.  All they accomplish is add to the bloat.  Far better to have fewer feats that offer significant changes to the PC.


Mercy me yes. There are a LOT of ways to skin this cat though, and I'm far from being certain which would be best. It goes deeper than just feats.

Second reason is feat patches.  If some game element isn't working as intended (due to design oversight or whatnot), far better to errata and update rather than release yet another feat.  Not only does that create an otherwise unneeded feat that adds to bloat, but it "costs" the player a valuable character design resource that could be better spent elsewhere. 

Third reason is several feats that are similar in form and function, but different in only a small way.  There are a series of feats in 4e, for example, that provide bonuses to energy-type attacks.  Astral Fire, Burning Blizzard, Dark Fury, etc, are all feats that do the same basic thing (bonus to attacks with specific energy-type), and have very similar requirements (13 in certain stats).  Probably better to have just one feat that says something like "Gain X bonus in energy type(s) of your choice.  Requires a 13 in 2 of the following: Int, Wis, Cha."  Yeah, it is less specific, but it cuts down on lots of needless distinction.


Maybe. OTOH it cuts down on color too. Still, I think it is always worth considering bang for your buck.

6) Power bloat.  One of the downsides to the established design of 4e is that every class had its own powers, from levels 1-30.  When two classes are similar and need similar tools (like two battlefield controlling defender classes both needing a way to knock enemies down, or away), the designers had to make separate powers for each of them.  I think having powers from a common pool that anyone can pick up, or at least anyone of a particular power source (like Martial, or Divine) or particular role (like Defender, or Striker) would cut down on a lot of bloat.

No need to have 3 separate powers do more or less the same thing in slightly different ways.  Better to have one power that is modified in execution based on class features.


Amen brother. I go for the power source based pools, that would allow each source to have a strong cohesive identity and be distinct from each other source. Sources right now are somewhat distinctive but not very.

7) Daily Powers as "Dailies".  There are three sorts of time-keeping in an RPG.  There's real-world time, as in the hours the group spends at the table; game-time, as in the time that the characters experience; and there are sequence-timers, like turns and rounds, that are not inherently connected to any time construct at all, and exist only as a game mechanic, though many do get an associated "game-time" like a "round" lasting approximately 6 seconds.

In 4e, at-wills and encounter powers are tied to game constructs.  The at-will power is tied to a turn.  If it is your turn, you can perform this action.  There is not a specific time frame for this action.  Maybe it takes 1 second.  Maybe it takes 10.  6 seconds is a common association.   The rules don't care.  As far as the rules are concerned, it takes a turn, however long a turn happens to be.  The encounter power is tied to the similarly nebulous encounter.  Maybe an encounter takes 1 round, or 5, or even 10.  Maybe those rounds equal 5 minutes, or maybe half an hour.  Generally, the advice is that an encounter is about 5 minutes long (just as a turn/round is about 6 seconds).  But ultimately, an encounter power can be re-used at the next encounter, however long that is.  Furthermore, I would rename "encounter" as "scene", to established narrative connection.

Yet daily powers aren't tied to a nebulous game mechanic.  They are tied to an in-world game-time, a "day" that exists as 24 hours in the world of the campaign.  If I were to change things, I'd tie the "daily" powers to something more of a game construct, like "the adventure", or (to reference something already existent in 4e) "the milestone".

The alternative is to tie everything into actual game-time.  Every 6 seconds, every 5 minutes, every day, but I think that would be overly tedious to track fiddly numbers.  The abstract measurements of rounds, scenes, and adventures is far suitable.



Eh, I am not sure I care about rounds and encounters, they work fine as they are BOTH mechanical and narrative. Rounds are actually defined to be 6 seconds, no ifs ands or buts about it. You might stretch that a bit now and then if you wish, but that association seems to work pretty well and consistently. While encounters are not exactly a fixed length I've never found that this bothers me. The concept is once the encounter ends the tension leaves the scene, the PCs lower their guard a bit, and relax. Given that encounters are pretty consistently around 5 to 8 rounds long the variance is pretty slight. I don't think we need to be THAT bound to simulationist concepts, and in any case it mostly applies to magic. If it bothers you then make up a Law of Magic to explain it.

Dailies have caused people the most heartburn. Given that I think A/E usage is basically already tied to concrete times and that doesn't 'fix' daily power issues I think the only answer is to attach them to some gamist construct if you are going to deal with it in game terms. The problem is it is a very blatant gamism that is hard to narratively justify and it crops up a lot, so it is really irritating. Frankly I don't think it is worth fixing. IMHO 5mwd and novas exist, but they're just logical extensions of HAVING resources. While I do want the game to avoid making these issues worse, I'm perfectly happy with the status quo.

