New Year, New 4e

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With the New Year nearly upon us, I find myself looking into my future. And my crystal ball is showing me DMing 4e for a long time – it’s the kind of fantasy action-adventure game my group and I want to play, and I don’t see us jumping into another game anytime soon. But it does have flaws.


 


I’m starting to mull over a real 4.5e reboot – an ironing-out of core issues that have never been addressed, and a refinement of everything that makes 4e awesome. I already have a lengthening to-do list for this project, from ‘make the math simple and elegant’ to ‘reverse engineer PC power guidelines’ to ‘do something about Second Wind.’ But I also want to hear from other 4e fans.


 


What do you see as 4e’s core problems? What would you like to see changed?

Really I feel this question has been examined, at length, on these forums a couple of times before.  And it seems like everyone and their mother is currently working on a version of 4.5.  My advice is to search around a bit on these forums and dredge up some responses from threads on this topic and put the highlights up to discuss.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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This is pretty much my plan for next year: keep playing 4e while improving the system where we thinks it needs to.
Here are some areas I would consider, in no specific order.


  • Speeding up combat - we are tackling this by increasing damage output with x2 crits and damage on a miss roll > 1 (PC only) equal to inherent bonus. Also we use average damage for monsters, to speed up the DM turns

  • Streamlined math - I'd like to try taking off the 1/2 level increase from PC and have monsters get 1/3 levels. That should keep the math pretty much balanced on the LV1 baseline all across

  • Gridless combat support - I've already made a thread on the subject here

  • Streamlining Feats - figuring out some way to simplify selection without having to go through the sprawling mess that is the feats list

  • Alternative to 'Daily' spells - We are experimenting with a recharge machanic, where evey round of combat (or dangerous situation) each PC rolls a d6 and gains a 'recharge token' on a 6 (or 5-6 when bloodied) to power up a 'daily' power; tokens can be kept for later too, but they reset to 1 after an extended rest

  • Alternative cost for Rituals - We are experimenting with healing surges

  • Gritty healing rules - Our houserule is that if a PC goes below 0 hp he loses a surge for the rest of the adventure (untli he can have a very long rest with medical care) 


There are surely many more, but here is a first stab at it. 
Some things I've been trying out with my players as of late...


  • Turning Insight, Perception and Find Magic into something more akin to senses rather than skills.

  • Skills have two ability score options instead of one. For instance, one can make an Endurance check with either their Con modifier or their Cha modifier.

  • Removing the static ability score bonus from all races, allowing players to pick whichever two of three ability score bonuses from the race they want.

  • Dividing attack types into Physical and Magical for ease of tracking bonuses.

  • Experimenting with the option for an H type build of all classes, offering two primary ability score options in addition to two secondary ability score options instead of one on either end like the A and V type builds.

  • Using the Inherent Bonus system as standard, and including a Tier bonus for attack rolls and NADs to eliminate the need for expertise feats and the Improved Defenses feat.

  • Reworking some feats and powers to not be so useless.

  • Encounter and Daily attack powers become Rechargeable in much the same way monsters often roll a d6 for it. Encounter powers can be rolled for recharge during an encounter, and continue to auto recharge during a short rest. Daily powers can only be rolled for recharge during a short rest, and only one daily recharge roll per short rest. Other recharge clauses may exist (when first bloodied, spend an action point, on a miss, when you have no more encounter/daily powers available, etc.)

  • Opening up the multiclass system so feats are not needed to take powers from your multiclass. Bards can only choose from their first multiclass to prevent abuse.


So far a lot of these are looking pretty good. Still trying to figure out how to work level based magic items (thinking of having it track the inherent bonus), and some other issues have been coming up along the way, but we may be using a lot of these options as standard at my table in the future.
TO be honest while I love 4e it does have many problems in it that make me not wanna play or run it they include but are not limited to:



  • Long Combat Encounters - Even with the fixed math of monster combat takes way too long. Sure the fights can be epic but I hate battling for 2 or 3 hours at a time.

  • Magic - What can I say I hate magic in 4e with a passion. I think it was the worst thing 4e done. From rituals which were poorly executed, magic items which lacked luster, and crappy spells (seriously where did all the classics go?)

  • Feats - The feats are just a big mess. Too many feats for the same thing, and some are clearly better. It's not like 3.5 where the clearly better feats are in a feat tree its just a matter of picking the feat now.

  • Danger - 4e lacked any real combat danger in my opinion. I miss save or die effects. I like my PCs not to only fear things through RPing but through combat as well. Not to mention the traps are just complete garbage the orb of annihilation rarely (never) even kills.

  • Math - While 4e has some pretty safe math number all that plus 10 and plus 1/2 level stuff is really stupid. It makes low level monsters, traps, and encounters unusable if you don't upgrade them. And lots of low level monster are the common staples in D&D.

  • Health - The entire health system bugs me. I understand a second wind and martial healing. I just don't like it as much as magic healing 

  • Multi-Classing - MCing plain sucked in 4e. A feat anda few class options? I mean come on! Please its really not even worth taking. It is just a waste of a feat IMO you get the least favorable aspects of a class and can only do one thing associated with that class. MCing IMO is the worst thing in 4e. I love the 3.5 way much much more.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

For instance, one can make an Endurance check with either their Con modifier or their Cha modifier.


"I'm too pretty to die"? 

Really I feel this question has been examined, at length, on these forums a couple of times before.  And it seems like everyone and their mother is currently working on a version of 4.5.  My advice is to search around a bit on these forums and dredge up some responses from threads on this topic and put the highlights up to discuss.