*******

So those are my primary changes.  I can think up more, but most anything more is tied to one of those 5 issues at their core.  Change those 7 things, and I imagine 99% of my other issues with 4e vanish.



Well, I have a different set of issues, but I'll talk about them in another post.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.



I agree for the most party, but I think there should be a cost for actions only if they require an attack roll. Those in my experience are the actions that slow everything down. I would like to still have room for powers like the shield spell that increase your AC temporarily without having to lose a turn to benefit from it.

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.



I agree for the most party, but I think there should be a cost for actions only if they require an attack roll. Those in my experience are the actions that slow everything down. I would like to still have room for powers like the shield spell that increase your AC temporarily without having to lose a turn to benefit from it.


I think those kinds of buffs could be recast as long duration buffs. In other words "Once during the next 24 hours reduce the damage done by one attack on you by 10 points". In fact these could be rituals, that reduces the need to even have combat utility powers at all, and puts more focus on the ritual subsystem. Then they can also come in the form of scrolls or single use consumables. I would actually make one unified 'consumable' concept, and allow them to be fluffed as rituals, scrolls, potions, etc as desired. Each manifestation would have some quirk of its own, and different characters could learn to create different types of consumable. Some of course could still do unique things if you want, but that can be more of a setting type of decision than something hard coded into the rules.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
4e Fans: What would you change about 4e?

No Essentials backpeddling would have been good.  Solid attack/defense, monster & SC math from the beginning.  No split-primary classes.  For a start.

Oh, and it should have been OGL, so it'd've had a chance of getting 3pps on board, which would have undercut the whole edition war phenomenon instead of fueling it into a firestorm.  

And, of course, it's life-cycle: we should be only about half-way through the run of 4e, not looking back at it.

If DDN was going to be using ONLY 4e matarial to produce a revised verison of the rules, what would you scrap? What would you change and why?

There's certainly quite a lot that still could be done with 4e, and a lot more that could be done re-building it from the ground up.  Possibly the biggest opportunities for improvement are Multi-classing and the recently-articulated concept of the 'Three Pillars.'

Multi-Classing:

4e multi-classing was 'weak' (in the system sense, not just in the game-balance sense) and over-priced.  With powers reasonably balanced among the various classes, swapping each power shouldn't cost a feat.  Of course, preserving a vestige of the Wizard's high-power spells with the rationalization of the ill-defined 'controller' role meant that all powers weren't reasonably-balanced, controller powers tended to carry more of the class/role functionality than controller class features, relative to the other roles and classes.  So powers of a given level would have to be balanced regardless of the class that gets them.  That would help with multi-classing, and also allow some powers to be consolidated by Source, eliminating many redundant powers.  Multi-classing would then be a matter of taking a feat or perhaps a more significant option, like a Theme, that opens up the option of swapping some of your powers out for those of the other class.  It might even be designed so that enough re-training would let you change classes, completely...

The Pillars:

4e did a good job of balancing classes and encounters, in combat.  The other two 'pillars,' not so much.  Expanding the resources of PCs into Exploration and Interaction and balancing those abilities would be a huge plus.  Maybe this could be done class by class, or perhaps with more expansive Backgrounds (primarily contributing to Interaction) and Themes (Exploration) or even figuring Race into it.  Whatever the aproach, each  major character-creation element needs to be balanced within each of the three Pillars.  That way a campaign can emphasize any one of the three without wrecking game balance.  For instance, Classes might be primarily about combat, but also contribute to the other two pillars - the proportion of resource devoted to each pillar should be the same for each class.  The same would go for Backgrounds, Races and Themes.  Feats, being very much a customization tool might more reasonably be pillar-specific, allowing a PC to be stilted towards one pillar if desired.
 

 

 

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One of my big goals would be OVERALL bloat reduction. First I would return to a 20 level progression, making heroic tier go to level 6 (the traditional 'low levels') and then paragon would be something like 7-14, and epic would be 15-20. If desired there could be some sort of 'Immortal' play beyond that, but I don't think that needs to be addressed very urgently, if at all. The purpose of doing this is manifold. First of all it is more in keeping with traditional D&D (see below). Secondly it eliminates a lot of 'filler' levels that have powers and feats and bonuses tied to them that don't really do a lot for character progression. Thirdly it means a campaign can progress a bit more quickly in a comfortable way. As it is now even if you advance a level a week (about 2-3x the average pace) you can't finish a full campaign in much under a year. At reasonable rates of advancement it is more like a 2-3 year proposition. With fewer levels you have more flexibility to push advancement and now a 20 week campaign is possible, which is FAST, but for many of us that would be kind of a nice pace. Frankly it is hard to sustain a game for years at a time these days.