Alright then, riddle me these two issues that I've never seen come up in one of these threads:

1. I'm fairly sure that characters are supposed to use Second Wind frequently. Every encounter, even. I distinctly remember an early 4e teaser article in which the author describes his PC getting hit, using SW and then jumping back into the fray. But as most of us know, using SW is largely pointless unless 1) you're a dwarf or 2) you're somehow incapacitated but still able to use a Standard. It's a standardized power for all PCs, which creates another option for players to remember during combat, and another +2 to track if they use it...but it sees infrequent use at best. I just don't think that SW is pulling its own weight; it should either be more useable, or simply removed. Any opinions?

2. Strikers deal extra damage, defenders mark, and leaders heal; but what's the controller's thing? Controllers as a whole are a grab-bag of class features, only some of which actually seem to control anything. I'd love to have a shtick, like "one enemy takes -2 to attacks" or something, that I can define all controllers with. Any ideas?
1. Typically, Second Wind is used in conjunction with an action point, either to use the Second Wind, or use a standard action after using the Second Wind.  I, personally, would make it a Move Action to use, rather than a Standard.  Dwarves still get their bonus regarding it, though it's not quite so big of a bonus, and you can catch your breath and still do something elseful.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
For instance, one can make an Endurance check with either their Con modifier or their Cha modifier.


"I'm too pretty to die"?



More of a strength of will kind of thing. That being said I'm sure one of my players will eventually pull this at the table XD


2. Strikers deal extra damage, defenders mark, and leaders heal; but what's the controller's thing? Controllers as a whole are a grab-bag of class features, only some of which actually seem to control anything. I'd love to have a shtick, like "one enemy takes -2 to attacks" or something, that I can define all controllers with. Any ideas?



Good point. The controller one has indeed been by far the most ill-defined and unaccomplished of the roles in 4e. The initial AoE /minions killers resume really didn't cut it.
Back to the question:

Short answer: kill the controller role.

Long answer: I like to think of control as the ability to inflict conditions and states which affect negatively enemies actions and tactics. Also, unlike other roles, I consider there is no room for a pure controller in 4e, but this is rather a secondary function within each class, which can be made more or less relevant according to build choices: a fighter can provide control while defending, a warlock while doing damage and a bard while healing and supporting, and so on.


2. Strikers deal extra damage, defenders mark, and leaders heal; but what's the controller's thing? Controllers as a whole are a grab-bag of class features, only some of which actually seem to control anything. I'd love to have a shtick, like "one enemy takes -2 to attacks" or something, that I can define all controllers with. Any ideas?



Good point. The controller one has indeed been by far the most ill-defined and unaccomplished of the roles in 4e. The initial AoE /minions killers resume really didn't cut it.
Back to the question:

Short answer: kill the controller role.

Long answer: I like to think of control as the ability to inflict conditions and states which affect negatively enemies actions and tactics. Also, unlike other roles, I consider there is no room for a pure controller in 4e, but this is rather a secondary function within each class, which can be made more or less relevant according to build choices: a fighter can provide control while defending, a warlock while doing damage and a bard while healing and supporting, and so on.



I feel like everyone who complains controllers shouldn't exist haven't seen what hard-control can do to an encounter.  Tell Silent Malediction or Sleep (both of which are level 1) that they aren't a clearly defined thing.  Control is about being the opposite of a Leader.  Leader rallies your team, buffs the players and grants extra attacks.  Control neuters the enemies, cripples them with debuffs and denies them actions.

 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

I feel like everyone who complains controllers shouldn't exist haven't seen what hard-control can do to an encounter.  Tell Silent Malediction or Sleep (both of which are level 1) that they aren't a clearly defined thing.  Control is about being the opposite of a Leader.  Leader rallies your team, buffs the players and grants extra attacks.  Control neuters the enemies, cripples them with debuffs and denies them actions.

 



that's my point: a pure controller is either underwhelming or overpowered. In my opinion it's better off as a secondary function rather than a full time job.
but I do agree with the definition of control as it being the opposite of support. 

I feel like everyone who complains controllers shouldn't exist haven't seen what hard-control can do to an encounter.  Tell Silent Malediction or Sleep (both of which are level 1) that they aren't a clearly defined thing.  Control is about being the opposite of a Leader.  Leader rallies your team, buffs the players and grants extra attacks.  Control neuters the enemies, cripples them with debuffs and denies them actions.

 



that's my point: a pure controller is either underwhelming or overpowered. In my opinion it's better off as a secondary function rather than a full time job.
but I do agree with the definition of control as it being the opposite of support. 



The point is that a well-played controller is just as "overpowered" as a well-played leader is.  They just do it in opposite ways.  Really the only major problem I've seen in the controller is making their at-wills be crappy striker at-wills rather than having a lot of good control options .  If I remade anything about controller it would be to make their at-wills more hard-control and less little effects+some damage.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
What do you see as 4e’s core problems? What would you like to see changed?

4e's biggest problems were business and marketing decisions that contributed to its violent rejection.  The system itself has a lot of good stuff, and, again, the worst things are often how its handled (the CB going from off-line to on-line, the way errata was approached, whatever Essentials was supposed to be, etc).

But, there are some fiddly problems, and some emergent ones.  

One of the big 'problems' I see, as someone who likes to tinker with rules, is that creating a new class is an overwhelming amount of work.  Because of Powers.  The assumption that every class needs a unique set of powers all it's own is nice when you're playing a character - there's no one poaching on your schtick, and when you level up, you can page very easily to the powers that you get at your new level - but it creates a tremendous barrier to new classes.  You don't just need a new class with some unique features, you need hundreds of powers - each one of which needs, at least, a unique name (gah!).  4e could be made a bit less bloated, and a lot easier to tinker with, if powers were grouped by Source instead of class.  