More tradition. I think 4e is well designed and mostly reasonably well presented but one of the things, maybe even the KEY thing, that got people's hackles up was the way it seemed to almost deliberately ditch a lot of basic D&D color. What reason was there for not producing a 4e spell that recaptured EVERY single one of the traditional 1e spells? I mean a few of them might have ended up a lot different, but AFAIK 70 or 80% of the NAMES weren't even reused! That just seemed egregious. I think a lot of powers could also not only have their old names but be closer to their old niches. Fireball in the old days was the primary AoE damage spell, it was a go-to spell, and while not the cleverest use of a spell slot ever it was at least an old familiar tool. 4e's Fireball is a lowsey spell, it is barely a footnote in the game and there are plenty of other AoE's that fill basically the same niche but do it better. In other words I would really seriously rewrite the whole power list, and perhaps some other things, in order to insure that there was a greater feeling of continuity without sacrificing better rules. I think this is fully doable. I think it would make a much more familiar feeling and more acceptable game without costing anything in terms of game quality.

I would put most powers into source based pools. This is another part of the whole war on bloat. Cut to 20 levels, that cuts out 1/3 of ALL powers in the game (class ones anyway). Now get rid of 2/3 of what is left and replace it with source-wide powers, that gets rid of another 50% or so of all remaining powers. Finally make powers scale. Instead of constantly replacing them with the same power that just has some added minor twist to it, just make the powers get better with level, that gets rid of another 50% of all remaining powers. Now, where powers are highly attached to themes that are usable across classes, I would move them into themes, this can further reduce the power lists and some more powers will probably become redundant. Finally I would reintroduce some of the lost distinctiveness by providing some of these powers with a high degree of synergy with certain class features. For instance mage schools would be perfect here. Yes, most arcane casters can access the same basic summoning spells, but a Summoner is in a whole other league when he casts them. The net effect would be to take the 10,000 existing 4e powers and reduce it by a factor of about 10. I would ideally shoot for around 400 powers, but some of that would come from simply having fewer classes and probably a couple fewer power sources.

On another front I would look a lot more closely at character mechanics in the light of how well they really reflect the story they are intended to tell. While I am not a fan of arbitrary restrictions and 'mechanics' that purely invoke RP and then are treated like character resources (the old followers for instance) I do think that a lot of the time 4e would do something like have some fluff about how your PP had to do with becoming incredibly fast or something like that and then there would be some very niche mechanical benefit. I think broad thematic benefits would be better, with the understanding that the DM should be interpreting how your super speed or whatever interacts with the narrative ALL OF THE TIME instead of just in terms of one little mechanical benefit. A LOT of the 4e elements have GREAT color, and they have perfectly nice workable mechanics, and the 2 DO connect, but they often don't feel like a whole coherent story. I do NOT believe that a game constructed in the way 4e is can't tell a story that way just as well as any other edition of D&D or any other RPG. In fact it is exactly how I've used the 4e rules all along, but I want to see that presented to everyone and pefected.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.



I agree for the most party, but I think there should be a cost for actions only if they require an attack roll. Those in my experience are the actions that slow everything down. I would like to still have room for powers like the shield spell that increase your AC temporarily without having to lose a turn to benefit from it.


I think those kinds of buffs could be recast as long duration buffs. In other words "Once during the next 24 hours reduce the damage done by one attack on you by 10 points". In fact these could be rituals, that reduces the need to even have combat utility powers at all, and puts more focus on the ritual subsystem. Then they can also come in the form of scrolls or single use consumables. I would actually make one unified 'consumable' concept, and allow them to be fluffed as rituals, scrolls, potions, etc as desired. Each manifestation would have some quirk of its own, and different characters could learn to create different types of consumable. Some of course could still do unique things if you want, but that can be more of a setting type of decision than something hard coded into the rules.



I was speaking more to the action economy use, but the consumable idea is interesting. 

Having the type of magic item be fluff for consumables would be very interesting. That allows for more create description of similar without having to house rule. Removing any mechanical reason why a wand of healing isn't  just a mechanical alchemy device with healing cartridges would definitely make me happy.

I also like the idea of having some mechanics introduced as part of the setting. In the "Fighters Suck" setting they can have something that say hey if the fluff has the word wand/scroll/ritual/magic in it you have to have be a magic using class to use it. I would love to see the setting have as much a meaningful impact on a game as having a background has a meaningful impact on a character.

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke

If DDN was going to be using ONLY 4e matarial to produce a revised verison of the rules, what would you scrap? What would you change and why?



When you really look at the 4e ruleset, the first thing that pops up to me is that the 8-18 ability scores add a needless extra step to character creation. It was retained as an artifact of the old 3d6 system, but other than carrying capacity and starting hit points, only the ability modifiers derived from the scores ever sees regular use during actual play.

So the first thing I'd scrap/change is dropping the 8-18 scores and instead buying the ability modifiers (-1 to +4) directly. I would retain the bumps at 4, 8, 11, 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28 though because the increased values (a net modifier bump of +4 to two and +2 to the rest) will close the math holes (allowing me to get rid of the expertise and improved defense feat taxes). I might even add an additional +1 to two ability modifers at 2, 6, 12, 16, 22, and 26 as well and then remove enhancement bonuses from weapons, armor, and neck slot items.

The next thing I'd scrap/change is the concept of class skills and differing numbers of skills. Everyone gets four trained skills of their choice regardless of class. Certain classes would excel at certain skills because their key abilities match up with them, but if a big burly fighter would rather use his skill trainings to shore up weak points (ex. training in Int or Cha based skills) instead of improving his strengths (training in Str, Con, Dex, or Wis based skills) that should be a valid choice.

Next, I'd look at getting rid of Armor Class by folding it into the NAD's based on the type of weapon used to attack (brute force would target Fort, precise weapons would target Reflex and weapons that rely on trickery or distraction might even target Will). Armor would provide varying bonuses to Fort, Reflex and perhaps even Will (ex. a tinfoil helmet to block mental rays Tongue Out).

To compensate for the increased NAD values, implements would gain proficiency bonuses and base damage values (ex. a staff might be +2 proficiency and inflict 1d8 damage, while a wand is +3 and 1d6 damage). Since we're rewriting the whole thing, I'd build the implement powers to do multiples of the implement's base damage just like the weapon powers (thus a fireball cast through a staff is less accurate, but does more damage than one cast through a wand).

Those are the major systemic changes I'd make to the core 4E engine (at least to start with). I'm not going to bother with claims of cutting down on bloat. That ALWAYS happens with the launch of a new edition anyway and will always return over time with the need of the company to sell more products down the line. Better to focus on making the core mechanics as robust as possible so that its harder for the bloat to break the system.

4) Too many off-turn actions.  This, for me, is the single largest contributor to combat length bloat.  While some degree of off-turn actions are welcome to enhance tactical play and serve to break up the monotony of round-robin, you-go-I-go combat, when you have too many of them, it slows everything down.  Having actions taken out-of-turn "cost" you your next action is a fine compromise.



I agree for the most party, but I think there should be a cost for actions only if they require an attack roll. Those in my experience are the actions that slow everything down. I would like to still have room for powers like the shield spell that increase your AC temporarily without having to lose a turn to benefit from it.


I think those kinds of buffs could be recast as long duration buffs. In other words "Once during the next 24 hours reduce the damage done by one attack on you by 10 points". In fact these could be rituals, that reduces the need to even have combat utility powers at all, and puts more focus on the ritual subsystem. Then they can also come in the form of scrolls or single use consumables. I would actually make one unified 'consumable' concept, and allow them to be fluffed as rituals, scrolls, potions, etc as desired. Each manifestation would have some quirk of its own, and different characters could learn to create different types of consumable. Some of course could still do unique things if you want, but that can be more of a setting type of decision than something hard coded into the rules.



I was speaking more to the action economy use, but the consumable idea is interesting. 

Having the type of magic item be fluff for consumables would be very interesting. That allows for more create description of similar without having to house rule. Removing any mechanical reason why a wand of healing isn't  just a mechanical alchemy device with healing cartridges would definitely make me happy.

I also like the idea of having some mechanics introduced as part of the setting. In the "Fighters Suck" setting they can have something that say hey if the fluff has the word wand/scroll/ritual/magic in it you have to have be a magic using class to use it. I would love to see the setting have as much a meaningful impact on a game as having a background has a meaningful impact on a character.


Yeah, I was just thinking that if stuff like 'shield' was a 'consumable' (thus it has a cost, even if it is actually a ritual you cast on yourself at the start of the day) then action economy is not so important, you just make it a 'no action' kind of a thing. Because it has a GP cost (and maybe you can only be under the influence of N buffs at a time) there just won't be a huge number of interrupts. Once you blow your one or two available ones for the day you're done, and truthfully you probably blow them all earlier rather than later since a 'bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush' so things will rapidly devolve down to few/no interrupt type buff stuff going on.

The campaign based flavor mechanics thing is a cool idea. You could allow/disallow various categories of things or effects and like you say put certain different limitations, costs, etc on some of them to create a different tone. Eberron might fluff a lot of stuff as 'magi-tech' where healing is "injecting some nano-constructs into the patient's bloodstream" and in an S&S setting it is some sort of weird witchcraft that you invoke with a painted rune, and in traditional dungeon crawl it is a healing potion.

Which leads to another area that would have gotten a LOT of attention in my book in retrospect, and that is refluffing and repurposing of material.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I'll throw my voice in, as succinctly as possible. Here's what would make 4e better for me:


  • Less scaling. Like D&D Next's Bounded Accuracy; including making magical item enhancement bonuses rarer and smaller.