A closely related 'fiddly' issue is Multi-classing.  It's just over-valued at 1 feat per power swap.  A feet to multi-class, then power swap as you feel like it would be better.  Ditto Paragon Multiclassing, far too much given up for what you get.  While a Paragon Path that worked thematically with a multiclass (like the Wizard of the Spiral Tower, for wizard-martial combos) is fine, though.

A closely related but deeper issue is that multi-class power-swaps can get a little out of whack when you swap /in/ controller powers to a non-controller.  That's because controllers are a bit of kludge, IMHO.  The controller role exists as little more than an excuse to give the Wizard better powers than everyone else in the PH (and the 'secondary controller role' to do the same for the Cleric, just with a smaller number of spells).  The fix would be, again, to group powers by source, not class, and instead give Controllers actual class features to cover their role - like say, 'metamagic' for the wizard, to expand the size of AE spells or add (save ends) effects to them.  That way a Warlock or McWizard could learn Sleep or Beguiling Strands without wondering "why would I ever take something from my own class?"

...

Hmm, what else?  Themes & Backgrounds.  These are neat ideas, but they should have been integrated from the beginning, as add-ons, giving you extra bonuses and powers over and above what you'd have without these 'options,' they added to power inflation.  Backgrounds were reigned in, but they lost a lot of interest in the process.  The general advancement structure should have 'room' for Backgrounds & Themes, that, can also be used for something else if you don't care to have a background or theme.

....

Then there's "the Math."  I'm not sure it's the all-fired problem it was made out to be.  So an Epic character hits Epic monsters a little less than an Heroic character hits Heroic monsters?  The Epic character has quadrouple the encounter and daily attack powers the Heroic guy had.  So an Epic Character gets hit more by Epic Monsters pounding his worst NACDs - he can also freak'n /come back from the dead/ every day - maybe more than once.  Maybe it wasn't so much a 'flaw' as part of the difference between low-level and high level play.  PC races don't normally have the power of Demon Lords and Ancient Dragons, it's not that strange that they'd notice they're facing /really/ tough enemies...


 

 

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1. I'm fairly sure that characters are supposed to use Second Wind frequently. Every encounter, even. I distinctly remember an early 4e teaser article in which the author describes his PC getting hit, using SW and then jumping back into the fray.

But as most of us know, using SW is largely pointless unless 1) you're a dwarf or 2) you're somehow incapacitated but still able to use a Standard.

(2)certainly happens, you get weakened or immobilized (lacking a good ranged attack) or blinded or a lot of other things.

It's a standardized power for all PCs, which creates another option for players to remember during combat, and another +2 to track if they use it...but it sees infrequent use at best. I just don't think that SW is pulling its own weight; it should either be more useable, or simply removed. Any opinions?

I think the all-PCs-get'em options weren't supposed to stay that useful for most characters.  Second Wind, at low level, when you find yourself down to at-wills pretty quickly in most fights can be worth it.  When you're higher level and your Leader has 3 encounter heals and maybe some attacks that heal, and a utility that gives everyone regeneration...  It's like Grab or Bull Rush.  Might be worth it when you don't have any powers that grab or immobilize or push, but once you do, not so much.  Another thing that makes SW - or any Standard Action heal - a bad idea is when the monsters are dishing out more damage each round than you can heal.  You haven't 'saved' someone if they're still going to go down the next time they're hit.  There's another 'math fix' that may not have been such a fix, afterall:  MM3 monsters do substantially more damage, which makes SW an even more marginal choice.

2. Strikers deal extra damage, defenders mark, and leaders heal; but what's the controller's thing? Controllers as a whole are a grab-bag of class features, only some of which actually seem to control anything. I'd love to have a shtick, like "one enemy takes -2 to attacks" or something, that I can define all controllers with. Any ideas?

Controllers have better powers than anyone else.  It's a very inelegant design, IMHO.  Like I said, above, my feeling is that it was done so wizards could have a shadow of their traditional (excessive) spell-power.  ("One enemy takes -2 to attacks?"  That's awfully close to a 'mark,' isn't it?)

Strikers attack enemy hps.

Leaders shore up their ally's action economy (making actions more effective with buffs, healing so allies don't loose actions to the 'unconsious' and 'dead' conditions, removing other less serious conditions, etc).

Defenders degrade enemy attack actions (by making themselves targets, and soaking them up like a sponge).

What does that leave for controllers?  


  • Attacking things other than hps - inflicting conditions, popping minions.  

  • Impacting enemy actions other than attacks.


I agree that controllers need to do that with class features, though, rather than with powers that are just bigger and better than others'.


 

 

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Short answer: kill the controller role.


See, I actually took the opposite answer in working on my 4.5 set... I killed the striker. Every class already does damage, so just doing more of it isn't nearly as unique a role as debilitating the enemy.

So I killed the striker role with the plan of normalizing the damage rates among the three remaining roles and then adding a specific controller mechanic to each of the controller classes. The skirmisher (ie. the martial controller) would get a distraction at-will interrupt that would give penalties to an enemy within range. By contrast the Evoker (i.e. arcane controller... long story, see below) gets an interrupt that creates a square of blocking terrain for a short duration (currently trying "until end of target's current turn" but may up it to "until the start of your next turn" if its not potent enough).

I'm also reworking the classes by effectively splitting them in two parts... for ease of discussion the "role" and the "fluff".

The roles are the specific way the class makes its attacks. The martial controller, defender and leader use weapons and exploits to do their thing, while the arcane ones use implements and spells to do their things.

The fluff is HOW they do it. The martial defender might be a Knight (improved armor) or an Outlaw (improved mobility) or even a Wizard (augments their weapon attacks with magic from a spellbook). An arcane leader might take the fluff of a wizard (i.e. uses a spellbook), divine investiture (a cleric), or might just use their innate magical powers as an an extra tool in an otherwise non-magical bag of tricks (i.e. a non-magical fluff choice).

Regardless, the main role of the fluff portion would be supplying the list of utility powers (designed for exploration/interaction rather than as in-combat buffs) that can be selected by the character and some minor augments to the role's abilities.

I've got more bits in my re-build, but that's what I've been working on that's relevant to the class/role discussion so far.
Really, the only thing I do is halve monster's HP and (roughly) double their damage output. Everything else is perfect.

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I love the general ideas on this thread.

I'm not well-versed enough with the math to offer hard rules for a 4.5e, though I do agree that I "sense" some of the problems listed here during my gaming (i.e. combat takes too long).

Maybe you ladies and gents who know the math well can all come to a consensus with a 4.5e, and list it on a thread somewhere.  Or has this already been done?
So I've got a fair amount of random tweaks to 4e I'd do... but most of that would be errata instead of minor version changes:

  1. Math Patches, and throwing away the relevant math-patch feats.  I think the main change element would likely be in changing where stat boosts happen.  "+2 to all stats" at paragon/epic would be pretty close to fixing the issue.

  2. Revive (and create a few more) +Striker PPs for striker base classes (read Avenger and Barbarian, with Rogues, Sorcerers, and Warlocks also making an appearance)

  3. Try and make sure controllers have some +Controller features, like strikers have.  This is hard, but required to make Hybrids work right.

  4. Fix up Hybrid AC issues (prevent double-dipping on AC features, but make sure everyone has an AC). Similarly, tweak armor proficiency rules to make it cheaper to buy proficiency if you somehow need more armor than your class gives you.

  5. Nuke every single example of a scaling modifier applying to a d20 roll.

  6. Other minor errata. (Fighters get one more trained skill. fer instance.  A "lunge" action.  Fix some infinite loops.  etc.).


My personal idea for 4.5 was more along the lines of expanding on themes.  Basically the idea is "You get N at-will/encounter/daily powers, see chart.  Those powers can be selected from any list you have access to".  Themes would have bigger power lists, classes would have much smaller ones.  Paragon Paths and Epic destinies would also have power lists, instead of adding fixed powers.

So you'd choose a race, class, and theme.  And from that have 2-3 souces for options for any given power slot.  At paragon you'd add a PP (or PMC to add a 2nd class intead, or maybe add a 2nd theme instead) and gain another source.  At Epic you'd add an ED to gain Yet Another source.  But more sources isn't more powers: just more choices to choose from.

Having played a fair amount of 4e, the thing from Next that does seem compelling to me is the flatter accuracy.  That's one that I'd consider cherry picking into a 4.5 if I could figure out how, while keeping any semblance of compatibility.  Most of the other changes don't appeal to me yet.

(Re: "Combat takes too long".  MM3 monsters, and let the PCs optimize.  If they have no interrest in doing so, MM3 monsters of some number of levels too low, while giving elevated XP for continued progress) 

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

If there is a role that should get the axe, it's the striker. Every class should have their extra damage alternate build, or better yet having it automatically built in.
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1. Typically, Second Wind is used in conjunction with an action point, either to use the Second Wind, or use a standard action after using the Second Wind.  I, personally, would make it a Move Action to use, rather than a Standard.  Dwarves still get their bonus regarding it, though it's not quite so big of a bonus, and you can catch your breath and still do something elseful.


Hey, great minds think alike! I've been using this very house rule for a while now, and while it's a definite improvement on RAW, I don't think it's really elegant. Giving players a choice between moving and doing something else goes against 4e's mobility-for-all philosophy. Ideally, move actions should only be used for moving. Also, I'm not crazy about that +2 until-start-of-next turn bonus.

For instance, one can make an Endurance check with either their Con modifier or their Cha modifier.


"I'm too pretty to die"?



More of a strength of will kind of thing. That being said I'm sure one of my players will eventually pull this at the table XD


Gotta love Firefly!
What do you see as 4e’s core problems? What would you like to see changed?

 
A closely related but deeper issue is that multi-class power-swaps can get a little out of whack when you swap /in/ controller powers to a non-controller.  That's because controllers are a bit of kludge, IMHO.  The controller role exists as little more than an excuse to give the Wizard better powers than everyone else in the PH (and the 'secondary controller role' to do the same for the Cleric, just with a smaller number of spells).  The fix would be, again, to group powers by source, not class, and instead give Controllers actual class features to cover their role - like say, 'metamagic' for the wizard, to expand the size of AE spells or add (save ends) effects to them.  That way a Warlock or McWizard could learn Sleep or Beguiling Strands without wondering "why would I ever take something from my own class?"


I like the way you think, here. I'm thinking that each controller should have two class features: one that expands AoE powers, and one that adds a minor control effect onto a single-target power. I'm already brimming with ideas!

Having played a fair amount of 4e, the thing from Next that does seem compelling to me is the flatter accuracy.  That's one that I'd consider cherry picking into a 4.5 if I could figure out how, while keeping any semblance of compatibility.  Most of the other changes don't appeal to me yet.


Flat math is easy, once you strip out +X items and the other math-puzzle pieces, which I certainly intend to do. It's easy to change "Add your level to attacks and defenses" to "Add half your level to attacks and defenses," or even "Don't add your level to anything." Laughing
I'm totally on board with pretty much everything kilpatds and Felorn said

Long combat is I feel, a topic in its own right. There's a lot to consider and discuss. In short, I feel it's greatest strength was also its greatest weakness - choosing the best course of action from a finite number of situational abilities was very tactical but often time consuming and particularly unsatisfactory if all the time you'd spent setting up your 'killer combo' failed because either somebody else beat you to the punch, conditions changed or you simply missed with a key ability.
(I suspect this is the biggest motivator behind Bounded Accuracy).