  • Power bloat: Unnecessary repetition of powers through multiple classes, including slight variations. Classes having spell list-style entries that take from previous sources as well as adding new stuff would be good.

  • More non-combat features in classes.

  • Fewer feats; too many invalidated or simply redundant feats, and too many mechanics-specific feats.

  • Skills: Counter to the first point, I kinda want these to have some natural scaling. Somewhere between 4e's simplicity and 3.5's constant management. But less management than that.

  • Creatures built using player rules should be given guides in official sources.

  • Diseases and Poisons should be made more frequent in creature and environment entries, with EXP values if used in combat.


I don't expect 4th edition to see this kind of revision, though. But I guess people probably said the same about 3rd edition in 2002, now didn't they?
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
 Yeah, I was just thinking that if stuff like 'shield' was a 'consumable' (thus it has a cost, even if it is actually a ritual you cast on yourself at the start of the day) then action economy is not so important, you just make it a 'no action' kind of a thing. Because it has a GP cost (and maybe you can only be under the influence of N buffs at a time) there just won't be a huge number of interrupts. Once you blow your one or two available ones for the day you're done, and truthfully you probably blow them all earlier rather than later since a 'bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush' so things will rapidly devolve down to few/no interrupt type buff stuff going on.

The campaign based flavor mechanics thing is a cool idea. You could allow/disallow various categories of things or effects and like you say put certain different limitations, costs, etc on some of them to create a different tone. Eberron might fluff a lot of stuff as 'magi-tech' where healing is "injecting some nano-constructs into the patient's bloodstream" and in an S&S setting it is some sort of weird witchcraft that you invoke with a painted rune, and in traditional dungeon crawl it is a healing potion.

Which leads to another area that would have gotten a LOT of attention in my book in retrospect, and that is refluffing and repurposing of material.



I would like to definition of what a "no action" to be clearly defined. The actual specifics of the constraint on these type of action I haven't really given a whole lot of thought to. I think the act of preparing a spell in a spell slot would be enough of a cost, but having other means to get similiar effect at cost would be nice to have available for people who can't get it through a class feature.

I think option settings modules with those types of flavor mechanics specific to the settings would be great. It could potentially demonstrate how 5e can provide a different play experiences under the same rules set and be used as a example for DMs creating their own setting rules. That would be valuable to new DMs and could be a major selling point for the game in general.
 

Big Model: Creative Agenda
Love 4e? Concerned about its future? join the Old Guard of 4th Edition
Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke
The biggest thing that needs to be redone with 4E, is bring back the flavor of older editions by making powers more meaningful, diverse, and remove some of the weapon or implement limits when appropriate. You could also bring back features of older edition monsters. Then add more too it to flesh out rituals, martial practices, alchemy, etc. and add more to the non-combat side of the house by expanding out a system for utility based effects. Everything dicussed with 5E could be added to 4E, because 4E already has a light chassis you can add to or adjust. Even bounded accuracy could be presented, because you would just scale things down, this includes making combat more gritty by scaling back hit points. The last thing they would need to do is revamp the condition system. It could be as simple as all conditions end at the end of the next turn, or expand how long they last.

We are not talking monumental changes, but unfortunately that ship has passed.
 Yeah, I was just thinking that if stuff like 'shield' was a 'consumable' (thus it has a cost, even if it is actually a ritual you cast on yourself at the start of the day) then action economy is not so important, you just make it a 'no action' kind of a thing. Because it has a GP cost (and maybe you can only be under the influence of N buffs at a time) there just won't be a huge number of interrupts. Once you blow your one or two available ones for the day you're done, and truthfully you probably blow them all earlier rather than later since a 'bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush' so things will rapidly devolve down to few/no interrupt type buff stuff going on.

The campaign based flavor mechanics thing is a cool idea. You could allow/disallow various categories of things or effects and like you say put certain different limitations, costs, etc on some of them to create a different tone. Eberron might fluff a lot of stuff as 'magi-tech' where healing is "injecting some nano-constructs into the patient's bloodstream" and in an S&S setting it is some sort of weird witchcraft that you invoke with a painted rune, and in traditional dungeon crawl it is a healing potion.

Which leads to another area that would have gotten a LOT of attention in my book in retrospect, and that is refluffing and repurposing of material.



I would like to definition of what a "no action" to be clearly defined. The actual specifics of the constraint on these type of action I haven't really given a whole lot of thought to. I think the act of preparing a spell in a spell slot would be enough of a cost, but having other means to get similiar effect at cost would be nice to have available for people who can't get it through a class feature.