The Magic system. It's got great potential but we (my group) just never use it... it felt to me as though only half of what was originally intended ever made the press. I'm not going to get on my high horse about DDN, but on this count I can see (with teeth grinding) why it makes more sense to go back to the 2e method than fully re-work the 4e paradigm to where it really should have been.

On the topic of danger however I have to disagree strongly. This however is one of 4e's weak areas because it's one of the more intangible portions - almost totally reliant on the DM and his skill both in handling encounters and simultaneously telling a story.
Arguably, and with respect, it's just too difficult for many people to handle let-alone master. In some highly technical / power-gaming groups, it's just unwelcome. I don't think the writers (then or now) fully comprehended its significance.
'Save or Die' effects were removed as a core principle and speaking for my group, we were very happy to see the end of them - there were far too many situations where their significance was a surprise and would needlessly ruin otherwise fine sessions. I sincerely hope I never see them again.

Math again, I have to strongly disagree. It enforced clear (and easily modifiable / situational) scaling. I can't disagree more with the suggestion that creatures couldn't be scaled. Easing it to 1/3 levels might work quite well. It can't be too difficult to graph a suitable line or curve - the ultimate question being of course how much difference you want between levels. I think the current model of Bounded Accuracy goes much too far but I can see good reasoning for pursuing it - I think the reasoning on this issue needs much more consideration & discussion though.

The Health system was great from a technical standpoint, much of its goal was to de-emphasise the necessity of having one player / character dedicated to being a 'battery' healer. Particularly at higher levels though, the difference a dedicated healer makes is undeniable and very significant.
We experimented with some 'gritty' healing rules and found it made things more interesting but was quickly undone by having a healer around which of course led back to the old paradox of needing a healer but not wanting a battery. Personally I'd much rather see *some* hybridization of healing built into all classes (to a greater & lesser extent) and the 'Healer' role abolished completely - in fact an end to all static roles.
All classes should have opportunities (perhaps along the lines of 'stances') that allow them solid defensive and offensive abilities.

Multi-classing really was rubbish. It was a valiant attempt to address certain issues but I admit even my very first glimpse of it disappointed me. It's another area that had potential but pursued its goals single-mindedly.
A large part of the issue being that the foundations of 4e just aren't built to support a multi-class structure. They are built however to support more complete single classes and to more fully support hybrid aspects within those single classes.
 
Feats started out quite well but quickly flew out of control. Old feats weren't updated, new ones were often ridiculously overpowered by comparison. The entire premise supporting the use of feats in the first place fell apart in the face of cancerous power-creep.
I would seriously consider removing feats entirely, there are some good aspects to them but those are utterly overwhelmed by how quickly and completely the system breaks down.

Daily / Recharge seems interesting and well worth pursuing. I feel we're yet to find a satisfactory system that suitably grants players more powerful abilites but restricts their use. 

Racial Ability Scores clearly had far too much impact on players choice of race / class. This old anachronism definitely needs to go, no question.

re: creating new powers... yeah, that's a nightmare. I think it's (far) better to use a modular approach and create a pool of powers which could be 'customized' or perhaps more accurately, 'characterized' by slotting them into a given class / specialty / paragon path.
A power like Magic Missiles for instance is at it's heart a scaling attack that automatically hits a single target for moderate damage at medium range.
Each class might have 'slots' that expect a certain category of power, say a ranged single-target attack and the slot applies the Radiant keyword with the option for say, adding the Fear keyword at the cost of slightly reduced range.
Aspects like Damage, Area and Range are a function of the level of the caster (within the bounds of the power).

In this kind of scenario, the core of a Fireball spell might easily be adapted for say a Warlock for whom it functions essentially as the old Blacklight (of Unearthed Arcana 2e, yes I loved that spell). 
Evards Black Tentacles might be expressed as entangling thorny vines, other-worldly arms of green-glowing-goo or binding rings of holy light...
A low level character might use Meteor Swarm - a highly visual power that covers a large area, for (level appropriate) high damage.
A Druid casting it might make it a hurricane or lightning storm, a holy character might call down columns or radiance or a flight of empheral angels... melee characters though would obviously require something more creative or perhaps (far) more appropriately some restrictions, we don't associate melee characters with powers beyond the bounds of melee.

It might be a little tedious to do a whole lot of that by hand, but we have these new-fangled computerers now-a-days...
In every modern system I can think of, good design dictates that the core function be kept separate from its presentation, that complex systems use abstraction and modularity.

Having said all that though, what I envision entails much more than what would fit in the scope of a .5 update. Frankly though, this is what I had hoped WoTC would work on for 5e - as professional designers with dedicated tools and years of experience, following the direction established by 4e.
Er, of course 4th starts out as "add half level to X".  The overall scaling is 1/lvl, but only half of that is explicit.  Yes, that parts easy.

The less easy part is removing the other bits (Stat, Magic, feats.  Ok, feats is easy) without damaging the core of D&D: Killing monsters and taking their stuff to become more powerful.

IE, What's magic armor do now?

Maybe just scaling all d20 related stuff 1/2 lvl would be enough to get enough of the feel?  Dunno.  Certainly skill DCs can become a bit more static, if only stat and magic items pumped skills. 

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

Honestly, I've written this post out a half-dozen times already, so I won't go into it in full, but it boils down to:

Inherent bonuses, coupled with non-scaling interesting magic items.  You should never need magic items to be competitive, you should want them to be interesting.