I think option settings modules with those types of flavor mechanics specific to the settings would be great. It could potentially demonstrate how 5e can provide a different play experiences under the same rules set and be used as a example for DMs creating their own setting rules. That would be valuable to new DMs and could be a major selling point for the game in general.
 

Well, you bring up an interesting possibility. Something like 'Shield' could be a standard action to cast. At that point you've sacrificed an action, so on the average the effect has to be worth that action. It has to AT LEAST cost the enemy an action with the same 100% certainty that casting it cost you an action. I'm sure it is possible to do that in some fashion (for example the power could cause an attack to automatically miss and then do some minor damage or effect to the attacker). That would cut back a lot on the use of that sort of thing. It would never be worthwhile to spend most of the fight casting those sorts of defensive spells. You'd maybe sometimes cast one, and again that would mean there would be few interrupts going off.

Yeah, the DMG could have a section on 'campaign flavor' that could provide some example customization modules. They could also be useful as-is for when a DM say wants to do a quick one-off or do a little side trip in a campaign (like say where the S&S characters visit the magitech universe for a day).
That is not dead which may eternal lie
One thing I would change would be the math. Specifically, the damage-HP ratio. It's okay at lower levels, but by the time you reach paragon tier, you will likely be tired of session-long combat. Our group uses doubled damage and healing, and this seems to work. I feel like the math in the second playtest packet went in the opposite direction from 4e, but too far. Now we have orcs that get blown to smithereens with every swing of the Fighter's axe. Even powerful foes like Drow go down too fast if the heroes get more than one hit in.
One thing I would change would be the math. Specifically, the damage-HP ratio. It's okay at lower levels, but by the time you reach paragon tier, you will likely be tired of session-long combat. Our group uses doubled damage and healing, and this seems to work. I feel like the math in the second playtest packet went in the opposite direction from 4e, but too far. Now we have orcs that get blown to smithereens with every swing of the Fighter's axe. Even powerful foes like Drow go down too fast if the heroes get more than one hit in.

Yeah, oddly the 'attacks to kill' numbers for 4e are more aggresive than AD&D, considerably. That tells me that it isn't the damage OUTPUT to hit points that is the real issue. There are 2 things that are different. One is that you HIT more often in 4e than in 1e, but you do less damage per hit. On average it takes the same number of attacks to kill an opponent, roughly, but most rounds also take longer. In 1e most rounds go fast, except for the few that go REALLY slow. I think people generally remember what sticks most in their minds. They remember the times when they got a single big hit in 1e and the monster fell down dead. All the times that the casters spent burning time figuring out some spell or buffing everyone etc don't register so much.

Of course there's a lesson there. Personally I think there should be somewhat less daily big bang powers, but when they come up they should really make a bigger impact, and situational bonuses should be more significant. Actually the second part 5e has done well with advantage/disadvantage. The first part its hard to tell, but its a different system anyway. So, that would be one of my 4e tweaks, more dramatic powers. 4e is very consistent and non-swingy, which generally is good, but I think a little tweaking would bring some good dividends there.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
If I were to make next, I'd keep dailies for all classes. I know that not everyone likes that, but I like it, and you asked me. I'd keep the background, specialty, and class, but I'd make background always be non-combat and class always combat. So, your thief would really be a dagger master/scout, and your fighter would really be a fighter/thug. Right now, if you have a fighter and a thief in the party, they'll never be equally good - during combat the thief will be looking for ways to make it non combat, and during the non combat, the fighter will be looking for ways to drag it back into combat. Better that every character has something special that they can do for both combat and non combat.

Under that model, wizards are probably mage/rituAl caster, since in the play test, they can do everything.

Thanks everyone for your replies. I realise that my post was probably flogging another dead horse but my experience with 4e is limited and what I'm reading here is giving me some insight into the system I didn't have before and that's really valuable.



The core issues you're describing here are all present in 3e, really. Power bloat could be replaced with PrC and spell bloat but those were the vehicles for powers. Feat bloat is a huge problem with the system as well. Conditions are a constant headache. One thing 4e did that was kinda cool was they created classes that actually brought them into play, but that also highlighted exactly how much of a pain they are.


Ditching 3-18 ability scores... heh ballsy move. I could see that working really well but holy god there'd be uproar.


I'm more of a gridless kind of guy so I found the highly gridbound system annoying, but describing things as "squares" without a visual reference isn't that different from describing things in feet so it's not a gigantic problem.



Rest day... yeah. I think that's probably the toughest nut to crack, but I agree that time increments that don't allude to actual time periods would be best. Rounds and encoutners (or scenes, as suggested. hehe very World of Darkness) are handy for the reasons stated: they could mean anything but are clearly definable and beyond the control of the players. The whole notion of starting a new day in terms of game powers by resting for 8 hours creates a really odd situation where the players have some measure of control over how long a day actually is. 4e mitigated some of the problem with encounter powers and at-will powers, but from what I understand the argument over when you can rest only shifted from how long a day is to how long it is 'till the next encounter.