Kill off a massive swathe of useless feats.

Fix the maths, ditch the maths fix feats.

I'd want to do bigger things (divorcing to-hit from stat entirely, being the biggest), and making power pools rather than only class driving power selection (pick a role (what you do mechanically), power source (how you do it), theme (in-world craft, job or trade, probably) and class (gimmick, basically, what makes the character mechanically unique.  Wielding two weapons, ranged weapons, magic systems etc would go here); each has a pool of powers you can pick from at the appropriate points).

But then, I'd be designing a new system with 4e elements, rather than fixing 4e.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
My perfect 4e?  Make it more like Ultramodern4.

I love it, the ladder system combined with lite classes make it perfect for me.

Also they take it in more radical directions with more move and minor action powers. 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

What do you see as 4e’s core problems? What would you like to see changed?

 
A closely related but deeper issue is that multi-class power-swaps can get a little out of whack when you swap /in/ controller powers to a non-controller.  That's because controllers are a bit of kludge, IMHO.  The controller role exists as little more than an excuse to give the Wizard better powers than everyone else in the PH (and the 'secondary controller role' to do the same for the Cleric, just with a smaller number of spells).  The fix would be, again, to group powers by source, not class, and instead give Controllers actual class features to cover their role - like say, 'metamagic' for the wizard, to expand the size of AE spells or add (save ends) effects to them.  That way a Warlock or McWizard could learn Sleep or Beguiling Strands without wondering "why would I ever take something from my own class?"


I like the way you think, here. I'm thinking that each controller should have two class features: one that expands AoE powers, and one that adds a minor control effect onto a single-target power. I'm already brimming with ideas!

AoEs do a couple of things for the controller role.  They create de-facto area interdiction, because enemies will start to want to spread out to avoid being caught in an area, which can hurt their ability to focus fire.  All-creature-targetting AEs have another interesting control effect, in that they encourage enemies to stay in melee with your defenders and strikers (not a great place to be), since being in amongst allies 'protects' them from indescriminate AEs - but, it also helps your melee allies concentrate attacks on them.  Persistent AEs - Zones - have obvious controll aplications.  And, of course, AEs are minion-sweepers.  

There are different AEs and different controllers could focus on a particular sort.  Wizards could be better at indescriminate AEs like the classic fireball & lightningbolt stuff, that carries with it its own de-facto control, above, even if the enemies just become /aware/ that you're a wizard, you start exerting that control before you even cast.  Druids might be particularly good with zones (all those walls and entangle and such).  Invokers have lots of enemy-targeting/ally-sparing AEs.  

The minion-sweeping aspect of AEs can even be handled with multiple attacks.  A class that can make more than one attack per round, with no more than one of them doing good damage, and no two against the same target is effectively a walking AE in that sense.  ;)

 

 

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Good thread. I love that 4e lives up to D&D's historical standard of malleability. 4e doesnt get the credit it deserves for being flexible; it is just as easy to houserule and tinker with as old editions.

Most of my ideas can be seen on my blog (check my sig). I like bringing classic-edition flavor and mechanics into 4e. Some of the changes I am most happy with include using a Morale system, new Henchman and Hireling rules, and my work on monsters in general, making them tougher to beat, but easier and simpler to run/design.

This should be an exciting year as the first issue of my 4e fanzine is almost ready for release. I am waiting on a few bits of artwork and cartography, then I should be basically good to go. I also am hard at work on some 4e stronghold rules to compliment a new 4e mass-combat system that will appear in the mag. Very cool stuff. Viva 4e!

If you just want to fix the math the easiest way possible (and don't want to try to flatten it out or anything like that), simply do this:


  1. Kill all the math fix feats (Improved Defenses, plus all the XYZ Expertise feats).

  2. Use Inherent Bonuses.  Change the bonus type from "enhancement" to "inherent."

  3. Give PCs an inherent bonus crit die per tier by role (e.g. Striker - d10, Defender/Leader d8, Controller d6).

  4. Magic weapons, implements, armor, and neck items grant a +1/tier enhancement bonus.

  5. Magic weapons/implements grant bonus crit dice at a rate of 1/tier.


The net upswing of this is:



  • Magic items aren't 100% necessary to be competitive

  • A heroic tier PC wielding a heroic tier magic sword has the equivalent of a current 4e math PC with the expertise feat and an appropriate magic weapon for their level


The two balance issues to overcome are adjustments in the wealth rules - what value do you assign a magic item when there's only one version of it per tier - and a slight inflation of AC value.  You can solve that one by not giving enhancement bonuses for armor, just the properties/powers.

You guys are losing sight of the question; what are the main problems in 4e that can be fixed, and have it remain 4e? (or 4.5, if you will)

1: Feat support. The feat list needs a complete revision. There are completely obsolecent feats in there, there are feat math fixes that would be more suitable to changing the monster stats, and there are feats that are either nigh-worthless or so powerful they are dreadfully obvious choices.

2: Monster support. A re-write of many monsters (I'm looking at you MM1 and MM2) to make them more updated and functional. Updated rules for minions (4@heroic, 5@paragon etc) and a revision to make minions not-quite-as-worthless for experienced groups. Rules for advanced solo monsters (boss encounters) that are not "let's watch the party lock down this crappy solo" encounters.

3: Skill Challenge support. The non-combat encounter rules are terrible. You know it, I know it, lets not even argue the point. As written, they are bad, requiring a lot of house rules or creative rule bending to be worthwhile. They need a total overhaul, and they need it bad.

4: Math support. A revision of the curve should be in there. If it's making the curve flat, if it's making inherent bonuses core to the game, keeping math-fix-feats, revising monster math to scale right, it should be in there. Generally speaking, at any level, without situational/power bonsues, an average character should need an average roll* (9 or 10) to hit an average monster - this should be true from level 1 to level 30.

5: Better support for Utility/Skill powers, non-combat themes, and non-combat capabilities. In short, stronger support for things that aren't directly related to killing things. Yes, a lot of this can be roleplayed - arguably, a lot of it should be. Yes, it is "Dungeons and Dragons" and not "Camping: The Accounting". However, rules to perk up exploration and discovery would be great. If that is a better supported skill list that covers more options, or if that is more utility powers that aren't there to support killing things, or a mix of the both, great.

6: Overall smoothing and balancing. Some paragon paths are simply mechanically far superior to others. Some feats are far superior to others. Some powers are simply far superior than others. Not everything in the game should boil down to crunched numbers on DPR (and DPR should not always be the prime representation of your character) but there are simply some choices you can make that are mechanically sub-par, offering bonuses to situations that simply never come up, or otherwise wind up making your choice a bad one. If all feats and powers can be rated from 1 to 5, with 1 being terrible and 5 being "you have to be stupid not to take it", then all feat and powers should be a 3, ideally (knowing that this is simply not possible, you will always have 2s and 4s that become 1s or 5s based upon your character build or other details).

I think these address the worst problems that exist in 4e that undermine its greatest strengths. Sure, getting rid of martial dailies would be great (imho), sure making multi-classing more functional would be pretty fun (imho), but really neither of those address a core complaint about 4e. I'm sure there are lots more gripes, but fixing those either require a totally new edition, an older edition, or a different game that is not D&D entirely (you cannot please all the people all the time, or so I am told by somebody important).

*What constitutes an average roll, and how often a player should hit a monster are easily (and without positive conclusion) arguable. My own guess puts that number somewhere between 7 and 9, but different people have different preferences.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

My perfect 4e?  Make it more like Ultramodern4.

I love it, the ladder system combined with lite classes make it perfect for me.

Also they take it in more radical directions with more move and minor action powers. 




The substitution powers are also very nice when you just want to hit something hard. 
I actually found ultramodern4 to be very badly designed options... maybe i have my bar raised way too high...
I actually found ultramodern4 to be very badly designed options... maybe i have my bar raised way too high...



Oh, it definitely made me appreciate WoTC's quality control on 4e. It does play alot better than it looks on paper though. And multi-attacking is somewhat reigned in due to lack of all the magic item boosters.

That said, the Vanguard class seems to be lacking a striker feature, which wasnt even addressed in its eratta.   
I actually found ultramodern4 to be very badly designed options... maybe i have my bar raised way too high...



Im not sure what you mean, while most of the ideas probably wouldnt make a WotC product, but they are quite innovative for the 4e structure.

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

My perfect 4e?  Make it more like Ultramodern4.

I love it, the ladder system combined with lite classes make it perfect for me.

Also they take it in more radical directions with more move and minor action powers. 



Dude, this book was awesome!  And yes, a sampling of this book would be great for a post-4e system.  Heck, get DEM on board

An undead spectre occasionally returning to remind the fandom of its grim existence.

 

 

Some good pointers for the fellow hobbyist!:

  • KEEP D&D ALIVE, END EDITION WARS!
  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Oddly, I don't find most of the other problems posted here to be problematic in my games; feats, class imbalance, etc., not an issue for me.

However, if I could change one thing in 4e, it would be to get rid of EVERY power that "lasts until the start/end of your next turn."   Don't give me a power that, if I hit, gives me a +2 on my next attack.   Instead, give me the +2 now for the attack I'm about to make and be done with it.

Way, way, way too much tracking in 4e for my tastes.   I can handle the ongoing fire/poison/etc damage, but I can't stand the '+2 to REF and FORT to all allies within 3 squares until the end of your next turn'.    All of those need to be gone from the game; marking-gone, aegis-gone, divine challenge-gone, quarry-gone, etc.

Here's a rule I'm trying to get my players to buy into:  once I tell you it's your turn, we start a 2-minute timer (I'd prefer 1 minute).   At the end of that timer, your turn is over, even if you have a standard left.  
Oddly, I don't find most of the other problems posted here to be problematic in my games; feats, class imbalance, etc., not an issue for me.

However, if I could change one thing in 4e, it would be to get rid of EVERY power that "lasts until the start/end of your next turn."   Don't give me a power that, if I hit, gives me a +2 on my next attack.   Instead, give me the +2 now for the attack I'm about to make and be done with it.

Way, way, way too much tracking in 4e for my tastes.   I can handle the ongoing fire/poison/etc damage, but I can't stand the '+2 to REF and FORT to all allies within 3 squares until the end of your next turn'.    All of those need to be gone from the game; marking-gone, aegis-gone, divine challenge-gone, quarry-gone, etc.

Here's a rule I'm trying to get my players to buy into:  once I tell you it's your turn, we start a 2-minute timer (I'd prefer 1 minute).   At the end of that timer, your turn is over, even if you have a standard left.  



So, basically screw the defenders of one of their most useful features. And a lot of Wizard, Warlock, and Cleric powers... Don't bother keeping track of it: only keep track of the effects affecting your creatures/characters at that time. Let the players keep track of what their character has going on. If you are running, assign tagging conditions to one of the players--speeds up most combat rounds very effectively.

Oddly, I don't find most of the other problems posted here to be problematic in my games; feats, class imbalance, etc., not an issue for me.

However, if I could change one thing in 4e, it would be to get rid of EVERY power that "lasts until the start/end of your next turn."   Don't give me a power that, if I hit, gives me a +2 on my next attack.   Instead, give me the +2 now for the attack I'm about to make and be done with it.