Maybe the thing to do is define a day as "sunrise to sunrise" and rather than tying abilities to something the players can control we just have them refresh every sunrise provided there was an 8 hour rest period at some point between one sunrise and the next.


As for resting between encounters, the convention could be changed to saying all encounter base abilities are refreshed at the start of a new encounter provided the DM has actually announced the end of one and the start of another. The old World of Darkness games did that with scenes: abilities would last a scene, and a scene was however long the storyteller wanted them to be. Players would be in this constant game of poker with the storyteller because if you were to activate a bunch of abilities that lasted a scene, they could be wasted by the storyteller declaring the end of a scene right before a major event (combat or somesuch). It was a nice bit of tension in the game.

Here is what I would like changed in 4e:

Skill difficulties reduced by 5 and training giving roll 2d20 take highest.

1/2 level scaling to remain but other scaling bonuses removed (enhancement, expertise, ability score increases). This will flatten out the math by about 15 points over 30 levels and allow for low level monsters to stay relevant longer.

Charging to lose all magic item support. Charging does too much damage. Charging has a great tactical use but should not be the go to means for damage for most classes.

Total damage and HP amounts lowered. High damage characters reduced to be more in line with others. Monster HP reduced significantly enough that fights are shorter.

Removal of most daily resources.

A reduction in the total number of powers an AEDU character has. Maybe 3 At-will, 3 encounter, and 3 utility.

Classes with varied and interesting mechanics (not all AEDU).

Less micromanaging to keep track of. Conditions should be less common, especially ongoing ones. There is a lot to keep track of in a fight do having every monster capable of performing an attack that has "save ends" really slows the game down.

Minions should have no special attacks. Normal monsters should only have 1 encounter power. Elite monsters should have recharging powers. Solo monsters should have recharging powers, reactions, and save ends effects. This will help speed up combat.

Reactions should be rare for PCs. Action types should be free, reaction, minor, move, standard. No action trading should be possible and minor and reaction attacks should be either extremely rare or nonexistent (except for opportunity attacks which will be reactions). This will simplify and speed up combat.
Change 4E?
Why, I'm glad you asked.
Caveat: These are all personal preference.

Sell me finished products. I don't want monthly patches.

Spruce up the presentation. ~snip hour long rant~

Provide some support for ditching the grid. I hate trying to run cinematic combat in 5'x5' squares. 

Give me more racial support. Not just some feats and a Paragon path. Actual Racial powers.
 Also, Skill powers as options by default rather than requiring a feat to unlock.

Possibly tone down the number of Encounter combat powers available at one time, but definately dial up the Utility power availability.

Hard code in inherent bonus, ditch the expectation of magic items.

Cut back on lingering effects, don't eliminate them, just scale them back...

Can I just vernichtung everything called "Psionic" except the Monk and Wild Talent feat? 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
I would reduce the 1/2 level bonus to 1/5 level.
Remove the +'s from magic items.
Reduce the number of powers everyone has.  Say... 2 at-wills, 2 enounters, 2 dailies (replacing as you level).
More variety of power structure, and sub-classes for power sharing (Which happened, but late in 4e).
Utility powers should actually be utility(non-combat) powers, not defensive powers.
Reduce prerequisits (and redundancy) of feats, by allowing them to work in more situations.
*Rebalance monsters with the new expectations.


The other main issue people had with 4e was presentation.  Doesn't bother me much, but alot of people where turned off before they actually played the game simply because it "looked like WoW" or something.



All this good mello said !

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Sell me finished products. I don't want monthly patches.


oh god yes, please. Can we save errata for those last resort situations where nobody can agree? Can the online supplement only be used to expand existing things (like my suggestion in the monster thread about templates) rather than introduce new stuff?


That is probably the single largest barrier I can see to getting into the game: all the online updates.



Provide some support for ditching the grid. I hate trying to run cinematic combat in 5'x5' squares.  



This.

Some more, in no specific order:

- Less numbers bloat from progression

- Magic items and equipement (masterwork armor) not affecting math  

- Feats: 4E had a chance to fix the sprawling mess that were 3.x feats but actually made it worse by turning to them as math fixes. Do them right or just ditch the whole idea, please.

- Skills: get rid of no brainers like Perception and make skills accessible by any class (at least with a couple of free slots)

- Alternative ways of awarding experience for exploration, roleplay and things other than killing stuff

- Alternative options to 'dailies' for low frequency resources

- Roles to be less rigidly tied to classes (already started with Essential, but it shouldn't need to have sub-classes). That would also allow cutting down drastically on the number of classes.