Way, way, way too much tracking in 4e for my tastes.   I can handle the ongoing fire/poison/etc damage, but I can't stand the '+2 to REF and FORT to all allies within 3 squares until the end of your next turn'.    All of those need to be gone from the game; marking-gone, aegis-gone, divine challenge-gone, quarry-gone, etc.

Here's a rule I'm trying to get my players to buy into:  once I tell you it's your turn, we start a 2-minute timer (I'd prefer 1 minute).   At the end of that timer, your turn is over, even if you have a standard left.  



So, basically screw the defenders of one of their most useful features. And a lot of Wizard, Warlock, and Cleric powers... Don't bother keeping track of it: only keep track of the effects affecting your creatures/characters at that time. Let the players keep track of what their character has going on. If you are running, assign tagging conditions to one of the players--speeds up most combat rounds very effectively.



I think you might have misunderstood me.   We currently play with all those things in.   I was merely speculating the kind of things I'd like to see gone in a 4.5 version of the game.   Of course the defenders would need something else to offset their loss, I just hate all the tracking 4e has.   It's really the only thing I dislike about this version.
Oh. Sounds more like Essentials versions of characters then.
I find chips/tokens very helpful for keeping track of everything. Then make several different sets. Maybe they would help.
My 4.5 Wish List (Without just moving on to 5E)

1) Combat Speed - Combat simply takes too long.  We've been conditioned by 30 odd years of video games and films to expect more fights more often with more enemies. That's fine, but 4e simply takes too long. Part of that is the breadth of powers at a PC's command, but the easier fix is to work monsters over.  1/2 general monster HP, but don't up the damage (Too much damage only encourages the 5-minute game day).  2-Hit Minions should be a viable option from the word go as well. 

2) Updated Character Sheets - This ones a personal pet peeve.  The current 4e sheets need a massive OFFICIAL overhaul.  We need a dedicated space for Themes. We need an area to list our attack tables by each power.  We need space to tally healing surges more cleanly. And so on.

3) Errata/Patches: Certain things need clean up and/or clarification:


  • Feats need to be culled. Useless outdated ones removed. A reorganization in both print and digital forms.

  • An Expertise Feat should be given gratis to a level 1 character.  Improved Defenses to all characters at Paragon. You know, the general Math Fixes without paying Feat Taxes, and without needing to change everything at a fundamental level. 

  • Racial Powers should be updated to reflect the "highest ability modifier" use. They should also be erattaed to correct their massive scaling issues. They are not powers that should fall to the wayside. 

  • Classes such as Bladesinger, Seeker, and Binder should receive large scale re-writes or errata to address their utter failures.  There's salvageable powers and lore behind them, but the core mechanics failed terribly. 

  • Beastmaster and other pet-using classes/themes etc need to be rebalanced to keep their pets more relevant and useful in battle. Mainly up their defenses and HP where possible. 

  • Alternative costs for Rituals, which at present are over cost for any group that needs them, or useless for groups that can afford them.


4) DDI Content: DRAGON should be reserved exclusively for new PC content. New themes, new powers, certain amount of prose, new races, Magic items (sans lore), and perhaps new Pre-made PCs each month with leveling plans and histories.  DUNGEON is for Maps, Lairs, Puzzles, and all that stuff that PC's simply should not be concerned with (like the recent Tavern creation article, how is that a Dragon issue?) Seriously, this should be straightened out.  There is also no excuse for their being months without actual PC content (IE: New powers, themes, or items)


5) Class Roles:  Some clean up needs to happen here.  A general improvement to each of the 4 roles could be dropped onto many of them without an issue.



  • Strikers each need an in-class MBA baked in

  • Defenders need an expansion to their punishment mechanics


    • I will say this one is mainly because the -2 penalty doesn't RP well, and their defenses really are not that much better than most other non-controllers.


  • Controllers need to impose some additional penalties (Universal Save Ends or Save penalties across the board vs Controller powers)

  • Leaders need ...something. Not certain what.


6) New Content: This is mainly wishful thinking, but: 



  • Finish the Essentials builds: Autumn and Winter Sentinels, more Virtues and Vices, other pacts for Binder and Hexblade, throwing weapon Hunters, Transmute Mages, and so on.

  • Arcane Archer subclass of anything but Wizard

  • Elemental and Shadow power sources expanded to additional new classes/subclasses.
    (at least cover all the roles, elemental healer, shadow defender and such)

  • More powers and feats for under used classes (Swordmage, Artificer, basically all of PHB3)

  • Continue monster race to PC race conversions (and some additional new races) and new feats for latter day races like Hengeyokai and such to make them more competitive.

  • More Themes (Pet Tamer, sportsman, ambassador, other fun professions)



Some Ideas from elsewhere in the thread I Like:


Fixing Magical items to be static and inherent bonuses added in across the board


Baking in Math Fixes or Nerfing monsters appropriately


Improving out-of-combat side of 4E, up to an including some major changes to skills. Definitely need dual sources for all skill checks. Too many are under/over valued currently.


Real 5E ideas like Power source pools for all powers. Erasure of daily powers (especially from martial).

I've only run/played four D&D sessions, and in the last one I decided to have everyone's hit points halved (monsters and PCs - I don't understand why so many suggestions in this thread only refer to changing monster HP). Combat was much faster and more exciting. If I still felt it was slow, it was because the DM for this game seemed to take a while going through all the NPC's turns, but I think that will improve with time.
it's generally assumed hat when you cut monster HP you also increase their damage, which ends up having the same general but transparent effect as lowering player hp without overpowering healing.

not only do your players not feel like they are getting something taken from them, it encourages styles of play and power selections you would rarely see in the early, padded-sumo days of 4E

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