- Faster combat. The new monsters stats are a step in the right direction but it needs to go further than that.         
@Uskglass There is actually a remedy to the second thing you mentioned- magic items & masterwork armor. If you use the Inherent Bonuses system introduced in Dark Sun, your characters gain increased attack, defense, and damage bonuses as they level. Just remove the +X component for magic weapons, armor and implements and you have more or less exactly what you're asking for. I'm not sure how you'd handle masterwork, though, since that's just a +X version of your armor.
@Uskglass There is actually a remedy to the second thing you mentioned- magic items & masterwork armor. If you use the Inherent Bonuses system introduced in Dark Sun, your characters gain increased attack, defense, and damage bonuses as they level. Just remove the +X component for magic weapons, armor and implements and you have more or less exactly what you're asking for. I'm not sure how you'd handle masterwork, though, since that's just a +X version of your armor.



Yes, I know. We've been using that since it became available in the builder
It works, but it is not an ideal solution to me. Also it doens't resolve the issue of heavy armors (not) scaling.
At this point I'm probably mostly repeating what other people have said, but -

- Strip away a lot of the unnecessary scaling. There's a huge amount of stuff in 4e that all scales together and ends up washing out for the most part. There are certainly some benefits to scaling, but 4e has way too much of it.
- Make magic items less important and more sexy. A bunch of 4e items have powers that read as boring or bad, and many of them are boring or bad. Meanwhile, unless you're using inherant bonuses, having magic items is just really, really important - but for their enhancement bonuses only, unless you're using one of a proportionately small number of weapons/armor whose powers aren't boring and/or bad.
- Figure out a better way to do action points or dump them. The idea that players have a way to pull out all the stops when they really need to is cool, but players figure out pretty quickly that frontloading impact is better, and action points tend to be used in round 1 or round 2 novas, rather than as a desperation play.
- Faster combat. This means making monsters relatively more offensively-oriented, but also fewer random triggered things.
- Figure out a way to present abilities such that they don't take up so much space. Launch was bad about this, but Essentials was outright horrible.*
- Figure out a way to futz with resource management in order to give situational abilities more of a place in the game.
- Figure out a way to not have challenge drop through the floor if there's only one encounter during the day, or decouple resource renewal even further from sleeping.
- Figure out a way to make summoning, having a pet, and wildshape somewhat more compelling mechanically.

*Seriously, this is what essentials looks like:
Show

Level 2: Utility Power

You are an awesome cleric. You got stronger and now you can do better cleric things. You have learned to be more cleric-y and are a better cleric. Your clerical skills have improved, cleric-wise.


Shield of Faith


You can shield people with your faith, forming a shield of faith. Clerics use shield of faith to shield people with their faith. Great clerics (like you, only in the past!) historically used shield of faith to shield people with their faith.


Shield of Faith                     Cleric Utility 2


You call forth a shield of faith, which shields people with your faith. It looks like a shield made of faith, so it's all shiny and stuff, which is what faith looks like. Maybe it's more of a dome than, like, a literal shield? It's not clear.

Daily * Divine
Minor Action   Close Burst 5
Target
You + Allies
Everyone gets +2 AC this encounter
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.
Make the powers a pool to choose from, not class specific.  Perhaps class would determine which powers you could take.  Break the powers into the group roles.  ( striker powers, defender powers, etc). Maybe also break them intopower sources also.
There are only a few things I would change about 4E, and those are fairly insignificant things.

1) Dump the Skill Challenge mechanic. It was, forst and foremost, unnecessary. It tried to formulize and codify what DMs have been doing all along, and did a fairly terrible job of it. It always felt like a tacked-on subsystem/minigame that didn't accomplish anything that simple skill/ability checks accomplished just fine.

2) Magic Item Dependence. Yes, the Inherent Bonus mechanic removed most of this issue, I just thought it never should've been an issue to begin with. The constant need to find that next +X item was silly, and took something away from the rest of the game. The old "character defined by his gear" mentality.

3) Combat Speed. Atrocious. Sluggish. Tedious. Most of the things others have said about this same topic apply to me as well.

That's really about it.      
I agree that too situaitional feats, to situations items, and the number scaling would be been better without.  Some power pooling would have been useful to cut down on repition and obviously inferior chocies, and on top of that the "X implement required for spell" was a really dumb idea, especially for characters that used weapon and implement together- I didn't want varying accuracy bonuses because I only have a weapon in the treasure pile. 
Something's wrong here... 

Everyone is agreeing with eachother.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Something's wrong here... 

Everyone is agreeing with eachother.



Not anymore....I disagree with your premise that everyone is agreeing with each other. And I agree to disagree that people are or are not agreeing with each other. Is this something we can agree on?
The only problem I personally would like to see addressed is the speed of combat. Lowering monster hps and upping their damage helps, but I would like to see hps reduced a bit more across the board.

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp